Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Seventy Six Trombones Led the Big Parade ...

 Actually, It's seventy six Queen Stitches making up the Strawberry motifs in the English Band Sampler ... but I certainly feel like staging a parade to celebrate their completion.  Now don't get me wrong, I like Queen Stitches quite a lot.  They are intricate without being particularly difficult and they are quite attractive.  But seventy six is a bit much even for me.  I was curious and I timed this particular bit of stitching.  It took me 4 hours 48 minutes and 30 seconds to complete all 76 Queen Stitches ... one two hour sitting and one ... well, you can do the math.
 The photo above shows the third row of Part I, now complete while the photo to the right is a close-up of the strawberries.  This second photo is truer so far as actual color goes: the strawberries were stitched using DMC 350, 351, 352 and 353; the caps are DMC 3011.  And the photo below is a slightly out-of-focus close-up of a single strawberry.  Clearly, I am not the best photographer on the planet but I wanted to give you some sense of the strawberry's construction: first a row of 4 Queen Stitches, followed by a row of 5, then another row of 4, then rows of 3, 2 and 1 as it tapers to a point.
I have started on Part II from the SANQ Summer 2012 issue.  The first row of Part II involves some cross stitch and lots and lots of satin stitch.  It ought to very relaxing.  Satin stitch will be perfect for what I have to do tomorrow: sitting in an auto dealership waiting room as my Hyundai is inspected and has its regularly scheduled maintenance.  I plan to do as much of the cross stitch as I can today and save the satin stitching  fill for the waiting room tomorrow.

The nice thing about today's stitching is that, with it, I have now met all my July stitching goals.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two more weeks staycation

I hope to catch up on quite a bit during the last two weeks of my stay-cation: working on clearing out the junk room, preparations for a major Fall yard sale, serious house-cleaning, reorganizing some banking, seeing the remaining doctor's on my annual check-up schedule, getting back into an exercise routine and, of course, some stitching.  I am, as always, doomed to failure since I have a tendency to overestimate what I can accomplish in any given time frame.  But if I accomplish even half of what I have planned that will be a good thing.  Since the days are still quite warm, I will work on the junk room/yard sale prep project for just one hour early each morning ... timed with my handy dandy digital kitchen timer.  That will give me a good 14 hours of productive time and should make a serious dent in both projects.  After that, I shall retire to the air-conditioned spaces of the ground floor and work on reorganizing my kitchen, cleaning out a few closets, shampooing the rugs and working on some stitching and sewing.

As to the stitching:  After Mass, I went out to lunch with a friend I haven't seen in a month.  But once home I settled down to an afternoon of watching Lord of the Rings DVDs and stitching.  I have one more finish to show you.  The Japanese Kogin Tea Cozy is fully stitched and only needs to be assembled.  The class book has a few other projects in it, including several trivets in a variety of shapes and there was also an insert with a Kogin Christmas Tree ornament.  So while I'll be filing the class book for now, I'll keep the ornament chart in my current stitching bag.  I'd like to stitch it as one of my small "keep-the-momentum-going" projects in August.  And I even had time this evening to get back to work on The English Band Sampler.  I tried charting out the text of the Grace Before Meals that I wanted to stitch in the top panel but even stitched over one, it was an uncomfortably tight fit.  As an alternative, I charted and stitched my name and the year instead.  I should be able to get to the Queen stitched strawberries tomorrow and move on to Part II.  This will mean that I'll have met all my July goals and even exceeded some of them.  I'll take a photo once I have gotten a bit further along.

I have mentioned in the past that I am an enthusiastic attendee of Sue Donnelly's Stitcher's Hideaways.  Well, Sue has just announced that the Mystic 2013 will be taught by one of my very favorite instructors, Thea Dueck of Victoria Sampler.  This is an absolute must on my "things-to-do-in-2013" list.  Now, I am already planning to work on finishing up all the projects from Thea's 2007 Mystic class as an August goal and I will move the 2010 Sturbridge projects to the next spot in the queue for my 2012 Class Project Challenge .  It will be my aim to have these stitching accessories complete and ready to go for the Show and Tell evening in 2013 Hideaway.

Some may wonder how my garden is going.  The answer: not as well as I'd like.  I never did have the time to fill the second large planter box for my other crops.  It is already a third-filled with dead leaves, nicely rotting away to a rich organic leaf mold.  I'll add more fallen leaves come the Fall and mix in a half dozen bags of organic soil to speed up the composting process so that next Spring I shall have two planters ready for my square foot gardening.  As to the crops in my one functioning planter:  The excessive rains have done a number on my zucchini plants, lots of blossoms but the fruit only half forms and then breaks off.  The tomatoes on the other hand will provide a bumper crop.  Lots of green tomatoes just waiting to ripen.  I have already harvested some of the grape tomatoes for salads and garnish.  The Beefsteak and Roma tomatoes ought to be ripening very shortly.  I also think I will have to have the landscaper come in the Fall and trim back some of the trees above the retaining wall.  It's been two years since that was last done and I want a bit more sun in the back yard.  And next Spring, I really need to replace the fencing ... my neighbors' plantings grow right through the chain link causing me no end of problems with trimming.  The growth makes my own yard feel smaller, as if their plants are encroaching on my space.

