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, August 30, 2015

New Normal

There's been a longer gap than usual between blog posts as I navigate the new normal. With consultations about Mother's health and prognosis, conversations with The Saint and Mother about Mother's health and prognosis,  the two-hour drive each way to see how Mother is doing for myself, and a rather hectic work schedule (which will be getting more hectic in the next few weeks),  blogging had to take a back seat. It may be that way for awhile.

I've stolen a few minutes here and there to stitch:

The stitching part of the Beaded Garden Accessories set has been finished:

Yes, I know part of them are upside down to the others.  This is due to long stretcher bars and short arms.

I finished filling in the rest of the colored bits in the cartouche for Eve in the Garden. Now I'll start to fill in the insides with Eve and Adam.

The original design has the Tree of Life and the Serpent on both sides. I've been thinking of changing that a little so I can put name and date on the left side, which will be the bottom of the box when it's put together. I had thought of stitching Adam and Eve as they were before the Serpent entered the picture, but Dearly Beloved was shocked. As we can't have Dearly Beloved shocked, I've changed my mind on that.

By the way, Tricia is offering Eve in the Garden as an online class which will start October 1. I understand that there is a limit to the number of participants who can take the class. As usual, I don't profit from enabling--I just like to enable so others will sign up which will keep my favorite designers designing.

And a lot of reading material arrived in my mail box:

I've read Inspirations and NeedleArts from cover to cover. Just Cross Stitch, not so much. Like every other serious stitcher I know, I am so sad that Annie's Attic has chosen to cease publishing Sampler & Antique Needlework Quarterly. Actually, I was planning to drop JCS, and renew SANQ for three years when that subscription ended. I am willing to give JCS a chance to offer some of the same types of project that was published in SANQ, but if they don't take the opportunity, I'll be gone. I have a feeling that I'm not the only one to feel that way, and I wonder how much longer JCS will be around.

And what about finishing, you ask. Until things settle down, I'm not chancing it. I can take out stitches I put in the wrong place. If I cut fabric the wrong way, it's not quite as easy to repair.

Of course, I think I need to start another finishing basket since the current one is still full.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pins and Needes

The minutes snatched here and there for stitching have resulted in the completed embroidery for the front of the needlebook and the front of the pin keep that are part of the Beaded Garden Accessories.

Thanks for all who have asked about Mother. We spent the day with her yesterday. She is very fragile physically, but her mind is as sharp as ever. She has both physical and occupational therapy scheduled to strengthen her legs and arms. The next big hurdle is getting her to understand that a walker is probably going to become her constant companion. And there is an MRI scheduled.

Keep in mind that the last time Mother was hospitalized was when she gave birth to The Saint almost 60 years ago. She does not take any medication. At all. The only medical procedure she has had in her entire life was her cataract surgery, and that was an out-patient procedure. If you think she's planning to give into infirmity . . .well, she has no experience with it and definitely has no patience with any of this.

Which means we have to develop some patience of our own to deal with her impatience.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Off Track

My 87-year-old mother took a tumble this week, so the usual plans for the week and week-end have been derailed.

What she told The Saint* and me was that her knee "gave out." What she didn't tell us was that she hit the floor and was bruised, bleeding, and disoriented. What she didn't tell us was that she had to start using a walker to get around. What she didn't tell us was that she had planned to drive herself to the doctor's office, which alarmed the administration at the retirement center where she lives so much they called The Saint to intercede.

The Saint apparently broke all land and sea records to get to her so she could get her to the doctor's office. The Saint then called me and told me not to come--at least not until the week-end. So that's what we're doing this week-end. Baby Girl is coming, too.

We do expect her to recover. We have also realized that one of us absolutely has to be available for any medical situations. Mother is deaf as a post--which she refuses to admit--after all, she can "hear whatever I need to hear"--well, no, she can't. I have suggested that she take a notebook with her and write down what she hears, then check with the doctor or physical therapist to make sure she has it written down correctly. I think that will help, as well as give her another pathway to remember things.

I hope I'm still as self-sufficient and independent as she is, assuming I'm still around in another 25 years. But I just hope I can accept help when I need it!

So there is almost no stitching going on, even though I definitely need it for stress relief. I'll be back on track with that and the blog once we know what we need to handle and how best to handle it.

* The Saint is my sister, who generally deals with my mother's issues and affairs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Judy Souliotis

We've lost another treasure from the needlework world this past week.  Judy Souliotis has passed away.

I took this class from her through SNS a number of years ago, before I started blogging. It exhibits those characteristics that made her designs so compelling:  the elegance of her design line, her unerring sense of color, and her choice of the most appropriate stitches for each area.

Her directions were extremely well-written and made it obvious that she believed that her students were well able to live up to her standards.  While I never took a f2f class from her, I was delighted to stitch this design and to be a "ghost" in some of her classes. We had mutual friends, so we shared meals at Callaway and various ANG seminars while she was still traveling to teach. She was always a delightful companion with a sparkling smile.

