Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making Progress...

Quick update...

I've worked a little more on Hillside Samplings' Hillside School of Handwork...the vine that makes up the border is done; I need to finish stitching the flowers.  The alphabet went in this week too...

Wish I had more to share but it has been a busy week and a busy weekend!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

And the Winner...

... of the LHN Autumn Band Sampler chart is.....PAT M!

Pat, please send me your snail mail address.  My email is in my profile.  Thanks!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fabulous Fall Finish!

Greetings and Salutations!  (I love to say that.  Reminds me of a college friend's father.  He always answered the phone that way.  He was a huge Notre Dame football fan too.  I bet he would have enjoyed their big win over Michigan...but I digress...)

Happy Fall Y'all.  Autumn officially rolled in yesterday and I celebrated with a finish!  This lovely design is from Little House Needleworks; the colors of the linen and fibers are scrumptious.  For now, it will go in the finishing pile, but when I eventually do get around to finishing it, I'm going to do something similar to what Vonna did - as a bell pull

Autumn Band Sampler
Little House Needleworks
32 ct LL Vintage Buttercream

If you are interested in having this gently used pattern, please indicate so on this post in the comments section and I will draw a name on Wednesday, 9/26.

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but once fall hits, I start thinking about next year.  I think it's because I get so little stitching done for myself during the last quarter of the year.  I'm usually working on ornaments and other Christmas gifts.  Let's face it, half the fun of stitching is thinking about and planning for your next project, right?

Last year (2011) I participated in the Crazy Challenge.  You chose 15 projects, and then started each one, one on each of the first 15 days of January.  I'm thinking I may do something similar next year, but only choose 13 projects since it will be's fun to think about, right?  Could be new projects or WIPs/UFOs.  Anyone interested in joining me?

Speaking of WIPs and UFOs...Mrs. Dilly-Dally on the blog Dilly Dally Days is suggesting a new term for unfinished/uncompleted projects that infers no guilt or shame with projects that are in progress.  She saw a reference to this on Facebook and has adopted the term for her own projects; I may just do the same.  From this point forward they shall be called PhDs!  (Doesn't that sound intelligent and important?)  What's a PhD you ask?  Why, it is a "Project Half Done"!  Genius!

I've babbled on long enough....we're going to enjoy some of the produce from our garden for supper - roasted acorn squash and grilled zucchini ---yum!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


No stitching progress to post, but may I just say that I am looking forward to meeting Ellen Chester one month from today!  Anyone else going?

Crosse Stitchery of Lacrosse, WI

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumn Band Sampler Progress

Today I wanted to share with you the progress I am making with the Autumn Band Sampler from Little House Needleworks...

Not too much left now - I need to fill in the house and then have a little bit more to go beneath it.

I did something with this piece that I almost never do...changed a thread color!  My friends say that I am a "purist" when it comes to following the designers' instructions and typically I am.  The letters "Y" and "Z" and the pumpkin, the oak leaves on either end of the second band at the top, and some of the leaves in the band above the squirrels were all supposed to be stitched with CC Copper Penny.  It was just too "peachy" for my liking.  I pulled them out and re-stitched them with WDW Sweet Potato.  I like it much better (a couple of the leaves in that band above the squirrels are still stitched in the Copper Penny - maybe you can pick out the difference.)  Forgive me Diane, for I have sinned...

I need to wrap this project's time to start stitching for Christmas.  If I don't get started soon I won't finish in time...I enjoy giving ornaments to family and friends!

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Great Find

It's a beautiful fall day in Minnesota!  I was up early this morning and picked tomatoes and the last of our cucumbers in the garden.  I made creamed cucumbers and used the tomatoes to make two batches of salsa.

We went to church and stayed for dinner - it was our church's fall festival today.  Had a delicious chicken dinner followed by some bingo and a little shopping.  I enjoy checking out the craft items that have been made by the church ladies.  I was lucky to find this great quilt made out of scrap fabrics - a scrappy quilt!  It is more than generously sized and will work on the twin sized bed in our extra bedroom.

