Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Goals Assessment/July Goals


SALs & RRs:
Bride's Tree SAL: Stitch the June Ornament [Fruit or Fruit Basket - Generosity or Plenty], assemble the May ornament. Nope.
Linda's RR: Tina has been dropped from the rotation. So, the next projects are Jane's Quilts [recd June 14, completed and mailed June 19th ] and Dolores' Prairie Schooler piece [received on June 17th]
Town Square SAL: Finish Monster Bubbles' Jail. FINISHED. Also, finished Crescent Colors Saloon.

Monthly Projects:
Thanksgiving Ornament: Finish up the April and May ornaments once the back-ordered threads arrive. And stitch the mirror image pumpkins from the Prairie Schooler complimentary card as the June ornament. Finished stitching the Cornucopia from Kreinik and the Prairie Schooler Harvest Time Turkey ... just need to finish the assembly. No progress on the PS Pumpkins.
Christmas Piece: start Sue Hillis' Cookie Baking Santa. Nope.
UFO > WIP: pick up the Peacock biscornu. Nope.

Focus Projects:
BAP: TW's Autmn Faerie. Nope.
Medium Project: Brightneedles' Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui. Nope.

Sewing Finishes:
Take care of one or two from the backlog basket. Nope.
Keep up with ornament and any other finishes for this month. Nope.
Keep up with weekly classes in Sharon B's online quilting class. Nope.

SETTING JULY'S GOALS: since I am on vacation for the entire month of July, I expect to catch up on some of the failed June goals.

SALs and RRs:
Bride's Tree SAL: June Fruit Basket and July Fish. And assemble the May ornament
Town Square SAL: Val's Stuff's Train Depot.
Linda's RR: stitch and mail Dolores' piece to Linda on or about July 10.

Monthly Projects:
Thanksgiving Ornament: Assembly finish of the April, May & June Thanksgiving ornaments. Choose a motif from CEC Thanksgiving Circle and stitch as an ornament.
Christmas Piece: Sue Hillis' Cookie Baking Santa
UFO>WIP: Peacock Biscornu and Midnight Moogies.

Focus Projects:
BAP: TW's Autumn Faerie
Medium Project: Workbasket's single Mermaid from I heard the Mermaids Singing leaflet

Sewing Finishes:Take care of one or two from the backlog basket.
Keep up with ornament and any other finishes for this month.
Keep up with weekly classes in Sharon B's online quilting class.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Workbasket's I Heard The Mermaids Singing ...

The Crescent Color overdyed cottons I ordered on Friday, arrived in record time in the Monday afternoon post. So I continue to immerse myself in color as I stitch the single mermaid chart in the above mentioned leaflet. I saw a nice little needlebook finish on the Mainely Stitching blog and am inspired to finish this piece as a needlebook with a slight variation.

I may use the finished piece as an exchange or a gift or as a blogaversary giveaway ... how's that for decisiveness? I have a number of occasions coming up where a small stitched gift would be appropriate.

In any case, it is a real pleasure to work with all these bright jewel tones from Crescent Colors and WDW. I am using the last medium sized piece of Silkweaver's 28 ct Starquest cashel linen ... all that's left now of that lovely fabric are two small swatches large enough for ornaments ... one of which I am reserving for aury's 2nd annual patriotic Quaker heart.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #25

Again, I am a day late posting my weekend report ... I guess the lazy, hazy days of summer are getting to me ... Sunday was a 90 degree day and today promises to be another. I spent most of the day sitting in a nice air conditioned living room, watching DVDs and stitching intermittently.
The result: I finished another chart in the Indy Market Town Square SAL: Crescent Color's Saloon. This was fun to stitch but I think I am finally ready to get back to projects that don't have such huge blocks of the same color. I am thinking of taking my current BAP, Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie, off the scroll rods in the stitching stand and using my spring lock hoop with it. Making it a more portable piece will give me much more stitching time on it. With its constant changes and all the blended needles, it will give me the challenge I am finally ready for once again! It will also have the advantage of getting the stitching stand out of the living room.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Color as therapy

