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, December 31, 2013

Farewell to 2013

It's almost midnight, and time for the ceremonial dumping of the ort jar.

Times Square may have a Waterford crystal ball, but I have beautiful threads (and a bent thumb tack) cascading into the waste paper basket at midnight.

As a needleworker, I'm much happier to be here, with embroidery in hand, than out with the madding (and maddening) crowds.

Happy New Year to everyone--and a brand new year of projects old and new!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If at first . . .

I finally got a relatively un-fuzzy picture of Eve in the Garden:

This has been a very soothing piece to stitch, simply working tent stitch according to the chart. I love the shading used and will be using these colors again.

Today we decided to go see the latest installment in The Hobbit movie series. I am still of the opinion that Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, is the best reason to see the movies. Other than his performance, I think the movies are overly long and overly fond of using orcs at every possible moment. I loved what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings, but The Hobbit, not so much. I felt the same with the way George Lucas handled Star Wars. My geek comments for the day . . .then there was a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up oysters for a very late lunch of oyster stew . . .and now we're back home and fed. Dinner may be late.  Or it may be cheese and crackers and fruit.

I had thought about taking the Christmas tree down today, but I feel like this poor tree hasn't had enough time to be appreciated, so it's staying up for at least another day. I know I'll have to work late tomorrow, so it may be New Year's Eve before we pack this Christmas away. Mother used to say Christmas comes if you're ready or not, and this is one of those years when I didn't feel like I was ready. My Christmas mojo never appeared. I never felt like it had time to appear.

That, however, is going to change in 2014. One of my online friends and I were chatting about some of the gorgeous trees we've seen on blogs this year, amply adorned with handmade ornaments. We both have stitched ornaments, but nothing like some of the trees we've seen this year.  Well, said she, if we both stitched--and finished--at least one ornament a month, that would add at least a dozen to our own displays.  Is this, said I, a challenge?  And then she triple-dog-dared me. (If you watch "A Christmas Story" every year, you know why this is such a challenge.) So I am adding a finished Christmas ornament, at least one a month, to The Overly Ambitious List.

I have lost my mind.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Coloring inside the lines

For the last couple of days, I've been filling in the colors in the cartouche in Tricia Nguyen's Eve in the Garden of Eden.

I'd show you a picture, but for some reason, every one I took has been blurry. I'm giving up for tonight.

But it's going really well, and I love the colors. I'm definitely using some of them when I start the panels for my casket.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ann Lawle from Scarlet Letter

I stitched in the framework for Ann Lawle's first band last night:

This is going to be my Scarlet Letter sampler for 2014. If I stitch a band a month, I'll have the sampler finished by the end of the year. I say that now. Some of the bands have more going on than entire projects I've worked in the past. Even more than projects I have going on now!

This band is worked in cutwork. The original had birds which are upside down to the rest of the sampler. That has always bothered me until I decided to stitch them right side up--after all, my house is not historically accurate to the 17th century, nor are the materials I'm using to stitch this sampler.

I did realize as I was nearing the end of the framework that the proportions of the design, according to the written directions, are different from the way the model for the reproduction is photographed. I also realized that the way the cutwork is charted won't fit the way the directions indicate that it should. I heaved a sigh, then decided I could make it work and, even better, could make it work without ripping out what I'd already done. As far as I'm concerned, that's a win-win situation. However, you won't see the solution until the very end. I don't like to cut threads until I've finished the rest of a sampler simply because it makes the linen wobbly. My stitches look better if my linen is taut, so I wait to do cutwork until the end.

Today, though, I'm in the mood for color, so I'm going to work on filling in some of the sections in Eve in the Garden of Eden. It's my last day of vacation . . . sigh . . .after the week-end, it's back to work. No more playing in the stash until all hours . . .but since working pays for my habit, I am thrilled to have a job!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Overly Ambitious List

Since we had had our Christmas get-together on Sunday, and Dearly Beloved had to work, I had Christmas Day to myself.

And what, I said to myself, would make this a perfect Christmas if I can't have family around? (Keep in mind that I spent about an hour on the phone with the Big Kid and The Flash on Christmas Eve--The Flash kept popping out of bed to announce that he needed a snack or a glass of milk--then spent probably longer than that with Baby Girl on Christmas Day.) Well, for a needleworker, the Perfect Christmas is spent with needlework and music and Christmas movies on DVD.

I think I mentioned several days ago that I had an overly ambitious list of projects I want to stitch in 2014. So yesterday I went stash diving to make sure I had all the parts and bits for some of the things on the list together.

And it includes:

This is the beginning of the framework for a canvas piece call "Journey," which was a cyberworkshop taught by David McCaskill for ANG a couple of years ago. At the time, I was not feeling the love for canvas. I had stitched the center medallion and put it aside. When we had one of our "water events" last month, it floated to the surface. Last night, I started working on the rest of the framework for the design and enjoyed it quite a bit. So it's in the rotation.

Ann Lawle will be my 2014 entry in Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year. I think I'm going to spend this afternoon setting up the outline for the cutwork section at the top. Once it's started, I can move into the polychrome bands below. I've found it better to wait to cut threads until the majority of a sampler is embroidered.

Lovely Hannah Thornbush, started as one of Essamplaire's online classes but now available as a kit (don't say I never enabled anyone!). I do love this sampler and can't remember why it was pushed aside, but this may be its year to see a completion. I think I'm about a third of the way along.

If I manage to finish Hannah in a timely manner, I'll go back to Examplarery's Mary Atwood, which is about halfway to the finish line.

I have three online classes which have either just started or are starting, and I want to at least get them framed up and ready to go before I head back to work on Monday. From the left:

A Knot Garden by Catherine Jordan, ANG Cyberclass
Jacobean Splendour's kit from the cyberclass currently taught by Alison Cole
Child's Play, by Jane-Ellen Balzuweit for Shining Needle Society

Two different sets of smalls from Jackie du Plessis. I had originally planned to put only the Fair Maiden's Work Bag on the list, but then the carrier and accessories for the Pocket for Posies needle case arrived and that was it, no question at all.

