August to mid-September 2018 Wrap-Up: part 2 of 2 (books & movies/tv)

[Part 1 is HERE and recaps the needlework goings-on.]

BOOKS:  (These have been added to my Books Read page found HERE.)  

Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult) — Written from the points of view of a black nurse, a white supremacist, and a white public defender; racism is a central issue.  The kindle version I read contained an author’s note, which I was hoping it would, and a good bibliography.

Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman) — I’d read The Rules of Magic a few months ago, which was a prequel to this book but this book had been written first. For me, both books stand alone just fine; you don’t need to read one to enjoy the other. I did wish I’d not already seen the movie before reading this book.

Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah) — The first part of this book had lots of “brings back memories” references for me from the 1970’s and 1980’s. This book left me feeling melancholy.

Calypso (David Sedaris) — Enjoyed this one.

Retire Inspired (Chris Hogan) — I actually didn’t finish this one, but am placing it on my list because I do want to come back to it as we move further along in our debt-free journey.

Talking As Fast As I Can (Lauren Graham) — This was interesting, although I suspect it would’ve worked better for me as an audiobook.

On Turpentine Lane (Elinor Lipman) — A light, fun read.

The Outsider (Stephen King) — I’m not a fan of crimes against children being a plot point, and this book starts off with a graphic one…and the details get brought up several times throughout the book. I opted to skim liberally in order to finish the story.

Labyrinth Lost (book 1) (Zoraida Cordova) — This fell into the “not for me right now” category. I did finish the book, but won’t be moving forward in the series right now.

Notes from a Blue Bike (Tsh Oxenreider) — An older book and I’m not the target demographic, but I like Tsh’s writing voice and did enjoy the book.

Magic Hour (Kristin Hannah) — I liked this one a lot. The plot was a step off the beaten path from what I usually read in fiction, and that was a nice change.

 

TV SERIES:

Secret City (S1) — I enjoyed this, although I did have to make a point to pay attention and not be fiddling with my phone at the same time ;-). It was a good show to watch while doing needlework. (netflix)

Sneaky Pete (S1 & S2) — I liked both seasons and will watch S3 when it’s released.  (amazon prime)

Great British Bake Off (2017) (aired on U.S. Netflix 2018) — Love. Love. Loved it!! I enjoyed the new judge and hosts, as well. (netflix)

Sisters (S1) — I enjoyed this. (netflix)

Madame Secretary — I  watch a few episodes then take a long break before going back again. I like the cast quite well; I’m just not always in the mood for a government-crisis-of-the-week show. (netflix)

 

MOVIES:

Captain Fantastic — Loved it. What a great cast. This is one I’d watch anytime I came across it on tv. (I think I watched this during a free weekend of Showtime via our Sling app)

Moana — Loved this one, too. The story was thoroughly enjoyable; the animation of the texture and movement of Moana’s and Maui’s hair was superb. (netflix)

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before — Also loved this one, and will absolutely watch it again. I’ve not read the books, and probably won’t since I enjoyed the movie so much. (netflix)

Victoria & Abdul — I love Dame Judi and thought she did a fantastic job of portraying the loneliness and isolation of being a queen. Wonderful cast. Beautiful scenery and costuming. (hulu)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri — I’ll watch most anything with Frances McDormand in it. Another great cast. (hulu)

Avengers: Infinity War — Whew! There was A LOT going on in this movie. I had planned to stitch while watching it, but found I missed too much if I looked away from the tv. For such a long movie, I thought the time went by quickly. I did end up googling for an explanation of the ending (I’m not a comic book reader nor am I otherwise immersed in the Marvel Universe). I’ll definitely watch this one again when it lands on netflix or amazon prime. (amazon rental)

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society — I enjoyed this movie; I’ve not read the book. (netflix)

 

PODCASTS:

Sorta Awesome Ep. 162 re: Self-Care, Self-Comfort, What’s Healthy, What’s Not — I don’t typically recommend specific podcast episodes, but this is one which, as I listened to it, I thought would be interesting and helpful to pretty much everyone I know.