I find that color is a great mood lifter. And I have been applying color therapy to myself quite a bit lately ... mainly through stitching and sewing. Instead of sticking to my June stitching goals of projects with somewhat subdued coloring, I have been starting projects with lots and lots of luscious colors.
Having finished SB's Be a Witch, I promptly started Crescent Colors' Saloon from the Indy Market Town Square SAL. I am using the suggested Crescent Colors and they are such a joy ... Blue Moon, Sunkissed and Tennessee Red Clay are definitely going to become part of my personal design pallette. It doesn't hurt that I am stitching this design on a Silkweaver 28 ct Cashel linen named Starquest ... a lovely overdye of light to medium blues with a touch of indigo ... instead of the more neutral fabrics of my June goals projects. In the past, I have only used Crescent Colors cotton overdyes that came in the Prairie Schooler Annual Designer Santa kits ... but then I discovered Crescent Colors' Belle Soie silks and have been buying them where ever I find them ... and now I am broadening my exploration of the overdyed cottons, as well. I find these cottons have a softer hand than either WDW or GAST and I have every intention of deepening my stash of this fine fiber. I just ordered some more skeins to kit up the single mermaid chart in Workbasket's I Heard the Mermaids Singing, which I will be stitching on Starquest as well.

I tend to be rather conservative in my wardrobe as well: going with classic styles and subdued shades like grey, sage, slate, dusky rose or basic black. But even here I have been applying color therapy: I just purchased a pair of sky blue sandals and a pair of butter yellow ballet flats, as well as two floral print dresses, one in candy red and one in leaf green. I don't know how long my love affair with color will last but I fully intend to enjoy every minute of it while it lasts. What's the point of being "a certain age" if one can't indulge one's whims?!? Bring on the rainbows!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gnashing of teeth ...

My luck has not been the best lately. I am going to have to stay home instead of enjoying the girls night out with my sisters and mother today ... don't want to go into details, suffice it to say my gastro-intestinal tract is being most uncooperative. Of course, I still have to pay my share of the day: one ticket to a Broadway play, my share of my baby sister's ticket and my share of three rooms in a theater district hotel and a theater district restaurant dinner ... we're talking approx. $600-700 here ... and nothing to show for it. It's not like I can even give the ticket away since this is meant to be a private party celebrating my sister's 50th birthday ... maybe one of my nieces could use it though ... but my baby sister has two daughters ... hardly fair to choose one over the other. Hence, the gnashing of teeth!
I'll also have to stay home from work and I'll have to call a student who had an appointment to take a make-up test and reschedule ... tough to do since the parents are in the process of buying a new home and living with in-laws and, you guessed it, the mother's cell phone # is at work ... why can't they have a phone book for cell #s? This day is not going well ... more gnashing of teeth.
Oh, well, tomorrow has to be better!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking Baby Steps

I am so very tired lately ... it has been rather stressful at work and, just to add joy to the mix, my doctors have been playing with my medication dosages ... all of which has been having a noticeable effect on my energy levels and on my ability to concentrate once the workday is done.
The result is that I am doing a little less stitching and what stitching I am doing is very, very simple ... taking baby steps, so to speak ... Shepherd's Bush's Be A Witch. Ten count tula can be so relaxing: large count, very soft hand, not the sort of thing that requires intense focus. And the design itself is so colorful and funky ... a real mood lifter. Hey, even baby steps will get you where you need to be ... it simply takes a little longer. This was a quick and easy finish but I hope I'll soon be back to enjoying my more complex projects ... but for the moment, it would be just an open invitation to the frog. Later on today, I'll return to finishing up my Thanksgiving ornaments. But everytime I glance at my pillowcase draped stitching stand, I feel guilty about neglecting my Autumn Faerie.

