Ornament WiPs & a wee finish

I have a couple of ornaments in the works for family gifts which I believe are fairly safe to share.

Prairie Schooler's Annual Santa 1992
for a special fisherman in the family (my father-in-law)

The Workbasket's Rejoice from JCS 2005 for my mom
This is my first time stitching with silk and I love it! This one is on 40 ct. fabric.

I also finished a bookmark for a friend's birthday with a freebie by Ink Circles.

Ornament Exchange from Chris

Hello friends, I received a beautiful ornament by The Sampler Girl from Chris. (Chris, I think you have been reading my blog!) It immediately went on our tree. It's so sweet. My camera is not the greatest, and it is hard to see the great straight stitches on the manger which really look like hay, and the pretty fabric which looks hand dyed to me.

And she included some nice extras, including a sweet pattern for a key chain by Milady's Needle, with the key chain and some Crescent Colors to get started. Thank you, Chris, I just love everything!

Quilting, Amy Butler & yummy fabrics

After exercising tonight, I didn't feel like going straight home (Hubbie teaches until late on Monday nights and it gets a little lonely sometimes) so I stopped by Barnes and Noble for a cup of holiday tea and browsed in the crafty section. I found a really neat book of simple sewing projects called Amy Butler's In Stitches which had to go straight on my wish list. She has patterns and projects for feminine but modern handcrafts such as an apron, quilted throw, and a fringed belt/scarf. If you are an experienced seamstress these will not be very exciting to you. But if you are new to sewing and are looking for some fresh, hip projects that don't look like they came from circa 1985, check this one out.

After googling the author's name, I discovered that Amy Butler makes way cool fabric. This led me to an online fabric shop called The Fat Quarter Shop. Which really made me want to become a quilter! All the fabrics are delicious. This is a wonderful online shop, if you've never visited. I don't know if my life can handle another hobby which is likely as addictive and expensive as cross stitch. (Did I mention that I'd love to learn to knit, too?)

Pay It Forward Update:
I've had two lovely ladies sign up for my pay it forward ~ thank you, Vonna and Wendy! I'd love to have three more special friends to send gifts to. Please see post below! I should mention that I would be happy to mail overseas.

I want to give you a giftie!

Well, in the true spirit of holiday giving, a niftie idea is making its way around the stitching blogs. (Does anyone know who originated it?) I have signed up to receive a handcrafted item from my friend, Mary Kathryn. Now I'm going to "pay it forward" to the first five folks who comment here and tell me that they would like to receive something from me. I will send you some form of needlework, and in return, you will add this same offer to your blog. Most folks are giving themselves a 365 day deadline to complete all five gifts, which sounds reasonable (though hopefully we won't need the whole year!).

Please comment, then email me (rachelvendsel @ yahoo dot com) with your snail mail address so I will know where to send your gift, then quick like a bunny go post your own pay it forward offer! This will be a fun exercise in stitching and giving.

had to have 'em!

Aren't these little guys the cutest?

prairie schooler WiP #1- Autumn Leaves

Autumn is my favorite season. I am really enjoying stitching on Praire Schooler No. 132 "Autumn Leaves"- especially because all the rain we've been experiencing in Pennsylvania has knocked most of our beautiful fall foliage off the trees. So I have a bit of fall at home whenever I sit down to stitch.

Need a movie to stitch by? I have a movie recommendation for you: "Dear Frankie" is a sweet story of a mother's love and a young boy's longing for his father, set in Scotland and beautifully photographed.

My Prairie Schooler Ornament

I promised you a picture of the ornament I sent to my exchange partner, Teresa; she has received it so I can share now. It is from the 2000 JCS Ornaments magazine, stiched on a moss green linen. As you can see, my scanner (left) does a much better job of capturing true colors than the camera (below).

But here it is, pictured on the backing fabric, finished into a little tree-shaped pillow with a cinnamon stick "trunk."
I have some more Prairie Schooler WiP's happening right now; Autumn Leaves and the 1992 Santa. I'll get some pictures made and post this week.

Prairie Schooler Ornament Exchange

Look how sweet! It is a tiny pinkeep ornament from my Prairie Schooler Yahoo Fans Group Exchange friend, Teresa.

I have scanned it for you, since my camera is not super, and shown both sides with a penny so you can see how tiny and cute it is. A festive Santa plays dramatically with his small marionette. Teresa stitched this on white linen (I'm not sure what count) and decorated it all around with small pins, backed it with lovely Christmas plaid and fastened it with a thick green cording hanger. Teresa, I just love it, thank you so much!

I mailed Teresa's gift yesterday, and will show you as soon as she's received it.

