Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Quaker Animal Finished and One Started

First, I have finished the Workbasket Quaker Cow ... and just in time to have met a September goal, I might add. I can't say I am as pleased with this Quaker animal as I have been with the others in the series. The face looks rather cartoonish to me. I think it is a result of the wide-eyed stare combined with the bulbous nose. The sheep, from the same leaflet, is ever so much more sedate with small eyes in a plain little unstitched face.

And, in the stitching equivalent of chain-smoking, I have started on Workbasket's Quaker Sheep. I must say I was a little concerned about how the suggested floss [Belle Soie Oatmeal Scone] would look on the country cream linen I have been using for all my Quaker quilt pieces. A preliminary floss toss showed sufficient contrast. But I am still afraid that floss will fade into the fabric once I start stitching with just two strands of this very pretty silk. Better to save the Oatmeal Scones for some snowflake ornaments on a slate blue or pale grey background. Therefore, I have decided to make this guy a black sheep and use Crescent Colors Blackbird. I got a really good start on this piece with two hours of early morning stitching before heading out to work at 9am.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And, Belatedly,Sunday Stitching Photos

My weekend projects:

Esmeralda's House [Brightneedle]: finished the attic. Now, if I do a room a week, I just might have this done in time for Halloween ... though it'll take another couple of hours to finish it as a wall hanging. I am not sure I can meet such a tight schedule but I will give it a shot because I am really enjoying this piece. Here's a close-up of the attic, I apologize for the fuzzy focus. I haven't been taking such good photos lately ... they look fine when viewed in the digital camera's viewscreen but then download like this. In any case, I have been ignoring other goals to stitch on this piece ... it is that much fun!!!

The Quaker Cow [Workbasket]: got quite a bit done on this ... just another couple of hours and I'll have a finish. But I had hoped to finish the Quaker Sheep as well this month ... but I got sidetracked by the five Halloween ornaments and Esmeralda's House. Sometimes, I just have to go with seasonal impulses. I have started decorating for Halloween, I have started browsing through some of my stitching motif books for Thanksgiving charts that can be made up as ornaments for the tree in the entry once I take down the Halloween ornaments. I have even culled some Christmas ornament charts from the binder where I save favorite Christmas charts. September through December is a great time of year for stitching ... such a lot of holiday decorating going on!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Christmas Ornaments In My Future

I didn't buy this years JCS Christmas Ornament issue ... having read some reviews and seen the pictures on blogs, I decided it was just as disappointing as last year's issue ... I stitched only one of the ornaments from the 2008 issue. Instead, I will confine my ornament stitching to some oldies but goodies from JCS issues past and from the 2008 Gift of Stitching issues. To this end, I pulled out two similarly themed charts from the 2005 JCS ornament issue: Prairie Schooler's Partridge and Pears [really gorgeous] and Sisters and Friends' On the First Day of Christmas. If I am still in the mood for more ornament stitching, there are the charts for Four Winter Wishes, Do You See What I See?, and The Pinecone Ornament from Gift of Stitching.
In addition to my current WIPs and other planned Christmas stitching, that should keep me more than busy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Stitching

I have been plugging away at Esmeralda's House and have stitched all the exterior details and have begun working on the attic ... it is really quite detailed and a great deal of fun. It would be wonderful if I could finish the entire attic today and still have time to put in an hour or two on Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie. It is a sunny, mild day and I could set up my stitching stand on the patio. A pot of tea, a few tea biscuits and stitching ... what could be better?

I'll post photos of progress tomorrow evening ... even if I don't manage to accomplish all I plan ... I tend to overestimate my abilities ... or more precisely, my stitching speed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Halloween Stitching

This year I decided to set up my Halloween tree in my entryway at home rather than in my office. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had a dozen ornaments ... counting the four I have made in the past few weeks. It'll soon be the very appropriate thirteen since the ribbon I needed to make Monsterbubbles Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon from Stitchery Row. I'll probably stitch Ghouls next week.

