Friday, September 26, 2014

Finishes and WIPs

I told you last week that I wanted to get the Christmas cardinal pieces finished.  Well, I did just that over the weekend.  My original plan was to finish the one for my stitching charity in the "banner" form that the pattern called and to have the one I'm keeping for myself framed.  But then once I saw the charity one finished, I liked it so much I decided to not frame mine either.  I did change one thing.  I didn't like the way they hung on the banners - it was a bit too loosey goosey for my taste.  So I sewed a red ribbon loop onto the back of each one and they are perfect for hanging on the tree.
I am very pleased with how they turned out.  You can see in the top corners of the one on the right I stitched my initials and the year in small script.  That's the one I'm keeping for myself.  :0)
My other WIP ~ Honeybees ~ is coming right along.  Yes, I'm in waste knot hell with it, but my preference is to work this one on a floor stand and my stand doesn't flip.  So it's just easier for me to use the waste knot method on days that I don't feel inclined to work at a crazy angle trying to access the back.
I've got it rolled up quite a bit up top, so you can't even see the top of it anymore.  But I'm very close to getting to the really big bee hive in the middle and I'm really looking forward to stitching that part.  That's really going to be some fun stitching.  :0)
So that's my quick WIP update for today.  Keep your needles flying!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My stitching corner, with pictures

I'm going to share pictures of my stitching spot.  What I'm showing you is directly on my right hand side when I sit in my comfy chair.  All of this is within arm's reach to me.  Although the top section is tall enough, I have to stand to get to those drawers. 
This is the top of my storage cabinet.  In the back are four of the DMC thread storage boxes I recently got from a closed quilt shop, that I talked about in my previous post.  I already had one of these boxes and this past week I got ten more.  I have 8 total in this cabinet, 2 in another spot with the inserts taken out to hold homeschooling materials and I have one to my 18 year old daughter...for her make up storage, lol. 
Anyway, on with the tour.  On the top left stack of floss boxes is a primitive styled doll that I love.  In front of her are two project rolls that I purchased at the trunk show at the needle class I took.  On the top right are a large tomato and a large strawberry pin cushion.  Also a cross stitched one made by my mom's best friend.  This lady was in her 80s when I was a little girl, so the pin cushion with the cat on it is very old.  The little angel also belonged to my mom, who has been gone for many years now.  The pink cup is a Minnie Pearl cup that I purchased in Nashville at the Grand Ol' Opry.  A fun sign about *not* cleaning up my mess, lol, and the stitched towel is from my best friend.
The front wooden cabinet is also filled with DMC.  On top of it are three thimbles.  Two were gifts from my husband and one I also got from the Opry in Nashville.  Also my cute owl cup to hold my pens and highlighters.  To the right of that I keep my wax burner ~ I love the wonderful scents available.  On the front left is my photo album that I have started to keep of my work.  I use small, full adhesive sticky notes to write notes about my projects.
The box under the  photo album holds my threads for my HAED.
These top four cabinets are filled with DMC and are numbered.  And yes, a Wildflowers by Caron snuck in there too, lol. This variegated is the limited edition DMC 127 from last year.  I'm planning to use it in the Save the Stitches SAL next year.
This is the bottom of my cabinet and 4 more of the DMC storage units.
The bottom left one is the one I have had for a couple of years.  It was one of my Craigslist finds and I got not only the drawer, but all the threads that were in it. 
The two on the right hold threads as well.  But the one in the upper left I took the inserts out of to hold other items.  One drawer holds things like my med box, lip balm, etc.  The second drawer holds my calendar and my catalogs and the third drawer holds some of my every day stitching supplies and some smaller projects.
On top of that cabinet I keep my copy of the Encyclopedia of Needlework
It has a diagram of just about any specialty stitch you can think of ~ and that's always a good thing to have close at hand when stitching.  I'm a very visual learner so it's great to have these diagrams.


