Monday, November 30, 2009

December Tasks

As we count down the days to Christmas, I am making a list of the stitching related things I need to do in order to be ready:

1. Get that Prairie Schooler Santa to the framers where I will throw myself on their mercy pleading for a delivery date of Dec. 20.

2. Get the appropriate bell pull hardware for Sara's Balancing Act and First Class Teacher bellpulls and affix a white tassle to each.
3. Finish stitching Sean's and Christina's Name Tree Ornaments.

4. Convert several stitched pieces into fully
lined tote bags, to be used as Christmas gifts. I got a start on this project over the weekend as you can see in the photos below. There are several totes in various stages toward completion. The teddy bear will be used as a goodie bag filled with stuff to keep my two year old grandson happy on the flight from West Coast to East ... I am sure Christina [daughter-in-law] will have her hands full with baby Piper, so the least I can do is give my son some goodies for keeping Liam occupied. The squirrel tote will be used as a gift bag for Christina at Christmas time ... it suits her since she is a naturalist and an environmental educator at a wildlife refuge. The Garden Tote [this did not photograph well ... maybe I'll have better luck with the finished piece] will also be used as a gift bag at Christmas. I also have some samplers with a stitching theme that I plan to make into a tote for my mother.

5. Put away all the stitching stuff in the storage room so it can be cleaned up and used as a presentable guest room.

6. Stitch enough on projects I enjoy to keep my sanity in the month ahead.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Startitis strikes again

The plan was to work on sewing finishes and TW's Autumn Faerie this week ... possibly even finishing said Faerie by November 30. A trip to the emergency room with my husband, waiting from 5pm to 2am, before they decided to admit him for a 2 1/2 day stay checking out some very scary symptoms with a barrage of tests ... all turned out well, though with the least scary of all diagnoses ... very fixable, no cancer ... Well, the plan was jettisoned in favor of two very small portable stitching projects [the bookmark and floss tag pictured below] that I could take to the hospital during the beginning of the week and in favor of a very straight forward Primitive Needle chart for the rest of the week. I was just too stressed out to deal with blending and 1/4 stitches and the like. Even Thanksgiving was postponed to Sunday since I had no time for shopping, cleaning or cooking ... dividing my time between work and the hospital during the early part of the week.

I finished the Autumn Leaves bookmark from Handblessing. I used a mystery linen scrap that I had received in trade, 32 ct, overdyed with a subtle brown/grey-green color way and a Belle Soie silk called Pumpkin Carriage. The finishing fabric on the back is a recent purchase and one I will use again when converting Esmeralda's House into a wall hanging. Lately I have taken to fringing a number of my finishes ... somehow the homespun look of fringed linen just suits country-style Fall and Christmas pieces. And here is one sewing finish: a book tote for my husband. It is fully lined and even has a fleece batting inner lining to give added shape and strength. The chart is called Sailor's Jig, though how anyone would have the strength to do a jig while holding wooden oars outstretched is well beyond me!

Then there is this near-finish: an oversized floss tag. I ran out of DMC Perle 815 just before finishing the top corner of the back and the whip-stitching of front and back together. I plan on ordering some from 123stitch by phone tomorrow along with some other threads I need to kit up a Christmas ornament from the JCS 2005 ornament issue and some more Belle Soie Old Crow silk I need for the next project pictured here: Halloween Revelry by The Primitive Needle from the Sept. 2009 JCS issue. I knew as soon as I saw this piece that I had to do it. The mindless repeats in the border were just right for hospital stitching. Don't be alarmed by the very narrow selvage at the top. I intend this piece to end up as a pillow and don't need much more than a seam allowance plus 1/4" more or less to get the effect I want. Instead of using the charted WDW cotton overdyes, I am stitching from my stash of Belle Soie silks. So far the border and the cats [and all other black areas] are stitched in Old Crow and the orange areas are being done in Lasagna. Since I have a very nice deep stash of Belle Soie, I'll choose the other colors as I get up to them. Since I seem to have caught some bug or other while visiting at the hospital, I'll stick to this piece for the rest of the day. I've developed a major headache and cough and am just too tired to deal with something as complex as TW's Autumn Faerie.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Pine Cone Ornament

