In my part of the world we say you are a fool if your passion for a pursuit overcomes all practical sense. I am a stitching fool, and I stitch foolishness.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Six Months and Two Days

From the time I sewed the linen for Mary Otter to the scroll bars until I took the last stitch, it has been six months and two days.

And now she is complete:

I have to admit. I have not been completely monogamous. I took off to Williamsburg twice for trysts with other projects. And, shameless hussy that I am,  I stitched Barbara Jackson's SNS Christmas ornament for 2017 and Tricia Nguyen's Jacobean Flower under the same roof as Mary Otter over my Christmas stay-cation.

Still, I have to admit that she took longer to stitch than I anticipated. There is a lot of over-one tent stitching, which adds to the level of delicacy and detail in the sampler. It has been worth it.

Most people who know me know that I tend to prefer 17th century band samplers. This is 19th century, which I dabble in but don't focus on. Let me introduce you to the little dude who started this whole thing.

When I saw this character on the original sampler, he caused my big mouth to open and say to the sampler's owner, "If you chart this, I'll stitch the model for you."

And now I have.

And now I have to figure out what to do with Life after Mary Otter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Flying Critters

There are about a bazillion flying critters flitting and fluttering around the sky around the big funky tree.

I was having a hard time getting the silly bugs in the right place. Every time I counted over from one motif to where I thought the next critter should be--then recounted to be sure I was in the right place--I came up in a different spot.

Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if the darker grid lines from the chart were somehow superimposed on the linen so it would be easier to find the right spot for the butterfly/dragonfly/flying critter.

Well, duh.

The lines you see are the loose basting lines I stitched in so I could get the bugs where they belonged.

And now they're all stitched, and I am going to start the very last motif on the sampler.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Buds and Flowers and Leaves

If you stay up until 2 a.m. one night, and spend a good chunk of the next day in the wing chair with needle in hand, you'll get all the leaves and flowers added to the last funky tree on Mary Otter.

I still have one green stripe to stitch across the bottom of the sampler, and a bunch of flying insects to add, and the final motif to work in.

I'm getting very, very, very close to a finish.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Up a Tree

We're back home, back to reality, and back to Mary Otter.

The last funky tree is on its way:

This one will have loads of leaves and buds blooming--just like spring is coming.

And, oh, how I wish it would! While we're not getting slammed like the Northeast, it's been a bit nippy and windy and not at all spring-like, even though flowers are starting to appear and the flowering trees have . . . well . . . flowered. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year the peaches don't get fooled and bloom too early.

However, this tree can bloom all it wants to--and it's going to start tonight.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Psychedelic Caterpillar

Alert:  For those who have come to this blog expecting information on some kind of mind-altering,  consciousness-expanding substance that is more than likely illegal if not downright dangerous, move along. This is about embroidery. All embroidery, all the time.

Today I stitched a caterpillar in 17th century style:

I hate to admit this, but this is the first thing I've stitched this week that I am absolutely and totally happy with.

The sad fact is that I just don't stitch well in class. I'm a slooooooooooow stitcher, and classes are not set up for the way I work. Today I decided I was going to take my time, let the world go on without me, and work at my own pace.

And now I have a rainbow caterpillar to call my own.

The class I'm taking is a notebook class, meaning that we work on small samples of stitches that are collected in a book to be used for reference. Chris Berry, who is teaching the class, set up books for each of us that even have our own names on the fronts. We have space to make notes and put the samples we're stitching, along with the instructional materials for each technique. And she is a very thorough teacher who takes time to check each student's work.

Despite her talent as a teacher, my samples are basically crappy.

I've decided that, once I am home and in my nest again, I'm going to restitch each one, taking my time and using the threads and linen I like to use for my 17th century projects. This is going to be a valuable resource as I work on my casket--I've already found the perfect stitch for a tree trunk, and have an idea for some clothing based on what we've been doing.

Meanwhile, Baby Girl came up for a few days and she and I went gallivanting yesterday. There is a wonderful exhibit at the DeWitt Wallace on printed fabrics from the 18th and early 19th centuries. We wandered along Duke of Gloucester Street. I went to a lecture on raised embroidery yesterday afternoon and to a display of exquisite embroidery brought by one of the people who is a member of our retreat group while Baby Girl continued to explore. Last night, despite the windstorm that nearly picked us up and blew us away, we went to an evening concert in the Historic District.

We have only one more day of class, and then it's back to reality.

I'm not ready for reality.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Back to Williamsburg

Dearly Beloved and I are in Williamsburg!

Actually, we arrived yesterday. We had lunch at our favorite restaurant, got checked in and unloaded the car, and I went to the stitching room for my first day at the retreat.

One of the high points is getting the special edition stitching accessory made for us by the extremely talented Rachael Kinnison. This year, she surpassed herself.

Threadwinder, pin keep, and scissors fob, all designs based on period motifs--my picture does not do the delicacy of her artwork justice, and you can't feel the silky finish of the wooden pieces.

We also had a divine reception, celebrating the five years we have met at the Lodge to celebrate friendship, needlework, and good food and drink!

And I've been trying to stitch.

In the stitching room yesterday, I discovered I can't count. It took me three times to get the left side of this heart to match where it was supposed to.

(There is an outline there, it just blends into the background. )

This is the beginning of Gay Ann Rogers' Vicntage Roses Heart, which literally arrived on the doorstep the day before we left. I have probably stitched at least two dozen hearts that Gay Ann designed over the years. I should be able to stitch in the outline with the needle between my teeth and blindfolded with both hands tied behind my back.

Not so much.

This disturbing trend continued today. We are very lucky to have a class on 17th century stitches with Chris Berry, and we started out with variations on buttonhole stitch today.

With one exception, I have stitched every single type of buttonhole we covered today. Numerous times. Very nicely, I might add.

I was fine this morning.

When we came back from our lunch break, it was a different story entirely.

I couldn't get my tension correct, my spacing in the right place, my turns and returns accomplished with anything better than a kindergartener's skill with a sewing card. It didn't help that I was sitting next to Rachael, across from Amy Mitten, and two seats down from Katherine Diuguid. I was surrounded by Greatness, and I was Not Worthy.

I cut out more than I left in this afternoon, and my last pitiful attempts will be cut out again in the morning.

However, my resolve is strong and I shall prevail! Maybe not in class, but when I get home in my stitching nest, with my feet up and all my stuff around me, I am going to do me some fine 17th century stitching!

You heard it here first.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Foliage and Funky Trees

It's been another one of those weeks. We are still training on the new system at work. While I'm comfortable with some aspects, there are other little bits and pieces that I think will make sense only once we're working in it full time.

Should I mention I leave the training sessions feeling like my brain is fried?

And that all this involves long, long hours?

(A little cheese with this whine would be appreciated.)

Anyway, I have been stitching away on Mary Otter when I finally get home.

We have the first funky tree and a vine:

We have planted flowers and other plants between the fence posts:

And we have the second funky tree:

This leaves the remainder of the stripes, the third funky tree, and the carriage and horses to stitch.

I'm going to work on the stripes tonight, but then Mary (and I) are going on vacation.

Mary is actually having a stay-cation. She travels with a lot of stuff, and the motifs that are left to do are very detailed. I have come to the conclusion that I would be much more accurate in stitching her if I'm in my own nest.

I, on the other hand, am leaving for Williamsburg at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning for my annual retreat with friends.  This year we're having a four-day class that starts on Wednesday, so I'm not going to have as much time in the stitching room as usual--not a problem, since I'm really looking forward to the class. I wish I could have gone for the whole 10-day retreat, but between the number of events I want to attend this year and the number of vacation days available, that won't happen.

At least, not this year.