Sunday, December 30, 2007

I have thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas holidays thus far ... met my very first grandchild, a four month old hunk named Liam Noah and the son of my oldest son ... enjoyed the company of family and friends ... did a serious amount of cooking [which I enjoy but am mostly too busy and too tired to do properly] and woke without an alarm clock for over a week. Since I won't go back till Jan. 5, I'll have another week without the tyranny of an alarm clock. On the stitching front, I have continued working on Christina's towel even though my daughter-in-law [and my son and my grandson] returned to Bainbridge Island, Wa some three days ago. I'll give it to her next year. Later on today, I will lay out my plan for the Crabby All Year Round SAL and make up a list of supplies I will need ... to be ordered at Silver Needle's New Year's Eve Sale.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve, the eleventh hour

It's 11pm and I still have to clean the kitchen, do two loads of laundry, organize the materials for cooking tomorrow, and wrap a dozen or so presents. But I have finished Sasha's tea towel and have started on Christina's tea towel, though this last will probably not be done in time for 6pm gift giving tomorrow. After that, I only have six more days to meet my monthly goals and, coincidentally, try for a round number of finishes for 2007: just need two more finishes to make 60 ... that would work out to a finish every six days or so for the year 2007.
I expect 2008 will see far fewer finishes since I'll be concentrating on some larger projects during the year: the Crabby All Year Long SAL & the Halloween charts SAL [I have a total of 32 Halloween charts that I'd like to stitch] from the 1-2-3 stitch board, the TW Autumn Faerie [to be followed by the Christmas and Summer Faeries]. So, I very much doubt I'll be breaking this year's record in 2008. I'll also start limiting myself to more achievable goal statements in this blog ... more on the lines of working on a SAL or two and a major WIP with maybe one Christmas ornament a month and 2 or 3 sewing finishes for already stitched pieces. If I stick to that plan, by the end of 2008 I should have taken care of my backlog of stitched pieces awaiting a sewn finish and completed another 30-40 charts. I am also intent on limiting my purchases of new charts to not more than 10 for the next year since I have an unconscionable number of charts already in my stash ... all of which, I genuinely want to stitch. Another goal for 2008 will be to finish the re-hab of the first floor of my townhouse [just new carpetting for living room and dining room; new flooring for the hallway, half bath and kitchen; painting the kitchen and refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Then perhaps, by the fall, I can move onto the upstairs and convert the small "hall" bedroom to a home office and the second largest bedroom to a TV/Guest/Sewing room. It would be so nice to have an organized crafting/stitching space instead of a crowded, messy corner of the master bedroom. But I have vowed that this will be a "Pay-as-you-go" rehab and the necessary funds will be banked before a single contractor is called ... so this may take a while longer. Some of the prep work I can do: pulling up old carpet, washing walls, clearing out some of the junk that accumulates after 30 years in the same house. The last might be a challenge ... I married a pack rat.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Struggling back onto schedule

The living room is set up except for assembling and plugging in a torchiere. That leaves the hallways, dining room, kitchens and downstairs half-bath to clean and restore to order. I have continued work on the tea towel for Sasha, should finish that today. Also hope to get started on the ornaments that need to be assembled. I gave the CATS 2005 pillow with Stoney Creek's Christmas theme to Susan Odell who seemed pleased with it. If I work unceasingly, I may just manage to get everything done today though, given his very grumpy mood, I expect no help from the spouse. He'll run his errands and then sit in front of the TV for the rest of the day, complaining vociferously if I ask him to help me move the heavier stuff ... after all Danny is coming over after work tomorrow for that ... God forbid he [the spouse] should lift a finger ... better to have our son kill himself after a long day at work. Tomorrow is reserved for shopping and some cooking.

