31 January 2011

A Crazy January finish, a WIP, and a new start

I was a busy stitcher this weekend.

I had to get out of the house Friday night. I hadn't left it since Tuesday afternoon, thanks to a 13 inch snowfall, and we were starting to run low on food, so Left-brain got my car out of the space and I went to what was, to me, the happiest place on earth, the grocery store. It was a joy, especially because I got to see people I'm not related to. I stocked us up for the storm that is supposed to come through tonight through Wednesday, and came home to stitch.

I finished Hope Perches. I'm happy with it. It will look fantastic when it's finished into a pillow, something fresh and springy to remind me that better times are ahead. This is the second Crazy January start I've finished. Woo hoo!

With the finish, I rotated in another Crazy January start on Saturday. I had thought about doing another little one, but I know myself well enough to know that, if I do all the smalls first, I will be stuck at the end with the big projects and a chip on my shoulder, so I'm going to go back and forth with them. I think that's a more efficient way to do it. I chose Patriotic Summer to work on.

I had to frog out one of the flowers--the colors and symbols were very close, and so I, given a 50/50 chance of getting it right, got it wrong. But I got a little progress done. We went to my in-laws' house to celebrate his dad's birthday, so it wasn't a lot, but every little bit helps. I don't think this will take that long to work on, it's fun, like all of Midsummer Night Designs' pieces. And the colors are so pretty and fun to work with.

Yesterday I started Dimensions' Barnyard Kitties. It's my projects for the special contest at the state fair. I'm hopeful the judge won't nitpick that these are 'kittens', not 'cats', but if I don't win, it's OK.

I really like working on this project. Most of what I've gotten done was in a 5 hour stitching session. For a Dimensions project, this is a lot of progress, and it didn't feel like a hassle. The fabric is 14 count, and so it's not that hard to pull the floss through (nothing like trying to jam 3 strands of floss through 18 count aida to get the ol' heart pumping). They even cut the fabric decently--it's two inches on each side, so it shouldn't be too bad to frame. I do need to have good light, though, in order to work. This may be a lunch time and high daylight project. And, when I scrunched it to remove the sizing (I normally don't do that anymore, but I had to with this), it left white marks on the fabric. I think they'll wash out fine, though.

So that's my weekend. I appreciate all the comments on Betsy. I am beyond pleased to have her done and done well. Now to cross fingers that she'll look good in the frame.

Hoping everyone is having a great start to their week.

27 January 2011

A picture post

Betsy is finished.

Sorry the picture is so far away, this is a very long piece and impossible to fit the whole thing in closely. I'm pretty pleased with how she turned out. Now, all that's left is to get her to the framer and into the cherry frame I picked up on clearance at Michaels a couple weeks ago. I so appreciate all the support I was given during the stitching process, all the years I've been working on her. I will put this chart up as a PIF on this blog in the next few weeks. Watch for it.

The finish line

If I'm stitching the last big line of stitching, and I'm making crosses as I go, am I crossing the finish line? I am "this close" to finishing Betsy. One more star, the date and the rest of this line, and she's done. I won't post a pic til she's finished, but I think she may be finished by the end of today.

26 January 2011

Stars and birds and words, oh my!

But a little housekeeping first.

I mentioned "Finish-it February" and Riona asked if that was a new challenge. It's actually something I heard about probably around when I started blogging. The idea was to focus on finishing something in that month. It was probably in 2007, though it may have been older. Remember, January was always "Guilt free January" so I guess the point was indulge in one month, repent in the next, but that was before the recession started and we all started making do with what we have, not starting new projects left and right. I'm probably the only one who still thinks about it, but it's a good practice for me, and I always wierdly think of February as "Finish-it February." Anyone is welcome in joining me.

I don't have a picture of my fair project. I realize I am bit anal about the planning and getting ready. I've always been a keen competitor when it comes to the fair, ever since those days when I, wearing my immaculately pressed white button-down, black skirt, Sam and Libbys, very large bangs (an accomplishment in the Maryland summer humidity, and my ribbon tie, paraded my dog on the end of a leash around the cattle show pavilion. I was a good dog shower (my beloved Dana and I took home either Champion or Reserve in every division we entered, and only lost Senior Champ overall because we didn't do obedience or the costume class. I knew our strengths), but I never won the cross stitch class. And so, I've spent my adult life pushing for the win. Funny how, til I get that best of show, I won't really feel vindicated. Perhaps I should have stuck with dog showing, but we did atrocious at the state fair; Dana decided she'd had enough of other people's opinions of her, ate some horse poop, sat down in the ring, and took fourth, and that, my friends was the end of our show career. Cross stitch, at least, doesn't eat horse poop and then try to lick your face.

So, this is what I worked so diligently at yesterday. This is my progress on Hope Perches, done on DMC marbled aida, with Hand-dyed Fibers in Robiness, Midnight, and Dragon something (I can't read my writing on the bobbin) with a brown from a detritus bag as the feet. It's coming along. I cut the fabric pretty small, but it's going to be made into a pillow like the chart cover, so I'm not scared.

The area of Betsy I worked on yesterday. The theme was stars and birds, because that's all I seem to have done. It does seem to be moving faster on this side. Why did I wait so long.

