Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

This is the day to reflect on the year coming to an end.  DH (who is very smart) thinks looking back is a waste of time.  He is right as you can't change the past.  Hopefully you can learn from it though.  This year was horrible in some ways and fantastic in some ways (Claire!).   I am looking forward to many fun things in 2013:  classes, stitching, seeing Claire (in 17 days!).

I just realized that I missed my second blogging anniversary which was December 26th.  I couldn't get on the internet on that day anyway.  I must look up something I can give away.

I plan to take down the Christmas tree tomorrow. We are having lamb for dinner.
My goal for today is to do another leaf in Detached Buttonhole Stitch - without cursing.
I stitched a couple more beads.  One in colors I like:

And one in called for colors:

I have one more bead design to stitch and then I am going to start over and make matching beads for the other side of each bead.

We may not make it to midnight tonight before falling asleep.  We don't care.
I wish you a wonderful fun happy peaceful kind loving joyous new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last Day of Christmas

I don't have any stitching to show so I'll just show you the last of the Christmas presents.  This has been very high on my wish list for a few years.  What stitcher doesn't dream of the most fabulous scissors ever?  Ones that have been handmade in France by a very skilled tradesman?  When we redid the bathroom a few years ago, I would say that I have the most beautiful sink in the world.  Now I can say that I have the most beautiful scissors in the world.  They are named after the tradesman's wife, Mirielle.
They come in a wooden case:
I know one designer that keeps her fancy scissors in a display case and looks at them from time to time.  I'm not going to do that.  I am going to use mine.  They feel very light and delicate.  When I cut pearl cotton  near the tip of the scissors I can feel them bend.  That's how delicate they are.  DH spoiled me very much this Christmas.  He'll have a hard time topping himself.
I got the missing canvas for the Dolci Bead kit in the mail yesterday.  I want to try out the canvas and see if I like it as much as the linen canvas I have been using.  I've been working on finishing the class project.  Handwork takes forever.
The next lesson for Cabinet of Curiositites comes out on Tuesday.  I really should work on the velvet stitch scissors case from the last lesson.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Still Learning

I went through the Dolci Beads lessons yesterday and watched all the videos.  My pet peeve is music on those videos, drives me nuts.  Also, I don't like blogs that have music on them.  I don't know what it is, I just know I don't like it.  Anyway, I discovered I wasn't doing the Jessica stitch correctly.  I was always bothered by the end of the stitch.
See that edge that prevents the circle from being continuous?  Well, the video shows that the last few stitches are tucked under the beginning stitches.  I'll have to try that bead again and do it the right way.  Or, take that bottom bead out and restitch the last few stitches.  Another pet peeve I have about this class is that one of the beads we are shown as a sample, we aren't given the chart for.

I skipped step/sculpt class yesterday.  My excuse is I slept too late.  So I made sure to go to Pilates today.
I have two Christmas gifts left to show you.  Today's gift is the door mirror from Thistle Threads.

I was delighted when DH let me get this.  It is a wooden frame to be covered by stitching. It is very sturdy. There is one design included or you can design your own.

This is just the part of the design that will fit the doors.  I want to stitch a more modern design for this.  Behind the doors is a mirror.
This is the back.  It has an easel so you can either hang it or set it on a piece of furniture.
It came with no hinges (that's the reason for the blue tape) do that you can choose to do historically correct (expensive) ones or ones from the hardware store.  I don't care about historically correct so I'll go the inexpensive route.  This is almost as good as getting the casket.  It is going to be very challenging and will take a lot of 2013 to finish this project!
We are going out to eat tonight with friends.  That will be fun.  Kind of a New Year's Celebration.

Friday, December 28, 2012

You're Going to Have to Learn It

Those were Megan's words in her comment yesterday "You're going to have to learn it" - referring to the detached buttonhole stitch.  Those words resonated with me and I took her advice.  I went to the Thistle Threads blog and looked for the PDF for the detached buttonhole stitch.  It was illustrated in the magazine I am using but I hadn't had much success doing it.  I found the PDF and it had one crucial picture that helped me figure it out.  So I tried it on the top leaf.  It worked out!  I probably didn't do it exactly right. (Are you just supposed to go one direction or can you go back and forth?)  I had been messing with one leaf putting in reverse chain, fly stitch and a vein in stem stitch.  It looked rather "eclectic".  

After seeing how well the detached buttonhole worked out, I took out the first leaf.  Then I tried a holly berry.  It is in the trellis stitch.  I don't think I did it right and I want to try it again. The leaf won't look so striped once the gold laying thread goes down the middle.  Anyway I like it better than the top half light and the bottom half dark.  I am proud of myself for trying to learn a new stitch.

