Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Year in Review & Goals Assessment

Every year I seem to have fewer and fewer finishes.  I suppose that is to be expected as I slow down with age.  But I'll be retiring 3/4s of the way through 2015 and should see the trend reverse in future years as I have more leisure time.  I look forward to that most heartily.

Total # of Projects completed: 40
Total # of Smalls/Ornaments: 26. 1 Patriotic Heart ornament, 3 Valentine's Heart ornaments, 12 Town Square ornaments, 1 PS Christmas ornament, 5 small pin pillows, 1 Baby Bib, 2 Autumn ornaments, Mystic Smalls Needle Book
Total # of Medium projects completed: 12.   By the Bay Needle Arts 2010 Easter BunnyCross My Heart's Cumin [tea towel], Cross My Heart's Rosemary [tea towel], Cross My Heart's Sage [tea tpwel], Dragon Dreams' Here Be DragonsDragon Dreams' Compass Rose DragonEaster Egg Band SamplerHomespun Elegance's Owls' Night OutPineberry Lane's Autumn on Marigold LanePineberry Lane's Mehitabel's Redwork SamplerPineberry Lane's Tansy, Yarrow and Rue samplerSue Hillis' The Pirate's Creed.
Total # of Large projects completed: 2.  Dragon Dreams' The Dragon of the Winter Moon, Dragon Dreams The Dragon's Tea Party
Total # of BAPs completed:

Total # of Sewing & Assembly Finishes: 25
Ornaments: 22
Totes: 0
Pin Pillows: 2
Throw Pillows: 0
Scissor Fobs: 1
  • ASSESSING 2014 GOALS AND SETTING 2015 GOALS
  • There has been more positive movement than negative on these goals.  I am really quite pleased with my stitching year.
  • 1. My Own Crazy Challenge: work on unfinished class pieces from 2005-date.  I did get back to the Mystic Smalls projects and continued work on this year's class project, The Kindred Spirits stitching journal.  I am nearly done with the former and have made some progress on the later.  I should be able to tackle the Sturbridge Box and accessories sometime in the first quarter of 2015.  And in the second quarter, I'll work on The Christmas Sampler from 2013.  Since I'll be taking a class with Thea in October, I'd like to get all my Victoria Sampler class projects from previous years done to bring to Show and Tell night.  I'd also like to finish a sampler I purchased, The Pumpkin Farm.
  • 02. Complete two BAPs: Stitch stockings for Piper and Rocco.  I am afraid I let this slip by the wayside, focusing mainly on The English Band Sampler as my primary BAP this year.
  • 03. Stitch a few more Heart ornaments for the Anniversary-Valentine's Day tree.   I stitched four more heart ornaments, one for the Patriotic tree in May and three for the Anniversary and Valentine's Day tree in Jan/Feb.  A goal met in full.
  • 04. Stitch one ornament a month from the 2006 Indy Town Square SAL.  I stitched and did the assembly finishes on twelve more ornaments this year ... so this goal was met in full.
  • 05. Continue to work on UFOs and WIPs list going into 2014.   I am very near a finish on The English Band Sampler, which leaves seven projects remaining on this list.  I would have liked to eliminate a few more pieces from this list but it was not to be.
  • 06. Limit stash purchases to fabric, fiber and tools needed to complete charts on hand.  I didn't buy any new charts this year, though I did pick up a few free charts at the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway.  If you look at my previous post, you will see that my expenditures were limited to a retreat and to fabric, floss and tools.
  • 07. Continue to blog regularly, aiming for every other day.  Just as in the past few years, I haven't actually blogged every other day but the number of my posts does exceed half of 365.
  • 08. Make an effort to catch up on sewing finishes and frame 2 or 3 pieces professionally.  I left this rather late in the year, but since October 1, I have completed 25 finishes which works out to 2 a month, meeting the goal.
  • 09. Inventory and declutter existing stash.  I have been systematically pulling charts from stash for my one new start each month.  This year, I concentrated on my Dragon Dreams charts.  I stitched five of these charts and passed them on to other stitcher's as I completed them.  I also gave away a number of Pineberry Lane and Homespun Elegance charts as well as some door prize charts from the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway that I knew I would never stitch.  And I culled a number of other charts that I had stitched but, for no particularly good reason, I was saving.  They were offered as giveaways in November and December.  I plan to continue to give away charts I have stitched, with a very few exceptions, and by mid 2015, I should have trimmed my chart stash down to a manageable level.  At that point, I will actually take an inventory, make up a spread sheet and start planning for the future.  In 2015, I hope to work on Workbasket Quaker animals  and my remaining dragon charts as my monthly new starts.
  • 10. Change EGA membership to cyber-stitcher.   I missed the chance to do this because my renewal doesn't come up again till March 2015 ... I'd forgotten that I had signed up for a two year membership last time around.  

                GOALS FOR 2015
  • 1. My Own Crazy Challenge: work on unfinished class pieces from 2005-date.   There are still 9 projects on this list.  I'd like to pare it down to four this year.  I'll be concentrating on the Victoria Sampler charts since I'll be taking a class with Thea in October and would like to bring my finishes of her designs to Show & Tell night.
  • 02. Complete two BAPs:  Stitch stockings for Piper and Rocco.  
  • 03. Seasonal Stitching Disorder Projects.  Stitch one Prairie Schooler Year Round in the appropriate month, thus adding to my seasonal ornament collection in a disciplined and consistent fashion.  Furthermore, stitch The Trilogy's Winter Spots  for the late February tree and a few Easter ornaments for the Spring tree.  
  • 04. Stitch one ornament a month from the 2006 Indy Town Square SAL.   I am not sure I will stitch all of the 12 remaining buildings.  Some of the shops, like the Wedding Shop, the Tannebaum Shop and the Abecedarium, don't really interest me.  But we shall see how many others take my fancy.  I had thirty ornaments done by Christmas 2014 which made for a fairly respectable Small Town USA themed Tree.  Anything I stitch in 2015 will be icing on the cake.
  • 05. Continue to work on UFOs and WIPs list going into 2014.   There are  seven projects remaining on this list.  I'd love to pare it down to just two or three.
  • 06. Limit stash purchases to fabric, fiber and tools needed to complete charts on hand as well as my annual Stitcher's Hideaway and some framing.  
  • 07. Continue to blog regularly, aiming for every other day.  
  • 08. Make an effort to catch up on sewing finishes and frame 2 or 3 pieces professionally.  
  • 09. Inventory and declutter existing stash.  My inventory is slowly shrinking.  I have been systematically pulling charts from stash for my one new start each month.   In 2015, I hope to work on Workbasket Quaker animals and my remaining dragon charts as my monthly new starts.  Once I have caught up with those, I will work on the remaining Halloween charts.  This should eliminate another dozen or so charts.
  • 10. Change EGA membership to cyber-stitcher.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Accounting

