Here, there and everywhere

 Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things have been pretty crazy around here since I last posted.  Getting ready for the holidays seems to steal all my free time for things like blogging, but I don’t really mind….


I had to work for a few days in December but once that was done, I chained myself to the stove and churned out a *ton* of baking.  This year I made 4 loaves of buttermilk bread, 4 loaves of multigrain bread, 4 cranberry-orange loaves, 4 banana-berry loaves, 3 batches of peppermint fudge, 3 batches of chocolate-orange fudge, 3 batches of butterscotch fudge, 2 batches of cookies ‘n creme fudge, 4 batches of Pecan Tassies and two batches of raspberry-almond squares…..I walked into the kitchen on Dec. 17th and left on the 24th.  Then just to add to the fun, I made 4 dozen buttermilk parsley rolls for Boxing Day (I made those on Christmas Day).  I love to bake, but I think I’m done for a bit.


I think Santa saw just how much I was baking though and he took pity on me this year so that next year it’ll be easier.  Look what he brought me:




The Kitchenaid mixer I’ve been lusting over for years!  It’s the Artisan too.  (If you look down to my post from Nov. 20th, you’ll notice that this is the exact mixer I was wishing for!  Santa reads blogs!  Open-mouthed ).  I admit to going back into the kitchen yesterday – I made bread using my new machine.  I’m not sure how I lived without it before now.  I think I’ll make a traditional gingerbread today with it.  Yum!


Santa had some fun with me too – he brought me something else that I’ll play with once in a while:



And inside it:



A DS Lite.  Now I need to buy some games for it.  I always have fun playing with my kids DS’, so I guess Santa thought it was time I had my own.  I like the green.  It’s very fresh.


I did manage to squeeze in some stitching in the last while too.  I finally got around to finishing Live Fully from Dragon Dreams (thanks to the purchase of the extra GAST Blue Jay I needed):



Live Fully Sampler

By Dragon Dreams

Class from 2010 CreativFestival

Stitched on 28-count Toasted Almond

with provided fibres ( GAST, DMC, Mill Hill Beads)

And I cranked out another ornament.  I didn’t expect to squeeze in one before the end of the year, but it was an easy freebie that I found on-line.  I’m going to call it my December ornament-of-the-month as I haven’t had time to dig into my kitted stash of ornies.  I’ll dig into that pile starting in January….




Merry Christmas

By Log Cabin Needlework’s

Stitched on 28-count Cashel (colour unknown)

With Vikki Clayton Dragon Heart, DMC 319, RG PB02 and red beads from Gecko Beads


I didn’t follow the colour key at all for this piece, except for using DMC 319.  I’m really happy with how this piece turned out.  It looks better IRL.  The  skies are overcast and a bit dreary here today, so I’m working with what light I can get.


I keep hearing/reading about the Crazy January Challenge – basically the goal is to start one new project every day for the first 15 days of January.  And then finish those 15 projects before the end of the year.  It’s an interesting thought, but I’m not going to participate.  I think what I’ll do instead is haul out 15 of my WIPs (I’m sure there are 15 of them around here if I just dig enough – between class pieces and stuff I’ve had sitting in a pile…) and aim to work on those this year instead.  I’ve also got my  personal ornament-of-the-month club and I just joined a needlepoint ornament-of-the-month club as well over at Nuts about Needlepoint.  The price is excellent value for the money too (add $1 per ornament for Canadian shipping).  (And if you sign up before Dec. 31st, you get a bonus pattern at the end of the year!) . 


I think that’s enough for one year.  I’ve still got one model to finish as well.  My other model that I’ve been working on *forever* is finished except for one small part where I’ve run out of fibres (I only noticed I forgotten to stitch this one little part as I was going through making the chart corrections!)…  So, once the fibres arrive I can polish it off and get back to the other model.  I think 2011 will be a busy year if I can do it all.  Then again, I’ve got a pile of time on my hands now that I’ve been pushed out of one of the things I was involved with last year so maybe all that stitching will happen.  Time will tell, I guess.


