It ain’t pretty

I spend a fair amount of time watching “floss tube,” drooling over incredible cross stitch samplers and everybody’s haul, WIPs, and even the pretty floss drops many stitchers use to keep their floss beautifully organized and picturesque while they work on a project. And while I do appreciate the many lovely ways to keep floss, I haven’t gotten on board with pretty floss drops because, well, I’m cheap.

Or should I say, I’m frugal, and somewhat thrifty. When I’m working on a stitching project, my main goal is to get the piece stitched as neatly as possible, even though I have let go of trying to be a perfectionist about it. I also like to focus on making sure the right floss is with the right project and that the floss doesn’t turn into a bird’s nest while in a project bag. Years ago, in the early 90’s, I was dating my now husband and we were at a local mall where I purchased a cross stitch pattern called Teddy Bear Reunion. It had over 50 colors of embroidery floss in the pattern, and I purchased all those DMC colors. Then I enlisted my future husband’s help to “bobbinate” all those flosses onto those little white cardboard pieces and stick them in a plastic box. I would pull out the color of floss I needed as I was stitching the many teddy bears.

Fast forward all these years later, and I am back into cross stitch like so many fellow crafters who used to stitch in the 80’s and 90’s. Cross stitch has made an enormous comeback and there are hundreds of talented designers creating beautiful patterns, hundreds of dyers creating all sorts of lovely linens and other materials to stitch on, and so much more than just DMC or Anchor floss available.

So, in 2023, I decided that I needed to get my flosses better organized. I still had the plastic box from the 90’s! I still had flosses my husband wrapped up on bobbins way back when. It’s easy to recognize his printing. I don’t have that much in the way of a floss collection because I have never gotten into any silks (yet) and I have only used DMC, Classic Colorworks overdyed flosses as well as The Gentle Arts overdyed flosses and Weeks Dye Works flosses. I also have literally 4 or 5 spools of Anchor floss. I tried to make my own cute floss drops with scrapbook paper glued onto stiff cardboard then die cut with my Sizzix machine, but this was tedious and not worth my time. So then I would just die cut plain old paperboard, or chip board. After I finished a project, I would just throw all the overdyed flosses into a small bin. After all, I didn’t have a lot.

But this was not working for me. I had flosses in about three or four separate containers. I had no list or database of colors (still don’t!) and I needed a better system. So one night while browsing Pinterest, I came across an image of flosses organized in a hanging file box and I decided that that could work for me. So I got on Amazon and purchased two file boxes, a whole bunch of ugly drab green hanging file folders, and several hundred of little metal paper fasteners. Then I got to work cutting up the file folders, punching holes, and inserting paper fasteners.

As you can see from the photos, these aren’t pretty. They are functional and for now, that’s what I care about. I have a variety of ways that floss is kept, and I’ve used a lot of leftover file folder material to make little floss drops. They are pretty ugly! But I don’t mind for now. My overdyed flosses are kept in alphabetical order and my DMC flosses are in numerical order. When I went through all my DMC floss, I did throw away the 30 year old flosses where I had very little left, or I had a newer skein to compare color with and there was so much difference that the old stuff went in the trash. All the floss I own is contained in one file folder box.

Lastly, here is another look at The Bramble and The Rose by Ink Circles that is getting close to completion. I am really enjoying the stitching on this one and it is going to look fantastic once it’s framed.

I wish I could remember where I found the vintage camper needle minder. Sorry about that!

And one more pic to hopefully brighten your day: my houseplants.

It’s May 2, and we are inching closer to more appropriate spring weather here in Minnesota. It’s been a very, very long winter. I look forward to sitting on my deck and stitching!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful day.

Back to it!

How does the time fly by so fast and I haven’t written a blog post? I guess it doesn’t matter because here I am now, attempting to write a post!

Spring has finally arrived in the midwest after a few stray snowfalls that sent most everyone into a depressive rant. Back in February, my husband and I took a work trip (HIS work) to Newport Beach, California. It was so nice to get away but because we have no family here in Illinois, and no family members from Michigan could come to stay with our boys, it was a bit worrisome for me to leave them with friends and neighbors. While my older son was fast approaching 18 years old, he can’t seem to get up on his own for school, so there was no way I could leave him in charge of himself and his 12 year old brother.

It all worked out though, and husband and I had a really awesome time in California even though it was a little bit chilly. It was sunny and seeing palm trees and green grass instead of the brownish-gray frozen midwest was quite nice. Plus, the resort we stayed at (Pelican Hill) was amazingly beautiful.

While we were there, we went kayaking, we went on an Art Walk in beautiful Laguna Beach, we did a super fun cooking class at Manassero Farms in Irvine, and we dined with colleagues at lovely restaurants as well as danced and had a great time at the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana.

In terms of MAKING STUFF,  I have been very busy making things because that is what I do. I love to make things, as I may have mentioned before. 😉 I also attended Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago for the first time and took a class on Japanese Knitted Fingerless Mitts.Collage 1

So as you can see from these collages, there are a lot of things that have been crafted since my last (so long ago) blog post. 

Then my younger son gave me absolutely NO time to come up with a costume and items for him for Patriot’s Day at school. I crafted him a tricorn hat thanks to a wonderful template and instructions I found at Pizza By The Slice!

