Saturday, January 31, 2009

I am Bad

I forgot to take photos today while the sun was shining. I'm outside my regular schedule. Got thrown off by guy coming to pick up a freecycle desk and he called and wanted to come early. Okay.

But I picked up In the Midnight Hour from the framer yesterday and it looks fantastic. Pics tomorrow, I promise.

It looks so good that when I saw it hanging on the wall, my first thought was I didn't do that. It's going off to Woodlawn soon so I only get to enjoy it a few days.

My birthday present from Art on Demand at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. This is Evening Glow at Mono Lake, from Mono Mills by Chiura Obata done in 1930. Actually it's from my hubby. It arrived in the mail yesterday and as we are getting ready to rehang all artwork around the new furniture, he thought I should open it.

I was the only one in the family who saw this exhibit last spring. But the whole family once spent a wonderful spring break in camping in CA, including a day trip to Mono Lake. Great memories.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Creative Sewing 101

The Artful Bras Project of South Carolina.

Winter Weather at Last

Even the new President got in on the weather yesterday:

"Can I make a comment that is unrelated to the economy very quickly? And it has to do with Washington," Obama told reporters ushered in to hear him talk to a group of chief executive officers about his stimulus package.

"My children's school was cancelled today -- Because of what? Some ice?" Obama said in mock outrage, sparking laughter from his guests.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago school is never cancelled, in fact my 7-year-old pointed out that you'd go outside for recess.

"You wouldn't even stay indoors. We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this.

"I'm saying, when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things."

It's quite obvious to me that the few winters he spent here as a Senator, he wasn't paying attention to things like school. Granted last winter, there was no snow. But the two years before that, there were snow days.

As a displaced New Englander, I feel his pain. And frustration. He should simply enjoy the fact that he will never have to deal with the stupidity that is drivers from southern climates driving in winter weather. Twenty plus years ago, we marvelled that two inches of snow could bring this region to a standstill. I think the public works types deal a bit better with it now. But still. It's so ridiculous to those of us who grew up with snow and ice and cold.

* * * * *

Can you believe that I've done no stitching for two days? Been busy rearranging furniture and putting things away in their new homes:

These are my Christmas presents. I had to wait a month past Christmas, but that's okay. China hutch and a sideboard that I believe the manufacturer referred to as a pantry cabinet. Now I need to rehang all framed items.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stupid Weather

It chooses today to snow. To actually snow here and stick. When DH is flying to Colorado and I felt free to go to Tuesday night stitch group which has already been canceled due to the snow. Guess I'll be stitching all by my lonesome tonight.

This one here isn't much help when it comes to Elvis would rather lie upside down and snore.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Birthday that I Missed

I didn't really missed it. I just missed commenting here.

January 18th. This would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday, but she died peacefully in her sleep three years ago. She's the person I wish most to emulate in my life. I think the word complaint was not in her vocabulary, even when she had reason for complaint. She always did what had to be done. Was always willing to smile along with you at the silly things in life. If she drove through freshly laid asphalt in a brand new white car, she didn't bitch and moan. She just got down on the ground and started removing the black stuff. She was an original when life hands you lemons, make lemonade kind of person. Having lived through the depression, she had a tremendous use it up, wear it out attitude. My grandfather died shortly after their 50th anniversary. She lived another 22 years and never remarried. Said all the old men wanted was either a nurse or a housekeeper and she wasn't interested in being either one. If there was something that needed to be done, she did it. Wallpaper hanging, moving stone walls, it didn't matter. She had a problem with idleness. If she sat still too long, she was apt to jump up and start rearranging the furniture. And her one of her biggest pleasures in life, was working outside. Not just gardening. She'd climb on the roof and clean out the gutters. She's also the person who taught me how to thread a needle, how to use a sewing machine (the old treadle version), how to knit, how to crochet. Because if she was sitting down, she had to have something in her hands. Sometimes it wasn't handiwork. Sometimes it was a book. I miss you, Gram, more every passing day.

