31 August 2009

New WIP photos

I just got time to do this. I spent the last hour lugging magazines to the garage. Oh, la, is my sewing room messy. But I've managed to move the sewing machine to beside the couch (and found out that it actually can be used to sew clothes, which I freely admit I was slightly worried it could not do, but I guess that would have been suitable punishment for leaving it in the box this long) and I had a sort through my magazines and found things I want to stitch, so this is good. But I guess I better get that pile off the dining room table. HMMMM . . .

Carrying on, I have time to share photos of my WIPs. You can't laugh. They're slightly pathetic at this point.

First is the Hummingbird Trellis afghan. I haven't worked on it in at least a year. You can almost see a hummer there, now that I'm working with a lot of half stitches. I figure if I can get two squares done by the end of the year, that's good progress.

Then we have LK's Cat Lover Too, my work project. It's a pretty fun stitch. It will probably end up as a pillow. This is probably one of the oldest charts in my stash. When I picked it up 3 weeks ago, all that was done were a few stitches in the heart. I gave up quickly on this one, LOL. But it should be done in a few weeks. I did make a few color changes to give it a bit more punch. And I don't think I'll be using that Sugar Plum (the bird) again. Very odd dyejob.

Manic Monday

The weekend was just not long enough.

Next year, I will make State Fair weekend a three day one. Much easier on me.

I didn't get much stitching done last night. I got home at 9 and I was so tired and so grumpy (work makes me grumpy and the patrons last night were acting oddly--I guess the heat got to them)that I just sat on the couch like a lump. I didn't want to work on Hummingbird Trellis; that really needs at least an hour or so of relaxed time in order to minimize frogging and I was in a frog-attracting mood. And Cat Lover Too was in the car; that's my work WIP. So I showed SO all the cool recipes I got at the fair. And the cruise schedule from Baltimore. We both like the idea of being able to take our car to the port, leaving it there, and not having to catch a 5AM flight. And the destinations seemed reasonable--we could still go to the Caribbean or New England and Canada, so I don't know.

I have to get my sewing room cleaned up before we go on vacation. That is my task this evening. Can you tell that I am NOT looking forward to it? It needs to be done. I know that, it's just not something I want to do. But it is so much nicer to come into a room that is spotlessly clean and pretty. And I'm not being a good steward of my possessions by treating them like I do. Anyway, I figure it shouldn't take TOOOO long, just lots of trips upstairs and down. And it will give me a chance to pick something to work on at the beach. Such hard decisions--it can't be anything that can't be washed, not too many colors, no little parts that could be lost, and no dark fabrics, since it's hard to work on those in the evenings.

I'm so hoping that our vacation goes well. It's been a very long hard year for us. Neither of us had truly restful time off--SO used up a lot of his vacation with illness, and I know I ended up working most of my days off. And the money situation--I know we don't have it too horribly bad, but it's enough that I don't think I'll ever spend frivolously again. I keep hoping we get the same kind of beautiful weather we enjoyed last year, and time to reconnect without having to worry about anyone else. One thing though, I'll bring plenty of long and short sleeved shirts. Don't want to make the mistake I did last year of not having enough short-sleeved shirts.

I know I've skipped around today, but hey, it's MANIC Monday. Hoping you had a fantastic day!

30 August 2009

State Fair Results

Yesterday, I left the house at 6:45 AM to go meet up with my mom and one of my co-workers, Joan, to go to the state fair. I wasn't sure what time the fair opened, but Mom had to go to Pennsylvania for a family reunion, so wanted to get there early and leave early; I have to work today, so I couldn't go.

We got to Timonium around 9. It was overcast, and they had been calling for rain and cooler weather this weekend. They called wrong. It was so hot and humid on the fairgrounds; my hair was a big frizzy nightmare and I had a bad case of red face by the end of the day. But it was a fun day.

The Home Arts building didn't open til 10, so we headed over to the Cow Palace to check out the Birthing Center. 3 little incubators of baby chicks were hatching while we were there--pretty cool! There was one little bull calf that had been born overnight and another intensely laboring cow. We watched them for an hour, then went to check on my stitching and have lunch. When we came back, her baby was born, and another cow was in the birthing pen, and we got to watch her baby be born. So cute!

My stitching did reasonably well. I Love My Kitty, Peace and Warm Water Wash won nothing. Warm Water Wash was in the "other" class with a lot of entries, so I understand that. I am a little disappointed that I Love My Kitty got nothing, but I love that piece, and am biased. My kitten picture took second, as did Sweet Little Berries and Like Feathered Wings. The kitten afghan took second as well, but it was up against a more elaborately stitched afghan, so I get that placing. The sachet and my ornament were also non-winners; I expected the sachet to get nothing, and I guess the ornament class always has a lot of entries.

Treaty Fairy took first. She was displayed up towards the front of the building. The lady working there told me there were a lot of fairies entered, but mine was special, so she wanted it away from the others. Also that the fabric was something she would have never thought to use, but, with my piece, it was perfect. So that feels fantastic. Treaty is redeemed!

The best news, though, is the lions. They took third in the special contest! I am so pleased with that. I couldn't have asked for more from that and am super-stoked.

