Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Annual Goals Revaluated

As part of my blogaversary month activities, I am taking stock of my stitching progress so far this year.

These were my goals as of January 2017. 

  • 01. My Own Crazy Challenge: work on unfinished class pieces from 2005-date. Made some minimal efforts on Making Waves and The Martha Washington Sampler, both Stitcher's Hideaway class pieces.
  • 02. Complete two BAPs: Stitch stockings for Piper and Rocco.  Not a stitch.
  • 03. Stitch a half dozen St. Patrick's Day and half a dozen Easter ornaments.  The Irish ornaments are not only stitched but are assembled and finished ready to be hung next March.  The Easter ornaments are stitched and in the finishing pile mountain.
  • 04. Continue to work on UFOs and WIPs list going into 2016.  I have been working fairly steadily on The Jacobean Elegance Afghan and have finished three more flower blocks.
  • 05. Limit stash purchases to fabric, fiber and tools needed to complete charts on hand.  So far this year, I have made no purchases at all, stitching entirely from a conveniently large stash.
  • 06. Continue to blog regularly, aiming for every other day..  And then life happened in the form of a major illness.  Blogging from hospital and nursing home wasn't possible.  Even when finally back home, the energy and inclination were nowhere to be found.  So, this goal is a wash.
  • 07. Make an effort to catch up on sewing finishes and frame 2 or 3 pieces professionally.  The energy and inclination elude me.
  • 08. Renew my lapsed EGA membership, changing my status to cyber-stitcher.  With the demise of Sampler and Antique Needlework, I no longer have an active subscription to an informative and educational stitching magazine.  Renewed membership in the EGA comes with a subscription to the EGA quarterly.  So, I'll take care of this goal as soon as I am finished with this post.  It'll be nice to get some reading material about textile arts again 

Looking forward
* I'll continue to work on goals 1, 3 and 4
* I'll continue to stitch from stash as per goal 5
* I'll make an effort to meet goals 2 and 7.
* I'll simply accept that goal 6 is a total loss.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ninth Blogaversary

The start date was 8/26/08.    To celebrate, I'll be giving away a grab bag of 21 charts that reflect my rather eclectic tastes, including charts from Bent Creek, Calico Crossroads, Homespun Elegance, Mill Hill, Prairie Schooler. Primitive Needle, Rosewood Manor, Victoria Sampler, Whispered by the Wind, and Workbasket.  To be included in the drawing, just answer the quiz below in the comments section and include an e-mail address at which I can reach you.  The drawing will take place on the actual anniversary.

I have been blogging for 9 years now and thoroughly enjoy the process of writing what is essentially a stitching journal, with the rare side trip into real life.  Writing about stitching is very nearly as relaxing as stitching itself.

I have the mind of a statistician and it seems very natural to take stock of what's been happening on this blog.

So, I find it interesting that during the past 9 years:
I have written 1367 posts.  
Blogger has recorded 371,267 Pageviews.
Readers have left 4,920 Comments.
I have 224 followers.

What I'd like to do this year is ask nine questions about blogging, one for each year I have been writing.

1. Do you prefer a blog that is
      a] 90% stitching and 10% personal, roughly what my blog is .
      b] 100% stitching and no personal stuff at all
      c] 50% stitching and 50% personal chat

2.  Whatever the preference selected above, what are your reasons for the preference?

3.  When reading blogs, be honest, do you just look at the photos and skip the prose?

4.  When reading a particular blog, do you enjoy tracking the progress of a specific project?

5.  How many blogs do you read on a regular basis? [Regular basis being defined as once weekly]
     a] 1-25
     b] 26-50
     c] 51-100
     d] over 100

6.  What sort of things do you expect to find on a blog, things that will keep you coming back to read?

7.  What do you like about my blog?  

8. What don't you like about my blog?

9. Do you blog?  If yes, provide a link to your blog.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Flower Block

Working on the Jacobean Elegance Afghan is very easy on the eyes ... and it has the added advantage of keeping my legs warm when my husband cranks up the air conditioner to full blast.  So far, I have stitched 8 flower blocks and 2 bud blocks.  And, after this block is complete, there'll be just one more flower block left.  And, of course. 8 bud blocks.  I wonder how far along I will get before boredom sets in and I need to return to something more challenging.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

