Stitching In The Dark

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What a miserable weekend! Our power went out Thursday morning. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of horrible wind. It had been predicted that we would be having an awful storm. I decided to get up and use the bathroom in case the power went off. Sure enough, it did, about 2 minutes later. But only for a few seconds, and then it came back on. It kept going back and forth from full power to half power, so we knew we needed to turn the breaker off so our appliances would not be damaged. Before my husband did that, I filled up a couple of jugs of water and woke my daughter and told her to find some clothes, get dressed, and use the bathroom. She was able to get herself ready for school and then we shut the breaker off. A few minutes after that, the power went out in the area anyway. My husband had an awful time driving her to school, as trees were down everywhere and he had to keep turning around to find an alternate route. When the power finally got turned back on Sunday afternoon, we had been without it for 79 hours. Luckily because it was so cold outside (in the 20s) we were able to put all of our food on the porch and we didn’t lose anything. Unfortunately because it was so cold outside, it was really cold in the house. And we live in an area with so many trees, we get very little sunlight. Even when all the lights in the house are turned on, our home is very dark. But, for about an hour a day when the light was decent, I would draw up a chair next to the kitchen window and work on a new project. I first started with the Merry Christmas Robins but that proved impossible on 28 count white fabric. Instead I started an Emma Congdon design I had already kitted up, on 14 count Aida.

There will actually be gingerbread men on this mandala when it is finished!

XXX
Carrie


Ho Ho Ho!

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I have had so much fun stitching this Ho Ho Ho Rudolph from Lizzie*Kate! I did mess up on the counting on the snow pile, which made the border closer than it should have been. And I changed the border from white to blue so it would show up better. My fabric was apparently a lot lighter than the color in her stitched model. I also changed the stitched snowflakes to Mill Hill beads.

Now I just need to figure out how to finish this little guy off. I can’t decide between a flat fold (which I have actually never made before!), an ornament, or a mini pillow. I really don’t need any more tree decorations and I could use a bunch of mini pillows for decorating, so that is probably what I will go with.

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


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




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


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


Slow Going

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This grass area is so slow going and the counting is so difficult. As much as I want to finish this ASAP, I think I am going to have to put it away again for a while. It’s a good thing I was never a model stitcher for a magazine, as this project has been worked off and on for 9 years!

XXX
Carrie


Deer In The Woods… Again!

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I started this deer project in 2012, thinking it would look great in my husband’s cabin. I worked on it for a while, put it away, worked on it some more, put it away, etc. Now it’s 2021 and this is one of my few UFOs. I can’t stand to see it sitting in a drawer any longer, so I have decided I am getting this back out and won’t stop until it is done! The only part I have left is the grass, which is three shades of brown and then some wispy backstitches. Every time I try to work on this I get stuck because the pattern is so confetti-heavy and hard to follow. But I am determined to get this done, soon. This photo is my starting point.

XXX
Carrie




New Mystery Project

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I’ve started a new project. While the Alice SAL is fun, my concentration hasn’t been the greatest lately and I am also feeling I don’t have much time that I feel up to stitching. But I wanted to be able to work on something. This new project will have very little backstitch, and large blocks of a solid color. I am finding it much easier to work on a project like this at the moment, although my stitching time is currently almost non-existent. I’m hoping to be able to get in about an hour a week. My neck, however, may have other plans. For now, this mystery project is quite blue… any guesses as to what it will be?

XXX
Carrie


Square 2 is Complete!

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The White Rabbit was actually very fast and easy to stitch. I did leave off the beads and metallic backstitch (there will be a gold chain for his watch and buttons on his coat). Those will get added at the very end after all of the cross stitching is complete. I rather like this little cutie!

Here is the progress on Alice so far:

The missing backstitch on that one leaf to the left of the Rabbit is driving me nuts! I do think I will start on Square 3 because it is another small, quick character to stitch. But after that I am going to have to get back to all of the dreaded border work. If I have the patience, I may even make myself complete the border around and underneath the next set of 3 squares before I start on them.

