Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A New Computer

My son has put together a new tower and has set things up "the best" way which means I have a bit of a learning curve to deal with before mastering navigating the new set-up.  Both my husband and I are "administrators" with our own separate files which are on a segmented or sectioned or segregated D drive.  I can't remember the terminology Dan used.  Why is it that, when the tech savvy generation makes things easier, the pre PC generation ends up spending months figuring out how to do things the easy, user friendly way?.  Why can't we just navigate the systems the way we always did?  Once upon a time everything was on the C drive but apparently that is only for operating systems now.  

So give me a few more days, weeks, possibly months to get back in the groove.  I have to figure out how to set up a My Pictures file in my area of the D drive so I can store photos and load them to my blog.

Dan explained it all to me last night when I cam home from a 13 hour work day too tired to do anything more than nod wisely as my son showed my husband and I how to "do this, then do this and do this" as though we were playing a demented turbo driven game of Simon Says.  He kept clicking the mouse as he demonstrated all the right moves.  I didn't have the energy to point out that as my husband was sitting next to Dan and I was sitting next to my husband, I was simply too far from the screen to even see the cursor, given the cataracts and near-sightedness that plague me.  I'll spend some time this weekend trying to figure everything out.  No doubt the air in my little corner of the world will change color as I curse a frustration driven blue streak.

Meanwhile, I am posting this from my office computer which, thankfully, is still navigable.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Computer Update

The home computer is indeed dead as a door nail.  We have ordered a complete new set of components for our tower and should have them in four to seven business days.  My son took the main drive home to see if he could retrieve any data but is not optimistic.  Happily, I do have most of my stitching photos on my blog and can recreate my files by working backwards from blog to photo albums in My Pictures.  I can ask my oldest son to resend all the grandchildren's photos to me but alas, other family photos and vacation photos are probably gone forever.  That'll teach me to back things up on flash drives.  Most of my husband's articles and research for the local historical society were also backed up, so we are good there.  We shall consider this a lesson learned and move on.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Posting from the Office Computer

 ... to let you know that our hard drive died on the home computer.  My husband was using the machine at the time so I'll be blaming him if we lost all our photographs of grandchildren, vacations, and [gasp] my stitching album.  We'll be evaluating the damage with our personal IT guy, my youngest son, over the weekend.  If he can get things up and running again, we'll take him to his favorite sushi restaurant.  If he can't, we'll still take him to the restaurant for trying because that's the kind of no-fault parenting that works best with adult children.  Really, the restaurant deal is just an opportunity to spend some quality time with this really amazing 30-something person that somehow came from our union.

If we need to buy a new computer, we will pay a professional to try and retrieve all the data on the toasted hard drive and transfer it to the new tower.  We will also use the opportunity to upgrade all our software and we will purchase some flash drives or portable hard drives to store information so this never happens again.

In the meantime, I am on hiatus.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Afghan Progress

Earlier this week, I devoted three stitching days to Lori Birmingham's Jacobean Elegance afghan: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  I confess I continued to stitch on the afghan again today  in an effort to finish the block I was working on.  The result is that I now have five blocks out of 20 stitched.  Clearly, I am going to have to pick up the pace to meet the Mother's Day deadline.  I'd have to finish two blocks a week and I just don't see that happening.  But I will do my best.  I'll be doing all my "at home" stitching on this piece, relegating the other two rotation pieces to travel projects for the time being.  I'll also make the afghan my weekend stitcher's choice project for the next little while.  Maybe that will help me build a little momentum.  I'll post a photo after the weekend.  With a little bit of luck, it will show two rows of four blocks completed.completed!

I will say this though, now that the temperatures have dropped below freezing again, the afghan is a very cozy stitch.  With most of this afghan draped over my lap and legs, I stay warm even with the home thermostat set to the cooler temps my husband enjoys.  Furthermore, I love the blues, greens and golds of this piece.  Then, too, the flower and bud motifs are just complex enough to keep me from getting bored by repetition.  But I have only stitched three flowers and two buds so far.  And considering that I will be stitching 10 buds and 10 flowers before I am done, avoiding boredom is something of a priority.  The original chart called for ten stitched blocks and ten blank blocks but that looked unfinished to me.  I am beginning to regret my decision to stitch every block but it is too late to turn back now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gallery Post - All things Irish

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than with a Gallery Post of Irish and Celtic designs.

This is an older Secret Needle Night [from The Silver Needle] from the Mona Best era.  It was fun to work this plaid in a wide variety of perles and specialty fibers.  It is finished as a banner and I use it to decorate my office door at this time of year.

Heart in Hands March Tall Bird, finished as a small pillow.

A small pin pillow ... probably a magazine or free chart ... I am afraid I can't remember the details.

One of my favorite bookmarks.

A tote featuring a Celtic Heart, given as a gift years ago to a Welsh visitor to a Stitcher's Hideaway.

