Monday, December 31, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new...

Hello blogging buddies!  I guess this is my last post for 2012.  So let's raise a glass (of tea of course!) to the New Year, shaking off the things of the past and making way for the things of the future!

As I type, there are fireworks going off in the neighborhood and it's not even 9:00 yet!  I guess there are others as anxious for the New Year to start as I am!

I had one last finish a few days ago for 2012.  I started 31 new projects in January of this year, hoping to finish them all before today.  I am pleased to report that I have finished 16 of the 31, though I am disappointed I wasn't able to finish them all.  So my hope is that I'll be able to finish the other 15 along with three others that I have started or plan to start next year.   Wish me luck!  I also finished a few smaller pieces that were not listed on the sidebar.  They were for friends or family and are probably pictured somewhere on my blog this past year.

I've received a few gifts from my fellow stitchers!  First off is from my pal Sonya.  We were able to get together for  a stitch day  a couple of weeks back and exchanged our gifts.  She knows how much I love Nativities and gave me a blown glass set of ornaments for the tree and a book with Nativity stories.  I love them, thank you so much!!

And here is the ornament I gave Sonya.

Next is from my pal Astrid.  She gave me a few stitched mitten ornaments for the tree and a very special angel pin (sorry no picture at this time but hopefully on the next post).  I hadn't finished my gift for her and will share a picture after I've given her her gift.  I love the little mittens that she made and they will find a special place on our tree from now on along with Sonya's Nativity!

And here is my gift from Mouse!  She is an amazing stitcher as well as seamstress and I love the bourse she made for me.   She sent along some hand dyed fabric from Sparklies called Purpleberry Spludge and some hand overdyed floss from Threadworx.   What an awesome gift!  I can't wait to find something to stitch on the purple fabric.  Now how did she know that purple was my favorite color?

My family and I took a special trip with a couple that we've just gotten to know over the past two years.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer a month or two before me and she and her husband have become dear friends.  We decided to do something special this year and traveled into Baltimore to visit 34th street.  It has been a tradition to decorate the houses on a certain block every year for the past 65 years.  They even have a website!   Afterwards we visited the Hon Cafe for a bite to eat.  It was a very pleasant evening and a very special memory for my family.

 My favorite gift this year was a complete surprise from my husband.  I'm still a little shocked that he even paid attention to what I was saying one day while shopping at a bead store.  Astrid had given me a bracelet that I can add beads to, and as I was looking one day with DH I mentioned that I wanted to choose the charms carefully as I wanted them to represent meaningful events in our lives.  I had forgotten the conversation until I opened this gift on Christmas day.  I don't know if you can read what is written on the paper, but he bought several charms and explained what each one meant on the paper.  In every marriage there will be ups and downs and we've had our share of both.  He chose charms that represented moments in our lives that have special meaning to both of us.  I'm still tearing up as I write this thinking of how much thought he put into this gift.  It may seem like silly charms, but it means the world to me as it shows me that those events meant as much to him as they did to me.  I am SO in love with that man!!

And what did I give him?  A Moo Mixer...LOL  It seems like such a silly thing in comparison.  He liked it though!  

On Christmas day I started a big project I hope to finish in 2013.  This is called Winter's Majesty and is a kit from Maia.  I have admired this piece for many years, hesitating to buy it because it was so expensive.  I found a fabulous price on it and DH gifted it to me for my birthday.  I am having a hard time putting it down.  Here is a little corner that I have started.

Today I started Friendship Blooms by Blue Ribbon Designs and is a SAL with Mouse.  We have decided to stitch this piece on Tuesdays during next year.  Mouse sent this to me for my Birthday and we agreed then we would make it a SAL this year.  I'm stitching it on 40 ct. Exemplar linen over two threads using the recommended WDW threads.  I love how it's coming out so far!  I'm so excited to be working on this with Mouse!

The third project I hope to start this year is London by Thea Gouverneur.  I've been waiting to start this because I need a floor frame because of the size of it.  If/when I start, I'll post a picture.  I still have to find a floor frame...any suggestions?  It's a rather large piece.