I also took out the tacking stitches in the Dolci Bead and put in the border that I had forgotten.  I also worked on the next lesson of beads.  I'm not wild about the colors but I am trying to follow the directions.  I want to try putting a bead entirely together.

The next one of my Christmas gifts I want to show you is my new curio.

You've already seen it in previous posts.  But now the fingerprints from the delivery boys are gone and the shelves have stitching on them.  I just put things in that wouldn't fit back in curio#1.   DH says it is full.  Actually I like how spread out the items are as I can see them better.  The top shelf doesn't have much on it.  I have to get a step stool to help me reach it.  As DH says, I am a dwarf.
 I'm always afraid that I will run out of cool things to stitch.  I know it's crazy to think that way.
So I am very excited to see that there is going to be yet another Online Tutorial from Amy Mitten.  There is a new sampler book coming out and she has designed a small sampler and a needleroll based on a sampler in this new book.  She is going to give more information in February.  Next year is going to be so fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


There was a problem with posting yesterday.  We had extremely spotty internet service.  It drove me crazy not to be able to check my email and my see my bookmarked sites.  I couldn't even send email.  Things seem to be fixed now.

I had a great Christmas.  It was low key and quiet and there was no stress at all.  I watched the Christmas at Downton Abbey episode on Christmas Eve.  I loved that some of the strings of the story were cleared up.  Now I am ready for season 3 to begin in January.  But I just read in USA Today that Matthew isn't coming back for Season 4.  Oh no!

I am seriously spoiled with all the gifts I got.  I think I will show them to you one a day.  Today's gift is something I use almost everyday.  A new camera!   It is a Canon Powershot.

 My old camera was a Canon Powershot also.  But the battery door was broken and I couldn't keep the battery charged - even after buying a new battery.  So DH got me a new one.  The going rate for cameras now is 16 megapixels.  Wow.  My old camera had 7.  This new camera has a touch screen and the two most used adjustments I need to make are easy to get to (flash-I usually have to turn it off, and up close for small stitchery items).  There is a learning curve to this camera but it is made easier since I am used to my old Canon.  DH put the instruction book right on my computer screen so it is easy to look something up.  This camera does all kinds of fancy stuff.  The only thing I can complain about is that the bottom of the camera is rounded and it isn't very stable unless you lay it down flat.  I took a picture of my Santa with the full 16 pixels and you could see every stitch.  It is amazing.  Next month I can take all kinds of great pictures of Claire when we are there for her first birthday.  We have our airline tickets and hotel all booked.  I am starting to count down the days.

We got about three inches of snow yesterday.  Enough snow to look wintery but I can still drive without fear.  It isn't icy and the main roads are clear.

I am working on some more of the Dolci Beads.  I have learned that the linen congress cloth folds much easier to the back for tacking down.  I also realized that I made a mistake with one of the beads.  I forgot the border (two rows of tent stitch).  So, do I take out the tacking down stitches and try to put it in?  Maybe.  I have to be in the mood.

Also, I finished the heavy chain stitch around the Trevelyon Holly Ornament.

I started the leaves.  I am not very familiar with the detached buttonhole stitch that is used for filling the leaves so I am looking for a different stitch for the center of the leaves.  I tried a few detached buttonhole stitches and it didn't look good.  I am trying a reverse chain stitch instead.  I like working on this linen.  It is a nice fine weave ( Kingston 70 count, I think).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Will Find Me

Christmas Eve will find me cleaning my bathrooms.  After all, it is Monday.  Alas, no Dylan today.  I've wrapped the last present for DH (he only has two).  But hey, that's the way he wants it.  Me?  I'm a different story.  I love to get presents.  DH outdid himself this year and I have some pretty marvelous things to open tomorrow morning.

I want to make a coffeecake recipe that I got off the web.  We have the most delicious chicken noodle soup from our neighbors that will be our supper.  I am stitching on the class project I took earlier this month.  It is very fun.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.  Only one will be full tomorrow morning - mine!

I'm wishing you a wonderful day and a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Start Fun

I had a lot of fun starting the stitched beads cyberclass.  It is easy - so far.  I stitched the beginnings of two beads.  I think we are supposed to have sixteen beads when we are done.  I haven't read the part about how to finish them.  I wonder if we stitch both sides of the bead.  I plan to anyway.  I stitched one on on regular congress cloth and one on linen congress cloth.  I thought that the linen one would be easier to fold under the edges when finishing the bead.  We'll see.  I didn't put the congress cloth on stretcher bars.  I just cut a little 2 inch square to work on.  It was no problem stitching in hand.

