Monday, August 31, 2009

Progress on August Goals

The August Goals Were:

Finish Fertile Circles Needlebook: not quite finished yet but making slow and steady progress.
Finish Beach Find Pansies Panel: only two hours on this project, will try to do better in September.
Stitch 10 hours on T. Wentzler's Autumn Faerie: YES
Stitch at least one Christmas Ornament: YES, actually managed two: Blue Ribbon Designs' Red Birds for Peace and LHN's The Pear Tree.
Stitch one Halloween project: YES, actually stitched two: Not Forgotten Farm's The Giving Sisters, finished 8/17/09 and Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack O Lantern, finished 8/21/09.
Stitch Workbasket's Quaker Cow and Quaker Sheep: Well, not quite. Only 1/3rd done with the Cow.
UFO > WIP: Peacock Biscornu: only another hour spent on this and all that hour spent frogging, hope to get some actual stitching done in September.
Work 5 hours on Sewing Finishes: YES AND THEN SOME. Four totes: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Glory Bee's Which Witch [Trick or Treat Bag for granddaughter Piper], Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack o Lantern [Trick or Treat Bag for grandson Liam] and Field and Forest's Celtic Knotwork Heart. Three ornaments: LHN's The Pear Tree, Blue Ribbon Design's Red Birds for Peace, and Quaker Fourth of July.

The September Goals Are

Christmas Project: Snowman Bell Pull [for my god-daughter Sarah's bridal shower: my gift is all about decorating for Christmas]

Halloween Project: Esmerelda's House

Quaker Quilt Project: Workbasket's Quaker Sheep and Cow

WIP Rotation: TW's Autumn Faerie/Beach Find Pansies Panel/Fertile Circles Needlebook/ Erynne Chard's I Am In My Garden: I'd like to finish as many of these as possible so that I may move onto some Christmas stitching in October. I still have the 2008 Limited Edition PS Santa and Sue Hillis' Cookie Baking Santa to stitch as well as Liam's stocking which is an elaborate TW chart.

UFO>WIP: still the Peacock Biscornu

Work five hours on Sewing Finishes

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Few More Sewing Finishes and a WIP Update

The sewing finishes continue to outnumber the cross stitch finishes ... which is something that has never happened in all the years I have been stitching ... a bizarre turn of events, really. I am happy to be turning all the pieces stitched in the past few years into useful objects and gifts but it has cut into my cross stitching time considerably. Usually by this time of year I have completed about 50 projects, a mix of smalls and medium projects and one or two BAPs. This year, I have barely made a dent in my current BAP [TWs Autumn Faerie] and have stitched only a few medium sized projects. The bulk of my cross stitch finishes have been smalls: ornaments and biscornus. Granted, there was that fallow period of six weeks or so early in the year when I didn't pick up a needle at all ... but even so ...

The Baa Baa Black Sheep Project Bag: I'll be carrying my yarn and needles in this when I attend the Knitting Circle I have joined. I used some remnants of black corduroy for this piece ... and I do mean remnants. I actually had to piece scraps together to make the straps with the result that in some areas the fabric was thick enough to break a sewing machine needle ... I should have pieced the straps with diagonal seams like one finds on bias tape but I was too focused on finishing the project to think of it. I have lined the bag with black broadcloth.

A Trick or Treat Bag for my granddaughter Piper: Glory Bee's Which Witch. I made this bag with some black broadcloth I had on hand and lined it with a more colorful fabric. It turned out a touch larger than I had planned ... that lack of spatial intelligence continues to plague me. I can never quite visualize the finished size before hand. At the moment, Piper could fit in the bag and it will probably be years before she can carry it without dragging it along the ground. I'll have to make another smaller one for this year ... maybe the cutesy cartoony owl ornament from the current JCS Halloween ornament issue would be an appropriately sized piece to develop into a bag.

A gift tote made using Field and Forest's Celtic Knotwork Heart and some quilting fabric I had in my stash that picks up the colors in the Caron Watercolours Pomegranate used in the piece ... though the fabric photographed "redder" than it actually is.