UFO/WIPs Progress Report

It's been a while since my  last progress report. These past several month, I worked on #'s 11, 12, 14 and 22  [as marked in blue] from the list.
  1. Lori Birmingham's Pansy Garden Nantucket Style Basket (2005 CATS project)
  2. Catherine Jordan's Pretty Picot Edges (2006 CATS project)
  3.  Karen Bovard's Filet Lace (2006 CATS project)
  4. Peyote stitch bracelet (Willow Tree, Boothbay Harbor , Maine)
  5. 2007 Stitcher's Hideaway at Mystic Victoria Sampler projects: a stitcher's pocket, biscornu, needle book and fob
  6. 2009 Stitcher's Hideaway at Mystic Brightneedle's Ghoulies and Ghosts Etui and accessories.
  7. 2010 Stitcher's Hideaway at Sturbridge.  Victoria Sampler's Sturbridge Box and accessories.
  8. 2012 Stitcher's Hideaway Lady Washington Sampler.  Started working on this 9-28.  I am up to Band 9.
  9. 2013 Stitcher's Hideaway Victoria Sampler's Christmas Sampler
  10.  2014 Stitcher's Hideaway Brightneedle Kindred Spirits Sewing Journal.
  11. The Jacobean Elegance afghan - with 10 more squares to be stitched.  Since this was last seen, I have completed three more of the flower blocks.
  12.   2015 Stitcher's Hideaway.  Making Waves needlepoint project -  made some progress on the bargello rows.
  13. My own design, Fertile Circles needle book, the back panel needs finishing.
  14. My own design, Beach Find Pansies, to be completed and incorporated into an embellished crazy quilt square.  
  15. Another needlepoint project, Rice Pudding, using many variations of the rice stitch.
  16. Yet another needlepoint project, an Owl, again a project using lots of specialty stitches.
  17. Piper's Christmas stocking  adapted from a Dimensions kit.
  18. Alessandre Adelaide's Zucca.
  19. Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square & Strap
  20. HAED's Tangle Fairy
  21. Owl Sampler, needlepoint
  22. Victoria Sampler Tea Cozy  Very nearly done with just the bullion stitch sunflower and the last little bit of vine to go.
  23. T. Wentzler's Logo Dragon
New Starts: On Goal:
Four Easter Egg ornaments, variations of charts found in BHG 2001 Cross Stitch Designs

Off Goal Stitching:V & A Museum Art Nouveau Napkin and Napkin Ring.  Bent Creek's The Branch.

Number of Sewing Finishes:  0

Friday, April 21, 2017


The last post to this blog was nearly three months ago and I am still adjusting to the new regimens of living with kidney disease.  I haven't had much energy or inclination for blogging.  I have even fallen behind in my reading of other blogs.  But I am beginning to see my way forward and am developing some new routines.

I have been stitching, though.

At first, I wanted something light hearted and easy on the eyes.  So, I pulled Bent Creek's The Branch from the To Do binder.  It's a simple straightforward set of charts purchased years ago when I was buying just about anything with an owl in it.  This is one of the snapper series and, for the life of me, I don't understand what possessed the designers to think snaps were decorative.  They're fasteners, for God's sake: functional, to be sure, but not particularly attractive.  So, I left them out of my version and filled the only two really obvious gaps with some Rhodes stitches.  I had most of the recommended GAST and WDW floss but made a few substitutions as needed.   I didn't want to wait on an order to start work.  It's one of the advantages of having an obscenely large fiber stash: I can indulge myself with impulsive starts.  

If anyone reading this  would like to stitch this piece her[him]self, please post below with an e-mail contact.  I'll be happy to send the charts complete with snaps and buttons.

Next, I went in an entirely different direction with Victoria Sampler Tea Cozy.  I have taken several classes with Thea Dueck and love her work.  It is always a joy and a challenge.  Her mastery of specialty stitches as major design elements and her talent for combining various techniques [cross stitch, crewel, hardangar, etc.] in the same design result in pieces that delight this stitcher's heart.  She uses a lot of Kreinik silk mori in her designs which is one fiber I don't have in my stash. So I substituted Belle Soie silks in the appropriate colors [See comment above about advantage of large fiber stash] and went to town.  I have been doing fairly well and am happy with all the satin stitching and the fern and fly and chain and lazy daisy and Smyrna cross and Japanese ribbon stitches.  But, alas, I have hit a real snag with the boullion stitch sunflower.  I have already made three false starts and had to cut away some quite tatty knots.  I have tried using a milliner's needle - too long - and a shorter beading needle - not much better.  I believe my problem is not getting the right tension - I am wrapping the needle too tightly with the result that my knots look like hump backed caterpillars.  I shall have to practice. There are supposed to be 24 of these knots in the sunflower and I am determined not to be defeated,

Monday, April 17, 2017

A little of this, A little of that

In between doctor's appointments, home health nurse visits and home PT visits, I have gotten in a little stitching, a bit more reading and a very little catch-up housework.  My husband led a bachelor existence for a little over a month while I was in hospital and nursing home and the results were pretty much what I expected.  To give you some notion of my husband;s domestic skills: once he found out I'd be laid up for more than two days, he went out and bought a dishwasher.

