Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: Sept. 30, 2012

I finished cross-stitching one more 2006 Indianapolis Town Square ornament for my Small Town USA themed Christmas Tree.  This last was the Barb Allen Antique Samplers Shop.  This makes the tenth ornament I have completed in this series.  The plan had been to stitch one a month in 2012 but this is only the second I have stitched this year.  I have been so preoccupied with BAPs and class piece UFOs that I have fallen way behind on this goal.  While I doubt I'll be able to catch up completely, I'd like to try stitching two of these ornaments a month for the remaining three months of the year.  I have The Primitives Shop kitted up as my next ornament and I plan on kitting up the Book Shop later on today.  These will be my October ornaments.

Looking over the list of ornaments I haven't stitched yet, I think I'll choose stitch-related shops for November and December:  The Cross Stitch Shop, The Fiber Shop, The Button Shop and The Frame Shop.  If I manage this, it will bring my total to 16 ornaments in the series by December 2012.  I think in 2013 I will concentrate on shops that reference my other passion: food and cooking.  These would include a Bakery, the Cafe du Monde, The Candy Shop, The Creamery, The Fish Market, The General Store, The Gourmet Shop, The Honey Shop, The Ice Cream Shop, Milady's Tea House, and Sandie's Sweet Shop.  That would still leave 14 ornaments to stitch in 2014.  After that, I will offer both my CD-rom and the hard copies of these charts to anyone interested in these really neat little pieces of Americana.

I have been backing all the ornaments I have stitched so far in a navy blue fabric studded with tiny white stars and finishing them as flat ornaments trimmed with handmade twisted cord and handmade tassels.  I believe this fabric is still available at the local quilt shop and will be picking up a yard or two this week to ensure I have enough for the whole series.  I have enough on hand at present to back a half dozen or so ornaments.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

On Stitching in Public

Yesterday, I took my Mom to the hematologist's office and spent two hours in the waiting room: one conversing with Mom while she waited to be seen and another while waiting for her to come out again.  I stitched during the second hour.    Now, I have gotten accustomed, over the decades and decades that I have been stitching, to the furtive glances cast at me by folks trying to figure out exactly what I am doing.  I have no problem discussing stitching if I sense a genuine interest or even innocent curiosity.  But I wonder why people feel entitled to comment condescendingly on one's work when one stitches in public.  If you are reading in a waiting room, no one ever feels entitled to take your book from your hands turn it over to check title and author and then comment on your taste in literature.  They don't make inane comments about how their grandmothers, great-aunts [substitute any really old female relative] used to read the same quaint authors.  But when stitching is the topic, people tend to trot out the stories of all their ancient female relations  who are dead now of course  [after all, what living, i.e. modern, individual would stitch?] and the speaker's heart broke when they had to throw away all that useless [to them] equipment.  I always suggest that, should such circumstances occur again, they donate the useless supplies to a woman's prison or shelter or group home.  That generally stops the conversation while the folks ponder the relative meaning of the word, useless.  Sometimes people offer a compliment referencing the intricacy of the work or the skill involved, but most people make some sort of vaguely dismissive I statement indicating the irrelevance of stitching in   today's world.  "I could never find the time for it!"  To which the appropriate but likely unwise reply would be, "Oh, then you enjoy drinking endless cups of coffee while staring vacuously at a TV playing mindless drivel as you wait for the doctor?"  Another common comment, "How do you find the patience?", might elicit my aging hippie/general crank lecture on how people have lost the capacity for stillness and silence and self-containment were I less still, silent and self-contained myself.  And since I usually choose waiting room projects that don't require constant references to a chart, another frequent question is "How do you know where to put your stitches?"  or the variant, "Where are the lines?"  When I am feeling polite, I reply to these questions saying that I am at a stage where there is repeating pattern or that I am working on a "fill" area.  When I am feeling less polite, I reply to the first question that I know what I am doing and to the second that I am working on linen and not on a child's coloring book.  Sometimes the simple truth is that I am making things up as I go along and that really blows the mind of the questioner.    But my oddest reaction came recently from a hospital volunteer, the kind that staff surgical waiting rooms to offer hospitality and relay messages from the OR to the relatives. Since I was alone in the waiting room, I asked if she could turn off the TV which was so very annoying.  She harrumphed that she'd never seen someone bring their mending to the hospital before and that most people enjoyed the TV.   The implication was that I might find a visit to the psychiatric clinic a more appropriate use of my time.