And the WIP report:

Fertile Circle's Needlebook: I worked primarily on this today and have very little left to do: just the blending filament to fill in the blank spaces between the rows of satin stitch on the back and couching the thick Threadgather wool to make the body of the snake on the front ... and then it will be ready for assembly.

Glory Bee's Halloween Trio: I pulled this out as a reward to myself for all the sewing finishes of the past few weeks and for the steady progress on my monthly stitching goals. I am using a 36ct Silkweaver linen [Color: Days Gone By] and the called for GAST cottons with only one substitution necessary [Grape Leaf for Shutter Green] ... I figure the 36 ct fabric will automatically size them down to ornaments. I need a few for upcoming exchanges. After only an hour and a half spent stitching, I am nearly finished with the Fright Night ... only the border left to do. I'll provide a photo when I have all three stitched and assembled into ornaments.

Just a happy thought: Last month I did some cautious celebrating about having learned to make twisted cord but I was concerned that my success was a fluke, never to be repeated. Well, I can lay that fear to rest since I made some more cord ... this time for the LHN ornament pictured in my 8/28 post ... using the same WDW Kudzu and Hazelnut floss that I used in the stitching. True, there were two minor little kinks in the cord but I do believe I am finally getting the hang of this. And amazingly enough, I made just enough for the ornament in question, even allowing for a tassel at the bottom of the ornament. Now, that was a fluke! I am actually looking forward to trying my hand at this again. I'll be making tri-color twisted cord for my Glory Bee Halloween Trio ornaments, using the DMCs that most closely match the GAST Bittersweet, Grape Leaf and Butternut Squash since the GAST is pre cut and not suitable for cord making.

Received a Giveaway all the way from England

I was extremely lucky to win Nic Wray's Bee giveaway: all these lovely charts ... and in record time, just four days after she e-mailed me that she had sent them. Nic blogs as A Girl As Mad As Birds ... a blog well worth checking out if you have never done so.

I am eager to stitch them and will work them into my WIP rotation at the earliest opportunity. Once they are all done, I'll do a PIF giveaway ... probably in time for Spring/Summer stitching.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A long post after a long silence

It has been a long time indeed since my last post: over two weeks, I believe. I have been busy with the weird things life has been throwing at me and with the oddly satisfying routine of a vacation at home. The weird has ranged from major emergencies like the complete breakdown of my daughter's car, resulting in the need for replacement, to minor irritations like the theft of a cell phone and the notification that someone tried to use my husband's debit card account to purchase $2000.00 worth of stuff from one of those big box handyman stores, in Iowa of all far away places [we live in NY] ... these last two were resolved immediately and without cost to us thanks to all the safeguards and insurance my apparently not-so-paranoid husband has insisted upon. The vacation routine has been pretty much a matter of alternating a period of stitching or sewing with household chores and with a major clean-up of the boys' old bedroom. My husband had turned the room into a cluttered storage area and I want it to be a guest room cum sewing room cum TV room by mid-December. First step is to de-clutter. This is best done while he is at work and can't see me throwing away all those empty boxes, VHS tapes already duplicated with DVDs, old magazines, cast-off furniture, old clothes, broken belts and God knows what else. The man is a compulsive pack-rat and I refuse to drown in his detritus.

The sewing finishes:

A Trick or Treat Bag for Liam: Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack o Lantern made with a green and white check cotton and a solid green broadcloth bottom and lining.

And the ornaments are all August cross-stitch finishes ... doing the sewing finishes on them is part of my feeble attempt to fall no further behind when it comes to final finishes.

Two Christmas ornaments:

Blue Ribbon Design's Red Birds For Peace ornament

LHN's The Pear Tree ornament

And a patriotic ornament: The Fourth of July -Quaker Style ornament

On the weight loss front: not so good last week, only 1/4 lb. lost ... mainly because I sabotaged myself. After a whole week of eating sensibly [including taking full advantage of my Fruit of the Month shipment of the most delicious peaches I have enjoyed in a long time], I sabotaged myself. Our local Barnes & Noble has a display of Godiva chocolate right at the check-out line ... now, I usually treat myself to a single chocolate bar when I buy books - not the greatest behavior but not so bad either ... but this time I bought a full box of assorted chocolates and polished it off in two days. Not good for the weight loss or the diabetes ... I should have my head examined! I'll be more sensible in the upcoming weeks but I really do need to get control of these periodic impulses to self-destruct. The work I have planned for the next two weeks ought to burn off a few calories ... there is a silver lining to every cloud! This week, I actually gained back 3/4lb. ... probably the result of last week's misbehavior. Well, I must make certain this self-destructive trend stops here and now.

