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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Great Strawberry Massacre

There are no pictures in this blog because I made backwards progress.

Last night I came home from EGA and decided I could probably stitch another strawberry before I went to bed. I pulled the Gentleman's Nightcap out of its pillowcase, set it up on the frame stand, threaded a needle, then pulled out the metal scissor and tweezers and removed every strawberry I had stitched.

They just weren't . . . right.

I knew if I left them in, I would always see those poor, pitiful berries and nothing else.

So they're gone.

I think part of the problem is that I didn't have strong enough magnification when I worked them, and I missed some spots that should have been stitched. This meant that several of them looked like they had been pecked by birds or devoured by bugs. I don't wish to have strawberries that have been nibbled on by varmints, so I'm going to dig out one of the magnifiers that will clip on the frame, or I'm going to drag the Dazor downstairs.

Hopefully I have one of the clip-on magnifiers that will work. If the Dazor moves back into the living room with the frame stand, the slate frame, and me, there won't be room for Dearly Beloved. He would not be happy.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


I finally had time to thread a needle this afternoon!

Thursday evening after work I had to be an adult and balance the checkbook and pay bills.

Friday evening after work I had to corral the dust hippos that have been cavorting on every surface and push the vacuum cleaner around and throw several loads of laundry into washer and dryer.

Saturday we spent the day traveling to and from Mother's retirement center and visiting with her in between. Actually, we spent more time visiting with The Saint; Mother spent most of the time dozing in her chair. Dearly Beloved also spent most of the visit dozing in his chair. The thermostat in Mother's room is kept at the "hot summer day" setting, so it's no wonder we were all a little groggy.

Today I finally had a chance to sit down and work on the Gentlemen's Nightcap.

This is one of several strawberries on one of the panels I had not worked on earlier.

It took a while to get to this point.

When I set up my rotation list, I basically made sure I had the linen or canvas, the threads, and the instructions together.

I didn't think about the other stuff.

I thought there was a Japanese needle with the kit. There may have been at one point, but it's not in the needle pad and I attacked that with a magnet in case the needle was hibernating deep within. So I had to get another one from my carefully hoarded stash.

I decided that it would be a very good idea to somehow organize the threads in a more easily accessible way than the plastic bags they were living in. This meant digging in the stash for one of the empty floss organizer boxes that were living there. That was easy--I knew exactly where they were. But I got distracted because . . . well . . . stash . . . and I had to play in it a little. And then I had to organize the threads.

And then, because I'm using Gilt Silk Twist and it has a metal component, I needed my metal cutting scissors, which were not in the workbasket by my chair. This resulted in a few moments of panic, since I love those scissors. And then I remembered I had put them in the tool box I have for my goldwork. And then I had to remember where I had stored that--it could have been with a project or it could have been in the tote bag I took to Williamsburg.  So I had to go back to the stash room where I got distracted again because . . . well . . . stash and I had to play in it some more. Anyway, I found the toolbox and scissors and brought them back downstairs.

And then I had to tighten the linen on the slate frame, which takes a little bit of time. And then I had to do a practice strawberry  in the margins of the linen to get my tension right.

And then I finally got to stitch strawberries.

So . . . do I  count the time getting ready to stitch as part of the rotation time on the project? Or do I plan to spend more time on this project in advance, since it apparently takes me awhile to get set up to stitch?

Maybe I'm going to be a serial monogamist where projects are concerned.

If this is the hardest I have to think about anything today, I'm doing well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ribbons and Roses

The first project in the rotation that I picked up was Gay Ann Rogers' Vintage Roses Heart, mainly because I wanted to work on something smaller than Mary Otter.

Here's where I was after 10 hours:

I took advantage of one of the loopholes in my rotation plan, and I finished the heart today!

Pardon the quality of the photo--it's shot under less than optimal conditions.

There's a big difference in finishing something in half a week as opposed to half a year--so I'm glad I chose this project to start.

I have to admit, it's finished more quickly than I anticipated.  I've had more time to stitch than I normally do during a work week. I have been somewhat indisposed.

Yesterday was my annual physical. A particular vaccination was strongly recommended for someone of my age and with my medical history. I agreed it was probably a good idea. I had an allergic reaction to the vaccine. I broke out in hives. I have never had hives before. I do not wish to ever have hives again.

