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, June 24, 2017

Wine & Roses, Two

After a long day of stitching, all the leaves and vines on the back of the second band on the second panel of the Virgin Queen are done.

The happy dance has been celebrated.


I think it looks very William Morris-ish, and I did finally figure out a pattern I could follow, so it wasn't quite as painful as I feared.

And I decided which thread winder designs I wanted to use and got those stitched.


I went with darker values than the original designs on both of these because I have left my usual rut and gone wild on the lining fabric.

Please keep in mind that going wild is relative.

We had a choice among a yellow-green, blue (my usual option), and a rusty, cinnamon-y red. The red made me think of Elizabeth I more than the other two, so I threw caution to the winds and opted for it. Actually, I think I'm going to like it a lot.

I have already outlined the last panel and the two halves of the scissors fob, so I'm going to thread up my needle again and see what i can accomplish before bedtime.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wine and Roses

The grapevine band on the second panel of the Virgin Queen is stitched, but the flower panel is taking me a little more brain power than I have at the end of a work day.


Betsy warned us that this was the most difficult band for double running, so I was prepared to work at it.

Usually I can figure out a double running pattern just by studying it. Not so much with this one--so I used my fallback method. I enlarge and photocopy the pattern and try to follow the pattern with my pudgy finger (that's one reason I enlarge the pattern). If that doesn't work, I get out the colored pencils and try to work out the outward path and the return journey.

There are a lot of dead ends on this pattern.

And I think I need to wait until the week-end to actually stitch it. Meanwhile, last night I very carefully counted out the locations of the centers of the posies and I think I'll go ahead and plant those flowers on the band. That way, there will be progress made.

Unless, of course, my counting wasn't quite as careful as I am assuming it was.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

And there was much rejoicing

I managed to get the Vanilla thread on the Cream background band stitched on Virgin Queen.

It was a beast to stitch. And you can barely see it, even in person.

Oh, and I finished the rest of this panel as well.


Usually, when I'm stitching a double running pattern, I figure out where the border stitches are and start working across them. When I come to a place where the inner bits of the design intersect, I meander off and do those parts of the motif, then return to the border stitches and go along until the next intersection.

On this pattern, that was not working. I was so totally lost I would have needed pebbles or bread crumbs or something to get me back to where I was supposed to be.

So, I did all the border stitches along the bottom border, both outbound and return trip. Then I went all the way across the top border and, on the return trip, filled in the squiggly bits in the middle. That way I had guidelines on both top and bottom as reference points.

That worked.

And this is not the section that Betsy says is the hardest to do in double running.

I'm not sure if this is going to build new neural pathways or destroy the ones I have.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Baby Girl

I have been asked what Baby Girl does while I'm taking classes--other than acting as driver and hauler of suitcases and tote bags.

She is quite an accomplished needlewoman in her own right.

Before we left for Salty Yarns, she created a new watch band.

 

Her watchband broke. Instead of buying a new one, she made one instead. It started out to be sort of steam punk with bobbin lace (which I can't do) and metal bits, but she decided that would be too fragile. So she designed a beaded band (I also can't bead).  I like the offset clasp, so that she had more design area for the beaded band itself.

And while we were there, she threaded up her electric needle and did the outlining for the Halloween etui that came from Blue Ribbon Designs several years ago.


And why isn't she taking the classes with me?  Who do you think is going to end up with my stash anyway?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Obsession

I came home yesterday after leaving Salty Yarns on Monday and spending Monday night at Baby Girl's home. Both legs of the trip were much, much easier than the trip up on Saturday--the longest delay we had was the fifteen-minute wait for a table at The Carrot Tree in Williamsburg.

What I was going to do was unpack, throw some laundry in the washer, catch up on the newspapers. write a few entries in my journal since I forgot to take it with me, blog about the class and the trip, and maybe stitch for a little bit. I also fully planned to go to bed early to make up for not sleeping as much as I usually do.

I unpacked and threw a load in the washer.

