The Spirit of Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I needed to start a new piece.  I had the urge to stitch something with a Christmas theme.  After some deliberation and a little help from the FlossTube community, I decided to start The Spirit of Christmas, which is a design by Lavender and Lace.  It is a picture of Santa surrounded by a wreath that is wrapped in a red ribbon.  This is what he looks like so far:

This has been a joy to stitch.  I love the rich reds of the ribbon and Santa’s suit.  The greens are a perfect complement to all of the red.

I am stitching this on 32 count raw Belfast linen, which is the fabric called for in the chart.  I was tempted to stitch him on a blue background like Stephanie did.  However, I  decided that I liked the way that the light brown of this fabric went with the reds in Santa’s coat.

I hoped that I would be able to finish him for Christmas.  However, I am coming to the realization that if I continued working on him he would end up being late for Christmas. Instead, I am going to put him away for a little while and work on getting him ready for Christmas in 2018.

Winter Sampler Progress

I have spent the last three weeks working on Winter Sampler.  This is what it looks like now:

It has felt good to spend so much time on this piece.  I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit.  A large portion of the skating scene has appeared.  Also, the picture of the snowman is almost finished.  Finally, the clock with the “Happy New-Year” ribbon is complete.  I am starting to work on the “Winter” arch that covers the skating scene, which makes me feel like I am starting a new section of the design.

As an added bonus, I have hit the upper corner.  That means that the diagonals are starting to shrink.  This is a welcome development because I feel like I have made it over the hump and things are starting to go downhill.  I look forward to working on this piece more.

I have decided to take a little break from it, though.  There is a lot of white in this piece and white is not my favorite color to stitch.  I need to recharge with something else for a time.

And a Forest Grew Finished

This last week I have been working on And a Forest Grew.  I am happy to report that I was able to finish it.  Here is the final result:

I have really enjoyed working on this piece.  I have always enjoyed stitching trees which made this design perfect for me.  Also, stitching each tree gave me a sense of accomplishment which encouraged me to continue stitching.  I think that this design uses every shade of green in the DMC pallette to great effect.  Finally, the little pops of color that are seen in the redbirds and the blossoms on some of the trees add a touch of color that really pops out from a distance.  I am so happy with how it has turned out and I will miss working on it.

For the next month or so I am going to work on Winter Sampler by Sandy Orton.  I have decided that I am going to be a “monthly monogamous” stitcher.  What this means is that I plan on working on one project exclusively and will decide at the beginning of each month whether to continue with the project that I have been working on or whether I will change to a new project.  Winter Sampler seems appropriate for now because it will satisfy my growing itch to work on something Christmas-related.  I am interested to see how much of this project I will be able to stitch over the next month or so.

Life has become a little more interesting for me in the last week or so.  I now have some church-related responsibilities that will make it so that I will be unable to stitch a couple of nights each week.  As a result I am not going to make as much progress with things as I have in the past couple of years.

Autumn Magic Question

I spent most of last week working on Autumn Magic.  I have really enjoyed working on this and this week was no exception.  This in spite of the fact that I am stitching background trees that are really just blobs of orange, yellow, and green.  This is what that page looked like at the end of the week:

However, I have been stymied by a question that came up while I was browsing through the Heaven and Earth website at the end of the week:  What is the difference between a regular chart and a chart with max colors?  Does the result justify the extra work of stitching a chart with increased confetti?

There are now two versions of Autumn Magic: a regular version and a max color version.  The only difference that I can see in the mock-ups between the two versions is that the max color version is lighter.  I like the lighter version because I think that the chart that I am stitching is eager to choose black when the colors get darker.  Logic would indicate that more colors would increase the amount of confetti in the piece and that it should increase the detail as well.  However, I wonder if there is some kind of law of diminishing returns when it comes to the number of colors in the chart.

Has anyone had experience with this?  Have you ever compared the two versions and determined which is the best?

I suspect that in order to find the answer to my question I am going to have to stitch at least a page of the max color version so that I can see the difference.  Based on the results of that experiment I will probably decide whether or not I want to switch versions. However I can’t do this experiment right now and I don’t want to spend time working on this project if there is a possibility that I will be changing to the max color version.  So for now I am putting this project on hold.

The Forest Continues to Grow

I had hoped to be able to finish And a Forest Grew this month.  After all, I was planning on working on it for two weeks.  There were only four pages left to stitch and my pace was about two pages per week.  What could go wrong?

