Thursday, March 31, 2016

Assessing March Goals, Setting April Goals

MARCH GOALS  It must have been Spring Fever but I pretty much threw my goals out the window and started three new pieces.
1,  Complete at least 5 sewing or assembly finishes.  NO.
2.  Continue work on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.  NO.
3.  Start the next Workbasket Quaker animal.  Kitted but not started.
4.  Get back to work on Making Waves NO.
1.  Primitive Needle's Witch's Hollow: started and made considerable progress, completing the owl band and the double tower band and getting a good start on the cemetery band.
2.  DMC Heart Sampler: six of nine bands done.
Ink Circles Truly Endless Knot II: Finished.

Complete at least 5 sewing or assembly finishes.
Continue work on Jacobean Elegance Afghan.
Start work on  Workbasket Quaker Bear.
Continue work on Making Waves.
Continue work on Primitive Needle's Witch's Hollow
Continue work on DMC's Heart Sampler

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gallery Post - Samplers

I realized I have never posted a gallery of my samplers   I love samplers of all kinds.  I love the ones that focus on complex stitches like The Sweetheart Tree's Holly & Hearts, the ones that focus on motifs like Spots of Fun by Debbie Draper or Workbasket's Quaker Sampler, or the ones that feature different alphabets.  I love modern samplers with clever and whimsical sayings, and primitive samplers with stylized motifs stripped to their bare essentials and I love reproduction samplers based on historical samplers, like The English Band Sampler.  Whether they are whimsical or elegant,  complex or simple, I enjoy them.  And, I have been subscribing to Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly long enough to have quite a lengthy list of samplers I plan to stitch now that I am retired, samplers from different national traditions: American, English, Dutch and German.

So here goes:

This is the Earth Day Sampler, a free chart from the My Heartstring blog.  I tweaked this chart considerably.  I didn't care for the asymmetrical border as charted and so made it symmetrical.  I changed the colorway from Spring to Autumn.  I didn't care for the bird and flower motifs and replaced them with squirrels facing one another across the motto.  I have always felt squirrels were appealing little creatures.  I even enjoy their clever antics as they try to burglarize my bird feeders.  And, according to my book on sampler symbology, squirrels represent both frugality and malicious mischief.  I can see the frugality but can't quite get behind the malicious mischief.  And, a bit of family history, my mother claims my first word [beyond Mama and Dada] was 'quirrell.  I felt particularly frugal while stitching this sampler since I used linen remaining from another project and floss remaining from a Catherine Jordan class.  

This is Homespun Elegance's The Stitcher.  I love this piece for it's muted colors and lovely little embellishments: the tiny scissor charm, the skein of floss and the satin stitched spool.  Instead of buying the button pack I added my own vintage mother of pearl buttons.  The linen is a Silkweaver hand dyed fabric and is more dully golden in color than appears here.  I believe the linen was called Golden Promise.

Homespun Elegance's Witches Stitch, Too.  How could I resist this companion piece to The Stitcher.  Again, I substituted my own vintage buttons for the designer's button pack since I had carved buttons that worked well with the colors in this piece.

This The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hearts Sampler.  It was a class piece at Sue Donnelly's Stitcher's Hideaway Mystic 2011.  It has a wealth of intricate specialty stitches, exquisitely delicate beading, tone on tone bands and all sorts of other features making it both a challenging and an enjoyable stitch.  It had a companion piece, a heart shaped  Christmas ornament which can be seen in my Christmas ornament gallery post here.

This is Primitive Needles' Black'd Skies which I stitched as a memorial to my Dad in the 25th Anniversary year of his death.  I finished it just a few days after what would have been his 80th birthday.  It was an interesting experience.

And another Primitive Needle piece, My Needle.  I love the old tombstone angel motif and coin borders in this piece.  I regret the loss of this talented designer, such a gifted and creative woman.

This is Workbasket's Quaker Sampler.  In the center medallions I have placed my husband's and my own initials and the year of our marriage.  I stitched it in the charted overdyed floss. Upon reflection I probably would have liked it better done all in one overdyed floss, either a dark green or a dark blue colorway.  It's a nice bright and cheerful piece as it stands but I think it would have been more elegant as a monochrome piece.

This is Tansy, Yarrow and Rue from Pineberry Lane, another primitive style sampler designer.  I love the botanical motifs in this piece.  The chart also included three pin pillows, each featuring one of the herbs.  I was drawn to this chart because of a bit of personal history.  For a number of years when my children were little and before I rejoined the work force, I volunteered as a docent at the local historical society's 17th century Dutch  homestead.  We had these herbs in our garden.

Blackbird Sampler by Bent Creek.

Shared Letters by San Man Originals.

This Liz Turner Diehl's band sampler from one of those CATs stitcher's dinners.  The features I like most in this piece are the beaded acorn caps and the touches of ribbon embroidery.  I found the perfect bell pull hardware complete with acorn finials for this piece.

This Spots of Fun designed by Debbie Draper and stitched as a SAL.  I enjoyed working all these different motifs in different fibers: silks, wools, bamboos, cotton overdyes etc. I chose to do mine in an autumnal color way. 

This Noah's Ark Sampler hangs in my office.  I need to get a better photo without the reflection of the window on the facing wall. This was the first large piece I did when my children were very young and I wasn't keeping track of chart names and designers.  I do remember changing the verse at the bottom to a Scripture quote rather than the nursery type verse that was charted.7

This is a Heart in Hand sampler that also hangs in my office.

