30 December 2005
stash storage
A few people have asked about the chest/bureau (I really am unsure what the correct term is) that Niek gave me for Christmas, so here it is. For Ikea shoppers, this is from the Malm series. The lovely little basket there is a handmade Maine original given to me by Mary, my Dad's wonderful girlfriend. I'm going to fill it with "smalls" that I make this year (or so I hope!).

Obviously the contents are what's interesting. Poor Niek thought this would hold all my stash and leave room to grow. Well . . . Not quite. But there is finally room for all my notions (needles, buttons, beads, blending filiment, metallics, etc.) and fibers to be organized in a very orderly fashion in the top two drawers (there are also 4 DMC bobbin storage boxes not shown here) and the bottom drawer holds my leaflets, kits, and and 2 important WIPs. My freebies and working copies are still stored in large binders over by the TV. I keep my fabrics upstairs in the old baby bureau. And there's a bag of hoops, but that's just silliness because I only like one of my hoops and my Q-Snap. (Anyone out there need hoops?)

Tonight I hope to finish my little charity square because tomorrow will be taken up with New Year's Eve preparations. And hopefully we'll get the nursery reorganized. In addition to the bureau, we got a bookcase for the nursery and plan to move Nicky's crib out and a bed in. It's remarkably difficult to do anything like that with three kids milling around, though!

I hope that everyone enjoys a fun, safe, and happy New Year's Eve!
29 December 2005
wishing you a warm welcome!
Well, here is the long-time-in-coming CEC project. I finally got it finished this afternoon just before dinner and hung it in the window by our front door so Niek would see it when he came home from work. Naturally, he came in through the back door! (I actually made him go back out and re-enter from the front so he'd see it!) I want to thank Maria for gifting me with this one - she knew it was perfect for us. Each of us picked his/her favorite colors, so each of the mittens "belongs" to one of us.

Finishing is not my strong point, but I wanted to try a quilting-type finish on this piece. I had a piece of red linen in just the right color, so I ironed down all the folds for seams (after measuring pretty carefully, for me) and started hand-stitching the top and sides down using DMC 321 (which was nearly a perfect match). When I had only the bottom left, I slipped in a piece of quilt batting and then stitched the bottom shut. It looks like of like a really flat pillow, but I'm happy with it. I used two Mill Hill (or are the JABC?) buttons and two regular buttons to decorate the corners. I've hung it using a piece of coat hanger wire slipped through the top to keep it from sagging in the middle, but I really do need to get a rod (which was the intention when I finished it).

Thank you to everyone who has left such heart warming comments over the holidays. I love how cozy the world has become since I ventured online and met all you great people! You've brought a lot of joy to my life and to my stitching!
28 December 2005
what did I find under my tree?
I've had a lot of fun reading what sort of stitchery goodies everyone has received and I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon by showing mine off, too. :-)

Before Christmas even started, I received two beautiful handmade ornaments from fellow bloggers and friends: Dianne sent me the PS partridge (knowing my love for Prairie Schooler and for birds) and Jenna sent me the adorable sheep that I think we'll hang in our (sheep & bird themed) nursery after the holidays. Thank you!

Then my dear friend Sara (who you probably all know by now not only knitted our stockings but also taught me to cross stitch) sent me a whopping 51 skeins of DMC floss in colors I didn't already have. Wow! (I'm looking at them now!) She also sent four gorgeous Silk N' Colors skeins. The willow green became an instant favorite. And she sent two different sizes of magnetic place keepers for patterns - after watching me try to balance the working copy on my lap, memorize my place, stitch, and frequently jump up after the kids, she knew how useful these would be!!

My Mom sent us the money we needed to buy our new Sony DVD recorder, which we have had SO MUCH FUN with. Strictly speaking, this is not a stash item, but it is something to do with the kids (my "other theme" in this blog).

And my wonderful, understanding and supportive husband provided storage solutions - a new bobbin box to store DMC fibers, and a new chest of drawers! Yes! We now have a lovely three-drawer chest downstairs which holds my pattern leaflets, fibers, buttons & beads, and kits. Everything is neat and I can finally find what I'm looking for when I want it! No more running up and down to the attic or being unable to find the Christmas buttons I needed. He actually thought it would hold EVERYTHING so it was a bit embarassing to show him that it doesn't (as in 'doesn't even come close'!).

