Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thank yous and spring stitches

It's April! March zoomed by with just a single blog post from me--how did that happen? I try to post twice a month, but other things took precedence last month... More working hours on weekends, a long-overdue trip to New York to spend five days with my mom, a wonderful week-long visit from my oldest son. But, I have been stitching! Before I show you what I've been up to, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to each of you who commented on my last post or emailed me to congratulate me on the British Craft Award win. I couldn't be prouder to be a member of such a supportive community of needleworkers--we all celebrate each other's success whether it be for a new start, an amazing finish, or an unexpected honor! Thank you again, my friends--your kindness means so very much to me...

So, do you remember that sweet Prairie Schooler bunny stitched on black that I showed you in my March post? Well, he's all finished up and, I must say, I'm very proud of this one!! I made him into a little hanging pouch, filled it with some dried baby's breath, and hung it on the wooden knob of my corner cupboard. Oh, my--it just makes me smile every time I see it!! The bag is very small (just 3 1/2 inches from bottom to top (not  counting the hanger)--just my style.

Prairie Schooler bunny pouch

The back of the little pouch is a fun black and white polka-dot fabric and the gingham trim and hanger are cut from an old pair of slacks.  It took me an entire afternoon to figure out how to make this as I had never done anything like it before. It's not perfect (as I couldn't figure out how to line it), but it looks pretty darn good for my first attempt at sewing curves, don't you think? My ancient 40-year-old sewing machine rebelled, though, and it was all I could do to coax it to do "just a few more stitches, please!"

Love, love, love this little finish!

This next finish is one of the monochromatic designs from Little House Needleworks--Spring. I had the hardest time photographing it as it was a gray, dreary day when I took the photo. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. ivory evenweave so the finished size is just a bit over 3 inches square. 

Little House Needleworks Spring

For this piece, I worked backward and chose the floss color based on this pretty spring green piece of gingham I wanted to use (the gingham came from an old shirt of my husband's!). After auditioning all shades of green, the one that popped to the front was Anchor 214. Where I got this skein of Anchor thread, I have no clue as I only purchase DMC or overdyeds. It must have been a gift at some time or other. But, it worked perfectly for the fabric I had chosen! Here it is all finished up as a flat finish (the backing is simply covered with some ivory felt). I found a perfectly colored button and some green ric rak to jazz it up a bit. I'm very pleased with the final outcome...

A spring green finish

Here is another view straight on--I had a bit of trouble getting this one to photograph well. 

Little House Needleworks Spring--all finished up!

And my "A Walk In the Woods" sampler is inching along as well... I've added another line of letters and that gorgeous nest (which caused much anxiety as I kept having to rip out wrongly placed stitches time after time!). But, isn't it pretty with the lone egg resting there? My goal is to have this one finished by the end of April--fingers crossed!

It's growing!

Our spring weather here in Western Pennsylvania has been less than ideal. I think because our winter was so easy this year, we all hoped for a warm, sunny, early spring! But, that hasn't been the case... There has been lots and lots of clouds and rain. Luckily, all I have to do to get my daily dose of sunshine is to look over at my "yellow" shelf in my corner cupboard. I dare you not to smile when you glance at it--just look at all of the cute bunnies, chicks, and sunny colors. I love it! When I posted this photo on my Instagram page, there were a lot of comments about that little polka-dot bowl. I had just purchased that (as a set of three!) for a mere $7.99 at Homegoods. The other two are white with yellow dots and yellow with white stripes--so cute for spring decorating!

My cheery yellow corner shelf

March was my month to take in the treat for our department meeting at the library, so I spent a few hours in the kitchen making this plate of goodies. As you know, I love to bake, but with my three sons all grown and out of the house, I just can't bake as much as I used to when there were five of us living here. So, it was a real treat to put together this tray of Chunky Cheesecake Brownies and Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies for my very appreciative  coworkers. You can try baking some for yourself by clicking on the names of the goodies--I've linked to the recipes for you! Yum!!

Chocolate overload!

I really appreciate all of your thoughts on when to retire from my last post. I've pretty much decided that the end of 2018 will be it for me--right before I turn 64. But, there is a new bump in the road! My "new" boss who has been here all of one year, will be leaving at the end of this month... What a shock! Now we all have to adjust once again to a new manager and new ways of doing things. I'm getting too old for this! So, who knows... we'll see what transpires this year!

More advice needed... As I mentioned above, my old sewing machine (which was gifted to me by my parents as a college graduation gift 40 years ago!) is giving up the ghost. I have thought about purchasing a new machine, but the choice just seems overwhelming! There are so many bells and whistles now--do I really need them? On the other hand, I do hope to be sewing more in the future after retirement so I want more than a basic machine. Do any of you have advice for me? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!!

