Friday, August 31, 2012

Worthwhile Wentzler Wednesday

This entry was supposed to be posted  Wednesday at 7:00pm but for some bizarre reason, Blogger was not cooperating with picture posting.  Every time I clicked on the "add an image" option it would just spiral and spiral and spiral without ever accessing my photos.  There didn't seem to be much point in posting without the photos, hence the delay.

I started the day with my usual one hour of stitching before work and stitched one full color blend in Section 6.  This is very slow going because of the careful counting of the confetti placement of color so typical of a Teresa Wentzler.  Just like the tiny pixels of color in a large photograph, these single stitches of many different colors and color combinations make up a whole tapestry.  I had never really thought about it but I guess Teresa Wentzler is to stitchery what pointilist Toulouse Lautrec is to oil painting.

After supper, I managed another two hours of stitching on Section 6.  It may not look like a great deal of progress has been made since the piece was last seen [photo at the left] but I am actually quite pleased with today's accomplishments [photo on the right].  So far as I am concerned, it has been a most worthwhile Wentzler Wednesday.  
I plan to devote Thursday's stitching to this piece as well.  I am going to try for two days on Woodland Angel each week for the time being but I can foresee having to make that three or more days a week if I am to have it stitched, assembled, stuffed and mailed to the West Coast in time for Christmas.  Currently three to four days a week is the average amount of time I devote to The English Band Sampler.   But once that is complete, I should be able to devote the same amount of time to the TW stocking.  I figure that will be sometime in mid to late October.  It is such an odd feeling to have only three pieces in my regular rotation: the sampler, the stocking, and the stitcher's pocket.  I have almost always had five or more projects ranging from ornament to BAP.  So, to have two BAPs and one largish project in the rotation produces the feeling of working on the same old, same old endlessly.  I am beginning to jones for something small just to add a touch of variety and the satisfaction of a finish.  However, I still think it was a good idea to concentrate on finishing up class projects and UFOs/WIPs this year.  To have all these partially  finished pieces hanging about has always seemed very wasteful to me: both of the money invested in classes and materials and in the time already invested in the projects.  Perhaps it was a mistake to start my two 2012 WIPs [The English Band Sampler and The Woodland Angel] while still working on all the other pieces in the sidebar lists.  But somehow I truly believed it would all be doable way back in January.  In any case, I have been intending to start Liam's Christmas Stocking for nearly three years so this "current" WIP can actually be considered an oldie.  And as to The English Band Sampler, I simply fell in love with it when I saw it in SANQ.

And now it is time to make a decision about whether I will add yet another class project to my stash.  I'll be attending a Stitcher's Hideaway this fall and have the option of taking a class or just bringing my own stitching.  One of the class options, The George and Martha Washington Sampler offered at a Sturbridge retreat two years ago, is something I covet.  I will very likely order it in spite of all the other items still on my Class Project sidebar.

Postscript:  since this is being posted on Friday morning rather than on Wednesday, I have a bit more progress to show.  I worked on TWWA Thursday evening and made this additional progress.  I know it must look painfully slow and pitiable but I am quite happy with it.  Any other Wentzler aficionados will understand!  The plan is to concentrate on this over the Labor Day holiday weekend and "turn the heel" to borrow a term from knitters.  That's if I can resist the growing urge to start a Christmas ornament just to have the satisfaction of a finish.  Haven't managed one of those since late July!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

It's been a week since my blogiversary post and its promise of a giveaway.  It is time to select a winner.  But before I do so, I thought I'd answer the poll questions myself.

1.  Who are your five favorite designers?
My five favorite designers in no particular order are Teresa Wentzler, Victoria Sampler, Blackbird Designs, Homespun Elegance and Prairie Schooler.  There are, of course, others that I enjoy very nearly as much but those are the top five.

2.  Name your five favorite LNS/ONS.
I order most frequently from 123stitch [ONS] and from the following brick and mortar shops: The Stitchery Row [Endicott,  NY], The Needle in a Haystack [Alameda, Ca], The Silver Needle [Tulsa, Ok] and The Corner Shop [whenever I make it up to Wiscasset, Maine ... it's been a while so I don't know if this shop still exists]

3.  Name your five favorite stitching themes.
Again these are listed in no particular order: Quakers, dragons, samplers [vintage and contemporary], Autumn, Christmas.

4.  Other then mine, of course [she said with tongue firmly in cheek], name your five favorite stitching blogs.
Blacksheep's Bit of the Web, Dani: Black Belt Stitching Wizard, Stitch Bitch, Mainely Stitching, and Karen's Handiwork.  Of course, I enjoy reading all the blogs on the reading list sidebar but if I had to pare it down to just five, these would be it ... though I might cheat a bit and add Stitching the Night Away in Illinois to make it six.

5. Name your five favorite stitching websites: these could be shops, designers, fiber/fabric/tools manufacturers, etc.
I enjoy visiting these sites: Caron, which has wonderful free charts and lots of interesting information on the fibers it manufactures; The Rainbow Gallery, also a good source of free charts and information about fibers; Kreinik, again another good source for free charts and interesting fibers; Monica Ferris, an author who writes about the owner of a stitchery shop; and finally, EGA.  I have an individual membership in the EGA and I enjoy browsing their site for useful information [tutorials and such] and their course listings ... one of these days I am going to sign up for one of the online classes.

And now, for the winner, selected using the online randomizer: #7 Calamity Jr.  I want to thank everyone for participating in my little survey,  I will be spending some pleasant hours exploring the sites that have been shared in the comments.  I hope all the participants in this very unscientific survey will also be visiting some "new-to-them"  sites.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's Tale

Monday was one of those rare days without so much as a single stitch.  I worked through my lunch hour again.  It's a very bad habit, I know, and one that ultimately reduces productivity, if the experts are to be believed.  But the parishioners are finally waking up to the fact that they should have registered for religious education long ago.  Normally, at this time of year, I am waiting on 10-12 families to get their acts together and register.  Since that represents less than 5% of my enrollment, it's manageable.  But for some reason this year the numbers are more like 40 families still not registered and nearly 20% of the expected enrollment not accounted for is an administrative nightmare.  So, naturally, I'll drop anything I am doing to attend to walk-in late registrations and I am spending a fair amount of time on the phone making "courtesy" reminder calls.  It tends to eat into my lunch time.   And late yesterday afternoon, I had the sad duty of attending the wake  of a colleague whom I have always admired, Deacon Gus Pappalardo.  Gus' ministry was so all-encompassing and he had touched so many lives that his wake had to be held in the church itself because none of the local funeral parlors could have accommodated  the stream of visitors.  Parking would have been a nightmare.

