Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO! Scary, Scary!!

It came from the depths of the closet where is has been lurking for years.  And it chose the spookiest, scariest day to make its presence known.  All because it wants to torment its owner.  Bwahahahaha!  What could this horrible being be?  Okay, it's just a mini serger, but a little scary, don't you think?  No, you say?  Not scary at all?  But just look at it!  I bought this little device on Ebay maybe about 4 years ago because I thought it would be useful for sewing and for serging the edges of my stitching fabric.  It didn't cost much, and looks to be in good condition.  When I got it, I looked in the box (original, with instructions) and said, "Yep, there's a serger in there" and put it in the closet.  Yeah, I don't even know if it works.  Shame on me.  You see, I've been a bit intimidated by this innocent little machine even though it might make my crafting easier.  But now that I'm working at a cross stitch store where operating a serger is a necessity, I think I've overcome my fear.  I operate the one at work like a pro and can even re-thread the thing, even though it may take me a little time to navigate the threads through all of their little hook and loop mazes.  And now I am ready to tackle my very own wee machine.  It is kind of cute.  Plus, it will be interesting to find out if it actually works.  I'm determined.  I'll keep you posted.

To prove that I actually have been doing some cross stitch, here's the progress on my current project (one of them).  It's Christmas Box Ornaments by Country Garden Stitchery.  I kind of can't wait to get to the metallic thread and bead part!

My other goal this week is to get "Gobble" all framed so he can be on display through Thanksgiving.  Plus, Sheila and I will be headed to Joann's Crafts this week to pick up some supplies for a cute wreath project she found online.  And I'm going to get some yarn for a special project.

I hope you have a fun Halloween!  It's always fun to see all the neighborhood kids dressed up cute and excited to get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite Halloween pictures of all time.  It just cracks me up every time I see it.  These cute doggies belong to my niece and my brother and sister-in-law.  I'm just jealous because I could never get my cats to wear costumes.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stitching Myths & An Interesting Survey

I've been doing cross stitch for a long time and have heard all kinds of generalizations about us stitchers.  It's kind of sad to hear all of these false assumptions about me and my fellow stitchers and our favorite pastime.  So not long ago, I decided to do a survey.  A very informal, non-scientific survey, but my questions got some interesting answers.  My survey was done on the 1-2-3 Stitch message board, which I like to visit.  I asked three very straightforward questions hoping to debunk some of the meaner myths about stitching and got 95 replies. 

Myth #1:  People who do cross stitch are all old ladies.  Sorry, I'm not buying this one.  My survey showed that my respondents had an average age of 54.  That's not an old lady age, especially since 50 is the new 40.  I keep telling myself that.  The youngest person surveyed was 23 and the person with the most birthdays was 84.  I also know for a fact from working at The Stitch Store and from blogs that I read that there are quite a few women in their teens and 20's who share our love for cross stitch.  Plus, I've noticed that there are some stitching guys who participate on the message board.  So, sorry, cross stitch critics, you don't win this one.

Myth #2:  Cross stitch is just a passing fancy and not something that you'll be interested in after this phase is over.  Hah! is all I have to say about this one.  The participants in my survey have been stitching for an average of 29 years!  Sure, there were a few beginners in the group with less than 10 years (not really a beginner), but many had been stitching for 30, 40 and 50 years!  Two of the most experienced had been working with needle and thread for 60 years!  A phase?  I think not.

Myth #3:  Cross stitch is a silly pastime.  I couldn't just sit there and do that.  I have more important things to do.  I've heard this one from a few people, and I'm sure that other stitchers have too.  Quite a few years back this lady came over to my house for the first time.  I had just framed three very small finished pieces of little garden scenes that I did on 18 count Aida.  I was very pleased with the way these had turned out.  She went right up to where they were hanging and asked me if I had done these.  Then she looked closer at them and said, "Oh, that's so tedious."  And then nothing.  Nothing nice to say. 

