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Cross Stitch Confessions

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Categories: cross stitch

Just some quirky confessions about this hobby we love, in no particular order, written as they popped into my head…

I enjoy stitching outside in the sun, except when it’s too cold to do so. I rarely stitch at night because my concentration isn’t as good that time of day.  I am a very neat stitcher and have gotten many compliments on my stitching (from women who have stitched many more years than I).

I only have one friend who cross stitches frequently and with whom I talk about stitching on a regular basis (cyber wave to RB)…it’s a lonely hobby for one who loves conversing with others about common interests. I do not own a magnifier or a special light or even stitching frames.  I stitch in hand but mostly because I have never learned how to do otherwise.  I don’t railroad my stitches or look for the ‘leading strand’, although I have seen beautiful results with the former.  My DMC floss is on bobbins and not in bags.  I can’t feel the difference between the top needle brands.

I own two pairs of scissors for this hobby, one pair made by DMC and the other pair made by Gingher, purchased at a flea market for $2. I have never purchased an accessory-type item.  The ones I do have were given to me as gifts and are treasured.  I am secretly envious of Honeybee’s needle minder collection.

I have never purchased a kit. On my stitching dream list is this and this and just about everything that’s Hawk Run Hollow.  I rarely buy new charts anymore because my stitching time is mostly limited to my own models but I read The Strawberry Sampler’s newsletter every week to see what’s new and then wish I could buy more charts.  My stash was mostly accumulated during my first fifteen years of stitching and includes many magazines, as I subscribed to several at the time.

I love silk threads and 40-count linen. However, I am somewhat new to this area as well and have not really experimented enough stitching with various silk threads to see what the differences are between the many companies that produce them.  (As a side note, the very generous Robin in Virginia sent me some HDF silk threads and I am still mourning the fact that I discovered them after they were no longer being produced.)  I love the feel of silks and the fact that they seem to knot less than cotton threads when I am stitching with them.  I love the delicate look of a design stitched on 40-count.  I prefer linens with a softer hand…Legacy linen is probably my favorite splurge.

silks

I love stitching flowers, hearts, words, letters, interesting bands and borders. Seasonal type pieces catch my eye.  I love bold colors as well as pastels but not washed-out hues.  Some of my favorite thread colors are The Gentle Art’s Buckeye Scarlet, Mediterranean Sea, Island Blue and Tomato and DMC 154, 470 and all the DMC purples, to name just a very few.  I haven’t designed with all of these threads but they make me happy just to look at them.

buckeye scarletI am a real stitcher, too. I stitch every single one of my models and find mistakes in the process – from my charted design to the combination of colors I chose.  I greatly admire those who can design and have another stitch their design – I have not yet arrived at that higher level.  As a designer, I try to do my very best in my finished product.  I realize my designs are not appealing to everyone.  I realize not everyone can or will stitch on linen.  I realize this hobby can get expensive (silks, linens, specialty buttons, accessories, overdyed flosses, framing, etc.).  But when it comes down to designing, I have to design what I love and what I want to stitch.  I don’t want to emulate someone else – I just want to be me.

I offer these things in full disclosure to prove I am not or do not claim to be an expert when it comes to cross stitching. I have never taken a class, attended a retreat or anything such as that.  Am I saying none of the above will change and that I am content to stay right where I am in my skills set?  Absolutely not.  I hope as time goes by, I will improve more and more and perhaps even learn special skills and techniques I have not yet tried.

What are your cross stitch confessions? I would love to hear them all.

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New Releases

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Categories: Christmas, cross stitch, new releases, winter

Are you ready for some winter stitching?  Winter is definitely the theme in these new releases as well as the hope for peace.

Peace Lights was stitched on 28-count black linen using DMC threads.  The stitch count is 66 x 58 and was finished by my very talented sister, Valerie Leith.  If you buy the chart, you’ll only see this first picture.  I wanted a full picture of the design for the chart but it’s a shame to miss the beautiful flat-fold finish so I thought I’d share a picture of the finish here on the blog.  I know this piece will be a welcome addition to our Christmas decorations this year.

Peace Lights

Peace Lights finish

Winter Peace was stitched on 30-count Weeks Dye Works linen (Aztec Red) using DMC floss.  The stitch count is 152 x 96.  I had the idea for this piece in mind while I was designing A Mid-Century Modern Christmas ornament series.  It has a retro feel just like the ornaments.

Winter Peace

Winter Band Sampler was stitched on 30-count Weeks Dye Works linen (Gunmetal) using DMC threads.  The stitch count is 109 x 193.

Winter Band Sampler

Are you working on any winter stitching these days?

