Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So here is my entry into Anna's Swirlygig Challenge. I used 28 ct Lugana, white with opalescence. And though it may be difficult to tell with the photograph, I used 5 different tealish overdyed flosses by Carrie's Creations.

Notice my initials are slightly darker, rather than doing the designer's initials.

I haven't decided what if any further to do with this piece. I could make a cording. Or a silk ribbon bow might look nice.

Beware of Sharp Needles

Now I remember why I don't usually play with sharp needles. Because eventually I will wound myself.

I was stitching right along on my inner ring of petals on my crewel piece and somehow managed to jam that needle under my thumbnail. Ouch. So much for stitching and Jeopardy watching. As it was bleeding I decided to put the stitching down rather than risk blood stains. The Tudor Rose should get finished today if the wrapped part doesn't take too long.

Now if I could find my battery charger for my camera, I would post a photo. Have I seen it since we returned from North Carolina? I think so. But it apparently didn't get returned to its proper spot.

I had a shopping cart hanging out at Nordic Needle waiting for me to go through it and edit and finally pay for it. I've got some Hardanger fabric coming that I think will work better for my Correspondence Course. At least I hope it works better than what I have. Otherwise I'm going to have to rethink this entirely. I included some miscellaneous sale stuff in my order and now I don't want to wait to receive it all.

Also ordered Jane Nicholas' Medieval Floral Stumpwork book from Amazon. My needlework library is growing. Soon I may have to impose limits. No new books without donating an old book. (That's what I do with my cookbooks. Otherwise I'd have way too many.) I've got storage issues. There are seven large bookcases in this house already. And I don't have room for more. I know I've got many older needlepoint books from the 70s that I will never use. But it was fun collecting them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A New Week

It's Monday. I've already watched Mad Men. I watched the first 20 minutes last night and the remainder this morning with breakfast. I had the last 3 episodes recorded and watched them this past weekend. And I came to the realization that Sally is my sister. Same age. Same Barbie doll. I don't think my sister ever did ballet lessons though. I can wish that I had a picture of her in a tutu, but I don't. Ah the blackmail possibilities of that.

I've been moving right along on my crewel piece and should finish it this week. Though part of me is screaming to go pick up my canvas. All the leaves are finished and I'm almost through the first ring of petals. I've decided I am not a huge fan of the coral stitch. Photo soon...

I'm jealous of those who are packing and planning for the EGA National Seminar. Though I'm hoping to read some fabulous reports of the goings on. Next year Seminar is in San Francisco. Is there way for me to make that happen? I hope so.

Meanwhile I can look forward to Smart Days in October in Culpeper and mini-regional in Fredericksburg in the spring.

I keep seeing new owl things. Just Nan has Hootzi Humbug and a pin.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue

I've had this magazine for nearly two weeks now. And I had fully intended to do an in-depth critique.

But it seems I can't.

It's so ho-hum that there is nothing here to excite me and make me want to write.

I don't mind that they reorganized how things are presented. I do mind that they reorganized badly. By that I mean, they still have some ornaments that have the color key on one page and the graph on another. How difficult it is to get all the pertinent info on one page? How hard would it have been to tell the designers that the recipes would all be in one section - so they could have not been embarrassed by the "here's my recipe" which isn't here at all, but somewhere else.

And what's with the sheep? I see four ornies with sheep and only the one with a flock grazing makes any type of Christmas sense to me. Not that I don't like sheep. Flamingos and Christmas make no sense either, but at least there's one only designer doing flamingos. And only one doing dragons.

This issue isn't going to make my head explode. But it's not going to do anything, but sit on the shelf either. Color me disappointed.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Here's a link to a NY Times article on spider's silk. Gossamer Silk, from Spiders Spun.

If you go the Museum's link you can even watch a video...

I admit to being the tiniest bit creeped out, too. But this is a good reason to pop in to the Natural History Museum soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shifting Gears

I swear that lately I've been shifting my stitching gears faster than a Formula 1 car on the road from Bernau am Chiemsee to Bertchsgaden. Canvas work to crewel to counted. Hardanger to counted to canvas. I'm not certain this is good for me.


Today was class with Pamela Darney of Guild House Samplers on making your own Quaker diamond sampler. Saw yards and yards of Glorianna - enough to make you swoon old school style. She referred to this as the class of a thousand decisions. Yup. I can see that.

