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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A new little finish

I stitched this Santa for my youngest sister.  I have made her an ornament for each Christmas since 1984, and this will be the 2012 ornament.  The Santa design is from The Faces of Santa Afghan chart in LA's Christmas Keepsakes hardcover book (1990), the second book in the Christmas Remembered series.  Although the designer is not directly credited, I believe it to be Carol Emmer. I stitched this design on a piece of fine linen I bought (as my first non-Aida fabric purchase) in 1985.  I now remember why it's still sitting in my fabris stash - this linen is a devil to stitch on!  I usually love stitching on linen, but this particular piece is so loosely woven (despite the 32 count) that it got the better of me several times.  The rest of the (fairly large) piece of fabric is going straight back to the bottom of the fabric pile!

I have all five of the stitched Santa Faces from this chart, courtesy of a Round Robin many years ago. I made them up as diamond puff ornaments, and they are part of my Christmas display each year. If you click on this pic to enlarge it, you'll be able to see them - the five white puffy diamond shaped ornaments towards the top of the linen press door at the back of the pic.

My next two projects will be Santas as well - tiny Santa stockings for my niece Ciara and her fiancee Johnny.  Too many Santas is never enough for me!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Jolly Old Fellow is now finished - hooray!  Honestly, there were many times over the past four years when I thought that would never happen!  He is a gorgeous Santa, if I do say so myself.  Now my biggest problem with him will be choosing the mounts and frame, and finding the right place to hang him (he needs to be viewed from a distance for best effect).

My stitched Jolly Old Fellow measures 57.5cm (23") high by 45.5cm (18") wide. He's stitched over 1 on 22 count fabric.   It took me13 months of solid stitching (180+ hrs stitching per month) spread over 4 years.  This is the largest project I have ever stitched.  I doubt that I will ever attempt anything this size again.

So, here are the things I liked best about stitching a HAED design:
  • there are no fractional stitches
  • there is no back-stitching
  • there are no blended (tweeded) threads
  • the shading is incredibly detailed
  • the stitched design is life-like when viewed from a distance.
And the things I found most difficult:
  • the sheer size of the project
  • keeping 88 threads under control
  • the amount of floss changes and confetti stitches in many parts of the design.
I'm really looking forward to having Jolly Old Fellow as part of my Christmas decorating this year.

If you'd like my HAED Jolly Old Fellow chart (it's unmarked and in as new condition), I'd be happy to send it to you.   I certainly won't be stitching it again!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

... and now there is just ONE ...

I've finished page 34 and am now working on page 35 - the last page I have to stitch on Jolly Old Fellow.  Here's the progress pic at the end of Page 34:

I can hardly believe that I will have Jolly Old Fellow finished in a couple of days. I thought that day would never come!  When I put him on the frame in January I fully intended to stitch 10 pages and then put him away till 2013, but I am so pleased I changed my mind and kept stitching.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

... and then there were two ...

I've finished page 33 of Jolly Old Fellow.  Just two more pages to stitch now.  I am starting to really believe that I'll have JOF finished by the end of this month.

Lesleyanne asked if I'll be stitching another HAED.  There's a short answer to that - NO, never, no way!  This project was a true labour of love for me - with the emphasis on labour.  When I started it, I really had no idea what I was signing up for.  I suppose the fact that there were 36 A4 pages of charts should have given me a clue - but, no! It took a while for the penny to drop!   I have learned so much about myself while stitching this project, and much of what I have learned has surprised me.  Here are some of the insights this project has given me:
  •  I honestly thought I enjoyed stitching. In fact, what I really enjoy is putting in those last few stitches in each project. I enjoy starting new projects and the 'finishes' more than the stitching!
  •  I've always been a one project at a time stitcher, and I tend to get a bit obsessive once I start a project, often stitching when I should be doing other things - like sleeping or housework.  I usually took from 6 -12 weeks to finish a big project (like L&L Angel or Santa).  What surprised me was the stress I felt when I finally realised (after 1 month's solid stitching resulted in just one page finished) that even if I stitched nothing else all year I was not going to finish JOF in the year. I decided to stitch exclusively on JOF for several months each year and then put it away till the next year, so I could stitch other projects and have some finishes.  And I decided to call every page of JOF stitched a 'finish'.
  • I found that I will compromise my standards.  The first thing to go was the linen fabric - it lasted just one stitching day, and I replaced it with 22 count Aida, which I found much easier to work with.  The next thing to go was the full cross stitches using one thread.  I replaced that with continental stitch using two threads.  I preferred the look of the cross stitch, but from a distance the continental stitch looks just as good (and gives a much brighter appearance), and it takes half the time. And using the loop method of starting halved the number of ends I had to stitch in.  And I have to admit that there were several times in this project when it all got too much, and I got lost in a sea of confetti stitches.  Hard as it is for me to admit this, when that happened I resorted to abandoning the chart, and just filling in the missing stitches with whatever floss seemed to go best.  And if you're wondering why my stitched design is two stitches wider than the chart, I'll just say that at the time it seemed easier to add two stitches to each row than to pull out the  6900 stitches I had just stitched in order to correct an error that even the designer wouldn't have been able to detect. 
So, though I am pleased I persevered with stitching Jolly Old Fellow, and I think he is quite stunning, I can't really say that I enjoyed stitching him.  I will, however, really enjoy hanging him as part of my Christmas display,and I will even find a spot for him to hang for the rest of the year - probably in my craft room.  I think my next big project will be something more manageable, like a Vermillion Santa. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I've been tagged ...

