In my part of the world we say you are a fool if your passion for a pursuit overcomes all practical sense. I am a stitching fool, and I stitch foolishness.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I sing the needle electric

(with apologies to both Walt Whitman and Ray Bradbury)

Apparently all I needed was sleep. A lot of sleep. Because I am stitching again--and then some.

As planned, I slept in yesterday. Then I staggered out of bed, did what absolutely had to be done around the house, and picked up Journey, mainly because it was sitting right by my chair and had a threaded needle attached to it. Once I started, I could not put it down until just now.

We are throwing together a big chef's salad for dinner, then I believe I will pick this back up and see just how much more I can get stitched before bedtime. This is going to be another hectic week, so I need to stitch while I can.

And while I feel like stitching.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pitiful, just purely pitiful

March has not been a good month for needlework around here.

At this point, I had hoped to have the first band on Ellenor Wykcs and the third band on Anne Lawle stitched.

This is what I have:

 Pretty much what I had on Ellenor the last time she appeared on this blog.

All that I've done on Anne--and some of it has to come out.

I don't know if it's this ping pong winter--every time you think it's gone, it comes zooming back--or if I'm just working too many hours or if I've been distracted by other things, but somehow a needle hasn't been making it into my hand.  

I decided tonight that I was not going to worry about it. I have a feeling that when I pick that needle back up, it's going to be electrified.

Meanwhile, I did go over the finishing of the etui done my way at EGA last night. I think it was fairly successful. I think I confused only about half the people there.

And now I believe I'm going to take my book and go to bed. Today really should have been Friday.

Monday, March 24, 2014


I managed to get the upper left quadrant stitched, between last night and tonight.

Naturally, the minute I sat down to the frame last night, I saw the mistake, which Mary Agnes also immediately spotted.

You would think I would have noticed it at 11:47 p.m. last Friday night, when it totally puzzled  and confused me. The fact that I had been up since 6 a.m. has absolutely nothing to do with my fog.

Of course, the fact that I'm up at 6 a.m. every weekday morning probably has a lot to do with all of my fogginess. I do wish the world liked my internal clock, which Daylight Savings Time only messes up more. I would function better if I could go to bed at 1 a.m. and get up at 9. For some reason, it seems ever so much more civilized.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Is it really still March?

Has this turned into the longest month ever?

With that said, I'm not sure what happened to the last week. It vanished, and, to tell the truth, I really don't know what I did with it. I know I've been busy at work--it's time to labor away on quarterly reports--and I had doctors' appointments--and there was an ANG meeting--and suddenly it's Sunday night and time to do it all again.

And there is the potential for a winter storm in the weather forecast. Really?  I mean, REALLY? We've had the vernal equinox, for Heaven's sake! My kit for the Spring casket toys arrived from Amy Mitten and I've even printed and out read the directions. (Admittedly, I haven't stuck a needle in the winter toys, nor have I started the Mermaid, but I will. Soon. Relatively speaking.)

Somewhere in all this madness, I have done a wee bit of stitching.

I'm working on Journey again. With everything else going on, I decided I needed something that I could more easily pick up and put down without a lot of concern about stitch tension. And it would also be easier to pick up and put down if I don't have to deal with additional magnification. Now if I could just figure out exactly what I have been doing wrong on that upper left quadrant so I could do it correctly, this would all be happy.

However, this week-end I was doing some final finishing.

Cissy Smith of Gentle Pursuit Designs created this set, Autumn Gifts Sewing Purse and Pin Wheel, for our EGA chapter. She went over both stitching and finishing directions when the workshop was presented, but now that just about everyone has finished the needlework, we decided it would be a good idea to review the finishing.

Since I missed the board meeting when the programs were discussed, somehow I have ended up being the one who will lead this meeting. And (ahem) I didn't quite follow the directions on finishing the etui.

Options are always good.

Aren't they?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wandering to Williamsburg

Baby Girl and I are in Williamsburg.

We came to stitch on the Jamestown Jacket.

This is part of what she did today:

This is part of what I did today:

This is the snake I stitched the last time I was here, but which somehow didn't get photographed.

I wish we could stay over tomorrow and stitch some more, but we both have to be at work on Monday.

