Monday, March 24, 2014

Let's Try That Again

I thought I was going to be able to ease back into my routines last week but, alas, it was not in the cards.  Relapses are funny things, they hit you hardest when least expected.  But after a second week of pampering myself by taking two more sick days, eating soft foods, consuming what seemed like gallons of cough meds, a truckload of cough drops and a tanker full of chicken broth; I am feeling a bit more like myself.  Not quite all the way back, still hacking incessantly, but more like myself nonetheless.

So, easing back into my stitching routines: I find I wanted a completely fresh start to celebrate the return to a semblance of health. To that end, I pulled Pineberry Lane's Autumn on Marigold Lane out of the To-Do Binder that resides in my Current Stitching Bag.  As most of my readers know, I am stitching from stash at the present so I made a number of substitutions.  First, the linen: the chart calls for 30ct R & R Reproductions Broomstick Brown linen, for which I substituted a 40ct. mystery linen in a very similar light brown.  Obviously my end product will be smaller than the 8"w x 7.5"h stitched model.  That's okay though since I prefer to make my 6"w x 5.25"h sampler into the center of a tote.  Second, the fibers:  I had three of the recommended GAST flosses in stash: Tarnished Gold, Gold Leaf and Onyx.  But for Wood Trail, I substituted a Ltd. Ed. Brown that was just a shade lighter; for Endive, I substituted Chives; and for Wheat Fields, I substituted Harvest Basket.  As is often the case with over dyed dye lots, I had two cards of Harvest Basket, one card substantially darker than the other.  I chose to use the lighter card since it more closely approximated the DMC equivalent cited for Wheat Fields.  It's amazing just how much variation there is in over dyed skeins with the same name and, presumably, the same formula.  

That left Autumn Leaves for which I don't have a proximate match in either my GAST or WDW stash.  I do have an Autumn Leaves in Gloriana silk that would work nicely so far as color is concerned.  While I am not one of those folks who thinks mixing fibers is a taboo, I am still thinking about this.  The whole piece is very plain in the Quaker sense of the word, not the least bit showy, very simple.  The silk could spoil the entire mood of the sampler.  I may just have to break down and order a card of GAST Autumn Leaves.  Pineberry Lane's style is very similar to Primitive Needle's, which is the main reason I like it so much.  I don't ordinarily think "silk" when choosing floss for Primitive Needle pieces and I think the same rule will apply for Pineberry Lane projects.

There will be pictures in the next few days ... as soon as I get past the boring, non-spectacular bits: the monochrome alphabet and side divider.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Down For the Count

No stitching this weekend: just spasms of rib wracking coughs, post nasal issues and headaches.  I seem to be headed toward laryngitis as well ... not a good thing for an educator.  My vocal cords seemed to be made of the very coarsest sand paper.  I am going back to bed and will reemerge when I am well.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bipolar Weather

I saw this very apt description of this week's weather on Monica Ferris' Killer Hobbies blog and can not take credit for the clever phrasing.  It certainly does describe the bounce from mid to high 50s back down to low 20s with wind chill further reducing it to single digits.  Though bitterly cold, the sun is shining brightly.  Considering the bleak skies Sunday through Wednesday, sunshine is a welcome relief.  This winter has been crazy in so many ways.  It is seriously upsetting people's behavior.  Everyone I meet seems crankier than usual, more prone to take offense over petty things, myself included.  Nerves are raw and emotions [especially the negative ones] seem quite close to the surface.  I can't wait for Spring to put an end to cabin fever and mellow us all out.

On the stitching front:

I did a little more work on my adaptation of the Whispered in the Wind ornament.

I have begun assembling the Town Square ornaments and just have to make some cording to trim them.

I have assembled a Columbus Day ornament.  This also needs cording.

I will show photos tomorrow when everything is complete.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday Morning into Wednesday Evening

Tuesday, 10:00am:  I spent a little more time on my Whispered in the Wind Ornament.  Since I am using a small scrap of linen, I have had to make several adjustments to fit this chart on my linen.  For one thing, it will not be a full oval as charted, nor will the cardinal's head cover the upper left of the holly wreath, neither will his tail protrude from beneath the wreath.  The cardinal will be stitched over one in the center of the arch of holly wreaths.  And depending on how large the cardinal will be when stitched over one - I have yet to compute this - the bottom of the ornament will either be a branch perch or pairs of holly leaves stitched straight across the bottom.