A few people have asked what I meant about this being my first year that I've really done cross stitching. Although Sara taught me the basics a little over 10 years ago, I only stitched very sporadically until shortly before Christmas last year. Suddenly I had the urge to make a few Christmas gifts - wall hangings for my Mom and Aunt Hattie, and a pillow for Sara. Then I urged Max's school to hold a crafts fair to raise money for the school improvements, so of course I had to contribute items for that. And by the time that was done, I was hooked! I'd discovered overdyed and hand-dyeds, I'd tried beads and buttons, I'd learned the difference between over one and over two. I'm still learning a lot about finishing, which I consider my weakest point. There are things I can't do - like French knots - and others that I don't do well yet - like beading. Every project has been a learning experience as well as a source of great enjoyment. When I finally ventured online around March of this year, it was like a whole new world opened up to me. Friends like Annemarie have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging. Lots of friends have opened my eyes to the many wonderful designers out there. And many are still introducing me to new fibers and techniques. In 2006, I'm really looking forward to tackling larger projects and to learning a lot more about finishing. Most of all, I am really looking forward to getting to know my "new" friends a lot better and meeting yet more wonderful people online.
27 December 2005
2005 finishes, 2006 good intentions
I've noticed that the year-end lists are popping up all over the place so I made my list of finishes for this year. I think it's pretty accurate, though I may have overlooked small projects that I forgot to photography. I keep a pretty complete record over at Cyberstitchers with details about the project.

Anyway, this year was my first year of stitching on a near-daily basis. Formerly, I would do an occassional project as the spirit moved me, but it wasn't unusual for me to go an entire year without picking up a single project. During that time, however, I did manage to complete some things that I still really like, particularly this wedding piece I made for Sara.

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Here are the projects that I completed in 2005 (no carry-overs from previous years). Those followed by a G were given away as gifts, those followed by a C were given to charities.
1. Ode to a Fiddlehead, Fiddlestitch Cottage Designs G
2. Little Tugger, Eric Christian, day time and nighttime views G
(this is actually two different projects)
3. Urn with Four Flowers, Prairie Schooler G
4. Spring, Summer, and Autumn ranges of Anne Les Petities Croix freebie G
5. Guardians of Winter angel, Blue Whale Designs C
6. Freehand, primitive stitching of various freebies from Elizabeth’s Designs
7. Noah’s Ark, Jane Greenoff C
8. Five Birds, freebie from Barrick Designs
9. Four Fat Friends, freebie from The Drawn Thread
10. Wahoo combined with Rise & Shine, Bent Creek G
11. Bluebird Zippie, Bent Creek combined with My Garden Wild, For My Boys C
12. Night Light, Bent Creek G
13. Rain, freebie from DMC G
14. Futurecast, freebie from Teresa Wentzler G
15. Superman logo, freebie from Tricoland G
16. Better a Small Fish, Prairie Schooler G
17. Delivering Posies, Homespun Elegance G
18. Peacock Repose, The Workbasket
19. Train of Dreams, freebie from Point de Croix G
20. Forest Song, my design
21. Stick it Here, Prairie Schooler G
22. Swirly Sheep, freebie from Rainbow Gallery C
23. Cat with Fish, Prairie Schooler C
24. Poodle, freebie from Dolly Mamas G
25. C – Cats, Carriage House Samplings C
26. The Zandy Cat Teapot, Mosey N Me C
27. Black Cat, Bent Creek C
28. Sheep pull toy, Prairie Schooler G
29. Sweet Dreams, La D Da G
30. Halloween Holiday, Birds of a Feather G
31. Bee Scissor Fob, Shepherd’s Bush G
32. Hearts & Flowers, Carriage House Samplings
33. Christmas ornaments from Prairie Schooler freebies C
34. Snowman’s Holiday, Lizzie Kate G
35. Octopus, Carriage House Samplings G
36. The Stitchers Set, freebie from Laura Lattuada G
37. For the Birds, Drawn Thread
38. Bookmarks from freebie designs G/C
39. Reindeer Sampler, Heart in Hand G
40. Seek, Praiseworthy Stitches G
41. Sailing boat, freebie from Stitch Alley G
42. *Warm Welcome, Cross Eyed Cricket
43. *Summer, freebie from Canerbury Designs C

