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, June 30, 2015

Nibbled to Death by Ducks

That's how one of my great-aunts described the way she felt when life seemed to be one petty irritation after another.

I've been nibbled on for a couple of days.

So tonight I decided to ignore everything, live in the moment, and stitch.

All the framework on one piece of the needle roll is complete, and I'm almost through with the other.

And, yes, I am working in hand. I couldn't find stretcher bars that would work, and the only side bars long enough for a scroll frame in my possession are attached to something that has the sides laced. I don't want to roll the piece because I don't want to smoosh (technical term) the Gilt Silk Twist.

This is another of those petty irritations.

I think I'd like to run away to a tropical island with a cabana boy who brings me fruity drinks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reverse Stitching

I found the mistake on the needle roll.

Notice I did not say I was please to announce that I had found the error. Nope, I wasn't, but after careful consideration, I decided it would be better to rip back than to fudge compensate.

So this is where we are now:

And this is where we're likely to stay for the rest of the day. Dearly Beloved has a project in mind, and I'm afraid I'm part of the work force.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A slight detour

The plan for today was to put the back of the Fair Maiden Etui together and to attach it to the front-and-side assembly.

That was the plan.

It didn't happen that way.

After going to bed later than I planned, and getting up earlier than I wanted (if you don't get to the Farmers' Market early, you don't get the best stuff--much less a parking space), and not sleeping well in between, I decided that perhaps I should not be allowed around sharp needles and the big shears.

So, I'm working on the needle roll that accompanies Fair Maiden. It was the Early Bird class the year I took Fair Maiden in Williamsburg.

I stayed up too late last night because I was determined to get the broad chain stitch outlines around both pieces before I went to bed. And I did. I am off two threads. I discovered this as I worked the outlines for the places where the needles will rest. I am not ripping out. I am compensating. There are times to rip and times to compensate. There are also times to go to bed when one is bleary-eyed, as I should be old enough to know.

Anyway, I'm going to continue to work on this tonight for awhile longer.

And go to bed a little earlier.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Workin' on the Chain Gang

The broad chain around the threadwinder case is finished, and I've started working it on the needle roll that will accompany Fair Maiden.

I should have pressed the linen for the needle roll before I started stitching, but I had thread in the needle and figured that where I was starting didn't need pressing. Now that I've finished that needle full,  I can slap it on the ironing board and get the creases out before I go on.

I'm using Gilt Silk Twist for this section, just as I did for the outlines on Fair Maiden. And I've pulled out one of my hand made Japanese embroidery needles to use as I work this stitch with this thread. The eye of the needle is round so it's super easy to thread with GST, which can be uncooperative with a regular needle. And the needle is so smooth that there is no fraying in the thread from a potential burr in the needle eye.

These needles do require more care than typical needles. They can rust very easily, so I run this one through my emery strawberry after every use, and store it in its little air-tight bottle when I'm not stitching with it. I do have a special needle pad designed just for these needles, but I've found the bottle works even better. I have lost a needle in the needle pad, and they're not easy to find once they bury themselves deep within. It took an Earth magnet to get it out.

If you've never done broad chain stitch, there is a great diagram on Tricia Nguyen's website, where it's listed as reverse chain stitch in the stitch diagrams section. Once you do a chain stitch this way, you'll never go back to the way most of us learned--that sequence of lazy daisy stitches linked together that are always hard to keep uniform.

It's a good thing I love doing broad chain. There's a lot of it on this project. More than I realized until I reread the instructions from the class I took almost two years ago.

I really need to start finishing projects right after I take the class rather than allowing them to age in the stash for awhile. Or I need to take notes that will make sense two or more years after the fact--I've been trying to decipher something that sounds like a hidden message behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

And more flowers

Apparently I'm currently drawn to projects with flowers, because this evening I've stitched some more of them.

This bouquet will be on the front of the thread winder case, the "Christmas in Williamsburg" will be on the back. I need to continue stitching the chain stitch down the sides because the bottom of this strip of linen will create the lining for the case.

I believe I am going to work on the needle roll after this is stitched.  If I am very industrious, I could potentially use the long week-end of the Fourth to finish it. Assuming, that is, that I get the rest of the etui assembled this coming week-end.

Very industrious. Very.

Don't hold your breath.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cute little things

The executive decision was made that I need large blocks of time when I'm doing finish-finishing, so that means I won't be working on assembling any other parts of Fair Maiden until the week-end. In the meantime, I am working on the accessory pieces that go with Fair Maiden.

