Monday, April 30, 2007

When is a Finish not a FINISH?

When the stitching is done, but you can't call it an ornament quite yet. This was the ornament for the March Christmas Ornament SAL. I couldn't complete it in March because I was missing some threads. The owner of Hillside Samplings answered my plaintive email immediately and sent me the missing threads right away. I just didn't get around to stitching it until this weekend, the April Christmas Ornament SAL.

I still won't post a picture in the Ornament Blog until it is completely finished (sides stitched and stuffed). I also started another JCS ornament this weekend, but I don't have enough done to show a picture unless you can imagine a tree from only the trunk.

This past week has been a blur. Not only closing up the house in Maui until June, but flying to Nevada, then driving to Oxnard, California, this weekend for a board meeting. The board meeting/retreat was very pleasant, even though the weather there was very foggy. I remember why I was so glad to move from the Coastside (Half Moon Bay and Moss Beach, California) to the sunnier side of the San Francisco peninsula. During the meeting I could sit and stitch with friends working on knitting, cross stitch, and lace and listen to groups of people clacking tiles while playing mahjong. I'm not sure I understand the lace people. All those lace bobbins look very intimidating. And when they make a mistake, the frogging is definitely more difficult than just cutting out a few threads. They have to unwind everything.

I'm still coughing with a runny nose. I'm trying to get as much rest as I can, because Wednesday we fly to San Francisco for meetings through this weekend. I did do some shopping in Thousand Oaks and will post those pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Local Needlework Shop - Maui

No, even though my husband had a shoot yesterday, I didn't get any stitching done. I was still coughing and spending a lot of time in bed. This morning I felt marginally better. Since I am not on The Wagon, I decided to treat myself and visit the local needlework shop, The Needlework Shop, at 505 Front Street in Lahaina. I have been there before and picked up some cross stitch charts of palm trees and ocean, but this time I was looking for something small and compact. Something I could use with some of my thousands of Ebay threads.


I found these three pieces. They are taken from traditional Hawaiian quilting patterns that are done appliqué style with a four fold repeating and centered pattern appliquéd in plain fabric to a white background. In larger bed sized quilts these can be very large and very detailed. I am thinking about making this a Project Spectrum design by stitching the orange as yellow and the red as pink. But then again I do like the colors the way they are.

This a Torch Ginger which is a large plant with a brilliant red head. I might do the "flower" portion in red, but I also saw this as a sample in the shop stitched all in purple on white. It was also gorgeous. This may be a candidate for a single variable thread.



This is the smallest design of them all, but I do like pineapples, so it might be the one I work on first.















Since it would be hard to be a single specialty store in such a small community, this store carries much more than just needlepoint. They also have cross stitch, both original patterns and patterns that would remind visitors of Hawaii, such as shells and waves and dolphins. They carry some sewing supplies and some yarns, mostly for ornamental scarves, since sweaters are never necessary here. But they are probably best known for their classes in Hawaiian quilting. They have already cut out pillow kits to use in their hands on classes or to take back and try on the mainland. And for purchases over a certain amount you can choose from their many small shell needle cases as a lagniappe.

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I know some of you envy our house on Maui, but in the end it is just a house, needing just as much maintenance as a house on the mainland with many less resources to call on. On Friday our stove stopped working. Broken? Hardly. No, we had run out of propane. We had had a propane tank in California and the company regularly came by and checked it, filling it up when needed. Not so here. Here they are charging us a monthly fee for renting the tank, but don't fill it up unless you call and tell them to. My husband spent a long time even trying to decipher the gauge. And knowing service people here (it took over four months to get our land line phone service and we still don't have television service here after over a year), we might not get any propane before we leave on Wednesday. That leaves cooking on the outside grill or microwave. Or going out to eat.

Every day here is scheduled with myriad projects to take care of. My being sick has cost us several months of work, since we can't be back here again until June and that will be very quick trip. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with the number of things that need to be done between now and September.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

SBQ: The Wagon

This week’s SBQ as suggested by Danielle:

Are you on “The Wagon?” If so, how long have you been on and how “serious” are you about it? If not, have you considered it?

