Wednesday, November 18, 2020

October and November stitching

This time when I went to see what I'd worked on since the last post, I definitely didn't have as much to show since my stitching slowed down quite a bit recently. It's actually overall not a bad thing since part of what has been eating into my stitching time is that I've gotten off my lazy butt and made a deliberate effort to get out and walk for exercise a lot more. We're heading into the time for the earliest sunsets here in Texas so I might try to start getting in more walking during my work day because it's getting dark so early now, so I'll get back more stitchy time in the early evenings!

But here's what I did manage to do in October and November:

Yet another Mill Hill kit! This is "Glowing Pumpkin" and I decided to finish it as another magnet instead of an ornament. I bought one more fall-themed MH kit with my most recent 123 Stitch order, but that one has been set aside for next fall.

And I finished the trunk and branches of Temperature Tree! Now it's just ready for 2021's daily high temps! Right now the long-range forecasts are trending warm and dry for us (thanks La NiƱa) so I'm not sure if I'm going to get a chance to use any of those cooler temperature leaf colors. Maybe by the end of the year!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

September Stitchy Stuff!

I had thought that I didn't do a ton of stitching this month, but when I started to take stock of things for this post, I had done more than I realized! Some of it wasn't stitching itself as much as finally doing some FFOs, including some projects that have been FOs for about 20 years.

First up - the final part of the Wonders of Space SAL is done! There is also a quote above and below the pictures that I need to stitch, but I'm waiting for a thread I ordered to come in. It calls for a medium blue, but I thought I would try a sparkly blue DMC etoile. If I stitch a little with it and I don't like how it looks, I'll just go back to the called for color.

Next up - I had to commemorate 2020 somehow and I really liked some of the plague doctors I was seeing around, so I got the Plague Doctor Ornament by Night Spirit Studio on Etsy and just did the doctor part on black perforated paper so I could keep it small and make a fridge magnet out of it. (And this a photo of it already on my fridge - I just finished it this morning!)

This is another finish that has been a little while in the making! The pattern is "Pumpkin Smiles" by Ursula Michaels from the October 2015 JCS magazine and I made a few slight changes in the DMC colors, but it's still pretty close to the orignal. The reason there was a gap in my stitching of this project was that it is on 32ct. fabric (2 over 2) and I was working on it when I realized that my old prescription glasses just weren't cutting it for working on that small a count anymore (and that's WITH a magnifying lamp). I got my new glasses back in July and started working on this again on and off since then and it's a definite improvement! (Which is good since I still have a lot of 32ct fabric in my stash and I really don't want to have to add even more magnificaiton since it starts to give me a headache after a while.) I took a photo with it still on my q-snaps and tabletop stand, but I did take it off to wash and iron yesterday. Let's see how long it sits around before becoming an FFO!

And here is yet another cute little Mill Hill kit! I really am addicted to them. And judging by the various cross stitch social forums I follow and how often they are sold out on 123Stitch, I'm not alone in that! This one is Moonstruck Manor, which is think is new for this Halloween/Autumn season. And this is an FFO and also already on my refrigerator.

I have one big new start this month - Temperature Tree by Stitchin' Mommy! I mentioned last month that I really liked the temperature record projects I have seen people do, including this one, so I bought the pattern and started on it this month. I decided to go with 18ct aida (2 over 1) since I didn't want it too big since it's going to be sitting around all year while I stitch on the leaves. The fabric is 'Jade' by Picture This Plus that I ordered on 123Stitch just for this project. I had also ordered a couple of skeins of the brown that I thought I wanted to use for the trunk and branches, but when I held it against the fabric, I didn't like it as much so I switched to DMC 801 (which isn't quite as dark as it looks in the photo, but it is definitely darker than the color I was originally going to use). As you can see here, I've done a big part of the trunk and the January branch. I might try to get all of the branches done before the end of the year since it actually goes pretty fast being all one color.

Now - the older projects that I made into fully finished objects!

This first one isn't all that old, since I only stitched it earlier this year. This is the same pattern of The Child that I did on perforated paper and made into a magnet, but I also did on a piece of scrap fabric and did as a hoop frame finish. I'm still perfecting my techniques on hoop finishes, but I think I'm improving!

