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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Random Mutters

Odds and ends of thoughts on a Tuesday:

As much as I love to see snow fall, I don't think I ever want to see as much as the Northeast is getting. I hope all the people I know who live in the path of the storm are safe and warm.

Dearly Beloved didn't even let me get my coat off when I got home from work before he was demonstrating how my new stand works. At this point, I'm not sure if it's mine or if he's adopted it! I haven't had a chance to even try out any frames on it--he's still playing with the options for angle and frame size. I do know it will fit my larger slate frame, mainly because Dearly Beloved gathered up a number of projects on frames to show me how well it works. He has been informed that if he wears it out before I get a chance to use it, he will have to buy me another one.

I finished the first side panel for the Tulip Tray. You will notice the date is 2012. I made a number of efforts to chart a "5" that looked like it belonged with the other numbers, and I was unhappy with them all. Since I actually started this project in 2012, I decided to use the date as charted, and I'll put 2015 (or 2016 or 2017 or whatever year I finish this) somewhere else on the project.

Of course, I had a moment of pure panic when I couldn't remember if I started this is 2012 or 2013--luckily I had blogged about it so I was able to determine that 2012 is correct.

I have a plea for all designers who design projects with places for personalization. Please, please, pretty please provide an alphabet that matches the alphabet you used for parts of the design. And if there are numbers anywhere, please include a chart for the same kind of numbers you used!

And, finally, our first EGA chapter meeting of the year is tomorrow evening. We're going to do the PHD (Project Half Done) challenge again, and you can take up to three projects as your challenge projects for the year.

I can't quite narrow it down to three--I've managed to get it to four:

The Tulip Tray, seen above

Fair Maiden's Workbag--close to having the stitching done for the main project, nowhere near close to getting the finishing accomplished

Eve in the Garden

And, finally, Hannah Thornbush

I have no idea which one to leave off--and I noticed that I have no canvas or other forms of needlework on the list--and I am completely aware that the minute I decide to make a list of projects to work on, something else immediately wanders into view and I'm off in another direction entirely.

And if this is the hardest decision I have to make in 2015, I am the luckiest person in the world!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Anticipation . . .

This giant box, which is taking up an immense amount of floor space, contains a treasure.

Just before Christmas, I ordered a frame stand from Judy O'Dell. I've been waiting, more or less patiently, for it to wend its slow way by mule train across the country. And today it arrived.

Now why, you ask, have I not torn into the box and put this thing together?

Dearly Beloved, that's why.

There is Some Assembly Required.  The stand is made from wood. Dearly Beloved loves wood and he loves to assemble things made of wood.  He had volunteered to put the stand together when it arrived.

However, he is under the weather, so under the weather he did not want to eat dinner tonight, he just wanted to go to bed. As he tottered and lurched his way upstairs, he growled at me to leave the box alone, he would take care of it tomorrow.

I am quite perfectly capable of putting the stand together. (I am Woman, hear me roar!) It would probably take me awhile, but I could do it.

Or I could wait and let Dearly Beloved assemble it, probably in less than 15 minutes flat and without trauma. Meanwhile, in the time I would have spent figuring out what to do and how to do it, I could be stitching.

I think I'll stitch.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

No idle hands

I've started one of the panels for the Tulip Tray:

Not much for a week-end, but I've been involved in another activity.

Dearly Beloved and I have been talking about the possibility of downsizing, which means we need to get rid of stuff to be able to live in smaller quarters. We decided to start with the closet in the master bedroom. We thought we could knock that out in a couple of hours.


We're still dragging stuff out and going through it. Dearly Beloved was distracted by a stack of old National Geographics stuck in a corner behind three boxes of books.  They were stowed there to get them out of the way while we figured out where to put another bookcase.  Based on the publication dates, they were stowed at least three bookcase purchases ago. And we need another bookcase since we now have stacks of books on the stairs. And if we move to a one-level home, we won't have stairs on which to stack books.

