…my true love gave to me a chalkboard ode to coffee!

I finished this at around 2:00 PM on Christmas Eve, but between washing it, framing it, and wrapping the collection of gifts that sat there mocking me, there was no way this was getting posted.

Back in the summer, I was wandering through Michaels with a friend – I can’t remember what he was looking for – when I darted down the needlework aisle to see if they had anything interesting.  Oh, and Michaels?  Your needlework “aisle” is a joke.

Due to the craptacular nature of their selection, I really didn’t find much of note, but he zeroed in on a clearance kit.  “Ooh!  If I buy this, will you stitch it for me?”  Gaah.  I hate that question, but like him enough to shrug my shoulders and nod.  It wasn’t a terribly sophisticated or complicated design, and although it was on black aida, I figured I could handle it, and then somewhere along the line decided it would make an excellent Christmas present for him despite the fact that I had four other pieces to finish.

Coffee 1

I just realized that because of the angle at which the picture was taken, you can’t see the solid white border along the right side, but it’s there.

Now, while I discovered when I stitched this that black aida isn’t as terrible as I remembered, it’s quite something else when the cheap kit gives you a piece of fabric with barely 2″ of clearance around the edges of the pattern, making it difficult if not impossible to grip the fabric with your Q-Snap when you get to the outside edges.  Had this been a generous cut with better Q-Snap tension, I suspect it would have been finished ages ago.  Also, the white floss ran completely out well before I was anywhere near finished – and I had triple-checked the instructions so I know that even the backstitch was to be done in two strands and not one.  Luckily, I had some white floss left over from a different kit which filled the need nicely.  Had it not been December 21-ish when I ran out, the company would have been getting a nasty letter from me.

Now that it’s done, and I can breathe again, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.  He was thrilled when he opened it yesterday, so mission accomplished.

I hope Santa was good to everybody.  Thanks for another great year! 🙂

The Boy Scouts were RIGHT!

January 8, 2017

Is it just me, or does January seem interminable thus far?  It’s cold, it’s miserable, and there are no holidays from work until April…ugh!  While discussing the molasses-in-January (ha!) qualities of the calendar with my friend, I realized something: when it first became cold and snowy in December, I would think, “Well, December’s already [1/4, 1/2, 3/4] done.  It’ll be spring before we know it!”  January is not moving along nearly so quickly, and I joked that perhaps if I started trying desperately to get Christmas gifts finished now, the month would be gone before I knew it.  That has to be what made December so fast!

With thought rattling around my mind, I decided that since I had had such a positive reaction to my Craftmas series of posts this year and last, I should document:

The Witty Child’s Tips for a Successful Craftmas*

*(or festive occasion of your choosing; really, these can be applied to almost anything)

  1. Be prepared – that is to say, have a plan.  I don’t want to go all life-coach on you and chirp that “failing to plan is planning to fail”, but doing a little pre-Craftmas brainstorming will prevent a lot of stress later on.  Think about whom you wish to bestow crafty goodness upon, as well as what that crafty goodness might be, and make sure you’re going to have enough time/money/supplies to make it happen.  If you spend a third of your life asleep, and a third of your waking hours at work, time is a precious commodity.  You don’t want to start trying to hand-knit scarves for your list of 45 on December 2.  All the faux-sick days in the world won’t help you there.
  2. Reconsider your Christmas list.  I used to stitch up little pictures for my Avon lady, but after not…getting…much feedback (I didn’t expect gushing tears of thanks, but even a quick, “Oh, that was cute!” would have been nice), she now gets a thoughtful storebought gift, and my crafty time gets invested elsewhere.  Make sure your intended recipients are going to fully appreciate your mad skills.
  3. Reconsider your idea of crafty.  If someone on your list might not appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a Real Project (see #2), might a tin of homemade cookies or candy go over just as well?  Consumables are always nice because there’s no pressure to wear/display/utilize constantly, and as a bonus, they can come together fairly quickly – perfect for those of us who skip Tip #1.  A group of coworkers got gift boxes packed with monster cookies and Cuban Lunch candies, and were thrilled to find these care packages on their desks.
  4. Realize that things can change, and be prepared for plans to go awry.  If you’ve grossly underestimated how long it’s going to take you to finish a project, or you get slammed with a spate of last-minute invitations that you can’t pass up, things might not get done as you had planned.  Don’t sweat it.  Depending on the person/project, you can always try to postpone your gift swap, make an “I.O.U. one gift” coupon, or procure a backup gift and quietly tuck away your handmade project to be finished in time for next year.
  5. Learn from your mistakes.  This sort of hearkens back to Tip #1, in that you can do a post-mortem and make appropriate changes in next year’s plan.  Didn’t get the response you hoped for?  Found yourself super-stressed and pressed for time?  By knowing what worked and what didn’t, you’ll (hopefully) prevent undue stress going forward.
  6. Have fun with it!  After all, it’s the thought that counts, and you’re crafting/baking/creating because you like these people and want to do something nice for them.  No one should feel bad when this is over!

I hope that you guys find these tips at least vaguely useful – and I hope I take my own advice and start in on Tip #1!  😉

Thanks for looking!