The muskets were made with thick foam core board that I layered and glued three thick and then cut out with a reciprocating saw. Then my son and I did some carving and sanding and painting and adding paper bits as well as some hardware to get them looking realistic. It was a ton of work but they “sold” fast in the colonial market. Too bad he didn’t think to keep one! Oh well.

These photos aren’t everything but I would say they represent the majority of what I’ve been up to. More to come!

Thanks for stopping by!


Clearance can be a beautiful thing

Often times I go to a craft store with something in mind I need to purchase. Need is a loosely defined term in my life. If I grab a shopping cart, it’s only because what I need to purchase is too big or heavy for me to carry. If I don’t use a shopping cart, I’m likely going to buy only what I came for, and maybe one more thing. I have shopped at Costco for two items and did not get a cart. People look at me funny. But if I get a cart there, I end up getting things we don’t really need and in most cases, I have no freezer space or pantry space for. Oh and the bill. It’s too much!! One can only fit so many dozen bags of snack items on top of one’s refrigerator. And let’s face it, I’m the only one who will eat the seed-filled, whole grain, gluten-free, non-GMO crackers in the 64 oz size. This is NEVER a good idea. Yet I’ve made the mistake more than once.

But what I really enjoy is checking out the clearance areas at my local JoAnn’s, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. I have even scored some low-priced clearance yarn at my Meijer grocery/everything store.

About 4 months ago, I was shopping at Hobby Lobby for yarn for the ABC Baby Blanket, and I came across these painted needlepoint canvases in a clearance section. I found three that I really liked. I figured I would work these needlepoints and have them framed or somehow finished for whatever house we end up getting when we move next year*. They’re very vibrant — different than what I usually go for.

three canvases

I decided to get DMC embroidery floss for one of the canvases on that same shopping trip, so I could get started someday. I could have purchased perle cotton or Paternayan Persian wool (if it’s still made??) but I knew that would cost more than I wanted to spend. Besides, the canvas had a little sticker on it with a guide for colors in DMC, and I didn’t know if I wanted to spend the extra time picking colors in another thread that were close.

That day, I left Hobby Lobby thinking that was the most expensive three skeins of yarn I ever bought! I DID get a few other items, too. You see, I had a shopping cart. I never needed it, I probably should not have gotten it….Oh well.

Moving on…

I began working on one of the needlepoint canvases yesterday. Actually, I began by cutting floss and transferring the cut pieces onto these handy organizer cards.

organized floss

This took more than an hour, and I still haven’t cut and organized all the floss but I certainly have enough to get started. And in typical Jenny-fashion, I am usually chomping at the bit to get started.

So I began stitching, and followed the very simple illustrated guidelines of the cardboard header that was attached to the canvas (I had removed it and set it aside). I was not happy with how the stitches were looking and began to wonder if I was 1.) using the correct number of strands of floss, and 2.) if I was stitching the half cross stitch correctly.

the start

I had difficulty concentrating on this project because, well, I AM a mom, and my twelve-year-old son decided to hang out with friends, and they wanted to bike, so I had to have my seventeen-year-old son help me put the hefty bike rack in my trailer hitch before he was off and running with his friends. I took the boys where they needed to be and came back home.

Then, I had to go get them a couple hours later and I don’t even know what I did in between! I think it was laundry but it’s all a blur now.

When I went to pick them up, they were greater in number by one goldfish. I did not see that coming. We aren’t even keeping this fish as it’s for some other friend. I still don’t understand all the whys and wherefores but luckily I had a fish bowl and gravel in the basement so we could get the poor thing out of the plastic bag. Then this happened.

uh oh

This is super-cute, I know. But it was soon to be a real-life illustration of the circle of life if I didn’t get that fish out of my house. (As of this post, it’s been over 24 hours and I still have a goldfish, albeit in a cat-free zone)

I tried working on the needlepoint into the evening, but I was tired and cranky and wondering if we were keeping the fish because my son named him….so I went to bed.

Today, I got my coffee and started working on the project again, but I was still unsure of the stitches and coverage of the canvas so I decided to do some research. I learned that I was following the instructions of the card and making the half cross stitch which doesn’t provide good coverage of the canvas. That’s why I didn’t like it. I changed to the continental stitch which leaves long slanted threads on the back of the work and good coverage. I decided there was not a large enough difference to rip out what I already did. I also learned that I was using an embroidery needle that was just a tad too big. I went to Michael’s and found the size I needed. I was surprised at how much quicker I could stitch with a needle one size down. One last thing: I learned that I should separate the six plies of the embroidery floss and rejoin them together before stitching. This makes for better coverage, too. Yes, it does take a little longer to separate the plies but it’s worth it. I honestly don’t know if I can get three canvases completed in a year, because I know me. I have a short attention span when it comes to all the different things I can make!

Look, a cute quilt fabric!!

But in all seriousness, I want the piece to look nice, but I am not entering it into a needlepoint contest, so I can live with some imperfection.

collage pic

It’s coming along nicely but I have a secret project to work on and hopefully complete in time for a trip to Germany!! More on that in a future post.

stitches in hoop

close up

By the way, you should know I was checking out the clearance items at Michael’s when I went for the embroidery needles. I ended up with paint brushes, markers, a piece of wood, and somehow a hula hoop. I did not buy any yarn, but I did look.

Oh. And I didn’t have a cart. 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by! Next post I will show you how the little baby sweater turned out!


*(Husband’s new role in his company is why we are moving, but we will still be in the Midwest)