31 July 2014

All finished

And it only took four days!  I am really pleased with this finish.

28 July 2014

An Old UFO

Blackbird's Winter Delivery
Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers
stitched with the kitted fabric and fibers
Last week, for a lot of reasons, was chaos. Mom ended up in the ER on Wednesday night, so that threw me off for the next two days. She's fine, but it was a scary thing to deal with--she doesn't drink enough water, and got dehydrated.This weekend, we brought everything home from the storage unit. I spent most of Saturday, cleaning out my office, so that Left-brain can put up the bookshelves when he gets them put together. Mom came out for the day to watch Someone Small, but also so that I can keep track of her fluid consumption. I got a lot done. Threw out a lot of detritus. I am very hopeful that most of my books fit on the shelves I bought, because there isn't a lot of other space to put them, and not a lot of place to store my stash. I refuse to have it all stacked in here (remember, I have that issue with stacks and paper and staring at that all day would drive me crazy. Books are different, I can do spines of books), but I need the bookcases put up so I can put the books on there, and put the stash boxes where the books were.
Anyway, so . . . while I was cleaning, I found this. It's from the first year of the Loose Feathers club. I signed up for that club in 2003, stitched a few of them, realized I couldn't keep up, and I have the rest in stash somewhere. I've started this one and frogged it a few times.  I think I have even bought more floss for it a few times. But I am determined that I will finally get this thing done. It's not a big design, 4 3/4 X 5, I don't know why I am not able to complete it, but I have been scared of it, and then I put it aside, and pick it up a year or so later and put in a few stitches, and put it back down. So I am putting everything else aside and finishing this. Because this is just silly. And I think it will be really finished when it's done, framed with a black frame and a white mat. I know I do not like the fabric because the dye comes off on my hoops and I have to watch them when I switch off to something else, but maybe finishing it will put an end to it.
And I have a question. We had the box of my unfinished finishes in the storage unit, and when Left-brain brought it home, I realized there are quite a few that are dirty and stained and hoop-marked. In my defense, I didn't know better. I think I can clean most of them up--if a Tide Pen can remove dog poop and highlighter, it's gonna take most anything out This is proof. I have one poor little mouse ornament that has a wierd stain on it, and the best I can think is that my dad used to use this product on the woodwork that, if you didn't rub it really well, it would leave marks, and I think some got on my finish. It's done with Weeks, so it's not washable, and it was one of my first overdyed projects. It's not unsalvageable, it just looks a bit battered, but I look a lot more battered than I did when I was young too, and I can live with it, rather than restitch it.Would you go ahead and have it made into an ornament? I mean, the back of the tree needs ornaments as well, right?

20 July 2014

Halfway there

I got this far!  I think, out of all my unfinished BAWIPs, this is the farthest I have ever gotten. And now I go from a whole lot of greys to weeks of blues.

My house looks chaotic right now. We have to make room for all these boxes from the storage unit, and so, I'm trying to consolidate the boxes that are left.  I think setting up my bookshelves will help, because at least all the books would be in one place, but we have to make room to set them up. That is the hard thing. And my office is so small, it heats up really quickly, so is not always the most pleasant room to organize.

I'm starting to think about what I want to work on for 2015. Youtube has been full of videos for the cross stitch wishlist tag, where people have chosen the 5 projects they want to work on. I have thought about doing that, and actually pulled aside 7 projects that I think I could at least make a good effort on, and thought, well, I'll start those. But then I pulled out my Hummingbird Trellis afghan for a little last night, and started wondering how far I could get if I actually focused on it, instead of just occasionally picking it up. So I'm kind of in a quandary. I don't think I'd actually get it finished, but it would be nice to see how far I could get. And, let's be honest, that project needs commitment and time. It's been kicking around here since 2005, and I actually made a decent start on it in 2006, so it's been a WIP/UFO for 8 years. It's not improving with age, and if I keep going like this, the fabric will be ruined.

What would you do?

15 July 2014

Christmas In July

I took part in the Christmas in July exchange on 123stitch, and my packages came in the mail.  Val in Hawaii was my sender, and she chose a beach theme for me. I love what I got!  A pretty journal, LHN Summer by the Shore, and all the threads to stitch it, flip-flop scissor fob and needleminder, and some beach glass! I have a little collection of that now, so it was a real gift. She also sent me little dish, but I forgot to get a picture of it. And Merry Little Bird from LK, which I have been wanting for a long time.

