Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just Call Me Sneezy

That post yesterday about things blooming here in Virginia? Well, where there's blooms, there's pollen. Even with my medication, I'm sneezing my head off this morning. 

I finished my obligation stitching yesterday. 

And even better won a wrestling match with my sewing machine last night. 

I came, I saw, I conquered. 

I can be extremely determined. But I have this hate/hate relationship with my sewing machine. It's about 20 years old. Just a slightly above basic Brother I bought at Service Merchandise (anyone else remember these stores fondly?) when it was on clearance. Someone had stolen the power cord and I ordered one from the company. I sold my very basic Singer at a yard sale and Brother and I embarked on a getting to know you tour. My determination and his basic stubbornness can sometimes clash. The offender.

Sometimes Brother seems to have a mind of his own. His tension adjustments can be mighty picky. And I end up with this big gob of thread underneath instead of a smooth line of stitching. Or some such mess.

Because we have a guild meeting today, I thought I'd try finishing my bargello piece into a frame weight.

And while the Bruins and Red Sox were both losing their respective games, I sewed a small pillow that I filled with BB's and fit that inside a slightly larger pillow that was the bargello piece. Let me tell you, trying to hand sew the opening closed on a piece that now weighs a couple of pounds was the real treat. All this and I only broke one sewing machine needle. 

I'm pretty darn pleased with this. And now I'm going to make another one, but I think I'm putting this one on canvas tote from LL Bean.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It is that time of year here in Virginia - the only time my daughter thinks it's pretty here (pshaw - what does she know?) - the azaleas are blooming. The last of the cherry trees are fading, the dogwoods are in bloom. The redbuds - some are gone, some are just peaking. The tulip magnolias are starting to drop those huge petals.

I've got better photos, but not on the laptop. Speaking of which, I was just moving it around and had that little hard drive protection engaged message. No bouncing the laptop!!!

But I can bounce around on my topics here and that means a change of subject.

This is one of my favorite photos of my children. On the beach, maybe at Big Sur State Beach? I'd have to go and look at other photos to be certain. The hours we spent just walking on the beach with these two playing their crazy games. They'd pretend to be whatever - otters, dinosaurs, cats  - and make up stories. And act them out. They were all about the imaginative play. 

Bounce again.

No stitching photos. But I've made some real progress on my Cajun Santa. His body and the canoe are finished. The alligator is started and so is the sky. That's what I worked on Easter day while bouncing back and forth between the Celtics and the Red Sox. 

Yesterday was all about obligation stitching. 

And today? I really need to go get a pedi. And finish the obligation. Then I'm free to stitch whatever I want.

Oh. I did sign up for the Casalguidi class on the Shining Needle Society. Looking forward to learning something new.


Bouncing back. I forgot to say why I have the beach on the brain. Beach on the brain- what a curious sounding phrase. I like it. 

Anyway. We're heading to Cape Cod for a week in May. Where the weather will most likely remind us of being on the beach in central California. No swimming, but lots of sand, sun, and wind. I can hardly wait.) 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Look How Exciting I Am

It's a Saturday night and I've got nothing better to do than update my blog?


Dishwasher is running. Bread is on the counter rising waiting to be shaped and baked. But I might let it wait till morning. DH is catching up on his Daily Show viewing. We're just waiting for the Red Sox game to start at 9 p.m.

So here's a quick update of what I've been up to stitching wise. 

I finished my flag of Acadians in Louisiana. I'll eventually make it into a flat ornament. 

And finishing that made me drag out my Cajun Santa. If your interested in any New Orleans themed ornaments, Garden District Needlework has a huge selection. I had a horrid time deciding which ones to buy when I was there.

And on Thursday at my stitching group, I started doing my outlining for my etui with multiple pieces. Titled This One's For Betty, it's Betsy Morgan's tribute to Betty Flemming. We've already stitched the little pincushion. Soon it will be time for the other pieces. Yes, I will covering that entire piece of linen.

I tried stitching on my Molehill to Mountain project this afternoon outside on the deck. Everything I put in, I took out so no photos. This piece is going to require some unstitching till I get the color placement right. But I should be able to make progress now as I sat down and planned out the first square. 

Happy Saturday night, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Road Trip

Now before I start, let me apologize for the dearth of photos. I just kind of forgot...

My friend, Amanda, and I decided to make a little road trip yesterday to Maryland. Our ultimate goal was Ruth Schmuff's shop, Bedecked and Beadazzled.

Our first stop was one of my I-visit-a-few-times-a-year places - the Stitching Post. Normally, I can find plenty of things here that I somehow need. Yesterday, not so much. I only bought that last issue of Jill Oxton's Beading and Cross Stitch magazine, one of the Blackbird Designs monthly stockings pamphlets from 2009 and the Dinky Dyes Halloween cat. They were having an interesting time in here as their computer system was down and they were having to write out invoices by hand. Ah, the good old days. 

