Saturday, May 30, 2009

Use Labels

I think I know when I took this class on painting your canvas. But looking back in my blog, I don't see it mentioned. Either I didn't write about it, or I have the incorrect time frame.
Doesn't matter really. But I should really, really start to use my labels...

This floral piece is from a class on painting your own hand-painted canvases. I didn't think the peonies should be purple, so I changed to pinks. Obviously. What we did. The teacher had a color copy of her hand-painted canvas. And a line drawing of the canvas. We place the drawing under the canvas and drew it onto the canvas. And then painted it. Truly that simple. Just used regular acrylic craft paints. Though since then I've been turned onto a better quality paint, such as Golden or Liquitex.

I'm using the wonderful Vineyard silks for the flowers. Feels heavenly. Great coverage. I've got Splendor for the leaves and stems. And I see where I picked up some Impressions and Mandarin for the background, but am reconsidering those choices.

The other little piece is a Sekas kit for a scissor fob. That's what I did in one night. Almost done already. Called for blues, but I had greens in my stash.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blessings of the Group

The view from along the Marginal Way in Maine.
Something peaceful for photo Friday.

The second time I joined the EGA in 2002 - the first time running into a group that wasn't so welcoming - I found a home. I was delighted and inspired to meet other people who shared my passion for fiber and thread and things that could be accomplished with a needle in hand. It was particularly wonderful because I hadn't found anyone else to share stitching time with me. Seeing what wonderful projects everyone was working on each month made me want to do more, do better, and learn new things. Not to mention the classes and teachers and projects. Oh my!

I was happy to move back to northern Virginia in 2005 and find an EGA chapter that had the same wonderful kind of members. This was good.

Then I met some online stitching friends in real life. One relationship turned into a true friendship and when we meet or talk we always come back around to the stitching even if we have other things to discuss first.

And then I took a class at my LNS. I met two other women in that class and briefly thought I'd made some new friends, but they disappeared into the ether as so often happens in our busy world. But this class inspired me to go to the shop's morning stitching group on Thursdays. And when I joined them, it was frequently two or three of us and the shop owner.

But something happened. More and more people started showing up. And returning. Now there's too many of us to fit around the table. I eagerly look forward to my Thursday mornings each week. We're never sure how many of us will be there. But it's a certainty that someone will have a finish or a new project to share. That we'll all start talking at once and things will get loud. Or maybe we'll all be concentrating on our work and things will get quiet. And then someone will point out how quiet it has gotten and off we'll go on a new round of talk and laughter.

And even though the shop is closing, the group is going on. We're making plans. A new place, but the same time. And maybe we'll make some more new friends. Because we've all come to rely on this group. We understand the quirks of stitchers. Too many new projects (Wait a minute. There's no such thing as too many.) A one-project-at-a-time stitcher. The need to fondle silk threads. The love of color. What was this designer thinking? Just one more stitch, then I'll make dinner. Just let me finish this thread.

May you all be blessed with such groups.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Obituary from the Post

Virginia Textile Artist Had a Knack for Knitting

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Witt Pratt, 48, a masterful knitter whose sweaters, shawls, purses, scarves and other utilitarian items were essentially works of art, died May 20 of probable sleep apnea at what his mother called "his favorite place on earth," a mountain cabin near Front Royal, Va.

Mr. Pratt lived in Winchester, Va., and Arlington County but knitted wherever he happened to be -- in the gardens around Washington National Cathedral; in parks, coffeehouses and museums; at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown; on the Metro. Trained as a costume and clothing designer at George Washington University, he held jobs over the years at a Washington law firm and Gallaudet University, but knitting was the focal point of his life. For him, taking a skein of yarn and transforming it into something beautiful and useful was "creation in motion," he told Dan Vera, publisher of the journal White Crane.

"Like so many things, if we take the time to notice, when you've got a ball of yarn, which to many of us represents nothing short of infinite possibility, the world just opens up before you," he said. "I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found this for myself."

