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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Hi y'all! It's Christy Schmitz here, bringing you the freshest and latest news and ideas from the world of Just CrossStitch.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! My tree is up, and my wreath is hung; boxes of decorations have been brought downstairs and placed in the areas that will be their homes until January. I'm like a child awaiting Santa's arrival during Christmas. It's my absolute favorite holiday, and I think I've always loved Christmas. My granny (great-grandmother) was a passionate Christmas decorator too, and I think she passed that passion down to my mom and me. From handmade ornaments to pictures and craft projects to driving around looking at Christmas lights, Mom and I would go crazy during the season (and still do!). Growing up on the Alabama coast, our family's Christmas dinner didn't include the traditional ham and turkey; instead, we had shrimp creole every year, and it was something we eagerly anticipated. On Christmas Eve, we typically gathered at my grandparents' house; we'd eat, sing carols and then open presents in the living room.

As a kid, I'm sure the presents were a focus, but as an adult, I remember more the look of pride and joy on my grandparents' faces as they looked around the room at their family gathered. Several years ago, my mom and I started spending Christmas Eve night with my grandparents too, and we would have a quiet Christmas morning with them as well. Honestly, this was the part I cherished the most -- the simple, quiet personal time with my grandparents. I loved listening to the stories of the holiday seasons they remembered growing up or hearing them share things that had influenced their lives. Both of my grandparents are gone now, but those simple moments are what make the holidays for me. I'm focusing on happiness, simplicity and just being with those I love. As cliche as it sounds, it's really not about presents and perfection -- it's about the "spirit" of Christmas and remembering what we're celebrating with our Savior's birth. It's Ellie's first Christmas with us, and I know Abby will teach her our family traditions, starting with their first Christmas sweaters and photos, along with cherry-apple pie (they like to sample the apples) and what to do after photos.

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Starry Night

This past year, we've been taking a look at various specialty stitches, and now our year of specialty stitches is nearly over. I hope you've enjoyed them. We have two more stitches to explore this year, and today, we're looking at the star stitch. It's a simple combination of straight stitches and a cross stitch worked to create a ... star! It's super easy and is perfect for this time of year. Let's take a look.

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1. After securing the thread on the back of the fabric, bring the needle up as indicated by 1 on the stitch illustration. Next, sink the needle where indicated by 2 on the illustration, making a vertical straight stitch. Be careful not to pull the stitch too tightly.

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2. Bring the needle up where indicated by 3 on the stitch illustration and sink the needle where indicated by 4, repeating the above step but making a horizontal straight stitch. Again, be careful with tension and flatness of the thread.

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3. Bring the needle up where indicated by 5 and sink where indicated by 6, up at 7 and down at 8, working a cross stitch atop the straight stitches. Viola! You've created a star stitch that can be added to your choice of projects.

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This stitch can be worked over any number of fabric threads. You can also work the top cross stitch in a different floss color for something more unique. I especially love this stitch worked in metallic braids. A #4 very fine braid will produce a solid star, while a couple of strands of blending filament will produce a soft, ethereal effect. Let your imagination and needle run wild!

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For other stitch illustrations, check out Annie's Stitch Guide here.

Holiday Wreaths

So, it's no secret that I am a Christmas junkie. I love everything about the holiday season, and I am a huge fan of wreaths. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to wreaths -- I'm not even kidding -- and I hang wreaths on nearly every door (inside and outside) during the holidays. I also like adding a wreath above my fireplace, especially during the Christmas season, and I'm always looking for new ideas or tips. Yarn-ball wreaths are one of those styles that are so much fun and can be customized endlessly. But don't stop at yarn -- why not make a mini wreath made using embroidery floss? I was excited to find the Yarn-Ball Wreath video on Annie's Creative Studio. The video features easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on creating the perfect yarn-ball wreath along with tips, suggestions and tricks. The colors used in the video are springy, but can you imagine one made in rich reds, lush greens and vibrant teals with splashes of crisp whites? Be still, my beating wreath-loving heart! Have you taken a look at Annie's Creative Studio yet? It's a wealth of information and ideas! Here's the video for Yarn-Ball Wreath.

Yarn Ball Wreath

Annie's Creative Studio is a new streaming service that debuted earlier this year. New content is added weekly to this membership-based service, and new members can sign up for a free 30-day trial membership. Check out the new Annie's Creative Studio here.

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