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.

bauble

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!

Just for you…Mum!

May 22, 2011

Yes, Mother’s Day was two weeks ago.  I’ve been remiss.  I did, however, manage to get both little stitchy pieces finished in time for the big day, even if I wound up putting in the last ten French knots the morning of.  It was worth the stress, though, and the end result was… ïжак!

(I can’t remember how to ask where the train station is, for example, but ïжак , I remember.  Oy.)

I found this Margaret Sherry design in an issue of Cross Stitcher magazine and knew that I had to do it up.  I did it on 28-count evenweave rather than aida, mainly to make the crazy backstitch just a little easier – and did this ever pay off the night before Mother’s Day, as I was frantically working the lettering.

And lo and behold, Mill Hill released new spring kits in plenty of time for me to stitch one:

This one was from the kitties.  🙂  The kit came with a magnet, but no one would ever get to see it on the fridge, so I finished it as a hanging ornament instead and backed it with some holographic paper I found in my scrapbooking stash.

(As always, clicking on the photos will make them larger – thanks for looking!)

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?

Bewitched Kitty

October 9, 2010

I bought this Mill Hill beaded kit last year just after Halloween – thereby eliminating the pressure to have it finished before.  Oh, yes.  I’m clever, I am.  After finishing one of my UFOs (pictures still forthcoming), I thought it was time for a quick-stitch project that would provide almost instant gratification.  And right I was!

It’s actually pretty tiny, maybe 2 1/2 inches tall.  The kit came with a pin back, but honestly, I’d be paranoid about something happening to it (flimsy perforated paper, delicate beads, potentially de-secured thread tails – ack!), so I used one of Kreinik’s new holographic threads to make a hanger and turn it into an ornament instead.

My own bewitched kitties seem quite enthralled with it, as the living-room sun glints off the beads, so it’s now hung safely out of harm’s way.