Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Assessing April Goals, Setting May Goals

2013 BAPs: continue work on TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
2013 Challenge: WIPs and UFOs: finish stitching Midnight Moogies and resume work on The English Band Sampler.  Finished Midnight Moogies but The English Band Sampler will have to wait till May.
2013 Class Projects Challenge: continue work on Mystic Smalls, this month's project will be the tuffet.  Finished frogging and restitching the scissor case and stitched the needle book.
2013 Start: continue work on Cedar Hill's Berry Patch Rabbit.  Finished on 4/14/13.
Town Square SAL:  finish The Cross Stitch Shop and stitch The Fiber Shop.  Finished The Cross Stitch Shop.  And have gotten a third of the way through with the Fiber Shop.
Sewing and Assembly Finishes: Complete three. The Cross Stitch Shop as a flat ornament. One more La-D-Da Cardinal Christmas ornament.  A bookmark.
Off goal stitching: a bookmark designed by self and one La-D-Da Cardinal ornament.

2013 BAPs: continue work on TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
2013 Challenge: WIPs and UFOs:  resume work on The English Band Sampler.
2013 Class Projects Challenge: continue work on Mystic Smalls, this month's project will be the tuffet.
Town Square SAL:  finish The Fiber Shop and stitch The Frame Shop.
Sewing and Assembly Finishes: Complete three.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mystic Smalls

Again, no camera, so photos will have to wait till Wednesday.  Being the eternal optimist, when I packed for this retreat I filled my rolling overnight case with the minimum amount of comfortable clothing, the necessary medications and toiletries, my usual prayer book/aids, one book for serious  and one for light bedtime reading, and five different stitching projects.  They were Midnight Moogies [which had maybe an hour's worth of stitching left when it went into the stitching bag and was finished last night], the Mystic Smalls class project, one more La-D-Da cardinal ornament, a bookmark, and a name tree for my son Sean.  I packed the last three small projects are meant for discreet stitching while attending lectures and workshops.  I can listen perfectly well while stitching but some presenters are offended if you don't give them your full attention!  Only two books and five stitching projects!  What does that say about my priorities?

The current project is the Mystic Smalls.  I have to admit that I've skipped over this class set for the past two weeks.  The scissor case I had just "finished" had a serious miscount which requires frogging one of the stitching ladies and restitching her four threads/two stitches to the right.  I'll have to attend to that before I move forward on the needle book that I had started.  Maybe then, I'll be able to stick to my rotation schedule.  Even so, I haven't been too bad.  I have worked on at least three of the five pieces each and every week. The scissor case and the needle book will be my projects for today.  Tomorrow, I hope to start on the biscornu.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Finally, A UFO Finish!!!!

I forgot to pack my camera, when packing for the retreat ... so photos will have to wait till Wednesday.

Midnight Moogies is done.  A process that started back in 2006 is over at last.  And a strange process it has been.  My first mistake was using the recommended 14ct Aida.  If I were starting over again I would use a 32ct or, better yet, a 36ct linen.  My next mistake was starting at the center and working outward ... after making a rookie mistake in the orientation of the fabric.  I ended up lopping off sections at the top and bottom and sewing them to the sides to correct this error which I didn't discover until well into the project.  At that point I had already stitched the two right side cats and all the houses and shooting stars on the right as well.  I really should have started over again at that point but I just didn't have the heart to do so.    All I can say is I do not recommend stitching through three thicknesses of Aida even with the sturdiest of needles.  I dislike Aida at the best of times but this was such torture that I put this piece away sometime in late 2006 and didn't resurrect it till October of 2012.  It was one of my very oldest UFOs.  I do like the individual cats though and I can see myself someday wanting to stitch one of them again: maybe as a cell phone case or a TV remote pocket.  Not any time soon, mind you, but someday.

So, it is with great joy that I mark this project as DONE on the UFO sidebar.  I am a little too old and arthritic for a happy dance but I can manage a few bars of the Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.  Please sing along with me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Murphy's Law as Applied to Stitching

The closer you are to a finish, the more likely your professional and personal life will become so complicated as to eliminate stitching time.  This works in direct proportion to the age of the near-finish.  A UFO dating from 2006 complicates life exponentially.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rearranging the Rotation

At the moment, I am still working on Midnight Moogies and will do so until it is done, done, done ... at which time I will post a last photo, at least until I get around to its sewing finish.

The planned rotation for the end of April was
4/15-17.  Midnight Moogies.
4/18-20.  TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
4/21-23.  Sewing Finishes.
4/24-26.  The Fiber Shop.
4/27-30. Mystic Smalls.