The woman that made the quilt was there; it was great meeting the person that put so much time and talent into making this beautiful quilt!

I also want to share with you a little gift I received yesterday.  My friend Judy brought this cute little scissor fob for me.  The witch is from a Plum Street Samplers design.  Isn't she cute?  (The fabric in the background is the backside of the quilt above.)

And some beautiful pins for my now finished Victoria Sampler project.  Hope you can pick them out in the photo (not such a good photo!)  Thanks Judy!

Well that's all I've got for you today!  I'm going to go stitch and maybe watch a little football!  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fabulous Stitching Day

Any day spent stitching with a group of stitchers who enjoy friendship and all forms of needlework is a good day and today was no exception.  Every so often a group of us gather at Rosebud's Cottage in White Bear Lake, MN.  Rosebud's is actually more of a quilt shop, but it doesn't matter - all forms of creativity are welcome.  About 15 of us set up shop in their classroom and enjoyed a full day of stitching only breaking long enough for lunch.  Lots of laughter, good stories and great fun!

I tried to take pictures of many of the projects that were being worked on - I know I missed a few.  My camera batteries were dead, so I had to take these pictures with my phone but I think they turned out pretty good!

The star of this post today is Doris.  Doris brought several items for "show and tell" starting with this lovely Bent Creek piece; I believe it is called "Gnomes in the Garden".

Then check out all these quilt runners and tabletoppers that Doris has pieced!

And a little bit more stitching from Doris.  Doesn't she do lovely work?

Can't wait to see what finished pieces Doris brings next time!

Let's take a look to see what everyone else was working owl baby bib for a new baby with an owl themed nursery...

A Halloween piece from La D Da...

One of my favorite designers...Mary Garry...this chart is called "Fishing"...

There were a few felted wool projects being assembled...

And this is "A is for Acorn" from Jackie du Plessis...

A design from Tree of Life Samplings...

And Elizabeth's Designs...

And I have no idea who the designer is on this piece, but the colors really pop!  (Edited to add: it's from Sam Sarah Designs! - thank you to the reader that identified it for me!)

I know I missed a few of the projects being worked on; I will try to do a better job next time.

A good time was had by all!

Friday, September 14, 2012


Love it!

Heavenly Paradise
Ruth Ann Russell
SANQ Volume 28, Fall 2002
36ct R&R Light Espresso
WDW fibers

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

And More Finishes

A few more finishes to share with you...

I finally finished my retreat piece from earlier this year.  I had finished the pincushion on top and the little strawberry (hanging in the back) but had not finished the is now finished!  This is a design from Victoria Sampler.

This next piece, I can't even tell you when I stitched it, it was stitched so long ago.  It was in my finishing pile because it was supposed to have piping around the edge of the pillow.  I don't really know how to make piping.  I got the bright idea to finish with chenille in a coordinating color.  I am happy with it.  The design was an exclusive from Blackbird Designs for Elegant Stitch.

Last but not least, some ornaments, also from Victoria Sampler.  Two for Minnesota and one for Indiana.  In the second photo you can see the fabric that I used on the back of the Minnesota ornaments (special Minnesota fabrics.)  These still need to have bows added; I didn't have the right ribbon in my stash, so will add them later.

The finishing pile is finally starting to disappear....just one or two more days dedicated to finishing and I might actually be caught up!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Plate of Tatted Butterflies

Had some smaller tart tins that weren't being used and a "rabble" of tatted butterflies from my mother.  (Had to look that word up - wasn't sure if I should say "flock" or "swarm"...) Cute, huh?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Plum Dumplings

One of my favorite things about fall is Plum Dumplings!  Every year when the Italian Plums are ready, I buy about 2 dozen or so and take them to my mom so that she will make plum dumplings for us.  This year, I decided it was time to learn how to make them myself.

