…my true love gave to me: a Minion from Despicable Me!

Oooh, this was a fun project!  I love those projects that give me a chance to create something I would normally never make otherwise.  (But which I still want to make, obviously.)  One of my nearest and dearest is a Minions fan despite having several decades on their target age group.  I used to roll my eyes at him, but have gradually come around and warmed up to them – when I found the Minions patterns by Let’s Make Crafts on Etsy, I knew I had found his Christmas present!

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I’m so happy with how this turned out!  It was a “larger” small project (if that makes sense), but uses only whole stitches, a handful of colours, and just the tiniest bit of backstitch to really bring out the details.

***A NOTE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BACKSTITCH***

I know a lot of stitchers moan about backstitch.  “It’s boring.”  “It takes too long.”  And while I know how it feels to put in that very…last…stitch, only to realize you now have to go over the entire piece again to add the backstitch, it really does make all the difference.  Stuart, up there, only has a bit of backstitch, for his hair and for the strings on his guitar.  No big deal, right?

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Without it, he looks like Telly freakin’ Savalas.  Who loves ya, baby, indeed!  Seriously, kids, take the time to add your backstitching.

***THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT***

Now that he’s got…hair…and guitar strings, I’m really excited for the big unveiling at Christmas.  Good thing I found Minions wrapping paper at Dollarama.  Only one more week to go…

Thanks for looking!   🙂

…my true love gave to me: a hoop that says, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

Can you believe it’s that time of year again?  And that I was insane enough to attempt Craftmas yet again?  Okay, it’s not as bad as all that: I did do a bit of planning this year and started my stitching early, but there are still a few projects that are freaking me the heck out right about now.  Why aren’t they finished yet?  Stay tuned, kids; this is going to be a wild, crafty ride.

One thing I have going for me, however, is that I had the presence of mind to start early on the one project that has to cross international borders via a wholly reliable and never delayed or overpriced postal system.  What does one make for the writer who’s a Stephen King fan and who collects typewriter paraphernalia?  I did what I do best, and perused Etsy for inspiration.  Good thing, too, because that’s where I found these tiny typewriter charts.

I wasn’t crazy about the phrases on the typewriters’ paper, though.  They were cute, sure, but not quite what I was looking for.  Some divine inspiration struck, and I was reminded of The Shining, where no TV and no beer make Homer…something, something, uh, where Jack Nicholson goes stir-crazy.

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It looks big there, I know, but that’s actually a four-inch hoop it’s framed in.

Also, I didn’t much care for the fact that the carriage return and paper-guide-bar-thingie (note the pains I take to use the technical terms) were originally supposed to be stitched in plain cotton embroidery floss, and substituted in DMC E415.

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Et voila, a hip, pop-culture-y hoop, with minimal stress or fuss.  It was put in the mail Sunday; I hope she likes it!

Thanks for looking! 🙂

…or maybe just sleeping.

October 5, 2016

It’s October, and you know what that means!  Pumpkin spice season?  No!  Well, yes, but…  Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows that I love (love!) Halloween.  I don’t think a more perfect holiday exists.  Need reasons to love it?

  • No matter how old you are, you get to dress up in an awesome costume, without judgement or being deemed “eccentric”
  • It’s kind of all about the candy.  And not that gritty, aimed-at-kids stuff that populates the shelves around Easter!  No, you get miniature versions of your favourite chocolate bars, plus lots of spooky, seasonal goodies.
  • There’s no pressure to spend face time with weird relatives, or buy gifts for everyone, or fill your calendar to capacity with boring dinners and pageants.
  • There is no better excuse to rewatch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! or any of the umpteen Treehouse of Horror episodes (with I through VI being preferred).

Yep, I love Halloween.  Know what I’m less fond of?

Stitching on black aida.

But I made an exception (had to, really) when I saw the “Sorry We’re Dead” design on Satsuma Street’s Etsy shop.

 

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Honestly?  Stitching on dark fabric isn’t quite as wretched as I remember it being.  A bit challenging, sure, but no way would this have looked 1/10 as good on white.

Me being me, I couldn’t be bothered with following the instructions to a T; I left off a skull and some arrows along the bottom of the design (partly as a time-saver, and partly because skulls just aren’t my thing).  I also chose to ignore the colour key, and instead substituted in my own choices: the orange and pale yellow (chartreuse?) are from a super-cheap package of Day-Glo polyester threads I bought at Michaels and which heretofore had only been used in friendship bracelets.  The white “We’re” and the stars are done in DMC E940, which looks like regular white floss but which glows in the dark.  It’s a shame no one will get to appreciate it, as the finished product is currently hanging in my cubicle at work.

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Look at that back!  This is probably a more accurate representation of the colours.

Thanks for looking!

P.S. I have some limited-edition kitchen towels up on my Etsy shop…once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Saying it with flower…

February 16, 2016

No, that’s not a typo. 🙂

My aunt went to Cuba last month, and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, came back to the snow and cold a few weeks later.  (Oh, so “all-inclusive” and “indefinite” don’t mean the same thing?)  She did, however, bring me back the coolest souvenir ever: a little wooden trivet, with a picture of a cat on it, pieced together like a mosaic out of all different types – or at least stains/finishes – of wood, with the name of the town burned into the wood along the bottom.  This thing is gorgeous, and I’m almost afraid to use it for its intended purpose.

Obviously a thank-you note was in order, and luckily, I had picked up Issue 237 of The World of Cross Stitching a few days before and seen the quick-stitch thank-you cards featured in it.

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I did alter the design a little bit from its original iteration: I could not find a card in my stitching stash with a big enough circular aperture, so I left out the backstitched border and French knots that made the design circular and re-positioned the lettering so that it was justified rather than curving inward.  I also changed the colours, because, well, why not?

