Thursday, January 31, 2013

And, now, a word to my followers ...

I just noticed that I now have 198 followers.  I suppose when I finally hit 200 followers, I'll have hit a landmark of sorts as a blogger.  But I am not holding my breath.  If I remember correctly, I was holding steady at 196 followers for four or five months.  Then, suddenly, it was 198.  And I am certain that the second I hit 200, I will write a post that annoys a few folks just enough to cease following and I'll be back to 196 again.

Indeed, I find it amazing that I've attracted so large a following with a blog primarily about stitching. A blog, moreover,  that pretty much contemplates my own navel so far as stitching is concerned; one that is all about  my aesthetic and my projects.  It's not like I am writing tutorials, or offering up my own designs as freebies, or even giving away anything more than the occasional chart or two. Nor do I have a catchy specialty like the very funny spinster with the persnickety dog or the delightful stitch bitch who polices the media for snippets about the textile arts, good, bad and indifferent or the articulate black sheep who divides his posts equally between the topics of stitching, baking, films and an insider's look at the lovely city of San Francisco.  Me, I just write about stitching with a rare foray into the personal once in a while.

It's extraordinarily flattering to know there are 198 people who stop by every so often and read what is essentially a personal stitching journal.  So this post is an acknowledgement of the connection and a thank you to all my followers for visiting and reading along.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Assessing January Goals, Setting February Goals

My goals for January were relatively modest but even so I had a problem meeting them all.  I have been dealing with the lingering effects of the flu/virus/mega-cold/whatever that struck me down in December.  I just haven't gotten completely back to normal.  Lethargic, cranky, unmotivated: that's been me for the past few weeks.  Everything seems to take such effort and there's just no dredging up the energy for said effort.

2013 Challenge: WIPs & UFOs. Continue to work on Midnight Moogies.  I have far exceeded my own expectations in this regard, having only about 30% of the stitching on this very old UFO left to go.  When I picked it up for the first time since 2006, back in Dec. 2012, I had nearly 70% of the stitching left to do.  I am hoping to finish this piece in February.
2013 Class Project Challenge.  Continue work on Mystic Smalls Projects. No. 
Town Square SAL.  Stitch The Frame Shop. No.
Sewing and Assembly Finishes.   Complete three.  Yes, technically, but such small items that they really shouldn't count.

FEBRUARY GOALS:  February will be a short month but I am keeping my goals consistent with last month's goals.  It should be a pretty manageable schedule and I hope to continue to make steady progress on realistic goals.
2013 Challenge: WIPs & UFOs. Finish work on Midnight Moogies.  Time permitting resume work on the Jacobean Elegance Afghan.
2013 Class Projects Challenge.  Continue Work on Mystic Smalls projects.
Town Square SAL.  Stitch The Frame Shop.
Sewing and Assembly Finishes.  Complete three.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moping along with the Moogies

Progress as of 1/21/13
Given my lacklustre stitching persona at present, all I have been able to do is mope along on the outer border of this piece.  No color changes, no counting, just stitching by rote ... but progress nonetheless.  This sort of stitching was made for low energy times like these.  And even so, I haven't done much of this sort either, as evidenced by these photos.  Compare Moogies when last seen with current progress.

Progress as of 1/29/13
I am sure the bizarre weather patterns lately have a lot to do with the way I am feeling.  Three days ago, we had single digit temps with wind chill factors below zero.  Yesterday, we had temps in the 20s and started out with snow, then icy hail, then freezing wintry mix of rain and snow and sleet, which froze on the cold, cold ground.  Today, the weather forecasters are predicting temps in the 40s with partly cloudy skies and tomorrow, temps in the 50s. By the weekend, we should settle back down to more normal temps hovering around the freezing point.  How can anyone recover her health or her equilibrium with such crazy fluctuations?  I am fantasizing about being a wealthy lady of the turn of the last century, wealthy enough to afford an extended stay in a beautifully situated sanatorium in the mountains.  I wouldn't care if it were cold, just so long as it were consistently so.  Maybe if I had beautiful views to gaze upon and clean mountain air to breathe, a modicum of exercise and good healthy food I didn't have to prepare myself ... maybe I could start feeling more like myself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Plans Gang Agley

