Saturday, December 31, 2011

Assessing 2011 Goals/Project Inventory

So, let's see how I managed:
01. Stitch from stash, limiting purchase of new charts to five. Used up my five chart allowance by July 10 and only ended up purchasing one chart over my set limit during the remainder of the year.

02. Blog at least every other day: I have managed to keep this up, sometimes blogging daily.
03. Complete three BAPs: Stockings for Piper and Liam as well as TW's Autumn Faerie for Angela. Finished the Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie in June. I was doing well on another Teresa Wentzler piece, Tracery Dragons, until I hit a stitcher's block in mid October. Piper's and Liam's stockings will have to be deferred to 2012.
04. Participate in the Crazy January 2011 Challenge. I have completed 12 of the 15 challenges. The factor that kept things from being a total sweep was that the remaining three are all BAPs: TW's Tracery Dragons, Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie, & Allesandre Adelaide's Zucca. Some of the earlier projects were near-BAPs as well; so I don't feel a complete failure. Just my usual overly-optimistic self!
05. Catch up and keep up with sewing finishes. Have made some progress but this is a bottomless well. As of 11/11, I had completed 29 sewing finishes equalling my cross-stitch finishes as of that date .
06. Complete one medium project a month, concentrating on Christmas, Halloween and Quaker charts. January [1] - Workbasket's Quaker Santa. February [1] - Sue Hillis Cookie Santa. March [0]. April [3] - Dragon Dream's The Ice Dragon's Kingdom, Homespun Elegance's The Stitcher and Witches Stitch, Too. May [1] - Barrick's Samplers' The Gilded Cage. June [0]. July [0]. August [2] - Sue Donelley's Hear the Sea Call and Heartstrings Earth Day 2011 Sampler. September [0]. October [1] - The Friendship Sampler. November: [0]. December/0. For a total of 9 so far.
07. Stitch a few more Valentine's Day and Wedding Anniversary ornaments. I deferred this goal till 2012 since I had so many other stitching challenges going this year.
08. Get to the bottom of the UFO basket. I have also deferred this to 2012 and have joined a UFO Challenge starting January 2012.
09. Paint the walls of the stitching-room-to be and refinish some of the furntiture that will occupy it. Deferred.
10. Learn to knit. I finally signed up to join the local Knitting Circle at the High School adult education center which started in October. It turns out I didn't "click" with the teacher ... I'll have to look for another class in 2012. I did learn a new and better method of casting on though, so all was not lost though it was a rather expensive lesson at $60.

Now for my 2011 Project Inventory:

32 Cross Stitch Finishes
1 BAP:
Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie.
2 Large (but not quite a BAP) Projects: Sue Hillis' Cookie Santa and Dragon Dream's The Ice Dragon's Kingdom.
6 Medium Projects: Barrick's Sampler's The Gilded Cage; Heartstrings Earth Day 2011 Sampler; Homespun Elegance's Witches Stitch, Too!; Homespun Elegance's The Stitcher; Sue Donnelly's Hear The Sea Call; Workbasket's Quaker Santa.
3 Small Projects: BBD's A Bird in Hand; Goode Huswife's Friendship Sampler; Martina's Easter Rabbit
20 Smalls: Ornaments and Floss Tags: Town Square SAL Theatre, CEC's Sophie's First Annual Christmas Ornament, Aury's 2011 Quaker Red, White & Blue Heart; Glory Bee's Flag and Liberty; PS Promo Card: Summer House/Rain; PS Free Chart: Pheasant Cock & Hen; PS Eagle & Shield ornament; Week's Dye Works Town Square Town Hall; Jane Greenoff's Blackwork Owl; La-D-Da's Town Square Schoolhouse; Lizzie Kate Cozy Christmas Wishes ornament for HOE; DeeBee Design's Town Square Church; The Knotted Tree Design's Town Square Post Office; Prairie Schooler Autumn exchange piece; PS Promotional Card Winter House; PS Promotional Card Autumn Barn; PS Promotional Card Spring House; Aury's 2010 Red, White & Blue Quaker Heart; Town Square SAL Fire Station; The Victoria Sampler Hearts of America: Connecticut.

