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Follow Directions

When you're the editor of a cross-stitch magazine, you always look forward to the mail and email. With regard to postal deliveries, I have the best job in the world. When stitched projects arrive, I have to hold myself back from tearing the packages open. I have to open my mail with extreme care because of the carefully stitched linen that might be inside. Email is also fun to open about 90 percent of the time (the other 10 percent are the emails reminding me of deadlines!).

I received an email last summer from one of our design contributors, Nancy Boyarsky. In addition to her ornament (which is published in the 2016 Just CrossStitch Christmas Ornaments issue, she sent me a wintertime stitching story, written by Lizabeth Davis.

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I have been holding back the story, titled Swirly Snow, until we had snow here in northeast Indiana, which arrived the week before Christmas. We had plenty of swirly snow, as you can see from this picture of my husband clearing the driveway.

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My husband, John, is dilligent about keeping snow off the driveway, even as the snow keeps falling.

Here is the story Nancy sent me:

Swirly Snow
By Lizabeth Davis

One gloomy winter day, a stitcher sat in her rocking chair next to a roaring fire. She had everything she needed or wanted -- enough food and wood to last the winter, stash to keep her busy to oblivion and a snug little house with a dog, a cat and a parrot for company. But there was just something missing.

She looked and looked through her stash. She matched up floss and fabric. She kitted up projects. But she just couldn't find the right thing to work on.

One day, the door burst open and a blast of snow and sleet deposited a chart on the rug in front of her. The snow and sleet took the form of a snowman, but it didn't melt.

"My dear stitcher," the snowman said, "you have been chosen to receive Swirly Snow. It will remain clean and intact until you finish stitching it. You can even mark on it, but the marks will fade with the last stitch. You may take pictures and share the pictures with others, but you can never take the chart or your project beyond these walls."

With that, he was gone. The door was closed. There wasn't even a drop of water anywhere. But there on the rug in front of her, lay Swirly Snow.

The stitcher was beside herself with excitement. She gathered all she needed to stitch the design. Day and night she stitched on it. Finally, it was done. She posted pictures of her finished project and pictures of the chart. She loved it.

Alas, she did not heed the snowman's warning. In her excitement, she decided she just had to show it to her friend just a couple of miles away. The snow wasn't deep, and the sky was a beautiful clear blue. She carefully wrapped her project and set out.

As she walked through the forest, the package became lighter. She opened it and discovered there was nothing in it. Then the wrapping disappeared. She looked at her arms and realized that she, too, was fading. Back at her cabin, the chart blew into the fire and burned up. Then as the afternoon sun shone on it, the cabin grew fainter and fainter until there was no sign it had ever existed.

To this day, stitchers around the world swear that they have seen pictures of that first Swirly Snow and even of the chart. Sometimes when the sun is going down and the snow is falling lightly, a cabin can be seen in the woods. Through a window, you can see a stitcher, head bent over her work, sitting next to the fire. Any attempt to reach it is futile, though. It just fades and reappears somewhere else.

Some say there really is a Swirly Snow. Some say it's a figment of the imaginations of a particular group of stitchers. Some say it will never be found. But in the dead of winter, when the wind blows across the snow, in a brief gust the snow rises and you can see ... Swirly Snow and hear the tinkling sound of a snowman laughing. *

I suppose the moral of this story is to always follow directions!

Speaking of following directions, see "Check Your Eyes" about the proper way to stitch an eyelet in the Tutorial section of this update.

Thank goodness we didn't try to print the infamous Swirly Snow in Just CrossStitch or the magazine would have disappeared! Here are a few snow designs that we were able to print without them fading from sight:

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