 

WEIGHT- & DEBT-REDUCTION PROGRESS:

I’ve lost about one-third of the weight I’d like to lose, and have, since the end of July, been maintaining that loss within a pound or two. I’ve not been actively trying to decrease my loss further just yet; it’ll probably be another month or so before I’m ready to shift from maintaining back to losing.

This month we paid off our smallest debt and were also able to pay an additional amount on the next smallest debt, which felt great! I imagine it’ll take another month or two before we have our budgeting process tweaked to what works best for us.

 

RECENT FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS:

thunderheads

sisters

yellow rose

daisy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August to mid-September 2018 Wrap-Up: part 1 of 2 (needlework)

I’m a wee bit behind on posting a wrap-up. There’s a lot to post, so I’m splitting it up into two posts.

NEEDLEWORK:

Cozy Blue Stitch Club — April 2018 pattern:  I finished this project, which I’d started in July.

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I used my own color choices (DMC 51, 90, 92, 107, 436, 3839, 3840), using all 6 strands for a chunkier look, and did a little bit of colored-pencil tinting. I was reminded while stitching this project that I’m not a fan of using plain backstitch; I did end up whipping some of the backstitched areas but not all of them. I used to love using stem stitch and outline stitch back when I was embroidering a lot, so will begin using those more often again. I do love how the fishbone stitch turned out, such a gorgeous stitch!

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This was relaxing to stitch on in-between cross-stitch projects. Embroidery goes so much faster for me than cross-stitch, but sometimes with embroidery my brain comes to a screeching halt about deciding which stitch to use next and which color to use next, and with cross-stitch that’s typically a non-issue. On the other hand, with embroidery I don’t have to count squares and I’m not as pokey of a stitcher. The two types of stitching are good counterbalances to each other for me =).

 

Ain’t No Party Like An Introvert Party by Stitchy Little Fox:  I stitched this up to keep for myself. This was a fun, easy project and it makes me smile when I look at it =D.

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Fabric:  Loops & Threads 14-ct “Oatmeal” Aida (purchased at Michael’s craft store); this Aida is a bit softer than the Charles Craft brand I find at Hobby Lobby. Thanks to Christine, aka Calico, for mentioning this brand of Aida on one of her Flosstube videos!

Floss:  DMC 310, 601, 906, 740, 3844, using 3 strands of each to get fuller coverage

I did add an apostrophe in front of “cause” since it’s short for “because”, and not having the apostrophe changes the meaning of the word — grammar nerds unite!! 😛  I didn’t worry about trying to adjust the spacing to fit in the apostrophe, I just smooshed it in there.

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I hooped it up on a plastic Yarnology hoop from Hobby Lobby — this was my first time to use one of those hoops and I love them so much more than wooden hoops! I laid the cross-stitch on top of a piece of white quilting cotton then hooped them up together. I like having a piece of fabric or felt on the back of the stitched piece, to provide opaqueness and to protect the stitchwork, and hooping up the quilting cotton with the Aida was quick and easy.

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I fairly often change up the way I finish off the back of my hoops. My current method is to fold over the quilting cotton to the back side, then use narrow double-sided adhesive tape to adhere the quilting cotton to the hoop, then another piece of tape to adhere the Aida to the quilting cotton. This is very easy, and I don’t make a mess of things like I do when using hot glue :P. Also, if I want to remove the project from the hoop and finish it a different way, it’ll be easy-peasy to disassemble.

 

Bob Ross by Good Morning Maui:  I stitched this up for a friend, and love it so much I’m going to stitch up one for myself!

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Fabric:  Loops & Threads 14-ct “Oatmeal” Aida

Floss:  the called-for DMC except I substituted 168 in place of 762; 3 strands of each to get fuller coverage, backstitched using 2 strands

I did opt to outline it in black and think it helps the design “pop” out from the fabric a bit better, especially the white part of the artist’s canvas.

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I put it in a plastic Yarnology hoop, with white quilting fabric behind the Aida, and finished it off the same way I did the “Introverts” piece above.

I first saw this pattern on Instagram, and the finishing was super cute — check it out HERE (be sure to swipe because there are multiple pictures).

