Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cross Stitch Dala Horse Pattern

Every time I try to use an off-the-shelf pattern, I find things that I'd like to change, and I start to tinker with the pattern. Call me a perfectionist. I look for inspiration from not just cross stitch patterns, but also real-life photos. That is what happened here, leading to the creation of my own original Dala Horse pattern. I think this design works for anyone who has a playful side, not just the Swedish.

DMC colors used:
Green - 910
White - BLANC
Red - 817
Yellow - 726
Blue - 995

Fabric: White 14-count Aida cloth

Finished size: Slightly smaller than 4 x 4 inches

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Couple of Birds Sitting on a Branch (Cross Stitch)

This is a pair of birds perching on a branch with three red berries. Note that the beaks are each made with two half-stitches. Be sure to "catch" your longer diagonal stitch with your shorter stitch (the one that goes into the middle of a square) or else your beak won't look tight and crisp (it will look rounded / bulbous). There is also one half-stitch randomly towards the mid-bottom of the left bird.

DMC colors used:
Dark red for berries – To be added later
Light red for berries – To be added later
Dark gray for beaks – To be added later
Blue – To be added later
Brown for branch – To be added later

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida

Small Plane in Cross Stitch

DMC colors used:
Dull purple – 3041 is similar
White (for highlights in the cockpit) – BLANC
Red – 304
Yellow – 972

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

The finished size for my Christmas ornament was 3.25 inches square.

Small Cross Stitch Train

I'm pretty proud of myself for creating this tiny train pattern from scratch. I turned this design into a 3.25-inch square Christmas ornament using the finishing technique in this post.

DMC colors used:
Red – 304
Yellow – 972
Green – 910 or 699 (similar)
Black for wheels – 310

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

Tiny, Small Helicopter (Cross Stitch)

Do you know what's surprisingly hard to find online? A cross stitch pattern for a small, ornament-sized plane. But I found one for a helicopter!

DMC colors used:
Red – 304
Yellow – 972
Green – 910 or 699 (similar)
White for window of helicopter – BLANC

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

Finishing directions for turning this into a Christmas ornament can be found in this post.

Small Red Cottage (Cross Stitch) and Tips for Using Metallic Embroider Floss

I made this small cross stitch item and turned it into a 3.25-inch square Christmas ornament. The metallic floss was difficult to work with (see my tips below). See this post for my mounting / finishing instructions.

DMC colors used:
Red for house – 304
Pearl / iridescent white metallic embroidery floss
White (for windows) – BLANC

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth*
*Note: If I had to do this project again, I would have done it on a colored cloth (maybe tan?) - doing white snow and a white roof on a white cloth background makes little sense.

Tips for working with metallic embroidery floss:

  • Work in small sections, using short pieces of floss - longer pieces will tangle
  • Work in as large a weave of cloth as you can - I've tried using metallic embroidery floss with 18-count Aida cloth - do. not. do. that. The smaller the weave of your fabric, the more likely it is that your metallic floss will snag and / or get tangled
  • Work slowly - rushing will lead to tangles
  • Use a hoop - normally, using a hoop for small designs (less than 4"x4") is unnecessary, but because the metallic floss is more stiff and rigid than ordinary floss, you are more likely to need to tug on your floss to get it to do what you want (i.e. to get it to go through your fabric), which could warp and stretch your fabric unevenly if it's not secured in a hoop

Christian Cross with Dark Shadow Detail and Backstitching (Cross Stitch)

I made this ornament - the finished size of my ornament was 3.25 inches square but I had plenty of room on every side (you could easily use this pattern for a 2.75-inch square ornament). The gold outline was done via backstitching at the very end.

DMC colors used:
Metallic pearl in gold
Dark and light purple were both in this pack (#340 light purple and #333 dark purple are similar)

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

See this post for how I turned this into a Christmas ornament.

Choo-Choo Train Cross Stitch

I made this cute toy choo-choo train ornament using cross stitch. My finished ornament was 3.25 inches square from corner to corner.

DMC colors used:
White for the window – BLANC
Red for train body – 304
Dull purple – 3041 (similar)
Green for stripes – 910 or 699 (similar)
Black for wheel bar – 310
Darker blue for front and back wheel – 3807
Lighter blue for middle wheel – 794
Yellow – 972

Fabric used: 14-count white Aida cloth

See this post for how I turned it into a Christmas ornament.

*Note: for the exact dull purple and green I used, I'm not sure what their DMC numbers were, but the ones provided above are very similar.

Fancy Christian Cross (Cross Stitch)

Here is a Christian Cross. It was kind of hard to find a pattern online since the word "cross" is part of "cross stitch." You may want to try Googling with the words "holy" or "religious" or "Christian," etc. I used this cross stitch to make a Christmas ornament. My finished ornament size including all of the excess cloth was 3.25 inches square.

DMC colors used:
Red – 304
Light blue – 157
Light brown –839
Dark brown – 436
Green – 910 or 699 (similar)
White (in the wreath) – BLANC

Fabric: Aida 14-count in white

See this post for how I mounted it.

Minions Cross Stitch

A couple (boy and girl) of minions. This was a pretty easy project and I think it turned out cute. I used a 3-inch wooden embroidery hoop.

