Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy St. Valentine's Day 2017....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~ 
to my friends!

I hope you all will enjoy a most perfect day of love and laughter...
2017 Valentines Cookies

And Sweet Treats too!

2017 Valentines Plate

My Friday evening was consumed with cutting cookies...
while my Saturday was consumed with piping cookies!
They did turn out quite lovely, well in my opinion anyway!

What have I been up to lately??
Well...I do have some finishes and some fully finished items to share with you...

First I will share a couple of fully finished items...
you will remember my:
"Heart Pinkeep"
from Mary Garry's Sewing Cabin
Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue year 2000: 
Mary Garry's Heart Pincushion

Here it is all finished up:
32 ct. Vintage Country Mocha using GAST Mulberry and Piney Woods
VP_Mary Gary's Pinkeep

Then Katie went ice skating for the first time and a portion of it was done in the "dark" for night skating: 
Katie Dec 2016 college

So when Little House put out their design "Snow and Ice"
I knew with a few changes I could make Katie's Christmas ornament...
I am pleased as punch how this turned out:

Katie Ornament - LHN Snow and Ice

"Snow and Ice"
by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32 ct. black linen 2 over 2 
using called for colors EXCEPT I added silver Krenick to the snowflakes instead of the gray/blue color. And...of course...changed "snow" to Katie's name and "ice" to the date. 

I don't know if I told you how in love I was with Hands on Design's latest series
"The 12 Days"....but it was INSTANT love and I was on it as soon as the series pattern was released.
I quickly stitched up:

Hands on Design Partiridge

and was on a roll...
so then stitched up
Hands on Design Doves

So the pattern is completed for the first release!

I think by now you all "get" it that ornaments are my "thing"....right?

With those two finishes that brings my yearly total of finishes to date: 8

I'm off to a roaring start! of course all smallish designs...but a finish is a finish.

In the finishing department I have been quite prolific...to date (since re-opening, after the holidays January 9, 2017), I have 58 finishes for clients...
here are a few to whet your stitching appetites!

Just Nan's ~ "Hagatha Hats" (orange and black)
HZ_OrangePurple Hats

Homespun Elegance  ~ "Plenty" 
HZ_HSE Plenty

Silver Needle Exclusive by Plum Street

PB_PSS Samplers Exclusive

Plum Street's ~ "Jack's Sweet Shoppe"
PB_PSS Jacks Sweet Shoppe

Silver Needle Exclusive by Cricket Collection
LS_The Cricket Collection_Silver Needle Exclusive Autumn Blooms

Carriage Houes ~ Dutch Alphabet
LS_CHS Diminuative Dutch Sampler

Little House ~ "Stitcher's Heart"
LS_LHN Nashville

Lizzie Kate ~ "Coffee Time"
KZ_LK Coffee Time

Hot House Petunias ~ "pushing up daisies"
KZ_HHPD Pushing Up Daisies

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery ~ "Bee Keeper"
KZ_FPS Bee Keeper

So there you have it my friends...my life in a nutshell.

Until the next time...
Be kind to each other.
Listen, then speak.
Hear, then answer.
Live with your heart.
And stitch all the stuff!

Hugs in stitches, 
Vonna xxxx

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Thread Tension....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~
to all my stitching friends

I have a topic from the "Ask Vonna" forum...
It is from my friend and reader Corinna. 
Corinna asks...

"Long story short: how do I prevent pushing up one leg of an already completed stitch with my needle? At first I thought I wasn't stitching tight enough, but if I pull too tight, then I create a gap in linen and evenweave fabrics. I railroad with every stitch and am careful not to split thread. I have read the tip about avoiding stitching in "already occupied" holes...but...is it just me or are MOST stitches next to each other in most patterns?? I am not able to figure out what I'm misunderstanding about that tip lol.

A bit of background for context (the long story):  I started out stitching on Aida and loved it, didn't know any of the rules and didn't even know that all your Xs are supposed to be in the same direction. Then I discovered Chatelaines and Flosstube and started learning new techniques and trying out different non-Aida fabrics. After using 25-count lugana  and working on a couple different projects on evenweaves and 32-count linen, I discovered that working on evenweave feels like I'm stitching on rubber bands. So I figured I'd be a linen-only stitcher going forward. 
Then today I started a new project on Aida and realized...I LOVE stitching on aida!! I didn't know how much I would miss it! And it made me realize some of my "amateur" early projects on aida look tidier than my most recent, 100% railroaded, 100% consistent finishes on linen! 
I like the the ease of counting but the main attribute I like is how tight I can pull the floss without distorting the fabric and how tidy my stitches are. On lugana, Brittney and Belfast, if I pulled too tight it created a gap in the fabric...but then so many of my stitches got smooshed up once I had to pass my needle through the same hole. 
So, back to my original question: Is it OK to stitch "too" tightly because the gap will be filled by other threads? Is it because I'm not getting tight enough tension on my Rolaframes and Q-snaps? I have ordered cashel for a couple future projects so I am committed to using those and would like them to turn out tidy...but I'm seriously considering going back to Aida for good! :D "

Well Corinna, you are not alone...
If you have been a blog follower of mine for any amount of time you will know that I too struggle with thread tension and that I have been called on it excessively at the fair on my judged pieces. SO... I have extensively tried to learn more and research about thread tension and how to get it perfect (or let's face it - who is perfect? I'm just shooting for good). Let's get started!