Back to Stitching on Goal

There is a line in an old Bill Cosby stand-up comedy routine that keeps playing in my head: "You have fooled around long enough!"  I hear his voice, almost god-like, admonishing me to get back to serious business and apply myself.

Okay, play time is over but I am still not quite ready to get back to my current full fledged and complicated BAP/WIP, the English Band Sampler.  I guess I am resisting external pressure.  The Fall issue of SANQ arrived four days ago, containing Part III of the English Band Sampler and I am still working on Part I.  I wish someone would explain to me how July, which I have always considered high Summer, suddenly qualifies as Fall.

 While I am avoiding the sampler, I have picked up one of the simpler projects from my July Goals List, The Japanese  Kogin Tea Cozy.   There is a reasonable hope that I'll be able to meet my goal of finishing this in the three remaining days of July.    When this is done it will be my third finish from the class projects list.  I had hoped to be further along at this point in the year.  So, I "have fooled around long enough."  Which is not to say there is no joy to be had in stitching the tea cozy project.  There is a great deal of pleasure in working this piece: it is not the usual sort of project I stitch so there is all the delight of novelty; I get to use a different stitch [straight] and a different fabric [Aida] and a different fiber [perle] than is usual for me; and the end project, a tea cosy, links in with another passion of mine, fine teas and all their accoutrements.  [Now, normally, I avoid Aida like the plague but for this project, it is the perfect fabric.]  It's just that I have moved on from the magpie glee of playing with shiny paper and fibers that has occupied my stitching time for the past several days.  It has been fun but one can't spend all one's time picking over glistening bits and bobs and other shiny distractions anymore than one can spend the entire school day at recess or an entire meal on the dessert course.  However tempting that might be in the short term, one does get sated eventually.  So, I am now back to working on something a little more practical, a little more straightforward, a little more conventional, a little more substantial.  When last seen, the Tea Cozy looked like the photo above.  The second photo shows yesterday's progress.  I have filled in the necessary shape with the dark blue stitching but still have all the lighter blue fill stitching to do.  The real challenge will be the finishing.  The directions are not quite as clear as I would like and it has been six years since I took the class and saw the stitched model. I have a vague recollection of a flat sandwich of soft flannel, quilt batting and the stitched piece with the edges bound with double fold binding tape ... some of which extended to make "ribbons" to tie the cozy around a teapot.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  I still have the stitching to complete.  Time enough to stress over the sewing finish when I get there.

The next class project piece I will pick up is the 2007 Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway packet which contains a stitcher's "purse", a scissor fob, a biscornu and a scissor case.  Since there will be multiple small finishes perhaps that will provide a sense of moving forward.  I knew working from the class project list would be time consuming but this snail's pace of mine is very disappointing.  I have to keep reminding myself that class pieces are by their very nature more complex and require a greater investment of time.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Waiting Room Stitching

Between driving my husband to the doctor's office and catching up on a few regularly scheduled tests and exams of my own, I have spent a fair amount of time in waiting rooms this past week.  I always carry a project with me.  I like something relatively easy to work even in uncertain light: a 28ct linen or a Laguna or some other evenweave.  My current purse project is Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.    This was kitted by the LNS with 28ct WDW Tin Roof linen and it was only after I was well into the project that I noticed that it should have been kitted with 40ct linen.  It should have been obvious from the start that 28ct would have yielded a pin pillow suitable only for a giantess ... but I was thinking more about the quaint design than the endgame when I picked up the piece.  I particularly like the borders [top and bottom] which will be stitched solidly in alternating blocks of color around the coin shapes and with even more color accenting the scalloped edge.  And , of course, there is still the tombstone angel to stitch above the text ... one of the signature motifs of the Primitive Needle designer.  I will use the 28ct version to make a storage case for my knitting needles and re-stitch the design on 40 ct as a pin pillow at some later date.    

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still playing

I've finished stitching seven of the Merry Mystic ornaments [and my own variations thereof], playing with various color schemes and shapes and using up odds and ends of Kreinik and Rainbow Gallery threads left over from other projects.  It does my frugal soul good to use up all these bits and pieces from other projects, especially in the process of making something I can actually use this coming Christmas.  There's something oddly satisfying about empty cards and plastic spools ... clear proof that I have gotten my full money's worth from past stash purchases.  I wonder if I am the only stitcher who gets a kick out of using up fiber.  Is it a bizarre personal quirk or do others get the same gratification as I do from an empty spool?  I even have charts that I keep for the purpose of using up odds and ends of floss:  my own Riona's Book Nook Bookmark or La D Da's Christmas Cardinal ornament.  I am two decades too young to be a Depression baby, so it must be the aging hippie reduce-reuse-recycle mindset.

