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, December 23, 2011

Well, duh

Every year, usually about the time JCS's Christmas Ornament issue arrives, I think that it would be a spectacularly good idea to stitch an ornament a month so I would have a dozen new ornaments for the tree in December.

Not that I NEED a dozen new ornaments a year.  .  . we have only enough room for one tree and we don't put all the ornaments we have on it.  I've been collecting ornaments for close to 40 years so it's not like we need to add more.  They're just so pretty . . .

Anyway, when January rolls around and I have finally put all the Christmas decorations away (and continue to vacuum up stray needles for months afterwards), the desire to stitch anything Christmas-y is pretty much kaput. So I don't.

I was just sitting here for a minute before going back to wrapping presents, gazing idly at the tree, when I had a slap-myself-up-side-the-head moment.

I have stitched twelve ornaments this year.


Five perforated paper ornaments (pilot stitching), three beaded ornaments (pilot stitching), and four Glitzy Ornaments (SNS class).

The lighting is not good for shots on the tree, so I moved them to the wreath in the sunshine.  The pictures are still not wonderful, but here they are:

Perforated paper ornaments in gold and white.  I don't think any one of them took longer than a couple of hours to stitch.

Close-up of my favorite one--will do this one again.

Three beaded ornaments--the swags of beads are very cool.  Gay Ann Rogers sold both these and the perforated paper ornaments during her annual eWeek this year--maybe she will bring them back for next year's sale--it's worth it to watch her website for sales, BTW, since they are offered for a limited time only and then, poof!, gone.  I like these so much I think I'm going to stitch them again in red and white.  Somewhere I have beads that look like peppermint candy. If the proportions are right, they may replace the pearls in the middle.

And, finally, Glitzy Ornaments from Carole Lake and Michael Boren through Shining Needle.  I think I'm going to go back and give them more oomphy tassels before next year, assuming I think about it between now and then.

Back to wrapping presents . . . in case I don't get back to the blog between now and then, I hope you all enjoy the Christmas you want with the people you love!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One week to Christmas . . .

And we're still working on it!

Last week was the week of social engagements--and three of them were on the same night. I had my EGA holiday party, Dearly Beloved had a gathering with a volunteer group he belongs to, and we had a neighborhood thing.  We had figured out a complicated logistical plan for getting ourselves hither, thither, and yon--Dearly Beloved was going to drop me off at the EGA party, then drive to the other side of the county to make an appearance at his party, then drive back, pick me up, and we would drop in on the neighborhood get-together.  As we were gathering things to put in the car to transport to all these functions, we looked at each other, and in common accord (which does not always happen!) said, "Do you really want to do all this?"

Instead we had tomato soup (hey, it's red) and grilled cheese sandwiches and watched Christmas movies on  DVD.

That night while reading blogs, I found that Erica Wilson had died. I don't think there's a stitcher of a certain age who doesn't remember her program on PBS in the early 70's.  I will never forget the opening, when she galloped through the door of her "cottage" with another colorful and exciting project.  I must have stitched half a dozen of her whimsical crewel pieces during that time, and still treasure her Embroidery Book, the Christmas book, and the two Needleplay books in my library.

The NYTimes obit compared her to Julia Child in her influence at the time.  This all made me think about the fact that Julia Child inspired hundreds of cooking shows as well as amateur chefs, while needleworkers are definitely not in the mainstream.  I think there are two reasons for this:  obviously, everyone has to eat.  The other has more to do with the social changes in our world.  Let's face it, most needlework projects take a long time to complete.  It's sloooooooow process before you have the pleasure of a finish.  Several years ago, I read a statistic that explained why, perhaps, we don't have more stitchers in the 25-45 age group: the average working mother with young children and a full-time job has only 45 minutes a day of personal time--and that includes time for bathing, grooming and dressing.  When something takes as long as our typical project does, and you have, what--maybe 10 minutes a day to call your own?--you're going to scrapbook or surf the net, or flip through a magazine.  You're not as likely to thread a needle because about the time you find your place again, you need to do something with a bitty person.

This makes introducing Gay Ann Rogers' concept of 12 stitches a day to prospective stitchers a priority.  GAR suggests setting up the needlework, needle threaded, and just putting in 12 stitches every day. It's amazing what you can accomplish in 12 stitches.  It's an idea . . .

But back to the mundane.  While getting ready to leave for Baby Girl's for the week-end, I was doing laundry.  The washer started screaming in the high-pitched voice of appliance death and stopped spinning. On the first load. (We're hoping it's just a belt.  Since it is the week before Christmas and I am NOT in the mood to go appliance shopping.)

So, in a remarkable turn of affairs, I took dirty clothes and linens to Baby Girl's home and did my laundry there.  I suppose there's a symmetry to the whole thing, thinking back on the loads of dirty laundry that arrived with her visits.