We also took advantage of the commercial booths to pick up some great sounding recipes. Lots of wonderful crab recipes and an awesome black bean salsa that was fresh and healthy!

I had to stay at Mom's to dogsit. Chancey was so happy that she got to go for a ride with me to McDonald's just as it started raining, but was not too happy that, when we got back to the house, she had to wade across the wide stream that replaced the gutter. I guess the heat must have gotten to me more than I thought, because I fell asleep at 9 and didn't wake back up til this morning. I usually don't sleep that long, but I was tuckered.

26 August 2009

Thoughts on fairs

A comment by Riona got me thinking yesterday. She is thinking about entering things in her fair next year and thought I should write an entry on the fair process.

First and foremost, THANK YOU for wanting to enter your local fair! You should definitely do it! A lot of people will give reasons NOT to enter the fair, but I've NEVER had a bad experience, and I've been entering things for 21 years, ever since I was an 11-year old 4-Her and entered a blue gingham sundress (which was horrid, made worse by the fact that I transitioned it into fall wear courtesy of a white button-down shirt and sneakers, worn with white socks. I was HAWT!) and I support our agricultural fair with all my heart.

So I've been thinking about actually writing serious entries sharing my fair preparation techniques. By now, I have a pretty good system worked out that satisfies me, seems to minimize overall stress, and works out well. I thought I would start out with a general overview. Hopefully, someone will find them useful.

Now is the time of year to start thinking about entering the fair. Next year's fair. Yes, you heard me. NEXT YEAR. Hopefully, you can still enter this year. PLEASE enter this year if your fair hasn't occurred yet. The fair needs your support. BADLY. Go, check out the stitching. How often do we get the chance to look at real stitching that wasn't done by a model stitcher? There's a chart I saw that I want to do now because it was so amazing. Look at everything in the home arts--there are crafts of all kinds. And, if you're lucky, they're doing demonstrations--I made a bit of bobbin lace because someone was demonstrating it. How cool is that? I wouldn't have a chance to learn it otherwise. You can also take the time to see how they maintain the building they store the home arts in. Our home arts are in a large, clean, air-conditioned building, with volunteers. The items are protected by plastic. Mom used to actually play with the entry tags so my name was prominent, but you can't do that anymore. It would be hard to steal anything without getting noticed. They also protect the quilts so you can't touch them.

But, if it's already passed, or it's this week, or it's next week, but you can't enter anything because the entry deadline passed, start thinking about next year. It's not too early to start getting ready. I'm already thinking of stuff for next year. It's good to go to the fair website, go to the fair catalog, and look at the available classes. Then you can make a tentative list of what you would like to aim to enter.

My major piece of advice is to have realistic expectations. One of the biggest arguments against entering is that people don't make money. I have never recouped the money I spend on my stitching by entering it in a fair. I've never entered it with that as the goal. I enjoy the money I win, but it's not about the money. Also, we all can't win every class. I know I occasionally gripe about my placements, but please don't take me seriously. There are many factors that go into the decisions, and I try to grow from them. I realize I need to focus on improving my finishing. That's a goal for 2009. But I can't say that I completely disagree with any of the lower placements I got this year--the Santa ornament finishing wasn't the best I could have done because I was tired and annoyed by the time I got to finishing him. As far as my sachet went, it wasn't the best finishing. Kitty's whiskers weren't straight--my fault, I didn't tell the framer they needed to be straight when I took it in. There really weren't pieces in my entries this year that I can say, "This deserved Best in Show and I got hosed." I got what I earned.

Also, it is ESSENTIAL that you read the rules and follow them, even if you don't agree. Let me explain why this is so important. When I was a 4-Her, I showed dogs. They were particularly explicit about the dress code to show dogs--black or 4-H green skirt or pants, white collared shirt or blouse and a black or green tie or ribbon tie, ONLY. I didn't like the ribbon tie; I was 15 and this was suburban Maryland, there I was in my too cute Sam and Libby ballet flats, sky-high bangs, and a RIBBON BOW TIE. And I was particularly outraged to find out half the other kids showed up sans bowtie, or black or green pants or skirt. BUT . . . not a single one of those kids placed high in any class they entered, not even the agility class, which my dog won, with her stumpy little legs and her attitude. I don't know if she was truly the fastest dog on the course, but we won (of course, I was standing there while they read off the results, thinking, "Surely we were at least the 14th fastest dog out there. Come on," then, "Couldn't we at least have been 10th or 8th, or 5th?"). We won overall reserve grand champion of the show, and I can't help but think that half of the recognition we got was because I wore the approved outfit, like it or not. So, when I read the rules now, and see the criteria they judge stitching on, even though I don't like that the county judges size including frame, I follow that. You can also get information that improves your stitching from the rules. Our fair judges the appropriateness of the frame to the entry. This has improved my approach to framing in that I now view stitching as a story. The frame completes the story and is vital, so you want to take time to pick "the right" frame, not just the closest or the cheapest. It does show in the finished product--so many GORGEOUS pieces get entered with ugly frames and it's not the same.

So there's the first entry about fairs. I am going to start researching to see if I can find some more information about the topic.