A few weeks ago, the recently engaged Rachel posted a query on the 123 message board ... she needed a pine cone ornament for her bride tree and was looking for a suitable chart. Having had the pleasure of meeting Rachel last June when vacationing in the Chesapeake Bay Western Shore area of Md, I asked this lovely young lady if she'd let me stitch an ornament from the Gift of Stitching Dec 2007 for her. I wasn't sure whether the ornaments for a bride tree had to be stitched entirely by the bride ... having never heard of this custom before. I was delighted when she accepted my offer and stitched this lovely little design for her. Since I have gotten word that Rachel has received it, I am now posting a photo.

Designed by Melissa Dunajski, when stitched on 32 ct. linen [Silkweaver Days Gone By], this ornament is three inches square. I made a few modifications substituting a monogram [one over one] using the bride's and groom's initials instead of the year. I also used Belle Soie silks [Creme de Menthe, Chocolat, Cinnamon Stick and Sister Scarlet] instead of the recommended GAST and WDW cotton overdyes. I changed the border as well since I have never really liked the alternating six stitches one color and six stitches another color deal. I stitched all the Smyrnas in Creme de Menthe and substituted the center eyelet in Sister Scarlet for the charted cross stitched 4 pointed star. For the back, I felt like playing with a few more stitches so I did square Rhodes in Creme de Menthe and the center stitch in a rice stitch using both the red and the green. And then, the brainstorm: why not stitch two entwined wedding rings in satin stitches over plastic rings as the center motif of the back of the ornament. Well that looked just awful since I had to cut one of the rings to entwine the two and the cut ring just wouldn't line up again. An attempt to glue it didn't work either. So I pulled a very pretty ceramic heart button out of my stash and used that instead. Add a stitched "Best wishes" and "2009" for the year of the engagement [the wedding is to take place in 2010] and the back is complete. Since both back and front were stitched on linen, I figured a fringed pillow finish would be a nice change of pace for me ... I usually do padded flat ornaments. A bit of twisted cord in the Creme de Menthe combined with the Sister Scarlet and it was done. So, in addition to be being an ornament, the project turned into a mini-sampler and gave me a chance to enjoy a bunch of specialty stitches and techniques. It was a relatively quick stitch ... less than ten hours including the sewing finish.

It was a pleasure to stitch something for a "stitching buddy". Another stitcher looks at a piece and understands the time, energy and effort that went into it. It's so nice to be appreciated at that level. And stitching for someone you have actually met is even more enjoyable than exchanges ... though they are always fun, it is quite different when you have an emotional investment in a piece.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

WIP Report

The Colon Cancer block for the Stitching For A Cure Quilt was an amazingly quick stitch ... a very simple design, regular repeats, just two colors ... what could be easier?

And, some progress on the Handblessings Autumn Leaves and Acorn bookmark ... not on my list of November goals but somehow, it seemed an appropriate piece to sneak into the rotation.

I find that concentrating on fewer projects at a time is a more effective way to meet my monthly goals. Even so, I feel a serious bout of startitis coming on. On one of the message boards I frequent, there was a link to the gift of stitching blog's monthly challenge ... a lovely little heart motif that I can just see repeated in a square as the basis for a biscornu. Then, while visiting a blog, I saw a floss tag made from plastic canvas that gave me ideas about using the leftover pieces from a Santa tissue box cover I made for my Mom years ago ... somehow I never seem to be able to throw away scraps since I am absolutely positive that I will eventually find a use for them ... and I always seem to, though it can be years in the making. So I just had to convert the current Prairie Schooler free chart, a little snowman in front of a Christmas tree measuring 30x34 stitches, to start making this somewhat larger than normal floss tag ... There are times when I have the stitching equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Though I label items in my monthly goals as focus projects, I do have a problem maintaining that focus. It is probably because the focus projects are BAPs and I am the sort of stitcher who needs a frequent change of pace, no matter how much I love the BAP in question. I rarely stitch on one project exclusively, from start to finish. The one time I did was last year, stitching the first four Sue Hillis' annual Santas one after another, with no other projects in between, from late Dec 2008 through early February 2009 ... followed by a six week period when I did no stitching at all ... not exactly the result I was seeking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another rushed and harried Friday

