Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Brief Stitching Moratorium

Yesterday passed without so much as one stitch taken. The same will likely be true of today. I have a part-time secretary during the day and a part-time program assistant during the 17 hours that classes are in session. The program assistant has been out for the past week and will be out for the remainder of this week, recuperating from surgery. While being careful to let her know she should take as much sick leave as she needs to recover properly, I have also let her know that this whole experience really has opened my eyes to how very much I depend on her. I am only picking up half of her routine duties in addition to my own and I am exhausted when I get home. I am making note, so I can report all to her when she returns, just how many parents, students and catechists have noted her absence and asked for her. She is a real people person and has what can only be called a sunny disposition. I may be the brain of this program but she is the heart. Josephine, get well soon ... the front office just isn't the same without you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Assessing January Goals/Setting February Goals

Crazy Class Project Challenge:
Resume work on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts class pieces. This has been moving along nicely, in spite of several visits from the dreaded frog. Although I have not finished either the sampler or the ornament, I am down to the last four rows of the sampler and should see a finish in February.
2010/11 WIPs:
Continue to work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler. Finished 1/21/12. Resume work on Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons. I am amazed at how quickly this one is going. In just one week of steady work I have stitched just a little less than half a page of chart.
Off Goal Progress: worked on a new start BH&G Tooth Fairy Pillow.

Crazy Class Project Challenge:
Finish The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Sampler and resume work on the ornament. Next project will be Phyllis Mauer's Kogin Tea Cozy.
2010/11 WIPs: Finish Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons.
2012 Start: Earned when finished with both the Workbasket Quaker Sampler [from the 2010-2011 WIP List] and The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Sampler [from the Class Project List]: The Primitive Shop ornament from the Town Square SAL.
Sewing and Assembly Finish: Town Square SAL Star Theatre ornament and CEC Mitten ornament.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: January 29, 2012

This entire week has been devoted to Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons, which was on my list of Crazy January Challenge 2011 projects, and therefore qualifies as a 2010-2011 WIP. I am in the home stretch, working on page one [I started from the bottom and worked up]. But if the past is any indication, this page could take as long as three or four months to complete. I am hoping that won't be the case though, since I have been moving pretty quickly on this project during the past week. I think I have a better understanding of the flow of the design now and that helps me stitch more effectively. It's not my usual m.o. to work on a single project. Most of the time I have a five project rotation going. But in 2012, I have challenged myself to clean up my stitching act. The plan is to use a three project rotation this year since I am concentrating on finishing up class projects and the more recent WIPs. Three different projects seems to be just enough to give me the variety I crave but few enough to keep me focused on the goal of actually finishing pieces ... instead of starting something new two or three times a month and ending up with a huge pile of WIPs. In theory, I should end 2012 with a whole bunch of finishes and a very short list of UFOs/WIPs.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Plan Unravels

The PLAN had been to switch back to the Holly and Hearts Sampler on Thursday and, with luck, have a second finish in January. But I just wasn't in the mood to search for a tiny error in the back-stitched tracery that, though tiny, threw off the entire symmetry of the row. So I kept going with Tracery Dragons since that was moving along quite nicely with barely a frog in sight. Oh, there were a few teeny frogs involving the removal of a dozen or so misplaced stitches, but nothing major. So instead of having another finish [the Sampler] for January, I have made more progress than expected on a WIP. Not a bad trade-off. Who knows, maybe I'll even manage two finishes in February: the sampler and the dragons. Here are some before and after photos to demonstrate just how much progress has been made. [Note to those unfamiliar with Teresa Wentzler's designs: if you try to stitch her designs in a rational order, working steadily in a consistent direction, you change needles every 2 or 3 minutes. For TW, a large color block tends to be a dozen or so stitches and though her designs are pretty solidly stitched leaving little bare linen, that solid stitching is made up of multitudes of confetti stitches and quarter stitches. The end result is spectacular but the process is complicated.] So here is how things looked on Wednesday evening and the second shot shows how things looked Saturday evening. I even managed to complete one of the dreaded roses without too much trouble. I am trying to decide if I want to pause when I have completed the left side of page one and switch to doing all the back-stitching and the specialty stitching. It always give me a great deal of satisfaction to see the design come alive as I go. It keeps me motivated. And without the defining back stitches, a TW piece tends to look like an impressionist painting viewed out of focus.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ushering in the Year of the Dragon