Over the past five years I have been keeping track of how much I have spent on this obsession of mine:

2010:     $ 630.97
2011:     $ 981.26
2012:     $ 373.97
2013:     $ 779.79

The only reason 2012 was so low was that I did not go on a Stitcher's Hideaway that year.

And now for 2014:

Charts:                                      $   0.00
Fabric:                                      $  96.80
Fibers:                                      $131.24
Charms and Beads                   $  84.72
Tools & Accessories:        $  39.29
Classes ^ Retreats:                   $450.00
Subscriptions/Books:                $  25.98
Framing:                                   $     0.00
Memberships:                           $    0.00
Shipping/Handling Fees:            $   10.39
                                                 
TOTAL FOR 2014:               $738.49


Since 2010, I have been trying to stitch almost entirely from stash.  I already have so very much in the way of charts, linen, and fiber, I really haven't much need for new purchases.  For the most part I have managed to stitch using only what I have on hand.  Though, when the opportunity presented itself to buy heavily discounted fabric and silk fiber from Chris' Collection, I did indulge quite happily.  But I didn't buy any new charts in spite of the temptations.  One of the reasons the fiber, fabric and charms figures ae so high is that I ordered the full kit to make the pin cushion doll featured in SANQ.  The chatelaine charm for that doll alone was $50.00.

So my total expenditure for the past five years has been $3,504.48 which averages out to $700.89 a year.   When added together like that, the sum is impressive.  Even in these days of interest rates of a fraction of a percentage point, this money could have been earning for my retirement.

And as I come closer and closer to retirement, I may have to rethink the amount I spend, reducing it where possible.  I don't want to give up my annual Stitcher's Hideaway but I may want to consider the less expensive Alumni retreat which doesn't involve a teacher and a class project.  I certainly want to try my hand at framing my own pieces thus saving on the cost of professional framing.  I really don't need anymore books but would be reluctant to give up my subscription to SANQ.  I certainly need to start using my very extensive fiber and linen stash more effectively.  If I implement a few of these ideas, I may reduce the spending in 2015.  But it is hard to make budget cuts when dealing with an obsession!  It remains to be seen how well I will manage.  Que sera, sera!

I wonder how my expenditure compares with that of other stitchers.   If I am to judge by some of the blogs I read, I am somewhere in the middle.  Some of the blogs I follow mention classes and workshops on an almost monthly basis while other bloggers clearly can afford neither the time nor the money for such things.  Other bloggers frequently mention new stash purchases and still others write of expensive painted canvases and the fibers to complete them, any one of which would equal my total annual budget.  And yet other bloggers comb the thrift shops for their supplies and charts.  I know one blogger who stitched free charts [offered legitimately by the designers themselves] for an entire year.  She called it her year of freebies.  So there is a very broad range of investment in the needle arts.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rotation Stitching To Date

Over the pre-Christmas weekend, it was stitcher's choice and I chose to jump around quite a bit:  I made a little bit of progress on several pieces but nothing worthy of a photograph.  All, in all, it was a very simple and relaxing weekend: just some very easy stitching while watching a marathon of an old PBS series, The Duchess of Duke Street.  In short, it was a hermitting weekend.

Then came Christmas week:

Monday, it was back to The English Band Sampler, picking up from where I frogged out the errors.   When last seen this flower was a mere outline, now it is quite filled in.  I stitched a few more curlicues around the acorns and stems.  Now, that I have relaxed and stopped stressing over when I will finish this piece, I have begun to make discernible progress again.I also spent a little time cutting all the boards for the stitched ornaments.



On Tuesday, I finished the Sage tea towel.and kitted up the Mint towel.  The pair of tea towels was meant to be a Christmas gift for my secretary, but clearly I didn't get it done in time.  She'll have to wait till little Christmas, The Feast of The Epiphany, on January 6.




Then on Wednesday it was back to stitching on the dragon with the result that page 1 of the chart is completely done but for a few beads that will just have to wait till all the stitching on page 2 is done.  I have gotten a good start on page 2: the breast plates; the scales along shoulders, neck and head; some of the fill stitching and a bit of the face are done.  Of course, that still leaves the wings, shoulder, front claws, neck and face to be completed as well as a bit more scenery.  I doubt this will be finished in 2014 but it may very well be the first 2015 finish.  I do have yet another reason to despise rayon fiber: it is the very devil to frog.  No matter how carefully one picks the stitches, the wretched stuff shreds, leaving one with a fuzzy tail useless for weaving under existing stitches.  The only option is to lay it carefully on the underside of the linen and ever so delicately stitch over it, avoiding bringing any of the fuzzy mess to the front of the linen as one pulls one's stitches.


Then on Thursday, I worked on the Mystic Smalls and finished up the cross stitching and over one stitching on the needle book.Now, all that's left is the ribbon embroidery.  I'll tackle that tomorrow, since the Sage tea towel has dropped out of the rotation.  [I have deferred the Mint Tea Towel to January's rotation.]  With luck the needle book will be my final finish in 2014.

