Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts on Hurricane Sandy

This week much of the U.S. has been hit by a weather system referred to as Hurricane Sandy.  It's been, as many have called it, the storm of the century.  A storm out of the southern tropics that has come north to mix with a Noreaster along with high tides from a full moon.  It brought devastating flooding, and several deaths, to much of the East Coast and many adjoining inland states.  It's also the first time in record keeping history we can say that a blizzard has been caused by a hurricane, where parts of West Virginia and Virginia are being covered in up to 2-3 feet of snow.

I personally want to say a huge thank you to all the first responders (police, firefighters, medical personnel, utility workers, etc.) & military personnel that have been working so hard to make sure people are safe during this terrible time.  It's a truly selfless act to put others before yourself during times like this.

And for those of you that ignored evacuation orders because you thought you'd be OK and then had to be rescued...considering most communities won't bill you for the cost of those first responders, I hope you feel like an ass and realize you've jeopardized other people's lives.  People that thought about YOU before they thought about themselves.  Do something to make up for it.  Help clean up your neighborhood.  Yes, your neighborhood, not just your own house.  Sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.  Do SOMETHING to make amends and pay it forward. 

Sorry, I digressed.  Getting down off my soap box and moving on.

Here in N.E. Ohio we were lucky with just some localized flooding and power outages brought on by heavy rains and strong winds, which we're still experiencing.  I watched on the live news last night as people were driving to the shores of Lake Erie to see in person the waves caused by Sandy. I wanted to share a picture with you of the waves crashing onto I-90 (along with several other pics), but it appears Blogger is having issues this morning.  

I personally spent yesterday hunkered down at my house keeping dry & warm.  I cross stitched another ornament for my shop made a new chicken recipe, called Chicken in Beer, from Lidia's Italy.  The house smelled wonderful while it was cooking and the chicken was so juicy & yummy!  Max survived several trips outside in the wind & rain.  As the winds were getting stronger throughout the night it made him nervous to the point he was continually pacing the house (something Lobo used to do).  Thankfully he finally settled down about 1:00am and went to sleep.  I worry about him constantly the older he gets (he's now around 15) and do everything I can to comfort and protect him.

I'm thankful all my friends and family appear to be safe and hope there are not any more deaths related to the hurricane.  We're a strong nation and it's times like this people pull together to rebuild.  I know it's the election season, and this has been a brutal mud-slinging one, but please put politics aside and think of the victims not as republicans or democrats, but as human beings that are in need of assistance.  It's amazing what helping others can do for the soul. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pattern of the Week - October 27, 2012

Every day I think about my dream of living in a rural Italian village, living off the land, walking to the markets to get my daily needs and designing and stitching for my full-time income.  Unfortunately I know it's most likely just a dream and will never be a reality, but I'm not giving up on it.  The more I think about it the more I want to be there.  With that I figured I'd share a beautiful pattern from Mystic Stitch today, called "Tuscan Beauty", that depicts a couple of gorgeous stone houses that look like these smaller villages.  Just click the picture and you can get it on sale at 123stitch.com

Friday, October 26, 2012

Freebie Friday - October 26, 2012

I like to try to find different places that have free patterns available so you always have a good selection of choices.  Today's free pattern comes from the DMC website.  I've chosen one from their list of Christmas patterns.  This one is called "Winter Landscape".  You do have to register for the site, but it is FREE and only takes a quick moment to sign up.  

Just click the picture and you'll be taken to the link.  :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tips & Techniques - Magnifiers

It's something that many of us have to deal with, and don't always like to admit...needing to use some sort of magnifier to be able to stitch our projects.

I grew up wearing glasses from the age of 6, just to be able to see/read ANYTHING, let alone doing my needlework.  There were times I needed a magnifier and many, many years ago there weren't a lot of options on what you could use and still hold your needlework.  I ended up going with the hands-free over your head magnifier like this:
I never personally cared for it.  I thought it was uncomfortable to wear and the stitches were soooo huge it was harder to stitch with it than without it, so I stopped using it (but still have it just in case I need it in the future).

You can also get the type of magnifiers that clip onto your project.  They come in different sizes and magnifier strengths.  Again, I personally don't care for these as I don't use a frame stand and hold my project in my hand, so I think it is difficult to handle as it adds some extra weight to the hoop/qsnap frame.