So I have just today's progress to consider.  Since it was already set up at the stitching chair, I continued work on The English Band Sampler for my early morning stitching.   All I accomplished was the stitching of the dark blue chain border at the bottom of the band ... hardly enough to warrant another photo.  Again, no stitching on my lunch break but a bit more on Primitive Needle's Thy Needle this evening ... though still not enough to justify a photo since last seen.  All in all, not much of a stitching day

On another topic entirely, there are just two more days left before I choose a winner of my blogiversary giveaway.  I'll be choosing and posting a winner on Thursday.  If you would like to enter, scroll back to last Thursday's post and answer the poll questions.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: 8/26/12

During the past week, I spent a portion of  my lunch break [on those few days that I took a lunch break on the job] stitching on the Mystic Smalls Stitcher's Pocket.  But I didn't get any more work done on it over the weekend.  So, there's simply been no progress since the last photo. I must appear to be very distracted and inconsistent with all this switching about from one project to another but the Woodland Angel and the English Band Sampler are not particularly portable projects what with  14" scroll frames, large cuts of fabric and clunky plastic floss boxes.  The TW project calls for a fairly modest [for her] 78 colors of DMC and the sampler calls for 23 and each project has its own floss box.  So these projects are definitely of the stitch-at-home variety, which leaves me casting about for something else to carry along in my stitching bag.  Things are likely to remain this way for quite a while since I don't anticipate finishing up either of these very large projects anytime soon which means my change of pace stitching will be done, for the most part, in small half hour increments at lunch time on workdays.  That is, until I feel a screaming need for variety and abandon my BAPs for a quick succession of small instant gratification projects that can be stitched up in a day or two.  I know my limitations and I suspect the Labor Day weekend will see the start of a Christmas ornament just so I can feel like I've gotten something "done".

And here are photos of the late week progress on The English Band Sampler.  This latest band is rather intricate with lots of quarter stitches and lots of back stitching.  And there is even some satin stitching on this string of pearls motif, to tie it visually to the previous band.  Like the previous band, it is dominated by stylized floral motifs.  The colors are beautiful: I have always liked the DMC run of corals from 349-353.  Once this band is done it will be one of the most densely stitched bands thus far.  But Part III is even more densely stitched, making this particular sampler a little bottom-heavy.

And, as I noted on Thursday's post, I had planned to alternate between the Woodland Angel and the band sampler during the later part of the week.  But that plan went up in smoke when I realized I had misread the chart for the satin stitched vertical  string of pearls motif at the far left, leaving two full stitches out of every repeat.  Since this threw off the placement of the line of single cross-stitches as well, the result was a lot of frogging.  And I am only just caught up to where I had been before I realized my mistake.  But at least I caught the error before I had stitched the satin stitched motifs on the far right and in the center of this band.  I don't know why Part II is giving me so much trouble and aggravation.  Objectively speaking, it's no more difficult than Part I or the previous band of Part II.  So, why all the errors?  In any case, here is a photo of the TUSAL jar that's been fed with lots of fluffy bits of pale coral floss being eyed greedily by my recent amphibian visitors.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blogiversary Poll and Giveaway

This marks my fifth anniversary as a blogger: August 24, 2007 - August 24, 2012. I would have let it pass unnoticed had I not seen Stitch Bitch's blogiversary post a few days ago.

I liked Anna's recap of vital statistics concerning her blog and will do the same thing here.  In the past five years:
* I have written 805 posts.
* Blogger has recorded 56,291 Pageviews.
* Readers have left 2,385 Comments.
Which works out to approximately 3 comments per post or 1 comment for every 24 pageviews.  Clearly, I don't evoke much of a response from my readers.

Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of blogging, both as writer and reader.  I have certainly learned a lot from comments left on my own blog and from reading the stitching  blogs of others.

I thought I'd mark my anniversary with a five question poll with the theme of, what else, five!  And I will also offer an appropriate prize,  a $5 gift certificate to the 123stitch ONS.  All you need to do is answer the questions using the comments option.  I will use the online randomizer to choose  one of  the respondents to my little poll as winner of the gift certificate.

1.  Who are your five favorite designers?
2.  Name your five favorite LNS/ONS.
3.  Name your five favorite stitching themes.
4.  Other then mine, of course [she said with tongue firmly in cheek], name your five favorite stitching blogs.
5. Name your five favorite stitching websites: these could be shops, designers, fiber/fabric/tools manufacturers, etc.

It is my hope, that in reading the comments, I will learn about a lot of new-to-me designers, shops, blogs and websites.  So URL addresses for any of the above would be appreciated.  I always enjoy broadening my horizons.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Workaday Wentzler Wednesday

Yesterday was the third Wentzler Wednesday since I re-instituted the practice and I have to admit that I am going to have to get a lot more serious about this project if I am to have a hope in Hades of finishing it by Christmas.  It's just that I have been so preoccupied with The English Band Sampler lately that I haven't taken out my TW on any day but Wednesday.  And that is definitely not the way to make discernible progress.

And speaking of barely discernible progress, this photo really doesn't do justice to the time I spent stitching this piece yesterday.  The confetti stitching that is so typical of a Teresa Wentzler design takes so much longer than the more conventional style stitching.  Counting and recounting to make sure the placement is correct for all the bits of color ... especially those quarter stitches ... seems to take forever.  But the overall effect of a rich tapestry makes the time and effort well worth the trouble.
This Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking is intended for my oldest grandchild, Liam.  Having completed section 3 last Wednesday, I got a nice start on section 6 of the chart today.  This is not nearly as impressive as it sounds: sections 3, 6 and 9 are not much more than twenty stitches wide, being the very far right edge of the stocking.    I decided that I'd work down the right side of the stocking and then across the bottom to the left and up again to the top before cutting my fabric.  I want to have real hands-on evidence of the final size of the project since I hope to have enough of the fabric left to make at least one more, though possibly two more stockings on the same background for my remaining grandchild and the grandchild soon-to-be.  Since a stocking only requires a seam allowance, once I have an outline, I can trim this project more economically.  I don't want to waste so much as an inch because, with my luck, a mere inch would be exactly how far short I would fall for the third stocking.  I have a lovely Woodland Maiden Dimensions Kit  with a nice medieval feel that could be made to fit the dimensions of a stocking for my granddaughter Piper and I am always on the look-out for something that will be in keeping with this woodland theme for the baby boy that is due at the end of September.  Decades ago I stitched a Woodland Santa stocking for my son, the father of these three children.    And once I have the children's stockings done, I will have to find something suitable with a similar theme for my daughter-in-law.  The children's stockings will all be in a medieval style but since my son's stocking was a country primitive design, I'll look for something similar for my daughter-in-law.