I had plans for the weekend but lethargy ruled.  I can't seem to come all the way back from the virus or flu or mega cold or whatever laid me low for the last two weeks of December.  No sooner do I start feeling better than I am whacked with a mini-relapse: headaches, sinus infections and general aches and pains.  If this is a consequence of being 60-something, I am not liking it.  Extra vitamins, extra fluids, naps when possible comprise my treatment strategy.  I can't seem to tolerate any leisure activity beyond reading: DVDs annoy me, stitching is beyond my level of concentration, even listening to the radio is an irritation.  My temperament is edging toward toxic.  I have issued preemptive apologies to my husband and am focusing what energies I have left on behaving in a civil fashion at work.

As my 7th and 8th graders would say:  I am sooo done with being sick or even semi-sick.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another Month Nearly Gone

I wonder where the time goes!  As I grow older, it seems to pass ever more quickly.  And with just a little more than a week left in this month, I have yet to decide just how I plan to meet my remaining monthly goals. I have done a pretty good job on Goal #1, Midnight Moogies: making considerable progress on it since I first picked up the piece in December, probably one of my oldest UFOs that is not a class piece.   The top of the border is finished and I have made decent progress on the right side of the border.  Goal #3, finishing and/or assembling three stitched objects, has also been successfully met since I have done the sewing or assembly finishes on 3 ornaments and one candle mat.  So, it is time to move on to Goals 2 and 4, the Mystic Smalls and the Town Square SAL.

So here's the plan:

First up, The Town Square SAL The Frame Shop:  I'll be using a pale blue linen just as I have for all the other pieces in the series [some have been Starquest, others have been Meditation] and will be using the recommended GAST and WDW fibers with the exception of a very few not in my stash for which I will choose substitutes from what I actually have in stash.  That way there will be no waiting for one or two skeins to arrive before starting on the piece.  And it'll be much more economical, as well ... an important  consideration since my husband was laid off before Thanksgiving.

And then, the Mystic Smalls Scissor Fob.  I am deliberately choosing one of the smaller pieces in this class series that doesn't have any hardanger stitches.  I'll hold off on tackling hardanger again till I can take some quality time and sit down and read and reimmerse myself in the class materials.

One really nice thing about this past weekend was that it was one day longer than I had expected it to be.  I work Mon-Thurs, so all my weekends are three days long.  But I forgot all about Martin Luther King Day until just yesterday ... a four day weekend, woo hoo!  I can't remember exactly when we started celebrating MLK day but it was a "late" arrival in my lifetime and not part of my childhood/early adulthood pattern.  So, I hope I may be excused for forgetting about it.  The fact that it was also Inauguration Day this year is neither here nor there, so far as I am concerned.  It just doesn't seem to matter who is in office or what party has a majority in Congress.  As a cranky old lady I am entitled to the cynical belief that all politicians are piratical bastards without enough moral fiber among them all to furnish an amoeba with a viable conscience.

Monday, January 21, 2013

No Credibility Left Here

I am tired of Midnight Moogies!  No, I'm not! Yes, I am!  No, definitely not!  In any case, I am still stitching Midnight Moogies, so you figure it out.  I am done trying to analyze my choices in regards to this project.  I have passed beyond my own understanding.

That being said, I do want to thank those kind readers who commented that they are not bored with the cats and enjoy seeing my progress on them.  Since I am currently working on the border, I can't claim that this progress photo will add much in the way of eye appeal.  Just more and more grey, no eye-popping color.  But as I said in an earlier post, I have become obsessed and here is the result.