My resolution on smalls this year is that it can't go in the finishing basket when the embroidery is done. It has to be finished. Period. Hopefully, although it isn't formally on the Overly Ambitious List, finishing will also be accomplished this year.  Again, if I'm very efficient in my needlework this year, I will add Betsy Morgan's Toy Chest and Ellen Chester's Lady's Work Box to the list.

The barest bones' beginning of Eve in the Garden of Eden from Tricia Nguyen. I also need to add the small designs from the first Cabinet of Curiosities kit to the list, but I'm going to work on this first.

Morning Has Broken has not dropped off the face of the earth, it's going on next year's list as well.

All the strawberries are stitched in, but I still haven't pressed out that big crease in the middle.

Originally, after I managed to get all the outline for the border finished over Thanksgiving, I had visions of working all the strawberries and flowers and birds and bees in the outer edge before Christmas. Then I was going to embroider the middle during my week off from work. Best laid plans . . .between going to Williamsburg and taking three classes, decking the halls, baking and cleaning and doing all that other holiday prep along with working some long days, I didn't get much needlework done.  OK, said I, I will get that border embellished while on vacation, then work on the center after the New Year.

Well, that didn't happen either. I had Issues with Spiral Trellis. I occasionally do have issues with Spiral Trellis, but normally, if I am alone and can get my rhythm going, I can do a creditable stitch. For some reason, I could not get my tension right and had some kind of loopy, loose, ridiculous looking blob instead of a nice, neat Spiral Trellis.

Baby Girl suggested that perhaps the fact I started this part of the design at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve could have had an effect.

She is probably right, but I think I was looking for an excuse to go stash-diving.

Anyway, these are the projects that have taken up residence in the stitching basket, which has returned downstairs. I'm not saying I will be able to avoid temptation or be led astray by other pretty faces, but this is what I'm starting the New Year off with.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

A little more Christmas . . .

Just when I thought my Christmas was pretty much over, this arrived!

Oh, such pretty colors . . .

Last spring the Swan Sampler Guild offered a class with Jackie du Plessis. While you had to be present to take the class, they also made another class piece available for "away-Swans".  I ordered the Pretty Posey etui at the time, but Jackie also made a set of accessories available to go with it. If you were very lucky and quick to respond, she had a limited number of carriers available. I was lucky and (as I pretty much always am when Jackie's projects are available) I was quick to respond.

And today, everything arrived, beautifully packaged as always.

My ambitious list of projects to work in 2014 just became more ambitious.

And I am almost giddy with anticipation!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strawberries in December

The only way to get local strawberries in December in this hemisphere is to stitch them.  So I did.

I had really hoped to get farther along with Morning Has Broken by now, but I've been getting ready for Christmas instead of stitching. Actually, we had our family get-together this week-end. Baby Girl arrived Friday night, and cooking and baking ensued. Then The Saint brought Mother up today and we feasted and exchanged gifts and then packed everyone up and sent them on their way home. After that, I fell over in the wing chair and have been staring into space ever since.

As I've been staring into space, thoughts of needlework have been dancing in my head. I've been trying to decide whether or not I want to work only on Morning until it's finished, or if I want to rotate among several projects in the new year. I have an ambitious list of projects I'd like to complete in the coming year. I always have an ambitious list of projects I'd like to complete in the coming year, which usually derails about the second week of January.  Much like the days when I made resolutions--I don't do that any longer. But I do still make lists.

And, since I have an entire week of vacation in which to play with my projects, and since we have had our family get-together so Christmas itself will be quiet (and since we have enough left-overs from today's feast to carry us for several days), I have nothing to keep me from spending the next seven days with a needle in my hand.

I just have to decide what project or projects to stick that needle into.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All the Leaves are Green . . .

(apologies to the Mamas and the Papas)

All the leaves on Morning Has Broken are now filled in:

 Wonder what has caused those big creases in the middle . . .there may be some judicious pressing in the near future.

I've been under the weather a bit lately, and that's the reason for the down time for the blog. Not much to talk about when you spend the week-end wrapped in a blanket being generally grumpy. I have been lucky in one way, though . . .I was supposed to have lunch with a dear friend, followed by a stroll through one of the local malls, admiring everything and buying just about nothing. However, Friday evening as I was pondering whether or not I could heave myself up and out of the wing chair without heaving otherwise, she called. Her baby boy arrived home from his first semester at college, bringing her all his dirty laundry (she's planning to burn his sheets) and a virus.  To be as delicate as possible, she had been spending a good deal of time closely inspecting one of the fixtures in her bathroom.  As we were both unwell, we did not do the mall stroll this year.

However, Dearly Beloved and I finally made it through Tree Trauma II (half the string of lights burned out--right in the middle of the tree--as soon as it was draped around the tree, meaning that the lights had to be redone--luckily before the ornaments went on). Dearly Beloved was not happy, but he was not about to argue with a crabby woman wrapped in a blanket and feeling unwell.

And the halls are decked. Most of the presents are purchased, but not wrapped. I start the baking tomorrow. Baby Girl is arriving Friday night for our early Christmas, to be held over the week-end, with Mother and The Saint arriving for dinner and presents on Sunday. Then I have a glorious week at home to sit by the tree and stitch. And stitch. And stitch. And sleep late. And watch old movies. I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to that!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leafing out

I came back home with many, many things to stitch, but before I play with those projects, I want to finish this one:

I've started filling in the leaves on Morning Has Broken. Being the boring and methodical stitcher I am, it's very likely I'll continue filling in the leaves.

I had planned to work on that Christmas ornament, the one in the series I was working on while we were in Williamsburg, the one that I didn't have enough green Kreinik to finish. I still don't. I have that color, but in the wrong size. I think this is a sign. I think I need to set this aside for awhile.

I do plan to set up an assembly line on Saturday for the six I've stitched so they can go on the Christmas tree this year.

And that brings up the Christmas tree . . .