Well 9 years ago I was lucky enough to have Lasik surgery on my eyes.  I went from being nearsighted with a -7.75 prescription to being able to see 20/15 (yes, they corrected my eyes better than normal 20/20 vision!!).  As time is creeping up on me and I'm now in my fabulous 40's, my vision has started to slip a little on some of the fine details (as expected, but not enough to need a "touch up" on my surgery).  I have found the perfect magnifier for me is simple reading glasses or "cheaters" as a lot of people like to call them.

I've found a local discount store where I can get them for $.88/pair and I DO get them in all kinds of funky patterns and styles.  People do tend to look at me strangely in the store when I'm trying them on because instead of standing there with a book or magazine to get the right strength I'm standing with a piece of fabric in my hands, lol!  I have different strengths I use for the different count fabrics I use.  And I don't always use them.  If I'm stitching on a 14 or 16 count fabric I typically don't use them.

These three options are just a few of the many that are out there.  Most people have their favorite just as I do, but I figured I'd at least highlight a few of them for those that have problems seeing their fabric/stitches and have never considered using an aid that can help them continue on with their stitching for years to come.  :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Money Monday - October 22, 2012

Today's money savings tip for you has absolutely nothing to do with cross stitch, needlework or any type of crafting.  Instead it is something that every single one of us has to buy...GROCERIES.

I thought I'd pass along a couple of websites I've been using to either get coupon savings or actual cash back into my PayPal account, all without ever having to print anything out and take to the store.

The first is Cellfire. This site attaches to your local grocery store rewards/loyalty card (if you have one) and will provide e-coupons where you don't have to clip anything out and take with you.  All you have to do to register with some basic information and then either log into your cellfire account or grocery store website prior to shopping and simply click on the offers you'd like to have uploaded to your card.  When you have your cashier swipe your rewards/loyalty card like you normally would, any e-coupons that have been loaded to your card will deduct from your bill just like a normal coupon.
The second site is SavingStar.  This site works very similar to Cellfire, only instead of deducting from your grocery bill the savings accumulate in your account online and you can redeem them one of several ways:  deposit into your bank account, deposit into your PayPal account, Amazon gift card or what I believe is a donation to AmericanForests.org.  I can tell you I've personally been doing the deposits into my PayPal account.  These are actual funds, nothing fraudulent or anything, and the money is in my account within a few business days of requesting it.  I've personally earned $14.75 in the last several months.  If you click here you will go to their page that lists all of their current participating grocery store chains.

Here's the best part...if you're really good about couponing & saving money, you can actually "stack" your deals to get an even better savings.  Here's an actual example from my grocery shopping I did two days ago:

I bought a box of Cocoa Puffs Cereal for Zach.  It wasn't on sale so I had to pay the regular price of $4.49/box.  I had a Cellfire e-coupon for $.50, a cut out coupon for $.50 which my grocery store will double and then a SavingStar e-coupon also for $.50.  That turned into a total savings on the box of $2.00 so I got his cereal for $2.49 instead of $4.49.  Now if I was having a good week, the cereal would have been on sale too, but it didn't work out that way for me this time. 

Now so you know, I'm not receiving any type of compensation for endorsing these sites, although it would be nice if they did that.  I'm just passing along a way for everyone to save a few dollars here & there, which in today's economy can turn into a nice chunk of change at the end of the year.  I hope you've found this information useful.  Happy shopping!  :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Swirled Heart - The Finish

I have another finish today...yay!!  This time it is the model for my pattern "Swirled Heart".

This piece is a relatively quick stitch as it is done in all one color so it will really pop from the fabric you stitch it on.

I'm currently selling the pattern on a pre-order basis with a 33% discount.  I have to finish tweaking it from changes/corrections I made while stitching the model.  If you're interested in purchasing a copy of the pattern, just click the photo below and you'll go straight to the listing in my Etsy shop.

And as always, I'll also be selling the stitched model of the pattern.  This would make a unique Christmas gift for someone, and at only $15.00 it's a real bargain!  If you're interested in getting the model, which there's only the one of, just click the photo.

Now I'm off the computer again to try and get a 2nd project finished up today.  It is my Thanksgiving themed piece that I'm stitching for the Etsy Needle Arts Team (Etsy NEAT) Challenge.  My reveal date is supposed to be Wednesday, so I'd better get to it.

