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, January 31, 2012

Lizard Skin

This winter has not been particularly cold or messy, but it doesn't make any difference.  I'm still suffering from dry, chapped hands and rough skin and hangnails.

This would not be an issue except I stitch.  When your hands are so dry that they snag cotton, it's a problem.  Don't even start me on what I can do to a strand of silk.

I have tried all the treatments.  Several years ago, I found a glycerine hand treatment that did a phenomenal job of softening all the sandpapery parts.  It was so good it would leave its moisture on everything it touched-not good for linen or canvas.  It also had a scent that was so potent it could knock a strong man down at forty paces.

Then there was the olive-oil-and-sugar thing, varied with the mayo-and-sugar thing.  That sanded off the rough parts, but Dearly Beloved would sit and sniff and ask me if I was hiding a salad behind my chair.  And it still had to be pretty much washed away before stitching.

One of my grandmothers had lovely, long-fingered, artistic hands. She was very proud of them.  Very proud.  She also liked to dig in the dirt, which can do a number on lovely hands.  Her trick was to glop as much petroleum jelly as she could handle on her hands, slip on a pair of old, white cotton dress gloves, and go to bed.

In desperation awhile back, I tried it.  As a result of my experimentation, I have the following hints:

  • Make sure you have white cotton dress gloves handy before you glop on the petroleum jelly.
  • Be sure to ask both children if they have seen white cotton dress gloves before you glop on the petroleum jelly--you may find that you donated them to the dress-up box or to the high school drama department costume closet, since who needs white cotton dress gloves in this day and age?
  • If you have glopped on the petroleum jelly, do not use a pair of woolly red mittens in place of the white cotton dress gloves.  You will wake up with red fuzzies embedded on your hands.
  • A better alternative would be a pair of your husband's white tube socks.  However, be aware that you will not have much ability to use your thumbs, therefore . . .
  • turn the light off before glopping and socking or you're going to have to call for someone to come and do it for you.
  • Be VERY SURE to swear both children to absolute secrecy if your husband happens to be away when all of this is going on. Otherwise, it will go down in family lore forever.
Currently I'm using a gel substance from the health food store. It has everything in it from aloe to yucca and it's helping, but it requires re-application fairly frequently.  I have been thinking of spending some of my stash funds on a hot wax treatment. . . wonder how that would work?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spoiled by Joanne Harvey

Mary Atwood and I have spent some quality time together this week-end.  Not as much as I would have liked, since life and responsibilities got in the way, but I feel as though I made some progress.

This is where I stopped late this afternoon.  We are going to spend another hour or two together before bed.

And, as usual when I stitch one of Joanne Harvey's reproductions, I feel like I am being spoiled and pampered by the quality of the instructions and the amount of information.  Depending on the part of the sampler, you may have more than one chart involved in the instructions.  And they're in big print.

Look at this!

Just look at the size of this chart!!!  Even cyborg eyes can see this!

Normally, I like figuring out my own pathway when stitching double running. Although the studies are contradictory, I firmly believe that you can help stave off Alzheimer's by taking a daily brisk walk and using your brain in ways that will help chart new neural pathways.  Figuring out double running paths and working diagonal Montenegrin will either chart new neural pathways or  fry the ones you have--hmmm, forget that last one--anyway, I generally find trying to follow previously numbered paths confusing.  However, these charts are so nice and large the numbers don't get smooshed together, the pathways are logical, and despite the fact that I have several large sheets of paper floating around the wing chair at any given time, I'm finding that stitching this is very relaxing.

There was some discussion about the light cream silk.  A friend of mine is also stitching Mary and has decided to go with a darker gold.  When I first saw hers, I agreed with her decision.  But then I stitched a darker gold instead of the one kitted with the project on part of a band and the original shade on the other part.  Dearly Beloved and I gazed upon it.  We both decided we like the very light one much better and that it does look more like the original sampler.  So, I'm sticking with the original color.

