Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ES SAL: Yvonne's Stitching Finish!

Wow, it's so hard to believe that this is the last day of July already!!! I don't know where this summer has gone. Mostly it went with me wishing for snow, LOL! And *that* is something I'd never thought I'd say :P The last few weeks have been unreal, although thankfully nothing like the severe heatwaves elsewhere in the world.

A nice, warm summer day here in Newfoundland is usually 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, with the humidity making it feel two or three degrees warmer. But lately we've had high twenties/low thirties temps with the humidex often up to *ten* degrees higher! So it feels like high thirties/low forties. Ugh. Yesterday was a nice break (11 degrees!) and today isn't too bad but the weekend is going to be yet another scorcher. *sigh*

For most people, the unexpected heat has been a great treat, but unfortunately I just find it really uncomfortable, so I haven't been able to do much except sit in front of the stand fan! I've not been around much online either because my poor little laptop is older and suffers from the humidity too - it keeps trying to overheat! So I'm sorry I'm so behind in my blog reading but hopefully this warm weather will break soon :)

In very happy news, Yvonne sent me a lovely photo of her *beautiful* bookmark:

Isn't it GORGEOUS?! She used two strands of floss for her impeccably neat stitching, and it really lends a crispier look to the design (I used three strands). You can see her basted outline in this photo too, which I think is incredibly clever! A very neat trick I'm definitely going to try in the future :) I'm forever accidentally skipping or adding one stitch here or there and find keeping track a bit of a chore, so this would help!

Wonderfully, Yvonne told me that she is intending to stitch Spring Garden *again* in black now! So she will be the second, after Emma, to make two bookmarks and the first to stitch both colour and monotone versions :) I can't wait to see them finished!

Important Information About The SAL Pattern:

After a great deal of thought, I have decided to retire the SAL design (Blackwork Spring Garden) after the last finishes of the SAL Participants come in, whenever that may be (since everyone is stitching and/or finishing at their own pace now), or on the Autumnal Equinox on September 21st (the end of Summer), whichever comes first.

Since this wasn't a competitive SAL and there were no prizes (although I did really want to send everyone a little something, it's just wasn't possible), making the pattern a limited edition is my way of thanking the SAL Participants for stitching with me :)

That said, I have recently gotten several lovely e-mails from people who wanted to stitch Spring Garden, and I have sent them the patterns since they took the time to inquire. I realize that there were those who were interested but couldn't participate for a variety of reasons, and so if you send me an e-mail before I retire the pattern, I will send it to you; I'd also be happy to post any photos you'd like to send here on ES!

Although I haven't been able to do much stitching in the heat, I have been working on some small projects I hope to be able to share soon! And there is one good thing about sunshine - like this freebie says, at least you don't have to shovel it, LOL!

P.S. A really HUGE "Welcome Back!" to Karyn, of the awesome video-game themed A Riot Patch of Pixels, who has returned to blogging after nearly a year away!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Return of Stitchy News!!!

Lots of exciting news this time! There's more tidbits to read than usual since this is the first edition of SN that I've done in a while. When I was looking back through the Archives, I couldn't believe the last SN was in August 2010! My, how time does fly. The most obvious change you might note is the new graphics. I hope you like them :)

Hippity Hippity Hop - Summer Blogging Fun with Lots of Stops!

Jo at Serendipitous Stitching has started her Summer Blog Hop! The theme for 2013 is "There's No Place Like Home", which is very true indeed :) Jo hosts a number of Blog Hops throughout the year, and you can read more about them here.

This particular one goes all Summer, right up until the end of August, and the first "Postcards" (stitching pictures) have already been exchanged. Although I've never participated in a Hop, I hear that they are a great way to meet new bloggers, and if I can find a themed piece to share I'll be joining in the fun ;)

A Great Giveaway - Closing Soon!

Speaking of Jo, thanks to one of her posts last month I discovered a beautiful blog: Meggie's Cross Stitch Cottage! Meggie does lovely stitching and finishing work, and is also hosting a very generous 200 Followers Giveaway right on the heels of her 100 Followers Giveaway! And at 299 now and counting, she's going to be surpassing 300 very soon :) The Giveaway is open to new Followers too, and closes on July 31st, 2013! Meggie will also adding new items as she goes along. I've entered ;)

Yearning for New Floss? Dye Your Own!