Since this likely will be my last post of 2010, I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to everyone who reads this blog and has posted comments.  I really appreciate all the kind words and complements.  I do read tons of blogs, but I’m a dreadful commenter.  That needs to be another goal to work on next year!


I wish you and yours a Happy New Year and may 2011 be filled with people, places and things you love!


A Finishing Weekend

 Monday, December 06, 2010

I’m not quite sure how we managed it, but we wrangled an entire weekend at home this past weekend.  Usually this time of year it just doesn’t happen and DH and I were both a bit shocked to look at the calendar and see it devoid of things to do.


Not wanting to waste a golden opportunity, I spent the weekend doing a pile of things – working on our Christmas cards (not quite finished, but they’re well underway!), planning some of the holiday baking that I’ll be doing and finishing a whole pile of ornaments….


I figured out how to get my laptop to play DVDs on it (it’s from the dark ages of time and the DVD player works with a little nudging) and I loaded up Season 1 of the Tudors (that truly appears to only be loosely based on historical fact but is entertaining anyway!) and spent a good number of hours at my finishing table.  I managed to take 10 ornaments and one scissor fob from bits of fabric into these things:


DSC05507 DSC05509 DSC05508 DSC05511 DSC05512 DSC05513 DSC05514 DSC05515 DSC05516



and one scissor fob (front and back):


DSC05519 DSC05520


Many of the ornaments will be off to other homes shortly, and some are going to live with me for a change.  I had a highly enjoyable weekend playing with my sewing machine, cording drill, fabrics and fibres.  And it’s nice to see so many items no longer languishing in a corner – a good number of them have been sewn and stuffed for ages – I just needed to get the cording made and attached.  Sometimes I can procrastinate to the point that it’s just dumb….Embarrassed


Now I need to get ready for DS#2’s birthday on Thursday and then I’ll be able to put up all the Christmas decorations.  It’s finally snowing here today (our first bit of snow that has actually stuck to the ground) and it’s made me come over all Christmas-y!


How to make cording with an Electric Corder

 Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When I was down at Stitching Jubilee this past October, I got introduced to the neatest, handiest tool for making cording:




I have one of the cording drill things from Kreinik and it works really well.  However, I personally have always struggled to make a cord with more than 2 colours with it and I was always rounding up volunteers (a.k.a. my kids) to help me make cords.  They don’t mind, but there are times when they’re not around  (darn it all, they do have to go to school!)….


I’ve had a few requests from people about how to use this handy-dandy tool, so since I was working at finishing some ornaments today, I thought I’d take some time to photograph the process.  It’s a wet and dreary day here and the forecast isn’t any better for the next week, so we’ll all just have to deal with the dark photos.  I did my best…..


I wanted to make a cord with 3 colours in it.  So, the first thing I did, was cut bundles of the 3 colours of fibre I wanted.  If you’re curious, I’m using crochet cotton for my cording.  It’s cheap and comes in great colours.  So, here are my three bundles of cotton:



I have one bundle of green, one bundle of red and one bundle of gold cotton.  If you’re wondering how long I cut my fibres, I cut each length to be 3 times the perimeter of my ornament.  Once my lengths were cut, I tied a knot in one end of each bundle:



I prefer to trim the ends after the knot as it looks neater.  It’s my anal-retentive side showing.  I trimmed the gold bundle end right after I took this photo. 


Now I grabbed the other end of each bundle, put them all together into one big bundle and tied a big honkin’ knot:



Again, my anal-retentive side demands that the loose end be trimmed neatly.  it’s not a requirement though.


I’m ready to hook my fibre bundles up to the corder!  The corder has these fabulous little hooks on each of its spokes and you just push the hook upwards to reveal the hook, loop the fibre onto the hook and you’re ready to rock ‘n roll….