In any case, here are a few photos.  Some of the ornaments are fully finished: that is, backed with adhesive felt and adorned with beaded hangers.   Some are merely stitched and awaiting the purchase of more felt since the only color I had on hand was orange which was simply not appropriate for some of my colorways.  Since most of my colorways involve some shades of blue, I believe a dark blue will be the most economical choice when buying one more sheet of adhesive backed felt.  Just one sheet ought to do it.  I have enough silver perforated paper to make another half dozen or so of these ornaments but that will have to wait for another time.  I am ready to move on to something else.  My apologies for the rather dark pictures but the weather here has been dismal and overcast and I was unable to take any photos outdoors.  These are really so much more colorful and shiny and glitzy than these lousy photos would have you believe ... Trust me, the colors are fantastic and bright and fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

At Play

The Playground
Having just finished one BAP, I am giving myself a short respite before diving into the next one.  I dug up the silver perforated paper that I bought five years ago [how time flies].  And I have pulled all my Kreinik Very Fine braids and Rainbow Gallery braids from stash.  I have settled in to play with the Sue Donnelly's Merry Mystic ornament charts.  These charts were included in the swag bags of the 2007 Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway.  For more information about Sue's great retreats, see her website.  I will, of course, add some variations of my own: using rice stitches and Brick stitches as well as the charted Smyrna Crosses, substituting colors, finishing the edges with a blanket stitch and affixing some beaded hangers.  I must say these little ornaments are a lot of fun and very quick and easy stitches.  I will probably use them as package trim this Christmas.  But that is in the future and really quite irrelevant at the moment.  For now, it is enough to enjoy playing with shiny threads and paper, a variety of specialty stitches and a palette of jewel tones.  Sometimes, I think we stitchers get so caught up in the art of our craft that we forget its simpler joys.  Today, I feel like a very young child who has just opened a fresh 64 ct box of Crayola crayons and flipped over the cover of a thick new pad of pure white paper!
One of the larger ornaments

Since the only adhesive felt I had in my stash was orange [purchased for some long-forgotten Halloween project, no doubt], I stitched one of the ornaments using a rust and gold colorway with just a few stripes of green and blue for contrast.  I should have removed the rather distracting magnet from view before taking the shot but you get the idea.  I used cross stitches, rice stitches and Smyrna crosses in this particular ornament and used only Kreinik Very Fine Braids.
This photo of a few of the stitched but not yet trimmed and finished ornaments came out darker then I expected.  But if you click on it to enlarge it you will get a better idea of the true colors.  The smaller uncut and trimmed ornament was stitched using a combination of Rainbow Gallery Gold Rush and Treasure Braid and some Kreinik braid  all in a colorway of blue and green.  I used all of the same stitches noted above but added the tent stitch [aka, half cross] since some of the Rainbow Gallery fibers were thicker, offering greater coverage.   

I think I'll try an orange, gold and red colorway next: all the colors of flame, appropriate enough on a day with temps predicted in the 90s.  I may even try my hand at designing one of my own shapes next. I'll have to e-mail Sue and let her know how much fun I am having with these clever designs of hers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Finally, Photos

First, my current purse project: Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  I bought this as a chart with fabric included partial kit and started working on it assuming the proper fabric was kitted.  Not so: it was supposed to be 40ct WDW Tin Roof and it is 28 ct WDW Tin Roof.  So the stitched piece will be made up as a case for my knitting needles rather than as a pin cushion for embroidery needles.  Otherwise, I was able to finish kitting it up from my stash of overdyes with just a few substitutions.  I'll be spending part of my morning in a doctor's waiting room, so I should get a bit more done on this today.
 This is Sue Donnelly's Merry Mystic 2007 Christmas ornament, stitched on silver perforated paper with Kreinik metallic braid and backed with adhesive felt.  Sue generously gave this little kit in the swag bags at the 2007 Stitcher's Hideaway.  She included two other designs reminiscent of the shaped glass ornaments everyone had on their trees in the 1950s.  I bought a couple of sheets of silver paper and will be stitching the other designs as well.  It'll be a good way to use up some of those partial spools of Kreinik Very Fine Braid left over from all my Dragon Dreams projects.
 I rarely stitch on Aida since I find the stuff very coarse.  But the 14ct Aida included in this kit was surprisingly soft and had a very nice hand, making work on this project unexpectedly pleasant.  The blank space in the lower right corner is meant for a small pocket.  I hope to work on the sewing finish for this piece sometime this week.  The kit directions call for a very fussy pillow finish with ruffles and eyelet lace but I plan to do something a little more tailored with blue and white pillow ticking and white piping.  It is meant for my grandson, Liam, after all, who is into things that go Vroom and Bang.  Though I am told he also enjoys Clink as coins go into the silver train bank I gave him last year.  Somehow, I don't see him appreciating ruffles and lace.    I may do another version on linen in pink with ribbons and lace and other frou-frou for Piper who is into all things girly!