You may see part of the problem.

I have to admit I was distracted, too. In the far reaches, I found a large plastic storage box filled with projects all kitted and ready to go. It looks like The Essamplaire, The Examplarery, and Scarlet Letter threw up in the box put their entire inventories in my closet. There are also workshop and class kits from a variety of workshops and classes--all started.

I realize that I passed SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) a long, long time ago--but I think I'm into about the third or fourth incarnation.

So, rather than having one or two projects from the sooner-rather-than-latter pile in my corner, I have pulled out a lovely wicker trunk (also found in the closet), emptied it of a pile of clothes that are heading to Good Will, and filled it with a large assortment of things that I'd like to do sooner rather than later. It is now sitting near my chair where I can't miss seeing it, so that any time I plop into my chair, I have no excuse for idle hands.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week? What week?

This has not been a stellar week for stitching or blogging.

I had to go out of town for work. I took my needlework bag. I took my Ott light. I made sure I had extra needles and scissors and magnification. I never had a chance to thread a needle.

I missed the first ANG meeting of the year because of the trip.

I had to have a mammogram. About that experience, nothing needs to be said, other than I'd almost rather have a colonoscopy. Note I said I'd almost rather.

Finally, last night, I collapsed into the wing chair, unpacked my traveling needlework bag, and finished the bottom panel for the Tulip Tray.

With any luck, I'll get to stitch some more today. I was starting to go through withdrawal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

finished but not finish-finished

I had great plans for the first finish-finish of 2015.

It has yet to happen.

I've been diligently stitching away on Merry Cox's So Dear To My Heart, the project she taught at Christmas in Williamsburg in 2011. The plan was to complete the embroidery on Friday night. We went out to dinner instead.

So yesterday, I plopped myself down in the chair and finished the other side of the needlebook.

Today's plan was to start the finishing process. I thought about it so much last night that I even dreamed about finishing.

And then this morning dawned and I was not feeling the love for the iron, sewing machine, and rotary cutter.

So, instead I started stitching on the next project in the sooner-rather-than-later pile.

This darning pattern covers the bottom panel of Sherri Jones' Tulip Tray. I had started it at Jeannine's several years ago, then it didn't see the light of day until recently.

Apparently I have to let things age in the stash for three or four years before I become inspired to complete the stitching on them.

I'm not sure how long things have to age in the finishing basket before I want to finish-finish them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ever closer to the end!

I've almost finished the needle book for So Dear to My Heart!

I have all the lettering done, and that seems like a major accomplishment. I have mentioned before a time or two or two hundred that I don't enjoy stitching letters.

Actually, there is supposed to be another line of personalization on the spine of the case. Last night I spent the entire evening trying to chart something out, then stitching in a little, then ripping out, then re-charting, the stitching, then ripping until I finally put it all away and went to bed with a book.

In the middle of the night it struck me that I do not have to put lettering on the spine. I could do something entirely different--so I'm doing another vine.

In the middle of the night it also occurred to me that I hadn't stitched in the flowers on the vine around the second side, so I wasn't quite as far as I had thought--but I think I will be finished with the embroidery by the week-end.  Then I can ruin spend the week-end doing the finish-finishing.

And then I'll go to another project.

The mail carrier brought a couple of things this week that have gone into the pile of things to do sooner rather than later.

There are literally piles of threads for this project, an online class I'm taking from Marsha Papay-Gomula.  A couple of years ago I took her Bluebird Needle Case and have been very happy with it.  It was a no-brainer to sign up for this class as a result.  I need to iron the linen and locate the stretcher bars.

I have no idea why this picture is blurry, but it's the best of the lot that I took.  At least you can see how rich the colors look.

My dear friend Cissy of Gentle Pursuits has designed a pocketbook based on a piece in MESDA's collection. MESDA is the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. It is a treasure trove of exquisite furniture, textiles, and other examples of material culture from this part of the country. If you've been to DeWitt Wallace in Williamsburg for their latest exhibit, you've seen pieces on loan from MESDA.  