The Cross Stitch finishes:

Not Forgotten Farm's The Giving Sisters ... I tried another natural skin tone but it didn't look right either ... and although I really dislike the whole green-faced witch deal, I am forced to admit that, in this particular project using this particular linen, the green actually works better. As I said in a previous post, this project turned out to be a relatively quick stitch ... and a good thing, too ... I have to pick up some things at the framers next week and am glad to have this finished in time to bring along. That way it will be framed and ready for display in October. Because the design reminds me of old-fashioned woodcut illustrations, I am thinking something rather substantial, dark and intricately carved for the frame ... something in a Jacobean or Gothic style. I realize that may end up being rather costly but sometimes you just have to indulge an artistic impulse. My framer and I were discussing this whole issue and she shared an interesting fact with me that she learned at one of her professional seminars: in Renaissance times, the cost of framing a painting represented 2/3rds of the entire cost while the commissioned work itself represented only 1/3rd of the cost. That's how highly the Medicis, Borgias and Estes valued the art of the framer/wood carver. Now far be it from me to compare my work to a Da Vinci or Michelangelo but the principle remains the same. If you want to set a work off properly, be prepared to spend wisely on the frame. Eventually, I am going to have to learn to frame pieces myself ... clearly, with this sort of philosphy, I could run through far too much money far too quickly. I am trying to compensate by doing more non-framing finishing. For instance, I have plans to finish September's Halloween project, Esmeralda's House, as a cube or a tri-fold stand-up ... and I have another Halloween finish, Hat in a Cat, awaiting finish as a stuffed and weighted stand-up door stop.

Celtic Knotwork Heart, a free chart by Alodi Wolfsong of Field and Forest. I stitched this on an ivory colored 28ct mystery linen received in trade, rather coarse and loosely woven ... so much so that it looks more like a very fine needlepoint canvas than a cross stitch linen. I used three strands of DMC Black for the outline and one strand of Caron Watercolours Pomegranate for the colored fill. This was a quick project ... probably no more than 6 hours of stitching ... a little large for an ornament, which had been my first thought ... but will make a very nice center for a tote or pillow. I generally discard a complimentary chart once I have stitched it but I am saving this one ... I can definitely see it as an ornament done in silks on a 40ct linen and I am sure I will enjoy playing with the color possibilities when I stitch it again ... but not immediately ... I do have to get back to my monthly goals.

Homespun Elegance's Mr. Jack O Lantern [see tote pictured above]: stitched on the same 28ct Country Cream 28ct linen I am using for my Quaker animals, using the suggested fibers with a very few substitutions. I am still trying to stitch from stash whenever possible. I fear I am beginning to become a hoarder of interesting fibers for their own sake ... and I don't want to end up as one of those crazy old people who have homes loaded with stuff and only narrow little aisles between the ceiling high clutter. To that end, whenever I can make a reasonable substitution from within my own stash, I will do so ... to save money, space and sanity.

And my current cross-stitch WIPs

Erynne Chard's I Am In My Garden, stitched on 28ct Silkweaver linen [Starquest] with Thread Gatherer's Silk n Color: Autumn on the Cape. Somewhere along the line I miscounted so that my bottom border is two stitches wider than my top ... I found one of the errors but have decided that it will be easier to remove the last two stitches on the far right of the bottom rather than frog 2/3rds of the bottom border. It won't change the look of the original design dramatically.

I have started stitching Workbasket's Quaker Cow and find it is stitching up more quickly than I had anticipated ... certainly more quickly than the Quaker Pig ... there is so much more negative space in the Cow.

