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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Final finishing flurry for '14

When I woke up this morning--the next to last morning I can sleep late on a weekday for awhile--and that's the best part of being on vacation--I decided I wanted to get some things out of the finishing pile and into the finished pile.

I may have gotten carried away.

From the left:
  • Christmas Bookmark from Fern Ridge Designs, one of the Christmas in Williamsburg gifts from several years ago--stitched several years ago and stuck in the finishing basket since.
  • "Be a Busy Bee" scissor fob, make-it-take-it from Jackie du Plessis
  • Button box, also Jackie du Pless
  • Black Bird Scissors Fob, Catherine Theron

Three, count 'em, three ort containers, all Jackie du Plessis designs.

You may see a pattern here. I tend to grab a lot of Jackie's small kits in the boutique at Christmas in Williamsburg, now known as Annie's Needlearts Festival. I use them for travel projects since they're easy to pack and transport, without the need for big frames or frame stands.

The problem is that I can easily stitch them when away from home, but I can't easily finish-finish them unless I am home.  So, today I decided to grab a stack and do as much as I could before my eyes crossed.

My eyes have crossed.

On to other events: Dearly Beloved and I, being total fuddy-duddies, are not out and about celebrating the New Year. I am staying awake only to have the ceremonial dumping of the ort jar at midnight.  I expected it to be more colorful this year but apparently I used more blues and whites than I thought.

I'm making one resolution this year. I'm setting some goals for myself, which I don't consider resolutions since resolutions are, by some kind of cosmic irony, made to be broken. I think I can keep this one, though--I resolve to continue puttering in my stash and with various workshops and classes, stitching whatever strikes my fancy whenever my fancy is struck.

That should work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Committed all over again

Well, I've done it again. I've dated something, so now I have to finish the project.

At least I've given myself a year to complete the set.

Actually, I'm sort of in the mood to continue on with this. Maybe I need to let projects age for several years before I feel the impulse to get them done.

Meanwhile, I had something of an old-fogey moment. What happened to little packs of graph paper that you could pick up anywhere that sold notebook paper? I remember getting them for my kids when they were in school--and they (and I) aren't that old. I didn't think we were, at least.

And, yes, I do know that you can print graph paper from the internet, which is what I eventually did.

I suppose this is another thing that kids do on their calculators instead of with paper and pencil.

Sigh . . .

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tree Day

It occurred to me as I was packing away the Christmas decorations that I never posted pictures of the three I put together on Christmas Eve.

On the left is Barbara Jackson's Peace on Earth, the 2013 SNS ornament. The center one is Poinsettia Basket from Jackie du Plessis. It is supposed to have little bows on the bottom corners. I sewed them on, then decided I didn't like them and took them off. It took longer to take them off than it did to sew them on. On the right is Little Williamsburg, another Barbara Jackson design, this one an exclusive at Haus Tirol in Williamsburg.  It is also an example of what happens when you make too many efforts to even up the tassel ends.

We've been taking ornaments off the tree, off and on, today. I'm always sad to see the tree go--it means I have to wait another year until Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's Eve--my favorite season--but the tree is starting to shed needles, so it's time to let it go. I am hoping that when we pull it away from the wall, the missing ornament appears--I have a needlepointed one that seems to have vanished from the time I hung it on the tree until today.  As thick as the branches are on this fir, it could have fallen at some point and been hidden in their depths.

Dearly Beloved suggested that the tree ate it. We seem to lose an ornament every so often and the running joke is that they have been sacrificed to the Lords of the Fraser Firs.  I'm hoping this sacrifice is rescued in time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Big sigh of relief

I finally got all the broad chain filling and the eyelets on the pouch for the Fair Maiden Workbag completed!

Admittedly, there are about 42 bazillion spangles that have to be added to this piece before it's completely stitched, but just having the broad chain done feels like I've made it over a major hurdle.

Apparently I needed to work on this section when my hands needed to stitch without my brain being engaged. Today was one of those days. Dearly Beloved and I had to go buy a new printer today, which took longer than either of us wanted it to take. Then it had to be set up, which took WAAAAAAY longer than either of us wanted it to take.  By the time all of this was accomplished, there was not enough brain power to count to two, much less make important decisions about stitch placement. Broad chain stitch, especially worked in rows, can be done on autopilot. And it was.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Flitting about

I haven't been able to settle down to any particular project and today was no exception.

I was rummaging around in the stash, looking for something else entirely, when I found a pile of projects that haven't seen the light of day this year. I decided to rectify that immediately.

I'd stitched all the double running bands on Mary Atwood last year and then stopped before I started the reversible cross stitch bands.  I don't remember what project distracted me, although I'm sure that's what happened.

I had to get my brain in gear to think reversibly and to work over three threads, which took a couple of letters to happen. Then, just as I was really getting good at it, Mary threw me a curve and changed things to the type of reversible cross that creates an open box on the reverse side.  Just as I could automatically decide which way to cross and which way to turn to move to the next part of the letter--if you've done reversible cross stitch, you know what I'm talking about.