So yesterday, last night, and part of today, I have been taking heavy duty antihistamines. This means that I have spent some time in the wing chair, dozing, watching episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and stitching when I could focus my eyes.

It is very surreal to doze off in the middle of one episode and wake up in the middle of another.

Luckily, the needlework did not seem to suffer. At least, I don't think it has.  Maybe I should look at the piece again tomorrow when, hopefully, I will be undrugged and clear-eyed.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Going Around in Circles

There are forty-bazillion projects I want to stitch, now that Mary Otter is finished. I realized this when I was rummaging around the stash yesterday, trying to decide what I want to work on next.

I want to do ALL of them.

In the early years of the innerwebs, Carole Lake introduced me to the Rotation System. The idea was that you pick out ten projects you want to finish (or start). You put each project with all of its parts and tools into its own tote bag, so you have ten tote bags all lined up. You work on each project for ten hours, then put it back in its tote bag and move on to the next.

I tried it for about a year and it worked beautifully. It was very motivating to get some things done so I could add something new, and I did get some older projects finished. It was a little too restrictive after awhile, and I went back to work full-time, and I was doing a lot of pilot stitching, so it fell by the wayside.

Since then I've tried other rotation systems that have worked with varying degrees of success or lack thereof.  I resolved earlier this year that I was going to set up some kind of rotation system that I can live with. And I think I may have figured out how to work one.

So here are my loosey-goosey rules for my rotation, with their loopholes:

  • I have to work on each project in the list for at least ten hours during that cycle.  Loopholes: The ten hours don't have to be consecutive--some things are better to work on when there is an expanse of time, and some things can be done after a long day at work. Also, if I'm not at a good stopping point, or I get obsessed with something, I can continue to work on that project longer.
  • The list can have no more than twelve projects and no fewer than four, just because I need variety. I am not a monogamous stitcher.
  • If I go to a workshop or class and get a new project, it can immediately go on the rotation list and can be worked on for as long as I like. 
  • If a project is something that needs assembly after stitching, it stays on the rotation until it's finished. No loophole on this one. The finishing baskets are getting ridiculous.
  • Vacations, stay-cations, trips, and holidays are free, so I can work on whatever I want
  •  This is an institutionalized loophole: Even though I'm not putting them on the rotation list, there may be times when I want to work on something that is small and quick to stitch, or I feel the need to get some older projects assembled. If that happens, I give myself permission to take a break from the rotation.
  • This may be the most important. No deadlines or goals. Period. I want to get back to stitching for the sake of enjoying my stitching.
So, there are the rules. Now I had to decide what to put on the list.

Some of these projects are things that I have been postponing "until the time is right." I'm not sure when I expected that time to happen. It's a little like never using the good china and crystal and silver until there is an event momentous enough to warrant pulling them out of the china cupboard. It is unlikely that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are going to arrive for Sunday dinner. It is equally unlikely that all the Stitching Stars will be aligned for just the "right time" to work on some of these projects. So, with that in mind, I made sure to put some of them on the list.

So, in no particular order, here's the list:

I started working on this set during my Fourth of July Stay-cation last year. I have no idea why I set it aside. So it's definitely on the list.

I was working on this sampler before Mary Otter and I'm at the interesting part. While it's not technically 17th century, it's close in style and stitches.

I took this as a face-to-face class about ten years ago. This is another of those projects I wanted to work on when "the time was right." Well, it's right. Plus, I'd like to free up the slate frame so I can use it on one of my casket panels.

I've had the silk for this project mounted for a year. It is time to actually stitch the ornament.

I took this class last fall from Sherri Jones. It's one of my favorites from her and I'm really looking forward to stitching it.

You may have noticed that I love Jackie du Plessis's designs and classes and I take every class I can from her--which means I have a stack of projects in varying states of completion. I could not decide which one to do first, so I decided to start at the top of the stack and work my way down. This was the most recent class, so it gets first whack.

This is a recent purchase from Gay Ann Rogers's February Heart Sale. It definitely appealed to my prissy girly-girl side. It also should be a fairly fast stitch, and it will be nice to have something off the list fairly quickly.

If you've read this far, you should have no problems finishing War and Peace. I'm going to go and figure out which project I want to start first.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Six Months and Two Days

From the time I sewed the linen for Mary Otter to the scroll bars until I took the last stitch, it has been six months and two days.

