A plethora of things!

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

Hello there! I hope you are all doing well. We are doing just fine here in my household. Life is certainly strange and precarious, isn’t it? For a homemaker like me, staying home all the time is not a big deal. I have been cooking a lot more for my family, and also crafting a whole bunch. I realize my situation is ideal for my family, but it’s not for so many millions of others. Hopefully we can all keep doing what we can as individuals to stop the spread of Covid so we can eventually get back to what we once knew as a state of normalcy!

In the past several months, I have been infected with a different sort of bug. It’s called the cross-stitching bug, and it works its way into your system and doesn’t let go! Before you know it, you are digging through long-forgotten supplies, purchasing instant downloadable patterns online, and attempting to coffee/tea dye fabric. It’s a doozy, I tell ya.

So yes, there’s a partially completed knit cardigan on needles, there are two partially crocheted blankets, and who knows what else! This type of ailment seems to get me every once in a while, and even though it causes more “mind clutter” and sometime more physical clutter, I just end up embracing it, and not beating myself up over it. Since my last post, when I showed off a cross stitch I made for my mother-in-law, I really didn’t think at that time that I’d be doing a lot of stitching projects. But I can tell you what happened. It’s called “Flosstube.”

Flosstube is the name given to YouTube videos that are about cross-stitching, or I suppose any type of stitching with floss or threads. You may know how YouTube works: you view a video about cross-stitching, it suggests a bunch more. And the people who make Flosstube videos always talk about fellow stitchers and their Flosstubes, so this is essentially the most fun rabbit hole I’ve come across this year! I now subscribe to many Flosstubers and there’s never a shortage of things to see, techniques to learn, and in general, time spent with genuine people, albeit through my computer monitor. It’s quite a community!

Clockwise from upper left: “Happy Halloween” by Silver Creek Samplers; “Mr. Green Jeans” by Teresa Kogut; “Three Witches” by Barbara Ana Designs; “It’s Halloween” by Foxwood Crossings

Above you will see the Halloween or fall themed projects I’ve either completed or am working on. I made my first dye attempt with the Monaco fabric in It’s Halloween. First, I dyed the fabric orange with Rit dye, set the color in the oven, then I coffee/tea dyed the fabric and set it in the oven again. I learned to do this wonderful thing from the Real Housewives of Cross Stitch, Priscilla and Chelsea! Here is a link to their video tutorial on dyeing fabric. It was easier than I thought it would be, and I love the results you get by scrunching up the fabric on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) and setting the color in the oven at 200 degrees.

The punch needle project is a wonderful design by Teresa Kogut, a lovely artist and designer who resides in Michigan (where I’m from!) I really enjoyed punching this design, and I used an Ultra Punch Needle. I find I punch very close, or tight, and I like the way it looks. It probably took longer than it should have, but I am happy with the results.

The little pillow design by Silver Creek Samplers was stitched on an Aida cloth called Fog I purchased at Fat Quarter Shop (online). I had some scraps of homespun fabrics from a thousand years ago that worked perfectly to finish this pillow.

And lastly there’s Three Witches by Barbara Ana Designs. I just love her designs and wonky alphabets. This project would be going better had I chose a better fabric. But it’s nearly done so I must go on!

I am also working on some random stitching projects, as seen in the next collage.

Clockwise from upper left: “A Night in India” by Clouds Factory; an unknown pattern found on Pinterest; “Deco Cornflowers” by The Steady Thread; “Feast of Friendship” by Blackbird Designs.

A lot of people are stitching Feast of Friendship. I actually purchased mine (before I even knew how popular it was) at my local needlework shop called Stitchville USA in Minnetonka, MN. I also purchased the floss for it. I learned that there’s more than just DMC floss for stitchers. There are many wonderful overdyed flosses out there, and they give such wonderful texture to the overall design. It’s very evident in Feast of Friendship.

The very graphic A Night in India is going to be a biscornu, which is a lovely decorative pincushion or little pillow in a geometric finish. I have the other side to finish stitching, then I can turn it into a biscornu.

The little winter scene with houses is just something I stumbled upon while looking at my Pinterest feed. The pattern seems to be from a German magazine. I was able to figure out what colors it called for, but in some instances, I chose my own colors. I am a sucker for winter scenes!! I love them so much. I finished it using a piece of sticky board and some batting, and stuck it in a little shadow box thing most likely from Target’s dollar spot, that said something, I cannot remember what! I had the tiny rustic snowshoes in a drawer with other random crafty things, and they turned out to be a perfect addition to the piece.