Tell me, gentle reader, have you had strange moments when stitching in public?   Good or bad?  Serious or comic?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Whoops-a-Daisy: No Wentzler Wednesday

I am still babying myself with simple projects and haven't returned to work on either of my BAPs.  Sorry about the unironed appearance of the piece, I didn't have time to hook up the iron before heading out to work this morning.  For the moment I am stitching another ornament in the 2006 Nashville Town Square series.  This one is the Antique Sampler Shop designed by Barb Allen of Blackbird Designs.  Eventually, I will be able to decorate an entire tree in Small Town USA ornaments.  As far as the Antique Sampler Shop goes, I have made a few changes.  I didn't have enough WDW Pelican Grey and have substituted Dolphin which is a shade or two darker but at least I have sufficient for my needs.  And I have decided to leave out the Est. 1990 sign above the door which I think is too large, breaking up the flow of the brick wall unnecessarily.  I have also changed the color of the urn from Deep Sea Blue outlined in Onyx to Charcoal outlined in Onyx and the flowers from Taupe to Deep Sea Blue.  It is not unusual for me to change things up a bit, especially on small projects like ornaments.  I am doing my best to stitch from stash this year, economizing a bit on my needle arts spending since I want to do some serious framing this month.  And we all know that professional framing costs the sun, the moon and the stars.  I have three pieces that I want to frame, two of them fairly large.

And though my stitching has been on the decidedly simple side, my planning has not been.  Yesterday at 11:42 a.m. my third grandchild was born: a grandson named Rocco, weighing in at 8lbs 3oz and measuring 21.5 inches long.  My major BAP this year has been working on Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking for the oldest grandson and I have a Dimensions chart, Woodland Maiden, all lined up to adapt into a stocking for my granddaughter ... so I have been casting about for a similar woodsy and medieval chart to set aside for young Rocco's stocking.  Reading Dani's blog this morning, I was inspired by her mention of choosing Teresa Wentzler's Fortunate Traveler as a SAL for 2013.  It occurred to me that I own the softcover The Best of Teresa Wentzler Fantasy and it surely contains a figure that can be used as the central motif of the third stocking.  Even though I haven't yet pulled the book from the shelf, I am thinking either the Traveler or the Minstrel might work.  I am sure there are others equally suited to my purposes within the pages of that volume.  Problem solved!  Thanks, Dani.

And on the subject of Rocco.  When my son Sean told me of the baby's name yesterday, I couldn't help but laugh.  When my sister, Mary, and I were young mothers we provided my father [a self-styled padrone, with a terrific pride in his Italian heritage] with his first three grandsons: Sean, Daniel & Kevin.  Dad found these names a touch too Irish and, to tease my Irish-American Mom, renamed the boys Rocco, Guido and Auggie.  When I reminded my son of this old family tale, he had a good laugh as well.  He says he remembered the story once I mentioned it but he and my DIL selected the name by just looking through a baby name book.  Little did he know my Dad was looking down from heaven and, given his quirky sense of humor, influencing the present to get what he had wanted all along.  Now, my son Daniel isn't thinking about marriage and children but my nephew Kevin just got engaged ... I'd better warn him or he might end up with a son named Auggie!  I am convinced that my Dad has been playing name games with Sean and I ever since he made it into heaven.  Originally I had wanted to name my first son Vincent after my Dad but my husband objected  that since our last name begins with a D, the boy would have the initials VD which back then was the common way of referring to venereal diseases.  So we named the boy Sean Thomas instead - Thomas was my Dad's middle name.  Well, just one week after my father's death, the scientific and medical community began using the now current term for sexually transmitted diseases, STDs.  Coincidence?   Maybe, but I'm blaming Dad.  All through college and grad school my son was saddled with a student ID number and campus e-mail address that began STD.  Like I said, my Dad has a skewed sense of humor.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: Sept. 23, 2012

I haven't been working on my serious stitching lately due to the upheaval in my private life.  My two BAPs have been neglected but

 I did finish Primitive Needle's Here Lies Thy Needle.  It was simple and straightforward stitching just perfect for my current state of mind.  A bit boring but I am pleased with the final product.  I plan to sew it up as a knitting project bag.  Now that it's done, I'll have to come up with something different for waiting rooms.  And I'll be back in waiting rooms pretty soon since I'll be driving my Mom to the hematologist this Friday and Bill to both the surgeon and gastroenteriologist the following Friday. And I thought my days of driving Mom's taxi were done when the kids left home!

