Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's December?

I'm having a hard time believing that we're already into the double digits of December.  I certainly know that it's December, but how a month can fly by so quickly is beyond me.  It's probably because there is so much to do, and so much that's expected of us that we get to the end of the month and ask "What just happened there?".  So now that we're at the less-than-two-weeks until Christmas point, I intend to slow down a little.

Mark and I started this slow-down yesterday by attending the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Christmas Show.  This is a tradition we've held for about 13 years now.  Yes, it's pretty much the same show every year and no, that doesn't matter to us.  After listening to these talented musicians and singers perform their beautiful selections, there was no way we couldn't be in the Christmas spirit.

We also participated in Clark's Christmas Kids again this year.  You've seen Wal-Mart busy at the holidays, but not like this.  Clark broadcasts his show right there from the Wal-Mart, where people can come in a choose a child in the Georgia foster system to buy for.  Then it's time to take the cart and find your gifts.  But despite all of the jostling, it's a happy crowd.  I know that the purpose of this event is to benefit needy kids, but the givers get a good feeling from the experience too.

With everything going on, it's been difficult to find stitching time, or any kind of crafting time for that matter.  I've been thinking that all I want for Christmas is a day of uninterrupted stitching time.  Wouldn't that be nice?  I did frame my Peppermint Twist, which I finished stitching earlier this year.  Once again, the people at American Frame came through with exactly what I needed.  I chose a lovely green frame and red mat, which matched the stitching perfectly.  I had forgotten how much I like this piece -- so pretty and cheerful for the Christmas season.  Plus, I had the perfect wall for it, and there it will stay until the last decoration is put away. 

Tonight is our neighborhood's "Night of Lights" luminary display.  Mark has already prepared our luminaries so that they will be ready to be placed and lit at 7:00.  Sheila, Fred, Emily and Grace will be joining us for this and a pizza dinner.  And hopefully, a little walk through the neighborhood.  It's time to slow down and enjoy this beautiful Christmas season.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Another finish for me, this time a stitching finish.  It's "Joy" by Little House Needleworks.  This caught my eye when it came out because of its simplicity and colors.  Even though I knew the finished size, for some reason I kept thinking it would be ornament size.  But it's a lot larger than the usual ornament.  So I will finish it as shown in its chart photo and make it a door hanger and I'll post another picture of it completely done.  But I just had to post this pretty and very seasonal finish!

Still in the Christmas stitching mode, I am working on "Holiest Of Nights" by Homespun Elegance and like the way it's turning out.  Don't worry about the Kitty Kalendar -- it's about halfway done and is just kind of in the back of the rotation.  It hasn't turned into a UFO!  I do want to start something else to keep my current number of stitching projects at three.  Why three?  It just seems like a good number to have going at once! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Finishes Before Thanksgiving!

I'm happy to say that I have a couple of finishes this week, just when we're getting into the hectic part of the holidays when I often feel like I'm a step behind.  My first finish is my fabric wreath!  When I saw this project online, I thought it would be kind of cute, but it turned out very pretty.  It will definitely brighten up a wall in our home over the Christmas holidays.  You can find the directions to make one of these wreaths here.  A couple of things though.  The straw wreaths were a little hard to find.  I finally ended up buying the last two 10" wreaths at Hobby Lobby.  It also calls for the use of a pinking rotary cutter, and as you may have read in my previous post, that just didn't work at all.  Never did find out what the deal with that was.  So if you already have pinking shears, you can save yourself some money and use those.  Just take a break while cutting out the fabric squares or your hand will fall off.  I didn't do the ribbon hanger because I'm going to hang the wreath on an existing nail and I didn't want that to show.  So I threaded a piece of fishing line into a large needle and poked it through the wreath in the back, knotted it into a loop, and now have a no-show hanger.  Oh, and use a thicker Phillips-head screwdriver to push in your fabric squares.

My second finish is my bellpull.  I stitched all three Christmas Box Ornaments by Country Garden Stitchery on one piece of fabric and found a nice bellpull hanger and there you have it.  It needs a good ironing around the edges, I know.  I was glad to be done with the metallic floss portion of the stitching, but it did make the finished product oh-so-pretty!

I wanted to show you another finish that I can't take credit for because it's Sheila's!  I believe this is from the 2010 issue of the JCS Ornament Issue.  I should know this, I realize.  But seeing as how this is her first ornament finish, I think it's pretty impressive.  So now when I want to do an ornament finish with the ribbon and beads, I'll know who to consult.  Very pretty, Sheila!

Also this week, I signed up for Daffycat's TUSAL.  That's "Totally Useless Stitch-a-long".  It just looked like fun.  You can find out more about it at Daffycat's blog on her November 15 post.  People probably think we stitchers are a little nuts for saving our floss ends, or orts, in pretty jars, but that's fine.  And there are currently 152 of us signed up for the TUSAL, so who's nuts?!

My serger continues to vex me.  I worked on it a little more this week and got it to where I thought the threading was absolutely correct.  Not so much.  It's still not making the chain when I turn the wheel.  Hmmmm.  I think I'm going to have to do what I've been avoiding all along -- unthread the thing completely and then start from scratch.  Someone online thought it would be a good idea to take your serger to a sewing machine repair place to have them thread it for you, but that would probably cost more than I paid for it to begin with!  But, just to let you know, the serger has not defeated me!  I am determined!