 

GIFTS RECEIVED:

I received happy mail :::doing the Snoopy dance:::!!! First up is a beautifully-stitched, delicate monogram from my friend Julie — such teeny-tiny stitches!! The font and colors are so “me”, as are the sweet needleminders, which have already been put into use — I love using the fox for my embroidery needle, and the fan and book for my cross-stitch petite needle =).

from Julie 001

from Julie 002

Then I received this fabulous scissor fob and lovely crocheted dishcloth from Kristi. I love the autumnal colors and how she matched the colors in the two items. Also, the charm on the scissor fob is a good daily reminder to let go of stress relating to not being able to Accomplish. All. The. Tasks. Today.

from Kristi 001

from Kristi 002

I received lovely cards from various family and friends. I usually only keep cards for a week then let them go, but this year I’ve been reluctant to part with them. So I put a couple of them on our decorative window frame, and a couple others have been turned into bookmarks (because I can always use bookmarks!).

(The frame is hanging straight. The picture-taker (that would be me!) was standing on the couch cushions, which didn’t make for the most level of surfaces.) 

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bookmarks

 

PURCHASES:

Oh boy, it’s been purchase-palooza around here!!! Some of these were gifts, and others were purchased with gift money.

These 3 charts were from my my husband and son: (a) Lizzie Kate “Dog Lessons for People #143”, (b) Plum Street Samplers “Turkey Sausage”, and (c) Amy Bruecken Designs “I’m Sorry, Did My Eyes Roll Out Loud?”. I can’t wait to stitch these up!!

patterns

 

I purchased Theresa V.’s (“KittenStitcher’) Issue One of her new digital zine, Samplers Yesterday & Today, which I enjoyed reading and which contained plenty of needlework eye candy.

Theresa's zine

 

I resubscribed to Just Cross Stitch magazine (digital edition), and rejoined the Embroiders Guild of America (although as an at-large member rather than a local chapter).

Lastly, I purchased some fabulous loot by way of Michelle BendyStitchy‘s fundraiser for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimers. I scored dyed Aida, patterns, silk floss, and a couple already-stitched items. It’ll be a fun box to open when it lands at my front door! Pictures will follow later this month or in October.

 

[Part 2 will recap the books I read, the things I watched, and a few other life goings-on. I’ll come back and edit this post to add a link to part 2 HERE once it’s live.]

July 2018 Wrap-Up

July was a low-output month in terms of stitching, reading, and watching. More about that later in this post =).

NEEDLEWORK:

After my cross-stitching frustration last month, I took a several week break from stitching anything. A little past mid-July, I unkitted the cross-stitch projects I’d previously kitted up, organized my floss, and looked to see what I had in the way of ready-to-stitch embroidery projects. I found two unstitched Cozy Blue Stitch Club designs, so started on this one:

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I’m using some DMC variegated floss, and, thus far, am sticking with simple, basic stitches. I may embellish . . . or I may not. I’m only stitching once or twice a week for an hour here and an hour there, so it’s slow-going. But I’m enjoying it!

 

BOOKS:  (These have been added to my Books Read page found HERE.)

Detective Sarah Alt series (Trudy Nan Boyce) —  I love this series! I especially liked the writing in the first book, Out of the Blue. The third book, The Policeman’s Daughter, is actually a prequel, even though it was released third. I read it after the first two books and did wonder if I would recommend reading it first, or reading the series in publication order, as I did —- normally I would prefer to read the prequel first, but in this instance I liked knowing what I knew about the characters’ future when I read the prequel.

Three Sisters, Three Queens (Philippa Gregory) — This was in my “you might like…” list from the library. This book is part of the lengthy “The Plantagenet & Tudor Novels” series, for which I found this reading-order list online. I found the novel interesting, especially the author’s note at the end. I would enjoy reading all the novels in the series, but would prefer to do so in chronological order; it’ll be quite an undertaking because I typically don’t find historical fiction to be a quick read.

Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) — (non-fiction) While I didn’t find everything in this book applicable/relatable to my life, all in all I enjoyed the author’s writing voice and her essays.

