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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Assessing October Goals/ Setting November Goals

October was a much better month for finishing than for stitching.  The Stitcher's Hideaway Kindred Spirits retreat early in the month was the scene of most of the stitching.   In fact, with the exception of The Gourmet Shop from the Town Square series, what little stitching I did throughout the rest of the month was all related one way or another to the Stitcher's Hideaway.  I stitched the Brightneedle bonus chart of a scissor fob,  Sue Donnelly's complimentary Kindred Spirits pin pillow and the Victoria Sampler Maine heart which was one of the giveaways at the retreat.

Christmas Gifts: Stitch a pair of tea towels, using the charts for Mint and Sage.  I didn't get to this.   My finishing frenzy ate up quite a bit of stitching time.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking.   No progress.   Again, finishing took precedence this month.
UFO/Class Project:  Finish The English Band Sampler and pick up work on The Mystic Smalls projects. Still languishing sadly.  
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Gourmet Shop.  Done.
New Start:  Start work on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.  Most of the new starts were related to the retreat: Brightneedle's Kindred Spirits Stitching Journal was started, the bonus kit of a scissor fob was completed and Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits pin pillow was done.   But I have yet to finish the first page of the stitching journal.  The dragon is deferred to November.  Oddly enough, I stitched The Dragon of the Winter Moon during the summer and will by stitching The Dragon of the Summer Sky in the winter.  I tend to mix things up that way.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.  I finally got around to doing some sewing and assembly finishes completing a grand total of  25 1/2  this month.  I guess I am making up for all the months when I did no finishing at all.
Pin Pillows:  Primitive Needle's By the Light of the Moon, Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons, Sue Donelly's Kindred Spirits.
Scissor Fobs: Brightneedle's bonus class kit
Ornaments:  9 Town Square ornaments, 2 Halloween ornaments, 4 Heart ornaments, 6 Trilogy Spring ornaments
Totes:  Pineberry Lane's Mehitabel's Redwork Sampler needs handles and a lining.  Almost done but not quite there yet.

NOVEMBER GOALS: With the Veteran's Day holiday and the Thanksgiving Day holiday making for a few more days off than usual this month, I expect to have some extra stitching time.  With any luck, I'll be able to extend the finishing frenzy and still catch up with the usual stitching rotation.
Christmas Gifts: Stitch a pair of tea towels, using the charts for Mint and Sage.
Current BAP:  Work on Piper's stocking.
UFO/Class Project:  Finally finish The English Band Sampler and then pick up work on The Mystic Smalls projects. 
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop or The Knit 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.
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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Random Tuesday

It was rather busy at work yesterday.  I found myself putting in extra hours.  And it promises to be just as busy today and I'll be heading into work a few hours earlier than usual.  So there is not much stitching or finishing to show.  But, here are a few photos.

Further progress on Indy 2006 Town Square Series' The Gourmet Shop by Twisted Thread.  Since I am stitching this series from stash, I made a few slight modifications regarding my thread palette.  The walls of the first story were supposed to be WDW Beige, which I did not have on hand.  I substituted the WDW Cocoa which was supposed to be the roof color and carried the WDW Chestnut up from the second story to the roof.  I tend to think a roof should be darker than the walls of a building anyway.  I also regularized the widths of the windows.  As charted the second window from the right was one stitch narrower than the others.  I prefer symmetry which is also why I will be stitching two chimneys equidistant from the roof's edges rather than the one off-center chimney that was charted.  Right now this doesn't look much like a gourmet shop but the signage and the window displays will soon change that.  Once complete, this shop will be one of the more distinctive buildings in the series.

Here are the materials for the sewing finish for Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits, kitted up and ready to work on tomorrow.  I found this lovely bit of lace with just the right shade of ribbon in the trim stash  my mother gave me when her eyesight started failing.  A trick of the light shows the ribbon as two toned.  But it is actually entirely the darker color.

