Q&A: Anniversaries of the Heart

Last week I told you that I finished my cross stitch piece Anniveries of the Heart by Blackbird Designs.  I’ve gotten LOTS of question about it so I thought I’d answer them all here.

I started this on January 1st of 2021.  I first learned about the charts after watching Olivia at Pumpkin Hollow Quilts on Youtube.  If you are interested in stitching this, I recommend going back and watching her videos from 2020 when she stitched hers.

It comes as 12 different charts…yes that makes it kind of expensive to stitch, but it’s an heirloom piece and I believe it was worth it.

The charts aren’t the easiest to find all in one place.  I ordered from three different places to get all of the charts.  Last year they were my birthday present to myself.

I stitched mine on Vintage Country Mocha 40 count.  This is a linen I always gravitated towards.  If you’re new to higher count linens, this is a perfect beginner linen.  It is also fairly easy to find.  I stitched mine on a fat quarter.  The finished design was 19″ x 13″.  That allowed for 3 spaces in between each of the charts.

YES..I said there were 12 charts but looking at the piece, you see more squares than that.  TRUE.  Chart #7 has the bonus block with the alphabet that is in the middle top.  Chart #12 has the bonus last rectangle in it.  I’ve seen people stitch the bonus last chart and a couple of other blocks rather than the whole thing.  If you are planning on stitching this, I HIGHLY suggest going to THIS SITE.  They were a wealth of information.

The charts follow the months of the year.  Many people stitch them to record birthdays.  Early on, I decided that we ignore birthdays and instead just dedicate blocks.  I did them as follows
5-one for each of my kids
1-for my husband and I
2-for my grandparents
2-for my husband’s grandparents
1-husband’s parents
1-my parents

That happily makes 12 blocks.  If you don’t have that many in your family…no problem.  Add other important people to you.  You can do whatever you want.

For the Geary’s site that I suggested earlier, I learned that quite a few people didn’t like the first block because the original design in very light.  The borders were white.  People felt it didn’t blend with the piece.  I agreed and loosely used THIS CONVERSION.

When I first started these I splurged and bought a lot of the called for threads.  The problem I ran into is that this chart was designed over 10 years ago and the dye companies have changed the colors.  Many of the called for colors not look icky together.  I quickly learned to use the DMC or to use it as a guide to help pick a overdyed floss that I thought was okay.  I never used all of the called for colors…not once.

The first block is…dedicated to my son Karl.  He’s the fourth born.  He is single.  I started with him as the block, I thought, would be easier to stitch as I only had to worry about him…and it was easier.  I remember fretting over the color of the peacock.  I ended up using camoflague.  Karl had just bought his house so I put his house number on the block near the key.

The next block is for my maternal grandparents, Iver and Elsa Johnson.  I put the initials of all of their children into the piece…
CI-for my dad Carl

They were married in 1911 both came to the US from Sweden.

The bonus chart is next…

The next is for our oldest daugher Kelli and her husband Jason.  She ended up getting this block as the charts had Hayden where I put Hanken.  There were very few changes because of that.  They were married in 2014 and have three kids

I quickly learned that if I was to include all the information I wanted, full names vs initials, I would have to modify the designs.  I learned to stitch the border and the house…then stitch the names.  After that I added the other motifs.

This block is for my maternal grandparents, Ignatius and Evylon Huntington.  Her maiden name was Casper.  They were married in 1924.  They had:
died at birth were MaryLou, Mary and Joseph.  My mom’s initials are lower ER for Evalonne Revae.

Starting in the next row is the block for my husbands paternal grandparents.  Kasjen and Geridena Kruse were married in 1912 and had two children George and Ann.

Next is the block for my husbands parents George and Pauline Kramer.  They were married in 1941 and had six children.
Roger, my husand

Next is the block for my husband and I.  This was designed as the July block and is located in the dead center of the piece.  We were married in July 1986 so the July block was perfect for us.  I’ve seen other people move blocks around and that’s perfectly fine.  It’s your piece.  I did like that our block is in the center as the piece is really a dedication to my husband and I.

