Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I needed some needles. I really like the John James Petite needles, but the first time I ordered them I only got a single package. I have no idea where the six needles I got went, but I have my suspicions. I suspect they are stuck in WiPs hither and yon. So I got online and found a good price from Hancock's. Not the usual stitching source, but they probably carry them along with their quilting needles. Never one to buy less when more is called for I ordered 6 packages of Petite #24, Petite #26, and Petite #28 (oh, and a package of three Petite #26 in gold). They came today. That should last me.
The next temptation was Silkweavers. I get a notice of their solos every Tuesday. By the time I log on (even just an hour later) most of the "pretty" solos are gone. Imagine my surprise when I logged on on Friday and there was still one Solo that I really liked (green with bits of blue) left. I ordered it! (oh, and a bunch of solo evenweave minis...I'm bad.) They won't be here until next week, but I'll see them before Thanksgiving.
I have resisting temptation for a month now. And it was really hard because I wanted to join The Snowbird's SAL, but they are working on Ink Circles Cirque de Circles or Long Dog Designs' Paradigm List. And I really don't like monochrome designs. I simply can't stick to one color. I thought about asking to stitch Hawaiian Mandala Sampler, but that's not really in the spirit of that SAL. I know I'll get that pattern some day along with Long Dog Designs Beautie Spotte (how often do you get to stitch a Dodo?)
So what made me fall off the wagon completely? Châtelaine Designs' Hawaiian Mandala! I have been lusting over Martina Weber's designs for some time, especially Egypt Garden and St. Petersburg White Nights. I have also seen a number of bloggers working on St. Petersburg White Nights (sometimes cursing it, too.) But since I am a sucker for Hawaiian patterns (and I could kick myself that I am too late for the Mermaid's Treasure Box and Toys), so I succumbed. She does suggest working it on black, but that is not happening. I'm thinking sand colored opalescent 28 count evenweave from Silkweavers (which I already have in my stash). Some people use 32 count, but then have problems with the beads. I actually haven't seen the materials list yet, so I'll wait and see. I do know that I will be changing some of the pattern. Although her buildings seem to work well at all angles (even upside down), I don't think the scenes here do. I am going to stitch the sunset and beach at the top and bottom Right Side Up! Then I am going to take the top waterfall and bottom ferns and stitch them in the left and right sides in a vertical manner, extending the pattern to fill the rectangles. I'll stitch the rest as designed (even the diagonal volcanoes).
No, I have not finished the Michael Powell. And I have not finished kitting up the Crossed Wings ornaments (but I am half done). Yesterday and today was spent tidying up (and we have a big house to tidy) and getting things organized to be gone for over two weeks. Looks like I'll just have to take the Michael Powell to San Francisco with me in the morning. The taxi will be here at 4:45 am, so I better get on with the dozen projects I want to have finished before then. (Sleep? Who Needs Sleep?)
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I have a LOT of fabric, so it was pretty easy to find some with an oriental theme. I cut out four 3 1/2 " x 4 1/2" pieces by using a template and looking for pleasing compositions.
I then cut out four pieces of scrap dupioni silk for the backing. I added a 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" piece (the final finished size) of tear away medium stabilizer and machine embroidered my initials and the date on the back of each one.
I machine sewed three sides of each front and back piece, but did not remove the stabilizer. I left it in to give the finished piece some stability. I trimmed the corners diagonally and removed half the excess fabric. I turned the pieces inside out, ironed them, and hand stitched the bottom edge. I considered adding beads or trim or charms, but the finished pieces are so small and the designs are already so complex that in the end I left them alone.
Here are the four designs and backing before sewing them together.
Would I do it again? Maybe. The size seems a bit small to get very creative. Possibly it would be more creative with paints or stamps. Since these are for a swap, I also have to see what I get in return to see if this is worth pursuing.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
This is a Book Thong. It is ten inches of a three strand braid of Vicky Clayton #5 Perle Silk in Plumage finished with fire polished crystal and glass beads. Keeping the braiding even was the hardest part about making this. Since I made it pretty quickly, I decided to make one more.
This is ten and a half inches of a three strand braid of Vicky Clayton #5 Perle Silk in Irish Moss finished with fire polished crystal, glass beads, a Fimo mushroom, and silver gardening charms. This one was not so easy. If you look on the left hand side you will see that two of the strands have Mill Hill green glass beads. It took me hours to find beads big enough to thread through a needle and a doubled over strand of #5 Perle. I finally gave up and just put glass beads on the third thread. For the right hand side I used some large clear bugle beads that I had from a Project Spectrum beaded purse that I never started. I don't like this one as much as the first one, but the woman that I am giving it to loves gardening, so I hope that she likes this.
