Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dyeing to Stitch

Today is our first stitching meeting for a group of intrepid needlepointers who are taking on the challenge that is Tony Minieri's "Stars for a New Millenium," heretofore referred to as Stars.

Thirty eight different threads on 18 ct canvas. How difficult can it be? LOL

But first I'm off to once again attempt to dye some Splendor to get the overdyed that I want.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Working on a Secret

Can you believe the nerve of me taking on a project that I can't write about for a whole entire year? Sorry. But that is what I have done. And that's all I can really say.

In Other News:

Monday, March 1, will be the opening of the Woodlawn Plantation Needlework Show. I love that this year they are going to attempt to put the program up online. Interesting. If anyone is planning on attending, I'll be there as a docent on Monday, March 15th. And I will be in the demo room on the second floor on Wednesday, March 10th. Stop and say hi! I can't wait to see all the wonderful work accomplished by all the talented stitchers in this year's show.

And a postscript: If you go, take note of the Phoenix Rising crewel piece stitched in purples and pinks. It was stitched by an 82 year old friend of mine! She's amazing.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Have an Answer!

Wow. The internet can be a pretty incredible place. On Wednesday I asked if anyone knew who had stitched the Stars that was entered in Woodlawn last year.

And just now I got my answer.

From the comments on my Feb. 24th post:
My name is Arlene and I live in New Jersey. It is absolutely amazing that I have stumbled onto your blog by chance at the right time, just a few days after you wrote this post. I am the anonymous stitcher who had my version of Stars hanging at Woodlawn last year.

I just pulled out my box of Woodlawn papers and such (I have entered pieces for 12 years; alas, though, not this year) and found the comment sheets sent to me last year. And there it is, SaraLeigh Merrey, Scarlet Thread. I know I emailed all those who asked about the pattern and she was one of them. I am a little thrown off (and humbled) that seeing my piece at Woodlawn last year started some others on their own Stars journey. I've followed Jane at Chilly Hollow as she has been writing about Stars recently, liking very much the connection and knowing so well the complexity of the work she is doing

My Stars piece was made as a special gift for a dear friend of mine - actually, made to be a heirloom piece for her daughter. Not someone I wished to make a typical baby sampler for, but rather the desire to give a gift of art. I began stitching two nights before the baby was born (although had been planning and collecting threads for a couple of months) and would have had it in their hands in time for a first birthday if I hadn't decided to send it to Woodlawn first, with my friend's blessing. After it was returned to me, it was then sent to my friend, who unfortunately live very far away from me. Her little girl just celebrated her second birthday last week.

I can't tell you how touched I am to reach out and connect with someone who was "looking" for me. Although I often spend a little time each evening looking around on the needlework blogs, this is the first time I have ever posted a comment. (not surprisingly, I don't have a blog myself.)

Thank you so much for making my day today - it really meant a lot to me.


Hello, Arlene! It's lovely to "meet" you. And to hear the story of your Stars piece. Was your version one of the colorways by Tony, or was it something you did yourself? I remember that the stitching was exquisite.

Have you entered something in this year's show? Do you ever come down and see the show?

Next year there may be several versions entered. I'm part of the group working from the Scarlet Thread that is working this piece. We're having our first stitching meeting this Sunday (the earlier meeting ran into a problem with a blizzard. Imagine that!)

I am thrilled that you happened on my blog at exactly the right time. You made my day right back!

We Have a Winner!

Teresa, who coincidentally was the first to identify my error on the Peace Eagle, you won! Your prize is the shamrock pin in the photo. I'll send you an e-mail and you can send me your IRL address. (I also added your blog to my sidebar this morning - At Willow Tree Pond.)

The shamrock was my Wednesday class at my EGA chapter. An original design that I dreamed up in my own little head two years ago. Because I didn't have anything kelly green to wear on St. Patrick's Day and I was going to be stitching in public. Stitched in a day. AND the finishing reflected the finishing on the same day. Glued badly.