So, back to stitching until it's time for bed. Monday mornings come way too soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More random than usual

I am done with pilots for awhile.  I have some lovely hearts added to my collection--and they will be shown on the blog after Gay Ann's February heart sale.  Actually, starting next week sometime, I will be showing one of them in progress--amazingly, I remembered to take pictures as I worked, so you can see how Periwinkle and Pearls heart happens.

While only one heart took significant stitching time (and only because it was solidly stitched), there were a lot of them, so I haven't stitched on anything except hearts for the month of January.  Well, except for my January 1 start.

This is it--REALLY bad picture, but then, until today, we've had more gray, gloomy days than otherwise.  (Seeing a ball of blazing gas in the sky this morning almost freaked me out until I realized it was that mythic creation, the sun.)

This is band one of Mary Atwood:

Poor Mary has been gazing reproachfully at me for weeks. I have promised her some significant stitching time this week-end.

While I've been in Pilot Paradise, a number of things have gone on in the world that I would have liked to have blogged about, but couldn't take time.  Now I am.

Betty Ring's Auction

In a word, WOW.

In the class I took from Joanne Harvey at Winterthur, she said she thought this auction was going to set the benchmark for sampler sales, and I do believe she is correct. To be tacky about money, the total surpassed the expected sum by over a million, and that is even more significant when you realize that about a quarter of the collection did not sell.

The pieces that didn't meet the reserve were mourning samplers, for the most part. When I looked at the catalog, I was struck by the number of mourning pieces in the collection. I'm not crazy about mourning pictures, even embroidered ones, but then, I'm a stitcher.  Betty Ring's interest was in the history of the girls who stitched and the schools and regions that produced specific styles.  The information on the mourning samplers would provide some of the information she sought about the person who created the sampler.  In that context, the focus of part of her collection makes more sense.

On a number of blogs, there have been comments that it is a shame that the collection was broken up and the pieces dispersed.  In reading the tributes in the back of the auction catalog, it becomes obvious that this was Mrs. Ring's intent, that she intended at some point, to auction the collection herself. Sadly, she has been unable to understand and appreciate the impact this auction has made, bringing, hopefully, a wider appreciation for this type of art.

From the sublime to the ridiculous:

paula deen

I am a proud Southern cook. Actually, I have said I never want to live in a place where I can't get good pimiento cheese (also known as Southern peanut butter or Southern pate, depending on how highfalutin' you get), Duke's mayonnaise, or White Lily flour (even though I understand it has been taken over by others).  However, most proud Southern cooks do not cook like Paula Deen.

On occasion, we do go over the top.  These times are called Thanksgiving, Christmas, family reunions, and, if you're lucky enough to belong to a small church, dinner on the grounds (generally late spring or early summer celebration, usually held outdoors after the main service).  Then, we do pull out all the stops.  So do people in every other part of the country for celebratory times. The rest of the time, we focus on as many fresh vegetables and fruits as we can get (luckily we have a looooooong growing season).

We do not eat fried chicken or pig at every meal. (Actually, a lot of us don't fry meat at any time because you end up with grease splattered all over everything and it's a pain to clean up after.)  What I remember from growing up,  are tables laden with what are generally called "sides."  We love our vegetables.  I have church cookbooks (the absolute best cookbooks to have in my opinion) that have pages and pages of really delicious salads and vegetable sides.

I will admit, I make biscuits.  My recipe uses canola oil and skim milk.  I have never had a can of shortening or lard in my house.  And while I am a large and lovely woman, it's more likely due to sitting and stitching for hours on end and a sad Pepsi addiction than to what I eat.

So I'm really ticked off that all Southern food has been maligned because of one person's health issues.

Rant over.

New rant

I travel occasionally for work and for pleasure.  I have found that many hotels are starting to use duvets instead of the traditional sheet, lightweight blanket, bedspread, (and extra blanket in the chest of drawers).  I can understand that it's more economical to launder the duvet covers than bedspreads and blankets. I can understand that the housekeepers can make up a bed much faster if it has a duvet than the usual configuration.  

