Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can You Say Biscornu?

First of all . . . I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Happy & Healthy New Year!

 Biscornu is a French adjective that means "that which has an irregular form, with projections" or "complicated and bizarre."   This Biscornu was a lot of fun to make . . . it's not complicated . . . maybe a little bizarre!  Makes a great pincushion or as shown here, an ornament:

Here is the chart.  You will need to make two of these.  Backstitch around the outside of the designs (this is where you will stitch them together)  I used Weeks Dye Works - Gun Metal Linen 30 count and stitched it with The Gentle Art (Sampler Threads) - Bluebell floss . . .one strand over two linen threads for the cross-stitch and back-stitch over two linen threads for the outline.  Any dark fabric with a light thread or vice-versa would do.  I used a small snowflake button from Just Another Button Company for the center of both side of the ornament.

 Once you have the two squares complete, you will begin stitching your biscornu together along the outline stitching.  You will begin stitching the two threads at one corner to the center outline thread on one side of the other square.  Finger press along your backstitching to make the joining stitching easier.

Continue matching each stitch, whipping them together until you reach the center/corner matchup.  Be sure to catch the two corner stitches of one square with the center stitch of the other and proceed matching stitches until, again, you reach the next center/corner juncture where, again, you will catch the two corner stitches to the center stitch . . . repeat this all the way around.

You will begin to see the zig zag design take shape as you proceed around.

 When you get near the end, begin stuffing.  You will need to stuff it full enough to fill in the corners.

Add a ribbon or cording (if making an ornament) at the very end as you close up the biscornu.  Once closed you will add a button or bead to the centers of both sides . . . pulling tight as you secure them.

  TIP:  If you are making this into a pincushion, you don't need to stitch the larger center snowflake on the bottom piece, just the four smaller corner snowflakes . . . unless you want it to be reversible.

HAVE FUN!!!  If you have any questions, please comment and I will try to help you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My First Quilt Attempt

I've always LOVED quilts!  I had a fake one on my bed as a child.  It was quilted, but it was a printed piece of material with baskets of tulips all over it...no applique going on there.  So...I've always fantasized about making one.  I have quilting magazines, books, patterns....but I know myself....big projects seldom get finished.  When the opportunity came up to take a FREE quilting class I thought...why not...maybe with a little motivation!  I had the choice to make a table runner with basic square blocks surrounded by a strip boarder or the Dresden Plate appliqued pattern wall hanging...let's just dive right in and applique!  I have some material scraps (always have some fat quarters on hand for cross-stitch pillow/pincushion backing) and I made a visit to my local fabric/craft store.  They have matching fabric bundles all ready for quilting projects and "jelly rolls" and "charms"...pre-cut shapes...isn't that cheating?!  Let's shoot for Christmas!  With one bundle of coordinating fabric and a couple fat quarters I already had...I began:
 Got my basic Dresden Plate all cut out and arranged on my center fabric...ready to hand applique!  Cut all my little triangles out and stitched them together on my ancient Singer which was bought used in the mid 70's...still hanging in there!  (My Daddy built the sewing machine cabinet for me...years ago!)
 It's all put together...ready for the quilting part!!!   Well...actually, there is supposed to be one more strip boarder with contrasting squares at the corners, but I've decided to stop here and make it a pillow instead of a wall hanging.  It's laying on a plain quilt that I bought about 5 years ago that I was going to embroider on....someday...maybe...probably not.  I have so much respect and awe for quilters...such patience and perseverance!  What a HUGE project to do a bed-size quilt!!!  I will continue to dream about quilts, but I don't think there will be any bed-size quilts being made here...maybe crib-size for that "grandchild hope chest"!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comfort Food

It looked so much like fall on my walk this morning...leaves are changing and falling to the ground.  In some places there were enough leaves to actually "swish" through them.  Even though it was warm I started thinking about fall comfort food...soups, casseroles, chili...POT PIE!  Pot pie is probably my favorite comfort food.  I think I could eat it for 3 meals a day!  I even like the cheap Banquet brand...with the crust on the bottom as well as the top...yum!  I love the really artery clogging ones like Pepperidge Farm or Marie Callender's...they are soooo goood!!  Boston Market has a good one too.  Yes, I've tried them all!! 

