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.