And now for the star of this post:  Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie is done.  Started as part of my 2011 Crazy January Challenge, I had to carry it over into 2012 with two other challenge pieces [Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons, finished earlier this year and Alessandra Adelaide's Zucca, the only remaining 2011 Challenge yet to be stitched].  Black'd Skie had special meaning for me this year: I dedicated this memorial sampler to my father who died 25 years ago on May 27th and would have been 85 years old this July 21. My goal was to finish the piece by July 21, a goal missed by just one day ... due to a power failure.  I finished the piece on July 22.  I personalized the tomb in block 2 with the year of my Dad's death and with his initials, V and A, superimposed on one another.  I found finishing this piece rather bittersweet since I recalled my Dad with every stitch.  The design itself was delightfully quirky and the colors were a joy to the eye and the Pure Palette silks a pleasure in the hand.
The last photo is a close-up of Blocks 5 and 6 since I was unable to post progress photos as I worked on them this past week.  I did make a few small changes in both blocks.  In Block 5, I made a mistake in spacing the bottom line of the text and had to add a motif or two to balance things a bit.  And in Block 6, I replaced the date "1727" with my own signature and finish date.  My next BAP will be SANQ's English Band Sampler.  I am almost finished with Part I and have Part II in my stitching bag.  I figure I may just manage to finish them up before Part III is published in the Fall 2012 issue of SANQ.  And, of course, I usually start my Christmas gift stitching in July and this year will be no different.  I am finally going to start Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking for Liam and I'd like to get started on Dimensions' Woodland Maiden to adapt for Piper's stocking as well.  Ideally, I'll finish both in time for 2012 but a more realistic goal may be 2013.  These projects should keep me pretty busy for the remainder of the year but I do hope to work on a few of the pieces from my Class Project Challenge List as well.  This will be a year with relatively few finishes but since most of them will have been BAPs, I can hardly quibble!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Still using the droid

Sorry, pictures will have to wait a few more days.  As a consequence of a few day trips, I have completed a few simple car friendly (i.e., very simple) projects: the Tooth Fairy Pillow which was stitched on an unusually soft 14ct Aida and Sue Donnelly's Merry Mystic 2007 ornament which was stitched with Kreinik braid in jewel colors on 18ct silver perforated paper.   I have also completed all the text in Block 6 of Black'd Skie.  I hope to have this project fully stitched by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Some Finishes

I still relying on my droid to post so photos will have to wait till I retrieve my pc on the weekend.  But I can report some progress: Block 5 of Black'd Skie is stitched and the Tooth Fairy Pillow is stitched.  I have begun stitching the inner border of Block 6 and have some small hope of finishing the block by the weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Androi Post

This is my first post using my Samsung droid.  I haven't yet figured out how to take and post photos using the droid so you will just have to take my word for it when I tell you that I have finished Block 5 of Primitive Needles' Black'd Skie.  And Ihave done a bit more on the Tooth Fairy Pillow.  Imust say it is irritating doing the hunt and peck typing with the stylus.  I look forward to getting my pc back complete with a keyboard.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Progress Report July 15, 2012

All I can report since yesterday is some small progress on the Tooth Fairy Pillow and on Block 5 of Black'd Skie ...but not enough for a photo of either.  I'll be offline for a few days ... we are having our computer "upgraded".  So unless I can figure out how to post using my Samsung "I-Pad wanna be", there will be another hiatus.  I am told there are dozens of tutorials on you tube ...so I will be checking them out.  I'd really rather not go silent again so soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The aftermath

Delicacy and common decency prevent my airing all the gory details but my husband decided to share a particularly nasty stomach virus with me and I stayed home from work Wednesday & Thursday.  Between mad dashes to the restroom, I have caught up on the laundry and managed to put in a goodly amount of time on Black'd Skie.   As you can see, I have gotten all of the text done on block 5 and have stitched the outline of the angel.  With any kind of luck, I'll finish Block 5 and make a very good start on Block 6  by this time next week.  I am not entirely sure which BAP I will pick up next: The English Band Sampler from SANQ [Parts I and II are now published] or Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking [I'd really like to have this finished in time for this Christmas].  Both are in the optimistically labelled Current Stitching Bag.  Perhaps I shall simply alternate stitching on one then the other.  I believe my own variation of the annual crazy challenge involving class projects and WIPs has influenced me and converted me to a very nearly one-at-a-time sort of stitcher.  Oh, I still need the occasional zing of instant gratification given by a new small; but for the most part, steadily working on a project till it's done has been very satisfying.  It must have something to do with another aspect of my personality: I just love making to-do lists and crossing off items as they are completed.   So the act of marking some of the items in my Class Project and WIPs sidebars "FINISHED" with a date has been a gratifying experience.  Of course, I have a short day trip coming up with my husband doing the driving  both ways and for that I will be pulling out the Tooth Fairy Pillow as my car project.  It's stitched on a very soft 14ct aida ... a fabric I rarely use.  The only advantage of 14 ct aida, or so this linen snob believes, is that it doesn't require magnification and can be stitched easily enough in a moving car.  My mother gave me this kit and my oldest grandchild will be celebrating his 5th birthday soon ... which gives me two years to stitch the piece and sew it into a pocketed pillow before he's due to lose his first tooth.  That seems about right given the fact that most stitching finishes languish in the sewing basket for a at least a year or so before seeing a final finish.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday's Progress

