Friday, April 30, 2010

Assessing April Goals


Focus Project: Still TW Autumn Faerie. Only a few hours on this piece this month.

Travel Project: Brightneedle's Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui. Nothing done on this again this month.

Bride's Tree SAL February ornament [Heart] Finished 4/21. March Ornament [Flower or Flower Basket] Finished 4/23. April [Rabbit] Ornament. Finished 4/30.

RR piece: Finish border, dividers and top panel of my own piece and mail by the 15th. DONE. While I am very pleased with the border, I probably will not be stitching an acorn again in a very long time ... even though fall motifs are among my favorites and I have loads of acorn charts. Each one of those 81 acorns took 25 minutes to stitch ... that's 37 hours right there ... what was I thinking?

Medium Project: Finish Workbasket's Mermaids Singing. DONE

Christmas piece: Finish Heartstrings Santa Factory February Santa with Heart. DONE.

Thanksgiving Ornament: PS Turkey from Harvest Time leaflet. Started 4/28 but not finished.

UFO Countdown Project: Finally move on the Peacock Biscornu and then, while the weather is still cool, pick up the Jacobean Afghan. Nothing done on the UFOs again this month.

Sewing finishes: complete at least five projects from the finishing basket. DONE: Seven Christmas ornaments, three Thanksgiving ornaments and one fringed pillow pin cushion.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thanks to Yesterday's Visitors ...

Thanks to the folks who read and comment here, I now have my next two Bride's Tree charts: April's Rabbit symbolizing Hope and May's Bird symbolizing Happiness ... and as a little bonus, a non-Quaker, but absolutely lovely primitive Rabbit chart. This is one of the main reasons I love blogging: it creates a stitching community with which to network. No one individual could possibly be aware of all the stitching resources available on the internet ... but extend your network by including even just a few blogging buddies ... the sky's the limit ... problem solved ... joy reigns.

The commenters suggested a few links, those links led to still other links ... in less than 10 minutes of focused researching, I had two charts perfect for my Bride's Tree SAL Quaker ornaments and another for the sheer pleasure of it. And the links now are part of my blog archive, ready to be retrieved should I encounter similar needs in the future. A wealth of information quite literally at my fingertips.

Oh, yes, I do love blogging.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend Progress Report # 16

I am posting this a day late as I've been very scattered in my attention this past week ... stitching a little bit here and a little bit there. Work has been crazy, too, consuming most of my attention and nearly all of my leisure time [aka stitching time]! As a result, I have been working on small projects.

Here are some photos of the pieces I have stitched in an effort to catch up with the Bride's Tree SAL in which I have been participating:

--February [LOVE]: Workbasket's Quaker Heart. Stitched on 28 ct. Glasgow Linen [color: raw linen] using GAST Cranberry overdyed cotton, finished as a fringed pillow ornament with a hemp cord hanger. The back: a border and our monogram stitched in same color on same linen. FINISHED 2/22/10.
--March [BEAUTY IN THE HOME]: The Sisterhood's Quaker Flower. Stitched on 28 ct. Glasgow Linen [color: raw linen] using Belle Soie silks Tortoise Shell and Lara Lilac, finished as a fringed pillow ornament with a hemp cord hanger. The back: a border and our monogram stitched in the same colors on the same linen. FINISHED 2/23/10.

--April [HOPE]: The only Quaker chart of a rabbit I am aware of is already in my possession: Workbasket's Quaker Rabbit. However, I have already stitched this as a quilt block. Even if I were to stitch it over one, it would be far too large for an ornament. Therefore, I have been looking at other rabbit charts that I can adapt by replacing some of the solid stitching with a Quaker motif. First, I checked for complimentary charts but those I did find were too self-consciously cute or childish for my purposes. Ultimately, my research led me to the following Prairie Schooler charts: Farm Fresh [108], P-Q-R [111], April [152] and Fall Fields [159]. Further research is needed to determine which of these charts best fits my size requirements of 50-60 stitches by 70-80 stitches. Since I will need to purchase whatever chart I settle on, I will have to wait till May [Birds/Happiness] to catch up by stitching two Bride's Tree ornaments next month as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

At long last, another finish ...

