#19 When Haberdashery Met Sally

The longer I cross stitch, the more I’m a firm believer in ‘the One’.

By that I mean that one particular cross stitch project you gravitate towards for the majority of your time in the hope need of finishing it. Yes, other WIPs may come and go throughout the course of the year as we attempt to keep our hobby fresh and our minds sane, but these are merely passing flings that we distract ourselves with.

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In 2014, this was my ‘One’ – a cross stitch that Mr Xstitch’s mum, Sally, bought for me last Christmas. Her love of poppies led her to gift me with this particular pattern and a request: that she could have it back this Christmas, framed.

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And this is the final result. You may have read my previous posts #1 and #12, which secretively documented this particular piece’s journey from start to finish.

image200 hours – and two trips to the framer –  later, her wish is my command.

I couldn’t be happier with the result and more importantly, Sally’s delighted, which has made this labour of love more than worth it.

Bring on 2015…

J x

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#18 Gingerbread Christmas Trees

I’d hate for you all to think I’m going rogue (cross stitch blogging will resume after St Nick’s visit).

It’s more that Christmas Eve is – without a doubt – my favourite day of the year.

It’s magical. It’s full of wonder and excitement among children and adults alike, and I love the feeling that lingers in the air.

So I thought I’d celebrate by sharing a short post with you all about my morning’s efforts in the kitchen: gingerbread Christmas trees. This combines lots of my favourite things – baking, crafting, gingerbread and, of course, Christmas all wrapped-up neatly with a festive bow.

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A simple ginger and orange biscuit, decorated with some simple seasonal embellishments and there you have it. A traditional, tasty top-up gift for any friend or family member with a sweet tooth.

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If you’re feeling particularly creative, finish off by making a tower out of the biscuits and wrap in clear cellophane – it looks great and will have people asking ‘did you make these?’ all day long!

Merry Christmas!

J x

 

#17 Homemade Christmas hampers

This year, Mr XStitch and I have made a concerted effort to make Christmas less about spending, and more about memories and sentiment. Not that we don’t do this every year, it’s just that I’ve been inspired to look past the many bubble bath kits and endless aftershave sets on the supermarket shelves and really think about the gift I’m giving and to whom I’m giving it.

Hence a slightly off-kilter post…don’t worry, I’ve still found a way to incorporate my cross stitch!

One of my favourite things about this Christmas this year has been making homemade hampers for our family members. They’re so personable and you can spend as much or as little as you like and guaranteed a great result every time.

It’s also a great way of giving a meaningful gift when you’re not sure what your folks want or need, while treating them to a bit of luxury.

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For a first attempt, I’m really pleased with our efforts.

To make a homemade hamper all you need is:

  • 3 or 4 treats: wine, chocolate, savories, biscuits, chutney, herbal teas or jam
  • Clear cellophane wrapping
  • 1 or 2 rolls of ribbon
  • Shredded ribbon or straw
  • Sticky tape
  • Gift tags
  • Thread and needle
  • 1 Christmas CD (for listening to while wrapping!)

As you can see, putting together the hamper is pretty self-explanatory. I just have a couple of tips that might help the wrapping process (particularly if you’re working alone).

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  • Consider the arrangement when you’re buying the goodies – It’ll look a little strange if you buy treats all the same height as you’ll find it tough to tier the hamper (tallest item at the back, shortest at the front)
  • Always cut more cellophane than you’re going to need – You can always cut-off the excess and it’s easier to arrange the top of the hamper. At £3 a roll, it’s still cheaper than most gift wrap.
  • Set down the items with slightly more cellophane at the back – With the tallest items at the back, this helps when pulling the wrap to the top.
  • Be sure your shredded ribbon or straw doesn’t cover the labels of your treats too much, otherwise the recipient can’t see what you’ve given them.

image…And because this blog is about cross stitch by name, I’ve added a personable touch to the rustic ribbon securing the top of the hampers. A couple of stitches here and there to bring some seasonal shades to the gift.

Voila.

J x

#16 Another day, another card

I seem to have made enough cards to open a small shop recently.

Not that I’m complaining – the idea of making, sending and sharing a homemade cross stitched… anything is a true joy. It’s merely an ambition observation.

This time I’ve taken a break from Christmas card-making to crack on with a Birthday card for a friend of mine. Ironically his birthday falls on Christmas Eve.

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I’ve been very careful to make sure that this is NOT a Birthday-come-Christmas card because I’ve heard him complain many a time that this has always been the way he’s received cards and presents for most of his life. Aside for a little embellishment – which I know he’d never say no to – this is a no-Christmas zone.

I bought this Mouse Loft kit well over a year ago and I’ve been keeping it for someone who really appreciates motor bikes. I find it hard to buy and make keep sakes for the few male figures in my life, so when I see a kit such as this, I hold onto it until I find a worthy recipient.

I just hope he’s not reading this right now, as this has been posted a little premature.

Sorry Stef!

J x

#15 My Everest: A cross stitch tale, part 1

I love a challenge. Speak with any cross stitcher, and I’m sure they’ll tell you the same thing.

At the moment I’m attempting what can only be described as my Everest – an afghan, even weave, Tiny Tatty cross-stitched baby blanket for Mr XStitch’s best friend. Oh, and did I mention I’m on a tight time limit too?

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In theory this project is no more or less challenging than the ones I’ve completed in the past: the designs are simple enough, the characters are enjoyable to watch come to life and I love the colours and skeins I’m working with. BUT… I still have my reservations:

  1. Firstly, you can see the back – this is the first project I’ve completed where you can actually see the back of the canvas and there’s no getting around that. On the one hand, it has made me think really hard about each and every stitch I sew and I’d say it’s as neat as can possibly be, (judge for yourselves) but on the other, I don’t like how exposed the work is – call my crazy, but it’s like I’m baring my sewer’s soul!
  2. Secondly, this is my first experience using even weave fabric and I’m still wondering – despite my lengthy research – whether I can use a hoop to hold the material taut and, should it make a mark that will require ironing out, can I iron it? At present, I’m loosely holding the fabric in a large hoop and hoping for the best. Any advice would be welcome on this.
  3. Finally: tassel-making. The last stage in creating little baby’s blanket is pulling the ends of the material to make tassels. The instructions make perfect sense, and I’m sure it’ll go fine, I’m just a little nervous that I fall at the final hurdle and ruin the piece at the very end.

All the above means I’m afraid I’ve been lacking the enthusiasm I usually have at the start of a project. Christmas projects have been a welcome distraction of late.

But, time’s running out and soon the bun will be cooked and ready to leave the oven and of course, she’ll need her blanket when she arrives in the height of a good ol’ English winter, won’t she?

So, here it is, so far…

Front

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And back

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My thinking behind this step-by-step series is that it will help me conquer my Everest. Hopefully, you’ll all enjoy the views along the way.

J x

#14 On the fourth day of Christmas…

OK, so it may not be four calling birds and this blog may have been more appropriate on the sixth day of Christmas (when geese are actually supposed to be a-laying), but I was just so keen to show you all the latest Christmas card in this year’s collection.

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On a musical note, I think the ribbon complements the ‘Noel’ message backstitched on to the canvas itself well, and I finished-off with the traditional tartan ribbon that’s now a staple in all my Christmas décor designs.

And, as with every project – big and small – this piece informs my next. I think I’ll carry the seasonal sentiments forward by backstitching (where space permits) on the canvas. I have a bounty of spare skeins crying out for some festive attention and it’ll make the cards even more personable.

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I’m yet to decide this little guy’s final destination, but I know wherever he goes he’ll make someone very happy.

While I’m here, I thought I might give you a sneak peak at our Christmas tree. This year’s effort has been somewhat enhanced by the many decorations that Mr Xstitch and I picked up on our travels in Germany this year. With this in mind, I thoroughly recommend a trip to a good Weihnachtsmarkt any time you’re lucky enough to visit Deutschland.

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I must say, I am in love with this tree, but reading all your lovely posts in recent weeks has inspired me to make 2015 the year of the cross stitched Christmas – hopefully that’ll include some decorations and maybe even a cheeky advent calendar to pop 24 treats in for Mr XStitch and his sweet tooth.

Happy crafting.

J x