Here are all three fibre bundles all hooked up and ready to spin…..



Now here’s the part where you either need really long arms or an accomplice or a cup hook.  I went with an accomplice today (DS#2) since he wasn’t busy.  He held the electric corder while I held the other end of the fibre bundles (the end with the big honkin’ knot).  We were aiming to have the lengths of cording held fairly taut.  At my end, I put my fingers in between the three fibres to keep them separate:



Sorry there’s no picture of the two of us working together, but with only two of us working on this project, we didn’t have a third available to take a picture of us.


Now we’re ready to get spinning!  The electric corder has a switch that slides in two directions – forwards is 1, backwards is 2.  To start making the cording, DS#2 pushed the button forwards to 1 and off things went.  After a minute or less, the three cords started looking like this:



Note that I continued to hold my fingers in between the three bundles because I find they tend to tangle a bit if I don’t hold them separate. 


They’re twisting up nicely and even kinking a bit.  They might be a little bit over-twisted in this picture, but I find with this tool it doesn’t cause problems like I’ve had with the Kreinik corder when I’ve used it.


So, now what?  Well since things have twisted nicely, I told my DS#2 to slide the switch on the corder backwards to the ‘2’ position.  In just a few seconds, we had this:



A perfect, even 3 colour cord!  After I finish the cord, I unhook the 3 bundles from the corder and tie another big honkin’ knot in that end to keep everything together.


If my cord is small enough, I can do the whole operation by myself.  This particular cord was just long enough to make it easier to do with DS#2.


Here’s a picture of the finished cord:



It’s the most even cord I’ve ever made.  I always tend to have trouble getting my cord to be consistent from one end to the other.  I often end up cutting off a couple of inches off each end because it looks awful.  I no longer have that problem.  Isn’t it fun?


More Ornaments?

 Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last night I decided to take the night off from the model (it’s *this* close to being finished) and I dug into my pile ‘o stash and came up with two ornaments that I felt like stitching.  These aren’t part of my ornament club – they’re just other patterns that were sitting around….


What amazed me is that in just a few hours, I actually managed to finish both of them.  That just never happens to me.  One of them is even finish-finished and ready to hang on the tree.


So, first up:



2010 Poinsettia Quilt

by Scandinavian Stitches

Stitched on 32-count Lugana

with Vaupei & Heilenbeck Flower Thread


I originally had no intention of stitching this ornament.  But, when I went to Stitching Jubilee, Scandinavian Stitches was selling the heart frame, ribbon, fabric and floss as a kit.  The price wasn’t too bad and I thought why not?  It was definitely one of the fastest stitches I’ve done.  I think it took me about 2 hours (with interruptions) to stitch it and mount it in its frame.


Next up, while reading Katrina’s blog, she showed a great Christmas freebie that she had stitched up.  For some reason it really attracted me, so I hiked over to Threadwork Primitives myself, printed off the pattern, put floss and fabric together and before you could say ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’, it was done!



Christmas Freebie

by Threadwork Primitves

Stitched on 28-count mystery linen

with Vikki Clayton Dragon Heart and DMC 986


I’m really pleased with how this turned out.  It looks really pretty.  Somehow I envision this as a rectangular little pillow….  I’ll have to rummage around the fabric bins and find the right fabric for it.


I’ve got to go get some Scientist stuff done today.  And I need to find a flounder.  Yes, a real flounder.  With all his scales and everything.  Yes, it’s for work.  Yes, I do have the world’s strangest job.  Why do you ask?  :-)


Fun and Games….

 Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanks for all the well wishes about my recent funk that I’ve been in.  I’m still in it, but have determined that I’m not going to inflict my bad mood upon others.  I’m sure I’ll pull out of this eventually.


In the meantime, I found this little Q&A over at Caring Stitcher who got it via Stitchitandie and apparently I’ve caught it too…..


1. What are you stitching at the moment?


Primarily, I’m working on a model as it’s long overdue to be finished.  I’m closing in on the end of it now, although I’ve got to decide whether or not I should frog a piece of it and re-do it differently, so I might be further from a finish than I thought….


2. How many finishes have you had this year? Small? Medium? Large? Extra Large?

Sad as it is, I actually had to go look – I don’t really keep track of things like that but I really should.  I discovered (much to my surprise) that I finished 11 small things (mostly ornaments) and 4 medium things.  I had no big finishes this year, but that’s okay – models have stolen some of the time I would normally spend on the large pieces.


3. Do you think you will finish any more in the next month and a half before the end of the year?


The only things I see myself finishing between now and the end of the year is the model I’m currently working on and another ornament.  But you never know!


4. If you could buy 1 thing for yourself what would it be? (Doesn't have to be stitching)


This time of year always leaves me lusting after a Kitchenaid Artisan mixer.  Once I start planning out what I’ll bake for the holidays, I seem to start lusting for a new mixer.  Mine works okay, but doesn’t have the ability to make a meringue well.  Never mind all the other things I’d use a mixer for.

5. What is the best thing you have ever stitched?


The best thing?  That’s a hard question – because there are so many fabulous things that I’ve stitched.  Celtic Christmas rates high on my list – in part because it was a beautiful thing to stitch and because my MIL loves it so much that she leaves it up year round.  A big part of her house tour is showing it off.  Dragon’s Tea Party is also pretty high on my list as my SIL has it hanging in her daughter’s room and chose all the decor for my niece’s room based on the piece…..  And those are just a few that I can think of right now…  There are so many!

6. Do you like making lists?


Sometimes.  I can’t imagine going to the grocery store without one – there are too many things I’d forget!  And I use lists for my job as well or I’d forget something at home that I needed for my program (heaven forbid should I forget the octopus!)…. 

7. Do you stitch in rotation (how does it work?) or OAAT?


I think I lean more towards being an OAAT stitcher, although if I’m working on one project and a second thing pops up that grabs my attention, I’m not loyal to the first project.  I do always go back to the first project, but it might get interrupted for a while until I get the second thing done.

8. What is the next thing you plan to stitch?


I have another model that is in progress, so I’ll go back to that.  CdC is begging for some time and attention, so I will get back to work on that soon too.  I miss that piece.

9. What is your fave ONS? And why?


I’d have to say Stitching Bits and Bobs.  It seems like whenever I want something, it’s on sale over there and I’ve never had issues with customs when getting things from SBB.  They always seem to be pretty darn fast as well.  I’m very happy with the service I get there.

10. Do you have a stitching chair?


Welllllll……I kinda have a whole couch.  My floor stand and light are at one end of it and I sit at that end when I’m working.  I find that when I’m working on a model I tend to spread out all over the couch though as I usually have pieces of pattern all over the place, plus a notebook plus pens and highlighters for noting changes or errors.  Plus there’s the obligatory cat or two as well.

11. Do your children/pets get into your stitching things?


One of my cats loves to swat at my floss while I’m stitching while the other one will ignore it completely.  My kids used to get into my stitching things when they were smaller, but not very often.  But now that they’re 14 and almost 11, I don’t have to worry about them getting into my stuff.

12. Do you participate in any stitching forums?

I read The Wagon and the TWBB mostly.  I do pop into Needle and Thread, Rotation Stitchers BB and the Worldwide RR boards once in a while. 


So, who else is going to answer the questions?  Hmmm?  C’mon and play!


I think it’s a disease…..

 Saturday, November 13, 2010

It’s rather amazing how if you get completely shaken up and uprooted in one area of your life (particularly when it is completely unexpected and through no fault of your own…), it shakes something loose in other areas…..


I’ve had a bad case of finish-itis:


DSC05408Happy Halloween

Whispered by the Wind Freebie

Stitched on mystery 28-count linen

with DMC and GAST


The pattern originally called for CC Forest Fire and Dark Shadows but since I had neither on hand, I subbed GAST Burnt Orange and Raven, respectively.  I started this piece over a year ago, but then stopped at the spiderwebs at the bottom.  Can’t for the life of me figure out why I stopped there….  I was looking for my threads for one of the models as I had misplaced them and this project revealed itself from my WIP pile.  Once I realized how little was left to finish it, I decided to polish it off.  I really like this piece.  I think it’ll become a flat-fold at some point.


My personal ornament-of-the-month club got a good kick-off when I found *another* project that I had started shortly after the JCS ornie preview issue came out and then tucked away somewhere….



‘Tis Green

La D Da

JCS Christmas Ornament Preview Issue

Stitched on 32-count Waterlily Linen from Wichelt

with a random Vikki Clayton Silk (unnamed)


This was such a fast and easy stitch.  The Vikki Clayton Silk was one I got in a random pack of silks that I bought a couple of years ago – it has no name, but it’s the prettiest green and looks really fabulous on the Waterlily linen (I’m not a fan of Wichelt linens, but this was in my stash and was the perfect colour!)….


While at Stitching Jubilee in Lancaster, I kept seeing folks walking around wearing the coolest pin.  Upon some serious questioning of folks, I discovered that it was a kit from Rosewood Manor and that you actually got to stitch something!  Needless to say, I hiked over to Rosewood’s booth at a trot and picked up my own kit.  It’s been yelling my name since I got home so I finally gave in and stitched it up.  I don’t think it took more than a couple of hours anyway….



And a close-up of the butterfly:



Note that I had to turn the flash off to take the closeup as the case the butterfly is in kept reflecting my flash, no matter what angle I tried….  It’s stitched on silk gauze and I don’t think I would have managed it without my magnifier.  Lots and lots of fun though!  If you look carefully, you’ll see each wing has my initial in it.  (and yes, I seem to have mounted in the frame somewhat crooked-ly – I’ll fix that shortly!)


And then because I am stressed, distressed and depressed, I dug into the sewing fabric pile and produced all of these….



5 more project bags….  The new sewing machine really makes it easier to get these done.  I’m enjoying how easy it is to change threads and wind bobbins….  It’s been such a good investment and I’m so glad that this year the budget allowed for it.  I’m looking forward to finishing some ornaments with it before Christmas…..


Hopefully I’ll pull out my little funk soon – I’m lucky DH and the boys all put up with me.  I think I just need to have my personal pity party for a wee bit and then I’ll be back to my ‘normal’ self.


In the meantime, it’s doing wonders for my WIP Pile – I’ve got more time on my hands now than I’ve had in the last year!


Lest We Forget

 Thursday, November 11, 2010




In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.


A Finish Denied and Decisions Made

 Monday, November 08, 2010

I’ve been terribly misbehaved since the CreativFestival.  All I’ve been stitching is projects from the Festival.  But, the break from models has done me good and I’m looking forward to returning to the models again – especially the one that is pretty close to being finished!


I was blissfully working away on the ‘Live Fully’ sampler from Dragon Dreams that Jen taught at the Festival.  I made it to here:



It looks pretty good, right?  I really like how it’s turned out.  Sadly, I still have to complete the band at the very bottom and there’s another band between Live Fully and Love Deeply that needs finishing too.  Why didn’t I polish it off?  Well, I ran out of the blue fibre used (GAST Blue Jay)…… Seeing as it’s difficult to stitch with imaginary thread, I had to give it up for the night.  It’s a tad frustrating to run out that close to the end, but what can you do?  I have no Blue Jay in my stash (gasp!  the horror!), but I’ll remedy that soon enough – I love on-line ordering!  :-)


As for decisions that I’ve made……


For a good number of months now I’ve wanted to set up a monthly ornament club for myself.  I have so many ornament patterns floating about this house that I really wanted to stitch them.  The one thing that I find holds me back sometimes is having to find all the fibres, the fabric and the pattern and put it all together.  Basically, I can be lazy.


So, in an effort to make it simple-stupid for myself, I rounded up the patterns I want to stitch.  I did set some rules for myself this year.  Instead of working from the JCS ornie issues as I’ve done in the past, I decided that this year I was only going to stitch from purchased patterns.  There are so many that I like and I’ve yet to stitch one of them (which is truly sad).  Decisions made, I rummaged through the stash horde (I’ve surpassed having a pile of stash and graduated to a horde) and came up with these patterns:



You might notice that there’s a good number of Halloween patterns in there and that is deliberate.  I wasn’t going to limit myself to just Christmas ornies after all!  I did permit myself one freebie to toss into the mix – just cause I really like it!


I’ve figured out what fibres I need and they’ll be ordered with the GAST I need for Live Fully.  I’ve elected to not purchase any fabric for these ornies either – my fabric stash is obscenely large, so I’m forcing myself to rummage through the pile and use what I have on hand.


I think I’ll have some fun getting everything kitted.  I have gotten 5 things kitted already (okay, two were Mill Hill Kits, but I’m counting them as kitted!)…..  For the rest I just need to wait for my fibres to get here and then I can pick out my fabric.  I’ll need to make my working copies for the charts too…..


I know Silverlotus is copying borrowing using my idea too.  Anyone else care to join in?


Awesome Mail Day!

 Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I tripped my way down to the mailbox today only to find it stuffed to the gills.  And for a change, it wasn’t bills!


I was lucky enough to win Day 20 of the 31 Days of Halloween Giveaway that Missy Ann and Annette hosted over at their respective blogs.  Today my package arrived (which I swear is a record – things from the US usually take months!)….  Here’s what I received:



A gorgeously stitched pinkeep (I’m so in love with the ruched ribbon it’s scary!), a skeleton needleminder (which will shortly be adorning the current model I’m working on), a kitty threadwinder (in one of my favourite DMC colours, as luck would have it) and the best bag of candy goodies.  I’m hiding those from my DS’.  They’re all mine!  :-)


Here’s a closeup of the pinkeep front and back:


DSC05396 DSC05397

Thanks so much to Missy Ann for such a wonderful gift.  I feel so blessed today.


And the fun didn’t end there…..


Some time ago I signed up for a series of painted canvas kimonos that Janet Perry over at Nuts About Needlepoint was teaching on-line.  I admit that I’m terribly behind in the stitching of these kimonos (but I *WILL* get back to them soon), but I have been reading each lesson as it comes out.  They are so well written and easy to understand.  I can’t wait until I have time to get back to stitching them.  Today, however, the 4th canvas in the series arrived with its threadpack:



Most of the fibers are Waterlilies, Watercolours, Gloriana and GAST, but new to me will be the Soy Lustre from Pure Palette.  I love the vibrant colours in this kimono and the overdyed threads will be fun to play with…..


BUT, I’d better get back to work on the models first….


Signs of the Season….

 Sunday, October 31, 2010

As I wander my home, there are certain signs to tell me that Samhain arrives tonight….


Broom Hilda and her companion Fat Cat are roosting on the stairs…



Spiders and bats have found temporary homes dangling from the ceiling…


The local shopkeepers are open….


And the outside of the house is ready too!


First, we buried Cousin Jake and his friend, Lester Moore:


DSC05376 DSC05377

And then we found that a friend has a wee accident on the front lawn:



The pumpkin bats have returned to roost for another year (personally, I think they’re laughing at our friend….)



Pumpkins have been carved:



The results:


DSC05381  DSC05382

(On the left is a mask from Bionicle, on the right is DS#1’s answer to life, the universe and everything……)


Halloween stitching has emerged from storage:



And probably the surest sign of the season is one Callie waits for every October:



Her favourite lap.  Still no progress on getting Hazel to scratch her behind the ears though….




Happy Halloween to one and all!


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