Monday, June 25, 2007

A Time in Hell

Although I started out well, once again I could not complete an ornament on the Christmas Ornament SAL weekend. I finished this much before we boarded the plane from Cincinnati to O'Hare on Saturday afternoon. That flight is rather short, so although I brought my stitching out, there really wasn't enough time to actually do more than finish a few stitches. I knew the flight from O'Hare to San Francisco would be around four hours, so I thought I would have time to get a lot of it done.

Instead, our quick six day trip turned into another nightmare of living in the same clothes for days at a time. Our 8:15 pm flight was "delayed". They should have just told us it would be canceled when we arrived. If I had logged into my email I would have seen the email that announced we were rebooked for Sunday morning that was sent before we even arrived in O'Hare. This was really unacceptable. We had a meeting in San Francisco on Sunday at 9 am! They could have put us on a flight to Oakland or San Jose, but they didn't. Instead at 10pm they gave us a voucher for the Hilton Hotel. It's connected to the airport, but we had to walk about a mile to get there and stand in line for an hour to get checked in. We didn't get to bed until almost midnight, but had to get up by 5 am to get some breakfast. We hadn't eaten since lunch Saturday and couldn't count on getting fed on the plane or having any restaurants open early at O'Hare. By the time I got on the plane, I was a zombie. I hadn't had much sleep in the last three days. I slept a little on the plane (no stitching!), but was still comatose while we waited for our luggage. It did arrive with us, but again we had been in the same clothes for over 24 hours. We got to our meeting after 1 pm. By the time we left at 6:30pm I could barely stand up. Today was almost a total loss. I didn't sleep well last night either and couldn't nap much. I did finish the border, though. Our electricity went out for over an hour this afternoon, so it was either read or stitch. I stitched while listening to my iPod.

Hopefully, I will get some sleep tonight and start tomorrow checking off the two dozen things I have to do before Friday. Unfortunately none of those things include having to stitch, so I might not have more to say until after this weekend. I hope everyone has a good Fourth of July.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Time Keeps on Slipping Into the Future

Amazing! Here it is. Time for another Christmas Ornament Stitch Along weekend and I am actually working on my Ornament. I did half of the front border for Hillside Samplings Topiary Ornament IV last night while talking with friends. I have to say that the Algerian Eye stitches seem a lot plainer than the Scotch Stitch border on Ornament III that I did for April. Maybe that is because the "variegated" Gentle Arts thread, Black Crow, seems to me about the same color as DMC 310 (Black). It isn't near as decorative as the purple/green thread on the last ornament. The instructions say to treat it like variegated thread and cross each stitch as you go. But I think it will look fine done as one line at a time. I did pick this as an ornament this month because it has the colors for Project Spectrum. But the only reds are the accents that are sewn on at the end. The rest is black with a tiny bit of Ecru.

We are in Sharonville until this afternoon, then fly back to San Francisco through O'Hare. Of course we will have to walk almost the entire length of the F, B, and C concourses to go from gate to gate. At least I should get some stitching done on these flights. I am determined to finish this ornament this weekend. I know I won't have much time tomorrow and very little time next week. The convention starts Friday, June 30.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Time for Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Kathryn and is:

When you start a new work do you look for something small, do you look for another huge project or do you consider your UFOs?

This is a hard question to answer, even though I was the one to ask it! Before this February when I started this blog I might have only stitched a few threads on Pineapple Fish when I was going to a convention or at my mother-in-law's house. If I had any free time, I would probably have been reading a book. But I realized that I do like to stitch and I had dozens of kits, patterns and needlepoint canvases. If I was every going to stitch even a small percentage of them I would have to start on some them now. So on February 7th I searched around for a small project to travel with and started Silver and Gold. The amazing thing is that I actually finished it! It might have been my first finish in two years. (I made progress on Pineapple Fish, but am still not close to finishing it).