I will miss knowing that she's in the world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sweet Little Things

Yesterday was a finishing day, and I can add the Perfume Bottle Etui and the Compact Pin Keep to the Fair Maiden set.

the outsides

the insides

I am pretty happy with them, even if they did take all day. I was determined to take this process slowly and carefully. Slow and careful takes a lot of time.

So does the reorganization, which has come to a standstill at the moment. Once I hauled everything upstairs and threw it on the bed in the guest room/shrine to Baby Girl's girlhood, I went into the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.

Today I am catching up on Domestic Diva Duties and tending to Dearly Beloved, who has come down with a major cold. He is just a wee bit cranky.

I'm thinking of putting him in isolation until he gets over both the cold and the crankiness.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Progress Report

In the grand clean-up, it appears that nothing is being accomplished other than stacks of things are being shifted from one location to another. This appears to be the norm when I rearrange things.

However, the reams of paper have been stuffed into their page protectors and then into their notebooks, with the exception of about half a dozen sheets. This is when I ran out of page protectors.

I had started the project sorting by attempting to put the things I wanted to do right now in a pile of their own. Everything was landing in that pile. There was a fallacy in my sorting method.

So then I decided to try to at least prioritize things and was using the couch to line things up.  It was at this point that Dearly Beloved walked in to watch TV and went into a Sheldon meltdown.

"You've covered up my spot with your stuff. Where am I supposed to sit? Can we move some of this stuff?"

We have three other quite comfortable chairs in which he could sit, as well as a quite uncomfortable one and a bench. None of these options would work.

So I slid things over and tried to figure it all out on paper, then decided to haul it all upstairs and sort it on the bed in what used to be Baby Girl's room and which is now the guest room.

I just hope nobody needs to spend the night with us for awhile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Last night I started the Beaded Accessories, another SNS class from Jackie du Plessis.

When I was trying to arrange my bead tray and the linen and the chart and everything else for the most efficient way to work, I came to the realization that there is Just. Too. Much. Stuff. in my corner.

There are project bags and finishing supplies and stretcher bars and scroll frames and a couple of reams of paper that need to be slid into page protectors and filed in their class notebooks. I am beginning to feel more than a little overwhelmed by the whole situation.

So I'm taking a couple of days to get at least this much organized before I am lost in an avalanche of needlework.  We are assuming it will take a couple of days. If my estimates on organization are as unrealistic as the amount of time I think any needlework project will take, it may be a couple of weeks.

Anyway, if the blog is quiet for a day or two (or ten),  you know what's going on.

I hope I know what I'm getting into.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Last of the posies

There were two more accessory pieces to go with Fair Maiden, and I finished the embroidery for both this afternoon.

The plan at the moment (and subject to change) is to spend next Saturday and Sunday, when I have long blocks of time, putting all these smaller projects together. This means I need to decide which project to work on between now and then.

I may stick with the Jackie projects and get the Beaded Garden Accessories stitched. Or I may work on Eve in the Garden. Or I may spend time locating stretcher bars and getting things set up to start.

Dearly Beloved asked why I didn't just set a goal of assembling one accessory piece every evening this week after work. You'd think that after all these years, he would know the answer. I looked at him and said "sewing" and he said "oh" and that was the end of that conversation. Apparently he really did know the answer . . .

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lovely Day

I came very, very close to getting the embroidery finished on the Fair Maiden Perfume Etui last night. If I'd stayed up a couple of hours longer, I could have had it done and ready for finishing.

However, I knew I needed to get to bed at a reasonable time because today was the Piedmont Heritage Sampler Guild's meeting, which is about a two-hour trip away.

So I picked up a friend and off we went down the highway.

I'm so glad I went! Aside from the enjoyable trip to and from, with lively conversation that made the miles fly, we had a very interesting presentation about the schools that operated in Fayetteville, NC in the 1800's. We also had the opportunity to see photographs of samplers which are being reproduced by
two of our very talented members. One of the samplers will be taught as a workshop for the Carolinas Sampler Guild next April. We are hoping the other will also become a workshop for Piedmont Heritage Sampler Guild (hopefully) next year.

When I am allowed to show pictures and provide details, I will. I can't wait to stitch them both.

Lunch with some of the group followed the meeting, and then home to find another goodie in the mailbox.

The materials kit for Celeste Chalasani's Autumn Jewels project arrived in today's mail. This is an online class offered through EGA. I've been doing quite a lot of counted thread this year, and I wanted to do something a little different, and this is stumpwork, which I like, so win-win!

In addition, yesterday I got the prework information for Susan Johnson's 18th Century Sampler, a whitework project to be worked on Congress Cloth.

And Jackie posted the first lesson for her Beaded Garden Accessories early. Since that kit has already arrived, I can start on it whenever I please.

