cross stitch

Finish-along with &Stitches

If you are an &Stitches reader (and I hope you are!), you’ll know that we’re starting 2014 off with a finish-along. A good way to start a new year, I think – tidying up the project basket and getting things done!

My finish-along goal might be a little different than others, because I don’t have one project to focus on, I have a pile:

Embroidery to Finish-along with &Stitches!

This pile is my official entry to the &Stitches Finish-along, because it’s all embroidery. It might seem a bit excessive, but this whole post (embroidery and otherwise) is full of projects that are nearly all at least 80% finished — and I don’t honestly expect that I’ll finish them all. So pictured above:

  • French Knot sampler, with only one partial section left to complete.
  • Orangework Sampler, not quite half done, but this is a fairly small and quick project.
  • Eels lyrics embroidery! Oh, how I love this project so, and am so sad that it got so deeply buried at the bottom of the basket. There’s not much left to do really, but I was stumped by the best way to stitch those teeeeensy flowers and it was put on pause.
  • The cross-stitch pictured is from a kit bought at the Bronte House about 12 years ago. It’s a reproduction of a sampler Charlotte Bronte stitched as a little girl. She must’ve had amazing eyesight, because this has lingered for so long simply because it is so tiny I can barely see it. But there’s only one line left to stitch!
  • And lastly, those blue-gray blobby flowers? Those are updated from a pattern book from 1915 and are something I started a very, very long time ago. I honestly doubt I’ll get to this one in time, but I can give it a sporting try, right? Those flowers are all done in satin stitch, and there’s leaves too, and it’s a slow project – but I do enjoy it a lot.

Although not officially tied to the &Stitches finish-along because it’s not embroidery, I’d also love to see this pile finished:

Knitting Projects to Finish-along

Again, all projects nearly done, it’s just silly that they’re still lingering. The magenta is my Henslowe shawl, which only needs blocking. The white is a secret thing that may possibly become a pattern – with very little knitting left to do. The camel alpaca project is a new shawl for my now-home-from-the-hospital mother. To be fair, this has only been on the needles for about a week, but I’m already on the edging and I don’t want it to linger, so I’ve included it. And the mustard colored project is a sock for my brother (the second of the pair) which is perfect for train travel and my upcoming visit to Amsterdam.

EPP project to finish-along

And lastly, this set of English Paper Pieced pillow covers, a gift for my mother now over a year late. Yikes. EPP is slow going, which is why I like it, but it is admittedly very unlikely to be finished quickly. However, one top is already finished and the other is about halfway, so it’s worth mentioning it here and hoping for the best.

These are, sadly, not all of my UFOs, but they are the UFOs that I: a.) definitely want to finish. There are one or two I’m not convinced about continuing, so they aren’t taking part in the finish-along, and b.) are far enough along that quick completion isn’t a pipe dream. Long-term UFOs like my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt don’t count, those are meant to be ongoing. I tend to only get frustrated by projects that linger unnecessarily, and that brings me to my one and only crafty resolution for 2014:

Less projects, more often.

Because I start too many projects at once, they all take for-ev-ar to finish, which means I’m totally sick of the sight of them by the time I get near the end, which means I let them pile up to this point I’m at now but I really don’t want to work on them anymore! This year, I want to have fewer WIPs going at once, so that I finish them and move on to new things faster. Shortening the cycle, as it were.

And the best place to start? Clearing out the basket. Let’s go!

Gift round-up: Russian sampler

Ok, next-to-last Christmas-related post, I promise, and this’ll be a short one – there’s not too much to say that I didn’t describe in my original post about this project.

Russian Sampler - finished & framed

Of course I used WAY more thread than I thought I would, but the price total didn’t actually go up, I just kept finding random skeins of DMC 321 all over the house. Seriously, it was like the house was producing them somehow – a couple in my embroidery box where I never keep floss, some in the box where I actually do keep floss, some in a little paper bag that must’ve been holding them for some reason. Freaky.