Today is Sarah's wedding day ... as both my god-daughter and my oldest niece, she holds a special place in my heart ... though I try not to play favorites among my 16 nieces and nephews. Between the getting ready for the day, the practicing of my reading [the Love is patient ... passage from Corinthians], the travelling [about an hours drive North] and the event itself, I imagine the only stitching I will do will be on the drive up.
Yesterday, I did manage to get a bit more done on the Colon Cancer block for Donna's charity auction quilt. This is such a simple design [with precisely regular repeats] that it is stitching up rather quickly. I expect to finish it tomorrow and get it in the mail by Monday. I'll post a photo in my Weekend WIP report post on Sunday evening. Speaking of getting things in the mail, I was able to get this month's giveaway and a small present for a stitching friend in the mail on Tuesday. The giveaway is going to the other side of the planet, so I have no idea how long it will take to make the trip ... but the stitching buddy lives in Maryland, so that one should be arriving any day now if it hasn't already. I hope everyone likes their packages.
Well, I'd best get back to the business of the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stitching For A Cure

There is a new fund-raising project on the Stitching For A Cure blog ... this time it is a quilt to be raffled off in the Spring. Apparently, the two Christmas trees were such great successes that Donna was encouraged to tackle another stitchery-related project. I am stitching the colon cancer block since that was the cancer that began my father's long battle with the disease culminating in his death in 1987 when the cancer metastasized and attacked the brain stem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Esmeralda finally has a house

After nearly two months of stitching, here is the finished Esmeralda's House from Brightneedle. It was supposed to be finished well before Halloween and made into a wall hanging for the holiday. But somehow, that didn't quite happen, but then there is always 2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Stash Enhancement and A Very Little Stitching

The weekend did not include all that much stitching since Saturday was a long workday with morning and afternoon classes instead of just the usual morning sessions. Then on Sunday, I finally made the rounds to Joanne's and The Happy Quilter for fabric needed for holiday finishing.

I have very nearly finished stitching Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House, only half of the front parlor on the first floor to cross-stitch and all the French knots to add on all the floors. I am going to be very sorry to finish stitching this piece ... it has been so much fun what with all the little unexpected details. The first picture is the tout ensemble and the second is a close-up of the first floor ... which I have now been working on for nearly three weeks, sad to say. Life and work do tend to get in the way of stitching goals. But it really is time to move on if I am ever going to finish TW's Autumn Faerie in time to have it framed as a Christmas gift for Angela. I found the perfect fabrics at The Happy Quilter for converting Esmeralda's House into a wall hanging. The colors work very well with the overdyed Silkweaver fabric on which the piece is stitched and pick up all the autumnal tones in the piece itself. And one more picture of a Halloween piece. I decided to make up the Cherry Wood Design Studio Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet as an ornament instead of as a tote as originally planned.

These two fabrics were purchased specifically for Sue Hillis' Annual Santas. Though the metallic creates quite a lot of glare making it hard to see, the medium and deep roses in the bottom fabric match the colors of Santa's clothing perfectly. I have the first four annual Santas stitched and want to make them up as flange pillows, in time for this Christmas ... since I never got around to it last year. The pillow forms are taking up an awful lot of room in my sewing finish basket. Once the pillows are made and displayed on the couch, the basket will look nearly empty which will give me a considerable psychological boost even though there will still be nearly a dozen projects left to sew. I figure this will be my Thanksgiving Break project, along with the finishes on the LHN Seasons of ... pillows for which I already have all the forms and buttons. All I need to do is assemble these four pillows.

