Sunday, July 31, 2011

Assessing July's Goals & Setting August's Goals

As this snap of my ORT Jar indicates there has been a lot of stitching going on this month. Mostly the greens/blues/roses/greys of Tracery Dragons with a sizable amount of pale gold perle cotton from The Sturbridge Box. Since a great many of the threads in the ort jar are the result of frogging, I have included the culprit in the photo as well

First the assessment of JULY GOALS:

BAP: Continue work on TW's Tracery Dragons [aka CJC Day 10 project] YES, substantial progress.
Crazy January Challenge: Finish the Day 14 project: Town Square Town Hall YES.
HOE: "finish" finish two L*K ornaments and decide which to send for Aug. 15 deadline. YES.
Sewing/Finishing: Two LK ornaments, four LHN pillows & two HE pin cushions. Partially, the two LK ornaments and the Town Square SAL ornament.
Surface Embroidery: finish The Fertile Circles Needlebook NOT A STITCH.
WIPs & UFOs from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel AGAIN, NO

But I did get quite a bit done on my Sturbridge Stitcher's Hideaway project.

Now for the AUGUST GOALS:
BAP: Finish Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons

Crazy January Challenge: see above, Tracery Dragons is doing double duty as my BAP and my current CJC

HOE: Autumn Pin Keep:

Sewing and Finishing: the four LHN pillows & two HE pin cushions.

Surface Embroidery: finish 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

WIP 2011: Continue work on The Sturbridge Box

Saturday, July 30, 2011

And A Brief Intermission

I am taking a very short break from Tracery Dragons to complete the finishing on my Chrstmas ornaments for the Hooked on Exchanging Endless Christmas Ornament Exchange: Lizzie Kate round. I checked my followers, and my partner's name didn't show up among them, so I am going to risk posting some photos. You see I stitched two ornaments and don't know which to send. I am really not a big fan of Lizzie Kate's. The only piece of hers that I have stitched is the "Housework never killed anyone ..." piece and that was more a philosophical statement than an aesthetic one. So I resorted to using freebies to do the exchange. Now, L*Ks freebies tend to look rather like mere doodles, in my opinion, the sort of thing she might knock out as a warm-up exercise for real designing. Like a singer doing scales or a dancer doing plies. So, naturally, I had to jazz them up a bit. The one with just the words Peace-Love-Joy was stitched entirely in beads to give it a little punch. I also extended the border and added some Mill Hill Treasures [hearts] since I didn't have the recommended L*K charm. And on the Cozy Christmas Wishes ornament, I added a bit of back-stitching to the cup to make it pop and I used some of my prized hand-dyed chenille to dress up the pillow finish a bit. I am happy with them now but I haven't a clue if a real L*K fan would like my fiddling about with the original charts.

So, tell me, which would you rather receive in your mail box? On Monday, I'll follow the recommendation of the majority and pop that one in the mail. I'll save the remaining ornament to use as package trim for one of this year's Christmas gifts.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you

A few days ago, I was crowing that I'd won a giveaway: ThreadGatherers Silk'n'Colors Seafoam. I rarely enter giveaways because I am trying to de-clutter my own stash but when fibers are involved, especially silks ... I am a goner.

I came home from a moderately trying day at work to find this mood lifter in my mailbox. Not only the Threadgatherers silk but two Caron Waterlilies silks [another favorite of mine] and in perfect beach stitching colors: ocean and sand tones.

Thank you, Ann [aka Eugenia on the 123 message board] you made my day ... and several more days to come as I use those lovely silks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

?? A Week of Wentzler Wednesdays ??

It's been more like a Wentzler Week lately. I spent most of my Sunday, Monday and Tuesday stitching time as well as the usual Wednesday on the dragons. Every so often you reach a point in a project where everything seems to come together and, for a while at least, you can't seem to put it down. I think what did it this time was seeing the left curve of the lower circle of tracery begin to enclose the design elements, inspiring me to fill it in completely. Another factor was that I noted on Sunday that though I had been making considerable progress, the piece was more tracery than dragon. The only stitching justifying the word dragons in the title of the piece was a tiny serpentine curve from page three of the chart ... all the work I'd done on page two of the chart to that point had been done on the tracery and the blooms, leaves and branches of the rose bush. I wanted to see those elusive little devils! And a third factor is that I had to do some substantial frogging yet again and was determined to catch up to where I had been before the nasty amphibious visitation. Having devoted this many days to the project, I might as well finish out the week with it. There is the remote possibility that I could finish page 2 by the end of the month. And maybe finish the entire project by the end of August. That would leave me the remainder of the year to tackle my next TW BAP: The Woodland Angel Stocking, which I hope to have finished in time for this Christmas for my grandson Liam.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FROGS be damned

Okay, I have just about had it. I just had to frog two rather lengthy branches of the rose bush on Tracery Dragons all because I missed just one two and a quarter stitch repeat. Oh, Teresa, you unrivalled mistress of the irregular repeats, you will be the death of me.