I currently have the following WIPs/UFOs, in order of importance:
A Primitive Stocking, CHS
Garden sampler freebie from Anne Les Petities Croix
Rowen’s birth sampler, various designers
Good Things, BoaF
Garden Sampler, PS
Counting Magpies, BoaF
Celtic knot bookmark, Dragonfly Designs

For 2006, I want to do about 10 times more than I actually can, so I've broken it down by quarters and put a list in my sidebar. There's room in there for the projects that come up at the last minute, but at least the major projects are listed.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:27 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
26 December 2005
the stockings were hung

One of our favorite Christmas traditions (or one of mine anyway) is the ritual around the stockings. Growing up, my little brother had "real elf pants" that my Daddy gave him when we became a family. They were the coolest thing - it wasn't at all hard to imagine a real, live elf wearing them. I was always a tad jealous because of course pants have two legs, which meant Rich would get more in his stocking than I would in mine. Or so I reasoned in my child's mind. Petty jealousy aside, the thrill of the stockings on Christmas morning was definately a high point of the whole celebration for me. We'd usually get an orange, or if we were really lucky we'd get a mandarin or a tangerine. And Santa always knew the secret wish of my heart.

Our kids are especially gifted because their stockings are handmade with lots of love knitted in by my dear friend Sara (an honorary Grandma for the kids). They are works of art as well as gifts of love. I've included some pictures of them here, as well as a few pictures of our kids happily unpacking their stockings. It seems that over the years, Santa has not lost his knack. Phew!
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24 December 2005
a day of joy
I know I said I wouldn't be posting tonight, but here I am anyway. Couldn't resist sharing a few photos of our happy celebration today. We had a big late lunch and then got down to business. Rowen was especially enamored of her dolls, but also insisted on wearing everyone's new clothes at the same time. Just looking at her was making me sweat. Max wore a few of his own new clothes and stayed in a tie till bedtime. Nicky only had eyes for his new toolbox and what mischief he could get up to with it. Niek and I had so much fun watching the kids' antics that I wish I could bottle up those good feelings for rainy days. Niek also had great fun with our new DVD recorder, recording the kids' joy and the general mayhem. I'm looking forward to the playback later. Even the critters got gifts - Spin got a few new toys and some kitty candy and Gilbert got a new toy for his bird cage. I'll leave you with a few photos and with very warm wishes for your own joyous celebrations.

posted by mainely stitching at 10:24 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
23 December 2005
the best plans
Hi everyone! I'd planned to update my blog tonight with the CEC mitten project I've been working on but things have come up and I've only gotten 4 of the 5 mittens stitched. So you'll have to wait for pictures - sorry!

We have been very busy today with work and kids, and last-minute Christmas stuff. We will celebrate tomorrow because Max will not be with us on the 25th. That meant making sure we have enough to fill the stockings, wrapping all the stocking stuffers (and I thought I was done with wrapping for this year!), and placing ALL the gifts under the tree (we'd only put about 1/4 of the gifts out to prevent the kids from going nuts). Naturally we couldn't find the stockings - panic! - but Niek's systematic search turned them up. All our stockings are hand-knitted by Sara and they are truly a wonder. I'll post pictures of them later.

I will probably post on Christmas Day, since we won't actually be doing much that day. If I don't "see" you before that, I wish you a wonderful and joyous celebration. I hope you're surrounded by friends and family and love.
21 December 2005
good things come in small packages
Meet my new baby:

Niek and I went shopping for this little darling on December 5th. That was a very foolish thing to do, because Dec. 5th is an informal holiday here, the day the kids get their gifts from Sinterklaas. It is a bad day to shop or to try to get out of a large, busy city on a tight schedule! And no stores had this model in stock. Anyway, since then, it seems like one thing and another has come up and we have not been able to get our new video recorder. Though simply refering to this as a 'video recorder' should get my knuckles rapped. This is so much more! We are happily pouring through the instructions manuals now. There's one in Dutch and one in English, so we can read through them together. The small joys of matrimonial bliss. :-)

Before you ask where we bought the lottery ticket that made this luxury purchase possible, I will tell you that this has been made possible by my mom. Without her, we would still be dreaming about making movies of our kids. Thanks, Momsie!

