Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Assessing November Goals

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. I may need another month before I can tackle this one again.
Crazy January Challenge: Continue Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie. Some work was done on this in the earlier part of the month ... enough to get a good start on the second box.

Needlepoint Project: Owl Sampler. Finish this piece and make into a pillow. No.
Sewing & Finishing: the four LHN pillows & two HE pin cushions. This month, I have finished 4 floss tags, 3 pin pillows, 1 strawberry emery and 1 padded flat ornament. I started work on a pieced Owl ornament [the first of four] and resumed work on a knitting bag I hope to use as part of a Christmas gift. These last two projects used upholstery fabric and even though I used a denim needle, the sturdiest I had on hand, there were problems. Such problems that my sewing machine simply quit in protest.

Surface Embroidery: finish The Fertile Circles Needlebook. No.

WIPS & UFOS from 2010: Continue work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, the Jacobean Elegance afghan, and the Beach Find Pansies panel. I decided that what little stitching I have been able to do this month would be focused on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler. I have managed to complete the outer rectangle of the larger motifs motifs and letters. And I got a start on the inner rectangle of smaller motifs and letters. I may actually finish this before 2011 comes to a close.
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, November 27, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: November 27, 2011

It's been all about Workbasket's Quaker Sampler this past week. I have managed to finish the large red letters on the lower right side and all the yellow and blue large motifs and letters across the bottom of the piece. And I even got a bit of a start on the green motif in the lower left corner. It is my hope to have the entire outer rectangle completed by Wednesday [the end of the month] leaving only the inner rectangle and the center motifs for the month of December. This is a late 2010 WIP and I would really like to have it completed by the end of 2011. One less WIP to carry forward into yet another year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Never was a name more apt. What is it with this American obsession with shopping? Consumerism has been raised to the status of a religion! And the Friday after Thanksgiving has become its high holy day. We even observe a vigil: Thanksgiving itself has become Black Friday Eve, what with stores opening before the turkey has cooled on our plates.

We all make jokes about doing our bit for the "stimulus" or for the "recovery"! Well, this aging ex-hippie is quite content to make do, use it up or do without. While I do tend to take the chic out of shabby chic, I have absolutely no problem with a bit of wear and tear on my denim jumpers and jeans or some fraying on the strap of a cloth handbag. I have clothing, a coat, shoes, handbags, etc. that are older than my adult children ... and still perfectly usable/wearable in spite of a certain sister's opinion, thank you very much. While most millenials would think my PC hopelessly outdated - it's six years old - my computer does everything I need it to do. I actively resist upgrades to my cell phone - hell, I only know how to use its most basic functions, anyway. Why would I want more bells and whistles to ignore? I am not a total fanatic: when I need an item, I buy the best quality I can afford and then wear it or use it until it is no longer functional ... usually a decade or two or three later. I believe in proper maintenance, within reason, of cars and appliances. I mend my clothing, replace buttons, polish my shoes. What's wrong with making things last?

So, while many Americans are clogging the thruways and mobbing the malls, I may do a little stitching. If I shop at all, it will be at the local grocery store, which is usually nearly empty on Black Friday. Go figure: the one thing that is essential to our continued existence, i.e: FOOD ... is the one thing we don't shop for on the day devoted to shopping.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It must be the holiday season starting up, but lately I have the uncharacteristic urge to tackle serious cleaning projects. Rather early in my marriage, my husband diagnosed me with AHS. He claims it is a disease shared by my mother and my sisters. Accardi Holiday Syndrome presents the following symptoms:
---the need to have an immaculately clean home, one that will pass the dreaded MOM inspection
---the need to decorate every room in the house, tastefully
---the need to produce a bakery shop full of pastries, Italian cookies, pies
---the need to cook all the traditional dishes of our childhood, including the marshmallow and sweet potato casserole, stuffing with Italian sausage & pignoli nuts, and broccoli with roasted garlic
---the tendency to walk around with a pocketed apron filled with tools, rags and cleansers and smelling of Murphy's Oil Soap
---the tendency to walk around muttering things like "If I paint the spare room tonight, will the paint dry by morning?" or worse, from a husband's point of view, " if I get Bill to paint the spare room..."
---the tendency to shop for the most unusual and most tailored-to-the-person gifts possible
---the need to wrap all gifts so that the seams match, rather like perfectly installed wallpaper
---and, finally, the need to fill the house with people who mess everything up and start the cycle all over again.