Promised photo

Here's the dogwood handpainted canvas finish. I am very happy with my choices and feel confident I can attack my much larger canvas I bought at Needle Nook of La Jolla in 2007.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Last of the Books

Let's see if I can get through with all of them:

1) "Folk Designs from the Caucasus for Weaving and Needlework" by Lyatif Kerimov published in 1974. This is a Dover book with over 450 different designs from weaving from Azerbaijan. They are gridded in black and white. Only color illustration is the cover. I didn't know this book even existed. I wish I had known about a few years back when I created a mini-sampler to honor DH's year in the deserts of Kuwait.

2)Another Dover book - "Anne Orr's Charted Designs" from 1978. Silhouettes, flowers, alphabets all with that original Anne Orr touch.

3) "Flowers, Birds, and Unicorns: Medieval Needlepoint" by Candace Bahouth published in 1993. Birds, beasts, gardens, symbols and patterns. Twenty original patterns in tent stitch, which isn't much. But the book is beautifully photographed in and around the author's home in England.

4) "Cross-Stitch Techniques Projects Patterns Motifs" by Gloria Nicol published by the Potter Needlework Library. Patterns for bed linens, table linens, laundry bags, and other household items. All in color. I see she has books about candlemaking and many other crafts.

5) "Learn Needle Tatting Step-by-step" by Barbara Foster published in 1998. This book is still available in the latest Nordic Needle catalog. I've done the needle tatting demo thing a few years before starting this blog. Useful book. Good explanations.

6) "The Open Canvas" by Carolyn Ambuter published in 1982. Great diagrams, mostly black and white photos. She does/did things to canvas I wouldn't even have thought of doing.

That's my used book wrap up. Only took me a week. I finished my dogwood canvas on Friday and will post a photo tomorrow. Been trying to do some hardandger. I think I've frogged more than I've created. It's not that hard. But the single strand of Watercolours probably is a touch too thick for the 28ct fabric. But I love the colors and refuse to give up.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Used Books

This morning we have for my eventual use and occasional perusal:

1) "Needlepoint from America's Great Quilt Designs" by Mary Kay Davis and Helen Giammattei published in 1974. This book has both color and black and white photos. There is a black and white photo of each pattern and then the stitch diagram on the facing page. It's divided into sections - Stars and Stripes, Nautical, Overall Patterns, Flowers, Leaves, and Trees, and Border and Background Stitches. I'm not a quilter. I had my flirtation with quilting decades ago and was taught by someone who insisted our first piece be made entirely by hand. But I do recognize patterns and will always appreciate fine quilts whenever and wherever I see them. That said, there are some recognizable to me patterns in this book. Actually it's kind of funny that I bought this as I always say that the canvas work quilt type patterns do not appeal to me. But I can see how bits and pieces may be useful.

2) "The Encyclopedia of Canvas Embroidery Stitch Patterns" by Katharine Ireys published in 1968, 1972. This is a book of hand drawn stitch diagrams with some black and white photos. There are 170 stitches diagrammed with illustrations of needle placement and which direction to stitch in. It's pretty gutsy calling something like this an encyclopedia, but for it's time I guess that's okay. I'm sure I can name any number of stitches that aren't included here, but I think this may be a solid reference book.

3) "Finishing and Mounting Your Needlepoint Pieces" by Katharine Ireys published in 1973. Anyone need to know how to make a typewriter cover? I thought not. Nor do I wish to make a cigarette case. But this book, though the illustrations of techniques are hand drawn, is an excellent reference for how to handle canvas finishing. Pillows, bellpulls, chair pads, neckties, tennis racket covers, bookends, chokers, etc. Home decor and personal accessories all neatly planned out for you when framing your finished piece isn't what you want.

