I want to finish this WIP in 2013, so help me. My aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary is in 2015 and I’d like to get it sent to them before then.

So here is a picture of my progress. Not much, but I’m getting much farther on the windowsill. I make notes on my patterns. I like to plan out parts of the whole to make it easier to know what to stitch next. I’ll get the grapes and cheese after the window for sure. I like to even list which symbols are next so I can keep on truckin’.

Note the reference pic on the tin's lid. It's nice to see that my project is looking the way it is supposed to.
Note the reference pic on the tin’s lid. It’s nice to see that my project is looking the way it is supposed to.

And one of just the project:

I love it when it starts to come together!
I love it when it starts to come together!

My plan today is to sit around as much as possible and stitch and crochet. Hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

 

How do you get all that thread and stuff organized before you stitch? I admit that getting all that together is half the fun. It’s exciting to think about the work ahead, the beautiful piece as it slowly comes together. A place for everything and everything in its place. If only I could apply that idea to the rest of my house…oh the closets…yeesh…

I like to use cards to organize my colors. Kits will often come with a card (sometimes they are even color-coded for you, swoon!) but index cards work just as well. I use the index cards for projects in books/non-kits.

I’ll start with a WIP that came as a full kit that came with all the supplies needed. Here is Man’s Best Friend by Dimensions Gold. I consider this to be a large project, because the finished piece is bigger than 5×7.

First thing I do is scan the pattern and print out a copy. This leaves the original clean in case I lose the pattern and I can also print out as many copies as I need to if mark-ups make it hard to read. I often scan the pattern and enlarge pages, making them easier to read. Here’s where my mapping skills come in. I so love this. Make one copy for the main stitches and another one later for the backstitching and other details. Mark up that paper as much you want to. No worries! You can print another one! I keep the original pattern and the picture of the piece in a folder. I cut out the picture from the cover of the kit as a reference. I like to attach it to a tin with a magnet (handy for lost needles too) or just stash it in the box.

Maps, patterns, they're all the same principle.
Maps, patterns, they’re all the same principle.

For this particular pattern I separated it into 4 parts to form a square. It helps me to have a plan like this on bigger projects, to help break it into smaller parts that are easier to tackle. It’s much easier to read now that is is bigger. I began in one corner, and plan to go mostly counter-clockwise. Once I’ve started stitching, I tend to pick something out and finish it. You can see I’ve done the dog, then spread out to the grass, now I’m into the forest in the background. Once I finish that, I will even go through and put in the details (backstitching, couching, french knots) before heading to the next section. This is the first project where I have done the details so soon. I usually wait until the end, but this split into 4 squares so nicely, that I think it will work. Plus, that dang forest is pretty daunting, and by getting finishing it once section at a time, it won’t be so daunting anymore. The more I get into it, I may not want to do more green half stitches for awhile, but at least I’ll know that the bottom right section is done, you know? It can be maddening to go so long stitching away, then remember, zomg, I have to freakin detail this guy too.

Anyway. Next I separate the thread and organize it onto the card, where my Sharpies come in! I mark on the index card, or the card provided, the color names of the floss and their symbols, matching them as best I can with the actual pattern. Hence, I use blue, red, black, and green markers. The kits always come with nice instructions on how to organize the thread. I love drawing the little symbols. I recommend sorting the floss in a very well lit room; sunlight is best. Being in a sunny place with stitching is a bonus anyway. Backyard tables are great for this. I let the kids meander and get dirty while I get to sit at the nice table with a cuppa coffee. But watch out on windy days-a box or bag comes in handy. I’ll get to that.

This card came with the kit.  made the colors/symbols match the original. Coloring is fun!
This card came with the kit. made the colors/symbols match the original. Coloring is fun!

Anyway, again. I mark where I have stitched with a highlighter, typically yellow because I can still see what’s going on. Compared to say, blue, which pretty much covers everything. I may need to refer to a finished area again if I mess up, so yellow works best for me. Those highlighter pens are amazing. I know, I totally have pen crushes.

I use the markers again for detailing (backstitch, french knots, etc), but on a fresh copy. I just trace where I’ve been for the outlines, and make dots for the french knots, etc. Man, it made it a lot easier when I just started printing out more copies like that. Now I don’t worry about messing up the pattern. One less thing to worry about is always good.