I found this lighter version recipe that truly rivals the full fat ones...really!  I've tweaked it a bit to make it easier and less time consuming to make.

Refrigerated Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 - 4 cups of vegetables
1 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, marjoram, or thyme crushed (fresh herbs if you've got them)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

I buy one of the grocery store's roasted chickens, pick it clean shredding the chicken and use about half of the roaster for the pot pie (you need at least 1 1/2 cups of chicken) and reserve the other half for some other comfort food casserole.  You can then use the carcass to make some chicken stock if you are so inclined.  Spread out the chicken pieces covering the bottom of a 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch rectangular baking dish that you sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare your vegetables...if you are using fresh you'll need to saute them until just tender.  I used the frozen Alexia Saute Vegetables for this one...they come with an herb infused olive oil to saute them in.  With this pot pie I used the Saute Reds in a thyme infused olive oil.  I also had some leftover roasted butternut squash and red onions.
Meanwhile, reserve 1 tablespoon of the milk.  In a small mixing bowl gradually stir the remaining milk into the flour till smooth.  Stir this into the vegetable mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in the water, bouillon granules, pepper and any other herbs you might like...I added some fresh sage from my garden.  Cook and stir until it's just thickened...not too long or your pot pie will be dry after baking.

Transfer mixture to the baking dish (on top of the chicken).  Roll out your pastry dough to elongate it so it will cover your pot pie mixture.  You'll need to vent the crust...I have a tiny heart cookie cutter...too cute!  Tuck in the edges of the dough...you can crimp the edges with a fork if you like or leave it.  Brush pastry with reserved milk.  Add pastry cutouts and brush them as well.

Bake in a 375 F degree oven for 30 minutes or until the mixture is heated through and the pastry is golden brown.  Makes about 5 - 6 servings. 

Since I walked for 45 minutes this morning AND did my free weights, does that mean I can have a second helping?  Better not...gotta dump the plump!  Enjoy!

Bon  ~*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


You can't imagine how happy I am to have one of these train stations FINALLY finished!!!!  Why do I say things like:  "Oh, I can make that."  Can and want are two very different words!!!  Anyway...think I have the bugs worked out of my pattern and even have a few new ideas for future ones...yes, there will be more made...probably...maybe.  We'll see what the response is at this Sunday's train show.
Here are my pattern pieces on top of each copper foil wrapped glass piece that I cut.  This is the front and back sections of the train station waiting to be soldered.

It's a bit tricky putting together a 3-D piece.  Tricky?  Truthfully, it's a pain in the you know what!

The roof poses the most problems putting together because of the different angles.  This was several pains in the you know what!!

After it's soldered and cleaned, then you choose your patina.  You can leave it silver or brush on a black patina (which I like best) or a copper patina.  We'll be able to personalize them with a label maker with whatever "town" someone would want on the sign on the roof...like:  Pain In The A** Junction

Here it is with the light kit in it...isn't it cute?!

Now...back to cross-stitching!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Back!!!

So, it's been a little while...kinda took the summer off...off blogging, not off designing or stitching. 

I've also been busy designing stained glass train stations.  Really.  The hubs is really into trains...I mean REALLY INTO TRAINS.  He's setting up a website to buy and sell model trains.  We've been to many train shows as buyers and now as vendors.  Last year sometime I found a cute little lighted stained glass train station at a flea market...$20!  I couldn't believe the price having made some statined glass pieces to sell years ago when my mother had a gift shop in Blowing Rock!  I snatched it up and we decided these might be good sellers at the upcoming train shows.  Researching this piece I've discovered it is a copyrighted piece from China.  No doubt the workers made them for pennies.  I can't, of course, make them exactly like this piece...I respect copyrights.  So I've used it for inspiration and have redesigned it. It's been a re-learning process to get back into stained glass with many problems along the way...diamond fell out of my glass cutter, bought the wrong solder and it smoked terribly, old soldering gun wasn't heating up all the way (I'm talking it's about 30 years old!).  With all these problems now solved...I'm on my way!  I'll post pictures when I've got one completely put together...soon!

