January WIPocalypse

What a week. Or maybe I should just say what a month instead. You know how just about everything stopped everywhere over the holidays? Yeah, no, I worked through them. And I was putting in a crazy number of extra hours to meet a deadline. I’m exhausted, and I did something weird to my elbow. Time to burn a few vacation days.

It’s tough to stitch when you’re this worn out (and when your elbow is messed up). I had to frog and stitch the same little section three times in a row the other day. The last few nights I’ve just stared at my stitching in a vague stupor before putting it down without a single stitch and going to sleep instead.

So let’s talk about WIPocalypse. January’s topic is: Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!

Me. I’m a 20-something from California who works too much and spends the rest of her time waiting on two cats hand and foot. Their lives pretty much revolve around sleeping, eating, pooping, and sitting in boxes.

Right now I’m focusing on Once Upon a Time from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I started this one back at the beginning of 2014, and it’s time to finish it. My goal is to finish before the next Frosted Pumpkin pattern comes out on the 15th. This weekend would sure be great. I have made some progress since I last posted about it, so I haven’t been completely useless.

So close, yet so far.

So close, yet so far.

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Cinderelly and the Pumpkin

Happy new year (plus a few days)!

Oh how I wanted to finish this project before the end of December. Shockingly, that didn’t happen. The new goal is to finish this before the Story Time Sampler is released later this month. That much I can do, assuming I don’t waste the weekends between now and then.

Let’s check in with Once Upon a Time, where Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has bippity-boppity-booed the pumpkin carriage into existence.

October in January? Just roll with it.

October in January? Just roll with it.

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Just Kitting

Mail call! I got lots of fun goodies in the mail yesterday, including my materials for the upcoming Story Time Sampler SAL from Frosted Pumpkin. The first part of the pattern comes out January 15th, so there’s still plenty of time to join in. I got my materials as a kit from The Cottage Needle. Since I have all this new fun stuff that I have to sort through, I figured I’d do a post on kitting. Now, I’m cheating a little since the shop gathered everything up already, whereas I usually pick and choose my materials individually, so we’re going to skip that part.

So here we go. Here’s my floss. It’s a mix of Cosmo and Weeks. Cosmo is my not-overdyed floss of choice. It’s pricier than DMC, but the quality is so much better. It’s much easier to work with. I don’t get knots, and the ends don’t fray. It’s a little hard to find, and I think it turns up more in quilt shops than needlework shops. My floss looks nice and neat for the moment, but once I start stitching there are going to be loose bits and unkempt skeins all over the place. Let’s preemptively rein that in.

Agh so much pretty!

Agh so much pretty!

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A Look Ahead

New year, new goals, etc. etc. blah blah blah. So what are we looking at for 2015?

First of all, the infamous WIPs. Once Upon a Time is first on the list if I can’t finish it in the next five days (which I bet I can’t). I have three blocks to go. I really want to get this one finished before the 2015 Frosted Pumpkin SAL kicks off (Jan 16ish). OUAT is sitting on my desk right now, staring at me. “Stiiiitch meeee…..” it says. I’m still recovering from Mystic Christmas, but OUAT is so blessedly easy compared with that.

Next up is Something Wicked. Part 1 is done, 2 more to go. It also has a lagniappe. I’m maybe 2/3 through the first section. Part 1 took more effort than I was expecting from it’s size (filling in the moon, I guess), but it’s certainly doable. Not sure how I feel about Halloween stitching in February, but considering the alternative is waiting until fall and inevitably missing Halloween again? Let’s just get this one done and over with.

As for the others, the Spring Band Sampler has gone back in my stash until I work my way down to it again. I’ve lost a little of my enthusiasm for Quilty Stitches and a lot of my enthusiasm for Magical Creatures, but since I hate to leave things half finished, I’ll try to circle back to them as I have time.

New projects! Fun and shiny!

I have two big projects for 2015. Serenity Harbor Sampler from By the Bay kicks of 3 January, with one section released each month over the year. This isn’t a mystery SAL; the full picture is already out there. Allegedly the fabric is turning up in the mail today. No word on when my floss is shipping. I’m working on this one for the 2015 Stitchy Start SAL.