I made up the little button angel kit that Margaret sent me.  It turned out very sweet.

I started the Trevelyon Holly ornament.  I started out just working in hand but then I put it in a small hoop to see if that made any difference.  I haven't decided yet which is better.  I am just doing the outline around the little purse in heavy broad chain stitch. It is a new stitch to me.

I like working with the soie perlee thread.   All the while stitching I'm thinking of things to change about it.  I don't like all the pink berries and want to make fewer pink and more red ones.  I also would put the pink ones out of the ends of the branch like they are the newest ones on the branch.  I'm not sure I like the abrupt change in color on the holly leaves.  I would make them more gradual.  It will depend on the stitch if I change this.  It might be hard to shade the leaves.

I have to go to the grocery store and get the main ingredient for our Christmas dinner - a Sunday Roaster Chicken.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Things

I have a few new things to start on.  I love a kit.  One that has everything you need all in a bag.  When I saw the kit being offered for the ornament on the front of Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly, I gave in and ordered it.  It was offered by Needle in a Haystack.  Tracking down the purse hardware and the unusual threads, much less a Japanese needle on my own would be challenging.  The kit came in the mail yesterday.

 So now I must track down my copy of the magazine (I think I know which pile it is in).  Needle in a Haystack even transferred the pattern to the fabric.  It will be interesting to try making this ornament.
Then I finally was able to contact the designer of a cyberclass I signed up for.  Evidently I got a partial kit that didn't include the canvas or the information about accessing the class.  So now I have that information and I went out yesterday and bought some congress cloth, hoping it was the correct size (24 count?).  So I can start that if I want also.

What a fun day to start some new things!

Friday, December 21, 2012


I got a lovely present in the mail.  It is so nice to get an unexpected one and one from half way around the world.  Thank you Margaret for the lovely package.  It had the stuff in it to make a darling Christmas ornament out of buttons.  Margaret's finished ornament looks way better than mine but I had fun putting it together.  Then last night I discovered one more button that should go on the ornament.

She sent me some chocolate and Russian Fudge .  I had never heard of Russian Fudge.  I think it is a maple flavored fudge - quite delicious.

I am quite skilled at making peanut butter fudge.  I don't dare make it as I will eat it all.
I love seeing the New Zealand calendar.  Each month has a picture of an outstanding piece of needlework.
There is one more ornament kit that I intend to make today.  Thanks so much Margaret!

I've been asked how I found out about stitching retreats that I have gone to.  A few years ago, I never knew there was such a thing as a stitching retreat.  I found out about Celebration of Needlework held in New Hampshire by reading stitching blogs.  Then I heard people talking about other retreats.  I often choose a goal for the year, like to go to a certain class or make a certain project.  My first goal was to meet the rock stars of the cross stitch world and go to a Shepherd's Bush class.  It was the off year and it wasn't in Utah but at Dyeing to Stitch in Virginia.  I went by myself and was adopted by a group of women who were wonderful to me and took me with them when they went somewhere.  I had a great time.  Then I made it my goal to take a CA Wells class.  Not easy to track down a class with her.  I kept watching the Needle in a Haystack website as she sometimes teaches there.  I ended up going to Needle in a Haystack for A Mermaid's Two Tales by Patrick's Woods where I saw the Blue Ribbon Sewing Box which became my goal for the next year.  Each class has led to something else.  I have some cyberfriends (thanks BFF!) that keep me informed of places they are going.  It turns out that there are lots of shops and guilds that have classes.  It was recommended to me to get The Attic newsletter and to join a guild (Kindred Spirits Sampler Guild) which I did.  So I keep my ear to the ground and consider myself very lucky to go to these events.
What will next year hold?   I am taking several cyber classes that will keep me very busy.  There are some new retreats that I want to try.  The Inspired Stitcher, a shop in Illinois, has a retreat that is close enough for me to drive to that sounds like fun.  I am signed up for the Amy Mitten cyberclass.  That will be challenging!
Of course, I have enough stuff in my sewing room to last until the next century.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


It is getting so close to Christmas.  After exercise class many people were wishing everybody  a Merry Christmas since this was the last class before Christmas.
 It was a rainy night.  The wind makes it feel very cold but it is in the 40's.  The weather will turn colder tonight and the rain will become snow.  I am on my last package of rootbeer lozenges so I made a run to Hobby Lobby for more.  I go there about three or four times a year and buy all the rootbeer packages they have.  Today I bought twelve.  That ought to hold me for a while.  I also bought 6 packages of Cherry Creme Drops.  I have less control when eating these.  I am going to try and make them last through January.  Fat chance.

