Sorry for the clickbait: this isn’t a summery post per se, but bear with me, because there is a connection.

But first, a brief discourse on why you ought to Support Your Local Sheriff Gunfighter Stitching Shop.

A few years ago, I was out Christmas shopping with my dad, and we stopped into my favourite stitch shop for a quick purchase.  Naturally, I couldn’t leave without browsing at least a little bit, and that was when I saw The Kit.  It was a gorgeous picture of a calico cat resting on a piano and surrounded by oodles of music paraphernalia.  (I’ve always had a soft spot for calicos.)

“Oooh,” I breathed, picking it up to examine it more closely.  “Look at it, it….oh, wait, it’s not cross-stitch; it’s needlepoint.  Rats.”

“You’ve been stitching for a long time.  So what if this is a slightly different technique?  I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out.”

I squinted at the cover picture.  “Well, it does kind of look like half cross-stitch.  [Note: It’s actually called Continental Stitch.]  But I’ll leave it for today.  I’m not here to shop for myself.”  I set it back, planning to return sometime after the holidays.

My dad, in a rare moment of Acute Human Observation, promptly sent my mom to the shop the following week to buy it for me for Christmas.  She’s not a stitcher, but he gave her a description of the picture, and where in the store to find it.  She managed to locate the kit, and in the course of paying for it, struck up a conversation with the shop owner who quickly figured out who she was, and who the kit was for.  And actually tried to stop her.

“This is needlepoint.  The Witty Child doesn’t do needlepoint; she cross-stitches.”

My mom had to explain that all involved parties were aware of the technique used, and that I’d be willing and able to cut my teeth on something new.  And she left with the kit, which I unwrapped a week or so later.

But can you believe that?  The small business owner would rather have lost a sale than saddle a customer with an unsuitable item.  Does Michael’s, or Wal-Mart, or the discount crafty website do that, or offer that level of personalized service?  Support Your Local Stitching Shop!  I can’t stress that enough.

The kit (called “Gershwin”…and there’s your connection!) took me a few years of needling away at it.  I rarely stitch for myself, so my progress was forever being interrupted by birthday cards, birth announcements, Christmas ornaments…

I managed to finish it a couple of months back, and of course I had to return to my local shop to have it framed:

IMG_0561

Didn’t she do a fantastic job?!  There’s no way I could have framed it half as nicely.  The framing complements the picture without detracting from it, and makes it look like a painting from a distance.

Support Your Local Stitching Shop.

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.

Hey, I did promise that UFO pictures would be forthcoming, didn’t I?

Anyway, I’m kind of proud of this one, if only because I just started it earlier this year after finishing another UFO.  That has to be some kind of record for me.  My UFOs are usually years in the making.

It’s “Too Pooped” from Dimensions, based on original artwork by Charles Wysocki.  My dad picked it up for me when he was out of town on business, and although it does seem like a strange choice for a souvenir, he definitely had me pegged with it.  This kept me occupied way longer than, say, a keychain or shot glass.  Cross-stitch and cats are the perfect (notice I didn’t say “purrfect”) combination.

What a lot of brown!  I was clever and did most of the tree first so that I had fun kitty stripes at the end rather than just brown and more brown.  I think finding the perfect frame earlier in the summer helped motivate me too – all that was missing was the completed needlework.

Our youngest cat routinely positions herself thusly on backs of chairs, arms of couches, etc., garnering cries of “Too pooped!” whenever she does.

I don’t hate my job, per se.  I do, however, hate that the eight hours per day spent at work, plus travel/preparation time, is severely cutting into my crafty time.  Hmm.  Maybe I’ll enjoy it even more if I don’t get to do it all that often.  Or maybe I can learn to cleverly invest my paycheques and retire within the next two years, thereby freeing up all sorts of time.  Or not.  In the meantime, if they’re happy to pay me to hang out in the office, being helpful and productive and generally not screwing things up too much, then I’m happy to be there.

One thing I definitely love about my job, though, is the Bake Day Club.  There are about 20 or so of us now who take turns bringing in delicious home baking (or even purchased donuts; we’re not picky) every Thursday.  This week was my turn – my first time.  Eek!  It had come out some time ago that I do the whole vegan thing, so I was super determined to prove to everyone that I can bake just as well as they can, without the use of dairy or eggs.  I whipped up a pan of Cranberry Lemon Zing Oat Bars from Kris Holechek’s The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes – a crowd-pleaser if there ever was one – and these little gems:

Top-down shot:

How autumny!  (Thursday being the first full day of fall, of course.)  These are a variation on the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I left the chocolate chips out, replaced them with ground walnuts, and added a little extra ginger, nutmeg, and cloves (about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of each) to give them a spicy pumpkin-pie feel.  Oh, yes, and used mini-cupcake pans, obviously, instead of standard ones.  People kept asking if I had baked them from scratch, and no one thought to ask whether there was, you know, like, tofu or something in there, ick.  Yay!  Chalk up another victory for tasty vegan baking!

Despite the aforementioned time crunch and sad lack of craftiness, I have managed to finish a couple of UFOs (or does that make them FOs, now?).  Stay tuned….

You’d better watch out…

December 16, 2009

…you’d better not cry.  Better not pout, I’m telling you why: this jolly fellow is currently gracing the bathroom door, spreading a little holiday cheer to everyone who pounds and demands when he or she will get his or her turn:

This is one of the many maybe two UFOs I’ve completed this year, which is still a strange feeling for me.  The kit is by Dimensions, and came complete with wire hanger (insert Mommie Dearest joke here) and custom threads that bled slightly (grrr) when I did the standard cold-water dunk upon finishing.  It’s only noticeable if you know where to look, though…whew.

Who knows?  Maybe by next Christmas, I’ll have the next Dimensions kit done…or maybe the Christmas after that…