Happy Stitching!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pattern of the Week - October 20, 2012

I've been working on the model for my "Swirled Heart" this week and have shared some pictures of it on Facebook and Twitter.  I had a fellow tweeter reply to one of those shares complimenting me on the piece and asking me if it was an "AAN".  I had no clue what they were talking about, so of course I went to Google, and I'm sooooo glad I did!

It turns out "AAN" is Alessandra Adelaide Needleworks.  I'm absolutely in love with her designs!!  I actually sat and scrolled through all 195 of them on the 123stitch.com site.  I've added several of them to my wishlist.  And since Halloween is right around the corner, I decided to use "Zucca" as my Pattern of the Week.  Just click the picture and you'll go to where you can purchase the pattern.  :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Freebie Friday - October 19, 2012

Turkey Day is only about 5 weeks away in the U.S. and I'm already stitching up some Thanksgiving items.  I thought it might be a good choice to share with you this week.  Just click the picture to go to the site where you can download the pattern.  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Punkin Chunkin

Years ago I saw a show on the Discovery Channel called "Punkin Chunkin".  It was really pretty cool.  People build different types of contraptions that hurl pumpkins through the air to see who can get them to fly the farthest.  They have several different categories, including trebuchet, catapults and air cannons.

It amazes me how far you can get a pumpkin to fly!  The current world record in the Adult Air Cannon category is 4,483.51 feet.  That's like 3/4 of a mile (a mile is 5,280 feet)!!!

Unfortunately since I got rid of my cable package we can't watch this year's episode.  :(  Guess I'll have to wait for additional videos, like this one, to come out on YouTube.

And if you're in the Bridgeville, DE area you should try to get down there and see it.  It is November 2-4th this year and is something that is on my Bucket List as a fun event for sometime in the future.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tips & Techniques - The Basic Tools

In my opinion, there are 3 basic tools you need to have when you're doing any type of needle work....a good pair of small sewing scissors, a needle threader and some sort of needle case.

Below is a picture of the ones I have.  Mine are just the basic/generic ones you can get at any craft store.  I've had all of them for years & years.  In fact, I think some of my tools are probably older than my 20-year-old son, lol!

Scissors - you want to have a small pair with a fine point end that is great for snipping those threads really close to your ground (fabric, canvas, whatever).  My main pair are Fiskars.  I also have a pair of the ever popular "stork" scissors, that I keep in my stitching bag that travels with me.  A scissor fob is completely optional.  The one attached to my scissors was a gift from a fellow stitcher several years ago.  It's definitely been helpful for me on the times I've left my scissors on my lap, instead of putting them back on the table, and they have slid down into the couch/recliner.  Admit it, we've all done it.  :)

Needle Threader- it's a great tool to prevent you from licking the end of your floss so you can get it through the eye of the needle.  I use a generic DMC one that has 3 different sizes, as I do stitch many different types of projects that all have different needle sizes and different thicknesses in fibers.

Needle Case - You'll need a needle case to keep all of your needles in.  I like to have one with a magnetic strip on it so I have someplace to sit my needle while I'm grabbing my next strand of floss, etc. I personally never leave a needle in the fabric of my piece when I'm not working on it.  Having the magnet also helps eliminate the worry of a needle falling on the floor and someone stepping on it.

Now if you like to have "fancier" tools, there are all sorts of options for them.  I personally love all the products my friend Tommye over at TJB Designs has in her shop.  Follow the link above to stop by and check them out.  Oh, and she offers gift certificates too, which are always a great idea for our significant others to get for us stitchers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Money Monday - October 15, 2012

This week's savings is brought to you by JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts.

They started a Moonlight Madness Sale yesterday and it runs through Saturday, October 20th.  Unfortunately their ads don't say anything about floss or cross stitch fabric being on sale, but they do have sale pricing on items that us stitchers can still use....lighting and scissors, and at 50% OFF too!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pattern of the Week - October 13, 2012

Sometimes I just can't get myself out of my fantasy world I live in where I have an idyllic life in a small Italian village.  I'd be able to walk to the markets each day and split my time between working in a small vegetable garden and my cross stitch instead of the life I lead here in the U.S.  My daydreaming this week has me thinking about drinking my morning coffee outside of some little bistro, cafe, whatever you want to call it.  

Hence my search  began and it wasn't too long before I came across this beauty available at one of my favorite online shops...123stitch.com

And I guess instead of "pattern of the week" I should probably be calling this one "kit of the week" as it is available as a full kit only through Dimensions.

