Saturday, March 31, 2012

Assessing March Goals: Setting April Goals

2010-11 WIPs: Stitch Block 2 of Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie. Block 2 finished 3/28.
2010-2011 WIPs: Stitch four blocks on Jacobean Elegance Afghan. One block finished 3/14.
2012 New Start: Start work on TW's Woodland Angel Stocking for Liam. All I have managed to do is kit this up.
2012 Start: Stitch Halloween themed gift for Jo. Cross stitching finished 3/17.
Class Project Challenge: Resume work on Phyllis Mauer's Japanese Kogin Tea Cozy. Yes, I put in several hours of stitching on this project but am now concerned that the fabric provided by the instructor just isn't large enough for any of my 6 - 8 cup teapots.  I think I may have to stitch the entire ground fabric, then fold it in half and run some zig-zag stitching 1/4" on either side of the center fold as stay stitching and then cut between the zig zag rows, giving me two pieces large enough to work for one of my 4 cup teapots.  Then it will be simply a matter of assembling it with batting and backing fabric and some double fold bias tape.
Sewing and Assembly Finishing: Two pillows. In between the errands and gardening and housekeeping and cooking, that made up my normal Friday routines yesterday, I enjoyed my brand new electronic sewing machine, the Pfaff Ambition 1.50. I have been easing into using it by practicing basic straight and zigzag stitches as I bind the edges of cross-stitch linen and evenweave fabrics for various projects and preparing already-stitched ornaments for assembly. And I have managed a few pillow finishes as well. I am curious though about the specialty stitches that are available but they will have to wait until I have time for a few classes at Creative Sewing.
TSS Scissor Keep Exchange: Design and kit up a keep, buy scissor.   The scissor is on order but I have yet to dig out the magazine that contains the chart I want to use and the materials I need.
Off goal stitching:  Finished Papillion Creation's The Peacock [from WIP List] on March 9.  Stitched another of the lighthouses on Prairie Grove Peddler's Lighthouse Candle Mat [from the WIP List].  At least this month my off-goal projects have all been from the WIP List, instead of new  starts ... I suppose that is a discipline of a sort.  If I keep up this practice, I may actually empty my "current stitching" bag of all partially completed projects.

2010-11 WIPs: Stitch Block 3 of Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.
2010-2011 WIPs: Stitch four blocks on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.
2012 New Start: Start work on TW's Woodland Angel Stocking for Liam.
2012 Start: Kit up and start the next Town Square SAL ornament: The Primitive Shop.
Class Project Challenge: Finish Phyllis Mauer's Japanese Kogin Tea Cozy.
Sewing and Assembly Finishing: Two pillows.
TSS Scissor Keep Exchange: Stitch scissor keep and fob.
Off goal stitching:   One hopes that there won't be anything in this category by the end of April.  What with the Woodland Angel, The Primitive Shop and the scissor keep for my TSS exchange, my appetite for new starts should have been satisfied.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday's Child Was The Lighthouse Candle Mat

I know I should've been working on my Jacobean Elegance afghan yesterday even though there is little or no possibility that I'll ever catch up to my monthly goal for the piece.  That would involve getting a block and a half done today and tomorrow.  It takes me fairly steady stitching for 10-12 hours to finish each block.  Sure, I am off today and on Saturday, but I do have a few other things to do above and beyond stitching.  Much as I sometimes think I'd like to do so, I can't devote entire days to the sedentary activity of stitching.  Laundry, house-keeping, ironing, gardening, grocery shopping and errand running are all clamoring for my attention this weekend.  My doctor is also doing some rather insistent nagging about getting more exercise.  Yesterday, though, I indulged myself with stitching one of the small lighthouses in Prairie Grove Peddler's Lighthouse Candle Mat and starting another ... these lighthouses work up fairly quickly and travel nicely, an important consideration for the last workday of my week.  In my 90 minutes of early morning stitching I finished the  second lighthouse and a bit of the greenery around it.  My lunchtime stitching saw the finish of the greenery.   And some post-work stitching was enough to get a start on the third lighthouse.  I have to say it is a bit odd to stitch one lighthouse sideways and another upside down - to keep all my crosses going in the same direction -  but it is perfectly doable.  What is really hard to believe is that I have been carrying this piece around in my "current" stitching bage since late June 2011 when I stitched the first lighthouse while vacationing ... and that this is the first time I have gotten back to it!  I'll probably continue to work on this for the remainder of the weekend.  I can't say I'd mind adding one more finish to my pathetically short sidebar list of 2012 Finishes.

