What I’m Reading — September 2016

What I'm Reading Monthly Book Roundup

My reading slowed down in August. I only finished two books. That’s okay. Here’s what I finished:

What I’m Reading Now

What Are You Reading?

What books are your recommending lately? Tell me in the comments!

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Findings Blog Graphic


Findings is my weekly round-up of needlework, textile, books and art links from my wanderings around the web. Here are this week’s links:

Video of the Week

As soon as I saw it, I knew this was going to be the video of the week.

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WIP Weds: Stumpwork Project Update

Well, I finally picked up my stumpwork embroidery project again. Since it has been a while, as a reminder, I decided to teach myself stumpwork using this free flower pattern from The Floss Box.

Now, The Floss Box does provide a tutorial for stitching the flower petals, but I felt like I needed some additional hand-holding. I searched YouTube for tutorial videos, but mostly they were in Russian, and I started getting frustrated because I wasn’t sure how to get started with the filling stitches for the interior of the petal and I wanted to make sure I was doing it “the Right Way.”

Deep breath.

Then I saw that Craftsy was having one of its ubiquitous sales over the weekend, so I broke down and grabbed the “Stumpwork: Raised Embroidery Essentials” class for $19.99. Although I feared I was throwing 20 bucks down the drain, the class ended up being super helpful. I skipped to Lesson 5, which deals with the wire slips, and watched several portions of it over and over to see what the instructor was doing. The class helped me to get over my fear and hesitation enough to complete my first petal!

first stumpwork embroidery flower petal completed

The interior of the petal turned out fine. But, I do need to work on my buttonhole stitch for the remaining petals.

In stumpwork embroidery, everyone recommends using wrapped wire. But, when I was shopping for supplies for the project originally, I could not find wrapped wire in the right gauge, so I thought, “Pfft, I don’t really need wrapped wire. What difference does it make?” Well, it turns out it does make a difference. My wonky buttonhole stitches have gaps which allow the gleam of the metal wire to peek through the threads, which doesn’t look great. If I had been using a white wrapped wire, the gaps would not be as noticeable. Live and learn.

So, I’m going to be more careful with my buttonhole stitches for the remaining four flower petals.

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Back to School Cross-Stitch Patterns

The school buses were out again last week, and the students move back into the dorms this week at my own workplace, so I guess summer is nearly over.

I haven’t done a themed pattern round-up in a while, so I thought I would see what kinds of back-to-school cross-stitch patterns were out there. Many school-themed patterns are also calendar month patterns, especially for the month of September. Lizzie Kate alone has at least 4-5 September cross-stitch patterns that incorporate back-to-school motifs.

Here are a few of my favorite of the ones I found:

Collage of five back-to-school themed cross-stitch patterns

  1. School Days” by Mill Hill. Like most Mill Hill kits, this one incorporates lots of beading, too.
  2. Flip It Blocks September” by Lizzie Kate. The old-fashioned little red schoolhouse is a popular theme, too.
  3. Monthly Mania September” by Heart in Hand Needleart.
  4. Pen Pals No. 209 Back to School” by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I love these cute little postage stamp stitches.
  5. Lizzie Kate Yearbook September & October” by Lizzie Kate. The motifs in this one are very similar to #2 in the collage (that may even be the exact same chalkboard motif), but it has some added elements and a different arrangement.

Goodbye, Summer. Hello, Autumn, a.k.a. “pumpkin spice” season.


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Findings Blog Graphic

Life knocked me down these past couple weeks, but I’m slowly finding my way back. I look forward to catching up a bit on social media this weekend. I’ve missed seeing everyone’s projects. I’m sure I’ll be hearting a lot of posts and Instagram photos over the next few days.


Findings is my weekly round-up of needlework, textile, books and art links from my wanderings around the web. Here are this week’s links:

Video of the Week

During periods of great stress, I turn to my comfort music, which is generally music I listened to when I was a teenager. Lots of indie British bands from the late 80s and early 90s. And then there are these guys — Spirit of the West, a Canadian Celtic-inspired folk rock band, because, why not?

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Findings Blog Graphic

Findings is my weekly round-up of needlework, textile, art, and book news from my wanderings around the Internet each week. Here are this week’s links:


Video of the Week

It’s a tiny working fairground made of paper! Read more about the project here.

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Chicken Scratch Embroidery Heart Sample Completed

Last Friday afternoon the red gingham fabric I ordered for my chicken scratch embroidery project came in the mail from fabric.com.