So ... if I don't post as often as usual between now and the New Year, know that I will return to my regular pace when the holidays end with our Jan 10 wedding anniversary and I have resumed my normal life, preferring some quiet stitching to obsessive compulsive channeling of Martha Stewart. By the way, please note, AHS predates Martha Stewart by a decade or two! Martha is really channeling my mother!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: Nov. 20, 2011

I have done hardly any stitching at all this week or even this weekend for that matter. After a horrendous work week of 65 hours, I spent most of my weekend catching up on laundry and finally cooking an evening meal instead of relying on take-out. I am getting too old to be working four more hours than I have spent years on the planet. The ratio should be inverse instead of converse. Next up, will be vacuuming and dusting, some serious bathroon scrubbing and finally, my share of the holiday cooking for the big multi-generational [four] bash at my brother's house. I'll get to see my brand new three week old great-nephew, Dominic, at Thanksgiving. It's odd but I am feeling both exhausted and energized all at the same time. It must be the holiday aura.

Well, back to stitching: I have been working on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler in a very desultory fashion all this week. I've stitched a bit of a motif, put it down, a bit more, put it down, made a mistake, frogged, re-stitched ... well, you get the idea. A motif that ordinarily would have been the work of one evening has stretched out into a week-long exercise. I was planning on putting up a photo of my progress such as it was but my camera battery is in need of recharging. I'll add the photo to this post after work tonight.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Ornament Tree

I had plans to post this much earlier in the month when I was still trying to post daily. But work has been crazy the past week and a half and I have consistently come home too tired to do anything but read light-hearted Nora Roberts romances. This puts me out of the running for NaBloPoMo.

I switched out the ornaments on my entryway tree from Halloween to Thanksgiving earlier this month and am enjoying this cheerful little greeting every day when I return from work. I did have to move the Pilgrim Woman with her pies to a less noticeable spot, though. Last year, my husband, in a thoroughly bemused tone, asked me why I had put a Groucho Marx ornament on the Thanksgiving tree. Apparently, as he was coming down the steps, a quick glance had him mistaking the lady's apron for a large nose, her outstretched arms with pies in hand for eyes and eyelashes, and the bottom of her skirt and her boots for a mustache. His question has forever changed the way I look at her ... all I see now is Groucho. And I was so pleased with the pretty little ornament before his comment. Here's one more view of the tree, showing some of the other ornaments.

Before you know it, it will be time to switch again, this time to Christmas ornaments. This year is going by way too quickly. It seems like the school year just started and I am already grading first quarter exams and preparing Progress Reports. We've already staged one of the two annual Whole Community Catechesis Events, one of the two annual Communion Breakfasts for the Confirmation candidates and most of the Safe Environment Programs for the children. I still have to squeeze in a fire drill or two before the snows start. It seems like the Fall months have just whizzed past. Coming up soon are the Catechist Christmas Party and Advent confessions for Grades 3-8 and the Reconciliation Mini-Retreat for Grade 2. I haven't even settled on the music for the Reconciliation service since our music minister has been out for nearly six weeks. Her doctors belatedly diagnosed her as having Lyme's disease, but only after it had done some damage to her heart ... hence the lengthy sick leave. On top of everything, her immune system was compromised and she ended up with coxsackie, further damaging her heart and lungs.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: Nov. 13, 2011

Between the diabetic episode in the early part of the week and the tight professional schedule in the later, not much was accomplished this week. Just a bit more work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler. However, there simply wasn't enough work done to warrant a photograph ... just the border of the next red motif.

Clearly, I have fallen down on the NaBloPoMo deal, having missed two posts but pressure of work does take precedence ovber blogging.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back to Friday Finishing

These are the last two machine sewing finishes I managed before my sewing machine decided it simply wasn't going to function any longer ... there's a problem with the tension that is causing the needle thread to break constantly. A separate and unidentified issue is causing needles to break every so often as well. I have replaced needles three times in as many weeks. The first is HiH's Wee Bee made up into another pin pillow filled with ground walnut shells and trimmed with chenille. The second is a BBD design, Bird in Hand, finished in the same manner except that I don't have any chenille in an appropriate color. I'll have to do a little internet shopping to see what's available. A number of vendors are expanding their chenille lines so I am hopeful that I'll find a rose color or, at the very least, an ivory/eggshell color.

