Heritage Crafts USA Cross Stitch Map.

Here’s a project I just started before Christmas and I know it won’t be a quick one.  I love the cross stitch map kits which Susan Ryder of Heritage Crafts designs and have stitched several of them over the past twenty five years.  Starting with a map of the traditional West Riding of Yorkshire where my grandparents were both brought up.  This was a gift for them which I stitched while I was at uni in the early 1990s between assignments.  The map took pride of place on my grandparent’s sitting room wall of their holiday flat in Scarborough and eventually was joined by a North Riding map and another one of Kent where they lived.  The map stitching became a bit addictive. I had to stitch one for myself. Now in my own sitting room at home I have a Yorkshire map for where I live and Nottinghamshire for where I grew up. For Mr SmartCookieSam we have a map of Australia, Cardiganshire (Ceredigion) and Norfolk.

Now you may wonder why I am stitching a map of the USA.  I have never lived there but have visited twice, once to Boston and another time to New York.  It’s just that when you see a beautiful kit with so much fabulous detail, you just get itchy fingers and you have to stitch it. Also these maps to me are educational.  You learn about the Geography of a country and where all the places are as you stitch them as well as stitching landmarks and rivers and state borders.  It also gives me an incentive to get on a USA road trip in the future.

I’ll post pics of my progress and I’m aiming to have the picture stitched by the end of 2017.  Being a primary school teacher I have the summer holidays and often take my cross stitch away on holiday with me. Here’s what I have achieved so far:

December 2016:

Starting in the middle of the map.  Don’t look too close at the name places. My reading glasses broke and stitching the names over one strand of even weave is really tricky when you can’t see a blessed thing!

January 2017.

Getting some State borders added.  Can you see one of the Great Lakes appearing?
We have some of the border with Canada and the East Coast is beginning to take shape, as with a bit more of The Great Lakes.

February 2017

As I type it’s the last week in February and I’ve not stitched any more on the map. I’ve been knitting this month.  All will be revealed later.  Hope to get some more done soon! I’ll keep you updated.

Love Sam  xx

Cross Stitcher Magazine’s 2017 Stitchalong. 

January 2017

Now as you all know, my SmartCookieSam blog is meant to be about my love of baking and cooking.  But baking up until last summer wasn’t doing my health any good. I’m too busy in my day job to make a living from baking (though I would love to do this in an ideal world) but when I did bake I’d find I’d be the champion quality controller! Cue a two stone weight gain!

Cross stitch is also a great passion of mine.  I started cross stitching when I was in sixth form to help relax me when I wasn’t revising for exams.  I’d been lucky that my Nana Margaret (my Dad’s mum) was a keen stitcher and she had showed me how to cross stitch when I was about 8. I never forget the wonderful parcel of red Binca she sent me with lots of beautiful cottons.  She taught me a skill for life and has been so therapeutic for me. Definitely mindfulness at its best. Cross stitch helped me relax when my kids were babies and toddlers once they had gone to bed.  An hour to concentrate on something which I had an end result to was a joy to me.  All at a time when I had given up work to look after my children and my confidence had taken a nose dive. Cross stitch, although wasn’t bringing in the pennies was something I could take a pride in.

Fast forward to January of this year and I saw a fantastic project I wanted to do.  It’s in Cross Stitcher Magazine and is their 2017 StitchAlong.  I’ve never done a StitchAlong before and the idea of stitching a small part every month really appealed to me.  The magazine release a small part of the chart every month so by the end of the year you have a complete project.  You don’t know what the finished project looks like, either! This StitchAlong is going to be a months of the year wall hanging and the design has been created by Susan Penny. In the January 2017 issue of Cross Stitcher Magazine we were given the January chart and a list of the threads and the fabric needed.  The fabric suggested was a pale, delicate dove grey even weave. This looked absolutely gorgeous but I already had some cream even weave in my stash. So rather than forking out for more fabric I stuck with what I already had.  The same went for the threads. I used a close match of DMC threads.