I just want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  What a great time to think about what we have and how thankful we are for it.  Until next time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Crafty Guy Strikes Again

In my last post I talked about crafters receiving hand-made gifts from other creative people.  I didn't mention another hand-crafted gift I was given very recently.  As you  may know from a previous post (Crafty Guy), Mark does woodworking on a lathe.  He has made some beautiful items for me and for friends in the past and they have been much appreciated.  During the past few months, the subject of a lamp came up.  It sounded like a particularly ambitious project, but that didn't stop Crafty Guy.  Then recently, I was presented with a lovely lamp for my craft room!  It's certainly much nicer than the metal desk lamp I'd been using!  The base is made out of maple, and the spindle part is jobillo.  Not sure what that is or where it comes from, but it looks good.

Nice work, Mark!  Something I can really use, and it looks good in the crafting space.  I'm still a little iffy on the shade, but it was the best I could find so far.  If I happen to spot a better one someplace, you can be sure I'll be changing it.  But I am very happy with my new lamp and it will be put to good use!

I will be posting soon with a photo of my finished wreath, as promised.  So far no additional progress on my bellpull, but hope to take some time for that this week.  I have begun another project, but won't be able to post a photo of that until January!  Shhh, it's a secret. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Crafty Gift For A Crafter

It doesn't matter what kinds of crafts we do, we crafters like to receive hand crafted gifts too.  Last Saturday at stitch day at The Stitch Store, one of our Chinese exchange gifts was a handmade tea cozy and bun warmer set.  It was beautifully made and the gift that got the most oohs and aahs.  I wish I had my camera with me.  Next time.  And I will add that ALL of the gifts were lovely and greatly appreciated!

Today Sheila and I went to J. Christopher's and enjoyed catching up over breakfast and yummy cappuccinos.  We hadn't gotten together in a while, and I knew that she was crocheting a scarf for me.  So today was the day I got my present!  It's beautiful and the colors are perfect!  I just love when someone crafts something for me.  Is it because I know the work that goes into it?  Maybe.  But it's especially nice to know that someone was making something with me in mind.  This pretty scarf kind of makes me want some cold weather so I can wear it!

We had a couple of hours to work on our fabric wreaths.  So far we love the result!  Just look!  We're both very happy with the fabric selection that we chose.  At the time, we weren't sure about what fabrics to select because we basically didn't know what we were doing, but I think we were successful.  The secret is to use a fatter screwdriver.  Looks pretty good so far, right?  I'm positive that it will look even better when it's finished and fluffed out.  Of course, I'll post a picture!  You know I will. 

I mentioned our stitch day on Saturday.  As usual, it was a good group -- lots of different personalities who seem to get along extremely well.  I'm quickly getting into the Christmas spirit and decided to start a second Christmasy project.  I started "Joy" by Little House Needleworks at our stitch day and got a lot done!  It's turning out a lot larger than your average ornament, so I'll probably finish it as a door hanger.  Maybe.  The other Christmas stitching project I'm working on is "Holiest of Nights" by Homespun Elegance.  Will I get them done by Christmas?  Possibly next Christmas, and that's fine with me.  It's just nice to work on something like these during the Christmas season.

It's always good to have a helper when you're doing a project, whether it be a craft project or just writing your blog.  Here's my latest "helper".  It's Ozzy, and he's being very productive sitting in our printer stand between Purdue Pete and Georgia Tech's Buzz.  Nice to know I have an assistant.

Hey, I'm up to 45 followers!!  It makes me happy to know that people are actually reading my blog.  I hope that you're all at least a little bit informed and entertained.  I also appreciate and enjoy the comments I'm getting too.  So thank you!

My goals for the upcoming week are:  Finishing the Christmas bellpull and starting a project which is going to be a gift so it's all hush-hush right now!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crafty Odds and Ends

The craft room has been a busy place lately.  Gobble has been framed and is already gracing the family room with his cuteness. This was a fun project and a pretty quick stitch.  I'd like to stitch seasonal pieces to frame and put in a little frame stand at the appropriate time of the year.  It'll be interesting to see what I come up with.

I also finished stitching Christmas Box Ornaments last night.  The boxes are very pretty decorated with metallic thread and beads.  I will admit that I didn't enjoy working with the metallic thread, even the end result is lovely.  I know I want to make this into a bellpull, but still have to figure out how I'm going to do that.  Should it have a different fabric backing, or should I just fold the fabric back to make a self-backing?  Should the bottom be straight or pointed?  Any suggestions are welcome.

Sheila and I have decided to do a wreath project that she found instructions for on the web.  The base is a straw wreath, and the decorative part is fabric.  So I spent part of Friday morning cutting out hundreds of squares of Christmas fabric.  It didn't take me that long to do once I had a method.  This week we will attempt to make the wreaths.  I'll let you know how it turns out and will post pictures.  I'll also post the link IF the project is successful.  I mean, I've never jammed squares of fabric into a straw wreath with a Phillips head screwdriver before, so who knows what will happen! I bought a new rotary cutter with a pinking blade to use for this project, but it won't cut through the fabric!  I've used rotary cutters before with no problem, so I don't know what the deal is here.  I watched a Youtube video of people cutting through fabric like it's butter.  Mine - not so much.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Or am I doing something wrong?  I haven't tried it with the straight cutter, just the pinking.  Luckily I had some pinking shears and they saved the day.