And the entire thing. I am not putting the loose thread between her needle and the flag. I like the effect of it without the thread. It sorta feels to me like she is raising her needle in defiant victory. She has finished this flag! Her sheep are content! Her stinky-looking flower is blooming! She has a peacock!

We should all celebrate the tiny, every day miracles: ribbons in a dog show we never thought we'd win, content sheep, even if they're just floss sheep, and snow days with warm cocoa and a snoring dog at our feet.

25 January 2011

A Slight break . . .

but only from Betsy.

I decided to take 24 hours to work on another Challenge project. I pulled out Hope Perches yesterday at lunch and I'm working on that a little bit. It's probably for the best because I keep miscounting and getting frustrated. Hope Perches isn't as demanding, but it looks really good so far. I pulled out the backing fabric I chose for it, a pretty print of robins that inspired the color choices for the piece. I still have to find some fabric for the front, but I'm getting there.

I also took some time last night to pick out my entry for the special contest for the state fair. It took a while, since I had to go through my binders and try to find something that both I and the judges would like that would display my skills but is also something I can stitch in 6 months without giving up every other thing in my life. I know it was going to be a cat project; Left-brain weighed in, but he's learning, because he said, "Can you get that done?" I think so. I'll post my choice tomorrow and get started when I get Betsy done. That's my impetus for completion. I even know the frame I want for this.

I'm also trying to figure out how I'm going to handle Finish-It February. Do I want to focus on finishing a UFO, or on getting some of my ornaments caught up and ready to hang--that could take all month by itself. I know which way I'm leaning, but still not 100%. I hate when I get this way. At least I have a few days before February starts.

24 January 2011

Growing like kudzu

It didn't feel like I stitched much this weekend. I had to work both days and Saturday, at work, I read instead of stitching between patrons. I didn't get started on the vine til I got home on Saturday night. And then I had to keep frogging it. I finally got it figured out, though, and I started working on the leaves yesterday morning, while waiting for church to start; I was in the parking lot, I can't stitch in church, it doesn't feel right to me. I kept working on them at work, and, after more frogging, I got those done. I tell you, I felt kinda stupid, because I couldn't figure out how the leaves were supposed to "happen"; it made sense on the chart, but did not make sense in my head on the fabric. I hate those moments.

As you can see, I got it all worked out. I'm glad to be done that vine, glad that it all came together right. I'm working on the flower thing, even though it vaguely reminds me of those big orchid things that open once a year and smell like rotten meat. I see this kind of flower a lot on samplers. What is it supposed to be?

Now that I'm close to the end, I'm so glad to see this thing almost done. My chart is starting to tear. I think I'm going to do a giveway. Normally I wouldn't go that route with a fraying chart, but this is a desirable one, so I'm sure someone would be happy for it.

21 January 2011

I may know my ABCs, but . . .

I still am a bit foggy about my name.

I'm still in the middle of changing my name over to my married name. My CCs are still in my maiden name, only one of my bank accounts has been changed over. I finally got one of my jobs to change my name on the HR files, but the other one is still in my old name. I never write checks to pay any of my bills so I never write my new last name. I'm making myself sign everything right now, but it's a tedious transition. At least now I answer to the new last name, I just can't get used to writing it.

Today, I'm in process of continuing to integrate my repair work on Betsy. Because I had to move those little golden motifs around, I had a bare spot in the corner of the chart. Well, that WILL. NOT. DO. So I came up with the brilliant idea of stitching my initials over one in that bare spot. I also always use my middle initial, a habit I picked up working around actors. So, I pulled out my blue floss, looked at the charting of the letters on Betsy and said, "OK, I can start with an L. Easy peazy." My middle initial isn't L anymore. Well, technically, it still is, but legally, it's not. When I went to change my name with Social Security, I took my old last name as my middle. My initials went from "RLS" to "RSH" (which always looks like "rush" to me, but that's a side issue).

You see where this is going?

I'd like to think Left-brain wouldn't mind me using my old name on the piece, but I'm never going to learn if I never start using the right name. I had to pick out that L. And that was the moment I decided I'm not using my middle name on my stitching anymore. So I'm signing this piece "rh" in little tiny letters. It looks really good. I will say that. I think, despite my best efforts, this is going to be a great finish, LOL.

(This post was updated to provide some clarity. I'm cold and things that made sense in my brain don't make sense on paper)

Near disaster

First, let me thank you for the kind comments on Betsy that were left. I appreciate them all.

I pulled her out last night with a goal to finish the alphabet before I misplaced the floss again. I was sitting in bed, which was probably where the mistake started. And I got up and down. Left-brain was moving stuff around. My scissors were left near the WIP, and when I came back from the kitchen, my snips were buried almost to the hilt in the middle of the yellow fabric.

These scissors are sharp as a scalpel. They're cheap scissors, just the CraftSmart ones from the craft store, but I like them because they cut so well, with little effort. Both Left-brain and I can attest, they cut flesh really well; I don't put them in the project bag for that reason, and he took a hit by reaching around in the bed. We're dang lucky they haven't poked through the new sheets.

