Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wrapping up 2008

Well, this did take a little bit longer than I thought it would (doesn't everything?), but I did finish it today. I have no idea when it will get framed.

Here is the list of projects that I finished stitching in 2008.

  1. Boo Betty Sheep, Bent Creek finished January 1.
  2. Smitten Ewe, Bent Creek finished January 21.
  3. Happy Holidays, Lizzie*Kate, JCS 2006 finished March 23.
  4. Winter’s Eve, Country Cottage Needleworks, JCS 2006 finished March 25.
  5. Quaker Flower Sampler, Anne les Petites Croix finished April 14.
  6. Warm Water Wash, Raise the Roof finished April 21.
  7. Christmas Joy, Angel Stitchin, JCS 2006 finished May 4.
  8. Summer Ewe, Bent Creek finished May 31.
  9. Tiny Treasured Diamonds, Engraved Heart, Mill Hill finished July 27.
  10. Bad Hare Day, Bent Creek finished August 15.
  11. Free Sheep, Bent Creek finished October 23.
  12. Summer Wool, Kit & Bixby finished November 26.
  13. Six Plastic Ornaments, Dimensions finished December 24.
  14. Autumn Alphabet, Heart in Hand finished December 31.
Although I worked on several medium or large projects, the only medium project I finished was Warm Water Wash. I should have several larger projects finished next year. I had no idea that I had done so many Bent Creek Patterns, but most of them were Zippy kits of their seasonal sheep. I own only one more (St. Patty's Day Sheep), but there are a couple more I would buy if I could find them.

I was not as successful on predicting my 2008 Goals, but they did help to keep me focused. Otherwise I could have had even more WiPs/UFOs.
  1. Start Hawaiian Mandala and finish at least 8 of the 12 parts.
    I finished one and a half parts. More disturbing is that Martine took down the entire site before I could download parts 10, 11, and 12. She said she would email the pdfs to you if you emailed her in the next three months. I emailed her about the missing parts two weeks ago and have heard nothing from her. I am starting to get worried. I would be appalled to have spent so much on fabric and beads and threads and not be able to finish this project. I had no idea that she regularly removed the classes the moment the last part was posted.
  2. Finish another Michael Powell piece.
    I tried. I'm more than half way through Cottage Garden I. It's pretty slow going since the pattern does not match (and is quite inferior to) the model on the cover.
  3. Finish Hillside Samplings Topiary IV. DONE!
  4. Finish the plastic canvas Christmas ornaments. DONE! Amazingly, but true.
  5. One exchange or RR piece.
    I think our schedule is too hectic to be a good exchange contributor.
  6. Start and finish Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket.
    Started and about 1/6th finished.
  7. Finish two ornaments from my collection of JCS ornament magazines. DONE!
  8. Stitch something for my Surprise Birthday partner. DONE!
  9. Here's where we go off the stitching reservation. I have ten times as much fabric as I do cross stitch kits and patterns. I need to use some of this stash up now. So I propose the following sewing projects:
    One apron for my mother-in-law.
    One purse from my collection of bag patterns.
    One piece of clothing for me.
    Make something with the pig cloth I collected for my sister-in-law.
    Make something with the cow cloth I collected for my niece.
    Sigh. I wish I had done a lot more sewing, but I simply don't have a place that I can keep my sewing machine and cutting table permanently installed. I did sew 9/10th of an Hawaiian shirt for my husband's birthday while he was traveling, but even that is not finished. I will sew more in 2009.
Extra credit:
  1. Finish Flower Fairy. I did work on her a bit more.
  2. Finish Warm Water Wash. DONE!
  3. Finish French Noel. Not even touched.
Although I didn't finish many of my 2008 Goals, I think I am well on my way to having several large finishes in 2009. I hope you all are excited about the coming new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For Kate

Kate from Perth wonders how I can stitch on an airplane. All I can say is that with six flights in the last week, I am glad that I have stitching to distract me. Most of the cross stitch stitched on this piece since the last picture was done on airplanes. It's a little too tricky to do backstitching when you only have 15 inches to spread out in, so all of that was done yesterday. The center part of the pattern is completely crossed, but there are still flowers on the border that need to be stitched.

However, it will be impossible to finish it this year. As much as the doctor said the baby was due "any minute now" two weeks ago, he still hasn't arrived. Even if I finished all the cross stitching and backstitching, I still have the name and date to stitch to completely finish the project. Like the baby, this will have to wait until 2009. With that in mind, I have decided to go back to Heart in Hand's Autumn Alphabet. I should be able to finish that by tomorrow. One more finish this year would be much appreciated since I accomplished only half of my goals. I am also not much of a pastel person or much into cute. The colors in the baby announcement are ones that I would be happy to skip for a couple of months.

Tomorrow I will post how close I came to my 2008 Goals. On Thursday I will post my 2009 Goals and start Cross Eyed Cricket's Three Gables that I have had kitted up for years. We have no specific plans for New Year's Eve, though we have chilled a bottle of champagne. We could go on the roof and watch the Las Vegas Strip fireworks or we could stay inside (and stay warm) and watch the fireworks on television.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the Web Things Last Forever

Well, here we are un- expectedly in Florida with only winter clothes. As long as I crank up the air conditioning in the car, I am fine. I can't get over how flat everything is, but I have to say that the Spanish moss in the trees is quite beautiful. This is an infrared picture taken by my husband.

While I am here, I thought I could get in another installment of LNS's. But it was not to be. Although the internet (and Charles Craft) thinks that Roman Tales is still at 121 N. Kings Avenue, Brandon, Florida, there is nothing there but an empty storefront there. Just Stitchin' -- Across America thinks that Cross Stitch Cottage is still at 1307 N. Kingsway in Brandon, but there is a barber shop there now. So I can only gift you with some beautiful pictures taken by my husband instead of information on local needlework shops. But how did we get to Florida?

