Verilux Lamp Review

 
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I was *really* excited when Verilux contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their lamps!

I typically do *not* knit or stitch at night because I find it really hard to see. I wear glasses with bifocals and while we have good overhead lighting in our home, I still struggle with evening crafting. I've stitched entire chunks of projects with the wrong color, accidentally thinking dark brown was black! Worst! I recently knit my mom a dark purple shawl and knitting lace with dark yarn at night?! Not so much fun.

My stitching space is in front of a small window so during the day I pull my chair up to my table and stitch, using natural light as much as possible. During the winter it's a little rough because the days are so short and gloomy.

I've been wanting a full spectrum lamp for a really long time. I've heard so many mixed reviews of Ott-Lite's. One of our sample stitchers bought one this December and has found the light to be really harsh. I always look when I visit JoAnn's & Michael's and I can never decide if I want to spend money on one! Even with coupons, they are expensive. Also, their marketing kind of kills me- if you can offer something to me for 50% off constantly, I want to know HOW & WHY. I also am picky and I don't want a craft lamp that looks chintzy or when you look at it you think "CRAFT LAMP"! I had NO idea there were other lamp options out there so I'm really glad they contacted me. They've been in business since 1956 and they also sell lamps for light therapy and sanitation!

I've had the Verilux Lamp for about a month now and I've used it every.single.night. since I got it. I wanted to really test it out before I said anything about it because I genuinely don't understand when bloggers have an item for 5 minutes and are praising or cursing it from the roof tops. Real life experiences here folks!

Initial thoughts:

  • I picked the Nickle Heritage Natural Spectrum Desk Lamp. I chose this one because it doesn't look like a craft lamp and it's adjustable.
  • It has three settings all with the same energy use.
  • It was easy to put together.
  • It was well made.

I'm sharing with you four photos taken two consecutive days in a row. They have all been taken with my iPhone with zero editing except to add text over lay.

You can see my first photo I took at 9 am in natural light in my usual stitching area. The colors are normal and true- this is my ideal crafting light. I let my stuff just hang out, I didn't touch anything (I had errands all day, lol) and at 9 pm I came back to take another photo and stitch for an hour before bed.

The second photo is of the same materials, same spot on my table but with NO other lights in my room on except the Verilux in the *low* setting. The lamp has three settings: low, medium and high. I've never used medium or high. I've found I just don't need it. Low provides ample light for me personally.

For stitching, this lamp is so awesome. I like that I've been able to stitch in the evenings on 32 ct linen and can see perfectly fine. I don't find the light bulb hums or buzzes. Quite simply: it's a lamp and it's doing it's job!

For knitting, the following day I laid down my sock in progress on my table, took a photo, again with my iPhone with zero editing except to add text over lay and left it there.

9 pm, my sock looks the same! You'll notice glare spot on my table, this is my tables typical behavior (can tables behave? idk!). It has a really glossy surface and I wax/polish it. You'll rarely see this table in photos that I take with my DSLR because the stabilizing light causes spots in the photos. I think what this photo best shows is I'm knitting with white based yarn and the lamp keeps it white! It's not cream. It's not yellow-y. It's still white! Cool huh?

I'm pretty pleased with this lamp. I told Chop that when we buy a home, I want one of the floor lamps in this style to keep next to the couch. I'm pretty curious about the light therapy lamps as well!

Verilux generously is offering 25% off with promo code PORKCHOP and is letting me giveaway a lamp! AWESOME! Just comment on this post and on Tuesday, I'll close the comments at 12 pm PST and use a random number generator to pick a winner!

:):)

Sock Yarn & Book Covers

 
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Things I love:

  • reading!
  • knitting socks!

So today I thought it would be fun to sort through some of my stash and see if I could find yarn that matches book covers! The kind of yarn that even though the dyer didn't set out to create book cover themed yarn, they totally did! There are dyers who dye yarns inspired by books, t.v. shows, pop culture, etc but these are just skeins from my stash that reminded me SO much of book covers! Sometimes you finish a book and you don't want your time with the story to end...so socks inspired by books?! YES!

The yellow of Eleanor's shirt, the orange of her hair, the dark parts of Park's hair, the blue of his shirt! Alternately, this yarn could also work for Flat Out Love but I liked reading E&P better!

The glass city at the bottom of the cover is this gray green with all the fire-y angel wings in the background. Also, excellent speckles give the same texture as the cover!

I'd get an F at making this list if I didn't include this book cover, it has a freaking knit sweater on the front! The blue of the title, the purple of the sweater, the pink of the deer and the brown of the rope are all in this skein!

You might just have to trust me that this color is an exact match to America's dress on the cover- this yarn was super tricky to photograph. Plucky always has the most rich and full of depth solids. Also- the name! All Spruced Up! Yup. I went there. ;)

Oh yes. This is the skein that sparked my curiosity of yarn+book cover matching. I saw Beata post a photo of this skein on facebook and I was instantly like TEARDROPPPPP! And it nails it! The ethereal water-y background of pale blues, aquas and pops of pink. So, so, so PRETTY!

Oh Karou! That mask! It's totally ombre and just dreamy! This skein looks like her face with the white title overlay. I loved this story and think it deserved a whimsical skein. Plus the name just makes sense for this book!

We launched a new pattern today- Cherry Blossom Sampler and as we were working on it I kept thinking about this Opal yarn I bought that reminds me of sushi. It's not a book cover but that's ok ;)

So how about you? Can you think of any skeins in your stash that might match book covers?!

WIP Mermaid Hair Socks

 
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The light tonight was just too pretty not to share with you!

I debated blogging but I feel like I have absolutely nothing exciting to share with you!!! But that's ok right?!

Glitter/Sparkle yarn! Have you ever knit with it before? I have a few skeins in my stash and this skein of Mermaid Hair by Squirrel Stash Yarn was just begging me to cast on. Her yarn has the cutest names, the sparkle base is called Hazelnut Glitz and my order came wrapped all sweet with an adorable stitch marker. It definitely didn't hurt that my yarn came the same day as my new DPNs!

I've been hemming and hawing about these needles, double pointed needles, trying a new way of sock knitting etc for months. Seriously. How many times have I asked you guys your thoughts on them? A million times. My very first sock was knit on DPNs and it was...rough. I knit the second sock on circular needles and it was like a light bulb went off in my head but lately it just isn't working for me, especially two at a time.

For comfort reasons, I thought I'd try a pair of short DPNs and so far, I love them. Like, LOVELOVE. Also, I'm not sure how it's possible but I've cast on for these 6 days ago and I'm already an inch above the heel. What?! That is SO fast and I've barely had any knitting time, this was a project just in my purse- meaning I work on it in the car, waiting at appointments and while looking at tumblr at Starbucks. If you've never knit with circular needles, as you knit you have to adjust the cord but it's totally no big deal, I'm not sure if it's the lack of cord adjusting, the crazy sharp points or what but I just feel like these socks are FLYING. I am *not* a fast sock knitter at all and I'm definitely enjoying each stitch of these. We'll see if this keeps being awesome, I'll definitely report back!

I do find purling to be tricky so I need some practice on that. This is definitely not the neatest sock I've knit but I'm enjoying it. It also happens to match the cover of a book I'm starting tonight, Plus One so that's exciting.

:):)

The Mysterious Halloween Town!

 
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It's Mysterious Halloween Town Club Time!

Thank you all so much for saying YAY to more sneak peeks! Today I thought I'd share with you just a tiny bit of my Mysterious Halloween Town!

If you maybe don't know me or have never visited my blog, you may not know about my obsession with Halloween. I *love* it. I start decorating in August around my birthday. I've made 5? 6? Halloween quilts, ignoring the fact that it's too hot here for quilts in October. I got married on October 30th. I think it's pretty much the best holiday. Also: candy.

