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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Still Stitching Away ... slowly

Whoa - it feels like it was just April and here we are, very close to the end of the year!  I can't believe that I never showed off my finished EMS Antique Sampler, especially since I actually did finish it before the end of the year - as in 2012.  I even got a cheery cherry-red mat and a frame for her, but I haven't gotten a chance to lace her in quite yet.  If I get a couple of minutes to myself one of these days maybe!  I am not placing any bets on that though.

Since the arrivals of my precious "smalls" I really have not had a whole lot of time to do much of anything.  I mean, some days during my maternity leave at the beginning of the year, I was happy just to get in the basics, like a shower, food, drink and bathroom breaks.  Somewhere around week 6, the girls actually started to sleep in shifts, so there was absolutely no breaks whatsoever.  Getting back to work was a piece of cake - all of you stay-at-home parents; I have no clue how you do it!  Good job!

Since sewing often is significantly faster than stitching is, I did have fun with my sewing machine and my piles of fabric.  I found a perfect freebie pattern and tutorial for this adorable Tulip Petal Sun Hat and managed somehow to swing a coupe together for the girls.  The hats are good sized, so the girls will be able to wear them for a couple of summers, I hope.  (Pardon the fact that Little Miss O doesn't wear any pants below...)
This is little sister, Lilla L.
Posing together!
I had a lot of fun fuzzy cutting out the fabric so that the birds would be lined up beak-to beak and tail-to-tail around the rims.

Other than that, not a whole lot of crafting going on at home.  I did start a new WIP the other day; Hillside Samplings Folk Art Sewing Roll.  I have finished the easy (and boring) border, so I get to start playing with colors now - yay!  I think that this will be a pretty quick stitch, but I am not sure here I'll find the time to do the finishing work...  :-)
I am still really lucky to have a group of crafty friends at work, so I do get to stitch for a while over lunch every day.  Earlier in the year, I finished up this Blue Jay Silken Wings kit from the Crossed Wing Collection.  They have a bunch of different bird silk & gauze kits available, but for some odd reason they are not displayed on their web-site.  I had no problem picking from quite a selection when I called Paula to place my order and she was happy to send them to me.  I am excited about stitching the other ones sometime in the future.  As always with Crossed Wing, the designs are just perfect - delicate, realistic and detailed.  The only drawback is that the mat-boards that the silk gauze has been pre-mounted to varies in color between kits, so they won't look like a unit if hung together.  I guess that it is always possible to mount on a different mat.

Lately, I have been stitching a lot of Scandinavian monochromatic designs. 
The Christmas bell-pull below was a fun stitch and is a Handarbejdets Fremme design.  I need to hem it and find some suitable bell-pull hardware, but that shouldn't take too long.  My favorite panel is the center one.  it reminds me of traditional Scandinavian embroideries on the ladies blouses back in the days. 

*Baby Break*

This is a recent new start for me - my very first wool penny rug.  This is a total cheat.. everything was pretty much pre-cut and ready to go in this kit.  The only thing I have left is to attach the pennies to each other and to the center piece and it's done!  Quick and fun!  Now I just need to figure out where I can display it where chubby, sticky fingers won't get to it... lol

These super-cute and small mono-chromatic Christmas pictures are from a Swedish hand-craft society.  They are pretty hard to come by, so my mom sent 15 of them as gifts.  The society gives out a new design each year and I believe that the first one was published back in the mid-60s.  The kits have the most generous amount of floss that you can ever imagine - you can easily stitch the picture 3 times over and I bet you'd still have lift-over floss.  So far I have finished 5 and I have started on my 6th, but I haven't kept up with my photography.  The plan is to make a red-and-white quilted wall hanging to hang in our entrance during the holiday season. 

The grand plan is that I'll finish (I guess I'd better start it first...) this kit I bought from French General, Mansion de Garance, and I'll hang that in the same spot during the rest of the year.  Grand plans, but a girl can dream!  :-)
Speaking of French General - I did also pick up a couple of Odile doll kits.  I have cut out all the pieces and embroidered my girls' monograms on the apron pockets.  One of these days I'll get the sewing machine back out - I can feel it!!!
Photo curtsey of Leslie Jane Moran blog.

Well, I'd better run, but before I do -
Happy Halloween everyone!
Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Christmas in April!

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I swear, I've have had all these Christmas photos uploaded on blogger for at least three months now, but I finally got some time to write a couple of words while DH is entertaining the girls.