It feels like the beginning of the school year, with bright new projects and shiny new threads. I need to pull out my magnifier and get to work.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Doesn't Play Well with Others

There aren't many things in this needlework world that I truly dislike but I have found one thread that is just about to drive me around the bend.

I've started one of the smalls to accompany the Fair Maiden Etui. This is the Fair Maiden Perfume Etui, which will hold the scrimshaw ruler and bodkin. It is so very precious that I don't know that I can stand it.


It is outlined in a gold metallic thread that comes on a spool. I had thought about using Gilt Silk Twist, since it was used extensively in the Etui and the Needle Roll. I have plenty left from the main project. And I absolutely love the way GST looks. The two of us have come to an understanding so we know how to cooperate with each other.

But then I thought more. The Perfume Etui is engineered to use the metallic thread, including the "stopper" for the "vial." I wondered if I changed all that if everything would fit together. So I went ahead and worked with the thread that came with the kit.

The outline is done. I don't know if you can see the thread lying across the linen, but you may be able to see that it is made up of three strands. On the spool, the strands appear to be twisted, but the minute you cut the thread, they immediately decide that they do not wish to be associated with each other in any way for any longer and they start untwining. Not only that, but one of the strands decides it wants to bubble up and create weird little loops on the surface of the work. Consequently, the user spends a great deal of time running her fingernails from the bottom to the top, trying to smooth that rebellious strand into place.

I have tried waxing the thread to see if that would stick it together. It laughed. I tried retwisting. That made it even more rebellious. I used short lengths. I used long lengths. I said ugly words. I finally decided to just grit my teeth and periodically snarl and get it done.

So I did.

Of course, I also have to wrap some rings with this same bloody thread to create the cap the closes the top. While I'm already using the thread, I may as well get that step over with.

And then I will do something I have done only once before in my stitching life.

I'm going to throw the rest of the thread away.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finally but not necessarily Finely

Fair Maiden Etui is finally all put together.

I love the bouquet of flowers on this side.

And here are all the storage compartments.

Now I need to get the smalls that go with it stitched and finish-finished.  And I really need to get in gear for that, since the mail carrier brought this today:

The class starts on Saturday, but I think I'll still be working on the other Fair Maiden bits and pieces.

And I have Briar Rose to put together after that.

However, nothing is going to happen tonight. I had an appointment with the ophthalmologist today. My eyes look like they belong in a horror movie, and the appointment was hours ago. Light is still bothersome--I'm writing by the glow of the laptop screen--and my focus is a bit blurry yet. These are not good conditions under which to attempt to thread a needle. I suppose I could run the vacuum cleaner instead. Notice the marked lack of enthusiasm for this activity.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sooner or Later

I was hoping for sooner, but it looks like it will be later.

I've had some marathon stitching sessions the last couple of days, trying to get the ribbons sewn together that will make the handle for--you guessed it--the Fair Maiden Etui. I am determined to finish this project this week.

Having said that, I realize it's the sure way to doom the project and delay its finish. Another project will come along to distract me, or a life event will happen that requires my attention, or I will totally screw this up to the point it's unusable and I'll have to start over.

There are wee tiny picots on the side of each ribbon which are being laced together, and when I say wee tiny, I mean really wee tiny. I knew it was going to take time, given the scale, but I figured a couple of evenings of Downton Abbey on DVD and I'd be done.

I just hope the new season doesn't start before I get this together.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


When you decide to stitch all day, you can make progress:

And while I was stitching, I was remembering.

Cancer has taken two more people from my life this past week.

Sweet Mary--Mary Edens--was the first person to greet me and to make me feel welcome when I joined both EGA and ANG twenty plus years ago. She was a lovely lady in every sense of the word, yet she had a wicked sense of humor. I loved sitting next to her at guild meetings, since her dry and wry comments often enlivened some long business meetings. She loved her needlework. She enjoyed traveling and her eyes sparkled when she talked of her experiences in the UK and Europe. She was a voracious reader--it was not unusual to run into her at a bookstore or one of the branches of the public library--and she could always recommend a good read.

We've been concerned about her for months--she just wasn't herself--but she said she'd had a bout of flu that she just couldn't kick. Unfortunately, it wasn't a lingering case of the flu. It was pancreatic cancer and it took her just a few weeks after her diagnosis as it so often does.

Walking into a guild meeting and not seeing her is going to be difficult.

Another friend of mine whom I would not have known had it not been for our shared love of needlework lost her husband a few days before Mary left us. Larry was given only months to live when he was diagnosed with cancer, but he defied the predictions and lived for almost ten years longer than the doctors said. He and Liz dealt with the treatments and the side effects and the roller coaster of emotions with so much grace. They were a team and they stayed a team until the end. In many ways, they still are, and a more beautiful example of facing adversity cannot be found.  

Cancer is such a vicious disease. I may not be able to do the research to defeat it, but I'm writing a check to the American Cancer Society to help those who can.