However, on my last few trips, I have found that I spend most of the night either throwing the duvet off (because I'm too hot) or pulling it up (because I'm too cold).  I have yet to find the happy medium.

Please do not tell me to change the thermostat in the room. I have come to the conclusion that they are there to simply make you think you have some control over the ambient air temp.  They do not actually have anything to do with the heating or air conditioning, or lack of either.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor annoyance. However, it is annoying. And what is a blog for, if not to reveal ones inner crankypants?

On that note, I'm going to put another load of laundry in, plop myself in the wing chair, and stick a needle into some linen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pilot #3 . . .and surprise, pilot #8

I just finished pilot #3, which Gay Ann described as periwinkle, and here are the threads:

It would be helpful to have daylight for photography purposes, but we're in the midst of another gray and gloomy day. Believe it or not, the colors for this one are really quite pretty and the heart itself is one of my favorites.

In just a few minutes, I am starting on a surprise pilot, NOT one Gay Ann described in her hints.  I really love the colors and threads for this one--which, to give you another little hint, actually involves TWO hearts.  Not one, two--does that make you wonder?

I do love those rosy colors!

In just a few more weeks, I'll be able to show the finished pieces that resulted from these threads.  They make me very happy--and it looks like an early Valentine's Day around here.

Meanwhile, I have been fighting off a nasty cold, which Dearly Beloved brought home and thought he should share with me.  There are many things he could bring home and share that would delight me. This was not one of them.  Thanks to better living through chemistry (otherwise known as Dayquil and Nyquil) I have been able to function, but I am ready to be DONE with this! Why are the relatively minor  irritations so . . .irritating?  I'm tired of being drippy, sneezy, achy, and grumpy.

And I need to locate another box of tissues so I can avoid sneezing on my Congress cloth.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pilot #5 (and #6, and #7)

I'm still working on pilots and obviously skipping around.

These are the threads for Pilot #5, which Gay Ann described as "pink."

Because of some conversations in her classroom at Shining Needle, Gay Ann made some additions and one heart morphed into three.  And each is prettier than the one before.

There are also pearls that go with this series but I didn't want to take them out of their sealed package for the photo and run the risk of spilling them everywhere--which, given my usual level of klutziness, would have happened. Instead, I waited until I needed them and very carefully opened the package inside a tray with relatively high sides so they would be contained.

This proved to be a brilliant move on my part.  Don't ask.  It could have been ugly.

With Pilots 1, 2, and 5, 6, and 7 completed, I have five finishes already for the New Year.  And I can't show anyone (well, except Dearly Beloved because he lives here) until Valentine's.

Now I am going to go mount another piece of Congress cloth so I can start another pilot.

And, by the way, after stitching Pilot #2, I can tell why Gay Ann called it "rust."  Just goes to show you can never tell what something is going to look like by seeing the threads alone.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pilot #2

And here are the threads for Pilot #2.  This is the one that Gay Ann described as "rust."

Please note that this one has no glitz or gleam--does that change what you thought of it before?

These colors and this design make me quite happy, by the way.  I just wish I could show you how pretty they are all together but I am valiantly keeping my lips zipped!  You'll just have to wait until February to see.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It came, it came, it came!!!

The catalog for Betty Ring's sampler auction at Sotheby's, that is.

It is a most beautiful book, with exquisite photography of each sampler along with the information about the stitcher when available and the sampler's provenance.  The samplers are grouped into schools or areas, which makes it helpful to see the development of style and design elements. And, btw, the catalog is currently available online--but you will want a copy of your own.

With my usual uncanny ability to target the most expensive item in any grouping, the samplers I fell in love with are the ones expected to go for the highest prices.  I do not believe that they will grace the walls of my abode at any time in the future--unless, of course, I buy a lottery ticket between now and the auction AND win the lottery.

