Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year End Totals

This has been a fun year! The family took a trip to Hawaii and we got to sort of see a total eclipse of the sun and I made things. I made a lot more things than I made the year before or the year before that.  Some crappy stuff also happened, but when I look back the good stuff definitely overshadowed it.

One of the most exciting things I did was to start cross-stitching again. After packing my supplies shortly before we moved into this house, I'd thought I was done with it for good. I'd picked up a couple of kits and patterns in the ensuing thirteen years, but I didn't do any actual stitching until I found a cheap little Halloween kit at the thrift shop. While I was still working on that, I stumbled across an estate sale where I found a ton of cheap kits, including that lighthouse, and then I stitched the little tiny Mona Lisa pattern I found in a library book, and the village scene which had been packed away for years in the sewing room...

They're relatively small projects, but I stitched them. And, at just about the time I was realizing I still enjoyed counted cross-stitch, I saw an ad for the estate sale with all the cross-stitch kits. Two months later, we visited the thrift shop and someone had donated all the other cross-stitch kits. And then I went up to my sewing room and dug around until I found all of the kits I'd packed away when I thought I gave up cross-stitching. Then the same store where I found the first batch of kits had all of the vintage crewel kits. (If you're thinking I'm out of my mind, the new-to-me kits I bought this year ranged in price from seventy-five cents to two dollars. You can't buy the fabric for that.)

Clockwise from upper left: the first estate sale, the second visit to the same estate sale after they'd marked prices down, the thrift shop haul, the second thrift shop haul, and my own stash from the sewing room

I made twenty-seven pairs of socks. That's a record for me, three more pairs than I made in 2014, which was the year hubby was laid up and I kept my nerves steady by knitting endless pairs of socks.

It's ten more pairs than I made in 2016. I've stopped questioning the socks. They just happen without my planning for them or thinking about them and periodically I buy more yarn so that they can keep happening. They make me happy. 

That last pair in the collage may or may not be done by the time the clock strikes midnight.

I made fifteen new bags. Vinyl is fun and projects bags are fun and I can always use more bags, especially the big tote bags which I planned for and didn't get around to. There will be more bags, probably lots of them, in 2018.

Do we have to talk about the quilting? This is the same picture I used for my mid-year totals and, except for some block I added to the pink churn dash quilt, not much has been added since then. I lost my will to piece tops at about the same time my machine lost its ability to free-motion quilt.

What's in store for 2018? I plan on getting the sewing machine fixed so that I can finish quilts again. Hopefully that will give me the motivation to piece the quilts. I've been snuggling up in the Snoqualmie Wrap since the weather turned cold and I found out how amazingly useful it is. Now that I realize how warm and cozy it is, I'm digging out a bunch of acrylic that was originally intended for sweaters and adding a ton of shawls to my Ravelry queue, along with all of the socks and other projects that were already there. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Cross-Stitch Kits for Christmas

The floss fumes are making me giddy. Between the kits I found at the estate sale and the kits I found at the thrift shop and the ones I already owned, I want to stitch all of the things right now. 

I got more for Christmas.... 

Aren't they pretty?  And unlike the majority of the kits I already own, the floss in these is already sorted. I can start stitching as soon as I grid the fabric....but I'm already pretty much committed to a different chart that was already in my stash. I think.

Until I actually start stitching, I can decide on any of these.

Or I might pick this one.  Halloween at Hawk Run Hollow isn't a kit, but just look at all of the spooky little details....

I collect needlework kits and patterns. Sometimes I actually stitch one.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/29/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Village Serene

I know I just posted about this project a couple of days ago, but we're down to the wire here and I'm getting stuff finished and posted before New Year's Eve. 

Take a look at Village Serene...

Dimensions Gold Petites - Village Serene

The wagon finally has wheels!

This was much more fun to stitch than Safe Passage, with its sprawling expanse of sunset with no landmarks in sight. I like buildings. Those give you nice straight lines to navigate by.

Remember two and a half months ago, when I'd finished my project and didn't have anything else ready to go? I'm in that same situation again, but I really did think that I'd be pushing myself to get this one done before the end of the year. 

This was one of the kits I dug out of the sewing room. The price tag on the package says that I got it on clearance from Craft Warehouse, but I honestly have no memory of that. It's something I would have bought though, and obviously I did.