I didn't do any rotation stitching on Friday and so have no assembly finishes to show.  I did page through some of my baby and toy charts to pick out a design for a bib and a burp towel for my great-nephew Liam who is now weighing in at 3 pounds, having gained a full pound since his birth in November.  He is off the ventilator and is strong enough to have yanked out his feeding tube.  The NICU nurses, of course, replaced it immediately.  But it's good to know that Liam is a tough little guy and a fighter.  I have decided on a train motif for the burp towel: a locomotive pulling four flat cars carrying the letters L - I - A - M and a caboose bringing up the rear.  I will probably just use the same alphabet to stitch Liam's name on the bib.

As to the weekend goal of doing some non-stitching activities, I tried a new recipe: Egg Nog Pancakes from cooking.com.  I can't call it an unqualified success.  Though my husband enjoyed them, I found them both too sweet and too heavy.  I also detected a slight metallic aftertaste but I am guessing that was due to baking powder past its prime.  I'll be putting that on the shopping list before I bake again.  While still in a cooking frame of mind, I made a tray of stuffed pasta shells.  Then I puttered about the house, decluttering a closet, reorganizing my kitchen counter space and cleaning out the refrigerator and oven.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rotation Report

Monday:  The English Band Sampler.  I had to frog all the work I had done in the center of the flower because it was all one stitch too high.    There's no photo since there was no forward progress.

Tuesday: Sage Tea Towel.  Another leaf stitched.  There is a reason this piece is being stitched just one leaf at a time.  Each leaf in this chart has eight or nine different colors.  The whole thing is an exercise in confetti stitching.  And while I love the outcome, I am not all that crazy about the process.  So one leaf at a time is all I can manage before I want to throw my floss box across the room.

I did take a little time to start crocheting a blanket for Liam since I had some more stitching time but no wish to keep going on Sage.  I had originally started a blanket in pale silver grey and winter white but realized I didn't have enough yarn for a crib-sized blanket.  And, I wasn't sure my great-nephew would be home from the NICU before he had outgrown a bassinet sized blanket.  He was born 8 weeks early and weighed in at only 2 lbs.  He has a long road ahead of him and will be spending most of his first year in a hospital.

Wednesday: The Dragon of the Summer Sky.  I am back to this piece again and will probably make it my stitcher's choice piece for the weekend as well.  I find that Dragon Dreams charts stitch up rather quickly, rayon floss not withstanding.  I'd like to have this chart done before the end of December so that I needn't add another item to my WIPs list in the sidebar.  Here's today's progress photo.  Some more back stitching, some more fill stitching and a bit more done on the bottom right.

Today, it is back to the Mystic Smalls and I hope to finish all the cross stitching and the over one stitching on the needle book.  That will leave just the specialty stitches for next week.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giveaway winners

I have contacted the winners by e-mail.  Here is the list:

Barrick Samplers' The Gilded Cage ... Vickie
Bent Creek's Acorn ...Rita E
Heart in Hands' Heart in Hand Sampler ...Beauty Bonnet
Homespun Elegance's The Stitcher ...Kim
Homespun Elegance's Witches Stitch, Too ... Joyce
The Twisted Stitcher's Pumpkin Gingham ... Joyce

The fact that Joyce won two charts is not a case of favoritism but rather the result of her being the only one to express an interest in either chart.

My next giveaway will be in January and will feature witches, giving folks 8 or 9 months to do a little Halloween stitching.  Look for the giveaway around January 3rd.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Catching Up

Since I was unable to stitch Tuesday and Wednesday, I did just a little catching up Thursday and Friday mornings: 3 hours working on The Dragon of the Summer Sky and 2 hours on the Sage tea towel.   This way most everything in the week's rotation saw a little time on the hoop, scroll bar or Q-snaps.  

Most of the remainder of Friday, was spent power napping vegetating.   But power napping sounds so much more dignified.

I made Dragon Dreams' The Dragon of The Summer Sky my weekend choice piece again and made some pretty substantial progress on it.  If you count four linen threads from the right edge of the comet, you will have located the division between page one and two of the chart.  As you can see, I am nearly done with the fill stitching of page one and have made a good start on the defining stitching of page two.  I can not even begin to express how much I detest the DMC satin floss [aka rabid rayon].  If I hadn't already used rayon floss in the companion piece, The Dragon of the Winter Moon, I would have switched it out for a silk in the same color.  The wretched stuff has a recoil, requiring a very tight tension when stitching, which slows the process down.  It's like using pulled stitches.  It also has such a high loft that each stitch obscures the linen threads immediately beside the stitch taken, making it necessary to use a thumbnail to locate the exact hole for the next stitch.  This also slows down the process considerably.  It took me a full hour to stitch just two rows of the fill stitch in the dragons' haunch.  This is the last of my Dragon Dreams charts.  And while I love Jennifer Aiken Smith's designs, I very much doubt I will miss her penchant for using rayon fibers.  I will not be using the nasty stuff again with the possible exception of using my remaining and very small stash of the stuff on Christmas ornaments.  I can manage small stints of stitching with rayon and even I will admit that it gives a nice sheen to an ornament.  But large areas like my dragon's body ... never again!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Report

Tuesday's rotation piece: the Sage tea towel.  Unfortunately, I was unable to stitch at all yesterday.  There was simply too much going on at work.

Today's piece is Dragon Dreams' The Dragon of The Summer Sky.  I made tremendous progress over the weekend but it is unlikely I will manage a single stitch today.  I started my day at 8:00 a.m. prepping for a breakfast meeting that I hosted for the Regional Catechetical group.  Following that meeting, we moved on to the Regional Christmas luncheon at a local restaurant.  That took us up to 2:00 p.m.    On the way back to the office, I picked up the 3 foot hero for the parish Catechist Christmas meeting/party.  Once back at the office I cleaned up the meeting room and set it up again for the second event and then ran out for the trimmings: more paper goods, beverages and Christmas baked goods.  Then, labelled all the catechist Christmas presents [thank the Lord, they were already wrapped] and got the meeting materials ready: the agenda and the handouts.  The party ended around 9:30 p.m.  I am way too old for 13+ hour workdays  Normally, the regional Christmas meeting/luncheon is on the 1st Wed. in December and the catechetical program is the second.  It's just my luck that the year I host the regional event, they fell on the same day.