We drove home from Williamsburg on Monday. We didn't have to deal with snow or ice. We did have to deal with torrential rain. Lots of torrential rain. Gallons of torrential rain. On more than one occasion, Dearly Beloved was driving based on the taillights of the truck ahead of us since the visibility was so bad. We figured if the truck suddenly vanished, we should stop because it would mean it had driven off the road and into a swamp or something.

Anyway, our plan to get home in late afternoon and go to the tree lot to pick out this year's tree was eliminated. It took us a little over eight hours to do what usually takes a little over six, so by the time we got home, I needed to do some laundry while Dearly Beloved unloaded the car and went to pick up take-out for dinner. Actually I was surprised he was willing to get back in the car, even for food.

So we went last night after I got home from work. We found one that fits our corner and that has a nice shape.

Hence commenced the Tree Trauma.

We have a wonderful tree stand with a large water reservoir. Allegedly it is easy to use--you just put the tree in the center and screw four big screws up against the tree trunk. However, someone needs to hold the tree while someone else screws in the screws.

I was elected to hold the tree. Apparently I am not a competent tree holder since the tree seems to be crooked. I could mention that someone screwed the screws in farther on one side than the other, but I have learned when to poke a Grumpy Bear and when to let things go. This was one of those times when one doesn't poke the Grumpy Bear. At least we have it tilted toward the corner and not out into the room so when it falls over, it won't hit the floor.

After that, it seemed to be wise to not even mention dragging out the boxes of ornaments and the lights, especially not the lights.

So the house has a wonderful aroma and it looks like a Fraser Fir just grew up out of the floor.

With the water damage in this side of the room, it wouldn't surprise me if a tree did grow out of the floor.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's over for another year . . .

Christmas in Williamsburg is over for another year.

It really seemed to zoom by this year. I know the teachers probably don't feel this way--they've been working hard--but it feels like there should be at least another day or two.

I still don't have any embroidery to show. I spent the day taking notes again.  Then I came back to the room, decided to work on the ornament I brought with me, thinking I could come close to finishing it tonight . . . only to find I didn't have enough of the green Kreinik braid to finish one of the motifs.

I think there is some of the same color and same size left over from one of the other ornaments. I'll find that out when I'm back at home.  I can always go stash diving. With years of Christmas stitching behind me, I'm sure to find something that can be used.

Anyway, in the morning we'll brave the weather and the interstate and head back to reality.

I'd rather stay in the 18th century with a needle in my hand.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Millions of stitches . . .

that I want to stitch . . .and this is what I have to show for two days of class:

I also have a small flower stitched on another piece of fabric, but I can't lay my hands on it at the moment.

This always happens when I go to a workshop. I never get much stitched in class because I'm usually too busy taking notes and listening to the teacher.  There are people who can both stitch and listen, but I usually want to write things down and I've yet to figure out how to write and stitch simultaneously.

There are also people who go back to their rooms and stitch after class. Dearly Beloved seems to think that, since he has had to entertain himself all day, I should go gallivanting with him. And we should go out to dine. I suppose that's only fair.

As usual, though, I've been so inspired by what I've seen and heard that my stitching mojo is on high. Despite the fact that we don't yet have a Christmas tree or the wreath on the door and we haven't done any Christmas shopping, I plan to plop myself down every evening for at least two hours during the season and ply my needle.

After all, Christmas is going to arrive on December 25th whether I am ready or not.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Early Bird Class (and some wretched excess)

Lovely Early Bird Class with Jackie du Plessis--a needleroll that will accompany tomorrow's Fair Maiden Etui.

And there are some extra goodies that go with the set:

Ok, I will admit that I really love prissy, pretty things. I tend to be very tailored and professional in attire in reality, but in my fantasy life I'm lounging on a chaise wearing ruffles and lace, sipping a mint julep, and drawling.

(If I ever tried that in reality, I'd sew one of the ruffles to the back of my needlework and spill the mint julep into my project bag. I'd still drawl, but that's due to living here all my life.)

Anyway this whole thing just jumps up and down and yoo-hoos at that prissy person, so I'm very happy.

Then there was shopping in the boutique, which was open only to seminar attendees this afternoon.

This is the wretched excess part of the title:


These are the best pix I can get, considering dim hotel lighting and even dimmer, grayer skies outside. I was originally sort of sorry I had signed up for two classes since it means my schedule is too tight to go play in Williamsburg, but the weather is so dismal I think I'll be happier playing in silks and linens.

I do not believe I need to visit the boutique again. I believe I will probably do it anyway.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas in Williamsburg

We're heeeeeeeere . . .

It's time for our annual trek to Williamsburg so I can attend classes offered through Christmas in Williamsburg. The events start tomorrow. I look forward to this all year and it flies by so fast, but at least I know I have the next four days to stitch my fingers to the bone.

I did bring something to work on in the room tonight before classes start tomorrow. It's the next to last ornament in the series I worked on during November.

And here you see the center, which is all that's going to happen tonight. We got up at five and walked out of the house at six and landed on the Jamestown side of the ferry ride at noon and have been walking and shopping and eating and touring ever since. Since I suffered from little-kid-on-the-night-before-Christmas syndrome last night (kept waking up to see if it was morning yet), I am about to go facedown on the keyboard.

I'd rather go facedown on the bed.  So I am.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bordering on Insanity

I said I wanted to get the leaf-and-vine border for Catherine Theron's Morning Has Broken stitched while I had a four-day week-end.

And I did.

Much to my surprise, I managed to get the long-arm cross and saw tooth borders stitched in as well. By the way, the vine-and-leaf is not plain ole cross stitch--it's actually made up of Smyrna crosses.

Now I get to do the fun stuff in the middle!

However, for what's left of today, I'm going to deck some halls and fa-la-la.

I will say, I don't like it when Thanksgiving is this late--there's simply no time to enjoy the season when you have so few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't care if the malls and other public areas had Christmas decorations up before Halloween candy was off the shelves--we have a policy of decorating only after the Thanksgiving feast is digested.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A stitching Thanksgiving

I was thinking about today's blog and listing all the things I'm thankful for--like a warm home, food to eat, a job that supports my habit, modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing--and most of all, Dearly Beloved, the Big Kid and his wife, Baby Girl, and the Flash--but then, I thought, we're all grateful for family and quality of life. And this is a stitching blog.

