Christmas Stitching

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Usually I stitch medium to large cross stitch projects that take quite a bit of time and concentration. Lately, however, I have been gravitating toward smaller, easier, and quicker projects. My stitching time is so limited and I want to be able to finish as many things as fast as possible. I’ve also gotten rid of a lot of projects in my WIP pile this year. The only two unfinished projects I have now are Peacock Tapestry and A Summer Ball. I would like to work on A Summer Ball sometime soon, but I don’t have plans on finishing that one for years. Instead, I would like to build up a large collection of smalls for each holiday. That is what I have decided 2022 is going to be – A Year Of Smalls. I am going to start working on Christmas and winter designs, and once I have a bunch of those done I will probably work on 4th of July and Halloween. Those are the 4 main themes I want to stitch for. If time allows I would also like to have a few designs each for St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving.

I also want to have a bunch of projects kitted up to have ready to go whenever the mood strikes. I don’t mind if I work on multiple projects at once. One of the projects I have just started is F128 HoHoHo Holiday JINGLES Flip-it by Lizzie Kate and it is adorable!

So far I only have Rudolph’s red blanket (saddle??) and part of his body stitched. But I will work on this one for quite a while before moving on.

I also plan on working on Happy Holidays by Bent Creek which I blogged about recently, although I have not yet decided on which color scheme I want to go with.

Another fun winter project is this adorable snowman, J.T. Fuzzy from Sisters and Best Friends. I have not kitted up this one yet, but assuming I have the correct 7 count Klostern fabric on hand, this one will be a really fast stitch because it is very small. I just love the carrot button nose and real scarf!

And last but not least, is a free cover kit that came with a recent issue of The World of Cross Stitching. It features robins (well, British robins!) and the words Merry Christmas, along with a wooden snowflake charm. Although it came with a card and envelope, I am going to finish it off as a small pillow or flat fold instead. I actually started this project in the waiting room at the hospital a couple of weeks ago while waiting for my husband to have a procedure done. I have not worked on it since but it will be going into the rotation.

XXX
Carrie


Decisions, decisions!

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I have been looking for several quick and easy projects to kit up so that I can always have something ready to work on when needed, especially if I need to take a project on the go (like in the car for when I’m waiting). I had this chart laying around and liked it but thought that the brown color scheme seemed all wrong for the holidays. So I picked out two pieces of fabric that I like and two skeins of Weeks Dye Works variegated floss. My plan is to stitch the design with only one color of floss, to make it easier and faster.

The tough choice is, which do I choose? I absolutely love the pink fabric with the Bethlehem floss, but the green fabric with the Noel floss is more “Christmasy”. I also have a lot of pieces of fabric like the green, whereas I only have that one piece of pink. And I only have one skein of Noel, whereas I have 4 skeins of Bethlehem. I sort of want to save the pink fabric for a design a bit more “worthy” of the fabric. But I have yet to come across anything in my stash that would work with only one skein of floss and on that small size of piece of fabric. I think I will think about this for a few days!

XXX
Carrie


Hoop Finishing Tutorial

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Today I am going to show you how I finish my cross stitched projects in an embroidery hoop.

First, gather your materials. You will need paint and a paintbrush, or a paint marker such as a Posca pen. When using paint I like to use the small bottles of acrylic craft paint and a wooden handled sponge applicator instead of an actual paintbrush. Cover your work surface.

You will also need felt that matches the color of your fabric, ribbons and other embellishments, scissors, and a hot glue gun.

Carefully paint the outer hoop only, using thin coats of paint. It is better to let the project dry and then add a second or even third coat, rather than trying to paint on one thick coat. Try not to get paint on the inside of the hoop, but be sure to paint the outside edges. You will probably need to do one side, let it dry, then do the other.

If you want to wrap a decorative ribbon around the hoop, follow the next step. If you will be painting your hoop only, you can skip this part.

Add a drop of hot glue to the top of one side of the hoop and attach your ribbon at an angle. When it is dry, cut off the edge to be flush with the hoop. Slowly wrap the ribbon around the hoop, leaving a gap so the contrasting paint color can show. Add a drop of glue on the underside of the hoop only, about every other wrap. Use only as much glue as needed to ensure a secure hold. Too much glue will be messy and bumpy.

When you get to the other end of the hoop, add a drop of glue to the end and trim off the end just like you did when you started.

