Monday, April 07, 2014

Finishes and Fun.........

Hi all you stitchers out there, I hope spring is finally getting to most of you. I was in Illinois last week for a family issue and it was still in the 30's some days - brrrr!  Enough of winter already!  I was really glad to get back to warm Arizona.   Some of you may have seen the latest post on Laura's Maude & Mozart blog - we happened to meet each other when I stopped at a shop in the southwestern Chicago suburbs on my way to the airport to fly home last Saturday.  What are the odds?!?!?  I always enjoy Laura's posts about the ladies she stitches with at the shop and all the wonderful projects she shows us.  So I made time in my schedule to stop and see Laura's LNS The Inspired Needle in Lemont, Illinois.   I was there just a few minutes after the store opened and grabbing up some stash when in walked a customer who was greeted by the owner as "Ms. Duet".  Well I knew that was Laura's last name from reading her blog and we had emailed once or twice so I spoke up and said "Are you Laura?" and explained that I am a follower of her blog and mentioned my blog which she reads also.  It felt like the planets were aligning that we both happened to be in the shop at the exact same time yet we live in different states 1800 miles from each other!  It was so fun to meet a fellow blogger in person!   We snagged another customer to take a snap of us.  Laura hopes to get to the Phoenix area this summer for a trip to my LNS -  Attic Needlework. Hopefully we can meet up again - Laura it was great to meet you! 

Laura & Me at The Inspired Needle in Lemont Illinois -
two happy stitching bloggers!

I do have some finishes to share. I had fun stitching the "Forever Young" sampler from Heartstring Samplery with a friend - we did it pretty quickly and it was fun cheering each other on. I used some of my own thread substitutions and I did use just one thread instead of 2 in the greenery of the big fruit bowl as it seemed to let the "fruits" stand out a bit more.   This one is going to the bottom of the big framing pile for the time being because I have 3 pieces out being framed now and a few more waiting in the wings.    If anyone would like this pattern I will pass it along- just leave a comment stating you'd be interested in having it and I'll draw a name at the end of this week and send it to you.

"Forever Young" by Heartstring Samplery

It's been awhile since I've done much quilting but I had a chance to go to an open sewing day at a quilt shop near me a few weeks back.  They had a local quilt designer there all day and we had a blast - they were giving away all sorts of goodies all day and having raffles and it was nice just having an entire day to sit and sew again.  I've got a pile going of little stitched projects I am reworking/repurposing. Some pieces I just didn't like how they were framed years back or my skills had improved and I wanted to redo the finishing. I took 2 older pieces and put them on the front of 2 lined project bags I made. I really like how they turned out and it was fun seeing some old projects get a new life!  I also finished up a little pincushion kit I had picked up a few years ago in a quilt store - the quilt block is called "Arizona" and it came with a matching little charm.  It's stuffed with crushed walnut shells - lots of tiny tiny pieces to sew together!

I was getting in the Christmas spirit early this year doing a bit of finishing for a cyber buddy....I can't believe that we are the second quarter of the year already.  The top piece is mounted to a fabric-covered board to hang on a door and the other pieces were finished as ornaments.   I love all of them!

"Jingle as Ye Enter, Jingle as Ye Go" - design by Nancy at Victorian Motto

This is a little Prairie Schooler Santa finished as a flat ornie
(yes we have grass during the winter here LOL)

And I think these are Lizzie Kate designs but not entirely sure now...
I had grand intentions of stitching an ornament a month this year but my life has just been way too hectic. I did stitch this little JBW design which has been in my stash a long's a little too big to be an ornament so I think I'll make it into a little flatfold hopefully soon. For some reason this little piece seemed to be cursed, I kept making mistake after mistake after mistake.  I finally finished the wording along the bottom as the last part when I noticed that the chart has two different capital P's used for Plum and Pudding.  So I had to rip out one of them and redo that as well but it's finally done.
"Plum Pudding" by JBW Designs
stitched on WDW Cocoa linen with DMC
Now I have to get busy stitching on a present I'm making for my mom...

