Apr 12, 2015

Overdyed and Hand-Dyed Floss Organization

For years, I've been storing my different brands of hand-dyed/over-dyed floss  in gallon size ziploc bags according to manufacturer (GAST, Carries, SSS, HDF, WDW, etc.).

I organized them even farther by putting the floss in quart size ziploc bags alphabetically (A-D, E-J, K-M, etc). Inside each gallon bag was a checklist (from the manufacturer website) of colors available. I checkmarked the ones I have, so I know at a glance and don't have to go digging through the bag only to come up empty handed. 

I had two problems with this organization method:
•  It took a lot of time digging through the floss trying to find the one I wanted.
•  I couldn't look at the colors very well if I wanted to come up with a substitution for another brand.

After looking at various organization ideas on the internet, I think I've finally come up with an idea that will work for me.

Materials List:
•   Used Medium Flat Rate Box #2
•   White Spray Paint
•   Steak Knife
•   Packing Tape
•   Peel 'n Stick Laminate (i.e. Contact Paper)
•   Velcro Squares
•   3x4" Jewelry Ziploc Bags
•   4x6 Index Cards

Long time readers know I like to reuse, repurpose, and recycle if possible.  I looked through the boxes I have saved in my basement and found a postal flat rate shipping box.  I'm *sure* I received stash in it, LOL.  It is the #2 flat rate box:  Outside Dimensions: 12" x 3-1/2" x 14", Inside Dimensions: 11-7/8" x 3-3/8" x 13-5/8".

I painted it white to cover up the sender/recipient info as well as the printed logos and writing on the outside.  As you can see, I didn't bother with good coverage.  I just wanted to make sure the printing was mostly covered.  I placed the box with the bottom side facing up.  See the front edge where the two sides meet?  If it's facing you, that's the bottom side.

Using a steak knife, I cut through the adhesive and separated the cardboard sides.  I was careful in doing this so that I only cut the adhesive and not the cardboard itself.

Then I cut the left and right sides open.  Not so pretty after surgery...

I taped the sides securely back together using packing tape.  Now this is more like it!

Using the Peel 'n Stick Laminate (otherwise known as Contact Paper), I lined the inside of the box first.  Then the outside.  The best part of using this is there are several colors and patterns to choose from.  I had this in my basement so it's what I used.

Looks pretty, doesn't it?

My next dilemma was how to keep the box shut.  After pondering what I had in my supplies, I came up with squares of velcro.  Perfect!

Four squares were placed along the top edge of the box which acts at the lid, and four were placed on the lip/flap on the box itself.

The box is pretty large, so I created a divider out of two pieces of thin cardboard.  I wanted a removable divider so I made it freestanding.  I just put it in the box. Works great!

To organize the skeins of floss, I bulk purchased 3x4" ziploc jewelry bags and couple packages of 4x6 blank index cards.

I cut the index cards in half and labeled them with the brand of floss, the name, and number (if available).  Three skeins of hand-dyed floss fit into the bags.  Perfect for me since I don't have more than three skeins of any one color.

Once tagged and bagged, they're placed into the divided box.  I was able to fit all of my SSS floss in one box with room to spare.  I may make little tabbed dividers labeled with the alphabet to make it even easier to find floss by name.

If I want to see the colors, I simply start at the back of the box and slide my hand toward the front. Viola! Colors.

For the "finishing touch", I *finally* unpacked the Silhoutte Portrait I won last year.  After practicing on scrap contact paper, I made vinyl labels out of black laminate for my new floss box.

I think it really turned out well.  I'm in process of doing another box for my GAST and other specialty floss.  :)

Apr 5, 2015

Stitching and Tablets

I've had my tablet for a little over a year and it hadn't occurred to me to use it as a stitching tool.  I'm finding I like it!  There are several apps I use to assist me with stitching.

Historically, like many others, I've used paper and highlighters to mark my working copy of the chart I'm stitching.  My favorite highlighters are the Sharpie Retractable Highlighters. I can click it on, mark, and click it off with one hand.  No chance of accidentally getting highlighter on my hands or the fabric (Yes, it's happened).

So how does one go about using a tablet to stitch?

PDF Reader
Instead of making a paper working copy, I make a digital PDF scan of the chart.  Then use a PDF reader app to mark off the areas stitched.

I have an android Acer tablet.  Highly recommend!  It has a micro SD slot.  Once I scan my chart, I transfer it to the SD card and then move it to the tablet's internal memory.  I don't know about other tablets, but the highlighting won't save if the PDF is not saved to the tablet's memory (vs. the SD card).

I use Adobe Reader to view my PDF files, but there are lots of other PDF apps (FoxIt, iAnnotate, and others).  Some stitchers use the GoodReader app, too.

After opening the chart in Adobe Reader, several icons appear in the upper right of the screen.  Tap the second one from the left which is the note bubble/pencil icon.  The next set of icons has a highlighter icon (second from the left) and a pencil icon (sixth from the left).  You will always use the pencil icon to highlight your chart if your scanned chart is an image-only (bitmap/graphic) PDF.   The highlighter icon only works with a scanned document that is a searchable PDF (OCR has been performed on the scanned doc and it contains text, not just an image/graphic/bitmap).

A new set of icons appears once you select the pencil icon:

• checkmark = save
• left arrow = undo
• right arrow = redo
• square lines = pencil line width
• colored square = pencil color
• black and white checkered square = opacity

The first thing I do is set the opacity to the second icon.  This allows me to see the chart symbols after highlighting.

Second, I choose my pencil color. Adobe Reader has ten colors to choose from.

Lastly, I choose the pencil line width.  I've found that 3 or 5 works best for me.

