Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Assessing May Goals

First up is my monthly photo of the Ort jar: lots of reds and greens. A look at my recent finishes reveals why: a green skirt and red apple for the faerie, lots of red and green in The Gilded Cage, only red in A Bird in Hand.

Finish stitching beading The Autumn Faerie. She is stitched but the beading is only halfway done. And, I am beginning to get worried. The chart called for only one package of Mill Hill beads in each color. Having beaded two sides of the border, I am beginning to doubt that there will be enough lavender beads to finish the project. In any case, it'll be a close thing. The ivory beads will be no problem, since I need only 1 ivory bead for every 6 lavender beads. I surely hope I don't have to order one more package of beads just because I am short a few dozen or so. I do dislike these little obstacles to a finish that I have been diligently working toward for several months now.

Crazy January Challenge: Day 6 project Barrick Sampler's The Gilded Cage and Day 8 project Blackbird Designs' A Bird in Hand. N.B.: The Day 7 project was finished the same day it was started. These are both medium to small sized projects and ought to be easy to complete within the month. Finished The Gilded Cage 5/23/11. Finished A Bird in Hand 5/28/11.

Hooked on Exchanging: Stitch a PS Autumn piece and do the sewing finish on it in time for mailing by June 1. Done and will be mailed right on deadline, June 1st.
Sewing Finishing:
Get as close to the bottom of the finishing basket as possible. Did a bit. Stitched up the pin cushion for the exchange and finished work on the Teddy Bear Gift Tote to be used for my grand-daughter's birthday gifts. Also, stitched A Bird in Hand up as a pin pillow but I have ordered some chenille to use as trim so it is not quite finished.
Surface Embroidery:
work on Fertile Circles Needlebook. Nada.
WIPs & UFOs from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel. No joy here.

BAP: Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons [aka CJC 1/10/11]
Crazy January Challenge: Jane Greenoff's Blackwork Owl [1/9/11] and the Town Square SAL ornaments: Post Office, Church & School House [1/11, 12 & 13]
Sewing Finishing: Get as close to the bottom of the finishing basket as possible.
Surface Embroidery: work on The Fertile Circles Needlebook.
WIPs & UFOs from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: May 29, 2011

This is the long Memorial Day Weekend ... Friday through Monday, with lots of time for stitching and other leisure activities.

All in all, it's been a good week for finishes:

BAP: TW's Autumn Faerie is nearly completely beaded. Just one more dayworking on this and it will be ready for a trip to the framer. Just to be consistent, I'll post the finish photo on Wentzler Wednesday. For now, I'll just post a detail of the beading ... this has to be done in the entire border!

CJC: I finished BBD's A Bird in Hand late last night and plan to finish-finish it as a pin pillow ... just waiting on some R & R Reproductions hand-dyed chenille trim I ordered as an embellishment. The stitching on The Gilded Cage is also done ... I'll be mailing that to Jill Rensel for framing.

HOE: will go in the mail as soon as the Post Office reopens for business Tuesday morning. One day before deadline, so I guess I am good. I've taken photos and will post them when I get word that the piece has been received ... it's heading overseas, so that may take a while.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

One More Crazy January Challenge

I wanted to finish up one more Crazy January Challenge this month: Black Bird Designs' Bird in the Hand. This is another absolutely lovely piece from the ladies at BBD. And it has the added bonus of being a relatively quick stitch ... monochromatic, so no time consuming color changes; straightforward cross-stitching without any specialty stitches to distract or slow the stitcher; and just plain easy. Every now and then one needs simplicity. And this simple piece is a nice change of pace from my recent cross-stitch finish, Autumn Faerie ... I still have to tackle the beading on that piece but that will have to be a later-on-in-the-weekend project. Right now I want to finish my bird. All that being true, I am having a problem with the fiber I am using, GAST's Raspberry Parfait cotton overdye. Normally, GAST floss and I manage to get along quite nicely but this particular card of fiber is giving me substantial aggravation. It snarls during the stranding process, sometimes so badly it is just easier to literally cut my losses and snip away the knot. And while stitching, it keps creating slip knots and even the occasional double slip knot, for good measure. It even feels coarser than GAST normally does. I suspect the dye agent is the culprit though I usually notice this with blacks and dark blues more than with a medium red. Anyway, here's a photo of the progress at the end of the dedicated day in the Crazy January Challenge and another of progress after Thursday and Friday stitching.

