Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween SAL Triple Post

Rachel has organized a Halloween SAL during which all participants will stitch a Halloween project and post photos of their progress throughout the day. I have chosen to finish up a WIP, M Design's Winifred Witch and then, time permitting stitch up Plum Street Samplers' Halloween Greetings as my projects for the day.


And a photo of at bedtime, showing my progress on my next start, Fleur de Boo by Ink Circles. This is stitched on a 30ct loosely woven linen in a color called Midsummer Night using Belle Soie silks Black Crow and Lasagna. Obviously, I didn't get very much done but at least it's a start.
A photo of progress at 6:30pm: All the stitching is done and the piece is assembled, trimmed with home-made braid and a beaded hanger. The back is a simple black moire silk ... I figure this piece is elaborate enough without an ornate backing. I am very pleased with this ornament though it is a bit large. It was charted for 30ct linen and I stitched it on 32ct, so it was originally intended to be even larger



Here is my photo of Winifred Witch as I left it last night. I will be posting photos twice more today. The piece looks tantalizingly close to a finish but I fear there is at least two more hours of stitching to do before I begin the assembly. The sign still needs to be stitched, as does the over-one section in the eyes and the silver streak in the hair and all the back-stitching.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting Ready for Rachel's SAL & other Halloween tasks

Rachel is hosting a Halloween SAL ... all you need do is choose a Halloween or autumnal WIP or new project, work on it throughout Halloween, posting photos on your blog or photo album three times during the day. Of course, you need to let her know you are participating so she can set up links in one central place: her own blog.


Since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I have an embarassment of riches when it comes to charts to choose from. My current BAP, TW's Autumn Faerie, would qualify. Even my October entry for the Bride's Tree SAL would fall well within the parameters of this SAL. But I want something distinctly Halloween-ish so I am looking at either the Plum Street Sampler Halloween Greetings or Ink Circles Fleur de Boo from the recent JCS Halloween issue or two freebies, one from The Primitive Needle [love her stuff] and one from The Stitcherhood [your basic Jack-o-Lantern]. Of course, I also have another fifteen or so charts for Halloween, ranging from BAPs like Sleepy Hollow or medium projects like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Zucca or Black'd Skie. And then there is my UFO: Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui.


Although I spent some time today working on M Designs' Winifred Witch, also from the JCS Sept. 2010 issue ... I didn't quite finish it. Though it looks tantalizingly close to completion, that is misleading. What with cross-stitching the sign, adding the metallic silver streak in the hair, doing the over-one stitching in the eyes, all the back stitching and embellishing, it'll probably take me the better part of two hours to have it ready for assembly. Even so, I think finishing this ornament will be my first choice for the SAL ... right on through to assembly. I'd be glad to finish this in time to hang it on my Halloween Tree if only for an hour or two. If I still have time after that for more stitching, I'll move on to Plum Street Sampler's Halloween Greetings since it requires only DMC and my order of WDW, GAST and CC floss from Stitchery Row did not arrive, alas alack!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Okay, so I lied ...

... in my last post about dropping all ornament stitching for the time being and reverting to stitching on my BAP. But I was so close to finishing my September ornament for the Bride's Tree SAL that I just had to continue working on it till it was stitched and assembled. Progress is addictive. In any case, I'll have to stop work on the Bride's Tree SAL in a little while. I have just enough linen left to stitch the front of the October ornament but I'll need another piece [18x27] for the back of October and the fronts and backs of November and December. I'll be adapting the GOS Pinecone ornament that I stitched for Rachel last year to make it more Quaker-like for the October ornament and I have ordered Workbasket's Quaker Santa chart for the December ornament but I haven't even started looking for a Quaker angel chart for November yet. If any kind reader knows of one, I'd appreciate it if he/she would leave a link in the comments.


As I get closer to actually finishing up with this SAL, I get more and more excited about it. I've decided exactly how I am going to display the ornaments and in which room I shall place the tree. I rather like this whole SAL idea. I enjoy looking at other stitcher's ornaments on the Bride's Tree SAL blog and have seen many clever finishing techniques that I fully intend to use in the future. As for next year, I shall concentrate on the Town Square SAL and hope that others who signed up will begin to post to the blog as well. I intend to turn all my pieces into a coverlet for a queen size bed.


I also spent some time today on M Designs' Winnifred Witch. I still have quite a bit to do and am not sure it will hang on this year's Halloween tree. All the hair and the sign and the rest of the over one on the face need to be stitched as well as the backstitching ... and then, of course, there is the finishing to do. Maybe I'll be able to get it done tomorrow in between all the usual chores and errands. I really want to start something new and fresh for Rachel's Halloween SAL ... what I choose to do for that depends, in large measure, on whether my order from Stitchery Row arrives tomorrow.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ISO A Quaker Angel Chart

