Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm back!

OMG, has it really been that long since I last posted on my blog.  It's not that I have nothing to say, so many things fly through my brain, especially when I am in the shower.  It's just that I never manage to get them down on paper, or should I say keyboard.
Earlier this month I attended the Columbus TNNA, The National Needleworks Assocation, with Monika.  This is a huge trade show for Knitting, Needlepoint, and some Counted Thread.  We had a great time touching base with many of our suppliers and seeing what they had new for the market.

It is an overwhelming and exhausting experience.  Visually you are bombarded with new fibres, both feel and colour selections; a multitude of fabulous hand painted canvases; finishing techniques, and finished models.  Logically I am confronted with the fact that I can not have it all in the shop and must make hard decisions based on space and what will appeal to our stitchers.

And then there is the sheer size of the market.  On the first day we didn't even complete 1/3 of the booths.  So on the second day we had to put it into high gear, and we did manage to peek at every booth.

All in all, I think we ordered some wonderful new patterns, and added some new must have gadgets and fibres to our inventory.
Some of what we had ordered is slowly trickling in, and just today the new Mill Hill kits for Christmas have arrived.  Visit our What's New page, as some have already been posted and the others will go up as they arrive.

I was also inspired with many needlepoint canvases and Rainbow Galleries pattern of the month collection.

As we had done many years ago, we will stitch up, finish and kit one of these patterns each month starting in July.

Here is a sneak peek at the colours and fibres we used for the first mini stocking.

Come back in July to see the finished project.  A limited number of kits will available in the shop and on-line.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Colour Sense

At the end of January I had tweeted about wanting to start the June pattern in the 2015 Cross Stitch & Needlework Calendar.  I had been looking for my next needlepoint project, and was completely taken with this design.  Although intended for cross stitch, but being composed of only full stitches, it would be very easy for me to needlepoint.
I converted the floss colours to tapestry wool and cut a 10 count mono canvas.  I went home that night quite excited to start something new.  Two weeks later I couldn't understand why I had not yet put needle to canvas. 
As I discussed this with a friend, she had pointed out that those were not in my usual colour choices.  I think  I had originally chosen the vibrant pinks and greens, to pull me out of the winter blahs and dream of a spring that still seemed far away.  However, having wanted to finish this pattern into a needlepoint pillow, I think in the back of my mind I could also not picture it anywhere in my home.  So I converted the colours to the colours I love - teal and muddy olive (usually referred to by me as puky) green.

I've been stitching every night since then.  This is how far I got on my first evening.  Viewing my progress in daylight the next morning, I was unsatisfied with the lighter two greens.  I continued with the flowers, but selected new shades of green when I was back in the shop.
It's now been 3 weeks and here is my progress.  I think that by the end of this week I will be done, with the stitching that is.

Stitching Tip:  The background was not composed of only one colour.  There are defined areas of 3 colours.  Rather than following each symbol and counting row by row, I  stitched the border around each area and then simply filled it in.  This is a great idea for several reasons.
One -  if you miscount, there is less to unpick and less fibre wastage.
Two - you only have to concentrate while stitching around the edge.
Three - when filling in each area, you can pay more attention to the TV, movie, or conversation.

This can be applied to smaller areas as well.  Try it on your next project.  If cross stitching, you can also only stitch the bottom stitch of your cross and later complete the stitches by going over them with the top portion of the cross stitch.  This is only a suggestion if working with solid coloured threads.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Chocolate... Resistance is futile

The following words of wisdom are not mine, but I have been known to quote similar ones.   I received these in an email from a close friend, and wanted to share them with all of you. 

These "45 lessons life has taught me"  were originally written by Regina Brett in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate getting older.  She is now 90 and once again shared them with her readers. They are a great outlook on life, and definitely words we should live by.  With the hustle & bustle of our daily routines we tend to forget them.
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Here's another one I would add to the list
Friends are the family that we choose.

Wouldn't some of these look great in cross stitch / needlepoint?  My preference would be to needlepoint them into a pillow. I have charted one of these, and will add the chart to my "when I have time" or "when I'm retired" pile of patterns.

I have listed some fibre suggestions, but they are strictly suggestions.  Let your creativity soar and make it your own.  As for the buttons, Just Another Button Company has Chocolate treat buttons as does Dress It Up.  The later ones are wearable shank buttons and will not break, so they may be better suited for a pillow. 

We carry both button lines in the shop.

Here is the package that I would use.  It is by Dress It Up buttons, #6544 "Decadence" (how fitting)

This package is only $3.95 

If any of you beat me to stitching this chart, I would love to see it. 
And if you have any other words of wisdom, please share. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.  May 2015 be a great year and bring you everything you are hoping and wishing for.  Hoping the year brings both small and large pleasures that warm our hearts, bring a smile to our face and that we appreciate and are content with everything we have.

Over the past few days, I have found myself not only wondering of what the new year holds, but also looking and reminiscing over my past.  Yes, just as most people, I have encountered both ups and downs, but through them all I have never questioned the love of my parents.  With my mothers death, I have already shared much of her with you,  including my favourite photo of the two of us in my August 7th, 2013 blog.

I also have such a photo with my Dad.  This was obviously taken when I was quite young.  At the time it was just a day of fun in the playground with my Dad, my uncle (the photographer) and my cousins.  The women probably having kicked the husbands and kids out of the house while they were busy in the kitchen. Looking at the photo today, and knowing my Dad as the person he is, I see a man holding and supporting his child, protecting her from harm.  My Dad has always protected, loved and made me into the person I am today.