So here are the things in my little needlework world that I'm thankful for today:

  • Progress, again, on Morning Has Broken. These are the two center cartouches in the vine and leaf border, plus a little of the sawtooth border which goes around the whole thing. If I plop myself in the wing chair for the next few days and really work at this, I can get the whole border done and then can spend my time filling in the fun parts.
  • Enough stash to last several lifetimes, so boredom will not be an issue any time soon
  • Inspirations to try techniques new to me, found online and in magazines and books. This is truly an amazing time to be an embroiderer.
  • In-person guilds and online communities of embroiderers, all of whom have something to offer
  • Brilliant teachers and designers who constantly challenge and encourage with exquisite projects and techniques
  • Online classes that make it ever so easy to learn
  • Blogging, which has reconnected me to an old friend and brought me a new one who is just as addicted to all this as I am!
  • And my mail carrier, who delivers goodies that make my stitcher's heart go pitty-pat and my stitcher's fingers itch to pick up my needle.

Yesterday, my mail carrier brought me two wonderful new projects:

Peace on Earth, this year's ornament from Barbara Jackson. 

I stitched her "Merrily, Merrily" last year in time to get it on the tree. That's the goal for this year as well. Class starts tomorrow!

The materials for Jacobean Splendour, a cyber workshop from Alison Cole.

I've wiped more drool off the keyboard after viewing Alison Cole's website than I care to admit and I'm really excited to start this class as well. Periodically, I take my life in my hands and pick up a sharp needle, and this is one of those times. I will keep you apprised of my progress. I should perhaps buy stock in band-aids.

The needlepoint ornament series has not been forgotten. As we have already had our family feast, it's just Dearly Beloved and moi for Thanksgiving today, so I thought about setting up my assembly line on the kitchen table and starting.

The finishing directions call for use of a hot glue gun.

A klutz should never be allowed near a hot glue gun.

I rummaged around to find my Allene's thick tacky designer glue--the one in the pink bottle--since it holds as well as hot glue and doesn't run the risk of blistering my fingers or other parts--only to find that  I have a virtually empty bottle.

If you think I'm going to risk life and sanity diving into the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy for a bottle of glue, you need to rethink. Instead, I'm planning to stitch until it's time to sling the turkey breast into the oven. And then I plan to stitch after dinner. And then I plan to stitch tomorrow. And the next day. And the next . . .there's a LOT to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Trudging along . . .

I did not mean to neglect the blog for a week, but it's one of the busier times at work for me. After spending the whole day staring at a computer screen, the last thing I've been able to do is stare at one again when I'm (finally, at long last) home.

In fact there have been a couple of days when I've arrived home, done the dinner thing, plopped down in the wing chair, and stared into space--or at the TV, which may be the same thing--until bedtime. It's been a little disconcerting.

That doesn't mean I haven't stitched at all. I've done a little . . .very little . . .especially considering that I'm currently working on little Christmas ornaments.  This is what I managed to do since the last posting.

There are two more in the series, but I had to stop stitching yesterday. Tugging the heavy metallic thread through the canvas was making my fingers sore--I am such a fragile flower!

I'm beginning to feel that linen is calling me. After all, I've now spent a couple of months playing with canvas. Morning Has Broken has come back downstairs, and I dug around in the stash until I unearthed Ann Lawle from Scarlet Letter. I think I'm going to stitch on samplers through the long Thanksgiving week-end.

After braving the grocery store this morning to get our Thanksgiving Day provisions, I'm not going out in a crowd on Black Friday, for sure!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sleigh Ride!

And another ornament--and again, it took only two evenings to stitch.

There are supposed to be snowflakes behind the sleighs. There used to be. I stitched them in and decided that my sleighs looked like they were dancing on dotted Swiss. It just looked a little too busy.

Why does it take longer to take stitches out than to stitch them in?

Anyway, this is going with the other one for a grand finish-finishing when I get a few more done.  The canvas for the next ornament is already on the stretcher bars and ready to go. And it's supposed to be a gray, gloomy week-end, so it will be perfect for stitching.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gettin' my Fa-la-la on!

Two evenings--that's all this took--just two evenings!

After I got the center motif finished--and remembered how much I despise working with Frosty Rays--this was a delight to stitch.

I was thinking about going ahead and finish-finishing, but then I came to my senses. I have seven more ornaments in this series, and it makes a whole lot more sense to wait until I get a few more stitched. Then I could do an assembly line finish of a bunch of them at one time.

(And this is absolutely not a way to avoid finish-finishing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doin' the Hokey Pokey

Dearly Beloved was both amazed and amused when I tottered from my chair and performed the Hokey Pokey this afternoon, with gestures, lyrics, and complete movement. I will never be on Dancing with the Stars, but it was definitely a happy dance.

In the Mood Blue is done!

I've been asked about the thread used for the "B's."  The blue one is worked in a metallic thread. The others are worked in AVAS and an overdyed silk. The strands were gently persuaded to lie parallel to each other by use of a laying tool. I've been thinking that they perhaps look a little too heavy and blocky, so I've been thinking of taking them out and either changing the alphabet or using only two strands to make them airier. I'm going to set this somewhere where I can look at it from a distance and see if it still bothers me enough to redo.

However, it's all beaded and bordered and I'm ready to go on to something else.

As I'm still in a canvas mood, I'm going to work on some Christmas ornaments that I found in the stash. They're part of a series designed by Tony Minieri. I stitched the first two years ago and then was distracted by something else. It's time to get a couple more done--I'm not going to say I'll get the whole series finished before this Christmas.

It's a good thing I had decided to do Christmas ornaments since my dear, faithful, and aged Grip-It frame stand has lost its grip. It's had a hard time holding up its head for awhile, but I could prop the edge of the stretcher bars on the arm of the chair and we could muddle along. Now the head  will only tighten up on one side, which meant that occasionally the frame would plunge to the floor, startling me and causing Dearly Beloved to wake with a start. Excuse me, he was not asleep on the corner of the couch, he was simply "resting his eyes." The man has the most rested eyes in the fifty United States.

