Sunday, November 21, 2021

Catching up!

I was doing SO good at keeping up with a monthly post but part of that was actually having enough to share! But as work has continued to return to mostly normal (i.e. very hectic and busy) and I'm going into the office four days a week (still working from home most Fridays) I haven't had all that much time to stitch or blog. But I do have a few things to show now, so I figured I'd go ahead and write a post.


Part of what inspired the finishing frenzy from earlier this year was that I wanted to have the Tower of London finally framed by the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 (see this previous post for more background) and I sort of managed to do it. I have the piece pinned to foam core and I did a test fit in the frame but I haven't actually laced the stitching yet or mounted it in the frame. But I did snap a picture of what the final object will look like!

And I managed to fully finish a couple of smaller projects: "Nevermore" by Satsuma Street - which I had hoped to finish before Halloween but didn't quite manage to - and "Pizza Slice", another of the million Mill Hill kits I have. "Nevermore" is meant to be a hanging ornament but I decided to make it a magnet instead.


I've been keeping up with Temperature Tree so here are the updates through the end of September and October. You can see we started to get a little taste of fall by the end of October, but the really nice, cool weather will start to show up in the November branch.

New Start

For some reason I was really itching to start something Christmas-themed, so I started this "Charlie Brown Christmas" pattern that I bought last year and then spent too long trying to figure out what fabric to use, so it didn't get started until this year. This week I've managed to stitch the little tree and Charlie Brown's hat:


I had managed to hold off on any shopping sprees for a few months, but I did need a few things and we all know that thread (and beads) cannot travel alone so... (and yes, of course there are some Mill Hill kits in there)

Other hobbies!

I also have finally started dabbling in another hobby that I've been wanting to try for a while and have begun restoring my old Apple IIgs computer! I started with de-yellowing (aka 'retrobrighting') the keyboard and mouse you see here, as well as the 3.5" and 5.25" disk drive cases (which weren't as stark a contrast, so I didn't bother with pictures). Next will be the CPU case and then finally the monitor, assuming I have enough room in the retrobright box I made. In the irony of all ironies, even though I live deep in the heart of Texas, it is basically impossible to get direct sunlight on my patio, so I had to come up with a way to retrobright indoors. I lined a plastic bin with tin foil and then covered the inside top with UV rope lights and then placed the plastic parts (coated with peroxide cream and cling wrap) inside for several hours. I'm pretty pleased with the results!

That's it for this round-up! I'm hoping to get a fair amount of stitching in over the Thanksgiving break and I guess with the fact that there are only six weeks left in the year, I should start thinking about 2022 plans! I bought my usual day planner that I've used for a few different things over the past couple of years, but this time I think I'm going to mostly use it as a combo general journal and stitch journal. Here's hoping a have a lot of stitchy things to write down in it!

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!