So, where would YOU like to be drinking your morning coffee?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Freebie Friday - October 12, 2012

Since this was National Cake Week over in the UK, I figured I needed to share a downloadable cake pattern with you.

There will be one slight difference from the pattern I created (on old software and can't fix it now) and this picture.  I decided to add flames to the tops of the candles.  If you want to do the same, just pick any bright orange and yellow for the flames and be creative.  Just click the picture and you'll be taken to the file download site.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Some Recent Finishes

Yes, believe it or not I actually do stitch. LOL!  

I figured since I recently showed you some of my WIPs I should probably show you some of my finishes.  

 Garden Gnome
This piece will be going to The Good Goat Gallery.  I haven't decided yet if I will offer it as a "made to order" item in my Etsy shop.  It's not completely finished as it still needs a bow at the top & some ribbon to hang it from.  I wanted to get a pic of it for this post.

Stay tuned for a future post with more finishes as I've been busy stitching every day trying to get my shop stocked for the holidays as well as make more items for The Good Goat Gallery.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tips & Techniques - How to "End" A Strand of Floss

Yesterday I had the question asked "How do I end my floss without it looking messy?"

I guess the definition of the term "messy" can vary by person, where one person can think it looks good and another will think it's not.  Hence the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

I'm sharing a picture of part of a piece I'm currently working on.  For the 35 years I've been stitching I've always ended (and started) my strand of floss the same way, by running it under stitches that are close to it.  I always try to run it under stitches of the same color, but that's not always possible, so I try to use a color that's as similar as possible.

Once I'm done completely stitching the piece I'll go along and trim up all the pieces that stick out from the threads, like the blue that is running through the tan, so there aren't any "tails" sticking out.  I still do this even when I'm covering the back of the piece where someone won't be able to see the stitches.

Hopefully this clarifies the question and might teach someone a new technique.  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Money Monday - October 8, 2012

Today I'm sharing a 50% off any one regularly priced item from JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts.  The coupon doesn't expire until October 31st, so there's plenty of time left to use it.  Just click the photo and you'll get a coupon to print.

Also, if you're on Facebook and you haven't "like" JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts yet, I highly suggest it as they post stuff like this quite frequently.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stitchery Showcase 2012

Yesterday marked the 25th year that my mom and I have been going to the Stitchery Showcase at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.  For those of you that aren't familiar with it, Stan Hywet is the estate of F.A. Seiberling that founded The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron, OH.  It is an absolutely beautiful Tudor estate full of wonderful gardens, a butterfly conservatory, Japanese Teahouse and so much more that there's never a dull moment wandering around.

Back in 1974 the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild held it's first Stitchery Showcase.  It's an event that hundreds of pieces are entered into each year.  You see cross stitch, needlepoint, surface embroidery, stumpwork, blackwork, handmade quilts, etc.  The main requirement is that none of the stitching is done by machine.

It's such a wonderful way to get inspired if you're in a stitching slump.  It usually takes me about 1 hour to go through the display in the Manor House Auditorium as I like to get as close to some of the pieces that I can, look at the stitching techniques, etc.

Several years ago the Stitchery Showcase was moved to a stand alone Spring event to be held in the Fall with the Ohio Mart.  I think this makes it so much more fun.  After we're done looking at all the  beautiful stitched works we can then go outside to walk through tents throughout the grounds that have booths of more than 100 artisans and look at (and sometime purchase) the wonderful items they make.

Normally my mom and I go alone as this is something "we" do.  This year I got together a group of stitchers from around Ohio.  One of them I knew from a monthly stitching group we used to have at a now closed local needlework shop.  The others I have met through various Facebook stitching groups.  It was a new experience for all the ladies and I think (and hope) they all had a blast.  Here's a pic of all of us except my mom, who was playing photographer, while we took a lunch break in between all the fun.  I'm the one in the center, back row.  :)

Hopefully this is something we can do again in the future.  I was sad to hear yesterday that the Stitchery Showcase will no longer be held every year and the next one won't be until 2014.  I guess the good news in that is it gives me 2 years to stitch something to enter (that doesn't get sold in my shop or a gallery) as it's been quite a few years since I've entered anything.

Take a moment and search around the area you live in.  There may be events like this that you can attend that you've never known about.  