Anyway, he has been tinkering with it for the last couple of days while I've been stitching away on In the Mood. He's swapped out screws and sanded things and fiddled with the joints and finally pronounced that it was beyond aid.

Somewhere there is a back-up stand, disassembled and in a box, that I can use for awhile. I'm leaning towards getting a K's Creations stand eventually, but that will likely wait until next year.

Meanwhile, I'm off to set up a new canvas.  Don't you just love starting new projects?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lace and embellishments

Nope, I didn't stitch all of this. Most of it is a piece of lace that has been stitched down to the canvas, then held down by embellishing stitches.  It was a pain to do, and yes, I'm going to fix that corner with the loose thread as soon as I post this.

I wish we had had step-by-step photos showing the best way to stitch this. Actually, there are several areas where this kind of instruction would have been extremely useful. Most of the online teachers provide that level of information and it really helps when you're not in a face-to-face class.

On the domestic front, we now have a dishwasher that is installed and functioning. I almost kissed the plumber who hooked it up--then I almost kissed the dishwasher. I managed to restrain myself, but it was a close thing.

I may love to stitch things from the 17th century (the current project notwithstanding) but I definitely love my modern conveniences!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sneezing and stitching

Well, obviously I will not be posting every day in November.  I am not going to whine about my cold, other than the fact that I have all but lost my voice. This is entertaining Dearly Beloved to no end.

Despite having to stitch with one hand while I blow my nose with a tissue in the other, I have managed to stitch another section of In the Mood.

The end is nigh . . .not mine (I hope) but I'm soon to see the end of this project. The temptation is great to make a giant pot of vegetable soup for the week-end and toil on this until it is complete. There are two more motifs and a bunch of borders, then the beading.

And then I get to decide what project to bring downstairs next. I am leaning towards Christmas ornaments. As I have already had my Thanksgiving, I'm getting in the Fa-la-la mood early.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday and Achoo!

If it weren't November, and if I hadn't committed to a fellow blogger that I, too, would blog every day in November, there would be no entry tonight.  I believe John succeeded in sharing his respiratory malady since I now have a scratchy throat and runny nose. I'm sneezing. A lot. To the point it feels like my eyeballs are rolling around in my head with the force of the sneezes.

His has metamorphosed into laryngitis--or he talked too much this week-end. It could be either or both.

Meanwhile, I'm going to chug some orange juice and go to bed.

Needless to say, there is no stitching tonight.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


We have had our very, very, very early Thanksgiving, and it was lovely.

The turkey was absolute perfection if I do say so myself. And almost everything else was devoured down to the flowers on the plates.

I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not, as I was hoping for leftovers to take care of meals for the next few days. However, I do have enough turkey for several sandwiches and possibly a pot pie.

The Flash absolutely charmed his great-grandmother. This is no surprise. She was prepared to be charmed.

And now,everyone has cleared out, the kitchen is clean, the turkey roaster is soaking, and my feet are up.

I've even managed to stitch for about an hour.

I have three sections left to stitch, then the borders to fill in, then the beads to add at the very end. This section does have stones attached, but they needed to be added before the area behind them was filled in.

And, thanks to a friend who came up with a spool of the border thread I had run out of, I can see that finish in the very near future.

I have to say, that extra hour came in very handy this morning! But now, I think I may be heading to bed. The last three days have been packed to the brim and I think I'm ready to fall back into a routine for awhile. Who knew that going to work could seem restful?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

SO glad there's an extra hour tonight!

I went to the workshop this morning, leaving Dearly Beloved to launder towels and sheets and to run the dishwasher.

The Big Kid, Wife, and The Flash went to the Renaissance Festival, where the Big Kid came in second in the archery contest.  Those Welsh genes came in handy!

Dearly Beloved discovered that the dishwasher was pouring water all over the floor. He called for aid and assistance.

We need a new dishwasher.

I arrived home a little early from the workshop. That helped since the stuff that was in the dishwasher didn't get clean before the dishwasher pooped out on us. I washed dishes.

Baby Girl arrived and was swept into this latest Domestic Disaster.

She observed that this should be it for awhile. First the water heater flooded the hall, then the next door neighbors flooded the living room, and now the dishwasher flooded the kitchen. If things come in threes, we should have had our water problems resolved.

The kitchen floor is cleaner than I think it has ever been before. Apparently dishwasher detergent and extremely hot water is the secret. I have been scrubbing a grape juice stain for years with everything known to mankind including straight bleach. It's gone now.

The Big Kid family arrived triumphant and were fed dinner.

We have chopped and mixed and baked and chilled. All we have to do tomorrow is take care of the turkey.

And wash dishes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Busy, busy day . . .

The Flash is in town and in bed, much to the great relief of his parental units.

Their trip down was punctuated by heavy traffic and heavy rains. It is nothing that a good night's sleep won't cure, so they have been sent off to rest and recuperate.

While they were traveling, I was attending a workshop with Betsy Morgan.  And I came home with something totally stitched and assembled.

 This is the thimble holder that goes with The Toy Chest Etui. It's a stitched version of one of those ball and cup games. I need to redo the hedebo loop that holds it closed. The first time I made it, it was too small. The second time it was too big. Hopefully the third time it will be just right. If not, then Goldilocks has some explaining to do.

Tomorrow I have another day at the workshop, and the Big Kid is taking his family to the Renaissance Faire.  Baby Girl is arriving sometime tomorrow afternoon. We are having dinner together, then we're going to start putting together our very early Thanksgiving feast, scheduled for Sunday.

Given all this activity, I do believe I'm going to settle down for some rest and recuperation myself.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stressed? STRESSED?????

I'm a wee bit stressed out at the moment.

Months ago, I signed up for a workshop with Betsy Morgan, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Then, the Big Kid announced that he would like to bring the family for a visit this same week-end so he could compete in an archery contest at the Renaissance Faire. This is not a problem, since he will, of course, bring The Flash with him. They wouldn't arrive until late Friday afternoon and would be attending the Ren Faire all day Saturday, so I could go to my workshop guilt-free, mostly.