Place your finished cross stitch project in the two hoops and tighten it, being sure the design is centered and the fabric is taut.

If you find it difficult to get the hoop exactly centered, as I did on this Silent Night design with a circular stitched border, lay just the top hoop on the fabric and use pins to mark the four sides. Count an equal number of stitches from the sides of the stitching and keep moving the pins, one Aida block at a time, until you have an equal number of empty stitches on all four sides, as shown below.

Cut the excess fabric away from the hoop. You want to leave just enough fabric to be able to wrap around the hoop and glue down to the inner sides of it.

Carefully fold the cross stitch fabric over the inner hoop and hold it in place with hot glue. Continue this process around the entire hoop. You want to be sure that the fabric you are folding over isn’t so big that it lays on the back of the stitched piece, to avoid a bulky finish.

Sometimes you won’t have much excess fabric at all, such as with this free cover kit that came with an issue of The World of Cross Stitching magazine. When this happens, it may be easier to trim all excess fabric off after the project is in the hoop.

Next, cut a circle of felt the same color as your cross stitch fabric and glue it around the edges of the back of the hoop. You can also add a second, slightly smaller smaller piece of felt directly to the back of the stitching, and this will help the design not be see-through if you are hanging it in a window where sunlight will shine through it. I would caution against adding glue to this piece, however. I try not to let glue ever touch my stitching, as it can yellow over time.

Once your felt is added to the back, you can add a cute label, if you wish. This label was cut from a piece of ribbon that was added with just a touch of hot glue.

Add a ribbon for a hanger and then you can add other embellishments like a bow, other ribbons, small greenery, pinecones, buttons, etc.

You can also finish off a plastic or painted wooden hoop with ric rac, as shown below. I started at the top and added a drop of hot glue, then pressed the ric rac in place. I curved the trim around the hoop and put a drop of glue every other top curve in the ric rac.

Pom Pom trim also makes a cute addition to your hoop finishing. I added it to a natural wooden frame that I did not paint, below. I used hot glue to add the trim on the outside edge of the outer hoop, making sure the pom poms were facing toward the stitched front.

What fun finishing designs can you come up with?

XXX
Carrie


Exclusive Colors are Back!

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The 2013 exclusive DMC colors which were only being offered in a special boxed set are now available for open stock!

16 colors were initially introduced and sold in the exclusive set only; they were not available for individual purchase. Of course, after designers started using these “new” colors DMC decided to discontinue them. They kept releasing the boxed set but with only a few of the new colors, and the rest were not-quite-so-similar substitutes from their normal range of floss. People were extremely disappointed when they purchased the boxed sets around 2019-2020 and found they were not the same set that was released initially. No one knows how long these will be available in open stock, though, and DMC only released 14 of the 16 colors. According to DMC’s American headquarters, these colors have been discontinued and they are selling off old stock (which might be why most of the boxes are the old blue and yellow color instead of the new blue and white). Yet according to some US distributors, these are “new” colors.

You can purchase 14 of the 16 colors at www.crossstitchers.com

XXX
Carrie


A Santa Cushion

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I decided to finish off Santa and his reindeer as a long cushion. First I picked a coordinating calico fabric and cut strips which I sewed to the sides of the design.

Then I cut off the excess fabric from the top and bottom.

Next I pressed the seams open.

I then sewed on a piece of white ric rac down the length of each strip of fabric (but I forgot to take a picture of that part…oops!)

Next I picked out a different piece of coordinating fabric and sewed that to the back, with right sides together. I left one side open for turning.

After turning the piece right side out I stuffed it with fiberfill and used a chopstick to push the stuffing into the corners.

Then I finger pressed the side seams to the inside and held them together with Wonder Clips. The next step will be to hand sew the opening closed. I probably won’t be able to do this for a few days because this week is going to be crazy with doctor visits and other appointments. I’ll post pictures of the finished result when I’m done! And in the meantime I will look for my next project.

XXX
Carrie



Trick or Treat (In November!)

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I forgot to take progress photos after completing the words Trick Or Treat, so this has been a work in progress for a while now. Working on this project has been so much fun and it was such an easy stitch for a change. I have tried taking the project into a dark room to check out the glow in the dark fabric but it is a pretty dim glow. I have no idea how long ago the fabric was made and if the glow aspect fades over time. So I am a bit disappointed with that, but if I ever want to stitch the other 3 designs in this series I wouldn’t have anything except plain white Aida to stitch them on, anyway.