EDIT: The DAB site is currently moving and these links are broken; I'll be updating this item with the new links when they are available:

EDIT: The Links and Photo Have Been Updated! August 5th, 2013 :)

Emma Broidery over at the DMC Threads Blog has compiled three very interesting tutorials on Tie Dying Floss! The process is a little labour intensive, but the results are so cool! The second part of the tutorial at lifestyle blog Dream A Little Bigger includes a FREE Embroidery pattern, a fun swirly paisley floral design:

I think this pattern, which is worked entirely in Backstitch, would look wonderful with variegated or overdyed floss too, for those (like me!) who aren't ready to try dying floss yet :) This is a great project for some quick Summer stitching!

A Fantastic Felt Needlebook and The Cutest Little Book Ever!

Speaking of embroidery, Mollie at Wild Olive took inspiration from a vintage souvenir needlebook and designed a super-cute felt version! It has a crossed felt pin and needle on the cover and holds a rainbow of felt pages with easy pinked edges. Best of all, there's a comprehensive FREE tutorial and downloadable template too!

Also, Mollie has declared that July is "Book Month", and is putting up free projects like these very cute FREE book plate printables :) When I first saw the little book on her calendar printable, I thought it would look adorable stitched. So imagine my excitement when I learned that Mollie has kindly made that cute little book not only into a FREE embroidery pattern, but also offers a fantastic tutorial for turning it into a bookmark too! This is definitely a project I'm going to try, hopefully soon! :)

Inspiration: Quilting and Embroidery

In more embroidery news, the blog &Stitches recently ran a guest post by Allegory at A Thousand Needles showing how to make a quick and funky sampler out of a single Dresden Plate quilt block! There's a nice close-up of one of the seams in this post.

I've been intrigued with quilting, especially paper piecing lately, which I blame on both Emma's hexagons - like this cute bag! - and Imaginesque's FREE pattern series! But I can't imagine committing to a quilt, even a small lap one. So the idea of taking a single block and making it the basis for some stitchery is very interesting to me!

Another great idea I came across a while ago is a the lovely FREE embroidery design by blogger Amy at Nana Company that uses the "petals" of a Dresden Plate block to effectively frame a lovely little saying - "Do Small Things With Great Love". It's actually a quote from Mother Teresa, one I'd not heard before :)

The template for the block isn't given, but there are a *ton* of tutorials online, most of which use special quilter's templates and are sewn by machine. This great photo step-by-step hand-sewing tutorial by Liesl Made (part of her Mini Patchwork Quilt Tutorial Series) shows how to make your own template out of paper!

Quilting is definitely intriguing to me, and just within the realm of patchwork and paper piercing there are so many different styles it makes my head spin! I'm not ready to commit yet but I am *very* curious so we'll see what happens :)

A Fun New Monthly Embroidery Stitch Along (SAL)

In yet more exciting embroidery news, Julie from Button, Button (who also writes for &Stitches) recently wrote a very thoughtful and inspiring post about starting a monthly small sampler project to help her to try out new techniques and keep motivated. I think this is a fabulous idea! Happily, she has decided to open her new stitching adventure to others! Here's what she has to say:

"I doubt I could manage to lead a formal stitch-along for a whole year, but I will do everything I can to informally make sure you can follow along if you’d like. I’ll share resources, links, materials needed for each samplers, patterns if applicable, etc. Which sounds a lot like a stitch-along, now that I think about it — but less organized and step-by-step-y."

Sounds great to me! This quote comes from the start of Julie's first sampler post on Huck Weaving, where she stitches a test piece to try out her threads. While I likely won't be trying out Huck Weaving since you need a special fabric, I'll definitely be watching the SAL as it progresses and hopefully I may be able to join in for a month!

An Amazing Embroidered Heirloom Wedding Gift!

For some lovely embroidery, check out Moonsilk Stitches' beautiful wedding gift - a strawberry ring pillow! MS has chronicled the project from her hand-drawn design to the stitching (here and here) and the stretching right to her amazing finish! It's really inspiring to see the entire "life cycle" of a project like that, and her gorgeous work is sure to become a heirloom piece that will be treasured for many years to come!

Getting the Vintage Look with Variegated Floss!

