Black and white and color challenge

Linda, author of “Everyone Else Has the Best Titles,” has decided to change up the Black and White photo challenge by also showing the color version of photos. This photo is from my trip to The Netherlands and here we have a canal in Amsterdam.


Unforeseen three-day weekend!

On Friday my only class for that day was canceled so I got a surprise three-day weekend. I turned it into a cross stitching marathon.

First, I got all my DMC and Anchor floss wound up on bobbins. It’s so much better now to have it all wound up and ready for use. I sure have bought a lot of threads in the past few months!

When I got my thread organized I started getting some new projects set up. I collected all my colors I needed for yet another Joan Elliott design, which is called “Dragon of the Mountain.” It is one of three Chinese dragons in her book Magical Cross Stitch. The other two, which I plan on making in the future, are “Dragon of the Sea” and “Dragon of the Clouds.” I am especially excited to start this one soon, – although I still haven’t actually begun stitching – because it calls for Kreinik metallic threads. When I want to get going on it, though, it’ll be all prepped to just take it out of its tote bag and start making little X’s on the fabric I cut for it.

I also got stitching on my “Autumn Biscornu” and I am having so much fun with it I can’t stop working on it. Here’s my progress so far:

Photo Nov 26, 18 47 58

It doesn’t look like much right now because the backstitching is what makes this design truly special and makes the leaves look like leaves. Also, I love using multi-colored thread. It makes the project so much easier to stitch up.

And so it’s back to work on Monday!

First biscornu for FO Friday

I finished my first biscornu! This one is going to be a gift. I really like this design.


It’s so much fun to make a biscornu that I didn’t even notice that I was sewing by hand. Weird, right? Well, biscornu is French for awkward, so, there’s that. Now I hate sewing by hand, unless it’s a biscornu!

In case you want to make this, the pattern is free, offered by the Cross Stitch Guild. I did not follow the directions for sewing because I didn’t like how the seams looked in the photographs on that web site. Instead, I backstitched a square and sewed into the backstitches. This tutorial shows you how to do that.

The other side of my biscornu has different colored beads and a different color for the backstitching. I also changed the cross stitch border. I got this idea from the photos where the pattern is featured. These little details make it more interesting to look at.


I think it would also be easy to change the colors of the pinwheels.

In the future I’m going to make more biscornus following this pattern. I know lots of crafty people who would appreciate getting one of these.

The story of the nonexistent floss

As I mentioned last week, I am a new biscornu fiend. I even bought a pattern, Barbara Ana’s “Autumn Biscornu”. When I read it, I discovered that I didn’t have any of the embroidery floss colors it calls for. I also noticed something I had never seen before: it requires DMC and Anchor floss. The Anchor colors are actually variegated. Another biscornu pattern I have also calls for some DMC multi-colors.

Last Friday I went to the city center in search of my thread. I couldn’t go to my usual shop because they only have DMC and I needed Anchor. So, I just went to the next best store. The shop assistant searched for the Anchor thread and she didn’t have the numbers. She didn’t have the DMC multis I needed, either. No problem. I tried another shop.

And this is where the story gets really ugly. The shopkeeper, a very rude woman, told me, “These Anchor colors don’t exist. You copied the numbers wrong.” So, I got out my cell phone and searched for them on the Internet. I showed her the pictures of the colors I wanted. She insanely raised her voice and said, “That’s just things on the internet. It isn’t real.” I asked her if she thought I was an idiot and left the shop in a huff. I won’t ever go in that store again.

At home, I did some research. Luckily, there is a person who runs an Etsy shop`out of California and who also blogs. I found her article comparing the Anchor and DMC multi-colored threads. Using photos, she demonstrates that they are mostly very different from each other, although there are some possibilities for substitution. This is why Barbara Ana mixed DMCs with Anchors! Also, I was very pleased to see that the floss I needed actually exists! My local retailers don’t happen to carry the colors in question because they are less commonly used and are newer.

So, as usual, jolly old England came to my rescue. I found a specialized shop and ordered my colors. They arrived today! And no, I’m not imagining things. These colors really exist! I’m no idiot, either, and I can copy numbers from a pattern onto a piece of paper quite well, thank you very much.


Of course, I ordered a spare skein of three of them, just in case!

I’ve felt tempted to bring these to the nasty shop lady to show her that these colors exist, but I don’t think she’s worth it.

So, if anyone wants to take up cross stitching, be aware that local shops sometimes don’t carry everything you might need. Also, Anchor and DMC multis aren’t usually similar enough to substitute.

Ready for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Mostly, it’s because I love a nice, big turkey dinner. I do reflect on what I’m grateful for on that day, but I also know that it’s an invented holiday that was used to promote American nationalism and unity. Did you know that Thanksgiving began as a harvest celebration? It was celebrated on any old day of the year, sometimes more than once a year! Anyway, fabricated or not, it’s my favorite day and I never miss making a Thanksgiving dinner, even if I have to do it on the weekend after the holiday. I live in Spain, so Thanksgiving is just another day to go to work around here.

I sewed up my turkey and cornucopia this morning. Mr. Turkey says “Happy Thanksgiving” to you and the Horn of Plenty reminds you that it’s not all about the yummy food. You’re supposed to give thanks.

