Welcome to my blog. My name is Joy and I am an avid Lutheran, cross stitcher, loom knitter, reader and mother of two toddlers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mickey!

I am working on a new ornament.  I started it last week.  It's out of a Leisure Arts book that I have.  It's going to be on ZoĆ©'s ornament box.  She still loves Mickey Mouse so I'm sure she's going to love it.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Very Texan

I finished knitting up this washcloth today.  It has the state of Texas in the middle of it but it's a bit hard to see because of the stripes.  My knitting circle has done this several times so I decided to give it a try.  I chose the striped yarn because the Texas state flag colors are red, white and blue just like the U.S. flag colors (if you're not from the U.S., the Texas flag has a bit more standing than the other state flags because Texas was an independent country before it joined the United States so it is allowed to be flown at the same height as the U.S. flag.  The only other state that has that honor is California).


Friday, July 18, 2014

Washing Stuffies

Lately, I've been noticing that my daughters' stuffies have been getting rather dirty.  I've washed several loads of stuffies over the past few days so I figured I would share my tips on successfully washing your child's stuffed animals.

Qualifications:

  • The toy cannot have any electronics in it (obviously).  In some unlikely cases, the electronic component can be totally removed and then it would be safe to wash.
  • The toy cannot have any odd accessories attached to it.  I try to be careful if it has felt on it.  Also, my girls have several My Little Pony plushies with hair that I do not think would wash well.  Washing stuff with yarn is also probably not a good idea.  Ribbons and things like cat whiskers are fine.  
  • Most stuffed toys and beanie babies can be washed without a problem.  
Preparation
  • Make sure that your toy qualifies for washing.
  • Thoroughly check the toys for any rips in the plush and fix them before washing.
Washing
  • Smaller to medium sized toys should be washed in pillowcases.  Put 2-4 toys per pilllowcase.  Do not try to stuff the pillowcase full of stuffies!
  • Try to keep any toys separate that might bleed (i.e. red and pink toys).
  • Larger toys (pillow sized) can generally be thrown directly into the washer.
  • Pretreat any major stains with your favorite pretreater.
  • You may wash several pillowcases at once but I would keep the load small.
  • Knot the open end of the pillowcase to secure the animals inside.  Use a zippered pillowcase if you have one.
  • Add a small amount of detergent to the washer.  I use Tide with Febreze (makes them smell wonderful).  A gentle detergent like Woolite would also work.  Use less than the smallest amount indicated on the detergent measuring cup.
  • Wash the pillowcases/toys in cold water on the gentle cycle.  Remove promptly when done.
Drying
  • I normally open the pillowcases to make sure that nothing has gone wrong during washing before drying.  Re-knot the pillowcase if you do this.
  • Dry the pillowcases/toys on low heat.
When you are done, you should have nice, clean smelling stuffies.

I would not recommend doing this to anything "collectible" or anything that is in danger of falling apart.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Q and A

I decided to snipe these question's off Angela's blog (Hooked on Stitches).  I have probably answered some of these questions before (I think I answered some similar questions when I was guest blogging on stitching the night away) but I find that my answers change as I get older.

Question 1: How did you start? Who introduced you to cross stitching?

I knew about cross stitching because my grandmother did it but she did not teach me.  She wintered down in Arizona most of the time and then she had her battle with cancer and died when I was 11 so she never got the chance.  Had she lived longer or been around during the long winter months, there is a possibility that she would have taught me herself.

My mom bought me a kit to cheer me up when I had my wisdom teeth removed.  She was at the local craft store (one of those non-chain stores that is sadly closed now) and saw this little Learn-A-Craft frog kit and I taught myself from the instructions.

Question 2: Favorite theme or designer

I've been asked this question before and I think I even blogged about it on Stitching the Night Away but my tastes are so variable that I can't say I have a favorite.  I did a lot of kits when I first started.  I also liked getting books of minis so I could combine motifs and alphabets to make my own designs.  I had a phase where I really liked fantasy designs and I especially liked Dragon Dreams (still do) but I have not stitched a ton of it.  Recently, since I've been married and have kids, I find myself drawn to pieces that I never would have considered.  Here's an example


There's not really a rhyme or reason for the pieces I select.  I used to do a lot more pieces for other people but now I do most of them for me.  That could be one reason for the change. I do seem to find myself being drawn to certain ornament designers in the Just Cross Stitch magazines.

Question 3: What brand of floss do you use?

I normally stitch with DMC.  Lately, I have been stitching patterns that require other flosses.  I don't mind working with overdyes and metallics but they can be expensive so I do sometimes substitute for DMC.

Question 4: What is your fabric of choice?

I'll work on just about anything.  I don't mind Aida, although it is not my fabric of choice if I am stitching quarter stitches.  I also enjoy using perforated plastic and paper because they make finishing very easy.  I do enjoy evenweaves and linen and they are probably my favorite.

Question 5: Do you use a needle threader or are you a floss licker?

