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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell to 2013

It's almost midnight, and time for the ceremonial dumping of the ort jar.

Times Square may have a Waterford crystal ball, but I have beautiful threads (and a bent thumb tack) cascading into the waste paper basket at midnight.

As a needleworker, I'm much happier to be here, with embroidery in hand, than out with the madding (and maddening) crowds.

Happy New Year to everyone--and a brand new year of projects old and new!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If at first . . .

I finally got a relatively un-fuzzy picture of Eve in the Garden:

This has been a very soothing piece to stitch, simply working tent stitch according to the chart. I love the shading used and will be using these colors again.

Today we decided to go see the latest installment in The Hobbit movie series. I am still of the opinion that Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, is the best reason to see the movies. Other than his performance, I think the movies are overly long and overly fond of using orcs at every possible moment. I loved what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings, but The Hobbit, not so much. I felt the same with the way George Lucas handled Star Wars. My geek comments for the day . . .then there was a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up oysters for a very late lunch of oyster stew . . .and now we're back home and fed. Dinner may be late.  Or it may be cheese and crackers and fruit.

I had thought about taking the Christmas tree down today, but I feel like this poor tree hasn't had enough time to be appreciated, so it's staying up for at least another day. I know I'll have to work late tomorrow, so it may be New Year's Eve before we pack this Christmas away. Mother used to say Christmas comes if you're ready or not, and this is one of those years when I didn't feel like I was ready. My Christmas mojo never appeared. I never felt like it had time to appear.

That, however, is going to change in 2014. One of my online friends and I were chatting about some of the gorgeous trees we've seen on blogs this year, amply adorned with handmade ornaments. We both have stitched ornaments, but nothing like some of the trees we've seen this year.  Well, said she, if we both stitched--and finished--at least one ornament a month, that would add at least a dozen to our own displays.  Is this, said I, a challenge?  And then she triple-dog-dared me. (If you watch "A Christmas Story" every year, you know why this is such a challenge.) So I am adding a finished Christmas ornament, at least one a month, to The Overly Ambitious List.

I have lost my mind.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Coloring inside the lines

For the last couple of days, I've been filling in the colors in the cartouche in Tricia Nguyen's Eve in the Garden of Eden.

I'd show you a picture, but for some reason, every one I took has been blurry. I'm giving up for tonight.

But it's going really well, and I love the colors. I'm definitely using some of them when I start the panels for my casket.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ann Lawle from Scarlet Letter

I stitched in the framework for Ann Lawle's first band last night:

This is going to be my Scarlet Letter sampler for 2014. If I stitch a band a month, I'll have the sampler finished by the end of the year. I say that now. Some of the bands have more going on than entire projects I've worked in the past. Even more than projects I have going on now!

This band is worked in cutwork. The original had birds which are upside down to the rest of the sampler. That has always bothered me until I decided to stitch them right side up--after all, my house is not historically accurate to the 17th century, nor are the materials I'm using to stitch this sampler.

I did realize as I was nearing the end of the framework that the proportions of the design, according to the written directions, are different from the way the model for the reproduction is photographed. I also realized that the way the cutwork is charted won't fit the way the directions indicate that it should. I heaved a sigh, then decided I could make it work and, even better, could make it work without ripping out what I'd already done. As far as I'm concerned, that's a win-win situation. However, you won't see the solution until the very end. I don't like to cut threads until I've finished the rest of a sampler simply because it makes the linen wobbly. My stitches look better if my linen is taut, so I wait to do cutwork until the end.

Today, though, I'm in the mood for color, so I'm going to work on filling in some of the sections in Eve in the Garden of Eden. It's my last day of vacation . . . sigh . . .after the week-end, it's back to work. No more playing in the stash until all hours . . .but since working pays for my habit, I am thrilled to have a job!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Overly Ambitious List

Since we had had our Christmas get-together on Sunday, and Dearly Beloved had to work, I had Christmas Day to myself.

And what, I said to myself, would make this a perfect Christmas if I can't have family around? (Keep in mind that I spent about an hour on the phone with the Big Kid and The Flash on Christmas Eve--The Flash kept popping out of bed to announce that he needed a snack or a glass of milk--then spent probably longer than that with Baby Girl on Christmas Day.) Well, for a needleworker, the Perfect Christmas is spent with needlework and music and Christmas movies on DVD.

I think I mentioned several days ago that I had an overly ambitious list of projects I want to stitch in 2014. So yesterday I went stash diving to make sure I had all the parts and bits for some of the things on the list together.