January 2017- making a start on the Stitchalong. Forgive the messy stitches. My reading glasses had broken and I was stitching in poor light.
It took me about three evenings to stitch the January part of the StitchAlong.
In early January the February 2017 issue came out with the new part of the chart.  Love the reds and pinks we get to stitch to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

February 2017.

I had a great idea about stitching the next part in time for 1st February and saving it as a cover picture on my Facebook profile.  Didn’t quite happen that way.  I can’t remember what I was doing but it didn’t get finished until the weekend after.  Must have been a very busy work week I think. The colours aren’t an exact match to the chart ones as I wanted to use up what I had got in my stash.  I think it’s a good likeness though.  The February one took about three nights to do which I was happy with.

Part two of the StitchAlong is this gorgeous Valentine’s Day tree complete with hearts and bird.
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It’s always a treat to get the next issue of CrossStitcher magazine! Here is March 2017 bought in early February with the next instalment.  Hope this isn’t a premonition of the weather we are going to have in this March!

Keep following my progress as I stitch my wall hanging.  At the time of typing I’m about to start stitching March’s picture.  I’ll add the photos as soon as it’s done.

Love Sam xx

Christmas Cross Stitch Project 2016- “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

My special Christmas project for 2016, a sampler designed by Nia Cross Stitch,
My special Christmas project for 2016, a sampler designed by Nia Cross Stitch.

Along with baking and cooking, cross stitch is another great hobby.  I love to sit down on an evening and stitch, especially on a cold winter’s evening with the fire on and something decent to watch on the TV. I can’t just sit down with empty hands, I have to be busy doing something.  Cross stitch helped me relax in my down time doing exams,  during school holidays as a teacher and also throughout my two pregnancies.

Christmas is always a special time for showing off your cross stitch projects and over the years I’ve made a few decorations.  Each year I try to do something new but as work gets busier it ends up that the project doesn’t get finished til after Christmas. Last year I stitched a nativity scene which was so detailed it took me til well into January.  I still haven’t stitched the gold star sequins on it either.  This year was no exception, except I managed to finish my Christmas project on New Years’ Day! Well at least I’m organised for this Christmas!

Back in November I was looking on Amazon and came across a gorgeous wall hanging kit.  It was from a range by Nia Cross Stitch, a Welsh designer who produces beautiful, high quality kits in both Welsh and English.  I have stitched a few of Nia’s designs before: two wedding samplers, a Pearl anniversary sampler, an 18th birthday sampler and finally a teacher themed one last summer.  I love Nia’s quirky lettering, the vibrant colours she uses in her thread palette and also the cheerful motifs on her samplers.  This “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” sampler was no exception and I just had to order it.  Though it took me a couple of weeks to get round to starting it as I was in the middle of another project at the time.

Fast forward to 8th December and I finally got to start on the project.

Starting at the centre  with the “s” and “t” of  Christmas and one of the two candy canes in the design.

Not much stitching gor done in the next few days.

It’s Christmas Day and it’s nowhere near ready! At least I have time to finish it over the Christmas holidays.
My sister in law’s gorgeous dog wanted me to stop stitching and play ball with him!
Slowly but surely the design begins to appear on the canvas.  I’m really enjoying the various threads apart from the standard DMC stranded cotton.  I get to use gold Marlitt and a bluey white Light effect thread to stitch the snowflakes and the outline around the snowman, Santa’s hat and around the icing on the Christmas pudding!

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fullsizerender-2Finally after lots of time spent glued to the sofa over the Christmas holidays I finally got my sampler finished on New Year’s Day in the afternoon.  The air was blue trying to thread my beading needle to add the red and white seed beads to the sampler. I just couldn’t thread it so I gave up and did very messy French knots instead.  Now a couple of days later as I type I’m thinking of what I could do with the sampler. I think I’ll make it into a wall hanging once I find the perfect backing fabric.

Happy Stitching.

Love Sam xx