Monday, May 22, 2017

I Think I Can!

In an attempt to complete some of the Joyful World monthly designs in a somewhat timely way, I chose to stitch "June" after "January". That way I'd have it done in time for June and could display it, right? Well, here we are, speeding toward the end of May, and this is what I have done.
So here's what's left: The border and the apricots on the tree. Not too bad. I think that if I get it done before the middle of June, I'll be doing pretty well. These charts are so much fun to stitch. First, they're all adorable. In addition, the Gentle Arts threads are so nice to work with and you can see the subtle shading as you stitch. I am also very happy with the fabric that I chose for this project.

I guess the big question will be which month to stitch after I complete "June". Maybe "December"? Ha ha. So I can have it completed by December.

I finally kitted up my new project.
It's Rainbow Row by CW Designs. Steph, my daughter-in-law, picked this one out for me when she and Matt visited Charleston SC last year. I'll be stitching it on 32-count ivory Jobelan. I had most of the threads in my stash, and only had to buy two colors! There are maybe 60 different colors, although I didn't count. But what a pretty combination of colors. And guess what! Mark and I went to Charleston this past weekend and I got to see the Rainbow Row in person! Yes, I can see the inspiration for this beautiful cross stitch chart. This will be fun to stitch.  I think I'll put the first stitches into Rainbow Row this week and officially add it to my WIP collection.

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and thank you for all of your kind comments. I enjoy hearing what you have to say. I'd also like to say "Welcome!" to my new followers. I appreciate each one of you and hope that you'll continue to come here and see what I'm up to!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Oven - It's Not Just For Dinner Anymore

I found out something today. Get this: you can bake fabric in your oven! Yes, you heard me right. Baked fabric! We stitchers are always looking for new and different fabrics to use in our projects. I've been wanting to try my hand at dyeing my own fabric for some time now. Looking through Pinterest gave me some ideas, as did my imagination. But I haven't just gone and done anything about it until today.

Somewhere on the internet or Youtube, I saw a reference to The Twisted Stitcher's "Basted and Baked" dyed fabric, and had to look it up right then. Yes, I thought, this is the perfect way to test out my fabric dyeing skills. You can find the instructions HERE. 

I picked up some of the MCG Textiles fabric that Vonna mentions in the instructions, and also decided to use the coffee AND tea combination.

"Before" picture of the fabric, along with foil-covered cookie sheet with sides.
Above you see my strong tea and coffee mixtures. Mmmmmm, both of those look good enough to drink. My fabric went into the pot and then I poured the coffee and tea over it. The fabric stayed in the pot for about 10 minutes and then went onto the cookie sheet all bunched up. Then into the 250 degree Fahrenheit preheated oven.
Here's the fabric after two 15-minute go-rounds. Note the singe-y parts.
Yes, parts of the fabric started to get a little singed during the second 15 minute go-round in the oven. It's important that you keep an eye on your fabric because it can burn just like food can in the oven! Remember that! Vonna mentions that she is not responsible for destroyed or burned results that the reader may have when trying out this technique, and neither am I. Pay close attention to what's going on and don't get distracted by headless-drivers-going-through-the-drive-through videos. Or what your neighbor is having delivered. You know what I mean.
After three 15-minute go-rounds in the oven. Looks good to me.
I did three 15 minute go-rounds in the oven, watching the fabric very carefully. After the first and second go-rounds, I drizzled a little of the coffee/tea mixture onto the fabric. Not too much. I also re-wadded the fabric to get more of the mottled look. After the three 15 minute turns in the oven, I let the fabric cool a bit for easier handling and then rinsed it in cold water. Next I went to the ironing board (which I covered with an old, thick towel) and gave it a good pressing on both sides.
And there's my fabric, all pressed and hanging to dry! It's a very cool antiqued color and has a mottled effect, just like I was hoping for. And both sides are slightly different. I proclaim this as a success and want to thank Vonna, The Twisted Stitcher, for posting the instructions on her blog.

Things to remember if you're doing this:
--Different types of fabric will hold the dye differently. Natural fibers like linen and cotton tend to dye a little darker than fabrics containing synthetic fibers. I was wondering about putting a fabric with synthetic fibers into the oven, and then I saw that Vonna had used Lugana, which contains viscose. How about Jobelan? If you know the answer to that, please share!
--The cold water rinse does wash some of the dye out. Expect your finished product to be a little lighter in color after that rinse than when you took it out of the oven.
--Watch your fabric carefully when it's in the oven! Oh, did I already mention that? Yes? I can't say it enough! Be careful, just as you would with anything in the oven!
--This is indeed colorfast. Please see the comments section of this post.
--The whole process took me a little over an hour total to complete. 

Will I be doing this project again! Yes, definitely! I am very happy with the result and now only have to figure out what to stitch on it. I did see a really pretty chart online........

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Wipocalypse

So not much stitching has gone one during the past month. In fact, not much of anything creative has gone on either. You may already know this if you read my last post. No big complaints or excuses. That's just the way it was lately. I think I was more in the reading mode which is not a bad thing.

I did pick up my stitching this week and decided to work on my "June" from the Joyful World series by Snowflower Diaries.

I like this chart a lot and have made a bit of progress on it. I am just loving these tiny stitches with one strand of floss! I'm stitching it over one on 25 count Norden Pearl linen. The finished size fits nicely into a 4 x 6 frame.

And that would be it for stitching this month! No stitch day for me with my group of stitching friends in April either, but I am really looking forward to getting some good cross stitch time in next weekend when the Sisters In Stitches meet. I should have a lot more to show in May's Wipocalypse post!

Want to join in the Wipocalypse? Just go to the blog Measi's Musings and to the April Wipocalypse post in particular.