We had a fantastic visit.  She cooked dinner for me Friday night and it was delicious.  We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie on Saturday (and I plan to go see it again). We had pizza Saturday night.  And I came home relaxed and happy.

But, you ask, have you stitched anything.  Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . .no.

Maybe tonight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Crazies

For some reason, Christmas seems to be whooshing at me faster than usual this year.  It's probably due to the fact that normally I do some decking of the halls the day after Thanksgiving.  This year I didn't, so anything I want to do to get ready for the Big Day is happening in much less time.  And I'm going to spend the week-end before Christmas with Baby Girl (because the new Sherlock Holmes movie is coming out and we need to do some serious drooling over Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law because we are, indeed, fangirls of those two actors in those two roles) so I'm losing a whole week-end to go gallivanting.

And all this means that I haven't had more than a minute or two to stitch.

Most of the projects on my list are large and complex because I have fallen into the 17th century and don't want to climb out.  These are not projects that are particularly easy to pick up and put down between batches of cookies or bouts of intense cleaning. As a result, I haven't been stitching.

We all know that needlework is one of the best forms of stress relief there is.  And we all know that the holidays can be stressful if you let them. And we all know that even if the holidays aren't particularly stressful, life is.

(When he was about 4 or 5, the Big Kid very seriously looked at me during a time of stress and strain and asked, "Don't you need to point your needle at something?")

Anyway, last night I flopped into the wing chair and put my feet on the ottoman and looked at Martha Edlin.  She looked back. We stared at each other for a minute, then looked away.

And my eye fell on a little make-it-take-it kit that I picked up in the boutique at Christmas in Williamsburg last year.  And it was small and not complicated to stitch.  So I picked it up and stitched it.

It will become the front of a pinkeep. And it felt REALLY good to stitch again.

Hmmmmmm. . .

Every year I tend to pick up a number of small kits at the boutique.  I like sewing accessories and cute little things and they tend to have a selection of them. So I add them to the stash for times when I need something small for a trip or to carry around in my pocketbook for waiting rooms.

There is a basket full of smalls to assemble.  There are a number of large samplers who crave attention.  There are things to do that need to be done.

But the Christmas Crazies will do you in every time.  So I have decided to celebrate the season by pulling out a bunch of these little kits and stitching on them from now until Christmas Eve.  Then I will see how many of them I can finish-finish between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.  And then I will come to my senses and go back to the 17th century and Serious Stitching.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Decking and fa-la-la-ing

We have been trying to get ready for Christmas.

We spent a couple of evenings after work this week Christmas shopping.  With the exception of a couple of gift cards, we are done. Through. Finished.  We have a very small family, but one of them is very, very picky.  Glad Mother does not read this blog.

Then there's the decorating. This has involved moving almost all the furniture in the living room around to free up the "best" corner for the Christmas tree.  This also involved organizing my corner so the projects in progress were not spilling all about (that took longer than moving furniture and that is shameful to admit).

Then we had to go get the Christmas tree.  We buy a Fraser Fir every year from the same group of volunteers, mainly because they are so cheerful and happy and full of the spirit that it makes the discussions we have bearable (like, no, that's too bushy and whoever gets stuck sitting on that end of the sofa is going to get swatted by tree limbs . . .or, don't you think that's a little tall? Remember, we're outside, but in the house, we have a definite ceiling height . . .or, you know, why don't you stand next to that one and see if it's about the same size you are and that would be perfect--for some reason, Dearly Beloved did not think that was funny).

We had the yearly light disaster.  Dearly Beloved was thrilled when the Big Kid got big enough to do the lights. Then he got married and moved out, so Dearly Beloved gave the task to Baby Girl. Then she moved out (possibly to get out of doing the lights).  The last few years, the job has fallen on his shoulders again.  Last year we only used one very long string of lights because we had a very skinny tree that didn't need much.  This year, we have a very thick and tall tree. It needs more lights.  We thought we had them. We discovered that several of the strings were dead. Dead, dead, dead.  So, we had to go buy lights, which, two weeks before Christmas, are in short supply.  One place had only blue ones.  One had only extremely expensive and short strings of novelty lights left.  We finally found the desired mini-lights.  On a white cord.  Not a green cord that you can persuade yourself is camouflaged in the tree. White. Blinding while. Blizzard white.

I'm trying to talk myself into believing that it looks like a lacing of snow through the branches.

I have almost completed ornamenting the tree.  I still have to place the gold filigree pieces that weigh almost nothing on the branches that can't hold much weight, and the crocheted snowflakes go on after them. And we have not placed the tabletop decorations, nor have we pulled the Christmas dishes out.  And I haven't played a single Christmas CD or watched any of the collection of videos and DVD's we've accumulated over the years.

