Saturday, July 31, 2010

Assessing July Goals, Setting August Goals

JULY GOALS: I have been on vacation the entire month of July and had hoped to accomplish a bit more than usual. But I have not done nearly as much as planned.

SALs and RRs:
Bride's Tree SAL: June Fruit Basket and July Fish. And assemble the May ornament. NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH.
Town Square SAL: Val's Stuff's Train Depot. DELAYED - NEED TO ORDER SOME FIBERS.
Linda's RR: stitch and mail Dolores' piece to Linda on or about July 15. DONE 7/14/10.

Thanksgiving Ornament: Assembly finish of the April, May & June Thanksgiving ornaments. Choose a motif from CEC Thanksgiving Circle and stitch as an ornament.
Christmas Piece: Sue Hillis' Cookie Baking Santa
UFO>WIP: Peacock Biscornu and Midnight Moogies.

Focus Projects:
Medium Project: Workbasket's Mermaid Solo. DONE 7/16/10.
Baptismal Stole for Elizabeth Cora. DONE 7/11/10.

Sewing Finishes:Take care of one or two from the backlog basket. Keep up with ornament and any other finishes for this month. Keep up with weekly classes in Sharon B's online quilting class. STILL NOTHING.


SETTING AUGUST GOALS. This is a busy time at work, so I'll be adjusting my expectations downward this month.

EXCHANGES, SALs and RRs: I am going to defer all self-imposed goals on the SALs to September which I will designate as a catch up month. This will leave only Linda's RR because there is an August 15th deadline and the Christmas ornament Exchange with an August 30th deadline.
Linda's RR:
Christmas Ornament Exchange:

Monthly Projects: No set projects this month, I'll just be filling in the empty spaces, should any develop, with whatever strikes my fancy.

Focus Projects:
BAP: Still TW's Autumn Faerie, now that I have recovered my focus. I hope to complete Section 1 and start on Section 2, back-stitching as I complete each section.

Sewing Finishes:
Play a little catch up on the Crazy Quilt Square.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Christmas ornament exchange

Linda, the organizer of the round robin in which I am currently participating, has bravely organized a Christmas ornament exchange. I say bravely because of all the trouble we had with one stitcher in the round robin, a stitcher who was ultimately dropped from the rotation, but only after one participant's piece went missing. I used to participate in regular Halloween ornament exchanges when a member of a Yahoo group and thought this might be fun to try again. A lot of the stitching bloggers I follow participate in exchanges on a regular basis and it is always interesting to see their photos of pieces sent and received. I've been reminded of classic designs I liked in old JCS ornament issues and have discovered some new finishing techniques and materials while looking at exchange photos. And then, of course, there is the simple pleasure of getting something in the mail that is not a bill or a piece of junk mail ... rare enough in this electronic age.

So, I have picked out a lovely little chart, gathered together some floss and some beads, selected a fabric and am ready to do a little community building in the stitching world. Thank you, Linda. Photos to follow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Progress Report #28

SALs and RR:
Linda's RR: Finished Dolores's piece on 7/14 and mailed it off on 7/16.
Town Square SAL: Val's Stuff's Train Depot, when attempting to kit this up I discovered I don't have any 28ct cashel linen in shades of blue [plenty in 36ct and even 40ct] and was also shy several needed WDW colors. So I placed an order with 123 stitch.

Focus Piece:

Medium Project: Workbasket's Mermaid Solo, Finished this one on 7/16, making my 26th stitching finish which averages out to a little less than one finish a week.

As I said, not an awful lot of stitching going on this past week. Reading seemed a more appropriate leisure activity and I did whip through Nora Roberts' The Search and Catherine Coulter's Whiplash ... both typical poolside reads ... thrillers with just enough plot and characterization to keep one interested but nothing that really taxed the intellect. I also read the very disappointing Time Together by Carol Burnett ... not much to it and what there was, was a rehash of what any fan already knew.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Which UFO shall become my next WIP?

I have so many UFOs, mostly class pieces that never were completed once I got home and back into my usual stitching routines. I'd like to resurrect one in the month of August and see if I can complete it. So I put it to you, dear readers, which of the following do you think most worthy? I list them in no particular order ... or rather, in the order that I pulled them out of the basket.

