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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I've been liebstered

Sweet Tamara ( has given me a Liebster award.

As I understand it, this is a German word which means Beloved or Favorite, and it is awarded to newbie bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  To accept it, you must name another five bloggers to win the award and list five random things about yourself.

I am having difficulty finding five new bloggers who haven't already been awarded, so that list is going to have to wait until I do a little more blog surfing.  However, I can be as random as anyone is able to be, so here are my five random factoids:

  1. I love sushi and, despite being a total klutz, I am reasonably adept with chopsticks. (Are those two facts or parts of the same one?)
  2. I collect odd bits of rose-patterned china. I love roses. (Again, two facts or parts of the same one?)
  3. I want to have a cottage garden, even if I have to do it in pots.
  4. I'm a history geek. (like that was a surprise)
  5. I like to read murder mysteries and police procedurals--lately I've read my way through John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stitching the Day Away

Aside from reading the Sunday newspaper, I have stitched all day long.

And this is what I working on:

This the top of "Time Well Spent" from Sampler Cove. Our EGA chapter has been using it as a long-term project, with smaller projects in between sessions on this one.  I have obviously changed the colors, and haven't yet figured out what personalization I want in the open space that band near the top.  My entire family's initials don't quite fit.

This is the part I worked on today:

This band is worked in a combination of long arm cross and diagonal cross.  Since I am leading the group on the sampler, I tried to figure out a handy-dandy guide to switching from one stitch to the other. I wore through the graph paper with the eraser.

The fact is that 17th century embroiderers did their best to make some stitches reversible, and to do that, they stitched in all different directions and used traveling stitches to get the needle where they wanted it so there are multiple thicknesses of thread on the surface of the work.  I turned and twisted the scroll bars in umpty-leven directions, sideways, upside down, and right side up.  Once I decided to go with the flow, the headache that figuring out the "correct" passageway was giving me disappeared.

There are times when it is absolutely preferable, desirable, and necessary to have all one's stitches marching in the same direction  If you do a piece all in cross stitch or tent stitch, the direction of the stitches affects the way the light is reflected, particularly on solidly stitched designs.  However, these 17th century stitches have so much texture, with so much else going on, quite frankly, it's hard to see directional changes without magnification.

So, I'm letting the stitches tell me what they need to do. After all, if it really bothered me to have directionally challenged stitches, I could always substitute plain cross stitch. The lovely thing about doing it yourself is that you can do it to your desires.

On other fronts:  I spent the latter part of last week after completing the Obligation Stitching organizing projects, threads, and instructions.  I sort of straightened up my stitching nest, keeping in mind that creative clutter is preferable to idle neatness.  As I was doing all this, I decided to start a list of the projects that I want to do right now.

There were 37 projects on the right now list.

Something's gotta give.

Now granted, a lot of these are smalls, and a lot of the smalls require finish-finishing.  There are a few large samplers and canvaswork pieces that need only a couple of weeks of concentrated stitching and they can go the framer. However, these are all pieces that I want to do right now.

Since the first of the year, other than working a couple of weeks on Mary Atwood and spending a week at Jeannine's, I've worked on pilots, and I've accomplished a lot. But I think it's time for me to savor the stitches instead of working to deadlines, so I am retiring for awhile from pilot stitching.  I will miss getting to see things early--that's always fun--I'll miss working with the designers I've stitched for--but the friendships will still continue--and I'm sure the Stitcher's ADD will become worse than it already is--but that's a given. Meanwhile, I have this list of 37 projects I want to get to.

Right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

I am DONE with the Obligation Stitching!!!

There are still things which must be done.  I need to read over the directions again for typos and to check myself.  I need to take the piece off the frame, and put the leftover threads into the stash, and send the corrections off.

Meanwhile, I can't decide what to jump into next.  I have a bunch of online classes going, I have a bunch of workshop pieces from classes at Winterthur and Christmas in Williamsburg and Jeannine's, and I have bunches and bunches of projects waving their little hands from the stash.  Mary Atwood and Martha Edlin, in particular, are jumping up and down and all around.

I had sort of thought about organizing myself.  I had thought I might devote Monday and Tuesday evenings to class-and-workshop pieces, Wednesday to guild projects (since sampler guild and ANG and EGA all meet on Wednesdays around here, it sort of makes sense) and Thursday and Friday to samplers, then let myself run wild on the week-ends--but that seems like too much organization for a person with terminal Stitcher's ADD.  Let's face it, I get halfway through a piece and, ooh, shiny, and I'm off in another direction.

I may just make a list of things I want to do and work my way down it for awhile, a bit here and a bit there. More than ever, I've realized that I am a process person as opposed to a product person--it's the stitching I like, not necessarily having a completed project to display.

