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!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

February check-in

Well... that was certainly an interesting month! Given the big hiccup in the middle of it, I still managed to get some stuff done! (For those of you who haven't seen old posts, I'm in Texas... more about that below.)

I've continued to experiement with some non-stitchy crafts and I bought a 3-D puzzle kit by Robotime that was supposed to be a British Pub, but ended up being a British Music Shop. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had that issue, as I discovered when I went searching around to try to find someone who was selling the actual British Pub kit. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find one since all of the hits that came up in my searching had people commenting that the item was 'not as pictured' and was indeed the Music Store instead. Regardless, it was a cute kit and I'm glad I gave it a go. I have done a variety of 3-D puzzles over the years but this was the first one I did that was on wood. I also bought one of the dollhouse room kits that I've started to see pop up in crafty circles online, but I haven't started that yet. Here's the British Music Shop all finished:

I've been able to keep up with my Temperature Tree, which is now a record of the incredible weather we had last month. I wrote early last month:
[When] I saw what the temps were starting to look like, I decided to switch to the "Hot Temps" color scheme so I will probably get to use all of the colors. We've had a few days where the high was below the lowest temperature color, but I don't expect we'll have a whole lot more. We're expecting another cold snap next week, but I still think that will only mean 2-3 days with the coldest color leaf. We went through a cold patch a few weeks ago (and had 2-3 inches of SNOW!) and then quickly rebounded back into the 60s and 70s. And I have a feeling I'll be using all of those 100+ colors once we get into the summer months! Of course, with my luck, we'll end up having a polar vortex blast in Dec. 2021 and I'll have a completely pink branch or something.
I'll note that I posted that on February 7, so yes, we already had a good idea that we were expecting some more cold weather at that point. It ended up lasting a lot more than 2-3 days, which you can see clearly in the light pink at the end of the second branch up on the left. So in the end I didn't have to wait until December for a polar vortex blast and a pink branch. We got ice, then lots of snow (about 6" of the light, fluffy kind), then more ice, then more snow, then some melting, but overnight re-freezing... it was a hell of a week. I ended up not having electicity for a little over 80 hours and I had water issues on and off, but I never completely lost water so I was lucky in that respect. We've lost hot water at my apartment a couple more times, including for a couple of days last week, as they continue to do repairs from the storm.

I've also worked a little more on the lighthouse that I started last summer but then set aside to work on autumn/Halloween things. I guess all of that cold weather had me thinking of summery things, so I pulled it out and worked on it a bit more (there's a little more at the bottom if you compare it to the picture back in August 2020). I think I'm going to make it a focus for the rest of this month and try to finish it soon.

I actually managed to start AND FINISH a project in February and early March and I will probably have it fully finished (framed, in this case) today or tomorrow, so I'll show that next time. This is "Lost Opportunity" by SonovaStitch on Etsy - I saw several people posting it on the cross stich subreddit and I knew I had to do it! The was the first time in quite a while that I had done anything on black and I ended up buying a small lightboard to put on my desk under my stand to help me see the holes. I also noticed that black is definitely less forgiving of sloppy stitching, so that is something I'm definitely going to work on more in the future. Even though I've been stitching for 30 years there is still a lot I can improve!

I technically had another start in the month, but I decided to rip out what I had done and start again. I've had Celtic Seasons from the Vickery Colleciton in my pattern stash for ages and I decided to start it on a piece of 18 count black aida but I wasn't happy with how my stitching was coming out so I frogged it (see above about trying to improve my sloppy stitching). I started on the winter section, but after I ripped that out, I'm going to try again on the spring side. I think it's going to look amazing on black so don't want to completely give up on it!

Finally, I did a little brithday shopping from 123 Stitch and got some fabric, some thread conditioner (which I've never tried so I thought I finally would) and a couple of kits. Of course, one of the kits was another little Mill Hill kit! I'm working on that right now, so I'll show it next month since I know I'll finish it pretty quickly. And yes, I already have a ton of fabric but almost all of it is 28 and 32 count and I've decided to start playing around with 18ct aida again because it will make some of the larger projects I've been looking at become a bit more managable (yes, I know I could do 36 count instead but I'm pretty sure my eyes would never forgive me if I did). I've been getting some smaller, inexpensive cuts, such as 9"x13", to see the colors before getting larger cuts if I decide to use it on those projects I've been eyeing. Plus, I like the little cuts for ornaments and other small designs so it never goes to waste!