Anyway, that's the plan ... now, to see if I can implement it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Plodding along

I am so far behind my self imposed schedule that I may as well give up. Three days of illness threw the whole deal out of whack. However, I have completed Angela's tea towel and have made a good start on Sasha's and will get a bit more of the housework done this morning before heading out to work. Maybe tonight I can squeeze in a bit of sewing finishes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Schedule Derailed

One of the occupational hazards of working in education is the constant exposure to all sorts of germs combined with immune system lowering stress and long hours ... so it had to happen ... I got sick just 6 days before my son and his little family is due to arrive from the West Coast. No cleaning, no polishing, no moving furniture back into place, or re-hanging paintings/wall knick-knacks now that the painters are sort-of done ... except for all the spots they missed.
Did get a little listless stitching done on Angela's towel ... just have to finish the back-stitching ... but it was supposed to be done yesterday. Oh well, after I get back from the tests my doctor ordered maybe I can try and catch up a bit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adjusting the schedule

I have decided that, instead of stitching one Yule towel for Angela [daughter] and two everyday towels for Christina [daughter-in-law] with herbal motifs, I shall stitch one Yule towel for Ange and one Christmas towel each for Christina and for Sasha [youngest son's significant other]. I started Angela's Yule towel yesterday using the free chart of mistletoe from the chart shop and I have completed about 2/3rds of the cross-stitching and have the backstitching to do. I have also chosen to do the Dragon Dreams Santa ornament chart from JCS 2007 for Christina's towel and the Crossed Wing Collection Cardinal ornament chart also from JCS 2007 for Sasha's towel. It will only require minimal adjustments ... mostly a matter of substituting nice color-fast DMC for any specialty threads called for in the charts. I expect to be done with Angela's towel today and maybe even get a start on Sasha's. The key was to find charts that fit within the 50hx58w parameters of the Charles Craft Green Gingham towels I had in my stash. Also on the schedule for today: assemble the four cross-stitched Christmas ornaments from the sewing basket, finish all the laundry, scrub the hall and living room floors and polish all the furniture before reassembling the rooms now that the painter's are gone, shovel snow as it accumulates [we are expecting 6-8" between 11am and midnight] and make a batch of chocolate pudding and prepare chicken stroganoff for dinner [from a recipe of my mother-in-law's that is typical of the 50's - the sauce is Campbell's Golden Mushroom sauce doctored with sauteed onions and mushrooms and with sour cream to finish]. With so much to do, I'll cut the blogging short and get started.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Schedule

Deadlines are getting closer: all housekeeping and decorating must be done by Dec. 19; all shopping must be done by Dec. 23, all cooking and wrapping must be done by Dec. 24 ... and still have three tea towels and two ornaments to stitch as well as doing the sewing finishes on two gifts and four ornaments already stitched.
Finished the Knotted Tree Needleart Santa ornament [JCS 2007 issue] this morning though I had hoped to finish it last night. I will kit up Angela's tea towel this morning and take it to work to start stitching during the lunch hour. On the way home from work I will pick up everything I need for the housecleaning frenzy. Tomorrow is a day off and we are expecting 3-6 inches of snow. Friday I have a sick day since I have to have some tests done in the morning and I hope to use the afternoon for finishing up the cleaning. And, somewhere in there, I am hoping to have two hours to assemble and finish the four ornaments already stitched. Saturday, I'll be working till 2pm ... after work I would like to get a new Christmas tree ... one of those apartment sized, tall, skinny, folk-arty ones. Since we are expecting snow again Saturday night into Sunday morning, I plan to spend some more time on sewing finishes of stitched gifts, wrapping already purchased gifts and making a list of gifts still to be purchased ... and perhaps decorating. Also have to remember to send Bill out to my brother's for the portacrib and to buy a dark green area rug from Sears for the living room floor ... we'll move the area rug up to the bedroom once we get the new wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room and dining room in January.
I am already exhausted just thinking about it ... I'll have to think about the rest of the schedule later ... after the weekend, when I'll know just how much of the above I have managed to accomplish.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Plodding along toward Christmas