25 August 2009

It's Exchanging TIME

I decided to sign up for a couple ornament exchanges this year. Two for Halloween, one for Christmas.

I don't normally do exchanges, I have to admit. Deadlines are not something I handle well (although this year, I have to say, once I took the "Whatever" attitude, the fair preparation got a lot more enjoyable). But I've always had fun with exchanges, to the point I caught myself wondering when they would start up.

I've been assigned two partners out of the three exchanges. Both are non-US residents. One Halloween partner is from Australia, my Christmas partner is from South Africa. I want to make it really nice for my Halloween partner, since she's always wanted to join a Halloween exchange and never has. I'm tickled to death to get overseas partners, especially for Halloween, since most countries don't celebrate this holiday and it's fun to pick out small goodies to put in the packages for them. Last year, courtesy of Walmart, I had a blast shopping for my partner, and I already found a small treat bag and a necklace kit at Michaels that I can't imagine someone not liking. They had some other things, too, but I figure they'll be on sale at Michaels in a week or so, so I can wait. I found out you can ship candy, so that's good--I see some candy corn and caramel apple pops in her future, LOL.

I just have to figure out what charts to stitch. I've been blessed to get some really cute things in the last two years. Two years ago, my partner sent me a pumpkin pillow ornament she designed herself. It stays up at work all year and my co-workers love it. Last year, I got a beautiful notebook from my partner with a stitched piece on top--too pretty to use, but perfect as a treasure. I have to sit down and go through my charts and figure out what would be best.

Any suggestions?

24 August 2009


It was a very long day yesterday.

I didn't get home til quarter to 11. After work, I went over to Mom's to get my fair entries ready for the state fair, so she can take them over today. (Remind me, I need to make her a huge pan of Chicken-stuffed Shells in reward for this). My aunt (the fabulous finisher of my afghan) was up visiting, and they had gone out to dinner, so I had to sit around and wait til they got back, because my entries were locked in my mom's car.

The biggest part of getting ready for the fair was measuring things. The county fair doesn't use the same system as the state fair; county measures with frame, state design only. I think the state fair rules are a bit more logical, since it should be stitched area judged against stitched area. I do admit the frame issue with the county fair is why I tend to stay away from mats, since they add width and, in addition to the frame size, they can make a medium piece have to go up against large things it shouldn't be up against.

And I got to read the judges' comments on my stitching. I pretty much agree with all the comments except the fifth place ones. They didn't like my ornament because I didn't finish the back of the paper stocking. HUNH? That wasn't in the instructions on the ornament in the magazine, who would be lifting up the paper stocking to look at the back? OK. They also didn't like the finishing on the sachet, but I did my best. I can't do more than that.

And of course we spent some time laughing and talking. I don't get to see my aunt much, which is bad because she's fun to spend time with. I did find out my brother's GF has apparently seen a ghost in my parents' rental house. My aunt believes her because of some experiences that she had in the house. I am not so sure. I said it was probably my grandmother coming down, but my aunt didn't think so. I don't know; SO has to go fix something in the house this week, so I told him to watch for it, but he's probably at greater risk from my brother's dogs than the ghost.

So I didn't have time to go through my stitchy mail. 3 packages were waiting for me! I opened them before work today.

The first was from 123Stitch, and had two huck towels in it. I wanted to make sure they would work for my cat project, which I discovered is actually called Millenium Cats, by Pam Kellogg. They do work! Woo hoo. I have some ideas for how they will be. I hope it works out how I imagine it. And, when I ordered them, I couldn't resist buying By the Bay's Tidal River, which I now see is a series, PS Fall Fields (it had a fox and a squirrel--I have a horrid, insatiable weakness for foxes and squirrels), and SB Halloween Night. I figure I was being pretty good.

I also got the newest issue of WOXS, sent to me from my friend Kathy in England. It has a wonderful Charlie's Ark calendar. I am very drawn to them--I think they would make great birth announcements. There's a nice horse design in there by the guy who did the mural on the ceiling of the Georgia Aquarium. And one of Brooke Nolan's angels. I've been eyeballing these angels, but really want to see how hard they are to do before I spend money on them. So that's a great thing to see.

Lastly, a month or so, I got a mailing for the 2010 Cross Stitch and Needlework Calendar. It had a great Halloween design in it, and a picture of a squirrel. They were offering it for $11.98, and then you can get the future ones. Well, I paid $26 for last year's calendar. I liked the squirrel and the Halloween design. And there was a Nora Corbett that's nice. why pay full price for something I'll end up buying anyway, when I can get it at a reasonable price? So that came and was waiting last night. It was $15 with the shipping. Not too bad. I am itching to do that Halloween design, but at least I have it now!

23 August 2009

I must be nutcakes

After I finished Fall Cat last night, I decided to pull out my Hummingbird Trellis afghan WIP. I haven't worked on it at all since I moved in, and it needs to be worked on. Plus, with fall coming on, it's not such an effort to work on it. Not as my primary piece, though. I am not carrying it back and forth to both jobs. My other UFOs can be done at work. A 30 square afghan, all the floss, and the key, are not something I want to be fooling with on my lunch break.