My fabric didn't fare so well. I pulled them out and tried to assess the damage. Since I need new glasses, I couldn't tell if there was a hole in the fabric right away. But there was.

At that moment I became emotionally compromised. I know something had to be done, because it was going to pull when I have the piece mounted. First I tried to see if the stitching would cover it. It wouldn't. I told Left-brain that it was all messed up and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.

His suggestion: "Trash it." He knows that I am not a fudger, not a mistake leaver inner. It's one of my personality quirks with this craft. I know only God is perfect, and the Amish put mistakes in their work to show they are less than God, but my feeling is, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. But I don't want to start Betsy over again. So I gave him the stink-eye. He brought me Cherry Garcia as a mea culpa.

So I fudged. I have one wonky leave which covers the hole. I moved some of the star motifs around a bit to make the wonky leaf look like it was supposed to be there. I'm not happy that I had to do this. It makes me twitchy, but I really don't have any other choice. I reason it out by saying that a woman working a sampler 150 years ago wouldn't have tossed it out for a hole; materials and time were too precious to waste. Just because I have more time now and materials aren't so expensive doesn't make either any less valuable.

Here is the affected area all fixed up. I'm hoping that it looks like it was supposed to be this way all along:

And yes, I have learned to keep my scissors away from the fabric now.

20 January 2011

Got Peacock?

Betsy does.

Here he is in his gold and blue glory.

It took me a while to do his tail. Luckily, The Lord of the Rings was on last night. I didn't know that the TNT version was cut down from the full version. One of these days, I'm going to have to watch the complete trilogy, back to back, without interruption. I'm probably going to need a big piece of stitching to work on that day.

Here is the entire piece so far. The year is supposed to be under Peeky, but I'll save that til I actually finish the chart. Although I plan for this to be done by the end of January, I think we all know better than to assume.

I did have a slight crisis when I realized I could not find the skein of 931 I had kitted this up with. I don't know where it got to, but it's not in the zipper bag, not in the large tote, nowhere. And I couldn't find a skein in my bobbin boxes. It wouldn't be so bad, but the alphabet and the birds are stitched in that color, and I need it, if not now, then this week. I really didn't want to have to buy another skein of floss, since it's a 15 minute drive to town, and I am lazy, but resigned myself to a visit to Michaels today. I went to the last ditch storage place, though, and did find a 931. And it was wound! I don't know what happened to that other skein of floss; I'm going to chalk it up as a sacrifice to the stitching gods.

The rest should go fast. There is only one other big motif, but I don't see that slowing me down that much. I'd really like to get this finished quickly. It's been kicking around as a WIP too long and it really is a pretty sampler. So I'm crossing my fingers.

18 January 2011

Fly Like a Needle--picture post

I was not able to take pictures yesterday. I had to go to our office in Northern Virginia near Dulles Airport, and then come back home in North Central Maryland. It was a 130 mile commute day. On the way home, it started to snow, and it wasn't lasy or pretty snow. Rather, the fast and furious persuasion. Plus, I had to eat because I forgot to eat from lunch on Sunday through all day yesterday (I know, it shocked me too. And then I ended up wanting a salad. Scary stuff is going on here). So, til I was done all that, it was bed time.

Without further ado, these are the things I have been working on.

My Day 14 start, Schipperke, by Pegasus Originals. There isn't much to say about this.

My Day 15 Start, Kitty Cat's Life, by Prairie Grove Peddler. I'll pick this one up back again soon. Just not now.

And my two finishes for the weekend.

First, a Challenge finish. Yankee Sittcher's A Nuisance of Cats. I like this chart a lot. It was a quick stitch. A good start to the year.

And my Santa's Bunnies, which I stitched for the Brides Tree SAL. A finish like this just reinforces how amazing our hobby is. I love this piece. I love that we can make pictures like this with floss. Yes, I'm happy dancing.

And the two WIPs I'm switching between for a few days. Sheepish Designs' Betsy is here. I really need to focus on this piece, because I've been working on it for two years. I think all the little motifs intimidate me. But I'm halfway finished now. I can do this!

And my WIP for the Ice Dragon's Kingdom SAL with Riona. I am doing this on a hand-dyed evenweave. It's something about Stormy Skies. I wonder if I maybe should have done this on a sparkly fabric, but I think that might have clashed with the braid and rayon in the dragon, so I think this is best.

I can't wait to see how this develops. I love Dragon Dreams designs and this is one of my favorites.

Keep warm today, particularly if you are in one of the icy/snowy/wintry mix areas.

17 January 2011

The first of the 15 is finished

I will update this post with a photo later today.

I finished "A Nuisance of Cats" last night. My mom brought my kitted-up WIP over to the theatre for me yesterday afternoon, and I managed to get it finished. Yesterday was "Day O' Finishes," I guess, because the 2010 season at the theatre ended too. I have never been so glad to see a show close as I was to see "Annie" done. It's been a long 8-week run. Two extensions, overflow seating, having to turn people away and I was there for most of it. It was a good show, and I'm so honored people made the theatre part of their holiday celebrations this year, but I'm glad it's over. We start up again next month, but at least it's a few weeks of rest.