Workbasket's Mermaids Singing, stitched on Silkweaver's 32ct Monster Mash Cashel linen, in the charted Crescent and Caron colors. It took just two and half hours to couch all the Caron wool on the seaweed strands. I had originally thought I'd finish this as a pillow but now I am thinking of making it into a tote in which to carry books to the pool this summer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Browsing the Needlework Show

Since I have purchased charts from less than ten of the designers listed in the current Needlework Show, I decided to broaden my horizons and browse each page this time around. While much of what I saw was quite lovely, very little appealed enough to actually make the mental wish list.

A large number of the designers listed design in the European style ... pretty enough to look at but not my cup of tea at all. Then there were all the reproduction samplers and Quaker samplers. Certainly more to my taste, but I have more than enough of these type projects in my stash to keep me busy for quite some time.

And, of course, there were the cartoonish, the saccharine sweet and the motto driven designs ... all of which I passed over very quickly with the click of the mouse ... definitely not my style.

I made a note of only five charts that interested me ... though I am not sure I shall actually get to the point of purchasing more than one or two.

Crab-Apple Hill's Zelda's Fancy Hat, Midnight's Crow, Brunhilda's Midnight Ride made the short list. Even if I don't end up purchasing any of these, since I already have quite a few Halloween themed charts waiting to be stitched, I'll be keeping an eye on this designer. I do like the spare style.

Designs by Lisa's A Crow Above was another that caught my eye. I have a thing for Crows, Ravens and Acorns ... don't know why ... just do.

A Scholehouse for the Needle's Acorne Pynne Keepe was another I quite liked, in spite of the $23.00 price tag. This one may actually make it into my stash though after my recent Round Robin [with its 81 acorns] I thought I would go quite a while before wanting to see another acorn. I do tend to wonder, though, why most of the design studios with self-consciously antiquarian names seem to have very pricey charts ... must be the snob appeal.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #15

First the Round Robin which has dominated my stitching recently:

The deadline was Thursday, April 15. Because I was so close to finishing my own panel and didn't wish to mail it off with those small bits of negative space spoiling the effect, that I kept working on it Friday. Unfortunately, I finished it after the Post Office closed ... next time I won't use my Jeeves and Wooster CD collection to keep me company during stitching against dealine ... I must have spent as much time watching as stitching. Since I work Saturday mornings, that eliminated a trip to the Post Office which closes at 11am and I work till Noon. I'll just have to send it off Monday morning, probably by one day delivery to make up for my tardiness.
Just to help you track the progress: this is what it looked like on Monday morning, April 12 [see photo on top left] ... and this is what it looked like just before it was finally stitched Friday evening, April 16 [see photo on top right]. And here is a close-up of the top panel. When I get it back, I may add a dog following the wagon, if I can find one in the right scale. I did have to condense the design a bit since the space in the RR was some eight rows shorter and 10 rows narrower than the chart ... I also removed the large trees in the left and right foreground, replacing them with pumpkins. It seem to work better with the smaller scale of my piece.

I haven't received my first "guest-stitching" RR yet, so Sunday I indulged myself in working on my Monsterbubbles' Jail [from the Town Square SAL] which is progressing nicely.
This coming week, I will concentrate on finishing the Monsterbubbles Jail, and on couching the Watercolours on my Mermaid's Singing from Workbasket as well as kitting up and starting the February, March and April ornaments for the Bride's Tree SAL. It will be a real pleasure to add a few finishes to my sidebar. The Mermaid's Singing piece requires only a few hours of work to qualify. I received the proper linen for the Bride's Tree SAL earlier this month [Glasgow 28ct linen in the shade raw linen] and th echart I have selected for the February ornament, the Quaker Heart freebie from Workbasket, and for the March ornament, the Quaker Flower freebie from Workbasket, are both quick stitches. Since I want to keep to a Quaker theme for the whole series, I may have to adapt/design my own Quaker Rabbit chart by lifting a Quaker motif from one of my samplers and placing it in the haunch of a rabbit chart sized for an ornament. Before you know it, I'll be another month behind once May comes around requiring the Bird's Nest ornament ... I suspect that the only way I'll be able to keep a Quaker theme in that one is to insert a circular Quaker motif as a Sun above/behind the nest. I have the perfect Fish chart [Poisson du Avril] for June, if I can only find it again ... I used it to make a biscornu and scissor fob set ... just a little tweaking will convert it into a Quaker Fish, for my Quaker ornament series. And no doubt, my first guest-stitching piece for the RR will arrive early this week ... I have picked out a Snowman chart, All Wrapped Up, that I think will work quite nicely as long as I shorten him by 4 or 5 rows ... not a problem since he is very attenuated to begin with. That should keep me more than occupied during the remainder of April. I shall have to wait till May to get back to TW's Autumn Faerie and Brightneedle's Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui and Sue Hillis' Cookie Santa.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stitching Pool Winner

