Monday, October 31, 2011

Assessing October Goals, Setting November Goals


BAP: Continue to work on TW's Tracery Dragons on the designated Wentzler Wednesdays. I am taking a vacation from this piece. When I started to work on page 1, I found myself miscounting, frogging, miscounting, frogging, over and over. I need a break from this one.

Crazy January Challenge: Continue working on Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie. Now, this piece has been more of a success. I have finished the first block and am working on the second block. It's an interesting design, a touch morbid, which works for the Halloween season. But the actual stitching is blessedly straight-forward: not a fractional stitch or blended needle to be found.

Ornament: Finish Aury's 2o11 Quaker Heart. DONE.

Sewing & Finishing: the four LHN pillows & two HE pin cushions and finish the mini-pillow for Sept. giveaway. Well, I finished two pin pillows, four Town Square SAL ornaments and a patriotic ornament, as well as prepping the padded boards for four floss tags. That's a goodly amount of finishing even if the only on-goal finish was the September giveaway pin pillow.

Surface Embroidery: finish The Fertile Circles Needlebook. I haven't gotten to this yet again this month.

WIPS & UFOS from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel. Completed three motifs and six more letters on the Quaker Sampler.
WIP 2011: Continue work on The Sturbridge Box. Nothing doing this month.

Off-goal Stitching: Started Prairie Grove Peddler Lighthouse Candle Mat as well as continued work on my needlepoint Owl sampler and started and finished Goode Huswife's complimentary chart Friendship Sampler.

NOVEMBER GOALS: This month I am going to try to resist the temptation of off-goal starts and simply concentrate on what I have in progress at this time. I need to really concentrate on what I have in hand if I am going to have a chance in hell to finish up my Crazy January projects.

BAP: Maybe, by the end of the month, I'll be ready to pick up TW's Tracery Dragons again. I really do need a break from this rather complex piece.

Crazy January Challenge: Continue Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.
Needlepoint Project: Owl Sampler. Finish this piece and make into a pillow.

Sewing & 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 and Prairie Grove Peddler Lighthouse Candle Mat.

Just a note: The need to de-clutter and to organize has me really concentrating on finishing pieces. I have a number of sewing finishes I'd like to get to this month, mostly seasonal pillows. And, this month I want to work on learning to frame pieces myself ... I just can't tolerate laundry baskets filled with stitched pieces carefully rolled in tubes awaiting framing. Oh, a few pieces that are clearly worthy of the investment will still go to a professional framer once I can find one I can trust not to glue and staple my precious stitched objets d'art! But I want to try my hand at framing the more whimsical seasonal decor pieces. This will mean a trip to Michael's for archival board, mattes and frames. I'll have to spend a bit of time working ona list of measurements. That will leave only the pieces I am accumulateing for quilts and wall hangings ... which I will then store flat in archival bozes in a drawer in my craft center. I need to reorganize the craft center [aka, the boys old dresser and secretary topper] as part of the overall make-over of the boys old room into my craft room. I am trying to give equal attention to my daughter's old room's conversion to my husband's den. It keeps me busy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: October 30, 2011