I have worked on my Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square, finishing up one more section and starting another. The section I completed is embroidered with stylized rose bushes done in fern and chain stitch with cobweb rose blossoms.  And the section in progress is going to be, I think, a satin-stitched sunflower with a raised center filled with beads ... I tend to make things up as I go along.  One of the reasons I picked up the Crazy Quilt Square was because I wanted to practice my cobweb roses before putting the finishing touches on the Mystic Smalls' Stitcher's Pocket which will have three of
them in the center panel.  And, although I used some scraps of metallic ribbon for the roses on the square and I will be using silk ribbon on the pocket, the technique remained the same and I am comfortable that I know what I am doing now.  It's always nice to have a "sampler" piece on which to practice various stitches and techniques and the crazy quilt square serves that function beautifully.  Then there's the added bonus that I will be able to make something practical out of the square eventually ... I am leaning toward a handbag or project bag of some sort, something with a zippered closure anyway.  I have got an idea for embellishing the thin strip of black moire above the cobweb roses: I have two tiny five pointed star charms and I thought I'd use them to stitch a shooting star motif with the stars heading toward one another and with their tails curving in opposite directions.  I plan on leaving the tartan silk unembellished since it is the patch that established my color scheme for the entire block.  I may put just a few more buttons at the smaller edge but that would be all.  So that leaves only the yellow and gold print and the rose patches to embellish.  One more item from the WIPs sidebar close to a finish!

Today I am going to thread up the sewing machine and bind the edges of some linen for the two Town Square SAL ornaments for which I have pulled the threads.  I believe those will be my next projects for the next little while.  I don't feel like I have recovered my equilibrium just yet.  I am still so tired all the time and my seasonal allergies have kicked in with the usual sinus headaches.  All the rain we have had this last spring and summer have contributed to a really bad allergy season this year.  So simple and straightforward stitching will be the order of the day for a little while longer.  The BAPs will still be there next month.  Right now I want something relaxing rather than challenging.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


It's been a few days since my last post and they have been harried and, well, discombobulated days.  I spelled that last adjective the way it sounds because I have never seen it in print.  It's one of those made-up words of my mother's generation that sounds the way it feels.  Bill came home from the hospital on Wednesday and is continuing his recovery at home very well.  The only snag is he has acquired the 'wait on me hand and foot' syndrome so common to men who have had their meals delivered to them daily, their bed linens changed daily, smiling women in colorful uniforms offering to fill their water glasses and get them extra Italian ices, etc., etc.  I have pointed out that the establishments that do this, i.e.: hospitals and five star hotels, have two things in common.  One, they each employ rotating shifts of many minions and, two, they charge enormous sums of money for the service.  I am a staff of one and I don't rotate seamlessly through the 24/7.  In addition, I have had to return to full-time work.  The religious education program I run for some 380 children begins with five Parent/Student Orientation sessions this coming week: late afternoon and evening sessions on both Monday and Tuesday and a late afternoon session on Thursday.  All has to be in readiness for the program.  So I put in an extra long day on Tuesday and again on Thursday with a half day on Monday and Wednesday and split my day-off on Friday between taking care of Bill, catching up on housework that has been ignored while spending 8-10 hours a day at the hospital and periodically collapsing pathetically on the couch.  I have pointed out to my darling husband that if he fully intends to return to work on Monday since the doctor's said he could "if he was feeling up to it" ... well, to put it bluntly, he should test his readiness with a few walks, starting with the one from his rocker to the refrigerator and culminating in some ambles around the neighborhood.  He should also attempt a few short trips in the car.  His workday is bracketed by a one and a half hour commute of car-ferry-shuttle bus-short walk to the office and I don't think he should attempt that marathon twice in one day without a bit of training.  And the car part of it is no picnic: 40 miles on the Palisades Parkway  and then the wild ride down NJ's River Road during full rush hour mode.  You have to understand that NJ and NY drivers are natural enemies, having completely different styles and philosophies of driving.  Putting both breeds on the same roads tends to create moments of extreme stress and high drama interspersed with the sheer boredom of traffic standstills.  I think my husband should either wait a few more days before returning to work or start with half days so that the return commute, at least, will not take place in rush hour.  The home-bound rush hour, a misnomer if ever there was one, extends from 3:00pm to 8:00pm here in the congested NYC metropolitan area.

I anticipate, as the coming week progresses and my husband's recovery continues, this blog will be less and less about my personal angst and return to the mostly stitching blog it normally is.  Thanks for your patience with me, writing all the worries and complaints down keeps me from spewing them all over Bill who doesn't need the added stress.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thank You

I want to thank all of you who have left kind comments and sound advice and who have offered prayers.  I haven't had the time to send individual thanks but I have found it all very sustaining.  Last night the white blood cell count was down to 15 which is still high but not as bad as the 24 at admission time.  The doctors are considering letting him come home today.  I am awaiting news.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Tuesday

A bit more hospital stitching to report:

Thy Needle is progressing nicely.  I have nearly finished the upper and lower borders of the piece.  The funny thing is I am not accomplishing nearly as much as I think while at the hospital.  This morning, before work, sitting in my own stitching chair with my Ott Lite, I stitched twice as much in one hour than I did at the hospital yesterday in four hours.  Poor lighting and constant interruptions by hospital staff and just conversing with my husband combine to slow me down considerably.  In any case, there hasn't been enough progress to justify another photo.  The last bit, filling in the tombstone angel and stitching the few scattered geometric motiofs, will be boring, no doubt.  The pay-off is that I am nearing a finish, boredom notwithstanding.