Once the selections are made, it's time to stitch and mark off the chart.  I use my finger to draw the lines, but do have a stylus with a narrow tip on order.  I found the wide tip styluses don't work very well for line drawing... at least not on my tablet or on a Samsung Galaxy either.

If a highlight mistake is made, I just use the left arrow to undo.  I usually save (checkmark) often, too.  If you have to frog and restitch, you can just choose another color and highlight over the existing color.

Time Tracker
Like PDF readers, there are several time tracker apps.  I've been using Time Meter Time Tracker by Kapp Development.  It's a quick and easy time tracker for anything.  Prior to tablet stitching, I used a small notebook or post-it notes to keep track of the time I spend on stitching various projects.  With Time Meter, I simply press start and stop once the project name and label is entered.  Easy-peasy.

The app eliminates need for paper and pencil and is much more accurate than me trying to remember when I start vs. when I end.

Beginning Stitchers
For fun, I downloaded Cross-stitch App by Happy Frog Studio.  It's a pretty helpful app.  It has a page that discusses the history of cross stitch.  Other pages link to You Tube videos on how to stitch and design cross stitch patterns.  The last page is a link to the DMC website with all the free charts.

Fabric Calculator
Stitching the Night Away has a nice Fabric Calculator app to figure out what fabric size is needed for a project.  It's free, but for 99cents you can remove advertising.

So far for the apps I've tried, I really like using the tablet in conjunction with my stitching.  There's no paper or highlighters/colored pencils to keep track of. The chart can be enlarged or reduced in an instant.  Working copies for different projects can be kept on the tablet.  No post-it notes.  Accurate time tracking.

Apr 2, 2015

Retreat Time!

I had the pleasure of spending three days with some Hoosier ladies last week for their Spring Retreat held in Mitchell, Indiana.  There was LOTS of stitching and LOTS of laughs.  I'd tell you about the conversations, but as Lori said, "What's said at retreat stays at retreat." LOL  There were even several finishes!

There was a "Show 'n Tell" table where stitchers could display projects they brought.

There was also a giveaway table with lots of goodies stitchers brought for others to take if they wished.  A few things jumped right into my hands:


UK Magazines

Liz, one of the owners of Fancy Works, spent the weekend with us stitching.  She brought us a few things from the shop.


Busy stitching away.  This is the first retreat I've attended where everyone did a LOT of stitching.  It was great!

The fruits of labor yielded beautiful finishes.

Lori's Finish -- I love this design!

Annette's Finish - For the foreign exchange student staying with her family.

Pat's Finish - She had the neatest stitching stand.
I debated on taking Japanese Garden with me because the stand takes up so much table space.  In the end, I did take it.  IMO, I made quite a bit of progress.  Here's what it looked like before:

During the retreat, I completed the lower left corner ornament.  A mini finish… Yay!!

By the end of the retreat, I completed 75% of the 6 o'clock rock garden.  I told my new stitching friends that I only need about 4 more of these retreats in order to finish JG. LOL

I had a really good time at the Hoosier Retreat and am definitely planning on going to more of them!

Apr 1, 2015

Hump Day Happenings

How's your week going? Hump Day... Hopefully, it's all downhill from here.

Sometimes... just sometimes... I feel like getting my 'thrift' on so I head to the nearest store to imbibe in treasure hunting. I always see things that I think are really cool. Or, things I could upscale and make something really cool. Believe it or not, I *do* walk out without buying anything even when seeing these cool things. Bummer, I know! I wasn't so good in my recent travels, however.

 A kitted up quilt called "Night Light" by Villa Rosa Designs
Originally priced at $29.90

Aren't the fabrics adorable?

It came in this adorable felt froggy basket!
I picked up this kit for $2.99 -- Yep, that's right.  :)

I picked up this quilt kit, too.  It's a winter themed table runner
called Runner For the Borders.
Originally, it was $19.99 and I got it for 99cents!
For these prices, I couldn't pass either one up.

Healthy living pays off... in more ways than one.  Obviously, a healthy lifestyle means less health problems.  That's the BIG plus!  I mentioned in a previous post that I participate in a healthy living program through work in order to get a discount on the health insurance.  Another plus!  In order to get the discount, we need to accumulate at least 5,000 points by participating in various healthy living activities—annual medical/dental/eye care visits, blood donation, exercise, biometric screenings, workshops, weight loss, blood pressure, etc.  There are a TON of things to accumulate points.  Plus #3!  Every point earned equals $1 that can be used in the online “mall”.  We can buy things such as movie tickets, iPads, Amazon gift cards, bicycles and accessories, fitness equipment, etc.  Plus #4!  At the end of each year, 10% of the points accumulated carryforward to count for the next year, and all of the mall dollars carryforward for 3 years.  Plus #5!  Wait… There’s even more  --- I know you’re sitting on the edge of your seat wondering ---  At the different point levels (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), names of every participant from all companies using the program are put into a Jackpot drawing for various prizes.  Plus #6!  I’m at the Platinum level (10,000 points).  I mentioned previously that my name was drawn for an iPad mini.  I’m a bit miffed that mine arrived two weeks after I ordered it and my coworker got hers 2 DAYS after she ordered hers.  I’m not really miffed, but I was like: “What the heck?!?”  I haven’t played with the iPad much, but did buy the Xstitch app that keeps inventory of floss and charts.  It also has a journal feature to track projects.

If your company has a healthy lifestyle program, I encourage you to try it.  The biometric screenings have alerted me to areas that I need to work on.   I’m not a fan of exercise, but I have to admit that having the program in place is a wonderful incentive to get out and give it a go.  Having a pedometer to track my steps has really helped me to keep on top of the 10,000 steps/day goal.  I now know how many steps it is to walk from various places in my house (LOL) as well as various places outside.  I participated in my first 3K last year!  The other incentives are great, too.