Friday, January 31, 2014

Assessing January Goals, Setting February Goals

JANUARY GOALS: This month, I have stitched exclusively on my current BAP WIP, The English Band Sampler. 
BAPs:  Start on Piper's Stocking.   Not yet.
Class Project: Finally finish up the Mystic SmallsDidn't even get close to this one.
Town Square SAL: Stitch Milady's Tea Shoppe.   Kitted up and ready to go but not started.
WIP's: Finish The English Band Sampler.   I am nearly finished with Band 6, or at least that what I am telling myself. 
WISHFUL THINKING: stitch a few more heart ornaments for my Anniversary and Valentine's Day tree.  It's called wishful thinking for a reason.
OFF GOAL: some sewing finishes:  This is getting quite laughable.

FEBRUARY GOALS: I find that I am stitching a little less and reading a little more, especially at night.  My eyes are aging along with the rest of me and I doubt there are any more late night stitching marathons in my future.  Stitching after 9:00 pm only seems to result in frogging at 6:00 am the following morning.  So, if there seems to be an annoying sameness to my goals list month after month, chalk it up to the fact that I am slowing down.  Though I suspect February will be the same as January with an exclusive focus on the Band Sampler, I am really hoping to get a little variety going again.   Should I cling to the ope that I will finish the sampler and have time to attend to the additional goals ... or should I just admit I will continue my obsessive and probably futile efforts to finish up the sampler without ever getting anything else done?
BAPs:  Start work on Piper's Stocking.
Class Project: Finish the Mystic Smalls.
Town Square SAL: Start Milady's Tea Shoppe.
WIP's: Finish Band 6 and start on Band 7 of The English Band Sampler.
WISHFUL THINKING: stitch a few more heart ornaments for my Anniversary and Valentine's Day tree.  And maybe a few sewing finishes.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Band 6 Progress for the Month

This Band was started on January 1 and I have worked on it exclusively throughout the month.  I am no closer to finishing it since it was last seen in Tuesday's photo.  I suspect that will not happen till sometime in the second or third week of February.  Alas, it's just going to take as long as it takes.  Rushing satin stitches can make an unholy mess so it's better I just keep plugging away at a snail's pace.

As you can see, I still have some work left to do:
the satin stitches in the outer petals in DMC 352
the satin stitches in the blue squares and the olive green diagonals, DMC 3770
the satin stitches in the remaining crosses within the octagonal medallions, DMC  791
the Algerian Eyelets in DMC 3770
The straight stitches in DMC  3011
The bottom border in DMC 311

When I consider that I once deluded myself that this could have been my last finish of 2013, I just shake my head.  My cyber-friend Dani has called this the never-ending band and she nailed it.  And I suspect Band 7 will be very much the same.  Then, of course, I still have to go back to Band 2 and fill in the signature.  At the time, I couldn't decide whether I wanted my full name or just my initials and a date.  On the one hand, I am determined to keep working on this piece till I can claim victory ... even if that victory comes in June!  On the other hand, I am seriously considering dropping Band 7 altogether and declaring this piece done, done, done once I finish the signature.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Worst Winter in a Very long Time

It's official: this has been the worst winter in a very long time and there are still two more months to endure.  This morning's forecast included the prediction that another Arctic cold front [for some reason, this is now called a vortex] is coming our way.  This one will bring even colder temperatures than the two previous ones.  At least the sun has made an appearance today after being conspicuously absent for two dreadfully overcast and snowy weeks.  It is still quite cold at 17 degrees, though there is the promise of a high of 18 degrees this afternoon.  Ah, a veritable heat wave!  But at least it is bright. Everyone has been talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder lately as if it were a modern day plague.

I have already had to cancel Tuesday classes five times because of weather this winter and may have to do so yet again.  One would think this would all make for good stitching weather but that's not the way it is turning out for me.  Even wearing warm cashmere gloves on my short drive home from work leaves my fingers very cold and cramped.  I don't know whether it's rheumatism or arthritis or simple age, but it takes nearly an hour of cradling my hands round hot mugs of limber up enough to stitch.