It's been a year of ups and downs for my family, mostly ups for which I am so very thankful!  I hope all our stitching wishes come to fruition this year and my prayer for you and your families is for peace, prosperity, and good health in the coming New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Hi there!  Thanks for stopping by!  I have to admit, with the holidays getting closer, things here are beginning to get a bit busy!  I'm sure you understand, with Christmas parties, shopping, concerts and other doings, it sure gets busy at this time of year.  I have to admit, I seem to be handling things a wee bit better this year, getting my decorations out (slowly but surely), getting my shopping done (there is only one more thing on my list!), wrapping and other "busy"ness.  I have a few pictures to show you of what I've been doing lately...

First let me show you that I've finished my Quaker Harmony by My Big Toe.  Thanks to a few comments left a few posts ago I decided to make a trek to my LNS to get the recommended Weeks Dye Works color they suggested.  I was being lazy and thinking I could use the DMC substitute, but I honestly didn't like the color choice.  I'm very thankful that I did.  I love it so much more!!  What do you think?

I've been working on another Christmas gift.  I found this yarn at Hobby Lobby.  I wish the picture did it justice.  There is so much sparkle in this yarn, but it just doesn't show up no matter how hard I try to photograph it.  I'm sorry for the blurriness but the sparkles only show up without the flash on and I just can't hold the camera still enough.  It is the softest yarn, I hope the recipient loves it as much as I did crocheting it for her.

I have given Astrid her ornament for this year.  I thought you might like to see what I gave her.  She has been my stitching buddy for a while now, I'm so glad to have her in my life.  She has been a grand example of a true Christian lady and I've learned so much from having known her.  She is one of the most generous people and so thoughtful of others and I count her as a blessing in my life.  

I've had some time to actually get some decorations up in my house.  We have always had a star at the top of our tree.  This year my dear husband informed me that he has always hated that star.  It only took him 28 years to tell me this...LOL  So....we were in Michael's the other day and I found angel tree toppers.  They were just so beautiful, and we looked for quite some time before we agreed on the color of the dress, the color of the angel's hair and the expression on her face.  I thought she was gorgeous!  It will seem pretty weird not to have a lit Christmas star on the tree, but what a grand addition she makes.  Again, pictures just don't do her justice.  And hopefully we'll have ornaments on the tree before too long.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I have been collecting nativities for many years now.  They are from all over, and I'm pretty particular which ones I collect.  These are only a few pictures, I keep some up all year, and rotate them now and then.  I wish I had my Korean nativity out to show you, maybe in a later post...but here are some of my favorites...

This one was hand carved and painted and came from Germany...

This one is made from Olive wood from the Holy Land, and was given to me last year from Astrid...told you she was thoughtful!  It is the only one I have made from Olive wood.

This is a Thomas Kincade nativity, we collected in pieces for an entire year, and was a Christmas present from my husband one year.

This is a needlepoint cube I made depicting the nativity a couple of years ago...stitched and finished by myself.  It was my first...well my only finish...of a needlepoint piece.  I just love this!!

This is a miniature nativity, the pieces are very tiny and made of metal.  There are palm trees and other fun elements to this one, but I'm only showing the Holy family at the moment.

This was a gift from my husband last year, from Willow Tree.  I can't decide what I like more, the ornate ones, or the more humble looking pieces.  I just love them all!!

Last is a piece that I stitched many years ago.  I learned some interesting stitches while working on this one, and it took a very long time to stitch.  There are a lot of specialty threads in it and I could sit and stare at this for ages.  I took pictures of a few of the areas just to show you how much work was involved.

Now, I've heard that some people are having issues with blogspot.  I've been requested to give directions on how to compress pictures so I thought I would add them here for whoever wants them.  If you have microsoft office, I use that to open my pictures.  At the top there is a title called "edit pictures".  Click on that and a menu will appear on the side.  Under the heading "Change picture size" there are the words "compress pictures".  Click on that and another menu will appear.  I compress mine to web pages.  Click in the circle, then click OK at the bottom.  Your picture will appear smaller.  I then click on "file" at the top, then "save as" and give it a name and a place to live in my computer. are finished!  I don't know if this is the problem blogspot was having, but I have never had any problem uploading pictures (touch wood).  I hope this explains it well enough so you can try it at home.  Good luck!