XXX
Carrie


Square 1 is Complete!

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I’m so excited to have Alice complete. She is beautiful… but this backstitching is just awful. If I had known that none of it would be actually in the holes, I would have chosen to do this on evenweave fabric. But, I’ve come too far to start over. My fingers are really sore from pushing the needle through the middle of the Aida blocks, so I will have to find a sharper needle to use for the rest of the project.

XXX
Carrie


24 Hours of Cross Stitch

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Now that Oregon Trail is complete I am going to focus on the Alice SAL. I am so happy that I was able to finish off the cross stitch portion of the first square.

There is a Facebook group called 24 Hours of Cross Stitch, and a few times a year they put together a marathon stitching weekend for stitchers all over the world. This happened to be one of those weekends. Some people stitch for 24 hours nonstop, some people try to get in 24 hours total spread out over the course of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And then there’s people like me… who start Thursday evening, stitch as much as they can during the other 3 days, and still only get in a total of 7 or 8 hours. I can’t sit for very long at all, and I have constant neck pain. While I feel that the stitching motions are really good for keeping my hands from deteriorating, I can only do so much. I came up with a plan that seemed to work really well for me. I put a TV series on which consists of 22 minute long episodes. I stitch during an episode, then I have to get up to stretch, move around, get a drink, eat, use the bathroom, lie down, etc. I can get in a few of these 22 minute stretches in a day if I plan it out correctly. I know I will never be able to sit and do anything for 24 hours straight, but by doing 22 minutes at a time I am able to get in quite a bit of work. It also helps if the projects are easy and don’t require starting new threads every few stitches. The Oregon Trail was great for that, and didn’t require much counting. There won’t be another 24 hours of cross stitch for several months, and I am going to have to go back to stitching 0-2 hours per week. But it was fun to have a weekend (mostly) to myself and do something all for me for a change.

XXX
Carrie


Oregon Trail

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One of my favorite memories from childhood is playing Oregon Trail on an Apple II computer, complete with neon green text on a black screen. Those Apple computers were definitely the best part of going to school (we personally had a Commodore 64 at home). Recently, this game has had a sort of cult following, with all sorts of merchandise popping up relating to it. When I saw this T Shirt on Amazon, I had to have it.

This got me wondering, were there any cross stitch patterns available with this design? A quick Google search found that although there were some finished pieces out there that had been sold on Etsy, no one was selling a pattern. But the design was so simple, I decided to try my hand at creating a pattern based on the T shirt and the few cross stitch Google images I found. I got out some graph paper and started shading in colored blocks with a pencil. It was pretty crude, but the end design seemed pretty accurate. I never stitch on black Aida because it is so hard to see the holes, but I decided to give this a try. And I happened to have one old (but new) package of Charles Craft black Aida in my stash. To give you an idea of how old it was, it was packaged in a clear round tube… they have not sold it that way in years! The tricky part was going to be finding a bright green shade of DMC floss that matched the T shirt. I looked at the entire line of DMC but nothing was bright enough… until I found the neon E990. I really did not want to work with Light Effects floss, as it is so finicky. But it was really the only bright green color that matched. So I dug out my old tub of Thread Heaven and got to work.

The floss was just as bad to work with as I thought, but luckily the pattern was super easy to follow and not very large. I got this done in just two days of stitching:

I just noticed while adding the photos that one of the spokes on the wheels is not complete. Glad I noticed that before I finished and framed the piece! I will be displaying it in a hoop which I will probably paint black.

XXX
Carrie



Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

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This snowman is finished at last! It’s hot off the hoop – I didn’t even have a chance to iron it! I am not sure if I am going to display him in a hoop or make him into a flat ornament, but either way I am going to add white pom pom trim to the edge, just like the finished project in the magazine. Sometime after the kids get back to school I will try to find the time and energy to get this guy completed. No hurry, as we will have snow here into May, easily!

XXX
Carrie