And, last but certainly not least, a bit more work was done on The Fertile Circles Needlebook ... though, alas, I have not managed any more time stitching on the Beach Find Pansies project. I hope to stitch a bit more on both these pieces tomorrow and will post a photograph of my progress on Sunday.

I have been making a concerted effort to Stitch From Stash lately, finding a use for some linens received in trade that were not really what I usually like [for the Celtic Knotwork Heart and for the LHN The Pear Tree ornament], using partial skeins of fibers left over from other projects [the Caron Watercolours Pomegranate used in the Celtic Knotwork Heart and all of the fibers used in The Fertile Circles Needlebook had originally been purchased for my Spots of Fun Sampler from last fall] and substituting similar colors when I don't have the exact floss called for in a chart as I noted above in the caption to Mr. Jack O Lantern. All in all, I am feeling rather smug and frugal and industrious: working on sewing finishes, stitching from stash, clearing away household clutter. I figure it is only a matter of time before the universe redresses the balance and reminds me of my true place in the order of things. But until then, I am going to enjoy this brief period of self-righteousness for all it is worth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Halloween Project a Month

Starting in July, I added a Halloween Project a Month to my goals. I already have several other routine goals: a Christmas ornament a month, a Quaker Quilt project a month and a UFO > WIP project a month. This will make the fourth predictable monthly goal. In paging through my binders, I found that I have more Halloween than Christmas projects pending so this will give me a systematic means of stitching all these fabulous charts.
My current Halloween project is Not Forgotten Farm's The Giving Sisters. This chart reminds me of the quaint and lovely woodcut illustrations in very old books. My only quibble with it is the green faces on the sisters ... a pet peeve of mine. I substituted a flesh tone in the first of the sisters but it will have to be frogged. Against this particular fabric [Silkweaver's 32 ct Cashel linen: Days Gone By] the skin tones look positively pink ... equally inappropriate for a witch. I'll try another skin tone with a beige undertone and if that fails, I will reluctantly return to the green as charted. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I find that once I pick up a Halloween project I tend to stitch on it exclusively until it is finished. So, it is unlikely that there will be progress on any of the other monthly goals till this is ready for the framer. Happily, it seems to be moving along quite quickly.

Starting next month, I'll have to start booking on my Christmas projects: finish TW's Autumn Faerie as a gift for my daughter and finish 2008's Prairie Schooler Limited Edition Santa as a gift for my youngest sister ... these two need to be finished by early November to allow time for framing. Then there are the TW Woodland Angel stocking to finish up for my grandson and a snowman bellpull to stitch for my god-daughter. I have a chart with a snowman balancing a large candy cane button on his nose that I think I will use for this last project. The candy cane button is in my stash and I have some lovely 4" and 6" stitch band lengths in pine green and in cranberry ... no doubt I'll find something that will work for the chart. I may have to put the Quakers and the UFOs on hold for the remainder of the year to free up stitching time for these projects.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finishing Fizzle

I am afraid my Finishing Frenzy has devolved into a Finishing Fizzle lately ... I close my eyes as I navigate between the loaded dining room table and the ironing board ... at present, I need to stitch, as in embroider rather than sew ... and while I did get a lot of satisfaction from all the sewing finishes in July [21 of them] ... it ate up a lot of my stitching time. I will get back to it soon because I am determined to keep the eyesore of a sewing station in place until I am quite caught up ... after all, the end result is most desirable ... more stitched objects with which to decorate my home or to give to others. But for now, I'd rather ply my needle than work my sewing machine. Maybe, I'll work on a finish or two during the weekend.

In any case, here are photos of some of the last objects finished in July:

Liz Turner Diehl Autumn Acorns, finished as a Bell Pull ... this was a lot of fun ... all the specialty stitches in the rich Madeira floss ... the beading made perfect tops to the acorns and the pull finials picked up the motif. I am really going to enjoy displaying this piece in the Fall.

