Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Assessing July Goals, Setting August Goals

JULY GOALS: I worked until July 24 and then began my summer recess which will last till August 25.   Most of the recess will be a stay-cation, with plenty of time for DIY projects and stitching and gardening.   With most of the last week in July graced with extra stitching time, I did manage to meet most of my goals.  Only the sewing and finishing fell short.

 Current BAP:  I am going to ignore this category again this month ... at least until I get through with the band sampler.  Ignoring away.   Hard to fail to meet this goal.
UFO/Class Project:  Continue work on The English Band Sampler.   Finished Band 6 and started Band 7.
Town Square SAL:  Finish Cafe du Monde.   Stitch the The Silversmith.  Started 7/26 and finished 7/30.
New Start:   Start Dragon Dreams' Dragon of the Winter Moon.   Started 7/7.  I am well on my way to a finish.  This has been one of those addictive stitches: the sort that you don't want to put down to do mundane things like eat or sleep.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get three or four projects completed.  One ornament sewn up and one tote half done.

AUGUST GOALS: Even though I am on summer recess and have more leisure time, I want to keep my goals list modest to allow more time for enjoying the outdoors and for working on the house and garden.
Current BAP:  Ease back into stitching Piper's stocking.
UFO/Class Project:  Finish work on The English Band Sampler
Town Square SAL:  Stitch The Sweet Shop.
New Start:   Continue work on Dragon Dreams' Dragon of the Winter Moon.  If possible, start work on The Dragon of the Summer Sky.
Sewing Finishes: Try to get another three or four projects completed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Progress on July Goals

As the month winds down to a close, I am moving along on all of my July goals.  Here are a few progress photos to document that claim:

Dragon Dreams' The Dragon of the Winter Moon.  She now has firm ground on which to stand.  I have finished the mountain ranges, all but the beading.  And I have finished work on the castle in the background.   Though the chart does not call for back-stitching the castle, I am considering doing so.  Switching the fabric from the charted Zweigart Colonial Blue to Silkweaver's Sudden Storm has lessened the contrast values somewhat.  I think some back-stitching is needed to restore the balance.  Opinions, anyone?  Otherwise, since I make it a practice to back-stitch as I go along, I am caught up with the back-stitching of the dragon's body.  Just the wings with backstitching, the moon and the beading to go.  I am debating whether I want to stitch the moon in the Kreinik Vatican Gold Very Fine Braid [106] as charted.  It just doesn't seem right.  I am considering doing the moon in Kreinik Opalescent White Very Fine Braid [032] or in the Marlitt white [800].  The moon I see in the night sky is white not gold!

SANQ's The English Band Sampler  The first two motifs of Band 7 are complete, as well as the garland that ties together several more motifs.  For now, this sampler will be part of a three project rotation.  But as of August 1, I intend to make it my main focus until it is finally done.  I began working on this sampler in August of 2012 and intend to have it finished in August 2014.  I can't remember when it has taken me so long to complete a single piece, not counting class projects.  For some reason, I seem to lose interest in class projects almost as soon as I get home and unpack from a retreat.  I don't know whether it is because I am incredibly fickle or because I just have so many other projects going at home that require my attention.  Go figure!

Indy 2006 Town Square Series' The Silversmith Shop.  I made a start on this on 7/26 and it is moving much more quickly than Cafe du Monde.  Happily, there is not a confetti stitch in sight.  For the most part, this piece is stitched in blocks of color, with all the shading accomplished by using over dyed floss.

Sewing and Assembly Finishes.  I plan on spending a few hours at the sewing machine after breakfast.  I have a dozen or so ornaments, a throw pillow and two small pin pillows in my finishing pile.  It remains to be seen how many of these projects I manage to get to today.  I will post photos at the end of the day.

I had a tidy little harvest this morning: three cucumbers, 5 baby eggplant and a good sized sprig of miniature basil.  I'll be using the eggplant and basil at lunch, sauteed with onions, peppers and pignoli nuts, moistened with a bit of chicken stock and half & half and served over farfale [bow tie pasta].  The cucumbers will be thinly sliced with onion and dressed with a light vinaigrette as a salad to accompany lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday's Tasks and Wednesday's Work

Since I am wrapping things up at work before summer break, I ended up working through my lunch hour and may end up doing so again today.  That means a little less stitching time.  So I don't have much progress to show.

