Monday, June 30, 2008

Meeting Up

When you are working on a circular motif, it is always a relief to find that the last stitches that complete the circle exactly meet up next to the first stitches. I finished the last diagonal motif (the one that Chiasmata calls the peacock feathers) and moved on to the last mostly beaded (and therefore mostly empty) motif at the very top. There were two C stitches at the top already stitched, but the two C stitches I put next to them lined up exactly. Moreover the wavy line of ░ matched up perfectly to the purple scroll of the next peacock motif.

You can see how little I have to finish in the top motif, though there is still a lot of gold crosses to complete around the edges, not to mention the 24 Algerian stitches in the peacock motifs.

I did print out the Part Two directions. Part Two is just four pineapple motifs that fit around the north, east, south, and west points. There is not nearly as much stitching as I have done on Part One, but what there are are HUGE Algerian stitches for the pineapples and tons of Jessica stitches for the flowers under the pineapples. The most interesting thing about the next part is the complete color change -- from blues to yellows, oranges, and leaf greens. I'm glad I checked Part Two first. The overlap of part one on Part Two shows gold cross stitches completely around the outside except for the cardinal points. Skipping two gold stitches near the indents was apparently a mistake. I'm glad that I can fill them in as I go rather than have to go back and put each one in individually.

I didn't think I would get so much stitching done when I am also working on the convention, but sometimes (like when another program participant cancels) I just need to walk away and stitch. It also turns out that CalTrans will be blasting I-15 (the ONLY road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas) on Tuesday and Wednesday, requiring a complete shutdown of the road. If their schedule is correct, they will be doing this from 7 am to 9 am about 20 miles from the Nevada border. Even if the truck leaves LA at 8 am, they wouldn't get to that part of the road until noon. And you thought that all we had to worry about was crazy members and stubborn hotel staff! Today is a FULL day -- pick up the program books, print out the Pocket Programs, buy the goodie baskets and the office supplies and maybe start thinking about what we have to pack for the convention. I know I have to bring copies of Kage Baker's books and the Hugo Nominees. Tomorrow is a pre-pre-con hotel meeting and the unpacking of the mail-in art. Wednesday we MOVE IN and won't be back here until Monday morning. I hope everyone has a great Fourth of July.

Friday, June 27, 2008


As soon as I mentioned that I still had some gold metallic to stitch around the edges, I knew I had to stitch it right now. I thought I might leave it until the end, because most of it is easy to stitch without looking at the pattern -- as long as you skip two stitches in the corners and one at the points. But I was feeling like some easy stitching, so out came the gold.

As long as I was stitching gold, I thought I might try and do the backstitching around the four large center squares. Mmmm, I don't think this is going to show up very much when the center jewel is attached, but when this is all finished most the of details will be lost in the overall huge design.

I did finish off about half of the northwest corner and am verging into the top half and even the top motif. The only difficult part now is that I am going to start running out of places to stitch short lengths of thread. As long as I had one more motif to stitch, if I finished stitching silver on the west motif, I could just continue stitching silver on the north motif. I just have about five stitches to do with Pond Scum (that yellow green at the base of the "peacock feather"). I don't know when I will stitch with that color again. The colors in Part Two are almost all completely different. I haven't even expanded and printed out Part Two yet. Maybe I will take a look at it this weekend. I know I won't be working on any Christmas Ornaments. I am still so done with Christmas. It's 105 degrees here in Vegas!

Mostly I am still working on bits and pieces of the convention. We will pick up the program book from the printers on Monday. We have a hotel pre-meeting on Tuesday. Jerome and Elizabeth will be here Tuesday evening to catalog the mail-in art that has been sent to our house. The formal move-in hotel meeting is 3 pm on Wednesday, though the truck from Los Angeles with the art flats should be here Wednesday morning. And everything starts officially at 9 am on Thursday. I might get some stitching done, but I don't know how much time I will have to post. Closing ceremonies are at 4 pm on Sunday and we need to be out of the convention center by 6 pm. We will be staying at the hotel from Wednesday to Monday morning. And the following Wednesday we fly to San Francisco, then Maui on the following Friday. We will need a break by then. Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I have been working hard on the convention, but since I got the Program Book to the printers Sunday night (OK, really early Monday morning -- hooray for FTP), I did take some time yesterday to work on Hawaiian Mandala. The western motif is now done and there is a good start on the northwestern motif. Even when the entire pattern looks done, there is still a circle of gold stitches around the black outer line to do, 24 16-stitch Algerian eyelets to stitch in the boxes in the corner motifs and some gold backstitching to do in the four large boxes near the center. It still looks like I might finish most of it before we leave for San Francisco and Maui on July 9. Then on to Part 2. I have a goal to finish 8 parts of 12 this year. Maybe, maybe not.