Topic of the month: What projects are in your UFO pile?  Well, along with the Joyful World monthly series, my main UFOs are Tulip's Praise and Kaleidoscope.
One UFO I don't think I'll worry about anymore is the English Cottage Sampler. I'm pretty sure I've decided to scrap this project. I won't throw it out or anything, but I'm not going to waste any more time fretting about how not-fun this project is for me. Who knows - I may change my mind someday and pick it up again and it will have magically transformed itself into a fun-to-stitch project! So I'll keep it on the back burner (the burner waaaaaaaay in the back, yeah, that one) and not think about it for a while. Oh, and then there's the angel stocking, but I am still trying to figure out whether the fabric will ever lose its fold lines.

In the meantime, the project I'll be starting next is Rainbow Row by Barbara and Cheryl. This chart was given to me by Steph who bought it on their trip to Charleston, SC. I am looking forward to starting this one, but first have to see if I have all of the DMC floss for it. Maybe I'll get this one kitted up this week! That's the plan. Let's hear it for determination!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Crafty Dry Spell

Talk about a crafting dry spell. I've been in one that has lasted about a month. Ugh. Why does this happen? Anyway, I'm thinking that the way to get myself out of this dry spell is to do a little post and then look around the blogs I follow for some inspiration.

One thing I haven't posted about is the little gift I made for the stitchers at our retreat.
They can be used as key rings or scissor fobs. I bought the supplies on Etsy from the shop "PrettyCharmed" and they can also be found on Amazon and other places. Just search for "pendant trays". The kits I bought had the trays, the glass, and the key rings. The instructions for making them can be found on Youtube. There are a lot of instructional videos and the steps vary a bit from video to video.

I had a close-up photo of floss in varied colors and I just Photoshopped "SIS 2017" in different areas of the photo. (SIS for "Sisters In Stitches). Now here's where a potential problem can occur. I have an ink jet printer and the ink will run when the glaze (I used Diamond Glaze) touches it. So I had to get a product called Microglaze and apply it to the paper after it was printed. It worked pretty well, but I still had some color bleeding. My advice is to use a laser printer OR to use pre-printed scrapbook paper for your pendant tray. But they did turn out pretty cute and were appreciated by everyone!

And now we'll got to "Other People's Creations". 

Last weekend was Easter and someone got a little creative. OK, I'll admit that it was Mark, my husband, who decorated this. We had a lot to do on Easter morning, so while I made deviled eggs, he got out the frosting and coconut and went to work. Just a fun Easter tradition in our family.
Look at what Steph made for a fundraiser auction that was held by the band that Matt plays in.
Isn't it pretty? Steph does beautiful work, and whoever won this received a beautiful shawl.

Sheila is quickly becoming a master wire worker.
She did all of the wire wrapping in this beautiful necklace! Love her choice of colors too.

So I'm glad that other talented people got crafty recently so that I could show you something fun and interesting! But have no fear, I'll get back to it soon!

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Stitching Retreat How-To

Last month, my stitch group, the Sisters In Stitches, had our annual stitch retreat. Even though we get together each month to stitch, the stitch retreat is the best time to concentrate only on our stitching and leave everything else at home! So let's take a look at what makes an awesome stitch retreat. Warning, this post is picture heavy!

We've had some good retreats in the past and this one was no exception. We stayed in two cabins at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA. I'd have to say that the first thing you need for a successful stitching getaway is a good place to have it. Fort Mountain's cabins filled the bill.
This may look like a simple, rustic cabin, but inside are two bedrooms, each with two beds and a bathroom. Included was also a comfy living room, dining area, a kitchen (fully furnished with appliances and cookware), and a deck.

The view from our deck. A view isn't a necessity, but it sure was pretty.
The next important element of a retreat is the food. Oh yes, we like to eat and each meal is carefully planned. We divide up the responsibility for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts.
Friday night dinner was delicious, as were all of the meals!
Of course, let's not forget the stitching.
You'll also need a comfortable place to stitch. The dining room table proved to be a good spot for us.
And most importantly, the stitchers. One of our regulars is missing. She knows we were thinking about her!
One more picture of the view:
All in all, a very successful stitching retreat. We stitched, talked, ate, and laughed. That's pretty much all you need to experience a fun time with fellow stitchers. A few members of our group even went on a short hike! I don't know about the rest of my stitching friends, but I'm already thinking of the next stitching getaway!

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Pinterest Try In March

Let me put my blog in reverse a little bit and go back to March. There we go! Because I really did do a Pinterest attempt for the month of March.

My jewelry making skills came into play when I decided to make a multiple-strand bracelet. I've seen these all over Pinterest, mostly ones already made up and for sale. Being the crafty person that I am, I knew that all I needed was a little guidance to create a bracelet like this. The help I needed was found on Youtube, however. All I did was search "multiple strand bracelet tutorial" and quite a few helpful videos popped up. THIS is a good one for the basics. Here's what I came up with.

I simply crimped my strands to a large ring on one end and to the clasp on the other end. I liked the idea of adding a couple of little hanging charms, so they went on the large ring.

The hardest part of this project was choosing the beads. My goal was to use what I had in my bead stash and I accomplished that! A few seed beads, silver accent beads, some freshwater pearls, and I had a bracelet.
This technique can be used to make bracelets in a variety of different styles depending on your choice of beads and clasps. This particular bracelet became a gift for my sister, Sheila. I will definitely be making another one for myself!

I hope you enjoyed this post and also hope that it inspired you to do something crafty and try some of those Pinterest projects that you pin! Please bear with me as I get my craft room up and going again after it was used as a storage room for a while. It had kind of put a damper on my ability to do much of anything crafty, but I'll be back in there shortly!

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!