Friday, August 28, 2009

A long post after a long silence

It has been a long time indeed since my last post: over two weeks, I believe. I have been busy with the weird things life has been throwing at me and with the oddly satisfying routine of a vacation at home. The weird has ranged from major emergencies like the complete breakdown of my daughter's car, resulting in the need for replacement, to minor irritations like the theft of a cell phone and the notification that someone tried to use my husband's debit card account to purchase $2000.00 worth of stuff from one of those big box handyman stores, in Iowa of all far away places [we live in NY] ... these last two were resolved immediately and without cost to us thanks to all the safeguards and insurance my apparently not-so-paranoid husband has insisted upon. The vacation routine has been pretty much a matter of alternating a period of stitching or sewing with household chores and with a major clean-up of the boys' old bedroom. My husband had turned the room into a cluttered storage area and I want it to be a guest room cum sewing room cum TV room by mid-December. First step is to de-clutter. This is best done while he is at work and can't see me throwing away all those empty boxes, VHS tapes already duplicated with DVDs, old magazines, cast-off furniture, old clothes, broken belts and God knows what else. The man is a compulsive pack-rat and I refuse to drown in his detritus.

The sewing finishes:

A Trick or Treat Bag for Liam: Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack o Lantern made with a green and white check cotton and a solid green broadcloth bottom and lining.

And the ornaments are all August cross-stitch finishes ... doing the sewing finishes on them is part of my feeble attempt to fall no further behind when it comes to final finishes.

Two Christmas ornaments:

Blue Ribbon Design's Red Birds For Peace ornament

LHN's The Pear Tree ornament

And a patriotic ornament: The Fourth of July -Quaker Style ornament

On the weight loss front: not so good last week, only 1/4 lb. lost ... mainly because I sabotaged myself. After a whole week of eating sensibly [including taking full advantage of my Fruit of the Month shipment of the most delicious peaches I have enjoyed in a long time], I sabotaged myself. Our local Barnes & Noble has a display of Godiva chocolate right at the check-out line ... now, I usually treat myself to a single chocolate bar when I buy books - not the greatest behavior but not so bad either ... but this time I bought a full box of assorted chocolates and polished it off in two days. Not good for the weight loss or the diabetes ... I should have my head examined! I'll be more sensible in the upcoming weeks but I really do need to get control of these periodic impulses to self-destruct. The work I have planned for the next two weeks ought to burn off a few calories ... there is a silver lining to every cloud! This week, I actually gained back 3/4lb. ... probably the result of last week's misbehavior. Well, I must make certain this self-destructive trend stops here and now.

The Cross Stitch finishes:

Not Forgotten Farm's The Giving Sisters ... I tried another natural skin tone but it didn't look right either ... and although I really dislike the whole green-faced witch deal, I am forced to admit that, in this particular project using this particular linen, the green actually works better. As I said in a previous post, this project turned out to be a relatively quick stitch ... and a good thing, too ... I have to pick up some things at the framers next week and am glad to have this finished in time to bring along. That way it will be framed and ready for display in October. Because the design reminds me of old-fashioned woodcut illustrations, I am thinking something rather substantial, dark and intricately carved for the frame ... something in a Jacobean or Gothic style. I realize that may end up being rather costly but sometimes you just have to indulge an artistic impulse. My framer and I were discussing this whole issue and she shared an interesting fact with me that she learned at one of her professional seminars: in Renaissance times, the cost of framing a painting represented 2/3rds of the entire cost while the commissioned work itself represented only 1/3rd of the cost. That's how highly the Medicis, Borgias and Estes valued the art of the framer/wood carver. Now far be it from me to compare my work to a Da Vinci or Michelangelo but the principle remains the same. If you want to set a work off properly, be prepared to spend wisely on the frame. Eventually, I am going to have to learn to frame pieces myself ... clearly, with this sort of philosphy, I could run through far too much money far too quickly. I am trying to compensate by doing more non-framing finishing. For instance, I have plans to finish September's Halloween project, Esmeralda's House, as a cube or a tri-fold stand-up ... and I have another Halloween finish, Hat in a Cat, awaiting finish as a stuffed and weighted stand-up door stop.

