Monday, August 18, 2014

Random Monday

It's mid-August and time to start working on worrying about stitched Christmas gifts.  I thought this year I might make sets of tea towels, stitched with botanical charts, herbs for the most part.  I am also in need of something a little easier on the eyes than my two current projects.  So tea towels with 14 ct Aida inserts are the perfect interim projects when the sampler and the stocking get a little wearisome.  In any case, I pulled some tea towels out of stash and a few herbal charts and started on one today. The charts I am using are from a Cross My Heart booklet called A Sampling of Herbs.   The chart I am using is actually a sampler with 12 blocks, each featuring a different herb.  I am using six of  the single blocks for the tea towels.  I didn't care for the charted border, a sketchy pseudo Greek back-stitched cross and reverse cross sort of affair.  So I stitched it as a solid border using two blues from the rest of the piece.  And since these will be tea towels, I replaced all the gold beads with floss.  I still need to stitch two more sprigs of rosemary to complete this towel

At least, this is a productive sort of startitis since I'll have a few Christmas gifts as a result.  I tend to get antsy when my rotation slips down to 2 or 3 pieces.  And it is currently at 1. what with my steadfast concentration of the The English Band Sampler.  Here's a photo of my progress on the sampler over the past few days.  As you can see, I am still working on pansies.  I want to stitch all the floral motifs in the left section of the band before finishing the spiral border.

I know I have to get back working on Piper's stocking if I am to have it done this year but the mere thought of facing all that pink is daunting.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Hazel's Blanket


My niece and god-daughter just had a second child, a little girl named Hazel Celia.  My poor mother nearly cried when she was told the name ... she associates Hazel with Shirley Booth's ancient b&w sitcom about an impertinent housemaid.  I keep assuring Mom that we will all get used to it.  Well, anyway, I am crocheting a blanket and will be personalizing a bib.



It feels odd to be working with a crochet hook instead of a tapestry needle.  Odd but good.I am about 1/3 done with this blanket, done mostly in pinks with some pastel green, yellow and lavender thrown in for variation.  It's just a series of single and half double crochets as you can see by the close-up.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Still Stitching Through The Staycation

This Prairie Schooler  promo card for To All A Good Night served its purpose, relaxing my tired eyes and weary brain after tackling the final beading of The Dragon of the Winter Moon and working some of the fiddly borders of The English Band Sampler.  I stitched it on 32ct blue linen [called Meditation], using silks instead of the charted DMC.  I didn't try to approximate the DMC colors.  Rather, I just selected colors I decided went well together.  I used Belle Soie Beanstalk for the green, Belle Soie Pecan for the tarnished gold,. Belle Soie Oatmeal Scone for the white, a tiny remnant of a Splendour silk for the flesh tones and Vikki Clayton hand dyed fiber's Dragon's Blood for the red.  It seems I can't escape the dragons even when I stop stitching them.  I did stitch the stars or snowflakes in Kreinik VFB 032 to give a little shine to the piece.  The background is supposed to be solidly stitched in brown/black.  I may or may not stitch the background.  But if I do, I'll probably use a very dark blue.  Having used a 32 ct linen, the finished stitched size is rather small.  To make it into a reasonably sized Christmas ornament, I may finish it up as an open sack with a cord hanger, using some nice Christmas fabric to fo a sort of log cabin quilt effect around the Santa..

I returned to my sampler refreshed and renewed.  And, since I picked up the missing DMC 3834 Tuesday, I was able to finish the flower on the lower left.and start stitching its mirror image as well as getting a bit more of the border done.  I do regret not making an enlarged working copy of this chart.  For one thing my copy of this issue of SANQ is getting rather ragged what with all the flipping back and forth through the pages.  The chart for Band 7 is in four graphs.  Next time I have a situation like this, I am definitely going to enlarge, copy and cut and paste multiple graphs into one easy to read chart.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another Dragon Dreams Finish

The last stitch was put in The Dragon of the Winter Moon late this evening.   I enjoyed stitching this piece but I think I am done with dragons for the next little while.  I had intended to start The Dragon of the Summer Sky this month as it is the companion piece to The Dragon of the Winter Moon.  But I think I will hold off on that for the time being.  For one thing, I don't have a suitable 28 ct linen in my stash.  For another, I really want to concentrate on The English Band Sampler for the rest of the month or until it is done, whichever comes first.

