Thursday, January 31, 2008
The small vertical lines at the bottom are the start of a sand castle. When I finish this post I plan to go back and work on it some more. The sand castle is about in the middle of the pattern. I will move the fabric in the Q-Snaps so that I can stitch the right side of the pattern when I finish the sand castle.
I tried to take a picture of the sunset this evening, but there weren't many clouds, so it wasn't very colorful. At least I got a picture of some of my favorite palm trees. These are foxtail palms with their very distinctive, bushy fronds. I hope everyone is keeping warm. The snow level is down to 7000 feet on Haleakala. They had to close the road to the park because so many people were driving off the edge of the slippery roads.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I'm glad this is so easy to stitch, otherwise it would be a UFO in short order. I dislike the Crescent Color threads. They are soft and shreddy. They are somewhat variegated, so I am stitching each stitch one at a time, but not enough variegated that it adds a lot to the image. The pole has a stand, but the colors of threads chosen make the pole stand and the beach sand blend right together. I also did something on the plane that I had not done before. I lost a needle. One second it was on my fabric and the next it was gone! I looked around as best as I could, but could not see it anywhere. Oh, well, I did pack a bunch more, so no problem, but it did seem odd. I am going to continue stitching this until I finish it. I can probably finish it during this trip since I am determined to rest and not try to do too much.
Maui is cold and rainy. Since we have been in a three year drought, we appreciate all the water. What is even more amazing is that the hundreds of acres that burned right next to our farming area is now covered in new growth. If you didn't know there was a fire here six months ago, you would never suspect this was new growth. Wow! The only downside to the "cold" (in the low 60s at night) is that most Hawaiian houses have no heating systems. I don't even have a pair of long pants here -- strictly t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. Our landscaper came by to discuss a few issues and his wife was bundled up in a sweater and fleece coat! I know it is not the snow and ice that the mainland is dealing with now, but it is pretty brutal for the balmy Hawaiians -- not to mention the poor tourists that were trying to escape the cold on the mainland. It's supposed to rain pretty much through the weekend, but it may get all the way up to 80 F next week.
[a short break to view the sunset]
I've had Apple laptops pretty much since they started making them. I remember that my first one only had a black and white screen. For the most part I have just used them for traveling; load up my email and use the modem for dial up. When I went home I put the files back on the desktop. I would never have considered using them as my primary machine. But with traveling as much as we are now and having my iPhone synced to my MacBook Pro, I'm finding that for most things all I really need is my laptop. I used to use the card reader and Photoshop program on one of the desktop machines, but I just got a really, really small USB SDHC card reader and now I can do it all on the laptop. All I need to do is to hook a larger screen up to the laptop (which is really, really fast) and maybe hook up the USB numeric keypad once in a while and would I still need a desktop? Time will tell.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Since we are leaving for Maui tomorrow, I needed to decide what stitching I am going to take with me for two weeks. I have Flower Fairy (last stitched on in December) permanently in my "To Go" bag, but I wanted something to stitch on the plane and something new to start.
For the plane I decided to take Warm Water Wash. I haven't worked on this since October. Although I looked for something else to finish, in the end I just grabbed this because it is easy to stitch (a real necessity for flying and stitching) and it is already kitted up. I wanted to find a larger Q-snap for it, but since I have been working on several patterns now that don't completely fit in a Q-snap frame, I am a little less worried about snapping over the stitched parts.
The new pattern that I decided to start is Rouge comme..., a French pattern from Madame la Fée. I also bought this and kitted it up for the red, black and silver months of Project Spectrum, but discovered that two months is barely enough time to finish one cross stitch much less two. Once I get this on Q-Snaps, it should be fairly easy to stitch, so I can stitch it on the flight back if I finish Warm Water Wash.
Since both my husband and I are still under the weather, I told him that except for a few small chores that we need to do at the cottage, we are going to REST (and stitch) during this trip. We need it. Well, time for bed, the taxi will be here at 5:15 am.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Not only did I finish the cross stitching, but I also added the ladybug charm and the red bow. They certainly livened up this basically monochromatic piece.
And because this was a full kit including finishing instructions (and I had already finished an ornament like this last year), I also finished/finished this! So. I have a third finish for this year. I have a Christmas ornament stitched for the Christmas Ornament SAL this weekend. AND I have one of my 2008 goals finished (finishing this WiP). Lots of good outcomes from just a small ornament.
