Wednesday, January 13, 2021

In The Pursuit of Happiness...

 If the performance of 2021 in this first few days is a predictor of future results-- I'm already wanting another trade-in... still, you're not going to catch me sitting in front of TV, nail biting.

I'm going to *VOTE* for myself, buy a piece of land in some remote corner of the planet, and start a cult. 

You're welcome to join me... it doesn't have to be a big piece of land-- we won't be growing our own food. All the food is going to be takeout. The majority of our time will be spent in the pursuit of happiness--sewing, sewing, sewing, Until my plan is a reality, we still have this blog for a little respite-- and a free stitch-a-long. You are welcome with open arms.

Once Upon A Time, Winter

I snagged this cool planner at Michaels (to start your own republic, you need to be organized) and one of the first things I did this year was open up my closet, and write down every quilt I have fabric for. I was so pleased to see I only needed one page! I starred the ones that I think I'd like to tackle first. As I said before, show quilts aren't a thing with me right now-- I'd love to make actual blankets that provide warmth and wrap my family and friends in love.

First up, is another Editya Sitar design-- after Sew In Love, I'm on a bit of a roll with her. So, every year I promise myself to finish the ones I started already first-- I'm considering this in the "Started" column because it's already cut!

"Alaska" arrived in this neat box, all arranged like a puzzle, and I do love a puzzle. This is my first laser cut kit and so far, I am really pleased-- there's absolutely no waste! No scraps, hanging around, looking like they want to be used for something else...

This is the first block-- I looked it over, and decided to schedule a block every three or four days through January in my planner-- you do have to make four of each, but there's only twelve pieces.

I guess I should have looked ahead, because Block Two has twenty pieces...

and then there's one with 28 pieces... so I have to admit it's barely two weeks into January and I'm already completely behind!

I had the foresight to put everything in my planner in PENCIL... and this is a beautiful quilt I'm determined to sew on... I found that Editya (we're on a first name basis now) did an entire series of videos on how to make this which I discovered late...

It's been very difficult to get these points to match so far. I'm letting go of perfection... it certainly doesn't help progress, but this quilt will be no less warm because of it. I think I will get better as I go along-- and at the end I'll make a decision about tweaking a "mistake" here or there.

For my hand sewing in the morning, I 'm happy to report I finished another one of these applique borders...

...never mind that one is shorter than the other-- the one on the right has been hanging for months and I will bet they will even out later this summer!

On the business side, I have the third part of Once Upon a Time well underway...

I got my supply of thread re-stocked and can now finish making my Cross Stitch Cottage borders... this quilt I'd love to have completed by the end of the month, but it's a bit dicey...

I had to remake two of my blocks, because in the height of the pandemic, I ran out of stabilizer, didn't use enough and wasn't happy with my stitch-out-- you might be surprised to hear that, but STUFF happens in even the most experienced sewing room. I admit it in the hopes that you'll get back on the horse with this project if you've been derailed for whatever reason.

And I've also started the next set of five states for "Carefree Highways" They are going to feature states with National Parks-- I love this theme, even though I've visited very few of them.

Acadia National Park in Maine gets the second highest visits each year-- gosh, I love a bit of trivia and this series is so full of fun facts to find.

So here we are in 2021. My resolution was to do more of the little things-- making food for my family, making a positive comment to all in my circle... to be a better person... it's a key to happiness for me. Take care of your little world as best you can, and pursue your own happiness today.



Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

 There's a ton of emotion packed into those three words for all of us!


I can easily remember my most hair raising moment of the year as I walked my daughter over to the ER doors with a completely closed sore throat and then realized they weren't going to let me in with her...

but then I have to admit, all is well that ends well, because some very good things came out of this year, too-- like a reunited family. I certainly hope you can say the same.

Overall, I am much too tired for reflection at this point, whether it is the full weight of 2020 or just the Christmas busy-ness that has caught up with me.

The week between Christmas and New Year's is always a favorite with me-- the crush is over, but it's still not back to business yet! DOWN TIME! And, while tired, I have been keeping myself busy all week-- (one of the things I am grateful for-- my "sewjo" did not miss a beat this year-- well, not too many beats anyway!

I finished Block 4 of my Christmas BOM, named "Holiday Cheer," renamed (by me in the last blog post) "Christmas Tulips Open Their Gifts" and I'll now remember as "Holiday Hangover" after trying to get those green checks to line up nicely. 