I am hoping to persuade my husband to take a day trip to Hyde Park while I am on summer break.  I'd like to visit The Deer Hill Farm Cross Stitch shop.  I have ordered from them before but have never been to the shop.  It's the closest thing to an LNS in the area.  But it's not the only reason to visit Hyde Park.  There is the FDR house and Culinary Institute of America.  If they serve lunch at CIA, adding that to the day's activities would be a real treat.  But if not, maybe we could find a B and B in the area and do a one night - two day get away and have dinner at CIA.  Granted, my main reason for the trip would still be the LNS visit.  I need the right fabric for the Dragon and for the remaining Quaker animals for my quilt, I need to get a few items framed.  And I have been wanting a good sturdy magnifying lamp for sometime.  But visiting the local sights would be fun and go a ways toward justifying the hour and a half trip in each direction..

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Further Progress on The English Band Sampler & Other Stuff

On Friday, I spent a bit more time on the patio in the pleasant late afternoon and early evening light.  I am currently working on this very fiddly satin stitched double helix sort of border done in three colors.  One of the spirals is supposed to be done in the same fawn [DMC 3770] that drove me batty during the great eyelet episode.  Since I really don't want to go totally blind, I have decided to stitch the spiral charted in dawn in one of the greens used in the vining [DMC 732 or 3011]instead.  I need a little contrast between floss and fabric in order to place my stitches accurately.  I may go ahead and use the fawn to stitch the centers instead of the called for light coral [DMC 352].  Band 5 had a similar border and I spent a lot of time frogging the darn thing.  So I am being particularly careful about counting and checking the border against the placement of other design motifs as I go along.  So far so good.

Saturday morning I emptied my stitching bag of all the flosses left from my last few finishes and put them away properly.  It took nearly an hour.  That will teach me to clean up after myself as I go along.  It's a tedious enough chore after just one finish but after three or four, it is just plain deadly.

And, because I wanted the relief of something easy, I pulled out a Prairie Schooler promo card Christmas ornament and started working it in Belle Soie silks on 36ct blue linen.  Between the beads on The Dragon of the Winter Moon and the border on The English Band Sampler, my brain fried.  I need simple straightforward cross stitch for a little while.  I figure a day of easy stitching will allow me to recoup my energies for the tough stuff.

As you can see, I didn't get very far along with the ornament either.  A trip to the Stony Point Farmer's Market and another trip to the King's Daughters library took up a good bit of the morning and early afternoon.  I should have taken photos at the farmer's market.  I'll remember to take my camera next time.  While there were only ten booths, they were almost all very interesting.  There were two farms, one dairy [raw milk products ranging from milk, cheese and yogurt to soaps made with milk] that also had free range chicken eggs and organically fed hormone free pork products, a baker, a honey stand, an upstate NY vinyard, a jam and jelly maker.  The other three were crafters [crochet and quilts] and cosmetic stands, not of much interest to me given I do those crafts myself and don't need any lotions or gels at this time.  At the farm stands, I bought some fantastic green beans, some blue carrots and a wild blueberry pie.   At one stand I saw some of the most beautiful onions or leeks I have ever seen: glossy red and white bulbs below perfect greenery.  They looked like they ought to be immortalized in a still life oil painting, they were that beautiful.    There were five different kinds of potatoes, including baby blue potatoes.  By the time I got there, just before noon, all the sweet corn was gone.  Next week, I will go earlier.

Between the Farmer's Market and my own harvest, we are eating very well.  I harvested some basil,  another three eggplant and another three cucumbers this morning.  The tomato plants have finally begun to set fruit and I am hoping to have my own tomatoes fairly soon.  Today, I prepared an excellent lunch using my own eggplant, some chicken, peppers, onions in a chicken broth sauce thickened with Half & Half and served over pasta.  I also prepared a cucumber and onion salad to serve with tonight's light supper of Italian confetti salad.