And early this morning, before I went to work, I managed an hour of stitching and finished up the satin stitched band of The English Band Sampler as well as the bit of a divider between it and the second band.  I also started the second band but there is no use putting up a picture yet. Though I have stitched a fair bit of the first motif, it doesn't show up very well.  The pale tawny of DMC 3770 fades into the ground fabric and won't show to advantage till I have stitched some of the other colors in the motif and done the backstitching.  I plan to divide the rest of the week pretty evenly between the Woodland Angel and the sampler.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Taking on Tuesday

The main event yesterday was the dreaded annual mammogram, outdone in discomfort and distaste only by the even more dreaded colonoscopy yet to come next month.  Happily this last only has to be done once every five years.  Don't get me wrong: I am delighted that modern medicine has these wonderful diagnostic tools to keep us all healthy and well.  I just wish Star Trek medicine were already a reality: you know, Bones just waving his medical tricorder in front of the appropriate body area and coming up with a diagnosis using painless and non-invasive means, with the added bonus that one remains fully clothed throughout the entire process.  But alas, this is not the 23rd century.  And given the realities of human nature, when the 23rd century finally does roll around, it may very well be a much darker time than Gene Roddenberry ever imagined.  It'll probably be more Dune than Trek.

In any case, yesterday was also marked by a stitching trifecta of sorts:

The evening's stitching on The English Band Sampler yielded this progress.  The satin stitching is nearly complete with just the darkest coral tips of four carnation petals and the four dark green sections where the petals of the carnations meet the stems needing to be worked.  I figure that will take another hour.  I had hoped to be finished with the satin stitching by Tuesday night, but alas, that was not to be.  Thursday morning will have to do since today is Wentzler Wednesday and I shall be concentrating on the Woodland Angel tonight.

I got a bit more waiting room stitching done on Primitive Needle's Thy Needle, finally adding a wee bit of color to the piece.  Not much, though, as you can see since the folks at the imaging lab were extremely efficient and apparently do not overbook their appointments.  As I have noted before, this piece is excellent for waiting room stitching since it has lots of repetition so there is no need to pull out the chart at all.  And most of the repetitive stitching is also same color stitching so there is not a lot of fussing with floss rings and such.

And, at lunchtime, I was able to do a bit more stitching on the  Victoria Sampler Mystic Smalls Stitcher's Pocket.  I was able to do the sails and masts of the lighthouse ship.  I can't quite seem to escape the omnipresent satin stitching this week.  I still have a bit more detail to complete on this motif: some flags, a few more lines about the sails, etc.  That bit of red basting below the waves represents a fold line which accounts for the different orientation of this last panel.  It is, in fact, the front of the pocket while the stitchers and the harbor scene are the back of the pocket and the hardanger panel is the front flap of the pocket.  I'll soon be able to start on the lighthouse motif to the left of the ship and then it will just be a matter of finishing the blanket stitched edging.  I look forward to having one more finish from the Class Project List under my belt.  As an inveterate list maker, I derive a lot of satisfaction from being able to cross an item off a list.

Now, I have worked on three or more different projects in a given week.  But seldom have I worked on three different projects in a single day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday, Monday

And here is the post I had intended for today.

Satin stitching is best done in small doses.  I have discovered I do not like doing it for hours on end however lovely it might look.  It is tedious, dull, boring; it fails to stimulate mind or eye; it begets monotony; it fails to please ... I could go on but I'd rather not sound like a thesaurus.  Here is a photo of progress made since yesterday's weekend progress report. I finished several colors [DMC 353, 799, 3753, 3770, and 3822] and started on another [DMC 352 ] today.  All I need to complete is the satin stitching in the carnations.  With any luck at all, all the satin stitching will be done by Tuesday evening.  

And some stash enhancement has been going on as well.  I placed an order with Needle In A Haystack on Saturday morning for a number of GAST and WDW cotton overdyes I need for the next two Town Square SAL ornaments coming up soon in my rotation [The Primitives Shop and The Antique Store] as well as for some additional DMC I'll need to continue the work on The English Band Sampler and TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.  


Every so often I check out the section in Blogger Stats labelled Referring Sites.  I have on occasion found new stitching sites that way.  In any case, I am always interested to see who is interested in my blog.  Well, this morning, I innocently clicked on one of the referring sites to see who it might be.  It took me less than 3 seconds to discover it was something in which I had no interest whatsoever - an adult sex dating and connecting site.  I realize that such sites occasionally troll for new visitors by inserting their addresses into more innocuous sites.  But it irritates me exceedingly to have such a site intruding on mine.   I would rather not know what other consenting adults do.  Morally speaking, I believe in  healthy monogamous relationships, whatever the orientation or formal legal status of the couple ... so I imagine some people would consider me priggish because of the monogamous proviso.  But I would never dream of criticizing anyone merely because they had a different point of view.  I simply mind my own business and expect other people to mind theirs as well.  And I think that is why I am so disgusted by this incident.  A blog is a very personal thing and the site in question violates my personal sexual ethos and as such, has no business connecting itself with me.    After all, it is one thing to advertise your site on similar sites but to broadcast it at random, especially when it contains material that many would find offensive, is predatory.  I can think of no other more appropriate word: predatory.

This was not the post I was planning to write today.  I simply had to vent my frustration.  I will probably post a normal stitch-related post later on in the day.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekend Progress Report August 19, 2012

This has been a good week for staying on goal even if I am not stitching quite as much as I might wish.

Part II of The English Band Sampler was my primary focus during the later half of the week. Since I really want to get Part II of the English Band Sampler done this month, I devoted my hermiting weekend to it.  And in spite of having to frog one entire blue carnation motif because I started it one thread too far to the left, I finally managed to get all the cross-stitched outlining done.   It took me half an hour to frog the darn thing and another hour and a quarter to restitch it, leaving me nearly two hours behind where I might have been.  Darn  these aging eyes!  But I did get a fair start on the satin stitching and, one hopes, will be able to finish it by Tuesday.    It is hard to see all the satin stitching  because I have been using DMC 3770 thus far and it doesn't show up well in the narrower bands between the square tiles and in the dividing bands.  I've never had to do so much satin stitching in one project so I have no way to estimate how long this will take.    With luck, I can begin work on the second band in this section by Thursday or Friday.  The second band is even more complex than the first in terms of fussy motifs.  However, minus Wentzler Wednesdays, there are still ten days left in this month.  I just might finish Part II this month.  Who am I kidding?  But I might come close.  Hope springs eternal!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A WIP Report

Yesterday, I did a bit more work on The English Band Sampler.  I managed to put in about an hour on this before heading out to work and another hour after work.  The cross-stitching outline in this satin stitch band is going far more slowly than I had hoped.  Even though my summer hours get me home from work at 3:00pm, I find I am not doing much stitching in the evenings.  What with errands and keeping up with the housework, all I want to do is collapse round about 5:00pm.  Having a full month off spoiled my pacing.  I am so ready for retirement, it isn't even funny.  Oh, well, just four more years unless the wretched politicians play still more games with full eligibility age for Social Security.  I have been contributing to that fund since I was 16 with only an 8 year hiatus when my children were too young for school.and I would very much like to start drawing a return.

 Lunch hour stitching was back on goal as well: I picked up the Mystic Smalls stitcher's pocket from the 2007 Stitcher's Hideaway in Mystic, Ct.    Of course, one doesn't get much done in an half an hour but at least the piece is back in the rotation.  All I managed to stitch were the satin stitched waves on the last panel.  Still, it felt good to be working on another item from my Class Project List.  I am rather excited about getting back to this project.  It's a Thea Dueck  [Victoria Sampler] piece and my very first attempt at Hardanger.  The one thing I am putting off, though, are the two spider web roses in ribbon embroidery in the panel with the vines between the two stitchers.  All my previous attempts at ribbon embroidery have been hit or miss.  Sometimes perfect and sometimes dreadful and nothing in between.  I am also a little worried about continuing the blanket stitched edging of this pocket  ... it's been so long since I started it I am concerned about matching the tension.  I haven't done any hardanger stitching since I put this down and fear I have forgotten everything I learned.

On Tuesday, I played chauffeur for my husband and took him to the surgeon's office for a pre-op consultation.  I spent nearly two and a half hours in the waiting room and put the time to good use by finishing up the WDW Charcoal outline stitching in the top border of The Primitive Needle's The Needle.  I am getting a bit tired of all this Charcoal stitching but it is very nearly done ... just one more floral motif to do.  While this piece isn't actually on my August goals list, it makes a great travel piece at this point.  Few color changes and lots of regularly repeating motifs mean that there is seldom a need to consult the chart.   I even remembered to bring my flippable magnifying lens that fit over my regular glasses.  The right tools for the right job: a bit of magnification is always useful in the soft light that is typical of waiting rooms.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wentzler Wednesday Whispers

Today's meager progress deserves the merest of whispers.  So no photos will be forthcoming.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: August 12, 2012

It's been a interesting  and varied stitching week:

I got started on my latest Teresa Wentzler project: the Woodland Angel Stocking for my grandson, Liam.

I have made some headway on Part II of The English Band Sampler from SANQ.  I worked on finishing up the cross-stitching of the first band of Part II but didn't get very far.  But I hope to finish the cross-stitching by Tuesday evening and spend the rest of the week [sans Wentzler Wednesday] on the satin stitching.  I've never had to do so much satin stitching at one time and have no clue as to how long it will take.  And it won't be mindless repetition, either, since the satin stitching has many changes in color, size and orientation.  The second band of Part II is equally elaborate, with lots of complex floral motifs done in a mix of cross stitch, satin stitch and blackwork.  I hope to finish Part II this month and set Part III as my goal for September..  

And I have been sewing a fair bit, making a nice dent in the contents of the finishing basket ... which, by the way, is one of those fairly substantial rectangular laundry baskets.  I am enjoying the new sewing machine and feel like I finally have a handle on getting all this finishing done.  This week, I finished work on several ornaments, a knitting tote, and a pillow.  I have gotten started on another five projects: a candle mat, another tote, another pillow and two more ornaments.  Once I clear the dining room table of these five projects, I am going to bring one project down and work on it for an hour each morning until it is done, then bring the next and the next, over and over, until the laundry basket is empty. 

I even did a little off-goal stitching on Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  And I have spent some time researching variations of the cobweb stitch since I want to use some dimensional embroidery on my Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square.

I've mailed out a long overdue exchange and sent on a recently stitched chart to a blogging friend.  There is one exchange still left on my agenda and on my conscience but after that I can say good-bye to a practice that I once loved but now don't seem to have the motivation to handle responsibly.

I've done a giveaway or two ... nowadays, that's more my style than exchanges ... I get to set my own parameters with no guilt, no fuss and no deadlines.

I also reorganized my living room stitching area.  The theory was that if I cleaned up and sorted and put away all the stuff I wasn't using, I might actually find my cording drill which I haven't used since I last put together some Town Square SAL ornaments in June of 2010.  Currently, I have three ornaments that require cording: Star Theater, Holly & Hearts and Full Moon.   I found the drill in a clear plastic zip lock bag that I must have handled at least a dozen times in the past week as I searched through the tote hanging from the arm of my stitching chair.  I'd just never flipped it around to see that my drill was hiding behind my Crop-a-Dile.

The month is nearly halfway over and I still haven't pulled out the 2007 Mystic Hideaway projects or worked on my Fertile Circles Needlebook, the two remaining August goals.  But there is still ample time for those pieces in the next two and a half weeks.  There seems to be a good chance that I will meet my monthly goals two months in a row.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Movie I'd Like to See

I don't like going to the movies ... most often I'd rather wait for the DVD.  I find that movie etiquette just isn't what it used to be before cineplexes.  [Yes, I am over 60 and sometimes a mite cranky with it!!!]  I don't like paying a small fortune to sit in a tiny, poorly air-conditioned room with a bunch of techies using their glowing and often beeping, singing, chiming smart-phones throughout the whole movie.  And I am inclined to agree with the Preacher from Serenity who claims that there is a special place in hell for people who talk in theaters.  I am also inclined to wonder why parents bring small children to 8:00 and 9:00pm showings.  How late does one have to go to movies to avoid small children?  Don't get me wrong.  I love children.  I just think that anyone under the age of seven should be in bed at 9:00pm and not sitting beside me in a movie theater whining about candy or the need to go to the restroom.  Truth be told, I prefer to be in bed at 9:00pm myself most nights.  Besides, movies shown at the later viewings are seldom suitable for or of interest to youngsters.  And quietly tolerating boredom is simply not a skill set of the very young ... especially if overtired and overstimulated by sweets.