Lori Birmingham's Pansy Garden Natucket Style Basket. This is a stump work project, billed as being easy enough for beginners. Pro: I have invested a great deal of money in this project, having paid for the class and purchased the basket. This will make a highly decorative sewing or project basket. It will be an interesting challenge since I've never worked with this style of embroidery. I have a thing for pansies, since they are my husband's favorite flower. Con: It's been 5 years since I took the class and, while I am as capable as anyone of reading directions, that's still a long time between the lesson and the implementation. It also looks like it will be a labor-intensive and time consuming project. And, for all that I worked diligently for the full two hours of the class, I have very little accomplished ... so it will be very much a case of starting nearly from scratch.

Karen Bovard's Filet Lace Name Class Piece. I took this class because I was enchanted by the photo of the finished piece ... talk about great marketing!!! However, I was incredibly bored by the actual class. Pro: the finished project is very desirable, always provided I do a good job. Con: I don't think I'll really enjoy working on this project, though who knows, if I develop a rhythm with this technique [as Ms. Bovard predicted] I may begin to like the process ... and I am as much a process as a project stitcher.

Catherine Jordan's Pretty Picot Edges. This was put aside because I think I messed up but frankly, I don't know enough about the techniques involved to be sure of that. Pro: Mastering the techniques in the projects in this class pack will be very useful in non-framed finishing of my other projects. I have plenty of suitable materials in my stash of banding and perle cotton to practice the techniques even after I have used up the class materials provided. I am very interested in mastering these skill sets. Con: Another long lapse, four years, between class and implementation. Possible frogging issues, if I ever figure out if I indeed made mistakes.

Phyllis Maurer's Japanese Kogin Tea Cozy. Another really attractive project. Ms. Maurer gave a great class with very clear written instructions for the actual stitching, though not for the sewing finish. Pro: I have many teapots that would look great dressed in this lovely cozy. The blue perle flosses that came with the project match my everyday china which includes a teapot. The actual technique is not difficult but does require careful attention to counting. Con: Considerable concentration would be required to make sure all the counting is correct. The sewing finish might be a bit problematic since I've only got a photo to go by. Spatial intelligence is definitely not my forte so working from a two dimensional photo to a three dimensional finished object could be an issue.

The Sweetheart Tree Holly & Hearts Sampler. A really great project. The only reason I put it down was because it requires intense concentration and I intended to pick it up again after a brief respite devoted to simple stitching. Pro: I am nearly half done with this project. It has loads of specialty stitching to keep up my interest. There are enough different fibers used in the project to keep it interesting texturally. The finished project will be gorgeous. Con: There is an awful lot of ever so slightly asymmetrical back-stitched tracery that requires very careful counting ... this is what had me crossing my eyes when I put it down the last time.

Victoria Sampler's Mystic Needle Smalls. Another really great project. I was going great guns on it and then just ran out of steam. I guess I just needed a change of scene. But I never did get back to it. Pro: a delightful project with lots of parts, a lovely design, some hardanger and specialty stitches to keep it interesting. I plan on taking another class with Thea next summer and it would be nice to have this set completed and displayed at my station at that time. Con: There is just so much of it, lots of parts. And, I haven't done any hardanger in about three years.

Brightneedle's Ghosts and Ghoulies Needle Smalls. A really cool exclusive class piece. Pro: the design is very appealling and the needlebook, biscornu and scissor fob set will make a very nice addition to my stitching accessories. Con: There are too many oh so similar symbols used in the chart ... virtually indistinguishable from one another on the one page chart ... causing me to use the wrong shade of silk for the lettering ... frogging over one is so tedious. Using the larger chart provided will alleviate that problem, but my personal preference has always been for one glance sees all sort of deal ... and why provide a one page chart when you are aware that it is conducive to errors ... actually, why use such similar symbols in the first place. I don't know at whom I am most annoyed: myself for making the error or the designer for making such a misleading chart.
So, please take a minute to vote in the poll in the sidebar and help me to make a decision.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another installment of the Round Robin