I haven't been doing as much stitching recently as I usually do. Now that the school year has started I have less leisure time. I find I am working through my lunch & dinner hours as well ... I usually manage to stitch for at least half an hour during my lunch and dinner breaks but at certain peak times [like Parent Orientation/Meet the Catechist, Mid Termss and Finals as well as Sacrament celebrations] I lose that luxury. I also find myself going into work earlier, working 11 or 12 hour days at this time of year, so I lose some early morning stitching time as well. That being said I have been working on Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House: I have completed the outline and the foundation and am currently working on the exteriors. When I purchased this chart [two years ago, I think] I was pleased by how "open" the design looked and assumed it would be a very quick and easy stitch. Now that I am actually stitching it, I am equally impressed by how detailed a design it really is and have revised my earlier assessment. While it is certainly not difficult, it clearly will not be a quick stitch. It feels like I am stitching a "Where's Waldo" picture - there are so many little vignettes, all meticulously and lovingly complex. This is not a complaint ... I am enjoying the piece. It's just that I am not sure it will be done for Halloween 2009 even if I drop work on my Quakers and my Autumn Faerie for a while. I plan on finishing this piece as a wall-hanging ... its size would make professional framing prohibitively costly ... especially considering the whimsical and seasonal nature of the piece.

I do have a three day weekend, starting this morning, so I expect to catch up on a lot of my stitching goals over the next few days.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

With the help of my cyber-friend

I tend to work right up to a deadline ... which is a kind way of saying I am a world class procrastinator. So, last week I decided to pull out a snowman chart I was planning to use to make a bell pull for my neice's bridal shower. I am giving her a "Your First Christmas Together" package which will include a set of snowman themed holiday dishes, a dozen cross-stitched Christmas ornaments, a promisory note for a Christmas wreath [one of my Rel. Ed. fundraisers] and the bell-pull. Typically, I'll be running out to buy the dishes Saturday afternoon [the shower is Sunday]. I do have the ornaments stitched ... but when I went to get the chart for the bell pull, it was nowhere to be found ... I suspect I threw it away since I am not really into snowmen. I went to the 123stitch message board and described the design ... a snowman with uptilted head, satin-stitched carrot nose on which he balanced a JABCo candy cane button ... I couldn't remember either the designer or the chart name. Well, xsgail from the board recognized the chart from my description and sent me her copy of Balancing Act as well as a second companion chart called Snowbody's Perfect. As luck would have it, I had all the Kreinik #4 braids and the candy cane button I needed [thank the Lord for a deep stash] and I substituted GAST Oatmeal for the suggested Anchor White. I am stitching this on a 25ct linen band in a tweed-like weave of white warp/undyed natural linen weft. The oatmeal just looks better than stark white on such a background, giving a tone on tone on tone on tone look. There's no point in posting a photo yet ... I have only finished the snowy ground and one of the red stars and a bit of the snowman ... so most of the stitching is either GAST Oatmeal or oo32 Kreinik braid [an opalescent white] and tends to fade into the fabric when photographed. Things will be different when all the red and gold #4 braid have added the needed contrast. I have a day off tomorrow and what with today and tomorrow's stitching I hope to have it all done for the shower ... probably at the very last minute ... but done, nonetheless.
Thank you, xsgail.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A few photos

Having given a pretty detailed accounting of my current stitching in last week's post, I thought it time to post a few photos.

The WIPs I have actually worked on in recent days:

I have stitched and finished two more Halloween Ornaments, complete with twisted cord ... I am really getting the hang of this stuff:
The front
and the back
of Glory Bee's Oct 31 Halloween ornament from the current JCS issue.

And Home Spun Elegance's free chart featuring a black cat jumping over a pumpkin [sorry about the photo being out of focus - it looked much better when viewed on the digital camera screen]: I used Waterlily 28ct linen and stitched over one with GAST Gold Leaf, Old Hickory, Fragrant Cloves and Bittersweet. There's a little more unstitched space on this ornament than I normally like ... I prefer a much tighter finish that fills most of the space but I was using some punched out cardboard circles leftover from an old Vacation Bible Club project as my form ... I never throw away things that have crafting or stitching potential, especially when such good quality cardboard involved, pre-punched in perfect circles, too.