Last year we launched a super pretty and super special pattern, Halloween Spooky Sampler! Ashleigh & I were very nervous, it was our first time designing a pattern that used both hand dyed floss and hand dyed fabric. Plus it had that big lace-y border! But it turned out you guys REALLY liked it, it's one of our best selling patterns. I'm glad you like Halloween as much as we do! Seriously.

We listened to your feedback, we always do! You wanted more time before the holiday to work on your project and you wanted colors with more variegation.

While Ashleigh & I can't control each individual skein of floss (remember- they are hand dyed, making each skein unique which is super cool!), we did pick colors that are very, very, variegated. And we decided to start the club in June with four monthly installments released around two weeks after Once Upon a Time so if you want to make both projects, it's totally achievable! It also gives everyone over a month to source supplies, including our international friends! The timing is also so if you are like us and want to work on your project leading up to Halloween, the last PDF goes out in mid-September! We also decided instead of sending monthly emails that occasionally get caught in spam, we now provide a direct link for you to access your pattern each month in the introductory PDF. I *wish* we could work out something like ravelry's pattern delivery system for the future but we are trying this for this pattern and we'll see how it goes!

The colors are *super* unique in this pattern and we wanted to make that clear from the very beginning. Bubblegum pink! Lavender! Moldy and acid-y greens! Lots of black! It's a very bold palette of colors and super fun to stitch with. We are also using two brands of hand dyed embroidery floss, both Weeks Dye Works and The Gentle Art. If hand dyed floss isn't your thing, the pattern does include the DMC/COSMO conversions but keep in mind that your project won't look the same as the sample! The fabric we picked is a new Picture This Plus color called Wren! We are using it in the Crystal Cashel base which means it has opalescent thread woven in it. Opalescent = Sparkles!!! It's a very pretty warm gray that white looks really neat against.

Sooooo what will you be stitching? Oh just the cutest Halloween Town EVER! It's 11.4 inches long and 5.2 inches tall, so a long landscape! It has two buildings including...a BAKERY. And it has some trick or treaters- including Frankenstein that I'm sharing a photo of! See how neat that floss looks? His hair is Carriage Black and it looks so cool! The little owl was my favorite part to work on, he's stitched in Bubblegum & Lavender Potpourri, it was kind of tricky to take a photo of but one of his ears has two very dark purple stitches that I *love*. It has a few little Quaker elements, a lot of Kawaii elements and basically...it's adorable!

And I'm still stitching my personal project! I'll try and sneak in more photos but I don't want to spoil it too much for anyone, I know a lot of you like the mystery and guard it fiercely!

In addition to stitching, I'm also in the process of re-reading The Mortal Instruments series because City of Heavenly Fire comes out later this month! eep! eep! I'm both excited and nervous to read it but I'm sure I'll share those thoughts with you later on!

I hope you liked these peeks of Mysterious Halloween Town Club and have a good Friday!

PS: It's 90 degrees out and all I can think about while stitching a Halloween pattern is having a hot chai latte! lol!

Once Upon a Time Sampler: May

 
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How is it already May? My brain is still stuck in February and I have no idea why!

I realized earlier last week that I didn't blog about April's Once Upon a Time block! I'm not sure why, I love those bears so much!

This month is Jack and the Beanstalk! The cow just about kills me. I'm so glad Ashleigh designed the little bird- we are currently experiencing an epic spring migration and every free moment I have I've been out bird watching. I've been able to add 4 new birds to my life list. High 5!

It should come as NO surprise that we are launching a Halloween Club tomorrow. I've been working on it for the past few weeks and here is something I'm currently struggling with and maybe you can share with me your thoughts!

When we started TFPS, we just built super cute simple little charts and had computer generated covers. Now either Ashleigh or I stitch a version, plus two other ladies stitch for us as well. I *want* to share more photos of my personal projects but I'm afraid it's confusing to you guys! I'm afraid when you see my WIP, it might make you think that the pattern isn't finished or fully designed yet.

Last year when I was stitching Woodland Sampler along with you guys, a few people asked if we were just designing each month as we went which is/was definitely NOT the case. Since our business has grown, we have so many small elements that have to be completely spot on before we even release the pattern! For example: thread quantity! For huge projects like Once Upon a Time, that pattern had to be completely stitched before we told shops like The Cottage Needle & The Workroom which colors and quantities of floss to order. Which means, even though in my photos you see blank spaces, that chart is completely done and has already been stitched up twice!

I definitely want to share more photos with you guys because I *love* WIP photos. I love taking them and I love watching someones project grow each time they post. But I don't want to be redundant and explain "Yes, this pattern is finished. This is my own personal project" in every single blog post because I'm afraid the handful of regular readers will think "Amanda! We already know this!"

For the past month or so I've been working on my Mysterious Halloween Town Club and I've been wanting to share lots of photos with you but it's tricky deciding how much to post, when to post it, etc! I'm the *worst* at marketing and definitely need a class on it! I don't want my blog to become a giant ad but at the same time...GUYS IT'S A FREAKING HALLOWEEN CLUB AND I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU A HUNDRED MILLION PHOTOS.

So what do you guys think? Photos of cross stitch WIPs, are you into them?! Does it confuse you or does it make sense that I'm sharing my own projects?!

Making Project Life Work For Me

 
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I got caught up on Project Life this past weekend and finished my pages yesterday. Woo!

If you aren't familiar with Project Life, CLICK HERE.

Here's what works for me:

  • Printing my photos at home! I used this video tutorial to learn how to print two photos onto one page. I have this little printer and I *love* it.
  • Studio Calico Project Life Kit. This is the big one for me. If I spend money on a subscription, I have to use it. If it arrives in the mail, I'm SUPER excited to get home and use it. Each month is different so my book doesn't look like all one theme which I really like. It's also gotten me to try to use the filler cards more- they are just cute! And I like the journal cards, it's hard for me to not use a million photos. Photos are awesome but if I just did them...it would be way smarter to just have an album printed at the end of the year! This way I can add more "real life" stuff to my book with out relying on photos to tell a story.
  • Smaller size. I use a Snap! Binder I bought in December at Michael's on mega clearance. Sadly they don't have any left and mine is now full! I'm debating buying a different binder type for May but I want it small. 12x12 is super overwhelming!
  • Printing photos every other day (because I use one sheet of photo paper for two photos). I tried once a week, once per month and once every two weeks. Every other day works for me, especially now that I'm using more journal/filler cards. I can share my thoughts super fast. I have a phone timer set on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to remind me. Once a month was SUPER tedious for me, I couldn't remember half of what I'd done or the dates. Which brings me too...
  • I don't date my cards. I have a first of the month card and an end of the month re-cap card. The re-cap card I talk about stuff that happened, books I read, food I loved. The first of the month card I usually write things I want to try or events happening. I don't date my cards because sometimes there just isn't ANYTHING to share or maybe one day was so neat that I have 4 photos.
  • If I'm not sure what to add somewhere or I've tucked away a movie stub somewhere special (aka now I can't find it) I'll add a little sticky note with what is supposed to go there.

What didn't work for me:

  • Using a core kit. I bought the 5th and Frolic (I think that's what it's called?!) kit from Michaels. I used a 50% off + 10% off total purchase coupon in December which was awesome but by mid February, I was sick of using the same papers over.and over. And I was barely into the project! That was when I was *super* glad I joined Studio Calico, it freshened things up and made it less cookie cutter-y! Also, the S.C. paper is much better quality and more sturdy.
  • The Becky Higgin's corner rounder. It hates the photo printer paper and kept chomping my paper. Super sad because part of my album has rounded corners, part doesn't.