In another case of "all's well that ends well," I did get three of them to play nice, and just left a note for myself on the other. It's amazing how your perspective changes over time, and I will see how I feel on some later, lazy, and lovely summer evening...

Then, I put Block Five together, oh, sew easily-- 

As also told in my last post, this is the ONLY thing the Fat Quartershop delivered to me on time this month, (not their fault) -- the only thing that I was NOT anxiously awaiting. But I'm so happy to call myself up-to-date on this stitch-a-long... it may be the only thing I am not behind on as of this moment.

Most of the week, you'll be happy to know, I spent on this:

Yes! It is the finishing kit for cross stitch Cottages of the Month! Alot of repetitive embroidery has been going on (while I stitched my BOMs) and a lot of trimming, and I still have a couple of blocks I'd like to do-over and I also ran out of 2179 Stone's Throw. 

I don't have to have mine completely finished before you can start yours, and I'm just finishing up the instructions-- hoping for it to be the first set of 2021... we can all finish together!

Christmas was a real joy this year-- my handmade stockings were truly loved, and I think I'm starting a trend because I received some handmade things as well. My daughter knitted this blanket...

You might think that jumbo yarn made it easy-- but you have to know-- it was NOT easy stitching on great big needles over a huge length! 

And my son's girlfriend made me this cool Diamond Art picture of the kids. I wasn't sure what Diamond Art is-- but it is just like cross stitch-- so appropriate for me, and I'm sure it took a similar amount of time.

Santa also brought me a Ninja Foodi pressure cooker and a crockpot, too-- at first, I interpreted it as "you need to spend more time feeding us," but when I made a 5lb chicken in 40 minutes, well, you know, more sewing time has just been freed up-- I LOVE them both!

Look at the peppercorn gravy that came under it-- I didn't even have to fix it up, it was delish! I haven't tried yet, but I'm hoping I get the same results under steamed veggies.

So that's the end of our 2020 story-- another quiet night at home awaits, which is another plus or minus on the scale of this year, whichever way you want to look at it.

Greetings and love to you all-- and all the best for 2021!



Thursday, December 24, 2020

All is calm, all is bright...

 Well, it is hardly calm and bright here, but it makes for a lovely post heading, don't you think?

I am up early today for a big day of cookie distribution, housecleaning, and cooking to get ready for tomorrow, but I did want to just wish you all well this Christmas. All the presents are wrapped and under the tree-- unlike other years, my embroidered gifts are all finished! Very unusual for me, as I usually think nothing of giving gifts that are 95% done-- here is a glimpse at an often repeated scene at my house on Christmas morning:

Recipient (opening gift): OOOOOooooooooh!

Me: Be careful! There's pins in it!

Last year, the girls got stockings, so this year, it is the boy's turn, and this is what I came up with--

This one is for my son-- he has his own auto repair shop-- Rebel Motorworks. You probably know that back in the day, I was a graphic designer, so I was able to gin up a cool logo for him... and it's wonderful to be able to embroider things with it.

I am always so pleased when something comes out-- well, it looks so PROFESSIONAL, doesn't it! LOL.

There were still pins in it at the timing of that photo, but now it is completely finished, wrapped, and under the tree.

Now here is one for my daughter's new beau. Do you have a "thing"? You know, like horses, or penguins? His "thing" is...

I had so hoped to find a "yellow" Christmas print for it-- I am sure such a thing exists, but not in my stash. So to make it more Christmassy, I appliqued the Santa hat-- and doesn't that look like just the exact Santa hat a snake would wear? I blurred out the name in Photoshop so if this person happens upon this blog, they won't realize it's for them. heehee.

Next year, I am going to write up stocking tutorials for you all-- it is so easy to just put any design on cloth and make a fabulous custom stocking-- what is embroidery for, if not to make the absolutely perfect gift?

None of the men in my family ever set foot in my sewing room or even know I have a blog-- so these are all top secret and they will be surprised. 

So now I am going to bore you for a few minutes... trust me, only people who love sewing will want to continue. 

Have a Merry Christmas, ALL!

In the last post, I was trying to stitch up this odd looking block for my Corey Yoder BOM-- don't take it as criticism-- after all-- it has checkers in it, and you know how that's a "thing" I love!

It just looks like it is trying to be Santa hats-- am I missing something? Then, as I was making it, I saw that it is the Christmas tulips, opening their gifts.

Unfortunately, the OCD in me also saw that this checkered fabric looked off kilter in the pattern. This BOM is run by Fat Quarter Shop, who is famous for supplying twice the fabric you actually need, so I decided to see if I could get the checkers to line up a bit  more neatly. I was finally happy with this one!

Unfortunately, again, it took me about a whole fat quarter to make this, and I need three more! I also made it into a huge chore-- -do you ever find yourself saying in your head, "This was supposed to be fun." At this point, it has ended up back in a box-- unfinished.

And then, despite nationwide shipping delays, the next month came right on time-- BOO! I had hoped to be done by now-- so I am officially behind on yet another BOM. 

On the plus side, Month 5 is more up my alley-- I love a star block!

So that's another project added to my "catch-up" list in January, already longer than I'd like it to be!!


Are you still there?

It's now back to fabulous embroidered gifts! I'm sure the BOM chat caused the ladies in my family to lose interest in reading-- because here are the presents I just can't wait to show you!

Every year, I make a fabulous embroidered Notebook Cover"-- I have to admit, it's mostly for testing purposes, because I've never written a word in any of them. (In my defense, I did sketch a few pages in one.) So this year (someone) asked for a journal for a gift-- that was like asking a eskimo for snow! I went right to work-- here is a notebook I picked up in the office supply section at Walmart...

I had a ton of fabric left over from the Sew in Love quilt-- another Fat Quartershop subscription.
I'm not a fan of pink, but this person is, and I did find a few pink ribbons in my ribbon stash to embellish it. 

Everything looks so much better with just that little added extra!

Well, it turned into a real eye popper! So much so, I think I am going to make another one for myself!
In thinking about 2020, it would have been the perfect year to document all that happened-- all the details that are now starting to dull in my mind.
So let's try again in 2021 to write a few bits of hard earned wisdom for future generations to benefit from.

And finally, this is the present I am MOST EXCITED to give-- 
if you follow my blog, you know that I finished a 23-year old cross stitch stocking I had started in 1997... well, it isn't really "finished' until it is made into a stocking is it?

So there it is, and forgive me for the picture on top of laundry, but I had to sneak around to finish and wrap it, because my daughter is living with us right now. She knows I finished it late this summer, but I haven't mentioned it since then, so I think it will be a big surprise. No one knows better than she does how I have trouble finishing things!


It's worth noting that cutting it out took every
fiber of courage I possess!

So now we have arrived at the end of our sewing year, 2020,
and I've used up more words than I intended on this post...

it's okay, because there really are no words to express my thanks to all of you for enriching this little machine embroidered corner of the world with your friendship and love.

A calm and bright MERRY CHRISTMAS, to you ALL!


Thursday, December 17, 2020

It's beginning to look a lot like...

As we are currently and ironically now located in Southeastern Mass, we were set to get slammed overnight with snowstorm "Gail." The kid in me was super pysched to get our first nor'easter in two years; the adult in me, well, there is no adult in me.

So waking up this morning to the sound of plows at 5:00am, I was deflated to see this so far:

My deck railing serves as the only weather instrument I've ever needed, and the report is "snow mixed with rain." It's supposed to get colder again today and so it might turn back to snow...

Until then, it's a pretty enough picture outside, and I am set for a nice day of embroidery and sewing from the safety of my house. 

First up today-- a bit of work on the finishing kit for 
Cottages of the Month!

I hope you saw that the final block is posted and on intro price today!
There is a quilt block, mug rug, and postcard version-- just make a single for a fabulous Christmas gift or get ready for an even more amazing quilt!

I am generally a humble person-- but I have to admit the twelfth block came pretty close to being labeled PRIDE-- hee, hee. It is a proud moment to see the twelve cottages finished. When I think of the hardships of the past year, the blocks reminded me of that Bible verse... "Whatever things are true, whatever things are lovely-- think on these things." Well, it makes we want to CRY because making these cottages with each sentiment kind of saved me in some tough moments this year. 

The sashings are designed,  but the measurements for cutting are a little odd due to the fact that embroidery shrinks a bit. No worries-- the instructions have now marinated and I have come up with an ingenious and oh, sew easy method of dealing with it-- hope to release this in early in January.

Next up, for a little attention today, is Block 4 of my Coriander Christmas BOM-- I saw that Block 5 has shipped and it's important to me to think I'm keeping up! There is NO CHANCE the mailman will get it here today, so as of this writing I'm still ahead.

Block 4, to me, is very peculiar looking, and that's not a bad thing-- it just looks like it wants to be Santa hats or something. 