29 Sewing and Assembly Finishes
7 Pin Pillows:
Heart in Hand Wee Bee; Black Bird Designs Bird in Hand; "I love to shop at Silver Needle." ; Goode Huswife's Friendship Sampler; Glory Bee's Liberty; Martina's Easter Rabbit; Prairie Schooler Autumn Barn.
15 Ornaments: Town Square SAL Train Depot; Town Square SAL Town Hall; Town Square SAL Saloon; Town Square SAL Clock Tower; Town Square School; Town Square SAL Post Office; Town Square SAL Church; Town Square SAL Fire Station; Prairie Schooler's Eagle with Shield; Aury's 2011 Quaker Heart; Greenoff's Blackwork Owl; Victoria Sampler's Connecticut Heart; Workbasket's Quaker Santa; Time for Tea.
5 Needlework Accessories: Four Prairie Schooler Promo Cards as floss tags; Blackbird Designs Quaker Medallion Strawberry Emery.
2 Tote Bags: Erin's Garden; Leisure Arts Teddy Bear.

Ongoing WIPs/UFOs.

2010 projects: Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance motif afghan; Beach Find Pansies; Fertile Circles Needlebook.

2011 WIPs: the Crazy January Challenges T. W. Wentzler Tracery Dragons, Allesandre Adelaide's Zucca and Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie as well as a non-challenge start, Praire Grove Peddler's Lighthouse Candle Mat and a class project, The Sturbridge Box. Finishing these up will be a 2012 objective.

Monthly Giveaways in 2010: 19 gently used or new charts, 1 cross stitch kit, 1 quilt pattern, 2 gift certificates to 123stitch, 2 hand made items [a pin pillow and an Ort Jar] and 6 cards of linen floss.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Workbasket's Quaker Sampler Progress Report

I am afraid all my ambitious plans for doing some sewing/finishing have gone by the wayside. I have spent this week reading, eating, relaxing, watching DVDs, cooking and puttering about the house [I hesitate to call the very minimal and laid back efforts I have made "housecleaning"]. I have stitched on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler while doing the DVD watching and have made some progress. But I doubt I'll have the hoped-for one last finish of 2011, as is evident from this photo. When last seen on December 19th's post, I had just started the smaller blue motif at the bottom left of the inner rectangle. Since that time I have completed the blue, green and red motifs that make up the bottom leg of the rectangle and have started the yellow motif that is the right side of the rectangle. That leaves two and half motifs left to stitch as well as three medallions, not to mention the personalization that will go into the medallions. And I still haven't decided whether I'll do my husband's and my initials with the year of our marriage OR the intitials of my children with their birth years as the personalization. So, clearly not likely to be finished in the remaining two days of 2011!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Goals

Some goals remain the same, some old goals are dropped and some new ones are added:

***A UFO Challenge: The Class Pieces: Gather all the class pieces from the UFO basket. Work on one at a time until all are completed. This may be a two year challenge, given the number of projects involved.

***Limit new starts to one medium piece a month until all current WIPs and 2012 Challenge pieces are stitched.

***Stitch some Heart Ornaments to display from Jan 10 [Wedding Anniv.] through Feb. 14 [Valentine's Day]

***Stitch one ornament a month from the 2006 Indy Town Square series.

***Limit stash purchases to fiber and fabric needed tp complete charts on hand.

***Continue to blog every other day.

***Choose and complete two BAPs. Finish TW's Tracery Dragons and then start Liam's Christmas stocking, TW Wentzler's Woodland Angel and then at least starting [but, one hopes, finishing] Piper's stocking, Dimensions' Woodland Maiden, as a companion piece. I may switch things up and start Piper's stocking first, too much TW can be ennervating. If I manage to finish these, I'd like to start on Scherzo.

***Catch up on sewing finishes.

***Finish setting up the sewing/craft/TV room.

***Inventory chart stash and set some priorities for completing what is on hand.

***Declutter stash. Ruthlessly eliminate charts that will never be stitched and UFOs that will never be completed from stash. Use the charts for giveaways. Consider setting up a UFO exchange for the fun of it.