It feels as though my stitching momentum is gathering force. In years past I have had many more finishes noted in the sidebar by this time of year ... but numbers aren't everything ... I am working on much larger pieces this year than I have in the past. Oh, there are still a few smalls but not nearly as many as swelled last year's Finish List. Even so, by the end of this month I will have added three pieces to the 2011 list: The Autumn Faerie, The Gilded Cage and Bird in Hand. That's one BAP, one medium sized piece and one smallish-tending-toward-medium project. Not bad at all!

June will be different though. I'll be starting the next BAP but that will be balanced by four ornament sized Crazy January Challenge projects. And most of the CJC projets are nearly half stitched already. It shouldn't take too terribly long to finish them up. And, there won't be an exchange project in the rotation this month either.

And a little stash enhancement is going on. I have ordered the last ThreadGatherer Silk'n'Color needed for my Primitive Needle piece, The Black'd Skie, a Crop-a-dile tool for making up floss tags, and the Heaven and Earth Designs chart The Tangle Fairy ... all from 123stitch. I was disappointed to discover that they could not order The Enchanted Lair's Teatime for me though ... it would have made a nice addition to my dragons in a teacup series. I'll have to see if I can find it elsewhere. I also called Dyeing to Stitch in Virginia Beach to get some of the chenille trim that the folks at BBD have been showing in their recent pillow finishes. I ordered 2 five yard lengths of each of the available colors ... all five of them. Ann said they would be adding more colors to their line of chenille trims soon. I'm sure I'll hbe ordering more.

PS: I posted an In Search Of post on the 123 message board regarding Teatime. Jo at Dinky Dyes responded that she had the charts in stock and would send one on to Joanne at 123stitch ... so I should have my little dragon in a teacup quite soon. I do love the Internet: how else would a stitcher in the northeast USA be able to purchase a chart from an online shop headquartered in the southwest USA with help from a thread dyer from Australia?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wentzler Wednesday Wishes

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride ... or to put it another way: if wishes were stitches, this faerie would be finished. I had hoped to be done with all the stitching this Wednesday and well into the beading. The goal was to have this piece done in time to take it to the framer on Friday. That's not going to be happening. The cross-stitching and back-stitching are done but I haven't started the beading yet. My eyes are too weary from back-stitching the skirt and I don't want to make foolish mistakes.

Still, I am closing in on a finish here ... just one more Wentzler Wednesday ought to see this project completed. Then it's onward to the next Teresa Wentzler BAP: Tracery Dragons.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Finish and a Few Other Matters

The Gilded Cage is finished. I almost regret having come to an end of this lovely little design. It has been such a joy. Everything about it has been a delight: the design itself, the Needlepoint Inc silks, the fact that the chart was received in a RAK.

Since this morning the sun shone for the first time in nearly a week, I decided to take the scenic drive to work, along the Hudson River and past the marina. Last year, driving past the marina, I got a bit of a lift every morning when I saw the most charming little boat moored at one of the docks. It was one of those old-time all wooden motor launches, varnished teak or mahogany [hard to tell which from the road] with some antique gold paintwork about the cabin and the shine of brass rails. It just made me smile every morning to see it nestled in among all the towering fiberglass that glinted showily in the sun ... proof positive that some people still placed a value on the old-fashioned solidity of by-gone workmanship. I fantasized a bit about owning that boat or something very like it. Well, the boat isn't in its usual place this year ... I am hoping that means the owners are still enjoying it in some other space ... perhaps they retired to a cottage on the Maine seashore or somewhere along Cape Cod. I don't want to believe that hard times forced the sale of a boat so obviously well-tended and loved.

