19 February 2018

My literary weekend

It was an interesting weekend here in Crazyville. Not a lot of stitching was done, but I added to my book collection!

I took another trip to A Book Thing on Saturday morning. They were calling for 3-6 inches of snow and I wanted to get there early, so that I could get to work on time and not be trying to drive in bad weather. I am driving my husband's H3 now, because my car has developed major issues and I am not driving the kids around in that anymore, but just because it has 4WD and looks like it could fight a war doesn't mean  I should be skidding around on ice in it!

It's so easy to get to, but parking is a pain(I know, stop complaining about the parking to get free books, RACHEL!). Last time, I could park on Greenmount Avenue (right by the shop), but Saturday, I had to park a block over and walk through an alley to get to the store. Usually, I would not walk through an alley in a city, even the county seat here (especially not our county seat), but it didn't look unsafe and there weren't a lot of places for someone to hide, so I took the chance. And saved myself some walking.

I will have to post a picture of my haul later, but I got a bunch of books off my Amazon wishlist, and some other books that may be interesting companions to things I have just read. I wish I had a lot of time to look around, because they have a lot of books, even recent releases. I have really gotten into Anne Tyler lately, because she sets her books in Baltimore and she is a master of capturing the city. When I read "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant," I just pictured the neighborhood it was set in and . . . pretty sure it's right near A Book Thing. I also found a nice copy of Widow of the South, which is a great book from 2006 or so, based on a true story. I think I ended up with 40 books or so--if you can, imagine me hauling myself through an alley with an enormous Disney Store totebag over my shoulder and my arms full of books!

It started snowing at about 2. One of the things I love about my job is that they understand I live in the back of beyond and need to be able to get home safely, so, as we are watching all this snow come down and beginning to accumulate, I made the choice to come home. It wasn't as bad up here while I was coming home, but we did end up with 2 or three inches and it was cold enough to freeze. So I settled up for a nice home, home with my family. And my new books!

Yesterday, I did the coolest thing. I live in a really rural county, but whoever is in charge of our library system schedules THE BEST programs. In October, they had someone from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore (which is also the Maryland State Archives) come out and do a program on Edgar Allen Poe, and they always have REALLY GOOD authors come through for readings and book signings. A couple years ago, Wally Lamb came. He is my favorite living author (in case you're wondering, Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite), and I ended up crying in front of him while telling him how much I loved The Hour I First Believed.

Anyway, yesterday was Andrew Morton with his new biography about Wallis Simpson. I have read pretty much all of his books and really liked them. He was very nice in person. I have all my signed books personalized to my kids and he enquired after K's name. HOW COOL!  He discussed Wallis' life and even told us she spent time at a relative's farm out in this area.

I have already started on the book. It's really good so far. Easy to read and interesting. I will let you know how it turns out.

12 February 2018

FInish #2 for the year

I have another finish. It looks odd to see only two finishes at the mid-point of February, but I know my reasons! Sorry for the bad picture!

 Love You Forever
Forever in My Heart Freebie
stitched on Monaco with Anchor floss of my choosing
I spent much of my past "vacation" week working on a cottage design by Victoria Sampler, but I had kitted up this sweet freebie the summer before last in two options, this one and one that is all blue and pink. At some point, it was a freebie on the Wichelt website, but not sure if it's still available.  I'm trying to be a more adventurous stitcher and not use only the called-for colors, and I think this is one that could easily be altered to fit the recipient. At least this colorway worked out well. I plan on doing this as a little door hanger for K to put on her bedroom door, but will also stitch it in the blues and pinks for her little brother. I think he will like it, even with it not being Mickey Mouse--Lolo LOVES Mickey Mouse!
Today I am back working on Summer Ball. I am trying not to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done. But at least I got about 50 stitchies in. LOL

10 February 2018

A Late 2017 Year in Review

Probably not worth the effort to do this in February,but . . . things are just taking a lot longer than I want them to, so why would this be different?  And that is OK, since I can't do anything about it anyway.

