Friday, September 26, 2008

A True Sampler, the Sequel

I have been working on the Spots of Fun SAL again. As I said in my post of August 31 [A True Sampler], I am using this project to play with fibers. I am rediscovering just why I love some old favorites like the Caron, WDW & GAST lines and am discovering some new-to-me fibers that I know I'll be adding to my stash in great depth like the Belle Soie and Thread Gatherer collections. I am also making a list of moderately priced workhorse type threads that are to specialty threads what DMC is to cotton floss, like the Rainbow Gallery and Kreinik products. There'll be no picture today because I need to do some frogging. I have two skeins of WDW Sedona which prove dramatically how diverse dyelots can be: one skein shades from golden browns>gold>golden yellow and the other shades from purplish browns>maroon>coral. Since I have used both color ways in this piece I thought it would be interesting to do a motif in each of the Sedonas. Well, it simply didn't work ... on this particular fabric, the second Sedona, with its preponderance of the purplish brown, becomes a garish muddy purple and a very unpleasant pink. And, of course, I chose one of the larger motifs for this floss: the bunch of grapes. Once I pick it all out, I'll re-stitch in Belle Soie Buttercup silk.

So, to reporting on a few more fibers.

--Belle Soie Silks [Colors: Pumpkin Carriage, Lasagna, Buttercup, Carrot Cake] These are exquisite silks, easy to strand, with a lovely soft sheen, rich colors and a high loft on the fabric. And a delight to stitch ... no snagging or knotting ... and, even though I never had to dangle my needle when using an 18" double ply strand, the silk continued to lay beautifully and neatly.

--Caron Waterlilies: a 12 ply silk that remains one of my favorite silks with which to stitch. It strands easily, stitches smoothly and lays beautifully. I love the range of overdye colors ... a great palette ... and reasonably easy to find and order on line and through my nearest LNS.

--Caron Wildflowers: a very fine cotton perle overdye, one strand beautifully covers 28ct and up stitching over two. This floss picks up light a little differently than smooth flosses and adds interest and texture to the piece. And, again, the palette of colors is extensive.

--Catherine Jordan Cotton Overdyes Comparable to WDW amd GAST in quality. Generally speaking, Catherine Jordan's palette tends toward the more muted and subdued tones of soft vegetal dyes. I don't know whether these are commercially available as I came by mine at a CATS class taught by Ms. Jordan.

--Kreinik Silk Moire: This silk feels a little coarse in my hand. It's not one I would use again.

--Rainbow Gallery Fuzzy Stuff: A fussy thread that requires patience, care and a short length ... but is oh so much fun once stitched ... it adds texture, weight and catches the light differently than any other thread on the sampler ... it was a joy to use for a small motif in Spots of Fun but I am not sure I would have the patience to stitch larger areas of hair or animal fur with this fiber in other designs ... not unless I were using a much lower thread count fabric like a 10 ct tula.

--Rainbow Gallery Mandarin Floss: I wrote about all the reasons I love this floss in my August 3 post.

--Rainbow Gallery Splendor A perfectly acceptable silk, less expensive than Thread Gatherer, Caron, Belle Soie and other "carriage trade" silks. Wide range of colors. Relatively easy to stitch with though the needle should be dangled frequently to avoid twisting and to ensure a proper laying of the silk on the fabric. A good choice when price is a consideration.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One year and one month

I have been reading quite a bit about blogaversaries lately ... and became curious as to when I should be celebrating my own. So I checked to see when I first posted. And, you guessed it, I have missed my own blogaversary which was August 24. I have been blogging for a little over one year now. I have come up with a sort of belated celebratory contest ... contests do seem to be the usual manner of marking the day.

My contest will be open to other bloggers in the US and Canada. As to the prize: a number of kind visitors to this blog have commented favorably on the Peace pinkeep pictured in my post of September 15. The theme of this contest is blog names. Please tell me the name [and address] of your blog and why you chose that name: its significance or background. If you wish to know why I chose the somewhat odd name for my blog, please go to my very first post. Post your comment at the end of this entry and I shall select the winner early next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And the winner is ...