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June Releases

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Categories: cross stitch, new releases, patriotic

I have several new patterns for this month.  The first grouping is called Floral Sentiments and is actually three charts sold together.  They were stitched on 30-ct. Weeks Dye Works linen (Putty) using DMC flosses.  The words are taken from I Thessalonians 5:16-18.  The finishing was done by my very talented sister, Valerie.  I gave her complete license to choose fabrics, charms, trims and ribbons and I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out.  Thank you, Val!

Floral Sentiments

The second of my releases for this month is also several patterns, two patterns in one, in fact.  The grouping is called Patriotic Medley, so named because these are patriotic smalls with a musical theme.  The words from both patterns were taken from the song “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”.  The first words, ‘of thee I sing’, will probably be familiar to most, as they come from the first verse of the song.  However, the third verse of the song is probably not as familiar and that’s where I found the words ‘sweet freedom’s song’.  In case you don’t know it, the third verse goes like this:

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees,

Sweet freedom’s song.

Let mortal tongues awake;

Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

These patterns were stitched on 28-ct. Zweigart linen (Dirty) using DMC flosses and the finishing was done by Valerie Leith.

I dedicated these patterns to Robin Brown, known to most of you as Robin in Virginia.  Robin is an ardent and dedicated supporter of the cross stitch industry.  She regularly visits many cross stitch blogs, actively commenting on many of them and cheering others on in her caring and sweet way.  She is quite a prolific stitcher and supports many designers with her purchases, as well as supporting others who have Etsy shops and sell things online.  Her generosity is unparalleled as she is always thinking of others, sending countless notes and cards to friends and lavishing those she loves with gifts.  And she does it all very quietly, never bringing attention to herself and her kind deeds.  I consider Robin a true and dear friend and if you ‘see’ her out in the virtual cross stitch world, take some time to engage her in conversation.  You will be very happy you did!

Thank you very much for your friendship and encouragement, Robin!  You are much loved and appreciated.

Patriotic Medley

Enjoy these patterns and thanks for visiting!

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New for April

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Categories: cross stitch, new releases, spring

Happy Spring!  Hopefully, it feels more like spring where you live than it does here.  This Friday, three new patterns will be released and they definitely have a spring-like feel to them.

When I first read this quote by Henry Van Dyke, I knew I wanted to try to chart it.  Such beautiful meaning in so few words!  This piece is called Love Stays and was stitched on 32-count Zweigart linen (Sand Castle, Marbled) using flosses from DMC and The Gentle Art.  The clock in this piece is loosely modeled after the clock hanging on the living room wall.  I love the tick-tock of a clock, so comforting when the house is quiet.

Love Stays

The next two pieces were designed to go together but can stand alone as well.  As anyone who has read this blog often enough knows, I absolutely love flowers and can’t keep them out of my stitching.  I also love the meanings behind the flower names and what sweeter and more appropriate sentiments for spring can be there than ‘loving thoughts’ and ‘new beginnings’?  These pieces were stitched on 40-count Lakeside linen (Flagstone) using silk flosses from Classic Colorworks.  They are small, measuring at about 3″ x 3″.

May I present Tiny Daffodil Sampler and Tiny Pansy Sampler…

Tiny Daffodil Sampler

Tiny Pansy Sampler

The lovely framing was done by the Framer’s Nook at Stitch ‘N Stuff in Reading.

Just to clarify, the tiny samplers were stitched with Classic Colorworks silks.  I did not make that distinction on my charts and I apologize, but the silks and the cottons are named differently so there shouldn’t be much confusion.

Enjoy and thanks for your support!

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A Word About Color

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Categories: colors, cross stitch, spring

Spring brings thoughts of color after a winter of a bleak and lackluster palette. This winter was especially so since there wasn’t much snow to freshen up the landscape.  How refreshing to the eyes to finally see the yellows, greens and pinks again.

forsythia

apricot tree blossoms

daffodil I’ve been doing some thinking about color, especially as to how it fits in the world of counted cross stitch. Choosing colors is a huge part in the designing process.  I will admit it has been a struggle for me at times.  There are patterns I designed years ago that still make me cringe because of the colors I chose.  In fact, when I brought one such piece in for framing, the comment was something along the lines of how it would be hard to frame the piece since the colors were all fighting one another.  *Ouch*

Since my motto in most artistic pursuits is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Every artist was first an amateur”), I give myself some grace and then dive into learning more about the area in which I feel the weakest. This is the same way I approach piano practice.  There is always a fix for the weak spots but it usually involves more diligence and focused practice.  The same goes for color.

