Friday, April 30, 2010

I Made a Mistake One Year Ago

Last year a group of us from RCTN (which is a newsgroup and I read it through google groups) decided to organize a stitch along and picked a freebie from Laura Perin's website. This is my first finish, though the colors aren't true as this is the hunter green canvas. 

I kitted up two more versions of this - one using Watercolours Lilac and one based on the color blue. 

I started the Lilac based one and one day at stitching I suddenly developed a problem. Couldn't figure out why the motif wasn't centered in the box. I put it away that day and stitched on something else. Last night I dragged it out - yes, it's been in hiding for a whole year plus! And right away saw my error. I had started stitching the motif from the corners in one of the middle boxes. Duh!

I'm happy finding the error was that easy. But really. I ignored it for a whole year??? 

and edit from later in the day...
P.S. I would be finishing this tonight, but I didn't kit with metallic shiny ribbon. Instead I had substituted Neon Rays. Alas I have decided it needs the shiny blingy stuff and will have to wait till tomorrow to go and purchase some.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It Makes Me Sad

It makes me sad when people move away. Especially far, far away. Our friend, Schelley, who only found us last year, is moving south. We hope she enjoys exploring her new town and makes lots of new stitching, quilting, knitting friends!

In her honor, I made Julia Child's Tarte aux Pommes. I think I needed one more apple for slicing. But it was like nearly 10 p.m. when I put it in the oven. Yesterday was a very busy day...

Here is where I am on "Summer Dream." I've got two tendrils to do and Part I is finished. I moved ahead and laced it yesterday. I thought maybe using the skinny stretchers bars would be good, but I pulled the lacing tight enough to bend the bars. The linen is fairly straight still, so I am hoping all will be okay.
Sorry - even though I imported the photo right side up, blogger insists on turning it back sideways. 

Today at stitching I did not stitch. Instead I brought along the laptop and continued with designing my bargello piece. Here are my oh so bright colors inspired by the article in Needlepoint Now about Joyce Petschek and her bargello retreats in Tuscany.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Little Bit of Shopping

Alas, nothing worthy of photos. Yet.

I changed two colors on my Bargello piece. And bought some more white pearl #5 for my Ravish Me canvas as the background is eating thread. I have to say the compensation on this stitch around the letters requires a lot of attention. This means the project is no longer mindless and progress is slow. But I have worked down both sides, the letters R & E and last night added the A. I would love to finish stitching this and get it off to the finishers - maybe by the end of May? 

Picked up the new issue of SANQ  (website still has last issue showing) and I'm willing to say that someone is going to stitch the box on the cover and enter it in Woodlawn next year. I don't think it will be me, but I'm looking forward to the next issue which will have accompanying smalls. 

Also bought something that will be a Christmas or birthday present so I can't write about that. And picked up something for my current Mystery Sampler.  

Had a great day! And supported my local economy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Posting, then Reading

Normally I catch up on my blog reading before I post. Today I'll try writing first. Not that it will make any difference, I suspect...
Sorry that the picture is fuzzy, but you get the idea. This is my new broken/worn out needle container - a miniature size bottle of Blanton's bourbon. My favorite bourbon. I didn't buy this for myself. It arrived in my Christmas stocking and I saved the little bottle thinking I might put orts in it. After musing to my husband about what we had in the house for my used needles, I found this sitting on top of the CD rack. Perfect. 

My progress thus far on Summer Dream, a GCC from the EGA by Luan Callery. I used pencil rather than pen to trace the design so it looks very faint. But trust me. There's a butterfly, a bee, a ladybug, and lots of flowers and leaves. I had forgotten about the freedom of surface embroidery. No looking at a chart while stitching. I am only slightly behind our schedule. A few more small leaves and some tendrils and I'll be on to Part II. 

Received my package from Thistle Threads on Friday for the Tudor and Stuart class. Lots of pretty silk and metalics. And no photo or directions. I guess I just have to be patient and wait for the class to begin.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Victory

This week my victory is mastering the needleweaving for sepals on my Frosted Berries stumpwork piece. I put a scrap piece of fabric in a hoop and found that by using the magic pink hair tape to hold the thread instead of my hand, I could manage to stitch these and adjust the tension. I will post a photo when I get all the sepals stitched. 

But right after mastering this, I moved on to starting Luan Callery's "Summer Dream" as the little group of us stitching this meet tomorrow. I managed to stitch all the stems. I think the hardest part was trying to organize the many pages. Check the page for info about what needle to use with the Appleton Crewel wool. Check the stitch diagram. Check the page with instructions. Check the diagram. Check the photo. I started to make myself dizzy. Don't stitch the part of the stems that is circled. That comes later. I can see this process may involve lots of flipping through pages. But I feel comfortable with it now and wanted to keep going, but it was getting late and I hadn't found my crewel needles. That took about 1/2 an hour to locate my little black bag with my crewel supplies and though there were some needles in it, they were not the needles I was searching for. 