The downside to all this hospital stitching is that I am not working on any of my BAPs since they are too clumsy [and valuable] to travel well.  Nor am I able to do any sewing finishes.  So I expect the goals assessment at the end of this month will be unavoidably disappointing.  C'est le vie!  All I really want at this point is to know what is causing Bill's infection and post-operative distress and to settle those issues.  Yesterday, the doctor admitted quite frankly that we will probably not get any answers but will have to content ourselves with treating the symptoms.  Okay, I can deal with that.  This morning I gently broke the news to my husband that, since all that is going on right now is IV drips of antibiotics and antibacterials and potassium, I can't take any more time off from work simply to keep him company.  My first week of classes starts Monday and I have deadlines to meet.  I feel terrible about only visiting him in the evening for an hour or so today, weather permitting ... we are having high wind advisories and possible tornado warnings for the evening, so I may be unable to manage even a nighttime visit ... but he claims to understand but in a voice just dripping with pathos.  I don't know which he misses more: me or access to his Blackberry which I took home to charge.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Few Photos

While my husband's attitude has been generally quite good considering no one seems to know what is actually wrong and all the doctor's seem to be in "ruling out" mode, he hasn't wanted me to bring him books, crossword puzzles or cards.  He jokingly claims he just wants to mope.  He has watched a few football games on the TV and has enjoyed visits from his sister and from our youngest son, but that seems to be the limit of his ability to concentrate.  And while I have been spending the days with him just talking or watching him rest when he is able, my hands have been free to stitch.  So I have a few photos.

 Saturday, Bill wanted to rest most of the day and we had most of the lights close to the bed turned off, so I needed to work on something very simple.  The perfect solution was these simple Japanese Kogin Christmas ornaments.  The Christmas Tree pattern and the diamond motif are charts from a Phyllis Maurer class in ethnic stitching that I took back in 2006 at a CATS festival.  I worked both designs on ivory evenweave using Caron Wildflowers Black Watch for the tree ornament and alternated Caron Wildflowers Black Watch and HDF Dragon's Blood on the diamond motif ornament.  I stacked the diamond motifs to make a larger ornament which I think will make a very elegant flat finish ornament especially if I add matching cording and a tassel.  I have the perfect silk for a backing.  There is supposed to be a small cross shape stitched in the very center of each diamond but I thought if I finish this as an ornament I'd use some pretty beads instead to add a little shine to the project.  But I am also thinking of an alternative finish: adding a straight stitch border and making this into a biscornu and using a single diamond motif to make a matching fob.  If I do that, I'll go back in and stitch the cross shapes.  I could stitch a bottom using the same motif stitching only the outer diamond and using the remaining space for numerals for the current year or for initials or even for the word N-O-E-L.  It would make a nice gift for a stitching friend or a sweet addition to my basket of smalls.  What do you guys think: flat finish ornament or stitching accessories?

On Sunday, I headed over to the hospital after Mass and stayed from lunchtime till about 8:30pm.  Bill was in a livelier mood and we had all the lights on, so I was able to work on a linen project and picked up Thy Needle from Primitive Needle.  All I managed was adding the color WDW Chives to the mosaic tile border ... very hard to see in this photo since the color of the linen is so similar to the color of that floss.  I am not at all sure what I'll be working on today, depends on available light which in turn depends on Bill's needs, so I'll be bringing an evenweave project and a linen project.  I suppose I could dig up a 28ct linen project but I don't really feel like taking the time to kit up something new this morning.  I'll have to go to work for a little while before heading to the hospital at lunchtime again today.  And I wanted to get a little laundry done this morning as well, I have been falling behind on everything.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Still No Diagnosis

Yesterday was a very unsatisfying day.  The surgeon breezed into my husband's room at 7am, long before there was any family member around to question him, and spoke only to my husband who was impaired by lack of sleep, medication and pain.  Yeah, that made a lot of sense.  Then said surgeon disappears off the face of the earth.  The nuclear test was done and we were told we'd hear from our surgeon.  After an hour of insisting that that wasn't good enough, the nurse finally told us there didn't appear to be evidence of bile duct leaking ... as carefully worded a report as ever I have heard.  Calls to the doctor's service asking for a phone consult were useless.  With the Jewish Holy Days starting on Monday, I am not happy with the run around.  If we need to transfer Bill to a hospital in NYC, will we be able to process the paperwork, get an ambulance, secure insurance approval, etc. with skeleton staffs in place, doctors and specialists incommunicado?    And in the meantime, Bill just lies there enduring the unexplained post-operative [by 8 days now] pain and starving on a liquid diet until the doctors get their act together and decide to put their heads together and come up with a diagnosis.  The one good thing in this whole mess is that my sister-in-law is a nurse and capable of deciphering medical jargon so that we are not fobbed off with inadequate or less than completely truthful explanations.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back At The Hospital

