As you can probably tell, I love counted cross stitch! Like most stitchers, I have a huge collection of purchased patterns, but I take great delight in finding new free charts. I have started this blog as a "Pay It Forward" thank you to all the generous stitchers who have provided free cross stitch charts throughout the years, from all around the world. I enjoy designing simple charts as much as I like stitching, so I will post free charts I have designed here for all to access. I hope you will enjoy the charts as much as I have enjoyed designing them and as much as I have delighted in the charts others have done!
A little something to stitch on for all those Olympic Games watchers out there. Hopefully it gives the feel of the Olympics without infringing on the copyrighted symbol of the games. Might be fun to add some sports charms inside the rings....just a thought.
Can it really be that long since I last posted? Funny how time streams along, sometimes so slow you think you will scream and then other times so quickly it's like shooting the rapids. So much in my life has changed since that last post...you think you are back on track and in control and then....suddenly you aren't! It has been a long time since I have charted a design or even stitched anything to completion, have barely even picked up a needle...but things have once again taken a turn and the stitching fever is rising again. It can sometimes recede for awhile but it is a lifelong affliction that can never be cured and will always return when the conditions are right. I am making no promises this time, I will post at will, when I can, or when I want and I will not condemn myself for failing to do more. No one puts more pressure or makes more demands of me than I do myself.
Thanks to all the lovely people who have taken time to visit my blog and especially those who have emailed me through the years and those that left comments here, sometimes I responded, sometimes I didn't. Not because I didn't want to, or didn't appreciate them but simply because depression can be very crippling, paralyzing in fact, and trying to compose an answer was just beyond my capabilities at times. Things are better right now but I know that the shadows are always lurking, waiting to creep over me again. I know now that my form of depression is genetic and will always be with me, treatable but not curable, at least for now. So I will relish the bright times and hope they keep the shadows away.
A really big change in my life has been getting married again - never saw that coming! Very happy to have found a wonderful man who treats me like a princess and seems to handle all my craziness with ease. He really lifts my spirits and manages to keep me well-grounded, which can be quite a challenge sometimes. I'm sure the happier state of mind has a lot to do with the return of stitching fever and new design ideas starting to flow once again.
I have really missed all my online stitching friends - will try to catch up on some blog reading to see what everyone has been up to - I'm way out of date on what's been going on in the stitching community but hopefully it won't take too long to get back in the swing of things.
After many months away, I have finally returned. I thought I would only be away for a few weeks while my leg healed, but I was wrong. Unfortunately, the broken leg was actually the minor part of the injury. Much worse, and much slower to heal, were the damaged ligaments and tendons in the foot and ankle. The time spent in the cast, intensified the damage and slowed the recovery. Several months of elevation, ice packs, traction, ultrasound and physical therapy have put me mostly back together again. Stairs and soft ground are still a challenge and cold damp weather brings a painful reminder, but I can walk again - most days without a limp. So definite progress!
Sadly, the emotional toll was just as great. Keeping the leg elevated enough to reduce the severe swelling made it impossible to stitch or be on the computer, or do much of anything else, for that matter. Frustration over not being able to do what I wanted to do as well as what I needed to do - watching things pile up and not get done, sent me into a major tailspin. (That is my family's name for a severe bout of depression - a lifelong affliction) Once I was physically able to get back to actually sitting at a computer again, I was completely overwhelmed at the thought of trying to go back and catch up on all the emails, blogging and exchanges that I had missed out on all those months. Work was very busy as well so I just stayed away....
I now must thank several people for my return. To all of you who have patiently waited for my return - checking back on my blog from time to time, to those who have continued to leave comments here, to those who have continued to email - even though I didn't respond, to all of you that have continued to think kindly of me in spite of it all - THANK YOU!
And special thanks to:
Beth, for telling me not to worry about catching up, that my friends would understand and just be glad to have me back, to just sit down and begin again - THANK YOU!
Beth and Carla, for a delightful weekend of stitching, laughing, shopping and fun - rekindling my love of stitching and a desire to reconnect with the stitching community and my friends - THANK YOU!
And last, but not at all least, my dear, dear friend, Monique, who went to great lengths to find me again - always there to pick me up, dust me off and give me a gentle kick in the backside to get me going again - THANK YOU!
I have much to share once again, new charts, maybe a surprise or two. I am going to go at a slower pace, not taking on so much at a time so I don't become overwhelmed again, but as I said, progress is being made. As my physical therapist said, "Baby steps, Sharon, baby steps..."
Anyone who knows me at all, will tell you that these titles are richly deserved. I excel in both areas, as my son is so quick to point out. So in typical fashion, these charts are not really finished - they are works in progress - and I will continue to work on them, but in the meantime, I thought I would post them "as is." I would love to see what all the creative stitchers out there can do with them - they cry out for buttons, beads and embellishments! Crowns for the Queen, tiaras for the Princess?