It did rather floor SO to see that afghan roll out of seemingly nowhere. His first question was, "Will that be done in time for the fair next year?" After I stopped laughing, I told him no.

Him: How long have you been working on that?

Me: (thinking) About 4 years. I had to pick one of the squares out and start over.

Him: (counting the number of completed squares.) You've done four. How long will it take you to get that done?

Me: Well, judging by my past progress of one square a year, it will take me 30 years.

Him: (trying to be reasonable) But at that rate, it will take forever. I mean, you'll be an old lady by the time you get it done.

Me: (looking through the pattern and finding Square 22)Yeah, but 2027 will be a banner year.

So he agrees it is a masterpiece, and worth taking 30 years to do. I'll try to go a bit faster. I'm half finished with square 3. He was suitably impressed that this will take 19 skeins of white, as well he should be. I wonder if he worries that I continue to pull mysterious, previously unseen by him, UFOs out of nooks and crannies. He did ask why I start all these large projects. I shrugged my shoulders. I was in my 20's. Who knows why we do half the things we do at that age? I guess we're so busy trying to grab the brass ring before we're old that we don't quite figure out life starts at 30. Or at least it gets easier.

I think he does really like it. He likes the more realistic stuff over the primitive things I stitch. And I just remembered, I've actually only been working on it for 3 years. That first year, I was trying to stitch with Anchor, I really had zero clue about how to stitch an afghan and I ended up ripping it out and starting over. So four squares in three years is a good start. LOL. Hopefully, by the end of September, I'll have 5 squares done.

22 August 2009

After three years . . . finished

Another one that I am happy to have finally finished. This one is one that I've picked up every three months or so and worked on, but it felt never-ending. Not any more!

I've made some color changes from the original, and I am not using the buttons the original pattern called for, but I don't think it will hurt the overall effect I think this is going to end up being a wallhanging, if I can find some good fall fabrics in tones that compliment it. Or else a bellpull; it's a little small for a regular frame. I don't know . . . but it's finished, and I'm off to wind the leftover floss onto bobbins! Woo hoo!

A WIP update for a stormy day

As promised, here is a post of my current WIP, Sisters and Best Friends Fall Black Cat Sampler. Almost finished at this point. Depending on how many of my other projects for the day get accomplished, I want to get this finished today.

19 August 2009

Questions to be answered

Musings from a 3-bedroom Ranch had these questions on it the other day, and I think they are great questions that need to be answered!

1)Why do you stitch? It fills a need to create that I have. When I was a child, I wrote stories. When I was a teenager, I acted and sang. When I went to college, I made clothes and did makeup. I graduated and had no creative outlet. Stitching fills the void that was left when I couldn't "do" the other things. I'd been doing it since I was 12, but it became a passion at 22.

2) On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least important and 10 being most important what is your cross stitch passion level? 10, definitely. This is my niche. The only other things I have ever been this passionate about are my dogs and probably my makeup design work.

3)If you're only option for cross stitch supplies and patterns happened to be the major chain craft stores would you just walk away from the little X? Kiss it goodbye? Nope. I didn't know you could go to a store that just sold cross stitch til 8 years ago. I've been stitching since I was 12.

4)Also are you so passionate about cross stitch that if indeed your only option was the major chain craft stores, would that inspire you to create your own cross stitch pieces because you have to stitch and you've stitched your way through the whole of Dimensions catalog--because you must stitch and the thought of life without a relationship with the little X leaves you feeling empty? I would. I've been toying with design. The only thing holding me back now is lack of charting software.

5)Finally what do the cross stitch magazines on the market offer you? Do they relate to you as a cross stitcher? Do you look at them and think to yourself, who do they think buys this magazine? I guess what I'm asking, when you see the current cross stitch magazines do they make you feel like they know their readers or do you find it's more of the same? What could they do to be ambassadors for the art of cross stitch other than putting a sampler on the cover with "F-U" on it? What are we missing on a PR level that could change the opinion of cross stitch itself? Honestly, we need a famous celebrity stitching to build interest in the craft. If only Miley Cyrus would stitch, we'd be set. I'm only half kidding here. I think the magazines offer a lot to me. A variety of charts for one price, but sometimes it does seem like it's the same design over and over. I have never seen anyone stitch a Gail Bussi design and yet, she still gets in magazines. Lesley Teare makes me feel the same way.

The problem, in general, with craft is that it lacks cool points. People have this idea that it's "too." Too time consuming, too boring, and that people judge them. And I've sat people down, showed them that it's a wonderful stress reliever, there are quick projects, and that most people react kindly to my stitching. It's worthy to be crafty.

6) And finally, finally, do you do other crafts and if so what are they and why do they pull you away from cross stitch? I don't do other crafts. I've tried, but I was raised to believe you should focus on one thing at a time, and I've always followed that.

Nice Halloween freebie

At the website for Just Cross Stitch.

It's a black cat on a pumpkin. HOW CUTE!

It's time to clean off the desktop

I'm getting a new laptop at work, so they can move us over to working from home (which would be utterly completely awesome if it happens, but I am not holding my breath), so I am going through the stuff I saved on my desktop and getting rid of it. It's kind of a good time to start deciding what projects I want to stitch for my "Year of Stitching Freebily" project, so not a bad thing.