New Giveaway for this pretty chart... I have a lovely little Homespun Elegance chart which needs a new home. "Be Ye Kind & True" is from the May/June 1992 issue of "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" magazine. An oldie, but goodie! If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this chart from an old magazine

GIVEAWAY WINNER from my last post... There were ten entries to win the Nora Corbett chart called "Gathering Eggs," so I did a simple drawing and the winner is:

Congratulations to Jo! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible (although since Jo lives in England, it may take longer than normal!). I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by Jo
I hope some nice, sunny spring weather is finally here by the next time I post! Thanks so very much for visiting me today; it's always a pleasure to read your comments and emails...  Wishing you a lovely week ahead with lots of stitching time! Bye for now...  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bunny Stitching and a Big Blog Honor All the Way From Britain!

Hello, hello! And how are all of my stitching friends on this mid-March morn? March has certainly lived up to its "in like a lion" reputation for many of us here in the U.S, hasn't it? Wild winds, power outages (we had a seven-hour loss of power last week. Oh, dear--I'm afraid there was nothing to do but stitch!!), and the most beautiful snowfalls have been the norm for the past two weeks. It looks like a cold week ahead and I fear my oldest son, who is visiting from sunny, warm southern California, will never want to come back east. I did warn him ahead of time to pack warm clothes! It will be interesting to see if the month calms down and goes "out like a lamb."

My long-time readers know how much I love stitching rabbits; in fact, I love bunny stitching almost as much as stitching Christmas ornaments! The urge seems to hit me each spring and this year has been no exception. My first little fellow is from a Prairie Schooler mini-card and is a perfect example of the finishing part of the process taking almost as long as the stitching part. I forgot to take a "before" photo, so here is the little fellow in his finished form...

Pink and bunnies just seem go together!

For this pillow, I used 32 ct. white Jobelan and wanted a pinker house so I substituted DMC 760 for the suggested color. I've always loved the pink and gray color combination since I was young. I vaguely remember a pink-gray skirt?/pair of slacks?/vest? (mom, do you remember?)  that I just loved and wore with a pale pink sweater. Not sure that I've owned a pink piece of clothing since! (Oh, I guess I do have one pink/peachy sort of sweater!) So, I decided pink and gray would be the way to go for this as it pulled together both the pink of the house and the gray of the border. I cut a tiny white bunny out of some pink bunny-printed fabric and used him as my lower left corner square, topped it with pale pink ric rak, added cording, and thought I was done. But, something was missing... When I added the little polka dot bow in gray, it just pulled the whole thing together! I love it! And my vintage ceramic bunny seems to approve, too.

My next bunny is also a Prairie Schooler design from Book No. 52 "Prairie Year-Rounds." He is stitched on 28 ct. black Monaco with DMC threads. I changed all of the suggested colors and substituted DMC 223, 712, and 3364. Love his little pink nose and that flower he is jumping over.  I haven't quite decided how to finish him yet, but I'm hoping an idea will come to me and I'll share it with you next time I post.

Bunny finish from Prairie Year-Rounds Book No. 52

As you can see, a bit of progress has been made on my "A Walk In the Woods" sampler. Letters O, P, and Q have joined the party along with the prettiest little brown bird resting on a branch of red berries. I'm still enjoying each and every stitch of this one!

"A Walk In the Woods" progress

So, are you wondering about the second part of my post title: "A Big Blog Honor From Britain?" Well, do you remember (way back in this post from October) when I mentioned that my blog had been nominated for the 2017 British Craft Awards "Blog Of the Year" in the cross stitch category? I'm so honored and humbled to let you know--Stitching Dreams won! I was told by another nominee (my friend, Lynn, over at Happiness Is Cross Stitching) that I had won and then received an official email from Immediate Media notifying me, too. They sent this lovely badge for my blog and told me I will also be receiving a trophy and a certificate of recognition. A trophy!? I've never received a trophy of any kind in my entire life (although I did get a crown once when I was voted Homecoming Queen way back in 1972 as a senior in high school--ha ha!!).  So, that's another "first" in my life. Even at age 62, new experiences and wonders are coming my way...

Thanks to all who voted for me and to Immediate Media!

This award has so much meaning because it was chosen by you, my fellow stitchers--so a sincere "thank you" goes to each of you who cast your vote for my blog. I truly appreciate all of your supportive comments and emails over the past eight years that I've been blogging. They are what keep me going--truly! As I mentioned in my earlier post about the nomination, I don't blog for money or fame. I am actually quite shy and introverted, but I've always loved to write which is why I put in the time and energy it takes to create a successful blog. I'll be sure to share a photo of my trophy when it arrives--wherever shall I keep it?!

