February 02, 2014

Long Ago and Far Away and a Queen Stitch or Two

Hi, all! I've missed you. You know how, when you extoll your car's virtues "car never breaks down, works great, has 200,000 miles and has circled the moon without a problem," it kicks you in the butt to remind you of the foolishness of ever uttering such a thing by breaking down on the way to work? Well, that's kind of what happened after I announced that I had super mojo about my stitching. Like opening a drain and watching the water circle a tub, out the mojo went.

One factor is that I have suddenly, after 58 years of relative inactivity (I'm really GOOD at the sofa-sitting competition) decided to run the Richmond Marathon in November. (Yeah, Terri, thanks a bunch for that.) What? Run? I'm a stitcher! Only thing I've ever run for is a sale at In Stitches (more on that below). Something I can tell you about starting to run at 58: it freaking hurts at first. And then you get better and better. It's like doing queen stitches. I'll never be fast, and certainly not graceful (how I admire those sleek kids who zip by me on the path with their minimalist shoes and efficient form), but I'm getting it done. I'm quite beginning to like it, in fact, along with the 40-pound weight loss that goes with all that sweating and flailing and blisters. I've been spending an appalling amount of money on shoes and socks and running pants and jackets. Not nearly as much as I used to spend on stitching, but pretty close. Of course, all of this has definitely detracted from the stitching, but I did manage a finish in spite of my fuddled, weary self: Behold Peaceful Paradise!
Jennifer in Richmond, I promised this chart to you if you haven't already found it. Please leave a comment w your email, and I'll contact you about a snail mail address.
I was at In Stitches for the Superbowl Sale today. The shop was full of eager stitchers. When I wandered back to the fabric table, this was being kitted up for a customer: Mary Gail by the Scarlet Letter. Mary Gail is stitched in tent stitch, I believe, with the background filled in.
By using this linen, which I believe is called "Tobacco," (you should check with the shop), all that background fill-in is eliminated. Don't you love the AVAS silks spread out on the gorgeous mustard colored linen? That floss toss really caught my eye. And of course, I'm planning on kitting it up myself and stitching it. In between runs.
Last, but not least, is all three pounds of Bad Rabbit Attitude: Tweaker, aka Elvis, to wish you a happy week.

December 29, 2013

Calm Sea, Prosperous Voyage (With Apologies to Mendelssohn)

Belated Christmas greetings, all! I have been reading but not posting. It's been busy, and now things have quieted down just a bit, so there's finally time to do a semi-coherent post. I haven't been stitching tons either, but I did make a little progress on Peaceful Paradise. I have been sticking to it like grim death; I so want this sucker OFF my q-snaps so I can move onto other things. And yes, I started the Shark Sampler (which is what I will call it from now on, although it's officially Mary Johnson 1806 by Queenstown Sampler Designs) on Christmas day, but I don't have much in the way of progress to show, so I'll wait a bit to debut her.
Here's another potential finish for 2014: "Whale Hunting" by Elizabeth Talledo/Dames of the Needle. I'm stitching it on 32 count Americana (I think) using one or two threads over two (as charted) using WDW and GAST.
Since we're speaking of ships, this may be the year for ship themes for me. I'd like to stitch the new "Three Ships" by Shepherd's Bush, and this one too, a recent ebay win for me by Kathy Barrick.
I did my usual pre-Christmas walkabout of Fredericksburg's quaint main street, Caroline Street. There are wonderful antique and gift stores and they decorate their windows for Christmas. Seen in the window of an antique shop is this spool cabinet. Not sure how authentic. The price tag is $268, if I recall correctly.
These feathered hanging lamps were in the window of Commonwealth Lighting. I love them, however impractical they might be.
There is a wonderful toy store in town called the Rocking Horse Gallery. They feature dolls and stuffed toys, as well as artist bears and other handmade items. I'm not sure if they do so now, but in the past, they offered bear-making classes. Tempting when you see these!
I'm off to the Cape on the 1st for a long weekend with my dad, since we didn't get to go at Christmas. I've got my fingers crossed that I don't encounter snow, since I'll be driving. When the traffic's not too bad, I actually like the peacefulness of the passing landscape, the radio playing, and the time with my thoughts. Happy New Year to all of you, from me, the bunnies, and the cats. Pink and Peaches, passing a long winter evening with a little kiss.

December 15, 2013

Old Friends

Hi, all! Time has been speeding up, I think, since Thanksgiving. We went to the Cape for the holiday, joining a zillion other people on the highway: 11 hours up; 13 hours back as we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way from central NJ to Baltimore. It was fun while we were there, though. Here's a photo of one of our meals (I'd rather have this than turkey any day): oysters on the half shell from Martha's Vineyard and Buzzards Bay.
Working in Tysons Corner has its charms sometimes, but the traffic isn't one of them. This is how it looked from my window on Friday evening.
I've been working on Ann Dale by Shakespeare's Peddler. I pull her out every Christmas.
And I'm coming close to a finish on Peaceful Paradise:
This is an older photo of Pink, entertaining himself with my yarn project. He had already chewed on the bamboo needles. Pink: "They were tasty. This, however, is a little stringy."
Amended to add in reponse to Margaret's question: The header piece is a very old project that I started maybe 25 years ago. It's a Clara Waever design from the Eva Rosenstand catalogue. That's how I used to purchase needlework: from a color catalog (advertised in the back of stitching magazines) before I routinely visited needlework shops and of course, long before the internet. It's called "Stockholm," and it's still available. The design measures 18 x 47 on 26 count linen. I am not a fan of the linen that came in the kit--it's rough, and I prefer 40 count anyway, these days. All the same, I think I'll finish it as is. For one thing, the kit came packaged with either Anchor or DMC that is not numbered, so it would be impossible to scrap it and reuse the thread that's left if I wanted to stitch it on smaller count fabric, since it would be difficult to match the thread if I ran out. It's huge and colorful, though, so it's a shame not to finish it. Happy week!

November 24, 2013

Super Mojo

Hi, all! Whatever the opposite of no stitching mojo is, I have it. I want to stitch all day, every day, and it's frustrating me to have to do mundane non-stitching related things like going to work and going to the grocery store and actually having to prepare the stuff I bring home. I started this little motif last night as a break from the large sampler below. It's the Frances Eden sampler by Handwork. I'm stitching using my conversion to AVAS from the charted DMC on 40 count Lakeside Attic Lace.
Don't you love the colors in this? Lots of brick red and lots of green. Sort of Christmasy.
I was at In Stitches for Stitch Night last Wednesday, roaming around taking pictures of stuff as I do, when what did I see but the fully stitched version of this sampler, awaiting framing. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is IRL. The chart cover doesn't even hint at how vivid the colors are. Unfortunately I can't share photos of the finished project, as I haven't asked permission of the stitcher. The stitcher, who is known to me because he's a long-time prolific stitcher/customer of the shop and incredibly skilled with a needle, has stitched the model for the designer on 40 count, but also stitched it for himself on 50+ count Lakeside. The project is interesting in that most of it is stitched using reversible cross using one thread over three. The words are over two. Can't wait to get to work on it, but I'm holding off until Peaceful Paradise is complete and for Christmas day. It's Mary Johnson 1806 by Queenstown Sampler Designs. I believe I may have squealed when I saw the stitched sampler and the lovely shark.
Speaking of Christmas, sometimes it's fun to work a project like this, which aside from the fact that I like stitching Santas, is worked in DMC (and lots of beads) on 32 count antique white linen--two over two.
It's by Mirabilia, of course. I have also started another HAED Santa, but right now I'm working on endless navy blue background and there's nothing much to see. I will mention that I'm working on 30 count, 2 over 2, and that it will take most of the yard of fabric I'm using.
And here's where Peaceful Paradise stands. Thanks to the new Queenstown sampler, this will be finished in the next few weeks.
Elvis and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! May your cups runneth over and may your stitching baskets runneth over as well!