But the new version that Teresa won is finished nicely. I'm keeping the old one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Anyone Know?

Does anyone know who stitched the version of Stars for a New Millennium that was entered in the Woodlawn Needlework Show in 2009?

Because whoever stitched that one, it's having far flung consequences.

After identifying what the piece was, a group of stitchers from the Scarlet Thread in Virginia decided to take on the challenge of this piece.

Which prompted Jane of Chilly Hollow to bring out her version that was in progress. Which prompted Laura Perin to find her version.

Who's next?

Not an inexpensive project. And not for the faint of heart. But as some stitchers have started blogging about this piece by Tony Minieri maybe we'll inspire even more people to pull out their existing project. Or inspire stitchers who have never seen it, to purchase and join in the fun.

But I sure would like to know who stitched that one at Woodlawn last year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not a Total Waste of Time

This morning was my appointment at the Toyota dealer to fix my "car of death." We love our Avalon. I hate taking her in for surgery. But now if something does go wrong with the accelerator, I will have confirmation that it isn't the mechanical fix they said it was. No comment about the Congressional testimony going on today.

Let's just say that we bought a brand new Audi 4000s in 1985. A few years down the road when the Audi 5000 had problems, it besmirched all Audis. Our car's resale value plummeted. And I'm afraid the exact same thing is going to happen to our Toyota. Color me disappointed.


In other news. Nothing. I'm teaching a class tomorrow. Will report after that! This was the not a total waste of time as I sat and stitched another piece for the class demo.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Peace Eagle

Teresa and Kelly got it right. How did I ever frame this piece without doing the blackwork fill on the left wing?

It could be because I was working this piece as a surprise for DH. I'd be sitting in the living room stitching and hear a car pull up and scramble to hide evidence of what I was doing. And then there was the mad scramble to get it framed in time.

This piece is called the Peace Eagle. It's based on a coverlet in the Stuck Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art. I bought this around the year 2000? after seeing a framed version in the Scarlet Thread in Fairfax, VA that the shop owner, Jan, had stitched for her husband's retirement.

As for my "little" giveaway - leave comments on yesterday's (February 21) post and I will close out the giveaway on Thursday, the 25th at 9:00 p.m. Feel free to pass the word around. I'm not telling what I'm giving, but it might have something to do with an upcoming holiday...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photos as Promised! Plus More!

The day after I finished my heron (don't worry - photo at bottom of post!), I started this canvas. These were my original colors the idea behind them to make a pillow for my bedroom.

But as you can see, this canvas cried out for red!

First - a huge thank you to my friend who is downsizing. This is a handpainted canvas by Erin Cross. I had five spools of this Kreinik red for another project whose colors got changed. Thus, the lettering. The border is now a combination of Very Velvet Petit, Needle Necessities, and DMC perle #3. I might add sparkle to the border. Just waiting for more progress before committing. The background will be white perle cotton.

I was joking that I should make a back for this pillow that says "Not Tonight!"

I don't know if it was the Valentine's Day influence or something else. But this pillow just didn't want to be blue. It wanted to be red.

Next up!

A Finish!

My Great Blue Heron. I have finished one of my UFOs! That feels great!

Lastly. This was featured in my blog back in 2005 when I thought I had finished it. There is a huge mistake. That my son pointed out to me after framing. I have finally removed it from the frame in order to fix my mistake. And then will contemplate how to reframe it with my DH's medals.

Identify the mistake in the Peace Eagle. Just leave a comment and I will be sending someone a fabulous little giveaway!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fingers Are Warm

My fingers and toes are warm again - a necessity for me to stitch. Had two white knights ride to my rescue and thaw my little castle. I'm crossing my fingers that this is the end of my troubles.

Now if I could just sleep through the night. This week it's time for another round of wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. I may crash and burn this weekend. We'll see.

UFO# 28.