I haven't done any stitching today having spent most of the morning and early afternoon in the kitchen, preparing the above-mentioned salads and sauces, brewed some peach iced tea and starting some refrigerator pickles.  Other than that, I just been lazing about watching some old X-file episodes with my husband.

Friday, August 8, 2014

SANQ Stuff

SANQ's The English Band Sampler got a bit more attention recently but will become the main focus for the rest of the month.  I started it in August 2012 so it seems appropriate to finish it in August 2014.  Here is a photo of the sampler when last seen.  I had just finished one of the first motifs of Band 7.  Since then I have managed a few more hours stitching in the soft light of early morning.  To stitch in a comfortable chair on the patio with a large mug of tea beside me is one of the simpler joys of life.  Listening to the birdsong of sparrows, cardinals, robins, chickadees and tufted tits is charming enough but lately we have been visited by a year old doe each morning.   She picks her way delicately through the trees and bushes above the retaining wall, nibbling on shoots put out by some the stumps of the trees we have recently had cut down.  She has the good taste to leave the Van Houten Spirea alone and is actually assisting us in our efforts to control the unwanted growth above the wall.    All in all, Mother Nature has provided me with a lovely setting for my stitching.  It seems appropriate as this band is all about motifs drawn from nature: flowers and acorns and vines.

Here is a photo showing recent progress.  I have run into a slight glitch.  I am pleased to own a complete set of DMC ... or so I thought.  I find I don't have DMC 3834, one of the purple shades needed for the flower on the bottom left.  This is annoying since it will require a 30 minute trip [one way] to the other end of the county to get a skein at Michael's .  It is particularly irritating since I don't have any other errands in the area to justify the gas and the time spent.  Other than the small glitch, I am enjoying this band immensely.  Each band in this sampler has had its own particular character and differs from all the previous ones.  Band 7 is not nearly so solidly stitched as some of the previous bands.  Another distinction is that there is no back stitching.  The shapes are defined by using 1/4 and 3/4 stitches at the edges of the motifs and wherever two colors meet along horizontal lines.  The profusion of acorns is a plus.  I love fall motifs and the colors of these are particularly pleasing.  I would never have thought of using a dark shell pink floss to stitch an acorn but I love the result.

And, finally, some relatively rare stash enhancement, and only my second purchase of the year: nearly everything I need to make the SANQ pin cushion doll from the latest issue. There's the linen, the finishing fabrics, the silk floss, the chatelaine charm and the lovely doll herself.  All I am missing is the over dyed ribbon but that should arrive in about three weeks time.  It's on back order.  This will be the third project I have stitched from this magazine which I subscribe to for the many historical articles.  The other projects were a very small scissor case using a pair of Tokens and Trifles triangular cards and the above-noted sampler.  There have been many other charts that called to me from the pages of SANQ, but not quite as insistently as these three.  The others shall have to wait till I am retired and have more time.  For the present, I was hoping to stir up some interest in a Pin Cushion Doll SAL starting in September or October and posted an invitation on the 123stitch message board but there wasn't any interest.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Some Recent Finds

My husband and I made another road trip to the Coxsackie antique and collectible shops on Rte 9W in Greene County last week and I found some real treasures.

First off:  four lovely green glass salad [or maybe sandwich] plates in a thumb print pattern.  These match some depression glass pieces I already have, in color though not in pattern.  Which is fine with me since I do tend to do the mix and match shabby chic thing.  I don't think these are depression glass though because of the presence of tiny bubbles which make me think these plates may have been hand-blown.





Then, I found this lovely Japan ware Phoenix pattern syrup pitcher and oval serving bowl.  The syrup pitcher has a lid that completely covers the spout and must be removed before pouring.  I had never seen the pattern before but it was love at first sight.  I am thinking of pairing this with my pale blue depression glass breakfast set the next time I serve pancakes or French toast with fruit.






Here is a detailed close up of the phoenix motif.  I suspect these were restaurant pieces because of the heft of the porcelain.  We are not talking delicate translucent china by any means.  Although the glaze and design mimic high end ware, I am reasonably certain this graced the table of some modest commercial establishment.  The mark on the bottom simply says Made in Japan.  I would date it to the 1950s or so.




