Puzzles – a way to relax

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Back in 2015 I was given a not so great health news. Part of the cause could be from extra stress. With my health problems, and those of my parents it’s been a rough couple of years.

I decided that I needed to expand my puzzle collection from 1 to a few more. I reached out to the good people of Freecycle and got a couple of responses. Two women had some puzzles they wanted to get off their hands. After collecting these I realized I needed to get a bit more organized. We happened to have 2 bookshelves that weren’t really getting used, so I re-purposed them for games and puzzles.

I have completed a few of the puzzles so far, which is why I have a the before/after style photo above. I have even added a few. My brother’s kids were over in summer 2016 and while looking for games found my puzzles and had their parents get me a couple more for my birthday. I have also picked up a couple at the store. Of course being a glass half empty person I feel like I’m almost out and keep contemplating if asking on Freecycle again is a good idea.

After I did some of the puzzles on a card table in our new cat’s room. (Yes she has a room, the cats don’t like each other, so Pumpkin has a safe place to go.) I decided to work on a really large puzzle that needed to be done on the kitchen table. After that it’s where I’ve been working on all my puzzles, and taking a photo of them upon completion. I use a super cheap clear table topper to keep everything protected when I’m not working on the puzzle, and since it’s clear I still see it and be reminded to work on it.

Here is my collection of completed puzzles that I have documented so far. Once I finish the puzzles are now going to my oldest niece who started college fall 2018.

She is hoping to become an RA, loves puzzles, and wants them for other students (and herself) to work on. I obtained another large donation from a young woman on Freecycle who was also an RA, although the puzzles she had were from her grandmother.

This post was originally published 2/19/17.

Scholarly Cat

When I asked my cousin what her sons like, I was told Larping. That is something I’m not sure has ever been captured in cross stitch form. I was also told they like cats (although one is allergic) and reading. Luckily these are things much more readily available in the cross stitching world.

all laid out

I found a pattern on dailycrossstitch.com with a cat sitting on a pile of books. This was the perfect fit! Logan is also off at college so the extra large books are also quite fitting for this stage in his life.

Yet again I found myself lost as to how I was going to assemble this card. The ideas aren’t coming like they were before. I’m in a Cross Stitch Club on Facebook and the day I finished this card she answered how she was able to cut around her patterns for cards and not have fraying.

Interfacing fabric. Who knew that you can make your own iron ons?! Luckily for me JoAnn’s was having a sale the weekend I learned of its existence, so I purchased a yard of the stuff to try for myself. Cost under a dollar with tax! Great price for trying out something new.

side view

You can see a little bit of separation of the interfacing fabric and the Aida cloth in the image above, but I don’t think it’s too bad for a first try. I was told it would be quite stiff, but it didn’t really do that to me. I think it was the kind of fabric I was sold, it was called “Lite” and I was told there were thicker ones, but the salesperson felt it probably wasn’t what I wanted. This seems to work ok, it holds well and give more “stiffness” to the piece than just tacking it on would.

from the side

The background is from my massive wallpaper collection. I thought the pattern fit a kind of Larping theme. It makes me think Medieval, something from a family crest maybe.

It was fun trying out a whole new way to mount a cross stitch to a card. Now I have square with frayed edges, mounted in a “frame”, and this, cut out no fray.

Stitching

Started: February 28th
Finished: March 10th

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full front of card

Rocky Mountain High

It’s my sister’s birthday today. While really looking at the walls at my parent’s house I have noticed just how many cross stitches there are adorning the walls. Some of them my sister made. I know one for sure was for me.

Now it’s my turn many years later to make one for her. Mine is by far simpler as it is only one color and only a few inches high and wide, but it’s the thought that counts right?

the beginning

My sister loves the mountains. For a time she was going to move to Colorado however that hasn’t happened. She’s in Texas now, which is a bit different climate and view wise. I thought this simple image of mountains would be nice for her. She also did oil painting for a few years and many of those were of mountains. Again mine is not really comparable with its simplicity.

I finished the stitching in just a few days and started on the next one. It was coming up with how to mount this to a card that stumped me for the longest time. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to create a frame or put the raw fabric on black paper, maybe grey.

side view

The first step to deciding was to browse my wallpaper collection. I wanted something with texture which just doesn’t happen with standard cardstock. Even wallpaper can be disappointing at times, there were some marble looking patterns that were on the smoothest paper you can find.

