28 December 2010

2010--A Stitching Year in Review

With 3 more days left in the year, it's time to do a wrap up of the stitching year that was and to decide how 2011 will go down.

There was a lot to be ecstatic about this year. I managed to accomplish the goals I set for myself last year, as far as stitching only for SALs, freebies, UFOs and WIPs. I know I've said it before, but that's impressive for me. And I managed to complete 40 projects this year. That is pretty stellar, considering I was, um, kind of busy this year. I learned to sew a humbug, I finished a biscornu (granted, it needs to be repaired and a bit more stuffing added, but it served its purpose well as a ring pillow, and it's holding the pins that pinned my bouquet, at least til I find the perfect pin pillow ornament to use them on.

I stitched things this year that I'd been wanting to stitch for a long time. My single finish from the monthly cats by Pam Kellogg--oh, la, I've got to finish the rest of them some time soon. I finished that very cute Halloween Costume by BOAF--thank you again to Libertybelle for sending it to me. I loved the little "Reader I married him," by Casey Buonagario--I still need to mount that on a box as a pretty! I even found treasures I didn't know I had--Dragon at the Manger is one of my new favorite ornaments.

I found new designers through this stitching. I love the Hares series by Plum Street Samplers. I've already bought the Halloween one. I plan to buy them all--they look so cute. Ships Manor is a new designer with a fresh eye and cute ideas. And I was so glad I can finally say I finished a Kustom Krafts design. It might have been a freebie, but it was a cute one and it's still a finish.

So, looking forward, what are my goals for this year?

I want to exhibit in the fair again. I missed it this year. I missed it more than I thought I would. I will not make the mistake of being unprepared happen again. I have decided that, if I'm a bit more careful with my money and focus my stash budget into a framing budget, I can get more things framed and ready in time to enter. I don't want to win Best of Show this year, I want to be able to compete. That's enough for me.

I've signed up for the Challenge, and I have every intention of finishing all of them. Don't we all? But, in reality, if I can get 10 of the 15 done, I'll be happy. I still have a bit of kitting up to do, but I'll get it done. I'm ready to start--I've already sized up Day 1's project and am glad it's pre-sorted. But I'm going to enjoy the process, first and foremost.

My other main goal is to get ornaments finished. I got very few done this year. I've been so lazy or pre-occupied or what, but nothing got done. I've got to improve that. I know my problem; I try for perfection, and, if I'm not accomplishing that, instead of accepting it and trying to do better, I give up. It's probably not the best way to be, so I'm going to keep telling myself that I can't improve if I don't try.

As I've done before, I'm putting the list of my finishes for the year in this post. It's kind of nice to see what I've accomplished, even if I look in the future.

23 December--1989 Angel--Told In a Garden
21 December--Believe--Daffycat Designs
19 December--My Little Heart SAL--Sylvia
9 December--Blizzard Flake 4--Sanman
28 November--Doe and Fawn--Stoney Creek
24 November--Christmas Bells Hanging Pillow-The Sampler Girl
22 November--Snowy Pines--Little House Needleworks
14 November--Dragon at the Manger--Dragon Dreams
13 November--Spooky Time-Lavendar Wings
3 November-Halloween Costume-Birds of A Feather
2 November-All Hallow's Evening 2010-AuryTM
31 October--Ghouls Night Out-Sampler Girl
24 October--Dragonfly Morning--Elizabeth's Designs
21 October--Autumn Blessings--Plum Street Samplers
13 October--Bump in the Night-Ships Manor
25 September--Sweeping Cobwebs(portion)--Prairie Schooler
14 September--Blue Cat Scissor Fob-Cherished Stitches
28 August 2010--Hoppy Halloween-Little Old me Designs
20 August--Happy Pumpkin Day--Cathey Magill
19 August--Britty Puppy quilt square-Brittercup Designs
3 July-USA-Trail Creek Farms
2 July-Memorial Ribbon-CraftDesigns4U
26 June-By the Sea--Sanman Originals
21 June-Letter H-M Designs
7 June--March Inky Blackwork--Sanman Originals
27 May--Christmas Cardinal--Kitty and Me
16 May--January and February Inky Dinky Blackwork SAL blocks--Sanman
12 May-Reader, I Married Him-Casey Buonagurio
1 May--Christmas Carrot-Country Stitch
21 April--Irish Kitty-Kustom Krafts
13 April--Joy-Lizzie Kate
11 April-He's a Flake--Little House Needleworks
24 March-Lavendar Humbug-WOXS
18 February-Tudor Valentine--Debbie Draper
13 February--Pear Tree--Little House Needleworks
3 February-Fa La La-Plum Street
12 January--Hare Lines--Bent Creek
10 January--Midnight--Pam Kellogg
3 January-Pins and Needles--Sunflower Seed
1 January--Boo Club-Lizzie Kate