 I recently released two new cross stitch designs and have several more almost finished:

Feel Like A Nut has finally been charted!  It was stitched on R&R Reproductions 32 count 18th Century Brown fabric (LOVE this fabric!) using two Gentle Art thread colors: Adobe and Straw Bonnet.  The vintage tatted lace is from that same bag-o-lace my mother gave me.  I'm determined to learn to tat...I actually bought a kit, complete with the little shuttle and instructions.  I'll let you know how that goes!

The other one is called Autumn in Madison County.  It includes a complete upper and lower case alphabet to change the county to your personal favorite covered bridge site...or personalize it in any way you like.  I made it into a little "shelf pillow" measuring about 6 1/2 inches square...sits right on my book shelf with the books:  The Bridges of Madison County and A Thousand Country Road, both by Robert Waller...love those books!  I edged it with R&R's overdyed Cinnamon chenille...love it!

That's probably enough for now.  I promise to keep up better with the blog. 

Bon  ~*

Friday, May 13, 2011

In-House Store!

We bought this cabinet several years ago and it's been sitting in the garage waiting for some idea for it's use to pop into one of our heads.  Pop!  I decided it would be a good needlework cabinet to store my ever-growing threads/books/accessories.  I had, long ago, outgrown the plastic drawer storage unit.  It's like having a small cross-stitch shop in my home...right next to my "stitching spot".  The bottom drawer is locked...if we got the key when we bought it, it is nowhere to be found.  Suppose there's a million dollars stashed in that drawer?!?  We'll keep looking for the key!!!!

That's a spool holder hanging above that works well for my Gentle Arts threads, Weeks Dye Works are hanging inside the cabinet doors!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Feeling Better!

I am not one to sit for any length of time during the day...except maybe to get lost on the computer from time to time...or stitch with my friend Jen once a week.  Being sick and lethargic is torture for me!  But...I've gotten a lot of stitching done in the last week with this cold/flu or whatever this had been.  Finished up a La D Da piece I had started some time ago (Zippity Do Da...too cute!), finished two of my designs I had pencil charted and am working on a 3rd that's still evolving.  I've had to step away from the 3rd one for a bit...nothing I seem to add really adds anything to it...I need a little distance.  So, I've started on a small piece from Blackbird Designs (Clara Ellen) to "clear the mind".

This first piece I think I'll call "Clover Pearls".  I spent many an hour as a child making clover flower necklaces.  It was always a thrill when we found a patch of red clover (with the pink flowers) to add to the pale yellow "pearls".  I remember one of our neighbors found us sitting on his lawn making the day's jewelry.  He had the best clover in the neighborhood!   After explaining what we were doing, he offered to pay us per unbroken foot for our day's accomplishment.  Seems to me he offered a nickel per foot...he kept his word and we were happy with our windfall!  Don't know what he did with his clover chain, but maybe it saved him from cutting the lawn for a few days!
There's that lace again...maybe that will be my "trademark"!  My mother found this great bag of vintage lace at a flea market.  She used to do a lot of needlework (cross-stitch, crazy quilting, knitting).  In her 80's now, she has put most of that aside and purged her stash...giving me most of it!!!  The lace is so great that each piece I stitch there just seems to be a place for it!

The next piece is "Autumn in Madison County".  I think I will finish this one as a "shelf pillow" and sit it on the bookcase next to Waller's books.  If you've never read the epilogue to The Bridges of Madison County (A Thousand Country Roads) and you liked the first one, you will like the second as well.