The sun was shining and I had daylight for stitching, so I thought I would just stitch for a little bit and catch up on the newspapers, journal, and write a blog when I started losing the sun in my corner. And I could still get to bed at a reasonable hour, since it was back to work today.

I started stitching.

And that was it. There was Chinese for dinner. There were a few loads shifted from washer to dryer. A couple of them even were folded up, although they're still sitting on the kitchen table.

And I got this much done before I forced myself to go to bed. Later than usual.


I had to go back to work today and I had to be a responsible adult tonight and make grocery lists and do more laundry and pay a couple of bills and do all those deadly dull and boring things.

I'd much rather be stitching.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mojo Lost, Mojo Found

OK--earlier in the week, my stitching mojo vanished in a puff of smoke. Gone. Move along, nothing to see here.

I tried. I sat with the threaded needle in my hand for about an hour one night while watching reruns of Big Bang Theory. Not one stitch was taken, and they were episodes I had seen multiple times before.

And here I was on my way to Salty Yarns to take a class from Betsy Morgan, and it's a project that I've wanted since it appeared on her blog. To say that I was afraid I would be a bump on a log in class is an understatement.

So I travelled to Baby Girl's last night and we got up bright and early to make the trek to Maryland from North Carolina.

And if there was ever a trip that would make a person reconsider taking a class, this was that trip.

  • There was a horrendous accident on the interstate that meant it took us twice as long to reach the Virginia line as usual. It looked like it had happened hours earlier, and the road was still blocked.
  • We missed the Jamestown Ferry and had to wait for the next one.
  • We decided to have a leisurely lunch and it was delightful and I do not regret one moment of the time we spent off the road.
  • For some unknown reason--and we have never figured this out--the traffic on I-64 is always slow and bumper-to-bumper. Today it was worse than usual. It took two hours to go forty miles.
  • The rest of the trip was fairly easy, but at this point, we were so far behind our usual schedule and so road-weary it was hard to maintain our cherub-like demeanors.
  • And we got the very last parking spot in the hotel parking lot so we are about as far away from the lobby as we could get. We may actually be in Delaware.
But then we arrived at the Lankford and Salty Yarns, and we have been welcomed with their usual gracious hospitality, and once again, Sara provided the absolute best goodie basket.


It is all housed in this perfect box:


And I'm feeling the urge to stitch again.

But if you think I'm even going to attempt that tonight, after 11 hours on the road--forgive me, but are you insane?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Temptation

I have the eyelet band on Frances Burwell stitched.


Of course, I could continue with this tonight, but the mail carrier brought me something today that is very, very tempting.


The linen and Gilt Silk Twist for the Harmony Casket arrived, and I am so very, very tempted to set it up. I'm not sure that's a brilliant idea after a very hectic Monday at work, but I might get myself organized to set it up,

Actually, I just need to get some things organized. I'm leaving on Friday for Salty Yarns and a workshop with Betsy Morgan, and I should decide what I'm going to take to stitch before the workshop starts.

One way or the other, something is going to be organized tonight!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Letters and numbers, letters and numbers

I've finally finished the alphabet and number band on Frances Burwell:


It is all stitched reversibly. The second alphabet is worked in the reversible cross that results in a four-sided stitch on the back.  I could have stitched half a dozen alphabets in the time it takes to stitch two reversibly.

So, you might ask, as a friend did--if you're not going to frame the sampler so the backside can be seen, why do it?

Well, for one thing, when I'm working a reproduction, it just doesn't occur to me to stitch it other than the way the original embroiderer worked.

And that includes strange things, like the green lines running from top to bottom along each side. Sometimes the sampler runs into and over those lines:


It all adds to the charm--at least, that's how I look at it.

The other thing is that, judging from the brain cramps that have occurred as I've worked, new neural pathways are being created inside my head. At least, that's the hope.  I'd hate to have the brain cramps without some benefit from them.

At any rate, it's now done and I can go on to the pretty parts.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Well, That Happened

Last night I had determined I was going to work on Frances Burwell this week-end. I even pulled her out of her pillowcase and did a few more letters on the second row.


But then I wandered into the stash room to look for something and discovered what had made the thump in the night.

Background--a week or so ago, Dearly Beloved and I had just gone to bed and turned out the lights when we heard a thump. It wasn't a loud thump, but it was a thump. So Dearly Beloved hauled himself out of bed and went on a tour of inspection to see what had happened and if we were being invaded. He found nothing. We decided it must have been something outside and went to sleep.

But when I opened the door to the stash room (for obvious reasons, I keep it shut) I found that there had either been a Disturbance in the Force or a small earthquake--or something had just shifted for some unknown reason--and one of my storage tubs had tumbled to the floor.  The lid had popped off and the contents were strewn across the floor.

You can't leave needlework strewn across the floor--or I can't--so I started picking up and sorting and of course, I found treasures. And now I want to work on every single one of them.


Here's a silk and metal thread design from the much missed Jean Taggart--probably started twenty years ago.


And another silk and metal thread design, this one from Sue Kerndt.


And this adorable snowman from Jody Adams.

When I took the classes, I was doing a lot of pilot stitching with deadlines all over the place, and I didn't get back to them after the seminars were over. But now that I've found them again, I want to stitch them.

I'm a little concerned, though. I think my stitching was better then than it is now so I need to up my game to go back to these.

Anyway, while I was trying to decide which one to tackle first, the mail carrier delivered this to my door.


I found this on the Bay of Evil. I've wanted this piece for years and years and years. The grandmother of one of my best friends had this stitched and framed on her kitchen wall--and by the time I saw it, the kit had been discontinued. I don't know why it appealed to me so, but I've been searching for it for over forty years--and there it was at a reasonable price, so I grabbed it.

Which just goes to show, if I'm meant to have a needlework project, somehow it will eventually come my way.

The only problem is that I'm back to where I was before. What am I going to work on first?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Little Lambsies

Catherine Theron's Early Spring Lambs needlebook is done!

And here is the outside:


And here is the inside:


And here is the pocket between the inside and the outside where the scissors live:


I think I need to press the needle page down--it accidentally got bent up when I tied the case closed. And I think I may make the ties a little shorter--they're very long.

So what do I pick up next?

I'm really not sure. There are samplers and smalls and new projects and old projects and projects in a variety of different techniques and they are all calling my name. What a wonderful dilemma to have!


Monday, May 29, 2017

I Know my ABC's

I haven't worked on a sampler since I went to the retreat in February, so I decided to pull Frances Burwell out of her pillowcase.

And then I remembered why I hadn't worked on this since.

The next thing to do was an alphabet. In reversible cross. And I don't like stitching letters.  I have no idea why I don't like to stitch letters, but I don't.  But the next thing to do if I'm ever to finish stitching the sampler is to work the alphabet, so I got it started.


There is also a lower-case alphabet after the upper case alphabet is finished. And then there are numbers.

I don't like stitching numbers any more than I like to stitch letters, but I will struggle through so I can get to the fun stuff.

And if this is the worst struggle I have to overcome, I lead a charmed life.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Black and (off) White

So I sat down yesterday after a morning of errands and picked up the prework for the class I'm taking from Betsy Morgan at Salty Yarns in a couple of weeks.

And it's done.


If working out the double running patterns doesn't create new neural pathways and help to stave off dementia and Alzheimer's, I don't know what will! I'm still getting over the brain cramps.

And I don't have a clue what I'm in the mood to work on next. There are more than enough projects in the stash to keep me busy until I'm 462, but I can't decide which one is the most enticing.

Back to closing my eyes and grabbing whatever is in the basket by the chair, I guess.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Now what

I finished the last two little bits of the Cotton Fields set, so it's going into the finish-finishing pile.


And, after two attempts that were frogged, I have the fourth band of Isabella finished. Actually, I'm still not happy with it, but I'm afraid the linen is getting tired and it's going to give up completely if I rip again. So the third time is going to be the charm, whether it really is or not.


And here I am with a three-day week-end. Three lovely, lovely days for stitching.

