…my true love gave to me: a hedgehog to hang on the tree!

I’ve probably mentioned on here before that my mother collects all things hedgehog.  As such, I try to accommodate her on special occasions: there have been hedgehog birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, cakes, t-shirts…

Fast-forward to the Christmas crafting season, when I realized the project I had originally picked out was simply not going to be finished by December 25.  (That’s okay, folks, her birthday is coming up shortly, so I like to think of it as having a head start on that.)  While entering random keywords on Etsy at work one day, I stumbled across trellis & thyme, who, wonder of wonders, boasted a PDF hedgehog ornament pattern in their shop.

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It’s difficult to tell in the photo, but he has little prickles embroidered all around his front side.  The pattern instructions indicated these should be placed randomly, but…I can’t handle random.  So instead, they run in two staggered-but-kinda-concentric circles around his underside.

As always, thanks for looking – and may your holiday crafting be running on-schedule.  🙂

…my true love gave to me some cross-stitched ornaments for the tree!

We’re in the final stretch here, folks.  I don’t think it would really be Christmas without at least some sort of cross-stitched decoration, and this year was no exception.

Train Ornament

I found this Dimensions train kit on Amazon and started it longer ago than I care to admit, but managed to finish stitching it this summer.  I cut the backing (which you can’t see in this photo unless you have mad x-ray vision skillz) out of a scrap piece of shiny red wrapping paper, which catches the lights from the tree and lends interest.  For a hanger, I used Kreinik ribbon, and bless my local stitching-shop proprietress for suggesting it when I asked for “a really, really thick Kreinik braid or something”.  Darlings: support your local independent shops.

Penguin Ornament

The penguins were a free kit with an issue of Cross Stitch Crazy, and were supposed to be framed in a 3″ plastic hoop.  The putters-together of the kit neglected to include a sufficiently large piece of aida to actually be able to use the hoop without some sort of sorcery, so I turned them into a little pillow instead.  I spend a good chunk of my Christmas Eve morning finishing the cross-stitching at work (while this reeks of desperation, it’s not as bad as the time I set my alarm for 6:00 Christmas morning to finish stitching, so…), and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent lighting.  There’s always a bright side, eh?

Both are now tucked away until next year, when I’m sure they’ll be joined by others.  Thanks for looking! 🙂

…my true love gave to me a parliament of owls for the tree!

(You just know I’ve been waiting for a chance to use one of those esoteric collective nouns.)

My Rules for Mailing are pretty simple: any items being sent by post should be easily replaced i.e. not one-of-a-kind or otherwise difficult to produce or procure, fairly inexpensive, and as small and light as possible to keep postage costs down.  With these criteria in mind, it was decided that my friend Jeanette would be getting a coordinating set of felt owl ornaments for Christmas.

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I followed the tutorial found here, with a few tweaks: I replaced the button pupils with black fabric paint, and dispensed altogether with the rick-rack tummy feathers.  And although I’m normally loath to use colour palettes that are too trendy and risk dating themselves, I must admit that choosing these four complementary colours of felt made it easy to make a matched set but keep each individual owl just a little bit different.

They took a moment to pause for a picture in the cedar tree in my backyard before settling into a bubble envelope for their cross-border trip. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!  One last seasonal make to show everyone…

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I spied this in the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament special.  The magazine’s version was stitched on this crazy Shrek-green evenweave that immediately reminded me of my next door neighbours’ living room walls, and I knew I had to stitch this up for them.  I didn’t have a colour like that in my stash, but I did find some 28-count pewter evenweave, which I thought nicely evocative of a grey winter sky.  (Even though it doesn’t co-ordinate with their walls nearly as well, the cardinals sure pop.)  My local stitchery shop had a small oval hoop which framed it perfectly.

A better shot of the piece itself:

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Wishing everyone happy holidays.  I hope Santa/the Hanukkah Armadillo brings you everything you want!

Last-Minute Make

December 24, 2013

I had seen these owls on Craftster, and had been putting off making one for some time.  But when I did get around to it, was it ever quick!

owl ornaments

I had made the green guy with the intention of attaching him to my cousin’s Christmas gift, but when I showed my mom she immediately decided where he’d look best on our tree, so there you have it…and then I decided to make a purple she-owl so that my parents would have a matched set.

Merry Christmas!

The best-laid plans…

December 20, 2013

Sigh…so I thought with having some time off in December that I’d be a one-girl crafting machine.  Homemade gifts for all!  Hot and cold running cookies!

Funny how things don’t always work out the way you had them planned.

I can’t complain.  The time-management issues were my fault, really, but I wouldn’t trade lunches with old friends for all the hand-knit Chrimbo scarves in the world.  (And a good thing, too, because I’m not much of a knitter.)  Oh, I did get some holiday baking done – and once I’ve posted this, I’m running next door to distribute some of it – and managed a couple of new Christmas ornaments for the tree.

calico ornament

The kitty is from an out-of-production kit I scooped up on Ebay called “Merry Kittens”; she and five others make up the cutest little bunch of tree-hangers ever.  Since I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish all six, I used threads and perforated paper from my own stash to do just the one.

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Remember my fondness for Mill Hill beaded kits?  This one is called “Diamond Holiday”, and has been sitting in my collection for the past two Christmases, untouched.  I suspect some may disagree, but I find the beadwork oddly relaxing…and when it catches the twinkling lights…lovely!

I did get one homemade gift done: a vest for my dad which, although wrapped, is not officially finished.  Once he’s had a chance to try it on, I’ll add the buttons and buttonholes to ensure a custom fit!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in July!