Rather than make myself crazy stitching letters in another format, I moved to the next project.

"So Dear to Thy Heart" is the project Merry Cox taught at Christmas in Williamsburg in 2011. I know because I have the class certificate with the date on it. I really do not know why I haven't finished this--I take it out, do a little, and then put it away again. And I love this design.

Anyway, tonight I finished the motifs to the right of the lady and worked the flowering plant to her left. I need to stitch more fence and a cat, then chart out my name, etc for the bottom. Then, there are accessory bits to work that will fit into the box for the project.

I do wish I were the kind of stitcher who could work on only one project at a time until it's finish-finished, or the kind who can stick to a business-like rotation system, or the kind who can avoid temptation. I'm not. So I guess I'm going to continue to flit from one to another until something gets done, despite myself.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Flexibility is Good

When I was thinking about my Christmas Stay-cation, I had planned to start the various and sundry small projects that arrived with my Cabinet of Curiosities I class on Christmas Day.

Notice I said that was my plan.

I've decided that "plan" is a four-letter word when it comes to my embroidery this year.

I had pulled out the box with the materials and the notebook with the instructions but I had not located scroll or stretcher bars or pulled out the lightbox to trace the designs.  I did nothing to get ready. As a result, when I rolled out of bed for a day of stitching and Christmas movies, I realized I had an hour or two of prep before I could actually thread silk into needle and insert into linen.

What I wanted to do was stitch and watch Christmas movies. I did not want to get ready to stitch and watch Christmas movies.

So I rummaged through my basket and pulled Mariposa out.  And finished it.

I had started this when we went to have Thanksgiving and Tofurkey with The Big Kid, Big Kid's Wife, and The Flash--but then we turned around and immediately went to Williamsburg for Annie's Festival of Needlearts (aka Christmas in Williamsburg with Just Cross Stitch) and then I fell into Christmas ornament stitching, so it had been waiting patiently for me to get back to it.

It was not without angst. The angst did not involve all the double-fan-double stitches. After all, I love Carole Lake and she loves that stitch, so I'm used to them. I can even sing the under-over song to the melody of the Hallelujah Chorus. ( If you are not familiar with that, you need to take a class from Carole and Michael at Stitchplay Designs. They frequently offer classes through Shining Needle Society. BTW, I get no benefits from talking SNS up--I just find a lot of fascinating things to stitch through SNS and like to enable.)

I could not get the dratted corners to work out. Had I had a cup of Christmas Cheer, or even a particularly noggy egg nog--and I had had neither--I would have attributed it to that.

I have been accused of being stubborn and bloody single-minded and in this case it is true. I stitched and ripped and ripped and stitched and finally skipped the corners and worked the final border pattern first, then reverse-engineered the corners to fit with the border. 

And that worked. I do wish you could see the way the metallic thread glitters in the light and just how pretty this piece is. It may not be in seasonal colors, but I will always remember Christmas 2014 when I look at it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

May peace and joy bless your celebration!

And may you have time to savor the day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More Loopy Sheep

Another Christmas ornament stitched this year!

I love those sheep--and I managed to get big, loopy French knots on these sheep as well. And I love the redbirds and the little shepherd and the Christmas tree in the wagon.

Tomorrow I hope to do the finishing on the ornaments I've stitched in the last few weeks. At least they'll get about a week on this year's tree before they go into storage for another year.

And I am officially on vacation until Friday, January 2. I have a stack of Christmas movies and CDs for entertainment for the next two days, then another stack of movies and books--and about eighteen needlework projects--for the following week. I can already feel every single cell in my body start to relax.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Twelve Days of Christmas

The last few days have been busier than busy, with several holiday parties crowned by our family Christmas celebration yesterday with Mother and The Saint. Baby Girl arrived on Friday to help with the prep and to join me in an epic cookie baking extravaganza.  I've lost count of the pounds of butter, sugar, and flour we went through--and there was an emergency run to the grocery store for ground cloves--but it is quite possible that we have placed the Piedmont section of the Carolinas into a long-lasting sugar high and carb coma.

In the midst of all this, I have managed to get a few stitches stitched. I started one of the ornaments I found at Haus Tirol:

It occurred to me as I waved good-bye to Baby Girl today that I have no social engagements pending. I do have to work Monday and Tuesday of this week, but after than, I am off until January 2. Therefore, as of right this minute, I am starting my own personal Twelve Days of Christmas.

I plan to stitch, listen to Christmas music, enjoy movie marathons, and think about absolutely nothing of any consequence. Dearly Beloved and I are going to have a quiet Christmas feast for ourselves and there has been some discussion about driving around to see Christmas lights. Other than that, I am  taking time off to recharge before the New Year rolls around.

In fact, I may take a nap to celebrate!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Signed and dated

The embroidery is done on Christmas is Coming!

I was really hoping to stitch a couple more ornaments this week. Then I looked at the calendar. We have some kind of event every day this week--including two different parties tomorrow night--culminating in Mother, The Saint, and Baby Girl arriving this week-end for our family celebration.

