Friday, October 31, 2014

The Halloween Tree

Here's a shot of this year's Halloween tree.  Every year it looks a little more full.  I added two more ornaments in 2014: the Monsterbubbles' Day of the Dead skull and The BOO ornament whose designer I forget at the moment.  All I remember is that it was a free chart.  This brings the number of stitched ornaments up to 19.  This particular tree is one of my husband's favorite seasonal decorations. 

I also have rather full trees for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a moderately full tree for our Jan. 10th wedding anniversary through Valentine's Day [all hearts] season and for the patriotic holidays [Memorial Day - Flag Day- July 4th] and a rather skimpy tree for Spring and Easter.  I still need to work on  a St. Patrick's Day Tree for March, some more Easter ornaments for the Spring tree and some beach and boat ornaments for a mid-July to August tree as well as some ornaments for a Back-to-School tree In September.  Then I'll have the whole year covered.

I enjoy decorating for the various holiday seasons and have a variety of wall hangings and throw pillows to display as well as some easel framed stand-ups and flat fold stand ups.

Here's a shot of my Halloween pillows, nestled in a corner of the distressed paint bench in my entry hall.  One is Glory Bee's Flying Monkeys and the other is Heart in Hands Halloween Tall Bird.  I don't have any stand-ups for this particular holiday yer.  Though I do have the wonderful Hat in a Cat waiting to be finished as a weighted doorstop.

But I do have two wall hangings:

One that I "designed" myself combining a motif from a Prairie Schooler border and a pumpkin/cat motif from Homespun Elegance to embellish an old-fashioned primary school poem about Halloween.  The alphabet I used is of my own devising, loosely based on my handwriting.  On the shelf above the pegs are two of my folk art carvings of ravens.  The taller one is a pretty straightforward bit of carving but the second raven is a rather funky bird, wearing high top sneakers and sunglasses.  I love them both.  This display is in my living room, in the narrow space between the back door and a window.

The second shot is a close-up of the stitched piece itself.  I found the poem in an ancient, and I do mean ancient, circa 1950 school library book and thought it would make a lovely little wall hanging.

The second mini wall hanging is hung in my kitchen, a Primitive Needle piece: a companion to the tall skinny witch on my Halloween tree.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Assessing October Goals/ Setting November Goals

October was a much better month for finishing than for stitching.  The Stitcher's Hideaway Kindred Spirits retreat early in the month was the scene of most of the stitching.   In fact, with the exception of The Gourmet Shop from the Town Square series, what little stitching I did throughout the rest of the month was all related one way or another to the Stitcher's Hideaway.  I stitched the Brightneedle bonus chart of a scissor fob,  Sue Donnelly's complimentary Kindred Spirits pin pillow and the Victoria Sampler Maine heart which was one of the giveaways at the retreat.

Christmas Gifts: Stitch a pair of tea towels, using the charts for Mint and Sage.  I didn't get to this.   My finishing frenzy ate up quite a bit of stitching time.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking.   No progress.   Again, finishing took precedence this month.
UFO/Class Project:  Finish The English Band Sampler and pick up work on The Mystic Smalls projects. Still languishing sadly.  
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Gourmet Shop.  Done.
New Start:  Start work on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.  Most of the new starts were related to the retreat: Brightneedle's Kindred Spirits Stitching Journal was started, the bonus kit of a scissor fob was completed and Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits pin pillow was done.   But I have yet to finish the first page of the stitching journal.  The dragon is deferred to November.  Oddly enough, I stitched The Dragon of the Winter Moon during the summer and will by stitching The Dragon of the Summer Sky in the winter.  I tend to mix things up that way.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.  I finally got around to doing some sewing and assembly finishes completing a grand total of  25 1/2  this month.  I guess I am making up for all the months when I did no finishing at all.
Pin Pillows:  Primitive Needle's By the Light of the Moon, Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons, Sue Donelly's Kindred Spirits.
Scissor Fobs: Brightneedle's bonus class kit
Ornaments:  9 Town Square ornaments, 2 Halloween ornaments, 4 Heart ornaments, 6 Trilogy Spring ornaments
Totes:  Pineberry Lane's Mehitabel's Redwork Sampler needs handles and a lining.  Almost done but not quite there yet.