I also have the Story Time Sampler from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. It starts mid-January, then releases at the beginning of each month after that. Materials should arrive today or tomorrow.

Other than those big, ongoing projects, I have a lot in my stash. I haven’t really gone through everything and put them in order, but I know I want to do From Sea to Shining Sea (Little House Needleworks) first and Candy Cane Cottage (The Victoria Sampler) sometime before Christmas. Then there’s the pin keep from Shepherd’s Fold, plus the next three kits whenever they happen to be released. I’m restarting the Fun Every Day perpetual calendar from SamSarah on aida rather than perforated paper. We’ll see how it all falls into place. I want to avoid adding anything new to my stash, but I’ve said that before and it’s never worked out.

So there you have it. I’ll try to get a little more of OUAT out of the way before the new year, but then we’re off and running.

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Merry Christmas

So what have you been up to lately?

I’m so glad you asked. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Mystic Christmas

Mystic Christmas, 10/2/14 – 12/24/14

I started this back in October (when I should have been working on Something Wicked), and here we are. A few stitching marathons later, I finished this last night with one whole hour to spare before Christmas. That means I’m ahead of the game compared to last year, when I finished Gingerbread Lane the day after Christmas.

Much as I love this pattern and much as I enjoyed stitching it, we have a few lessons learned. This is without question the most complicated pattern I’ve ever attempted, so that’s to be expected.

1. Never will I ever stitch over one thread. Linen was not designed to stitch over one. I know some people do it; I don’t know how they don’t go nuts. The lettering, compass rose, and cameo are stitched over one, and the floss kept sliding between the fabric threads. I generally stitch in hand using the sewing method, but that does not fly in this case. Suddenly one stitch takes four times longer than I’m used to, which is how that wee little cameo took over six and a half hours to finish.

2. Get better scissors if you’re going to keep doing hardanger. If you look really, really, really closely, the cutouts look a little ragged. And then of course there’s the spot where I snipped one thread too far. It was really hard to cut those sections cleanly without nicking the satin stitches. I was using my regular embroidery scissors. They’re okay, but they’re not great. Not for this.

3. Silk is deeeelightful. I already knew that, but it’s worth reiterating. So nice to stitch with.

Just for kicks, I timed this one. Just shy of 60 hours. Wow. Still, it’s good to have a benchmark.

So what’s next? WIPocalypse kicks off again in January. We all remember how timely I was with those posts last year (ha!), but I’m going to give it another try. Keep an eye on my WIPocalypse page for my updated stash. Um, I have a lot of stash to work through, and it’s only marginally organized. And really, who has a stash that’s more than marginally organized?

For reals though, if anyone has any tips for stash organization, please give a shout down below.

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September WIPocalypse

How about that, I’m posting on time for once.

Since my last post, I finished the first part of the Something Wicked mystery sampler. Still holding off on pictures until the entire thing is finished per Patti’s request. Part 2 is on order, but of course I ordered it with another pattern that was out of stock, so I’m still waiting on that one. But that’s okay; I have plenty of other things to work on in the meantime.

I’m catching up on Once Upon a Time. Here’s my August block:

I admit I'm completely blanking on the title of this story, even though it was totally the summer theater project one year when I was in elementary school.

I admit I’m completely blanking on the title of this story, even though it was totally the summer theater project one year when I was in elementary school.

I changed up the colors on the cat. The original pattern is orange, but I figured there are enough cats running around this place that I might as well use one of them as a model. Here’s the cat in question wearing a bow tie:

I'll have a vodka mahrtini. Shaken, not shtirred.

I’ll have a vodka mahrtini. Shaken, not shtirred.

For everything else I’ve stitched since my last WIPocalypse update, please click over to my post from a few days ago.

September topic is: Who is your favourite person to stitch for, or do you prefer to keep your stitching yourself?