I rotated Sheepish Designs' Betsy into my stitching pile after I finished the cat piece. I'd like to get her done by the end of the month. She's exactly halfway finished, and I think I might even have a frame to fit. Michaels had some custom frames on clearance when I went in on Saturday, and I bought two long skinny rectangular frames for $8 each. Even though my LNS charges $10 extra to frame something in a frame you bought elsewhere, it's still a bargain if the stitching fits in the frame. I couldn't leave them there, could I? I know, somewhere in the vast treasure trove of my stash, I have something that will fit in those frames, even if Betsy and her sheep (and yes, I consider this a patriotic sheep chart--there are sheep, and there is an American flag. This is my requirement.) don't.

16 January 2011

15 starts in 15 days, 1 finish, and one WIP

The first two weeks of January are over, and, as the title states, this is what I have to show for it. I had to put down both my Day 14 and Day 15 starts after not much progress on them. The Schipperke start is not that hard, but I am using 18 count fabric, and I need two strands to keep the denseness of the fur, and my size 28 needle is too thick. I'm going to have to search and see if there is a petite needle somewhere in my stash that I use, but I haven't had time to look. The cat start for yesterday is on Wichelt linen and I hate that stuff. I love the color and will use it up, but I don't have to like it. So I've put them aside. I wanted to work on my Nuisance of Cats, and I brought it down to work on at the theatre, but I left it at Mom's this morning. She's bringing it out to me, but it bums me to lose any time. I'd like to get that finished today.

I did finally manage a finish this weekend. I don't think it's ever taken me 14 days to get my first finish for the year, but I finished Santa's Bunnies on Friday evening. I still have to decide on the final color for the trim, but I have the finisher lined up, and I'm excited to send it off. I will take a picture before I send it.

My WIP is not a new one. I started "The Ice Dragon's Kingdom", by Dragon Dreams last New Year's Day. By started, I mean I put in about 20 stitches, packed it up in the sewing kit I had, and then promptly neglected it for over a year. Riona mentioned that she wanted to do it as one of her starts for the 15 Challenge, and so she and I are doing an informal SAL. I decided I really didn't want to put off working on this any longer, so, Friday night, we ordered some Chinese food, popped in "The Town," with Ben Affleck, and I stitched. Divine orange chicken, fantastic movie, easily one of Affleck's best movies, and 2 hours to stitch. I made some progress on the castle. Somehow, though, I managed to split a thread and there is a small hole in my fabric. I don't know how it happened, but I'm crossing my fingers. I don't want to waste the fabric, nor do I want to buy another piece of it. As best I can tell, it's in an area that will be stitched over, so I did my best to repair it by weaving another thread in through the hole. I'm hopeful that the hole will be undetectable when everything is done. If not, it's a small glitch and will add to the character of Icy's Kingdom.

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to handle the rest of the year, now that I have all these new starts to go along with the 30 or so other WIPs and UFOs I have in the box. I've kinda decided that I'm going to focus on reducing the projects I've started. Soooo, my rule for myself is that, other than projects for the same SALs I was in last year, I can only start a new project when I finish an existing WIP or UFO. I know I've put a lot on my plate this year with the projects that I started as part of the challenge and I'm making an effort to get some order into my life, so this just makes more sense to me than to not have a little bit of structure. But I reserve the right to change the plan as I see fit, LOL.

I'll try to add in photos as soon as I can.

14 January 2011

Day 13: Icky Icky Spooky Spooky

Isn't that a fun thing to say? It's what's written in the chart, which is actually called Icky Spooky, the Hobgoblins. I did manage to make a good start on this yesterday. I worked primarily on Icky's side of the chart, but I didn't get too far on her because her dress is 964, and they didn't have 964 at Michaels when I went. I'm going to check again, but I'll probably end up at Joann's. It's a really fun stitch--the colors are fabulously bright and cheerful, perfect for the January doldrums. I'm using Ray of Light fabric in 28 count. The fabric in the chart picture is not yellow, but it looks that way, and I figured I might as well go with it. I do see that I will have to change out the floss for Spooky's outfit. It photographed a pretty golden yellow, and my skein of Gold Leaf is dreary gold. Why embarrass Spooky with a drab party frock when I can brighten that little dude up? :)

Today's start is Schipperke by Pegasus Originals. I'm a bit intimidated by the chart because of the amount of black it calls for, but I've been wanting to do this for a long time, and so, I'll suck it up. One thing, if I stitch around the twins, I don't have to worry if a stray hair (or 100) get in the project. I actually wouldn't mind that, it's their contribution to their mummy's work.

I still have to kit up the last project. I bought the specialty floss last month, but haven't gone through the boxes to get the regular floss. I'll have to do that today. I'm going to take a leap with this last project and stitch it on a green fabric, not the natural that the project calls for. I thought it would look like grass and there's a line in the poem on the piece about kitty in the grass. I'm usually really pleased with how things turn out when I take a leap of faith--I just worry incessantly til I have floss to fabric and see it will be OK.

Have a great weekend!

13 January 2011

Brave Kitties

This is my start on "No Scaredy Cats Allowed," by Waxing Moon.