What did go wrong was a business trip to Norway where I was so busy that I only had minimal stitching time.  To add to the difficulty, my scroll bars were too big to fit in a suitcase, which meant that I had to figure out some way to get good fabric tension while I stitched.  I decided to try using a hoop, which did give me good tension.  However, holding the hoop while I stitched slowed down my progress.  At the end of the first week of October I had only stitched about half a page.

When I returned home I was glad to have my scroll bars back.  At the end of the second week of October I was able to finish the rest of the page I had been working on as well as another page.  This is what my forest looks like now:

Those two pages were fun to stitch.  I love how there are so many different colors there–even including some colors that don’t appear anywhere else in the chart.  I am excited to be close to a finish and am tempted to spend another week working on it.  However, I also don’t want to cheat Autumn Magic of the time that it deserves this month.  So I am going to put this away for now and hope for a finish next month.


Latest Autumn Magic Progress

I spent the last couple weeks of September stitching Autumn Magic.  I have really started to enjoy working on this piece.

One of the things that has helped me to like it is that I have started stitching 20-stitch diagonals instead of the 10-stitch diagonals that I have stitched in the past.  This has made it so that it takes longer to stitch a block.  However I think that it also speeds up my stitching a little bit because the minimum number of stitches that I can stitch in one stitting is now 200.  Also, I think that it helps me work through confetti-filled areas more easily because I have a larger area to work on which means that there are potentially more stitches per color in a block.

I do have another milestone to celebrate as I finished another page.  This is what it looked like after that page finish:

I also had time to work on a new page.  I decided to move up to the top of my stitched area and work on the trees there for a little bit, partly because I was tired of stitching the yard.  This is what that page looks like now:

This section of the chart is not very exciting because right now it just seems to be blobs of color.  When I get to the right edge of the page, it looks like I will be stitching the edge of the house.  Hopefully that will help a little bit.

I am looking forward to working on this again in a couple of weeks.

And a Forest Grew Update

I have been working on And a Forest Grew for the past week.  This is what it looked like before I started working on it:

2017-08-14 20.50.06

In spite of appearances, it actually woudn’t take very long to finish this piece.  At this point there are six pages left to stitch and it takes me three to four days to stitch a page.  So that means that it would take me less than a month to finish.  For this reason I have decided to focus on finishing it.

Here is what it looks like after a week of stitching it:

I was able to stitch two pages.  In the process I finished stitching the large tree and the text that is inside of it.  Most of the other trees that I added are just small trees that seem to be used to fill in some of the empty spaces.  I am looking forward to stitching one of the larger trees that shows up to the right of this area.

Finish: Pintail

For the past few days I have been working on Pintail.  This is a design that was in the November 1994 issue of For the Love of Cross Stitch.  It is one of a set of four designs that were taken from still lifes of duck decoys that were painted by Judy Gibson.  Donna Vermillion Giampa adapted the paintings for cross stitch.

This is the second of the four designs that I have stitched.  Last year I stitched the Mallard decoy.  This is what it looks like:

Since I had already stitched a large part of Pintail I had a goal to finish it.  I am happy to report that I have finished it:

Based on the pictures in the magazine, this was my least favorite of the four decoys.  I didn’t really like the colors and the duck seemed a bit boring to me.  However, now that I see it stitched I really like it.  It has been a nice easy and fast stitch.

Pintail was stitched on 28 count light mocha Cashel linen using DMC floss.  I started it on 31 May 2017 and finished it on 5 September 2017.  I worked on it for a total of 18 days.

Autumn Magic Update

August 2017 will go down in history as the month the rotation died and also as the month that I learned to love the one I’m with.  What follows is a description of how that happened.

I recently said that I was having a hard time working on Autumn Magic and that I was going to put it away for a while.  After saying that I found that I was reluctant to actually follow through.  So I decided to start working on it just to get through the block that I wasn’t looking forward to stitching.  Instead of having a hard time stitching that block, I found that I enjoyed working on it.  Since then I have worked on Autumn Magic for fifteen days.

