Friday, February 27, 2015

Rotation Report

It is time again to report on my February rotation, if I can call it that.  I really spent the beginning of this short month concentrating on the Tuesday Smalls and on Workbasket's Quaker Owl to the exclusion of the other pieces in the rotation.

Monday: Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  I have finally pulled this out of the UFO pile, with only two days left in the month in which it was supposed to be the major focus of the rotation.  But better late than never.  Some small progress has been made.  The way this is going to play out is alternating rows of Flower, Bud, Bud, Flower and Bud, Flower, Flower, Bud.  I am finding it slow going because of the unwieldiness of the very large Q-snap frame.  I am going to have to get my floor stand out so I don't have to hold it.  Stitching two handed will be much quicker, if only my Q snap will fit in the clamps of the floor stand.

Tuesday: Smalls. PS Year Round [done], M Design's Name Tree for Sean [restarted, frogged and restarted yet again. all because of a knot on the back.  Both S's are done and I have started on the first E.  I'd say I have made a good start on this piece], Town Square series Sandi's Sweet Shoppe [kitted but not started], Mint Tea Towel [done, see Tuesday's post for photo].

Wednesday: Work basket's Quaker Animals.  Owl [done], Bat.
Thursday: Class Piece.   Victoria Sampler Mystic Smalls Biscornu/Tuffet.  Once completed, resume work on Victoria Sampler's Sturbridge Box. I didn't get to any of this so will be deferring it to the March goals list.
Friday: Sewing Finishes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Finish and a Few Re-Starts

Here's my third February finish. the Mint Tea Towel.  Paired with the sage towel, the gift is now complete.  It is a joy to wrap this up in ribbon and pass it on to my secretary.  Firts because I know she'll like it and second because I am so very done with this piece.

I pulled the M Design's Name Tree for Sean out of the WIP basket and got about a 1/2 hour of stitching time on the project.  I am using an old Needle Necessities floss on it, #150, a lovely forest green/rose and cream color way that makes one think of  a Victorian Christmas.  The linen is a very soft sage color and I am stitching over one.  It is really a very pleasant stitch.  I can't imagine why I let it languish so long.

Finally, with less than one week left in the February Rotation, I have actually worked this piece into the schedule.  I had been putting it off because I just didn't feel like fussing with the sewing machine to bind the edges and because I dislike using Q-snaps.  But a large Q-snap frame is the only thing I own that allows me to frame an entire block for stitching.  One advantage of working with this project is that it provides me with a lap robe on these very chilly days, making for some very cozy stitching.  For the past three years, I have aimed at finishing this afghan in time for my mother's April birthday or failing that, for Mother's Day.  Perhaps this is the year I will meet the goal.  In any case, I will give it my best shot.

I will concentrate on this piece for the remainder of the week.  I will keep track of the time it takes to stitch the two different squares that make up the afghan: the flower and the bud.  Once I know how long each motif takes to stitch I will e able to estimate the hours of stitching needed to meet my deadline.  I haven't stitched enough on the afghan or the name tree to make it worthwhile to take a progress photo, but I am hoping that will change as the week progresses.

I pulled all the floss for the Town Square series Sandi's Sweet Shop but will have to hunt about for the proper blue linen.  So that project will be deferred till March.  It's just nice to know that I have all the floss ready to go once I find my linen. I think I have a bit of the Meditation linen I bought from Stitchery Row left in my stash.  But if not, I do have the two pieces of linen I bought from Chris' Collection.  It's just a matter of rooting about in the stash to find the best option.

P.S.: The Workbasket Quaker Animal Charts Giveaway is still open.  Just scroll back to the 2/21 post and leave a comment if you wish to enter.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jury Duty

I really lucked out with my jury duty this cycle.  Not only did I get assigned to a local Justice Court just a 15 minute commute from my home but ... the two cases on the docket were settled without coming to trial.  The entire jury pool was excused for the week with no further obligation for two years.  It could have been much worse.  The Federal District Court is in Manhattan which would have been a two hour commute in the best of times but far worse in this brutal winter weather.  This is the second time I have been called that the cases were settled before an actual trial.  The next time I am called, I will be retired and will have the time to serve without worrying about work being left undone back at the office.  Maybe I will actually get to serve on an interesting trial.