I picked Tracery Dragons up again for the first time in approximately three months and have made some fairly good progress. At least, I am impressed with my progress. Back in October of 2011, I found this very slow going. But that has changed completely! I am moving through page 1 much more rapidly than I did through pages 2 or 3. Perhaps it is because I understand the flow of the design better, having stitched and backstitched more than half the piece. Or perhaps I just needed to take a break from it. Or perhaps it is because the only rose I have had to stitch so far is viewed in profile rather than full on. I hope I can maintain this pace and finish the dragons by the end of February. There was one small setback when I had to frog and restitch two of the leaves that were two threads further to the left than they should've have been ... the result of stitching in a poorly lit waiting room. But that was easily fixed. However, I have been working on the dragons for five days in a row. It is time for me to switch back to The Holly & Hearts Sampler, the other piece in my current rotation. I don't want to burn out on the TW piece again, like I did last Fall.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: January 22, 2012

As Hermit and Stitching Weekend continued, I worked diligently on my current monthly goals.

Crazy Class Project Challenge: The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hearts Sampler. Aside from finishing up the brick stitch row, I have stalled on this piece. I need to get the motivation to really examine that last row of tracery below the heart to see where I made my mistake and then frog and re-stitch. While my cold was at its worst, I didn't have the concentration to do so. And, now that I am back to stitching on Tracery Dragons after a three month hiatus, that's all I want to stitch. Maybe this week, after the novelty of the dragon wears off, I'll finish the sampler. I am so close to a finish and it would be fantastic to have two finishes this month!

2010-2011 WIPs List: Finished The Workbasket's Quaker Sampler on Saturday 1/21. I turned it into an anniversary sampler by putting Bill's and my initials in the medallions flanking the heart, in which I stitched the year of our marriage. No sooner did I put that down, then I promptly resumed work on Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons. I appear to have recovered my enthusiasm for the piece and have made a fair amount of progress. But then I have been working on areas that are comprised mostly of the trellis and the leaves, each of which only have 5-6 color changes and work up pretty quickly. Unlike the roses and the dragon, which have many more color changes, lots of confetti placement and a nightmare of fractional stitching. The stems and branches are also slow going because they are so irregular and require such careful counting even though most only have 3-4 color changes. When last seen, the dragon looked like this, with pages two and three of the chart stitched and backstitched. And now that I have gotten a fair start on the stitching of page one, it looks like this.

And, I'd also like to announce the winner of the two fried egg buttons: Mary Ann, #10 in the CAY SAL. Only 7 members of the SAL had signed on for the contest at the time I printed out the entries on Friday morning [one day later than planned]. And I chose the winner by writing the seven numbers on a sheet of paper, closing my eyes, and jabbing the paper with my finger. Not particularly scientific but I am sure Mary Ann doesn't mind.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hermit Weekend > First Finish of 2012

I have noted on a few other blogs that something called "Hermit Weekend" is going on. Well the timing is perfect for me: with 6" of snow on the ground and the stuff still falling, I am more than content to stay home and stitch. A pot of tea, season one of Bones on the DVD and my current stitching rotation - what could be better? Does it count that my husband is hermit-ing along with me. He doesn't stitch but he enjoys a good DVD marathon. The first piece in my rotation, Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, was started December 5, 2010 and finished today, January 21, 2012. It is stitched on Silkweaver's Shadowlands 36ct linen with one strand of GAST overdyed cotton floss in Forest Glade, Midnight, Cranberry and Gold Leaf. The linen and the Forest Glade are substitutions for the designer's recommendations. Even as far back as 2010, I was making a concerted effort to stitch from stash as much as possible. The next project I picked up is from my 2010-2011 WIPs List: Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons. I'll post photos tomorrow in my weekend progress report. And, of course, I will find time to work on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hearts Sampler from my Crazy Class Project Challenge later this weekend. The sampler and the dragon should keep me busy for the remainder of the month. If I manage to earn a new start this month [by finishing one class project and one 2010-2011 WIP], I do believe it will be one of the Town Square SAL ornaments. I had wanted it to be one of the hearts I plan to excerpt from the Shepherd's Bush Winter Hearts Sampler to make an ornament but I don't think I shall have the time to complete it before the Valentine's Tree comes down. I was awarded the Shepherd's Bush piece, all kitted up, at a Stitcher's Hideaway several years ago. It's a pretty design, the sort of thing I would admire in someone else's home but probably not hang on my own walls. But broken up into four ornaments for my Valentine's Day tree ... now, that's another story.