So, I'm sitting in the wing chair, spreading stuff around and trying to decide what to play with first.  This is just TOO much fun!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Random thoughts

Not much stitching to see here--still working on the Obligation Stitching which cannot be shown.  I took some time off from it this week since Baby Girl spent part of her vacation with us--and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.  She is such good company, especially since we have a lot of shared interests.  Even better, we really like each other.  And it gave me the break I needed to get enthusiastic about working on this particular project again.

So, this is a sort of random post.  More so than usual.

First random thought.

While I can't show any needlework and haven't done as much as I should, I have been dreaming about textiles.  Literally.  This night before I cut threads on the Obligation Stitching, I dreamed about doing it all night, almost to the point that I was surprised to see that it hadn't been done when I came downstairs the next morning.

Then a couple of nights later, I dreamed about making a quilt. In the dream, I had to totally remake a quilt I had just finished because somehow it had been cut or sliced or something and had to be remade.  And I wasn't sure if I was going to have enough fabric.  It was almost nightmarish.

I don't quilt.

I like quilts.

I love fabrics.


it's too much like practical sewing which we know is not one of my strengths AND I do not need another passion even if I did eventually overcome the practical sewing problems.  Have no idea where that dream came from.

Then, last night, I dreamed I was on some sort of Arctic expedition and I needed to knit socks for a large group of people.  With a bulky, mohair-like yarn.  And it kept shredding as I tried to cast on the stitches. No idea where that one came from either.

Second random thought:

Today, I'm trying to deal with Daylight Savings Time.  I do not like it. I don't like losing an hour from my week-end.  I don't like the fact that it will be pitch dark again in the mornings when I have to get up.  I don't like the Jet Lag feeling I will have for the next week or so while my body gets used to the change.

I also think it's very interesting that research has told us that the incidence of heart attacks rises about 10% in the week after DST is implemented and that there are no significant energy savings.

Yes, I know it stays lighter later.  Try putting a preschooler to bed at a reasonable hour when it's still light out and tell me how well that goes over. And, in this part of the country, it doesn't start to cool off in  the summer until way after dark, making outside activities quite unpleasant in the late afternoon.  When we have very mild winters, as we have had this year, we tend to have very hot summers afterwards.  So, to get in my walk for heart health, I have to get up that much earlier in the summer to have time to walk and shower before work. I do not like getting up early. Any time. And it will still be dark.

Third random thought:

To the political candidate whose auto-call awakened me at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, you have lost my vote.  I wasn't particularly impressed with you anyway but I was willing to look at your credentials. However, being startled awake by the ring of the phone, followed by hearing an incredibly venomous message, ended that.

And that's it for random thoughts for today.  I am threading up a needle and stitching the rest of the day.  The sooner I get through with this project, the sooner I can get back to working on things I can show.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Running with Scissors

The Obligation Stitching and its threads and its linen and I sat down and had a little talk, since I need to cut and withdraw threads from the linen and then do things with them with the silk.  After the Evil Thread Conspiracy I wanted to make sure we were all ready to cooperate on what will be a major focal point of the design.

And apparently it's working.  Not a single thread has been miscut--and believe me, I know how to repair miscut threads.  Not a single silken thread has tangled.  I haven't even pulled the needle off the silk, which I tend to do on a regular basis.

I was hoping, really hoping, that I would be able to finish up this week-end, but this section is taking much longer than I had hoped.  I can't figure out if I'm getting slower as I get older or if the projects I'm doing now are that much more complicated--or all of the above--but it does seem to take me waaaaaaaaaaaaay more time to work through projects than it once did.

So, back to work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Evil Thread Conspiracy

There are times when I think my needlework is conspiring against me.

Today was one of those days.

A little background: if I'm working on a project with a relatively limited thread and/or color palette, I usually thread up a needle with each thread and/or color I'm going to use and stick it in the pincushion next to the wing chair. As soon as I finish using that color, I can stick the still-threaded needle back in the pincushion until I need it again.  Also, if I am working on a design element in a project and it has the same motif throughout the element, I usually work all of the same color through the motifs--after all, I have the stitch count and position in my head and it just seems more efficient.

Today I was working on a design element in the Obligation Stitching that has five identical motifs. Each motif used four colors, plus a fifth color used to sew a couple of beads to each motif.  No two colors had the same number of stitches in the motif.

So, I started with the first color. I had enough thread in the needle to work that color through four of the five motifs when I ran out.  I didn't think much about it, just threaded the needle again and worked the fifth motif.

Then I picked up the second color.  I had enough thread in the needle to work that color through four of the five motifs when I ran out. Again.  And this one did not have the same number of stitches as the first color did, but I had used the second color elsewhere before.  I sort of muttered, "Good grief," and threaded the needle again.