Thirteen years later, I would have picked it out again.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I Changed My Socks

Not long after I wrote last week's post, I completely unraveled the sock I was working on and pulled out a new skein of yarn. It still surprises me that after years of clinging to ever finished stitch I can give up half a sock's worth of knitting so easily, but that yarn has the tiniest bit of a story and I'd rather it turns into a pair of socks I don't hate. 

This is Paton's Kroy Route 66 and it's doing exactly what it's supposed to and keeping me happy as the different stripes appear. If I'd glanced at the ball band, I might've saved this for a future vacation and knit my Route 66 socks while we were actually driving on that stretch of highway, but I'm not silly enough to give up another half sock just so the name matches the trip.

I haven't started the book yet, but I'm hoping it'll get me out of my reading rut. There's not a single review on the Amazon page, but it turned up in one of the ebook newsletters I receive and the premise was interesting so I sent the preview to my phone. If I like it, I'll buy the rest.

I did enjoy this next book, but that was weeks ago. The way review copies work is that I get to read them ahead of time, then can't post about them until the publication date. Which is why it sometimes looks like I read half a dozen books a week....and sometimes I actually do read that much.

Escape Claws by Linda Reilly

How could I not pick up a cat lady mystery?  After sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to visit her aunt Fran and is alarmed by what she finds. The older woman is struggling to care for herself and her eleven cats...and after a builder who was trying to pressure Fran into selling her property is found dead, she's also a murder suspect. I really enjoyed this one. The author handles the relationship between Lara and Fran delicately and  I can't wait to see how things develop in the next book in the series.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy of Escape Claws by the publisher. All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Wagon is Still Floating

I'm starting to believe that this will be a 2017 finish with no cheating involved. (I'd already told myself that I could count it as a finish as long as I got all of the cross-stitching done and then catch up on outlining the details later. Whatever it is, it's definitely not going to be a 2018 finish at this point!) 

Look at how much difference an hour or two of backstitching made. The wagon is still floating, but the bridge and those rooftops look great. The stitching wasn't nearly as tedious as I expected it to be, but now I'm being tempted by the next project and choosing between the two I already had planned and one of the pretty new kits I got for Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

My Quest for Christmas Remembered

Do you know how sometimes you see something online and absolutely have to have it even if it makes no sense? That was how I felt when I saw Bendy Stitchy Michelle do a YouTube flip through of Santa Remembered and Down Santa Claus Lane. The old fashioned Santa patterns in these books are gorgeous. I'm not sure when I'll find time to stitch any of them, but when has that ever been a problem for me? Everyone was saying that used copies of these books are easy to find, so I thought I'd check my local thrift shops. 

I did find a copy of Santa Remembered at the second Goodwill we tried, but its previous owner must have stitched every single pattern. The front half of the book was pristine. The  charts were tattered and torn and tapes back together and I loved the book, but not enough to spend five dollars on a copy in that condition.  

Which was a good thing, because the local Friends of the Library shop had both books Michelle showed, along with a third one, for fifty cents each. 

I didn't even look inside of Holidays Remembered, which is probably a good thing because I'm not sure I'd have been excited by the chance to stitch Abraham Lincoln and George Washington for an upcoming President's Day. 

There are a couple of great Halloween patterns and I'm intrigued by this Pilgrim couple.

It's a twenty-two book series, so I'll be watching for the rest. Angels Remembered was at the same shop where I found the battered copy but I was even less enthused about the designs in that one that I am about Presidents Lincoln and Washington. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Not Christmas Shopping

I knew that Christmas shopping was going to stress me out, so I built extra time into the schedule for ducking into thrift shops. 

Just look at this little cabinet! It's missing one of the urns and needs some touch up paint but isn't it the absolute cutest little piece of furniture you've ever seen? 

Resisting temptation is much easier when you know the thing that's tempting you is going to a good home. In this case, Adult Daughter was with me and snapped it up for her apartment.

I'm still on the prowl for needlework supplies. None of this came home with me.

I couldn't tell if Mortimer was vintage or meant to look vintage, and it didn't matter because although he's adorable he's not my style. 

The unopened packages of embroidery floss were $4.99 each. That's what Joann's wants for them...and Joann's takes coupons. I've got this crazy idea that, unless they're old and rare and particularly wonderful, used craft supplies should cost less than brand new craft supplies. 