I am ready to go back to a technique I haven't used in four decades: making an enlarged working copy, marking off 10x10 areas to stitch and then marking off finished stitching. This is really doing a number on my ego as I like to think of myself as a rather gifted stitcher. Tracery Dragons is deceptively simple with all its unstitched space. But it is precisely because of that unstitched space that every stitched area has to line up perfectly. There are no large areas of stitching in which to bury or fudge errors. Every design element is relatively small, distinct and its correct placement is crucial to the overall design. This is a very unforgiving chart: do it right or not at all.

I know I am going to delight in the finished piece, but this is my fourth bout of frogging on this project. A stitching friend recently stitched matching boy and girl voodoo doll pin cushions . I am seriously considering borrowing the girl pin cushion and naming it Teresa.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: July 24, 2011

Well, here is my current progress on Tracery Dragons. After frogging two of the leaves, I do believe I am back on track and moving along nicely again. I do have to be careful about going over three threads every so often ... it's something about the weave of this linen that throws me off. It's a very uncommon mistake for me ordinarily, but it has happened three times on this piece. Or maybe I'd just better get my rear in gear and pick up my new glasses at the opticians!!

I have also finished all the perle cotton stitching on the three remaining sides of The Sturbridge Box and will work on the metallic stitching on those sides tomorrow. Until I actually start working with the silks again, this will not be a very photo-worthy project. Maybe I'll have something to share by the end of the coming week.

And, finally, a photo hunt. The theme for this week is "patch" and here is a photo of my embellished patchwork piece that has been languishing unattended for so long it now qualifies as a UFO. I'll have to put it in the rotation again as soon as I finish something, anything. Since the three pieces in my rotation right now are all BAPs: Teresea Wenztler's Tracery Dragons, Thea Dueck's Sturbridge Box and Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, I don't anticipate a finish anytime soon. That's the one problem with BAPs. For all the satisfaction to be had with a large and elaborate piece, they do take soooo long!

Friday, July 22, 2011

... And Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

The vacation is now just a lovely memory and I have resumed my workaday routines with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I have been doing some stitching ... or more accurately, some frogging and a little stitching ... so I won't be showing any photos till my weekend wrap-up on Sumday. But other stitch-related activities have been going on:

I have finally begun working on an annual goal that has been on the list since 2009: clearing up the junk room [formerly the boys bedroom] so that I can turn it into a craft/sewing/TV/guest room. Hey, when you live in a six room town house, every room has to multi-task. Unfortunately, my husband and I have just been tossing all the "stuff" we can't find a place for in this room for nearly eight years now and the clean-up will be a Herculean task. Of course, I chose the hottest week of the year thus far to begin. But since I am only working on the project for an hour a day in the coolest part of the morning, I am managng not to give myself a heart attack. The goal is to have all the stuff off the floor this week, throwing away all the detritus along the way. Next week, I wll start going through all the storage containers to see what we really need to keep and what we can do without. After that, I'll have to make arrangements to take the antique dresser to a professional refinisher and start work on refinishing some of the more modern pieces myself. Then it's a matter of ripping up the old carpet, prepping the walls for painting, and painting. That should take me through the fall. Before Christmas, I'll have to call in professionals to refinish the hardwood floor and to put in a picture hanging scheme I have in mind. Inspired by what Thomas Jefferson did at Monticello, I'd like to put in a molding from which I can suspend my framed stitching in such a way that I can move things around easily every time I want to add a new piece. I envision one wall devoted to my dragons and another wall devoted to samplers. I'll have to visit the Monticello website to get more details. It's been decades since I was there and my memory of the actual mechanics is a bit sketchy. I am currently using the boys old dresser as a stitching storage center and will continue to do so. But I do want to spruce up the exterior a bit and customize the drawers a bit as well, lining some of them with felt, adding dividers, etc. There is a lot to do. I suspect this will be one of those never-ending projects with always another tweak here and another tug there even after the main work is done. I have thought about posting a before photo or two but I am afraid someone would feel compelled to forward the photos to one of those horribly embarrassing reality shows. I've never understood how people can expose themselves so, no matter what the pay-off! Suffice it to say that the room reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently of a husband and wife standing in the middle of a room very like mine. The husband: "Do you think we might be hoarders?" Wife: "No, dear, we're just slobs."