The drive along the river always starts my day off with some beautiful sight. Here is a photo of a house I would enjoy living in. The view on three sides is river ... lovely enough to make you forget that the view on the remaining side is of elevated troughs leading from a gravel quarry to a dock for barges. On the left side of the house, slightly obscured by the trees, are a first and a second story porch: the perfect place for relaxing and viewing the river. There was a haze on the water this morning and sky and water were just about indistinguishable.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crazy January Challenge: The Gilded Cage

This has been such a pleasurable stitch I will be truly sorry when it comes to an end. I have only the dark red, dark green and pale tan areas left to stitch. And, I will be using Needlepoint Silks again in the future, most definitely. These are some of the most beautiful silks I have used in a long time. Thread Gatherer remains my favorite but these are a very close second, edging out Belle Soie and Caron by a nose.

I am seriously considering sending this piece to Jill Rensel for one of her fabulous mats and frames but wonder if such a small piece that already has a border would look good matted. I'll have to go to her blog and check out some of her photos before making a decision. I don't want the framing to overpower the piece but I do feel that this piece does deserve something special in the way of framing. Partly because it is such a lovely design and partly because I have enjoyed it even more than most projects.

I didn't get to work on my TW Autumn Faerie over the weekend as I had hoped ... things just got too busy. On the plus side I did manage to squeeze in a lovely visit with my mother on Sunday ... with the added bonus that one of my nieces dropped by for a visit while I was there ... two for one!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: May 22, 2011

Let me preface this report with the statement that two Confirmation celebrations took place yesterday and the better part of the last week was spent in the final preparations.

In all the busyness of my week, very little serious stitching went on. The needle arts require a certain level of concentration and I just wasn't capable of maintaining that level for very long. About all I worked on was my exchange piece since I am facing a June 1st mailing deadline on that project. Unfortunately, I must resist sharing a photograph since I have no idea if the recipient reads this blog ... wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. The good news is that I finished the ceoss-stitching on the exchange piece and only have the sewing finish left.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wentzler Wednesday Whips By

This Saturday, we celebrate two Confirmation ceremonies with a total of 81 8th grade candidates being confirmed. So far this week has been consumed with Confirmation rehearsals and other details [ordering a catered lunch for the Bishop and other celebrants, flowers for the altar, contacting the ushers, assigning altar servers, correcting the Mass booklet with an errata sheet], with the finalizing of the registration mailing, final exams for the grades 3-7, progress reports and other end of program year business. I look forward to June with the relative calm of actual registration for 2011-12, textbook and supply inventory and ordering, catechist recruitment for the new year and so forth.

But Wentzler Wednesday is becoming sacrosanct ... so here is the latest progress photo. Four hours of stitching on Section IV yielded satisfactory progress, especially when you consider that I am OCD about my floss, using just one needle for my TW projects, and threading it with just the one blend at a time and returning all floss to the bobbins when I am done stitching with each blend. I used to park my needles on sheets labelled with all the symbols but found that I ended up with a lot of knotted and wasted floss. I am now content to work more slowly but much more methodically. I am hoping to finish up the cross-stitching on Sunday and perhaps start the beading on Monday. The plan is to have this particular project completed during the next Wentzler Wednesday and get it to the framer on my day off on Friday. I had toyed with the idea of having a Jill Rensel frame for this piece but decided against it. This will be a gift for my daughter who already has two Wentzler companion pieces, The Spring Faerie and the Lily of the Valley Faerie. I think I will try to frame the Autumn Faerie in similar fashion to those.