1. Pulling the thread...
this is defined by pulling it up through the fabric after piercing the fabric from behind. When you pull it you should pay very close attention to how tightly you are pulling. You don't want to yank it through, rather a gently pull and a sort of "laying" it on the back with the pinky finger as the guide. I have had it explained to me this way, the pinky finger is the least strong of the fingers. If you use your pinky finger to be the "tension" finger you will have perfect tension. So when I stitch when I am pulling my thread, the pinky is the finger that I use to guide the thread into place. Once it is through the fabric, I am done pulling. Just a little resistance means it is in place and stop the upward motion of the pull.

2.) Needle size...
size matters. I used to think I could use a size 24 needle on everything. I was wrong. The smaller the gauge needle the smaller the "hole" made in the linen. Use a needle that fits your needs, the one that you are comfortable with and in the smallest size that passes through the linen without making noticeably larger "holes". Also a smaller needle is less likely to move an already laid thread leg or distort a stitch. 

3.) Sewing Method vs. Stab method...
Let's define both methods first before we discuss.

the stitcher will:
go down through fabric - pull - up through the fabric - pull 

the stitcher will: 
go down through the fabric with the point of the needle and in one motion up through the diagonal side with the point of the needle and pull essentially all in one movement.

The sewing method, in some judges/expert determination, makes for uneven stitches and poor tension. (although I have seen example of people who use the sewing method and it looks pretty much even to me...but then again, I am not an "expert") I, myself, have used a "modified" sewing method for a number of years and believe that some of my tension issues on my judged pieces were because of my modified sewing method. I have discontinued use of it almost altogether in recent months, but specifically on pieces that I am wanting to enter in the fair. If you are looking at correcting tension issues and the sewing method is your way of stitching perhaps this is something you should look at stopping to see if your tension is better using the stab method. I am in no way saying that sewing method is inferior to stabbing method or vice versa, all I'm trying to say is: if you are worried about tension in your stitching, you need to try something else to see if it is corrected with a new technique.

4.) Thread Heaven....
I firmly believe laying threads are BETTER when I use Thread Heaven. If you put it on like I discuss HERE  I believe Thread Heaven (I know it in my case) helps repel the threads and they lay like a railroaded stitch without actually having to railroad. Try it! for the cost of about $5 you can try it and perhaps make all the difference in your stitching. 

5.) My stitching technique...
This technique HERE has elicited very strong reactions in a number of stitchers - from very positive to very negative. It has been discussed widely on many Group Discussions in social media - again with very positive comments to very negative comments. Let's again remember here, friends, that I'm not an expert, but I AM a widely versed and very seasoned stitcher. I stitch this way EVERY DAY and have for going on close to 20 years now. I came up with it on my own, but have heard from a number of people that they were taught this way by grandparents/mothers/aunts...I taught myself, but this is the way I stitch. I don't have to use a laying tool, I don't have to railroad. I stitch like this and my stitches lie perfectly. I have been told by a number of judges that my stitches lie nicely.

6.) Fabric textures...
I believe, as Corinna states above, that the type of fabric you stitch on will affect the way your stitches lay and their tension. Aida is a very stiff or firm texture fabric. It is very even and thus stitching on it, is easy and most stitchers paying attention to stitching will get even, neat, uniform stitches with little effort. Linen and Evenweaves are not like that. Thus why the old Aida vs. Linen dispute and which is the best, and what is the most difficult - argument goes round and round. To me, stitch on what you love. If you love aida, stitch on aida. If you love linen stitch on linen, what matters most is: STITCHING. 
But with that said...if you are having problems with tension/stitches laying well, etc on linen or evenweave there are some things that you can pay attention to:

a.) stiffness and/or softness of the fabric you are using: I prefer to work on linen that has a stiff sort of working base. (Corinna this may help you!)  Wichelt linens, R&R reproductions, "raw" or "natural" linens often have the "stiffness" that I like. There are many stitchers that do not like how they feel in their hands, but for me, they give me even tension, perfect stitches every time as long as:  I am paying attention. Fabrics that are softer, jobelan, brittany, Weeks Dye Works linens... all of these linens are soft, looser in weave and thus can be an issue for people already struggling with tension issues. Should you not use these fabrics? Absolutely not! You should use what you love, if you love jobelan, use jobelan, however if you also struggle with tension issues, you will have to be even more aware of how you are pulling the thread when using these fabrics. Mid-weight (to me) sort of company linens/evenweaves are Lakeside, Zweigart, etc. they make for lovely stitching as well, they aren't stiff, they are what I would call "midweight" and not loose of weave, thus a bit easier to stitch on in comparison to softer/looser weave fabrics. Bottom line: the stitcher just needs to be aware of their stitching, paying attention to their stitches and use what they love best and feel is easiest for them.