No. I am not on "The Wagon", but I do slow down from time to time. I used to have quite an Ebay addiction for thread, but it's been months since I have even bid on anything on Ebay. I tell myself I have enough fabric until the next millenium, but if I get a notion for a sewing project, I will probably buy new fabric (and a new pattern) rather than dragging out any of my old projects. I tell myself that I don't need any new patterns, but I will buy them if I see one that I simply must have. For Project Spectrum I have bought a pattern and used threads and linen from my stash for Winter and started a kit from my stash for Flower Fairy. As long as I keep organizing my stash and checking it for projects first, before running out and buying a new project, I will keep off The Wagon.

On a personal note, I don't remember much of the last two days. My cough got a lot worse and kept me up most of the past two nights. I slept as much as I could, but rarely for more than an hour at a stretch. I thought I might get some stitching done, but no. I really can't concentrate enough to follow a pattern or keep from sticking myself with a needle. This afternoon was a little better, so hopefully I will get some stitching done during my husband's photo shoot. And maybe by Saturday I can actually leave the house again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Send More Sheep!

Here is The World's Cutest Squirrel FINISHED. (It's only 8:30 p.m. here in Maui.) I didn't actually work on this on the plane yesterday. I was too tired and cranky. But my husband was on a photo shoot most of the day, so I had plenty of time to work on it today. I also ran out of Buzz Out Loud episodes on my iPod, so I just took everything to the computer room and stitched there. It's not the most comfortable place to stitch, but this way I could stream the episodes from last week and listen to them all. It feels a bit odd to be completely caught up. I've been listening to most of these daily broadcasts one or two weeks after they have been posted.

It was still a lot of fun stitching this pattern. Bent Creek patterns always make me smile. It's been so long since I worked on it, it almost felt like a UFO. I loved the colors, too. The oddest thing about stitching this was changing from the 32 count evenweave of Flower Fairy to this 25 count linen. All the holes looked as big as open manholes. It was easy to count and easy to put in four stitches in each hole. There are several other kits with this Sheep Theme and I want to do a couple more of them.

I'm not sure what I will work on next. I brought the Pineapple Fish needlework, the Flower Fairy, and the Hillside Samplings Ornament. I probably should work on the Flower Fairy if I hope to finish it by the end of May. It's not a large pattern, but it is quite intricate. I need to pay close attention to where I stitch what. I probably won't stitch tomorrow, as we have a lot of projects we need to work on. But my husband has another photo shoot on Friday, so I get another day of stitching.

A friend of us once asked us, "If you travel so much, how do you keep from catching all the viruses going around?" And the answer is, "We don't." I've been a little under the weather since Sunday, but today I know I am sick -- sore throat, muscles sore, and headaches. We tell ourselves if Bird Flu ever hits, we will be protected from it after having survived all these minor variations of viruses.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pardon the Interruption

Well, I knew I wouldn't get much stitching done this week. Monday and Tuesday were both spent mainly getting the Nevada house ready for the cat sitter and making sure we had packed everything for San Francisco and Maui. Wednesday we flew to San Francisco and had a marvelous dinner at The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. Thursday was a meeting of museum directors that I managed some stitching during since I am not a director, though my husband is. We also went to our accountants and signed and sent our taxes.

Friday was a working day. Four of us spent until two in the morning checking our lists, updating the database and finally inviting by email 302 people to participate at a convention in July. We are already getting responses. Yah! Saturday was the general committee meeting for the convention. I did manage to get some stitching done there.

Tomorrow we head to Maui. Although there is a lot of work to do there, my husband has three photo shoots in ten days, which leaves me home without a car. Perfect for stitching!