We started here because I'd recommended a place around the corner for lunch - Duesenberg's American Cafe and Grill. (Yes, Bonnie, it's still great!) I had the chicken cheesesteak with sweet potato fries and Amanda had the steak and gorgonzola salad.

Next stop:

The ladies in here were very nice. The shop itself seemed kind of small, but I think  that's just a reflection of all the stuff that's in here. They had two trunk shows and suitcase full of canvases that came back from Dallas with them recently. 

I bought the last copy of Sandy Arthur's new book, Needlepoint Shapes. Hopefully, they will have more soon. And a small painted canvas of a cat in a birdcage with a bluebird sitting on top of the cage. The cat's expression made this one irresistible to me.

The GPS took us the back way to Bedecked and Beadazzled where I was properly dazzled by the colors of Ruth's store. Love the lime green walls. There were many, many beautiful finished projects to admire. We kept finding new ones even as we were going out the door. 

My purchases in here were just threads. Amanda and I agreed that we need to bring a couple of canvases from our stash here and pick threads. She's got a tremendous selection. 

I'm going to be keeping an eye on her classes. If I lived just a smidge closer, I'd be attending the mystery classes. 

A very satisfying day. Didn't spend tons of money. Had great conversation. Just a lovely day for a drive!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quick Update

Quick - code word for no photos!

Peggy asked what overdyed I'm using on my Stars piece. Actually, she asked what overdyed did I base my colors on. 

The truth is I picked the colors and found an overdyed to match. Amazingly. My version is based on a photo I took of the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin at dawn in 2006. It's hanging in my hallway. This was my second shot at picking colors for this piece as I first had tried to match an Oriental carpet. Which didn't work when I couldn't dye an overdyed to match my colors. 

The overdyed I am using is Waterlilies Meadow #003. It has a lot of green in it and I've been judicious in my placement of the colors. Not very much of the brown and just the tiniest hint of blue. But that's okay as the piece has plenty of blue in it. 

Earlier this week I finished a needlepoint ornament - the Acadian flag I bought in New Orleans last November. Now I need to find fabric for backing. I've been stitching on this in random places as it was my purse project. 

And today - road trip! Going with a friend to hit some shops in Maryland. Details tomorrow!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Royal School of Needlework on CBS's Sunday Morning

The one Sunday I was not at home to watch the Sunday Morning, they did a piece on the Royal School of Needlework, which you can watch here!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cary Grant, or I've Got Stars in My Eyes

Pretty, isn't he? I actually stitched this one fairly quickly - maybe 10 hours or so total. 

Moved on to more sashing. I need a sashing song.  
Yup. I'm happy with my progress. And ridiculously happy with this piece at the moment.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Did It

I finished Cary Grant today. Sorry - no photo at night. You'll have to trust me on this one. 

This means I've reached the halfway mark on this piece. Only took 14 months. And that's ridiculous. I'm hoping to finish the second half by September. 

Unfortunately I'm about to be derailed by some obligation stitching. Here's hoping I can get back to this before the end of April.


Stars, I'm Seeing Stars

Yesterday I brought Stars back to my Thursday stitch group. And I was so delighted that I came home and continued to work on it. Outside. On the deck. With sunshine!!!

And that's when I figured out that I had left something out on Cary Grant. Those pink sprats head that form the center square were supposed to have a mirror image. Okay. In this photo you can see two of them. I managed to stitch them without removing those two bottom isosceles triangles.

I finished the sprats heads and the triangles - the blue part. Next up, fill in the triangles with the neutral color. I sit there considering using my accent color, green. I ponder. And think. And eventually decide that Tony knows what he's doing and stitch the first one with accent color.

And that's when I again confirm my evil genius diagnosis of the man. When you put the neutral in this spot, it makes a circle around the square. Duh.

But of course, this being Stars, next I mostly cover those four neutral stitches with pink criss cross crescents!

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Thus ends my stitching on Stars for Thursday. But with a little bit of luck, I'll be able to finish off Cary Grant today. And will officially have reached the halfway point on this piece. Phew.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Basting The Day Away

I finished basting my very large black piece of canvas yesterday and that got me thinking. I know I've said how much I hate basting. I used to think it was a waste of time. 

I don't think that anymore. 

It would be a waste of time to baste every single project. 

But there are some that just beg to be basted. 

Here's a piece of linen I started basting. This is the first piece I ever used the "special" red basting thread on. The silly directions for this piece actually want you to baste a 10 x 10 grid on your fabric. Unnecessary, I say. But I didn't figure that out until I started. What I will continue to do on this piece is baste the middle lines and the outside lines. And then I think I can take it from there.