b.) slubs...
linen has slubs. Slubs can be defined as those threads that are random that may run throughout a piece of linen that is thin...then all of a sudden gets very fat and in some times almost like a large worm. This of course will distort stitches, making uneven stitches. When stitching on linen and a slub is directly on the area that you will have to stitch on, it is best to try to "tweeze" it down by using your needle and pulling the fibers out. Sometimes I have cut the sub out completely and "re-thread" the linen by taking a strand of the linen from the edge and re-weaving it on the piece. This makes me nervous to cut a large slub out and re-weave...so I typically just try to tweeze the slub out. Note: I have gotten slapped on the hand by judges about slubs in my judged stitching too...one piece in particular the judge lowered me two ribbon colors because she said that I had stitched over three threads in a portion of the design. I had not but I HAD stitched over a slub. THUS is when I began to tweeze my slubs and why my gadget bag has a tweezer in there at all times!

7.) Hoops, Frames, Q-snaps, Stretcher Bars...
Many things that I have read, including my own experience, that starting to stitch using a hoop, frame, etc...gives a basis of having your fabric taut and even to start out with, thus it is easier to lay consistent stitches. Does that mean that you shouldn't stitch in hand? Absolutely not! I know personally and I have seen personally beautifully, wondrously wrought pieces from "in hand" stitchers. Again, use your own experience...struggling with tension and you stitch in hand...then try a hoop, q-snap, etc. See if that changes anything. 

8.) Magnifying Lamp...
the one thing that I started to use in the last year was: 
A magnifying lamp. 

BOY, did I not see what I was missing until my stitching became strikingly clear under the LED natural magnification of my new floor lamp last March. Any poorly laid stitch, any random floppy leg, any uneven stitches are perfectly illuminated and honestly stick out like a sore thumb now. I can't stitch without it. See how your stitches really lay by using it while you stitch. I never was so illuminated to the quality of my stitching until I started using one. 
Easily available at Amazon. This is the exact one I bought and use:

9.) Smart stitches...
Try to do all of your stitching smart...for example: I do not make a row of stitches and come back and cross them. I'm not against that...and I know many people, many beginning instructions will tell you to do these long rows of stitches and come back and cross them. I do not. I make my X and move on to the next. Why? Because I feel that making my X and finishing it before I move to the next creates the X fully and I don't go back and have the chance of pulling a leg, distorting a leg, or having uneven stitches. Play around on a scrap of fabric and try a running stitch length and then try finishing the X and compare. You will be amazed. This is what I did to prove to myself that doing a running length of / / / / / 
and coming back to do the 
\ \ \ \ \
was not for me and my stitches were of poorer quality than if I finished it all at once and moved to the next. 
Another thing I do is stitch horizontally. I do not stitch up and down or mix the two going horizontally and then going vertically. Why? Because I noticed that my stitches when stitching vertically looked differently than when I stitched horizontally. Again, don't take my word for it. Get a piece of fabric stitch horizontally and then stitch a number going vertically and see for yourself. You will be amazed. 

Another thing I never do is: isolate stitches and leave them for stitching later - meaning, I never leave one stitch in the middle of a field of stitches (typically a different color) to do later, I will stop and do that colored stitch and then continue on. 

10.) the number of threads in linen holes....
Blitstitch has a wonderful video explaining his technique of stitching horizontally. Now this is something that is done on a full coverage piece typically and would not replicate to a piece with a large amount of negative space BUT he refers to a number of locations and gives/provides links to them. Lots of his advice that he gives in his video is the way I think when I am stitching. Thank you to Brian for creating this video and putting it out there for us to better ourselves. It may be accessed HERE

I think that about does it. I have exhausted the topic. I think the best advice I can give is this: 

Find a way that makes you happy.
Practice makes perfect.
Use what you love.
Never be content, we all can become better stitchers.
Take advice, implement what works, toss what doesn't.
Do what your heart tells you to do.
Find joy in YOUR journey.
Stitching soothes the soul.

Hugs in stitches, 
Vonna xxxx

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fiber Talk Podcast...

I was honored to be asked by a Gary and Christine to talk about my love of stitching. I accepted and it was just published today. Get your favorite drink and listen to me blabber :)

Fiber Talk Podcast with Vonna, The Twisted Stitcher

Saturday, January 28, 2017

End of January 2017...