In other news, somewhat stitch related, I have chosen the winner of the pair of Patti A's scrambled egg buttons that I offered to the Crabby All Year SAL group over at 123stitch. It's a piece that I stitched when it was first published and I wanted to share my pleasure in it with people currently working on it. I find it mildly annoying that, though I limited my giveaway to members of the SAL, since the buttons were made specifically for Crabby All Year, some non-SAL members have tried to sneak in. Why do some people have to be so aquisitive and greedy, insisting on trying for anything that is free whether they have a use for it or not? In any case, the winner will be announced on Sunday. And I am considering selling an OOP, exclusive to Silver Needle, limited edition kit from Just Nan. I have always given things away in the past, but if memory serves me correctly, I spent a hefty sum on this kit [Lindy from Silver Needle must be a hypnotist - she's way too good at marketing]. It would be nice to get some of that investment back since this piece is really not my style. It will be my first sale of stash and I'd never have thought to do such a thing if it hadn't been for an "In Search Of" post on a message board I frequent. I'll ask for my payment in the form of a gift certificate since the buyer is from Australia and I have never done Pay-Pal. Even so, it feels awkward breaking the pattern of giving away what I no longer want, as if I'm the one being greedy now!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: January 15, 2012

This has been a busy weekend professionally: Saturday morning and early afternoon were consumed by the Reconciliation mini-retreat for my second graders and Sunday was a Catechist's Spirituality Day [based on The Serenity Prayer]. I had 43 darling little second graders at the first and I took 4 of my 33 catechists to the second. So, not too much stitching this weekend nor during the preceding week. And all this while I have been continuing to deal with the Everready Bunny of colds, that has been going and going since New Year's Eve. For most of this week, in an effort to evade the frog, I switched from my rather complex WIPs to a virtually mindless project, BH&G Tooth Fairy Pillow [see photo on 12/14 post]. So, in addition to getting less stitching done, most of what was done, was off-goal. I did start feeling a bit better Friday night and, during the weekend, finished off the blue motif and the green motif in the smaller rectangle and started on the central row of medallions for personalization. Since we just celebrated our 41st anniversary on the 10th, I believe I will place a B in the first medallion, the date 1971 in the central heart and an R in the third medallion. And since this is a three day weekend in the USA, celebrating Matin Luther King Day, I was able to get in some more stitching today. So, I am closing in on my first finish of 2012. I'd be a lot prouder of that fact if it weren't a WIP dating from 2010. But I'll happily accept any finish at all since I usually already have one by mid-January.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I really don't want to jinx things but ...