Happy Stitching!  :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pattern of the Week - October 6, 2012

Fall is in the air and I've had to officially turn the heat on at my house.  The leaves are turning beautiful colors and falling to the ground.  With all the seasonal changes I figure it's a great time to feature another lovely pattern in the tribal series...the acorn.  So be like a squirrel, head over to 123stitch.com and add this beauty to your stash.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Freebie Friday - October 5, 2012

Alas it's time for my reader's favorite day of the week...Freebie Friday!

Even though the downloadable patterns have been a huge hit, I'm skipping one today as I didn't have time to get one ready.  Instead I thought I'd share with you the page of free patterns available by Cross Stitch Crazy Magazine.


Now you do have to register for the site, which is free, and you'll need to log in each time you want to download one of their free PDF patterns, but the selection is so great that it's well worth the couple minutes of time.  Just click the picture and it will take you straight through to the site.  :)

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Paper Quilling

I've seen paper quilling before and thought it was cute and interesting on a small scale.  For those of you that aren't familiar with paper quilling, here's a partial description of it from Wikipedia:

Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape. The paper is then glued at the tip and these shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork.

Now that you know what it is, I'll get on with my post.  

So recently I came across the works of Lisa Nilsson, and let me just say I think she is amazing!  Her page doesn't have all the normal cute flowers, insects, etc.  Instead she has created works of the internal human body with fantastic detail.  I've shared a couple of them here.  Please take a moment to check out her page for other pieces and I'm sure you'll be amazed too! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tips & Techniques - How to "Jazz Up" Your Hoop Frames

I showed you previously how to "frame" your piece using a wooden hoop.  Today I'm going to show you how you can give it new life besides looking like a plain ole light brown hoop.

There are two techniques I'm going to show you today, and they're both relatively simple.

The first one is to simply paint your hoop using a non-toxic acrylic craft paint.  I have 2 examples for you. One I painted a flat black and the other I painted a metallic gold.  Your paint choice is entirely your own personal preference.  I like to go with something that will compliment the stitched piece.

You really only need to paint the top portion of the hoop as the back is typically against the wall.  If you're making smaller ornaments or something that is going to dangle where the back can been seen, you might want to paint the bottom portion of the hoop as well.

The second technique is one that's new to me, but I think I'm hooked after only the first time of doing it.  It's ribbon wrapping your hoop.

The instructions I saw in a magazine said to put a small piece of double-sided tape on the inside of your hoop to hold the ribbon in place.  I found the double-sided tape I have didn't want to stick to the wood, so I used a small dot of tacky glue.  Once I started wrapping the ribbon around I put a small binder clip on the hoop/ribbon to hold it in place at the glue spot while it was drying.  You just keep wrapping and overlapping the ribbon until you get to the other end of the hoop.  Again, more tacky glue and a binder clip to hold in place.  I apologize for not taking step-by-step photos, but I didn't think about using it as a tips & techniques post until after I had the piece completely finished.  

The spool of ribbon I used was 5/8" wide and was 6ft. in length for a 5 inch hoop.  I had about 1 foot left over that I used to hang the piece from.  So with that it appears you'll need about 1 foot of ribbon for each inch in diameter of the hoop.  The ribbon really gives the piece more dimension and a texture it wouldn't have had in just a plain wood hoop.

I'll throw in a money saving tip for you also...don't be afraid to put your stitched piece in a bag and take it to your local craft store with you to match a paint color, ribbon choice, etc.  You'll be able to see the colors together and will save money by not having to guess.  Yes I know you can always take it back, but if you get it right the first time around there won't be any valuable wasted crafting/stitching time and/or wear & tear on your car (not to mention $4.00/gallon gas!!).  The "regular" employees at my local JoAnn Fabric & Crafts and Hobby Lobby are used to seeing me in there all the time with various stitching/craft projects trying to get just the right match on something.

I hope you've found this post helpful and I look forward to seeing pics that you want to share!  :)

Note added on 10/9/12 - Now that I've wrapped a couple of other hoops I've learned some additional tips.  A grosgrain ribbon is much easier to use than a velvet, as the velvet was almost too thick to be able to get the fabric in the hoop with it on.  Also, a thinner ribbon in width is also easier to work with, like using a 5/8" width vs. a 7/8" width.  Just a few observations that I hope will help others.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Money Monday - October 1, 2012

I'm so glad JoAnn's decided to do another 20% off your entire purchase coupon for this week, because I wasn't able to make it there last weekend.

If you click the picture of the coupon it should take you to their page where you can download and print it.

Happy Shopping!!  :)