I also need to decide if I am going to take a small pattern with me during the convention. I usually take something, even if I don't actually have a lot of time to stitch anything. Since Musing Badger will be there, I can ask her what I should work on. Hey, Ruth, any suggestions? Maybe I should bring out some needlepoint for a change.

I would like to thank all the people who pointed me to some great tin toppers, especially Jennifer. I increased my stash by way, way too much by getting some terrific patterns by Samplers and Such. Once I started I just couldn't stop. At least they are small, right? I could do a couple pretty quickly?

Then since I finished Warm Water Wash in Maui, I will need another largish project for the two weeks we will be there. Though James wants me to make a set of curtains from the fabric we bought in San Francisco last month. After our busy last three months, it is really good to start to look forward to some down time with just projects for us.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ is:

Do you currently subscribe to any stitching publications or have you in the past? (Either in print or online) If so, which ones?

Well, no. The only sewing magazines I have a subscription to are Threads and Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. They are more eye candy than actual project inspirations. But I certainly have a lot of cross stitch magazines for all that. I got started collecting Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments in 2002. I spent a lot of time on Ebay getting all the back issues, some back to the '80s, though then they were just Christmas issues and not specifically ornaments. I also picked up a lot of other Just Cross Stitch copies and The Cross Stitcher, but I can't say I have stitched anything but an ornament from them. Everyone should have the June, 1999, copy of The Cross Stitcher with the Angel of Cross Stitching by Joan Elliott, incorporating all 391 DMC colors in it. It's beautiful to see, even if probably a nightmare to stitch. I am also fond of some of the English cross stitch magazines, but only buy them from newstands. My latest was CrossStitcher, April, 2008, which I bought because it had some Margaret Sherry kittens, a colorful girl on a swing, and a measuring device for gauging fabric. I've been running into mislabeled count on fabric from time to time and wanted a gauge to double check before I start stitching. I have also bought a number of French cross stitch magazines when I was in Paris. I try to limit my purchases though. If I have so many patterns that I will never have enough time to stitch, buying a dozen more seems like insanity.

The programming and designing the program book ran into a huge problem. On Wednesday I had a bout of e. coli (or salmonella?). I was desparately trying to solider through, but was spending more time in the bathroom and in bed than in front of the computer. Have you ever worked on problem even though you know you are too sick to accomplish much? I kept trying to tell myself it wasn't too bad, but after three days of eating virtually nothing, I really had to give up and just sleep. I felt well enough today to have some Chinese for lunch, so I guess I am recovered. Now I need to finish all this off before Monday morning, so I can get this into the printers. It was due last Wednesday, but they had some slack and we had some slack, so everything should be fine even though I am late. Strangely enough I did get some stitching done last night on Mandala. I'll take another picture and post my progress on Monday, AFTER I turn the Program Book into the printers. I hope everyone else is having a good weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mandala Returns

After the party was over, I got to bring out my stitching again and decided to try and finish off Part I of Hawaiian Mandala. So I finished another 5% of the design last night and now have about 70% completed. I've never had to frog any part of this design, but I have certainly had problems with knots. I've ended up cutting out some knots this morning after futiley trying to untangle them.

The party on Sunday went very well. Not only did we get to spend time with our friends, but people actually used the pool. Yes, it was hot, but there is shade over part of the pool and the pool water is not very warm yet. We also got a lot of convention business done. But there is still a lot left to do. I need to finish off all the programming today and have most of the Program Book done. The program book needs to go to the printers tomorrow. I hope everyone else had a pleasant, maybe even a productive, weekend.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tin Toppers Anyone?