And though I have downloaded the last two lessons in my on-line crazy quilting class and will download another today, I haven't had the time or energy to keep up. I expect I will get back to it once I close the office on June 30. One blissful month without office drama ... I plan to get a lot of neglected chores round and about the house taken care of as well as catching up on my stitching and finishing goals.
At least I have a girls-night-out to look forward, my mother and sisters and I are celebrating my youngest sister's 50th birthday with an overnight in the city, taking in the Broadway play Mama Mia as well as dining at a trendy Italian restaurant, staying at the Millenium in the theater district for one night.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #24

There was not much stitching done this weekend. This was the first Saturday that I did not have classes, since the Religious Education Program ended last weekend. Even so, I got up especially early [6:16am] to finish the RR piece and get it in the mail before the post office closed at 11:30am. The rest of Saturday morning was devoted to running errands: banking and running to the other end of the county to pick up the designer fountain pen I had on lay-away for my husband's combined Father's Day and birthday gift. I am afraid Sunday morning was pretty much a total loss. The past few weeks finally caught up with me. I am afraid even four mega-mugs of strong Assam tea didn't rev me up enough to get to Mass. I spent most of the morning in my stitching chair desultorily putting in the back-stitching in my Kreinik Cornucopia. Then, given my limited concentration, I started a very simple project, Shepherd's Bush's Be A Witch, on 10 count tula. I needed something easy if I was going to keep the frog from the door. Most of Sunday evening was consumed with a multi-event celebration: Father's Day, my husband's birthday and my youngest son's birthday ... all falling within the eight day period of June 15-23. We visited the family's favorite sushi restaurant, a tiny place called Hanabi, half the width of the normal storefront. But the food is fabulous. My husband, carnivore that he is, enjoyed the beef negi as well as some more traditional sushi rolls. My son and daughter did the usual sushi platters, with the addition of some steamed dumplings. My sister-in-law and I went totally vegetarian. She had the mango/avocado salad as did I but she follwed hers with two spring rolls [more like fluffy pancakes at Hanabi] and I had three different vegetable sushi rolls. I wished I had my camera with me: the presentation of the food is phenomenal ... the sushi chef is creative, the food is amazingly fresh, the service in this small Mom & Pop restaurant is casual and friendly ... a wonderful way to cap the weekend.

So instead of finishing up three Thanksgiving and one Christmas ornaments as planned, including final finishing as flat ornaments, this is all I accomplished:

Linda's Round Robin: Jane's Quilts [May15-June15 rotation] FINISHED AND MAILED 6/19. This was a a frenzied, quick stitch since I only received the piece in the mail on 6/14.

Thanksgiving Ornaments:
Kreinik Cornucopia [May's ornament] stitched but still needing assembly. I hope to spend a little time this evening assembling this little beauty. I quite like the effect of combining satin and cross stitch in the same piece and I love the tone on tone effect of the cross stitches in Ancient Parchment on the Mississippi Mud Silkweaver 40ct linen.

And a little Startitis: Shepherds Bush's Be A Witch. Normally, I finish such seasonal, large count pieces as classroom banners but I am not sure this is quite the message I want to send to my students. I believe I will attempt my first no-sew cube for display in my sewing room-to-be. Or perhaps a stand-up using one of my little acrylic L-shaped doohickeys. I look forward to some more relaxing stitching on this in the coming week ... I just don't feel up to anything that requires concentration right now. It's probably because as one school year winds down, I am busy with all those finicky little details necessary to close out one year: inventories, tracking down all the kids who owe me exams, other work or textbooks, evaluating all the home study students, etc. etc. Then there are the start-up details for next year: getting next year's registration in and on the database, ordering textbooks and supplies for the new school year, recruiting and vetting catechists, finalizing the calendar, etc. etc. All of which needs to be done by June 30, when I break for a much needed month long vacation.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Infamous Round Robin

The May 15th mailing arrived on June 14th ... one day before the deadline for mailing out again. And, since I had to attend the annual Parish Team dinner Monday night, I didn't get started on the project till Tuesday morning, June 15th. Happily, Jane's theme was simple: quilts hanging on a clothesline. I stitched from my head ... as a quilter, I know a lot of simple geometric repeating patterns and I chose one of my favorites that uses strips of graduated tones of a single color in the vertical repeat and of a contrasting color in the horizontal repeat ... a variation of the basic Log Cabin quilt. I used black to work the borders of the quilt and tones of green and rose to work the blocks. It was finished in time to go in the mail to Linda this morning ... though, I had to get up at 6am to finish the last bit of stitching in order to make it to the post office before the 11:30am Saturday closing time ... mailed four days late, to be sure, but considering I received it ONE frigging day before the mailing deadline, that's not too shabby.