I've got a few more days worth of books to go through and want to comment on the fact that many of them came from one lady. She wrote her name inside the books. And had obviously compiled quite a stitcher's library. Either she downsized or someone handling her estate brought the books to this used bookstore. And I'm grateful. They didn't just get tossed and will grace my bookshelves and have a second life. And maybe someday I'll pass them along to someone else. At which point they will truly be antiques.

In other stitching news:

I nearly finished the background on my dogwood canvas last night. I should have just kept plugging away but I didn't want to get sloppy. Will be doing border experimentation later today!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First Three Books

1) "Pulled Thread Embroidery" by Moyra McNeill originally published in 1971. This is the Dover edition reprinted in 1993. For it's time this book has lots of great photos - all black and white. Stitch diagrams are drawn. Has some funky, artsy stuff. I'm saving this one for that later encounter I will have with pulled and drawn thread.

2) "Bargello Plus" by Mira Silverstein published in 1973. This book has both black and white and color photos and a beautiful peacock on the cover. Has a section on figuring out borders and miters for bargello work. I think this book may be very helpful in my near future.

3) "Four Way Bargello" by Dorothy Kaestner published in 1974. Has both color and black and white photos. I think the color ones are necessary for understanding the dimensional, kalidoscope effects of this technique. I was hoping that maybe there would be a bit about eight way, but no. This book is about to become my other new best friend.

I can see that I need to start cataloguing my books. Another project!

Ah Ha

In a great minds think alike moment, Coni suggested I use dark green as a border around my dogwood canvas. Guess what I got yesterday? A dark green variegated silk for the border.

I still need to detail the books, but my Mom called this morning and I am running way behind schedule. Will try to get back here later today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Never Even Went Online Yesterday

I won't say I was mesmerized in front of the television all day, because I wasn't. I mostly watched on ABC and C-span. And totally enjoyed the local coverage when ABC ran it. I cleaned the kitchen, went and got a late lunch with DH. Finished reading the Power of Three by Laura Lippman. Even stitched some more background on this dogwood canvas:

I still have the French knots to stitch in some of the flowers and am debating on a border. I think it needs one. Just a simple slanted gobelin would be fine, but what color/s to use?

And then there's this punch needle I was talking about:

It's bit dark because of my changes. Like I said, lesson learned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Da Punch Needling Thing

I finished my first piece on Saturday. And learned a lot in process. I managed to correct my technical errors and picked up some great tips. Joined a punch needle yahoo group that is very chatty.

Learned a lesson though about changing colors. When picking the colors for my first piece - one blue, one green, one brick red, and one yellow - I decided the brick red was too light for my taste so I used one strand of the called for color with two strands of the next darker shade. And I didn't have the green and went slightly darker with that, too. And the result was that all of my colors except the yellow are basically the same color value and things kind of muddy together when stitched that densely. In hand, the colors looked great. Punched - there just isn't enough definition between them. I pay more attention to this next time.

Yesterday DH and I hit up two second hand bookstores in Maryland. One is a keeper, the other we won't bother visiting again. I didn't begin to clean them out of needlework books even though I bought like ten of them. Will detail the titles in the next few days. I'm still going through them myself. Even found a book on four-way bargello.

But I didn't just buy needlework books. I also did some purchasing in the poetry section where I was delighted to find two Richard Brautigan books - The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1969)and Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt (1970). This is a huge blast from my past and I will have to see in my library has Trout Fishing in America and A Confederate General from Big Sur. Also scored some e.e. cummings and a few other poetry books.

I am in search of a copy of 50 Heirloom Buttons by Nancy Nehring. If anyone out there has a copy they are willing to sell, I'm buying.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The "I" Word

Just in case anyone is wondering, no I am not planning on attending the inauguration on Tuesday. Look, they've closed every bridge from Virginia into the District. They've closed the roads leading up to those bridges from the Beltway into the District. They have warned us for months about the size of the crowds. Two million? Four million? No one knows. They are all just guessing. The Metro parking lots are expected to be full by 6:00 a.m. Northern Virginia roads may gridlocked all day. Who knows? They have effectively scared off most sensible people from attempting to attend. You may need to be prepared to walk. A long, long way. No strollers, no backpacks. And here's hoping there are enough bathrooms. Five thousand portable toilets doesn't sound like enough even when supplemented by all the Smithsonian bathrooms. I am feeling badly for anyone who does have to get themselves to work (museum workers, hotel and restaurant employees, hospital employees, etc.) that day. Or to National to catch a plane.

