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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lovely things

While on retreat, we've had the incredible opportunity to see some of the 17th century needlework that lives in the Colonial Williamsburg textile collection. We were allowed to take photographs for our personal use, so I can't share what we saw on the blog, but suffice it to say that I left with a sense of wonder and delight.

Imagine, if you will, a panel featuring a gentleman and his lady, standing under a canopy, all in raised embroidery. . . but with the background filled with tiny embroidered vignettes, showing people going about their everyday lives. . . including a tiny man climbing a fruit tree while his friends looked on below.

Imagine a tortoise shell casket with the Four Seasons depicted on the top as lovely ladies with the most phenomenally stitched dresses in a variety of techniques. Autumn was holding a cornucopia over her shoulder filled with minutely stitched berries and fruits. Winter held a book. My casket will now have to have someone holding a book.

One thing that I realized as I looked is that we simply don't have the silk threads they had, some as fine as a single hair.  And how tiny did the needles have to be to stitch detached buttonhole, fitting each stitch between the others made with this fine, fine thread?

Meanwhile, I'm working on the prework for the workshop I'm taking in less than two weeks, and it is a long, long journey.

I'm a bit farther along now than I was when I took this picture, but I don't think I'll be able to pull anything else I brought out of the bag the rest of the time I'm here. However, it must be done, and luckily I have more stitching hours available to me over the next three days.

Friday, February 26, 2016

In Full Retreat

After being buffeted by the winds--and the only time EVER that I thought riding the Jamestown Ferry was going to make me seasick--Dearly Beloved and I have arrived in Williamsburg for my needlework retreat and his immersion into colonial times.

There are those who believe that Dearly Beloved never quite gets out of a colonial mindset . . .

I brought four projects, which will be seen later.  I don't have much time this morning--we have a special junket planned and I still need to dry my hair.

However, our event organizers, both lovely and gracious ladies who think of EVERYTHING and then some, provided us with special treats.

We have a silver box with the Colonial Williamsburg cipher and, to place in it, a Governor's Palace Threadwinder (it is just that cool so it needs to be capitalized) made by the inimitable, talented, incredible Rachel Kinnison of Ladies' Repository.  And it is personalized and dated. And the finish is incredibly smooth.

And it has led to other things.

Tricia Nguyen has a small casket box that is perfect for sewing accessories. Not that the others she offers are not, but they seem to require more elaborate embroideries. I believe that I need to get the smaller one, and embroider scenes from Williamsburg for it. After all, Dearly Beloved and I visit at least twice a year, we have indoctrinated our children to believe that this the best place to come for a special vacation, and when I am too old to totter down Duke of Gloucester Street, I will have it to remind me of pleasant days spent here. And, since there are rumors that there will be more accessories to come in future years, there will be a place to house them.

That's the plan. Now to make the time.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Oh, No--More Decisions!

I thought I had winnowed down the number of projects I'm taking to my retreat this week to a manageable level.

I thought.

Then, after a very long work day, interrupted by a doctor visit, I arrived home on Friday to find this had arrived:

Black Eyed Susans
Jackie du Plessis design

Such a sweet design, and something that would be easy to stitch while enjoying the companionship of my buddies at the retreat . . .

But I have prework to do, and Susan Williams to stitch, and this month's Christmas ornament, which hasn't seen the light of day since I took it on my work trip at the end of January . . .If I were going to be gone for a month, with hours and hours to stitch, maybe . . .

Speaking of Susan Williams, she got a few minutes of love last night.

It's time to stitch the verse.

Letters are always my downfall.

I just don't enjoy stitching them.

And parts of these words are worked over two threads and parts over one, and quite frankly, the chart isn't very clear on the placement of the over-one letters. And that is why I decided to get the first letter for each line stitched in relationship to the border, and will let the others fall as best they can.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Little Bits and Pieces

I'm working on the prework for Hands to Work, Hearts to God, but what I'm doing now isn't really much to see.

I have to do another of these little blocks. These two bits will be the lining of a sunbonnet that goes with the set. I'm making the assumption that the sunbonnet will actually be a needlebook--but Jackie could surprise me. She has in the past.