I placed an order for my recipient, but it probably mailed off today and it has to go overseas, so probably will not get there for a few weeks. My recipient was Dalene, who I've been partnered with before, so it was cool! 

I can't wait to start the Summer by the Shore. After a Youtube tag went around about the 5 projects you wanted to start, I created an stitching bag with the 5 projects, and this is going in there.

14 July 2014

Santa's Pets progress as of today.

Progress for the week. Not a lot done, but I had to finish "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and that was pretty much most of the week. Such a great book. I don't read a lot of WW2 military history, but the two books I've read (the other is "Monuments Men," which, as an arts administration major, made me very proud, but also made me realize that there truly is a job for everyone in the military) both have been really excellent. Louie Zamperini died a week or so ago, and they're making a movie of "Unbroken", and so, it was great to read that book.

Santa's Pets is almost halfway done. I now have to stand really far back to get a good photo of it. And from this picture, it looks like a painting. This is why I love cross stitch.  We create dimension and movement with floss. And it still amazes me, after 25 years of doing this art. And the other thing that I've noticed has been a gift of this project is that it's giving me confidence to do the bigger, "scarier" projects, like the HAED and some of the older computer-generated charts I have collected over the years. I'm pretty pleased with myself about that. Not that I'm going to be jumping in and kitting up a bunch of them. But I can do it!

13 July 2014

Storage time, again

In my never-ending quest to find the perfect storage solution for my stash, I spent the last two days out and about.

My biggest concern is floss storage. I've tried so many different ways over the years, and always return to bobbins. But, as I've hoarded floss over the years, I realized, I don't like winding floss on bobbins so much, so I shove the floss in bags and hide them all over the house, like an enormous squirrel (who knows better). A few years ago, I consolidated the bags into a plastic tub, then made effort to organize that plastic tub into at least Ziplocs organized by numbers. I have one set of DMC I keep in a Jammer box, the spare floss already wound onto bobbins organized numerically, and then the large (and dreary) box o' floss which is basically depressing to go into.   And rarely ever gets used.

And I'm sick of it. This isn't working for me anymore. I end up buying floss and it feels like when I've been on a diet and cheat, or have to buy bigger pants. I disappoint myself.

My friend Enid told us how she organizes her floss one time, and that struck me as reasonable. She uses a large plastic bin, and puts all her floss in mailing envelopes, sorted numerically,  and then pulls from that. I misheard her say that they were memory boxes, and have been looking ever since. Well, Michaels had those boxes on sale this week, $2 a box. We were out and about , and I bought 5, all kind of matching. I bought snack-sized baggies to put them in. I know someone will say, "But that is not archival, and the threads will decay over time."  And my response is, "probably, but they're definitely going to decay over time in this giant tub of BS if I never use them, right?" 

The only drawback I see to the system as it stands now is that I need more memory boxes. My floss will not fit in 5 boxes, even with me keeping the large Jammer box of floss intact. So I'll do the best I can do, if I have to spend a little more to get some more boxes, then that's cool. It will be better than wasting money, buying floss I already have because I'm too annoyed to search. And I probably will switch out to paper envelopes as storage because the air gets trapped in the baggies, but this is a good start.

That wasn't all that we bought. One of my other big needs, and I think I go through this every year, is secure storage cases for current WIPs. I have a weird collection of them, but, considering how many WIPs I have, there is never enough. I really needed something for Santa's Pets and it was not looking easy to find--since the chart is part of a calendar, it made it difficult to use anything I had in my "stock". So, it was a pleasure to find that Michaels had their scrapping cases on sale.  Normally, they are $9.99, but they were $3.99 on sale. I figured it might be worth a shot, and, for $4, what could it hurt, so I bought one. And Santa's Pets fits! Everything.  The chart/calendar, the floss, the HOOP!, and the WIP. So much better than trusting it to the "the elements", one of whom sheds and the other who has a thing for pens.

Friday night, we went to Target to do a little after-birthday shopping, and, while we were there, I noticed they have the school supplies out already.  It's a little weird--didn't these kids get out of school like 3 weeks ago?--but it was worth taking a look. And I found a large plastic pencil case that will also work well to hold small WIPs, like those freebies I love. $2.47 for it. Perfect! I also picked up a couple things for the office, supply-wise, but I was pretty pleased to get that pencil box.

If anyone wants to see pictures, I can post them. I would say check your Target and Michaels to see if they have these items still on sale if you are interested.