The whole:

And, some details:

Stitching the Night Away's Modern Art Goddess, finished as a wall hanging And one more small cross stitch finish: AuryTM's Fourth of July - Quaker Style And a WIP : My Halloween project for this month: Not Forgootten Farm's The Giving Sisters

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blogaversary Winner

Here is a photo of the Grab Bag being sent out to Nic, the poster who wrote so eloquently about tea, using various similes to relate tea to fiber. Tea just happens to be another of my passions.

It contains a silk, Dinky Dye's Nullabor; a cotton overdye, Needle Necessities' #100 in soft muted lavender; a bamboo, Rainbow Gallery's Mandarin M819 which is a dark olive green; a rayon, Rainbow Gallery's Neon Rays N79, a bright yellow gold; and a linen, Olde Willow Stitchery's Meetinghouse Rust.

I wanted to give away fiber to celebrate the blogaversary because I wanted to share my fascination with the ways different fibers "work" to create unique examples of textile art. I am engaged in a love affair with silks ... whether they be Waterlilies from Caron, Splendor from Rainbow Gallery, Belle Soie from Crescent Colours, or any of the others from Thread Gatherer, Dinky Dyes, HD or even the more humble YLI and Kreinik. I have a huge stash of cotton overdyes: GAST, WDW, Crescent, NN, Dinky Dyes and from some lesser known small dyers as well ... I do a lot of samplers and primitive/country/folk art pieces for which these fibers are perfect. Then there is bamboo ... a lovely fiber with the sheen and feel of a silk-wool blend that comes from a sustainable source. HHHHMMMM, rayon ... I do like the effect on certain projects but really dislike using it for so many reasons: it comes from a non-sustainable source, petroleum, and it is the most slippery, finicky fiber - hard to lay properly and a pain to secure on the underside of the work, it slips out of the needle without warning, it doesn't lay evenly [one tail is always markedly shorter than the other when using two strands] ... but one of my favorite designers of dragon charts, Dragon Dreams, uses quite a bit of it ... so I have come to terms with the stuff. Linen is another problematic fiber for me ... while from a sustainable source, it tends to feel a little coarser in the hand and tends to rub blisters on my fingers when I use it ... and yet, it has such a lovely soft sheen and when properly laid against the fabric, looks so very lovely. And then, there is a certain symmetry to be found in stitching with linen on linen. I hope Nic enjoys playing with these different fibers and finds a proper use for them all.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Work on August WIPs begins

First, a small finish: I decided to start my August stitching with a Christmas ornament since I try to stitch one a month. This one is a new complimentary chart from Blue Ribbon Designs called Red Birds For Peace. I stitched it with the GAST as charted but I used a remnant of a 40ct Silkweaver Limited Edition linen called Mississippi Mud. The original chart called for a 32ct linen of the stitcher's choice. So my ornament is a bit smaller than intended by the designer. I also varied the strands a bit. I used two strands to stitch the center tree and the solid border but only one strand to stitch the scallop border for a lacier effect. I stitched the two smaller trees done in Blue Spruce with a single strand as well ... I think it gives a bit of depth to the piece, setting the two smaller trees closer to the horizon, so to speak ... and the long-stitched trees were stitched with two strands of Pine. The over-one birds were stitched, of course, in single strands of Cherry Wine and Cranberry. The word Peace was stitched with two strands of an older and more muted dyelot of Cranberry [so different from my other skeins of Cranberry that it might even be a labelling error rather than a dyelot variation]. I think the variations in texture and tone make this an interesting little ornament. I left the snowflakes out entirely: I don't like the disproportionately large size of the flakes as charted. Never did like that cold, wet stuff anyway ... and when stitched on 40ct linen this design doesn't seem to have so much negative space crying out for filling.

My other start thus far this month is AuryTM's free chart, 4th of July - Quaker Style. I am stitching this on a piece of 28ct Silkweaver overdyed linen called Starquest using GAST Buckeye Scarlet, White Picket Fence and Midnight.

