Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Startitis

I have a tendency to set impossible goals for myself and lately, these goals have involved medium to large projects. Then there has been this year's tendency to do a series of similar charts: all the Sue Hillis Santas and five of the PS Santas. It all has very predictable results: I go a long time between finishes. And I do get bored with the sameness of it all even though I really enjoy the finished pieces.
Well, I guess I just couldn't take it any longer because I find myself starting lots of small projects lately instead of attending to my stated goals. There have been the Love Ewe pinkeep, the Rose Window biscornu, the I Love to Shop at the Silver Needle tote, the Peace floss tag and now I find myself two thirds of the way through Chatelaine Design's Time for Tea. In addition, I have started stitching the LHN Small House Sampler [c2005] on some tan and cream gingham checked linen using Rainbow Gallery Mandarin Floss. I love this fiber made from bamboo - it has the feel of a silk and wool blend - very fine and light in the hand with a beautifully soft sheen on the fabric. I did have to add three stitches to the width of the charted design to make it look right on the gingham but that was a very easy adjustment. I have another slighlty larger piece of the gingham linen and a piece of antique teal linen that I could use with some smalls. I'll have to start paging through my binders to find appropriate charts. I'll probably check out the Gift of Stitching issue devoted to biscornus for those scraps of fabric. Any biscornu worked with a stitch count in multiples of six would work with the gingham and I think the effect would be appealling. The teal could work with anything. So my bout of startitis is still quite virulent and shows no signs of abating.
For the present, I shall enjoy myself, stitching what I please, knowing that sooner or later the BAPS that I loved a few months ago will reclaim my attention. Goals can be reassessed and revised. There is a place for smalls which feed the appetite for variety and offer the gratification of many finishes

Monday, July 28, 2008

Inspired, Relaxed, On Task - My Vacation Begins

After reading the Stitch Bitch's blog and viewing her picture showing progress on Liz Turner Diehl's Knot Garden, I am inspired to go stash diving and pull out one of my own Diehl's garden charts: The German Garden or The Lighthouse Summer Garden. But which to stitch? I think it shall have to be The German Garden. We'll be going to Southport Island, Me. in late June/early July 2009 ... that's the place and the time to stitch The Lighthouse Summer Garden. I believe I will take The Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway projects, the Miribilia Halloween Faerie and The German Garden with me to Deale, Md. ... I know it is only a four day getaway, but this way I shall have a variety of projects to choose from, whatever my mood.
Got some more stitching done on the 2005 PS Santa [The Embroiderer] this morning. It is a quicker stitch than the 2004 Santa [New Age-y Cosmic symbols] and is moving along very nicely. I also selected the contents of my package for my Secret Sister from the 123stitch message board ... I hope to have that in the mail today or tomorrow ... don't want to display a picture of these items in case she may be reading. For the rest of the day, I will divide my attention between catching up on routine housework, running errands, doing laundry and stealing away to stitch or sew. Tomorrow will be soon enough to return to gardening and weeding and to sorting out the boys' old bedroom which my husband has turned into a junk room. I need to get everything off the floor and cleared away so I can pull up the old carpet. I am afraid to discover the shape of the hardwood floor underneath. There is also the need to get the old dresser to the refinisher's and the secretary to Mrs. DeEntremont for reinventing as a folk art gem.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Duty Stitching

Sunday I started a Catitudes chart called My name is Stop That! What's yours? ... my husband volunteered me to do it for his sister after she balked at paying the $200+ price tag at a local framers for the finished piece. Proud husband beams: "Oh Regina can whip that up for you, no problem." Proud husband will soon be wearing a muzzle. The chart involves a cat playing with toilet tissue ... if I never see another strand of white floss again, it'll be too soon. The whole deal is complicated by the fact that it was supposed to be stitched on antique white aida ... I am doing it on a antique cream overdyed linen ... but it is still pretty much a white-on-white eye straining project. The toilet tissue will be defined by black backstitching. Very little of the tortoise shell fur of the cat is showing: a bit of rump, a bit of back, a bit of the front shoulder, the two front paws and the head. The rest is all DMC white, 762 or 318. Aaaaaaaargh! While I will frequently stitch charts I consider whimsical or humorous, I avoid the terminably cute with a decided determination. And this chart is definitely cute enough to set my teeth on edge.
Ah well, I am about 1/3 done with the thing. This too shall pass ... and in the process I will win Brownie points with my sister-in-law and payback points with my husband. This is not a bad thing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Enabling my daughter