One of the projects I've decided to finally undertake is to stitch a series I printed off Pam Kellogg's website in the summer of 1999 (what an appropriate post after my hoarding post of yesterday). They were a series of calendar cats. I have always planned on doing them on handtowels, but somehow, in the last 10 years, never actually found time to do them. I look at them occasionally and think, "Wow, I printed those off when I was looking for a Schipperke puppy and I still haven't done them. I ROCK." Well, I did do one, but that was because it was someone's round robin project. But I think I will finally make them a priority. Of course, they're not on her website anymore, LOL. But that's the plan, as soon as I get 12 of those hand-towels with the aida center section on them. I could probably dye a few to get a little bit of a different feel to them. I have to think on this, but not long, or else I'll find something else to stitch.

I'm almost finished my S&BF Fall Cat Sampler. Oh, la, the problems. Some evil human being--me--stuck a skein of WDW Mascara in the envelope during a cleaning fit. When I picked it up the other day, I didn't check my floss. Because WHO ON EARTH would put a totally random skein of black overdyed in a project that used another color of black over-dyed floss by the same manufacturer? I have two different colors of black Weeks floss in the cat's tail and in the Raven. But I don't care. I'm not picking it out. You can tell, but it's one of those things that no one is really going to point out, and I'm leaving it. I don't know if I'll have enough of this skein of ocean for the sampler lettering. I had an entire skein, but it doesn't look like enough. And the chances that I'll find a skein that matches three years after I bought this one? Slim to none. But I'll make it work. I'll try to post a photo, at least by Friday night. We're off to the fair tonight, and I have to work late tomorrow night, so Friday it will be.

Oh, if you have the chance, read Julie and Julia: my year of cooking dangerously. Yes, the book that the movie is based on. If you don't know, it's about a woman who was seeking an outlet and decided to cook her way through Julia Child's The Art of Mastering French Cooking. And she blogged about it. I'm not the whole way through it yet, but it's good so far. The cooking parts are a bit different, and I won't be buying The Art of Mastering French Cooking. Because I'm not poaching eggs in red wine, and I don't eat organ meat. I consider it enough of an accomplishment that I cooked shrimp last night, and, thus far, seem to have not developed food poisoning (although the day is young). But what I find to be interesting are her thoughts on writing, particularly blogging. How she felt she couldn't let her readers down by not blogging while she was moving the week of the first anniversary of September 11th, how good it felt to get comments. It's kinda neat to read that and compare to how I feel about blogging and writing. And, I'll admit, steaks cooked in butter sound AWESOME.

18 August 2009

Busy busy busy

I didn't get a lot of stitching time last night.

I couldn't bear to look at the debris field of my closet, and so I put that back together, and organized in there. I am giving away more of my clothes. I figure, if I don't wear them, why keep them in the house? I know, I know, there is a debate about how donating clothing doesn't help, especially in impoverished countries, because it discourages people from buying locally made clothes, and a lot of clothing gets wasted here in the US, but it's not doing anyone any good in my closet and it takes up room. Except if it's ruined, then it's getting pitched. I don't give away stained clothes. If I won't wear it because of a stain, no one else should either. If you had one shirt to wear, would you really want to have that shirt have a big stain on it? And I'm not buying more stuff.

But til I got all that put back into place, all my shoes put back in the bottom of the closet, fed the dogs and threw them a BIG stick (which, I do have to say, Beazer ran off with, taunted Shocka with, and then dropped at the far end of the yard. Shocka looked at it, looked at me, and couldn't figure out he was supposed to bring it back to me--such a handsome dog, but not the brightest bulb on the string.), it was pretty much time to get in bed.

A&E has a new show on about hoarding. It was more sad than anything else. I watched it while trying to stitch, but I kind of don't see the point to it. It was more the shock (entertainment?) value of watching how they attempted to clean out the houses. Personally, I don't find other people's mental issues to be all that entertaining. And the worst part is how prevalent it really truly is. I sometimes worry about just how close any of us come to being a hoarder. I mean, I have a lot of stash, and knick-knacks, and I used to buy tons of makeup when I was feeling inadequate (better living through lipgloss, much?), but it's all fairly well-contained. I don't let food rot, at least not when I find it. The makeup is now irritating when I look at that; I bought glitter to wear to work in my office job, who does that? I know that I can let go of things; it's hard to let go of things that connect me to my grandmother, but I can do it. My SO says that 10% of his clients are hoarders; that's kinda scary to think about, looking at your neighbors. I wish they'd shown a little more of the therapy aspect of it, because you can't just disrupt "the system." The people on the show were, like, freaking out because, in their mind, that stuff had some sort of value and it makes no sense to throw away something valuable. It was very odd. I would probably watch a reality series that showed how people work through the process, way more than this.

17 August 2009

Fair Results

It was a tense weekend at our house. Not in a bad way, but in a "waiting for Christmas" way. Saturday was SO's mom's birthday, so we went over and had crabs. I was a little wary of picking them because my nails were overly long and the potential to stick myself with a crab shell was high. Nothing hurts like stabbing yourself accidentally with an Old Bay-laced crab part--crab seasoning BURNS. For a long time. And it's so much work for not much reward--cheeseburgers are a lot more reward for little effort. But SO's sister, who is the bomb, showed me a new way of cutting them open that made it a little easier. We're still in awe of those women who pick crabs. They don't have to fear us.

