Weekend Links — 11/18/17

Another week has gone by already. Here’s this week’s round-up of needlework, art, and book news from around the web:


Video of the Week

The month of gratitude songs continues with “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant.

Posted in Creative News and Links | Tagged ,

Finished Cross-Stitch Christmas Ornaments

So, I have not had much time for stitching recently, but I did have to finish some pieces in order to turn them in for my local embroidery guild for the guild’s annual holiday display at the community center where we meet.

I ended up finishing four Prairie Schooler ornaments from the “Evergreen” chart that I have been stitching.

First, here is the deer from that set that I finished stitching about a week ago:

Prairie Schooler cross-stitch deer Christmas ornament

I think he’s cute, but I know some folks don’t care for the, er, point-of-view.

After I finished stitching the deer, I had four pieces from the Prairie Schooler chart completed. Here are the four cross-stitch pieces I decided to finish into ornaments last weekend:

four Prairie Schooler Evergreen Christmas ornaments

My guild requests that every member contribute at least three pieces to the annual display, so I was happy I completed enough stitching to be able to finish a little over the minimum.

I decided to do a simple flat-backed finishing with felt, which is how The Prairie Schooler often finishes the ornaments in the chart photos. It’s really quick to do, and it looks nice. I trimmed the fabric, cut out my templates from matte board, laced and glued everything together, let it sit overnight, and ended up with these finished ornaments:

Prairie Schooler Evergreen cross-stitch Christmas ornaments

I love how they turned out, and I turned them in at my guild meeting this past week for the display. That’s the only thing that makes me sad — although I’m glad they’ll be in the display, I’m sad that I won’t be able to enjoy them on my own Christmas tree this year.

I am going ahead and stitching the rest of the ornaments from the set, though. Here is my start on the other Santa in the group from the “Evergreen” chart:

Santa cross-stitch start

I don’t know if I’ll get any finished into ornaments in time to hang on my tree this year, but we’ll see.

I would also like to make some progress on my boutis scissors case. I did buy a couple of thimbles, but I have not had a chance to try them yet. I hope to share those adventures in a future post.

Posted in Cross-Stitch and Needlework | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Weekend Links — 11/11/17

Not much sewing going on around here the past couple of weeks. I need to do some catch-up this weekend, but I have had numerous personal commitments after work recently that have kept me from my stitching.

Anyways, here’s this week’s round-up of needlework, art, and book news from around the web:


Video of the Week

Continuing the month of gratitude songs with “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. Fair warning: This song makes me weepy, too.

Posted in Creative News and Links | Tagged ,

What I’m Reading — November 2017

Every month I share what books I finished last month and what I’m reading now. I also love to hear what others are reading. Share your own book recommendations in the comments or friend me on Goodreads!

What I'm Reading--Nov 2017

Finished in October

October still had a lot of stress/comfort reads. I finished the Harry Potter series (again) and even read some Winnie-the-Pooh. But, I also read a couple of more serious titles, too.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. This series is so good. I laughed and cried all over again.
  • Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell. I purchased this audiobook in one of my “I’m going to read all of the classics that I didn’t read in college” moods, and, well, I finally read it. This adaptation is very accessible and enjoyable, and Gilgamesh is a much shorter–and much stranger–story than I expected.
  • The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins. One thing you need to know about me — I love self-help books. I read a lot of them. This one was okay. It started off strong, but some of the later parts felt like filler. I read this in audiobook format, and I did enjoy Robbins’ narration. It was like listening to your own personal coach. She didn’t sound like she was reading; it just sounded like she was talking to you. And, I have been using the “5-second rule” to get some things done recently.
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. Somehow I had never read this delightful collection of children’s poems before. Sweet, quirky, and very British.
  • The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. I listened to this in audiobook format, and it was so much fun to hear it read aloud. Peter Dennis did a wonderful job with the narration.

Reading Now

  • Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories by Flannery O’Connor. It’s book club time again. Reading this one for my church book club. I love Flannery O’Connor, but, wow, her stories pack such a punch.
  • Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists by Courtney Martin. I’m reading this for work. I’ve been teaching an introduction to college course this semester at the university where I am a librarian, and this is the “common reader” this year that all of the freshmen are required to read. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would.


Here’s what I read a year ago. I was deep into the Cadfael mystery series then.

What are you reading right now? I’d love to get your recommendations in the comments!

Posted in Books and Reading | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Friday Finds — 11/3/17

Friday Finds is my weekly round-up of needlework, art, and book news from around the web.

It’s nearly 10pm here in chilly Chicago, but it’s still Friday, so let’s share some links.


Here are this week’s links:


Video of the Week

I will be sharing my favorite gratitude songs all this month. I’ve had this on repeat today because it’s been that kind of week. Hard to listen to this without getting teary.


Posted in Creative News and Links | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Halloween Cross-Stitch Patterns Inspiration

Halloween is one of the most popular subjects for cross-stitch patterns. I am guessing that it is second only to Christmas!