But some stitching has been done and here is a photo as proof.  I have finished the second color of satin stitches, DMC 799, and have started on the third, DMC 817.  There is still the fawn, DMC 3770, to work inside the navy blue squares and in all the olive green connecting diagonals, as well as some green in the ;eaves of the floral motif and another shade of blue in the crosses in the octagons.  Then it is on to the Algerian Eyelet and the few little straight stitches.  With only three more days in the month, it is doubtful that this band will be done before February.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Even More Satin Stitching

I thought there were five distinct colors of satin stitching.  It turns out there are six.  But as I was working my way through the first color, I noticed that I had left some of the cross stitching undone ... in the octagonal medallions and half medallions.  Filling in the cross stitches set me back a bit and I did not quite complete the DMC 353 satin stitches on Sunday as planned.  So here it is Monday morning, and I've only managed to start the second color, DMC 799.

At the rate I am going, I doubt I'll be able to finish all the satin stitching this month.which is a real disappointment.  My first finish of 2014 is likely to come in February or even March.  This is a far cry from the good old days, when I could count on three or four finishes a month.  I am stitching more slowly and seem to have less time to stitch as well.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

And the Satin Stitching Continues

I do like the way this band is evolving.  More like tapestry than your average sampler.  I have noted the resemblance to a Persian rug several times.  But it is so apt a comparison that it bears repeating.  I am almost done with the satin stitching in DMC 353.  I should be able to add another color on Sunday.  I'll be working half a day today.  But once home, all I'll need to do is heat up some leftover chicken cacciatore for dinner and stitch to my heart's content.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

English Band Sampler Progress Photo

There are five different colors of satin stitching in this band and I am halfway through with the first, DMC 353.  I plan to devote most of tomorrow to housework and laundry and perhaps some baking but I will manage to reserve an hour or two for stitching.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Simply Satin Stitching - Sorry No Photo

Judging by recent progress, I expect the satin stitching to take nearly as long as the cross stitching on this band.  At this point, all I have managed is about one third of the satin stitching in just one color, DMC 353.  There are five other colors left to satin stitch.  And then there are the Algerian Eyes and a few stray straight stitches left to do.  And , of course, there is still the narrow band/border to stitch in DMC 311 at the very bottom of this band.  I am reluctantly resigning myself to the fact that I may not finish this band this month.  Even if I abandon my plan to start the two other major goal projects for the month, Piper's stocking and Milady's Tea Shoppe, I am not sure I'd have enough time to finish the band.

I do apologize for not posting in a while but I have been having problems accessing all the design functions of my blog with my home computer.  Since the home computer is where I have all my photo albums, I have been unable to load photos of my stitching or even write new posts.  I am going to have to see about setting up a photo album here at work and e-mailing photos from home and posting to the blog from this computer.  At least, that's the plan until I resolve the problems at home.  If I manage it today, I will make a rare double post with just a photo just before bedtime.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sidling up tp Satin Stitching

When last seen, The English Band Sampler still needed cross stitching in navy blue at the far right, a re-stitch of one frogged dark coral medallion in the lower right corner, and some more cross stitching in medium and light coral in the medallions and some  olive green inside the dark coral flower shapes.  When I started this band on January 1st, I had no idea how very long it would take to finish the cross stitching and start the satin stitching that appears to dominate the model photo.  Eighteen days and counting.  I am determined to finish the cross stitching this weekend and still have some time leftover to start Piper's stocking and even get a few sewing finishes done.  

Here's a shot of Saturday's and Sunday's progress.  All the cross stitching is finally done.Not bad considering that on Saturday I worked Confirmation interviews from 8:30 to Noon and then attended the 5:30 Mass before adding a two deep adult presence to the Teen RCIA.  At least, I wasn't the presenter and didn't have to prepare a lesson.  Sunday was manly deoted to housework and laundry but I did manage to squeeze in some stitching time.  So, on to the satin stitching, finally.

Friday, January 17, 2014

And Back To The Sampler

I called myself a will'o'the'wisp in yesterday's post but here I am back to stitching the sampler.  It's not really a contradiction though, since being a will'o'the'wisp essentially means being inconsistent, flitting about whichever way the winds blow.  And what could be more inconsistent or flittery than preparing a rotation of four or five projects and then reverting to THE BAP.

I wholeheartedly recommend this sampler to any stitcher who subscribes to Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly.  It appears in the 2012 Spring, Summer and Fall issues.