So, that's the end of this post, probably the last one for the year. I wish you and yours a joyful and blessed New Year. Let's all "Believe" in 2011: in ourselves, in our communities, in our world. We have a clean slate in the New Year, let's not waste it.

27 December 2010

The North Wind Doth Blow

It's cold here in Crazyville today, but we have no snow. I don't know if that's a blessing or not. I stayed home from the after-Christmas sales yesterday or from going to Mom's for some leftovers due to the winter weather warning we had. That turned out to be a false alarm and the bad weather was down in Southern Maryland and across the Bay.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas if they celebrated. Ours was OK. Left-brain spent too much on me. I thought we were on a budget this year, but he was very generous. I am snuggling in my new Baltimore Ravens hoodie. Now, I love the Cowboys, but the Ravens are my #2 and it's about time I had some gear! I look good in purple! I bought Left-brain a Ravens tee as well; I was afraid he wouldn't like it because it has foil on it, but I thought he'd look good in it, and it's not too "rah-rah" for him, and I think he liked it. My mom got me a really sweet nativity scene where the participants were Amish--I had told her about it, but never thought she'd get it in time for the holidays. I set it up as soon as we got home from the gift exchange--such teeny little figures! I also got my Breyer Christmas horse--I set him under the coffee table where I have the other ones I managed to get out of the display box. I have a fairly large vintage collection of Breyers, but stopped collecting new ones when I bought my first car because it was an expensive hobby and I got more use out of a new car than model horses, but I still get the Christmas horses, and I have to say I love them. The boxes are still difficult to open, though--I poked myself in the finger two or three times, trying to get them out on Christmas Eve. It took me a half hour to undo one, and to sort out its festive trappings, so those were the only two I opened. Left-brain's brother and SIL got us a pretty candle holder that I'm loving! It was great fun.

Yesterday was a day of recovery, since we couldn't go anywhere--probably for the best, really. I unpacked our gifts and arranged them under the tree. And I tried to clean up--the office has become a den of iniquity and disarray over the last few days, so I picked up in there, and also put the mancave into a bit of order. I have some stitching stuff to put away so that, when my family comes over for New Year's Day, they don't think we live like pigs, but I think it's all doable in the first three days of the week.

To reward myself for another Christmas season successfully completed, I started a new project yesterday. I'm now working on Minguistitch's Autumn Equinox, a pretty freebie that is A LOT more challenging than I had imagined. Right now, I'm working on her, I think, hair, and it's a tumbled mass of colors, without a lot of sense of where we're going, but it's OK. I never thought grey and flesh would work well together, but it looks good.

5 more days til I can start my January Challenge. I can't wait. I think I'll start working the afghan in as I finish charts. Since I have a few smallish charts, I'll try to get those finished quickly. I still need to dye some fabric for my Pinto chart--I'm thinking of dying an oatmeal flecked fabric blue. Maybe later this week . . . I'm still trying to decide if I should use some of the good dye I have for floss dyeing or just purchase a pack of RIT. RIT is much easier to use--no need to mix vinegar, detergent, or any of that--but the good stuff has a better range of color. Arrrghhh, decisions . . .

22 December 2010

A finish and some photos

Another finish for me! I loved this freebie from Daffycat and knew I had to stitch it as soon as she posted it. I love it. I was planning on finishing it for Christmas, but that may not happen, but I do have everything I need, so I may be able to.

I'm putting this back into my rotation, I decided.

It's an afghan I'm making of Diane Graebner designs. I've been messing around with it for a while, but it's time to buckle down.