Lucky for me there is a recipe in The Hungarian Cookbook by Susan Derecskey.  I have to share with you what she writes about these dumplings:

"Grown men daydream and reminisce about plum dumplings they have known; they brag about how many they can eat at one session.  They feel gloomy and deprived if the season passes without a plum-dumpling orgy.  In earthbound reality, a plum dumpling is a potato dumpling with a pitted purple plum inside it, and a melted sugar cube inside that.  To the initiate, the moment of revelation comes even before the first bite, namely when he jabs his fork into the dumpling and hot plum juice squirts out.  From then on, it is a riot of sensations, gluey versus chewy, sweet versus bland - a unique item in anyone's repertoire.Although plum dumplings can be served as a dessert, it usually shows up as a snack on Sunday afternoon in late summer."

Yes, they are that good...I love them.

Kneading the dough (mashed potatoes with flour, eggs, butter, salt)

Roll out the dough...

Insert plum and a little more than a teaspoon of sugar...

Boil for about 20 minutes...

Cover with toasted, buttered, sugared bread crumbs...

Pure heaven....(enjoying the dumpling but keeping an eye on the football game!)

Hope you are having a great Sunday!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Most Excellent Stitching Day

Today was most excellent. Why you ask?  Because it's the second Saturday of the month and a group of us gather at Stitchville every month on this Saturday.  Great conversation, delicious food, and of course, lots of stitching.  Wish I had taken my camera with so I could show you some of the projects that were being worked time...

I stayed on task and finished Heavenly Paradise by Ruth Ann Russell (C Street Samplerworks).  I have designated myself as the unoffical president of her unofficial fan club.  Okay, I just really like to stitch her designs, what can I say?

This beauty is stitched on 36 count light espresso R&R linen with WDW fibers.  Lots of fun specialty stitches in this one including a rounded Rhodes stitch, rounded Eyelet stitch, Rice stitch, Double Leviathan, and of course, my favorite, cross stitch over one!

Less than 30 minutes after putting the final stitch in I had it at the framer with my frame ordered.  In about two weeks I'll share the framed finish with you.

I'm hoping that Ruth Ann will release this pattern as a chart as I'm sure that many of you would like to purchase and stitch this one.  Until that time, you can find the pattern in SANQ Volume 28/Fall 2002.

One of the best things that happened at Stitchville today...I picked up my copy of the 2012 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue!  Love it!

Hope you are having a great weekend.  Keep on stitching!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Here's what I did...

... I made a little pocket watch pendant with it!  I was inspired by the pocket watch pendants that were recently posted on With thy Needle and Thread and decided to try to make one myself.  The motif that I stitched is from Blackbird Designs book Honeysuckle Manor; in the back of the book are some small motifs intended to be used for pincushions.  When stitched on 40 count it was the perfect size for this pocket watch!  Pretty cool don't you think?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Do you know....

.... what I have in mind for this little motif?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Hövej Embroidery

No stitching updates but I'm trying to get my posting mojo back...I've posted on this topic before but thought I'd share an update with you.  You may have noticed a new tab at the top of my blog labelled "Hövej Embroidery".  If you haven't had a chance to look at it, please do - there are some beautiful pictures there.

Ellen Chester is always looking for interesting stories for her newsletter, With My Needle and Pen - if you don't subscribe to it, you should -- it's free for the asking!  A few months ago I submitted an article about the I Sigh Not for Beauty sampler that I was working on.  I thought I'd write something again and decided to share my story about the embroidery of Hövej.  If you'd like to read the entire newsletter, you will find it here:  With My Needle and Pen Volume 16, Issue 7

In writing the article, I discovered a new website dedicated to this beautiful white on white embroidery.  It's a feast for the eyes and I encourage you to visit it:

Long story short, I started corresponding with the daughter of the woman who has done all of the beautiful embroidery featured on this website.  We've exchanged quite a few emails and I've learned more things about this embroidery that at one time was a mystery to me!  More on that in a future post, but today, I'd like to share with you the story I shared with Ellen for her newsletter.