 

TV SERIES:

Killing Eve (S1) — Yay for Sandra Oh being in a series again!!! Bring on S2! (watched via BBC On-Demand)

Riverdale (S1 & S2) — Lots of familiar faces of all ages, along with some new-to-me faces. So much drama! I get a kick out of this show, and am glad to hear it received an order for S3.

 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND HERE—>2 THINGS:

Weight Watchers — At the tail-end of June, I read something that, for me, was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to not taking proper care of my health. Long story short: the next day I opted to attend my local Weight Watchers, and I’ve been going strong on the program ever since.

This is not my first attempt at W.W., not by a long shot, but this time I discovered the plan has been revamped in a way I’m finding to be very positive. No more weighing or measuring or counting points for fruits, veggies, eggs, skinless chicken/turkey breast, fish, shellfish, legumes, lentils, or nonfat plain yogurt. Granted, portion sizes are still important, but not having to count points for the aforementioned healthy foods is very freeing and also results in me gravitating towards more of those items when hungry. More options in the form of zero-points foods equals less instances of being hungry (or hangry!). If I’m hungry it’s not because I’m out of points, it’s because I’m not getting off my behind and getting myself a snack or meal in a timely manner :P.

For me, the change in foods I eat actually isn’t that big; rather, I’ve cut waaaaay back on non-fruit sweets, I’m not defaulting to pasta/starchy foods out of laziness, and I’m eating better-balanced meals. But I’m not eating foods I’d rather not eat (beef, poultry), and I am still eating within the confines of which foods won’t trigger health flare-ups of one type or another (which means I’m still limited on which veggies/fruits/legumes/nuts/condiments I can eat, and anything containing vinegar, citric acid, MSG, sulfites, or nitrates is a big ole no-no). Prepared foods, prepackaged foods, and restaurant foods remain problematic for me health-wise and will trigger all kinds of no-fun flare-ups, but not being a regular consumer of those types of foods actually works in my favor for W.W. because I rarely am in the position of using my points for those types of items.

My cravings for sweets have diminished considerably, and my “eat the feelings/stress” moments are much farther-and-fewer between.  Progress, not perfection!! =)

I also rejoined the gym because, as my husband said, we’ll gladly pay $11/month to walk indoors in the air conditioning!! (The summer heat seems particularly brutal this year.) I’ve been enjoying the treadmill quite a lot . . . I just prop my Kindle on the treadmill and read and walk undisturbed for an hour =D. I’ve also been easing into some strength-training with dumbbells at home.

I’m very happy with the weight loss I’ve had thus far and with the health improvements I’m already noticing. My body, on the whole, is easier to move around. I can bend over and tie my shoes without it being uncomfortable. I had a decent stretch of weeks without health issue flare-ups, which isn’t something I’d experienced for a very long time prior to last month. I’ve not had brain fog AT ALL in the past five weeks, not even when the outdoor mold count was sky high and my ears and sinuses were verrrry cranky as a result…….still no brain fog —- I can’t describe how amazing that’s been!! I can walk on the treadmill for an hour and not be out of breath. I’m starting to see and feel the muscles in my legs and arms again, which makes me all kinds of happy!!

W.W. has a fantastic app now, which I’m loving. It’s used for tracking your food/points, but also has an expansive community comprised of members and leaders, which I find to be as important for my continued success as anything else I’m doing (including attending weekly local meetings, which are important to me). Any time of day or evening when I find myself needing a boost of motivation to keep on keepin’ on with developing better health habits, I pop over to the W.W. app and read posts by other members.

The gym, preparing meals for myself, and being in the W.W. Connect community are taking chunks of time that I used to spend stitching/reading/watching tv, so that’s why there aren’t much of any of those things in my July recap. I’m also making an effort to move more when I’m at home, instead of defaulting to sitting down. Closets and cabinets have been cleaned out and organized, and the fridge has been cleaned more thoroughly than it’s ever been cleaned :P. Don’t get me wrong, I can still park my rump on the couch and not move for a while(!!), but I’m trying to do less of that ;-).