Well, the battery has recharged so here's a photo of Riona's Bookshelf bookmark that should have appeared in yesterday's post.  I also resumed work on a larger finish: a tote bag that I abandoned last winter when both of  my sewing machines conspired against me and quit functioning.  [Aside: Why do appliances always die in multiples of two or three instead of a manageable one at a time?]  I'll wait to provide a photo till I complete the tote.  I am getting to the point in my finishing crusade where all the items in the basket are larger and more complicated projects but I will be enjoying a staycation shortly and should be able to get some sewing done while I have all those lovely hours to myself.  I hope to post lots of photos of finished items during the remainder of July and the beginning of August.  

And I managed this small finish: The Spring Basket scissor fob.  Every so often I feel the impulse to do a beaded trim finish.  As it happened, I had an abundance of lavender beads - more than enough to trim this otherwise simple little scissor fob.

As to actual stitching, I am moving along on Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie but want to finish the text before posting a photo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Bit More Stitching, A Bit More Sewing

I have picked up Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie again and have started filling in Block 5.  Perhaps I'll have enough done in a day or two to warrant a photo.  Nothing terribly exciting: just more text.

I have been leaving my sewing machine on the dining room table as a way to motivate myself to get a bit of finishing done and it appears to be working.  From January to June, I didn't manage a single sewing or assembly finish.  But since July began, my little sidebar of sewing finishes has shown steady growth.  My most recent finishes include The Sampler Tree pin pillow, Riona's Book Shelf Boomark and the Celtic Knot Bookmark Unfortunately, my camera decided it needed to recharge just as I started to take a photo of the Bookshelf bookmark.  Just my luck!  I also prepped the boards for my little Spring Basket scissor fob and hope to get that and the Holly & Hearts ornament assembled tonight.  I have a laundry basket full of pieces requiring finishes, so I expect the sewing machine will remain in the dining room for the rest of the summer and well into the fall ... but of what year, I wonder.

Just a note about bookmarks:  I know there is a minor controversy about how to back bookmarks.  Most "kit" bookmarks come with a felt backing which I consider way to thick.  On several boards, I have read that people like to use iron on pellon, the stuff usually used to line and stiffen collars and waistbands when sewing.  I think that leaves a rather unfinished look to something I worked on.  I used to sew an unbleached muslin backing to my bookmarks.  But now I use pieces cut from an old flannel sheet.  It is just the right thickness and is very soft.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Progress Report 7/8/12

Thank God for air-conditioning!  In spite of the heat, I was able to get a bit of indoor stuff done.  Chores of a sort that would have been well nigh impossible in the heat:  like emptying and cleaning the refrigerator in anticipation of a service call.  Ironing and a bit of mending.  And finally completing the switch from cool weather to warm weather wardrobes by getting all the cool weather stuff into storage.  It's amazing how long supposedly simple tasks like the last can take when you're working full time and not as spry as you used to be.  I even managed to get out early this morning while the temp was still a relatively cool 75 degrees and clean up my side of an untended hedge from my neighbor's front driveway that is growing through the fence, scratching my car and obscuring my view when backing out of the driveway.  There are a lot of advantages to townhouse living but one careless or negligent neighbor  can really make thing unpleasant.  The neighbors on the right are a great family who own and takes pride in their property, just like we do.  However, the neighbor on the left is a 20-something female renter who either hasn't the time or perhaps, the contractual obligation, to tend to maintenance issues like hedge trimming.  When her whole family lived in the house, things were maintained but once her parents and brother moved out things have definitely gone to seed.  No outdoor work is being done at all.  The task took me a little longer than it should have since, not owning any hedges, I don't have any hedge trimmers.  I ended up using my long handled pruning shears [I do have trees] and snipped off a branch at a time.  An irritation, to be sure, but I just couldn't tolerate the situation any longer.  I wonder if my neighbor will even notice.

