Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Day 2....

25 Days

Day #2...
May I present, my 2015

Prairie Schooler Santa Tree2015 Prairie Schooler Tree

Here's the top half...
to get a better look at the ornaments
Prairie Schooler Tree Top

and here's the bottom half...
Prairie Schooler Tree Bottom

I'm going to be completely honest....
I consider this tree one of my best accomplishments ever in my stitching life...and I've been stitching since I was 15 and I'm 45.
That's saying something.
Last year when I unveiled it during the 25 Days. This year I've added just a couple of Santas. 
(I NEED to stitch MORE!)
Here's a run down of the patterns used on this tree. 
The larger pillow ornament Santas are from the annual cards.
The smaller tag Santas are from Book 36
The little nutcracker Santa is from one of the freebie cards, 
I have one ornament from Santa rides its Santa riding a reindeer 
and two Santas from the Year in rounds and then a couple of random Santas from the larger Santa books. 

I got the large peppermint ornaments and the smaller peppermint ornaments from Hobby Lobby.

Here is how I put the tree in my big old UHL 8 gallon crock. 
My husband an I chopped the stand off the bottom of the tree (yes...we got a little violent).
Then he held it in the crock and I pushed beach towels in around the trunk, I think we used 5 beach towels, wedged in and packed tight. Then I used an old gingham valance to wrap around the top and hide the beach towels and act like a tree skirt. 

Some burlap wide ribbon, tucked in a spiral along the trunk of the tree - from top to bottom to make the tree look a little "fuller" and primitive/country. 
White lights and then the ornaments...
 and finally a big burlap bow on the top with the legs hanging down.

pretty doggone proud of my tree. 

In fact....
I absolutely adore it. 
I only added a couple of ornaments this year and I can't remember which ones because they were late last year/early this year, but I didn't add as many as I would have liked. 
Next year...I'll have more, 

Now for Vonna's recommended stitching gizmos and gadgets: 
Stretcher Bars!

Stretcher bars are typically used for counted thread projects that are done on canvas mesh. The stretcher bars hold the mesh in place and keep the vertical/horizontal threads even thus making the piece a blocked canvas.
After doing a counted thread piece a few years ago, I decided I'd try to use them with linen. I liked how it worked out! Especially when I worked on smalls.

Why? Three reasons:  
  1. Q-snaps do not work well in my opinion for small pieces of linen. It takes too much linen to "snap" and hold it onto the frame. 
  2. I have lots of small scraps of linen and these scraps often become my beautiful ornaments/small bowl fillers. 
  3. The smalls come out already blocked when using the stretcher bars. *I cannot tell you (being as I have finished A LOT of smalls for myself and others) that the majority of the time when people get done stitching their piece on certain linens...they are not blocked and sometimes it is a real pain in the neck to get them blocked. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can never get them completely blocked square. I have found that using stretcher bars negates blocking. I like that!

The Stretcher Bars I have are made by F.A. Edmunds. I haven't seen them in any craft stores, but they ARE available at Herrschner's, The Stitchery, any Needlework shop (brick and morter or online) and of course on Amazon. They are rather cheap as far as pricing goes. They come in package of 2 "legs" and they are dove tailed at the end. Buy the size legs you want, they come in many, many sizes....
They also come in two different thicknesses. I have both skinny thickness and fat thickness, but prefer the fat thickness (which you'll find out why later in the 25 days). 
**Oh and by the way skinny and fat thickness is NOT the correct terms. FAT = regular and Skinny = mini. 
Anyway...the stretcher bars are very lightweight, made of soft pine, so not hard on the wrists when stitching. I use these exclusively when I stitch smalls (less than 8 inches in any direction). 

Here's a pictorial:
  1. Stretcher Bars.
  2. They come apart very easily and can be refashioned in any size. 
  3. They are dovetailed and easy to put together.
  4. I have lots of size "legs" but my favorite size is 5 x 4 (I glued the corners on this one and wrote the size so I'd know) I use it alot see all the tack holes)
  5. You lay the frame down on the table and place your linen/aida on top. 
  6. You use brass tacks and the little blue tools help remove the tacks when finished.
  7. Choose a corner and side and place a tack.
  8. Go all across that same side, then flip and do the opposite side.
  9. Finally do the other sides and it will look like this. 
*Helpful Hint* do not pull or stretch your linen as you are tacking it to the frame, you want the threads to be perpendicular to each other. Work from opposite sides at a time.  If done correctly there will be no blocking needed at the end. Your finished piece will be perfectly blocked and ready to finish into final form!