NOVEMBER GOALS: With the Veteran's Day holiday and the Thanksgiving Day holiday making for a few more days off than usual this month, I expect to have some extra stitching time.  With any luck, I'll be able to extend the finishing frenzy and still catch up with the usual stitching rotation.
Christmas Gifts: Stitch a pair of tea towels, using the charts for Mint and Sage.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking.
UFO/Class Project:  Finally finish The English Band Sampler and then pick up work on The Mystic Smalls projects. 
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop or The Knit Shop.
New Start:  Start The Dragon of the Summer Sky.   This will be my last Dragon Dreams chart from stash, making the 6th chart of Jennifer's [not counting many, many freebies] that I have stitched.  The next series that I will work on will be Workbasket's Quaker Animals.  I have quite a few of those in stash.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.  I want to concentrate on gift totes and wall hangings this month.   If I catch up on the totes and wall hangings, I'll move on to throw pillows.  It all depends on how long my mood for finishing lasts.  I got a real rush last month as I watched the finishes stack up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Random Tuesday

It was rather busy at work yesterday.  I found myself putting in extra hours.  And it promises to be just as busy today and I'll be heading into work a few hours earlier than usual.  So there is not much stitching or finishing to show.  But, here are a few photos.

Further progress on Indy 2006 Town Square Series' The Gourmet Shop by Twisted Thread.  Since I am stitching this series from stash, I made a few slight modifications regarding my thread palette.  The walls of the first story were supposed to be WDW Beige, which I did not have on hand.  I substituted the WDW Cocoa which was supposed to be the roof color and carried the WDW Chestnut up from the second story to the roof.  I tend to think a roof should be darker than the walls of a building anyway.  I also regularized the widths of the windows.  As charted the second window from the right was one stitch narrower than the others.  I prefer symmetry which is also why I will be stitching two chimneys equidistant from the roof's edges rather than the one off-center chimney that was charted.  Right now this doesn't look much like a gourmet shop but the signage and the window displays will soon change that.  Once complete, this shop will be one of the more distinctive buildings in the series.

Here are the materials for the sewing finish for Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits, kitted up and ready to work on tomorrow.  I found this lovely bit of lace with just the right shade of ribbon in the trim stash  my mother gave me when her eyesight started failing.  A trick of the light shows the ribbon as two toned.  But it is actually entirely the darker color.

And, I finally packed up all my Mystic giveaways last night.  My husband will be taking them to the post office today.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some Actual Cross Stitching Again

I am guessing you are all nearly as tired of finish photos as I am of finishing.  I need to do something with a needle in hand that involves something a little more complicated than whip stitching.  Even so, here are a few more shots of finished ornaments and smalls

two more heart ornaments:

Aury's 2013 Quaker Heart


Victoria Sampler Maine Heart

and I trimmed two more pin pillows

Primitive Needle's By the Light of the Moon

and  Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons

But I also squeezed in a bit more stitching on Sue Donnelly's Pin Pillow.  I added the border using the deep red and the tarnished gold from the fabric Sue included in the kit.  I happen to like borders.  They serve as great guides for the presser foot when doing  the sewing finish, producing a nice straight seam.  They also serve as an excuse to add some specialty stitching, in this case: over one cross stitch, herringbone stitch and square Rhodes stitch.

And I prepped some blue fabric for the two Town Square ornaments that I need to do to meet this month's goals.  And, as you can see, when I have filled this piece of linen I will have six more ornament assembly finishes to add to my to-do pile.  This is why I never seem to catch up.

Once I had prepped the fabric, I went on to stitch another Town Square chart to meet my monthly goal.  See below.

The Town Square chart I had intended to stitch this month was The Sweet Shop by The Sweetheart Tree but it is far too detailed a chart to kit up and finish up in the time remaining this month.  So I have switched it with my November goal, The Gourmet Shop by Twisted Threads, which is a much simpler chart.  I will have a much better chance of completing this chart before month's end thereby meeting the goal of one Town Square ornament a month.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Flashing Back

While reading another blogger's post, I came across this link 

I am not sure if this is a case of making gold out of dross or a silk purse from a pig's ear or just a case of making a statement.  But it did bring back a lot of unpleasant memories of walking the gauntlet from the subway station to my 7th avenue office in Manhattan in the late 60s and early 70s.  Of course, the worst catcall was one made not by the usual suspects, i.e.: construction workers.  It was made by one very well dressed 30 something man to his friend while walking up the subway steps and leering at me as I walked down: "How'd you like to wake up to a taste of that every morning?"  They were right in my face, no chain link fence separating us, without even the dubious excuse of hard hat culture to explain the attempt to debase and degrade an unknown woman.  I never wore the dress I wore that day again ... even though my mother had made the dress.  And how bad can a dress made by a woman for her 16 year old daughter be?  That I remember the encounter vividly 48 years later says something.

