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, 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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Smalls SAL - and almost a big happy dance

I have a few smalls to show this month - five finished Christmas ornaments, and one yet to be made up.  The big happy dance starts when I finish up the final ornament .  It is the last Christmas ornament on my stitching list (and gift list)for this year, and will be my 40th ornament stitched in 2016.

So, the finished ornaments. They all have the same Santa, but different initials. The Santa initials have appeared frequently in my stitching this year, and I really enjoy stitching them. The chart is in LA's Alphabets Galore booklet, and I did make a few changes - 'mending' the missing stitches near the arm, adjusting the face and beard a little, changing floss colours, and removing the tree in Santa's sack.  I also slightly changed some of the letters.

The first three are for three young sisters.

The other two are for a young brother and sister.

The unfinished ornament is for one of my nieces, who lives about as far from me as you can get without leaving Australia.   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. I plan to finish this one up in the next day or so.  I think this one may be my favourite of all the ornaments I have made this year.

I look forward to seeing what everyone has stitched this month.

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Jo's Birthday - Happy Birthday, Jo!

Jo from Serendipitous Stitching has given me the year 1988 in her Birthday Blog Hop.

Here's what was happening in Jo's life in 1988:
In 1988,  Jo was 22.  She continued with her career in Insurance, making friends at work and enjoying the social life a busy office brings.  She also decorated her new home and enjoyed being able to choose her own colour schemes and finally having a bedroom without her little sister's pop posters on the walls.  Jo's new bedroom was blue with gold stars and moons.  She also went to lots of concerts with the Reading Rock Festival being the main one that year.  

In 1988 I also moved house - into the house in which I currently live, though I have to admit it wasn't my first house, and I was a good 2 decades older than Jo. I can recall moving in with little furniture - just beds, a refrigerator, and four kitchen stools.  Gradually other items were added, and now the house is full to overflowing with furniture and 'treasures' (precious to me, but not valuable).  It was also the year that cross stitch entered my life (and soon became an addiction).  I decided to make lavender sachets for my female relatives (mother, 3 sisters, 2 sisters-in-law, niece, and aunt), and was looking for a way to personalise them.  I wandered into a craft shop, and came out an hour later with a metre of 14 count Aida, an assortment of DMC floss, and a Vanessa Ann cross stitch book that included in its pages a floral alphabet.  It took me a full week to stitch the first letter, and I do recall resorting to coloured pencils to mark off my chart, to help me see where I had stitched.  By Christmas I had made personalised lavender sachets  for everyone on my original list, and a good few extras.  I had also started a long love affair with cross stitch, which has greatly enriched my life, provided many gifts for family and friends (and sometimes casual acquaintances), and decorated the walls of my house.  1988 was a good year for me!

Home Sampler designed by Linda Gillum, Dimensions

This is one of my favourite stitched samplers.  I wish I could have got a clearer pic, because I am aware that this is not the best quality.  I stitched it over 2 on 18 count Aida, so it is quite large. I stitched it in 1994, and it sits on my dining room wall, with a Australian floral alphabet sampler I stitched 10 years later.

I hope you are enjoying your special birthday, Jo. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gifted Georgesness Report for September.

It's been a mixed stitching month for me - some happiness, and a lot of despair!  First the good news.

I have stitched two more ornaments , and started a third.  I still have some beads to add, as well as the finishing into ornaments.  They will be Christmas gifts for three delightful Irish-Aussie sisters, children of one of my sister's friends.

And the bad news.  The moral here is 'pride goeth before a fall'.  I am talking of my progress on HAED Christmas Dreams (chart, fabric, and most of the floss bought with birthday money). I was steaming ahead on Christmas Dreams, till disaster struck.  Here is the story:

This is where I was last month. Row 2 finished (12 pages complete).

I had met my stitching target for the year, but decided to keep stitching.  By the  first week of this month I had almost 15 pages completed, and was feeling very pleased with myself. 