Some more shabby chic: sixteen mismatched silver plated iced tea spoons.  I recently ran across a method for making cold brewed iced coffee syrup to avoid the bitterness that iced coffee often has. See this link for directions.  That and a yen for some solar tea had me scrambling for iced tea spoons.  It seems I only had the one and it was stainless steel.  Now, I have a treasure trove of silver plated spoons and all I had to do was dig through two 3x3x3 boxes brimming with assorted spoons marked @ $1.00.





I picked up another sugar shell and an interesting serving spoon to use with my oval dish [see above].









And I couldn't resist a teaspoon with a pattern that looks like pebbles viewed through a stream of running water.  I haven't researched this yet to find the true name of the pattern but I have started calling it my Babbling Brook spoon.  






And I hit the jackpot when it came to stitching accessories.  I always look for stitching related stuff but aside from the occasional button jar, I rarely find any.  This time I found not one but two animal themed pin cushions.  Serendipitously, SANQ is running a two part series on animal pin cushions this issue and next.  The first one I came across was this crazy little turtle lying on his back and with a very surprised look on his face.  He is seven inches long from tail to head and is about three inches high.  The pottery body is textured but unglazed and his belly is a worn and faded gold velvet cushion.  He has black and white flat glass eyes.



Here is a close-up. There is a tiny chip missing from the top of his left eye but the piece is in remarkable condition otherwise.  Judging by the wear on the fabric I am thinking this might be a late 19th century piece but I am not sure how I would go about researching it.  I'll be checking out a few Internet sites and I'll look at the footnotes in the SANQ articles to get further leads.





The second pin cushion is probably a mid 20th century piece.  Much smaller than the turtle, it is a white glazed ceramic rabbit with the cushion on its back and surrounded by tiny flowers.







So, all in all, a very good haul.  The funny thing is that I went in looking for a brass handled walking stick for my husband.  He needs a cane due to rheumatism and arthritis but he dislikes the generic drugstore variety.  He prefers something with more character.  Our next road trip will have to be to a huge place on Rte 17 in Ulster County.  I may have better luck finding a walking stick there.




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Progress Photos

I have had a few more than two dozen sewing and assembly finishes sitting on the ironing board for quite sometime.  Most are ornaments but there are a fair number of pieces that need to be finished as totes and pillows.  I finally got a start on them, but only a start.  Here's the photo: one more of the La-D-Da cardinal Christmas ornaments and a half-finished project bag.  I still need to make the pockets in the lining and then sew it and handles to the bag.  For some reason I don't seem to have much enthusiasm for sewing and finishing just now.  I need to psyche myself up so that I can get into one of my finishing frenzies and get this all done.


I also finished the Indy 2006 Town Square series' The Silversmith Shop.  It calls for a Charland charm to be sewn on the door: a sterling silver sign with a Revere bowl.  But I think it looks complete without it.  Besides, since I used a higher count fabric than originally charted in order to make it fit in with my Ornament project, I suspect the charm would be disproportionately large for the door.  Now, it gets added to the ever growing finish & assembly pile.




I also got a lot done on Dragon Dreams' Dragon of the Winter Moon, as can be seen in this photo.  I do still have the moon to stitch and the beading in the mountain range to do but I am nearly there.  It has been my primary focus for the past few days and will be until I finish it.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gallery Post - Bean Bags and Pin Pillows

I showed you my Throw Pillows in a gallery post yesterday, so now I'll show you my miniature pillows.  Back in my childhood, we used to call little pillows stuffed with rice, beans or ground up nutshells bean bags.  We used to play all sorts of games with them.  Hot potato was something like Musical Chairs only without the chairs.  At birthday parties and such, children would sit on the floor in a circle, while music played, passing the bean bag around the circle.  The person stuck with the bean bag when the music stopped playing was eliminated, until only one person remained.  Then, there were all sorts of target games tossing them into buckets or through hoops or even concentric circles draw in the dirt or in chalk on pavement.  Point values would be assigned to each target.  We also just played catch with the darn things.  The WiFi generation doesn't play with bean bags anymore, so I guess these things are now pin pillows.  I suppose I could start filling them with potpourri and call them sachets!