And while a part of me wants to play the thousand decision game, I don't have that much free stitching time right now. So I have decided to use one Glorianna overdyed silk floss on some 32ct Glenshee. That will be my class piece. We meet again for show and tell in January.

And then I picked a slightly more complicated color scheme to do something for my bedroom in a larger size. Yes. I kitted two new projects today.

Did I mention I started stitching a new piece last night? Just a little pin. For Halloween. But today I bought some of DMC's Memory Thread in black to use on said pin. We'll see how it goes. They do have piece using it in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now that looks interesting.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome, Autumn

Here's my progress on my Tudor Rose crewel piece. That's long and short with buttonhole edging. A fishbone leaf. And the start of the stem in outline.

It's fun to change up what I'm stitching.

I also picked up my piece to mail yesterday. Someone's getting a birthday gift soon.

Things I want today:

to find a cute screwdriver to keep with my hoop, something in pink perhaps?

2nd season of the Big Bang Theory on DVD

more hours in the day - I shouldn't have stayed up till 1 a.m. Truly I guess I shouldn't have had those two diet colas in the middle of the afternoon - I hardly ever drink the stuff any more and apparently that was enough to keep me awake. But I did get to watch most of the last National Treasure movie, see the Red Sox score (how did they manage to blow that lead?), see President Obama on David Letterman, and one old episode of Roseanne on Nick.

I guess we are getting 12 hours of clouds to match the 12 hours of darkness here in northern Virginia. Oh well. Sunshine would have been nice. Happy Autumn, everyone.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Knew I Liked Her

But now I know I love her.

Yesterday's Washington Post included a Bookworld for the first time since they discontinued it. All because of the National Book Festival next weekend.

But I digress.

I'm here to talk about Margaret Drabble.

She wrote a piece for the Writing Life about her new book, The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws.

Here's the part that will interest us:

My controlling metaphor in the book is the jigsaw puzzle...but I note that I have also invoked metaphors drawn from the half-arts(as Goethe called them) of needlework and crafts. Writing and stitching have something in common, to me, and this is not because I am a good needlewoman (I am not) but because the patient assembling and incremental growth of a piece of text, as of a piece of tapestry, offer similar satisfactions. Writing offers terrors that stitching mercifully lacks: hopeless failure, self-disgust, existential despair. You don't suffer those emotions when working on a needlepoint cushion.

Ah. The existential despair of stitching. Does it exist?

Saturday's Class

On Saturday I had a workshop with Maggie Fraser on crewel work. As someone who was self-taught on how to do crewel back in the late 1960s, I definitely needed a refresher.

Maggie is an amazing needleworker and I have the slides to prove it. As historian for our guild I've been slowly digitizing slides that were taken in the early years of our EGA chapter's existence. Of the first two years, maybe 50% of the slides that are all finished projects, were stitched by Maggie.

Our piece is called the Tudor Rose. It's a blue rose based on research into a piece that EGA National owns. And even though I couldn't afford it at the time, I did get to admire the amazing wooden boxes that Maggie's husband makes. You can view his artistry here at Sylvan Treasures. This is now a Petit Project available through the EGA.

I'm not totally thrilled with my first petal, but the subsequent ones are looking better. And I still love the fishbone stitch. I've got maybe 7 or 8 crewel projects hanging out in the stash. And this should get me moving on them. Photos maybe tomorrow? Overslept. Got things to do...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Swirlygig Voting

Let the voting begin over on Anna's blog for the Swirlygig challenge.

Now maybe I should go and see why Michael's hasn't called me about picking up that gift that I'm having framed. Was supposed to ready yesterday. Did I give them the wrong phone number? Heck, even if I did, I'm in the phone book.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

If you need any ideas for stitching, see Jane at the Chilly Hollow in my sidebar blogs.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Can you see my little friend?

My little ghost crab kept popping up from underground to see what I was doing. Occasionally it was doing a little light housework, too. As for me, I was enjoying my berth near the dune and reading the Memory Keeper's Daughter.

In stitching news:

I received my Beginning Hardanger Correspondence Course from Marion Scoular. As always with hardanger, I am disappointed that there aren't more colors of DMC #12, but I think I've found something I can work with. The ivory fabric I have doesn't work and maybe it's time to place an order with Nordic Needle. I'm off to browse.

Can't show you my latest finish. Or the one before that. But I'm hoping to soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

While I Was Away

While I was on Ocracoke Island enjoying things like this sunset, I received a voicemail from my son. Only thing is I'd left my phone in the room. And then the next morning I realized there was this text message from him on Twitter about pimping a cane like House.