I am really looking forward to this weekend but I fear I will be in a state of total collapse for most of it.  I still have my Christmas cleaning and decorating to do.  That was the plan anyway.  We shall see if it comes to pass.

It's that time of year: a lot going on in the parish for Advent and Christmas.  And it will only get more hectic.  Next week is the last week of classes before the break.  We start off with a Pancake Breakfast with Santa after all the Sunday Masses, the Advent Reconciliation services on Monday, classes on Tuesday and Thursday with all the usual Christmas hoopla for the younger children.   Wednesday evening is the parish dinner at the rectory.  I am exhausted just thinking about it, especially since the plan for the following weekend is to do my Christmas food shopping and cooking and baking.  Gift shopping is a breeze, at least: my adult children just want American Express gift cards and I shop for my grandchildren on the Internet and have their gifts mailed directly to them.  I expect to be worn quite thin by Christmas but hope to avoid the Bah, Humbug spirit.  Come to think of it, I have a cross stitch chart of those famous Dickensian words.  Maybe this will be the year to stitch it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rotation Progress

Wednesday's rotation piece was the last of my Dragon Dreams charts: The Dragon of the Summer Sky.

Wednesday morning, I kitted it up with the suggested fibers.  The fabric I am using is one of the bargain purchases made at Chris' Collections retirement sale, a 28ct Jobelan Blue Wing instead of the 28ct Zweidart Luguna in slate that was suggested.  The colors are quite close.  Happily, I had all of the Kreinik already in stash. One of the advantages of having a fairly extensive fiber and fabric stash is that kitting up is accomplished without the long wait for mail-order bits and pieces.  I do like being able to start a piece while the mood is upon me.

Of course most of my pre-work stitching hour was taken up by measuring, cutting and binding the edge of the fabric and gathering all the necessary fibers and beads from stash.  The result: was that very little actual stitching was done.  But, I was able to stitch for a portion of my lunch break and for a few hours after dinner, with this result.  Since I made this the stitcher's choice piece for the weekend, I was able to get a really flying start with nearly 1/3rd of the design complete.

Thursday's rotation piece was the Victoria Smalls Class Project from my first Stitcher's Hideaway, the Mystic Smalls.  I didn't have much more than an hour to stitch on Thursday, so the progress is minimal.  Still, it felt good to pick up this 8 year old class project.  For some reason, this photo isn't uploading and I haven't the time to figure out why or to take another shot.  I'll try again this evening after work.

It's been a very long while since I last worked on this project.  I haven't taken a stitch in it since February of 2013.  So, it feels fresh and new again.  I intend to spend the next months reacquainting myself with old class projects and hope, by the end of 2015, to have whittled my sidebar list down to just three or four.

I'll be taking another class with Thea Dueck in October of 2015 and I want to finish up all my previous class pieces from Victoria Sampler so that I have something appropriate to share at show and tell.  That means I'll want to finish this set of smalls, the Sturbridge Box and accompanying smalls and a Christmas  sampler.  I also have an Autumn sampler from her farm series in stash that I'd like to stitch, time permitting.  I realize this is a rather ambitious plan but I will just do as much as I can and be content with whatever progress I make.

Friday's rotation was sewing finishing.  Again, not much time was spent on stitching, so all I managed was to work a bit more on a tote using Mehitabel's Redwork Sampler as it's focal piece.  I'll post a photo of the final finish next week.

And the weekend goal of finding a life beyond the stitching chair was met by
1] visiting my mother and bringing her my annual pre-Christmas gift of a potted mini-Christmas tree.
2] sorting out some books to donate to the local public library's swap room. I'll probably ask my husband to bring them on down on his way to the Historical Society on Wednesday

As noted above, Saturday and Sunday was stitcher's choice and I worked on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.

Monday's rotation piece was The English Band Sampler: I think I am going to have to frog some of the interior of this flower.  Things aren't quite lining up.  So it's two steps forward and one step backward.

This has been a very long post, so I think I'll save Tuesday's progress photo till I've made a bit more progress.  Look for it tomorrow.  Meanwhile, don't forget to check out the sampler charts giveaway in the previous post if you haven't already done so..

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Giveaway

It's been a while since I offered a giveaway.  The last was on October 18.  I have been going through some binders where I have stored some charts I have stitched.  There really is no earthly reason to hoard these charts.  I'll never stitch them again.  I'd rather pass them on to someone who will enjoy them.  Over the next few months I will stage a few themed giveaways.

So, first, some sampler charts:
Barrick Samplers' The Gilded Cage
Bent Creek's Acorn
Heart in Hands' Heart in Hand Sampler
Homespun Elegance's The Stitcher
Homespun Elegance's Witches Stitch, Too
The Twisted Stitcher's Pumpkin Gingham

As usual, I ask that you commit to passing these charts on to another stitcher once you are done.   It has been suggested to me that I allow myself to be taken advantage of by folks who just turn around and resell the charts I give away.  I reject that notion.  My experience has been that 99% of the folks I encounter are honest.  It's the folks who feel compelled to e-mail me about the supposed sins of others that I worry about.  In any case, once I pass a chart on it really belongs to the recipient to do with as he/she pleases.  Do I wish the recipients pass them on?  Certainly, but I choose not to worry about that which I can not control.

Leave a comment if you wish to participate.  You may put in requests for more than one chart and improve your chances of receiving something.  If clicking on your user name won't bring me to a profile that includes your e-mail address, include it in your post.  