The fabrics pictured below are fabrics purchased without a particular project in mind, but I am sure they will come in handy during my Christmas sewing. I also picked up some mattress tickingto finish up Sailor's Jig into a book tote which I shall stuff with books as one of my husband's Christmas gifts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth

Not so very unlucky at all. I managed to finish a few more small pieces.

Using some scraps of banding, I made a small change purse just large enough to hold one of those credit-card sized gift cards for next year's Halloween treats for my grandchildren ... just need to sew on a snap closure. The design is from Cherry Wood Design Studios and is the hat from the Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet chart. I repeated the design on the front and the back.

I also stitched the Thanksgiving free chart from the Stitcherhood and finished it as a fringed pillow ornament. I stitched the front as charted and then stitched a back that is a very close negative image of the front ... a few adjustments had to be made in the size and placement of the letters in the word THANKS.

And, using another scrap bit of linen, I stitched the rest of the Cherry Wood Design Studios chart mentioned above. I will stitch this up as a Trick or Treat tote later on this weekend. I have been going through my stash pulling out all the ornament sized remnants from other projects to use for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas ornament stitching. Every so often I get into a mood where I re-organize, use up and recycle the odds and ends in my stash of fabrics ... it's part of the program to simplify my life and go green and all that other good stuff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Winner and Some Sewing Finishes

I used an on-line randomizer, feeding in numbers 1 through 11 to choose the winner of the Sue Hillis chart package: # 3, Annette, aka stichinfiend. I e-mailed her for her snail mail address. And, since she responded almost immediately, she should get her package in the mail shortly. My thanks to all who participated in the giveaway. Check back on December 4 for my next giveaway which will be a finished Christmas ornament.

I had intended to spend most of today doing house cleaning and running errands ... well the house cleaning had to remain a part of the program but the errands, with the exception of some grocery shopping, have been replaced by some sewing. I really am just too tired to run around, driving hither and yon in a 50 mile radius getting all the errands done ... maybe I'll be up for it on Friday. We shall see.

In any case, here are the results of my sewing mini-marathon:
Some ornament finishes. First, The Prairie Schooler Christmas Tree. Second, the Have a Jolly Halloween ornament. Then, I finished Monsterbubbles' Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun into a mini wall hanging for my daughter, using a fabric that brought out the vibrant colors of the lettering

I also sewed some 32 ct scraps of linen together flea market style which I plan to use for a project featuring either Fall motifs or Halloween motifs or some old fashioned stitchers ... sampler style and with the sort of embellishments one sees on the Pin Tangle blog. I haven't decided just what I will do yet and will probably change my mind several times before I start the project. I'll probably finish the piece as either a pillow or a tote. As any reader can tell, I really like to keep my options open.
And then came an attack of startitis, beginning with Handblessing's Autumn bookmark and continuing with yet another Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet variation. This is from Cherry Wood Designs. I am using a scrap of linen that is not tall enough to include the charted hat above the lettering but I feel the design will stand quite nicely on its own feet. [Pun, pun ... you may all groan in unison!] I will stitch the hat, which is really quite cute, on its own, as a little pillow ornament. Finally, I made a lot of twisted cord to finish the ornaments pictured above ... some of which was made in the colors I actually needed ... Lesson learned: never choose floss for cord-making in a hurry and in poor light! I now have some blue grey/coral cord for which I will have to find a project. I was going for grey green/pale pumpkin. I ended up actually making a dark pumpkin/ecru cord because I couldn't find the exact colors I wanted in DMC ... unless I was willing to raid kitted up projects, which I most definitely was not.

Stitching While On Retreat [the religious kind]

I am back from a two day retreat [Sunday afternoon through Tuesday noon] for Certified [or certifiable] Coordinators and Directors of Religious Education. I brought my stitching bag along with me and worked on a few small unobtrusive projects during the talks, between taking notes. I listen better when my hands are busy, either with pen or needle. My gift of the framed piece quoting and illustrating Psalm 145 was well-received by Sister Joan, who does in fact appreciate the time and effort that goes into the needle arts. It was also ooohed and aaahed over by several others which didn't hurt my ego at all, at all.