Dolores' piece arrived from Tina in Thursday's mail and I will start work on that next week and anticipate no difficulty in meeting the July 15 mail date. Finally, I am back on track with this RR ... and I hope to stay that way, with no more month long delays in receiving pieces and no more resulting turbo stitching to remain even close to deadline.
I've got another piece of stitching that needs to be stitched to a deadline [July 11]: a name stole for an 8 year old I have prepared for Baptism. We can't very well give her the usual "white garment" given to infants at Baptism which is a bib. I will be making a stole and then stitching her name, Elizabeth Cora, and a shell with some water droplets falling from it. I'll start that tomorrow as well. I expect that will go very quickly since lettering always does.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mary, Mary, quite contrary ... How does your garden grow?

Several weeks of light rains and high humidity and relatively warm temperatures have resulted in considerable growth in my container garden. Here are a few photos. I have even brought some of the houseplants out. I get a lot of plants as teacher gifts and I thought I'd repot some of them for backyard color. I put two of my geraniums and one primrose into one of those rubber black "kettle" planters. The geraniums are thriving but apparently the primroses have already flowered for the year though the foilage looks fabulous and adds a nice texture contrast to the geraniums. Once the planned patio extension has been done, I plan to make up a little rock garden up against the retaining wall. I'll transplant the primrose and a few "volunteer" violets to the rock garden for some Spring color next year and fill it in with some of my other favorites: wood hyacinths [another Spring bloom], sweet williams, pansies, Irish moss and impatiens [for Summer color]. Spring and summer is also the time to lavish a little extra loving on my indoor plants. I have brought out my bamboo plant which is looking very sad indeed. Over the weekend, I will have to get a new container and fresh stone and repot it in a pristine environment in the hopes of reviving it. The iron plant arrangement [which by the by is at least 10 years old and started as a small potted plant from a florist - a birthday gift] needs a new pot and a trellis for support - it is growing by leaps and bounds. I have a few other plants I'll be re-potting and bringing out as well - two miniature rose bushes and a Kalanchoe. There's also an aloe plant and another iron plant at work, both pot-bound, that need some TLC and roomy new homes. As things grow and thrive I find myself making plans for the future. Next year, I'll add a large strawberry barrel to the container garden ... I love fresh strawberries warm from the sun, perfectly ripened, plopped into my breakfast cereal bowl literally minutes after picking.

I have always loved gardening but when I returned to the work force when my youngest was old enough for middle school, I just stopped ... always intending to return once I adjusted to my new schedule. But that never seemed to happen. Now that I am an empty nester, I am returning to gardening in a manageable way: containers for vegetables and herbs, the planned low maintenance rock garden, a few pots of colorful flowers, bringing the houseplants out into the yard for the summer. It works for me ... satisfying the agricultural impulses of the Mediterranean side of my heritage. [I satisfy the creative impulses of my Celtic heritage by writing poetry, by designing stitchery and with the occasional foray into the arts.]

The Container Garden:

The fig tree has actually started to set fruit, I have plucked my first cherry tomato, some chives and basil and even a few blackberries from the canes by the fence. My one regret is that I never got around to planting some cucmber seeds and it is now almost too late for plants to mature before the first frost ... I'll try and plant some this week ... a bit of a gamble ... but maybe I'll get lucky! And, according to my Victory Garden handbook, it will also be possible to plant some peas in July to mature in the cooler weather of late September.