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Although I do like to stitch and to take pictures of stitching projects and write about stitching, I have to admit that this blog was only meant as a practice run for the blog I really want to do -- building our next house. When we moved to Nevada from the San Francisco Bay Area one of the things I was looking forward to was building a house from beginning to end. We have bought two houses that were framed and had them finished to our specifications. We have built a loft in San Francisco from an empty concrete space to an award winning project and have remodeled a 1930's house from roof to foundation (including a completely new staircase and a professional darkroom). We also worked with an architect to build a house in Honolulu that failed to get the required building permits (it was way too avant guard for the Department of Permits). But by the time we get to building that dream house in Nevada, I will have come very late to the house building blogosphere. Both www.homeandtell.com and houseblogs.net are linking sites to dozens of house building sites from home made to professional. Someday when we have finished landscaping our current project in Maui and selling the two houses we own there (one new and one with a remodeled kitchen and bath), we will start the final house in Nevada. Although buying a new cross stitch pattern is wonderful, so is picking out some fabulous tile and seeing it in a stunning bathroom. I guess I like good design no matter how it is expressed.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Green Grow the Lilies, Oh!

I've made a lot of progress on the leaves. It's still fun to stitch as the picture comes into focus, but I have to say, there were a few scary moments. I know the whites and creams are pretty close in color, but I wasn't quite prepared for the closeness of some of the light greens. When I put the first stitch of DMC 3819 next to DMC 166, I thought that possibly I had stitched all the of 166 that I had done with 3819 instead. They were that close! But as I kept stitching I could see that 3819 was lighter and more yellow. In the picture they look quite distinct. I have managed to keep count and haven't frogged more than a stitch or two. I still wouldn't recommend this pattern to anyone who is stitching in less than ideal conditions of light and space.

Here is the top half of the enlarged chart. I'd guess I'm about 15% done and that is probably all I will get done this week in stitching. Today we are cleaning up in preparation for an extended trip starting Wednesday. I might get some stitching done on Thursday or Sunday, but we have meetings in San Francisco Thursday during the day and all day Friday and Saturday. We also have only a dial up connection in San Francisco, so loading up lots of pictures is less than optimal.

Although I did listen to a few podcasts working on this, mostly I "watched" baseball. The Oakland As were playing in Anaheim and FSN was broadcasting most of the games. We got a split of the four games there, which is not too bad for starting out on the road. Tonight is the home opener in Oakland, but we will still be in Nevada. We thought about getting tickets to a game while we were in San Francisco, but our schedule didn't leave us any free time. On Monday we leave for Maui to check on the progress of the landscaping. I hope everyone has a good week stitching.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

How Does Your Stash Grow?

Can you walk out of a needlework store (or online shop) with just one thing? I can't. I wanted to order this stitch guide for the Melissa Shirley 18 count needlepoint series called Halloween Town and found a copy online at Needlenook of La Jolla. They are quite clever small needlepoint projects that I could actually take with me. I've seen most of them stitched (and made up into standups with navy velvet backs and sides) at The Status Thimble in Burlingame, California. Since I like all things Halloween (and many Melissa Shirley patterns), I bought most of them there and found a few missing ones on the internet. But I have been too caught up in other projects to start them. I thought if I got this stitch guide, I would be prodded to start one of them.

So I looked around at other things in this online shop and found this canvas at a very reduced price. I loved the island flavor of it and thought it would look great in Hawaii. But now I have this canvas, but NOT the stitch guide. I don't know if the store ran out, will send it later, or just never saw this part of the order. And this canvas is huge. I would probably use a lot of long stitches to cover this quickly, but I can tell that I won't be traveling with this piece! So one more item to put in my stash.

I am also quite fond of French cross stitch. On another blog today I found a link to the designs of Madame la Fée, especially "La Potion Magique", another Halloween-like chart. And while there I just had to order another chart featuring red, one of the colors for Project Spectrum in June and July.

