Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

Halloween cross stitch

I know I said I was going to work on that horrible 32 count linen project, but I am weak and so instead I started a whole NEW project.  This is my first time working with Aida and it is just as quick and easy as I had imagined it would be, even if it’s not quite as nice looking as linen.  Oh well.  It is perfect for all of the power point lessons I have been going through!


I am following the pattern with the exception of pink lips for the little wolf, taking out the eyes and snout on his hat, and using a sparkle floss mixed with the Weeks Dye Works purple for the ‘trick or treat’ wording.  The purple just wasn’t variegated enough to look special enough for me to have that much of it so prominently, so adding in the sparkle has been perfect.  It doesn’t come across well in pics, but it’s looking great in real life!

frosted pumpkin stitchery halloween

Death by 32 count linen | Christmas sampler

christmas counted cross stitch

This 32 count linen is going to be the death of me.  I am a Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery addict.  I love their patterns and am soooo excited about the National Parks sampler.  But before I start on that, I need to finish up this Christmas sampler.  I have worked on linen before, but in the past it was 28 or 24 count linen that had pretty even threads.  This gorgeous sparkle 32 count linen from Picture This Plus is proving to be a much harder medium to work with.  I have the hardest time identifying my two threads, especially if I need to count any blank spaces.  This tiny section of work represents many many hours!

I’ve tried to solve the problem in a couple of ways–I got some reading glasses, but they didn’t seem to help, so I tried this magnifying glass with a light.  It’s problematic because I like to sit on the sofa while I stitch and there’s no good place to put it that doesn’t collapse down.  It was also awkward to work under.  I think lighting is the biggest help–working on it outside in daylight is the best, and in our dark living room at night the worst.

Wish me luck!

Art to Embroidery | A Finished Christmas Project

Both my psych class for school this bimester and my IBCLC course (for eventually being certified as a lactation consultant) have a significant number of audio powerpoint hours.  This is perfect for handwork projects, and before I start one of my new Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery patterns, I figured I should finish up this oldie that had been stagnating in my embroidery bag for years.

christmas embroidery

The project is based on this beautiful piece of art that I found (in 2012!) on Etsy.  I asked the seller if it would be okay with her if I turned her picture into an embroidery project after buying the print.  She agreed (and it’s neat to see that later she ended up selling a few embroidery patterns)!  With her blessing, I then was able to scan the print.  I put it into photoshop, created a new layer on top of the scanned print, and drew the outlines that I would want to use for my embroidery stitches in a light gray.  I then ironed a piece of white fabric onto freezer paper to stabilize it, and printed the outline layer onto the fabric.

christmas embroidery

Since this was not a typical embroidery project, I got to decide all of the colors and stitches I would use–this was a LOT of freedom or stress, depending on how you look at it!  I love the french knot wreath and bushes and the sparkle floss I found for the snow.  Looking back at the finished piece, if I were to do it again, I would get rid of the children (which were really hard to translate into embroidery stitches) and just use the house and the title.  I love that house.  When I created the embroidery pattern, I had moved down the title a little bit to close the space between the house and the title, but when the embroidery was finished it still looked like too much empty space between the title and the majority of the embroidery.  I marked dots in pencil on the fabric for where I wanted snowflakes to go, and then ad libbed snowflakes.

This was my second project of translating art into embroidery (the first project I received the artist’s permission to make the project, but she asked me not to share publicly that I had done so).  After two, I think my big lesson is that it’s really hard to make the people look good, and I will stick to houses and gardens in the future!

Sarah Wiehe - You are so talented. Translating pictures to embroidery and I think the people are adorable!!!

Children at Play coordinating dresses

I wanted to make my nieces dresses for their birthday this summer, and decided that I wanted to make a matching dress for Ellie, too.  I decided on my all time favorite fabric lines, Children at Play by Sarah Jane.  For Ellie I knew I’d make another geranium dress.  For the girls I settled on the open back baby dress pattern, because I had loved it when Ellie was a toddler for easy comfortable dressing on hot days.  Since I knew the girls are often just in diapers on hot days, I figured a diaper cover and barely-there dress would be perfect!


I had not planned to make Ellie’s dress a patchwork skirt, but when I opened the piece of fabric I had planned for the skirt, it turned out that I had already used half of it.  I didn’t have any single pieces of Children at Play fabric large enough for the skirt, and the twins’ dresses were already made so it was too late to change fabric lines, so I improvised with a patchwork skirt!


