Valley of Shadow – Picking the Fibers

The first step to doing the stitching is to pick the fibers.  Typically, I pick one kind of fiber for the majority of the design.

There are many choices of fiber available for needlework today.  They have different feels (or hand), luster, colors.  They require different skills to prepare and stitch with them.

For this project, I have chosen to use DMC cotton floss.  It has a smooth hand that is nice to work with.  It comes in a wide array of colors, which you can count on to be consistent from one lot to another.  It is widely available.  I have purchased a number of lots of various colors from retiring needleworkers, so I have a “library” of colors that I can choose from for any new project.

DMC Cotton Floss by Carmen CS
DMC Cotton Floss, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.


Cat’s Project for Bella – How Much Time?

One of the first questions that must be answered when starting any design is “How much time do I want to devote to this project?”  Time limits many design options.  If you want something to give tomorrow, there’s no way a large elaborate design will work.  If you want beautiful lettering, an intricate image, subtle shading, you’re not going to get it in a bookmark you can complete in an afternoon.

I want to stress here that bigger, time-consuming designs aren’t always better.  It can be hard to sustain the effort needed to make it to completion.  It is dispiriting to start with high hopes for a project and end up with it sitting half-finished in the closet.  It’s best to pick something you can encompass.

Also, you need to consider how the person you are making it for will use it.  A big framed piece may not work for everybody.  Cat wrote:

I would like something small she can keep in her room, or in a memory box as she matures.

Small size means we need to look at trade-offs between length of verse, simplicity of lettering, and size of stitches.  If you’re willing to work very small stitches intricate words are possible, but will take time.

Cat, I had an idea which I’m not sure if you would like.  How about stitching a book?  Maybe a book cover that would hold photo pages.  Or maybe a book that you could add to over time, and maybe even other people would stitch pages for her?  She might even add to it herself in time.  It could be bound with ribbons, and the edges whip stitched.

So, what we need to figure out is how elaborate a project do you want?  I can do embroidery bookmarks that will take a couple of hours:

Insp Unfailing BM by Carmen CS
Insp Unfailing BM, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

I can do 5″x7″ 10 point designs which might take a weekend:Rheba Flamingoes by Carmen CS

Rheba Flamingoes, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

And it goes up from there…

(in)courage gift completed!

(in)courage | daily devotional for women.

So, here’s the completed gift for our (in)RL hostess!  In case you’ve been watching my work thinking you would never have time, this project took just a few hours.  But those hours were full of prayer, of love, and of joy!

Untitled by Carmen CS
Untitled, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

All things are possible…

All things are possible to him who believes, they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are easier to him who loves, and still more easy to him who practices and perseveres in these three virtues.”


From my morning readings in “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence

The Obligatory Votive Candles Shot by GlasgowAmateur
The Obligatory Votive Candles Shot, a photo by GlasgowAmateur on Flickr.

Belief lights a candle to see us through dark days.

Hope is a beacon calling us on.

Love is the sun rising out of the mists.

Perseverance lies in keeping our eyes peeled for the light.


(in)courage | daily devotional for women

(in)courage | daily devotional for women.

I spent yesterday at a local gathering of sisters sponsored by the (in)courage community.  It’s called (in)RealLife because it’s a chance to meet people in real life that you share online community with.  You can still get on the website and see the podcast – very inspirational!  Great if you have trouble getting out to meet people.

So of course – a prayer piece for our hostess, Cindy!  Thanks for blessing us – we couldn’t have met without you!

for Cindy - our hostess by Carmen CS
for Cindy – our hostess, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

Valley of Shadow – Painting complete!

Here is the complete painted canvas.  Now I can start picking threads.  The key on the right shows each shade I will need, so I can make sure I have all the fibers necessary.  But I will refer back to the original photo for fine-tuning of the colors.

Insp18 Valley of Shadow by Carmen CS
Insp18 Valley of Shadow, a photo by Carmen CS on Flickr.

One note: I have not been reporting my progress in real-time.  Painting actually took me about a week, and since then I have moved on to stitching.  I’ve been reporting in bite-sized chunks, both for your understanding and to break up the writing :-).


This wide spreading love…

“This wide spreading love, this refusal of private advantage is the very condition of Christian prayer; for that prayer is an instrument of redemptive action, not merely of personal achievement.”

From my morning readings in “Abba” by Evelyn Underhill

new commandment-s by John Leech ~ Wedding Photographer, Cumbria
new commandment-s, a photo by John Leech ~ Wedding Photographer, Cumbria on Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution License.

We are commanded to love one another, and not just in a conceptual way, but through service, as our Lord loved us.  Prayer is a primary mechanism of this love.  We must pray for each other, loving each other, looking for the best for all God’s children.  But we must also do practical things for those we love.  Combining active service with serving prayer is a high calling for all of God’s children.


Favourite Music – True Vibe – See the Light

Everyone can make a difference!

All around us everywhere are people hurting
Opportunities to love
Make the most of everyday of every moment
That he gives for us to share
Take the time to show you care See The Light: True Vibe: Music.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our lives that we forget the opportunities all around us.  They are there!  I spent years thinking I couldn’t do anything because of my health and financial issues.  That’s just not true!  I have been doing NeedlePrayer in service of others for a year now, and it is so rewarding, and really does make a difference to my recipients, to know they are cared about.

Make the most of every day!

A little girl and a God-Sized Dream–how to get that dream back

A wonderful God-sized dream tale…


Yesterday we took a little time out to go to the beach.


The waves break, the seagulls rise and the sun beats down warm on our faces.

I watch the white capped water lapping onto the sand and pulling back out to the ocean. Life coming in and going out with the current and washing debris up onto the beach.

So I sit and listen again to a dream in my daughter’s heart that so closely mirrors my own.

I see her tear up when we read stories of our missionary friends who are providing medical care to children in Africa and telling them about Jesus. She is stirred with compassion when she hears stories of orphaned babies.

I love her heart. So compassionate. So generous.

This is my child who when I buy her something special she gives it away and giving it makes her happier than getting it.

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As long as we’re alive…

“I’ve heard retired people, those with chronic illness, and many facing difficult circumstances say the same thing— that it’s too late.


But like I said before, I believe as long as we’re alive, our dreams are too.”

From my morning readings in “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream”, by Holley Gerth.

Snow Tree by Lapse of the Shutter
Snow Tree, a photo by Lapse of the Shutter on Flickr.

It’s easy, when we face hard situations, to throw up our hands and give in.  It’s harder to try to hold to our principles and stand by our dreams.  The last few years I have been struggling to manage a somewhat normal life, let alone pursue any dreams.  Then last summer I read about a brave young lady fighting cancer.  I decided to make her a special piece of needlepoint.  Now that is growing into a dream of service and sharing.

Don’t sell yourself short with what you think you can’t do.  Ask God what you can.