I also decided that I was going to do something with the various bookmarks that I've stitched over the years. I ended up just glueing felt to the back and skipped trying to add the tassles to the tops of the ones that came as kits. The pumpkins were a relatively recent finish back at the beginning of 2020, but the other three are from old Textile Heritage kits. The Irish Shamrocks and one of the Tudor Roses were from kits that I bought on various trips to the UK and the other Tudor Rose one was a gift from a friend (more about that here... from 2010!)

I also have a bunch of other Textile Heritage kits that I've bought over several trips to the UK, most of which were stitched well over 10 years ago. I think all of these were originally meant to be cards, but I've made the four smaller ones into magnets and two into ornaments. I have a little rack next to my front door that is meant to hold keys, but I hang cross stitch ornaments there instead. I needed some other non-seasonal things to put there for when it isn't Fall/Halloween/Christmas. There are still more of this kits in the "to-be-FFOed" pile, but I know what I want to do with them, I just need to get around to doing it!

That's it for September! Now on to more Halloween and Fall stitching until the Christmas crafy bug bites me!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

August round-up!

I didn't do a ton of stitching since the last post but I did do enough to post an update! And, oh the irony, part of the reason that I didn't do as much stitching as I would have liked is that I finally (after much, much resistance) fell down the FlossTube rabbit hole. Although I doubt anyone who would take the time to read this blog doesn't already know what FlossTube is, I'll explain it anyway. Basically, it's stitchers making videos about what they stitch. Some do stitch-alongs, some throw in tutorials (very helpful, even for someone like me who has been stitching for 30 years), some also quilt, or knit, etc. And anyone who knows me knows that it's only a matter of time until I start doing my own! I've actually already snagged "Lara's Loose Threads" as a channel name just in case. :)

Which also reminds me... the 13th anniverary of this blog is in a couple of days! It's interesting how stitching blogs were all the rage for a while but kind of trailed off and now it looks like FlossTube is the newer version of the same thing. I've been in various stitching-based online social communities for about 25 years now so it's been interesting to see how the come and go. The first one I was on was the rec.crafts.textiles.needlework USENET newsgroup and some of us in central Texas started our own subcommunity from there and did stuff in person. And I actually just discovered that RCTN actually still exists on Google groups after they absorbed the old USENET groups - tempted to rejoin but I really don't need another thing to keep up with! Interestingly, they have all the archives so I can actually go back and look at some of my old posts from the 90s - what a trip down memory lane! I eventually dropped off the newsgroup and my in-person group, but in the mid-2000s I started reading stitching and quilting blogs pretty regularly and, of course, started my own. As my stitching time waned, I fell off blogging, as did a lot of the stitchers I followed. And then a got a wild hair to start following the r/CrossStitch subreddit a year or two ago and recently joined a cross stitch Discord. So yeah, FlossTube was pretty much inevitable. But at least they are all encouraging me to do more stitching! (and blogging about it!)

The next-to-last section of the Wonders of Space SAL was posted last week and I've already stitched it, so I've been pretty good at keeping up with that project which is kind of encouraging me to try another one in 2021. I've been leaning towards doing one of the patterns were you stitch a little something every day that is coded to the high temperature for the day. I've seen some people do blocks in a calendar, another one did little flowers in rows, but right now I'm leaning towards the Temperature Tree with different colored leaves by StitchinMommy on Etsy.

The other main thing I've been stitching on is this lighthouse that I found on Etsy. In my quest to use up some of the small cuts of fabric still in my stash, I knew I needed a lighthouse for this fabric, so I found this one and have made a fair bit of progress on it. It's been a while since I've stitched on linen (as oppposed to evenweave) and I've gotten a little sloppy with my stitches which seems to show up more on linen. Oh well... it's not like I'm going for the blue ribbon at the fair or anything. I really wanted to finish this during the summer but the Halloween and autumn stuff is pulling at me SO HARD right now.

And I finally got around to purchasing a replacement for the cottage that I talked about here that went missing from my office a few years ago! Yay eBay! I've prepped it for stitching by sorting and labeling the floss and rinsing and ironing the fabric and putting some fray-check on the edges, so this might become an WIP soon.