 As to the stitching, I never did get around to working on Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie Block 5 as I had hoped.  But I did meet my other tentative goals of finishing Aury's 2012 heart [see below], getting more done on JBW's Sampler Tree and doing a bit of sewing finishes.  I wouldn't want my brand new Pfaff sewing machine to languish unused and unloved.  I hope to get some more finishes done this week as well.
 I stitched the remaining letters on my JBW Design's The Sampler Tree. And since I just don't get how a potted tree with two bunnies at its feet goes with Christmas. I'll be deleting the pink candles and ornaments and the "Merry, Merry" text at the top and finishing this as a Spring pin pillow.  Instead of a star or angel at the top of the tree I'll be using one of Mill House Glass Treasures: a squirrel.  I think it will make a nice seasonal Spring pin pillow for my display of smalls.

 This is one of the sewing finishes that has been sitting in the to-do pile for a very long while.  It's a Cross-Eyed Cricket mitten ornament.  I finished it as a flat board ornament and used some twisted white cord I had left over from another project.  It is hard to see but the hanger is a beaded one, white and pale turquoise glass beads from Mill Hill Beads.  The backing is simply material cut from one of my husband's old broadcloth business shirts and dyed in a coffee bath.

One of my favorite Christmas ornaments: La D Da's Winter Cardinal.  It's a great way to use up odds and ends of floss since the scarf can be any color you wish.  I always finish the back of this ornament with the same chart stitched in reverse.  I am getting pretty good at reading charts backwards!

Here you can see the reverse.  The colors in the photo above are true.  I don't know why this one came out differently: same place, same lighting, same inept photographer, same point and shoot digital camera.  Go figure!

I finished up Aury's 2012 Quaker Heart.  I used Belle Soie silks Chester Blue, Cranberry, and Icing on a 28ct linen called Meditation.  In the photo, the Icing tends to fade into the light blue linen but the contrast is far more pronounced in reality.  I finished it as a small stuffed ornament and will be using it on the Patriotic ornament tree which I will next display on Veteran's Day and then, not again till Memorial Day through Independence Day in 2013.  

And here is the Star Theater from the Indy Town Square SAL.  Finished as a flat board ornament.  One minor irritation, when I went to make the twisted cord trim for this ornament, I couldn't find my cording drill.  I'll have to tear my various stitching areas apart to find it tomorrow.

Well that's it for the weekend.  All in all, I felt it was pretty productive even if I didn't manage to work on Black'd Skie.

Friday, July 6, 2012


A day off in the middle of the week should make it feel shorter.  But somehow mine felt longer, probably because I caught up with everything current at work by Friday morning, all the loose ends that could be tied up were ever so neatly knotted, the inbox was emptied, the reports were updated.  I had to resort to starting to write a Family Catechesis Event I won't be running till November, just to fill in the time.  The truly exasperating part of all this:: right now, I should be very busy with registration and evaluating home study students.  But that presupposes that the remaining 1/3 of my families would actually register by deadline [already passed] and the home study families would keep their appointments [or, at the very least, return my calls].  This is all the more frustrating because I know from past experience that when I return to the office in mid-August after my usual one month summer break, most of the late registering families will come out of the woodwork ... and, at precisely the same time when all the textbooks arrive from the publishers and need to be inventoried and allotted, the new catechists need to be trained and vetted, the classrooms prepped, the Catechist binders need to be updated with current student information and all the Parent Orientation/Meet the Catechist materials need to be prepared.  What this will mean is that my assistants and I will have to deal with the added confusion of revising class lists, recounting class materials, updating the catechist binders ... on a daily basis and at the very time when those tasks should be "done" and finalized.  This invariably leads to a mistake or two or three and that inevitably leads to angry parents.  And it's almost always the parent that has the least right to complain who does so.  And, in my role as CRE, I represent the face of the institutional Church and thus, have to be patient and welcoming and serene ... when what I really want to do is look the recalcitrant parent in the eye and ask with my very best aging hippie intonations, "Are you freaking kidding me?"  I think this is why I like the Gospel of Mark so much: it actually shows Jesus getting a wee bit testy with the apostles and with the people, even, I fear, with his Mother.  Of course, He had a lot more to put up with than I do but somehow I find it comforting that even He found the people he served so lovingly a bit trying at times.  It keeps me sane and smiling when I'd much rather crack a few heads together.  In any case, it's good practice for the real challenge: the few really special families who will wait till the first day of class and just show up expecting me to drop everything and place their darlings, even as I run the Orientation Meetings and answer the questions of the newbies or deal with the needs of the returning families who registered on time.  You gotta love the entitled few!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hermitting on the 4th

The older I get, the more of a hermit I become.  Yesterday was a day of catch-up housekeeping. a goodly amount of DVD watching, grazing on leftovers rather than cooking in this heat and a bit of stitching.  No visiting, no town concert or fireworks display, no family picnics; in short, none of the activities that typify the 4th.  If this summer continues to go the way it has been going, my air conditioner and I are going to have a very intense [and expensive] relationship.  How odd!  I used the words hermit and relationship in the same paragraph.  Somewhat anomalous but I am sure you get the idea.

