Monday, September 6, 2021

What did I manage to stitch in August?

Not as much as I would have liked, as it turns out. But I knew that would probably be the case since I was planning to go back to the office most days so I could get back into that groove after working from home for so long. I'm still working from home on Fridays and I hope to keep that going as much as possible, but I know the more "normal" things get back to, the less often I'll be able to make that work.


No FFOs this month but I do have a stitching finish! I started Cosmos by SonvaStitch on 16ct opalescent aida by BeStitchMe at the very end of July and finished it three weeks later - and that was with a crunch in my stitching time. When I saw this design I had an idea of the fabric that I wanted to stitch it on and I had seen some good space-like fabric around and this is the one I ended up with. I don't stitch on aida a whole lot anymore but I saw the note on the website that the darker colors dye better on aida, so that's why I went with it. This is all in DMC and two threads on the cross stitches. I probably should have used three on Voyager, but I really don't like stitching with three threads! I did try something a little different on the "Wanderers" lettering though that seemed to help a lot. I had been wanting to try running a single thread up through the middle of the lines of stitching to see if that would fill out stitching that looked a little sparse and it worked! I only did it on the "Wanderers" letters since that's where the coverage issue really showed the most.


Not a ton of progress on the WIPs this month since I concentrated on finishing Cosmos, but I did keep up with Temperature Tree. I still didn't get to the colors above 101F in August, which is kind of astonishing. But just as I posted the update on Instagram with the note that I know better than to say I don't expect to use the higher temp colors for the rest of the year, the Texas weather proved why because we hit 102F! So I'll get to use one other color at the high end when I catch up next weekend. I think I can actually safely say that I won't use any of the hotter colors above that (reds) though since the odds really are good that we won't hit 106F or higher - at least I hope not!!

And I did manage a little bit of work on Sleepy Hollow! Not a whole lot - for some reason this is NOT a fast stitch for me - but at least it's a little progress after it was sitting around untouched for so long. Sorry for the moiré pattern on the thumbnail here!


I picked up the Mill Hill pizza slice again yesterday so I'm going to try to get that finished before doing more work on Sleepy Hollow. I might also do some more work on and older Mill Hill that I've been stitching on and off for a while now. It's one of their bigger (6" x 6", I think?) kits and it's very detailed and is taking a lot more time than the smaller ones do.

Have a great September! I hope the weather is cooling down for those who are too hot and warming up for those who are too cold!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

July FFOs and stitching round-up

Wow, it's already August. As I wrote on another blog, as a life-long Texan, I see August as something to be endured, while in many parts of the northern hemisphere people are enjoying it as peak summer. Pretty much the only time I've ever enjoyed August is when I've had a chance to spend a few weeks of it in Maine!


Let's get started with the remaining FFOs that weren't quite completed in the June FFO Frenzy!

First up is my second flat fold, this time of "Autumn Harvest" that I finished stitching in 2013. I think this is now the oldest stitched piece that was waiting for finishing that isn't being framed (there are definitely some older ones in the pile of things that I'm going to frame... more about one of those in a couple of months). I'm pretty happy with how this one came out, even with a little flub on the trim on the bottom. But hey, it's on the bottom so it's not all that easy to see!

Next is this little pillow I made from the thistles kit I finished in early 2020, shortly before everything went pear-shaped in the world. I had originally planned to frame this but when I mounted it I realized that the kit fabric wasn't square and it was going to be quite noticeable in a frame, but since this was small enough I figured it wouldn't take all of my fiber-fill to make it into a pillow. Plus it's always a bonus when I can pull out the sewing machine and continue to shake the rust off those skills a bit.

And finally, this was a stitching finish and FFO from the past month. I actually started this back in April but I did the bulk of the stitching in July. This is, of course, a Mill Hill kit! I decided to try doing this with only 2 strands of floss - most Mill Hill kits are supposed to be stitched with 3 strands - as a bit of an experiment. I don't really care for stitching with 3 strands, although I have figured out a way to do a modified loop start, which helps. But this design had a lot of colors and small areas, so I was afraid it might be a bit of a challenge with 3 strands, plus I was curious to see how the coverage came out with 2 strands. All-in-all, not too bad! I went back to 3 strands with my current Mill Hill, but I have another one in the stash that I think I might do with 2 strands instead of 3 since it's another more detailed design like this one.