This one was great fun since Dolores chose a chart from one of my favorite designers, Prairie Schooler, as the basis for her piece. The chart is called Prairie Lodge and is an OOP Prairie Schooler leaflet. I chose to stitch the squirrel. Family legend has it that my first word was "quirrel" so it seemed most appropriate. I have always enjoyed watching the antics of these acrobatic little animals ... apparently from my earliest days sitting in a pram right down to the present. I feed both birds and squirrels from October through May and have never understood the dismay most other backyard bird lovers feel when the clever squirrels filch a small meal from the birdfeeders. If they get too greedy, I just set out a tray of peanuts for the squirrels alone. For the most part we see grey squirrels and a few chipmunks here in southern NYS ... but the past few years I have noticed a black squirrel ... no doubt a refugee from Mirkwood.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed stitching the squirrel. According to Patricia Andrle and Lesley Rudnicki, authors of Sampler Motifs and Symbolism, the squirrel symbolizes both frugality and a person who sows the seeds of dissension. There is a member of my family who has both these qualities ... to the nth degree ... and it always amuses me to think of this person as I stitch squirrels. But almost immediately, my Catholic guilt kicks in, causing me to be thoroughly ashamed of my uncharitable thoughts and prompting me to pray for patience in dealing with this person. A conscience is a most inconvenient thing, spoiling my fun and interfering with a little private indulgence in snide sanctimony. The good nuns did their job all too well! Damn!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Ideal Stitching Group

In a recent blog entry, Anna [of the Stitch Bitch blog] was discussing the ideal stitching group ... and it got me dreaming a bit. I have been to stitching retreats and conventions ... but without a local needlework shop in my area as a networking base, I've never been a member of a stitching group. There is a local EGA chapter in the county but it meets at a time that makes participation for me impossible 10 months of the year, September - June. But drawing on my experience at retreats and classes, I have come up with the following admittedly elitist list:

1. All members should have moderate to advanced skills.

2. All members should be unafraid of high count linen, silk, specialty stitches and any other esoterica of the craft.

3. All members should have some sense of how textile arts have always been a means of artistic expression for women, especially when such means were few.

4. Conversation when in session should range beyond last night's trash TV though it need not be so high-minded that only PhDs can follow the discussion ... a happy medium is all one can reasonably expect.

5. Politics and religion may be discussed but only if the conversation remains rational and civil ... people should be able to agree to disagree intelligently and graciously ... and no one should be allowed to reference the political gurus of talk radio, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.

6. Food should be served only if the group is meeting for three or more hours and then only in a different room/area.

7. All discussion of ailments, children, grandchildren, in-laws, husbands/lovers, etc should be severely limited. However, discussion of books, movies, local restaurants, local theaters, concerts, travel, food/recipes, craft shops/fairs, other hobbies would be encouraged.

8. An interest in new designers, new materials, new techniques would be a plus ... as would any interest in the unusual, the witty, the whimsical ... no prudes need apply.

9. People so immersed in the craft that they have attempted to do a bit of designing themselves would also be most welcome.

10. Age would not be a factor ... a multi-generational group, especially among women, can be a very good thing ... verging on tribal, in the very best sense of the word.
I'd be curious to know what others think. So please feel free to leave a comment: agreeing or disagreeing with items on my list, adding criteria of your own or detailing your personal experiences [good, bad or indifferent] with stitching groups.

Weekend Progress Report #27

Talk about working to deadline. The Baptismal stole was finished at 10:45am. Since I had to get ready for the 11:30am Mass, I didn't even have time to take a photo and I forgot to bring my camera with me to take a photo at the Baptism, which was right after Mass.

And now I shall get back to my July goals: first up will be the RR that needs to be mailed by the 15th and then I'll work on catching up with all the stitching and finishing of the Thanksgiving ornaments.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July Giveaway winner

I have said it before and, no doubt, will have occasion to say it again: I am always amazed by which giveaways generate a lot of interest and which do not. I was very much surprised by the response to this giveaway ... it has been much smaller than I thought it would be. I can only conclude I am very much out of step with the majority of stitchers ... even my most popular giveaways seem to top out at around 20 or so responses. I have seen other blogs where the responses to giveaways number 50 or more. No matter! I shall continue to offer my gently used charts to those who share my somewhat eccentric tastes. It seems silly to hang onto charts that I have already stitched and will never stitch again when others may benefit ... and when I need to de-clutter my stitching center.