That means I need to spend my time getting the house ready for Mother's white glove inspection. She had her cataract surgery this year and has 20/20 vision. The Saint and I have agreed we would have preferred that her hearing be corrected rather than her vision--she now sees dust in places we would never have thought of looking!

I mean, really--do you take your artwork off the walls and dust the backs of the pictures on a monthly basis?

I will admit, that's about the last thing on my list of things to do this week.

But as there are about forty bazillion other things before that, I need to get to work.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Geese and Grass

"Christmas is Coming" is coming along.  I now have a goose girl, an apple tree, various critters, three fat geese, and the grass behind them.

I've been thinking of taking a few stitches out and redoing the shadow on the goose on the right, but taking out stitches over 40 count is not the most fun. And from across the room it isn't bothersome. Dearly Beloved believes once the ornament is on the tree, no one will notice it. As he tends to notice the pickiest of details, I'm inclined to believe him.

Or he's saying this so I won't keep belaboring the point.

In other news, we now have a decorated tree. I had to go to a volunteer thing yesterday, but other than that, we spent the day working on the tree.  As usual, the tree looked much smaller in the lot than it does in the corner of the living room.  Dearly Beloved had to use more lights than he wanted to--actually, he would be happy with no lights at all, but this year it became a challenge to light up the tree. And I've used ornaments I haven't used in years to fill in all the spaces. 

At some point I need to pull out the Christmas dishes and go to the grocery store, but other than that and stitching and finishing more ornaments, I'm ready for Christmas this year. This is, I have declared, my minimal Christmas. There will be other years to go berserk--this year I'm taking a deep breath and relaxing.

And listening to Christmas music and watching old movies and thinking about what I want to stitch during my last vacation days of 2014. I am taking off the week after Christmas and doing only what I want to do for nine days straight.

That's the best Christmas present of them all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas is Coming

Here's my start on this year's ornament from Barbara Jackson for Shining Needle Society.

Aside from a bare-naked tree standing in the corner--not a light or ornament to be seen--this is the extent of my Christmas preparations this year.

Normally I would be running around like a deranged Ghost of Christmas Uh-Oh, trying to pull a Martha Stewart celebration out of the air. For some reason, this year I'm not making myself crazy. Maybe I'm finally growing out of that first-born-girl-child-who-is-responsible-for-the-turning-of-the-world-on-its-axis.

All this occurred to me today when I was thinking about stitching this ornament AND the five others I bought in Williamsburg last week AND knitting The Flash a pair of mittens AND baking a dozen different kinds of cookies.

And then I realized that Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow.

This year I'm going to putter. As I've decided with my needlework, I get more done when I don't give myself deadlines and rules. So tonight, I'm going to stitch a bit and knit a bit and enjoy the aroma of the tree. It still smells wonderful, whether it has ornaments and lights or not.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A finish! (almost)

I've actually finished something in only two days of class!

It still needs the bow but I want to check to see which ribbon to use before I do anything reckless like cut ribbon, only to find that I've cut the wrong ribbon.

And it's worked over one thread, so this is about the size of a quarter. The thing that has made this class worth the price of admission, though, is the joining stitch used. If you get a chance to take September Morning from Jackie du Plessis, you will learn the stitch right off the bat. It may become my go-to for putting ornaments together since you can easily add beads as you work.

In other news, we spent part of the afternoon back in the Historic District. In the rain. Which is supposed to clear off by time for the Grand Illumination tomorrow. Because of the rain, we didn't wander about the Historic District looking at decorations. Instead, we toured Bassett Hall, home of the Rockefellers as Mr. David oversaw the renovation and rebuilding that resulted in the Williamsburg we now know. We also spent a couple of hours in the museums, DeWitt Wallace and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. There is a lovely exhibit of samplers from the South there.

And, one of the things that always gets me in the mood for Christmas, the dollhouses are on display.

In my next life, I may have to become a miniaturist. I have too much needlework in this life to complete to take on another obsession, but, oh, how I love the dollhouses!

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Colonial Christmas

After I got out of class today, Dearly Beloved and I went strolling down Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg.

This is my favorite house. It had my favorite decorations, so elegant in their simplicity:

So, of course, I start thinking about Colonial Christmas ornaments. Basically, if there is anything I'm interested in, it translates into needlework for me.

As luck would have it, Haus Tirol's Facebook page showed a set of kits for Christmas ornaments that are exclusive to them. (Haus Tirol is a wonderful cross-stitch/sampler shop that has been a Williamsburg mainstay for years.) And they are designed by Barbara Jackson of Tristan Brooks. If you haven't figured it out by now, I do love me some Tristan Brooks designs. So they came back to the hotel with me.

Of course I immediately thought I would get them all stitched and put together for this year's tree. Reality set in quickly--there is not one hall decked at my house. There isn't even a tree as yet.

But there's always next year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Back to Williamsburg

Dearly Beloved and I are back in Williamsburg, our annual trip so I can stitch and he can relax and make dinner reservations, all in the beauty of the Colonial District at this time of the year.

