Completed Projects

On Pins and Needles

Or maybe just the pins. This weekend’s quick project was the Goodness and Grace pincushion from Shepherd’s Bush. The aforementioned needles come next, when I get around to the needle book.

I had slightly better luck with the sewing machine this time.

I had slightly better luck with the sewing machine this time.

Did I tell the story of how painful the scissor fob was? How the stitching went okay, but I just couldn’t sew the thing together? Well, this one went much better. It’s still a little lumpy in places and the corners look odd, but I did manage to assemble it correctly this time. I admit I’ve been putting this one off partly because I didn’t know how I was going to put it together. I assembled the scissor fob right side out, but since this one has regular backing fabric, I knew that wasn’t going to work again. I have no natural affinity for the sewing machine. There is a reason I don’t quilt. I once tried to make a pillow case, and I only laughed to keep from crying.

Here’s what I have so far for the Shepherd’s Fold:

Halfway there!

Halfway there!

The full set is six pieces. I have the needle book in the queue, and I’m standing by for the other two. The entire series was supposed to finish in January. Suffice to say, we’re off schedule, but it’s just as bell because I have too many other things in my stash (and I have zero self control so the stash just keeps growing).

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And They All Lived Happily Ever After

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Once Upon a Time:

Huzzahs all around!

Huzzahs all around!

Continue reading

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April WIPocalypse

Well hello, May (when did that happen?!), we’re going to talk about April today. It happens.

April was a bizarre month for me. I had a sudden business trip that really threw me off my game. I brought some stitching with me but didn’t touch it thanks to working some truly bizarre hours, and I decided it was more important to catch up with some old friends while I could.

So here’s what we’ve got!

Juuuuust right.

Juuuuust right.

The border is still sitting unfinished somewhere around the bottom of the piece. April was Goldilocks and some ursine friends. I see I missed a few stitches on one of the mushrooms. Oops–I’ll have to add those in when I do the next block. My favorite part of this one is the wee little bee. Jack and the Bean Stalk is the theme for May.

On the Frosted Pumpkin front, they have some new patterns which I’m ever so tempted by but have too many patterns sitting in my stash as it is. In a few weeks (May 15 maybe?) Ashleigh and Amanda are releasing the second alphabet sampler. I think there will be five total, maybe ever 2 months or so. Looks like they’ll be the same size and general layout but with different themes and different fabric. (The first was the Sugar is Sweet sampler, in case you missed it. I bought it when the Pumpkins had a coupon deal for Easter that was too good to pass up, but I don’t know when I’ll get it to.) They’re also doing a Halloween club this summer and fall. Sign-ups have already started so people can get materials before it starts mid-June. I don’t know if I’ll go for it now or wait. They made a passing reference to past clubs being too much stitching in too little time finishing too close to the holiday in question, so maybe that means this will be more manageable than the Gingerbread Lane and 12 Days craziness of last year.

Not much happening here.

Not much happening here.

Here’s a start on the spring band sampler from the Historical Sampler Company. I honestly don’t remember when I started this. It was probably the end of March before all the new April patterns came out. I haven’t gotten very far. At the time I figured, sure, I can finish this before the end of May. Ha! Not going to happen. Lesson learned–if you want to do a seasonal pattern and put it on the wall, start at least one season in advance. So I should probably put this one down and just work on the autumn sampler for the time being.

Better late than never.

Better late than never.

And we have a finish this month! (sort of this month…) I need to do a better job noting when I start things. We’ll call this 10 Apr – 2 May. These patterns really are quick when you actually sit down and do them; I think March took me a day and a half. The trick is to actually do the stitching. It doesn’t count if you put it on your desk and just stare at it. The blue threw me for a loop. I don’t have the chart handy, but the name suggests it’s actually green. And yet I had no green in my bag with that particular number. And then I looked at the picture and realized it was blue. My conclusion was that there was a mistake on the chart; the actually reason was just the DMC gave it a terrible name. That dark blue is a fabulous color.

Finished this block last night. I’m still not loving the fabric; I almost wish I’d waited until I had my second fabric choice in hand, but then I’d be so far behind it wouldn’t be funny. And after this project I’m never using glow in the dark DMC again. I’ll just sub it with white. I’ll keep at it for this one just for the sake of consistency, but it’s just impossible to work with. I goofed the tree branch, so I had to improvise a little. Not much. By this time we should all know I can’t get through a project without a few slipups here and there. Gives it character. May is a wizard, very Merlin and Archimedes (for those of us who learned Arthurian lore from Disney).

So! Now that that’s out of the way, April’s question was how do you keep your stash organized?

I have spent years trying to find a system that works for me. Something logical, so I can find things quickly. Something quick, so I can add new things fast (laaaazy). I think I’ve finally found something manageable. Mary Corbet pointed me towards some cabinets from the Container Store (http://www.needlenthread.com/2012/04/embroidery-thread-storage.html). I’m operating on a totally different scale, so I just have the one 10-drawer cabinet, and it’s nowhere near filled. Drawers are divided between floss, fabric, and ongoing projects.

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For the floss, I’m grouping things by brand (though who am I kidding–Sullivans is getting mixed with DMC because the conversion is right on the label and they’re similar quality). Each color goes in a little snack bag labeled with the brand and number, then they are grouped in order on metal rings, with plenty of space to add new shades as I get them without having to reorganize the whole thing.

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Each project goes in a gallon bag along with it’s floss. Haven’t come across a situation where multiple WIPs need the same bag of floss, since right now I buy floss as I need it rather than specifically accumulating a stash. My stash is small enough that there’s no harm in having doubles, especially with DMC and Sullivans. I usually buy Cosmo in sets, but it’s pricy enough that I really don’t want doubles. Then again the Workroom is 15 cents off a skein if you get a set, so I guess I’ll be doing the math on a case by case basis. But I digress.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I did the whole box of floss bobbins thing. No thank you. It was so time consuming to dismantle skeins and wind it all on bobbins, and then when you cut off a length and pull out two ply, what do you do with the other four? There’s just nowhere to put it. So the bags win.

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Ferns and Calendars and Framing, Oh My

First of all, I’m pleased to say I stitched through most of the Olympics. I pretty much caught the primetime broadcast every night, though I finally had to bail the last two days because I just couldn’t stand the commercials anymore (I swear, they played the same four commercials on a loop). I was at sea during the 2012 Olympics, and TV reception was less than ideal. I think I saw about five minutes of a tennis match and some synchronized swimming. This go around, I was definitely making up for lost time.

I’d also like to report that the sick kitty is no longer sick. In fact, here he is killing a Something stuffed with catnip.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

As for the stitching, I’ve not exactly been sitting around watching the paint dry. I finally threw my hands in the air and decided to be done with the Nature’s Trio fern once and for all. So here it is, stitched, stuffed in a picture frame, and sitting on the bookshelf:

Finished 22 Feb 2014

Finished 22 Feb 2014

There’s still one left in the series. Once a finish it, I don’t think I’ll ever touch aida again. It’s just so unpleasant after all the linen I’ve been using lately.

But wait, there’s more! It’s March, isn’t it? The March Calendar Girl from Little House Needleworks shipped to the shops not long ago, and it turned up on my doorstep pretty quickly. It was a much faster project than I was expecting; I started it on Friday afternoon and finished it Saturday evening. Easy day. This is DMC on 28-count Zwiegart linen in clay. The frame kit is for a different set of patterns from a completely different manufacturer, but I figured it would suit my purposes. Naturally, it didn’t ship with the actual calendar pages even though the description totally says it does. Rather annoyed. I’m skeptical that the 2014 calendar even exists. Half the sites I look at say the whole thing has been discontinued, and the other half show 2008 in the product picture. Hmm. Rather than take my chances, I’m just going to get a plain, wirebound calendar from Staples. Not as decorative, but probably more useful in the long run.

It also didn't have any hardware except those cup hooks and some chipboard, so for the moment the piece is actually taped in there without glass until I can get the right hardware.

It also didn’t have any hardware except those cup hooks and some chipboard, so for the moment the piece is actually taped in there without glass until I can get the right hardware.

The March blocks for Once Upon a Time and Magical Creatures were released yesterday. While I haven’t started them yet (I was finishing the LHN girl), I have made some progress on the Once Upon a Time grid and border since I last posted. I was trying to finish it before the March block came out, but I didn’t quite get there.

Border is Weeks Dye Works Merlin and Blackberry. The Merlin has some very slight variation which I can only see in one spot (and could be fooling myself that it's actually there), but the Blackberry is much more noticeable.

Border is Weeks Dye Works Merlin and Blackberry. The Merlin has some very slight variation which I can only see in one spot (and could be fooling myself that it’s actually there), but the Blackberry is much more noticeable.

Finally, I tackled the question of framing. Framing ain’t cheap. You know those 50% off coupons Michael’s and Joann’s always have? If something is always on sale, it’s not really on sale. I’ve also spoken to a few people who ran into some fine print issues (can’t remember exactly what) and couldn’t actually use the coupon. Ouch. You’re much better off finding a local framing shop for a more competitive quote, but it’s still pricy. Framing comes up from time to time on the Frosted Pumpkin Facebook group, and it’s universally expensive. I haven’t seen anyone say they had it framed for less than $100, and some people have gone upwards of $200. This hobby is expensive enough as it is (especially once you start using hand dyed fabric and floss instead of DMC and aida). In the past, I’ve put things in regular picture frames, but that really doesn’t work unless the pattern is specifically designed to fit the usual photo sizes. Besides, photo frames don’t have enough space in the back, so it’s always a headache just to secure the back of the frame.

But there’s hope! There are a number of companies online who will custom cut frames and mats. You measure your piece, choose your components, and they’ll cut it and send it to you. The company I used had already assembled the four sides of the frame, so all I had to do was attach the hardware to the back. Easy day, and it was about 25% the cost. I was able to get custom cut acid-free foam board along with the frame, so I mounted the stitching using dressmakers pins. Plenty of space inside the frame for acrylic, mat, foam, and fabric, with enough to spare I probably could have put in spacers to lift the glass a little farther off the stitches. Sweet. This is totally the way to go. I saved stupid amounts of money in exchange for about half an hour of my time per frame. Biggest limiting factor was that the pins started hurting my fingers after a while. So here we go!

Here's my Twelve Days of Christmas with a distressed white wood frame and sage mat.

Here’s my Twelve Days of Christmas with a distressed white wood frame and sage mat.

And here's Christmas on Gingerbread Lane to match! This is the same frame and same size as Twelve Days.

And here’s Christmas on Gingerbread Lane to match! This is the same frame and same size as Twelve Days.

 

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Completed – Twelve Days of Christmas

It’s official! I’ve finished the Twelve Days of Christmas sampler designed by the ladies of Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery! Okay, I technically finished it yesterday but couldn’t sit at my computer long enough to post about it without a cat climbing on the keyboard.

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Finished 28 January 2014

I started this particular design around 8 November when my fabric and floss arrived. I started the grid and border as soon as I had the materials, but after a week of stitching (grid and half the border complete) I took a break when the Christmas on Gingerbread Lane patterns were released. The Pumpkins released the blocks for this sampler in three sets starting 28 November, but I didn’t pick up this project again until after I’d finished Gingerbread Lane (26 December).

Twelve Days is stitched on 28-count cashel linen in Crystal Ale from Picture This Plus. Floss is Cosmo. For the most part, this is a fairly straightforward pattern. It doesn’t involve any fancy stitches, just regular cross stitch, but the border is not very beginner-friendly. The border is intricate enough that it is a little difficult to count, and I had to backtrack a few times. There are a few spots where I just said “screw it” and kept going (compare the border under “elv” with the bit under “tm.” Something is clearly amiss in one of those sections). If you have never crossed a stitch (so to speak) in your life, I would not recommend this pattern. If you want to use another one of the Pumpkins designs as a start, try one of the seasonal samplers stitched on aida instead of linen. I haven’t done any of those patterns, but they look much more straightforward than this one. This is a big project, and I could see newbies getting frustrated with that border. So, in summary, difficult to count, but not difficult to stitch.

I’ve already moved on to the Once Upon a Time sampler; my materials turned up yesterday morning, and it seems that was all I needed to get moving again (I wasn’t allowed to start a new project until I finished this). I still have the increasingly questionable goal of finishing the January block for OUaT before February is released on Saturday.

If you want to join in, OUaT is being released in 12 parts throughout 2014, and there is a very active stitch-a-long group on Facebook. Just search for “Frosted Pumpkin Stitch-A-Long Group.” And by active I mean we have 800 people; clearly, the Pumpkins are doing something right when it comes to social media.

ALSO, since this is the first project I’ve finished since embarking this bloggerific adventure, I’d like to direct your attention over to the Finishes page, which you’ll also find linked up in the header next to the mostly useless “About” button. There isn’t much there yet, pretty much just the picture you’re already looking at on this page, but come hell or high water that list will grow.

And just because, here’s a picture of a sleeping cat:

Zzzzzzzzz........

Zzzzzzzzz……..

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