Friday, January 17, 2020

Cross stitch: getting started with a mug rug

Thank you all for your kind, funny and enthusiastic comments about our fish house. We continue to enjoy our time on the frozen lake, particularly when the neighbors wander over to visit and share their snacks. It’s like a block party on the ice.

Since my blog post, Stitching while Ice Fishing, I’ve taken baby steps back into cross stitching.  I have to tell you, I felt like a newbie, all awkward and unsure of what I was doing. After some minor struggles, I stitched a small practice piece which I made into a mug rug.

The Jack Frost’s Tree Farm kit (see earlier post) from Fat Quarter Shop included a large piece of Portobello Studio Line 30 Count Linen, more than I needed for the project sampler. So, I used a small section of that linen for my practice piece, and stitched up three trees from the kit patterns. This mug rug will serve as my inspiration to march forward with my revived hobby!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far. 

My eyes aren’t as young as they used to be. The last time I cross stitched was more than 20 years ago on Aida cloth, which has a defined woven pattern, making it easy to see where to place your stitches. While I love the flat, even weave look of linen, I had a difficult time finding the correct holes for my stitches, even with my progressive lens glasses. 

So, I ended up purchasing an OttLite lamp with magnifying glass. (Luckily, I found it 50% off at Joann Fabrics, so keep watching for sales.) The one I purchased can be set up as a floor lamp or a table lamp. I use the table lamp format, but I place it on the sofa next to my hip, positioning the magnifying glass/light between my face and my stitching. I may look like a dork, but it works so slick. I will probably use this for quilt binding as well.

Right off the bat, I goofed up.
On my practice piece, I accidentally switched direction in my stitching. (I clearly do not have the left to right, right to left habit down yet. I’m hoping that with more practice, this will become automatic.) I didn’t even notice my mistakes until I was sewing the piece into a mug rug. Oddly enough, the mistakes make me love it even more. I look at it fondly as inspiration to always do better. And heck, the little trees are still as cute as can be!

I have to pay attention.
I forgot how much counting and re-counting is involved with cross stich. I won’t be able to let my mind wander or go on autopilot nearly as much as I do at my sewing machine. On the plus side, I realized it’s very inconvenient to snack when stitching. So, this could possibly count as part of my weight control/exercise program. Ha!

I didn’t know which size and brand of needle to use.
This was another aspect of cross stitching that I couldn’t remember. After a bit of online research, I found that some people like a #24 needle, while others prefer a #26. I had Clover brand gold eye #24 needles on hand, so that is what I used for my practice piece. I also ordered Bohin #26 needles to test them out on the sampler.

I needed other new notions.
While researching the needles, I learned that linen cross stitch fabric can distort if using a hoop that is too tight or rigid. Many stitchers, including Kimberly Jolly, were recommending the
Q Snap tube frames, so I ordered two of those as well. I didn’t need any type of frame for my small practice piece, but I’m sure this Q Snap system will come in handy for my big sampler project.

If you are thinking about joining (or rejoining) the world of cross stitching, I hope this post will help you take your first steps. I would highly recommend starting with a small practice piece where you can work out the kinks.

Now I’m feeling confident enough to begin the Jack Frost’s Tree Farm sampler. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and any struggles I encounter along the way. Wish me luck as I get carried away stitching. I will wish the same for you!


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bloom-Topia quilt along: fabric requirements available

Today is the kick-off for the 2020 charity quilt along, Bloom-Topia, with Fat Quarter Shop. I'm thrilled to be one of the guest bloggers for this program which benefits Make-A-Wish of Central & South Texas. The official block sharing begins on February 1, but the fabric requirements are available today!  I have the full scoop below, so read on . . . 

This year's quilt is an absolute stunner! The front features a glorious mix of blocks of different sizes, and the back features a fun pieced area which documents the year made. 

Pattern instructions are released as FREE PDF downloads twice per month, via the the Jolly Jabber (the Fat Quarter Shop blog).  We quilters are simply asked to make a donation toward the patterns we download.  (A suggested amount is $5 for each pattern downloaded, or a one-time lump sum donation.  All donations will go to the Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas campaign, with matching donations from FQS and Moda!)

As a blogger, I will be sewing along with you, and I’ll share my progress every couple weeks on my own blog.  There will also be updates on the Jolly Jabber, as well as on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I hope you’ll consider joining us in the fun!

Now you might be wondering, “Do I have to choose my own fabrics, or is there a kit?” The answer is yes OR yes!  You can sew along with your own stash of fabrics, or you can purchase a beautiful Bloom-Topia kit from Fat Quarter Shop! 

