Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October Giveaway

I fussed a while trying to decide what this month's theme would be and finally came up with these three Glory Bee Christmas charts:

GB23: Dear Santa [... define good]
Gb53: Santa 2003  [...please leave toys but take my brother]
GB82: Believe  [When you stop believing in Santa, you get underwear]

Here is a link to the designer's website where you may view the designs.  I no longer have photos of my stitching of these due to a computer disaster.  

As usual, leave a comment if you'd like to receive these charts, making sure to include your e-mail address if your profile does not include that info.  I'll draw a name on the 15th so that there'll be plenty of time to stitch at least one of these up by Christmas.  They're actually very quick stitches: a determined stitcher could have all three done by Christmas.  I enjoyed making them up as gift totes many years ago and used them to"wrap" gifts for my nieces.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stash Management

I have accumulated such an enormous collection of fabric, fiber, charts and embellishments over the years that I am well-provided in my retirement.

I have been organizing my stash so as to better enjoy it.  One of my loves is fiber.  There are just so many options available and I have a fairly representative collection.  [See my Gallery Post - Fibers as evidence of this].    The ownership of a favorite silk company, Belle Soie, has changed hands.  Since I am unlikely to find much more of the stuff and have many partial cards of many colors, I am systematically using up my stash of Belle Soie on smallish projects like the Prairie Schooler Primitive Americana and Prairie Schooler Year Rounds and this Prairie Schooler promo card, Stars and Stripes, from 2009.  Substituting the Belle Soie for DMC allows me the pleasure of stitching with silk and the righteous feeling of using what I have.  It would be such a pity to waste such lovely stuff.  I enjoy seeing the silk on linen.  I collect to use not to hoard.  

My next needlepoint starts, two small Nutcracker Christmas ornaments, will involve the same strategy.  I have loads of partial cards of Rainbow Gallery fibers of all kinds: perfect for adding interest and texture and shine to needlepoint canvas.  I've never understood the mentality of saving stuff just in case you'll need it later.  That works for money but not much else.  It's rather like never enjoying the good china at meals and always dining off Melmac.  I am probably dating myself by even mentioning Melmac, a hard plastic dinnerware that was a popular wedding shower gift back in the late 60s/early 70s.  Ugly designs and stubborn indestructibility were its main features.

But I digress.  I should stick to talking about stitching.  I need to buy a set or two of stretcher bars before I can start the ornaments.  Which is just as well considering all the WIPs in the basket already.  Even so, I have rediscovered a fondness for needlepoint and am anxious to start these little beauties in time for this Christmas.  I am afraid I am like a kid in a candy store now that I am retired ... I want to do it all ... and all at once.

I have also been trying to gather all my stash in one place, a sort of pre-inventory browsing and organizing effort, if you will,  In doing so, I have found four tubes of white linen I had forgotten I had,  A godsend really since I thought I was all out of white and needed to restock.  I also gathered up an appalling number of stitched but unfinished pieces that need to be transformed into useful or decorative items.  I'll be taking care of the Fall pieces first, and then the Christmas and then the miscellaneous.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Small Finish

The last of the Prairie Schooler Primitive Americana charts, Lady Liberty, is done.   I'll finish it as a flat stand up using one of the handy little acrylic braces that I bought from the Silver Needle [Tulsa]

I plan to spend most of the rest of my day alternating housekeeping and finishing Halloween pieces .  I hope to have loads of photos for tomorrow's post.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pulling It Together For Autumn

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  It is evident in the quantity of decorative stitching items with a Fall theme.  The number rivals my Christmas collection.  Every year, I place an ornament tree in my entry hall, set out a half dozen or so framed pieces, scatter some smalls about the place.    Here are a few photos of  my Halloween and Fall season displays.   I 'll show photos of this year's decorations next week.  I need to do some heavy cleaning before I start the holiday season.

But this year I hope to do a little more.  I have gathered together 21 of my stitched but as yet unfinished or unframed or "some assembly required" Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving pieces and plan to work myself up into a finishing frenzy.  I'll need to hit the local Michael's and A. C. Moore for some frames, craft paints, matte board and pillow forms ... as well as the local quilt shop for a light bulb for my sewing machine and some spools of thread and a few properly autumnal finishing fabrics... before I can get started     Tomorrow is a day for running errands, so I'll just add these tasks to my to-do list.  That way I'll be ready to start on all these projects over the weekend.