What I want to try in the future:

  • Adding text over photos in photoshop!
  • Making more layers of stuff on my cards. Right now they are pretty simple, sometimes I add a sticker, sequins or washi but I want to add more cute layers.
  • Make one page one photo!
  • More paper ephemera. Add more receipts, little tokens from events, etc.

Who's projects I admire & finding inspiring:

In reality my Project Life kind of looks like a 14 year old with a brand new glue stick made it, I think I'm ok with that. I practically use up every little sequin or sparkle that comes in each monthly kit. My layouts aren't fancy, they are fast and get the point across. I'd *love* to have a book like the ladies I linked too but...they are legit scrapbookers! I'm not so much or even remotely at that skill level! YET!!! BUT I am glad that I've kept up to date and my book is totally me. I like that I took so many photos when I was working on Follow Your Arrow because it documented the whole thing! I like printing silly things like cat memes. I like printing book covers and including them. I like jotting down daily thoughts- even though my penmanship is awful. I realllllly like knowing that at the end of the year I will have documented all of 2014!

How about you? Are you doing Project Life this year? How's it going?

Let's get cozy.

 
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First off, thank you for all your kind words and emails on my previous post. It was amazing how many friends reached out and said "YES. The joy of creating isn't there anymore" or  "Let's all share MORE little things". I have a few more thoughts to share on this subject but I'll save them for another day k?

Second off, can I just share with you guys some stuff that is inspiring me lately?

Tubularity! Whyyyyy is Martina Behm so dang CUTE? This is such a neat little pattern, it's something I can see myself wearing a ton. Also: I'm drowning in sock scraps. A quick dive into my scrap tub revealed these leftovers that I thought looked neat together. I probably will need to buy yarn or break into other full skeins today which I'm a-ok with! I'm not 100% sure I'm doing the increases correctly (she has a video but mine aren't looking *exactly* like she shows them) but I like knitting it. I'm looking forward to moving from yarn blob to yarn blob. That's a technical term k?

Ashburn! This is my summer knitting goal. I bought four skeins of Candy Skein Savory Fingering in Honey, Oyster, Grape Fizz & Plum. I got to meet Tami at Stitches West and she is just awesome! I can't decide which combo of colors I'll use but I'm excited to wear it next fall. This is one I'm really looking forward to just enjoying the process and relaxing with. I think it's going to feel similar to Multnomah, that is my current shawl that I keep it in my purse.

Bertie Bott's Yarn! Um WHAT! I was digging through my yarn bin and came across this cutie that Chop bought me...in 2012. WHY HAS IT NOT BECOME SOCKS YET?! Both pairs of socks on my needles right now at two at a time, which is totally fine but I want to have a single sock to keep in my purse. This is so sparkly. And Harry Potter themed. And a present from my favorite dude.

Reading. Reading. Reading. No seriously. I can't stop. This is my Goodreads in case you are also into reading. Which I hope you are.

The reading frenzy started when I discovered BookRiot. I don't know why it never occurred to me to look at book related blogs/websites but I fell down the rabbit hole and I AM SO INTO IT. Then I learned tumblr has a ton of YA book fandom. Now I'm using tumblr again and loooooving it.

My main reading goal this year was 75 books. But I wanted them to be REALLY GOOD reads. None of this "self published 100 pages stuff". Don't get me wrong, there are some super talented self published authors but I feel like the majority I read last summer/fall just weren't for me.

Here are five of my favorite books so far- also, I'm the worst at explaining why I like books so just pretend this is super eloquent k?

  • These Broken Stars. I've never read anything space related before and I reallllly liked this. Only the first bit takes place in space and I liked the world building. I hope the rest of the series involves space ships because they just seem really neat.
  • Cress. Oh oh oh. This is the online fandom I stalk the most. It's just such a unique series and it's beautifully written.
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters. This is my second favorite online fandom. Taylor very boldly inserts new characters and details into this book- the last in the series. Full confession- I rarely read the last book in a series. Especially if it's one I love. I'm always too afraid the author is going to kill it for me. I was satisfied with this ending. I'm looking forward to re-reading the entire series again from start to finish.
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. This one surprised me. The writing is just DREAMY. Poetic. Haunting. Strange. I liked it because it was just really unique.
  • Half Bad. I read one person say that this book could have been the childhood story of Snape. I'm not sure about that but it is also a really unique read. White Witches vs. Black Witches and White Witches...aren't the greatest. It's a dark story, I think it would be a good October read.

I'm currently reading The Name of the Wind, good friends suggested it and I'm looking forward to a long meat-y read. Speaking of meat-y reads- I decided that this summer my goal is to finish Game of Thrones. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm 59% through this book and just ARGH about it. I read it and I keep waiting and waiting and waiting for SOMETHING GIANT to happen but it's a about a MILLION little stressful events CONSTANTLY happening! I'd find myself reading until 1 or 2 am just waiting for it (I don't even know what it is!) to happen. It's just super suspenseful but also not at the same time. Does that even make sense? Probably not. But I follow a few fandom blogs on tumblr about the books and it's just a fascinating culture to me that I'm genuinely mad at myself for not just reading it! Also: 59%! That's a ton. But now I can't decide if I should start again or pick up from where I left off or WHAT!

Also, I'm currently cross stitching a new club pattern. And it's awesome. It's so kawaii and based on my favorite holiday EVER and I can't wait to start sharing photos with you. We have everything ready to go and I don't want to make any bold claims but this just might be the best thing Ashleigh has ever designed for me. Yes, for me. Because IT'S MY FAVORITE FLIPPING HOLIDAY IN MY FAVORITE COLORS. Granted, it's her favorite holiday and favorite colors too but...I request CAKE and there is CAKE. I said OWLS and received OWLS. I said PUMPKINS WITH ONE TOOTH and...yup. It's going to be good.

I'll be back hopefully soon to share my million photos of Once Upon a Time Sampler & Tea Time.

One last thing, Tracey suggested I try Young Living Deep Relief roll on essential oil blend. I'm pretty excited to give it a try.

<3

Quietly Creating & Missing Pickle Chips

 
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Hi!

Happy Sunday!

What are you up too?

Yesterday Chop & I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel! We very much loved it. As always, it was like an amazing visual feast.  I'm always such a sucker for his palettes and details.

I've been slowly but surely working on my Romi Hill Mystery Shawl.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot lately about "purposeful" & "quiet" creating. The kind of projects where you focus a lot on the process and not so much on the end result. I've also been thinking about seasonal flavors of potato chips.

2014 is turning out to be my year of purposeful creating. Everything I've done so far has been a slow journey.

Part of this is because my hand gets cranky if I knit or stitch for long increments of time. Part of this is because I literally don't have the energy to do a million things. And part of it is because I work full time on Pumpkin stuff- my personal crafting time is limited, therefore I want to make it count and be special.