And I haven't stitched a lick since arriving home from Williamsburg.

And Sunday is winding down and it will be back to work again.

I need a day-stretcher!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Party's Over (and re-entry is tough!)

Ahhhhhhhhhh--the opening salvo of the Grand Illumination fireworks in Williamsburg . . .

And the end of a lovely trip . . .

I took a class from Merry Cox, which seems to have become something of a tradition over the last few years.  If she teaches, I take her class.  Somehow, I can't get it into my head that it's possible to have too many needlebooks or pinkeeps or other smalls, and Merry has such relaxing and laid back classes.  This year offered a bonus, too, in that we could purchase the kits for classes we didn't take.  I took advantage, so I have the kits for Joanne Harvey's two classes and Jackie's class that goes with the one-day class I had taken from her on Thursday.

The JCS people also provided us with nifty surprises each day.  Yes, I realize that our enrollment fees cover the costs of the gifts, but it's still a bit like Christmas everyday.  This year our goodies included a sampler with motifs from most of the teachers who participated this year, a pretty little Colonial Pincushion (Sudberry House piece) and an oval silver box.  One of my friends took hers to the jeweler's shop in the Historic District to have it engraved.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and plan to take mine back when I go to Jeannine's Gathering of Embroiderers in February.  By then, I may decide what I want to have engraved!

We had our "farewell" luncheon on Saturday (since so many people have to leave early on Sunday). It included a tribute to Darlene O'Steen. She was the first teacher at the first Christmas in Williamsburg event.  Due to health issues, this will be her last.  And, of all amazing coincidences, Jean Lea (of Attic Needlework fame) won a very special door prize, a copy of the first edition of The Proper Stitch.  Jean was in Darlene's original class--how special is it that she won the book!

Dearly Beloved and I enjoyed our free afternoons after I got out of class.  We wandered up and down Duke of Gloucester Street, admiring the decorations.  We spent time at DeWitt Wallace and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller museums (all part of the same complex now). And we oohed and aahed over the fireworks at the Grand Illumination.

Re-entry has been tough!  With the cold I was fighting off, I did no decorating before we left, so there was nothing shiny when I got home.  And I've had to play catch-up at work, so not a lot of energy left for that when I get home--actually, I'm still doing laundry from the trip!  But this week-end, there will be decking of the halls and stitching of projects and fa-la-la-ing!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

It is the Baby Girl's birthday!!!

On our way home from Williamsburg tomorrow, we are going to swing by and take her out to lunch for a belated birthday celebration. However, I didn't want to let the day go by without letting the world know how happy I am that she is in it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

stitches, little teeny stitches

So here it is, the first "official" full day of Christmas in Williamsburg--and, as usual, I'm having a good time.

Yesterday was the day for the Early Bird classes and the boutique opening and the welcome banquet.  I took a class from Jackie duPlessis, her "Present-tation Tray" which accompanies the class she is teaching for the rest of the seminar.  (You can see both on the home page of her website, And I stitched in class.  The numbers 1 - 5.  In tent stitch over one.  Teeny little stitches.

Then the boutique opened.  If you've ever seen the Running of the Brides at Filene's, you may have a slight clue as to what happens when a bunch of needlework fanatics are given the opportunity to shop.  I found the one thing I really wanted (and didn't know I wanted until I took Jackie's class) and a (ahem) number of other things that needed to come home with me.  I didn't find 50 count white linen, but, oh, well.  I can find that elsewhere, hopefully.  The credit card isn't smoking, it just melted into a puddle of molten plastic.

And then we had the welcome banquet.  I finally got to meet an online friend (Hi, Cyn!) and we enjoyed Phyllis dePiano's comments about the 25 years of seminars in Williamsburg.

Today started the regularly scheduled programming. I am taking one of Merry Cox's classes because it's become a tradition for me to take Merry's classes in Williamsburg.  I'm always happy with my Merry projects--and the decision was made easier because this year, for the first time, we were allowed to buy the class kits for classes we didn't take.  So, there are other projects to come home with me.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!

And I stitched in Merry's class, too.  More teeny tiny stitches.  Tent stitch over one.

People who know me know that I don't get much done at seminars.  For one thing, I generally can't keep a needle threaded. Sometimes I can't count. Usually I can't see even when my eyes and spectacles are working together (which they aren't particularly at the moment).  The chairs are not the wing chair.  I don't have my ottoman to prop up my feet. My stuff isn't where I want it to be, usually because there are other people who seem to think they need space for their stuff.

But for some reason--maybe because I haven't been able to stitch much lately, I am stitching here.

And loving it.

Add to that:  the historic district is decorated.  We have had some very good meals.  We did some Christmas shopping after I got out of class this afternoon. The weather is beautiful--it was sweater weather today.

And there are two more days before we have to return to reality.