Well after a busy morning and afternoon of errand running, banking and grocery shopping, I finally settled down to some stitching at 4:30pm.  I pretty much watched some Cadfael DVDs and stitched on and off [more off than on, if truth be known] till bedtime, with the above result.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Black'd Skie Progress

Block 2 is stitched, with the slight change of substituting my father's last year for the charted 1797 which has little or no significance for me ... though, now that I stop and think, wasn't that the year Pride and Prejudice was published?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: March 25, 2012

And my progress this past week on March goals:

Lori Birmingham's Jacobean Elegance Afghan:  I didn't even manage to start on my fourth block.  I was distracted by my new toy, a Pfaff Ambition 1.50 electronic sewing machine.

Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie: Block 2 is nearly done.  The date I put in the memorial is the year of my Dad's death ... the charted 1797 simply had no particular significance for me.  All I have to do is finish filling in the marble facade of the memorial stone.  I'll post a photo when it is complete.

But don't expect much stitching over the next day or two.  Today, Monday, is a marathon of a 14 hour day.  It started at 7:00am with grocery shopping for the Confirmation Retreat, a quick run at 7:30am to Bagel World for 7 dozen bagels for my Confirmation candidates' breakfast, the actual retreat ran from 8:30am-2:00pm, and will be followed by office work till classes begin at 4:30pm and 7:00pm,  the whole shebang ending at 9:00pm.  The Confirmation Retreat was a kind of mixed bag of wonderful moments and some unexpectedly disappointing behavior on the part of the candidates.  This particular 8th grade class has been one of the better ones in recent years and on the rare occasions when they misbehave it always takes me by surprise.  Of course, I laid on a heavy helping of Catholic guilt ... "I am so disappointed by your uncharacteristic behavior, I have always expected better from this group, this is so unlike you guys, etc., etc."  Now it's a matter of getting through the next few hours ... I need two substitutes for two absent catechists and another for a catechist who will be arriving a half an hour late in the 4:30 session.  The 7:00pm session will also be a challengte with some volunteer catechists simply choosing not to meet deadlines for progress reports.  Some days it's just not worth coming into work!  Tomorrow will be one of my usual 12 hour days.  Wednesday & Thursday will seem like holidays with only 8 hours on the job. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Odyssey

This post was actually written yesterday but I was too exhausted too wrestle with the "new" formatting of photos on blogger to post it.  Truth be known, I fell asleep for a very long late afternoon into early evening nap shortly after this was composed.  Anyway, please make all the necessary mental adjustments that this time line requires.

Today starts another of my three day weekends.  Unfortunately, I haven't done any at home stitching Monday through Thursday and it was the at home time that was slated to be about the afghan.  But sinc I worked 11am-9pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I was just too tired and mind-fogged to stitch when I got home.  Thursday was an 11am-7pm day and though that was a bit better, all I wanted to do after making supper was do a page in my NY Times Crossword Puzzle Book and go to sleep.  It's a wildly exciting life I lead, isn't it?  Anyway, the only progress I have made thus far this week has been on my travel piece, Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie, squeezing in about 3/4s of an hour at lunchtime each day.  Here is a photo of my progress thus far. 