Here is what I'm doing differently:

  • Love it or leave it! If the project I'm working on doesn't give me 100% satisfaction- it's a goner. I've always been pretty ok with this part, I've frogged countless knitting projects and taken apart many quilts but now I'm being more diligent than ever. See you later lame projects!
  • Use materials that bring you joy: Special yarn, special fabric, favorite sewing machine. Let's use all the favorites! I've been debating destashing stuff I no longer love because it stresses me out to have a ton of things that I'm not using. I literally put 95% of my fabric stash into storage because I felt like a jerk.
  • Make the process count. My knitting time is limited (my left hand gets sore) so I make it special. Favorite music or an audiobook, cup of coffee, new project bag, cute stitch markers, etc. I'll knit uninterrupted for an hour, rather than "knitting" for three hours but really I'm not knitting, I'm looking at  facebook or getting distracted by other stuff. This is the hardest one for me.
  • Figuring out which part of crafting brings you joy and focusing on it. I personally do not enjoy full sized quilt making. At all. I never have. We sleep under a down comforter, not a quilt for this exact reason. I enjoy it even less if I'm making the same block.over.and.over.and.over. But I *love* fabric and I love small patchwork, especially if it tells a story. So this year I'm taking traditional blocks and making a sampler. Just from scraps. When I have time. I don't have a giant master plan, I have some loose ideas. That is how quilting brings me joy: handfuls of scraps, loose plan, favorite small blocks.
  • The WHY. I think the number one question I get when I'm stitching or knitting in public is why? Why craft? Why create? Can't you buy socks at Target for like, a dollar?!  WHY DO YOU DO THIS?! Example: Why am I knitting a shawl? Because I absolutely love these two yarns. Because I want to support the designer. Because I wanted to support two indie yarn dyers. Because I like getting a little piece of the puzzle each week. Because I love taking photos of WIPs. Because my favorite feeling is watching something newly finished floating in bubbles of Soak Wash & anxiously tapping my fingers because I want to see how GIANT it gets. Because I absolutely want a navy & purple shawl to wear next fall. Because it's cozy! Totally cozy!  Because I hate being cold! Each project I'm asking myself WHY. But this doesn't mean "justify yourself". That's totally different and you should never have to justify your creations. Ever. Which brings me to the next part...
  • Enjoying the result. I have a confession to make. (I'm making my "serious Amanda face right now") I don't share many of my finished projects because it makes me uncomfortable when people ask me things like "do you sleep?!" "how do you knit so many socks, you must not have kids!" "do you even make quilts anymore or do you just knit"? or comments like "you are a machine"! It makes me feel almost ashamed about how much I do and don't create. And then I feel like I have to justify how much I create, why I spend my time/money/etc creating and well...that sucks the joy right out of it! I recently talked about this with a few online friends. They shared similar stories about how they'll finish a quilt, take DOZENS of photos but only share three because they are afraid of people commenting about the mistakes or asking why they chose certain fabrics instead of more "matching" prints. Or the fear of "overgramming" a project.  One knitting friend said for every finished sweater she shares, she's actually knit two but she's embarrassed  to share them all after someone added up the cost of her finished sweater collection! Who even does that?! RUDE! I *hate* feeling like social media makes me not want to celebrate my finishes. I *hate* that my friends don't share 9 million photos of their finished quilts. I hate that I've only seen like, 5 of my friends finished sweaters when I now know she's knit a dozen! I'm not sure if this sort of negativity happens offline, I only have three local friends and so far none of them have been like "AMANDA WHYYYYYY ARE YOU MAKING HALF A DOZEN PINK QUILTS!!!!!" (correct answer: Why WOULDN'T you?!) The things we create we SHOULD celebrate. We should be proud. Technically, in the age of $1 Target socks, we don't HAVE to create. But we do. It doesn't have to be fancy. I truly feel so inspired when I see someone do something like turn handspun yarn into a sweater. Or switch from aida to linen and *get* it. Or make a quilt and share their favorite block, even if it's not perfectly pieced. There is something WAY more inspiring to me to watch a project grow and turn into something than see three photos of a finished quilt with the pattern name, fabrics used and that's it. I guess I want to see more of why we create and more of us enjoying the things we make!

This year I'm probably going to create less. But I'm definitely going to try and enjoy every single second of it!

And I'm also going to throw a mega hissy fit if the Safeway in town doesn't bring back pickle flavored Lays potato chips.

SO! to summarize!

More creating with less pressure, enjoying the process, sharing more, more favorite stuff being used and hopefully pickle flavored chips being consumed while doing all of these things.

<3

Behind the scenes at The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

 
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Is there anything happier than a little pile of finished projects?

Today I'm going to share a few behind the scenes personal thoughts and some inner workings of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery!

Last  Fall Ashleigh & I decided to do things a little differently and I wanted to share some business-y stuff with you today! And a lot of it is personal but let's have a real life talk this Friday k?

When we design a pattern, it's now stitched three times before it's available for sale. Yup! Three times! One of us will stitch it using whatever specific floss the pattern calls for, then one of our sample stitchers will use all DMC and one sample stitcher will use all Cosmo.

We started doing this for a few reasons:

  • Sometimes colors don't convert quite right. Example:  we pick a DMC pale pink and we think we've matched the Cosmo pale pink version but when it's stitched up, it doesn't look the same.
  • Testing the thread quantities. Everyone stitches differently and depending on your method, you could use more or less floss than we do. When we have *big* projects, we want people to only have to purchase supplies once and have those supplies last the entire year.
  • We have the budget to help two stay at home moms earn a little extra money. We pay them the industry standard, give them all the materials and we let them keep the finished project. In return we have the peace of mind knowing our pattern works well!

When we decided to stitch in addition to hiring people, I was more than happy to let Ashleigh do the majority of the stitching. She's a beautiful cross stitcher. I am *not* the best stitcher. And I'm *really* hard on myself. I overly analyze every single stitch, I'd stress out that I was too slow, I'd compare myself to friends who have been stitching 20 years, etc. But! Partnership doesn't work like that! I felt super guilty because Ashleigh already has a ton of work (she does all of our PDF building, graphics, shop maintenance, etc) and hello, I spend 70% of my day encouraging people to try cross stitching or go from aida to linen. Time for me to BUCK UP!

Sooooo in September/October I started stitching The 12 Days of Christmas with the knowledge that we'd be using my project for all the photos, pattern covers, etc. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING RIGHT?!

It ended up being a really enjoyable project. I'd get up in the morning, have coffee and listen to podcasts and just STITCH. It became relaxing and I started to learn what works for me and what doesn't. I think this project I fell in love with cross stitch and now it's pretty much all I want to do!

What works:

  • I love using hand dyed floss. I find it inspiring in the same way I find hand dyed yarn inspiring, it's subtle and it's beautiful to watch each stitch develop. If I had the chance, I'd stitch EVERYTHING using hand dyed floss. But I know not everyone has the budget for it which is why our patterns contain DMC/Cosmo conversions. 
  • I prefer to make each individual stitch, rather than the Danish Method of doing a row of  bottom stitches, then coming back and completing the stitch.
  • Loop start method. It doesn't work for hand dyed floss and some traditional stitchers don't like this method because your causing half of the thread to twist into it self but I really like it.

What doesn't work:

  • Waste knot method of starting. I somehow never catch my ends.
  • Stitching on smaller count fabric, I tried 32 and thought I was going blind. This is constantly drama between Ashleigh & I because she LOVES smaller count fabric!
  • Stitching at night. I just can't, I prefer daytime stitching.
  • Big blocks of color! I prefer stitching lots of little bits of color.
  • I haven't found my preferred hoop/frame/stand yet. I love the tight tension of QSnaps but they can hurt my hand after holding them for a while and they do squash my stitches (I stitch loosely). Scroll bars are awesome but mine is a strange size.

So back to business, before we release a pattern, it's been stitched three times which is awesome! From a business stand point, this is a big deal.

Why?

Because before the pattern is even sold, we have a fair amount of money invested into it. Smaller projects we have $200-300 and larger projects like Once Upon a Time we have easily double that.

In terms of business, this where we are different and it's risky. We could very easily post on facebook and ask for sample stitchers in exchange for free patterns, we've done this before and it's totally fine, lots of designers do this and there is nothing wrong with it. At all! We could provide the materials to our stitchers but keep the finished project to use for our photos. We could ask for free thread, fabric and supplies from the shops we work with to keep our costs down. There are a LOT of options that would involve less monetary risk for us but at the end of the day, I want to be the best small business owner I can possibly be. I want to be fair. I worked for many, many, many years for free and you know what? It stunk. So my business = my rules. Are our sample stitchers getting rich? No. But they have a regular income that they use for fun money or dance lessons for their kids or whatever they want. This way there is no question of what we expect from each other!

