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, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve

I'm posting now because I may not be up at midnight for the ceremonial dumping of the ort jar:

That thick layer of white was caused by the threads withdrawn when I was working on Isabella earlier in the year. It took me a minute to remember that I had dumped those threads in the ort jar.

As for stitching in the last couple of days--I've laid a few bricks on Mary Otter and thought about projects for the New Year--but Dearly Beloved and I spent time yesterday undecorating the Christmas tree and removing it from the premises, then vacuuming--and vacuuming--and vacuuming up the needles the tree left behind. There are still needles popping up in areas that we both know one or the other of us went over--and went over--and went over.

Today we finished undecking the halls and I puttered. I got all the Christmas boxes back in the closet.  I did some cooking for the week ahead. I talked to Baby Girl (twice), The Big Kid, The Flash, and Mother.  I folded up some laundry and got that stowed. I read the newspaper and spent time online. I read the new issue of Victoria.

I also shivered. It's COLD. It's not negative digit cold, but for the sunny South, it's nippy.

Now I think I'm going to go boil myself in the shower and get into my nightgown and robe, then curl up in the wing chair with a blanket--which I may well throw into the dryer to warm it up before I wrap up in it--and say farewell to 2017. I have to say, I'm glad to see this one leave. And I'm looking forward to the new year--I love the idea of a fresh start!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stay-cation, Day 7

Oh, the days of my stay-cation are dwindling down . . .

But I made up my mind on the spangles. I decided to add some randomly around the flower.

The original design had about three times as many spangles as I used, which is historically accurate. Since I am not a pre-teen living in the 17th century and don't feel the need for an over-the-top presentation--either because of being a pre-teen or living in the 17th century--I went with accents.

Alas, the opening in the candle screen was too small, so I'm back to framing or ornamentifying. I'm leaning toward framing.  This is subject to change.

And working on Mary Otter in the evenings has resulted in a second floor that is almost complete.

I really didn't think I'd get the whole flower done as quickly as I did, so I hadn't decided what to do next while stay-cationing. I may lay a few more bricks on Mary Otter while I'm thinking about it.

Or something may pop up and demand attention.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Stay-cation Day 6

All the petals and leaves are filled in:

I am really, really, really happy with this.

And there is yet a step to do.

The background is covered with paillettes (which auto-correct is insisting is palettes and I'm insisting is paillettes and if I have to change it again, I may throw a hissy fit).

For historical accuracy, there would be spangles (another word for paillettes which auto-correct is not correcting) all over the background. I'm afraid it might detract from the design.  Dearly Beloved has suggested just scattering a very few hither and thither, and I may try that later this evening to see how I like it.

The next question is how to finish.  Somewhere around here I have a candle screen that might fit. There's always the traditional framing and then the decision as to where to hang it. Or, as I've taken pictures in front of the Christmas tree, I've been thinking about finishing it as an ornament.

So . . . opinions?

What is your stand on spangles?

How would you finish?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stay-cation Day 5

I'm almost halfway.

I'm surprised I got this far today.

I had a little bit of a learning curve using the silk purl. I've used purl purl in goldwork, but the silk purl is--how do I put this--a lot livelier. There were a couple of times that we were engaged in hand-to-hand combat. I wanted it to do one thing. It wanted to do another.

I finally pulled out the big guns--my goldwork tools--and the sight of the burling irons (big tweezers with wicked sharp pointy ends) tamed the beast.

And then there were issues with the Tire silk used to couch everything on this project.

I love Tire silk. I adore Tire silk when it comes to couching gold in goldwork pieces. I am so taken with Tire silk that I have three unused spools in my stash so that when the Zombie Apocalypse arrives and the needlework and sewing shops all  close and stitching supplies are not available, I will still be able to work on projects from my stash.

But the card of Tire silk in the kit has misbehaved. I don't know if it's a batch of silk that was silkier or what, but it would not stay in the eye of the needle. First I tried doing that lasso thing around the eye of the needle. The silk laughed at me and loosened itself completely.

Then I decided to show it who was boss so I literally tied it in a knot around the eye. At this point, it was rolling on the floor and LOLing itself into hysterics.  It immediately untied itself.

Of course, those were the knots I wanted. It was very happy to tie itself into knots.

This went on all day.

So, after that, I've decided to do what I did last night when I still felt like stitching but didn't feel like taxing what was left of my brain cells.  Mary Otter, who was going to take the week off, came out of her pillowcase last night.