This year has been completely ridiculous! How can so many things go wrong? Becky's death left us shorthanded at work just as we hit an especially busy time, so I averaged 75 hours a week for about a month - leaving no time or energy for anything else. I managed to catch the flu. I didn't go to the doctor so I don't know if it was "swine flu" or one of the others going around so I'm calling it "piglet flu," because I had a fairly mild case, but it did take about 10 days to get over the severe cough that came with it. But I did get over it and felt much better. So much better, in fact, that I decided to get the oil changed and a headlight replaced on my vehicle. Walking through the parking lot to pick it up, I stepped in a broken spot in the pavement and severely sprained my ankle. After hobbling around on it for a week, I finally went in and had an x-ray, mostly so everyone would stop worrying about it - because it was feeling much, much better by then. So after walking into the clinic, back to the examining room, back to x-ray, back to the examining room - they inform me my leg is broken and to stop walking on it! So now I have this truly elegant new footwear:
- I know, I know, everyone is jealous and wishes they had one, too.
At least around here, the showers have been more in the form of tears than rain. This year has been a series of illness, difficulties and tragedies. But I'm going to use the power of positive thinking and declare a new beginning for May. So I'm dusting off the neglected keyboard and mouse and getting back to blogging and designing which I have truly missed. I will be trying to catch up on showing some gifts and exchanges, photos of projects others have stitched using my designs and a few surprises as well. Before I set off on my new path, however, I am going to break with my tradition of trying to keep my blog all about stitching and not about personal difficulties for just a moment....
I very recently lost a dear friend and co-worker who died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was a strong personality, bigger-than-life, so to speak, and leaves a large hole in my life. She always said what she thought, right or wrong - she stepped on feelings right and left - but you always knew that in spite of her bluntness she loved you and was always there for you when you needed her. She would sometimes ask what I was going to do for the evening and I would say I was going to go to a friend's house to stitch for awhile and she would laugh and say "BOR-ING!!" Then she would smile and say "Good-bye, dah-ling." How I will miss hearing those words. Good-bye, Becky, good-bye...
So I will pick-up the pace and do my best to be as "BOR-ING!" as possible in the days to come.
February was a short month made even shorter by the flu/virus/upper respiratory thing that has plagued me all month. I probably should have taken off work for 3 or 4 days to get over it but in this economy who can do that? So instead I dragged to work everyday (except for one - the flu won out that day!) By the time I got home from work it was straight to bed to try to recuperate enough to get through the next day so no blogging and very little email getting done. At least I didn't end up in the hospital with it like so many others have, it has just taken a long time to shake it off. So my apologies to everyone I owe emails to. I am trying once again to get caught up. :o(
I have plenty to blog about - exchanges, new charts, etc. It will just take a bit to get it all on here.
First up, though, I'll take a few minutes to answer a reader's question on stitching materials. These answers are, of course, only my opinions, for whatever that is worth.
Some stitchers are adamant about stitching only on Aida or only on linen or evenweave. I am not one of those stitchers. I refuse to be boxed in by narrowing my options for materials. I have stitched on perforated paper, burlap, canvas, vinylweave, screen, waste canvas, sweaters, afghan stitch crochet, plastic canvas, linen, evenweave and aida, etc. I've stitched with flosses, metallics, perle cottons, Retor's Matte, rayons, specialty threads, knitting yarns, crochet threads, silks etc. The point is, don't be afraid to try something new - you may really like it!
What I stitch on and with, just depends on the project I'm working on. The design of the chart or the intended use of the finished item will determine what I use.
I will say that whatever fabric or threads you use, use the best quality materials you can afford. You are spending precious time on your stitching - don't skimp on quality. Aida comes in many beautiful colors - solids, hand-dyed, opalescent, metallic, marbled, heathers, tweeds - different counts: 11, 14, 16, 18 - each count gives a totally different appearance to the fabric - but be careful of cheap brands - they may not be truly even, which may not seem to matter much in some designs but is very obvious when stitching a square design (you may be very disappointed to find your square is actually a rectangle!) The same goes for linens and other evenweaves - there are so many beautiful fabric choices these days but again, make sure that your fabric is really the same thread count in each direction to avoid rectangular squares, lopsided biscornus, etc. DMC and Anchor both produce good quality flosses (I think Anchor floss tangles a little less than DMC but I like DMC's color range better and it is more readily available, at least in my area.)
With all these beautiful choices today it is hard for me to pick an absolute favorite fabric but I usually prefer a 28ct Cashel or 32ct Belfast linen - something substantial - I don't care much for very thin, flimsy linen that is really see-through. I love stitching with silk but can't afford to stitch with it exclusively :o( so I use a lot of DMC and Weeks, Sampler Threads and Crescent Colors flosses. I can stitch over one but prefer not to. I love seeing things stitched over one thread but I personally don't enjoy stitching that way myself - it is harder for me to see and never seems smooth enough to satisfy me.
My best advice for new stitchers? Don't be afraid to experiment with different fabrics and threads but the most important thing is: Enjoy what you are doing!!! If that means stitching on Aida with silk threads then go for it! When I first started stitching I didn't even like the look of anything stitched on linen - I much preferred the look of Aida. Now I can see the beauty of both, each with its own characteristics - like comparing crocheting with knitting - similar but yet very different. If you want to try something new - all it takes is a little piece of fabric and a little floss to try out a few stitches and see what you think - see if any of your stitching friends have some small scraps of different fabrics and some leftover flosses they can share - it's a great way to get started with different materials.
If you have visited here before, you are already familiar with Candace and her remarkable finishing skills! I have been privileged to share her stitching and finishing of several of my simple designs and in each instance she has made them shine far brighter than I ever could have! She has finally taken the blogging plunge and I hope everyone will take time to visit her new blog and leave her a comment so she will know you were there! Prepare to be amazed!