We have had our traditional crab cake dinner at Christiana Campbell's and today I settled down to stitch.

Here's the outside of the piece I started today:

And here's the inside:

And here are some of the goodies that go in the inside of this piece and the one we'll work on for the next three days:

And here are some of the other wonderful things that Jackie brought, both for show-and-tell and to sell in the boutique:

I have done very little shopping thus far, I have to admit. I stood in line to get the scrimshaw pieces for Jackie's class pieces, then shopped. By the time I had wandered around for a few minutes, the line had about 50 people in it--with only two cash registers open. At that point, I decided that I would put the things in my hands back and return in the morning. If I'm meant to have the items I picked up, they'll still be there. If not, I'm not supposed to have them.

Of course, I will now toss and turn all night, wondering if they'll still be there in the morning.

And I already have enough projects at home for three lifetimes.

But I'll still wonder.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I made it!

As soon as I hit publish, I will have blogged every day in November.

I'm not sure I'll do this again, or at least, not until my life changes to the point that I have significant stitching time every day. This is my busy season at work, which means that there were days when I felt I either had time to stitch or I had time to blog, but not both--so I did neither well.

Today there was not much time to stitch. I'm not going to say I'll never travel on the Sunday after Thanksgiving again, but I'm going to have to think about it very seriously before I do. I think the entire Eastern Seaboard was on the same highway Dearly Beloved and I were traversing today. We saw no fewer than six accidents in a hundred mile stretch. Most of them were caused by people driving too closely together. When the first person had to hit the brakes, the next two to five cars then hit that person and each other. Consequently, a trip that normally takes fewer than five hours took six-and-a-half plus.

I did get a little more done on Mariposa tonight:

The next step requires careful counting and thinking. At this point, I do not believe I am capable of either, so I am going to pick up the current book and call it a day.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Second Thanging Feast

We had the second Thanksgiving (i.e. Thanging Feast) with the Big Kid and his family today.

I have now had tofurkey.

I was also able to stitch for a bit today while we watched The Flash for his parents.

If you want to stitch when there is a small boy around, bring a brand-new box of Legos and a grampa and you will be left in peace while they carry on intense and serious conversations about the various bits and pieces required to construct whatever it is they decide to construct. There was also a major conversation about who got the red Lego car, since apparently it was the more desirable vehicle.

Even though the class doesn't start until January 1, I've been looking at Mariposa and looking at Mariposa and trying to wait to start it.  I admit that I brought it with me and I'm glad I did. Since the Big Kid and his wife go in for mood lighting rather than the brilliant lighting Dearly Beloved and I prefer, I found that I could see 18 mesh canvas by a 60 watt bulb.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Here is what I accomplished today, between mediating multi-generational Lego disputes and helping with the Thanging Feast.

It is NOT this dark but I'm photographing by the light in the hotel room. This is a lot of fun to stitch and I hear that there are some kits left, so if you're interested, hie thee hence to Shining Needle and look at the colors that are still available.

I would stitch more tonight, but I think I'm ready to take a nap. Or just go to bed. It's been a long day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Not even two days . . .

We have traversed the mountains (which were still snow-covered, although the roads are clear) to have our second Thanging Feast with The Flash and his parental units. That is scheduled for tomorrow.

Since it's cold and we will likely be inside a lot, I thought I should bring a project or two to work on in the evenings and during the day when there was no cooking to be done. I can stitch and carry on a conversation most of the time.

But what to bring?

I am only going to be here two nights and one full day.

This is the tote bag that came with me.

There are five projects in this bag. Five.

Mary Atwood (sampler), Fair Maiden Workbag (small), Christmas is Coming (ornament on linen), Catherine's Crown (ornament on Congress cloth), Mariposa (canvas).

If we end up snowbound for a month--and the weather forecasts do not predict any precipitation while we're here--I would still have something to do.

It's definitely an addiction.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I've been thinking about Thanksgiving this morning.  And I've spent some time thinking about life in general, since I'm very close to another birthday.

I decided I'm thankful that I have enough.

I have enough to eat, enough to wear, enough to drink.

I have a family whom I love and whose company I enjoy--children who have become friends as they have grown up and a grandson whose existence is pure sunshine and joy.

I have dear, dear friends.

I have a job with coworkers whose company I enjoy, who are generous and supportive.

I have access to extremely good medical care and caring doctors.

I have opportunities to travel, to visit museums, to hear concerts, to attend plays, to enrich my life.

I have books to read.

I have a home to cherish and care for, a roof over my head that is my shelter and refuge.

And I have my needlework, a passion that interests and sustains me, that has brought me comfort in times of stress and enjoyment every day of my life.

I can't ask for anything more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A wee bit of stitching

I am ashamed to admit that I started this Christmas ornament last February.

And then I forgot about it.