Tonight I'll either lay more bricks--or maybe I'll fill in a window or two.

At least I won't have to do it with Tire silk.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Stay-cation, Days 3 and 4

Since we had our family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, we relaxed yesterday. Baby Girl headed home in the morning to beat the traffic, Dearly Beloved settled down for a long winter nap, and I piled up a stack of Christmas DVD's and CD's to watch or listen to and stitched all day.

Literally all day.

And this is the result:

I love the idea, I love the design, I love the spot motifs on the lower section of the ornament.

Now the plan was to do the finishing this morning.  Notice, that was the plan. While I was sipping the first installment of the day's caffeine allotment, the project on top of the pile of potential 2018 projects starting sending out signals. Loud signals. Extremely loud signals. 

And I succumbed.

So today I went back to a workshop project that's been aging in the stash for almost ten years.

Jacobean Silk Purl Flower
Tricia Wilson Nguyen

I spent the day very carefully couching gilt thread around the outline--if you look closely, you'll see there are two curlicues left to do. Once they're done, I can start filling the the design with silk purl.

There is a method to my madness. One of the projects I want to do in 2018 is the mirror surround from Part II of the Cabinet of Curiosities class. Many of the flowers in the mirror surround use the same techniques as this project, so this is serving as my practice piece.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Stay-cation Day 2

We basically had our Christmas celebration today. Baby Girl is here, The Saint arrived in time for the midday feast, we exchanged gifts, and ate ourselves silly. Actually, we have only a few cookies and a chunk of of Roast Beast left.

After everyone collapsed into a carb coma, I stitched.

At the moment, it looks as if our happy couple is out in the woods with their little dog, searching for the perfect tree, and it appears that they have found it. Tomorrow I hope to change the scene so that you will see them decorating said perfect tree.

I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to the coming week. Baby Girl gave me the first season of Victoria on DVD, so I have something to binge-watch as I stitch. I have a couple of new books to read and plenty of projects to poke a needle into. If the weather will cooperate, I hope to get back into the habit of a daily walk, even if I have to wear the Big Boot. And, if I can, I hope to sleep in a few mornings. I was almost tempted to set the clock for the pleasure of turning it off and turning over to go back to sleep.

I decided that was a really terrible idea, so I'm not going to do it. However, I am heading to bed in the next few minutes with one of the new books. And if I want to stay up all night reading, I can.

This is my idea of the perfect vacation.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Stay-cation Day 1

Actually, we didn't stay home today.

We took Christmas presents and cookies to Mother in her retirement home, had a lovely lunch with her and The Saint, and came home this evening. We are currently watching "Fred Claus" to be followed by George C Scott in "A Christmas Carol."

And I am working on this year's ornament from Barbara Jackson through Shining Needle Society.

Mary Otter is taking the week off. I had thought to work on one and only one project during my week off, but then decided I want to stick a needle in several things. So that's my Christmas present to myself--I'm going to play with different projects and then go back to plying my needle on Mary after the first of January.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Stay-cation Day 0.5

Well, the switchboard at work was turned off at one, so we were free to leave early today.

And I did a few minutes later when Baby Girl arrived in town for a long-awaited lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant.  She had Lunch A which had ramen in one bowl with shrimp on top and another bowl full of something else that looked delightful. I had Lunch B which was an assortment of nigiri and sushi and salads.

Originally we had made plans to go home and immediately start on the cookie extravaganza. We changed the plans over lunch, deciding that we both needed time to decompress.  She is knitting herself a sweater.  And Mary Otter has window frames:

We finally were hungry enough to have leftover lasagna for dinner and then got down to work. Well, we sort of halfway got down to work. I had made the cookie dough the night before so it could chill. We decided that we could do half of each recipe to take to Mother's tomorrow, then do the rest some other time over the week-end.

At one point in my past as a Domestic Diva, I would make ten or twelve different varieties of cookies every year. At the time, we had children in and out who would take care of eating them. Now that we don't have an easy cookie-disposal system--and Dearly Beloved and I don't need to eat hundreds of cookies--we have settled on the two recipes that everyone loves and make those.

Although I'm very tempted to stop by the grocery store tomorrow to pick up flaked coconut and apricot preserves because there is a new recipe I'd kind of like to try ...

No, I do not need to do that. No, I do not. I really don't.