Celtic Knotwork Heart, a free chart by Alodi Wolfsong of Field and Forest. I stitched this on an ivory colored 28ct mystery linen received in trade, rather coarse and loosely woven ... so much so that it looks more like a very fine needlepoint canvas than a cross stitch linen. I used three strands of DMC Black for the outline and one strand of Caron Watercolours Pomegranate for the colored fill. This was a quick project ... probably no more than 6 hours of stitching ... a little large for an ornament, which had been my first thought ... but will make a very nice center for a tote or pillow. I generally discard a complimentary chart once I have stitched it but I am saving this one ... I can definitely see it as an ornament done in silks on a 40ct linen and I am sure I will enjoy playing with the color possibilities when I stitch it again ... but not immediately ... I do have to get back to my monthly goals.

Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack O Lantern [see tote pictured above]: stitched on the same 28ct Country Cream 28ct linen I am using for my Quaker animals, using the suggested fibers with a very few substitutions. I am still trying to stitch from stash whenever possible. I fear I am beginning to become a hoarder of interesting fibers for their own sake ... and I don't want to end up as one of those crazy old people who have homes loaded with stuff and only narrow little aisles between the ceiling high clutter. To that end, whenever I can make a reasonable substitution from within my own stash, I will do so ... to save money, space and sanity.

And my current cross-stitch WIPs

Erynne Chard's I Am In My Garden, stitched on 28ct Silkweaver linen [Starquest] with Thread Gatherer's Silk n Color: Autumn on the Cape. Somewhere along the line I miscounted so that my bottom border is two stitches wider than my top ... I found one of the errors but have decided that it will be easier to remove the last two stitches on the far right of the bottom rather than frog 2/3rds of the bottom border. It won't change the look of the original design dramatically.

I have started stitching Workbasket's Quaker Cow and find it is stitching up more quickly than I had anticipated ... certainly more quickly than the Quaker Pig ... there is so much more negative space in the Cow.

And, last but certainly not least, a bit more work was done on The Fertile Circles Needlebook ... though, alas, I have not managed any more time stitching on the Beach Find Pansies project. I hope to stitch a bit more on both these pieces tomorrow and will post a photograph of my progress on Sunday.

I have been making a concerted effort to Stitch From Stash lately, finding a use for some linens received in trade that were not really what I usually like [for the Celtic Knotwork Heart and for the LHN The Pear Tree ornament], using partial skeins of fibers left over from other projects [the Caron Watercolours Pomegranate used in the Celtic Knotwork Heart and all of the fibers used in The Fertile Circles Needlebook had originally been purchased for my Spots of Fun Sampler from last fall] and substituting similar colors when I don't have the exact floss called for in a chart as I noted above in the caption to Mr. Jack O Lantern. All in all, I am feeling rather smug and frugal and industrious: working on sewing finishes, stitching from stash, clearing away household clutter. I figure it is only a matter of time before the universe redresses the balance and reminds me of my true place in the order of things. But until then, I am going to enjoy this brief period of self-righteousness for all it is worth.


mainely stitching said...

Love the long post and lovely pictures. It's great to hear from you!

Olga said...

beautiful stitching, luv the pear tree ornament!
luv from olga. (uk)

Nancy*Glory Bee said...

WOW! You've been very busy! I love all the stitching, especially the two witches. I think Halloween is my favorite holiday to stitch for. Off to find that pattern!

Rachel S said...

Those ornaments look wonderful!

I love the trick or treat bags. Perfect and it's something their gramma made them. They'll love that!

I think the frame idea you have will work out great. But keep an open mind. Treaty Fairy's copper frame was the furthest thing from my mind, but it worked! I never knew that about the framing, but it's not hard to imagine we do pay twice the cost of the stitching in the framing.

Erynne said...

Well, shucks! I didn't realize that you had started the garden design too! Busy lady! I love the fabby and thread ....looks dreamy!