But on to the stitching:  I have been playing with oddments  from my scrapbag, startimg with a small scrap of 36 count antique ivory linen.

This first Easter Egg ornament is loosely based on two designs from the Better Homes and Gardens 1001 Cross Stitch Designs.  I picked a motif from one pattern [the bunnies] and the size and shape  of the egg from another.  Then I pulled out a bunch of exotic and glitzy fibers left over from old Dragon Dreams, Silver Needle Night and similar projects.  The object was to mimic a bit of Faberge bling.  I have a hard time throwing away usable leftovers and it satisfies some deep-seated aging  hippie need to recycle such odds and ends into new projects.  I thought this was a fairly successful attempt to take what was old and make something new from it.

The next Easter Egg ornament is somewhat more conventional in its conception.  Following roughly the same shape as the first, I allowed the materials at hand to dictate design elements, e.g.: the thickness and placement of the stripes, the size of the flower.  Just an aside, rayon floss is nowhere near the usual pain in the ass to use when you are working with just one strand as I did on this 36ct linen.

The third egg was born after finding some green and lavender rayon floss.  I have always liked the combination of mossy greens and soft lavenders.   I had some vague idea of an egg wrapped up in a bow and found just such a chart in BH&G 1001 Cross Stitch Designs.  With a few adjustments, I had what I wanted.

And this fourth egg is back to Faberge style bling, done in metallic reds and golds.  Just to keep from being bored, I couched a scrap of leftover gold metallic ribbon with some 003HL Kreinik VFB as the center band of this egg.  I am pleased with the effect.  For some crazy reason, I have7 spools of the various red VFB and this was a way of using up a bit of it.  Can't imagine what possessed me to buy so much of the stuff!  It must date from the time I was stitching a lot of Christmas ornaments.

The last egg uses up some fibers in the yellow to gold color way: some Colorwash silk, some amber and bronze VFB, a bit of orange wool, a scrap of bronze metallic ribbon.  To avoid repeating myself, I have decided to go the sampler route and, so far have used cross, long armed cross, satin, box, diamond Rhodes and diamond eyelet  stitches on this egg.    I plan to stitch a band of upright crosses and a band of knotted crosses before I am done.   I liked the couched ribbon effect in the red egg so much that I repeated it here with a scrap of metallic bronze ribbon and the yellow colorwash silk.

One of my 2017 goals is to make a half a dozen Easter ornaments.  With one Mill Hill beaded Easter egg just needing the final finish of a felt backing and four of these just needing flat ornament finishes, I am well on my way to accomplishing that goal.  And once I finish the yellow egg, I do have another Mill Hill beaded egg kit in stash and will probably tackle that while the Easter season is still upon us.   It'll be nice to actually exceed a goal in at least one area after so many health related set backs thus far this year 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Back to Stitching

I find I am somewhat distracted as I return to my stitching, moving from project to project and making little progress on any. Currently, I am working on the Jacobean Elegance afghan, a Rhodes stitch needlepoint sampler, an Easter egg ornament, a napkin and napkin ring reproduction from the Royal Albert museum and a piece of my own design, Beach find pansies.  None of them hold my attention for long.  Like the bee in the napkin design, I flit from stitching stand [the needlepoint] to Q-snaps [the afghan] to hoops [all the others],  I'll post some photos when I can get outdoors with my trusty, if ancient, first generation digital camera.  For now, there is still too much snow in the backyard, being sheltered and overshadowed by 6 foot fences and a retaining wall

I have spent more of my time reading.  Just before I went into hospital, I had started re-reading the Brother Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters.  I had seen the Masterpiece Mystery series starring Derek Jacobi and read as many of the books as had come to hand back in the day.  But this time around, I decided to read all 20, and in order.  To that end, I had my husband order any of the books missing from my collection.   It would be unfair to expect the same enjoyment from my DVD collection as from my newly completed book collection.   I understand that screenplays are a separate art form with their own advantages and disadvantages.  But I so prefer the stories in book form as richer in detail and imaginative texture.  All the minor characters that are deleted or subsumed within the regular denizens of Shrewsbury in the TV series are present in full individuality, and even quirkiness, in the books.  Incidents glossed over, locales eliminated and historical background lost in the screenplays appear in full glory in the books.  A much more satisfying experience!  Not to mention that the elegance and precision of Ellis Peter's prose style is rarely equaled, especially in your standard mystery or historical fiction genres.