He had been playing around with knitting, origami and other forms of weaving since he was a boy, but he remembered when he got serious about it. He told the Washington Times in 1997 that he was attending an Adams Morgan dinner party and noticed that the hostess had a loom and a bag of yarns. "Her loom and the yarn were far more interesting than the dinner guests," he recalled. "At one point during the evening, she asked if I was interested in learning to knit."

He was. At first awkwardly and then gracefully wielding needles, he learned casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, binding off and other knitting basics at the Woolgatherer on 21st Street NW. Gradually his work became more sophisticated, more creative. He became particularly adept at an innovative knitting technique popularized by Elizabeth Zimmerman called the Moebius cast-on.

"The more complicated, the more intrigued he was," said his mother, Bobbye Pratt of Arlington. "Anything casual knitters couldn't do is what fascinated him."

Although knitting in centuries past was primarily a masculine enterprise, the stereotypical knitter these days is female. A Washington Post reporter once asked Mr. Pratt whether residents of a sophisticated urban center like Washington even take note of a knitter's gender. "Oh, but they do," he said. "When I was little and knitted, I was a sissy; well now I'm a 6-foot-8-inch sissy with a sharp instrument."

Witt Guise Pratt was born in Memphis and was named for his grandfather, Witt Guise, a baseball player who pitched for the Cincinnati Reds. He grew up in McLean and graduated in 1978 from Langley High School, where he learned German, won German-language oratory contests and as a teenager traveled to Germany on his own.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from George Washington University in 1985, he became a legal secretary in the Washington office of the international law firm Nixon Peabody. He later learned American Sign Language and worked in information technology for Gallaudet University.

As knitting became more important to him, he became a consultant to a number of knitting organizations and wrote for various knitting publications.

He also helped found the Logan Circle Knit & Crochet Group, an all-male organization that meets twice a month for knitting and socializing. Although members of the group come from all walks of life -- a security guard, lawyers, government workers, a man trying to knit a lap blanket for his girlfriend -- Mr. Pratt once noted that the men all face the same existential question: whether to "come out" and knit in public. "I long for the day when it's not a big deal," he said.

His father, George Pratt, died in 2001.

Survivors, in addition to his mother, include his partner of eight years, Gary Wilt of Winchester; and his sister, Kelly Pratt of Austin.

I have to agree with him. "I long for the day when it's not a big deal." Love the coming out metaphor. Though I don't think it's an existential question.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Huck Weaving

Not that I think that I've tried everything that is possible with a needle in hand, but I'm always pleasantly surprised when I get to try something I haven't done yet. Today it was Huck, or Swedish Weaving. However you want to call it. This was our class at our EGA chapter meeting.

Easy. I chose DMC Perle #5 and it slipped right through the fabric and in short order I had a pattern developing on my toweling. I'm going to finish this doodle cloth and then we'll see what else develops. I'd be working on it right now, but my neighbor (we live in a townhouse) has workers outside with jackhammers. Not sure how much longer I can stand this.

That Box

There's this box that haunts me. It was under the stairs until this last round of organizing of the stash. In this box are my projects where the stitching is finished, but they are not finished. You know what I mean. And their accompanying instructions are with them. Not sure why I do that. I think it started when I some of them still needed their buttons attached or something like that.

Last night I thought maybe I could actually finish finish a project. Instead I got sucked into that box. (After I found it. I couldn't see it buried under a stack of books.) Pulled everything out. Unwrapped the stitched stuff. Sorted into piles. Things I like to take for framing soon. Things that will be framed someday - put those back in the box. Things I can finish on my own. With my sewing machine, some matboard, and/or fabric. Maybe even some glue. Some of these pieces I stitched so quickly I barely remember them.

By the time I took my I-can-finish-this-myself pile back upstairs I had run out of energy to attempt anything. But by next week I'd like to at least finish some ornaments. Maybe a pillow. And a flat-fold or two. I've Judy Odell's finishing book for reference.

I should have taken a photo...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Memorial Day Story

In all the genealogy that my sister and I have done, we have only discovered one ancestor that died while serving in the military. This would be my great-great-great grandfather.

