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.

Cake 1

Cake 2

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.

Cake 3

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.

Hedgehog Mouse Card

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…

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! 🙂

Paws up for birthday cake!

January 29, 2012

What is it with Margaret Sherry and cute cat designs?  While flipping through a back issue of Cross Stitcher magazine on New Year’s Eve (is that a debaucherous evening or what?), I found the perfect design to turn into a card for my mom’s birthday.  While the red velvet pancakes were charring cooking, she opened a rather unassuming white envelope to find this staring back at her:

I used 18-count fabric instead of 14 as called for by the magazine to get it to fit in the card, and used random colours that looked close enough to those on the model – perfect way to use what I had laying around.  I love the concerned look on his face, and promised to use fewer candles on her birthday cake – if only by one.

(Please excuse the “arty” shot.)

I don’t think the cake could have been any simpler to make: a double batch of the basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, divided between two round layer pans, topped with a coffee-and-Kahlua’ed version of the chocolate buttercream frosting from the same.  Because I had serious doubts about my ability to wield a tube of decorating gel, I had the foresight to trace the words onto the top using a toothpick, and then follow the lines.  Hey, it may not be terribly skillful, but it worked.

And now that it’s all over, I get to breathe easy again, at least until Mother’s Day.

Lo, the much-hyped birth announcement has been completed – and less than two months after the actual birth.  Go me!

It’s an Anchor kit, designed by Margaret Sherry (love her stuff!) called “Little Bundle”.  Much like the lovey-dovey Solo the Cat cross-stitch in the last post, this one is full of backstitch that starts and ends at funny places, and would have been easier on evenweave.  Despite that, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out; it really was an enjoyable stitch despite the vast areas of green and white.

Please excuse the rather dreary appearance; this is what happens when one waits until natural daylight is gone to take a picture.  Rest assured, the fabric and the diaper are white…ohhh, so much white…

It has yet to be washed and framed, but I’ll be holding off on that for just a little while.  When you hear the neighbours having a shouted conversation across the street: “Hey, Bill, how’s your water over there?”  “Brown!  Yours?”  “Yep!”, the prudent thing to do seems to be to wait for the municipal waterworks department to finish their water main repairs before attempting to soak what will hopefully be an heirloom piece.

After all that crazy backstitch, working on a perforated-paper ornament kit feels like some sort of dream…

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!)

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…

Christmas Presents Ahoy!

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!  I could offer the standard excuses for not updating sooner (I spent the entirety of November pounding out a novel!  I stitched my little fingers to the bone!  I got abducted by a herd of rogue Simmentals!), but instead, I think I’ll just show off all the stitchy Christmas presents I managed to finish.

For my friend Rachael in Eng-er-land, some easy-to-stitch, easy-to-ship Animated Kitchenware tea-towels:

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There they are, posing sweetly on my oven door.

Avon lady and dear soul Heather got a small Margaret Sherry design:

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I was so happy to have an excuse to use my opalescent aida cloth!

My parents each got a custom shirt from me.  My dad used to work for the railroad and is still very much into trains, so I made him a Chessie shirt using a pattern that I found online:

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It was stitched onto the pocket of a denim shirt using waste canvas…I do like the colours!

My mom collects all things hedgehog, so I used the Sublime Stitching Forest Friends pattern to come up with this:

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It’s just a plain blue t-shirt from Michael’s, but sufficiently jazzed up now.  Also, Sublime Stitching’s T-shirt Stabilizer is a godsend!

Last but not least, this Subversive Cross Stitch pattern (I tweaked the colours and omitted the border) seemed just too perfect for coworker and co-conspirator Sue.  It’s now sitting on her desk, spreading sunshine and lollipops to all who venture past.

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Thanks for looking; as always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to leave a comment!