And, I have actually won a giveaway. Ann [aka eugenia on the 123 board] had an extra skein of Sea Foam Silk'n'Colors on offer. I rarely enter giveaways since I am in the process of decluttering, myself, but I am a fiber and floss junkie. And Thread Gatherer's Silk'n'Colors is prime, truly prime! And to make things even better, Sea Foam is a color that I do not yet have in my stash. I am thinking I'll have to use it for one of those elaborate symmetrical monochromatic Christmas ornaments or maybe for the Name Tree ornaments for myself and my husband that I want to get done this year, finally. On a darker green background with tiny seed pearls for ornamentation, what could be nicer? I haven't even received the silk yet and I am already making plans for it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some old stitching: circa 1950

I have been writing quite a bit about our recent vacation. It wasn't one of those strenuous touristy type vacations. We pretty much parked ourselves in one lovely spot and just opened ourselves up to all the little details that made the place so lovely.

Details like these old stamped cross stitch pieces hanging in one of the main stairwells. The wall decor in the restaurant included displays of steins, beer labels and memorabilia, postcards and photos from guests throughout the three generations of family ownership of the inn [a chronicle from the 1930s on]. Everywhere you went in the inn there were homey little touches to capture the attention: bookcases in the halls and rooms, filled with an eclectic mix of old and new books, a chess set in the seating area of the reception lobby, a wooden puzzle box in the shape of a turtle on the lobby counter. We were told that guests used the box for a variety of reasons, leaving messages or small objects to be retrieved later. The hunting chalet decor of the bar area might not have been to my taste: a bearskin, a deer head trophy, and a variety of antler racks ... but I guess it records a part of the history of the place. Even the ladies room by the bar had fin de siecle German language posters of young women [with very improbable figures] wearing the sportswear of the day: bloomers. There was also a collection of antique purses hung on the wall. Everywhere you turned there was something interesting to look at.

Here is a shot of my favorite lunch: potato pancakes with applesauce ... served with a side of spaetzle and a nice glass of wine.

All the meals were terrific and very German: saeurbrauten, schnitzels, wursts, spaetzle, potato dumplings, red cabbage, saeurkraut. Plenty of German wines and beers as well. The waitresses dressed in drindls and white peasant blouses with green and black vests. The restaurant is closed Mon-Wed but the kitchen opens for an hour every morning to serve a hearty breakfast to inn guests: choices include omelets with the fillings of your choice, a two or three egg [any style] with toast and bacon and/or sausage, pancakes, French toast, cold cereals or oatmeal. Every breakfast starts off with a fruit plate garnished with generous slices of the coffee cake of the day served with coffee or tea and juice. While we were there the coffee cakes were a yeast crumb cake, apple strudel and a blueberry crumb cake.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wentzler Wednesday Whimper

I was making slow but steady progress on Tracery Dragons, stitching the tracery in the various greys, only to discover I had started one of the leaves one box grid further to the left than I ought to have ... throwing everything off. There was nothing to do but frog. And I suspect I'll have to frog one more leaf that I had counted over from the first. Well, what must be, must be. This is too lovely a project to fudge on the details. So here is a picture of where things stand now: some forward progress and some backward.

But since I would rather not end this post on a negative note: here is a photo of a pincushion I found at an antique shop in Sturbridge, Ma.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some more vacation photos

This is the view of the Bavarian Country Manor as seen from the front lawn. Though it is hard to see quite clearly, the front porch that was such a delightfully shady morning stitching spot can be seen just below the leaf canopy of the center tree ... which provided that lovely shade. The very 1950-ish red metal chairs in front of the inn circle a fire pit that will probably be a favorite evening spot when we visit in the fall. The inn is open year round because there is skiing in the winter and hiking, swimming, biking and just plain relaxing in the cooler mountain air in the spring, summer and fall. The front and side lawns are extensive.