It is interesting that while I am so thoroughly engrossed with the Moogies that I happened to come across this version of the same project on the 123stitch message board.  Lesley very graciously allowed me to post her photo here.  It just goes to show that two stitchers can make choices that change the whole look of a piece.  We used the same starting point but ended up in completely different places.  While I am very satisfied with my choice, I also find Lesley's choice fantastic.  The grey fabric gives the piece an other-worldly look that is fascinating.  And if you look carefully, you'll see that Lesley used black for the buildings while I used the charted DMC 823.  It may be a trick of the light or the difference between two cameras but it also looks as though Lesley went a few shades darker on some of the cats.  It just goes to show the power of color to change the mood of a piece.  If this weren't such a time consuming piece, I might be tempted to stitch a second version on grey linen ... but I have way too many other projects on hand to even consider a "do over."

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Stitching Hermit

With the exception of 11:30 Mass on Sunday, there is very little on my agenda for this weekend.  And since I work Mon.-Thurs., I'll have a three day hermitting weekend.  I expect to divide it pretty evenly between sewing and assembly finishes and actual cross-stitching.  As far as the cross stitching goes, I'll continue to concentrate on the border of Midnight Moogies.  As to the finishing, my dining room table is covered with projects that got put on hold when I broke my last woven weight sewing machine needle.  I have stocked up on every conceivable sort of sewing machine needle, from quilting, to woven, to leather.  I don't want to ever have this happen again.

I also hope to squeeze in some time for baking and a little gourmet cooking.  And, of course, the never ending round of laundry, vacuuming, sweeping and mopping up will be attended to.  Most people fantasize about paying off their homes and those of their near and dear if they should ever win the lottery.  But, I swear, if I were ever to win the lottery, the very first thing I'd do would be to hire some reliable household help to clean twice a week and keep up with the laundry and ironing..

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Anniversary Gifts for my Stash

My husband, after we agreed we were not going to buy Christmas and anniversary gifts for one another this year, decided to check out the wish list on my blog and ordered these little lovelies from 1-2-3 stitch.  They arrived yesterday, a few days late for the anniversary [the 42nd, if anyone is curious] but welcome nonetheless.  I first saw these lovely Pineberry Lane designs on a blog from my reading list sidebar - I can't remember which one at the moment - but I knew at once that I wanted to stitch them.  The pieces are from top left, clockwise, Tansy-Yarrow-Rue, Autumn on Marigold Lane, and Mehitabel's Redwork.  I do believe I will bump at least one of them up to the head of the line for new starts once I feel I've earned one by finishing a UFO or class project or two or three.  But since I find each and every one of the three absolutely fabulous, I have no idea which I should choose.  Any opinions?  [Sorry about the spot of glare on the Redwork piece: what it conceals is a mirror image of the peacock.]

And then there is my TUSAL.  Now, I don't follow any of the usual rules for photographing ort jars.  I run my ort jar from April to March because I set the orts out for the birds to use as nesting materials in early Spring.  And, instead of posting a photo every full moon, I post one whenever I happen to remember to do so.  So here is the latest photo, with lots and lots of orts from the colorful Midnight Moogies.  There's a lot of grey on top but just below you can just make out all the reds, oranges and teals from the last two cats.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Inertia ...

... is the scientific concept that proposes that objects in motion tend to remain in motion and objects at rest tend to remain at rest.  Apparently, the concept can be applied to stitching as well.  I honestly believed I was ready for a change of pace and wanted to start work on one of my other January goals.  But this morning, I just wasn't motivated to kit up the next Town Square SAL ornament or prep a bit of Confederate Grey linen for the next piece in the Mystic Smalls class series.  So what am I stitching, you might ask?  Here's where the inertia comes in: I am still stitching the top border of Midnight Moogies.  For some bizarre reason I have become obsessed with the notion of finishing the entire grey outer border before putting this piece aside for a while.  These cats are so damned insistent available that there doesn't seem to be much point in picking up anything else at the moment.

I used to be such a contented rotation stitcher, enjoying a smorgasbord of stitching choices.  As a result, my blog had a modicum of variety.  There were pictures of something quite different with each and every post.  Lately, I seem to have acquired stitcher's OCD and there is a sameness to my blog: the same damned alley cats on the same damned fence, caterwauling away, demanding my attention and, no doubt, boring many of my readers.  But I don't quite know how to break the cycle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I am really putting the Moogies down for a while ...