This is Constantinople, a canvas piece designed by Estelle Kelley for an ANG Correspondence Course. I started this in November 09 and put it down to stitch my Quaker piece.

I'll be picking this one up again soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This is a Laura J. Perin Designs freebie, Summer Flower Boxes. I already stitched one version of this on dark green canvas. It's a quick stitch. I started this second one and moved on to some obligation stitching. I'm thinking Mother's Day gifts and already have some Sudberry boxes. Plenty of time between now and May...

Oh the Links!

Here's a place to go and browse: Sampler Consortium. The links and info at the Sampler Central project could be classified as dangerous. Very informative, but dangerous.

NO photo of finish for which I apologize. But honestly I am fighting another battle here. Mr. Freeze has apparently visited our house and cursed our heat pump system.

That's right. Two plus feet of snow outside and I've got no heat inside.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

UFO # 26

Back to the UFOs! This is Northern Pine Designs "Forever in Blue Jeans." I love it. Didn't change a single thread. What I did do was try to modify the bottom stitches. And then I took them out. Can't decide whether to finish it as charted or make another attempt.

Yes. I will be making this into a purse when it is finished. Maybe in time for Woodlawn next year???

I finished my Heron yesterday. But you'll have to wait another day for the photo. And started a canvas. Free canvas. But the threads, not so free. I thought I could kit it up from my stash, but I was mistaken because the canvas is 13ct, and I'm geared more towards 18ct.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Book

I would like to see this book. I don't want to purchase. I just want to read it.

String, Felt, Thread

Off to see if I can convince the library to buy it...

edit: We'll see how long it takes before I the library notifies me one way or another.


I have identified my problem - since returning from England on January 31, none of my days have been "normal." First it was jet lag, then it was snow, snow, and more snow. Every time I wake up and think I know how the day is going to progress, I find I was mistaken. And it's starting to wear on my psyche. I just want a normal day. A day when nothing breaks. A day when I don't have to deal with things that broke. A day without issues. A day without problems to solve. Is that too much to ask?

In that spirit, I believe I will now go upstairs and start backstitching the heron.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Post Valentine's Day Thoughts

At my house we tend to agree to not celebrate this "holiday." It's a non-holiday. Hyped by card manufacturer's, florists, and candy makers.

I say if you can't show me you love every day of the year, remembering on one day, is not going to make things better.

But DH bought me a card anyway. And in return I made him chicken soup. Good trade off, I say.

Really - doesn't seem to you that the marketing of VD day has reached outrageous proportions?

At our house VD day gets lost stuck in between my birthday and son's birthday. That's right. Today my boy turns 21! We've done our job. Successfully parented two people to the age of legality. After hugs and congratulations, I made him breakfast and off he went to work. Then the HAVC guy returned heat to our household (was a lovely 59 degrees downstairs this morning) and I was able to take a shower. After a quick posting here, I'm off to the grocery store. Then it will time to bake a cake! And then I can sit down again and finish the backstitching on my great blue heron which is getting closer and closer to the end.

In the spirit of love, yesterday, I did kit up a needlepoint canvas that says "ravish me." I think it will make a lovely pillow in the bed room.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 12th

Yesterday morning I partially participated in the big mess that was the Washington D.C. commute as federal workers headed back to the office after nearly a week off.

Let's just say it wasn't pretty.

I had to bring DH to his office in Crystal City. Took us 1.75 hours. Usually it takes less than 30 minutes.

The major roads, I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road were perfectly fine. It's what happens as soon as you leave the major highways that is the problem.

There were a lot of turn lanes that never got cleared. There were lanes that just disappear under the snow. There were roads that were effectively a single lane that used to be four lanes.

Wow. Is this place bad at plowing or what?

Took DH two hours to return to the Park and Ride last night.

All in all, not good.

I did manage a stop at one LNS. Come on. It was my birthday. I've been home except for a quick trip to the grocery store since the week before. Contact with the outside world. Heavenly.