New Giveaway for this pretty chart... As you know from previous posts, I've been doing some housecleaning and going through old stitching magazines.  I'll be giving away one chart each time I post and this time it is for a lovely chart from Nora Corbett of Mirabilia fame called "Gathering Eggs" that would be wonderful to stitch for Easter.  Isn't she pretty with those giant flowers in the background and basket of periwinkle hued eggs? If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this old chart from a magazine

GIVEAWAY WINNER from the last post... Only a handful entered to win this chart (which surprised me, as I love it!), so I did a simple drawing and the winner is:

Linda, please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by Linda

Putting our lives into perspective... A casual friend died a week ago. She was someone I knew through my best friend's family and I would see her at weddings, bridal and baby showers, and get-togethers once or twice a year. In fact, I sat next to her at a baby shower in late November and thoroughly enjoyed laughing together as we watched a game of charades and discussed my son's upcoming wedding as she shared photos of her son's wedding that had just taken place in September.

And then, everything began to fall apart for her. Her symptoms began in January and just last week she became one of the "one in a million people" affected by a little known disease. It happened that quickly... I'm having a particularly hard time with her death. I think about her husband who just retired and had plans for traveling with her and about her two children and those adorable grandchildren who will grow up making so many memories without her in the picture. And about her elderly mother who still remains... At 65, she was just three years older than me and it really makes me reevaluate how I'm spending my time. Retirement has been on my mind for quite some time, but it has jumped much further forward since learning of her death... We need to try to make your days count and think positively--you just never know what lies around the corner, do you?

"I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe the best does."               --Anne of Green Gables

Thank you to all who are still with me at this point--I know this was another long one!  Here's to the coming of spring and better weather ahead. Although, I have to admit, there was a morning last week when I opened my bedroom blinds, glimpsed this beautiful snow, and actually gasped at the sheer beauty that winter can bring. It was like pure white cotton had fallen from the sky and covered everything in the landscape. True beauty... Wishing you all a beautiful day! Bye for now...

Winter's beauty...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farewell to February

February draws to a close... the shortest month--and the warmest February I can remember in my 62 years! It was such a delight to experience what I can only describe as "end-of-April weather" last week... Temperatures reached the 60s and even the 70s with plentiful sunshine.  It sure has been easier to get through winter with a week like that thrown in the middle. And just think, in three short weeks, spring will be greeting us! This really has been "the winter that wasn't" for us folks in western Pennsylvania--barely any snow, much warmer temperatures than normal, and easy-to-drive-on roads with no ice to worry about. Hope I haven't just jinxed myself with those words...

A new start... I've finally stitched a bit more on the larger sampler that I mentioned earlier this year so I'd like to share it with you. "A Walk In the Woods" by The Cricket Collection, is about half-finished and I've loved every stitch. I've had this in my stash for a while (it is from 1988--the year my youngest son was born!) and I'm so glad I'm finally getting around to it. I fell in love with the violet border and the shades of blue in the design. I'm trying to work on this one in between smaller projects, so I hope to have it done by the end of March--we'll see! After I've finished the entire piece, I'll share a few close-up photos of some of the individual nature motifs. But, just in case you're wondering, that interesting creature between the G and the H is a snail! First time I've stitched a snail--that's for sure! 

"A Walk In the Woods"

February Ornament... And I've finished my second ornament of 2017... This Prairie Schooler Santa is from the "Kris Kringle" (Book No. 62) and is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. Isn't he a fancy fellow with his hat and blue robe embroidered with holly and berries? And those swans? Love them!  I just never tire of stitching PS Santas--love everything about these guys...

Prairie Schooler Santa in blue

To finish him off I used the oval shape that I've become so fond of. I trace the ovals from scrapbooking templates (similar to these).  Adding some handmade cording and a simple bow finishes him off quite nicely, don't you think? I'd like to stitch and finish all seven from this PS booklet in the same fashion--some day! For those of you wondering about finishing oval or round ornaments, here are two excellent tutorials: Pinwheel Ponders  and the wonderful Vonna, our very own Twisted Stitcher I actually lace my ornament on the back after I've gathered the edges as Pinwheel Ponder shows. Give it a try--I honestly find finishing oval or round ornaments to be the easiest of all!

Another PS Santa for my Christmas tree!

I've pulled the threads for another larger (to me, anyway) sampler--can you believe it? What is happening to me? Am I abandoning my smalls? No, just trying to branch out a bit and stop neglecting all of the beautiful charts that lie patiently waiting for me to pay them some attention. Hopefully, I'll have a bit done to share with you sometime soon!

New Giveway for a pretty chart. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing some housecleaning and going through old stitching magazines.  I'll be giving away one chart each time I post and this time it is for a lovely chart from Catherine Theron. I love the blue house in this one and think I'll be stitching it myself some day. If you are interested in giving this chart a new home, just let me know in your comments. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this old chart from a magazine

Giveway winner from last time... I had 8 people who entered to win the chart from my Valentine's Day giveaway post so I did a simple drawing to determine the winner. And the winner is... 