And just to prove that I was able to overcome my fear of the serger, I'm posting a picture of my "progress" in threading it.  I've actually succeeded in threading it, but there is one step that is wrong.  I know what it is, but can't figure out how to place the thread where it says to.  I might be able to if I had Barbie hands.  The cats might be able to fit their little paws in there, but then there is the problem of lack of thumbs.  But I am still determined to get this thing going. 

Thanks for reading my blog.  I'm always happy to read your comments and get new followers!  Welcome to my new followers.  Thanks for joining in the crafty fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO! Scary, Scary!!

It came from the depths of the closet where is has been lurking for years.  And it chose the spookiest, scariest day to make its presence known.  All because it wants to torment its owner.  Bwahahahaha!  What could this horrible being be?  Okay, it's just a mini serger, but a little scary, don't you think?  No, you say?  Not scary at all?  But just look at it!  I bought this little device on Ebay maybe about 4 years ago because I thought it would be useful for sewing and for serging the edges of my stitching fabric.  It didn't cost much, and looks to be in good condition.  When I got it, I looked in the box (original, with instructions) and said, "Yep, there's a serger in there" and put it in the closet.  Yeah, I don't even know if it works.  Shame on me.  You see, I've been a bit intimidated by this innocent little machine even though it might make my crafting easier.  But now that I'm working at a cross stitch store where operating a serger is a necessity, I think I've overcome my fear.  I operate the one at work like a pro and can even re-thread the thing, even though it may take me a little time to navigate the threads through all of their little hook and loop mazes.  And now I am ready to tackle my very own wee machine.  It is kind of cute.  Plus, it will be interesting to find out if it actually works.  I'm determined.  I'll keep you posted.

To prove that I actually have been doing some cross stitch, here's the progress on my current project (one of them).  It's Christmas Box Ornaments by Country Garden Stitchery.  I kind of can't wait to get to the metallic thread and bead part!

My other goal this week is to get "Gobble" all framed so he can be on display through Thanksgiving.  Plus, Sheila and I will be headed to Joann's Crafts this week to pick up some supplies for a cute wreath project she found online.  And I'm going to get some yarn for a special project.

I hope you have a fun Halloween!  It's always fun to see all the neighborhood kids dressed up cute and excited to get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite Halloween pictures of all time.  It just cracks me up every time I see it.  These cute doggies belong to my niece and my brother and sister-in-law.  I'm just jealous because I could never get my cats to wear costumes.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stitching Myths & An Interesting Survey

I've been doing cross stitch for a long time and have heard all kinds of generalizations about us stitchers.  It's kind of sad to hear all of these false assumptions about me and my fellow stitchers and our favorite pastime.  So not long ago, I decided to do a survey.  A very informal, non-scientific survey, but my questions got some interesting answers.  My survey was done on the 1-2-3 Stitch message board, which I like to visit.  I asked three very straightforward questions hoping to debunk some of the meaner myths about stitching and got 95 replies. 

Myth #1:  People who do cross stitch are all old ladies.  Sorry, I'm not buying this one.  My survey showed that my respondents had an average age of 54.  That's not an old lady age, especially since 50 is the new 40.  I keep telling myself that.  The youngest person surveyed was 23 and the person with the most birthdays was 84.  I also know for a fact from working at The Stitch Store and from blogs that I read that there are quite a few women in their teens and 20's who share our love for cross stitch.  Plus, I've noticed that there are some stitching guys who participate on the message board.  So, sorry, cross stitch critics, you don't win this one.

Myth #2:  Cross stitch is just a passing fancy and not something that you'll be interested in after this phase is over.  Hah! is all I have to say about this one.  The participants in my survey have been stitching for an average of 29 years!  Sure, there were a few beginners in the group with less than 10 years (not really a beginner), but many had been stitching for 30, 40 and 50 years!  Two of the most experienced had been working with needle and thread for 60 years!  A phase?  I think not.

Myth #3:  Cross stitch is a silly pastime.  I couldn't just sit there and do that.  I have more important things to do.  I've heard this one from a few people, and I'm sure that other stitchers have too.  Quite a few years back this lady came over to my house for the first time.  I had just framed three very small finished pieces of little garden scenes that I did on 18 count Aida.  I was very pleased with the way these had turned out.  She went right up to where they were hanging and asked me if I had done these.  Then she looked closer at them and said, "Oh, that's so tedious."  And then nothing.  Nothing nice to say. 

The answers to my question "Why do you stitch?" were all answered with obvious enthusiasm.  There was a common thread (pun intended) running through all of the answers.  I read the words "relaxing", "soothing", "stress-reducing" many times.  Also, many participants said that they liked to stitch for an artistic outlet and to watch something grow and take shape.  And there were those who liked to give gifts of something they made themselves.  Then there were the answers that touched me.  Like one lady who said that doing cross stitch keeps her mind off of her constant pain.  Or those with health problems who said that it helps get them through some tough times.  One lady is caring for her father who has Alzheimers and stitching takes some of her stress away.

