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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Not exactly Halloween-y

But a finish nonetheless:

Two Golden Birds
David McCaskill
part of the  12 Days of a Stitcher's Christmas series

Yesterday I decided just to go ahead and finish the background since I was sooooooo close.

And then, after Dearly Beloved mentioned, yet again, that the garland looked like the bird had a fuzzy green worm in its mouth, I decided to add the beads.

Of course, now he says that it looks like a fuzzy green worm with measles.

I am ignoring him.

And with the background and the beads completed, it just made sense to add the box and the second "scissors." And with that, there was a finish!

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little scattered at the moment, trying to decide what I want to work on tonight--or tomorrow--or for the next little bit. There are still a lot of scroll bars to empty and there are still some projects that have suitably aged in the stash and there are some new projects arriving as we speak. I just can't decide which one to start on, or how to organize a rotation of sorts (although we know how poorly I handle rotations), or if I want to give up needlework and start baking bread or training for Ironman.

At the same time, I'm also trying to decide if I want to blog every day in November. When blogs were bigger than they are now, it was a tradition to do this. It doesn't seem to be happening very much any more, but since I am stubborn and tend to enjoy the customs and traditions of the past, I feel as though I should try.

But if that's going to happen, I need to get un-scattered.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


I've been puttering around the last few days, trying to decide what I want to work on next.

So, I put a few strands into the background of Eve in the Garden.

What I had already stitched has already tarnished, so it's very easy to see what I added. I'm not worried about the differences in shading. I had done the other areas at different times, and they have all turned the same shade, so I don't think there will be a great difference when this is finally completed.

In puttering around, I found the kit for this year's Catherine Theron project for guilds.

This may go on scroll bars today.

And then, night before last, I decided to put a few stitches into the background of this ornament, which has been sitting on the stand since the first of the year:

So, I moved that stand in front of the wing chair and started filling in the background. This is the second of David McCaskill's 12 Days of a Stitcher's Christmas. You may remember I had fantasies of doing the whole set this year. Those fantasies were first derailed by prework for workshops and then I decided to work on samplers and have actually finished three of them this year.

That is nothing short of amazing.

However, speaking of samplers . . .

I came home from my EGA meeting Wednesday night all fired up to stitch, which is usually what happens when I go to any guild meeting. I had some time before I needed to go to bed, so I pulled Rebekah French out and worked on the next letter in the eyelet alphabet.

And I had miscounted the number of threads between letters.

And the "H" was going to run into the "G."

So I had to pull out what I had done--and since I tend to pull eyelets tightly, try to smooth the displaced linen threads back into place.

I believe Rebekah is going to wait awhile longer to be completed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Office Work

The title of this blog refers a little to the job that supports my habits and a little to working on clearing out Dearly Beloved's home office.

Here's the background:

When I first went back to work full-time, I would take the daily newspaper to read during my lunch hour. Generally, it took the whole hour to get everything read, and I never had time to do the crossword.

Other media platforms have eroded the power of the printed newspaper in the interim, and now I've found that not only can I get most of the pertinent articles read, I can also get the crossword completed, and still have half an hour or so of my lunch time left.

I started thinking about this, and I realized that I was missing prime stitching time. The only problem is that I need magnification for most things, and most things I do are large and on some kind of frame. Just schlepping all this stuff back and forth would be difficult, and there's not a lot of space in cube city to stow things away.

About the same time I started thinking about this, we started clearing out some of the stuff in Dearly Beloved's office--and I was finally able to clear a path to a cabinet in which I stored some of my older stash when we moved into this place a quarter of a century ago.

When I opened the cabinet, I found all my old crewel kits, loads of Elsa Williams and Erica Wilson designs, plus a few more.

And the light bulb went off.

All I need to work crewel is an embroidery hoop.

And in about two weeks of partial lunch hours, I have a finished project:

There are three more in the series. And somewhere I have this strange feeling that I bought four little gold frames to finish them off.

Meanwhile, on the home front, I have been puttering, trying to decide what I want to do next.

Rebekah French was sitting close by, so she got three more eyelet letters worked.

