Cross-stitched and bewitched
Little, who loves all things Halloween and has been crafting counted cross-stitch pictures for over two decades, spent the past 10 months on her latest creation: a 23½-by-17½-inch portrait of a glamorous, red-headed witch with eerily long fingernails, hypnotic grey eyes and a roaming pet mouse.
Her efforts yielded magical results: Little's cross-stitched witch took home the 'best in show' awards at not one, but seven Granite State fairs this fall.
The best in show award is typically given to the top-ranking crafts project, selected from the top winners in each division of handicrafts at each respective fair.
In late July, Little's witch took home the best in show award at the Stratham Fair.
The following month, Little's witch cast its spell on judges at the Belknap and Cornish fairs, then she spirited off with more best in show awards in September at the Lancaster, Hillsborough County, Rochester and Deerfield fairs.
Little also took home the 'best in fall' and 'Ben Franklin' awards at the Rochester Fair.
And while the judges at last weekend's Sandwich Fair weren't quite as enchanted with Little's witch, she did earn a blue ribbon for her works, if not the best in show.
'I can't be too greedy, and there's always next year,' Little said with a laugh. 'Taking home eight best in shows will definitely be on my bucket list, though.'
A longtime Londonderry resident, Little's passion for stitchery began 22 years ago, when she decided on a whim to try cross-stitching a small 'ABC' sampler for her infant niece.
'I figured if I started out small, I'd see the results right away,' she said. 'My niece learned her ABC's on that sampler, so I figured I'd try out another one.'
About 15 years ago, the mother of four and bartender at the Samuel Adams Brewery inside Manchester-Boston Regional Airport by night, began entering her works at area fairs.
She said she was drawn to the witch pattern because it brought back fond memories of when she used to portray a witch at a local haunted hayride.
A vintage frame, snagged from a local consignment shop, is her witch's crowning glory.
As Little is typically drawn toward larger projects, her creations tend to be pretty time consuming since she works mostly from computer-enlarged paper graphs.
She colors in each tiny, paper square by hand using colored pencils to help her make sure she never overlooks any color shadings or misses a stitch.
With this year's fair season now a fond memory, Little is already hard at work on next year's project: a Renaissance-style Sleeping Beauty for her 7-year-old granddaughter, Olivia.
'I tend to make things so I can give them away,' she said.