Christmastime

It’s almost Christmas. Where did the time go? And isn’t it always so swift?

There’s been so much going on here, and yet, we’ve managed to carve out moments of peace and relaxation. It’s a nice thing to deliberately slow down. And why not during the holidays, when everything begs to be admired and enjoyed? Lately, I’ve been curling up on the floor in front of our little Christmas tree. Turns out, looking up into a twinkly tree, with sparkling ornaments, is every bit as magical when you’re an adult as when you were a child. If you have a chance, do give it a try. (Maybe with a cup of hot cocoa in hand? Or a soft kitty to hold in your lap. But not both.)


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So this has been happening. Wintry, stitchy magic. I love the gently unfolding story of cross stitch samplers. The trotting palomino is my absolute favorite. These days I stitch with the sun in my eyes. It comes through the dining room window at a sharp angle, over the neighbor’s rooftop and across the garden wall, as it always does this time of year.

Winter arrived rather suddenly on Wednesday afternoon. The sky darkened – something it hadn’t done in ages – and burst open in a torrent of wind and rain. Bright orange and yellow leaves blew across the road, trees bent forward, rain lashed against the windows. It was brilliant. Normally our first storm arrives around October 31st. For a while there we felt we’d lost winter: The sun shone perennially, the weather was fair, flowers were blooming, and everything was decidedly springish. Now that the cold has truly arrived, there’s a bit of hope for a good solid winter – the kind that keeps us bundled up in soft throws and hand-knit mufflers. (And the kind that has me dreaming of cozy sleigh-rides through frosted woodland…)


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I’ve got my 2018 reading list off to a happy start. Happy is the operative word here. I want sweet and thoughtful stories, with perhaps touches of melancholy, and overall life-affirming. Goodness knows I get enough local, national, and international news, painting an all-too vivid image of what’s wrong with our world. But what’s right with the world is every bit as valid and important, and it’s good to focus on that. It’s also good to remember that all the small, kind, joyful, thoughtful, pretty, everyday things we do and create – they add up. Like a field of flowers. Or stars in a dark sky.

I discovered Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery series quite by accident. And thank goodness for that, because they look absolutely delightful, and I can’t wait to jump right in come January. (Throughout December I’m reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles, and re-reading my all-time favorite, Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.)


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The zinnias we sowed last spring are still blooming. They’re growing quite wild, actually. (The cold hasn’t frightened them much, but once the frost arrives…) I stopped tending to them months ago, as life and work got rather busy. I’m not making excuses though, as I love a wild-looking garden. Ages ago, when I first started gardening, I made sure to pinch, pluck, trim, and prune. And everything was neat and pretty. Then I discovered the ruffled, tousled look of the cottage garden, fell madly in love, and decided to be more hands-off. Aside from occasional pruning and deadheading, we just sort of let things be, and enjoy the unfolding story of plants doing what plants do.

It’s a wee bit early, but I’m already planning our spring garden. It’s hard not to think about it, actually. We’ve decided to return to our well-loved container garden. We’ve grown so many wonderful things in containers, and it’s always been the most efficient form of gardening for our environment. Much more on all of that later.




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Does anyone else look forward to seasonal Dum Dum flavors? Apple Cider is a winner. Also, I’m pretty sure Sugar Cookie is actually Butterscotch. That’s too bad, because a sweet vanilla flavor would’ve been nice.

I’ve bought a lovely new planner by Katie Daisy. It’s filled with her colorful artwork, inspirational quotes, and plenty of space to write daily notes, lists, plans, whatever. I make sure to take some notes each day: what I’ve done, what I have to do, etc. I have a tendency to want to do all the things. A planner reigns that in a bit. It’s good for me.



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Then there’s Fluffo. She’s a bit bossy, but terribly cute. And I love how she sits like a furry tank.

And my favorite Christmas book from when I was a child – The Care Bear Cousins and the Snowy Christmas. The pages are yellowed, but still colorful and full of magic. (It’s been hanging around my bookshelf for over 30 years. Goodness.)





