Monday, March 27, 2017

WIPocalypse For March

Someone tell me please, where did March go? It seems like I just posted my WIPocalypse update for February, and here we are again. But I am very happy to be taking part in this WIPocalypse group, which you can find on the Measi's Musings blog.

It didn't help that I spent the last week sick. It started two Sundays ago and today is the first day I feel almost normal. Except for that bone-tired thing that stays with me for a while. March was also made a crazy month by having two big updates done to our house. I was glad they were getting done, but at the same time, I just want everything back to normal. The house is kind of a mess.

I did get my camera out yesterday and snapped a photo of each of the three projects I worked on this month. Let's start with Tulip's Praise.
I worked on the left section of this one a bit during March. It's a pretty big piece, and this picture doesn't really reflect the size accurately. But I do love it and am glad that it's actively in my rotation.

Next is Kaleidoscope. Now this is one that I can see a lot of progress happening on.
And it keeps getting prettier and prettier as I stitch. It's supposed to be made into a cushion when completed, but I'm thinking of framing it.

What about this little cutie?
I should be stitching a lot faster on this piece if I'm supposed to finish it before June! I really like these Joyful World charts from The Snowflower Diaries. I'm using the Gentle Arts threads recommended for these designs.

What helped me this month is that my stitch group had a stitch day AND a stitch retreat happen on two consecutive weekends. I did get a lot of stitching done during these fun stitchy events. That is good because I got absolutely no stitching in during the past week. But just the act of taking pictures of these projects yesterday made me want to pick up the needle again!

Now for the question of the month: What stitchy blogs, groups, or flosstubes do you follow and why?  If you look to the right side of my blog, you'll see that I follow a lot of different stitchy blogs. These blogs are fun to visit because I see what's new in the stitchy world, get ideas for what to stitch next (and oh, there are so many of those!), and just get inspired to sit down and stitch on my WIPs. I would say that inspiration is the main reason I look at blogs. I do belong to a couple of stitchy groups on Facebook and like them for the same reason. As for flosstubes, I'm kind of new to that world. I didn't even know they existed until about 4 months ago! The one is follow the most is Vonna's flosstube, The Twisted Stitcher. It's always interesting to see what she has to say and her tutorials are the best.

I think that's it for this month. As soon as I get all of the displaced junk out of my craft room, I plan to start a new gigantic project. I made some progress on it by buying the fabric for it. And that fabric is currently somewhere in my current household mess. Time to get to work!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Finished Stitching Finishes

Several weeks ago I received an email from a blog follower who is interested in stitching Just Nan's "Jasmine Mix". She had seen my post about this particular chart and inquired about the colors used. Because I don't have the chart anymore, I had to open my "finished stitching" box and look at the finish itself. I think I answered her questions in a satisfactory way, but the process of looking through the finished stitching box got me thinking. And the main thing I thought was "Why don't I do something with these finishes?!".

So I started with "Jasmine Mix".
Turning it into a pin cushion was a fun process. I ironed some interfacing onto the back of the stitching, sewed on some backing fabric, and then filled it with crushed walnut shells.
After hand sewing the opening, I ruched some sheer ribbon and then sewed it on all of the edges. Here's how I ruche the ribbon: I hand sew a running stitch right in the middle of the ribbon and gather as I go, knotting the thread once in a while. I keep the ribbon on the spool as I go and keep measuring as I stitch. The ruched ribbon gets sewn on by hand with matching thread.
I'm happy with the result and am glad that a random email spurred me on to finish a completed stitching project.

The next project I tackled was FINALLY framing Val's Stitchin' Stuff "Kitty Kalendar". About time, right? I've had this done for, well I don't know how long. I've also had the frame for it and had designated it's place on the wall a long time ago.
The frame is from American Frame. They will custom make frames so that you can frame it yourself!
This little cutie now hangs in my craft room exactly where I've been picturing it hanging!

I am so glad that I received that email because it made me look at all of the finished stitching I have and inspired me to do something about it! There are more pieces in there and I plan to frame or finish them as well. Now my question to you is: Do you also have a collection of completed stitching pieces that you haven't done anything with? Or do you turn them into framed pieces (or pillows, ornaments, etc.) as you go?

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Beading Bug Is Back

A couple of interesting beading projects popped up online recently and I was once again bitten by the beading bug. The first one is cute and kind of whimsical, and gave me the opportunity to practice the brick stitch. I hadn't used this stitch in a while and was glad that Youtube videos exist so that I could re-learn it.