If you’d like to make one that looks just like the gorgeous photos I’ve shared above, then you’ll want to order the exclusive kit, which includes 11.75 yards of Summer Sweet fabric designed by Sherri and Chelsi for Moda Fabrics and Bella Solids fabric. This kit includes all fabric to complete the quilt blocks along with background, borders and binding for the 64.5″ x 82.5″ Bloom-Topia quilt. The kit also includes the patterns (you won't need to download the PDFs each month), a specialty template notion and a roll of Triangles on a Roll 3″ Half Square Triangle Paper. As a bonus, it comes packaged in an exclusive keepsake box with magnetic closure.

FQS also has an exclusive backing set kit, which includes 7.5 yards of Summer Sweet fabric, backing pattern, as well as an exclusive mousepad that will only be available with the backing set.

If you’d like to sew from your stash, then you’ll be joining me in an adventure!  I will be sewing my own version of Bloom-Topia featuring the lovely Harvest Road collection by Lella Boutique for Moda. For my neutral, I’ve selected Vanilla Grunge (30150 91).  I can't wait to show you my first few blocks!

Here’s a link to the fabric requirements: Bloom-Topia Fabric Requirements
Here's the Jolly Jabber page with all the details: Bloom-Topia Quilt Along
Here’s where to make your donation: Make-A-Wish

Have a wonderful week! 


Monday, January 13, 2020

Stitching while ice fishing

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes where the summers are short and the winters are long . . . and cold . . . and snowy. 

We aim to make the best of it during the winter months. As soon as our little lake makes enough ice, it becomes populated with a village of fish houses. My husband and several of the neighbors become evening and weekend fishermen. Occasionally I bundle up and venture out onto the ice as well, so I can keep him company.

Now don’t feel too sorry for me.  We are hardly “roughing it.”  This is my husband’s fish house, a 16-foot Ice Castle complete with an oven, television and cozy places to curl up and read a good book. It’s also a great place to snack or take a nap.  

Oh, and fishing, of course the fishing is really important too. 

It dawned on me recently that the fish house would be an awesome place to do some handwork, so I’ve decided to get back into counted cross stitch. I haven’t stitched for over 20 years, but the patterns today are so beautiful! My first project will be a wintertime sampler kit from Fat Quarter Shop called Jack Frost’s Tree Farm by Little House Needleworks

The kit includes all seven patterns in the Jack Frost series, the 30ct linen fabric, and all threads.  I will be stitching the series together to make the overall sampler, but a person could also stitch them individually as shown in the photo above. I took my kit out to the fish house to look it over, and now I can’t wait to get started. 

This past Saturday we spent several hours in the fish house, fishing and watching NFL football. The Minnesota Vikings lost in the playoffs, which was a bummer. But somehow the loss was easier to take due to our surroundings.

My sister and I used to go ice fishing with my Grandpa Ed when we were little, and I loved it. Grandpa had a curve-top vintage camper that he renovated into a fishing shack. He would rig up all the lines and send them down the holes. While we hoped to catch a bluegill or crappie, what we really enjoyed was playing cards and making jiffy-popcorn on the stove top. When we got restless, Grandpa would send us outside to skate on the ice. (For all you non-fishing folks, a crappie is a small panfish that makes a delicious fish fry meal. And just so you know, crappie rhymes with poppy.)

Someday, I hope we have grandchildren so we can carry on this tradition with them. In the meantime, I will enjoy reading, stitching or watching a football game with my hubby as he works to reel in his catch. I suppose I could become a fisherwoman myself, but I really just enjoy being out there.

Are you thinking about getting back into stitching? The Jack Frost patterns can also be purchased individually, in case you'd like to do a smaller test run. All of the Little House Needleworks patterns are so pretty!  

Thanks for stopping by, quilting friends! I'll keep you posted on my stitching progress.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

9-Patch Pivot: A new version in bright, cheery prints

Hello quilting friends! I’m popping in today to show you some blocks I’ve made for a cheerful new version of my 9-Patch Pivot pattern. I’m using the Lollipop Garden collection by Lella Boutique for Moda. Aren’t the colors glorious?

My 9-Patch Pivot pattern calls for just 21 fat quarters plus 1 1/4 yards of neutral, so fabric selection is fun and easy. The quilt finishes at 66" x 77". My pattern includes detailed photographs for both block construction and trimming. 

Here’s a photo of my original 9-Patch Pivot quilt, stitched up in soothing blues, greens and soft browns. I am quite pleased with how versatile this pattern is.

If you are looking for a fun fat quarter quilt, I hope you’ll consider 9-Patch Pivot.  It’s available on my Etsy shop in PDF format.  And don’t forget, all of my patterns are 25% off now through January 15, 2020. No coupon code necessary.

Now go and get carried away quilting!