On Christmas Eve morning I got a phone call from my father claiming that my mother was dying and that I should come to Sun City Center, Florida, immediately. That is about all that he said before he hung up. I haven't seen either of my parents in over 20 years, as my father does not want anything to do with his two daughters and will not even let us in the house. My mother goes along with his wishes. My only contact with her has been sending her gifts for her birthday, Mother's Day, and Christmas. She does not call (she claims that my father refuses to let her call long distance) or write (she has no money for stamps). We are not close. But if a parent is ill, you go. So we spent all of Christmas Eve trying to find flights (and could only find expensive ones), rental cars and hotel rooms for Christmas Day. Needless to say this completely disrupted my in-laws' plans. Christmas is my dearest mother-in-law's favorite day. She hadn't seen us for over a year and here we were leaving before she barely got a chance to visit with us.

We got up and left before 8 am Christmas morning, took a plane from Lexington to Charlotte, then on to Tampa. Our bags arrived successfully, the rental car and hotel room were ready, so we headed down to the nursing home where my mother was getting rehabilitation. Yes, she had had a stroke and could not stand up. But her speech was not slurred, her arm strength was normal, and she seemed completely alert. There certainly was no crisis. She had been in the hospital since October 3rd and had had this stroke some weeks before. According to her nurses her rehabilitation is proceeding normally. This was the first time we had been summoned. My sister also came down from North Carolina, but I never saw her or my father. I tried to let my mother know that she had disrupted my husband's family's Christmas plans, but she didn't seem to think there way anything special about Christmas. She was just glad to see me. I did point out that if she had really wanted to see me that she had had the previous twenty years to invite me to visit. I guess since she would not invite me into her home, then the only way she could see me was in a hospital. I don't know what she expected, but there can hardly be a deathbed reconciliation when the person in the bed isn't dying and the person summoned no longer has any relationship with the family member. We head back to Nevada early tomorrow morning.

At least we got today to visit some botanical gardens and a nature preserve. This is another infrared picture taken by my husband. I simply love these picture. I think the palm trees look especially feathery. We have a three hour and a four hour flight tomorrow, so I hope to have most of the baby announcement done. I will post how far I have gotten on Monday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Longstanding WiPs Completed

It's always good to complete a long standing goal. And these plastic ornaments were some of my longest WiPs.

Not only are these ornaments complete, but they have been given to their intended recipients. I was sorry to see the cat go, as this was my favorite one.

The cow might have been the best received, since my niece is crazy about cows and collects them in any format she can find them. I don't think she has one like this.

These next two pictures seem a bit washed out, but the colors are just as vibrant in person as the rest of the ornaments. This one was given to my brother-in-law who traditionally hands out the presents at Christmas.

The angel went to my very pregnant nephew's wife (who will also get the baby boy birth announcement as soon as the baby is born). She loves the quilt and the two bibs I made for their first child, so I promised to make her more bibs for this one.

These were handed out on Christmas Eve because my father called me and demanded that I head to Tampa, Florida immediately. Christmas is my mother-in-law's favorite day of the year and she was so much looking forward to have us home for the holidays. We were there for only a few days and left Christmas morning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Moving Along

OK, it's not finished, but it is moving along. I have the child stitched and have started on the bear and the duck. There is still a border of flowers and more of the bed and blanket to stitch, but I might actually get this done by the time the baby is born.

I put all the threads in separate plastic bags, so I think I can work on this on the airplane. We leave in a couple of hours for Lexington, Kentucky. The house is tidy enough, the cats are provisioned for the cat sitter, and the bags are packed. I'll get dressed after I finish this post.

I hope all of you are spending time with friends and family and that your holidays are joyful no matter how you celebrate them.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Can Tell That I Am a Gemini, Can't You?

I was coming right along with this kit (which is called Autumn Alphabet and not Autumn Sampler), when I decided to go to Michael's to buy some felt to cover the back of the stitching on the plastic ornaments. I also bought some scissors specifically to cut the plastic so that I wouldn't ruin any of my sewing or stitching scissors. I just happened to wander down the kit aisle and saw that an entire wall of kits was on Clearance. Now I am not a big Dimensions kit buyer, but when something is on sale, it does become tempting.

Then I thought about my nephew's new baby which is literally due any day now and decided that I could probably finish a small birth announcement this weekend. (Nothing like overachieving, is there?) So I picked up this Sunset kit, The Gift of Love, and started on it last night. There isn't that much to stitch, but oh, there is a lot of backstitching. I probably have doubled the amount of stitching shown in this picture, but there is still a lot to go. Do I dare try to stitch this on our flights on Monday? I suppose I could work on it in Kentucky, but the lighting in my mother-in-law's house is dim to none. Well, we will see how far we get.

I have cut out and put together two of the six plastic ornaments. That first cut was hard. I was sure I would cut too far into the stitching. But actually the plastic is pretty soft (and the scissors are new). I should have pictures of all six of the ornaments tomorrow. They have to be done before we leave. Back to stitching. I can tell that I haven't been stitching enough because I am listening to podcasts recorded back around Thanksgiving. Well, after the Stitch-A-Thon this weekend, I might be all the way caught up to podcasts recorded this week! I hope everyone is having a terrific holiday weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Once I sat down and decided to finish the last plastic ornament, it only took a little over an hour. It feels very strange to have finished these (after only ten years). Now, of course, comes the slightly harder part, cutting them out, backing them with felt and wiring them together. Since we leave for back east very early Monday morning, I have three days to get that accomplished. At least I know my in-laws love ornaments and will really appreciate these. I don't know if I will tell them that I have been working on them for ten years!

I was so excited to have the last one finished, that I immediately started on a new pattern. This is a kit from Heart in Hand (Autumn Sampler) that I have had ironed and in tiny Q-snaps for a while. Instead of trying to finish a 2008 Goal, I decided that another new start (and quick finish) would be just what I need right now. I really like working with the WDW and GAST threads, though the linen is a bit coarse. Samplers are so satisfying as each letter is a mini-Happy Dance.

This week has been very strange. On Tuesday we spent most of the day looking at houses (not to buy, just to check out designs). We wanted another look at the lot we are going to buy, but when we went to start the car again, it had been taken over by aliens. The car would not start, but the dash lights flashed and the DVD player came on, even without the keys in the ignition! It was pretty hard to tell AAA exactly where we were (on an unmarked street in the middle of an unfinished development), but luckily they found us before it got too dark. This wouldn't have been too bad if we had just needed a jump, but when we stopped again to pick up a picture for my mother-in-law that we had gotten framed, the car again seemed possessed. Now it was dark and getting colder, but at least we were safely in a parking lot where AAA could find us. Once we got another jump start, we immediately headed over to the dealership, where they gave us a rental car (a Ford F150 truck -- that thing was a monster!) and told us the battery would be replaced by the next day.