The only piece I actually did get time to work on yesterday was The Dragon of the Winter Moon.  I did finish up the blade at the end of the tail and filled in a bit more of the icy mountain range below the dragon.  I know it is hard to see but there has been progress.  That's one of the reasons I backstitch as I go along.  It helps me to "find my place" as we used to say in grade school. I've decided this dragon's name is Luna.  I had first thought it might be Selena but I realized soon enough that Selena wasn't a strong enough name for this matriarch who curls so protectively and alertly in her mountain stronghold.

We are expecting some rain later in the day.  I am hoping it holds off till evening since I'd like to finish the first motif on The English Band Sampler after work.  The soft light of 5:30 to 7:00 pm is perfect for stitching on the patio.

But if that doesn't work out, there is always The Silversmith's Shop or some sewing and assembly projects to work on indoors.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Miscellany

No photos today: the camera is recharging.


I have made some progress on The Dragon of the Winter Moon: the shading on the tail and back haunches is done and a start on the blade of the tail.  I hope to finish the tail and finish work on the mountain range done in Kreinik very fine braid today.

Because the end of the month is approaching and I want to make a serious attempt at meeting all the stated July goals, I finally kitted up The Silversmith Shop from the Town Square series.  I plan to get to stitching on it sometime toward the end of this week.


I have harvested two more cucumbers and am very impatiently tracking the growth of 7 eggplants, the largest of which is only 4" long and the smallest, less than 1".  Still nothing but blossoms on the tomato plants.  I begin to wonder if the neighbors trees are blocking the sun to the extent I will no longer be able to raise vegetables even in my raised [3 1/2'] planter boxes.  The soil gets warm enough but I am probably not getting enough full sun.  I may have to start planting the vegetables in the front yard planter box but then I will have to worry about pilferage.


Just three more days till summer break!  The count down begins.  End of the school year tasks are very nearly done.  Life is good.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

RAKs. The English Band Sampler and The Dragon of the Winter Moon

First I want to thank Linda from Albany, NY and Dani from Canada for sending me Marlitt floss.  I am able to complete The Dragon of the Winter Moon thanks to you ladies.

I especially want to acknowledge Dani's totally unexpected gift of a small cut of fabric which will make the perfect backing for my Here Be Dragons pin pillow and a fabulous scissor fob complete with small dragon, all enclosed in a beautiful mermaid card that accompanied the Marlitt floss.

The series of thunderstorms that plagued us for a week has finally passed on.  The patio was dry and comfortable Thursday morning and I should have gotten a bit of stitching done before I had to leave for work at 8:45am.  It's great living less than a ten minute drive from the office.  But, I had a wakeful night and ended up sleeping in till it was time to dress for work.  But the weather continued to be fine on Friday and Saturday.  So, I did get plenty of stitching time in optimum light on my patio.  What could be better than stitching in a comfortable chair, with a flask of iced peach infused ice tea, and entertained by birdsong.

The eyelets are done, done, done!!! I am so happy, I could sing and dance and sing some more.   I even managed to stitch the chain border between Bands 6 and 7 on Friday.  Band 7 is another densely stitched and intricately designed band.  It looks like loads of fun.  I expect the enjoyment quotient of this piece is about to sky rocket.  I did manage to get a start on the first motif on Saturday evening though I spent most of Saturday on my latest dragon.    The first motif was offset by one thread.  I know this was done to balance the design but it just seems so wrong, violating all the rules.  I will divide my Sunday stitching between sampler and dragon.

And, now for the dragon: Thanks to the lovely ladies mentioned at the top of this post, I had the Marlitt to stitch a good bit of the dragon's body.  There is still the shading of the tail to fill in and both wings to stitch as well as the blade at the end of the tail.  And, of course I need to finish up the mountain range beneath the dragon and the castle in the background as well as the moon.  Then there is the back stitching and the beading.  I guess I am just a little bit more than halfway done with this piece.   I plan to stitch the shading of the tail as well as the blade at its tip on Sunday and then spend the remainder of the time on the sampler.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dragon Of The Winter Moon

Thanks to Linda from Albany area, I have some Marlitt and have started to fill in the main body of the dragon.  Luckily, two other cyber stitching friends have offered me skeins of Marlitt.  I believe I am going to need it all.  The skeins aren't very long and Marlitt only has four strands.  I anticipate needing at least a skein and a half more then the full skein Linda sent and the nearly full skein I had had on hand.