***Attend an EGA chapter meeting as a member-at-large, or take an EGA on-line course. I also want to attend the Alumni Stitcher's Hideaway this year, instead of the one of the class type hideaways. The main reason is that it would fit in nicely with my Crazy January Challenges: Class Pieces goal. I'd have a whole hideaway to work on an older class piece and I wouldn't be adding any new ones to the mix.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santas on Parade: Fini ... & A Contest

Here is a banner stitched from an old Shepherd's Bush design, Christmas Kringle. I made it up years ago but am only putting it out for the first time this year because I had it packed away so carefully, I had forgotten about it. And here is a close-up shot of the stitched portion of the banner. Out of sight, out of mind! The same can be said for a beautiful framed piece from Heartstrings, The Sugarplum Season, which was stitched and framed back in 2007 and is currently so carefully sored as to be inaccessible. Oh, well, maybe next year! I also stitched a number of the Heartstrings Designer Series Santa for one of my sisters and a gorgeous Woodland Santa from Celebrations magazine which I framed and kept in my office till I gave it to one of the teachers who loved it when our parish school closed ... and a primitive Woodland Santa stocking for my eldest son ... and all the Dragon Dreams JCS Ornament issue Santa with dragon ornaments for my daughter ... but again, alas, before my blogging and photographing days ... so no photos. I have also stitched a number of gift totes featuring Santa, but those too were given away before I got into the habit of photographing my finished pieces. But here is one more Santa, actually one of Dragon Dreams' contributions to the annual JCS ornament issue some years back, except I chose to stitch it on a tea towel. Ornament designs tend to fit pretty nicely on this particular style of towel. It seems I have stitched dozens of Santas over my 40+ years of stitching. Certainly, it has been two or three Santas a year, until fairly recently. With the exception of a few ornament sized Santas annually [probably Homespun Elegance or Prairie Schooler], I think I am pretty much done with Santa ... unless, of course, something really irresistible comes along. I wonder how long it will take me to tire of dragons and faeries or of Quaker samplers or of angels or of witches ... the next most numerous subjects of my stitching. What subjects do you, my readers, find yourself stitching over and over? Leave a comment about your stitching passions and I will choose the one that interests me most and stitch the winner a small gift. I'll keep this contest open till Little Christmas, January 6.

Sunday, December 25, 2011




This is a piece I stitched quite some time ago from a magazine chart. It was before I got serious about noting designer and fabrics and fibers, so I am afraid I can't give you any data on the piece, except that it was stitched on black aida, probably 18 ct. Lord, I haven't stitched on aida in nearly two decades, so this piece is quite old.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Santas on Parade: the Sue Hillis Collection

Here are all the Sue Hillis Santas I have stitched. The Sue Hillis pirate Santa, which I think is uproariously funny, always has a place on my bookshelf at Christmas time. I hope to find the time this Christmas vacation to turn them all into flange pillows. I have the fabric and I should be able to carve out the time. Since my generous husband traded vacation times with his assistant allowing him to attend a family reunion in Puerto Rico, the good-hearted soul will not be home for Christmas week for the first time in a decade. This means that my days will be my own. Though I dearly love my husband of nearly 41 years [anniversary coming up in January], solitude is a luxury in my world. I grew up a would-be hermit in a large, boisterous and very social family. Christmas Eve with my extended four generation family will involve being with some 50 or 60 people ... and not everyone will be there! Christmas Day brunch at my home for my husband's extended family [one sister and one cousin] and my own youngest son [older son is in Seattle and the eldest, my daughter, will be working at the animal hospital] will be a much quieter affair. But Christmas week with my days all to myself ... well, solitude in moderation is a very good thing. I'll have a few more Santas to show on 12/26 and maybe even some finished pillows of these characters by the end of the Christmas vacation. Wish me luck with the finishing efforts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santas on Parade: the Ornaments

I thought I would showcase all my Santa ornaments, now that I have shown you some of my framed Santas.

This Workbasket Quaker Santa, an excerpt from the whole chart, was stitched as the final ornament in my Bride's Tree SAL set. I have to confess that when I first saw this chart, which included a Quaker Snowman, I was not impressed. For one thing, snowmen don't appeal to me and this Santa was definitely of the jolly old elf persausion and I prrefer a somewhat more dignified Father Christmas persona.

I have given away most of these ornaments. Anything with a Noah's Ark theme has been given to my grandson whose middle name is Noah. The first two ornaments shown here are from Homespun Elegance. I really like the style
of their annual Santas and will be purchasing a
few more of these charts to stitch and enjoy.