The 3rd piece is my take on a Scottish Sampler (celebrating my Scotch-Irish heritage).  These were usually stitched in red and green threads and I've gone for a paler version with a few other colors thrown in.  Still stitchin' and rippin'...may have come up with the final plan...we'll see how it looks!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

Just had to post the picture since I just finished framing this piece.  Now...really...I have to get to charting it...no more distractions!!!!

Bye Bye Christmas

Thought it was time (past time) to take down the outside Christmas decorations.  Today was the perfect day...low 40's out...the sun was shining...the sun!...rain had stopped...snow was melting...it almost felt warm!  Temps are supposed to drop today and snow is on the way this afternoon...do it...do it now!  I grabbed the step stool, started unwinding the wire that attached the bows to various things, got the greenery off the arbor and started on the garland around the door when...things started to go awry.  The wind was picking up...gusting actually...dark clouds were rolling in...my fingers were getting too numb to feel the wire that attached the garland to the door frame...it started sprinkling, spotting my glasses.  Then I realized as I got further up the door...I had the wrong step ladder...only two steps...too short to comfortably reach the top since our front door is up two steps to begin with.  The wind, the rain, the numb fingers...no time to go get the four-step ladder!  Precariously reaching for the top (exposing skin to the cold and rain as my sweatshirt rose) with numb fingers, I pretty much yanked the last three wires off the house.  The garland is now dripping on the rug in the front hall.  The snowman flag is whipping in the wind (he can stay out there until spring).  The skies are dark, the temperature has dropped to 38 already...but it's done!!!! 

Now...on to charting the "Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut" design.  The frame was mismeasured so I had to add a bit of lace to the bottom...LOVE it!  It's always nice when a mistake turns out to be a blessing!  Will post a picture soon!!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Table Progress

Finally got around to sanding the sewing table.  So the hubs says "can't sand it in the computer/craft room of the basement...too much dust for the computer"..."can't sand it in the main part of the basement...too much dust for the furnace."  I knew I couldn't sand it in the garage...dust on the Mustang is a crime punishable by death!  Too cold outside and we don't have an outdoor outlet.  So...I sanded it in the bathroom.  Messy no matter where you do it, but I just cleaned the bathroom yesterday...what was I thinking!!!!!  Removed the rugs and towels, but I guess I should have put down some paper or plastic...too late now!  I am covered in reddish brown dust and my hands still feel like they're vibrating.  Since it will take some time to clean up the bathroom...guess I'll stain it another day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sewing Table Find

Found this adorable sewing table at a flea market...cheap!  Since we have about 5 inches of snow on the ground, I thought it would make a good indoor activity for a few days.  The legs are a bit crooked...probably have to take them off and reattach.  The top lifts up with storage in the false top drawer.  The lower drawer is real.  I can't quite decide if I should make it whimsical and paint it or refinish the wood...hmmm...kinda like the wood.  I'll post pictures of my progress...that'll force me to stay on track.  I do think I'll do something "surprising" inside...no peeking until I'm finished!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year Plans

It's a new year and a new shop order.  The Nebby Needle is now available at Shepherd's Bush in Ogden, UT!!!!!!  This is definitely a thrill!!!  LOVE those ladies...Tina and Teri...THANKS SO MUCH!!!

I have a new design finished and am awaiting the frame.  It's called "Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut".  Will post a picture when the frame comes in. 

Other designs are on paper, but I have to finish my mother-in-law's Christmas present first...I know...it's after Christmas.  I wrapped it up anyway and she opened it on Christmas.  It's a table square with the same sunflower motif in each corner.  I picked up several of these squares (each with different woven designs in them) when we lived in Europe.  My mother-in-law has a lot of sunflower "things" in her kitchen and I thought this would look nice on her kitchen table.  I'm at the last corner and should  have it finished in a couple of days: