#50 Of course, it was a Christmas turtle…

Cast your mind back to post #49 and the little guessing game I set you all.

The correct answer was: A Christmas Turtle (naturally!)

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My colleague assures me it will make sense to its recipient!

In other news…

Mr XStitch has given me an early Christmas present. He’s cleared away a book case in the spare room (craft cave!) so I can store my ever-growing collection of cross stitches, magazines and embellishments in a tidy corner.

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And so the house domination continues…

J x

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#48 Stitched, sealed and (ready to be) delivered

Regular readers of Life’s Complicated So Cross Stitch might remember that back in September, I posted a blog about my plan to create cross stitched Christmas cards and sell them for charity, in memory of my Mum’s good friend, Tracey, and indeed all the loved ones I’ve sadly lost over the years to Cancer.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I’ve passed my mission.

Since the middle of September I’ve made and packaged 30 truly unique cards to be sold over the coming weeks.

From Rudolf and Santa hat wearing scotty dogs, to snow-scapes and fairies, I’ve collated my favourite Christmas designs either bought or free in magazines, and made up this selection of festive fancies.

Pick a favourite, you ask? I couldn’t possibly! Twist my arm, and it might just have to be the snow covered house designs…

Snow on the rooftops

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Behind the scenes:

To create 30 Christmas cards might not, at first, sound like that arduous a task – I too, thought it sounded easier in principle than it turned out to be in practice.

There were often times when I didn’t feel like cross stitching, a feeling I’m sure we’ve all come across over our crafting years, and other times I didn’t want to get out all my ribbons and embellishments to make up the cards.

To counter this, I found it easier and more fun to work in stages; a one-woman production line if you will.

I would usually make up around 7-10 completed cross stitches over the course of a week or two and then have a little card making session.

Not only did this help to keep the experience fun and varied, but it meant that I was able to keep my inspiration, ensuring they were all different.

Another tip is to have fun when collecting your different bits and bobs.

I went to a stitching and sewing exhibition to pick up all my ribbons and took a trip to Hobby Craft for my wooden embellishments. I kept the colours suitably simple and seasonal to make sure all tied into the same sort of theme, but different enough so the cards all had their own signature style.

I picked up a ‘stitched with love’ stamp for the back of the card to give it the personal touch, and finished off the packaging buy using clear cellophane for a professional finish, and included a little slip saying:

Thank you for buying me.

Every penny spent on me is being donated to Cancer Research UK, to give a little something back to those who have lost.

Merry Christmas.”

I popped a Christmas sticker on the back of the packaging and there you have it.

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I’m looking forward to seeing what family and friends make of the cards and, if all goes well, may make the project an annual occurrence.

A good deed well done.

J x

#36 Channelling my inner Bree Van Der Kamp*

Anyone who really knows me knows that I have few passions in my life, but passions they are.

Cross stitching, of course, is one of them. Baking is another.

With that in mind it may shock you to hear I don’t actually eat deserts. I just love the precision and decorating that comes with the territory.

Lucky for me I have a willing tester for all my creations, Mr XStitch.

On today’s menu is homemade spaghetti bolognese and fresh orange flapjack slices.

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A perfect Friday morning in the kitchen as I come down from my latest cross stitch completion high.

Wisteria Lane here I come.*

J x

*reference to Desperate Housewives, the TV programme.

#20 The art of finding hidden treasures

For me, the best thing about having a hobby like cross stitching is that I can find and create the most personable gifts for my nearest and dearest.

It’s a best-of-both-worlds hobby, really – I’m gifted special pieces like the poppy pattern in my recent post (#19) or I spot designs myself when coasting my local craft barns for the certain someones in my life.

The pieces below are exactly that.

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Classic Winnie the Pooh – ‘Bathtime’ by Anchor, 16-count Aida, 15cm x 15cm

I found this cross stitch hidden at the back of a Winnie the Pooh sale rack months ago. The second I saw it I knew it was destined to belong to Mr XStitch’s Auntie Kate. Her love of all things Winnie is endearing and so to make this for her was a treat for both her and me.

Though not easy at times due to the metallic thread used to create the soapy suds and the tricky back stitch detail on the barrel tub, to see the finished result made this little project well worth it.

I also wanted to share a little extra present I made for my Mum for Christmas: this black and white kitty keyring.

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Again, this was another hidden treasure found buried at the bottom of a basket of mini kits & starter patterns. As soon as I put my hands on it I had to have it. This is a picture perfect image of my cat, Whisky, who lives with my Mum and Dad – it’s like looking at her reflection.

My Mum was delighted and the little lady herself even gave it her whisker-twitch seal of approval.

It just goes to show… One person’s sale item is another cross stitcher’s treasure.

So get digging, m’crafters – arghhh!

J x

#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