And on Wednesday the snow storm of 2008 hit with a vengeance. We had gotten an inch or two of snow in 2003, but it barely lasted four hours. This storm was focused on our community and dumped over 8 inches of snow. We barely could make it up the one foot rise of our driveway. Once we did, we stayed put.

These pictures make it look very pretty, but even today, the snow is still hanging around and has damaged some of our trees that are not used to extra weight. I am grateful that we had plenty of food and never lost power. I am also grateful that this is a once every five year event and that we don't have to face ice and snow every year. I am just bundled up and working on my stitching.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I mentioned that I was glad to find this Kit & Bixby pattern that goes with the seasons Wool patterns. I already had Haunted Wool. Now I have Patriot Wool and Lucky Wool. But as much as I like the idea of this pattern, there are a lot details in this pattern that I do not like. I don't like the sheep's asymmetrical face or where the colored cross is (it should be one square farther over to the right) or where the path is or the pattern on the stars or even the bright colors on the house (I'll change them to more "Colonial" colors). All of these thoughts made me realize that a lot of stitching bloggers that I read are making changes in colors and patterns in a lot of the things that they stitch. Is this one step closer to designing patterns of our own or just the normal decisions that many stitchers make to blend the patterns that we buy into ones that fit our tastes better? How much of a pattern can you change and still find it worth it to buy a pattern?

I guess I am thinking about stitching, because I have not had a lot of time to actually stitch. Last week I had to completely clean up my stitching area in the living room and tuck everything away for the cleaners. Then we had a CookieFest (a group of people who came over to our house and baked cookies) on Thursday night and the Las Vegas Fandom Holiday Party and Alien Gift Exchange (I got a Tribble!) on Saturday with the cookies for dessert. We spent yesterday cleaning all the dishes and today and tomorrow are dedicated to The Big Project.

I talked about my restlessness now that the convention that we were planning for four years is completed (including the balancing of all the accounts). I was looking for another Big Project and have found it in what I really love to do -- design and build houses. Yes, we moved here five years ago with the idea that this house was only temporary and that we would build The House in a year or two. Well, the time is now. I won't be mentioning much about it here in this blog, but I have started another blog, Adventures in Surreal Estate, to talk about our decisions and progress. We have spent a month looking for land here in Clark County and have picked out a piece of property with a spectacular view. This afternoon and tomorrow we will start interviewing contractors and architects and get this project started. We have a good idea of the functional areas we want in the house. Now to find out if we can put this all together.

Friday, December 12, 2008

LNS: Columbus, Ohio

When I travel, I like to visit the Local Needlework Shops, if there are any. Before I left for Columbus, Ohio, I found some good reviews for Cross My Heart, about six miles north of the downtown area. Since I was going to a pretty low key convention, it would be easy to go out Saturday afternoon and do some stash enhancement. It was a good thing that that I had all afternoon free and it was a good thing that my husband decided to drive (although looking at needlework and fabric stores is not on his list of priorities at all). Although Friday was cold, the streets were clear. On Saturday it started to snow and the roads, even the main freeways, were treacherously icy. We were in a tiny rental car that acted like a hockey puck. Although it has been decades since we had to regularly drive on ice, my husband was up to the challenge. All I had to do was hold tightly to the door handle and try not to whimper too much. It was a scary 45 minutes to get to the store.

But once there I was really glad that I came. This store is chock full of wonderful patterns and more models than I have seen in any other store. There are a ton of the most beautiful Miribilia mermaids and fairies, several of the new Nora Corbett alphabet blocks and Christmas, Christmas, Christmas everywhere you look. I told my husband that I would only be a half an hour, but of course I did take longer than that. I picked up two Lizzie*Kate Snippets (Santa's Got the Goods and Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle) and Bent Creek's The Holly Berry Sampler (just because the model was so pretty). I also had to have Raise the Roof's Closet UFO's (I mean, rockets AND WiPs? Oh, and a sheep? Was it made for me?) But my favorite discoveries were two Kit & Bixby Sheep patterns that I did not have; Patriot Wool and Lucky Wool. If you live close by you are truly lucky because there is also a comfortable back room for group stitching. If you ever travel to Columbus, be make a detour to Cross My Heart. It's well worth it.

And if you are a cook, there is a Penzey's spice shop right next door! I have ordered from their online store for years, but this is the first time I have seen a brick and mortar one. I have to say I went a little wild in there, too. But at least the salt-free mixes are presents for my mother-in-law.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I was GOOD!

Though obviously the pull to start something new is strong in many of us stitchers, I resisted it this time and took my last two plastic ornaments to Columbus, Ohio. I dived right in to the outline stitching on the first plane to Chicago and finished it up right then and there. Later in Columbus, I worked on the lettering and the french knots. I was congratulating myself on how well they were turning out, when, of course, one of them went all crossways and lumpy. OK, I have eighteen good french knots in the wreath and one lumpy one. But the ornament, after more than ten years, is completely stitched. Yeah, me! That is five done and one to go.

And on the return leg from Chicago to Las Vegas I got most of this outline stitching done. Even though I was sitting in a middle seat! There is still some lettering, the face, and some interior outlining to go here, but I should be finished this week. Probably. Today and tomorrow are clean up and pack up days. The real cleaners come on Wednesday. Then we need to decorate and buy supplies for the CookieFest on Thursday. Friday is another shopping day for the Holiday Party on Saturday. Maybe when that is over I can think about actual Christmas shopping! We leave for my mother-in-laws in Kentucky on the 22nd, so we won't have as much time to shop there as usual.

