Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspired . . .

I had a plan. I knew the only way I was going to get anything done this past Summer with the children home was to be very organized. I knew I wouldn't have much time to create; I also knew I couldn't spend any of that time looking for things to create with. So last Spring I spent two days sorting, folding, labeling, cataloging, putting like with like, and bundling projects together . . . and it stayed that way most all Summer long (yeah me!). Then came the start of the school year, dance lessons, the rush of the holidays . . . you know what it's like.

Just the other day my husband was running around the house looking for some paperwork. I had it tucked away in a folder for him. I know where my daughter's glasses are and my sons' homework. I can recite everyone's schedules and can rattle off an inventory of our entire kitchen pantry. I know the amounts and due dates of all of our bills and can tell you what we're having for dinner a week in advance. Of course I spent three hours this past weekend looking for my prairie cloth. I did find it (eventually) but had managed to make an even bigger mess in the process. Mina, my two year old, helped a good deal in that department. I find burlap rather itchy; she couldn't stop rubbing it on her feet :)

I'd long since given up the idea I was going to sew up the doll that afternoon and instead gathered everything I had found before I found my prairie cloth and organized it in this little tote. I think it's time for another sorting. Hopefully, I'll be much more productive afterwards and even if I'm not is there a downside to spending a few days admiring all my goodies? I find things I forgot I had and I get a fresh perspective on things I see every day. I will most certainly be inspired to create and with a little bit of luck be able to find the things I want to create with!


Jennie Lynn

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My husband is sneaky . . .

My husband is quite sneaky. My Valentine's present along with these lovely flowers and some chocolates (most of which were eaten long before I could take a photo of them) was the BBC Series The Hour on DVD. Though my husband and I watch BBC America quite a bit I had never intended to watch this particular show. It was complete happenstance I turned on that first episode one evening this past Summer but within the first fifteen minutes I had already decided I was staying up late that night to watch the remaining episodes through our cable company's "on demand" service. I enjoy the show very much and of course had to start watching it that very evening. Now for the sneaky part . . .

Most evenings my husband and I watch television together I'm stitching, so he's relegated to his side of the sofa, opposite me. Now he knows that The Hour is a show I enjoy so much I will not stitch during it, leaving my lap free of linens and threads and available for him to rest his head in. The series is six episodes affording him at least three nights of my running my fingers through his hair instead of stitching. Sneaky. This isn't the first time he's done it either. We seem to have a growing collection of movies and television shows that I will not stitch while watching. Sneaky, sneaky. My husband rarely comes right out and says what he's feeling (he says it's a by-product of being British) but I think this is his way of saying he's jealous of my stitching. His most recent attempt to rid himself of his rival will most likely affect my productivity over the next week but to be honest I would much rather snuggle with my husband than stitch most any night. Just don't tell him that . . . there's a few more DVD's I'd like to add to our collection first ;)


Jennie Lynn

Monday, February 13, 2012

Young love . . .

I'm sorry I've been so quiet lately but it was chaos last week and this week is shaping up along those same lines. Unfortunately, I have nothing in the way of stitching to share, but thought this was appropriate for Valentine's Day.

Between my two sons I never would have imagined Benjamin to be the first to experience "puppy love". He's always been a bit of a loner, happy in his solitude, showing the most affection to his lovey, a stuffed puppy he's had since he was a baby. We were all a bit surprised when he started talking about a little girl in his class named Lily. Given the smile on his face whenever he spoke of her it was obvious to all of us she was special. Their friendship has grown over the last several months, on the school play ground, across the school lunch table and during play dates and birthday parties. Last month Lily helped his choose the guests for his birthday party and just last week Benjamin came home from school with "I [heart] Lily" scrawled on his arm. She wrote it for him, apparently. Whoever gets to school first will wait for the other at the door so they can walk in together, usually holding hands, but only after they hug. At the end of the day Benjamin holds the door open for her as they leave the school. I asked him awhile back if Lily was pretty. He giggled and said he didn't know how to tell if she was pretty. I told him that someone is pretty if looking at them makes you smile. He said, then yes, Lily was very pretty.

The picture above is of a Christmas card from Lily to Ben. On the inside she has written:

Dear, Ben

Mary Christmas you'r my B-frend. I love you. xoxoxoxo Lily

Benjamin made a point of showing me that there were four xo's at the bottom of the page and telling me that those meant hugs and kisses.

This photo is of one of Ben's writing project from right before Christmas. For those of you who find it difficult to decipher the handwriting of an 8 year old I will translate:

I love to make Lilian smile. I make her smile when we play together, when I tikle her and when we have fun together. I love to make people smile.

I know he's only 8 years old but I think he has the right idea. Who knew so much could be learned from the love letters of children? Is there really any greater joy than making someone you love smile? My son already knows that joy and I hope he carries that with him always. If there's anything I have learned about marriage it's that there are so many things that can get in the way of that feeling, that obscures the purity of just making someone you love smile. I have to thank Benjamin for reminding me of it . . . .


Jennie Lynn

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A free pattern and extreme aging technique

I've had an idea for awhile now . . . I wanted to stitch a sampler that looked old . . . really old. I began fussing with some scrap linen and a block of sandpaper. Yes, sandpaper, 180 grit. I use the same block when sanding my make-dos and dolls and what have you. I figured it would work on cross stitch linen just as well. After some trial and error I finally happened upon a technique that gave me the look I wanted. I lightly sanded the entire piece of linen in a single direction. I didn't want to put any holes in it (yet) I just wanted to thin the linen so it looked more worn. I then focused my attention on a few spots. I sanded in a single direction (either up or down or side to side, but not both) until I began to wear through the linen. Fair warning, my table looked as though a large dog had shedded its' entire coat onto it :)

Here is a closeup of the tears in the linen.

I continued sanding until I was happy with the amount of wear on the linen. I found that the side I sanded looked "fuzzy" no matter how many times I took my lint roller to it so I chose to use the backside. I sat down and began stitching, keeping the design simple. I intentionally avoided stitching too near to the holes in the linen but couldn't avoid it when I began stitching the border. I simply kept stitching until I reached the hole and then left the thread hanging. Of course I could have stitched a design first and then sanded but I like to look of "missing" stitches. When the sampler was finished I gave it a light wash in my black walnut dye and then brushed on more dye focusing around the worn areas. I thought ahead and stitched using DMC thread, fearing that the hand dyed threads might bleed. Now that I think on it, that might have given it an even more aged appearance. Hmmmm, perhaps next time.

Now, I wouldn't do this to a sampler that I had spent a great deal of time working on, but personally I adore the look of this piece. It looks lovely displayed. Throughout the day it's followed me from my bedroom, into the living room, and is now resting in the family room. It looks so sweet no matter where I toss it. I wouldn't drape a genuine antique sampler over a box on my mantel or lay it across a few books on an end table but this piece just belongs nestled amongst other prims.

I charted the little sampler and am offering it as a free pattern. Of course you are welcome to stitch it however you like, but I would suggest trying this technique if you enjoy the look, and be sure to let me know how it turns out.

If you would like to download the free pattern you can find it on my Free Pattern page, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link below the photo of the finished piece. As always, if you have any trouble downloading the PDF file simply e-mail me and I can send it to you.

Our youngest is turning two next weekend so it will most certainly be a busy week, but hopefully I'll have a finish to show you soon. Until then, happy stitching.


Jennie Lynn