Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Stitching Review

Let's recap 2008. Over the next day or so I'm going to be thinking about what I need / want to accomplish in 2009.

2008 Completed:

Suz Christmas Pillow


Mirabilia’s Titania, Queen of the Fairies

Oriental Poppies

12 Beau Geste Vintage Ornaments

Cranberry Sampler


Dimension's Christmas Stocking

Victoria’s birthday present (no picture)

3 Catherine Coleman Ornaments

Heirloom Drawn Thread Sampler III

Pat Mazu Stocking

Sue Reed's Get to the Point ***Of note because I haven't had a framed picture up until now.***

I also completed several projects for my ANG Master Teacher Program, including designing and stitching two sizeable designs and designing some others. :-)

Goals to carry over to next year:

Finish the Lavender Gift Box.
Work on machine embroidery Christmas village.
Continue work on the MTP. There are two large designs that I have to finish designing and stitch, as well as all the continuing education.

I'm going to look through some of my patterns and see what else I have that I want to stitch. Very exciting!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blog testing...

Ok - ALL that work just to add a Category area on the right. Whew!

The gist is I can't have an auto-updated labels area because I host my own blog while using blogger software. I figured out a workaround, which is basically adding links to the categories I want to highlight. People can also use the above "search" bar if they want to read about something in particular.

What a pain. Hours of wasted stitching time. *sigh*

A Stitch Each Week - Nobuko


This fun little stitch gives a beautiful smooth woven look to the canvas.

To easily shade the design, the darker areas were worked first. Where the darker stripes jut down into the lighter areas the stitch was worked down into the area. Next the medium areas were worked in horizontal rows while skipping across the back of the darker areas. Occasional stitches were skipped to allow for lighter shading. Lastly the light thread was used to fill in the purposely missed stitches to give that extra shading.

Sample stitched in one strand of Appleton's Wool on 18 count canvas. Design from Amanda Lawford's Royal Santa with stitch guide by GeorgaDee MacLeod. Stitch diagram by Summer Truswell.

A Stitch Each Week - Beaty Variation

Years ago (really, YEARS) I published a weekly column called "A Stitch Each Week". The name has always stuck with me... I still love neat stitches so I'll start it up again.

A new stitch diagram, a stitched sample, and some color ideas. I'll try to do one a week. :-)

Beaty Variation -

This quick stitch is stitched with a row of five diagonal Gobelin stitch over five threads, followed by a column of five tent stitches.

In this sample the "fold" in the cloth is purposely compensated along the line to break up the pattern, as well as being stitched in the extreme shades of purple. When shading, focus on blending the colors in a single pattern rather than compensating the stitches along the color variations.

Sample stitched in one strand of Appleton's Wool on 18 count canvas. Design from Amanda Lawford's Royal Santa with stitch guide by GeorgaDee MacLeod. Stitch diagram by Summer Truswell.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Amanda Lawford Santa...

I so want him. He would be SO MUCH FUN to stitch. Look at the cute snowman! And the gingerbread cookie! And the lovely wreath! The scrollwork on the cloak! 18 mesh means he would take a good long while to stitch, too. :-)

Even with their Christmas sale he still would come in at over $300. *sigh*
I'm making progress on my Royal Santa, which is why I've been eyeing the others in the series. I stitched the staff pole yesterday and worked on some of the red opening in the cloak. It's lovely!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

The children have had a great day. We had a nice dinner yesterday and they went to bed around 10 p.m. Brad and I stayed up and watched Disturbia, some Hallmark movie, The Family Christmas, I think, and also I watched The Dish. I love the Dish. All my reality TV and celeb updates (that I shouldn't care about but are funny) in 23 snarky minutes.

After we were sure that they were asleep we set out all the presents that have been in the corner of the garage, and also stuffed the stockings. We went to bed around 2-ish.

Alarm goes off at 8 and no kids are awake! I felt sure that they would be up before us... We made coffee and read until they got up around 9. They were thrilled with their presents. Each child received lovely gifts and lots of fun things to play with. Madeline and Victoria traded a few things. ;-)

Hallie and Greg arrived around 11. They played with the kidlets, opened a few gifts, and we had a lovely lunch. They are so good with the kids (which is good, because they get them if Brad and I both kick the bucket). Travis was thrilled to give Greg lots of fake shots with his fake Doctor kit. I found that particularly ironic.