So 14 hours after he called me, I realized he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. Don't worry. He's fine. Bike is not. I'm driving down to Fredericksburg today to bring him a mountain bike and retrieve the broken road bike. Will see about getting it fixed. Needs a new front wheel and drops. The fork looks okay, but we'll see what the pros say at the bike shop.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Oops. I missed it. I knew that one of my original posts back in 2003 had to do with Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is September 19th. And I got busy and didn't look back and assumed it was this week. And thus missed my own blogaversary which was September 3rd. Six years, baby.

Not too shabby.

Once again I renew my vow to try to post with regularity. I'm not promising pretty, or witty, or thoughtful. It is what it is.

Home from the Sea


Me. Stitching in public. On the Hatteras Ferry to Ocracoke Island.


First night on Ocracoke. We visited the beach. Admired the light. Enjoyed how few other people were there. Then went and had a dinner that couldn't be beat at the Back Porch complete with Crab Beignets and fresh Ocracoke clams.


We're in pirate land here. Blackbeard's favorite anchorage is just offshore at Teach's Hole. And it's where he was overtaken and beheaded. Legend has it his headless body swam around his ship two or three or seven times.

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The lighthouse on Ocracoke. Built in 1822 it came nearly 50% under budget at around $11,000 and is still operating today. Now there's a government project that one can admire.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Outer Banks Time

The Bodie Lighthouse. Stopped on our way down to Ocracoke Island.

The Ocracoke Lighthouse through the cedars.

Looking into the woods...

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At the shore.

Did I mention I'm having a great time? No time to write. Off to get dinner and then on to see some live music.

Edit: Not sure why this photo isn't showing up except as a link.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Don't Forget

There is a challenge going on over at the Stitch Bitch.

Photos are due in less than two weeks.

I can't say for certain that I will finish this challenge, but I did start it last night. And took it in a totally different direction than I thought I would.


To make this a bigger challenge for myself, I cut my thumb on the mandoline while slicing potatoes for potato salad. Not bad enough to need stitches. But enough to require the wearing of the bandage. Making needle holding weirdly uncomfortable.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


I signed up for the Marion Scoular Beginner Hardanger Group Correspondence Course.

I'm not a complete beginner. But I am self-taught.

Yesterday evening, sitting outside before dinner, I was working on my Captain's Rellek. And having solved my silk n pearl dilemma, I stitched the kloster blocks with Elegance. Then I sat there talking with hubby who was smoking a before dinner cigar, gleefully cutting away the threads and I realized that I once used to dread cutting threads away from a stitched piece. But now I love it.

Mostly I think it's being proud of myself when I get it right. And if I ever get it wrong, I will probably face cutting threads with despair and loathing again. But for now, I am doing a little happy Hardanger dance. And I don't have to bring my Hardanger scissors with me on vacation. They can stay home in their drawer. Where they belong. Those sharp little darlings.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Apologies

Apologies to Michelle of Michelle Ink Designs. I thought I had the Silk n Pearl that was called for in the supply list, but no. I had the wrong one. Which would explain why Autumn Rose didn't seem to belong in a ship's sail to me.

I solved my problem of the missing fiber with some white Elegance.

Captain's Rellek

First, let me say I love the fabric I picked for this. Picture This Plus' DaVinci. Mine has less brown than what is pictured here. I started at the top and right away realized that I have a bone to pick with the designer, Michelle. The very top sail of the boat is stitched with a thread that isn't listed on the supply list. And it just says pearl 30/3 in the directions. Okay. Sigh.

So I started stitching just below the topsail yesterday morning at stitch group. And wouldn't you know, a couple of hours later I realized I miscounted nearly right at the beginning. OH NO!

Decision time. Not frogging. Will continue and adjust as I go. I can hardly believe the first thing I did was make an error. And this is what I get for starting new projects out in public and not while hiding away in my house by myself. LOL

I had almost gone to Needlewoman East yesterday before stitching group. My plan was to be there waiting when they opened the doors at 10 a.m. I needed some Anchor floss for one of my vacation projects. But because I was lazy and s-l-o-w yesterday morning, I didn't make it.

Instead I headed there after stitching group. And thus found some Rainbow Gallery Elegance that should work for the topsail. Came home and tried it out on the edge of the fabric and it will suffice.

Meanwhile, what other surprises are in store for me with this piece?