And today has been a mad dash around town for various errands.  First to the bank to deposit my March 15 paycheck.  My husband gets exasperated with me when I don't get to the bank in a more timely fashion.  My attitude is, basically, that's it's not like we use my salary for current expenses so where's the rush.  My money goes to paying down principal on the mortgage over and above our regular monthly payment, adding to retirement savings and providing vacations and other luxuries ... in that order.  Then it was on to the jewelry gallery to pick up three murano glass beads to complete my Pandora bracelet that has the astrological signs of self, husband, daughter and two sons as well as selecting a simple cross for the gold chain  my husband gave me for our anniversary.  After that, we headed out to the pen shop where a fountain pen that needed repair was awaiting pick-up.  This shop also has a giftware and jewelry section.  I couldn't resist some lovely green Swvarski crystal earrings that caught my eye while my husband was seeing to his pen.  Then, onward and upward, to Barnes and Noble where I found two Jospeh Campbell titles that have been missing from my library and the latest Laura Childs' tea shoppe mystery ... now there's a mind-boggling stretch!  What can I say ... my tastes and interests are wide-ranging and eclectic, to say the least.  While at B & N I found a charming little display of Beatrix Potter items and what could be better for the grandchildren's Easter mailing than these little lovelies: a classic edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, a boxed doll sized tea set with Beatrix Potter illustrations, a Beatrix Potter lunch box containing a jumbo Potter puzzle, a Beatrix Potter china mug and these two sweet Peter Rabbit totes to carry the items.  So far so good.  Ordinarily, I don't like shopping so when I finally get up the nerve to do some, it becomes something of a marathon.  Well the next stop almost destroyed my will to carry on.  I have been mutterring for some time about the need for a new sewing machine.  Nothing fancy: just something adequate for crafting.  So I figured Sears would be a good place to start.  They had exactly 6 floor models on display ... none of which were plugged in.  Once I flagged down a "blue shirt", I asked where and how I can try out the models.  His stony response, "We do not demonstrate sewing machines."  Okay, my next question was about the return policy.  Obviously if I took it home and didn't like the machine, I'd want to return it.  "Of course you can return it" ... but, get this ... "if the box is unsealed you'll have to pay a 15% restocking fee upon return."  Well, hell, how do you try out a machine that's still sealed in the box?!?  When I commented that Sears could avoid returns in the first place by setting up a demonstration area for the machines, we were back to "We do not demonstrate ..."  I left quietly without buying anything.  But, in my imagination, I stormed out of the store like Malificent in the old Disney Sleeping Beauty film, kicking objects aside and shouting "Fools!   Imbeciles!  Morons!"  I find rerunning that little snippet of film very satisfying whenever life gets in my way ... if only in my innermost thoughts.  I'll never get an ulcer with that kind of release to fall back on.  With the Malificient momentum fueling me on, I proceeded to a wonderful little place called Above and Beyond Creative Sewing.  I spent a very pleasant half hour playing with three Pfaff machines.  I selected one that was almost three times as expensive as the Singer machine I had been considering at Sears.  In addition, I purchased a rolling lime green travel case, extra bobbins, some vanishing ink marking pens all at 10% off since I bought a sewing machine today.  I'll be going back for free lessons and the warranty came with five annual cleaning/servicing coupons.   Sears lost a $400 sale and Creative Sewing gained a $1500 sale and a likely repeat customer for fabrics, notions and future classes.  Who knew anger and disgust with one vendor could be such a marketing tool for another?  I may regret this once the adrenalin ebbs but I doubt it.  I finished off the shopping trek with a stop at the local Orchards to stock up on produce and baked goods and enough root beer flavored candy [licorice, barrels and barley sticks] to keep my charming husband in a blissful sugar-induced high for at least a month.  In all likelihood, this shopping tour has exhausted my meagre shopping mojo for the next six months.  I just may muster up the energy to visit the grocery store and pharmacy but only because their products are absolutely necessary to my continued well-being.  If I could convince them to start up a personal shopping service with home delivery, believe me, I would.

But for the next two days, I am determined to devote what stitching time I have available to the Jacobean Elegance afghan.  The weather has already warmed to the point that having that much afghan draped over my legs is no longer cozy.  But cooler and more seasonable March weather is predicted  for Saturday and Sunday, so I am hopeful that I can really settle into my stitching chair and accomplish a great deal.  I'll post a progress photo at the end of the weekend.

As you can see, I finally gave up wrestling with the picture formatting and just let blogger do what it pleased.  I promise to master this in the future but for now please just deal with the crazy placement which belies bloggers claim that "images will be loaded directly to the insertion point"... yeah, that's tight!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Different TUSAL Schedule

