Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Progress Report # 7 & # 8

Since I was sick for 8 days and consequently didn't post very often, this will be a catch-up report with photos of what was accomplished in the past two weeks.

Focus Project: TW Autumn Faerie: still no progress ...

Travel Project: Heartstrings' Santa Factory Card - Santa with Noah's Ark. This was finished earlier in the two week period and finished as a fringed ornament for my grandson whose middle name is Noah. All I need to do is make a braided cord hangar but that will have to wait till this evening. I need my husband's help to hold the ends of the cord taut while I work the drill. I have decided that I will stitch him a Noah's Ark ornament every year. This past Christmas, I gave him the Homespun Elegance Santa with Noah's Ark. I know Prairie Schooler also has one, which I will have to pick up for Christmas in 2011. Now, all I have to do is come up with a theme for my grandaughter who has been saddled with the name Piper by her oh-so-yuppie parents. Where did I go wrong?

Medium Project: Brightneedle's Ghosts & Ghoulies Etui. All I can claim to have done on this is to have taken it out, looked it over carefully and have come to the difficult decision that I really will have to frog out the over one stitching of the first line of the poem. But startitis hit with a fury during my convalesence. I needed the bright colors of Workbasket's Mermaids Singing and worked on that piece fairly steadily during the past week. It is a rather quick stitch as well as an enjoyable one. I anticipate being finished with this in early March.

New Start: I just couldn't help myself. This project has been burning a hole in my stitching bag since I got it at the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway. Chris of Chris' Collection [the LNS that sets up the on site shop at the hideaway] gave all in attendance this adorable little tuckaway pouch and a matching piece of fabric as well as some floss and a chart. I knew I wouldn't use the chart included because I had already stitched it earlier last year as a needlebook. I just couldn't decide what chart I wanted to use instead. Well, finally, I decided to use some Belle Soie silk [Blue Lagoon] to stitch a Quaker motif fragment from the Workbasket Quaker Sampler chart. Now all I have to do is decide whether I want to secure the insert with a few buttons or just with some very discreet stitches. The second photo shows the piece with some brass buttons with incised tracery similar to the pouch fabric print. I have only laid them on the piece and haven't decided yet whether I wish to sew them in place. Perhaps you guys can vote: buttons or plain. The pouch is just the right size for the hand-held calculator I always carry in my purse. I also had to start this little scissor keep from The Antique Sampler and Needlework Fall 2009 issue, using the triangular Tokens and Trifles. Since I didn't have the Kreinik silks called for I substituted similar shades of YLI silk that I had on hand ... though I have used a lighter shade of lavendar ... I thought the darker shade was rather jarring.

Ornaments: Bride Tree SAL, back of the January ornament: Done. I also managed to stitch a back for the above mentioned Santa With Noah's Ark, which will be the 2010 Christmas ornament for my grandson, Liam Noah. And I stitched my March Thanksgiving ornament using one of my old Homespun Elegance Wooly Tyme charts ... I had to finish it a month early since I mailed all the charts in that series to Myra who won the February Giveaway. I didn't want to violate of copyright laws. I am in the middle of assembling my January, February and March Thanksgiving ornaments and will have photos within a day or two. I also did the final assembly on my January Bride's Tree SAL ornament ... all I need to do is add a hangar ... and in keeping with the country primitive stle of the finish, I will probably use a bit of jute cord.
One more task I tackled this past week was organizing my button collection by color family, as I incorporated all the buttons from my mother's srash into my own.
All in all, I am satisfied with the progress I have made these past two weeks ... neglect of the Autumn Faerie notwithstanding ... especially when you consider that no stitching was done for five days while I was dealing with the worst of my bout with the flu or intestinal virus or whatever it was.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Apologies for a lengthy absence

Well my goal to blog every other day and post a weekly progress report each week-end has been laid low by an especially virulent intestinal virus combined with an unrelated but equally painful infection that laid me low for eight days start to finish. To indicate just how bad it got, I actually dragged myself to the doctor ... something I do only when at death's door [in my imagination, of course] or when my pharmacist will no longer renew my prescriptions without another doctor's scrip. In fact, at first, I thought the virus was a reaction the antibiotic I had been given for the infection. I had my first full meal last night after living on a dozen or so saltines daily and slowly sipped ginger ale or warm green tea since Tuesday. Not a bad way to start Lent, I suppose, but you'd think my body would have had the decency to attack stored fat in the meantime. Only lost one pound over the duration and given all the distress I went through to do that, I consider myself roundly cheated. While I was just dealing with the infection, I did what I call "clean-up" stitching, i.e.: stitching the backs for ornaments, backstitching and the like. Once the virus hit, though, I had little energy for anything but the illness, escaping into sleep between bouts. But yesterday, I emerged from my stupor and with a sore diaphraghm supported by pillows, sat again in my rocker and stitched.

