Smalls SAL 2018, January Edition

All You Need is Love January 2018
“All You Need is Love,” a freebie from Drawn Thread worked in random silks from my stash. Fabric is 28-count Belfast linen in “Blush.”

While it may already be February, I have just completed stitching for the January Smalls SAL Challenge run by Stitching Lotus (see link on right). And I got it in just under the wire! The design is “All You Need is Love,” a freebie from The Drawn Thread. The original design called for Gloriana Silk Threads, which I have found nearly impossible to find here in Southern California. So, I just went with the silk threads I currently have in my collection and through in some DMC embroidery floss and perle cotton just for kicks.

The ultimate result isn’t quite the color combination I would have chosen (too bright, too loud) if I had gone by my preferences instead of what was available in my silk thread collection, but I’m happy enough with the result. Once finished-finished, this will make a fine gift for my nieces; this will make four years in a row that I’ve stitched them a heart-themed design for Valentine’s Day. Here’s a little peak at the others:

Now that I think about it, my nieces (E. and L.) would probably prefer the brighter color combo (why do I keep wanting to call it a “color flavor combo”?). It’s much more vibrant.

I’ve already picked out my Smalls SAL design for February, a pretty little blackwork biscornu with an acorn design. Stay tuned for all the cross stitch excitement!

Cyber Monday: Stitching Edition, or We Needle a Little Christmas Right This Very Minute*

Yesterday I offered some ideas for knitting gifts and today I’ll be offering up some needlework treats. Finding needlework gifts is a little more difficult since the gadgets and paraphernalia are so much simpler, cheaper, and lasting. For instance, usually, there’s no need to buy new floss with every project like there is to buy new yarn, and if you’re like me, you have enough patterns, linens, and flosses to last you through to the end of the Ivanka Trump administration (shudder). Still, I doubt a gift certificate to The Silver Needle or 123Stitch (my new favorite–every pattern also lists the necessary fabric and flosses so you can order them all at once. Heads up, Silver Needle!) would go unused or unappreciated. Best of all would be to buy a gift certificate for your LNS (local needlework store). Shop local!

Before I present the list, I’d like to add that I did try to find needlework gifts for the many of you out there who do not celebrate Christmas. To say the process was frustrating is an understatement. If you are not at least culturally Christian but want holiday-themed designs, I’m sorry to say that you are going to have a difficult time if my searches are anything to go by. Of course, not all of the gifts below are explicitly Christmas-themed, but if any of you have any ideas where else to look, I’d love to hear from you.

Here goes…

  • At the top of every stitcher’s list this year has got to be the new set of flosses from DMC. You can read my review here. As of the time of this blog post, most of the stores were still taking names for the waiting list, but let’s hope that situation breaks soon. Even DMC doesn’t have any available until January 2018.
New DMC Colors 2017
And yes, like Veruca Salt, I want it now, gold box included.
  • While Katrinkles products are usually marketed at knitters, I think stitchers would enjoy their ornaments, buttons, and other little wooden treasures as well.
  • In keeping with the wooden ornament theme, one of my favorite stores is Red Gate Stitchery. Susan Fitzgerald, the creator of Red Gate Stitchery, says that her goal was to design “a line of cross stitch accessories in unconventional materials like wood, leather, and acrylic…. combining the traditional art of cross stitch with unexpected and modern materials.” The pieces are, in fact, “fun and easy to stitch” (you can see a blurry picture of the flag of Ireland key chain/memory stick fob I made for the 2017 Craft Month Challenge below the pictures of some of her Nordic-inspired Christmas designs). Trust me, these few pictures don’t even begin to do justice to jewelry, buttons, pendants, pictures, floss holders, and other bits and bobs they offer on their Etsy store.

Craft Month Keychain with Irish Flag 002

  • Of course, if you’re looking for fancy embroidery scissors, thread keeps, thread winders, and other assorted beautiful (but not strictly necessary) cross stitch gadgets, you should really check out Kelmscott Designs. These gadgets would make lovely little extravagances for someone you know who cross stitches but you’re pretty sure they have all they need.

