Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pineapple Quilt FINISHED

You know how you want to finish a project by a certain date? May 31st is the last day for pink, green, and yellow in Project Spectrum. Now for most of the United States it is already June 1, but here in Hawaii it is still Thursday, May 31. I've kept my blog on Pacific (Standard or Daylight) Time, but for once I wanted both to post this project in May and to have one more May post. I was disappointed in my number of posts in April on this blog and wanted to only skip a few days in May. Therefore it was important to make this a May post.

Furthermore I wanted to finish this project in May for Project Spectrum. When it got to be almost midnight PDT (9 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time), I thought about just posting the almost finished piece and then making a post tomorrow showing the finish. But I was SO CLOSE. I knew if I could just keep going for another fifteen minutes, I would be done. And so I am. Silly, probably, since no one is grading me or urging me to finish this. It's not even a present or an exchange. But if we don't create some of these artificial goals in our lives we would probably never get out of bed at all, much less do the things in our lives that we should be doing or the things that we want to do.

Now that this piece is finished, I need to find a box to mount it on. I saw some lovely boxes at The Status Thimble, but I wasn't sure of its exact finished size, so I didn't buy them. When I get back to the mainland next week I will work on finding just the right box.

So now that this project is finished, what is next? Well, even though pink, green, and yellow are over for Project Spectrum, I still want to finish Flower Fairy. I also brought my May Christmas Ornament #2 to work on. I might do a few stitches on either of them tomorrow, but starting Saturday I need to start working on the programming for the convention in July. It all needs to be done in the next day or two. All I need to do is come up with a hundred or so topics and find just the right people for each of these topic panels, then put them all in the right size rooms. So much easier than doing it for a larger conventions. It took three of us six weeks straight to program Worldcon -- 430 program participants, 20 simultaneous program items, over five days. This will be much easier.

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Here is this week’s question as suggested by Kathryn:

How many needles do you use during a project? Have you ever loaded up a needle for every color? Do you use a new needle for every project or recycle your favorite needle?

Since I asked the question, I do have some opinions on the answers. I would never have considered using more than the one needle provided in most kits if I had not bought about 100 assorted needles from a store going out of business. I had read that petite needles were useful for some projects and I wanted especially to try them. Like most of you, I do use only one needle during a project, but on a very complex cross stitch from Stoney Creek I tried using one needle for each color and I loved the convenience of it. This was, however, a very large project that was in a floor stand, so having the needles loaded, stuck in a piece of foam core and labeled with the chart symbols made a lot of sense. For most of my traveling projects, the extra space needed for a needle keeper would not make the same sense.

I do use different size needles on different projects, even if I use only one. And I do change needles when I break them ( :-) ), usually right around the eye. Right now on the pineapple quilt needlepoint I am using a very large tapestry needle because the threads are quite thick and I need a lot of leverage to pull them through. I use different size needles on 28 count than I do on 32 count. If you haven't tried using different needles for different projects, you might try using a petite needle sometime. I really like them for small gauge fabrics.

Monday, May 28, 2007

When You're Done, You Are Done

Well, I actually had enough Rainbow Gallery TC11 to finish all the pineapples without using the card I just bought at The Status Thimble. I also had JUST enough green wool to finish the leaves. But when it came to the white Splendor for the background, I started stitching with the new thread I bought at The Status Thimble only to find out that it was S800, while the Splendor I had brought from Henderson was S802 and S804. Mmmm. This is as much as I could stitch with only one card of S800. Back to The Status Thimble tomorrow for more S800. I'll need at least two more cards. But I should have this finished by Thursday, especially since I have a five hour flight to Maui on Wednesday.

I would never have finished as much on this needlepoint today if I hadn't been sick. I ate something funky this weekend and was staying close to the bathroom. I made all my panels at the convention, but I had to miss auctioneering at the Art Auction this afternoon. The convention is over for this year, but I need to do a lot of work designing the programming for the one that happens in only five more weeks.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Which Way Is Up?

One difference between needlepoint and cross stitch is that needlepoint is directional -- the stitches go from the bottom left hand hole to the top right hand hole. Cross stitch starts with this pattern, but puts an additional stitch on top of the first stitch, ending up with a square of thread with no strong directional effect.