I celebrated with a new start, Workbasket's Mermaids Singing. Not on my February goals list, I know, but I needed the cheerful colors. Stitching with WDW Blue Bonnet, Ocean, Blue Topaz, Peoria Purple, Aztec Red and Navy ... I am still working the border ... gave a lift to my spirits. I didn't use the recommended fabric because the color, a particularly acidic looking yellow green falsely called lime, was not to my taste. As a consequence, I may have to change out the color of the seaweed slightly ... the charted chartreuse will probably not look good against the blue green with hints of purple linen I am using. The fabric I am using is saddled with the rather Halloweenish name Monster Mash but is actually a lot prettier than that would imply. All the other fibers seem to work well with it ... but the chartreuse will have to be saved for another project ...

Sometime in the middle of the week, I received a wonderful gift from Casa Pearl, the chart for CHS The Gilded Cage, which I had admired as a WIP and finish on her blog. Also in the mail, my order from 123stitch with more 32ct flax Belfast linen so I will be able to get started on my February Bride's Tree SAL ornament. I'll be kitting it up soon. In the same order came all the DMC floss I needed to finish up a UFO that I plan to resurrect while the weather is still cool enough, the Jacobean Motif Afghan I started many years ago while still subscribing to Celebrations magazine.

Pictures will follow of all this ... but not today ... though no longer an invalid, I still consider myself a convalescent and am taking all things very easily. After all, I'll have a whole week's backlog waiting for me at work tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bride's Tree SAL

Though I can not claim to be a bride, having been married 39 years, I have joined this SAL. I had planned to make a Christmas ornament a month anyway this year but the notion of tying them all together with this lovely German tradition works for me. My husband is of German descent and we still correspond with his German cousins. This SAL is one way to honor his German heritage at Christmas. Currently, we honor it mainly with lots of calories: marzipan, stollen and spice cookies. Given our weight issues, the SAL seems to be a more sensible option.

Each month I will stitch a different motif into a Christmas ornament. Each motif symbolizes a value that promotes a long and happy married life. I intend these ornaments to look like a set and will be stitching them all on 32 ct natural linen and finishing them as fringed pillow ornaments of a similar size. The backs will include a date, a monogram with my husband's and my own initials and the stitched word naming the quality symbolized by the particular ornament.

January's Motif is a HOUSE symbolizing Protection or Shelter. I stitched the Workbasket Christmas House ornament from the 2007 JCS ornament issue using CC Belle Soie silks. I chose this because I like the vaguely Quakerish look to the design, especially in the roof line and chimney. I haven't yet stitched the back but I did spend a part of my lunch hour charting out a back using the word Protection, a date and a monogram for this piece.
Now I need to choose an ornament using February's motif: a HEART symbolizing True Love. Yesterday I checked my Workbasket binder to see if I had the February chart from the Quaker Odds and Evens series. I did not. I own only the Odds: January, March, May, July, September, November. I shall have to check out the website to see if the Evens chart for February is a Quaker Heart. I have this idea that I shall do my whole Bride's Tree SAL using Quaker style charts ... possibly all Workbasket charts as well ... making my Bride's Tree ornaments very unified and consistent in theme and style as well as in execution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February's Giveaway Winner

The Homespun Elegance Wooly Tyme charts have found a new home with Myra. I used the form at and came up with the number 17. The odd thing is that just before going all scientific and technological, I had asked my husband to pick a number between 1 and 23. The number he picked: 17. So I guess Myra was really meant to get these charts. In any case, I have e-mailed her asking for a snail mail address and will get these charts in the mail as soon as I can dig my car out.

I don't know if she will use them for ornaments, pin cushions, cupcakes or make herself a little sheep and stitch the designs as blankets as orginally charted. It should be easy to make a sheep pillow ... it is really nothing more than a very lightly stuffed rectangle made of wool felt with the upper corners slightly rounded and with a contrasting applique wool felt face with button eyes and long stitch nose. The pillow has an external, exposed seam ... no turning ... that could be further embellished with blanket stitch or finished with a French seam, if a cleaner and less primitive look is desired.

I just hope these charts give their new owner as much pleasure as they gave me. These were a lot of fun to stitch and worked up very quickly. Since I did use the GAST and WDW called for in the charts, they greatly enhanced my stash of overdyed cottons. I ended up buying a whole skein of some colors just to set 10 or 12 stitches in a one of the blankets. The GAST and WDW overdyes are wonderful and give a very distinctive look but I think the designs would look just as nice stitched up in DMC or Anchor [and for considerably less money].