Lastly, the stark black and white stitching is called “Blackwork” and I love it so much. I found the design on Etsy and the shop owner has so many intricate designs to choose from. I am working on the border to the design, which is quite involved. So what you see in my photo is just a small portion of the entire design. If you click on the link in the caption, you’ll be directed to the Etsy shop where you will see so many great Blackwork embroidery designs. I can’t wait to finish it and get it framed. It’s gorgeous. I’m using one strand of black DMC floss.

And lastly, I’d like to discuss how I did not purchase any Halloween candy to pass out this year. I knew in my neighborhood, the kids were going to a few houses then congregating down the street in the cul-de-sac to visit for a bit. I decided not to pass out candy this year because we all had colds in my house, and I know if I had kids of trick-or-treating age, I wouldn’t want a sick neighbor handing out candy. I knew the neighbor kids would get plenty without me. Besides, I always buy candy that we like, and frankly, I don’t need to be eating all those Reese’s peanut butter cups, as much as I’d like to.

So to get myself in the Halloween mood, I ended up making some “haunted” Putz houses! I got my ideas from Lucy at Paper Glitter Glue. She is a very talented maker of Putz houses and other amazing crafts. I learned so much from her website, like how to push modeling paste through a stencil to get stone and brick textures. I also learned how to make the sweet twisted trees. My workspace was a total mess, as was my floor. But I ended up making three houses, although the first one was my attempt before consulting Lucy’s website for helpful tips and tutorials. I am so pleased with how these little miniatures turned out. A simple battery-operated tea light gives them the perfect aura of spookiness.

I did splurge and purchase a Sizzix machine to die cut rows of shingles for the roofs. This was a great idea, and not only did I end up with dies for shingles, I purchased some dies to make cards and such. I actually think it’s amazing that I have been crafting all my life, and I only just bought some type of die cutting machine in 2020. I have cut out a lot of little detailed things with an X-Acto knife, but I knew my right arm would never hold up to cutting out shingles from cardboard. For the windows, I used transparency film for inkjet printers but instead of printing on the film, I used black fine tipped art markers to draw images. This was so fun, and one of my favorite things about the finished houses. I also lined the inside of the houses with varying shades of torn yellow and orange paper that really make a bright glow when the tea light is on. I used air dry stone clay to make the little pumpkins, and I purchased some moss from the craft store for the shrubs.

I hope you saw something in this post to make you smile! I also wish you the very best in these trying times. I know I will miss seeing my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s just not possible and could be quite dangerous to expose older folks and people who are more vulnerable to illness. Please take care!

Jenny

I’ve been a bit busy!

(I get no revenue from any links. I simply add links if you need to see a pattern or product or video I have used.)

Cross Stitching

My mother-in-law just had a birthday! And I was so thrilled to be able to stitch this piece quickly, get it fully finished and mailed to her in time! This is one of several lovely design collaborations by chalk artist and all-around fabulous stitcher and decorator, Priscilla Blain, and one of my favorite designers, Cathy Habermann of Hands On Design. I’m not a super fan of country decor, but I do love a Mason jar here and there. And these Chalk Full designs by the two women are perfection in my eyes.

Behold, Chalk Full Harvest!

Photo of a finished cross stitch piece

I am so happy with how this turned out. I stitched mine on 14 count black Aida fabric with the called for “fancy floss” by Classic Colorworks and Gentle Art threads. I was concerned I didn’t have the right fabric to embellish the piece but I kept searching in my fairly small fabric stash and found this kind of batik-with-dots-style fabric I once purchased to make myself a night shirt. Well thank God that didn’t work out! (I am not a seamstress, after all). I simply cut strips of fabric 2 1/4″, attached them to become a longer strip, folded in half the long way and pressed. Then I used a good old needle and thread to make a large basting stitch along the unfinished edge and pulled gently to ruffle the fabric. Next, I glued it along the back of the finished stitching, which was wrapped and glued onto a piece of mat board.

Next, I crocheted a little sunflower and then added darker brown accents to the center of it with DMC floss and French knots. I cut some burlap, as well as a few ribbon pieces to make a bow. The bow and the stitching have magnets glued to the back so they can be easily removed from the metal cookbook stand, which I purchased at Hobby Lobby last year. This way, when I stitch more Chalk Full designs, I can put magnets on the back and my mother-in-law can simply swap out the designs as she sees fit.