Anyway, Cissy is offering this design as either an individual chart or you can get a complete kit from her.  And I don't think I'm spilling too many beans to say that she's working on a set of smalls that will go in the pocketbook. Cissy also has a series appearing in SANQ at the moment.

I thought about starting one of these projects next, but I've also been leaning toward finishing Sherri Jones' Tulip Tray, which I started at Jeannine's Gathering several years ago. Cathy B at needleandthread has been working on hers lately and it's floated to the top of the sooner-rather-than-later pile.

And then I have a stitching retreat to attend in about six weeks . . .it's never too soon to start planning what to take to something like that!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Leaves and vines and leaves and vines

I've spent the week-end (thus far) stitching leaves and vines and outlines.

While I've been stitching leaves and vines, I've been trying to figure out how to personalize some of the areas.  When Merry Cox designed this set, she dedicated it to one of her granddaughters.

The Flash is not showing any inclination or desire to stitch, and, if he did, I'd need to stitch someone from Hogwarts instead of a lovely lady and sharks instead of flowers. I thought about just putting Baby Girl's name on it instead of Raina's, but when I said something about "precious Baby Girl," she almost barfed. I would really have to stitch "snarky Baby Girl" instead to be realistic.

That is a thought.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


I have been tempted to run away from home.

This is one reason:

This tiny bit is all I've had time to stitch this week. It's been a week full of obligations, commitments, and responsibilities. This has been difficult after my lovely long vacation. I was hurled into end-of-quarter and end-of-year reports at work, and Dearly Beloved is broken at home (he's thrown his back out and is having some major problems with one of his knees to the point he actually was willing to see the doctor).

And then it got cold. Not quite Minneapolis or Chicago cold, but I don't function well with single digit temperatures. I prefer to languidly sip cold drinks and fan myself over downing gallons of hot tea and shivering.

And then there have been other temptations.

Amy Mitten is bringing back her online class  on threadwinders and a bag in which to keep them. I took the class a couple of years ago. I have the kit. I have started the kit. I'm pretty sure I know exactly where to lay my hands on the kit. I have already stacked up a pile of kits that I have started that I want to work on, and I have a couple of things on their way to me to start that I've been thinking about since Christmas. I'm not sure I want to add something else to that teetering pile. Oh, who am I kidding . . .I'm likely going to slog upstairs when I hit publish and pull this project out, too.

And then SNS is doing me in again. In just the last day or so, Kate has announced two canvas classes, Judy Souliotis' Day Into Night and Carol and Michael's Shady Colors.

Now, I have to admit, Day Into Night would not fit into any part of my house. We tend to go for very traditional decor and this isn't. But I have this very large computer screen in my cubicle at work which allows one to see things in great detail--and there are some lovely, lovely designs and complex stitch patterns in Day Into Night--the kind of thing I really like to stitch. So I'm tempted.

On top of that, even though I just finished Mariposa at Christmas, Carole and Michael are offering another project. And again, there are the kinds of complicated stitches that I enjoy.  And there is a very elegant white/cream tone on tone colorway that speaks to me. Loudly. And I do mean loudly.

I am trying to be reasonable, I really am. After all, Dearly Beloved and I are edging into retirement sooner rather than later, and I could certainly save those funds. And I've allocated this month's budget for needlework already, and am committed to some upcoming workshops and events.

But I am tempted.  Painfully tempted.

I need to stay off the computer.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grumpy and Gloomy

Nope, I haven't been visited by a couple of dwarves.  I'm grumpy and the weather is . . .again . . .gloomy.

Ordinarily I don't mind cloudy days too terribly much. I figure that gives me permission to sip hot tea, read intriguing books, and stitch for hours. But we've had entirely too many cloudy, rainy, chilly days of late--welcome to the South in the winter--and I need some sunshine before I start flinging hissy fits.