November 10, 2013

What I Need is a Nap

Greetings, all! Long time no see--I've been busy and then sick and then busy and a bunny was sick, so there hasn't been much time or will to post. We had an early bout of the flu here in spite of the fact that I got the flu shot. Perhaps it was for a different flu, or it didn't have quite long enough to work before I got sick. Then Elizabeth got an infection, and we went to visit the exotic vet early one morning. They kept her all day, which is good, because the vet is near my job, and I was going to have to stash her in the litigation work room all day (the lawyers would not have found a bunny in the work room to be amusing). She's on the mend and so am I, and I've even been able to stitch a bit again. I haven't been able to focus, and I didn't want to start something new (although I have purchased the new oval Scarlet Letter sampler), so I'm all over the place in my stash. I won't show you the half dozen projects I picked up and stitched a line or a motif and zippered back into their project bags.

Ann Smith: I've been working on this for a long time. There is a LOT of over-one in it. Tons and tons of over-one. But I've made a little progress, and I do love the design and the bright colors.
Here's how she'll look when she's done.
Lois Minshall by Threads of Gold: I like this sampler, I really do, but it's a tad boring. But I'm soldiering on with it.
Here's how Lois will look when she's completed. Frankly, both these samplers feel like work.
"Christmas Garden" by Blackbird Designs. I've switched to overdyed silks from the charted overdyed cottons. Love the design, but this feels like work too right now. I think I need a smaller design, something more Christmasy than this; something with snow and sparkle and bling and red birds or chickadees or snowmen. Something. Maybe a nap instead.
It has turned cold and windy here, and I've been clothes shopping a few times but haven't found anything I like much. I bought some black pants. I have a lot of black pants, but that's what I wear most days. I can't find a top I like. Why does everything seem so cheesey and cheap? I do not have time to knit myself a sweater, but that's what I'd like to do, so that it's exactly what I want. The stores do not seem to sell what I want. I do not want to wear glittery tops in the daytime. I do not want a sweater with big paste gems on it. I do not want to wear something loud. I want something dignified, understated and plain in a good fabric. I found myself lingering in the bedding section, though, looking at the nice flannel sheets and the flannel comforter cover over the soft down comforter. I should have bought those. I did get some new thick socks to wear inside boots though. They're attractive, but I don't think they're going to last. Why is everything constructed to be retired or thrown away after a season?
Elvis: "I'm about to have a nap in this box. You could lie down on that sofa over there. You seem cranky."
Off I go to make a chicken pot pie. (Then I might have a nap while it's baking) Happy week ahead!

October 13, 2013

Gingham Dog, Calico Cat and Stalin Rabbit

Hi, all! It has been raining steadily here for nearly a week, so my photos are a little off today, but here's what I've accomplished since my last post: I've mentioned that I want to finish up some old projects before taking on new ones. I had been going to start a new project with each major and minor holiday, and I've backed away from that. I think I'll just start one, once I've finished up a few more WIPs. Here we have The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, by Carriage House, stitched on 40 count using the called-for NPI fibers. Almost done!
Winter Welcome by Country Cottage Needleworks, stitched on 40 count older Lakeside from my stash--I think light exampler--using the called for DMC and GAST fibers, with some Kreinik blending filament thrown in to make the white sparkle. I am also not using the DMC Light Effects called for since I find it dull. I've substituted some tinsel-y Kreink instead. I'm trying to make the October 26 Christmas framing deadline, as it's a Christmas gift (for someone who doesn't read my blog).
Very modest progress on Peaceful Paradise--I'm a little tired of it. I will probably miss my self-imposed October 26 deadline to have it framed, but no matter. There's always later.
Another shot of Elizabeth this week (Elvis wouldn't pose). Tom thinks her mustache makes her look like Joseph Stalin. Elizabeth: "You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves."
Happy week! Hopefully you have Columbus Day off and can get some extra stitching accomplished. Sadly, I do not....