Now, seeing many of the standard cat calls made up into cheery little samplers,  I realize the artist is making a statement: using the innocence of the sampler to emphasize the invasiveness and crudity of the catcall.  The contrast between the medium and the message is as dramatic as a gut punch and leaves me feeling just as queasy, as I believe it ought.  

I wonder how many men, viewing these same samplers, get the message and feel even a modicum of shame.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Still Not Finished With Finishing

Here's a photo of what I managed to finish yesterday at lunch break and after work.

The last three Trilogy Spring ornaments.  The first is a butterfly approaching a flower made of heart shaped buttons, the second shows some very stylized flowers and the last is a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day.

The Kindred Spirits Bonus chart.  Ann suggested that we finish it either as a pin pillow or a scissor fob.  I decided to do both.  This little pillow filled with ground walnut shells makes an excellent pin pillow and is just weighty enough to serve as a fob as well.  I am not sure I am going to leave it on this pair of scissors, though.  The greens clash.  The handles are actually a bright kelly green.  I have no idea how the indoor light managed to soften such a bright color to one that actually matches the stitching.

I still have two more heart ornaments and two more pin pillows to trim before I catch up to the smalls finishing.  And then there are all those totes, a wall hanging and a few more pin pillows to sew.   And that's just the stuff on the dining room table.  Forget the laundry basket in what I laughingly call my stitching center which is currently over run by the boxes of stuff my husband brought home from the office when he was downsized nearly two years ago.  I sometimes fear I will never catch up: not with the finishing or with the clearing out of junk!.

I will admit, though, that I am itching  to do a little more cross stitching.  If I am to come close to meeting my monthly goals, I really do need to return to my current projects.  And, as a full blown Type A Personality, I certainly want to meet a few more of those goals!

So my plan for today: finish work on Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits Pin Pillow ... because I really need another pin pillow sewing finish to add to the finishing basket, right???  And then pick up The English Band Sampler tomorrow and for the remainder of the month.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Am Looking For Erin ...

... who won Esmeralda's House by Brightneedle in my recent Mystic Giveaway.  I was unable to find an e-mail address on her profile nor was I able to leave a comment on her blog Fairies and French Knots.  I couldn't find a Post a Comment button and clicking on the existing comments didn't bring up an open comment box.

If Erin reads this, I would ask her to e-mail me with her street address.  My e-mail is on my profile.  I would love to send Erin the chart but I do need to know where it is going.

I will be e-mailing the other winners today and hope to have everything in the mail by the weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And a Bit More Finishing

Here's a photo of the ornaments I trimmed yesterday and today before work.

They are: 

Les Grilles d'Elise Lotte's Coeur finished as a wedding anniversary ornament, Peggy Bowe's Columbus Day ornament

The Trilogy's Spring Spots.

I am taking three more Trilogy Spring ornaments to work and hope to finish them during the lunch hour.  Two have the cord pinned in place and one needs to be assembled and trimmed.

   These last three Trilogy  ornaments are the last in that series.  I'll finish them off with beaded hang tags this evening.

     Then I'll just have the last two heart ornaments to finish before  moving on to other types of finishes.

I still have three smalls ready for trimming.  Once I am done with them, I'll be ready to move on to the totes.  I am energized by the crisp Autumn weather.  It makes me want to get things DONE.  Here's hoping this mood lasts till I get to the bottom of the laundry basket that overflows with my sewing and assembly finishing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Not Quite the Weekend I Had Hoped

I never get as much done over the weekend as I hope to do.  I had expected to finish assembling and trimming all my accumulated ornaments and make three pin pillows and get started on the assembly line process of stitching up five gift totes.

Here's what I actually managed to do:

Assemble and trim nine Town Square ornaments.  I have been trying to stitch one a month this year and these are my January through September ornaments.  I have yet to start the October ornament and may not get it this month.