There is a project I've wanted to get some traction on, and I originally planned to plop myself in the wing chair and work on it from sunrise to way after sunset for the next three days. I really believed that I could get the whole thing done from start to finish.

As often happens when I make plans, something interferes.  It would appear that Someone has Other Plans for part of the week-end, so I won't have long expanses of time. I'll have chopped up sections of time. So now I'm trying to decide what to do.

I do have prework for Betsy's class at Salty Yarns in a couple of weeks. I could do the hemstitching on Isabella. I certainly have a stack of finish-finishing to do. Or I could start the original project I had planned to do, despite the fact there will be interruptions.

I may just flip a coin.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Progress Report

I'm through with the second piece of the set and about halfway through with the third. That leaves one more piece and it goes into the finishing pile.


The work project is also almost stitched.  Just the large motif in the center is left to do.


And this means I need to decide what to do next. I already have an idea about the next crewel piece for my lunchtime project--but I'm not sure which way to go with my everyday project . . . 

I'm in the mood to plunge back into the 17th century. But I've been thinking about samplers, too. And how can I stop working on the stitching toys I love so much?

There's only one thing to do.

I need to clone myself.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wee tiny stitches

While I've been babysitting waiting on Dearly Beloved hand and foot assisting Dearly Beloved with his recuperation and recovery, I needed something I could stitch that was fairly small, easy to pick up and put down, and had a rhythmic, repetitive pattern so I wouldn't have to think about it.

So I rummaged in the Big Tote Bag of Small Projects and pulled this out:


So far, I've finished the band that will fit around the base of the bag.


And I've started the little tray.


There are two more pieces to stitch for this set, and I'll have something else in the finishing pile.

Which I most definitely will not tackle until Dearly Beloved is healthy again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Checking In

I have not fallen off the face of the earth or decided to stop blogging. I just haven't stitched much lately, and certainly nothing worth showing.

Instead, I've been playing Florence Nightingale. Dearly Beloved had to have a "procedure."  He refers to it as being sliced-and-diced. Needless to say, the only stitches of any interest around here have been his.

I'll be back when we're closer to what passes for normal around here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Panic, then frenzy

I got something finish-finished last night.


I hadn't planned to.

Somehow when I was taking it out of its little bag for blog photography, I caught a loose thread and the banding raveled. Past the point that it needed to be trimmed. Pretty much past the point of no return.

There was panic and foul language.

For a nano-second, I thought about reweaving the threads.

Life is too short.

So I pulled out some iron-on interfacing, measured and cut it to the size it needed to be, and pressed it to the back of the banding.

As long as you have the cutting board and rotary cutter and iron out, you may as well measure, cut, and press the interfacing for the lining for the little pouch.

As long as you have both the band and lining set up, you may as well see if your fix is . . . well . . . a fix and you sew the ribbon tunnels.

As long as the ribbon tunnels are sewn, you may as well fold the band and sew the side seams.

As long as the side seams are sewn, you may as well insert the ribbons and tie bows.

As long as the ribbons are inserted and the bows sewn, you may as well loop the charm to the ribbons.

And you have just gone through a finishing frenzy and have a finished project.

(It still needs the ends of the ribbons touched with Fray-Stop and the charm needs a touch of silver polish, but I'm calling it done.)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mighty Acorns from Little Oaks

I think I have that backwards--but this little project is now embroidered.


I didn't think it would take as long as it did, but I didn't have as much time to stitch the last half of the week as I had thought I would. Besides, I am firmly convinced (even though I've never run time trials) that working over one takes longer than working over two, and that crossing each stitch as you work takes a lot longer than zooming across the row one way and zooming back the other.

And then I started on another little project:


This is Mary's Token of Affection from Gentle Pursuits Designs.  It will make a sweet little needlebook eventually. It's also supposed to be cross stitch over one, but I tried that and decided, at this linen count, the stitches looked crowded. So I made an executive decision and I'm working it in tent over one. I'm much happier with the way it looks.