If you have fond memories of the TV programs, I recommend reading the chronicles in their entirety.
I find myself wishing that Derek Jacobi. had had the opportunity to film all the Cadfael stories, as David Suchet did Christie's Poirot stories.  For all that I shall always love the books more dearly, the programs were excellent and true to the spirit of the books.  And in one detail they were certainly superior to the books: the oily piety and false humility of that quintessential weasel, Brother Jerome, is brilliantly portrayed on screen.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Adventures in Health Care

I am back after a little over a month [it all started 2-14] in hospital and nursing home and I have even less faith in the medical institutions than ever.  I trust a few carefully selected doctors but other than that ... well, I seem to have been dealing with the half of the population that was deservedly ranked in the bottom half of their class.  It started out as severe edema, stemming from kidney disease, dominoing into congestive heart failure,IBSD and pneumonia.

Some of the highlights: 

After my first ultra-filtration dialysis, I had a series of low glucose readings culminating in a hypoglycemic episode during which my glucose numbers dropped to 39 at 3a.m.  It presented with all the classic symptoms of hypoglycemia: inability to move, to speak, perceiving the environment as through a darkened glass and people as moving shadows.  I thought I was having a stroke and was unable to call for help except by loud grunting and groaning.  The night nurse, who had known me for three days and knew me to be alert and in full command of my faculties as well as knew me to have had a series of low glucose readings,  came up with the brilliant diagnosis of "nightmares' and restrained me in bed with tightly tucked in blankets.  I was left in that state for three hours until the morning vitals check.  The PCA called the same nurse but luckily she was followed shortly by a more competent colleague who mobilized the rapid response team and brought my sugar numbers up with dextrose.

A nursing home nurse who tried to give me someone else's medicine's even after I pointed out that there were far too many pills in the cup and none of which resembled my pills.  He finally decided to check and lo and behold, came back with my medications and a story about how the pharmacy sometimes substituted one manufacturer's version of a drug for another ... as if trying to cover up the obvious differences in quantity and appearance between the first and second cup of pills.

Not one but two, dietitians who seemed to think beets, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, carrots peas  and various kugels, kashas and varnishkas [often in pairs] were appropriate choices for a diabetic.

A nurse who tried to administer medication that had been given to me just a half hour previous ... does no one read charts anymore?

A dialysis clinic that was not equipped with blankets to keep patients warm as the procedure induced severe chills.  It gave me a whole new appreciation of the old acronym B.Y.O.B..

I came home to a house I  was ashamed to own as my own.  My husband views every flat surface as a shelf - this includes floors - and the place was littered with stuff he simply hadn't bothered to put away: opened and unopened mail, unfolded laundry, books, dishes [clean and soiled] and whatever happened to have been used in my absence.

Nature conspired with my husband by dumping 24inches of snow on us and creating temps so low that the rear window of one of our cars shattered into spider web cracks and we now have a leaking roof ... a flat roof and heavy snow are not a good combination.

So, that was my month.  I sincerely hope yours was ever so much better.

Monday, December 5, 2016

And The Finishing Becomes A Frenzy

I took a few days off stitching for my husband's surgery and post-op care.

But the mood is still upon me and I hope to get all the flat ornaments in the finishing basket done before it dissipates.  Who knows, I may even get all the pin cushions done as well!

I have moved on to The Celtic Beasties.

2 Snakes [No Heads] - Positive.  This can do double duty as a Celtic Knot for St. Patrick's Day.

2 Snakes [No Heads] - Negative.  This can do double duty as a Celtic Knot for St. Patrick's Day.

                                                               Polybus. aka Octopus


                                                  Celtic Cross - Halloween Colorway

I've prepped the boards for 5 more ornaments, as well.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Giveaway Winner

Calamity Jr. is this month's winner.  I was pleased that her name came up as she is a frequent commenter on the blog.  I feel we have become cyber-friends.  I hope she enjoys the charts as much as I did.

I'll be e-mailing her later today.