Now, clearly, I am violating all the rules of a true Crazy Challenge. I am not frantically changing projects daily for the first 10 or 15 or 30 days of the year. I am not posting progress photos on a daily basis. I have not joined WIPocalyspe or any other formal challenge group, nor am I posting photos on a group site. I am just doing my own thing. And there is a logic underlying my challenge madness. I had wanted to attend Sue Donnelly's Alumni Retreat in March or the Sturbridge Retreat in early summer but I decided I can't justify going on another Stitcher's Hideaway, much as I love them, till I have completed at least a few of the class projects I have been accumulating since I first discovered CATS in 2005. This is not to say I have never completed a class project. I have, truly, I have! All of the Stitching Banquet projects from CATS 2005 and 2006 are done. However, that being said: nothing else has been finished. A look at my Class Projects sidebar tells the whole sad story. But 2012 is the year all that is going to change. Currently, I have this image of myself as Marley's Ghost from A Christmas Carol, but instead of money boxes and deed cases shackled to my ankle, there are all these projects, dragging at me and causing me to stagger and stumble. Of course, being a neat and tidy stitcher, all the projects are safely sealed in Zip-Loc bags to keep them pristine as I drag them behind me in ever more tangled and twisted numbers. But, finally, the time has come to eschew denial and to start managing my Stitcher's ADD and develop some coping mechanisms that will allow me to re-enter the mainstream stitching community. I fully intend to finish enough of the old projects so that I can attend the October Stitcher's Hideaway with a clear conscience. Well, that's the plan anyway. So for some progress photos. When last seen, Row 13 of Holly and Hearts was stitched. Since then, I have added the Rhodes Hearts, Long Stitched Squares and Tacked Lattice Stitches to this area and I have been doing the beading as I go along, carefully rolling my linen with flannel as I work with my scroll bars. This is another form of self-gratification and self-motivation: it really pleases me to see the piece come alive and makes me wish to continue to the next row and the next and the next. I am wondering now how I ever put this piece down. [Of course, I put it down because, at the time, something even shinier caught my eye ... but that jackdaw mentality is something I am working on, thank you very much]. I have also reached that stage of the project where I start dreaming ahead, wondering how I am going to frame the piece. Should I go very Baroque with an elaborately carved frame in winter white touched with silver and a winter white matte? That would complement the piece quite nicely. Or should I keep the frame very simple, possibly green in color and select a matching green matte [both the color of DMC 500] and showcase the design with the contrast? That might work. Or should I go for something in between? I have a feeling I am going to really enjoy my next visit to the framer. Still, all that's several weeks in the future. For now, here is what Holly and Hearts looks like with several more rows completed. First, a photo of the tracery heart in all its beaded and bedazzled glory. And next, a photo of my progress on the alphabet rows. I am really not liking this alphabet. The instructions indicate it is to be stitched "over one" which is not entirely accurate, given the height and width of the letters. Furthermore, since this is a back-stitched alphabet, some of the stitches slip under the linen and have to be teased out and restitched. The only way I seem to be able to keep everything on the surface of the linen is to stitch every other stitch and then go back and fill in the blanks. Tedious and I am still not satisfied ... the letters just don't seem as well defined and crisp as they should be. And securing ends on the back of the linen is a nightmare. If I weren't so far along I might consider putting in a monogram in larger lettering ... heck, I still might do just that. A lower band in the sampler has space for the year in large numbers, so a monogram in letters sized comparable to the numbers shouldn't be at all out of place. The more I think of it the more I like this alternative. I guess I will be frogging this evening ... or maybe not. I'll have to think about this a bit more. Opinions from readers are welcome ... just leave a comment.