The paper I finally settled on was the first one I pulled out. It reminds me of rock and looks like a close up of a real mountain (at least to me). I think it really helps the stitching to stand out, yet adds another level of texture to the card overall.

front view

I used my handy Cricut to cut out the wallpaper frame. Amazingly I measured correctly and didn’t cut off any stitching. Once I had it cut I was so glad I had enough cloth left at the top to run the bottom row of stitching along the bottom border of the frame.

This card is simple yet stands out to me. It’s quite striking now that it’s complete.

Stitching

Started: February 25th
Finished: February 28th

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close up front

Cells are Blue

I’ll spoil it for you, this stitching was finished in 1 afternoon/evening! So below is not a typo. While the card was not created on the same day (finished stitching pretty late), the stitching was.

getting started

The card was a whole other story. I wasn’t sure what to do for it. The cell was something I created for a MadLibs type letter for my cousin while he was finishing up his doctorate in chemical engineering. I was taking an advanced Illustrator class at the time and thought it would be fun to create my own graphics for the letters. Below is the cards original inspiration.

blue "cell"

Coming up with his card cross stitch was the easy part. Now it was the hard part of assembly. Since this is a cell I wanted to put it in a circle (Petri dish) that’s about as far as the planning went.

I spent a couple of days after the stitching was done thinking over how to tackle the next part. I decided to start with the paper, what color I wanted to use. I found a blue that looked kind of watery I guess, it felt like it could work.

 

 

Next I went to my embossing folders to see what would work for this project. I was originally going to do dots, then found overlapping circles and felt that worked better.

 

top side view of card

Once I had the paper out I got out my handy Cricut for cutting the circle. My husband found a compass for me to try and get the size correct. The last circle I did was way too small. I had the opposite problem with this one and cut two frames with the second being slightly smaller. After the one I was going to use was cut out I ran it through the embossing machine.

As another inside joke of sorts I turned the scrap pieces including the inner circle that was cut out (twice) into confetti. I have a round punch thing that makes sort of big circles, so it’s not annoying confetti, but still something in the card. This is something my cousins’ now wife loved to do to him while dating. I even heard she sent an envelope with just glitter or confetti. I also included a little print out of the original cell as an additional keepsake.

Stitching

Started: February 21st
Finished: February 21st

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the full card

THE Cowboy

This one was another stitching down to the wire. This card is also the largest card I’ve made with a cross stitch. I stitched out this pattern on 22 count off white Aida cloth using DMC 3371. I know this color quite well because I had to buy more of it to finish at the very end.

 

the supplies

The amount of thread I had in this picture was what was left in my mom’s collection. Then I moved onto a (presumably) full skein from my cousin’s collection. Then had to finish with some from a brand new skein.

 

side and back view of card

For being a non-contact-non-sport I hurt a lot after finishing this one. Hours and hours of hunching over to see the little holes has taken it’s toll. I also hand-held the thing which isn’t recommended. This pattern is over 90 stitches wide and 115 high.

close up of corner

To create this card I wanted to make it look “rustic”. That’s the word that comes to mind with ripped edges and a messy edge around the stitching. Assembly was pretty straight forward and old school. I got out my box cutter and ruler to cut out the paper for the card and inside piece.

inside of card

After cutting the paper to the correct sizes I tore the paper. The inside piece took me a bit to figure out that if I ripped it one way the white from the back showed, however if I tried ripping “backwards” it looked so much better! Being a lefty is hard sometimes. I’m not one to rip paper so this was a new experience for me.

close up of card standing

I’m glad this card came together quickly to be sent out. I’m not sure if this will make it to Texas by today for my uncle’s birthday, but it is on its way!

 

Stitching

Started: February 4th
Finished: February 18th

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full card, cropped

Stormtrooper Line Up

My nephew Ben is going to start amassing quite the collection of Star Wars cards from me. I made one for his birthday last year and another for May 4th. Now he will have a more intricate card with Stormtroopers cross stitched on it.