008 009 010 041 042 029 043 044 048

F.A. Edmunds Stretcher Bars (these are what they look like when you purchase them):

So there you go!

I'd like to ask you all to consider going to a fellow Hoosier's website and purchasing a pattern to help her family. I'm speaking about Karen Kluba of Rosewood Manor. Her daughter was in a terrible accident and resides in the UK in a rehabilitation hospital. She designed a special design called "Crazy Socks" that is just $10.00 to help raise money for her husband, herself and their daughter to travel to England and visit their injured daughter and her family. It's all explained on her website. I just felt it worth driving some interested people during this season of giving and season of hope to her website. Perhaps a donation (and then subsequent cute pattern to stitch) would be an effort worth considering? I thought so anyway!
The design and information about it can be found: HERE
and if you decide to get the pattern. Ma over on Tea Kettle Corner is having a Stitch~A~Long.
Go on over and visit Ma and read all about it by clicking: HERE

Ok folks...
that does it for Day #2!
Come back again for Day #3, ya hear!?

Until next time...
I'll be keeping my hands to work..
my heart to God..
while treating my neighbor with kindness and respect, 
and trying to be the best me I can be.
It's hard, isn't it?
I may stumble and I may fall, but I pick myself up and I remember:
To thine own self be true...
I want to BE the change I want to SEE.
Join me!

Merry Christmas,
Vonna xxxx


  1. Awesome "Day 2" post! I just love your tree, it's such a beautiful sight, and reminds me of a tree that you would see in a cozy historical Inn, with cinnamon and vanilla filling the amazing. I am proud of it and it's not even mine ;)
    Stretcher Bars...Ive never used them for cross stitching, but used them all the time when I used to needlepoint...I may just have to try them, I did love them...everything stayed tight and tidy...your tutorial is awesome...thanks Vonna :) Your nails are gorgeous too, I might add.
    Thanks for posting the SAL on your blog, that is really awesome...and I know that your blog will be seen by many.
    Have a wonderful night, and I can't wait to see what treats you have in store for Day 3.

  2. Brilliant!!!! Never used Stretcher Bars either, as again, not sure how to use them, I do now!!!
    Only day 2 and I learnt so much already, thank you, thank you!!!!!
    And your Prairie Schooler tree is so beautiful, love it
    Thanks again, Vonna xxx

  3. Your Prairie Schooler Tree is gorgeous Vonna
    Thanks for the information about stretcher bars,very informative.I have never used them.
    My Crazy Socks chart is ordered.I am looking forward to stitching it.
    I live in the UK. I can only imagine how distressing it must be to be so far from a loved one who is so poorly.

  4. Your tree is spectacular! I would love a tree of hand stitched ornaments :)

  5. Hi Gonna! I'm so glad you're feeling better and continuing to blog. Don't let those negative nellies get you down. :) I was wondering if you could elaborate on blocking. I've never heard of it before and have no idea how to go about doing it. Thanks for all you do! God bless you and Merry Christmas

  6. I have the 2014 Santa card done, and already decorating the house. This tree is an amazing accomplishment. Well done!

  7. You must be very proud of your Christmas Tree. It's gorgeous!

  8. I love your Prairie Schooler Santa Tree!! Hmmm, stretcher bars? Something new for me to try! : )

  9. the tree looks great, Vonna. And I don't know why I have never thought of using stretcher bars for cross-stitch smalls. I use stretcher bars all the time for my needlepoint. I see a trip to the LNS this weekend (no cross-stitch store, but we do still have a needlepoint store) to pick up some bars for the ornaments I've got to get stitched this month! As always, you are an inspiration to me in so many ways!

  10. Thanks for sharing so much of your talent with us Vonna! Love e tree. I have a very small start if one plan to make more Santa's in 2016

  11. Your tree is just spectacular. Love the added touch of the big white bow on top.

    I'll have to check out the stretcher bar idea. I used those for framing needlepoint back in the day, but I always stitched in hand. Thanks for the tips!

