Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another Small Finish and A New Start

I spent most of the long holiday weekend stitching and got a fair amount accomplished.

The second tea towel was finished.  As predicted it worked up more quickly than the first.  For one thing, I had already worked out my changes on the border when stitching the first towel.  So, with the second, it was just a matter of duplicating the border.  And then the chart for Cumin was so much more open than the chart for Rosemary.  So here is a finish photo.

And I started work on Hazel's bib.  As it happened, the alphabet I remembered as being in the Better Homes and Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Designs was not there.  I figured it couldn't be too hard to design my own Building Block Alphabet, so I made a very rough sketch on graph paper and started stitching.  I've only one block more to stitch.  I hope to have the bib ready for mailing, with the crocheted blanket, on Wednesday.  The bib is a pre-fab affair made from a terrycloth fingertip towel printed with kites in bright Crayola colors wjich I echoed in the color of the blocks.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Assessing August Goals; Setting September Goals

Most of this month, I was on summer break.  I gardened, stitched, did some DIY projects, traveled and rested.  Predictably, I got less done on the stitching front than I had planned.  Still, progress is progress, however meager.

Current BAP:  Ease back into stitching Piper's stocking.  Again, not happening.  I will finish the sampler and then concentrate on this.
UFO/Class Project:  Finish work on The English Band Sampler.  I am well on my way to finishing Band 7.
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop.  This didn't happen.
New Start:   Continue work on Dragon Dreams' Dragon of the Winter Moon.  Finished August 10.  If possible, start work on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.  Since I don't have the proper linen for the dragon, for my July new start I  stitched two tea towel that I will be using as gifts.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.   NO.
Off Goal Stitching: And, though it wasn't on the goals list, I crocheted a crib blanket for my newest grand niece.  And  I began stitching a personalized bib.

Christmas Gifts: Stitch another pair of tea towels, using the chart for Cumin.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking.
UFO/Class Project:  Finish work on The English Band Sampler
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop.
New Start:   Start work on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.  Also, finish Hazel's bib.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Moving along with the tea towel ...

I am trying to lose myself in my stitching since everything is going to the proverbial hell in a handbasket at work.  So yesterday, at lunch time, I continued to work on my second tea towel .  And then continued after work, as well.  As I suspected it would, this chart is stitching up a lot more quickly than the first.  It's a much more open design.  I just need to add one more green, stitch the flowers and do the back-stitching.  Probably just another three or four hours of stitching.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday Madness, Part II

Monday evening, I had planned to decompress after work by stitching on my sampler.  Ordinarily this is a good plan and one that usually works quite well.  I was stitching on the bottom bright navy lozenge border.  When I finally got to the end, you guessed it, I realized I was off by one lousy stitch.  And, of course, that stitch was at the very beginning of the border.  I'll need to frog the whole damn thing and re-stitch about one and a half hours worth of stitching.  Needless to say, I put the scroll rods down, muttered a mild imprecation and went upstairs to do a few crossword puzzles before going to bed.  At least, the end of my day was consistent with the beginning.

And now it is Tuesday and things can only get better.  I am avoiding the sampler.  In my current mood, I fear I may do it irreparable damage were I to frog today.  Instead, I started my second tea towel using the Cumin chart and my own tile-like border.  I expect this chart to work up more quickly than the Rosemary chart.  There is a more open feel to the Cumin chart and a lot less confetti stitching.  This will be paired with the Rosemary towel finished last week and will serve as a housewarming gift for my administrative assistant who just bought a new home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Madness

I went back to work today after a month long summer recess.  I should have stayed home.  

PROBLEM #1:  The first thing I saw was the total destruction of my Good Shepherd Catechesis Atrium due to the archdiocese's program to provide universal pre-K and get state funds for doing so.  Even though we no longer have a parish school, a neighboring parish school was planning to use space in our building to participate in this program.  The pastor and I were assured by the archdiocesan rep that the room could have a dual use and I would be able to run my religious education program for 4 & 5 year olds in the space I and my staff had designed.  While I was gone, the archdiocese moved so much furniture into the room that the teacher hired to set up the program had to move all of my furniture out into the hallway.  Needless to say the pastor and I are livid.  We are not blaming the poor teacher or even the principal of the neighboring parish's school.  We are blaming the wretched, duplicitous archdiocesan staffer who said anything in order to get her way and then presented us with a very different fait accompli when the the pastor and I returned from our respective vacations.

PROBLEM #2:  The contractor who was supposed to upgrade our computers, transferring all data to the new machines, while we were on recess didn't quite finish the job.  My secretary returned to a new computer but one that was locked down: no internet, no password, no access even to normal databases.  I returned to no computer at all.  We are under deadline to get the welcome back mailing out by Thursday.  Hard to do with no computer access.

PROBLEM #3: During a month of disuse, our photocopier succumbed to the humidity and simply refused to function until a repairman came out and cleaned and coaxed her back into health.  Now, if we could only access the welcome back documents on our computers, we could photocopy them for mailing.  But, oh yeah, we can't do that because we don't have access to our computers.

My blood pressure and stress levels are surely double pre-vacation levels.  I think God is telling me it is time to retire.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Colors Bright and Bold

As I continue to work through Band 7 of the sampler, I have to admit I am enjoying the eye-popping colors.  Normally. I prefer a subdued palette but the corals and electric blues in this band are so splendidly bold that I can't help but love them.  My personal aesthetic should have me cringing at the juxtaposition of purple and coral.  It is just so Red Hat Society!  But somehow, it all works well together.  I am nearly halfway done with Band 7, having stitched all the floral motifs on the left hand side and some of the spiral border.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

More Progress on a Variety of Projects

Tuesday, most of the morning was eaten up by errands: dropping my car off for some body work, running out to A. C. Moore for more yarn, mailing off some giveaways at the post office and doing the first serious grocery shopping in about a month.  Wednesday was more relaxed, almost a full day was spent in the stitching chair.  Thursday was a day divided between kitchen, laundry room and the stitching chair.

The English Band Sampler:  I have continued working on the largest pansy in coral.  I plan to really concentrate on this piece over the weekend.  The month is nearly over and I had hoped to have this sampler finished. The sad truth is I haven't even reached the halfway mark on Band 7 and I still have to go back to Band 3 to add my initials and the date.  Things are looking grim for an August finish.

The Tea Towel: I am finished with the Rosemary towel.  The next one up is Cumin which will probably stitch up more quickly as there is a lot less confetti stitching in the chart.  The booklet I am using also has some tall slender charts, 77 stitches by 32 stitches, of mint, rosemary and sage.  I believe I will use the mint and the sage for the next pair of towels.  That will give me a pair with a tile like border around a 45 stitch square design and a pair that files the space vertically.  For the final pair, I may use the fruit charts that came with the towels. That way, the folks I give them to will all have something different.

Hazel's Blanket:  This crocheted  blanket is done and measures 48 inches long by 34 inches wide, a good size for either a crib or a baby carriage.  The photos are my attempt to give you an idea of what the whole blanket looks like, border and all.  My bedroom is too dark for me to photograph this blanket spread out on the bed.  The patio furniture seemed to be my best bet, albeit not a perfect solution.  I used Sugar and Cream cotton yarn since a cotton blanket is comfortable in all seasons and stands up better to repeated washings.

Some wools need such careful washing that they are just not suitable for frequently laundered baby items.  I wouldn't want to put all this work into a blanket only to see it felted by being washed or dried in the wrong way by busy young parents.  Now all I have to do is wrap it up and mail it.  But before I mail it, I want to personalize a bib for Hazel to add to the package.  If I remember correctly, my BH&G 2001 Cross Stitch Designs has an alphabet done in building blocks that should fit the Aida insert in a fingertip toweling bib that I have in stash.

Some Sewing Finishes.  While I was at A. C. Moore the other day, my husband went a few doors down to PetSmart and got me a bag of crushed walnut shells [aka lizard litter] so I now have the filling for a bunch of pin pillows.  I am hoping to find some time this weekend to sew them up, fill and trim them..

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.