Here are the results:

I finished this little Halloween ornament from Elizabeth Needlework Designs Have A Jolly Halloween ... I thought it came out rather well though I believe one strand would have been better for the vine and leaves than the charted two strands ... there didn't seem to be enough definition with two strands of floss lying so close to one another in the leaves and curlicues ... if I ever stitch it again, I'll make that change. I did switch out the suggested DMC to Belle Soie silks: Paprika, Creme de Menthe and Old Crow.

This next is as far as I have gotten on a free chart from The Stitcherhood entitled Give Thanks. Using Belle Soie Paprika, I stitched the first one exactly as charted. Using the same silk, I am stitching a second copy the reverse of the first with very few adjustments to the word Thanks to make everything fit. I'll finish it up as a fringed pillow ornament.

It was my intention to frog back to my error on the Peacock Biscornu and to work on Esmeralda's House as well but time did not permit ... so no joy there. I do have tomorrow off for Veteran's Day and hope to finish Esmeralda's House then ... after all I only have the front parlor on the 1st floor left to stitch as well as two spiders in the back hallway. But I also have to pick up some tulle for my niece's bridal veil and some rhinestones and a comb at the local JoAnne's which now requires a trip to the wilds of New Jersey since the local branch closed; drop off two pieces to be framed in a town at the other end of the county; and pick up some Christmas cottons at the quilt shop is still another area of the county. I am determined to get my Sue Hillis' Annual Santas 1-4 made up into pillows for this Christmas, hence the need for the fabric. For those of you about to suggest I save some time and pick up some Christmas prints at JoAnne's, I have this to say: the quality of the cottons at the quilt shop is far superior. Then, of course, there is the clean-up that invariably results from leaving my husband home alone for several days. He is the sort who can't find either the dishwasher or the clothes hamper without a GPS. I came directly to work from the retreat, so the condition of my home will be one more surprise in a day that has so far included the announcement that our office photocopier needs repair [some unidentified someone loaded the 8x14 tray with 8x13 paper which was clearly marked "for children's art work only" - resulting in major jams and total system collapse], that my secretary [daytime] and my assistant [evening] have been writing one another nasty notes in my absence, blaming one another for the glitches and failures to communicate. All I need is a messy kitchen, a coffee table piled with take-out remnants and a pile of dirty laundry in the bedroom to make my day complete.

So much for the monastic serenity I have been enjoying these past few days. Welcome back to the real world with a vengeance ... I think I'll just get back in the car and start driving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Decorating the Office

One of the best things about working with children [and there are many] is that one's spirit stays young and enthusiastic ... at least most of the time ... and decorating for ALL the various holidays and seasons is very much a part of that young-at-heart mind set. Here is a photo of a banner I will be posting on my office door starting this week ... it began life as a Silver Needle Secret Needle Night kit ... I totally agree with the sentiment ... Autumn Awes Me.

Autumn has always been my favorite season. I love the colors, the briskness in the air, apple cider, cinnamon donoughts, falling leaves crunching underfoot, trees revealing their essential structure, the harvest moon, the sky colors unduplicated in any other season ... in short, the whole package. It's rather funny that the SNN series on the seasons pretty much echoes my feelings: Winter does "snow" me; Spring does "bug" me, and while Summer doesn't always "suit" me, it does bring with it a lighter work load and a more livable work schedule.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not much stitching going on ...

