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, February 28, 2017

Day Two, Two Projects

So, here I am for my second day of stitching and nothing but stitching . . .

Last year I was doing prework for a class, so I worked on one project for most of the week. This year, I decided to bring a different project for each day--I may have mentioned this--and I did--but today, I worked on two different things.

This may look like medieval torture.

It's not.

This is one of the prep steps for last year's Florentine Ornament from the Ladye's Repository (aka Rachael Kinnison, who also created this year's memento for the event--you saw that yesterday).

I will admit when I first read the directions for this project, the set-up was not like anything I'd ever done. I will admit I was intimidated. I will admit I put everything away in its elegantly packaged box.  I will admit that I mentioned to Baby Girl I had just bought a project that she would most definitely inherit because it was beyond me.

Then, when this year's plans were announced, a support group to work on the ornament was also announced--and I announced that I was in.

The embroidery is worked through card stock which is pasted to the back of the silk ground. This will avoid bubbling when the embroidery is mounted. In fact, it will create the mounting. 

OK, I had to get past the idea of pasting. I had to get past the idea of working through the card stock. But then, one of our Fearless Leaders who also organizes this annual get-together, worked through those steps and it is definitely do-able.

You do have to be willing to take your time. There are no short cuts. If you're a stitcher who just wants to get things done, this is not a project for you. However, if you appreciate fine needlework and are willing to invest the time it takes to create it, you'll put your head down and focus.

And the directions for doing all this are in the instructions. 

So, I spent most of last Saturday afternoon mounting the silk so I could bring it with me. I spent this morning tracing the design, and then pasting the silk to the card--and I don't think I could have accomplished that without Fearless Leader and a couple of stitching buddies cheering me on. I have to say, though, that when I got everything pasted and mounted and ready to weight so the paste could set, I felt like I was on my way to something I'll treasure--and that is going to get its own ornament stand under a glass dome when it's done.

Should I mention that I went ahead and put in 2017 as the year of the finish?

Now, if you've managed to stay with me this long, you might be wondering about the other project.

I got the purl purl attached to Key to My Heart this afternoon.

Today was my bling day. Obviously. I'm really tempted to work on this again tomorrow, but I'm going to have to cut metal into small bits. That may work better at home where I have a stitching tray to catch all the pieces that tend to fling themselves about the room if I'm not very careful.

I think tomorrow will be a little bit of work on the Florentine Ornament, then I'm going to pull out one of the other samplers that traveled with me.

I've been asked what retreat, where and when. This is a group of friends who originally came to take classes in Williamsburg about this time every year. When the coordinator of that event decided to retire, we were all used to coming to Williamsburg in late winter to stitch, so a couple of brave, brave souls decided to continue with our own meeting. Our Fearless Leaders have created an event that I love to attend, whether I work on one project or seven!

Monday, February 27, 2017

In Full Retreat

Despite the Demolition Derby on the interstate yesterday as we drove to Williamsburg, we (finally) made it, safe and sound, and I am in full needlework retreat mode.

To commemorate, we added another lovely tool from the gifted hands of Racheal Kinnison:

We had some fun goodies in our goodie bags:

There's a sweet kit from Catherine Jordan and the perfect pincushion with fleece from Catherine's sheep.

And today I got a band completed on Frances Burwell.

If you peer very closely, you may be able to see that there are cream-colored motifs between the dark blue ones.

The instructions tell you to work the cream-colored ones first. It didn't take me too long to realize I could not see what I was doing. I literally could not see the cream-colored thread against the cream-colored linen.

This is not good.

However, since I think I brought almost every practical stitching tool I own, and a few impractical tools as well, I realized that I had stronger magnifiers with me.   And, Hallelujah, with more magnification, I could see the cream-colored thread against the cream-colored linen, and I was able to continue with the band.

Unfortunately, I could also see the errors I had made when I started out.

It has occurred to me that if I couldn't see them without 2 1/2 x magnification, most people couldn't seem them with their unadorned eyes, so I did not rip out all that work.

I'll just wait to see if the guilt and my perfectionistic tendencies make me change my mind.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Plugging Away

So, I've been working away on Eve's background:

I'd hoped to have it almost finished by now, but I've been distracted. I've been trying to organize the 473 projects* I want to take to my stitching retreat next week. And I've been fighting off a sinus headache--who expected things to be pollinating in February?  But . . . the daffodils are up, the forsythia is blooming, and the azaleas are budding.

And I am sneezing.

*I'm exaggerating a little. It's not 473 projects. It's only 268.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Progress Report

I didn't mean to let the blog go dark for a solid week--but the last week was not a pleasant one for a variety of reasons.

There were a couple of bright spots: Dearly Beloved came through and then some for Valentine's Day, and The Flash sang me a Valentine song of his own composition. It consisted of singing Happy Valentine Day in a variety of keys and voices, over and over. As hesitant as I am to say this, I don't believe he inherited his great-grandfather's glorious singing voice. Apparently it skips a generation--the Big Kid seems to have it.