Well, my urge to finish both The Berry Patch Rabbit and Midnight Moogies  blew that plan out of the water.  Obviously, there wasn't time for The Woodland Angel this time around.   I'll try to get two more finishes in this week so as to meet my monthly goal of three finishes.  Since The Fiber Shop is on my lap doodler frame it is not particularly portable, I'll have to stitch on that at home only.    The Mystic Smalls are easier to carry since I am using my German spring lock hoop for those pieces so they'll get a little extra attention as my travel project from 4/24-26 and as my focus project 4/27-30.

I'll be abandoning my husband to maintain the homestead all by his lonesome - he is already talking mini-pizzas for dinner every night along with Lonesome Dove and Clint Eastwood DVD marathons on the TV - for three days at the end of the month.  I'll be attending a retreat - the religious kind not the stitching kind - and will pack The Mystic Smalls  to stitch in my quiet times.  I may even pack The Woodland Angel in the hopes that I'll have some time to catch up with that one, as well.  That should put me back on track.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Answers to some comments

I won't be posting a photo of Midnight Moogies till it's actually finished.  The leaves are done and just the checkerboard border on the left is yet to stitch.  But I thought I'd answer some of the questions from the comments.

The stitched area is 16 3/8" wide and 13" high, so the piece is 270 square inches of nearly solid stitching.  Since it takes me roughly an hour to stitch one square inch, I have probably spent 270-300 hours [allowing some extra time for frogging mistakes and stitching/counting confetti] on this piece.

I regret that I stitched it on the recommended 14 ct Navy Blue Aida.   I really dislike Aida.  And, had I stitched it on a 32 ct or 36 ct linen, it would have finished up a much more manageable size.  Perfect for a throw pillow.

The magazine containing the chart is already promised to Linda and will be winging its way to her sometime this week.  A number of people have asked for the chart but Linda was the first to do so.

It was a fun stitch ... not at all my usual style but something about it appealed to me.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Midnight Moogies - Closing in on a Finish

These past three days, I have been focusing on Midnight Moogies with this result.  As you can see, I am very close to another finish.  So close, in fact, that I am going to continue to stitch on this piece until I am done.  I'll pick up the rotation again afterward but for now, I'll be tending to my cats.  All I have left to stitch is a bit of the lightest green in two of the leaves and about 14 inches of checkerboard border on the left.  I will have to do a bit of frogging to make the checkerboard on the left line up properly ... or at least, as properly as may be, given the seam in the middle of it.  Don't worry about those few spots on the bottom of the piece ... I took the picture outdoors in a very light drizzle ... those spots are just raindrops and will dry without stain.

All in all, I am pleased with the piece and will finish it as the back cushion for an old Japanese lacquered bench I use in my bedroom.  I just need to take some measurements so I can buy upholstery quality foam and some upholstery fabric in either deep wine or charcoal grey.  I'll have to see what's available that works with both the colors in the design and in the finish of the wood.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Skipping Around

Friday-Sunday's rotation piece was supposed to be The Mystic Smalls.  But stitching is a joy and a pleasure and it pleased me to skip on over to The Berry Patch Rabbit.  The rabbit had three things going for it: 1] it was handy, right on top of the stitching pile, 2] it was uncomplicated and 3] it was about two thirds of the way to a finish.  All these factors combine to make it the perfect fit for this past weekend.    And the proof is in the pudding: I have a finish.  It's only the second finish so far this year making it all that more precious to me.    According to my list, the next piece in the rotation is Midnight Moogies which is also very close to a finish.  I may be able to add a third entry to my Cross Stitch sidebar before three more days are done.  Extending the rotation interval seems to be working for me.

So the revised rotation schedule will be:
4/15-17.  Midnight Moogies.
4/18-20.  TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
4/21-23.  Sewing Finishes.
4/24-26.  The Fiber Shop.
4/27-30. Mystic Smalls.

