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.