Until last night when I was rummaging around in the big tote bag (as opposed to the other tote bags that are not as big) and ran across it. The only thing left for me to do was stitch the poinsettias and put it together. Obviously, I have finished the stitching. Obviously I have not put it together.

I'd thought about doing that tonight. We've already had our Thanksgiving so I'm not chopping, slicing, dicing, baking and roasting.  Instead of finishing, though, I have been doing some major rearranging in our living room, which includes excavating my corner.

You should know that any rearranging is fraught with trauma in this house. My mother-in-law was an interior designer. Dearly Beloved never knew where anything would be or how it would look from the time he left for school until the time he arrived home--she once sold his bedroom furniture to a client who fell in love with it. He slept on a mattress on the floor until she decided how she wanted his room to look in its next incarnation. One of the things he asked me when we were talking about marriage was whether or not I like to move furniture around. At the time, I thought that was majorly weird until I met his mother. At that point, I realized it was only a minorly weird thing.

Anyway, we have to move stuff around to get the Christmas tree in, which will happen sooner than I think it should, so I may as well make some other changes at the same time.

And I have come to the conclusion that we need another bookcase but we have no wall space left for one. Dearly Beloved has suggested a pulley system and a series of boxes that we can raise and lower from the ceiling to contain the overflow from the current bookcases.

His mother would not approve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Regal Stitching

Last night I started on Catherine's Crown, an ornament designed by Gay Ann Rogers based on a crown owned by Catherine the Great.

Of course, most of the evening was spent basting the outlines. Basting is such a pain--wish it didn't make things easier but it does, so I guess it's worth it.

I still don't enjoy it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Enhancing the Stash

I think I'm having Christmas early.

Two packages arrived at my door today.

Needle in a Haystack is offering a series of finishing classes, designed and engineered by Jackie du Plessis. This is the first installment--isn't that fabric glorious! (And, yes, I'm a Jackie groupie--one of these days I hope I become half the finisher she is. Until then, I'll just keep plugging away at her designs.)

And there were two surprise gifts in the package:

There's a pin keep to match the set AND a needle magnet!

Then, as if that weren't enough, the materials kits I had ordered to go with some of the goodies I bought from Gay Ann Rogers at her eWeek sale arrived from Kate Gaunt.

Kate is a long-time friend of mine as well as the driving force behind Shining Needle Society and the proprietor of a business that offers kits for Gay Ann's designs. Everything is beautifully packaged and organized, as, knowing Kate as I do, is only to be expected.

I immediately pulled the instructions and beads for one of Gay Ann's designs and that's what I'm going to work on tonight:

I'm finding, as life becomes more and more complicated, that having a kit already assembled simplifies and de-stresses and provides more actual stitching time.

So I'm going to use that time and stitch.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Going off in another direction

You will see that all the stripe outlines are worked and some of the broad chain stitches are filling them in.

I had hoped to have Fair Maiden finished before leaving for Williamsburg next week (NEXT WEEK!!!!!) but I also have a long list of things I'd like to do around the house before then.  Usually I start decking the halls the day after Thanksgiving, but since we're going to see The Flash for Thanging Feast Two, I won't be here to do that. And I really like having my Christmas stuff around for the whole month of December.

Plus, I have a bunch of projects that I've been dying to just take a nibble of--just work a thread or two into the linen or canvas--just a little touch of the needle.

So, for the next week, I'm sampling a lot of things. I'm not abandoning Fair Maiden, but I'm not going to kill myself to finish the workbag before going back to Williamsburg.

I'm going to enjoy the season!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanging Feast One

Many years ago, when the Big Kid and Baby Girl were still Small Ones, we were having a discussion about Thanksgiving.  I had decided that they were certainly old enough to have some input into the menu and asked what they thought would be the perfect Thanksgiving Feast.

The ideas came rapidly and extensively. They had some really good ideas that have formed the basis of our traditional meal ever since. I finally handed a notepad to the Big Kid and asked him to write down all their ideas.

At the top, he wrote in large letters:  Thanging Feast Mennu.

And we have had a Thanging Feast ever since.

Because of everyone's work schedules this year, Thursday would not work. So, Baby Girl is here this week-end for Thanging Feast One. Then next Friday, Dearly Beloved and I--depending on the weather in the mountains between here and there--will travel to the Big Kid's home for Thanging Feast Two.

Between bouts of intense cooking today, I have been stitching. I am pleased to announce that all the stripe outlines for Fair Maiden's pocket have been completed and I have started filling them in. You'll just have to take my word for it; the camera battery is recharging.

And after we eat, I have the feeling I will be ready for a nap instead of photography.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Such Temptation

The kit for Mariposa arrived today.

I chose the soft peach colorway, although it was a very, very hard choice. Luckily, Carole and Michael provide the information about the other colors they offered in the instructions. And since they have very good taste in colors and threads, that provides a springboard for other projects.

I almost went looking for stretcher bars, but I am very close to having all the stripe outlines done and I am persevering.  This part of this project will be stitched this week-end.

Famous last words.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

And we're at the halfway mark!

Half the stripes are outlined!