Well, that’s it for now. Frankly, this was a difficult post to write. There simply aren’t a lot of cross stitch-inspired gifts out there. If you are considering treating the cross stitcher in your life, you might be better off just going with a gift certificate to the LNS. Take him/her out for a nice lunch and some floss-shopping.

*The Management apologizes for all the recent Christmas puns. Those responsible have been sacked. Mynd you, m00se bites Kan be pretty nasti … 

**We apologize again for the fault in the post-script. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked. 

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!!

Drawn Thread We Give Thanks
Drawn Thread, “We Give Thanks” (stitched in 2000, framing by yours truly) — apologies for the fuzzy photography!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers out there! And a very happy Thursday to the rest of the world! Wherever you are, it’s good to remember to be grateful every once and a while, and to thank out loud the people, places and things that make our lives worth living.

So if you’ll pardon me getting personal for a moment–thank you to my brother, Bill, and my sister-in-law, Karen, and two the world’s most talented, beautiful, amazing, fun, intelligent, feisty, and joyous nieces in the world (not that I’m biased), Ella and Lauren (Lolo). And to my friend, Deborah, and all my friends and family all over the country. You’ve really come through for me these past few months, and I am truly grateful.

Since this is a knitting and needlework blog, here are some of the things I am grateful for in that world–the continued popularity of knitting which has made so many resources available to all of us, and especially the superheroes behind Ravelry who make the knitting world hum. If you’re not already on Ravelry, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am especially thankful to the helpful and supportive people of Knit Picks, who have published three of my knitting patterns this year: Tree of Life socks, Kitty Mitties, and another which is coming out next week (stay tuned!). Their Independent Designer Program (IDP) is a great way for beginning designers to get their first break, as it were.

I am also grateful for the new DMC colors and the continued success of my favorite needlework designers.

I am also thankful for my best blog friend, Stitch Bitch, who is not only an inspiring and prolific cross-stitcher, but is also wicked smart and funny.

And thank you for my handful of readers! Without you, I’m just shouting in the dark.

Chessboard Design in Progress

Well, so much for my own personal NaBloWriMo… I should have known: November is the absolute worst month for a college teacher to take on new goals. OK, maybe December is worse, but November is a close second.

Anyway, enough self-flagellation… today I’m updating you on all the progress I’ve made towards completing one of my goals, arranging for a model stitcher for my cross stitch chessboard design. (By the way, does anyone know why spell-check doesn’t like the word “stitcher”?) The design is a basic chessboard with sashiko-style squares and borders. Here’s a sample square:

Craft Month Challenge Sashiko Box Cover 001

I’ve been working on this design on and off for ten years. Seriously. Ten frickin’ years. But now I’ve decided that it’s time to stitch or cut floss, as they say. Well, nobody actually says that but me, but you get the gist. I realized that if I waited to do the model stitching myself, it might be another ten years before it gets done.

Last year around this time I did some research on how to find model stitchers and I discovered a couple things: first, stitchers are among the kindest and most helpful people in the world (a special thank you to Jo Gatenby of X’s and O’s who not only responded to me personally but also took the time to give me lots of really specific tips and insider information); and second, there are basically two places to go if you are a newbie looking for reliable model stitchers. The first is the Yahoo group (I know, I know, aren’t Yahoo groups so 2003?) Model Stitchers International, which is where I “met” Jo Gatenby and other designers who gave me a lot of helpful advice. It’s pretty quiet most of the time, but I did get an almost immediate response when I posted my questions.

The second is the Facebook group, Embroidery Model Stitchers and Designers. It’s a closed group of 500+ members, but you can ask to join or ask a member to invite you. It’s very welcoming as long as you stick to the rules (like no advertising, no off-topic conversations, treat everyone with respect, compensate everyone fairly) and moderately busy. There are about 1-2 posts per week calling for model stitchers and about 1-2 updates every week from model stitchers doing work for designers in the group. Don’t worry, it won’t clog up your feed.

If you know any other resources for finding model stitchers, let me know. I’d be happy to test them out and pass along what I learn. Thanks!