Time for a check-in on Temperature Tree! This is now complete through the end of July and I'm abolutely gobsmacked that I've only used the 99-101F color a few times so far this year. I'm beginning to think that there is some weird connection between my choices for this pattern and the actual weather. It was warm to start the year so I chose the hottest color range and then a week or two later, we had the Big Freeze. And now we've only hit 100F twice so far this year and that's been the highest temperature we've reached at all (NOTE: this is NOT A COMPLAINT). I'm sure that August will still be quite hot and I'm sure that I'll use at least one of the hotter colors, but I'm sitting here listening to thunder rumbling from the storms that kicked up with a "cold" front that is slipping down into central Texas. August fronts are rare, and especially this early in the month. It won't drop the temperature by much, but it will probably take some of the humidity out of the air, which always helps!

These next few WIPs are from the end-of-May bout of start-itis.

First is "Mediterranean Flavors" Dimensions kit, but I switched out the kit fabric for 28ct French Vanilla Swirl from my stash since it looked like it would be perfect for this design and look like a stucco wall in an Italian restaurant or something. (Sorry about the moiré pattern on the thumbnail)

Next is "Oregano" from a Mill Hill kit (on fabric, not perforated paper, like most of their smaller designs). This is part of a series of herbs that I want to do for my kitchen but I've only purchased this one so far. And I love oregano, so even if I never do the others, this one will still be appropriate for my home! Just the flower pot so far on this one.

This one is technically a re-start since I decided to start "Celtic Seasons" again, but this time with only 1 strand of floss. I cut out the Spring section that I had already done earlier this year and I'm going to try to make it into something eventually. I think the 1 strand version will work a little better with this design since it doesn't seem to make the backstitching disappear as much (and there is a lot of backstitch on this one!). This kind of threw off my plan to keep up with each season in that season, but I might get Summer started in August and then finish Spring next year as I come back around to it.

New Start

I technically have two new starts in July, but there really isn't much to show on the newest one, which I just started yesterday. But I thought I would show my current little Mill Hill, which you might even be able to already recognize as the "Pizza Slice" kit which oddly is part of their Autumn Harvest collection - I don't know about you but I eat pizza year round! :)


No haul this month (I'm putting myself on a buying diet for a while) so straight into plans! I'm mostly hoping to work a little more on the WIPs and new starts I mentioned, and possibly finish a couple of the smaller ones. But since I have been seeing it pop up a lot lately, I've been inspired to put my Glendon Place "Sleepy Hollow" back on the q-snaps and actually do some stitching on it for the first time in about 10 YEARS (!!). I did a little stitching on it to get it started (see below) and then it ended up sitting in a corner for a long, long time. Part of that was the time I was struggling with my eyes and then once I got a magnifying lamp, trying to figure out a good way to use it with large projects. But now that I've got that sorted - which is why I was able to work on Fairy House back in May - I think it's time for some stitching on the Headless Horseman! Here's where I got to back around 2011:

That's it for this month! Happy stitching to anyone who stumbles by the blog!

Monday, July 5, 2021

FFO-frenzy June!

Even though I took a week of vacation in June, I didn't actually get much stitching done because I DID ALL THE FFOs!! Well, not ALL, but a whole lot of them. That 'bin of shame' that's been sitting under my bed for a while now finally got to me and I watched all of Vonna Pfeiffer's tutorials (re-watched, in some cases) and got cracking on finally doing something with all of those stitched projects. So most of my 'haul' for the month was stuff to help with finishing, such as a cord-maker, fine-tip glue bottles, a little bit of backing fabric (because I somehow managed to not have what I needed in my stash!), etc. You get the idea. I've only framed two of the projects that I want to finish that way, but I've mounted 4 or 5 more on foam core boards that are odd sizes, so I'll probably order some custom frames for those over the next year or two (they often aren't cheap!). Once I get the frames, I'll lace the needlework and post pictures of them as FFOs.


I'm going to put off the progress photos of the 'start-itis' projects from the end of May, but I did want to go ahead and post a photo of Temperature Tree through the end of June though so here's that update (still haven't made it into the hottest few colors! - yay!):


Alrighty - let's get into all the FFOs!

These first few are re-finishes of old pillow ornaments that I wasn't too happy with - you can find the first versions in old posts. I'm much happier with how they came out this time!

And this one was a partial re-finish - I took off the ribbon hanger and added my very first handmade cording instead.