Good luck to all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I must have second sight

In September, I wrote

I am determined to complete this sampler this month.  Yes, I know I have said the very same thing every month since January but this time I really mean it.  Of course, if I end up failing to finish this month, I will "really mean it" when I say I'll finish in October.  Oh, the lies I tell myself about my ability to stretch time!  

I had hoped to be done by now but clearly, as you can see, I am not.  Close, but as my husband says, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."  Such a charming sentiment.    I have reached the point where I imagine I will still be working on this project when I am 90.   I have a recurring stitching nightmare in which I see my family tucking the sampler into my coffin so that I can take just a few more stitches as I wait in line for my final judgment at St. Peter's gate.  

I began this sampler with such giddy optimism that I actually stitched "2012" in the line with my name.  How mortifying to have to frog out the 2 and replace it with a 4, or perhaps a 5.   Or maybe I'll just find a way to squeeze a tiny 2014 or 2015 into the bottom right corner of the last band as a reminder of the length of time spent on the project.
Ah, well, here is a photo of my Monday rotation progress.  It may not look like much has been done since I last posted about it here but I have done four Rhodes Squares, finished the center curlicues on the bottom left and top right, finished frogging the spiral border and the bottom border as needed, re-stitched the bottom border, and stitched another two flowers on the right.   I think that is pretty good progress for just one day's stitching: an hour before work, half an hour on my lunch break and a two hours while watching TV in the evening.
The first photo is of Band 7 in its entirety.


The second photo is a close up of the right side of the band, so you can see a little more detail.  I am enjoying this sampler again.  I haven't stitched on it in a little over two months.  It would seem that this piece is rather overwhelming, at least for me.  I need long breaks from it to maintain enthusiasm.







The Tuesday rotation piece is a pair of tea towels from Cross My Heart's A Sampling of Herbs leaflet.  I got a nice start this morning on the first one, Sage, as seen in this photo.  There is a lot of confetti stitching in these charts and I am not entirely crazy about that aspect of them.  [ The two overlapping leaves, small as they are, have 14 different shades of DMC in them. ]  But they do stitch up quite prettily as you can see here and here on the last pair I stitched.  Well worth the effort though I do believe I will be passing this chart on after this pair.  I don't think I'll be stitching any more of these herbs charts.  They are just a little too fussy and finicky for me.  I have some other herbal charts that were designed specifically for Huck towels that I will be using for the next pair I stitch.


  



Monday, December 1, 2014

Assessing November Goals, Setting December Goals


NOVEMBER GOALS: I mentioned an odd slump in a post midway through the month, one in which I only wanted to stitch the most brainlessly simple pieces.  It had its effect on November progress.
Christmas Gifts: Stitch a pair of tea towels, using the charts for Mint and Sage.  No.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking. No.
UFO/Class Project:  Finally finish The English Band Sampler and then pick up work on The Mystic Smalls projects.  No. though I did do a little work on the sampler.
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop or The Knit Shop.  I stitched The Pet Store, Flocking To Knit and The Fishmonger's Shop.
New Start:  Start The Dragon of the Summer Sky.   This will be my last Dragon Dreams chart from stash, making the 6th chart of Jennifer's [not counting many, many freebies] that I have stitched.  The next series that I will work on will be Workbasket's Quaker Animals.  I have quite a few of those in stash.  No.  Instead, I stitched a much smaller piece, the Prairie Schooler November ornament [Turkey] from the  Year Round leaflet.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.  I want to concentrate on gift totes and wall hangings this month.   If I catch up on the totes and wall hangings, I'll move on to throw pillows.  It all depends on how long my mood for finishing lasts.  I got a real rush last month as I watched the finishes stack up.

DECEMBER GOALS:  Follow through on the plans for a rotation.
Monday: The English Band Sampler
Tuesday: Mint & Sage tea towels.
Wednesday: The Dragon of the Summer Sky
Thursday: Mystic Smalls
Friday: Sewing Finishes
Saturday & Sunday: get out of the stitching chair and do a wide variety of things: walk, exercise, antique, reorganize, put the garden to bed for the winter, feed and observe the backyard birds, read, visit friends and relatives, try a new restaurant, experiment with the recipes I have been downloading, host a high tea ... whatever.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Another Small Finish or Two



The Fish Market in the Town Square series stitched up slightly more quickly than the others: started Sunday afternoon and finished Friday morning.  That's a little under a week and quicker progress than I had made on the last few Town Square pieces.






And, in keeping with my SSD [Seasonal Stitching Disorder], I immediately started the Prairie Schooler Year Round for November, a Thanksgiving Turkey.  I think I'll make stitching one Prairie Schooler Year Round in the appropriate month a 2015 goal thus adding to my seasonal ornament collection in a disciplined and consistent fashion.

Starting Monday, Dec. 1st, I am returning to a rotation system in an effort to accomplish a bit more than I have done in the past few months.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish all a Happy Thanksgiving.  And, in the spirit of the day, I would like to offer this small Grace before Meals as a thought for the day.

Lord, to all who have hunger, give bread.
And to all who have bread, give the hunger for justice.
Amen.

The above is from the US Catholic Conference of Bishop's Prayers for Peace and Justice

Monday, November 24, 2014

Finally, A Small Finish

Here is Flocking to Knit, stitched to completion Sunday morning.  It turned out I wasn't able to use the buttons from JABCo as they were far too large for this piece.  It was a simple project, just a little more time-consuming than I expected.  It's all those solidly stitched blocks of color.  I began the piece on November 13 and finished on November 23.  So, yes, it took 10 days to stitch a piece that is less than 5 inches square.

I immediately started the Fish Market.  I am hoping to knock this one out in just a few days since it is a little less dense than the wool shop.  Once finished, it will make the 12th Town Square ornament stitched this year and the 30th in the series that I have stitched.  There are only 12 more left in the series: that's one for each month in 2015 ... if I choose to stitch them all.  There are three that don't really interest me.  But it's nice to know that at least one of my 2014 goals will have been totally and completely met.  Though, now that I think of it, I met another annual goal by stitching four heart ornaments this year.  The remaining goals fall into two categories: 1] goals on which I have made some progress though not as much as I might have wished and 2] goals on which I have made little or no progress.