Considering that my little container garden looked like this just four weeks ago, I'd say Mother Nature has been doing right by me ... but I would welcome a little more sunshine, please! Nevertheless, I do believe my garden dragon has been doing a pretty good job standing guard on my precious plants. He'll have a harder time riding herd on them all soon, though. We are extending our little patio and putting in a center circle of pavers for a small table, some chairs and an umbrella ... think summer stitching, expecially in the cooler mornings and evenings ... so I'll be rearranging the containers. They'll have to move from their current central spot to lining the paver path from the main patio to the central circle. We'll also be dismantling an old decrepit shed, so I shall have to find another place to mount my birdfeeder ... but I won't have to worry about that till September. I feed the birds during the fall/winter/spring since there is plenty of food readily available in the summer. Next year, I'll replace the old and unsightly chainlink fence on either side of my yard with nice white vinyl fencing ... perhaps with built in flower boxes along the top ... to add some color to my tiny backyard which is just the width of my townhouse and about 1 and 1/2 times the size of my living room. I'd love to resurface the concrete retaining wall with a brick or stone surface treatment but I fear that would be too expensive but it would certanly make my little backyard so much more attractive. Maybe just a coat or two of white paint will improve its appearance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

PIF in honor of Carrie's Generosity

I posted the message below on the 123stitch message board just a few minutes ago and I want to open this PIF to the readers of my blog as well:
You may remember about a week ago I posted a confession about not making sure I had enough GAST Maple Syrup in the right dyelot to finish a project ... I trusted my memory of my fiber stash [usually a safe bet - as a former art teacher, I have a good eye for and memory of color - not this time, though]. In future I shall "confirm" my memory before I pick up my needle!

Well, Carrie sent me exactly what I needed and asked for nothing in return ... and I wish to honor her gesture with a giveaway of a $10 gift certificate to 123stitch.

But this giveaway will have a bit of a TWIST ... you can't apply for yourself. If you know of another stitcher who could really use a smile this week for whatever reason, post YOUR OWN e-mail address on this thread. On Friday, June 18 [NYC area], I will use the on-line randomizer to choose one of the posters and e-mail him/her for the name and e-mail of their nominee, who will then receive a GC. Please respect the privacy of your nominee ... don't post any details of hard-luck stories on this thread ... just your own name and e-mail address.

Please respect the spirit of this giveaway and enter only if you have a nominee who could truly use a bit of a lift.
The same conditions will apply here ... just leave a comment below.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #23

It's been a little of this and a little of that this week ... trying to clean up unfinished business from last week [... and even from last month] and keeping up with developments in my on-line class on crazy quilting.

Monsterbubbles' Jail [Town Square SAL] Finished Sunday evening. I am delighted to get back to stitching in color. All of this grey was just a bit much since we have been having overcast days ending in thunderstorms each evening. A case of art imitating life that I could've done without. The next piece I am planning to do in this series is Crescent Colours Saloon ... ever so much more colorful ... but that will be a July goal!

Kreinik's Cornucopia ornament [ a Thanksgiving ornament-a-month goal] I picked this up again once I finished the Town Square SAL piece. The back-ordered silk mori I had been waiting for had arrived earlier in the week.

Prairie Schooler's Harvest Time Turkey [a Thanksgiving ornament-a-month goal] Thanks to Carrie [of Carrie's Threads] , I received the right dye-lot of GAST Maple Syrup. I expect to be able to finish this in the coming week.

The encrusted crazy quilted block: Last Wednesday's lesson included a lot of techniques and stitches that are either new or nearly new to me ... and I need to practice a bit more on these techniques before actually adding them to my block: boullion stitch [used for roses, leaves, and free-form outlines], spider-web ribbon roses, ribbon embroidery flowers. I did manage to gather some ribbons and beads for this stage of the embellishment but haven't gotten much further than that. With the next lesson coming up inexorably on Wednesday, I'd best get moving.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some small progress ...