So we will be doing what any practical person would do in this case. Watch everything on the television.

More on Bargello

I'll get to the B. in a minute.

But first. I stitched some more on By the Bay Needleart's "Spooky Hill" which is a headless horseman piece. Small, but I like the designer's style. If you see this piece, I can tell you that the colors are way off from what's called for. Those aren't blues at the top, but grays. Etc. No way near that bright. Will this always be an issue? Don't the designers know how frustrating that is for stitchers, when the colors in the photo don't reflect the actual product?

Came home from stitch in and grocery shopping and found my three, almost antique books on bargello. I've got two from 1967 and one from 1972. I found some exciting stuff about 4-way and 8-way bargello on the 'net yesterday morning and obviously have a lot to learn.

One of the interesting things about this is all of the myths about the origins of bargello. Does it have something to do with prisoners in Italy? A Polish princess? What about the alternate names of Florentine and Hungarian point? I may decide that I need to go classic first and get some wool to use on canvas. And then move on to perle cottons and metallics and silks. I got stretcher bars yesterday and forgot to buy more tacks...oh no!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Still Dreaming of Bargello

And only dreaming as I didn't have an opportunity to stitch yesterday. The only time I had was spent with the 20 lb. cat in my lap. Elvis was looking for love 'cause he's missing his kids who returned to school. Or maybe he was just cold. Woke up with curled up against me this morning and I know that was because he was looking for warmth. He's happily snoring on the ottoman beside me in the office right now. And I know he's happy because I turned on the space heater. (I don't type well with frozen fingers.)

Today is stitching group. We'll see how many show up. Last week we made it to 10 without four of our regulars. Oh my. I guess I shouldn't bring anything on a big frame. Something little will have to suffice.

I did pick threads for bargello experiments yesterday. Jewel tone green, red, blue, and purple in Watercolours and then matching perle cottons and matching metallics. That and a large piece of tan canvas that needs cutting. I totally spaced on thinking about stretcher bars. I know I have some, but not sure of the sizes. Why does the prospect of something new thrill me so much? And how do I translate that feeling to finishing?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Returning to Regular Posting

Not working today. But I've still got to run to the shop to tell the owner all about all the fun I had. And maybe straightened out a few details...

Over the past week I've kitted up two projects. A Permin sampler from 1859. And an Amybear canvas piece, Night Flight. Again I had trouble with threads not coming any where close to matching the photo with the canvas piece. Which is bothersome. I had to go to three different shops (aren't I tremendously lucky that I can?) to find Watercolors in shades that suited me. There is still one that didn't match and it's the top part of this pattern and very important. So I found some silk/wool blends that might work in combo with perle cotton or alone. I haven't decided. But the first thing I'll be doing on this piece is experimentation.

And I got my first issue of Needlepoint Now. I think I spent the entire night dreaming of colors to use while practice bargello techniques...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back To School

Poor DS was terribly ill Friday night. He managed to come and pick me up from work and I knew he was feeling bad when he asked me to drive. I'm betting it was food poisoning, though we couldn't figure out what he ate that no one else did.

So Saturday was supposed to be laundry day for both kids before leaving to return to college on Sunday. Only DS didn't really do any laundry on Saturday as he was still in recovery mode. Which meant his laundry wasn't finished until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Oh duh. I was hoping to home by then, not leaving then. DD flight into Logan got delayed because of the weather there, and she left Dulles 2-3 hours later than she was supposed to. While she was waiting for her baggage she texted me to say she'd missed the bus, but no. Later update was the bus was late, too. So she did eventually make it back to school, making both the homecoming and school returning trips subject to some nasty New England winter weather problems.