JBW Design's Tree Sampler
Here is just one photo of what I accomplished.  I fully intended to work on  Aury's 2012 Quaker Heart, which I downloaded in the morning. Since I have stitched the previous ones [as noted in yesterday's post], it seemed only right to start the latest one on Independence Day.  But as I was rummaging around for a scrap of pale blue 32ct linen just the right size, that I knew I had, I came across this quaint little JBW Design's Tree Sampler that was already kitted up.  As you can see, it is not too terribly hard to divert my attention.  For all its seeming simplicity, this is a fussy little piece because of the three color changes in the lettering.  Rather than drive myself nuts with counting between all the letters of the same color, with all the potential for errors and miscounts and consequent frogging, I have been using short lengths of thread and just stitching the letters a row at a time.  This is working up a bit too large for an ornament, on a scrap of 28ct over-dyed linen, so it will have to be finished as a small seasonal pin pillow.  The border is a little brighter than designed since I substituted Carrie's Creation Sassy [left over from some charity stitching] for the softer rose called for in the chart.  Pinks have never been among my favorite color ways.  So, the three partial skeins of Carrie's Creations pinks left over from those old projects have been languishing in my "odds & ends" bag of stuff that I am too frugal to throw away but don't love enough to store with the real stash.  I keep this bag in my current stitching bag and it is the first place I check when kitting up small projects like ornaments, bookmarks and pin pillows.  I am an old time Use it up, Wear it out or Do without proponent.  I can see how a more muted pink might work better here but, still and all, I rather like the effect of the bright one.  And, as a bonus, I have finishing fabric in the very same shades of pink that will work quite nicely for the pillow finish.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Some Stitching for Independence Day

Top center: one of Aury's Quaker Hearts

Another of Aury's Quaker hearts

A small pin pillow, A Glory Bee design, if I remember correctly

Another old freebie, I love the silver USA charm at the top

A collection of freebies, combined into a bell pull

A Silver Needle Night design from long ago

I believe this is an LHN freebie
Another old freebie

And yet another Aury Quaker heart

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Tittle Tattle

S.A.B.L.E. or Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy
I have been going through the stash binder I optimistically call "Current Year's Projects".  Once upon a time I used to complete between 70-80 projects a year,  Admittedly most of them were small to medium sized samplers or seasonal pieces, the largest being no bigger than 8 inches x 8 inches, with maybe two or three BAPs of 14 inch x 14 inch or larger thrown in for good measure.  Granted, back in the day that I kept that pace up, I was working only three days a week, from 8:30am-2:30am, as an art teacher in a Catholic elementary school.  Now I put in 40+ hours as a CRE of a Parish Religious Education Program and am 18 years older.  But somehow I have maintained the illusion that I can keep up that pace.  The evidence is in a binder containing upwards of 30 largish pieces including five Dragon Dreams dragons, six Workbasket Quaker animals, six Halloween pieces, one large Primitive Needle sampler and six smaller Primitive Needle designs, a small Teresa Wentzler dragon, a Teresa Wentzler Christmas stocking and one Miribilia Faerie.  And that is in addition to the Class Projects and WIPs I have listed in my sidebar as wanting to complete this year.  The reality is it will probably take me three or four years to complete the pieces in the binder and in my current stitching bag.  And then there are all the other charts in binders and in the drawers of my stitching center.  I've never had the nerve to count them, but I expect they number somewhere between 75 and 125.    And I won't even consider all the magazines I have saved because they have such wonderful charts.  I haven't bought a single chart in over 8 months and don't expect to buy anything other than fabric and fiber and tools for the next few years.  I used to collect loads of freebies and I have been culling my stash of those as well, reducing three 2" binders to one.  I still expect to stitch every chart I own.  Retirement is only four years away with the promise of more leisure time.  I wonder if I will ever come to a point when I have just a few unstitched charts in my possession along with a few previously stitched charts that I can't quite give up.  In the past, I tended to give away most of the charts I have stitched: my theory being that it is a waste to tuck them away when someone else can be enjoying them.  But I am beginning to think it might be wiser to set up a sale album to fund the purchase of that fabric and fiber I will be needing to stitch the charts already in my possession.  That seems like a lot of work but I may give it a shot.