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Okay while the Red Sox were busy last night playing catch up and making me think they could maybe make the Rays lose...I was busy picking out new/old projects to take to the beach.

What could be more fun than picking out vaca-stitching?

Let's see what I came up with:

Point Pinos Lighthouse kit that I picked up at Cabrillo National Monument gift shop two years ago. Kit comes with a light blue Aida. I've been through what is left of my fabric stash and have a few choices in blue. None of them looked terrific to me. But I will bring them to stitch group today and see what others think.

A great blue heron design that I barely started earlier this year. I'd like to make a tiny bit of progress on this one - something worthy of a photo.

Michelle Ink's "Captain's Rellek." I think I got the spelling correct. Pirate ships and mermaids and treasure oh my.

A Sudberry House shaker pincushion that has a sailing ship in a bay. Can't remember the details on this one. But it's not large. But the pattern is printed on some paper designed to prevent copying and I find it annoying to look at. Oh well.

These are the four projects I've decided to bring with me. I left behind some other mighty candidates like the Cricket Collection's Skeleton Crew. Which is highlighted in this SAL blog. And a nautical themed series of smalls. And the Victoria's Sampler Mystic Needlework.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Magazine Reviews

Yesterday I managed to find not one, but two new magazines. The September issue of Piecework was in the PX at Ft. Belvoir - imagine my suprise - and I got to look at it over lunch (Philly cheese steak and lemonade - yum!)

First thing that struck me was the ad on the inside over for Waverly Wool by the Brown Sheep Co. I'd never heard this 100% Persian wool for needlepoint before. Looks interesting. But I checked on their website and I don't see anyone near me that's carrying it. Will keep my eyes open though when traveling and shopping.

This is the minatures issue. I'm in love with minatures and yes I'm thrilled by this magazine.

First we have a wonderful piece about Eloise Kruger and her amazing minatures collection which is housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Wow. And yes, there is a pattern for a flamestitched cushion for a minature chair.

Next is an article on simple looping. Hmmm. What to do when you have yarn, but no knitting needles or crochet hooks. There's a pattern available for downloading on the website.

Next we have Quaker Pinballs. Knit Quaker patterns. Will this Quaker madness never end? Not any time soon. I have a class later this month for a Quaker medallion as taught by Pam Darney. They have nicely included a photo of the pattern as cross-stitched for those of us who don't knit. Maybe this would make a nice Christmas ornament?

Then we have a Frank Cooper minature rug to needlepoint. On 18ct canvas it is 9" by 15" - didn't anyone want to do this on 40ct silk gauze?

How about a knit lace tablecloth? I've got to say the photo of this in progress on 5 needles intimidates me. Totally.

A lovely article on differentiating the terms crewel and Jacobean. This one has a Jacobean floral punchneedle pattern.

But the thing I am most likely to do for myself is the Grand Prize winner of the 2009 brooch contest. A Butter"scotch" brooch and earrings in needlepoint by Sharlotte A. Devere. Love the colors.

Also we have a vintage baby booties pattern and a doll-sized tatted collar. And reviews of books and new products. The usual stuff. Good issue.

And then, later, at Everything Cross Stitch in Fredericksburg I found the just released November issue of Cross-Stitch and Needlework. Hmm. So new it isn't on their website yet? Come on people - get with the program.

I'm not sure why we have a bit of an argyle pattern in the middle of an owl, but it's cute in a strange way. With those stumpy little cigar shaped wings, this owl is looking rather cartoonish. But it is another owl...

The Thanksgiving door pattern. Sigh. Why the green and white checked border? Not in love with this one. I think it's a hot mess as someone might say on Project Runway.

Now the falling leaves. Okay. Now you've got me. The maple and birch(beech, whatever it is) leaves are terrific. Gingko leaves are not shaped right. I should know...

Finally we come to something worth the price. A terrific article on Phillipa Turnbull, the British Queen of Crewel. Pretty pictures. Includes a pattern.

A so-so Stitcher's Sampler. I don't see any compelling reason to stitch this. Very pedestrian.

I like the Acorns and Oak Leaves table topper. Not that I would stitch it. That many oak leaves would drive me batty. But I can see doing the acorns as napkin rings as they have pictured.

I really like the marigold fields cushion. And I'm pretty certain I can stitch better spiderweb roses. This one I may do.

There's 3 or 4 more patterns in this magazine. Not a total wash. But not a home run either.