Why Cutting Edge Technology Makes You Bleed

I admit it. I am addicted to gadgets. The newer, the shinier, the better. I have one of the first iPhones. I also have an iPod and more kitchen gadgets than I can remember. But one of my favorite gadgets has always been my Panasonic Lumix LX1 camera. I got it several years ago when it first came out. My husband has one of those huge top-of-line Canon cameras with so many buttons, he couldn't remember how to turn the LCD screen on. I want something so small that I WILL carry it on my purse and use it. But Panasonic came out with a new Lumix LX3. And it is getting spectacular reviews in the photo press. So after much backing and forthing, I ordered one, with a new SDHC (High Capacity) 8Gb flash card. I took it to Ohio and started taking pictures. Uh, oh. My tiny portable card reader doesn't recognized my new SDHC card. Oops. Order a new card reader that will be here on Wednesday. When I came home, I tried my big multi-card reader. It doesn't like the new card either. OK, take the old 2 Gb plain SD card from my old camera and use it in the new camera. Ah, more problems. I like shooting in RAW format (not compressed like JPG). And Photoshop/Browse CS3 doesn't recognize the new Panasonic RW2 (RAW 2) format. I thought Adobe had fixed that. And they have. In CS4. Well, we needed to upgrade our Adobe software. But that means you can't see the pictures of the lovely LNS I found in Columbus until I can read the card they are on and get Photoshop CS4 to understand the RW2 files. I am just glad that I didn't give away my old camera yet, so I could take pictures of the plastic ornaments.

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Rocket

Although I knew that stitching on this project over Thanksgiving weekend would not help me finish any of my 2008 Goals, this was the perfect project to bring to a science fiction convention. (Even if I did have to stop every couple of minutes to show it off.) The admiring comments were worth trying to balance this somewhat large piece in my lap. I did just a little more cross stitch than last time, but I also started on the backstitching on level two. The backstitching is pretty fiddly, but it really makes sense of the odd bits of color here and there. I should be working on my plastic Christmas ornaments, but I will probably keep stitching on this for the next three days.

Then on Thursday we leave for Chicago and a dinner at our favorite restaurant, Alinea. On Friday we will fly to Columbus, Ohio, for another convention, but will be back on Sunday again. Just in time to get the house decorated for the CookieFest and the Holiday Party. I haven't decided what to take for my airplane stitching. I'm wondering about starting Winter Wool to match the Summer Wool I just started. Or I could start the last Bent Creek sheep that I have, Blarney. But is it too odd to stitch on a St. Patrick's Day sheep just before Christmas? Most of my other projects are on 32 count fabric and that is just too small of a count to stitch well on a plane. Well, I do have a few days to decide.

The convention we went to was fabulous! I really liked my panels and James won an art award. We also spent hours and hours talking with old friends, including Ruth, who is almost finished with her Revolutionary War drummer ornament. I even shopped on Black Friday! Just to JoAnne's, but got some DMC on sale and some great fabric. I have no idea what our in-laws want for Christmas. We usually just end up running around Lexington, KY, in the two days before the holiday, buying what we can. I hope everyone is having happy holidays. I'm happy that it was in the mid 70s today and we are not expecting any snow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy SHEEP Day!

Yes, I did finish this in a couple of hours last night. I really liked working with the colors and the restful four squares. No confetti here. We are pretty much ready to hit the road. It only takes four hours to get to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, so we should arrive before dark. We have GPS navigation in the car and lots of iTunes music and audiobooks to travel with. Happy Turkey Day to everyone in the US. I am thankful that we have a great highway system and that at the end of the road I will see lots of friends.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At Least It's a Sheep

I got this much done by the end of Sunday night for the Stitch-a-Thon. I had hoped to finish it off, but I was missing several borders and another birdie. Currently I have most of the borders done, but I still have some black, blue, and the birdie to finish. I may have a Happy Dance by the end of the day.

That assumes that I can pack for Los Angeles pretty quickly. Clothing isn't much of an issue, because the convention is pretty casual. And for the first time in years we do not have to pack for a room party. No stand-up Elvis, no bowls and cutting board, no flyers and lighted Las Vegas sign. Just us, our car, our clothes, and books that I want autographed. I really love this convention in Los Angeles because will be able to chat with dozens of friends from all over that I only see at conventions. (Hope to see you there, Ruth). However, I do miss having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It really makes the most sense to drive there on Thursday and not have to get up at o'dark o'clock and drive there Friday morning. I usually cook a make-up dinner sometime in December as I love cranberries and mashed potatoes and dressing. At least this year I might get a chance to actually shop on Black Friday (I have coupons for JoAnne's). Usually I am sitting a table or on a panel. My first panel (Fiction 2008) on Friday isn't until 3pm.

It is approaching the end of the year and I still have these outstanding goals:
  • Start Hawaiian Mandala and finish at least 8 of the 12 parts.
    Well, I started it, but I have only finished Part One (without the beads) and half of Part Two. Since I knew I couldn't finish the entire piece in one year, I'm not too unhappy that I have fallen behind. I'll put more time into it next year.
  • Finish another Michael Powell piece.
    If the Michael Powell piece that I started actually had the right chart, it would be finished by now. I am thinking about taking this to Los Angeles and working on it, but I might actually accomplish this goal more easily by starting one of his Mini-Christmas Windows.
  • Finish the plastic canvas Christmas ornaments.
    I'll work on them when I get back from LA. There is not too much left to do.
  • One exchange or RR piece.
    Too much travel. I just don't feel comfortable with an exchange when I don't know where I will be six months from now. I may try again in 2009, but I might just not be a good candidate for an exchange.
  • Start and finish Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket.
    Well, it is started. I'll just carry it over until next year.
  • Sewing projects
    I have done none of them of that I set as a goal and haven't even finished the Hawaiian Shirt that I was doing for James' birthday. I need a better sewing setup before I am going to get in a sewing mood.
Which is really not too bad. I do have 11 finishes that weren't even on my goals list and have finished three of my nine goals and one extra credit piece. There is still time enough to finish two more goals, so I will probably set goals again next year with the hopes of finishing 90% of them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

THIS Weekend is the Stitch-A-Thon

I thought it was last weekend and planned to finish up this pattern, but when I found out that it was this weekend and not last weekend, I sort of abandoned it. Then James came home on Monday night and we spent most of Tuesday discussing what Big Project we should attempt. Then we discussed the pros and cons of various projects that should (or could) be done, but eventually decided on what we have been talking about for some time. I don't mean to be overly secretive, but we are still in the early planning stages and there are lots of details that are undecided. It is a Big Project and it will probably limit my stitching time somewhat next year. We made the first steps on Thursday and Friday and should be ready to talk about it sometime after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile I do have time for stitching this weekend and will probably buckle down and finish this sheep. Yes, it is a bit fiddly, but I do enjoy it.