I worried how our block would look as all of our children have “K” as their first initial.  You can see the line of Ks on the left of the house.  By the way, someone will ask…Jeanne is my real name.

Next is a block for my parents, Carl and Evalonne Johnsons married in 1948.  My parents had kids all with the first initial J.
James and me.  I’ve never heard Judy or Jim ever be called by their formal first name.

Next block is for our daughter Kayla and her husband Spencer Pins.  They were married in 2012 and have Jasper.  This block I picked out early to be theirs as there was a dog on a block.  They have a yellow lab and I thought is appropriate to pick the block for them.

The October block was stitched for our youngest, Kalissa and her husband Craig.  Part of the reason they got his block was because of the layout of the block.  It was hard to fit a lot of initials into the block.  They have two kids so I could squeeze Carver and Gannon’s initials in quite easily.  There was supposed to be more vine on the pumpkin and I simply cut it off to fit their names in.  Again, I stitched the border and house, then filled in the names.

The original design mostly calls for initials or first names.  I wanted more of a recorded history so opted to in full first and last names.  Last names were mostly all capitol letters..first names not.

I opted to typically but the family last name first to easily identify the family name.

Next is the block for my husbands paternal grandparents, Rudolph and Frieda Henke.  They were married in 1919 and had six kids:
William (Bill)
Harold-died in infancy

They came to the US from Germany because of WWI.

Next is the block for our son Buck (Kasjen) and Lora.  They have three kids

The last block if for the stitcher, me.  I debated a lot on what to put here.  The chart lists the words out and the stitcher is supposed to put their name and location.  I opted to put Jo here.  Elsewhere I listed my real name as Jeanne.  The charted version encourages stitches to put there state as their location.  I was born in Minnesota and moved to Iowa in my 20s.  I opted to put our town in place of the state.  I put the year I finished this as 2021.  You’ll also notice a 1965 on the chart.  It is my birth year.

There was the anchor already charted.  I opted to add a flying bird as well.  I feel like my family, especially my husband was my grounding force, represented by the anchor.  I also feel that he also encouraged me to have wings and try things…like a bird in flight.  It was meaningful to me and didn’t compromise the chart in any way to add the flying bird.

I also added the beagle dog and the initials of the house dogs we’ve had over the years…all beagles, Gracie, Ruby and Rosie.

During the year I commited to stitch one block a month.  In March I did two..the March block and the bonus alphabet block.

In September I upped my game and committed to stitching two a month.  I wanted to have the piece completed by the end of the year and not be super rushed in December with having to stitch the regular December block and the last big bonus block.

To date, this is the largest piece I have stitched.  I love it and am so happy I stitched it all.

I trimmed off the edge.  I’ll be using this for smalls.  I don’t want to waste linen.

I use the Gentle Arts color Tin Bucket for all of the lettering.  I thought is would look more uniform that way.  I needed one whole skein plus more to do all the letters.  I am pretty stitch heavy so everyone might not need that much.

I am so tickled with this.  I’ve not been stitching on linen on high counts for a long time so this was a pretty big piece for me to tackle.

The piece has inspired me to chose meaningful pieces when I stitch now.  I’m not very good at wanting to do something because it’s cute.  Everything I have bought after I started stitching on this, needs to have meaning or a reason for me now.  I am looking for ways to personalize or dedicate a piece.  I’m wanting to stitch more pieces destine to become heirlooms.  I’m so thankful that my kids will treasure these when I’m gone.

Once this is back from the framers I will print this blog post, tape and envelope to the back and include this as part of the history of the piece.

I had a little time wrapping my head around this big piece at first.  I didn’t know if I wanted to stitch it as I don’t know if my kids are done having kids.  I don’t know if Karl will get married.  Then finally one of my kids said to me, “Mom.  This is just a piece recording our history in 2021.  You can always stitch something else commemorating future births.”  That helped me decide to take the leap and stitch it.