I am still working on getting the house back into shape now that the painters have left ... though they will have to return. In moving the bookcases to clean the floors, I discovered that while they primed one side of one of the six floor to ceiling units, they neglected to paint it the same lovely Hunter Green as the rest. Instead it is a disgusting turquoise-y green primer ... ugh! This morning, before work, I managed to get two loads of laundry done and swept done the upstairs/downstairs hallways and staircase prior to stripping, scrubbing and waxing the same. Also, cleaned the green curtains and got the curtain rods back up on the living room windows ... but I think I'll switch out the green curtains for the barn red ones now in the master bedroom [which I'll have to wash tonight after work] since they will work better with the new accent colors in the living room.
On the needlework front, I have nearly finished stitching the Knotted Tree Needleart Santa ornament, having only the bottom fur on Santas robe, his boots and half the frosted teal single x brder to x-stitch, and the Rhodes stitch accents on the fur, the backstitching and beading left to go. Hope to finish stitching it tomorrow and then I'll have four Christmas ornaments to finish assembly line style. If Bill ever gets to my Photobucket tutorial I should have pictures to post. I believe I will try to finish the Cross-Eyed Kat dragon next and then on to the tea towels for Christina. I found a lovely mistletoe chart to use for Angela's holiday towel. And, of course, there is the Cardinal ornament to stitch for Angela Kelly.
I'll be giving Liz her Imaginating Santa Christmas ornament today and expect she'll like it ... she really needs a lift right now given all the teen angst in her home right now.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Turning over a new leaf - I hope

I intend to blog with greater regularity this month ... and thus I have to report that yesterday I finished the Workbasket Quaker Swan and started the Knotted Tree Needleart JCS 2007 Christmas ornament. Although I had been doing the Designer Series Santa ornaments for my sister Kate for the past several years, I had to pass up this year's entry in the series ... it was just too bizarre with all that "stuff" seemingly growing out of Santa's head. I chose to do the Knotted Tree piece instead, with a few notable adjustments: first, I drastically reduced the size of the boots; second, I regularized the pattern of the beads in the sack to make it look a little more like the Designer series I had done in the past; third, since I don't have the called for JABCo button, I will stitch a Rhodes Star in tarnished gold in its place and fourth, I am thinking of adding some backstitching to delineate the sleeve ... I am not sure about this and will wait till I have done all the other stitching to decide. Also, having reduced the size of the feet, I can finish the border as a square and may end up finishing the entire piece as a biscornu ornament, maybe even with a beaded edge. Next in the rotation will be finishing the red dragon in Cross Eyed Kat's Snow Fight series. I don't think it is worth starting Liam's stocking this year ... one doesn't rush Teresa Wentzler designs ... so I think I'll just do a quick little Baby's First Christmas type deal ... ornament size ... this year. That way I'll be able to concentrate on the last few gifts I need to make ... Mom's needlecase, Angela K's pillows and Christina's tea towels and maybe, time permitting, a tea towel for Angela. Anyway, it is good to have a plan even if I end up modifying it along the way.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

November was gone in a flash



This is a very busy season for me professionally: I counted the number of major events I had to stage between the dates of Nov. 19 and Dec. 18 and the total came to 15. Since I also have to complete my annual report and conclude the biggest fundraiser of the year during the same time frame, I have been left with little time for stitching or blogging. And, of course, it was also during this time frame that the painters finally came ... the same painters who were supposed to have painted my entire downstairs as well as the upstairs hall and all of our bookcases in October. Then, of course, there are the little details of shopping for my grandson, Liam's first Christmas ... and, incidentally, shopping for the usual crew.

In any case, I did manage to complete another band of my Thea Dueck Mystic Stitcher's Pocket from the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway as well as the Prairie Schooler 2007 Limited Edition Santa, Let It Snow and the Workbasket Quaker Frog. And I am more than halfway through stitching Workbasket's Quaker Swan. I have also noted that Workbasket has come out with two more Quaker animals: a cow and a sheep. I will have to get those sometime in the new year.

As this year draws to a close, I am inclined to plan for the next ... and, as usual, set unreasonably optimistic goals.
Goal #1: Limit the purchase of new charts until I have caught up with the 50+ I currently have in my stash. I realize I will succumb to a few "must-haves" like the Workbasket leaflet mentioned above but I will try to limit the total new purchases of charts to 10 for 2008. Fiber and fabric will be purchased on a "as needed" basis ... as needed, i.e., to complete charts already in my stash.
Goal # 2: Participation in two SALs. The first is a 123 stitch SAL for Crabby All Year Round piece from Raise the Roof. I have all the charts but will be checking this week on fabric and fiber needs. The second is a committment to stitch all my Halloween charts along also with a group from 123 stitch that will be doing the same with their own Halloween charts. At last count, I had 16 Halloween charts to stitch.
Goal # 3: Then, of course, there are my own WIPs, UFOs and sewing finishes. The WIPs: the Teresa Wentzler Autumn Faerie [to be followed by the Christmas and Summer Faeries] and the remaining projects from the Stitcher's Hideaway in Mystic: finishing the pocket, stitching the tuffet, scissor case, scissor fob and needlebooks. The UFO's: Midnight Moogies and the Celtic Tarot. Last count the sewing finishes were hovering at about 20 in the sewing basket.
Goal # 4: Learn to use the digital camera doo-hickey to download photos, to mangae a Photobucket account and to post photos to the blog and groups.
Goal #5: Keep up with sewing finishes ... this means no more than 5 completed cross stitch pieces in the sewing basket.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway

It was a fantastic experience ... This was a whole new venue for me ... small [about 30 stitchers] and intimate, with approximately 15 hours devoted to stitching one project, having the time to actually learn and practice a new skill and actually getting to a point where the project is at least half done. In the past I have gone to two CATS events with it's one or two hour classes where one merely sees a stitch or technique demonstrated and, at best, gets to stitch it once or twice on a doodle cloth before moving on to the next class. The end result is that two years later, I have still completed only half the CATS projects from 2005 and 2006. But I am literally itching to finish my hardanger pocket and get started on the other pieces in the kit: a tuffet with lots of hardanger, a scissor case and fob, and two needlebooks. I actually learned how to do hardanger weaves, wraps, dove eyes, Grecian Crosses, Kloster blocks and blanket stitches ... and was able to cut my threads successfully ... a minor miracle, so far as I am concerned. Okay, so I had to go and wash my hands immediately after the cutting ... talk about sweaty palms ... but it worked and it actually looks presentable. Thea Dueck was a fantastic teacher: the epitome of clarity and patience. I would take another class with her should the opportunity present itself. And I will definitely want to go on another Stitcher's Hideaway ... meeting stitchers, enjoying the project, eating some very nicely catered meals ... it was all a very lovely break from the end-of-year madness at work.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Off to Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway

My husband and are packing ... we leave today at noon for Mystic Ct where I will be attending the Stitcher's Hideaway and he will wander the seaport meeting up with me [and the other stitchers and their tag alongs] for meals. I am looking forward to this and have been working diligently on the pre-work for the past two days. I am the sort who always works to deadline - I turned in my bachelor's thesis the day before my wedding. That was 37 years ago and I am still a down to the wire kind of person ... it's not that I procrastinate, it's just that I take on more than is reasonable and then juggle everything till it all works ... or crashes about my head. Most of the time it works.

Anyway, this time, at least, I probably should have started the pre-work earlier. The whole reason I signed up for this class was to learn hardanger. So what do you think the assigned pre-work is? That's right: all the Kloster blocks and blanket stitching on the pocket and, time permitting, the Kloster blocks on the tuffet pin cushion. So it is all very slow going ... very paranoid stitching ... stitch, count, stitch, recount, stitch, count yet again, frog, stitch, count, frog, count, stitch, re-count, pray, curse effusively and creatively, stitch ... well, you get the idea. But the finished project will be worth it ... a whole set of Thea Dueck [Victoria's Sampler] stitching accesories ... the design references the locale with all sorts of 19th century tall ships, ladies, lighthouses, etc.

I am looking forward to this immensely ... partly because I will be meeting some people I "know" only through stitchery message boards, partly because I will enjoy the project/classes/teacher, and partly because my professional life has been a mad whirl since mid September and will not let up till January ... so this provides a much needed break halfway through the career-related insanity.

Shall report on the hideaway upon my return.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A small finish

Well, I have finished the Glory Bee blackwork ornament and though I have no shortage of stash, I take an inordinate degree of pleasure in using up the odd little bits and pieces of fiber and fabric left over from other projects. I was able to stitch this piece using up the two lengths of green cotton floss left over from my Shamrock bookmark and a small scrap of 35ct linen that I had received in trade for some charts. It just warms my frugal little heart. And now, I have picked up the Cross-Eyed Kat Red Snowfight Dragon again and am moving along nicely on this piece: the head, right arm and wing as well as a really good start on the snow. But I really must get to work on the pre-work for the Mystic Retreat ... I leave for Mystic on Thursday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October Goals

I always think I am going to accomplish so much more than I actually do and consequently set impossible goals for myself whether it's school work, administrative paperwork, housework, reading or stitching. The stitching goals for October were no exception.
I did finish my designated "freebie of the month": Star Light, Star Bright from LHN and even managed to stitch it up into a rather attractive throw pillow. And I did finish three of the Workbasket Quaker pieces for my Quaker quilt [that makes 10 down and 4 to go]. This month, I stitched the Cat, the Mouse and the House. That leaves the frog, the swan, the tortoise and the hare ... but they will have to wait until after Christmas ... I have a number of gifts and ornaments left to do. I finally finished the Passion de Croix SAL for the 123stitch board ... the last to do so. And I stitched a Trick or Treat bib for my grandson, Liam. Furthermore, I managed to complete a number of sewing finishes: made up the 2006 JCS Imaginating Santa & Sue Hillis Merry Christmas into Christmas ornaments with beaded trim, made throw pillows of Glory Bee's Home Sweet Home and LHN's Summer Place and Starlight Starbright , as well as stitching up the Waxing Moon Checkerboard Pumpkin [with my additions] into a trick or treat bag for Liam and assembled two biscornus and a name tag. I took Heartstrings Bittersweet Season to the framer and brought home Dragon Dreams Stormbringer.
But I did not do any work on the TW Autumn Faerie or Crosseyed Kat's Red Snowball Fight Dragon, and only a little work on the 2007 JCS Sue Hillis Spool Tree ornament, nor did I even start the Prairie Schooler Ltd. Edition Santa and the current year card Santa as I had hoped ... the Santas were supposed to be finished and at the framer by Halloween. Also not started is the TW Woodland Angel stocking for Liam [supposed to be done by this Christmas]. Nor did I start the pre-work for the Mystic Stitchery Retreat [8 short days away]. My other goal, to transfer all my photo files to Photobucket so I can learn to add pictures of my work to my blog and to some message boards I frequent has yet to be achieved ... I have been taking pictures of finished work faithfully but still need my husband's help to download them to my personal files and need a tutorial in then transferring them to photobucket.
One of November's goals will have to be to set more reasonable goals.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some recent projects

I am going to see if I can get my husband to help bring photos to this blog ... but first I'll have to get my photobucket account up to speed ... have lots of photos to load and sort. That being said, I am very proud of the two biscornus I have just assembled though I gave one away before I photographed it [won't be making that mistake again] and the two Christmas ornaments I just stitched up ... even though the 2006 JCS Imaginating Santa was, IMHO, way too huge to qualify as an ornament even though I stitched it on the recommended count linen. The only tree it might actually suit would be the tree in Rockerfeller Center. And then there is the Halloween Trick or Treat bag I just stitched up for my brand new grandson ... okay, so at 3 months of age, he won't be doing much trick or treating this year ... but I stuffed it with three board books, a light weight flannel sleeper I had made for his father some 27 years ago and I'll be adding one of those bibs that look like fingertip towels with an aida insert. I used the Waxing Moon free chart "Checkerboard Pumpkin" as the basis for the trick or treat bag and added Liam's name done in what I am calling "candy corn" lettering [orange/yellow/cream from bottom to top], the phrase "Trick or Treat", some candy corn motifs and another checkerboard border around the whole. I am using the same candy corn motifs to make a border for the same "Trick or Treat" lettering on the bib. I used thin wale black corduroy to make up the tote bag and hope he will get a few years use of it when he is old enough to go trick or treating. Other than that, I have been working on my Passion de Croix SAL - I'll probably be the very last in the 123stitch group to finish it since I had to start all over again after a disaster when an overly damp pressing cloth caused a major bleeding of color. I have also been working on my Workbasket Quaker house. But soon I will have to turn my attention to the prep work for the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway ... I received the kit in the mail last week and have been downloading all the additional instructions that have been e-mailed. I admit to being somewhat intimidated since some of the pre-work involves Kloster blocks and the very reason I was attracted to this Hideaway was the chance to learn basic hardangar skills ... which I definitely do not have as yet. Oh well, I shall do my best and stitch very carefully and slowly with the instructions always at hand and maybe I won't have to rip the whole thing apart when Thea sees it for the first time.
Off to work now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Biscornu