Next projects:
---I'll be continuing to stitch on the back of my Fertile Circles Needlebook and on my Beach Find Pansies panel. I am amazed that such "small" projects are taking so long and proving so very complex.
---And, of course,there's Workbasket's Quaker Cow already kitted up and ready to start.
---I'll also be moving my stitching stand downstairs this weekend so that I can work on TW's Autumn Faerie in the evenings after work in the most efficiently air-conditioned space.
---Then, there is my next Halloween project to kit up: Not Forgotten Farm's The Giving Sisters
---Finally, I follow a lovely blog, Be-Stitched, written by Erynne. Erynne is a talented young designer and skilled stitcher who is very generous in sharing her designs. Her latest, a lovely free chart ... I'm In the Garden ... is just the right size [73w x 73h] for a large ornament or a small pillow or the center motif of a tote or maybe even a tea-cup pin cushion if you use a 40ct linen ... the possibilities are endless ...

I have already poured through my reserves of small pieces of overdyed linen and my stores of single skeins of over-dyed floss ... just itching to start on this ... but what colorway to use ... ah, a good question to ponder. I am thinking Thread Gatherer's Silk'N'Colors Autumn on the Cape and the matching chenille for an edging ... but now, to find a perfect fabric to work with those colors. I tried several floss-tosses, but I keep coming back to these:

For a classic look, this 28ct linen called Country Cream:
For a more intense and color-drenched look, this 28ct Silkweaver overdyed linen in shades of blue called Starquest:
I also tried it against a 28ct Cashel linen called Apricot
And against a mystery 28ct linen in soft shades of pink ...

I really like the look of the floss against the Starquest but I am still mulling over the other possibilities as well. I believe I will finish this as either a tote or a pillow so it may all come down to what fabric I can find for the final finish. I think a trip to The Happy Quilter is going to have to be put on the agenda this weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Here a Blogaversary, There a Blogaversary ...

Since I like to visit the blogs of the folks who leave comments on mine, I clicked on Nic to discover this charming and utterly delightful blog

and, guess what, she is running a blogaversary contest, too ... though hers involves chart grab bags ... and very generous grab bags, I might add ... one with the theme of teddy bears and another with the theme of bees. Since I would dearly love to win the bee-themed grab bag, I searched my soul before adding this link ... after all, the more who know about the contest the more who will enter and the less likely the odds of my winning ... but, greed is one of the capitol sins and thus a behavior to be avoided, right?

Her contest will come to a conclusion in just a day or two, so hurry over to visit.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Second Blogaversary Coming Up: August 24

It's been two years since I began blogging. And I have made many wonderful cyberspace friends ... and have even met one or two of them face to face at GTGs or stitching retreats. I have learned a great deal from my fellow bloggers: I have broadened my stitching horizons to include new techniques and materials, I have found a wealth of information about all sorts of textile crafts, and I have added to the list of vendors who cater to people with this particular passion ... all in all, it has been a great ride and promises to continue to be so.

To celebrate, I am going to offer a Fiber Surprise Grab Bag containing five different specialty flosses as this month's giveaway: including a silk, a cotton, a bamboo, a rayon and a linen. I figure that's a great way to share the joy of wandering about in the wide wide wonderful world of fiber. To enter, post a message in the comments explaining why you already enjoy using a wide variety of fibers [you might name a few of your favorites] ... or, if you haven't yet ventured beyond the good old reliable DMC, why you'd like to expand your repertoire.

On August 10th, I'll choose the answer that tickles my fancy most ... entirely unscientific, totally subjective and probably grossly unfair ... but every now and then I like to indulge myself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


First off: a confession. I broke my vow to limit my purchases of charts to 5 this year. Worse yet, the sixth chart is a multiple ... an automatic subscription no less ... Bent Creek's The Branch. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! I saw it when it first came out, I coveted it, I resisted it, but when they added an owl [one of my favorite images], I succumbed to temptation and I purchased it.

So, other than being weak of will, this is what's been going on the past few days: my husband and I babysat my daughter's beagle, a grand old lady named Shenandoah ... Shennie for short. Got in a few nice walks with Shennie for a companion. I'd thought about dragging my husband on a 40+ mile trek through really bad weekend traffic to JoAnne's to search for the fabrics I needed/wanted for my next round of finishing. He's the better driver in congested, city-like traffic. But neither of us were really at the top of our game after a long work week. So, I decided to work with what I had on hand and save those few projects lacking the right stuff for another time. Instead, I settled in for a cozy weekend of stitching and sewing. Okay, a little bit of cooking, laundry and housekeeping [the bare minimum] as well ... one does have to bow to reality every so often ... but only when it becomes unavoidable.