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I’m still working on my Rock Candy muffler. (Isn’t “muffler” so much cozier than “scarf”? I love it.) I’ll share more of that in the next post. In the meantime, I bumped into an issue of Mollie Makes which featured this beautiful Folk Circle Pot Holder by Emma Lamb. So I worked it up in two evenings. The colors were inspired by the cheerful jar of candy canes – Christmassy, but also perfect for next summer, (though I imagine I’ll have made about twenty of these by then.) Oh, and I should note that I skipped the whole ‘pot holder’ part of things, as I was mainly looking for a pretty granny circle doily for around the house. It worked out splendidly.




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There’s a lot more going on, but I think I’ll pause for now and wish you a very Merry Christmas. We hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you’re well and happy. Remember to take good care of yourself, every bit as much as you care for others. (I know that sounds a bit backward for this time of year, but I find that if we are kind and loving with ourselves, we have so much more love and kindness to give to others.)

For me, this Christmas is about reflecting on all the wonderful gifts we already have. Like my darling 13 year-old niece reminded me, sometimes when we see something too often, we don’t notice it anymore. I’m all for changing that. Let’s count the blessings, one by one.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

xoxo
Sosae (& Dennis)



Yarn in Autumn

November is a beautiful month in Southern California. The days are warm, crisp, and blue, with the occasional passing cloud. Leaves are turning all sorts of wild colors, falling wistfully to the ground. By Thanksgiving, the skies will sometimes turn gray and dark, and the nights grow cold. Winter peeks in over the garden wall, promising frost and a peaceful slumber to all the green things. Sometimes I wish I could hibernate in the winter, too. After a long and busy year, the shortened days are a reminder to turn inwards awhile, and tend to the spirit landscape. I try not to fight my body’s natural tendency towards slowing down, resting more, and being still.

In other news…I had to share with you this utterly magical thing that happened: we’re in Mollie Makes! (See the kawaii cuties poking out from the corner of the cover???) This was such a delightful project to work on, and it’s amazing to see our darlings in the pages of one of our most favorite magazines.




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This is the time of year my thoughts turn to yarn. Needlework is my forever love, but on the first frosty wind comes a yarnie passion I can’t resist. My mind races and tries to sort through all the possibilities: stripey knit fingerless gloves, crochet mittens, knit hats, colorblock crochet scarves, shawls, tree skirts, table runners, coasters… In other words, all the beautiful things. I couldn’t decide on my knitting needles or crochet hook, wool, cotton, or acrylic, something for the house or something to wear… So I played with yarn for a bit to see if any colors spoke to me. Then I started a crochet linen stitch square for a possible scarf project. Nothing was clicking.




One day, quite by accident, I discovered this beautiful blog. I think I heard bells then, or birdsong – it was lovely. So I chose a few of my favorite Christmassy colors and got started on the ‘Granny Square Table Runner.’ I’m hoping to get this lovely project done in the next week. (And I foresee one of these for every holiday!)



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November is like a second spring in the garden. All the plants that withered in the scorching summer sun have been revived. The tomato vines are flowering, nasturtiums are popping up everywhere, and the rosemary is covered in purple blooms. In a few short weeks the frost will come and put an end to the green things, but it’s lovely to see a green revival in the meantime.

Cuddles the Garden Cat has put on his winter coat – a perfectly poofy strawberry blond he is, sunning himself on the cinder block wall behind the flower bed.

And the zinnias. Love of my garden life. They’re still blooming away – the hot pinks and reds more ferocious than ever, the whites more stark, the yellows richer, and my heart fuller than ever.





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Ahh…needlework. Happy, soothing needlework. Without it, I would be one very grumpy frumpy girl. (Because why bother getting up in the morning?) I’m making progress on my ‘Jolly Reindeer’ cross stitch. He’s such a sweet thing, and I can’t wait to stitch up his eyes, mouth, and nose. I just need that jolly retro smile of his.



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We hope you’re enjoying these last few weeks of autumn, before winter sets in. If you’re in the States, we wish you a warm and happy Thanksgiving!

‘Till next time!

