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.

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.