September 29, 2013


Happy Sunday! Today has been busy, but I have a little finish to show you. I started it yesterday, and today it's done! It is "French Country--Scaredy Cats" by JBW Designs. It's from 2010; I ran across it in my stash when I was hunting for a pumpkin pin pillow to work on. (I found one, no picture though until I have some more progress.) I stitched on it yesterday afternoon and evening, and almost finished. This morning I finished up the stitching at the car dealership while I waited for my little car to go through its 15,000 mile check-up. The dealership is a very comfortable place to stitch, with big comfy chairs and all those windows for the showroom. One of the things I appreciate about living in an urban area is that the mega dealer where I purchased my car has service hours from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm, no appointment required. So I took it in at 8 am today and was back on the highway and running errands by 9:30. My next stop was Jo-Ann's, where I selected the polka dot backing fabric, interfacing, the trim and the thread. Those are Gutermann Sew-All thread spools, by the way. I love the fact that they don't tangle and knot. I stitched the design using a 40 count Lakeside remnant leftover from Liz Easdon, using AVAS from my stash (charted for Sampler Threads and Weeks Dye Works).
It has been a while since I visited a Jo-Ann's, and it was a fun visit. Their supply of craft/stitching/knitting/quilting magazines is huge, and I loaded up. I wandered around, looking at the various fabrics I could use as backing for other ornaments(including a huge supply of Independence Day type fabrics), and lecuring myself about not re-acquiring a fabric stash. Once upon a time, I was a fairly active sewing enthusiast and had a pretty large supply of fabrics which I gave away when I realized that I wasn't an eager home dec sew-er and that I found sewing clothing tiresome. Many of the fabrics at Jo-Ann's, including the fabric I bought, seemed to be fairly good quality.
Then I headed for home, where I measured and cut and fused and stitched, then stuffed the pillow with Poly-fil and finally applied the trim (love the trim). The trim is stitched on. The interfacing didn't fuse to the linen particularly well, but it did lend enough stability that when I stitched the whole packet together, there wasn't any dreaded fraying (remembering my horror as the seams I stitched on some Christmas ornaments frayed right past the stitching) and since those nearly ruined ornaments were due as a gift that weekend, I spent some panicky time fixing them (by using fabric glue to attach them to some black cardboard and then jamming the results into a couple of Christmas tree ornament frames). They turned out fine, but I may never be the same!
Here's the back of the ornament. Now, of course, I'm anxious to stitch and stuff and embellish some more. Jo-Ann's carries a decent number of trims and beads and crystals too. Several years ago I worked in NY City for about 6 months, just down the street from M and J Trimming. At lunch I would browse the button collection and the trims.
By the way, if you get the Pier One Imports little catalogue in the mail, look on the last page for the gold ornament tree. I am thinking of getting one to deck with all the ornaments I'd like to stitch! Here's a link to the online page with the trees.
I've been working on "Christmastide at Holly House" (The Scarlett House) lately also. I love the brickwork in this design.
And of course, I continue working on "Peaceful Paradise."
Juliet/Crafty Green Poet asked last post if poor Elvis had friends now. Yes, he's madly in love with Elizabeth, pictured here. When the former threesome broke up, Pink and Peaches cast Elvis out, and he was beside himself with grief at their rejection. So although we didn't really want another rabbit, we let him choose a new mate when he was boarded at the bunny rescue/sitter, and we came home with Elizabeth. She is quite devoted to him, even though she's standoffish with us. We don't mind, as long as he's happy
I have noticed some wonderful new designs coming out. Am I the only one planning some year-end/new year starts at Thanksgiving, Christmas (the day after Christmas, the day after that, etc.) and New Year's eve and day? That about covers it for me! Tell all! I have a few more large finishes this year and early next year, so I have room in my rotation for a few half a dozen new large starts. More about that next time. Happy week!