And then there is the progress to-date on Workbasket's Quaker Cow.

Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House [I ordered my floss from Stitchery Row on Friday and received it on Saturday - WOW!!] When you look at the chart, it looks like such an open design that it ought to be a quick and easy stitch. But, now that I have read the chart and cut my fabric and begun the stitching, I doubt it will be done in time for this Halloween. While not quite a BAP, this will finish out at a little under 10" x 14" on 36ct and includes enough specialty stitches to add interest to such a large piece. I suspect I will have to order more of the WDW Pelican Grey ... I don't remember seeing any chart notation about needing more than one skein [the model was stitched one over two on 40ct] but I believe it will be necessary since I am stitching two over two on 36ct. I spent the better part of Sunday stitching on this piece and am pleased by my progress. It may not seem like a great deal but there was nearly as much counting as cross-stitching. You know the old carpenter's motto "Measure twice, cut once." Well, my stitching equivalent for this piece is "Count, recount and count yet again, never frog" ... don't I wish! The designer recommends stitching the outline of the house completely before filling in the rooms ... so careful counting is a must if everything is to line up properly.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back from the Framer

I dropped these two off at the framers way back in mid-June and got a call they were ready last week ... this is not poor service though: my framers do a lot of work for corporations and hospitals and such, and I give them my stuff with the understanding that my pieces will be done "in between" the big clients ... they always get my stuff done for my deadlines.

So back in time for Halloween and Fall decorating are

Halloween Faerie

and Spots of Fun Sampler [done in a Fall colorway]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stitching Bag Report

I thought instead of doing a standard WIP report, I would list the contents [and progress on] the items in the stitching bag I carry from home to work and back again.
JCS Sept/Oct. 2009 issue
This will probably stay in the stitching bag for the rest of the year since I will also be stitching the Monsterbubbles ornament, Halloween Revelry and Pomegranate Tapestry from this issue. I am currently stitching Glory Bee's Oct. 31 ornament, again on a higher count fabric then called for. Since I use my ornaments on one of those metal scrollwork table-top trees, I prefer smaller than usual ornaments. I generally substitute 32 or 36ct for the more usual 28ct or stitch over one on 25 or 28ct. In any case, I have just the lettering left to go ... I'll post a photo when it is assembled as a flat ornament. I have already made the twisted cord trim using DMC 920, 620 & 372 to match the GASTs: Fragrant Cloves, Gold Leaf & Old Hickory ... my husband , whose job is to hold one end of the cord as I man the drill, commented that I am "on a roll" with cording ... he should realize that I mastered cord-making just in time for the ornament making season ... and there will be a lot of the stuff made over the next few months. I am like a child with a new toy now that I actually know how to use my drill! I have ordered the few threads I didn't already have for the Monsterbubbles Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun, such a clever, off-beat and up-beat chart. I ordered from Stitchery Row in Endicott NY, a new-to-me shop and I have to say that I was very impressed by the friendliness of the gentleman who took my order and by the humor of his wife who interjected a few comments. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship since they carry so many of the special fibers I covet.
Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House: I ordered the Anchor and WDW for this since I didn't have them in my stash. I also ordered a few more of the DMC because I am using those in my current WIP, TW's Autumn Faerie, and I am afraid I won't have enough for both projects. I had planned on using this piece for my September Halloween piece until I realized how many flosses I was missing and substituting DMC for the Anchor would have meant trying to compare an Anchor color chart on a computer screen with a hand held DMC color chart. It just seemed easier to order the Anchor and the two WDW skeins I was missing. I hope to have the fibers within the next week and may still get to this piece this month but, just in case I don't, I have already stitched Glory Bee's Halloween Trio as my September Halloween "goal".
Workbasket's Quaker Cow and Sheep: I have made good progress on the Quaker Cow, having finished stitching the hindquarters and mid body area. I hope to have finished this piece by the end of the weekend. The Quaker Sheep is already kitted up with the Oatmeal Scones floss called for in the chart but I will have to stitch a small test swatch. I afraid that the floss will just fade into the Country Cream linen ... a floss toss shows sufficient contrast ... but only stitching will show the true effect.
Fertile Circle's Needlebook: I have continued to work on this a bit but there is no point in photographing it since the blending filament backstitching doesn't show up in a photograph [just as the gaps between the satin stitches rows of silk on the back cover don't show up in a photo] but, Lord, does it ever make a difference up close and personal. This sort of thing is the most boring and tedious of back stitching and I only do a bit of it when I am highly motivated ... I do expect to finish the piece this month ... even the sewing finish.
Beach Find Pansies Panel: I haven't done anymore on this in September and probably won't till I am done with the Fertile Circles Needlebook.
Workbasket's Rabbit Rondel Pincushion: I am assembling this as a mattress style cushion using ladder stitches ... but even with an Ott magnifying light, the threads in this over-one piece just seem to slip into the warp/woof of the linen whenever I try to work on it ... another piece I need to be highly motivated for ... I hope to muster up the energy before the month is done. It will be lovely when finally finished.
Homespun Elegance's Cat & Pumpkin Free Chart: I have stitched this many times before for trade and it always makes a hit. I pulled it out again when I realized I wasn't going to be able to give up any of the Glory Bee Halloween Trio ornaments. I need to contribute an ornament to a Grab Bag at a retreat I will be attending in October. I'll be starting on it shortly ... and just to make it a little more interesting, I'll be doing it on 28 ct, over one, and put it on a circular form ... when you do a design so often, you need to make all sorts of little changes to keep it fresh.
Non-stitching Items: I have these in the bag because I always have it with me and the theory is I will then be able to run my errands/do my business in the course of the day ... but with the beginning of the school year and all its accompanying chaos ... well, I do get all tied up at work.
  • The DMV receipt for the plates my daughter turned in two weeks ago. I have got to get them to the All-State office to get the car pulled from our insurance.
  • My new debit card, I need to call in to activate it and then put it in my wallet.
  • Vermont Country Store catalog: the good news is that I have gone down a dress size, the bad news is I need to order another dress to get me through the remaining warm weather. If I continue to procrastinate, I may have to fine a new catalog and search out some acceptable dresses for cooler weather. [I have been carrying this catalog around for three weeks now]
  • and, just added, the charts that I have to mail to my September giveaway winner.