All that being said, I am still inclined to brave the wilds of the local multiplex to see Hope Springs with Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell.  I think Meryl Streep is one of the finest actresses around and that Tommy Lee Jones is a gifted actor whose comedic timing and delivery are woefully under-rated.  I am not crazy about Steve Carrell but the reviews indicate that, atypically, he doesn't mug his way through this movie.  The premise of a couple married 30+ years seeking to reinvigorate their marriage is a storyline I can enjoy.  It's always nice, at my age, to find a movie that isn't about 30 somethings but about real people my age and not just the usual stereotypes of dirty old man or batty old woman or sweet but wisely dotty grandparents.

My husband also dislikes going to movies  He finds the seating uncomfortable and the spacing too close, with people scrunched together like too many flowers stuffed in a vase.    If he can't get an aisle seat, he feels claustrophobic.  But he is a big Tommy Lee Jones fan and might be persuaded.  If not, I can always wait for the DVD.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Winner of the 2012 Halloween JCS issue

There were quite a few entries for this giveaway so I have to conclude that my negative review of this particular issue is definitely a minority opinion.  But my opinion, for what it is worth, remains that previous issues were much better, e.g.: the 2010 issue had splendid designs like Ink Circles' Full Moon and Plum Street Sampler's Halloween Greetings, among others.  If one can apply the word elegant to Halloween ornaments, those earlier designs deserve the adjective.  And previous issues had lovely designs from The Sweetheart Tree and Prairie Schooler and cleverly whimsical designs from La-D-Da and Monsterbubbles.  The new stuff just doesn't seem to compare favorably with the old.  I do believe I am becoming one of those old cranks that begins every other sentence with phrases like "In the good old days..." or, worse yet, "In my day ...".

I suppose the ornaments in the current issue are more kid-friendly [indeed, the inspiration for many of them seems to have been derived from the costume section of your local Toys'R'Us] and I expect they will stitch up rather quickly, but I still haven't the slightest desire to stitch a single one ... but then my distaste is someone else's good fortune: the winner of this issue is Monica.  I used the on line Randomizer  and her number came up.  I will be e-mailing her later today.  Thanks to everyone who entered, I enjoyed reading your comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some Sewing and Assembly Finishes

As my vacation winds down to a close and I realize I haven't done any sewing finishes. though I had ample opportunity ... I figured I'd better get cracking.

First, I backed and beaded the last three of my Sue Donnelly Merry Mystic ornaments.  While looking through stash for something else entirely, I found some black adhesive backed felt that worked quite nicely.  And I have a huge selection of leftover Mill Hill beads, so making the hangers was a breeze.  I have tucked them away with some Christmas presents I bought at various craft galleries.  Let's just hope I remember to untuck them at Christmas time.  I have been known to forget a cache of presents for several years.  The plan is to use these little cuties as package trim.

 I also spent some time finishing up a tote for knitting projects, complete with a lining with pockets for long skinny needles and a section for an upright skein of wool.  The design comes from the 2010 JCS Halloween ornament issue: Plum Street Sampler's Halloween Greetings.  What with all the sheep, it seemed more appropriate for a knitting tote than a Halloween ornament so I stitched it on a 28ct instead of the recommended 36ct linen.  This tote was made from sample swatches of various upholstery materials and lined with fabric cut from an old flannel bed sheet.

  I finished this tote with a flat bottom using this excellent tutorial.  To give the bottom a little added stability, I covered a heavy piece of cardboard, cut to shape, with some more of the soft flannel.  I am rather proud of this little tote and will enjoy taking it to the knitting circle when it starts up again in October. It now organizes my meager stash of knitting materials.  But I expect, as I learn more and practice more, the stash will outgrow this modest beginning.

When I first began stitching this Papillion Creations' Peacock design, my intention was to finish it as a biscornu but I really didn't feel like stitching a complementary bottom in order to have a final finish ... too labor intensive.  So, instead, I chose to make this tall, skinny throw pillow.  I had all the green fabrics and trim in my stash.  The lace with ribbon ruffle actually came from my mother's craft stash.  She used to make and dress dolls before her eyesight became an issue.  Now she crochets.

I also had the Just Nan hand-painted peacock charm in my stash ... purchased for no better reason than that I thought it was pretty and I knew I would use it someday.   I stitched it to a yo-yo made from the darker green fabric and then used that to conceal the whip-stitching that closed the opening at the top once the pillow was stuffed.

There are a few more projects on the dining room table in various stages of completion. I hope to get to them tomorrow.

The Victoria Sampler Holly and Hearts Christmas ornament.  The boards are cut and padded.  I only need to lace the backing fabric and the stitched fabric to the boards and assemble them.  Heart shaped ornaments are always a bit fussy and I tend to put off such finishes whenever I can.

Another "finally" project was prepping the boards for a flat ornament promised to a reader who won one of my blog giveaways from 2011.  It was supposed to be mailed in March 2012 but is still in process: stitched  since last February but laid aside and the victim of out of sight, out of mind syndrome.  It will be  assembled and mailed sometime later this week.  This is another of the Halloween ornaments from the JCS 2010 issue: Ink Circles' Full Moon.  I stitched it for myself on the recommended neutral fabric and when I had occasion to stitch it again, I chose a deep purple linen as a more appropriate night sky background.  I'll show a photo once it is assembled.

The candle mat from Prairie Grove Peddler has a summer-y theme: lighthouses that remind me of vacationing on the coast of Maine.  So it seemed appropriate to put it together in August.  I have put together all the layers.  All I need to do is sew on the double fold bias tape edging.  I just wasn't ready to take the ecru thread out of the machine and re-thread with red.  Again a photo will follow once I have done the final finishing touch of adding the binding.