Well, once the dust settled, all the work on the RR was nearly completed on April 14 , a date chosen by Vicky. As of 10am on the 15th, I still had about four hours of stitching left. I am going to do my level best to get it done by late afternoon and mail it before the post office closes ... just making the deadline.
Since Vicky came the closest, the floss will be winging its way to her within a day or so ... that is, if anything sent by the US Postal Service can be said to wing its way anywhere. I chose what I think of as Spring flower colors, the colors of crocuses, hyacinths and snow drops for the cotton overdyes and the color of rich, moist earth for the bamboo floss. The WDW is called Santorini. The Crescent Colors is called Purple Aster. The GAST is called Presidential Blue. And the Mandarin Floss goes by the humble label M819. With everything coming into bud and bloom, these seemed to be very appropriate choices.

Oh, and just so you can see exactly how much I managed to complete, I'll take a photo just before I put the RR piece in the mail. Look for the photo in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Official: the Mad Days are Upon Me

This is the time of year when I go a little bit mad ... and start singing softly just under my breath "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell..."
Between now and May 15, I will survive
  • administering and grading 7th grade quarter finals
  • reviewing, evaluating and signing all progress reports for Grades 1-6
  • conducting a review for recalcitrant 7th graders who have to take a comprehensive test before entering Confirmation prep
  • grading said Comprehensive test
  • preparing for and conducting a 2 hour hands-on, five station mini retreat for the First Communion Class
  • Four First Communion rehearsals
  • Two First Communions
  • 3 Confirmation practices [one for the music - have you ever tried to get 8th graders to sing hymns picked by the 68 year old pastor?]
  • 2 Confirmations
  • 1 luncheon with the Bishop, the pastor, the priests and deacons ... only woman at the table, only lay person, as well
  • 1 Volunteer Appreciation Reception
  • getting out a registration mailing ... and then dealing with all the parents who think they deserve special consideration [fee-wise, placement-wise]because their children are the only ones among my 500 students who are of any importance.
  • developing and submitting the 2010-11 calendar
  • beginning the arduous task of recruiting new catechists to replace the four or five who leave every year ... this time with a few new frills, I'll need a teen RCIA team as well and a special ed Confirmation prep catechist ... these last special assignments are always difficult since I must find just the right person for the students involved ... it's not as forgiving as recruiting for a classful of children.
So the primal scream you hear coming from the vicinity of NYC is mine!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Town Square: Indy 2006 Market

I found my CD ... long ago received from The Silver Needle as a premium with an sizable order, back when I was in my collecting phase and was still making sizable orders regularly. It had been taped to the underside of a Just Nan chart and I forgot all about it. This would make a great RR or SAL project or a series of ornaments if stitched over 2 on 36ct or 40 ct. Just what I needed, right ... another 42 charts??? But I really like these little gems and I have already started on my first chart. Will I stitch all 40+? It's like that old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Well, I'll be stitching the Town Square one building at a time.
Now to decide: do I want to stitch this as a wallhanging with several "blocks" of buildings, or individually over 2 on 28ct to make quilt squares or a bunch of stand-ups or cubes, or over 1 on 36 or 40ct as ornaments. I can see myself dividing these charts into rows by type: government buildings [firehouse, town hall, school, train depot, etc.], crafting shops [framing, quilt, knitting, fiber, cross-stitch, button, etc.], food & gift shops [tea shoppe, bakery, cafe, ice cream and sweet shops, gourmet, primitive, tannebaum, antique, books] and all the others [general store, toyshop, haberdashery]. So many designers and support companies [framing, button, fiber, etc.] are represented that the CD is like a snapshot of the industry in 2006.
I know one thing, though, I am stitching the Monsterbubbles Jail first, for no better reasons than that it is quirky and clever and mad and I simply want to stitch it. Next will be the Saloon and the Train Station ... I am not sure what it says about my character that these 3 charts jumped out at me ... of all the 42. Perhaps it means I am destined to get all likkered up at the saloon, tossed in jail to dry out, escape and make my getaway by train!
I posted about my find on the 123stitch message board and discovered that there are quite a few others who own this CD. It gave me the idea to start a SAL group blog. If anyone reading this post would like to join, please leave a comment below. As I read the copyright notice on these charts, it is my understanding that only retailers who attended the show have the right to distribute the charts ... so I, as an individual, can not share them. But I do know that The Silver Needle does still have them listed on their website ... when I got my CD, it came as a premium with an order at $5.00 to cover the cost of producing the CD. That's $5.00 for 42 charts ... all about the size of the typical LHN chart. Not a bad deal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #14