Prairie Schooler Year Round: March

And I have yet to get a photo of an Irish Blessing Pillow from a chart in an old Celebrations magazine, given as a gift to my Mom.  Next time I visit, I'll bring my camera and get a photo.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rotation Report

In an effort to meet my gift deadline, I have doubled up on the Jacobean Elegance afghan and eliminated the class pieces from my rotation for the time being.  I am still including the smalls and the Quaker themed pieces in the rotation for variety.

Monday and Tuesday: BAP
Jacobean Elegance Afghan.   Four and a half blocks of 20 completed.  But I'll be stitching on this both Monday and Tuesday, so I hope to increase that count by another block before Wednesday.

Wednesday: Smalls
Sean's Name Tree ornament from M Designs.  I have finished the first "E" and started on the second.

Sandi's Sweet Shop in The Town Square series.

Thursday: Theme
Workbasket's Quaker Bat.   As with the Quaker Owl, I have two complete skeins and one partial skein in different dye lots of  the fiber I'll be using.  This time the color is Old Crow, a deep blue black.  I'm working on the wings first using the darkest of the dye lots.
Workbasket's  Quaker Squirrel.  

Friday: Sewing Finishes.  
Town Square ornament series: 

The Pet Store, 

The Quilt Shop  

The Silversmith

and a By the Bay Acorns: these are supposed to be acorns but I am thinking they look more like stylized flower buds than acorns.  I found this free By th Bay chart in a e-newsletter.  Aside from the fact that it does not appear to be what it purports to be, I think it's rather pretty.  I'll use it on the spring and summer tree.

Saturday & Sunday: get out of the stitching chair and do a wide variety of things: walk, exercise, antique, reorganize, put the garden to bed for the winter, feed and observe the backyard birds, read, visit friends and relatives, try a new restaurant, experiment with the recipes I have been downloading, host a high tea ... whatever.
Weekend Stitching: Stitcher's Choice: The Jacobean Afghan, see photo above,
Monthly Stitching: March entry from the Prairie Schooler Year Round leaflet [done], a name tree ornament and one more Town Square ornament.  These will be my smalls for all the Tuesdays this month.  In the unlikely event I finish all three before month's end, I'll pull my Fertile Circles Needle Book from the UFO basket.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quaker Giveaway Winners

I promised to choose the winners by the tenth and I didn't quite manage that.  Yesterday was a very busy day.  My apologies for the delay.  So without further ado, I'll announce the giveaway winners:

Quaker Sampler: Angela CG
Quaker Cat and Mouse: Kate
Quaker Cow and Sheep: Rita
Quaker Pig and Rooster :Mother of Mayhem
Quaker Rabbit and Turtle: BrendaB from 123
Quaker Frog, Swan and House: H

I have e-mail addresses for Angela and for Kate but not for any other winners.  I will post an announcement on the 123mb but otherwise I'll just have to hope they see this post and contact me.  I guess I am mistaken in assuming that people will include contact info in their profiles, after all, how do they expect to be contacted in cases like this?  I'll be e-mailing the winners for whom I have addresses today to get street addresses.  With luck their charts will all be in the mail by Friday.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rotation Report

We are in the middle of a melt and freeze cycle with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s and night time temperatures in the low 20s.  It makes for slightly dicey morning commutes but I am still delighted to have Spring-like warmth during the day especially since it has been sunny as well.

I am dong a little better with sticking to the rotation.  But if I am going to meet my deadline of finishing the afghan in time to give it as a Mother's Day Gift, I am going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul.  I am going to have to devote most of my at-home stitching to the afghan as it takes about 7-9 hours of uninterrupted stitching to do each block.  There are 5 rows of 4 blocks, totaling 20 blocks.  When I plucked this project from the UFO pile, only three blocks had been stitched.  So with a mere 17 blocks to stitch in just a little over two month, I'll be deferring the class piece part of my rotation till late May

Monday: BAP
Jacobean Elegance Afghan.   I am close to finishing one more block, a bud.  I'll post a photo once the block is done.
Tuesday: Smalls
Prairie Schooler Year Round: March.  I have finished this piece, a shamrock.  Though to be more accurate, if you note the flowers, a clover.  I used Belle Soie silks instead of the charted DMC, as I did with the January and February entries in the series.  This time I used Enchanted Forest, Oatmeal Scone and Pecan Pie.

Sean's Name Tree ornament from M Designs.  Both "S"s are done and the first "E" is started.  This such an enjoyable stitch that I have to wonder why I have let it languish for a decade, buried at the very bottom of the WIP/UFO basket.

Sandi's Sweet Shop in The Town Square series.  I've pulled all the threads for this but have to go stash diving for some 36 ct. light blue linen.