The second one, the Crescent Santa, is one of the very few ornaments I have kept for myself. It is one of my personal favorites.

Next up is a Sue Hillis complimentary chart from her brief but very prolific flirtation with all things piratical. I had thought of entering it in her current contest but I procrastinated and procrastinated till the deadline had passed.

This is an early effort ... my finishing is much better now, thank you very much ... it's one of the Heartstrings Artist series Santas. I glitzed it up a bit with some beads.

This was a gift from a stitching exchange at The Stitcher's Hideaway. Now normally I keep anything made for me by another stitcher. But this piece had a music button inside that fascinated my granddaughter. If I recall, it played We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Who could say no to a 18 month old angel like Piper? So now this Santa resides in Seattle!

This is a Santa Factory Santa that I stitched simply because I liked the colorway. I can't remember who I gave him to but he no longer resides here either.

This is another Santa Factory ornament and since it has a Noah's Ark theme, it was used as package trim on one of my gradson's gifts last year.

This Prairie Schooler ornament went to my granddaughter who certainly falls into the nice classification in Santa's Naughty and Nice lists. At just under three years of age she is the sweetest of children, a born peacemaker and negotiator, a nurturer and a totally girly girl. My daughter-in-law admits that she must be a throwback to DIL's mother since DIL is definitely not the girly type. The fashionista tendencies certainly didn't come from my end of the gene pool, either.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa on Parade

Here begins my parade of Santas.

First is the 2008 Prairie Schooler Limited Edition Santa. I stitched the 2003-2008 Santas for my baby sister but most of those were framed and gifted long before I started blogging and photographing my stitching. Hence, no photos, to my regret.

Prairie Schooler Santas are something of a favorite of mine. I enjoy stitching those of their annual Santas that represent a concept or craft that is imnportant to me. This Santa represents Peace on Earth to my way of thinking. There is also a nod to the whole concept of the Winter Solstice with the Sun, Moon and stars ... reminding us that early Christians had to embed their feast day within an existing celebration to avoid being noticed and persecuted.

Next come the crafting Santas:

A sewing Santa

A quilting Santa

A Santa who embroiders

And a knitting Santa

And the final entry for today, this Homespun Elegance Santa stocking that I made for my husband.

I'll be showing other Santa's throughout the week. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: Dec. 18, 2011

Just as I decided to concentrate my efforts on completing the Quaker Sampler for one last big finish in 2011, I hit a stitching slump last week. This was no coincidence, I am sure. For a very long time, I have known myself to be afflicted with stitcher's ADD. I truly need the variety of many different projects in rotation. The varying styles, levels of complexity, size and materials keep me interested and motivated. Sticking to just one piece simply doesn't suit my nature. On Friday, I succumbed to a bout of startitis. I stitched up the latest CEC mitten ornament, Sophie's First Annual Christmas Mitten, a chart which I had happened across earlier this week. I don't normally do "cute" and I have never done a mitten ornament before but for some unknown reason this little bit of frivolity appealed to me. Next, I pulled out another Town Square SAL chart for my Small Town USA themed Christmas tree. Here is the Town Square Theatre. Finally, these diversions gave me the will to return to the Quaker Sampler and finish up the second smaller motif in the inner rectangle, the yellow one with the U, V and W, and to start the next motif in blue. In anticipation of continued need for small diversions as I tackle a series of old BAP/UFOs in the coming months, I pulled a few more Town Square SAL charts, made a list of fibers needed to complete them and prepared an order for 123stitch. I have kitted up the first one on my to-do list, The Bookstore, from stash I had on hand. But there are a few GAST, Crescent Colours and WDW overdyed cottons I am running low on and need to reorder if I am to complete the others. Now that I have these lovely little smalls as fallback projects, maybe I won't lose my enthusiasm for the bigger projects. Not a bad weekend's work, especially when one considers the very little stitching that went on in the previous 10 days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A low key Christmas

Yesterday, I mentioned how little decorating I had done to date and how little I planned to do as Christmas comes closer. So here are a few photos. First, the tabletop decor in the entry hall. I change out this area with each season. After Christmas, I'll put up all my heart ornaments in celebration of our January 10 wedding anniversary. The hearts will remain up till Valentine's Day. As will various different candle treatments: tapers in silver gift box shaped holders in January and votives or tea lights in heart shaped holders in February. Then some close-ups of the ornaments since not all have been shown before on this blog.

