A Little Holiday Stitching

Posted: December 28, 2016 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches
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I did gift a few stitchies this season. When my niece Xtina reached out to me after the US election, it turned out to be one very sweet silver lining to what otherwise has been a shit-show of a year. She and her wife and their two kids are an adorable family, and I hope one day to see them all in person. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did these for the kids, Phoebe and Elijah:

Elijah’s Santa Star is by Kooler Design Studios’ “I Love Santa” ornament collection. It’s stitched on white 28 count monaco, “over two” with DMC cotton flosses. then personalized it with his name and the year. All x’s done with two strands of floss. Back stitches are done with one strand. I finished it on self-stick foam mounting board, covered the back with craft felt with my trusty hot glue gun, then hand-braided that fucking cord because my fucking cord winder was fucking MIA and don’t get me started on where it turned up, just yesterday.  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ  Anyway, I tacked down the braid with more cotton floss, then fastened three jingle bells to the top because Christmas.


Xtina told me that her daughter liked mermaids, and purple. Armed with that, I can whip up just about anything. 

Design template from The SnowFlower Diaries

The template for this comes from  The Snowflower Diaries‘ Summer Mermaid chart. As you can see, I’ve taken a few liberties with the design and color choices. These are all cotton flosses, stitched on light blue 28 count monaco “over two.” The mermaid’s booby covers and fishy parts are done in one of the DMC variegateds (can’t recall the number just now, ask in the comments if you’re interested and I’ll look it up). The flower stem is a variegated green from The Gentle Art. The rest are standard DMC, color fast and no-fuss for as long as I’ve been stitching with them. ๐Ÿ™‚ All x’s done with two strands of floss. Back stitches are done with one strand.

I finished this in similar fashion to the Santa Star. This one needed an extra layer of backing between the glued-down fabric and felt, so I cut a piece of chipboard (non-corrugated cardboard, like cereal boxes) to size and sandwiched it between the two. Then the edges were hella rough, so out came the purple 1/4″ ribbon to seal that off and neated it up a bit. Then the hand-braided cord, tacked on with floss, and more jingle bells because why wouldn’t you.


Now for the super fun part. I had to improvise and problem-solve on the fly to get these finished and I’m hella proud of them.

Stitchy design by Marie Barber. The rest is all me.

Upcycled aluminim tins make excellent gifts as gift boxes.

I’d stitched the Mackintosh Roses project twice, I loved it so much, and have been sort of waiting to give them as a pair, because I’d never have been able to decide which to part with, otherwise. They were from the UK magazine Cross Stitch Collection. I’d subscribed to their digital version for a couple of years, and probably will again, honestly. I really like the designs they feature, and got more to stitch out of those digital mags then I’ve got time to stitch them in, especially now. These were stitched on two different kinds of 28 count Irish linen, over two, using two strands of DMC cotton flosses for the cross stitches, and one strand for back stitches.

Measure measure measure omg cut!  I hate cutting that close to my stitchies, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I was successful, not once but twice, then sat down with a big glass of wine afterward, to calm my nerves. After I got settled, I used Fray Check to seal the edges, and brushed a little Modge Podge for Fabrics over some carefully measured squares of craft felt both to stiffen them and to provide something a buffer between the linen and hot glue.

The gift boxes were aluminum tins. They looked something like this:

We don’t recommend this product, fwiw.

Now, who ships plastic-sealed flea collars in pressed aluminum tins, ffs? I dunno, they didn’t work so great for our dogs, but the tins had way too much potential to be pitched in the recycling bin. Then lo and behold, I found myself with a need for two gift boxes. 

Steel wool to scrape off the gloss and some of the dye in the paint, then tape off where it fits together because the paint would just get rubbed off with use, anyway.  Several coats of bright white spray paint later, I had them inside to line the tops and bottoms with craft felt. I filled them full of assorted LIndor Chocolate Truffles, tacked the stitchies down to the tops of the tins with hot glue, and squee’d a little at how awesome they looked.

Xtina sent me back a pic of them, where they’re living in their new home. I couldn’t be any more tickled.


Now, for the subversive part of the post.

  1. DMC had a mentorship thing going for awhile (this is before their Commonthread thing). I got a spiffy pin for applying, and also some tiny beginner kits to use to teach counted cross stitch. I pitched four of them into that box before I shipped it. The famly that stitches together can be subverted together — that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. ๐Ÿ˜€
  2. GET FUCKED went into the soak just a little while ago. So glad I started using Fabricare (you may know it as Orvus) on my stitching, HOMG. What a huge difference it’s made. I used to use whatever dish soap I had on hand with a splash of hydrogen peroxide, but not anymore. I can never quite believe what all comes out of the fabric and flosses after a few hours. Makes me realize just how dirty an old broad I am, but I really don’t want that kind of grime preserved for posterity. :-p

Subversive Outlets

Posted: December 12, 2016 by zenstitcher in Funny, Subversive
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It’s a day to be officially subversive. See this link for the Women & Allies Nationwide Day of Protest‘s FB page for more information, if you’re curious. I do have to run an errand into town later to pick up free flat rate postage boxes, but I’m resolved to spend no money and do no banking today. It was impossible to arrange for fall-back care for my MiL (that’s going to be a recurring theme, btw) so I could go to a march, but that doesn’t stop me from taking out my subversive impulses on a good cross stitch design.