The winner of the six Secret Needle Night charts is #10, Donna, whom I will e-mail shortly.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Baptismal Stole

In light of the last two posts about my contractor nightmares, it is lovely to get back to a little stitching therapy. I am immersing myself in this project and thinking only happy thoughts. And since I really do need to give myself up to this project almost to the exclusivion of all other activities, I expect to be a much calmer person by the end of the day.
This needs to be completed by Sunday afternoon ... nothing like working to deadline to get the adrenaline revved. The stole itself is made from a sewing linen as opposed to one designed for cross-stitch. I am guessing it has 48 threads to the inch, judging by the fact that the completed 15 stitch [over two] high letters measure just about 5/8ths of an inch. I am stitching the block letters without a chart, counting as I go, to keep them consistent both in size and style ... just like stitchers in the 18th and 19th centuries must have done when marking their household linens. I feel positively historical !
Since this is for an 8 year old girl whose mother has described her as "definitely NOT a girly-girl", I used a very subdued and plain lace trim for the edging. Elizabeth Cora explained her favorite color is light blue, so I am using Belle Soie Bahama Blue for stitching the name on the right flap of the stole. I plan to run down to the office tomorrow to photocopy a worksheet we use with 5th graders, all the symbols of Baptism [shell, water, candle, chrism] ... I'll enlarge the shell and water droplets to make a motif for the left side of the stole ... I'll use the stem stitch to outline the shell and satin stitches for the water droplets ... a brass metallic for the shell and the same blue silk for the water droplets as for the letterring. I started stitching from the bottom and thus far have only stitched the E-T-H of Elizabeth. I will center C-O-R-A beside E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H. I really like the way the Belle Soie Bahama Blue looks ... just dark enough to be seen but still pale enough not to detract from the symbolism of the white garment.

Most Baptisms at Immaculate Conception are infant baptisms and the "white garment" used in the ceremony is a bib. Adults baptized at the Easter vigil Mass are given white choir robes. The deacon and I decided we had to come up with an alternative more suitable to this situation ... hence, the stole. My only fear is that I have set a precedent and will be expected to come up with a personalized stole for all older children's baptisms ... and I may not always have the time to do a proper job. My good friend John [the deacon] has already mentioned that the bibs for the infants ought to be personalized with their names because "we know the names way ahead of time". Non-embroiderers have no clue how much time is involved in the craft. I think John was disappointed when I suggested he talk to the Prayer Shawl Ministry committee about the bibs ... he probably expected me to step right on up, in spite of the fact that running a ten month Religious Education Program for 500 children, grades 1-8, takes up a wee bit of my time. I may talk to the pastor in August about setting up another committee for Baptisms, perhaps called the White Garment Committee. If I can get a committee up and running, I'll design the bibs but I will ask others to stitch them. Just don't anyone tell John!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chaos Subsides Slowly ... but the frustration remains

This is the last time I will ever leave my husband in charge of dealing with contractors ... The patio extension is twice the size [and cost] I wanted and we now have a fancy quarried stone planter box going across the whole the front of the house that I didn't ask for and at an additional $1800 ... well there goes any hope of getting a china cabinet for the dining room. Re-configuring my dining room was going to be my stay-cation project. It was going to be a way of jump-starting the kitchen re-hab by cleaning out some of my kitchen cabinets into the now in-my-dreams-only china cabinet and doing a general clean and de-clutter of all the remaining kitchen cabinets. I have a meager $200 left in my home improvement account and have to start saving all over again. I figure this puts me at least 6 months behind in my master plan. And I can't even kill the wretched man since I don't have sufficient bail money or court costs ... though I don't think a jury of my true peers [wives of many years] would ever convict me. The frigging planter box will have to remain empty of plants because I haven't the money to buy any ... You'd think, after being married to the man for 39 years, I'd know that he always thinks he can "improve upon" my priorities and budgets and that I'll be delighted by his creativity. I love him dearly but at the moment I want to strangle him very very slowly and very very painfully. In future, all contracts and/or estimates will require my signature before the contractors can order so much as a brick!
Because the project was expanded, I'll be stuck at home tomorrow as well, while the men finish up the job. Another day of no air-conditioning because all the doors, front and back, are wide open. Another day of masonry dust choking the air. Another day of five or six sweaty shirtless men speaking languages I don't understand tromping back and forth through my home. Another day of not being able to use my driveway. They say they only need a few hours to finish up but if tomorrow is as hot as today, that will slow them down considerably ... or they'll fit me in "around" other scheduled jobs, meaning I'll be waiting around, unable to run the simplest errand, for fear that's when they'll choose to show up.
And just to add the perfect touch to a very crazy day: I just went out front to check on the planter box I didn't want. They built it around the entire front of the house and buried the gas meter! So now I can look forward to an argument with the firm's owner in the morning when I insist that they dismantle that end of the planter and rebuild it to end before the gas meter ... oh and, by the way, fill in the blacktop that was cut away in error. What kind of an idiot builds a planter around the gas meter? Where was the owner when his laborers destroyed my driveway to do so? All I can say is, I'll happily cut a check for the patio but I am not paying for the planter box till the error is corrected.
I know that when I calm down, I'll find reasons not only to accept but actually to enjoy the "new and improved" version of this phase of the renovation, at least, once the front of the house is repaired at the contractor's expense ... I'm just not sure how long it's going to take me to calm down ... a day, a week, a month, a year?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And Chaos Shall Reign