    Off to check out the SAL.

  12. Love your tree as always!! Ordered Crazy Socks!! Can't wait to see the pattern, as a retired teaching assistant from a special needs classroom for high school students, I always enjoyed wearing "crazy socks" and then getting the students reaction to them, since I was usually dressed so conservatively. School was a struggle for the students and humor always made the days go by a little easier! Merry Christmas Vonna to you and your family. Cathy

  13. I just love this tree...and I think I may try the stretcher bar idea.

  14. Your tree is POSITIVELY STUNNING! And the burlap, gingham and peppermint ornaments are perfect complements to all your stitching. Since you first presented your red striped pillow ticking finish on the tags, I've been intending to try that, but never got to it. I've been re-energized now seeing the lovely results. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tree with all of us.

  15. Love the Prairie Schooler tree. It is very pretty and unique. Thanks for the tip for stretcher bars. I might have to give them a try.
    Thanks again for your 25 days of Christmas posting.

  16. Great post! I love love love your PS tree! What an accomplishment! Thanks for the tips on how you got your tree into the crock. I doubt I'll ever try it myself, but now my curiosity is satisfied. lol! And the stretcher bar tips are great! I have to pin them so I can find them again. Thanks for letting us know about Karen too.

  17. I LOVE your Prairie Schooler tree!! It is beautiful! I have slowly started stitching some of the yearly Santas, and I am so going to miss Prairie Schooler when they retire at the end of year--much deserved however. I have never thought to use stretcher bars with cross stitching, only needlepoint. I may have to try the smaller bars with smaller projects. Once again, thank you for a great post.

  18. Your tree is gorgeous !! So neat to have a tree just for the Santa's.
    It's great the tips you are sharing. It's nice to learn some new stitching tips, even after 35 years of stitching.
    Thanks again for sharing your Christmas posts with us !!

  19. Love the tree. The crock bottom very unique.

  20. I agree...your Prairie Schooler Santa tree is Wonderful!

  21. Love your Prairie Schooler tree Vonna. I love anything Prairie Schooler designs and especially their Santa's. You should be very proud of it.

  22. Vonna, I love your PS Santa tree! I know you are thrill with it. Thank you for sharing the info about stretcher bars. I have two questions for you about them. Do they hold your fabric drum tight? Do you allow for a bit extra fabric to compensate for the tack holes?

  23. Fantastic tree - laden with many super makes! Well done!
    Caz xx

  24. Great post Vonna! Thanks for sharing all you inspiration and enthusiasm! Your 25 days till Christmas is a very, very generous gift to all of us! Love your tree and PS designs have always been a favorite of mine. They will be missed! It is fun to look at our needlework and admire each ornament. It is hours of enjoyment to stitch such beauties. You did a great job and I am sure your family is proud of your work too. Bayou certainly know how to make a house "a home"!

    Let the season begin! Thanks again for all you share with us. You are a blessing to everyone you touch!

    1. An awesome tree!!! Have you stitched the last PS santa? Sad to see them go. Have a beautiful day 2!!

  25. As a stitcher and Santa collector, seeing your Santa tree just made my heart sing. :) Everything about the tree is perfect, from the stitched Santas to the peppermint ornament accents. I love those peppermint ornies so much I might have to make a visit to Hobby Lobby this week!

  26. Your tree is gorgeous! I have a big old crock like that from off of my grandma's farm. I think next year I will borrow (ok, steal) your idea of using it for a tree base. I don't have enough ornaments stitched to do a tree... maybe someday!

  27. Im in love with your tree, my sweet friend! You never cease to amaze me with all of the things you do and how incredibly well you do them all! Sending a big hug to you today! :) <3

  28. Vonna I can remember a few yrs ago when you dreamed of a prairie schooler tree and now you have one of your very own!! Congratulations. You inspired me last Christmas to purchase a small tree for a similar purpose...bought it day after Christmas. I stitched about 3 ornaments but haven't yet finished them....will try now that I'm inspired once again by your tree! Thanks for sharing! God Bless.Lisa

  29. Vonna your tree looks lovely.

  30. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Such a beautiful tree, love prairie schooler designs. Thanks for the info about the stretchers. Will have a look at the design from the rosewood manor

  31. Love your Santa tree! And thanks for the reminder about the Crazy Socks design...I went and ordered a copy (and a few other things!)...I can't imagine being so far away from a child when they are so ill. Karen and her family continue to be in my prayers. Thanks, again.