The rest of these are in roughly reverse order of when the sttiching was finished:

I finally got the charms through Etsy for the little fairy cottage that I finished stitching last year (after a failed attempt to get them all from Ali Express last fall... never got them so I had to get refunds). I was struggling over how to FFO this one but then I looked at it in a hoop frame and that seemed the best fit. At first I just had it in the bare wood hoop but I realized that it would look really good if I painted the hoop black, so that's what I did. I was happy to find that my hand was still pretty steady for painting the front edge, although my wrist was screaming by the end (thanks carpal tunnel!!). I just had a few flecks of paint on the fabric edge that I was able to scratch off with a pin when it was dry.

And this little owl was also stitched last year. I had fun picking the backing fabric for this one!

Now here's where we start getting into some much older finishes!

I finished the stitching on this one back in November 2013. I think part of the reason I stalled on the FFO for this one was trying to figure out what to do with it. I ended up with a pillow, which allowed me to try to scrape a little rust off my sewing machine skills and try doing some curves and irregular shapes. It's not perfect, but I'm still pretty happy with how it came out!

Next up is this adorable witch kitty that I finished the stitching on back in May 2012. This was a early finish in this FFO frenzy so I just mounted it on cardboard with batting and did a felt backing.

Then we have to go back to September 2011 for the next one! I'm not 100% happy with the corners on this one, but I'm not unhappy enough to pull it apart and re-do it.

And this one from August 2011 - my first harganger finish! (I did a test stitch of some hardanger before, but this is the first that has become an FFO). This was just a simple pillow with a beaded hanger. The one thing I did do a little differently was to make the slit for stuffing through the middle of the backing fabric instead of along the edge to give that technique a try. (For some reason I didn't bother taking a photo though!)

Now back to July 2011 - this is a finish I'm really pleased with. This was my first attempt at 2-color homemade cording and although I wish I had made it slightly tighter, I'm still quite happy with it.

A framing finish! This is one of the few things that I could mount onto a board for a standard frame size and I happened to have a frame in my stash that I liked for it. The stitching was finished on this one in August 2010.

Now we go back to September 2009 for this finish! I just did a pillow for this, but I'm thinking about adding a pom-pom trim to it. If I do, I'll post an update photo.

And we've reached 2008 for a few more finishes! This cute little pumpkin was stitched in August 2008 and is another that I'm quite happy wih the backing fabric that I chose for it. I think it came out really good!

Another framed finish! This colorful dragon was from a Heritage Stitchcraft kit and I finished it in May 2008. It appropriately lives on a shelf with my Welsh history books.

This cute little cottage was stitched in April 2008. This was another that I had fun picking out a backing fabric for. The cording gave me more trouble, but then I found this one at Joann's and I think it came together well.

This is my first full-on Vonna Pfeiffer style flat fold! Stitching on this one was also from April 2008. I found the perfect backing fabric for it from a batch of Halloween-themed 10" quilt squares.

And finally, the oldest of this round of finishes - this freebie from Teresa Wentzler that I finished stitching in December 2007. This is another that I struggled with for a while and ended up just doing a pillow finish with a beaded hanger.

That's it for this month! I have one more flat fold that isn't quite finished yet (I'm having issues with the decorative trim) but I'll post a photo of that next month. I'm sure I'll have some actual stitching too, beyond Temperature Tree.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Maynia! Of a sort...

Since I started watching FlossTube I discovered the various iterations of "Maynia" and even though I've still resisted joining in with videos, etc. I decided to do a version of "monogomaynia" this year and finally get cracking on that Fairy House kit that I menionted in my goals for 2021. So there aren't a bunch of projects to show this time, but I did get quite a bit of stitching done on the two projects I did touch in most of May and I have an FFO! I wasn't completely monogamous on the Fairy House since I did also keep up with my Temperature Tree and for the long Memorial Day weekend I started into a few projects since I got a random bout of "start-itis". I'll put more about those new starts in the June round-up.