(Niek is walking around filming our empty living room - the kids have gone to bed - and talking out loud about what he's doing. Those of us who've had the pleasure of knowing Niek, know how much he does love to keep up a running commentary. LOL!)
good things come in small packages
My clock has finally passed midnight and the Winter Solstice has now begun. Short on daylight, I hope the day will be long on happiness. For those who observe the solstice, I wish you a time of peace and of joyous new beginnings.

“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
Oliver Herford (1863 - 1935)

Today's artwork was lifted here.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:02 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
20 December 2005
I'm not much a one for doing happy dances, but I have to admit that I am just so darn glad to have Max's pirate set done. He'll love it, but for some reason, it was worse than pulling teeth to get these done. The sailing ship is a freebie from Stitch Alley (with my modifications) stitched on 36 ct Vintage Periwinkle from Lakeside Linens (this color is much lovelier IRL) using limited editions of Stranded by the Sea fibers. The skull & crossbones is my own design on 18 ct black Davosa (I had fogotten how annoying the ravel-factor is with evenweaves!). The other side of hte bag says Pirate's Purse. I finished the Ship's Log by padding the front cover of a blank, hard-covered notebook, then used book binding glue to affix the linen. To make it look more nautical, I made a cording from some wooly-tweedy yarn (the ivory piece matches the drawstring for the bag). Not perfect, but hopefully it'll come close enough in the eyes of a 7 year old boy.

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The other reason for my great mood is the beautiful ornament we received from Jenna! Jenna, I have to ask how you did your satin stitches so perfectly - no matter how I try, mine don't even come close. We all love it - so much so that I think I will hang it in the nursery after we take the tree down so we can enjoy it all year! This was my favorite of all Jenna's very beautiful ornanments and I am really honored to have it. Thanks, Jenna!!

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Next year, I really hope I'm proficient enough in ornament-finishing to share with all my wonderful new stitching friends. You guys are the greatest!

This afternoon and evening we have Max's school celebration for Christmas - the kids have a dinner at school, and stories are read and lots of joy is to be found. This is the first year that Niek and I haven't been right in the thick of it, but the younger two have kept us so busy this year that we've not been able to volunteer nearly as much time this year. The school has also become quite rigid with a policy of no younger siblings (who aren't of school age) being allowed in the classrooms. For those of us without built-in-babysitters, it means we can't really do much. Do other schools have this policy?

I hope all your Christmas preparations are going smoothly and that you are all enjoying the spirit of the season.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:29 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
18 December 2005
It's been a busy weekend! My apologies to everyone whose blog I've missed visiting and to everyone whose email I haven't yet answered. After this afternoon's bithday party, everyone (but me) came down feeling unwell. Not sure if it was from the party or just the fact that everyone was worn out. They are all in bed now, and I will try to catch up a bit on everything. I would also like to get a few more stitches in on a CEC mitten design that is keeping me feeling cheery with the bright colors.

I hope everyone else is having a healthy, happy weekend - not too troubled by weather extremes or by pre-Christmas rushing.
17 December 2005
oh the weather outside is frightful
We woke to hail and wind, wind and hail. There are hailstones piled up deep enough to look like snow. Naturally, we all had errands that had to be done this morning. Niek took the car and two kids, and I took Nicky on the back of my bike. Brrr! It's been awhile since I've biked in this sort of weather, but Nicky was very good about holding still in his childseat on the back of my bike. We didn't get all our errands run, but the most important ones were accomplished (mailing Aunt Hattie and Aunt Cindy's gifts and re-stocking the kids' vitamin supplies). When I asked Nicky if he wanted to go home or head into town to pick up the books, he quickly said, "HOME!" Meanwhile, Niek appears to have bought out the local Lidl supermarket. Since our neighborhood grocery store burned down, we've been trying to find a good replacement for it. There is none.