I should pick up the velvet stitch scissors case again.  I'm not very motivated.
I have two things I am thinking of putting together.  I have a Martha Stewart pointsettia box and I have a leftover initial I stitched for the New England Stitcher's retreat.

I think I will paint the box which is cardboard.  Then I am trying to figure out how to attach the stitching.  Maybe I can use a layer of batting to pad the top and glue it around the edges.  Then I can put lace or ribbon around the edge of the top.
I'm going to go get cozy in the happy chair.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Queen of Excess

The Queen of Excess decorates her tree!

And her little tree!

She makes more fudge.

She makes more white chocolate stuff. (with pretzels, Oreos and peanuts)

Even more Christmas cards are sent off.  I meant to send one to New Zealand but I think I am too late for that.  Maybe I can email one.

No stitching to show.  Rats.

Dylan liked the game and stocking stuffers I got him.  I won't see him for 3 weeks.  I gave him the choice of reading 2 easy readers or one harder one.  I was surprised that he chose to read one harder one.  Good for him!

There is a storm coming on Thursday so we have to get ready for staying home.

Maybe I can sneak in some stitching this afternoon.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I got a lot done yesterday - just not stitching-wise.  Caramel Corn is done.  But I am such a dimwit.  I should have tried it with part dark and part light brown sugar.  I just did it with dark brown. That makes it look more like Cracker Jack popcorn.   I may try it one more time.

Forgotten gift is sent off.  The Post Office was open later than usual.  Luckily the line was not out into the lobby.
I made some of Ina's shortbread cookies.  Very good with tea.  Although I really like eating the cookie dough.
I put the Christmas tree together.  It's not decorated yet.  But it is a step in the right direction.
I got a couple more petals done on the Velvet stitch scissors case.  I am not going to work on Duchess Satin and I am not going to use the Velvet stitch on my casket.  That's for sure.

I googled a photo of William Morris's Strawberry Thief design.  I went to the pic2pat website and turned it into a chart.  It is very cool.  I would really like to stitch it and see what it looks like for the top of my casket.  Oh to have more time in the day!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I went back to working on the scissors case for the Cabinet of Curiosities.  When I first showed you, this is what it looked like:

Now this is what it looks like:

I have learned a few things along the way.  First of all, you need to count.  I started at the bottom of lowest petal with a lovely blue color.  That was a couple of weeks ago.  So then I picked it up yesterday and worked some more on that petal.  But when I got up close to the center gold thing, oops.  I am one string away from it and I am supposed to do all stitches over two strings.  I messed up when I started it and didn't start an even number of strings away.  So do I take it out?  No way.  Will it matter?  Not really.  I can fill in with over one stitches or with a fancy gilt thread.  I didn't even worry about where I started with the leaf.  It doesn't have to meet up with any friends, it is out there by itself.  But I am making up the colors as I go along.  Not all the leaf colors like each other.  I am changing the colors in different places than the sample.  I keep reminding myself that this is a learning experience.  And I am learning what not to do.

I am in the middle of making shortbread cookies.  I need to make another batch of caramel corn and put up the Christmas tree.  That is all besides making cod for dinner.  I got a chance to read some more Jack Reacher yesterday. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book.   Maybe I can read while waiting for stuff to cook in the oven.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Here

The poor UPS man was working late last night.  He left a package at my door at quarter to eight.  I can see by the return address that it is my MIRROR! This is what it looks like:

 I am so excited.  DH wasn't home - he was off playing soccer.  I was so tempted to peek and see that it is all intact.  But I didn't.  I know I have to wait e l e v e n  l o n g  days until Christmas.  This is going to drive me crazy just waiting to see it and what design is included for it. I have an old Sampler and Antique Needlework magazine that has a design for a mirror in it by Sharon Cohen.  So many possibilities.  I can't wait!  I read that the caskets will be able to be ordered in late January.  I should get back to working on the latest project in Cabinet of Curiosities:  that scissor case worked in velvet stitch on waste canvas.

I've lost a thread winder.  I put it in the laundry basket of shame and now I can't find it.  ARGH.  I should take everything out of the basket and see if I run across it.  Of course if I do that all the available floor space will be filled with junk.  Maybe tomorrow.

Went to Panera for dinner last night.  Yummy.  I got a gift card for my birthday and have been enjoying it very much. (Thanks Scott!)
Goal for today:  read some more of the Jack Reacher novel.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Back

Christmas stuff took over my life for a while. Now I am done and packages and gift cards are sent off.  I made two batches of caramel corn.  DH says one batch tasted better than the other batch.  Rest assured, I tasted them both and they are both very good.  But I finally figured out why.  I used a combination of light and dark brown sugar on the batch that DH says was better.  I still have one more batch to make.  I will be sure to use dark brown sugar in that one.
I got The Art of William Morris in Cross Stitch book in the mail.  I'm not sure it will help me much with my casket.  The designs are simplified more than I want.  They are nice designs though.