Baby Girl is urging me to finish this one. She has a vested interest. Because her eye and hand are much steadier than mine, I got her to do all the tracing for the bottom part of this sampler.  Therefore, she believes that, after five years, I need to get 'er done.

I'm not so sure I want to get involved in another humongous sampler at this moment in time. What I'd like to do is empty out the auxiliary finishing basket. And work on my new Barbara Jackson project. And maybe do a Christmas ornament or two--it's two months from today.

OMG! Christmas is two months from today!

wow . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Done and Done!!!

By virtue (?) of ignoring all domestic duties except for necessary laundry and making a big pot of beef stew, and by closing the door to Dearly Beloved's office so I couldn't see inside, I finished Ann Wheatley about an hour ago.

I had hoped to finish her while I still had daylight so the real colors would be more apparent, but, like everything else, it took longer to stitch than I planned.

Now I have to decide what to do next.

In 2011, I started three samplers: Mary Atwood, Ann Wheatley, and Rebekah French. Mary and Ann are finished, just leaving Rebekah. So do I pull her out of limbo, or do I putter around with other stuff?

I think I'll sleep on it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Catching Up

We have settled back into our usual rut, and there are things to catch up on.

The bottom row of stems and leaves are stitched on Ann Wheatley and I can now turn the scroll frame back upright and let the flowers blossom.  After feeling like I was standing on my head--and, yes, I know I wasn't, it just felt that way--I'm very happy to be right side up again.

Meanwhile, in the last couple of weeks, some lovely things have arrived.

If you don't have this book from Alison Cole, or if you're not familiar with her designs and her website (, you need to get the book and get familiar with her website. The book has all those things that you learn in classes but that you don't necessarily remember when you need to. The website is drool-worthy. I'm just sayin'.

I'm very happy about this section of the book

because this set of lovely threads and pearls also showed up recently.

I'm taking a cyberworkshop from Michele Roberts through ANG. It will start November 1. I get to play with shiny things.

And then there's this:

and this:

The South Central Region of EGA used their share of an incredibly generous bequest to cover the teaching fees for an amazing class . . . classes? . . .  from Barbara Jackson. It includes a stitching tray, a canvas insert for the tray, a scissors case, a needlebook, and a strawberry, each in a slightly different technique. You could pick and choose which parts you wanted, or you could want and get it all. As I am not a model of restraint when it comes to needlework, I got it all.

It has occurred to me that between all this and the things I brought back from Winterthur, I have at least a year's worth of stitching.

And now for this week's Miss Crankpants rant.

This beautiful set of projects appeared on my doorstep, courtesy of the US Postal Service, while we had a hold placed on delivery of our mail.  Luckily a friend had agreed to check our place and found the box on the doorstep.  That was the first event.

Now we have had a second event. According to the USPS tracking, a book I've been looking forward to for months was left on our front porch at 5:12 this afternoon. We were here at the time. Nothing was left on our doorstep. Dearly Beloved strolled up and down the street and interviewed every neighbor he could find to see if it had been misdelivered. It was not left with anyone on our block.

Amazon said to give them another day to see if it shows up, then they will take care of it.

Now, Dearly Beloved's birthday present, according again to USPS tracking, is supposed to arrive tomorrow. If things come in threes, I am very worried about whether or not it will appear.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Home again

We left Winterthur early yesterday to go to Gettysburg to spend time with The Flash, The Big Kid, and The Big Kid's Wife. The Flash turned eight last week, and we had a birthday present to deliver.

If you look at the top corner of the Pennsylvania Monument on the battlefield, you will see two tiny dots. They are The Flash and The Big Kid.

The batteries on both my camera and my phone died while we were traversing the park and while Dearly Beloved was lecturing on the three-day battle. Meanwhile, The Flash was covering every step of the way at least four times to my one. I would like to have his energy level. Who am I kidding? I'd be happy with a tenth of his energy level!

Then, this morning, we were up early again to drive the rest of the way home, where we have spent the rest of our vacation doing laundry (me) and going to the grocery store (Dearly Beloved). I have decided that I am going to build an extra day into the end of every vacation in 2017 to ease re-entry. We both have to go back to work tomorrow, and I don't think either of us is quite ready.