I kept putting off taking pictures of all of the kids together because I knew it would be hard, but I left it too late and we had to cram in this portrait session on our last day in the wind when everyone was tired after a great hike.  So I’m not thrilled with the pics.  That will teach me to procrastinate!



Speattle - Hmmm….. I have 4 granddaughters ages 5 and under. Perhaps I need to invest in this pattern!

I love the patchwork of Ellie’s dress. Looks like it was planned that way from the start.

I often have a loose idea on projects I make, but they almost always evolve as I go along.

Nursing school summer recap

People of the internet, weep for me.  Tomorrow I go back to nursing school.

It’s basically like when Piper voluntarily surrendered herself to jail.

Except there’s a lot less free time.


I’m really good at putting my head down and getting through rough times.  It’s like a super power that rubs off on you when you grow up in England.  But taking breaks is harder for me.  The stopping and restarting does a number on my morale and makes the finish line feel farther away.  Psych is coming up for me next, and my coworkers all cringe when I tell them I’m in psych this semester.  It is not confidence building.

In better news, I did complete my second (and final for my RN) pharmacology class this summer.  It was a nail biter, and I was getting a very high B up until the last two weeks of class.  Then I was getting a very low A, which was terrifying in its own right, and it all came down to the final.  I figured that would be fine.  Finals generally seem to be grade bumpers/status-quoers, not grade droppers.  Not this final.  This final…well, here is a picture I took of our professor as she proctored the exam:


(Note to lawyers: I clearly did not violate anyone’s copyright here since this is an actual picture from the classroom.  Similarities between my classroom and a Game of Thrones battlefield are purely coincidental.)

You know how they always say that if you are taking a test and it doesn’t feel like it’s going so well that you should flip to the back and tackle it backwards?  Well, I opened the exam.  I did the first few questions.  I felt less great about those questions than I would like.  I was like “no big deal, it’s just a backwards test day.  that’s what I’ll do.”  So I flipped to the back.  Nothing is quite as confidence boosting as the few brainless medication calculations that close out each exam.  Calculator and pencil ready, I read the first math question.  Huh.  We’ve never had a question worded like THAT before.  Okay, that’s a fluke.  Second math question will be like the ones we’re used to.  Oh.  It’s not.  Well, that’s fun.  Let’s leave that for later.  Move on to the first CONTENT question at the back of the exam.  That will do the trick.  Oh.  Okay.  So that’s how you’re gonna play it.  I understand now.

I walked out of the room thinking that I would be very satisfied with a B.  I laid it all out on the field, and, if Simone Biles could be happy with her bronze on the balance beam, I could take a B in pharmacology.  Maybe it would be great in the long run, 4.0 ruined, I could stress a little less.  I thought back to a wonderful conversation with a classmate in the first few weeks of the course, when I couldn’t seem to dig myself out of that high B.   “B stands for ‘you could have done BETTER’ ” I told her.  “No, B means you have a LIFE,” she said.  “You went camping and on vacation and have kids and a job.”  “Uhhhh, that doesn’t even start with a ‘B’ ” I countered.  And then it was like the baby Jesus himself gave her the next line, it was so inspired. “A B stands for BALANCE!” she announced.  And it was so perfect that we had to stop arguing to bask in her genius.

In the end, though, my lucky earrings that have come through for me for over 15 years, worked their magic once again.  I can only assume that my soul now belongs to some sort of deviant underlord, because I did surprisingly well on the final and kept my 4.0.

(And you thought watching the Olympic games was exciting.)

Speattle - Ah yes….nursing school! I have a BSN from the UW (yes, that UW, go Huskies!)class of 1978. It was a tough curriculum back then too and quite competitive to get into.

I have to say that Psych nursing was my least favorite of all. We were using text books that were copyrighted in the 1950s (this in 1977). Perhaps you will be lucky enough to get a text book from 1990?

When I graduated, the psych nurse dept was practically begging members of my class to enter their Masters program. I think anyone with a pulse was offered a slot if they wanted it, no formal application needed. I declined and went to work instead.

Oh, and I think that professor you have in the picture above also taught at UW decades ago too.

First day of school dress


It’s probably safe to say that I’m a little obsessed about the geranium dress pattern from Made by Rae.  This is my third geranium dress, and maybe my favorite.  I love this gardening fabric line from Dinara Mirtalipova! I think that adding piping to the dress is the most important step.  I use this tutorial. It has you use a 1 3/8″ wide strip.  If I need to put a seam in the fabric for the trim, I make sure the seams match up with the side seams of the dress.

gardenia dress gardening dinara