And, lastly, a goofy picture of the dog. Proof that, in this house, if you sit still too long, someone is going to decorate you. I am very fortunate that he is so patient with me, but pitbulls were once called "the nanny dog" because they were so good with kids, and he must just view me as the big kid who must be humored. Yes, he will get handsomely rewarded by Santa, LOL

21 December 2010

The most beautiful thing

I lost an online friend yesterday. We never met in person, but, when I heard the news, I sat on our steps and cried. She was a very kind lady, with a vibrant spirit, who loved nature, especially her beloved mountains, and was so appreciative of life, even when, before the lung transplant she got a few years ago, she'd accepted she might not make. I stitched a quilt square for her last fall. I'm still wrapping my head around how she could have survived a lung transplant and we lost her after surgery to remove a cyst from her back. I am so sorry she's not going to be here anymore, at least not in human form, but she is home, and she's healthy, and Heaven has a new angel this Christmas. I don't have much else to say today, but I found this. Lee would have liked it, I think.

The sides of the path were covered with white snow, but in the center, its whiteness was turned brown by the tramping of hundreds of hurrying feet. It was the day before Christmas. People rushed up and down the path carrying bundles, laughing and calling to each other.

Above the path, the long arms of an ancient tree reached up toward the sky. It swayed as strong winds grasped its branches and bent them toward the earth. Down below a haughty laugh sounded, and a lovely fir tree stretched its thick green branches, sending a fine spray of sparkling snow toward the ground.

"I should think," said the fir in a smug voice, "that you would try a little harder to stand still. Goodness knows you're ugly enough with the leaves you've already lost. If you move around anymore, you'll soon be quite bare."

"I know," answered the old tree. "Everything has put on its most beautiful clothes for the celebration of Christmas. Even from here I can see the decorations shining from each street corner, and yesterday some men came and put the loveliest lights on every tree along the path - except me, of course." He sighed softly, and a flake of snow melted in the form of a teardrop and ran down his gnarled trunk.

"Oh, indeed! And did you expect they would put lights upon you so your ugliness would stand out even more?" mocked the fir.

"I guess you're right," replied the old tree in a sad voice. "If there were only somewhere I could hide until after the celebrations are over, but here I stand, the only ugly thing among all this beauty. If they would only come and chop me down," he sighed sorrowfully.

"Well, I don't wish you any ill will," replied the fir, "but you are an eyesore. Perhaps it would be better for us all if they came and chopped you down." Once again he stretched his lovely thick branches. "You might try to hang onto those three small leaves you still have. At least you wouldn't be completely bare."

"Oh, I've tried so hard," cried the old tree. "Each fall I say to myself, 'this year I won't give up a single leaf, no matter what the cause,' but someone always comes along who seems to need them more than I do," and he sighed once again.

"I told you not to give so many to that dirty little paper boy," said the fir. "Why, you even lowered your branches a little so that he could reach them. You can't say I didn't warn you."

"Yes," the old tree replied. "but they made him so happy. I heard him say he would pick some for his invalid mother."

"Oh, they all had good causes," mocked the fir. "That young girl, for instance, colored leaves for her party indeed! They were your leaves!"

"She took a lot, didn't she?" said the old tree, and he seemed to smile.

Just then a cold wind blew down the path and a tiny brown bird fell to the ground at the foot of the old tree and lay there shivering, too cold to lift his wings. The old tree looked down in pity and quickly let go of his last three leaves. The golden leaves fluttered down and settled softly over the shivering little bird, and it lay there quietly under the warmth of them.

"Now you've done it" scolded the fir. You've given away every single leaf! Christmas morning you'll make our path the ugliest sight in the whole city."

The old tree said nothing. Instead he stretched out his branches to gather what snowflakes he could so they wouldn't fall on the tiny bird. The young fir turned away in disgust, and it was then he noticed a painter, sitting quietly a few feet from the path, intent upon his brushes and canvas.

The fir turned back to the old tree and said in a haughty voice, "At least keep those bare branches as far away from me as possible. I'm being painted and I don?t want you to mar the background."

"I'll try," replied the old tree. And he raised his branches as high as possible. It was almost dark when the painter picked up his easel and left. The little fir was tired and cross from all his preening and posing.