After talking about needlework and looking at needlework and bringing home more needlework projects, I finally got to ply my needle this evening.

Back to Ann Wheatley again. I'm still working upside down to get the stems and leaves stitched in, then I'll turn everything right side up and finish the flowers.  Soooooooooo close, yet still so far . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A blink and it's all over

This is going to be both word-heavy and picture-heavy. Consider yourself warned!

I have to be very honest. After yesterday's lecturers, I didn't think today could match them. I was so very, very wrong--they were outstanding, as well.

Paris Spies-Gan started us off with a discussion of Mary Knowles and Mary Linwood, who were famous in the 1700's and early 1800's for their needlepainting. Mary Knowles came to eminence with the stitched portrait of George III. Later, Mary Linwood was famed for her reproductions of famous works of arts. Mary Linwood opened a gallery of her works which was considered a must-see at the time.

Dr. Brenda King discussed the contributions of the the Wardles, husband and wife, eminent in the field of dyeing textiles and creating embroideries. They also had 14 children . . . some of whom followed them into their life's work. Mrs. Wardle decided that England deserved to have its own Bayeaux Tapestry and led a group of women in the reproduction of the original. The same group of embroiderers also provided many works for the churches of their region as well as other commissioned work.  Interesting that the women's names are known--the men who dyed the threads they used (other than Mr. Wardle's) are completely anonymous. Dr. King's wry, dry wit enlivened her commentary--could have listened to her all day.

Ann Mason followed her with a discussion of the contributions made by May Morris, daughter of William Morris. I couldn't help but think as I was listening to the lecture--who was actually the more talented--father or daughter?  I think a good case could be made for May as the true creative power, especially in textile design and execution. I knew May existed and worked for Morris & Co--had no idea of the breadth of her interests and talents.

Amelia Peck talked about Candace Wheeler, founder of the Women's Exchange and the first female interior designer. Wheeler felt that women's economic equality was important--with that, other forms of equality would occur of themselves.

And finally we had Cynthia Fowler, whose talk on Georgiana Brown Harbeson brought the discussion of embroidery as art, not craft (with all those connotations of being a lesser form of expression) to a close. Harbeson's own works, as well as those of the women she felt were leaders  in the art field through embroidered expression, clearly show that art made by thread and needle can and should be appreciated as one of the fine arts.

After lunch, we split up for our afternoon activities. I took classes again.

First was another class with Joanne Harvey:

This is worked in Florentine (bargello, brick, Irish, whatever-you-want-to-call-this-upright-stitch) and the background is also completely stitched. And it's done with wool on linen.

Jo had more slides of this type of embroidery on everything from table toppers to pocketbooks to pockets to chair covers.  And we got to see some examples from Winterthur's collection.

Please pardon the shadows--I felt lucky that Winterthur allows photography!

Then on to a class reproducing one of the pinballs in Winterthur's collection, taught by Margriet Hogue.

In class, we started making the "innards" and were warned that Margriet expects to see them completed at the next symposium, already scheduled for 2018.

And then it was over.

However, along with the three class pieces I took, I did a bit of shopping. I am taking home the kits for three of the other classes that were offered:

To tell you the truth, I am hoping for a long, cold, snowy winter so I can justify staying in and stitching!

Just as long as the cold and snowy part waits until we get home . . .

Friday, October 14, 2016

The First Day

I will be the first to admit that I am a total history nerd, and when you add needlework to that, I'm a goner. A complete and total goner.

And the first day of Winterthur just fed into that.

First of all, Winterthur has installed a new projection system in their auditorium since the last time they held a textile symposium. This was like having Technicolor after nothing but black and white--I felt like Dorothy in Oz. (Have I totally dated myself with that reference?) Every photograph that appeared on the screen was so clear and so detailed you felt that you could reach out and touch the textile you saw.

Tricia Nguyen, our Sensei of the Cabinet of Curiosities classes, was the lead speaker. Not only did she offer phenomenal photographs of embroideries and caskets from the 17th century, she has determined a matrix that indicates if a project was primarily worked by professional embroiderers or if they were done by girls and women who had the wherewithal to afford multiple colors and threads for the embroidery. She also talked about the number of women who worked in embroidery but who have flown under the radar because they were part of a greater economic whole, whether working for a professional (read "male") embroiderer or as part of a family unit.