For the rest of the weekend, all finishes will have to involve hand-sewing ... unless, of course, my back-up machine is functional. But I seem to recall that it needs a trip to the repair shop as well. I may just break down and buy a new machine though I heartily dislike the thought of learning a new machine. These others have been old friends for 25 and 41 years respectively.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monthly Giveaway Winner

I had a very good response to this particular giveaway, it appears my taste in fiber is far more popular than my taste in charts. My giveaways of gently used charts never seem to garner this much attention: 18 entries within two days of putting the giveaway up is something of a record for me. I used an online randomizer to choose # 14, Joanne . I'll be sending her an e-mail sometime today to get a mailing address. My thanks to all who participated.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mid-Week Musings

It's time to start planning the weekend finishing. I never did get to the Homespun Elegance pin cushions last weekend and I have been avoiding the four Prairie Schooler Seasons of ... pillows for a very long time though they have been on the goals list each month for the better part of this year. None of these finishes appears to be particularly difficult, just fiddly and time-consuming. So I believe the time has come to get to it. I have gathered the materials and tools necessary for these projects and laid them out on the dining room table. Finally, with them staring me in the face like this, perhaps, I may be guilted into finishing them this weekend. One other project I have laid out for the weekend is a series of owl finishes that I first saw on Erynne's blog. She is no longer blogging actively, at least, not under the same blog name. I miss her voice ... the voice of a very gifted young designer of cross-stitch and an able writer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Current Project in the Rotation ...

... is the Workbasket Quaker Sampler. I seem to be alternating between the Black'd Skie and the Quaker Sampler, lately ... probably, the result of my determination to finish at least one more WIP left from 2010 and one more of the three remaining 2011 CJC projects, unlikely though that may be. I know I will be carrying at least two of the 2010 WIPs into 2012: the Jacobean Elegance Afghan and a Brightneedle class project. And two of the 2011 CJC projects as well: Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons and Allessandre Adelaide's Zucca. Then, of course, I do have two new starts in 2012 above and beyond the CJC that are unlikely to be finished by December's end: The Sturbridge Box class project and the Prairie Grove Peddler Lighthouse Candle Mat. I think I shall have to discipline myself in 2012, no new starts till I finish three WIPs or UFOs. This is why I have joined a UFO Challenge Group for 2012: I have so many class pieces from 2005 and up that I could spend the whole year just finishing up what I have already started.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some Finishing, Some Stitching

9:30 am: I rather like this notion of devoting my three day weekends primarily to finishing. Today, I am seven projects closer to the bottom of the finishing basket than I was on Friday. And some of those pieces have been in the "finishing" basket for years. The Strawberry Emery dates from 2006, the Silver Needle piece from 2008 and the Time for Tea from Lord Knows When [I can't seem to find the blog entry for TfT's cross stitch finish]. Of course, the finishing basket still appears very full but once I start working on the Christmas pillows that will change. Four nine inch pillow forms take up an awful lot of space. My sewing/assembly finishes are rapidly overtaking my cross-stitch finishes. Currently, I have completed 29 cross-stitch projects and 27 sewing/assembly projects this year. But since it is back to stitching today, I thought I'd get a bit more work done on Quaker Sampler. More stitching, mind you, than on an ordinary Monday since I am having trouble with my sugar numbers this morning. The glucometer has not been my friend these past few days ... far too honest about Halloween indulgences and a Dunkin' Donuts breakfast on Saturday. In any case, at 516, I need to run my exercise tape, take a slightly increased dosage [as per the doctor's instructions] of my main medication, drink a lot of water and eat protein only today. It is not recommended that I drive till I get the numbers down to 250 or below and then continue the regimen until I am back in my usual 120 range. But I can sew and stitch. So maybe I will get a bit more finishing in today after all. And a motif done on the Quaker Sampler as well!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Progress Report: November 6, 2012

Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie: I have been progressing nicely on block 2 of this piece.

