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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Once our family festivities ended, I planned to stitch and blog.

I stitched. I also did some stash diving, looking for projects I want to work in the coming year. I even finished the things I stitched this week that needed finish-finishing. But . . . I found that I wasn't spending much time online--so blogging fell by the wayside.

So to catch up on that, this is what I did this week:

From the left:

  • Winter Fun from Periwinkle Promises. I stitched the mini-sampler earlier this week but assembled it into a pin cushion the next day. The assembly took almost as long as the embroidery did.
  • Sheep May Safely Graze from Barbara Jackson, this year's SNS ornament. It didn't make it on the tree, but one of the beautiful days with bright sunshine we had mid-week gave me the daylight I wanted to work on 40 count. Now it's ready for next year.
  • Resting Pins and Needles, Jackie du Plessis mini-kit. It was so much fun to have a small small that stitched and assembled fairly quickly that I believe I need to do these more often. Since even my choices in smalls tend to be complicated and involved and large, it would be nice to have more frequent finishes, in amongst the gigundous things I tend to pick out.
Speaking of gigundous:

 Rebekah French now has all of her alphabets complete and only one more line on the attribution. The last bit of the attribution could have been stitched last night, but I thought I'd have an aneurysm at worst, a hissy fit at least, if I had to work one more letter or number over one thread. So I stopped. That was probably wise.

And, by golly, I got more background worked on Eve in the Garden. I am absolutely determined to work on this one evening a week until it's done. It may take all of 2017, but it's going to happen. I want to do some of the fun stuff, and I can't until I have the background worked.

And then there was the stash diving, where I decided on some projects I'd like to start for the New Year. But that is the topic for another day--like maybe tomorrow, if I can get my act together!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Day of Stitching

After the Christmas hustle and bustle--Christmas Eve and Christmas Day seemed to whizz by so fast I'm still not sure they happened!--I wanted a day to kick back and relax.

That means a day with a needle in my hand.

And I wanted something new to work on.

And I wanted something that wasn't going to take a ginormous amount of time to completely stitch.

This is what I found:

Barbara Rakosnik offered several series of small samplers, one for each month of the year, awhile back. Baby Girl originally planned to stitch this series, but something else caught her eye so they've been aging in our mutual stash for quite some time. I ran across them while looking for something else, and I've decided to stitch one a month for 2017.

For once in my life, I'm working ahead!

Friday, December 23, 2016

First Day of Staycation

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but I have eleven days before I go back to work. Celebrating Christmas was supposed to be the focus of the first three of them. Stitching was planned for the remaining eight.

Today I was planning to swipe at things with a dust cloth and do some pre-emptive cooking and get the laundry out of the way.

Some of the laundry is out of the way.

I made the mistake of thinking I would just put a stitch or two into the last angel.

You may notice that the last angel is completely stitched.

Ah, well, tomorrow I will bustle around. Today, I've decided, was my Christmas present to me!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Angel . . . and a little devilment

The third of my three "work" angels is stitched:

There is only one left to stitch. I sort of wanted to have them all done by Christmas . . . which is in three days . . .the fourth one may become a "nonword" angel.

I've also finished the satin stitch alphabet and started on the tiny cross stitch one on Rebekah French.

And I've run out of the white silk I'll need for part of the next step on this sampler.  In the grand scheme of things, running out of a thread is a minor irritation, but it makes me bugnutz crazy when it happens in a kit.

So I'm currently bugnutz crazy about this.

I am not bugnutz crazy about Christmas, though. I've just decided to enjoy what I've done and forget about doing any more. I told Baby Girl last night that you wouldn't know it was Christmas around here if it weren't for the tree in the corner and the wreath on the door.

About that wreath . . .

Because we frequently have warm Christmases, I gave up on "real" wreaths years ago. Without natural refrigeration, they tend to get brown at an alarming rate. So we've had a series of artificial wreaths over the last few Christmases.  The current one actually looks pretty good, with pine cones and holly berries and a little bit of very subtle glitter here and there.

I drove up the other day after work to find one of the hordes of neighborhood squirrels dangling off the hook that holds the wreath.  As I strolled toward the door, he said some quite unkind and unpleasant things to me and I said "shoo" which seemed logical at the time. He dangled for a few more minutes and I said "shoo" a little louder, and he finally took off.