In addition to sample stitching we have a team of three proofers! These ladies check all the patterns for errors. We have two who proof exclusively larger patterns and one who works just on the smaller patterns. They are paid per PDF. Why do we hire people to proof our patterns? Because when you buy a cross stitch pattern for $19.95, I want to be dang sure you are getting the best we can personally give you for your hard earned money. Ashleigh & I literally look at these charts for 8+ hours per day, mistakes slip by us. And since our charts now come in color + b&w, printer friendly + mobile device friendly, that is a LOT of things that have to line up and keep track of! Do little things still sneak by eight sets of eyeballs? Sure! We are human. But we try really hard to avoid that at all costs!

I still get butterflies in my stomach right before we release a new pattern, what if we missed something! What if no one likes it? "What if" is a line of thought I'm constantly struggling with, especially now that we do have people who depend on us! Ashleigh just bought a house. Chop & I are currently saving for a down payment for a home. We have three shops who carry supplies for the patterns, that's a leap of faith on their part. What if everyone downloads it illegally and we only sell two copies? (this is a major concern 24/7 for all designers. Seriously.) It's a little nerve wracking (ok, very scary sometimes!) but at the end of the day, I realize we are working harder than ever and I truly believe that hard work pays off. We both have become big on taking leaps of faith, celebrating small successes and enjoying what we do. After a particularly trying time, a few facebook friends said "you guys should just design what you LOVE, with materials that make you happy and ignore the rest" and they were absolutely right. I think when you love what you do, it's infectious. I know I personally support small businesses who I watched go from a tiny shop to a legit big deal. I am SO emotionally invested in their success. I've never even met half of these people but watching them achieve their dreams is so incredible. I am a huge small business cheerleader. Sometimes I take a step back and see that we have our cheerleaders too, I can think of five people off the top of my head right now who have bought every pattern we've ever made since the beginning. These are the people who I wish I could hug (I got to do this at Stitches West to two girls!) and say "hey, thanks for believing in us when we kind of had no clue what the heck we were doing but we really wanted to do this". These are the people who I want to look at our patterns and think "dang, I'm proud of you girls!" It's kind of cheesy but it's totally true. Because I know I have friends who when I see their success, I want to squeeze them to bits.

In the past two years, we've grown SO much as small business, as designers and as a partnership. Am I saying we have it 100% figured out or we are the best in the business? No way! I don't think we ever will. We are constantly evolving and learning what works for us. We have a lot of things we are trying and some things work, some don't! Are there days when I want to cry when I see someone taking our hard work and copying it? YES. I wish I could say I'm joking but there is another monthly sampler that is literally a copied & pasted version of ours. NIGHTMARE! But are there days when someone I admire mentions us on their podcast and I do a dance and call Ashleigh screaming with excitement? YES. Do I see someone who's blog I *love* cross stitching one of our patterns and fall out of my chair thinking "how do they even know we exist?!" YES. The excitement typically outweighs the negative because...well, I get excited real easily. We've sold patterns to over 20 countries world wide and I get REALLY excited when I have to google where one is located (Andorra! <3!) Do I sometimes text Ashleigh and say "Did you see so & so's finished project?! omg so cute!" YES. CONSTANTLY.

This little pile of finished projects will hopefully provide some eye candy for you today. I guess the point of this post is just to share with you what we try to do as Pumpkins and maybe inspire you this weekend to try something new or take a leap of faith on something you've been thinking about?! Or maybe make you excited and think about your own personal success! Also, I struggle with sharing and being personal on my blog. I went from being incredibly open/bordering on TMI to sort of becoming a clam. I sometimes think that blogging requires a cape and a monogrammed leotard because being open about your life, goals and how you choose to do things takes courage.

I hope you have a good weekend <3

Zombody Loves Ewe Socks

 
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I finally finished a pair of socks!

I feel like these took me so long, my left hand gets super grouchy if I knit a ton so I have to take days off which is totally a bummer. Nothing makes me happier than a pair of plain socks on my needles, I like being able to work on them with friends or in the car and not have to do a whole lot of thinking!

The yarn is Zombody Loves Ewe by Desert Vista Dye Works it was a Valentine's Day present from Chop. I liked working with it because I'm such a sucker for a speckled yarn, the decayed bits cracked me up!

I truly love knitting the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, it fits so well and is really fun to knit. I know I sound like a broken record but if you haven't tried this heel yet, give it a try! It's super satisfying.

Naturally I'm already plotting a new pair of socks. I saw this braid of fiber a few months ago and pretty much died. I loved the colors so much but I'm absolutely not a spinner! I tried in college and just failed at it. I'll just live vicariously through you guys. I fell over when I saw that Mutant Flamingo was now available as sock yarn! I literally texted Ashleigh and did a little dance of excitement. Can you see the little speckles?! It's so cute, plus I'm a sucker for anything zombie/mutant themed. Also: cat label!!! <3

My knitting time is also slim because I've been cross stitching so much and to be honest, I'm addicted! I've been enjoying my afternoons just cross stitching and listening to music. I feel pretty lucky that people seem to enjoy stitching our patterns, it just makes us design more and work harder. When I go a few days without stitching I start to miss it! I've started becoming border line obnoxious to Ashleigh, I text her cross stitch work in progress photos about a million times per day. It just doesn't get old!

I took a few photos of a new project we dropped off to be framed, I'm going to share them later on this week. Cross stitch is surprisingly tricky to take photos of! One of the projects is on this hand dyed green fabric that is so hard to capture, it's really unique. I think I love indie dyed linen just as much as I love indie dyed yarn. We recently contacted two different thread manufacturers to hopefully work with later on this year. Both are really beautiful and smaller companies who I think if you like to stitch, you'll like to use their thread!

Are you guys familiar with Welcome to Night Vale? It's a very spooky pod cast that is presented like a community broadcast and it.is.weird. In the very best way! Chop & I have been listening in the evenings and sometimes we just look at each other and go "WHAT THE WHAT!!!!!" It's very dry and twin peaks like. I've also started reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which is also spooky and strange. I read The Darkest Minds this weekend and I was kind of let down. I loved Liam (darlin') but I couldn't muster any feelings towards Ruby.

:):)

Sunshine & Shadows

 
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Yesterday after a very productive business meeting (think a million Halloween cross stitch patterns) & a dr's appointment, I went by Trader Joe's and was SO excited to pick up a new plant! I have a super soft spot for Oxalis. I love how they open during the day and close at night. And $2.99? Perfect. I'm keeping mine on the kitchen table. Last winter I got a solar bear at a local store and he looks EXACTLY like Party Bears, he is loving the sunshine today and he makes this sort of clack clack clack as he dances. You can see his little gray body in the first photo. Hilarious.

I finally finished a sock! It feels like it took forever but really it was only three weeks. I'm using Desert Vista Dyeworks in Zombody Loves Ewe and it's been a joy to knit with, the yarn is soft and the colors are just dreamy. I'm pretty sure I say this whenever I knit striped socks but they are so much fun to do because you just tell yourself "one more stripe!  and I'll cook dinner. one more stripe! and I swear I'll cook dinner. one more stripe, there are leftovers in the fridge right?! " and suddenly you have half a foot done! ;) I can't stop watching Susan knit her Zombody Go Bragh! on Instagram. Soooo cute.

I bought yarn off eBay last week! That's a first for me. I saw this Opal Smile Sock Yarn on ravelry and it reminds me SO much of an upcoming pattern that I'm cross stitching that I had to get it. Doesn't it look like sushi?! I ordered it on a Thursday and it arrived the following Tuesday. I was so surprised since I'm in California and the yarn was from the UK!