Mid-Year Evaluation of 2012 Goals

  • 01. My Own Crazy Challenge: work on unfinished class pieces from 2005-date.  Well, of the nine class projects, some of which have multiple items, I have completed one and am well on my way to finishing a second.  The Victoria Sampler Holly and Heart Sampler and Ornament have been stitched and the Kogin Tea Cozy is about 2/3rds of the way done.  I hope to finish the tea cozy this month.  I don't really expect to finish all nine projects this year.  I expect this 2012 Class Project Challenge will be a 2013  Class Project Challenge as well.
  • 02. Complete three BAPs: TW's Tracery Dragons, TW's Woodland Angel Stocking for Liam and Dimensions Woodland Maiden as a stocking for Piper.  The Tracery Dragon piece is done, awaiting a trip to the framer.  And the TW Woodland Angel Stocking has been kitted up and moved into the current stitching bag and will be my next start.
  • 03. Limit new starts to one for every two UFO/WIPs completed.  Pretty much true, I have made three new starts, all smalls, since Jan. 1.   BUT of the 13 UFO/WIPs in my list, I have finished five and there were also the two-in-one finishes from the Class Projects list.  I am very close to finishing Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie: all the borders and bands are done and Blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 are filled in.  I just need to fill in Blocks 5 & 6.
  • 04. Stitch a few more Heart ornaments for the Anniversary-Valentine's Day tree.  Not a one.
  • 05. Stitch one ornament a month from the 2006 Indy Town Square SAL. Not a one.
  • 06. Limit stash purchases to fabric, fiber and tools needed to complete charts on hand.  So far so good.
  • 07. Continue to blog regularly, aiming for every other day.  Well, May and June were something of a write off so far as blogging went.  My work load and low energy levels combined to sabotage that goal.  But otherwise, January - April went well and July seems to be picking up.  I am also learning how to use my new Samsung Pad [or droid] so that eventually, I'll be able to blog from anywhere I happen to be.
  • 08. Make an effort to catch up on sewing and framing finishes.  The purchase of a new sewing machine [very high tech: computerized and electronic] has me at the beginning of a new learning curve.  I'll be taking a few classes over the summer but I have at least figured out the straight and zig-zag stitches.  It's a hoot having to use a stylus and a view screen to select the stitches and modify their size.   I need a stylus for my Samsung, too.  I guess I'd better get used to it.
  • 09. Inventory and declutter existing stash.  Not yet.  That strikes me as a winter chore.
  • 10. Attend an EGA chapter meeting as a member-at-large or take an on-line course.  Not yet.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Husband's Upcoming Staycation

My husband is planning a staycation soon and I will be taking full advantage of it.  No, I will not be so cruel as to make a long "Honey-Do" list - he needs his rest.  BUT, I will be scheduling all the maintenance calls that we need for that week: the dishwasher  and the freezer section of our side by side refrigerator are both on the fritz.  And since we bought the washer and dryer and stove at much the same time and all from Sears, I thought I'd call the Sears people to come and do repairs on the broken appliances and a cleaning/servicing on the rest.  And we need the plumber to come by and check out the line that goes to the outside spigot in the backyard.  The valve that opens up the line appears to be frozen shut and I can't water my garden.  So far this summer there has been more than adequate rainfall but I do want a back-up plan in place.  So all Bill will have to do is sit in an air-conditioned living room, watch a DVD or read a book while the repair persons deal with the hard work.  His biggest exertion will be writing a check or two.  I think he'll be able to manage that without working up a sweat.

I am looking forward to the Independence Day break in the middle of this week.  Forecasts indicate that it is going to be the hottest day of the week.  I expect it will be another day with the air-conditioner going in the living room, some Law & Order DVDs and some books to read and some stitching to do.  I may brave the heat to barbecue a few hot dogs --- I am a traditionalist after all.  But the rest of the meal will have to be cold, cold, cold: macaroni salad, potato salad, green salad, with jello and melon for dessert.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Monthly Goals Assessment

Block 3

Finish Block 3 of Black'd Skie  Block 3 is finished and, as an added bonus, so is Block 4.
HOE Christmas Bird ornament exchange:  DONE AND MAILED. 

Since I seem to have recovered a bit of my stitching momentum, I am going to be slightly more ambitious with my JULY GOALS ... but only slightly. I wouldn't want to fall back into my old habits of assuming I can accomplish far more than is actually possible.  I tend to believe I can do so much more that is actually credible!
2011 WIPs:  Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.  Finish Block 5 and 6.
2012 WIPs:  Finish Part I of the the English Band Sampler from SANQ. Start Part II.
2012 Class Projects Crazy Challenge:  Finish Japanese Kogin Tea Cozy.
Sewing Finishes:  Tackle at least two or three from the laundry basket full of finished pieces awaiting a final non-framing finish.

The reason I hope to have Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie done in July is that it is a memorial to my Dad who died 25 years ago on May 27th.  He would have been 85 years old this July 21st.  I am not sure just where I will put his iniitials just yet but I will be working them into this sampler before I am done.  Another reason: a blogging acquaintance of mine, Edgar from Blacksheep's Bit of the Web, was kind enough to compliment my Black'd Skie.  Knowing, from my faithful reading of his blog, that he has done a number of Lisa's design, I asked him if he had this one in his stash.  It turns out he does not, so I'll be forwarding it on to him when I am through.  I hate waste and it would be a terrible waste if I just let this copy languish in a binder when someone else could be enjoying it.