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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

For Funsies: Gift Giving

I wonder how surprised you would be to find out that I have hardly any needlework that decorates my home. Most of what I do, I give away. There is always a new baby, a wedding, or a birthday that warrants the opportunity to give something stitchy to a loved one.

Sometimes I grumble about it. How many pieces I am working on, how fast or slow a project is going, what projects are waiting in the wings...but the truth is I really love doing it. And for the most part, people seem to enjoy the things I make for them as well. There is something about handmade gifts that mean more than a board game or book or CD. It makes me happy that people proudly display the things I make for them at home and in their offices. Warm and fuzzies....that sort of thing.

I like to think my gift giving is a little more special than most. First of all, it tends to be unique and quirky. I am a pop culture freak and I enjoy giving gifts of non-traditional designs that reflect that. People who see it tend to be really surprised and impressed that you can stitch a picture of Lucille Ball or quote Darth Vader in humorous and beautiful way. I also build my pieces, opposed to buying kits. I purchase or acquire a free pattern, I buy  the fabric and embroidery thread individually, and I frame everything myself. Most of it has been self taught, so there have been hits and misses but in the end, there is something awesome that has been created.

Overall, I am grateful for my love of this art, the people who support and admire it, and those that are gifted with it. Its a process, from conception to gifting. I enjoy every part of it. And I like to be a prime example of why cross stitching is not a dying art, how you can create items that are new and relevant, and turn the heads of those who think they know otherwise.

This isn't your Gramma's cross stitching!

Blog Hop #13: My Stitchmas Wish

The holidays are right around the corner and gift exchanges are happening everywhere you look. If an amazingly magical Stitchmas Santa were to fly overhead and bring you one stitching wish, what would it be?

I didn't have to think much about my Stitchmas wish, so this was Ottlite! 

I really need one of these. I currently try to do stitching at night using a regular floor lamp but find it not worth the trouble. It is heavy and big and because it uses regular bulbs, it is HOT. I like to sit on the couch and watch television with my family but the light is not very focused so it is quite the distraction for others in a dark room. I also have a small Ottlite with a magnifying glass that comes with a small tabletop stand and can be clipped onto a scroll bar or floor stand, but the light is not enough to focus on large pieces art and my chart at the same time so it is really slow work to stitch and keep referring to the pattern for reference.

The main reason I haven't purchased an Ottlite is because they are so dang expensive! For the work I do, it probably would be worth the money to invest in one. I would definitely be a more prolific stitcher and make progress on projects if I could stitch at night after I have come home from work. Particularly in the winter when it gets dark at 5pm.

I suppose I will break down and spend the $200 eventually. But who knows? Maybe this will be the year Santa brings me one!! Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog Hop #12: Giving Thanks

When it comes to the stitching part of your life, what are you most thankful for?

Hmmm. Good question. I guess I am most thankful for the fact that I am able to stitch to the extent that I do. Crafts can be expensive - any kind of crafts. It is unfortunate, because people are crafty because they love it. I don't think I have heard anyone say, " Oh, great. I have to be crafty for several hours today. What a chore." Right? Sometimes I wish I had MORE time to stitch. But I also recognize there may be people who have the time to stitch, but just don't have the funds. I am a pretty giving person, so if I ever get the chance, I'd would  and could share my immense stash wares. Just so someone can get a little joy.

I guess the other thing I am grateful for is how much my friends and family like my work. I bring smaller projects to work so some people ask me questions and want to know more about it - what does it mean, who is it for, that sort of thing. I have a blog, so I keep a lot of others updated on my WIPs and finished projects. People seem genuinely interested in what I am doing. I also give most of the things I make away as gifts. It is what I do, I enjoy it, and I like to share it. For the most part, people are very thankful and appreciative of what I make them (mostly framed pieces). I think there was only one time I had someone tell me directly,"I don't like cross stitch art, so don't make me anything." I was taken aback just a little bit because besides being a bit hurtful, I thought it was incredibly rude. I guess not EVERYONE likes things cross stitched, but jeez. I am sure there is a better way to express it than saying I hate it so don't bother making something.