If I do manage to finish Midnight Moogies in this rotation, in May, I'll replace it with The English Band Sampler which hasn't seen any action since September of 2012.  Even with the expanded rotation intervals, it should take two or three months to finish the remaining bands.  I can't believe I have just typed the word May ... time seems to be flying.  But then this is one of my busy seasons and time always seems to run out faster when you are working against multiple deadlines.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Change in the Rotation Schedule

I got very little stitching done Tuesday on my  rotation piece, The Fiber Shoppe: just the hour before work.   I have read on a number of blogs that quite a few people are using a three day rotation interval: select four or five projects and work on each one for three days before rotating to the next.  This allows the stitcher to build a little momentum on each project in the rotation.  I tried this and continued to stitch on The Fiber Shop through Wednesday and Thursday with this progress: it's raining outside so please excuse the indoor photo.  The colors are actually a bit brighter than this ... you can get a better sense of the colors in my previous post.  I have reached a point where I will be making a few changes in the chart.  After completing this next row of brick red, the chart calls for stitching the words and date, "Fils.  2006".  Fils being the French word for fiber, I will be stitching the word "Fibers" instead.  After all, these ornaments will be going on a Small Town USA themed Christmas Tree.  I'll also be deleting the date simply because I am not fond of dated Christmas ornaments.  I haven't yet decided whether I will stitch the window glass in Tin Bucket as charted or in Bahama Breeze for a lighter look.  I'll wait until I get all the masonry and window frames and door trim stitched before making that decision.  But my instinct is that Tin Bucket is just too dark and will make the shop look like it's closed for the night.

So now my next rotation will be
4/12-14.  Mystic Smalls
4/15-17.  Midnight Moogies.
4/18-20.  TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
4/21-23.  The Berry Patch Rabbit.
4/24-26.  The Fiber Shop.

And once I get The Berry Patch Rabbit done, its place in the rotation will be taken by sewing finishes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

Mondays are always toughest after a long break.  And the Monday after a 10 day Easter recess is no exception.  But I won't be bored.  There is a great deal to do at this time of year.  The real challenge will be fitting in some stitching time.

Today's rotation piece was The Berry Patch Rabbit.  Happily, I found the extra skein of DMC 610 I was so sure I had on hand and was able to continue work on this piece without the annoyance of missing floss.  I  stitched on this piece about an hour before work.  Though I had hoped to get in some stitching during my lunch hour and a bit more before bedtime but I ended up working through lunch and was too weary to stitch safely when I got home at 9:00 p.m.  I waited till morning to take photos in natural light.   My limited photographic skills need all the advantages outdoor settings provide.

Today it's back to work on my current Town Square piece: The Fiber Shop.  This is a truly lovely chart with lots of fine detail.  I am enjoying it thoroughly.  But I think it will take me the rest of the month to complete, even though I have 4 Tuesdays left in the month.  This lovely little French style building is three stories tall and will be one of the larger ornaments in the series.  If by some chance I do finish it before the month is out, I'll pick up The Framing Shop, as the next in the Town Square series.  After that's done, I'll finish up the textile arts shops with The Quilt Shop and The Knit Shop.  After that, it will be on to all the foodie shops.  Anyway, here's a shot after morning stitching.  Again, I hope to do a bit more during the lunch hour and after work.  But we shall see what we shall see.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday Stitching

 I finished The Cross Stitch Shop as a flat ornament like all the others in the series.  And I began work on The Fiber Shop instead of The Framing Shop.  I realized I had failed to print out the over one sign for The Framing Shop so I simply moved on to the next chart on my to do list.  I'll look through my binder to see if I filed the page with The Framing Shop's sign improperly. In any case, I have loaded my Doodler table top frame with enough blue linen to stitch at least three [possibly four] more shops in the Indy Town Square series.  So, even after I find the missing page of chart, I'll need to choose one or two more shops to kit up and have ready in the stitching bag.

The Fiber Shop will be one of the larger ornaments at 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall.  It is a three story building and I have only begun work on the top floor.  I did switch out a few colors so as to work with my stash.  I am using Poison Apple Belle Soie for the facade of the building instead of GAST Old Brick.  I knew I didn't have nearly enough of the Old Brick  so I am using it as the accent [capstones] color.  Otherwise, I am following the chart.  I know some people don't like to mix silks and cotton overdyes but I rather like the added texture that mixed fibers give a piece.

Other good news:  I was right: I did have another skein of DMC 610 so stitching on The Berry Patch Rabbit will continue uninterrupted.  It is nice to know that tomorrow's rotation stitching won't be complicated by any annoying gaps in inventory.

I also hope to get some work done on my TW stocking today.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Easter recess is more than half over and I have been enjoying the break from normal routines.  I have gotten in a lot more stitching time and the rotation method appears to be working quite nicely for me.  I am moving along with my projects without suffering from boredom.  And if I feel like lingering on a particular project a little longer than the rotation stipulates, well: I made the rules so I guess I can break them if I choose.  I did exactly that yesterday, finishing up the windows and starting on the sign on The Cross Stitch Shop from the Indy Town Square series.  Now all that's left is the over one background of the sign which I  am stitching in a tent stitch laid out in the basket weave method and a few specialty stitches here and there.  I should be able to finish that today which would give me my first cross stitch finish of 2013.  And that would still leave me four Tuesdays in April to stitch The Framing Shop.  I need to double up on the Town Square ornaments for the next three months if I am to meet my annual goal of one a month from this series.  I'll post a photo when I have a finish, sewing and assembly included.