One of his most important life lessons to my sister and me was to always stand tall and be proud of who you are.

I know he is proud of me, I just hope he knows how much I love him.  He is honourable and proud, tough and loving, supportive, wise, and strong.

So my New Year's message to you this year is to forget all those silly resolutions which we break as quickly as we make them.  Instead treasure those that are close to you and love you for who you are.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

December has just flown by, and I can't believe my last post was before Gitta's Christmas Open House.  The Open House was wonderful, with many regulars and a few new stitchers dropping by to share the day with us.   Click here to visit my facebook page and see some of the photos I posted from that day.

I know not everyone is able to drop by the shop, so I would like to extend a small (although now belated) Christmas gift to everyone visiting my blog.  Every year, for the past several years, I have designed and kitted a reindeer, that we then gifted at the Open House.  Click here for your copy of this year's reindeer.

I hope your Christmas was festive, and memorable.  I hope you were able to share some special time with family and friends.  Spending time with those we hold near and dear in our hearts, is what the Christmas season is all about for me.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 5, 2014

Annual Christmas Open House

Gitta's Annual Christmas Open House
Saturday, December 6th, 2014
10am - 4pm

Looking forward to seeing everyone able to join us for some Christmas Cheer.
As in previous years we  will have nummies, goodies,and sales

As well as the reveal of my newest Reindeer ornament

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our Front Addition

With it being 14 degrees Celsius today, it was the perfect day to scrape the stucco residue and clean the construction grime off our windows.  We are so pleased the way our front addition developed and it has completely changed the appearance of our house. 

This is a picture of what our house looked like back in May before we started everything; before we cut down my pine tree, before we dug up all the bushes, before the bricks and flagstone path were removed.

And here is a picture of what the house looks today, after I finished cleaning the windows.

Extending the front of our house seemed to drag on forever.  There was extra work in the front that we did not have to deal with in the back, and weather conditions were not as ideal as when we worked on the back.  In fact it was only last week that the new front door and the last of the fascia trim were installed. 

Just as our rear addition had begun, we first dug out the basement.  However, in the front we also had to dig out and break up the cement block that supported our walk-in bay window.  When David installed the bay window 20 years ago, we never thought that one day we would be doing all this. So at the time, to support the bay window he simply dug a whole (5 feet deep by 8 feet wide) and filled it with gravel and cement.

The garage also had to be under pinned. And before the footing could be poured an opening had to be cut into the, solid, poured concrete basement wall to connect the existing basement to the new. With the rear addition the basement was a block wall, much easier to cut.  A new sewer pipe with back-up valve also had to be installed.

Finally, we were ready for the brick layers to return and build the block wall.  Just as it was done in the back,  the blocks were filled with cement, the outer edge of the wall was waterproofed, blue shielded and wrapped.  The back-fill this time, however, was gravel.
One more step before the framers could get started was to build the frame for the cold room ceiling.  This was then filled with cement, 8" thick.  The cement had to cure slowly so not to crack.  So over a 5 day period we watered it every day. 

Beams were installed to support the new structure.  First in the basement to support the first floor, and then one to support the second floor.

Another set back with the front addition was the demolition of our old roof line.  In the back, David had done a lot of the demolition himself before we had even begun.  We also had more rain days over the course of the front addition, so much time was spent tarping the house.
But the framers did an awesome job and framed up both floors rather quickly.

Next was the roof.  With the two gables, the front, again, was much more involved.

With the size of the roof, and rain again looming, it was all hands on deck to ice and water shield the roof.  The shingling was then done sometime later, taking about 3 days. 
While the guys were busy on the roof, one of the brick layers was back bricking up the front and sides of the house.
Next was installing the remainder of the windows.  These all had to be installed before our stucco guy, Stan, could get started on the front.  He was busy with the back and sides while the framers were working on the front. 
We reused all of our front windows, having only to order 4 new windows for along the side of the house.

Our bay window will now be my Dad's, in his living room.

Stan seemed to manage attaching all the styrofoam base and applying the first coat of stucco.

October brought us a lot of rain delays.  The final coat of stucco needed 5 hours to dry, a day to cure and temperatures above 5 degrees Celsius.  With no other options, we ended up tarping the house yet again to take advantage of the warmer days.

The final coat also required more guys, as it must be applied quickly before it dries.  With Stan's crew, being busy on other jobs, they applied the final coat in the evenings.

Before the scaffolding was removed, the aluminum guys quickly installed the fascia trim, soffit and eaves-trough.  David also used this opportunity to install the soffit lighting.

With the installation of our new front door scheduled for the end of November, David had to remove our old door and re-frame the new larger opening.
With the temperatures being so cold, David had the brilliant idea to board up and insulate the entrance.  This way he could take his time, without worrying about the temperature outside.  The installers also appreciated working in these conditions.

With the front boarded up, the door was brought in through our side door,  This photo also gives you a glimpse of the construction zone that is still on the inside of our house.

After only a few hours,  here is our new front door.

Even though we were held up by weather through October and most of November, we are weather tight for the winter.  A few outside finishes will now have to wait until Spring, such as the final stucco coat (only cosmetic) and the fascia on the rear addition.  The front entrance also still needs the styrofoam attached and to be stuccoed. 

Phew, the same way I was happy to see the completion of he addition, I am also happy to finally finish this post.  What am I saying, the outside of the addition may be done for this year, but we still have much to finish on the inside and then there is still the landscaping. 
Oh well, one stepping stone at a time.