Monday, August 31, 2015

Assessing August Goals, Setting September Goals

Slow healing from cataract surgery sabotaged things somewhat this month but I did manage to get a relatively respectable amount of stitching done.


Complete at least five sewing finishes.  No.

Continue work on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  I started work on another block

Finish Prairie Schooler Year Round for July and August..  Finished July and decided to skip August's rather boring entry.

Finish Town Square series  The Ice Cream Shop.  NO.

Finish Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel and start on the Quaker Bear.  NO.

Continue work on July starts.  Finished Sue Donnelly's Best Ships Sampler.  And finished two charts and started a third from the Prairie Schooler Primitive Americana leaflet.


Complete at least five sewing finishes.
Continue work on Jacobean Elegance afghan.
Stitch Prairie Schooler Year Round for September.
Finish woek on Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel and start on the Quaker Bear.
Finish flea market pillow using Prairie Schooler's Primitive Americana leaflet designs.
Find and order Teresa Wentzler's Woodland Santa stocking.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stitching Report, Such As It Is

If you have been hearing the joyful strains of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, it's just me.  I can see again.  No sooner than my right eye had healed enough after cataract surgery to allow me to see with that eye again, I had surgery on the left eye.  And the world was again a mere blur.  Apparently, I am a slow healer.  It takes three to four days for the dilation to subside.  That meant I went nearly 8 full days unable to read, stitch, use a computer or drive.  Manageable activities were limited to sleeping,  cleaning, cooking and watching TV ... none of which make it to my top ten list of preferred activities.  But now with the aid of a pair of dime store reading glasses, I can do all of the tasks requiring the ability to see clearly objects smaller that a grape.  I may even begin to enjoy puttering in the kitchen again, now that it is a choice rather than a chore.

Naturally, I had to test myself on different count linens and different style projects to see what would be most comfortable as I continue to heal.

First I picked up the July Prairie Schooler Year Round piece again and finished all the red and white points surrounding the star studded blue field.  The center field is slow going.  The 40 ct linen was not the easiest to work and I found myself frogging frequently after miscounting by one thread.  I am not sure I will even bother with the August entry in this series: a sun with a face, rather trite and uninteresting.  On the one hand, it does seem wrong to my orderly soul to skip one chart in a monthly series like this.  But on the other hand, why stitch a piece that would bore me to tears when I have so many more interesting projects on hand?

I also finished work on Sue Donnelly's Best Ships sampler, stitched on a much friendlier 28ct. linen.  It was charted without a border but I stitched a row of waves beneath the last line of text to give the piece a little more weight.

And I put in a few minutes on CEC's Swimming Instructor, working on the spider roses that form the bra.   I am not sure that the dimensionality of the stitching shows to advantage in the photograph.  But I imagine if you account for the scale, this rather buxom little mermaid wears a C cup.  I'll hold off re-charting the face for a few days till I am ready for some over one stitching.  Then it will just be a matter of adding a bead necklace and deciding if I want to embellish it with a few sea creatures. [Now that I know how to make a bullion stitch star fish, I am looking for excuses to use the new found skill.]

And because I seem to be dealing with chronic startitis this summer, I started another Prairie Schooler piece, Primitive Americana.  With all the primary election hoopla going on, it seemed an appropriate time to stitch a face off of party symbols.  I substituted silks for DMC and I am using scraps of mystery 28ct. linen sewn up  into what I have heard described as a flea market pillow top.  It's a format used in some Homespun Elegance designs I've stitched and I thought it would work nicely here.  I haven't decided yet whether I'll stitch Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty in the tall patch to the right but I have started the alphabet sampler with eagle corners that makes up the last design in this PS leaflet.on the bottom panel.  I'll probably have to make some adjustments to the chart to fit this panel.   I seem to be in a Prairie Schooler frame of mind   I can't seem to put this piece down.

So far as ease of stitching goes, the perfect project for the moment is the Jacobean Elegance afghan, stitched over two with four strands on what must be a 10 or 12 ct fabric.  I have started another of the blossom squares.  And though it is the most comfortable stitching of all the projects currently in my rotation, it is awfully bulky and warm to work with..  I think I'll alternate it with the Prairie Schooler piece for a few days.

Ah, it is so good to be able to stitch again.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Curses and Imprecations

I just read in The Needle in a Haystack's e-newsletter that the Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly is ceasing publication.  This is the only needlework magazine to which I subscribe, not having much use for JCS or any of the British magazines, with their rather lowest common denominator approach to publication.  The designs in JCS et al tend to be rather simple or oh so trendy with rarely a thought given to needle workers who want more challenging designs or articles that place the craft in historical context.  The reason for the demise of this lovely magazine is that it doesn't have a large enough audience.  Well, of course, it doesn't have a huge audience.  It has a niche audience: serious stitchers with a hunger to learn more about the craft as practiced through the centuries and throughout the world.   People who stitch more than teddy bears and Santas.

To say I am disappointed would be putting it mildly.  I have two years left in a three year subscription and no wish to be fobbed off with an inferior product like JCS which will no doubt be sent in its place.  I suppose I should comfort myself with the reminder that I have enjoyed SANQ for a decade or so.  I shall treasure my library of back issues and dip into the pages for projects for many years to come.