The next impetus to start a project came from Project Spectrum. It just started in February and the colors were white, blue, and grey. I had a lot of great plans for projects that are still in pieces, but I did finish Winter. For the colors green, pink, and green, I started Flower Fairy. I even stitched on it today, but it is also a long way from being finished. When my niece was born in March, I decided I needed to stitch her some bibs and finished two of them.

Meanwhile I also joined the Christmas Ornament Stitch Along. This is the stitching weekend for June and I will start a Hillside Samplings ornament this evening. I also have kitted up Rouge for Project Spectrum. The June and July colors are red, black, and metallic, so this pattern should fit right in. I also have a red and black needlepoint canvas that I might do.

I don't specifically look for small projects, but we have been traveling a lot, so small is better. I have a Japanese needlepoint canvas that I want to take to Japan in August. I also have three of six plastic canvas needlepoint canvases done that I WILL finish by this Christmas. When the colors of Project Spectrum change to orange, brown, and purple in August, I have a complex orange pumpkin UFO that I want to come back to and dozens of pumpkin cross stitch patterns that I could start.

So far Project Spectrum, the Christmas Ornament Stitch Along, and various family or travel projects have been my major inspiration for projects so far this year. But now that I know that I will stitch over a consistent period of time, I want to stitch some larger projects. I didn't dislike my UFOs, I just stopped stitching altogether when I abandoned them. First I want to FINISH some UFOS, especially the Victorian Wedding Remembrance. I also have a few other small projects that I could work on that are long standing UFOs. Then I want to stitch at least one Teresa Wentzler or Mirabilia pattern. I also want to needlepoint at least one large canvas (after I finish Pineapple Fish). If I can keep up this steady pace for the next two years, I ought to have a dozen or more finished projects. That is so much more progress than the last five years, that I will definitely feel more accomplished!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Time for Family

This is earliest piece of my needlework that still exists. I remember doing some stamped cross stitch and crewel work when I was a teenager, but I have no idea where any of it is. This was a Dimensions kit that I finished in 1972 or 1973. I was quite proud of all the fancy stitches. All I do know is that the french knots were a lot easier to do in wool than they are in cotton or silk!

The only reason that this piece can be found is that my mother-in-law framed it and hung it on the Family Needlework wall. I remember how proud I was that could join this long line of family stitchers. Although my mother's mother was a dressmaker and famous for her doll clothes for the original Barbie (including feathered pillbox hats!), my parents are only children, so I grew up with my parents and sister and no other relatives. I am fascinated by my husband's relatives and all their complicated relationships.

On this wall at the top is a needlepoint done by one of my MIL's cousins. The white crocheted piece below that is the oldest piece. It was part of a blanket eaten by moths and mildew made by my MIL's great-great grandmother, who raised sheep in Kentucky and spun the wool herself. My husband's family has been in North America since before the Revolutionary War. The needlepoint cat was done by mother-in-law when she was a teenager. She since has done many different needlepoint projects, especially Bargello. She needlepointed eight dining room chairs and dozens of pillows. As her eyesight has diminished, she is now doing 10 point canvas, but still does a piece or so every winter. The appliqué piece was part of a chest cover that was used by another of my MIL's cousins who worked for a famous quilting and design company during the Depression. The crewel work tree and squirrels was done by my sister-in-law when she was a teenager. She now sews curtains, pillows, and bedspreads for decorators, but doesn't do any needlework. The fancy work was done by my MIL's mother. She was a seamstress during the Depression and sewed occasionally for Eleanor Roosevelt. The last piece is mine. I love seeing it hung with all the other work by women in this family.

Unfortunately my niece does not sew or craft. Neither does my nephew's wife, who now has her hands full with a new baby. I don't know what will happen to all these pieces of family history when my mother-in-law passes on. Probably my sister-in-law will take them, but then?

On the luggage front, we did get our luggage late Tuesday. We didn't want to wait for delivery, so went to the airport to pick it up. I was certainly glad to see it. I am still annoyed that the airlines seem to take it so casually. I don't mind missing it for a day as much as I mind then not being able to tell us where it is at all.