... so I thought I would show you a piece I stitched and had framed about 10 years ago. I'll be giving this piece to a woman I respect a very great deal, Sister Joan Curtin. Sister Joan is the Director of Catechestics for the Archdiocese of New York and has held that position for 25 years. At the upcoming annual retreat for Certified Directors and Coordinators of Parish Religious Education Programs, we will be celebrating her anniversary. We were all asked to bring something to the celebration that was an example of our personal gifts. Some will be writing songs or testimonials [no doubt, some of those last in the form of "roasts"], others will be working as a group writing and performing skits, others will be sharing favorite stories ... but for me, cross-stitch says it best. And I think this quote from the psalms pretty much describes Sister Joan's life's work. This finish dates from a period when I wasn't too careful to note down the name of the design or where it came from but I am guessing it came from the magazine Celebrations, to which I subscribed many years ago. Excuse the glare please: this is an indoor picture of a piece framed with glass ... I accidentally deleted a better photo ... but I have to get this wrapped up for gift-giving and do not have time to photograph it again.

While the focus of the retreat will be spiritual, I will be bringing a number of cross-stitch projects with me ... to give my hands something to do as I let my mind and spirit regenerate. I am planning on bringing, a few small ornaments along to stitch unobtrusively while listening to lectures and witness talks. And for the down time in the evenings, when we all gather to socialize, I will have Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House. I am also thinking of bringing the Peacock Biscornu along ... maybe in the peaceful setting of the Franciscan monastery at Mt. Alvernia, I'll finally find the patience to frog back to my error and complete the piece.

Picking out this piece for Sister Joan has got me thinking that I really ought to do an inventory and photograph all the other finished and framed pieces that I have stored in a closet against the time I should need a gift for someone quickly. At this point, I am not even sure what I have in storage since all the pieces are wrapped in bubblewrap and brown paper. Though I have pretty much covered my walls with pieces that work with my decor, there are probably a few pieces in storage that I'd like to display. I'll probably have to start taking some of my current stuff down to do so, much the way I do non-framed finishes [stand-ups, easel-backs, pillows, bell-pulls and wall hangings]. Most of the non-frame finishes are seasonal and are rotated intentionally to decorate for the various holidays throughout the year. But, I am guessing, that when I finally unwrap and inventory all the framed pieces [about 20 or so] I am going to find things I had forgotten all about and will want to display or give to someone appropriate. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for photographs and descriptions.
I did finish the Pine Cone ornament and will be getting that off in the mail later this week. A photo will be posted when I have gotten word that it was received. And I stitched a quick little Prairie Schooler ornament, an old fashioned Christmas Tree lit with candles. I shall finish this as a padded flat ornament. I also started Elizabeth Needlework Designs' Have a Jolly Halloween but haven't gotten very far on that yet. And I downloaded a lovely Thanksgiving design that says quite simply "Give Thanks" in one of those monochrome designs ... a bit Quakerish looking. It is my hope that I'll have as many Fall/Harvest/Thanksgiving ornaments by Thanksgiving 2010 as I currently have for Halloween and Christmas. That way I will be able to keep my little wrought iron tree up in the entryway from October right through Christmas. Once that is done, I'll work on Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter ... which will keep the tree on display pretty much year round since I already have a number of patriotic ornaments as well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon ... And Climbing Back On

Yesterday's weigh-in was a disappointment but totally expected. Between the great food at the Mystic Retreat and Halloween and ordering out three times for lunch and twice for dinner last week [pressures of work], I consumed way too many calories these past two or three weeks. Didn't exercise at all either. Well, today is a new beginning. It's back to Amy's organic soup and a piece of fruit for lunch and home-cooked food for dinner ... though I will admit, working till 8:30 and then having to cook even a "quick" something is a real pain ... I think I am going to have to resort to a cracker-cheese-fruit platter and some crudities and low-cal dip with a nice pot of tea on the three evenings a week this happens. I am a morning person and my energy levels take a nose dive after 7:00pm.
And, Ange, if you are reading this ... you have my permission to begin intensive nagging therapy to get me back on my exercise program. We can give the respect due to your mother in all verbal communications a bit of a rest till I am back on track!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Checking in