The Mint Tea Towel was supposed to be done in January, but a finish in February is still a possibility.  Once completed and paired with the Sage Tea Towel, this is a gift for my secretary.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, it has become a tedious chore and one I am anxious to complete.  I find the confetti and fractional stitching to be less than appealing.  That's odd really, since I don't mind such things when stitching a Teresa Wentzler piece.  But the again, maybe it's not so odd.  A finished TW is a work of art.  This finish will be just a moderately interesting botanical stitched on a useful but rather mundane huck towel.  But if I really concentrate on it, a few more days' stitching should result in a finish.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Workbasket Quaker Charts Giveaway

I thought it was about time to pass these charts on.  Anyone wishing to see my version of these patterns has only to scroll down a few posts to the Gallery Post earlier this week.  You may request more than one chart.  Indeed, I had originally thought of offering to give the whole collection to just one winner but I doubt anyone would want all of them.  I do have a few more Workbasket Quaker Animals in my stash, still to be stitched, so there will be another Quaker giveaway in a few more months.  But for now, these are the charts on offer:

Quaker Sampler
Quaker Cat and Mouse
Quaker Cow and Sheep
Quaker Pig and Rooster 
Quaker Rabbit and Turtle
Quaker Frog, Swan and House

All I ask is that the winners pass these charts forward once they have stitched them.  Obviously this is an unenforceable request, relying on the honor among stitchers.  My purpose is to spread the joy of stitching in this rather difficult economy and I hope the winners will share my goal.

I will draw winners on March 10.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Another Finish and some WIPs.

Here is a photo of the finished Workbasket Quaker Owl.  I think it looks rather nice, especially when you consider that I ended up using three different dye lots of GAST Maple Syrup in the stitching of it: a dark dye lot for the outline [head, wings & claws], a medium dyelot for the eyes, and a light dye lot for the chest.  March's Quaker beast will be a bat and I have three cards of GAST Black Crow set aside for that project.

I am still plugging away at the Mint tea towel.  It has become something of a chore as I have lost my taste for the piece.  But it is part of a pair of towels intended as a gift and I really want it off my conscience.  I lost my way a bit at the top of the large leaf on the lower right, so I counted from my last solid reference point and stitched in the rest of the stem as my new reference point.  I'll be stitching the remaining leaves and flowers from there and when I stitch back down to the place where I lost my way, I will readjust the pattern to make it all come out sensibly.  Readjust sounds so much better than fudge, doesn't it.  It's all the confetti and fractional stitching that got to me as I attempted to stitch two leaves at once so I wouldn't have to change the thread in my needle so often.  I have learned my lesson: one leaf at a time and one row at a time.  It's the only way to keep everything in sync.

I have picked up the name tree for my son Sean again, abandoned over a decade ago when I noticed a small miscount.  Since frogging over one stitching is so very tedious, I set it aside for "just a little while".  Well, you can see how that worked out.  I started this ornament while he was still engaged.  He will be married 11 years in May and has three children ranging in age from seven down to two.  Now that I look at it carefully, I must have decided not to frog and to stitch the second S as a mirror image of the first, mistake included, and then just continue from there.  So, apparently, there's lots of readjusting going on with my current stitching.  Some weeks are like that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mail Call

Isn't this the greatest t-shirt ever?  And some days, it expresses my mood perfectly.  The lack of stitching during my recent and still lingering bout of flu has sorely tried my patience but I haven't actually choked anyone yet.

The shirt is a RAK from the proprietress of Knowledge and Needles and I am ashamed to admit that, though I received it nearly a month ago, I have only managed to send a proper thank you note today.  I am afraid I have let flu keep me from performing the necessary courtesies due from a civilized person.

The lettering looks yellow in this photo but is actually white and the blue is more of a bright navy rather than the purplish royal blue seen here.

