It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!

As I mentioned yesterday, pumpkins have long been one of my favorite motifs to recreate in fabric, fiber, floss, murals, poetry slams, bronze, slime, skywriting, performance art pieces… whatever. And every year I have plans to stitch up a bunch of pumpkins to  celebrate this time of year. I’ve managed to stitch a few Halloween-themed pieces, but I’ve never been able to commit the time to fully indulge my pumpkin love. But, if I were, it would look a lot like this:

  • Heart’s Content’s, “French Harvest: Cinderella’s Pumpkins” is probably first on my “To Stitch” list. The main thing keeping me from stitching it right now (besides my sad, uninsured, middle-aged eyes) is cost. For some reason, Heart’s Content only releases its patterns in kit form, and I just can’t bring myself to buy more fabric and floss that I already own. Maybe one day… or maybe I’ll just wait for a used version to show up on Ebay.


If I stitched this, I’d stitch “Citrouille” instead of “Pumpkin,” ’cause I’m fancy.

Itty Bitty Trio of Pumpkins

  • And this classic from Bent Creek, “Autumn Row.” I love the entire “In a Row” series and I have a dream of completing one for every season–you know, right after I finish stitching the entire “In My Garden” series by Mirabilia (see progress bar on right if you want a good chuckle). I’ll let you know how that goes, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Autumn Row by Bent Creek

 I love Bent Creek’s “In a Row” series so much, I designed and stitched my own tribute, “Celtic Alphabet in a Row”:

I think we can all agree that my photography skills have improved since then….
  • And finally, this little gem is tied for first place on my “To Stitch” list (hey, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds). I’ve seen so many beautiful variations of “Pumpkins Three” by La-D-Da online that I just can’t decide what colors of fabric and floss I would choose. Indecision, thy name is Kate! Here are just three of the many possibilities:


Pumpkins Three Official Version
“Pumpkins Three,” the official Twisted Threads version
Pumpkins Three from Stitching by the White River
“Pumpkins Three” from Stitching by the White River (blog)
"Pumpkins Three" from the La-D-Da Lovers Blog (
“Pumpkins Three” from the La-D-Da Lovers Blog (

And, last but not least, no tribute to stitching pumpkins would be complete without a shout-out to my friend (and the first person who made cross stitch seem cool), Stitch Bitch, whose August 1, 2007 blog post originally inspired this one. You can see her collection of pumpkin patterns here–she’s got great taste! And I suppose, by extension, I should give a shout-out to Adrienne Martini of for inspiring her.

Have fun stitching those gourds, my friends!



2014 Smalls Challenge — a belated entry for December

Though she be but little, she is fierce...
Bent Creek “Holly & White”

So, my entry for the December 2014 Smalls SAL Challenge is finally done, and, as usual, it’s late (in case you hadn’t noticed). This month I chose a true small — only 32 stitches square — with only two colors — I chose DMC 500 and ecru — and a simple, graphic design that let me spend a lot of time stitching without having to consult the pattern every two minutes. Since I only had the chart, the red button is one I had just lying around in my button tin. It’s probably a little bigger than the design actually calls for, but I’m trying not to let perfect be the enemy of good, as “they” say, and this button is just darling.

This pattern, Bent Creek’s “Holly & White” (from their “One Color” collection), fell into my lap at a very convenient time. I had just completed, at the very last minute, the four Shepherd’s Bush stockings that I stitched for my brother, sister-in-law and my two nieces for Christmas (more about those tomorrow), and I only had a few days left until the end-of-the-month deadline. This design is perfect for a quick and easy Christmas gift. And yet somehow I was still late getting it finished. Sigh.

Looking back at all of 2014, I’m somewhat pleased with my efforts in the Smalls SAL Challenge. I say “somewhat” because, let’s face it, if I were grading on percentages, I’ve only earned 7.5 out of 12, or a lousy 62.5% (it’s 8.5 if you count the “extra credit” small from May — still, that’s only 71%), and I still haven’t finished July’s project, Eileen Bennett’s “Very Victorian… Acorns” (last seen here).

On the other hand, 71% is better than zero, which is where I was headed without the added incentive of participating in the Smalls SAL Challenge. I have not been doing as much cross stitch in the past couple years as I used to do and this group has been a great motivator. I’ve already signed up for the 2015 Challenge. I’ll go over the rest of my stitching goals for 2015 in a later post.