I had to smile at the stitcher who said she can stitch while on her exercise bike!  And how about the 84 year young lady who said "I enjoy it and I can still do it!"  I want to be like her.

Sounds to me like cross stitch IS the "more important thing to do".  We go out of our way to do it.  We arrange get togethers, camps and just stitching with friends days.   We plan our next project(s).  We seek out fellow stitchers on the internet and Facebook and join groups.  I share a lot of the reasons why people stitch, but another reason I'm glad I stitch is because of the many friends I've made through it.

Thank you to all who participated in my survey.  Your overwhelming response served to show what a great group of people cross stitchers are!  So keep on stitching and try to get others interested in it.  And, naysayers, say what you will.  But it would be easier just to join us.  You know you want to.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scissor Happy

I'm pretty sure that scissors are the one implement that crafters of all kinds have in their tool kits.  People who sew have fabric scissors that have never cut paper.  Scrapbookers treasure their pattern cutter scissors.  Stitchers love a good pair of sharp embroidery scissors to snip those threads closely.  Scissors are a topic of conversation on the cross stitch message board I like to visit and at Stitch Days alike.  What kind do you like?  How many do you have?  Are expensive scissors worth it?  Do you have the new Ginghers yet?  Can you carry scissors onto an airplane?  (The answer to this last question is yes, metal scissors with pointed tips are allowed, as long as the blades are less than four inches.  BUT the TSA can prohibit any item on that's not on the prohibited list, meaning go ahead and carry them on, but it is possible that they could still be taken away.  I've carried on small scissors the last four times I've flown without a problem.  Just don't carry on your favorite/heirloom/expensive scissors.)

Like many stitchers, I have more than one pair of little scissors.  So when the topic of "How do you store your scissors?" came up on the message board, I was interested.  People shared photos of creative ways to store their scissors.  Then my Facebook friend and fellow stitcher, Martha, posted a photo of her scissor storage and I immediately went to Ebay.  My purchase was a glass flower frog.  It think it has 16 holes, which I thought I'd never fill.  Ha ha.   It was very inexpensive and fit perfectly into a bowl I already had.  Another fellow stitcher, Shannon, recently posted photos chronicling the steps to make a scissor holder board.  Lovely!  And let's not forget the creative scissor holders that Mark makes on the lathe.  See my "Crafty Guy" post.

Soooooo, here's how not to use scissors.  The other day at work, my bangs kept hanging in my eyes and just irritating me.  Yesterday morning, as I was attempting to arrange my hair into something presentable, the bangs were being difficult so I got a sharp pair of scissors and snipped them to what I thought was a good length.  Wrong.  They now resembled the bangs on a somewhat unstable character in a movie I once saw.  I was once told by a hairstylist that everyone does this. When I have to go in for a haircut in the next couple of weeks, the girl who cuts my hair will probably laugh.   Sheila related an experience in which Fred gave her a trim which resulted in a Dutch boy look.  I don't remember that.  I'm pretty much over it and am dealing with it, but will probably never do it again.  I think.  And no, I won't be posting a picture of my new 'do.

I took my own advice this week and sat down and stitched a little more.  I'm on my feet a lot at work, so it was good to get home and sit down for a while.  And not feel guilty about it.  Here's the result:
I'm happy with the way this is turning out.  I thought I'd do the main stitching first and then go back and do the metallic thread and beads.  It will make a very pretty bellpull.

Tomorrow is Stitch Day at The Stitch Store!
Looking forward to that.  It's going to be a full house of stitching friends.  Think we'll talk about scissors?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Turkey & Time Management

Whew, this has been a busy month.  I'm not complaining.  Most of what's been going on has been enjoyable.  I'm finally getting used to the new routine that my new job is creating.  I'm really liking it!  I'm so lucky to have every Thursday off so that I can work at The Stitch Store.  I was there this past Thursday after being absent last week and it was good to get back.  As usual, it was a pleasure to help the customers with all of their stitchy needs.  As for the rest of the days of the week, I can be scheduled for any of them.  With the addition of extra working hours, I'm finding that I just need to remember to take some time for stitching or just puttering around in the craft room. 

The good news is that the turkey is done!  Now how can you not like this little feathered friend?  Gobble has yet to be framed, but I already have the special frame made especially for him.

Chicky 2.0
Purse by Sheila
Now for something I haven't done in a while -- crocheting.  If you need something square or rectangular, done in basic single crochet, I'm your gal.  I've made quite a few baby afghans (and small big-people afghans) and scarves in my time.  Yes, I am the expert when it comes to simple, basic crochet.  One time, I even got crazy and made a ripple afghan!  I will say that Matt really seemed to like the hipster man-scarves I made for him.  A few weeks ago I found a skein of cotton yarn and started crocheting.  Sheila will tell you that first I had to untangle the yarn, which took about 3 hours.  And I ended up with a cute dish washing cloth.  Pretty cool, huh?  Maybe I should expand my crochet horizons and learn a new stitch.  OK, now I have a new goal.  I don't think I'll ever be as talented as my Auntie Helen.  One year she gave Matt an Easter basket with cute little crocheted Easter eggs and chicks.  I still have one of the chicks.  The white one disappeared sometime after Ozzy chose it as his favorite toy.  Oh, and look at what Sheila made on her first attempt at crocheting - a very cute little purse for Grace.