I am beginning to feel better. The cough lingers but I can breath again and my eyes pretty much feel like they are going to remain in their accustomed place on my face. So, better. Further proof that I am recovering: I picked up the Quaker Sampler last night and started stitching on goal again. Granted, the Quaker Sampler is the easiest piece in my current three project on-goal rotation but, easy or not, at least I am back on task. During the sad and sorry days when I wandered off-goal, hounded by fear of the frog, I did manage to complete the message portion of the Tooth Fairy Pillow and start on the border comprised of teeth and coins. The photo shows the message ... there's no point in trying to show the teeth since the white and ecru fade into the fabric. That'll change with the back-stitched outline. I'll get back to the piece sometime before Liam turns 6. That gives me two years. It's a "grandma" stitch, chosen solely for the pleasure it will give the grandchildren, and not for the pleasure of actually stitching it. I stopped stitching "cute" the moment my kids out grew it and plan to limit "cute" stitching during the early grandma years as well. I'll stitch simple, I'll stitch funky, I'll stitch whimsical for these little darlings ... Halloween Goody bags, Christmas gift bags, Christmas ornaments, bean bags ... all that and more. But this Tooth Fairy Pillow is decidedly "cute" ... indeed, the whole notion of a pillow for conveying baby teeth to the afore-mentioned fairy is just too "cute" for words. So, I'll will work on it at widely spaced intervals ... stitching on it when too sick to care about what I am stitching seems to be the perfect strategy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Apparently, there will be three Friday the 13ths this year: in January, April and July. And no, I am not so superstitious that I felt the need to look this up. It just happened to be mentioned by one of the deejays on the morning drive time radio show I listen to each morning. Since three Friday the 13ths in one year is an unusually high number, I just put it out there for what it is worth: an interesting bit of trivia with which to win a bet. I am sure some ambitious soul could search the internet for the year with the most Friday the 13ths, but I am not such a soul. At least, not today. I am currently winning the battle with my husband for bragging rights to the worst cold of the season and have a horrendous headache to boot. My research ambitions are at a very low ebb, for the moment. Maybe I'll be more in the mood to do a little arcane research in April or July, when the subject becomes current again. I do believe it is time to put an end to my delirious, cold medication induced ramblings ... maybe some kind soul will drop by, make me some tea and tuck me up on the couch with fleece throws and the remote at the ready to continue my Stargate Atlantis marathon. Who am I kidding? I'll make my own tea, get my own throw, find the remote myself and generally nurse myself. I hate being a grown-up sometimes! Having depressed myself with these thoughts, I figured I might as well take the time to google the topic before trudging downstairs to be both patient and nurse. As per Wikipedia: Between 2001-2028, there are four years with as many as three Friday the 13ths: 2009, 2012, 2015, 2026. But that's the top number: some twos and ones but no fours. For some reason that I did not have the energy to delve into, all calculations of what day a particular date falls upon are done in 28 year cycles. For those who are interested in pursuing this riveting topic, follow this link for further data. Now, really, I am going to bury myself under several layers of fleece blankets for the remainder of the day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What to stitch when you really shouldn't stitch at all ...

Since my sinus infection/head cold/croupy cough combo has reached the point where even my eyelids are in agony, I decided it would be the better part of valor NOT to stitch on The Holly & Hearts Sampler or the Quaker Sampler yesterday. Instead, I pulled out an old kit, BH&G Tooth Fairy Pillow, that I had salvaged from the huge clearing out of my mother's crafting stash [remember January 2010?]. I knew at the time that it would make a great "grandma" gift. Well, the grandchildren are only 4 and 2 but eventually they will be loosing baby teeth so I may as well be prepared. Even though I am not crazy about Aida cloth, generally avoiding it like a plague, this particular swatch is relatively soft and supple. It has just enough body to make stitching in hand practicable. A good thing, since digging this kit out of storage exhausted whatever energy I had, leaving me too weak to search for an appropriate hoop or set of scroll rods. Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly! It's obvious that I didn't spend all that much time stitching yesterday. Even so, this little bit of embroidery distracted me from my head cold for a while, another good thing. Lord, I must be channelling Martha Stewart in my delirium! I am still trying to figure out how I was able to spring back from major surgery in 2010 and now let a mere cold lay me low! Sure, I am two years older but I am generally healthier, having lost weight and gotten into a proper medication regimen. I guess it all comes down to accepting the mysterious truth that minor ailments often feel worse than major ones. Probably because our bodies are not fooled into pumping out the adrenalin for anything short of serious.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Little Christmas Contest Winner, A Belated Announcement

You must forgive me. My husband and I have been competing to see who can have the worst cold of the season for the past week. I believe I am winning though the contest has been fierce. It has kept me from attending to business, like my promise to choose a person for whom to stitch a small something featuring a favorite stitching theme. The person for whom I have chosen to stitch [yes, I know most people would say "the person I will be stitching for" but once an English teacher, always an English teacher] is Jo because she likes both cats and Halloween and I have the perfect chart combining the two themes and a delicious bit of fabric that will work for it. Now Jo, don't be expecting it immediately ... I will be kitting it up tonight ... but this year I am "earning" my new starts by completing 1 project from the Crazy Class Project Challenge and one piece from my 2010-11 WIP list. So it may be a while before I earn a start and there is one project ahead of you. Figure sometime in March for a mailing date.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Entry Hall Tree Project

I removed the Christmas ornaments from the entry hall tabletop tree on Jan. 7 and replaced them with hearts to celebrate my Jan. 10 anniversary. The hearts will remain up through the end of February. Then the tabletop tree comes down till Memorial Day when I put up all my patriotic ornaments. I still have to work on some Celtic ornaments for March and St. Patrick's Day and some Easter ornaments for April and some Spring ornaments for most of May and something suitable for September if I am to keep the tabletop tree decorated year round. But those will be projects for other years. For 2012, I am hoping to stitch one or two more heart ornaments before I take the tree down on Leap Day [aka Sadie Hawkins Day] ... what better day to take down all the heart ornaments than the day celebrating the old-fashioned notion that for a woman to propose marriage was quite the rarity, occurring but once every four years.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: January 8, 2012

I was quite happy with my progress on my Crazy Class Project Challenge, The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Sampler ... until, that is, I realized I'd have to frog a healthy portion of two rows because of an error that throws off the symmetry by two lousy threads. I was congratulating myself for selecting the right piece to start my challenge because I had been zipping along quite nicely. In fact, I thought this was a much easier stitch than I had remembered it being. What can I say? Pride goeth before a fall. The first photo shows the progress unvisited by the frog. I decided to go with the alphabet after all, after looking at various alphabets for a monogram. Every style I liked, and thought suited the overall look of the sampler, couldn't be made to fit the space. Then came the lattice work row. I stitched it at least four times in the long stitch as directed but then when it came down to do the tacking stitches, the bottom row of tacks didn't line up properly. I finally gave up and cheated by doing a series of diamond pane stitches and tacking down the intersections. Same look, less aggravation. The next few rows of backstitching and herringbone stitches were easy enough. But then I made a rookie mistake in the next tracery row, missing one lousy little backstitch, throwing the symmetry off by two linen threads. The result: I'll have to frog nearly all the right side of the tracery, the right Rhodes heart and beading and the backstitching immediately below to line things up properly. Even so, I am expecting a finish before next Sunday. Since I am making equally gratifying progress on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler from my 2010-2011 WIP List, I may have two finishes within the week. And in my mad little two steps forward, one step backward world ... that will earn me one new start! I think it will have to be one of the heart ornaments I want to add to my January-February Tree, celebrating my wedding anniversary and Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Challenge Progress: Holly & Hearts

Now, clearly, I am violating all the rules of a true Crazy Challenge. I am not frantically changing projects daily for the first 10 or 15 or 30 days of the year. I am not posting progress photos on a daily basis. I have not joined WIPocalyspe or any other formal challenge group, nor am I posting photos on a group site. I am just doing my own thing. And there is a logic underlying my challenge madness. I had wanted to attend Sue Donnelly's Alumni Retreat in March or the Sturbridge Retreat in early summer but I decided I can't justify going on another Stitcher's Hideaway, much as I love them, till I have completed at least a few of the class projects I have been accumulating since I first discovered CATS in 2005. This is not to say I have never completed a class project. I have, truly, I have! All of the Stitching Banquet projects from CATS 2005 and 2006 are done. However, that being said: nothing else has been finished. A look at my Class Projects sidebar tells the whole sad story. But 2012 is the year all that is going to change. Currently, I have this image of myself as Marley's Ghost from A Christmas Carol, but instead of money boxes and deed cases shackled to my ankle, there are all these projects, dragging at me and causing me to stagger and stumble. Of course, being a neat and tidy stitcher, all the projects are safely sealed in Zip-Loc bags to keep them pristine as I drag them behind me in ever more tangled and twisted numbers. But, finally, the time has come to eschew denial and to start managing my Stitcher's ADD and develop some coping mechanisms that will allow me to re-enter the mainstream stitching community. I fully intend to finish enough of the old projects so that I can attend the October Stitcher's Hideaway with a clear conscience. Well, that's the plan anyway. So for some progress photos. When last seen, Row 13 of Holly and Hearts was stitched. Since then, I have added the Rhodes Hearts, Long Stitched Squares and Tacked Lattice Stitches to this area and I have been doing the beading as I go along, carefully rolling my linen with flannel as I work with my scroll bars. This is another form of self-gratification and self-motivation: it really pleases me to see the piece come alive and makes me wish to continue to the next row and the next and the next. I am wondering now how I ever put this piece down. [Of course, I put it down because, at the time, something even shinier caught my eye ... but that jackdaw mentality is something I am working on, thank you very much]. I have also reached that stage of the project where I start dreaming ahead, wondering how I am going to frame the piece. Should I go very Baroque with an elaborately carved frame in winter white touched with silver and a winter white matte? That would complement the piece quite nicely. Or should I keep the frame very simple, possibly green in color and select a matching green matte [both the color of DMC 500] and showcase the design with the contrast? That might work. Or should I go for something in between? I have a feeling I am going to really enjoy my next visit to the framer. Still, all that's several weeks in the future. For now, here is what Holly and Hearts looks like with several more rows completed. First, a photo of the tracery heart in all its beaded and bedazzled glory. And next, a photo of my progress on the alphabet rows. I am really not liking this alphabet. The instructions indicate it is to be stitched "over one" which is not entirely accurate, given the height and width of the letters. Furthermore, since this is a back-stitched alphabet, some of the stitches slip under the linen and have to be teased out and restitched. The only way I seem to be able to keep everything on the surface of the linen is to stitch every other stitch and then go back and fill in the blanks. Tedious and I am still not satisfied ... the letters just don't seem as well defined and crisp as they should be. And securing ends on the back of the linen is a nightmare. If I weren't so far along I might consider putting in a monogram in larger lettering ... heck, I still might do just that. A lower band in the sampler has space for the year in large numbers, so a monogram in letters sized comparable to the numbers shouldn't be at all out of place. The more I think of it the more I like this alternative. I guess I will be frogging this evening ... or maybe not. I'll have to think about this a bit more. Opinions from readers are welcome ... just leave a comment.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Goals

It just occurred to me that, while I placed my January Goals in the sidebar, I never did actually write a blog post about them.

Class Project Challenge: Resume work on The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts class pieces.
2010/11 WIPs: Continue to work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler and resume work on Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons

I have decided that the time has come to accept the fact that I am definitely slowing down [part of the aging process, no doubt] and adjust my goals/expectations accordingly. This has the side benefit that, if I manage to exceed my stated goals, my already ridiculously healthy self-esteem will get a nice boost.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Second Annual Stash Budget Accounting: 2011

Last year, prompted by all the talk on message boards and in blogs about how the current economy changed, and continues to change, the stitching industry, I decided to track my own spending.

Grand Total Spent in 2010: $630.97
Grand Total Spent in 2011: $981.26

… and now for the 2011 breakdown:
On Charts: $ 46.49
On Fibers: $284.33
On Fabrics: $ 54.00
On Embellishments [Beads, buttons]: $ 6.20

On Tools and Accessories: $ 36.24
On Framing: ---------
On Books, Magazines and Subscriptions: ---------
On Classes and Retreats: $450.00
EGA Membership: $ 60.00

And on the ever present shipping/handling: $ 44.06

Since I have continued to stitch primarily from stash, it is not surprising that my biggest expenditure has been on classes with floss, fiber, fabric and tools combining at $427.26 to make the next largest expenditure. As for the shipping and handling, with the exception of a few runs to Michael's or A.C. Moore for DMC, all my ordering has been done with out-of-state shops in Virginia, Utah and California. I regret that there is no LNS in my area.