I know that most people run their TUSAL [Ort Jar] from Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 of any given calendar year.  But, being me, I must do things a bit differently.  Since I save my ORTs to put out as soft nesting materials for the backyard birds I feed year long, it makes more sense to save ORTs from Spring to Spring.  So, today I made a little ceremony of emptying my ORT jar into a shallow planter dish that I left on my patio table for the birds to access ... a short prayer asking St. Francis of Assisi to bless their nests and keep them and their broods safe from the neighborhood cats and hawks and other predators, and the semi-annual sanitizing of the bird feeder and a refilling it with regular songbird seed mixture generously laced with extra sunflower seeds completed the ritual.  Not a bad way to start the day, at all, at all!  So here are a few shots:  the first of the ORT jar filled to brimming with the thread ends from all my projects since last Spring and the second of those same thread ends filling a shallow planter.  I hope the birds find all the colors as attractive as I did and make good use of them.  I find I really enjoy the birdsong each morning and I hope to attract many more birds to my feeder this year by adding a bird bath and perhaps a hummingbird feeder to my patio.  I also want to buy a few more large containers and plant vegetables this year using the old Square Foot gardening method.  I wonder, does anyone else remember that PBS TV series?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moving Right Along, Not!

I decided that this week I would concentrate on two projects till Friday and my next day off rolls around.  They will be Lori Birmingham's The Jacobean Elegance Afghan on the home front and Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie as my travel piece.  Then on the weekend, I would revert to the afghan alone.  If I am to have the remotest hope of stitching and lining the afghan in time for Christmas giving [to my Mom], I will need to complete another 17 blocks by mid November.  That's a little less than two blocks a month.  Still, I'd like to do a bit better than that since I would also love to stitch and finish Christmas Stockings for my two grandchildren.  A third grandchild will be arriving in late September, but until I know the sex of the new baby I am not even going to consider a stocking for him/her.  Christmas 2013 will be soon enough for the new baby.  So with these three Christmas projects in mind, I need to put on a bit of a push. 

BUT ...  There hasn't been much at home stitching going on so far this week since I have had to work till nine Monday and Tuesday and will do so again today.  All I have managed is a bit of lunchtime stitching on Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie.  I have filled in all the leaves on the tree, put an urn beneath the plant stitched on Sunday and got a start on the grave stone.  There are still two or three birds, a squirrel, a heart, a sun and the rest of the memorial to stitch.  Did I mention that this block is very busy with all sorts of motifs?  And typical of primitive designs the motifs are placed without any reference to reality or common sense: the solar disc and the half moon and the stars are all beneath the tree canopy and there is a heart floating in mid-air.  With all that in mind, here is a progress photo to compare with that of Sunday's post..

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: March 18, 2012

This week's progress on March goals:
Primitive Needle's Black'd Skie: I spent the better part of Sunday stitching on this piece, but I am still less than hafway done with block 2.  This is a much more detailed block than the first. 
Lori Birmingham's Jacobean Elegance Afghan: After spending all of this week's home side stitching on this project, I finally finished one more block on Thursday, 3/14.  Three more to do if I am to meet this month's goals which seems unlikely, at best.
Gift stitch:  Stitched on this project on Friday and Saturday.  Finished the cross-stitching on 3/17.  I still have the assembly to do, though.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I thought I'd just show a few of my Irish finishes, in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

I believe this is an old Shepherd's Bush Tie Pillow ... but it has been so long since I stitched this up that I can't be quite sure.  I like the colors in this little piece.

This is an old Secret Needle Night piece, finished as a classroom door banner.  It used to have a little clay button of a pot of gold but that poor button has not survived the years of fascinated children touching the piece.  I have come to like it better without the button.  Less cute, more of a classic tailored look.  I took this banner into work on Monday and hung it on my office door for the week. 

And here is a Celtic Heart, which I finished up as a tote and gave to a Welsh stitching buddy.  What can I say, we are all Celts together!  The chart was an old magazine chart and I cannot at this point remember for certain who was the designer.  I am thinking it might have been M Designs but I wouldn't swear to it.  I stitched it with a series of Needle Necessities overdyed cottons in flame colorways.

The bookmark is from a kit, purchased while on vacation in Maine, of all places.  I have fond memories of stitching this up while sitting on the back porch of a cottage perched on rocks overlooking the Atlantic.  It's a pretty piece and is currently keeping my place in George Carlin's Last Words.  Now, there is a truly terrible Irishman: clever, literate, brilliantly funny as so very many Irish-Americans but so embittered and angry it makes one sad to think of him.  My pastor, Msgr. Foley, grew up in the same apartment building, remembers him well and has some very ugly stories to tell of the verbal abuse Carlin sufferred at the hands of his mother.

