Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Treasures

My husband found some really cute pincushions for my Christmas gift. They are postwar Made in Japan and are charming.We have no idea what this girl in the shoe is holding up by her ears.Here she is from the back. Still no idea what she's holding up that's so alarming her. I'd welcome your ideas and suggestions!Here's a Western theme one.And a cute dog--looks a lot like Betty Boop's dog to me.
This one just makes me chuckle, so here it is again.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Girls' Day Out

I'm a bit behind in posting. I hope you all are enjoying the season. Hubby's recuperating well from his hernia surgery and we had a very peaceful holiday at home. The family event is planned for a couple of weeks from now, when everyone's work schedule should mesh.

A week before Christmas we had a fun Girls' Day Out. We did a bit of shopping and had a lovely lunch at Seasons 52. Interesting and fresh food with care taken to make it healthy, too.

The waiter kindly took our photo for us, so we're all in it this time. I spent one evening watching Bing in "The Bells of Saint Mary's" and glittered these pressed paper pine cones (Martha Stewart via Michael's from a post-holiday sale several years ago). Glitter is still everywhere, in spite of my best efforts. It's so much fun to play with glitter!

They open. I'm not sure what will be tucked inside. Ideas?I spent my extra time off stitching and knitting away, but I can't show any of it yet.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone. I wish you joy and happiness. Thank you very much for joining me here and for your comments.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December flowers

Here are more photos from our trip to the Oak Park Conservatory a couple of weeks ago.I'm going to be away from a computer for a bit. I'll be back after Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little Christmas

Back in the 70s I made a bunch of these hangings for friends and family. It was probably in Better Homes & Gardens or McCall's. The letters are felt with embroidery. I've been putting "Loy" up each year since I made it.

We call it Loy because while the O and Y are attached at two points, the J isn't and keeps flipping around, looking more like an L. It got named Loy sometime early on and has kept it's name since. I'm not sure when I made these puffy pixies. They're some sort of stretch synthetic, with polyester knit faces and hands and fake fur. Again, I made dozens to give to everyone (at one point I was making about 100 ornaments each year for friends and family. That did not last long!) The Elves are red or green and I kept two to hang from our bookcase.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I found a pretty cool new product, just in time to do exactly what I want for a couple of Christmas gifts. My niece is into the Muppets big time, but it's really hard to find her something she doesn't already have. Lately I've been stitching all of these towels and thought--perfect!

I printed out some coloring pages and then was stuck. The designs are a bit complex and the towels not exactly see through. They have enough texture to make any transfer procedure, other than iron-on, tough.

Just when I was at this point, The Wooly Thread sent out a post with a new product, Transfer-Eze. I ordered two packages and they arrived very quickly.

So far, it's been a delight to work with. I copied my coloring pages onto the Transfer-Eze pages, pulled off the backing paper and then stuck the design exactly where I wanted it on my towel. (You can see it on the towel above.)

It's easy to stitch through--in fact it adds a bit of body to the toweling, making it easier to stitch. It really sticks on there, too.

Once I've stitched the design, the Transfer-Eze will dissolve in water. That means it needs to be used for an end product that can be washed. And, because it really sticks on there, I would trim it carefully, close to the design, before using it on a delicate fabric.

I left a lot of unprinted transfer around the design--probably not the best idea, but I didn't think of trimming it. I pulled some of it off, beyond an already stitched area. It didn't affect the toweling and when I got near the stitches, it stopped pulling away and tore off without damaging them. It also didn't want to pull off, so I think a closely trimmed design with the product removed with water will work best.

I haven't yet tried wetting it and dissolving it from a stitched design (I don't have one done yet), but I tried wetting a cut-off edge and it dissolved quickly.

I would not use a design under copyright (like the one I'm using) for anything I was going to sell. And I'm only making the one. (I'm just coloring my design with thread and not crayons.) The Transfer-Eze is perfect for what I want to do, but it's not inexpensive (a little over $1.50 per sheet with shipping). But I could take my own drawn designs or words and photocopy it onto the paper for original designs--I have a crewel piece I want to work on wool felt and I think this will work perfectly to transfer the complex design. Over on Needle 'n Thread, Mary is also having an interesting discussion about transferring a design to fabric and the things you need to think about beforehand.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Party Time

Tuesday night's holiday party for my EGA chapter was great fun. Everyone got a table favor--mine is below. It was filled with chocolate kisses and floss for stitching. There was also a giveaway to one lucky winner at each table--various gift certificates were the prizes.I also received some lovely gifts from friends: This luggage tag was stitched on finer linen than I can see. I love the quiet colors and traditional design. I think it's going to hang in my office for now.I love this sparkly holiday temari ball from World Embroideries. She is so very ambitious!Here is a Brazilian embroidery ornament from a good friend--she used a pattern book from the 70s for the design. Many many techniques were featured in the gifts and ornaments exchanged at the party. I was great fun to see what everyone was getting!My draw in the ornament exchange was the charming embroidery below--I got a bonus. I adore the little beaded ornament that was in the bag with the ornament. I am so very lucky! They were made by Karol of Rosebud's Stitching. The room where we had our dinner was beautifully decorated and looked out over snow covered fields. This is the best start to the holiday season possible!