09 July 2014

New finish (with which I am not pleased)

This is "Are You My Mother" by Bent Creek.  I stitched it on a piece of Jobelan I had around, with most of the DMC conversion. I did sub out the 550 the chart called for for the flower for 3041, since that looked more like the color of the Weeks they used. But the chick, because that's a chick, not a grown bird, the colors they chose were awful. I only tweaked it a little, because I couldn't figure out the golds to convert the chick to, but knew I didn't want a dark beak, so the beak and legs are 3822.

And . . . imagine my non-delighted surprise to find out that the two skeins of 936 I used for the stem (because I misplaced one while tidying up) were not a similar dyelot. One is an olive-y green, the other is not. What is up with that, DMC?

I know these are things most people wouldn't care about, and it's cute. If it wasn't that I know what it was supposed to look like, I wouldn't even care, but the colors for the chick that were the company's conversion look NOTHING like the picture on the package, and that is not a dyelot issue. That is just a poor conversion on the part of the designer.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Is it so hard to check your conversion before you release a design? Or even have it stitched in the DMC you converted it to? I usually stitch in DMC because of the affordability of it, and, to some extent, because it can be washed if my assistant has messy hands and a joyous interest.  Kind of sucky if I can't trust what's on the chart will give me a finish that looks similar (and I know, I know, if it shows overdyeds, using a regular thread doesn't give the same effect, but could it at least be in the ballpark?). Brittercup conversions are usually pretty spot-on, that is why I want to do the quilt I have envisioned with her designs. I have at least one other BC kitted up with regular floss and am now going to go over it and make sure I like how it looks.

Oh, well, onward and upward.

07 July 2014

My answers to the cross stitch tag!

Question 1: How did you start? Who introduced you to cross stitching?

My brother and mom stitched. My mom would stitch lovely TIAG designs on vacation when I was a kid, and I wanted to learn, but Mom hesitated to teach me because my kindergarten teacher told her that I lacked fine motor skills (um, no, I was a leftie, and probably had a touch of ADHD. I couldn't write well because I couldn't curve my hand around the sheet of paper the way they wanted you to, and anyone who ever tried the leftie scissors that they had us use back then knows they wouldn't cut soft butter, let alone construction paper.) But I pestered, and, in 1989, Mom and my brother brought home a no-count kit for me, and then, in 1990, on the day that Iraq invaded Kuwait (the last day of our vacation that year), Mom and my aunt went to the LNS in Virginia Beach and brought me home a little counted kit, and that was the start. My brother really taught me how to stitch though.
 I stitched through high school, took a break in college, maybe did one project a year (I was more into college basketball and theatre stuff back then. A makeup room is not a place for stitching, and I was always taking American lit classes, so a lot of my downtime was spent researching). When I graduated and had a job and money, I got back into the hobby.

Question 2: Favorite theme or designer?

Not a favorite designer, but I love patriotic sheep, cats, horses, and nautical-themed designs. Black cats are one of my favorites!

Question 3: What brand of floss do you use?

DMC. It's affordable and available.

Question 4: What is your fabric of choice?

Cashel linen is my favorite, but I usually stitch with Jobelan, 16 count aida, or Monaco. 

Question 5: Do you use a needle threader or are you a floss licker?

Floss licker all the way!

Question 6: What brand of stitching frame (or hoop or otherwise holder) do you use?

Mostly hoops or Q-snaps. I bought a set of Michaels brand Q-snaps earlier this year and don't like them as much as the original. I have a stitching frame, but I don't use it much.

Question 7: How many projects have you finished? Hundreds. I've been stitching for 25 years.

Question 8: How many completed works are hanging in your house?

In this house, 2. I don't get a lot of things framed, but DH has hung the lions from my 2009 fair finishes in our bedroom. And our foyer has one of my lighthouse finishes. I also don't like keeping things up out of season.

Question 9: Do you stitch for gifts or keep for yourself?

I keep for myself. People in my life appreciate my work, but I really keep most of it for myself.

Question 10: Favorite finished stitched piece?

This one.

I just think she is lovely.

Question 11: Worst experience while stitching?

Round Robins. I don't do them anymore. I have always ended up having things get delayed. The second (and last one), I ended up having to announce, on 123stitch, that, since I didn't get it back, I had no problem taking a day off work and going up to the county the person who had it lived in and filing charges with the police. It mysteriously ended up being returned that same week. I have also had issues with sending a pattern, and floss off around the world, as a travelling stitch. Someone kept the chart and the silk floss. I know it was out of my hands, but, seriously?

Question 12: What do you love and hate about cross stitch?

I hate kitting up.

I love that we create art with dimension and light and movement out of thread.

Question 13: Have you introduced anyone else to cross stitch

I've tried, I've taught people. No one kept it up. A former friend started out liking it, and then got ashamed of enjoying it because her pseudo-boyfriend said it was an old lady craft.  Not only did she not keep up with the stitching, he ditched her, and I got tired of being around someone who was more concerned about "the public image" than figuring out who she was as a person.

Question 14: The first project, did you finish it?


Question 15: How do you store your floss?

Mostly on bobbins, but I have a large bin I keep the loose floss in, and also have a bunch of Jammer boxes.

If you have some time, I'd love to see your responses to this tag!

03 July 2014

Stolen from Youtube . . . the Cross Stitch Tag

In the last month or so, I've gotten into the Youtube videos. The cross stitch community seems to be growing there, and it's actually pretty interesting. They keep asking stitchers to make videos. I am very tempted, now more than ever because . . . after seven years with my flip phone, I dropped it on the floor just right last month and broke it, so I finally joined the 21st century and bought the new Samsung Galaxy (I figured, if it took me this long to catch up, I might as well get the latest and greatest, but it has been kind of weird. It's like handing me the keys to a new Jag after I've driven a hoopty with no air conditioning or stereo for years. I'm not sure I'm worthy, but I appreciate it). So I have video capability, just not sure I'm brave enough.

But one of the cool things that has gone around is the Cross Stitch Tag. And I like those videos, but since I am too chicken to venture out there, not so much here, I thought I'd bring it to the blogosphere. I'll put the questions out today, and I tag ANYONE to put this in their own blog and answer the questions. I'll try to answer them this weekend for you, and post.

Question 1: How did you start? Who introduced you to cross stitching?

Question 2: Favorite theme or designer?

Question 3: What brand of floss do you use?

Question 4: What is your fabric of choice?

Question 5: Do you use a needle threader or are you a floss licker?

Question 6: What brand of stitching frame (or hoop or otherwise holder) do you use?

Question 7: How many projects have you finished?

Question 8: How many completed works are hanging in your house?

Question 9: Do you stitch for gifts or keep for yourself?

Question 10: Favorite finished stitched piece?

Question 11: Worst experience while stitching?

Question 12: What do you love and hate about cross stitch?

Question 13: Have you introduced anyone else to cross stitch

Question 14: The first project, did you finish it?

Question 15: How do you store your floss?

If you want to share pictures, please do so!

And, for anyone remotely in the path of Arthur, please be safe this weekend. To everyone else, happy July 4th.

02 July 2014

Santa's Pets . . . again

I picked this up again. I'm going to try to shoot to get it done by Christmas, but not holding my breath. I still have more than half left to do. 

I have been messing around trying to figure out how I want to handle the lower sections, since they're maybe four blocks high. Stair-step still seems to work the best for me. I can't explain exactly why it works so well, but, considering I did all that progress in December that way, I'm sticking to it, and I'm going to start using it for any of my large projects I intend to work on.

I got notified that Gigi shipped today. Woo hoo!  I'm nervous to see her on the linen I chose. If that doesn't work, I'm not sure what I'd choose in its place, but we'll have to see. 

And I broke my money diet, but not badly. I've seen a lot of stitchers on Youtube stitching selections from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery  and they're kind of growing on me. I bought "The Mysterious Halloween Town", which, if you're going to fall off the wagon, isn't bad for $11. I will wait a while to get the specialty threads, it was pretty easy to work with them. They email the charts to you, which is a bummer because I don't have a printer, but the library does, and I can print there.  Plus, I'm not buying other stuff, so it's OK. But just this once.

We had a nice birthday. We ended up at the beach at Breezy Point Beach, in Calvert County, near Annapolis, and it was a lovely day to be down there. Someone Small was over the moon, except she said the sand was "too hot."  But not too hot to put in her hair--I am still combing it out. Left-brain found some sea glass, which was awesome because we never find sea glass at that beach. Some people do, but they must go early in the day, and I don't know how much they find because it's really only common on specific types of beaches, and Breezy Point is not the right beach, but I'm happy he found it for me.  We are going to make this a tradition, it's just a nice way to spend the day as a family, without having to worry about other pressure.
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