I posted yesterday that all I had remaining on my agenda for the day was a trip to the pharmacy.  Well, that changed with one phone call from the surgeon who, after reviewing the tests, sent us right back to the hospital for further testing.  A little before 10pm, I left my husband settled in The Special Nursing Unit to rest for the night before another battery of blood work and scans this morning to determine if the bile duct is leaking.  The surgeon seems to think that is the problem.  If that is the case, it is, apparently, a relatively simple fix but requires surgery to install a stint which will be removed in another thirty days ... so yet another procedure.  Bill is taking all this relatively well.  I believe he is happy to know that there is an end in sight for the pain and the infernal hiccoughing.  I am not sure which is bothering him more: the actual physical issues or the fact that all this hospital time is eating into his planned Christmas vacation time.  

I will be taking my stitching to the hospital today because I am sure there will be times when Bill is either being tested or sleeping.  So I will need something to occupy myself.  This time I will remember to bring scissors, though, and extra needles and anything else I can think of that I might conceivable need.  Perhaps even a few more projects.

I apologize for the lack of photos lately but I haven't had the energy to do much more than fall into bed at the end of the day ... though I haven't been sleeping all that well, either, what with Bill being up and down all night.  Last night I managed about five solid hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I guess that's the slim silver lining to this second hospital stay for my husband.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fessing Up on Friday

I have done very little stitching in the past few days, so the TW Woodland Angel has been sadly neglected.  The reason is that I have been indulging in one of my major guilty pleasures: another entry in the " Death" series by J. D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts.  My copy of Delusion in Death arrived in the mail Wednesday afternoon.  And any time not devoted to working, sleeping, eating, housekeeping and cooking, tending my husband/patient, etc. has been spent with my nose in the book.  Granted it is not literature with a capital L, nor is it an important book according to any arbiters of culture.  But it is a well-crafted police procedural with an interesting ensemble cast of characters for whom I have developed some considerable fondness after reading the thirty-something previous books in the series.  I finished up this book in the wee small hours this morning and got back to stitching today.

Today started with a visit to the surgeon.  So, I did a bit more stitching on Thy Needle by The Primitive Needle.  As I have said before, this is the perfect waiting room piece because the repetition and fill stitching eliminate the need to constantly consult the chart or to switch colors frequently.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pack a pair of scissors in the stitching bag because I always have at least two or three neatly tucked away in one of the pockets.  Well not today ... I had nary a one!  And since the surgeon sent my husband back to the hospital for a Barium CAT Scan to check on the diaphragm [the poor lad is hiccoughing non-stop for two and three hours at a time] and for more blood tests and we ended up spending 4 and 1/2 hours at the hospital after spending nearly an hour at the surgeon's office ... well, let's just say the scissors were sorely missed.  Especially when one of the WDW cotton overdyes started to knot and pill.  Why do I keep buying WDW when it gives me such agida?  So, I abandoned Thy Needle, setting it aside till I could cut away the mangled floss and continue stitching with what was usable.  Instead, I started work on the Kogin Christmas Tree ornament using Caron's Wildflowers Black Watch.  I stitched one ornament and immediately started on another which is just one half a row of repeats from a finish.

To sum up:
No stitching on The Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
Less than 50 stitches on Thy Needle.
Almost two Kogin Christmas Tree ornaments stitched.
One very pale and weary husband safely tucked into his rocker back home.
And one trip to the pharmacy remaining on my agenda before I allow myself to collapse in a heap.

It's been quite a day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wentzler Wednesdays Have Wings

It seems like I just put the Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking piece down but in reality I haven't worked on it since last Wednesday.  And in spite of all that has occurred in the intervening time [my husband's surgery and his less than rapid recuperation], it seems like I was working on the stocking only yesterday.  The time flew.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  With luck, I'll fall right back into the rhythm that produced such satisfactory progress last week.  I plan to work on the angel straight through till Friday evening so there is a chance that I will finish section 8 and have time to start section 7 this month.  I will wait until Friday evening to post a progress photograph since a single day's progress on a Teresa Wentzler project is seldom impressive.  I am going to do my best to get this done for this Christmas.  I know I have been saying that since Christmas 2009, without so much as taking a single stitch till this year.  But this year is the year!  I can feel it in my bones.