Here’s to a happy 2015 full of stitching goals met (and even surpassed perhaps?)! I can dream, can’t I? Happy New Year!

September 2014 Smalls Challenge SAL

“A Merry Little Christmas” by Bent Creek, my contribution to the September 2014 Smalls Challenge (pardon the hoop-marks)

Well, it’s that time of the month again! No, not that time of the month — it’s time for the 2014 Smalls Challenge update (you can see the logo in the sidebar to the right). This month I took it easy on myself and chose a pattern — Bent Creek’s “A Merry Little Christmas” — that is a true “small.” Realistic goals are one of the keys to happiness, and I don’t want a repeat of the July “Very Victorian… Acorns” debacle. Shudder.

I’ve had this pattern for almost twenty years now, so I figured it was about time to actually make it!

I’ve made some substitutions from classic DMC (this pattern is from before overdyed flosses were so widely available) to some variegated flosses. For the lettering and the centers of the border boxes, I used Weeks Dye Works “Juniper”; for the pine bough I used Weeks Dye Works “Chestnut” and for the pine needles I used Weeks Dye Works “Seaweed.” For the ornament itself, I used (the sadly discontinued) Needle Necessities overdyed floss in color 153, “Razzle Dazzle Red,” and for the yellow ribbon tied around the tree branch, color 161, “Fool’s Gold.” These small projects like this give me a good excuse to use up these discontinued colors. For the outlines around the boxes in the border, I substituted good ol’ fashioned DMC 611.

I’m very excited to have completed at least one new Christmas ornament this year. It’s been quite a while since I’ve added a new cross stitch ornament to my tree.  I have just ordered the new 2014 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue and the special Halloween issue. I can’t wait to see all the new designs and write a review for you all.

GIVEAWAY: as usual, I am giving away my gently used pattern to the first person who sends me a comment or email requesting it. If you are interested, please leave an email or blog address so I can contact you. Good luck, and thanks for reading the blog!

Smalls SAL June 2014 (Better Late than Never?)

Pardon the wrinkles please! I’m on a deadline.

Continuing in my fine tradition of sneaking in just under the deadline of the grace period (or at least what I think is the grace period), I bring you this month’s (by which I mean June’s) entry for the Smalls Stitchalong (SAL) challenge. This is my version of Bent Creek’s “EduCATed,” a sweet little chart I bought eons ago and have been meaning to do ever since. It combines two of my all-time favorite things: cats and books. Together at last. And a punny title! Who could ask for anything else?

This pattern has two personal connections for me as well. First, the cat in the pattern reminds me a lot of my adorable, big beastie of a boy cat, Barnaby. Here he is in all his glory:

The Amazing Barnaby
Could I be more handsome?

I took it as a sign from the cross stitch gods that the name of the floss for the cat’s body was Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Barn Grey.” “Barn Grey” for my grey Barnaby. Serendipity.

Sadly, lately, I spend more time watching that television in the background than I do reading. But I do enjoy old-fashioned hardcover books like the ones in “EduCATed.” My current obsession is collecting all of the Coralie Bickford-Smith Penguin editions. They’re repros, not vintage (obviously), but she uses contemporary colors and styles to capture that nineteenth-century Art Nouveau look beautifully. Here’s a pic of her first series, some of which you can also see in the background from one of my previous blog entries:

Coralie Bickford-Smith books, first set
So beautiful… and they will all be mine one day…

So that’s it for today — short and sweet, with some beautiful hardcover books at the end. Seriously, check out the whole collection — it’s amazing.

Update July 27, 2014: In case anyone’s interested (and, I suppose, in case anyone’s not, too), I made some floss substitutions for “EduCATed.” The green book (second from the bottom) and the green in the green-and-gold book (third from the bottom) are two different (very different) dye lots of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Dried Thyme.” It’s hard to believe they’ve been sold under the same color name. For the collar and the lines on the book second from the bottom, I substituted “Chesapeake” and for the cat’s eyes I substituted “Olive,” both by Weeks Dye Works. I chose “Olive” because it was a better match for Barnaby’s eyes. For the pages in the books, I substituted color #120 overdyed floss by Needles Necessities.

GIVEAWAY: If you would like my gently used chart for “EduCATed,” post a message below or send me an email and I will send it to you. Thank you for checking out my blog!

Bent Creek Black Kitty

Bent Creek Black KittyIn celebration of Halloween, I’ve worked up this little design from Bent Creek, “Black Kitty” on 40-count sand linen with two strands of floss over two. I like the nice, thick effect this “overuse” of floss creates.

The cat has been done in DMC 310, classic black, but the rest was worked with Gentle Art Sampler Threads. To create a “halo” effect around the cat, I stitched around the edges of the cat in concentric circles. I don’t know if it actually shows in the final product, but I would still do it again to avoid, for this particular design, that horizontally-oriented variegated look.

Because I am making this into an ornament, I “designed” a little matching pattern for the Bent Creek "Black Kitty" backback — basically the same outline and background as for the “Black Kitty” pattern with the word “Boo!” (on the right). It’s a little surprise for anyone who checks out the back of the ornament.

And here they are together side by side:

Bent Creek "Black Kitty" Front & Back

And in the process of sewing up the two halves for final finishing:

Bent Creek Black Kitty Sewn-up, Front
Bent Creek "Black Kitty" Sewn-up, Front

Bent Creek Black Kitty Sewn-up, Back
Bent Creek "Black Kitty" Sewn-up, Back

Now if I could only find my polyfiber fill and twisted cord maker… maybe they’re hiding as part of a Halloween prank they’re playing on me. Trick or Treat!

Sun and Moon Lettering

As promised in yesterday’s post, today I worked on finishing the lettering for the two Bent Creek designs I just finished. I wasn’t crazy about the lettering for the original designs for a couple reasons: first, they were backstitched (not my preference for lettering), and, second, they said “Full Moon Rising” and “Here Comes the Sun.” Yerp.  And I mean that.

First, shouldn’t that be “Bad Moon Rising”? Second, could someone please get that Credence Clearwater Revival song out of my head? And, while you’re in there, could you take care of that Beatles song too?

So, I changed the patterns into mini-language lessons. And, since I only know a few words in other languages, and since there was limited space, here’s the new version of “Full Moon Rising,” which I am renaming “Lune Moon Luna”  (the French, English and Spanish words, respectively, for “moon”) for reasons which should become obvious shortly:

Lune Moon LunaAnd here’s the corresponding “Soleil Sun Sol” (to match the above, these are the  French, English and Spanish words for “sun”):

Soleil Sun SolI love these! And I can see them being hung up next to each other in a child’s room. Wouldn’t that be cute? Perhaps one of my future nieces or nephews…

Update 12/25/2013: Here are the Gentle Arts Sampler Threads and Weeks Dye Works substitutions I made if no substitution is indicated, I used the recommended DMC floss colors):

  • DMC 221 — Weeks Dye Works “Brick”
  • DMC 420 — Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Brandy”
  • DMC 646 — Weeks Dye Works “White Light”
  • DMC 647 — Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Slate”
  • DMC 840 — Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Walnut”
  • DMC 924 — Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Brethren Blue”
  • DMC 934 — Weeks Dye Works “Juniper”
  • DMC 3362 — Weeks Dye Works “Kudzu”
  • DMC 3828 — Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Brandy”

The Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night

About a million years ago–OK, really only ten years ago–I saw these two Bent Creek patterns in the June 1998 issue of  Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine.  They were called “Here Comes the Sun” and “Full Moon Rising,” and it was love at first sight. I can’t explain it, but I’ve always loved patterns with suns and moons. Pumpkins and sheep are my other faves.  I went right out and bought the fabric for them and then they sat around in my stash for almost ten years.

But no longer! I proudly present the completed “Here Comes the Sun”:

Here Comes the SunAnd here, at long last, is “Full Moon Rising”:

Full Moon RisingBecause the designs are so deliciously “primitive” (i.e. there’s not a lot going on), I decided to add a little visual interest by using variegated Gentle Art Sample Threads instead of good ol’ DMC. I don’t think they were calling for many hand-dyed threads back in 1998, but I really think, in particular,  they make the sun and the moon look more realistic and colorful. If you want to know what GAST I substituted for DMC, let me know and I’ll post my suggested substitutions.

Tomorrow: the lettering!