I have also learned that I really like medium to large projects best. I know small projects can give you a great Happy Dance in a short amount of time. And my medium and large stitching projects do have a tendency to become UFOs. But even my oldest and most ignored projects are still in the back of my mind. I know I will finish each and every one of them Some Day. So I'm off to finish THIS project. I won't complete all of my goals for this year, but I should be able to complete a few more in the next month.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Found A Round Tuit!

Now what? For what seems like the longest time I have been moving from one Must Do project to another. Although my life has not been an endless round of crises or work, there just has seemed that there has been one Important Time Dependent Project hanging over me for a long while. When I returned from Europe, I knew I had a design layout project of 80 pages for an all volunteer convention. I expected to have information about this project in my mail any day, but nothing. Finally, I got in touch with the people involved only to be told that someone else had done the project instead. That's alright, but I wish they had told me sooner. This isn't even the Stitch-A-Long weekend (that is next weekend).

But that does leave me in a peculiar state. I have plenty of projects to do, but none of them are Major or Urgent. Instead I have bunches of baby projects all whistling at the top of their lungs, "ME! Me! Over here, do me first!" There are a few projects that I will do today: laundry, cooking, and stitching. I will take the car in for an oil change tomorrow and pick my husband up at the airport tomorrow evening. But this does leave time for other Big Projects. There are some that can only be done in Hawaii (remodeling that horrible kitchen) and some that can only be done in Nevada. I'm going to think very carefully over the next few days and see what comes to the forefront. I don't think I can live very well without some Big Project.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Very Belated THANK YOU!

See how perfect this scissors fob is for this project? Now I just need to find the perfect scissors for it. I was lucky enough to win this beautiful fob from Cindy who gave three fabulous fobs away for her third blogoversary. But since we have returned from Europe I am still wading through my mail. So although I received this safe and sound some time ago, I am only now getting around to putting up a picture and giving Cindy a big THANK YOU for this lovely fob.

As much as I would love to start this project right away, I still have a lot to stitch on Summer Wool. Summer Wool is my focus for the November Stitch-A-Thon. After that it is back to the plastic canvas ornaments. Unless I start something else really small I might not have any more finishes this year. I have been focusing on some larger pieces and I am happy about the progress I have made on them. Next year will probably also be filled with medium and large projects. Now that I know that I can start a large project and progress, I'm happier to tackle some of those larger projects that have been lingering in the bins. I also better have as 2009 goals some framing done. I'm starting to pile up stitching that is just sitting in a drawer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Few More Squares of Sheep

You can see that I'm following the pattern at the front of the sheep and trying to follow the model, sort of, at the back. So there is more stitched at the front. But overall this is going well and I am really enjoying it. I don't have that much more sheep to go, but there is still a lot of border (and two birds) to do. Then I will probably move on to the plastic Christmas ornaments. I should be able to finish them before Thanksgiving. After that I will have to look at my goals list and decide what will be done and what will be abandoned for this year and carried over to the next.

Although my husband safely drove to San Francisco yesterday, I didn't bring my sewing machine out. There is too much paperwork and organizing to do. I think I will work on that until he comes back next Monday. The refrigerator in the loft is not fixed. Sigh. The repairman could not find the leak, so he filled the units with freon and will try to find it again when this freon leaks out. If they weren't built-in units, I would just get them replaced.

This picture of Convento do Carmo may not be as beautiful as some of my past travel pictures, but if you get a chance to visit it in Lisbon, I'm sure you will love it as much as I did. Unlike the cathedrals in England, it was not unroofed by fiat or war, but was destroyed by the immense Lisbon earthquake of 1755. This disaster not only destroyed Lisbon entirely, but also damaged cities from Morocco to England. Since it destroyed all the churches in Lisbon and occurred on November 1 (All Saints Day), it also affected the thinking of European philosophers such as Voltaire and Kant. It was difficult to see a benevolent god behind such utter destruction. The convent was not completely rebuilt, but left roofless as a reminder of the Lisbon earthquake for future generations. Now the ex-convent is a small, quiet archeological museum.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is It Just Me?

Or are there more and more patterns and models that don't match? This is Kit & Bixby's Summer Wool. The border on the model is stitched one stitch higher than the pattern (I followed the pattern). The rear of the sheep is charted in the same light greys as the top of the sheep, but the model has the rear end darker (and if you know sheep, you know it should be darker). I'm trying to follow the model. The inside of the ears were charted in 924 (Grey Green - Very Dark, though the thread looks more dark blue than green), so I used the same thread as the model, the darkest of the five greys in the sheep's body. But even with these minor changes, I am still enjoying stitching this. The checkerboard pattern means that I can do 4, 8, or 12 stitches without looking at the pattern at all. I also have Autumn Wool, Winter Wool, Spring Wool, and Haunted Wool. At least one of these will be stitched next year.

I started this on the flight from Lisbon to Frankfurt. I thought I would stitch a lot more on the flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco, but instead I got caught up watching three bad movies and playing video games on the new United inflight entertainment system. Mama Mia! had great actors who can't sing or dance. My husband, who could see my screen but not hear the sound, said it looked like a Bollywood picture. At least I didn't expect a story. X-Files: I Want to Believe did not resemble any X-File episode I'd even seen. They should have named it, I Want to Talk and Not Resolve Anything. Not even any cool monsters. The last movie, Wanted, with James MacAvoy and Angelina Jolie, is pure unbelievable action. First I have to say that I can watch James MacAvoy read from the telephone book and be pretty well entertained. Secondly, I guess I'm just an action junkie, but I really liked it. And just so that they don't come to my house and remove my Mensa card, I can recommend a truly great movie we just watched from Netflix, Charlie Wilson's War. Directed by Mike Nichols with dialogue by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). This is a political, feel good movie (if that is not a contradiction in terms) about the successful covert funding of Afgani rebels against the Soviet Union.