And with reference to yesterday's post about the Stitcher's Pocket:  I did finish the buttonhole stitch edging but did not get to the ribbon embroidery.  I have to admit that ribbon embroidery is not my forte and I want to practice my cobweb roses and my seed stitch leaves a bit on my Crazy Quilt Square before I attempt to stitch them on the pocket.  But that's a task for next week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I am closing in on another finish.  For the last few days I have been working on the Stitcher's Pocket from Victoria Sampler's Mystic Smalls and am getting tantalizingly close to a finish.  I have done all the cross-stitching, satin stitching, long stitching and back stitching.  I am currently working on the buttonhole stitch edging and am very nearly through with that.  All that will remain after the edging is done will be the ribbon embroidery roses and leaves and the beading on the back panel. I hope to finish it up today since Wentzler Wednesday is looming up on the horizon again.

My plan for the remainder of the week:
Today: The Stitcher's Pocket
Wed-Fri: TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking
Sat-Sun: The English Band Sampler

I have managed to resist the temptation to start a Christmas ornament just to have a finish and I feel my will power has been rewarded  by the steady progress on the Stitcher's Pocket.  It will be very satisfying to add another finish date notation to the Class Projects sidebar.  And since the rest of the Mystic Smalls projects are ... surprise, surprise ... smalls, the finishes ought to start piling up.  Next up are the scissor case, scissor fob, biscornu and needlebook.  Since this year has been devoted to WIPs of all sorts, most of which have been largish projects, some even bona fide BAPs, the tally of finishes has been lagging way behind my usual annual count.  And, being an A type personality, this has had an up side and a down side for me.  The upside: I love that I am finishing up major projects and finally fulfilling the promise of all those classes I have taken.  The downside: there's a nasty, insecure aspect of my personality that loves racking up the numbers and that is just not happening this year.  I know that numbers are meaningless and that it is the process of stitching that I love so dearly but somehow being able to say I finished 60 or 70 or 80 projects in a given year gives me a wonderful but ever so cheap thrill.  Hey, I am too much of a coward to ride roller coasters or go bungee jumping, so where else am I going to find a cheap thrill?

Monday, September 10, 2012


My husband is still not sleeping at night.  He is alternating between an hour or so lying in bed until he just has to get up and sit in more comfortable position for another hour or so, all night long  ... which means I am catching catnaps here and there.  The man is stubborn and won't admit he should consult with the surgeon to see if this pain is within normal post-operative ranges or whether it indicates he needs further attention.  I am determined to get him to either the surgeon or our internist today if things do not improve.  I will be going into work for an hour or two to organize the office and check in with my secretary and program assistant.  But then I want to be back here to ride herd on my patient, who is not eating, not taking his regular medications yet, stopped taking the pain medication and is generally in full fledged passive-aggressive mode. If this continues, I shall threaten him with a request for his sister's help [she's a nurse].  And if that doesn't work, I'll threaten him with an invitation to his cousin [the matriarch of the family] to come and help out while I return to work.  I am hoping the first threat will do the job!  If I have to resort to the second, I'll know I am really in trouble.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Summary

I'd like to thank everyone who left kind thoughts for my husband on Wednesday's post.  It is very much appreciated.

My husband's surgery went well though it did take twice as long as expected.  He is dealing with more pain than I felt after the same operation two years ago.  I didn't bother to fill the prescription for pain medication that I was given nor did I even take so much as a Tylenol.  He, on the other hand, is counting the minutes till he can take the next dose of his pain medication and still feels such pain that he is unable to lie down.  He spent his first, second and rhird post-op nights sitting up in his rocker, well padded with pillows and with a blanket over his legs.  I'll be calling the surgeon this morning to see if this is within the normal range of post-operative pain.  I foresee the need for lots of TLC in the immediate future.  I had planned to spend most of the first three post-op days very close to home, going out only for items he needed or wanted, anyway.  So this is a hermit weekend for me and I expect I'll get some more stitching done in between nursing and pampering my patient.  I am afraid he may need me into the work week as well but I am hoping to see some improvement on Sunday.  I only work a five minute commute from the house so he can call me back at need and I was planning on checking on him at lunch time anyway but I am a bit worried about leaving him alone at this point.  We shall see what Sunday brings.

 Thursday at the hospital: The entire day, from arrival at 6:15am to departure at 4:45pm, was spent in various waiting areas, sometimes with my husband and sometimes without.  I brought a combination of simple to difficult projects, something to suit any environment as it came up.  As it turned out, I worked on only one project during my waiting time: The Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  At least it served to keep the boredom at bay while Bill was in surgery and PACU.  Once he was back in a room in the Same Day Surgery Unit, I was able to sit with him.
Friday and Saturday: I continued stitching on Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  The first photo shows what it looked like before the hospital stitching and the second photo shows the present state of affairs.  It looks so much better with the few touches of color.  This piece will remain my go-to project for waiting rooms since there is still lots of repeat and fill stitching yet to be done: the angel and the coin shapes still need to be filled in.  After that is done there are just a few geometric motifs to be stitched round and about the text.
Sunday: I switched back to the Mystic Smalls' Stitcher's Pocket and plan to work on that for the remainder of the weekend.  Here is a photo of my progress thus far.

