Monday, July 18, 2016

Hermitting Weekend Proess

I continued work on Harvest Blooms and am closing in on a finish.  Though I spent most of Sunday binge watching Mr. Selfridge, I did manage to finish most of the gold leaf in the flowers.  I still have the pecan and dark chocolate to stitch.  After that, it's just two stars and some confetti.  I will have to decide whether to rip out the brown shadow on the pumpkin and replace it with the cranberry, as charted.  Probably will. It irks me that I misread the symbols but I am not sure I'll like the cranberry any better.  Maybe pecan or terra cotta.  I'll have to do a floss toss.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's Been Awhile

... since I've had a giveaway. so here goes.

First, I m offering a package of 5 JCS issues: Christmas 2015 and February, April, June and August 2016.  Though I don't have a use for them, I know there's a fan base out there.

Second, a package of Halloween/Autumn charts: 
Hands to Work Designs Harvest Blooms
two from Homespun Elegance Country Spirits series: Birds and Bees, Seasons Retreats
La-D-Da Something Wicked
Fanci That Fall Friend
CEC The Pumpkin Conspiracy

Just leave a post noting which package you prefer, 1 or 2, and an e-mail address.  I'll draw the winners on the 27th.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

JCS/SANQ Revisited

Back on April 19th, I wrote a post about how poorly JCS was keeping its pledge to include SANQ quality charts and articles.  Since that time, I have received the last issue of the arbitrarily substituted JCS subscription and have had my cynicism confirmed.

Even by JCS standards, the August issue is fluff.  The majority of the designs are so simple they represent the stitching equivalent of a beach read.

The issue also lowers the percentage of SANQ like articles  and charts considerably.

SANQ-type charts  Total: 4:
 February - June: 3
August: 1 very disappointing entry, pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel/

SANQ-type articles Total: 1
February - June: 1
August: 0         
Contemporary/conventional charts [landscapes/ florals, samplers] Total: 26
 February- June: 23
August: 3

Trendy or seasonal charts Total:31
 February - June: 13 
August: 18 [includes the 10 ornamemt Christmas preview]

Hardanger Total:  4
 February - June: 3

Redwork or other specialty embroidery charts Total: 3
 February - June: 3 
August 0
Primitive Total: 2
 February - June: 1
August: 1  
Juvenile themed charts Total: 7
February - June: 5 
August: 2

Articles about designers, new products, etc. Total: 7
February - June: 5
August: 2

To recalculate: from my POV, only 5% of the charts and 12% of the articles are of interest.  

So the publishers, in failing to keep their commitment, have done little more than give the lie to the very title of the magazine, JUST Cross Stitch.  It might as well be called Slapdash Pastiche  Vaguely Resembling A Magazine.

But on a more positive note: my subscription having played out, this will be the last of my JCS/SANQ rants.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Two Finishes and a WIP

Here is the long overdue photo of Witches Hollow ...

And one of the recently finished CEC Pumpkin Conspiracy ...

And, finally, one of my current WIP, Hands To Work Design's Harvest Blooms.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I Have Returned

It's been a little over two months since my last post.  I am afraid I allowed some chronic health issues to  send me spiraling into an agoraphobic lethargy of TV binge watching. computer solitaire  and hermit stitching.  But I have taken myself in hand and am determined to resume a more normal routine.  

The title of this post reflects some of the binge watching: my husband watched the entire Victory At Sea documentary while I sat and stitched in the same room.  I was amazed at how jingoistic we were back in the early 50s.  Granted, I was a mere toddler at the time and needn't take personal responsibility for the rabid triumphalism of the cultural climate, but it was still something of a shock to see and hear How very over-the-top things were in my own lifetime.  Anyway, the phrase is a quote  from Douglas MacArthur, who pretty much embodied that culture. 

But I did keep stitching.

First, I finished up the remaining bands of Witches Hollow.    I'll take a proper outdoor photo of the full piece later on today and post it tomorrow.  For now I'll just show the finished bands.

This was a great project, loads of fun to stitch with a great variety of motifs.  So many fascinating little details.

Next, I began work on Hands To Work Designs Harvest Blooms on 40 count raw linen.  I used the recommended WDW and GAST fibers with one exception: I used WDW Mascara instead of GAST Old Black Crow.I did make a mistake on the pumpkin bottom right as brown rather than cranberry.  I'll be leaving the error alone for the present to sre if I can live with it but I suspect I'll be frogging it out in the end.  Rather  annoying really, since I have anchored some of the orange threads under the brown.