But what about the Michael Powell? I haven't had a lot of time to stitch, but I did finally find the Crossed Wing Collection, Feed the Hungry (#39) pattern that I thought I had lost. I want to stitch two of these ornaments (opposum and chipmunk) for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I haven't had time to kit them up, but I will put that on the agenda for tomorrow.
Mostly I have been working on getting out the brochure for our art foundation before James left for San Francisco this morning. We give out two artist grants in February and have a exhibition of the top images in California in March. I still need to put the PDF on the website before I send any of the brochures out. We now have labels, stamps, and half the trifolded brochures stapled. Doesn't everyone have a database of names, laser labels and an electric stapler? :-) We have been sending out xeroxed flyers since the '80s when we used to do this for cat shows.
I have two days to clean up the house for the cleaners. It's still very cluttered. Then on Wednesday morning I leave for San Francisco at o'dark 0'clock and get my hair done later that afternoon. On Friday we leave for Maui for two weeks. This is the last time we will be there until late January. December is full of trips and parties. January is CES in Las Vegas and MacWorld in San Francisco. I love MacWorld. This past two weeks has been the quietest time we have had all year, but it is almost time to hit the road again. At least stitching is portable.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This week’s SBQ is:
Yes. It's probably one of the reasons I am so slow. I don't use a laying tool, at least on cross stitch, though I do on needlepoint. I don't always railroad the bottom cross either, but I always railroad the top stitch by bringing the needle down through the middle of the two threads. About 95% of the time that is enough to have the top two threads lie parallel. A small percentage of the time they still twist and I might let it go or I might use my needle as a laying tool. What I will do is "fluff up" the stitches if I find that some of the stitches are not covering the fabric adequately. After much of the stitching is done in a section I will look back at it and see if there are any stitches that are really twisted enough to not properly cover. I will work my needle around them to see if I can make them lie flatter or cross differently to cover more. But railroading while top stitching is usually enough to make the thread cover.
Do you railroad?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
My husband asked me what I would work on next. I could go back to Warm Water Wash, but I probably should start some of the Cross Wings ornaments if I expect to have them finished by Christmas. They aren't very big, but I haven't even kitted them up yet. At least I have all the fabric and threads they need -- somewhere. I do know that after I work on some Christmas projects that I will probably start another Michael Powell project. This one turned out so fabulous that I want to stitch more of them.
Mostly I have spent the last three days glued to the internet downloading maps and watching video of the fires in Southern California. We have lots of friends there and in some of the most dangerous spots (Julian, Escondido). All of them (and their property) seem to be fine so far, but many of them have evacuated. I do feel for those who have lost their property. Those fires move so fast that some barely had time to save themselves and their pets.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I got this much backstitching done in my third hour on Thursday. Actually this is not the traditional backstitching where every stitch is exactly one square long. This is longstitching, done with two threads and sometimes over as many as six or seven squares. It goes a lot, lot faster. So don't think that I have become speedy stitcher just because this seems to go so quickly.
Last night I did another hour, though I can't say that I was as accomplished on any of my other projects yesterday. Still, as every stitch is finished, this project looks better and better. I think I can finish it in two more hours, but we will see.
Meanwhile I am going out to Bead Jungle to find some pretty beads for a swap-bot exchange. I am making Book Thongs. I'm going to use some Vicky Clayton Perle Cotton for the thong itself. I might also stop at Michael's. I'm going to make my first ATCs (Artist Trading Card) and I want to find some charms.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The Bad -- I had to frog the first eight stitches I put in yesterday. I still had problems with knots. This kit came with full skeins of Crescent Colors. I will have a lot of thread that I don't like left over. When I finish the swimsuit and the hat, I will have to find my larger set of Q-Snaps.
The Ugly -- I was bored, bored, bored stitching all the purple. I started on the black swimsuit because I couldn't stitch another purple cross. When I went back to finish the purple I was very worried that I would run out of this thread. Since it is Rummed Raisin from Six Strand Sweets (probably no longer available anywhere), I couldn't just run out and get more. I thought about blending the last few stitches, but as it turned out I had about eight inches left.