My plan is to frame this in a wooden hoop that I paint either black or orange and then wrap ribbon of the opposite color around. I’m not sure if we have any of those plastic spider rings laying around the house, but it would be cute to finish it off with one of those!

This design was created by Emma Congdon and it can be found in the October 2019 issue of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine. (And while you’re reading the magazine, find mention of my mason jar tutorial on page 67!)

XXX
Carrie


Santa’s On His Way

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My newest project is a Bent Creek Zipper Kit, called Santa’s Reindeer. This is my progress for the last couple of days.

This is going to be much larger than I expected. The fabric is supposed to be 18 count, although I checked it in several places and it is definitely 20 count. But it is to be stitched over 2 threads, so I am ending up with a 10 count project. I was thinking this would be small enough to make into a small cushion to use as an ornament or decoration but I don’t think that will be the case. At any rate, I am loving this project. The counting is so easy and the pearl cotton makes this one stitch up so much faster! There is no separating of floss and because it is only one strand it is not tangling or knotting at all. There is also large areas of one color, which I love. My brain fog has been so bad lately that counting is difficult, and my hand pain makes it hard to hold onto anything, such as bowls and cups, my phone, and embroidery hoops. I love that my sit-on stand has a hoop adapter so I can stitch hands free!

XXX
Carrie



Done At Last!

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It’s finally finished! I am so glad I persevered with this project. It actually didn’t take long to finish at all, once I had my system down for doing the grass part.

The fabric color was really tricky to capture on camera. It is actually a nice green color, and neither of these photos do it justice.

Start date: Summer 2012 (I think)
Completion date: October 29, 2021

Now to start on something for Halloween, even though it won’t be finished for this year!

XXX
Carrie


A Sick Day

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Recently my daughter got sick and of course as soon as she was better I caught it. But she was only really sick for 2 days, and I am now on day 10. It started with a sore throat, sinus pain, and fatigue. Then after I got on antibiotics it turned into a cough, ear pain, and chest pain. Luckily no fever, loss of taste or smell, or other issues. But the overwhelming exhaustion is really kicking my butt. I started out in bed, then moved to the couch, and now am able to do a few things throughout the day like throwing a load of laundry in the washer and loading the dishwasher. But that’s about it. The TV has been my only companion, as I just can’t keep my eyes open enough to look at a chart or a needle.

Today I did manage to overcast the edges of two pieces of fabric on the sewing machine. I had two projects picked out before I got sick, Bent Creek’s “Santa’s Reindeer” and a Halloween design by Emma Congdon from one of the British magazines. I am not sure which magazine or which issue, but I am stitching mine from what I believe is the October 2020 issue of Вышивка крестиком, a Russian magazine. I know it was in the British magazines first, because I have the issue it was originally in somewhere. I think it was an issue of Cross Stitch Crazy, but I can’t be certain. When I wanted to stitch this design I couldn’t find the issue it was in, and the Russian version (which I subscribe to through Zinio) happened to have a clear photo of the designs on the cover.

The Bent Creek design will be (I believe) the first time I have cross stitched with pearl cotton. Why this company chooses to use pearl cotton instead of embroidery floss, I’m not sure. But it should be interesting and a pretty quick stitch, as the design is small and not many color changes. I love the addition of a peppermint button on Santa’s hat.

The Halloween design is something I have wanted to stitch for a good year now and never got around to it.

There are 4 designs but this one is my favorite. I even found the perfect piece of Aida that I didn’t even know I had in my stash… it is 14 count white but it is actually glow in the dark! I have no idea where I picked that up. It is only big enough for one design, unfortunately, but I am not sure I would ever stitch the other 3 designs anyway, as I have so many things I would love to do. I definitely can’t get this done in time for Halloween this year, but I love stitching all sorts of holiday designs all through the year. If we can have Christmas in July, why not Halloween in November?