So, long story short (too late!), I’ve sent out feelers to both groups and I’ve already gotten a couple nibbles! Yeah! I’ll keep you updated on the design. Wish me luck!

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s some new DMC, and I’m feelin’ good!

New DMC Colors ChartBig news, stitchers! DMC, one of the most popular cross stitch embroidery thread manufacturers, has just released 35 new colors! Yeah, it’s like Christmas in November! Crikey, it’s like Christmas in November! It’s November, for floss’s sake! I’d better start stitching and knitting! Who’s idea was it to start blogging every day in November? Oh, yeah, that was me.

The new flosses are all numbered from 01 to 35, which is a little weird to me, since I’m used to my DMC floss coming in numbers of three and four digits only, but I think I’ll adjust (that’s a joke, by the way). They are not replacing any of the old colors, just adding new ones, which brings the total DMC collection to 500 even. And, yes, I have every one. And, soon, these will be mine too. Oh, yes, they will.

New DMC Colors 2017
And you can even get them in a super cute gold box!

These are the first new colors in four years, which is great, but I’m still getting used to the old colors and I can probably count on one hand the number of patterns featuring  the 2013 colors that I’ve stitched since their release. By the way, in researching this blog post, I found it extremely difficult to follow the trail of new and discontinued DMC colors. In particular, it was frustrating that the DMC site doesn’t have a master list somewhere. Are you listening, DMC?

In fact, until I started poking around to write this post, I didn’t even realize that some of their colors had been discontinued several years ago. Mercifully, I found this handy-dandy chart on someone else’s site (sadly, I now can’t find the site again or I would definitely give credit where credit is due — you, sir or madam, are a beacon of light in the darkness, and grateful stitchers everywhere thank you for your service):

 

New Number Color Name Old Number Old Color Name
3813
Blue Green, Light
504
Blue Green, Very Light
732
Olive Green
731
Olive Green, Dark
3326
Rose, Light
776
Pink, Medium
782
Topaz, Dark
781
Topaz, Very Dark
3760
Wedgewood, Medium
806
Peacock Blue, Dark
740
Tangerine
971
Pumpkin
407
Desert Sand, Dark
3773
Desert Sand, Medium

But back to the latest additions… In short, while all new colors are welcome, the new set makes three great contributions to the DMC line-up that are worth pointing out:

  • there’s a nice set of grays that don’t have a purple (or any other color) tinge to them. Just a straightforward mix of white and black. Anastasia Steele would approve.
  • there are more options in the purple range, particularly reddish-purples
  • there are now many more yellowy-green and greeny-yellow options. Although why they needed to add another shade of “Nile green” (whatever that is), I’ll never know. I think I’ve had my skeins of 561-564 and 954 since far back into the last millennium and never ever used them. Oh wait, there was that one disastrous Chinese dragon project. What the hell was I thinking? (I was young, it was the eighties, and the the color wheel hadn’t been invented yet).
Chinese Dragon Cross Stitch
Clearly, we hadn’t heard of the iron either.

I’m also fond of the new mocha browns and the oranges (because, you know, pumpkins), although they do remind me of some of the old colorways. In particular, the browns remind me of the 838-842 range, but then, those have always been some of my favorite browns, so OK. (Full disclosure: like every other stitcher in North America, I am still awaiting my very own set of the new colors, so I am writing this post based on the pics on the interwebs).

A more thorough and informed discussion of all the new colors is available (from someone who has seen the threads in person) on Lord Libidan’s blog. I’ve been out of the cross stitch loop for a while now, so I wasn’t familiar with Lord Libidan, but I will definitely be following his work from now on even though  He is, according to Mr. X Stitch, the “Jedi master of video game cross stitch.” I love that many of his designs create 3D robots and Transformers and lots of other characters I don’t know precisely because I’m not a member of the gaming community (I have enough trouble keeping up with the communities I am a member of). However, you don’t have to be a gamer to know that cross stitch desperately needs an infusion of youthfulness and trendiness in order to thrive in the same way that knitting and other crafts have been.