And now I leave you with a silly picture of my crazy cat who likes to sleep in his crate.  We've added a pillow for his comfort, and when the weather turns chilly he sleeps in here, must be warmer somehow.  If only I could sleep that well!  See you all later!  *Hugs*

Friday, November 30, 2012

An exercise in frustration...

Hi everyone!  I thought long and hard about posting this today.  You see, it seems everything I touch lately has been an exercise in frustration.  Between frogging and running out of materials, I've been a frustrated crafter.  Not to mention, I've been super busy with the holidays bearing down on us, so even when I can stitch/crochet, I run out of materials in the middle of my efforts and don't have time to run out for more.  Thankfully yesterday I was finally able to get some errands run and pick up some stuff.  Before I get back to stitching/crocheting, here are some pictures of what I've been up do.

I asked in my last post about what color to use for the flower basket in the middle of the circle in Quaker Harmony.  Thank you so much to those of you who responded, it's so nice to get a second opinion.  Most of you said I should use a lighter I finally bit the bullet (as I didn't like the color of the DMC substitute) and ran to my LNS for the recommended color.  I haven't had time to stitch just yet, but wanted to show you that I have stitched all the rest.  I don't think it will take me much longer to finish it, just have to find a chunk of that will happen any time soon.

Since I couldn't stitch or crochet I turned to another one of my crazies.  This one is coming along nicely, but now I've made it to the tree.  That's a HUGE chunck of stitching so we'll have to see how that goes now that it's started.  I love this pattern and really can't wait to see how it finishes off.  I'll keep you posted!

As many of you know, I've been crocheting a bit more lately.  I have been trying different weights of yarn/cotton and as I practice, I'm happy that my work has gotten more consistent.  I love how this new scarf is turning out.  Lavender is my favorite color, and this scarf will be light enough to wear any time of year.  It's made with crochet cotton (very difficult for me to work with right now, but I'm hooked...pun intended...and can't wait to see how this will finish out).  

I also found this lovely yarn and bought one skein, then came home to see what pattern I could find to make something with it.  It was working up so perfectly...the stripes falling in line so wonderfully, and I got halfway done...and you guessed it...ran out of yarn.  Back to the store I trudged to find that the skein I had bought was the LAST one of that color.  *sigh*  But...there are benefits in living in a metropolitan area.  There was another Hobby Lobby within driving distance, so off I drove.  Happily I found the same color, unhappily it was one digit off from the dye-lot.  *heavier sigh*  The colors seemed close enough so I's only for me, I'll see what happens.  I discovered when I got home, that though the color is off a teeny weeny bit, it doesn't seem to clash with what I had already done!  Yippee!!  When I asked my son where I had switched yarn, he picked an area that was in the middle of the original skein of yarn...and since he has a pretty good eye for color I decided I have nothing to worry about.  Here is a picture of my progress so far, I'm nearly done.  It's going to be a long one, but then I can wrap it around my neck like I used to.  It will really bring some bling to my ordinarily dull winter coats!  

Astrid invited my guys and myself to a football game last night.  What fun!!  The football team of the school her boys attend made it to the state finals, so off we all went to M&T Bank stadium to watch the final game.  The team was undefeated all season, and they won again last night.  What an exciting game, as they were behind in the first half, but came back with a vengeance and won in the final half.  It was definitely a nail biter!!  Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but I know Astrid and her hubby were clicking away so maybe if you check her blog, she'll have pictures up.

I will admit that I don't have a clue what is going on on the field, all I see are men in tight pants tossing a ball and making pig piles to try and stop it's advance down the field.  I did learn a few more nuances of the game last night, but it's still pretty much a mystery to me.  I guess if I'm going to hang with Astrid's family I better learn more about the game.  LOL  It seems if you plan to live in Maryland, you need to love boating and football...neither of which really appeal to me.  I love me some baseball, and hockey I can tolerate.  I'm definitely not a native!  Oh how I miss the crazy people of my  native Northern NY.

I've made a few ornaments for some people.  I have sent out Mouse's and she has already seen hers so I'll post a picture here.  I'm laughing to myself, as I try to make things for people that suit their personalities, and I thought this looked so "old world" and "British" so thought it would be perfect for Mouse.  The others who have seen it love it so much that I'm not sure they will like the ones I've made for them...I don't know if I should remake theirs or what I should do...*sigh*  Well, hopefully the others will know that I stitched them with love and with them specifically in mind and will love theirs just as much.  We'll see.  Anyway, here's a peek at Mouse's.