I found the link to this adorable "Maneki-Neko Charm" on a beading page on Facebook. I've always called this little cat motif "Success Cat" after hearing it referred to that way from somebody. I have several little Success Cats around my house, so I was instantly interested!
The pattern is a freebie from Miyuki Bead and Craft and can be found HERE, along with other beading patterns.
It was fun to make, and allowed me to learn new skills - increasing and decreasing in brick stitch - and also to practice my wire loops. There is also a pattern for one of these little cats in black, which is also adorable. I still may make one!

You all know my love of making bracelets, so you won't be surprised that I've made another one. This is a pattern that I found on Pinterest. I liked the look of it and thought that it appeared to be pretty easy to make. Click HERE to see the pattern.
What also made me happy about this project was that I already had all of the beads in my stash. I only had to buy a magnetic clasp.
Superduos are fun to work with. I like how they can create a mesh-like look depending how they're strung. The color I used is "Crystal Violet Rainbow". I also used 11/0 seed beads in bronze. The pattern shows how two colors can be used, but I had these beads and thought they'd look good in this bracelet so I opted for that. A couple of things about the pattern: Unless you read Dutch, you will have to rely on the illustrations to complete this bracelet. But the good news is that the illustrations are excellent! In addition, in step three, where you string on half of the clasp and then double back to strengthen it, make sure that you keep this section close to the rest of the work you've already done. It's easy to complete this part and notice a big gap between where you doubled back and the rest of the bracelet.

Don't pass by the chance to take a look around their web page. "Elfenatelier" appears to be a bead shop and also offers plenty of other free beading patterns. Also, look at how cute this shop is and it looks like they offer classes. I WANT TO GO THERE! Sigh. I guess I'll just have to settle for trying out some of their gorgeous patterns.

So that's what's happening in my little beady world. I hope you like these two ideas and are inspired to give them a try. I'll be back soon with some stitching news and other crafty stuff!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February WIPocalypse Post

February has been a month of very little rotation when it came to WIP stitching. That is actually okay because a lot of progress has been made on two of my works in progress!

I concentrated on stitching "Kaleidoscope" at our group's stitch day this month. One of my fellow stitchers even noticed how much I had gotten done on it.
The other project that I spent a lot of time on is the Snowflower Diaries Joyful World series. I started stitching January last January. As in January of 2016. Now I'm happy to say that the January design has been completed!
I even found a frame that will look good with all twelve designs as I interchange them monthly.
I'm stitching all of these over one on 25-count Norden Pearl linen. At first, I was a little afraid that I had taken on too much by stitching over one on this fabric. But pretty soon, I realized that it was no problem at all. The hard part comes when (or if) I have to frog. Luckily, not too much of that so far.
I was all ready to begin stitching February when I saw a suggestion from Nicole, a fellow stitcher on Facebook. She has started stitching the month of September so that she'll be able to begin displaying her finishes this year. Her reasoning is that she knows that she'll get September completed by September of this year if she starts stitching it now. Great idea! So I started June with the hope that I get it done by then and can pop it into its frame and have it displayed in well......June. And maybe by then I'll have progress made on July, then August, and so on. I'm treating all twelve months of this as one big project.
Here's the start of "June".
I did not touch any of my other WIPs this month, but am very happy to get as much done as I did on these two projects. I'm still not sure about the English Cottage Sampler. It was suggested to me that I purchase the printed chart (as opposed to using the hand-drawn one I have), which may makes things easier for me. A lot of thinking has to be done as to whether to even continue this one.

I'll also be adding a new project to my WIPs, but I'm not sure when. I received a beautiful chart for Christmas and want to start it soon. It will require a piece of fabric about 33" wide. I have to figure out what kind of fabric to stitch it on. I'll reveal the details next month.

The question of the month is: "What is your favorite stitch other than the standard cross stitch?"
That's easy. It's the French Knot. I know. You think I'm crazy, right? I don't know many stitchers who actually like these, but my mom taught me how to do these waaaaay back when. Here's a little video with instructions. Try not to get too distracted by her fingernails!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Inspired By Pinterest In February

Since I started my monthly Pinterest attempt, I've learned so many new techniques and have made many fun projects. A long-ago goal of mine was to learn how to crochet things that were not square or rectangle shaped. I think I've accomplished this!

I like warm scarves even though we haven't had much need for them this winter. Well, yet. There's still time. Crocheting them was something I could do easily because they were basically one long rectangle. So for something new and different, it was time to try an infinity scarf.

I found a tutorial on Pinterest that seemed like a good place to start. The first problem came when I realized that the instructor never said what size crochet hook to use. Not good! I chose what I thought would work (I think it was a "K") and I quickly figured out that this scarf was going to be too short to double over my head in infinity scarf form. I was also unhappy with the way the "join" looked. By this, I mean where a row is completed and a new one is started.