Tomorrow, we are having our patio of paving blocks extended and an old dilapidated shed removed from the back yard. Most days, I love townhouse living with its easy maintenance, low utility bills with only two exposed walls to leak air-conditioning or heat, and the compact and convenient living space. BUT whenever we have yard work done, all the tools and materials need to be tracked through our rather narrow hallway and through the living room ... furniture has to be moved to the edges of the room, rugs need to be covered and protected, laborers need to be cautioned politely to clean their boots and not to mark the freshly painted walls [what's Spanish for "Please be careful" ?] To make matters worse, the weather promises to be brutal ... I'll be providing these guys with a constant stream of water and juice ... and worrying about them dehydrating or having heatstroke. I think I'd better run out for some Gatorade as well. I know these guys come from a country where this sort of weather is the norm but I can't help projecting my Northeastern USA discomfort onto them. The next steps in the master plan for my backyard retreat are to paint the dreary concrete retaining wall at the back with sparkling white and replacing the aging chain link fencing with pretty white heavy duty vinyl fencing, 6 foot high and wall-like ... making the backyard more of an outdoor living room. I can paint the retaining wall this Fall when the weather begins to cool and plan on replacing the fencing in the Spring. My youngest son used to work for a fencing company and knows how to do the installation, so all I need to do is save for the fencing itself ... and then pay him and a few buddies a reasonable amount to install it.
Since I won't be able to use my living room tomorrow, I'll be setting up my dining room as a sewing station and see if I can get a few pillow and tote finishes done. I am hoping I have enough money left in my home improvement account after I pay for the yard work to buy a china cabinet for the dining room this weekend, taking advantage of the extended 4th of July sales. Then, it is onward and upward to saving for a kitchen re-hab ... now that we have an empty nest, we are fixing up all the wear and tear that raising a family caused ... and changing the look from tattered, worn-out country to something a bit more sophisticated ... a sort of upscale rustic Maine cabin with a bleached driftwood finish to the wooden cabinets to work well with the Pergo flooring of dark grey stone pattern and the black and stainless steel appliances. I also want to get rid of the dreadful sandpainted wall and ceiling treatment that came with the house and I'd love to bump out the one kitchen window to have a sort of bay window herb garden/greenhouse arrangement. It shouldn't take me more than a year to save the money, barring car-tastrophes or other unexpected expenses. I also have four pieces of antique furniture that need to be professionally refinished: an old ice box that I will be giving to my youngest son, my grandmother's dressing table that will become a fixture in my sewing room to be, a lovely old pine dresser that will go in the master bedroom and a free-standing Hoosier kitchen cabinet that I'd like to finish the same as the kitchen cabinets. Empty nesting has some unforeseen expenses of its own ... converting the place into a comfortable retreat for an older couple rather than a functional home base for a growing family of five.

Weekend Progress Report #26

It is already halfway through the year ... as I age, time has a nasty habit of accelerating ... when all I want to do is slow down and savor the moments.

I am again a day late in reporting on last week's progress ... but this time for the very good reason that my 4th of the month giveaway preempted this post ... and not because I am just too disorganized to get my photos taken in the proper time frame. Anyway, that's my story.

I have pretty much been ignoring the stated goals [sometimes I wonder why I bother setting them when I am so quick to abandon them as the mood suits] and am still playing with luscious color. Mermaid Solo from Workbasket's leaflet I Heard the Mermaids Singing has been my primary focus.