I will be working primarily on old class projects and WIPs and UFOs in 2012. As a result, I expect spending to shift from materials to finishing. Framing will be my big expense in 2012. And since framing is so very expensive, I may have to skip my usual Stitcher's Hideaway this year. I had hoped to do The Alumni Retreat this year but I think I may wait a bit and see how things go. I can always do the October Mystic Hideaway if the finances are all rosy. I am sure I have missed a few expenditures here and there but, for the most part, this is a pretty fair estimation of spending this year. Now, if the fates would just cooperate and send someone to open up a brick and mortar LNS within a reasonable distance, I could save $50 a year on shipping and handling charges ... or am I being too selfish ... I don't know, major small business investment vs my personal convenience ... Nah!!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Challenges, Challenges

I worked on my first Class Challenge project on Sunday and Monday. If you want to see where I left off before this became a UFO, see this post for the last photo I could find. But I managed to complete the tracery heart that is Row 13 in the chart, with the exception of the specialty stitches and beading. Today, I will tackle the three Rhodes hearts and the specialty stitch in the center. There is a heart shaped Christmas ornament included in the class packet which I had begun on the first day of class but abandoned in favor of the sampler as the class proceeded. It is basically a slightly larger version of the tracery heart pictured above. I have to say I have certainly recovered my enthusiasm for this piece. It's been awhile since I have done a sampler that has involved so many specialty stitches and a limited but very elegant palette. I am having a lot of fun rediscovering this piece. Once I have finished the two pieces in this project, I shall move on to the next piece from the list that calls my name, probably the Japanese Kogin Tea Cosy. Each and every one of these class projects [see sidebar list] excited me enough at one time to lay down hard-earned cash to take the classes ... and with the exception of one or two, they still do. It will be interesting to see how many I will be able to complete this year. I also continued to work on Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, a WIP from 2010. I finished the yellow motif on the right side of the inner rectangle and got started on the blue motif in the top leg of that rectangle. Still another motif and three medallions to go, not to mention the personalization, so it will be a while before I have my first finish from the 2010 WIP list. As I stated in an earlier post, I intend to finish one piece from the Challenge List and one piece from the 2010/2011 WIP list to earn a new start. Depending on just when I manage to earn my start, I have plans. If I manage to finish the two samplers noted above by mid-January, I'll use my new start on a heart ornament I have wanted to stitch for my Anniversary and Valentine's Day Tree. If, on the other hand, I finish the samplers in late January or early February, I'll bow to the reality that adding a heart ornament to the tree is not going to happen. Instead, I'll start my 2012 BAP: Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking. If I start it early in the year, maybe, just maybe, it will be done for Liam's fifth Christmas in 2012!

I have been reading a number of other end of year/beginning of the new year posts on the many blogs that I follow. Oddly enough, many of us have had several things in common during 2011: we all seem to be reporting fewer finishes than normal, both stitching and finish-finishing; many of us had a tougher than usual personal year and many of us are hoping for a much better 2012, both as regards stitching and personal goals.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Class Project Challenge

I have decided that my 2012 Challenge will be completing all the unfinished class projects I have been accumulating since 2005. Since some of the projects on the list involve multiple items, the total number of finished objects will be 24. That, of course, assumes that I will succeed. I have listed them here in the order in which I acquired them. However, I shall be stitching them in no particular order ... just as the mood takes me. I am determined to finish one piece from this list and one piece from either the 2010 or 2011 WIP Lists to "earn" the privilege of starting a new project ... a sort of two steps forward, one step back approach to the whole WIP/UFO issue. In keeping with my usual practice of stitching something Christmas-y in January, I'll be starting with the Holly and Hearts Sampler and ornament.

But here is the entire list:

Lori Birmingham's Pansy Garden Nantucket Style Basket (2005 CATS project),

Catherine Jordan's Pretty Picot Edges (2006 CATS project),

Karen Bovard's Filet Lace (2006 CATS project),

Phyllis Maurer's Japanese Kogin Tea Cosy (2006 CATS project),

Peyote stitch bracelet (The Willow Tree, Boothbay Harbor, Me),

2007 Stitcher's Hideaway projects: Victoria Sampler's Mystic: a stitchers pocket, biscornu, needlebook and fob,

2008 Stitcher's Hideaway projects: The Sweetheart Trees' Holly and Hearts Sampler and ornament,

2009 Stitcher's Hideaway project: Brightneedles' Ghosts and Ghoulies Etui,

2010 Stitcher's Hideaway project: Victoria Sampler's Sturbridge Box and needlework accessories.