That's it for the February round-up! Since I'm taking Spring Break off, I expect to get a fair amount of stitching done in March. It's not like there's a whole lot else for me to do since I'm not vaccinated (like a whole lot of Texas) and our governor unwisely decicded to open everything back up starting next week, so I'm going to be extra careful for a while. Thankfully a lot of local businesses are keeping their mask requirements, but I'm still going to be cautious until I get my jabs!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

January check-in!

I want to do at least monthly check-ins this year but I realized I didn't actually do any stitching in January. Most years I would get dissappointed in myself over that BUT this time I'm not because instead of stitching I was working on other crafts! Neither really fall under the "whatever else I stitch together" but - eh - close enough. :)

A few years ago I bought a few Metal Earth kits and started into the Hubble Space Telesscope model only to realize that I needed to start with something a little more simple. So I bought a couple more kits and... they all sat in a bin for a few more years. But I decided this was the year I was finally going to do them! And once I got into a groove (and bought a nice little tool set) I managed to finish all four of them. I got a better as I went along too!

The first kit I finished was The TARDIS which ended up being my "learning experience" kit. It came out okay, but I broke the part on one of the doors that allows them to open and close. So now that it's on the shelf - I'm not moving it! But, lessons were learned.

Next up is the Hubble Space Telescope that was the one that I originally started with but hit PAUSE on until I got a little better at these kind of kits. And you can see in this photo that one of the big drawbacks to the Metal Earth kits is all the fingerprints you end up with on your model! Another lesson learned on this one was to be careful with the thin parts that stick up - I broke one of the antennae off (which would be a big problem if that happened to the real Hubble!).

After Hubble, I did the Neuschwanstein Castle kit, which I was pretty pleased with. I had an issue joining the main two sections and getting them to lay flat on the base, but isn't too noticeable. And I didn't break anything on this one!

And last but not least - the final one I did was the Millennium Falcon! Not surprisingly, it came out the best since it was the fourth one I put together. There were still a few tricky bits and I'm glad I saved it for last since I was able to take into account things I learned from doing the other ones. Getting curvy parts into the right shape is - at least for me - the hardest parts of these kits so if I do more of these eventually I'm going to have to seek out some tips and tricks for that. (I suspect that molding it around another object might be the key.)

The other thing I finally tried was diamond painting! Bought a little kit in the middle of 2020 but I didn't actually start on them until right the end of the year and I completed them about a week into the new year. When I went shoppping for a starter kit I kept finding all of these huge projects that I really didn't want, so I ended up with the ones you see below, which are actually meant to be stickers. I put them on index cards and I'm going to glue felt and magnets to the back and put them on my fridge eventully. I couldn't resist this kit of mostly Marvel characters with Supes and the Bat from DC thrown in randomly. I enjoyed trying diamond painting and I'll probably do some more eventually, but probably not any of those huge pictures I see some folks on FlossTune doing. These little things are more my speed (and what I have space for!)

That's it for the January round-up! I have already done some stitching in February, so I expect to have a few things to show in the next check-in. I'm now all caught up with my Temperature Tree for the year so far and once I saw what the temps were starting to look like, I decided to switch to the "Hot Temps" color scheme so I will probably get to use all of the colors. We've had a few days where the high was below the lowest temperature color, but I don't expect we'll have a whole lot more. We're expecting another cold snap next week, but I still think that will only mean 2-3 days with the coldest color leaf. We went through a cold patch a few weeks ago (and had 2-3 inches of SNOW!) and then quickly rebounded back into the 60s and 70s. And I have a feeling I'll be using all of those 100+ colors once we get into the summer months! Of course, with my luck, we'll end up having a polar vortex blast in Dec. 2021 and I'll have a completely pink branch or something. But I'll have photos of Temperature Tree next month, along with a few other things!