Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Updating: If Alice Stitched

I know it is not the accepted thing to post twice in a day but the first post was just a giveaway  winner announcement so I thought I might get away with adding an update to yesterday's stitching announcement.  I finally got enough work done to make a photo worthwhile.

I imagine this is what it would be like to stitch in Wonderland: a mirror image turned on its head.  You'd think reading a chart and stitching what you read would be pretty straightforward.  But I seem to be correcting,  adjusting, oh hell, let's be honest, just plain screwing up the right side of Band 7 of The English Band Sampler.  My mind's eye sees it one way, not the right way, mind you, but a way nonetheless ... and I keep making mistakes that need to be frogged.  So I am continuing my two steps forward, one step backward progress.   The consequence is that I haven't made enough progress to justify a photograph.  All I have done is finish the flower I started yesterday and stitch and unstitch and restitch some of the green stems and branches connecting the remaining motifs.

Blogaversary Giveaway Winner

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the responses to the questions in my little blogaversary quiz.

And I'd like to affirm the comments made by more than a few participants: Yes, all my goal setting, tracking and assessing, as well as the statistics, are for my own benefit.  I was born a list maker I think.  Lists and statistics keep me motivated and moving forward.  Since my blog functions as a stitching journal as well as an attempt to connect with other stitchers, a certain number of posts each month will be pretty much "for me".  I shall try not to bore you with too many such posts in future.

I'll will also try to do a better job of consistently labeling my work by designer and chart name.

But back to the business at hand: the winner of the $10 123stitch gift certificate is Anna Van Shurman.  I will have 123stitch e-mail her gift certificate shortly.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Sampling

I am doggedly stitching on the band sampler in the hopes that I will make discernible progress.  I have noted recently that I seem to frog one stitch for every two taken.  I really do not know why this is happening.  I am usually a much better stitcher than I have been of late.  I expect things will return to some sort of norm eventually.

On the other hand, I have a friend who is blaming all disruptions in personal patterns on climate change.  I have taken this pseudo-scientific theory a step further: I posit that the unusually overcast, wet and cool summer following so rapidly upon a brutal winter with barely the transition of a very bizarrely fluctuating spring has disrupted my circadian rhythms.  I am blaming the population spikes in frogs and household gremlins on climate change as well. I defy one and all to prove me wrong!

Anyway, today has been spent frogging the spiral border across the top and side on the right.  I still have a bit more frogging to do, as you can see.  It is rather tedious and I can only do so much before wanting to hit something or, worse yet, someone.  Best to cease and desist while I am still in a relatively civilized state of mind.  I then finished filling in the spiral border on the left and began work on the first floral motif on the right side.  Admittedly, this isn't a great deal of progress but I am still wiped out from yesterday's Spirit Day with my 8th graders.  Spending a full day [7:00 am - 4:00 pm] with 50 8th graders can wear one down.  They have so much more energy than I do.  I believe I exhausted my reserves yesterday.  So, today has been an exercise in slow motion.  It does seem the best way to avoid any further frogging.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gremlins At Work

It's been a week of 13 hour days at work and gremlins dancing about at home, gleefully creating chaos ... hence the lack of posts.

When I last posted, I showed a blanket I was making for my expected grand-nephew.  I was diligently continuing work on this project Sunday evening.  I set it down for just a moment, very carefully, I thought.  Even so, the crochet hook slipped from the last loop I had worked.  I heard the soft splat of it hitting the plastic bag at my feet containing my yarn.  Now, you'd think a 7" long pale grey crochet hook would show up easily against a dark maroon carpet, wouldn't you?   When I couldn't find it, I emptied the yarn bag, turned it inside out.  No luck.  Then I did the same with two stitching bags beside my chair.  Still no joy.  I started moving furniture and opening closet doors in case the silly thing had rolled out of sight.  I am sure the household gremlins were dancing about, kicking it away every time I glanced in the right direction, playing a madcap game of soccer.

The result: I couldn't continue the project because I didn't have another hook in that size.  I ended up ripping back what I had done.  I'll start again when I've a chance to start with a  hook one size up or down, after which I will promptly find the lost hook, no doubt.  Still in the mood to crochet, I worked up this baby blanket for Birthright instead.  It will keep some other baby warm as my way of honoring my great nephew.  Now, I'd best get back to making his blanket.

And, since I no longer trust the night time temperatures, I harvested the remaining tomato crop.  The sad and sorry truth is that only four tomatoes ripened on the vine this year.  Not enough sunshine, not enough heat.  And, even adding these 24 partially ripened and green tomatoes to the tally, that makes only 28 tomatoes from four plants.  The lowest yield I have ever had.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bittersweet and Melancholy

I started crocheting a baby blanket for my nephew and niece-in-law who are expecting a baby.  I am not sure if this blanket will be needed for very long.  The pregnancy is a very difficult one.  Pre-natal tests indicate the probability of Downes' Syndrome which, of course, all involved can accept with love.  But there are also indicators that the baby may be born with life-threatening deformities and may not survive the birthing process or, if he does, his first year of life.  While the brain and heart are developing at a normal rate and a proper size for this stage of the pregnancy, the rest of his small body is under-developed.  This is the first baby for the couple who were married last April and the whole family is praying that the doctors and technicians have over stated the risks.  Whatever the case, every baby is entitled to be welcomed with love and with some gifts from his family.  Even if his life is hopelessly short, his presence among us needs to be recognized and celebrated ... though, perhaps validated is a better word, in this case.