This card is part of my 2019 project to finish one cross stitch card for every member of my mom’s side of the family who is over the age of 5 (had to draw the line somewhere). I am now in February and getting them done about a week before they need to arrive.

the pieces

This pattern came from an official Star Wars cross stitch book. While it is available in Whole Foods, I went with Amazon (same difference right?) since it was slightly cheaper. I recreated the pattern in WinStitch so I could mark the stitches off as I went. The book doesn’t stay open the best either, so this was the easiest way to work.

It took a few days to complete the whole thing. Dark fabric 18 count is hard to work on! You need so much light to really see what the heck you’re doing. The black was even harder to see. Luckily a few days before I started my husband needed extra light and borrowed my knock-off ice light. After much frustration I remembered the light was in the next room and grabbed it for my purposes. Boy did it make a difference!

the 'troopers

I was able to see what I was doing and finish stitching with much more ease. After I finished that part I pulled out the handy Cricut to cut my frame and text.

For the frame I wanted to have the cutout closer to the top of the card and give a little breathing room around the heads.

The text I did in Star Jedi font (pretty sure it’s on dafont.com) and added the lines at the top and bottom. I decided to do one long line of text and probably should have split it up. I think it still looks ok the way it is. Not sure that I got it straight though, I tried a few times laying it down before going with it.

inside

On the inside of the card I used a couple of pages from an old daily calendar. I’ve been using these for my Star Wars cards and felt it was another good use of them just to add some color to the inside.

Stitching

Started: January 30th
Finished: February 3rd

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front of card

Yellow Bird

This little bird is tiny and somehow there are 13 different colors! I couldn’t believe it as I was collecting the thread/floss for this project. I must admit it looks pretty lifelike now that it’s done, so all those color changes were worth it.

the beginning

This card is for my aunt whose birthday is today. I’m not sure on her age and feel it’s not appropriate to share anyway. She loves to photograph the birds that come to her backyard to eat and if they found a home in a birdhouse, sleep over. I am pretty sure I have seen some sort of black and yellow bird in her photos and this one made me think of her.

As you can see below this pattern came together extremely quickly, which is good because I was very much behind (and still am) on getting these done in a timely manner.

Because of the size I decided before I began this one would not be “framed” as I have done to many of the other patterns. I wanted to use my embossing machine again. I have a folder (I think that’s what those are called) with happy birthday all over it that I wanted to use. It’s similar to the Purple Morpho from last year.

 

Instead of using scrapbook paper I went with wallpaper. I did two colors and discovered that the softer less “papery” wallpaper does not emboss. I wasn’t sure how it would go and I was happy with either as the background, the silver won.

For mounting I used a small piece of grey paper foam tape mounted to the card then used some double sided tape and E-6000 for attaching the fabric to the paper.

Something I learned while studying for my CPP exam was that if you want to show texture, light from the side. So this go-round of highlighting the embossing on a card I was able to show better what it looks like.

the embossing

Stitching

Started: January 28th
Finished: January 29th

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cropped in full card view

Color the Rainbow

I may have gotten a little over confident on this one. I thought it would be extremely simple to finish in just a couple of days. Instead it took me around 2 weeks.

Most of the delay was my fault. I was studying for an exam and had to put cross stitching to the side for a couple weeks. The exam was out of town so while I was away I also wasn’t working on this.

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Once I got back I realized just how close to deadline I was. I’ve been working frantically through my last weekend before it needed to be sent trying to finish. I even worked on it while walking on the treadmill (didn’t go the greatest, but got me just a little closer).

I did finish late Sunday night getting everything assembled, photographed, and in the mail. This card is staying in town and actually not going all that far. I’m sure it will have a journey around town to get to its final destination though.

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This card is for a cousin of mine. When I saw this pattern it made me think of her. She is a teacher, but I think it was more the bright colors that drew me in.

I wanted those colors to really stand out so I chose a grey paper as my frame. I’m still not great at getting the work stretched correctly while mounting (you’ll notice it looks a little bubbled) though I did make many more attempts with this one.

I used my Cricut to cut the frame and write Happy Birthday! along the bottom. Overall I think this card turned out quite nice.

Pattern from dailycrossstitch.com.

Stitching

Started: January 13th
Finished: January 27th

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