And then I noticed that the top of page 3 wasn't matching the bottom of page 2.  Major panic, and an hour of counting stitches, and checking charts, and some questionable language and hair pulling.  Then the penny dropped - I had repeated the last three stitches on each page in the third row of pages - so I was now 6 stitches out - and it did matter! In my defense, I will point out that because I am stitching sideways, the shaded area on each page, indicating the repeated stitches, didn't coincide with the actual stitches repeated.  But I got it right when stitching the first 2 rows of charts - so why would I then forget when stitching row 3!  (Hint:  advancing age and receding memory.) So, for the past 2 weeks, I have been unpicking my work,  Very chastened.  I still have about 1/6 of a page to go.

Today it looks like this:

You can see the unpicked area (it looks dirty).  When it is all unpicked, I will have just the first 30 rows on page 3 stitched (the first page being a partial page).  So, in the end some progress - but not reflective of my stitching (+ unpicking) time, or the angst it caused me!  I am afraid this is the final appearance of Christmas Dreams for this year.  He is going upstairs for a rest until 2017 - just as soon as I have gone through all the chart pages, and cut off the 'repeated' rows - to make sure that I can't make the same mistake next year.

I hope everyone else had a less stressful stitching time in the past month!  And if you have any hints for cleaning up the unpicked area, please pass them on to me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness Report for August

Have you noticed how quickly the 15th of each month comes around?  It always catches me by surprise.  Perhaps it's related to my advancing age (I have celebrated a birthday since the last GG report).  It's a very simple report from me this month, as I have worked on only one project - my HAED Christmas Dreams.  Christmas Dreams qualifies as a GG project because I used birthday money to buy the chart, fabric, and most of the floss.

So, here is where I was on Christmas Dreams on July 15:

 And this is where I am now - I have finished another 4 pages, and the second row/column is now finished:

I am very happy with my progress on Christmas Dreams.  I have now stitched 20% of the design, and I have met my stitching target for 2016 - 12 pages. I'm revising that target - I now hope to get another row/column stitched (ie another 6 pages) this year.

An on-line friend asked me today about my Christmas stitching, and I took this photo to show her how many Christmas ornaments I have stitched this year, 34 in all.  It's amazing how stitching a few at a time can add up to a sizeable number quite quickly.

So, that's the end of my report for August.  I am looking forward to visiting the blogs of other GG members, which I always enjoy,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Christmas Dreams - Progress

Just a partial page to stitch, and row 2 (or should that be column 2?) will be finished.  I have now stitched almost 20% of the picture - I am very pleased with that.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christmas Dreams - page finish

I finished another page of Christmas Dreams today.  This is my ninth page, and I do think this page was the quickest to stitch - it took me just one week.   I enjoyed stitching Santa's hair/beard and his red coat.  So, this is how Christmas Dreams looks tonight:

I also made another little crochet hat for my little great-niece, using a partial ball of super chunky wool I found in my wool bag. The wool came in a bulk lot, from a garage sale, some time ago.  Once again I didn't have a pattern, and just stitched it 'by feel'.  It worked up so quickly I was surprised.  I was watching a movie when I started, and I finished stitching just as the movie finished. When I finished off the last stitch I sawe that I had used all but about 30cm (12") of the wool, so I think it was meant to be.  I made a white rose to brighten up the hat, and found an old button to finish off the flower.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gifted Gorgeousness - July post

Here we are again - it's time for the Gifted Gorgeousness Report, once again.  This month I finally started working again on my HAED Christmas Dreams (chart, fabric & most of the floss bought with gifted money), I made five Christmas ornaments to give as Christmas gifts, and I got my crochet hook out again, to make two beanies for a friend's birthday, and another poncho and hat for my great-niece.

Christmas dreams had been relegated to the craft room since the end of April following a death in the family.  I moved it back downstairs to my stitching chair in early July, and I am very happy to say that I have now completed my eighth page, and hope to have the ninth one finished by the end of July.  Here's where I was in April:

And now:
Big excitement - Santa's ear has appeared!