The answers to my question "Why do you stitch?" were all answered with obvious enthusiasm.  There was a common thread (pun intended) running through all of the answers.  I read the words "relaxing", "soothing", "stress-reducing" many times.  Also, many participants said that they liked to stitch for an artistic outlet and to watch something grow and take shape.  And there were those who liked to give gifts of something they made themselves.  Then there were the answers that touched me.  Like one lady who said that doing cross stitch keeps her mind off of her constant pain.  Or those with health problems who said that it helps get them through some tough times.  One lady is caring for her father who has Alzheimers and stitching takes some of her stress away.

I had to smile at the stitcher who said she can stitch while on her exercise bike!  And how about the 84 year young lady who said "I enjoy it and I can still do it!"  I want to be like her.

Sounds to me like cross stitch IS the "more important thing to do".  We go out of our way to do it.  We arrange get togethers, camps and just stitching with friends days.   We plan our next project(s).  We seek out fellow stitchers on the internet and Facebook and join groups.  I share a lot of the reasons why people stitch, but another reason I'm glad I stitch is because of the many friends I've made through it.

Thank you to all who participated in my survey.  Your overwhelming response served to show what a great group of people cross stitchers are!  So keep on stitching and try to get others interested in it.  And, naysayers, say what you will.  But it would be easier just to join us.  You know you want to.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scissor Happy

I'm pretty sure that scissors are the one implement that crafters of all kinds have in their tool kits.  People who sew have fabric scissors that have never cut paper.  Scrapbookers treasure their pattern cutter scissors.  Stitchers love a good pair of sharp embroidery scissors to snip those threads closely.  Scissors are a topic of conversation on the cross stitch message board I like to visit and at Stitch Days alike.  What kind do you like?  How many do you have?  Are expensive scissors worth it?  Do you have the new Ginghers yet?  Can you carry scissors onto an airplane?  (The answer to this last question is yes, metal scissors with pointed tips are allowed, as long as the blades are less than four inches.  BUT the TSA can prohibit any item on that's not on the prohibited list, meaning go ahead and carry them on, but it is possible that they could still be taken away.  I've carried on small scissors the last four times I've flown without a problem.  Just don't carry on your favorite/heirloom/expensive scissors.)

Like many stitchers, I have more than one pair of little scissors.  So when the topic of "How do you store your scissors?" came up on the message board, I was interested.  People shared photos of creative ways to store their scissors.  Then my Facebook friend and fellow stitcher, Martha, posted a photo of her scissor storage and I immediately went to Ebay.  My purchase was a glass flower frog.  It think it has 16 holes, which I thought I'd never fill.  Ha ha.   It was very inexpensive and fit perfectly into a bowl I already had.  Another fellow stitcher, Shannon, recently posted photos chronicling the steps to make a scissor holder board.  Lovely!  And let's not forget the creative scissor holders that Mark makes on the lathe.  See my "Crafty Guy" post.

Soooooo, here's how not to use scissors.  The other day at work, my bangs kept hanging in my eyes and just irritating me.  Yesterday morning, as I was attempting to arrange my hair into something presentable, the bangs were being difficult so I got a sharp pair of scissors and snipped them to what I thought was a good length.  Wrong.  They now resembled the bangs on a somewhat unstable character in a movie I once saw.  I was once told by a hairstylist that everyone does this. When I have to go in for a haircut in the next couple of weeks, the girl who cuts my hair will probably laugh.   Sheila related an experience in which Fred gave her a trim which resulted in a Dutch boy look.  I don't remember that.  I'm pretty much over it and am dealing with it, but will probably never do it again.  I think.  And no, I won't be posting a picture of my new 'do.

I took my own advice this week and sat down and stitched a little more.  I'm on my feet a lot at work, so it was good to get home and sit down for a while.  And not feel guilty about it.  Here's the result:
I'm happy with the way this is turning out.  I thought I'd do the main stitching first and then go back and do the metallic thread and beads.  It will make a very pretty bellpull.