Next up is a small freebie chart.  Again, I do not trust my memory as to designer and no longer have the chart to refer to.  All I really remember is that arrived with an order from The Silver Needle.  But I like this little finish.  Fringed pillows are such easy, no fuss, no muss kind of finishes.  No searching for matching trims or embellishments.  Just utter simplicity: both chart and finish.

The last is my version of a Log Cabin Pillow finish using one of Heart in Hand's Tall Bird charts as the centerpiece.  I have a few of these charts for various seasons.  I can't quite explain why they appeal to me: just that they do.

So there you have it, my stitching tribute to the maternal side of my ethnic heritage.  I must confess, when it comes to the culinary tributes, I much prefer the paternal ethnicity, Sicilian.  I'll be eating a luscious, cannoli cream filled St. Joseph's Day pastry on March 19 and skipping the fatty, gassy corned beef and cabbage on March 17th, thank you very much!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday's Here, Thank the Lord!

Thursday is the end of my work week: normally I put in two 12 hour days [Mon. & Tues.] and two 8 hour days [Wed. & Thurs.].  But this week has been a bit different since I had a catechist meeting to run on Wednesday night and a catechist formation class on Lesson Planning to teach on Thursday night, turning my two 8 hour days into 10 or 11 hour days.  Happily, there are no additional duties this weekend adding to the tally.  So, three glorious days all to myself.  Maybe I'll get that sewing machine, finally.  I'll try to squeeze in a visit to my mother, some gardening, loads of laundry and some cursory house-keeping.  And on the stitching front,  I did finish my third block on the afghan.  I am going to wait to photograph it again till I can get my husband to stand holding it up.  That way I'll be able to show the whole afghan rather than a block at a time.  I also got a bit more done on my gift stitch this morning.  So, of course, there'll be no photo of that till it is finished, sent and received.  As for my three days off, I'll try to finish up my gift stitch and another block on the afghan.  March seems to be slipping away just as quickly as February did and I am not at all certain I shall be able to meet all my goals this month.  But I will give it my best shot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Random Tuesday

This will be all about odds and ends:

I have enrolled in two exchanges for the Spring.  The first is a Spring scissor keep/fob and scissor exchange with the TSS group.  The rules state that the keep should have a Spring theme and I was all set with a chart.  But now that I have been assigned a partner, I am confused since my partner listed the following preferences: sunflowers and autumnal colors.  Why join a Spring exchange if you want an autumn piece.  I was all set to stitch a very pretty Spring project and may still do just that since I have all the materials.  It's not as if my exchange partner is in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are reversed,  which would have made sense to me.  She is in Germany, for Pete's sake!  I am curious and ask you readers for an opinion on this: should I go ahead and follow the rules since I kitted everything up in accordance with the published parameters of the exchange or should I ditch my original plans in favor of my partner's preferences and go with an autumn piece.  It is the first exchange I am working with this group and I must say I am not sure which is the best way to go.  This exchange needs to reach my partner by May 26th.  Since I have no idea how long it will take a small package to get to Germany, I figure I need to get this in the mail no later than April 30th.  I know when we mail Christmas gifts [much larger packages] to my husband's German relatives it can take three to four weeks to arrive.  The second exchange is a Christmas ornament with the HOE group and the theme is Christmas birds.  Sign-ups continue through April 15th and the project won't need to be mailed till June 15th.  So I will have plenty of time to earn a new start with a finished class project and a finished 2010-11 WIP.  I will be using my go-to cardinal chart.  However, I will not be giving any further details on this last exchange for fear of spoiling the surprise.

Stash enhancement.  Since I sold my Just Nan Noah Revisited chart, I have had a $45 gc to 123stitch burning a hole in my pocket.  I have used it to purchase the fabric, Northern Cross cream linen in 35ct, for the new band sampler from Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly.  The chart actually calls for 30ct but the project would end up being unmanageably large.   I prefer stitching on higher thread count linens anyway, so 35ct it is.  The first part of the chart was published in the latest issue of SANQ and there will be two more installments.  I also ordered some more of the DMC needed for my Jacobean Elegance afghan.  Since I will not be skipping blocks as charted, I need twice the amount of floss.  And I ordered two pairs of scissors from The Silver Needle: one for me and one for my exchange partner.