And that's when I noticed that one of the holly sprigs was lying on the porch floor . . . and one of the pine cones was missing . . . and there are bite marks on some of the holly berries.

I do not wish that devil of a squirrel death as a result of his nibbling--but I do wish him a terrible tummy ache!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Puttering and ruminating

Today was my birthday.

I puttered around in the stash, I stitched a bit. I have legs and faces on the sheep appearing in Sheep May Safely Graze. You can't really see the white stitches on the white background and won't be able to until I get some more grass planted. I put several strands of gold into the background of Eve in the Garden. It doesn't look much different from the last time I published a picture. And I filled in some more sawtooth areas on the border of Rebekah French, which looks just like the filled sawtooth areas I published the other day. So I will not make you suffer from my lousy photography skills in this entry.

I felt I should do something significant, even though it's not a milestone date. And while there's nothing to take a picture of, I feel as though I made a breakthrough.

I've been trying to decide how to stitch my casket from the Cabinet of Curiosities class for years. Years and years. I could not get the design I wanted to put on the body of the casket coordinated with anything for the slopes and friezes--yes, I invested in the double casket. I had just about decided to use those designs with the flat top casket, and do something completely different for the double, even though the designs I wanted to use were ones that had meaning to me and I felt they deserved an over-the-top extravaganza of stitching.

And suddenly this afternoon, it came together. I was flipping through the slope designs provided in the class, and thinking a little, and inspiration struck, and I have my design. In my head, not on paper or linen, but I know where I'm going to go with it.

I think I scared Dearly Beloved when I was dancing around the living room.

So I'm adding casket stitching to the things I want to stitch in the coming year until the next birthday. I still want to work on samplers and smalls and goldwork and finish-finishing and my newly-resurrected interest in crewel, but there will be casket designing and stitching mixed in as well.

I made another important decision today, too, a birthday present to myself. Rather than allowing myself to pick up a needle only after I've done my chores, I'm going to plan on at least two hours of needlework every evening. I do believe this will make me happier and consequently healthier in the coming year.

Besides, would I rather be remembered as the stitcher with a smile on her face or the cranky old biddy with a spotless house?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Circling Around

I picked Rebekah French up last night.

When last I worked on her, I had decided I probably didn't have enough silk to fill in the sawtooth border around her, and that I needed to order more. Since we don't have a shop nearby that carries AVAS, that meant I would need to add it to an online order. I didn't want to order it alone since I had a feeling that the shipping would cost as much as the silk, so I was going to add it to another order at some point.

I've placed two online orders since I made that decision.

I didn't remember to add the silk on either order.

Sigh. . .

Last night, my eyes were too tired to handle 40 count linen or white silk on white linen, so I was looking about for something else. And there was Rebekah.

The directions say to use two strands for the filling. Hmmmm, thought I, what I could do is work with one strand in the dye lot I currently have. Then, when I finally remember to order another skein, I could just go around again and add the second strand.

So I started.

And when I looked at it more closely, I realized that one strand was doing a very good job of filling in.

I thought perhaps I should try adding another strand just to see if it made a major difference.

It did.

The second strand made everything too tight and was distorting the linen--so out it came, and one strand it is!

I no longer need to remember to add this to a future order. This is probably a good thing, since I have enough things to remember at this time of the year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Disembodied Sheep

The top and bottom of Sheep May Safely Graze are stitched.

And there are bits and pieces in the middle.

But for something focused on sheep, there aren't any yet. This must be rectified. Soon.

Meanwhile, the tree has as many ornaments as I can comfortably cram on it, the house smells like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger--I've been baking--and we're down to the last two presents to buy.  Notice I didn't say wrapped, but bought.

We're getting closer. Not there yet, but closer. And Christmas is going to happen, no matter what.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Still rocking' the Grinch

Still haven't found that Christmas spirit--although I was relieved to read some of the comments on the last blog--nice to know I'm not the only one this year . . .

I am trying.

There are ornaments and lights on the tree--not nearly all the ornaments that are usually there, but I decided to do that in stages rather than doing it all in one fell swoop.

And I'm working on this year's SNS Christmas ornament from Barbara Jackson.