These are big 18" blocks and you only need one of each, so one a month has been easy to keep up with. Unfortunately, my big table is covered with too many things right now!

So after that gets together, I have a couple of stockings to make-- last year, the girls in my family got stockings, and this year it is the guys' turn. As I finish them, I'll be able to post pictures of them, since the men in my family don't realize they are featured weekly in a blog with a worldwide audience.

Here is the classic family picture of the Duffys loading up their horse and sleigh with the yuletide tree... I had the foresight to marry a boy scout who can tie a tree up on a car roof in no time... it was freezing! And that is my dear daughter, who is weathering out the Covid crisis back at home, and who is always happily ready to pose for a picture. 

She has brought so much joy back to this house in spite of the circumstances, single handedly getting us Christmas ready, since you folks kept me very busy with December's  Daily Deals...

a smashing hit this year!

When doing the sales in the past, it has mostly been about finding out which sets are the favorites in planning for next year... well, the support for absolutely everything, every day-- Christmas, cross stitch, birds, flowers, mug rugs-- was truly heartwarming.

Thank you all for you support...

Some of you came back day after day,
as if you single-handedly wanted to keep us in
business for another year!

For that, I truly wish for you a long life--
it's a fact--some of you will need it to be able to stitch out all that you downloaded.

Thank you all so very much.



Thursday, December 3, 2020

I want a octopus for Christmas! Only an octopus will do...

Here is the last piece of Thanksgiving! Yes-- after the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, the SOUP is really my favorite part. If you add in a can of diced tomatoes, you will get a beautiful broth like a rose wine. 

I warned you last time, that as an artist, NOT a cook, I can make things LOOK good-- this really was.

We ended up having a wonderful Thanksgiving while staying under the number of approved guests-- two grand-dogs and two kitties also showed up (notice there is no limit on furry friends). This made for a happy, little chaos that has been missing from our holidays for a few years since the kids grew up. I can tell I had a good time, because I'm having a bit of post-Thanksgiving depression!

On Black Friday, we drove up to Plymouth. Yes, although I'm from California, I am currently stranded on the East Coast. For those of you who were not paying attention in grammar school-- the pilgrims landed here in 1620-- yes, it was the 400th anniversary! There were so many plans this year for the parade, events, and there was even a rumor Prince William, Kate, and even Obama were going to make a visit-- all canceled! Imagine the disappointment-- this was all being planned for quite a few years by a special commission.

But life continues... here I am with my smarter, younger sister in Plymouth Harbor-- you can see the Mayflower in the background-- we were clever enough and had long enough arms to get this selfie with it in the background.

I have that happy, tired look-- don't you think?! 

Speaking of long arms, 
we then took these silly pictures of me as an octopus...

and then here I am as a lobster...

And all of this did NOT remind me at the time that I should have been home working on Stitches of the Sea! Yes, I am getting really behind on this, and since there are other things I wanted to work on for Christmas, so we're going to have to let this series go to be finished early next year.

I mentioned that I lost myself on the arms...

You may not know the pilgrims landed in 1620, but we all know an octopus has eight arms. I could probably "hide" some of the arms in back of the head, but that's just not the way we do things around here! So I've had a couple of emails looking for November's design-- just be patient-- we will wrap up this entire series as early next year as possible. And we still may have our octopus for Christmas... it would help if I had more than two arms!

So this is what I decided was most important this month... doing a free Christmas stitch-a-long. We need it. This one is a fairy tale theme-- yes, I am still hoping that they year still ends happily ever after-- I am simple-minded like that.
The charm size is 2-1/2" and is free the first week it is out...

The upgrade is 5" and is $1.49. I am promising at least four of these-- they are posting randomly, not so much weekly, so sign up for our emails if you don't want to miss any. And tell your friends. There will be at least four, but I'm hoping for twelve as in past years. Just trying to get my sewjo going-- it's been a little lacking lately.

The fabric I'm using for both is from Brenda Riddle's Dover Collection-- my current fabric obsession.

Is anyone out there looking for this?

I mean, I know EVERYONE is looking for this, but it's actually our yearly motif... the mug rug and journal versions will debut today or tomorrow... not a minute too soon to put 2020 behind us!

As I was revising the instructions, I saw that at the end of them,
a year ago, I wrote,

"Have a wonderful 2020!"

and even I am not simple-minded enough to believe you did.

But I do believe in the human spirit and so we will pick ourselves up and try again... that is the only thing to do.