After they left I read some more... the kids are playing and I think Brad is dozing on the couch. It was a long night! We're having leftovers for dinner and I am NOT going shopping tomorrow. We have at least a foot of snow on the ground and it's going to take forever to melt. My poor plants! I'm wondering how many years of this "unusually cold weather" we will have before Sunset starts changing people's zone recommendations for planting.

Exercise update...

Exercise update:

  • Wednesday the 24th I did 25 minutes of Fitness TV: cardio, strength, abs. Some 3-2-1 video that is actually difficult for me. No weight lost but my abdomen and arms are sore!

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #4

Stitching update:

Yesterday I finished stitching the blue cloak. Whew! I've been working with this Appleton wool for what seems like weeks.

Last night I went ahead and stitched the gold on one cuff. It is a combination of tent and Blanket (buttonhole stitch) with three plies of gold Soie d'Alger silk thread. The gold is #16 Kreinik in 002. This has great texture on the curves.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting ready...

About 10 days ago I made the yummy Cappucino Pecan Nuggets that I make yearly. I packed up lovely boxes and gave them to friends. Brad and I inhaled at least a dozen (each!) On Thursday I had a small Christmas party for the homeschool friends at our house. The kids did crafts and played... and Crystal asked me what happened to the chocolates. Oops! I usually give some to her every year.

So, last night I made another batch, this time just one batch. I'll pack up most of these for neighbor gifts, some for Crystal, and hopefully will still have at least 4-6 on Christmas day for Hallie and Greg (sister-in-law and her husband). :-) Because I *can't* make another batch.

I've gained 8 pounds this last month. EIGHT pounds! Now, I try not to freak out about weight... I know that women range five pounds on average. But, when pants are shrinking and one has nothing to wear... one needs to lay off the chocolate. And perhaps start exercising again?
  • Saturday I went to the gym and did 55 minutes of running, weights, and stairclimber.
  • Sunday we had too much snow so I found the Fitness TV category on comcast and did 10 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of legs and bum, and 20 minutes of cardio.
  • Monday I was sore so I did stretches.
  • Tuesday, this morning, I did 10 minutes of yoga and 25 minutes of combination weight, cardio, ab. Again, on Fitness TV. I enjoy the yoga but my balance is terrible (I get vertigo intermittently probably due to recurring middle ear infections.)
I feel better than I did last week... so if I keep it up perhaps my pants won't get tighter through the holidays and I'll be able to slim back down to my normal weight before we go to Utah in April. Because have you *seen* my sisters-in-law? They all have kids, too, so it's not comparing apples to oranges.

Anyway, in stitching news I am still working on Royal Santa. I've almost finished up the blue and will take a picture when I do so. I am mailing off my Master Teacher stuff today and when I get approval on those line drawings I will switch over to stitching on that. I have two sizeable projects to stitch before July so it's good I stitch fast. :0

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Victoria's room repainting...

I haven't had time to post this yet... Since we've been here in this house for five years it's been needing repainting / heavy touchups.

I repainted all the baseboards last month, earlier this year I repainted Madeline's room, and of course the constant touch-up on the main living area. I repainted Victoria's room earlier this month. I let Victoria pick the paint colors for her room (with a bit of guidance) and together we picked out a wallpaper border and new curtain for the window. It looks lovely, very grown up, and it's not baby pink any longer! The cross-stitch bunnies and flowers were in her old room.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stitched *and* Finished...

This is my stocking that I finally stitched this year. It was a Dimensions Kit. I did add a bit of blending filament for fun. :-)

I worked on it through the year and finished it in December 2008.

More Christmas stockings...

These are all full sized. They are backed with velvet and lined with satin fabric. The tassels are made from leftover stitching threads. Each is trimmed in three-color custom twisted cording.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rain, snow, sleet, snow...

The last few days have been a lesson in poor weather here in Washington. I am NOT a snow fan. Cold, cold, cold! Since the weather has been bad I spent yesterday on a 550 piece puzzler, drank lots of Trader Joe's holiday coffee (with ginger, it's delicious!), and finished off the last of the Cappucino Pecan Nuggets.