Once I get the other block finished, I have another little piece that is solidly stitched for another small in the set, and then I will go back to Sarah Williams.

Meanwhile, I'm heading to a stitching retreat next week and making a valiant attempt to narrow down the number of projects I want to take. At the moment, I have enough things to keep me stitching fairly steadily for six months. For some reason, I seem to think that vacation hours are much longer than real hours, when it's actually the other way around.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


For the last several days, I've been thinking about Sarah Williams, who stitched the original sampler I'm currently working on.

Actually, I've been visualizing fourteen-year-old Sarah, throwing down her embroidery hoop, stamping her foot, and yelling "Phooey" or whatever the Welsh equivalent for an exclamation of disgust and dismay would have been in 1833.

Please note the left side of the top of the sampler:

See how the motifs are nicely spaced, each set off in its own area.

Now look at the right side of the top of the sampler:

Not so much space here, and the dive-bombing butterfly has clipped the edge of a flower.

I have a feeling that Sarah miscalculated or miscounted or just plain missed something. I bet she had the border worked in and suddenly realized that . . . oh, dear . . .things just weren't fitting the way she had planned.

And, oh, wow, I've had those very same feelings on occasion.

I can see Sarah trying to decide what to do. She could have ripped out and restitched and spaced things a little more closely on the left side so everything would fit a little better on the right. And I can also see her thinking about the hours of work and wondering if anyone would ever really notice. If it can't be seen from the back of a galloping horse, does it make a lot of difference?

This is one of the things I love about stitching reproductions. You find that the stitchers who lived before us were just like us in so many, many ways.

Including the desire to avoid frogging if possible.

(Although, I have to admit, I probably would have frogged. But then, I'm not fourteen years old. Except possibly mentally.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chugging Along

There is progress on Sarah Williams!

There has been some discussion about the type of plant in the middle. One of the people in the family--who is obviously totally confused--is determined it's an apple tree. As I have never seen an apple tree in which all the apples show their blossom ends, I have proclaimed that it's a rose bush.

We need to get a life if we're discussing this for more than three minutes.

Anyway, I am so totally enjoying working on this that I plan to finish this top section before the week-end. Then I am going to make myself sit down and work on prework. The workshops are getting closer and closer and I have many millions of stitches to do before then.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Crown Me

I'm still picking Sarah Williams up when I have a chance to stitch--obviously this has not been a good week for finding time to stitch.

There was a sampler guild meeting Wednesday night, then Mother had another "event" yesterday which required a great deal of telephoning back and forth among all parties involved.  Apparently she had a TIA--transient ischemic attack--also known as a mini-stroke--but her doctor is "not overly concerned." The Saint and I are, so we had to discuss. I am going to spend some time with Mother this week-end so I can get a better idea of her condition. I can't find out enough from our daily phone calls. Visiting for a couple of days should provide a more complete picture.

When I'm able to find time to stitch again, I plan to finish this top part of Sarah Williams and then focus on prework.  At the moment, I have three classes' worth of prework to do, plus about forty-leven other projects I want to do.

I might decide to take a nap instead.

Monday, February 1, 2016

More Rejoicing

The handles are attached to the tray for my Merry Cox workbox . . .

and the needlebook is finished and sitting in it . . .

I was supposed to embellish the machine seams on the panel that holds the scissors and ruler. I tried a couple of things on a scrap of leftover Ultra Suede, but I didn't like anything I tried. Then I thought about it for a minute or two and decided to leave them unembellished.

And why, you ask? The Queen of Embellishment is leaving something unembellished? 

It's mainly because, for possibly the first time in my life, my machine sewn lines were about as close to straight as I could get them. Considering that I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, this is amazing, and I am taking great pride in it.

I did add the ribbon ties that go through the scissor handles to keep the scissors from falling out every time I picked up the needle book. That's not so much embellishment as it is practicality.

I am so thrilled by my lack of failure on this project (notice I did not say success) that I have seriously been thinking of pulling another project from the Giant Basket of Things to Be Put Together. I have even thought of dragging out the ironing board and pressing anything that needs to be pressed.

Sanity is prevailing, however. It is Monday, after all.  I should probably avoid rotary cutters and pointed needles on Mondays.