Not a bad start, considering I didn't get started til late, and I didn't have the Charcoal floss I needed. I kitted this up at Halloween, and the LNS was out of Charcoal, and it just escaped my mind to make sure I had it. I didn't want to just stitch around the part that used the color, nor was it feasible to run to my LNS and pray they got another shipment of Weeks in. I found a very dark skein of Gunmetal in my floss box, so I'm using that. And that spurred a bit of creativity. I collect black cats for Halloween for my Lily and yellow tabby cats for Gus for the rest of the year (yes, Felix gets kinda messed over when it comes to being collected, but they don't make a lot of black and white spotted cat things--I can't collect what they don't make), but a lot of times I see black cats and yellow tabbies together, so . . . since I have both a yellow and a black cat, I'm making one of the kitties into a tabby, for Gus. He'll be the kitty peeking out from behind the ghost, since my Gus is a bit less brave than his sister; he's not scared, he's just shy. I think this will be a sweet personalization and I'm sure Gussie would approve.

Keeping in the Halloween vein, today's start will be Mosey N Me's Icky Spooky. I've had this design for probably 7 years, I just never stitched it, and it probably is my most favorite MNM design. So I'm just ecstatic to get started.

I did work a little bit on Santa's Bunnies last night. Iron Man was on FX, so we watched that. It was an OK movie, good for stitching, because I didn't have to really pay attention to it. Or think about the plot. Left-brain wanted to watch the Patriot the other night, and I told him I could not bear to watch it. The villian in that movie is so good, he just upsets me, so I have to watch something else.

Do you have any good "stitching" movies you like to watch?

12 January 2011

Day 11 and a WIP

I am almost ashamed to post this photo because, as little as I got done Monday, I got less done yesterday. I was worried about the snowstorm that came through, and was trying to make sure we had what we needed, and was pretty busy. Plus, it wasn't the easiest start on this one. But I got a few stitches in. As long as I got one stitch in, it's a start. This is his belly (I'm going to assume it's a him--the horse has that bantam rooster quality about him that pony stallions tend to have). This is a Silkweaver solo I got from a stitching friend at Sue Hillis' GTG last spring. I'm excited to see how the design translates on this fabric.

Today's start will be from Mostly Ghostly by Waxing Moon. It's funny how fast this widespread, highly-controlled case of startitus has gone. It's hard to believe I've started 11 projects in a week and a half, and that I only have 4 more projects to choose from. These last ones are the ones that might not be the most well-planned out. I still have to pull floss for one, pull fabric for another. I had to find fabric for today's start in order to actually start it, and I maybe didn't make the best choice, but I'll live with it. I love the little design I chose, "No Scaredy Cats", so I'm sure it will be fine.

I also thought it's time to show my other WIP, an ornament I started Christmas week. It's one I've had kitted up since the summer as part of the Brides' Tree SAL. It's called Santa's Bunnies, and is by Vermillion Stitchery.
It's not an easy project, lots of fractionals and backstitching, but I think it's so pretty. And it's a great size for an ornament, not so big that it has to be draped over the branches of the tree, not hung. I'm hoping to get the stitching done tonight and then the backstitch by the end of the week. I have the fabric to back it already, a pretty woodland wintry print that I thought would go nicely with the bunnies. I think this is going to be my fair entry for the ornament class; it has everything going for it, at least in my opinion. I think it will come down to how well it's finished, but I'm willing to spend money to make sure it's finished in the way it deserves. It's that important to me.

I am starting to pull together my fair entries. I'd like to start taking things over for framing when I get my tax refund back. That way, I'm not running around at the last minute and I can enjoy getting ready for the competition. I think that's the way to go, but I think I need to get some things finished first, right? :)

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable day. The snow came through last night. I think we got 4 inches, but I do believe there is some ice mixed in with it. Left-brain stayed home from work, which is probably for the best. I don't worry about him on the road, it's everyone else that scares me. I'm trying to decide what to make for our dinner now. Never too early to plan for that, is it?

11 January 2011

Welcome to a new blogger

This is a brand new blog. She has some beautiful WIPs!

A pitiful start

For as hard as I worked on it, I didn't get a lot done on my Day 10 start. At least it doesn't feel like much. Those trees are tricky! I think that is my focus when I pick this up again. Get them finished, and then the rest should go relatively smoothly. I am stitching this on 14 count Aerial by PTP, an impossibly soft blue color.

Today's selection is "Pinto," by Jeannette Crews, from her book "Wild Horses." This is probably my favorite horse chart book--lots of things in it that I'd love to stitch. If you love horses, especially those of the untamed persuasion, this is a book that you should have in your stash. Now, it doesn't say it's a Chincoteague or Assateague pony (remember, the only difference is on what side of the fence they end up on Pony Penning Day, LOL), but it looks more like those ponies than any other kind of horse. So I'm using my artistic judgement. That pony is on a barrier island outside of the Maryland/Virginia line! Wherever he may really be from, he's the perfect start for today because they're calling for snow. Caesar and I are here, going to hunker down and hope it doesn't get too bad before Left-brain gets home tonight. I think I need to stitch something that reminds me of warm times past and future, don't you?

I hope everyone else in the storm's past is doing OK and is warm and safe. It's only 2 months and a week to Spring!