Coming up this week:  I'd like to start a new project.  It's "Christmas Box Ornaments" by Country Garden Stitchery.  They're shown finished
as separate ornaments, but I'm going to stitch the three of them one on top of the other to make a little bell pull.  It's all kitted up and ready to go, just in time for Saturday Stitch Day at The Stitch Store next week!
Have a wonderful week! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Too Busy To Stitch?

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for me.  First, there was the family get-together in Hiawassee, GA which was so nice.  Beautiful weather, lots of laughs and all four of us siblings together.  That doesn't happen very often.  Then last weekend was stitch camp at The Stitch Store.  Another reunion of sorts because in attendance were two friends from our first camp, and one from last year's camp.  Plus, as a bonus, a new stitcher and friend joined us.  And let's not forget Terrie, the owner of the Stitch Store who makes camp possible and wonderful.  Camp is so relaxing because: a) we can stitch all we want; b) we don't have to cook or clean up; and c) it's just fun to yak with friends about stitching or anything we feel like.  We had our Chinese gift exchange, which meant lots of "stealing" of goodies, but I think everyone was happy in the end.  My gift was a cute Halloween chart, floss, fabric and candy, all put together in a cute Halloween carrier.

I did get in some good stitching time at camp.   Here's my progress on my current projects, Kitty Kalendar and Gobble.  But since camp, I've hardly picked up a needle.  Right now, our son Matt is here for a rare mid-semester visit.  It's great having him home.  Yesterday, he sat down with me and helped me to spiff up my blog layout.  A little bit of computer craftiness!  What do you think? 

Add to all of this a new job and I'm on overload.  I'm a person who likes routine.  And I like my stitching time and crafting time.  So I think that tonight I will do a some stitching on Gobble because I'd like to finish him before Thanksgiving.  Speaking of which, I've already heard two commercials reminding us that the holidays are right around the corner.  How did that happen so quick?!  I've also heard people talking about Christmas shopping that they already did!  Who else has started shopping?  Not me.

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented on, and decided to follow my blog.  Feel free to leave a comment now and then so I'll know how I'm doing. I love comments and new followers!

For the present, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of Matt's visit and a few days off.  Have a good week!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally Framed!

Thanks to everyone who had great ideas for how I can get going on my scrapbook, both here and on Facebook.  Those were some wonderful suggestions that make total sense to me.  I'm going to set some time aside for working on it. 

This hasn't been the biggest stitching week for me.  I've been a little tired and instead of taking out my stitching in the evening to do while watching TV (pretty impressive multitasking, huh?), I've tended to veg out in front of the TV.  But I recently framed up three projects myself, which is quite an accomplishment.  Stitchers often have a dilemma of what to do with finished projects.  Let's see, you can have them framed, make a pillow, craft it into a bellpull or wall hanging, or sew a pin cushion.  I know that there are other extremely creative things that people do with their finished cross stitch.  The dilemma comes when we want to frame our finishes.  Framing can be very costly and the more you stitch, the more $$$ you will part with. 

A few years back, I decided to learn how to do my own framing.  With the help of online instructions on how to pin my finished project to foam core board, and the discovery of American Frame, I am now a pretty good framer.  American Frame is a good source for custom frames, mats and foam core.  Plus, they'll cut a piece of plexiglass for you if you want.  They include all of the finishing hardware too.  The good part is that you can get a good result for a fraction of what the framing places cost, all for a little time and do-it-yourself work!  Now, if I ever finish my giant UFO or do any other large project, it will go to the professionals.  But for small stuff like what you see here, framing it myself just makes perfect sense. 

From left to right:  Snow White by Little House Needleworks; Joyful Summer by Country Cottage Needleworks; and I don't know what the one on the right is.  I stitched this one in 1988, first time stitching on linen.  I thought it was about time it was framed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scrapper's Block

This is a plea to all of my scrapbooking friends out there.  How do I get my scrapping mojo back?  This is a scrapbook that I started two (hanging head in shame) years ago.  Let me just say that I think scrapbooking is cool.  Sheila loaned me a book that was full of examples and hints and it was so interesting to look at.  What great ideas!  I love all the stuff that goes with scrapping -- papers, punches, stamps, etc. etc.  I'm especially enamored with the adhesive selection, like the little sticky roller (awesome). Plus I have completed one scrapbook in the past, and I must say that it turned out very well.  And if you want to get really technical about it, I would put together an end-of-the-year book for each child during my preschool-teaching days.  So I know what to do, I think.  I have all of the stuff.  Except for the "get up and do it".