... on the Town Square SAL. At least, Monday evening was bright and beautiful while I worked with all this grey. Wednesday was overcast throughout the day though a bit cooler ... and I didn't even get some lunch-time stitching done since work was so hectic ... right up to 9:00pm. I'll work on this again today and tomorrow hoping to finish filling in the Dolphin grey in the taller tower. The sun is shining now but thunderstorms are predicted for the evening ... appropriate given the storm clouds in the design ... don't you think? Then, I'll be in the homestretch ... long-stitching the outlines of the granite blocks. I hope to finish this piece, and my three partially finished Thanksgiving ornaments this weekend as well as my May Bride's Tree SAL ornament. That way I can work almost exclusively on the Brightneedle piece, Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui, again during the next week.

The mail has given some satisfaction. The back ordered silk mori for my Thanksgiving Cornucopia ornament has arrived so I shall try to finish that ornament up in the next few days. The Valdani overdyed cotton that I wanted to try arrived the same day ... different package, from same online shop ... a waste of postage. But the threads were back-orders from two seperate orders and I guess the vendor doesn't cross-reference ... after all, the situation can't come up very often! I'll have to stitch a small project with the Valdani to check it out ... maybe a biscornu or cupcake pincushion. Then this evening, three skeins of GAST Maple Syrup were waiting for me, courtesy of Sharon. I haven't held them up to my unfinished PS Turkey ornament but at least two of them look very close to the DMC898 brown that is the dominant color in my piece ... so thanks to Sharon, I may not have to re-stitch the whole darn thing ... just frog out two rows I stitched with the wrong GAST hoping against hope that it would look right ... as if that ever happens!

On the other hand, I am still waiting for the May 15th piece in the RR ... It is June 11th and I have nothing to stitch ... well, that's not quite true ... what I mean to say is that I have nothing from the RR to stitch. I approach the mailbox with a little tune from childhood running through my head: "Nobody loves me, Everybody hates me, I'm going to eat some worms." I guess that means there is some tequila in my future! I think I prefer Amaretto. With the June 15th deadline looming, I confess to being a wee bit nervous ... how many days will I have to stitch my contribution on Jane's piece? 3-2-1-0 ? ! ? I am beginning to get very weary of this RR and expect I'll never participate in another. After writing the above, I got an e-mail stating that the piece had been mailed ordinary post on June 3rd and should take 7-10 days to get to me. The agreement at the beginning of the RR was to mail Priority with delivery confirmation! I can't even go on-line to track the dratted thing, since the sender didn't purchase delivery confirmation! So I can receive this piece anywhere up to June 13 leaving me between 3 [at best] to 2 [at worst] days to stitch my piece and then move it along on June 15. This is crazy-making and not at all the pleasurable stitching I was seeking when I joined the RR.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June Giveaway Winner

Again, using the handy dandy online randomizer, I have selected a monthly giveaway winner:#11, qsnaplover

I'll get the charts in the mail once I receive a response to my e-mail asking for an address.

Thanks to all who entered.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Encrusted Crazy Quilt Block Week 2

This has become an obsession. I can't seem to put it down and am making noticeable progress each day, at least, to my own eyes. Today, I attached the second velvet cord with half cross stitch in a metallic ribbon and added some more green silk to another seam embellishment. I have been brainstorming how to make a diamond trellis embellishment on the long red narrow edge, perhaps using the carved white mother of pearl buttons that look like carnival masks as motifs within the openings or threading a stem stitched vine with French knot berries or beaded flowers on the trellis. Tomorrow I get to download another class and I am very much looking forward to the next lesson.

The more I work on this block the more I brainstorm about other applications for this technique. I am already envisioning a tea cozy made up of four panels of encrusted crazy quilting using as it's main fabric the lovely rather Jacobean looking print salvaged from the slipcovers for a long-gone couch [those slipcovers were darned expensive and there is enough fabric there to make curtains for the sewing-room-to-be as well as literally dozens of tea cozies]. I am already mentally combing through my stash of quilting cottons for fabrics that pick up the colors in the upholstery weight cotton though I think I would have better luck with my wools, partly because of color considerations but also because of weight considerations. When this block is done I plan to use it to make a tote-like purse with button and loop closure and I plan on converting the band sampler I am using to play with the embroidery techniques as the strap or straps [either one long over the shoulder strap or two small hand straps]. I doubt I'd ever have the patience to make a full sized quilt in this technique but I can definitely see it used for handbags, tea cozies, vests, headbands and other wearable art. Maybe, if I am very ambitious, a small lap-robe type quilt. I definitely want to work up a few of those broad headbands that are so fashionable now as Christmas gifts for my daughter and nieces.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #22

Well, the list is pretty much back to goal projects. My brief bout of startitis seems to have run its course.