(By the way, I’m purposely NOT mentioning numbers related to weight. I may mention these numbers when I reach my goal . . . or I may not. I prefer to use the number on the scale as just one of many tools in this journey — it’s not the be-all-to-end-all — so I’m not making it a focal point at this time.)

 

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps — This is the other new thing that’s going on . . . my hubby and I are hard-core in debt-elimination mode. Interestingly, taking control of personal health and taking control of financial health have A LOT in common!! Being of an age where we see the financial and health struggles with which older loved ones are dealing has made us take a hard look at where we are . . . and think about where we want to be 10, 20, and (if we’re so lucky!) 30+ years down the road. I read Total Money Makeover, and watched 1 of the Financial Peace University dvds (which was the only one our library had), and I’ve gotten lots of good ideas from the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram. As with Weight Watchers, community support is positive and extremely motivating in the debt-free community.

 

FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS THIS MONTH:

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June 2018 Wrap-Up

NEEDLEWORK:

U.S. Sampler by Glory Bee — Finished and fully-finished.  I posted about it HERE.

 

After finishing the above project, I started Flag Maker by Notforgotten Farms, a freebie pattern I’d seen stitched by both Vonna Pfeiffer and Priscilla Blain.  I was stitching it on 28-ct. Irish Linen using 2 strands of the called-for DMC colors.  I loved the linen, but my eyesight struggled with the 28-ct. fabric. I worked on the piece for a couple weekends, but finally admitted defeat this past weekend and abandoned the project.

I’m not feeling the stitchy love at this particular moment, but that’s okay because I have other things on my plate right now that I’m enjoying. I do have a couple embroidery projects I’d like to stitch, as well as a couple cross-stitch projects that I just need to find a different fabric for (I’d planned to use the 28-ct. linen for them).

 

 

PURCHASES:

Punch Needle & Primitive Stitcher magazine — I opted for a digital subscription, which also provides access to the prior 4 issues. I’ve already put some of the patterns on my To-Stitch spreadsheet. (Although I don’t do punch needle, many of those patterns can function quite well as embroidery patterns, which is how I plan to use them!)

Screenshot_2018-06-25-13-50-55

 

Harvest Keeper by Plum Street Samplers — I love the colors and the design of this autumn-themed pattern. I purchased the pattern from Jen’s Stitching Niche; she was super speedy in getting the chart mailed.

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Antique Scissors & Spools by Theresa Venette — I purchased the PDF directly from Theresa’s website. There’s a lot of flexibility for fabric and floss colors for this one! I’m so glad Theresa’s working towards including more patterns in PDF format, as those work better for me when it comes to storage.

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BOOKS:  (These have been added to my “Books Read” page found HERE.)

The Bear and the Nightingale (Katherine Arden) — I think I would’ve preferred this in audio format. I liked it fine in print format, but it feels like a story that would be better if you could hear it being told.

The Sweet Life in Paris (David Lebovitz) — (non-fiction) Enjoyed this one.

Open Season by C.J. Box (Joe Pickett series) — This is the first novel in this series. I’m curious enough about the character to continue on with the series.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman — I loved this and it’ll definitely be one of my favorites for 2018. It’s the prequel to Practical Magic, which I’ve not yet read but I do have the book on hold and am looking forward to reading it. Now I’m delving into the author’s backlist.

l’appart: The Delights & Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz — (non-fiction) I liked reading this on the heels of The Sweet Life (mentioned above) and found it interesting and entertaining. I’ve always said I don’t ever want to do a renovation and, holy smoke, reading this reinforced my opinion!!

 

TV SERIES:

Poldark (S3) — I love me some Ross and Demelza!! Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are fantastic as their characters; actually, the whole cast is fantastic. (watching via PBS Masterpiece, by way of Amazon Prime)

Unforgotten (S1 & S2) — I enjoyed this U.K. detective series; each season focuses on a different cold case.  Nicola Walker is in the category of I’ll watch whatever she’s in; love her. (watching via PBS Masterpiece, by way of Amazon Prime)

The Coroner (S1) — Another U.K. crime series I’m enjoying. (watching via Britbox, by way of Amazon Prime)

 

MOVIES:

The Post — A phenomenal cast telling a compelling story which is, unfortunately, currently relevant in many ways.