In an earlier post, I mentioned my daughter saw a piece, Max's Moon, in The Stitchery catalog and was intrigued enough to ask how difficult I thought it would be to stitch. Her last experience with cross-stitch was some two decades ago when, as a Junior Girl Scout, she had participated in a special badge program I had helped develop with the Rockland Historical Society called Little Women of Early Rockland. I still have the small sampler she stitched then hanging in my bedroom. Since Max's Moon is stitched on black aida, I also ordered the Twelve Cat Sampler and a wolf piece, both stitched on white aida. I figured she should start with a piece on white first. I recommended the Cat sampler, pointing out that there is no need to stitch it as one large piece as charted, it would make a very nice set of 12 ornaments or other smalls [little pillows, stand-ups, door knob hangers, pinkeeps, whatever] ... and would make great practice before tackling Max. I also recommended that, once she has stitched these kits, she go the "chart only" route and kit the pieces up herself ... quality control being the reason. Also, I am hoping to convert her to evenweaves and linen eventually.

In any case, the kits arrived from The Stitchery in yesterday's mail and I set her up with a packet of Piecemaker needles, her own embroidery scissors, a little zippered tools case, and the Black Cat Biscornu that may be seen in the June 28th post. I zig-zagged the edges of the white aida that came with the Twelve Cat Sampler. Last night, she went directly from work to the appointment for facial and massage I had set up for her, so we didn't have time to start stitching ... that treat is reserved tonight. The poor kid has been home from the West Coast only three weeks and has been so involved in house-hunting, opening her new office and starting up all the summer camps for the Mad Science franchise she manages ... putting in 12 and 14 hour days, 7 days a week ... she really needed the facial and massage. She goes back to Oregon next Wednesday, to help Martin pack up their household goods which will be sent East by container service [train and truck], sell one of the cars, pack the two dogs and seven cats in the remaining car and drive cross-country to be back for the first week of August in time for my grandson's christening. Talk about stress!!!

I shall be pleased to have her only an hour's drive away instead of two connecting flights across the breadth of the entire country. We should be able to see her every few weeks instead of two or three times a year. Of course, Sean, his wife, Christina and my grandson, Liam, are still stationed in Washington state ... so there will still be some long distance travelling in my future. At least, my younger son, Danny, lives a mere 15 minutes from the house, two towns to the south and west.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A good mail day

Yesterday was a really good mail day ... two books I had ordered from A Libris arrived as well as a package from The Silver Needle. My stash package contained Workbasket's Quaker Pig and Rooster, Lizzie Kate's Housework..., Prairie Schooler's Limited Edition 2008 Santa kit, the replacement button pack for row three of Crabby All Year [I expect the "lost" pack to show up within the next 48 hours], the piece of aqua Jobelan for my Peacock biscornu, and a little surprise: a very pretty small silver purse charm. I'll have to wait for a few back-ordered items: the peacock bead, the cream Jobelan, and the 1/2 yard of Cafe Au Lait linen. I expect the Special editions of JCS will be sent as they become available... so the ornament preview issue should come shortly with the regular Christmas ornament issue and the new Halloween issue coming in August and Septemeber. I also got an e-mail from Joann's stating they had shipped my pillow forms, fusible interfacing, eyelets and eyelet tools on July 7 ... so I have that to look forward to, as well as my monthly Silkweaver fabric.
As for stitching, I finished the Love Ewe by Deanna Carter [Carousel Charts], a chart in the Feb 2008 Gift of Stitching. I plan to finish it as a small doorknob hanger, using the eyelets ordered from Joann's and some jute to blend with the whole primitive look. I used a sample scrap of Zweigart Lavendar Mist 14 ct Aida for this piece and I'll be using another sample scrap of Zweigarts damask black 14 ct Aida for the backing which I intend to personalize for the stitcher who will be receiving this finish as a gift in November ... I'll post a picture when it is all assembled. It won't spoil the surprise since the recipient has no idea that she'll be getting this. The samples came from the goodie bag from last year's Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway. Though I don't usually stitch with Aida, my frugal nature just won't permit throwing away odds and ends suitable for smalls. The Lavender Mist Aida was pleasant to work with and makes a nice background for the Love Ewe but the Black Damask Aida is positively awful to work with ... black is hard enough to deal with but the shiny damask finish just compounds the problem making the light bounce off the fabric, making it very difficult to see the holes even using the usual trick of placing a white pillowcase on the lap and using a strong light.
Finally, I chose the winner of my PIF for Crabby All Year: Debbie from Nova Scotia. I'd asked people to react to my post about Liam's rather Zen moment as Kermit. I liked her e-mail best ... the mention of the frog who'd snagged a pesky fly was what put it over the top for me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