Our friends, Elayne and Joyce, spent this weekend with us. It was really good to have them here. We have a nice guest room and we really love to have people use it. The meeting on Saturday went well. We addressed, stamped and mailed 3000 postcard reminders for our upcoming science fiction convention, Westercon. I just wish that I had a little more energy. I'll need some as we still have to finish entering all the applications for our foundation grants and pack for our trip to Maui on Tuesday.
Looks like rain is in our future. It rained in Las Vegas last night and will be raining in Maui when we get there. I won't complain about that since we missed the rain in San Francisco and both Maui and Nevada need more rain.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Yes, I have had two finishes this month! And both of them were Bent Creek Sheep, "Boo Betty" and "Smitten" Ewe. Quite a difference from last year when my first finish was in February. But I don't count on any more finishes this month unless I surprise myself and finish the Hillside Samplings Christmas ornament that I am revisiting for this weekend's Christmas Ornament SAL. Since we will have guests staying with us this weekend for the Westercon meeting on Saturday, I probably won't get too much stitching done. But at least one of our guests is also a stitcher, my friend Elayne. So we should get some stitching done in the evenings. Now -- back to cleaning up the sewing room so that Elayne will have a place to sleep!
Have you had a happy dance yet this year? If so, tell us about it! (Or just point to the entry that mentions it.) If not, when do you predict it will be?
Monday, January 21, 2008
I have a few more photos from MacWorld. The first was my favorite time at MacWorld. Leo LaPorte runs the TWiT (This Week in Technology) network. My favorite podcast from him is MacBreak Weekly. At MacWorld they had a live MacBreak Weekly podcast, so I could see the participants as well as just hear them. It was great putting names with faces.
I also have a few iPhone photos of the MacBook Air. Apple had some empty cases strung from the ceiling to show just how thin this laptop is.
It is quite elegant, but there's not enough power under the hood for me.
I love my computers and I love the software I run on them. But I do not love Adobe Software. Every software product we have is paid for and licensed. We have been Adobe customers since Photoshop 0.9. I have used PageMaker at least that long (decades) and now InDesign. In the second to last major upgrade to Adobe software (CS2), they started actively checking online for a valid serial number. They allow two copies of the software to be run at once. Fine, there are only two of us, so we never run more than two copies at one time. Now when we moved from house to house we had to remember to DEACTIVATE one copy of the software in Nevada and ACTIVATE another copy in San Francisco or Hawaii. Not a problem. A pain (especially when I forgot to do it), but not a real problem. I agree that software companies should be allowed to take steps to prevent software piracy. But today when I went to deactivate my copy of CS3 on my laptop and use it on my desktop I got the error message that Deactivation Failed. Their website was totally useless and gave no hint why deactivation would fail. So I had to call customer support, only to have them tell me that I had deactivated my software too often. WHAT?!?!?! This never, ever happened with CS2 in the hundreds of times that we activated and deactivated their software. They are now claiming that you can only run the software on two computers when you briefly TRANSFER a copy from one computer to a new computer. You are not allowed to run one copy of the software on multiple computers. WHY NOT? There is only one of me. I am not giving out copies to my friends. They can even CHECK to see that I am only running legally ACTIVATED software. I am running one paid for copy on one computer AT A TIME. To say I am angry is an understatement. In fact, I am ready to transfer all my Adobe files to other companies. Considering that we have spent thousands of dollars on Adobe software and now to have to deal with this is unconscionable. I strongly recommend that anyone contemplating buying ANY Adobe Software seriously rethink this decision.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Today’s SBQ was suggested by Outi and is:
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I always have my iPod (or iPhone) next to me when I am stitching. There are dozens of podcasts that I subscribe to and I am up-to-date on most of the technology ones. My favorites are CNET's Buzz Out Loud, TWiT's Mac Break Weekly and This Week in Tech. I also listen to American Public Radio's Marketplace (business news), Tim Goodman's Bastard Machine (television news and criticism), Grey's Anatomy, The Ninth: A Heroes Podcast, and a couple of random food shows.
What is your favorite past time while stitching? Do you just enjoy silence, listen to music/audiobooks or do you “watch” TV/movies? Do you have specific favorites you listen to/watch while stitching?