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Stitching away......

I'm still here and still loving my stitching.   I'm sorry so many of you are still dealing with awful winter storms the last month or's the perfect time of year here in the southwest.  I took time off work this week to entertain houseguests and attend 2 spring training baseball games.  It was wonderful being out enjoying good weather - we'll have  our bad weather this summer when the high temperatures get here.

I've been stitching on the Valentine Sampler pieces by With Thy Needle & Thread for awhile. For some reason that project seemed to take me a long time to do.  It wasn't only the stitching, there  was finishing work to do, the box to paint, etc etc.  Anyway, I'm happy to say it's finally finished.  I had a few of the Whitman heart-shaped candy boxes that are called for in the pattern.  You are supposed to paint one and mount the main stitched piece on the lid.  Well I got my box painted but I was a bit dismayed at how flimsy those boxes are and really there is very little room to fit in the stitched accessories and I'd already put a lot of work into them.  I decided to look for a better box so I headed over to Hobby Lobby. I was prepared to get any shape that would work but luckily they had a heart-shaped box paper mache that fit it just great and is very sturdy.  It's a bit taller than I wanted it but it worked out well. I lined it with music-themed scrapbook paper.    I changed things up a bit and did my own pincushion version using a few motifs from the chart and I made my needlebook with a snap closing and rickrack trim instead of the hanging buttons. I want to keep this set by my recliner and use it instead of just displaying it.

"Valentine Sampler" kit by With Thy Needle & Thread
stitched on Lakeside Linen Vintage Exampler linen

 The stitching accessories - folded sewing case for needles,  a pincushion and scissor fob
I also started a few new pieces in the last month.  I'm doing an SAL with a friend and we're stitching "Forever Young" by Heartstring Samplery.  Love the verse on this one which is from a song by Bob Dylan,  and also performed by Rod Stewart:
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and
  let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
  and climb on every rung
And may you stay Forever Young
You can see the completed version of this on Beth Twist's blog:   Here's my progress so far, I'm close to done with the verse and anxious to start on the bottom half of the sampler.  I substituted some of my own overdyed flosses and didn't use exactly what was called for in the chart but it's close.

I also started a piece for my mom from Little House Needleworks.  I grew up in a town in Illinois along the Mississippi River.  We used to go on the paddlewheel excursion boats occasionally although there aren't many of them left now.  When my mother was a young girl she spent several summers at her aunt's house along the river and she has always loved the riverboats.  When I saw this pattern I knew I wanted to stitch it for her.  Not too much to see yet but the boat is starting to appear and one of the two islands in the 'river' is done.  I'll be visiting my mom in May and want to have it done and framed to give to her then.

"Mississippi Riverboat" by LHN
I've been seeing some of the Market reports from various stitching shops...more cute items of course but nothing I didn't feel I had to rush out and buy.  Of course when you've got a room full of stash waiting to be stitched it sort of dampens the urge to get even more!   I can't think of hardly any of my charts that I don't want to stitch so I'm content to keep on stitching from stash for awhile.  I've got several projects kitted up and I'm so anxious to get started on them but I need to keep my head down and finish these couple of pieces first. 
I think I'm finally going to cave in and join Facebook...I've been resisting as I don't know how I'll find more time to spend on the computer when I can't keep up with all your blog posts.  So if you have any tips for me as to stitching groups I should check out please let me know!  
Hope spring is headed your way soon - thanks for stopping in!

Friday, January 31, 2014

New year, same old blogger habits!

Well my best intentions again didn't get me to blog any more frequently this month.  Just been way too busy with work travel etc but still trying to find pockets of time to stitch.   It seems like many of you are off to a roaring start for 2014 with old projects being finished and new ones started - I'm seeing great stuff out there on your blogs!