Last but not least, this is what is usually right in front of me.  It's just a little portable table with a cloth placemat.  I do everything from computer work to stitching on this little table.  That's my ORT jar in the upper left.  In front of it you can see a green...something, lol.  That's my ottoman that I'll sometimes put my feet up on and cover up with the green blanket that stays on it.
So that's it!  My stitchy spot.  :0)  It's where all my stitchy action happens. 
And now...I'm off to stitch...

Very large stash acquisitions and how I have found them

 This is a long post.  But it's the story of my biggest stash acquisitions and how I got them.  (Some of them for free.)  Perhaps my tips can help someone else find some awesome stash too.
I have to admit that I have a lot of stash.  Like...a lot a lot.  But I have only paid full price for about 15% of what I own.  The rest, I have literally stumbled upon with some searching as well as some sheer dumb luck thrown in for good measure.
But I wanted to share a little bit about what I have done and how I've done it, so maybe it can help someone else find awesome deals over time as well.
Now first let me say, that finding rare items or huge lots of items at barely there prices isn't something that happens all the time.  You have to keep your eyes and ears open and if you're lucky, you'll end up on the receiving end of "once in a lifetime" kind of stash hauls a handful of times over many years.  
I've been stitching for 30 years but I have been serious about stash hunting for only about the past 6 years.  In that time, I've had two large stash influxes completely free, one very large one for pennies on the dollar and one, "once in a lifetime" acquisition again, for pennies on the dollar.  I'll explain how I got them and what they were in this post.
The first "method" is really easy.  It's not really a method at all, but perfectly natural and not something I do with the purpose of acquiring stash.  (I would be mortified if anyone took it as that.)  It is simply a natural outflowing that happens. 

Make friends inside the stitching community. 

Share your ideas, be generous with your own time and even your own stash through give a ways, swaps or "happy mail."  (For those that don't know, "happy mail," is the term given to patterns, kits, notions, etc sent from one stitcher to another just because it's nice and fun to share.)  My very best friend in the world, I met over ten years ago on a Yahoo stitching group.  We are the very definition of besties.  When I first met her she was a die hard cross stitcher.  But over the years her preferences have veered more toward seamstress work.  Also over those years, my passion for cross stitching has only grown by leaps and bounds.  So because I had made such a good friend within the stitching community, when she decided to "de-stash," ~ it came my way.  She has been very generous and my own stash has bulked up quite a bit simply because she switched gears but knew that I would put these things to use.  Another example of this is last year I stitched an eagle (the exact same pattern I did for my charity project, picture here) for an older lady at church ~ simply because she asked me to.  Now I won't say that I'm going to stitch for anyone at all that asks, I won't.  But I knew that this lady had been a stitcher in her younger years.  So I did it for her, because I knew that she understood the craft and would respect the work I put into for her.  I knew, that she knew what it was she was asking me to do.  So I spent many weeks on her eagle.  I gave it to her proudly and will admit to basking in her praise over my stitching, lol.  And then ~ I didn't give it another thought.  But several months later she called me to come to her house because she had the eagle professionally framed and she wanted me to see it.  I happily obliged.  But when I got there, she had a huge amount of her own stash pulled out and she gave to me.  She said that she couldn't do it any longer and she wanted it to go to someone who she knew would appreciate it.  So that was the two stash influxes I got for free, simply for being friends with someone or being nice. 
What goes around really does tend to come around ~ and especially so in the stitching community.