Christmas morning he awoke late, and as he proudly shook away the snow from his lovely branches, he was amazed to see a huge crowd of people surrounding the old tree, ah-ing and oh-ing as they stood back and gazed upward. Even those hurrying along the path had to stop for a moment to sigh before they went on.

"Whatever could it be?" thought the haughty fir, and he looked up to see if perhaps the top of the old tree had broken off during the night.

Just then a paper blew from the hands of an enraptured newsboy and sailed straight into the young fir. The fir gasped in amazement, for there on the front page was a picture of the painter holding his painting of a great white tree whose leafless branches, laden with snow, stretched upward into the sky. Down below lay a tiny brown bird almost covered by three golden leaves. And beneath the picture were the words, "The most beautiful thing is that which has given all."

The young fir quietly bowed its head beneath the great beauty of the humble old tree.

20 December 2010

A finish for me!

It feels like it's been forever since I posted a finish. But, last night, during the Pats-Packers game, I managed to put the last stitches in my My Little Heart SAL.

I did a lot more customizing on this than I originally planned, especially on the bottom row. Not only is May now used as October's chart, but the color of the hearts changed. The top row used 3801 as charted, which was great because we need a pop of color in spring, then summer used the hot 321 red, but I changed out the bottom row to 815, for a more muted fall palette. This meant I had to change the owl's leaves to 918. They were originally 606, a hot orange. It hurt my eyes to see that pop of orange, but I think 918 looks better and fits more with the colors. I also did some customizing on December's chart. I didn't like having a word on it, because there aren't words anywhere else on the piece. So I spent the better part of the weekend at work, tossing around ideas while we were slow between patrons. I thought about moving the heart up top and putting a cross in the space inside the stable, but my co-worker suggested I put a star up there, so I came up with a really simple star. I like it.

And the entire piece. It feels good to get this done before Christmas. Now I have a few days to work on something small.

If I don't post between now and then, Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

14 December 2010

Photos of the Final 15

I did a lot of thinking over the weekend. The Winter Blackwork, while I love it, requires JAR threads, and I don't want to order those, or try to work out a conversion. At least not right now, so I changed to Patriotic Summer by Midsummer Night Designs.

Here are photos of the final pictures. Some of them are not the best. Beazer was assisting me and he didn't warn me, LOL. He did get himself into the pictures. Pardon his nose . . .

A Nuisance of Cats.

Icky Spooky, by Mosey N' Me.

Sugarplum Fairy, by Country Cottage Needleworks

Pegasus Originals Schipperke

Eva Rosenstad kit, which I will stitch on PTP Crystal Mercedes.

Bent Creek Snowman Row

Midsummer Night Designs Patriotic Summer

Lizzie Kate Official Snowguide

Ms. Mitchell's First Grade Christmas Pageant (I'm really excited about this one, LOL)

Prairie Grove Peddler A Cat's Life

Diane Graebner Taking Care of our Deer Friends

Sampler Girl Hope Perches

Jeannette Crews Pinto from the book, "Wild Horses."

Waxing Moon, No Scaredy Cats.

I also have It Snowed last Night on the list, but I don't have a picture of the finish.

Plugging away

Thank you for the nice comments about my My Little Heart. I'm still plugging away at it. I'm almost finished with August's square, and am excited about getting towards the end of the project. I spent the weekend working on the border--does anyone else hate working on borders? This is probably one of the reasons I don't do RRs anymore; not only have I had to deal with people keeping the projects way longer than they were supposed to, but I just don't like doing the delineating part of it. It's a wierd stitching quirk of mine, LOL. I will post a picture of my progress later today.

I'm kind of torn as to what to work on next. Daffycat gave us a really sweet "Believe" freebie a few weeks ago that is calling my name, but I'd also like to have my Sanman Inky Dinky SAL completed by the end of the year. I hope this is possible--I'd like to have Believe on my tree on Christmas. I'm thinking Believe is the theme this year. I spent all year hoping and believing I'd have a beautiful wedding, and I firmly believe 2011 will be a better year for us all. At least I'm hopeful, but I think if enough of us dare to hope, it will improve.