I just stitch for myself. I used to stitch gifts, but no one was very appreciative. Back in the early days before I could gauge how long a project would take, I gave someone a birthday gift six weeks after the fact because it took me way longer to finish than I expected. They were irritated that I had “forgotten” their birthday and thought I had only just then remembered. I stopped giving stitched gifts a few years after that. I was making smaller, more manageable pieces as gifts, but then people were responding like I’d just thrown something together because they were small. Maybe it would be different if I gave gifts to other stitchers, but there aren’t that many in my life. I had planned to make a gift for someone earlier this year (first time in about 6 years) but changed my mind. I think that one could have gone 50/50, but it would have been about a 30-hour project and I’ve just been burned too many times in the past. Every now and again I see a pattern and think, “Oh, so and so would love that!” but I don’t go along with it.

Oh! Also of note is that I’ve added an Instagram account. Check out @live.long.and.stitch for some of my smaller updates.

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Still Here, Still Stitching

Clearly, I’ve been out of the loop for a bit, though I’ve still been stitching. A second round of work travel, a few night shifts, and a scratched cornea left me rather distracted. Meanwhile, my brother has convinced me to run a half-marathon in a few months, and I’m learning parkour. With what little free time I have left, it’s pretty much blog or stitch, and I chose to stitch. (Because otherwise there wouldn’t be much to blog about, am I right?)

But whatever. I’m here now, and I have updates. April or May or whenever was a while ago. Now that I’m uploading all the pictures, it occurs to me I might not want to cram all of this into one post, but if I don’t I’ll just give up and figure I can write this thing another day. Not sure if we’re in a rut or a vicious cycle, but I’m not going to analyze it too closely. I’m also going to tackle some of the WIPocalypse questions I missed, but for now let’s talk about the stitching progress.

Finishes first. Hold onto your hats.

May Calendar Girl - Completed 5/10

May Calendar Girl – Completed 5/10

Here’s the May Calendar Girl from Little House Needleworks. I have the rest of them, but I second guessed myself as to how I want to finish them. They’ll sit for a minute until I figure it out. Since I already have 3 finished, I’ll most likely keep stitching each one separately just so I don’t have to redo them. I have enough other pieces languishing in the stash that I’m not really in a hurry. They’re cute, but I just don’t know what I want to do with them.

Colonial Dry Goods

Colonial Dry Goods

I really like this one, and I had my eye on it for a while. This is Colonial Dry Goods, also by Little House Needleworks, finished 5/23. Fun fact, that blue is actually green. At least, it’s called green, which really threw me for a loop. The left side looks a little weird because I don’t stitch on a hoop and haven’t stretched it out for framing yet. I’ve been waiting until I have more things to frame because I’m cheap and don’t like to pay for shipping. It happens. The lettering at the top is a Classic Colorworks floss called Rod and Reel, and it’s one of the best overdyed flosses I’ve used. Everything else is just variation within the same color, which is subtle. This one is a little more in your face.

Sugar is Sweet - 6/8/14

Sugar is Sweet – 6/8/14

The picture doesn’t do this one justice. The lighting in my kitchen really messed with the various shades of pink. Maybe it’s just me, but in this picture the pinks look a little purple when in reality they are definitely pink.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is Sugar Is Sweet by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I could have sworn they said they were doing either 4 or 5 alphabet samplers this year with a similar layout, but so far there’s only been one other than this. Oh well. The ribbon is just wrapped around the outer part of the hoop. The fabric isn’t mounted in the hoop very well. There’s no glue involved, just a drawstring type situation in the back, so I’ll probably take it down and fix the mount at some point.

A Full Heart - 7/11

A Full Heart – 7/11

This is A Full Heart, the first part of the 2014 Shepherd’s Fold by Shepherd’s Bush. This is the first pattern of theirs I’ve done, and I admit it was harder than I expected. I’m still not sure why. The beads and specialty stitches weren’t particularly hard, and it’s only 32 ct fabric. Maybe the silk was throwing me for a loop. I don’t know. I love looking at this piece now that’s it’s finished and I would certainly do it again if I went back in time, but it was a relief when I reached the end.

A Full Heart mounted on the shaker box

A Full Heart mounted on the shaker box

This piece was designed as a box topper for a sewing box. Yes, I splurged and got the box. Up until now my notions have been a little out of control (and would often turn up in strange places), so it’s definitely handy to have the box.

My Home - 7/27

My Home – 7/27

Here’s My Home, a scissor fob and the second part of the Shepherd’s Fold. I admit I don’t know the purpose of a fob. The stitching wasn’t a problem, but the finishing was surprisingly difficult. I followed the instructions in the kit, but it just kept looking worse and worse until I finally took it apart and tried again. The “correct” way was to sew it wrong side out, flip it the right way, stuff it, finish closing it, then attach the ribbon. Mine looked just awful. I ended up making a backstitch border around both sides and sewing the backstitches together, looping on the ribbon and beads as I went.

Here's the reverse side of the same piece.

Here’s the reverse side of the same piece.

That’s my last finish, so let’s move on to some of the more… long range projects I’m working on. Here are a bunch of blocks for Once Upon a Time:

May

Jack and the Bean Stalk

June

The Princess and the Pea

July

Thumbalina

I’m two months behind. These blocks go pretty quickly, so that’s not so bad.

Here's what the whole thing looks like right now.

Here’s what the whole thing looks like right now.

And then there’s the Magical Creatures Calendar:

Not Merlin. "Thaddeus."

Not Merlin. “Thaddeus.”

Some dragons for good measure.

Some dragons for good measure.

And a mermaid who is not named Ariel but has a Disneyfied sense of fashion.

And a mermaid who is not named Ariel but has a Disneyfied sense of fashion.

Honestly? This makes me pretty uncomfortable. Cloudsfactory is expanding into more original designs, but a lot of her patterns use trademarked characters. I bought this one because at first it had original characters and I figured it would stay that way, but the wizard and mermaid who look like Disney but with different names in the pattern… I’ll finish stitching this pattern, but that will probably be it for me for Cloudsfactory unless the company fully shifts away from trademarked characters.

Now how about something new?

Mysterious Halloween Town

Mysterious Halloween Town

This is the Mysterious Halloween Town from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. It’s being released this fall in four parts. This is 1-3, with part 4 coming out later in September. I love that variegated purple on the bakery. The individual parts of this were fairly quick to stitch. Part 4 will go along the bottom.

I’m working on the SamSarah mystery sampler, but since they’ve asked folks not to post pictures until it’s over, I’ll hold off for now. I’m almost finished with the first part (for those who are doing the same pattern, I haven’t finished filling in that bit on the left, but everything else is done). The designer has sent out part 2, but the shop I’m using hasn’t gotten it yet.

Finally, here’s this:

Fun Every Day - Tuesday

Fun Every Day – Tuesday

This is the first tag for the Fun Every Day perpetual calendar SamSarah put out a while back. I’m going to have to start over. The perforated paper is driving me nuts; I usually use the sewing method on linen, so this is just too slow for me. I’ve ordered a large enough piece of linen that I can stitch all the tags in hand, then trim them to size and glue them to the paper tags. I do so hate to redo things, but perforated paper takes like three extra motions per stitch. Not cool.

I’ve done some work on Quilty Stitches, but I can’t remember what I last posted about or how far I am right now, nor do I have any pictures of it handy. I guess we’ll come back to that one.

Let’s look at some of the WIPocalypse questions I missed.

May: What designs or themes do you really wish you could find?  What do you think is missing among stitching designs?

This one is a little hard for me to answer. I don’t generally look for specific themes, and it’s a little hard to pin down why something appeals to me. I tend to look at Americana and nautical first, but I generally choose pieces because I like the color scheme or the layout. A Full Heart doesn’t strike me as something I would like, but I do. I can’t explain it. So I don’t know what I wish I could find, because I have a hard time searching for something specific. I just kind of see things in passing and know I like them.

June: Have you ever been to a stitch gathering such as a retreat or a festival? If so, tell us about it!

Negative.

July: It’s halfway to Christmas.  Do you start your holiday stitching this early?  If so, what do you hope to accomplish this year?

I haven’t done any Christmas stitching yet. I certainly wasn’t doing any in July. Then again, I’m doing two Halloween patterns this year, which is not usual for me, so if I weren’t doing those I would probably start Christmas patterns. I have two so far this season; one is ready to go once I reach a stopping point with some of the Halloween stuff, and the other is waiting on fabric.