Cross stitch finishing, of course, has always had an element of 3D (ornaments come instantly to mind), which brings me to an uncomfortable final thought: I wish more contemporary female designers were getting the kind of attention garnered by these two “manbroiderers”  [Yeah: no granny count! Yuck: why do men need their own special label anyway?]. Seriously, I looked. But I will save my extended thoughts on this subject for a later post. After all, winter is coming and the long, dark night of NaBloWriMo is full of terrors.

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch — Part the Fifteenth

Well, we’re only five days in and somehow I’ve managed to miss a day during my own personal NaBloWriMo. I could say it’s because I was getting so much grading done, but… I think you see where this is going.

  • Guy Fawkes
    The Guy himself

    Remember, remember the fifth of November… these Etsy shops sell Guy Fawkes cross stitch patterns in the style of V for Vendetta. And here’s one from Sew and So which offers a little history lesson while you stitch.

  • And if you hate doing Kitchener Stitch, here’s a tutorial from Interweave Knits on an alternative. After all these years, I’ve made my peace with the dreaded stitch but I’m still eager to try out this technique which seems to work kind of like a three-needle bind off. Bonus: this includes a link to some free sock patterns from their magazine.
  • A funny riff on the stages of grief with “The 7 Stages Every Knitter Goes Through” from the LoveKnitting blog. Don’t worry; it ends with Joy.
  • The next featured item on Stephen Colbert’s Covetton House: Vicuna Royal.
  • Some adorable Mochi Mochi patterns.
  • Tea at Bletchley Park and a chance to see their famous museum collection of vintage knits while learning about the women who helped break the Nazi codes during World War II? Yes, please.
  • The new Alexander McQueen Fall 2017 collection features outfits with Jacobean sampler motifs (à la Merry Cox or C.A. Wells, for example). I swear that I own some of the patterns they borrowed ideas from. Scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page.

That’s it for today everyone–happy stitching!

 

Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, almost… but we’re definitely close when the annual Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue comes out. I’ve looked forward to these issues every year since the mid-1990s, and I own every single one. I even have a loosely prioritized wish list of ornaments from the yearly issues that I’d like to stitch one day. But, frankly, as each year passes I’ve become less and less excited about each issue, and I’ve added fewer and fewer recent patterns to my wish list.

I think my enthusiasm has waned in part because I haven’t been keeping up with the latest in cross stitch as much as I used to and in part because a lot of the designs have started to seem like they have a “been there, done that” quality to them. This issue just didn’t seem as vital (in all senses of that word) as past issues.

However, that’s not to say that there weren’t many bright spots, including some newcomers (at least to me) that I hope to follow in the future. Cross stitch definitely needs some new blood.

The first grouping is called “Frosty the Snowman” (by the way, shouldn’t that be “Frosty the Snowmen”?). I’m partial snowman designs and my two favorites are ” Frosty Friends” by Blue Ribbon Designs (which probably would have “popped” better if it had been stitched on a slightly darker fabric) and “Hats Off to the Holidays!” by SamSarah Design Studio. OK, first I complain that the designs aren’t taking enough risks, and then I pick the two most “conservative” designs of the bunch. Go figure.

The second grouping is “The Friendly Beasts,” featuring ornaments depicting mostly birds (cardinals, a partridge/robin twofer, and even a penguin) as well as a sheep, a deer, and a surprisingly unChristmas-like dragonfly (see cover photo above). My favorite is “Red Bird” by Elizabeth’s Needlework Designs; second favorite is “On the Runway” (deer with a red scarf) by Snoflake Stitchery (it’s taking me every ounce of my strength not to put the “w” back in “Snowflake,” but damn my unwavering commitment to accurate citations!). I am usually a sucker for all sheep designs, but even though Amy Brueken’s “Rocking a New Holiday Hat” had a sheep wearing a chullo (a chullo! yeah!), the sheep just looked a little lumpy to me.

Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue 2017 Here Comes Santa ClausThe third, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” is a pretty good bunch and the finishing on Mani di Donna’s “Prim St. Nick” is fantastic; it’s an off-center pillow and the hanging cord runs through two small thread bobbins. Again, my favorites are “Santa 2017” by Needle Bling Designs (in photo, upper left) and “Ho Ho Ho” by Angel Stitchin, a simple, off-center Santa face with a puffy Hercule Poirot mustache worked with Rainbow Gallery Wisper Thread and the words “Ho Ho Ho” surrounded by snowflake buttons. I’ve seen similar patterns before over the years but this one is really well done–bright and cheery (in photo, bottom center).

The fourth grouping, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” is, like its title, a kind of catch-all category. There’s an ambitious “Quartet of Country Ornaments” from Always Time to Stitch, for example, and,  for some reason, there’s a dragon in a Santa hat hanging from a sign that says “Balance.” Huh? Unexpectedly, there’s even one ornament with no cross stitch at all, a gingham wool oblong. It’s cute but I don’t know what it’s doing in this issue. My favorite is another very simple, straightforward design, “Warm Hands, Warm Heart” by The Little Stitcher, two red mittens with snowflake designs which reminded my of knitted mittens (on the cover: left hand side, center).

Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue 2017 Joy to the World“Joy to the World” offers several designs incorporating the word “Joy” and some others with phrases like “Believe,” “Halleluia,” and “Peace.” The weakest design in the entire issue is Faithwurks Designs’ “They Followed the Star” which is just a plain circle with a star button and the backstitched words–you guessed it–“they followed the star.” Most were a little too religious for my tastes, but I liked the Renaissance tone and the finishing of “A Savior Has Been Born” by My Big Toe Designs (see photo, center left) . “Beaded Joy” by Gracewood Stitches and ” Modern Nordic Ornament” by Ink Circles (love Ink Circles! see photo, top center) are both bright, colorful, ornate, and, well, joyous. Time out: “Modern Nordic Ornament” is neither modern nor Nordic. Discuss.

The sixth grouping “Jingle Bells” is one of the strongest and includes some blackwork and hardanger which work so well in Christmas ornaments. Particularly beautiful are Blackwork Journey’s ” Silver & Gold,” Patricia Ann Designs’ “2017 Christmas Bauble,”and Giulia Punti Antichi’s “Little Purse” (see cover photo, lower right). I’ve long been a fan of Giulia Punti Antichi–their designs look like no one else’s–but I’d especially like to mention whomever did the finishing for this piece. It’s exquisite.

“O Christmas Tree” highlights designs featuring rabbits on snowmobiles. Just kidding! I wasn’t that excited about these offerings although the finishing on Gentle Pursuit Designs’ “Mannie & Zeb” was really cute. The top and bottom of the triangle-shaped ornament was covered in little gold jingle bells. “Hardanger Tree” by Lisa LeAnn Designs (both design and finishing) was just too much and made me rethink my “hardanger and Christmas go together like Stewart and Colbert” philosophy. I do admire that it was different and new, however.

To me, this issue saved the best for last. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” had a great combination of traditional and contemporary designs and colors. I could see myself stitching most of the designs on this page. A special shout-out to Turquoise Graphics & Designs for their “Rustic Noel” which used unusual (at least for Christmas designs) colors like brown, aqua, mustard, and rust and finished the ornament as a kind of gift tag with a copper wire hanger with multicolored beads (by the way, the other great gift tag-style finishing in this issue is Swallick Stitchery’s super cute “Santa’s Coming”). I’ve never heard of TG&D before, but I will keep an eye out for them.

In fact, I’d like to revise my earlier pronouncements: the greatest benefit of the annual Just Cross Stitch ornament issue is that I learn about what’s new and upcoming in the cross stitch world, and that’s not at all a bad thing. We just need a lot more of this in our community.

My top five, in no particular order:

  1. “Rustic Noel” by Turquoise Graphics & Designs
  2. “Little Purse” by Giulia Punti Antichi
  3. “Warm Hands, Warm Heart” by The Little Stitcher
  4. “Modern Nordic Ornament” by Ink Circles
  5. “Silver & Gold” by Blackwork Journey

I’d love to hear what some of your favorites are too!