Charles Henry Willey was born in 1836 in New Hampshire and died in 1864 in Salisbury, NC.
I have an official version of his death from the National Archives records.Members of his regiment were captured in fighting around Weldon Railroad in Virginia and he was taken to a prison camp in NC. In a sworn statement, a fellow soldier gave an account of the events that occurred in this Confederate prison camp that led to Charles' death. In this statement, the sergeant swore that Charles was not involved in the prison riot and that he was accidentally shot in the leg. This leg wound led to an infection which killed him. I think that this statement needs some between the lines reading. I would guess that Charles was part of the riot when some of the prisoners were attempting to escape. And that the sergeant swore otherwise in order to guarantee the survivor's pension for Charles' wife, Mary. Mary was left to raise six children on her own and outlived her husband by 41 years. She never remarried.

Someday I intend to drive south and see what I can find of these places. I have no idea where Charles in buried. His body wasn't returned to NH.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Caught Up

I'm all caught up with my blog reading and I've got to say that there are some very talented people out there. I wish I could meet all of them and see the pretties in person. Not to mention that some of you are very prolific. Makes me want to go sit and stitch the day away. But the garden is calling and needs some attention. Especially as I went to the nursery yesterday.

There was some sad news in the Washington Post today. The obituary of Ray Dockstader, needlepoint artist extraordinaire. I've admired his original artworks at the Woodlawn Needlework Show for years. His talent will be missed.

Last night was Stitch N Pitch here in Washington, D.C. They lost a close game. I brought my Sunflower Seed cross stitch - "When Life Hands You Lemons...." Didn't get a ton of stitching accomplished as I started outlining the word lemons in green and didn't like it and pulled it out. I guess I will do this with the yellow instead. Somehow this word needs more definition on the yellow fabric. That's what comes of changing colors willy nilly.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two Finishes

First finish - Thursday night, By the Bay's Spooky Hill. Yup, I changed the words to Sleepy Hollow as it is the headless horseman. These are the colors called for which are a far cry from the photo on the chart. Much better this way.

Second finish - Friday night. Supper can wait till I finish these dove's eyes...The Norway International Heart from The Victoria Sampler. Things I changed - I did an algerian eyelet the top of the heart instead of four cross stitches with metallic...left out the random metallic cross stitches...and used long-armed cross for the white bands instead of just cross stitch. I like it. Will finish it as an ornament for the Christmas tree. And I've got a few more of these in the stash.

Lesson learned: I can stitch in the car! I would say 90% of the heart was stitched in the car on this last NH trip. Lugana, 25ct made things much easier. I even cut out the hardanger threads. Cue the Saturday Night Live commercial of a .... Those who know, know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Natasha - you're the lucky one!

You can find my email link in my profile down there on the sidebar somewhere. Send me your IRL address and you'll have a package winging its way to you via USPS.

I'm off to drive DD to the airport. In Baltimore. Hmmm. Guess that means I can stop for 10 minutes in the Stitching Post. Got to get back in time for a luncheon. The biscuits are in the oven right now this very minute the timer just went off...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Attempting to Catch Up

Done some laundry. Went to the dry cleaners and the post office. And the first thing I did with my mail when I got home was tear open my new issue of Needlepoint Now so I could read the Spinster Stitcher's new column.

Made myself read through the whole magazine and the powers that be are saving the best for last as Coni's column is the last page. Congratulations! Well done! Looking forward to following this adventure.

Came downstairs to check and be certain that the word sleepy was slept s-l-e-e-p-y. I stitched it and it didn't look quite right to me. I hate when that happens. I only need to backstitch the word - hollow - and I'll be finished with Spooky Hill.

Woefully Behind

It make forever for me to catch up on my blog reading (well, actually till Saturday or so...)

I haven't forgotten my drawing that was supposed to be held on May 13th. Will do it today and have recent diploma recipient do the picking. Package is ready for mailing. I did manage to do that before leaving town.

I'm totally discombobulated from traveling. Don't change any time zones, but sleep patterns change and that 10 hour drive is grueling even when you're not the one doing all the driving.

Tomorrow DD leaves for Alaska where she'll be working with the little fishes again this summer. She'll return mid-July and drive her new used car that we're giving her back to school. And then we won't see her again till winter break. How could four years pass so quickly? Wasn't my husband just retiring from the Army yesterday?