XXX
Carrie


The Home Stretch

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I am so close to finishing this project that I started in 2012! I finally came up with a system to make the grass at the bottom not so terrible. I started with the darkest brown which is not only the easiest to see, but also has the least amount of stitches. I used a Post It to keep my place on the chart and then crossed off my stitches with a marker. I did all of this color in a huge area. Then I moved on to the medium brown, which also was easy to see and marked that off with a different colored marker. Then when that was done I started with the third and final grass color, a pale brown that is harder to see against the fabric color. I started on the right hand side and stitched only the bottom stitches. After doing a large section that way, I went back and filled in with that color up to the top, and this was so easy to do while watching TV because there was no counting involved. After doing the right side of the pattern this way, I then moved on to the middle. Now that the middle is done I am working on the left side. After this area is filled in I will only have to do some backstitching in the grass and this project will be DONE! I am determined to get this finished before the end of the year so that it does not turn into a 10 year project. 9 years just sounds so much better 🙂

XXX
Carrie




Two finishes

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I finished up the stitching on the cardinals and decided to frame it and my recent Home Sweet Home design. The Home project was already framed in a hoop that came with the kit, but I wanted to dress it up a bit. So I added pink ric rac to the front edge, and a gingham ribbon hanger.

The cardinals were even more fun. I framed them in an old wooden hoop I had laying around (it was more rustic looking than new ones) and added red pom pom trim to the edge. Then I added a blue dotted grosgrain ribbon hanger and bow. It was so warm and sunny out (for September!) and I managed to get a nice picture of it outside. That’s one thing I am usually pretty lazy about; I tend to just grab my phone and take a picture of my finished pieces wherever they are laying (see above!)

I think these both turned out so cute!

That is it for new projects, at least for a while. I need to get back to the Alice stitch a long, and I just have to finish that deer in the woods once and for all. So no new starts! But all cross stitching will probably be put on the back burner for a while. Now that school is back in session, I have to make up a batch of new masks for my kids to wear. I have already made a few for my son and although I sew them on a machine, my hands are hurting from the process of cutting the fabric, turning the masks right side out, and feeding the material through the machine. Even reading a book the other day was painful, trying to hold onto it. My grandpa had a saying, “don’t get old, it doesn’t pay”. He was so right!

XXX
Carrie



A Circular Design That Isn’t Circular…?

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I was worried that the pattern looked like it extended too far out to the right, and I thought maybe I would not have a big enough piece of fabric (this was just a scrap piece left over) or that it would not fit entirely in the hoop. I am using a 7 inch hoop to stitch the design, and it is meant to be framed in a 7 inch hoop. I always use plastic hoops to stitch with and wooden hoops to frame. After I stitched the outside border and it all came together, I didn’t have to worry after all about it being too large. But there is another problem… the design is not circular, like the model in the magazine. It is more… oblong. I’m not sure if my hoop is just bent out of shape and it will be fine when I use a sturdy wooden frame. I have noticed plastic hoops not look terribly round when they are taken off of a project. Or it could be that my fabric is not made up of entirely square Aida blocks, and this is my biggest concern. The only way to know for sure will be to take a ruler and measure out an exact number of stitches both vertically and horizontally and see if they give the same exact length in inches. If they don’t, I have no idea how I am going to make this look good when it is finished, except to either rip out the white border all around, or to rip out the stitches at the sides and re-do them closer to the edges of the hoop, to make it “look” like it is round.

I was loving this project but now I am thinking it is more of a headache than it was worth.

XXX
Carrie


Winter Cardinals

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Cardinals always remind me of my grandfather – they were his favorite. When I saw this adorable design of a male and female cardinal in one of last year’s copies of The World of Cross Stitching I knew I wanted to stitch it. After finishing up the Home Sweet Home hoop design I thought it was time to get started on this.

The fabric is navy blue 14 count Aida and even with my daylight lamp it is proving difficult. Although it is only the beginning of September, it is quickly turning dark and dreary here.

I noticed that I made a mistake somewhere in the tree branch, so I decided to skip that area of the design for now and instead concentrate on the border design. I don’t think it will make a difference in the finished design or how everything fits together, but I think it will be easier to stitch the top part of the design first and then work my way back around to the branches.

XXX
Carrie




Home Sweet Home

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The most recent issue of World of Cross Stitching to land in my mailbox came with this adorable free cover kit that included its own plastic hoop! The hoop is used both during stitching and for displaying the finished piece. I don’t stitch too many of the cover kits from this magazine because I always have other things on the go, but this one really jumped out at me. I’m not surprised, since it was designed by Durene Jones. I just love her designs!