Tonight we have friends coming to visit, which will be a treat. And tomorrow we are going to a birthday party for Taras, the 2-year son of a stitching friend. Somewhere in between I hope to do one of the adorable CEC family mitten patterns that Maria sent me. Thanks, Maria! I finished the stitching for all of Max's pirate stuff, and now just have to do the finishing. Hooray!

I hope that wherever you are, it's delightful!
15 December 2005
my daughter's "first"

Haircut, that is.

To me, the first haircut is truly the end of babyhood ... and accordingly, I have delayed it as much as possible with all three of my children. But the other night during dinner, Rowen investigated her candle a little too closely and I had to cut a large swatch out of her hair where it singed. Today, I got out my embroidery scissors, the sharpest in the house, and began snipping. It's shorter than I wanted it, but kids will move at the worst possible moment. There are now three envelopes of baby hair from first cuts: Max's black-brown baby hair, Nicky's glorious auburn curls, and Rowen's white-blonde locks. I find it odd, these seemingly constant reminders that my children are no longer babies. I'm one of those odd women who looks at a newborn and would gladly go through it all again. It's pretty ironic, because I never even wanted children until my mid/late 20's. I was very happy with my cat, Dan, my iguana(s), my ferret Moira, and my friends. Those were great times, but I honestly cannot imagine my life now without kids.

Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments! I'll keep doing my thing and hoping that no one takes it the wrong way. I'm a seriously flawed human creature, but I keep trying to improve. I've learned so much from the friends and strangers I've met and encountered here in cyberspace. Thank you.
14 December 2005
With the 2005 commitments winding down, I find myself daydreaming more often about the cross stitch projects I would really like to do next year. Naturally, there's much (much!) more that I want to do than is actually possible. (Is it time to try a rotation schedule?) Since I'm a list-making kind of person (if not a list-following kind!), I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts before I take the kids to the zoo this afternoon.

For myself:
(these are only the must-have projects - there are many more that I want to do)
CHS alphabet (over one?)
CHS Houses of Hawk Run Hollow (over one?)
Neighborhood RR with Dianne, Su, Annemarie, Novia, Rachael, and Veronica

For the kids:
A too-cool counting-sampler (French freebie download)
What Are You Looking At (for Rowen)
Sea Dragon (one-off design for Max)
more dragons for Max?
various sheep freebies for the nursery
soft toys
Pear doll (by Sisters and Best Friends for Rowen)

For gifts:
a cross stitch quilt kind of thing for Somebody Special
ornaments for everyone next Christmas! (and maybe some for us, too)
an anniversary gift for my PIL, maybe
other birthday and Christmas gifts that come up through the year

For exchanges:
3 or 4 MA exchanges

For charity:
more ornaments for more charities (but especially for Healthy Families because Ms. Toch, the coordinator is so incredibly nice)
six quilt squares or more, various charities
an idea I've been thinking about that would bypass weird nursing home staff (ha ha) that I'm affectionately dubbing 'Random Acts of Kindness' but I need to think on it some more

On a side note:
It's recently come to my attention that some people think that charity stitching is a way of bragging, a waste of time, etc. At first I didn't understand this point of view, and when I did, it hurt my feelings and made me sad. I've had some low points in my life that have been made much lighter thanks to the gentle attentions of friends & family - and a gift from someone's heart & hands is always treasured. The world has enough ugliness in it - it seems to me that any tiny bit of beauty we can bring in has to be good. Doesn't it?
posted by mainely stitching at 11:04 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
13 December 2005
secret santa surprise
The postman brought my secret Santa exchange today, and because I am a very naughty girl (my Dad warned me that Santa would put coal in my stocking if I didn't watch out!) I went right ahead and opened it! I'm glad I did, too, because now I can enjoy all the pleasures of looking at my new stash and dreaming about what projects I will use them in!