I managed to finish up all the stockings on Christmas Eve and I was really pretty pleased with how they turned out, even though a lot of people can't really see the reindeer in the deer stocking.  Oh well...  The finishing was super easy (sewing machine), but I do confess that I did not use the instructions that came with the patterns.  I opted to use an on-line tutorial instead.  It is so much more easy to follow photos than words, don't you agree?  
The stockings were stitched the called for Caron Collection's Watercolors hand-dyed perle cotton (on 20-ct linen), which was a true joy to stitch with.  It is fun to experiment with large fields of the same color over-dyed too; you never know how it'll turn out until you are done.  If you have less patience with cross-stitching and are more skilled with sewing than I am, the designs are also available as applique patterns (check out this link).  
I really like SamSarah and if I had more time, I would probably tackle the perpetual calendar that she is designing.  I am not a big fan of stitching on perforated paper though.  I like to crumple my linen while I stitch.  :-)
Back to the stockings: I love stockings!  We didn't use them in Sweden, so it is one more American tradition that I am embracing in the fullest!  I love all the BOAF stockings and I will find out a reason to stitch them sooner or later as well (Special Delivery and Snow Day can be checked out here and here are Angel of Peace and Wish Upon a Star.  
And one can always dream.... Mary Beale's stockings (insert dreamy sigh here):
I love Mary Beale's designs and she is yet another designer that I have stitched way too few pieces from!   (The first 3 pics taken from Mary Beale's Gallery and journal, the 4th from Loudoun Sampler Guild, the 5th from Plum Street Samplers blog, and the last photo from The Life of Miss Pants blog.)

Over "Christmas break", I did also work some more on trying to finish up my Blackwork Angels and Starry Night ornies.  I got this idea for a new way of finishing in my head that took a while for me to get up the courage to test out.  I am doing the classic rectangle using cardboard, but I am doing two "backing" pieces that are slightly larger than the stitched design.,  The thought is that the "front backing" will frame the design.  I think that it'll end up looking great, but it takes a lot of cardboard, backing fabric, batting and thread to finish all of them.

After I am done with these, I'll try to start stitching PS' Redwork Santas and maybe even Cranberry Christmas.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the sparse coloring that PS uses, even though I am a little less in love with the green/red combination of the Santas than I am with the black/blue/gold of the angels.

One set of ornaments that I did not have time to finish was the baby Christmas name plaques. I really like how they turned out and I have even been thinking about making a few more from the other PS alphabets.  (I wish that I had picked a khaki linen instead of a white one, since I had to switch the white details, such as the angel's wings and Santa's beard to grey in order for it to show up.  Next time, I guess...)
If you haven't seen it yet, you have to check out the little banner that Amy stitched for her grand daughter.  How adorable is this!?  She even has some finishing tips on her blog, here!

So, since this is a Christmas themed post, here is a photo of Scrappy, enjoying the Christmas decorations.
I also have to show off these small and totally adorable boxes that I picked up at Michaels.  I use them to keep ornaments and finishing supplies organized.  One of them contains the PS Xmas ornies and the other one is packed full of the CEC Thanksgiving acorns.  One of these days I will finish them all!  :-)

Before I log off, I just have to post a couple of photos of my baby girls.  As you can see, they like bath time!  They are 4 months and 1 week old today and I am still in heaven (and still exhausted!).  I started working again a few weeks back and I promise that I have never found work as relaxing as I do now.  When Monday rolls around, I am ready for a break!  LOL
Well, take care everyone and I hope that you get a lot more stitching in than I do!
Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stitch Retreat & Class with Lauren Sauer

Finally - here is the first post about needlework, you know the ones that I have been promising to share for an eternity - or at least since September last year.  :-)
Back in October, a quartet of us ladies pulled off the annual Tiara Retreat at Higher Ground Conference Center, Indiana. 
We had a good time planning the event - the part that is always the most fun is planning the give-aways and the door prizes.  I stitched up a couple of pillows with a pattern that Big Dog found.  The pattern is pretty much as made specifically for our little group; Oops, I Dropped My Tiara by Bobbie Ashley.  I enjoyed myself picking out the linen, floss colors and beads.  I chose the Williamsburg Sampler fabric from Windham Fabrics.
I stitched up and finished one girlie pink pillow and one in pale lavender.  If I had started this little project on time, I would have finished the edges with something sparkly-glitzy, but as always I was running late...  I was lucky to finish these on time as it was!  If I get the time end energy, I might even stitch up one for myself one of these days.
Bzz*Bzz Bee and another lady made a couple of super-sweet gifts for all the participants!  As you can see, we have a mason jar made into a fall pincushion with the help of apple print fabric and the jar contains a fabulous home-made soap.  The other gift was a full kit with an very pretty original design to be stitched in rich fall colors. 
We do also frequently enjoy exchanges of smalls and such on our retreats & meets.  This year we decided to make a "whatever you want" theme, where people got to pick whether they wanted to stitch a fall theme, or maybe a Thanksgiving or Halloween themed small. 
Since I have been getting more and more enthralled with Just Nan, I decided to stitch this sweet little pocket designed to hold an owl thread winder.  (I learned that the thread winder is stamped, so the back is nothing but a "hollow" surface.  Maybe not the best quality item to wind thread around, since the edges seemed a bit sharp.)  I did have some trouble with the cardboard that was included for the pocket to be mounted around.  I seem to recall that it was too small, so I believe that I cut some mat board to a better fit instead.  As always with Just Nan - a fun stitch, pretty quick, with about a million color changes!  :-)