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~
my dear friends

what a blur it has been. January was rung in and basically it was a trumpet blaring the beginning of a race. I don't like life when I feel like it is set as if on a foot race.
Since January 6, there have been four deaths in our parish. I am the funeral luncheon lady at our church so that means, organizing the events, calling for food, ordering chicken....then of course on the day of the funeral getting there really early in the morning to set up, make drinks, set tables, get all the dishes, silverware, on and on...
I love to serve the families, I just can't believe all the funerals we have had at our parish in the last year. It has been one right after the other and nearly like a part-time job. Yesterday was #4, and it was an all-day affair. Let's hope that is the last one for awhile, myself and all my helpers - the servers, the food preparers, the cleaner-uppers...we all need a break. May it be so.

I have been stitching...
although I may not have gotten done what I really wanted to get done.
In fact I have to go back and look at my Instagram Account (@vonnapfeiffer) where I post stitching updates nearly every day...it really is a good way to track your progress, as if shows like a daily diary via pictures of what you stitched! Try it, you all might like it :)

I started on January 12...
my RST Sampler House, and everything was going gangbusters. Here was one evening of stitching: 


Then the next day, I finished the entire square! I was so happy until I realized that I was over 2 stitches (THE WHOLE BLOCK) to the right....psssst: look at the flower above...you can see that the flower stem leaves are right on the edge of the snow (on the right side) of the square above... then see on the left hand side the flower stem leaves are two stitches inside the grass of the square above) WHAT WAS I THINKING???
...it was in the ditch and not lined up correctly...

UGH... rrrrribbbitttt...

that took the wind right out of my sails for a couple of evenings and horror of horrors. I didn't stitch like for 7 evenings. (I NEVER not stitch...so that shows ~ I really was messed up in the head).

Here it is after I picked the entire block out.


Then after pouting those 7 evenings, I decided to pick myself back up and get busy. 
Two nights later on January 22, 2017:
It was finished :)


And here, my friends, is my 
Little House Needleworks 
"ABC Samplers" 
series all on one piece of fabric to date:
ABC Samplers Jan 2017

this photo is completely true to color in real life. 
The fabric is: Vintage Exampler by Lakeside Linens 32 ct. 
I've used all the called for threads. 
I haven't done the box frames around each individual piece as charted and created my own frame around it. And I have decided against a verse (I had one charted, but am afraid it will detract) so I have a new finish at the bottom all figured out! You will have to wait and see! The next pattern has arrived in my mailbox and I will get to it as soon as I can! I can't wait...I am SO CLOSE! to a finish!

Last Sunday...
after the victory of correctly completing the RST square. I decided that I next would stitch something that has been in my "want to stitch" basket. Today, January 28, I finished it. And I'm SO excited to share it with you!

LHN_Land of the Free

"Land of the Free" 
by Little House Needleworks
~ a thread pack available through Classic Colorworks ~
This one is stitched on 28 ct. Evenweave (MCG textiles) that I "baked and basted" myself with tea and coffee. Remember (for my longtime followers) when I did this a lot? For my newbies (or to refresh the oldies) HERE is the how and the why..
Anyway...I couldn't find anything that I had that had the "look" I wanted and so...I decided to pull some of my own dye lot and man it hit the mark!

This one will be framed and hung in my "Patriotic Room"
I know exactly the frame...and I have some ideas.
(Notice that I added a JABCO star for the pot. I love that)

I stitched a portion of this design the year it came out (2015) and made it into a pocket watch necklace: 
Land of the Free Pocket Watch Necklace

Yep...pretty much loved it then too...

So after I got this darling one all stitched up...
I went down to my personal needlework shop in my cave this morning and picked up this:


"Long May She Wave"
by Little House Needleworks...
Here you will see that I have the thread colors laid out next to each other...
I was so happy with the way "Land of the Free" came out and the colors that just hit that "prim/country" look that I really like and matches in my home so well that I wondered if I could change a few of the colors. So here I was laying out the reds: Ruby Slippers was changed to Manor House (that was in Land of the Free) and Spinach was changed to Weeping Willow (that was from Land of the Free) that's going to give it the look I want in the red and blues. I am keeping the Blacksmith Blue, Eggshell and Roasted Chestnut. I am going to frame all of these separate, in the same frames, as a grouping on the wall and I want them to look similar.

Then when I cut another piece off my "own personal hand dye" vintage and laid it all out:


WHAMO! isn't that going to be PERFECT?!

OH can't wait...
but I have to finish up a model first before sinking ONE stitch into this one...but I'm anxious!

Now then...
speaking about Little House and Patriotic Room.....
I'm certain that most of you have seen this announcement?

Well.... do I need to even think about it? 
I'll be setting up an Instagram Stitch-A-long, if you are interested. 
They can be stitched as one and/or as the small pillows. I'm stitching on one. And I think I'm going to dye my own vintage hank of fabric to my own personal specifications for this. We. Will. See.