My progress has been remarkable to me.  I was able to finish two pages and stitch a significant portion of a third page.  Here is what it looked like after I completed the second page:

And this is what the latest page that I have worked on looks like:

I have now stitched a total of five and a half pages of Autumn Magic.  I am really starting to love how this piece is looking and I find myself compelled to stitch more so that I can see more of the picture.  I enjoyed working on this so much that my startits disappeared and I didn’t want to stitch anything else.  I have decided that as I stitch this project for an extended period of time that I like it more because I start to see more of the picture develop.   Also, the more that I stitch, the more that I realize that I may possibly finish it some day.

I am seriously tempted to go monogamous and work on Autumn Magic exclusively.  However, I don’t want to abandon all of my other WIPs for the three years that it would take me to complete it.  As a compromise, I have decided that from now on I am going to spend half a month on Autumn Magic.  My purpose in doing that is to give it the time that it deserves so that I might actually finish it someday.  The rest of the month I will work on one of my other WIPs.

Of course, all of that could change again.  However, right now I am looking forward to getting back to Autumn Magic in a couple of weeks.


2016 Wrap Up

It has been a while since I have updated this blog.  I have decided that I need to post monthly updates that correspond to the Floss Tube videos that I am posting on YouTube.  I am going to start with a summary of what I have done stitching-wise in the last year.

2016 has been a good stitching year for me.  I only finished three pieces, but as I look at my rotation, I have realized that I have made great progress and should have set things up for more finishes in 2017.  I am going to take you through my current rotation to show you what I mean.


Autumn Magic

The first piece in my rotation is Autumn Magic.  It is a design based on a painting by Randal Spangler that is charted by Heaven and Earth Designs.  I am stitching this on 25-count Lugana, one-over-one full cross.  My feelings toward this piece have alternated between excitement and discouragement for most of the year.  It is so big that I wonder if I will ever finish it.  First of all, here is a picture of what it looked like at the beginning of the year:


This stitching was done before I started stitching diagonally, so when I picked this up again I decided to start working diagonally instead of in columns.  That worked out great for a while until the diagonals got to be so long that it took forever to stitch one and I wasn’t seeing a lot of progress in seeing the picture develop.  In order to fix that problem I decided to continue stitching diagonally, but concentrating on one page at a time.  That has made working on this piece more enjoyable.  This is what this piece looks like at the end of the year:


I am actually quite happy with my progress, and am looking forward to seeing how much of this I will be able to stitch in the next year.

Verandas of South Battery

The next piece in my rotation is Verandas of South Battery.  It is a design by Graphs by Barbara and Cheryl and will be a picture of six houses on a street in Charleston, South Carolina.  This is currently my oldest WIP and it had been years since I had last worked on it.  I was excited to start working on it after so much time.  Here is what it looked like at the beginning of the year:


I have started parking since I last worked on this.  I was excited to start working on it because I knew that since I was parking that I would be able to stitch a lot more quickly than I had in the past.  This is what it looks like now:


I have finished three of the houses and am close to fini7shing the fourth.  I am pretty sure that this will be one of the pieces that I finish next year.

Winter Sampler

Next is Winter Sampler, which is a design by Sandi Orton of Kooler Design Studio.  It is a sampler of Victorian-style winter-related motifs.  I am stitching this on 28 count tea dyed Monaco.  This is a piece that I started this year.  This is what it currently looks like:


This has turned out to be a really fun piece to stitch.  There is a lot of variety in the areas that I am stitching.  My favorite part of the design is the lower right corner with Santa and the gingerbread man.  I have finally reached the lower corner, which means that the diagonals that I am stitching are not getting any longer.  After I stitch three or four more diagonals, I will reach the upper corner and then the diagonals will start to shrink again.  I am excited to work on this more in 2017, although I am not sure if I will be able to finish it.


Next up is Red, by Mirabilia, which is another new start for 2016.  I am stitching it on 32 count French lace linen, which is the called for fabric.  This is what it looks like now:



This piece looks pretty complicated, but it really isn’t.  There are big blocks of color and almost no confetti.  As a result it stitches up pretty quickly.  I am really happy with how much I have stitched on this piece and am pretty confident I will be able to finish sometime in 2017.

English Garden Sampler

I also worked on English Garden Sampler, by Teresa Wentzler.  I am stitching it on 28 count evenweave.  I am also using Sullivan’s floss instead of DMC, mainly because I just wanted to see what I thought of Sullivans.  I started this a few years ago by stitching only one letter, which I picked out then I picked this up again.  As a result, this is another new start for 2016.  This is what it looks like at the end of the year:


So I have finished the border and am ready to start stitching the rest of the sampler.  The border is pretty repetitive and as a result stitches up pretty quickly.  There are still specialty stitches that need to be added, but I am saving them for the end.  When I work on this I am going to work on the remaining cross stitch, but I am not sure if I am going to work from the top down or from the bottom up.