I have my eye on stitching another Blackbird design piece like this, For the Birds.  It has nine charts to it.  All the blocks are birds.  The pieces is rich in blue colors…I happen to have nine grandchildren so it was a no-brainer for me to stitch that.  I’m hoping to stitch a block or two in 2022 but then go full speed ahead on that in 2023.  Yep…a stitcher’s got to make plans.

36 thoughts on “Q&A: Anniversaries of the Heart”

  1. What a masterpiece. You have done a wonderful job and it will be a cherished keepsake. You are an amazing stitcher and quilter. I love reading your blog.


  2. Jo, that is a beautiful piece filled with love for your family. You are inspiring me to try something similar to this design. Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

  3. This is meaningful because of the thought and love you put into it stitch by stitch in 2021. I’ve enjoyed reading all you wrote and watching this grow. Putting a copy of this post with your final product is perfect! Thank you for sharing you, Jo ❤️

  4. This is a treasure, Joe. Thank you for including us in your thought process. I am going to keep this post as a reference when I start my AOTH. Would it be possible to list your floss color conversions?


  5. Your work just takes my breath away! Your piece here is filled with more than history, but with so much love.
    I’m so grateful you share your projects with us.
    Now I want to take up cross stitching!

  6. This post is a keeper for sure. I know I will refer to it when I start mine. But first, I think I’ll do For the Birds. I splurged and bought charts for quite a few smaller pieces. Some are gifts. It has been nice to have a bit of stitching to switch to when my arms need a break from knitting. Also, for what it’s worth, my sister has been living with an inoperable form of breast cancer that attached to her sternum. Once a month she goes to Ann Arbor for a chemo pill. It makes her super tired for a couple days. Then she bounces back. It’s not ideal, but she’s keeping it at bay still so that’s a blessing. She needs the Lord. I agree with the earlier poster who suggested that everyone is different in how it affects them, but I would be curious to hear about other’s experiences anyway. Blessings to you.

  7. So beautiful, and so meaningful. A treasured piece of history! Children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren will talk about this piece ( and you) for generations. Congratulations on such a beautiful finish.

  8. I LOVE THIS! I have wanted to stitch these but put it off because of the reasons you stated. I think I have to do it now because yours is so wonderful. Now, to accumulate the charts.

  9. This piece is gorgeous and with will definitely be an heirloom. I love how you made it so personal and will include this post on the back of the frame so anyone in the future can understand all that you put into it.

  10. So very special connecting so much family history in your piece! Makes creating so much more fun when we have a reason to stitch!! Congrats on your beautiful finish, Jo!!

  11. This “plan” was a dozzie. Each block got better and better, or so it seemed. I so enjoyed the close up photos and the explanation of what to look for. You go girl!

  12. What a work of art! You must be so happy with the end results. Thank you for sharing your process in this detailed post. I loved hearing all your thoughts that went into making this beautiful piece. Enjoy!

  13. This is a gorgeous cross stitch piece and the history and beauty of it will last for many years to come. Congratulations on the major finish!

  14. What a beautiful piece! I would love to make something similar for my family, and will take a look at the sites you have recommended. I’ve done as high as 25-count linen, over 2 threads, but not a 40-count. When using the 40-count linen, did you stitch over one thread or two? How many threads of embroidery floss?
    Sorry for all the questions, but I’m trying to visualize it.

  15. I hope you consider printing that entire post and maybe keeping it in a pocket on the back once the piece is framed. It’s reall lovely and so much more so because of all the meaningful, personal touches.

  16. Nikki DeRamus Moshier

    Wow, what a wonderful treasure. Great finish….now I am off to check out For the Birds. (and I am not a cross sticher….but who knows?) Keep flying, Jo!

  17. A beautiful treasure — can’t wait to see it in it’s frame and placed on your wall. I think “ditto” to all the other comments!!

  18. Pingback: FFO: Anniversaries of the Heart | Jo's Country Junction

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