Yesterday, I got up and headed off to the nail salon, then over to Mom's. The nail salon was closed, so I had to go to a different one. Not the best fill I've ever gotten, but it was quick and cheap and my nails don't look bad. It'll hold for two weeks.

We got over to the fair about 45 minutes after it opened. And the lot was full. And, my goodness was it HOT! I was wearing jeans because SO still hadn't had a chance to fix my closet rod, and I was not in the mood to start lifting clothes around, looking for a pair of capri pants. So I went in jeans, and suffered. We took the tram up through the fairgrounds, because I was not making myself or my mother walk up through the midway. Mom asked if I wanted to go get ice cream first or check to see if I had won anything. I gave her "the look" and we went into Home Arts.

I did well. I did not win Best in Show, but I did well. I had to start writing things down to keep from confusing myself. These are the results:

Kitten (I didn't post a photo)--third
Kitten throw--first
Treaty fairy--second
Like Feathered Wings--second
Warm Water Wash--first
I Love My Kitty--first
LHN Stars and Stripes--first
Sampler Girl's My Everything Sachet--fifth
Sweet Little Berries--first
Blackbird Sampler--second

I am pleased that the lions did so well. But my "whoo hooo" moment was for "I Love My Kitty", because I just think that is the sweetest picture that I've ever stitched.
I was a little bummed about the ornament not placing higher, but SO was happy, and he said at least it placed, and it was something we did together. I wish Treaty fairy had won her class. I couldn't find what beat her, but I'm happy. And, although I was a bit disappointed in not winning BOS, I understand and it's OK. As SO put it, I did win 7 firsts and that is a substantial win. Maybe next year will be my year of the masterpieces.

14 August 2009

More Fair Finishes

Finally had time to upload these.

Santa of the fussy finishing. He is by Imaginating, from the 2006 JCS ornament issue. You can see those tiny little clothespins of which I am inordinately proud. I think this is the most number of different materials I have ever used in a cross stitch project: hemp rope, perforated paper, tiny little clothespins, treated aida, buttons, wire, felt and fabric. He's a big guy. I don't know how the judges will like him, but I'm content with him. SO thinks he's cute. We'll be able to see him on the tree. That's the important thing.

The finished kitten afghan. My aunt did the finishing work. It has a very thin piece of batting sandwiched between the fabric layers. I read somewhere where this cushions the ends of the floss so they don't pull out. I don't know if it's true, but there aren't loose ends hanging out. I am so pleased with how it turned out. The backing fabric really did suit this afghan.

Lavendar's blue

Mom said everyone at the fair really liked the lions when she took them in. Actually she said they liked everything. She said they kept wandering up and looking. I just hope the judges feel the same way, ya know? I would like to get high placements on the lions and Treaty fairy. I busted my hump on those lions, after all. I don't think the ornament will do well, but it will be pretty on our tree and that is the most important thing.

I also entered the pillow sachet I made for SO for Valentine's Day. It's been under the bed for a few months to let the scent mellow--the lavendar was a bit strong initially. There was some confusion as to what I had stuffed it with. Mom said she told them it was lavendar, but the lady who checked it all in seemed to think it was something else. I told her she was right, it was lavendar, but not the lavendar I grew--that seems to be dying, and I never had enough to harvest more than a quarter cup. I don't know why it's dying; I think perhaps the plants were planted too close and, because they melded together into one large, intimidating plant that even scared my grandmother, it weakened the entire structure. I'm not certain, though; I'm not a botanist, I just know that sucker was BIG and GNARLY underneath. If it doesn't do better in the spring, it's coming out.

I'm kinda bummed about losing my mondo lavendar plant. I know when we get our forever house, I intend on having an herb garden with lavendar in it. Not just because I don't want to pay for the buds, but lavendar is such a useful, lovely plant and a pleasure for the eye. It's beautifully colored--the purple against the ash green. And it's alive all year; I accidentally stepped on some in December one year, fooling with Christmas lights, and it was so delightful to smell spicy lavendar drifting up through a snowy evening. But . . . lavendar is also a very effective natural mosquito repellent. I've tried it and it works. I was just thinking yesterday that I need to buy some kind of lavendar soap product for us to take camping to ward them off at night. It's not too girly for SO to use and the mosquitos on Assateague are BIG. Anything to avoid using chemicals is good.

I forgot to get a picture of my entries all together. I promise when everything comes back from the fair, I'll get photos.

13 August 2009

3 days and a wakeup

The Ferris Wheel is up at the fairgrounds. I drove by it this morning.

My stuff will go over this afternoon.

Sunday they open the Home Arts building to view the exhibits.

By hook or by crook, I'll be there.

I'll be so nervous Saturday while they judge. I wanted to get my nails done Saturday morning, just to relieve my anxiety, but SO pointed out we're eating crabs Saturday night and that would ruin my manicure. He is too logical sometimes. Too. Logical.