Corazon Sampler

Next up is another new start for 2016: Corazon Sampler by CloRaMi designs, who is a designer in Belgium.  This is a French-type alphabet sampler.  I am stitching it on 36-count antique white Edinburgh linen using DMC 815.  This is what it looks like so far:



This is quite different from the other pieces that I am working on because it is only stitched in one color.  I find that it is a nice change from my other pieces because I don’t need to worry about changing colors all the time–I can just stitch.  It has been a really fun experience to work on this.

And a Forest Grew

I also started a design called And a Forest Grew by Rosewood Manor.  I am stitching this on 32 count antique white Lugana.  This is what it looks like now:



I really enjoy working on this because each motif is small and each can be counted as a small finish of sorts.  I love all the different colors and actually had no idea that there were so many shades of green in the DMC line.  Each new tree becomes my favorite and I look forward to getting to know more trees as I stitch them.

The Seasons Sampler

Towards the end of the year, I decided that I wanted to try my hand a doing a specialty stitch band sampler.  So I decided to try stitching The Seasons Sampler, which is a stitch-a-long designed by Abi Gurden of Bee’s Needleworks.  It is being release in twelve parts, one a month.  It started in March 2016 and will finish next February.  This is what I have stitched so far:


This has been a fun and interesting piece to stitch.  However, I didn’t like the autumn bands as much as I liked the spring and summer bands.  At this point I think that I am going to wait for all three winter bands to be released before I stitch this again.

Beautiful Sea SAL

Finally, I also decided to start the Beautiful Sea Quaker SAL, which is is designed by Erik Shipley.  I am stitching this on 28 count Brown Sugar Cashel Linen from Under the Sea Fabrics.   I have only stitched the first two parts, but I like the way that it looks so far.  This is what it looks like:



In addition to all of the projects that are in progress I also finished the stitching on three pieces this year.

Twelve Days

My first finish of the year happened on January 3.  It was Twelve Days, which was a free stitch-along designed by Plum Street Samplers.  I stitched most of this piece over Christmas break last year.  It was a really fun piece to stitch, mainly because it was so different from anything that I had ever stitched before.  I stitched it on 28 count lambswool Jobelan using DMC floss.  Here is a picture of the finished piece.


This Christmas I have felt a temptation to stitch each of these pieces individually to make them into ornaments.  I guess that we’ll see what happens.


My next finish was the first of a series that was published in the November 1994 and January 1995 issues of For the Love of Cross Stitch magazine.  It is called Mallard and is a picture of a duck decoy.  I stitched this on the called-for light mocha Cashel linen.  This is what it looks like:


I really like how this turned out.  It was really easy to stitch and only took me twelve days to stitch.  I plan on stitching the other three decoys soon.

Our Family Tree

My final finish of 2016 was Our Family Tree, which is a design by Stoney Creek.  It consists of a vignette of an Oak Tree with two pedigree charts–one for the father and one for the mother.  There is also a place to put the names of the children of the family.  I am not showing the entire completed piece for privacy reasons, but here is a picture of the parts that I can show:


This piece is going to be a gift to my parents for their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  I am excited to frame it and give it to them this summer.

2017 Plans

As of right now, my goal for 2017 is to reduce the number of WIPs that I have.  Because of this I don’t have any plans to start anything right now.  If I do decide to start anything, it will probably be something small that won’t take a long time to stitch.

Also, I have decided that the number of pieces in my rotation needs to be reduced.  I have decided that in addition to working on a variety of pieces, I also need to be able to finish something once in a while just to feel like I am actually accomplishing something.  As a result, I am going to change my rotation so that I am only working on about four pieces.  As I finish pieces I am going to add in my remaining WIPs.  I have also decided that I am going to work on the pieces that I am closest to finishing first.  So this is what my rotation is going to look like:

  1. Autumn Magic
  2. And a Forest Grew
  3. Verandas of South Battery
  4. Corazon Sampler

Of course, my attitude towards all of this might change, but as of right now these are my plans.  I am looking forward to having a productive 2017.