Susan, please send me your mailing address and I'll get this pretty chart off to you as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it... And for those of you who didn't win this time--please keep an eye on my blog for future chart giveaways...

Chart giveaway won by: Susan L.

For some reason, we've noticed fewer and fewer birds at our bird feeders this winter. I'm attributing it to the mild winter and the fact that, without much snow, the birds are having no problems fending for themselves. But, I looked out one day earlier this month to be greeted by this sight! Do you think the deer are scaring off the birds? I had to laugh when I saw him helping himself to the birdseed--I'd say it's time we raised the bird feeder a bit, wouldn't you?

"Hey! Save some for the birds!"

THANK YOU! I really appreciate all of your kind words about my "bad day" at work that I described in my last post. Working with the public is tough as you just never know who will walk through the door and what their request or complaint will involve.  But, 99% of my library patrons are wonderful. Just to give you an example, I had a very elderly man come in the other day who wanted to see a map of Spain because his granddaughter was living and studying there for the semester. He specifically wanted to find out the location of Grenada and I promptly pointed it out and told him I had visited that very locale in 2011. He was surprised and delighted to hear that, so I told him a bit about the ancient city, (which just happened to be my favorite Spanish stop on our trip). He continued to study the map a bit longer and before he left the library he stopped at my desk and said, "I can't tell you how much you just made my day!" No, sir--you made mine :) Kindness counts!

So, on to March--windy, wild March. But, who knows--this year we could see warmer and sunnier days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!  Thanks so much for stopping by--I always enjoy reading your comments, my friends. Happy stitching! Bye for now...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February finishes

Happy Valentine's Day, my sweet friends!  Do you have any special plans for today? I have to work until 9 PM tonight so not much is happening here, but we tend to keep things simple on February 14th anyway--usually just a nice dinner at home and a sweet chocolatey dessert of some sort.

Can you believe February is already half over? I did manage to get a new little pillow stitched up for my Valentine's Day bowl of smalls and I think it's one of my favorite finishes ever. I forgot to take a "before" photo for you so here it is in its finished state. I recently began subscribing to the online version of Punch Needle & Primitive Stitcher Magazine and was delighted to discover that I have access to all of the charts from previous issues as well as this coming year! That's where I found this little beauty by Nikyscreations called "Be Mine."

Nikyscreations "Be Mine" finish

"Be Mine" is stitched on 32 ct. Putty Belfast linen with the suggested DMC colors. I did change the color of the lower right heart to match the upper one on the opposite side and used a satin stitch to fill in both.  I found a charm square of a marbled-looking fabric that perfectly complemented the thread colors so that was used as the little accent strip at the bottom as well as the backing of the pillow. The little heart charm was one I had in my stash and I thought it looked so sweet tied on with a wee bow in a bit of thread to match the cording. I think this color palette is a nice change from all the typical reds and pinks you usually associate with Valentine's Day, don't you?

Another gift sent... This green-robed Prairie Schooler Santa from Book No. 62 "Kris Kringle" is  now making his home with my sweet friend, Valerie, all the way out in California. I finished several of these Santas in this oval shape last year and have to admit, they are among my favorites! This bird-loving guy is stitched on 40 ct. natural Newcastle with the suggested DMC threads. I'm so pleased with this finish that I know I'll be stitching and finishing him exactly like this for myself in the future.

Kris Kringle Santa (from Book No. 62)

A near disaster... Well, that brings me to my ornament finish for January and a lesson I thought I had learned, but apparently hadn't! I loved this crow sporting his jaunty Santa hat the minute I saw him in the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue so I finally decided to stitch him as my first ornament of 2017. Using 40 ct. Sand Newcastle (a first for me--I loved it! The fabric's true sandy color is more accurate in the second photo below) and a variety of overdyed threads, he stitched up fairly easily (although I did make a few changes to the lettering--just a personal preference). I also added the two smaller snowflakes...

"Merry Christmas" by Samplers Not Forgotten

Anyway, it all began so well and I decided to use a black and white checked flannel (an old shirt from my husband--believe me, having had four guys in the house at one time, left me with a lot of flannel to add to my stash!). To this, I decided to add a thin burgundy colored strip of fabric and tuck a barely visible row of green ric rak in between the two fabrics. All went well and the little pillow was sewn and stuffed and ready to be pressed down to give it a nice compact look. I typically only use the iron on the backing fabric, but I stupidly tried to press the flannel portion on the front. Disaster struck! The iron accidentally touched the green ric rack, melted it and it somehow made it's way on to the linen just under the wording. AAAGGGGHHHH!!!