-  A quickie insert here!  Speaking of Just Nan - have you seen her new series with gingerbread critters?  After scouring the Internet, I was lucky enough to get hold of the mouse right before Christmas.  I found a decent color scrap of linen in the linen box at home and I did even get a little bit stitched before the girls started to take more of my time.  I hate to waste linen, so I decided to stitch up the mouse three times.  Two of them will have to do without the fancy tail included in the chart pack.  I am really impressed with Just Nan - how does she keep coming up with all her adorable ideas?  I especially like her 3D designs; they are just so clever.
As you may already know, three more gingerbread critters are to be released during this year, with the next one being an adorable bunny.  Silverneedle has an auto-ship sign-up for the remaining critters and you can get the linen cuts through them as well (scroll down on this page to check it out).  -
All right, so back to the retreat!  I got really lucky in the exchange.  A couple of ladies had decided to make "surprise" their theme, and I decided to take a chance and go for it (we made the exchange a "brown paper bag exchange" with the theme written on the top of the bags.).  I got this adorable needlebook and scissors-fob (scissors included!) set - how sweet are they!?  They are stitched on 40-count, I guess, and the stitches are tiny!  I just love the colors - my jaw literally dropped in joy when I opened my brown paper bag.  And the scissors are awesome - I use them all the time now.

A few weeks after the fall retreat, in early November, I drove up to Cleveland for a wonderful weekend.  It started off with a fabulous class with Lauren Sauer at Rose's.  We got to learn about and stitch Lauren's latest wonder, the exquisite (and very, very long) band sampler "Mistress L's Sampler of Bands, Emblems, and Motifs".  Lauren mentioned in class that she just kept designing until she ran out of space on her linen cut. 
Here is a close-up of Lauren's initials - don't you just love the colors!?
A couple of additional views - both of the sampler itself and Rose, Lauren and me.  Check out my impressive belly - and keep in mind that in this photo, I still had over another month to go....  
Lauren treated us all by opening up a shop with her high quality and sought after kits.  It was hard not to run amok in the store.  I got the very pretty Drawstring Beach Bag kit (I am a sucker for black-work) and a fairly new design, Anniversary Roses, which is another gorgeous band sampler kit. You can see Rose's finished sampler here, if you'd like to take a peak (8th photo from the top - Rose got Western Reserve Sampler Guild's Members' Choice Award First Place for her finished sampler - belated congrats on your win, Rose!!!).
 Lauren is one of the sweetest ladies you'll ever meet (as are all the ladies that I have met at Rose's).  I have probably mentioned before that the first time I met Lauren (and the only time, up until this class), was back in 2007 at CON.  When she learned that I was Swedish, she sent me her Lucy design as a gift a few weeks after the class.  Such an incredibly thoughtful gift.  Lauren has Swedish heritage as well, so that was a real neat connection.
This time, she spoiled me again with the Mister Snow companion piece - can you believe how generous she is!?  I can't wait to stitch them up.  I would love to finish them as stand-ups, if possible.  I may pick a lower count linen, to make them a bit larger and they can stand and guard our Christmas tree! If I could only find a stitch store that sells time and I would be all set! 
After class, my MIL and SIL treated me to a fab family baby-shower!  This is an even more special treat for me , since we don't do showers in Sweden - when all was said and done, I had gotten three showers!  The theme for the shower was Sweet Peas and the decorations were so pretty!  SIL painted these wooden letters - aren't they precious?
Here are a few on the ladies with SIL on the far left and Grandma-In-Law in the front.  Cousin Kelly next to SIL had a baby just a few weeks after I had mine.  These are the first great grand-babies on this side of DH's family.  This is a great bunch of chicks to hang out with - they are absolutely crazy and some of them have a knack for saying things that make even me blush.... totally hilarious!
Check out the decorations!!!
 And check out the loot!!!  We did almost not get all of the stuff into my pretty sizable car when I was ready to drive back home.  I am probably the most spoiled mom ever!

And just for fun - this is DH and me exactly one month before the arrival of the twins - pretty impressive size belly huh!?  (Nothing compared to the day of the actual birth, though.  It felt like I was dragging my belly on the ground...)
At this point in my pregnancy, people unbeknown to me (you know, people in the grocery store, the car wash and on the beach.... wait, scratch that last one, LOL) started blurt out things like "about to pop any day now, ain't you!?" (add the KY accent here for full effect) and other similar types of 'encouragements'....  Yeah, that's right - pick on the pregnant lady who can't even get up out of bed on her own anymore (which wasn't really a problem, since at around this time I was already sleeping sitting up)....  LOL

Well, that's it for now.  I hope to get back with another post before too long.  Maternity leave ends on Monday and I will finally be able to eat one meal a day in peace and quiet and maybe even use the rest-room when I need to.  Oh, happy day!  ;-)

Gotta run, someone is complaining!
Happy Stitching!