Being very fond of Altoids, I have collected a lot of empty tins. I think it is about time to stitch some designs for these empty tins, but I have a small problem. I don't have any patterns that are actually designed for these small tins. I could start going those my magazines, but most of them are for Christmas ornaments. I'm holding off stitching Christmas patterns until the weather cools down under 100 degrees. I might find a few patterns that I can cut down from larger patterns, but some of those are square or more vertical than horizontal. Can any kind stitcher point me to some patterns (free or not) that would work on this size object? Thank you in advance.

And stealing a meme from Kendra:

Where were you 10 years ago? June 1998? 1998 was a whirlwind year! Late in 1997 we bought a house in Burlingame, California. It was elderly (built in 1927) and hadn't seen much upkeep for the last 20 years. It needed a new roof, completely new electrical wiring, refinished floors, and a totally new kitchen. By June we were approaching the end of most of the rough work, but there were still finishing details that needed to be done before we moved into it. So while we were finishing the "new" house, we were also working on repairing the "old" house in Moss Beach to put it on the market.

We had spent the last two years working on a Westercon bid for Honolulu in 2000. The voting would be in San Diego, CA, over the Fourth of July weekend, 1998, so we were preparing for the last parties before voting. I was also a Division Head for the upcoming Worldcon, BucConeer in Baltimore, Maryland, 5 August - 9 August, 1998. There were dozens of details to cover via email and phone before that started. And even while all this was going on, my husband was in school in San Francisco working on his MFA. We were also part of the bid committee for a 2002 Worldcon in San Francisco.

Five things on your to do list for today -
  1. Go to Costco and pick up some chairs, since the old chairs we bought new slings for are so corroded that the person who tried to install the new slings on Thursday couldn't do it.
  2. Do food shopping for the party tomorrow.
  3. Order and pickup an ice cream pie from Baskin Robbins.
  4. Arrange the patio furniture for the party and get out the pool plates and glasses.
  5. Try to get some of the books and boxes in the back hall put away so we don't look like we just moved in.

Snack foods I like - Popcorn (sometimes for dinner). Chips. Blood orange sorbet.

If I were a billionaire - We really have everything we need and so does our immediate family. We already have too many houses. So...probably buy/lease a private jet. I love to fly in small planes. I'd love to even ride in one, but can't justify the incredible expense. Increase the awards from our private art foundation (it's less expensive than one trip in a private jet). Fund the new building for the Peninsula Art Museum.

Places I’ve lived - Born in Oak Park, IL, lived in Arlington Heights, IL, Brookfield, WI (multiple times), Lombard, IL, Westport, CT, Johnstown, PA (multiple houses), Western Springs, IL, Norwalk, CT, Marion, OH, St. Croix, VI, Evanston, IL (multiple places), Barrington, IL, Boston, MA, Lexington, KY, Eugene, OR, Auckland, NZ, Cupertino, CA, Half Moon Bay, CA, Moss Beach, CA, Burlingame, CA, San Francisco, CA, Lahaina, HI (two houses), Honolulu, HI, and Henderson, NV. I think I have left out a few places, probably in Illinois.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Stitching Here

Instead I offer you pictures usually seen on a Technology Blog, Unboxing. What is Unboxing? Well, when a gadget geek (like me) gets a new gadget (like this one) they post the pictures of opening the incredibly well designed series of protective boxes to show the incredibly cool gadget inside. I think it started because some people did not believe that someone actually had their hands on such wonderful gear. Now it is simply a staple of technology blogs along with unprovable rumors about new gadgets and wish lists of what new gadget one really, really wants.

So exactly are you looking at? You are looking at a video camera. Yes, this is a solid state, flash drive video camera with USB connector. No tapes, no disks, no long user manuals. Yes, you will look like James Bond using this thing.

Here is the lens. Simple, unobtrusive, ready to fit in your pocket. It is about the size of a Reese Peanut Butter Cup package or a narrow and long deck of cards.