From time to time I resist the siren call of more stash, but like my fabric collection, no matter how long I resist, eventually I will buy something. At least this time I am stitching frequently enough that I can say that some of my stash will actually be stitched in this year!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Low Tech and High Tech

Making bread from scratch and baking it in a wood fired oven, quilting by hand, gardening, and doing needlecraft are some of the most low technology activities that people take pleasure in. Yes, we may buy patterns and threads and linen from a website. We may even collect free online patterns and save them to a hard disk. But the actual stitching is between you, the needle, the thread, and the fabric. Which is why I find it strange that I really enjoy listening to cutting edge technology podcasts like Buzz Out Loud and This Week in Technology (affectionately known as TWiT) while stitching. I spent a dozen years in the Silicon Valley salt mines and even after I retired I was surrounded by highly intelligent, completely wired geeks. Since we moved to Nevada, although I am sure that there are tech geeks here (they do show up on Twittermap), I don't know any of them personally. So I get my technology fix remotely and try out the newest of the new Web 2.0 programs that they recommend. How many of us also now have friends all over the globe that we have never met in person?

I've started my first April/May cross stitch for Project Spectrum. The colors for April and May are green, yellow, and pink and all of them will be represented in the final picture. The pattern is Lily of Valley Flower Fairy, very appropriate for stitching that will probably be finished in May. Although many of the colors are similarly pale, I am starting out easy with the darkest colors first. I have to say I love stitching this pattern. First I changed out the boring ecru Aida for a pale pink/lavender hand dyed Solo fabric from Silkweaver. I really like stitching on this 32 count fabric. It is thick enough to firmly stay in the Q-snap frame. Two threads over two completely cover each stitched square. And best of all, although stitching the small motifs in Random Thoughts of Winter can give you a sense of accomplishment, I really like this kind of thread painting. I know the finished product will look like a water color. The only drawback is that is inappropriate for stitching on an airplane. This is way too much counting and too many color changes to be simple enough to stitch in a cramped plane seat. I can probably finish up the Fall Ewe on the next couple of plane flights.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Heather and is:

How do you decide which stitching blogs are worth repeat and/or regular viewings? Are there certain things you look for in particular? Are there things you wish there were more of? Less of? Is your blog a good example of what you like to read?

I spend much of my day at the computer. I like stitching blogs that post frequently and have interesting writing. I started with a list of blogs on my blog and checked frequently, but some of these blogs haven't had a post in quite some while. Now I have a Google Reader RSS feed, so I can see new posts as soon as they occur. I do read every reply to SBQ, which is how I found some of the blogs that I now read regularly. I have to say I am fond of people who comment on my blog, but that isn't a necessary criteria. I like lots of pictures (show me your WIP, your threads, the view out your window), but I don't mind a few posts where necessary ranting occurs. The blog doesn't necessarily have to be about stitching as long as it is "thread-y" in some form; cross stitch, needlepoint, sewing, or quilting. It doesn't even have to be about stitching I favor. I love to look at different patterns, even though I am not drawn to country or sampler stitching.

All that said, I think that my blog is a lot like blogs that I like. I always have at least one picture (expect for these SBQ responses). I post a lot of WIP. I try to focus on stitching. My random comments come at the end of the post and can be skipped. And I hope that my writing style is clear and compelling.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

What Color IS It?

Most times you open a kit and look at the threads -- mmm, black, white, red, dark blue, light blue, olive green, spring green. You can separate the colors without too much trouble. Then you come to a kit like this. There are two shades of white here (White and 3865 -- Off White or Winter White). There is Light Beige (3866) and Light Flesh Pink (3770). There is Cream (746) and Light Gold (677). I do have a very good color eye and color memory, but the only way I could even begin to separate these threads was to pull out my bags of DMC floss and do a color match under my Ott-Light. Even then the two whites were pretty much a toss up. I think I have them right, but really? I'm not sure. Then there is the question of Very Dark Green (580). The thread they have in the kit is not the same thread as I have labeled 580 and it is not quite the same color family as the Dark Green (581) in the kit, which matches the 581 floss I have. Change it out or keep it?

What I am sure of is that this stitching won't look like much until I start the extensive backstitching in Dark Brown (839). With such a close color match on most of the cross stitch (and half stitch), it will need the back stitching to differentiate the color fields. I'll start stitching and then we will see.

Monday, April 2, 2007

What's Next?

So, it's April. Good bye to white, blue, and gray and hello to green, yellow, and pink. These are the colors for Project Spectrum in the months of April and May. These seem to be popular colors as the number of photos on the site seem to have exploded. For me? Not so much. In looking over my stash I found enough projects in orange (I like Halloween) to fund a year of stitching. But spring? Let's just say there is nothing yellow in my wardrobe and pink and green only when they both have a lot of blue in them. I did pick up these threads at Needlepoint Inc. to give me some inspiration.

Mostly I think I will be stitching a lot of pineapples (green and yellow). Because we live in Hawaii part time, I do have a number of charts and kits with this motif. I almost stitched a pineapple on one of the baby bibs. Apparently the baby bibs were not a big hit. I've heard nothing about them since I sent them. That's really too bad because I do have some pink knit and pink/green flannel fabrics that I was going to make up into baby clothes, but perhaps I won't bother.

I have just this week to plan out my stitching for the next two months. Next Wednesday we leave Nevada for San Francisco, our first stop on a lot of travel that will take up the next six months. We probably won't spend two weeks straight anywhere again until September. I also found a cute Flower Fairy kit to start on. I just had to change out the boring Aida off white fabric for something better. I settled on a Silkweaver Solo hand dyed 32 count linen. It has some pink in it, but it's subtle. I think it will look great with the pattern I will be stitching.

In good news, I received my replacement thread for my Christmas Ornament from Hillside Samplings. Not only did she include 36" of the variegated green that I needed, but she included lots more variegated green/purple that is used on the borders. I love that thread. I probably won't get back to that though for a while. I cannibalized my 6" x 6" and my 11" x 11" Q-snaps frames to make an 6" x 11" inch frame for the Flower Fairy (stitching area, 5" x 7").

The Oakland A's (we had season tickets to watch their games for 12 years) lost their season opener against the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, go Florida Gators. Even though I attended Ohio State (Extension night classes for a year) and am a Kentucky Wildcat fan all the way, I always root for the SEC team if Kentucky isn't playing. Besides it helps in my NCAA pool. Off to watch basketball.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Winter FINISHED.

Yes. It is is finished (or at least completely stitched). It still needs to be blocked and framed. The pattern shows this made into a pillow, but I'd rather frame it.

The pattern is Random Thoughts of Winter by Erica Michaels. I bought it at The Status Thimble in Burlingame, California, specifically to use for Project Spectrum. Although the original design calls for 32 count linen with a single variegated thread (Weeks Dye Works Seaweed), I made some changes to the threads and the motifs. Since the colors for Project Spectrum for February and March were blue, white, and gray, I wanted to choose a pattern that would make sense using these colors. I thought this pattern would look good with a reversal of the color fields. So I used the darkest blue fabric that I had, a Navy 28 count Jobelan. This did make the pattern slightly bigger than the sample stitched on 32 count linen. For the white thread I used Empress Silk in white. To add gray, I finished the reindeer in Rainbow Gallery Designer's Dream in color D44. I also wanted a sparkly large snowflake and used Nordic Gold, ND4 (transparent and reflective) for the center motif. I really liked stitching with the Designer's Dream and I hope to use it again. The Nordic Gold was fun, but it shouldn't be used with close set blocks of stitching since it is very uneven and lumpy. I also added two Mill Hill beads in the centers of the medium sized snowflakes. If I stitched this again, I would add a lot more beads.

The last change I made was the word "santa". Originally this was the word "peace". I could use the pattern of the As from "peace" and "fa la la", but I had to design a compatible S, N, and T. The T was the easiest letter since I could just put a bar on the L. I'm not quite happy with the N, but I think the S turned out fine.

Overall, I am glad how this project turned out. I had hoped to finish three other items for Project Spectrum, but lots of my time was taken up with finishing the baby bibs. I might try to finish one more blue/white/gray Project Spectrum item in April, but I will have to find some projects using green, pink, and yellow. Those are the Project Spectrum colors for April and May. I'm not particularly inspired by the new colors, but I did get some Rainbow Gallery threads in those colors from Needlepoint, Inc. Now I just need to find a compatible pattern.