Plus, the cold and damp make my arthritic joints and wonky knees complain. I couldn't find a comfortable position in which to put all my various parts when I went to bed, which made me quite fidgety. As a matter of fact, Dearly Beloved at one point in the night asked if I was doing a horizontal version of the Hokey Pokey. When I finally got to sleep out of sheer exhaustion, I slept too hard and too long and woke up too late--it felt like the whole day got away from me.

Yes, I would like some cheese with this whine.

There has been a minimal amount of needlework done today.

Instead of getting many stitches into my linen, I let my brain be sucked out by Pinterest, looking at things other people have stitched. I think I need to set a timer for Pinterest and once it goes off, no matter how enticing the trail I am on appears to be, I need to close the laptop and do something else.

And as soon as I hit Publish on this entry, I'm going to do exactly that.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Slowly and Carefully (and some enabling)

I'd hoped I'd be able to photograph this in natural light, but the clouds have moved in. Again.

I have spent the whole afternoon just getting the Nun's Stitch border worked in. NOT because I can't do Nun Stitch--I have stitched miles and miles of it--but because overdyed cotton threads do not take well to being tugged and pulled. Dyeing can weaken cotton fiber and overdyeing can weaken it more. To avoid shredding the thread, I've had to work very slowly and carefully. Since I'd rather work slowly and carefully than weave in broken ends and start new threads, slowly and carefully it's been.

All afternoon.

At this point, I had hoped to have the two thimble holders and the page holder for the needlecase stitched, and I had thought I would be able to start the needlecase itself. It appears, though, that I will be stitching slowly and carefully for another few hours.


Enabling Alert!

If you are not interested in enabling, just skip this and go to another blog.

You may have realized that I am a major fan of Barbara Jackson, who designs under the Tristan Brooks logo. She has just announced a new online class, her Sylvan Scenes Basket, through Shining Needle Society.

OK, there are some caveats: she had only a very limited supply of the baskets for which the band was originally designed. When the class was announced, it was with the provision that once the baskets were all spoken for, the other options would be instructions and materials with no basket, or instructions only. Apparently the basket option sold out in something like 20 minutes.

However, the design will fit around other baskets, so if you have a basket you'd like to adorn, this is a possible class for you. The design is a series of vignettes in early Americana style, much like the ornaments she has been teaching for SNS for the last three years, and the color palette is Barbara's usual  lovely series of blues, roses, and greens.

I'm very happy that I have the kit in the stash and I even know exactly where it is, so I'm auditing the class. Actually, when I was destroying my stash room looking for stretcher bars the other day, this was one of the projects I ran across and set aside as a project of interest for stitching sooner rather than later.

Now I just have to dive back in and find stretcher bars that will fit the linen for this project.

Dearly Beloved has suggested tying a line to my jeans so if I don't come out in a reasonable amount of time, he can reel me in.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

If you're going to spend the rest of the year the way you spend New Year's Day, I'm in trouble.

I spent a good chunk of it clearing and organizing and cleaning and searching and very little of it stitching.

Because you have to tear things up in order to bring them into order, it looks like a needlework store threw up in two different rooms. I have a feeling my week-ends for the next month or so are going to be involved in getting things into some kind of order. It is a daunting task. This started with a search for stretcher bars and evolved into trying to find a new home for the sewing machine and a clear horizontal surface that can be used for finish-finishing. I have also determined that I really need to inventory all my stuff.

There was a small bit of stitching.

You will note that these stretcher bars do not fit the linen. I know I have 16" mini-stretcher bars somewhere. I could only find 18" bars, so I'm improvising. Thus far, it's working.

And tomorrow I go back to work. At least it's a Friday, and we're allowed to wear jeans on Fridays--so the return won't be quite as shocking to my entire system. I just hope I won't go into withdrawal when I don't have a needle in my hand during the daylight hours.