I am hoping to have time to stitch the Prairie Schooler Year Round ornaments for November and October over the holidays as well.  And then it will be back to serious stitching, a rotation plan and renewed energy and enthusiasm [at least. I hope so].

Thursday, November 20, 2014

And a bit more progress

It's hard to get excited about the limited amount of progress I have made on Flocking to Knit, the wool shop in the Town Square series.  But even minimal progress is still progress.  I am continually surprised at how much time and how many stitches actually go into these very small but intricately detailed little charts.  After stitching nearly 30 of the durn things, I should be accustomed to the process but no, I still expect to whip them out in a day or two.  I have this mindset that they are small and, because they are small, should take just a few hours to stitch.  

And yet, I am really not interested in any more exciting or challenging stitching.  I am in a rut and hope to pull myself out of it soon.  Bland seems to be my flavor of the month and I wonder how long it will continue to be so.  I expect it is because things are so tense and pressured at work that I need to dumb down the rest of my life. 

And speaking of dumbing down: I find I am watching way too much Grey's Anatomy on the Roku box.  The characters on the show are caricatures of themselves.  Add in the stilted political correctness of the scripts and one has to wonder if there is a formula stating there must be at least 6 incidents of recreational sex, 5 lesbian kisses/embraces, 4 references to single motherhood, 3 plot points involving post-traumatic stress disorder, 2 patients with bizarre issues, and 1 ever so ethnically and gender-ly balanced staff per episode to prove how very broadminded and liberated we all are.  And yet I am totally hooked on the series.  I must be losing an IQ point a minute.  Before my husband bought the Roku box, I had spent the last 20 or so years happily oblivious to network television programming.   And now, I have been sucked back into the maelstrom of mediocrity.  And I am liking it.  I am so ashamed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some Progress

Very little stitching went on this weekend.  Saturday was cold but sunny, a good day for putzing about, running errands, doing housework, etc.  But I was so tired I just spent most of the day cuddled under a blanket on the couch.  The weather was so gloomy on Sunday that my mood followed suit.  After Mass, I spent the better part of the day watching old Grey's Anatomy episodes on the Roku box.   Pathetic, I know, but I am not sleeping very well these days, just managing four hour snatches at a time and having weird disconnected dreams.  And then on Monday I managed about an hour's stitching before work and another after I got home.  

Here's a photo of Flocking To Knit.  I am still at the large blocks of color stage: walls, roof, door and sign.  The roof needs another five rows and then the sign and the door need to be filled in.  The interesting part comes later with the detailing that distinguishes it from the other buildings in the series.  As luck would have it, I have the buttons required in stash: three small balls of wool from JABCo.  They will add a nice touch to the finished piece.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ignoring History and Doomed To Repeat It

The latest SANQ arrived yesterday and the cover feature is a three part band sampler called The Collared Stag Sampler.  I took one look at it and I fell in love with it.  I am still working my way through The English Band Sampler and I am already planning what linen to use for this next sampler.  I may have to have my head examined.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shake It Up

I find myself in a very odd sort of slump.  I only want to do easy stitching lately, hence the concentration on Town Square ornaments.  Normally, I become bored with stitching that doesn't involve some complex specialty stitching or some intricate design [a la Teresa Wentzler] or some other such challenge.  It's as though I have entered the stitcher's equivalent of senility, incapable of doing anything beyond the most basic of projects.

I am blaming the slump on The English Band Sampler.  And, so, I will use the rest of November to purge my stitching persona of all the toxic effects of the months of endless eyelets on Band 6 [July & August], the weeks of stitching/frogging/stitching/frogging of that damnable double helix border in Band 7 [September] and the days on end of cowardly avoidance [October].  Just simple smalls for the remainder of this month.  Then, I will rise again, as my former stitcherly self, like a phoenix from its ashes.  That's the theory, anyway, a sort of purging and restoring.

So, here's the plan: starting on Monday, December 1st, I will resurrect the notion of rotation:
Monday: The English Band Sampler
Tuesday: Piper's stocking
Wednesday: The Dragon of the Summer Sky
Thursday: Mystic Smalls
Friday: Sewing Finishes
Saturday & Sunday: get out of the stitching chair and do a wide variety of things: walk, exercise, antique, reorganize, put the garden to bed for the winter, feed and observe the backyard birds, read, visit friends and relatives, try a new restaurant, experiment with the recipes I have been downloading, host a high tea ... whatever.

It is high time to shake up my life a bit and what better time than during the holiday season.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Not Where I Thought I Was

I thought I would take care of at least one annual goal before this month was out: finishing up my 12th Town Square ornament for the year.  So, as soon as I finished the Pet Store, I moved on to Flocking to Knit.  It doesn't hurt that this chart is another straight forward and relatively simple one to stitch.  That does seem to be all I am willing to capable of tackling at this juncture.

But, just on impulse, I counted the Town Square finishes in my sidebar.  Lo and behold, the knitting shop is not the 12th ornament of the year.  It is merely the 11th.  I will have to come up with one more chart to meet the annual goal. I'll make it another simple one like the general store or the fishmonger's shop.  Here insert many muttered imprecations and much gnashing of teeth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back from Retreat

The retreat was phenomenal, the presenter extraordinary, the topic the Upper Room.  The retreat was so good that i was too tired at the end of each day to do more than a row or two of stitching.


I realize, like every stitcher, I over packed but even allowing for that, I did way less than expected.  When I left, the Town Square Pet Store looked like this.  And all I managed to stitch while on retreat was the grey wall below the cat's window and half the grey wall below the dog's window.