Reverting to my first topic: My students never fail to surprise me. I had been dreading the Monday and Tuesday rehearsals for Confirmation to such a degree that I was mildly hysterical and a wee bit manic the entire weekend. Anticipating the Monday one in particular was playing havoc with my equanimity since my four biggest discipline problems would be attending that one. I even went so far as to warn the pastor so he would expect to be scandalized by their raucous behavior in Church. So what do the little darlings do? They behaved like perfectly sedate, mature and reasonable young people. There were several theories floated as to why this happened: transportation to the Twilight Zone, alien abductions, faerie switches, parental threats involving death and dismemberment ... but my favorite was put forward by my assistant, Josephine, who thinks my guardian angel decided to cut me a break and patrolled the church with the spiritual equivalent of a cattle prod. It's her theory that said guardian angel knows just how close I am to running screaming from the office never to return and also knows that no one else wants this job and probably has orders from on high to keep me from retiring until I find and train a replacement. Note to self: at next year's rehearsals, when explaining to the young ladies what shoes constitute dress shoes and what do not, DO NOT use the terminology of my youth: thongs now refer to underwear not beach shoes. The current term, apparently, is flappers, which in my youth referred to the wilder sort of young woman from my grandmother's time. I do believe words should mean much the same thing for at least four generations. It would avoid so many awkward moments!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: May 15, 2011

As the weather gets nicer, other activities edge into my leisure time: gardening, reading on the patio, barbecues & picnics, bird-watching which is really an excuse for sitting outdoors in a broad-brimmed hat and comfortable clothes and simply vegetating mindlessly in the sunshine ... the Birds of North America paperback, binoculars and camera are mostly for show. I am really more of a bird-watcher wannabe than even a moderately serious amateur.

Even so, I did manage to get the following stitching done during the past week:

BAP: The Autumn Faerie has been progressingly along quite nicely. Section III is finished and I am confident that I can finish the cross-stitching on Section IV and get started on the beading by the end of this upcoming week. [See last post.]

CJC: My current Crazy January Challenge piece is Barrick's Samplar's The Gilded Cage. I am stitching it on 32ct. raw linen in the recommended Needlepoint Silks, Inc. flosses. I am loving this piece. The design is just beautiful and the colors are so rich. The Needlepoint Silk, Inc. floss is a first for me and it is just delicious. Smooth, soft, with nary a tangle or twist. Added to all that, just having this chart is the result of a RAK. I commented on how lovely the WIP of another blogger was ... and said blogger offered me the chart when she was through with it. I could have sworn I saved all the correspondence as is my usual habit. Alas, I did not. I'll have to do some serious research to find the name and properly acknowledge the generous person who shared this chart with me. I know that it was someone on my blog list ... so I'll be devoting some time to reading blog archives till I find my benefactor. The photo on the left shows my one day progress in January. And the photo on the right shows my progress as of Sunday evening.

HOE: I have passed the halfway point on this piece, in fact, I am approximately 2/3rds of the way done with the cross-stitching. So, I am on target for a June 1st mailing date. I wouldn't want to be late for my very first exchange since I joined Hooked on Exchanging.

2010 WIPs & UFOs: I haven't done anything on these items in two months, to the point where I ought to reclassify my Workbasket Quaker Sampler as a UFO rather than a WIP. But I expect to have loads more stitching time in June, July and August since the religious education program will close its class schedule on June 11. Even with all the other warm weather activities competing for my attention, the absence of classes frees up whole chunks of time for stitching.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wonderful Wentzler Wednesday

This is the second time I have had to post this particular post due to some sort of maintenance done by Blogger ... hence the discrepancy with the date:

This practice of devoting one day to the Faerie has exceeded all my expectations, moving along a BAP that was stalled for nearly two years! Section III is done. All that remains is the skirt and legs in Section IV and the beading in the border. I feel fairly confident that I'll finish this project before month's end.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And the giveaway winner is ...

The on-line randomizer came up with #3, which turns out to be Frances whom I will be e-mailing shortly.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I had one of those "WOW!" moments in the middle of a busy workday, one that was actually plagued by more than a few senior moments. I was walking from one end of the parish campus to another because I had accidentally locked myself out of my office one hour before classes were due to start and needed duplicate keys kept in the rectory office. I was mutterring to myself about my own idiocy and my impeccable timing. My part-time secretary had just left for the day and my part-time program assistant, who covers the rest of the work day, had taken a personal day and would not be arriving in the usual five minutes. And then a light breeze blew up. I was surrounded by the scent of lilacs. I figure God was exasperated by my lack of perspective and decided to bring me to my senses, literally! There are so many small, sustaining graced moments in our days ... if we just open ourselves to them.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: May 8, 2011

Since this was a very busy week professionally: four First Communion rehearsals, two actual First Communion ceremonies, a May Crowning, prepping the registration 2011-12 mailing, updating and checking the Confirmation paperwork [May 21st is Confirmation] while there is still time to do something about any glitches, in addition to the usual class schedules ... I didn't expect to get as much stitching done as I actually managed.

BAP: TW's Autumn Faerie: Section III is nearly done. See photos on previous post.

HOE: my Prairie Schooler Exchange piece is off to a good start with approximately a third of the stitching done. The piece, which is 82hx52w, was supposed to be stitched on 32 ct but I am stitching it on 40ct Silkweaver Meadow Mist to scale down the size enough to make it suitable for a finish as a long narrow pin pillow. The mailing date is June 1st, with an overseas destination ... so I probably won't be able to share a photo till mid or late June.

Given the limited time available for stitching, I am not surprised that I didn't get to spend any time on the 2010 WIPs and UFOs or Crazy January Challenge pieces currently in my stitching bag. I may be able to get some stitching done on those projects next week, during the lull between the sacraments. May is always a crazy month but things smooth out again in June ... and I do get to take off four weeks over the summer months ... so an end to the stress is in sight.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wentzler Wednesday Works Well

I made quite a lot of progress on my Autumn Faerie yesterday, nearly completing Section III ... in spite of the frequent color changes in the apple. I feel like one of those Pointilists, you know, the painters who painted with dots back in the late 19th century ... long before computers made the pixel a commonplace graphic arts term. Like those long dead artists, I painstakingly put in just one tiny dot of color and then mix up an entirely new but ever so closely related color and put in one more dot. Well, that may be a bit of an exxageration, I may put in four or five dots of one color before moving on to the next. But that's a Teresa Wentxler piece for you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Giveaway

I am beginning to run out of steam with these monthly giveaways ... most of my excess stash ... whether it consisted of gently used charts, embellishments, magazines or fabric ... has been disbursed. I don't seem to be coming up with the same number of finishes that I used to, hence fewer items on offer. I expect 2011 will be the last year I do a monthly giveaway. In 2012, it will probably have to be a bi-monthly giveaway.

But that's still in the future. This month, it will be a mixed bag of gently used charts and one kit that I know I will never stitch. First, the kit is a US Air Force emblem [complete with Aida cloth and floss] ... the person who gave me the kit thought that because all the services were pictured on the cover, they were all included. She knew I had a son in the Navy and that my husband was a veteran of the Coast Guard. Alas, it was just the Air Force with which I have no affiliation whatsoever. The charts are Cheat the Devil, a Connecticut state heart from the Victoria Sampler series and a Hydrangeas chart. A rather mixed lot, even for my wclwctic tastes

If you wish to enter your name for this giveaway, the following 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

Good luck to all who enter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: May 1, 2011

This being posted a day late so,ply because I was too lazy on my last day of vacation to take a photo and finish up this post.

TW's Autumn Faerie: I figured I'd finish out the month with this piece in a vain effort to finish up Section III which is just not happening ... but in spite of one week this month without a Wentzler Wednesday, substabtial progress has been made. I was beating myself up for not getting enough done on this BAP until I compared the beginning April photo with today's photo. Now I am inclined to congratulate myself: Section II has been completed and I have gotten a good jump on Section III. Not bad at all, all! I am psyched and confident that this project will be completely finished by May 31st.

And, I did spend some time yesterday morning on a project that ultimately will improve this blog. I organized my stitching photos into nicely labeled and sorted files, deleting many in progress shots of projects now finished, and eliminating duplicate photos. Once I move these files to my Photobucket account, I'll be able to set up slide shows and maybe put together a few collages to give the graphic portion of this blog a bit more variety. I have very little experience with navigating Photobucket, but I figure practice will make perfect. I still have a bit of editing to do within the files I have set up, putting photos in order,and the like. But for the most part it was a very productive use of two hours stolen from stitching time.