Beth tagged me with a getting to know you game.  Here's the easy part - answering Beth's 11 questions.  The harder bit is tagging 11 other bloggers, with my own set of 11 questions - that part might have to wait for another day!

1) Ice Cream, cake or cookies - which do you like best and why?
Cake (the richer and creamier the better)  - though if chocolate is an ingredient in any of the above, I'll give them a go!

2) When you stitch, do you sit at a table or on a recliner, or just where?
I usually sit in my recliner, with my faithful stiching companion (Miss Maddie, my 13 yr old Maltese) on the footstool of the recliner.  But I have been known to stitch in other places - like waiting rooms, buses, the passenger seat in the car, a camp chair, on planes.

3) Do you like to travel and if so by car, bus, train or plane?
Yes - all of the above, but most often by car, towing a campervan.  I love touring through the country and have travelled over most of Australia over the years.  I've also done some travelling in planes (to Britain, Europe, USA, Asia, New Zealand) - loved the countries but hated the long plane trips!  I quite like travelling by buses - you get all the sights without any of the responsibility.

4) Where would you like to visit the most?
Good question.  Canada and Alaska are high on my list - also Egypt and Antarctica.

5) If you have children, do they do any crafts and which ones?
No children - but I do have a 12 yr old friend who comes to stitch with me often, and I have spent many hours over the years painting,  beading and stitching with my nieces.

6) What is your most favorite memory from childhood?
Christmas.  I am the eldest of 6 children with just 9 years between oldest and youngest, and we all shared a bedroom (unheard of in this day and age, but I grew up in the 1950s and things were different then - and it was a huge bedroom!).  As I remember it, our bed-time was an early one - probably 7pm or so, certainly it was still light outside in summer (and Christmas comes in summer here).  I have lovely memories of us all lying in our beds on Christmas Eve singing Christmas carols and relishing the anticipation of Christmas morning, until we eventually drifted off to sleep.  Then in the morning we'd be up at first light to rush into the lounge-room and each find our pile of Christmas gifts, which were opened all together and before any thought of breakfast.  Pandemonium and total disorganisation - but so much fun!

7) Do you have a dream goal? Either in stitching or in life?
I'd love to say 'yes' to this one.  But really, I just take things as they come and roll with the punches. 

8) Do you have a group of friends that you stitch with and if so, how often?
No.  I often think it would be nice.

9) Do you like music, and if so what is your favorite kind / musician?
I love music, but I never really moved on from rock'n'roll.  I'm an Elvis fan (still!), but I also love Adele, Diana Krall, Michael Buble, country and western, and Irish music.

10) What is your favorite color, and do you wear it often?
Green - but I have only one green shirt, which I usually wear only on Paddy's Day.  I'm more likely to wear navy blue or black.

11) What is your favorite season and why?
Spring - because that's when the wattle trees flower, and the Australian country road-side is a mass of yellow wattle flowers, often on self-sown trees.  Truly beautiful to see.

Another one down, just three more to go

I have just put in the last stitches in page 32 of Jolly Old Fellow.

Just another three pages i.e. 7100 (+/-) stitches to go, and JOF will be off the frame and into a nice bath!  I'm already dreaming about sorting out all my JOF floss and returning the unused floss to my floss folders.  I always enjoy that part of the ritual when I finish a large project, but this time it will be a major undertaking, since there are 88 floss colours in this project, much the largest number I've ever used on one project.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Counting down ... 2 pages stitched, 4 to go

It's such a good feeling, stitching on my final row of Jolly Old Fellow charts.  The fact that the pages are just 31 stitches high is an added bonus!  I've finished page 31, and I also stitched page 36 (all 14 stitches per row!) and a few adjoining stitches on each row from page 35.  So now I have just four pages to stitch - happy days!

I didn't even bother to take the fabric off the frame for this pic - it seemed a bit like over-kill.  So, this is where I am now:
I hope to be back with page 32 completed before the end of the coming week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm getting excited ..

I have finished pages 29 and 30 of my HAED Jolly Old Fellow.  Yay!  It's now almost 94% finished!!

Sorry about the wonky pic - I had the fabric draped over the back of the lounge chair for the photo, as you can probably see!

I now have just six pages to stitch.  But the good news (for me) is that the pages are just 31 stitches high, not the usual 99 stitches.  And page 36 is just 14 stitches wide.  So, really in all it's only equivalent to less than two full pages of stitching.  So, I am on track to finish JOF and have it at the framer by the end of July.  There'll be happy dancing at my home when that happens!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another page finished ...

Page 28 of my HAED Jolly Old Fellow is now done and dusted.  Happy me!  I'm straight to work on page 29 ...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June WIPocalypse Report

Wow!  I can hardly believe that we are already in June - this year is disappearing way too fast for me. 

I have had quite a good stitching month.  I have once again been working on my HAED Jolly Old Fellow, and have all but completed page 28 - just a small area of solid colour to stitch.  Here's the pic I took tonight.  I left it on the frame for this pic, so it's just the bottom rows of stitching this time.

I also made up the six Christmas  ornaments I stitched in April, and stitched and finished two more ornaments in May.

I'm hoping to have pages 29 & 30 of JOF finished for next month's report.  That will leave me just 6 very short pages to stitch. Yay!