The book in question will be a remembrance of our trip of a lifetime to London in 2009.  While we were there, I knew that I wanted to do this, and reminded Mark and Matt to keep everything.  Tube maps, ticket stubs, tour books, all the good stuff.  And I took a lot of pictures.  So here I am, with a nice bunch of interesting and colorful items to place in my book.  When I took all of this stuff out over the weekend, I was pleased to see that I actually liked the three pages that I crafted!  All I have to do now is get rid of this "scrapper's block" and get going again.  But how?  Am I overthinking this?  Getting too far ahead of myself?  Should I just concentrate on one page at a time? Is there a good way to organize all of the stuff I want to put into the book?

OK, fellow scrappers, please help me here.  Any ideas, suggestions or criticisms you have will be appreciated, and I thank you in advance!  When it's finished, I'll photograph it and post it here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Think I'll Get Tired Of Stitching Cats?

I am thoroughly enjoying stitching my current (one of them, anyway) project, Val's Stuff "Kitty Kalendar".  Each time I finish a cat month, it's like I get to begin a new project!  Like a little accomplishment.  It's lots of fun filling in each little square and finding out what each cat is going to look like.  Plus, it's nice to see how all of the Weeks Dye Works colors are going to look together.  It was coincidental that I stitched the "April" cat in the raincoat and hat on the day we had the most rain in weeks.  If you'll notice, the cats don't have their whiskers yet.  They're stitched in long stitch and I'm afraid that they'll catch on stuff as I stitch.  Those will go on last along with the cute buttons for each month.
My latest start is "Charmed Gobble" by Hinzeit.  The first time I saw this stitched up, I knew that this would be a great addition to my framed seasonal finishes.  I like to have something stitched that I can put in an easel stand and switch out for the seasons.  I've got Halloween and Christmas covered, so a little Thanksgiving project like this is just the ticket.  And that turkey is a cutie!

Next, I have to decide what else to start so I'll be all set for stitch camp at The Stitch Store later on this month!  My sister, Sheila, and I are going, along with friends we met at previous camps and a few new stitchers!  It will be a fun reunion and I plan to share pictures of this relaxing stitchy weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Orts And A Happy Find

When we moved two years ago, only two things broke.  One was a wineglass which I think may have broken in transit.  No big deal, easily replaced.  The other was my thread bucket.  It slipped right out of my hand as I was unpacking it and shattered into many pieces.  This one WAS a big deal.  Let me explain.  My thread bucket is not a bucket at all, but a little crystal dish that was given to me by my mom.  It was always right at hand on an end table to put all of my orts, or thread ends into as I stitched.  Our son was pretty small at the time, and he was the one who gave this elegant little bowl the name "Thread Bucket".  The name stuck.  So you can see why Thread Bucket's demise hit me hard. 

Every once in a while, I'd go on Ebay and see if I could find a replica.  There were lots of pretty crystal dishes there, but not one that resembled my thread bucket.  Until a couple of weeks ago.  Yes, there it was!  Maybe not exactly the same, but pretty close!  So I bid and won it!  For ninety nine cents!!  It's slightly smaller and more rounded, but the same design.  And yes, I realize it's not the one that my mom gave me, but the story about this find is something that Mom would have loved:  Finding another one AND getting it for a bargain price!  It now sits at my right hand on the end table next to my stitching spot.  Mark has taken to calling it "Thread Bucket Junior".

One stitching term that I wasn't familiar with until a few years ago was "orts".  I'd been calling them "thread pieces" or "thread ends", so was surprised when I found out that there was an actual term for them!  The word "ort" is short for "old raggedy threads".  I also looked the word up in the dictionary and the definition was "a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal".  (Huh, food left over?)  But I found it funny that this definition also involved a scrap.  And when I realized that many stitchers saved their orts and displayed them in pretty containers, I decided to join the fun.  My jar is sure to be filled up with lots of colorful orts as I work on my Kitty Kalendar.  I'll post an update soon.
Ort Cat

Friday, August 26, 2011

Princess of Purses

I admit it.  Whenever I pass a purse department, I have to look.  Sometimes I just glance and more often than not, I have to go on in there and check out what's new.  Purses, totes, carryalls -- I like them all!  I'm pretty fussy about what features a purse should have, so I don't have a gigantic collection, but I do have a few.  Ahem, OK, more than a few.  One time I went over to my sister Sheila's house and my niece, Grace asked me, "Is that a new purse, Auntie Cathy?"  And I told her that indeed it was, because I'm the Princess of Purses.  The look she gave me was either awe or total disbelief.

So for a long time, I searched for the ideal tote bag pattern to sew.  Nothing appealed to my discriminating eye until I found an online tutorial on how to make a bag.  These were good, no-nonsense instructions that I had no problem following.  I made the first one out of a remnant of fabric and it turned out to be sort of a weird shape.  So I adjusted the measurements to my liking, added heavy interfacing and a bottom reinforcer for body, sturdier and longer handles, interior pockets and a button and loop closure.  And there you have it! Cute and totally usable tote bags!

Sheila uses hers (not pictured) for her cross-stitch stuff and Suzanne says that hers is perfect for her knitting.  I even made some smaller versions of these for Emily and Grace.  (Sorry, I had some trouble adding some photos.) 