My weekend progress report is a day late because I started a really good book yesterday afternoon and couldn't [wouldn't]put it down long enough to get on the computer. I highly recommend Neil Gaimon's Neverwhere. I am a little more than half way through the book. It is a fascinating satirical commentary on our culture and I almost resent the fact that I shall have to go to work today instead of finishing the novel.
So, I have come to the end of my Easter recess and will have to trek on back to work today ... somedays I feel retirement can't come too soon ... other days I worry that I may not be able to afford to retire. Anyway, it has been a productive week here at home: some sewing, some gardening, some errand-running, some house-keeping, some reading, lots of cooking ... and, of course, some stitching.

Most of my stitching time has been spent on my RR piece and I have made a substantial amount of progress since I posted a picture yesterday morning. I have filled in the dividers with trees similar to the ones in the PS village scene in the top panel but using the same silks as I did for the acorns. I also got quite a bit more done in the village scene. Hence, I do believe another photo is in order. I may actually finish this a day or two before deadline ... wouldn't that be a surprise?

I have completely ignored my usual WIPs, what with the RR deadline looms menacingly. But ... I do need a little variety in my stitching and all that back-stitching on the acorns was getting to me. And, as evidence of my chronic startitis, Monsterbubbles' Jail from the Indy Market 2006 Town Square. I've taken some very slight liberties with the floss colors so that I can stitch from stash. Instead of GAST Aged Pewter for the main stone I am using WDW Dolphin and for the pointing stone I am using GAST Tin Bucket. I did have some Aged Pewter in my stash but not enough, I suspect, to do the whole building since I am stitching this piece over two on 28ct instead of over one as charted. Then I had to change out the color of the pointing stone since it needed to be darker than the main stone. Also, I didn't have any WDW Pistachio [for the lightning] in my stash but after looking it up on the website decided that Schneckley is a very close match. I am going to try and keep this series as economical as possible while remaining true to the general spirit of the project. So I will be using as much fabric and fiber from stash as possible. No doubt, I'll have to make a few purchases here and there but, really, what's the point of having all this stuff if I don't use it?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Giveaway Winner/ Stitching Pool Update

It is unusual but I have two giveaways running at the same time, so I shall report on them in the same post.

The monthly giveaway winner is Alex, whom I have e-mailed with a request for a snail mail address. The charts should go out next week.

As for the stitching pool, here it is the 10th of the month and I am still slogging away at my RR piece preparation. This a photo of my progress as of 8:00am today. This eliminates Shari who chose 4/7, Linda who chose 4/8, and Paula C who chose 4/9. I fear Myra who chose 4/10 will soon fall off the board as well since even I, eternal optimist that I am, do not anticipate finishing up work on the piece today. That leaves Nic [4/11], Mary [4/12], Carol [4/13] and Vicky [4/14] and it's not looking good for Nic either even though I intend to spend most of today and tomorrow stitching. I wonder why no one chose the 15th, since I am beginning to wonder if I shall be working on this piece right up to the moment I actually seal the envelope and drop it off in the mail!
At least all the back-stitching and long-stitching is done on those 81 acorns ... what was I thinking !!??!! Today I will be working on my own panel and hope to get a substantial amount done. As you can see, I still have the dividers to fill in and a little over half my own panel to stitch and some charts to create for the other stitchers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Some thoughts on Pricing Trends in Stitching