When I started this pattern, I contemplated picking a direction and keeping all stitches oriented in that direction. But actually that would undermine the four corner symmetry that the pattern has. Instead I decided to treat each pineapple motif as its own design and orient the stitches in a way that would reinforce the pattern. What that means is that each corner is a mirror reverse of the stitch across from that. The top right motif seems to have the stitches in the right direction, but the top left hand side shows the stitches going from lower right to upper left. If you rotate the motif clockwise so that the top left motif is now that top right motif, the stitches now seem to be in their regular pattern. I am glad that I decided to do this as I like the way it reinforces the symmetry.

Another interesting item about this needlepoint is using Persian wool again. Many years ago, persian wool, a fuzzy twisted thread, was the only thread used in needlework. Now needlepoint has a plethora of choices from silk to metallics to heavy cottons and rayons. It's been a long, long time since I have stitched a needlepoint with wool. I really like the way it fills the stitch and lays down consistently. I picked it for this project because I have a lot of it, but I think I will deliberately use it for another needlepoint, a desert scene, that I would like to start this year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

LNS: Burlingame, CA

I've mentioned The Status Thimble in Burlingame, California, before. It was my favorite local needlework shop when we lived in California. Now that I am back in Northern California for a convention, I was glad to go here once again. And this time I could bring my friends, Elayne and Joyce.

I actually needed some threads as I had run out of Treasure Chest TC11 after finishing three of the four pineapples. Of course they had that and I got another card of Splendor S800 just in case I ran out. I have so much stash right now that I wasn't tempted to buy anything else here, but I did look at several needlework magazines.

My friend Elayne (on the right in the red sweater), who stitches much faster than I do, found a gorgeous Japanese crane in a small circular pattern and a wooden box to mount it on, She got those and some thumbtacks to use with stretcher bar frames.

I am moving along with the Hawaiian Pineapple Quilt needlepoint. I should have some pictures tomorrow, depending how late we stay up throwing a party tonight. We usually close around midnight, but sometimes people just want to stay and stay.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Change in Direction

When I realized that I would not finish Flower Fairy before May 31, the deadline for yellow, green, and pink in Project Spectrum, I started to look around for something quick to finish. I was afraid that another cross stitch project would take too long. I had this needlepoint square that I bought in Maui that is only 6" x 6". Even if I have just a little time to stitch this weekend, I should be able to finish this.

The good thing about switching to needlepoint from charted cross stitch is that I don't have to keep looking back and forth from the fabric to the chart. The bad thing is that even hand painted needlework is not always perfectly symetrical. I started the second pineapple, then realized half way through that I was one row down from the first pineapple. In a symetrical design like this that is Just Not Acceptable. So I had to frog a couple dozen stitches. Those stitches were rather thick, too, as I am using a doubled thread of Rainbow Gallery Treasure Chest TC11 in a wonderful green gold. I'm also stitching in a diamond pattern that I just made up. I'm sure it has a real name somewhere, but I just wanted a stitch that looked like pineapple flowers. I have some Persian Wool for the green leaves and some Rainbow Gallery Splendor (silk) for the background. I haven't decided if I will stitch the leaves in some sort of straight stitch. I know I will stitch a plain Basketweave for the background.

I should be planning for my panels for the convention, but after traveling today, my mind is mulch. I'll probably go to bed early and get up tomorrow and work on them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Flower Fairy Progress

Compared to my last picture taken on Saturday, this shows a lot of progress. I have finished most of the three large green leaves at the top center and made some progress on the small leaves on the right side. The empty spots are where I need to stitch the lily of the valley flowers themselves. Since they are all in shades of white, I am waiting a bit. I always leave white stitching for last if I can. The center empty space is the head of the fairy seen from the side. I'll probably start her next. I'm waiting to stitch the fairy wings, so I can put some sparkle in the picture.