Only bought threads. But plenty of them!

Odds of getting out to dinner for my birthday were shrinking when I made the decision to just get pizza. Still we weren't sitting down to eat until after 8:00 p.m.

Today we went for a late lunch. Why? Because the nice restaurants we tried to get reservations at tonight were booked by people celebrating Valentine's Day. LOL

Still. I had a nice day. Even if my phone/doorbell kept interrupting me when I sat down to stitch. Causing me to decide that the stitching mojo was off and so instead I actually did some housework and played on my DS. Yes. That's an exciting life.

My husband's boss who was also in London for the conference, was appalled when she heard what he had bought me. A needlework thing. That I had to make myself??? What the heck kind of gift was that. I say it's the perfect gift for the correct person.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

White and Bright

The sun is shining and it's blindingly bright outside. Again we are faced with one car free and another in need of release from the snow. (Second car undriveable until the roads are more than barely passable...)

Enough with the weather. Let's return to our regular programming - my UFO confessions.

I believe we all know what this is:

Of course, I have a half-finished version of Celtic Christmas among my UFOs.

When I finished my Newburyport Sampler in July 1998, I started CC. Let's see - I think I changed the fabric to 32ct or maybe it's 29ct Glenshee. I have a spot on the side where I stitched doodle with regular Mill Hill beads and the Petite beads. I chose the Petite size. Stitched with the called for DMC. And I used Marilyn's suggestion of using Petite Treasure Braid instead of the called for DMC metallic.

Why is this unfinished? I mean, she's gorgeous. You would think that would be incentive enough? I am so bad.

There is a mistake in my counting. I started with her head. And her hair and that border above her are not as graphed. Oh yeah - head and hands were stitched over one.

She's lovely. I really, really should finish her and free up those large scroll rods.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All White

No sense in trying to take photos out there. It's just white outside.

I'm sure the world is tired of our weather updates. But damn. This is just too much snow.

In an attempt to regain my sense of humor yesterday, I continued some experiments with dyeing silk threads. On the first day - Monday - I cut several lengths of white Splendor silk and found that I have the colors that I want. On Tuesday when I used the stuff to set the dye, the areas that I had left white, took on a tinge of color.

Next step - how to keep the white white?

I do believe I chose the wrong way to keep the white white. But didn't realize it until after I did it.

Now I am out of silk. And with the current conditions, will not be able to reach a needlework store until some time next week.

Will set the dye today on what I did yesterday. I might be able to salvage things. Like I said, this is an experiment. Not expecting 100% success right out of the box. Also used some small pieces of fabric to soak up the leftover dye. No sense wasting things.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

No Good News to Report

In fact, the news is all bad. Ten to twenty more inches of snow coming starting this afternoon with high winds. No place to put the new snow. The promised heavy equipment thus far has not shown in our development. Federal gov't closed again today. And I will bet on them being closed tomorrow, too. Maybe even Thursday if the Metro isn't fully functional.

I need to go make more coffee. And warm up my breakfast. I'm not a happy camper. And I realize it. But it's getting more difficult to find alone time to recalibrate my sense of humor. Maybe a sixty minute shower???

Monday, February 08, 2010

Blizzard 2010 - the Aftermath

Yum. My son made waffles. Fueling up for the Big Dig.

Elvis just doesn't care that it snowed. As long as the sun will shine again, he's happy.

Looking at our townhouse. We're up to our necks in snow with no place to put any more.

The neighbors were out in our cul-de-sac in full force yesterday afternoon. We got one of our cars dug out. The second one has a small mountain of snow in front of it left by the snowplow driver. Can't drive that car until we see pavement. Roads out of here are all plowed but snow packed. They say heavy equipment will arrive today and hopefully that mountain will be removed.

