Thursday, December 12, 2019

Every Year. . .

Aside from wrapping up this month's FLOCK bird block shipment this week, I'm also wrapping-up a year-long project that I've hinted at here and there this year.

If you are a long-standing Good Migrations subscriber, then you know that years and years ago, I started a tradition to include a hand-made Christmas ornament in my holiday greeting cards each year.

Last year, I had the foresight to start early and avoid the typical it's-Thanksgiving-and-I-don't-even-have-my-ornaments-started-yet brown-bag-breathing panic mode.

Since that early-start concept worked out pretty well to keep panic-mode at bay in 2018. I started the 2019 ornaments way back in January.

Since the 2019 version of my greeting-card stuffer ornaments are fairly labor-intensive, I made it a goal to complete one per week throughout the year, usually starting on Sunday, finishing the ornament that day or a day or two later.

The pattern involves some pretty traditional elements of Hardanger embroidery. Something I didn't even know existed until I saw it in Eastern Europe a couple years ago on vacation.
Like most traditional Hardanger, the framework for the ornaments starts with a series of kloster blocks (satin stitches grouped in fives). Around that, I added blanket stitches encircling the entire ornament.

I did these two steps in traditional white thread, then experimented with some variegated threads in a couple shades and weights for the ornaments. 

Next I added a diamond of cable stitching. I've also seen this stitch called faggoting. Then a variation of a diagonal eyelit - or four of them clustered in the center

Then I added more eyelets in the square spaces created by the kloster blocks and blanket stitching.

I used the same thread that I used for the eyelets in the center.

Next comes the hard part - at least it's the hardest part the first time you do it.

Because Hardanger stitching is pulled tightly, it creates gaps in the stitchery fabric at the stitch edge.

Trim away the excess fabric by nestling small, sharp fabric scissors right over that line of gaps in the fabric. Then cut.

I tried not to cry when I was doing this. It helps to have clear vision for this step. Visions of a pile of threads are hard to eradicate.

And there you have it.

Traditional Hardanger doesn't necessarily have a back. Although, since this is a tree ornament, I did pair up a few of them, and stitched all the way around the outside edge with fine thread, to join two one-sided ornaments back to back. Since that doubled the work, most of the ornaments are one-sided, and I simply tried to keep the back of each one tidy as I buried thread ends.

From there, I added a hanging thread, and these are ready to stuff in my Christmas cards.

Wa la! (wink!)

I just realized I'm out of postage stamps! Better get to the Post Office before they Holiday rush--I may have missed that window!-- So much for planning ahead!

I made a few variations of the ornament. Different color combinations; different sizes. The 'January' ornaments are larger than the 'November' ornaments. Somewhere along the way, I had a facepalm moment - these would take less time to make if they were smaller!

There are about 40 ornaments ready to go in this basket.

I realize that I ran through those details pretty quickly. For those interested in a more in-depth close up of the step-by-step process I used to create my ornaments, I'll be adding a new module with much more detail to the Stitchery Crossover group this week!

Not to mention this new little winter project inspired by a cross stitch chart from the current issue of Cross Stitcher. I want to try my crossover technique with something other than square blocks. This heart-shaped project will be a real test. You can join the fun over in the Stitchery Crossover group, if you like.

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, December 5, 2019

After Turkey

The holidays can be great fun, don't you think. Last Wednesday, after finishing up a few things at my desk, I got down to the real business of making pies for a family Thanksgiving get-together.

Each year, we head to my in-laws, usually Dave's brother's place about an hour's drive away. But this year, thanks to a little goof-up by the local power company, something went wrong with some repairs to the power lines leading to John's house, and while there was no catastrophic damage, nearly all his electronics were 'fried.' I suppose if you're a fan of football on Thanksgiving that *could* be considered catastrophic.

Anyway, the turkey venue was changed to Dave's sister's family home. A little further away, but no big deal. The weather was clear and good to drive.

Unfortunately, Harley (my brother-in-law's red-haired golden retriever) had restricted access to the house. As you can see, he's playing up the sympathy card from the porch with his pathetic glare. Don't worry, he got some frisbee play time.

My job, was to bring desserts. I made the typical holiday fare - pumpkin and apple using my mom's recipes for pies and crusts.

And also went a bit non-traditional with the chocolate thing you see up front.

I found the recipe for the Dutch roll cream pie in a foodie magazine. I hadn't made this one before, and it was a big hit!

Simple, too! Here's what I did:

Cut about 1 and 1/2 boxes of Ho-ho's into 1/2" slices and lined the sides and bottom of a 9" spring form pan. Made 3 packages of instant chocolate pudding and poured it onto the Ho-ho shell. Then topped with one container of defrosted whipped topping (cool whip). The chocolate bits that fell off the sliced Ho-ho's were reserved to sprinkle on the top. 

Super easy, and a HUGE hit!

Thank thank you to Bob and Julia, our friends who made their way to their winter home in Florida before they could use their season tickets for the last home football game of the season. We were the lucky recipients of their tickets for the final home game on Saturday.

I'm sorry to say that the Syracuse Orangemen (my alma mater) football team has had a less-than-stellar season this year.

However, this last game was one for the memory books!

By the end of the game, the score was tied. 30-30. In college ball, that means overtime - one possession for each team until one team scores more than their opponent.

It wasn't looking good for our Orangemen! Wake Forrest (the opponent) was about to score a touchdown for the win!

But an exciting, heart-stopping play leading to a 97 yard dash for a touchdown locked down the game and the season with a win! It's hard to read, but the final score in the picture above is Wake Forest 30, Syracuse 39.

Yay!! (Are you a WF fan? Sorry, not sorry! *wink!*)

Win or lose, the graduating seniors make a final lap around the field after the last home game to greet fans and receive a heart-felt send off.

A nice tradition, made even more sweet with an unexpected WIN!

That's probably more football than you wanted or needed, and more than I typically share. (Thanks for indulging me!)

In other news, this week has been full of stuff I can't fully share. For example, I've been putting the final touches on the December FLOCK kits (the bird remains secret until it arrives in mail boxes) that will ship next week. Have you been considering joining The FLOCK? If so, now would be an especially good time to start your collection.

The photo above is a sneaky peek of the secret December bird, and just between you and me, this month's kit will include a special little giftie, just because. Are you in?

In other stitchy news, things are moving right along inside the members-only Stitchery Crossover area of the Hummingbird Highway website.

Are you a member? Check out the latest info. (Log in required)

If you're not a member and would like more info CLICK HERE and scroll through for the deets!

I know that for some of us, these few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can get a little crazy. My holiday season wish for you is that you take a moment to experience the magic of the season. Take in a holiday concert or movie, prepare something decadent for yourself or to share, enjoy the company of friends and family.

And just breathe!

Happy Stitching