  32. Hi Vonna! Thank you for doing the 25 days of Christmas. I love reading your blog and don't comment as much as I should. Your Santa tree as absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to see what you add to it next year. And you have me intrigued by stretcher bars. I am a Q-snap girl all the way but hate to "waste" fabric to use them when stitching smaller ornaments/pieces. I am going to give the stretcher bars a try. Happy Holidays to you!

  33. OMGosh Vonna - your PS tree is gorgeous ! I saw on FB this morning but love that you featured on your Day 2 blog post. I do use a lot of stretcher bars but only for canvas work - I've never tried for linen - interesting ....... my preferred online shop Inspired Needle was donating 20% of sales of Rosewood Manor charts to Karen. I thought that was very nice of Cathy to do in support of her plight. Cheers Mel

  34. Vonna: What an adorable tree, thank-you for sharing with us, all Prairie Schooler wow.
    Good idea using the beach towels.
    Nice information on stretcher bars, thank-you.
    I shall say some prayers for Rachel.
    thank-you for the link to Karen's blog site.


  35. Really love your tree! Gotta try those stretcher bars! <3

  36. Love your PS tree but I wish I had seen it sooner…don't ask. :--)
    I use stretcher bars when working with needlework, are the ones you are using specific to cross stitch?
    I look forward to tomorrows post!
    Off to make a purchase ~ thanks for the link.

  37. Another fantastic post today!! Thank you so much for being a friend to all!! Stretcher bars....never used them but now I may have too!! Love you PS tree!!

  38. No wonder you love that tree , it is just wonderful! I am really liking the tips you are giving this year! Thanks so much.

  39. Hi Vonna! Catching up here. You make me want to cry. You are so kind to help friends in need. I have never used stretcher bars. Fear of the unknown. Am I guaranteed to have my work look as great as yours if I use them? Lol! Thx for doing this - I love it. And Amen to using Q-snaps!

  40. Love the PS tree. I remember you having that goal and of course you have accomplished that too! I see many of the patterns of the patterns I have stitched over the years too. This is the one series that I purchased a long time ago and made sure I bought each year. I am really sorry to see them retire. I've used bars for the few pieces of counted needle work but never for cross stitch. I tend to do my smalls in hand, but I can see how you wouldn't want to block pieces when you need to finish them. I bet you see all kinds of stitching when you get hired to finish them. Looking forward to learning more! Your last post in November you wrote shows the drive you have. It was posted at 5:32 am! I'd have to start writing that at 3:30 to finish at 5:33! 😮

  41. What an adorable tree - love the crock, the ribbon, the gingham skirt - you certainly do things in a wonderfully creative style Vonna.

  42. I love your PS Santa tree - a real inspiration! Thank you, too, for the ideas about the stretcher bars... I'm a q-snap gal, but they just don't work for those small pieces of fabric. I am going to try the stretchers...

  43. Thanks for sharing your PS tree with us Vonna - it's so cute. I have SO many PS Santa patterns, most of which are still to be stitched "someday" LOL. Don't know when or if I'll ever get as many done as you have so kudos to you. I already can hardly fit in all my stitched ornaments on our Christmas trees and probably am going to have to get my own tree one of these years...stitching ornies is becoming an addiction! I usually work in hand with small items but maybe I'll give the stretcher bars a try sometime especially next time I have an Amazon gift card to use. Happy December to you and all the Pfeiffers!

  44. I have never used stretcher bars, really haven't had a problem using Q-snaps with small projects. But, it's something to think about! I have purchased "Crazy Socks" (very cute pattern), have all the fibers just waiting to get some fabric. See you tomorrow!

  45. What a beautiful tree Vonna - and all those ornaments! I know these is only a small selection of what's at your home, but it is beautiful and you are right to be proud of them. I may not comment on every post you write during the 25 days, but I will be reading them all with great interest. It's always useful to pick up some tips from the experts. Thank you for sharing and writing all these great posts.

