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, June 29, 2014

Wild and wonderful . . .

We went to visit The Flash this week-end. He was literally bouncing up and down when we arrived. And he never stopped. He announced on a regular basis, "I'm so exciting!" His mother would gently correct him, saying, "I'm so excited."  He would stop bouncing for a minute, look at her, and then state firmly, "I'm so exciting."  I tend to believe him.

I actually managed to get a shot of him without something in front of his face! He was showing me the giant teeth in the mouth of a dinosaur before we left this morning.

Yesterday we spent the morning at a street festival and the afternoon recovering from the humidity at the street festival. We also watched a Care Bears movie, which I realized I had watched with his father and aunt. It then occurred to me that we perhaps have a Care Bear hiding in a box in a closet somewhere, and it may be time to excavate that closet.

I took my needlework bag with me. I swore this time that I was going to put a stitch or two into something before we left for home, and I did:

I finished the flowers on the flap of the Posey Needlecase, which means the stitching for the body of the case is completed and I can start working on the bits and pieces that go inside.  This was last night's stitching before I tottered off to bed. At nine p.m.

We arrived home mid-afternoon today and after starting the first of three loads of laundry and putting together a lasagna, I decided to work on Morning Has Broken for a bit.

The blue flowers are now getting their backstitching. I'm beginning to think I need to change the completion date on this project from 2014 to 3014, mainly because these motifs are taking forever. This one isn't done yet, and it has a twin on the other side.  I keep telling myself that each stitch I take is getting me closer to a finish. I keep telling myself I'm going to love this when it's hanging on the wall. I also keep telling myself that I need to put some more time into the sampler--like maybe a few hours on the week-ends. Slow and steady wins the race, but, wow, I think they changed the finish line.

I also think I need to figure out a way to channel The Flash's energy level so I can turbo-stitch on this.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Veeeeerrrrrrry Slow Progress

I'm making progress, but it's slow. So slow. Slow, slow, slow.

More blue on Morning Has Broken, worked over one thread.

Another motif on Journey with no visits from the frog farm as yet.

And the butterfly on Eve in the Garden, also over one.

When I get through this batch of projects, will someone please remind me to look for  things that are not stitched over one thread?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Committed again

OK, I did it again. I put a date on something before I finished stitching it. Now I have to get it completed before the end of the year:

If I had had only one more hour before I needed to go to bed, I could have completed those three little flowers below the basket.  

This may be my travel piece this week-end. We're going to visit The Flash and his parental units. We haven't seen them since November, what with the horrendous winter weather, my surgery and recovery, and their move to a new abode. (Dearly Beloved was not going to go to visit and be put to work.) I was afraid The Flash was going to be six feet tall with a full beard before we saw him again, but I've been reassured that he hasn't grown quite that much.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I Stalk the Mail Carrier

In the last few days, my dear, sweet, wonderful mail carrier has delivered:

Two lovely kits from Barbara Jackson, one brand new and the other almost sold out.

Amy Mitten's Summer Solstice kit. I'm not a big fan of bugs, but I do like these.

The first kit for the Stumpwork part of the Casket of Curiosities class. You will notice I am not showing the contents of the box. I'm not showing the present that came with it. There are people in the class who haven't received theirs yet, and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

With all this fun stuff arriving on my doorstep, I need to stitch! And I am, starting right this very minute.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Crossing my Eyes

It appears that everything I'm doing currently is over one linen thread.

(I'm not sure why this picture has rotated but it doesn't seem to want to move out of this position.) This was Thursday evening's work on Eve in the Garden. The butterfly is the first of four motifs that make up the spine of the "book" that will be created when this project is finished. And, of course, it's all tent stitch over one.

Then we moved to Friday night and I worked on the stitching for Trianon.

Now this picture is oriented correctly. I give up trying to understand why this happens.

Anyway, this little basket of flowers, which also is partially worked over one thread,  will go on the outside of the threadwinder case. Today I also managed to stitch the border pattern for the pocket that will actually hold the threadwinder.

That may be all I manage to stitch today.  I have been awake since 4:25 a.m. I didn't want to be awake since 4:25 a.m. but I have been.

We had a brief power outage at that time this morning, and when I say brief, I don't think it lasted 30 seconds. When everything came back on, somehow the old and out-of-service alarm system--the one that hasn't worked in 25 years--the one that the new alarm system people said was disconnected and there was no reason to remove the keypads since they were not connected to anything--that alarm system--started making high-pitched wails from each of the two keypads remaining from that system.

I remembered the original code and punched it in to turn the thing off. It did not respond. I flipped breakers. That seemed to make it angrier. I tried to pull the keypads off the walls. I broke a nail.  I will admit that I hit one of them with a shoe, which did nothing but make me feel foolish.

