Thursday, June 26, 2014

A new SAL, WIP & a charity update

My progress on Honey Bee Happenings has slowed down a bit because 1) I was simply exhausted over the weekend and did more resting than I did stitching and 2) I've started a SAL which is taking up some of my stitching time.  But my main goal for the time being was to get across the top and over to the upper left corner and I did do that.

The SAL is for the Cherry Wood Design Studios pattern - I Am A Stitcher.  This is a discontinued pattern but luckily there were still a few vendors that had some in stock.  I had a bit of a disaster when I first started it.  I chose my colors from Gentle Art and 30 ct fabric from my stash. 
But I'm used to stitching on Aida and this isn't Aida. I'm not sure what is it really.  Last year a friend and I bought out the inventory of a small needlework shop that had closed and I have a lot of fabric from that purchase that isn't labeled.  So this was my first non-Aida endeavor and wonderful me thought I was going to do it 2 over 1. 
Yeah.  Not so much. 
I got a start and it just looked awful.  The more I stitched, the more I hated it.  Also, my pale pink for the background flowers was just fading right into the oatmeal colored fabric.  You almost couldn't see it at all.  So I decided to cut my losses and start over.  This time I grabbed another mystery fabric - also 30 count - out of my stash and instead of doing over 1 I did over 2.  I also changed the color to black.  These two changes have made all the difference.
I think my brightly colored threads are going to "pop" quite nicely on this black.  I am very pleased.  :0)
In other news, I am gearing up for a finish on my charity's current project.  Most of my stitchers are mailing their items to me this week.  Our project is a disabled vet and his family and they are getting a Habitat for Humanity house.  I've already received one item from one of my stitchers.  She made this really cute patriotic hand towel.
And I got the item I made for them back from the framers.
One of my group members owns a business that mails out a lot of computer parts and she donated a lot of bubble wrap and packing materials to me so I can wrap the framed picture very securely so it won't get broken.  :0)
It is evening now and I've had a long day.  Time to put my feet up and stitch.  Keep those needles flying everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Honey Bee Happenings ~ WIP update

While I do think I'm making fairly good progress on this one, I wanted to make more than I have.  I have a SAL starting on Friday and I'll then have to split my time between them.  So I wanted to really get a lot of this one done before the SAL starts.  But, I got hit a few days ago with some serious fatigue and I've just been having to give into it a bit.  Nonetheless, I took part in a weekend challenge with one of the stitching groups on FB to see how much you could get done from 7pm Friday until 7pm Sunday and here's what I did.
At 7:00 Friday night, here is where I was at:
Then by 7:00 Sunday night, this is how far I had gotten:
Not as much as I wanted.  I wanted to make it all the across the top, but I was just too tired.  But any progress is a good thing.  :0)
Happy stitching and keep those needles flying!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I've found a KnitCrate alternative for cross stitchers....sort of....

I've been a long time fan of Jennifer Ross's Youtube channels.  (All her info can be found here.)  One video that she makes every month is about her monthly KnitCrate subscriptionKnitCrate is a monthly subscription service for knitters.  Every month in their boxes a subscriber gets fantastical yarns, an exclusive pattern, and extra goodies like a treat type of food or something else fun like a lip balm, etc.  They also have options of purchasing "add ons," which are extra skeins of specialty yarns.  Overall, it's just a big box of fun each month for knitters.
I have often watched Jen's KnitCrate videos with envy, lol.  I would *love* for there to be something like this for cross stitchers.  I would jump on that band wagon and fast!  But alas, it just seemed it was not to be.  Sort of....
I say sort of because I recently found out that Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie has a Fabric of the Month option.  I am very excited about this and I signed up.  She sends out an invoice at the beginning of the month and sends out fabrics around the 20th.  So it will be July before I am able to receive my first FOTM, but I'm excited.  It may not be exactly the same as KnitCrate, but considering it's sometimes difficult for cross stitchers to keep their heads above water between all the products out there for knitters and scrap booking, I'll definitely take it!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stitching in the most unlikely of places and WIP update