I did do some stitching on Flower Fairy on Tuesday afternoon, but all I have done the past two days is work on the convention. As it gets closer, there are more complications and more drama. We will be driving up to Cincinnati tomorrow morning and back to San Francisco late Saturday evening. I should be able to work on my June Christmas ornament in Cincinnati and on the planes. And if our luggage goes missing again, at least I have clean clothes in San Francisco!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Time of Frustration

Modern aviation is a marvelous thing. In less than a day you can leave your suburban home and find yourself in Paris or Tokyo or South Africa (OK, it takes more than 36 hours to get from San Francisco to Johannesburg). We love to fly and we fly a lot. I can cope with flight delays, flight cancellations, bad airline food, overpriced airport food, and heavy weather. But there is one situation that drives me crazy. LOST LUGGAGE. Especially when it cannot be found by the airline system for over 24 hours. Especially when we have traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, twice in the last six months and BOTH times our luggage has been lost for over three days. Especially when we have no clean clothes, no toothbrushes or toothpaste (too dangerous to carry on board you know), and no card reader to upload photos. It certainly makes me reconsider our loyalty to United Airlines, especially when more people lost their luggage on a flight from Denver to Cincinnati than actually GOT their luggage. Our luggage (according to their website) might still be in Denver. According to a human being in India, it might be in Cincinnati and might be on a Delta flight to Lexington this afternoon. No guarantees.

Clothing is replaceable, but I also packed most of my stitching. If my luggage is not found I have lost the new French stitching that I just kitted up, the 95% finished April ornament, and the new June ornament that I am supposed to stitch this weekend. I do have Flower Fairy, which I have only added a few stitches to. I brought it to stitch on the plane, but I slept on and off during both flights. I have been working on the convention around the clock for the past five days. I've still have a lot to do for it today.

When we do get our luggage I will be able to upload some pictures of stitching, both mine and from my husband's family. I have been waiting to show this off since I started this blog.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SBQ: A Time to Organize

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Jennifer and is:

How do you store your WIPs and other projects that you have kitted up?

Like many other people, I find ziploc bags to be the best way to keep projects organized. I thought about getting a slightly larger bag, so I could keep projects of this size closed, but the extra plastic was too much to deal with, so I just use this size and some of the smaller projects can fit in the bag and be closed when I am not working on them. This is Flower Fairy on 11" x 8" Q-snaps.

I also have Floss*A*Way bags for gathering up threads for larger, stay at home projects. I could put some of the smaller projects in a ziploc with the Floss*A*Way bags, but haven't so far.

Since I travel all the time, I need a traveling bag. I "stole" this bag from my husband who got it for attending a Photoshop class at MacWorld (while I was wandering around the exhibit hall buying things.) I can put three or four ziploc bags in this larger bag, plus my iPod, which is essential for stitching.

Once I have the Macworld bag packed, I put it in this rolling carry on bag. Since you are supposed to have only two items carried on board, once I get to my airline seat, I pull out the Macworld bag and put the rolling bag up above. I can get the Macworld bag and my purse under the seat in front of me.

That is one of my projects for today. Friday we leave for San Francisco and on Sunday for Kentucky, back to San Francisco the following Saturday. I need to make sure that I have all my stitching projects in order for the next three weeks that I will be gone. I probably won't get much stitching done in San Francisco (too many meetings), but I always stitch in Kentucky.

And speaking of organizing, here is what organizing a program for a convention looks like. These are the cards for program items. There is a separate table (and stack of cards) for the individual program participants. You start by inviting people and coming up with interesting topics to talk about. You then start putting people on panels and eventually putting panels in time slots and rooms. Meanwhile entering all this information in a database. Luckily this is a small convention. With larger conventions you end up with post-it notes everywhere and reams of printouts that you keep flipping through.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Time to Remember

The SBQ question that I asked about needles was because I used this technique to organize my largest cross stitch project (126w x 157h stitches). I prethreaded 26 needles with all the colors I would need, stuck them in a bit of foam core (card stock over a core of styrofoam, available at most general craft stores), and labeled each one with the DMC number and the chart symbol.