It comes with an ultrasuede pouch, a wrist lanyard, a composite cable (to hook up directly to your television set), and a tiny, tiny user guide, showing you what buttons to push to to take video. That's all. Five minutes after taking it out of the box, I went into the backyard and shot this video. You will have to click on the link to see it. I could have embedded the video in this post, but I wasn't sure how bad that would be for anyone trying to read this via dial up. It's already a pretty chunky post with all these pictures.

I used the included cable to hook it up to our 60" television. It's great quality video! Then I went over to the computer and flipped open the USB plug hiding in the top and plugged it in. Video on your desktop! When I moved it to Flickr, they do compress the signal quite a bit, so the video you see is not as good as the raw video (AVI) that you can see on your television or your computer. And it is regular digital video. You can edit it, add music, or splice several clips together. The device holds 60 minutes of video and both unloads and recharges from the USB port. Flip also makes a slightly larger unit that uses AA batteries. I know there are a lot of parents out there that are carrying this everywhere to get video of their kids without bringing a camera as big as a diaperbag. I hope to use it during the convention and again on our European cruise in October.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

OK, I Give Up

I do like stitching this design because I like the colors, the fabric and I know it will be beautiful when I finish. But I am still frustrated by all the errors in the pattern. I haven't stitched the left chimney because the model shows a line of p -- medium gray, stitched as a shadow along the edge of the roof and the pattern shows no such shadow, but just pure white for all the chimney until you get below the roof. Since there is a shadow on the chimney below the roof, but not above it I think it will look odd.

The other pattern flaw comes at the base of the tall tree. There is much more trunk against the chimney on the model than there is on the pattern. It even looks like a slightly different brown thread for the part that is missing. So you have to decide where to stitch the trunk and what to stitch it with. And speaking of the thread on the trunk, there are two small patches on the roof of that same thread. They seem to be much darker than the same patches on the model. But I think I will leave them, as the roof is certainly pretty mottled. What is still driving me crazy are the diamonds (Garnet) that are charted for the chimney pots and lots of places on the roof. I have definitely substituted for the garnet on the roof as I know that would stand out ridiculously.

So I just stitched a large part of the sky. It is easy and noncontroversial. However, I think I will move back to Hawaiian Mandala when I start stitching again. That may not be until next week. James is in San Francisco for the next few days and I have a ton of work for the convention to do while he is gone. We are also holding a pool party for the convention staff at our house on Sunday, so there is a bunch of planning for that to get done. I'll be back later.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's A Tree!

Yes, it's a tree and part of a roof and some hills and some sky and not much of a chimney. Whenever I get a minute, I am sitting in my stitching chair and working away at this design. Now that I have picked out some alternative threads for the chimney pots and stitched a large amount of the small z blended threads, the rest of the design is going quite swimmingly. Like all Michael Powell designs this is going to look pretty "blobby" until I start adding the backstitching at the end. Those little bits of salmon to the left of the tree will be houses seen in the distance. The bits of yellow green on the left are bits of another tree in the foreground. The house itself is a timbered Tutor. Since it uses quite different threads than the trees and roof, I am thinking about abandoning page one altogether and moving to the right to finish the rest of the sky, hills, and roofs. But I am also feeling guilty about ignoring Hawaiian Mandala. Maybe I will even take it to Hawaii in July, so I can finish up part one.

But not much will get stitched today. I am sure that normal people actually have weekends, where they kick back and do something fun, but since we spend a lot of our time working on conventions (which always occur on weekends), our busiest times are weekends. Today is space allocation and supply list day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

PIF Goodies from Ruth!

I am sure that poor Ruth was convinced that her lovely package had been eaten by USPS. But no, it arrived safe and sound two days ago. It's just that it arrived during a monstrous effort to be ready for the hotel meeting yesterday and the marathon hotel meeting itself. Today was the first day that I could get the camera out and take a picture of what she sent me as a Pay It Forward.

And what I got was lovely and tremendously useful. First is her handstitched ornament with in a gorgeous blue, but notice those eyecatching beads at the edges. I want to hang it somewhere where it will catch the light. Then three skeins of Vickie Clayton silk, all of which are calling out for a project immediately. I hope they will wait for me. And also a gorgeous skein of Silk 'n Colors Stormy Skies. I need some crisp white linen to show that thread off to its best advantage. Then also some lovely Soy Luster. Ruth says it is best for needlepoint, but having used Rainbow Gallery Designer's Dream for cross stitch, I bet I could use this for cross stitch, too.