And then we were discussing the holidays, and, as usual, everyone except me has to work either on them or the day after them. It occurred to me that we could have an early Thanksgiving and have The Saint bring Mother up and we'd feast on Sunday, so we could finally have all four generations in the same place at the same time.

This was all before I had to deal with having water damage repaired and mold and mildew preventers showing up and half the living room uninhabitable, at least at the moment. It also occurred to me that The Flash is most definitely going to bring his crossbow that shoots marshmallows and his giant plush shark (which, admittedly, we bought for him). He will most definitely be warned by his parents not to discharge the crossbow or swing the shark in the house. He will most definitely "accidentally" do one or both of those things because he is a five-year-old boy and these things happen.  Therefore, I most definitely need to do a whole lot more kidproofing than I started out to do.

At the same time, Dearly Beloved came down with a cold/viral/sinus thing. He is much better but I have been mainlining orange juice to avoid getting it.

And I have to go to work every day.

Normally I stitch for stress relief but this is all I've been able to accomplish this week on In the Mood.

Just that wee corner that wraps around the square. That's it, and it wasn't entirely without stress. It's another section where the chart and the stitched model don't quite match, so I had to make some decisions and do some reverse stitching to make the motifs fit the space.

And it just occurred to me that Friday is November 1 and there is blogging to be done every day in November.

I think I'm going to bed. After some more orange juice, of course.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Domestic Disaster

We are in the midst of dealing with some water damage, unfortunately in the corner where I have my nest. Since yesterday, I've been dragging out everything, spraying with lysol, wiping down, throwing away, photocopying directions in a couple of notebooks that are past saving, laying things out in the sun, putting other things in the freezer--this is not a lot of fun and all because the neighbors who share a wall in this townhouse community didn't get a problem with a shower repaired. They are taking care of the expenses of restoration, but it has certainly thrown my original week-end plans into turmoil.

There is always a silver lining. While emptying out the wicker trunk that was housing some of my  (ahem) long term projects-in-waiting, I found a number of treasures that have reinspired me and jump started the mojo. Interestingly enough, most of them are canvas. I think I'm going to wander through them for awhile. The first one I'll work on, though, will be In the Mood Blue--I'm over halfway through with it.

While my nest is torn up, I'm going to have to work on one project at a time until the repairs are done.  There won't be room to have more than that until the living room is back to its original state. This ought to be interesting for someone with intense stitcher's ADD. I'll let you know how that goes. And this may be the impetus I need to really work on having a useable stitching room where I can keep all my goodies around me.

Of course, when I was talking about this last night, Dearly Beloved wanted to know if there would be a chair for him, since he doesn't want to hang out by himself downstairs while I'm upstairs stitching away.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back in the Saddle again

Or, I've started stitching again . . .just a little . . . for short periods of time, but I have accomplished the following:

the next part of the framework for Buttons a Bounty

the design for one side of a small etui 

the design for one side of a pin keep to go into the etui

The picture of the side of the etui and the pin keep are from a workshop taught by Cissy Smith of Gentle Pursuits Designs for our EGA chapter.  

I seem to be in a fall-ish mood in my needlework at the moment and I think it's wishful thinking. We seem to have jumped from late summer to winter overnight.  Three days ago I was driving along the highway, thinking that you couldn't tell it was late October since so few of the trees had even started to change color--everything was still green. This morning I woke up to 32 degrees. That's freezing, folks--which meant I had to pull the wool coat out of the closet before I was quite ready. I was looking forward to  enjoying crisp mornings and sunny afternoons and fall colors, not wondering where my gloves went since last winter!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Seriously. . .

OK, still not stitching . . .decided to watch "Reign" which is supposed to be about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and her life in France.

Simply from the commercials, I knew that any resemblance to historical record was going to be superficial at best, since Mary went to the French court as a wee tiny child and not as a teen-ager. But I thought that at least there would be glorious costumes that would, perhaps, be inspirational.

They just showed Mary's ladies-in-waiting getting ready for a state dinner.

They're putting on make-up and wearing prom dresses.

Seriously.  Eye liner. Prom dresses.

Not a single, solitary garment that looks anything like the 16th century.

I can only hope this thing is cancelled immediately if not sooner.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Parallel worlds . . .

Last night I had a very weird dream. I dreamed I was stitching with a very strange needle with a wooden handle.

I woke up, thought about it for a minute, and realized it was a tambour needle. Huh, I said, and rolled over and went back to sleep.

Then I was cruising the innerwebs and Mary Corbet posted about tambour embroidery today.

(Cue Twilight Zone music.)

Was this a sign I should shake off the loss of mojo by taking up tambour?

Uh . . . .no.

I had a very dear friend who used to sweep me up and carry me off into all sorts of esoteric forms of embroidery, and she decided we should try tambour embroidery. We did. Neither of us felt it was something we really needed to pursue. Therefore, I continue to look for something else to shake me out of the doldrums.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Still looking . . .

Mojo has yet to surface.

I've just decided to let it ride for awhile. I've done all the things I usually do to jump start, and I'm still not feeling it.

I've surfed the web.

I've played in the stash.

I've looked at my books.

I've tried working a few stitches just to get going.

I've indulged in some retail therapy.

Tonight I think I'm going to go through all the stuff piled up by my chair. The Flash is coming for a visit in a couple of weeks, and I need to move my toys so he'll have room to play with his. Something may jump up and wave its hands and beg me to stitch it. If not, I have other things I need to do to get ready for The Royal Visit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Where, oh where has my mojo gone . . .

Oh where, oh where could it be?

It isn't in my corner of the living room.

It isn't in the stash room.

It isn't anywhere in the nooks and crannies where needlework is squirreled away in this house.

I'm going to try to sit quietly and see if I can catch a glimpse of it and entice it back.

Or set a bear trap for it.

(Apparently I am not alone. Over on the site where those of us involved in the Cabinet of Curiosities class hang out, several people have been suffering from severe loss of mojo. Could it possibly be contagious? Whatever is causing it, I wish it would stop. Or someone would develop an inoculation.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back to linen again

While I'm waiting for the correct shade of gold thread to arrive so I can finish In the Mood, I've gone back to linen.