This winter, since I spend more time indoors and life seems to move more slowly, I pulled out a few coloring books and purposely worked on improving my sense of color. I have always enjoyed coloring and was doing it long before this latest coloring craze. I don’t have any fancy coloring pencils, just the ones Crayola makes.  After choosing a picture, I spent time seriously thinking about the colors I wanted to use.  I learned about tonal colors and choosing colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel to complement one another.  I used a separate sheet of paper to blend several shades of color together for a different effect.  I wouldn’t say that I am now a color expert but I do think I grew in my color knowledge.  On the plus side, it was a very enjoyable pursuit.

coloring

coloring

coloring

(I had some help from a six-year-old friend for this next one.)

coloring

When it comes to cross stitch and color, there are many opinions. I realize in most cases, the choice of colors (the stitched model, the front of a chart) is what catches the buyer’s eye.  I’m sure charts are rejected because the colors used do not appeal to the buyer.  However, I would challenge you to look at a chart and see the other color possibilities.  Some color choices are better than others.  Some patterns are beautiful patterns but the colors may not work together or may not be to your preference.  Some stitchers make conversions that are better than the originally called-for colors.  Honeybee over at The Copper Fox has an extremely helpful post on doing a color conversion. She takes you through step-by-step on changing out the colors in a design.

Another thing to keep in mind is how difficult it sometimes is for designers to provide color conversions in charts. For instance, two of my next three releases were stitched with silks, some highly variegated.  Trying to find a DMC color conversion to put on my published chart is a frustrating exercise.  I designed the piece and stitched the piece with the silks and for me to try to find a comparable alternative is a challenge and truly not that enjoyable to me.  If one does not want to use silks and would rather use DMC, that’s completely fine and even encouraged.  My point in writing this is to say, be brave!  Pull out a color card or your boxes of DMC floss (or your cotton over-dyeds), some different colored fabrics and start gathering together some colors.  You don’t have to do it like I did it.  You don’t have to use any of the materials I used – my materials (floss, fabric) are suggestions.  Once you start seeing it that way, you are free to make changes.  That’s the beauty in creativity.  Make it your own!  Take my pattern and change it up to suit your interests, your room décor, etc.  I love perusing popular cross stitch patterns on line and see what other stitchers have done with them, colorwise.  It is very inspiring to see where other people’s creativity takes them.

Sometimes you will find that you made some wrong choices. I do this often.  Yes, it is a pain to have to rip everything out but diligence always pays off in the end and the hardship is always worth it.  Consider it part of the creative journey.  And as with most journeys, the destination may be the goal, but don’t miss all the learning opportunities along the way!

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New Releases

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Categories: cross stitch, love, new releases

As we await our first true snowfall of the year, I am pleased to introduce you to my newest cross stitch charts.  They will be released this Friday, just as the snow starts to fly.  As I shared before, I am moving to quarterly releases this year so expect the next grouping of designs sometime in March, if all goes according to plan.

My first release is the Rose Queen Sampler.  This piece is stitched on 32-count opalescent linen from Zweigart using two threads from The Gentle Art (Buckeye Scarlet and Cast Iron Skillet), with a stitch count of 107 x 99.  If you want to stitch this chart, you will need two skeins of each floss.  Before designing this little sampler, I had in mind to design a piece that only used red and black and also had something to do with roses.  I love roses but sadly, cannot grow them.  I have tried several times but they always end up dying.  For me, they are just too much work and the constant spraying to keep the beatles away really turns me off.  Years ago, we lived in a trailer home on a 20-acre property.  The couple who rented to us lived in the main farmhouse, a beautiful home built in the 1700s.  The wife’s name was Rose and, appropriately enough, she loved roses.  When I say she loved roses, I truly mean it.  She had over 100 rose bushes around her home, from hybrid teas to grandifloras and floribundas to climbing roses.  They were stunning but she worked constantly to keep them that way.  I loved coming home from work in the late spring to find a huge vase of gorgeous cut roses on our front stoop.  Roses filled her house all through the spring and summer…it was a very special place.  Also in my rose memories is a rose bush my mother had when I was a child.  It was next to our house and was a deep, dark red rose.  I believe it was called ‘Abe Lincoln’ and I loved taking a rose to my teacher when the bush started to bloom.  That was the rose I had in mind when designing this pattern.  I wanted a saturated red for the roses, which is why I went with Buckeye Scarlet.  However, all Buckeye Scarlets are NOT created equal!  Many of them do not contain the deep red I was searching for.  It took a while but I finally found two skeins with the dark red, which was exactly what I had in mind.