I flew into action and immediately tried to sponge off the sticky green remnants of the synthetic ric rak. Then I began picking it off with tweezers, which actually worked quite well. At this point, the ric rak that was peaking out from under the black and white checked fabric was half melted so my only choice was to cut it all off as best as I could. I then covered the entire area where the red and checked fabric met with a new line of ric rak which now meets in the back of the ornament. Not a bad save, eh? If you look closely, you'll notice flecks of barely visible green here and there, but I was not about to take apart the entire ornament and start over. If you recall, this wasn't the first time that my iron and ric rak have done battle... In this post from four years ago, you can see the results of a previous catastrophe. I hope I've learned my lesson, but I know I've learned that it almost always possible to rescue a piece from being thrown into the trashcan by using ribbons, trims, or buttons to cover your mistakes!

Saving a finish from near-disaster!

Another birthday gift... I want to thank my friend, Nathalie, all the way over in France for sending me a lovely package of goodies on my birthday. What a treat to receive this pretty French stitching magazine and  pretty embroidery kit with threads. Thank you, Nathalie--that was so thoughtful of you!

Birthday gifts from Nathalie

A little giveaway... I've been doing a lot of cleaning out as we are turning our sons' old bedrooms into proper guest rooms. After 25 years, all traces of the old green plaid wallpaper with its border of mallard ducks have been erased from my middle son's old bedroom. Oh, what a job! We had neglected to apply sizing underneath the wallpaper and it was a bear to remove, often coming off in only thin little strips. But, it is off and the room now has a fresh coat of a lovely pale gray/blue shade of paint thanks to my husband. Now to find a new bed (the bunk beds are out!!), dresser, chair and rug and we'll be all set for future visitors. Anyway, I had been storing my old cross stitch magazines in this room and so began weeding them out for duplicates and unwanted items. In the process, I came across several pretty charts that I thought one of you might like to stitch so I'll be offering one per post.

I thought this pretty chart would be perfect for a Valentine's Day giveaway and, as you can see, you can stitch just portions or the entire sampler... Just let me know in your comments if you'd like to give this a new home. This is just two pages torn from a magazine--not the whole magazine. If more than one person wants it, I will do a drawing.  PLEASE, PLEASE make sure to include your email in with your comment--I won't be trying to track anyone down if they haven't included their email address... Also, just so you know, I will be folding this up and mailing it in a legal sized envelope to save on postage.

I'm giving away this chart from an old magazine

On kindness... I had a really, really bad day at work last Tuesday. Problems with poor communication from another department that led me and other librarians to have to do many, many more hours of unnecessary  work on a project, a mean and condescending male patron doing his best to make me feel like an idiot, and way too many tax questions all rolled up into a gray and rainy day  left me feeling empty and defeated. But, at the end of that long day--a little ray of kindness offered itself up and saved the day from being totally bleak. A co-worker, one whom I work with every Tuesday, came up to me as we were getting ready to close for the night, and said she just wanted to thank me for always having her back, for always being there to help if problems arise. I wonder if she had any idea how much I needed her kind words at that time? 

It doesn't take much to make someone's day a little brighter... A simple compliment about a pretty outfit or a new haircut or a kind offer of help can go a long way and it makes such a difference. Even a simple smile given to a passing stranger... A dear, dear great-aunt of my husband's told me she always did her best to spread kind things she had heard about others and she was one of the most positive-minded individuals I've ever met. I strive to be more like her...

Thank you all for visiting! Thank you for all of your kind comments! Thank you for being such caring stitching friends! I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with at least one piece of chocolate... Spread kindness whenever possible--it does come back to you!  Bye for now...

Wishing you a day filled with love!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Another year older...

Hello, everyone! And here we are at the end of January--can you believe it? I hope the first month of 2017 has treated you well? In the middle of the month, I hit another milestone--I turned 62. Age 62, here in the U.S., means you are eligible for Social Security benefits. But, of course, I'll be waiting to claim them as the amount you receive increases each year until you hit 70. I doubt if I'll wait that long, though... still have to figure  out this "new chapter in my life!"

And there was another birthday this month--my blog turned eight years old on January 24th! During that first year of blogging, way back in 2009, my goal was to stitch an ornament (or small design) each week for the entire year--and I did it. Thus began my love of ornaments! Back then, though, I wasn't doing much finishing--and the finishing I was doing didn't look that great. Time and practice have improved my ornament finishing greatly! I've learned to enjoy the finishing process much more than I ever dreamed I would--and I'm so thankful to all of you fellow cross stitchers who have provided inspiration, photos, and tutorials!