...  I know I have been saying that for two days now but I just had to see how far along with the top border I could get today before putting the piece aside for the next two weeks.  Border stitching, however boring, can also become somewhat obsessive.  And there is no getting around the fact that I would dearly love to see the top section of the border over and done with!!!

So here are two last comparison photos:


        Midnight Moogies: the UFO.  Circa 2006


           Midnight Moogies: the WIP. Current.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Moving on to the next January Goal

This has been a dismal Sunday.  The trip to morning Mass was complicated by a really dense fog.  I'd estimate the visibility at about five or six car lengths.  A real pea soup of a fog!  Even though we live only three blocks from the Hudson River, such dense fog is quite unusual and probably a result of the unseasonably warm temperatures for January, about 48 degrees F.  I had to serve as lector at the 11:30 Mass and then run to the grocery store for a few necessities ... all of which tended to split up my day into pieces too short for any big projects.  And I am still feeling tired from the Friday-Saturday marathon of prepping for and then running a retreat for the second graders about to make their First Confession later this month.  A nap seems in order.

As the weekend winds down, I am finally abandoning Midnight Moogies after a little more than a month's exclusive stitching.  I have continued to work on the grey border at the top of the design and am making some headway.  But I am a slow stitcher, averaging 6-8 cross stitches a minute.  Given that there are 11 rows, each 230 stitches wide, and that I have only stitched three and a half rows; it will take me a little more than 5 hours to finish the top section of border.  I am not even thinking ahead to the side and bottom borders.  I look at this project and I think to myself that I am almost done and a quick glance at the progress photos makes that seem reasonable.  But I  have quite a bit left to stitch when you really look at the piece.  There's all the flora at the bottom of the design and the borders.  I am estimating that there is something between 35% and 40% left to stitch. And apart from some planned time stitching on it in a doctor's waiting room on Monday morning while I wait for my husband to have a procedure, I'll be setting this project aside for a while to work on my remaining January goals of the Victoria Sampler Mystic Smalls and the Town Square SAL The Frame Shop.  I may post a photo of the cats tomorrow if I make noticeable progress on the border.  Otherwise, you will see it again in February.

I picked up Midnight Moogies for the first time since 2006 on December 9, 2012.  So, all things considered, I am quite happy with the progress I have made on Midnight Moogies since turning the UFO > WIP.  Still, I am quite ready for a change of pace.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just A Quick Progress Photo

Here is a photo of Midnight Moogies as it stands at the moment.  I've still got quite a ways to go but I find I am stitching a bit more as I recover my strength.  I still can't shake the persistent cough but otherwise am returning to my usual state of health.  And as I do, I am spending more time stitching and less time just sitting  and watching DVDs or napping.

This fourth cat was a lot of fun to stitch in all of its red and orange glory.  But I am falling behind a bit on my daily quota of border stitching.  I'll have to put in a few days working on the outer grey border at the top of the design before treating myself to stitching the wild Rousseau-like flora at the bottom of the design.  I find this design to be very derivative: the Van Gogh like stars, the Rousseau like flowers and leaves ...  I am reminded of high school art appreciation classes.  That doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the piece.  Quite the contrary, while in college I used to make it a habit to drop by the Metropolitan to view Van Gogh's Starry Night at least once a month.  I would sit and gaze at it for a half an hour or so before moving on to my other favorites, like Max Ernst's The Geranium at MOMA or the gorgeous tapestries at The Cloisters.  Rousseau was another of my favorites.  Both the cats and the plants in this piece are strongly reminiscent of a Rousseau painting.  I used to buy postcard sized reproductions of his work and use them for bookmarks.  Indeed, I think it was memory's afterimages of favorite paintings that attracted me to this design in the first place.  Forty years after I graduated from college and left my native NYC, my tastes are still pretty much the same.  Paintings and statues and ballets and music that were my favorites in my college years remain so today.  Either my personal aesthetic developed early or I am a case of arrested development.  I prefer to believe the former theory is true.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter stitching