  46. Love the tree and all the Santa's. I was wondering while stitching does the fabric fray around the tacks?

  47. I love your PS tree. I've stitched a few of them for my grandkids but none for me. I really need to get busy and do some for me.

  48. Cudowna choinka! Jestem pod ogromnym wrażeniem!

  49. Your tree is beautiful. Thank you for with us, your choice of stitching tools, gadgets. It is always nice to find out about different products.

  50. Love your tree..... a wonderful heirloom!!! never used the stretcher bars, but plan to get some just to give them a try.... they should save a lot of fabric that is needed to do smalls on q-snaps..... should help a lot.... have a great day and see you tomorrow!!

  51. Your PS tree is amazing! I would be incredibly proud of it too. I've never heard of stretcher bars, but it's definitely food for thought... Thanks for the tips, Vonna! :D

  52. Your Prairie Schooler Santa Tres is beautiful!

    I've never thought about using stretcher bars for small projects. Thank you for the suggestion.

  53. Your PS Tree is gorgeous! It makes me want to start collecting PS Santa charts and stitch my heiney off so I can have one just like yours!

  54. Vonna, what a beautiful Prairie Schooler Santa tree! I was so looking forward to seeing this. You should be so very proud. Thanks for the tip on the stretcher bars. A very good friend of mine uses them all the time and swears by them.

  55. This may be the prettiest tree ever, Vonna--there is nothing better than a PS ornament in my opinion... Think I need to get busy and finish the PS Santas that I've stitched this year :)

  56. A wonderful sight ... your Prairie Schooler tree. So many great ornaments and so many waiting in the wings to be stitched. :) Have never thought of stretcher bars, will have to investigate more, I'm sure they would have the same sort of thing over here.

  57. Your tree is simply beautiful! I love how you decorated it. No wonder you are so proud of it - you have every right to be.

  58. I'd never thought of using stretcher bars for ornaments! What a great idea/tip!

    I'm behind on blog reading but I'm already loving this series Vonna! xoxo

  59. Hi Vonna! Like everyone I've been busy, not to mention a stomach bug has passed through the family this weekend. I've been trying to stay on top of your blog via my phone but now that I feel like I can focus, I wanted to come look again via my computer so I could see all the pretty pictures better! So glad you had a great time celebrating the boys' birthdays. I came back to this post to see and comment on the stretcher bars. I've seen them in the past but thought they were framing tools As you said, using QSnaps, which I do love, takes up so much fabric especially when we're buying specialty fabric, I have found myself stitching in hand on these small projects. A few, I actually sewed additional fabric to my working piece just so it would fit in my QSnap. I will definitely look into investing in some stretcher bars now that you have enlightened me! Vonna, there will always be critics, but please don't ever let them squash your wonderful loving and giving spirit! I know my world and my stitching is better for you being in it. Merry Christmas!

  60. Just like Amanda (last comment showing above me), I also thought those were bars for framing! Ha! I just stitch smalls in hand... but it would be nice to keep it all straight! I shall look into them next year... As for the PS tree... awesome!! You have done a fine job there, stitching and finishing each one, and re-making the tree stand! Thanks again for sharing... Hugs!

  61. Oh, what a wonderful post. Whenever I read Prairie Schooler it electrifies me, lol. I love her designs so much and have nearly all her books and charts. The Santas are all very special and I also want to stitch more and more of them :) Your tree is just beautiful.

  62. On the stretcher bars, any tips on getting putting them together? I can never seem to get the pieces to fit. Would love to try this on all those PS ornaments I need to get to. I have arthritis in my hands and the stretcher bars would be lighter than the Q snaps I think. I need to dig out my Needlework System 4 (that I also bought on your recommendation!) and move my stitching into high gear.

    You could be a decorator or designer! Your tree is fabulous and so inspiring. I am off to check my PS inventory to make sure I have all these!

  63. Your Santa tree is lovely! Kind of mind boggling to think of how many years some of us have been stitching. I admire you on sticking with your Santa theme throughout.

  64. The Prairie Schooler Santa Tree is fabulous! I have dreams of doing this myself; perhaps in 2016. Have not used stretcher bars for cross stitch; will have to give it a whirl!


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