And, I finally packed up all my Mystic giveaways last night.  My husband will be taking them to the post office today.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some Actual Cross Stitching Again

I am guessing you are all nearly as tired of finish photos as I am of finishing.  I need to do something with a needle in hand that involves something a little more complicated than whip stitching.  Even so, here are a few more shots of finished ornaments and smalls

two more heart ornaments:

Aury's 2013 Quaker Heart


Victoria Sampler Maine Heart

and I trimmed two more pin pillows

Primitive Needle's By the Light of the Moon

and  Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons

But I also squeezed in a bit more stitching on Sue Donnelly's Pin Pillow.  I added the border using the deep red and the tarnished gold from the fabric Sue included in the kit.  I happen to like borders.  They serve as great guides for the presser foot when doing  the sewing finish, producing a nice straight seam.  They also serve as an excuse to add some specialty stitching, in this case: over one cross stitch, herringbone stitch and square Rhodes stitch.

And I prepped some blue fabric for the two Town Square ornaments that I need to do to meet this month's goals.  And, as you can see, when I have filled this piece of linen I will have six more ornament assembly finishes to add to my to-do pile.  This is why I never seem to catch up.

Once I had prepped the fabric, I went on to stitch another Town Square chart to meet my monthly goal.  See below.

The Town Square chart I had intended to stitch this month was The Sweet Shop by The Sweetheart Tree but it is far too detailed a chart to kit up and finish up in the time remaining this month.  So I have switched it with my November goal, The Gourmet Shop by Twisted Threads, which is a much simpler chart.  I will have a much better chance of completing this chart before month's end thereby meeting the goal of one Town Square ornament a month.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Flashing Back

While reading another blogger's post, I came across this link 

I am not sure if this is a case of making gold out of dross or a silk purse from a pig's ear or just a case of making a statement.  But it did bring back a lot of unpleasant memories of walking the gauntlet from the subway station to my 7th avenue office in Manhattan in the late 60s and early 70s.  Of course, the worst catcall was one made not by the usual suspects, i.e.: construction workers.  It was made by one very well dressed 30 something man to his friend while walking up the subway steps and leering at me as I walked down: "How'd you like to wake up to a taste of that every morning?"  They were right in my face, no chain link fence separating us, without even the dubious excuse of hard hat culture to explain the attempt to debase and degrade an unknown woman.  I never wore the dress I wore that day again ... even though my mother had made the dress.  And how bad can a dress made by a woman for her 16 year old daughter be?  That I remember the encounter vividly 48 years later says something.

Now, seeing many of the standard cat calls made up into cheery little samplers,  I realize the artist is making a statement: using the innocence of the sampler to emphasize the invasiveness and crudity of the catcall.  The contrast between the medium and the message is as dramatic as a gut punch and leaves me feeling just as queasy, as I believe it ought.  

I wonder how many men, viewing these same samplers, get the message and feel even a modicum of shame.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Still Not Finished With Finishing

Here's a photo of what I managed to finish yesterday at lunch break and after work.

The last three Trilogy Spring ornaments.  The first is a butterfly approaching a flower made of heart shaped buttons, the second shows some very stylized flowers and the last is a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day.

The Kindred Spirits Bonus chart.  Ann suggested that we finish it either as a pin pillow or a scissor fob.  I decided to do both.  This little pillow filled with ground walnut shells makes an excellent pin pillow and is just weighty enough to serve as a fob as well.  I am not sure I am going to leave it on this pair of scissors, though.  The greens clash.  The handles are actually a bright kelly green.  I have no idea how the indoor light managed to soften such a bright color to one that actually matches the stitching.

I still have two more heart ornaments and two more pin pillows to trim before I catch up to the smalls finishing.  And then there are all those totes, a wall hanging and a few more pin pillows to sew.   And that's just the stuff on the dining room table.  Forget the laundry basket in what I laughingly call my stitching center which is currently over run by the boxes of stuff my husband brought home from the office when he was downsized nearly two years ago.  I sometimes fear I will never catch up: not with the finishing or with the clearing out of junk!.

I will admit, though, that I am itching  to do a little more cross stitching.  If I am to come close to meeting my monthly goals, I really do need to return to my current projects.  And, as a full blown Type A Personality, I certainly want to meet a few more of those goals!

So my plan for today: finish work on Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits Pin Pillow ... because I really need another pin pillow sewing finish to add to the finishing basket, right???  And then pick up The English Band Sampler tomorrow and for the remainder of the month.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Am Looking For a Giveaway Winner ...