I have rediscovered my love of surface work, not that I will ever leave counted thread behind. But it is glorious to pick up a piece of fabric and start stitching away without having to follow a chart. 

At this point I have identified a true needle for a needlebook with many pages and good identification. I mean I have tapestry needles in sizes from 20 - 28. I have tapestry needles without and with points. I have chenille needles, milliner's needles, generic embroidery needles, crewel needles. All in various sizes. And frequently when I am in a needlework store I will buy more needles. Because I can take the finish off a regular needle with just hours of stitching. Takes me about a week with a gold needle, and maybe a month with a platinum needle. 

And I'm still searching for a proper container for the "dead" needles. Maybe I'll look at Michael's for something I can decorate. 

So while this week is becoming all about surface work, I've got counted stuff percolating in the back of my brain. I did correct my error on "Little Green Acorns" and have continued with the bargello design and should be able to start stitching it within the week. I just need one quick trip to a shop to check the colors I pulled from my stash against what other pearl #5 exists.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Week

The week is not going any faster than the weekend did. Not much happening, but I am getting a few things accomplished. 

Yesterday I took the laptop with me to the coffee shop in the afternoon and ironed out my issues with designing bargello on my design program. All my issues are of my own making, it's not the programs fault. But I managed to get a good start and hopefully this time I will remember the lessons learned. 

And in that vein, I'm considering taking Sharon Boggon's class on joggles for GIMP For Textile Designers.  We'll see how other things are progressing in a month or so. And if you've never explored joggles, now would be a good time. 

I've happily agreed to review a grant proposal for my sister who finally thinks she sometimes takes terrific photographs. She's only been doing this for thirty years...

And I've been experimenting with alternatives for my sepals on my stumpwork piece. Even Amazon has stumpwork on the brain as this morning their e-mail recommended the newest Jane Nicholas book to me -

"Stumpwork & Goldwork Embroidery Inspired by Turkish, Syrian & Persian Tiles"

 which hasn't been released yet. But the cover is oh so pretty!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Slow Weekend

The slowness started on Friday while at stitching. First up, working on my stumpwork piece, "Frosted Berries." I am having difficulty with the needleweaving. Not sure if I just need to grow more hands. But controlling the tension, yet knowing where to weave is escaping me. So I put it down.

Next up. The "Ravish Me" canvas. I've worked the background down to the letters and oops - compensating for both the last letter and the border was beyond me. Sometimes I just can't count like that. 

Third try - Eileen Bennet's "Little Green Acorns." I had started the over one alphabet. On the fourth letter, which I'm stitching in a different color 'cause it's my initial, I realize that it's not matching up with the band above. Sure enough, that band has a problem. I skipped a stitch. So out it comes. All in all, not much progress made and I avoided the bag with these three projects for the remainder of the weekend. 

Instead of picking up a needle this weekend, I picked up my drawing pencils and graph paper and started in on a bargello design. I have this idea in my head and am trying desperately to make it work. Lots of false starts. Now it's time to transfer what's working to my computer. I tried to start this on the computer, but was having difficulty and just gave up. 

All in all, problems wherever I turned. I'm sure if I'd made a souffle, it would have fallen. I hope the herbs I planted survive.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Promised Photos

First photo is my progress from yesterday's stumpwork class. Leaf, stems, and raspberries. I'm working on the sepals for the raspberries.

Below that we have my progress on Stars. Marilyn finished and Clark Gable started. 
I'm off to turn over my Friendship Mystery SAL to the next person. I am already in possession of my next one and have some interesting ideas for it. Some day you'll see it all. But probably not until December!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stumpwork Party!

It has been years since I've done much stumpwork. So much time in the counted thread world and doing this sort of makes my head spin. But I've made good progress since beginning this at approximately 11:00 a.m. yesterday. All my berry beads are done, but not attached. My big leaf is stitched as are my stems. My raspberries are stitched, attached and beaded. My stopping point is the needleweaving to create sepals for the raspberries. Not happy with how that is working and will remove what I've done and start over. After I figure that out, it will probably only take an hour or two to finish this piece. I know you want photos, but turns out the camera battery needs charging. Again. 


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Let the Stumpwork Party Begin

I'm sure you can all agree with me that the last thing I need right now is a new project. But it's class time at the D.C. EGA and today we start seriously exploring stumpwork. Covered beads and all. Got my supplies and am ready for sharp needles. I am definitely looking forward to this. 

What's one or two or five new projects? Which reminds me that I haven't finished a final total on the number of WIPs I have going. I think I've added less than ten new since the end of January. I do believe I have lost my mind. 