Here is my progress so far:

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and what my WIP looks like as a whole:

Craft organize 2

(yes, that’s a cigarette tin. No, I don’t smoke but those tins are fab!)

I like keeping this one in a metal binder. I used these in school a lot for field exercises, and I use them at work too. They’re fairly indestructable and I love the clip to hold the pattern in place. I like using the colored tabs to mark out a section, like this:

Craft organize 1

There are fancy pattern holders out there that are very nice, too, but this has worked for me since about 1999. It ain’t broke, I won’t fix it. These aluminum boxes are available at most office supply stores. I use a lot of different boxes or bags for projects. Whatever is available or the right size will do. I keep most of the supplies I’ll need with the WIP, like scissors, highlighter pen, scrap tin, etc. Everything is there if I get the urge to work on it.

Back to planning: even though I had planned on going counter-clockwise, I think once I’m done with this section I will go clockwise, and stitch the man. Then I can finish the bottom left.

Who knows when I’ll finish this? I got it on sale at a well-known craft store, back when they had nice kits like this. I think this retails for about $30 and I found it for $7. WOOT! I’ll give it to my folks when it’s done and they’ll frame it. I have already done two or three lab projects for them. I have a weakness for labradors, especially tubby yellow ones.

I hope this helps you if you are thinking about getting into something a little more challenging than the tiny ornament sized kits or little charts from a book.

Who knew I could run and enjoy it? Who knew I’d look forward to those weird fun runs with the maniacs all dressed up and, like, -gasp-, running?

I was in the Color Me Rad run last Sunday and it was ridiculously fun. My buddies and my guys showed up to cheer me on and it was… just… really something. I never ever thought I would do these kinds of things, even Ben mentioned that, just after he said he was proud of me. <3

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Next up is the Dirty Dash in August, then another color run in September (with Penny and Will!! squee!), then Day of the Tread sometime in October. AWESOME.

Who is this girl? Who knew? :-)

P.S. If you are curious, I was 200lbs in Dec 2011. I finally decided to do something about that in January 2012. I’ve lost 25lbs so far. The main goal isn’t to fit in a certain size or even be a certain weight, I’m going for healthy and using a weight goal as a basic boring guideline. I know I’ll be much healthier if I keep going to that weight goal (150 based on my doc’s suggestion). I guess my ultimate goal is to see the person in the mirror look the same as the person in my head.

We don’t travel much, but it’s nice to be prepared when we do. I have had this pattern set for years, and I made the nap mats for both boys. I made a watermelon one for my oldest and the space/astronaut one for my youngest. I just finished the space mat yesterday! The whole project, start to finish, (assuming you have time and no one to interrupt), takes about 2 hours or less. I didn’t have a lot of sewing time for the space one, and lots of people to interrupt me, so I think I cut out the pattern about 2 months ago, but sewed it all yesterday.

They are so adorable!

Here they are side by side, open:

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And closed. Watermelon has red snaps, space has blue buttons. Snaps are a pain and the buttons look so cute! I love the red snaps on that mat.

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They are machine washable, too, which is required in my house. The kids love them. I made them because they are easy to squash into a suitcase and wherever we go, they have their own bed. I can fold a special blanket in them, too. They are comfy anywhere: beds, floor, couches, etc.

I used McCall’s Crafts M5604.

M5604

I think I bought it at Hancock’s Fabrics, but I imagine it is available anywhere patterns are sold. Baby/kid stuff is so fun to make.

I have these too. I hope I can tackle those someday. I have my own ideas for a superhero busy book, too…so many ideas…

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My mom almost always made this cute bunny cake for Easter, and this year it was my responsibility. We had such a good time! Cakes are always better with candy. My youngest kept sticking his whole hand on the cake and trying to grab a piece that way, so my mom fed him m&ms to keep him off of it. :-)

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Bake a cake in two round pans. One round is the face, and cut two ears out of the other round. The bowtie is the middle of the second round. Frost and sprinkle with coconut, then go to town with candy decorations. I made the cake from scratch with a Betty Crocker Silver White Cake recipe. I bought the frosting because it’s easier and just as yummy.

mmmm…cake…