And the reason I wanted to leave the ecru thread in place: I constructed the patterns and started the sewing on Better Homes & Garden's Tooth Fairy Pillow which will ultimately find its way into the hands of my grandson, who just celebrated his fifth birthday.  He loves trains so I thought this pillow ticking fabric reminiscent of the striped overalls of old-time train engineers  would be appropriately masculine.  Of course, I will have to re-do this project in pinks and ruffles and lace and ribbons in just a few years for my granddaughter who is totally girly.  I am already gagging at the thought! How I managed to have a granddaughter who is mad about Disney princesses, pink ruffled dresses and all things ultra-feminine is beyond me.  I can't even blame my daughter-in-law who is as staunchly unfrilly as any good outdoorsy environmentalist should be.  I blame my daughter-in-law's mother whose hopes for a doll baby of a little girl were met one generation late.

All in all, a productive day at the sewing machine.  Hey, at this rate, I'll get enough practice on the new machine that I may be able to discard the manual when figuring out how to load a bobbin or thread the machine when changing thread color.  I've managed to deal with the basics well enough but I'll still be wanting to take a course or two to learn how to use all the more complex features.  Maybe in September.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wentzler Wednesday Once More

I just checked: the last time I posted a Wentzler Wednesday report was back in July of 2011.  I have long since finished both the Ms. Wentzler's Autumn Faerie and The Tracery Dragons and just started the Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking a few days ago.  So it is time to re-institute the practice of stitching on my current Wentzler project at least one day of every week if I am ever to meet my goal of having the stocking ready for Christmas.  Actually, I'll probably have to devote two or three days a week to the project to meet that goal.  But Wentzler Wednesday is a good starting point.

Anyway, I am moving along quite nicely now that I have switched to a more substantial 28ct linen.  Since I started working from the top right hand corner downward I have nearly finished Section 3 of the chart.  I did stitch a little bit of Sections 1 and 2 at the top of the stocking, if only to finish out a needleful of thread here and there.  What you see at present are the wingtips of the angel and a suggestion of a fir tree and the beginnings of the framework for the personalization at the top.    I haven't decided whether I will back-stitch each section as I finish it.  Some of the sections are so small that it just doesn't make sense to do so.  This is one of the most bizarrely organized charts I have ever seen.  Though adjoining chart sections clearly could have fit on the same page and are in fact printed separately on the same page, there was no attempt made to simplify the chart by unifying the sections.  And the pages of the chart are printed in booklet form so it is impossible to keep the symbol chart page and the chart page currently being worked on visible at the same time.  A real inconvenience in a TW chart which calls for color changes [almost always a blended needle] every dozen or so stitches.  There is a lot of flipping back and forth going on.  And I slow things down a bit myself by loading up only one needle at a time.  With some past Wentzler pieces I have done [and I have done many], I used to keep all the blended needles loaded at a time but there are so many of them involved in her projects that it often becomes a tangled mess even when using needle organizers.  The end result is a very unportable project and lots of wasted and unindentifiable thread blends.  It's slower but ultimately saner to keep all flosses on bobbins in a case just large enough to hold all the colors for the project and to load one needle at a time as it is called for.

This morning I had to spend an hour's stitching time on a travel project though.  In a recent post, I mentioned that I brought my car in for an inspection and routine maintenance last Thursday.  Well, wouldn't you know it?  When I got home, I found a postcard from the self-same auto dealership informing me that there was a recall for two items on my car.  I had to go back today to have that attended to.  When I asked them why they didn't identify the need to take care of the recall last Thursday, they explained that their Internet access was down for several days last week and so they had not been able to check the VIN # for any recalls.  A sensible enough explanation but just my luck!  However, the day wasn't a total waste.  I stopped at the nearby Barnes & Nobles and bought some FBI thrillers and an Agatha Christie mystery for myself and ordered The Blue Fairy Book edited by A. Lang to be sent to my grand-daughter for her birthday [I was amazed to find that they did not have this classic in stock and that it had to be handled as a pre-paid order and that it now costs $33.95] and I stopped at the bank to make a deposit in the grandchildren's account, at my doctor's office to pick up a scrip for a mammogram [Oh joy! Oh joy!] and finally, at the post office on the way home to mail a bunch of things: a stitching RAK and a stitching exchange, some packages for my grandchildren, a dress that needed to be returned because it was too big [that almost never happens] and "... a partridge in a pear tree".    I should've squeezed in a trip to the grocer and the butcher as well but I had had it.  This all cut into my productive Wentzler stitching time somewhat today but I am still left with the feeling of having accomplished a great deal.  When I got home today at about 2:00pm, I read my e-mail and a few blogs and then sat down to read one of my new purchases for just a bit and, after just 21 pages, promptly fell asleep till 6:00pm.  The sixth decade is like that!  Even my waiting room stitching, at the auto dealership, wasn't all that impressive: just a tiny bit more of the WDW charcoal on Primitive Needle's Thy Needle.  I am getting dreadfully tired of black and there is still a lot of it left to stitch.  Even the colors, such as they are, are not particularly color-full on this piece.  I did not make enough to justify taking another photo: the light was iffy and my stitching was slow and careful.  One good thing about the waiting room though was that, at first, I was the only one in it and I was able to turn off the omnipresent waiting room TV with impunity: no inane daytime television talk shows or incessant coverage of the Olympics ... just blessed quiet.  Why people seem to need TV as background noise beats me.  I find it so very annoying and distracting.    It was terrible last Thursday when some of the waiting room denizens had small children in tow and tuned into bizarre anime cartoons.  Now, my 30 something son tells me that anime is a Japanese art form but these particular cartoons were just painful.  Even the most mentally challenged child deserves something more substantial by way of plot and visuals!  No wonder we can document decreasing size of working vocabularies and lower literacy rates in recent generations.  If they are fed a steady diet of this mindless pap, one could hardly expect anything else.  Okay, end of rant by disgruntled teacher.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The WIPs GOING INTO 2012 LIST Is Still Growing