Normally, I spend January extending the Christmas season by stitching something with a Yuletide theme.  But since I never did enter into the Christmas state of mind this year at all, there hardly seems any point in sticking with that concept.  I plan to spend this coming week continuing work with Midnight Moogies.  I foresee Midnight Moogies also becoming the waiting room project, at least so far as the checkerboard border and outer grey border is concerned.  With few color changes and large expanses of fabric to stitch, the borders are perfect for doctor's waiting rooms, always provided I can find a seat by a sunny window.  Objectively speaking, there is still quite a bit to do on Midnight Moogies ... probably 40% left to stitch ... but I feel as though I have reached the point where the end is in sight.  I am actually thinking about which project to pick up once I am done with these colorful cats.  I expect a finish sometime in February.  And I think next up will be The Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  It's a project that will be perfect for cool weather, as well, what with all that afghan fabric cozily covering my knees and lap.  And if I manage to get it done in time for my mother's April birthday or, failing that, in time for Mother's Day: well, that would be just grand.

But for now, I will stick to my January goals and work one more week on the cats and then rotate to another piece in the Mystic Smalls Class Packet and The Frame Shop in the Town Square SAL.  I am trying to keep all my monthly goals well within achievable limits and am perhaps asking less of myself than I ought.  That could also be a lingering effect of being sick.  I have so little energy and even less motivation.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am still earning stitching time using bright colors by first stitching one or two needle lengths of boring grey or black or white border.  As a result, I haven't made enough interesting progress to warrant a photograph: just a long row of the grey border at the top of the design and a few more rows of the bright teal in the third cat.  Perhaps, by tomorrow, once I have finished the teal cat.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Moving into 2013

As I enter 2013, I am coming off more than a week long bout of flu.  I spent my Christmas vacation being thoroughly sick which meant lots more sleeping and lots less stitching than planned.  Not to mention no interaction with any loved ones beside my long-suffering husband.  I am not a patient patient and tend to snarl a bit when given  care below my own standards.  And let's face it: there are very few men who know how to care for the sick.  Generally, the species operates on two maxims: "If you don't ask for it, you don't need it!"  and  "If you haven't asked ten times yet, you didn't really mean NOW."

As you can probably tell by that last sentence, I am not entirely over the snarly part of being sick.  The aftereffects of splitting headache, persistent cough and really bad hair still linger.  I will give my husband points about the hair, though, since he never once so much as smirked no matter how many bizarre directions it took ... and I am talking electrocuted grunge rocker hair, here!  To be fair to the man, when asked to go out and get cough suppressant [when I finally surfaced from the coughing spasms long enough to form a coherent request] he did go out and buy two bottles.  Perhaps it was too much to expect him to come up with the idea on his own that first morning after an endless night of paroxysms.  He did mutter "emergency room" several times but I think that was more of a feeble bid to foist me off on someone else than a serious expression of concern.  Poor guy.  Well, things should return to full normal in a few days and all will be forgotten.

As to the stitching, there were some brief intervals of lucidity and a little was accomplished.  When last seen, on Christmas Eve, Midnight Moogies looked like the photo on the left.  But since then, I have filled in the Van Gogh like swirling stars in the night sky, stitched a bit more of the black and white checkerboard border, started the outer grey border  and continued work on the third cat.  I admit, not a lot of progress for more than a week ...  but, like I said, I have been sick.

And now, it looks like this.  I am happy to be moving along on this project and don't yet feel the yen to switch to another.  I believe as I am getting older I am becoming less of a rotation stitcher and more of a one project at a time stitcher.  I am not quite all the way through the conversion process.  I guess it would be more accurate to say that I have greatly reduced the size of my rotation [to about 2 or 3 active projects] and that I consider a rotation interval a full month now, rather than a week.  I think part of the reason is that I have gone back to large projects and class projects.  It simply takes longer to see progress on a BAP or a class piece.  And, as one sees some progress, one gets excited about the project all over again and one is reluctant to set it aside. In any case, I will probably give Midnight Moogies another week before switching to one of my other January goals.