I had 31 finishes this year. I think, at this point, rather than list each finish individually, it would just work better if I posted the FB album I have them all listed in.  Mostly ornament-sized finishes.Typically, I would be annoyed with this, but having a newborn who had some issues took a lot of time, and I have been in a stress mode most of the year due to the way my job loss occurred. So any finish is something to celebrate! And I managed to make an ornament this year, a very sweet freebie I gave to Lolo's visiting nurse, Carrie, who was a saint to us all year.

I also participated in the Frosted Pumpkin year long SAL. This was a piece that taught me a lot. Mainly, I don't like SALs. Too much to keep track of and too much self-induced pressure to keep up. And I can be mean to myself. Way mean. So, even though the one they did this year is very cute, I am not doing it, and, to be really honest, I won't be stitching much more of their designs. They are cute, they are just not my thing.

One thing that did happen this fall that got me really thinking was the death of one of my stitch friends. She was older, but it was still sudden. And her amazing son gave my local stitching group as much of her stash as I could fit in my car (another thing I learned is that a Hummer H3 doesn't hold as much as one would think it should. even with the cargo area empty).  We have spent the past three months taking what we want, but finally the rest is going to charity. I got to wondering, what will happen when I pass? I mean, I had a very close call in October 2016, what would have happened had I not made it? what would my husband have done with my stash? Thrown it away, given it to my stitching group (picturing this in my head, he would have to rent a warehouse, take it there, and then take it home. Hmmm.) Should we have plans for our stash estates? And an executor? Is this unreasonable?

09 February 2018

Some January projects

Two posts from me in a month? Wow! I am trying to be more available. Searching for a job is draining, though. Lot of work without much reward.

So, Summer Ball, a 2006 design by Sandy Littlejohns, has been kicking around my UFO pile since the designs came out in Cross Stitch Collection. I really can't tell you why it remained in 1/6 completed status for almost 12 years, except that I find it very intimidating. But, I decided that it would be a focus piece for me this year, because it's bad enough that I have UFOs from my 20s, but I realized I'd be almost 66 when this gets completed if I stay on the same schedule, and I might be dead well before that. So I made it a priority.

This is my major work for the year. My plan is 3 weeks on, one weekend to work on something ornament sized, then work for three more weeks, ornament sized again. When I complete a section, I get a week off to do something else. I think this is very do-able, right? Not too much of an unbroken commitment?

Anyway, here is where I started in January:

And the middle section is complete. At least the stitching. The backstitch is still incomplete. I will do that when the whole thing is done, since there are French knots on Lizzie's dress and I don't want them smashed.  

Going by what this took, it will probably take 2-3 months for each section to be completed. Not that bad. It's a fairly detailed design with lots of fractionals, but I think there at less people on the side sections. That yellow dress took forever: 5 shades of yellow in it!
I also worked on this lovely little piece. It was a freebie by Gazette44 (I think). They did a series of 4 seasonal pieces, which includes a bunny, seagull and squirrel. I have the others kitted up, but did this one to go on my Peace of the Wild Things tree. The threads I used were DMC 3347 and a Threadworx. When I visualized this, it was in some browns, but I loved this Threadworx in the shop as soon as I saw it. So, initially, it was to be all the overdyed. And then I started it and realized that it would look a little too crazy if it were all that way, so picked out a pretty green and went with that. 
I love how it looks. The deer look a lot crisper than they would have looked in the overdyed.  And it's  not as "camo-y" looking. I want to do the other ones, but it looks like that will be summer before that gets done.
My daughter and I had a chance to go to A Book Thing in Baltimore this weekend. It is such a neat place with such a wonderful mission. People (myself included) donate unwanted books to what is, in the end, a FREE bookstore; you want a book, see if they have it, just don't resell it. Pass it on!  I love this place! We couldn't park right there, so it was a little walk, but we got some nice books. My daughter couldn't figure out how we got books and didn't have to pay for them. I just kept explaining that it wasn't a library and we got to keep them. We picked up a bunch of really nice books, some for her, a lot for my boss, who said, "Just bring what you think is interesting!"  LOL. Challenge accepted! If you are ever in Baltimore on a weekend, I highly recommend spending some time here. It's worth it. 