My dad likes trains.  (Remember the ornament I made him last Christmas?)  He doesn’t try to fit them in his mouth like Sheldon Cooper, true, but then, he tends to display more common sense.  Anyway, I had it in my head that he needed a new shirt with some nifty railway logo stitched on the pocket, and I eventually decided on a little red caboose designed by Jan Altizer – though apparently this design is only available on the CD, and not individually.  Bummer.

I was originally looking for a denim shirt to deface….uh, I mean, enhance…but when I saw this one, vaguely reminiscent of an engineer’s hat, I knew I had found my blank canvas.

I swear it’s not that psychedelic in real life.  Methinks that fine striping, drapey fabric, and camera flashes don’t mix as nicely as I’d like them to.

That’s a little more true-to-life (look at the shirt, not the pocket).

I took the pocket off the shirt to stitch, then, using waste canvas and a sharp embroidery needle, I managed to get my design on almost straight and centered, before reattaching the pocket.

Thank heavens it fits.  There’s no way I could return it to the store now.

Nice? No, naughty!

December 23, 2011

I’m alive!  Frustrated with mankind, mind you, but alive nonetheless.  So what have I been up to in my [checks calendar] nearly two-month hiatus?  Well…November was mostly occupied acquiring this:

Go me!  Novel #8!  However – November was not a great month for crafting, and then boom, December rears its Christmas-baking-social-function-shop-and-wrap-and-sign-cards head.  Sorry; I’m attempting to rationalize here.  And I actually was able to craft one Christmas gift, although I wrapped it before I took a picture.  That will be forthcoming.  In the meantime, I have this:

It’s one of those lovely Mill Hill beaded kits, but my  goodness, was there ever a lot of white stitching!  I have the accompanying “Nice” kit in my stash, too, but may tackle that next year.  (Being naughty is more fun than being nice anyway, right?  Right!)  I backed the design with silver paper after I cut away the excess perforated paper, and presto!  Instant ornament!

For those who are curious, my new favourite holiday memory was formed just today: crowded in the workplace lunchroom with roughly 2/3 of the office, listening to one of our inspectors play his guitar and sing, and having an office sing-along to “Last Kiss”.  I wish I were making this up.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Post-Christmas Roundup

January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone’s holidays have been relaxing, and that Santa was good to everyone.  (I’m still waiting for those 28-hour days, but no matter…)

I didn’t get quite as much crafty stuff done for Christmas as I would have hoped, but I did manage to complete a few small projects, and, in typical disorganized style, am only now posting them.

After finishing my Bewitched Kitty (remember?), I decided I was, in fact, quite fond of Mill Hill’s beaded kits.  They’re quick, they’re cute, they get the job done.  I found a train for my dad, and a cardinal for my mom.  And the “Noel” diamond?  That’s just because I liked it.

Again, hung with Kreinik holographic thread for maximum sparkle.  And check out the fuzzy thread (Estaz, I think) on the cardinal’s wings!

The colours don’t quite appear true-to-life in this picture – I blame the fact that the flash was off in order to show off the lights on the tree.

What’s that?  Look down at the bottom of the tree?  Well, all right…

I found the craft panel for this at Fabricland when I went for the Mickey Mouse fabric I used on my coworker’s bibs.  My dad was with me at the time: “Hey, it’s Thomas!  That’s really neat looking…it looks like you just cut it out and sew it.  And there are matching ornaments, too!”  “Would you like me to make that for you?”  “Oh, well, if you want to…”  Uh huh.  Of course I wanted to.  I didn’t get the ornaments done, but there’s always next year.  The cat seemed to approve; after ignoring the tree since it had been put up, he made a beeline for the tree skirt and planted himself there for the evening.

I can finish the ornaments in just 356 days, can’t I?

Mine!

December 21, 2010

Just a short and sweet one for tonight – a little ornament I made my Avon lady, Heather, for Christmas.  I had done Margaret Sherry designs for her for the past couple of years, but when the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Preview issue came out this summer, this caught my eye:

(Yes, that’s my own stitched version, not the magazine picture.)

It’s called “Mine”, by Brittercup Designs.  I love Britty Kitty!  I made a few changes to the colours, using what I had on hand, and did the red holly berries in holographic fine braid by Kreinik (all other threads are DMC).  On 28-count, over two threads, it’s just a shade under four inches square.  Using some Christmassy fabric I had been hoarding since at least last year, and a little cording, it makes a cute little pillow ornament.

Glamour Puss

December 28, 2009

The presents have all been opened…mostly, and the Boxing Day sales are over: at last, I can post what I made for my Avon lady for Christmas.

Around this time last year, you’ll recall, I posted pictures of all the handmade Christmas gifts I had managed to finish, and Heather was the lucky recipient of a Margaret Sherry cat posing with a green bauble.  (I’ll pause whilst you scroll down and confirm this.)  I was quite grateful to the good people at Cross Stitcher magazine for having provided the 2009 Margaret Sherry calendar complete with 16 new patterns, including this one:

Perfect choice for a purveyor of cosmetic products, eh??  Originally, the entire background was supposed to be stitched in pink, but I cut a much-needed corner and instead ordered pink opalescent aida from 123stitch.com – and I think it looks better.  Now I need to start thinking about next year’s piece…