... who won Esmeralda's House by Brightneedle in my recent Mystic Giveaway.  I was unable to find an e-mail address on her profile nor was I able to leave a comment on her blog Fairies and French Knots.  I couldn't find a Post a Comment button and clicking on the existing comments didn't bring up an open comment box.

If Erin reads this, I would ask her to e-mail me with her street address.  My e-mail is on my profile.  I would love to send Erin the chart but I do need to know where it is going.

I will be e-mailing the other winners today and hope to have everything in the mail by the weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And a Bit More Finishing

Here's a photo of the ornaments I trimmed yesterday and today before work.

They are: 

Les Grilles d'Elise Lotte's Coeur finished as a wedding anniversary ornament, Peggy Bowe's Columbus Day ornament

The Trilogy's Spring Spots.

I am taking three more Trilogy Spring ornaments to work and hope to finish them during the lunch hour.  Two have the cord pinned in place and one needs to be assembled and trimmed.

   These last three Trilogy  ornaments are the last in that series.  I'll finish them off with beaded hang tags this evening.

     Then I'll just have the last two heart ornaments to finish before  moving on to other types of finishes.

I still have three smalls ready for trimming.  Once I am done with them, I'll be ready to move on to the totes.  I am energized by the crisp Autumn weather.  It makes me want to get things DONE.  Here's hoping this mood lasts till I get to the bottom of the laundry basket that overflows with my sewing and assembly finishing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Not Quite the Weekend I Had Hoped

I never get as much done over the weekend as I hope to do.  I had expected to finish assembling and trimming all my accumulated ornaments and make three pin pillows and get started on the assembly line process of stitching up five gift totes.

Here's what I actually managed to do:

Assemble and trim nine Town Square ornaments.  I have been trying to stitch one a month this year and these are my January through September ornaments.  I have yet to start the October ornament and may not get it this month.

Then I assembled and trimmed two Halloween ornaments.  I haven't gotten out my Halloween decorations yet.  I usually have them up in the first week of October.  But when I finally get around to it, these two ornaments will be added to the tree.

I trimmed one of the heart ornaments.  The other three are in various stages of completion: one assembled with the cord trim pinned in place, one assembled but trim yet to be made and one not yet assembled.

The rest of the ornaments and smalls are in various states of near-completion:
**The Columbus Day ornament is assembled and the cord is pinned in place.
**I have made the cord for six more ornaments: the Trilogy's Spring series.  
**I also made the cord for the Kindred Spirits scissor fob but have yet to stitch it in place.
** I have pulled the chenille for trimming two pin pillows: Primitive Needle's Halloween Night and Dragon Dreams' Here Be Dragons.

But the Tansy, Yarrow and Rue smalls are still waiting to be assembled into pin pillows, the larger sampler is not yet a wall hanging.  The three Halloween pieces are still sitting on the dining room table, not yet sewn into Trick or Treat bags, The two Easter pieces await the selection of coordinating fabrics so that they may also become gift totes.  As to the Dragon Dreams' Compass Rose Dragon, I am not even sure how I want to finish it.  I am thinking either a bell pull or a flat fold stand up.

On the positive side of the ledger: I have completely finished 12 ornaments, am close to finishing four more and am ready to trim three more smalls.

On the negative side of the ledger: five would-be totes, three pin pillows, a wall hanging and a mystery finish still languish on the ironing board or dining room table. 

That's 12 down and 17 to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mystic Giveaway Winners

They are:

Victoria Sampler's: Maine Heart:   Mary

GPA Stocking #1 Cottage:  Laura

S & S Acorn Tin Topper:  Dian

S & S Snowflake Tin Topper: Laura

Beary Merry Christmas:  No takers

Stitching Friends: Melody

Brightneedle's Esmerelda's House:  Erin

Homespun Elegance Pumpkin: Melody.

Thank you for participating.  I'll be e-mailing you all shortly to ask for mailing addresses.  I am so glad these great charts are going to people who will enjoy them

Friday, October 17, 2014

More Assembly Line Finishing

Here are a few more ornaments that are done except for the trimming with hand made cording..  First are five more Town Square ornament finishes.

And then, this little pillow ornament finish with a beaded hanger.