I originally liked this pattern because it did have large blocks of color and no backstitching. I could just stitch for an hour without looking at the pattern every five seconds. I know I am slow because I choose patterns that are pretty intricate, even the small ones. But these simplified patterns are not the answer. When I look at this stitching and look at the Michael Powell, the Powell has better colors and more "life" to it. It is worth the extra time it takes to blend the threads and confetti stitch a dozen or more colors.
I don't know how much stitching I will do this week. I need to get back to our projects. Tomorrow is "go through papers" day and Tuesday we have to work on the brochure and website for the foundation.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Then I took everything out of the kit and found out I was wrong. These aren't GAST threads. These are Crescent Colors. Mmmm. I don't have any of these on hand. This became especially crucial when I found out that rather than Aunt Marie's Violet, Needlecraft Corner sent me Wild Oats (a variegated tan/beige). I should have checked first, but I guess it never occurred to me me that they would have kitted up this project incorrectly. I hope I have the right buttons. It took a long time to get the fabric. I don't mind waiting for supplies, but I don't like waiting when they are listed on a website as available. And now I am missing a color of rare thread. I know a lot of people seem to like this store, but I will never buy anything from them again. I thought about trying the only local needlework store, but it is a long way to go and my husband will be using the car this weekend. So I since I do have tons of threads, just not Crescent Colors, I will pick something and substitute.
I started stitching and immediately ran into a lot of knots. Not a great start for a new thread company. I also stitched tails into my stitches and had to frog more than I ever had before. The fabric is a rough linen with a LOT of variation in thread size. I know linen looks good on antique stitching patterns, but I am considering giving it up entirely and just working on evenweave from now on. At least it is a cute pattern and there is no backstitching. I'll see how far I go this weekend, but if it gives me this much grief again, it's an instant UFO.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
This week’s SBQ was suggested by Jennifer and is:
Boy, this a hard question for me to answer. First I would say that a LOT of my stitching is for gifts, but unfortunately since I haven't finished finished some of it, it is still sitting in drawers waiting to be framed. So is it still a gift if you've had it for years? If I would just make that cushion from the ladybug and frame the cow, I would have two gifts for my niece. And if I made the standup of the lighthouse for my nephew's wife, who is crazy about lighthouses, I would have a present for her. And then there are all the ornaments I was making for the family. A little backstitching and cutting them out and there are lots of presents. I did stitch two baby bibs this March for my nephew's first baby. I also have plans to stitch two animal ornaments from Cross Wings for my mother-in-law for Christmas. But except for the bibs, I haven't actually given anything away this year.
What proportion of your stitching is for your own personal use versus gifts?
One thing I will probably not get involved in are exchanges. It's not that I don't want to share needlework with other stitchers, but I am SLOW. I'm afraid that I would not finish an exchange in time. I also travel so much that a round robin could sit in my mail for weeks before I came home and worked on it. I love many of the pieces I have seen on the web, but for now, I will have to pass.
I did stitch on the Mini Christmas Window for another hour and am seeing more progress. We will be out of the house today, so there may not be stitching time today and tomorrow the Stitch-A-Thon for this month starts. I need to prepare my fabric and put it in Q-Snaps.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
My other projects, however, are coming along. I can now walk in my closet without stepping on anything. But I need to buy more fabric softener before I wash any more clothes. The suitcase and traveling bags are put away, but I still have stitching and books sitting out in the bedroom. I did finish logging in all the DVDs we own and ordered some more from Amazon (Lost, West Wing, and MI-5. Dr. Who 3 won't be out until November and The Wire 4 won't be out until January.) We are going out tomorrow, but Friday I have to start tackling all the magazines, catalogs and mail that arrived in the last six weeks.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Meanwhile it's back to the To Do list. For today the first things I am going to tackle are my closet (clothes and shoes OFF the floor) and the Master Bedroom (suitcase, traveling kits and books put away). These should be doable.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I got this much of the backstitching done before it started to get too dark to stitch without lights. Since the backstitching is longstitch and not just one stitch at a time, it actually goes quite quickly. Some cross stitch looks fine even without the backstitching, but this pattern really needs the backstitching to define what you are looking at. I'd really like to have this finished before this weekend so I can start another project for Friday's Stitch-A-Thon.
One possibility is stitching Warm Water Wash, a very cute design without any backstitching. I bought the kit from Needlecraft Corner, but they were out of the requested fabric. I just got the fabric in the mail today. I might decide to do a Halloween pattern like La Potion Magique, though I probably won't finish anything before the end of the month. Now that I have all my Vicky Clayton orange silks, I could try the Pumpkin Trio again, this time with better colors and better fabric.
Whatever I do, I won't get a lot of stitching done this week. There are a bunch of projects around this house that have been sitting for months (like putting away all the things from Japan!) that need taking care of. I need to straighten up the house enough to get the cleaners back next week. It's been a long, long time since they have been here. We took it easy yesterday and worked today on our To Do Lists. Now we just need to DO.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
First there were three magazines; one of Australian Embroidery, one of Flower Fairies from DMC, and the Australian Museum magazine. I have to say we love the museum magazine. We belong to several museums, but this is the best museum magazine I have seen. It's super.
There was also a lovely piece of hand dyed fabric and three variegated threads. I can't wait to use them all. The colors are SO scrumptious.
And last (and the BEST) is this utterly charming ornament of an Aby kitten. It is over one on a lovely green fabric. Even my husband likes it! (There is just one ornament. I photoshoped the front and the back into the same picture.) I can't thank her enough for her kindness and thoughtfulness. I am just glad that the old thread I sent her actually matched the thread she had been using and that she could finish her project.
We are safely home from Los Angeles. Since we were driving from the east and north, we missed the horrible truck fire on I-5, though one of the board members from Santa Cruz did get caught in that gigantic traffic jam. I did stitch a few more white stitches in the Michael Powell and should be finished with all the cross stitch tomorrow. I would have done more, but was busy talking to two other stitchers. I showed Liz the Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid that I used on Flower Fairy and told her to dump that awful DMC Light Effects. It is just too stiff. Since Liz is a knitter and only occasionally a cross stitcher, she had never been seduced by all the great Rainbow Gallery threads that cross stitchers can use. Elayne was working on an intricate Santa and wreath. She stitches so fast (and so much), I'm sure she will be finished by the end of the week!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Ruth asked me if I wasn't worried about getting the white threads and fabrics dirty on the airplane. Well, no. First I do wash my hands before I take out any of my needlework, no matter what color. I also never lay any of my needlework or threads directly on the laptop tray. I always put them on the plastic bag that holds the kit. The stitching is also in a Q-snap frame, so even the back never touches a surface. The threads are in the plastic bag unless I am actually cutting them or putting them in a needle. I am much more paranoid about dropping or losing my needle threader or scissors. They are also in the plastic bag unless I am actually using them.
It doesn't really show in this picture but the top threads in the frame between windows two and three are slightly discolored. I did not stitch them on a plane, but they are probably the end threads. I should have just stopped, but it is hard to cut the ends long when just a little effort will finish out a section. I am not a thread miser per se, but I do want to finish those last little stitches in a color rather than start a whole new length.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
When I completed the small pumpkin over one on 36 count linen, I thought that I had achieved some sort of mastery in the realm of cross stitching. But for me mastery is more than just stitching, it is FINISHING. And I am still a long way away from mastery on that score. If in the next couple of months I can stitch all the WiPs that I have started (except maybe Victorian Wedding Remembrance which will take six more months just on its own) and if I can FINISH some of the Christmas ornaments I have stitched, then I can say I'm beginning to see a bit of mastery in my stitching. My husband won't think I have mastered cross stitching until I start stitching my own designs.
What for you means to achieve mastery as a stitcher?
But for me that is not really stitching mastery. I also needlepoint. The last couple of projects I have worked on, I have designed my own stitch guides, so I feel a bit of mastery in some area of needlepoint. But I need to finish a huge stitch sampler pumpkin that I started in a class several years ago before I can really say I have any mastery of needlepoint. The first small square (out of over 50) took me almost an hour to stitch. Yes, the squares are that intricate. I know that EGA has a lot of other types of needlework to master, but I doubt I will ever attempt to master crewel or stumpwork. I would like to do a crazy quilt at some time and some fabric embellishments for garments, but both of them take more concentrated time in one place than I have right now. As long as I keep stitching and keep enjoying it, that is mastery enough.
Yes, the old house in Maui is GONE. It actually turned out to be quite painless. The title company called us Tuesday morning and said that money had been wired to our account. James took the last gate remote control over to the resident manager Wednesday morning before we flew to the mainland and it is...done. Somehow it doesn't quite seem gone, since we haven't actually lived there for over a year. But I will say that I am greatly enjoying our new Maui house and was sad to leave it yesterday. The landscaping is done (and beautiful). We have all our furniture in one place. And after we put the cottage on the market in November, we can spend some quality time getting the new place just the way we want it.
Monday, October 8, 2007
I know a lot of stitchers start at the top right hand, as if they are reading a book. I like to start in the middle and work my way around the design. Sometimes I will find a large block of color and stitch that first. It's nice to start with a motif and finish that first, sort of a mini-finish. I worked on each item in this pattern. First the middle bush, then the left bush. They all used the same threads. I often stitch the same thread all over the pattern until I run out of that length of thread or come to the end of the close by areas of that color. I next worked on the middle window and a piece of the right window. I finished the tree before I finished the right window. When I had finished the right window I started on the right hand pot. I thought I might work on the middle pot, but instead I finished the left hand window because I needed something simple to stitch while I was flying. Now, so much of the left hand side was done and I was not looking forward to stitching ALL of the white frame at the end. So I decided to stitch the white on the left hand side and the blended white and blue and the bits of color at the bottom of the left hand side. That leaves me now with a very odd looking piece with lots of little empty patches at the bottom and none of the white at the top and right side done.
Which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. Do I stitch more of the white tomorrow or leave that for the plane flight on Wednesday? I probably should finish up the bits of color and leave the white for the flight. Or I could just put this all away and pick up my red box needlepoint for the flight. I also am thinking about what I want to take to the meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday. It's a pretty laid back meeting and several of us stitch or knit or do lace. I might need another project for LA as I really want something that I don't have to think too much about and doing the backstitch on this piece will take some concentration.
Everything is moved out of the old house in Maui. The carpet cleaners and the house cleaners were there today. Theoretically escrow closes tomorrow, but until I get evidence that the money has been transfered, I really don't believe it. Regardless, except for handing over the keys, I am done with that house. Which leaves finishing the cottage. In our search for some prints for the walls we wandered into a local furniture store that was having a sale. One lamp, one end table, one small buffet, and a queen bedding set later and I think we are DONE. OK, maybe a master bedroom lamp and a desk chair to go. And curtains! The plan is to come back in November and have the cottage on the market by Thanksgiving. We might even make that plan.
Friday, October 5, 2007
The random bits of color in the bottom left hand corner should look more like a pot (and some snow and a shelf and a frame) when the backstitching is finished. Two more pots, a bit of ironwork and lots and lots of white framing and it will be done. Oh, except for the lots and lots of loopy backstitching. I didn't want to start the backstitching until all the cross stitching was done because almost all the backstitching is linked together over the white frame.
I came to Maui only to make sure that all of our furniture was moved out of the old house. Yesterday morning two guys and a truck arrived at the old house on Maui time (at least 15 minutes late, but not as much as an hour late). They were big and strong (good for carrying the 300 pound solid wood double dresser) and efficient, but not very careful. That's OK, because we moved all the fragile stuff ourselves. They were done in four hours and I settled in and watched television (including World Trade Center on Showtime and Grey's Anatomy). I didn't go back to the house to pick up the last bits of stuff until this morning. The new owners are convinced that there is a significant leak in the master bathroom skylight. It was raining this morning, but I saw no leak and no water on the floor. I am so done with these buyers (and our Realtor). James can take care of this last whine. I'm leaving now to pick him up at the airport. He stayed in California yesterday to attend his monthly board of directors meeting for the art museum he serves. I like all of the board members, but I have had my fill of meetings during my corporate career. Running one exhibit each year is enough for me.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Today’s SBQ was suggested by Jennifer and is:
The ONS that I ordered the most charts from has recently gone out of business. allstitchedup.com had good selections at good prices. I will miss them. I have also gotten a LOT of kits and charts on Ebay. The ONS that I order the most fabric from is silkweaver.com. I do love their fabrics, especially the shiny ones. For threads, I love Vicki Clayton. There is nothing finer than her beautiful silks. I have ordered fabric, threads and charts from a few other companies, but none that I have gone back to. When I see a chart on someone's blog that I might be interested in, I usually google it and buy it from whomever has it. That said, almost all of my recent purchases have been from LNSs. There is nothing like seeing something and just buying it right then and there.
What are your favorite online stitching supply sources?
I have made more progress on the Mini Christmas Window, but I want to wait for some daylight to take a decent picture. However, it has gotten me thinking about stitching and blogging. I really want to keep this blog active. I'd really like to post every day, but I don't stitch every day and I want to keep this blog focused on stitching (or sewing or finishing or something thread related). So how do you make frequent posts when it may be hard to stay on topic?