Then I picked up the third color. I had enough thread to work that color through four of the five motifs---do you see where this is going?  This time I said a slightly more emphatic word and threaded the needle with the third color.  Dearly Beloved looked up with a somewhat quizzical look on his face and I explained what had happened.  He chuckled and went back to his book.

Then I picked up the fourth color.

I do not need to tell you what happened.  This time I let a rude and crude Anglo-Saxon word fly. (These are called "technical terms" and are sometimes required while embroidering.)  Dearly Beloved started laughing. A lot. I threaded the needle.  Again. And worked the fifth motif.

All I had to do now was stitch two small beads on each motif with the fifth color.  With gritted teeth, I picked up the fifth threaded needle and got the beads on the bead pad, and started.

It happened again. Unbelievable.  I mean, REALLY unbelievable. This time I just looked up from my frame. Dearly Beloved choked, snorted, and ran from the room.  I could still hear the guffaws from behind the closed door.

My only explanation is that I am being punished for taking the day off yesterday.  Or there is an evil thread conspiracy.  Or both.

(P.S. Mary Agnes, I finished the rest of the laundry today. With my threads conspiring against me, it seemed safer.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Day Off

I needed a day off from Obligation Stitching.

So I took one.

Actually, I took a day off from stitching.

Sometimes I need to do that.  It helps to remember that there are things to do other than embroider the hours away.  So, I played online for hours, reading a couple of new-to-me blogs and looking at all the Nashville releases.  I finished the book I've been reading. I did almost all the laundry.  There has been a small amount of housecleaning done, enough to keep the Health Department at bay. I talked to Baby Girl for awhile.

Since I'm starting to twitch a little, I think I may pick up a needle.  So this may not entirely be a day off from stitching.

Friday, March 2, 2012

words, words, words

I came home today to find a catalog which I enjoy in my mailbox.  It has fabrics and laces and very pretty things.

And, as I glanced through it, I noticed that it is dedicated to providing heirloom sewing supplies to sewists.


I guess it's better than the word I have most recently seen for people who like to sew.


Somehow that doesn't bring up images of lovely work wrought with needle and thread.  It brings up images of dark, smelly, unpleasant places.  With rats.

What happened to seamstresses?

OK, OK, I know.  Charter subscriber to Ms Magazine here. Language needed to reflect a non-gender-based society, etc, etc, etc.

However, in my naivete, I also thought that, in addition to equal pay and equal opportunity, we would also respect those endeavors that had been previously pretty much restricted to one sex or the other.  This included child care providers and  . . .well . . .seamstresses.

Baby Girl, who majored in Linguistics,  periodically chides me (another word that seems to be vanishing--chides--sounds so much better than criticizes--much gentler--anyway . . .) and reminds me that language is ever evolving and ever changing. We don't speak Chaucerian English or Shakespearean English or even Dickensian English.  The rules of grammar and spelling drummed into me by Mrs. Luther, Mrs. Finlay, Miss Jones, Mrs. Lide, and Mrs. Garner all through elementary school are changing. I do cringe when I hear someone say "between you and I" but I deal with it.


on those rare occasions when I do practical sewing and it works the way I envisioned it, I want to be called a seamstress, not a sewist.

Or a sewer.

(And on the impractical embroidery side, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel called Obligation Stitching.  By this time next week, I should be embroidering my non-obligation stuff!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just slightly discombobulated

This very weird winter has me discombobulated. It is March 1--and today, where I live, the temps almost hit 80.

I am no crazier about frigid cold weather than I am about broiling heat, but I do like seasons, and this one hasn't really happened yet.  Sure, we've had a few cold days scattered here and there, but no really sustained cold spells.  In this part of the country, we need them to kill next summer's mosquito population!

And I like snuggling under my afghan in the wing chair with needlework at hand, working away on samplers and such, keeping the chill away.  As warm as it's been, I feel as though I should be out doing something else in the great outdoors.  Or spring cleaning.

Winter could still happen.  Sometimes our winter hits in March.  When I was a child, it snowed on three successive Wednesdays in March. In the Carolinas. Where we don't see snow very often.

Adding insult to injury, the plants are starting to bud and pollinate, which means my springtime allergies are starting up. I was supposed to go to an EGA chapter stitch-in last night, but I had such a fierce sinus headache I came home from work, took a pill, and went to sleep sitting upright with the scroll frame in my lap.

Discombobulated and out of kilter. . .

No needlework to show tonight.  I'm still working on the Obligation Stitching--but I am almost ready to work on a major design element. After that, it's all downhill to completion!