Julie sent me needles in my favorite size, a star de-tailor (which I've been so curious about and now can try!), candies (for the kids), GAST fibers in Raspberry Parfait and Daffodil (two colors I don't have!), Wildflowers in Amethyst (which I am running out of), and a mini-twist of Eterna SIlk in the most amazing color called "glass beach". She also enclosed a magnet with a picture of where she lives - why didn't I think of doing that with the package I sent out?! - and a cheery card that happens to have 3 kids playing in the snow (though I don't think she knows I have three kids). Thanks Julie!!

I knew a Julie back when I lived in Westbrook, Maine but she got married and I lost touch with her. I suppose it would be a huge coincidence if these Julies were one & the same, but the world is a small place and coincidences do occur.

I also received a visit from a stitching buddy who recently moved to Gouda. Her son and my two beasties had a nice time playing while the mommies talked shop. LOL. She really loved Dianne's ornament. And this morning I made out all the rest of the Christmas cards. (Barb gives herself a little pat on the back.) This afternoon I hope to dash over to the postoffice to get a few sheets of the special December stamps to mail them. And tonight I may even wrap the kids' gifts! Look out world, I'm feeling organized today!

The world should also be on the lookout for the newest Baby Driver (follow the link to hear the song), whose picture was snapped when she blew through a red light.

posted by mainely stitching at 12:25 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
12 December 2005
in under the deadline ... barely
Max's pirate ship was my Monday check-in goal for the Friends Gather BB, and I've just squeaked in under the deadline. Phew! This is a freebie from Stitch Alley, done on a beautiful piece of Vintage Periwinkle from Lakeside Linens using fibers from Stranded by the Sea. I'll use it to cover a book - Max's own Ship's Log, aka a boy's diary. Next project, a Jolly Roger to make a pirate's purse.

posted by mainely stitching at 11:37 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
silent night - but certainly not here!
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When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot. Although I was born in Arizona, I grew up in New England. For a few years we lived in the foothills of the White Mountans, in New Hampshire, where I learned to ski, swear, and play trombone. We lived in a small town that in my memories is very picturesque and idyllic. Exactly how people imagine a small New England town to be. (Memory always wears rose colored glasses, doesn't she?) In this small town, people actually gathered in the small park in the center of town to sing Chrismtas carols - expanding out from the center of town to the streets outside of the center. Every year I wanted to join in, and finally my parents relented and I was allowed to join the carolers. What joy! To this day, approximately (gulp) 25 years later, this is one of my finest Christmas memories. I would love to go caroling again and I hope that my life unfolds in such a way that this wish can come true.

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Our little mixed-nationality family is still finding our traditions. We blend the Dutch and American, the Christian and the natural, and we make it up when we aren't sure what else to do. I always buy a live tree with my kids, because when I was a little squirt, my Daddy took me out in the woods and chopped down a tree with me (this is also a favorite Christmas memory!). When we decorate the tree, we have special ornaments, like the one my Mom bought with Max one year, that bring our loved ones into our home. Our stockings were all knitted by my dear friend Sara, who we all love like family. We open our gifts on Christmas Eve, partly because this is how my grandparents did it (and in this small way, I keep them alive and well in my memories). We cook a big dinner on Christmas Day because this is how my Mom always did it when we were growing up, and in the preparing of our food, I feel close to her even though she's far away. When the kids squabble, I think of how my parents made it a golden rule that no one fought or said unkind things on Christmas day, and share this wise gift with my kids. There are lots of other ways we keep our loved ones close and attempt to live our beliefs. In short, we're forging a new set of traditions, one year at a time.

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thanks! wow!
I came home from work today in what I can only honestly call a rotten mood. To my surprise, there was a pile of mail at the door - odd because we almost never receive mail on Monday. Better yet, it wasn't bills! Best of all, it was GREAT STUFF!

From Dianne, with whom I'm doing a neighborhood RR in 2006, I received the most adorable PS ornament. This is a new finishing technique for me, so not only will I enjoy this gift but I'll learn from it too! It has place of honor on our Christmas tree, which we only set up last evening. Thank you, Dianne! What a sweet gift, and you've been so busy with your mom and everything! Thanks!