I finally stitched up one of LHN's Sheep Virtues...I had bought 6 of my favorites from the set of 12 published last year.  I dccided I wasn't that in love with the Dark Chino fabric - a little too dark for me and I prefer a higher count than 30.  So I finished up the one I stitched as a hanging pillow:

LHN "Peace" Sheep Virtue
stitched on 30-ct Dark Chino linen with mix of DMC & overdyed floss

I really like how it turned out but I have no place really for 6 pillows...hanging or I've decided I'm going to start over and stitch all 6 sheep on one piece of fabric that is lighter in color and has a smaller thread count.  They are fun to stitch so I won't mind stitching this little Peace Sheep again.

I also stitched up an older Just Nan piece this month called "Beach Roses". I stitched this originally years back and made it into a biscornu for a swap Becky Bee had her SBEBB exchange board.  I always wanted to stitch it for myself "someday".  Well...someday finally arrived!  I plan to make it into a needlebook for myself as soon as I get the wool I ordered for the insides.  I love the little stitched white shells and the 'waves' around the edges.

Just Nan "Beach Roses"
stitched on lambswool linen with DMC

I feel like I've been on a country-wide LNS tour the last several months. (my wallet sure has felt it LOL) For some fortunate reason, the 3 places I've had to go for work travel have been places with great cross-stitch shops! I got to visit House of Stitches in northwest Indiana, StitchvilleUSA up near Minneapolis, and this month I was sent to Tulsa Oklahoma.  Now you all probably know what's in Tulsa - the SILVER NEEDLE!   I've always wanted to visit the shop and when I was told I was heading for Tulsa that's the first thing I thought of.   I stayed over an extra day.  While my coworkers were flying back home on Friday afternoon I headed over to cross-stitch Heaven.  OMG - what a fabulous shop it is!!  I was there at least 2 hours and all the employees were just nice as could be.  Lucky for me, I had a generous VISA gift card given to me by my brother for Christmas so I shopped and shopped and shopped some more.  I bought mostly patterns and linen cuts - they have a wonderful selection of linens.  I took some photos of course so I hope you enjoy seeing a bit of the shop - if you ever get a chance don't hesitate but head right over there for a cross-stitch overload!

Notice the "Help Wanted" sign!  Can you believe there aren't stitchers
beating the door down to work there?
Mill Hill overload!  This wall of Mill Hill kits blew me away totally. I have
several Mill Hill kits at home but to see a stitched model of every kit was unbelievable! I wanted to buy one of everything.  And that's not even all....around the corner is another section with all the Christmas ones! 
I've been collecting several of the Christmas Village series but not stitched any of them yet. I don't want a bunch of hanging ones but perhaps I'll make them a bit smaller and do cubes.  And may I mention that the Silver Needle has the most fabulous finishing work I've ever seen - the workmanship on all their model pieces in the shop is incredible! 

 Here's the Lizzie-Kate section - fabulous cubes, stand-ups, etc.  Loved how they made these individual cubes and stacked them up for display.

They had a Shepherd's Bush corner, a LHN area, a Hinzeit wall as you can see above, and an Autumn/Halloween section you see in the photo below. And of course there was much much more.   I saw so many models that I already have the patterns for and of course wish I could get them all stitched after seeing them finished in person.
I fell in love with this new Brenda Keyes sampler and the pattern came home with me - it's "Sweet Humility". Love how French it looks. 
They had several knotted ornaments displays made from Teresa Layman patterns. I've seen some of her works before in person but not as many as they had at The Silver Needle. They are truly works of art.  I have a couple of her patterns but as of yet have never finished a single one.  These ornaments below were in a little glass case so hard to photograph but stunning in person!  They are made of thousands and thousands of tiny knots - see how beautiful the shading is?  Unbelievable.  The owner of the shop told me that a couple of Teresa's pieces were the inspiration for some Christmas stamps from the U.S. Postal Service. Well-deserved I'd say!