I Won!!

I am really delighted. I won a recent giveaway from Kelly Fletcher, from the Materialstic blog! The prize was her Celtic Stems pattern and a packet of fabrics to stitch it. She e-mailed the pattern and then mailed a lovely collection of fabrics, which arrived last night. Wow! Thank you so much!

I really like her designs. They're modern but there's a traditional feel to them, too. To add to my fun, I purchased her newest issue of Stitch&Thimble, which came out this week. I'm in stitchin' heaven!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

White Christmas

Last night was my EGA chapter's holiday party. It's always a lot of fun, full of good friends, good wishes and some really amazing embroideries. We have an ornament exchange and I also exchange gifts with some friends. I whipped up a storm of white wool things to bring. I made these white felt ornaments over the last couple of weeks. They're very simple but all my own designs. They feature felt holly leaves and silver and white embroidery. It's always amazing to me how whites can vary! One was my exchange ornament and the other two gifts.I made this angel for a friend. It has holly leaves too, and buttons. (The washed out picture of the oblong ornaments and the picture of the angel and wreath were taken on the same day in the same location. The only thing that changed was the strength and angle of the sun. I think it's very hard to see the oblong ornaments--I should have waited--but as I was doing it I was mostly worried that the angel and wreath would be too dark!)More antique buttons adorn this wreath, made for another friend.This little pincushion, given last night as a gift, began its live as a napkin ring for the YMCA kids. We'll be teaching it in March. It was just sitting there, waiting for March, when I unearthed a large felt bead. I wasn't sure where I wanted to keep the bead and in the meantime it kept rolling off the shelf. Finally I popped it into the napkin ring to keep it in place and, voilá, pincushion! I stitched it in place and added a felt bottom. I'll stitch up another napkin ring model before March.

As soon as I can, I'll get photos of the lovely ornaments I received as gifts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


After my good news at the doctor's last week, hubby and I drove up to one of our favorite places, Oak Park Conservatory. The tropical house has been newly rehabbed and we hadn't been there in a while. The bright colors, flowers, and birds all contributed to my celebration. I didn't even bring my cane inside (it's a small place and I managed fine).The warmth inside was very pleasant--we have winter weather in Chicago now. We watched them put out the annual poinsettia display (I'm saving that pic for later on).The koi seem to like the renovated room. They were active.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I think I may stitch more dishcloths for the holidays, but in the meantime, I'm back working on my pile of WIPs. I haven't made much progress, since I didn't work on this at all over the holiday weekend.This is the scarf that matches the cable hat, here. It definitely will need to be blocked but it's coming along. Each cable twist is just about one inch.I've also made some progress on my crewel piece. The green leaf at the top is coming out, though. It's too skinny. I was so concerned about keeping an open space in the middle that I went overboard. Hopefully, I can just pull out part of the middle section and not the whole thing.


I'm OFF the crutches! I'm free to gradually get back to my usual activiites. I'm feeling a bit fragile and things aren't 100%. My groin muscle is still twinging some and so is my hip. My "good" knee is now acting up big time, probably from overuse, so I'm still taking it easy. But being off the crutches is such a huge relief! Thanks to all of you for your supportive comments.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Stitching

Last week I had four days off of work. I didn't just sit and stitch (really), but I did have a project and goals. In the next couple of weeks I'm getting together with friends for some belated birthday lunches and needed gifts, so I made a towel for each friend featuring birthday month. My goal was one a day...I didn't quite make it. I'm still using what's upstairs and handy and most of my thread is in the basement. I had everything I needed except for black for the cat. I braved a gusty storm on Monday to get that and finished up the four towels. Phew!On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I started off my project with this turkey. I stitched all of the towels with DMC perle 5. Probably not my first choice, but it was handy and I really ended up liking it. The stitching, mostly outline, is very dimensional. For this design, I stitched the leaves in backstitch and the rest in outline.February came next. For this one I stitched the ruffle around the heart in split stitch. It is not the best stitch with perle in my opinion, but I wanted the line to be less firm and more, well, ruffly, and the split stitch did that. It was also easier to maneuver around the curved shapes.July gave me fits. So far, I'd gotten away with outlines, but if I just outlined the stripes, they would just be a mass of confusing thin lines. And the stars were gray, the color of the transfer. So I outlined each stripe, staying to the "inside" of the line for each red stripe. Then I filled in with chain stitch. It's pretty heavy but okay. I tried doing the stars in white and outlining them or filling in the background in blue but it was awful. So, I pulled it all out and made the stars in blue.

I used the star stitch from the Kissing Pillow chart to stitch each star. I gave it a nice shape and a bit of an open center on some (hard with a tiny shape and such thick thread). I stitched the fireworks using whipped back stitch with some French knots. Again, backstitch is not a stitch I would usually use with perle cotton--it looks very wiggly because of the sheen of the fiber. But it worked quite well, I think, for fireworks. I did some of the smaller ones in plain backstitch.October came last. I liked this one a lot and had fun with it. The turkey's eye is a French knot but I stitched the eyes of the doves in February and the cat's eyes with a granitos stitch and I like the shape it gave. Just not quite round.