My second tip is to get to know the owners of your local needlework shops.  Forge relationships with them in person and correspond with them on their shop's social media sites.  And by local, I don't necessarily mean the town you live in.  If it is within your ability, expand what you consider "local" to about 2-3 hours (or however far is feasible for you) around you in all directions.  I literally live out in the middle of nowhere.  In order to get any decent selection in anything from food to clothes, we have to drive a minimum of 45 minutes.  In order to get to a sizable city, it's 2 hours.  So I originally started my search for stitching shops in those two cities.  I found a shop in the city 45 minutes away from me, but it specializes in needlepoint, not cross stitch.  But ~ that doesn't matter!  I still went there and forged a relationship with the owner and she sells a full array of flosses that are good for any fiber artist regardless of specialty.  Through her, I was able to get a couple of wishlist items from the last Market in St. Charles.  She had previously told me if there was anything I wanted to let her know.  Market Day kind of crept up on me this year and I ended up texting her at literally the last minute while she was on the Market floor and she got me want I wanted.  ~~  I also found a shop in the city two hours from me and got to know that owner too.  Through her I was able to take the needle class I blogged about in a previous post.  Her shop hosted it.  I'm able to go to her shop once every few months.  When I took the needle class, she had only ever seen me once in person.  But because I had made a point to talk to her when in her shop and talk to her on her shop's FB page, when I showed up for the needle class as soon as she saw me she came over saying, "There you are!!" And gave me a big hug.  She knew exactly who I was.  There are more shops in a city five hours from me.  I'll be attending a retreat through one of them this Fall.

Forging friendships with shop owners can open doors for you to find out about new products and notions as soon as they come out, give you lots of learning opportunities with classes and seminars and also give you a lot of social opportunities to meet other stitchers because almost all shops host stitching days or evenings, retreats and get-a-ways.  It's definitely worth it and you usually will make some awesome stitchy friends in the process.

The big stash acquisition that I made just this past week was because of a shop owner.  Like I said before, I don't restrict myself to just cross stitch shops.  There was a quilt shop in a small community close to mine, but in addition to quilting supplies the owner also sold a full line of DMC floss.  She decided to close her shop and retire and, of course, had a major going out of business sale selling her goods at or below wholesale cost.  She and I had a lot in common because she does a lot of charity stitching too.  She's a lovely lady.  So when the time came to sell her DMC storage boxes - you the ones that shops keep their threads in for sale - she sold them to me.  I got them at half off wholesale cost and she also told me that if I needed any thread in the future to let her know and she will sell what she has to me at wholesale cost.  Now, how awesome is that?  I got ten DMC thread storage boxes from her, which I will share about those another post all it's own. 

And lastly, my last tip garnered me my biggest, "once in a lifetime" stash haul.  Check Craigslist.  Regularly.  Now of course, be careful.  Use common sense and don't meet strangers alone and a public place is always best.  But I have found a lot of really good cross stitching stash over the years off of Craigslist.  I check it about once a month or every two months.  I usually use the search terms, "cross stitch," and "DMC."  But the search that led to my biggest stash haul wasn't even mine, but my best friend that I talked about earlier.  She called me one day and told me that she had found an unbelievably huge cross stitching stash on Craigslist in a community next to hers.  She spoke to the lady selling it a few times, making plans to purchase it.  She and I split the price for the lot, so we each only paid half.  She and her husband picked it up and - it really was enough to open a small store.  It had all belonged to the lady's great aunt and when her aunt died ~ she inherited all of it.

Now I just want to interject here to say that this lady did understand what she had.  She knew that she had literally thousands of dollars worth of supplies.  But...she was over it.  She didn't want it, didn't want to take the time to sell it to get the best dollar amount and she simply wanted it gone and out of her house.  So it's really not like my friend and I took advantage of someone who didn't know what they had.  She completely understood.  She just didn't care.  In the end we got a ton of fabric - in all different types and colors.  Kits out your ears.  Patterns, books and leaflets - too many to count. Mirabilias, Told in a Garden patterns. A lap stand, specialty yarns and then even more material and more patterns and kits.  The only type of things we didn't get were notions.

And after splitting the cost with my friend, I paid....about what it costs me to fill up my gas tank on our truck.

The first thing my friend and I did was to pull out everything we knew that we did not want ourselves, things we knew we would just never use ~ and we started giving away all of those items to other stitchers.  If we didn't want something, one of us knew someone else who would.  So we gave away, mailed away, a lot of other things to other stitchers.  Then we were left with only the things that we liked and wanted.  My friend split it with me ~ giving me about 60% of the items and her keeping 40%.  She did this because I cross stitch more and some of the items she just didn't want because she doesn't do it as much anymore.  So in the end, I did end up with a few thousand dollars worth of cross stitching supplies for well under $100. 


