August 10, 2014

Remembering Elvis

Happy Sunday, all! First of all, in answer to a couple of questions I received about my banner photo: the name of the piece is "Alphabetissimo," by Papillon Creations.

I mentioned in my last post that I had injured my knee and that I'd be undergoing surgery for it. Sure enough, I accomplished that on August 1. I'll be off my feet and off work for 2-3 weeks total with a total recovery time of about 12 weeks. The surgery went well, but the news wasn't particularly inspiring: I'll have to work hard to get back about 80% of my knee's function, and there will be a knee replacement in my future most likely, and no running. I'm grateful that I've got as much function as I do though, and that I feel better and stronger every day and that I had strengthened my knee going into surgery with two months of physical therapy. And that I like to stitch, because I have been passing the time very nicely with needle in hand, leg up on the sofa/recliner/bed. I've read some also, but mostly stitched. The first few days after surgery, while post-anesthesia and under the influence of pain pills, I stitched small designs on 32 count. When I ditched the pills, I decided to commemorate the time off my feet--so that I'd have a "souvenir" of my surgery (other than the medical bills). So I chose something from my stash that I really liked, had already started but hadn't made a lot of progress on, and would normally take me a year or more to stitch. I'd like to finish it no later than Labor Day weekend. That's a LOT of stitching between now and then, but it gives me something more useful to do than eat carton after carton of Yeungling Ice Cream (if you live in PA, you know what I mean).
One week down, and this is where I stand so far. Jane Clarkson 1856, by Samplers Revisited. I'm stitching her on 40 count Lakeside in Maritime White, using the recommended NPI silks.
Here's a closeup of the house:
And a shot of the finished sampler from the Samplers Revisited trunk show that was at In Stitches several months ago.
Sadly, since my last post, I lost darling little Elvis, to a stroke. He was the best bunny ever. He was a lionhead with a giant heart in his little three pound body. I adopted him from the Alexandria, VA animal shelter. He hated being in a cage, particulary since he was alone. The first time I saw him, I fetched him out of the cage and he licked my nose like a puppy. He loved being petted and cuddled.
He was alone until we got first Pink, and then Peaches. How he loved to cuddle with other rabbits. Here he is with Peaches.
And with Pink.
Even better if he could cuddle with everyone at once. He'd squeeze himself in between the two bunnies. Unfortunately, Peaches and Pink bonded separately, and the other two would no longer accept him. He was beside himself with grief at being excluded. It was terrible seeing his pain.
So we allowed him to choose a new mate, Elizabeth. I didn't particularly want Elizabeth, but he fell in love with her, so we brought her home. They doted on each other to the end. She seems to miss him, but she's ok alone, fortunately. Had he been the one to survive, we would have had to find him another bunny. Some bunnies just aren't meant to be alone.
As we get older ourselves, we try not to replace our pets as they pass away. That makes each death even more poignant, but it seems the responsible thing to do, even if we are terribly sad at the passing of each furry family member.
Best wishes to all for a wonderful week ahead.

July 06, 2014

Round Here

Hi, guys! It's been a while, but in the waning hours of my three-day weekend, I thought I would catch you up on what's on my Q-snaps. Those who know me as a "serious" stitcher might be surprised to see this little whimsical design and the equally whimsical framing treatment (framed by In Stitches--thanks, Karen for suggesting the grass-green linen fillet). Fun! This was a two-weekend project, more or less. This is "Daisy Dog" by Stitchy Kitty. I used the called-for overdyed cotton fibers and a piece of 32 count PTP in Aerial (I think) from my stash.
Here's a little something that surfaced when I cleaned out a closet this weekend--from time to time it has shown up over the years and I figure it's time to get it framed. It's on 14 count aida, and it's kind of charming. In the right frame, it'll be a cute addition to my kitchen full of oddball, brightly framed projects (white walls, white cabinets, white counters--something has to break up that monotony).
Another old friend: Beatrix Potter Alphabet. I bought it about 25 years ago, as a kit. I don't love the linen--it's a bit meshy--but I do like the design. Lots of backspacing which brings the animals into focus--sheesh.
Blackbird Designs' Agnes Platt: I'm on the the last third of the design with the strawberry baskets.
A close-up: I'm using 40 count Maritime white I think, and a conversion to Belle Soies.
I've started up again on Winter at Beacon House by Praiseworthy Stitches, using the called-for overdyed cottons (GAST and WDW):
I just purchased this, and it arrived yesterday in the mail. By Madame Chantilly. I love the design. Because I'm using fabric from my stash which is a different color from the called-for "natural," I'm changing the colors, using overdyed threads instead of the called-for DMC colors (there's also one European skein--onyx, which is an overdyed black-to-gray. Instead of the onyx, I will use "Midnight," which is I think a Gentle Art floss in a dark navy-to slightly lighter blue.
And, not really last, since I have at least another half dozen things going (will show you those next time), I started With Thy Needle and Thread's "Patriotic Poppies." I'm using the called for cotton fibers and a piece of Picture This Plus 40 count Legacy from my stash. I changed the white of the sheep because my fabric was a different color than the one suggested by the designer.
Here's an older photo of Peaches saying hello. All four of the bunnies are doing well. I have recently blown out a knee going down a simple flight of stairs, when my kneecap jumped the track and created all kinds of ligament havoc. That has probably put an end to my running, but I'm biking now, walking regularly, and I'm taking up weight training, which my orthopedist highly recommends for his older patients, since it builds bone density. My vacation was spent not at the beach but sitting on my sofa, stitching for a solid week. There are worse things, for sure!

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!