And where was Dearly Beloved during all this? He was called in to work last night where he was dealing with his own technology issues. I did call him at 5:10 a.m. and he suggested everything I had already tried (except hitting it with a shoe), then he promised he would get home as soon as he could and for me to "try to get some sleep."

Yeah. Right.

Anyway, he made it home at about 7:30, mentioned that it was good that you couldn't hear the stereo alarms from outside since the neighbors would likely complain, and went off to get his toolbox. Within five minutes,  he had the upstairs keypad silenced. He had yanked the keypad off the wall and cut the wires, those wires that were supposedly disconnected. He repeated the process downstairs, and there was blessed quiet.

Why didn't I go to bed then, you ask.  It's Saturday, and we go to the regional farmers' market to stock up on fresh fruit and veg for the week. We've found if we don't go early, the best stuff is gone. So we did that.

Why didn't I go to bed after that, you ask. Because our townhome community is being painted and the afternoon thunderstorms (welcome to the Carolinas in the summer) have thrown off the schedule. Just as I was about to go upstairs and fall facedown on the bed, I realized that someone was climbing a ladder in order to paint the trim on the eaves and around the window in our bedroom.

At that point, I had something of a second wind and several piles of laundry that needed to be done, so I have resigned myself to sleep deprivation.

And instead of dealing with the bounty from the farmers' market for dinner tonight, we're getting Chinese delivery. Then I'm crashing and burning.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Singing the Blues

Actually not, but the last two evenings I worked with blue silk.

The green and golds on the flowers are done and I started the blue flowers on the left of the bee skep.

Then I had more time than I thought I would after ANG last night and finished the blue silk and started the couching on this motif in Journey.

Thinking about what day this is, I should probably change the header. As of today, Dearly Beloved and I have been married for 38 years, thus amazing and confounding those who said it would never last.  Then again, we decided that divorce was not an option. Murder, yes, but divorce, no.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random Ramblings

It is very difficult to put a project away when you're having fun with it. These flowers were a delight to stitch.

And then there is the basket--One of my numerous great-aunts (I had about 18 of them, if you count the ones married to great-uncles) had a set of embroidered doilies on her dresser with this very basket on it.

Obviously it is not complete, but it was time for bed and I had to put it away.

Ellie is right about keeping interest high when you can only work on something one evening a week. I know I said that last week, but I can't believe how true it is.  I should. Ellie is a force of nature.

Tonight I go back to Morning Has Broken.

Tomorrow night is a dilemma because I have an ANG meeting. I'm looking forward to going to it since I had to miss meetings due to the recovery process (and the fact that I didn't want to face plant and drool in the middle of a meeting when I suddenly needed to nap). However, Journey will not get its evening.

So, do I push it back an evening or do I just skip it when I have guild meetings or do what I can in the approximately 15 minutes of free time I will have tomorrow night? Of course, if this is the most difficult decision I have to make, this is a good thing.

And there is another dilemma. ANG periodically offers cyberclasses, and they recently offered Dorothy Lesher's Dragonmaster. I went back and forth about signing up for it and was about to avoid temptation until Dearly Beloved caught sight of it. He thought it was a good thing to stitch--that is, a good thing for me to stitch.

I was planning to print out the lessons and bank this project for later. Then I found, like several other people in the group, that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and a close-up photo of the first lesson is invaluable in understanding the directions. The problem is that it apparently cannot be printed out--I know, I tried everything from a screen shot to attempting to download and print to standing on my head and chanting.

So, it appears that I should be stitching on this while the visual aids are available. And, since it's worked on black Congress cloth, I need to work on it while I have daylight. I do not believe my employer would be thrilled if I worked on it in the office, so that means I have just assigned this to the week-end.

I was planning to spend week-ends in the 17th century. I was also planning to have only one canvas piece in the rotation at any given time. 

Flexibility is good.  So I'm reviewing my week-end list of potential projects to fit it all in.

Now if I could just quiet the Domesticity Demons who seem to think I should want to dust and vacuum and polish and swab and mop . . .

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Major Happy Dance

In the Mood Red is completed!

Now that it's done, I'm going to work on the stitching for Jackie du Plessis' Trianon and Tricia Nguyen's Eve in the Garden of Eden on the week-ends for awhile. Actually, I did pull Eve out of her pillowcase Thursday night and realized my life would be much easier if I basted the outlines for the front, spine, and back before I went any further. That pretty much took up my stitching time for that evening. Now I can get back to stitching the designs and experimenting with the threads on that piece.

A friend once asked how I could reconcile stitching some of the glitzy canvases I do with samplers and smalls.