July 25, 2012

A few weeks ago, I went to the cigar store with my lunch date to pick up a top-up card for my phone (this is important).  There was no harm in looking at the magazines first, was there?  This way, if I saw anything I wanted, I could pay for it all at once instead of having to queue up again after.  I squealed when I spied the Christmas ornament preview issue of Just Cross Stitch on the shelf.  It’s a harbinger of great things to come.

“Christmas already?” he asked, taking the magazine from me and turning it over in his hands, examining it.

“Of course!” I replied cheerily.  “If you want to be finished in time for Christmas, you have to start now.”

We perused this year’s offerings, looked at the magazines a bit longer, and I paid for my cross-stitch magazine, the latest issue of Macleans, and a Wunderbar, and we left.  Without the top-up card.  But we did have a Wunderbar, which was a definite plus.

I was right, you know.  You really do have to start stitching/crafting/creating early if you want to have any semblance of sanity left by Christmas.  Hmm.  I remembered a partially finished kit bequeathed to me by my chief cross stitch consultant, who had started it before deciding “Nuts to beadwork!”.  This would be a good time to finally finish it.

A cedar I didn’t know we had in the backyard made a wonderful Christmas tree stand-in.

This is one of the many Mill Hill beaded kits I’ve amassed over the years – I had completed a “Noel” one similar to this a few years back.  It’s supposed to be a poinsettia, although to me it looks more like a bold, Eastern European geometric design.  Also, I’m starting to think there could be a real market for partially-finished kits – with most of the cross stitch finished, this project just flew by as I added the beads and sewed it together.

So there we have it: my second Christmas ornament of 2012.  Hey, if Hallmark thinks it’s time, that’s a good enough reason for me.

Wait.  What?

Okay, so I’m not insanely early with this, I swear.  Just kinda, sorta four months late.  I think my inner monologue started something like this (perhaps abridged for the sake of time and space): “Oh, boy, I love doing Mill Hill beaded kits.  They’re so quick and cute, and if I start stitching now I’ll have this finished in plenty of time for Christmas…All right, now that I’ve got the stitching finished, all that’s left is to add the beads.  Ooh, they’ll twinkle nicely when this is hanging on the Christmas tree….Oh, well [bad word]!  There’s a bead stuck on my needle!  Hmm, maybe if I try pushing it back off the way it came…nope…”

One of the red beads got stuck (as in, super-stuck) on my beading needle.  Right over the eye.  I could neither slide it over the eye and down to its rightful place on the ornament nor slide it back off.  Considering that at this point I had already completed most of the beading and had, oh, three red beads to go, I was considerably unimpressed by this development.  So I calmly and rationally did what any psychologically normal person would do: stuffed the entire works into a drawer to be ignored until some to-be-determined point in the future when I felt like dealing with it.

A few weeks ago, I happened to bitterly mumble something about “that [bad word] bead”, to which my mom replied, “Why don’t you just take a pair of pliers and crush it?  You do have extras, right?”  Genius!  So, yesterday I took a pair of pliers and crushed the sodding little thing to bits, whereupon I cheerfully resumed my otherwise pleasant little project.  Here it is, with one of my mom’s potted plant-like things standing in for a Christmas tree.  Hey, foliage is foliage:

It’s called “Kitty’s Gift”, and I can see now that I need to trim the backing paper on it…but I’ve still got eight months or so.  She looks rather like my youngest cat, too.

Gratuitous cat shot:

(Yes, the cat, I got dressed up in time for Christmas.  The tree, not so much.)

Also on my list of Easter weekend homemakery, I made a pie from scratch for the first time.  Well, the crust is from scratch, at least.  I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of doing a scratch filling only to find out that the crust was going to be inedible, but…next time!  I used the Buttery Double Crust recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and dumped a can of peach-passionfruit filling in between.  The edge of the crust turned out a little lumpy and imperfect, but I’m still satisfied for a first attempt:

My Pennsylvania RR Peach Passionfruit Pie.  One of the pies in the book shows a crust with little stars cut out; I happened to have a small locomotive cookie cutter handy so used that instead.

I could use more four-day weekends.  I get so much more done around the house than I do at work.  🙂

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!

When I first found this pattern, I was abruptly reminded of driving to the grocery store with my mother, my cousin and I sitting in the backseat, singing along with the golden oldies on the radio.  When the Eagles came on, my cousin went right on singing, labouring under the delusion that the woman they were singing about was itchy, not witchy, and then interrupted herself to wonder aloud just why she was so itchy in the first place.  (The unspoken consensus in the backseat seemed to be VD, although this is an archaic term that we didn’t actually know back then.) From the front seat, my mother pointed out that the woman was in fact witchy, not itchy, and this put rather a kibosh on our impromptu concert.

After completing “Scaredy Cats” from the Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue, I tackled “Witchy Kitty” by Brittercup Designs, and then turned it into a cute l’il pillow ornament.

I used plain old DMC threads instead of the fancy-pants overdyed ones recommended in the instructions, but I think it looks just as good.  The one thing I’m particularly proud of is using Kreinik glow-in-the-dark fine braid to do her potion; it makes the piece really pop.  I fashioned a corded hanger using the same colours I used in the design, and then….

….I backed it with some wicked cool fabric with glow-in-the-dark kitteh eyes on it before stuffing it.  I now have the better part of .3 metres of that stuff in my stash, and I’m going to have to find a project for the rest of it.

Happy Halloween!

(And now the Christmas stitching begins…!)