I'm going to close with a photo of CCN's Santa's Village they had on display in a case by the cash register.  It's done over-1 on 28-ct.  I have all these patterns and was going to start it this year on 36-ct fabric over-2, but after seeing this I had to change my plans.  Now I want to stitch it over-1 - this was an awesome piece - you can judge the size by seeing the owner's hand at the top.  
So you can see what an inspiring visit I had at the shop - just loved it.  I'm headed back to Tulsa next Monday but unlikely I'll hit the store bank account needs a rest LOL.  Thank you to my new followers and thanks to all who stop by my little cobwebbed corner of Blogland!  I just love talking stitching with you all.  Next time I'll have some finishing work to share that I just mailed off to a friend.  I'll wait until she has the pleasure of seeing them first before posting photos here. 
Until next time......keep on stitching!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting ready for Christmas and some finishes..........

I've been running around non-stop trying to get ready for Christmas. Can't believe we are less than a week away already!  Traveling for work 3 of the last 4 weeks really put a kink in getting any shopping done and decorating the house. Here it is Dec 20th and I have not even got out most of my Christmas cross-stitch pieces.   I did get my Christmas trees up the day after Thanksgiving before I had to head out of town to Minneapolis for a few weeks.    Since I got back I've been trying to do a bit of shopping each night.  I'm almost done now and packages that needed to get mailed are winging their way across the country.

It was tough for this desert-climate girl to get used to below-zero temperatures and snow in Minnesota but I made it through. I don't mind the snow too much but the bitter cold and having to warm up the car, scrape the windshield and all - no, I didn't enjoy that!  I was glad to get home to sunny and warm Arizona.  (It's actually raining today but it's been beautiful all week until today) 

While I was in Minneapolis I did get to see some relatives and I made a quick visit to Stitchville USA before catching my plane home. They moved to a new location since my visit about a year ago - what fun it was to see it all - so overwhelming! I've never seen a shop with such a fantastic linen and fabric selection - I picked up a few colored linens but didn't get too carried away this time. 

I do have a few finishes to share that I've gotten done in the past month or two.   Just didn't have time to post about it. Here is Halloween Rules - I had fun stitching this one, it was my TV project. I plan to send it off to Jill Rensel to have her do her framing magic sometime after the holidays.   I look forward to hanging it up next autumn.

Lizzie-Kate's 'Halloween Rules'
stitched on 32-ct Zweigart 'Stormy Night' linen with recommended overdyed floss
I also finished up this little holiday project below - couldn't get the color of the linen quite right in the photo of the whole piece but it was fun stitching in just one color for a change.  At first I thought I might make a cube out of it but I think it's too wide (16") for that so I will get it framed instead.

Imaginating Designs -  'Winter Silhouette'
Stitched on 36-ct Lakeside Linen 'Midnight' with DMC white
My favorite part - the little church in the pines (this shows the linen color more accurately)
I've been seeing a lot of other finishes of LHN Needleworker out there on blogs in recent months and mine is finally done too.  I just loved stitching this piece even though I made a mistake which I left in. (can you find it??)  It still looks good to me though. 
Little House Needleworks - 'Needleworker'
stitched on 36-ct Lakeside Linens 'Vintage Basketweave' with recommended flosses
Here's a photo of our mantel...I made these stars that spell out "JOY" back in November when I went to a quilting retreat.  The pattern for them made each of the pillows about 11" wide but I reduced the size and made them smaller.  They are done with wool applique blanket-stitched onto the fabric starts.  I added twisted cording to give it a little more personality.


Finally, here's some finishing work I did about 6 weeks ago for a stitching friend....a pincushion, a Christmas ornament and the lovely "Beggar's Night" from Threadwork Primitives. I love them all and was happy to work on them!

Hope all of you enjoy your holiday time with family and friends! 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Technology rant.....

I'm sorry but I just have to vent tonite......I'm ready to throw my laptop, iPad and smart phone out the frigid window!!  I don't know what my problem is but lately nothing seems to be working right for me and I'm very frustrated.  I've been spending at least 10 hrs a day working which is frustrating in itself as we are installing a large new business computer system at work and there are so many problems we are overwhelmed.  So my patience is already stretched thin.  I know lots of bloggers use Blogpress and I downloaded it some time ago to my iPad and iPhone.    I spent time putting a post together a day or two ago in my hotel room (I'm on business travel for 2 weeks).  Took some photos and got everything posted and when my post was published the photos weren't clickable.  The photos had been loaded to Picasa which is where Blogger stores our blog photos, but when you clicked on the pictures all you got were errors.  I ended up deleting my post.   Grrrrrrrr

Tonite I wanted to catch up on reading some of your blog posts as I'm very behind.  I notice that the checkmark to mark things as read in Feedly is gone darn it.  It could be because my husband updated my iPad recently but I'm not happy as I see nowhere to mark posts as read.   So I pulled up my blog on my work laptop figuring I'll just read some posts from the sidebar links I have on my blog.  We'll the version of my blog that I'm seeing on my laptop has a different order of blog feeds than what I see on my phone and iPad.  ???  What the heck is going on here....I have refreshed to make sure I'm pulling the latest versions and not pulling from the cached memory but it's still screwy.  Maybe I'm just getting too old and cranky to keep up with technology....I'm feeling like "Maxine" you see on Hallmark fact I'd post an image of her if I thought it would work!

Sorry for being such a sourpuss, guess I'll go watch some boring TV instead while I'm here freezing in cold & snowy's currently about 3 degrees!   Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who has these sorts of issues.......

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Project bags for sale on my blog

I finally had time today to get these posted on a separate tab on my blog  - you can click on the tab right under the header photo.  I made a couple of these for myself and really liked them to store my way-too-many projects in progress.  Then I made a few for a stitching friend and I got the idea that this would be a way for me to use up a bit of my quilting fabric stash.  I have way too much fabric!  So I've made several and thought I'd offer them for sale if anyone is interested.  I've sewn since I was 8 or 9 years old so they're well-made.  

My husband went off to help a friend with some work at his cabin this weekend so I'm enjoying some extra "me" time.  I've got China Beach season one loaded up on the DVD player...been waiting years for it to come out so I'm happy to finally get to enjoy viewing it again.   I'm hoping to maybe get a stitching finish in by the end of the weekend.   Hope your weekend includes some time in the stitching chair too!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Now where did I leave off??

Well once again my poor blog has been neglected for awhile.  Life has just been a whirlwind the last few months - I've had a family reunion out of state, work travel and a vacation to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday, been sick with a bout of bronchitis and generally just trying to make it through the days.   I've got more work travel coming up in November so there's not much rest in sight for awhile.

I'm trying to get a few blogs read each day - apologies that I've not been able to visit and comment as much as I'd like to.   I find that all the seemingly unending bad news is stressing's bad enough with the government shut-down, health care insurance concerns, and constant calamities we have to read about....but there have been 2 sudden deaths of people I knew at work in recent weeks, and we found out a friend of ours had passed away in August and we didn't even know he had been ill.   These things have all been on a mind a lot lately especially when I look at all the work stress my husband and I go through.  I'm trying to just focus on the important things in life and letting of some of the other worries go.    I know that many of you are struggling with your own personal concerns and I'm noticing again a lot of my favorite bloggers have been missing for awhile.  Siobhan over at Notes from Blue Hen Hollow, Katrina from The Needle's Promise, Amy's blog from Down Sunshine Lane, Margie over at Three Cool Pugs & Me, Teri at Chocolates for Breakfast, and so many others I miss reading.  I did finally remove about 15 blogs from my reading list that haven't been updated in over a year.  It's always sad when someone "falls off the grid".  I hope you all are alright and still stitching  and that you just have been too busy to post.  We miss you!  Did everyone go to Instagram or Facebook and not tell me?  I still like reading stitching blogs even with all the other social media available.   I think we're all just struggling with not enough time to keep up with everything.

There hasn't been a lot of time for stitching but I'm trying to get a few moments in as I can. I took some projects with me on my work trip but we worked so many hours that it was late at night before I'd have 15 minutes to relax and then I'd be too tired to stitch most of the time.  I did start on LHN's Needleworker and enjoying it.  I've always wanted to complete a grouping of stitching-related pieces for my sewing room someday so this will fit right in.  Here's my progress so far - I'm stitching it on 36-ct Lakeside Linen Vintage Basketweave - this linen has a hint of rusty red in some areas and goes well with the floss colors.  I  didn't want my piece quite as big as the chart called for so I switched to using 36-ct instead of 32-ct linen. Pardon the wrinkles.......