Since the finishing portion of Jackie du Plessis' Buttons a'Bounty class will start soon, it occurred to me that perhaps I should get the stitching portion of the class completed.

Originally I had planned to stitch all the framework in green first, then go back and fill in leaves and acorns, but the colors in the overdyed threads looked so luscious, I decided to stitch a strand of each in to see how they look on the linen.

They glow.

I'm not usually a brown/green/gold/rust kind of person. I tend to go for pastels and soft tones. But I may be changing my mind, at least as far as this design goes.

I did run into one problem on the acorn body, which you can see if you look at the top and middle acorns on the left. While working the pattern on the bottoms of those acorns, I ran into very thick threads in the linen. VERY thick threads. 

On the top one, I went back with a sharp needle and a strand of thread and simply worked a backstitch through the thread, which resulted in a slightly different, darker line down the acorn. On the other, I haven't done anything yet.  I'm thinking the slightly darker line looks better than the thick white line, but I'm open to suggestions or opinions.

Anyway, I'm going to stitch on this today and see if I can feel "fall-ish."  It's hard when the temps are running close to ninety here.

Then again, I could be in the upper Midwest, where fall decided not to hang around and the weather went directly to January and blizzards.

I think I'll enjoy the heat. Maybe not the humidity, but at least it's not frozen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

And where did the week go?

All I can say is that it didn't go quickly.

This week trudged along slowly. Veeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy slowly.

It did occur to me that perhaps it is because I have had a needle in my hand . . . well . . .not at all.

There were some major domestic requirements that had to be handled.

There were over 200 pages in the last lesson of Part I of the Cabinet of Curiosities to download and print out and file away.

There was a Carolinas Sampler Guild meeting to prepare for--and due to an unfortunate accident befalling one of our members before the meeting, it was much more exciting (?) than planned. (She is OK and in good spirits, but we had a few scary moments. I'm very glad we have medical people who are members of our guild.)

Aside from CSG, it was not completely without a needlework-related event. I was thrilled to be able to obtain the kits for two of Debbie Stiehler's designs and they arrived this week.

It has been all I could do to keep myself from diving into the stretcher bar box, but I am firmly committed to completing a couple of projects before I allow myself to start either of these. And maybe while I'm working on something else, I can make up my mind which one to start first.

Do not suggest that I get them both going at the same time.

That thought has already crossed my mind.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

what happened to the week-end?

It seems like I walked in the door about five minutes ago on Friday--and now it's Sunday.

There was a little bit of stitching going on:

I have run out of the gold thread needed for the borders, but I contacted the teacher and she is sending more. Until it arrives, I probably won't get too much done on this design, simply because it's easier to work each new motif when you can stitch the borders for the preceding one. I did think about putting the beads on the lower sections--as my arms are short, I'm going to need to flip this to stitch the top motifs more comfortably anyway, so I would be less likely to catch the working threads on the beads.

But that would require working with the beads. If I have to mess around with beads, I'd rather deal with them all at once.

I do have a project to stitch for EGA and Morning Has Broken is just sitting here waiting, so it's not like I'm lacking anything to do. It's just been nice to stitch on something that doesn't require additional magnification.

Speaking of which, I am in the process of clearing out the two tottering stacks of magazines and books next to my chair so I'll have room to bring the Dazor back out. Since the cyborg eyes, I haven't needed it.  However, I need help working tent over one on 40 count on SL's The Huswif. And there is some concern that one of these days I could be buried in an avalanche of murder mysteries and other printed material.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Falling off the Face of the Earth

Which is what the last week feels a little like. . .

We went to the loveliest wedding I've attended in years. The bride was exquisite, the groom was dashing in his Navy whites, and Baby Girl was absolutely adorable in her peach chiffon maid of honor dress.

However, if you want to guarantee that it will rain, schedule a garden wedding. It poured. Buckets.

And, I am delighted to say, there were no bridezilla meltdowns.  The bride and groom obviously realize that it's not the wedding but the marriage that's important. The staff at the restaurant got everything moved inside from the enclosed patio where the ceremony was to have occurred.  They were efficient and professional and kept their collective sense of humor through the whole thing.

But none of my photos came out. Surprising, you say. This was not my fault! The flash on my camera has apparently died so none of the pictures I took in natural light (remember, pouring buckets of rain) came out.

Anyway, we had fun at the reception and fun with Baby Girl and not nearly enough sleep and came home and I broke. I wish I could say my head was spinning due to too much champagne, but somehow I missed getting any--anyway, once again, better living through chemistry and I'm over it.

To add to that, the office renovations are finally finished and I was able to move into what one of my coworkers keeps referring to as our final resting place.  We've had to move three times during the course of this renovation--we're the office nomads, dragging our bankers' boxes of files behind us. Finally, finally, I've been able to unpack my stuff and try to get it organized in a logical way. Hopefully I can remember the logic of that organization when I need to find something.

There has been a little stitching done this week despite the spinning head and the exhaustion from moving (again).  Quite frankly, I was glad to have 18 mesh canvas to work on.  This is where I am on In the Mood Blue:

I'm getting very nervous about the amount of gold thread I have for the borders.  I still have a good bit to go and not much thread left in that color.  I've said it before and I'll say it again--I would really rather have thread and not need it than need it and not have it--and I'd rather just go ahead and pay for extra upfront rather than have to contact the teacher or designer for more. If I wasted thread or used away knots that were five miles away from the stitching, I could understand why I sometimes run out, but I'm really sparing when it comes to thread usage.

Anyway, I'm sticking to big canvas again until I have recovered from the past week and can focus my eyes again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nibbled to Death by Ducks

This has been one of those weeks where there hasn't been a single major problem, but there have been about a zillion minor, petty annoyances that make you feel like avoiding polite society. Or impolite society.