I received this chart as a gift from a British stitcher and have long since Paid It Forward, so I can't give you designer and title information.











This a Blackbird Designs chart called, oddly enough, Red Bird.  I tend to enjoy stitching all sorts of birds.  It's one of my favorite themes.








This is a complimentary chart from The Silver Needle in Tulsa Oklahoma.  The purse shape is made up of the words "I Love To Shop At The Silver Needle."  Included with the chart was the very sweet silver plate charm of a purse.










This is a complimentary chart entitled "In My Garden" and it came from a blog that is no longer being updated.    I enjoyed stitching it in a series of over dyed cotton flosses in colorways of turquoise and lavendar.  The cotton crochet lace came from my grandmother's sewing stash.












This is another complimentary chart, Peacock, whose designer's name escapes me at the moment.  I believe I stitched this using much the same floss as the pillow above.  I also added some beads.  And I used a fabric yo-yo in a complementing  fabric to conceal the spot where I stuffed and then hand-stitched the pillow closed.  The ruched ribbon and lace trim came from my mother's sewing stash.










This chart came from an old stitching magazine and the finish involved top-stitching two linen pieces [the back is stitched with the rune for R, my initial] together and then fringing the selvages.  I like the rather rustic look of this finish.






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Friday, August 1, 2014

Gallery Post - Pillows

Another of my gallery posts: this one featuring throw pillows.  Back when I got really serious about cross stitching, about 25 years ago, I did a lot of pillow kits from Shepherd's Bush and folks like that.  Most were given away before I got my digital camera and starting keeping a photo record of my work.  I don't make too many throw pillows anymore, probably not more than 1 finish out of 15.  But I still have a fair amount.

This seems like an appropriate one to start with.  It's called All Wrapped up and was my first attempt at a flange pillow.  I learned a lot about how not to do a flange pillow on this one.

Snowmen are not one of my favorite subjects but somehow this tall fellow with his crazy scarf appeals to me.  Whenever I need to stitch a snowman for an exchange or a gift, this is the one and only chart I use.





This little patchwork pillow is made up of four Glory Bee Christmas ornaments that I found in a magazine back in the day.  I can't remember which magazine at this late date. it might have been Celebration.  It was the first Glory Bee piece that I did









This is another Glory Bee piece, entitled Flying Monkeys, a homage to The Wizard of Oz.  I display this during Halloween season for obviuos reasons.









This is another Halloween piece from the Wee Birds series [LHN, I think].  Autumn and Halloween are among my favorite themes in stitching.  The finishing technique, a tie on sleeve, is borrowed from Shepherd's Bush and allows for switching out seasonal pillow covers on one pillow form.  It is embellished with a dew JABCo buttons that you will see better if you click to enlarge.






This is a Homespun Elegance chart: another patchwork pillow.  Clicking to enlarge will reveal a pretty little bird Olde Brass Button among the letters and that the sheep at the lower right is made up entirely of French Knots.  Colonial Knots were called for, but somehow I have never mastered them.






This is a log Cabin style finish using an old Glory Bee free chart as its centerpiece.  The colorway has me thinking summer and the Fourth of July, so I usually display it then.









I don't remember the name of this chart but it is clearly one of the many pieces I stitched as a souvenir of our frequent visits to Maine.









Another Summer House ... probably a Little House Needleworks free chart.  In keeping with the patriotic colorway, I used the Log Cabin technique to finish it and embellished it with the shiny red star buttons.








I forget the name and designer of this chart [Heart in Hand, perhaps] but it is a sweet little thing with a pious sentiment.  I display it in my bedroom year round.









I believe this is yet another Litttle House Needleworks design.  There was a time when I stitched little else than LHN and Prairie Schooler charts.









This is one of my Secret Needle Night projects finished as a pillow.  I subscribed to Secret Needle Night for a little over three years during the Mona Best era.  Once Brooke took over I dropped the subscription as her style was just a little roo sweet for my tastes.









This a Shepherd's Bush pillow for February and March, hence the heart and the shamrocks.











This a Better Homes and Garden kit that I made up into a tooth fairy pillow for my grandson, Liam.