The good news is that I discovered that I can stitch in the new car if I pick the correct project. I did 90% of an international heart by The Victoria Sampler. Even cut out the threads for hardanger. Just need to wrap the bars and do the dove's eyes. Also started the Marigold sampler that was in Cross Stitch and Needlework magazine a year or so ago. Pictures tomorrow or more likely Saturday as things are still quite busy around here. Now I'm off to visit my friends at Thursday morning stitch in.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am now the proud parent of a college graduate. The rain nicely held off all day during the ceremony, but it was cold outside. I even stitched some during ceremony. We need to go back tomorrow and remove the remainder of her stuff from her room. Not looking forward to that.

Had cake and champagne with some of the family.

And now we're tired, but happy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's in a Title?

Meh. I hate when words fail me. Just spent two whole minutes contemplating a title for this post. When what I'm going to do is mostly ramble...too much pressure. Of the self-inflicted kind.

Which got me thinking about the actual word - title. Origins - c.1303, "inscription, heading," from O.Fr. title (12c.), and in part from O.E. titul, both from L. titulus "inscription, heading," of unknown origin. Meaning "name of a book, play, etc." first recorded c.1340. The sense of "name showing a person's rank" is first attested 1590. The verb meaning "to furnish with a title" is attested from 1387.

Interesting. A word with origins from both Latin and Old English. How can that be? Not often that the English language has two sources merging into one word. Where's a copy of the OED when I need one?

Though I was thinking of the word title as the referent used to identify a literary, artistic, or other work, I am reminded of all the other meanings of title. Like professional titles, academic titles, military titles, ecclesiastic titles, titles for heads of state, etc. Hereditary titles. Title as denoting ownership of property like a car title. Job titles. Championship titles.

I love titles. Good ones, that is. Like with movies. If it's forgettable, it's a bad title, . Like "Taken" or "Push." One word titles have to be unique to be good. Like "Fanboys."

Eh? What's in a title? Everything.

Rambling over. Stitching news now. Finished all the cross stitching on Spooky Hill. Just backstitching to go. Now I have to decide what to take with me to NH. And I have a large pile of choices.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What I Did Instead of Stitching

On Saturday I worked at the store, my local needlework store that is closing.

And one of the store's most wonderful friends and teachers, came in to do what she does so well. Kit up.

She pulled pattern after pattern out of her bag and we found fabric for them. Mostly just fabric, but also some threads. I think this lasted for nearly two hours.

This got me thinking.

Instead of stitching yesterday, I went through that stack of patterns that has slowly been growing over the past year to see what I really wanted to add to the pile of projects ready to stitch.

That was step one.

Step two. Go through the project box of completely and partially kitted projects and make sure I have fabric and fibers for all that is in there.

Step three. Sit on the bed with this pile of patterns, mostly unkitted, some partially kitted, and make a master list of said patterns and what is needed for them.

Step four. Flip to back of notebook where there's a page filled with numbers as I decided to write down fabric cut size, not design size for each pattern. I love doing math in my head, but sometimes it helps to write things down. Continue to flip back and forth between this page and the master list pages.

Step five. Pull out box of assorted silks. Sort said silks into these categories:

  1. Silk N Colors
  2. Waterlilies
  3. Needlepoint Inc.
  4. Au Ver Au Soie
  5. Belle Soie
  6. assorted miscellaneous silks
Step six. Go through master list and match silk threads to projects. Put silk away.

Step seven. Sort boxes of metallics, Watercolours and perle cottons, Wildflowers and Flower Thread.

Step eight. Match these threads to list. Put these boxes away.

Step nine. Sort box of overdyed cottons into the following:

  1. Crescent Colours
  2. GAST
  3. Weeks Dye Works
  4. Carrie's Creations
  5. assorted other cotton overdyed fiber
Step ten. Make sure you can still get up off the floor and move. Stiff, but okay.

Step eleven. Match these threads to master list. Put cottons away.

Step twelve. My goal all along when I started finally reached - time to go through linen stash.

Step thirteen. Sort fabric into following categories:

  1. Ornament cuts - too small to be useful in this endeavor.
  2. linen banding which I don't need right now
  3. fabric to sell at EGA estate sale this summer - in this pile things I don't like to stitch on which includes evenweaves like Lugana and Monaco
  4. cheap ass linen from Charles Craft - I think most of this was given to me, but I'll keep it for emergencies
  5. the good stuff
Step fourteen. Admire the good stuff. Cashel and Belfast. Lakeside Linens and Crossed Wing. Picture This Plus. Oooh, the colors. And don't forget that small collection of 40ct plus linen from Italy, including a piece of 50 ct - oh my what was I thinking?

Step fifteen. Start matching fabric to master list. Put fabric with patterns and fibers. Place completely kitted projects in projects ready to stitch box. Uh oh. Gonna run out of room in that box.

Step sixteen. Place partially kitted and have to get everything patterns in bag to take to store on Tuesday. Along with master list.

Step seventeen. Admire completely decimated fabric stash. Wow. I was more successful at this than I thought I would be. Some of this fabric that has found patterns has been in my stash for 10, 15, even 20 years. It has been purchased in Germany, Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, California, Colorado, New Jersey, and New York. Some of it was acquired by mail.

Step eighteen. Completely exhausted as this took several hours, I decide not to count the number of projects I have that are now kitted. Why bother scaring myself?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Things are terrific for me, even if I did have to my daughter on a plane yesterday so she is not here.

Bought the large Gel Pro mat last weekend for the kitchen. Standing at the sink and counter now a pleasure instead of a pain. That was my request for a present. And now that they are carrying these at Bed, Bath, and Beyond you can use a discount coupon.

My sous-chef son (he's my sous-chef, not a professional) made waffles, eggs, bacon and fresh fruit.

The sun is shining. Must be a good day.

Hope everyone else finds some measure of joy and peace in this day.

Off to stitch now.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

No Winners, but I'm the Loser

Why I am the loser:

Because people waste my time by not making full disclosures. FIOS installer arrived nearly two hours after he called and said he'd be there in 45 he was outside the installation window by nearly one full hour. Okay. I can live with that. But what went horribly wrong after was that he went outside and said we didn't have a ground and he couldn't install. So being the smart person I am I asked why my neighbors have had this installed. He went back and looked and oh. Everyone else is grounded to the cold water pipe which is not up to code and he won't do that. Now I have to call an electrician and have a ground installed. So no FIOS for us.Fortunately I hadn't called and canceled anything yet. My ESP at work. All this could have been prevented by a person asking if we had a ground when we called and asked to sign up.

Then the silly people came from the SA and rejected my furniture. Seems the stuff they pick up here does not go to the store, but gets resold to someone else with very high standards. Rejected desk, chair and nightstand for chipped paint. Told me my white craft cabinets were chipped (I think not!), and though they initially took my two IKEA chairs, they returned them because of cat hair! At which point they asked if anyone had explained the standards to me when I arranged for pick up over the phone. Of course not. Wasted trip for them. Frustration for me.

Whatever people. Had a lovely dinner out with my family. DD returns to school today. I'm going to the shop to help with the hoards who are willing to spend their money now that the business is going out of business. If a few more of these people had been willing to part with their cash a few months ago, this would not be happening.

My progress on Spooky Hill. I have stitched a bit more on this. Just need to finish going across the bottom and then it's on to the backstitching.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Who Will Arrive First?

I've got the FIOS installation happening today and because I knew I'd be home all day, I invited the Salvation Army over to pick up some extra furniture. :-)

Who's gonna get here first? FIOS takes 4-6 hours. How much fun can this be?

Meanwhile, house is clean 'cause we invited a couple of friends over for dinner last night. This translates to me getting to sit and stitch today. Maybe finish Spooky Hill. And the sun looks like it might cooperate for a while and I may get to take some photos. I'm off to watch Monday night's episode of House that I DVRd before I'm disconnected.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Glitzy Accessories

I'm taking this online class through the Shining Needle Society. If you are unaware of the Shining Needle Society, you could google them. Or you could join them on Yahoo!Groups. Their mission statement runs like this:

"To provide nurturing and inspiring opportunities for growth in the study of needlework, with the hope of continuing the legacy of embroidery art for future generations."