Speaking of necessary courtesies, I finally managed to get my act together and package all but one of the January giveaways, and even a long over due December giveaway, and some gifts I need to send to family and friends.  I'll see about getting to the post office tomorrow.   I still need an address for the remaining January giveaway and will be sending off an e-mail requesting it later on today.  The flu and its lingering after effects have really put a crimp in my schedule.  At the best of times, I tend to procrastinate but this month has been ridiculous.

And speaking of procrastination, I have started at last to make some long overdue appointments.  One of the amazing delights of being 60-something is the annual ritual of trudging from primary care physician to half a dozen specialists [endocrinologist, podiatrist, cardiologist, opthamologist, dermatologist, ob-gyn] and a bunch of labs and clinics for all sorts of blood letting and scanning of various body parts.   I'll be making the rounds between now and the end of March.  Oh, joy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Musings

With President's Day giving me an extra day of leisure this week, I have had some more stitching and reading time.

I finished up J.D. Robb's Obsession in Death.  I have read the In Death series from the very beginning.  This last entry was not the best in the series but it did have some amusing vignettes.  My favorite being the brief scene in which the none too maternal heroine, Dallas, ends up holding a bauble coveting toddler, Bella, who stakes a claim to Dallas' diamond pendant.  I also began Monica Ferris' Darned If You Do.  The Ferris book is  much lighter fare than the Robb book but both rely on the appeal of an ensemble of characters.  Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery novels tend to be my escapist reading.  All of this light reading has been needed to compensate for the serious research I have been doing for the Family Catechesis program on the Via Dolorosa, the Stations of the Cross and it's origin in pilgrimage.

The temperatures have continued to hover in the single digits or low teens with wind chill factors making it feel anywhere from 6 to 20 below 0.  I have been hermitting all weekend, amusing myself with stitching, reading and a Babylon 5 DVD marathon with occasional excursions into housekeeping.  I will be glad when Spring finally makes its appearance.  I find I feel the cold more intensely as I grow older.  Suddenly, long underwear doesn't seem a ludicrous vestige of a long ago past prior to central heating.  It seems a quite practical solution to problems here and now!

On the stitching front, I have made considerable progress on Workbasket's Quaker Owl.  You can clearly see the difference in the dye lots of GAST Maple Syrup used for the Quaker motifs that make up the chest and for the more solid stitching that makes up the head, wings and claws.  I had hoped to have enough of the lighter toned dye lot for the eyes as well but I will have to go with a third dye lot from my stash.  I'd forgotten just how much fiber these Workbasket animals eat up.  In future I shall have to make sure I have at least two skeins, possibly three, on hand before I start a piece from the series.  I guess fiber purchases will play a big part in the 2015 budget.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

A very Happy Valentine's Day to you all.  The above piece commemorates the day I married the love of my life.  It seems an appropriate photograph for the day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gallery Post - Bookmarks

My other ruling passion is reading.  And I have made myself and others many bookmarks over the years.  Unfortunately, I didn't always take photos.  But here are just a few that I did photograph.

Celtic Knot Bookmark: stitched on a scrap of mystery linen using some old Needle Necessities variegated floss.  I am very fond of Celtic motifs since I am of Irish descent.  And I liked the soft colors of this Needle Necessities fiber, moving from cream to sage to a very muted mauve.  As with most of my bookmarks, this one is lined with a very soft piece of cream flannel from an old bed sheet.  Waste not, want not!  Or to be more politically correct, reduce - reuse- recycle.

My own design: Riona's Bookshelf bookmark: stitched on a scrap of mystery linen with odds and ends of leftover floss.  I have stitched variations of this design many times: it is a great way to use up leftover bits of fiber and fabric.  I frequently pair it with a gift card to Barnes and Noble as a gift for birthdays or Christmas.  It's always fun to change it up a bit, changing the knick-knacks and bric a brac on the shelves, using different colors on the book spines.  This one has a spider plant, a geode, a kitten and an art glass bottle as well as books.

Handblessings Autumn Leaves Bookmark.  This is a very old free chart and was fun to stitch in variegated flosses.  The border is reminiscent of Celtic motifs, which made it a must-stitch piece for me.

Another Handblessings Autumn bookmark: also a free chart.  A much less complex one, since it is just leaves stitched in a simple repeat.  

