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, January 31, 2022


 The base for the butterfly is stitched:

It, too, will have detached buttonhole wings attached over the base.

The base is stitched in Soie Ovale, which has a beautiful sheen and comes in glorious, clear colors. The photo does not do it justice.

But . . . 

It snags on air.

It also snags and shreds as it moves through the linen. It tangles and shreds on itself. And if there is the tiniest rough spot anywhere on your body, including the soles of your feet, it will find that spot and snag, shred, and tangle on it. Changing the needle doesn't make any difference--it isn't the needle's eye that causes the problem.

In short, it's a right royal pain in the posterior to use, but it does look marvelous when it's stitched.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

There are Times

 I have fallen victim to the blahs. 

This is the third weekend we've had a bit of snow. Not enough to make a decent snowball, much less a snowman--just a slightly icy tease that makes walking outside less than safe and keeps you inside because the wind chill is biting. All I want to do is sit in my corner, wrapped in an afghan, sipping something hot.

I think this affected my stitching. None of my current projects are appealing at the moment. Nothing against them, they are all delightful and I do want to work on them, just not right now.

But my fingers are restless.

This means that I need to do something I don't have to think about too much. Generally, this means I need to do cross stitch and only cross stitch, or I need to work on one of my vintage crewel pieces, or I need to work basketweave on canvas.

I would have to find a vintage crewel piece I'd started or some needlepoint that just needs basketweave, and that's too much effort for a session of the blahs. BUT, I had a little make-it, take-it kit that is all cross stitch with a little backstitch in the pile of projects left over from 2021.

So Aubergine it is:

This will eventually become a needle book, and there's a coordinating pin keep and scissors fob. And it's easy to stitch, and keeps my hands out of trouble, and, hopefully, will pull me out of the blahs.

Warmer temps would also help, if Mother Nature is listening.

Friday, January 28, 2022

If at First

After fighting with looping the lightest green on the last mound on this panel of Harmony, I had decided that I was going to rip it all out and put something else there.  In fact, I spent a couple of hours rummaging in my thread stash to see what might work in its place.

And I brought the contenders downstairs with the idea that I'd audition them in the margin of the linen. But before I started that, I decided to try the loops one more time.

And this time it worked.

I think I may know why. I think this spool of silk gimp may have been wound in the opposite direction from the other two shades.  I worked the first two from left to right. I worked the last one from right to left, so the thread was wrapped into its loop in reverse from the others.

I can't tell any difference in looking at the mound.

 And, of course, my photo cuts it off. Figures.

However, you will notice that I have another motif worked. I need to make a needlelace slip to sew over the purple flowers., but at the moment, I'm leaning toward doing all the background stitching, then have a needlelace-making marathon and attach them all in the same stitching session.

We'll see if that happens.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Loop de Loop

 Mother worked diligently to make sure The Saint and I were properly reared. For example, if we were offered something we despised, we were not allowed to say, "I hate that!!!" Instead, we were to say, "This is not my favorite." The offerer was supposed to be able to interpret that code to mean that you hated it, and was to withdraw the offer.

The stitch for the last mound on this panel is not my favorite.

You're supposed to create loops of silk gimp and stitch them in place.

That bit of fuzz is from the last shade of green that I ripped out. For the third time. My loops kept pulling out, even though I was working them the same way I had worked the previous two shades. I have no clue as to the reason, other than ever-increasing levels of frustration.

I decided that I should perhaps stitch something else for the rest of the day. Actually, the friend that I'm working on this with has decided to do another stitch entirely on this little hill. I think I'll do the same if this is repeated elsewhere in the project. Life is too short.

I have had success with Carmen's Etui:

The base of one of the handles  is done. This motif is repeated three more times on the handle section. Luckily, It has gone quite well.

I have now jinxed myself.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

filling in

 And today I started filling in some more areas:

I have more satin stitch to do, along with detached buttonhole for the center of the honeysuckle, the strawberries, and the tops of the acorns. 