Still can't post a photo since I am working on a gift as my focus WIP ... but I am really enjoying this piece ... partly because I have been enjoying the silk for cotton substitutions I made, and the back that I designed for it, but mostly because I have had the pleasure of meeting the stitching buddy for which it is intended. I have come up with a little brainstorm to personalize it in a special way ... and that is giving me a "happy dance" kind of feeling. This should be done today. Would've been done yesterday except that I was sidetracked by the arrival in the mail of the new J.D. Robb mystery, Kindred in Death. Instead of stitching in the evening as I usually do, I dove right into the book.
Getting back to Esmeralda's House after that will be fun: I only have one room left to do on this fun and funky piece. Hope to have that done by Sunday evening and to post photos at that time. The blog has been looking a little dull without photos lately.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Giveaway

I think I will continue last month's theme and stick to Christmas charts for my monthly giveaway. There is still time to incorporate them into a stitching rotation in time for a Christmas finish. And, of course, some folks enjoy stitching Christmas themed charts during the holiday season itself. I will be giving away the charts only [charms not included since I used them when I stitched the pieces] of Sue Hillis' Annual Charmed Santas: Gingerbread, Birdhouse, Noah's Ark and Stitcher. I believe the charms are still available from Sue Hillis' website. But, while the charms are very sweet little embellishments, the designs stand quite nicely without them. There will also be a mystery bonus ... another Sue Hillis Christmas season chart which shall remain unidentified to surprise and [one hopes] delight the winner. These charts are sized to fit into standard frames ... 8x10, I think. So if you are looking for ornaments, these aren't for you.

The usual conditions will apply:

---post a comment in the section below about why you would like to receive this giveaway.
---all stitcher's [international, Canada and USA] may participate.
---include your e-mail address if clicking on your name will not lead me to a profile that includes that information
---please commit to passing these charts forward or donating them to a women's shelter or prison when you are through stitching them ... this is unenforceable, I know, but my goal is to share my love of stitching with others who may not have seen some of my favorite designer's charts. I have been alerted to so many lovely new-to-me designers by reading the blogs of others that I would like to return the favor. Believe it or not, the very popular and widely known Sue Hillis was one of those 'new-to-me' designers which I discovered through the Eva's blog. Those of us who don't live near an LNS and shop online tend to revisit our established bookmarked sites and sometimes miss out on the wide variety available to us. Even when we visit broader sites like the Online Needlework Show, time does not permit looking at everything so we tend to scan those we think most likely to interest us. It's a rather hit or miss process!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Moving along nicely, thank you

Today is Election Day here in the states ... an off year so far as federal elections are concerned, but still important on a local level. The Parish Religious Education building is a polling place, so we will be having strangers in and out of the building all day. Consequently, no afternoon or evening classes ... can't have children in a building when strangers are walking in and out. The upside of this is that I get to go home in daylight and can add a little more stitching time to my day. I hope to squeeze in another two hours between the time I get home from work and the time I have to prepare supper. Happily, supper is just a matter of of converting last night's leftover pasta with tomato sauce made with sausage into a baked ziti casserole with the addition of ricotta, mozzarella, romano cheeses and some beaten egg and parsley. What could be easier?
My morning "before work" stitching time was spent on my pine cone ornament project ... all I have left to stitch on that is the over one monogram on the front, the back for the piece and, of course, I will be making a twisted cording hanger. Having finally mastered that skill after decades of stitching, I gleefully include cording in every project that is remotely appropriate. Since this is a gift for a reader of this blog, no photos just yet. With any luck, I will finish this piece today and get it in the mail by Thursday or Friday. Photos will be posted once I am notified that it has been received.
Once that project is done, I'll focus on finishing up Brightneedle's Esmeralda's House. All I have left to stitch on that is the front parlor and a few spiders in the back hall on the first floor plus all the French knots. While I generally like French knots, I have some very tiny black beads that would make perfect "victims" in the spider webs and dials on the TV and some very tiny orange beads that would look good as embellishment on the shoes under the bed. The noses on the mice will still be French knots, though. I wasn't able to finish this in time to make a wall hanging this Halloween which was a bit of a disappointment but there is always next year. And after that, I can either frog my mistakes in the Peacock biscornu and the Ghoulies and Ghosties Etui or I could stitch on TW's Autumn Faerie. I am sure you can guess what my choice will be.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rachel's Halloween SAL and other issues