And then I decided that Isabella, the Group Correspondence Course my local EGA chapter is doing, would be my Sunday project. And this is where it is now:


I'm finally to the point I can do a pretty complicated knotting pattern, followed by some needleweaving. I think that's going to require more resources than I can muster this late in the afternoon, so that will be next Sunday's project.

I realize that all of these small projects I've been doing are, at some point, going to have to be put together. I think I'm going to do another one or two, then go into a frenzy of finishing--and with my finishing skills, I will be frenzied--and get them all done at once.

Then I can let myself start to play with some new goodies that have arrived in the mail of late--I have Eleanor of Aquitaine from Gay Ann Rogers, several Jackie du Plessis projects from SNS and Needle in a Haystack (I don't think Jackie ever sleeps), and another sampler. Oh, and a crewel kit I've wanted since 1976 and finally found online--it's not here yet, but it's supposed to be on its way.

Maybe I need to give up sleep, too.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rummaging

Last night I had stitching plans that required six inch stretcher bars.

So I went rummaging in the Big Bag of Small Projects, where I keep my mini bars.

I came up with several small pieces that I had started, but for some reason, lost in the mists of time, I didn't finish.

This one needed about four leaves stitched. So I stitched them.


This one needed to have the tops of the thistles added. So I added them.


This one needed way more than the other two, but I'm going to work on it tonight.


And I never did find the stretcher bars. I forgot to look for them.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finished and done

Eve is assembled.



This was a learning experience.

I learned:

  • Overall, I'm very happy with the embroidery.
  • I love the silk gimp used for the leaves and the tree and I love the raised stitch used for the grass mounds. I will use both again.
  • Tent stitch over one on linen gives a tapestry-like effect that I love--but I don't want to do my casket in that technique.
  • Overall, I'm not so happy with the finish-finishing. (so, what's new about that)
  • I wish I had realized that my finished embroidery didn't quite fit the measurements of the original, because I would have cut the finishing materials differently.
  • I also wish I had treated the mounting of the finished fabrics differently. Instead of gluing them to the Skirtex and mounting board, I would have ironed light-weight lining to the back to stabilize the silks, and then I would have laced the silk to the backings. This would have allowed me to remove them and recut the mountings to fit the embroidery.
  • No matter how I finagled the inner box, there is still a gap between the box and the "lid" or front of the piece. It won't be obvious leaning up against the back of the cabinet where it will live, so I guess I can live with it. I also guess I don't really have a choice unless I do the whole project again.  That is not going to happen.
  • I really wish I hadn't bent the outside when trying to mount the inner box. Maybe a heavier mounting board would have prevented that. Or it may have been worse.
The good thing is that my stripes matched up pretty well on the lining. 

Now I need to find some other trouble to get into.

As much as I have to do in my stash, I always have trouble deciding exactly what I want to do when I finish a major project. I might even have a list of things to do, and I still feel a little lost for a bit, until something else jumps up and down for my attention.

I think this means I'm more into the process than the product.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another one bites the dust

I came so very, very close to finishing the stitching on the Flower Pin Cushion last night, but I could not keep my eyes open any longer.

So I came home, plopped myself in the wing chair, and did the last little bit.


I could start working on finish-finishing tonight--or I could rummage around and find some other trouble to get into.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Turnaround

Last night I had to go somewhere that conflicted with my EGA meeting. I got home too late to go to the meeting and too early to go to bed.

So I heaved a massive sigh, just knowing things were going to go wrong again, and picked up the Flower Pin Cushion again.

And it was amazing.

Everything went right.


I got both borders completely stitched without having to take out a single stitch. I even got the center motif centered! And stitched!

Tonight I'll see if I can get the stuff for the front stitched.

And then I'll have yet another thing to finish-finish.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Giving Up and Going to Bed


This is Merry Cox's Flower Pin Cushion and Needle Book.

I would have the entire border finished, as well as most of the lettering except that last night I couldn't

  • count
  • read a graph

Tonight I can't
  • count
  • read a graph
For two evenings I have ripped out as much as I've stitched.

The new John Sanford Prey book arrived in today's mail, so I think something is telling me that perhaps I should read instead of stitch.

