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.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Off Again

I didn't get all of this level cross stitched, but at least two thirds of it is done. And even more en- couraging, when I have this level done (and about two more rows below it), I will have finished one page of the nine in the chart. And even better, four of the pages don't have that much stitching on them. It certainly looks like I will be able to finish this by the end of the year, especially if I work on this in Europe.

For now, I have packed this away and gotten my Christmas ornaments accessible for the flight to the mainland. We leave in four hours. I got most of what needed to be done finished yesterday, so there should be none of the frantic running around that happens half of the time before we leave.

If you as sick of the Michael Powell saga as I am, you can skip the rest of this post. But I wanted to respond to a comment by regwells and they do not have an email or blog that I can find. regwells said, "they are claiming on the web site about your complaint that the photo does not properly match the actual design". My response is, " If Michael Powell is now claiming that the picture on the front of Cottage Garden I is wrong and NOT the chart or threads, why didn't they say that to me when I first asked? Or send me a revised picture when they sent me a revised chart. Liars or idiots, you decide."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Small Step into the Darkness

Aha, I remember why I didn't spend as much time stitching this as I had planned on. It's 32 count NAVY in a tight weave! I still like the pattern and even though there is a lot of confetti, I still like stitching it. But I like to stitch at night and this is not the fabric to stitch on when it is not bright daylight. I should buy a daylight lamp, but there aren't any convenient outlets near my favorite stitching chair, just huge windows. I tried to stitch a bit last night, but ended up frogging most of it because I was one thread off. That doesn't happen to me very often. But I have done most of the laundry I have to do before we leave for the mainland tomorrow, so I can spend the afternoon stitching.

The day before we leave Maui is always melancholy. This is the last sunset, this is the last chance to swim, this is the last meal we will have here. I know we will be back, but this time, I don't know when. We have a full travel and project schedule between now and the middle of January. Sometimes I get annoyed being here -- its so hard to get goods and services here and I miss my stash (and my cats) I have on the mainland. But it never fails that when it is time to go, I look back reluctantly and wish I would stay just a little bit longer.

This is also the last time we will have access to The Cottage. Yes, it is finally in escrow and should belong to someone else by the end of the month. I know that selling it is the only thing to do, but we have never sold a house that we lived so close to. This is the view of the main house from the cottage driveway. I hope the new owners don't have loud parties every evening. :-) Does this mean that we can finally buy some land and build Our House in Nevada? The house we are in now was only supposed to be temporary, but after five years it sure seems pretty permanent.

Well, nothing will change for the next couple of months. We will simply be too busy. We saw a great DVD on Barcelona last night and I am now starting to get excited about spending some time there. And on the boat I can relax knowing that meals (really, really good meals) and housekeeping are taken care of! I hope everyone had a successful Stitch-A-Thon this weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moving On

I think I have had enough of Cottage Garden I. I generally don't like large blocks of the same color stitching, but after so much con- centration on the different changes I was making on this design, I actually enjoyed stitching some peaceful blocks of blue sky and cream hills. Then I plunged back into the many oranges and browns of the two more roofs.

I was wondering why I hadn't gotten any messages from my last post on the Michael Powell Yahoo Group. Well, I found out why. My last message was DELETED. So last night I posted that unflattering messages on this group would be deleted (knowing that my post would be sent to those getting email messages). And sure enough, all my messages have now been deleted and furthermore I have been banned from the group. Companies that have this head-in-the-sand, we-are-right-you-are-wrong attitude have serious problems understanding the nature of the internet. Yes, they can sell defective products to unsuspecting customers, but sooner or later their documented sins will catch up to them. (Just ask Electronic Arts how many people will buy their new game Spore from Amazon with 2,000 negative reviews.) With all the wonderful kits and charts out there, I strongly recommend that NO ONE buy any charts from Michael Powell. This is a real shame as they are lovely designs. But as long as they are defective and the people involved refuse to acknowledge the problems (also seen by regwells), then as much as I would like to stitch some of the Spanish scenes, I simply won't. And after patiently waiting for some explanation, I will be very, very vocal about the poor treatment that I have received.

So I am going to put Cottage Garden I away for a while. I'm not going to take it to Europe, so it might not get finished this year although finishing a Michael Powell design was one of my main 2008 goals. Instead I am stitching Bothy's Cut-Thru Rocket for this weekend's Stitch-A-Long. I won't be able to spend all weekend stitching this, as I am still working on learning Dreamweaver. But I am aiming to get the next level of the nosecone done.

I leave you with two photos I took yesterday evening. The first couple of days here on Maui were filled with vog (volcanic fog). There are usually enough tradewinds to blow it away, but sometimes in September the tradewinds die and hot and sticky weather sets in. I wanted to take a picture of the vog, but you would have said I just forgot to take the lens caps off my camera. There is really nothing to see. Finally we are getting some breezes and so we can even see Molokai; here seen behind the palms we are growing for our agricultural allotment.