After the summer I have been having, I told my husband I needed to get away and relax, even if just for a short time. So we headed up to our cabin and I spent two days doing pretty much nothing. There is no electricity or running water, but there is plenty of peace and quiet and it’s possible to sit out in the sun – something I don’t dare try to do at home because the bugs are so bad. We do have solar panels at the cabin, and I have a daylight lamp that allows me to cross stitch inside. I got a bit of work done on this project, although my hands were paying dearly after about 30 minutes of stitching. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when I see my doctor in October he will either let me go back on my arthritis medication, or he will have an alternative to try. My liver enzymes are trending down now, but at the moment it’s just too risky to go back on methotrexate. It has now been 6 weeks since I have taken it, and the past week or so my hand pain has been in full force, even when not doing anything.

I had opened this kit and sorted the threads before we left home, and it’s a good thing I did… there was no needle in the kit! If I had just taken the kit and magazine with me without looking at it first, I would not have known this and would not have been able to work on it. I then read something in another magazine that mentioned that they are doing away with the needles in these kits because so many stitchers have a large collection of them already, and by omitting the needle they can save money to make the gifts more substantial. They definitely did that with this kit, as they have never given out embroidery hoops that I can recall, at least not since I started subscribing in 2012.

So, lesson learned… from now on I will open any cover kit I get before I attempt to stitch it, to be sure I have everything I need!

XXX
Carrie


More Finishing

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I decided to go through my box of stitched pieces and pick out some to FINALLY finish off. These two were stitched a year or two ago but I never did anything with them. I love the hoop finishing because it is quick and easy and allows me to hang projects in areas where I wouldn’t be able to hang a large framed piece. For instance, I have several hanging by suction cups on the window above my desk. I can change these out with the seasons or just whenever I want. To create these two, I simply painted a wooden hoop with acrylic paint and then strung a ribbon through the tightener at the top.

This little hummingbird was featured in an issue of CrossStitcher (I think). He was super fast to stitch up and I just love the colors. He is tiny – the frame is only 4 inches!

This is my happy place – Epcot! In particular, Spaceship Earth. The pattern is from Awesome Pattern Studio. This used a 12 inch hoop.

XXX
Carrie


The Road to Recovery

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When I started my latest project, I had no idea that just a few days later it would turn into my “recuperation project”. On July 2 I had a bad backache, headache, and overwhelming fatigue. I later developed a slight fever. On the 4th I went to the ER, only to be given fluids and a Tylenol, a chest x ray (which was clean), bloodwork which wasn’t too horrible, and then sent home. On the 7th I saw my primary care doctor and he ordered more bloodwork, urinalysis, a flu test, and a Covid test. On Friday morning he called and told me to pack a bag; I was going to the hospital. My liver enzymes were 10x normal. I ended up staying in the hospital for 6 days. When I got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. I could barely walk to the bathroom. As soon as I felt somewhat able to function, I turned to my stitching. This beautiful, easy, calming project has been my saving grace for the last couple of weeks. Since being home I have had 4 doctor appointments, several rounds of bloodwork, and an outpatient liver biopsy. We still don’t know the results of that (it has been a week) but I am feeling on the mend now. In between doctor visits, I have stitched. I haven’t felt like doing much else, and for 2 weeks after the biopsy I had a no lifting restriction. Luckily I had chosen just the right project – large areas of solid colors so I didn’t have to “think” much, no backstitch, and no fractional stitches. It also helped tremendously that it was on Aida, so I didn’t have to strain my eyes. This project has really helped to keep my mind off of things, give me something to do that wasn’t strenuous, and was good for just plain relaxing. It is amazing how therapeutic cross stitching can be for both mind and body! While all of this has been going on, I have had to stop taking one of my rheumatoid arthritis medications, because it can cause damage to the liver. Stitching has kept my fingers from getting too stiff. I know that after the medication has been out of my system for some time my hand pain may get so bad that I can’t stitch. But for now, my heart and mind are so happy with this project!

This pattern can be purchased from StitchesLoversShop on Etsy.

XXX
Carrie


So Satisfying

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I love stitching on specialty and hand dyed fabrics. But sometimes there is just something so satisfying about stitching on Aida and watching those perfectly formed stitches take shape. They really lay nicely and are so fluffy and sit on top of the fabric, compared to on linen where they can be all different shapes and sizes and get “lost” in the fabric weave.

Yes, this is a new project! It is a picture of my home state and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

XXX
Carrie