Come visit with me as I stitch and craft my way from one Christmas to the next - I like to have Christmas projects close by me all year. I have a particular fondness for Santas and Angels. If you have the time, leave a comment so I know you've visited.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gifted Gorgeousness Report for January

I haven't yet got used to being in 2017 - in fact I have not yet had the need to even write '2017' as part of the date - and yet here we are in the middle of January, and it's almost time for the first Gifted Gorgeousness Report of 2017.  Here's where you can sign up for Jo's Gifted Gorgeousness Blog Hop.

I have made some progress on the Growth Sampler I am stitching for my great-nephew.  The kit was a baby shower gift to my niece from a family friend, and my niece asked me to stitch it up.  The four characters are now stitched, and I added some blue fabric to the top and stitched baby's name.  The birth details will also go into the blue section. I am at a standstill now, now waiting for the details my niece wants stitched - birth details and the ages?/dates? on which Angus reached various heights (I am going to stitch these on the left hand side).  My niece wants to be able to add info to the growth chart until Angus is 5 years old, so I have had to come up with a finishing method that allows extra stitching over time, and laundering.  I hope I get it right!

Semco kit, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit Growth Chart

I am getting ready to start working again on my HAED Christmas Dreams (chart, fabric and most of the floss purchased with birthday money &/or gift vouchers), so I decided to stitch some bright little things to get me in the right frame of mind.  I stitched these bead and button decorated trees to replenish my stock of take home gifts for Christmas visitors.  There is a cross stitched (or sometimes a Smyrna cross stitch) tree under all those beads and buttons. These little gold-coloured frames measure just 4.1 cm x 3.8 cm (1.675" x 1.5").  I love making these little trees, and I guess (because they disappear so quickly) that my Christmas visitors like them too.  I will be making more tiny framed cross stitches during the year - probably not more trees, though.

 And here is a pic of all 14, standing up.

All my stitching time for the next month(s?) will be spent on Christmas Dreams.  I have almost forgotten the horror of having to unpick almost two full pages because of that silly error I made with the repeated stitches, and I will be starting tomorrow on the 14th page (page 47 as it happens), in my third row of stitching, as I am stitching it sideways..  My aim for this year is 12 pages, so it will be good to make a start on it.  Here is where I am at the moment. Try and ignore the dirty area where I unpicked those offending pages.

I will enjoy popping in to read the GG reports.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Smalls SAL Report for December

This past month has not been a busy stitching month for me, but I did finish two smalls - my final Christmas ornament for the year (for a newly acquired puppy in a niece's family), and the final Beatrix Potter character on the growth chart I am stitching for her son at another niece's request. I now have baby's name and birth details to stitch on a separate piece of fabric, which I will stitch at the top of the growth chart.  I have some pale blue fabric for that. In my mind it is going to work - time will tell!  I can not tell you how much I disliked stitching this piece (extremely unusual for me!).  If I wasn't so fond of my niece and grand-nephew, I doubt that I would have persevered. The chart  specified half-cross stitches for the characters, and left large areas within the characters unstitched.  I just couldn't do it, as I was using the 14 count Aida provided, and I just didn't like the result.  Unfortunately the kit didn't specify floss numbers, so I had to rekit all the floss once I made the decision to replace the half crosses with full crosses, and stitch all the areas on the characters. Then I had a melt down with the back/long stitching, and after much hair pulling decided just to ignore the charted outlining, and do my own thing. I also changed the numerals, because I found the charted ones to be extremely fiddly, and I also added 20 cm to the measurements (my great-nephew is quite a tall boy).  So, all in all, I was extremely happy to put in those final stitches tonight!

This is the final character - Squirrel Nutkin I believe.  The numbers and edges are quite straight - my photography skills are at fault.

 Semco kit, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit Growth Chart, Squirrel Nutkin

 Semco kit, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit Growth Chart, all 4 characters

This is the Christmas ornament I stitched at the last minute so that Bodhi would not be the only family pet not to receive a Christmas ornament at our extended family Christmas dinner..

I have enjoyed participating in the Smalls SAL this year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent Blog Hop - Day 20

Of all the Santas I have stitched, this one is my favourite, so I chose him to welcome you to Day 20 of Jo's Advent Hop.  He is 'Jolly Old Fellow' from HAED (Gelsinger/Sayetta), and I stitched him between Jan 1 2009 and June 25 2012.  During the year he lives on the wall of my dressing room, and at Christmas (typically from mid-November to 26th December) he moves down to the lounge-room.   This year, for the first time in over 40 years, I have not decorated my house for Christmas, and so this year he is remaining in my dressing room, where he he has the company of 3 L&L Santas, L&L's Oh Christmas Tree, and 3 other stitched Santas.