Have you seen that Romi Hill has a mystery shawl KAL this month? I'm totally going to do it. I picked two yarns from my stash: Cakewalk Yarns Sincerest (these have attempted to be socks 5x now) & Plucky Primo in Big Sky. Very, very, very different color combos from what I usually knit with and I like it! I originally picked a Koigu that looks like dryer lint (in the very best way!) but the base yarn is so different than the Plucky! I thought about buying a different yarn briefly but there is something really fun about a mystery pattern making you look at your existing yarn in a new way. I was VERY close to using a skein of Cakewalk Yarns Weenie and Plucky Feet in Barn Door. The red and the gray looked great together but I'm not sure I'm ready to use that last skein of Weenie just yet.

I bought Teardrop by Lauren Kate to read this weekend. Lately I want to read a million books that take place in the South. I definitely want to visit there someday! And as for The Undead Pool? I don't want to spoil it so I'll just say YAYYYY TRENT! I totally gave it five stars on Goodreads!

Did you see that Lindsay opened her shop, Patchwork Threads?! It's true! I had a super hard time choosing a tshirt, I ended up getting "I quilt so I don't kill people" which is perfect for me because it's gray (gray tshirts + jeans = daily uniform) and it's true! I've had ZERO sewing time lately and it's making me surly!

:):)

Once Upon a Time Sampler: March is for Three Little Pigs!

 
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Hello March!

And Hello Little Pigs!

One pig was smart and built his home out of bricks. The other two guys? Not so much. They made it out with just the hand knit sweaters on their backs! That wolf, eek! He's a real grouch. He's the first of two wolves in this pattern.

I just finished reading Siege and Storm this morning. I have mixed feelings about it! I really enjoyed the story but I felt so annoyed by the two main characters! But then the last 15% sucked me back into the story. People usually ask me if I'm a quilter or a knitter or a cross stitcher but by far, my favorite past time is reading. I'm totally a reader. I'm looking forward to starting The Undead Pool tonight!

I cast on last month for a new Brandywine shawl. I switched from keeping track of which row I was on from paper to adobe reader...well I updated the app and lost my row! So I picked up where I thought I left off and I am WAY wrong. Now I have 3-4 rows of mistakes but I'm not sure I have it in me to pull it completely apart! I've done 10 or 11 repeats of the second chart, oi! Sometimes I wish I had a knitting fairy god mother who I could mail project when I get stuck! haha!

We went and saw the Lego movie today...everythingggg is awesomeeeee!!!

;)

Sugar is Sweet Sampler: Sneak Peek

 
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Helllllo Sneak Peek!

Tonight is a super fun night for Pumpkin Fans. We have our March Once Upon a Time Sampler PDF mass email scheduled and ready to go at midnight PST. The subscribers will be the first people to see the full version of Sugar is Sweet Sampler!!!!

These photos were taken last month and are *not* the complete sampler! They are just a sneak peek! :):) There is one more special element on the top that we want to keep a surprise! Over the course of the next year, we'll be releasing a total 5 of these alphabet samplers. They range in subject matter, some are symmetrical like this one, others aren't. All of the projects are approximately the same size and stitched on hand dyed fabric using solid floss (ie- not overdyed threads)!

In addition to Once Upon a Time subscribers receiving the first look at the brand new pattern, they'll also receive a promo code for the Sugar is Sweet Sampler! Woohoo!

If you aren't a subscriber, don't worry! The pattern will go live tonight at midnight in our shop!

This project is *really* beginner friendly. It's small- just 6.1 x 6.1 inches. For ease of stitching, start in the middle of your fabric with the middle of the chart- it's the alphabet. Then you can work outwards. It's very instant gratification, the desserts stitch up very fast! You'll have generous borders and it could be framed, turned into a wall hanging or even a little pillow! I had mine framed  but I almost turned it into a zip pouch.We are stitching it on hand dyed opalescent fabric, it's a silver-y gray with subtle brown smudges. It's really unique and beautiful.

The palette for this project is sophisticated and sweet! It's an assortment of pink, dark brown, pale yellow, mauve, beige and peach. It was a joy to stitch it because it's so different than anything we've done in the past! I literally had to force myself not to share photos of the WIP every five seconds on instagram! I think it's one of those projects that you could hang in a nursery and it could stay hung up all through childhood and into teen years. I plan on hanging mine in our kitchen!

We've teamed up with our three favorite shops for supplies for this project making supply purchasing super easy!

Picture This Plus

The Cottage Needle

The Workroom

All three shops also carry an amazing assortment of supplies and notions! If you can, try and support independent shops before heading to Michaels/JoAnns!

I'll be posting some photos of the March edition of Once Upon a Time Sampler tomorrow :):)

Have a good weekend :):):)

Stitches West Recap

 
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Last Friday I went to Stitches West and it was a BLAST!

I wore my Follow Your Arrow Shawl and I'm so glad I did! I was worried it was dorky to wear something you've made to a knitting show but nope, everyone was wearing handmade stuff! I stopped so many people to compliment them on their knit goods! Everyone was really friendly.

I had a list before I went of patterns I wanted to buy yarn for, I printed the ravelry info page for each one so I'd have the yardage, a photo and suggested yarn all on one page. I'm not sure I'll have time for it all but I'm really excited. It's definitely going to keep me busy for a long time.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I've been sick lately, of course the day before we left I had a weird flare up and combined with nerves, by the time I got home I was a mess. I pretty much hate my stomach! I spent all day Saturday reading in bed which was both awesome and sad! We've had absurdly gorgeous weather here (70s!) and I wanted to do something outside, like go fishing or something!!!! But I did re-read Daughter of Smoke & Bone and wowowow. I first listened to the audiobook when it came out and gave it 4 stars but I didn't quite connect with the last 1/4 of the book when we learn about Madrigal. I'm not sure why but this time I really, really, really fell in love with this book. I ended up reading Days of Blood and Starlight next and again, totally in love. I was SO glad to have Zuzana in this book, she cracks me up. I started reading Night of Cake & Puppets this morning because clearly, I'm obsessed. I think the world building in this series is so amazing. I want blue hair. I want to visit Prague. I wish I could meet Brimstone. I'm reallllllly into this series. Have I made that clear?! ;)

Ok, so back to yarn. Sunday night I went out for tea with Chop and cast on for Multnomah by Kate Ray with some new Miss Babs Yummy in Verrassing. Her booth was just beautiful and I know, I know, you shouldn't use super variegated yarn for lace but I've been dying to knit this shawl for years and this yarn just puts a smile on my face. It's not a color I'd normally wear but wearing my hot pink arrow shawl gave me a little more bright color wearing confidence.

A few people on instagram asked if I'd share shop links so if you are itching for some new yarn & treats, here you go!

I'm working on cross stitching a new pattern, the one I mentioned previously that reminds me of things like The Great Gatsby, Downton Abbey and Art Nouveau all mixed together. It won't be released for a little while, we are shooting for potentially the first week of April. I'm stitching it, along with our two pattern testers. Then the pattern will be sent to our awesome proofers and if all goes well...NEW PATTERN TIME!!!

We do have a new pattern coming out on MARCH 1st!!! It's part of our new alphabet sampler series. We have a total of five alphabets of different themes that are really fun. These are really different than our previous patterns, a little more sophisticated! I'm going to share photos on Friday, I took photos as I went because I *love* WIP (works in progress) photos and it's just cute to see a pattern grow!

:):)

Follow Your Arrow & Cross Stitching

 
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Hi!

Happy Tuesday!

This weekend I finished my Follow Your Arrow Shawl.

And I have so many feelings!!! (I'm waving my hands around like a maniac- be thankful you can't see that.)