Sewing and Assembly Finishes: I devoted this weekend to finishing up four floss tags [see yesterday's post for photo], a Blackbird Designs Quaker Medallion strawberry emery from the JCS 2006 Christmas Ornament issueusing some recently acquired upholstery fabric samples for the leaves, a small padded wall hanging entitled Time for Tea [a free chart that I stitched so long ago that the designer's name does not immediately spring to mind] using some of that lovely hand-dyed chenille from R & R Reproductions in the color Smoke and a pin pillowmade from a Silver Needle free chart proclaiming that "I love to shop at The Silver Neede" trimmed in more of the chenille, this time in the color Cinnamon. I have one more piece prepped for a pin pillow finish but I am rather tired of sewing so I may be putting that off till next Friday. It is very pleasant indeed to see cross-stitched pieces finally transformed into usable stitching accessories or decorative items for the home. And, who knows, I someday may be able to reclaim the laundry basket that contains all my "to-be-finished" projects for its original purpose: carrying laundry up and down the stairs of my two story townhouse! I plan on working on my Workbasket Quaker Sampler for the remainder of the day. Perhaps I'll make enough progress to make a photo worthwhile tomorrow.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


November is National Blog Posting Month. Can I manage to post one blog entry every day for a month? I am certainly verbose enough. The question is whether I am disciplined enough to post daily. I know that the posts at the beginning of the month were wildly off-topic for this stitching blog. Though I sometimes post about my professional life [especially as it impacts stitching time], I rarely post about my personal feelings. For those who were thrown off stride by the atypical posts, I can only say that though I am very good at compartmentalizing my life ... and I don't know whether that is a good or a bad thing ... sometimes even I can't keep everything in tidy little boxes tied up in pretty color-coded ribbons. But for now at least, it is back to stitching and stitching related topics. I spent a good part of Thursday morning prepping some of my floss tags for assembly. I prepped the remaining two Friday morning at the beginning of my three day weekend. And I tackled the actual assembly today. Or more specifically, I tackled trying to decipher the directions on my new toy, a Crop-a-Dile, so that I could pre-punch the holes for the grommets. I don't know what it is with me and directions for crafting accessories. My mind just doesn't work in the same fashion as the authors of those ever so clear, ever so detailed instructional leaflets. I took me ages to figure out how to use of my cording drill properly. I simply don't understand even the simplest machines/mechanical theories. This is where I really need my engineer son ... how dare he move to the West Coast just because the Navy told him to? Oddly enough, the Crop-a Dile was a cinch to use. It'll take a bit more practice to get the knack of lining things up precisely. But my first four attempts at Floss tags didn't turn out too badly. They are all Prairie Schooler promo cards: a house on a soft spring day, another house in a summer thunderstorm, a barn on a crisp autumn day and a cabin in a winter snowfall. Next, I'll be working on an emery strawberry, the two Homespun Elegance pedestal pin cushions I'd like to finish up and two more small pin pillow finishes. Maybe I'll have some more finish photos to show tomorrow. Now that I have three day weekends when I can really spread out my crafting stuff on the dining room table and just leave it there for the duration, I am determined to work on finishing as many of the small stitching accessories and/or the seasonal decor pieces I have on hand. The possibilities are pretty broad: ornaments, pillows, stand-ups, cubes or self-framed. I do have several heirloom quality pieces that I will need to send to a professional framer and soon, if I am to have them back in time for Christmas giving. All I want to have left in the "finishing" basket for 2012 are pieces I am accumulating for quilts or wall hangings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Monthly Giveaway

It seems like I just mailed out the last giveaway. October simply zipped by me. Let's hope my time sense returns to normal this month. I'd like to savor the days rather than wonder where they went. This giveaway will be a touch different. No gently used charts are on offer this month. Instead, I will be offerring some full skeins/cards of Olde Willow linen floss. The colorway is what I tend to think of as a traditional sampler colorway. The photo is pretty accurate as to the color values ... at least it is on my computer monitor. Obviously there will be no PIF aspect to this particular giveaway, so the rules will be somewhat abridged:

1. leave a comment as to why you would enjoy receiving this giveaway.

2. if clicking on your name does not lead me to an e-mail address, include one in your message.

Good luck to all who enter.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It's odd and even frightening how quickly the daily routine swallows a tragedy. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a 16 year old boy. Today, I am immersed in setting up an e-mail distribution list for all current students and their families, finishing up some Safer Spaces reports, preparing the next fundraiser and beginning the writing of a classroom event for parents and children in two weeks time. The memory of Jose's face will fade only to be revived occasionally when I happen to see his memorial card in my Book of Christian Prayer or when I see his mother and sister at Sunday Mass. I feel that I should stand with fist in the air, shouting his name so that it will not be forgotten that Jose walked these halls, sat in these classrooms ... and that we adults, who should have protected him, did not recognize his pain or heal his wounds and don't deserve to sink back into complacency and routine so very quickly and easily. The sharp sting of "what if..." should linger longer. What a weakling I am, unable to hold a focus long enough to learn a lesson.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sadly Appropriate

I know it's just a bizarre coincidence but this is the right piece to be working on today. Last night I went to the wake service and then,this morning at 11am, I will be attending the funeral Mass of one of my former Confirmation students. A gentle giant, an honor student, a quiet and somewhat introspective 16 year old boy who committed suicide last week. For a while, we were all hoping he had simply run away. He hadn't left a note and had taken a taxi down to NYC. But his destination, 178th Street was problematic since it is within walking distance of the George Washington Bridge. He was found in the Hudson River but it took two days to identify him. The young have so little perspective: one has to wonder what heart ache was so very great that he preferred death to life. I haven't talked to him in over two years but I have seen him at Mass occasionally with his mother and his sister. I remember him as a michievious little boy, a fifth grader who snagged a sandwich for himself and one for his kid sister from a platter that wasn't actually "unwrapped" yet. But he became very serious as a teenager. I remember his slow smile, all the more precious for being so rare. I remember him as a 9th grader, one year older than all the others in his Confirmation class, a bit sheepish about being bigger than all the other kids, especially his diminutive younger sister who was in the same class. I recall seeing him bussing tables at a local restaurant owned by his older brother, giving my husband and I a shy nod of recognition. I remember his mother proudly telling me about how he encouraged and inspired her to go back to school for her R.N. certification. The wake was difficult, as is any wake for a young person. I think I have mentioned every so often that I am the sort of person who operates more from the head than the heart. So to be embraced by the grieving mother who then burst into tears was a shock. All I could do was stroke her back and murmur that I was so sorry for her loss, and listen to her broken sentences about her baby boy who had promised to be with her forever. I knelt before the closed coffin to say the Lord's Prayer and when finished, found myself murmuring the Guardian Angel's Prayer, a favorite childhood prayer of mine, for a boy who was no doubt being guided even now to peace and serenity before the Throne. May God grant him eternal peace, the peace he clearly did not have here. And may God grant those of us left behind the wisdom to recognize and help others like him. And, still, I wonder what drove him to the G. Washington Bridge and the cold Hudson River below.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blogaversary Giveaway

Barbara, who writes a lovely blog called mainely stitching , won my blogaversary giveaway back in September and requested a patriotic piece. It took me a while, but this is what I came up with using Glory Bee's complimentary chart, Liberty, which I converted to Belle Soie silks. I kept to the same muted palette as in the charted GAST overdyes for two reasons. First, that palette worked so well with my chosen backing fabric and chenille trim. [I have photographed the pillow against the backing fabric, one of three coordinated fabrics of which I bought 1/2 yard each some time ago. There is a print and a larger plaid in the same colorway. Wonderful stuff.] Second, I remember one of Barbara's posts in which she stated that she thought Buckeye Scarlet was one of the ugliest reds imaginable ... so I figured I'd better steer away from the traditional bright red-white-blue. I chose the finish of a small pillow lined with muslin and filled with ground walnut shells so that it could be used either as a pin pillow in her craft room or a bean bag toy for her children's indoor winter amusement ... it can get pretty cold on the Maine coast during the long winters and a variety of indoor games are a maternal survival technique! I added a little brass charm of the Liberty Bell that has been kicking around in my stash for nearly a decade. Until this piece, I had never found just the right project for it ... but it works perfectly here. I am pleased with the result and hope Barbara enjoys the piece as much as I enjoyed making it.