The Ink Circles pattern was six bucks. That's probably a good deal for a pattern that sells new for eighteen... but you'd be gambling that all of the pages were in there and there was more than enough tape to prevent peeking. I've seen several patterns like this at different shops and there's no way I'd take the risk.  A multiple page cross-stitch pattern that's missing one or more pages would be pretty much worthless. 

A day later I was at a different thrift shop picking up supplies for a project. It's the Candlestick Maker

I'd completely forgotten about the Three Men in a Tub bath toy until we went to Christmas Storybook Land last week and I realized how many nursery rhymes my sons don't know. Or care about. The exhibit reminded me of the toy and although there's the nostalgia element it was a pretty dumb toy...

Maybe a complete set would have been tempting, but judging by the price they had on this little guy, probably not.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/22/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Neither of These is Working for Me

I'm not loving the book I'm reading or the socks I'm knitting, but Christmas looming way too closely for me to spend much time worrying about either.

What I should do, and will when I get a chance, is pick up a different book and a different skein of sock yarn. What I am doing is buying presents and pulling decorations out of the attic and making myself a bit too crazy with holiday stress.

Stick with me -- I've got great plans for as soon as things settle down!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Still Racing the Calendar to Get This Done

I had a goal for this week -- to finish the littlest cottage and the trees surrounding it. They're finished now, and so is a huge chunk of greenery on the right hand side. 

Now I'm telling myself that if I finish that last chunk of flowers and bushes I can list this as a 2017 finish even if I don't get all of the back stitching done before the clock strikes midnight on the thirty-first.

I know I'm going to have to actually do all of that back stitching. The picture won't look right without it -- especially that weirdly floating wagon behind the horse.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Counting Down to Christmas

I've barely even started shopping, but I've brought Evil Santa down from the sewing room. We don't do Elf on the Shelf. We've got this guy watching over us...

This Santa used to terrify me every year when Grandma put him out at her house for Christmas.  He was scary in the same way that Red Riding Hood and the wolf hiding behind her grandma's bonnet was. They scared me, but I loved them just the same. Grandma decided to get rid of him a few years back and of course that meant he had to come live at my house.

For as long as I've known this Santa, he's had that blue spot on his hand and I've been wondering where it came from. I used to see one of his twins lurking in every antique store.  My kids, most likely inspired by Invader Zim's Santa Song of Doom, have named him Evil Santa.

And of course they've never been even the slightest bit afraid of him.

While we're on the subject of Santa, did you know that Santa Catchers were an actual thing?!  Check out this instagram post and make sure to scroll to the next few picture to see exactly how it works. Basically it's a plastic bear trap that you set near the tree and while the kids are sleeping, you spring it and leave a scrap of red fabric between the teeth. Betting my kids would have LOVED that!

In addition to putting out one decoration, and making a little cardboard house with glitter on it, I made a batch of Snickerdoodle Fudge which is already long gone. Next time, I'll try the version that has crushed cookies in it.

Recipie: Snickerdoodle Fudge from Brown Eyed Baker  

We also made it to Christmas Storybook Land for the first time ever.  The tree is still on the porch, but it'll make it inside soon.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Stash Diving in 2018

If I have a theme for the new year, it's going to be diving deeply into my stash to see what's there. I've done some digging already and now I'm wallowing happily in my cross-stitch supplies.

The Christmas after my oldest son was born, I asked Hubby for a needlepoint kit. That was probably the same Christmas I embroidered the angel that started this whole thing.  

He didn't realize that there was a difference between cross-stitch and needlepoint and bought me a cross-stitch kit. I started it on Christmas afternoon and immediately ran into trouble. Between starting in the middle of a huge project and sorting the unlabeled flosses, it wasn't long before I abandoned the whole thing in frustration. 

I tried some much smaller projects and figured out what I was actually doing and worked my way up to the full coverage charts and always planned to start over on Southwest Mesa. There are soooo many reasons this needs to be finished and hanging on my wall. I doubt my husband even remembers it, but it's stuck with me.

While I was sorting through my stash, I found the chart. The fabric and floss are gone without a trace, but the chart itself is the only thing I absolutely need. Yesterday I converted the floss numbers to DMC and dug through my floss stash. There were only five colors that I couldn't find and I picked three of those up at Walmart while I was buying frozen vegetable lasagna for dinner.  I'll track down the others this week. One of my pieces of thrift shop aida is the right size, so I guess I'm ready to start gridding fabric.