The class I'm taking is Glitzy Accessories by Carole Lake.

This is my first foray into the world of online classes. Everything is running smoothly thus far.

I have my instruction book with all the pretty pictures. And though I started out with one color combination, yesterday I took my DD to the Waste Knot in Arlington and picked out another set of colors. The first set was based on Watercolours "Havana" which is a green to purple. I see why I picked it originally, but when I looked at them again, I wasn't sold. Yesterday we picked a palette that matches Watercolours "Royal Jewels." I'm going to stitch the nametag first and if I don't like it, I can change again.

DD admired all the lovely canvases. And we bought her her own BLT - Best Laying Tool. Yes, the gold-plated one is lighter - I can now verify that. But we just got the regular one. Like mine. DD was talking about taking her needlepoint project back to school with her and if she wants to do that she needs a laying tool. Proper tools are important. :-)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Official

In my family, the next generation is growing up. DD at the age of 22 finally got her driver's license yesterday. And next week when my twin nieces turn 18, everyone of that generation will be an adult. Officially. Where has the time gone?

If the sun ever shines here again in northern Virginia (I hear rumors we'll see it by the weekend) I will take a photo or two. But meanwhile, it is gray and dreary and rainy. And I know I could never live in the Pacific northwest.

Been stitching on By the Bay's Spooky Hill. By the Bay is another Donna from New Hampshire though she lives there still. Here's a link to her blog. I made an error that I didn't catch until yesterday. Oops. So I matched the error on the other side and the piece will be two stitches wider on the bottom half. Good. Now I'll definitely have room to change the words from Spooky Hill to Sleepy Hollow.

I also did my bit - stitching in public yesterday. While at the DMV. I started The Victoria Sampler's international heart for Norway. It's my new carry along project. There was one guy that was sitting behind me to one side and he kind of creeped me out the way he was staring. Was glad when DD came back from her driving test and we moved.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Organizing: part eleventy-three

It seems I've blathered on about organizing here many times in the past few years. I'm always attempting to get organized. It's a process. Not a goal. LOL

I bought two Elfa units last week. Evicted all the paper crafting stuff from my closet and brought in the stitching stuff. Well, haven't quite evicted it all. I've still got two shelves worth of photo boxes that can go. Took the old student desk out of my bedroom - extremely worthless as I never use it - and will donate that to the Salvation Army. Suddenly the bedroom seems bigger. But am going to bring DD's hope chest in to that spot in front of the windows. Realized exactly how large that chair is I have in the corner. It's huge. And I am bummed that I can't place it somewhere so that I can sit there and view the TV. Maybe it is finally time to rearrange the entire room?

Love the Elfa units. I got one with wire baskets and one with mesh. Put all my needlework fabric in them. All my stretcher bars, scroll frames, Q-snaps, embroidery hoops. Put all DMC floss in one drawer (it's in floss-away bags.) Assorted other little stitchy things. Got all my boxes of projects and all my boxes of threads on top. What remains downstairs are the books. I don't have room. But I think I can make room for certain reference books like the Proper Stitch and Mary Thomas' Dictionary of Embroidery.

Still busy making all things happen for DD. Found her new hiking boots yesterday. Now I think she's fully equipped for her return trip to Alaska. She's staying for 10 weeks. Collecting little fishes called sticklebacks.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Huge Bummer

My local needlework shop is closing.

In preparation for closing,
Scarlet Thread is holding one final sale.

Effective immediately, all merchandise will be discounted by 25%-40%.
Items with a red or green dot are 30% off.
Items with a red X are 40% off.
All other items are 25% off, unless otherwise marked.


If you have special-order items awaiting pickup, please claim them by May 15.
After that, they will be put back in inventory for liquidation.

Thanks to all for a wonderful three years in Vienna.
Wish it could have continued in Great Falls.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Will Be Quiet Here

It will be quiet here for the next week. And then look for updates.

Don't forget to check out the post in April Triskaidekaphobia to enter my drawing for a surprise package.

You have until May 13th. Feel free to spread the word.