The flippant answer is that it all involves  a threaded needle.

It's actually more than that. I think they appeal to different parts of my stitching life.  The canvas pieces tend to involve different techniques and materials from the samplers I love to stitch. Those are usually created with silk and linen only. I've always loved toys--the smalls appeal to that desire to play with little things. And then there are the over-the-top designs and stitches of the 17th century projects . . . which, when you stop to think, have as much of the glitz as the contemporary pieces do. Hmmmmmmm . . .

Basically, it does boil down to a threaded needle. Let's just leave it at that and forget analyzing it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wee tiny leaves and frogs

Nope, I didn't go on a nature hike.  I've been stitching for the last two evenings.

On Tuesday, I spent my evening working tiny, tiny, tiny leaves (cross stitch over one thread) on Morning Has Broken.

I have been asked why I don't work in hand and sew because it would go ever so much faster. Quite frankly, I don't like the way my stitches look--they're just prettier to me when I keep the fabric taut and stab. So I will plug away at my turtle's pace. Besides, there are times when stabbing linen quite possibly keeps me from stabbing something (or someone) else.

Last evening, was Journey's turn. It is quite possible that I should have gone to bed with my book. It is quite possible that I should have cleaned a closet. It is quite possible that I should have baked a cake. In short, it is quite possible that I should have spent my evening doing anything but stitching.

There was a frog invasion.

Those little filler motifs, you may be able to see, change direction. For some reason, when I got to the bottom of the section, I just blithely stitched them all the same direction.  I could understand doing that when I started out--I don't always look as closely at the directions as perhaps I should--shocking, I know--but not after I have spent the previous hour and then some changing the orientation of every other motif.

I was starting on the compensating motifs along the sides when it struck me that something looked not quite right. It didn't take long to figure out what it was. For a brief moment of sheer insanity, I thought about just leaving it.

Of course, it would be the only thing I would ever notice about this design if I did--so I invited the frogs in and ripped and restitched.

Tonight I pull out Eve in the Garden of Eden, which has not been touched since winter. It may take me my stitching hours to figure out exactly where I am.

Or maybe I'll take my book to bed, or clean a closet, or bake a cake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pretty Posies

Last night I stitched pretty little pink flowers:

If I had been able to count accurately, there would be more stitched than this. I'm attributing it to anesthesia brain. I understand that can be used as an excuse for at least a year after surgery.

Tonight is Morning Has Broken night, and the section I'm doing is all over one. I think the Dazor needs to be plugged in.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Resisting Temptation

This is the project scheduled for tonight's stitching pleasure:

This is the project that is singing a siren song:

They're both Jackie du Plessis designs. They're both sets of smalls. Trianon is a limited edition class offered by Shining Needle Society and the first set of instructions was available for download today.

I've just started the Ellie Program, and already I'm being tempted to throw those plans to the winds and jump into something else.

It occurred to me as I write this that I can use this as the carrot to finish In the Mood Red this coming week-end--then I can slot Trianon into my week-end space.

Temptation defeated. Ellie and Posies win!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy Skip

It's not quite a happy dance yet, because there is still a series of borders that must be stitched to even out the edges--but all the motifs on In the Mood Red are stitched.

It has been entertaining to stitch, but I'm not quite sure what I will do with either this project (when the borders are completed) or the companion piece I finished last year. Our home tends to the traditional rather than the contemporary, and I lean towards hanging samplers on the wall.  I do have some geometrics framed and hanging, but they tend to be more understated. At the same time, I really like some of the patterns and textures created by the stitches and colors in both In the Mood designs.

Dearly Beloved just put this all into perspective.  "Where," he just asked, "do we have a space to hang anything else?"

I think that just answered the question.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

So close but oh, so far away . . .

This week's assignment for In the Mood Red involved the final four motifs. Last night I had visions of having them all done today, then I could do the borders tomorrow, and this would be off the list and would free up next week-end for something else.

I've managed two and a half motifs. And, after the last half motif, my brain is fried and my eyes are crossed and my fingers are cramped into claws. All I need to do is sew some sequins on in an odd and unusual way and that motif will be finished.

I don't believe that I can count in an odd and unusual way at this point, so I'm taking my book and going to bed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So far, so good

So last night was the first night that I really implemented The Ellie Program.

And it worked quite nicely.

This was two hours' work on Journey. I was able to completely stitch the small motif at the top and set up the whole grid for the longer section down the side.

And I noticed a couple of things.  When I sat down to stitch for my scheduled two hours, there was no shilly-shallying around. Normally when I plop into the wing chair, I spend some time looking at the basket 'o projects or just grabbing whatever is on top, whether it's something I'm particularly interested in or not. Not last night. I knew what I was scheduled to work on and everything was ready for me to go.