My own design: Sampler bookmark.  It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but I used a series of different specialty stitches to make up this pattern and the same Needle Necessities fiber as in the Celtic Bookmark.

Shamrock Bookmark:  This was a kit from Textile Heritage Collection.  It was a bit of a fussy piece since there were seven different shades of green involved, with very subtle variations.  Separating the flosses and matching them up to the proper symbols was a bit of a challenge.

I have stitched any number of other bookmarks over the years but have given so many of them away without recording them.  I plan to rectify that in the future.  There are a few that I fully intend to stitch again for myself, like a lovely tapestry style bookmark from Cedar Hill, the Acanthus and Rose bookmark, which I gave to a former secretary and three dragon bookmarks designed by Vickey Macky which were lost in an exchange gone bad.  I also have a number that I intend to stitch for a first time: T Wentzler's Renaissance Bookmark, Pamela Kellogg's Flowers and Berries and Grapes bookmarks.  And somewhere, tucked away in one of my many books, is a Puffin bookmark, also from the Textile Heritage Collection, also never photographed.

I collect interesting bookmark patterns, whether the source be on-line freebies, magazines or purchased leaflets or pdfs.    I find that bookmarks are a useful way to use up narrow scraps of linen and partial skeins or cards of interesting fibers thereby delighting my frugal soul.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

First Report On An Entirely New Rotation

Although I haven't blogged much lately, I have been doing some stitching.  Nothing terribly ambitious though, between the lingering after effects of the flu and the adjustment to changes in my diabetes medication regimen, I have been experiencing dizzy spells and headaches.  I thought it best to stick to simple stitched projects.

BAP Monday:  The Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  I was in no mood for stitching in the early part of the last week.  And as for yesterday, I was still stitching simple stuff and didn't have the patience to take this large and bulky project to the sewing machine to bind the edges which tend to fray with continued handling.  Another reason I am avoiding the piece is that the only tool that seems to hold it taut for stitching is a fairly large Q-snap frame.  I am not a fan of Q-snaps, finding them very unwieldy.  I need patience to deal with them.  Headaches and dizzy spells are not particularly conducive to patience.

Smalls Tuesday: M Designs' Sean's Name Tree ornament, PS Year Round: February  and, time permitting, start Town Square Sandi's Sweet  Shop.  I was able to stitch on one of the simpler pieces in the rotation and actually managed to finish the Prairie Schooler Year Round for February, for my first stitching finish of the month.  I substituted Belle Soie Cinnamon Stick, Fern Frond and Sister Scarlet for the recommended DMC.  I used Belle Soie on the January piece as well and shall continue to substitute Belle Soie for DMC as I go through the year. I used the same 40ct raw linen for February as I did for January.  I have a large enough piece of this linen to stitch all twelve pieces.  I haven't decided whether I shall finish the series as door hangers, ornaments or flat fold stand ups.  

Theme Wednesday: Workbasket's Quaker Owl.  I bound the edges of the fabric and kitted this piece up and worked on the project for several days running.  It is a rather simple piece, stitched on the relatively  large count linen, and in only one floss ... just my speed as I adapt to a new medication regimen and continue to recover from the flu.  The fabric is a 28ct natural flax colored linen and I am using GAST Maple Syrup instead of the recommended Belle Soie Mud Pie.  I am using one dye lot of Maple Syrup for the fairly solid head, wings and claws and another dye lot for the Quaker motifs that make up the breast and eyes.  For some reason I have quite a few partial cards of Maple Syrup in my stash but none from matching dye lots.  This division seems the best way to use what I have and still have an aesthetically pleasing finish.   I am stitching from stash as much as possible again this year, so substitutions like this one will be the norm.  And since Belle Soie is a discontinued line, sold to a new owner and renamed, I figure I may as well use it up since I will never be able to get exact replacements.  It is a shame really, since I was very fond of the stuff.

Class Piece Thursday: Victoria Sampler's Sturbridge Box.  I haven't pulled this out yet.  As I mentioned above, I am concentrating on the simple stuff for the time being.

Finishing Friday:  I hope to do an assembly line day sometime this month, finishing all the ornaments I have on hand.