Monday, December 22, 2008

Stitching, Baking, and Waiting for Santa

The cards and packages have been mailed, the decorations are done, and the presents are wrapped. It's time to settle down and cross-stitch while I watch It's a Wonderful Life and wait for Santa.

I'm stitching a sampler by Blue Ribbon Designs called "Peppermint Twist":

I don't do many samplers but I found the Christmas colors and motifs irresistible! So far I've only done the poinsettias in the upper left corner. I'm stitching on linen called Wood Smoke and the color actually looks like this photo. It's 40 count (i.e., 40 "squares" per inch). You stitch over two squares, so it works out to 20 stitches per inch. This is the smallest linen I've ever worked on and I really like it! I use a magnifier, so it's not hard at all -- and I only need to use one strand of floss.

Speaking of needle work, I haven't yet blogged about our most recent needle felting class on embellishment. The class was taught by Deb (from Stitches 'n' Things) Dec. 13 and I attended with stitching buddies Laurie and Sue. We started the class by wet-felting a Christmas ornament; the rest of the class was devoted to embellishing a sweatshirt with felting. (If you've never heard of needle felting or want more info, refer to Needle Felting Basics.)

Wet felting was what I always thought of as felting. We used hot water to shrink the wool over a styrofoam ball, then embellished it with layers of sparklie floss or textured ribbons and more wool. It was fun and I really like my purply ornament, but wet felting involves lots of pressing and rolling which didn't help my tendonitis.

Embellishing the sweatshirt with needle felting was fun! Here's my finished product:

This is much like the shirt Deb made and used in the class description. When I told Mom about the class and showed her Deb's shirt, she said she wanted a shirt just like Deb's, so that's what I made her for Christmas. (Yes, she knows about it, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it before Christmas.)

I cut open the front of the shirt, then trimmed off the ribbing at the neck, cuffs, and hem. I used a stencil to create the flower-and-vine pattern then felted the raw edges. It went amazing fast and I'm very pleased with the result! The shirt is easy to care for, too: just toss it in the washer and dryer.

By the way, if you want to try needle felting, I don't recommend working about Siamese cats (even mixed breeds) who are notoriously attracted to wool. Sophie, my Siamese Snowshoe, tried to help with felting the raw edges and was really miffed when I wouldn't let her lay on the shirt, suck on the already felted portions of the shirt, or play with the wool roving.

Tomorrow I plan to stay home and do more stitching when I'm not baking. I'm making a Red Velvet Cake for my brother's birthday (it was the 19th but we'll celebrate it on Christmas Eve at our family Christmas party). It's been a long time since I made a cake from scratch and I hope it turns out OK! If it doesn't, I'll still have time to get to the bakery before Christmas Eve. :) If I have enough energy left after the cake, I might also make my grandma's date cookies (very similar to this recipe).

Whatever you are doing to celebrate the holidays, I hope you are having peaceful, relaxing Christmas season!

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