I also enjoyed the talk from Andrea Pappas, who dissected the motifs found in the Fishing Lady embroideries popular in New England in the mid-1700's. I will never look at a sheep, or a strawberry, on a sampler in quite the same way again. I wish she had had time to go into the other design elements--alas, the amount of time for her lecture was limited--I think there may be a book in the offing--at least I hope there will be.

Our third speaker, Amanda Isaac, reported on Ann Flower's sketchbook. Ann Flower was an artist in Philadelphia in the 1700's. Underlying the description of her work, which was expressed primarily in her sketchbook and her embroideries, was the message that, had she been male, she quite possibly would have received the same kind of support for her artistic endeavors as a West or Copley. I look forward to taking a class from Joanne Harvey tomorrow that bases its design on the bouquet that adorned the cover of her prayerbook, simply to honor her contributions.

We also had a talk by Susan Schoelwer about silk embroidery. Many of the pieces she described were stitched after Washington's death and were a way of honoring him.

Then we had a delightful lunch, then too few minutes for some speedy shopping (hope to make up for that tomorrow), then we split up for our afternoon activities.

While some people go on tours or spend time in the Galleries or Library or have other lectures, I have found I want stitching classes. And I always want stitching classes with Joanne Harvey.

This is the newest addition to my Joanne Harvey collection. The next sampler from her I was planning to stitch was Ann Almy, but Mary may push her out of the way. As always, Jo had a collection of pictures of samplers and embroideries that cannot be surpassed. This group was all related to Boston embroiderers, and clearly illustrated the design elements that unite them.

As much as all this entertains me, the best part of going to an event like this is the chance to see friends. Some of them I see at guild meetings at home, but others I only see at events like this. And, let's face it, everyone has such a busy life, even if you're in the same locale, you don't get to spend a lot of quality time together unless you're involved in the same activity at the same time. The textile symposium at Winterthur is one of those magical places that fosters that opportunity for friendships to blossom.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Last night, after the first leg of our journey north, we got take-out from a Chinese restaurant.

This is what my fortune cookie said:

And it came true.

We're at Winterthur.

For the next two days, we'll be immersed in lectures and tours and classes celebrating needlework and textiles.

Like this beautiful example, on display in one of the galleries:

And there will be more to come . . .

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree

Adam and Eve and their apple tree are complete!

It seems that Eve is getting ready to pick the apple, but I wish you to notice that it appears that Adam is also reaching for one.

I'd really hoped to have Ann Wheatley finished before I leave for Winterthur, but I don't see how that can happen. Now I have to decide if I want to haul her with me, which will require bringing better lighting for the hotel room. As you may remember, we don't know how to travel light, and I was hoping to leave the bigger light at home.

If I don't take A.W. with me, then I have to decide what I do want to take for hotel room stitching.

Hopefully this will be the biggest decision I have to make in the next couple of days.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

From the Ground Up

I'm planting an apple tree.

Given the difficulties I've had counting, I was afraid to start stitching from the top down. I figured if I did, I'd either leave the tree floating in mid-air . . . .or . . . and this is way more likely . . . I'd run into the border before I ran out of tree.

I've never been able to comfortably stitch from the bottom up although I know people who always do their samplers that way. So I've flipped the chart and the scroll frames upside down and stitched merrily away.  (Autocorrect just changed "merrily" to "terribly". Autocorrect may know something I don't. I'm not going to look too closely at this tree in case Autocorrect is correct. I've changed it back to "merrily" and it seems to be staying that way, but I'm still not going to look too closely.)

Anyway, this seems to be a good thing to do on a rainy and windy afternoon. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bordering on Lunacy

After hours and hours, the accursed border for Ann Wheatley is stitched!

I was able to finesse the lower left border--and, looking at the photograph of the original sampler, little Ann had to do the same. I wish there had been another way to stick a strawberry in that spot, but, like Ann, I didn't have room.

Now it's on to the last motifs. There are fourteen of them. I think. I should probably not count. I should probably just sit down and stitch.