01 February 2018

It has been a long time.

I can not believe it has been just short of a year since I last posted.  2017 might have been a bad year, but at least it went quickly, I guess.

Little bit of a life update for today at least: Logan came home from the NICU after 142 days, on February 15. It took a lot of adjusting to having 2 kids, and there were some medical issues. But we have overcome a lot of the odds and he is doing splendidly. He will be 16 months old next week, and he walked at adjusted age of  11 months old. Not much older than his "normal" sister. We had some struggles to get him developmentally on track, mostly due to the fact that his g-tube "button"--the part that is in their skin--stuck up too high and it hurt him to do tummy time. In August, his wonderful nurse changed it out for a flat one and he took off. Held his head up in a day, crawled on September 10th and then walked just before Thanksgiving. He is eating 100%, loves food, eats like a grown man. Yay!  I have been dealing with PPD as a result of everything we went through. There are not a lot of psychiatrists who take my insurance, and I had a bad experience with the one who did, so that is something I am still struggling with. But I at least have come to understand that I did not cause this prematurity. There was not a single thing I could have done to prevent the pre-eclampsia (I agonized for months that, had I just been more insistent about taking BP meds as a preventative, it wouldn't have happened. Turns out, they don't help. PEC is not a blood pressure condition, it's pretty much an allergy to the placenta) and I am terribly lucky that I did not die from it. That helped a lot. I still have a long way to go. It did not help that I was laid off from my job at the end of November. I am searching for a job, I didn't realize how hard it would be to find a new one. I always could at least temp before. But it's not so easy. My husband's schedule and the lack of school-age care in this area are hampering me, and I am starting to get desperate. My husband came out this morning to see me, sitting in the dark, trying to find some kind of work with benefits.

Anyway, I will be back more often now. I hope everyone is hanging in there.

12 February 2017

January Roundup and

January was a pretty good stitch month for me.    I had 4 finishes for me, and they weren't particularly easy finishes for me.

Summer House
Country Cottage Needleworks freebie
LNS kit up with suggested threads
This was an older freebie that I have had for a while and just decided to start over the Christmas holidays. I finished it on New Year's Day. It's pretty sweet and will end up a cube finish.

July Floss Tag
Needle's Content
stitched with called-for threads on 32 count evenweave
This is another one of those floss tag things. I really want to get this project done. I like these designs, I just do not like the physical process of stitching them.  Because 2/3 of it is a line border and I hate stitching those. There, I have said it. I don't know why I have felt so awkward about admitting that. But I only have 6 more to do, and then the finishing. The finishing isn't hard in and of itself, it actually maybe takes 2 hours to make this into a floss tag, but I also balk at that. I think these are things I can work on while the baby is napping or at lunch breaks, but I really do want to get this completed this year. I just have to get the tool that lets you put in grommets so I can get it done.

 How to be A Mean Mother
Lizzie Kate
stitched with called-for threads and fabric

This was a gift from a friend after I had Lolo. This is not the best phot I chose this as my January 1st start. I think this is the only January 1st start I have ever completed. I love it.  I am going to hang it between the kids' rooms. I just have to have it framed. I plan on doing her "Promise Me" as a gift to the NICU for the excellent care they gave to our family. It won't be ready for this year, but maybe next year's NICU reunion.

Winnie the Pooh blanket kit
I have talked about this one. I finished it and took it to the hospital last week. It's very comfy for him, just a light blankie he can use in the car or at daycare. Lolo enjoyed it in the way only small children can show their appreciation--he spit up on it. It's OK, though. It came out. I still love him, LOL.
And these are my finishes for Feburary.

Year of the Dragon
Dragon Dreams 2012 JCS Ornament Issue
stitched with called for threads on opalescent linen
I have been wanting to do this for Someone Small since she was born. I didn't want to do a Baby's  1st Christmas in the traditional pink and blue for either of my kids, since they have those in other materials. I already stitched Lolo's ornament, so it was time to get on the ball with this. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Dragon Dreams designs and I think this is the coolest one of the all the JCS designs. Someone Small is not that big of a fan of it yet, but she will. Hopefully . . . LOL If not, just leave it at my house.