Monday, April 24, 2017

It kinda snuck up on me

Last night I finished the leaves on the weeping willow on Early Spring Lambs.


And this means that all the embroidery is done, which I really didn't expect to happen so quickly. I thought about starting the finish-finishing, but Eve is still taking up my table space and I'm not moving her until she's completely completed.

As usual, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep immediately, so I started thinking about what I would stitch on tonight.

No surprise--I'm starting on something new.


I won this.  Stasi, whose blog is beemusedandbeestitching.blogspot.com, offered this as a prize on her blog. If you commented on her entries, you got a chance for every comment. Well, I read her blog as I usually do, and I commented, and I won!

Stasi is blogging every day with a photo of a project she's completed, and she started at the first of the year. She has quite a collection of very pretty pieces she has stitched--and finished--and it's been fun to see what she comes up with each day. Since she and I have taken some of the same classes, and have similar tastes in smalls, it's been very inspirational.

The only problem is that every time I see something finished on her blog that is residing in my stash or the finishing basket, I feel the need to add it to the already very long list of projects I want to do immediately if not sooner.

And, speaking of that very long list of projects, more goodies arrived in the mail today.


Jackie du Plessis has been offering designs to her Facebook friends this year. Some of them I already had. Some of them I haven't, but now I do.

And I am going to live to 485.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bits and Pieces

When I went to bed last night, I was expecting to finish the sewing on Eve today.

Then I started, and found that the box that makes up the inside support is going to take more finagling than I had expected, so I couldn't just jump right in and get 'er done.  I need to muse and mull things over and figure out how to approach this, so I'm postponing the last bit until I have time for musing and mulling.

But other things have been stitched.


The weeping willow has started to leaf out. I do not expect to have pollen problems from this tree.


There is a very faint line of stitches above the open work band that you probably can't see. I can't see it either, which is why it took so long just to do that little bit. White on white on a gloomy day is not easy to stitch, but I need to get the next band on Isabella finished before Wednesday night and EGA.

So I suppose I should get back to it.

I'd rather start something new.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait

And that's what I'm doing today.


Not reading this book, although I strongly recommend getting a copy if you're interested in historical embroidery. Actually, it is serving a much more mundane purpose. It's weighting down part of Eve's innards until the glue dries.

Yes, I am indeed working on Eve again today.

However, I have to wait for glue to dry before I can take another step. I could be dusting and vacuuming and polishing furniture and folding laundry while I'm waiting.

I'm not.

Instead, I'm stitching away on Early Spring Lambs. The background for the border is completely filled in and the sheep are grazing. I need to add a weeping willow tree and initials and date, and this will be ready for its finish-finish.


After not threading a needle for three days, I think I'm making up for lost time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two Words

Sinus Infection

I love living in a city that has a canopy of green. I love the change in the leaves in the fall. I love the way the bare branches etch dark lines against the winter sky and turn into traceries of lace in snowfall.

But, once a year, the trees don't love me back.

It seems that the pollen has been heavier than usual this spring, or there hasn't been as much rain to wash it out of the air, or whatever specific tree pollen sets me off has been particularly virulent, but I have been down and out for a couple of days.

I now have medication and I'm feeling a little better, but I have not threaded a needle since the last time I wrote. Poor Eve is still flopping around on the kitchen table waiting for me to assemble her innards. The main piece of Early Spring Lambs hasn't been touched. The rest of the stash has been ignored completely.

There has been a ray of light. This lovely thing arrived in today's mail.


At this time of the year for the past couple of years, I have headed to Salty Yarns for classes from Sherri Jones of Patricks's Woods. I'd be there again this year if it weren't for the fact that I have already taken both classes she's teaching.

(Actually, I thought about going anyway, but I don't have an unlimited number of vacation days. Sadly)

Anyway, having this kit for a retired class show up in my mailbox today is somehow quite perfect. If I can't be there for classes, I can have my own little retreat this week-end.

Assuming I can stop snuffling, snorting, and sneezing long enough to read the directions.