It's been really satisfying to focus on finishing these past few days.  I still have the totes to work on: three for Halloween, two for Easter and one for all-occasion gifting.    And then there are the Tansy, Yarrow and Rue pin pillows [one for each herb] and the larger sampler that I need to turn into a wall hanging or throw pillow.  And the Dragon Dreams' Compass Rose Dragon, probably to be finished as another throw pillow.  I'll work on the Halloween totes first since I want to send them to my grandchildren on the West coast to use as Trick or Treat bags.  I will, of course, fill them with a few treats first: some spooky-funny books and a few novelty Halloween toys or T-shirts.  This will go a little more than a third of the way towards catching up with the sewing and assembly finishing.  If possible, I'd like to be caught up by year's end with all finishing but the "to be framed" projects and the Quaker animal pieces I intend to assemble into a quilt once I have enough of them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Some More Assembly Line Finishing

I have gotten a few more pieces finished to the point of trimming with cording: a couple of heart ornaments and a Monsterbubbles Halloween ornament.  I have shown a swatch of the backing fabric beneath each ornament

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday's Work

I don't have to go in to work till one today since I have evening meetings till nine.  So I spent the morning catching up on some assembly finishing.

Four more town square ornaments and one Halloween ornament are now ready for cording.  I still have another ten ornaments to assemble, a tote that needs handles and a lining, and four more more projects that need to be made into totes.  And that is just to catch up to the finishing that is sitting on the ironing board.  

The Town Square ornaments are all backed with a navy fabric with white polka dots.  And the Halloween ornament is backed with a great fabric in gold, black and purple swirls.   I hope to continue work on the finishing tomorrow morning before work and foresee a marathon session of cord-making over the weekend.  With any luck, I shall have fifteen ornaments and five totes done by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Progress Report

Sue Donnelly's Kindred Spirits Pin Pillow: I made sure I zig zaged the edges of this piece since I wanted to work on it this past weekend and then couldn't put it down.  It was just the right sort of stitching to take along on the trip to Boston for my nephew's wedding.  Simple, easy to pick up and set aside again without losing one's place or momentum.  In short, perfect for a week of socializing with a large family.  I decided to create a border for this project and when finishing it up will embellish the pillow with some lovely ecru crocheted lace.

Brightneedle's Kindred Spirits Bonus Kit: I finished the stitching on this and assembled it right away as a fob.  I just have to decide whether I will use chenille or cording to trim it.  I have the perfect scissor for it, one of those very tiny pairs with green handles.  The blade is less than an inch in length.

Some sewing finishes:  While I was in the mood for sewing finishes, I did a few more:

A Halloween freebie

Here Be Dragons

My Grand Nephew's Blanket:  As you may remember, I had to rip this back having lost the crochet needle.  I started over last night when I was simply too tired to stitch.

I was off for Columbus Day and had every intention of stitching the whole day.  Reality, in the form of exhaustion, put paid to that idea.  Two weekends in a row spent traveling long hours in the car can be very wearing.  After attending my nephew's wedding this weekend and socializing with my family [which is the size of a small African country], I needed a day of rest and solitude.  Incidentally, that's three weddings down and two more to come in the next year and two more the following year.  I am getting to be quite the old crank about weddings.  I love every one of my 16 nieces and nephews and I wish them all the joy in the world.  But, as weddings fill my calendar with the inexorability of falling dominoes,  I find myself wishing that it would become the rage to have string quartets play at wedding receptions rather than rock bands or deejays.  A little Mozart, please.  And a lot less of that throbbing bass that thrums in one's very bone marrow.  At the last wedding, we were able to duck out early because my 85 year old mother was weary of the noise and we volunteered to take her home.  No such luck this time around since we had to travel to the Boston area and were all staying at the same hotel where the wedding was held.  But I have offered to bribe Mom with big bucks to repeat the request at all future local weddings. Unfortunately, the next wedding will be out on Long Island, another hotel affair, though this one will be on the beach.  It is getting hard to watch my mother's heart break with each wedding held in a hotel "chapel" rather than a Catholic church but even her priest advises her to err on the side of grand-maternal love.  And I keep telling her that I believe God is at lot less rigid than humanity when it comes to "the rules".  However, she comes from a generation when Catholics were taught that they could not attend non-Catholic services at all and it pains her deeply to see her grand children discarding a faith that means so much to her..