Jackie designed five or six smalls to fit in Fair Maiden. Last night, I started with the smallest one, a case for the scrimshaw thread winder.

I sort of went back and forth on the date. 2013 is charted and that's the year the class was taught. Obviously, it's 2015, and the year I'm stitching.  When Annie's Attic bought the magazines and the event from Hoffmann Media, they changed the name. Since 2013 was the last year the event was called Christmas in Williamsburg, I decided to keep it as 2013.

There are flowers that match the ones on the Etui to be stitched, and that's what I plan to do next.

By the way, several people asked about reversible cross stitches when I was working on Mary Attwood (and she needs to come out of her pillowcase soon). SNS just announced they are offering a class on that very thing, taught by Catherine Jordan. Catherine is a phenomenally creative teacher, and she has designed a set of coasters which teach reversible cross stitch.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is one of the rare classes I am not taking from SNS. I'm getting enough practice with reversible cross stitch on Mary Atwood. My brain might explode if I added another project involving that particular skill set at this point in time!  However, if this is something you'd like to dabble in--and you decorate for Halloween--you may want to look into it.

If you're not on the Shining Needle Society (SNS) mailing list, all you have to do is drop Kate Gaunt a line at She'll sign you right up. Please don't worry--your mailbox will not be filled with junk. You'll only receive notifications when classes are offered.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Engineering, Phase III

I've managed to get the lining stitched to the back of the front piece of the etui, and connected the side piece with its inner chamber to the front piece.

I'm glad I did the connecting part with daylight--it made it much easier to see those tiny stitches!

The next stage requires attaching the pocket to the back piece of the etui, then sewing the lining to the back piece, and then (I think) attaching the back piece to the side piece. Then I need to assemble the other side pieces and the drawer that slides into the other side of the etui and the lid, and I have to twist some cords and make some tassels and get all of those bits and pieces attached to this assembly.

The thought of all of this makes me want to lie down with a cold compress on my head.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Engineering, Phase II

Way back in March, I started working on the assembly of the Fair Maiden Etui.  I did OK at first, then had a major measuring malfunction, and then allowed myself to be distracted by other things that would also need assembly.

Today I said to myself that I really need to get some of these lovely things put together so I could actually enjoy them.

The pieces for Fair Maiden were still strewn about my finishing table, and I decided it was time to pull up my Granny panties and get something done.

So here is today's accomplishment:

I'm trying to figure out how to ease that ripple in the silk out a bit, and I am not even halfway through with the finishing, but I think I'm going to find something small and easy to do to stitch on for a bit.  And it's going to be something I don't have to put together!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Off the Social Merry-go-round

We are officially back to our normal rut.

In betwixt and between the running about this week, I have stolen every moment possible to work on Briar Rose. I am delighted to announce the embroidery is complete!

What I wish the pictures would show--and won't, since I'm taking them late in the evening with artificial light--is how much the center stitches set off the pattern. They make the whole design come alive.

Nope, even a close-up doesn't do the centers justice.

Oh, well.

For those who may be curious, we survived the social whirl.

The Baby Boomer Health seminar basically recapped everything that's been published in the last five years on keeping ones faculties into ones doddering old age:  30 minutes of exercise a day, avoiding white flour and white sugar and white rice, constantly looking for new things to learn, maintaining social relationships, eating a Mediterranean diet, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Then we segued into the infomercial, in which the presenters attempted to sell us a variety of "supplements" to "enhance" the gains made by doing all the things above. We did not succumb to the snake oil sales pitch.

Last night I went to ANG. It was good to see people again since I've missed the last two meetings. 

And tonight we had a very early dinner with former neighbors. It was a delicious meal. Unfortunately we were regaled with an organ recital, the term two of my great-aunts used to refer to public discussion of ones health and the condition of ones innards.  Dearly Beloved said he now knows more about the wife's personal situation than he does about mine, and we've been married for 38 years and 364 days.

And, yes, we celebrate our 39th anniversary tomorrow. At present, the plans consist of pizza and cake. After this week, an evening at home sounds delightful.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Social Butterflies

The blog may be going dark for a few days. We have a social engagement of one kind or another almost every night this week, so my stitching time will be limited.

This is not normal for us. Usually we go strolling merrily along in our rut. Occasionally we peek over the edge, see something we'd like to do, and clamber out. Then we plop back into the rut.

But this week is different.