I have some William Morris wrapping paper.  I want to take a snippet of it and use the pic2pat site to convert it to a chart.
I got the smocked dress done and I am proud of it.  I sure hope it fits.  I didn't take a picture before I wrapped it.  I will get a picture of Claire in the dress when we are there in January.  We booked our flights so we are all set to go.  I can't wait to see her in person.  Only a little over a month and we will be there.
I am hoping to get back to stitching.  I'm not sure I even remember what I was working on.  I want to make one of Just Nan's mice for our tree.  I want to put up the tree by Saturday.  We have a few gifts to put under it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I have been working hard on the smocked dress.  All the smocking is now done and I am ready to sew the dress together.  I used silk threads for the smocking.  I liked using the Hand Dyed Fibers premium floss.  Just one ply worked fine.  I sure hope it fits when it is all done.

I got the calendar I was making all done yesterday.  Another gift down.  Today I am going to make fudge - among other things.  I am planning on licking the pan when I am done!  I even cleaned up the mess in the computer room.
There was a dusting of snow this morning.

Here is a picture of me in 1982 with some cross stitch stuff.  Good grief that is a long time ago.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Several Rows

Everywhere in my house is a mess.  The dining room table is full of stocking stuffers, Christmas cards and more.  Messy!  The living room has a pile of boxes from gifts I ordered that came this week.  If I painted them green, I could call it a Christmas tree.
The computer room has a bunch of papers I found that I need to turn into a calendar today.  My sewing room is the messiest of all but I'm busy, I have to get some things done, I can't stop and clean!  I am going to have to take a week and do nothing but put stuff away.  All these messes are driving me crazy.
On the other hand, I have made progress.  I finished off Merrily, Merrily yesterday.  I opted for the dark green cording as  opposed to light green.  Am I happy with it?  Yeah.  I am rolling my eyes at the thought of putting this project on a slate frame and basting it up the wazoo.  I worked it in hand on a 4 by 4 piece of fabric and it turned out fine.

I got several rows of smocking done.  It is starting to take shape.  Don't worry, it's going to be very cute when I get it done.   I think I can finish it today if I work hard.

Tomorrow I am going to make goodies:  fudge, caramel corn and various other treats.
Here are the two books I got to help me with designing my casket.

I also tried out a site I saw on the Mary Engelbreit website.  On the ME site there is a free download of a chart that was done by  So I went to pic2pat a tried it.  I like what it did.  I want to play around with a few pictures that I have.  It's a lot easier to work with than my PCStitch which I still have no clue how to use

Friday, December 7, 2012


This is a busy time of year.  Yesterday my goal was to send off the package that has to go to Australia.  That means I had to write a letter, wrap the gift and find an envelope big enough for it.  Since it is a 13 by 13 calendar, I couldn't find an envelope large enough so I made one out of heavy brown paper.  I hope it gets there okay.  Then the Post Office is a whole other challenge.  Of course there were no forms available to fill out before I got to the window.  I was hoping it wouldn't cost more to send it that we paid for it.  It was close, but it worked out.
Now the next challenge was to see if I could get started on the smocked dress.  I didn't think I could realistically get this done before Christmas so I was just going to go for the birthday instead.  But things went very well.  I got the dress cut out, it is only three pieces: front, back and sleeve.
The fabric is a cute alphabet pattern.

 Then I had to pleat it.  I haven't used my pleater in a while (years?  decades?) so I was rusty with the set up.  I started to pleat and realized that I couldn't roll all the pieces on the dowel at the same time.  So had to cut the threads, pull it out of the machine and try again.  Then I accidentally rerolled the sleeve around one of the rollers.  I was able to get it out without cutting the threads by taking the machine apart.  I am happy to say it is all pleated.

 The next step is to smock.  I started the first row around the neck.  There are only 6 rows so I actually may be able to do this before Christmas.

I just barely started the scissors case for Cabinet of Curiosities.  I am changing the colors as I go along.  It is an interesting new way to work.  No chart to follow.  Sort of like painting with thread.

I got a very interesting book that I ordered in the mail yesterday.  It has a lot of old animal charts in it.  I found it at a good price on Barnes & Noble.  I ordered another book by the same author of flower charts.  I think the books might help me with my casket design.

My goal for today is to see how far I can get on the smocked dress.  Wish me luck!