The fabric this is sitting on is some Sunbrella cloth I got in San Francisco. I want to make two patio chair cushions. Right now they are naked wrought iron. I keep telling myself that I could make them up next week if I get all my convention projects done. But that is probably wishful thinking.

But a Pay It Forward package means just that. I need to Pay Ruth's kindness forward to five other stitchers. Anyone who leave a comment on this entry will be randomly drawn for a PIF gift from me. I will draw names on Tuesday, June 10 after I take James to the airport. Yes, he is making a very quick trip to San Francisco, but will be back in time for the Pool Party on July 15.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When Charts Go Wrong

As you can see, I am having fun with this pattern. The colors are lovely and the pattern is fairly easy to follow. I have not followed the edge of the page, though. Jeanne mentioned that having a hard edge of stitching can be noticed in the final project. I can already see a difference in the right hand sky where I started stitching again. Although if I did not love the design so much, this would definitely be a UFO. Why?

Well, first the pattern does not match the model. The three colors (seen here rolled) used in the rooftop are shown in the model as the same colors on the chimney pots. But the pattern (shown in yellow diamonds) says to use Garnet (the unrolled darker red). Although I have seen chimney pots this color, this dark red is used later on in the garden. If I did use Garnet here I think it would call too much attention to the chimney pots instead of matching the roof. I am going to follow the colors in the model, but I don't know which shade of copper to use yet. This is a minor matter, since I am pretty used to making color changes in patterns.

But the part of the pattern that IS driving me crazy is the use of Z and z for different colors in adjacent areas. Yes, the orange outlining I did on this picture of the pattern is for Z, the middle copper color in the previous picture. | is used for the darkest copper color. The symbol z is supposed to be a blend of the middle and lightest copper colors. If you look really, really carefully, you will see that I used Z for all of the top edge of the roof. I was stitching late at night and at first didn't notice that these were two different colors. The lower random bits stitched are actually z. I am not going to rip out the right side of the top row for only a slight color change. Doesn't anyone double check patterns for craziness like this?

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Fast Start

Now that I have finished Summer Ewe, I thought I could add another start to my semi-rotation. Sure, I could have stitched Hawaiian Mandala or Rouge, but I am getting a bit bored with both of them. Usually I would pick out something small to stitch while traveling, but we are not flying again until July 9, so I could start something a bit larger.

In order to try to stick to my 2008 Stitching Goals, I looked at what I have left on the list. Sewing projects? Nope, no time right now to set up the sewing machine. I have to grab minutes here and there. Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket? Nope, that is a a BAP. I am not going to even start it until July or later. An exchange or RR piece? Nope, I did not plan to join a group until after July. Finish the plastic canvas Christmas ornaments? NO! Is anyone else out there just a little tired of stitching Christmas things? Which leaves stitching another Michael Powell piece. If I wasn't so DONE with Christmas right now, I would have started Mini Christmas Window II. I did love Mini Christmas Window I, but no Christmas for a while. I have some of his Venetian kits and some of his cottage kits.

So this is the start of Cottage Garden I. I think you can tell that I am absolutely in love with this piece, because I am flying through stitching it. There are four pages to this piece. Instead of starting in the middle as instructed, I thought I might try to stitch each page in order. I carefully measured out to the top left hand edge and put a dark thread there to mark the place to start. I am so impressed with everyone who has these perfectly square panels stitched one at a time. But I can tell I will never be able to keep to such straight borders. I know when I finish all the blue sky on this page, if I have sky thread still in the needle, I will slip over to the next page and take a few stitches there until the sky thread is gone. It's going to take immense will power not to work on this all the time until it is done.

But I have been working on the convention also. I have most of the participants entered in the database. Next comes the fun part. Coming up with topics for them to talk about. We have a hotel meeting on Thursday afternoon to nail down the last bits of operational questions. Dates on the calendar are closer than they appear.