Linda Stouch's RR: Tina's piece with a heart theme is probably lost forever as the stitcher who will remain nameless has been dropped from the RR ... one piece "lost in the mail" - possible, two pieces "lost in the mail" - improbable, failure to respond to e-mails and phone calls by organizer - damning. I am now waiting to receive Jane's piece [May 15th rotation - and held back while the nameless stitcher situation was resolved] and Dolores' piece [June 15 rotation] all within a week. This will call for some turbo stitching ... but luckily Dolores' piece is a PS and well within my comfort zone. I'll have to check the list to see what Jane's theme is ... and then go stash diving for an appropriate chart.

Sharon B's Embellished Crazy Quilt On-line Class.
This has been my primary focus this weekend. I have read and re-read Week 2's class and begun work on the seam embellishing: using the herringbone stitch, plaited algerian cross stitch, plain cross stitch, fern stitch, ermine fill stitch, chain stitch and french knots. I even made up a band sampler on which to practice some of the embroidery embellishments I wish to try over the next few days: the boullion stitch with it's many variations, some of the herringbone variations, trellis stitches that produce a diamond pane pattern and knotted stitches that produce figure 8 effects, as well as a few spider web roses. The first photo shows the block with the band sampler laid out behind it. The velvet cord that is laid across the top will be stitched down with the red 1/4" metallic ribbon in a spiralling half cross stitch. I have used silks, overdyed cottons, pearl cottons, metallic ribbons and braids as well as metallic floss. You can see close-ups of a few of these seams in the second photo. And I have pulled out all of my various stitch dictionaries in order to expand my repertoire and add variety and interest to the stitched embellishments. As I do all this, I envision where all the beads and buttons will go, experimenting with stacked button or button/bead combinations ... rather like playing with building blocks ... and have come up with a few combinations that I know will find their way into the final design. The third photo shows my favorite button combinations and the planned placement. Of course, I haven't stitched them down yet since they'd get in the way as I continue working with the embroidery embellishments. This project is very liberating since I can try out some rather over-the-top techniques and just play with different fibers and textures ... though I never attended kindergarten, I think I now know how a kindergartener must feel upon encountering a blank sheet of paper and pots and pots of fingerpaint. I haven't yet joined in the forum discussion with other participants nor have I posted any WIP photos, though I shall have to do that soon ... I have resisted looking at the work of the others till after my own project has taken a definitive shape of its own, for better or worse. One of the things I have enjoyed doing was working snakes of chain stitch over two adjacent pieces in layers: starting with a 1/4" wide metallic ribbon, moving onto a a #5 metallic braid and finishing up with a fine perle silk ... with the links of the chain getting progressively smaller as I use finer fibers. In a later stage, I'll add beads of various sizes so that that particular part of the block will look like a jewelry tray upon which a jumble of necklaces has been carelessly tossed.

Stash Enhancement:
I received an e-mail about the shipping date of the back-ordered Silk Mori for the May Thanksgiving ornament and have had offers of help with finding the right dye-lot of GAST Maple Syrup [for April's Thanksgiving ornament] floss from 123stitchers. I still need to find a source for the silk serica, though.
I pulled out and kitted up Shepherd's Bush's Be A Witch, ordering threads as needed as well as the two Homespun Elegance bee buttons I needed for HIH's Wee Bee.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June Giveaway

As I have mentioned before, I am trying to simplify my life and reduce my crafting stash. My first tactic is to give away any charts I have stitched, will never stitch again and have no earthly reason to hang onto. I never cease to be amazed at just how much of my chart stash seems to fall into this category. I have been giving away 5 or 6 charts a month for nearly a year and could go on for another year or two. I have been trying to group my giveaways in some logical fashion, either by theme or by designer or both. I hope the recipients of all my past giveaways have enjoyed my charts as much as I have done. This month's giveaway will be no exception: the theme is bees ... nice and summery for a June giveaway. This is actually a PIF on my part since I received these four charts from Nic last summer. I have enjoyed stitching these charts and hope you will as well.