When I was ordering it, I wasn’t sure whether to get fabric with 1/8″ squares or 1/4″ squares. The 1/8″ squares seemed awfully small to me, so I went with 1/4″ squares so I could really see the stitches on the fabric.

I cut a piece about 10″ x 10″ for this project, and I used a free chicken scratch embroidery pattern from Pegasus Originals which is available on their website.

red gingham fabric

From what I understand (and I could be totally wrong here), traditional chicken scratch consists of three basic stitches: double cross-stitch, straight running stitch, and woven circle stitch. The free heart pattern from Pegasus Originals uses only these stitches.

I started by stitching the double cross-stitches for the outline of the heart using the red floss and starting on a white square on the gingham fabric. I could have tried to stitch the double crosses and the running stitches and the woven circle stitches all together in the interior of the heart, but I decided to tackle each stitch separately. So, after I completed the double crosses in red, I stitched the double crosses in white for the inside of the heart. Next, I stitched all of the straight running stitches until I got to this point:

chicken scratch embroidery heart in progress

The pattern does not suggest specific thread colors, but I used DMC 321 for the red and DMC White for, well, the white. I also stitched using 3 strands of thread because of the size of the squares.

Finally, I stitched the woven circle stitches through all of the running stitches. The completed sample looks like this:

completed chicken scratch embroidery sample

This project worked up really fast, and it was very relaxing to do.

Although some guidelines for chicken scratch recommend using a sharp crewel needle for stitching, but I just used a size 24 tapestry needle. The gingham fabric was so thin that the needle went through easily. I didn’t have any problems. The only tricky thing was anchoring the threads on the back. I admit I may have used a knot or two out of laziness.

So, huzzah, I have my sample done well before my September guild meeting, with plenty of time to spare to iron and finish it. The hart is about 5″ square, so it may make a nice little pillow.

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What I’m Reading — August 2016

What I'm Reading Monthly Book Roundup

What I Read in July

What did I read in July? Lots of Cadfael mysteries!

  • The Leper of St. Giles by Ellis Peters. This is the fifth in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series.
  • The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters. #6 in the series.
  • Sanctuary Sparrow by Ellis Peters. This is at least the third time I have read this book. I nearly skipped it rather than read it again because I thought I would be bored by it, but this is still one of my favorites in the series and I enjoyed it very much, even the third time around.
  • The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters. #8 in the Cadfael series.
  • Dead Man’s Ransom by Ellis Peters.

I am nearly halfway through the series now, but I am taking a little break from Cadfael in August so I can read some other things.

What I’m Reading Now

What Are You Reading?

Are you reading anything good this summer? Have a new favorite you’ve been recommending to anyone who will listen? Let me know in the comments!


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Findings Blog Graphic

Findings is my weekly round-up of links from my wanderings around the web each week. Topics may include art, needlework, textiles, books, and more. Here are this week’s links:


Today I am…trying not to hit refresh every five minutes on the UPS tracking page for my fabric.com order, but I am hoping I’ll have some gingham fabric to start playing around with this weekend.

This week I’m reading…World of Interiors magazine. I’ve fallen several issues behind and I’m trying to play catch up on my subscription.

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Return of the Stumpwork Project

I did not do a lot of stitching this past week. This last weekend I finished my “I’m Late” cross-stitch model and put the final pattern together. Then I did the whole set up the photo area, take photos, take everything down and put it away again, download photos, edit photos, compile final pdf of pattern, write pattern description, upload photos, list on Etsy thing, and that takes more time than I care to admit. Maybe it will get easier with practice.

But, now I am picking up my neglected stumpwork piece which I half-heartedly started in May and haven’t touched since.

Here is where it is at now:

stumpwork embroidery project

The photo is terrible because I’m working in the basement this Tuesday evening as I write this and the lighting is awful down here. So, I apologize.

I’d like to start making some progress on these flower petals. This stumpwork project is from a free pattern from The Floss Box.

I also just ordered 2 yards of red gingham fabric from fabric.com this week. I’m going to be teaching a little workshop on chicken scratch embroidery for my guild in October, so I need to get cracking on stitching up the sample so folks can decide if they want to sign up for the class or not. The Craftsy blog has a decent introduction to chicken scratch embroidery, and I am using this free pattern from Pegasus Originals for the workshop. I got the shipping notification email Tuesday morning, so I might have something started by next week on that project, too.

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