It's amazing just how many unfinished projects  have been languishing in the great laundry basket of finishing.  In no particular order, here are a few photos of projects that I hope to see through to a final finish this month.

Halloween Revelry by Primitive Needle From JCS Sept 2009.  I fell in love with this quirky piece as soon as I saw it.  I hope to make it into a large throw pillow.

This piece is called Hat in a Cat from The Cricket Collection.  A riff on Dr,Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.  I [lan to finish it as recommended, as a doorstop, by filling it with shredded walnut shells.

This piece, called Nevermore, references the Edgar Allen Poe poem, The Raven and comes from the same CEC leaflet mentioned above,  Every time I look at it I can hear Vincent Price intoning, "Quoth the raven, nevermore,"

This little witch is another piece that I stitched so long ago that I have no clue as to designer or design name.  I'll finish it as a small pin pillow.

Here's another unidentified older jack-o-lantern chart, probably a freebie.  It was stitched with over dyed cotton in vertical  curved rows and so dates from 2005 when I took a class at CATS on using over dyed floss most effectively.  Over dyed floss was still relatively new back then and sich a now obvious choice was a fresh idea.  O'll make it into a Trick or Treat bag for oe of my grandchildren.

This is called Owl Row by Homespun Elegance.  One of my favorite designers, HE has a very distinctive look;  I'll finish this as an ornament.

This is another piece that I have no clue as to provenance.  When I have a moment, I'll dig out my old hand written stitching journals and try and trace it.  I think this would make an adorable trick or treat bag.

This Haunted House was probably a freebie,  It should make a nice little pin pillow,

This is a Shepherd's Bush Be Attitudes entry: Be a Witch.  This fun little piece is destined to be a Trick or Treat Bag for my granddaughter who is the princess  of pink every other day of the year.

Another Primitive Needle piece, Here Lies My Needle, will make a nice pillow for my stitching chair.

There are four designs on this one piece of linen, all destined to be pin pillows.  Tansy, Yarrow and Rue are from Pineberry Lane and the A is for Acorn piece was probably a freebie.

Pineberry Lane's Autumn on Marigold Lane should make another lovely throw pillow.

Changing the color way to Fall colors and replacing the flower motif with thrifty and saavy squirrels transformed this Earth Day sampler into a Fall sampler.  The original chart was offered as a freebie on Heartstrings blog.

This Pineberry Lane Tansy, Yarrow and Rue sampler has a harvest feel to me given the colors and the lady's rake.  I imagine she is putting the herb garden to bed for the coming winter.  I don't yet know how I want to finish this ... maybe I'll try my hand at framing if I can fid one the right size and style.

Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House is a  delight to the eye, wonderfully quirky with loads of visual puns and jokes.  Every time I post a photo, I get an e-mail asking me to sell the chart.  But since I was lucky enough to take a class with Ann Pettit, my copy is autographed and a permanent part of my collection of treasured charts.   And who knows I may use individual rooms to stitch some Halloween exchange pieces in the future.

Witches Stitch, Too is a Halloween companion piece to another  Homespun Elegance chart, The Stitcher.  I have toyed with making the two [oeces into a flippable pillow.

I used Prairie Schooler's Harvest Time leaflet as the basis of a round robin I participated  in back in 2010.  I stitched the top panel and used the acorn border from 2001 Cross Stitch Designs from Better Hoes and Gardens.  The other participants used either autumn leaves from the above mentioned chart or scenes from Prairie Schooler's Country Seasons chart.

My first Secret Needle Night, which I adapted a bit to my own tastes.  I need to finish the quilting using an acorn motif from Tom Pudding before turning it into a large shopping tote.

This is the very first piece I ever stitched with over dyed floss.  I used Needleworks on this design from an old Celebrations magazine chart.  It's so olf, it is stitched on a piece of Aida and I have been stitching on linen for three decades.