Not in the bag: TW's Autumn Faerie, which is set up on my stitching stand for evening stitching.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Memoriam

In memory of all the innocents who lost their lives 8 years ago and in recognition of all those brave rescue workers who rushed in, heedless of the danger, to save them. And special prayers for survivors and rescue workers and reclamation workers whose health has been forever affected.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Halloween Chart Giveaway Winner

First and foremost, thanks to all who participated in my Halloween Giveaway. I enjoyed reading all your comments and I thank you all for your kind birthday wishes. I was also stunned by the response. This giveaway sets the record for comments to any post on my blog: 44 comments. The Christmas in July Giveaway of four Homespun Elegance charts only garnered 12 comments. And the number of followers of my blog nearly doubled as a result of this giveaway. Does this mean that Halloween is more popular than Christmas? Or as the kids say: is Halloween the new Christmas? At least so far as stitchery is concerned?

In any case, having so many participants [and some of those who earned a second chance with a blog post or link], I thought it time to try the online randomizer to select the winner fairly. I had always avoided randomizing since it sounded so very high tech. Imagine my surprise when I finally went to and found that all I had to do was type in the highest number in my range [50] and I immediately had a winner: Cole who was # 37.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Halloween Trio by Glory Bee

These have been a "fun" stitch: quick, easy and attractive. I was lucky enough to have all but two of the called for GAST cotton overdyes in my stash and was able to substitute reasonably similar fibers for the missing ones. I used a higher count fabric than called for because I made ornaments: Silkweaver 36ct Days Gone By. And, because ornaments seem to "embellish" well, I have added beads to the borders. And I have trimmed these ornaments with braided cord made using DMC flosses closest to the GAST in the ornaments. This works well for two reasons: 1]GAST comes in pre-cut lengths and can't be used for cording, 2] DMC is a more economical alternative for cording.