I am currently working on the navy blue [DMC 311] cross stitching and after that I'll have to do some more stitching in the olive green [DMC 3011].  I figure this will take the better part of the weekend.  Happily this weekend is a long one due to Martin Luther King Day.  I'll be losing the better part of Saturday to 8th grade Confirmation interviews in the morning and to Teen RCIA in the evening after Mass.  Some weeks I think I live on the parish campus.  I also have to fit some wardrobe shopping into my weekend this week.  I am in desperate need of winter slacks, a few sweaters and a blazer or two.  I figure everything will be on sale but completely picked over OR all put away, with only next season's clothes on display.  And then there is my 32 year old winter coat.  I think it is time to replace it.  I am not sure how much time I will have for stitching on Saturday but Sunday and Monday look pretty clear.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Feeding My Inner Will'O'the'Wisp

I have decided to take a short break from The English Band Sampler ... but don't worry, it'll be back in the rotation over the weekend.

I spent a good part of the morning prepping a few new projects: Piper's stocking, Milady's Tea Shoppe, and a few small neutral linen cuts for some heart ornaments.  I wasn't sure how much variety I would be wanting over the next few days, so I just went ahead and prepped all the remaining projects on my January goals list.  I have even pulled out the Mystic Smalls and put it in the stitching bag. Though truth be told, the first thing I am going to have to do on the scissor case is frog and then re-stitch.  At any rate, I'll have all the projects on the January goals list ready to hand in my stitching bag.  No matter what my mood, no matter where I go, I will be prepared to stitch ... something.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Interminable Cross Stitch Outline Marathon

And the Interminable Cross Stitch Outline Marathon continues.  It just goes on and on and on.  I  am beginning to wonder how it all fits into this confined space.  There is still so much left to do: I am still working on the dark coral.  It seems every time I look at the chart, I see yet another spot that calls for DMC 350.  And then I have to stitch the navy blue and some more olive green.  I had some hope of completing both Band 6 and 7 this month.  I no longer cherish any such naive hope.  Indeed, I begin to think I shall be lucky to complete Band 6 by the end of the month.  It is beautiful, it is a joy to stitch, but, oh, is it ever so dense!  So, my hopes of a first finish for the year in the first month of the year are dimming rapidly.

On a happier note:  I just got an e-mail stating that my sewing machine is ready to be picked up from the repair shop.  My husband will pick it up today between his stint as a volunteer archivist at the county historical society and the meeting of the local Civil War Round Table.  This means, tomorrow morning,  I can zig-zag the edges of the linen for the rest of my monthly goal projects.  So, followers of my blog may be seeing a bit of variety over the next few days.  Maybe a start on Piper's Christmas stocking and a start on Milady's Tea Shoppe from the Town Square SAL.  And, if I am really feeling wild and crazy, perhaps a sewing finish or two over the weekend.  I am beginning to feel the urge to implement rotation stitching again.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Almost Ready to Satin Stitch ... Not!

I have been working steadily on the cross stitching involved in this band.  It is very deceptive.  When you look at the model photo, what catches the eye is all the satin stitching.  But there is an enormous amount of cross stitching that needs to be done first to frame the satin stitched areas.  This phase of the band is both enjoyable and interminable.  An odd combination.  I usually have severe episodes of stitcher's Attention Deficit Disorder whenever any aspect of a project drags on for more than a week.  I started Band 6 on January 1st and here I am still cross stitching the outlines two weeks later.  And I am pleased with it. I know I am still at the stage where I am using only three colors and some of my readers may not find the progress all that exciting or worthy of another photo.    I promise I'll be adding more color soon, just have a little patience.  As I said in a previous post, I believe this band will be even more stunning than Band 5.  The whole band reminds me of a rich Persian carpet.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Band 6 Continues

When last seen,  Band 6 was still a bit sketchy.  Half of the leaves and branches needed stitching in DMC 3011

Currently the broad outline is complete, but the interior spaces need to be filled in.  I am currently working on the dark coral flower outlines.  There is still quite a bit of cross-stitching left to do in the main colors of 3011, 311 and 349.

Have I mentioned that this is a very densely stitched band?  When complete, I think this band will be even more stunning than Band 5.  Of course, the meticulous counting that keeps this band symmetrical can be a wee bit fussy.  I have had to frog out two mistakes in the lower left where the branch and leaves were slightly off kilter and another little area by the top right navy blue block where one cross stitch over three threads messed things up a bit.  Usually frogging irks me terribly but it doesn't seem to bother me with this project.  I guess I am just taking such pleasure in seeing the patterns grow beneath my fingertips that it overrides the irritation of taking three steps forward and one step back every so often.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Band 6: Outlining the motifs

I have been working on the cross stitch outlining of the spaces to be filled with satin stitches and other specialty stitches and have made fairly decent progress.  The outlining is limited to DMC 3011 [olive green], 311 [navy], and 350 [dark coral] but once I do the satin stitching and the Algerian eye stitches, there will be a lot more color.  This is proving to be a very interesting band.  It is my hope to complete this band and and Band 7 this month.  I am not sure how rational an expectation that might be.  But with just one third of the month gone, I am hopeful.  It would be very nice to end January with a finish.

I was slowed down a bit by the necessary frogging I mentioned in my last post.  Such a stupid mistake in the placement of two of the navy blue blocks, throwing off the spacing for the surrounding Algerian eye stitches!  I am looking forward to seeing this tapestry like band grow and evolve.  In some ways it reminds me of a Persian rug.

And, shifting gears a bit, I thought I'd show you a photo of my Anniversary/Valentine's Day Tree.  I put thess heart ornaments up as soon as I take down my Christmas ornaments.  Bill and I are celebrating our  forty-third anniversary today.  I leave the ornaments up till February 14th.  Clearly, I need a few more heart ornaments.  The tree is looking rather bare especially when compared to the Christmas display.  I have some Spring ornaments that I put up after that but one of these days I am going to stitch a whole series of Celtic ornaments to put up for St. Patrick's Day.  I also want to stitch a bunch of Easter Egg ornaments as well.  Ultimately, the goal is to keep the tree up year round with a constantly changing display of seasonal ornaments.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Recess Is Over

And the forces of inertia are in full play: a body at rest tends to remain at rest, etc.  I really didn't want to return to work on Monday after a two week hiatus.  At 63, I am close enough to retirement to feel the strong pull toward laying down my burden and resting.  I haven't quite reached the burn-out point but I am less patient.  I have never been one to suffer fools lightly but I have always been able to internalize my reaction and conceal it quite nicely, thank you!  But not so much anymore.  It takes a little more effort to put on my happy face and behave in a politic manner.  If only I were able to afford to pay for health insurance for the full year before I qualify for Medicare in September 2015, I'd probably seriously consider retiring at the end of this school year.  But I guess I will just wait until June 2016 when full SS benefits kick in as well.

The upside of this is that, according to the laws of inertia, a body in motion tends to remain in motion.  So once I am back into my routines, I will recover the enthusiasm I have for my work.  There are many challenges and satisfactions ahead of me once I shake off the sloth that is making these first few days back feel like slogging through three foot snow drifts without the benefit of snow shoes.

But on to something a little more cheerful: here's a photo of my progress on The English Band Sampler.  I have managed to do a bit more of the cross stitch outlines.  I want to finish all the cross stitches before starting on any of the satin stitches.  There was a time when I didn't enjoy satin stitching, but I find it very relaxing nowadays.  I am looking forward to seeing this band come together.  Unfortunately, there is some frogging in my future: two of the dark blue block motifs will have to be frogged and moved to the right by two linen threads and a bit of the dark olive green cross stitch will have to be frogged back to a knot on the back.  Imagine me gnashing teeth and muttering imprecations.  Since there is still snow and ice in the backyard, the above photo is an indoor photo and the best I can manage using my stitching lamp.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reaching out for Riddles

I have a seven year old grandson who, like many boys his age, loves jokes; particularly those that depend on word play or puns.  I have begun supplying him with fresh material for his stand-up routine as an act of mercy to my daughter-in-law and son [and anyone else who has to listen to gs1's jokes over and over and over and over again].  My daughter-in-law has pointed out that it is difficult to find jokes that are age appropriate and that, being innocent, don't rely on references that only someone alive in 1950 would understand.  The whole concept of clean jokes that rely on wordplay  that a 7 year old can comprehend is clearly not a modern trend in humor.  I am going to have to check out the local library and see if they have back copies of Boy's Life on file.  I seem to remember that there was a joke column in that magazine.

I have sent him the following:
Why does Santa have a garden in his backyard?  Because he likes to HO, HO, HO.
What two keys do not unlock doors?  A donKEY and a monKEY.
What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?  Frostbite.

I am looking for similar riddles and jokes.  Anyone able to help?  Just leave your riddle or joke in the comments.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014's First Start: Band 6

Technically, this is not really a new start since it is the second to last band in an existing sampler WIP.  But each band in this sampler feels so different from the one before that starting a new band tracks as a new start.

Jan. 4:  I had to shift my focus a bit on Band 6, from the dark olive green broad outline stitching to the lesser outline stitching in a variety of colors.  I ran out of DMC 3011 and will have to wait until I can run out and buy another skein.  But with the mercury hovering between 1 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit, I am not up to braving the great outdoors.  Meanwhile,. there is just one more stash hidey hole to check: the box where I keep the floss for the rest of the Cluny tapestry charts.

Jan. 5:  I had no luck finding DMC 3011 in existing stash, so I continued working on some of what I am calling the smaller interior cross stitch outlines.  On Monday, my husband has an errand to run at the other end of the county which will place him roughly at the mid-point between Michael's and A.C. Moore.  He's offered to pick up the floss if I give him a list of any numbers I need.  Dear man, he really hates shopping for floss. He claims that no matter what colors I need, they are always on the bottom shelf, just an inch above floor level.  Given his rheumatism and consequent flexibility issues, an offer to go floss shopping is proof of extraordinary devotion.

The photo at the head of this post shows my progress.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

And Still More Sampling

I finished Band 5 on December 31.  Moving on, I started the cross-stitched outline of the pattern in the next band in DMC 3011, dark olive green. Band 6 is a very deep and densely stitched band featuring a cross-stitched outline filled in with satin stitches and specialty stitches.  I find this so much more relaxing than the fussy Band 5 with all its quarter and three quarter stitches and intricate back stitching.  I am going to make the most of this band while it lasts because the next one is very similar to Band 5: two side by side panels of the same motifs flipped upside down in a sort of reverse mirror image.

Anywat, I need to do a bit more stitching on Band 6 in order to produce an interesting photo.  Maybe in a day or two, I'll have something worth showing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Assessing December Goals, Setting January Goals

DECEMBER GOALS: This past month, in a final push to get a few more finishes done in the calendar year 2013, I worked on pieces that are close to completion.
BAPs: Piper's Stocking.  Although this is nowhere close to completion, having only been started in the last few days, I do want to work on it steadily.  It is my hope to have this stocking done in time for Christmas 2014 and to be well on my way to completing Rocco's stocking as well.  Wouldn't it be grand to have Rocco's stocking done by Christmas 2014, too!  Well, due to issues with my sewing machine and a consequent inability to zig-zag the edges of the fabric, I didn't start this piece yet.
Class Project: The Mystic Stitching Accessories.  The goal is to have all these projects not only stitched but sewn and assembled this month.   Not a bit of progress, sad to say.
Town Square SAL: Stitch Milady's Tea Shoppe.  Well, due to issues with my sewing machine and a consequent inability to zig-zag the edges of the fabric, I didn't start this piece yet.
WIP's: Continue work on The English Band Sampler.  This was my serious and exclusive focus during the month.  I finished Band 5 and started Band 6.  There is still Band 7 to consider.

JANUARY GOALS: This month, indeed, this whole year, I intend to carry on much as I did in 2013: catching up on old class projects and on WIPs with brief excursions into smalls and ornaments when I need the gratification of an actual finish.  If I manage to meet all the goals below, I'll try to meet one of my annual goals as well and stitch a few more heart ornaments for my Anniversary and Valentine's Day tree.
BAPs:  Start on Piper's Stocking.
Class Project: Finally finish up the Mystic Smalls.
Town Square SAL: Stitch Milady's Tea Shoppe.
WIP's: Finish The English Band Sampler.  Next one up will be Zucca, which was the only project left from the 2012 Crazy Challenge.  It was started and then abandoned because I had made a positively dreadful choice with the linen.  Everything looked okay at the floss toss stage but once the stitching started the lovely over dyed green linen morphed into an ugly jungle camouflage cloth.  Something in the orange floss brought out the worst in the fabric.  I believe this design will look much better on an ivory or a raw linen and I will be starting it over on just such a fabric.  The fabric I had originally chosen was a 40 ct linen and my stash of neutral colored linens come in 28 ct, 32 ct and 36 ct.  Consequently, the finished piece will be somewhat larger than I had planned.  But better a somewhat larger finish than desired than a hideous juxtaposition of floss and fabric.