This is the Prairie Schooler Angel [one of their promo cards from a few years back.

The next is a 2005 JCS ornament, and if I remember correctly, also a Prairie Schooler.

And a Homespun Elegance Santa, from the early 2000 decade. This is a real favorite of mine.

And, a complimentary chart from Lizzie Kate, with a few modifications of my own to help the design stand out on the fabric scrap I used from my remnants stash. And, from last year's JCS Christmas preview issue, La-D-Da's Christmas Fleur de Lys. Just below it you can see a Caron Complimentary design stitched on needlepoint canvas.
And a very old Leisure Arts ornament from the 90's, the stitched date notwithstanding.And a Heartstrings Artist series Santa ornament, not my best finishing effort but I like it anyway.
And another Prairie Schooler Promo Card, this time of a Christmas Tree.

Next, weekend I'll put another table top tree up in the living room, this time a scrawny faux pine that I will use to display the Small Town USA ornaments I worked on this year ... the ones from the 2006 Indy Town Square CD-rom of complimentary charts. I hope to add to their number in 2012, by stitching one more of these little charmers each month.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Erratic Posting

This makes twice in a row that I have failed to make a Weekend Progress Report, mainly because there is little or no progress to report. Sometimes life just gets in the way. It's not as if I have been particularly busy with Christmas preparations. Things will be very low key this year. My daughter will be covering the emergency clinic at the Animal Hospital, my oldest son will not be bringing in his family from the West Coast since they visited so recently in August.

My side of the family will celebrate Christmas Eve at my brother's house ...we all bring a covered dish. I'll either do a Christmas morning brunch for my husband's tiny family [a sister and a first cousin] or we will dine out at a restaurant. My husband and his sister are negotiating the arrangements. My youngest son will join us for both events. Since there won't be any children in the house for the holidays, I'll just put up two small tabletop trees: one in the entry hall and one in the living room. The entry hall tree is already in place. I'll use some of my Christmas candleholders about the place, put a wreath on the door, set up the creche set on Christmas eve. That'll be it: easily put up and easily taken down on January 6.

Since I tend to shop year round as I see things people will like, I am nearly done with my shopping ... just a few Christmas gift cards to buy and some practical clothes gifts for the grandchildren. I did all the fun shopping for them first: toys and books. My 2 year old granddaughter is quite the fashionista and has declared that she wants only "twirly" dresses, preferably pink. My four year old grandson is more like his parents and grandparents, preferring comfort, form and function to fashion. He has asked for "soft" pants [he hates jeans] and will get a couple of pairs of flannel coaches pants and some soft t-shirts.

So I can't explain the lack of progress by any other reason except this: I am, quite simply, slowing down. I have spent the last few weeks reading more and stitching less. For non-fiction, I have been reading The Pope's War by Matthew Fox. Strong supporters of Benedict might claim this book is fiction but it rings true to me once one discounts Fox's embittered excesses. For fiction, I am enjoying a re-reading of Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave ... a lovely novel about Merlin's role in the Arthurian legend. I have also started P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberly ... which only confirms me in my opinion that no one ought to mess with the perfection that is Jane Austen. Even as skilled a writer as P.D. James falls so very far short ... let her stick to what she does well and give us another Adam Dalgleish novel. I have also been spending some of my leisure time watching the Babylon 5 collection and am up to Season 4. It seems I do my most active stitching in Spring and Autumn, garden and travel in Summer, read and hibernate in Winter. I am becoming quite the creature of habit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Giveaway Winner

I thought I'd break this giveaway into three parts since most of the responders asked for a specific piece rather than for the whole package ... that way more people can get a lift when next they check their mail. I decided to make it a first come first served kind of deal this time so:Jo gets the Call of the Sea, Rachel gets the Amish Doll kit, Kimberley gets the quilt pattern. I'll be e-mailing them on Sunday to get all the mailing addresses. Since I have to get to the post office this Thursday to mail my grand-children's Christmas gifts, that's when I shall get everything out at once.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Random Thoughts, Mostly Stitch Related

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been concentrating on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler so that I might have at least one more finish by year's end. The problem is the smaller motifs aren't really that much smaller than the large ones. And the large ones typically took me a week to stitch. Plus, I am having a harder and harder time making time for stitching lately. I want to do it all: read several books, keep up my blogs, do some NY Times Sunday crossword puzzles [from the huge book I keep by my bed], clean for Christmas, keep up with the routine laundry/dishes/cooking/shopping, watch an episode or two of Babylon 5 [my latest sci-fi marathon], work, and stitch. In any case, I have been working on one of the smaller yellow motif since Sunday and am still not quite done. I'll post a photo when I am.