I also received Carole's trade: a beautiful piece of Silkweaver linen in a wonderful mix of blues and greens. She also included 10 skeins of DMC for HoHRH, which I'll be starting soon! Thanks Carole! I love it!

And I got my Silkweaver FOTM today, too, with two very different colors of fabric than I would ordinarily buy, but I like them. The pinkish one is Coral Reef and the other is Peaceful Waters.

Next post: pictures of the kids decorating our tree!
11 December 2005
national geographic

Yesterday I re-filled the apple tree out front with hanging treats for our feathered friends and we all enjoyed the antics of the chickadees, larks, magpies, and other unnamed species who came to visit. This morning after breakfast the tree was once again filled with happy little birds. And then, out of nowhere, a small falcon appeared, stunned a lark, and in our very own garden made an end of the bird and carried it off. It happened very quickly, but my camera was right there so I tried to snap a couple of pictures. The birds were thrashing around, so the pictures aren't very clear - my apologies. Have you ever heard of anything like this happening? Our tree has been empty since the attack. I hope the (non predatory) birds will come back soon.
posted by mainely stitching at 12:34 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
10 December 2005
happy holiday surprises

We woke to a heavy, prickly frost this morning. I was the first out of bed and out of the house and had the pleasure of biking to my yoga class in a heavy fog. It was like biking through a cloud, the mist was so thick. When I was a kid and used to fly (in an airplane :-)) I always wanted to live in the clouds. This morning I got to, temporarily. The drawback was the cold - my poor old fingers throbbed from it! When I got out of class, my bike was covered in a heavy hoarfrost - as if it had sprouted a prickly white pelt. Even the bike seat was covered. You can imagine the discomfort of jumping up onto that!

Later in the day, Niek took our Nikon CoolPix to the local dealer to be sent out for repairs. Niek explained that it had worked poorly for months and finally just gave up the ghost. The salesclerk snapped a trial picture and - can you believe it? - the camera worked fine! Niek took another one, just to make sure, and then put it back in his pocket and came home. We're puzzled, but pleased. Looks like we will be able to take Christmas pictures after all. And just to get in the mood, I asked Nicky and Rowen if they'd like to put on their Santa hats for a couple of pictures. Boy, did they! They love those hats!! So here are our youngest kids, hamming it up and having fun.

I hope this finds you all enjoying a wonderful weekend! As for me, I am trying to get as much of Max's pirate stitching done as possible, while he is away for the weekend - cross your fingers for me!
08 December 2005
how to make a mailart envelope
So many people have asked questions about the lovely envelope I received from Margaret that I thought it might be useful to write about how to make and mail your own mailart.

The easiest questions are about the actual mailing. There are no restrictions regarding color or size (that I am aware of), though you do have to follow the usual conventions for where you put the addresses, leave room for the postage, etc. You do not have to put your envelope in any sort of protective covering (most MA recipients prefer that the envelope arrive in an 'around the world' state of appearance). You can, of course, slip your MA into a protective covering or a manilla envelope if you want. You do need to go into your post office to have the envelope weighed for the correct postage. Many people send their MA using registered or insured mail, though I haven't (I'm too cheap!). You do need to be careful that you use a good closure system. The prettiest MAs make lovely use of buttons with cording and decorative clasps, but my post office won't accept these as being safe and stick tape all over the poor thing. So I loosely stitch the flap of the envelope closed in a contrasting color that the recipient can easily see and snip through. Margaret did this, too, but I opened hers before I took pictures.


To make your own MA, I thought I'd try a photo-tutorial. I happen to have a half-ready envelope stitched for Max, so this is a good excuse to finish it off.

1. First, you need a piece of linen or aida. For a fairly small envelope, 11 inches long by 6 inches wide will allow you the margins for finishing. The envelope I am completing here is stitched on Softana measuring 14 inches long by 9.5 inches wide. (If you use metric, these measurements are 25 x 15 cm and 34 x 23 cm.)

