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.