I'll sleep on it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Still Laying Bricks

and cooking and baking and wrapping and decorating and stalking the mail carrier and UPS truck and going to work every day.

That pretty much sums up the last few days.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Laying Bricks

We have reached the stage in construction in which we are laying bricks.

This is a quite unusual brick pattern, with very light, creamy bricks alternating with brick-colored bricks.

It's made me wonder--was this Mary's house? Or was it one she admired? And I wonder if the brick pattern could give a hint as to where Mary lived. It's going to be quite a stately house, high on a hill with a fancy fence around it and flowering trees adorning the property. And there will be a carriage driving toward it before this is all over.

But tonight I need to see if I can get the third bin of ornaments on the tree--or if I can persuade myself that there's enough and more would be gilding the lily.

Or overburdening the tree.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Up on the Rooftop

Mary Otter has a roof and chimneys. They are floating in mid-air, but the mansion is begun:

Meanwhile, in this household, The Great Christmas Tree Installation has begun.

We finally got our tree on Friday evening and have started decorating it today. Dearly Beloved is doing the light dance. He and the strings of lights get themselves all tangled about and then get untangled and he flails about and the suddenly they are wound around the tree.

I should not mention that there is a spot where the lights seem a little thinner than in other areas.

I should probably put more ornaments there and just not say anything about the light imbalance.

And on to the great event of today. Mother is 90. Dearly Beloved, The Saint, and I went to visit her in her retirement center yesterday. I asked her if she now planned to live to be 100. She said she wanted to.

Today when I called her to wish her a happy birthday, she very proudly told me that she is 100.

The Saint and I have decided that we aren't arguing with her about anything. She's very happy so why upset the apple cart?

So today is either Mother's 90th birthday (according to the calendar) or her 100th (according to her).

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Raising the Roof

Home again, and back to Mary Otter. She did not visit Williamsburg--she needs her own special tote bag to travel due to her size, and we already had filled up the trunk and the back seat with stuff that Dearly Beloved felt was necessary to take--just in case the zombie apocalypse occurred and we would need a case of bottled water, for example.

Anyway, I have started on the roof of her house.

I'm assuming her house had a slate roof that had a blue-ish cast . . .

Hopefully I can add some more tonight, but it may not happen. Along with delightful memories, I seem to have brought a head cold home from Williamsburg. I woke up at about 5 a.m. Monday morning feeling like my head was full of cement--and it had hardened--and sniffed and sneezed all the way home. Due to better living through chemistry, I managed to avoid sniffing and sneezing (too much) at work, but it appears that pill is wearing off.

Oh, well, 'tis the season. If Rudolph needs a night off, my nose will be red enough so that I can substitute.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Well, I brought the laptop, fully intending to blog about this whole trip--but we were so busy and so much was going on that I'm finally putting words to computer on the night before we leave for home and reality.

We had what may have been the easiest trip ever--no wrecks, no delays due to highway construction, we rolled right onto the Jamestown Ferry without a wait, we picked up our annual passes at the Visitor Center, visited Haus Tirol, and checked in--everything smooth as buddah.

Early Thursday morning, we wandered around the Historic District for awhile--and found our favorite decoration for this year:

Here's the staff at the Weavers' Shop and their Sheep "Wreath." They were absolutely delightful to talk to, just like everyone else in Williamsburg always is.

That evening we had the opening banquet, where we received this year's special ornament:

Jackie du Plessis designed and donated the ornament--which looks incredibly complex. Looks are deceiving--it's another one of her very clever assemblies.

And the next day I had the first day of classes with two of my favorite teachers.

It occurred to me when I was taking pictures that I basically stitched squares for three days.

Catherine Theron designed a beautiful whitework sampler. I haven't met one of Catherine's samplers that I don't love, but I have to say this one has moved to the top of my list. Catherine goes over every single step of the instructions in her classes and she demonstrates the more complicated stitches. I'm looking forward to working on this one in the new year.

It was even nicer to have a good friend sitting beside me in class!

Then, in the afternoons I worked on another of Jackie du Plessis' lovely etuis--and stitched more squares:

This is going to become a pinkeep, also probably in the new year. Jackie also covers every step of the process in her classes and with every one of her classes I take, I'm more confident of my finishing abilities. And that is saying something.

Alas, we have to go back to reality too early in the morning. We have a stop on the way so we can take Baby Girl out for a birthday lunch--but then, it's the grind again.

However, I have already signed up for next year--something to look forward to.