And it includes:

This is the beginning of the framework for a canvas piece call "Journey," which was a cyberworkshop taught by David McCaskill for ANG a couple of years ago. At the time, I was not feeling the love for canvas. I had stitched the center medallion and put it aside. When we had one of our "water events" last month, it floated to the surface. Last night, I started working on the rest of the framework for the design and enjoyed it quite a bit. So it's in the rotation.

Ann Lawle will be my 2014 entry in Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year. I think I'm going to spend this afternoon setting up the outline for the cutwork section at the top. Once it's started, I can move into the polychrome bands below. I've found it better to wait to cut threads until the majority of a sampler is embroidered.

Lovely Hannah Thornbush, started as one of Essamplaire's online classes but now available as a kit (don't say I never enabled anyone!). I do love this sampler and can't remember why it was pushed aside, but this may be its year to see a completion. I think I'm about a third of the way along.

If I manage to finish Hannah in a timely manner, I'll go back to Examplarery's Mary Atwood, which is about halfway to the finish line.

I have three online classes which have either just started or are starting, and I want to at least get them framed up and ready to go before I head back to work on Monday. From the left:

A Knot Garden by Catherine Jordan, ANG Cyberclass
Jacobean Splendour's kit from the cyberclass currently taught by Alison Cole
Child's Play, by Jane-Ellen Balzuweit for Shining Needle Society

Two different sets of smalls from Jackie du Plessis. I had originally planned to put only the Fair Maiden's Work Bag on the list, but then the carrier and accessories for the Pocket for Posies needle case arrived and that was it, no question at all.

My resolution on smalls this year is that it can't go in the finishing basket when the embroidery is done. It has to be finished. Period. Hopefully, although it isn't formally on the Overly Ambitious List, finishing will also be accomplished this year.  Again, if I'm very efficient in my needlework this year, I will add Betsy Morgan's Toy Chest and Ellen Chester's Lady's Work Box to the list.

The barest bones' beginning of Eve in the Garden of Eden from Tricia Nguyen. I also need to add the small designs from the first Cabinet of Curiosities kit to the list, but I'm going to work on this first.

Morning Has Broken has not dropped off the face of the earth, it's going on next year's list as well.

All the strawberries are stitched in, but I still haven't pressed out that big crease in the middle.

Originally, after I managed to get all the outline for the border finished over Thanksgiving, I had visions of working all the strawberries and flowers and birds and bees in the outer edge before Christmas. Then I was going to embroider the middle during my week off from work. Best laid plans . . .between going to Williamsburg and taking three classes, decking the halls, baking and cleaning and doing all that other holiday prep along with working some long days, I didn't get much needlework done.  OK, said I, I will get that border embellished while on vacation, then work on the center after the New Year.

Well, that didn't happen either. I had Issues with Spiral Trellis. I occasionally do have issues with Spiral Trellis, but normally, if I am alone and can get my rhythm going, I can do a creditable stitch. For some reason, I could not get my tension right and had some kind of loopy, loose, ridiculous looking blob instead of a nice, neat Spiral Trellis.

Baby Girl suggested that perhaps the fact I started this part of the design at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve could have had an effect.

She is probably right, but I think I was looking for an excuse to go stash-diving.

Anyway, these are the projects that have taken up residence in the stitching basket, which has returned downstairs. I'm not saying I will be able to avoid temptation or be led astray by other pretty faces, but this is what I'm starting the New Year off with.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

A little more Christmas . . .

Just when I thought my Christmas was pretty much over, this arrived!

Oh, such pretty colors . . .

Last spring the Swan Sampler Guild offered a class with Jackie du Plessis. While you had to be present to take the class, they also made another class piece available for "away-Swans".  I ordered the Pretty Posey etui at the time, but Jackie also made a set of accessories available to go with it. If you were very lucky and quick to respond, she had a limited number of carriers available. I was lucky and (as I pretty much always am when Jackie's projects are available) I was quick to respond.

And today, everything arrived, beautifully packaged as always.

My ambitious list of projects to work in 2014 just became more ambitious.

And I am almost giddy with anticipation!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strawberries in December

The only way to get local strawberries in December in this hemisphere is to stitch them.  So I did.

I had really hoped to get farther along with Morning Has Broken by now, but I've been getting ready for Christmas instead of stitching. Actually, we had our family get-together this week-end. Baby Girl arrived Friday night, and cooking and baking ensued. Then The Saint brought Mother up today and we feasted and exchanged gifts and then packed everyone up and sent them on their way home. After that, I fell over in the wing chair and have been staring into space ever since.