Since last seen, I have, as noted above, started filling in the body and I have stitched a bit more of the Kreinik icy mountain range.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Very Mixed Bag

Thursday, I took a sick day because I either had the flu or heatstroke.  The symptoms were stomach and intestinal distress, light headedness, headache and nausea.  So I pampered myself indoors with a/c, lots of decaffeinated beverages and ibuprofen.   Didn't feel up to driving to work or concentrating on things like registrations and writing family catechesis programs once I got there.  So I stayed home and I  did only the simplest of activities, which included reading Catherine Coulter's new FBI thriller, Power Play, and making some light meals.  I wasn't feeling much better on Friday and repeated the pampering routine.

A highlight of Friday afternoon was the arrival of my package from 123 stitch.  It contained an additional portable stitching lamp, some clip on magnifiers [1.5x and 3.0x] and the threads I need to kit up The Dragon of the Summer Sky and The Silversmith's Shop as well as one Caron Waterlily, Blue Lavendar, that I need for The Dragon of the Winter Moon.  I still need to order the charm for The Silversmith's Shop but I'll be ordering that from a not so local needlework shop here in NY state.

I was feeling a bit better by Saturday and did get some stitching done..

I got quite a bit done on The Dragon of the Winter Moon on Sunday.  I learned something new from a blogging friend, D.B., who stitched some models for Jennifer Aiken-Smith of Dragon Dreams.  All of the Dragon Dreams dragons are female.  Just an interesting factoid I am passing on to you readers.  I have to apologize to all the dragons I have stitched in the past and to whom I have referred as male.  Yesterday, I received a skein of Marlitt white from Linda, so I will begin filling in the body of the dragon.  Linda was one of three lovely stitching cyber friends who offered to give me a skein.  Two other lovely ladies did a search for sources in Britain and Australia.  The stitching community is a very generous one.  There is always help to be found when needed.

And Monday morning, it was dry enough for me to get in an hour of stitching on the patio before heading to work.  I used the time to work on The English Band Sampler.  I worked on Band 6 and finished up the sixth block of eyelets and satin stitches and then continued on to stitch the satin stitches on the remaining two blocks.  Now all I have to do is stitch the eyelets on those last two blocks.  We are expecting thunderstorms through Wednesday but I am hoping for another dry morning or two.  Even with clip-on magnifiers, I need good strong daylight to work on this phase of Band 6.

 As to gardening: my patio pots of chives, thyme, rosemary and basil are doing pretty well.  I have already harvested my first cucumber and there are three more ready to harvest within the day or so.  Some of the eggplant blossoms have set fruit, and the tomato plants have a fair amount of blossoms but haven't set fruit just yet.  The pepper plants are not doing much of anything, which is a disappointment.  One of my flower boxes is coming along nicely but for some reason all but one of my marigolds up and died on me.  I will probably plant some peas for an early fall harvest on Thursday once the thunderstorms pass through and maybe a row or two of radishes, lettuce and carrots.  I'd like to keep the salad stuff coming.

Here is a shot of some tomato plants guarded my my garden dragon you can also see the lone surviving marigold and a pot of small lavender flowers, whose name I forget at the moment.  I picked them up at the nursery just because I thought they were pretty.  I am afraid I am not one of those expert gardeners who remembers all the botanical nomenclature and can reel off name after name with the greatest of ease.
 I am going to have to call in the landscapers again very soon.  The trees above the retaining wall are blocking the sun.  It's been three years now since I had them come in and cut away some of the lower branches.  It would seem it is time to do so again.

In this shot you can just make out a very tiny eggplant to the left and to the right, my miniature basil is thriving.

In this shot, you can see that my patio pots of chives, thyme, and parsley are doing pretty well.    To the right of the herbs are my mini-Christmas tree which has grown from one of those 12" potted trees tp it's present 2 1/2 feet and one of my tomato plants, a new variety to me, with a very un-tomato like leaf.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cross Stitch takes to the Streets

Follow the link below to see some rather interesting if somewhat simplistic cross stitch street art.

I am not sure what I think about this.  It is amusing but it hardly does the craft justice.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Progress Photo

Dragon Dreams' Dragon of The Winter Moon.  I substituted an over dyed Silkweaver 28 ct linen in the colorway Storm for the suggested 28ct Zweigart Colonial Blue.  This over dyed linen has a medium to light grey base with mottling in darker grey and grey blue.  To my way of thinking this is perfect for an early evening winter sky.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post I had very nearly every fiber and bead needed to kit this up already in stash.  I am just waiting on one Caron Waterlilies and one package of Mill Hill beads to complete the kit.   I might also need some additional white Anchor Marlitt rayon floss which, of course, is a discontinued line.  I am never very good at guesstimating when partial skeins are involved.  So, yesterday morning, I sent out the word via blog and message board that I'd appreciate another skein, if anyone can spare one.  So far three generous stitcher's have replied.  But if I can't get a good match, I already have an alternate solution in mind.  I'll use the Marlitt for the body of the dragon but I will use DMC Satin white for the wings.  That way any differences will look intentional and not the result of my being scatterbrained.  In any case, I have started the piece with the supplies on hand and this is my current progress.