Overall, I am grateful I have picked it up and enjoy it so much. It keeps  me busy when I am bored and gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride when I can display it in my home (or in other's homes). I probably will do it forever...or until my eyes stop working. I enjoy it too much to give it up!
Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WIP: Sea Goddess

My current WIP (work in progress) is a Joan Elliott design called "Sea Goddess" (you can see a finished one here) I am stitching for my daughter. I started it in the Spring, made some good progress on on it, and promptly ignored it practically all summer.It was just so dang HOT! Anywho, I recently picked it back up again and am currently working on her hair. Here is my progress so far:
To tell you the truth, her hair (something I was looking forward to) is giving me fits. There are three colors of browns in there and those empty spaces? Those are where beads will go. At some point I miscounted  and instead of frogging it, I tried to adjust for it. To someone else, it may not evident. But of course *I* am disappointed and frustrated with the mess I have made. The two things I do have going for me is, 1.) there is no backstitching in her hair, so it is easy to adjust and hide, and 2.) I do believe at this point, it is only in her hair I miscounted and will not affect the overall design. I was told by other stitchy friends that the beads should come last and those spaces should be left empty (something I didn't know when I started this project) but they also said it is perfectly fine to place beads over the stitches if I need to. That makes me feel a little better. So I will finish up her hair and get working on the seaweed that is weaving through her locks. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blog Hop #11: My unusual or most interesting stash acquisition to date!

I lead I pretty uneventful, stitchy life. Not much excitement happens when embroidery thread and Aida fabric  is concerned. However, I was given the surprise of my life this past summer. I had spent the day away from home, attending one of my son's weekend excursions. I had driven a good part of the day as well, so I was doubly exhausted and maybe a little cranky.

I walked in my house and found a large crafting box sitting on kitchen table with a note on it. It was from my cousin...she had been garage sale shopping and had come across this box and immediately though of me when she saw it, so she bought it for me. I put the letter aside, not thinking much more than, "Aww, that is sweet." and proceeded to pick up the box and put it on the floor (it was big and I am short, so I couldn't look in it).

The first thing that struck me was that it was heavy. It also smelled like campfire. Weird. And then I took the lid off. This was what I found inside:
Omigosh! Tons and tons of fabric, a couple of embroidery hoops, a scroll frame, 2 sets of Q-snaps, dozens of cross stitch books, and other odds and ends. It was a goldmine of cross stitch goodies! I was floored and immediately called my cousin to thank her. She told me she had found a few books at first and the lady having the sale wandered by and asked her if she stitched.
"No, but cousin does. She would love these!"
"Well, I have more in this box."
My cousin said there was so much stuff - she didn't know what half of it was! - that she knew she had to get it.
"How much?"
"I will give it all to you for $5.00."
And my cousin swooped in and bought the whole lot before the lady could change her mind.
And THAT is my most interesting (and unusual!) stash acquirement...ever.

Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My First Project: Awaiting Baby...

 I began cross stitching when I was very young. It began how most of you may have started - a pre-teen bugging an adult (in this case, I am pretty sure it was my step-mother because she was awfully crafty) to buy you some type of art project to complete. Most consisted of a small kit that included thread, needle, fabric, and maybe a goofy plastic frame. It probably looked similar to this:
As I have become a more *ahem* "seasoned" cross stitcher, I am quite sure these small and not very pretty pieces of art were specifically created to introduce this craft to beginners. I mean, would YOU put that in your kitchen or give it as a gift? More importantly, would you want it? I am not gonna lie...not me. Uh, uh.

My first real project was a large piece I worked on when I was pregnant with my second daughter. My first pregnancy did not go so well and I lost the baby due to some complications. So, when I became pregnant a second time, I was watched pretty carefully and that meant quite a bit of rest and relaxation. I am sure I decided to start a project for her early in my pregnancy because I think if I had known she was going to be a girl, I would have stitched something a little more pink. But I selected a cute pattern with a sweet saying and got to work. 

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I developed toxemia, a potentially dangerous condition that many first time mom's contract. Needless to say, I was on bed rest for 8 weeks before I was induced to deliver. I remember very clearly working feverishly on her gift to make sure it was done before her arrival - swollen feet propped up, snuggled in a blanket on the couch. I don't remember when exactly (I blame pregnancy brain. It is a real condition - look it up!), but I did get it done eventually. Here is the final result:
This is in its original frame, but I removed it at some point to press and trim for re-framing. Seems my framing skills were lacking (hey, it was my first project!) back in the day and after it being in storage for so long, I felt the need to "restore" it and mount it in a prettier fashion.. It is still waiting for my attention, but it is in a safe place for now and remains one of my most beloved projects I have ever completed.

And so begian my passion for counted Aida and colorful floss, beads and metallic embellishments. I have been cross stitching steadily for over 15 years and as long as my eyes hold out - gonna continue to do so. I started this blog to share my stories of my work, give advice and helpful tips, and perhaps be a resource for you as you complete your first (or twenty first!) project. So if stitching is your "thang", come on in....the fabric is fine.