And now she is complete:

I have to admit. I have not been completely monogamous. I took off to Williamsburg twice for trysts with other projects. And, shameless hussy that I am,  I stitched Barbara Jackson's SNS Christmas ornament for 2017 and Tricia Nguyen's Jacobean Flower under the same roof as Mary Otter over my Christmas stay-cation.

Still, I have to admit that she took longer to stitch than I anticipated. There is a lot of over-one tent stitching, which adds to the level of delicacy and detail in the sampler. It has been worth it.

Most people who know me know that I tend to prefer 17th century band samplers. This is 19th century, which I dabble in but don't focus on. Let me introduce you to the little dude who started this whole thing.

When I saw this character on the original sampler, he caused my big mouth to open and say to the sampler's owner, "If you chart this, I'll stitch the model for you."

And now I have.

And now I have to figure out what to do with Life after Mary Otter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Flying Critters

There are about a bazillion flying critters flitting and fluttering around the sky around the big funky tree.

I was having a hard time getting the silly bugs in the right place. Every time I counted over from one motif to where I thought the next critter should be--then recounted to be sure I was in the right place--I came up in a different spot.

Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if the darker grid lines from the chart were somehow superimposed on the linen so it would be easier to find the right spot for the butterfly/dragonfly/flying critter.

Well, duh.

The lines you see are the loose basting lines I stitched in so I could get the bugs where they belonged.

And now they're all stitched, and I am going to start the very last motif on the sampler.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Buds and Flowers and Leaves

If you stay up until 2 a.m. one night, and spend a good chunk of the next day in the wing chair with needle in hand, you'll get all the leaves and flowers added to the last funky tree on Mary Otter.

I still have one green stripe to stitch across the bottom of the sampler, and a bunch of flying insects to add, and the final motif to work in.

I'm getting very, very, very close to a finish.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Up a Tree

We're back home, back to reality, and back to Mary Otter.

The last funky tree is on its way:

This one will have loads of leaves and buds blooming--just like spring is coming.

And, oh, how I wish it would! While we're not getting slammed like the Northeast, it's been a bit nippy and windy and not at all spring-like, even though flowers are starting to appear and the flowering trees have . . . well . . . flowered. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this year the peaches don't get fooled and bloom too early.

However, this tree can bloom all it wants to--and it's going to start tonight.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Psychedelic Caterpillar

Alert:  For those who have come to this blog expecting information on some kind of mind-altering,  consciousness-expanding substance that is more than likely illegal if not downright dangerous, move along. This is about embroidery. All embroidery, all the time.

Today I stitched a caterpillar in 17th century style:

I hate to admit this, but this is the first thing I've stitched this week that I am absolutely and totally happy with.

The sad fact is that I just don't stitch well in class. I'm a slooooooooooow stitcher, and classes are not set up for the way I work. Today I decided I was going to take my time, let the world go on without me, and work at my own pace.

And now I have a rainbow caterpillar to call my own.

The class I'm taking is a notebook class, meaning that we work on small samples of stitches that are collected in a book to be used for reference. Chris Berry, who is teaching the class, set up books for each of us that even have our own names on the fronts. We have space to make notes and put the samples we're stitching, along with the instructional materials for each technique. And she is a very thorough teacher who takes time to check each student's work.

Despite her talent as a teacher, my samples are basically crappy.

I've decided that, once I am home and in my nest again, I'm going to restitch each one, taking my time and using the threads and linen I like to use for my 17th century projects. This is going to be a valuable resource as I work on my casket--I've already found the perfect stitch for a tree trunk, and have an idea for some clothing based on what we've been doing.

Meanwhile, Baby Girl came up for a few days and she and I went gallivanting yesterday. There is a wonderful exhibit at the DeWitt Wallace on printed fabrics from the 18th and early 19th centuries. We wandered along Duke of Gloucester Street. I went to a lecture on raised embroidery yesterday afternoon and to a display of exquisite embroidery brought by one of the people who is a member of our retreat group while Baby Girl continued to explore. Last night, despite the windstorm that nearly picked us up and blew us away, we went to an evening concert in the Historic District.

We have only one more day of class, and then it's back to reality.

I'm not ready for reality.