Although I have made a lot of progress, I can see that I will not be able to finish this by the end of the month. When I fly to San Francisco on Thursday, I'll be sucked into the maelstrom that is a science fiction convention, especially a convention that is in a new hotel who has never had a group as large as ours (over 2,000 people expected). Although I was careful not to volunteer as staff this year (I have enough to do running programming for another convention in the same hotel in July), I still have around a half dozen panels, including one about the Hugo ballot. And I am also on the Board of Directors, so there will be meetings and informal talks passing in the hall and running at least one room party and not much sleep. It's a lot of fun, but not very good for stitching. I'll see if I can do a little bit more tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I know I have a lot of stash, but when I see something I like (especially when it is on sale), I really have a hard time not getting it. When I fell into a mad passion for kitting, I ordered some supplies online. When I arrived back in Nevada, they were here waiting for me.

I ordered some Gentle Art threads for this Halloween design that I already had. I might not get to it for a couple of months, but when I am ready to stitch nothing but orange for Project Spectrum in August and September, I will have everything I need. I also ordered the small bat charm hanging from the end of the cat's tail.

The fabric and the rest of the Gentle Arts threads are for these wild life ornaments. My mother in law feeds several opossums. She loved the stuffed opossum we gave her one Christmas. I think she would like the opossum ornament also. And I have from now until Christmas to finish it! I also ordered two kits, but I'll save their pictures until I start them. They both came with Aida cloth, so I will have to swap that out first.

Flower Fairy is going well. I meant to take her with me to the DMV today, but I left her behind. I might not have gotten a lot done as the line was moving very quickly and I didn't have to wait long.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Juls and is:

If you could only stitch one more piece what would it be and why?

Oh, this is an easy question. The answer for me is Bothy's Cut-thru Rocket. I bought this kit from the UK last year. The first thing I did was replace the navy Aida with some Silkweaver Reflections Midnight. Yes, there are some sparkly threads in the kit, but I wanted lots of sparkles. If I hadn't started working on Project Spectrum, I would probably have started this by now. But with all the traveling we have been doing it's better for me to work on smaller projects that I can easily take with me. I might even start working on Cross-Eyed Cricket's Three Gables (which I have had kitted up for several years) before I get to this project. Three Gables is just smaller. I have a couple of Teresa Wentzler and Mirabilia projects that I would like to do, but I am not convinced that I ever will.

Why this project? I collect rockets. I run science fiction conventions. Science fiction conventions have art shows. Some of the art is amazing. When I started buying art, I decided to specialize in rocket ships, so I have rockets ships from Bob Eggleston, Jim Burns, Bjo Trimble and other artists both famous and not so famous. I also have rocket ships in ceramic and a rocket ship rug. When I saw this cross stitch I knew I had to have it. I might not get around to stitching it this year, but I will start it by next year.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Going Green Again

I can't believe it has been a month since I worked on this. I should have done another couple dozen stitches. I packed up my stitching this morning for a long, boring meeting thinking I would get a lot done. When I got to the hotel; fabric, threads, scissors, needle threader . . . what's missing? A needle! As I told my husband, it's hard to push the thread through the fabric.

Still, I'm not too disappointed in my progress. I did much of the leaf on the left last night. I'll also work on it this evening. I'm not quite sure why I stopped working on it. It's really quite beautiful. Will I finish it before May 31st, when Project Spectrum colors change from green, yellow, pink to red, black and metallics? Well, I have stitched to the edge on the left. There is one more large leaf in the middle and a few small leaves to the right, but nothing else at the top. There are thirty five more lines at the bottom, but many of them are half crosses. The entire design is only 5" x 7". Well, it will never get done if I keep staring at this picture. Back to stitching!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Little Christmas FINISHED!

3,361 air miles later, this ornament is finished. Yes, I finished all the stitching except for the pine needles on United flight 149. Stitching and listening to my iPod made the miles fly by. That's not bad for a design that I kitted up last week, stitched Tuesday through Thursday and finished up last night. I waited until this morning to take a picture, hoping that the sparkliness of the fabric would show up better in natural light than artificial. I'm not sure you can see it in the picture, but it is there. I really like my thread changes. If I did this design again (especially on the 32 count fabric it called for rather than the 28 count I used) I would also change the three stitches on the ornament which were stitched in 644. It's just a basic grey. I think it would look better in a pink to better match the red ornament.

