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…!)

It’s ghoulicious!

October 15, 2011

According to the editor of Just Cross Stitch magazine, Halloween is the second most popular occasion to stitch for.  I don’t know whether the sample size for this pronouncement includes only readers of this particular publication, or stitchers in general, but that still can’t dissuade me from devouring the annual Halloween ornament issue.  My mother decided she liked “Scaredy Cats” by Val’s Stuff, so I stitched it for her:

I did not have 30-count Peoria Purple in my stash as prescribed in the magazine, but lo, 14-count Lavender Whisper aida still lends a bit of colour.  I layered the finished piece on top of two pieces of stiff, sparkly felt, and slipped a loop of black ribbon in between the black and purple felt to make a hanger.  I also tweaked the “a”s and the “s” in “cats” to make them slightly less blocky, but that was just a personal choice.

It now hangs in the living room, teasing the living and breathing cats in the house to no end.

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.

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.

From the Just Cross Stitch Halloween ornament spectacular, may I present “R.I.P.’s Girl” by Charlette Dockens.  I immediately zeroed in on her as soon as I picked up the magazine, and knew I had to stitch her.

She was stitched on 14-count perforated paper using three strands for cross-stitch, one strand for backstitch and beading (yes, her jewelry is actually beaded).  I corded some floss myself for the hanger, and backed her with glittery purple felt.  Oh, and you can’t tell from the picture, but her eyes were stitched with DMC Light Effects glow-in-the-dark floss.  I love that stuff, and wish I had more applications for it.

1517

I think I’ll hang her up at work – make my coworkers jealous.  Heh.