Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Celebration and Hope House

Spring is in full bloom here now.  My headaches are a testament.  But I love going outside without a coat and just feeling warm anyway!    Lately I seem to have a fascination with primitive designs.  It's such a change from the really detailed type of cross-stitching I used to prefer.  When I saw this cute little freebie from the Primitive Hare,  "Spring Celebration", I couldn't wait to stitch it up. I used a piece of 32 count natural Gander linen that I bought from The Thread Basket.  I had heard so many good things about this linen that I was curious to try it out.  It's not available much in the U.S., but the Thread Basket does specialize in French patterns and has a limited supply on the site.  It's a nice weighty linen, and I enjoyed working with it.   It was just the right size to turn into a luggage tag for Spring Break getaways.  I gave it to a Jazzercise instructor who taught an especially fun class on the day I finished it up.

While searching for something completely different, I found this cute pattern for a funky crocheted house on Pinterest.  Just for fun I tried to see if I could actually re-create it.  My finishes from a lot of crochet patterns just don't turn out anything like the models.   This one worked out pretty well though.  I added a safety pin on the back.. poor man's brooch.  One of my friends has been training for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk.  She's trying to get in shape without over-doing and it's been a little tricky.  I will give it to my friend as a gift of encouragement.  The pattern is called "Hope House" and you can download the free pdf here.  I should have taken the photo in context so you could see the size.  It's about 3" (7.62 cm) high.  I crocheted it using #10 crochet cotton with a size 7 hook from colors that I had already.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Good Ole Days

I think Spring has finally sprung in these parts.  Hoping that the three hours of snow yesterday were a last gasp of winter.  I spent the day finishing up this little quilty mat.  It will rest on the table next to sofa and hold the remote and my glasses.  I love these two Victorian ladies, probably spreading gossip as they meet on the street, dressed so elegantly.   They are a nice take on silhouettes.. just enough color to be interesting. Only four shades of DMC.  One of my better binding efforts, but still with my characteristic wonkiness!

The design actually put me in mind of one of my great aunts.  Here name was Annie also, but I was not named after her.  She was born in 1882 in Russia and came to the U.S. in 1898 at the age of 16.  Her outfit could definitely compete with the cross-stitched ladies' finery.

When I was a kid and my older brother discarded some toy or trinket he no longer wanted, I always scooped it up and added it to my collection of treasures.  One such item was still in my jewlery box.  It was a tie tack from AZA, the young boys club that was part of B'nai B'rith.  I decided it was high time I returned it to its rightful owner.  It was so tiny that I was afraid if I put it in an envelope, my brother might drop it, the tie tack would roll under some furniture, and he would never find it. So I invented a keepsake pouch for it.  Kind of looks like a needlebook.  The 6-pointed star I crocheted was not exactly a Star of David, but close enough.  Click here for the pattern.

I added the little tab so that the tie-tack would be removable rather that just sewn into the lining.  I doubt that he will remove it, but just in case!

My brother has received it now (after a bit of scare with weird post office tracking statuses!).  The tie tack is so tiny that although he could see that it is a menorah, he couldn't see the lettering, Aleph-Zadik-Aleph which is AZA in Hebrew.  He didn't recognize it at all as being something he once owned so I had to tell him what it was.  I took this enlarged photo and lightened it up so the letters are a touch more visible.  He certainly appreciated the effort though!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Altoid Tin

Hoping for a spring warm-up this week.  We got a taste of it yesterday, but pretty brisk again today.  I've been doing a bit of stitching in spring colors to give Mother Nature the hint.  This Altoid tin and stitchy items inside will be a little thank you gift for a friend.  She doesn't stitch, but appreciates all the smalls she sees me make.

The tin top design is from the current issue of JCS.  The magazine is featuring a series of hornbooks and this one is from Dames of the Needle.  I stitched it over-one on 32 count lugana.  The photos look like the fabric is white, but it's actually a more ivory color.

It's always harder to figure out what to put inside than it is to decorate the tin.  But here's my current plan for contents.  This could change if I get other ideas, but I'm tired of thinking about it so this will probably be it.

The egg pin cushion is by Aliolka. She showed it in multiple color schemes and she has a second version with a daisy I think.  Click here for the free pattern.  I just sewed up a backing following the outline of the stitching, stuffed it and added beads on the edge.   It is stitched over-two on 32 count lugana.

The keychain fob is a tiny granny square done in variegated crochet cotton.  I got the idea from this pattern for granny square earrings.  There are many variations on granny square earring patterns but this was the tiniest version and simple to attach to the keyring.  Tiny is important when working on Altoid tin contents.