So, on to the ornaments that I sent to my international friends for Christmas... Most of you will recognize this first one as a Prairie Schooler. This went to my dear, long-time blogging friend, Lois in Northern Ireland, who shares a love of Prairie Schooler designs with me. This chart can be found in PS Book No. 190 "Happy Christmas" and is stitched on black 32 ct. Belfast linen with the suggested DMC threads. I did change the color of his boots, gloves, and the door to DMC 844, however.  I love this finish so much with it's cheery checked fabric and little red jingle bells hanging from the cording--I know I'll be stitching it again for myself.

Prairie Schooler "Happy Christmas" finish

Another PS Santa found a new home all the way over in Austria with my lovely friend, Hilda. I'm sure he is very happy with his new life surrounded by those snowy mountains near Hilda's beautiful home. The Prairie Schooler Book No. 80, "Old World Santas," is where this chart can be found. I changed the red to DMC 221 (as I often do with PS charts that call for red) and used a 40 ct. flax Newcastle with some handmade cording and a simple bow.  I don't think you can see it in my photo, but I applied teeny Swarovski crystals here and there to look like snow.  Another one that I "must-stitch" for myself!
Prairie Schooler "Old World Santas" finish

My sweet friend, Gabi (no blog), in Germany was the recipient of this "Be Merry" ornament. I'm sure you all recognize this as one of the delightful chalkboard ornaments from Hands On Designs "Christmas Collection: Part I." I love these little designs so much--what I didn't love was the fabric suggested on the chart. It is designed to look like a dusty chalkboard, which is great, but it was way too soft and "flopsy" for me--I prefer stitching on a stiffer fabric with more body. I doubt that I'll be using it again... I think I'll be trying a simple black Belfast or 28 ct. Monaco for future chalkboard ornaments. I used the suggested overdyeds, but think I will just use good old DMC in the future as the variegation didn't show up enough to warrent the cost of the overdyed threads.

Hands On Design "Chalkboard Christmas" finish

And, surprisingly, I stitched three of the same ornament--I enjoyed it that much!! One of these little cuties was sent to my sweet friend, Cindy, here in the U.S., another went to dear June, in England, and the third, also sent to England, appears to have gone into hiding somewhere across the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, it never arrived. Sigh... That is the first time in all the years I have done exchanges, that something not arrived at its destination. Guess I will just have to stitch another! Anyway, the chart for this Little House Needleworks cutie can be found in the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue. I used 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle and a combination of overdyeds and DMC for this one and this is another I plan on stitching for myself (some day!).

Little House Needleworks "Snowy Day" finishes

There are a few more gifts that I also sent, but I will wait for the next post! Whew--I was very busy at Christmas time, as you can tell!

Ch-ch-ch-changes in exchanges... After many years of doing many birthday exchanges, I have decided to stop participating in them this year.  I emailed those I regularly exchange with and explained to them that I could no longer keep up with everyone and the deadlines were causing me a lot of stress. And that is not what stitching should be about, is it?  (I do hope to continue the Christmas exchanges, for now). But, a few stitchers snuck in little birthday gifts for me anyway, which I want to acknowledge...

June included the sweet January Calendar girl chart in with her birthday card:

Birthday gift from June

Cindy included a cute Lizzie Kate chart in her card:

Birthday gift from Cindy

And, Christina, sent me some darling fabrics (aren't the little houses sweet?), a new magazine, and a  little gift tag-making kit.

Birthday gifts from Christina

So sweet of all of you--I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness! My birthday was quiet this year as it also fell on the Monday that Martin Luther King's birthday was celebrated so there was no postal service and it was a federal holiday here in the U.S. Unfortunately, my library doesn't observe many of the federal holidays so I still had to work. The day before my birthday, my middle son and his girlfriend had me over for a wonderful dinner, cake, and flowers so that made the day very special...

I wanted to share a photo that I posted on Instagram last week... I mentioned that the only snow we'd been having in January was in the form of the "snow" in my little stitched pillows! We actually did get a couple of inches this weekend, though, which has brightened up the outdoors.   I'll be replacing these snowy finishes with something more appropriate for Valentine's Day very soon, but I'll miss them--they certainly have brightened up the corner of my kitchen during an extremely grey and rainy month. I don't know about you, but I'm very happy to be rounding the corner to February!

Snowy finishes in my corner cupboard

A bit nostalgic... When I realized that my blog's birthday was January 24th, I began looking through my posts from 2009 and getting a bit nostalgic. So, so many of my old friends from those early years are no longer blogging or have stopped stitching altogether. They've moved on to Facebook, Instagram, or different creative outlets. Or have simply disappeared...  I suppose it is like anything--people move on to newer, more innovative things... Old fashioned records were replaced by 8-track tapes, then cassettes, then CDs and so on. But, then records kind of reinvented themselves as "vinyl." Will that happen with blogs? Do you suppose people will miss the more personal contacts that this media offers, and return?  I do worry about the future of blogs... I have to admit, I love the quick and easy posting format on my Instagram account, but I so treasure the friendships that I have formed through blogging. 