When used cautiously and carefully, it can be a very good thing.

So that's the story of my major cross stitch hauls and how I've only paid retail for about 15% of what I own.  Keep your eyes and ears open, get to know shop owners and others in the stitching community and perhaps you can find some awesome stash hauls too!

Keep those needles flying!!  :0)

The Legacy of Dorcas Stitching Charity update ~ with pics ~

My stitching charity finished our last project for a Habitat for Humanity family.  The ladies really did a good job and we had a lovely box to send out to them.  Here are pictures of what we sent.
In this picture you can see the eagle I did and had framed.  (The husband/father of the family we sent to is a veteran.)  Down the left side are several embroidered kitchen towels and in the middle are pillowcases ~ these were all done by the same person in our group.  On the right side going down, you can see a set of coasters done by someone else, also in a patriotic theme.
You can't tell it in this picture but those pretty blue items are an entire set of placemats done by one of our members.  They were so pretty.  Then someone else did the lovely berry colored washcloths and another stitcher did the eagle and red, white and blue themed kitchen towel.  Under that is the last pillowcase that went with the set in the picture above.
So as you can see, these ladies really came through and used their talents to create a lovely box for the family.  I'm so happy that our charity is doing so well and that I have stitchers who do such wonderful and dedicated work.
Our current project is set up to be sent out in early November.  We are helping out a domestic violence shelter.  Some of the ladies wanted to do Christmas themed items and it just so happened that those kinds of items will work with this project.  So some are doing Christmas things and others are doing more generic ~ it's stitcher's choice.  I have a lot of new members who seem to really have hit the ground running and that makes me so happy.  This may end up being the biggest project we have done to date.  I am so thankful to each and every stitcher who helps out.
The charity will take a break through December and we will regroup in January.  I'm hoping to have a project lined up for a hospital nursery.
Keep those needles flying everyone ~ every thread tells a story!

WIPs update & things going on in my stitchy life

I wanted to show my current WIPs.  I'm in the middle of charity stitching right now, so my stitching life is very full.  But I still always try to make sure that I do take the time to still work on my own personal WIPs.  It's important to me.  So I carved out about three days recently to work on Honeybee Happening.  It's coming along so nicely and my goal is to have it done by year's end ~ or even better yet, get it finished in November.  The top section is completely done as is the banner on the right side.  That banner was rather tedious.
The lighting is bad because I took this picture in the middle of the night (when most of my stitching is done.)  But I really love this piece.  I think I would have to say I'm enjoying this one the most out of anything I have done so far.  The colors - which the camera doesn't do them justice at all - are so gorgeous and I simply adore working with them.
The next thing I'm working on is half for me and half for my charity.  (I'll share more about our current charity post in one of my next posts.)  Sometimes with the items I do for my charity, I really like them and would like to have one for myself as well.  So I'll double up and stitch two of the same piece in tandem.  I don't do one and then the other.  That drives me up the wall to finish something and have to start over from the beginning and do the same thing again.  So I find it better to stitch both at the same time, a section at a time and only repeating that section.
Our current charity project has some Christmas items involved, so I chose a small Winter/Christmas banner as part of what I am stitching for the project. 
I took this picture to compare the difference that backstitching and detail work makes.  This one has lots of French knots.  I do have almost all of the backstitch work done on the second one now.  I'll be sharing these as a finish soon.  The one going to the charity I am going to make into a banner as it's intended to be and the one I am keeping for myself I have decided to have framed.
This was a very quick, one day finish.  My daughter's best friend left for college, so my daughter made her a scrap book of all their years together.  She wanted me to do a page as well.  So as part of the page I did for her, I stitched up this bookmark with her name on it.  The thread used is a Wildflowers by Caron.
So this is what I've been up to.  I would really like to get the Christmas piece finished today.  :0)