I've been asked about working satin. I've learned a few things to try to make it smoother:
  • Use a sharp needle. This lets you pierce the fabric threads so your stitches can be placed closer to each other. You may draw blood--I do--I just consider that I have added DNA to the record of the project.
  • Try to stitch so the embroidery threads lie parallel to each other. If you need to change the direction of the stitches, gradually pivot around the curve from a central point.
  • Focus on  what you're doing and take your time. I can tell by looking at what I stitched today when I was distracted and when I tried to stitch faster. This is a slow stitching project.
I used to be an electric needle. I'm trying to reform--I've decided that I may not get as many projects done in a year as other people, but I'm much happier with the way the finished projects look. It probably has a lot to do with being an OCD stitcher. 

This is definitely the only thing I'm OCD about. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Another Psychedelic Caterpillar

 The whole time I was working on this motif, I could hear Grace Slick wailing "Feed your head" in my mind.

I have now dated myself.

And like all good psychedelic caterpillars, he seems to be floating in mid-air.

He'll get grass sometime today. I had planned to get his little hill as well as the last one on the right done yesterday, but he took a lot longer than I anticipated. I had to couch a crinkle gimp silk thread down to make the segments of his body, which means that the start and end of each piece of gimp has to be plunged to the back and sewn down on the wrong side. I could have left all those ends on the front and plunged and sewn at one time.

But, as we all know, I am a klutz. I could easily tangle up the couching thread in all those ends sticking up, so I plunged and sewed with each change in color.

And, after my back let me know that I had been leaning over the frame for long enough, I moved to my other current Major Project. 

This basket motif will be repeated at the base of the handle for Carmen's Etui. It's another thing I hope to work on this afternoon.

So, busy day ahead!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

More hills

 Another slow stitching morning, and I have two more hills.

I was going to start the next hill, but I'd have to compensate around the outline of the caterpillar. And that made me wonder if it would be easier to stitch the caterpillar and then work the hill it's sitting on. So, I think I'm going to read over the directions for the caterpillar, and make sure I have the threads pulled to use on it, and probably get that critter stitched before I do another hill.

Besides, I'm getting tired of green and brown.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Busy, busy

Yesterday was a very industrious stitching day. I worked on all three of my major projects.

You saw the first three hills on the Harmony Casket yesterday. After that, I finished filling in the satin stitching on the four flowers on Hannah Thornbush.

And then I started the outlining for the handle for Carmen's Etui.

I stopped when I realized a couple of things. First, I need to change to longer side bars or work the handle in hand. Secondly, I couldn't count anything accurately, which may be because it was getting later and may be because I can't count. Or both.

Unfortunately, today is an adulting day. I needed to balance the checkbook and pay bills. I need to haul the vacuum cleaner around, and waft the dust cloth. I need to sling a load of clothes into the washing machine. I should go for a walk before we have messy weather again.

Or I could figure out how to count and get the outlines for the handle done.


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Over hill and dale

 I have started on the first panel for the Harmony Casket.

I need to work some needlelace to sew over the hill on the right--the silk that is there serves as an underlining. I'm going to need to work needlelace for other sections, so I think I'll wait and do all of them at the same time.

This is definitely a daylight project. I believe I'll work on this the way I did the Tudor project, first thing in the morning when my head and hands are their freshest and the light is the best.

I do need to figure out how to organize the threads for this project. Right now, they're all jumbled in a shoebox, which means any time I want to change colors, I need to rummage around looking for what I want. This may warrant masking up and going shopping for a solution.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Dodging the ice bullet

 We dodged the ice bullet over the weekend!

When I woke up yesterday, there was just a smudge of snow and it had started sleeting. It continued to sleet most of the morning, then it rained, then it snowed again. Dearly Beloved tottered outside periodically through the day to stick a yardstick in the accumulation to see what we had. He reported that we had a solid inch of ice between layers of snow, and, depending on which part of our little bit of yard he poked, we got between 3 and 4 inches of cold precipitation.

Those of you who live in snowy climes are now laughing hysterically. You have to remember--I live in the land of heat and humidity, basically the subtropics. The last time we had much of anything was three years ago, and it wasn't much either. So, we don't have a lot of snow-moving equipment, nor do we have a snow shovel of our own. 