The minor projects we need to do continue onward. We have a new pool guy. The California car got it's first servicing in possibly two years. (It's hard to get a car serviced when you only have one and you are barely in town for more than a day or two.) Dry cleaning and prescriptions picked up. iPhone plug replaced. We will keep working on things until James drives back to San Francisco, probably next Tuesday. Then I will get out the sewing machine and see what happens. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hooray for PhotoRescue!

YES! I did manage to rescue my missing photos from the deleted memory card with the help of the amazing PhotoRescue. At least I was quick enough to realize that they were missing right away and to not shoot any more photos on this memory card, so I got all 173 photos back. This one is the pattern that I want to use for a Christmas Ornament. I want to use the dark blue line in a variegated thread in red and green and then do the linking boxes in solid colors that match the reds and greens in the variegated thread. I might do it all in satin stitch rather than cross stitch.

And since some people have asked for more travel pictures, I leave you with this picture also from the Alhambra in Granada. You may not think that this looks very Arabic, but the Alhambra was also the court of Queen Isabella when she finally granted Christopher Columbus his warrant to explore the western passage to India. There are several beautiful Spanish courtyards in the Spanish part of the fortress.

I know I promised a picture of my new stitching start, but I will have to leave that until tomorrow. I must admit that I have been a bit obsessed with it. It looks like I will just keep stitching it until it is done.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No NaBloPoMo This Year

Last year I posted every day in the month of November for NaBloPoMo. I had a vague idea that since I would be back in California on November 1st that I could do it again this year. Well a two and a half hour flight from Lisbon to Frankfurt followed by an eleven plus hour flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco plus hours in customs left me face down in the mashed potatoes by the time I got to the loft. By eight o'clock I was sound asleep, only to awake at 3 am (of course). It was good to have high speed internet access again, but we also had no refrigerator (making cooking or even cold drinks out of the question). So we investigated getting an earlier flight back to Nevada. Ouch, we would have to buy completely new tickets! Maybe rent a car one way? Mmmmm, we have a van in California, why not just drive that to Nevada? My husband has to go back to California next week, so if he doesn't mind driving back by himself, it's done. Plus this let us take lots of very large artwork to Nevada. We would have to make this trip sometime, so why not now? The only issue was that we would have to leave as soon as possible as I knew I would be asleep again by 8 pm. The drive was actually pleasant as the day was sunny and full of beautiful clouds. A stop at Harris Ranch on I-5 for steak and we were home by 7 pm. I was right, though. I was too tired to even unpack the car and immediately went to bed.

Although we bought very little on our trip, I was on the look out for cross stitch and cross stitch magazines. This was the one kit I bought in the Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

I also collected these magazines while walking around Barcelona, Sevilla, and Lisbon. They are mostly from Portugal, but I also have a French point de cruz magazine (Septembre/Octobre 2008) that I picked up in the Frankfurt airport. I haven't even given more than a glance at them, but do want to pick out at least one pattern to add to my 2009 goals list. And speaking of stitching I do have a new start that I will post tomorrow. Only one guess as to the subject -- sheep! I hope everyone is having a productive week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Many Sadnesses

Cyn asked me if I had taken any closeup pictures of the tile designs in the Alhambra. Yes, I took dozens of them and even had one in particular that looked similar to a Celtic knot that I thought would be a wonderful Christmas ornament stitched in a red/green variation thread. I was going to post a picture of the design, but when I went to find the picture of that design, instead I found out that none of the pictures I took in Morocco, Gibraltar or the Alhambra (more than 70 there alone) had transferred successfully to my computer. I always transfer my digital pictures from the camera card to my hard disk as soon as possible and then delete the pictures on the card so that I can take more pictures. It has never failed me in the past, but it did this time.

This, along with my general surfeit of travel, has lead us to decide to come back a few days early. Instead of spending a few days in Lisbon, we will come back on Saturday. I would have left on Friday, but I couldn't make the flight arrangements. I probably will not have computer access again until we return, so I will post again in November.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Day at Rest

After several intensive days of touristing, I decided to stay on the boat today, even though we are docked in Cadiz, Spain. My husband walked around the town and loved it, but I was happy enough to sit in the Observation Lounge and stitch. And I got a lot of stitching done. Here is the last picture of Bothy's Cut-Thru Rocket. I have now backstitched most of the nosecone and stitched most of the cross stitch in the second stage. If I stitch about a third of the third stage I will have one page of nine completely stitched. That is actually more than a ninth of the pattern as there isn't a lot to stitch on pages one and three. There was actually a lovely English lady also stitching in the lounge. She was working on a large Dimensions kitchen alphabet. She said it would take her four more cruises to finish it.

The last three days were tours in Morocco, Gibraltar and Granada (while docked in Málaga). It was cloudy in Casablanca and rainy in Rabat. Either there isn't much to see there or we had a really awful tour. No museums, the outsides of some uninteresting buildings and a long, long bus ride. Gibraltar was wonderful. We took a tour of the World War II tunnels and had an exciting mini-bus ride through the narrow streets. I loved Gibraltar and would definitely go back. We didn't see much of Málaga, as we got on a bus for another, longer ride to Granada to see Alhambra, a Moorish citadel. It was really fabulous, even though we were walking for three hours. This picture shows some of the wonders; stucco work, tile, and carved wood. Every wall is different. There is also a Spanish part of the citadel where Queen Isabel lived and Washington Irving wrote. It deserves to be the most visited place in Spain.

Now we have our last formal dinner, so I need to help James into his tux and I have to get buttoned into my formal gown. I hope everyone is having a great week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Stormy Finish

I should have finished this Monday afternoon, after we got back from walking around Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, but I spent a lot more time reading than stitching. Yesterday on our last full sailing day, I did get it out and finished it in about an hour. I even got out Cut-Thru Rocket and put two strands into that project, too. But by then our smooth cruising had finally found some weather. The ship ran into a 30 knots per hour headwind and 8 - 10 foot seas. Since the observation lounge is at the very front of the ship, the motion was pretty pronounced. I retreated to our midships cabin, but even there most activities were limited. I finally joined my husband in an early bedtime. We have a long, long tour to Casablanca and Rabat today.