DS and I had traffic issues of our own and stopped early to eat at Cracker Barrel. Where I watched a guy eating fried okra like it was popcorn. Literally he couldn't put it in his mouth fast enough and he ate two orders of it before moving on to his meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I figured if it was that good, I'd give it a go. My go to veggie at CB is turnip greens. And I love when lima beans are the veggie of the day. The okra was good, but apparently I don't have the same appreciation for it as this guy did. We did the stop at the grocery store and buy food for the boy. Got to supplement the school provided food.

The earlier delay in leaving gave me time to start my first punch needle project, an Elizabeth's Designs Art Deco piece. I did about half of it and figured out some things on my own. I think I started by over punching and if I'm going to do that I can most likely use 2 strands instead of 3. So I started moving a bit farther apart with my punches and that was better. I realize I have some conflicting directions between what the books say and what my needle directions say. Either that or I am not understanding someone's terminology. Will consult with my expert friend. And experiment further.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finally Jumped Into a Pool

A pool of punch needle. I bought my needles a month or so ago. Up until now all I've had were a couple of cheap Dimensions kits with a cheaper needle and some weaver's cloth that I bought I long time ago.

Now I have two Dancing Needles' books, and two more on the way from Amazon - Charlotte Dudney and Amy Buehler. I've picked up a couple of easy pieces this fall with the fabric. And I've got good hoops.

My not doing this sooner was my lack of interest in the designs that I've been seeing. But after a year and half of telling a friend she should design her own punch needle designs, I've decided that I will design my own punch needle designs.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Updating from Work

This is a first for me. As I usually work at home, I never say I'm updating from work. But all this week I've been managing a friend's needlework shop for her while she's on vacation. She's not stupid, she went to CA where it wasn't raining.

The first two days, the weather definitely kept all but the die hard shoppers away. Thursday was better, and today was better still. I've got another hour of hanging DMC and stowing away Appleton wool and it's pretty darn quiet right now.

I've been keeping my hands off the stash. Only purchases have been the colors for Ink Circles Much-Heralded Sampler. What I had originally I thought was wrong and in looking at my Color Index book that DD bought me, I was inspired to dream of a color combination that works much better. This piece only has three colors. A darker border of buildings at the bottom, the main mid-tone color, and an accent color. I have chosen Ashes, a gray from Carrie's Creations for the border and mid-tone blue of Carrie's the name of which escapes me, and Silk n Colours Charteuse for the accent. Had some Mourning Dove fabric that works wonderfully for this and now I've got a 1/4 yard of Crossed Wings Earth that needs a project. Never fear. I'll find one. Probably in short order.

I'm feeling virtuous having solved many problems today. And I made one woman incredibly happy as a nearly 5 month back order was finally filled and she can start her rug.

Yes. I am avoiding the DMC. But it has got to be done...

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I feel like quoting Governor William J. Lepetomane this morning: work, work, work, work.

The weather here has been horribly rainy the past two days and I haven't seen many customers in the store. Though the ones I have seen have been interesting. I'm not going to tell stories...but people are unique. It takes all types. All the usual cliches. This morning is Thursday a.m. stitch group so I'll see all my friends that I haven't seen since Dec. 18th. I invited DD, but I think she's going to sleep in. I've cleaned, rearranged sale items, rearranged the racks, etc.

Came home at 6:30 last night to find four college kids gathered round the Wii playing Boom Blox. DD was kicking their *@@es. Woo. Woo.

Got bored enough and it was time to sit, that I kitted up a Sweetheart Tree fob that there are many copies of to make as a shop model. About two hours of work later, I realize I've made a terrible error and need to start over. Oops. Oh well. This time I'll just start with the eyelets instead of the backstitching. And go on from there. Just a bit a DMC and my time wasted. But I was covering the phone, which seems to ring a lot even if I wasn't seeing real people. Even called a friend who rode to my rescue with homemade oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies and brought her knitting and stayed with me a while.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Finish, Part Deux

Thanks for the nice comments, both here and in other forums.