I'm doing my Christmas shopping tomorrow night; hopefully, I'll get most of it done. I have a couple things bought and tucked away, but this has been a difficult year. No one seems to want a gift, because they think they're inconveniencing us to ask. We're gifting those people with a box of candy I'll make. Left-brain claims he doesn't need anything. We've made a decision we won't have a "big" Christmas; we did get a lot of nice stuff this year as wedding gifts, and he did buy me a beautiful sweetgrass basket when we were in Charleston; I had been daunted by the price of them and it was more than I could have hoped for, but he got a good deal on it, and it's one of my "pretties". So we're restricting our purchases to small fancies and practical things. It's not been an easy thing to accept--I was always a person who thought Christmas was a time to fulfill my loved ones' wildest dreams--but I'm realizing that we have our most important dreams in having enough to eat, having decent clothes to wear, and having people to love us. We joined two families this year--that's a beautiful gift we gave each other. That's all we need. Everything else is cake. And, remember, I'm believing in next year!

I hope everyone is keeping ahead of the weather. It's windy here in Maryland. And bone-numbing cold. Keep warm!

10 December 2010

The 15

I've chosen my 15 projects for the Crazy January Challenge. I will try to post photos of the charts themselves a bit later. It was a very hard choice--I have a lot of stuff I want to do, but I did manage to go through and select the 15 that I LOVED, not just liked a whole lot.

Here is the list.

BC Winter Row
Waxing Moon No Scaredy Cats allowed
Cross N' Patch Miss Mitchells 1st Grade Christmas Pageant
Diane Graebner Sharing with Our Deer Friends
Pinto by Jeannette Crews
Sugar Plum Fairy by CCN
Hope Perches by Sampler Girl
It Snowed Last night by Erynne Chard
Icky Spooky by Mosey N me
A Nuisance of Cats by Yankee Stitcher
Pegasus Schipperke
Prairie Grove A Cats Life
My Mark Winter Blackwork
LK Official Snowguide
Eva Rosenstad(sp?) kit of horses.

I'm going to start the Eva Rosenstad kit on New Years Day, even though I'm going to be busy that day because we're having my family over for dinner and to celebrate Left-brain's birthday. I think that is the one that will take me the longest to stitch and it seems right to get it started early.

I know it's not the biggest, most impressive list, but I'm trying to set more reasonable goals, knowing that I still have other things I need to get done through the year--those Christmas charts being one of them, and my fair projects. I am very excited about the other projects--Ms. Mitchell's Christmas Pageant is a really sweet chart that I bought a long time ago, and just never got around to stitching, but I love it and Pinto is meant as a companion to my Chincoteagues piece. I'd like to frame it in the same moulding I used for the other one, but if they haven't, then I'll deal. It just feels like a fun list to me, and I need a fun year of stitching.

09 December 2010

My Little Progress

I've been working on this pretty steady this week. I decided to customize it a bit to make it match my 2010 a little better, so moved November into May's position. This is in memory of that fun weekend at the GTG, with the friends I reconnected with and the new friends made. This means I'll need to shimmy around with the fall months, but I think it will work out just fine. If not, it's just going on my wall. It's a work of pleasure, not something to stress over.

Otherwise, not much is going on around here. It's colder than blue blazes in Crazyville this week. No snow, but you'd be hard-pressed to think it couldn't when the wind picks up. We're heading out on Saturday to cut down our live tree--Left-brain has promised that we won't get a skyscraper tree this year. I am still dubious; I have heard this before and then he gets out in the field and it's like he forgets we have these conversations. I'm hopeful, though, since he's kinda tired of moving the china cupboard and dining room table around to fit the tree. I promise not to fuss if he veers off "the plan." It's a great day out with the family, and we make memories.

I got my prize from The Sampler Girl's raffle--a very sweet ornament for the tree. I will put it up when we finish decorating. It has been a good stitchy mail week--some Ebay winnings came in, along with a large order from 123Stitch. I was in a Christmas stitching mood this time because I ordered Butternut Road "Christmas Visit", Pickle Barrel Designs, "Cape Cod Christmas," Little Leaf Designs "Christmas Day," and two Christmas charts by "Of Generations Past, "To hear the angels sing," and "Christmas Lighthouse." It was a splurge, but this is my gift to myself for getting through this year, mainly intact, LOL. I won't stitch them this year, but they're here for next year.