I just received news this morning that one of my good friends will be moving, in about 9-10 months. Her husband is military and while the do move around a lot, they had thought that they would be here for at least another 3 years. It's very upsetting. Her children and my children are best buds. They have a choice of cities but none are close... we'll see what happens. Brad calls it "my curse"... every friend I made will be here for a couple of years and then move on. It happens over, and over, and over again. The Seattle area is very transient. :-(
Last night I worked on the line drawings for a couple new projects for the ANG Master Teacher Program. I pulled threads last night. This morning I line drew the stitch squares on the canvas and I'll be stitching them this evening. I have a few more stockings to do finishing on tomorrow and will mail it all out on Saturday.
Off to stitch - I love starting a new project, even if it is a bitty sample!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First snow of winter...

It does make everything look lovely for a few hours.

Then the children get out there and you end up with lots of pathways, tumbledown snowmen, and strips of green grass. They enjoy it though! The roads on Monday were awful - very icy with people going to fast. I've really glad I have new tires on my van! The girls are still doing gymnastics and are enjoying it a lot.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Chocolates...

I only make these once a year. They're delicious, but very time consuming.

I've made a couple of small changes to the original recipe, which is from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook, and also found on their website. My changes are in the recipe.

Cappuccino Pecan Nuggets

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground coffee (medium roast, espresso grind)
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
11 ounces Nestle white chocolate chips (1 bag)*
12 vanilla caramels (use something like Farley's that doesn't have Vanillin or food colorings)
1/4 cup Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon whipping (heavy) cream
72 large pecan halves (1 1/2 cups)
11 ounces Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips, but buy an extra bag just in case
1. Line square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches, with aluminum foil, leaving 1 inch of foil overhanging at 2 opposite sides of pan; spray with cooking spray.
2. Heat brown sugar, 1 tablespoon coffee and the milk to boiling in microwave (2-3 minutes); remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate chips until melted. Pour into pan. Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until firm. Remove mixture from pan, using foil edges to lift. Cut into 36 pieces (6x6)
3. Heat caramels, chocolate chips and whipping cream in in microwave, stirring frequently, until mixture is melted and smooth. (1.5-2 minutes) Refrigerate uncovered at least 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until mixture holds its shape and is cool enough to handle. If it's still tacky put it back in the fridge.
4. Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil. For each nugget, roll 1/2 teaspoon caramel-chocolate mixture into ball; press between 2 pecan halves and flatten slightly. Return to fridge until firm.
5. Shape 1 square coffee mixture evenly around pecan cluster. To do this pick up the square and gently flatten in the palm of your hand, place pecan ball in center, fold coffee mixture around, roll between hands to form ball. I wash and dry my hands about every 12 balls to help alleviate stickiness. Place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm. I usually refridgerate overnight.
6. Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Melt baking chocolate in microwave 1-2 minutes until almost melted, stir until smooth. Dip 1 nugget at a time into chocolate mixture. Roll around gently, pick up with fork, tap fork on side of the bowl, and scrape off the excess on the edge of the bowl. Move the chocolate to the cookie sheet and use a second fork to gently move the nugget to the cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle chopped up pecans over some of the nuggets. Drizzle remaining melted chocolate over some of the nuggets if desired.
7. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or just until set. Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Today I made a double batch, in side by side bowls, for a total of 72 lovely chocolates. This are my "neighbor and friend" gifts, placed in Christmas paper muffin tin liners and adorable little gift boxes.

*In 2010 we determined that the Ghiradelli and Everyday 365 Organics doesn't work for the white chocolate section, but the Nestle does work.

Ornaments finished...

More lovely ornaments to ship out tomorrow...

This is a gift box from Kathy Schenkel. The red ribbon and heart came with the design. I curled that ribbon and then added more colors to make a really poofy box on the top of the cube. It is lined with acid free foam core for firm sides.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gift tag ornament...

This cute ornament tag is finished with a hard back and padded front, and trimmed in two colors of floss and white pearl blended with metallic.

The grommet in the corner was added after finishing. A grommet that would have went all the way through the layers would have been too wide in diameter, so I used two grommets, blue on the front and red on the back to match the velvet. Very fun!

Miniature Christmas Stockings...

These miniature stockings are just so cute. Here are a pair of soft booties, backed in pale blue ultrasuede and lined in blue satin. The twisted cording is in two shades of blue.

Next this football stocking is backed with black velveteen and lined in a striking red silk dupioni. The twisted cording is made of red cotton and gold metallic.

Mr. Crabs now has his own home! This miniature stocking has three colors in the floss that match the fun little Christmas bulbs. I love all the found attachments.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Miniature Bargello Stockings...