Since I still had a lot of Weeks Dye Works Hunter on my needle when I finished my pine needles, I went right ahead and started the tree in Winter ABC's. I've promised myself that I will change over to Flower Fairy today. I can work on Winter ABC's on my flight to Las Vegas on Sunday.

Right now I am off to get my hair done. I've tried several hair dressers in Nevada, but there is no one who can cut my hair like Marianne in California, who I have been going to for dozens of years. Since I have been coming to California for meetings every month, it makes it easy to get my hair done then, too. We are also buying an Apple Airport Extreme Base station. We finally decided to get DSL at the loft. Dial up was just too painful to use any more. Now we need to get all the computers here on DSL.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Miniature Rugs

Although there were no textile exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago, there were some wonderful needlepoint rugs in the Thorne Miniature Rooms. These rugs were designed by Mrs. James Ward Thorne and hand done by Lee Meisinger. She was a cousin of Eugene Kupjack who Mrs. Thorne hired to make her miniature furniture. Although Lee did not have a background in needlework, she took classes at the Needlework and Textile Guild of Chicago. She started at two silk threads over 30 and eventually was working one silk thread over 40.

The rooms were owned by IBM for several decades and were exhibited around the world. With all this handling, some of items were badly damaged. Mrs. Thorne's son bought them back and donated 68 of them to The Art Institute of Chicago. The Phoenix Art Museum owns 20 of these rooms. In 1977 the
miniature rugs from the American series of the Rooms were replaced by replicas executed by members of Needlework and Textile Guild of Chicago. They are still glorious to see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Lure of the New

OK, ok, ok, ok, ok. I KNOW I was supposed to be working on Flower Fairy. I promise I won't let it become a UFO. But here were two really small projects all kitted up. If I did this many stitches on Flower Fairy you would hardly be able to tell the changes. Instead I have about half of this ornament completely stitched up. I would have even more stitched except see the lower right hand corner? There I was blithely stitching eight count boxes, when I rush right past the different box in the lower corner. A frogging we will go...twice. Arghhhh!

It doesn't really show up in the picture, but this is stitched on Silkweaver's Reflections (opalescent) fabric. It has a wonderful bits of shininess in random spots. If I get out of bed tomorrow morning (I have been sleeping in), I will try to finish this off before my husband comes back from his seminars and we go off to see the Art Institute of Chicago, I thought about going today, but it was raining. So, of course, I had to stay in and stitch. ;-) Since I grew up in several Chicago suburbs and went to Northwestern University, I don't feel the need to see all the tourist places here. Still I have enjoyed our stay (no housework or cooking) and one extraordinary restaurant (Alinea). For foodies like us, the perfect trip.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Local Needlework Shop -- Las Vegas

If you have only one local needlework shop, you are very lucky if it is as good as Stitcher's Paradise at Rainbow and Sahara in Las Vegas. They don't have quite as many classes as some other shops, but they are certainly well stocked with supplies and patterns for cross stitch, needlepoint, and even some punch needle kits.

Not only do they have patterns from every major designer (and some you have probably never heard of), but they carry lots and lots of wonderful thread. My favorite part of the store are the stitched and framed models on the right hand wall of the store. You can glimpse a few of them at the top of picture. There is a great framer a few doors down from the store.

But I wasn't here to just look around (though that is always very tempting). I needed stretcher bars for the needlepoint I bought in Maui. Not only did they carry the exact sizes I needed in the slim travel models, but they taped the edges of the needlepoint canvas. I also picked up some very small Q-snaps. If I am going to do more ornaments, I need more Q-snaps. Tools, you know, not just more stash. :-)

I was also still obsessed with kitting. I wanted to start this Bent Creek Design. I had the fabric and the Weeks Dye Works threads, but not the Gentle Art of Stitching threads. I picked up the missing threads and some Rainbow Gallery sparkly threads for the pineapple needlework. I also picked up several buttons for Lizzie*Kate's Winter ABC's. They had some cute Christmas package buttons that seemed more appropriate for a tree than the mitten the pattern called for.

