Smalls SAL Challenge, Belated November Project

Shepherd's Bush Christmas Treat Bag kit
Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Treat Bag kit, my version, for the November 2014 Smalls Challenge

Above is my belated submission for Stitching Lotus’s 2014 Smalls Challenge (see the icon on the right), the Christmas Treat Bag Kit by Shepherd’s Bush. I think I’ve been late for about 80% of these monthly challenges, and I have yet to finish the July Challenge, Eileen Bennet’s “Very Victorian… Acorns” Sampler (last heard of here). On the plus side, focusing on results instead of failures, I have completed many of the month’s challenges, and I have done more cross stitching in this past year than I have in quite awhile. There’s nothing like a little external motivation, even if it is voluntary.

I grabbed this kit on my way out of town to go spend Thanksgiving with my family in northern California (due to my teaching schedule, I had to leave at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving day).  I bought this kit over a decade ago and it was stored in a plastic bin with all kinds of other kits I bought years ago. When I was looking for a quick kit at the last minute, I couldn’t believe how many old kits full of unrealized potential were in this box. I have, literally (and I don’t use that word lightly) dozens of old cross stitch and needlepoint kits–many I had forgotten about completely.

The whole process was like an archeological dig as I painstakingly worked my way through layer upon sedimentary layer of ancient fabric and floss artifacts. Each kit seemed to inspire one of two polar opposite reactions: “Wow! I had forgotten how pretty this pattern was! Why aren’t I stitching this right now?” and “What was I thinking when I bought this?” It’s funny how our tastes evolve over time — I remember being head over heels with some patterns that I can barely stand to look at now.  It’s a good time for destashing.

Overall, this little Shepherd’s Bush kit was a quick stitch except for the beading (again, I had forgotten how long that takes), and the results are quite nice. The kit calls for the design to be made into a little treat bag (see below), but, honestly, I can’t imagine using it as a bag so I’ve decided to make it into an ornament instead.

Shepherd's Bush Christmas Treat Bag
Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Treat Bag

As you can see, the kit comes with a star and moon charm too, so that should make a nice addition to the ornament’s decor. It also comes with two satin ribbons, but within twenty minutes of being open in a house filled with five kids under eight years of age, the ribbons mysteriously disappeared. You don’t exactly have to be Sherlock Holmes to solve that “crime.”

Giveaway: if you would like my used “Christmas Treat Bag” pattern and instructions, leave me a message below letting me know, and I’ll send it along. I will also include the leftover floss and beads (the floss is just DMC, so it’s easily supplemented, and there are plenty of beads left to do the entire design again). This is a cute and easy pattern and there’s still time to finish it before Christmas this year, or the next, or the next…

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!

Magazine Giveaways!

Sorry I’ve been behind in my postings lately, but, unfortunately, sometimes one has to make earning a living a priority over one’s stitching. A sad but true reality.

Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to do anything besides finish grading the final set of research papers I just received, I cleaned and reorganized my home office. My home office has always had something of a split personality — half Victorian scholar’s cubby-hole, half knitter’s storage unit — but lately it’s taken on a kind of manic, schizophrenic, oKnitting Traditions Fall 2012ut-of-control quality that makes it nearly impossible for me to get anything done. Needless to say, on most days I find it hard to work up the energy or the passion to tackle this ravenous beast, but when I’m confronted with a stack of (largely uninspired) papers to grade, I often find myself excited to do all kinds of things that would otherwise be unthinkably dull.

However, my procrastination is your gain, my friends! I have discovered that I have duplicate copies of two very nice knitting magazines, the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits and the Fall 2012 issue of Knitting Traditions (pictured below and above, respectively). I don’t know what I could have been thinking about in Fall 2012! Anyway, one or both of these can be yours if you leave a comment below with one interesting observation about your own (bad?) knitting habits.* Good luck to all!

Jane Austen Knits Fall 2012

*Special note to international readers: I will try my best to find an affordable way to send your magazine to you, but I reserve the right to cancel this giveaway if the cost of postage becomes prohibitive.

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch, Part V: Mother’s Day Edition (plus a giveaway!)


Mother's Day by Ewe & Eye and Friends
“Mother’s Day” by Ewe & Eye and Friends

Culled from the very best of the interwebs, I bring you:

  • Adventures in Knitting (thanks to martinimade for pointing out this little gem)
  • Yet another article on how knitting can benefit your health. This one recaps CNN’s “This is Your Brain” episode about the cognitive benefits of crafting in alleviating depression, stress, and anxiety. Here’s a recap of the recap on the Huffington Post UK. It’s like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” but with links about knitting.
  • Apparently, the Washington Post has discovered knitting. Here’s an interesting article about a program to teach prisoners how to knit as part of their “resocialization” process. The photo gallery is worth a look; they sure look like they’re having a lot of fun.

On a personal note, it’s Mother’s Day here in the United States, the day we celebrate all the mothers in our lives and thank them for all that they’ve done for us. My own mother passed away from breast cancer in the spring of 1997. Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of her and I think about all the time she was robbed of by dying at such a relatively young age. I especially feel her absence now that she has grandchildren and I know they would have brought her so much happiness, happiness she richly deserved.

To honor her here, I’ve posted the photo of the last Mother’s Day gift I ever gave my mother, a stitched design is called “Mother’s Day” by (the now sadly defunct) Ewe and Eye and Friends. Pardon the shadows, bad lighting and photography issues — my mother passed along many talents to me, but unfortunately photography was not one of them.

GIVEAWAY: Since this beautiful design is no longer in print, it’s very hard to find, but I am offering my used pattern in good condition (not the actual stitched version, obviously) to anyone who wants it. It would make a great gift for your mother too. Leave me a comment below to let me know you’re interested. Thanks for reading my blog, and please take some time out today to thank the mother(s) in your life!