Erynne of Be-stitched. I have e-mailed her at her g-mail address with a request for a snail mail address and will send the Glissen ColorWash silk floss [color: Tobacco] to her as soon as I receive an address. I enjoyed her post because of her conversational tone. One of the reasons I blog is that I am a lone stitcher without a nearby LNS to provide a stitching circle or network ... so making stitching friends on the Internet is a very great pleasure. I feel I have come to know Erynne through her very lively and interesting blog and through her comments on my blog.
I do believe I will try to have a monthly Fiber Give-Away ... I have been trying all sorts of new and different fibers lately and I guess I am on a mission to enable others and broaden their horizons by sharing my discoveries.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photos: Another Finish /Secret Sister and Halloween Exchanges

La-D-Da's Smell My Feet turned out well ... I switched out the colors in the stockings to work with the flat braid in turquoise and yellow that I had in my stash. At least, I choose to believe the green called for in the original design was the color of stockings and not skin. Where did this whole green-skinned witch thing come from? All the witches I know are lovely women with perfectly normal complexions and great fashion sense. Since I didn't have any Needlepoint Silks but plenty of other fibers in my treasure chests, I used WDW Mascara for the shoes, spider and border, WDW Charcoal for the lettering and DMC 725 and 3845 for the yellow and turquoise, respectively.

I sent my Halloween exchange out on Wednesday, so it should be safe to post this picture ... though I doubt my exchange partner even is aware of my blog. I have sent her The Sweetheart Tree's Pumpkin on Gingham ornament from the latest JCS issue and a few Treats that I hope she enjoys: A Dritz Keepsake Needle Card, the Halloween Pack from Dress It Up, JABCo crow and crescent moon buttons, WDW Perle Pumpkin, and some overdyed cottons, CC Dulce de Leche, Ozark Sampler Grab Bag and a Threadworx purple. I enjoyed putting this little package together and the ornament was just intricate enough to be an interesting stitch though still a quick one. I also need to send out my reveal card today for my Secret Sister from the 123 stitch exchange ... I think I'll include a few skeins of Kreinik silk moire with that exchange along with the bookmark I stitched earlier this month. And for the next round of the SS exchange, I do believe I'll send out some very pretty Olde Willow linen floss. I have been very lucky in my exchanges this year, people send such lovely things and though I seldom end up sending to the same person who sends to me [the Halloween exchange being the exception], I do want to reciprocate in kind. Jeanne, my Secret Sister in this latest round, has been phenomenal ... I received her reveal card Wednesday afternoon and it included two lovely DMC #5 perles in rich greens. She has really spoiled me this round: a lovely gift package, great flosses, a birthday gift and now more floss in her reveal card. I sincerely hope the Secret Sisters I send to are as pleased with my selections as I have been with what I have been sent.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Giveaway: 1 card of Glissen Gloss Color Wash silk Tobacco

Since I have been working on my SAL Spots of Fun and using many different fibers, I have discovered [and re-discovered] a few that I will definitely be making part of my regular palette. One of the re-discoveries is Glissen Gloss Color Wash silk, a "hand painted Japanese silk", as per manufacturer's description. I first used it in a Liz Turner Diehl class project at CATS a few years ago and liked it quite a lot. But then, I never saw it in stores or catalogs, so it dropped off my radar screen. Well, the Spots of Fun sampler SAL got me actively searching for a wide variety of fibers to use and, lo and behold, I found the Color Wash silks right under my very nose at I placed an order for several colors I thought would work on my sampler but you know how deceptive screen colors can be. The upshot of it all is that one of the shades I ordered, Tobacco, doesn't quite work. Rather than file it away for some future as yet undreamed of project, I'd like to share it ... just as I did the Rainbow Gallery Mandarin floss.
So anyone living in the US or Canada who wants to be considered for this small giveaway, please scroll down through the previous two posts and view the finished Halloween ornaments, use the comments section to say which one you liked best and why, and I will choose my favorite response as the winner of the silk. I'll make a decision on Sunday and put the floss in the mail on Monday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Halloween ornaments and other things

I have been enjoying the charts from the new JCS Halloween ornament premier issue ... I understand we have Sue Hillis to thank for nagging the editors into instituting such a project. Fall is my favprite time of the year and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I have such fun decorating for the season: I bring out all my owl and raven and crow and pumpkin decorative objects: candlesticks, folk art and stitchery. Then, I light candles scented like spiced pmpkin and mulled cider. A cup of tea, a good book or an interesting stitching project, settled in such a cozily autumnal nest ... does it get any better?
I am working diligently on La-D-Da's Smell My Feet ornament and I have Raise the Roof's Boo Whoo ornament kitted up and then, it's on to the Miribilia Halloween Faerie, also kitted up. So, I have plenty of autumnal pleasures ahead. And, I will be needing it. The new assistant I hired to help out during program hours [15 hours a week] was unable to start work yesterday due to a recent hospitalization for pneumonia ... since her full time job is also in education, the poor woman is beside herself feeling guilty about being out of commission at a very busy time of year ... as if she could help it. I wish her a speedy recovery for her own sake and for mine ... I'll be putting in plenty of overtime this week doing all the tasks I had planned for her as well as everything that's on my own plate. Oh, well, at least I won't be bored and when Josephine does come to work I shall value her all the more.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A plethora of photos