I hope that this holiday season is providing you with a bit of magic and joy as we roll along. Til next time . . .

03 December 2010

My Little Crazy Heart

I think the My Little Heart SAL was "the" SAL this past year in a lot of stitching circles. I've seen some very beautiful WIPs through the seasons. It was so tempting. I have to admit, I wanted to do it right from the start, but I, um, procrastinate on a world-class level. And so, here it is December 3rd, and I'm finally working on it.

And I have to say . . . I love it.

It's not fancy, it doesn't call for expensive threads, just DMC on white fabric is suggested. I'm using MCG evenweave--I know, SHAME ON ME, LOL. But I learned to stitch on evenweave on this fabric, I can't tell the difference, and it works for me. And I'm really enjoying the process of stitching this. The hardest part was rounding up the threads. I bought most of what I need, but my Michaels is not that well-stocked, and there were a few missing. I'm replenishing those from my giant tub o' floss, but there are some I will just have to go to the big town for.

One of the benefits to starting a year long SAL 49 weeks into the project is that it gives me a chance, as I'm stitching, to remember the year that has gone by, now that things are starting to settle down. So far, we have January, where I was as blue as the snowman after jumping into the icy Bay in a snowstorm and my smile was just as big. February, where we had more snow than money, but a mountain of love that couldn't have been moved by a team of snowplows. Then March came and we started hoping beyond hope that spring was finally here. It's a nice project to end the year with. I'm hopeful I can have it done by the end of the month, but I'm leaving the date blank til I know I'm done. I'm not sure how I'll finish it, but I'm looking forward to seeing it progress.

02 December 2010

The Perfect Challenge

I was minding my own business yesterday when I read a posting from Riona. I've been looking for a theme for my 2011 stitching, or a challenge, and there, on my lovely stitching friend's blog was a link to
this challenge. Any challenge that means I get to start a new WIP a day is a good'un, so I'm signing up.

I now have to pick out and kit up my 15 projects. I don't think I'm going for gargantuan projects. I know better. I'm learning to set reasonable goals and it's not reasonable to want to do 15 large projects. So I'm looking at smaller projects, ornaments and such. I have some things kitted up that I will, no doubt, put on the list and of course, I'll work on UFOs in addition, but I want this to be a fun challenge for me.

Anyone else up for it?

01 December 2010

My cross stitch Christmas tree

I am posting photos of my cross stitch Christmas tree. I know some of the photos are not the best. I'll try to fix and replace them when I can. I got my finishing order back. I LOVE how she finished them!

Diane Graebner from an older JCS issue. Some of these are much older finishes that have been kicking around the unfinished finish box for too long. I love how the ribbon hanger matches the ribbon on the ornament. It's not a good photo, but you can also see the tree skirt I stitched the first year I was home after college, from those BHG Christmas magazines. We have used it ever since--I can remember, the $40 for the skirt itself seemed to be a MAJOR investment to a 21 year old, LOL. It's not backed with anything, and it has some sap stains, and some embedded cat hair from Lily, who loved to sit on it under the "Chri-ma tree", but I love it.

LHN He's a flake.

A Margaret Sherry from a calendar (maybe 2003 or 2004) from UK Cross Stitcher. I was never sure what I wanted to do with this design, then I decided it would make a good ornament. It was tricky to find lime-green Christmas fabric, LOL.

I have no idea who this is by but it was in a JCS. Not the 2004, though, that was just the year I stitched it. It is backed in the same red fabric as He's a Flake.

Some other ornaments. I stitched the Sanman. The finishing embarrasses me. My exchange partner, Dalene, stitched me the beautiful reindeer above it.

And the entire tree, as of now. I will put on some more balls to fill in when we bring home the real tree, and hang my animal ornaments on it.

Beazer and I already had the chat about leaving the tree alone. He seemed a bit aghast that I would accuse him of defiling something in the house, but the dog can't help where the drool flies. Or the tail wags. But he knows this is his tree (along with the twins and the cats--he has to share), and so I think he'll be OK. He at least will guard it, but I'm thinking it's probably not a good idea to put squeaky toys under it til last minute--he loves a squeaky toy.
I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls