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, April 29, 2012

I'm dreaming of a white . . . Springtime?

For the last week, it seems that I have only used white threads.

I'm working on the whitework part of Time Well Spent.  I have white size 8 pearl, white size 12 pearl, and size 80 Dentelles.  After I started stitching, I discovered that there are three shades of white.

The OCD part of me is trying not to think about that.  I did go searching in the stash for both Anchor and DMC pearl cottons--and found that there were even more shades of white, even within the same brand and same color number.  Just goes to show that dye lots are indeed very, very different.

Then I started the Dresden whitework sampler from Shining Needle. More white.

Just for giggles, I compared the white floss to the white pearls and Dentelles. Guess what--yet another shade of white!

And I've been working on the framework for the door for Berkshire Revisited.

It's also white. White pearl cotton, size 5.

None of this photographs well at the moment. I think once more is worked in, and once I locate something blue to use as a backdrop, it will show up.

But until then, I will continue to stitch white. And more white. And even more white.

Until, it seems, all of my hair turns white.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When the party's over . . .

you have to clean up.

That's sort of the way I feel when I finish a piece of needlework.  There's housekeeping that should be done.

OK, I know I had "finished" the obligation stitching weeks ago. But as I said, I didn't like the way it looked, so it never moved from unfinished status to finished.

But now it is finished to my satisfaction, so  I need to take it off the stretcher bars and put it in the "to be framed" box. The stretcher bars need to go in the stretcher bar box. The tacks need to go into the tack box (and not a minute too soon--I need one of the pairs of stretcher bars and the tacks for No Place Like Home, the needlecase from Catherine Theron's class at Jeannine's.)

I need to put the threads away.  And I need to file the directions.

I have a question. What do you do with the instructions from a project that you've completed?  Because I can be a little OCD when it comes to needlework, I very carefully file the directions away. In a file cabinet. With labeled hanging files.

Unless it is an online class or other long-term project, in which case I print everything out, put the pages in page protectors, and install those in loose-leaf notebooks. And the notebooks go on bookcase shelves when the projects are finished.

A little OCD?

I do have a rationalization for the notebooks.  Somehow I never, ever get around to starting a class when it starts online. If I have everything printed out and organized, it's ever so much easier to get the project going when I finally have time to do it.

And, yes, I will admit to this bit of hoarding.  I have all the instructions for all the projects I have done. Except two.

There was a one-day class from an EGA region seminar years ago. The teacher was abysmal. Her directions were worse. I came home and threw everything, including the threads, into the trash.  The one thing I learned that day was to never take another class from that particular instructor.

The other was a pilot project for someone, who, thankfully, decided that teaching needlework was not what she wanted to do with her life.  I managed to complete the project, but I took the instructions out to the grill and ceremonially burned them so that no one would ever, ever, EVER attempt to stitch from them again.

So tonight I'm cleaning one more project away. Does this mean I can bring another project out of the stash and into the light?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I've been ripping stitches out.

Actually, I don't like the term "ripping" since it sounds like tearing and rending, accompanied by weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Well, maybe the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth holds true.

What I've really been doing is very carefully clipping and removing stitches that are not pleasing to my eye.

I've been working on the Purple Pansy class that Tanja Berlin taught for Shining Needle.  I have a stem that I like quite a lot,  a leaf that I'm pleased with, and a leaf that is not cooperating.  The uncooperative leaf has been removed twice now.  The piece is in time-out until I figure out how I want to tackle it.

What I've done so far is trace the shape on a piece of paper and I'm drawing in lines with colored pencils to see where I want it to go.  We'll see if that helps.

The other thing I've been undoing and redoing is the obligation piece from February and March. It has--er, had--a very wide and, to my eye, very heavy border that I didn't like with the delicacy of the inside of the design.  I've been sitting and staring at it for awhile, not sure what to do, but knowing I didn't like it as it was.  Finally I wanted the stretcher bars it's on for something else, so it needed to sort itself out.

Luckily, after I realized that the kit didn't have enough of the color called for in the original border, I had ordered another skein, so I didn't feel nervous about removing what was there. So it's all out and I'm in the process of stitching in a lighter, airier border.  I'm much happier with the way it looks. Somehow I didn't think it would take quite as long to re-stitch as it has, but that is the story of my life.

And, in the midst of all this, I ran across an ornament that just needs to have beads added to finish the design, so I'd like to do that this afternoon as well.

Week-ends are just too short.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bits and Pieces, Part Two

And in continuation:

Spaghetti gone!

You have no idea what a relief that is!

The inside border pattern is stitched on No Place Like Home.

Those two little dots in the upper left hand corner are spiral trellis berries.  If I counted accurately, there are 109 berries--78 on this part and the rest scattered throughout the "innards" and scissors fob.

Now, do I go ahead and do all the berries--76 more of them--while I'm on a roll, assuming I'm on a roll with them? Do I thread up another needle and work the foliage between the berries as I go? Do I put this down entirely and answer the siren call of Mary Atwood?

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of physical deterioration, I had a root canal this morning.  It was not a bad experience, actually, as dental procedures go. There is something, however,  about the smoke rising and the sound of the drill that make me do long, slow cleansing breaths. Who would have thought that Lamaze training would come in handy this many years after childbearing?

Tomorrow I get to go see if my second cyborg eye is seated properly.  If things come in threes, I will have seen a doctor for a sinus infection, an endodontist for a root canal, and an opthamologist for a cyborg eye.  In less than two weeks. I hope this is the end of it for awhile.

Dearly Beloved just reminded me that I have a dentist appointment to see about getting a crown for what's left of the tooth.

Sigh . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bits and Pieces

I've been fighting off a sinus infection.

I was beginning to think the sinus infection was going to win.

Particularly when I had to take a work-related trip in the midst of antibiotics and steroids instead of curling up in a miserable, head-achy heap.

And, yes, I would like some cheese with this whine.

This means that the sum total of needlework I did all last week (until yesterday, that is) resulted in this:

This is the very, very, very beginning of the inside border on "No Place Like Home," the needlebook class I took from Catherine Theron at Jeannine's a couple of months ago.  It was my travel piece and this is all I managed to accomplish in my hotel room the night I was away.

After that, I staggered home from work every night, nibbled at dinner, and collapsed in bed at 9 or 9:30.

Things got brighter yesterday--maybe because I was through with the antibiotics and maybe because the infection is finally cleared out--but quite probably because I took a class from Debbie Stiehler with my ANG chapter. We are piloting the two-day class she is teaching at ANG's national seminar this year.

And talk about spaghetti!! Just look at this:

(Sorry for the dim picture. We have no sunshine today.)

I love taking Debbie's classes. Like taking a class from Carole Lake, you find you laugh as much as you stitch.

And I always get a tip or a technique that make it worth the price of admission. Yesterday's was a way to select strands of overdyed threads to really assure a random color pattern when you want to avoid color matching.

In addition, Debbie has a way of choosing stitches that create the effect of architecture (like this doorway framing) or fabric (any one of her fan designs) that are not overly difficult to create while entertaining to stitch. 

And then she adds interesting surface stitching with silk ribbon and textured threads--there will be a climbing rose on one side of this design and arborvitae on the other.  And it will have a real live door knocker and door knob attached.

Added to that, I got to spend the day with some of my very favorite people.  As one of our members says, it's like a therapy group with laughter.

So, all in all, I feel much better than I have in almost two weeks. While it might be true that it's a result of better living through chemistry, I think it was more an effect of taking a needlework class with a delightful teacher and spending the day with friends!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. It's a beautiful time of the year, a time for new beginnings.

I wonder why we don't make resolutions in the spring, instead of gloomy January.  It seems, when everything is blooming and beautiful, that it would be easier to maintain our wishes for change.

On to stitching:

I decided to work the bands on Time Well Spent that are basically repeats of earlier motifs. This gets me to the beginning of the whitework section, which will be the next section we stitch at my EGA chapter.  As I was rolling up the linen, it struck me that the colors I chose look like Easter eggs.

And now I am off to the kitchen to start cooking the Easter feast.  We have just the two of us here today but we have had the Easter Egg Hunt narrative from the parents of The Flash.  At three, he now gets the concept--and WOW, there is CHOCOLATE inside the eggs!!

On that note, I need to get the ham in the oven.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Mysterious Mary Atwood

I just finished the two bands I had started right before I went to Jeannine's--about seven weeks ago.  What happens to the time?

These bands have something I've never seen in a 17th century repro--there are several sections where you stitch over an existing stitch with another color.  This picture may show it (or again, may not--look closely).

See the cream thread on the stems with the green peeking out from under it?

I wonder why Mary stitched this way.  Was she trying to keep her double running pattern true and just stitched what she needed so she could?  Did she decide she wanted the cream in those spots rather than the green and was too lazy or time-deprived to take it out?  Or was she trying to add another color to her sampler?

This sampler, like Loara Standish and Mary Hollingworth, has a very limited color palette, basically two greens, the cream, a blue and very small amounts of two shades of brown.  Maybe she thought by stitching one color on top of another, it would give her more variety.

Another mystery that may never be solved . . .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Instead of blogging

I've been stitching.

Band 9 of Time Well Spent turned out to be very labor intensive:

And here's the other thing I've been working on, the Hari-Kuyo Needlebook from Susan Elliott of Plays with Needles:

I learned a lot from this experience.  Susan is an excellent teacher, and I will take another class from her if she offers one.  She uses videos to teach--just like being there--with written directions to back up the online lessons.  Now that I've practiced on this one, I wish she would make the videos available--maybe a DVD?--and supplies--so I can make another one, learning from my mistakes. Like Pooh, I can be a bear of very little brain, so I need to watch things over and over when it's a new technique for me.

Other than learning that Susan is an excellent teacher, I learned some other things:

  • Apparently I am incapable of sewing a straight line with a sewing machine.  Even if I draw the line in with pencil.
  • I cannot avoid being a klutz no matter how careful I am.  You're warned to keep the ties out of the way when sewing front to back. Apparently I also needed to be warned about this when sewing the needle pages into the book--but let's keep that a secret just between us, shall we?
  • The felt pages need to be trimmed so they line up perfectly, but I fear that I will start trimming and end up with nothing, despite Susan's excellent suggestions as to how to this--so I think I'll leave them for a bit. (Remember the klutz thing I have going.)
  • If I'm going to do any serious sewing or finishing, it is time to put my 1948 Singer out to pasture and invest in a new sewing machine.
My poor old machine, which has worked its way through making skirts out of old jeans, a blue zillion peasant tops, maternity clothes, baby clothes, overalls for the Big Kid and sundresses for Baby Girl, is showing its advanced age. The tension cannot be adjusted so that it will hold, the foot pedal groans when pressed, and needles for it are hard to find.  The last time I took it in for service, the nice man behind the counter told me that they didn't have anybody who could work on a machine of its age--and that was several years ago.

I can't decide what I want to pull out of the basket tonight.  I need to take a day or two away from Time Well Spent, and Mary Atwood has been in limbo for far too long--but then, it would be nice to do something small so I could have a quick finish. Maybe I should just close my eyes and reach and grab.  I'll let you know what pops out.