These four miniature Bargello stockings are finished with a blue velveteen fabric and dupioni lining. Custom twisted cording in two shades of blue and one shade of white finish the edge, while the gold ribbon matches the little gold stars. Very fun and the perfect size for a ring, bracelet, necklace and a pair of earrings. ;-)

Christmas stockings finished...

Every year I lots of Christmas stockings, and this year is now exception. Dark red velvet is so lovely. It is both traditional and striking at the same time.

These three stockings are all finished with self-welted cording on the sides and twisted cording around the top and for the hanger. Very fun!

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #3

More stitching on the coat - this is in 1 strand of Appleton's Wool.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

I'm sorry Travis took a swipe off the frosting before you got a chance to blow out the candle!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pat Mazu Miniature Stocking finished...

I just did the finishing on this little miniature stocking. It is backed in a textured velvet and lined in red silk dupioni. The twisted cording is made from white, two shades of red, and a gold metallic. Very fun! Design by Pat Mazu and is in the ANG Chapter Project Booklet.

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #2

The trunk is completed:

I've started on the cloak. It is stitched in one strand of Appleton Wool in a Diagonal Beaty Variation. One day progress:

Two day progress (canvas is dipping as I didn't remove from sidebars):

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Works at PNB

On Sunday Victoria and I went to see "New Works" at Pacific Northwest Ballet. This is the first ballet where I actually felt "ho hum" about the performance.

The first ballet was called "In the Garden".
Music: Richard Strauss (Tanzsuite aus Klavierst├╝cken von Fran├žois Couperin, AV107, 1923) Choreography: Mark Morris
Costume Design: Mark Morris

I really enjoyed the music. The costumes were black and brown and just so bleh. I know that plainer costumes are meant to allow you to focus on the art of the dance but I find myself just redesigning them in my imagination.

Sadly, there was an AWFUL woman sitting next to me, on the right. She and her friend chatted throughout the overture. I shot them the evil eye. She wore a jangly charm bracelet and kept fidgeting around with it. Again, the evil eye. She removed the bracelet. Then, she picked up her enormous purse, placed it in her lap, and opened up a bag of Doritos. Cool Ranch, as I recognised the bag and the smell. Then she ate the entire bag. She ignored my evil eye, as well as the glares of the people in front of us.

When the intermission came Victoria and I got up, spoke quietly to the usher (who incidentially always covers the same spot so she recognised Victoria, at least) and moved up to a box. I LOVE my regular seat so I was irritated. Victoria was freaked out about the box and kept talking about earthquakes.

The next ballet was called M-Pulse.
Music: Cristina Spinei (2008)
Choreography: Kiyon Gaines
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

It felt like two acts, or movements, within the one piece. I was then distracted by watching the orchestra, and they are just fabulous to watch. We can't see them from our regular seats but in the first box you can look directly down on them. They're funny, too - you can see them quietly whispering when they're not playing. When the dance ends and the applause is going on and on they are standing around or packing up instruments. When the conductor goes up and bows on stage they make no notice that the applause is for them as well.

Anyway, back to the dancing, the first movement was percussion and the second was instrumental. The lighting was really fabulous - dancers in squares and then moving in and out. Very fascinating how it plays a central part.

Next was Three Movements
Music: Steve Reich (Three Movements for Orchestra, 1986)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Costume Design: Isabella Boylston and Benjamin Millepied, assisted by Larae Theige Hascall
Lighting Design: Brad Fields

This was my favorite piece of the afternoon. The costumes were gorgeous - teal and purple and floaty while still allowing you to see full leg movement. The pieces build on each other without being repetitive. Very fun and full of energy.

Another intermission (coffee and looking at the glass art with Victoria).

Last was One Flat Thing, Reproduced
Music: Thom Willems (2000)
Choreography: William Forsythe
Staging: Ayman Harper, Jill Johnson, and Richard Siegal Scenic
Lighting Design: William Forsythe
Costume Design: Stephen Galloway

We'd seen this in March. I enjoyed it back then and thought it was so vibrant. It was still full of energy but this time it just seemed to drag...

One last note - Hallie noted to me how she thought the dancing looked sloppy and she didn't know how they would be ready in time... I thought so as well. I don't know if it's part of the choreography to have one person off by a half count or if they're just tired from too much Nutcracker rehearsal... but it wasn't the precision you'd expect. This all said, I can't even do a cartwheel anymore so there you go. :-) Victoria's favorite piece was 3 Movements.