It is ridiculous how happy this makes me--but from here on out, the stripes get (slightly) shorter with each one. Then I get to fill them in with broad chain, and then do the eyelets for the top, and then I'll almost be ready to get this put together.

Never thought I'd look forward to putting something together!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Look what the mail carrier brought me today!

Christmas is Coming!  Barbara Jackson's 2014 ornament, taught through Shining Needle Society.

And I am soooooooooooo tempted to start. After all, I do have the master chart and color key and I believe I could figure out what goes where.

That way lies madness, you understand, since inevitably there will be some important bit in the instructions that would elevate this sweet, sweet ornament to perfection.

So I guess I will wait until next week when the first lesson is posted.

And go back to stitching stripes. Sigh . . .every stitch brings me closer to the finish . . .I wish I really did possess an electric needle!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

simply stripes

Since all I'm doing is stitching stripes, this is going to be the shortest blog entry in record.

At least, thus far, I've been able to blog every day this month, but this is just pitiful.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tonight's Stripes

I've stitched in my daily allotment of stripes:

After all the stripe outlines are stitched in, they are filled with broad chain stitch, then spangles are added and eyelets created at the top for a drawstring.

But tonight I'm going to bed early with a book. This has been a very gray, gloomy, rainy day--and the temperatures are getting ready to drop--and that is perfect sleeping weather.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Back to Fair Maiden

Although I have been mostly a slug today--it's been cold, cloudy, and just plain gray all day, good for hibernation and not much else--I did get the pouch that fits on the back of the Fair Maiden Workbag started.

Counting and stitching the outline of this thing took almost more brain cells than I had functioning. If the sides hadn't met and matched, I think I would have burst into tears and taken to my bed with a cold compress on my forehead.  This is otherwise known as having a sinking spell.

Dearly Beloved, once again reading over my shoulder, suggested that I could have flung a hissy fit.  That requires having an unladylike temper tantrum and I still haven't recovered enough from my cold to have the energy to do that.

Now I have to stitch a bunch of stripes, which may be just a wee boring. It will be worth it when it's done, but it's going to be sheer tedium while it's going on. So I am once again diving into the basket to see what I can find to alternate with stripe stitching.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two in a Day!

I have two finishes to report in one day!

Quite frankly, this is not as amazing as I would dream--just wait until you see the second one . . .

But first:

It was a bright and sunshiny day, so I sat by the window and finished the stitching for Peace on Earth.

Stitching the sheep was the most fun--I was taught to make very neat and precise French knots many, many years ago. Today I went slightly berserk (in a very ladylike embroideress way) and made big, loopy, sloppy, loose French knots all over the sheep so that they look as though they're really ready for shearing. And I got all the teeny over-one stitches worked in.

Then there is this:

Last night I had a couple of hours before bedtime that I wanted to spend stitching, and I had finished the Blackbird fob. So I dove into the basket again and pulled this out. It's another of the small kits I've picked up over the years from Jackie du Plessis at Christmas in Williamsburg.  I like to have them so I can take them when I'm going on a trip, simply because they're fairly small and easy to pack. This will be the top of a covered tape measure.

I stitched about half of it last night before I got so sleepy I couldn't focus, then finished it today right after Peace on Earth.

And now I really, really, really have to start putting things together.

I'll think about that tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another one bites the dust

Well, that doesn't sound quite right.

What it means is that I finished the embroidery on the Blackbird fob tonight . . .something more to put in the finishing basket.

I'm going to go diving into the basket by the chair and see what pops up. I was planning to go back to Peace on Earth, but I think I may wait on that until tomorrow when I have daylight instead of Dazor light. That means I have a couple of stitching hours left in this evening to find something to work on.

I may work on Fair Maiden for a bit. I had hoped to have her finished before going back to Williamsburg in December, but that was when I thought I would have a four-day week-end over Thanksgiving. However, the Big Kid, BK's Wife, and The Flash have invited us to come up for Thanksgiving. Depending on the weather--in other words, whether or not there is winter precipitation of some sort or another--we will take them up on it.

Before we go, though, I need to get some ear plugs. I have been informed they will be serving tofurkey. I do not want to listen to Dearly Beloved's comments before, during, and after dinner.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I was absolutely determined, despite the yuckier aspects of a bad cold, to stitch tonight.

I was not feeling the love for broad chain.

40 count linen, stitched over one, was not going to happen.

But 32 count linen over one could happen:

When Catherine Theron came to our guild to teach Morning Has Broken, she designed this fob with motifs from the big sampler as a mini-class the evening before. I took advantage of the opportunity, but it's been sitting in the basket for months. Tonight I was pawing through the projects, looking for something that would entice me to thread a needle, and this popped out. I need to stitch a blackbird on the top piece and my initials on the bottom one.

Then, alas, there will be something else in the finishing basket.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Chain Letter--no, not really

I've been working a lot of broad chain stitch:

I have a lot more to do.