I have been following a thread on the 123stitch Message Board about people who haven't had a single finish this year. Most of them are, of course, BAP stitchers; some of them are multiple-BAP-in-rotation stitchers. But some seem to be your everyday stitchers who seem to have run out of stitching time or who have slowed to a barely discernible crawl when stitching. I have a feeling this may be my future in stitching. Five years ago I averaged about 60 finishes a year: quite a few smalls, to be sure, but a respectable number of medium and large projects as well as the occasional BAP. This year I'll have either 29 or 30 finishes depending on my progress on the above-mentioned Quaker Sampler. There are still a fair number of smalls and a goodly number of medium projects and even a few BAPs. But the total number has been decreasing steadily for the past few years. I am not conscious of stitching that much less so I must be stitching more slowly. I have been tackling more complex projects, so clearly that slows me down some. But I think it is age, cataracts and the occasional twinge of arthritis that really accounts for the ever decreasing productivity. It just takes me longer to accomplish any given task than it used to do! Aging just isn't as much fun as AARP would have you believe!

I mentioned that I considered the Quaker Sampler a BAP on a recent post and Nikki of Stitch Bitch commented that she had never heard a formal definition of a BAP. So I thought I would query my readers as to what they thought qualifies a piece for the BAP sobriquet. I have isolated a number of elements I think contribute to BAP-ness and I would like you to rate them in order of importance to your understanding of BAPs. I have noted them in my own order of descending importance.

---Sheer Size. What do you think are the lower limits to this element? 14" square, 16" square, 18" square, on up to 24" square and beyond or rectangles with legs that are 14", 16" or 24" or larger?

---Complexity of Design. For instance, a piece with a lot of symmetrical stitching that requires impeccable counting. Or maybe a piece with a fabulously elaborate border involving designs straight out of an illuminated manuscript [like Teresa Wentzler borders]. Areas that, though densely stitched, are really an amalgam of many, many, many confetti stitches [again a Teresa Wentzler trademark]. Or maybe a piece with complex repeats that occasionally switch to irregular repeats, in unpredictable fashion ... as happens in many primitive designs.

---Technical Difficulty. I am borrowing a phrase from Olympic figure skating here but I bet you know what I mean: Queen stitches, Rhodes stitches, Blackwork, Reversible Stitching, Elaborate Beadwork, etc. Also quarter and three quarter stitches, blended needles, endless back-stitching. Certainly Hardangar and Cutwork would qualify, as well.

---Stitching Density. Very little negative space, with stitching covering just about every thread of the linen.

---Challenging Materials. Extensive use of blending filament, delicate specialty fibers, faux furs and other frustratingly breakable flosses. Or rayon floss with its hideous slipperiness that resists proper laying.

Those are the elements I think make up a BAP ... and I think the size can decrease in direct proportion to increases in all the other elements ... and still qualify a piece as a BAP. Can you think of other elements that make a project worthy of the name BAP? How would you rate the importance of each element? Would your order be different from mine? I haven't included elaborate finishing techniques in my list because I think that is a whole other issue. But would you include finishing?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monthly Giveaway