Bet I know someone who's glad to be in Myrtle Beach right now!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Super Bowl Sale and Offers of Snow

My e-mail contains so many interesting things this morning. A detailed account of what a LNS is doing to cope with the fact that there will be no Super Bowl Sale today. A plea from the moderators on Freecycle to stop offering free snow. Detailed accounts of snow removal. A plea not to harass the snowplow drivers when we do finally see them.

All things snow related.

Now I need to go call the satellite company and see if we can figure out why the DVR won't load the satellite info. The other receivers in the house are working. This one keeps getting stuck during a reset. Not that I care about the Super Bowl. But I'm not the only one in the house.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blog Maintenance

First. New photo. That is Liberty. My new favorite store. In London. I now have a frequent buyer card from them. LOL

I removed a few blogs from my list that haven't seen any real action in a while.

Added some new ones: I'll be perfect in my next life. Moonsilk Stitches. Needleprint (I admit that this one wasn't here because I did not want to be tempted.) Nimble Needle. Sampler Lovers Blog. Tempting Tangles. The Floss Queen. The Musing Badger.

National Stitch in Public Day

Today is National Stitch in Public Day as it is the first Saturday of National Embroidery Month, which is February.

I, along with everyone who lives in the mid-Atlantic region, will not be participating.

Due to the fact that I may not be able to leave my house till sometime next week.

I'd say there is a good 18 inches of snow out there and it is not going to stop until later today. Very pretty. But not so much fun.

I've already been outside digging out the condenser unit as we have a heat pump system. As a matter of fact, we are running the AC right now to melt the ice on the unit. Satellite is searching for signal. And I've jumped on the computer to see the news. Which is not good. When the wind blows we're in white out conditions. I can't see past my balcony.

I guess it's a great day for Stitch in Private!

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Snow Has Started

I am as prepared as I can be. Cell phone's charged. Gas tank is full. Got batteries, candles, and enough food to feed the boys. And the cats.

But really. Why is it necessary to bring us another two feet of snow? Haven't we had enough? And where are we going to put it?

I'm done whining. We'll deal with it.

Time to return to UFOs.

This is "Mystic" by one of our local designers, Ruth Dilts. If you check out her newest additions page, you can see the original colorway. I took the class for this piece late last spring.

I like the original colors, but at the time I took this class, I just needed something different. My first thoughts were to attempt this in black and red. But I had a horrendous time trying to find threads that would work. I eventually compromised and went with red and silvery gray. This would be a fairly quick finish, if I would just sit down and do it. Love the design. And one of these days, I will finish this one.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Picture This

I'm not sure how they know the date of this beaded basket, but the V & A dates it to 1659. Pretty darn incredible, eh? They have another nearly identical one in the collections and think this may have been a kit.

Honestly when I saw things like this in person, it literally took my breath away.

The Margaret Layton jacket is no longer on display. There is, however, a picture of it along with this jacket - in four pieces. What interested me about this one, was that this jacket made its way to the museum because the gov't accepted it in lieu of inheritance taxes.

It's nice to see that somewhere in the world are UFOs older than ours. This mirror frame dates from 1660-1680.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Purchases and Progress

London is a veritable shoppers' paradise, especially if you have $$$. I practiced restraint. First up we have my selection from the bookshop at the V & A. (And no - Cheryl - I didn't get to the Tower of London. One of the places we decided to skip due to lack of time.)

Yes. I would have spent less on Amazon. But I've got it now. And it's not released here for another two weeks. "Samplers" by Rebecca Scott. Review later when I've got all my wits about me.

From Liberty - with DH's input I chose the Hampton Court Jane Greenoff kit. Was a toss up. I had four of these kits in my hand, when we decided to go a different way.

This would be the different way - a Beth Russell needlepoint kit of a William de Morgan tile. Turns out our friends, whom we stayed with for 3 days, live around the corner from the "Peacock House" which is covered in William de Morgan tiles. Inside and out. For all who are interested you can see photos here. I didn't stop to take pictures as we were on the way to the airport. Hubby bought this kit for me as an early birthday present. For which I am extremely grateful.