It always seems to work this way.  If I like a TV show,it's usually canceled after a season or two.  The authors I prefer never seem to make it to the shelves of the local library.  The movies I want to see seldom make the bill at the local cineplexes.  At the risk of sounding like a total snob, the discerning few always lose out to the common herd.   Damn! Damn!  Damn!

Addendum: I have been taken to task for the line 'people who stitch more than teddy bears and Santas'.  I can understand the appeal of an occasional Santa or mermaid or pumpkin [still don't get the teddy bears but that's just me] but let's admit that such things are stitching lite.  We all stitch things that are simple, quick and easy: seasonal fun stuff.  What I am complaining about is that with the demise of SANQ, all that's left in magazines is the light ephemeral stuff [unless one belongs to the guilds and gets their journals].  One of the most satisfying stitching experiences I have enjoyed recently is working on the English Band Sampler from SANQ 2012.   I bemoan the loss of a venue for such interesting and challenging charts, charts that expand one's skills and broaden one's stitching vocabulary. And somehow I don't expect to see articles about antique stitching implements, national styles of embroidery or museum collections in a magazine like JCS.  Why must the market always be skewed toward the lowest common denominator?   It's a fair question.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Modest Proposal

The American electoral process has become increasingly bitter and polarized and even, to some  degree, absurd over the last few election cycles.  One longs for civility, substantive debates and an end to idiocy on both sides of the aisle.


One guilty pleasure: it has been amusing to see the Donald's hairstyle come in for as much criticism as was once leveled at Hilary's coiffure.  It is so seldom that men are called out on such superficial criteria as women suffer all the time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


In my last post, I listed a series of new starts.  Every so often I get terminally bored with my current WIPs.  Or sometimes a bunch of intriguing new charts come to my attention all at once.  In this case, it was a little of both.

CEC's The Swimming Instructor  This new complimentary chart came to my attention when I saw a link to it on a message board I frequent.  I quickly kitted it up my way, substituting silks from Caron, Rainbow Gallery Splendour and Belle Soie for the rather gaudy DMC choices charted by the designer.  I wanted my finished piece to have a fantasy look rather than a cartoon look.  More Hans Christian Andersen than Walt Disney.  Once I finished the fishtail [in carom's Monsoon] and the torso [in some leftover Splendour flesh tone from an old SNN kit], I got going on the Belle Soie Mahogany silk for the hair.  Can anyone else remember the era of big hair?  I realize the effect the designer is going for is "floating in water" but all I keep seeing are 80s era actresses.  I think I'll name my mermaid Farah.  Now that I've finished her hair, I'll get to work clothing her and re-charting the face.

Morning Glory's Buttoned Heart Pin Cushion.  This was one of the charts in the retreat gift bag.  I had to start it because I had just the right materials on hand: a small scrap of antique rose 28ct linen and a partial skein of Caron Waterlilies Meadow, not enough for a full sized project but more than enough for a small.    Sometimes, materials seem to leap out of stash, shouting "use me, use me, you know I'm perfect."  I even had some flowery meadow-ish fabric on hand for a finish and a small pearlized pink button.

Also, from the retreat gift bag was this small souvenir scissor fob, Making Waves in Sturbridge.    I don't know why I feel compelled to stitch Sue's little retreat themed gifts right away.  Perhaps because I know, deep down, I am unlikely to finish the class project within the same year.  Still, I 'll have a few smalls to show for it all.  Plus, these tiny projects feed my appetite for finishes.

And another goodie bag chart, Ginny Thompson's Sampler ornament, turned out to be a one day wonder, stitching up very quickly in the deep rose pink flower thread accompanying the chart.  This was stitched on a tiny scrap of antique rose 28ct linen.

I am not quite done with the new starts yet.   Sue Donnelly's Friendship Sampler  from the gift bag is in the hoop but I haven't stitched enough of it to be photo worthy.  And, then there's Papillion Creations monochromatic chart door prize that I want to start stitching.  This is the way the WIP list grows.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Assessing July Gials, Setting Augusr Goals

My goals for July were modest.  But sometimes I just break free and make a whole bunch of new starts.

July Goals

Complete at least five sewing finishes.  No

Continue work on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  No

Finish Prairie Schooler Year Round for July.  Started but umfinished

Finish Town Square series The ABCedarium: finished 7-9

Finish Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel.  No

Off Goal Stitching in July
CEC's The Swimming Instructor ... nearly done
Diane Herrman's Making Waves ... good prpgress during retreat
Sue Donnelly's 2015 souvenir small Making Waves in Sturbridge... finished
Morning Glory Needleworks' heart buttoned pin cushion ... more than 3/4 done.

August Goals

Complete at least five sewing finishes.

Continue work on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.

Finish Prairie Schooler Year Round for July and August..

Finish Town Square series  The Ice Cream Shop

Finish Workbasket's Quaker Squirrel and start on the Quaker Bear.

Continue woek on Jult starts.