Are you in the Chrismtas spirit yet? :)

Secret Stitching & a New Favorite

Hello friends,

I am so sorry I've been so quiet lately; life is busy for us right now, and I've not had much time to make the rounds on your beautiful blogs which bring me so much joy. Plus, all the stitching I'm doing right now is secret: exchanges, birthday presents, and the like.

Still, I thought I'd pop by today and say hello to tell you about a new favorite designer I discovered through a tip from a Prairie Schooler friend: "The Sampler Girl" a.k.a. Tanya Anderson. I must say, I LOVE EVERYTHING SHE MAKES! It is rare for me to just love everything from one designer, but I am truly enchanted. She is the daughter of Lucy Willis of Le Chatelaine Designs. Tanya's designs incorporate that historical and often literary element that I adore.

I am delighted by her Jane Austen series, as I am huge fan of Austen. I especially like the Chrismtas stocking at left.

Tonight I am throwing a party for my husband's birthday, but before the baking begins I do hope to put a few stitches into my PS Autumn Leaves sampler. Our fall foliage in Pennsylvania is gorgeous right now, and the rain and wind have made it perfect stitching weather. I hope you all have a lovely stitchy weekend!

Quaker Garden Update

Quaker Garden has been a s l o w stitch for me for some reason. I think having to wait a month to get my materials somehow cursed my stitching. :) Nevertheless, I'm enjoying the way it's looking.

I am about half way there:

In other, more exciting news, dear Becky has accepted me to the USEBB. I am excited to enter the wonderful world of exchanges!

Quick Finish: Bless Our Home

First I must say how grateful I am to each of you who left me a kind comment on the BD Sunflower House finish. You have really blessed me with your enthusiastic compliments - thank you!

Whilst stitching on Quaker Garden, which is progressing although much slower than I had intended, I swapped it out with a Lizzie Kate snippet when I wanted something else to do. This is called "Bless our Home" and I have a nice frame for it already.
I used a tan 28 ct. linen and the Weeks threads. The blue color, "cadet," is a really nice aqua blue with some lovely variation.

I also wanted to share some recent stash therapy acquired from the always wonderful Mary Kathryn at eHandcrafts online. I ordered Praire Schooler's new "Autumn Leaves," which I adore, plus the recommended 32 ct. Lambswool and DMC threads, some 18 ct. Summer Khaki aida for Praire Santas, 32 ct. Lugana in Moss Green for an ornament exchange on my Yahoo! Praire Schooler group, and the automatic Little House Needleworks Thread Pack for September, "Berries." Also a beautiful skein of The Thread Gatherer's Silk 'n Colors "In the Burgundy". I am so pleased with Mary Kathryn's service and would recommend her to anyone who is looking for a reliable online shop!

UPDATE: here is a picture of Bless Our Home framed in a 5 x 7 inch frame (pardon the yucky flash):

and on my poetry bookshelf:

Finished Sunflower House/QG Start!

At last I have put the final stitches into Blackbird Design's Sunflower House (Loose Feathers #9). It is stitched with the recommended fibers and fabric (R&R 28 ct. Friendship Blue with GAST). I really enjoyed this summer project. I am trying to decide if I should put it away until we can spring for professional framing or if I should look for a suitable cheaper frame... not sure what I'll choose!

But now I shall be able to turn to another, more recent BD design, the Quaker Garden SAL with Karen and friends. I am hoping I can work in a focused way on QG and get it stiched this week. I'm already having fun with the simplicity of design and muted color palate.

A Little Update

Here is a picture of my framed "The Bookshelf" next to a couple of our own well-loved bookshelves!

I am working furiously on Sunflower House so I can get it off my scroll bars and get on with Quaker Garden. Then I only have 76 more things I want to stitch - ha ha!

Bookshelf Happy Dance!

I just put the last stitches into The Bookshelf. My scanner is not quite big enough to capture the whole thing, but you get the idea!

I did end up changing the quadrant for "Little Women" - I adapted a little tea motif from an old booklet and stitched it over one so it would fit in the area, adding in the names of the four sisters in backstitch. I thought books, tea, and a candlestick captured well the feel of Little Women. I am very happy with the result and can't wait to frame it!

Bless the Baby

Thank you for all your kind comments on The Bookshelf! I should be able to share the finished product in a couple of days.

Here is Lizzie Kate's "Bless the Baby" which I made for a friend's new daughter this past weekend. I took this picture before stuffing with fiberfill as a pillow. The backing is a soft pink fleece. The button, a bit hard to see here in this picture, is a little bunny. I love this design for a quick gift!