There are still a few more Halloween pieces left in the basket but those are pieces I wish to have professionally framed in 2016.  I tend to pace myself when framing since I always seem to go for  the more expensive options ... the 2015 framing projects are The English Band Sampler and TW's Autumn Faerie.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Assessing September Goals, Setting October Goals

SEPTEMBER GOALS  It's been a productive month.

Complete at least five sewing finishes.
Continue work on Jacobean Elegance afghan.
Stitch Prairie Schooler Year Round for September.  DONE.
Finish woek on Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel and start on the Quaker Bear.
Finish flea market pillow using Prairie Schooler's Primitive Americana leaflet designs  DONE.
Find and order Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Santa stocking.
Start Goblin Market.  DONE.
Off goal stitching: started Mill Hill beaded Daffodil Easter Egg and PS Lady Liberty and PS Queen Bee.

Complete at least five sewing finishes.
Continue work on Jacobean Elegance afghan.
Stitch Prairie Schooler Year Round for October.  
Finish woek on Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel and start on the Quaker Bear.
Find and order Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Santa stocking.
Continue work on Goblin Market.  
Continue work on Making Waves.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Avid If Somewhat Undisciplined Stitcher

I have been dipping into the basket of "charts I really want to stitch" rather indiscriminately.  Two days ago, it was the Mill Hill Easter Egg kit.  I love working with beads although I still have a hard time threading beading needles,  I actually broke one of the needle threaders specifically made for the purpose and have reverted to just threading the darn things by hand.  This is a frustrating process that usually takes several dozen attempts before I succeed.

Yesterday, it was back to the Prairie Schooler Primitive Americana to start the last chart in that leaflet, Lady Liberty.  

Today, I pulled out another Prairie Schooler project, a complimentary chart with a Queen Bee motif.  Since this is stitched on black linen, I wanted to stitch it while the weather was still pleasant enough for outdoor stitching.  I find natural light is best when stitching on black.

Needless to say, all this switching about doesn't leave me with much progress to photograph.  And the upshot of all this: the WIP basket is getting quite crowded.  In addition to the above mentioned projects there are the following fifteen projects in semi=active rotation:
  • M Designs Sean Name tree - with the Es and Ns still to be stitched.
  • CECs The Swimming Instructor - with the face still to be stitched and the beaded necklace still to be attached.
  • The Jacobean Elegance afghan - with 15 more squares to be stitched.
  • Making Waves needlepoint project - with more than 3/4s of the bargello rows and more than 2/3s of the eyelet area to be stitched.
  • Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel - about half way done
  • My own design, Fertile Circles needle book, the back panel needs finishing.
  • My own design, Beach Find Pansies, to be completed and incorporated into an embellished crazy quilt square
  • To Thine Own Self Be True freebie - need to frog an error in the border and restitch it.
  • The Victoria Sampler Mystic Smalls class project - I need to stitch the needle book and the biscornu.
  • The Prairie Schooler Year Round - need to stitch the October entry
  • Another needlepoint project, Rice Pudding, using many variations of the rice stitch.
  • Yet another needlepoint project, an Owl, again a project using lots of specialty stitches.
  • Piper's Christmas stocking  adapted from a Dimensions kit.
  • HAED's The Tangle Fairy, barely started
  • The Goblin Market 0 started last week.

There are other class projects on the unfinished list [see my Class Project sidebar] but I don't count them as WIPs since I haven't touched them since the classes ended,  I will get to them eventually but they are not immediately before me.  The scary thing is that there are at least another twenty charts on the "charts I really want to stitch" and so, there is the potential for a much longer WIP list.  A part of me [the list-making, orderly and organized A type personality] would like to see a more disciplined approach, ticking one finished project after another off the list before making any more new starts.  But there is another part of me [the aging hippie free spirit] prompting me to just enjoy whatever catches my fancy at the moment.

And I don't even want to start listing what is in the sewing and assembly finish laundry basket.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Goblin Market and Other Projects

I went with my first instinct and used the 28 ct ivory linen.  I am using the recommended DMC floss.  So far, I have stitched the bottom border. the tile like band just above it and a bit of the left side of the booth.  I am loving the colors as I work my way from left to right across the bottom third of the design.  Since I stitch with over dyed silks and cottons so very often, I sometimes forget the pure joy of crisp solid color.