And, just in case anyone is curious, I’ll summarize the technical details. I cross stitched these on 18-count white Aida cloth. The charts come from 2001 Cross Stitch Designs, which is an encyclopedia of charts published by Better Homes and Gardens. I did not follow directions precisely with the messages, which are included on the chart. Instead of backstitching with one strand of floss I used two strands so it was more visible. Also, I decided to use a dark brown floss for the backstitching details on the cornucopia rather than the recommended charcoal color. For the sewing, I sewed the bottom and sides with right sides facing each other to some canvas for a nice sturdy backing. Then, I turned them right-side-out, ironed them, and folded the tops closed and sewed the top, leaving enough space to thread some yarn through with a crochet hook. I tied the yarn in a knot and hid the knot inside the top seam. I think it’s pretty cool I didn’t need a dowel, because I did not feel like looking for a few at the Chinese bazaar.

My English learners are going to be surprised to see these, I think. Some of them don’t know what Thanksgiving is and have no clue about American traditions. They may have seen people pigging out on Thanksgiving in a film but the symbolism is not in their “vocabulary,” so to speak. I want them to ask me questions, mostly because they need to practice asking questions, which is not an easy thing to do, believe it or not! I always try to do or have things around to inspire them to ask me questions. If they don’t, I just say, “I would like you to ask me questions.” Alternatively, we play a game that forces them to ask questions. Anyway, asking questions is an intermediate level ability, but if you don’t ask questions frequently you can get rusty at it, no matter what level you are. Good language teachers constantly find ways for students to ask questions in class.

And now… I’m holidayed out. I’m sure I’ll get in the mood for making more holiday-themed stuff in the future, but for now I just want to work on any old thing I feel like doing!

Wearing sweaters 2

Still no FO! I’ll probably finish my Thanksgiving decorations tonight or tomorrow morning. So, I’ll talk about the sweater of the week, which is my “Unisex Zip.” Try not to notice that I need a haircut and a shave, OK?


This pattern comes from the digital edition of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters” and is used as an example to show you how to design your own knitwear using the numbers from the “blank” pattern for a basic modified drop shoulder sweater. You can find information about it here.

I love wearing this sweater for many reasons.

First of all, it’s a wardrobe basic. There are no cables, no fancy color designs. The pattern calls for a multi-colored yarn, which means it goes well with lots of other clothes. The stitch pattern breaks up the stripes of color very nicely so you don’t get big, dominant pools of color. If you wear a long-sleeved tee under it, as photographed here, and put on a pair of jeans, it acquires a casual look. However, you can also wear a button-down shirt with a collar and some khakis to look more dressed up.

Another benefit is the stitch pattern. It’s a ribbing, but with slipped stitches. I don’t know if anyone reading this has actually tried to wear a truly ribbed sweater. I find them uncomfortable because they cling so much. This ribbing clings, but not to the point of strangulation, which makes it very comfortable. The modified drop shape adds enough contour to the chest without outlining it too much.

Also, this is a light wool sweater. The yarn weight is sport, so it’s warm, but not too warm for Fall weather. The pattern calls for a camouflage color way from Briar Rose. Unfortunately, this yarn is now discontinued, so I had to look for a substitute.

Which brings me to the last reason why this is a favorite: THE YARN. Briar Rose discontinued their sport weight line, so I needed a different merino wool. I got really lucky here. I live on continental Europe, where merino wool is just everywhere. As a matter of fact, if I travel 15 minutes outside the city I can easily find a flock of merino sheep roaming about in a field. I bought my spun-and-dyed-in-Spain merino wool from Tejo lo que Hilo. The name of the company translates to English as “I knit what I spin.” They have beautiful hand-dyed wool, which you can see knit up in the photo. This little company also sells equipment for spinning along with yarn you can dye at home. The quality of this merino wool far outdoes that of a more “trendy” and pricey brand, such as Madelintosh, which will pill even before the knitting is completed. I finished knitting this sweater in May 2016 and it still hasn’t produced any annoying fuzzies. Last year I wore the living heck out of it and this year I plan to do the same. So yes, good-quality, reasonably priced merino is sometimes better than the big name brands that cost more money. Sturdy merino wool exists, and some of it is grown, spun, and dyed right here in Spain. This sweater, for me, is a wardrobe staple and a special souvenir from my favorite country to live in, representing a way of life and a language I love.

Wearing a hand-knit sweater, when it’s properly made to fit well, is such a luxury, especially when it’s made of soft merino wool. It’s also cool to know that my hours of knitting won’t turn into a sweater with ugly balls of fuzz sticking out any time soon. It will eventually happen, but the material I chose has slowed down the process very nicely.

WIP times three on Thursday

Yet again the stars did not align between work schedule and hobby schedule to allow me to post on Wednesday about my works in progress. So, just before Spanish lunch time, I can report on my progress.

I really want to get my Thanksgiving decorations done soon. I thought I would tire of my cornucopia in favor of the biscornu, but this has not been the case. They have each received equal time.

To the left we can see my cornucopia and to the right my pinwheel biscornu. The biscornu would be more done than it is if I hadn’t messed up and had to restitch the blue pinwheel.

My “Widsith” sock now has a complete heel and the beginnings of a foot.


And that’s all for today!