WIP progress:  I have been working on my gift piece as my travel project for the past few days and can't show any photos of that.  But I can show a photo of my afghan progress.  The third block is nearly finished with just a bit of backstitching and long stitching yet to be done.  But in the course of doing this, I noticed that I didn't quite finish the first block and have to go back to that for an hour or two of stitching.  Can't imagine how I missed the furled leaf in the first block.  Next up will be the bud in the second row.  If anyone is wondering just why I am jumping around on the afghan it is because I am going to scan and flip the charts so the First row will be: flower facing left, bud facing left, bud facing right, flower facing right; the Second row will be bud facing right, flower facing right, flower facing left, bud facing left; and so on and so on.  I'll be stitching all the left-facing motifs first and then go back and fill in the right facing motifs.

On the homefront, I never did go shopping for a sewing machine this past weekend ... my husband and I were more in the mood for a lazy two days.  But next weekend, definitely!  Call me a grumpy old woman, but I just dislike shopping of any kind: I dislike the crowds, the lines, the mandatory salesman's spiels and the mule work of hauling the purchases out to the hinterlands of the parking lot.  I have never understood how some people can view shopping as a recreational activity or even as a high sport ... as the current crop of Kohl's radio commercials would have you believe it to be.  It is a painful but necessary chore, whether shopping for housewares, clothes [especially clothes] or groceries.  The only shopping I enjoy is catalog shopping: place an order by making a call from the comfort of your own home and receive the goods on your doorstep several days later.  Now that is convenience.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: March 11, 2012

I am almost halfway through the month and most of my stitching so far has been off monthly goals although on annual goals: the cross-stitching of Papillion Creations Peacock was finished on March 9 [Friday].  I replaced a bit of the stitching with some Mill Hill seed beads in lavendar blue, just to give the piece a bit of glitz.  Again, the photograph was taken in natural daylight so there is a better sense of the true colors.  Now it is just a matter of doing the finish finishing.  That will require some stash diving in the sewing fabric bins.  The rest of the weekend was back on monthly goals, working on the Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  I am including a progress photo of the afghan block.  Not as impressive as one would hope.  I have nearly finished the third block of the afghan, leaving three more to go if I am to reach my March goal of four blocks.  I plan on keeping the afghan at my stitching chair for the remainder of the week, making it the focus of all my at home stitching time.  As for my travel focus piece, I will have to get back to my gift stitching if I am to have any hope of gettting it off in the mail this month as planned.  I did get to the post office earlier this week.  I had some boxes to mail to my grandchildren and I took the opportunity to mail the Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts Sampler and Teresa Wentzler's Tracery Dragons to their respective winners.  But it seems like there is always another reason to head to the post office.  I have another box for the grandchildren to mail this week and, if all of the Easter goodies I ordered arrive in time, there'll be another box to mail the week after that.  Long-distance grand-parenting is the pits!  Three thousand miles is just too great a distance to place between a grandmother and her grandchildren!
I have never been a big fan of Q-snaps but I do own a few: one of which is large enough to encompass a block in the afghan.  So I thought I'd give the Q-snaps another trial.  Generally, I find that the fabric becomes too loose in Q-snaps.  Since so many people seem to love them unreservedly, I figure I must be doing something wrong to get such unsatisfactory results.  In any case, I thought the afghan cloth [as opposed to linen] might work better in the Q-snap frame.  The tension isn't quite as taut as I usually like but it is workable.  At least I can work an entire block without having to shift my stitching frame when using the Q-snaps instead of my spring tension hoop.  So, between the Doodler Lap Frame I used for The Peacock and the q-snap I am using for the afghan, I have been doing a lot of two handed stitching lately.  I know this runs counter to common wisdom but, for me, two-handed stitching is slower than one handed stab and pull stitching.  I guess when you have been using one style for the better part of four decades, you build a proficiency making it a quicker option than the purportedly more efficient style.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day Off, at Last

This week has seemed even more harried than usual since I ran three Family Catechesis events for first through sixth graders and their parents: two with over 65 families and the third with about 45 families.  And, naturally, the adolescent catechesis program ran as well.  In fact, my 8th graders stunned me by participating in The Stations of the Cross with great reverence and dignity.  As anyone who works with adolescents knows, they are very unpredictable folk, swinging from one end of the behavioral spectrum to the other with nary a moment at the center.  This is what keeps them interesting.  At least, we didn't have any boy leap to stand on the pew and do an air guitar riff to a lively Spanish hymn playing in the background as happened during the Advent confessions.  Anyway, at the end of this week, I feel wiped out but satisfied.  The topic  for the Grade 1-6 events was "Strengthening the Domestic Church" and it seemed to be well-received. Note: "domestic church" is Catholic-speak for "nuclear family: parent[s] and child[ren]".  But, of course, now on my day off, I'll have to run in to the office and make a few important phone calls that I forgot in all the madness and mail off a finished report that got buried at the bottom of the inbox.  At least, I shouldn't have to put in more than an hour or two ... I'll just have to make sure I don't let myself get ambushed by any other tasks on the to-do list.  Monday is soon enough for all the rest.

Other than that, all that is on my agenda for the day: a haircut, grocery shopping and a trip to County Household Hazardous Waste to dispose of some electronics and medications I no longer use.  Oh, and the never-ending laundry ... how do just two people generate so much?  The rest of the day will be devoted to stitching and DVD viewing.  I figure a day off ought to include at least some leisure time.  The weekend agenda will includea start on indoor spring cleaning,  clearing the back yard of all the fall and winter detritus of fallen leaves, broken branches, etc.; a visit to the garden center to buy some large square planter boxes for vegetable gardening in the old square foot method and a visit to the mall to buy a new sewing machine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Serendipitous Peacock Colors

I am still enjoying my Papillion Creations Peacock and the colors I have substituted for those charted.  This photo was taken in natural light and gives a better impression of the colors in the fabric and floss than the previous photos which were taken under my Ott lite.  The aquas and lavenders and blues are so delicate and springlike, reminiscent of croci and hyacinths and pale blue-white snow drops and snow stars.  I am loving these flosses and continute to be amazed at how fibers from three different and totally unrelated hand-dying vendors and hand-dyed fabric from yet another come together so well in one project.  I'll probably finish this as an etui rather than as a biscornu as was my original intention.  I'll use the Just Nan peacock bead I bought for the center of the biscornu as part of a bead and loop clasp to close the etui.  I'll fill it with some pretty tools, add a "page" of wool felt for needles and have a wonderful little accessory to take to my next stitcher's retreat.

It makes me feel ever so virtuous to use odds and ends from my stash.  It's all part of my aging hippie campaign to simplify my life, to reduce & reuse & recycle, to use it up, wear it out or do without.  A small step, to be sure, but  still a step in the right direction.  Having lived six decades, three of them in one place, I have accumulated so much stuff that I feel a real need to shed some of the detritus of my life.  Spring cleaning will be a lot of fun this year: an orgy of elimination that will benefit the Salvation Army and various white elephant sales for charity as well as adding to the work load of the local sanitation workers.  I know I won't be able to convince my pack rat of a husband to join in the fun but I will do my level best to confine his stuff to his space: his two walk-in closets and his home office.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Few Progress Photos

I have done a little bit of stitching on each of two different projects over the past several days so, while there are a few photos, neither shows dramatic progress.

In my last post about Papillion Creation's Peacock, I forgot to mention the flosses I am using: a Carrie's Creation overdyed cotton that is simply labelled Jayne's Attic Exclusive and is a medium to medium dark aqua, a Polstitches' Dragon Floss overdyed cotton in a pale lavender, lavender blue, pale blue colorway and, finally, an Ozark Sampler overdyed cotton called Sea Queen. I am always amazed at how closely the shades and tints from different vendors end up working together. When you consider all the variables, what are the odds that the sundry bits and pieces in my stash will end up working together so well? Granted I do tend to gravitate toward certain colorways but two of the threads mentioned here were given to me in floss exchanges and so were totally random additions to my cache of overdyed cotton.

Workbaskets' Quaker Acorn: there'll have to be some frogging done on this one, durn it. Can you see my error? I haven't quite figured out exactly where I went wrong yet though I can see where things get funky. The motifs below the acorn cap line up with the bottom line of the cap and with the negative space within the cap but the lower section of the left leaf isn't right and that throws off everything above and to the left. I'm going to have to re-count all the lines up from the very beginning of the cap. I hope the frogging is minimal because I have just enough of the Catherine Jordan overdyed floss for this project. If I destroy too much of it with frogging [a real possibility with over one frogging], I'll have to just toss this and start all over again with new fabric and floss.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stitching Question of the Week: March 5

"The needlework show in Nashville has just concluded, are there any new designs that are on your wish list or that you've already purchased?"