I’ll be sending it up her way tomorrow, and hope it conveys my sincere appreciation. 🙂

I know I’ve disappeared for the last month – January seems to have gotten away from me, but I was quite pleased with myself for having been able to post at least one handmade/home-baked item per month last year, and had no intention of letting my streak disappear!

My mom celebrated a birthday recently, and those of you who follow me regularly know my Birthday Rule.  Obviously there was going to be a homemade cake of some kind; it just took me a while to decide which kind.  I had contemplated tiramisu (vanilla cake, coffee, Kahlua, chocolate shavings) in all its adult glory, but finally decided I needed something chocolate-based.  No matter how fancy I get, she always seems to like my plain chocolate cake/cupcakes best of all.  I got the idea to make a chocolate buttercream frosting laced with raspberry syrup (the latte kind, not the pancake kind), with fresh raspberries for garnish.

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But the true stroke of genius, in my obviously completely unbiased opinion, was to place some raspberries on top of the bottom layer once it had been frosted.  It reminded me of some of the fruit tortes from store bakeries, and adds a really nice bit of flavour and texture where one might not expect it.

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I also had the perfect birthday card in mind: a Margaret Sherry illustration from The World of Cross Stitching a few months back.  It features a sweet little mouse presenting his hedgehog friend with a birthday cake.

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When I showed it to one of the other party guest, he commented, “Aw, look at the cute little muskrat!”  I’m not sure he was joking.

Also, update on my grammar hoop: I finally got to give it to its intended recipient this week, and he loves it.  He’s displayed it proudly at work, only to have one of his coworkers ask him: “Do you really do it silently?”  Maybe not always…

….my true love gave to me a hoop that says, “Speak properly!”

This is the final Craftmas post, and quite possibly my favourite of the lot: my gift for my friend, Bill.

Let me preface this by stating without reservation that I did not come up with this saying, nor the pattern.  Rather, I saw this post made by the wonderfully talented Homerof2 on Craftster, and knew I had to have one.  I used PCStitch to design a chart based on the photo, and think it turned out quite well – but all credit really belongs to the original artist.

Bill and I have many things in common, but one of our favourite shared pastimes is mocking other people’s bad grammar and/or spelling.  Don’t get me wrong; we’re not a couple of total jerks.  We would never make fun of someone whose first language isn’t English, for example, or mock people simply for being less well-read than we are.  Our favourite target is the media (both print and otherwise), because really, if you’ve chosen a career that entails communicating effectively and clearly, you ought to have a handle on the language.  (Wouldn’t you be terrified of a doctor who didn’t know the difference between your arms and your legs?  So why should the meteorologist who speaks glibly of “tempachure” get a free pass?)

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I used a dark blue floss (and hanging ribbon…and backing felt…) to keep it a little more neutral and masculine without using plain black everything, and didn’t paint or cover the hoop for the same reason.  I’m not sure if or where he’ll want to hang this, but I thought it might make a fun decoration for work.

As always, thank you for looking, and I look forward to blogging with you in 2016!

…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 shirt with an “N” and a “B”.

Hello, all, and happy Christmas-is-over.  Sorry if that sounds Grinchlike, but there’s something to be said for not panicking that I have to sew-and-bake-and-buy-and-wrap.  But now that (most) of the handmade gifts have been opened, it’s time for me to catch up and post the rest of them.

I’ve stitched railway-themed shirts for my dad in the past, but it’s been a few years and I thought it was time he had a new one to add to his collection.  I didn’t want to do just plain denim again, and when I saw coloured denim/canvas/something sturdy shirts at Mark’s, I knew I had found my blank slate.  I opted for a mossy green one and added the Burlington Northern logo to the pocket – you know, before it became part of BNSF.

This isn’t the best picture, but gives the best representation of the colour:

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And a close-up of the pocket:

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<whispering>I think the liked it!</whispering>  He unwrapped it Christmas morning, and wore it to a family gathering on Boxing Day without bothering to iron it or anything.

I hope everyone had a crafty, happy holiday! 🙂

When I first saw the issue of The World of Cross Stitching with a free Margaret Sherry card kit attached – featuring a hedgehog, no less! – there was really no doubt as to whether I’d buy it.  I try to cross stitch a card for Mother’s Day every year, and the hedgehog factor was just the icing on the cake.  (Since hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to the region, their likeness can be difficult to find in stores.)

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Despite a slow start, this came together much more quickly than I expected.  And the backstitch really makes his prickles stand out!  It made a cute addition to my mom’s gift.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Urban Wildlife

April 5, 2015

I rarely stitch for myself, but when Cross Stitcher included cover kits of a fox and a raccoon a couple of years back, I held onto them, planning to do them “someday”.  These were bold, simple patterns that used only a handful of colours, meaning they’d be the perfect intermission stitch when large projects were making me crazy.  And – and this may be what promoted them from “maybe” to “yes!” – they came with a precut felt frame right in the kit, making the whole affair rather self-contained and all the more appealing.  All I’d have to do is add a hanger of some sort, and heaven knows I have enough different ribbons in my stash.

And so, eventually…in between large projects, Christmas gifts, quick cards…they somehow got finished.  The completed stitching was tucked away along with the frame inside the original packaging until I had a reason to assemble them.  Wonder of wonders, my cubicle wall (fun fact: the proper term for “cubicle wall” is “baffle”.  Who knew?) was painfully bare and in desperate need of a little brightening up!

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To add some interest to the frames, I added a bit of decorative running stitch with my sewing machine.  This wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had; felt does not pivot as nicely as normal fabric does to ensure a smooth curve, and I had to keep stopping to defuzz my needle and bobbin area.  But they’re done, and give my cube a much-needed splash of colour.

Happy Easter!