This is a chart from the now defunct Celebrations magazine.  I stitched it as a gift for the 25 jubilee of the nun who heads up our archdiocesan cayechetical office.  The images reference episodes in Genesis and Exodus.  The quote is from

Designed by Sue Donnelly as a complimentary kit for those attending the Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway in 2012, The Sea Calls.  This lovely sampler features sea glass and sea shell embellishments as well as the charming verse about stitching by the sea.8

From Shepherd's Bush, Leaf.

The Autumn Spots sampler from The Trilogy.

A mini sampler, Acorn, from from The Twisted Thread.

A Homespun Elegance Sampler finished as a flea market pillow.

Raise the Roof's Crabby All Year Long.

Little House Needleworks: Season of ... sampler series.  To be finished as a throw pillow.

Pineberry Lane's Autumn on Marigold Lane.

Pineberry Lane's Mehitabel's Redwork Sampler

Easter Egg Sampler: this is much prettier in real life, the pastel variegated floss looks great against the medium to pale apricot colored linen.

SANQ's The English Band Sampler: two years in the stitching, this piece has many and varied specialty stitches including Queen, eyelets, Rhodes, Algerian, long Cross, satin, etc.

Country Cottage Needleworks Sunflower Sampler

Morning Glory Designs Sheltering Tree

Bent Creek Swirlygig

Whispered by the Wind's Scherzo

Mystery Sampler: I van not remember the provenance of this complimentary chart.

Cedar Hill's Spring Bouquet Sampler: I love pansies, so this chart was a must stitch for me from the moment I saw it.

Blackbird Designs' The Sampler House.  This is my favorite of all the samplers I have stitched and, incidentally, the most expensive frame, using hand carved, imported moldings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A One Day Wonder

Seeking a little instant gratification, i.e. a quick finish, I pulled this Ink Circles chart, Truly Endless Knot II from the 2015 JCS ornament issue,

I just couldn't let a full month pass without at least one finish.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


For the most part, I like this chart.  Really, I do.  But, as charted, it's a little too dense and top heavy for my taste.  [The chart is a DMC freebie and can be found here.]  It's the c2014 heart designed by Lois Winston.

So, to balance it out and give it an air of delicacy and lightness, I am keeping the basic outline but replacing every other band with the vine band.  Tweaking things this way appeals to my sense of symmetry

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Resting My Eyes

Much as I am loving Witch's Hollow, I do need a break from muted greys and grey greens on a 36 ct grey linen.  Too much tone on tone for aging eyes.

So I have switched to this DMC free heart chart stitched on 28 ct evenweave in some old Needle Necessities floss which shades from pink to mauve.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Primitive Needle's Witch's Hollow Continued

Normally, when stitching a multi page chart, I stitch a page at a time.  I make an exception to this rule when a page plays fast and loose with the natural dividing points in a design. This chart is divided into bands that overlap pages.  Not only that, but the first band is actually two bands bisected vertically and slightly off center by a tall tower.  The witch's tower is charted mostly on page one   but with just a bit on pages two, three and four.  For some reason I find this very irritating.  I need to stitch this motif in its entirety, not piecemeal. 

Consequently, I have been shuffling pages quite a bit,  First it was pages 1 and 2 to stitch the owl.  I soon noticed how perfectly symmetrical the owl's wings were and was able to simply stitch a mirror image of the left wing for the right wing.  There was no need to refer to the chart for that.  But then came the tower band with page 1 stopping mid-moon, mid-star, mid-bat, mid-witch  and lacking the bottom 15 or so rows of stitching  This irked me!  [By the by, don't you love the verb "irk"?  It is so very expressive.]    So, after a great deal of flipping about,  what you see in this photo is all of pages one and two, the top rows of page 3,  and a fair bit of page 4, 

I am probably the only stitcher on the planet who would prefer large charts to be printed like those old-fashioned folding road maps that we used before GPS.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Primitive Needle's Witch's Hollow

I finished the owl at the top of the piece in spite of some confusing symbols placed side by side: ( for Seaweed and ) for Light  Khaki.  Usually, I fall for the whole tromp d'oeill thing and end up doing some serious frogging when this sort of thing occurs.  But, happily, this time I saw the problem immediately and avoided mistakes.  I do wish all designers everywhere would make it a priority to avoid using deceptively similar symbols in a single chart.   I am wary ever since I fell into a symbol trap while stitching Brightneedle's Ghosts and Ghoulies over one and it has been languishing ever since.  I have yet to face the onerous  task of frogging the error.

Anyway, back to Witch's Hollow.  I made a whole bunch of substitutions using GAST and Crescent Colors to fill in the gaps in what I thought was a substantial WDW stash.  It entailed about a half hour staring at color charts on line and then making judgment calls about stash in hand.   In some cases, I'll be replacing one missing WDW color with several of the other brands, e.g., WDW charcoal will be replaced by GAST Onyx for the Bats but by GAST Raven and Soot and CC Blackbird for other motifs further on down the page.  The same goes for some of the shades of grey.  It just seems silly not to use what I have.  The whole point of building such an extensive stash while working was to avoid expense once on the reduced income of retirement.

I am going to have a lot of fun with this piece.  I enjoy Halloween themes and love the style of Primitive Needle.  The designer's untimely death was a sad loss.