Tuesday, 9:30pm:  I thought I'd take some time this evening to get started on assembly line ornament finishing.  I had already cut out the cardboard backings for my flat ornaments a few days ago, so this evening was spent cutting and gluing the interfacing I use to give a smooth, professional looking padding to the front and back of each ornament.  I also took the time to cut out the fabric for the backings, binding their edges with a zig zag stitch.  I hope to lace the backing fabrics into place tomorrow.  Over the years, a number of people have asked me to write a tutorial on how I finish my flat ornaments and I am using this particular finishing frenzy to take step by step photos of my process.  Now I am sure there are tutorials out there that are as good or better than my own.  I am simply responding to comments from several followers and not engaging in hubris.  Look for the tutorial some time next week.

Wednesday Morning, 8:00am:  A few backing fabrics are laced in place.  Not really photo worthy for the purposes of this post. Tonight I'll be working late, running a catechist meeting.  I doubt I'll get much done in the way of assembly and/or finishing but I will have some time Thursday morning to catch up, since I work 12:30-8:30pm on Thursdays, leaving my mornings free for equal parts housework and stitching.

I plan to spend all of Friday on finishing these ornaments and working on a few totes and pillows.  I expect to keep the sewing machine going most of the day.  I really need to get back to finishing again; my backlog is getting scary..

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Surrender

Yesterday the temps reached into the 50s and will do so again today BUT tomorrow temps will drop into the low 20s.  As if that isn't bad enough, the evening will bring snow.  There is still about six or seven inches of icy snow that hasn't melted on my raised beds in the garden.  I was hoping it would all have melted by March 17.  I always try to plant my peas on St. Patrick's Day for a May harvest.  I'll have to be clearing the snow this year to do my planting.

This is the very first year I have ever been troubled by joint pain due to cold weather.  The past four or five winters have been unusually mild.  Perhaps arthritis pain has been lurking beneath the surface all this time, it just never got cold enough to present.  I feel as though I have spent the last three months just trying to stay warm and upright.  The continuous cold has been bone deep.

So, let's make it official, Lady Winter.  I am raising the white flag. I admit defeat.  I surrender.  You win.  Please accept your victory and leave your sister, Spring, to rule in your name as you move on to conquer other lands.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mining the Stash

I spent a little time yesterday shopping my own stash and found these items.  All of these were separate purchases but they came together nicely.    It's rather like a stash in search of a chart deal.  The fabric is Picture This Plus' Belfast 32ct Aurora.  The multicolored rick rack picks up the colors in the lighter skein of Waterlilies, while the darker skein of Waterlilies takes the colorway a few tones deeper.  The solid color rickrack picks up the color in the Belle Soie silk and the fabric for a tone on tone effect.  

I am not sure which way I want to go but there is enough fabric to do both.  I do have two ideas for charts: an Easter Egg Sampler chart I have in my to-do binder or Teresa Wentzler's Futurecaster dragon chart.  Anybody else have any ideas?

If I go with the above mentioned charts, I'd probably stitch the Easter Egg tone on tone and use one of the Waterlilies skeins for the dragon, choosing two solids from that color way to complete the kitting up.  I'll have to check my bead stash to see if I have anything that works with what I have already gathered.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another Finish and Another Start

My redwork piece is finished. and I am quite pleased with it.  It will make a lovely addition to my collection of Valentine's Day ornaments.

Somehow, none of my WIPs really suited my mood today, so I ended up starting the Winter 2013 Whispered in the Wind ornament.  I am using the same scrap of Meadow Mist 32ct. linen as I did for the redwork.  I will also be using some partial skeins of floss from previous projects rather than buying the recommended Threadworx.  Still stitching from stash with some Dinky Dyes silk called Emerald, the Needlepoint Inc silk Russet Red range #208 and some Needlepoint Inc silk called Cauldron.  It warms my frugal heart to stitch a complimentary chart using fibers already in hand.  Another ornament for my own tree or for exchange and not a penny spent.