Royal Santa by Amanda Lawford #1

I can't remember if I've already discussed this needlepoint design. This piece is called "Royal Santa" and he is painted and designed by Amanda Lawford. The design is about 30" tall. He is so gorgeous and I love him!

Anyway, Royal Santa came to me in April of this year. Out of all the beautiful canvases I've sold for Denise the Wonder Organizer on eBay this is the only one I bought for myself. :-) The lady who owned him originally took him as a class so there were little itty bits of the piece started. There is a binder stitch guide and a huge bag of threads, all beautifully organized. I love it when it's ready to just jump in!

He is so large that I'm working on a lap stand. This is my first piece on a lap stand and it's working out well. The piece is so heavy there is no way I could hold it up.

The first thing I stitched was his skin on his face. This is Soie d'Alger silk floss.

Then back down to the bottom to work on the treasure chest. The gold scrolls and silver and completed with Kreinik metallic. The black is Trebizond Silk or Caron Impressions. The wood slats are Caron Watercolours. Right now I'm working on the wood of the chest. It is in four different colors of floss.

Last night's update of the wood treasure chest:

I have no idea when he'll be done. No goal setting for me on this one! Maybe next year? :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pat Mazu Miniature Stocking...

Yes, another one. :)

This one is backed in grey ultrasuede fabric and lined in purple silk dupioni.

Frame Weight Finishing...

This square design was finished into a frame weight. It could also be used as a pin cushion. The weight has a 1" side like a box cushion. Red velveteen was requested and it matches the red tassel in the design. Custom twisted cording accents to top edge in colors that match the background and the velveteen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The sun is shining! The sun is shining!

So I should probably go out and rake leaves. Instead I'm going to do the dishes, go to the gym, do homeschool lessons with the kids, and work on some needlework finishing. Maybe the weather will hold...

I finished the stitching on my Christmas stocking. I'll finish it into a stocking in the next couple of weeks. This week was busy. We went up to Vancouver on Monday and saw the Aquarium there in Stanley park. Then we drove over and saw Brad's grandmother inthe nursing home. She looked really lovely and healthy. The girls were well behaved and Travis behaved like a small child in a nursing home. (Lots of running, spilling water, loud talking.)

Wednesday our homeschool group went to a glass studio. The older children did glass blowing and the younger children made a tile with glass to be fused. Both Victoria and Madeline made a fused tile. Victoria's art is incredibly unique. She considers herself an artist and truly, her work stands out. I can look at a dozen (or 30) pieces and spot Victoria's work. This held true at the glass fusing!

After the studio we went up to Madame Fifi's teahouse and had lunch. All the kids were very well behaved and the girls enjoyed having their own table with their friends.

We then drove down to Bellevue for ballet. I stopped on the way to buy Victoria a pair of pants (three is not enough for winter) and then to ballet. After ballet a quick stop for dinner at the grocery store deli and then on to swimming. They did great at swimming - Madeline has finally crossed the hump she's been stuck at and is now improving again. I talked to the swim team coach and we've scheduled a try-out for Victoria for swim team. She would start in January if she gets on.

After we got home the kids bathed and I photographed a bunch more ebay auctions. I sent out invoices for sold things (which I'll mail tomorrow). We watched a show (Chuck) and then went to bed and read (Angela Knight book) and fell asleep around 1 a.m. I was totally wiped out. TOO busy of a day.

So, from this I've learned that ballet, dinner, and swimming on every Wednesday are fine, because we do that every week and it's ok. But tacking on the extra stuff ahead was just too much. It was a one-time thing, and was a great deal of fun, but just too much. It's the same reason I don't like to travel with kids... they just can't go and go and go, and if you're there visiting you want to see everything anyway, right?

Anyway, time to head to the gym! :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm still here...

Winter has settled in over the Seattle area. Rain, rain, more rain. This has been a very wet summer, fall, and hey, winter is looking like a lot of rain!

I've been busy listing stuff on eBay:


There is a professional organizer in the area. She calls me when she has needlework to sell for her clients and usually I swing by and pick it up. This last batch, she had to deliver, as it wouldn't have fit in my van. So, some is listed and more is coming.