First: Rachel [What Seems Like Mad On An Ordinary Day blog]suggested some of us do a Halloween SAL Saturday, choosing a Halloween project and stitching on it throughout the day. Well, here my photos of my chosen Halloween Day project, one of my current WIPs, Esmeralda's House by Brightneedle. Left: where I picked up the piece on Saturday morning. Right: After stitching for an hour and half before morning classes and for most of the afternoon, I got quite a bit done. The fact that there were only seven trick-or-treaters this rainy year as opposed to 50-60 last year may have had something to do with it. Lower Left: a close-up of my progress. I expect to have this piece finished by the end of the week.

Mystic Spooky Retreat: I haven't exhausted the topic of the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway Spooky Retreat but since I don't have any interesting photos to go with the commentary, I think it best to direct all interested parties to to read Sue's Fun Report when she recovers enough to post it. It may be a little while since Sue's schedule is jam packed. Sue works full time at a university in addition to running 3 or 4 retreats every year ... and she runs them entirely: getting the venue, signing up the teacher, vetting the project, putting together fabulous goodie bags and door prizes [I can't even imagine what her contact list is like for that chore], arranging for catering, field trips, on-site LNS, and all the amenities that we take for granted right down to water and candy [low may it be spoken] in the stitching room. Now Sue takes pictures, lots and lots of pictures ... so I am sure you will get a great deal of pleasure from reading her report.
Okay, on to the Finishes and WIPs:

Finish #1: Monsterbubbles Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun ... I plan to stitch a second one. That way I can give one to my daughter, Ange, and keep one for myself. This is the first piece I have stitched that called for Kreinik Cord. It was combined with one strand of GAST Clover pink to make the little ghost in the lower left corner. I am of two minds about this fiber. On the plus side: it is not nearly so delicate as blending filament and does not fray or break or seperate the way blending filament sometimes does ... and it does look lovely once stitched. On the minus side: being thicker/stiffer than blending filament, it does seem to kink every so often, making laying the fiber a bit tricky ... also, it doesn't travel through the linen at the same rate as the cotton floss it is paired with, making it necessary to pull each strand through the fabric seperately and it leaves a progressively shorter tail than the cotton in the needle as you stitch ... rather annoying, really. I have photographed Ghouls with the fabric I am planning to use for the finish ... it was meant to be an ornament ... but even stitched on 32 ct as called for, it is rather large at 4 5/8" x 4 7/8" ... so I am leaning toward finishing it as a mini wall hanging or bell pull. I could stitch the second one on 40ct though that would throw the Thread Gatherer Savoir Faire ribbon "hair" out of scale. Of course, I have some Thread Gatherer Chenille in a slightly different but still workable color way that would work with a 40ct fabric.

Finish #2: This one is both a cross-stitching and a sewing finish. Stitcher's Hideway Spooky Retreat Keepsake Halloween ornament. This was a quick stitch, as promised.
Finish #3: this time, it's a sewing finish. Here is my Prairie Schooler Partridge in a Pear Tree ornament from the JCS 2005 Christmas ornament issue.
WIP #1: The Brightneedle Ghoulies and Ghosties Etui. I tried shadow stitching an outline on only the left side of the capital F ... dreadful! Then I backstitched all around the letter ... even worse! I will simply have to bite the bullet and frog the letters done in the wrong color and re-stitch them. Like Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, I shall worry about that tomorrow. For today, I simply continued stitching the haunted house at the bottom. No photo here since there's been no progress since the last photo ... indeed, my decision to frog the letters will take me several steps backward.

WIP #2: See the Brightneedle Esmeralda's House pictured at the beginning of this post.

WIP #3: Although Rachel knows she is getting a pinecone ornament, she doesn't know what it looks like. So although I have started this and intend to focus on it this week, no photo will be posted till it is finished, sent and received.