Despite other things, I have been stitching:

I've finished the first band of Isabella, a Group Correspondence Course from EGA that I'm taking through my local chapter. It's designed by Barbara Kershaw--and it's reawakening my love of drawn thread.

Eve has more background. You will also notice that I'm filling in the background in amongst the little curlicue and furbelows--not making that mistake again!

I've decided on the crewel design for lunch time stitching. This Elsa Williams pattern was started by a dear friend who passed away. Her family donated parts of her stash to our guild, and we held a silent auction to benefit our activities.  Even though the way she stitched is not the way I stitch, I'm leaving her stitches in place so I will always have a little bit of her in my life.

And I started this little bit from Jackie du Plessis' Aubergine set while visiting Mother. This will make another set of toys for my collection.

One more work week, and I am off for a week in Williamsburg for a needlework retreat. A whole week. A WHOLE WEEK!!!!  I keep saying I should just take a couple of projects to focus on--but I'm having a problem doing that.

So, I've decided to take at least half a dozen different things, just so I can see how far I can get when I have a whole day to focus on a single project.

Good thing I've started about half a dozen things this year, so I won't have to make so many decisions.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Well, Duh

Last night I decided to start on the background of the front of Eve in the Garden.

The first strand of gold thread I tried to use twisted and tangled, and about half the gilt stripped off. Technical terms* were hurled about. Sadly, if you've been following Eve's progress, you will remember that I've had problems with the gold thread from the get-go.  I've tried stitching with a Japanese, handmade needle. I've tried large needles to make the holes in the linen larger. I've tried smaller needles, just to see if that would help. I'd gotten down to working with 10" lengths of thread, which meant constant starting and stopping.

Last night, I very nearly put Eve into time-out . . . again . . . perhaps permanently.

While I was trying to decide what to do with Eve, I was puttering around doing nothing much of anything, when a tiny voice from deep in my lizard brain whispered, "What about waxing the thread?"

So I did.

No tangling. No snarling. No twisting. Very, very little stripping of gilt. And I could use 15-18" lengths of thread without horrible things happening.

And I have this much done:

Based on previous experience, this would have taken me at least three evenings to stitch. It took about an hour last night, and a couple of hours tonight.

If I didn't have something that I really need to work on this week-end instead of Eve, I would continue with the background. I am going to be resolute and do what I have to do--but I'm going to move on with Eve after that.

*If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you will remember that "technical terms" refers to language that is not normally considered acceptable in polite company.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oh Happy Day!

All the curlicues and little spaces around the center cartouche are filled in!!!!

I hereby vow that I absolutely will not wait until the end to do those areas when I work the background on the front piece.

However, I am absolutely thrilled to have this much of the background done. Quite frankly, I thought it was going to take every evening this week to get those teeny little bits filled in. Now that they're done, I can move on to the background for the front. Actually, I may be deadly dull and boring and continue to work on this and this alone until I can start playing with the fun stuff.

We'll see how that plays out.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Some Assembly Required

I didn't have much time to stitch this week-end, but I did get the embroidery for this little project finished a few minutes ago.

Measure Twice
Jackie du Plessis

This is another of the small projects in my travel bag. However, with some changes in my job responsibilities, I'm not traveling as much as I once did so I've decided to pull some of those projects out to work on.

I'm going back to Eve's background for the weeknights, so I'll try to get this finish-finished next week-end.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

PhD's and other things

In my local EGA chapter, we have a PhD program--which stands for "Project half Done." Each year we get to pick up to three projects we want to complete in the coming year. For each one we complete, we get a chance to win the drawing for a gift certificate to one of the local shops. If we don't get something on our list completed, we have the option to roll it over into the next year.

I've been rolling mine over for three years. One of them is complete, but I put it in a safe place and can't lay my hands on it at the moment. One of them is stitched but not assembled. And then there is Eve.

I've been putzing around with this project since 2010. I want to do the fun stuff on it. I have to get past the background before I can get to the fun stuff. And that background has been the albatross around my neck.

Until this week.

This is my busy time at work. And I'm still getting over the plague (cough, cough, whine, whine). So I've been using up my energy and what brain power I have at my job, then coming home to fall over in the wing chair.

Well, this is not productive.

So Monday night I picked Eve up and did a few strands of gold. And then a few more. And I have found my busy season/plague recovery project.

Except for filling in the curlicues around the center design, I have one side complete!

And now I have some momentum going, and I'm going to start the other side's background (once the curlicues are filled in--and leaving them to last is not a mistake I'll make on the other side!).

The only problem with this is that it's about as boring to post progress pictures as it is to watch grass grow and paint dry. And I think I might get burned out (again) if I don't take a break once in a while. So on the week-ends, I'm going to do other things.

One of them may be this:

I won one of the door prizes at last evening's sampler guild meeting! And how appropriate for February and Valentine's Day! And it's a complete kit so I don't have to scramble for the bits and pieces to use--it even includes the backing fabric!

Since every time I plan a stitching routine, I fail miserably within two weeks, it will be interesting to see how this goes.

But right now, I think I'll go and stitch another strand or two of gold thread.