The children are doing very well, albeit Travis is coming down with something. He started sounding wheezy on Wednesday afternoon, that night wasn't the best, last night was pretty bad, so tonight will probably be terrible. The third night of croup is always the worst but then they get better. He's such a healthy child aside from RSV as a baby and the yearly croup.

Victoria is keeping up with her lessons and both girls have settled into ballet. Madeline has a new swim teacher and she's wonderful - hopefully she'll pass trout sometime this year! She's been in level three for over a year now.

I have gotten some stuff done around the house. I fixed the patch on the back wall and Brad hung the curtains. I bought a new hook rack for the red bathroom and Brad hung it. We don't have a towel rack in there now but we never used it - this way they can hang their robes and it will look nice. I also painted all the baseboards and touched up the paint but it already needs to be touched up again.

We've been listening to Alice in Wonderland and now Through the Looking Glass. We just finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. It was very cute and OH MY it actually taught Victoria why she shouldn't talk back. I was amazed, as that wasn't my intention behind reading the book! Victoria finished reading the Harry Potter series last night. She was thrilled and was laughing out loud at the ending. Up next for her "fun reading" is Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series, which I'd picked up at Costco. I've been reading voraciously the last few weeks to get away from the weather. I read the Sookie Stackhouse Dead Until Dark series, Twilight and Breaking Dawn, a bunch of romance novels (whoo whoo) and am now reading The Root of Wild Madder, which is about the persian rug industry. There are rug dealers in downtown Seattle so after I finish that one I'm going to take Victoria down there and look at them closely now that I know more about them.

Yesterday we went to the Burke Museum at University of Washington. The girls had a great time and it was a lot of fun. Lots of homeschoolers there. Since Travis is ill he stayed home with Brad. The girls helped work on a button blanket and put together wildlife puzzles, aside from looking at all the exhibits.

I haven't been stitching lately - I need to finish my stocking and I have a few things that need finishing. Off I go!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Learn to Finish a Miniature Christmas Stocking

Earlier this year I started using a different technique for finishing miniature Christmas Stockings. I needed a technique with less hand sewing so here is the result. I taught this at my guild last month so the verbal instructions have been tested, too.

These instructions are copyright 2008 Summer Louise Truswell. You may print one copy for your own personal use or to make items as gifts. If you'd like to reprint in a newsletter please contact me for a print-ready layout.

Early Christmas morning, we would sneak down the stairs and into the family room, trying to slip past Mom’s sharp hearing. Of course, our army of feet (six children!) would wake our parents, and they would usually enter the room moments after we had found the stockings. Each stocking had been lovingly sewn with our names, so it was very clear which stocking belonged to each child. We even had a stocking for the family pet, although it was a miniature size.

These instructions and photographs are for a miniature stocking. They will work for a large stocking as well. The stocking is lined. I highly recommend lining your stocking, as it makes it sturdier, in addition to keeping the needlework cleaner. You can skip the lining step, if desired. The size of the stocking is dependent on your finished needlework piece and you will need to purchase your backing and lining fabric based on that.

Materials Needed:
· Stitched needlework piece to be made into stocking
· Backing material
· Lining material
· Twisted cording for trim
· Tassel, if desired
· Sewing thread
· Scissors

Wash and block your needlework piece, if desired.

Layer the fabrics in the following order: two layers of lining fabric with right sides facing, backing fabric with right side up, needlework piece with right side down facing backing fabric. Cut all four pieces of fabric, leaving generous margins.

Lay the front of the stocking on a lining piece with right sides together. Sew a seam along the top edge of the stocking. Repeat with the backing fabric and the second piece of lining fabric.
Fold the lining back from the stocking and finger press in place.

Lay the front of the stocking and the back of the stocking together with right sides facing. Make sure that the top edges of the stocking are perfectly matched. If desired you may pin each side. You will be skipping two-three stitches there to allow for later insertion of the twisted cording.

The turning of the stocking will be done through a hole in the lining. Begin at the bottom of the lining fabric and sew the back and front of the stocking together by traveling around almost the entire perimeter of the stocking and lining. Remember to skip two-three stitches where the lining meets the backing and stocking. Finish your seam with at least three inches for turning.

Use a pair of sharp scissors to trim the seam by clipping corners grading the curves slightly. Don’t get too close as the canvas will unravel a little bit.

Turn the stocking right sides out. If needed, reach in with the eraser end of a pencil to push out the sewn edges of the stocking. From the outside finger press the seam down and gently shape into place.

Fold the raw edges of the lining fabric back into the lining and finger press in place. Use matching sewing thread to sew the seam closed. I use a narrow zigzag with a sewing machine.

Push the lining fabric down into the stocking.

Starting on the toe side, insert one end of the twisted cording into the space with missed stitches at the top of the stocking. Use matching sewing thread to carefully sew the twisted cording to the stocking. The sewing thread should sit down in the bumps between the different twists of cord. Sew the cording down around the toe of the stocking and back up to the top. Travel around the cuff of the stocking and back to the back. Loop up the excess cording to make a hanger. If you wish to add a tassel then loop it over the twisted cording hanger at this point. Insert the other end of the twisted cording into the space and sew closed.

Admire your finished miniature Christmas stocking!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stitching Update...

Let's see where I am with my stitching goals...

Start and Finish Mirabilia’s Titania, Queen of the Fairies, for my mom.
Start and finish Oriental Poppies with ANG SpaceNeedlers chapter.
Stitch all 12 of the Beau Geste Vintage Ornaments.
Make progress on Cranberry Sampler. (completed)
Keep up with the MTP program.
Stitch Twister with stitch-a-long group.
Start my Christmas Stocking.
Work on Victoria’s birthday present. (completed)

November Goals:
Finish the Lavender Gift Box.
Finish my Christmas stocking.
Work on Madeline’s birthday present.

December Goals:
Work on machine embroidery Christmas village.
Do the finishing into ornaments of all my yearly stitched ornaments.

When I look back, I've completed a lot this year. I've been stitching on the Christmas stocking the last couple of days and it's coming along. Right now I'm stitching the sky and then after that the snow. Last will be all the backstitching.


*Two* of the dozens of gladiolius bloomed. They're a deep purple but a very poor blooms - it was just too cold this summer for them. I'm going to be lazy and leave them in the ground and next spring I'll overplant with some more. The lawn needs one more mowing so the next sunny day I'll be out there. My hostas are still going (late, I know!) so I haven't been able to divide the front three yet.

Quilt tops completed...

I'm getting *really* close to finishing all my work-in-progress pieces before the end of the year. :) I finished the log cabin quilt last night and the star one last week.
These are #31 and #30 from my quilt album.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Book Report Lunch...

Thursday was book report lunch for our homeschool group. Victoria did her report on Susan B. Anthony and Madeline did hers on Grover Cleveland.

Now, keep in mind Victoria is almost eight, so her report was a collection of sentences like "Lots of Susan's speeches were written by her friend, Elizabeth Stanton." and "Susan fought to free the slaves." and "She was a teacher and noticed that men were paid more money."

Madeline is almost five, so her report was basically "These are the Presidents of the United States. Grover Cleveland was President when he was young and here he is when he was old." Of course, then she wanted to show everyone every single picture, which is very common when they're a young presenter.

They both enjoyed getting applause.

Me? I'm feeling bleh. I'm not dealing well with the end to our summer season here (what summer?) and I feel like I need to lose 15 pounds. I've been having insomnia. Which would be fine if I was getting stuff done, but laying in bed wide awake isn't helping anyone. :-(

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life in the fall...

The leaves are dropping on the grass. I hate to rake but Victoria loves it. Perhaps I'll send her out tomorrow! I'm glad I was able to get my bulbs planted on Saturday as it's been overcast and grey since then. My lovely gladioulus plants never bloomed; the summer was too wet. I didn't have to water my lawn *once* this summer.

The winter pansies and the fuschia are still going strong. I'm not sure what I will do with all the fuschia. I think most of them are hardy and will winter over but I'm sure being in pots will kill them. I think I can plant them in one of the pocket gardens and then transplant them back into pots in the spring. That will be my project on the next sunny day.

I took the girls to the children's museum yesterday with some friends. It was lovely and calm - the toddler set was there when we first arrived but they cleared out by 12:30 as the mothers take the toddlers home for naps. Today we did lessons (math, handwriting, reading) and are going to go to the post office, drop off checks for Denise the organizer (lady I ebay stuff for), then ballet and swimming. Travis gets to stay home and play with Brad. I enjoy the time at ballet and swimming as it is uninterrupted stitching time. I need to get working on my MTP so I'll be on that tomorrow.