Today, it is done but only because I did the rest yesterday evening and this morning before work.  I have started on the knitting shop, Flocking to Knit.  This will finish up my annual goal of stitching one Town Square ornament a month in 2014, bringing me to a grand total of 28 of these charts stitched over the past three years.  Please forgive the wonky photo, I didn't take the time to iron the linen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Goal Nearly Met

Since one week of November has already flown by with very little done on the stitching front, I thought I would start working on one of my simpler and more achievable goals for the month.  So here is a photo of the progress on my Town Square ornament of the month: The Pet Store.  I very deliberately chose to work on a simple chart because I want a quick finish.  I may stitch the Knit Shop, Flocking to Knit,  as well this month and finish up this goal for the year.  That way I will save the more elaborate Sandi's Sweet Shop for 2015.  It calls for quite a bit of DMC and the smaller floss bobbin cases I have for WIPs are both full: one with the floss for The English Band Sampler and the other with the floss for Piper's stocking.  I will wait till I free up one of those cases before kitting up the sweet shop.

I'll be on a religious retreat for a few days and I plan on bringing The English Band Sampler, the two Town Square pieces and the Prairie Schooler November round ornaments to work on in the quiet moments before bed time or to keep my hands busy when listening to lectures.  I'll be saving the simple fill stitching of the Pet Store and Flocking to Knit for the later.  I may also bring my nephew's blanket to crochet on the trip up and the trip back.  Again, I am focusing on easy pieces with lots of mindless repetition for the most part.  The only challenging piece I am taking is the sampler.  I am taking far more with me than I have any hope of finishing but then again, I certainly wouldn't want to run out of work.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Found Some Fall And Thanksgiving Pieces

I found some more Fall and Thanksgiving pieces though not the ones I was looking for.  I apparently have more than I realized.  Most of these were stitched a decade ago, so forgive me if I can't do more than guess at the provenance of some of them.  Added later the same day: If you read the comments section, you will see that Anna, from the Stitch Bitch blog, has identified three of the charts with doubtful provenance.  That leaves only the very first photo definitively and properly labeled.


I believe this is an LHN complimentary chart.  I stitched it on gingham linen using over-dyed cotton fibers.  Added 11/17/14:  Thanks to Trinabelle,  I can now identify this as Autumn Spots by The Trilogy.









This is a Prairie Schooler piece.  The leaflet included two other charts: a companion piece to this one with a Halloween motif centered around a witch on a broomstick and a harvest season scene complete with covered bridge, a farmer's wagon filled with pumpkins, a village street and some very colorful trees.  I have stitched the harvest scene as the top section of a round robin, now completed, but not yet turned into a wall hanging.  I have yet to stitch the Halloween piece.




This is one of the Shepherd's Bush  word series: this one being, of course, Leaf, stitched in the recommended overdyed cottons and using the buttons in the accessory pack. 









I can not recall the designer of this piece though it looks similar to the style of Cedar Springs charts I have done.  But it might be a Bent Creek piece.  I really cannot remember.  Added later: Thanks to Anna, [see comments] I now know this is a Bent Creek piece.






This is another free chart that I stitched a small scrap of gingham linen and, yet again, I cannot recall the designer.  Added later: Again, thanks to Anna, I now know this is Twisted Threads Pumpkin Gingham.  It is a purchased chart and not a free one, after all.








This a mini sampler from The Twisted Thread, framed in the recommended tin star frame.











Here is a shot of one of the still missing pieces.  I am going to have to tear the place apart looking for it.  It irks me that I can't find it.  This is The Blackbird Sampler by Bent Creek








And here is a photo of the other AWOL piece.  I am rather fond of both of them and I will obsess over these two pieces till I find them.  This was another free chart and may have come from Plum Street Samplers.  Added later: Thanks to Anna who left a comment identifying this as a San Man freebie, Shared Letters.




Well, there you have it!   The first six photos show pieces scattered about my townhouse and the last two photos show the pieces I can't find.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Not Much Stitching Going On

Work has been particularly busy lately.  Lots of evening meetings:  Parent meetings for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation, Safer Spaces classes for catechists and CYO coaches, Parish team meetings about upcoming Christmas liturgies, the Parish Advisory Committee meeting.  My evening leisure time has been virtually non-existent.

This bodes ill for meeting monthly goals in November.  However, there is still some hope.  The Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving Day holidays will replace some of the lost stitching time.  I am committed to a work-related event for the morning and early afternoon of Veteran's Day but by 3pm I can call the day my own.  We are going to a restaurant for Thanksgiving with my husband's sister and cousin and with our youngest son, so I won't be tied to my stove during the earlier part of the day ... more stitching time.  I'd really like to get some more finishing done as well.  As the year comes to an end, I want to whittle down my annual goals a bit more.

On the Town Square project: The Gourmet Shop was done on November 1 though it was my October entry in this series.  I won't be doing the assembly finish on this till I do two more Town Square charts on the same piece of linen ... at which point I will have five Town Square ornaments and one Prairie Schooler  and one By the Bay ornament on that cloth to assemble and finish.  I guess that will be my finishing for December or January.  If you have the chart, you will note that I stitched the middle window to the right of the door differently than intended by the designer.  I am determined to stitch this series from stash, buying more blue linen only as needed.  I am substituting fibers and changing colorways  and designing stitching to replace charms and buttons to be able to work from stash for all the rest.  In this case, I didn't have a whisk charm to hang in the window so I stitched some cheeses like the ones I see in my favorite Italian Foods Import store.

And here is one in progress photo of the November entry, the Town Square Pet Shop, a simple project chosen precisely because it can be picked up easily and put down easily: no complicated specialty stitches, no complex design features, just straightforward cross-stitching with a relatively limited palette demanding little substitution.  I am missing only three of the charted WDW fibers and have been able to find substitutes in my overdyed cotton stash:  WDW Pebble to GAST Pebble, WDW Collards to Crescent Colors Spinach, WDW Kohl to GAST Soot.