 

 

 

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.

hearts-content-french-harvest-e1509642157758.jpg

JBWDesignsFrenchCountryIVPumpkin
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”:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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 (laddalovers.blogspot.com)
“Pumpkins Three” from the La-D-Da Lovers Blog (laddalovers.blogspot.com)

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 martinimade.com for inspiring her.

Have fun stitching those gourds, my friends!

 

 

Happy Halloween 2017!!

So, I’m still working on “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!” but I thought I’d just do a quick post today featuring this piece I stitched last year as part of the Smalls SAL Challenge 2014, “Rotted but not Forgotted” by Plum Street Samplers from the 2012 Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue. The last time we saw this piece, it looked like this:

"Rotted but not Forgotted" by Plum Street Samplers

 

As part of National Craft Month last March, I finally finish-finished it into a gravestone-shaped standalone, with a lot of assistance from Twisted Stitcher’s amazingly detailed finishing instructions (this is “The Cube”). Now it looks like this:

Since the design is supposed to look like a tombstone, I finished it in a tombstone shape with some wilted-looking flowers on top. In my version, I used Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in “Carriage Black”, “Adobe” (light variegated salmon color), “Cornhusk” (light green) and “Banker’s Gray,” and the fabric is 32-count Vintage Country Mocha linen. I love the mottled look of this fabric and the muted green/grey color combinations which just scream decay and aging. I can’t believe I found a fabric that matches these wonky colors.

Speaking of decay and aging… this stitched piece is riddled with minor errors where the stitches are off by one linen thread. This is perhaps most obvious at the very top of the design between the decorative trapezoid (???) with the skull and wings and the dark gray outline; where there should be a full stitch between them, there’s only half-a-stitch. My sad, uninsured middle-aged eyes find it difficult to navigate between my stitching and watching TV, which I do almost always while I stitch, and I need much better light than I used to. Overall, though, my first cube finish went well with only a few minor hiccups.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Tomorrow, the pumpkins!

April 2015 Smalls SAL — Special Apology Edition

First let me offer apologies for not keeping up with the blog as well as I should. A combination of a stressful semester teaching and a general pessimism about the state of my academic career left me with, simultaneously, too much to do and too little motivation to work on the blog. Again, many apologies to my dwindling number of faithful readers. Your support and interest in my assorted ramblings matter a great deal to me.

Second, let me offer apologies to those of you who are checking in from the 2015 Smalls SAL Challenge. I’ve not been participating very consistently (or at all) so far this year, but I’m hoping this month will turn things around.  Here’s this month’s entry, “Winston the Snowman” by The Trilogy:

Because he's fancy, that's why!
Because he’s fancy, that’s why!

I’ve had this chart and the button charms for almost twenty years now (yikes!), along with the chart and charms for the companion piece, “Cromwell the Snowman.”  I plan on stitching his buddy Cromwell later this year as part of the Smalls SAL. I switched the color of his jacket (Weeks Dye Works “Lancaster Red”) with the color of his mittens (Gentle Art “Tarnished Gold”); you can see the called-for color combination here. For some reason I can’t explain, I just preferred a red jacket to the mustard color. The other threads called for are WDW “Deep Sea,” “Onyx,” and “Whitewash,” and Gentle Art “Nutmeg” and “Old Blue Paint.” Any bets on how long it will take me to finish-finish this?

Speaking of finish-finishing, here’s the small I stitched for February that I never got around to posting (bad Kate!); it’s “Antique Hearts” by Charland Designs (another chart, this time with charm and threads, that I purchased twenty years ago (double yikes!):

I stitched this ornament as a Valentine’s Day gift for my two nieces, Ella and Lauren (hence the initials on the back), and finished it in typical pillow-style, which is practically the only style I know. This is the first time I added beads along the seam and I lucked out finding the matching white ribbon in my stash. It came out pretty well, if I do say so myself, and the girls liked it, which is what counts the most.

I hope to be back on track soon with the blog, which should be a lot easier now that the semester is over. I hope you will all stay with me — I have some exciting new plans for the future! Happy stitching to all!

Giveaway: If you would like the pattern for “Antique Hearts” with some of the leftover hand-dyed floss, leave a message below and I will send it to you along with another complementary pattern from Charland Designs.