However . . .There are samplers in my stash and in my WIP pile that are reproductions from the time and area of my favorite samplers which I can stitch.  I could spend a year on samplers reproduced from those stitched at the Balch School and in Rhode Island.  I have Rebekah French waiting the touch of my needle, similar in many ways to Sally Sanborn's sampler.  I have designs I can stitch from the Marsh school.  We're lucky that we can stitch reproductions ourselves, and have the joy of the designs hanging on our walls.  In our own way, we, too, can honor the girls and their teachers who created these samplers.

There are really lovely tributes to Mrs. Ring in the back of the catalog. Those of us who attended the Winterthur symposium last October heard more.  Mrs. Ring's papers and research materials will be housed at Winterthur--what a boon to future sampler researchers!

And what an incredible legacy. . .

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pilot #1

As you may know, I pilot stitch for Gay Ann Rogers.

As you also may know, she usually has a sale of heart designs in February.

And, if you follow her website or her classroom at Shining Needle, you may know that she published some teasers about her new designs recently.

And, I'm allowed to tease further.

Here are the threads for the first heart--the gray one:

Do these colors send you off in another direction from your earlier ideas about this heart? Can you imagine how they will be used?  Do you see a strong contemporary bent, or the richness of the past?  Or neither?

I am busily stitching away and cannot show anything further on this heart until the sale starts--but I will tell you this--I had no idea of the final design until it came my way.

In a couple of days, I'll show you the next array.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wailing and gnashing of teeth

I've been working on finishing today.

And, after I had spent about three hours with a sharp needle, working tiny little stitches to attach assembled part A to assembled part B, I thought of a way I could have put part A together that would have looked ever so much better, and a way I could have assembled part B in a way that would have made it easier to attach part A to it.

Normally, as we all know, if I'm not happy with something, I take it out and restitch it.  However, I am working with silk fabric that does not do well when ripped out.  And I am viewing this as a learning experience. I think the next time I have to do something like this, I'll have a better way to approach it.

I do not know why finishing is such a bear for me.  I used to sew all the time.  I made most of my clothes when I was in college, including jeans.  I made most of the clothes I wore when I started work. I made my maternity clothes.  I made overalls for the Big Kid when he was the Little Kid.  I made sundresses and shorts and tops for Baby Girl.  Then I stopped and got out of the habit. Of course, I stopped when I sewed my finger with the sewing machine and was traumatized by the whole experience.

The other problem is that I don't think I think in three-dimensions, and this particular piece has several dimensional sections to it.

Random Thought: I wonder if some fashion designers are also incapable of thinking in three dimensions, which is why runway models are so thin.

Anyway, on this last evening before going back to the regular work schedule, I think I'm going back to working on a sampler.

And, no, no pictures yet of my finishing progress--because I still have part C to assemble and attach.

Sigh . . .

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's been a lovely start to the New Year--we stayed in last night and saw the New Year in happily and quietly (Dearly Beloved on computer, me with needle in hand).

Today, Dearly Beloved is spending New Year's Day with what appears to be the start of a bad cold, so he has tottered back to bed.  I've been stitching--new start for the New Year is Mary Atwood from The Examplarery, although most of my time has been spent on a project we're doing in my EGA chapter as a long-term project, Time Well Spent from Sampler Cove.

I have thought about making resolutions and listing goals for finishes for the year.  I usually do.  After all this time, though, I've realized the resolutions have lasted about as long as it took me to write them down. So, this year, I'm simply going to state that I am going to find every spare moment I can and stitch during it.  That seems workable.

For the last week, I've tried to get some finish-finishing done and have two final pieces to show from 2011.

And here's the first one:

This is Berry, Berry, Very Small from Barbara Jackson, taught as one of the 2011 Celebration pieces at Jeanine's last year.

And, Ta-DA!

The Bluebird Needlecase!

The front cover, all spangled.

And the inside, with all those blankety-blank Nun stitch-edged pages! (Although now I admit it was worth it.)

I have tomorrow off and plan to dive back into the finishing basket.  And then I have a series of pilot pieces to stitch so I'm not sure how picture-heavy the next entries will be.  I can't really talk about any of those designs but I can say that they all make my little heart go pitty-pat and will make it VERY easy to keep my one New Year's resolution!