And when my eyes became too tired ti work on 40 count, I switched Cross-Eyed Cricket's The Pumpkin Conspiracy on 28 count Lakeside Linen's Buttercream.   I substituted over dyed cottons for the recommended DMC and Silkn Colors, using WDW Bark, Beehive, Cantaloupe, Chartreuse, Chestnut, Chrysanthemum, Cocoa, Cognac, Gold, Kudzu, Lemonade,  Onyx, Schneckly, Sea Foam, Teal Frost, and GAST Bright Leaf, Dried Thyme, Raspberry Parfait, Royal Purple, Tropical Ocean and Zinnia.  I've managed to get quite far along on this piece.  The smaller thread count is so much kinder on the eyes,

And, finally, since I was craving a finish, I stitched u[ this quick little project.  It is the June 2016 JCS Christmas ornament The Strawberry Scissor Fob Ornament  1 [Tree].   I used up a bit of Carrie's Creations Raspberry floss that I had in hand, it was just enough,  A nice bit of serendipity.

It hasn't been all idleness and vacant TV binging but neither has it been a truly productive two months.  But I hope for better in the future.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Very Little Progress

It seems like I've been working on this band forever.  Still, I have a cat, a pumpkin, an owl and a leaf to stitch.  I'll try to finish this band today.

And the next band is even more motif heavy ... and spans four pages of chart, an irritation with this chart that I have mentioned in a previous post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sometimes, Procrastination Bears Fruit

Back when SANQ folded, the publishers sent word that,unless otherwise notified, they would substitute JCS for the remainder of the subscription.    Not having much use for JCS, I fully intended to drop them a line.  Predictably, I never got around to it ... as, no doubt the canny publishers assumed would be the case with most of the subscribers, sparing said publishers the need to issue refunds in an honorable fashion.

The publishers also promised to incorporate some of the content of SANQ into JCS.  Thanks to sheer laziness on my part, I am now in a position to report that the dastardly destroyers of SANQ have kept that promise, at least to a minimal degree.

Here is my totally biased and  rather cranky analysis of the content of JCS since the demise of SANQ.    I have devised nine broad categories for my analysis, each of which has a legitimate following.

SANQ-type charts  Total -3:
     February: 1822 Eliza Morris Sampler
     April: 1927 Harriet Barral Sampler
     June: Adam & Eve Sampler

SANQ-type articles Total -1:
          June: Perforated Paper Popular With Victorians

Contemporary/conventional charts [landscapes/ florals, samplers] Total - 23:
     February: Victorian Winter, Bird Teapot Cozy, Stitch Lover, Daybreak, Corolla Sewing Set, Winterscape, Proverbs 2:10-11, Queen Anne's Lace
     April: Birdsong Sampler, Succulent, Hummingbird, Floral Trivet Set, On Pins and Needles, Spring Chickadees, Monet's Garden
     June: Farm Fresh Basket, Poppy, Summerscape, Traditional Wedding Sampler, Rose Ella's Pincushion and Needlebook, Checkmate Coasters, Paisley and Dots, Bee Happy, Folk Floral

Trendy or seasonal charts Total - 13:
   February: Winter Chalk Art, Love Squared, Snowflakw For Sale, Sparkling Snowflake, Snowflake Hornbook, For Thee,
     April: Cross Easer Egg, Bunny's Basket, Woven Cross, Claddagh Ring, Spring Chalk
     June: Summer Chalk, Strawberry Scissor Fob Ornaments

Hardanger Total-3: 
     February: Hardanger Band Sampler Pt. 1
     April: Hrdanger Band Sampler Part 2
     June: Hardanger Band Sampler Part 3

Redwork or other specialty embroidery charts Total -3:
     February: Alsatian Redwork Heart, Redwork Snowman
     April: Shamina
Primitive Total -1:
     February:  Primitive Sheep Heart

Juvenile themed charts Total -5:
     February: Snow Angel Duo, Feathered Friends
     April: Spring Quartet, It's Winter
     June: Nursery Rhymes

Articles about designers, new products, etc. Total - 5:
     February: Aury TM Designs, Favorite Trends
     April: Miribilia Designs, Favorite Trends
     June: Favorite Trends

Out of a total of 56 articles and charts, only 4 reference antique needlework and one references traditional ethnic needlework of the sort covered by SANQ.  So, to sum up: from my POV, only 6% of the charts and 16% of the articles are of interest.  I will admit that so far two out of three of the Christmas ornaments [the primitive sheep heart and the scissor fob ornaments] have caught my eye.  But for the most part precious little else of the usual JCS content appeals to me.  