There is, however, a very devoted group of volunteers, many of whom have given their week-ends and every other spare moment to see this project complete.

I have heard that the designs created for this project will appear on a number of items available for purchase at the gift shops at Jamestown at some point in the future.  My hope is that somewhere along the way, someone will decide to offer embroidery kits using the motifs. 

Baby Girl and I would both be delighted to add them to our stashes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grand Proclamations

I grandly announced to a friend that I was going to stitch for at least two hours every evening, partly for stress relief and partly because there are so many things in this world that I want to stitch.  I announced this Sunday evening.

Monday evening I had to be a domestic goddess and iron. Dearly Beloved needed shirts, and all my "transition" shirts for this time of the year have to be ironed. By the time I put the ironing board away, I had maybe 45 minutes I could stitch. And then the Big Kid called, and I wanted to give him my full attention, so there was no needlework.

Tuesday I worked late.  I did manage to thread a needle but didn't get much done by the time we had dinner and did all the usual evening things.

Tonight I had to go to the Big Box store and pick up all those necessities that you go to the Big Box store to get. I don't know about you, but going to the Big Box store very nearly does me in, especially when the things I need are scattered from one side to the other.

I'm making no more grand proclamations.

This is what I've managed to do in between all the other bits and pieces of my life:

I'm still trudging along on the very top of the first band of Ellenor Wykcs.  At the moment, I'm trudging more slowly than usual. I'm filling in the acorn caps with satin stitch--which means I'm using a sharp needle. Since the outlines of the leaves are worked in the same color, I'm carefully traveling over to that part of the band and doing double running to set up the motifs. And I am way too lazy to switch needles from satin stitch to double running, so I'm being very, very, very careful to stick the linen with the sharp needle and not myself. It would probably take less time to switch out the needle, come to think of it.

I may not be feeling the love for this particular project at the moment, but Dearly Beloved is. As in, "You're not putting that one up, are you?  I like that one."

If I put a strand a day in it, I will eventually finish it.

That sounds like another Grand Proclamation.  I'm not making those any longer.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Threads, Threads Everywhere

and nothing to be seen.

I think it's either spring fever or Daylight Savings Time (about which I have ranted previously), but I can't seem to get myself going on anything at the moment.

I started Ellenor Wycks as part of an SAL. The first band is all double running and satin stitch, stitches I don't normally have problems accomplishing.

Unless, of course, you go over three threads instead of two at the beginning of the band.  So I ripped.

Rather than tempt fate, I decided to do a bit more on the little Christmas ornament from Jackie du Plessis that I started last week.

And I miscounted on that, too.

So I ripped.

This is what my worktable looks like at the moment:

 I think I'll go fold towels. That does not require counting to two.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Not much going on . . .

The last few days have not been good for needlework around here.

I've been a little under the weather--I'm much better now, but I haven't felt like stitching.

This did get done earlier in the week:

I'm not sure how I feel about this section. I'm not sure about the color or the pattern or how it fits with the center. I think I need to get the other three sections stitched before I make any major decisions, though, since there are times when the part needs the whole to make it all work together.

The problem is that I am not feeling the love for this project at the moment.  It has nothing to do with the design, actually, or canvas in general.  The seventeenth century is calling me. Loudly.

So, do I pick up a band sampler or jump back into Eve in the Garden or do I abandon the Ridiculously Overly Ambitious List and start something else?

I think I'll sleep on it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

21st century to 17th century

Well, I finished filling in all the bits and pieces of the center motif of Journey:

And I'm sitting here admiring it.  (Come on, now, admit it--you do the same thing when you've finished something interesting . . . or pretty . . . or worthy of admiration.)

And it occurs to me that if I played with the colors, this would make an incredible piece of upholstery for a king to reside upon when I stitch my Cabinet of Curiosities.

Or, if I did it in shades of gray, it could make a cobblestone road in front of a castle.  Or shades of brown would make a parquet floor.

I do believe I should pull out a piece of linen and doodle a bit, just to see how the scale would work over one on linen.

And I'm beginning to think I need to keep a notebook of all these doodles along with information on the source of the stitch or the inspiration so I can find it again.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back from the 17th Century

I really was planning to stay in the seventeenth century for awhile longer. I really was. But reality reared its ugly head and I realized that the next few weeks will be a little more hectic than usual.