And I just have to mention a new-to-me designer that I learned about by reading Nancy of Glory Bee's Designs blog: the designer's name is Pineberry Lane.  Now, I know I had pledged not to buy any charts this year and that I had already fallen off the wagon once when I bought the Cedar Hills rabbit chart. But I fear I shall fall yet again.  The Pineberry Lane designs have a similar feel to The Primitive Needle and to Not Forgotten Farms designs, both of which I enjoy.   I have fallen in love with the Pineberry Lane Fancey Blackett series as well as a few of the other designs, specifically Mehitabel's Redwork and Tansy-Yarrow-Rue.  And I love the names, all straight out of the 17th century.  I used to volunteer as a kitchen docent  in an early 17th century Dutch house preserved by our local historical society.  The herb garden had tansy and yarrow and rue.  These plants were common ingredients in medicine, dye and pest control "receipts" of that period.  The whole Pineberry Lane website is a joy to browse and I have spent a very pleasant quarter of an hour doing just that.  I recommend it highly.  I also recommend Nancy's blog and have embedded links to both the Glory Bee blog and the Pineberry Lane website in this paragraph to make it easier for anyone who wishes to visit.  Hey, if Nancy is going to enable me, I may as well enable others in my turn!  It's a shared sickness.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's Not Fall Yet, Folks!!!

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of blogs showing Fall decorations.  Many have changed their blog background to reflect a change of season that has not actually taken place yet!  What's with all you people?  Around here we are still suffering through 80 degree weather, high humidity, mosquito infestations and all sorts of other summertime miseries.  We are also enjoying fresh picked peaches from the local orchard, fresh picked tomatoes from the back yard, all sorts of fresh vegetables from the local farm market, near constant birdsong, frolicking squirrels and other summer delights.  We still have some days to wait till the Fall Equinox and, while sometimes I'd like to fast forward as much as the next guy, time passes as time passes.  There is no hurrying it along.

I'll put out my Fall stitched items at the end of the month and my Halloween items will go on display in early October.  Living in the moment seems to be the most intelligent choice  ... why waste one's limited treasure of minutes wishing oneself forward or backward in time?    For now I have my lighthouse model, my deck prism and my port and starboard votive holders on my hall table ... somehow late summer and boats go together in my mind.  Must be living so close to the Hudson River that has me thinking that way.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wrapping Wentzler Week

It's been an exhilarating ride: starting one week ago I picked up The Woodland Angel and I have worked on it steadily for 8 days.  And it looks like the ride will continue.  Tomorrow I am taking my husband in for same-day surgery, removal of his gall bladder.  I expect to be at the hospital from 6am till around 4pm.  His surgery is set for 8am and I expect he'll be in a room from about noon to four, recovering enough for the drive home.  Since I expect to be in waiting rooms and hospital rooms for extended periods of time, I think I'll bring the stocking and Primitive Needle's Thy Needle and a book to while away the waits.

I figure I'll put the angel down on Friday.  I have been working on section 8 and have finished the bottom of the angel's robes and have gotten back to working on the snow and the woodland creatures standing about in it.  The turtledoves in the lower right corner of the stocking, small as they are, barely an inch square, each have a dozen colors and color combinations in them.  So I am slowing down a bit after the larger color sweeps, relatively speaking, of the robe.  And once I start the snow and dried grass, it's right back to confetti stitching.  Which will mean even slower progress.  So a change of pace is not really a bad idea.

When next Wednesday rolls around, I hope to extend my Wentzler Wednesday into a more modest three day stitch rather than the 9 day marathon I will be completing tomorrow.  That way I can attend to the other pieces in my rotation and still manage to make acceptable progress on the stocking.  At this rate I can be reasonably certain I'll meet my goal of finishing section 8 this month and I may even manage to anticipate October's goals by making a good start on section 7.  I am beginning to believe I may actually finish this stocking in time for Christmas 2012.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: Sept 3, 2012

Since this was a long weekend, Friday through Labor Day Monday, I thought I'd extend my usual pattern to include Monday's stitching in the report.  While I stitched intermittently during the weekend, what stitching time I did spend was in long stretches entirely devoted to Teresa Wentzler.