That's it for now! If (when?) I start doing FlossTube videos, I'll post about it for the one or two people who may still stumble across and read this blog. Happy Stitching!

Sunday, July 26, 2020


So, after my last post, my stitching roll did slow down a little, even though I'm still working from home (19 weeks/4.5 months and counting!). My webhost for my Tudor History site was migrating to new servers so I had to do some updates to make sure things didn't break, which took away some of my stitching time. But it was actually kind of fun to work on the site a little again! I really haven't worked on it a whole lot in recent years so when I did work on it again it didn't feel like as much of a chore.

But I did manage to keep up with the Wonders of Space SAL! Here it is with 2 more parts to go:

I did do a little bit of needlework shopping too, now that the floss inventories are starting to improve again (although there were a few colors I still couldn't get!) and, of course, I threw a couple of the new autumn Mill Hill bead kits in the order. I might have those ready to show off next week. And they might be the first products I stitch on my Dutch Treat perforated paper stitching frame now that I finally have the 8" clamps! I hunted around for those for quite a while and even had them in my shopping carts a few times but when I went to check out they would give me a "sorry, not available" message. So I wasn't too optimistic when I actually managed to order them from ABC Sttich Therapy in Houston, but about two months later they arrived! It's kind of hilarious that I looked at shops all over the US and a couple in the UK and finally managed to get them from a shop practically in my own back yard! And I could have just used the 15" clamps with the smaller projects, but they are overkill for those little projects. But they'll be great when I work on some larger things on plastic canvas and/or perforated paper!

I've got a couple more small-to-medium things in the works in between SAL parts and I might have one ready to share by next time. I got a new pair of glasses a few weeks ago with an updated prescription and with my magnifying lamp I can actually manage to stitch on 32 count (over 2) again. And since we're in the heat of summer - I'm really ready for the fall and Halloween stitching! (And the cooler weather, of course!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

April stitching!

As our shelter at home and working from home continues, so does my increase in stitching time. Here's some of what I managed to do in April:

First up - I actually dug out the ol' sewing machine and made a mask from my long-neglected quilting fabric stash after I found some elastic. Although I had forgotten how much I dislike sewing with anything stretchy!

And I've kept up with the Wonders of Space SAL, adding in the Crab Nebula (lower left):

And I've been continuing to make a few more magnets. This one is of the robot from Epbot that someone posted... somewhere? Crap, I'm not sure where I found it now! Maybe on the Friendly FOEs group on Facebook?

Next up, in my quest to use up all my small cuts of fabric, I did this little Halloween owl from one of the Just Cross Stitch Halloween issues. I changed out the border with a variegated floss instead of the one the pattern called for:

And finally, I did this cute little fairy cottage that I found on Etsy. The original was on 14-ct plastic canvas, but I decided to do it on fabric (see above about trying to use up small cuts of fabric). I'm also missing some little charms that I'll eventually get when I can comfortably browse the craft store or maybe order when we eventually get to a point that I won't feel guilty ordering something that is totally not a necessary item. And I haven't done a "before and after backstitching" in a while, so I did it with this one!

That's it for this round-up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A definite increase in my stitching time...

Well, when I was planning out how to squeeze more stitching time into my year, I certainly didn't have "being stuck at home for two months during a pandemic" on my radar. I'm working from home, so it's not like I can just sit around and stitch all day, but not having to drive home after work definitely gives me back some of my evening time!

And instead of just finishing up some long-neglected WIPs, I've been starting a ton of new things. I have a huge stash of hand-dyed fabrics from being in a Fabric of the Month club for years and I've been having fun matching fabrics to old kits and patterns. And I've been buying a bunch of new patterns on Etsy, especially when I have a clear mental picture of what should go on a certain color fabric. I treated myself to a Dutch Treat perforated paper stitching frame shortly before the lockdown since I got a good tax refund and my birthday was in early March right before everything went pear-shaped here in Texas. I sometimes get hand cramps when I have to hold a project in one hand and stitch with the other and so I really prefer using frames so I can stitch with both hands (plus I'm faster that way!).