As I've been staring into space, thoughts of needlework have been dancing in my head. I've been trying to decide whether or not I want to work only on Morning until it's finished, or if I want to rotate among several projects in the new year. I have an ambitious list of projects I'd like to complete in the coming year. I always have an ambitious list of projects I'd like to complete in the coming year, which usually derails about the second week of January.  Much like the days when I made resolutions--I don't do that any longer. But I do still make lists.

And, since I have an entire week of vacation in which to play with my projects, and since we have had our family get-together so Christmas itself will be quiet (and since we have enough left-overs from today's feast to carry us for several days), I have nothing to keep me from spending the next seven days with a needle in my hand.

I just have to decide what project or projects to stick that needle into.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All the Leaves are Green . . .

(apologies to the Mamas and the Papas)

All the leaves on Morning Has Broken are now filled in:

 Wonder what has caused those big creases in the middle . . .there may be some judicious pressing in the near future.

I've been under the weather a bit lately, and that's the reason for the down time for the blog. Not much to talk about when you spend the week-end wrapped in a blanket being generally grumpy. I have been lucky in one way, though . . .I was supposed to have lunch with a dear friend, followed by a stroll through one of the local malls, admiring everything and buying just about nothing. However, Friday evening as I was pondering whether or not I could heave myself up and out of the wing chair without heaving otherwise, she called. Her baby boy arrived home from his first semester at college, bringing her all his dirty laundry (she's planning to burn his sheets) and a virus.  To be as delicate as possible, she had been spending a good deal of time closely inspecting one of the fixtures in her bathroom.  As we were both unwell, we did not do the mall stroll this year.

However, Dearly Beloved and I finally made it through Tree Trauma II (half the string of lights burned out--right in the middle of the tree--as soon as it was draped around the tree, meaning that the lights had to be redone--luckily before the ornaments went on). Dearly Beloved was not happy, but he was not about to argue with a crabby woman wrapped in a blanket and feeling unwell.

And the halls are decked. Most of the presents are purchased, but not wrapped. I start the baking tomorrow. Baby Girl is arriving Friday night for our early Christmas, to be held over the week-end, with Mother and The Saint arriving for dinner and presents on Sunday. Then I have a glorious week at home to sit by the tree and stitch. And stitch. And stitch. And sleep late. And watch old movies. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to that!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leafing out

I came back home with many, many things to stitch, but before I play with those projects, I want to finish this one:

I've started filling in the leaves on Morning Has Broken. Being the boring and methodical stitcher I am, it's very likely I'll continue filling in the leaves.

I had planned to work on that Christmas ornament, the one in the series I was working on while we were in Williamsburg, the one that I didn't have enough green Kreinik to finish. I still don't. I have that color, but in the wrong size. I think this is a sign. I think I need to set this aside for awhile.

I do plan to set up an assembly line on Saturday for the six I've stitched so they can go on the Christmas tree this year.

And that brings up the Christmas tree . . .

We drove home from Williamsburg on Monday. We didn't have to deal with snow or ice. We did have to deal with torrential rain. Lots of torrential rain. Gallons of torrential rain. On more than one occasion, Dearly Beloved was driving based on the taillights of the truck ahead of us since the visibility was so bad. We figured if the truck suddenly vanished, we should stop because it would mean it had driven off the road and into a swamp or something.

Anyway, our plan to get home in late afternoon and go to the tree lot to pick out this year's tree was eliminated. It took us a little over eight hours to do what usually takes a little over six, so by the time we got home, I needed to do some laundry while Dearly Beloved unloaded the car and went to pick up take-out for dinner. Actually I was surprised he was willing to get back in the car, even for food.

So we went last night after I got home from work. We found one that fits our corner and that has a nice shape.

Hence commenced the Tree Trauma.

We have a wonderful tree stand with a large water reservoir. Allegedly it is easy to use--you just put the tree in the center and screw four big screws up against the tree trunk. However, someone needs to hold the tree while someone else screws in the screws.

I was elected to hold the tree. Apparently I am not a competent tree holder since the tree seems to be crooked. I could mention that someone screwed the screws in farther on one side than the other, but I have learned when to poke a Grumpy Bear and when to let things go. This was one of those times when one doesn't poke the Grumpy Bear. At least we have it tilted toward the corner and not out into the room so when it falls over, it won't hit the floor.

After that, it seemed to be wise to not even mention dragging out the boxes of ornaments and the lights, especially not the lights.