On Monday as we were walking around Las Palmas, I looked up at a sign -- DMC! And so it was. This was a tiny, tiny store stocked to the rafters with buttons, trim, yarn, and every kind of DMC thread they make. There were a few kits and needlepoint tapestries, so I just had to buy a P & B kit made in Spain of some cheese, olives, and wine. It includes Aida cloth, so I will find some linen to stitch it on when I get back home. I have been looking for some Spanish cross stitch magazines, but I haven't seen any in the limited magazine stalls that I have run across. On one of his walks, my husband did get me a needlepoint magazine. They are fairly simple designs, but one of them may get stitched.

Our stop yesterday was Lanzarote, another Canary Island. It so dry that it is remarkable that it has any population at all. When I get back to a faster download speed, I'll upload some remarkable cactus pictures from a cactus garden with over 800 species. We also had some rather nice wine from a local vineyard where they grow the grapes on the black sand ground in shallow holes to protect them from the drying wind. I've never seen grapes grown except on trellises. Today we dock in Casablanca and take a tour to Rabat. This should a much different photography experience that what we have had so far in Spain in Portugal.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sail Away, Sail Away!

Yes, I have been enjoying stitching in the light filled observation lounge. I might even finish up this sheep today as it is a sailing day between Madeira and the Canary Islands. Then I should really do a bit more on my Cut-Thru Rocket, though I do have to admit that starting Three Chimneys is really, really tempting.

Here is a picture of our ship, the Seabourn Pride. We have been on three previous cruises with Seabourn, but all on the Spirit. Since the three Seabourn ships are identical, it really seems to be the same boat except some of the names of the common areas are changed. There are currently 195 passengers and 165 staff. That does mean that staff is around everywhere you look. They are constantly trying to feed you, but I am managing to resist eating most things, except for the extraordinary Black Forest Cake. Mmmmmm.

There was a Seaborn bus from the hotel in Lisbon to the boat. Checking in is accompanied by champagne, but doesn't take too long. They even produce a picture ID to get you on and off the ship (and sign up for the mucho expensive internet access). The first day of travel is just sailing, so I could relax. Yesterday we landed in Madeira. I was not interested in the general tours, but I did sign up for the helicopter tour. I love helicopters and small planes. I took twenty minutes of video over the incredibly steep hillsides covered in houses and trees. When I get back I will post some of it on Flickr. We also bought (surprise, surprise) some Madeira wine. It is a fortified wine similar to a vintage port. Good for after dinner sipping. Today is another sailing day to the Canary Islands. I plan to stitch (and to avoid the four meals a day they provide). I have been trying to keep up reading everyone's blogs, but I haven't been able to do much commenting because of the slow access speeds (and the 30 cents a minute access costs). I'll try to keep posting and comment more when I get back to dry land. Have a good week everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Midnight Stitching

Here's what a little more after midnight stitching will bring you. About a quarter of the sheep's body is done now. I might even finish him this weekend, if I don't bring out something else to stitch tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is one of our three cruising days on the boat. There are no landfalls and no tours and no getting up at certain times. Just stitching and reading when I want to. Now that is a vacation.

But we have spent some of our time in Barcelona touristing (instead of sleeping). This is the interior nave of Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece cathedral designed by Gaudí. The structure and decorations are filled with organic, natural forms. Notice how the columns split at the top like tree branches. At some point all the windows will be filled with abstract stained glass, but for now most of the windows are empty.

The most striking features so far are the tall, tall towers. You can take an elevator up in one of them and walk around narrow spiraling steps to see more of them through deep window niches. The building is a marvel wherever you look. I am glad to have seen it as the rest of Barcelona did not capture my imagination as Paris and London have. I really want to go back to Paris the next time we are in Europe. We might come back next year for the Venice Bienniale (contemporary art exhbition) that we very much enjoyed in 2005.

But right now we are in Lisbon at a gorgeous hotel, Lapa Palace. In about two hours we will get on a bus to the cruise ship and start our seagoing adventure. I always like sailing into or out of a harbor in the evening. The lights are usually fantastic. I don't know if I will be able to post again until we leave the boat in two weeks. I know when we sailed last, there were dedicated computers that you could use, but they might not let me upload pictures (or even use them for more than five or ten minutes). If I don't speak to you again until then, I hope everyone is having a great October.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Advantage to Jet Lag

One advantage to jet lag is that when you are up very late at night you can always stitch. This is another Bent Creek Sheep kit called Freedom. I didn't stitch this on the plane from San Francisco to Frankfurt because it was an overnight flight, so the cabin lights were off. It was DARK. But I did start it in the Frankfurt airport in the United First Class Lounge waiting for our flight to Barcelona. Then I kept going after we crashed Thursday afternoon and woke up at o'dark o'clock on Friday morning. There have been a few more stitches done every night that I have been up in the middle of the night. I should have this finished by the time we finish the cruise.

Overall I have been fighting such bad jet lag that I haven't done as much sightseeing as I usually do. The best thing in Barcelona has been the two and half hour Gourmet walking tour we took Saturday morning. There were eleven of us on the English language tour; some English, Australians, and New Zealanders. The guide was Catalonian, but spoke excellent English. He had a braodcasting microphone and we all had iPod like receivers. This was great as you didn't have to be standing right next to him to hear what he had to say. We started off at a Granja (farm). No, not a real farm, but a cafe/store that used to have real cows and sold fresh milk and fresh milk products. Now they sell bottled milk, curd, and cheese. But it is best known as the place that grandparents take their grandkids and treat them with chocolate milk. We also visited a patisserie. Although Spanish food is olive oiled based, Barcelona's butter based breakfast pastries and desserts are French. The northern parts of Spain do not have the strong Arabic influences of the southern part of Spain. This picture is from the famous Barcelona Boqueria (market). Although not as large as Les Halles in Paris, it still has an impressive array of fruits, vegetables, meats (especially cured hams) and seafood. We also visited a Torron (nougat candy maker), a cafe that predominately serves a rich, thick chocolate drink, and ended up with at a wine bar, including a nice glass of white wine and a salami tapas. That was a lot of walking for me, but I kept up.