Progress as of last Thursday
Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking: I finished section 6 just in time to add it to my August Goals report and began work on section 9 [the turning of the heel] on Saturday. Although a relatively small section, it had lots of confetti in the snow: between the shadows, the dead grass poking through the snow and all the different shades of white that make up your average TW snowscape in the first place!  But by Sunday evening I got a start on Section 8.  Remember I started on the top right corner and am working my way down and to the right until I come up with an outline of the project so that I can trim the material most economically, hoping to get all three stockings for my grandchildren out of this one piece of linen.   I make better progress on a TW piece when I spend several days in a row stitching on it.  And this past week, I concentrated on TW from Wednesday straight through the holiday weekend.  As with any other TW project I have done, I really need to develop a rhythm  in order to pick up any speed. 
Progress as of Tuesday morning
Stopping and starting just doesn't work.  At this point, I may as well expand Wentzler Wednesday into Wentzler Week by sticking to this project through to tomorrow.  Just as runners get a runner's high, an endorphin rush when they are well and truly into their runs, I tend to get a stitcher's rush when I find my rhythm and things just seem to go smoothly and I am well into a project.  I appear to be in the zone with The Woodland Angel and may as well take advantage of the situation as long as it lasts.  It also doesn't hurt that I am currently working on the bottom of the angel's robe.  Unlike the wings and the snow, the robe has sweeps of color, sometimes as much as four stitches wide and nine or ten stitches long.  Much easier and quicker to count than the pointilistic pixels of color in the wings and snow.  I figure that by the coming Wednesday, I'll be back in the snowdrifts at the bottom of the stocking and I am sure I'll be ready to move on to another project in my rotation by Thursday

I should also report on some off-goal stitching I did while spending some not-so-quality time at the local DMV.  I had assumed I'd have my entire birth month [September] in which to deal with renewing my driver's license until my husband reminded me that, under the new rules, it actually expired on my birthday [today].  Hence, Friday was the last day I could renew my license and remain a legally licensed driver, what with the Labor Day holiday.  So I hustled on down to the DMV after work and whiled away the first hour of my wait stitching on The Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  In spite of the poor lighting and an awkward seating arrangement, I managed to make reasonably decent progress until my WDW Bark floss knotted.  I had to put it aside at that point to await some time beneath my magnifying lamp.  I spent my second hour watching the "now being served" board scroll ever so slowly up from F853 to F880, while all the C and D numbers seemed to get priority.  Oddly, there were no E numbers.  You'd think with 16 service windows they could  have moved a little more quickly.  But the end of the month and the Friday before a major holiday combined to create quite a backlog of last minute fools like myself, so I was doomed.  There was a two hour wait to approach the window to conduct two minutes of business, start to finish.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Evaluating August Goals, Setting September Goals

It seems that, finally, I have mastered the fine art of setting reasonable goals.  It has simply been a matter of lowering my expectations sufficiently to match my actual capacity.  A humbling admission: I'd much rather believe I can do twice as much as I can ... or at least as much as I imagined I once did.  This is the second month in a row that I have managed to meet my goals and even exceed a few.

  • 2010-2011 WIPs: Finish my own Fertile Circles Needlebook.  I may not have actually finished this piece but I have come pretty close.  All I have left to do is wee bit of back stitching and a bit of couching, probably no more than an hour or two need be spent on this to finish it.
  • 2012 Crazy Class Project Challenge: 2007 Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway Projects. Yes.  I have worked on the stitcher's pocket from the Mystic Smalls by Thea Dueck.
  • 2012 WIPs: Work on Part II of the English Band Sampler and start TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking. Yes, to both goals. I finished the first band of Part II and got a fairly good start on the second.  As to the stocking, I have completed section 3 and have nearly finished section 6 of the chart, which is not nearly as impressive as it might sound.  These sections are mere slivers of chart, representing the far right edge of the stocking.
  • Sewing Finishes: Try to get at least 2 or 3 done. I am doing fairly well with this.  Four projects completed in August.
  • Off-Goal Projects: I have been using The Primitive Needle's Thy Needle as my travel project and have made a fair amount of progress on it this month, finishing up all the monotonous charcoal stitching and moving on to colors.  And I have kitted up three Christmas ornaments [two Town Square SAL and one Kogin Christmas Tree] so I will have something small and portable to work on when I inevitably need a change of pace from the larger projects in my current rotation.

  • 2010-2011 WIPs:  Finish the Fertile Circles Needlebook and embellish another area on the Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square, using variations of the cobweb, cobweb rose and cobweb pinwheel stitches.  
  • 2012 Crazy Class Project Challenge:  Continue to work on the Victoria Sampler's Mystic Smalls projects, finishing the Stitcher's Pocket and starting on the Fob.
  • 2012 WIPs: Finish Part II and start work on Part III of The English Band Sampler and continue stitching TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking, finishing sections 6 and 9 and starting section 8. 
  • Sewing Finishes: Try to get at least 2 or 3 done.