But I have been strong in a few areas. With great laudable [for me] discipline and, I might add, considerable enthusiasm, I have been working on this month's WIPs and have been sticking to my plan to plug away at the sewing finishes.

The WIP's:
I will wait to photograph Beach Find Pansies when there is a bit more progress. It is slowly coming along ... free-form embroidery seems to take so much longer than cross stitch. This is mostly stem-stitching and French Knots, with the occasional bit of chain stitch. I have one more pansy, a pansy bud and the leaves to sketch in once I have completed the second blossom. I love the way the bits of polished oyster shell make irridescent centers for each pansy. When I spotted these shell fragments on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay [Md], I immediately saw them as pansies. I don't know what that says about my psychological profile ... I'd probably be better off not taking any ink blot tests ... I mean, who looks at broken shells and sees flowers? ... and I won't reveal what inspiration came when looking at some of my other beach finds ... at least, not till I start to stitch them up. One hint, though, think Phantom of the Opera or the Man in the Iron Mask.
Fertile Circles Needlebook: who thought a bargello variation on the back would take so long? I have stitched aout half the back cover and will need to backstitch between the rows of satin stitches with something relatively thin ... maybe two strands of blending filament ... and fill in the triangles left after completing the satin stitches ... that will be with the Belle Soie Paprika to match the initial and the border. Then, all that will be left to do will be to couch the Caron Watercolour on the front to give the impression of a snake twining around all the nests. Once the stitching is done I will be able to assemble it into a stitching book: the inner "pages" will be WDW wool with Blanket stitched edging and back stitched letters indicating the type of needle for each of the four pages. I figure I'll use this book for my favorite needles: Piecemakers Tapestry 28, John James Petite 28, John James Tweens 23 and 25, Piecemaker Beading.

Cross Stitch Finishes:
Workbasket's Quaker Pig: although this took far longer than I thought it would, I enjoyed watching it take shape. The last Quaker animal that seemed to take so long to stitch was the Cat ... all the others felt like relatively quick stitches. Next up are the Cow and the Sheep ... I have a sneaking suspicion that these will be much like the Pig and the Cat ... definitely not quick stitches.

Glory Bee's Which Witch: I'll finish this up as a Halloween Trick or Treat Bag for my new grand-daughter

The Finishes: I'll post photos of my sewing finishes when I finally get a sunny enough day to photograph them outdoors. These pieces are too large to photograph on my little sewing table under my Ott Lite. So for now I will just list them.

Liz Turner Diehl's Autumn Acorns, as a bellpull
Modern Art Goddess, as a wall hanging
Baa Baa Black Sheep, as a tote

These last pieces brings July's finish total up to 21 ... pretty respectable. And only leaves 15 more finishes to go in August ... of which four are ravioli pillows and four more are pillows requiring buttonholes and nun-stitching ... which is why I have been studiously putting off the pillows for as long as possible. There are also a few more wall hangings to sew up and a chance to use some of my scrumptious new trims from Farmhouse Fabrics. All in all I think I will enjoy the August finish sewing just as much as the July even if the "body count" will be lower. And, yes, I do think of it as a body count! With each item removed from the sewing basket [actually, a large plastic laundry basket] and turned into a usable or giftable item, I mentally pump my right arm up and down and shout out "Awright!" ... my own version of Rocky Balboa tenacity and celebration. I am simply not going to think about the fact that as I continue to cross stitch, I will continue to accumulate items requiring finishing, the Fertile Circles Needlebook for one and the Beach Finds Handbag for another as well as any Christmas and Halloween ornaments generated by perusal of upcoming JCS issues. Besides, I could always limit myself to BAPs that require professional framing thereby eliminating the sewing basket altogether ... but that probably would mean spending what's left of our retirement savings on framing. No, on second thought, I will simply revel in the current reduction of the backlog in the sewing basket. Inexorably, it will start to fill again but perhaps, after a two month marathon at the sewing machine, I will be motivated to keep up with the flow. I don't think I want to fall so far behind ever again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Assessing July Goals/ Setting August Goals