But it's hard for me to stop by an LNS without getting at least one new pattern. This is a kit from Michael Powell from Wales. I have several of his Tuscan and Welsh kits. I really like the hand drawn, impressionist look of his work. It's Christmas-y. It has trees. It had to come home with me.

But I could not stop there. Once I was home again, I looked through my stash and picked out a couple more patterns that I just had to kit up. I ordered a few threads online. When they come in, I will post some pictures.

Now, back to work. There are only two more weeks left for Project Spectrum's Green, Pink and Yellow challenge. I have nothing finished and am way behind stitching on Flower Fairy. I've just been finding the ornaments more fun to stitch. But I am now in Chicago and my husband is at his conference. I have no more excuses. I better go stitch!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Passion for Kitting

Tomorrow we leave for Chicago, San Francisco, I make a brief return to Nevada, then San Francisco again, Maui and back to Nevada before our next foray back East. With all this travel in mind I wanted to make sure I had a Christmas ornament kitted up for the the May SAL. Especially since I will be at a convention and speaking on panels on May 26 - 27. I am going to have to stitch this one ahead of time. In March and April I did ornaments with trees, so I decided I now have a pattern. This year the ornaments will be trees. And I had this nice little tree that I bought from Kimberly's stash.

To get started: 28 count Country French Latte Linen. Mmm, I don't have any of that, but I have tons of light beige fabric. Oh, here's a thought! Silkweaver's Reflections (sparkly) Precious Metals. I have a 9" x 13" piece. Mmmm. The design is only 2.75" x 4.5". Well, I could get two ornaments from that piece. What do I have?

Well, I have this one. It's not a tree, but it does have a branch. That's going to have be enough. Oh, it calls for 32 count Prairie Grain Linen. Mmmm. Well it's small enough (Stitch Count 55 x 55) it will still look good as an ornament even with a little larger count.

Back to Lizzie*Kate's Winter ABCs. I have all the Weeks Dye Works threads, but where is the fun in that? I pull out some Kreinik gold for the star and some Rainbow Gallery Nordic Gold in white for the WDW Whitewash. It's supposed to have a mitten button, but I don't like mittens. Heck, I never have to wear gloves or mittens. I don't have anything in my stash that would work. I'll get back to that.

Now to kit Bent Creek's Little Christmas, all DMC including 115-variegated. But when I check my colors I notice that they indicate 869 (Hazel Nut Brown - Very Dark) for the thread tying the ornament to the branch. That is not what is stitched in the sample. The sample shows the thread as way more gold. Well, I already have some Whiskey for the Winter ABC's. I can use that. And I can use WDW Hunter for the pine needles.

I am pleased with my kitting, but somehow I can't stop now. I want to kit up one of the small needlepoint canvases I bought Maui. I did buy some smaller stretchers bars, but none of them are quite the right size. You know what that means! A trip to the LNS!!! More on what I found there tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today's SBQ was suggested by Ish and is:
How do you choose a project for an exchange? Do you pick solely on what you know of the taste of the recipient or are there other reasons you pick the piece you do?
Since I have never been involved in an exchange, this question is only theoretical. But if I was involved in an exchange I would definitely check out the taste of the recipient before stitching. They probably have some favorite colors or motifs. Since there is such a wide variety of patterns to choose from, finding something that they would like shouldn't be that difficult. That said, I have a lot of threads in my stash. I would also look for something that could use threads that I already have.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Gift from a Friend

Although I have some friends who knit or sew, I really don't have many friends who stitch. But I do have one friend who stitches even more than I do, Elayne. Her walls are covered with her framed projects and now she likes to find something to stitch for others. She bought two tiny needlepoint bookmarks and finished this one for me.

Well, not exactly for me. My husband is running a convention in Las Vegas in 2008. To attract more members, we often travel to other conventions and throw room parties to tell people about our convention. Sometimes these room parties have midnight raffles and Elayne sent this to me to raffle off for the Las Vegas 2008 convention. Personally, I'll be sad to see it go. I'm not sure most people would appreciate the hours of work that she has put into this.