I decided to do a hoop frame finish on "Pumpkin Smiles" that I finished last fall as I continue to try to make a dent on all of those old finishes that are literally sitting in a pile on the table behind me right now. I also decided to glue some felt over the back of this one as I play around some more with finishing techniques (no pic of that since it's just a circle of orange felt glued to the back):

Here's where I got to on Fairy House at the end of May which is A LOT of progress considering that I started the month with about 20 total stitches in the project (and those were from back in around 2016):

And here's Temperature Tree through the end of May. We've gotten up into the lower 90s a couple of times so a new color showed up, but the weather has been pretty cloudy and rainy for a few weeks so we've been relatively cool for late May in Central Texas. (Anyone who knows anything about weather history in this area won't be surprised in the slightest that we had Flash Flood Watches and Warnings over the Memorial Day Weekend.)

I also had a lot of (one might say TOO MUCH) haul this month. I bought few digital patterns on Etsy - which you'll probably see stitched soon since they aren't all that big - and quite a few more Mill Hill kits (my MH addiction is well-documented on this blog), a Dimensions kit, and I decided to try a couple of the Russian-made kits that have been showing up in the US market recently. One little side note - every time I look at the Cyrillic on the Russian kits my brain does a strange hiccup. I see it and at first my eyes register it as incomprehensible, and then the synapses catch up to the eyeballs and remember that I took 4 semesters of Russian in college and that my brain does indeed know how to read some of it. Although unfortunately my vocabulary is pretty weak now, and I certainly didn't learn a lot of craft terms (mostly science terms for the version of the classes I took). It's actually quite disappointing that that little perception gap is there now since when I was at the height of taking the classes I actually had that gap down to almost nothing (although I never was able to completely "think" in Russian the way a native reader would). But as they say - use it or lose it!

Anyway.... I decided to get a Riolis kit of a Russian folk art style Firebird because I saw it while browsing 123 Stitch and it really caught my eye. I really like those kinds of designs and I've long been a fan of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" so this was a no-brainer. The kit is very high quality and I'm really looking forward to stitching it eventually. I'm also curious to try the wool/acrylic blend fibers. (Part of the reason I bought it is that I knew if I went back for it in a few years and it was discontinued I'd really kick myself - that's a lesson I've learned the hard way WAY too many times, especially with things I saw on vacation in places I never know if I'll ever get a chance to visit again). And I also picked up Parisian Street by Panna since I wanted to try one from that brand as well and it caught my eye (and it was on sale at the time!).

As I mentioned up top, I ended up with a bad case of "start-itis" at the end of May, so I'm working on a few other projects and taking a little break from Fairy House. And I technically had a re-start, but I'll go into more about that next time. Since I don't have a ton to show on any of those projects yet, so I'll update more next month! I have a ton of vacation time I have to use before the end of the summer (more accurately, the end of July, because things get crazy in August as we get ready for a new academic and fiscal year) so I expect to get a fair amount of stitching in over the next two months. I'm also really hoping to get some more FFOs done, but I've been dragging my heels on those. Some of the old projects need to be framed, so I'm going to go browse sale shelves at the craft stores on one of my days off. And I need to enjoy it all while I can since I'm going to be back in the office full-time starting at the beginning of August which means I'll lose some of my evening time to commuting again. Booooo. But it will be good to start seeing more folks in person again and not just through a Zoom window on my computer!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

April stitching round-up

In a reverse of how this usually goes - I felt like I did a lot of stitching this month and then when I went to do the round-up, there didn't seem to be as much as I thought. Maybe because I also spent a bit of time doing some finishing? I do actually have 4 FFOs this month, but they are all pretty small projects. As I continue to try to clear out some old stash, I pulled out 4 small hoops I had and found some small designs to put in them (and I used a few old bits of fabric too!).

First up was this little bonsai tree that I had some fun with. The design is from "The OmniBook of Quickies" that I've had for easily 20 years (more likely 25). I have a half dozen or so Weeks Dye Works skiens that I picked up when my LNS closed that have just been sitting in storage, so I pulled out #2202 "Bullfrog" for the greenery on the trees and used DMC 4130 for the planter. In hindsight I should have chosen a little lighter brown for the trunk of the tree, but I'm still pretty happy with how it came out. The leaves on the tree were charted for two DMC greens and I used a variegated thread instead so I just hopped around the design as I was stitching to mix it up. The range in the colors wasn't huge, but I still like how it came out. The bottom was a variegated DMC thread that was supposed to look like a copper planter, which I think it kind of does.