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekend Progress Report # 6

The Focus Project: TW's Autumn Faerie: No photo - I haven't managed to stitch on this at all this past week since I have been working longer than usual hours in the parish. We had our first Father-Daughter Dance last Friday Night, wrapped up all the progress reports for Grade 1-6 for the first semester and all the 2nd quarter progress reports for the 7th grade this week and did the last of the Confirmation interviews this Saturday for the 8th graders. And in addition to that, we finalized all the paperwork on the biggest fund-raiser of our program, our Feb-May Calendar Raffle, and started drawing and notifying winners. Even with all the extra hours I worked, I am still behind in my correspondence, have some scheduling for the 7th grade Weekend Workshop to complete as well as a February Family Catechesis event to plan and staff. My secretary's hours have been cut to 18 from 25 as a budget measure, yet the workload increases as the Religious Education Program absorbs all the fund-raising chores of the defunct parish school [as well as some of the traditional community-building events run by the school ... as noted in the last post] as well as taking on a Mass Attendance project for the 2nd and 8th grade levels. There just aren't enough hours in the day. I have warned the pastor that I am rapidly approaching burn-out and that if he wants me to return in Sept. for my 17th year as CRE, I need more help. My days are becoming consumed with tasks not in my official job description of religious education and formation for the children and families of the parish. I am an educator, not an accountant, by training and temperament ... and I am drowning in paperwork. I come home and collapse. I am in no shape to tackle something as complex as a TW piece.
Thanksgiving Ornament - Pilgrim Boy and Girl from BH&G 1001 Cross-stitch Motifs: the stitching is finished but I haven't gotten to the sewing finish which I plan to do as a flat ornament backed with padded cardboard and trimmed with handmade braid. Even though the backstitched mouths on these characters are absolutely straight, they both look rather glum. I figure once I pop the piece from the hoop and put it through a very gentle hand washing and pressing, they should cheer up considerably. Tension hoops always tend to pull fabric in crazy directions.

Heartstrings Santa with Noah's Ark: This has been my travel project and I have worked on it at lunch time and during my one waiting room stint this week, at the car dealership [the second such visit in four days]. So I have to be content with some noticeable progress on this piece, even though I had hoped to have it finished by now. All that's left is a bit of the green on the cuffs, the roof & windows of the ark, Santa's face and beard and the specialty stitches [very few of them]. Since we are expecting snow Tuesday and Wednesday, I may have more stitching time if I have to cancel classes. So there's hope I'll catch up with my self-imposed schedule.

But, overall, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to meet all of my monthly or annual goals if this rather slow pace continues. The Autumn Faerie was supposed to have been done in January and I was supposed to have been able to tackle two more BAPs this year: the TW Woodland Angel Stocking for my grandson and the TW Winter Faerie for my daughter. I think I need to admit that the Winter Faerie probably won't happen this year. As to monthly goals for February, I haven't gotten to the Brightneedle Ghosts & Ghoulies Etui or the Papillion Creations Peacock Square, nor have I selected and kitted a chart for the February Bride's Tree SAL motif, a heart. There are two bright spots in all this: I am really treasuring every moment I manage to spend stitching and I have been blogging a little more regularly [one of my annual goals].

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When our parish school closed its doors in June 2008, my Religious Education Program became the only remaining "institution" serving large numbers of families ... and, as a result, became the primary community-building group for families. Incidentally, we also became the primary user of the school building with all the financial responsibilities that entails. So, the first school year, 2008-09, I inherited all the fund-raising formerly done by the school in addition to all I had previously done on my own. This school year, 2009-2010, I revived the Valentine's Father Daughter Dance.
Well, the snow stopped south of us ... thank God ... and I survived running my first Father-Daughter Dance for the parish. It was fun but exhausting. Since I wasn't really sure if it would be a go, I waited till yesterday morning to do all the shopping for beverages, snacks and door prizes. Just last week, it looked like we'd have to cancel since only 30 or so girls had signed on. But last night there were about 70 girls and their Dads dancing, eating, drinking [water bottles and Capri Sun pouches for the girls, coffee for the Dads] and having a grand old time. We staged a Chinese Auction for prizes ranging from an IPodNano [which I managed to get at Costco for only $133.50], an I love to read basket with a $25 Barnes & Noble GC and lots of goodies to eat, a Chix Flix bowl filled with microwave popcorn packs and a $15 GC to Blockbuster, a Pamper Yourself basket with a $25 GC to a local day spa and lots of nail art, nail polish and a light cologne, Simply Cotton, from Mary Kay. We also had a basket with a number of ITune cards in various denominations, all wrapped up and attached to ribbons ... as a girl's ticket # was called, she got to tug on a ribbon and keep the card attached. But the real joy was watching Dads in suits dancing with tiny little girls in fancy party dresses. One of the highlights of the evening was near the end when two of the girls got up on stage to announce that since they hadn't gotten to dance with their Dad - he was the deejay - then were going to give him a great big hug ... which they did to a standing ovation. I had a great committee who did the really tough stuff: getting the deejay, decorating the gym with white tulle bunting wrapped around fairy lights and huge red tulle bows, and helping with the clean-up.
Okay, so which old school tradition do I revive in 2010-2011: the Mother Son Bowling Tournament or the Christmas Pageant? You vote!
P.S.: not much stitching went on this past week ... surprise! surprise!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February Giveaway