Do you often give your stitching away to friends and family? Do they appreciate it?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

March Ornament FINISHED

Here is my March Ornament for the Christmas Ornament SAL finally finished. I did finish stitching it during the April Ornament SAL weekend, but I wasn't anywhere where I could easily stuff it. So I had to wait until today, when I was near my stash and I could get all the equipment that I needed. It actually finished up in about an hour.

There were no instructions about how or what to actually stuff it with, so I just grabbed some Heirloom Batting and started cutting out bits and pieces that were about an inch or two long and kite shaped. I also grabbed a fresh, unused chop stick from the kitchen to poke the batting pieces into place. I folded the bits of batting over the end of the chopstick and just shoved them in. The picture of their finished ornament shows it pretty heavily stuffed. I thought that too much of the edge banding curved around to the sides and disappeared that way, so I tried to keep my stuffing relatively flat.

The most interesting finishing technique of this ornament was the joining of the front and back. Before cutting out the pieces (12 threads away from the edge), you stitched a running stitch, in the same color thread as the fabric, completely around the design over three threads. It's a bit tedious, but it makes the finish come together quickly and securely. Now you whip stitch through these running stitches and the edge just seems to disappear. It looks great and seems much more secure than just a running stitch through the front and back. There is a bit of a lump at the four corners, but you can smooth that out some when you poke the chopstick into the corners.

I am very happy with this ornament and now can move on and finish my April Ornament. It just calls for a running stitch around the edge and no stuffing.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Mailman Bringith!

I know I bought a lot of stash in Oxnard, but I have also mentioned that I really like French cross stitch patterns. Not only do I have some kits from Paris, but I also have some Point du Croix magazines in French. My French is pretty rusty, but it is generally good enough to make some sense of written text (given a couple of hours). When I found Madame la Fée's website, I knew I had to have some of her designs. The first one I bought was this one celebrating the color red. That is one of the colors for Project Spectrum in June and July.

I also had to have this Halloween design with the red haired witch and the lovely bats. We like bats. We even have bats that fly over our pool eating bugs in Nevada in the spring and fall. And the black cat is also cute, although we have never owned a black cat. :-) The hardest thing about these patterns is figuring out the fabric count that they are expecting. It's all in centimeters!

Besides the lovely designs from France, I also got these nice patterns from Kimberly in Michigan at Kali's Creations. She was reducing her stash and I just had to grab up some of the ones that she wasn't going use. Notice the pattern? Trees and pumpkins. I won't have any problem finding orange things to stitch for Project Spectrum in August and September. I also got a Strawberry Sampler from Hillside Samplings since I enjoyed stitching the ornament from there.

I did not get any stitching done on the Flower Fairy this past week. I am almost finished with my April ornament instead. If I sew it up tomorrow, I will post a picture then. I have exactly five days to organize my stitching for the rest of the month. We leave for Chicago on Saturday morning. I want to have an ornament picked out for the May Christmas Ornament SAL. Maybe I will do the Lizzie Kate Christmas tree I just got. I will have to check my fabric and threads stash.

I hear my TiVo calling me. We don't have any television service in San Francisco or Maui, so we only watch television in Nevada and only after dark. They put huge windows in the family room and it is too bright to watch during the day. That's probably for the best!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Perils of Change

Last weekend was the Christmas Ornament Stitch Along. I finished my March Ornament and started this Just Cross Stitch 2004 ornament (Woodland Snowfall by Little House Needlework) for April. Since I was just getting home and leaving the next day for the board of director's retreat in Oxnard, CA, I had only an hour to find a pattern and gather all the fabric and threads that it needed. When I saw this pattern with squirrels and a tree and found out that it was all stitched in DMC threads, I knew I had found the right pattern.

The original pattern called for a very dark rustic brown R & R fabric. I thought that it was so dark that the tree and leaves seemed to fade into the fabric. I had a large piece of 28 count Country French fabric in Cafe au Lait. When I put all the threads against the fabric I really liked how the dark colors popped out. I started stitching and loved how the trees, bird, and squirrels looked. Then I started stitching the snow. Uh, oh! Although the full hank of DMC 712 (Cream) looked pretty distinct against the fabric, when I was stitching just a single stitch, it all seemed to fade into the background. I had already changed out the DMC 3781 (Mocha Brown) of the squirrels' tails for Rainbow Gallery Designer's Dream in a greyish brown. It's much fuzzier and looks great on the squirrel. Now I decided to change out the DMC 712, but for what? Mmmmm. I ended up with a single thread of 721 and two threads of Kreinik Blending Filament in white. It doesn't show up much in the picture, but is pretty and subtle in real life.