Am I convinced the publishers kept their promise?  There is something, though not much, for the antique needlework student.  So I guess the answer has to be a grudging yes.  Am I satisfied with that?  Of course not [note aforementioned crankiness].  I want my SANQ back and regret that I have to wade through so much unappealing dross for a nugget or two of pure gold.  The JCS philosophy of providing a little something for everyone results ultimately in no one being truly satisfied.  Add that to the sneaking suspicion that once the SANQ files of pending articles and charts are depleted, there won't be even the nugget or two for aficionados of the historical and antique ... well, call me a cynic  but I'd bet a few dollars on that outcome.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Small Progress

The taller tree in this photo has been frustrating me for the last few days.  The symbol is a pale grey left parentheses, barely visible on the glossy page.  I've been stitching a branch at a time before moving on to something else in disgust.  I finally started work on the house. When that's done, I'll try counting the remaining branches from the roof line.  The dazzle effect that followed my cataract surgery has left me unable to read faint print unless I hold the paper right under my nose.

But I did manage to stitch the primitive Sheep Heart from a recent JCS using True Palette silks and Rainbow Gallery Tweed instead of the charted flosses.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Random Notes: Puttering About

Friday morning began with a breakfast date with two former colleagues who became close friends.  It was great to get out and about and even better to see some dear friends and catch up on their lives.  We lingered nearly two hours over tea and coffee, eggs and toast.

I came home to putter with the blog and then spent some time reading a chapter or two of the new Nora Roberts book, The Obsession.  It's the sort of book commonly called a good beach read.  Since the weather is finally warming up, I guess that's appropriate.  Still puttering, though now in the kitchen, I made some pasta prima vera for lunch.  

Later, I set the Roku box on the classic radio station and settled in my stitching chair for a few hours bliss.  All the more blissful because my husband had finally finished watching his new box set of all 10 seasons of JAG.  Not a terrible show but, really, damn near two full weeks of morning to night marathon viewing.  Where ever I went in the house, the theme music followed.  I expect I'll be hearing it for days rumbling round in my head.  

The neighbor's pit bull is doing his usual "I don't care if my master's property ends at this fence, MY territory extends three row houses in either direction!"    He barks if I dare to open my back door for fresh air.  He goes into an absolute frenzy if I actually enter my own backyard.  He even barks if I sneeze indoors.  Since this is allergy season and since my sneezes tend to be loud and dramatic, this is rather embarrassing.   There must be a way to train the poor dog to recognize the boundaries but first I'll have to find a way to train the neighbor, a 20-something young man, to see that there is a problem and that his neighbors should be able to enjoy their gardens [or sneeze in their own living rooms]  with a modicum of peace and quiet.  The animal is simply acting on his instincts.   It's the owner who leaves the dog out doors for hours at a time who is the real problem.

I may have mentioned that the neighbors who had Karoke parties into the wee small hours and a son who would get up at  6:00 am to shoot baskets moved ... the neighbors three doors on either side of them happily waved good bye.  But alas, the new resident has a basketball player - ka thimp, ka thump at all hours..

Friday, April 15, 2016

Enabled By Stitch Bitch

Every year I read the Stitch Bitch's March A-Different-Craft-A-Day marathon during National Craft Month.  Every year I conclude that I should expand my horizons beyond various forms of embroidery, needlepoint and conventional sewing.  And every year I move on without doing anything particularly new or different.

Not this year!  Admittedly, I procrastinated through March and finally did something in mid April.  But then April, at least here in the northern suburbs of NYC, has been rather more of a March instant replay than the first month of Spring.  So, maybe I can be excused.

In any case, I made some marking pins and stuck them in the pin cushion lid of a small tin.  Hardly rocket science, I know, just a matter if painting the upper quarter inch of some pins with craft glue and threading some beads on.  I used beads left over from a Mill Hill kit.  The pins on the right are my work.

Again, it was not my most wildly creative effort but still I made something I can use.  [Especially with my current BAP, since it has long horizontal bands over 100 stitches wide.]

Next, I tackled some ribbon crafting.  I have had the instructions  and supplies for making ribbon roses for a very long time but I finally got around to trying my hand at it.  I think I need a bit more practice but it's not terrible for a first attempt.  I have sewn the rose onto a headband and will have to figure out the directions for making the leaves and adding them.  When it's done, I'll send it off to my granddaughter who loves girly fuss and frills.

i have directions for making ribbon ladybugs and ribbon pinwheels to be affixed to barrettes as well.  I just need to get to a Michaels or AC Moore for some very fine black pipe cleaners for the lady bug antennae, though jewelery wire and some tiny black beads might work just as well.