Bit by bit I have been going through my stitching center and the various baskets and totes in which I have stored all my stitching supplies.  The result is that, every so often, I find a WIP I had forgotten about.  The latest are the M Design's Name ornament for my son, Sean, and a needlepoint owl.  I started the Christmas ornament at least 6 years ago and abandoned it because I wasn't all that experienced with over one stitching at the time.  I am no longer put off by over one so this project is back on the list.  And the needlepoint owl dates from 2011 when I found some needlepoint canvas as I was rummaging around in my stash and just had to play with it.  I think I have finally found all the unfinished projects.  At least, I hope I have.  These latest finds bring the grand total of WIPs Going Into 2012 to 16 of which only 9 still need to be stitched.  I would really like to have all of these completely stitched by early December of 2012.  It would be nice to go into 2013 with only whatever projects remain on the Class Projects list and possibly a 2012 WIP or two carried forward. I'd like to get to the point where I can catch up completely and have only 2 or 3 projects that are truly current in my current stitching tote.  I was ashamed when I realized how many UFOs and WIPs and neglected Class Projects I had ...  between the nine class projects and the 16 WIPs with which I started 2012, that's over 25 projects.  Note: some of the class projects have several pieces.   There is a lot of time, energy and money invested in these half finished pieces.  So it just made good sense to devote this year to working on them all.  I have completed nearly half the WIPs and am slowly working my way through the Class Projects as well.  The Class Projects tend to take longer since many of them are large pieces, have multiple parts or involve special techniques.  I thought it might be interesting to pull out all the remaining WIPs and photograph them.  It might help me to organize my priorities and decide which I might want to work on next.  So, in alphabetical order:

 Alessandre Adelaide's Zucca.  This is the last of my 2011 Crazy Challenge pieces and is another example of a poor fabric choice on my part.  In real life, this special edition Alabama Clay linen from Silkweaver ends up looking like camouflauge against the bright Thread Gatherer fiber.  Normally,  it looks like a dark neutral and no where near as military!  Happily, this is a mistake I don't make too often.  I'll probably restart this on a pale neutral background but use the same fibers.  I have a number of fabrics I am considering but am leaning toward a very soft buttercream shade.
 Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square and Strap.  This should probably be on the class projects list as it was an on-line class but it was in my current stitching bag when I compiled that list and so ended up on the WIPs list instead.  Ultimately, I want to finish this piece as a shoulder bag with a zippered top and a lining with multiple pockets.  I visualize it as a sort of lightweight "organizer" bag.  The photo below shows the basic ground.  And the photo to the right shows a detail of the encrusting that I have started.  By the time I am through I should have embellished all the patches with either surface and raised embroidery, beads, buttons and charms.
 This piece is a lot of fun because it lets the magpie aspect of my personality range free.   For the most part I live by the motto that "less is more."  I flatter myself that the keywords describing my taste in clothing, home decor, etc are "elegant simplicity".  But there is a small, secret corner of my soul that adores baroque ornamentation and, let's be honest here, glitzy kitsch.    Projects like this one and the recent Merry Mystic ornaments [See posts July 24 and 26] satisfy this need for sparkle and gleam.
The Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  This is a really ambitious project for me.  If I get it done this year, it will be a Christmas gift for my mother: the colors are perfect for her decor.  In the more likely event that I have to carry this project forward into 2013, it will have to be a Mother's Day gift.  There is a flower motif and a bud motif.  I am stitching them on alternating squares  and have stitched 3 of the 16 squares so far.  So there is a long way to go.  But we are talking huge stitching here [at least to somebody accustomed to 36 and 40ct linen] and it goes rather quickly, once I am in the groove.
My Own Beach Find Pansies.  One reason I'd never make it in the highly competitive world of designing is that, for me, designing is more process than product.  Once I have solved the puzzle of effectively realizing my inspiration on linen, I lose interest.   Still, I'd like to finish this piece and incorporate it in a Crazy Quilt Square or some other multimedia project.  I call it "beach find" because the centers of the pansies are actually fragments of oyster shells that have been polished by the waves of the Chesapeake Bay.

My Own Fertile Circles Needlebook.  Another of my own designs, set aside for the simple reason that I hit a boring patch.  The bargello of the back shows gaps where you can see, in real life, the linen threads between the rows.  So I started backstitching between the rows with several strands of blending floss: a nice effect but ever so boring.  Once that is done, I have only one small task to complete on the front:  couching a fairly Thread Gatherer fiber to represent a sinuous snake wending it's way around the nests.  Since there is really very little left to do on this, I made it my WIP goal for this month.  In the face of all the other more complex projects on the August goals list, I thought it would be the most doable.
 M Design's Name ornament: Sean.  I have charts for all my children and my husband and myself.  To give you an idea of just how long I have had the charts, I am stitching it with Needle Necessities Victorian Christmas floss.  And I have charts for the names of several pets, one of whom has been dead for three years.  I do not have charts for my grandchildren, though, as they were born several years after the original purchase was made.  Even if I get this done this year, I'll hold off presenting it to him as package trim until I can get a companion ornament stitched for my daughter-in-law, Christina.
 Midnight Moogies.  This is a design from a British magazine.  Just the other day one of my British followers commented that  "In the UK a complex design is one which features large blocks of colour (yawn!)."  This design certainly lives up to that description.  The boredom with repetitive fill stitching is likely what made me set this piece aside in the first place.  My plans for this involve making it into a sturdy tote, suitable for the beach or poolside.  The fabric is not actually quite this bright a blue; it is more of a navy blue.  The odd thing is this is an outdoor photo and I'd expect the color to be more true in a photo taken in natural light.
 Needlepoint Owl.  This comes from an old needlepoint hardcover, c1972, called The Creative Art of Needlepoint Tapestry by Joan Fisher.  It is a sampler of sorts since I am using different stitches for each distinct element that makes up the owl design.  I am using wools and wool blends from Thread Gatherer and Rainbow Gallery as my main fibers but will probably use some silk or bamboo floss for texture and contrast somewhere along the line.  Basically, I am following the general geometrical outline in the book but choosing my own stitches and colors as I go along.
  • T. Wentzler's Logo Dragon.  I set this aside for two reasons.  The scroll rods on which I stretched the piece are clumsy and cumbersome.  And I really don't care for the YLI silks that I substituted for the DMC.  YLIs were the very first silks I ever purchased, long before Belle Soie was available and before I even knew about Splendour, Glorianna, Thread Gatherer and Caron.  They just don't compare with what's currently available on the market.  On the other hand, I like the chart and have done a fair bit of it so I may as well finish.  Still, I suspect this will remain the last piece on my list.  And it may even turn into a re-start.  I find I am getting fussier as I get older and have no problem starting over if I don't like how a project is going.
     That's the lot.   Now that I have pulled them out, I want to work on them all immediately.  As I handle them I hear again the siren call that made me start each and every one of them in the first place.  But looking at them, several things become quite obvious.  One, my tastes in stitching is nothing if not eclectic.  If you were to look for a common theme, technique or material among these projects, I doubt you'd be able to find much.  About the only thing the projects have in common is that they all appeal to me on some level.  Two, I am doing a bit more designing of my own, usually incorporating mixed media and found objects.  In fact, I find myself saving all sorts of oddities with a notion that they might come in handy in my stitching projects, e.g.: an oval shaped tear drop in jade with an open center from an unmated earring, the tiny lockable chest from a "prayer" bracelet given me by a student who obviously thinks I am holier than I am, the sea glass and polished shell fragments collected while on vacation and such like things.   I wonder how many other long time stitchers end up doing a spot of amateur designing.     Is it part of the natural progression?  Once you reach a certain level of skill, do you just naturally want to translate all sorts of ideas into textile art?  Third,  I am clearly a serial starter and I need to exercise a little more self-discipline if I am ever to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Realistically speaking, I will never be able to enjoy the use of the planned handbags and totes or be able to present my planned gifts if I don't get into the habit of finishing a project or two every so often.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Re-Starting My New Start - And Another Giveaway