Monday I used a good part of my lunch hour to measure and cut the boards for four floss tags and for four of the Town Square ornaments. And Tuesday morning, before heading into work, I cut and glued the padding on to all the boards. As Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday rolled on by, I worked on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, completing the motif and two letters for the week. Pictured are the three motifs I have stitched this month along with the letters E through J. I also attended my first knitting circle at the local high school on Wednesday evening. It was a humbling experience. It's been years since I attempted to learn to knit and came up with a fairly respectable garter knit stitch scarf which my youngest son used for nearly a decade. Wednesday night, my tension was too tight, my stitching totally inconsistent and I kept splitting the yarn ... and to add insult to injury, my body betrayed me. too: my fingers kept cramping! At least, I learned a new casting on technique which the instructor called the slingshot method. It's an easy and tidy cast on. I'll have to practice quite a bit over the next two weeks [there's no session next week] so that I can have a neat, even five to ten rows of knit stitch on my "blob". The instructor, Colleen, calls the 24 stitch wide band of practice stitches a "blob" rather than the more exalted "primer sampler" term used by other knitting instructors. This seems much more honest, especially where my blob is concerned. And Colleen is definitely NOT a wool purist, talking easily about acrylic blends that contain as little as 10% wool and yarns from AC Moore and Michael's. I am not certain I am okay with this casual attitude towards materials. I have always believed that the end product is only as good as the materials used in its manufacture. But judging by the sample projects Colleen uses to illustrate her lessons, the lady knows her stuff when it comes to technique. Friday, I switched back to The Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie and completed the outline of the second block and finished the tree trunk that dominates the left side of the block. Finally, I did the assembly and trimming of four more of my Town Square SAL ornaments: The Train Depot, The Saloon, The Clock Tower and The Town Hall. I haven't gotten to the floss tags as yet, perhaps later on in the coming week I'll manage to finish them as well. I am a bit concerned about some Priority Mail packages I dropped in the mail last Wednesday to my September and October giveaway winners. The packages should have arrived on Saturday but I haven't heard from the recipients yet ... the one time I didn't spring for delivery confirmation, wouldn't you know?!?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: October 23, 2011

In opposition to the habits of most other stitchers, as the weather cools I seem to be stitching less. That has more to do with the academic and liturgical calendars than with the seasonal calendar. This is a busy time of year, with parent and candidate meetings for sacraments, gearing up for Advent this year with the dreadful changes in the language of the litorgy, making sure all the Safe Environment paperwork on all adults is submitted in a timely fashion, starting up the Safe Environment sessions for the children, and still managing to squeeze in 5 fire drills [one for each session] before the weather makes that too problematic. And still doing all the routine daily tasks that go along with running a parish religious education program for 400 children. I am spending more time at the parish and come home less inclined to stitch. Oddly, I find myself anticipating "snow days". Now, normally, I'd prefer a snowless year ... I have always disliked snow, even as a child. But I could use a cozy, snowed-in, unscheduled day off ... sipping tea, stitching, perhaps baking a batch of scones or tea buns. It's way too early in the year to be feeling this malaise. It could be I am just slow to recover from last weekend's bout of the flu and am feeling a bit wrung out for the time being. I am just grateful this is not one of the two seasons of the year when all I seem to do is run from one archdiocesan or regional meeting or special event to another. Now, that's a really wearying time ... I am not a natural commuter!

In any case, this is what I have accomplished this week: The Black'd Skie: I picked up Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie again this week and tackled some of the frogging required as a result of my misreading of the chart's top band ... I didn't notice that in three places, the diamonds were three crosses apart rather than two ... which means my total width is three cross stitchs short. Irritating, to be sure, but I am not such a purist that I will be ripping out all that work. Instead, I will adjust to the shorter width. The first step was to frog out the flower motif on the right side of the first block below the top band and re-stitch it one stitch to the right for a more balanced look. I will make other adjustments as I go along since all the blocks on the left will be one stitch less wide than charted and all the blocks on the right will be two stitches short of the charted design. I will be much more observant of my next Primitive Needle project ... after all, the primitive irregularities add to the charm. Query: Don't you just hate it when you misread a chart? Sure, it's generally fixable but ... ! I have concluded that I misread charts because I have been stitching for over 30 years and tend to see what I expect to see when I do that first whole project at a glance scan. I need to be more alert and awake and aware. Well, after frogging, I continued stitching the first block, completing it before picking up ...

Workbasket's Quaker Sampler. Here, I just managed to stick with my plan to stitch one of the larger motifs and and two of the larger letters by my self-imposed weekly deadline. When I first saw GAST's Forest Glen, I thought it an ugly, muddy green ... in spite of the fact that I have always believed that there is no such thing as an ugly color in all of creation ... just poor light and bad settings. Well, I find I am justified in that belief since Forest Glen looks fine, thank you very much, against this fabric. I started this motif and hope to have it finished by Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Next, I made...

Some Small Progress on Ornament Finishing by gathering up all the various bits of needed cardboard and the stitched pieces. Today at work I will steal a bit of time from my lunch hour to use the copier and the paper slice to shape and cut my boards for five ornaments and four floss tags. I should be able to get the padding taken care of tonight and then finish the pieces throughout the week.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Linda, aka bengalcatlover, is the winner and I have e-mailed her asking for a snail mail address. I hope to drop her charts in the mail in a day or two.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Received my Pyn Keepe Exchange

I went to the post office to pick up an "undeliverable" package yesterday morning on the way into work and this is what I found: a wonderfully executed and exquisitely finished Quaker Acorn pyn keepe. I already have it on display as part of my Fall decor which just happens to involve quite a few other acorn pieces. My heartfelt thanks go to Bernadette Huysing, who is clearly a very skilled stitcher. I was lucky to draw her as my exchange partner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: Octber 16, 2011

Another busy work week made for very little stitching. I have picked up one of my 2010 WIPs, Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, and worked two more motifs and four more of the larger letters. It's very satisfying to work on a piece that has discrete parts that feel like individual finishes. I am going to try to do a motif and two letters a week on this piece for the rest of the year. It would be nice to have it done before 2012 turns it from WIP to UFO. On Saturday, I did get some finishing done ... see yesterday's post. And I frogged out the beak on my needlepoint owl sampler since I felt the Caron Watercolours was too thick and messy looking. And then, in very sudden fashion, I was hit with chills and fevers at midday. I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday running from bed to bathroom. Not much stitching possible under those circumstances. I think it will take nearly a week to rehydrate my weary body.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In a finishing sort of mood

Last night I finished stitching my adaptation of the Friendship Sampler [designer unknown, due to my sloppy downloading and printing]. Since I had Barbara's blogaversary gift awaiting a finish [photos to be shown once the piece is in its new home] and I wanted to finish the Sampler in the same way, I spent this morning assembling and trimming two pin pillows filled with ground walnut shells and lined with muslin. The pin pillow is pictured above a swatch of the backing fabric. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it enough so that you can see all the specialty stitches I used to make this a real sampler: the border is made up of brick stitches, tent stitches and a square Rhodes stitch and I incorporated lazy daisy, long stitches, Queen stitches and eyelet stitches into the body of the piece. I had a grand time making the piece my own. And while in a finishing mood, I went on to finish this little patriotic ornament from Prairie Schooler. I used some hand-dyed chenille from RR Reproductions as trim for both pin pillows and some hand-twisted white cord for the ornament. For the ornament, I used some beads leftover from a Kreinik kit to make the hanger and added this cute little silver USA charm that has been kicking around in my bead box for years. Once I have posted this entry, I'll return to measuring, cutting and padding the boards for five Town Square ornaments that have been languishing in the finishing basket.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Belated Monthly Giveaway

The early part of the month simply took on a hectic life of its own ... nine days without a blog entry, a weekend progress report and a Wentzler Wednesday report skipped over entirely, and worst of all, no monthly giveaway on the fourth. Life just happens sometimes, and you either keep pace or get barrelled over. Keeping pace, for me, meant letting go of a few leisure time activities. But I appear to be as caught up as I am likely to get, so I am picking up the various dropped threads and weaving them back into my routines. First back was the blogging over the past two days. Now I am ready to attend to the missed giveaway.

My apologies to any international stitchers who may follow this blog ... but with Election Day looming on our horizon here in the USA, I thought a giveaway of frankly patriotic charts would be appropriate. The charts are Calico Crossroads Star Spangled Scissor Finder and Trail Creek Farms House of Hallelujah. I may be in the minority but I rather like the so called off-year elections because I believe my vote in local and state elections not only has a greater impact on the outcome but that local and state election results have a greater impact on my day-to-day life. So, the question for this giveaway is a simple one: Which is more important to you: Presidential elections or state and local elections [i.e.: Congressional, Gubernatorial, State legislature and town & county races]? Why? The usual conditions will apply: leave an e-mail address in your comment if I won't be led to one by clicking on your user name; please commit to PIF any charts you might win, I'll do the drawing in the usual 10 days [10/23] and e-mail the winner.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Catching Up

Last week was a busy one: three 12 hour workdays, Mon-Wed and a half-day on Thurs followed by a 4 and 1/2 day mini-vacation in the Catskills. While I was away, this lovely package arrived from 123stitch. Two Prairie Schooler charts: Primitive Year-Go-Rounds and a chart that has all sorts of patriotic and election day type charts. And loads and loads of Caron Waterlilies and Watercolours skeins just right for Fall and Christmas stitching.

One would think I'd have gotten a lot of stitching done on the vacation but that was not the case. I did a considerable amount of wandering about Greene County visiting as many flea-market-y, low-end antique shops as I could find, enjoying the grand weather and the little bit of leaf color in the mountains, checking out some of the restaurants in the area and vegetating on the porch of the Bavarian Manor Inn. I found some great tea cups & saucers, a nice piece of green Depression glass and a bit of Staffordshire ware [tomorrow, I'll place photos on my other blog] as well as a darning egg and a very old pin cushion shaped like a miniature ottoman in the shops. I have been trying to remember the word that describes the wear specific to silk when the woof threads remain and the warp threads tear away. It's not shredding, or running or fraying. There is a very specific technical term, just out of reach of my aging memory ... how frustrating!

While vegging out on the porch of the Inn, I managed to read the better part of Jason Berry's new book, Render to Rome, about the financial scandals in the Catholic Church. The book confirms all my instincts about mistrusting any church official above the parish level. Having worked in Catholic schools and in parish ministry for over 20 years, I have seen too much and been disappointed too often to place much hope in the hierarchy. When my reading got to be a bit much to absorb with equanimity, I reverted to the more soothing activity of stitching. So much better for the blood pressure! Pictured here is the very little bit of stitching I managed. The lighthouse piece represents my start on a candle mat chart from Prairie Grove Peddler and the latest bit of Midnight Belle Soie stitching was done on the next Quaker motif on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, a WIP from 2010.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: October 2, 2011

The second three day weekend went as well as the first. It started on Friday with the discovery that the very noticeable and hard lump in my abdomen was merely a post-operative hernia and not a possibly cancerous tumor as I feared. A hernia may not be the best health issue to deal with but it is a lot less frightening than cancer. Since I will be working three 12 hour days in a row Monday through Wednesday, I did a lot more cooking and baking than stitching this weekend. I need to have plenty of leftovers for reheating throughout the early part of the week and I had some very ripe bananas that needed to be made up into a banana/walnut/chocolate chip cake. In baking the cake, I used a product called Stevia [a natural zero calorie sweetener made from a leafy green plant native to S. America] for the first time and I must say it performed well. A pot of red sauce using Italian sausages made with ground chicken was another experiment that turned out satisfactorily ... a healthier alternative to pork sausage and very nearly as tasty. And finally, a pot roast with a rich gravy made from low sodium beef stock, a white bordeaux and just barely carmelized onions.

And, since I am looking forward to a 4 day hiatus over the Columbus Day weekend, I expect I will catch up on all my stitching next weekend. Things do tend to even out. And, as to the stitching, I did manage to finish Aury's 2011 Quaker Heart and got a bit more done on the first block of Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie. I was a bit annoyed to note that I had failed to notice some irregularities in the chart for the top band: at three points the space between the diamond pattern was three stitches rather than two. I really do think designers should post a warning to unwary stitchers when they throw in the odd irregular repeat into a seemingly regular pattern. I am three stitches short on the width of the piece as a result but am not about to pull out all that stitching. I have carefully examined the rest of the chart and see no difficulty in carrying the shorter width down through the rest of the design. The blocks on the left will be one stitch less wide than charted and the blocks on the right will be two stitches less wide. It will not make an appreciable difference in the over-all mood or look of the piece. It just irks me that I didn't notice the irregular repeat in the first place. I will have to frog a bit of the stitching, the flower on the right of the first block, and move it one space to the right but that's better than frogging nearly the entire top band, the flower AND the right border of the first block.