I am using a very soft bamboo yarn in palest silver grey and winter white.  The eye-popping vibrancy of the colors used in the blanket I recently finished for my great niece Hazel just don't seem appropriate.  Something softer, something a bit wistful, something that underscores the gossamer nature of life itself ... that is what is needed here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Still Sampling

I am determined to complete this sampler this month.  Yes, I know I have said the very same thing every month since January but this time I really mean it.  Of course, if I end up failing to finish this month, I will "really mean it" when I say I'll finish in October.  Oh, the lies I tell myself about my ability to stretch time!  And for all you serene and placid philosophers who will gently remind me that it is all about the journey and not the destination ... well, all I can say is: I am far too flawed and obsessive and goal-oriented to subscribe to that nonsense notion.  I'd say "Bah, humbug!" or "Damn your eyes!" or some other tasty 18th/19th century Brit type imprecation in reply to the philosophers but that would be insufferably rude.  Can you tell that I've been reading [and watching] quite a bit of British fiction lately and some of the quaint phrasing is seeping into my own daily speech.  So much more amusing than the bald and overused-to-the-point-of-blandness effing this and effing that.  But I digress.  And isn't that last sentence a charmingly self-conscious mouthful?  Wordplay is such fun!

But this is a stitching blog, after all.  So back to the topic: I've been working on the spiral border.  It's been a two steps forward, one step backward sort of progress with nearly as much frogging as stitching going on.  I seem to have hit a slump when it comes to the more complex stitching that I love.  I think all the stress on the job has made me less competent so far as my stitching is concerned.  I trust this is a temporary condition and that as soon as things smooth out a bit at work, I'll be back to my old self.  Right now I am frogging the top leg of the border.  I've frogged and restitched the middle upright twice and may have to make some minor correction on the far right upright as well.Satin stitching the spirals has been a rather fussy and mistake-ridden affair.  I look forward to satin stitching the fill, once I finally get the outline done.  It's a much more relaxing and error free task.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Feelings

The air is a crisp 39 degrees these mornings though it is still warming up to the high 60s and low 70s during the day.  Indian Summer is here: those late Summer and early Fall days for which one never knows how to dress.  Should it be for the morning's chill or the afternoon's warmth?  Layering becomes the order of the day.  And being the sort of person I am, that means a trail of cotton sweaters and bolero jackets left behind.

Alas, though it is still warm enough for an afternoon of stitching on the patio, I am confined to an office and have been since August 25.  Tomorrow, we kick off the Religious Education Program with Parent Orientation and Meet the Catechist Night and repeat the process on Thursday.  It will be very good to see the children again.  So much pleasanter than dealing with the duplicitous archdiocesan bureaucrats.  This year will be bittersweet and full of last times as I will be retiring next September.  So I am determined to enjoy every moment with the children.  And, next year, I will be enjoying the Indian Summer afternoons stitching on the patio.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Town Square Finish

This is The Quilt Shop by Nancy Pfeifer from the Indy 2006 Town Square series.  I used the recommended GAST flosses with one exception, i.e.: I substitued half crosses in Belle Soie Bahama Breeze for the window oanes that were originally charted in full cross stitch using GAST Lambs Wool..

Friday, September 12, 2014

Final Fruits

While we are not expecting an evening frost for another week or so, I harvested all the vegetables that are ripe:  a whole bunch of eggplant and the only three red tomatoes to ripen on the vine all summer.  It has been an unusually cool summer and overcast at least half the time.  The tomatoes didn't even set fruit till mid-July.  There are more than a dozen or so mid-sized and very green tomatoes on the vines but I hold out very little hope that they will ripen before first frost.  I will have to use the old brown paper bag and apple trick, which rather defeats the whole purpose of growing you own tomatoes.