The Bookshelf Progress

Almost done! Just a few more stitches to put in on the top half, and one last quadrant on the bottom and I will have a finish on my hands!

I am contemplating changing the design in the bottom quadrant as I am not entirely crazy about the four girls for Little Women. I have something in mind but haven't entirely decided!

In other news, I am STILL waiting on my order from Stitching Bits and Bobs, placed at the end of June. *Sigh.*

Adventures in Sewing: Pillow Success!

I am teaching myself to sew on my new sewing machine and it is so much fun! After searching everywhere --without success-- for a frame that would fit the Paper Whites finish (below), I decided I would make it into a pillow. This was a brave decision, as I was giving it as a gift and had never attempted this sewing magic before. But I had purchased some sewing 101 books and understood the basics. I found some pretty matching fabric and ribbon in the dollar bins at Michaels which were just perfect. After several practices, I felt fairly comfortable with it and...
Ta da! Behold - a wee giftie pillow!

While I was at it, I made up another little finish as an ornament, a freebie called "Cozy Christmas Wishes" from Lizzie Kate:

"Paper Whites" finish

I have finished this little sweetie by LHN and switched the alphabet for the names of my freind's children. I can't decide if it should be framed or stitched into a wee pillow, but I am pleased with the way it turned out. On 28 ct. linen, it is about 6" x 6". I used DMC threads, although slightly different colors than were called for by the chart.

Quaker Garden SAL on hold

I am eager to get started on the Quaker Garden SAL with Karen (and 27 others!), which officially begins today, but am still awaiting my order of supplies from Stitching Bits and Bobs!! I do not know when they will arrive, so I'll just have to stitch quickly to catch up with the rest of the group. :)

This lovely chart has already been completed by the talented Nicole, whose rapid progress I've been following. Her blog also led me to the link for this adorable Freebie Heart, which I'd love to stich into a pretty sachet with some recently acquired variegated silk. The free offering is from Better Homes and Gardens, Australia- which lists a surprising number of other really nice freebies. So much to stitch, so little time!

Wedding Sampler finish

Here is a pretty little wedding sampler that I stitched last year but am just now getting around to framing. I can still give it to our friends just under the one year mark! It is a compilation of several design elements from the "Simply Blessed Wedding Sampler" booklet; when I purchased it, I had no idea that the designer is actually one of my favorites - Diane Williams, now self-published as Little House Needleworks.

Colorbox Fun

When I was a little girl, I would ask for the biggest box of crayons that Crayola made, and the first thing I'd do when I got it home was to carefully take out all the cardboard containers and slide the crayons out onto the floor. Then I'd set about arranging each crayon in "rainbow order": Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple... What joy those beautiful colors gave me!

As an adult, I still play with my colors. I've taken a little time away from stitching to organize my floss and fibers. All my DMC were helter-skelter in a bag, and I decided to find a way to organize them. Here they are laid out on my coffee table:

and here is the first half neatly stowed away on bobbins:

My sweet hubbie was the one to suggest a "tackle box" approach to organization (and take me to Michael's to buy them for me! Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful man!). Anyway, I am thrilled with the results. I have three boxes, two for DMC and one for specialty threads and overdyed fibers, which I am just beginning to collect. I have "bobbin-ed up" about half the DMC so far. They are organized by color and each is labled with the DMC # for easy identification. When I am working on a project, I can take out only the floss I need and keep those on a ring. And in the meantime, I can peer down at the beautiful colors for the sheer joy of it!

Update: LHN The Bookshelf

My Bookshelf is beginning to take shape! I love the serif styling of the font and the gold detail on the book spines. When I finish this, I will have to show you a picture of our own well-loved bookshelves.

I am doing this a Stitch-A-Long with my Yahoo! Little House Needleworks group.

Sunflowers Update 2

I scanned it this time, so here is a much better picture for you! I am essentially done with the right hand half of the chart. I can't wait to stitch the house on the left. This project is SUCH a pleasure! All the little smyrna crosses in deep blue and the bright cheerful sunflowers - perfect summery fun.

Coffee by the Candle's Light

While I am waiting to update you on progress pics of Sunflowers and Bookshelf, I will show you a picture of my first Little House Needleworks finish, "Coffee by the Candle's Light."

Sunflowers Update 1

This is a terrible picture, but it shows a bit of my progress so far. I am really enjoying this project. Not sure yet how I'd like to finish it - probably framing would be best.

I hope to start The Bookshelf on Thursday as a stitch a-long with my LHN Yahoo group.

Here are the pretty colored fibers I'm using for Sunflower House!