I also surprised myself by how focused I was on the needlework. On some level, it was as though I realized that I have only two hours to work on this project this week, so I needed to make every minute count.

I think Ellie may be on to something.

Of course, the schedule is blown tonight. Baby Girl and her housemate are coming for a long week-end visit. Coincidentally, my sister, aka The Saint, will be in town, so  Dearly Beloved and I are doing a fast de-clutter and removing the top layer of grime. Given that my housekeeping has been all but nonexistent during the recuperation . . .well, maybe we should do everything tomorrow evening by candlelight!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Ellie Program

You may notice from the slightly lopsided picture that this is not Jackie's Pocket of Posies needlecase. Instead, it is Morning Has Broken and the beginning of the big flowers on either side of the bee skep.

And this is because I am trying out the Ellie program.

I met Ellie almost thirty years ago when she took a knitting class from me.  (In an earlier life, I taught knitting classes at my local yarn shop.) Ellie is a phenomenal quilter. She is also one of the most prolific quilters I have ever met.  And I do mean prolific. She finishes anywhere from 20 to 35 quilts a year. She makes at least two Baltimore Album quilts every single year, usually given as wedding presents. This does not include things like stuffed animals and tote bags and place mats and wall hangings. And she works full time.

So I sat down and emailed her after she sent me a picture of her latest project, a wall hanging of the periodic table for her husband the chemistry professor. I simply wanted to know how she did it, assuming of course that her husband had not enlisted the biology department and cloned her.

Ellie picks out about four or five projects she wants to work on and assigns them one evening a week. She works only one evening per project. She makes sure she has at least two hours an evening free to sew, and she has each project in a basket or bag with all the bits and pieces ready to go. Then, on the week-ends, she plays with whatever project she feels like. She did tell me that she has a travel project that is small and portable for the trips she and her husband take.

She has one definite rule. No matter how excited she is about a project, it only gets its assigned evening during the week. She says that keeps the interest high. If she absolutely loves it, she plays with it on the week-end.

She also varies the type of project from one night to the next. At the moment, she is appliquéing the blocks for another Baltimore Album on Monday.  On Tuesday, she is cutting out and sewing together the squares for a cathedral window quilt.  Wednesday she is constructing a stuffed animal for a grandchild due in August. Thursday she is working on a quilt for that same baby. Then the week-end officially starts on Friday evening.

So I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going to vary mine a bit and use my week-ends for projects that I want to finish sooner rather than later or pre work for workshops or things that need a long, long period of concentration.

I will let you know how it works!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Switching Gears

Last night I finished the last motif for this week's lesson on In the Mood Red:

And I sat and pondered. There are only four more motifs and a bunch of borders to do, and even though the online lessons haven't been posted that cover those parts, I believe I could figure them out.

But I have been craving linen. And with all the pain meds finally out of my system, I thought I could probably focus well enough to pick up one of those projects.

The one that was on top was Jackie du Plessis' Pocket for Posies Needlecase.

Before I lurched off to bed, I stitched this:

which is a very small part of this:

In my defense, there are eight different colors in that little spray of flowers. And seven of them are stitched in wool. I have not used wool on linen before, so it took a little bit of getting used to. Come to think of it, I haven't used a lot of wool in years and years, since the good old days of Paternayan and basketweave.  It makes a very pretty stitch, though, and the colors are so very, very soft and delicate. I am going to love doing this project.

But at the moment, I am waiting for the delivery guy to bring our Chinese take-out.  Neither Dearly Beloved nor I slept very well last night and this is about what we can handle for dinner tonight. However, if he doesn't get here soon, I'm not sure anyone will be awake to answer the door.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

rebooting 2014

The Big Kid and I were talking the other evening about what a totally crappy year 2014 has been in oh, so many ways.

We are not prone to doom and gloom. Our general philosophy can be summed up as "Life is short. Misery is optional." But this year seems to have been rife with work-related stress, health issues, and difficult situations that both friends and family are suffering.

Well, I have had enough. I'm done. I am rebooting 2014 and looking for the sunny side.

As we all know, my sunny side involves a shiny needle. And I did get some stitching done this week on In the Mood Red.

This was the first week I've been back in the office for full days, and my stamina still isn't quite where I would like for it to be.  I am determined, however, that this week will be better and I won't need to come home and take a nap. Instead, I'd like to come home and stitch awhile--that should be just as restful as snoring. That's the plan, anyway.

There is something else to really look forward to. Winterthur offers a textile seminar every three years, and this is the year. The lectures and classes have been posted on their site ( It looks to be another outstanding gathering.  And, yes, I'm already planning to sign up as soon as registration opens.