Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Draws Near

Preparations are underway in homes across the world for this special festival,  and ours is no exception.  Let me share with you a little of the stitching I've done for Advent and Christmas.   This needlepoint pillow has been part of our decorating for many years - I stitched it over 25 years ago and still love it, as well as the watered moire silk that the finisher used for the ruffle and the backing.  The whole piece is worked mostly in basketweave stitch with Paternayan pure wool, though I don't know the designer -  the name wasn't given on the hand-painted canvas.

This little bell-pull is a Charland design from several years ago - besides the instructions, the kit included the linen banding, silk and cotton threads, silk ribbon, and the sterling silver charm.  There are lots of lovely specialty stitches in it, including some open work that I'm just starting to try out a little more.  Most of the year it's on a soft rose wall - I can't bear to pack it away :)  The wording is from the old English carol "The Holly and the Ivy" ,sung to a lively melody - we have several versions of it on our Christmas CDs and records (and yes, we still do have LPs and a turntable on which we play them!) 

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

I've shown this little sampler before, "Gingerbread Garden", from The Victoria Sampler, but this year I finally found a frame for it and did a more careful job of mounting and pinning the stitched fabric on proper mat board, with archival red paper to show through in the open work section.    It's very small - the frame opening is only 4x10 inches.  The threads are a combination of cotton and silk, and there are also beads and a tiny charm on the design, so I decided to dispense with any glass.  There's also a pattern for a co-ordinating ornament, but that hasn't made it to my stitching roster yet .....

We still have enough snow on the ground for the bird-feeder to look similar to ones we have here, though the warmer weather in the forecast might melt that snow in the next couple of days.

But while we wait for Christmas, our Scripture readings remind us that it's still Advent, still a time of preparation and waiting.  This year I completed a small piece from Jane Timmers of FancyWork - it's about 4 x 6 inches, and I'll finish it soon as an ornament or miniature wall-hanging, but couldn't resist sharing it with you today.  There are a few different stitches in it, including tent stitch, long-armed cross-stitch, and several others.  The silk threads (Needlepoint Silk and Silk Mori) called for in the pattern were lovely to work with, and I used Rainbow Petite Treasure Braid for the gold - my first time to use this thread, but definitely not the last, I loved how easy it was to use as well as how beautiful the results were.   Jane's designs are very special ones, often derived from traditional hymns and carols. 

So I leave you today with this quote from the ancient Advent hymn - "O come, O come Emmanuel - Rejoice".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In the bleak midwinter .....

Perhaps not quite midwinter yet, but tell that to the weatherman - today hit its high temperature at 1 a.m., and it's been dropping since then - now into the well-below-freezing range with snow continuing.  But I'm cozy and warm here in our suburban cottage, sipping green tea with honey (from our Saskatchewan beekeeper friends), using a favorite china cup shown above :) and enjoying some fine Advent music from the first album that I've ever bought through iTunes.   I wish you all could hear the music check out Advent Promise for a selection of fine choral and instrumental music honouring this ancient season.  

I've had time, though, for a fair bit of stitching - want a peek at some? 

Here's an ornament for an exchange, though I'm sure I'll do another one for myself - the background fabric it`s resting on is the silk that I've used for the reverse side, and the pattern is one from a Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue from several years ago. 

A Guild stitching day allowed me to make more progress on a couple of projects - one of them is the ongoing Monasterium Four Seasons Quaker ......

After a Guild presentation about peacocks, I just had to stitch a little one for myself - this handsome fellow will become a Christmas ornament, with the same silk backing as shown with the Quaker Noel - I stitched him with dark teal DMC floss and a green Kreinik blending filament, though I'd not sure I'd include the Kreinik again - I love the final effect, but it was more than a little frustrating to stitch with  - perhaps there's a secret to it that I haven't yet figured out .....

Did you know that peacocks were sometimes included in Renaissance paintings of the Nativity, as symbols of Resurrection?  

I`ll save photos of a few older pieces that I`ve completed for another post, and in the meantime I`ll keep on stitching and sipping tea and watching the snow fall :)