It's been a while since I posted photos. So here are fourteen photos featuring this month's finishes so far, a WIP or two and some stash purchases:
First, the 2006 Prairie Schooler Santa ... I love this one because I remember these old treadle sewing machines from my childhood visits to my grandmother's and greatgrandmother's homes.

Second, the 2007 Prairie Schooler Santa ... this is the last of the craft Santas ... I figured it was an appropriate thing to stitch since I finally decided to sign up for knitting classes at the local h.s. adult ed program ... that and a water aerobics class ... this may have the effect of reducing my stitching time ... but I do like variety in my life.

Third, the sewing finish on Plum Pudding's Blessed Be: as requested by my daughter, it is a sack for her aromatherapy. She plans to fill it with rice and then add the appropriate herbs or dried flowers for the particular situation [lavender for relaxation, eucalyptus for breathing issues, etc.]

Fourth, The Sweetheart Tree's Pumpkin on Gingham from the Just Cross Stitch Halloween Ornament issue. I've stitched this chart once as an ornament for exchange and once more as a floss ring tag for the September Finishing Challenge - I've got the back and front finished. All I need to do is read the section in the tutorial that goes over setting the eyelets and doing the final assembly. I probably won't get to this until Wednesday or Thursday since I want to have a solid block of time without distraction. I am a bit nervous about this particular finish since it would be so easy to ruin the piece if I don't manage the eyelet just right.

Fifth, is Elizabeth's Needlework Designs' Spooky Tree, also from the JCS Halloween issue. I am not sure I like the raffia trim. I'll have to live with it a while to see. In any case, it can always be changed out to orange braid.

For my sixth photo, yet another JCS Halloween Ornament issue chart: Homespun Elegance's Boo Pumpkin. I really like this one but then I do tend to like Homespun Elegance charts quite a bit.

And a seventh photo, my last JCS Halloween ornament finish thus far: Prairie Schooler's Night Owl which I believe is my favorite.

Changing themes, my ninth photo is of The Elizabeth's Needlework Designs Peace, finished as a pinkeep. A very sweet little piece that I adapted a wee bit ... it was meant to be a Christmas ornament but I liked it better stitched with a rice stitch border and finished as a delicate little pinkeep. I think I'll keep this little beauty in reserve for a future Secret Sister exchange.

The ninth photo is of a little pink biscornu finished with a fabric bottom as I have seen others do. I'm not completely satisfied with it ... the points could be a little crisper ... but it's not too bad for a first attempt at a somewhat different finish. It is made entirely from scraps and leftovers so I am feeling very frugal and thrifty.

For my tenth photo, here is a shot of a WIP: La-D-Da's Smell My Feet Halloween ornament. I changed the colors since I didn't have any Needlepoint Silks on hand and used WDW Mascara and some DMC in the stocking which I striped to match some flat braid trim I have that I'll be using in the finishing. This is turning out to be more fun than I thought it would be --- I just love these shoes.

For the eleventh photo, another WIP: my Debbie Draper Spots of Fun SAL, done entirely in autumn colors. Tomorrow, I shall have a go at posting this shot to the SAL forum. This is turning out to be another very enjoyable project ... see my other post earlier this month, A True Sampler ... because it is giving me an opportunity to try many different fibers.

And, last but not least, are three shots of stash enhancement: some more autumnal silks for the Spots of Fun SAL, all the CC overdyes and buttons I needed for the Raise the Roof's Boo Whoo ornament which I will be stitching on the same fabric as Spots of Fun, a Silkweaver Linen called Autumn Sunrise and two more Workbasket charts: Mermaids Singing and Quaker Peacock/House.