10 January 2011

Day 9: Patriotic Sheep Start

The camera battery recharged, so here is a posting of my Day 9 progress. This is stitched on Bay Rum something fabric with Crescent Colours and DMC floss. I am pretty tickled with myself for how I handled the sun with the CC floss. I was pretty careful to keep the dark gold in the middle and at the bottom, with the lighter being more of the outer rays. I wanted some symmetry on this one. Perhaps I may end up running out of a color for my efforts, but I liked how it turned out. I'm pretty happy with the progress. I got a lot done, considering that we left in the middle of the day to go have Left-brain's birthday and didn't get back from that til 10. I have high hopes that this will stitch up quickly. This is why I chose small projects; I figure that a lot of progress, seeing things visibly take shape after a day of stitching helps keep my interest. It will offset the distress I know I'll feel when I stitch on something all day and just have an eyeball completed.

Day 10--Arrghhh and Blarrrghhh

Diane Graebner does beautiful work. I LOVE her Amish designs--they make my heart happy. I chose Sharing with Our Deer Friends as my Day 10 start, because it's calming and beautiful.

Can I just say I hate the way she charts the designs?

They're hand-drawn, which does something to me. Something bad. It makes it hard for me to stick with them.

That happens quite a lot with hand-drawn charts. I know it's a rather silly tic I have, because, when I started stitching, there were a lot more hand-drawn charts being sold than not, but I guess, as I've aged and my eyesight worsens, I just can't do it well anymore. And that bums me out because I love these charts and I collect them. I wonder why she still does them this way? I would probably stitch all of them, joyfully, if they were just charted using software. But maybe I just need to get new glasses now rather than later. I'm going to get this done, but just don't expect a lot from this start today.

I will have to post a photo of Patriotic Summer a little later. I worked on it a lot yesterday and it works up quite quickly, but I left the camera on all day by mistake and lost the charge in the battery. I am a bit concerned because I'm stitching it on 32 count, not the 40 that the chart calls for, so I'm a bit concerned I'm going to run out of overdyed floss, but I'll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. I should have put a bit more thought into it when I was buying the supplies, since I don't use 40 count. But I'm going to cross my fingers and hope she didn't really need the entire skein of floss when she designed it.

09 January 2011

Days 6 through 8

Just a quick drive-by posting to show you the past three days.

Thursday's Sugar Plum Fairy start. I forget what fabric I'm using. I think it's Lambswool Jobelan, but not too sure on that one.

Friday's It Snowed Last Night start. I really can't say enough how I love this chart. I already know I want it framed with a double mat, white on top with a line of red.

Yesterday's A Nuisance of Cats. I worked on this when I got home last night. It's probably two-thirds of the way finished, which makes me happy! I love stitching it.

Today I am starting Patriotic Summer, as soon as I find my pack of needles. CBS Sunday Morning is coming on in a few minutes and I can't think of a better way to spend a frosty Sunday morning than to watch that show and stitch.

Hoping your day passes splendidly.

08 January 2011

Still no pictures

I didn't have a chance to hook the computer back up last night after work. I got into work and realized I had the late shift, so it was 10:30 til I got home. Plus, I had a headache (it was probably a pleasing mix of sinuses and New Years diet-related caffeine withdrawal), so I just was not in the mood to hook up the computer and camera. It snowed overnight, and I had to come back to work this morning, so, with leaving time to get safely to work (commute ended up being normal, the snow was well-behaved and just made everything pretty, not messy), I didn't hook up the computer. I am SOOOO behind.

I will try to post pictures tomorrow. I promise!

Today, I am working on "A Nuisance of Cats," by the Yankee Stitcher. It's a quick stitch. I'm going to have to see if they did more of these; it says it's a series, but I don't know if I've seen more charts. I'm probably a quarter of the way through it already. I'm using a mystery piece of antique white evenweave--it may be DMC, but I'm not sure--and I'm not sure the color is the best, but I'm going to go with it. One of the things I wanted to accomplish with this challenge was to use supplies from my stash whenever possible instead of buying new. I know that that's what I should be doing anyway when I stitch, but "should do" and " actually do" are often far apart for me. But I'm hopeful for now. I'd rather have the floss and fabric filling up my "finished, but not finished" box than in my fabric drawer and floss bin.

I think tomorrow's start will be Patriotic Summer, by Midsummer Night Designs. I've had that chart kitted up for two years and it's high time I get my patriotic sheep wall started. We're going out to dinner with Left-brain's family tomorrow evening, but I think I can make some good progress on that super-cute design.

07 January 2011

Snowing Sugarplums

I have not yet had a chance to take pictures of my work for the past two days. I'll try to get some and post by the end of the weekend.

I didn't make a lot of progress on my Sugarplum Fairy yesterday. I realized it uses metallics. Cheap DMC metallics. AAAACKKKK. There has to be a better way to do this. Must think. But the metallics put me off joyfully stitching it.

Today's project was completely appropriate. I chose Erynne's freebie, "It Snowed Last Night," without realizing it had, in fact, snowed last night. Not much, just enough to dust the grass and annoy Beazer. I had the day off today, and it was the perfect day to start this.

Since it was my day off, of course I was busy, LOL. I took all our comforters up to the laundromat to wash them. Our summer quilt states it has to be washed in a front load washer, which we don't have, so I figured I might as well get the other two done, since they don't fit in the wash machine. It was kinda tricky to find the place, but the actual laundering was not too bad. Now we have clean bedcovers--yay!

I took the car over for an oil change afterwards. It was due for it, and I don't know when I'll have time for a few weeks. I found out somehow the brake fluid reservoir cap has vanished into the ether; I know I didn't take the flipping thing off, Left-brain hasn't messed with it, and the oil change people say they don't fool with brakes. I don't know if someone is lying but I'm so sick of that car. I told Left-brain it was the stupidest financial decision I ever made, and I've made some stupid choices in my 34 years when it came to my money. He didn't say anything other than we'll figure it out.

So of course, in true drama queen fashion, I took to my bed as soon as I got home. Beazer took to his as well in solidarity. We watched TV and stitched. He thumped his tail; that dog is such a prolific tail-wagger that he has worn a bald spot in his tail. He gave me kisses, which made me feel better.

I can't believe the challenge is going to be half over tomorrow. Is it half-over . . . or half-started? It's been a challenge. I did have to think about not picking up Sugar Plum Fairy, but I can wait a week. It will be such a quick stitch, once I figure out how to resolve the metallic issue

06 January 2011

R is for . . .

Reindeer boy

I started Miss Mitchell's First Grade Christmas pageant yesterday on some ivory aida I had in stash. I liked working on it so much that I worked on it all day long. I figure if I can get a kid done a stitching session, this will go quickly. The backstitch is not easy, though, and there is a lot of it. I'm really excited about this chart. I know I keep saying it, but this is probably the one I wanted to start the most out of everything, and now I've done it! Woo hoo!

Today starts "Sugar Plum Fairy by CCN. I've already decided this will be finished into a cube, which I'll put under the cross stitch tree next year, along with some other Christmas finishes, so that they'll look like Christmas gifts. I think it will be a cute way to display them, and, if I set my mind to it, it's not that hard to finish. I already have the fabric for finishing this one.

Well, have to go. I will try to get on tomorrow to post. I have the day off, but I'm not sure. I plan to be busy--I'll be at the laundry mat, washing comforters, and then going to try to get most of the Christmas decorations taken down and put away--not looking forward to that. I did finish taking the cross stitch tree down last night. It was much easier to pull apart than to put together. I appreciate that. Maybe they realize no one wants to fool around, putting the decorations away. Meari had asked for photos of my model horses, so I will try to post some snaps of those before I put them away, as well.

Otherwise, have a great Thursday!

05 January 2011

Winter Row--Day 4

I didn't have a lot of time to work on this chart, and spent a lot of that fighting the M. The frog came visiting, and I had to keep picking it out. This may not be the walk in the park I anticipated. I was pretty glad to put this away last night, but I'm not going to give up on it. This will probably be the first one I pick back up after the 16th.

Today's start is Cross n Patch's Miss Mitchell's first grade Christmas pageant. It's a pretty large start, but I think it won't be so bad if I stitch one kid at a time. It's a very cute project, and I think I would give it to one of the teachers in my family, but none of them teaches in a school that has a Christmas pageant. Life has changed so much since this chart was published . . . which must have been at a time when you didn't have a lot of choice in hoops because they're advising to put a 25 inch piece of fabric in a 3"-4" hoop. I couldn't imagine how annoying that would be--I am using an 8" hoop because it's so big.

Are your Christmas decorations still up? Our large tree and the decorations are still up, but I undecorated the cross stitch tree. I still have to put it away, but I'm ready to be finished with the holidays. They were joyful, but they're over. I did manage to score some clearanced out holiday craft supplies at Michaels on Friday. I think we need a wintry wreath next year, so bought some things to get started. But other than an ornament or two and some candy canes, I didn't go crazy after Christmas. It seemed like most people shared my sentiment because there was still a lot of stuff in the stores even on Friday.

That is all for today. I appreciate the kind comments you have been leaving about my starts. I know they're not much, but they'll grow through the year, and I appreciate the support!

04 January 2011

Hope Perches--Day 3 Start

This is my start for yesterday, "Hope Perches" by the Sampler Girl. I am using HDF on DMC marbled blue aida. Right now, it doesn't look like much, but I think, when I'm done, it will look fresh and springy. I think I am going to make a pillow out of it, like the one on the pattern, with a brownish wool or velveteen for the front, and my robin fabric on the back. It's a fun stitch.

I have chosen to work on BC Winter Row for Day 4. It's been kicking around my to-do pile in kitted up form for almost 4 years, so it's time to get it done. From past experience, the Row charts don't take that long to stitch up, and I'm doing this with DMC floss, so it should be a quick, fun stitch.

I know I'm probably not doing as much stitching on these as the other participants. I have to admit I don't work on them on all day or evening long. I start them, then go back to my WIP, an ornament from the 2000 JCS issue that I'm doing for the Brides' Tree SAL. I don't want to lose momentum on that one, and it is creating a bit of continuity while I keep jumping back and forth. I'll focus more intently after January 15th.

I've been finding some older finishes at my mom's lately. I will try to post pictures of them one of these days. If I do say so myself, I did some pretty impressive things in my younger years, before I let myself know stitching could be intimidating, LOL. This is the year I'll get those finally framed and up on the wall.

Thank you for the help with where to find the rotary cutter. I know where to look now.

Updated: I have had some questions about the floss I'm using for Hope Perches. It's Hand-Dyed Fibers in Robiness and Midnight. "Feathers", "Hope" and "Soul" will be in Robiness with the other wording in a matching color, the name of which escapes me. The birds are Midnight with French Artichoke feet. Sorry!

03 January 2011

2 Days, 2 Starts

Here are the photos I promised of my, as yet unimpressive, starts for the challenge. I am going to try to label the posts to be a little more organized as I stitch these projects this year.

First up are the Winter Horses. I am calling them that, as they appear to have no name on the kit, other than a line number. And they're so pretty, they need a name. I like this design because it reminds me of the work of Sam Savitt, who was a well-known horse illustrator, along with Wesley Dennis, and CW Anderson. I don't know if this is his work, charted to cross stitch, but it has the feel in the friendly faces of the horses. I wish the work of those great illustrators would be licensed for stitching. I fell in love with horses because of their works, but to buy a print is a dream. I do own a portfolio of Anderson's work, but only one.

My progress on Official Snow Guide by Lizzie Kate. This should be a cute addition to our holiday decorations next year. Perhaps it will be a reminder of how we should approach snow, instead of running around, screaming. I did find out last night, though, it has buttons, but the designer didn't say WHICH buttons. I'm going to email her to see if she can tell me.

Today I am working on "Hope Perches," by Sampler Girl. I am using HDF and DMC marbled blue aida. If this works out, I hope to finish it into a pillow like the photo with some bird print fabric I bought a few years ago and couldn't figure out how to use. Maybe it was just waiting for me to stitch this? I will post a photo tomorrow.

And my last "finish" for 2010. I finished Snowy Pines into a felt-backed ornament last week. I need to figure out where I can purchase a fancy rotary cutter to make the pretty edges for these ornaments because I like them a lot. Pinking shears just aren't cutting it. Does anyone know? I know it's not the best finish possible, but it's pretty good, and I can't learn if I don't try, right?

I'm really hopeful about this year, stitching wise. I know the year never ends up being as long as it seems it will last in January, but I think I can get some really fun projects started and completed. I have a few SALs to do this year and I think it will be fun! I have a good feeling about 2011.

Needles up, y'all!

02 January 2011

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2011! I hope everyone had the New Year's festivities they wanted to have. It seemed like a lot of people here just wanted some quiet. We usually have a big party with the family, but, due to illness, ended up having a nice dinner at a cute little restaurant by the house to celebrate the evening and Left-brain's birthday. It was a really fun, romantic evening, and I was asleep by 10:30.

Yesterday, I hosted my first major dinner party for New Years' Day. I had this brilliant idea that I could handle cooking pork roast, which I've never cooked before, and make mashed potatoes for my very picky family. And do all the sides. I don't have a very good track record at picking meat, unless I was picking meat for barbecue, because I can pick meat that needs slow cooking to get rid of the toughness. My mother solved this by purchasing a cut of meat that I can only describe as being roughly the shape and length of a bolster pillow, and entrusting it to me. My father said, "You're gonna want to cut that in half". Yeah . . . that roll of meat was not going to fit in my roaster. After some mumbled cooking directions, I was sent merrily off to get the rest of the fixin's. I came home with a bag of marble-sized red potatoes, some sorry looking cucumbers, a pack of white Wonderbread (we eat wheat in our house, but Mom likes white, and there is something about buttermilk Wonderbread spread thickly with butter that speaks of holiday indulgence) and a pack of clearanced-out candy canes. I could not find a punch block (do they even make those?), so had to buy some berry sherbet and 7-Up. Much tastier!

Cooking all that was an adventure; I was so worried that it was not going to turn out right. I think there were some details missing in the cooking instructions given . No one told me whether or not I was supposed to put anything in with the roast while it was cooking, like something to keep it from sticking to the pan, so I called up my mom, who was not home, then called up Left-brain's mom, who said nope. I trusted her, threw some salt and pepper on my pork bolster and let it cook. Left-brain left it all up to me, because he didn't know how to make the stuff we were having, but he did help me put sauerkraut around the roast when it was time. My mom had to make the dressing for the creamed cucumbers--"glugs" of this and "til it tastes you good" are not adequate units of measure. Apparently, "til it tastes you good" in my mom's recipe means a little less than 3/4 cup of sugar.

Everything turned out really well. I was delighted. It was a nice meal, if I do say so myself. Good conversation. Laughter. Sharing memories. We surprised Left-brain with a birthday cake; granted, it was from the same bakery that botched our wedding cake, but they do better decorating birthday cakes than wedding cakes, and I was happy. It was all the things I wanted it to be. We even have some good leftovers.

I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to start my first project for the Crazy January Challenge, but I did find a few minutes to make a start. It's a start, even if it's just 20 stitches, right? I put it away for now, and am going to start my Day 2 project, Official Snow Guide, shortly. I will have pictures of both to share tomorrow (I'm not near my camera today). Crossing fingers!
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