2. Tri-fold your piece of fabric to determine where you'll stitch the address, the main design, closure, etc. This envelope back allows me room to stitch my address on the top flap and the recipient's address below the flap. I will stitch my big design on the other side. I find it very helpful to run pieces of thread along what will become the edges - where the top flap folds over, where the bottom flap folds under, and what the design area is. Remember to leave room for the seams when you sew it all up! Image hosted by Photobucket.com

3. Once your design are is established, find a design that fits it. Or you could be really organized and first have your design and then cut your fabric. That's just too orderly for me. LOL!

4. Stitch your design. Unfolded, your piece of fabric now looks something like this. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

5. Being careful to keep in mind what's the top, stitch your addresses. It is better to use a boring but clear alphabet than a fancy script that is going to give your mail carrier fits. Sketch the address out on graph paper before you start to make sure it is nicely centered. (I never take the time for this, but always wish I had.)It is also good to use a floss that contrasts boldly with your fabric, even if this isn't the prettiest choice of colors. This little critter is going to cause enough confusion as it makes its way through the mail system without being illegible.
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6. Pin your envelope to the lining fabric, right sides (the sides with the decoration) together and cut the lining fabric. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

7. You can hand sew the lining and envelope together, but I use my antique machine - when it feels like cooperating! Don't forget to leave an opening through which you'll turn everything inside out (someone who we won't name has done this). I usually stitch with about 1/4 inch seam allowance. When you're finished stitching and the envelope has the decorative sides showing, iron everything again. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

8. Stitch the opening closed. I don't know how to stitch invisibly, but for this part, I do try. Note that some methods of closure will require you to leave this opening unstitched until the end. For instance, a loop of cording (to go over a button) would need to be stitched into the opening. See step 10.

9. Now tri-fold your fabric, with the lining material in. Stitch along the sides that make up the envelope, leave the flap free.(I stitch from the bottom of the fold up to where the flap.) Stitch the sides however you want - whip stitched, with beads, whatever strikes your fancy. My camera has now died completely so I'll try to scan the last steps. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

10. After the sides are stitched up, you now have your envelope! It may look a bit like a pouch with a flap. The bigger envelopes are especially saggy and you might try a mid-weight fusible interfacing to firm it up a bit. You can now attach your closure of choice. Stitch a snap inside, use Velcro (though one I recieved with stick-on Velcro did not work well, the sticky part of the Velcro didn't stay affixed to the fabric.), stitch a button on and a loop of cording, whatever seems fun to you. Some closures require you to leave that inside-out opening unstitched until after your closure is attached (like a loop of cording), so you may need to skip step 8 until now. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
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11. To keep your envelope's form, it helps to insert a sturdy card or postcard. It's also nice for the recipient to have some personal note with the MA. If you are enclosing gifts (floss, etc.) I strongly suggest stitching the flap down with some sort of loose basting/whip stitch that the recpient can cut free.

Sorry about the quality/lack of photos, but it is quite a simple process if you give yourself a bit of time with the finishing to avoid silly mistakes (like I made on my first MA. LOL!!)
posted by mainely stitching at 10:39 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
07 December 2005
was it worth it?
You bet it was!

I stayed up too late. I intended to get a lot done on Max's pirate ship but I made a miscount (how did I mix up 1.5 stitches with 3 stitches? Where was my brain?) and ambled over to the computer to see what everyone else was doing. In between reading blogs and email, I talked to Gilbert, who was practicing his dive-bombing flying technique, scaring himself silly and making me duck. (Hey, there's a funny pun ...)Anyway, while I was over here goofing off and not finishing the ship, Silkweaver updated their Odds and Ends page. And then updated it again after I fired of an email that the links weren't working! And my perseverence paid off - I got a quarter yard of Hog Wild Blue by R&R Reproductions - I have wanted this color since the first time I saw it! It called to me, "Barbara ... Barbara ... you claim you don't like blue, but that was before you saw me ...." I also scooped a gorgeous piece of Black Forest Lakeside Linen that is perfect for 1807 Sheep by the Goode Huswife. Okay, we are turning a blind eye to the fact that I recently swore I would not buy any more stash. You didn't hear it here. (Oh, not a pun, but a fun homophone!)

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posted by mainely stitching at 11:48 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
inside of MA with gifts

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front of holiday MA

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back of holiday MA

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