My friend Karen, of Karen's Colourful Creations, recently revisited her first stitching style and finished an inherited stamped cross-stitch kit! The final finish is *amazing*, and has a truly vintage (what I always think of as "happily loved" LOL) feel due to Karen's truly *genius* creative decision to use variegated floss! It has the very pretty gently faded look but the modern threads will give some new life to the old fabric :)

Designer Spotlight: Brooke Nolan of Brooks Books

Thanks to a recent profile at DMC Threads, I have discovered a designer that is completely new to me, who is producing lovely, intricate and unusual works! The designer is Brooke Nolan, and her company is Brooke's Books Publishing.

I have never seen anything like her cute dimensional designs! They are meant to be worked on perforated paper, but the kits state that there is an extra chart included for fabric stitching too! I've tried working with paper in the past, with horrid results. So I think it's wonderful that there is a fabric option included! Brooke's Books' Spirit Angels collection is just *gorgeous* and includes some lovely crafty Spirit Angels:

The three Cross-Stitching Spirit Angels:

And the three Angels of Crochet, Knitting and Quilting:

It's well worth clicking on the photos for the larger image, because it is the little tiny details that make these works so amazing. The wings on Knitting, for example, are white cable stitches! And each Angel carries all the tools of her craft strung along the ribbon she's holding between her hands, from little tiny scissors to itsy bitsy tomato pincushions studded with microscopic pins! They are really charming :)

The other good news is that Brooke's Books has a number of FREE designs available as .PDFs, including a Stitcher's Alphabet series which has just concluded with the letter "Z"! Several of the blocks or motifs (like the cute C for Crochet, and the K for Knitting) could be stitched on their own, and would make lovely needlebook covers!

There are also a number of seasonal projects, including this lovely trio (all maples!) of green, red and gold Sparkling Autumn Leaves (direct PDF link) that is particularly timely for stitchers who want to look ahead to Fall-themed projects :)

FREE Cross-Stitch Design: Blanket Biscornu

Over at Unnumbered Stitches (formerly Tintock Tap), Lesley turned an upsetting event - someone charting one of her patterns and sharing it without her knowledge on a forum - into a positive achievement by releasing her own official version of the design and sharing it for FREE! Both sides of the biscornu are charted :)

Important and Helpful Information for Bloggers!

I'm always on the lookout for new blogging tips and tricks, and I have two really great tutorials to share that are useful for anyone who deals with images online:

Carina (of Carina's Craftblog, also co-founder of &Stitches and designer of Polka & Bloom) recently ran a wonderful three-part tutorial showing how to watermark blog photos. This is something that I've been thinking about doing for a while but keep putting off. Often, watermarks can be very in-your-face and intrusive, but Carina's see-through watermarks are much more elegant and seem amazingly easy to make!

The tutorial uses the free downloadable image editor Gimp (Note: Gimp was made for Macs and although it can be run on Windows there are known issues), but the idea could be used with free online editors like the Pixlr Editor. I'll be experimenting in Pixlr myself :) Here are the posts in order - Part 1: Four Reasons You Should Use Watermarks; Part 2: Adding Watermarks in One Easy Step; and Part 3: Making a Transparent Watermark File. Here's a good example of Carina's technique:

This is a pretty picture of a new crochet project from a recent post. When I look at this photo, I actually see the yarn first! The watermark is faint but visible to anyone looking for it. Carina's series gives lots of great food for thought :)

And Pardalote Makes has an excellent tutorial on how to search online for an image's original source - using the image itself!!! This completely stunned me, as I've done *tons* of sifting through links trying to follow things back to the source over the years. Honestly, I'm pretty good at tracking things down. Or at least I *thought* I was, LOL! And I had no idea that it was possible to *use the image itself* as your search term in Google Images! Well worth reading. I'll definitely be trying this out!

And as Pardalote points out, with easy sharing on agrgregator sites (like Tumblr and Pinterest) and social media (like Facebook), most images lose all context. Not only is it important to credit the original creator, but I like reading more about a project - discovering how it came about - and, of course, finding more pictures :)

Another Tassel Tutorial: Stitched & Tied Scissor Fob

Over at Feeling Stitchy, the Bobbypin Bandit has posted an unusual scissors fob that consists of not one but *two* tassels: one embroidered on a little rectangle of felt, and a coordinating simple tied floss tassel. The combination is quirky and cute!

Announcing "Stitchy Stationery"!

And finally, I'm very excited to share some very happy news: My friend Crazy Cross-stitcher (aka CS) has opened her first Etsy store, Stitchy Stationery!!! Right now, she's focusing on hand-stitched greeting cards, using lovely Kreinik metallic threads, but hopes to branch out to other products in future. You can read all about it in her official Announcement post! I suggested the name and helped with the graphics :) Head on over and visit, I'm sure she would love to know what you think!