I have to admit that I haven't really looked at the new offerrings too extensively because I have no intention whatsoever of adding to my chart stash. I have reached the point where I have charts enough to keep myself busy for at least five or six years ... and that is not counting the charts in the magazines that I receive: SANQ and The Needlearts [the EGA house magazine]. My stash budget, for the time being at least, will be devoted to framing finished projects and purchasing needles, fabric and fiber needed to stitch charts already in my possession and the occasional indulgence in neat or unusual tools like collectible scissors, pretty laying tools and such. Unlike many stitchers, I don't "collect" charts. I buy only those I genuinely wish to stitch. My tastes have been fairly consistent over time. It is rare that, in reviewing my stash, that I come across something I know I will never stitch. The only time I can recall that happening was rather recently, as a matter of fact, with a Just Nan reissue of her Noah sampler. And rather than let that chart languish unloved, I sold it when the opportunity arose. Before buying anymore charts, I am just going to have to catch up to my stitching self. I am way too close to retirement age to be spending my money foolishly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: March 4, 2012

The unseasonably warm weather has been wreaking havoc with plant life in the area with the result that my Spring allergies have become a problem much earlier. Usually I get a bit of a respite between hay fever season and the spring mold and pollen season. But not so this year: I have had continuous sinus congestion and headaches since September. One season just morphed into another without that blessed period of cold, allergen killing weather in between. During the past few days, the headaches have been outrageous, killing any impulse I might have had to stitch. It's a wee bit tough to read a chart and count threads when you can't get your eyes uncrossed!

And to top it all off, what little stitching I did was off-goal for the month! I couldn't help myself. I'll just have to admit that a rotation of two or three projects just doesn't suit my undisciplined and manic inner stitcher. I picked up another project from the WIP list: Papillion Creations Peacock which I will be stitching as a biscornu. I am using some hand-dyed Laguna in ivory to violet and am using a combination of Polstitch and Ozark Sampler overdyed cottons in shades of blue, aqua and violet. I have some aqua Laguna on which to stitch the opposite side. When I picked this up this morning all that had been stitched was the outer scallopped border. I am totally unrepentant about choosing another project from the WIP list ... I needed a bit of a change. If you must know, I am actually feeling quite virtuous about this project because I am using up odds and ends of stash that might otherwise never be used! As I proof read this post, I noted four exclamation points. I must be in an unusually emphatic mood. How very unlike me. [Note to husband and daughter: there is no need to comment on that last statement, derisively or otherwise.]

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Second Annual Oubliette Stitching Limerick Contest

Let's do a little something to dispel the winter doldrums. Although, truth be known, it hasn't been a very wintry winter thus far. I imagine Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve. I am expecting snow on Easter! Anyway, last year I had a fun and silly contest inviting everyone to write a stitching limerick that began with the line: There once was a stitcher named [insert your name]. This generated a lot of really silly and clever rhymes. Shall we do it again?

Remember, limericks are defined by Google as a humorous verse form of 5 anapestic lines with a rhyme scheme aabba i.e., they have a definite pattern:
10 syllables/beats to the first line,
7 syllables/beats to the second line,
6 syllables/beats to third and fourth lines,
9 syllables/beats to the fifth line.
The rhyme pattern: lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme; lines 3 and 4 rhyme.

Here's my 2011 limerick:
There once was a stitcher named Riona,
Who used up all of her toner,
Printing freebies galore
Till she had so much more
Than anyone ought to be owner!

And here's my 2012 version:
There once was a stitcher named Riona,
Who, when you tried to phone her,
All your calls she'd ignore
As she stitched more and more.
Her friends thought this flaw a real groaner!

Leave your limmerick in the comments ... any entry not fitting the above definition will be disqualified ... it must be a true limmerick! At the end of the month, I'll have my husband pick a winner from the comments and award that stitcher/limmericist a $10 GC to 123stitch [an online shop]. Thanks to all who participate.