Next was this cute little penguin that I got from the JCS 2013 ornaments issue. I changed the color of the hat though to something that fellow fans of a certain 2002 sci-fi TV series might recognize. :)

Last weekend I tried my hand at tea-dyeing fabric for the first time. The fabric for both of the next two are on the results. I was using a scrap from my stash and I wasn't sure if it was 100% cotton or if it was a blend, so I made the tea pretty strong. Maybe a little too strong as it turns out since I'm pretty sure now that the fabric was completely cotton after all. But I'm still pretty happy that I gave it a try and I learned a few things before the next attempt.

This design was from the JCS 2012 Halloween special issue and I altered it a little from the original. I substituted DMC 90 for the moon and it came out a little more stripey than I would have liked so now it looks more like the cat is watching Jupiter rise!

And this one was from the JCS 2011 Halloween issue. For this one, I changed out the thread for the "booo" to WDW "Trick or Treat" which I used before on a border for another Halloween design. The lightest yellow was probably a little too light for the fabric, but I'm still pretty happy with how it came out. The more interesting thing was that it was the first time in over a decade (at least) that I've stitched on 28 count over 1 and amazingly my eyes didn't bleed thanks to the new glasses I got last summer and my magnifying lamp. I had a hard time getting this centered like I was aiming for, but after messing with it for far too long, I called it "done". I also left off the "to you" part that was along the bottom since I just wanted it to say "booo" because we had a black cat named Boo when I was a kid. :)

That's it for the FFOs, but I also have a partial finish because I wrapped up the spring quarter of Celtic Seasons. I started it on the first day of spring and finished it a month later (although I wasn't working on it exclusively). I'm happy with how it is looking on the black fabric and I can't wait to see how the remaining seasons come out. I'm not quite sure about some of the backstitching though since it looks like it is getting a little lost in some of the stitching and I don't know if that would have been the case on a lighter fabric.

And I've been keeping up with my Temperature Tree. I usually stitch up the previous week's worth of leaves up on the weekend, so this is complete through the end of April. (sorry the color balance is a little wonky on the photo, I was too lazy to fix it this month!)

I technically had a new start this month... yet another Mill Hill kit... but I'll wait until next month to post more about that. It might even get finished in May, although I'm going to try to concentrate on the "big project" I'm hoping to either finish or get a lot done on this year. And I'm just now touching it in May so.... good luck to me, especially since I'm expecting that a lot of that extra time that I got back in my schedule during the pandemic is going to start to go away in the next few months. I also did some shopping this month (I seem to every month these days!) but I'll share more about the Mill Hill kit I bought in that batch in a future update when I actually get started on it.

That's it for April!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

March round-up

I managed to get a fair amount of stitching in this month (mostly thanks to Spring Break) and even have three FFOs!

I did finish up the little Mill Hill kit from my birthday 123Sttich order that I mentioned last month. This design is called "Wine Glass" and it is now all finished up and stuck to my fridge.

And I framed Oppy (just using a press board and frame I already had in my stash):

And I did manage to finish the lighthouse AND frame it! I like doing the "before and after backstitch" photos, so those are first, followed by the framed picture. This was also finished with a press board and a frame from my stash (finally starting to use up all of those frames I've been collecting over the years on close-out sales.) Right now it's on the shelf behind me so it shows up over my shoulder on my constant Zoom meetings.

I've been keeping up with my Temperature Tree, so here's how that's looking now (through March 31):

I have one new start from March, or rather, re-start. I mentioned last month that I started on Celtic Seasons but then ripped it out since I wasn't happy with my stitching, but now I've re-started it. I'm still not 100% happy with how my stitching is coming out, but I've decided not to stress over it too much. I'm not trying to get a blue ribbon and this is just for me, so it doesn't have to be perfect. I'm going to stitch each season in that season, so I started Spring on the first day of spring! Here's where I am so far:

I also have a litle bit of haul from late in the month. I decided to start filling out my Mill Hill bead collection so I bought a couple Elizabeth Ward bead organizers (the one with the 78 mini containers) and I'm going to start adding a couple of bead packages on to all my 123Stitch orders. I had a pretty good organizing system before but since I want to keep adding more, I needed a system that was easier to add new things into (which my old one wasn't). I have a decent collection, but some of them are just remainders from various kits so I'm buying full packages of those colors too. And of course I added another little Mill Hill kit on my most recent order! Look for that one in an upcoming post since I'll probably start stitching on it soon.

That's it for this month - let's see how much I manage to do during a very busy April!