Whew! That's it for this edition. I'm hoping to make Stitchy News a semi-regular (i.e. whenever the mood strikes, LOL) feature again, so please let me know if you'd be interested! And if you have an idea for a future SN post, please e-mail me :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ES SAL: Emma's First Finish (of Two)!

So sorry for being so quiet this week! We've had an unexpected mini-heatwave, with abnormally high temperatures, terrible humidity and a heavy "haze" from the forest fires in Quebec and Labrador. Nothing life-threatening, just a little uncomfortable :)

It's been too hot to even be on the computer, let alone stitch, so the Tassel Tutorial has been delayed yet *again*. Oops! But no matter, since Emma (of EveningEmma) has come up with an absolutely fabulous beaded braided marker that is AMAZING:

Isn't her finish so FUN?! Emma pulled the pink, yellow and green from her stitching (the original colourway) for the braiding and then added some great contrast with green, red and orange beads at the end of the marker! It's so Summer-y and fresh! I think the tri-colour braid is so clever, and that's definitely something I'd like to try. It's really striking combination, and I think Emma's bookmark is *gorgeous* :)

Make sure to head over to read her great post for more info, and to find out about her creative choice of backing fabric! As Emma mentions in her post, this is actually her second stitching of the pattern, the first being this beautiful variegated version:

Although this version isn't final finished yet, her stitching finish also surely deserves a mention :) I'm *incredibly* flattered that Emma liked this pattern enough to stitch it twice, and I can't wait to see her second finish too, whenever that may be!

Thankfully, the weather is supposed to cool off over the next few days, so I'm really looking forward to stitching again! Jeanne Dansby, of WyrdByrd Designs, has just offered a pretty new FREE Blackwork Small called "Summer Lace", and I'm hoping to start this soon! I'm thinking of stitching white on blue :) Or white on pink!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

ES SAL: Important News + CS's Finish!

Well, it's been a wonderful month here at ES! A really heart-felt and HUGE Thank You to everyone who has been following along with the SAL posts, and to the SAL Participants for making a long-time dream a reality for me!!!

It has been absolutely *amazing* to see a simple little pattern from my imagination become a reality in other talented stitchy hands! I'd love to try this again sometime in the future, maybe in the Winter when there's more time for crafting ;)

Today is the last day of the SAL, and while I'm a little sad to see it go, I'm happy to be moving on to other things too - although I don't know exactly what, LOL! There are still bookmarks being made, and I will happily be featuring them whenever photos come my way, but I've decided not to extend the deadline again. This was designed to be a relaxed SAL, with everyone working at their own pace, so just continue to do so!

Technically, you have until tomorrow, July 2nd, to be "under the deadline" but please don't feel pressured to get it done! I rushed mine, and while I was happy to finish by June 20th because it was a personal stitchy goal I had set for myself, it did make it a lot more stressful to do! Which was exactly what I was trying to avoid, LOL!

In more exciting SAL News, CrazyStitcher - aka CS - (from the always entertaining Crazy Cross-stitcher blog) finished her beautiful bookmark yesterday! And she has also written a wonderful post about her working process which is a fascinating read!

CS added some lovely seedbeads in yellow (which was a stash find that happened to match *perfectly*!) and spring green, and backed her stitching with some pretty sparkly white felt she fell in love with on a recent visit to a local craft store. CS tried out the Invisible Ladder Stitching I mentioned in my SAL Bookmarking Finishing Tutorial, and the result is beautiful! I definitely want to try backing with felt now :)

But what is really awesome is her absolutely gorgeous marker!!! CS made an elegant twisted cord and then added a *fantastic* Swarovski crystal bead as her tassel top:

And here's a close-up of her super sparkly tassel:

Isn't it lovely?! This is definitely something I'd like to try in the future! This is an idea that could be very simple - with a large wooden bead, for example - or made very fancy, like CS's crystal! Make sure to head over and read her post for more!

As for the SAL, if there's no objection, I'd like to leave up the links and Finish Gallery in my sidebar for the rest of this week (at least) in case some more in-progress or finish photos come in. I'm still working on updating ES, and hope to find a more permanent home for the SAL section! Hopefully one with room for future SALs ;)

Thank you all again! You have made this SAL experiment an amazing adventure!!!