I want a quick finish under my belt by the end of the second week of November.  At least that will give the illusion of sticking to my goals.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time for the Thanksgiving Tree

Here is a shot of my Thanksgiving Tree.  I usually switch out the Halloween ornaments for Thanksgiving ones on Election Day.  But due to camera issues, I have been delayed.  While I don't have quite as many Thanksgiving and Autumn ornaments as I do Halloween ones, this tree is still a pretty full one with 15 ornaments in all.  The Halloween Tree has 21 ornaments, many of which are twice the size of these, giving a fuller appearance.




I have a few wall hangings for this holiday and for the Autumn season though I haven't made any throw pillows with a Thanksgiving theme.

My favorite is this Liz Turner Diehl sampler complete with beading and specialty stitching.  It replaces my Halloween poem wall hanging in the living room.  I am particularly pleased with the hardware I found for this: the finials are acorns.








The other is a vintage Silver Needle Secret Needle Night banner.  I use this to decorate my office at school.  The children seem to like it.  It was designed by Mona Best.

I also have two lovely little Fall framed pieces that I set up on easels on the bookcase shelf and on my entry table.  But apparently, I put them away so carefully last year that I can't find them this year.  I will, of course, continue to look but for the life of me, I don't know where they can be.  [You can see one of the easels in the shot of the Thanksgiving tree above, sadly empty, waiting till I find the proper piece for it.]


And, of course I have my Homespun Elegance Sheepish designs, also displayed on my bookcase.  The idea is to change out the "blanket" each month with another appropriate seasonal design.

And, because I'd like the Fall/Thanksgiving tree to grow to be as full as the Halloween entry, I have stitched another fall ornament, the Stitch an Inch Acorn, a free chart from By the Bay Needlearts.  I ignored the charted colorway since the designer identified the WDW fibers by number.  Mine are filled alphabetically by name since that is the way most designers identify them.  I hadn't the patience to go through my rather extensive WDW stash in search of the numbers.  Instead I used the colorway for the acorns from Band 7 of The English Band Sampler: DMC 3722, 3011, 3012, 3013.  And since I stitched this over 2 on 32ct linen instead of over 1 on 28ct linen, my ornament is 1 3/4" square rather than 1" square.  I'll finish this as a small pillow ornament and hang it at the back of the tree to fill in the empty spaces.  I have to say I think the acorns look more like sadly diseased strawberries than acorns and those leaves look nothing like oak leaves.  Can you tell this is not my favorite ornament for the Fall season?  It looked better in the model photo.  I probably should have gone searching for those WDW fibers, after all!

I try to add an ornament a year to each of my trees, until I manage to fill all the little hooks on the wrought iron tree.  It pleases me to stitch a small ornament chart for each season as it rolls around.  It keeps me in a celebratory mood.  Since this one was a bit of a disappointment, I may try to stitch another Thanksgiving ornament during the month, probably one from the Prairie Schooler chart with round ornaments for every month of the year.

In addition, each year I tend to concentrate on a particularly bare seasonal tree and stitch three or four ornaments for the selected season.  In 2014, I worked on hearts for my anniversary & Valentine's Day tree.  In 2015, I will be working on Easter ornaments.  Here's where the Better Homes and Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Designs comes in quite handy.  It has pages and pages of small seasonal designs.  The only thing I dislike about the charts is that they are done in little blocks of color instead of in black & white symbols.  It takes a bit of deciphering since some colors are so close to others.  But that is a minor irritation; on the whole, the book is a great resource.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Your regular scheduled blog has been interrupted because of technical difficulties.  For some reason my computer has stopped reading my camera's memory stick and I am unable to download and post pictures.  I sincerely hope this can be resolved without the purchase of a new digital camera.  I don't do well with change and am not fluent in manualese.  It takes me forever to learn how to use a new gadget.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Halloween Tree

Here's a shot of this year's Halloween tree.  Every year it looks a little more full.  I added two more ornaments in 2014: the Monsterbubbles' Day of the Dead skull and The BOO ornament whose designer I forget at the moment.  All I remember is that it was a free chart.  This brings the number of stitched ornaments up to 19.  This particular tree is one of my husband's favorite seasonal decorations. 

I also have rather full trees for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a moderately full tree for our Jan. 10th wedding anniversary through Valentine's Day [all hearts] season and for the patriotic holidays [Memorial Day - Flag Day- July 4th] and a rather skimpy tree for Spring and Easter.  I still need to work on  a St. Patrick's Day Tree for March, some more Easter ornaments for the Spring tree and some beach and boat ornaments for a mid-July to August tree as well as some ornaments for a Back-to-School tree In September.  Then I'll have the whole year covered.

I enjoy decorating for the various holiday seasons and have a variety of wall hangings and throw pillows to display as well as some easel framed stand-ups and flat fold stand ups.



Here's a shot of my Halloween pillows, nestled in a corner of the distressed paint bench in my entry hall.  One is Glory Bee's Flying Monkeys and the other is Heart in Hands Halloween Tall Bird.  I don't have any stand-ups for this particular holiday yer.  Though I do have the wonderful Hat in a Cat waiting to be finished as a weighted doorstop.





But I do have two wall hangings:


One that I "designed" myself combining a motif from a Prairie Schooler border and a pumpkin/cat motif from Homespun Elegance to embellish an old-fashioned primary school poem about Halloween.  The alphabet I used is of my own devising, loosely based on my handwriting.  On the shelf above the pegs are two of my folk art carvings of ravens.  The taller one is a pretty straightforward bit of carving but the second raven is a rather funky bird, wearing high top sneakers and sunglasses.  I love them both.  This display is in my living room, in the narrow space between the back door and a window.




The second shot is a close-up of the stitched piece itself.  I found the poem in an ancient, and I do mean ancient, circa 1950 school library book and thought it would make a lovely little wall hanging.













The second mini wall hanging is hung in my kitchen, a Primitive Needle piece: a companion to the tall skinny witch on my Halloween tree.