You can find really good instructions and tips for these stitches at Mary Corbet's website, Needle 'n Thread. I found myself recalling a lot of her tips as I stitched this weekend.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Nice Holiday

We had a nice crowd for our Thanksgiving dinner, on Saturday this year. I'd say it was relaxed but, then, I didn't do all the work. Dolly came and sat in the window and supervised. Things are getting under way here.My sister-in-law is showing off the baby had she had just finished. They set the baby on the floor with all of the yarn and let him choose the colors.Everyone's waiting for the feast.
I didn't get any pictures of the turkey or trimmings...... or the equally laden dessert table--my brother made a yummy caramel cheesecake with chocolate sauce. It looks like he's in a bit of post-dinner stupor below.Dolly stayed and supervised the clean up. I took the carcass of the bird home to make soup.It was wonderful to gather together. I sat in the dining room and talked with my sister as she worked and just listed to the ebb and flow of the conversations in the living room (everyone talking over everyone else most of the time). It was great.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are so many things to be thankful for! I am very happy that we have a tradition of setting aside a day to focus on them--and friends and family (not to mention good food!--as I said, a lot to be thankful for!)
Thank you for coming by to visit and comment.
Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

not much going on

Winter's settling in. It's storming against my window right now.

We saw the new Harry Potter movie this weekend. Now we can't wait for the final movie. I need that ending. (I found the final book to be difficult, it was full of frustration and anger as the situation developed. I also found the end quite satisfying. This movie covers the difficult half of the book--the part I found hard to read. We did find this movie to be better than the previous two with more detail. I think it is quite well done.)

I spent some time working along on ongoing projects--a few rows on the cranberry alpaca cable knit scarf, I'm back on track with the second round washcloth and have it beyond the half-way point, I worked some on the crewel needlebook. Nothing new going on, although it's very tempting.

I did get a good dose of inspiration and holiday cheer today from the e-zines blogged about by Zakka Life, here. Check it out!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finished Objects

Sitting does have it's advantages; I'm getting some things done.I added a lacy edging tot he bottom of the pin doll's skirt. I took some perle 5 that I found nearby--sometimes it pays to not be neat and put things away. I had a crochet hook to hand, too, and made up a lacy edging. I am so much happier with it now.

The lace is a simple one. I crocheted a chain long enough to fit around the bottom of the doll's skirt. I added three more chain stitches for the first single crochet, chain one, of the next row. I skipped the fourth chain from the hook, sc in the next chain, chain 1, skip next chain of the first row, sc in next chain, keep up the sc, ch 1 across. At this point I joined it into a circle.

I could have joined the chain row but it's so easy to get that twisted. By joining after the second row, it was much easier to keep it from getting twisted. The last row was picots. ch 4, slip stitch into the 3d chain from the hook, ch 1, dc in first ch 1 space. Repeat *ch 4, ss into 3d ch from hook, ch 1, sc in next ch 1 space* across. Join at the end, stitch in the two ends, slip stitch the lace onto the doll (or handkerchief or purse or whatever) from underneath using matching sewing thread. Voila!I finished the cable hat. I've just barely begun the scarf. The yarn is really nice, but I did not see it in Knit Pick's newest catalog (the kit was several years old). The hat went quickly--I'd do it again.I also finished the first washcloth. Along the way I lost one of my knitting needles and substituted a double-pointed steel needle that looked about the right size. I put tape on one end to keep the stitches on. This was the easiest of the washcloths, but I really like the spiral pattern. I'm approaching the half-way point on the next washcloth, but the last time I tried knitting I ripped more than knit so I just gave it up. It's #2 in difficulty. I'm doing them in order. Next I'll cast on for #3, but first I think I need to get another pair of bamboo needles. I like them best with this yarn. (I think part of my problem with the second cloth is that I'm using harder to manage cable needles that are slippery.

I didn't do much embroidery this week, I'm really enjoying the knitting for now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Retail Therapy

While I'm waiting to be ready for physical therapy, I've been indulging in some retail therapy. I'd actually ordered this book a couple of months ago; it arrived after my injury. Exile is a graphic novel telling part of the story of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, the first book in the series. It tells the story from a totally different perspective than the book. This tale is told by Jamie's godfather and is very different than the book. Way cool.

This has gotten me back into reading the novels (yet again). I've finished Outlander and am about 1/3 of the way through Dragonfly in Amber. There are currently seven thousand-page-or-so novels in the series, so I'll be happily occupied for a while.This is some woolfelt from Vintage Vogue. I have a couple of Japanese books with patterns for making pastries, cookies and chocolates from felt and that's what I plan to do with this. I may also make a companion for Dolly--lots of skin tones here.More from Vintage Vogue, this time from their sale page. Glass leaf charms in two shades of green and clear and 1/2" shisha mirrors. There was a project a while back in Stitch with the Embroiderer's Guild (UK) that I liked and it featured shisha. (issue #66) I have no purpose for the leaves other than I thought that they would come in handy. (holiday napkin rings with some red ribbon perhaps?)