Fright Night: This is backed with black broadcloth and trimmed in tri-color hand made braided cord: black, green and orange. I used some vintage jet glass beads to replace the black stitches in the border. The beads were salvaged from a braided/beaded necklace, circa 1890. I still have the necklace ... it's just not quite so fat after a few strands of the silk carrying the beads broke. I just gently extracted the broken strands, saved the beads and continue to enjoy the necklace.

BOO: I used some Mill Hill orange beads around the border and backed this with some plain black broadcloth. It is trimmed with braided cord in black,green and orange to pick up the colors in the ornament.

Treat Time: I used the same Mill Hill beads around the border as I did for BOO. I backed it with a lightweight upholstery jacquard in lavender and trimmed it with bi-color hand made braided cord in lavender and orange.

As I said, these have been a fun stitch. I'll be keeping two for myself and using one for an exchange ... and at this point, I am finding it hard to decide which I will send out to my exchange partner.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pattern

There is a lovely chart make the rounds from stitcher to stitcher, from place to place ... proclaiming the comforts of stitching. It's a message that resonates for every member of the stitching community and makes us all part of a sisterhood of the needle arts. If you would like to be considered as the next to receive the pattern, check out

Friday, September 4, 2009

September's Giveaway: a Halloween theme

While doing a spot of stash grazing, I discovered that I have slightly more Halloween charts than Christmas charts to stitch. Not surprising really, since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I have determined to stitch one Halloween project a month until I catch up with my stash. I stitched Glory Bee's Flying Monkeys many years ago, her Which Witch in July and her Halloween Trio in the past few days as well as Fanci That's Mr. Jack O Lantern in August. I will be offerring these gently used charts as my September giveaway, in time to stitch up for Halloween. The giveaway, as usual, is open to all stitchers: from the US, Canada and the international community ... though I know few countries make as big a fuss over Halloween as the US. Since today is my birthday, I shall celebrate by adding a bonus, a mystery grab bag of miscellaneous charts: hint - my tastes are very eclectic and so is this grab bag.
To enter, just leave a comment at the end of this post telling why you enjoy stitching Halloween themed charts ... to double your chances of winning, mention/link this giveaway on your own blog. The winner will be chosen on Sept. 10. Good luck to all who enter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Finishing SAL

On the 123 stitch Message board that I frequent, I proposed a finishing SAL. I guess all the finishing I have been doing lately has gotten me more interested in exploring various techniques for finishing stitched objects ... be those methods simple or complex, and be those objects small, medium or large. I have begun to take more notice of other people's sewing finish photos on the blogs and message boards I frequent and am very impressed with the creativity of the members of the online stitching community. I have also become addicted to tutorials. Then, of course, there is the fact that wall space is at a premium in my 6 room townhouse and professional framing is a touch expensive.
In any case, this is what I envision:
Setting up a Group blog where the members can post their finishes, with brief descriptions of techniques and materials used and with links to any appropriate tutorials. There would be no limits as to type and number of finishes shared each month. In other words, September won't be flat fold month, October won't be mattress pin cushion month, etc. Members can do whatever finishing tasks come to hand, based on what they like to stitch. A member won't be dropped if they do only one finish a month as opposed to the obsessive compulsive types who do 2 or 3 a week.
Each member would introduce themselves in their first post by answering the following questions:
  1. How many cross stitch pieces requiring a sewing finish are currently in your sewing basket?
  2. What are your most common sewing projects, e.g.: pillows, ornaments, flat folds, bell pulls, wall hangings, biscornus, etc?
  3. List a few of your favorite suppliers [with links] of finishing materials, e.g.: fabrics, buttons, trims, hardware, etc.
  4. How much time each week or month are you willing to devote to sewing finishes?
  5. Are you a hand sewer, machine sewer or both?
  6. What will be your first finishing project?
If you are interested, post a comment. If there is sufficient interest, I'll try to get a blog up and running by the 15th.