Tomorrow night Dearly Beloved has us signed up for a Baby Boomer Health-and-Wellness seminar.
Wednesday I have an ANG meeting. Thursday night we have a dinner date with former neighbors who retired and moved to Florida--now they're moving back. Friday is our 39th anniversary. I have no idea what we're going to do to celebrate that. After this social whirl, we may just get a pizza delivered and call it a week.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Watching Paint Dry

I'm filling in petals. Many, many petals.

At least I'm halfway around. If I keep to the current pace, it takes about half an hour to fill in each flower, so I have about six hours of work left to do. Then the centers are stitched, and then I can lay this aside until the finishing directions are posted.

There were plans to do some finish-finishing this week-end, but Domestic Diva Duties have interfered. I really wish some brilliant person would invent an automatic dust rag. I'd be first in line to buy one.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Date Night

Dearly Beloved and I had a date night.

We went out to dinner early since Dearly Beloved doesn't like to deal with crowds. Then we went to Michael's for a new ruler and X-Acto Knife. Then we went to the grocery store to pick up the two things that we forgot to put on the list. And we were home before dark.

Pretty wild and crazy, huh.

I have worked the flower outlines almost all the way around Briar Rose.

I almost rejoiced in my progress until I realized that I now have to go back and fill in all those blank petals.

I keep telling myself progress is progress.

It isn't helping.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Progress Report

This is a drive-by post. Half the flowers are now outlined and I've started on the other half.

And I'm signing off before I'm distracted by the innerwebs and looking at what everyone else is stitching. The nose is to the grindstone and the needle is flying. Well, maybe not flying, but it's moving toward the goal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Powering Through

It occurred to me last night that I was no longer feeling the Zen from the repetitive motifs in Briar Rose.

I got to this point and decided I really, really, really needed to pick up another project to alternate--sort of a carrot and stick approach. If I do two flowers, I can then work an hour on something else, for example.

So I went looking for something to alternate with this--not that there is any lack of something to do around here, but I wanted something that would be a very strong carrot.

I thought of three different projects that I want to do sooner rather than later.

The first one needs to be sewn to scroll bars. None of my available scroll bars are long enough and I'm not about to take something already sewn to bars off--it's too much of a pain to sew the linen on to even consider that.

The second one I'd like to work on stretcher bars. I found the ones for the length, but guess what? The shorter ones I need, with the right notches in the right places, are involved in Briar Rose.  So that's not going to happen.

The third project was an online class. Because I rarely work on online classes while they're going on, I print out the lessons and put them in notebooks until such time as I'm ready to stitch.  The kit was already downstairs in the sooner-rather-than-later pile, and I remembered seeing the notebook on the online class notebook bookcase. So that's where I went.

I take a lot of online classes.

The bookcase is jammed.

In attempting to pull out the notebook I thought was the one I wanted, there was . . . for lack of a better description . . .an explosion--and another notebook crammed in the case erupted from the shelf.

And landed on my foot.

I now have a puffy foot with a cut across the top and a rather impressive, technicolor bruise forming.

And I've decided just to power through on the posies until they're all done.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

I really wish I had gone ahead and cut out the board and silk for the box that holds the drawer that I made in class with Betsy Morgan on Saturday. I just did the bits I needed for the drawer.

I had a goal. I wanted to get the drawer put together, and by golly, I did. At that point, class was pretty much over so I left and took a nap. Then I thought about how much I could have done that evening if I'd cut out everything else I would need to cut out.

Well, thought I, I'll just do it as soon as I get home again.  I knew it wouldn't happen yesterday. Baby Girl and I had decided to go home a slightly different way--we decided to detour by Williamsburg and have lunch and run by the printer's shop to see if they have patterned paper I could use for a couple of projects (they did---that will be seen at a later date).

This would have been absolutely brilliant if everyone on the east coast of Virginia had not decided to go to Busch Gardens Sunday morning. Seriously. It took over an hour to go less than forty miles on a major highway, yet as soon as we got to the exit for Busch Gardens, the traffic vanished in a puff of exhaust.

So we had lunch, then we headed back to her house, which again took longer than usual because of  road construction. Miles and miles of one lane open on the highway. Sigh . . .

This morning we both slept late, so I got a later start than I thought I might. But there was still the afternoon--I'm not going back to work until tomorrow so I had hours.

I also have the dullest X-Acto knife in the Carolinas, perhaps the entire Southeast, quite possibly the continental United States. I found this out very soon.