Ok, first off. What an incredibly enjoyable knit. I literally didn't want it to end. So, so, so much fun! I dragged this shawl with me everywhere. I'm currently wearing it as a lap blanket while I write this.

Second off. I can't figure out how to wear it! Ha! Typically I wear triangular shawls with the point forward, like a kerchief. This is a different shape and when I wear it that way, it looks as if I'm wearing a bib. Not the best look.  I tried to wear it traditionally, with the narrow ends around my shoulders and I look as if I'm pretended to be a super hero. Oh dear! I also ADORED knitting with these colors but wearing them...oh boy. I don't know if I can wear that much hot pink near my face without looking like a clown! ;)

It honestly doesn't matter though because I adored knitting it. And it matches my compound bow. Once I figure out how to comfortably wear it, I'll take more photos & do a big blog post with details.

I started working on cross stitching a new pattern that we are planning to release this spring and it's cuuuuute! For some reason it reminds me of a cross between The Great Gatsby & Downton Abbey. I made a new little Hoop Travel Bag to carry it around in. Porkchop bought me a fat quarter bundle of Catnap for Christmas, I keep trying to sew stuff with it but it's very rare for me to own an entire line of fabric at once so I sort of want to use it all in one quilt but finally I decided CAT BAG!!!!

Last week Ashleigh & I received the sweetest surprise from Rachelle of The Cottage Needle! She had Sugarloaf, The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's official mascot, turning into a knitting needle gauge and a thread minder! EEK!!! Adorable right?! I am so into cute notions and this is like a little dream come true! I asked her if she could order more and she can if you like him too!

On Friday Porkchop is taking me to Stitches West, I'm pretty excited, I've never been before. I'm hoping to find a skein or two of some yarn to turn into special socks. Is anyone else going?!

Hello February: Stitching, Knitting & The Olympics

 
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Last week was SO nice. It rained, which we desperately needed here.

I spent four days watching the entire last seasons of Grimm, Lost Girl & Sleepy Hollow while stitching up a brand new sampler. I absolutely loved stitching every.single.second. of this new pattern. Unfortunately we can't share any peeks until right before we release it which REALLY bums me out. I personally love seeing lots of in progress photos (don't worry- I took a million) but sadly, there is another "designer" who has been borrowing large sections of our patterns and including them in hers! Gross! So Ashleigh & I have decided to keep this under wraps until we are ready to release it. It's currently being framed, we are hoping it'll be ready to be picked up next week. I shared a little photo of my floss remains, just because I couldn't NOT share it!

The new pattern is something completely new for us, it has a traditional element that we've had a lot of requests for but completely fresh and the colors are unlike anything we've done before. I'm not joking when I say I'd be up, coffee in hand and cross stitching by 7 am each morning because I couldn't WAIT to work on it. It has inspired us to shake things up and try new things. If maybe you want to cross stitch something modern but kawaii isn't up your alley- be prepared to love this sampler. Ok. No more talking about this project! ;)

February's Once Upon a Time block is soooo cute! We did The Frog Prince and his little crown kills me. If you are thinking about joining us this year, consider signing up soon because March 1st the price rises to $24.95! We've had so many people tell us how much they've enjoyed it so far and that totally makes us SO happy.

We also re-released our Owl Always Love You pattern! It is FAST, I stitched it in just a few hours onto perforated paper, I originally was going to make it into a card for Chop but decided to frame it. :):) It's a good pattern for someone brand new to cross stitching or if you want a little Valentine's Day decoration.

Once I finished my work for the week, I dove into knitting my Follow Your Arrow shawl. Normally I've been finishing the clues early in the week but this week I only knit a few rows per day to really enjoy the process. You've heard me say this before but since I normally only knit socks, there is something very comforting and therapeutic about a big knitting project sitting in your lap as you knit. Then on Friday...it was on. All knitting, all the time.

It turns out I *love* watching the Olympics. Like, completely and utterly obsessed. Like, installed the NBC app so I can keep up with the medals. Like, cried when Hannah Kearney got the bronze. Like, bought an Olympic themed knitting bag (you can get one too!!!). So, while it rained all weekend, I camped out on the couch and cheered my little heart out for Team USA. But really, I cheer for everyone. I felt like my stomach was in knots the whole time. I've been watching curling today which is less stressful, no helmets to crack open! ;)

Chop surprised me with an early Valentine's Day present- a skein of Desert Vista Dye Works Somebody Loves Ewe! He totally gets me. I saw Andi mention a thread in her ravelry group...so I went over and saw socks...you know what happened next. Yarn was balled, sock was cast on and started while watching men's alpine skiing which is terrifyingly awesome. That drop with the lake in the background! oh my glob. The thing about striped socks is it always turns into "just one more stripe"! ;)

:):):)

See you later January!

 
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I definitely didn't mean to leave everyone for practically the whole month of January.

I was working through some health stuff last fall, it's something that has been bothering me for years and I finally decided to get a second opinion. Which turned into twice a week dr's appointments (lots of knitting time!) and all was going ok-ish until the past few weeks when everything sort of imploded. I'm always trying to look on the bright side of things because there is always someone out there who has it a lot worse than you, but I'll admit I'm feeling not myself lately! Major GrumpChop Status!

On the bright side, hanging out on the couch has given me a LOT of knitting and stitching time!

I decided to make my own personal yarn club this year, I filled up a Buffy bag with yarns I reallllly want to knit with in 2014. So far I've made one pair of socks and cast on for a second. I'm making toe up Monkey socks with Miss Babs Northumbria Deep Sea Jelly Fish! I've been keeping this project in my purse and haven't really been knitting on it during the evenings becauseeeee....

My 2014 big knitting goal was to knit another shawl! I picked two colors: Madelinetosh Sock in Pop Rocks & Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Winter Woods. A few days later Ysolda started sign ups for Follow Your Arrow and I was totally in. I absolutely LOVE where this shawl is going. It's funny because I don't ever wear bright colors but knitting this is pure joy. I find it really comforting and relaxing. Each clue has been very achievable, it takes me about two afternoons of knitting. I'd consider myself an advanced beginner in terms of knitting skill level. I'll admit that every Monday morning I look at the spoilers before I pick my clue, lol. The European folks usually have a few photos up by the time I have lunch. It is really hard to pick though but I keep leaning towards the girl-y lace-y options. Again, not very like me but it's totally a blast!

In the afternoons I've been cross stitching too. I'm working on my Once Upon a Time Sampler. I'm excited for you guys to see February. I think my favorite month is November, I've been debating turning that one into a zip pouch or something. I stitched up a little  owl Valentine's Day pattern too. I'll have more details on it once we release it :):)

I saw a few people had questions about framing. We have our projects professionally framed. I'm still working on the best way to take photos of finished projects for the pattern covers and how to pick mats that look nice with frames! Sometimes we go to a local framing shop, other times we go to Michaels. Both times (in Chico, CA) we've had good experiences. The only thing I recommend is be patient. Maybe have a snack before you go in. ;) Lately I tend to get incredibly overwhelmed very fast and just pick ANYTHING to get out of the store and had my most favorite project, 12 Days of Christmas, framed with a horrid red mat! What on earth was I thinking?! I need to go back and get it switched out. That being said, framing is expensive.

I framed myself above little owl project myself this afternoon because it fit in this frame nicely, it came with the double mats already. I got it at Michaels-abuy one, get one free deal and since I stitched it on perforated paper, I just popped it into the frame and held it to the backing with acid free archival tape. I think it was around $34.00 for two frames, both with double mats. One is wood, one is white. There are all sorts of ways to frame projects yourself, some people use framing fabric adhesive and tape their projects around mat board, there are also mat pins and lacing as options. I'm waiting for a few books from amazon and the library about finishing your cross stitch, once I have more details I'll report back.