Have I told you lately how much I love stitching? 
I am truly finding joy in my own stitching journey again. 
I was overloading myself.
too. much.
I am my own best stitching SELF when I am doing what I love and for me!
spreading the joy with others about my personal stitching...encouraging others...enabling them.
That's what I do best. I know where my talents lie.

Speaking of Joy...and journeys....
I had a "God" moment and want to share it with you.
I am really trying very hard to make 2017 MY YEAR of personal evolution.
So I'm reading my bible daily working toward a personal goal of reading the complete thing from 
"In the beginning.." to "Amen."
It is going well. In fact... I am enjoying it so much. I look forward to my time with the bible and the Lord every day. I also am trying to incorporate some reading from other authors that speak to spiritual matters throughout the week.
(Now I still read smut too, but sneaking a few minutes of something mind growing makes me feel good about my mind trashing reads)

So anyway...I digress...
this week I heard - from one of my coworkers at one of the funeral luncheons (there were two this week) - about how it is a "dying to self".... and I had never heard that phrase before (or if I did I had buried it deep into the - I don't want to hear it now crevice in my brain). It struck me... this phrase: dying to self....and I came home and began to research it with my bible and in all the blogs/people I read on spiritual matters.

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." ~Matthew 16:25

Hmmm...I do that...right? I don't need to worry about that. I do that.

Well ....two days later after hearing this phrase, I was reading one of my spiritual growth books and right there in black and white....printed on the page:

Whoa! That was twice in like 3 days that this phrase had jumped out at me. 
I'm doing that Lord...that's what I kept thinking. I do for others, I follow you.

Yesterday... at the funeral of a well respected parishioner, I was asked to sing the mass and hymns of the service. I was right up by the alter. Our pastor was giving the eulogy. He is a very wonderful speaker and always I glean much from his sermons and eulogies. He inspires "to be of things of heaven", he really does. Anyway, he's giving the eulogy and right there, with me sitting 20 feet away from him he says, "it is a 'dying to self' ..."

WHAT!?!?!? THREE Times in FIVE days that phrase was given to me.
What did I do right then and there?
I bowed my head and said in my heart, "I hear you Lord, you don't have to smack me with a wet noodle, I hear." So apparently, God is asking me to "dye to myself" and you know what? He's right. I have a pride problem. You can't dye to self with a pride problem. I've spoken to you before about complaining. I do that too. So...with my head screwed on straight and the Lord nearly having to smack me upside the head....I got the message! 

Last night I did some more research...
I can't say it anymore eloquently than Jan Johnson did on her article printed here:

I've got work to do and I'm going to do it!

Have you made it down here?
Thank you, if you have.
I don't often tell you how much I love each and every one of you. 
I do, you know.
And you bring a smile to my face. 
Each visit, each comment, each e-mail.
Brightens my day.

Thank you.

Love and hugs in stitches,
Vonna xxxx

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Another New Year's Week Finish....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~
We are getting ready for a snow storm to hit Indiana tomorrow morning at 5 a.m.
A winter warning advisory is in effect!
Of course, the day it is supposed to snow hard and large amounts is the first day Keith will be going back to work....
Keith got home today from caring for his Mom and Dad. I'm happy to report that Keith's Mom has rebounded well, it seems from her meniscus repair on her knee. While Keith was there, he and she did some serious talking about the future and what it may hold and what they all need to be thinking about to help her and Keith's Dad. We will see how it all goes.
In the meantime...I'm praying. That's the best, good thing I can do.

Well I finished OPQ Sampler House from the ABC Sampler Series which is currently ongoing with Little House Needleworks. 

Here's the OPQ Sampler House Square


Here is my whole sampler to date, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

ABC Sampler to date 1417

I'm really loving how it is turning out!
32 count Vintage Light Examplar (20 x 20 inches is what I cut my fabric)
Using called for colors 
I'm so glad I have them placed just like I do.
I love them without their square frames around them and I love my simple border.
Yep! I love it!

I want to thank each and every one of your for your kind visits and comments. 
YOU mean the world to me. 

I am happy to report I am doing a self-motivated "read the bible in one year" using the NAB Catholic Bible App on my iPad. So far so good! When I was in college I took an Ancient Literature class where one of the books that we read was the entire Old Testament. I so enjoyed that class and reading the selections each day reminds me of how much I loved that class.

if you have any prayers or special intentions just drop me a line at my e-mail address and I'll add you to my journal. It is filling up and it is my sincere honor to pray for those that need/want prayer. I really do feel that it is one of the things God put me on earth to do. 

So until next time...
I'm going to settle in and start stitching the RST House on the next block of the sampler while snowflakes swirl outside my window..
Three more spots and it's almost there! 