The Embroidery of Hövej

My maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s.  Both came from tiny villages locates in what at the time was known as Austria-Hungary.  After the monarchy collapsed in 1918, these villages became part of Austria.

Despite the long distance between them and the challenges with communicating during two world wars, the families kept in touch.  After my grandparents passed away, the responsibility of maintaining contact with the relatives in Austria fell to their eldest daughter, my aunt; and after she passed away, that responsibility was passed on to my mother.

In 1977, my mother decided that it was time to take a trip to Europe to visit our relatives.  A handful of the cousins from my grandfather’s side of the family had visited us in the U.S., but otherwise only written communication bound us together.  We spent about 10 days visiting with cousins on both sides of the family; in fact, we even discovered that my mother still had a living uncle!   I was in high school at the time and had no idea how profound an impact this trip would have on the rest of my life.

Now I realize you were anticipating an article about embroidery.  However, please indulge me a bit further for it is through my search for ancestors that I discovered the beautiful embroidery of Hövej!

While in college, I returned to this place in Austria called Burgenland, the birthplace of my grandparents, and got to know our relatives there better.  Life then got busy (job, marriage, children) and it was 15 years before I would return again. In 1997, when visiting with my grandmother’s side of the family, the cousins presented me with a gift – a beautiful white on white hand-embroidered tablecloth.  It was stunning.  I had no idea how significant this piece of embroidery was.

It was at about this time that I wanted to know more about my grandfather’s family.  Some documents that I had obtained indicated that my great-grandfather and one of his brothers originally came from the village of Hövej, located across the border in Hungary.  It became my mission to try to see what I could learn about the ancestors that once lived in Hövej. 

My mother was actually the first to visit Hövej.  She was visiting our cousins in 1998 and expressed interest in going there.  The cousins (on her mother’s side) were more than happy to oblige.  They told my mother that they could also visit the “lace ladies” in Hövej.  One of our cousins had a connection to some ladies that made lace.  The cousins bought lace for their homes and had special pieces embroidered for the altar at the church in their village.  Visiting the lace ladies was a bit challenging; our cousins only spoke German and the lace ladies only spoke Hungarian.  Arrangements were made for a translator who could assist with communications!  During this first visit, my mother was invited into the home of one of these ladies to admire her work and the work of one of her sisters.  Of course, it was possible to purchase whatever one wanted.  The lace that these ladies made was the same lace that adorned the beautiful white hand-embroidered tablecloth that I had received a year earlier!  When my mother returned a couple years later, she and her cousins once again visited the lace ladies. 

As for me, another 15 years passed before I would be able to visit this part of the world again.  Last summer my mother and I made another trip to Burgenland; it was important to me that we share this experience together at least one more time.  This would also be my first opportunity to travel to Hövej and of course I wanted to visit the lace ladies!

The visit proved challenging.  The woman that could speak both German and Hungarian had passed away a few months earlier.  Fortunately, one of the lace ladies knew of a young girl, just 14 years old, who was in town visiting her grandmother.  The young girl could speak German, Hungarian, and English and so she came and helped translate. 

The embroidery was stunning; white on white, very similar to cutwork and yet very different.  The fabric used was mostly cotton, but there were also some very fine pieces done on fabric like batiste or organza.  The embroidered circles were filled with different patterns; the designs look like very fine knitting.  The two ladies we visited with proudly displayed their pieces for sale – mostly doilies in a variety of sizes.  Some were fairly simple, others were very detailed.

According to a Hungarian website, the Embroidery of Hövej became world-famous in 1962 at the Expo of Brussels.  It describes the embroidery as being “full of holes” and made on “flimsy material.”  The holes are then filled with different knitting patterns.  This embroidery is used to adorn blouses, aprons, handkerchiefs, tablecloths, bed-covers, and altar-cloths.