I am not sure why my blog hates firefox, it's the browser I use! I'll have Chop look at it this weekend and see if we can get the comments fixed. When in doubt, you can always email me at: thefrostedpumpkinstitchery at gmail dot com :):):)

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Keeping Organized & Inspired for Once Upon a Time Sampler!

 
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Tomorrow between 12:05 am and 12:30 am Once Upon a Time subscribers will receive their first pdfs!!!! I can't believe it's already starting!

Once Upon a Time is a year long stitch a long where the pattern is a mystery but it's fairy tale themed. Each month on the 1st you'll receive a piece of the puzzle and at the end of the year, you'll have a finished heirloom quality project! Sounds fun right? It totally is!

The best parts are:

  • You can sign up at ANY time. We know mystery patterns are hard to commit too so we keep sign ups open year round, you can watch the project as it progresses!
  • You can go at your own pace. With PDF patterns, there is no waiting. Once you download it, you can begin instantly. OR you can download it and work on it whenever you have time!
  • It's kawaii. Kawaii is Japanese for CUTE! And we designed it based on my collection of Japanese fabrics, it's inspired by so much in my personal quilting stash.

The project is BIG. It measures 11.5x17.75 inches and it's 173x246 stitches. Yup! That's a lot of stitching!

So how do you stay inspired and excited about this project for the next year? I've got a few helpful tips and tricks!

  • First & foremost, download your pattern as soon as it arrives. And be sure to read the email! We share tidbits about the fairy tale and  what specifically inspired us.
  • Keep your supplies in one handy spot!

Keeping your supplies organized for this project is super important! We hired two cross stitchers to stitch the entire chart to test it and at the end of the year you'll have very little left of certain colors.

  • Keep your threads together. Find a method that works for YOU! I find keeping the skeins on O Rings works for me. You can find these rings at Michaels, JoAnns, WalMart, Target, office supply stores, etc. They are simply metal rings that open and close. 
  • Save your thread! This is a huge one! Don'y ply down your floss and throw the other 4 threads away. Keep them with you! I use a really cute cat thread minder and it helps! I always know exactly how much of a color I have.
  • Most of us can't dedicate an entire room to crafting so find an a way to keep all your Once Upon a Time supplies in one place. I use a metal tin I bought at JoAnn's two years ago. I keep all my floss for ONE project in it along with the notions. If you keep your supplies always together, you don't have to worry about losing things during the year. Some people sew project bags or buy them on etsy and even gallon ziplock bags work! There is nothing worse than getting ready to sit down and stitch and realizing your scissors and needles have wandered off. Stitching time is precious.

On that note:

  • Stitch at your own pace. Maybe you can only stitch on your lunch breaks or while your baby naps. That is A-OK! This project isn't meant to be finished in an half hour. It's meant to be worked on all year long. It's designed to constantly inspire you. You'll find some months you may get the block done the first week the pdf comes out, maybe you'll fall behind a few months, but honestly- as long as you are having fun and enjoying the process, don't stress over it. At the same time, there are also people who I know are SO EXCITED that they've sent alarms so they can start as soon as the pdf arrives! And that is a-ok too! Don't compare your stitching journey to someone else's. We have people who have been stitching for years and we also have people who this is their first project! Cross stitch = happy time!

If you are a technology user utilize apps!

  • When the email arrives you'll see a button of Sugarloaf saying "Click here to download your pattern". At this point you'll be routed to a download, be sure to SAVE it! Depending on your internet connection, it may be slow to show up. Don't worry, it will show up, if you hit refresh too many times you'll be locked out. Once you save it, download the Adobe Reader app- it's free and it allows you to mark directly on your pattern! You'll hover over the top right hand side of the PDF and you'll see an arrow with a box. If you click this, you'll see a box pop up that says "open with" and you can pick Adobe Reader! I like this app because you can write on the pdfs! Meaning, if you need to step away from your project, you can mark where you left off.

If you aren't a technology user- don't worry! Ashleigh has specifically designed the patterns so they can be printed in very high quality. You'll find you can tape the two charts together to make counting super easy. If you are using paper copies, I like using highlighter tape to keep track of where I am.

Be sure to read the stitch guide. You'll want to start in the center of your fabric and work your way outwards- especially if you aren't using the recommended fabric. Simply fold the fabric in half horizontally and again vertically and mark where the lines meet. You'll line this spot up with the center of the chart. I mark mine twice, once with a marking pin & I draw on the fabric using a Clover Air Eraseable Chacopen. I have marked quilts for many, many years with this pen and I've never had it stain or not come off. This is a personal preference, some people like to thread baste, some like to use pencil, some measure borders. Ashleigh found it easiest to stitch the monthly dividers first, then stitch the border. I found it easiest to stitch my monthly divider over to the border and stitch the entire border, I haven't done the monthly dividers yet. It's totally up to you! I know quite a few people will want to stitch January's block ASAP and there are others who will want to do the frame first!

Here are some notions I personally use:

  • 11x17 QSnap. Size depends on how often you want to move your fabric around. I'm using an 11x17 but it is heavy and cumbersome. You can find QSnaps at The Cottage Needle & The Workroom.
  • Clover Wonder Clips. I use them to tuck the linen away while I'm stitching.
  • Needleminder. I collect them- they are just magnets that sit on your work so you don't lose your needle when stitching!
  • Needle Threader!
  • Thread Heaven- I don't use it as much as I used too but it's helpful in preventing snags.
  • Bohin needles- I prefer a size 28 tapestry but if you've never stitched before, go with a 26. 28's are smaller and can slip around a little too much if you are just starting out. A tapestry needle has a rounder blunt tip rather than an embroidery or hand sewing needle- this is to avoid snagging and damaging your fabric as you stitch. I use a smaller size because I find it easier when stitching on opalescent fabric.

I like this website for technique tips, it makes the most sense to me personally. When stitching with a solid color, I like to do the loop start method. If you are using Weeks Dye Works for the border, don't use this method to start, use the running under method we explain in the stitch guide. The loop method will break up the variegated colors and you don't get as dramatic of a result.

Tension takes some getting used too, it's something I still need to practice on a regular basis. You'll want to make nice, neat x's without pulling the thread too tight and distorting the fabric or too loose. Don't worry if you don't get it right away, you have all year to work on it!

I'll post my Once Upon a Time project, some changes I made and I'll also post  some of Ashleigh's project tomorrow! :):)

Coffee Break Socks

 
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If you've been following my blog, you may know that I'm obsessed with autumn.

Well, I have a confession to make.

The past two years, I've fallen in love with winter. It's been PERFECT here.

Aside from one very cold week, we are in the 60s during the day and 30s at night. Typically it rains but we are in a drought.

The landscape is very different now, fields that are bright green this time of year because of the rain are muted ochre. It's pretty much the best palette of colors. Lots of creams, tans, bits of dark brown, tiny spots of greens...I love it.

When I saw Miss Babs had a new Babette (one of a kind!) called Coffee Break, I turned showed Chop & was like "IT LOOKS LIKE GRAY LODGE!!!" That's where Chop duck hunts and we go birding, it's very close to our house and I love knitting in the car while he gets a number for morning hunting. I hemmed and hawed about buying it, I realllllly don't need any new sock yarn and it's quite different than what I usually get but a week later, I couldn't stop thinking about it and I got Ashleigh obsessed with it.

I love that she ships yarn SO fast. I typically receive my orders within 72 hours. That's amazing right?! And she's in Tennessee!

These socks were cast on Christmas Day here in Gridley, I worked on them in Chico. In Vina. In Corning. In Redding. In Ashland. And I finished them this weekend in McCloud. They saw a lot of beautiful winter landscapes and kept me company through my discovery of sugar free s'more flavored coffee syrup (World Market!).

Details:

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