P.S. 3/8/14:  In one of the comments it was noted that I don't have much of a margin on the piece.  I don't need one since I am going to fnish it as a lightly stuffed pillow ornament.  I will just be using a 1/4 inch seam.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Little More Redwork

The piece I am working on currently is a free offering from Ajisai Press called Heart Shaped Blackwork Box.  Of course, I'll be finishing it as a flat padded ornament and I am stitching it in Needlepoint Inc. Silk Russet Red Range #208.  So it would be more appropriate to call it Redwork rather than Blackwork.  I am stitching it on a scrap of 32ct Belfast Flax linen.

I got very little stitching time in yesterday, perhaps no more than 30 minutes. I put in another few hours this morning as it is one of my late days, 1:00-9:00pm.

I still have a bit more of the stem work to do on the left side of the design before filling in three remaining  large hearts.  I anticipate another finish over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ever Such Graceful Frogs

I found this fabric on the JoAnn's Craft Store website and couldn't resist buying a yard or two.  I haven't the faintest idea as yet as to what I shall do with it.  But the very notion of graceful frogs doing yoga was irresistible.  I just had to have this.

Now, I know I am trying to limit my stash purchases to tools and supplies for finishing up the charts I have.  I also know that this fabric doesn't match any chart I have on hand so it's not as though it will come in handy as a backing fabric.  Besides which the design repeat is just too darn large.  But the fabric caught my fancy in  a way nothing has done in a very long while.  The design is on the back burner of my imagination for now.  It's only a matter of time before I come up with a project to suit it.

I expect every crafter has done this at some point or another: buying something as "inspiration" for Lord knows what future project.  I'd love to hear other peoples' stories.  If you've done something similar, leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A New Start

I am working on increasing my collection of ornaments for next year's Wedding Anniversary and Valentine's Day Tree.

To that end, I started this lacy little heart.  Today, at work, chaperoning the Confirmation Retreat will take over my day.  If I get all of my quiet bring along paperwork done while the presenter does the real work, I may be able to get a few more stitches in.  After the retreat, I'll have the Grade 1-6 Session I program to get through.  But then I'll be able to trudge home after a 7:00am-6:30pm day.  A mere 11 1/2 hour day.  And then to finish off the week with two more 8 hour days.  Joy to the world!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Catching Up With the Town Square Series Goal

I am supposed to be stitching one of these little ornaments a month and am already a month behind.

January's stitch was Milady's Tea House, started in January but finished in February.

I started The February and will finish it in March.  I am hoping to start and finish The Shoe Shrine in March as well.  Then it will simply be a matter of keeping up, one building a month.

Then in April, I'll stitch the Flower Shop and in May, the Cafe du Monde.

This is one goal I really don't want to slack on since I'd like to have my Small Town USA tree in place this Christmas.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stitching Limericks Redux

Back in March 2011 and 2012, I sponsored a stitching limerick contest.  I had intended to make it an annual event but somehow dropped the ball in 2013.  But it is time to resurrect the idea.    For educators, March is the longest month of the year, no holidays or long weekend breaks, the kids are bored to tears with school and longing for the summer, discipline problems arise, exams loom ... well, you get the idea.  So, in March, I tend to find or make up reasons to play.  So, let's all have a some fun and exercise our little grey cells as Hercule Poirot would say.  Writing a proper limerick is a disciplined exercise so to make it worthy of your effort, I am offering a $20 gift certificate to 123stitch as the prize for the winning entry.

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!

And my 2014 version:
There once was a English Band Sampler,
Stretched on a stand with a clamper.
The stitcher who owned it
Had diligently sewn it
Till she was one happy camper.

As you can see, I decided not to try and find more rhymes for Riona.   It seemed more sensible to look for another hook from which to hang my rhyme scheme.

Leave your limerick in the comments ... any entry not fitting the above definition will be disqualified ... it must be a true limerick! At the end of the month, I'll have my husband pick a winner from the comments and award that stitcher/limmericist a $20 GC to 123stitch [an online shop]. Thanks to all who participate.  I look forward to seeing all the creative entries.  Also, if clicking on your name won't lead me to a profile with your contact info, please leave an e-mail address in the comments.