The next photo is a shot of one of the many whimsical bear figures that are found in the area. This fellow welcomes all visitors to the inn. The potted plant above his head was visited daily by hummingbirds, much to the delight of my husband who had never seen one before. The wicker love seat behind the bear was my stitching chair for the duration of the vacation. There were many more bears to be found throughout the area. The nearby town of Cairo has an annual contest to promote tourism in the town: there is a display of 30+ folk art bears scattered around the business district, each one concealing a butterfly in the design. Using a ballot, the visitors note the location of each butterfly. Completed ballots are entered for prizes. You can also take chances on the bears. I suppose the winners display them as lawn art or as folk art focus pieces in their homes. The bears tend to spotlight the various attractions of the area. There was a bear in the inn's dining room dressed as a race track enthusiast, probably headed for Saratoga, complete with binoculars, betting sheet, etc. I couldn't get a photo of that

one since the nineteenth century ambiance of the inn called for very dim lighting. But here is a mother and cub from a previous year, now being displated as lawn art near the gold fish pond on the front lawn.

I regret not taking a few more photos of thebears around town, especially the fire-fighter bear and the librarian bear in town as well as a few others. They were odd but rather sweet.

Here is a shot of my husband enjoying the front porch. Over his left shoulder, you can see one of the many bird feeders scattered about the property that attracted all manner of birds. Birdsong was constant background music ... another one of the small pleasures that graced our vacation.

Walking around to the back of the inn, one comes upon this view of a litte lake perfect for fishing, kayaking or canoeing. No one ever seems to swim in it though ... it's a little too murky ... one would definitely need a shower after swimming in this lake.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Click on these photos for a closer look at the details.

One of our day trips on our recent vacation in the Catskill region took us to the town of Tannersville, whose main claim to fame is its Main Street full of fantastically painted buildings. Apparently, some tourist bureau honcho had a brainstorm and offered grants to any home owners and shopkeepers who would turn their buildings into artistic statements of gaudy whimsy. The result is actually quite charming. All the gingerbread details of late nineteenth century buildings are emphasized by striking color contrasts. More modern and prosaic buildings painted with the same imaginative abandon don't seem to be so glaringly out of place or painfully drab beside the architectural granddams. As strange as it may seem, the outrageous and wildly varying color schemes are actually a unifying element. The owners of the buildings seem to have had fun with the whole concept, adding imaginative window treatments to the whole mix. The bright blue house below boasts large figurines of Minnie and Mickey Mouse filling the front windows of the second story. And the trompe d'oiel shutters are home to all sorts of strange and surprising little creatures: dragonflies, praying mantises, frogs, lizards and turtles. I suupose the owner choose to include reptiles and insects in the design because the foundation of the building is cheek by jowl with a little stream.

Sadly, once you have wandered around checking out the buildings there is little else to claim your attention ... except a great little restaurant improbably named The Last Chance Cheese and Antique Shop.

It was an amusing way to while away an afternoon and if you are every in Greene County, NY, I suggest you check out Tannersville for yourself.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: July 17, 2011

I have a few things to show you this weekend, besides the Sturbridge Sewing Box that I posted about yesterday:

The progress on my BAP, Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons

and on my most recent Town Square SAL finish, Weeks Dye Works Town Hall. I just need to assemble this as an ornament.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Company of Like-Minded Friends

I was able to spend a little time with some other stitchers recently. It never ceases to amaze me how relaxing it is to stitch in a group. The company of others who share my passion for textile art is such a joy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my solitary stitching as well! But to be a part of a group is at once energizing and affirming.

And The Stitcher's Hideaway at Sturbridge, Mass. was a perfect case in point. I became re-acquainted with a number of folks from previous retreats and enjoyed my second class with Thea Ducek. The class project was a joy and I learned a few new skills. Thea has upgraded her class project folder to include an instructional DVD which I am certain will be most useful when assembling the stitching box. Unfortunately, the batteries on my camera decided to quit on Show and Tell night, so I have no photos of some of the fabulous work displayed by fellow stitchers and sadly, no photos of the phenomenal tambour work displayed by our guest lecturer. Nor do I have a photo of our hostess par excellence, Sue Donnelly. But for those that are interested Sue will be putting up a "fun report" on her website towards the end of the month