Since I had started trading out the threads, I decided to trade out the plain borders of DMC 433 (Medium Brown), same as the tree. I looked for something not too different and came up with some Weeks Dye Works in Hazelnut. Now while many Weeks Dye Works threads are very variegated, this one isn't. I had hoped for more variation, but I probably could have just used the DMC 433. I do, however, like the effect of stitching a Smyrna cross for the red berries the squirrels are holding instead of a plain cross stitch. The extra crosses make a single stitches stand out much better.

Well, this is something we all learn. You can follow the pattern exactly and can end up with something that you are not quite happy with. Or you can substitute like crazy and gets some things right and others...not so much. I still like this pattern and I am not sorry to have used a lighter fabric, but I think I could have done better finding some thread for the snow.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Kathryn and is:

How many WIPs do you have? How many UFOs do you have? When does a WIP become a UFO?

Although I was the one who asked this question, I know I am going to have a hard time answering it. If I count just WIPs that I have worked on in the last month, I have just three: Lily of the Valley Flower Fairy cross stitch, Pineapple Fish needlepoint, and the April Christmas Ornament SAL (Woodland Snowfall). But I also have several items in my Working Pile that I consider WIPs even though I may not have stitched them in over a year.

My oldest WIPs are six Christmas ornaments for family members that I have been working on for over seven years. I used to spend a lot of time at conventions sitting behind a table and selling memberships to a future convention. There were long stretches of time that no one came by the table, but reading at the table seemed a bit rude to people who did need to speak to me. If I had been reading, they may have hesitated to interrupt me. Stitching, on the other hand, made people curious to see what I was doing. I picked these projects because they were kits on plastic canvas. I didn't need a hoop to stitch them and they packed down into a small plastic bag. All of these projects are completely cross stitched, but only three are backstitched and none of them are cut out.

Although I no longer sit behind a table, every November I take these projects out again and promise myself that I will finish them for this Christmas. I even took them to Maui during our last trip, telling myself that I would work on them before November and get them finished this year. Sigh. I was too sick to do much stitching, so these projects went back in the Working Pile.

Another project in the Working Pile is this French cross stitch. We go to Lexington, Kentucky for Christmas most years. Since the Christmas ornaments are going to be presents for my in-laws, I can't work on them there. For several Christmases, I used to bring this piece of cross stitch that I bought in Paris to Kentucky to work on. I only worked on it the week I was in Lexington, so it is definitely a Work in Slow Progress. Now that I am stitching on a much more regular basis, I can probably get this finished this year.

Frankly, I really don't know how many UFOs I have. Projects become UFOs when we move and I loose complete track of them. My oldest UFOs are two pieces of needlework, the Chinese Pillow and the Cat on the Table. The Chinese Pillow is over thirty years old, but I still have it and maybe some day I will finish it. I also have a cross stitch Wedding Announcement from Stoney Creek that I started in 2002 for my nephew and his wife. It is a very large floor stand piece that I have completely lost track of. I packed it when we moved from California to Nevada. I know it is in a box somewhere, but right now I don't know where all the bolts are for the floor stand. If I ever finish organizing the sewing room, I will get this started again. I also have a needlepoint pumpkin that I started in a class several years ago. I will be restarting it in August when one of the Project Spectrum colors is orange.

I thought this was all of my UFOs, but recently I came across a needlework canvas that I bought twenty years ago of Poseidon. I took about fifty stitches in silver along his trident, then abandoned it. I don't even know why. There might be a few other pieces in boxes that I have forgotten. This is not even counting a few projects that I have completely kitted up, but haven't started. Sometime this year I am going to start stitching Three Gables from The Cross Eyed Cricket. I don't feel badly about all these UFOs. Now that I am stitching on a regular basis, I feel confident that all of them will be completed in the next year or two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Here is what I bought at Weaver's Needle and Frame. Of course, I don't need more projects, but if I can find a reason to buy something, I usually will. :-)

My husband and I will be going to Japan in August, so I couldn't pass up this very Japanese piece. It's small enough to take with.