Anyway, I'm ever so thankful for those of you who continue to read "Stitching Dreams!" Your comments and emails and supportive friendships are always appreciated... Wishing you a very Happy February! Bye for now...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christmas in January and a new stitcher!

Happy January! I have to say this has been the oddest January I can remember... While many of you are getting buried in snow in locales that normally receive little or none of the white stuff, we haven't had more than an inch. As I write this post--we have nothing on the ground--only green grass! We didn't even have snow for Christmas, which I always hope for. Oh well, it's made it very easy to get around, but I feel for the ski resorts, snow removal companies, and others who rely on snow for their livelihoods in the winter. It must be a very tough year for them here in western Pennsylvania!

So, how is this new year treating you so far? There seems to be a fair number of colds and flu going around the world from what I've been reading on your blogs. I'm always amazed that I'm not sick more often, considering what I do for a living and all the germ-infested things that I touch in the library on any given workday--the library cards, the computer mice, the keyboards, even the books themselves! But, so far, so good--I hope my good health holds out as it will be one busy, busy year for my family. So far, we have three family weddings (including my son's in October--can't wait!), my mom's 90th birthday in May, and our 40th wedding anniversary in July on our calendar. Lots of travel, but for such joyous occasions!

I've begun stitching a new mid-sized sampler, but don't have enough worth showing quite yet, so, instead, I'm going to share with you some of the Christmas ornaments that I sent to friends here in the U.S. There are still a couple of ornaments wandering who-knows-where in Europe and I'm beginning to worry as it has been almost a month since I mailed them... Oh dear! I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that they will show up at their new homes...

This sweet Hands On Design (from the "Chalkboard Ornaments Part 3" chart) flew across the state to my friend, Mary. I was so tickled with this finish that I know I'll be stitching it again for myself. It is stitched "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco and is so tiny that I had to scale everything down. I cut smaller leaves from felt than those that came with the chart, used a smaller button, and finished it with some miniature white ric rak. A little tip: when you finish an ornament, pay close attention to scale. If the ornament is small, use smaller prints and trims for a more polished looking finish.

Hands On Design "Silent Night" finish

Myra, in North Carolina, received this handsome gold Prairie Schooler Santa from the "Father Christmas" Book No. 43. This is the second time I've stitched this one and the second time I've given him away so the third time will be for me (greedy, aren't I?!). I used 40 ct. flax Newcastle and the suggested DMC colors in this design.  An oval finish with hand-made cording and a simple bow finished him off quite nicely. I never get tired of stitching Prairie Schooler Santas for some reason--they are just such classics.

Prairie Schooler Santa finish from Book No. 43

And my friend Robin, in Virginia received yet another Prairie Schooler ornament from the "Evergreen" Book No. 202. I used 40 ct. country mocha Newcastle and good old DMC threads for this finish along with a bit of lace and some little red jingle bells sewn along the bottom.  I so love that dove and peace is something we surely could use a lot more of these days... I plan on stitching this one again, too, but this time, on black!

Prairie Schooler Dove of Peace finish

Speaking of stitching on black, when I was taking down my Christmas tree last week, I was surprised to see just how many ornaments I had stitched on black... I posted this photo on my Instagram page last week and it was a big hit, so I thought you blogging buddies might like to see it, too. Do you know what my favorite is? If you guessed one of the Prairie Schoolers--you're wrong! Nope--it is the one right in the middle: "Five Golden Rings" by Cottage Garden Samplings. Are you surprised? I don't know what it is, but there is just something special about those sweet angels carrying the golden rings, that I really adore. So, do you have a favorite?

Can you tell I love stitching on black?

But wait! There are more!! A couple of my Instagram friends asked me about the PS Santa with the cardinal that they remembered seeing on my blog a few years back and I realized I had totally left out not just that one, but two others, as well.  The Santas were not at all happy with me and wondered how on earth I could forget them, so I promised them their very own "photo shoot!" Several people asked about what fabric I used on this trio... Well, these are each done on something different; the Santa with the cardinal is on 32 ct. black Belfast linen, the one with the lantern is done "over one" on 28 ct. black Monaco, and the Santa pulling the sled is done on 18 ct. Aida.

Three Prairie Schooler Santas on black

I wanted to stitch something special for my oldest son and his fiancée to commemorate 2016--the year they got engaged, and I thought this Little House Needleworks ornament fit the bill perfectly. I chose to use the green cording as I didn't want anything too "girly" since it is for both of them. I'm happy to say it was well-received and I hope to start a tradition of making them an ornament each year to add to their tree. We so enjoyed having her with us at Christmas--another girl in the mix was fun for me and she and my son were both a great help in the kitchen. They even got me and my husband out bowling on New Year's Eve, something we hadn't done since college over 40 years ago! (And, believe me, my poor aching body reminded me of that fact for a few days after--bowling certainly uses muscles that I don't ordinarily work out!). We won't talk about the score--let's just say I need more practice...

Little House Needleworks: "Season of Love" finish

A new stitcher! My future daughter-in-law expressed interest in my cross stitching and said she wanted to learn, too, so, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to teach her. It was just a quick lesson on 14 ct. Aida using two colors and a simple lady bug chart. I was so surprised to get this back in the mail earlier this week! Not only had she finished the lady bug on her flight home, but she added the heart and the wording all by herself... She says she has found "her hobby!" YAY!! Another young convert! I am so happy to see more of the younger generation finding the joys of cross stitching--it really does warm my heart.  I began stitching when I was in my early 20's and it has brought me so many relaxing moments. My 62nd birthday is right around the corner and I'm sure at age 22,  I never dreamed that I would still be stitching 40 years later!

First cross stitch ever from my future daughter-in-law!

And, there I go again with an overly long blog post!! I do need to work on that... I am just the worst procrastinator when it comes to sitting down and composing a post and then, when I finally do, I have way too much to share. Thanks for those of you who are still reading. I'll be back later this month with photos of the ornaments I sent to my international friends (and one more U.S. friend)--hopefully, they will have all arrived by then...  Thanks so very much for all of your wonderful comments--they truly make my day! Stay warm now and happy stitching. Bye for now...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thank you--one and all!

And suddenly, here we are on this very last day of the year 2016! It seems as if I only blinked and twelve months have passed... Thankfully, 2016 was a wonderful year for my family and I can look back with mainly smiles. Oh, every year has its share of sadness and loss; its disappointments and its "I wish I could do that over" moments, but I can't complain...  Each of you who reads Stitching Dreams, whether you know it or not, has been a big part of my life this past year.  Through your sweet comments, your specially stitched gifts, or your emails simply thanking me for my blog, you've made me feel special and I truly appreciate each one of my stitching friends! 

I haven't been stitching much since before Christmas, but I wanted to share with you today the wonderful  gifts I was blessed with from stitching buddies around the world.  I'll share them in the order I received them...

From June in England came a cheery ornament with the cutest pompom trim, some fabric, ribbons, a PS mini-chart, and some chocolates.
Christmas gifts from June

From Lois in Northern Ireland came a lovely PS Strawberry ornament, some ribbons, mints, post-it notes, a new Christmas chart, and a sweet drawstring bag.
Christmas gifts from Lois

From Cindy in Tennessee came a darling Friendship ornament, a beautiful project roll made by Faye, a sweet gingerbread man, a snowman ornament and some pretty guest towels.
Christmas gifts from Cindy

From Myra in North Carolina came two beautifully sewn pillowcases, a bobbin nest to corral my ever-increasing number of bobbins, some pretty fabric squares and the cutest cross-stitched themed coasters!
Christmas gifts from Myra

From Gabi in Germany came not one, but, two sweet ornaments on two of my favorite subjects: cardinals and cheery snowmen.
Christmas gifts from Gabi

From Robin in Virginia came a darling snowman ornament to add to my collection, a whimsical rabbit pillow in my favorite colors of blue and yellow, and two Moda charm packs to aid in my future finishing endeavors.
Christmas gifts from Robin

From Nathalie in France came a pretty striped wool scarf, some DMC  floss, a Christmas decoration and hearts, and some tasty white chocolate.

Christmas gifts from Nathalie

From Lynda in England came a sweet "Welcome Christmas" ornament with the cutest button/charms, some fabrics, a multitude of cotton threads, some lip balm and the cutest box of shortbread biscuits.
Christmas gifts from Lynda

What did I do to deserve such spoiling? Thank you all so much! I still shake my head in awe that I've "met" so many special stitchers through my blog. I feel truly blessed to have made such caring friends...

So, what lies ahead in 2017? I am not one to make stitching plans as I have to be in the right mood to stitch different things. I admire those of you who meticulously plan ahead and have lists and kitted-up projects that would last you for years. I have trouble juggling more than one project at a time for some reason; if I leave a project, I just can't muster up the interest in it when I try to return to it... That being said, I do hope to finish the With Thy Needle and Thread "Birds Of a Feather" sampler that I've had on the back burner for way too long.

So, my friends, I do hope 2017 brings you much good health and happiness. I so love the peacefulness of January and even enjoy the cold and snowy weather as it offers me more time to sit and stitch or read. It will be interesting to see what this year brings, but I'm so glad that I have you blogging friends to help inspire me, teach me, and enable me! Thank you all... bye for now! 

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!