At least the local Farmer's Market has been a great place to fill in the gaps.  One of the booths has organic produce and each Saturday morning I buy two ears of the sweetest corn I have ever tasted.  Both my husband and I have to watch our carbs, so that one day a week indulgence is all we can afford.  I have found local peaches and plums, and the vegetables have been wonderful: potatoes, tomatoes, onions, radishes and peppers.  I have even bought a local Reisling and some jams and preserves.  The only things our local market lacks are a booth with artisan breads and rolls and a booth with flowers.  Otherwise, it is well-nigh perfect.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Town Square SAL

I took a short break from the sampler to work on another one of my monthly goals: catching up to where I should be on my Town Square project.  I missed stitching up one of these charts in August and so have two to stitch in September.  Naturally, I chose the easiest and most straightforward chart to stitch first.  The Quilt Shop by Nancy Pfeifer who, if memory serves, is one of the ladies from Blackbird Designs, is fairly simple and shouldn't take more than another day to complete.  It also had the advantage of being very easy to kit up, having less than 10 GAST fibers.  The other chart I had pulled for the month is Sandi's Sweet Shop [The Sweetheart Tree] which requires scads of DMC, four MH bead packets and a few specialty threads to boot.  It was ever so much easier to start with The Quilt Shop.  I expect the Sweet Shop will be as complicated a stitch as the Cafe du Monde, also from this series, which I had stitched in June and July.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

And It Is Back To The Sampler, Again!

I have been stitching on the English Band Sampler for the last two days.  After a brief stint of frogging, it has been a case of "slow and steady wins the race."  This half of the band is just a little bit difficult and disorienting since the motifs are upside down.  I realize it shouldn't be any more difficult to stitch from a chart that inverts a design than to stitch from one that does not.  But, my mind's eye keeps correcting the image before me, causing some small confusion as I try to stay properly oriented.  I never claimed to have much in the way of spatial intelligence.  My primary learning and perceptive  styles are verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical.  Visual and spatial perceptions are definitely secondary and even tertiary.  So upending the chart takes me out of my comfort zone.

But the colors continue to enchant me, and the difficulty is just enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes.  I don't know how many other stitchers have the same experience but I find the easier the chart, the more likely I am to make a careless mistake,  Charts that are a bit of a challenge keep me focused and accurate.  I'll post a photo when I have some more substantial progress to show.

And just a reminder, comments may still be made to my 9/3 Blogaversary post featuring a $10 gist certificate to 123stitch as a giveaway.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hazel's Bib & Blanket ...

... are ready for mailing.  I hope my niece likes them as much as I enjoyed making them.  I think the bib turned out rather nicely and I am quite pleased with the blanket as well.  I'll be making my way to the post office some time today.

And just a reminder, comments may still be made to my 9/3 Blogaversary post featuring a $10 gist certificate to 123stitch as a giveaway.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Belated Blogaversary

This post is a little over a week late.  The proper date was 8/24/14.  I have been blogging for 7 years now and thoroughly enjoy the process of writing what is essentially a stitching journal, with the rare side trip into real life.  Writing about stitching is very nearly as relaxing as stitching itself.

I have the mind of a statistician and it seems very natural to take stock annually of what's been happening on this blog.

So, I find it interesting that during the past seven years:
I have written 1147 posts.  That's 190 posts since my last blogaversary.
Blogger has recorded 130,693 Pageviews, which means that there were 41,282 page views in just this past year .  That's up a little over 5,000 more pageviews than last year.  So I guess my readership is continuing to grow 
Readers have left 3,829 Comments in the past seven years, 900 of which were in the last year.   Which works out to approximately 3 comments per post or 1 comment for every 34 pageviews.  The numbers of readers may be increasing but, clearly, I don't evoke much of a response from my readers.
I also have 228 followers.

What I'd like to do this year is ask a few questions about blogging.  If you choose to answer these questions in the comments section, you will be entered in a random drawing for a $10 gift certificate to 123stitch [an online cross stitch shop].  Seven questions, one for each year I have been blogging.

1. Do you prefer a blog that is
      a] 95% stitching and 5% personal, roughly what my blog is .
      b] 100% stitching and no personal stuff at all
      c] 50% stitching and 50% personal chat

2.  Whatever the preference selected above, what are your reasons for the preference?

3.  When reading blogs, be honest, do you just look at the photos and skip the prose?

4.  When reading a particular blog, do you enjoy tracking the progress of a specific project?

5.  How many blogs do you read on a regular basis? [Regular basis being defined as once weekly]
     a] 1-25
     b] 26-50
     c] 51-100
     d] over 100

6.  What sort of things do you expect to find on a blog, things that will keep you coming back to read?

7.  What do you like about my blog?  What don't you like about my blog?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another Small Finish and A New Start

I spent most of the long holiday weekend stitching and got a fair amount accomplished.

The second tea towel was finished.  As predicted it worked up more quickly than the first.  For one thing, I had already worked out my changes on the border when stitching the first towel.  So, with the second, it was just a matter of duplicating the border.  And then the chart for Cumin was so much more open than the chart for Rosemary.  So here is a finish photo.

And I started work on Hazel's bib.  As it happened, the alphabet I remembered as being in the Better Homes and Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Designs was not there.  I figured it couldn't be too hard to design my own Building Block Alphabet, so I made a very rough sketch on graph paper and started stitching.  I've only one block more to stitch.  I hope to have the bib ready for mailing, with the crocheted blanket, on Wednesday.  The bib is a pre-fab affair made from a terrycloth fingertip towel printed with kites in bright Crayola colors wjich I echoed in the color of the blocks.