DMC colors used:
Minion yellow – 3822
Black – 310
Blue for overalls – 995
Pink for dress – 602
Pink for cheeks (female) – 605
Gray for around eyeglass – 318
White for eyes – BLANC

14-count Aida, white-colored

Rainbow Colored Christian Cross (Cross Stitch)

This is a very simple Christian Cross shape. My finished ornament was 3.25 inches square, but mine had a lot of excess edge around the cross - you could easily use this pattern for a 2.75-inch square.

DMC colors used:
Red – 817
Yellow – 726
Blue – 995

Fabric used: 14-count Aida in white

Mounting (finishing) directions for my ornament:
I cut press-on mounting board to size using an Exacto knife, a metal ruler, and a self-healing cutting mat (like quilters use). Then I mounted my finished cross stitch design squarely onto the board (by pressing it into place), and lightly hot-glued it to the back (using a hot glue gun). If you don't have press-on mounting board, you could cut mat board to size and use that. Afterwards, I made a loop of yarn, knotted it at the bottom, and glued that to the back of my ornament. Then I glued a piece of felt cut 1/2 inch larger on all sides than my ornament to the back, thus covering the back of my mounting board and my yarn hanger. The back of my ornament was lumpy, but I was okay with that.

All my pretty finished ornaments!

Friday, December 11, 2015

4-Month-Old Bear (Update)

I have two children – a 25-month-old boy and a 4.5-month-old boy. This post was originally meant to be a three-month update on the little guy, but I didn’t get around to it, so enjoy this 4-month update! He’s just changing so fast that having only a newborn post and a six-month post didn’t feel like enough.
I guess the biggest surprise is how different our first son is from our second son. Our first son was larger at this age – both in terms of height and weight – and also harder to please; he was more of a serious kid. Further, our first kid hated getting too hot (and would cry if you tried to put him in warmer clothes), was sick frequently with ear infections, and was not interested in cuddling most of the time. Bear on the other hand is all smiles. Even when he was feeling sick (he had a cold once), he was very mild mannered about the whole thing. Bear loves getting warm and snuggling – whether it’s fuzzy footie pajamas or cuddling with you and a toasty blanket – he is all about it. Our first son has rounded features – Bear has more of a pointy nose and chin. Our first son lost all of his hair around six weeks old; knock on wood, Bear hasn’t lost any of his hair.
The Best Things
The best thing about Bear being part of our family is that life feels fuller. I was not feeling unhappy or incomplete before Bear – I love my children equally. However, comparing life now to life before Bear is like apples to oranges. Or rather, it’s like comparing a barrel of apples on one side, with a barrel of apples and an additional barrel of oranges on the other hand. Our first son is like the barrel of apples on each side of the equation – my love for him has not changed and I wouldn’t want anything to be different with him. But then the additional barrel of oranges is like having Bear join the party! It’s different and wonderful. I really do not know where to start in terms of expressing how thankful I feel for both of my children.
There are so many other good things to share that I do not know where to start! One thing I love is how loving our first son is with Bear. And for his part, Bear encourages this by basically having a baby-crush on his older brother – he smiles adoringly at our older son and coos at him whenever he is near. He just gets so excited to see his big brother!
The Worst Things
Sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of attention I am paying to Bear – I wonder if our first son will feel left out. I do my best to try to include him and reach out to him. But on the other hand, Bear is younger and smaller than Max, and I feel strongly drawn to protect, nurture, and interact with Bear. Let me provide an example – our toddler was sick with a cold earlier this week. Normally, he loves to go over to Bear, touch Bear’s hands and chest, nuzzle him, and speak to him face-to-face (which ordinarily is heart-meltingly sweet). But because our toddler was sick, I rebuffed him and pushed him away, even though it made him cry due to the perceived unfairness. “My [brother's name]!” he protested. It made me sad to reject his displays of affection and see him so sad, but I really did not want baby Bear to catch his cold.
Another bad thing is how fragile all children are, especially during the first year. There are so many bad things that could happen to them, from SIDS to falls (from furniture, in the driveway, etc.) to a car accident... I really do not know how other people cope when something really bad happens to their child – it is the worst kind of pain I can imagine. It’s like the greatest joy in life – and I think right now is probably the most joyful time of my life – also comes with the greatest risk, because at any moment it could be taken away, and then you have the knowledge of how great it once was to haunt you. Earlier this year, we lost our beloved black-and-white pet cat unexpectedly – I was devastated – and what I learned from that experience is that you never, ever truly know what you have until you have to adjust to it being gone.
What I’m Doing Differently This Time Around
On a lighter note, Bear does not use a pacifier, even though our first son did (and still does). Instead, Bear sucks his thumb, his burp cloth, a blanket, his teether, my thumb… pretty much anything. Also, I’m exclusively breastfeeding right now (technically, it’s called “exclusively pumping” since we never did master latching). Our first son got a mix of formula and breastmilk. Breastfeeding / pumping is probably number three on my “worst things” list above. Every woman is different, but for me personally, breastfeeding has been ten times more difficult than being pregnant ever was. It is so time-consuming and I am frequently uncomfortable (during pumping, when engorged, when sore, when chaffed). The thought of breastfeeding a third child is almost enough to make me forget about having a third child entirely. I have stuck with breastfeeding Bear so far because I love Bear. Love: the greatest motivator of all.