August:  Tell us about your oldest and newest WIPs,

Newest is the SamSarah Halloween sampler. I just started that September 3. The oldest one I’m actively working on is Once Upon a Time, which goes back to late December, but the oldest thing gathering dust (not really, it’s in a bag to protect it from dust) is a blanket on which I once thought I could stitch the Super Mario World overworld map. That’s been around since early 2010 (or maybe late 2009? I really can’t remember). I’m a little more realistic about things these days, so much as I would love to see that one finished, I bet I never get back to it. There are just too many other fun patterns out there that are more manageable. (More sane?)

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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.

P1010696P1010695

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.

P1010694

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.

P1010693

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.

Categories: Completed Projects, WIP | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Very Quilty

Lots of new patterns (or segments of patterns) were released in the last week. Quilty Stitches 6 on Monday, Once Upon a Time Three Bears on Tuesday, and Magical Creatures Gnome also on Tuesday. I’m not sure exactly when the April Calendar Girl from Little House Needleworks came out, but I just got a shipping notice for my copy. The 2014 Shepherd’s Fold either shipped this week or is about to ship; I’m not signed up for that one because while I like the color scheme and the wee sheep, the box it’s designed for is pretty pricey. I also got the April issue of World of Cross Stitch, and I feel a little let down. I usually find two or three patterns in each issue I like and figure I break even, but this time around I only found one for the maybe pile. There is a pattern from the Historical Sampler Company which is nice (I’m a big fan of their patterns and have a few in my stash to work on), but it’s a birth sampler and no one close to me is having babies at the moment. The free gift was a kit for two butterfly cards; I’ll probably do that at some point. But overall, not thrilled.

Prior to all this, I knocked out some more of the Quilty Stitches sampler. I was pretty far behind, but I finished blocks 3 and 4 and am almost finished with block 5. I think I’ve also decided what I want to do with the border.

Also of note, I finally went back to the first square and fixed the fractional stitches:

Kindly compare this...

Kindly compare this…

...to this.

…to this.

As I’ve said before, I generally don’t put the diagonal stitch on my fractionals and just leave them like they are in the second picture, but that really doesn’t work with this pattern.

So here’s where we are overall:

Not thrilled about the red in block 4, but it's what I had in my stash.

Not thrilled about the red in block 4, but it’s what I had in my stash.

I’m almost done with 5, but I won’t post it until I’ve done the last few stitches. Care to stitch along? Here are the links for blocks three and four. Fun stuff.

Meanwhile Goldilocks is sitting on my desk making me feel like a lazy slacker because the bears don’t even have faces yet. Creepy. Though not as creepy as when the three pigs were still faceless.

No real cat stories today, just the introduction of the Karate Kitty:

Still acts like a kitten even though he's definitely not kitten-sized anymore.

Still acts like a kitten even though he’s definitely not kitten-sized anymore.

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Piggies and a Phoenix

At last some forward momentum! There are new patterns coming out at the beginning of April, so I needed to finish the March stuff while I still could. Knowing me, once I fall behind I’ll just give up and do something else with my time. Which would sure be a waste of all this fancy fabric and such.

So here are some piggies!

P1010611

For the longest time I thought those radishes were grape bunches. Had no idea why they weren’t purple all over; perhaps they’d faded in the sun?

Also channeled some Harry Potter with the March Magical Creatures block.

Dumbledore Harry Potter Sorting Hat Expecto Patronum!

Dumbledore Harry Potter Sorting Hat Expecto Patronum!

So in my usual procrastinating style, I finished everything on time, just at the last minute. Keep in mind this is the girl who kept finding things to fix on her thesis up until 7am the day it was due.

I finally got back to work on the gift sampler.  Still no pictures until the big day. I had some of the colors completely wrong, but fortunately I wasn’t very far and only had to rip out a few rows.

As for my two wee little roommates? Well, either they’re free spirits or just a little slow, but I don’t think this is the usual way to sit in a box.

What are you looking at, woman? This is totally how it's done.

What are you looking at, woman? This is totally how it’s done.

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