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.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

SAL & Crazy Quilt Week One Class Progress

Town Square SAL: Monsterbubble's Jail. I put in a few hours on this each of the past three days ... even made it my "travel" piece by switching to a larger stitching bag capable of accomodating the doodler lap frame. As you can see, I still need to fill in the central arch and the taller tower with WDW Dolphin and then I have to back-stitch the outlines of the granite blocks in WDW Charcoal. I'd like to work on this till it's finished since I have received all the luscious Crescent Colors for the next piece in this series that I intend to stitch: the Town Square Saloon [designed by Crescent Colors, of course] ... and am itching to work on something a touch more colorful than all this grey. By the way, the piece is not really crooked, I must have loaded the scrolls slightly off kilter to give it that sadly askew look.

As for my Online Class, Encrusted Crazy Quilt Block: I have completed the Week 1 assignment which was piecing the block. I used a red tartan Duponi silk, a black watered silk moire, a black cotton, an ivory cotton with a very faint tone-on-tone floral pattern, a red cotton with a bleeding color effect and two different yellow-gold cotton prints. The yellow gold and red cottons pick up colors in the tartan though that may be difficult to see given the quality of my photography. In the first photo, it looks more like Modern Art because of the bold colors and the sharp edged shapes. In the second photo, I have laid out and cut [but not yet sewn] the lace and cording embellishments. I have used a variety of laces, including a heavy weight, white, wide grape and leaf lace, two much lighter, narrower, white cotton machine-crocheted laces and one tan lace that has a hand crocheted look as well as some black velvet cording. The next step is to tack down all the laces prepatory to the surface embroidery embellishment of the seams. As the block is embellished and "encrusted" it will take on more of a Victorian crazy quilt look. The Week 2 lesson has been down-loaded and I have begun studying it ... now the fun begins. There are so many surface embroidery stitches to be explored as a means of embellishing the block. I am going to work up a band sampler using the sew and flip crazy quilt technique so I can experiment with some of the stitches on real seams before working on my block. I'll be photographing the whole process for future posts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another genre of outrageous cross stitch

Okay ... I am always up for something a wee bit different ... I understand Mr. Hardy designs tee shirts ... though my guess is that his real calling is designing tatoos. I am not sure I am curious enough to actually buy this book but I sure as hell would want to page through it ... just to see what is going on at the fringes [dare I say, lunatic fringes] of cross stitch.
Imagine: 30 charts in this style ... I wonder if I can convince my local librarian to purchase this fine volume so that I and the rest of the stitching public can explore this new venue without undue expense!
And just look at that cover! Such a lovely message, don't you think? Maybe I should stitch this up for Valentine's Day 2011.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June Goals

SALs & RRs:
Bride's Tree SAL: Stitch the June Ornament [Fruit or Fruit Basket - Generosity or Plenty], assemble the May ornament.
Linda's RR: Tina's piece is the next in the rotation but I have yet to receive it.
Town Square SAL: Finish Monster Bubbles' Jail.

Monthly Projects:
Thanksgiving Ornament: Finish up the April and May ornaments once the back-ordered threads arrive. And stitch the mirror image pumpkins from the Prairie Schooler complimentary card as the June ornament.
Christmas Piece: start Sue Hillis' Cookie Baking Santa.
UFO > WIP: pick up the Peacock biscornu

Focus Projects:
BAP: TW's Autmn Faerie.
Medium Project: Brightneedles' Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui.

Sewing Finishes:
Take care of one or two from the backlog basket.
Keep up with ornament and any other finishes for this month.
Keep up with weekly classes in Sharon B's online quilting class.