Until Next time...
Stitch all the things.
Love your neighbors.
Love yourself.
Be kind.
Be Fabulous while doing it!

Hugs in Stitches, 
Vonna xxxx

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!...

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~
and a very...
Happy New Year to you!

began with a bang and a finish...

Day One ~ Partridge in a Pear Tree
Design: The 12 Days of Christmas 
Designed by: Satsuma Street
Day 1 Sastsuma Street

You may view the Satsuma Street Designs at her Etsy shop: HERE

What drew me to these 12 designs was the vibrant colors and whimsy in each square. You must admit that it is a bold move on my part and definitely a divergent color palette from anything I stitch. It just struck me and I bought it immediately. I will be making mine into ornaments for a 12 Days Tree....but the pattern also comes with a 12 Day Sampler and it is darling as can be as well. Check Satsuma Street out!

Today is the solemnity day of....Mary, the Mother of God.
And my family was there bright and early at sunrise mass this morning, it was a small intimate affair this morning with less than 30 people in attendance. But I always feel it the only way to start the "new" year off. So I woke everyone up and off we went. Here is a snap of the bright eyes and busy tails after we got home :)


Keith is absent...
because he is at his parent's home this weekend helping to take care of his father (who suffers from Parkinson's and dementia) while his mother recuperates from knee surgery. I'm praying that she makes a quick recovery and that we can run down some help for her inside the home after she's fully well. She is the only caretaker (besides Keith and his brother on very rare occasions). I and my sister-in-law are trying to find an adult sitter to sit with my father-in-law so that Keith's Mom can get out and have a little "me time" every other week. I think my sister-in-law found help through Respite Care and I think I have a lead on another one to fill in some holes if needed above what Respite will cover. It's so hard on her and I feel so badly for her. We are about 1 1/2 hours north of them so the only thing I can do long distance is call every day to let her talk (really I just blab on and on and try to make her laugh). She calls me her "guardian angel" and before we left after celebrating the holidays with them she gave me this:


It made me cry. 
Sometimes, I just feel like I take and take and never give back adequately. She wanted to give me this and I know that doing so gave her pleasure, but I don't expect anything from calling her. I call her just because I love her and I feel badly for her situation and I know how it can be when you have no one to talk to and you are stuck inside four walls. I think we all can understand that. I wish I could do more for her. I've offered driving down every other week to sit with him while she goes out, but she won't hear of it. So I'll continue talking to her. God gifted me with a big mouth and the gift of gab...and I use it well! I'll have to give her some hip boots to wad through all the BS. 

So I'm not making any plans for 2017 about stitching...
because let's face it folks, I never do a dip diddly thing that I "plan" at the first of the year.

of course I'd like to be healthier in 2017, but I try really hard for that daily anyway, fail a lot at it, but I try - hard. So I'm not going to write anything about losing weigh and yada yada. 
I'm just going to do it.
  (where's that Nike swoosh sign, when you need it?!)

The one true thing that I want to work on in 2017 is my personal relationship with God.
I struggle in my faith walk. I really do. My struggle is implementing quality time just listening to God. I follow Him and I know that I'm just where He wants me to be and doing just what He wants me to be doing. I know that firmly. The problem is: I don't spend enough time with Him. The last few weeks, I have began to try to mentally stop myself being negative. I sometimes don't always say out loud negative things (although being completely honest I say plenty of negative things out loud too), and I do think negative things a lot. 
Negative things about myself, negative things about others, just plain negative, hateful things. 

So in an effort to be the best me I can be....
I've started stopping myself when I start to think something negative - whatever it may be - and I think about it, why am I thinking this way, what can I do to change thinking this way, would God want me to think this way? No, He wouldn't - so I say a prayer and stop the negative voices in my head and think only of something good. Sometimes I've even written down things in my journal to pray about to stop my negative voices.
You know, I don't know if I am just a negative Nelly or what...but doing that - stopping yourself from negative talk, thoughts, actions....that's hard. But the good news is...I'm getting faster at recognizing my descent into negative hell and stopping myself.

Do I have bad days? 
Oh yes I do! Yesterday was one. I was having a mad day. Maybe its hormonal, I don't know. But I was plainly having a mad day. I was in the thick of being a negative Nelly. 
This one wasn't doing right. 
That one wasn't doing right. 
I wasn't doing right.
 Nothing I did was right.
Nothing they did was right.
How can anybody stand me? (I think this a lot)
 After thoroughly immersing myself and steeping in negativity for a couple of hours I stopped myself. Why was I doing this?
Simply put: I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? I don't know necessarily other than the let down of the holidays. Keith was gone. The kids were all at work or doing something with friends. I was alone in my house with my cats (and they didn't even want to be around me)  and everyone else was having a big life and I was alone.
I said a prayer
  (and ate a piece of cake...which didn't help and made me feel worse...but I did it and I'll admit it)

I said another prayer and then I listened to a video that a friend sent me, that in reality spoke to the chaos in my head and the chaos that reigns in our world, but also spoke to the solace to which I cling.
If you'd like to watch the video, it is: HERE 

So my prayer was answered.
And I picked myself up by my boot straps, with my head and heart firmly planted in positive, reaffirmed my path and marched on. Because you know, we all make mistakes and I've got to learn (finally) the lesson that I have struggled with for 46 years: I make mistakes frequently, but that doesn't mean that makes me less. In fact, through the hard knocks of life...it just makes me a better me.