I enjoy stitching Christmas projects, particularly Santas, angels, and Christmas ornaments.  Over the past thirty years I have stitched well over 1000 Christmas ornaments.  I have kept a few  ornaments (predominantly Santas), but most have been given as Christmas gifts for children.  This tree contains ornaments I made over the years for one family of four children.  Actually, I got a shock to see that this photo was taken 9 years ago, so there are now another 36 of my ornaments on their tree.

I collect Christmas decorations, particularly older ones, and it is not easy for me to pick out just one special decoration to share with you.  So, I have chosen just a few. The first is my vintage 1950's Christmas Tree.  I was so very pleased when I found it about 12 years ago at a charity garage sale.  Each of the branches is like a metal bottle brush, which fits into a hole in a wooden pole that forms the tree trunk.  I decorate this tree with small treasures, many of which have been given to me, or which I have bought when travelling.  The amazing thing is that when I was a pre-teen, my family had one of these trees, and I can recall that I didn't like it, greatly preferring the cut pine trees we had as Christmas Trees in previous years.

This next pic is my 1970s tree.  It was the family tree of a work colleague, and a mutual friend rescued it from a skip when he was moving house following the death of his wife, and after the children had grown up and left home.  I decorate this tree with burgundy and gold ornaments, and I put my gifts under this tree. On the wall behind the tree is a wreath I made, using an old cane base, branches from an old battered tree, and old Christmas ornaments I found in a charity shop.

I do have quite a few trees in my Christmas house, and this next one was made by my partner.  It is my Angel tree, and it is made from doweling, and hangs on the wall from a picture hook.  On this tree are some of the angels I have made, been given, or bought for myself over the past 40 years.  I also have another larger dowelling tree, which I decorate only with Santas.

If I was allowed to keep only part of my collection, it would probably be my vintage Santas.  Here are some of them, in and on the display cabinet. Many of these have been given to me over the years.

Although he has spent only the past few years with me, this Santa has seen a lot of Christmases.  He needed some cleaning up and TLC when I found him (locally, on e-Bay), and I recycled the tatty Christmas tree and piles of gift boxes he was holding, replacing them with the 'welcome' sign I stitched.  He is a bit over 6 ft tall.  I like to think he spent his early life standing outside the toy department of a top quality store, welcoming children at Christmas.  Here he is standing on the landing at the top of my stairs.  If you stood at my front door and looked up, he would be the first thing you saw (last year, that is  - this year he is shrouded in a sheet standing in my craft room, though I intend to pop upstairs now and remove his sheet, so I can enjoy his presence for the next few days, even if I do have to go to the craft room to do so).  To Santa's right (on the door of the linen press) you can see some of my stitched ornaments; on the wall behind Santa you can just catch a glimpse of part of my Christmas jewelry collection; and to Santa's left are some of my Jim Shore Heartwood Creek Santas. 

So, that is the end of my Christmas story for tonight.  All my collection (Santas, angels, snowpeople, reindeer, and Nativities) and I wish you a happy Christmas. I hope 2017 brings for you and your loved ones a year of good health, good fortune, peace and contentment.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My final 'finish' for 2016, and GG Report for December

The final Gifted Gorgeousness Report for 2016 -hasn't that arrived quickly! I thought I had made my last Christmas ornament for 2016, and then my niece announced a new four-legged family member, so I picked up the needle and made this, definitely my final (and my simplest) Christmas ornament for 2016. I finished it last night, just in time for our family Christmas Dinner on Sunday, where I hope I will meet the puppy Bodhi.

Before I went on holidays at the end of November, I stitched the third character on my great-nephew's Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit Growth Chart.  Just Squirrel Nuttal to go now.  I have barely enough fabric left at the top, and may have to adjust the ribbon flourish around Squirrel Nuttal to make it fit on the fabric (I did measure it twice, and thought I had plenty of fabric, but obviously something went wrong with my calculations!). I have bought some blue fabric to add to the top of the growth chart, and I am planning to stitch baby's name and birth details on that.  I will make that a priority for 2017.  My niece wants it finished as a wall-hanging (not framed), and I want to have it all finished up as soon as I can, so I can devote my stitching time to HAED 'Christmas Dreams' in the first half of 2017.

This is the growth chart so far:

I have enjoyed very much being part of the Gifted Gorgeousness group this year, and plan to be back next year.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness Report for November

Here we are again, with the penultimate GG report for 2016. I have a few projects to show.

First, the birth sampler I stitched for my great-niece Annabelle, now finished and framed.  I added some hearts and Annabelle's birth details.  I framed it myself in a white wooden frame purchased from a discount shop, and I had a custom mat made for it.  Annabelle is 14 months old now, healthy and gorgeous, but she had a difficult start to life, spending her first 3 months in Neonatal Intensive Care, and having a number of major surgeries in that time.