We just came back from Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral started by Gaudí. It is quite impressive, but like most of the tourist sites in Barcelona is was packed with people. If it is this crowded on a weekday in October, I am glad we were not here in the summer. Tomorrow morning we leave Barcelona for Lisbon. We will just be there one night before we board the Seabourn Pride on Thursday afternoon. Since we will have a few days in Lisbon after the cruise, I don't plan to try and see anything in Lisbon this week. An evening reading and stitching sounds just fine to me.

Once again this is written on Tuesday afternoon at 3:15 PM and not six in the morning. I suppose I could get Blogger to recognize that I am in a different time zone, but I think I won't fight it. I hope everyone is having a lovely week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Arrived at Last!

Now I can show you the stitched piece I sent to Sari for the Stitching Blogger's Birthday Club along with the threads and charts. Check her blog to see it all. This was the first flatfold I have tried and it came out pretty well. I'd like to do better on the corners next time.

We arrived safely (but totally jet lagged) in Barcelona last Thursday. We have seen some things (Picasso Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art), but not as much as I had planned. We are sleeping during the day and up all night (like right now). We will do a bit more sightseeing tomorrow and head off to Lisbon on Wednesday. Thursday we start our cruise! Now that I am really looking forward to. Another post later with some new stitching news.

Mmmm. I tried to post this as 10/14/08, 1:48 AM (the time in Barcelona), but Blogger thinks I want to post it tomorrow. So I will just let this post on Pacific Time and let you imagine me typing away in a semi-dark hotel room with my husband snoring in the comfy bed. I'll join him there shortly.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Not Much

That is a pitiful lot of backstitching in one week, if you ask me. I may not have been stitching, but I have been organizing and kitting things up for the Really Long Trip. I have decided not to take these ornaments with me. There are a lot of fiddly bits that might get lost on a long trip. But really, while I have been stitching this I have been jonesing for a new start. So I have kitted up another Bent Creek sheep (Freedom) for the plane. Stitching on 25 count is just the ticket for the variable lighting you find on airplanes. Then I do need to work on some goal stitching, so Cut-Thru Rocket and Flower Fairy will come with me. I also have a tiny Trilogy Autumn Alphabet on 32 count that should be quick to finish and Summer Sheep (on 28 count white) that I can stitch on the plane trip back. Last, but not least, I am taking Cross Eyed Cricket's Three Gables (30 count) with me. It's been kitted up for years and I really want to work on it. The ship we will be on for two weeks (Seabourn Pride) has a lovely observation lounge that is filled with sunlight. On previous trips I spent a lot of time up there reading or working on jigsaw puzzles. This time I will stitch. The boat does stop at a lot of different ports, but there are two or three days of pure sailing that will be a real luxury, especially in the afternoons when they serve really scrumptious English tea and sandwiches.

We fly to San Francisco tomorrow (no, I am NOT packed yet as I had planned to be). I get my hair done, finally sleep, and we fly to Frankfurt (Wednesday to Thursday morning) and Barcelona (Thursday afternoon). I used to be able to fly to Australia and conduct seven days of classes (in seven different cities), but not any more. I know I will be horribly jet lagged, so plan to take it easy in Barcelona. We fly to Lisbon on the following Wednesday for the night and get on the boat the following Thursday. Since these are all civilized countries (unlike say, Cambodia), I should have some internet access, so I plan to publish some stitching progress along the way.

I have been very depressed about my Stitching Blogger's Birthday Club package. I sent it Express Mail last Monday. They said it would take three days to get there. The recipient's birthday was on Saturday. I kept checking the USPS website, but it just said that it left Los Angeles on Tuesday. I was about to call them this morning, but one final check of the USPS site said that the package had been delivered this morning. RELIEF! Next time I'll use DHL or FedEx.

So back I go to packing and organizing. I have more than 24 hours worth of projects, but only 20 hours until the taxi picks us up tomorrow morning. I hope everyone has a great week.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's in the Mail!

Here is my contribution to the Stitching Bloggers Birthday Club. I won't tell you what all is in it or who it is going to, but it is all in the mail. There are several patterns on the birthday person's wishlist, so I hope it is well received. First, I hope it just gets there. In it is my first attempt at a flatfold. Not too difficult if you follow the excellent instructions from Meari's blog. Next time I will spend more time getting those corners square, but once the glue dries, there you are.

Since my husband is gone, I have been mostly working on tidying up the house and going through paperwork and reading. I did spend an hour or so working on the backstitching on the cat ornament, but there isn't that much to see. I will post a picture when it is finished. James is back tomorrow afternoon, so I better get back to doing all those things I thought would be done before he got back.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christmas Comes Early

The Christmas Ornament Stitch-A-Long doesn't start until this weekend, but since I started these on the flights to and from Maui, I think I will continue with them until we have to leave for Europe or I get bored with them. After all they are on my 2008 Goals list. I have now finished four of the six ornaments. All of them are cross stitched. Now comes the backstitching (and French knots). You can see the cow and the unbackstitched reindeer here.

There is a lot more backstitching on this ornament than was on the reindeer. But since so much of it is outlining, it is relaxing as I don't have to check the chart after every stitch. I will still have to cut them out and fasten the pieces together with wire, but all the extra bits came in each kit. Maybe I will cut one out this weekend just to see how long it will take. Finally they will become the Christmas presents to my in-laws I had planned over a decade ago.

My husband is flying to San Diego this weekend for a science fiction convention (Conjecture). I've been to every previous one, but I simply don't want to take the time when there is so much to do before we leave for Europe. My husband can just pack his tux, some t-shirts and be done. I'm still matching up formal dresses, shoes, bags, and jewelry. I have a board meeting in Los Angeles next weekend. I still haven't decided if I will try to go or not. There are no direct flights to Burbank from Las Vegas (LAS to DEN to BUR? No, never, not happening.) I don't know if I want to fight the hassles of LAX, then the 405. I usually just drive, but again I don't want to take the time for the four hour drive (one way) and the overnight stay. I will probably wimp out and just stay home. And I have plenty of stitching to keep me company.