If you have been reading along this year, especially in recent weeks ... you know I have been participating in the Bride's Tree SAL. I set out to stitch all twelve themes in the Quaker style, using the same 28ct Glasgow raw linen and Belle Soie silks and hemp cord hangers for each amd every ornament.
So far I have done pretty well finding existing charts: Jan-May and August and December were all readily available. I had to design my own charts for June and July but was able to find charts that I could adapt for September and October. The only piece missing now is a Quaker Angel for November. Before I go to the trouble of transforming one of the PS Blackwork angels into a Quaker angel, I thought I'd ask for help from my readers. If anyone knows of a chart that would suit my needs, please leave a comment below. It needn't be a free chart. I'll buy a chart if someone can point me in the direction of something I like. I have googled but just haven't the patience or time to wade through over fifteen pages of links ... I started to do so, but when I went through four pages without finding anything useful ... well, I figured an appeal to other stitchers might be a better way to search.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Progress Report # 42

Still working on catching up to my ornament goals this week:


Bride's Tree SAL: I am doing rather well. Since October 1st, I have stitched and assembled the ornaments for May through August, and am currently stitching September's Teapot, symbolizing Hospitality. As I have mentioned before, I am making a conscious effort to make all these ornaments a genuine "set". All are stitched on 28ct Raw Glasgow linen and finished as fringed pillows with hemp cord hangers. All are stitched in the same style using Quaker motifs and Belle Soie silks. I have a three foot tall faux Christmas tree that I will use to display these ornaments come Christmas time ... the only other thing I will use on this particular tree will be some cranberry strands made of wooden beads ... this will give me the rustic look I am going for in my dining room. I spent most of Saturday stitching on the August Bride's Tree SAL ornament, a rose done in the Quaker style in Belle Soie silks Tortoise Shell and Sister Scarlet. I never cease to be amazed at how close juxtaposition has an effect on color values: the green with black-brown undertones of the Tortoise Shell looks so much greener beside the Sister Scarlet than it did alone against the raw linen. It really does seem to have the look of dark rose leaves, now. It is one of my favorite shades of green for backgrounds and borders since the brown-black undertones give it a neutral value that tends to work with an almost endless range of colors. I definitely need to order some more as I am running quite low, down to my last 12 strand length when just a week or so ago I had one full and one partial card. I finished and assembled the Rose Sunday afternoon at which point I began the September Teapot. Here are some photos of my progress on this series. The front of the teapot ornament is done except for the border. I figure I'll work on the border and the back for the ornament Monday morning before work. That will leave only the October ornament to do and I'll be all caught up ... at least till November 1st rolls around next week.



Halloween and Thanksgiving ornaments: I am still working on a few Halloween ornaments for this year's tree: M Design's Winifred Witch is my current WIP. There are two more kitted up and "in the pipeline". I have also asked my husband to order the kit for Monsterbubbles Day of the Dead as a Christmas gift ... now that's one ornament I really want to stitch ... but it will have to be for next year's tree. I just love the over-the-top, wildly creative Monsterbubbles signature style. And their use of unusual materials really calls to my aging hippie soul ... I am always using found objects in my own textile art. I also love playing with color and I enjoy the serendipitious moments that occur so often when stitching. For instance, this past week I have been working on two distinct projects that have led me to the planning of a third ... all because of an observation about color. When laying out my projects for this week's stitching bag, I couldn't help but notice that the 32 ct Aurora linen I am using for M Design's Winifred Witch and the Belle Soie silk Foo Foo Flamingo I used for my Quaker Fish ornament would combine to make the perfect tone-on-tone project ... perhaps a pin pillow or an ort jar cover. However, the silk looks so much paler against the raw linen shade used in the ornament that, had I not laid out all the materials on a table in close proximity to one another, I'd never have noticed how vibrant the silk could look against a more color-saturated background.

But even though I haven't met all my ornaments stitching goals, I am going to revert to my BAP, TW's Autumn Faerie for the remainder of October with this one exception: on Sunday, October 31st, I'll be participating in Rachel's Halloween SAL by stitching on whatever Halloween ornament is still a WIP and posting three times on my blog that day with photos of my progress.
A visit to Blacksheep's blog earlier this week had me salivating over the mere thought of gingerbread ... a pity photos can't be transformed into edible reality with the click of a mouse. I think that's something Bill Gates ought to get working on immediately. Failing the ability to attain instant gratification by computer magic, I dug out my favorite recipe for genuine New England style gingerbread and made it this morning ... I am also saving blacksheep's recipe for future baking adventures. One can never have too many gingerbread recipes.
Here's the one I use most often [from June Platt's New England Cookbook, c1971]
Raisin Gingerbread Preheat oven to 350F
2/3 c sugar
2/3c dark molasses
2/3c boiling water
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c raisins, washed and dried
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans
1 egg, well beaten
1 &1/2c sifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1c heavy cream lightly beaten
Mix tgether sugar, molasses and boiling water. While the mixture is still hot stit in the butter and baking soda. Let cool slightly. Add raisins, nuts and beaten egg. Sift together flour & spice and stir into molasses mixture. Pour batter into a well-buttered 9" square pan and bake in pre-heated oven 35-40 minutes, until it tests done in the center. Serve hot or cold with beaten cream.
I tend to double the spices or add chopped crystallized ginger because I like a very spicy cake. I also use lemon custard sauce instead of beaten cream, just because I like the combination of spice/sweet & lemon.
I had intended to spend the better part of Friday cooking and baking ... but that didn't happen ... so Saturday became a cooking day and Sunday, a baking day. I made a pan of Chicken Parmigiana and a pan of Eggplant Parmigiana, both with fresh mozzarella, on Saturday. This ought to take care of dinner through Tuesday nght. Since I work till 9:00pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and my husband's daily commute gets him home at 8:30pm, having something ready to re-heat quickly and conveniently is a priority. I picked up some Lemon Curd and some fresh lemons while shopping Saturday so I could embellish my gingerbread ... the lemon curd being a back-up since my home-made custard sauces tend to be rather hit-and-miss.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TGIF