In need of a quick stitch

Since I am still waiting for the buttons for the Crabby All Year -- a replacement of the third row button pack is coming from the Silver Needle and I have special ordered some buttons made for the fourth row since I didn't like the designers' choices -- I felt the need for a really quick stitch to fill in the gaps. So last night I started the Love Ewe from the February Gift of Stitching ... I expect to have it all stitched and assembled into a floss tag by the time the eyelets and eyelet setting tools arrive from Joann's. The online magazine Gift of Stitching is a phenomenal magazine and the folks there are just lovely ... more on that in a later post.
Well, my vacation time is at an end and I am heading off to work in a little over half an hour ... most reluctantly, since I am sooo redy for retirement but I'll just have to last another 8 years.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Blogs Out There

I have been reading a goodly number of new [to me] stitching blogs over the last few days in addition to my usual Stitch Bitch, Glory Bee, Yarn Harlot, Dragon Dreams, and Artistic License ... all prompted by a post on 123stitch asking folks to share their blogs. There are so many gifted people out there, which doesn't surprise me much. But what does have me standing in awe is the large number of people who are so technologically adept that they have slide shows, tutorials, musical accompaniment, quizzes, contests, PIFs and Lord knows what else on their blogs. So many also seem to have hooked into some sort of blog central that poses questions of the day, challenges and all sorts of other communal activities. Where does one find these things? I am a raw novice compared to so many others. Having only recently learned to post photos on my own blog, I feel somewhat inadequate - especially when I consider the quality of those photos. In any case, some of what I have read is brilliant, some cloyingly sweet and some actually annoying but it has all been a learning experience. I'll keep visiting all these new blogs for a little while longer; then, I'll cull the number down to just those I wish to add to my regular line-up of must-reads. It is also my modest hope that someone, anyone, will add my blog to a must-read list. The few times I have had comments attached to a post have made me feel like a conversation has been started. Nice feeling for a lone stitcher 50 miles and a toll bridge away from the nearest LNS.

WIPs for July

Here are some pictures of my current WIPs. The photos aren't all that great since our digital is the most basic of point and shoot type cameras with no zoom or telephoto options. But they are the best I can provide at present:


First, up is Raise the Roof's Crabby All Year: I seem to have a compulsion to finish this piece and have been working steadily on it since early in June, when I frogged back to the error in the April block that caused me to consign it to UFO status for three months. All I have left to stitch is the last row, Oct-Nov-Dec, and then I'll stitch the buttons onto the bottom two rows and off to the framer it goes ... probably mid-month. Of course, I am waiting for the third row button pack to arrive from The Silver Needle, since during all those months of ignoring the piece, I managed to mislay the original button pack. If I do find the first one, which I probably will two days after the second arrives, I really won't mind ... it has buttons I am likely to use in other projects: two starfish, a blackbird, a butterfly, two leaves, two plain gold discs and a pumpkin. Not a hardship to have them in the stash.



Second, the Prairie Schooler Santas: So far I've only started the 1995 Santa, a rather New Age-y kind of guy surronded by cosmic symbols. He will be joined this month by the Knitter, Cross-Stitcher, Sewer and Quilter.


Third is a real UFO revived: The Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway Pocket, I haven't worked on this in at least four months. I'd like to finish the pocket and then move on to the scissor case and fob. I figure I'll save the needlebook and tuffet for August.



Fourth, another UFO, even older this time: T. Wentzler's Autumn Faerie which I haven't touched since January when I get all involved with the 5 piece Sue Hillis marathon. All I have stitched are the bodice, shoulders, face and neck ... I hope to make considerably more progress this month since I intend it to be a Christmas gift.




Fifth, and yet another UFO, M-Design's Sean Name Tree: not only do I hope to get this one done in July but I hope to start Christina's as well.


Sixth, a recent start, using materials sent by my Secret Sister in a past round, the Peacock Biscornu. I'll have to frog back to my errors, noted with tailor tacks, and then finish the top. I have ordered some more 28 ct Laguna in both cream and aqua to see which will make a better bottom. I figure I'll stitch just the outer border on the bottom. I have ordered the handpainted Just Nan peacock bead to use as the centering button. If that doesn't work, I do have two purple pansy buttons that will work with the color way but it will mean changing out the lettering in the inner square of the chart: I could use my initials and a date or I could make it into a Secret Sister Exchange piece and use the SS's name for the next round and then send it as a reveal gift. Decisions, decisions.

So it would seem I am back to my old habits, having five or six WIPs in a rotation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Today is for chores ... I will stitch tomorrow

Today is going to be a day devoted almost wholly to running around. We need to pick out a new dishwasher, to do some banking, to drop off some electronics at the county household hazardous waste site, and sign up for the town pool/recreation site ... we waited so long for the last because Bill turned sixty a few days ago which qualifies him for a free membership. Then there are the usual last minute groceries associated with having one more person in the house ... my daughter will be here for another few weeks ... her vegetarian ways make shopping for her a new experience but happily our local supermarket is up to the challenge. Finally, there is some stash-associated shopping: I need four pillow forms, some green print and solid fabrics, an eyelet punch kit, some stitch witchery and some fusible interfacing for some finishes I need to get to ... And, of course, I need to gas up ... even with a tiny little Hyundai Elantra, I figure that will run me nearly $50.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Liam & Zen & Kermit the Frog


I don't ordinarily post pictures of my children or my grandson but this one of Liam is just too much. Now, I know my son and daughter-in-law think this is just Liam hamming it up in front of the camera. I have another take on it entirely. Being a totally unbiased grandmother, I believe Liam is engaged in a very Zen moment here. He is not only carrying Kermit the Frog, he is being Kermit the Frog. I say that the face Liam is making is very intentional and clever mimicry ... I mean, he's only 10 months old but one can see he is positively brilliant.

Setting July Goals

In setting my July goals, I will try to be reasonable but it is time to get serious about Christmas gifts and Halloween decorations. So, the list will be lengthy but on the other hand, I will have the first nine days of July off and I will be working summer hours of 9am-3pm for the rest of the month ... so there should be plenty of time to stitch.

-- Continue work on Prairie Schooler Santas [Knitter, Cross-Stitcher, Quilter, Sewer & World Peace] I start the month with the World Peace Santa about one third complete.

-- Continue work on Mystic Hideaway projects.

--Begin work on Cattitudes My Name is Stop That... : deadline August 26th for Judi's birthday.

-- Frog back to error in the Papillions Peacock biscornu and finish up the stitching.


-- Raise the Roof's Crabby All Year: the September, October, November & December blocks. and then take it to the new framer in Suffern. I start the month with the September box nearly complete.

-- Continue to work on sewing finishes. I want to get the LHN Seasons ... pillows done, and the crochet needle book made up using two of the 2005 CATS Stitching Circle Dinner Samplers as front and back cover and a scissor "book" made from the remaining sampler.

--Put in at least 10 hours on Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie since I hope to have it ready for Christmas as a gift for Angela.

--Resume stitching Angela's Celtic Tarot Cards - aim to complete one a month until they are done.

--Resume stitching the M Design Name Tree ornaments -try for two a month.
--Start Miribilia Halloween Faerie ... I am itching to get to this but I am going to try to make it a low priority until I get more work done on the current WIPs.

--Check catalogs for availability of gingham print tea towels in green - to stitch a set of tea towels with the Dragon Dreams Christmas ornament charts from Just Cross Stitch magazine.