Here is a closeup of a small section. Since I had to change colors after every few stitches, I think I would have gone mad without this system. And yet when you read the answers to this question, almost everyone said that they only ever use one needle at a time! Imagine threading and rethreading a needle after every few stitches. No wonder large projects are intimidating. I really hope to convince a few people that this system is a definite time saver. Not only because the needles are threaded, but also because you don't have to hunt around for the next color. They are all right there in front of you.

And here is the project that all these colors are for. It is called Victorian Wedding Remembrance from Stoney Creek, Our Special Day, Book 95. It is on 28 count white linen with all DMC threads. I am about 70% done. I still need to finish the last bit of cross stitching in the lower right hand corner and do all the backstitching (which is around everything in the picture except the green vegetation.) There are also some beads in the empty strip on the right and some lettering in the two open spaces in the middle.

Will I start working on this again soon? Nope. This is in a very large Q-snap frame. It is too large to hold in one hand, as I do for most of my smaller projects. I need a floor stand for this and my floor stand is all in pieces. I have all the wooden bits, but am missing the bolts to put the frame together. If I ever find them, I will probably try to finish this up.


I've been good about working on programming (instead of stitching) this weekend, but I have to say, if XML weren't so useful I would throw my computer across the room. I now know more about moving data from FileMaker to InDesign CS3 via XML and XSLT than anyone should have to know.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sheep Time!

As I said in April, "Send More Sheep!". I really loved stitching the first of these Bent Creek sheep. I knew there were six or seven more designs in the series and started looking for them. I found them on sale at Only One Ewe Needleworks, how appropriate.

I may not have time to stitch this weekend, but I can think about all the lovely projects I can start next week. I do want to continue working on Flower Fairy, but I also want to start some projects for Project Spectrum. The colors for June and July are black, red, and metallics. I have two projects that will go nicely. The first is a French pattern that I bought especially for this challenge, Rouge. The other one is a Christmas ornament from Hillside samplings. When I complete this one it counts towards both Project Spectrum and the Christmas Ornaments Stitch Along.

Although it was cool (really, 61 degrees in June is cool for Las Vegas!) when we got back on Wednesday, it is warming up nicely. Hopefully we can swim in the pool sometime this weekend. Here's wishing everyone a relaxing weekend.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Time for Another FINISH

I admit it. I had to steal a little time this afternoon (when I should have been working on programming) to finish this. But most of it was stitched on the planes from Maui to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Las Vegas. In fact I got an extra hour in LAX because of some sort of unspecified security lockdown. At least we were sitting waiting in the plane rather than anxiously waiting in another terminal as some of the passengers on our flight were. But it did make our late night flight much, much later. We didn't get home until past 1:30 am. I'm still feeling a bit groggy.

I did change a lot of the threads in this one, especially the star (Kreinik #4 braid) and the ornaments (Rainbow Gallery Tiara). I modified a few letters to make them simpler to recognize. I also changed the button. The original button was a mitten. What is that about? It seemed much more appropriate to have a present. I got present buttons in several sizes, but my two favorites were a small green present with a red bow and this small red present with a green bow. In the end I opted for the red present and I really like it.

But now I can cut out and finish both ornaments. It won't get done this week, but probably some time in July. (AFTER the convention). I can stitch between now and the convention, but I don't want to start any projects (like finishing) that I can't put down at a moment's notice. Some of the stewardesses on the flights admired these ornaments, but one of them was very confused. She didn't think it was actually cross stitch, since to her it seemed too small of a stitch. She's probably only seen cross stitch on larger Aida. I tried to explain that this was cross stitch also, 28 count over two on opalescent linen. I don't think I convinced her. And I don't even think this is a very small gauge, especially since I am working on Flower Fairy on 32 count and other people have done project on 40 count ... over one!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

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

What has been your most challenging project and why?