This is the view of the West Maui mountains behind our house. They are often wreathed in clouds, so you can't always see their peaks. I hope everyone has a restful or productive weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

OK, not really. These question are from Ruth, but they are so good that I just had to post about them.
"Choosing right this very minute -- If you could go home tonight and put the very last stitch in one piece that you have NOT yet started, what would it be?"
No question. It would be The Cricket Collection's Three Gables. I have had this kitted up for years (including the 30 count R&R fabric) and have started carrying it around with me. I want to start it so badly, but I need to finish a few WiPs first.

"And if the same magic applied to going home tonight and putting the last stitch on some WIP or UFO of yours....?"
Again, I hardly needed to think about this at all. It would definitely be Stoney Creek's Victorian Wedding Remembrance. I haven't even finished the cross stitching and almost every stitch is backstitched too! I haven't worked on this since we moved to Nevada five years ago. I need to find the bolts for the floor stand. Right now I have all the sticks lying around on my sewing room floor, but no bolts. At least this isn't on my 2008 Goals list.

I did stitch a little bit on Cottage Garden last night and will take it up again this afternoon. I also finished the first five chapters (the easy ones) in the Dreamweaver tutorial and watched one of the worst documentaries (on the Canary Islands) I have ever seen. Out of focus, odd framing, really strange narration that had no reference to what was going on in the picture and completely terrible music. At least I can send this DVD back to Netflix, though I almost want to "Report a Problem with this DVD". Yes, the problem is "This DVD is TERRIBLE!!!".

Donna thought I was giving a positive review of Neil Stephenson's Anathem. And I was. For me. But you also have to realize that my husband was a philosophy major. We really do have Socratic dialogues about the nature of meaning. For people who don't enjoy endless debates about the number of quarks that can fit in a klein bottle, then you probably wouldn't enjoy this novel as much as I am.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Running on Empty

I got this much of Michael Powell's Cottage Garden I finished before I left Nevada. I didn't try to continue in San Francisco because I didn't have the proper sunlight or enough time to tackle the next section. One of the reasons I loved this piece was because of the layering of the different greens throughout the picture. I was just about to continue the next section of shrubbery just below the gray shadow on the left when I noticed that the called for green almost matched the light green in the shrub above it. Time to regroup and rethink.

The model showed a dark shrub (shading to a brighter green at the bottom) followed by a lighter shrub at the very bottom. In Maui I had the sunlight and the room to spread out all the colors and decide where to go from here. One of the problems I now have is that I am running out of some greens. I don't think I could have matched the model exactly and still have enough of the various greens to properly finish the trees on the right. So I went with a darker green for the middle shrub and made a blended thread with the two threads I was using in the darker bush. The bottom shrub is much lighter than the model, but I have a lot of those colors left since the chart shows the trees at the right all stitched with this color rather than banded as the model shows. As long as I get the feeling of the piece correct and use most of the greens somewhere, I think the mood of the stitched piece will be right.

I thought I would get a lot more stitching done here, but I am spending a lot of time reading Neil Stephenson's Anathem, all 900+ pages of it. I am about two thirds of the way through and am still enjoying it. I don't recommend it unless you like a lot of philosophical dialogue. This is a book for geeks about geeks. We are also watching DVDs from Netflix about Spain and Portugal. Yes, we have guide books, but the DVDs give us a good feeling about the scale of the places we will be visiting next month.

My plan is to keep working on Cottage Garden today and tomorrow. On Friday I will switch back to Bothy's Rocket for the monthly Stitch-A-Long and I still have my Christmas ornaments for the trip back to the mainland on Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thank You to All My Readers

I received this award from World Embroideries last month. Thank you Jane and I apologize for not acknowledging it until now. The rules of the award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated.

I have been reading the following blogs for over a year and enjoyed each and every post:
  1. The Musing Badger: Ruth is the only blogging stitcher that I have met In Real Life. I hope to meet more of you someday.
  2. Stitch Bitch: Anna's blog was one of the first stitching blogs I found when I started mine. She has been blogging (and stitching) a lot longer than I have. And has actually finished and framed her stitching. She is a shining example of what I should be doing.
  3. The Stitching Hour: Kendra has worked on some really BAPs, especially Scenic Farm. If you haven't seen this piece, you really should. She reminds me watch the Turner Classic Movie channel more often as we really do like pictures from the '30s and '40s. We also share an interest in University of Kentucky sports.
  4. Stitchologist: Kate lives in Australia. We are both interested in science, museums, and Big Cats. She even stitched me a terrific Abyssinian ornament (over one!) She just got a job for next year in Perth and I am excited to see her picture of flora and fauna from the other side of that continent.
  5. Feather Stitching: Anne has been stitching and blogging for a long, long time. She is a Kiwi. We share a love of L&P (a unique New Zealand soft drink) and stitching with blue thread. I am so glad she left her perilous apartment in Melbourne and is happily ensconsed in Sydney.
  6. Incoherent Scribblings: I first learned about Renee from her postings of the Stitching Bloggers' Question of the Week. Now I can follow her university library adventures in the dry, dry, dry part of Texas.
  7. Sweet Pea Stitching: I haven't been reading Jennifer's blog quite as long as the others, but I am taking her advice to heart; even though we may have received these awards before and even though we may be giving them to someone who has received them before, these awards are meant from the heart and we should share the love as much as we can.
This is not to say that these are the only blogs I read. Heavens! I have 82 stitching blogs in my Google Reader and read each and every post by each and every dedicated blogger. So thanks to you, Edgar and Isabelle and Cyn and Coni and Sherri and Jeanne and Dani and Cathy and Barbara and Chiloe and Lelia and Meari and all the rest of you who are just starting stitching blogs. I would never have stitched as much as I have over the last year without your example and encouragement.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stash To Look Forward To