Next, I finally set up my recent needlepoint class piece [from July] on the stitching stand so I could get back to work on it.  I'd like to finish at least one class project in the same year I started it.  A quick  glance at my sidebar on class pieces would prove that this would be a major accomplishment for me

Before September whizzes past, I wanted to get the PS Year Round for the month stitched.  Like the others in the series, I stitched this on 40 ct natural linen in Belle Soie silks instead of the charted DMC.  In this case: Poison Apple, Scarecrow, and Collards

I was in the mood to do some beading.  Creating a few more Easter/Spring ornaments for my entry hall tree is one of my annual goals.  So I pulled out this Mill Hill kit, a daffodil Easter egg, and got started on it.  The instructions said to use two strands of floss but the floss was too bulky and showed between the beads, so I am using just one strand.  I hope this won't cause problems in future.  I'll be lining the back with felt, so I trust the stitches will be adequately protected.  Ornaments don't see much hard use so it ought to be fine.

And I cut some more denim strips from old jeans.  I figure when I have four balls as large as the first two, I should be able to start work on a braided rag rug.  I also had some old slipcovers in colors that will work with the denim that I can use in the ratio of two denim strips to one slipcover strip to add a little interest and variation.

Another scrap project I'd like to work on soon is a woolen penny rug.  I've got an old coat and some remnants left over from a cape I made, the first a solid dark green and the second a tweedy medium green in the same bluish green color way.  I won't actually make a full sized rug but I am fairly sure I have enough for a table runner.  Anyway, I cut up the coat [which has given me good service for a little over 30 years - LL Bean sure makes products that last] and ran it through the washer on gentle cycle using Woolite.  It has a slightly felted appearance now which is perfect for my purposes.

And, finally, I selected a winner of the giveaway ten days ago, Bette, and e-mailed her.  But she never responded so I selected a new winner, Carolyn [Stitchinowl].  I will e-mail her tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Time For Another Giveaway

I've been going through my stash, weeding out charts I have already stitched and will not stitch again and charts I have been given that I will never stitch.  I am married to a hoarder and I tend to go to the other extreme myself just to create some balance in my household.

To celebrate the relatively cool temperatures of low 70s to high 60s of the past few days, this month's theme is Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  One lucky winner will get the following seven charts.

Prairie Schooler's Harvest Time: three charts, the first a harvest scene, the second and third Halloween and Thanksgiving pieces.  Heart Strings' The Bittersweet Season: a band sampler of a black cat atop a very tall pumpkin.

The Trilogy's Autumn Spots and Heart in Hand's Halloween Tall Bird: both small quick and easy little projects.

Hillside Samplings' A Is For Acorn, a pretty sampler with a charming acorn border.    Lavender Wings' Pumpkin Patch.

The Cricket Collection's Thanksgiving Circle, meant to be stitched as a wreath but I stitched the individual elements as ornaments.  I happened to save my working copies and have included them as well.

The usual procedure should be followed,  Leave a note in the comments explaining why you would enjoy stitching these charts.  If clicking on your user name will not bring me to a profile that includes your e-mail address, please include it in your comment.  You cannot win if I cannot contact you.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Some Days ...

 ... start off badly and then just go downhill from there.  Enough said!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Call Me Crazy

In spite of the heat, I fired up the oven and did some baking.  The wall AC  in the living room isn't powerful enough to cool the entire first floor which includes the kitchen.  So, a few degrees more heat doesn't make much difference.

I had quite a few dark plums on hand, too many to eat out of hand for a two person household.  We belong to a Fruit-of-the Month club and the quantity of the fruit varies from month to month, depending, I suppose, on size and cost.  So I decided to make a plum cake.  I researched and copied out a few recipes but settled on this Martha Stewart version, though the NY Times recipe was a second runner up.  I'll have to try it out as well and have a side by side taste comparison.  God knows I have enough plums.

This version came out a little less moist than I would have liked.  I baked it for the recommended 35 minutes at 375 degrees.  Next time I'll reduce the baking time to 30 minutes. I also dispensed with the powdered sugar/  Otherwise, it makes a nice accompaniment for a cup of tea or coffee, not overly sweet.