Then I assembled and trimmed two Halloween ornaments.  I haven't gotten out my Halloween decorations yet.  I usually have them up in the first week of October.  But when I finally get around to it, these two ornaments will be added to the tree.

I trimmed one of the heart ornaments.  The other three are in various stages of completion: one assembled with the cord trim pinned in place, one assembled but trim yet to be made and one not yet assembled.

The rest of the ornaments and smalls are in various states of near-completion:
**The Columbus Day ornament is assembled and the cord is pinned in place.
**I have made the cord for six more ornaments: the Trilogy's Spring series.  
**I also made the cord for the Kindred Spirits scissor fob but have yet to stitch it in place.
** I have pulled the chenille for trimming two pin pillows: Primitive Needle's Halloween Night and Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons.

But the Tansy, Yarrow and Rue smalls are still waiting to be assembled into pin pillows, the larger sampler is not yet a wall hanging.  The three Halloween pieces are still sitting on the dining room table, not yet sewn into Trick or Treat bags, The two Easter pieces await the selection of coordinating fabrics so that they may also become gift totes.  As to the Dragon Dreams' Compass Rose Dragon, I am not even sure how I want to finish it.  I am thinking either a bell pull or a flat fold stand up.

On the positive side of the ledger: I have completely finished 12 ornaments, am close to finishing four more and am ready to trim three more smalls.

On the negative side of the ledger: five would-be totes, three pin pillows, a wall hanging and a mystery finish still languish on the ironing board or dining room table. 

That's 12 down and 17 to go.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gallery Post - Town Square Series - 2014 Update

Starting in 2013, I got serious about trying to stitch one of these charts each month as an ornament.  For the most part, I have managed to stick to that schedule.  These are the ornaments that will be adorning my 2014 Small Town USA themed Christmas Tree.

So far I have stitched:

The Antique Samplers Shop by Barb Allen for The Needle's Work Antiques

The Bakery by JBW Designs

The Book Shop by Mosey and Me

The Button Shop by Cecile McPeak for Just Another Button Company

Cafe du Monde by Leslie Wristers

The Church by DebBee's Designs

The Cross Stitch Shop by The Cross Stitchery & MSF

The Fiber Shop by The Heart's Content

The Fire Station by Wild Heart Designs

The Flower Shop by My Mark

The Frame Shop by East Side Mouldings

The Honey Shop by Shepherd's Bush

Milady's Tea Shop by Milady's Needle

The Post Office by Knotted Tree Needle Art

The Primitives Shop by Prairie Moon

The Quilt House by Nancy Pfeiffer

The Saloon by Crescent Colors

The Shoe Shrine by Sam Sarah Design

The Silversmith by Charland Designs: by some weird trick of the light, this fabric is not showing its true blue color.

The Star Theater by Heart in Hand

 The School House by La-D-Da

The Town Clock by Cricket Collection

The Town Hall by Weeks Dye Works

The Toy Shop by Olde Colonial Designs

The Train Depot by Val's Stuff

And this is the backing fabric that I have used for all the ornaments .  IRL it is a bit of a darker navy blue.

A reader, in a recent comment, asked me to explain the Indy Town Square SAL.  The simplest way to do so is to direct you to the SAL blog .  I don't know if the charts are still available.  If they are, obviously I think they are well worth obtaining.  So many people have jumped on the various more expensive versions of a townful of buildings, e.g.: the various Hawk Run Hollow seasonal series and the LHN Cottage series and the Santa's Village series.  I got 42 charts of buildings for the investment of $5.  It seems a better bargain to me than any of the above.    And the variety is amazing since, not only are there 42 different shops and public buildings, each is designed by a different designer.  I am stitching mine as ornaments but people can stitch them as block style samplers like the HRH series, as afghans, or as separate smalls.  It's an extremely versatile set of charts.  I am maintaining unity in my ornament collection by using one of three very similar light to medium blue linens to stitch the ornaments and using the same backing fabric and homemade cording made from coordinating shades of blue DMC floss.   I am not sure I will stitch every chart in the series but I do intend to stitch at least three dozen.  I am not generally much of a shopper so visiting shops in cross stitch serves as my version of retail therapy ... with the added benefit that it is not nearly as expensive as the real deal.