In my memory, this project was a lot smaller and had a lot more unstitched fabric, probably because I started in the middle where all of the empty space is.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Storybook Land

Ever since we moved down here and I found out about it, I've been wanting to take the kids to Christmas Storybook Land at the fairgrounds. I'd heard ads on the radio and it was free and Christmas-y and there are fairy tales involved. Even my boys kind of like fairy tales...especially if they're the scarier original versions.

It's taken me more than ten years to get my ducks into enough of a row to pull this off. Storybook Land only runs for the first two weeks of December, and during the week it's only for two hours each  evening. That doesn't give me a whole lot of chances.

Now that we've been, I wish we'd started going when the kids were a lot younger. The Christmas village is amazing. All of the not-so-little shops are furnished and you know I'm a sucker for dollhouses.  There were model trains, too, but I can't get excited about Thomas.

I love the fairy tales. Red Riding Hood's Grandma's cottage had a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe. That's one HUGE wolf!

Some of the displays are absolutely gorgeous. Some are less so. 

I think there's a display for each and every Disney movie. Some were really fun and some were just kind of confusing. I swear there's a noose in that gold garland, but I didn't want to ask the boys their opinion and risk someone overhearing me, assuming that no one wants to explain to their little kid was a noose is.

As usual, I got way too caught up in the experience and didn't take nearly enough pictures. If you want a peek at the rest, I found a video over on YouTube.  We'll be going again next year, I hope, and I'll try for more pictures.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/15/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Purple Haze Socks

Yarn: Patons Kroy, Purple Haze

I do love the wide stripes and they way they fell across the short row heels. That couldn't have worked out much better. They're very bright and very pink and I know they'll be very warm. Patons Kroy is one of my favorite sock yarns and I'm sure I'll feel better about this pair after looking at something else for a while. At the moment, all of that pink and purple is kind of burned into my retinas. 

Ever get too much of a pretty yarn? 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

{I've Been Reading} Fierce Kingdom and Historically Dead

New socks on the needles and some fun books to read. I'm happy.

Historically Dead by Greta McKennan

Seamstress Daria Dembrowski is working her fingers to the bone to ensure that the (mostly) hand-stitched dresses and curtains are perfect for her client's appearance on My House in History. That's not quite enough to keep the bills paid, so she's still doing wedding dresses and the latest bride-to-be brings a very unwelcome visitor along to her fittings.

I love this series, which lets me vicariously experience a type of sewing I'm not likely to tackle myself. If My House in History was an actual show, we'd definitely be watching it at our place. The book develops some of the relationships that began in the first book and Daria and her friends are fun to spend time with. Too bad avoiding spoilers means I can't tell you what I loved most about the plot.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

A mother rushes her  four year old son towards the zoo's exit, trying to make it through the gates before closing time...then hears the gunshots and sees the bodies and starts desperately searching for a safe hiding place. After the first few pages of Fierce Kingdom, I was absolutely hooked. Joan is the most realisticly depicted mother I've come across in a long time. This was such a good book -- until it suddenly wasn't. I started to lose interest when the book switched from Joan's point of view to a different character. And  I didn't like the ending.

I hate to say it, but the Amazon reviews were more fun to read than the last quarter of the book. How these readers imagine that Joan can just tell her hungry, exhausted preschooler to be quiet when they're hiding in the dark is beyond me. I'm guessing they've never spent a full day at the zoo with a very young child.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy of Histocially Dead by the publishers. Fierce Kingdom is a library book.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More Changes at the Library

I'm not a big fan of change and tend  to avoid new things until they're forced on me (Except for ebooks. I can't say enough good things about those!) 

It seems like our local library is constantly making big improvements. I wasn't happy when they completely rearranged the children's section after twenty years. I knew where everything was and they moved it all. It's been a couple of years and I still can't find what we need. 

The new card catalog is an absolute nightmare. 

When this happened a few weeks back, I thought we might give up on the library entirely. How could they do this?!

They've had self checkout as an option for years and it's been awful. Now they're making all of us use it all the time. How can they do that to parents juggling multiple toddlers and fifty picture books?

I tried the new system because we had no choice and I can't believe how much better it is than the self check out, or even having the librarians do it for you. Put your card anywhere near the scanner and it pulls up your account. Put the book anywhere on the pad and it checks it out and demagnetizes the strip...most of the time. We set off alarms this week, but that happened with the old system too.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wandering All Over the Village

The plan was to start in the upper right hand corner and work my way across, carefully parking threads as I went. Instead, I've wandered from building to building, stopped to play with the horse and rider, then crossed the bridge and worked my way through the flowers. And I've decided that parking threads doesn't work for me at all. 