The weather is beginning to warm, at least during the day.  We still drop to the 20s overnight.  Still, it won't be long before I can stitch on the patio and enjoy all the natural light and fresh air.  I live in a rather densely populated town house development and sometimes the noise from neighbors can be a bit of a trial but that's to be expected.  My neighbor to the left just bought a pit bull puppy who seems to think my backyard is part of his territory.  I wonder how long it will take before he gets used to my presence and ceases to bark every time I venture out at the same time he is enjoying a bit of fresh air, too.  I approach the fence and talk to him to get him used to my scent and my voice.  I figure we'll make friends eventually.  The folks next yard beyond the puppy are the real problem: whiny, argumentative children one of whom is a world class tantrum thrower, inconsiderate adults who have no sense of volume control [either for their music or their own voices].  Parenthetical Question:  Why do loud voices speaking a foreign language always sound like a violent argument is in progress?  For all I know, the speakers could be discussing a grocery list!  I don't mind happy noise, especially from children.  I can deal with the varying tastes of my neighbors when it comes to music: punk, salsa, ethnic folk, even, God protect and save me, rap ... as long as it is not at ear-splitting volume.  I figure you just have to accept noise if you choose to live in a town house.  It's not like I'm not used to close quarters.  I grew up in Brooklyn, in a two story house just two lots in from a major avenue ... plenty of traffic and people noise.  Those who desire absolute silence should live on mountaintops or desert islands or the far side of the Moon.  But it is wearing to hear a constant barrage of whining, crying, screaming, arguing.  A CD player with headphones is often the best friend this old lady has!  But if I just have patience the whiny, tantrum throwing children will grow older and abandon the backyard in favor of our relatively traffic free street as a playground for bike riding and ball playing.  Or the family could move out of the neighborhood.  And I'll enjoy a relatively quiet backyard again.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Planting Peas on Palm Sunday; Oops, Make That Wednesday

In the Garden:  I usually plant my peas on Palm Sunday since peas are a cool weather crop.  This was one of the years I would have had to brush away the snow to do so.    And braved low temps as well.  So I put it off a few days.  But I plan to plant a nice little crop today, reserving half my seeds for late August so I can have another harvest in the cooler month of October.  It will be nice to work the soil again.  I'll have to check my gardening "bible",  the old Victory Garden manual, to see what other early crops I can plant.  Probably radishes and lettuce and maybe carrots.  Mmm, baby carrots ... I can just taste the sweet crunchiness.  When my youngest son still lived at home, carrots never made it to maturity or to the table.  He pulled them out of the garden, dusted them off on his jeans leg and ate.  Other people had garden pests called slugs and birds and aphids; I had one called Dan.

On the stitching front: Yesterday's rotation piece was The Cross Stitch Shop from the Town Square series.  I frogged the brick stitch done previously since I felt 2 strands was too heavy for 32ct and obscured the desired brick effect.  I re-stitched with one strand and am liking it much better.  As you can see, I've got  the brick facade done.  I actually like the way the floss fails to totally cover the blue linen; it looks like the mortar between the bricks.  I started to stitch the windows with a very pale blue silk, Belle Soie's Bahama Breeze, one strand, over two, half cross.  I tried it with a full cross first but even with just one strand, the window glass over-powered the window frame.  The chart leaves the window glass unstitched but I think that leaves the whole piece looking unfinished. Once the windows are done, it will just be the over one sign and a few specialty stitches making up the flowers in the window box ... and one more ornament will be ready for an assembly finish.  Since I am so close to a finish with this, I'll continue to work on it today.  Even so, I hope to get a bit of stitching time in on the Wednesday rotation piece, Mystic Smalls, in the evening.