Friday is my day off ... Sunday is a day off as well but since I am often involved in "command" performances at the parish where I work, it seldom feels like a day off! And although today I will be seeing one of the many medical specialists one gets to visit on a regular basis once one reaches a certain age, I still intend to have a marvelous time: stitching, mucking about with fall garden chores and maybe even doing a little cooking and baking. Housecleaning is entirely optional and will be included only if I have the time and energy ... rather unlikely, considering all my other plans.


First, my plans for stitching: I want to make the final push to catch up with the Bride's Tree SAL and, time permitting, finish stitching my current Halloween ornament WIP, Winifred Witch from M Designs. I'll post photos on Saturday or Sunday, as my progress warrants.


Second, my plans for the garden chores: purchase concrete sealer and white paint suitable for giving a fresh look to the tired old raw concrete retaining wall in the back yard. Before I start applying the sealer though, I'll have to rake and sweep and then wet down the backyard to eliminate as much of the airborne dust as possible ... I really want the finished back wall to look clean, smooth and fresh, rather than textured with paint-embedded debris. I hope to finish cleaning and sealing the wall today. Perhaps by Sunday, I'll be able to give it a first coat of white paint. I figure it'll probably take two or three coats of paint. Next weekend's project will be finishing the painting. After that, I want to construct a mini-rockery at the foot of the wall ... I have all this stone that used to mark off my vegetable garden [from those long-gone stay-at-home Mom days] and more that was "excavated" when we had the Belgian block patio installed. I have plenty of soil left from that same excavation, and I use the term soil very loosely ... this dirt came from an area of the yard that was once a pitiful excuse for an 12'x8' lawn ... it may best be described as depleted dust. But I figure if I enrich it with lots of the fallen leaves that are already beginning to mold and a fair amount of manure, I should have a rockery suitable for spring planting with plenty of sedum, hen & chicks and a few suitable flowering plants. Next fall, I should be able to introduce some interesting bulbs like snow drops, snow stars and wild hyacinths for early spring color. I plan to spend this winter reading up about rock gardens and suitable plants ... particularly relating to these conditions: filtered sunlight, sheltered location, fairly enriched soil. There's also the back door and doorstep to clean and repaint, and the screen from the screen door to bring to the hardware store for repair, and all the fallen tree limbs to gather and stack for kindling [though I don't yet have the outdoor fireplace I long for] ... so much to do ... so little time.


And if the weather turns uncooperative, there's always the cooking and baking: I have plans to make a couple of trays of eggplant and chicken parmigiana to take me through the next week ... a busy one professionally, with lots of late night classes and meetings ... since I know I'll be too tired to cook and I just can't afford to keep doing take-out ... calorically as well as financially. And as the weather cools, I have been longing for some apple crisp or some bread pudding with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream or perhaps some serious New England style gingerbread, with a lemony custard sauce.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

July down, August started, September & October to go ...

... I am talking about the Bride's Tree SAL ornaments, of course. I had fallen way behind. At the beginning of this month only January through April had been completely stitched and assembled. Since then I have stitched the back for May, both sides of June and July and assembled them and have started on August which ought to be a relatively quick stitch. The July ornament is, of course, the Fish, representing Christ's Blessings. Unable to find a fish charted in the Quaker style, I designed one of my own. I stitched it in Belle Soie silks Foo Foo Flamingo, Old Black Crow and Fern Frond. The August ornament is a Rose, representing Affection. I am using a Workbasket complimentary chart, Quaker Flower, and am stitching it in Belle Soie silks Tortoise Shell and Sister Scarlet. With luck, I shall have the August ornament done by Friday leaving me free to work on the September and October ornaments over the weekend. I may just catch up entirely by the end of the month. I have a teapot chart from which I will appropriate the outline only which I will then decorate with a large Quaker motif from the Workbasket Quaker Sampler. I haven't a clue as yet about how I shall stitch October's Pine Cone. The only chart I have that even remotely resembles the Quaker style is in an old Gift of Stitching issue. I am still looking for a better option.

Once I catch up with the Bride's Tree SAL, I shall be free to concentrate on my Halloween and Thanksgiving ornament goals. I have one Halloween ornament WIP and two more ornaments nearly kitted up ... just waiting for a few overdyed flosses I ordered from Stitchery Row. I'd like to have at least one of these done in time to add it to this year's Halloween Tree. I am four ornaments behind in my Thanksgiving ornament goal but I'll worry about that in November. I currently have 8 Thanksgiving ornaments, stitched either this year or last year. A decent enough showing, although four more would make it an even dozen ... ever so much better!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

COUNTING

First, the photos meant for yesterday's post.
Here is my own design of a Quaker Fish for the July installment of the Bride's Tree SAL ... I still have the tail to stitch with the Quaker motifs I have plotted on graph paper and then I'll need to make the back with the theme [Fertility] and my husband's and my monogram. I hope to finish this up completely by Wednesday evening and then start on Workbasket's Quaker Flower for the August installment of the SAL, a Rose symbolizing Affection.