I've been thinking about how to improve on these totes.  How about a zip top?  An inset where a cross-stitched piece could go?  A smaller version that could be truly called a purse? 

It will be back to the drawing board as I contemplate these changes.  One thing I know is that I'll always be able to find fabrics I like for these.  Mainly I just go to the quilting fabrics display.  Quilting fabrics work well for these bags and there are so many beautiful choices. 

I know that I'm not the only Princess of Purses, and I hope that the others will approve.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Incense & Peppermints

This has been a week of finishing, completing, and wrapping things up.  Last Saturday was another fun Saturday Stitch In at The Stitch Store and I finally finished "Joyful Summer".  I love the way it turned out and can't wait to give it to my nieces for their room.  Now to frame it.  What kind of frame?:  white?  light wood?  silver?  Opinions?  The little turtle is not part of this stitched piece.  He was just too cute to leave out.

We also got some no-so-much-fun things sorted out and wrapped up.  And hopefully we won't have to think about them for a while.

There was a pretty surprise in our yard when our gardenia bush decided to give us one more beautiful, perfect flower before resting for the rest of the year.  This shrub flowers in May and June, so it's kind of unusual to see one of these little blooms now.
Also, this week there was some sad news in the stitching/blogging community.  Gazette94 has decided to stop her blog.  This talented blogger and designer has been posting her lovely cross stitch designs for several years.  And what's more, she was generously offering these designs free for the downloading.  The blog is a treasure trove of hundreds of charts.  I had just started following her blog a couple of weeks ago, and had been looking forward to what we would be seeing in the future  So she will be missed.  As she said on her final post:  "Au revoir".

I'm continuing to work on my current project - Val's Stuff Kitty Kalendar.  I am so glad that I stitched all of the little boxes first.  Now that the measury-fussy part of it is done, I can just enjoy filling each one in.  It just makes me smile and I have the perfect place in the craft room to hang it.  Hopefully, this doesn't certify me as a crazy cat lady.  It doesn't, does it?  Because I'm not.

Wait!  This is the only project I'm actively working on right now!  My "serial starter" side says I must start a new one.

My blog now has 24 followers, and I am grateful for each one.  Give me a comment once in a while and let me know how I'm doing.  And for those of you who aren't followers yet, go ahead and follow!  There is no cost or obligation.

Oh, and the "Incense & Peppermints" thing?  That is just the song that has been stuck in my head for the past couple of days since I was on YouTube viewing 60's songs.  It's not a bad song, but it's stuck and won't leave.  And one word of warning:  if you decide to watch and listen to this on YouTube, and if you choose the one with the peace symbol, be careful looking at that crazy color-strobing peacock that appears.  It will make your eyes go wonky.  And you may get this song stuck in your head.

Monday, August 1, 2011

For The Cat Fashionista

I have a great appreciation for all kinds of things that people make by hand, whether it be cross-stitch, quilting, sewing, beading and jewelry making, woodworking or scrapbooking. The handmade items in this website, , are no exception. I want that to be clear. But "The Tailor of a Cat Catprin" is saved in my bookmarked favorites mainly for one reason: my entertainment. The cats, or models, are adorable and look like they're patiently putting up with their owners' silliness because they are such good animal companions. But you know they're thinking, "OK, you got the picture. Now TAKE THIS OFF OF ME!"

I try to imagine what would happen if I were to try to put, say, the Anne of Green Gables headpiece on Moxie, or the Hat of Leopard on Cosmo. If I was even successful at putting these on their squirming and twisting heads, they'd spend the rest of the day trying to slap, bite or chew them off. So no, I won't be sending any yen to Japan.

But you have to appreciate the workmanship and the entrepreneurship here! I hope that they're successful in their venture and that there are felines all over Japan sporting Young Lady Blouses and Hats of Rabbits. And what's more, there is apparently some luck to be gained if you dress your cat up in one of these and then take his picture. Just something you might want to think about.

This is the only time I've ever put any kind of clothing on any of my cats. I think.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Joyful Summer

This past week turned out to be a busy one, so not much time for creativity or craftiness. I did get a little stitching during the season premier of Project Runway. Quit laughing.

One highlight of the week was movie day at Sheila's! Emily, Grace, Sheila and I spent a fun afternoon eating popcorn and watching the Beatles movie Help! The girls had never seen the movie before, and Sheila and I hadn't seen it in a long time. It was as good as I remembered it and it was easy to see why the Beatles were so popular in their heyday and still are. Emily and Grace even opted for a double feature -- of Help! I guess they enjoyed it!

I also got to spend a couple of days working at The Stitch Store. It was a pleasure spending the days helping so many nice people. The store was visited by some "regulars", along with a few new faces! Needless to say, my scissors were busy cutting a whole lot of fabric! People seemed to be in the stitching mode during the last couple of days.

Hopefully I can get a little time this weekend to work on my current project, Joyful Summer by Country Cottage Needleworks. I'm stitching it on "Summer Sky" Jobelan, which is a fabric I love.Pretty floss colors and a summery fabric make this a good project to work on at this time of year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two Patriotic Finishes

This must be the year of finishes. I don't think I've ever completed so many cross-stitch projects in one year. And it's not like I'm stitching all day, every day. Wait, I did stitch all day last Saturday, but that's not the norm for me. Maybe my needle is just going faster?