This giveaway really snuck up on me. It seems that November slipped by before I even had a chance to notice it was here. Between illnesses, work pressures and the Thanksgiving holiday, November was here and gone in a flash. What little stitching going on was on a BAP, which makes it tough to build up a supply of gently used charts. Since my plans for 2012, stitching primarily class project UFOs, will continue this trend of stitching BAPs, I think I will have to suspend the practice of monthly giveaways in 2012. So this will be the last giveaway for a while. Depending on how many finished charts I manage to accumulate in 2012, I may resume the giveaways in 2013. Once upon a time, I used to complete nearly 60 projects a year, mostly smalls and medium/small pieces. That generated a lot of charts to give away. The past two years I have slowed to half that pace and have worked on a number of larger projects as well. And furthermore, my recent finishes have been of charts I wish to keep: Workbasket, Homespun Elegance, Prairie Schooler, Brightneedle, Blackbird Designs and Primitive Needle. I do consider some designers a little more collectible than others. Even the small pieces I have stitched this year aren't particularly giveaway friendly: most have been complimentary charts available to just about any stitcher through the internet or newsletters. Indeed, many of my smalls this year have been from the 2006 Indy Town Square CD-Rom and I still have quite a few of those pieces to stitch before I can offer the CD-Rom for a giveaway. Pesky little copyright details about not keeping paper copies when giving away the CD ... not to mention wiping the hard drive. And my recent habit of stitching primarily from stash means I have gotten down to my cache of favorite designers. It will be interesting to see what effect the absence of giveaways will have on my various stats. Well enough rambling! This month's giveaway will be a rather mixed bag: one opened but otherwise untouched kit from my mother's stash, one unopened quilting chart and one gently used chart from the recent Sturbridge Stitcher's Hideaway run by Sue Donnelly.

This first piece is an opened but not stitched kit from Jan-Lynn from my mother's craft stash. It features an Amish doll very much like the ones my mother used to make ... which I guess is why she thought she might be interested in it. I suspect she balked at sorting the floss included. In any case, a piece of white Aida [I am guessing 14 ct] is included. The interesting thing is that the Aida has a painted grey-blue shadow in the area where the doll is sitting. You can see this painted shadow on the kit photo. There is a rust stain in the very far corner of the Aida where the needle is inserted but it is so far from the design area that it can easily be trimmed away before framing or before a stitching finish. I don't stitch on Aida. I find it to harsh and coarse in my hand. It actually raises blisters on my fingers. Hence the giveaway.

Next up is an un-opened quilting pattern from my mother's craft stash. The motifs are all in the folk art style and are simple geometric shapes ... perfect for a person who wants to give quilting a try but clever enough and interesting enough to appeal to a more experienced quilter. Called Home Sweet Home, it can be the jumping off point for any number of projects, based on various combinations of the motifs included: pillows, banners, pin cushions, even a lap quilt. I am hoping it will find a good home since I do not do much quilting.

This chart, The Call of The Sea, is a really fun stitch, a giveaway from a recent Sue Donnelly Stitcher's Hideaway. One of Sue's own designs it came with some mother-of-pearl and faux sea glass pieces reclaimed from a summer necklace. Since I have already stitched the piece and used the shells and beads, the winner will have to provide their own shells and glass, but it shouldn't be too hard to find a similar source. Check the internet for relatively inexpensive beach-y necklaces. It was stitched on a very loosely woven turquoise linen but I suspect that any turquoise or sea blue fabric will do nicely.

Well, I hope you all consider these items a fitting finale to my giveaways, at least for the time being. Anyone interested in receiving them should leave a comment below explaining why they appeal to you. I will announce a winner on 12/10.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Quaker Sampler

Since I'd like to finish at least one more cross stitch project this year, I am stitching single-mindedly on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler. The size of the piece and the intricacy of the symmetrical stitching qualifies it as a BAP, to my way of thinking, though some may call it merely a large piece but not quite a BAP. For those of you who are curious about the actual size: though I haven't measured it, the piece does completely cover one of those folding wooden snack tables with a tiny bit of drape. Started in early December of 2010 and ignored for most of 2011, it's about time to complete this piece. The outer rectangle of large motifs and letters is complete. Now that I have begun it, I expect the inner rectangle of smaller motifs and letters to move more quickly. Each subset of a small motif paired with three letters in the same color is a little over one half the size of the larger motif/letter pairings. I am hoping to complete one a day. It would be nice to have the entire piece complete by mid-month. I still haven't decided whether I shall put my three children's birth years and initials in the central motifs or use this piece as an anniversary sampler to replace the one lost several years ago by the framer. I could put our wedding year in the center heart and our initials in the flanking motifs. I still have time to decide ... either option would have deep significance for me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Goals

I am going to keep it very simple this month:
Work on Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons.
Work on Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.
Work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler.
During the Christmas vacation, work on the sewing finish of a bunch of decorative pillows.

My real goal is to have another cross stitch finish or two before years end and a few sewing finishes as well.