I had to go to town last week to take my son to the doctor.  I knew there would be some waiting time, so I decided to take Honeybee Happenings with me.  It's not a small kit, more like medium and I wondered how the logistics of that would work for working on it out and about.  I had it in my 8 inch Qsnaps and all my threads and needed items in a large tote style hand bag.  I have to say, it really wasn't awkward at all.  I've taken small projects like hand towels out with me before but never a larger piece.  It worked out just fine.
I first worked on it in the examination room while we waited for the doctor to come in.  We has a bit of a long wait, so I was very glad I had brought it with me.  When the doctor came in and saw me with my cross stitch and all the accouterments, she smiled brightly and exclaimed, "Well look at you making good use of your time!"  Then she came and looked at the piece and said it was pretty.  I thought it was sweet for her to take a bit of her time to notice it like that.  I guess she's probably used to coming in the rooms and seeing everyone on their phones, lol.  After we left the doctor we went to Walmart so my son could get a hair cut at the place there.  There wasn't anywhere in that area for me to sit, so I just went outside the salon area and sat on the bench at the front entrance where everyone was coming and going.  I wonder how many odd looks I got as sat in that most unlikely of spots and cross stitched for almost half an hour, lol.  I know I did look up at one point and a man walked by and when he saw what I was doing he did get a shocked expression on his face.  Oh well, lol.  Between the doctor's office and Walmart, I actually made a good bit of progress that afternoon. 
Now, a bit about my progress on my WIP.  I have to eat my words a bit from something I said in my last post.  I said that I don't use the floor stand much.  And that's true.  It's always felt a bit awkward to me and I've had trouble figuring out how to easily start and stop my threads because my stand doesn't pivot such that I can easily flip it to get the back of my work.
However, the more I worked on Honeybee Happenings, the more it became obvious that it just wasn't going to work on my Qsnaps.  There was too much fabric hanging around for me to deal with and it was just uncomfortable.  Which is odd, because I've had no issue with working with other pieces much larger in Qsnaps.  But for whatever reason, it just wasn't working.  So, I moved the work from Qsnaps to a scroll frame.  That did help somewhat but it didn't take long before I started having pain in my shoulders from holding the large scrolls.  At that point, the only thing left I could do was get out the floor stand.  And it's been so much more comfortable since doing that!  I'm still on a learning curve on using it, but I asked some questions in a cross stitching group and they gave me some hints and tips and it seems that using waste knots is my best course of action.  So that's what I started doing last night.  I'm not a big fan of waste knots, but this project will be an exercise in getting over that, lol.
So here's my current progress ~ parked threads, waste knots and all.
Happy Stitching and keep those needles flying!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Cross Stitch Tag and my newest WIP