I also managed to sew together the baptismal stole for the young 8 year old girl I have been preparing for the sacrament. Now, all I need to do is embroider her name and an appropriate baptismal symbol on the piece ... I plan on stitching a simple shell in bronze metallic to match the one that will be used in church and some water droplets in the same pale Belle Soie Bahama Blue I am using for her name. Her mother assures me she is NOT a very girly girl [hence the very subdued lace trim] and she herself told me her very favorite color is light blue. Since the baptism is on July 11, this will be my primary focus over the next few days.

In addition, I downloaded and printed all the remaining lessons in my Encrusted Crazy Quilt online class ... I'll be working on that for the remainder of this month. I did run out of page protectors as I put them in the binder ... but then I went through my stash binders, clearing out all the charts I plan to add to my monthly giveaway tote and discarding all the old magazine charts I'll never stitch again [mostly Christmas stuff from the days when my children were young]. Voila, more than enough page protectors. I have only two binders left to go through and reorganize. Right now I have my to-be-stitched charts organized by theme. I want to set up one binder of already stitched charts organized by designer. Even though I have been culling charts ruthlessly, there are still some I have no intention of parting with ... I guess there is still some of the greedy acquisitive collector left in me, in spite of my best efforts to simplify my life.

And, I tried to kit up my next piece for the Town Square SAL, Val's Stuff's Train Depot, only to discover that the fabric I had planned to use, though the right color family, was the wrong count: 36ct while the other two pieces I have done were on 28ct. So there is some stash diving in my future as well. And, in spite of a fairly deep stash of WDW, I found I am missing three quarters of the fibers necessary to complete this piece ... I'll be calling the folks at 123 stitch on Tuesday.

All in all, not a stellar week so far as stitching progress goes. Summer does tend to slow me down. More reading & container garden puttering, less stitching. Then, too, during the most brutally hot days, after the workday ends, I have parked on the sofa in the air-conditioned living room to watch our current Netflix subscription arrivals: 10 episodes of Law & Order season 7 as well as 4 episodes of House season 5. Not the most productive use of my time, to be sure, but as I approach the six decade mark I find I am wearing down a bit.

Next week, I will be tackling housework during the day, now that I have closed my office for the month of July. So the only stitching goals I am setting myself for the coming week are:
1] finishing the baptismal stole so that it can be used in next Sunday's ceremony
2] stitching Dolores's piece in the RR since it needs to be mailed by July 15th.
3] finishing the Mermaid Solo.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July Giveaway

For those of you who are looking for some of the older and less fussy Secret Needle Nights [from The Silver Needle in Tulsa, Oklahoma] when Lindy Legener, Mona Bost & The Silver Needle Gals were still designing most of them and before Brooke took over ... this is the giveaway for you.

I am including the following charts: September 2005 Jackpot, October 2005 Give Thanks for Best Friends, January 2006 Tea With Love, May 2006 The Lighthouse Teapot, July 2006 The Little Fir Tree, December 2006 Winter Snows Me. I gave two of these pieces away without taking pictures, but here are a few photos of the pieces I kept. If you wish to see all of these designs, they may be seen on The Silver Needle Secret Needle Night archive. I framed the teapots: Jackpot, Tea with Love and Lighthouse Teapot ... and then stored them until such time as I get around to redecorating my kitchen ... well I managed to unbury two of them for photographs: the Jackpot and Lighthouse Teapot, but for the life of me I have no clue where I stored the heart teapot piece ... so no photo. And I also kept the Winter Snows Me piece which I made up as a banner.

These six titles are CHARTS ONLY ... none of the specialty fibers or button packs are included, since I used all of that when I stitched these up myself. The charts are designed to be stitched on 10 ct tula or similar count fabric but would be just as cute stitched on higher count fabrics ... with the proviso that you would then have to downsize the buttons you ordered as embellishments to keep everything in scale. With a very few exceptions, these designs look just as good without the buttons ... some exceptions that do come to mind are the ghost button placed to be the steam rising from the jack-o-lantern teapot's spout and the penguin button on the snowboard ... but that would really come down to a matter of taste. The recommended specialty fibers, mostly from Rainbow Gallery, really enhance the designs as well ... so I would strongly recommend the purchase of said fibers if you win this drawing. But stitching them with DMC perle cotton works nearly as well. I'll be including a small package of 11ct white aida that I found at the very bottom and back of one of the drawers in my stitching center as a bonus ... since I never stitch with aida anymore and since it is the right count for these designs.