Here's my black canvas basted for From Molehill to Mountain (more on this piece later - maybe tomorrow or Saturday.) When I say large, the canvas is 
18" x 22". I wanted more length so the canvas is wrapped around the stretcher bars on the 18" ends. You can see in this photo that the left hand side of the photo has no tacks on the top yet. It is tacked on the underside. This will give me the two extra inches I'll want when it comes to framing. 

Tonight, as it's meeting night,  I'll have to decide if I'm stitching this piece from this side or from the other side. Advantages for this side:  easier to use a laying tool. Advantages for stitching in the ditch:  easier to end threads closer to the stretcher bars.

Here's my "special" red thread. This is easy count guideline. It's a plastic type of thread like fishing line or certain beading threads. My ends are just cut off near the edge of the canvas. The advantage this has over regular sewing thread, is that I can't pierce this stuff with a needle, making it easily removable.  

How do I baste? I go over four threads and under six threads. This gives me an easy count to ten. 

So if a project calls for basting, I will consider doing it. I know enough to know when it will make my life easier. And when it would be a waste of my time. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


If you can't see the photos on my Monday post, it's not my fault. 

It's a blogger issue. And they are working on it.


Unlike most of my trips to a needlework, yesterday's stop was full of restraint. 

I picked up the larger size of stretcher bars that I need for From Molehill to Mountain. I thought I already had these, but I guess I was mistaken. Or I put them somewhere interesting as they would be too long to fit in my Elfa drawer that has stretcher bars. 

Only purchased the bars and three different white threads. (Those are for a challenge project. More on that later.)

Chatted for a few minutes and then it was on to my next stop - the Container Store. I'm officially in love with this store, but today I'm a bit peeved at them. I had started buying containers last fall for my threads. I've been back in January and yesterday, and they are no longer carrying said containers. And I kind of am in need of more. Sigh. I'm going to have to reassess this situation. And next time Elfa carts are on sale, I believe I might be buying more. I do love these things. Very, very useful. 

I continued on to Target hoping that they might have some containers of similar size/style. But no. And they didn't have any of the stacking containers that I was putting metallic threads into either. All in all, not a good organizing day. 

But I did get my black canvas mounted and started basting while I was outside grilling barbequed chicken for dinner. I'm about halfway finished with that task. Not as horrendous as I thought it might be. I confess that I have learned that basting can save you tons of time. But I still don't do it with gladness. 


Monday, April 11, 2011

Hot and Humid Monday

We may be setting records here again on this Monday. The record at Dulles is only 84 and we should beat that easily. This will again be followed by severe storms tonight into tomorrow morning. Very weird spring weather. It's either in the 50s, or barely 60. Skip the 70s and head right on into the 80s. But the 70s are my favorite part. That's when I can sit outside and stitch without worrying about sweat dripping on my projects.

Some random Florida photos from my trip last month.

I've still got to baste my black canvas and it turns out that I don't have 22" or 23" stretcher bars. I think we all know what this means. I need to make a little trip. To a needlework store.

This weekend I picked up my R. LeTellier and made some progress. Finished the first alphabet. Did the left hand border which is irregular to say the least. I'm leaving in all the mistakes. Except I did move on itty bitty 4 stitch motif two threads to the right for better balance. 

I've been considering how I could acquire more Elfa carts for my room. I seriously need to remove more papercrafting supplies. Must face the fact that I don't enjoy the paper as much as the fabric and that there are limited amount of hours in a week. 

I'm making plans for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Anyone else planning on attending?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Stitching Group

I look forward to stitching group Thursdays more than any other day of the week. Yesterday was the first time I took my Stars project there. Mostly because we've all learned the hard way that stitching on this piece requires a tremendous amount of concentration. Otherwise you will unstitching. 

I'm trying to double down on this piece. Focus on it. And finish it. 

Thus I will be bringing it out in public with me. Yesterday was all about sashing and border. I can do that without screwing things up. And when I got home, I started Cary Grant. Just barely. As soon as he's finished, the piece will be halfway finished. I'm ready to be done with this and I don't want to leave it on stretcher bars for another year. 

Of course, we are starting to work on Molehill to Mountain next week which is another BAP from the counted canvas world. Plus I'm about to sign on for two more cyber classes. (More on these later.) I'm really going to try to move some other canvases pieces along also. I've probably got 80,000 tacks in currently in use. Or something like that. Would be nice to finish some of these. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

New Canvas Projects

The first one falls into I can't resist category. It's the colors. This is a DebBee's Designs - Diamond Delight VIII. It will be the perfect companion piece to another canvas that I have kitted up. It may have to wait just a bit for me to work on some other things. But that's okay. 