I had a minor disaster in the closet in my sewing room. I keep my clothes in there because I leave early and don't want to wake SO up by opening closet doors and turning on lights. When I moved in, the pole was only attached to one side--it had become detached from the other side before SO moved in and he never fixed it. So, in moving everything around, I managed to overload the attached side, and that came unattached yesterday morning. I heard the sound, but I had already gotten my shirt out of there and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Didn't think to check the pole, but I found out the source of the crash this morning. I didn't tell him before I left; he doesn't have time to fix it before work, so why wake him up? I'll tell him tonight. I guess it's time to go through the clothes and start some donating.

11 August 2009

Almost ready for the fair

Last night, I gathered all my fair entries together, measured them, wrote down what goes in what class, and put them in the box so that Mom can take them over on Thursday. I need to wash and press the afghan so that it looks nice, but other than that, I'm ready. I'll probably take them to Mom's tomorrow, just so that I'm not rushing on Thursday morning to get them to her before work. At this point, I've done all I can do, it's all up to the judges now. We're already figuring out when we're going and getting the kids psyched. Niece has her heart set on winning a goldfish, her brother is all about the pony rides. And me, I'm totally jonesing for fair fudge.

I also told SO that, at some point, I want a quilt rack thingy so that I can display my afghans. I can't have them thrown over the arm of the sofa the entire year. Especially since I have a Christmas one, and the kitty one, and there's a baby afghan out at my mom's. It looks kinda schlumpy. I don't know where I'll stick it just yet, but I'm getting one.

One of the things I realized while I was organizing my sewing room last week was that I really need to stitch more, shop less. And when I do shop, to shop thoughtfully, as in buying things I can reasonably stitch, and not just what catches my eye. I mean, I have noticed, I get crabby when I work on those big pieces, and I have a lot of big pieces in my stash. They're impressive, they just make me antsy. I am starting to realize I like the smaller stuff a little bit better.

And I have to start using my fabric and floss. I can't keep just holding onto it, waiting to "need" it. I could probably save a good bit of money just finishing what I've already started and using the floss in my stash. And I wouldn't keep finding these caches of floss all over the house; I can figure out which ones are for the Stoney Creeks, just because they use every color of DMC, but there are other ones that I just don't know what I bought the floss for.

Now the fabric is a bit more flexible. I went through the fabric I had left at Mom's yesterday at lunch and brought a lot of that to the house. Some of it must have been bought for a specific project, but it doesn't necessarily have to stay specifically for that project. I have a great piece of SMF that looks like a hummingbird and I can see that going for something else. Something Halloweeny or stormy. But it does need something fairly substantial stitched on it. Nothing tiny that I'd have to cut up the fabric. It's too special for that. Besides, I have lots of fabric that I dyed that I can do little stuff on. That's OK to muck up, LOL.

10 August 2009

Back to the grind

Back to normal life today.

No more sleeping in til 7:30 or watching A Haunting on Discovery. BUMMER! I was starting to feel so domestic. The bigboys were confused to see me get in the car this morning. They had this look like, "Aren't you going to stay with us, and feed us cookies? What gives, woman?"

I really didn't get a lot accomplished on my vacation, though. Except finishing the pretty Elegance of the Orient. I'm about half-done putting the sewing room to rights. I did get quite a bit done, though. The new drawers are in, with stuff in them. I have all my tiny little charts in one drawer, fabric in another. And I went through my duffel bags from moving. I threw out a bunch of old ratty stuff, moaned about the amount of money I used to spend on Victoria's Secret jammies, and then put the rest of the stuff away.

We did get a bit of a getaway. SO's family went camping in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania this weekend and invited us up to go on a train ride and to hang out. It was a lot of fun. The train ride was pretty, and the kids liked it a lot. We had a pleasant afternoon watching the buggies go up and down the road. SO and I took a walk around the campground, looking at campers, since we want one. We figured out what we don't want--a Winnebago, since we'd have to tow my car along if we wanted to go anywhere when we camped, or a huge trailer. One of the ones we were in was, and I am not kidding, bigger than one of my friends' apartment, and didn't feel like camping. So we know we want something a bit cozier, preferably with hard sides, so as to keep the ponies out of the camper, LOL. We tried some homemade root beer. Definitely not like what you get in a store. SO thought it tasted like cough syrup, which he hates. I thought it tasted like regular beer, which I hate, but it smelled like cough syrup. Yesterday, we toasted with some regular old, factory made root beer.

I did get some other stitching worked on. While going through my stuff, I found a Lizzie Kate, "I Love My Cat". I started that one a while ago, put 20 stitches in, and shoved in a box. I made good progress on that Friday night. I also started a little kitted up freebie, "You Lucky Dog," that is fun to work on. And I pulled out Sheepish Designs' "Betsy", that I started last year maybe? I discovered I had done a decent amount of stitching on it before I shoved it away, but I realized I had made an error and then had to frog a bit. It's OK, it's on the list to be stitched now. Along with the other two I just mentioned, the Arab by White Willow Stitching that I have been intimidated by, and a couple Halloween ones. That should take me through the end of the year. Maybe . . .

