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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I may actually finish this by December 1

Of course, now that I have written that, I have probably jinxed it.

Anyway, I've four more advent squares completed.

An orange:
Oranges were traditionally put in Christmas stockings as a special treat, back when they were not available year round. Even though they are not an exotic fruit anymore, I still give one to the beadboys in their stockings. To mimic the texture of a real orange, I attached the orange felt circle to the felt square with lots of tiny seed stitches, pulled tight. It didn't quite come out the way I wanted, but it is a neat effect nonetheless. The leaf is in the vandyke stitch, and the stem is a bit of DMC's memory wire twisted into a spiral.

A sugarplum:
The sugarplums of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and the Sugarplum Fairy are not real plums (although there are real plums named "sugar plums," which are small and oval and tart), but chopped up dried fruits rolled in sugar. Alton Brown has a recipe I want to try this year.

For this project, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could replicate the crystally look of something rolled in sugar. Glitter was an option, but it's a pain to work with and I thought the result would be too chintzy. I also thought about some kind of tinsel or cellophane overlay, but I wasn't sure what to use. So in desperation, I began searching the wide, wide world of web, and Flickr in particular, for inspiration. Imagine my excitement when I found Autumn2May's lovely sugarplum ornament, crusted over with delicas. I even had the perfect shade of beads.

For mine, I started with a dark purple piece of felt (in a vaguely fruitish shape) and began sewing on the seedbeads with purple nymo thread. I sewed most of the beads in groups of threes like little picots, with pairs and single beads to fill in any gaps.
Once the piece was completely covered, I appliqued it onto the felt square, and attached a bit of the same memory wire, twisted into a little stem. (Sugarplums don't actually have stems, but the piece looked a little bare without it.) I'm really excited about the finished product. Thanks, Autumn2May!

A candy cane:
Apparently, there is this whole story that says candy canes were invented by a candymaker who chose the shape to resemble a shepherd's hook, the white to represent Christ's purity, the red to represent His blood, and so on. That sounded a bit pat to me, and confirmed it's an urban legend.

I got the idea for using rickrack from Martha Stewart, and it was quite simple, if a bit fiddly. I braided together red and white rickrack, getting their curves to nest together, which resulted in a bumpy, ugly mess. Fortunately, instead of just chucking the idea, I reread the directions and saw that I needed to iron the hell out of the rickrack to flatten and smooth it. That did wonders, and all that was left was to bend it into a hook and tack it down with small stitches, tucking the raw ends underneath.

A snowman:
In our house, there are two kinds of snowmen -- Frosty the Snowman and Frosty That Doesn't Talk. The beadboys prefer the former, unfortunately, although the latter is growing on them.

This one came to me as I was sorting through buttons; I had always intended to make a snowman, and I realized big white buttons would be perfect (and a change of pace from the wool felt I use for most of these squares). I attached the two bottom buttons with a cross stitch, which in turn represent the "buttons" on his body (and yet snowmen don't have clothes . . .). the head I attached at the top two holes with french knots for his eyes, and I sewed a size 6 orange seed bead (the closest I could get to a carrot) over the bottom two holes. Memory wire branches for arms (I bought the memory wire for another project, might as well use it up) and a little felt hat completed him.

More than halfway done!

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