I wanted to understand how the doilies were made and one of the women went inside her home and brought out a wood frame with her current work-in-progress.  The cotton fabric was stretched tightly to the frame.  The design had been drawn by hand with a pencil on the white fabric.  The outer border of “holes” had been stitched in place; now she was working on the inner circles.  I would imagine that the knitting stitches that fill the circles are worked last.  I told the ladies (through my young translator) that I was going to come back next year so that they could show me how to do this.  They laughed and said that I would have to learn Hungarian first.  (They laughed because it is almost impossible to learn Hungarian!)   I also wanted to know how this “art” was being preserved; they assured me that many in Hövej know how to do the embroidery and that it continues to be passed from one generation to the next.

My goal to visit the village of Hövej and see the place where my maternal grandfather’s ancestors came from was achieved.  The added bonus was discovering its beautiful embroidery.   Sometimes treasures are found in the most unexpected places!  I hope you have enjoyed my story.  

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Heavenly Paradise

Quick update...when I haven't been finishing (see previous post) I've been busy stitching on another Ruth Ann Russell design called Heavenly Paradise.  The pattern was published in a 2002 issue of SANQ, and I was lucky to be gifted this issue by my friend Wendy Jo!  I think this might be my first Adam and Eve's almost finished; I just need to stitch in the over one verse at the bottom.  I love the thread colors that are used (WDW threads)...lots of fun specialty stitches in this one too (check out the apples!)

Last night I wanted to work on something that didn't require too much concentration, so I started LHN's Autumn Band Sampler.  Made pretty good progress, don't you think?

The linen color in both of these photos is kind of washed out...imagine richer, yummier colors with sort of a buttery hue....

Gotta run...have a great day....

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Fruits of My Labor

It has been a positively wonderful long holiday weekend!  The weekend started with another trip to the Minnesota State Fair; my daughter and I had tickets to the Grandstand show on Thursday night.  The show included performances by Eden's Edge, The Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, and Rascal Flatts.  I was worried about the weather and thought maybe I was too old to sit (actually stand) through a four hour concert, but I must admit, I did enjoy it.  The weekend is now almost over and we are enjoying a quiet day at home.  Tomorrow, we all go back to work.

Yesterday, I completed a bit more finishing.  I'm starting to see my way to the bottom of the finishing basket. Here are my completed projects...

First up...a needlebook finish for my friend Judy.  The coordinating pincushion and fob were finished on my last finishing day.  I will be able to pass these on to Judy when I see her next weekend.

During the week  I stitched up these small designs (over two and over one); this was a kit that I had purchased from Jackie du Plessis.  Two small containers for storing buttons, beads, needles - whatever I wish!

And, a Christmas Ornament!  This was in my WIP pile for a long time; I stopped when I got to the over one stitching.  Over one doesn't scare me anymore though - ha!  The design is called Peace and Joy and it was a kit from The Drawn Thread.  Here's the front and back:

I really liked the finishing instructions that came with this design from The Drawn Thread.  The finished edge was done with a nun's stitch and rather than stuffing the ornament, it called for two pieces of skirtex cut to size.  The end result is a flat ornament that retains its shape.

And, last but not least, my favorite finish of all....a couple of hornbooks.  Believe it or not, I stitched both of these on Saturday.  The design is from Crown & Thistle and is called Friends Pins and was their exclusive kit at the Dyeing to Stitch retreat in 2011.  I believe the patterns are now available to all.  Rather than using DMC, I used similar overdyed flosses.  I'm really happy with how they turned out!

I've been busy stitching away on another design from Ruth Ann Russell; you saw a little bit of it in an earlier post.  It's almost finished, so in a day or two I will share a final picture with you.

That's it from me today...just enjoying the holiday...I hope you are enjoying your day too.  Thanks for stopping by!