While I firmly believe needlework designers need to be justly compensated for their creative talent, I find that some of the things I like are now beyond my range. True, the production costs [printing, photography, packaging] of chart designers are rising rapidly as well as the cut the distributors take. I understand all this. It's inevitable that prices must rise in this sector of the economy just as it does in all others. It's just that when chart prices rise dramatically or when obvious sets of small items are split off into individual charts, there will be reaction from the consumer. I find myself rethinking purchases. Charts stay on my mental wish list longer before purchasing and some drop off it altogether before a purchase is ever made. In a recent post on the 123 message board, I aired some of these thoughts and discovered that I am not alone in my thinking. As I read blogs, I notice that more and more stitchers are stitching from stash. The latest trend seems to be the resurrection of UFOs. New charts are, after all, luxury items ... and in a tight economy, luxury items are the first to go. I have to wonder what impact this will have on the industry as a whole. The likely outcome will be a vicious cycle of still fewer shops, of fewer designers, of fewer producers of high end supplies like linen and fiber and of ever escalating prices. It is a dilemma. As a stitcher, I want to support the industry and my favorite designers and manufacturers of needleart supplies. As a responsible householder [especially as I near retirement], I need to steward my resources wisely. As a member of the human family, I need to divert some of my financial resources to those most vulnerable in such a difficult economy and those resources must necessarily come from my leisure time budget.
My Purely Personal Response:
For budgetary and philosophical reasons, I have decided to limit my purchase of charts to five in 2010, spending most of my stitching budget on a stitching retreat and on the fabric and floss needed to stitch up my already extensive stash of charts. I am trying to simplify my life. The simple truth is I have enough charts in my stitching center to keep me busy for the next five years. Limiting my purchases of new charts is a sensible way to go. So, I recently made a note of some designs I really liked from the Nashville Market of several weeks ago. Now that these designs are in the stores and online shops like 123stitch, I have priced a few with an eye to purchasing them in the near future.

As a major fan of Blackbird Designs, I just loved Bird in Hand and at a mere $6.29 at 123stitch, this was a no brainer. I ordered it several days ago.

I absolutely loved Primitive Needle's Black'd Sky. It can be found at 123stitch for $17.99 which is close to the top of my range but still doable. I will certainly pick this up in the near future.

I also liked Prairie Moon's Martini Witches ... thinking it would make a great companion piece to my framed Man Into Credit Card from Twisted Stitches ... but at $12.49 at 123stitch, though quite reasonable, I don't think I'll be buying it. Given my self-imposed limits, I don't think it's worth using one of my chart purchases to echo a joke already enjoyed, if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I can not possibly justify the purchase of Just Nan's Needle Tweets ... which I thought were absolutely adorable and just perfect for making as gifts for stitching buddies or using in exchanges. These are shown together wherever I have seen them pictured, which led me to assume one chart has all three. Not so, oh naive little stitcher! Each one of the Trio is sold seperately and comes with embellishments @ $12.50 a chart, add in the linen cuts [if you use the recommended fabric] ... the entire set comes to $52.50 at Silver Needle [I didn't see these items listed on 123stitch] ... and that's before you purchase the floss with which to stitch them ... they use WDW overdyed cotton floss in three shades I just don't happen to have in my stash so add on another $6.00 even at Joanne's reduced prices for WDW ... Well, now the total cost is $58.50. And this for charts that probably don't involve more than 50 stitches for each little bird ... most of the charm of these pieces is in the clever finishing. A little too rich for my blood! And that doesn't even take into consideration the pricey little decorative straight pins Just Nan suggests for accessorizing the dear little birds. What attracted me to them in the first place was that they would be sweet little "somethings" to include in an exchange, along with the usual plethora of stuff one packs up ... hey, I am not a Scrooge, but at nearly $20 a needle tweet, I couldn't include very much more in a given exchange without over-spending dramatically ... and, let's face it, a lot of the fun of sending and receiving exchanges is to get a box full of neat stuff.
And while I am certainly willing to pay a premium price for something that really "calls" to me ... lately that seems to be limited to large scale projects, samplers and such. While I did like Just Nan's Needle Tweets, I won't pay a premium price for something I consider merely "cute" or even "very cute". Even though I am an experienced enough stitcher and seamstress to duplicate them with my own "inspired by..." chart using materials I already have in my own stitching and sewing stash, I won't do that. I like to think of myself as very creative, but the incontrovertible fact is that I would never have come up with such a clever idea myself ... hence to duplicate it would be theft of intellectual property.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I love reading other stitchers blogs ... it expands my stitching horizons, it delights my eye, it creates my stitching community. But most of all, there is a certain creative cross-pollinating going on. I get so many ideas that serve as jumping off points for my own forays into the needlearts. Sometimes, the germ of an idea becomes a full blown project. An example: seeing small plastic rings couched with satin stitches on the Pin Tangle blog became my Fertile Circles project. And at other times, seeing a fiber used differently by another stitcher solves a nagging little problem of my own. An example, in a recent post on Mainely Stitching, Barbara showed a lovely little pillow finish trimmed with some eyelash knitting yarn ... which I don't have but can duplicate with multiple strands of Rainbow Gallery Faux Fur from my stash ... just the thing to brighten my drab little Heartstrings Santa with a Heart Christmas ornament. I wasn't really happy with the plain mini-pillow finish, it looked a little lumpy and the whip stitches are always evident to my eye ... no matter how small or neat I try to make them.