But, here are a few photos from the early part of the retreat:

First, Thea in action

The class project

And, finally, my progress on the class project thus far ... I was able to make some fairly substantial progress on this piece because I left Sturbridge for a very relaxing vacation at the Bavarian Country Manor in Purling, NY. If you look closely you will see that I have a bit of frogging to do on the box lid. I oriented the left center Queen stitch heart in the wrong direction. However, I will wait till I am done with the rest of the pieces to frog it ... I want to be sure I will have enough of the Autumn Arbor to re-stitch it properly before I completely destroy the floss to be frogged. Anyway, I did get one of the side panels to the box lid completed and another one started as well ... I had plenty of opportunity to stitch at The Bavarian Country Manor. This beautiful lakeside inn in the Catskill region of NY state boasts an elegant porch that is just perfect for lazy morning stitching. And, I can assure you, I took full advantage of the comfortable wicker chairs and tables. Every morning after breakfast, I staked out a spot on the shady side of the porch, set up my own little stitching corner. On days we didn't have a day trip planned, I followed the shade around to the side porch to continue my stitching into late afternoon.

I'll have a few more vacation pictures to share in upcoming posts. Bill and I liked the place so well, we have already made arrangements for another visit in the fall to luxuriate in all the vibrant colors of the fall foliage and the crisp autumn air of the mountains. If you like a relaxed, family and pet friendly ambience and enjoy authentic German cuisine, I can highly recommend this spot. The inn has been run by the same family for three generations, since the early 1930s ... but it was around long before that: built in 1865.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

White-Hot Wentzler Wednesday

I seem to have picked up the pace on this project once I started page 2 of the chart. It is growing by leaps and bounds. I guess once it actually started looking like something other than a child's finger-painting, my enthusiasm for the piece was renewed. In any case, my needle seems to be white-hot and I am about halfway through page 2 of the chart. When you consider how long it took me to complete page 3 of this chart ... a page, by the bye, comprised less than a fifth of the area of page 2 ... that is saying something. Unfortunately, a photo is not a possibility at the moment - the battery is recharging. I will post photos of all of this week's stitching on Sunday since I expect to be rathr busy over the next few days.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monthly Giveaway Winner ...

This chart turned out to be a popular little item, I am pleased to note. It is always satisfying to offer something people really want. I will be e-mailing the lucky winner, Parsley, today and asking for a street address. I hope to have this in the mail soon, certainly before the week is out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: July 10, 2011

BAP: This is still Tracery Dragons and, no doubt, will continue to be Tracery Dragons throughout the summer ... if not actually throughout the year. But some nice progress was made.I won't be putting up a photo, though, until tomorrow's Wentzler Wednesday's stitching is done.

CJC: In addition to Tracery Dragons, which is one of my Crazy January Challenge pieces, I have finished a smaller challenge piece this week: the Town Square SAL Town Hall [Weeks Dye Works]. This is a fun piece that I will be finishing as another ornament for my Small Town USA themed Christmas tree. The stitching is done. Now all I need to do is to pad some boards and assemble it as an ornament.

Sewing Finishes: None this week.

Surface Embroidery: The Fertile Circle's Needlebook is finally fully stitched and ready for assembly.

UFOs & WIPs for 2010: I have worked on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler a bit this week and I must say it has felt good to pick up this piece again.

And, I couldn't resist a new start ... I found an old scrap of Autumn Sunrise linen that was the perfect size for a bookmark, and then had a hank of DMC 436 left over from some twisted cord making [perfect for tone-on-tone on the Autumn Sunrise] and then stumbled on my own graphs of bookcase finials and bases ... serendipitous, yes? Especially since I needed a bit of simple car stitching ... well, I started work on a little bookcase bookmark. Sometimes, it is fun to just design on the run. I am making the bookcase up to look like it has inlaid marquetry using DMC 434 & 435 as well as the 436 I had left from another project. I'll be using leftover snippets of floss from kits to do the books and knick-knacks on the shelves. And there will still be room at the bottom for an initial. All I need to do is add a Barnes & Noble gift card and I'll have another Christmas gift finished.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

25 Books That Shaped America

When this book by Thomas C Foster first came out in hardcover, I was intrigued ... after all I did my graduate studies in Early American literature. But I waited for it to come out in paperback before purchasing a copy. Not surprisingly I have read [and studied] most of these books though I'll admit I am a bit weak on the mid-20th Century to date selections.

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. YES
2. The Last of the Mohicans. James Fenimore Cooper. YES
3. The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. YES
4. Walden. Henry David Thoreau. YES
5. Moby Dick. Herman Melville. YES
6. Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman. YES
7. Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. YES
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain. YES
9. A Boy's Will and North of Boston. Robert Frost. YES
10. My Antonia. Willa Cather. YES
11. The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. YES
12. The Sun Also Rises. Ernest Hemingway. YES
13. The Weary Blues. Langston Hughes. NOT THIS ONE BUT I'VE READ HIS WORK
14. The Maltese Falcon. Dashiell Hammett NO
15. USA. John Dos Passos. YES
16. The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. YES
17. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. NO
18. Go Down, Moses. William Faulkner YES
19. The Adventures of Augie March. Saul Bellow. NO
20. On the Road. Jack Kerouac. YES
21. The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss. YES
22. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee. YES.
23. The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon. NO
24. Song of Solomon. Toni Morrison. NO
25. Love Medicine. Louise Erdrich. NO

I think my preference for 18th & 19th & early 20th century literature shows ... as we come closer and closer to the present, I seem to have overlooked more and more of these authors ... indeed, until picking up this little volume, I'd never even heard of Hurston and Erdrich. In any case, I have read 18 of the books purported to have shaped America. My curiosity has been piqued enough to go out and buy a few more to read this summer.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Totems & Talismans: Turtles, Herons and Owls

With all the outdoor summer activities, I have been doing a little less stitching the past two days, so ...

I thought I would do something a bit different today and show you some of my non-stitching treasures. What got me to thinking about this was a post on the 123stitch message board a while ago asking to see members' stitching and non-stitching collections.

The notion of animal totems has always resonated with me. From the time I took as many elective courses as possible in anthropology as a college student to the time when I was a young woman, just married and starting a family to the present day, I have been drawn to images of different animals at different life stages.

As a young wife/mother, I was drawn to turtles and bought a few, made a few, received a few as gifts and wore a few [as in earrings and such]. I can't quite claim to have felt a spiritual connection as someone who practices a nature religion might have ... but I had a certain affinity for turtles that I can't quite put into words.

Later, while vacationing in Maine for the first time with our children [Bill and I had been there several times while still childless young marrieds], we rented the only cabin we could afford: a log cabin beside a backwater estuary instead of on the the more desirable and expensive ocean shore. Said log cabin came complete with air-conditioning: some of the chinking between the logs had fallen away and you could literally peek through most of the walls. But hey, it was summer, so who cared if the shelter was slightly perforated. The thing I remember most about that summer was the blue heron that nested on a tiny islet in that salt marsh. And I spent way more than I should have on this small bronze casting of a heron ... still one of my treasured possessions.
And now, a mature woman approaching retirement, I have for some time been drawn to owls and ravens and crows. Both my daughter and my husband have gifted me with various examples, I have purchased some of my own as well.

My fondness for turtles and the various birds has been reflected in my stitching and chart purchasing as well ... but more on that another time. Then, too, there has been a certain whimsical interest in frogs. It would seem I am fixated on amphibians and birds.

I am sure someone well-versed in the psychology of symbols could have a field day with all of this. I am content just to chalk it all up to a certain connectedness with the natural world that I think all human persons need to experience. Perhaps my Celtic heritage, with its triad of Maiden-Mother-Crone, is coming to the fore ... owls and ravens have always been important symbols in the old Celtic religions, as well as many other pre-Christian religions. For me, intellectually and spiritually, that Celtic triad has been supplanted by the Roman Catholic Trinity of Creator-Savior-Sanctifier but perhaps it still exists in the unconscious depths of my mind as a kind of racial memory ... I know Freud and Jung are somewhat out of fashion nowadays ... but I always found them fascinating. I'll have to revisit some Jungian theories ... at least, I know what my next little bit of summer reading will entail!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wentzler Wednesday Whack-a-doodle

I seem to have regained my momentum with this project and am now merrily working my way through page two of the chart. After a wee bit of frogging on the left side border, I have been concentrating on a good sized chunk of the pale grey tracery. It's a bit tricky because of all the quarter stitches in the darker grey used as a very narrow outline ... getting one of those off by one thread [easy to do] throws the whole thing out of whack. Whenever I want a rest, I switch to stitching one of the nice, manageable, self-contained, little leaves. The roses, once back-stitched, are absolutely lovely ... but prior to that look very messy with all the quarter stitches and exposed background fabric. And the little rose buds look like nothing at all, at this point. Still, I'll wait till I finish a full page of chart before I do any more back-stitching.

At least the piece is beginning to look like the model photo. There is some satisfaction to be had in that.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July Giveaway

This month I am giving away an older autumn themed sampler: Bent Creek's Blackbird Sampler. This is a chart only giveaway. To give you an idea of what you'll be getting, here's a photo of my framed finish.

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

-- and, while I know this condition is entirely unenforceable, I would ask that the recipient agree to pay this chart forward by sharing it with another stitcher or donating it to a woman's shelter or prison.
-- a winner will be selected on the 10th of the month and informed by e-mail

Good luck to all who enter.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: July 3, 2011

BAP: I worked on Tracery Dragons on Thursday and Friday and have a bit more progress to show you. I am pleased that it is actually beginning to look like something beyond amorphous blobs of color. When dealing with a Teresa Wentzler chart, back-stitching makes all the difference. Even so, I believe I will hold off on any more back-stitching till I am further along ... since it all has to be done in a very specific order to give the proper definition to the design. One tiny bit of irksomeness: when I originally stitched the left border in January during the Crazy January Challenge, I failed to notice that [as in just about every Teresa Wentzler piece I have ever done] the design proper overlaps the border. I suppose I could just frog those few grey stitches as I get to them but then there is all the fuss of securing ends ... so I think that frogging the whole inner vertical line will be the easiest solution. I can't believe I made so obvious an error. It's not like this is my very first TW.

CJC: Tracery Dragons is actually one of my Crazy January Challenge pieces ... so I guess you could say I am killing two birds with one stone, by stitching on it so extensively this week. In addition, I did manage to finish Jane Greenoff's Blackwork Owl and make it into a Halloween ornament. And, then, I have made some serious progress on the Town Square SAL Town Hall. So the CJC bit of my rotation is doing very well indeed.

HOE: The next round, featuring a Lizzie Kate Christmas ornament, will be running from July 3 till August 15. As I take breaks from the mind-boggling BAP, I have already stitched and assembled two LK ornaments ... now it is just a matter of deciding which to send to whomever I am assigned. I wish I could show photos but alas, I'll have to wait on that until I decide which ornament I am parting with ... naturally, acquisitive stitcher that I am, I want to keep both ... and then, of course, I'll have to wait till the sent ornament is received. So, it'll be a while before I show any pictures.

Sewing/Assembly Finishes: I have been going gangbusters on ornament finishes. Three Town Square SAL ornament finishes, two Lizzie Kate Christmas ornament finishes and one Halloween ornament finish. I have also made some progress on the knitting project tote I am making as a gift for one of my sisters. On top of that, I have prepped the boards for some floss tags ... now I just have to read all the directions on my spanking new Crop-a-Dile, before actually assembling them.

Surface Embroidery: Nothing accomplished in this area this past week, though I am now carrying the Fertile Circles Needlebook project around in my stitching bag so it should see some action in the next few weeks.

WIPs and UFOs 2010: Again nothing accomplished in this area this past week, but I am carrying the Workbasket Quaker Sampler around in my stitching bag as well. So I expect to post some progress photos next week.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Assessing June Goals


BAP: start stitching Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons [aka CJC 1/10/11]. Finished page three of the chart which is not nearly as impressive at it sounds since I am working backwards from page three which, by the by, only covers the bottom two inches of the design.

Crazy January Challenge: Jane Greenoff's Blackwork Owl finished 6/30, and the Town Square SAL ornaments: Post Office finished 6/12, Church finished 6/19 & School House finished 6/26

Sewing Finishing: Get as close to the bottom of the finishing basket as possible. Simply kept up with the ornament finishing for the CJC pieces done this month.

Surface Embroidery: work on The Fertile Circles Needlebook. Nothing.

WIPs & UFOs from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel Nothing.


BAP: Continue work on TW's Tracery Dragons.

CJC: Town Square SAL Town Hall, finish as an ornament. NB: Tracery Dragons is also a CJC.

HOE: "Finish" finish the two Lizzie Kate ornaments and then decide which to send. Deadline is August 15.

Sewing/Assembly Finishes: the two LK ornaments, LHN pillows and HE Pin cushions.

Surface Embroidery: work on Fertile Circles Needlebook.

WIPs & UFOs from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel

Mid-Year Musings

First a look at how well I am doing on the annual goals:
***Participate in the Crazy January 2011 Challenge. Only one of the 15 projects remains to be started, another needs to be re-started [bad choice of fabric], while two more are already a works in progress. This has been a great way to include stash I have been itching to stitch in my current rotation.

***Continue to limit purchases of charts to five per year. I have made four purchases so far this year, which works for me. I'll probably stop at four, last year I only bought three. As it is, I have enough charts stored away in binders and drawers to last me the remainder of my life.
***Continue to blog every other day. I have been blogging pretty consistently, at times, even daily.
***Complete three BAPs: Finish TWs Autumn Faerie. And then move on to Christmas Stockings for Liam and Piper: TW's Woodland Angel and Dimensions Woodland Maiden. The Autumn Faerie is finished and ready for the framers .

***Complete a medium project each month: concentrating on Halloween, Quaker animal and fantasy dragon charts. The Crazy January Challenge has included a few pieces in these categories but this goal will have to be the focus of the remainder of the year.
***Complete a Town Square SAL chart each month. So far, the Crazy January Challenge has included four of these and I did one more back in January as part of my regular rotation. So I am only one behind at this point.

***Get to the bottom of the UFO basket. I have made some small progress in this area ... more on this below.

***Get to the bottom of the finishing basket. I have come to the conclusion that this basket is, in fact, bottomless.

***Make some more anniversary/Valentine ornaments ... sufficient to keep the table top ornament tree up in the entry hall from January 1 through February 14. I am unlikely to get to this until 2012, given all my other stitching priorities. I do have a perfect chart for this project: Winter Hearts, which has four really lovely hearts to stitch.
***Paint the walls of the stitching-room-to-be as well as re-finish some of the furniture that will eventually reside there. If I get this much done, I'll be able to start using the room even before I have it fully fitted up as per my grand vision. There is still time to work on this project ... perhaps when the weather gets cooler.
***I still want to learn to knit properly. I am determined to do this in the Fall ... either by joining the Knitting Circle at the High Schhol Adult Ed Program or finding a class somewhere else.

Okay, seven of the eleven goals are already being met in a satisfactory fashion, two more are really cool weather projects that have to be deferred to the later part of the year ... leaving only two that are unlikely to be met this year. One other thing I started doing last year was tracking just how much I spent on this passion for stitching and how what I spent actually broke down: charts, fabric, fiber, tools, embellishments, finishing and framing, classes, retreats, exchanges & giveaways [postage]. I am continuing to track everything noted above except postage on giveaways and exchanges ... I am afraid to track those amounts lest it convinces me to cease and desist. Here's the mid-year breakdown:

2011 Stitching Expenditures to date:
Retreats: $ 495.00
Memberships: 50.00
Charts: 37.19
Fabric: 0.00
Floss/Fiber: 139.77
Beads/Buttons: 6.20
Needles: 15.25
Tools: 20.99
G/C: 5.00
S/H: 28.11
TOTAL $ 797.61

And so, projecting to 2012: I do believe I need to switch gears a bit. Some of the usual goals will remain in place but there will be changes of focus as well

***A UFO Crazy January Challenge: Select 10 UFOs from the basket. Stitch on one on each of the first ten days of the January 2012, to get back some of the enthusiasm for each piece. Then continue to work them into the rotation in the same way the 2011 CJC worked.

***Limit new starts to one a month until all WIPs and UFOs are stitched. Work primarily on the Dragons, Quakers and Halloween charts.

***Continue to limit purchases of charts to five per year.

***Continue to blog every other day.

***Choose two to three BAPs for the year and work on them steadily.

***Catch up on sewing finishes.

***Finish setting up the sewing/craft/TV room.

***Inventory chart stash and set some priorities for completing what is on hand.

***Ruthlessly eliminate charts that will never be stitched and UFOs that will never be completed from stash. Use the charts for giveaways. Consider setting up a UFO exchange for the fun of it.

***Attend an EGA chapter meeting as a member-at-large, or take an EGA on-line course.

I will probably change my mind about these goals as 2012 approaches ... so much depends on how many of the 2011 goals are actually accomplished. But I like to think ahead.