I found this bit of unintentionally smutty, intentionally hilarious cross stitch memorabilia in storage this weekend. I’m finally passing on the boxes of vintage 80’s charts to someone who is willing to pay postage to have them, and that’s a very good thing. While I was there, I pulled the plastic bin of personal stash I’d been keeping there to bring home, and look what was right near the top: charts for the Country English Posture Alphabet from 1782!

via Grimalkin Crossing

“or, the Alphabet turn’d Posture-master”

It could only have been smuttier had they been naked.

Here’s the introduction and a bit of context from the inside of this oversized, folded-in-quarters chipboard chart:

The woman who had it before me had taken scissors to it and trimmed off the margins except for one, where she 3-hole punched it for binding. And on the back, we learn that there were RHYMES for each letter that were published with the original lithograph. They’re unbelievably bawdy to modern eyes. Here’s one I whipped together last night, just to scratch my itch over it:

via Grimalkin Crossing, pleasing every sex since...?

Swear to gawd, that’s exactly what the rhyme says.

So today, as my act of subversion, I’m putting together such festive sayings as “RESIST” “GET FUCKED” and “GO FUCK YOURSELF” and getting prepared to enjoy some hilarity while I do.

If Pam Neely is still alive and you know her or of her, please convey my utmost regards. This is cracking my shit right up and the possibilities here are practically endless.

Progress, Book of Ink

Posted: December 9, 2016 by zenstitcher in Progress Pics
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This is the penultimate block, and it’s the craziest so far. Insanely, stupidly difficult. As designers go, Tracy Horner is a freaking sadist, and I love her charts so hard. Yes, I know what that says about me. Go on, judge me. But get a look at this, first:

Every tiny stitch HAS to be right.

The greens and golds in the frame (only) are one strand of DMC cotton floss + one strand of DMC Light Effects — and this is why I tell every stitcher I know to STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM DMC LIGHT EFFECTS. Go with Kreinik, for the love of your own sanity. I even made the same mistake with those little blocks with the red patterns, because I’m completely insane and that’s why it’s taken me six years to finish this, so far.

deep breath

A happier subject are the corner kitties — I use an alternate pattern for the cats, and I changed the colors to honor my Libby kitty. She was just barely not a kitten anymore when I started this. Yeesh.

No more complete pics of this project until I get it completed. Partial shots only, to whet your appetite for more.

Or something like that.

Festive Mermaid Ornamentย 

Posted: November 25, 2016 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches
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Keeping with the stitching to preserve what’s left of my sanity. My niece reached out to me after the election and we’ve been able to reconnect and catch up a bit in the days since. She’s one of the few younger folks in the family who’ve spoken up to say that she likes my stitching – and that she had a couple of kids who’d appreciate receiving hand-stitched ornaments. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope it’s true.

I took the template for this from a summer mermaid chart from the Snowflower Diaries and had a ball making changes based on what I’d been told of her preferences. What fun.

Looks like a party to me!

This is 28 ct light blue monaco, stitched over 2 with cotton flosses. The flower stem is a variegated green from The Gentle Art. The rest of the flosses are DMC. 

I’m still mulling how to finish it. There’ll be another pic when the get that part sorted.

The Journey Back Begins

Posted: November 13, 2016 by zenstitcher in Stuff
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I slept for most of eight consecutive hours last night.

Michael took me by the hand and showed me the way back through the gate to Menelon. I wrote for six hours, yesterday. I worked out on my yoga mat. I ate two hot meals, and drank coffee. I tasted all of it, for the first time since Tuesday.

I’m getting there.

If my gassy dog doesn’t kill me first. [gags]

Limbo

Posted: November 11, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams
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It’s 0430. I’ve been in that wretched limbo between drunk and hungover for about two hours. Finally got up to sit it out, downstairs. My little grimalkin is competing with the keyboard for my fingers. Oh goody, she let me snap a pic.

A purrfect companion

Why am I not asleep? It was like, the whole point of getting so deliberately shit-faced last night. I do it sometimes to induce a full-on breakdown, in a controlled way, so I can put myself back together the next day and get back to work. Only, it’s not going so good, this time. This time, I woke up in the middle of the night, caught between the act and its consequences. It doesn’t actually work, like this.

I’ve been trying to get back to Menelon. The way is shut.

I know why the gate slammed closed. I know why I’m in exile right now. It’s because I’m afraid, and because I’m grieving. I feel trapped. That’s got to be my task, this day.I’ve got to reopen the way. Somehow. 