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Another Stitching Meme: Are you a stitching snob?

Every now and then I get the urge to interview other stitchers on a variety of topics, if for no other reason than to see how far beyond the realm of reason I have strayed.  Recently, on a board I had frequented, I was labelled an "elitist".  Now, I am okay with that.  Push comes to shove, I'd far rather be called an elitist than a moron.  But it has started me wondering.  Am I a stitching snob?  I know I am a tea snob and I have heard it said that I am an intellectual snob ... usually when I am being finicky about grammar, historical accuracy or the quality of television programming.  But I have been pretty careful not to betray my stitching biases on boards and in chat rooms, especially those with large memberships in which you will find every level of skill and taste..

So here goes, a few questions to determine whether one is a stitching snob:

1. Do you subscribe to SANQ and read it cover to cover? [n.b.: a true snob does not need a translation of the acronym].  Yes, I do.  I have even stitched several designs from its pages.
[Give yourself 5 points if you subscribe and read cover to cover, 3 points if you subscribe, 1 if you know what SANQ stands for but don't subscribe, and 0 if you neither subscribe nor know what SANQ stands for.]

2. Do you own books about the history of the needle arts, reference books on special stitches and/or sampler motifs, ethnic stitching traditions, etc.?  How many books are in your library?  Yes.  At least 2 dozen or more.
[Give yourself 1 point for every book in your library]

3. Do you belong to ANG or EGA?  EGA
[Give yourself 5 points for each organization you belong to.]

4. Do you prefer to stitch on Aida or evenweave or linen?  I prefer linen but have used evenweave.  I rarely use Aida.
[Give yourself 5 points for linen, 3 points for evenweave and 1 point for Aida]

5. If linen, do you prefer 28 ct, 32 ct, 36 ct or 40 ct?  I usually stitch on 32 and 36 ct but I have some 28 and 40ct in stash.
[Give yourself the following points for linen you have in stash: 5 points 40 ct, 4  for 36 ct, 3 for 32 ct and 1 for 28ct.  This could add up quite nicely if you have linen in a variety of counts]

6. Do you prefer to stitch over one or over two?  I'll do either just as happily.
[Give yourself 5 points for over one and 3 points for over two or 6 points if you do both.]

7. Have you ever stitched on 60 ct gauze?  Yes.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

8. Do you own a laying tool?  Yes.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

9. Do you use your laying tool?  Rarely.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

10. Do you prefer to stitch with DMC/Anchor cotton, overdyed cottons, silks or overdyed silks?  I'll stitch with any and every fiber but I adore silk.
[Give yourself 5 points for silks of any kind, 3 points for over dyed cotton, 1 point for DMC/Anchor]

11. Have you ever used exotic fibers like bamboo, velvet, leather, silk ribbon, wool/silk blends or other specialty fibers?  Yes, I love using all sorts of fibers and specialty floss.
[Give yourself 5 points you own 10 or more different specialty fibers and 3 points if you own 9 or less, and 0 points if you don't own any]

12. Do you know how to railroad your stitches?  Yes.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

13. Do you have a private list of designers you think are terminally cute and to be avoided like the plague?  Most definitely.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

14. Do terms like "diagonal Queen stitch", "Rhodes Heart stitches" and the like fall trippingly off your tongue? Yes, I enjoy doing complex and interesting stitches.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

15. Do you design some of your own projects?  Yes.  I have designed about a dozen of my own projects over the past few years.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

16. Do you gravitate toward designers like Teresa Wentzler, Miribilia, Ink Circles, Whispered in the Wind or other purveyors of the big and complex charts?  One can never have too many Teresa Wentzler projects on the go.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

17. Do you turn pale when confronted with a chart that has more than 4 pages of graph and even more pages of accompanying instructions?  No.
[Give yourself 5 points for No and 0 points for Yes.]

18. Do you distinguish between projects that are heirloom quality and stuff that you've stitched for fun or for seasonal decorating?  Absolutely, not everything I stitch is meant to be passed down through the generations with awe and reverence.  Some of it is for fun in the here and now.  Not everything has to be high art.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

19. Do you use a stitching stand?  Yes, for some of my larger projects.
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

20. Do you stitch two handed?  When I am using a floor model stitching stand, I do.  But not when using lap stands and table stands.  It just doesn't seem comfortable.                     
[Give yourself 5 points for Yes and 0 points for No.]