So the house has a wonderful aroma and it looks like a Fraser Fir just grew up out of the floor.

With the water damage in this side of the room, it wouldn't surprise me if a tree did grow out of the floor.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's over for another year . . .

Christmas in Williamsburg is over for another year.

It really seemed to zoom by this year. I know the teachers probably don't feel this way--they've been working hard--but it feels like there should be at least another day or two.

I still don't have any embroidery to show. I spent the day taking notes again.  Then I came back to the room, decided to work on the ornament I brought with me, thinking I could come close to finishing it tonight . . . only to find I didn't have enough of the green Kreinik braid to finish one of the motifs.

I think there is some of the same color and same size left over from one of the other ornaments. I'll find that out when I'm back at home.  I can always go stash diving. With years of Christmas stitching behind me, I'm sure to find something that can be used.

Anyway, in the morning we'll brave the weather and the interstate and head back to reality.

I'd rather stay in the 18th century with a needle in my hand.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Millions of stitches . . .

that I want to stitch . . .and this is what I have to show for two days of class:

I also have a small flower stitched on another piece of fabric, but I can't lay my hands on it at the moment.

This always happens when I go to a workshop. I never get much stitched in class because I'm usually too busy taking notes and listening to the teacher.  There are people who can both stitch and listen, but I usually want to write things down and I've yet to figure out how to write and stitch simultaneously.

There are also people who go back to their rooms and stitch after class. Dearly Beloved seems to think that, since he has had to entertain himself all day, I should go gallivanting with him. And we should go out to dine. I suppose that's only fair.

As usual, though, I've been so inspired by what I've seen and heard that my stitching mojo is on high. Despite the fact that we don't yet have a Christmas tree or the wreath on the door and we haven't done any Christmas shopping, I plan to plop myself down every evening for at least two hours during the season and ply my needle.

After all, Christmas is going to arrive on December 25th whether I am ready or not.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Early Bird Class (and some wretched excess)

Lovely Early Bird Class with Jackie du Plessis--a needleroll that will accompany tomorrow's Fair Maiden Etui.

And there are some extra goodies that go with the set:

Ok, I will admit that I really love prissy, pretty things. I tend to be very tailored and professional in attire in reality, but in my fantasy life I'm lounging on a chaise wearing ruffles and lace, sipping a mint julep, and drawling.

(If I ever tried that in reality, I'd sew one of the ruffles to the back of my needlework and spill the mint julep into my project bag. I'd still drawl, but that's due to living here all my life.)

Anyway this whole thing just jumps up and down and yoo-hoos at that prissy person, so I'm very happy.

Then there was shopping in the boutique, which was open only to seminar attendees this afternoon.

This is the wretched excess part of the title:


These are the best pix I can get, considering dim hotel lighting and even dimmer, grayer skies outside. I was originally sort of sorry I had signed up for two classes since it means my schedule is too tight to go play in Williamsburg, but the weather is so dismal I think I'll be happier playing in silks and linens.

I do not believe I need to visit the boutique again. I believe I will probably do it anyway.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas in Williamsburg

We're heeeeeeeere . . .

It's time for our annual trek to Williamsburg so I can attend classes offered through Christmas in Williamsburg. The events start tomorrow. I look forward to this all year and it flies by so fast, but at least I know I have the next four days to stitch my fingers to the bone.

I did bring something to work on in the room tonight before classes start tomorrow. It's the next to last ornament in the series I worked on during November.

And here you see the center, which is all that's going to happen tonight. We got up at five and walked out of the house at six and landed on the Jamestown side of the ferry ride at noon and have been walking and shopping and eating and touring ever since. Since I suffered from little-kid-on-the-night-before-Christmas syndrome last night (kept waking up to see if it was morning yet), I am about to go facedown on the keyboard.

I'd rather go facedown on the bed.  So I am.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bordering on Insanity

I said I wanted to get the leaf-and-vine border for Catherine Theron's Morning Has Broken stitched while I had a four-day week-end.

And I did.

Much to my surprise, I managed to get the long-arm cross and saw tooth borders stitched in as well. By the way, the vine-and-leaf is not plain ole cross stitch--it's actually made up of Smyrna crosses.

Now I get to do the fun stuff in the middle!

However, for what's left of today, I'm going to deck some halls and fa-la-la.

I will say, I don't like it when Thanksgiving is this late--there's simply no time to enjoy the season when you have so few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't care if the malls and other public areas had Christmas decorations up before Halloween candy was off the shelves--we have a policy of decorating only after the Thanksgiving feast is digested.