Although you can find hundreds of amazing Halloween cross-stitch patterns, I picked a few that caught my eye for this Halloween-themed cross-stitch pattern collage.


  1. When Witches Go Riding” by The Prairie Schooler. The Prairie Schooler has so many wonderful Halloween designs, but this one is one of my favorites.
  2. October 31” by Kathy Barrick. I love the variegated colors of the pumpkins.
  3. Boo House” by Mill Hill. Mill Hill also has many Halloween-themed beaded cross-stitch kits. I love the witch button embellishment in this one.
  4. A Spirited Mandala” by Ink Circles. The longer you look, the more you see. Ghosts and pumpkins and black cats and more!
  5. Halloween Night” by Heart in Hand Needleart. This pattern is so charming.
  6. Halloween Cat” by Satsuma Street. I love the bold color palette Satsuma Street uses. Great retro-inspired modern design.

I haven’t done a lot of browsing of patterns recently, so it was fun to see the variety of what is available. These were just a few that I was tempted to add to my shopping cart. Maybe I’ll do some Halloween stitching in time for next year!

Posted in Cross-Stitch and Needlework | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Weekend Links — 10/28/17

Well, hello there. We made it through another week. The weather has turned cold in Chicago, and I am fighting off a cold that keeps threatening to take over. I’m barely winning, for now. So, let’s stay inside and read stuff on the Internet! 😃😃

Here is my weekly round-up of needlework, art, and book news from around the web:


Video of the Week

This song has been stuck in my head all day…



Posted in Creative News and Links | Tagged , | 2 Comments

WIP Weds: Boutis Progress and Ornament Stitching

I have a quick update on the boutis scissors case embroidery project. I am still working on the running stitches around the edges of the pattern. I have completed the three circles that will form the flap of the scissors case, and I have finished stitching two out of the three border lines around the body of the scissors case.

Here are the photos:

First, here is an overview of the project. It is difficult to see the completed stitching in this photo so some close-up details follow.


The blue transfer pen that I used has bled a little into the fabric. I sincerely hope it will still wash out completely. If it doesn’t, I will be very sad.

Here’s a closeup of the circle area. You can make out the running stitches better in this picture:


I am definitely faster with the running stitch now, and the stitches are kind of/sort of/mostly even-ish…Heh.

Here’s the backside of the same area:


The trickiest part is starting and ending the threads between the layers of fabric so that the knots and ends don’t show. I broke the thread at one point trying to pull the knot into the fabric.

Also, I am finding that I can only work on this for short periods of time because I do not own a thimble and the tiny, pointed quilting needle pokes into my forefinger repeatedly, and I can only take so much of that in one evening.

So, when I have to put the boutis project down, I’ve been picking up my little cross-stitch ornament and adding some stitches to Ms. Deer:


Next week I hope to have the running stitches finished, and I would like to make a good start on stitching the broken lines in the body of the scissors case. Those are all supposed to be backstitched. And, I might have to break down and buy a thimble.

Happy stitching!

Posted in Cross-Stitch and Needlework | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Friday Finds — 10/20/17

Friday Finds is my weekly round-up of needlework, art, and book news from around the web.


Here are this week’s links:


Video of the Week

One of my happy songs…

Posted in Creative News and Links | Tagged , | 4 Comments

New Start — Boutis Scissors Case

My stitchy bug is still off buzzing around somewhere, but I have started a new project. I have started stitching a boutis scissors case from a kit. This is a class that is being taught at my embroidery guild.

Boutis is a form of quilted needlework from France. I found a brief description of the technique here, but this video on the Threads website is a great crash course in the technique, too.

Here’s a photo of what the completed scissors case will look like when completed from the kit insert:


The first step is to transfer the pattern onto the fabric and then baste the main fabric and the second layer of fabric together.

Here is my transferred pattern for the scissors case:


The pattern has a lot of little lines! I used a ruler to try to keep the lines as even as possible. I had a harder time with the circle end, so my circles are a bit wonky.

Once I had transferred the pattern, I could start stitching. You use a simple running stitch along all of the solid edges in the pattern. Although it is difficult to see in the photo because I am stitching with yellow thread on yellow fabric, I start my running stitches around the circles. Here is an extreme close-up of what it look like on the backside:


These are tiny, tiny little stitches. And, yes, it’s a bit wonky, but my stitches are getting more even as I go along and get used to it.

I have a lot of stitching ahead of me! Then even more challenges await before it’s done. I’m trying to get as much completed as I can before our November meeting. Fingers crossed that I can make some progress on this project over the next couple of weeks.

Karen J. of Averyclaire is teaching the class, and she has more examples of boutis on her website. Plus, she sells the kits on Etsy if you’re up for a challenge!


Posted in Cross-Stitch and Needlework | Tagged , , | 7 Comments