07 August 2009

Finally Finished

See her? She's done!

After all this time, she's finished.

She's even better now than she was 30 minutes ago when I took this photo, due to a nice cool bath to remove the last remains of her misguided, recently stinky past. I am throwing out the chart and threads. The chart is pieced together badly, and the threads smell so musty, there's nothing they can really be used for, at least that I am willing to let them be used for. If it was the spring, maybe I'd put them out for the birds to use, but they've been around cats, dogs and humans so long, and they're ratty looking.

I do feel like this is a major stitching accomplishment. After all those years of just putzing around with her, I finished her. And I know I can finish a Dimensions Gold Collection kit. It's sort of the same feeling I got when I finally finished a Stoney Creek. One less thing I can't say, "I can't do that." Now to get it framed.

Not much else is happening. I sang at the funeral yesterday. It was very hard to get through. This is the first funeral I've sang at that I couldn't get through the song without breaking. But I got to sing with Jane's lovely brother, Bill, and it was something Jane wanted, so we got through. I went down and rehearsed with him on Wednesday, which was a help to both of us, just to talk, and to sing a little. He is a font of knowledge on traditional hymns, and he's a fantastic guitar player. He knows arrangements of music that just push me as a singer, and we have such good musical chemistry together. We already made plans to sing at Christmas, so that should be fun.

And his wife gave me the best treat. 4 fresh tomatoes from her garden! I'd forgotten in my city days that everyone in the country grows tomatoes and never can use them all. Everyone always has a table FULL of tomatoes in their back entryway, I guess as a parking lot til they figure out what to do with them, or who to bless with them. I was so grateful--a home-grown tomato is a gift, and I got 4! ANNNNNNDDDDD the orchard nearby had green tomatoes, so I got some of those, along with some lovely big peaches and giant cucumbers. At some point this weekend, we're going to be enjoying fried green tomatoes and bacon (OK, I'll be enjoying the fried green tomatoes, SO very firmly declined my offer to make him some, he has no clue what he's missing), and then also some pasta salad made with upcounty tomatoes and cukes. Heavenly . . .

04 August 2009

One day more . . .

I just have to get through today, then I will off for 5 whole days. The only thing I have to do is attend Jane's funeral, which will be hard--I don't want to say good-bye to Jane, how will things be the same without her?--but, other than that, I have no plans. I am actually off through the 13th at my part time job. A hard decision to make, but I had a wakeup call at my doctor's appointment the other day, and having a lower stress level is no longer a luxury; my blood pressure was very high (having a suspicious lesion does that to me, thank you very much WebMD, with your horrible photos and dire predictions), and I HAVE to reduce stress. I can't take it away altogether, but what I can control, losing half a day to relax by having to drive down-county and work, I am doing when I can.

I am still plugging away at the geisha. I am probably 90% finished. The backstitch is driving me CRAZY. My anal-retentive perfectionist mind can't handle the fact that the backstitch will never exactly match the chart. I used the wrong color for part of it because the directions indicated one color for the thin blue lines on the kimono lining and a different color for the thin blue lines on another part of the kimono, and, since I am not an expert on kimonos, I used the wrong color. I just went with it. I can not wait to get her done.

03 August 2009

Nothing got done this weekend

but it wasn't really my fault.

Saturday afternoon, we spent at the grocery store. We hadn't had a huge "fill up the pantry with junk" shopping expedition in months. SO was missing steak and Gatorade. I can't pick a good steak to save my life, as evidenced by our horrid Christmas Eve dinner roast. So we went and bought. Rather nice to have a full cart for once. He shops much differently than me though. I will buy store brands to save 25 cents; he won't. I told him there was no way Safeway spaghetti tastes 25 cents different from a name brand, and definitely, til you toss italian sausage and veggies in the bubbly pot of store brand pasta sauce, it tastes the same as Prego, and it was $2 cheaper. I did draw the line on Vitamin Water at 10 for $10. Full of sugar and not that tasty. Not worth it. Not when Gatorade was a 10/$10 too. We just have a different philosophy on groceries. I want to fill the cart for $20, he thinks anything off is good.

I'm starting to reorganize the closet in the sewing room. I went through my fabric and have it sorted into evenweave, linen and aida. It looks nicer, and I found some prefinished items I forgot I had. Yay! I went to Walmart and found another drawered thing-y like I bought in january. It's not an exact match, but it will work. And I am going through and organizing. It's not going to be an easy job, but I figure with three days, I can get it done.

Yesterday was a difficult day. My mother's best friend had a massive stroke on Saturday and was declared brain-dead yesterday. We didn't know Jane had passed til we got into the room, and that was hard. Both her and her husband are lovely people, good country people. I sing with her brother at Christmas. I just can't believe she's gone. So quick. This on top of the fact that her hairdresser, who also did my grandmother's hair, passed from cancer on Thursday, so we visited both a funeral home and a hospital yesterday. August is a hateful month for my family as it is; bad things happen in August. At least Jane is helping others by being an organ donor. I am praying for her sweet grandchildren. It hit me this morning that I had my grammy for almost 28 years, but they lost the woman who adored them when they are in elementary school, and that makes me so sad.
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