I discovered the cross stitch tag on Youtube.  Lots of the stitchers there have done it and I thought it would be fun for me to do it on my blog.
So let's go ~~
1. How did you start or who introduced you to cross stitch?
No one.  I found this on my own at a very young age.  I was only 9 years old (and I'll be 39 in July) and I remember seeing cross stitch kits in the store and just knowing that I wanted to do that.  Then I remember we went to dinner at someone's house.  The wife/mother was apparently a cross stitcher because on an end table she had her current WIP in a hoop with bobbins of threads in a ring fanned out on top of it.  Just seeing that ~ I knew this was something for me.  So I got my first kit shortly thereafter and the rest is history!
2. Do you have a favorite theme of designer?
I tend to go more for the theme or look of a piece than follow designers.  But, there are some designers I do like ~ Paula Vaughn, Bothy Threads, Mirabilia, Lavender & Lace ~ there are more, but I do like those.  What really grabs me though is the scene.  I love homes, especially Victorian ones.  Or really, any Victorian scene ~ carriages, gardens, etc.  I'm a total sucker for ladies in pretty dresses and I also love anything bee or beehive related.
3. What floss brand do you use? 
Ok, for many years I have been and am a die hard DMC girl.  DMC is really where it has started and stopped for me.  But recently, I wanted to branch out a bit.  So I got my Gentle Art threads for my upcoming SAL and the threads that came with my Rosewood Manor Summer Quakers that I shared in my previous post.  I'm really looking forward to using them.
4. What is your fabric of choice?
.All of it.  Everything from a 14 count Aida to a delicate linen and everything in between.  It all has it's time and place
5. Do you use a needle threader or are you a floss licker?
I sometimes lick my floss and sometimes just use Thread Heaven on it.  Other times I want to use my needle threader.    It's pretty much split between each method.
6. What kind of stitching frame do you use?
In general, I prefer to use Qsnaps.  I will still use hoops if a particular project needs that, but I don't like hoops too much.  I prefer to work large projects on a floor stand with a large set of Qsnaps or stretcher bars.
7. How many projects have you finished?
Hmm....several.  Not as many as I'd like, but still...several.  Off the top of my head I can think of 21, but I'm sure I'm missing a few in there somewhere.
8. How many completed works do you currently have displayed in your home? 
Not many because most have been given away.  Only three currently on display here, but I am hoping to change that very soon.  But I do have several smaller items like hand towels and pillowcases that are stitched and used.
9. Do you do more stitching for gifts or for yourself?
Gifts, swaps and charity projects have gotten most of my stitching.  But I really want more in my own home so I'm going to start doing more for me to keep.
10. What is your favorite project you are most proud of? 
I talked about this in my last post too.  It's the Winnie the Pooh square that went into one of the Sandy Hook quilts for the little girl who was the only survivor in her class.  I'm so very proud of what that one means.
11. What has been your least favorite or worst experience stitching?
It was about 18 years ago.  I was in my early 20s and decided to do my first large project. It was this kit:
  It was my only WIP because back then I only had one going at a time.  It took me two solid years, working consistently because I was a *painfully* slow stitcher back then.  But, I finished it and it was gorgeous.  I wanted to get it framed but we were newly married and every penny was needed for other things.  I just couldn't afford to get it framed.  So I rolled it up and put it in a safe place.  18 years and 5 homes later ~ it's never been seen since.  I think what happened was when we moved from that apartment into our house, it accidentally got thrown away.  I really don't know.  I just know that it's gone and I don't have it. 
So, imagine my surprise when a couple of years ago I found the kit again!  On sale at Austintatious Offerings.  (Whom I heartily recommend by the way.  I love shopping with them.) You better believe I snapped it up quick!  So it's now in my stash to perhaps be stitched again someday.
12. What do you love and what do you hate about cross stitch?
I love the feeling of taking a blank canvas ~ my material ~ and taking it from being empty to being filled with something beautiful.  I even love the way the feel of the fabric changes as the design gets larger.  A bit heavier, a bit more substantial, a bit less flexible.  I love the search and hunt for something for my stash that I want to find.  I love cute notions.  I love the never ending supply of gorgeous patterns.  Love, love, love it all.
What do I hate?  Well, the Frog of course!!  I could totally do without him.
13. Have you introduced anyone else to cross stitch?
I've tried valiantly with my daughter to no avail.  I have several friends who admire my stitching but claim they don't have the patience for it.  So no, I've not really converting anyone to cross stitch unfortunately.  But luckily I have lots of online friends who stitch, so it doesn't feel like I'm the only one doing it.
14. What was your first project and did you finish it?  If not, what was your first finish?
My very first project was an apple, lol.  Maybe about 4 inches across by 4 inches high.  And no, I did not finish it.  I was only 9 and I remember I got discouraged that my apple looked like a rectangle instead of round.  But that was only for the first stitches so I didn't realize that I needed to keep going.  I remember laying in my bed and crying that night over that apple, lol.
My first finish that I remember was a marriage sampler I did for me and my husband.  It wasn't too big, but it was cute.  It's hanging in my bedroom now.  I think I did finish some small things when I was a teenager.  But I don't really remember what they were.  I remember doing some small florals, but the memory is a bit fuzzy.
15. How do you store your floss?
Right now my storage is in flux.  I have one DMC box and one thread cabinet from Herrschners.  The rest are on bobbins in the regular compartment boxes you can get from any hobby store.  I want to find more DMC boxes and eventually convert all my storage over to them.
So that's the cross stitch tag.  :0)
As for my current WIP ~ Honeybee Happenings ~ I've had a two day start so far.  This is what I've gotten done:
I'm going to backstich this section before moving on.  I always backstitch as I go.
Well, that's all for today.  Happy stitching and keep those needles flying!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