But I have finished my Mystery SAL that we pass along this Friday. So that's some progress!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blast from the Past

Some of you may have seen this on my facebook page last week. But this photo really belongs here. I had forgotten it even existed, but I was looking for a photo of me and Sis and other neighborhood kids playing dress up back in the very early 60s and found this gem.

Here we are on an Amtrak train somewhere between South Station in Boston and Grand Central in New York. The year is 1979, I'm certain of that because my nephew was like a month old and I shopped for him at Macy's and Bloomingdale's - my first time in either store. 

That's me - stitching in public! I've tried to identify the canvas, but don't recognize it. Must have been given away outside my immediate family. The person sleeping in my lap (this is the return trip of a group of drama geeks visiting NYC and we are exhausted) is my future husband. You can't see it, but I'm wearing corduroy pants (Levi's of course) and soon he is going to wake up with lines imprinted on his cheek. 

I'm thrilled that I found this photo. Shows I carried my stitching with me way back then when I was still (though barely) a teenager and it brings back wonderful memories of that trip.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stars Sunday

Seven of the group who are stitching along on Stars managed to meet on Sunday. Always a treat to see how other color combinations are coming along. I got to start Clark Gable yesterday and I am loving the bargello portion of that block. 

I always made the decision when I started Clark that after finishing him, I would move into the two center blocks next. Then I can stitch around the perimeter. That should solve any problems about touching what I've already stitched, other than the outer border. Clark is moving much faster than Marilyn. I kind of already knew from watching my friend, Amanda, stitch this piece that some blocks are easier than others. 

Now as to what I have learned already from working on Stars and these thoughts are just my personal opinions:

I've been humbled by this design. I do not know shortcuts on this piece. Every time I thought I knew an easier or simpler way, I have been wrong. From here on I am slavishly following the directions. I am doing things in order, step by step. My only changes will be substitutions for  a couple of threads and occasionally in the number of plies used. 

That stitching with a group certainly helps motivate me. If I had been stitching this without a group, this piece might have hit my UFO pile already. 

That finishing a block gives you a real sense of accomplishment which in turns fuels my desire to stitch the next one. I am hoping this continues and if it does, I'll finish this much sooner than I expected. But I'm not counting on that. I know something will come along to stop my stitching mojo on Stars. 

In other news:  I picked up my two pieces from Woodlawn yesterday. Now where to hang them? 

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yesterday's lecture with the Hubers was wonderful. They are charming and knowledgeable and I believe we all had a tremendously great time. They did a slide show presentation that was an overview of samplers that included many personal anecdotes including one imitation of Betty Ring by Carol. 

They concluded the lecture by offering an appraisal of samplers brought by members. I certainly am better educated this morning if I ever dare to purchase an antique sampler. 

These photos are just a smattering of what they brought to share with us. I've always been a sucker for red on white. Striking, isn't it?

Detail of a border on one of the unframed samplers. Nothing like Queen stitch for an entire border of a fairly large sampler.

Below is one of the pieces that is English in origin. Very, very pretty.

Couldn't get great photos of everything due to overhead lighting. I love the detail on the house in this one. And of course, the willow tree.

This is my favorite piece of all the ones they brought. Price tag on it is $145,000. Though Stephen maintains that is woefully underpriced as another sampler from this school has sold for $300,000.

Lastly, an updated photo of Stars. This is Marilyn and she's totally finished now and looks like wow!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Granite State of Mind

My niece posted a link to this on facebook this morning. And I'm going to be singing it all day!  Granite State of Mind - for those of us from the North Country.

Off to the Sampler Guild meeting! Have a nice day.

P.S. Finished Marilyn last night on Stars. Photo later!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tough Day

Woke up in the middle of the night - don't know if it was Wednesday or Thursday as I didn't check the time - with a raging headache. It continued to wake me up off and on for the remainder of the night. Got up by 7:30 and started medicating. And refused not to go to Thursday morning stitching, even though that darn headache was still present. It had reduced somewhat by the time my friends came to pick me up. And I started off by graphing a design for my mystery SAL, as opposed to stitching. By the time we left stitching, it was just a vaguely dull feeling that didn't totally lift till after dinner. I blame the weather changes, etc. 

Did I manage to get some stitching done? Yes. Another two bands on "Little Green Acorns." And I started stitching on my mystery SAL. I feel badly that I won't be able to share any of this with you until the very end of the year. But I will photograph everything as it comes into my possession and as it leaves. Hardest thing ever not talking about this with my friends who are participating...

The view from Hains Point across the Washington Channel to the cherry trees on Fort McNair, third oldest Army post in the nation. What's older? West Point and Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

See - I Thought Nothing Was Happening, But Apparently I Was Mistaken

It's Wednesday already and there is nothing new here this week. Been slowly plugging away at Stars. I'm more than halfway through Marilyn Monroe and I had a moment when I thought my accent color was wrong. But I continued stitching and I'm back to liking it. Whew. I don't need any more color changes on this piece.