 Cicely Mary Barker's Apple Blossom Fairies (DMC)

And here is my progress to date on a growth chart for my great-nephew, 2 year old Angus. A family friend gave my niece the Semco 'Peter Rabbit Growth Chart' kit at her baby shower, and my niece intended to stitch it, but being a new mum who was working as a primary school teacher, and renovating a newly purchased home, she never got around to it.  So, a couple of months ago she handed the chart over to me to stitch, which I was pleased to do for her.  I was hoping to finish it for Christmas, but that is unlikely now.  I will give it my best try, though.  So far I have completed 2 of the 4 pages, with Peter Rabbit and Jemina Puddleduck stitched.  I am about to start stitching the Flopsy Bunnies, and hope to finish that page in the coming week, before I head off on my cruise round New Zealand.  That will leave just the top page featuring a squirrel, and I will then add Angus's name and birth and growth details.  I have organised my sister (Angus's adoring Nanna) to make it up into a wall hanging when it;s finished.  My sister has great sewing machine skills, which I totally lack.

I made a few changes to the Growth Chart stitching.  It was charted to be stitched using half cross stitch for the characters on 14 count Aida.  There were also largeish unstitched areas within the characters (eg all the white areas on Jemima, and the palest areas on Peter Rabbit.).  To me it looked unfinished, and I just didn't like the effect at all.  So I changed the half-cross to full cross, and stitched the 'unstitched' areas.  This meant, of course, that I had to re-kit the design, as there wasn't nearly enough floss included in the kit to allow for these changes.  The floss supplied wasn't identified by number, so I had to guess at the floss shades.  I am quite happy with the colour so far.

I have so enjoyed being part of the Gifted Gorgeousness group this year, and look forward to checking on all the reports for November.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Smalls SAL Report for October

I stitched and framed up this name plaque for a great-niece's 6th birthday in November.  I wanted to fit the stitched piece into a purchased frame, so I stitched it over 1 on 25 count, full cross stitch. Not a particularly good decision, as it's a messy chart with lots of fractionals and outlining stitches which jump across the cross stitches.  To reduce my stress levels, I converted most of the fractionals into full crosses, and sacrificed some of the detail.  I framed it in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame, and while I am happy with the outcome,  I think I will replace the mount with a plain white one (or perhaps a pale lilac one) with just a slightly smaller opening.

Cicely Mary Barker's A is for Apple Blossom Fairies

I wanted to stitch a birth sampler for my youngest great-niece, whose name also starts with A, as a Christmas gift. I already had the floss kitted up for the Apple Blossom Fairies design, so I decided to stitch the design again, this time over 2 on 28 count, and see if I found it any easier than the over 1 on 25 count effort.  The answer was, of course, that over 2 on 28 count was a much better choice.  

It is straight on  the fabric - my scanning skills need some work.
I will add a few salient details, then frame it up - I have a 10" x 13" frame that will suit.

So, that is my stitching effort for the month. I look forward to checking all the blogs - always a pleasant past-time for me.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Happy Dance at my house - and GG Report for October (a trifle early)

I have just finished the final item on my 2016 Stitching List - so I'm celebrating!  Of course, it probably won't mean the end of my stitching for the year - I'm sure that if I put my mind to it, I will be able to find a few more projects to add to this year's stitching list.  I do have another 10 great nieces or nephews after all!

Here is my latest finish, which will be a Christmas gift for a great-niece, after I have found a frame for it. It's not as faded as the picture suggests, and there is no colour variation on the fabric, which is actually antique white.

Cicely Mary Barker's Apple Blossom Fairies, 
from DMC Collections's Flower Fairies Alphabet book.

It is stitched 1/1 on 25 count linen, full cross stitches.  The design was full of fractionals, and I just found that too difficult and frustrating over 1 on 25 count, so I converted most of the fractional stitches to full cross sttches,  Consequently, some of the lovely detail has been lost, but I am happy with the overall effect.  I also added some 'rosebuds' to the fairy's hair, and changed the letter colour from the charted greens to Amelia's favoutite purple.

In the last month, I also stitched and finished an ornament for a niece.

 It is adapted from 'Give Love for Christmas' by Fran Colburn of Legacy Designs. The chart was printed in JCS Ornament Issue 2015. I made lots of changes, so I can just see the designer pulling out her hair and denying responsibility for the outcome! I changed the fabric, all the floss, and the entire message section.  I also stitched the border in 2 colours rather than the one colour charted and did the birds in smyrna cross stitched to help them stand out.