And an update on the stitched gifts that I mailed out to the grandchildren for Easter:  My daughter-in-law told my husband that the children were delighted with the chocolate goodies but loved the stitched items as well.  Piper carried her tote around all day and filled it with flowers [probably dandelions and violets] that she picked during her wanderings and Liam was equally pleased with his tooth fairy pillow using it as a headrest for a quick nap on the lawn.  So some solid granny points earned!!!  My son also mentioned that Liam carries last year's bunny beanbag just about everywhere ... like a security blanket.  I do so love grandchildren with the perception to appreciate stitched articles.  My daughter-in-law is high in my good graces as well after joking that she has so many beautifully stitched gift totes that she'll never have to buy paper ones ... the only problem being that she doesn't want to give any of her gift bags away.  Gotta love her for that!  I consider this greedy hoarding of my handiwork a worthy compliment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Yesterday's Stitching Progress

I worked solely on Cedar Hill's Berry Patch Rabbit, as per my planned rotation.  I got a little more than one quadrant of the leaves and berries done.  But an irritating thing happened along the way.  I ran out of DMC 610.  When I kitted this up I could have sworn I had another skein of 610 in my extra floss bag.  Well, it turns out I have two skeins of 611 and three of 612 and one of 613  but I must have misread one of the labels when I decided I didn't need to purchase any more on my last visit to A. C. Moore or to Michael's.  And, with the price of gas being what it is, I am definitely not going to make a run to the other side of the county for one 50 cent item.  It'll just have to wait till I need to shop in the area anyway.  In any case, here is a photo of current progress.

Having learned my lesson, though, I am going to go through my three boxes of bobbin wound DMC and check for other instances of nearly gone colors.  I'll also be checking my stitching rotation bag, particularly the next two or three Town Square SAL projects, to make sure I won't be running out of anything else.  If the list of needed floss is long enough to warrant paying a s/h charge, I'll phone in an order to 1-2-3-stitch.  They have a very quick turn around time and I should have the 610 before the Rabbit comes up again in the rotation.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Assessing March Goals, Setting April Goals

This was the month for returning to rotation stitching and rediscovering the joy of the process.  No self-imposed pressure to finish any one piece in particular.

2013 BAPs: resume work on TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.  It was a pleasure to pick this piece up again.  I am nearly done with page 7 of the chart.
2013 Challenge: WIPs and UFOs: continue work on Midnight Moogies.  I made pretty good progress on this piece.   I  expect a finish in April.
2013 Class Projects Challenge: continue work on Mystic Smalls, this month's project will be the needlebook.  There are two in the chart pack.  I'll be stitching the one with the dockside street scene.  I have already stitched the stitching ladies twice, on the stitcher's pocket and on the scissor case.  A third time would be a bit much.   Some frogging got in the way of serious forward progress but all in all, I am happy with a finished scissor case and a needle book completely cross-stitched but not assembled/sewn.
2013 Start: kit up and start work on Cedar Hill's Berry Patch Rabbit.  I have made good progress, the rabbit itself is stitched: now it's on to the berries and leaves around him..
Town Square SAL:  continue to stitch The Cross Stitch Shop.  Have made moderate progress but ended up doing some frogging here as well. 
Sewing and Assembly Finishes: Complete three.   Way beyond expectations.  Completed a candle mat, six La-D-Da Cardinal ornaments, four of the Town Square SAL ornaments, the Stitcher's Hideaway 2012 souvenir Halloween ornament, the Better Homes and Gardens Tooth Fairy Pillow, one Japanese Kogin diamond shaped and two Kogin Christmas Tree shaped Christmas ornaments, an Elizabethan Christmas ornament, a gift tote using Jennifer Aiken Smith's Dragon of Compassion, another gift tote using Papillion's Peacocks, a small pin pillow using an Papillion Creations Moonlight Serenade,  the Ink Circles Full Moon Halloween ornament and The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Christmas ornament.  Having caught up on such a lot of small finishes, maybe, next month I'll finally be able to tackle some of the larger finishing projects like pillows and the Homespun Elegance pin cushions on pedestal stands.  It would be so nice to catch up with all my sewing finishing but somehow that never seems to happen.
Grand total for the month: 22
Simply enjoy the process. Yes.

APRIL GOALS:  Since I have Easter Week off, I should enjoy a bit more stitching time than is usual for me; though I do want to get some gardening and backyard chores done as well.  Then, of course, there is the dreaded Spring cleaning.  This year, I want to have a yard sale  in May or June and really clear out some of the clutter that has accumulated in our small townhouse over the last 30+ years.  That means I have to get started organizing my inventory now.  A de-cluttered home should be easier to clean and as I am getting older, easy sounds just right.
2013 BAPs: continue work on TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.
2013 Challenge: WIPs and UFOs: continue work on Midnight Moogies. or resume work on The English Band Sampler.
2013 Class Projects Challenge: continue work on Mystic Smalls, this month's project will be the tuffet.
2013 Start: continue work on Cedar Hill's Berry Patch Rabbit
Town Square SAL:  finish the Cross Stitch Shop and stitch The Frame Shop.
Sewing and Assembly Finishes: Complete three.