But probably not until I’m done puking my guts up.That’s just karma.

There are always prices to be paid. For acts of fear, and for acts of cowardice. 

When Your Best Friend is AWESOME

Posted: November 10, 2016 by zenstitcher in Besties, Stuff
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Sue knows me better than any other woman on this planet. ๐Ÿ˜€  I โค her so much.She keeps giving me reasons to be grateful, even in a year as overall-shitty as this one has been.

I love you, SueSweet. Which you knew, before you sent me this HELLA awesome brew mug, with lid, that I’m making a cup of coffee for RIGHT NOW. smooch 

Thank you. In a week where I feel like a stranger in my own country, you’ve reminded me that there is still a whole lot to love. HUGS!~

On a Lighter Note

Posted: November 9, 2016 by suegrain in Stuff

An update on the Spring Sampler. Worked on this during my vacation because several issues made it difficult to work on the new project. Though I could only concentrate enough to put in about 50 stitches today, I’m still making progress. Tonight, I’ll pick up the last of Bev’s baby quilts and see how much work I can do there.

spring-sampler-nov-2016

For All Who Woke Up Afraid [blog post]

Posted: November 9, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams, Information, Stuff
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This is my tarot card of the day. For the real America, the America in which I live, this is going to be our card for the next four years. The message is extraordinary, and I’ve included it below.

The Five of Wands

This art is Marie White's and she is FABULOUS.

The Five of Wands, Mary-El Tarot

Here is the interpretation of the card, typed in by me. The grammar and phrasing are Ms. White’s:

A Lion is a great and powerful symbol for the Sun, with his corona of radiant mane, his domination of the landscape, his heart and roar, which according to the Proverbs of Hell is a portion of Eternity to great for the eye of man to behold.

This is the fire in the forest, Lion in the forest, is a fire in the temple, broken off piece of the sun; a burning, blazing, consuming and hungry source of life and energy, ancient and unfaltering. We tend to it, keep it, and pass it to our children. It is strong and old, it always perseveres and never gives up, nor is it ever tamed.

It is present in men and women, in the temple of our body. In the garden of paradise that resides in our breast. This is the lion that lays with the lamb. Aslan. The pure innocence of a child, or a unicorn, ox, aleph at the start of life, divine and untouched is in contrast to the omega-Lion, who has experience and through perseverance, wisdom and hardship been tempered and grown a great and courageous heart.

The fire from the 4 of Wands now has a face, a lion, a will, life of its own, individuality. It has direction, force, and determination. It is the tip of the spear wielded by the Archangel Michael to fight dragons in the 6 of Wands. This is your purpose, direction, Will, and Life.

KEYWORDS: Strength in opposition, perseverance, unwavering, unrelenting, powerful, great of heart. Conquer through heart, integrity, greatness. Point of no return. Tip of the Spear. Show of force. Righteous force. Force now beyond your control. Reality bearing down on you. Trail blazing. Even if you are getting beat up right now, you were made for this and have the skills to succeed.

REVERSED: Bloodlust. War. Violence.

-~*~-

The dragons she mentions in the 6 of Wands, the ones this energy is gathered to fight?  “Darkness and ignorance from within.”

I don’t know how yet, either. But I’m here at my home today, searching for the courage to leave my house. No apologies for that, if you know me at all, you know the battles I’ve fought just to survive depression, this year. Seven months ago, I was suicidal. This morning, before I looked at that card, I felt as if I were right back there again, that the last seven months hadn’t happened at all.

Now, I’m beginning to feel cornered. The door to Menelon slammed shut on me last night. I’ve got nowhere else to go, and a family full of bigots, mysogynists, and hypocrites that helped to put me in this place. I’m getting MAD, kids. And that’s a good sign — I’d rather turn this shit out, than in again.

Do me a solid, and leave me a comment here. Not on Facebook. Not from Twitter. I can’t even leave my house right now, there’s no way I’m looking at the rest of the bigots and and mysogynists on social media. If you’re scared, sad, depressed, or even angry, don’t be afraid to say so. We’ve got to reach out to one another today and find ways to stay strong until the shock passes.

DMC Matte Finish Floss!

Posted: November 8, 2016 by zenstitcher in Information, Stuff
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HOMG I’m dying, here… 

I love playing with texture as well as with color when I stitch. When I consider beginning any project, I’m also thinking about which flosses can be switched out for a metallic finish, or the super-saturated sheen of a silk floss, looking for where a change of texture or reflectiveness can improve the aesthetic of the design.

Imagine my delight when I opened an email promo from DMC this morning and found this:

I honestly can’t wait to get my fingers on this stuff. Each fiber I’ve ever tried has a unique “feel,” as well as a distinct sound when it’s pulled through cloth that’s been stretched tight in a hoop. These tactile pleasures are part of the experience for me as much as the visual impact of the result. Discovering something new like this in my hobby does a bit to redeem 2016 from the “crap status” ranking it so richly deserves.

Thanks, DMC.