On 32 ct Belfast linen called Aurora, here is my progress thus far on M Design's Winifred Witch ... it doesn't look like much yet But I hope to have it finished in time to hang on my Halloween tree this year.



This is the piece I did for Linda's Round Robin, the last rotation and the one furthest outside my stitching comfort zone. I sincerely hope this is what she had in mind when she said cartoonish animals in bold colors. I had to go through all my old magazines to find this excerpt from a larger piece called Liberty Parade from the July 2005 Stitcher's World.







And now back to our regularly scheduled post:


I just wanted to see how far I have managed to meet my 2010 goals. And I am doing better, at least in some categories, than I had thought.


The blogging every other day goal, well this one seems to be doing pretty well. Even if it doesn't always work out to exactly every other day, I have blogged more than 50% of the days this year.
The stitching from stash and limiting purchases to five charts a year, also doing quite nicely with only three charts purchased and one on order in mid-October. All other purchases this year have been floss, fiber, fabric, or embellishments needed to stitch existing chart stash. This means I will be able to agonize over which item on the wish list gets purchased next month.
The ornament a month goal, concentrating on Christmas and Thanksgiving: Already way over the top and with quite a few in the pipeline as well. I have stitched 11 Christmas ornaments, 5 Thanksgiving ornaments and 2 Halloween ornaments so far this year ... and I have plans to stitch another 6 Christmas ornaments for the Bride's Tree SAL, another 4 Thanksgiving ornaments for my table top tree and 4 more Halloween ornaments from the recent JCS issue. With 18 ornaments already stitched and another 14 in the works, that will make a total of 32 ... almost three times the stated goal. But even if I don't complete another ornament for the remainder of the year, I am well over goal. Furthermore, every single ornament made thus far has been assembled in its final finish ... all are ready to hang on a tree.


The one medium project a month goal, concentrating on Quaker, Christmas and Halloween charts. Well I have stitched ten medium projects so far this year, though they were not necessarily Christmas, Quaker or Halloween projects. For the Town Square SAL, I stitched the Jail, the Saloon and the Train Depot. Then I stitched both charts in the Workbasket Mermaids Singing leaflet. Two of the angels and my own PS Harvest Time piece, stitched for Linda's RR, qualify as medium to large projects And then there was the baptismal stole I stitched for one of my students. And, finally the one legitimate Halloween piece: Shepherd's Bush Be a Witch. That's ten projects from January to October, meeting the goal quite nicely. In addition to all of the above, I have managed to stitch ten assorted smalls: four of which were entries in the round robin, a pin cushion, a scissor keep, a tuckaway pouch, a bookmark, a summery ornament and a piece that I will eventually sew up as a gift bag. I may be slowing down a bit compared with previous years, but I do believe my totals are still respectable.

On the other hand, some of the goals have been a total wash-out: I have done little more than keep up with ornament finishes in the sewing finish department ... so the sewing basket continues to overflow ... and we are talking giant-sized laundry basket, here. My BAP hasn't seen any stitching action since August 11 and that was after another long hiatus as well. Mary's quilt was never assembled, I haven't learned to knit and the future craft room is still a storage dump. But there are still two and a half months left in the year so there is still time to take some action on the remaining goals.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #41

This post should have been published yesterday and with photos but we have a semi-annual ritual here at chez Doherty called the befouling of the printer/scanner connection which occurs in late spring and mid-autumn when the window unit air conditioner located immediately behind the computer desk is installed and removed. Together, my husband and youngest son preside over this ritual designed to drive me absolutely, positively crazy. I have checked all the obvious connection points and have had no success in getting the printer/scanner to come back to the land of the living. And, of course, the high priest of chaos, aka my husband, is a safe 40 some miles away blissfully ignorant of the gnashing of teeth going on at home. Happily, I will be too tired to be aggravated and aggravating by the time I see him late this evening at which time I will ask him, ever so politely, to see what he can do to get us up and running again.
Only 11 more weeks in the year, only 10 more weeks to Christmas. I'd best get busy on some of my annual and some of my Christmas stitching goals.


I am still catching up on my Bride's Tree SAL Christmas ornaments: when I originally decided to join this SAL, I came up with the notion of stitching all the ornaments in the Quaker style. It was very easy, at first, to find appropriate charts. Now that I am well into the project it is a little less so and I find myself either designing an ornament from scratch or tweaking an existing design till it meets my needs. If any readers of this blog know of Quaker charts for the various remaining monthly themes, I'd greatly appreciate a comment leading me in the right direction.

June: the Quaker Fruit Basket. Finished stitching and assembly: 10/15/10. See 10/15 post for photo.


July: the Quaker Fish. My own design. Started on 10/15/10

August: the Quaker Rose. Kitted up 10/15/10. I'll be using a Workbasket complimentary chart for this: Quaker Flower, stitched in Sister Scarlet and Tortoise Shell Belle Soie silks ... to make it more rose-like.

September: the Quaker Teapot. I found a baseline chart for my general outline in an old copy of Stitcher's World. I plan to decorate it with a large Quaker motif on the side and maybe stitch a small round motif for the knob on the lid. I'll use motif's from my Workbasket Quaker Sampler ... after all, isn't that what samplers were designed for: recording and preserving motifs to be used in other works? All very doable.

October: the Quaker Pinecone. Still looking for an appropriate chart. I may have to design one of my own. Hope to have this done by the end of the month, bringing me up-to-date on this SAL.

November: Quaker Angel or Church. I am leaning toward the angel option and still looking for a Quaker chart.

December: Quaker Santa. There is a chart available from Workbasket that I'll have to order on Monday. Another easy fix!

The final installment of Linda's RR, due to arrive 9-15-10, finally arrived on 10-15-10. So I quickly found a suitable chart in an old Stitcher's World magazine, an excerpt from a larger chart called Liberty Parade, which was a similar in size and style to the other pieces stitched. I got to work on it very quickly in the hope of mailing it on Monday. I look forward to receiving my own piece back but expect it to be delayed as well since the person two spaces back in the rotation fell a month behind leaving the person immediately before me in the rotation behind time as well. Anyway, this last installment was soooo outside my normal frame of reference [cartoonish animals], it forced me to pull out my stash of old magazines in the hopes of finding something suitable ... with the side effect that I not only found a chart for the RR, I found a chart to adapt for one of my Bride's Tree SAL ornaments, rediscovered some issues of Stitch that bear a second or even a third and fourth reading, and I came up with the perfect November monthly giveaway: a magazine grab bag. What could be better on a cold winter's afternoon, then a pot of tea and a stack of magazines to peruse? I call that a stitching Grand Slam and all because of Linda's RR. Many thanks to Linda!!! The piece was finished Sunday evening and will be mailed this morning.


On the Halloween front, I did a bit more stitching on Winifred Witch by M Design's. I am slowly becoming reconciled to using green floss for a witch's skin tone, expecially when the design is funky and fun ... though on more formal designs, I still prefer natural skin tones. When I get to the over one section [the eyes] on this 32ct linen, I'll be totally dependent on my magnifying lamp.


Stash Enhancement. I've made up my list and I've checked it twice. On Monday, I will order the afore-mentioned Workbasket Quaker Santa chart and all the fibers I'll be needing for the rest of my ornaments: be they Christmas, Halloween or Thanksgiving. I'll place my order with Stitchery Row since they seem to be the most diligent when it comes to mailing the same business day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thinking About 2011

Fall seems to be a time for looking ahead for me. As a teacher, I tend to plan from September to August in my professional life so perhaps it is not surprising that October has me still in the planning zone and thinking about my upcoming crafting year.
So, as the weather turns cool and I sip warm spiced cider, I am beginning to mull over stitching goals for 2011. I know I will still want to stitch from stash ... having so durn much of it ... and I will continue to limit my purchase of new charts to five per year. The first time I tried this, three years ago, I went into serious withdrawal and ended up buying something like 12 charts. The second year was a wee bit easier, with only 6 or 7 charts purchased. This year, here it is October, and only three charts have been purchased with one on order ... not bad. Of course, I have a wish list of half a dozen or so charts I wouldn't mind receiving as gifts from my family ... sort of defeating the whole purpose of limiting stash purchases of my own. Much as I like the Halloween items on the wish list, I'll probably eliminate them since I have so many Halloween charts on hand at present. That being said, I'll probably make 2011 the year of stitching Halloween charts. I will also want to continue work on my Quaker animal charts so that by the end of the year I'll be able to make up my quilt from those pieces. And I'll continue work on my Town Square SAL, though that will be the only SAL or RR for the year. And, always presuming I finish TW's Autumn Faerie as my BAP for this year, I shall designate TW's Woodland Angel Stocking [for my grandson Liam] as my 2011 BAP. I figure I'll go easy on the ornament-a-month deal in 2011, having stitched the Bride's Tree SAL and quite a few Thanksgiving and Halloween ornaments this year. I'll try to stitch a few more hearts or similar ornaments to extend the use of my table top ornament tree into February, but that'll be it. At that point, I'll swear off ornaments until the JCS Halloween ornament issue comes out in September and I see something I just must stitch. Of course, the monthly UFO goal that I have been ignoring in 2010 will have to be reinstated in 2011. Perhaps, with fewer ornament making goals, I'll find the time to attend to UFOs. I'll also want to get started on my denim braided rug.
I have about two and a half months to finish up work on 2010 goals ... some of which have been rather neglected. Maybe I can come up with that last burst of energy to get across the finish line with most goals accomplished or, at least, with some serious progress made.
Well, enough of this daydreaming, ... er, I mean planning ... it's time to go to work this morning.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interim Progress report

I have been concentrating on ornaments, to the exclusion of all other projects lately. I am determined to catch up to my goals in this area by the end of the month. I am up to 37 stitching finishes and 23 sewing/assembling finishes for the year, way down from previous years when I seemed to stitch much more. In addition, the majority of my finishes this year have been "smalls": ornaments, fobs, pin cushions. I have stitched a few medium sized pieces and have been plugging away at my BAP. I have to figure I am either slowng down with age or just don't seem to devote the same amount of time to stitching as I have in the past ... and yet I do stitch almost every day.

This is what I have accomplished over the past few days:

The Quaker Fruit Basket [my own design using an amalgamation of Quaker motifs appropriated from some Workbasket's charts in my possession] which is the June entry in the Bride's Tree SAL series. This is a bit different than the design I charted in a recent post ... I made the top of the basket broader and reconfigured the handle as well as adding a broader base to the basket. I am pretty happy with the final product.



The Quaker Fish [the July entry in the Bride's Tree SAL] ... So far all I have stitched is the outline ... I am still working out the rest of the design on graph paper. I believe I have worked out a rather Quaker-ish pattern of scales which I will stitch tomorrow. I visualize working the head of the fish in solid cross-stitch using a negative space [unstitched] Quaker motif for the eye. I still haven't worked out the design for the tail but it will probably be the upper half of a Quaker diamond motif, turned on its side. I am toying with the idea of working the scales in black and adding an outline of cross-stitches separated from the current outline by one space all around, also in black. The head and tail would be worked in the same salmon I have used for the primary outline.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #40

This post is a bit late because I have just returned from a long holiday weekend at the Hotel Sagamore in Bolton's Landing, NY ... one of those glorious old inns from the late nineteenth century that transports you back to a time when ladies really did spend entire days stitching on the veranda, when folks played croquet on the lawn, when formal tea was served between 2:00 and 4:00pm, when couples strolled along garden paths in late afternoon sunshine and when such activities were all that was required of a vacation resort. I did all of the above and even went on a very leisurely cruise of Lake George. I am including a shot of me stitching on the veranda, alas, in modern dress instead of one of those romantic turn of the century outfits, and another photo of the view that kept distracting me from my stitching. The only thing I didn't do that was on offer was take a horse and buggy ride around the island [my husband sort of raised his eyebrows when I suggested it and then headed straight to the wicker armchairs on the veranda]. The place has changed since our last visit some three years ago. A beautiful sloping lawn once covered with Adirondack chairs is now the site of a series of enormous swimming and diving pools ... looking quite out of place when viewing the lovely old Sagamore from the lakeshore. And the service has deteriorated slightly, but then that seems to be happening everywhere. Well, I am back to my usual work-a-day schedule after a few days fantasizing that I was the wife of one of the first generation robber baron millionaires ... so, bring on the 10 hour work days and the parent meetings and the deadlines and the classes ... I am rejuvenated for the next little while.

First, catching up a bit on the Bride's Tree SAL

Bride's Tree SAL June ornament: a Quaker Fruit Basket [Plenty]. Stitched on 28 ct Glasgow raw linen in Belle Soie silks of Scarecrow and Sister Scarlet. I made some progress on this piece but was hindered by the fact that my silk kept shredding. I switched to a brand new needle but the problem persisted. I have had this same issue with other Belle Soie silks recently ... something that has never happened before. I am wondering if the painted box in which I am storing them is giving off noxious chemical fumes that are breaking down the fibers. Some gifts soaps or candles [can't remember which] came in this lovely heart shaped box painted in a folk heart style and I kept it to store some of my special fibers. In retrospect, probably not such a good idea.




Bride's Tree SAL July ornament: a Quaker Fish [Fertility]. This has been charted out and will be stitched on 28ct Glasgow raw linen in Belle Soie silks.

Next, the Town Square SAL: This SAL has been pretty much a non-starter. I am the only one who seems to be stitching on it. At least, I am the only one who has been posting to the SAL blog and even that has been after a three month hiatus! I finished Val's Stuff Train Depot while stitching on the veranda this past weekend ... in between long intervals of just gazing at the scenery and day-dreaming and, this really shows my age, napping.



Some hand-finishing: I assembled and trimmed Full Moon ... when doing a little stash diving, I came up with some lovely black velvet cording ... just the perfect trim for this piece. The final touch is a hanger made from some glass jet beads salvaged from an antique necklace, interspersed with a few Mill Hill seed beads.



And a new off-goal start: M Designs' Winnifred Witch: This is stitched on a 32ct Belfast overdyed linen, Aurora, using most of the recommended fibers but making a few substitutions so I might stitch-from-stash. Even on 32 ct, this chart [designed for 28ct] is shaping up to be an over-sized ornament - I thought JCS had guidelines about size - I now think I should have used a 40 ct but the only orange toned linen I had on hand was 32ct.


There are still two more ornaments I wish to stitch from the recent JCS Halloween issue: the Plum Street Sampler's Halloween Greetings and the Monsterbubble's Day of the Dead entries; but I'll have to order the kit for the Monsterbubbles ornament, a funky piece stitched on screening and using a 20ct waste canvas, not the sort of things easily found even in a fully stocked on-line needlework shop. I have almost everything on hand for the Halloween Greetings ornament and, with just a few substitutions from stash, should be able to kit it up in time to stitch for Rachel's Halloween Day SAL. I'll ask my husband to get me the Monsterbubbles' kit as a Christmas gift and will hold it in reserve to stitch up for next year. I know I shall continue to see "must stitch" Halloween ornaments but I shall need a bigger tree ... my current table top model is getting very crowded.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And the winner of the October giveaway is ...