So here are the before and after pictures. :

The photo on the left is my lumpy little pillow ornament. And the photo on the right is the new improved version, using some ecru Rainbow Gallery Faux Fur to soften the lumpy edges and conceal the whipstitching at the bottom. I also added two little buttons in coordinating colors at the top to eliminate some of the excess negative space. I usually trim my ornaments more closely ... don't know what I was thinking this time.

Thank you, Barbara ... you are my problem solving hero!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stitching in an alternate universe

Easter recess is one of those blessed foretastes of retirement: time to cook healthy meals instead of ordering take-out at 8:30pm, time to run errands without cramming everything into the lunch hour, time for housekeeping up to the standards of my more energetic youth, time to sit in the sun on the back patio and stitch ... but best of all, time to tackle some sewing finishes.

Now we all know the universe is governed, supposedly, by the laws of Newtonian physics, quantum physics, etc. Well, as I have had time to sit about and mull, I have developed a theory of finishing physics: even during those periods when cross-stitch finishes are few and far between the resulting sewing finishes required will continue to grow in geometric progression in relation to the cross-stitch finishes. How else can I explain the following? A] thus far this year I have completed only eight cross stitch finishes, all but two of which already have been sewn into useful or decorative objects. And, b] the contents of my sewing finish basket are not noticeably diminished, indeed they are overflowing. As 2010 began, I counted 19 "to sew" finishes in the basket, now there are 32. Only 8 new cross-stitch projects were completed, 6 of which received sewing finishes within mere weeks of the cross stitch completion. Logic would indicate that the finishing basket should now contain 27 projects minus the 6 projects that were finished almost immediately leaving a total of 21 projects. My conclusion: stitching and sewing must exist in an alternate universe where the laws of straightforward mathematics simply do not apply. That's my theory and I am sticking to it. After all, I am much too old to return to kindergarten and re-learn counting skills!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #13

Since last week was Holy Week, with its extra church services and spring cleaning and shopping and preparing for Easter dinner, it was another week I didn't stitch all that much. I did post a few pictures on April 3 of progress on pieces in my regular WIP rotation but I have since reverted back to my Round Robin piece and will try to stick to that till it is ready to mail.

I am not including a photo of the progress on the Autumn 2010 RR ... it would not be particularly dramatic since it is mostly back-stitching and outlining the acorns in the border ... but still it is progress. The weather has been particularly fine these past few days so I have been enjoying some outdoor stitching and this project is perfect for that. No need for a chart when back-stitching the repetitious border motifs ... just one shade of floss and one small scissor to keep in a pocket ... nothing fussy at all.

And I finished my Heartstrings Santa Factory February Santa with Heart ... my husband and I enjoyed a Jesse Stone/Tom Selleck movie marathon Saturday night ... during which I sat in my favorite straight back chair near my magnifying lamp and stitched on this piece. Since this is on 40ct, I tend to pick it up whenever I am near my magnifying lamp.