I've got to give a ton of credit to the designer, Laura J. Perin. When I took this class, the teacher came up with four colorways and I came up with mine which was the fifth. We also got to see it stitched with mostly the original called for materials and had one other stitched version available to us in a totally different colorway. This means I have now seen this piece stitched with the:

original colorway
light green/sage green
blue to teals
green and red
and my black version

And every one of them works! Though it takes a certain knowledge and eye to substitute colors, the reason this works is the design itself.

Anyone who would like to see more Laura J. Perin works check out her blog, Two Handed Stitcher, or Coni's blog, Spinster Stitcher, in my sidebar.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My Finish

This is my completed Amethyst Dreams, or at my house, In the Midnight Hour.

Put in the last stitches right before dinner. Off to the framers in the morning.

More on Goals, Dreams, etc.

Wendy left this quote as part of a comment on my previous post:

"The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for."
Benjamin E. Mays
American educator, clergyman, 1895-1984

Now I would say that Mr. Mays took the word goal in his first sentence and in his second sentence used it as a substitute for dream. I would define a dream as a condition or achievement that is longed for, i.e. an aspiration, and a goal is an objective or purpose towards which an endeavor is directed, or an intention. Now I suppose we can use the word goal for an idealistic or long-term purpose, which is closer to dream.

When I say I don't do goals, I mean I don't commit myself to writing down specifics. I don't say this is what I intend to do and this is when I intend to have it done specifically.

Because in reality I do have goals. Just not clearly stated. I have dreams, purpose, intentions, intents, aims, objectives. In reality I am meeting a goal today. All the stitching is finished on In the Midnight Hour except for about an hour's worth on the border. My mostly unstated goal was to finish this in time to get it framed to enter into the Woodlawn show. I am meeting what was my intention.

What was that Lewis Carroll quote - 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

PS Wendy, thanks for making me try to think about this more. And the Dr. Phil line was good!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A New Book and I Don't Do Goals

I'm driving down on the road on New Year's Day to purchase some eggs - how in the heck did I manage to run out of eggs? - and I was listening to public radio. The show was a repeat of one that I hadn't heard. Did the grocery store and stopped by my local B & N and found this book by this guy that was being interviewed.

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

I haven't read the entire book. Yet. But soon.

When I say I don't do goals, I mean I don't do goals. I don't think I ever have. Sure, I've given lip service to the idea at New Year's of resolutions, but every time I made one, I knew I had no true intention of following through for an entire year. I see bloggers listing their year goals, their monthly goals, their progress and I am astounded. Apparently my brain just doesn't think like this.

But maybe I can retrain that brain. Thanks to Dr. Maurer. Maybe it's time to see fear, failure, success, procrastination, etc. for what they truly are and confront these things. Stay tuned further developments.

In Stitching News:

I think I've got less than 10 hours to go on In the Midnight Hour. Things keep getting in the way of that last big push. But I finished all the remaining tent stitching yesterday which is time consuming. There's very little bare canvas remaining. I'm looking forward to bringing this to the framer sometime this week. If I can carve out time from my schedule. As this coming week, I'm subbing for my LNS owner while she takes a vacation with her daughter to California.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

To start the new year, a new blogger on my list - Stitchin' Blues. I've only read the newest posts and am happy to continue.

We went to a party last and night and got home at 3 a.m. Wow. Just like I was 20 again.

I made a ham, mac n cheese, collard greens, and corn for dinner. And am beginning the process of ignoring desert in 2009. Which is easy for me as I'd rather have a bag of chips than a chocolate bar.

I thought maybe I'd finish In the Midnight Hour today, but I don't think so. Will be sometime in the next few days. Tomorrow is DH's birthday and we're going to the Blues Alley in Georgetown to see Mose Allison. Now that's a birthday treat to start the new year off right.