I just jumped right in--didn't baste, didn't even center, just threaded the needle and started stitching. Reckless, I'm telling you, just reckless. If it weren't for the fact that I decided I wasn't going to try to set any stitching goals for the rest of the year, I'd mention that I'd really like to finish this, stitch the Christmas Strawberry Barbara designed for Haus Tirol, and make the ornament Sherri Jones designed for the recent event in Williamsburg.

But as I'm not setting any stitching goals for the rest of the year, I won't mention that.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Missing Mojo

My Christmas mojo has apparently deserted me.

By now the halls are usually decked, we're eating from the Christmas china, and the tree is decorated. There should be Christmas movies playing on the TV and Christmas music resonating through the house.

Well, we have a tree.

It's sitting in its accustomed location in the living room. It's in the stand. There is water in the stand. There is not a light, an ornament, a garland, a bauble, an angel, or anything else adorning it.

I just can't get going this year on decking the halls and embracing the season. Not sure why, but I think I should just start answering to Grinchetta and move on.

And to top it all off, nary a stitch has been worked since I got home from Williamsburg.  This is the extent of my needlework thus far this week:

I've managed to get the linen attached to the stretcher bars for this year's Barbara Jackson ornament from SNS.

I haven't even gotten it basted.

Do you suppose there's a correlation between lack of stitching and lack of Season's Greetings?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Blink and it's over

I took the laptop to Williamsburg so I could blog while I was gone.

However, after very full days, my brain was applesauce. Blogging was beyond me.

So you're getting a very condensed version of the experience.

First and foremost, I had four fantastic classes with Jackie du Plessis, who can engineer the most detailed and incredible needlework pieces ever seen. I keep looking at the class projects and wondering how in the world she comes up with this stuff. Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that I think in two dimensions and she thinks in about five.

At least five.

Anyway, after the early bird classes (more about them later) the boutique opened, and this was my haul.

Catherine Theron of Theron Traditions offered several small designs, as well as a chance to catch up on her projects for chapters and guilds. I've hoped to find the strawberry kits for awhile--and was able to get them as well as several others. These will go in the travel bag.

You will notice that this is not my usual overflowing shopping cart. While there were more vendors than ever, there were only a few who had things I was interested in--and most of those things I already have. You realize this means that the funds budgeted for a blow-out at the boutique can now go elsewhere.

That evening we had the banquet, which ran overlong. The speaker was very entertaining, the mini-class for the ornament designed for the event by Sherri Jones of Patrick's Woods was thorough (and I definitely intend to stitch it before this Christmas season passes), but there was too much time allotted to door prize awards. And I say that even though I won one.

Ironically, the sampler chart I won was pretty much nothing but alphabets. We know how much I love stitching letters (insert sarcasm font here). So, although I was honored and amazed to have won, I was happy to hand the chart to another person at my table who really liked the design.

On to classes:

The first early bird class was the satchel to hold the Sweet Pea Sewing Set. The morning three-day class was the Sweet Pea Sewing Set. You will see what I managed to stitch in three days. Jackie had hoped we would all go home with a completed mini-pincushion, but that would involve cutting threads and finish-finishing--and I need to be home alone for that. 

The colors are wonderful, the design divine, it has a quote from Emily Dickinson. This is going in the sooner rather than later pile.

And then there was the second early bird class and the afternoon three-day class.

In the early bird class, I managed to get that ribbon doodad done, and I covered a button. That was the extent of the stitching on that.

And I got nothing stitched on Tribute. Do not let that innocent looking box fool you. It opens up and unfolds and there is an amazing structure inside. You have to see it to believe it. So that, too, is going on the sooner rather than later pile, so that perhaps you will have a chance to see the wonder that it is. Luckily we were able to make a paper mock-up so we'll know what to do with the stitched pieces--remember, I think in two dimensions, Jackie is somewhere way beyond me--and the mock-up made a major difference.

We didn't have much time for sightseeing this trip, since I was in class most of every day. We did go to a concert at the Governor's Palace one evening and then strolled down part of Duke of Gloucester Street, admiring the "candle" light and the decorations. Both went a long way toward getting me in a mood for Christmas.

However, after a very long drive home--we stopped on the way to take Baby Girl out for her birthday lunch, which has become an annual tradition--I have not threaded a needle. We're unpacking and doing laundry--and I have decided that next year I'm taking an extra day after we get home for re-entry. I have to go back to work tomorrow to earn my keep so I can keep going to workshops.

Even though I have enough in the stash to keep me going until I'm 385.