The good thing is that we didn't have frozen precipitation on the tree limbs or power lines, so our lights and heat have stayed on. The bad thing is that the temps are above freezing, so stuff is melting. The temps will drop below freezing tonight, so the melted stuff will freeze. Tomorrow we will have black ice in spots as a result, so we're still hunkering down. 

Bet you thought I got a lot of stitching done this weekend.

You would be wrong.

I fell into a book (Ken Follett's The Evening and The Morning) on Saturday. Yesterday, I cooked some stick-to-your-ribs stuff to warm us from the inside, then finally sat down to stitch late in the day.

I started doing the filling on the big flowers when I finished the outlining since they're done in the same color. I think I'm going to continue with the flowers today, just to get them done.

I was planning to work on Hannah only on Sundays, but she is proving to be hard to put down. But, as I have repeatedly said, I am setting no goals and working to no schedules in 2022, no matter how difficult it is to avoid making lists and ticking things off on the calendar. I am retired, by jiminey, and I don't have to do that any longer!

Come to think of it, I don't have to worry about getting into work or working from home when the weather is bad. I have permanent snow days!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Before the Storm

Today was the last sunny day before the dread wintery mix hits our part of the Carolinas. I should have gone for a long walk before the ice forms on every surface. I probably should have checked the expiration date on the milk. In this part of the world, everyone dashes out to get milk, bread, and eggs before any winter storm--we call it the French Toast Run. I should have put the extra blankets at the foot of the bed in case we lose power due to the amount of ice we're expected to get.

But the sun was shining, and I get along much better with 45 count linen in daylight.

So, all the green double running on this band of Hannah Thornbush is stitched.

I just have to stitch the big pink flowers and fill in seeds on the strawberries, and I'll be ready to add all the other colors to this band.

I seem to be working on this sampler every day but Sunday.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Radio Silence

I planned to be sure to blog more often in 2022, and didn't mean to drop out for a couple of days.

I had a doctor's appointment smack dab in the middle of the day on Tuesday. I know people who can pick up and put things down for a few minutes here and there. I am not one of them. That meant I didn't get to thread a needle until evening.

Then yesterday, I spent most of the morning at the car place while the oil was being changed in my car. While I can fiddle around on my phone while waiting, I can't blog easily on it. And when I got home, Dearly Beloved was in possession of the laptop where he was looking up bread recipes. He is trying to replicate a whole wheat bread loaf we used to get from a little bakery that closed during 2020. I wish he'd stop--the holidays and sampling his test batches probably account for the extra couple of pounds I gained since the last doctor visit. 

There has been some needlework accomplished the last two evenings.

The last panel for Carmen's Etui's body is done. The next step is to stitch the handle and its lining.

I figured out where to fudge a stitch so the pattern would work on Hannah Thornbush. I only had to rip things out a couple of times to get the sweet spot--but better to rip out maybe ten stitches than a bazillion. I think I may try to get a few more stitches in this today. The whole design is worked in double running, and then everything is filled in.

We are supposed to get a "winter mix" this week-end. As much as I would love to see snow--we really haven't had a noticeable amount in the last three winters--I have a horrible feeling we're going to have sleet and freezing rain and ice. And that is the wonderful thing about being retired--I don't need to go anywhere if it turns into a mess.

Although I have been thinking about a snow day start . . . should it be a UFO or WIP, or should it be a never-stitched, brand new project? Do I really need another labor-intensive, long-term project, or should I pick something that could be finished while the snow/ice is on the ground?

Which means it would have to be something that can be done in a day from start to finish. Our winter precipitation never lasts long.

Monday, January 10, 2022


I was making such good progress on Hannah that I thought I would give her another couple of hours of attention today.

And that is when I found out that I'm one thread off. At the very beginning of the double running.

 Foul language was employed.

It didn't help.

I am pretty OCD when it comes to my stitching, but there is absolutely no way I'm going to rip out all of this work.  I think I'm going to figure out a way to move over one thread in the same general area as the original mistake and just keep on going. I don't think it will be noticeable, and probably no one will ever know.

Except the people who read my blog and myself, and we'll never tell.