Tomorrow is Stitch Day at The Stitch Store!
Looking forward to that.  It's going to be a full house of stitching friends.  Think we'll talk about scissors?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Turkey & Time Management

Whew, this has been a busy month.  I'm not complaining.  Most of what's been going on has been enjoyable.  I'm finally getting used to the new routine that my new job is creating.  I'm really liking it!  I'm so lucky to have every Thursday off so that I can work at The Stitch Store.  I was there this past Thursday after being absent last week and it was good to get back.  As usual, it was a pleasure to help the customers with all of their stitchy needs.  As for the rest of the days of the week, I can be scheduled for any of them.  With the addition of extra working hours, I'm finding that I just need to remember to take some time for stitching or just puttering around in the craft room. 

The good news is that the turkey is done!  Now how can you not like this little feathered friend?  Gobble has yet to be framed, but I already have the special frame made especially for him.

Chicky 2.0
Purse by Sheila
Now for something I haven't done in a while -- crocheting.  If you need something square or rectangular, done in basic single crochet, I'm your gal.  I've made quite a few baby afghans (and small big-people afghans) and scarves in my time.  Yes, I am the expert when it comes to simple, basic crochet.  One time, I even got crazy and made a ripple afghan!  I will say that Matt really seemed to like the hipster man-scarves I made for him.  A few weeks ago I found a skein of cotton yarn and started crocheting.  Sheila will tell you that first I had to untangle the yarn, which took about 3 hours.  And I ended up with a cute dish washing cloth.  Pretty cool, huh?  Maybe I should expand my crochet horizons and learn a new stitch.  OK, now I have a new goal.  I don't think I'll ever be as talented as my Auntie Helen.  One year she gave Matt an Easter basket with cute little crocheted Easter eggs and chicks.  I still have one of the chicks.  The white one disappeared sometime after Ozzy chose it as his favorite toy.  Oh, and look at what Sheila made on her first attempt at crocheting - a very cute little purse for Grace.

Coming up this week:  I'd like to start a new project.  It's "Christmas Box Ornaments" by Country Garden Stitchery.  They're shown finished
as separate ornaments, but I'm going to stitch the three of them one on top of the other to make a little bell pull.  It's all kitted up and ready to go, just in time for Saturday Stitch Day at The Stitch Store next week!
Have a wonderful week! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Too Busy To Stitch?

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for me.  First, there was the family get-together in Hiawassee, GA which was so nice.  Beautiful weather, lots of laughs and all four of us siblings together.  That doesn't happen very often.  Then last weekend was stitch camp at The Stitch Store.  Another reunion of sorts because in attendance were two friends from our first camp, and one from last year's camp.  Plus, as a bonus, a new stitcher and friend joined us.  And let's not forget Terrie, the owner of the Stitch Store who makes camp possible and wonderful.  Camp is so relaxing because: a) we can stitch all we want; b) we don't have to cook or clean up; and c) it's just fun to yak with friends about stitching or anything we feel like.  We had our Chinese gift exchange, which meant lots of "stealing" of goodies, but I think everyone was happy in the end.  My gift was a cute Halloween chart, floss, fabric and candy, all put together in a cute Halloween carrier.

I did get in some good stitching time at camp.   Here's my progress on my current projects, Kitty Kalendar and Gobble.  But since camp, I've hardly picked up a needle.  Right now, our son Matt is here for a rare mid-semester visit.  It's great having him home.  Yesterday, he sat down with me and helped me to spiff up my blog layout.  A little bit of computer craftiness!  What do you think? 

Add to all of this a new job and I'm on overload.  I'm a person who likes routine.  And I like my stitching time and crafting time.  So I think that tonight I will do a some stitching on Gobble because I'd like to finish him before Thanksgiving.  Speaking of which, I've already heard two commercials reminding us that the holidays are right around the corner.  How did that happen so quick?!  I've also heard people talking about Christmas shopping that they already did!  Who else has started shopping?  Not me.

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented on, and decided to follow my blog.  Feel free to leave a comment now and then so I'll know how I'm doing. I love comments and new followers!

For the present, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of Matt's visit and a few days off.  Have a good week!