Evidence of stitching on airplane! My Great Blue Heron. For Bonnie - here's the designer info - Designs by Kathy. I bought mine at Everything Cross Stitch in Fredericksburg.

How it is today: another 4 or so inches of snow. More on the way this weekend. It's that picture perfect snow that frosts everything with snowy icing. Started my day with shoveling. How about you?

What Elvis thinks of the snow. Couldn't care less. Oh to be a cat in a nice home.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

London Calling

"Bulleye's and targets say the bells of St. Margaret's" - This is St. Margaret's built right beside Westminster Abbey. Seems the Benedictine Monks did not like the public interfering with their prayers so a second "for the public" church was built. And this is my first glimpse of Big Ben.

We had an uneventful trip - cleared security and I got to keep my small scissors and I stitched a tiny bit. I found it difficult to sleep on the plane and the entire week turned into a not-sleeping event for me. Arrived in London at the cheery hour of 6 a.m. Bought Oyster cards to ride the Tube from Heathrow and caught a taxi for that last little bit to the hotel. Checked in and caught a 2 hour snooze. Well, more like 20 minutes for me. Left the hotel and stopped at the Albert, a genuine if somewhat of a tourist trap British pub. Had the traditional British breakfast of sausage, bacon, toast, egg. And a large Americano to wake us up. Signs everywhere warning us of pickpockets among us so guard your bags! Walked to Westminster Abbey where the audio tour was terrific.

I had tried not to overthink this trip as I like surprises. Here my biggest surprise was upon walking into Henry VII's Lady Chapel. Wow. The fan vault roof is spectacular. And being the sentimentalist that I am, I admit to crying when I reached the Poet's Corner. Couldn't help myself. All those people whose words have delighted me over the years buried in once place. Overwhelming.

We left there and went across the street to the QEII Conference Center - the reason my DH was in London was to attend a conference. And this turned out to be the exact place where the gov't was holding the Iraq Inquiry. Tons of press outside with cameras looking in at us as DH checked his e-mail and called a friend. We were there long enough for the object of their pursuit to leave after testifying. And got to watch the press in action. And the lone protester with his placard trying to be certain his sign got in the televised coverage. Just like being here in Washington D.C. Fortunately, the conference ended before Tony Blair testified on Friday, otherwise this could have gotten completely out of hand for the conference attendees.

My reason for coming to London - the Victoria and Albert Museum. And now comes my unfortunate tale. Most of the textile section was closed when I arrived! Oh the horror. Not a word about this online. Nor had I heard anything from my contact at the Museum. Could be because she no longer works there. Oh well. All was not entirely lost.

There are textiles scattered throughout the museum. The most amazing ones are in the British Galleries. The entire Martha Edlin collection - her sampler, casket, jewelry box, mirror, smalls, etc. Gloves, coifs, curtains, jackets, cloaks. I found myself hyperventilating when I came upon these lovely treasures.

Did I mention my morning walk to the V & A? I got a tiny bit turned around, but knew when I saw the signs for the Inner Ring Road that I was widely off target. I cannot begin to tell you how far I walked each day. Miles and miles and miles.

When I left the Museum, I walked to Harrods. What can I say? It was on the way home.
I totally understand why after you make your purchase, the clerks ask if they can give you directions to some other part of the building. When I left it was all lit up and I thought about popping in to Harvey Nicks, but I was exhausted. Completely exhausted. Hailed a taxi and had a wonderful driver who loved to talk politics and tell bad puns. Interesting combination.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Quickest of Notes

We're back from our trip across the Atlantic. Had a tremendous, wonderful, tiring time!

Will try to get back here later to post details, but no promises. There's lots to tell.

For now I need to go and start laundry. Run to the dry cleaners. Swing by the grocery store.

All the usual crap that I do to make life function smoothly.

Meanwhile I'll leave you with one of the first photos that I took:

Westminster Abbey on a gray and cold day in January!