Just before we left Nevada, I got this stash in the mail. I had even forgotten that I had ordered it. It came from The Silver Needle and I have to say it was beautifully packaged in black, orange, and lime sparkly paper. I might begin to work on it when we get back to Nevada, but I have less than two weeks to get ready for our huge European trip, so organizing and packing may be a better use of my time.

Which is not to say that I haven't been stitching, because I have. I have more done on my interpretation of Michael Powell's Cottage Garden I. On the plane from San Francisco to Maui I even pulled out my decade old plastic canvas ornaments and worked on the backstitching on number four of six. Finishing them is high on my 2008 priorities list and I finally feel like stitching on Christmas motifs again now that it is September. Maybe I can even cut them out and finish them by the Christmas Ornament SAL on September 27 - 28.

I should have time to stitch this weekend, but starting on Monday I have to get to work on learning Dreamweaver and redesigning the website for our foundation. I designed it in 2002 and haven't really updated it much since then. I originally designed it in raw HTML, then moved it to GoLive!, but it is time to update it at least to use CSS and rollovers, maybe even some Flash on the inside pages. I know I can do better than what is there. We usually work on our announcement brochure in October, but we are going to be gone that month, so everything is moved up to September. Since we are in Maui probably for the last time this year, I should also plan to at least stick my toe in the ocean. I look at it constantly, but don't spend much time in it at all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Letting Go

No more whining. Yes, the chart does not match the model. But how many times have we stitchers changed the threads, made a few additions or subtractions to a design, or left an error in because it was too small to matter? I'd like to start designing my own charts and here is a place to start. Look at the model, then decide how I am going to change, correct, and enhance the actual stitching. Though I do wonder what it would look like stitched as charted. Not as good as this, I dare say.

The next design decision is the timbering on the house. The chart calls for two solid colors. The model clearly shows one solid thread and the same thread blended with a darker thread. Neither of those colors seem to be in the kit, so off I go to my DMC stash. First, though, I needed to steal the Q-Snaps from the Rocket so that I could stitch the bottom part of the pattern. I think I will go down the left side (lots of flowers there) because there are different colors there besides just orange or green (or the endless blue sky).

I thought I would be sewing this week, but I need a large block of uninterrupted time. My husband is in classes at Photoshop Expo this week, but since it is here locally at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center, he is driving back and forth. He should be gone for a good eight hours tomorrow. So back to designing and stitching. I hope everyone is having a good week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Good and the BAD

I am glad to be working on this cheerful piece again. It's so much easier to be stitching whole stitches over 27 count than quarter stitches over 32 count. But the further that I get trying to stitch this, the more I find wrong with this chart. The "updated" chart I was sent has only one change (clearing up the confusion about the Z and z) and no changes where the thread called for is obviously wrong.

If you look at the right side you will see the start of four trees. I love how the model has several different shades of green. BUT, the chart calls for the two trees in the middle both to be stitched with Anchor 260 (Laurel Green Light), the lightest color on the right side. In fact the chart shows that all of the trees in the middle right are Laurel Green Light, rather than only the middle middle tree. I have started stitching the top middle right tree with Anchor 215 (Misty Green Light) which is shown in the model. In fact, the more I look at the chart, I find Laurel Green Light everywhere, including on the bushes below the tree on the far left. And this is SO wrong because there are several flower stalks in Anchor 301 (Burnt Orange Very Light) in the middle of that bush. If I actually used 260 there you would not be able to see the flowers there because the contrast with the darker green bush would be missing.

You know where this is going, right? Yes, the kit contains only one strand of Anchor 215 (Misty Green Light) and five strands of Anchor 260 (Laurel Green Light) rather than the other way around. So I am going to run out of 215. I don't own any Anchor threads and I don't know where to get any quickly, so I hope that DMC 320 (Pistachio Medium) is close enough to be a good substitute for 215. And of course, there are other mistakes, like a lot of gray shadows (Anchor 233, Shell Grey Dark) along the edges of roofs even though they are not on the model. At least the roofs are mottled enough that if I run out of oranges and browns I can probably substitute without much of a problem.

Michael Powell Designs does have a forum. I posted my confusion with the chart there and was sent an "updated" chart, but I will return and express my deep disappointment with the complete lack of concurrence between the chart and the model. I have several other Michael Powell kits. I hope that the rest of them bear a greater resemblance to the model than this one does.