The discarded 32 ct fabric

Replaced by this lighter 28ct linen
Usually my instincts are pretty good when I exchange the recommended fabric for something I already have in my stash, but not this time.  I had chosen a 32ct deep green mystery linen for my TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking and the two strands of blended floss just weren't laying properly.  The overall effect was just plain messy ... I can think of no better way to describe it.  Now, usually I like the look of two strands of DMC on 32 ct but this particular linen is even more irregular than some, with some extremely thin threads and some very nubby fat ones and everything in between.  It also has an unusually soft drape in the hand.  Even with the softest of tensions, some of the stitches look fat and some look like they were stuffed into threads too thin to hold them.  Rather like a size 18 woman squeezing into a size 12 dress.  I still wanted a bit of color in the background rather than the recommended ivory so I have started over again on a 28ct Silkweaver Cashel linen.  The color is called Castle View, a very pale misty dawn sort of blue-grey.  Since the color is more of a neutral [rather like the recommended Ivory] I expect the DMC colors in this project will show to better effect.  And the floss is laying better on the 28ct.  The stocking will be a bit larger than I had wanted but I am sure the end product will look a whole lot better.  

At least I haven't wasted too much time on the dark green fabric, only an hour or two.  I know what my next waiting room task will be: frogging the 32ct fabric.  Aside from Christmas ornaments or a sunflower sampler, I can'r think of many ways to use this color linen.  But I expect I will find some other use for it that will involve stitching over two threads with one strand of silk floss.  Silk tends to have more of a loft than DMC cotton so one strand of a Belle Soie is thicker than one strand of DMC but thinner than two strands and ought to work well on this fabric.  As I said, I have very few ideas as to what sort of project would work on that deep  green color [see the first photo].  So, I invite my readers to make suggestions.  If I use a suggestion, I will send the reader who offered it a small gift of some of my favorite green flosses from Thread Gatherer or GAST or WDW.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekend Progress Report: August 5, 2012

I generally start my Christmas gift stitching in July but I didn't quite make that deadline this year.  But that changed today.  I have made a small start on Wentzler's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking which I hope to have completely stitched and assembled and ready for my grandson by Christmas of 2012.  It's been awhile since I worked on a Teresa Wentzler piece so I expect to enjoy the complexity and fine detail that is her trademark.    There is always a point, usually midway through a TW project, that this same once-so-appealing-to-me complexity becomes anathema, requiring a short stay in a suitable rest home for stressed out stitchers.  But that should be months away.  Whenever it gets to be a little bit too much for me, I'll switch back to The English Band Sampler which is also a complex project but in a completely different style.  I figure alternating between the two pieces ought to keep me fresh and motivated.  But I have kitted up a few small Christmas ornaments, as well - just in case I need a shot of instant gratification.

And speaking of The English Band Sampler, here is  a photo of recent progress on it.  This current row is a breeze after the recent fussy work with the Queen stitched strawberries of the previous row.  Currently, I am working on completing the rest of the cross stitching in this row though I did do a bit of the satin stitching while waiting for my car to be serviced.  There are also a few other specialty stitches, an Algerian eyelet and some fern stitches, that will be a nice finishing touch.  Part II is made up of two rows of elaborately stylized floral motifs.  I haven't done much of this sort of stitching.  Oh, there have been a few sampler borders that incorporated
stylized flower motifs but nothing this dramatic.  American floral motifs seem quite restrained when compared with the English ones. The photo on the right shows the whole band as far as I have stitched it.  If you look closely at the olive green [DMC 732] divider, you will note that I have stitched a good bit of the satin stitch fill between the cross stitching.  It made perfect waiting room stitching: same color floss, repetitive stitches, no need to fuss with charts and floss boxes.  And the photo on the left is a close-up of the floral motifs that will ultimately fill the entire area and will be filled with varying lengths of vertical and horizontal satin stitching. This is turning out to be an interesting piece and a bit of a challenge.  At least it is not boring.

Finally, some recent stash enhancement.  I purchased copies of The Proper Stitch and the JCS Halloween 2012 issue.  A quick glance through The Proper Stitch revealed a treasure trove of information for anyone who loves samplers and specialty stitches.  I just know I am going to love delving into this book at my leisure.    I also bought a set of those needle ID cards and tucked them away in the VB pencil case I use to store all my needles.  The cards will come in handy to identify all the stray needles that have been separated from their proper packets.  And I got the remaining skeins of WDW and GAST I needed for stitching Primitive  Needle's Thy Needle.  Only the JCS Halloween issue was a disappointing waste of money.  None of the ornaments appealed to me and the larger pieces fall into two categories so far as I am concerned: [one] far too similar to things I have already seen and stitched or [two] just too silly for words. I find the whole experience of paging through this issue similar to my disenchantment with the recent JCS Christmas ornament issues.  I haven't purchased any of those for at least three years now: pretty much a matter of been there, done that reactions to the designs.  The one really bright light in this recent stash enhancement venture was the speedy service: I ordered from A Needle in A Haystack [Alameda, Ca.] on aFriday morning and had the items on the following Monday morning.  You just can't do better than that!

Most of the day I have spent reading in bed while convalescing from a minor ailment.  I like Robert Parker's Jesse Stone novels and am nearly through with Night and Day.