Yesterday I finished most of the top on my star quilt. I have to add the narrow border. I'm going to try something new - on other quilts I've just sewn on the border and that was that. BUT I saw on one of the quilting shows, or maybe I read it in a quilt book, that I should MEASURE the quilt and then cut the strips and sew on the border. You apparently measure across the center of the quilt, not along the border, then pin the border on and sew. The advantage is it squares your quilt and you won't have wavy edges. We'll see if it works. I have definately gotten better in my piecing over the years. I look at some of my early pieces and whoa, they weren't the greatest. It's the same with needlework, though, you get more experienced with time.

Unfortunately, all my recent quilts just go in a bag underneath the bed as I can't afford to get them quilted, nor to I have the money for a long arm machine. And yes, I've quilted on my regular sewing machine and basically ruined a couple of tops that way. It's fine for little quilts but nothing sizeable. Someday I'll be able to buy a long arm machine. :)

Anyway, enough rambling. Time to head out!

Velveteen Pillow...

This is a very traditional design with traditional finishing. A basic, beautiful needlepoint design is worked almost entirely in basketweave. What makes it special is the border is worked in a large specialty stitch that adds texture and finish to the design.
The corners of the design are were not square, which meant the design could be finished as an octogon shape, perhaps with a gusset on the side. However, that would involve more labor and a custom shaped insert. Since the goal was to stay within the budget, I added insets of velveteen into each corner before finishing with a fabric frame with mitered corners. This adds a bit of detailing to the corner and also allows it to be finished as a square to staying within the budget.

The edges of the pillow are finished with self-welted cording. A cotton gimp cord is covered with fabric, cut on the bias (or diagonal). Cutting on the bias allows for the fabric to stretch so it doesn't pucker on the corners where it is turned. However, it ends up that you need more fabric (as it's cut on the diagonal) so self-welting and purchased twisted cording end up costing almost the same amount.
A lovely finish. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend Update...

I did get out in the garden yesterday and planted bulbs. It started with me putting away laundry in the bedroom. I happened to glance out the window at the girls and saw that my button jar was out on the playset ground. I called to Victoria to pick it up and bring it inside and that is when I realized that it was only 25% full. I asked where the buttons were and was told they were on the picnic table. How exciting! I told the girls to start picking them up.

Since it *was* a sunny day I went ahead and put on my gardening clothes (because I've learned I have to change before I go out and "just do one thing") and collected my shovel, wheelbarrow, and the bulbs. Thus, while the girls were picking buttons from the bark, grass, and playset and putting them back in the jar, I dug the back flower bed down 6", pulled the old bulbs out, divided those that needed to be divided and replanted them. I also planted 201 new bulbs in the back bed. I then planted 50 bulbs in my new-this-year full sun perennial garden, and 60 bulbs in the front yard's two beds. It should look nice in the spring! That's a total of 311 new bulbs.

In the back I'll have Negrita tulips, white double daffodils, purple and dark pink tulips, more purple crocus, some tall Alliums, and whatever I planted the year before. In the front I'll have 60 more stunning red tulips, added to the ones I had last year. :)

I also did a bit of piecing on my star quilt. The blocks and the sashing is done. Today I'll make the block strips and perhaps I'll get it pieced together. Whew! This has been, by far, the more time-consuming quilt I've ever made. Up next? Who knows! Either the silk folding quilt or the log cabin rainbow quilt.

Now, though, I have to go check the dishes and change the diapers in the wash and start dinner and read with the kids.... and and and. Someone asked me the other day how I get stuff done and I honestly don't know any more!

As a last note I received my Oriental Poppies back from Pat Van Cleve. She wrote me a great letter about things I could improve and things I did great on. Very positive! I'm glad I finished the piece in time for the critique. And now I have points for my MTP. :)

Finishing: Pillows with frame and without

Should you use a fabric-frame when finishing your pillow?

Adding a fabric frame to a pillow simply means that the needlepoint has strips of fabric sewn to the side. The edges of the fabric can be mitered (so they point out from the corner) or sewn straight (they are straight with the edges). This helps the design stand out from any edge treatment and also helps anchor a particular color in the design. One, two, or multiple fabric frames can be used to "build out" the design. The pillow is then backed as normal.

Finishing a pillow without a fabric frame makes the design stand on it's own. If the design is large enough to be it's own cushion this will work. You also need areas where your eye can rest (the blue triangles in this case).

I finished both these pillows this weekend.