Dimensions Gold Petites - Village Serene

I've spent two months avoiding the flowers that I should have stitched near the beginning and, as soon as I finish that little house and the trees behind it, I'm gong to have to finally get them done.

Either that, or I'm going to play in the muddy road. Mud sounds like it'll be easier.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Acorns and Threads

The most shocking thing about digging through my stash of cross-stitch charts is how I'm still excited about most of the same things I absolutely loved almost fifteen years ago.  While I was sorting through the latest batch of boxes, this magazine turned up. For me, the May 2001 issue of Stitcher's World was a complete and total game changer. 

I'd only been stitching for a couple of months and up to that point my entire stash had come from big box craft stores or thrift shops. This was the first cross-stitch magazine I bought and when I  read the article about Birds of a Feather I fell in love with these two patterns. They were among the first non craft store patterns I bought. I still haven't stitched them up, but I can see that changing soon.

That same article mentions Acorns and Threads in Portland, Oregon and as soon as I read  their description of the shop I was planning a road trip. There was lots of pretty cross stitch stuff at Michaels at that time, but I had no clue how many other gorgeous possibilities there were. I bought a lot of patterns there over the years.

On Thursday, I was up at Acorns and Threads for the first time in years, hanging out with some of my favorite Flosstubers. It was all kinds of fun and I fell in love with dozens of new projects, especially after switching to a sock to give my eyes a break, which also freed them up to take in everything that was hanging on the walls.

Someone please remind me that I absolutely hated the last Mill Hill kit that I stitched and really don't want the haunted barn or haunted hotel.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sequins and Felt

Apparently I'd never worked with sequins and felt until last night. 

Years ago, Grandma had a tree full of sparkly, intricate felt ornaments she'd stitched. I'd forgotten them entirely until the felt jungle animal kit turned up, tucked inside of  one of those vintage crewel kits I'd bought from the thrift shop. A week or two later, I found the other kit at the thrift shop for a dollar and decided that I'd practice on those ornaments before I tackled the animals, which have more sequins and parts.

How are these so intimidating?  I  can knit a lace shawl or pair of socks and free-motion a quilt, but I'm stabbing my fingertips and dropping sequins left and right.

Ever tried these? Have any tips for me?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/8/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

{Estate Sale Temptations} Needlework and Old Trucks

You ever find yourself at one of those estate sales where you'd just like to move into the house and keep all of the stuff? On Saturday, we found one of  those. 

Just look at this kitchen! 

The cupboards and drawers were all full, with strips of tape urging us to look inside. I found some pretty old embroidery and a calendar tea towel, which will both wind up in future projects. And a whole stack of metal mixing bowls. Do you  see the box of pretty sparkling serving plates with matching cups? I think there were at least four sets.

There was lots more pretty embroidery in the back bedroom.

This tablecloth (or whatever it is) was dated 1914. It looked old, but just way too good to be true. There was soooo much really old needlework stuff. I picked through the ten cent zippers and bought the nice black and white ones.

Please remind me that I don't need creepy baby dolls, although when I misread the price tag on the big one of the left I briefly thought it might be coming home with me.

Look at the stroller behind that chair -- nine dollars and I'm kind of glad it was already sold because I would've had a hard time convincing my husband that we needed it and finding a place  to put it.

And look at the chair itself -- I swear that's something with teeth holding a bone. It almost came home with us.

I liked the vintage autograph dog, but not enough to check the price.

They had a bathinette! I still want one of these and someday I'll find another one at the right price and not have my husband with me. It wasn't worth trying to explain what a bathinette is in the first place, let alone why I think I need one. And it was kind of ugly.  If I ever do find a doll bathinette like the one that I played with at Grandma's house once....that'll be coming home.

I didn't get any pictures of the garage or the multiple outbuildings. They had a 1933 flatbed Ford in pristine condition and were supposedly the original owners (although if the estate belonged to a 96 year old man, the math doesn't quite work) and all of the tools and intriguing old stuff, including a couple of raccoon pelts and an old telephone that's now plugged into my wall. I love my smartphone, but this is what a phone should be.


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