My ornaments:


Crocheted poncho and hat (modelled by Annabelle):

And my crochet beanies:

So, a very mixed bag this month! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Crochet and more crochet

I do have the crochet bug at present.  It is so very many years since I did any serious crochet, but I just can't seem to get enough of it right now!  I had forgotten how rewarding crochet is.  I love watching my projects grow so quickly.  Another bonus is how easy it is to unpick unwanted rows or add a few extra.  This came in handy with the pink/purple poncho I made for my great-niece recently.  As you can clearly see, it looked as though Annabelle had borrowed her big sister's poncho.

So, I unpicked the neck edging and added some extra rows, to bring the poncho further up onto Annabelle's shoulders.  I made an opening at the back so it would still easily fit over Annabelle's head, and I moved the flower up a little.

I was so pleased with my efforts that I decided to crochet another poncho and cap for Annabelle.  This time I used a twisted double-treble (twisted treble for US readers) stitch for the body of the poncho and cap. I made this one shorter at front and it is more like a little cape than a poncho.  Because I like making flowers, I added a rose to this set too.

A friend whose long hair is usually worn up in a bun complained that she couldn't find a beanie that was large enough to fit comfortably and come down over her ears.  So I decided to make one for her, in her choice of black wool.  I found a pattern on-line by, called Stay Stylish Crochet Beanie that looked promising.  After a little trial and error and several fittings) I made a beanie that fitted my friend very well, and she is very happy with it.  I had to make a few changes to the pattern - adding extra rows to both the body and the band.  I also added a crab stitch edging and a flower.  I would have had a different coloured flower and possibly a contrasting rather than matching band had I been making this for myself, but my friend wears predominantly black, and black is what she wanted.  Here is the finished beanie with band turned up all round (my friend will turn it up at front only when wearing it).

I have promised my friend another beanie once she decides on a colour, and I may make one for myself.  And I have a yen to make a little summer dress for Annabelle's birthday in September - so I'm not putting my crochet hooks away quite yet.  However, I have no current crochet project, so I have retrieved Christmas Dreams from the craft room and set it up by my stitching chair.  I have made a start on page 8 (which is actually page 13, since I am stitching it sideways) and hope to finish this page before the end of this month.  Here's where I am tonight.

And that's all from me tonight.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Five Little Finishes - & Smalls Report for June

The year is half gone, and I am pleased to see that I am more than half-way through my 2016 Stitching List. I'm focusing on the positives, because this has not been a good stitching month for me. I had not a lot of time available for stitching, because of an assortment of circumstances including my rheumatoid arthritis playing up, a very bad chest infection that lingered for much longer than I would have thought possible, and a trip away in the van that overlapped the chest infection - not my best decision!  Anyway, that's all in the past now, and I'm planning to knuckle down and be more productive in July.

I did manage to stitch and finish up five Christmas ornaments.  Two more initial Santas (adapted from LA's Alphabets Galore booklet) - for two much loved four-legged family members (if you have good eyesight and a flexible imagination, you might see beaded bones on the back of the ornaments).

Another "Memories Keep Christmas In Our Hearts" ornament (adapted from the design in 2015 JCS Ornament Issue) for a special friend and her husband.

Baby's First Christmas ornament for a new honorary great-niece (born yesterday).  The teddy is a freebie from the DMC site - I changed all the colours.

And a Christmas ornament for the granddaughter of an old friend.  This little Annabelle lives in New Zealand.  The stocking design is an old favourite, adapted from a chart in LA's Christmas Caboodle leaflet - I changed the size, colour, & pattern of the stocking, parts of the doll's design, and the rest of the stocking contents.

So, that's it for June.  I'm hoping July will be a more productive stitching month.  Though I have to admit I have a want to do some crochet, and it's likely I'll give in to the impulse, so my stitching may have to wait a little longer.