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Over Three, Under Three

 Today I've started working on the double running for the next band on Hannah Thornbush.  17th century samplers were frequently worked over three threads, so I have to remember to count to three rather than two. 

I believe I've finally regained the ability to focus on 45 count linen, which is a major surprise considering I've had two nights in a row with very little sleep. Yesterday there was no stitching at all due to general fogginess and overall meh.

And I did not expect to stitch today, since we were supposed to have lunch with friends in the early afternoon. Just as we were getting ready to leave, we had a call that they were on their way to try to find a place offering Covid tests. Both are vaxxed and boosted--and both were exposed to a grandchild who apparently caught a mild case at daycare. Both of them woke up with sniffles and a dry cough this morning and spent a few hours trying to decide if they needed a test or not. Luckily for Dearly Beloved and me, plus the wait staff at the restaurant, they decided to be checked out.

We will reschedule for a couple of weeks from now. I suppose this is the new normal, and we'll just have to exercise more patience and more care.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Pretty Leaves

Sometimes you make plans for your day, and then you wake up, and something catches your eye, and your plans change.

And that happened to me this morning. I plopped down in the chair, ready to pull out the threads to work on Harmony, and Carmen's Etui was sitting there with a lone leaf stitched. The next thing you know, I had threaded the needle and had stitched the second leaf, and then the third, and then the fourth and now the framework for this panel is done. 

If this looks a little familiar, it's because it's a repeat of the first panel.

I have a feeling that I'm going to alternate Carmen with Harmony, depending on how I feel when I get up in the morning. Actually, getting those two projects and Hannah done in one year would be quite an accomplishment.

However, that is an aspiration. I am setting no goals or making any resolutions this year, but I can live with an aspiration. For some reason, that sounds gentler and less pressured than a goal or resolution. I think I'm only going to have aspirations from now on!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

All Laced Up

 I'm more than a little OCD sometimes, especially when it comes to setting up a slate frame. I may as well accept that it's going to take me a couple of days to get it where I want it, whether I want it to or not. But it's done.

After tugging and pulling and straightening for most of the afternoon, my fingers need a rest. 

I had a terrible idea this afternoon. I seriously thought about doing all the tracing for the other three sides and the top, and getting them all framed up. I decided that was a very bad idea--I think I need the reinforcement of getting a side done to motivate me to move on to the next side.

So tomorrow a needle with be threaded with a pretty thread and not a basic sewing thread. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022


 It's ready to go (almost, once I get it on the slate frame).

The first side is traced. 

I am so excited, I can't stand it, although I have decided, if I ever win the lottery, I'm going to use part of my winnings to hire somebody to trace designs for me and to set up my slate frames.

I had a comment yesterday (Hi, Susan!) and a couple of emails, and then a phone call last night from a friend--all of them asking about doing Harmony, which is one of the 2022 online classes that Tricia Nguyen is offering. Basically, it all boiled down to should I? could I? would I?

Yes you should, you could and you (hopefully) will.

  • Opportunities like this don't come along every day. And it's always the projects that I pass on that I regret later.
  • The materials--the artisans who have created many of the materials have or are retiring, so the stuff to make it aren't going to be available. Actually, I took the course when it was first offered, and had the a la carte option, meaning that I didn't get a full kit but bought the bits and pieces I didn't have. Over the last several years, I used some of the threads, for example, on other things. When I was pulling my supplies together, there are colors I no longer have or missed getting--and they are now out-of-stock for anyone except those who are taking the class now.
  • The instructions are fantastic, with clear, color photos of each and every step. If I have a good photo, I can usually figure out what I'm supposed to do, and these pictures are great!
  • There is a community of stitchers who are available for advice and support when you sign up. You can participate as much or as little as you wish.
  • You can change things if you want. If you don't want to do needlelace, you don't have to. If you want to add needlelace, you can. 
  • If you can do French knots, tent stitch, couching, and Queen stitch, you're ready to start. Any other stitches, you'll have the chance to learn.
A friend and I are working on this together. We're not setting a schedule or deadlines, but using each other as a sounding board and cheering section. And I will be blogging about my progress. If the course is set up with the same schedule as before, the class postings extend over a couple of years, which would give you time to work on other things as well as this one. 