I'm still working away on Winter Silhouette from my last post and also started one of my With Thy Needle & Thread projects - the valentine box sampler which has been on my list for a long time to do.  I found the colors called for a bit too muted for me so switched them out for brighter flosses.  My camera broke and I'm using an old one I have but I'm having trouble working with it...time to look at getting a new camera I guess. I've always struggled with taking decent digital photos...someday when I have time I'd love to take a class so I can improve but this is all I've got for now!

I spent 2 weeks in South Bend, Indiana for work recently.  Although I spent 15 years of my life in Chicago and its suburbs, I'd never really been to "Michiana" as they call the northern Indiana/southern Michigan area.   I was working a lot but I had a weekend in-between the two weeks on my own and I drove up to a little town on Lake Michigan to stay.  I enjoyed visiting the lakefront, seeing awesome vacation homes along the shore and wading in Lake Michigan.  We were forced out of our hotel in South Bend anyway because the whole town and surrounding area hotels were booked up with rabid Notre Dame football fans for a home game that weekend.  I did get to go wander around the campus one day and was glad to get the opportunity.  It's a beautiful university that's for sure.

My feet in Lake Michigan...

Notre Dame campus......

I visited neighboring town Mishawaka, home of the famous Spinster Stitcher.   I passed a PetsMart store there and couldn't help wondering if that might be where Stewey gets his dog biscuits!     The best part of my trip was I got to visit 2 great stores and buy lots of stash!   I've ordered from website before but never knew it was based in South Bend.  I was searching on my phone for quilt shops I might be able to visit while I was there and up popped Ericas - what a great place it is!  It's mostly quilting supplies but they do have a small cross-stitch section and knitting, embroidery and other crafting supplies.   I got some great patterns for some bags, packets of gorgeous wools and some trinkets.  Then I visited House of Stitches LNS in LaPorte, Indiana which was only about 20 minutes away.  Oh what heaven!!  I've heard of this shop for years and years and finally got to visit it.  I think the ladies working there probably were wondering if I would ever leave because I spent about an hour and a half there ogling everything and pulling patterns and linens and asking about this and that. 

A few snaps of the shop.........

There happened to be 3 other ladies visiting the shop from out of town and all of us were having a great time shopping.  It's a fantastic shop and I spent a bundle of money as you can see.    Even though I have a LNS where I live, it's so much fun to visit another shop and see different stitching models and products.  House of Stitches has a wonderful selection of linen - the most I've ever seen, and it's just an amazing place.  I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to go.  Here's my new stash spread out on the table.........

I stopped in a little antique store down the street from House of Stitches...I'm always on the lookout for vintage sewing notions as I want to do a shadowbox display someday for my sewing room.  Well I found some old button cards for a dollar each and look closely at the top item - these are some sort of devices to hold your bra straps in place I think but look at the brand name - "La Jeanne" - couldn't be more perfect for me!

You know, at first I felt kind of guilty about buying all this stash. I have more stash than I'll ever get stitched in this lifetime and I certainly don't "need" anything....but that's okay!  I'm going to enjoy just having it even if I never stitch it.  I've worked full-time in a stressful profession for over 35 years and my stitching and quilting hobbies are my only real vices (well...not counting Diet Coke and nice soaps from Crabtree & Evelyn....)   I have no kids to send to college and if nothing else, some day someone will get some bargains on eBay or at the local thrift shops when I'm gone or too old to see to stitch!    In the meantime I'm going to enjoy my greed and revel in my stash.  I'm doing my bit to keep this industry going!

Coming soon.....

I've been working on sewing some project bags and hopefully in the upcoming weeks I'll have them up for sale on my blog. I like making bags and things and what I like about these new ones I've done is they have a clear vinyl front so you can easily see what's in them.   If they don't sell I guess then I'll have some gifts to give away to friends this Christmas!