The July Goals were
Stitch 10 hours on TW's Autumn Faerie: still not really moving on this ... only an hour devoted it to it during the entire month. I'll need to move my stitching stand downstairs to living room if I want to make any progress on this. At least that way, I will have it right at hand for evening stitching while watching DVDs with my husband.
Stitch two more Workbasket Quaker animals: the Pig and the Cow: well only the Pig got done but he was such a big, fat Pig.
Stitch at least one more Christmas ornament: WOO HOO!!! I exceeded the goal with 4 ornaments. Finished Homespun Elegance's Santa ornaments: 2001, Noah Toy and 1999, Great Good Cheer, Workbasket's Quaker Christmas Holly, The Stitcherhood's Quaker Flower.
Stitch a Halloween project: Glory Bee's Which Witch? Began on Saturday 7/25 and finished on 7/30.
Start Workbasket's Quaker Sampler: still waiting for my fabric from Silkweaver since I foolishly added it to the random rotation of my FOTM club rather than asked for immediately.
Sewing Finishes AND ANOTHER WOO HOO!!! GRAND TOTAL FOR THE MONTH: TWENTY-ONE. Bright Needle's Sauce for the Gander Needle/Tool Book; Homespun Elegance's ornaments: 2001 Santa [Noah Toy], 1999 Santa [Great Good Cheer], Oh Snowy Night, and Christmas Night Mini-Stocking; Workbasket's ornament Quaker Christmas Holly, Imaginating ornament Cardinal with Holly; Primitive Needle's Halloween ornament Salem Witch;Workbasket's Rabbit Rondel finished as a sewing box; Rainbow Gallery's 1st Class Teacher Bell Pull; a doorknob hanger using Chessie and Me's Guardian Chessie chart [from 2005 JCS Christmas ornament issue] and a mystery freebie chart Cat Skull and Cross Bones; LHN Needleworks House Sampler finished as a bell pull; Dragon Dreams Elemental Dragons finished as a long narrow bell pull; Workbasket Rabbit Rondel's sewing accessories: scissor fob and mattress style pin cushion; Poisson du Avril scissor fob; The Stitcherhood's Quaker Flower finished as a Christmas ornament; Primitive Needle's Salem 1692 as a mini wall hanging; Modern Art Goddess wall hanging; Baa Baa Black Sheep tote bag, Liz Turner Diehl's Autumn Acorns Bell Pull.
Finish Beach Find Pansies panel: started the second pansy but still a long way from finishing this project.
Finish Fertile Circles Needlebook: still have about half the stitching of the back cover to do but I really like this little project and should have it finished next month.
UFO>WIP: Peacock biscornu: about the only thing I did with this was mount it on some scroll rods and unpick a few stitches ... I really hate frogging ... so this is another project I'll be carrying over into August.
Order Workbasket's Quaker Halloween and Quaker Polars as well as the JCS Christmas and Halloween ornament issues, also some Piecemaker Needles [tapestry 28s]: Yes, on July 6. Received on July 10. Also ordered and received some more Belle Soie silks to finish up some of the projects listed above, specifically the Beach Find Pansies and the Fertile Circles Needlebook, as well as a selection of bell pulls so that I can turn a few more of my back log of stitched pieces into wall hangings. Then, of course, I just had to order a few more trims and buttons from Farmhouse Fabrics ... it's becoming my new obsession.

The August Goals
  • Stitch 10 hours TW's Autumn Faerie
  • Stitch Workbasket's Quaker Cow and Sheep for the Quaker Quilt
  • Stitch at least one more Christmas ornament
  • Stitch a Halloween Project
  • Finish Fertile Circles Needlebook
  • Finish Beach Find Pansies panel
    Devote at least five hours to sewing finishes
    UFO > WIP: Peacock Biscornu