Russian Sampler - finished & framed

I realized at the very last minute – literally, the evening of Christmas Eve – that I had absolutely no idea how to frame embroidery properly. I started reading methods online and immediately freaked out. I had my charity shop frame, but none of the other supplies needed, and I had no idea how to stretch it properly or keep the glass away from the thread. Oy vey. But it came together, bit by bit, using only supplies found around the house (some high quality illustration board and acid-free double sided tape – some kind of shadow / reflection trickery makes it look a little lumpy in these photos, but I swear it looks smooth-smooth-smooth in real life) and, I hope you’ll agree, it all worked out reasonably well!

Little Elves – Free Holiday / Christmas Embroidery Pattern (temporarily removed)

If you’ve come here via google, or a bookmark you’ve saved, hi! I’m so pleased you stopped by. You’re probably looking for a free Christmas-themed embroidery pattern, and there’s nothing here now. The old pattern that was here has been tweaked and redesigned for regular freehand embroidery, and is now available — still free! — right here. Happy stitching! (updated: December 2, 2011)

Christmas panic: Russian cross-stitch sampler

Although I am totally freaking about finishing my handmade Christmas presents in time, I don’t actually exchange gifts with very many people at the holidays. Aside from my immediate family – parents and brother – there’s only a few. But it’s the family stuff that always causes me to panic for two reasons: 1.) we actually exchange and celebrate on a set day, whereas my gift to, say, my best friend, could be sent a month late and she won’t hate me or anything. I’d rather it be done on time, but it’s not the end of the world if not. And 2.) since we’re all grown-ups now and none of us really need anything, we usually set some sort of rule or limit on our gifts to make it more interesting and just that bit more special. In a way this makes it easier, actually, but it also means you are forced to be more creative and put some serious thought into it.

This year, our rules state that we can only spend £10 per gift receiver (but spending £0 is even better) and the gifts must be either handmade or found in a charity shop. Even for someone who would’ve made the presents anyway and who has a pretty big stash of materials already, it’s not as easy as you’d think!

Russian cross-stitch sampler, WIP

This is my first gift, for my mother who loves Russian history (her family having come from thereabouts way back in the day). I came across the chart quite randomly at the amazing and rather literally named Free Easy Cross, Pattern Maker, PCStitch Charts + Free Historic Old Pattern Books when I was looking for something completely different (I love the internet!). This is the first alphabet shown there; everything on that page comes from a Russian pattern book published in 1899. I love that I get to live in a world where this kind of stuff is made available by nice people – how freakin’ awesome is that?!

Russian cross-stitch sampler, WIP

Anyway, I’m two characters away from finishing the alphabet and then I will pick a border from lower down on that same page to fill out the charity shop frame I bought. I can’t yet decide if it should be a simpler border to let the lettering really shine, or one of the really ridiculously ornate ones. I’m leaning towards the latter since I’m so much further than I expected to be by now, but I’ll also have to see how much room I have in the frame.

So, project expenses?

Evenweave fabric: free, leftover from previous projects
Thread: about £3.50 (I had one skein of red, bought one more and two blacks, though I don’t know yet if I’ll use all of it)
Pattern: free, amazingly
Frame: £2-ish

Total: about £5.50, potentially less once I’m finished. Nice!

Woolgathering: Cross stitch lettering

Woolgathering: Cross stitch lettering

1. cross stitch letter buttons, 2. Coral Letter S, 3. sneak peek, 4. Slicing up eyeballs, 5. A little bit of, 6. for chicken findaloo, 7. Home Sweet Home, 8. nuts about you full, 9. Traditional Vulcan Embroidery, 10. Untitled, 11. Cross Stitch Monogrammed Secret Belgian Binding Mini Balsa Notebook, 12. BBD Autumn Song pincushion, 13. One done and two to go…, 14. A Cross-Stitched Alphabet, 15. Ampersand Cross Stitch, 16. Square 3 – Complete