I try not to actually lick the floss but I have never been able to get a needle threader to work properly for me either.  Most of the time, I am able to thread by folding the thread and popping it through the eye.

Question 6: What brand of stitching frame (or hoop or otherwise holder) do you use?

I love Q-Snaps.  I also have a Ks Creation frame to hold the Q Snaps but I rarely use it anymore because of my daughters.  I suspect when they are older and I can have a proper stitching chair, I will be able to use it again.




Question 7: How many projects have you finished?

By my count, at least 170.  I know there are probably at least 20 more that aren't photographed. 

Question 8: How many completed works are hanging in your house?

If I count right, I have ten.  There are two more that need to have new hangers put on them and then they will go up too and there are two that I had to take down because my daughters were getting into them.  Most of my works are smalls and many of the larger pieces were gifts for other people.  Hopefully within a few years, there will be more on display

Question 9: Do you stitch for gifts or for yourself?

I do both.  I used to stitch a lot of gifts but most of my gifted pieces now are for my husband or children.  I
still get to enjoy them when I'm done.

Question 10: Favorite finished cross stitch piece

I think that it has to be "Fairy Tale Sampler" by Dragon Dreams


Coming in at a close second is "Amazing Grace" which was the second piece I ever stitched (it was a very, very ambitious second piece).


Question 11: Worst experience whilst stitching?

When I was 20, I spent the summer out in Colorado working for a church.  I was dating (long distance) someone I met at college and his sister was pregnant so I was working on a birth sampler for the baby.  I also was working on a piece for him.  Halfway through the summer, he dumped me over the phone but I still finished the birth sampler, had it professionally framed and shipped it across the country to the new mother.  I never heard one word about whether it was received or if she liked it.  Nothing.  I don't think they appreciated how long it took to stitch or the expense to have it professionally framed.  It was kind of sad since I was dating a pastor's son.

The piece that I stitched for the boyfriend had a slightly happier ending.  I had it professionally framed but I did not give it to him.  Instead, it went to one of my other friends and as far as I know, it still graces his wall.


Question 12: What do you love and hate about cross stitch?

I have psycho-motor over-excitability (a trait of gifted people) and it makes me want to be doing something all the time.  Cross stitch helps give me something to do with my hands that is also engaging.  I love to watch the piece unfold on the fabric.  To me, it is like painting with string.

I really hate it when the thread tangles or knots or when I have to frog a piece.  I hate it when patterns are hard to read or when kits do not give you enough thread.  Finishing used to give me a headache because of the expense but I am becoming more confident in framing my own pieces.  Stretching the fabric is time consuming and sometimes pieces lay around for awhile because I have to have someone watch the girls while I do the finishing work.

Question 13: Have you introduced anyone else to cross stitching?

I am sure my daughters will want to pick it up when they are older.

Question 14: The first project, did you finish it?

Yes, here's a picture.  It has hung on my bulletin board at my childhood home, my desk at college and in my cubical at work.  It is currently in storage but I will hang it in my classroom once I start teaching.  The blue part glows in the dark.


Question 15: How do you store your floss?

I store my DMC on labeled bobbins in plastic boxes.


My other threads are more of a challenge.  I keep my overdyed threads in individual snack baggies and then put those into a larger quart zip top bag.  They are sorted by manufacturer (Rainbow Gallery, Weeks Dye Works, etc....).  

Bonus Question: How do you keep track of your stash?

I recently have gone mostly digital with my stash.  I found that it took way too much time to go through all my fabric to find something for a piece.  So, about a year ago, I started measuring my fabric and I had a notebook that had all the pieces in it.  I tagged each piece with a code so that it would be easy to find the appropriate piece (my system is like A14W is a piece of Aida, 14 ct in white and if I had a second piece of that same type, it would become A14W2, etc...).  For irregularly shaped pieces of fabric, I drew a rough sketch and filled in the perimeter measurements.

I digitized the whole system by putting it into Microsoft OneNote.  The beauty of this is I can set everything up on my computer and then access and edit it online from any computer or from my smart phone (an alternative freeware software would be Evernote).  After I put in the fabric, I did all my threads and then the patterns.  I even put in my yarn.  I think the only thing that is left to put in is my magazines.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Snow Babies Completed

I was able to finish the second of my ornaments today: Snow Babies.  This was a kit that I picked up from SCRAP.  The hardest part was working with the blending filament, otherwise it was fine.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Garfield Finished

I finished up Garfield today.  I think he turned out rather well.


I started another ornament out of a kit.  I hope to post a picture later this week.

More Garfield

The Garfield ornament is coming along quite nicely.  I tore out the moon and re-stitched it with the correct shade of yellow and Blending filament.  He is about half done at this point.  I am enjoying the bright colors.  The hardest part is figuring out how to do the half stitches since I am doing this on perforated plastic.


I also finished the majority of the knitting on my Short Row Shawlette. It is done in Boutique Unforgettable, which I have really enjoyed working with.  There is a border still yet to be knitted and it will be sewn on the outer edge.