September

These are the last petaled jewels of summer. September’s soaring swiftly by, and soon we’ll arrive at the equinox and the true beginning of autumn. I’ve been designing, stitching, and sewing endlessly all summer long. Creating draws time out, doesn’t it? It stretches it like taffy. Sometimes I marvel at just how much we can do in one day, or one season. And while we worked so hard on so many projects, those seemingly endless stretch of summer days are still coming to an end. But I have an account of them – stitched and sewn and charted in countless things. That makes me so deeply happy.







Now I’m really rather tired. I want an autumn holiday. I want to sort through balls of yarn and crochet silly Halloween bunting. I want to cart out the painted pumpkins and the haunted village Dennis and I made last year, and decorate our home. I want to pour over cookbooks for new and favorite fall recipes. And I want to bake bread again. Mostly I’m dreaming of a slower pace, one to match the new season.

‘Till next time, wishing you the best of days.

Cats & Bags

While it’s still hot as blazes, summer is winding down. Autumn’s arrival is subtle: a few leaves dashing across the walk, a touch of chill in the evening air. As with any change of seasons, I’m excited and a little nervous. I think if you pay close attention to the seasons, you feel that bit of tension when things are on the verge of change. It’s a fidgety, not-quite-settled feeling. But it’s temporary and you settle in, and all becomes well.

Have you seen Cross Stitch Crazy magazine? It’s a positively gorgeous UK publication sold at Barnes & Noble and Joann here in the States. That’s Helz Cuppleditch’s work on the September cover, (issue 232.) I have a crush on all her designs. And there’s a bit of a Trellis & Thyme surprise in this issue, too:




Cat’s out. We’ve been having a wonderful time working with Crazy! There’s a lot of fun stuff in store for both our cross stitch and softie fans. Stay tuned.


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My ‘Washi Star’ quilt is coming along. I didn’t have a spare moment to sew the larger blocks together last week, but it was good just to admire it as I walked past. Coolba and Fluffo have somehow managed not to traipse across it (nor sleep on it, roll on it, dash over it, etc.) They’re waiting patiently until it’s quilted, I think. Good kitties.

I’ve also been busy stitching up my ‘Trick or Treat’ cross stitch pattern. It’s an enchanting little design and I love it so! Halloween’s not as far off as it seems, and I do love seasonal stitching.







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The garden’s still growing flowers by the armful, and everything’s buzzing and brimming with energy. Soon we’ll have bunches of pomegranates and lemons to pick. Cuddles is plumping up again after a long listless summer which rendered him totally slinky. He’s sleeping like a loaf in the evenings – another sign of the changing seasons.








Hope you’ve been having a wonderful summer (or winter, depending upon where you live!)

‘Till next time!

While the Sun Shines

It’s a sweltering 102-degrees in the afternoons, while I sip hot tea and sew a Christmas quilt. Like Billy Mumphrey, I suffer from the all-consuming affliction known as unbridled enthusiasm. (They said it would go away this side of childhood, but I think it’s gotten worse.)

This quilt’s been such fun. We call it ‘Washi Star’, because it features sawtooth stars, squares, and rectangles in a lovely, twinkly, washi tape array. We designed it so that all the pretty fabrics could take center stage. (By “all the pretty fabrics” I mean the most delightful Andover and Kaufman cotton chambrays, paired with Cotton+Steel’s ‘Tinsel’ and ‘Garland’ collections.) All that’s left is piecing the larger blocks together to finish the quilt top. I’ll see about taking a proper photo of the layout for my next post.







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The garden’s bursting with flowers these days. There are fresh blooms all over the house, like every summer, making everything in life a bit better. Flowers do that. Cuddles is his dapper self, (when he’s not being a complete brat, that is.) And my ‘Life on the Farm’ cross stitch is growing cheerfully each day. I will have to pause for a moment and start ‘Trick or Treat’, because that jolly Jack and his curious black kitty are calling me.










In the meantime, we’re working on so many lovely new projects (some we have to keep hush-hush for a bit.) And ’tis the season for holiday stitching, so be sure to pop into the shop regularly to catch all the festive new cross stitch patterns!

‘Till next time, cheerio!