Yes,  I am hoping to enable. I do not profit or get a cut or anything else--I just love having others go down the same rabbit holes I do!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

One more to go

 I've finished four out of the five panels that make up the body of Carmen's Etui.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this project, and the soft, soft colors? I love the patterns, the sheen of the silk, everything about it.

I need to do other things this afternoon, but I'd really like to do the last panel instead. Hey, wait, I'm retired! I can do whatever I feel like!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Highs and Lows

 It is now colder than it was when I got up this morning.

After a week of spring-like temps and rain, it's starting to act like January. It's getting colder by the hour, but the sun is trying to come out, and I am always much happier on sunny days.

Do you think it might have something to do with easier stitching in daylight?

Yesterday I filled in four little leaves with detached buttonhole. Teeny little leaves means teeny little buttonhole stitches. And they were not only teeny, the direction of the buttonhole stitches changed.  What was Hannah thinking? (I know what I was thinking when I was stitching them, and it wasn't very nice.)

I also remembered one of the reasons I had laid Hannah aside. She suffers from floppy linen--to the point that I think I'm going to lace the sides of the linen to the sides of the scroll bar. Before I do that, I want to unroll the top of the sampler to see if I can figure out why the left side of the sampler is lower than the rest of it. I can't imagine that the stitches that hold the sampler to the roll bar have come loose, but that's the only logical explanation I can come up with. I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, after getting the leaves done, I thought I'd do a little on Carmen's Etui. The four corners are filled in and I've started just a bit on the center motif.

Actually, I think I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon working on this. I had hoped to get the design for the first panel of the Harmony casket traced so I could get my new start for 2022 actually started.  My back still has other ideas, so I guess I need to baby it a little more.

This getting older is interfering with what I want to do!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

2022 Sampler Sunday

Time to announce this year's Sampler Sunday project:

Probably no surprise to long-term readers of this blog, Hannah Thornbush is my project for Sundays this year.

I did audition a number of samplers. In fact, I had about a dozen or so arrayed around me on the bed, some still unopened in their packages, others with a stitch or two, still others very close to a finish.

My aspiration for the year (note that I did not say "resolution") is to work on some of my more challenging projects. That eliminated some of the schoolgirl samplers--and I have agreed to stitch the model for a major schoolgirl sampler sometime this year--so that category is covered anyway.

Then I really do want to get some of my UFO's and WIP's done, especially the ones that have a good bit of work done on them. Why not finish a few of those? So the unopened kits were laid aside.

I had some challenging and already started projects left to choose from.

I cannot tell a lie. If the sampler was already sewn to scroll bars, it went into the final group.

Hannah won. She isn't the oldest one, although I started her in 2009. She isn't the one with the most work already done.

But she is challenging and I've always liked her colors, and most of all, now that I'm retired, I have daylight hours to work on her. That's a tremendous help when working on 45 count linen.

And, she is about halfway done. Bonus!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Plan B

 Today was going to be a momentous day--not only the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of a challenging project. Today I was going to start working on Harmony, one of the casket designs available through the Cabinet of Curiosity course offered by Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads.

Even better, I was going to have a sort of stitch along with a good friend. No deadlines or assignments, just working along at the same time.

Today I was planning to mount the linen on the frame, trace the design, and get a stitch or two in.

Not gonna happen.

In my continuing research concerning the fact that housework can kill you if properly done, I have done myself an injury. I was vacuuming yesterday. I tried to vacuum under a large and heavy chair.

My back doesn't like to bend, but it will. It doesn't like to twist, but it will. It draws the line at bending and twisting simultaneously. I did that. It spasmed. I ended up slowly lowering myself into the chair I planned to vacuum under. And today I am on muscle relaxers and ice packs and ibuprofen. I will not be bending over the Lightbox to trace the design for the first section of Harmony today.

However, I will be stitching.

I found the counting error on Carmen's Etui that sent her into time-out before Christmas. I plan to work on her today.

Dearly Beloved just asked if I will be able to count accurately if I'm taking muscle relaxers.

My one stitching goal for 2022 was to take on more challenging projects. I guess accurate counting while on meds will be today's challenge.