This first finish is not cross-stitch at all! It's some very cute cupcake creations that were made by Grace and Emily on the fourth of July. Now this is creativity! I have to say that these are very well done!

I put the last stitch in "America" by Little House Needleworks last Friday.

With all of these finishes, I really need to start doing some framing. With that thought, I wonder how many stitchers frame as they complete, how many complete and never frame, and how many just frame some projects. I'm in a fourth category: I have a few finishes, and will most likely frame all of them. More about that in an upcoming blog.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Priceless Day Stitching With Friends

This past Saturday was a Stitch-In day at The Stitch Store . Sheila and I hadn't been to one in a while, so this was something we'd been looking forward to. As usual, it was a lovely day stitching with a group of wonderful ladies. The attendees vary from Stitch-In to Stitch-In, but that doesn't change the fun level. As I thought about our day, I realized that we stitchers vary in so many aspects: age, where we're from, children or no children, married or not, education, employment, etc. But it seems that we all like to talk, laugh, eat and most importantly, stitch. It's the thread that holds us together, pun intended. We probably disagree on things too, but those things are trivial when we're working with fabric and thread.

There's a Glory Bee chart called Stitching With Friends that expresses this perfectly. It says "spending an afternoon stitching with friends is priceless". How true!

So, Terrie, thanks for the day at your store and for all that you do for us. And the cake. Oh yes, the cake.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Makes A UFO?

Before you start thinking I've gone a little kooky and am going to start talking about aliens and flying saucers, just wait a minute. If you keep reading, you'll find that the UFO's I'm referring to are known to us stitchers (and maybe other crafters) as UnFinished Objects. Do we all have them? Probably not all of us, but my guess is that many stitchers have a UFO or two hiding out somewhere in their stash.

Now, a Work In Progress (WIP) is a totally different thing than a UFO. In my book anyway. A WIP is something you're actively working on. You may not have picked it up in a couple of months, but it's an ongoing project that you intend to complete. The UFO, though, is more likely to be years old and your needle has not passed through that fabric in an embarrassingly long time. Nor are you sure that you will ever finish it. They're not necessarily bad projects; there is just something about them that makes it a) not fun; or b) difficult to work on. Maybe you've just come up with things to do that are more interesting. Or it's possible that the fabric you chose is suddenly a challenge for your aging eyes.

Case in point: my two UFO's: English Cottage Sampler by Theresa Wentzler and Angel of Divinity Stocking kit by Dimensions. When I bought the TW chart, I didn't know how, um, involved these can be. They're beautiful and that beauty comes with a price: blended threads, 7 shades of green, tons and tons of backstitching. And the stocking, well, it may look like it's almost done, but no. It's one of these designs that's 100% stitched over the surface, so there's so much more to do.

It's not totally out of the realm of possibility that I'll someday pick these up and start stitching, which is the reason I haven't thrown them out or given them away. I just have so many other things, I'd like to stitch in the meantime. So, alas, these two will just have to retain their UFO status for a while. But who knows? I might surprise you, and myself, someday.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Little Creativity

I should know better, but I bought some beads. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? If you saw my collection, however, you'd surely tell me that I should not buy any more beads. I found myself in Joann Etc. and saw these pretty mother of pearl looking flower pendants and knew that something had to be made with it. This is not the best photo in the world, but you get the idea. I hadn't made any jewelry lately, so it was fun getting back into working with beads and findings.

Also, the surprise of the week for me is the little pin cushion I made from my Blackbird Designs "Breath of Spring" cross stitch which I featured in an earlier blog. I knew I wanted to make it into a pin cushion as was suggested in the instructions in the chart, but decided to change the lace trim for a gathered ribbon effect called ruching. I found some pretty green sheer ribbon and ruched (is that a word?) away. Also interesting about this is that the pin cushion is filled with crushed walnut shells. This was also recommended in the directions. I had to go to the pet store to get these and then buy this giant bag. Apparently birds use these for something. But look! They make excellent pin cushion filling! Almost like a little beanbag. I'm really happy with the way this project turned out. My husband even remarked on my finishing work. Huh.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crafty Guy

I never knew my husband to be particularly crafty. Oh, there was that one time when our son was a toddler and they both got wrapped up in creating with Play-Doh. They ended up making every Winnie the Pooh character known. So cute!! Why did I not take pictures? He also builds things very well. For example, today he's working on his latest project -- the ultimate garage storage system. No purchased plans for him!

So when a kind neighbor gave him a "vintage" wood lathe, I was pleasantly surprised to see what came spinning off of that thing. One of my favorites is the pencil holder he made for me. Then there are the embroidery scissor holders, which are great for us stitchers. If you look closely, one of them features a "captured ring" that moves, but doesn't come off. How he did this is a wood-
working mystery to me.

The little wooden box that kind of looks like a cross between an apple, an acorn and a pumpkin is another favorite.

There are more -- bowls, candle holders, Christmas ornaments and Easter eggs. Each creation is a unique treasure. I'll post more as they come off the lathe.