100+ to 85:  You are certainly a serious and experienced stitcher.  There may be a hint of snobbery in there though most reasonable folk would call it justifiable pride!
84 to 65:  You are a competent stitcher with a fairly broad frame of reference and probably eager to learn more about this fascinating craft.  But not yet a snob.
64 to 45:  You are no longer a novice.
44 and less: You haven't yet had the time or the opportunity to explore all the facets of this wonderful craft..

Well, there you have it.  Just a few questions about topics that seem to be touchstones in determining, at least for some, elitism or snobbery or whatever as it relates to stitching.  So, are you a stitching snob?  If you'd like to leave a comment with your score, I'd enjoy seeing the range.

My score: 117.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Giveaway reminder

Just popping in with a brief reminder about my current giveaway of 8 brand new, never used charts.  Scroll down to the Oct. 6 post for more details and to leave a comment to participate.  Or click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Final Mystic Post

Every Stitcher's Hideaway features an exchange and a Show and Tell Night.  These are both very popular features as one gets to know quite a bit about the fellow participants by looking at their work and listening to their stories .  I will start with the Exchange since that took place on the first night.

Only five people participated in the exchange this time around: Sarah who made a knitted little mouse with red braids, dressed like a late 19th century school girl, just like Anne; Sue who made a miniature needle roll; Chris who made a somewhat larger needle roll; the lovely lady who made the tin I came home with and myself.  I made a pin pillow with a friendship theme: two houses connected by a path.  You can see it in the lower right. Chris got the pillow and seemed pleased with it.

I was delighted with what I drew: this gorgeous little Altoid tin completely covered and converted to a marking pin keep made by a lady who sat at one of the middle tables.  While I don't know her name [it might be Linda], I know her stitching from previous retreats and it is very fine as is her finishing.

I also want to show a photo of the interior of this exquisitely finished little stitching accessory.

Normally, I take a lot of photos of Show and Tell but this year I was too wrapped up in the doing to remember to do any recording.  I suppose that is a good thing and a true measure of just how much I enjoyed myself.  I am not one of those people who takes a picture of every Kodak moment that comes along, anyway.  I have to make a conscious effort to take photographs. As a responsible blogger, I usually do manage to make the effort to document a special event such as a retreat.  Just not this time.    I am sure Sue, who is much better with a camera than I, will have loads of pictures up on the Stitcher's Hideaway website soon.  I refer you here ... just give it a little time.  Sue also collects photos and comments from the participants, so it takes a little while for her to write what she calls Fun Reports.

Finally, here is a photograph of Sue Donnelly's own design, a Kindred Spirits pin pillow.  One of the nicer bonuses of attending one of Sue's retreats is the little kit she always gives us commemorating the theme of that retreat.  She clearly spends a lot of time searching out just the right materials to express her ideas.  The charts are usually straightforward and simple, stitching up quickly, resulting in the immediate gratification of a lovely souvenir.  This is especially pleasing since the class projects tend to be complex and take time to complete [in my case, sometimes years to complete].  It feels good to have something tangible to remind one of the retreat.

And an update on my small Kindred Spirits project,  I didn't have very much time to stitch yesterday but I did manage to get a little further than I had planned.  I hope to finish the stitching today and assemble it as well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kindred Spirits Project

Here is the only photo I took of the class, and clearly not of the whole class, just of the few stalwart folk who were determined to squeeze in a bit more stitching while the rest of the group lingered over lunch or shopped in Chris' hastily set up bedroom/shop.

Ann & Liz designed this little stitching journal around the Anne of Green Gables series.  The themes are friendship, kindred spirits and simplicity.  All of these concepts are to be found in the the beloved books by L. M. Montgomery.