I just stitched up my very first biscornu using the very clear instructions on
www.own-two-hands.livejournal.com
... a step by step picture tutorial which also includes a whole bunch of freebie charts. I did the olive branch, the cats [which I stitched in black with a Needle Necessities autumn leaves border to give it a Halloween look], one of the geometrics [also in the Needle Necessities autumn leaves] and one of the Algerian tile designs [in what was labelled Caron Waterlilies Peach Sherbert ... but was probably mislabelled at the store because it doesn't look remotely like Peach Sherbert as pictured on the Caron site]. All of the above were stitched on left over bits and pieces of linen or laguna from my scrap bag. Even the flosses were leftovers from other projects. So, with virtually no financial investment, I learned a new skill. Don't you just love the internet.
If anyone here has been curious about these little irregular pillows/pin cushions/whatever, the above mentioned site is a great place to start.
I have to admit that until I found this site, I was somewhat intimidated by the "finishing" part of the project. But guided by the photos in the tutorial, I found the whole process amazingly easy and I am quite pleased with the finished product. Though I have stitched four of these little projects, I have only "assembled" the olive branch biscornu. I hope to assemble two more today since it is my day off and all I am doing is laundry and a little pick-up housekeeping with the rest of my day devoted to stitching. I'll post pictures when I've got them all done.

Mea culpa continued

I didn't realize there was a limit to what could be put in each entry and was stunned when my computer stuttered in mid-sentence ... I hit the Enter button thinking to advance to the next line only to discover I had inadvertently "posted" an incomplete and unedited post. Oh well, I will learn how to do this eventually. I had started to say I had ordered all of the Sue Hillis Santa series and two of the Prairie Schooler Santas that I had wanted ... since I have many goals to meet over the next few months ... I believe I will save them for the Christmas vacation. It will be fun to stitch something Christmas-y during the actual season instead of the usual September/October/November time frame required to get them done for the season.

As to goals, I am slowly learning to moderate mine. For October, I want to work primarily on finishes. I need to finish two Homespun Elegance pedastal pincushions. Then there are the two samplers from CATS Stitching Circle Dinner 2005 [the Stoney Creek & Lori Birmingham pieces] that I wish to use as the covers of a crochet needle book for my mother's Christmas gift and the Liz Turner Diehl Sampler that I wish to use as the cover of a needlework tools case for myself. I plan on using the 2006 CATS Liz Turner Diehl Autumn pillow band as a bell pull instead and have a lovely acorn trimmed hanger for it. I need to hem and affix the LHN Seasons of Plenty samplers onto their appropriate prefinished pillows as a Christmas gift for one of my sisters. I also want to finish the Modern Art Goddess I stitched in #5 perles on 10ct tula into a wall hanging for my daughter as a Yule gift. There are three biscornus awaiting assembly. Finally, I have a trick or treat bag to finish for my brand new grandson. That makes 14 items to sew ... and still leaves another half dozen or so in the basket awaiting attention. Did I say I was learning to moderate my goals?

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

I will never again criticize, even within the privacy of my own thoughts, a blogger who does not post regularly. I started this blog in late summer and then school began and the days raced by. Here it is mid-October and I am only now returning to this blog. Happily, I have not ignored stitching in all this time and have completed a number of projects, including: Dragon Dreams' Stormbringer, Wiorkbasket's Quaker Cat and Mouse, Leisure Arts Corner Bookmark Dragon with Crystal Ball, Glory Bee's Home Sweet Home, LHN's Summer House and Starlight, Star Bright, Heartstrings' Bittersweet Season, and from the 2006 JCS Ornament issue, Imaginating's Santa and Sue Hillis' Merry Christmas. Finally, I have completed the stitching on 3 biscornus [front & back] and have only to stitch them up. I have also stitched a name tag to wear to the Mystic Retreat in November and have assembled it and only have to bead the edges to give it a pretty finish and then attach a pin back. I have done quite a bit more work on the Passion de Croix SAL and have started Workbasket's Quaker House, Sue Hillis' ornament from the 2007 JCS issue and CrossEyed Kats Red Snowfight Dragon. I have also managed to get quite a bit of sewing finishes done: made Best Witches into a stand-up, made Dragon Dreams Morning and Evening Dragons into a double sided gift tote, finished another of the LaDeDa Cardinal ornaments, finished the Imaginating Santa as a large pillow ornament, and the 2006 Sue Hillis ornament as a smaller "pillow" with a scallopped beaded edging that I was quite pleased with ... even made a beaded loop for hanging it, finished up Rainbow Gallery's Blackwork Victorian Lady as a scissor case and Japanese Lady as a scissor fob, stitched up a long-completed stocking for my son and trimmed it with twisted cord, and made the Home Sweet Home, Summer House and Star Light, Star Bright pieces mentioned above into throw pillows. I have also received the Thea Dueck kits for the Mystic Retreat in the mail and need to get started on the pre-work. I also ordered all of Sue Hillis'