The little bunny on the lid is a popular free crochet bunny pattern.  Works up in no time.   One could make dozens of these in a wink if there was any reason to.   Here's a link to the tute if you want to whip up a few of these for the coming season.

And once again, a toothy take-off on a famous painting in the guise of a dentist reminder card.  If you think I go to the dentist a lot, you are right.  Miserable mouth syndrome.

This one may be harder to recognize.  Think men in bowler hats floating in air,  Golconde by Magritte. Ignore my sneaker.  It was windy out on the balcony and I was trying to keep the card from blowing away.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I've Got the Horse Right Here.....

Just in time for GW's birthday, I finished this  Paul Revere piece.  I was singing the whole time I was stitching..

I've got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere, and here's a guy that says that if the weathers' clear, can do...can do...this guy says the horse can do. If he says the horse can do...can do...can do.

For those that don't recognize the lyric, it's from the most wonderful show, Guys and Dolls. 
You can watch the opening number to the show to see it performed if you care to on this You Tube Video.

The design is from the July/August 2012 issue of JCS.  I remember thinking it was interesting when I first saw it, but I recently saw a finish of this on Hildi's Good Life.
It made made me want to stitch it immediately.

Mine is stitched on 28 ct Cashel linen in Summer Khaki I think.  I love the little petit point/over-one stitching for Paul.  The grass is in long-leg cross stitch and gives a nice textured effect.  Just a fun little design.

I finished it up as a pouch to hold my small quilting ruler for want of knowing what else to do with it.  My cutting, sewing and centering are shown up for all their wonkiness here, but the ruler fits quite nicely inside.    


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Slouchy Beehive Hat

I've been mulling over slouchy hat patterns for a long time.  It's so hard to predict what will fit, feel right and look ok.   I finally settled on the Slouchy Beehive Hat pattern I discovered on Ravelry.   Just had to wait for a break in the weather so I could get some yarn.  At long last,  I finally made a hat that basically fits.  It's a touch big, but it's supposed to be.  And I hate the vise-like grip my previous hats held on my head so I don't mind a loose fit. Started on Super-Bowl Sunday following a quick afternoon excursion to the new Joann's.  Finished on Wednesday evening.  And not much time spent on Tuesday evening at all.  I needed chunky/bulky yarn and there wasn't a big selection, but this Wool-ease chunky in Willow turned out to be a good choice.

Not much sun, so the photos aren't so great.  And I'm pretty weak in the selfie skills.  But I think you'll get the idea.  I have to go out in the cold tomorrow morning, so I'll debut it then.

A tribute to "Blurred Lines".  I'm not much for showing my face on the interwebs.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Birthday, Valentine, July Quilt Square

I guess we are all kind of mad at the ground hog this year, but  I stitched him up anyway from the Prairie Schooler "Winter Wind" leaflet #133.   Thought he would make a good companion birthday card to the February design I stitched for my brother and showed in the previous post.  Not particularly birthday-themed, but it says "Happy Birthday" inside, and the little guy was too cute not to forgive him for his prediction.  Writing this as I sit on the rain/ice line for this evening's predicted storm. 

Valentine's day is sure coming around quickly this year.  I stitched up this little "Snow Fun" piece from The Floss Box for the occasion.  Probably not meant to be a Valentine design, but that little heart in the hand of the snowman did the trick for me.

Both pieces were stitched on 18 ct hand-dyed Aida from Sassy's Fabbys.  I seem to have a ton of this and it's great for little cards.

Also finished a quilt square for a WOCS quilt, "Months of the Year".  This quilt filled up quickly with stitcher sign-ups, and July was one of the few months left.  Anyone remember this Country House SAL from 2007,  by Maryse?  The charts have mostly been sitting in a freebie folder on my computer waiting for the right occasion.  Doesn't that chaise lounge look inviting right about now?  Only trick part was figuring out how to do a lower case "y" that didn't go below the line.  Since this was a French pattern, and the original text was "Juillet", there was no need to leave space.  I think mine works ok.   This is stitched on 25-ct bone Lugana over two... a totally relaxing stitch.  And it just now occurs to me that I haven't stiched my name and state on this piece.  Blogging is so helpful for jogging the memory!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

February notables

February is known for many things, but in my family, the most important is my brother's birthday.  This year I decided to stitch the February design for him from the Prairie Schooler 160 leaflet that features six February motifs.  There were two Valentine's motifs so in a moment of great ambition, I decided to substitute a stitched portrait of my brother instead. I would have loved to do it in the style of Washington and Lincoln that were two of the motifs,  but I know my limitations.

The final result doesn't really look that much like my brother, but I've stared at it so long, that the image I stitched has now replaced my brother's real face in my mind.  I had to stitch in my nickname for him so that he would know it was supposed to be him.  He will protest, but I imagine George and Abe wouldn't be completely satisfied with their images either.

I had planned to do my first flat fold as a finish, but I was scared I'd mess it up.  Better wait to practice that later.  So it's more like a 6" pinkeep.  Found a cute stand at A.C. Moore so it's easily displayed.  This is done on 32 count Lugana with a purchased braid trim.

And now for the process.  I settled on trying a simple back stitch style profile.  My backup plan was just to stitch his initials, but I really wanted this to work.  I planned to start with a profile head shot of my brother as a guide.  Unfortunately that didn't exist.  But no worries.. my brother is often mistaken for Larry David and a Google image search turned up tons of possible model photos.  I picked out one that most resembled my brother and was ready to start.  This is the starting photo:

I used MS-Paint to re-size and highlight the outline of the parts I wanted to stitch:
Next, I found several sites that would 'cartoonize'  a photo online.  All free and none required installing any software.  They all use slightly different algorithms to create the cartoon, so I tried several and picked the one I thought would work best.  Silly me has now forgotten which site I used, but I think it was

My brother doesn't look exactly like Larry David and I needed to fit this image into the existing motif space, so back to MS-Paint for a little morphing:

Next, I printed it out and traced the outline on tracing paper.  I then laid the tracing paper on graph paper printed with a grid size of 16 squares per inch and Voilà!  I was ready to go.  Alas, that nose and jawline eluded me. At least it's done and well before his birthday.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last of 2013 Stitching

Last minute gifts and cloudy days didn't make for great photos.  But I think the gifts were appreciated by the recipients.  Using my new found mounted felt ornament skills, I stitched up Snowy Pines by Little House Needleworks.  I like that this can still be displayed during the winter months since its theme is not holiday specifically. I've wanted to stitch this for a long time, mostly because of that cute bear and his French knot nose!  The fabric is 36 ct Summer Khaki Edinburgh linen.

The UK Cross Stitcher magazine had a set of designs for cute robins that just stole my heart.  I thought I was tired of that sketchy back stitch style of design, but this was just too adorable to pass up.  This one made a great last minute card and I'm sure I'll stitch the others at some point as well.  This is stitched on a scrap of Vikki HDF linen.

And finally, this is a New Year's thank you gift for a friend.  The design is Day 8 of The Little Stitcher's 12 Days of Christmas for 2013.  That little girl, all dressed up, holding a muff in one hand and the final arm of the snowman in the other, is just the sweetest thing.  And these primitive designs are so quick to stitch up.  Again, this is stitched on Summer Khaki Edinburgh linen. 

I used this to make a 'winter survival kit' with hand salve, lip butter, a nail clipper, and the all-important Starbucks gift card.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2014 ahead!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Ornament

Haven't done a lot of stitching lately.  I guess there hasn't been enough of interest for me on TV and my stitching is always done while watching.  Or maybe I just need one of those periodic breaks from crafting and have preferred reading in my free time.  Anyway, I did stitch this pretty winter tree, "Arbre d'Hiver", from Jardin Privé, one the four seasonal tree freebies you can get here.  It's stitched on 32 count bone evenweave with DMC threads.  I don't think I even changed one color.  Just back-stitched the snowman since he seemed to be lost in the background without it.  

Vonna has been showing so many mounted felt ornaments lately that I thought I'd give that method a try.  I took her tutorial as a starting point.  She does everything so precisely, and I never do that, but  I more or less followed her lead.  I discussed some details with her about gluing and materials.  I thought the craft glue might bleed through the felt, but it didn't, so that part worked well.  I just used synthetic felt, but it was thicker than most of what I see these days.  I think it might have come from a fabric store rather than a big box craft store.  I now wish I had a zig-zag rotary blade for the edges.  The pinking shears work ok, but much more difficult to get a nice edge.  The stitching is stretched over comic book cardboard with a layer of batting to give a little depth.  I'm reasonably happy with this and I think it will make a nice little gift.  And it's suitable for display all winter since there is no particular holiday flavor to it.

I also make a couple of self-closing gift enclosure cards.  And they stand up for display as well.  The first is one of Daffy Cat's freebies from 2008, Jingle Bell Reindeer.  No beads, just French knots for the 'necklace'.

The second is from the 2013 JCS ornament issue, "Peace Bird", by Rosewood Manor.

Here's a photo of how it works to stand it up.  The bottom folds up and I'll use a sticky seal to close.