Tonight, though, I'm going to drown myself in orange juice and Nyquil. The quad cold, which has already taken out about half a dozen people, has finally latched onto me. I'm going to bed with a box of Kleenex and try to remember how to breath through my nose.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Deadly Dull and Boring

Paint drying . . . grass growing . . .still deadly dull and boring around here.

If I get to pick up a needle tonight and that's a really big IF, it will be to fix the hem on my black dress pants.

For a very brief moment of insanity as I was driving home from work, I thought I could slap the pants on the sewing machine and get this done in a flash.

Reality quickly intruded.

This is the sewing machine I bought after my 1948 Singer finally breathed its last. It stayed in the box it was shipped in--unopened, I might add--for over a year before I finally opened the box, removed all the packing material, and set the thing up on the kitchen table.

It took me over an hour to read the manual and get the bobbin wound and the machine threaded.

It took about 20 seconds to sew the one seam I needed to machine sew.

Then I packed the machine in the carrying case I bought at the same time as the machine--also unopened in its shipping box until then--and put it away.

I have determined that by the time I wind another bobbin with black thread and thread the machine and figure out how to do the hemming stitch, I could have done the hem by hand. About twenty times.

So that's my excitement for the evening. Hope yours is much more interesting than mine!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Watching paint dry

Or watching grass grow.

Or (insert the cliche of your choice here).

What I'm doing tonight is really not at all blog-worthy, but it is necessary.

I'm ironing linen and looking for scroll bars and intending to sew the linen to the scroll bars once I've found the ones that will fit the linen.


But it is November and I'm blogging about it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Froggy went a'courtin'

And I wish he had stayed in his pond.

There was much, much more stitched in the hill that the shepherd is standing on until I realized I was off by one mosaic stitch, which translates into two threads, which throws the whole sheep body off. One thread off I can finagle. A whole sheep, not so much.

I wish I understood why it takes longer to take stitches out than it takes to put them in.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Spangles and Beads

I decided to avoid eye strain today and work on Fair Maiden.

Thus far, things have been going well. I have caught the corner of my bead tray with the sleeve of my sweater and spilled the contents only once, and have stabbed myself with the beading needle only twice. All in all, a good day!

And in a month I'll be in Williamsburg again, taking another class from Jackie du Plessis. I'm hoping to have a chunk of this project done before then. Actually, it would be absolutely amazing if I managed to finish one project from a workshop within a year of originally taking the class. That happens rarely. It does happen, but not often enough.

So, back to spangling.

Friday, November 7, 2014

itsy bitsy teeny weeny

All I can say about the results of tonight's stitching is this:  tent over one on 40 count linen is tiny.

I now need to stare off into the distance and rest my eyes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Housework can kill you

This blog entry almost didn't make it.

I was putting something in the dishwasher tonight, and apparently I yinned when I should have yanged and my back spasmed.  I finally gave in and took a pain pill, so any errors in tonight's stitching is due to  better living through chemistry.

This is the section that would be affected by the additional thread, and it looks fine to me. But what do I know. . .I'm medicated.

And it's time to ice my back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drive-By Post

I'm going to sampler guild in a few minutes, which means I won't get to stitch tonight. I'll get to talk about stitching, hear about stitching, and probably see some exquisite stitching, but I won't get a needle stuck into anything.

Ironic, huh.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

random ramblings

A lot of little thoughts tonight . . .

Since I left work, I have voted, dealt with dinner and the dishwasher, talked to Baby Girl, paid two bills, ironed three shirts for Dearly Beloved, and washed my hair early enough so that I won't go to bed with a wet head. I have been an adult quite long enough today, thank you very much.


I had to do some stash diving to locate the kit for Barbara Jackson's Peace on Earth last night. When I found it, I remembered why I stopped.

It's off by one thread.

I got off when I was doing the basting, so the outline, which was based on the basting, was also off by one thread. And I got off by one thread on both vertical lines, so I didn't realize I was off until I started working the star.  At that point I had decided to either rip out everything or start over on another piece of fabric.

After a year, I have come to the conclusion that it can't be seen from the back of a galloping horse, so I'm going to continue. Life is too short to be OCD about one thread.


While I'm still in an enabling mode, Carole Lake and Michael Boren are offering another Stitch for a Cause project through Shining Needle Society. It's called Mariposa, it is offered in umpty-leven different colorways  or you can do your own thing with threads, and $10 of each class fee goes to Doctors Without Borders for supplies to use in the fight against Ebola. I'm signed up--I chose Peach Sherbet on eggshell canvas--but there are only about another ten days to get involved. If you've ever taken a class from the Terrible Two, you know how much fun it is.  If you haven't, you need to. Consider it an early Christmas present, both for yourself and the world!


I'm starting to feel a strong hankering to get myself involved in another massive sampler project. There are several calling my name, both started and unstarted. This is dangerous.


I want to free up a couple of sets of scroll bars so I can put some other stuff on them. But I also want to start that other stuff immediately. This means I need to either finish up what's on those scroll bars ASAP, or I could buy more scroll bars. This way lies madness.