Ocean’s 8 — I wanted to be sure and catch this before it left the theater. It was fun, I loved all the actresses chosen for the main 8 characters, as well as James Corden in the role he played, and there were some wonderful cameos of actresses who’ve been out of the movie/tv spotlight (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) for far too long. Five of the eight main cast members were recently on an episode of the Graham Norton Show and it was a rollicking good time.

 

FAVORITE SNAPSHOTS THIS MONTH:

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The produce below is from the Farmer’s Market, not our own garden (which, sadly, had an early demise this year). I was so excited to find fresh eggs! We used to have chickens ourselves and got very spoiled to fresh eggs; I hope the egg vendor is able to return to the market throughout the summer.

Watermelon; Cantaloupe; Peaches; Strawberry Jam; Pear Jam

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Zucchini; Summer Squash; Green Apples; Cucumber

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Fresh Eggs!

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FFO: “U.S. Sampler” by Glory Bee (6-25-2018)

The pattern is “U.S. Sampler” by Glory Bee, found in the August 2012 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine.

06-2018 US Sampler by Glory Bee 001

Fabric:  14-ct. Fiddler’s Aida in “Lite Oatmeal” by Charles Craft

Floss:  The called-for DMC colors (except B5200 instead of White), using 3 strands to get full coverage. Colors: B5200, 221, 310, 729, 898, 930, 932, 945, 3778

06-2018 US Sampler by Glory Bee 002

It needs to be blocked; you can see where the fabric got stretched out of shape below Sam’s shoes and above his hat; I stitched the whole thing in-hand and apparently had a death grip on the fabric in a couple places :P.   The wonky border bugs me a little, but not enough to delay fully-finishing the piece and displaying it =D.  The needlework is not permanently attached to the stickyboard; instead, it’s just lightly tacked down on the back with low-grip painter’s tape.  So if, at some point, I want to remove it and block it and/or finish it another way, it’ll be  easy to do so.  But we’re enjoying it as-is, displayed on the table under our tv!!  The fabric panel has magnets glued to the back (a la Priscilla Blain), so that I can easily remove this project from the tray and swap in another project.  (I picked up the tray for $2.99 at Hobby Lobby.)

So, the Aida . . . it was quite stiff, which made for some tough stitching in-hand, not helped by the fact that I didn’t cut off the excess fabric until after I’d finished stitching.  It got a bit unwieldy at times!  But I still preferred stitching in-hand as compared to using a hoop or q-snap.  I have no interest in going back to a hoop or q-snap for cross-stitch.  (I don’t anticipate stitching a piece so large that I would need a scroll frame. Been there, done that, not interested in doing it again!)

For the border (including the stars) and Sam, I used the sewing method, which I felt went okay until I needed to stitch the white stripes in the pants and the flag; some of the white stitches in those stripes are not pretty.  For comparison, I stab-stitched all of the letters and words, and I think the white stitches in “1776” look much better.

The purpose of stitching this piece (besides ending up with a finished project) was to experiment with stitching in-hand using the sewing method, and I did figure out some things I liked and didn’t like about it.  It’s definitely faster than stab-stitching, and I loved using it for stitching the brown “x”s in the border — having a space between each “x” allowed for quick stitching.  (I can see how using the sewing method while stitching 1-over-1 would go very fast.)  I used 3 strands on this piece, which was a lot of bulk in filled-in spaces, and I seemed to have less twisting and smooshing-up of floss when I stab-stitched.  (I’m currently stitching 2-over-2 on 28-ct. linen and am doing a hybrid of the sewing method and stab-stitching.)

All in all, this was a fun project! I’m enjoying stitching things for me to keep, as I’m more comfortable experimenting while stitching than I would be if I were making these things as gifts. Fully-finishing is not my favorite thing if I can’t pop something in a hoop 😛  but, again, these are good opportunities for me to try new things and practice finishing methods that don’t come as easy to me as popping something in a hoop =D.