Make straight your paths....
and walk with me.

Until the next time lets....
Stitch all the things.
Think positive.
Love one another.
Love ourselves.

(and I'm going to add one for me: only eat cake once in a while...)

Love and Hugs in stitches, 
Vonna xxxx

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thoughts on a New Year....

 ~ Greetings and Warm Welcome ~ 

The New Year is upon us...
so I thought I'd reflect on my 2016 and share with you my stitching "was" and my stitching "hopes".

First off let's take a look at my 2016 Christmas Cookies...
Katie and I made these on Dec. 23, just in time for the big party we had here over the weekend :)

Candy Canes Frosty Packages Red Truck Santa and Mrs. Claus

We made 143 cookies. Shared them with friends and neighbors and we are still eating them. AND a week later they are still good. Lots of work, these take, but they are delicious.
If you are interested in learning how to do these cookies as well as the recipes I use, etc. etc. Please see Sweet Sugar Belle blog. I use her Royal Icing Recipe and I use her basic sugar cookie recipe. PLUS she taught me everything I know. I read and read and read a lot of cookie blogs, but Sugar Belle spells it all out and I like it being all spelled out. Sharing is caring, and she shares it and lays it all out for you to learn. She has the same  philosophy as I do when it comes to learning and I appreciate her! Thank you Callye!

Please note... learning to do these cookies is just as expensive as a serious hobby in cross stitching! I have cookie stash that rivals my cross stitch stash. You begin the whole "I'm gonna learn to make iced cookies" thinking oh cookie cutters are cheap...Well HA HA HA on you! I have a tub (literally a large sterlite container) filled with cutters. And another filled with my cookie roller, tips, bags, bottles, my gel colorings (think DMC in small tubes of 100 different colors to achieve "just the right shade")....cookie cooling racks... 15 really large (like in professional kitchens) cookie sheets. To do cookies like these it takes lots and lots and lots of ...stuff. But...I've made a couple of batches over the last two years for friends of mine...which lead to friends of my friends that got my name... which means a couple more batches for profit. Anyway between those batches for profit and my catering the boys' Eagle Scout reception and Katie's graduation reception...I figure I have paid for my cookie stash :)

In the week intervening between Christmas and New Years....
I always try to stitch at least one ornament to commemorate our Christmas to hang on our tree the following year. I picked out and stitched:

"Heart Pin Cushion" 
from Mary Garry's Sewing Cabin
found in the 2000 Just Cross Stitch Ornament Magazine

Mary Garry's Heart Pincushion

It is stiched on 36 ct. Vintage Country Mocha 
Using Gentle Arts Piney Woods and Mulberry threads

Yep, I pretty much love it...
AND this is my first OFFICIAL ornament for my Antique/Sampler themed Christmas Tree that I hope to have ornaments enough to fill a small tree next year. 

Which leads me to my goals for 2017...
this is going to be the first year in memory that I will not start something new on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Nope...I'm going to work on a WIP. I'm going to try to work on a WIP for 2017 in general. Oh there will be plenty of starts, as I just got done kitting a huge Mirabilia - you'll hear more on that later on in the new  year. But to be honest...I'm happy with just being me and stitching what I have going on right now. 

wasn't a prolific stitching year. There was lots of struggles in 2016 for me personally, but I look at all struggles in life as being forged in steel. Every day no matter if it is filled with all positives, or all negatives is a day of blessings if you just look a little below the surface. I have tried to think of life in that way this year particularly. Counting my blessings instead of automatically turning to negativity. Negativity is easier, looking for hidden blessings much harder, but once you practice looking for blessings you notice that your day is filled with them. I'm going to keep on looking for blessings in 2017. 

2017 Prayer journal...
my new journal is purchased and I have transferred names and intentions that I know still need prayer from my 2016 journal into my 2017 journal. This is my 3rd year offering my prayers up and asking for people with prayer needs to contact me. If you have specific requests for prayer, please privately e-mail me (located under the mailbox in the sidebar). I keep everything private. The only eyes that see that journal is mine. No request for prayer is taken lightly, no request for prayer or intentions mentioned is too small or too large for God. I will pray most devotedly for all intentions. Doing this prayer journal has been a very positive thing for me in my faith walk. So as I pray for you, you are really helping me, a poor sinner, be a better person. Thank you!