So, I needed to stitch on something that isn't quite as demanding and can be more easily picked up and put down.

And the result is that I'm working on David McCaskill's Journey, which has the added benefit of needing no additional magnification.

With a few minutes free this afternoon, I began the center motif. It alternates Kreinik braid and Neon Rays, so it is very bling-y--I suppose that is fitting with the Academy Awards on the TV.

It just occurred to me--I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and the Academy Awards for the gowns. Somehow, I don't think that's quite what the producers intended for either.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Back to reality

This is a long one--you have been warned.

We're home again from our Williamsburg adventure. This was the best needlework-related trip there that I have made, and since I've been attending two stitching events a year in Williamsburg for about ten years, that's quite a statement.

When last I wrote, I had spent an afternoon working on the Jamestown Jacket with other members of the group. Later on, we went out for dinner together, with great stories told and lots of laughter.

The next morning, we had the opportunity to have a special tour of the current textile exhibit at DeWitt Wallace. Our docent gave us an overview of "Threads of Feeling" which includes some of the record books of the Foundling Hospital in London. Mothers left their babies there when they were no longer able to care for their infants, and they frequently left small tokens to identify their children if they were able to reclaim them (and I think there were fewer than 200 who were reclaimed). Sometimes these tokens were bits of fabric or ribbon or embroidery. These textiles would have come from the poorest inhabitants of the city and are almost never preserved; they normally would have been worn out and discarded while the clothing and other fabrics associated with the middling and upper classes might be preserved. Consequently, this resource gives the textile historian insights that otherwise could not happen. That fact is overshadowed by the poignancy of the stories told about the children and their mothers who could not care for them and who were attempting to give them literally a chance to live.

And, yes, there is a book about the exhibit.

We also had a chance to see the contents of the drawers which are usually locked. Yes, there are samplers. Yes, we clustered around them, discussing the design elements of each. Yes, we found quite a few we wish were reproduced so that we could stitch our own. And yes, we identified the ones that had been reproduced that we have in our stashes. Some of them are actually stitched, framed and hanging on our walls.

There will also be a book coming out concerning the exhibit on Baltimore Quilts, our next stop at the museum. The colors, the techniques, the expertise of the quilters--and we're talking hand-quilting with minute, perfectly spaced stitches--all were awe-inspiring. Our docent mentioned that there is some evidence that there were kits available for those who wished to make Album Quilts and pointed out a bird motif that appeared on two different quilts hung side-by-side.

And then we adjourned to the Education Center, where Christina, our lovely docent, had provided the wherewithal to make our own sewing rolls.  Mine has reached this state:

I still have the final sewing to do, hence the pins.  The fabrics are all reproduction Williamsburg prints--and there are enough pieces provided to make another roll--or maybe even a bag to carry the roll in. I'm considering . . .

Once back from this excursion, Dearly Beloved and I strolled to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch, then tottered and lurched back. He went back to the room to take a nap. I went to the stitching room to stitch.

I took three of the larger projects from the Ridiculously Overly Ambitious List to work on during the retreat. Did I stick a needle into any one of them?  Nope. I started a Christmas ornament. This is the progress:

Other than the Jamestown Jacket, this is the most stitching I managed to accomplish. However, the next day, our Fearless Leader of the Cabinet of Curiosities online class, Tricia Nguyen, led us through the lining of our trinket boxes. Keep in mind that I flunked gluing in kindergarten. Remember that I am also a klutz of the first magnitude. Despite all that, look at this!

I did this! And I didn't stick anything permanently to myself or to anyone else!

Then came one of the highlights of the whole event. One of the group had prepared a presentation showing highlights of stumpwork pieces in the Burrell, with commentary. I think I could have watched and listened to it three more times and not completely taken everything in--beautiful close-up shots of exquisite 17th century needlework, insights into the working of the pieces, and encouragement to "think outside the box" when doing our own work.

All I want to do now is stitch. And all I want to stitch is stuff that could have been stitched in the 17th century. And luckily, the first class from the Cabinet of Curiosities Class, part II, has been posted.  It's as close to a time machine as I can get, and I'm getting in it and taking off.