I took my "Little Green Acorns" sampler with me to the hairdresser. I might as well stitch a thread or two while waiting for the dye to do its thing in that marvelous transformation process. She was interested in what I was doing and I did some explaining. Though with 3 young children, I don't think she has time for a new hobby. I like this other salon better. The lighting for stitching is terrific and the lighting for scrutinizing yourself in the mirror is way more flattering than the other place I was going. 

I thought that maybe I could stitch last night while watching the baseball game, but I was wrong. Instead, because we were watching downstairs where it's cooler, I started perusing my stitching library. I'm looking for some inspiration for a mystery SAL, bookmark ideas, and checking to see what info I have on the origin of stumpwork. I really need to cull a few things - that's the conclusion of last night's perusing. 

And mentioning stumpwork reminds me that next week we've got a stumpwork project being taught by this year's winner of Best in Show at Woodlawn at our EGA meeting. 

And if that's not enough, on Saturday at the Loudoun Sampler Guild, we're having a lecture that was rescheduled from February - Carol and Steven Huber lecture on Antique Samplers.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Annual Cherry Blossom Visit

This year's photos were taken from Hains Point, a spit of land separating the Washington Channel and the Anacostia River from the Potomac River. We walked all the way around the 3.2 mile Point after eating breakfast under a cherry tree and waiting for the sun to rise. This is a view of National Airport across the Potomac. How calm it is.

My favorite photo of the day. Sunrise was about 45 minutes earlier. Great light.

The trees on the Point are mostly of one type of cherry. Thus most blossoms were just a day or two past peak. One big wind and they would all blow away. 

Not just cherry trees here. Some gorgeous willows just leafing out. I've got a soft spot for willow trees having grown up with one in our backyard.

By the time we left, there were many people out walking, biking, jogging, fishing, skating. We'd spent three hours out there and even though I'd brought breakfast with us, we stopped in McLean for pancakes (for me) and corned beef hash (for DH.) Lovely, lovely day.

Did a stitch a bit this weekend? Nope. Even though I had good intentions. All these cherry blossoms just make me want to work on Stars even more. 

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Going with the Flow

When I finally relented and drew in the lines on my Stars canvas, something happened. I started to make forward progress! On Thursday I stitched the inner border on the left. Yesterday I stitched the sashing around Marilyn Monroe. I guess for now, because it's spring, the colors are just saying "stitch me!" All stitching on other things has stopped. While this is happening, I think I will just go along for the ride and see how far I get. 

This means I can now stitch the Marilyn block. Huzzah!

And for anyone wondering, I did sign up the Tudor and Stuart Gold Master Class with Thistle Threads. Look for eighteen months of metallic adventures starting soon! Anyone else as crazy as me???

Friday, April 02, 2010

Signs of Spring

Good sign - the forsythia that blaze in the sunrise at the corner of Soapstone and Sunrise Valley in the morning as I return from dropping DH at the Park N Ride.

Better sign - We may see 80 degrees today!

Best sign - Tickets to see the Red Sox play the Nationals tomorrow in the final preseason game!!!

Ah, baseball. My favorite season of all. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Things I Have Noticed Recently

  1. Chaos Theory rules at my house! I love the look of clean and simple, yet can never maintain it. Wait maybe this isn't so much Chaos Theory as much as things tending towards entropy. 
  2.  There are tons of videos about stitching on youtube. Go ahead, try it. Look for embroidery, needlepoint, beads, cross stitch, the name of a particular stitch.  Just be prepared to waste time
  3.  When the neighbor's cat is bumping into your front door trying to get your attention, maybe something is happening outdoors. Yesterday it was a raccoon at 5 p.m. in the sunshine trying to get into the garbage that people continue to leave curbside only in bags, not in garbage cans. I'd say that is one sick raccoon. I was able to safely escort the cat to her house. Raccoon disappeared and didn't come back. 
  4. I will inevitably cut a skein of overdyed silk in the wrong spot. Didn't realize this skein had so much green in it. You would think I would have learned by now.  
  5. That car in front of you driving like a dipsy-doodle will have a driver talking or texting on a cell phone piloting it.
  6. TNNA, The National Needlearts Association is conducting a survey here.
  7.  IF I change anything on blogger, I will have problems.
  8.  The survey is about time and money spent on various needlearts type things. 
  9. That I need to change a color in my layout here, but it's causing blogger to give me an error message and sometimes even Firefox to crash when I try to change it.
  10. I love Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII, but they should have done some things to make him look taller. Henry should be towering over most of the other characters. Which leads me to wonder how many of those ladies with nude scenes used body double hairy legs?