When this dragon is done, he will be quite the glittering fellow.  There are five shades of Kreinik in this piece and two shades of glass seed beads.  Happily, I have no problem working with metallics and I love beading.  I am delighted with the way things look even at this early stage.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

S.O.S.: Save our Stitchery

Oh, all right, what I really want to do is save MY stitchery but S.M.S. just doesn't have the same cachet.

I misjudged just how much Anchor Marlitt White I had in my stash and I will probably run out of the blasted stuff before finishing a Dragon Dreams project I've started.  This particular fiber is discontinued and can't be bought.

But I am hoping another stitcher reading this blog might have a skein or even a partial skein of white marlitt.

I am prepared to swap a full skein of a somewhat more exotic fiber, either Caron Waterlilies, Wildflower or Watercolours.  Your choice of silk, cotton or silk/wool blend; my choice of color.  Though, if the donor of the Marlitt states a color preference, I will try to honor it.

Leave a comment, if you can help or e-mail me.  Go to my profile to get my e-mail address.  Thanks in advance.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Random Mutterings

Very little doing on the stitching front today:

Before work, I started Dragon Dreams' Dragon of the Winter Moon.  Once at work, I used the copier to enlarge the chart.  It is difficult to read since it is printed on the grey-green card stock Jennifer Aiken-Smith had used for a while as a deterrent to copyright violation.  I also plan to spend a little time working on the piece at lunchtime.

I will place an order with 123stitch, my go-to online needlework shop, for the remaining supplies for The Silversmith Shop and The Dragon of the Winter Moon.  To get a bit of a head start, I also ordered the supplies for the companion piece to The Dragon of the Winter Moon,  The Dragon of the Summer Sky, which will be my next new start.

I double checked my Belle Soie and Glorianna stash to see if I could find a suitable substitute for the Thread Gatherer Papyrus Leaf needed for The Silversnith Shop.  No such luck.  It's a shame that I couldn't find something in quite that shade of peacock blue, especially when you consider how very extensive my fiber stash really is!

I hope to get a little more outdoor stitching done this evening after work in the soft light of evening.  The English Band Sampler is calling for attention rather insistently.  I hope it is not unbearably humid in the early evening hours.

With luck, I'll have made enough progress on both The English Band Sampler and The Dragon of the Winter Moon to warrant some photos in the next day or so.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And Now Back to the Band Sampler

I finally finished the Town Square Cafe du Monde, which was my Town Square ornament of the month for June.  It took one entire hour to stitch the 35 confetti stitches that completed the bottom of the porch under the awning.  This was complicated by the fact that at least half of those confetti stitches were French knots rather than cross stitches.  I am still not certain whether all that confetti is supposed to represent flower boxes with French knot flowers or people seated at outdoor tables with French knot heads.  Anyway after the confetti, I spent another hour finishing up the backstitching.

Then I put away all the floss for this project and kitted up The Silversmith Shop which is my Town Square ornament of the month for July.  All I will have to purchase is a Thread Gatherer Silk'n'Colors skein and a charm for this piece. While I was at it, I kitted up Dragon Dreams Dragon of the Winter Moon which is my New Start for July.  I was pleased to discover that I had all five of the Kreinik Very Fine Braid, one of the Caron Waterlilies skeins, one pck.of the Mill Hill beads and a partial skein of Anchor Marlitte white which will substitute nicely for the DMC Rayon White this chart called for in my stash.  But I will have to purchase one Caron Waterlilies skein and 1 package of Mill Hill seed beads.  I will place the order tomorrow.

The weather is perfect for patio stitching.  For the rest of the day I'll get back to The English Band Sampler.  The plan is to complete the last 45 eyelets and the remaining satin stitches to finish up Band 6.  You may well believe I will  be pleased to finish these finicky and fussy stitches.  Normally, I enjoy all specialty stitches [with the one exception of the bullion stitch which I have yet to attempt] but having to constantly slip my needle under existing cross stitches was a major pain in the rump, complicated further by the closeness of the pale fawn floss to the color of the antique ivory linen.  I hope to have some fabulous progress photos in a day or two.