LNS haul

I did some stash and notion shopping today.  I actually *needed* a few things, but you know how that goes.  So I went to my LNS ~ which isn't so local to me.  It's 2 hours away and it's the closest one.  This was my first time shopping there and I loved it.  It was a pretty large store, as far as stitching shops go.  A little bit of everything and I found all the items on my list. 
My needed items ~ the reason for the whole trip ~ was to get some Gentle Art threads for a SAL that I am participating in that starts on June 15.  I took liberties with the colors on the pattern and I'm happy with my choices.
Next, just a few fun things but also a few things I needed.  The big metal ring I got to put all the thread baggies on for my current WIP.  I have them on two separate large rings....but not this large.  This one will hold all of them for the whole project.  My WIP is Bucilla's Honey Bee Happenings (HBH).  I wanted a couple of new needle minders, so if you look on the ring you'll see a bee hive.  I couldn't pass that up to use with Honey Bee Happenings.  The other one I got was a pretty blue cameo style.  Two needleholder cards, also for HBH as well as a scissor holder necklace.  I do have one, but I don't like.  It's too short and just not comfortable.  I needed something longer and this one fit the bill.  Three packs of needles ~ I needed some more petites.  I also picked up a cool magnetic stitching themed bookmark, it's just below the necklace.  :0)  Then two charts.  The Lizzie Kate one has Pooh Bear's saying about being stronger than you seem.  It has a special meaning to me and my daughter and I'm going to stitch this one as a surprise for her.  The other pattern is an Old Lakewood called Remember September.  I'm a sucker for ladies in pretty dresses in a pattern, lol.
Last but not least, as I walked through one of the rooms in the LNS, my eyes landed on this beauty:
I instantly fell in love with the threads.  The picture doesn't do them justice.  I had to turn the light away to get the glare off the picture, but they are much brighter and nuanced with color than you can tell here.  The threads grabbed me more than the pattern truthfully.  But then once I saw the bees in the center of it, that's all I needed to know.  This gorgeousness truly didn't come cheap, but it was worth every penny.  I'm so glad I got it and it was the only one they had too.
The other thing I did while there is register to attend a "Needle Lecture" in August given by Susan Greening-Davis.  I can't describe to you how excited I am about this.  She will give the lecture and will also have a trunk show for the participants.  I can't wait.  It will be the first time I've been able to attend something like this and it's going to be so much fun. 
So all in all, I had a very fun day.  It was so heartening to see that shop busy as a bee.  The whole time I was there (and considering I drove two hours to get there, I took my time) there were ladies in and out the whole time.  As soon as the proprietor finished helping one person, there was someone else right there needing her attention.  If she ever got a break, the phone was ringing with customers.  Whoever says that these things are a dying art ~ well, let's just say the ladies in this store never got that memo.  It was wonderful to see. 
Happy stitching and keep those needles flying!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Long and over due catch up ~ lots of pictures!

I have a lot to share so I'm just going to jump right in.  Last year's charity project for the Ronald McDonald House at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital went *great*!  The ladies stitching for my charity really came through and we ended up with a lovely package to sent to the RMH.  We received a nice letter from the house manager thanking us.
In a previous post, I shared a few pictures of some of my cross stitched squares that I have done for other charities.  I now have pictures of the completed quilts.  **Please note, I did *squares* for these and am in no way claiming all the work to be mine.  I only claim my own work.  I will link to the groups in charge of the projects.**
My first charity square was for Love Quilts
I stitched this square:
Which then got put into the center of this quilt:
So many lovely horses in this ~ so many talented stitchers and quilters to put it all together!
Immediately after this, I got into the Sandy Hook project.  It's home base was/is a FB group called Xstitch for those impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.  I'll share what I stitched and where each item got put.  Some squares got put into the quilts while others were made into pillows to go along with the quilts.  Each family got a quilt and pillows and then places such as the fire dept, police dept, city hall, etc. got wall hangings.
I stitched this square for the family of Jessica R.
It got made into a pillow (bottom left) to go with the other items to her family:
Next I did a little bird that wasn't ear marked for a certain family, but was just to be used where ever there was a need.
It got placed into a wall hanging (upper left) for the fire department in Newtown.
And lastly, this is a piece that is so dear to my heart.  In terms of wasn't difficult at all.  Perhaps a smidge time consuming because I am a slow stitcher (and have come to embrace that about myself) but it was a very easy pattern.  But. This square was for, "the little girl who survived."  I don't know her name, it was never used.  I'm assuming to protect her from media, etc.  I know she was 6 years old at the time of the shooting and she is the only child in her class who survived.  All others were killed and she had to exit the building walking over all the bodies.  I really wanted something special for the pattern for her square.  As soon as I saw this one, I instantly knew it was the one.
I loved the caption, "Time for a hug," and the thought that this is exactly what I would want her to feel.  Safe and sound in a big bear hug.  Out of everything I have ever stitched, this is the one I am most proud of.  It wasn't difficult, it's not the most impressive pattern in a world where we work on HAEDs and Mirabilias.  But what it stands for and who it went to means so much to me.  And I am so proud and thankful that I got to be included in it.
Here is the quilt it was put into:
So that was what kept me busy in 2013.  There were a few other things that were gifts for friends.  But my own personal stitching really took a back seat.  I did take a one week stretch after finishing up the Sandy Hook squares to get started on my HAED ~ Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. 
I'm a bit further in than that picture shows, but not by much.  Other than that, I didn't have time to do much stitching for myself.  I'm changing that now.  :0)  I will always work with my charity, The Legacy of Dorcas, but I think I have found ways to keep it all manageable.  Especially since I am running the charity, I can control how big our projects are.  ;-) 
I'll have more updates soon ~ both personal WIPs and sharing about the current TLOD project. 
Happy stitching and keep those needles flying!!