Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Goals

Report on my April Goals
--10 hours on Workbasket's Rabbit Rondel: Actually, only three hours.
--10 hours on TW's Autumn Faerie: None
--10 hours on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Sampler: 3 hours
--1 Christmas ornament: SH Pirate Santa free chart finished April 5
--1 Christmas ornament for Stitching for the Cure Tree: finished except for the assembling.
--5 hours devoted to sewing finishes: None.
--stitch the GAST free chart Have You Any Wool?: finished stitching April 19
Also, a list of projects not on the goals list [because I have chronic startitis and and the stitching equivalent of extreme mood swings]:
--Sue Hillis' Yo Ho Ho Ho: finished April 5
--And a experiment in dimensional embroidery that I am calling Fertile Circles: 12 hours. I really got a bit obsessed with this project after seeing an example of the style on the Pin Tangle blog. It has not been a complete success but that's what experimenting is all about ... learning what works and what doesn't. I have scaled down my ambition somewhat ... instead of making a 4"x6" band to be inserted into a handbag pattern, I am settling for a 4"x4" needlebook finish. I'll post a photo once I finish the stitching. In any case, this wild hare really cut into my somewhat limited stitching time as I slog through what I have come to know as the sacrament and registration season in my little world.

So, it seems that for yet another month, my goals will remain much the same.
May Goals:
  • Finish Workbasket's Rabbit Rondel.
  • Stitch at least 10 hours on TW's Autumn Faerie.
  • Stitch at least 10 hours on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Heart's Sampler.
  • Complete one Christmas ornament.
  • Kit up TW's Woodland Angel Stocking.
  • Devote 5 hours to sewing finishes.
  • Bring the five "to frame" projects to the framers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A brief intermission

I will be a bit preoccupied until May 9 ... I have two Confirmations on May 2 and two First Communions on May 9 ...with all the attendant practices, prep of the church, luncheon for the bishop, etc. etc. I still haven't typed the Mass booklets because of the way Easter break fell. And just to make everything delightful, the registration mailing for next year's program has to get to the post office by next Wednesday. So I am on overdrive and will not have time for my blog until Mother's Day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And the tweeking continues ...

I have taken a few photos that continue the stitching saga begun in my last post.
First, here is the Imaginating, Inc.'s Cardinal ornament - still unassembled:

Next, the free chart Baba Black Sheep which can be found in its full glory at but is pictured here so that you can note the changes I have made:

and, my version, almost completely stitched ... I just have to finish the French knots on the black sheep and do a bit of back-stitching on his legs, tail and ear:

I plan to finish this up as a tote bag using some lovely thin wale black corduroy from my fabric stash. I'll be lining it with some light tan flannel sheeting so as to protect my stash purchases when visiting the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival in the fall.

And, as startitis continues to afflict me, I have this piece to show:

I got the idea for this from a blog that I recommend highly, // ... the crazy quilting and dimensional embroidery techniques she focuses on are just phenomenally beautiful. I'll be using the same fibers that I used in my Spots of Fun Sampler, a Debbie Draper design, [pictured and discussed in September - October 2008 on this blog] last fall. I've been looking for an excuse to use those sumptuous fibers again ... and this time I'll be adding metallics and beads to the mix. I'll use the finished 4" x 6" band as the focal point of a handbag ... I am thinking, black denim or an upholstery weight linen in ecru for the fabric but I am open to suggestion. In any case, I am making this up as I go along. Since I will be using quite a few round and oval beads & buttons in copper-y tones, curved lines & specialty stitches and nest-like raised circles ... my working title is Fertile Circles. I am already imagining ways to use the technique in other projects, e.g.: using the dimensional circles as the eyes in an owl.

I think it would be fun to make a little needlebook or Christmas ornament using this dense and dimensional embroidery technique and offer it as one of my monthly giveaways ... does that appeal to anyone?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Re-interpreting free charts

I seem to be doing a lot of this lately:
I finished stitching my second cardinal ornament from the Imaginating, Inc. free chart ... with these modifications: leaving out the bird house and an accidental rearranging of the placement of the branch and leaves a wee bit ... the changes in the leaves were the result of an error I didn't feel like frogging, but I don't think the symmetry was unduly disturbed.

Then, startitis hit again but at least this time it advances one of my stated monthly goals: the GAST Baba Black Sheep ... though, of course, I Americanized this French chart by stitching it as Baa Baa rather than BaBa. This has changed the negative space in the design and I am adjusting the placement of the remaining words to accomodate the change. I have replaced the GAST Black Crow on the sheep with Brown Black and Cream Mandarin [bamboo] floss from Rainbow Gallery ... so I will have two differently colored sheep instead of two black sheep. I chose the Mandarin from my stash since it has the texture of a fine silk and wool blend. I am stitching the legs, faces and tails of the sheep in cross-stitch, then back-stitching an outline of the sheep which I am filling in with closely packed French knots. As charted in plain old cross-stitch, it's hard to tell that the animals are sheep at all. I have truly tiny black buttons that I will use for the eyes of my sheep. I am also changing out the cross-stitching in the ball of wool to a dimensional specialty stitch [I am imagining a kind of layered triple Smyrna Cross] that I believe will look more like an actual ball of wool with a loosely unravelled tail that meanders through the whole piece, tying the words together. As charted now, I think the ball of wool looks more like a balloon floating in the upper right hand corner. I plan to "finish" this up as a hipster tote bag [i.e.: a tote with long straps that cross the chest so the bag rides on one's hip]. I will use the tote when I attend the Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck this Fall. I have some nice thin wale black corduroy for the tote and plan on lining it with scraps from an old light tan flannel sheet so that my purchases will remain snag-free.

It's odd: sometimes, I follow a chart with such lock-step fidelity that it is scary and as if I have virtually no creativity of my own ... other times, I tend to look on a chart as a mere sketch waiting to be developed into a more detailed rendering. I guess this week has been one of those other times when I just can't resist tweeking and re-inventing until I am satisfied.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And the Winner is

Drum roll, as appropriate...

The winner is LindaTn, whose brief comment managed to hit a number of high points including pirates, Sue Hillis, a grandson, pirate battles in Vegas, and a husband of 25 years +. That's quite a lot to squeeze into a single comment.
I am humbled by the number of commenters who mentioned a willingness to PIF ... I never think of my giveaways that way ... I tend to think of it as a matter of practicality: simplifying my lifestyle and de-cluttering my small townhouse.
I have e-mailed Linda and asked for a snail-mail address and will get the chart in the mail ASAP.

The next giveaway will be announced on May 4 and at the moment I have no idea whether it will be fiber or a gently used chart ... or maybe I will give away one of my biscornus or bookmarks. I'll see what kind of mood I am in.

Monday, April 13, 2009

WIPs photos

I finally finished the Breast Cancer Ribbon Angel ... it took a total of 11 hours. I am amazed that such a small piece took so long to stitch. Granted I used blending filament for about a third of the design and that stuff is rather fussy, slowing one down ... but still. I figure it'll require another hour or so to affix the piece to it's backing and do the sewing finish. In any case, here's a picture of the stitching "finish".

And, while I am at it, here's a shot of the Pirate ornament, stitched but not yet assembled.

And a photogtraph of progress made on The Holly and Heart Sampler.
First, as last seen:

Then, with current progress ... yes, I am a very slow and meticulous stitcher [I frog less, that way] ... but this piece is alot of fun ... I've even started to like all the back-stitching :)

And, just because I still had some sage 32ct linen loaded on the Doodler frame that I have been using for my ornaments, I started another Imaginating, Inc. Cardinal ornament ... the last time I stitched this, I finished it as a pillow ornament ... this time I think I shall finish it as a flat ornament.

Later on this evening, I shall get back to the Holly and Heart Sampler. It is my plan to get in another solid two hours on that piece.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Computer Catatonia Cured

Yesterday was Good Friday and I spent the hours of Noon to 3pm observing the Good Friday silence as far from the computer as possible while my non-Catholic spouse spent those hours in intense dialogue with the optimum online and CA help desks. It turns out that our 10 year old computer was just too primitive to handle all the updates my husband installed. It had the computer equivalent of a severe panic attack and just went into catatonic mode. We are back online now that the various help desk staffers gently talked my husband through a series of deletions all the while murmuring astonished little asides about the antique nature of our equipment. I am simply pleased to have been off-line at home for just three days ... during two of which I still had internet access at the office. I was not looking forward to a 10 day Easter break without the web.
I have done a bit more stitching on the Breast Cancer Ribbon Angel ornament ... I need to fill in 2/3rds of one wing and the entire halo ... and then it is on to the sewing finish portion of the project. This ornament is stitching up a bit more slowly than others since I am using Kreinik blending filament for the wings and halo. The blending filament always slows me down a bit, getting it to lie just so and using the shorter lengths required for smooth stitching. But I am liking the effect, sio it is worth it. I also prepped the cardboard and batting for both the SH Pirate Santa ornament and the Ribbon Angel ornament yesterday. Today, I will choose fabric for the backings of both. I am not getting quite as much stitching done as I had planned ... silly little things like housework and cooking keep getting in the way. I am convinced I would make a very good "spoiled rich girl" complete with housekeeper and cook ... having been normal and servant-less all my life, I would be kind and considerate and always remember to say please and thank you ... oh, well, one can dream! Time for stitching and reading limited only by the hours needed to sleep and attend to my career ... heaven on earth!
I do believe I shall concentrate on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Heart Sampler once I have finished the ornament ... again, it is another piece I am stitching rather slowly because of all the symmetrical tracery vines in backstitch ... but it is so beautiful as it comes alive under my hands. And, of course, I am a sucker for all the specialty stitches ... I love variety and I love challenges, so that makes the piece a joy to stitch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good News/Bad News

First, the Good News
I managed to stitch a bit more on my April goals today:
-- an hour on the Breast Cancer Robbon Angel ornament: I probably have another three solid hours of stitching to complete this project and another hour to "finish" it
-- another 3/4s of an hour on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Heart Sampler during my lunch hour
And now for the Bad News
No sooner do I get back into the rhythm of blogging again, then my husband manages to loss access to the internet on our home computer while downloading an update to our firewall which in turn automatically downloaded the most current version of the Explorer browser [or so he claims] which apparently is not completely compatible with our server, optimum online. He has spent the past two evenings alternately cursing at the computer and disclaiming all responsibility for the problem. What is it about men? They all seem to think that merely possessing a Y chromosome qualifies them to do anything "technical" or "mechanical" ... regardless of background, training or native ability. Women seem to have a better sense of their abilities and of their limitations. In any case, we have called in our own private geek squad [my youngest son] who will try to undo the damage his Dad has done on Saturday afternoon. I hope he succeeds. If not, I will be unable to access the internet until the end of Easter Break on Monday, April 20 since I will be closing the Office of Religious Education at 3pm this afternoon.
In any case, I will continue to stitch and photograph my finishes and WIPs so that when I am finally back on-line, I'll have plenty to post.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Progress on April goals

Before coming into work this morning I was able to work on one of my April goals: stitching the Breast Cancer Ribbon Angel ornament for the Stitching For A Cure Tree. I have completed the two darker shades of pink and am well into completing the ligher shade of pink ... but I do believe I will fill in the wings and halo with a very pale pink blended with a pink Kreinik blending filament even though the chart calls for the wings and halo to be outlined only. Since I used a sage green linen, I really need to fill in the space with a consistent pink colorway.
I also met the April goal of stitching a Christmas ornament: Sue Hillis' Pirate Santa ornament. I hope to assemble it in a day or two, at which time I will post a photograph. With any luck, I will have finished stitching and assembling the Angel as well and will have two photos.
I brought my stitching bag with The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hearts Sampler to work and plan to get a bit more done during my lunch hour ... working toward another April goal: 10 hours of stitching on this piece.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The April Giveaway

I have finished the Sue Hillis' YoHoHoHo ... see the photo below ... and would like to give away the gently used chart. As charted, this piece has the words "Yo Ho Ho Ho" stitched above the Santa but I left them out since I am going to finish this piece as one of a series of pillows and the others in the series do not have words stitched into the design. If you wish to enter this drawing, please post a comment below stating why you enjoy stitching pirates or Santas or Sue Hillis designs. Please note that this giveaway is for the chart only as I will use the charm when I finish this as a pillow. But, as you can see from the photo, the design is complete without the charm. I will chose the winner based on which answer appeals to me most. The winner will be chosen on April 15 ... here in the US we need a little joy on Income Tax Day ... but the giveaway is open to international stitchers as well.

I enjoyed stitching this clever little piece ... but then I find that Sue Hillis' designs are always clever ... I've never met the lady but I am willing to bet she has a delightful, if somewhat sly, sense of humor. If you haven't stitched any of her designs, I suggest you check out her website.

I have also started two Christmas ornaments

-- the first is Sue Hillis' companion to the above design, a free chart available from her blog . You can see the photo and get the color code list by going to the blog itself and scrolling down to the December posts. Again, this is a fun and relatively quick stitch.

-- I have kitted another ornament for the Stitching for a Cure Tree: the Breast Cancer Ribbon Angel using DMC 221, 223, 224 and some pink Kreinik blending filament stitched on sage 32 ct. linen. With a kid sister and a 1st cousin who have survived breast cancer, this particular charity is dear to my heart.
And, by the way, I found my Cookie Baking Santa chart and will be working that into the rotation next week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Santa has gone AWOL

Since my March 31st post has 17 photos, I thought I'd simply stick to prose today. Or more accurately, ranting against the fates!
Last week the mood struck me to start some Christmas-y stitching and I chose Sue Hillis' Yo Ho Ho Ho [the Pirate Santa]. Since the picture in the last post, I have done another 2 hours of stitching on this piece and have only the two lighter colors in the boot, the peg leg, the hook hand and the back stitching to do ... probably another 3-4 hours of stitching ... tomorrow is my day off so I anticipate completing it during the day. Since I am so close to a finish, I believe I'll wait till I'm done for another photo. But I am still in a Christmas-y mood and I looked for my Sue Hillis Cookie Baking Santa to kit up ... and I can't find it! It was purchased at the same time as the pirate Santa and I swear I saw it in the same tote last week when I pulled the pirate Santa ... but now it is nowhere to be seen and I am gritting my teeth. I will content myself with either the free SH Pirate Santa ornament or the Prairie Schooler Fireside Santa in the meantime but Sunday I will tear my stitching room apart in a search for the SH Santa. I have stitched every one of these charmed [and charming] Santas since the series began and it annoys me that I can't lay my hands on this one at the moment.

I suppose this is what comes of having too much stash ... though I tend to keep mine fairly well-organized and rarely have a problem laying my hands on a chart ... I shall have to check one more binder ... I don't think I filed it in the Current Rotation binder but who knows what I may have done. This binder is probably misnamed since it holds 25 charts that I intend to stitch this year rather than what I am actually stitching at the moment ... but be that as it may, it is the last place I can think of to look.

Anyway, I managed to stitch for 45 minutes of my lunch hour, advancing my April goal to work more assiduously on the Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hearts Sampler. I haven't picked up this piece in about two weeks since I have been concentrating on finishishing ornaments. And that is really a shame since this is a very enjoyable piece and so delicately beautiful. In short, it is a joy to see it come to life in one's hands. Once I have finished the rather wide band of tracery [vining and leaves], I'll take another photo.