Next up we have an ANG Chapter project. From Molehill to Mountain as designed by Pamela Sue Gardener. She's teaching it, too! This is going to be all about making decisions. It started out as a color study and went from small (molehill) to mountain (you get it...)

Most people taking this class have chosen an overdyed and picked their colors from that. 

Not me. 

I started with the red-violet and the yellow green. And then I ran into a wall trying to pick a third color. The solution was to pick two more colors, giving me a double complimentary combination.

Thus my first decision is made. And then came the second one - what color canvas to use. White was just too much for me and I chose black. I'm hoping this is a decision that I don't come to regret. 

After this, every time I will sit down to stitch on this project, I'll be making a decision. Which color, which value, which texture. The mind boggles. My main color is the red-violet. My secondary is the yellow-green. The blue-violet and golden yellows will be my accents. That's it. All the easy decisions are made. Now I have to go baste my canvas. Fun! Not!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

April Stitching Bloggers' Question o' the Month

Do you keep records of your finishes?  We are so lucky to have so many record-keeping tools at our disposal to record our accomplishments.  So if you do, what recording methods do you use?  What do you think is important to record when you've finished a design?  

Fifteen years ago when I picked up my needle and thread again after a two year break, I started keeping a stitching journal. I'd note my new project - designer info, fabric and thread choices, any changes to the design. I'd update my progress and note my finishes. I'd write about any stitching adventures, classes, friends met through stitching and the computer. 

Fast forward to seven and a half years ago when I started writing this blog. At the time, I still kept my journal. I do love a good blank book with an attractive cover and all those white pages. But slowly I stopped writing in my books as my time seemed better spent writing here. 

I still write about the same things. But probably in more detail and with the bonus of including photos. 

It's all here online. And there's no real record of finishes. They just sort of happen. Get noted on the blog. And that's that. Back again to the fact that I am much more of a process than progress person.

On a side note, my guild does encourage us to note our finishes. We have an IFF program - It's Finally Finished. We note our finishes on a piece of paper that goes in a box. And as of last year, we can also record our details in a little notebook. The only thing for me is that this program runs from July to July. So I can't just count my finishes for the calendar year. (If you finish anything doing the year, you get noted at the July function. Last year I got a package of gold needles.)

And as promised here's my photos of my current stumpwork piece as designed by Betsy Morgan:

 I'm working on my raspberry right now. It's the white felt padding. Love the gold silk!


Monday, April 04, 2011

Heating Up on Monday

Yesterday we didn't break 60 degrees. Today we may hit 80. And tomorrow we're back in the 50s. This weather is killing me. It's 60 out there now and I wish it would warm up quicker as today we are having our front door and window replaced and the old ones were removed about 90 minutes ago. I was okay while moving around making goulash for dinner, but sitting here I'm starting to slowly freeze. 

So what have I been doing?

In a word, Pischke. I can't seem to get enough. 

 The first turtle has left the beach. I was going to stitch all the background first, but I couldn't resist seeing what the turtle would look like. I guess I'm stitching them as I go now. 

 Unfortunately you can't really appreciate the beauty of the overdyed green that goes from green to turquoise and back from these photos. But I'm so pleased with this project that I'm scheming to get another one! It's 10 count and stitches up so quickly. 

 I've also been doing things like this. These are thread sticks made according to Ms. Mary Shipp's directions in her Color for Embroidery class. A pain in my hand to make, but I can see the value (I didn't mean to make a joke...) in doing these. In fact, if I had a bunches of free time, I would take my DMC and make my own color cards. 

She recommends making these for projects when you're choosing your own colors. Make a thread stick with proportions of color you'll be using. You'll know what is working and what is not. I'm thinking this could be a very good thing to do when choosing threads for hand-painted canvases. 

And finally, we were happy to have our favorite Marine, recently returned from Afghanistan, join us for dinner on Friday. We're so proud of him! He was such a pain in the @$$ when we first met him nine years ago. But he's a splendid young man now. I bet his parents no longer want to give him away to us!


Friday, April 01, 2011

Highlighting Another Blog

Yesterday at stitching group I finished an assignment for my Color for Embroidery class. And then moved on to my stumpwork ornament which was a class last week at my EGA chapter. 

You can see the ornament here on Betsy's blog:  Willing Hands 

Seriously you need to go look. Not just at the ornament, which is sweet and fun. I'm working on the raspberry now. I *heart* French knots. I really do.

But scroll down. Next is a post on creating pincushions out of old silver napkin rings.

And then there's photos of her new teaching piece - the sampler inspired casket. I've seen this one in the process of being created and I'm always amazed at Betsy's abilities. Her ideas, her designs, and her execution. Not to mention her stitching speed. 

I promise I'll get up a photo of my ornament soon. Weather is gray and dreary and not good for taking pictures.