I am rather pleased with this month's progress towards my goals. I hope the second half of the month will be as productive as the first.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Secret Sister Exchange

The postman must have arrived with the dawn ... a package was awaiting me on my doorstep when I stepped outside this morning to go to work. I would have opened it right then and there if my SS hadn't wrapped it in so much packing tape that I can only assume she owns stock in a tape company. When I got to work, I immediately got to work with a box cutter and discovered these beauties:
--- Workbasket's Rabbit Rounded and the Caron Waterlilies Periwinkle with which to stitch it
---JBW's Christmas Keepsakes
---11 cards of Rainbow Gallery fibers, including Faux Fur, Mandarin, Very Velvet, Splendour and Grandeur
---2 skeins of Vikke Clayton silks ... one of which is a perfect blend of autumnal colors suitable for my Spots of Fun SAL and the other a luscious blue that we will work for a biscornu I have in mind for a friend who is a Pisces ... it has a stylized blackwork design of four fish arranged like a opinwheel in a square space.
---2 pieces of linen
---1 package of silvertone garden charms ... perfect for a classroom banner for spring.
To say I am delighted with my surprise package is quite an understatement. I am itching to start the Rabbits Rounded even as I type ... I know, I know, I just posted about getting serious about sticking to my stated goals ... but, oh, a Workbasket chart and Caron Waterlilies silk ... how can I resist?
I suspect I will compromise somewhere along the line ... and in the not-too-distant future, at that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Setting September Goals

Okay, it's time to start getting serious ... Christmas is only 115 stitching days away.

Focus on three major projects
  1. Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway Projects
  2. Teresa Wentzler's Autumn Faerie [Christmas gift for Angela]
  3. Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Stocking [Christmas gift for Liam]

Also in the rotation:

  1. Tea towels with herbal designs
  2. Miribilia Halloween Faerie
  3. 5 Halloween ornaments for my own decor
  4. Liz Turner Diehl's German Garden
  5. One more Celtic Tarot card for Angela
  6. M-Design Name Tree ornaments for Sean & Christina

Sewing finishes: finish at least two items from the backlog basket

Planning: sketch out a neighborhood for the Me, Myself and I Neighborhood RR blog using The Stitching Parlor's charts based on Pride and Prejudice, plot out how large a piece of fabric will be needed, chart a border with a center medallion that reads "Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen". Check out the Jane Austen chart in The Gift of Stitching to see if any of the motifs there will be useful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Assessing August Goals

Well, it's been another month where the progress has been somewhat spotty. Yes, there has been progress on the stated goals but I have also succumbed to the seduction of a few must-stitch-now projects that weren't on the goal list.

First the stated goals
  1. Finish the Prairie Schooler Santa cards: so far I have finished the 1995 [photo on 8/2 post], the 2004 [photo on 8/16 post], 2005 [photo on 8/24 post], 2006 and 2007.
  2. Finish the Peacock biscornu: didn't even touch the poor neglected thing.
  3. Focus on the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway 2007 projects, only an hour of stitching this month, on the very last day of the month, just to be able to say I did get to it.
  4. Focus on the TW Autumn Faerie: another neglected project
  5. Stitch a set of four tea towels with herbal motifs: I did dig out the proper chart, does that count?
  6. Start Liz Turner Diehl's German Garden: Nope
  7. Start TW Woodland Angel stocking for Liam: Nope
  8. Start Miribilia's Halloween Faerie: Nope
  9. Finish one more Celtic Tarot card for Angela's set: Nope
  10. Finally, finish Sean's Name Tree ornament: this is getting monotonous, but yet another Nope
  11. At least two sewing finishes: The Sweetheart Tree's Pumpkin on Gingham Halloween ornament and Elizabeth's Designs Peace, finished as a pin keep.
Now for the side trips into Startitis
  • Cross Eyed Kat's Jolly Roger Cat: finished 8/7/08
  • Plum Pudding's Blessed Be: finished 8/8/08
  • Top for the pink biscornu: finished 8/8/08
  • Lizzie Kate's Housework...: finished 8/16/08
  • The Sweetheart Tree's Pumpkin on Gingham ornament from JCS ... finished 8/31/08
  • Started Prairie Schooler's Night Owl ornament from JCS
  • Started the Debbie Draper Spots of Fun SAL: this last has become an obsession. I am using all sorts of different fibers for the motifs but one color way ... it's like eating potato chips or M&Ms ... just one more motif before I put it down ... after all I wasn't supposed to even start it until 9/1/08 but I have already completed 12 motifs ... and that's most of the first two pages of a four page design.
I'd say there is a pretty clear pattern here ... I have been getting bored with my own goals ... and have, consequently, been playing hookey with all manner of interesting new charts.