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The Secret Garden Part One

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Part One of The Secret Garden has finally arrived! 

This is such a fun stitch. In fact, I think I enjoyed working on this one more than any of our other book club pieces so far. All of the colors pop so well on this beautiful Chocolate Raspberry fabric which makes starting each new color so exciting! When complete, this design will look like it was a difficult stitch. But the simpleness of the individual motifs allow this piece to be stitched with minimal effort and maximum enjoyment. 

I must warn those of you that are used to working on the Mini SALs that this is more stitching than you are used to during one of our reading periods. When I designed this piece I hadn't realized just how fast of a read the novel is. Once I started planning out the reading schedule, I realized that there was simply no way that we could drag the book discussion out over several months the way that we have with the other novels. For that reason, I decided to break the Discussion Days and pattern release…

Frances Hodgson Burnett: Author Profile

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Frances Hodgson Burnett (née Frances Eliza Hodgson) was born in Manchester, England in 1849, and was one of five children of a well-to-do family. Tragedy struck early in her life, however, when her father died of a stroke in 1854, leaving their family without an income. Her mother struggled to keep the family brass goods business running, and during this time Frances was looked after by her grandmother. It was through her grandmother that she first developed her love of books.

Over the next several years, the family moved multiple times, finally finding themselves--upon invitation of an uncle--in the United States, in the state of Tennessee. But with the end of the American Civil War, her uncle found himself on hard times, too. And by the age of 18, Frances was working as a writer to earn money for her family.

Her first work was published in 1868, in Godey's Lady's Book, the most popular women's magazine of its day and known as the "queen of the monthlies." She qu…

The Three Musketeers Discussion Questions

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Here is a complete list of discussion questions for The Three Musketeers:

Part One - Chapters 1 - 14

When we first meet d'Artagnan he is traveling on a notable yellow horse. How does this, along with other features, set him up to be seen as different from the other men that he meets?D'Artagnan quickly finds himself scheduled for 3 duels. How does the reasoning for each duel explain the unique personalities of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis? Does the result of their dueling escapade make you think differently of any of our musketeers?What role has honor already played in the novel? Are the musketeers honorable? Which character best represents honor?We have only seen King Louis for a short time so far, but what can we already make of his character? Is he outmatched by the cardinal?Most of our characters seek romance in the form of mistresses, but not d'Artagnan. What do you make of his immediate attraction to Madame Bonancieux? How are d'Artagnan's and Buckingham's fee…

The Three Musketeers Book Review

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"All for one and one for all!" These are words that I have known my entire life. But I must admit that I had never read The Three Musketeers before our book club. I was such a fan of Dumas's other work, The Count of Monte Cristo, that when the idea presented itself to me, I was eager to jump into this adventure, as well.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but not to the extent that I expected. Having seen several films and television series based on it, the written work is certainly not what I envisioned it to be. And I absolutely understand where other readers are coming from when they say that they have struggled to get through its pages.

To begin with, since embarking on this project it has come to my attention that translation plays a huge part in the enjoyment of this work. Unlike The Count of Monte Cristo, the widely available translations available in English for The Three Musketeers are less than dazzling. I have heard from a few of our readers that they were s…

Stitching With Loop Start

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If you have never heard of loop start, welcome to the post that will revolutionize your stitching!

When I first learned how to cross stitch, my least favorite part (asides from separating my floss) was starting a new thread. I found the standard practice of catching the end of my floss under my stitches tedious and frustrating. Then I discovered loop start and now starting a new thread is perhaps the easiest part of stitching.

To use loop start it is important to note that it can only be used when an even number of floss strands is required for stitching, typically two. Also, it should not be used with variegated floss.

How to use loop start:

Begin by separating ONE strand of working floss. Fold it in half and thread both ends through the needle.  You'll now see that by having done this, it has doubled up the floss to appear as two working strands with a loop at the end.

Put your needle up through the first point of your stitch and pull through a few inches of floss.

Next, place yo…

The Three Musketeers Film Alternatives

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While many Stitching Book Club participants have enjoyed reading Alexandre Dumas's adventure classic The Three Musketeers, there have been just as many who have found this read to be a bit of a challenge and for good reason.

If you are someone who just can't get onboard with Dumas's novel but want to enjoy the nail-biting, sword-swinging, action-packed shenanigans of d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, there are always some great film alternatives that might suit you better. Please note that none of the productions listed below actually stay true to the plot of the novel. The closest is probably the BBC television series, but even that changes a substantial amount of the material.


Here is a list of film and television series alternatives that you may enjoy: 


The Three Musketeers - 1948 film

Staring Van Heflin, Lana Turner, June Allyson, Gene Kelly, Vincent Price, and Angela LansburyA classic Hollywood film! I have not personally seen this film but with that cast, how…

My Magic Needle Freebie Chart

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I hope that you enjoy stitching this freebie chart! It was created with no designated color palette so that you can make your own. It coincides with a story that Stitching Book Club members and I wrote together over the course of several weeks. Below you can find the original story.

To print this chart, right click on the image and select print. It will try to print this entire blog page, but you can select to print only the page with the chart on it. You can also make the chart larger by selecting to print in "Landscape" mode rather than "Portrait."

The Story of the Magic Needle:
Once upon a time there was a woman who picked up a needle and thread. She had been taught the fine art of needlework by her mother and used it to create something that made her smile and gave her joy.

One day she received a message from a mysterious old crone asking her to create a magic picture for her. Despite not knowing what the picture was for, the woman agreed and set about stitchin…