I believe that is enough for now. May your New Year's Celebrations be safe, festive, fun and filled with every thing good. May you shine in 2017! 

let's stitch ALL the things! Until next time...

Hugs in stitches, 
Vonna xxxx

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!....

Merry Christmas from my family to yours...

Christmas Eve Mass 2016

Christmas Day Mass 2015
(look how they've grown and changed!)

May the Infant Jesus...all brand new and laying in his manger, bless each of you with health, happiness and joy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 21 and Day 22 ....

~ Greetings and Warm Welcome to ~

Let's talk THEME TREES!!....
ahhhhh...one of my favorite topics and one of my favorite things to dream about....
if you have been a follower of me or my blog for any length of time you will know that I have two major theme trees in my life. My handmade ornament tree, which houses over 500 handmade ornaments. About 275 of those are cross stitched by my own hands, while the rest are handmade by the hands of either myself and Keith (when we were children), my own children, a few painted ceramic ones from my maternal grandmother, a few cross stitched from my friends and about a dozen hand-painted by my sister in law. Each one is special and beautiful and loved by me. 

Here are photos of my Handmade Family Tree...
(which I think I already shared...but its worth seeing again, there's a lot of work and a lot of beauty in that tree...)
2016 Tree Front
2016 Tree Left side 
  2016 Tree right

My second theme tree is my Prairie Schooler Santa Tree...
this year's version sits inside a milk can from my paternal grandparents Dairy Farm that I inherited. I painted it black (it was rusty and rather nasty)...

2016 Prairie Schooler Santa Tree

I only added two ornaments to it this year...
it's been a rough year stitchy-wise.

Now let's talk 2017 Theme Tree Aspirations...
I'm quite certain that many, if not all of you, have seen "Hands On Design aka Cathy Habermann's 
 newest "12 Days of Christmas" If not...go look HERE
Funny, really. I just bought a knock-off feather-type tree and thought a 12 Days of Christmas ornament series would be perfect. Then the very next day...whamo! I saw Hands On Design  preview picture on Facebook. 
Other 12 Days options would of course be: Prairie Schooler's 12 Days of Christmas Version 

copyright Prairie Schooler ~ Hoffman Distributing

Or Plum Street Sampler's "12 Days Sampler" version which happens to be a freebie at Paulette's blog and can be found HERE

copyright Plum Street Sampler - Paulette Stewart

definitely a "12 Days of Christmas" theme tree is feasible and desirable to me for 2017.

The other theme tree that I have kicked around in my brain for years is a "Sampler Tree"...
I pitched the idea a couple of years ago to Diane Williams of Little House Needleworks and she created a series of 12 designs all with a nod to Sampler Making. You can see those 12 designs which I was lucky enough to stitch and finish for her: HERE 

If you want more inspiration for Sampler Trees please visit Mary Beale's website and gaze upon the beautiful trees at:  Linda Wallace's House

While you are there you can view Mary's own sampler type ornaments in her shop that is ready for instant download: Mary's Shop 

There are lovely, beautiful sampler type ornaments in the older issues of Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues (I'm talking 2010 down to 1997) Sheepish Designs, Blackbird Designs, Little by Little, Hands to Work, Sampler House and so many more fabulous designers that give a nod to Sampler's and Sampler Making in ornament designs that are ready to stitch. If you don't own the ornament issues down that far...lucky you... they are available for purchase: HERE  (if link doesn't work just go to Amazon and google Just Cross Stitch Ornaments CD and it pops up from 1997 - 2013 all magazines on one CD for $25)

Other Designers that have fantastic patterns, huge big samplers that may or may not have anything to do with Christmas, but you can pull out specific design motifs from their larger sampler patterns and would work perfectly for a "Sampler Tree" theme is:
The Scarlett House ~ Tanya Brockmeyer
Plum Street Samplers ~ Paulette Stewart
Threadwork Primitives ~ Nan Lewis

Think about it... for instance a pastoral scene which is highly prized and desired in samplers...such as this one in the Heartland Sampler from The Scarlett House
Lookie there at that Cow...perfect little side oval ornament for a Sampler tree. 

Plum Street has put out a PLETHORA of designs that are smallish and can be manipulated sizewise by choosing the linen size you stitch it on... an example is Pomegranate Santa

With Thy Needle and Thread...oh my word...I can get lost sitting and looking at all of her reproductions and original designs. Just go look at her shop: HERE

Are you seeing my Sampler Tree? 
I sure am.

Have I inspired you to create your OWN Theme Tree?
I sure hope so! 

In the meantime...
I created some videos of my theme trees to get an "up close and personal" look of both of them..

we ice the cookies...so being that it will be an ALL day affair, this video and blog counts as two days in my book!

Until the 23rd...where we will have a review of my favorite gadgets and gizmos...and a where to spend your Santa bucks :)