This piece is for Project Spectrum in June and July when the colors are red, black and metallic. I'll be glad to leave green, pink, and yellow. I'm planning on making the package very sparkly. I did pass up a wonderful Art Deco purse design and several other modern pieces by mindy. Maybe next time.

I couldn't pass up these two cross stitch patterns, though I really did leave several others behind. Really.

Since I am definitely in a squirrel mood, I had to have the pumpkin, squirrel and black cat. I am always looking for lighthouse patterns for my nephew's wife. Yes, I finally got a handwritten note thanking me for the baby bibs, though she said she would save them for a special occasion. Sigh. I really did make them washable.

These are the supplies that I am really pleased about finding. I have several very small canvases and I needed some really small stretcher bars. And I got a selection of Rainbow Gallery Designer's Dream. I've already used some on my April Christmas Ornament (on the tails of two squirrels, naturally!)

We are headed to San Francisco this afternoon. I am going to take Flower Fairy and get some concentrated work done on her. I picked out some pink blending filament from my stash and plan to add some sparkle to her wings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Local Needlework Shops - Thousand Oaks, CA

When I am traveling, I like to search out new needlework stores. Every buyer is different, so you never know exactly what kinds of things you will find. I knew that most of the board members on the retreat this weekend would be spending Saturday afternoon looking at antique stores in Ventura. I like modern furniture and don't collect anything except books (especially cookbooks and science fiction) and needlework stash, so I planned to just stay in the hotel and stitch. However, I did track down two needlework stores in Thousand Oaks, just off 101 that I could stop at on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately we got a later start than I hoped and the traffic from Pasadena onward was much, much worse than I feared. We didn't get to Thousand Oaks until just after 5 p.m., but my husband said that I could take the car and go out again Saturday afternoon. And fortunately my stitching friend Elayne would rather check out needlework stores than antiques. She was looking for some basic 10 count needlepoint fabric. When we were both in Calgary several years ago, she bought a large canvas with iris and had started to collect all the threads for the project. But she was still unsure exactly how much thread to buy and how many strands of silk to go over such a large count canvas, since she mostly stitches cross stitch. She wanted to practice before starting the project, rather than frogging insufficient coverage or running out of silk.

So after breakfast we both headed to the first shop, Eva's Needlework. The website promised lots of hand painted canvases, but it was obvious from walking in the door, that this was a knitting and crochet store. We should have brought our knitting friend, Liz.

It's not that there was no needlework, but the selection was meager and threads were all pushed in the back of the store and hard to get to. I didn't even see any stretcher bars that I was looking for. Although they had a small supply of blank canvas, it was 12 and 18 count, not 10 count. This store was a disappointment.

Edited: 6 July, 2009: I just learned this weekend that Weaver's has closed. That is really unfortunate as it was a wonderful store.

The next store. Weaver's Needle and Frame did not look very inviting from the outside. It was hidden in a strip mall behind an In-N-Out burger stand. Although there was not much to see in the windows, there was a notice of EGA meetings on the front door. This sounded more promising.

And when we stepped inside we knew this was where we would spend a lot of time. To the left of the front door was a selection of canvases for needlework. They were mostly modern designs and there were dozens I could have bought on the spot. This picture shows only half of the Rainbow Gallery spinners. I am sure that they had EVERY color of Splendor. And for me, Designer's Dream! I had fallen in love with this 100% wool thread while working on the reindeer in Winter. I knew I would walk out with several cards of my new favorite thread.

But wait! There's more. To the left and in back were dozens of interesting cross stitch patterns. There was a gigantic table to the right in back with several canvases in progress with excellent specialty stitches. Along the back wall and right wall were every color of Caron, Weeks Dye Works, Gentle Art, and other specialty threads. Of course, they had Elayne's 10 count canvas. And they even had some very small stretcher bars for me. If I ever move back to California, I'm going to move right next to this store. What did I buy? Pictures tomorrow!