Off to see if I can actually finish something today and I finally have all the materials I need.  Wish me luck!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

So much to be thankful for...

Hi there!!  So sorry to have been absent for so long.  Life keeps getting in the way...I hope you and your loved ones had a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful for the Lord's provisions...a loving family, a caring church family, for fast and abiding friends, for food and shelter, for His abiding Word, Grace, and Love. Praying you all receive His blessings today and every day!

It has been a whirlwind here, and I am still not back to work.  I can't imagine how I found the time and energy to do all that I did in the past while working full time, or maybe all the things that have happened in the past few years have aged me that much...LOL  Don't tell my husband I said that or he will never let me live it down!!!

It took me over a month, but I was finally able to connect with my buddy, Sonya, and she took me to a great Irish restaurant, Brian Boru, for my birthday lunch.  That would have been enough, but look what else she had for me...

Isn't it the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen?  She knows I love violets, and the cup is an antique with such an unusual shape...just like me!!  LOL  It's perfect, Sonya, I love it so much and love you even more!!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I wanted to make something very special for her special birthday last year and looked for months for the perfect teacup, then stitched a swan for a pincushion for the top.  You can find a picture here. 

I did do something this year that I have never done before and vowed I would never do.  I went out shopping on Black Friday.  I have to say, I could joke around with the employees at different places and hoped I made their day a little more pleasant, however there was one store I was in that someone in line was very sarcastic, and my husband shot her a short, sarcastic comment of his own.  It takes a lot to get under hubby's skin, and he rarely lets his temper show.  I was glad we were nearly on our way out of the store.  LOL  I must admit that we did find some pretty awesome bargains and with what we saved probably got a few things for free!  I love shopping for people and this year, since I haven't worked much, funds are a little short.  Hubby has decided to pull in the reigns and try to keep  my spending in control.  He's doing a great job!  

So...I have had some issues with my hand and have had to slow down a bit in the arts and crafts department.  I did finish up a couple of scarves for Christmas gifts and they are on their way to the post office as I type.  It's ok if I put them on my blog since people know what they are getting.  Here are a couple of pictures.  I have to admit, that using a different hook and type of yarn makes a huge difference in the size of things.  You can see when I put the grey and pink scarves together that though they were the exact same pattern, they are very different in size.  Whew knew?  I love making this scarf, it takes only one skein of yarn and I can make one in a couple of hours.  

I love the yarn from the grey scarf....I tried to take a closeup so you could see the sequins embedded in the yarn.  I thought it might be scratchy on my neck, but it truly is soft and cozy!!  So I'll be warm and sparkly..LOL

 I had never made a cowl scarf before, and this one was a lot of fun.  However my guage was off, I think it should have been a wee bit longer, but it sure is warm!!  I wish you could feel how soft the yarn was!!

I haven't had much time to stitch, and just when I think I might get a few minutes, something always pops up.  I will admit, I am getting very tiredI miss the energy I used to have.  I'm glad my hubby talked me into not going back to work for a while longer.  I'm hoping I can get my strength back one day, but for now it's good to scale things back.  I have had a little time, and here is my progress on Quaker Harmony from My Big Toe.  I have reached an impasse though...I started stitching a flower basket in the center of the circle but found I was a few stitches off.  While I was stitching, I kept thinking how much I didn't like the color (I wish I had taken a picture before I frogged it all) and found another color to substitute.  Now I'm still debating, which color do you like better?  The darker or the lighter?  I could really use your opinion, would you mind leaving me a comment?  I may even choose a third color, but would like any input you have.  The lighter color is supposed to be Williamsburg Red, but I was substituting a DMC color 3721.  The darker color is Bing Cherry from Crescent Colours.  Any suggestions?  Thanks so much for your help.

And on that note, I'll bid you a good afternoon.  Hope you are enjoying your weekend and are spending some quality time with your family.  I'm thinking about all those ladies who are at Harrogate this weekend, and wishing I could be there with them.  What fun they must be having!!  Can't wait to see your stash enhancement photos!!  *Hugs*