If you wish to enter your name for this charts 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.

Good luck to all who choose to enter.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Getting in the Mood for the Fourth

I thought I would post photos of various patriotic pieces I have done over the years.

Pictured here are a series of Erica Michael freebies[Liberty, America's Cup and the 9/11 Memorial Eagle] finished into a patriotic bellpull, a Glory Bee freebie obviously entitled 4th of July that I had framed and now use as part of the little patriotic display on the washstand in my entryway, a silly little Secret Needle Night chart named Liberbee that I made up as a banner and the 1st annual Red-White-Blue Quaker Heart by aury. I know I have done much more, but many of my pieces were given away long before I got in the habit of photographing them. I now make it a practice to photograph all my work before I give it away. It is certainly not as extensive a collection as others have stitched but most of the pieces, with the exception of aury's heart & Liberbee, were stitched shortly after the 9/11 tragedy and were part of my own way of working through the grief, anxiety and anger of those days. And isn't that what stitchers have done since the very first woman threaded a needle: recorded the events of the times with thread and fabric? I'll be starting the 2nd annual Red-White-Blue Quaker Heart by aury as my patriotic piece for tomorrow, on the actual fourth. I Have picked out a lovely Silkweaver 36ct cashel linen in Marine Blue as the backing and will be using Belle Soie silks: Sister Scarlet, Icing and Ocean.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mid Year Assessment of Annual Goals

1. Stitch from stash ... purchasing no more than five new charts. This has been going well, I have purchased only 3 new chart thus far this year. My only other purchases have been fabric and floss to stitch up charts already in my possession. I decided to save all the invoices this year and track just how much I spend on stitching in a year. And how much of the total goes to charts, to fibers, to finishing materials, to classes and retreats.2. Blog every other day. I am actually exceeding this particular goal, at least as far as the numbers go. There have been a few two or three day gaps but there have also been several blocks of daily posts.3. Maintain reasonable monthly goals. Not so much ... I am still far more optimistic than is warranted by experience.4. Complete 3 BAPs: TW's Woodland Angel stocking for Liam and Dimensions Woodland Enchantress converted to a stocking for Piper ... to work with the Woodland Santa stocking I made for their Dad. In 2011, I shall have to come up with something equally woodsy for my daughter-in-law Christina to complete the set. I also want to complete Angela's Teresa Wentzler Autumn Faerie. This one is really problematic ... I can't seem to get motivated to tackle the big stuff.5. Complete 1 medium project a month, concentrating on Christmas and Halloween projects wth forays into Quakers. This has been working out nicely January through May but seems to have stalled in June.
6. Get to the bottom of the finishing basket and then keep up with sewing finishes each month. Up until the May crunch time at work, I was keeping up with sewing finishes for pieces stitched this year but I still have a basketful of projects left from last year.7. Stitch one or two ornaments a month, concentrating on Christmas and Thanksgiving ornaments this year. I have been keeping up with the Bride's Tree SAL for the Christmas ornaments and have been managing to stitch a fair number of Thanksgiving ornaments.8. Inventory and prioritize all UFOs [discarding those that are truly lost causes] and stitch at least five hours a month on UFOs. Well, I did a full inventory ... as to stitching items on the inventory ... that's another story entirely. So far, I have only finished and removed one UFO from the list.9. Do more work on my own design ideas. Not enough hours in the day though I am still keeping a journal of sketches and ideas for a time when I can devote more effort to this area.10. Finally back and quilt the feather-stitched crazy quilt top in time for Mary's 50th birthday in June ... after all, it was originally intended for her 16th birthday ... giving a whole new meaning to the the term belated. At least all those crazy colors from the 1970s are back in style again. Still in the UFO pile but maybe I'll take care of it during my July vacation.11. Continue to work on fitting up a stitching room. Sporadic progress.
12. Learn to knit. This will have to wait till Fall.
I have taken on a few new goals not on the original list: joining a round robin which is running from April to October, and taking an on-line class in encrusted crazy quilting for six weeks in June/July. Never let it be said that I bite off more than I can chew!