Monday, August 27, 2007

Goals

Ever since May, I have been setting stitchery goals for myself ... at first, they were wildly optimistic goals but I am learning what I can and can not do ever so slowly. My goals are getting more reasonable and attainable as each month passes. I have been trying to do at least one freebie, one bookmark and one ornament a month while working on larger projects. I usually end up working the freebies into gift totes or pillows for friends and relatives or a door banner or stand up for my office at school. I am accumulating bookmarks to give as end-of-year gifts to my 55 catechists ... several years ago, I gave all of the catechists a Christmas ornament and I figured a bookmark would be another doable sort of gift for so many. The current ornaments are to be used as package trim on the Christmas gifts I give my family. As to the other goals, I am trying to work systematically through all the larger projects in my stash ... I have been somewhat extravagant with my purchases in the past two years and have vowed to purchase only fabric and floss until I have made a serious dent in the charts filling two bureau drawers. I've gone three months without buying a chart but I will, of course, buy the annual JCS Christmas ornament issue. But other than that I have been exercising restraint. Even if I never bought another chart again, I probably have about 4 years worth of stitching in my stash. That seems somewhat irresponsible when there are people on this planet wondering where their next meal is coming from ... so restraint is the order of the day ... and maybe some of that "stash" money can be used in a more responsible and charitable fashion

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Duty Call

Survived the duty call ... and yes, it was just as bad as I had anticipated. Cigarette smoke everywhere, potbellied men lifting their t-shirts to display imaginary washboard abs, much too much alcohol flowing about, one woman dressed in tight shorts displaying muffin tops below an extremely abbreviated blouse ... the whole ensemble set off with open-toed 3 inch spiked heels in fire-engine red ... might as well have been in a red light district for all the skin on display. And she was one of the more conservative dressers. I suppose I am a terrible snob but I do believe in dressing to suit one's body type and one's age and I am inclined to think less of people who don't exercise common sense in choosing a wardrobe. Ah well, at least, I won't have to repeat the experience for another year.
On the way to the barbecue, stopped in at Michael's looking for some fiber-fill and pillow forms ... only to discover they no longer carry these items ... but did manage to pick up some adhesive backed felt to line a lidded basket and some fabric glue ... all items on my list ... and, on impulse, picked up another stitchable bib for the new grandson. I'll probably have to brave the Palisades Center Mall to get the fiber fill and the pillow forms as well as some fusible interfacing and braided cord trim that I need. It's probably not the best weekend to head for the ugliest mall in America with school starting so soon. However, I wasn't able to find a decent selection at JoAnn's on- line. You'd think the on-line selections would be greater than those in the actual brick and mortar store but such is not the case.
And I really do want to continue my finishing marathon as per my stated goals for August. So far I have managed to finish the Dragon Dreams April Fool freebie and the "123-ers stitch it best" freebie as pins; to stitch the Dragon Dreams Morning and Evening Dragon as two sides of a gift tote small enough to double as a nursery door knob decoration for my grandson, to sew and stuff LaDeDa's Cardinal Christmas ornament, to finish Rainbow Gallery's Victorian & Japanese Ladies as a scissor case and a scissor fob, and to finish Brightneedle's Plant A Garden freebie as a large gift tote, and to affix the braided trim to a stocking I made for my son two years ago. I've got Waxing Moon' Best Witches nearly finished as a stand-up ... just need to make some braided cord to trim it with. But I still have a whole bunch of finished stitchery in the pipeline awaiting attention: Stitching the Night Away's Modern Art Goddess [wall hanging], the 4 Little House Needleworks Seasons of ... series [pillows], 2 Homespun Elegance Pedastal Pincushions, 4 Prairie Schooler Halloween designs [wall quilt], Dragon Dreams Elemental Dragons freebies [bellpull], CATS 2005 Stitching Dinner Samplers [a crochet needle book for my Mom and a Stitching accessories book for me] 3 Passione Ricamo Halloween designs and Cross-Eyed Cricket's Raven [wall quilt], Liz Turner Diehl's Autumn Pillow Band from CATS 2006 [bell pull], Waxing Moon's Checkerboard Pumpkin [Trick or Treat Bag] Cross-Eyed Cricket's Hat in a Cat [Halloween Doorstop Stand-up] JCS Christmas Annual Strawberry Needle Emery [Christmas Ornament] and one of the biscornus that I have been stitching up so quickly. That makes a grand total of 17 items awaiting attention ... thus the need to head on down to JoAnn's for fabric and interfacing and trim and fiberfill and pillow forms and ... so on and so on ...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

To biscornu or not to biscornu

Finally, I have been caught up in the latest stitching fad. I admit I have found these irregular little cushions somewhat intimidating until now. But yesterday, I found a marvelous article explaining the whole process complete with crystal clear step-by-step photos
The photos, in particular, have taken the fear out of the whole process. The same site also contains a library of biscornu charts from which I selected my four favorites: a four pointed star, four framed cats, a leaf and flower motif and an algerian geometric design.

Abandoning all my current WIPs and August stitching goals in favor of this latest enthusiasm, I dove into my fabric scrap bag and came up with several pieces of natural 28ct linen, a piece of natural 35 ct linen and a piece of mushroom 25ct Laguna. Then, it was on to the button jars to select 4 copper buttons to be used with the star and cats which I decided to stitch as autumn & Halloween pieces using a Needle Necessities variegated cotton floss in amber, gold, orange and brown and, for the cats, GAST Soot. The buttons I selected for the flower and leaf motif were silver buttons etched with a solar disc accompanied YLI silks in various greens, browns and creams. I haven't made any decisions for the Algerian design yet. I have already stitched both front and back of the star and the front of the cat design. It is my plan to stitch all the fronts and backs and then iron the seam allowances and do the finishing ladder stitching in an assembly line fashion.
But, alas, I must set aside these plans for the rest of the day. One of those dreary duty social calls is scheduled ... the annual end-of-summer barbecue at the home of one of my husband's colleagues from work. I am not a social butterfly at the best of times ... but 90 degree temps coupled with loud, vulgar strangers who drink and smoke excessively just can't describe my ideal Saturday afternoon. I will get through this by reminding myself of how manfully my husband has attended command performances at the parish where I work: Golf Outings, Parish Picnics, Theater Outings, etc. There is also the fact that I have negotiated him down to a three hour limit for our visit. But, the best motivating force is the sure and certain knowledge that NEXT Saturday will be spent on Broadway watching David Hyde Pierce perform in Curtains. One can put up with a great deal when one has such promised pleasures in one's immediate future.
I'll continue work on the biscornus tomorrow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

To begin

Friday, August 24, 2007
I have been reading stitchery blogs for over two years now and have always kept a stitching journal using those lovely little books one buys at Barnes and Noble ... so it seems logical to take the next step and journal in a blog. What to do first? Obviously, choose a name. My favorite word ... yes, I am one of those strange beings who has a favorite word: I am a literature major with a passion for language ... is a French one: oubliette. An oubliette, for all it's mellifluous sound, is actually a quite frightful thing. It is the deepest hole in the deepest dungeon. If one was consigned to an oubliette in the Bastille it meant that one was a "forgotten person". I could ramble on about how my work will live after me thus preventing me from becoming a forgotten person, etc. etc. ... but the simple truth is I love the sound of the word without any reference to its dark meaning. So this blog shall be my oubliette.