... number 8, kittycat, unscientifically but randomly selected by my husband who was told to pick a number between one and fourteen. I have left her a message on her own blog and will mail her charts once I get a snail mail address.

Friday, October 8, 2010

WIP Photos

I have finished the stitching on Ink Circles' Full Moon from JCS Sept 2010 and have cut out the cardboard shapes for mounting it ... just need to pad it with heavy weight interfacing and some fusible fleece ... and assemble. I'll have to check my stash of manufactured cording and trim and see if I have anything appropriate. Otherwise I have some DMC Black perle cotton I can use to make hand-made cording. Hope to have the "finish-finish" done in time for the weekly progress report.
There are still two more ornaments I wish to stitch from the JCS Halloween issue: the M Design's and Monsterbubbles entries. I have almost everything I need to stitch the M Design's witch on hand but I'll have to order the kit for the Monsterbubbles Day of Death ornament, a funky piece stitched on screening and using a 20ct waste canvas, not the sort of things easily found even in a fully stocked on-line needlework shop.

I have also begun work on my current piece for the Town Square SAL ... this will make my third building for that project. I have already stitched Monsterbubble's Jail and Crescent Colors Saloon. This piece is Val's Stuff's Train Depot. I have tweaked it a bit since the former art teacher still residing in my soul had to correct the perspective a bit and complete/balance the lines of the supports for the porch roof as well as add heft to the benches to keep them in scale with the rest of the piece. I'll also be eliminating the second color on the bottom third of the wall since it distorts the perspective as well ... ending just under the porch rail and making it look solid instead of fence-like. Anyway, this photo represents two day's stitching [probably about an hour or two each day, including some frogging of elements I decided to change. It's not so much that I think I am a better designer than the professional designer ... it's just that I can be pretty OCD about my work ... and I know the flawed perspective would just ruin the finished piece for me.

I plan to stitch all the public buildings in this SAL [ clock tower, post office, town hall, fire station, church, school house] as well as a few of the shops [needlework, quiltingshop, bookshop, bakery, button shop, fiber shop, cafe, antiques shop, tea shop, etc.]. I haven't decided yet whether to make it into a coverlet/quilt or a series of cubes or pillows. I guess I'll decide on the final finish once I have accumulated enough stitched pieces.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Designing an Ornament

When I first conceived the idea of participating in the Bride's Tree SAL by stitching a Quaker style ornament for each month's theme, I realized I would have to design a few of the ornaments myself. No problem, I thought, how hard can it be? After all, I have designed pieces before. Lot's of pieces.

BUT all the pieces I previously have designed have been rather free, open-ended affairs ... not formulaic Quakers. The best metaphor I can come up with for describing the difference is this: imagine someone trained and skilled in modern dance trying to choregraph a classical ballet. I have a very clear mental image of the finished project but translating it into a graph within a framework no larger than 70 stitches by 70 stitches is not quite the easy process I had imagined it would be. The tool I am using most frequently is my eraser. I know I could be doing this on my computer but I am much more comfortable using my pad of graph paper, my #2 pencils and a store of patience I didn't realize I had. I am rather enjoying the process ... it's like solving a complex puzzle and creating art at the same time ... bringing both right and left brain functions into play. I have photographed some of my sketches to give you an idea of my progress, such as it is, to date. It may not seem like I have accomplished a great deal but I have been enjoying the design process as much as I anticipate enjoying the actual stitching and the final product of a finished ornament.

The Fruit Basket for the June ornament is relatively easy. I have simply appropriated and rearranged some Quaker elements from Workbasket's Quaker Flower [a complimentary chart found on their website] to make the basket. I have toyed with the idea of changing the shape of the handle of the basket ... making it flare out, then up and over: to make more room for some apple shapes. Now that's where the hard part comes in ... I have been dithering over the arrangement of apples. I think I'll probably end up going with a stylized pyramid of round Quaker motifs. But if I do that I will probably eliminate the handle entirely and widen the basket itself a bit since I am well within my stitch limits as currently charted.


My July ornament, a Quaker Fish, is an entirely different story. This one is being designed from scratch. It is based, very loosely, on the Christian icthus symbol. Working Quaker elements into such a slender, barely there curve was next to impossible ... at least for me. So I had to change the basic shape a wee bit, to maintain the symmetry I was aiming for. It's not quite the image I had in mind originally but it is the closest I can come to translating said image onto a graph. I need to play with this a while longer. I may have to skip over the Fish and stitch the other ornaments in this series. I find that letting a design ferment in my sub-conscious for a while often has splendid results. Once I've caught up to stitching the rest of the monthly ornaments, I can come back and pick up the Fish.