The framing was done by the wonderful women at the Framer’s Nook at Stitch ‘N Stuff in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Rose Queen Sampler

The next piece is called True Love and is stitched on 40-count Lakeside Linen (‘Flagstone’), using Classic Colorworks silk (icing and strawberry shortcake), with a stitch count of 74 x 76.  I was designing another piece when I came up with the doily-type pattern that is used in True Love.  It wasn’t working for the original piece so I pulled it out and saved it.  When I opened it later, the words ‘true love’ popped into my mind so I designed them and inserted them, along with a little color in the border, which reminds me of a ribbon running through the lace.  Framing was also done by the Framer’s Nook.

True Love

The last piece for this month is called More Love More Prayer.  The quote is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and is a beautifully-stated reminder to be in constant prayer for those we love.  It was stitched on 32-count linen (‘cream’ by Zweigart), using threads from The Gentle Art, Weeks Dye Works and DMC with a stitch count of 90 x 78.

More Love More Prayer

Right now, I am furiously stitching away so I can get the next pieces in to the framer.  I have stitched and ripped, stitched and ripped and stitched and ripped again a border for the one piece and it is driving me crazy!  First, I didn’t like the design of the border and then I didn’t like the floss color I had chosen.  As much as I originally loved the piece, I am so ready to be done and move on.  I hope your stitching experiences have been much more pleasant.  What are you working on these days?

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New Year, New Plan

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Categories: cross stitch, sneak peeks

Hello and Happy New Year to everyone!  Although I love Christmas and the beauty that accompanies the season, I also enjoy January, with its slower, quieter days and the clean fresh start that comes with a new year.  I’ve been spending some time making business plans and one of my new strategies is to move to a quarterly release of designs.  It gives me more time in between to design and stitch as I’m not constantly preparing and prepping charts for monthly publication.  It also allows my work to be seen more as a whole rather than as one piece here and there, which I believe will give a better picture overall of my designing style.

I have three pieces set for release next Friday and here is a sneak peek at one of them…

Sneak Peek

This one is called the Rose Queen Sampler and uses my absolute favorite red, Buckeye Scarlet from The Gentle Art.

I hope your winter days and nights are peaceful and filled with some quality stitching time.

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Decorating with Pyrex

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Categories: A Mid-Century Modern Christmas, Christmas Open House, Pyrex

As you may know, I designed a series of 12 Christmas ornaments this year with a mid-century theme and titled the series A Mid-Century Modern Christmas.  Part of the fun of designing ornaments is knowing that you now have 12 new ornaments with which to decorate.  This past spring, we bought an aluminum Christmas tree to use as a photographic prop.  After seeing it set up, I really wanted to use it in our Christmas decorations.  However, there is currently no room in the house.  We have plans to convert our breezeway into a library and that would be a good place for it but not until next year.  So….what to do with my ornaments??  I still wanted to decorate with them in a way that had that mid-century feel.  Thus began the wheel-turning in my mind.

I collect Pyrex dishes of all kinds and colors.  Several years ago, my husband arranged them for me on top of our kitchen cabinets.  He grouped them by color and even put plastic containers inside the nesting bowls so each would be seen, rather than disappearing inside one another.  As I was thinking of where to put my mid-century ornaments, the Pyrex collection came to mind.  I took the branches from the aluminum tree and placed them on the cabinets in front of the Pyrex and then I nestled the ornaments all around.

It’s hard to take overall shots of something that is so spread out but here are a few to give you an idea of how it looks…

mid-century ornaments and Pyrexmid-century ornaments and Pyrexmid-century ornaments and Pyrexmid-century ornaments and Pyrex

mid-century modern ornaments and Pyrex

How have you used your decorating smarts in a creative way?  I would love to know!

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New Ornament Releases

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Categories: A Mid-Century Modern Christmas, Christmas, cross stitch, new releases

Hello to you all!  The last four ornaments in my series, A Mid-Century Modern Christmas, will be released tomorrow.  Thanks again to my darling sister Valerie for her beautiful finishing work.  I loved designing this series and am looking forward to doing another Christmas ornament series sometime in the future.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Noel

Noel

For this last ornament, I was inspired by the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas, where Linus and Charlie Brown go to the tree lot to pick out their tree.  We all know that Lucy wanted Charlie Brown to get “the biggest aluminum tree” he “could find, maybe painted pink!” and Charlie Brown certainly had plenty of options.  Even though he ended up choosing a real tree, I was always intrigued by the scene of the crazy Christmas tree lot and all the modern trees and their colors.  It was 1965 and as Linus said, the trees on that lot “fit the modern spirit”….that modern spirit being what we now call mid-century modern.  Here’s the last ornament, Tree Lot.

Tree Lot

And here is the whole kit and caboodle!

A Mid-Century Modern Christmas

I’m looking forward to Christmas so I can decorate with these ornaments.  Still figuring out where to put the aluminum Christmas tree…

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