Especially since I could build an extension on the house with scroll bars and stretcher bars.


After my surgery, several of my friends noticed that I was not quite as large and lovely--still lovely, just not quite as large. However, last week we celebrated two birthdays at the office. For the first one, we had a potluck brunch--I haven't had that many fat grams in one day in years. The next day, we had cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes.  Then this week, we have the leftover Halloween candy, which keeps appearing. I am trying to rationalize that the protein in the peanuts offsets the sugar in the mini-Snickers. 

On that note, I'm going to stitch.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Enabling . . .

A couple of years ago, I stitched this:

Then last year, I got this and started it:

And this year there is a new one, but I can't seem to get the picture to load.

These are all ornaments designed by Barbara Jackson of Tristan Brooks, offered by Shining Needle Society. The new one is wonderful as are the other two. If you're not a member of Shining Needle, email and ask her to sign you up. It costs nothing to join--the only drawback I've been able to discover is that you find many, many things you wish to stitch.

Anyway . . .if you're just discovering Barbara's ornaments, you can catch up on them this year. Both the earlier kits are being offered.

And now I'm going to pull last year's ornament out of the stash and work on it so it will be finished before the new one arrives.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wintherthur, Day Two

One of the things I love about Winterthur is that they let you get upclose and personal with the pieces in the collection.  You're allowed to take photographs of articles in the collection and in the museum displays.

This is the original Mary Alsop pocketbook that Joanne Harvey reproduced for the class I took.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The morning again offered four lectures:

  • Judith Tyner's "Geography in Silk and Wool: Embroidered Maps and Globes"--Dr. Tyner is a geographer and cartographer and needleworker so it's not surprising she is fascinated by embroidered maps. It was delightful to get a glimpse into her passion--and she has a book coming out next year on the topic
  • Kim Ivey's "Records of Purpose and Pleasure: Quilts and Needlework from the Early South"--Kim is Curator of Textiles and Historic Interiors for Colonial Williamsburg, and her talk mirrored the themes of the Winterthur exhibit with examples from the early South. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, take it--her programs are always well thought-out and beautifully presented.
  • Lynn Hulse's "The Duke of Westminster's 'Umpire in Chief': Gertrude Jekyll and the Embroidered Furnishings for Eaton Hall, Cheshire"--Gertrude Jekyll is more known for her garden design than for her interior design but she did provide that service for those in late Victorian times. Sadly, there were only a few pictures of her contributions in that area.
  • Anne Hilker Sack's " . . .To Give it Room Enough to Grow" This lecture focused on Erica Wilson and her life as a needlework teacher and entrepreneur. I was very interested in this, simply because I started seriously embroidering at the time Wilson was providing kits and television shows and books making needlework accessible by using larger scale threads and shortcuts. In my late teens and early twenties, her whimsical designs and bright colors were appealing--I look back on it now and realize that I stitched her designs for fun and Elsa Williams' designs for heirloom quality (at least until Williams retired and sold to JCA). I'm of mixed opinions now on Erica Wilson's impact--a lot of people starting stitching because of her, but then again, she simplified both stitches and techniques so much--it's taken awhile to get over some of the bad habits. Near the end of the lecture, we saw a beautiful whitework piece--and, oh, how I wish I had the directions to embroider that now! I wish she'd had faith her audience could follow her to that level of skill.
After the lectures, we had another lovely lunch--with tables set outside in the sun! Hard to believe that was only a week ago--we had snow in BOTH Carolinas yesterday, not just in the NC mountains--then it was off to our afternoon sessions.

My first session was with Tricia Wilson Nguyen, my sensei of the 17th century. We're going to make this spray of flowers, a casket toy designed to fit in one of the drawers of our caskets.  It is tiny and oh, so sweet.

I actually did some stitching in this class. I made one very wonky petal. I've decided to hold off on working on this one until the long Thanksgiving week-end when I will have natural light and the Dazor magnifier available. I am not dwelling on the possibility that my pudgy, arthritic fingers may result in handing this off to Baby Girl to make for me.

After that, it was back to Joanne Harvey for the Mary Alsop pocketbook.  It is almost totally stitched in Queen stitches--what isn't Queen is cross over one.  And we got to see not only the original pocketbook but others in the Winterthur collection:

Here's the inside of the original. For a brief moment of insanity, I thought of attempting to do the scalloped edge--notice how the stripes are matched from the pocket to the back!--then accepted my limitations and have ignored that inspiration since.

Here's the needle book in another purse.

And another purse

And another . . .

And yet another . . .

And then it was time to leave.

Of course I wanted to stick a needle in every new project the minute I got back to the hotel room, but I didn't have the appropriate scroll bars and I felt the need to iron the linen before starting anything. Yes, I had an iron in the room but I've learned it's unwise to trust hotel irons.  So I fondled materials instead.

Besides, Dearly Beloved had made dinner plans for that evening, and I was in a carb coma afterwards--so stitching was probably not a good idea.

We had another couple of days of the Great Escape left--more about that tomorrow.