Luckily, crochet is often easy to undo! A search for another tutorial was successful when I found Melanie Ham's Easy Crochet Infinity Scarf video on Youtube. You can find this tutorial HERE. Yay - easy-to-follow instructions and a clear view of how the scarf is made!
I used bulky yarn (another first for me) by Yarn Bee from Hobby Lobby. It's easy to work with and feels soft when worn. Melanie encourages you to make the loop (chained row one) nice and big so that you can double it easily, and even triple it around your neck if you wish. I don't know how many stitches I chained for row one, but the circumference of my completed scarf is about 76".
It's done in single crochet and I used an "N" hook. I'd like to try this same scarf using the "P" hook for a looser stitch and a slightly different look.
I am very happy with this infinity scarf and would definitely make more. It's a fun, quick project and would make a great gift. And you can achieve unique looks by using different yarns and different size crochet hooks. I will be happily be wearing this scarf until spring!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Following Instructions Pays Off!

Stitching pretty Christmas ornaments is fun and rewarding, but you have to do something with them when the stitching is done, right? I mean, they're not doing anyone any good packed away in the "completed stitching" box.

I've finished stitched Christmas ornaments before, but never thought they looked as good as they could. So I took an informal "class", meaning that I devoted some time to watching (and paying attention to) a Youtube video by Vonna, The Twisted Stitcher. This particular video is called "Floss Tube Finishing School - Pillow Ornament W/Cording.  Going into that "completed stitching" box, I found exactly what I needed - my little finish of "Cardinal Winter" by Little House Needleworks.

And here's the result of following all of the steps provided in this tutorial.
There's just something about finishing an ornament that's so satisfying. It's like a "look at what I did!" moment. And now I can actually use my stitched piece for what it was intended - an ornament!

Adding cording that you made yourself is an extra added touch. It's easy to make when you have a Kreinik Custom Corder. This little device allows you to take ordinary embroidery floss and make your own custom cording. 
Yes, it's easy, and yes, it works. Just look.
And even though I tried very hard to be a good student, I did have a bit of an issue. My cording came out too short and I had to improvise a bit for the hanger. I probably just didn't measure correctly. That's where that "measure twice and cut once" advice comes in!

Vonna's video is easy to follow and very detailed. You'll learn all of the tips needed to make a beautifully finished ornament. And she shows you how to make the cording. It's all there, from start to finish. So give it a try. Go on. You will be glad that you did.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January WIPocalypse Post!

Joining this WIPocalypse group has been the best thing I could have done, stitchingwise. I was so motivated to stitch this month because of it.

I don't have a set stitching rotation, but instead worked on what I felt like working on. It may seem random, but I did actually pick up three of my WIPs during the past month. Two weeks ago, we had our Sisters In Stitches stitching day and I made some progress on Tulip's Praise.
I'm stitching this one over one on 18 count fabric. I just don't remember what kind of fabric it is, but it is an evenweave. This one is fun to stitch with pretty spring colors.

A lot of stitches have also gone into Kaleidoscope.
This is the one I have been stitching at our stitch days, but decided to change things up a bit and worked on it at home. I'm seeing the wisdom in changing projects once in a while.

The one I've made the most progress on is The Joyful World monthly series. I hadn't put any stitches into it for quite a while and was thinking that maybe I wouldn't be so enthusiastic about working on 25 count fabric over one again! Wow, was I wrong! I am having fun making these tiny stitches.
I got a new camera for Christmas and can't figure out how to turn on the close-up feature. I plan to use some time this afternoon to do that so that I can get a better photo of my little stitches next time. But isn't this cute?! I really don't have much more to do on it. Then "February" will start! I'm stitching this one on Davos fabric in an oatmeal color.

I didn't work on the "Angel of Divinity" stocking at all. I did find it, but the fabric was rolled up when it was stored, and then got flattened. Now there are all kinds of horizontal fold lines going across the fabric. I want to find out if I can get these out before I start stitching. It's been stored for a long time so I'm hoping it's not a lost cause.

The last WIP on my list was the English Cottage Sampler. I sat down with this one and started to stitch, but realized another problem I was having with it: the chart itself. It appears to have been hand written and (for me) is difficult to follow. Excuses, excuses. But really, it just adds to the un-fun-ness of this project. Sigh. I don't know if I'm going to be able to pick this one back up. Do you have any projects like that, or is it just me?

You can read all about the WIPocalypse SAL by going to Measi's Musings. The question of the month is: What Stitch-a-Longs (SALs) are you participating in this year? My answer is that this is the only one! And that's okay. I'm not the world's fastest stitcher (ok, I'm a slow stitcher.) and this is pretty much all I can handle with the other crafting endeavors I am working on or planning.

So that is my stitching progress for January! I'm thinking about adding a new project soon, but as of right now I don't know which one to start. But that's the fun of it, right?