Trash to Treasure

Pinterest, you sultry gal, I got sucked in again (happens daily) and this time, instead of a new idea popping up on my feed, I was browsing thru pins I already added to my Garden and Yard Board and found this: Giant Garden Alliums! I don’t remember when I added the pin that led to this delightful website, but it didn’t matter. The way my brain works is this: I looked at the photo of the crafted allium, I clicked to get to the instructions, I saw that a softball was needed, then my brain went: there’s a softball rolling around on the garage floor. Someone drew all over it with Sharpie. Your boys don’t play ball. GO GO GO!

So I went to my local hardware store, masked and hungry for supplies, and purchased nails, a 3 foot long threaded steel rod, and spray paint. And I made this!

Collage photo of the process of making a giant garden allium and a finished one

And it’s super cute but one isn’t enough. So I put out a call for more used softballs on Nextdoor and was able to get 11 more. Yay!! I also returned to the hardware store for more nails, rods and spray paint.

Quilts

Next up, something old. Not as old as me, but still. I don’t always finish projects right away. I may have mentioned this before. This first little gem is probably one of my very first attempts at piecing a patchwork quilt. I began this process when my first son was an infant. That was 20 years ago. Twenty.

I didn’t do a great job piecing and matching up all the angles, but it’s not terrible either. I was brand new at all these triangle pieces. Truth be told, I will always be brand new at it. I love the way they look but don’t really enjoy the process so much. Then at some point, I made it into a quilt sandwich and let it sit. I haven’t decided yet how to quilt it, but I did notice that I started hand-quilting it, which I don’t really remember…

Collage photo of a baby-sized calico quilt I began making twenty years ago

This is sized for a baby. I must have been thinking it would be for MY baby, who was just a wee little babe back then. Now he’s twenty! I love the variety of calico fabrics in this quilt, and maybe I will continue hand-quilting it at night while watching something good on TV.

The next UFO/PhD (unfinished object/project half done) is a larger, more modern string quilt! I made this when we lived in Illinois, so that means between 2009-2018, or something like that. String quilts are fun to me. You just grab some fabrics you like and piece a bunch of strips, or “strings” together, and then there are literally endless ways to incorporate blocks into a quilt. Again, get lost on Pinterest when you search for string quilts. I wish I could remember where I got the idea and/or inspiration for this one. It’s really fun, and it is a quilt sandwich now, meaning quilt top + batting + backing material. I dragged it out last month and then last week, I cleared off the ping pong table and set up my machine, thinking I was just going to quilt lines in one direction, maybe about 3/4″ apart. Well guess what. I haven’t quilted something this large before and thus I had a very difficult time managing that much fabric, even just to sew relatively straight lines! I did maybe 5 or 6 lines, then looked at my work and it was crap. It was not going to work out. So I painstakingly used my seam ripper and picked out all those stitches. Then I began again. And that’s where I left off. At the beginning.

Photo of a string quilt I am in the process of finishing
Collage photo of the string quilt and what went wrong as well as what might work.

I guess stay tuned??

Cards

Lastly, I want to share with you some cards I made. I was in need of some birthday cards for some dear loved ones and since I have a ready supply of basically everything paper craft-related, I consulted Pinterest for some ideas. (Do you detect a pattern?) Here are the cards I made most recently.

Collage photo of handmade cards I made.

I like the simplicity of these cards. This is a great way to use different papers from the same collection, as well as mixing and matching to see what works. In some cases, I distressed the edges of the papers with an antique brown ink designed for such a purpose. I love to add tiny flowers or buttons as embellishments. You can see also that I added some hemp string as embellishments. This does make the card bulky in the envelope. I may need to get some thinner material next time. I used rubber stamps to add the words.

Oh one more thing

I ordered a custom paint-by-number kit of my younger cat, Dewey. It took a really long time to arrive but it did! And I unrolled it, gasped, had a bit of buyer’s remorse, then sucked it up and began painting. I cannot let this take twenty years. I work on it a little bit each day.

Photo of a paint-by-number in progress of my cat Dewey.

That detail! The kit of course came with tiny pots of all the colors I will need, which amount to shades of grey, brown, beige. I maybe should have thought more about which photo to submit to the company. In the photo this kit is based on, Dewey is in front of my stone fireplace. Hmmm….

Well, time to get back to work. Those softballs aren’t going to get filled with nails themselves! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you are all safe and well. — Jenny