It's probably been exacerbated by the fact that I've had very little time to stitch.  This is as far as I've managed to get in the last couple of days:

There won't be much stitching this week-end, but for a happy reason. Baby Girl's BFF (and my unofficial adopted child) is getting married tomorrow and we are traveling to the wedding. There will be festivities and celebrating and possibly dancing (although I'm a little doubtful of the success of that last part). I expect to smile all week-end.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A little bit of bling

Once in awhile, I am seduced by the bling.

The picture doesn't show it as glittery as it is, but take my word for it. We have glitter. And working on this is a lot like eating potato chips. One chip won't do, one day of stitching won't do.

The good thing is that each motif section is so small, you don't get tired of stitching it before you're ready for another section.  I had forgotten how fast a few stitches can cover a large area in canvas--it's been over a year since I really did much canvas work--but when you compare 18 mesh canvas to 40 count linen--well, duh, of course it's going to move much faster.

Speaking of 40 count linen, I was also planning to stitch a strand of silk every day on The Huswif. I found last night that I can't see the 40 count in artificial light. The Dazor, which has been stashed away since the cyborg eyes came to live in my head, may have to come back out.  Or I work only on that piece on the week-ends, when I can usually depend on early morning light. I had to reverse stitch a couple of things last night in white silk on an off-white background, and that was a compelling reason to determine that daylight is best.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Even Lazier Day

Dearly Beloved and I have decided we're recuperating from going on vacation. Today has been an even lazier day, and basically a rerun of yesterday. I did cook breakfast this morning--even though it was served around 11:30.

I have also been stitching. This should not come as a surprise.

This is my latest entry in Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year stitch along.

It's called the Huswif Panel.

It's worked in tent stitch.

Over one thread.

On 40 count linen.

I have decided this is going to be a strand-a-day project because that's about all I can handle. Even with the Ott Light and additional magnification, I was totally cross eyed after the first strand of green. I did persevere and start the little white honeysuckle blooms, then decided that that way lies madness.

After that, I wanted something a little easier to see, even with the cyborg eyes, so I picked up something on canvas. 18 count canvas, in fact. It feels like I'm using a tent pole for a needle and the holes in the canvas look like chasms after 40 count linen, but I am not complaining.

This is a Marnie Ritter piece called "In the Mood Blue."  It was a class that recently ended from Shining Needle.

I had started it the first week classes were posted a month or so ago, but was in the middle of Ann Scutt and wanted to get her finished. Then I somehow cracked one of the stretcher bars and it would no longer hold the canvas securely, which meant I needed to find another 15" stretcher bar.

So, after I decided today that I wanted to work on it again, I needed to locate another 15" stretcher bar.

I found nine of them.

None of them wanted to play nicely with the three I already had.

(And, yes, I realize that I do have enough stretcher bars in the stash to build a small log cabin. Or maybe even a large log cabin.)

You would think that stretcher bars would have some sort of common method of construction, but other than the length, not so much. Dearly Beloved managed to "persuade" the most compatible one to join with the others, but it may never let them go again once this project is finished.

Anyway, this is where I am at the moment:

I think I'm going to try rotating several projects for awhile. I want to finish up the Schwalm pocket soon and I need to get the stitching for Buttons a' Bounty finished before the finishing kit comes. Then I'd like to take care of all the spaghetti from the two Ellen Chester classes I took last week-end. And then there are about forty dozen other projects sitting by the chair that all want to be stitched.

Did I say something about madness? It's an addiction.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lazy Day

Can you have spring fever in the fall?

It was a very lazy day. We slept in, read the paper, looked at email, watched a little television, did a little laundry, nibbled instead of preparing meals, took a walk. Dearly Beloved viewed the interior of his eyelids for awhile. I read most of a book.

And stitched a little:

This is the pre-work for Betsy Morgan's Toy Chest class, which I will be taking in November. For once, I won't be up until the wee hours the night before the class working on the pre-work.

Now I have to hope I remember the safe place I put it in for the next six weeks.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lilypad for Sale

This is where I am after a visit from a large, warty frog:

I'm back to the point I was when I discovered a major counting error.

Before all the ripping (and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth), I had grandiose plans for this piece and the upcoming week-end. I had it all figured out.

I was going to get this section completely stitched by bedtime last night, then I was going to stitch the two cartouches on either side of the center panel tonight, then I was going to work half of the lower border tomorrow and finish it all up on Sunday. Never mind that the number of hours it would take to do this meant that I would plop my large and lovely self into the wing chair tonight and not budge until Sunday.  After all,  this whole vine is worked in Smyrna cross stitches, and they take twice as long as regular cross stitches.

By the time I did all those Smyrnas, my arms would have fallen out of their sockets, my hands would be permanently cramped around the needle, my eyes would be totally crossed, and I would have severe posterior paralysis.

Reality intruded.

It's going to be a gorgeous fall week-end, if the weatherman can be trusted, perfect for walks and getting out and about.

It's time to start pulling out the fall and winter clothes and shifting closets around.

I haven't worked on any finish-finishing for several weeks and I need to get back to it.

And there are other projects that need some attention.

Besides, as Dearly Beloved pointed out when I was pitching a hissy fit over my miscounting error, I don't have a deadline.

So I'm taking a deep breath and reminding myself that needlework is not a duty but a pleasure. And I'm going to thread a needle and enjoy myself. With no pressure and no deadlines.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back in the Rut Again

We are back home again--actually, we've been home--but there was all the going-back-to-work, and laundering piles of clothes, and catching up on chores that didn't get done since we were away. There is also a stack of newspapers and mail to get through, but that will all wait for the week-end.

And it didn't take long to fall back into the routine.  Today was typical:

  • go to work
  • come home
  • take a walk to get the work day out of my head
  • chores
  • dinner
  • shower
  • play online for a few minutes
  • and stitch
This is what I managed to accomplish last night:

I'm back to Morning Has Broken.

And I will warn you right now--for the next week or so--or until I get the border done, I am going to be deadly dull and boring. It will be border, border, and more border.

Ironically, I am thoroughly enjoying this and don't find it boring at all. In fact, I'm having a wonderful time with leaves and tendrils and so forth and so on.

Dearly Beloved is mentioning padded rooms again.