Earlier this week, I pulled out my Homespun Elegance Sheep as a Valentine's Day decoration. This little guy has a blanket for each month of the year. The charts were issued as the Wooly Tyme Club. These charts are all quite lovely and are perfectly sized to make ornaments, cupcakes, and pin cushions as well as the blankets for the sheep, as originally designed. Obvously, I have used the charms that came with each chart in my own stitching but the designs can stand alone quite easily. The charms were true "embellishments" and were never intrinsic to the design itself. Although this is an older Homespun Elegance Design, I believe it is still in print so anyone wishing to stitch it as originally designed should still be able to order the sheep pillow. The photos below show the designs for the other months of the year.

March, April & May

June, July & August

September, October & November

December and January

If you wish to enter your name for this charts only giveaway, the usual conditions will apply:
-- open to all stitchers
-- leave a comment below as to why you are interested in the giveaway
-- include an e-mail address in your post if clicking on your name will not lead me to an e-mail link -- a winner will be selected on the 10th of the month and informed by e-mail
-- winners are asked to commit to PIF charts to other stitchers through message boards, guilds or stitching groups or to donate the charts to a women's shelter or prison, a nursing home or some other venue where a stitcher would enjoy them

Thanks for visiting my blog and good luck to all who choose to enter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And a few more Valentine's Day pieces ...

Now that even the very last stray Christmas decoration has been properly stowed away for next year, it is time to put out the Valentine's Day decorations. I don't have many stitched decorations since I mostly decorate with table linens, candles, flowers and my collection of ruby red glass. But such as they are, they are photographed below.

The Homespun Elegance Wooly Tyme design for February: I'll find a place for this little guy in the living room. I think he will look just great against the dark green suede cushions of my sofa.

An old Secret Needle Night project [from The Silver Needle in Tulsa]: this piece will come to work with me and grace the door of the Catechist Resource Room cum Copy Room cum Break Room. I don't usually do the fussy, girly-girl kind of ribbons and lace kind of thing, but somehow Valentine's Day just cries out for that sort of thing. A close up of the ribbon shows that it is decorated with white-on-white embroidered hearts ... one of my A.C. Moore finds and perfect for this piece.

The one thing I regret not being able to show is an anniversary sampler I stitched a little over two years ago. I loved every minute stitching on it because it used traditional sampler symbols to "list" all the qualities that go into a healthy and lasting marriage. But, alas, it has been lost along with the birth announcement I stitched for my first grandchild. The framer to whom I entrusted those two pieces lost his wife shortly after I dropped the pieces off. Since his wife was his business partner as well as his life partner, he lost all heart and closed the business. At the time, he promised to finish my framing in his home workshop since I had been such a steady customer over the past fifteen years. Well, he never did and all attempts to contact him have failed. I don't care about the deposit ... all I want are the stitched pieces. That anniversary sampler would have been the perfect Valentine for my husband ... although I had originally intended to give it to him as an anniversary gift in 2008. Eventually, I will restitch the design but not quite yet. It was one of those European designs with two tricky semi-regular repeat motif borders around a rather elaborate central medallion. I keep hoping against hope that I'll be able to reach my old framer through my new framers with whom he has a tenuous on-again-off-again professional relationship. Even so, I can't find it in my heart to blame Bruce ... losing Diane devastated him.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Valentine's Day Ornament Tree

I have enough heart ornaments [just barely] to keep the ornament tree up in the entryway for the month of February. But once the 15th rolls around, the tree will be retired until Halloween ... the next season for which I have a sufficiency of ornaments. One of my goals in 2010 is making a Thanksgiving ornament each month, which will keep my little table top ornament tree "dressed" between Halloween and Christmas. I figure, in 2011, I'll work on Celtic ornaments to dress the tree for St. Patrick's Day and then in 2012, move on to Easter ornaments.
Part of the problem is that, although I make quite a few ornaments for all seasons, I give most of them away. For the next few years, I will make an effort to stitch primarily for my own home and for my own pleasure. Generosity is a virtue, to be sure, but I'd like to be able to display my own work in my own home as well.