I enjoy the relatively rare forays I make into designing ... but I am definitely an amateur. I can not imagine how the professionals find the discipline to stick with the process and produce four or five designs [or more] every season of the year. That may change when I retire but then again, maybe not. There are so many things I want to do in retirement: get back to bread-making, yogurt making and some serious gourmet cooking; spend more time writing, particularly my poetry; travel more extensively, especially to the West Coast where I have relatives; do some serious re-decorating of my home to accomodate a retired lifestyle, converting spare bedrooms to office space and a sewing/craft room, uncluttering the living spaces ... and the list goes on and on.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October Giveaway

This will be a sort of seasonal giveaway:
**2 Halloween charts, Raise the Roof's Sweet Tooth [chart only, no buttons] and Mini-Haunted Quilt by a gifted amateur designer
**a fall chart, Acorn Mini from Twisted Stitches.
**and two Glory Bee charts: The first, If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher, seems appropriate as we conclude the first month of school ... the winner might like to stitch it as a Christmas gift for a teacher. The second, Dinner Choices, also seems appropriate since so many families eat on the run this time of year with meetings, extracurricular activities and all sorts of car-pooling going on.

Five charts in all, folks.

If you wish to enter your name for this 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 enter.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #39

Ornaments are addictive and I have succumbed to the fascination. In fact, since completing the RR piece on the 15th, ornaments have monopolized my stitching time. I have been adding to this post over a number of days, so the order of the photographs will be most recent finishes descending to older finishes ... for some reason, my "add image" function requires that I load photos bottom to top, since I can't seem to drag a photo past one already in place ... I am probably doing something wrong in my inimitably tech-challenged way ... but, anyway, here are the results of a week-long ornament marathon:


Quaker Fruitbasket, a pastiche of various Workbasket Quaker Motifs [for Bride's Tree SAL June ornament]. Stitched on 28ct Glasgow raw linen in Belle Soie Silks Scarecrow, Sister Scarlet & Wheatgrass. This is a WIP photo: I am making this up as I go along. There'll be an open work diamond in the body of the basket right above the row I am working now. And I'll be making a handle using a motif from Workbasket's Quaker Flower complimentary chart. All that will be left to do then will be to chart out some apples and leaves to fill the basket ... though that may be trickier than it sounds ... I have a very definite idea about how I want the final image to look.


One more WIP photo: Ink Circles' new Halloween ornament, Full Moon, stitched on 28 ct. Country French Latte linen in Belle Soie silks Old Black Crow, Paprika and Pumpkin Carriage. This particular ornament didn't impress me all that much when I saw it in the JCS Sept. 2010 issue but it is shaping up to be my very favorite Halloween ornament this year. I don't know whether that is because I am stitching it in silks, or because I plan to finish it in a somewhat more formal style than the magazine model, or because the magazine photo just didn't do it justice. Even the stitching process turned into a positively Zen experience. The Old Black Crow silk had a tendency to shred until I slowed down, consciously softening my tension and stitching in a deliberate up and down motion ... rather like concentrating on breathing in and out, in and out, in and out. The carefully balanced design elements of branches and cat's tails forming such elegant arches added to the Zen-like mood. Can you tell I am loving this little ornament?

Off-goal but irresistible, La-D-Da's Tis Green from the JCS Ornament Preiew issue. Stitched on 28ct Country French Latte linen using Caron's Wildflowers Black Watch, a very fine perle cotton in dark forest greens with a touch of blue/black. Stitched on 10/2 and assembled on 10/3. This was a lot of fun to stitch. I knew I had to do it after I had seen a photo of Dani's finish on her blog. Another instance of a magazine model photo not doing an ornament justice.



Aury's Quaker Bird in a Nest [for Bride's Tree SAL May ornament] Even with the frogging and re-stitching, I managed to finish and assemble this one on 10/1/10. Stitched on 28ct Glasgow raw linen in Belle Soie silks: Chester Blue, Chocolat, and Fern Frond. I have fallen way behind in this series, this being my first finish in this SAL since April. It feels good to get back on track.



And, because I accidentally left my stitching bag at work Monday night, I started an off-goal ornament, this one from the JCS Preview Christmas issue: Glory Bee's A Partridge in a Pear Tree. I switched out the colors a bit on this one since I wanted to use some Belle Soie silks I have on hand. Finished the stitching and assembly on 10/1/10.
Blue Ribbon's Perched on a Pumpkin, from JCS Sept. 2010 issue: Finished and assembled 9/30/10. Stitched on 28ct Country French Latte linen using the suggested WDW fibers, trimmed with hand-made black cord and a hanger made of Mill Hill beads.

The Kreinik Cornucopia and Prairie Schooler Pumpkins and Harvest Time Turkey were pictured on an earlier posts. 9/21 and 9/26.


As I have said, September was Catch-Up month and apparently October will be as well, since I am way behind in the goals I set for ornament stitching. In addition to the above-mentioned WIPs, I still have the following to do in order to be properly caught up:
---design and stitch a Quaker Fish for the July Bride's Tree SAL, front and back.
---stitch Workbasket's Quaker Flower in shades appropriate to a Rose, for the Bride's Tree SAL August ornament, front and back.
---find and/or design and then stitch a Quaker Teapot, for the Bride's Tree SAL September ornament, front and back.
---find and/or design and stitch a Quaker Pinecone, for the Bride's Tree SAL October ornament, front and back
---four more Thanksgiving ornaments, to make one a month for the year to date
---and, just because I want to, a three more of the Halloween ornaments from JCS 2010 Halloween issue