Wednesday: Theme
  Workbasket's Quaker Bat.  Workbasket's  Quaker Squirrel.   Kitted up the Bat.
Thursday: Class Pieces 
Finish Mystic Smalls Tuffet and resume work on Victoria Sampler's Sturbridge Box.  Deferred to late May.

Friday: Sewing Finishes.  Did some Assembly line finishing of flat ornaments, including 1 small Prairie Schooler Santa ornament and the following 6 Town Square series ornaments: 

The Gourmet Shop

The Fishmonger's Shop

Flocking to Knit

The Pet Store: This one is almost done.  I just have to stitch on the cording and make a beaded hanger.

The Silversmith's Shop and The Quilt Shop are at the halfway point: the back pieces are done, enough cording is made for at least one of them.  Just need to do the fronts, whipstitch back and fronts together, apply cording and hangers.

Saturday & Sunday: get out of the stitching chair and do a wide variety of things: walk, exercise, antique, reorganize, put the garden to bed for the winter, feed and observe the backyard birds, read, visit friends and relatives, try a new restaurant, experiment with the recipes I have been downloading, host a high tea ... whatever.  Though the weather finally warmed up somewhat on Sunday, most of my weekend was spent at home.   And most of my stitching time was spent on finishing.  I am hoping to get to the sewing and assembly finishes of at least 20 projects this month.  I didn't get any finishing done in January and February so Ihave a lot of catching up to do.
Monthly Stitching: March entry from the Prairie Schooler Year Round leaflet [done], a name tree ornament and one more Town Square ornament.  These will be my smalls for all the Tuesdays this month.  In the unlikely event I finish all three before month's end, I'll pull my Fertile Circles Needle Book from the UFO basket.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Stitching Retreats

I normally attend a Stitcher's Hideaway in October.  Sue Donnelly's retreats are the best I have ever attended.  This year, the October retreat features Thea Dueck as a teacher.  I was excited about this until I saw the project, a three dimensional gingerbread house.  Normally, Thea teaches a sampler or etui of some sort.  They are always elegant projects with lots of specialty stitching and hardangar stitching.  Wonderful stuff taught by an excellent, not to mention, favorite instructor.  So I was disappointed when I saw this "cute" project featured for 2015.  Not my style at all.  By the time one pays for the hotel room, the retreat and the travel expenses, the total tends to be between $800-900 ... way too much to pay when I'll never complete the project ... however much I regret missing Thea's visit to the states.

I have been casting about for an alternative.  After all, I do like to go on a stitching retreat once a year.  There are the much more economical retreats without teachers or special class projects offered at various times and places and there is an interesting needlepoint retreat in the summer.  I have never been to the events at the old Dupont estate in Delaware or to any of the New Hampshire retreats.  All of these are within reasonable driving distance.  I'll be doing some research.  With my upcoming retirement I shall have much more freedom in making choices, not being locked into school vacation time only.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Fourth Annual Stitching Limerick Contest

Back in March 2011 and 2012, I sponsored a stitching limerick contest.  I had intended to make it an annual event but somehow dropped the ball in 2013.  But i picked it up again in 2014.   And here it is, March 2015, and time for another round.   For educators, March is the longest month of the year, no holidays or long weekend breaks, the kids are bored to tears with school and longing for the summer, discipline problems arise, exams loom ... well, you get the idea.  So, in March, I tend to find or make up reasons to play.  So, let's all have a some fun and exercise our little grey cells as Hercule Poirot would say.  Writing a proper limerick is a disciplined exercise so to make it worthy of your effort, I am offering a $20 gift certificate to 123stitch as the prize for the winning entry.

Remember, limericks are defined by Google as a humorous verse form of 5 anapestic lines with a rhyme scheme aabba i.e., they have a definite pattern:
10 syllables/beats to the first line,
7 syllables/beats to the second line,
6 syllables/beats to third and fourth lines,
9 syllables/beats to the fifth line.
The rhyme pattern: lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme; lines 3 and 4 rhyme.

Any entry not meeting these very exacting standards will be disqualified.
Here's my 2011 limerick:
There once was a stitcher named Riona,
Who used up all of her toner,
Printing freebies galore
Till she had so much more
Than anyone ought to be owner!

And here's my 2012 version:
There once was a stitcher named Riona,
Who, when you tried to phone her,
All your calls she'd ignore
As she stitched more and more.
Her friends thought this flaw a real groaner!

And my 2014 version:
There once was a English Band Sampler,
Stretched on a stand with a clamper.
The stitcher who owned it
Had diligently sewn it
Till she was one happy camper.

And now for my 2015 effort.  I confess I had to resort to an internal rhyme for lines three and four to make it work.
There once was a stitcher who loved dragons
And tea consumed by the flagons.
She combined these two loves
Armed with needles and mugs,
Stitching till all done were the dragons..

All you need do is write your limerick in the comments and I will choose a winner on March 28