This is difficult question to answer. I think my most challenging project is still ahead of me. I have several kits that contain hardanger, but I haven't started them yet. I have a couple of needlepoint canvases that are even bigger than Pineapple Fish, but I haven't started them either. I have a needlepoint sampler from a class with hundreds of different stitches in orange that I will restart in August when one of the the Project Spectrum colors is orange. Right now my biggest challenge is just to stitch some every day and to keep up this blog. So far I am meeting this challenge, but if I can still say this next year, then I will have met this challenge.

Of the projects I have started, the biggest challenges have been the baby quilt and baby bibs, Pineapple Fish, and the Wedding Sampler. The baby quilt and baby bibs were challenging simply because I have often thought about doing projects for other people, but never finished them. I have a half started cape for my husband and have promised him a Hawaiian shirt in a chile pattern, but neither of these are done. I have lighthouse cross stitch patterns for my nephew's wife, but haven't started any. I designed the baby quilt and actually finished and gave it away in less than a month. I was amazed at my self. The same with the baby bibs. I gave myself a deadline and completed it. Pineapple Fish is amazing because it was a UFO for so long. Or maybe I should call it a Work in Slow Progress. I started it over three years ago and although I have not been working on it lately, it is still a WIP.

The biggest challenge that is still facing me though is the Stoney Creek Wedding Sampler. I started this cross stitch project in April, 2001, for my nephew's wedding. At about 70% done just before their wedding in July, I abandoned it, packed it up when we moved in 2003, and haven't even unpacked it since. (It needs a floor frame and I can't find the bolts for my frame though I do have all the wooden pieces.) This is the project for which I created the 42 pre-threaded needles and holder. It made all the many color changes so much easier to do. Because of last week's question about needles, I have been thinking about this project a lot and am determined to finish it this year. If I do finish it, it will have been my biggest project ever.


I have managed to conqueror time! I have changed my overall blog time to Pacific Daylight Time and have found that Blogger will allow you to change the time under the Post Options on the Create Post page. You can even go back and change the date and time on old posts, so that my post about finishing the Pineapple Needlepoint Square correctly shows the posting at 9 pm Hawaiian Standard Time. Unfortunately I can't indicate that is is Hawaiian time rather than Pacific time.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Stealing a Little Time

I know I wasn't supposed to be stitching this weekend, but you can only stare at computer screen (and wrestle with a database) for so many hours before you need to step away from the monitor and just give your brain a rest. This little ornament needs about an hour or two more to finish off the rest of the letters of the alphabet and sew on the button. I might not get back to it this evening or even tomorrow since I should have finished the convention programming yesterday and am only about half done now. But I will finish it by the end of the week.

By then we will be back in Nevada and I can start on some red and black stitching for Project Spectrum. The program needs to be sent to Publications by Friday, so I actually will have a bit more time next week.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?

Well, trying to move my blog post to Hawaiian Standard Time didn't work as I had hoped it would. I thought I would just get that one post from yesterday to move to HST, but instead my entire blog seems to have been re-date stamped. Now every post seems to be in HST. Argghhhhhh. I need to find a way to re-time stamp just one post. I only spend about a third of my time here in Hawaii and I also spend time in other timezones. On the 17th we fly to Cincinnati. I'd rather have my posts show up in the Eastern timezone when I am there. And what about Japan? I'll be there in August. I'll keep this blog on Hawaiian time until I am back on the mainland on Thursday. Maybe by then I will have found some way to change the time stamp on a single post.

Well, regardless of my time confusion (trying to think if it is too late to call the mainland), I did get some stitching done today. I decided to try to finish my May Ornament #2, Winter ABCs from Lizzie*Kate. It's already on Silkweaver Opalescent fabric, but I can never have enough shiny, so I substituted some Kreinik #4 Braid for the Weeks Dye Works Whiskey called for on the pattern. The little ornaments won't be plain Weeks Dye Works Whitewash either. I'll probably use some Rainbow Gallery Tiara. With a little bit of free time I might get this finished by Tuesday. No blogging and no stitching until Monday. Time to get the program for Westercon done.