Also I did a few sewing finishes but have lots more to attend to. The first is my Luck o'the Irish fringed pillow pinchushion, front & back. The front [or top] is stitched on antique ivory linen in the suggested GAST floss but for the back [or bottom] I used a green linen and stitched the same border using some GAST Oatmeal and added my initial in one of the greens. Next is my Homespun Elegance Wooly Tyme November Turkey stitched up as a Thanksgiving ornament. I added a bit of cotton lace to the bottom of this because I felt like doing something a little different. But the rest of the finish is very conventional with just a touch of home made twisted cording [DMC 729]. And finally, one more Prairie Schooler Annual Santa Card stitched on 32 ct Autumn Sunrise linen in the suggested DMC and finished as a flat ornament with handmade twisted cord trim [DMC 501]. I have loads more sewing finishes in my basket and I hope to get quite a few done while I am off this week. Top priorities will be finishing the teddy bear tote, assembling my two remaining stitched Thanksgiving ornaments, sewing up my Handblessing Autumn Lace bookmark and hemstitching the LHN Season's of ... series and affixing them to the pre-made pillows with the fabric covered buttons provided.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April Giveaway

It is time for another monthly giveaway. And although I know it is Easter Sunday, I will be giving away a selection of new and/or gently used Christmas charts ... see photos. The first photo on the left shows two Victoria Sampler charts: Gold & Myrrh from Thea's Gifts of the Magi series. The second photo, on the right, shows a Rosewood Manor Christmas ornament chart, a lovely little stylized reindeer. And the last photo, again on the right, shows two Calico Crossroads charts, a Christmas stocking called Share Your Heart and an ornament called Holly Mittens as well as Heartstrings Santa Factory April card [Santa with Noah's Ark Toy] and The Sweetheart Tree's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Four ornament [with embellishments]. So far this year, there has been no rhyme or reason to my stitching, and I am afraid my giveaways are going to reflect that for awhile. I started out focusing on my TW BAP which supplanted my usual practice of stitching Christmas items all through January. Then, in February, just as I was getting a rhythm going with a Bride Tree SAL ornament a month, a Thanksgiving ornament a month, a small/medium Christmas piece a month with a main focus on TW ... I got startitis and needed the cheerful colors of Workbasket's Mermaid's Singing and the spring-like delicacy of the Plimoth scissor keep from Antique Sampler & Needlework Quarterly. Finally, in March, I upset the entire applecart by joining a RR and stitching an overly ambitious border and top panel on my own piece ... almost to the exclusion of all other projects. So instead of having some more appropriately Spring-like items to give away this month, I am stuck back in January ... hence the Christmas chart giveaways.

If you wish to enter your name for this charts giveaway, the usual conditions will apply:
-- open to all stitchers
-- leave a comment below as to why you are interested in the giveaway
-- include an e-mail address in your post if clicking on your name will not lead me to an e-mail link
-- a winner will be selected on the 10th of the month and informed by e-mail
-- winners are asked to commit to PIF charts to other stitchers through message boards, guilds or stitching groups or to donate the charts to a women's shelter or prison, a nursing home or some other venue where a stitcher would enjoy them.

Good luck to all who choose to enter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A very brief intermission

I have eased off a little, for a very brief time, on the RR and gotten back to some of my regular WIPs ... I needed the change of pace and the gratification of closing in on a few finishes. Today, it'll be back to focusing on the RR ... after all there is a deadline looming in my not-too-distant future.

So for the past two days I worked on the following:

Heartstrings Santa Factory February Card: Santa with Heart. Since this is stitched on 40ct, I can only work on it indoors with my magnifying lamp. With the weather being so lovely, I have been doing a lot of my stitching outdoors. So while the other two projects, seen below, have occupied most of my time, I did manage to do a bit more on this piece which is now a little more than half finished.

Antique Sampler & Needlework Quarterly, Summer 2009, Plimoth Scissor Keep. This is quite a different sort of project for me: worked on Tokens and Trifles cards, primarily worked in back-stitch with very few cross stitches, finished with tiny little closely spaced blanket stitches. I just have the lavendar flower and date to work on the back piece. Then I'll need to choose a lining fabric and assemble the two sides to make a sheath. It will be a lovely and delicate stitching accessory when done. It will also be the sort of chart I know I will revisit whenever I need a pretty little gift for a stitching buddy or for an exchange.