Ann generously allowed us to photograph the stitched models of individual pages so that we would have a reference for our stitching at home.  The charts are a bit of a challenge for the habitual cross stitcher since they are charted as if for needlepoint.  It's a small adjustment remembering each box represents a single thread rather than a cross over two threads.  This makes the scale over one rather than the more usual over two.  Otherwise the directions are reasonably clear, even the directions for assembling and finishing the little journal.  That's an area where many charts fall short.  But, happily, this one does not.  As for the design itself: with a full page chart devoted to each page of the journal, placement of motifs is fairly clear.  The kit includes fabric, floss, needles and swatches of faux-faded cotton print quilting fabrics for all the extras: pin cushion, scissor pocket, etc.  One of the best pages of the entire packet is the page with all the specialty stitches clearly graphed out.  There are a number of stitches I have never done before: the tied wheat stitch, the Wessex flower, the Welsh Star & the Pistil stitch.  I foresee problems with the Pistil stitch since it involves a Colonial knot.  I can do French knots but I have never mastered the Colonial knot.  The stitch graph page is one that I can foresee consulting long after this project is complete and when I am designing my own samplers or smalls.   As a bonus, Ann provided another small chart using similar motifs and the same palette.  The accessory chart can be stitched over one or two and may be finished as a small pin pillow or as a scissor fob.  Like the main project, the colors are soft and old fashioned yellows, yellow greens, corals and pinks.  They remind me of the print house dresses  that might have been worn by homemakers just before WWII.  The overall feeling of the entire project is one of nostalgia.

Here are my photographs of the stitched models of the individual pages.

The Cover Page: this is the page where we all made our mistakes.  I stitched my 8 back-stitched page outlines first while cunningly listening to all the moans and groans of those who dove right in to stitching this first page.  Thus I learned from their mistakes.   I was able to consult the pioneers about proper placement of the first tied wheat stitch in the inner border and the length of the  tied herringbone stitch at the beginning and end of each leg of that border.  That is not to say I made no mistakes of my own.  I had to pull out the left side leg of the herringbone border because of a counting error.  Happily, I hadn't yet gone back and tied the herringbones, saving me some rather fussy frogging.  Another strategy gleaned from eavesdropping on those who dove right in: verify the correct placement before going back and tieing down the stitches.

This meant to be the back cover and space has been left for stitching initials and a date and or place.

A small fabric pocket will be placed within the stitched border.  It will hold the small paper needle book included with the kit.

A small gusseted pocket will be placed within the stitched border.  It is meant to hold a little glass vial of tiny buttons or button cards or a small spool of thread or all of the above.

A small pin cushion will be centered within the stitched border.  It will be made up as a log cabin quilt block from the fabrics included in the kit.  It will be further secured with a button right through the center.  Ann even provided the wool roving to stuff the pin cushion

This is the sampler page  Of the whole booklet, it is the only page meant to be stitched over two.

I regret that I can not show the remaining two pages.  Someone else in the class must have been using them for reference when I took the photos and I forgot to go after them later.

And now for a few photos of my own progress on these pieces:  It took me the first day and the better part of the morning of the second day to stitch the back stitched border of all eight pages.  It was not a particularly stimulating way to start off the class.  But I know myself well enough to know that if I had just stitched one outline and then started on the main design of that one page ... well that might become the only page ever stitched.

Having stitched all the outlines, I am going to feel compelled to complete each and every one.  And I am less likely to get bogged down by the fiddly counting required throughout most of the project or abandon the piece at the first mistake.As you can see, I am working the border first and am almost done with the final leg of herringbone stitches.  I do have to go back and tie the last leg and then do six tiny eyelets in the same red in the lower corners.  Then it is on to the large flower bands at the top and bottom of the page.  I'll be devoting much of my weekend to this project.

I also started the accessory piece and got the border stitched Sunday night while keeping my husband company as he watched TV.  I really wanted to have all the bits and pieces of this project "on the go" so I would be motivated to finish them all.  I stitched the OC of OCT last night after work and hope to stitch the T and get started on the Roman numerals for 2014 before work today.

And, finally, here is a photo of my Maine heart, stitched in the car on the way home.  These Victoria Sampler charts are the work of just a few hours and always teach a new specialty stitch, in this case: the diagonal Queen stitch.  I recommend them highly.  It is my hope to eventually have an ornament for every state that my husband and I have visited or in which we have lived or in which our children have lived.  I still need to stitch Washington, California, Vermont, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and Minnesota.