Here's a catch up on a few things from the past month and a half:

Here are the first three months of the Wonders of Space SAL! I've been able to keep up with this pretty well, especially with a little more time on my hands.

And there is a definite theme to the other things I've done in the past month! Two of these are on my office fridge, so I can't take a photo of the completely finished versions, but the one with the Child holding his little broth cup is here at home. I got all three of these off /r/crossstitch (freebies posted by another redditor). I probably should have used three strands of black on The Mandalorian's helmet, but I really dislike stitching with three strands. I did use three on the eyes and soup cup on the second version of The Child though which I think did look better. I didn't worry about it as much with the lighter colors since I was stitching on ecru perforated paper.

I have a few other things in progress and I'll post more photos when I finish the stitching on those!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

More stitching!

And more blogging - wow!

I actually finished this last week, but here's the first square of the Wonders of Space stitchalong that I'm doing this year.

I'm working on a little freebie right now until the next section of the SAL comes out and once I finish it I'm going to make it into a little magnet, I think. I'll post pics!

Monday, January 20, 2020

First finish of 2020!

Okay, technically the pumpkin patch bookmark was my first finish of 2020, but I'm not counting that. This is one I'm counting as my first finish of 2020:

This was one of the small kits that I mentioned throwing in to a supply order and that was making my hand cramp. Eventually that stopped happening, interestingly. But I did remind me that I vastly prefer things that I can stitch on a frame where I can use both of my hands for the actual stitching.

And speaking of... here's the literal first stitch on the Wonders of Space stitchalong:

I suspect that I'm not going to get as much stitching in for the next couple of months, but we'll see!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Welcome to 2020!

I really meant to write more about what I was stitching last year *during* the year but I never got around to it, so here's a 2019 round-up and a little about what I'm going to be working on in 2020.

First up - I finished the IT Crowd I posted about last year and framed it! And it's hanging in my office at work (and has even drawn a few chuckles and "Oh I love the IT Crowd!" comments). Here's the final version before I took it to work:

I also tried my hand at hoop framing some older projects and one new project. As often happens to me, the first couple that I did came out great and then the third one wasn't as good. (I have the same track record with Thanksgiving turkeys and my grandmother's pecan pie recipe). Here are the pizza penguin and Castle Coch, both originally stitched many years ago:

And this is the one that I wasn't as happy with the framing on (and this is also hanging in my office at work... for no reason whatsoever of course...):

And I framed this other old project and hung it up in my bedroom:

And I stitched up this little Celtic swirl card kit that I threw in my basket when I was shopping for some other supplies (I actually left of some backstitching in this because I thought it made the design a little too busy):

And this one was supposed to be my final finish of 2019 but I technically finished it two days into 2020. I had a pre-finished bookmark that I got in a grab bag I bought ages ago and I had saved this bookmark pattern from "The Cross Stitcher" magazine in 2008. I started on this in the fall with the original intent of finishing in the fall, but the fall ended up too busy:

And last but not least, here's a photo of my thread ends and leftover thread from a kit:

So what's up for 2020?

I've got a few projects that I've been stitching on for a few years now that I'll probably keep plugging away at, but of course I had to start a few new projects! I did a few stitches on another kit that I threw in to a supply order (that is actually one of the main ways I acquire small kits) but I have trouble with my left hand cramping if I stitch on something 'in hand' for too long. So I also have a couple of things on q-snaps that I can use on my lap frame.

I've signed up for the Wonders of Space stitch-along, which is my first SAL! We don't have the first part yet, but I'll try to post some progress photos of it as we go along. I don't know how well I'll be able to keep up through the first few months of the year, but I'm going to try!

The thing on my frame right now is something that probably shows how nuts I am, but I'm re-stitching the second large-ish project I did when I first started stitching 30 years ago. I've learned a lot since then so I'm curious to see how it comes out! I don't have the first project I did because it was TERRIBLE (I had no idea what I was doing....) but the second was Lichtenstein Castle, from the book Medieval Castles from Jeanette Crews Designs and you can see the first version of it here. Technically I'm getting a bit of a head start on the 30th anniversary of when I really got in to cross stitch since that didn't happen until the summer of 1990, but I know it's going to take a while since I have a lot less stitching time than I did back then!