Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summertime and stitching happiness...........

Hello dear we are again and it's summertime already. We had a beautiful and mild spring here in Arizona which is unusual and we really enjoyed it.  We're just starting now to get our hot summer weather.

My stitching life has been busy but happily so!  I went a retreat organized by  the Primitive Stichers Society (Facebook stitching group) in Colonial Williamsburg at the beginning of May - had a fabulous time!!   It was my first stitching retreat but not my last I can tell you that for sure.  I got to meet my cyber-stitching pal Cindy finally -we've corresponded and shared our love for stitching online for a few years now, plus I got to meet Faye of Carolina Stitcher, lots of other wonderful stitchers and some designers as well - Nan from Threadwork Primitives, Kathy Barrick  from Carriage House Samplings fame, Lori Brechlin from Norforgotten Farm, and Elizabeth Talledo from Dames of the Needle.  I felt so blessed to be able to go.  We had a finishing class with Lori Brechlin and a punchneedle class with  Kathy Barrick.  I must say that punchneedle was harder to learn than I thought it would be but with more practice I think I will be fine.   I have to master it as I have patterns and kits in my stash that I need to make!

Here's a few photos from the retreat.......

Here we are finally meeting after communicating online for 3 years -
my cyber-stitching pal Cindy and me

Our stitching table of friends - what a great group!
Designer Kathy Barrick (left) and me - a thrill to meet one of
my all-time favorite designers!

There's a wonderful store called Yankee Candle Village that was near my  hotel in Williamsburg. It had a fabulous Christmas store in it with several rooms of Dept 56 village displays - absolutely gorgeous! 

They even have a Downton Abbey buiding now with the Dowager Countess -
it's a good thing I don't have room for all this but it sure was fun to see it.

And speaking of stash....they had a fabulous vendor mall at the retreat and we all shopped 'til we dropped.  I spent a bundle but enjoyed every minute of it having never been to a stitching event like this before.  

I went a little crazy at the vendor mall but love all of it!

Here was the exchange gift I made for the retreat exchange that was held on the last evening of the retreat, plus a photo of the gift I received. I stitched Stacy Nash's "Spotted Hare Pinkeep Drum" and I  made some carrot pins out of Fimo clay to go with the pincushion. I got a great gift - a primitive-style pincushion mounted onto a lovely fabric-covered box.  I think everyone who came had a great time and I highly recommend it if you are part of the PSS Facebook group and get a chance to attend.  Next year's event will be held in Atlanta, not sure if I'll be able to go (a long way for this Arizona gal) but I do intend to try to go as often as I can.

In April I made a quilted stitching bag for myself to take to the retreat.   I found this great travel-themed fabric a year or so ago and it worked out great - I also made some coordinating project bags to use with the bag - it has pockets to store my portable light, magnetic board and stand, and I made a little travel tag to hold my 'business' card as well.  I'm very happy with it.

My quilted stitching bag with travel-themed fabric

Inside of bag with covered bottom insert
 and pockets all around

Coordinating project bags 

I've had a few finishes lately.  Below is the first project from the Colonial Gatherings stitching club I joined this year.   I haven't decided if I want to get it framed or make something with it.    This piece gave me a lot of headaches...nothing wrong with the pattern but I made so many mistakes it seemed like I was constantly frogging. GRRRRR  One problem I have is I like to use 36-ct linen but I find that using only 1 thread of cotton over-dyes doesn't give me the coverage I like, but 2 strands sometimes can be a little hard to fit in and tough to frog if you have to.  I really prefer one strand of silk on 36-ct but don't always want to do conversions from cottons to silks.  I started with the flowers on this project and after getting about halfway done with them I was unhappy with the coverage and I ended up going back over the flowers with an additional half-stitch of floss to get the coverage I wanted. But in the end I'm happy with this project.

"Hurt Not the Earth" by Paulette Stewart of Plum Street Samplers

I also picked up some framing don't laugh but I stitched this sampler 25 years ago!!  Yes, it's sat rolled up in tissue paper since 1990.   It even has my maiden initials as I stitched it right before I got married.   I don't know why I kept putting off getting it framed...somehow it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the pile yet it turned out much nicer than I thought it would.    I stitched this using Ginny Thompson flower thread which is kind of like wool thread - it was popular for awhile in the late 80's.   Funny framer called me and said she found a couple missing stitches in the border and she wanted to know if I still had the chart so she could see what color thread to use. Well I didn't have the chart but I still had the leftover threads even after all these years so I took them to her and she slipped in the missing stitches for me. 

Finally framed!   "Ella's Sampler" from Pat Rogers

Here is one of my current WIPs - it's "Hannah's Brownstone" by The Scarlett House.  The house took a long time to stitch with all the bricks and details but I'm loving this project.

That's all for today...I have a couple other items I'll save for my next post.  

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Happy Easter!

We're celebrating with Easter dinner tonite as we have some relatives in town who are coming over.  Thought I'd share my "lamb cake 2015" with you and a couple photos of some beautiful blooming trees on our block. We've had lovely weather the last few weeks and so enjoying it before the hot weather starts to come in  May.  

Due to getting ready to host dinner tonite and doing all the prep work I've designated tomorrow as 'do nothing" day - doing nothing but stitching and going out to dinner!  Should be great. I've been working on my gift exchange for the Primitive Stitchers Society retreat the end of April.  Amost done with the stitching but then have the finishing work to do.  Pardon the wrinkles, it's still a work in progress.   At the end of the retreat we'll draw names for the gift exchange and this is going to the one I'll be bringing.

Easter lamb cake

Blooming "orchid" tree

blooming Palo Verde tree

Stacy Nash Spotted Hair Pinkeep Drum

Monday, March 09, 2015

Ornament finish, some WIPS and Stash Sale

I recently finished this LHN ornament called "It's Snow Cold".  I'd seen a photo of one made like this on Pinterest last year and I was obsessed with figuring out how to do it.  The stitched ornament is mounted onto a plastic ornament with what I call a "flattened round" shape.  It's not totally round so you're able to glue the fabric onto the shape and not have pleats or wrinkles if you smooth it out.   I made one for a friend for Christmas but finally got the one for myself finished last week.   I've made a tutorial for this type of ornament finish on a separate page of my blog which you can access above.

I changed the charted colors a little bit because I wanted the stitched piece to match the cute snowman fabric I bought last year. The color in the photo isn't just right but the linen is a pale aqua color.   I'm glad I figured this finishing method out and hope to adapt some other ornament charts to this type of finish.

I've got a couple of new starts going.  This year I joined the Colonial Gatherings stitching club at the Dyeing to Stitch LNS in Virginia.  The first kit sent out is "Hurt Not the Earth" from Plum Street Samplers. It uses a quote from John Adams.  That darn Mr. Frog has been visiting me on this piece but I made it to the second page of the chart finally! 

I also am stitching another LHN chart - Old Nantucket.  I've been wanting to stitch this one ever since it was published a few years ago and I've had it kitted up for over a year.  It's being stitched on 35-ct Weeks Cocoa linen with overdyed flosses.  Not much to show yet but I'm enjoying it!

Ever since helping my husband clean out my FIL's house last year when he moved I've had the urge to clean up/throw out/organize things. I need to get rid of some of the charts I've already stitched or not going to stitch so I've added a separate page to my blog for stash selling.  I've offered some free charts you can choose from should you decide you want to buy anything (US sales only please, it costs too much for international sales for these small amounts).

Today was a good mail day!  I used up most of a gift certificate I had from Christmas to 123 Stitch online shop.  I got the rest of the 6 Fat Men series from Lizzie Kate, and some of that polka dot linen I've been seeing used for ornament stitching . Love how it looks like snowflakes.   You can never have too many ornament charts I guess!

I also got this cute Crossed Wing pattern - our first dog was a sable & white Sheltie who looked just like the dog in this chart.  Our dog Elvis has been gone since 2003 but I just loved this chart since I saw a model at The Silver Needle in Tulsa. I want to stitch it to remember him by.  

That's all for today folks, thanks for stopping in.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm still here!

Hello fellow bloggers and dear readers....I've neglected my poor blog for way too long but 2014 was a crazy year for me with family issues and all sorts of life events and things just fell off the track.   I'm trying to get back into some kind of normal routine this year and want to get back to blogging a bit more regularly.   I also finally caved in and joined Facebook last fall.  I've enjoyed joining some stitching groups but it does take some of my time.  However, I don't want to quit blogging so need to find time to balance both.

Even while not blogging, I try to stitch whenever I can and haven't lost my love of stitching at all.   In fact...I'm so excited - I'm going to a stitching retreat the end of April!  I've always wanted to attend one somewhere and since I'm a member of the Primitive Stitchers Society on Facebook I decided to go their retreat in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.   I will be taking a class with one of my all-time favorite designers - Kathy Barrick!  Woohoo!  I'm also taking a punchneedle class with Lori Brechlin from Notforgotten Farm.  Plus there will be a vendor mall and I'm getting to meet up with a cyber stitching friend whom I've corresponded with for a few years now.  I can't wait!

Here's some photos of what I've been doing the past 6 months...I'm making an effort to get through that pile of stitching items that need 'finishing'  - either getting them framed or made into a flatfold, pillow, etc.   I'm delighted that the pile is getting much shorter!

First up is this sampler from Heartstring Samplery which I got framed - this is "Forever Young".  I did an SAL with a friend and we loved stitching this piece.

This is also a piece I got framed in time to display it for Christmas last year - this is "Winter Silhouette" from Imaginating.  I wish I could get a better photo but the glass interferes with the blue color.  I display this one on a little easel as it's short and wide so works well on an easel instead of  hanging.

Below is a little project that I've been doing for a couple years now.  Several years ago I stitched this entire year of Shepherds Bush monthly-themed pieces ("A Year in Stithced") and I had a frame made that I rotated them in and out of each month.  However...I never really liked the frame too much so gradually I took all 12 of them apart and made them into little pillows that I could display each month.  I was so happy to get the last couple done in December!  I like them so much better this way so I guess it was worth all the trouble.

This is "Plum Pudding" by JBW Designs.  I made it into a little stand with a Christmas fabric border and an easel in back.  I'm using this method of finishing more often now that I'm gotten pretty good at it. I don't want to get every little piece I stitch framed - I'm running out of wall space and you all know how expensive framing can be. I'd rather put my framing money towards my bigger pieces.

Above is another easel-type finish I did.  This is Goode Huswif's 'Ida Mae Crow'. I stitched it a few years ago - it's out of print now but I suppose you might find it now and then on eBay.  I love how it turned out and I had a little crow I had made that fits right in with it.

This Halloween piece I made for a very good friend of mine that I work with.  As soon as I saw this pattern by Sue Hillis ("Yes I Can!") I knew I had to make it for her.  My friend loves driving a stick-shift car and she loves Halloween and witches. It couldn't have been more perfect and I found some great matching fabric in my quilting stash.  That's one good thing about having a large quilting stash....I almost never have to go buy fabric for something!

Just in time for Thanksgiving last year I finished up this cube of "Thankful Quaker" by Bent Creek.  I changed up the colors quite a bit in this as I thought there was too much brown. I basically pulled some pretty autumn colored threads from my stash and just stitched whatever color I wanted for the different motifs. I've done cube finishes before but I wanted to learn how to do the ones with hard sides that I'd seen modeled in a shop in Las Vegas.  I couldn't find any tutorials online for this type of cube so I just had to experiment but it worked out well.  I used several layers of foam core for the inside which I also weighted so it sits nicely and doesn't topple over. I used matboard on the sides plus I added some beads as little "feet" and a twisted cord trim on the front.  I'm glad to add another skill to my finishing list!

I've recently finished these 2 pieces below which I stitched as SAL's with a friend.  First is "Penny America" by Tree of Life Samplings, and the second one is "Trees of  Green" by Heartstring Samplery . I need to drop of Trees of Green at the framer soon but I'm working on a finish now for Penny America so that one won't get framed.  

I need to get through my blog reading list and catch up ...I'm been reading some posts here and there but still way behind.  I'm glad to see so many of  the regular blogs I read are still there as I enjoy reading about what all of you are doing.    For those who haven't dropped me off their list, I thank you!   I miss connecting with my fellow bloggers and I'm looking forward to trying to post at least a few times each month now. I've still got a little backlog of things to share and plenty of projects in progress!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Frankly my dear....

Yes you may recognize my post title as part of Rhett Butler's famous last line from Gone With the Wind.   I'm happy because I'm going to see the movie tomorrow night at a local theatre!  They showed the movie at theatres around the U.S.  last Sunday and again tomorrow  Oct 1st as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the movie. It's one of my favorites... even though it's nice to watch it at home on DVD it's not the same as on the big movie screen.  I've seen it in movie theatres every 10 years or so when it comes around...I remember going with friends to see it for the 50th anniversary back in 1989.  I can't get a decent photo of this framed piece below because I used regular glass on it but it's a favorite piece I stitched many years ago and hangs in my stitching room.

(This pattern is out of print but comes up on eBay now and then. 
It's "Scarlett O'Hara" by Charles Craft Designs.)
What else have I been doing?  Well for one thing I've been feeling sorry for myself seeing the massive number of finishes those Prim stitchers are posting on Facebook!   Some days I think am I the only one that has a job!  LOL   But I'm plugging away at my projects as I get the time.    Here's my progress on CCN's Frosty Forest.  I'm getting close - only 2 more blocks and the rest of the border to go!   I designed the border using a small motif from LHN's "Pinetop Lodge" - I worked with graph paper to make the design big enough and designed the corners.  I also modified block 7 (Snowgirls Cottage) to add a waterwheel and pond to it that I designed.  I thought this block as charted was too similar to block 3 (Snowmans Cottage) so I wanted it a little different.   (Note - sorry but I can't supply my charted changes to anyone because that would be an infringement to the designer's original chart).

 I also stitched up a little ornament that I now need to do the finishing for....I made one like this last year for an ornament exchange but wanted one for myself. 
Homespun Elegance - 2008 Santa ornament
(I modified the list to do the words in over-1
instead of backstitching)
And...I finally have a needlebook for myself!  I've been quilting and sewing and stitching for 30 years but never had anything nice to use for parking my needles. I've made them for other people but meanwhile here's what my needle storage looked like:  
Earlier this year I stitched Just Nan's "Beach Roses". I'd stitched it years ago and finished it as a biscornu for an exchange on Becky Bee's old SBEBB forum.  I decided to finish it this time as a needlebook so finally I can quit  using a scrap of batting for my needles.  :-)  By the way, does anyone know if Becky Bee is still cross-stitching?  I know she made her blog private now but I was just wondering.  She certainly contributed a lot to the online stitching community over the years.
 Front Cover....

 Inside view....
And that's what I've been doing lately.  Unfortunately we lost our dog Buster to cancer on Sept 19th.  He was starting to struggle too much and we just knew it was time.  We had tried chemotherapy but it didn't work and his prostate tumor was getting bigger.   My  husband and I spent an entire day with him doing all the things he loved before we took him on that final trip to the vet.  He swam and played in the pool, played ball, had McDonalds fries and a cheeseburger for lunch and even had ice cream with his 'sister' Abby.   We miss him of course and so does our other little's heartbreaking as so many of you know but he had a great life of 11 years we can look back on.   We'll never forget you buddy!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still alive and sweatin' through the summer!

Hello people and may I say a big THANK YOU for all you nice followers that haven't dropped me off your blog lists!  I haven't had much time for blogging this year and I had such good intentions.  It's been a pretty crazy year around the WillowTreeStitcher household so far and things aren't looking up either.  My father-in-law is 86 and it got to be time for him to move to a facility where he could get some help due to health and aging issues over the last 4 months.  My husband and I found a nice assisted-care facility for him in the same retirement community where he's lived for 15 years.  He's adjusting well and doing a lot better.  The good food, exercise program, activities and medical help he gets onsite have made a big difference.  Meanwhile we're spending every week-end  clearing out his house to get it ready to sell, getting his car and other possessions sold and taking care of his financial affairs for him.  It's been a hectic time.  Clearing out and sorting through someone else's home really makes you take a good look at your own house and things you should get rid of!  Husband and I aren't hoarders but you sure do accumulate a lot of 'stuff' over the years. My craft room alone would probably make a few people faint not because it's messy but just the sheer volume of it all!

Meanwhile, my job continues to be very demanding and requiring me to do business travel about once a month which eats into my time. I hope to be retired in a couple years and really looking forward to a slower pace and more time for stitching, quilting, and whatever else I want to do.  I certainly will never be bored!   Meanwhile I stitch whenever I can grab the time whether it's 15 minutes or an hour here or there. 

I finished up Blackbird Designs "In Full Glory".  This was a fun little stitch but took a bit longer than I thought it would - there's more stitching in this than you would think.  I have a lot of pinkeeps/pincushions already so I went diving into my quilting fabric stash and made it into a little mini-quilt to hang on a wire stand I had. (the stand is from Ackfeld Manufacturing)   I found the perfect fabrics in my stash and the little motifs on the blue fabric look like fireworks to me.  I like to leave my patriotic things out from Memorial Day to Labor Day so will still enjoy this one until September. 

Progress continues on CCN's Frosty Forest.  I'm starting to see people out in Blogland and Facebook who have finished the whole series since the last pattern just came out. I only started this project in May but feel like I'm making good progress and I'm having fun stitching it.  I stole an idea from another stitcher who posted in one of the LHN-CCN groups and I'm adding a border to mine.  I took a pine motif from an LHN chart called "Pinetop Lodge" and modified and expanded it to fit my piece.  Maybe when I'm done I'll sprinkle some 'snow' in the border as well.   Here's a few photos of what I've done so far....I think the block with the two young deer is my favorite so far - they're just so CUTE!  Since I took this photo I've started on block 6.

Once I got that BBD piece done I rewarded myself with a new start naturally!   I've had "Emblem of Love" by With My Needle kitted up for a couple years already.  My start seemed like it was cursed though. I had kitted it up with a beautiful piece of 40-ct Lakeside Linen's Vintage Light Exemplar and a silk conversion I got from my local shop. When I started stitching the fabric just wasn't working for me.  It was a little too orange-y or something.  So I started over on a piece of 40-ct mystery linen from my stash.  I got the first Quaker medallion done but wasn't happy with it - the thread colors seemed too dull.   Back to the square one again...I ripped it out and did my own conversion to silks (it's charted for DMC and overdyed floss) and started a THIRD time.  Thank goodness I'm finally happy with my choices.  The thing I like about Quaker samplers is you get little happy-dance moments each time you finish a medallion LOL.  Here's a shot straight from the Q-snaps.......

A bit of finishing work to share.....this little pinkeep was stitched by a friend and I did the finishing. We both think it turned out cute!  I just happened to have a piece of purple fabric in my fabric stash that matched it perfectly.   I forget who the designer is on this piece...maybe BBD but I'm not sure.
I picked up a couple Halloween charts a month ago when The Strawberry Sampler had a sale.   I just couldn't resist.   Aren't these fabulous?!  Can't wait to start on them.
On a sad note....our beloved dog Buster was diagnosed with prostate cancer this week.  He's 11 and the outlook they gave us is poor.  We are absolutely crushed and heartbroken of course....I know so many of you are pet owners and will understand the pain we feel.   We plan to make the most of whatever time left that we are blessed with...they couldn't predict any timeframe for us.  He's always been such a lively dog and still acts the same so it's hard to believe he really is sick inside. 
Thank you for coming in to visit for a few moments, I really appreciate each and every one of you who stops by.
Our beloved Buster