Happily Ever After SAL (January Block)
Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
called for threads on PTP Crystal Barnwood Lugana
First and foremost, I need to say that I am passionately in love with this fabric. I want, like, 20 yards of it. This has been a kind of challenging stitch. I didn't realize they were releasing the new parts on the first of the month, so I got the second part and had done very little on the first part. So I worked like a frenzied ferret this week, then realized I had miscounted the border and then had to pick out and restitch all that flower border. But I have finished the first block. I am going to try to work on the second block this week, and maybe try to do some of the March block border. I don't know though. I kind of want to work on that border when I get to March.
Other than that, it has been a busy week or so. After many attempts to get him to take a bottle, we finally decided it was in the baby's best interest to put him on a G-tube until he develops the ability to coordinate all his swallowing reflex. It was not an easy choice to make for him, but he turned 4 months old this week, and my insurance is not going to continue to pay for him to be in hospital. So he had the surgery on Friday, and he should come home this week. It was amazing to see him without his nose tube in. He has never not had some sort of tube in his nose. And I have seen him without it twice for maybe 5 minutes, so I am learning my baby's face. And I love it.
He did well. He didn't feel too well on Friday and not so hot yesterday, but this morning, he had a smile for me. He is just the happiest little guy. I went in the other night and he was lying in his crib, smiling. I mean, how awesome is that? He has such joy in life.  I know some of it is that he doesn't know this is not how most babies start their lives, and he doesn't know anything different, but he can choose to be fussy and unpleasant, and he chooses to be gentle and sweet. It inspires me. I can't wait to show him the world.

29 January 2017

Working towards another finish

This is my project for the week.
I have no idea what the actual name of the kit is called, I know I bought it when I had just gotten back into stitching. It's been kicking around my house since 1999, maybe 2000 at the latest.  I thought it would be lovely to wrap one of the babies I thought I would have with my then-boyfriend in, but obviously we didn't have kids together. I finished the stitching years ago, but didn't know how to finish it without a sewing machine at first, and then it was a pretty intimidating project to attempt to finish. I am not good at tying knots, and the idea of tying the knots all around the aghan was distasteful. So, it got put away and forgotten about.
In the meantime, I did two afghans: Santa's Journey, from an old issue of the UK Cross Stitcher, and this cat afghan from the American Cross Stitcher. I had done a freebie tabletopper from Dutch Treat Designs that used nun-stitching to edge the finish as well and I liked it. It seemed like a more pleasing option to finish. So to find out you could edge an afghan!  But it's not a quick technique, so I still didn't use it.  I probably wouldn't have used it on the other two except they were fair entries.  So it stayed in the drawer.
When I found out I was pregnant, I remembered it was there, and what I wanted to do with it, so it came home, where it spent the summer by my couch . . . Do you see where I am going with this? 
Anyway, now that we may be starting to get closer to the end of our NICU stay, I really want to get this done to cover Lolo when he comes home. I started working on the edging a while ago, but I miscounted threads, so all that came out and I restarted it. So far it seems to be moving along. There are 24 block-lengths to do, I have 9 completed. I should have it done by mid week, then I will have this washed and ready to go when we need it. I am not planning on backing this one. I find putting the batting in makes it stiff, and I can't find a flannel I like, nor do I have time to put it on correctly. This project is far from perfect, but it's intended to be used. It was stitched with love and hope, so it needs to be useful.
I have found out that this is not one of the more commonly-known stitches, so I have included a diagram tutorial on how to do it. One of the tips I picked up through the year is to take the threads that are going to be pulled off the sides to do the stitch--it matches the afghan, you're using threads that would be thrown away, AND it costs nothing extra. I like the look of it. Just don't pull them from close to where you're stitching til you are done that side.
So that is all that is going on here. I hope everyone is having an enjoyable stitching week.
I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls