Friday, March 30, 2007
I also started on the largest star. I always wanted to do this with sparkly thread. I had tried the DMC Pearlescent Threads, but found them too stiff. This thread is Rainbow Gallery's Nordic Gold, 52% Metallized Polyester, 48% Nylon done in a chain stitch. It says you can use it for cross stitch up to 18 count. I am using one thread over two 28 count, so it actually sews up pretty easily and does cover. What it does not do is co-exist very easily close together. I wouldn't try this with dense pattern, but this lacy pattern seems just right. Besides snowflakes don't have really sharp edges anyway. The thread is not actually light blue. It is actually transparent (and reflective). What you are seeing is the dark blue fabric showing through the thread. The effect is even better in person.
Again, I am moving away from a monochromatic color palette, but I will finish the rest of the pattern with the Empress white silk. I still hate this thread -- frays, slips out of the needle, catches on everything. I just have a row of camels, a row of trees, a box, a phrase, and a last row of elongated Smyrna stitches to go. I should finish by tomorrow. On Sunday the Project Spectrum colors change to green, pink, and yellow. Not my favorites, but I should find a few projects than can use one of the colors by itself. It doesn't look like I will even start the two gray purses I planned for March and April. Maybe I can do a green one.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Do you have a system for organizing freebie charts in your stash? If so, what is it? Do you print out copies of all of the freebies that you find on the web (that you think you might actually stitch) or do you maintain electronic copies of them until you are ready to stitch them?
I have to admit that I have very few freebie charts, either from the internet or from my local needlework shop. Mostly these designs are two simplistic and too monochromatic. I may change my mind now that I am involved in the Christmas Ornament Stitch Along. I'm going to need some simpler charts if I ever hope to finish a chart in a weekend. I did search for and download some baby themed charts before I started the baby bibs, but I didn't even print them out or file them in a findable computer folder. Isn't filing the last thing we want to do? That said, I am a great believer in photocopying charts in a large format. I still have several photocopies of baby patterns copied from magazines and books that I better find a home for before they go astray.
On the project front, all the foundation exhibition letters (and returned slides) are in the mail. Hooray! I still need to update the website. And I haven't even started on the work I need to do for the convention in July. I have spent a lot of time this week sleeping. I seem to have picked up some sinusitis from somewhere. But I also indulged in some DVDs from Netflix; Slings and Arrows, a very, very funny comedy about the theater from Canada. As a very long ago actress, I find these irresistible.
Monday, March 26, 2007
I fell in love with Hillside Samplings Topiary Ornaments the minute I saw them. I bought II, III, and IV from a shop in Ohio last summer, but decided to stitch this one (III) for the Christmas Ornament SAL because oddly enough our Christmas tree last year was white with purple balls. I think I am going to keep the purple theme through out this year's ornaments.
I really loved stitching the border. Repetitive, but with the lovely purple and green variegated thread, each stitch was slightly different. I even loved the challenge of the over one 32 count linen of the date. What I did not like was finding out as I was stitching the greenery was that there was not nearly enough variegated green thread to finish. There was supposed to be a 36" length of six strand cotton done with two threads over two. What I got was 18"! It took me the entire 18" to finish the 9 rows I did finish and there are 19 rows in all. I don't think even 36" would have covered it! Thread is cheap. We all have thread left over from kits. Why would anyone try to short you on such a small item? I tried to find a matching thread in my stash (which has all of the Weeks Dye Works threads, all of the Sweet Six Strands threads, and all of the DMC floss), but nothing seemed right. Maybe it's a Gentle Arts thread.
Luckily they have a website with an email address. I wrote a note expressing my disappointment last night and received an answer this morning. Yes, some of the kits were wrong and were distributed before they could be adjusted. They will be glad to send me any missing threads. If any of you have any of these kits, please check them carefully before you start.
This may have been a good thing, though. I have been obsessed with stitching (and then blogging) and I have quite a few OTHER projects that I have sadly neglected. Tomorrow is recycle day, so I really need to go through papers and mail and toss most of it out. I really need to finish the foundation letter and update the website. I'm involved with organizing a convention in July and really have a lot of work to do on it this week. So until some of these projects get finished, I really have to curtail my stitching. I'm no longer worried that I will stop stitching (or stop blogging) and I think I can go without daily blogging now that I have found Twitter. :-) I'll be back when I have something finished.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I have finished the large lettering on this project and just have a dozen plus smaller motifs to finish stitching. I should be able to finish it before the end of the month. In April and May the Project Spectrum colors change from blue, white, and gray to green, pink, and yellow. I also have two other Project Spectrum items I hope to work on, both involving beads. This might prove difficult to finish as days on the calendar are closer than they appear. I can't work on them this weekend. Tomorrow we have meetings practically all day and Sunday I want to work on an ornament for the Christmas Ornament Stitch Along. I have one picked out that I should be able to finish (at least the stitching part) in a day. But I have been optimistic before about the amount of stitching I can finish in an hour, so we will see how it goes.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I can even print out a list of needed DMC thread colors when JoAnne's or Michael's has them on sale. I can then take this printed list with me when I go to buy threads. But as with any data on a computer, the data is only as good as your willingness to update it. I thought I had a good handle on my DMC threads (though I am woefully behind updating my Rainbow Gallery threads), but when I went to pull threads for my last two projects, I found out that I was not as up-to-date as I thought I was. Obviously I had been buying thread, but not actually updating the database that the thread was purchased. And some threads were in the database, but not put away in the bags where they belong.
This is how I organize my DMC threads. Every color gets its own bag. The bag has a printed label (on Avery 8167 Return Labels, the same ones my husband uses for labeling slides) from my database with the color number and the color name. [Beware: Different designers can and have given different color names to the same DMC color number. Always select threads by the color number.]
When I need to pull threads for a project, I can get individual bags out and put them on a Project Ring. I do have to remember to "check out" the bag in the database. This ring is for a cross stitch project called Three Gables.
This is the box of rings I keep all my DMC floss in. Each ring is in color number order. I know most stitchers have some sort of system for keeping track of their floss. This is mine. I am grateful to the stitchers who recommended the Floss•Away system. I have tried other systems that required you to wind bobbins or hook the floss over bars, but I find this the easiest system that I have ever used.
Now all I have to do is update the database and print out a few labels for new colors that I bought, but didn't enter.
Computer neepery: Excel is not a database. Excel is good for pushing around numbers, but not so good for keeping track of many-to-many relationships. For many years we used a Macintosh only database called Helix (or Double Helix or Helix Express). It was truly relational, but had an odd "objective" programming structure and very poor reporting. Still, both my husband and I knew it inside and out. It was "non-programmy" enough that my husband, the artist, could use it. Unfortunately it was not supported by any company for many years, so in order to use a database that other people actually knew, we have been moving all of our databases to Filemaker Pro 8.5. It looks like this program will be around for a while, even if it is driving me crazy right now.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Well...first, although this pattern was expressly designed for this bib with the strip of Aida woven in, the pattern had dozens of quarter cross stitches. I have sewn quarter crosses on Aida before, but it is in not exactly easy. The stitching isn't difficult, but the counting can really be a bear. I was definitely frogging several times on these sheep. Of course, with the body of the sheep to do, there are just a lot more stitches than the small hearts and flowers. And finally backstitching. Not hard, but again, it took over an hour to finish the backstitching. Needless to say I did not get this in the mail on Monday as I had planned to do. I didn't even get it in the mail today. But tomorrow for sure.
The stitching was accomplished by listening to NCAA Basketball, Buzz Out Loud, The Ninth Hour (NBC's Heroes podcast), MacBreak Weekly, Smash Mouth's Astro Lounge, Barenaked Ladies' Stunt, and the soundtrack from In Good Company, especially the Iron and Wine tracks. If I spent a little too much time on the computer between bouts of stitching blame Buzz Out Loud. They got me hooked on twitter.com and www.last.fm.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Why did it take so long? Because each letter has three different shades (DMC 797, Royal Blue, DMC 798, Delft - Dark, and DMC 797, Delft - Medium). I thought it would give me more of a contrast, but the effect is so subtle as to be nonexistent. By the time I decided that maybe only one color was needed, I had finished several letters and cut all the teeny tiny threads I needed to complete the design. Yes, this piece has to be washable, so every two cross stitch in the lettering took six inches of thread, folded over to create a loop knot at the beginning and a hand tied knot at the end. That is sixty six times of threading (and rethreading a lot) the needle, taking two stitches and hand tying it off. That's not exactly the calm repetition of stitching. It got so frustrating that I could sometimes only do a few letters at a time before I had to walk around and do something else instead. I got the first and middle names done last night and finished the last name this morning.
The one thing that all those separate crosses did though is provide an impressive amount of oorts! I probably only used a half inch of thread out of the six inch lengths.
And will the baby's family love it? Well, all I have to say is that she has her own NCAA tournament picks in the family pool. After the first round my husband is in the lead with 28 right. He picked Virginia Commonwealth over Duke (we all hate Duke) and Winthrop over Notre Dame. He would have done even better if he didn't have a fatal attraction to Bobby Knight and picked Texas Tech (but not Texas A&M). I'm in second place with 26 only because I expect the rest of the family went with family favorites like SEC teams (Arkansas lost) and Texas Tech.
Up next is not bunnies, but sheep and flowers. The bunny pattern had too many individual stitches and I was not up for knotting another hundred threads. This way I can just well bury the threads as I could for the basketball hoops and the basketball.
Friday, March 16, 2007
The most interesting things about stitching this are the facts that I got this to snap into some Q-snaps and that as much as I hated stitching the white on blue Winter pattern, I really loved stitching this. I am a huge fan of Q-snaps. When I was at Needlepoint, Inc. I saw two of their employees stitching canvas by the sewing method (bringing the needle in and out of the canvas in the same stroke). I had to admit I was horrified. I was taught to only stitch by stabbing (one stroke into the canvas, one stitch back out). I also am pretty fanatical about laying the thread down on the fabric and not pulling it taut. I Q-snap all my cross stitch and board and thumbtack all my needlepoint. It is really important not to stretch or distort needlepoint canvas as you stitch. It is much less forgiving than fabric about being blocked into shape if it has been badly distorted. So I may be slow, but I think it's worth it.
I also found working with this lovely blue DMC thread to be easy. Maybe it is just because each letter took only about five or ten minutes to do. You can see the progress fairly quickly. So why did I post this now, when I am probably only about two hours away from finishing? Because I need a shower, because I need some lunch, because UNLV beat Georgia Tech in the first round and I can step away from the television for a bit until Kentucky plays Villanova this evening. I do love college basketball, but I only have a few teams that I care about seeing (Kentucky, Oregon, Hawaii, and UNLV). And don't worry, the next bib is all about bunnies and flowers.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
No question. I would spend it on framing. I can finish the needlework part of my projects, but then they seem to go in a drawer and I never look at them again. I really need to get a lot of things framed (or made into pillows). I might buy some specialty threads or maybe a canvas I just had to have (handpainted needlepoint canvases are so expensive). But right now I really need to sew down my stash and not collect more patterns I might never get to.
This week’s SBQ was once again suggested by Danielle and is:
If you had $500 to spend on stitching-related items, what would you buy?
Saved by the question. I thought I would get right back to stitching once I got back to Nevada, but you know how it is when you come home from a long trip. There is so much mail and so many projects, that stitching gets put aside for a while. First was satisfying the IRS. Luckily my husband did most of the heavy lifting there. I just double checked a few things. Then the NCAA brackets (which takes a lot of research). We have had a family pool for decades. My husband won the pool last year and his mother the year before. I don't think this is my year, but I won't make the mistake of putting Kentucky (Go, CATS!) in the Final Four. They will be lucky to win a single game. Finally (the big project) was folding, signing, and mailing the returns for an art foundation we started in 2002. We decided on the grants at the end of January, but we still had to decide on the artists invited to the summer exhibition and notify all the applicants about their status. We are not quite done there, but at least 75% finished.
I have not completely forgotten stitching though. I have been charting lettering and motifs for the baby bibs I am working on. I should have some pictures to show tomorrow.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Yes, my nephew's wife had her baby two weeks early. Grace Elizabeth was born in Lexington, Kentucky, yesterday at 8:22 am. It was a relatively easy labor and all the family is doing fine. The only downside to arriving early is that their new home is still two weeks away from being finished. Now I really have to drop everything else and concentrate on making a few baby bibs. I found some patterns last night that are designed for these size bibs, so I should be able to finish them this week. I'll get to concentrate on stitching starting on Wednesday when my husband leaves for a week's trip.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The first thing you will notice is that the two side front windows have more than just pillows and wall hangings. They are also known for their exquisite finishing work. Besides pillows and rugs, they can finish all sorts of unusual items such as purses (check their web site for an extensive selection) and chairs.
Notice the small pouf footstool completely covered in needlepoint at the bottom of this window. But, of course, you want to see what is inside.
Like most needlework stores, the space is not large, but it is stocked from floor to ceiling with more canvases, threads, and equipment than I have ever seen in one place before.
This is only one wall of many covered with every kind of Rainbow Gallery thread you have ever heard of. Off in the corner on a tall set of shelves is part of their extensive collection of purses including some messenger bags hanging over the window.
This is the selection of baby and children's themed needlepoint. Besides threads on the wall, there are also several spinner racks of more threads. They also carry their own line of imported needlework silk in hundreds of colors.
So did I buy some exquisite canvases there? Well, no. My stash is quite large right now and though I was tempted by a Baby Sleeping sign with a cow jumping over the moon, I left it there. There will be plenty of things to tempt me the next time I go back there. I did buy several cards of Rainbow Gallery threads in various metallic colors (green, pink, and yellow). Those are the colors for April and May for Project Spectrum. I am already begining to think about projects for the next two months.
My second stop was at Britex Fabrics. If you want exquisite imported wools and silks, this is the place to shop. They also have a good selections of remnants (which is what I buy), sometimes at greatly discounted prices. I got several yards of wonderful shirtweight linen for under $10. I was just disappointed to see that their remnant section was much, much smaller than it had been before they remodeled their store. I also got some magnetic purse closures for the two purses in gray that I am working on for February/March projects for Project Spectrum.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Today’s SBQ is:I am a slow stitcher. I obsessively count and recount and re-recount my stitches. I match patterns up, down, left, right, and sideways. So I rarely have to frog more than a stitch or two. I will more likely have to restitch a stitch because I crossed in the wrong direction than I stitched it in the wrong place. So I use a needle to undo the two or three stitches that might be incorrect. I also stitch a test patch with thread that might be iffy. That said, there is one tree in Silver & Gold that is in the wrong place. I thought long and hard about frogging it all, but in the end it's a piece that I am just not that fond of, so I left the tree where it was (one stitch down too far). It looks OK and I will probably be the only one who looks at it and sees that it is wrong.
Do you use your needle, a seam ripper, or something else when you have to frog stitches? Why do you use the method that you do?
When we talked to my mother-in-law yesterday (we call her after the University of Kentucky basketball team wins a game), she told us that our nephew's wife is going to have her baby one week early. She is now due March 19th. Wow, I better get my needles flying. I have six baby bibs with a piece of Aida cloth sewn at the bottom. I was planning to stitch a few for her for Christmas, but the only handwork I finished for her was the quilted baby blanket. I think I can do one or two simple designs before the baby is born. I can start this coming Monday when I am back in Nevada. It will be interesting to do these. I have never done any stitching that was going to be washed. I might have to do some dreaded knots, just to make sure the whole thing doesn't come apart in the washing machine.
Today was a wonderful day in San Francisco. It's clear, sunny, and not too hot. Walking around the city was a treat. I got to visit a needlework store and a fabric store and bought stuff in both of them. I'll post pictures and my report tomorrow.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
I didn't stitch as much as I thought I would during the plane trip across the Pacific. Instead I watched the inflight movie, Stranger Than Fiction. I dislike watching large screen action movies on a plane -- the screen is too small, there are too many people walking in front of the picture and the sound is always of poor quality. But films that are more about the dialogue, like Stranger Than Fiction, are good on a plane flight. I thought it was a great movie, but then again, I like meta-fiction (and science fiction). I'd like to watch it again from Netflix.
We accomplished all our appointments today, so tonight is stitching and podcasts. Tomorrow, since we are in San Francisco, I am going to visit Britex Fabrics and Needlepoint, Inc. My husband has the car, but I can walk to both of those stores. I don't really need any fabric or canvases, but it doesn't hurt to look, does it?
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Moving from cross stitch to needlepoint, needlepoint always seems easier, because there is only one stitch to take for every square rather than two, but in this case, this is deceiving. Because I was using The Thread Gatherer Silk 'N Colors Millenium Star thread which has quite a lot of color variation, I wanted to place most of the stitches randomly so I wouldn't end up with a "stripy" ocean. Although I tried to randomize the colors as much as possible, there are still patches of color clumped together. In the end, I think the effect is very much like the ocean, so overall I am quite happy with how it turned out.
For the plane journey, I'll go back to the Bent Creek cross stitch design I was working on on the way here. I am finding it a lot of fun, so it might get finished before Winter or the Pineapple Fish. Though I do need to finish Winter before the end of the month for Project Spectrum. I should have a lot of time to work on it in the next two weeks as my husband will be traveling and I will be home with the cats.
Monday, March 5, 2007
I then mark the center of the chart and try to start stitching there. As I stitch each section (or sometimes just a single color), I use a highlighting pen to mark the chart as stitched. I get a great sense of accomplishment seeing the color spread across the chart. And in this case, when I am stitching with white thread, it is great seeing color in any part of this project. If I put a project down and pick it up a long time later, I can see exactly what I have done and what is left to do.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Besides the fraying silk thread, another problem with this project are the edges of the fabric. I have been stitching mostly on linen lately. Because the threads in linen fabric are uneven, I think they ravel less than evenweave. This evenweave is raveling like crazy. I should have secured the edges before I started working on it, but I don't think it will be too difficult to mount later. There is still an inch and a half of fabric before the stitching starts at the top. The edges and bottom have a lot more room. So as long as the top doesn't ravel any more, I should be fine. Because the fabric is so dark, it is impossible to work on without full daylight. It's easier to stitch in front of a window and stitch counting holes than my normal stitch of counting threads. I'll have to keep that in mind for a much larger project I want to start this year that is also on navy evenweave. At least that project is quite colorful, so I won't be quite as bored with it (I hope).
Yesterday was the first day since I started this blog that I didn't stitch even one stitch. We have some friends from Las Vegas visiting Maui and wanted to take them around the island, so we all left the house at 6 am and started on the road to Hana. There are dozens of one lane bridges between Haiku and Hana, but the scenery is spectacular -- tropical jungles, cliffs, and waterfalls. They loved it. We had hoped to take them completely around Haleakula in our four wheel drive Jeep, but the road past the Seven Pools has been closed since October 15, 2006, when Hawaii had a major earthquake on the Big Island. Hana is the closest part of Maui to the Big Island and there were a lot of rock falls along the road in southern Maui. That spot is so isolated that it could be years before the road opens again. So we just drove back through Paia, stopping at Mama's Fish House for a drink and a look at all the tikis and dinner at Hali'imaile General Store, where Beverly Gannon's chefs put on their normal, spectacular efforts once again. The food is delicious!
Friday, March 2, 2007
I found this cross stitch pattern, Winter by Erica Michaels, at The Status Thimble in Burlingame, California. They are mostly a needlepoint store, but they do carry some interesting cross stitch.
It was meant to be a single color pattern, possibly using a variegated thread. I could see that it would look lovely using a dark blue linen with white thread. I previously auditioned several different white threads and ended up deciding on Empress silk. Though as I am working it up, it really doesn't have the shine I had hoped for and it frays rather easily. I like working with my silk thread on Pineapple Fish better than working with this silk. I wanted to use some gray here and the deer seemed like a natural motif for gray. I tried a much darker Rainbow Gallery thread called Wisper. It is probably great in large sections, but for the delicate areas like the legs and antlers, it is entirely too fuzzy. I also brought along a lighter gray, Rainbow Gallery's Designer's Dream, and it really is a dream to work with. It is a tightly spun, very fine, 100% wool. It is stitched with only one thread, but it lays beautifully, doesn't twist, and has a pleasant subtle variation. I am definitely going to use a lot more of this thread in future projects. I might use some of that somewhat difficult DMC Pearlescent Effects for a large central star. I also brought some Rainbow Gallery Petite Nordic Gold (in white) which might work better. I guess you won't see me doing any blackwork or redwork any time soon. I can't stick to one thread for very long.
At the top of this section you can see some elongated Smyrna stitches. They are actually a lot of fun to do. There is another band of them at the bottom of the project. I'm not very interested in large projects with difficult stitches, but an easy specialty stitch here or there is fun.
I've run out of Buzz Out Loud podcasts until I get back to the mainland and my main iTunes computer. So I've moved on to MacBreak Weekly. But enough of tech for a while. It's time for Shondra Rhimes and The Gray's Anatomy podcast.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Do you find yourself stitching faster when you are getting to the endHa, ha, funny question. No, I don't really stitch faster, but I do stitch more. If I think I am close to finishing, I can become obsessed to finish. That means I will skip television, meals, and sleep in order to see the finished design. After such a single minded focus I find I am surprised to be done. I can sit there staring at the finished product and wonder where to take the next stitch.
of a design?
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In other news, I have started Winter for Project Spectrum, which I am sewing on navy evenweave with white silk thread. It's actually a simple pattern, but you do have to keep the silk thread to short lengths because it does fray. I will have to decide if I want to finish it in all white or whether I want to make the deer gray. I have some Wisper, but I wonder if the thread is too dark to show up against the navy. On the other hand a fuzzy deer would be super. Maybe I am incapable of actually doing a one thread pattern. I keep wanting to mix it up.