Last but not least, I picked up Workbasket's Mermaids Singing again ... and really got into it. This one is so close to being finished that it literally pains me to set it down again in favor of the RR. All I have left to do is the couching of the Caron Watercolours wool over the cross-stitched seaweed. That will involve probably no more than 2 or 3 hours work, possibly less. However, I will be a responsible stitcher and revert to the RR. But at least I know that once I return to my regular rotational stitching, I will have a quick and easy finish in no time at all, at all. Knowing I have that almost instant gratification waiting for me will give me the stamina to soldier on with the boring back-stitching in my RR border.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

More a day for reflection than for stitching. And my reflection leads me to believe that scaling back on my current purchases while using the wealth of stash I have accumulated over the years is the right thing to do on a number of levels.
To be so fixated on the accumulation of stuff, however lovely and satisfying, can distract me from more important things in life: faith, family, friends, community [both local and global]. I tend to think of myself as a rather socially conscious person but I have noticed as I age I have drawn in on myself more and more. And stitching is a very solitary experience for me, rather like reading, my other favorite leisure activity. I need to expand the scope of my people-centered experiences. Given my personality type, I could easily turn into a hermit once I retire in a few years. Not a good thing!
I probably have enough stash to keep me well occupied for the next five years. To continue to accumulate charts, fabric and floss at the rate I have been over the past ten years would be just plain greedy and acquisitive in the worst sense. This is not to say that I am planning to cease buying craft supplies completely ... I do believe I was meant to enjoy life ... my God does not require that I live a life of sackcloth and ashes. So, for the past year or so I have been trying to limit my purchases of charts to five a year. In 2009, I blew that number out of the water, purchasing 12 charts and receiving another 12 as gifts from family who consulted my wish list and another 12 or so in goodie bags and giveaways at one of Sue Donnelly's Stitcher's Hideaway and yet another 10 or so charts I won in a blogging giveaway. That's another year's worth of stitching right there. In 2010, I am trying to be a little more selective and so far have ordered only one chart: Blackbird Designs Bird in Hand. I have not entered any other blogger's giveaways, even though the impulse has been there. We shall see how well I do in future months. And, maybe, just maybe, some of the money saved can be diverted to some worthy causes.
Those who have been following my blog know that my mother, in an impulse that was 50% generosity and 50% cunning, cleaned out her entire craft stash into a full carload of stuff dumped on little old me. I spent the better part of the first three months of 2010 cataloging, photographing and giving away all of her stuff. I have spent a small fortune on postage getting this stuff to people who can use it ... whatever is still leftover at the end of April will go to a local nursing home or to the local Girl Scout council. I don't want to do the same thing to my daughter. Hence my monthly giveaway of gently used charts. I also have taken to going through my binders of free charts and have been discarding those I know I will never stitch or have stitched and will never stitch again. My new rule is simplify-simplify-simplify! Though my daughter also stitches, her taste is somewhat different from mine. When she inherits my stash, it is my hope that it will be predominantly fabric and fiber and those fantasy charts we both enjoy.
Part of my problem is that ten years ago I discovered online needlework shopping. Prior to that, I found needlework shops [the brick and mortar kind] only when I traveled on vacation. Though I would purchase liberally at such times, there was a built-in limit ... I couldn't spend more than I had at the time. Online shopping is a whole different ball game: a little at a time doesn't break the budget at any given time but does add up to a substantial amount over the course of a year. And online shopping is another solitary activity ... see my comments above about avoiding turning into a hermit. I must have, in my stitching center, over 200 purchased charts yet to be stitched and that doesn't count free charts or charts in the magazines to which I subscribe. That should be more than enough for anyone. Five purchases of new charts each year will keep me in touch with new trends and new designers; the rest of my stitching purchases will go to buying the necessary fiber and fabric to stitch charts already in my possession. So, I will still be doing my bit to support the stitching industry and I will try to make most of my purchases at genuine needlework shops, the brick and mortar kind that have an online presence, or at my favorite online only shop, 123stitch. I recently read a persausive blog entry detailing how big-box stores like AC Moore, Michael's and Hobby Lobby are undercutting the stitching industry by selling DMC below wholesale and luring stitchers away from LNSs ... cutting into the business of the LNSs we all depend on for charts/fabric and high end flosses and supplies ... by diverting shoppers who need just a few skeins of DMC, thereby costing the LNS the average $12-$15 of impulse purchases that usually accompany such a trip ... dollars that mean the difference between survival and closing to most LNS owners.
Well, those are my reflections on stitching and social justice ... who knew the two topics were connected!?!