It will be such a pleasure to move on to the final band of this sampler.  I feel as though the end is in sight.  I know, I know: I still have to go back to Band 3 and decide whether to stitch my name or my initials, the year or a full date, or something else entirely.  But starting the last band does signal impending closure.  This is another closely stitched band so it is questionable whether I shall finish the sampler this month or next but at least a finish in the next little while is a reasonable expectation.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July

Glory Bee's Fourth of July


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Errors Of My Ways

It's never a good idea to send a non-stitcher on an emergency run for some much needed floss.  But it was such a temptation to ask my husband to do so yesterday since he was within striking distance of both AC Moore and Michael's while working at the historical society.  Predictably, he came home with DMC 3022 instead of 3023, since non-stitchers never check the label on the floss, just the label on the tray ... and with #5 perle 712 instead of normal cotton floss, even though he could see it was not the same stuff, but, hey, it was in the 712 tray.

So, I decided I didn't care that the roof was supposed to be three shades of grey and filled in the empty spaces with 3022 instead of the charted 3023.  And, then, because I didn't have the patience for confetti stitching, I did some back-stitching instead.  There's still another hour or twos worth of stitching on this ornament but the end is in sight.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reduced To A Snail's Pace

This is slow going because of the many color changes in the subtle shading of walls, roof and windows.  There are at least 6 different whites in the columns supporting the porch roof/awning and fifteen shades of grey and cream and blue and brown in the windows and walls.  I had been taking approximately 20-25 stitches in one color and then it was on to another color.  But I have now reached the point where it is only 2 or 3 stitches in a color before changing.  And the careful counting involved to make sure each dot of color is placed in the right place slows things down as well.  It is now confetti stitching and that's way too much work for an ornament!  But I am committed, at this point, and must finish it.

I finally did myself a favor and used the photocopier in my office to increase the chart to 125%.  I could barely read the symbols on the original.  I did the same thing for the symbols grid.  It is speeding things along somewhat, now that I no longer have to put down my stitching and bring the chart under the magnifier light to see what I should be stitching.  I am missing one shade of DMC for the roof, 3023, which my husband will be picking up today after working at the Historical Society.  I have always prided myself on having a complete set of DMC since it is such a staple for the serious stitcher.  It's not like I have an empty bobbin for that number; I have NO bobbin with that number.  How could I have missed it when setting up my DMC boxes?  Imagine me kicking myself around the block!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mid-Year Assessment of Annual Goals

Every year at this time I take a look at what I had planned to accomplish over the course of the year and see how far along I am.

2014 Stitching Goals
  • 01. My Own Crazy Challenge: work on unfinished class pieces from 2005-date.   No progress since I have decided to revive my joy in my stitching by just choosing only one UFO or one CC piece to add to the rotation and choose new pieces for the rest.
  • 02. Complete two BAPs:  Finish The Woodland Maiden Stocking for Piper and start on a similar stocking for Rocco.  I have been concentrating on The English Band Sampler at the moment [see above] so except for a few hours in January, Piper's stocking has been ignored and Rocco's not even thought of.
  • 03. Continue to work on paring down the list of UFO/WIPs going into 2014.  Well, I have been working on The English Band Sampler.
  • 04. Stitch a few more Heart ornaments for the Anniversary-Valentine's Day tree.  This has been on the goals list for three years already.  Maybe this will be the year I actually manage it.  I stitched two more hearts earlier this year.
  • 05. Stitch one ornament a month from the 2006 Indy Town Square SAL.  I have stitched an ornament a month for Januaty-May, am nearly done with the June ornament and have the July kitted up and ready to go.
  • 06. Limit stash purchases to fabric, fiber and tools needed to complete charts on hand.  So far so good.  I have pre-paid for my annual birthday treat, the  Stitcher's Hideaway in Mystic, in October.  And I have placed a pre-order for all the materials needed for the SANQ doll.
  • 07. Continue to blog regularly, aiming for every other day.  I am averaging 15 posts a month.
  • 08. Make an effort to catch up on sewing and framing finishes.  Have two or three pieces professionally framed.  No progress.
  • 09. Inventory and declutter existing stash.  No progress.
  • 10. Change EGA membership to cyber-stitcher.  No progress.

So,  five out of ten goals mey at the mid point of the year.  Not as good as the numbers would suggest since the goals met all need to continue to be met.  And the goals unmet are single tasks rather than continuing ones.