Then I found out that Dearly Beloved at some point had "borrowed" my long quilter's ruler and managed to get something dark and sticky on it. He scrubbed it off for me. He also scrubbed off some of the markings.

I have lost the will to go on with this project on this particular day. I think it may be safer to make a list of things I need, cut out the 40% coupon for Michael's, and stop there on my way home from work tomorrow.

So I'm going to do some more on Briar Rose. This is where it is at the moment:

I really need to get cracking on this--Jackie is offering a new class on Shining Needle and enrollment started today. And of course I have to sign up for it. Because I need another set of smalls and because I'm going to live to be 385 to get all this stitched and put together.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Drawers and other things

Baby Girl and I have arrived at Salty Yarns, and I have spent the day in class with Betsy Morgan.

And I have a drawer:

Eventually, it will fit into the case that makes up "Can't See the Forest for the Trees."

Picture this: The embroidery is finished. The drawer is assembled. All I now have to do is assemble the case that the drawer slides into and make a scissors fob. This is all incredibly do-able in the very near future. The very near future.

But not tonight. Tonight I am kicking back to work on Briar Rose a little more. I can only handle so much finish-finishing before my head explodes.

As I discovered before, a workshop at Salty Yarns is about as laid back and relaxed as it can be. I know that Sara, Mary, and Sally have been working behind the scenes to create this setting--and boy howdy, do they succeed beyond anyone's expectations.

Baby Girl and I are housed in one of the apartments this time. We have a sitting area and a full kitchen. We have two bedrooms so we aren't rooming together. There is a chair that I want to take home because it is a fantastic stitching chair. Sara provided a fantastic lunch today, and there was a lovely reception last night. I could move in and never leave--remember, there's a fully stocked needlework shop downstairs.

But at the moment, I believe I am going to crawl into my extremely comfortable bed and take a nap.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Funny Flowers

While I've been waiting for the washer to stop chugging and the dryer to stop spinning, I've been filling in petals on Briar Rose.

Some of the petals are green due to the overdyed silk pattern. I thought about removing those sections. I also thought about trying to do some sort of color manipulation so all the flowers in one position had one color pattern and all the flowers in another position had another color pattern.

And then I looked at the overdyed silk and I love all the colors in it and I like the way they flow from one to another and I decided that I could live with random.

Never thought you'd hear me say that . . . maybe I'm getting more flexible in my old age.


By the way, I am heading back to Salty Yarns this week-end. First leg of the trip is to Baby Girl's tomorrow, then we will head to Maryland Friday morning for a Saturday class--then we reverse the process. I am taking the camera and laptop. I do not know if either will come out of their cases, so if I am incommunicado for a couple of days, that's why.

And, enabling report:  Amy Mitten is offering a new set of Casket Toys. I am doomed. I have already signed up. I need to stitch faster.

But now I need to finish packing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Strewing Posies

A couple more flowers have bloomed on Briar Rose:

This should be boring, since I don't do repetition well. But it's not. I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the fact that I've figured out the most efficient way for me to stitch each flower. It may be because I have reached that sweet spot where I don't need to refer to the chart. It may be that I'm in need of a Zen stitching experience. Or it may be that I don't have the brain to handle anything other than repetition.

I need my brain--I'm getting ready to go back to Salty Yarns this week-end for a workshop with Betsy Morgan. Yes, I am taking another workshop with Betsy--deja vu all over again. And I need to think about packing, and need to decide if I'm going to take my traveling project that has yet to see a stitch, or if I should just go with the flow of more and more posies.

Going with the flow sounds good at the moment.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What doesn't happen

This is what my traveling project looked like before we left to visit The Flash.

This is what it looked like by the time we got home yesterday.

Obviously I didn't have much time to stitch.

I did get a little stitched last night between certain Domestic Diva activities that had to be accomplished.

I've started the roses around Briar Rose. I work a few outlines, then go back and fill in the petals. This is going to take awhile, I'm afraid.

The stitching portion of this blog is now over and onto a grandchild story.

The Flash informed me that he was going to be through with kindergarten very soon, and that he was going to first grade. It soon became obvious that he thinks that he will finish with kindergarten on Friday and begin first grade the following Monday. I do not envy The Big Kid or The Big Kid's Wife, who will have to deal with his disappointment.

They have already figured out a number of activities for the summer for him, since a busy Flash is a happy Flash. I just don't think they've realized that they need to have something major planned for the Monday after school ends.

I'm glad I'm a couple of hundred miles away for the first and only time since he was born.