I just can't watch television or movies while I stitch. I like the theater experience when I watch, so we demand complete darkness and concentration on what's on the screen. We never have the television on randomly. Everything we watch is TiVo'd or from DVDs. I will say that I have stitched when the television is on an Oakland Athletics baseball game or a University of Kentucky basketball game, but since both of these teams have been pretty wretched the past couple of years, it's been a long time since I have done that. When we were Oakland Athletics season ticket holders I did stitch a lot while listening to baseball games on the radio. But when we moved out of the Bay Area four years ago, it became more difficult to find them on the radio. I tried XM radio for a while, but didn't like to listen to the road games being announced by the rival teams announcers. Part of the experience of listening to baseball on the radio is the ongoing stories told by the voices you have become familiar with over the years.
I mean to try listening to an audio book while stitching, but since I have so many podcasts queued up, I doubt that will happen anytime soon. I'm also a pretty fast reader, so have been impatient with listening to someone else read a book. And speaking of podcasts, I'm back off to MacWorld to sit in on a live podcast of Mac Break Weekly.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
And relaxing is just what I need right now. After two days of feeling pretty good, I was again laid low today. I went out for lunch and thought I would catch some more MacWorld this afternoon, especially a talk on Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and photography. Instead I stayed in and sent my husband, the real photographer, who was very impressed and excited about some of the new features in Leopard. We have been putting off upgrading to Leopard because it finally drops support for System 9 applications. We still have files in that old format. Those old programs already don't work on my newish MacBook Pro, our first Mac with an Intel chipset. For a long while Adobe products were not fully supported on the new Intel chips, so that was another reason for a slow approach to the newer Apple technology. But it is time to update those old files and commit to Leopard.
As far as MacWorld goes, we got off to a very rocky start. The media hasn't reported it as much since they all got preprinted media badges, but the registration system totally failed. The website told us to go to Moscone's South Hall. The West Hall would be closed until after the keynote address was over. I read some live blogs about the keynote, especially Engadget, and was ready to walk over by 10:30 am. The South Hall was deserted. Yes, there were large signs saying "Get Your Preregistered Badges Here", but there were no machines installed and no people handing out any badges there. This was really a problem, since rather than send you your badge in the mail, as has been done for years, they wanted you to pay $25 to do this. So now everyone needed a badge made while they waited and apparently they hadn't staffed for making more than a couple of badges an hour. Back over in the West Hall, there were THOUSANDS of people milling around without a clue. There were no lines, no ropes and stanchions, no organization at all. I got in a bunch, certainly not a line, of people who thought they were waiting for badges. We waited and waited until there started to be some movement towards a desk were badges were being created. No one there seemed to know exactly what they were doing, but somehow they finally made me a badge. Had we been soccer fans we probably would have burned the building down by then. I was very cross since I had mostly missed the one presentation I had wanted to see on Tuesday. I caught the last ten minutes and wandered around the rest of the West Hall. Most of the exhibits there were for music, games, and photography. Although there were a few interesting booths, the most interesting thing on that show floor was the miniature photo studio/lightbox that was meant to be used in shooting small 3D objects. When I told my husband about it, he promptly went and bought it to shoot his collection of tiki mugs.
I then went over to the main South Hall and checked out some of the larger companies' booths. Although I didn't get to my favorite products, like Canon cameras, Filemaker software, and Epson printers; I did buy a bundle of small applications and checked out several speaker systems. I also sat through a very good presentation on Photoshop from an O'Reilly author. Tomorrow I will finish seeing the rest of the South Hall and go to two or three presentations.
People seem to be somewhat disappointed in the Apple announcement at this MacWorld. A friend of mine who writes pirate romances wanted to know about the new MacBook Air. This is what I told her, "Yes, there were lots and lots of Air machines to play with at MacWorld. However, we come from the land of Big Iron. I used to think that a computer that couldn't support 40 simultaneous users was wimpy. Even now the next computer we will buy (in a week or two) will be the newly announced 8-core MacPro with dual Superdrives. Which beats buying a dedicated DVD burner. When you are a Photoshop (and iMovie) geek there can never be enough RAM and never fast enough CPUs. Also interested in the new AppleTV and the Time Capsule." My big Apple announcement came during CES. A faster machine may not be as sexy as an iPhone, but when you depend on software like Photoshop that takes bigger CPUs and more RAM in every version, you can only hope that the hardware guys keep up. Yes, I did download the new iPhone software, so now I can make my icons wiggle and move them around, but that really won't be useful until there are more software applications to run. I am impressed with the new Google Maps application extensions that can now tell where you are (by wifi cross referencing, not GPS) and even shows real time travel flow on major highways. Since we have always been an Apple household, I am just glad our toys are getting better and better.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
So what stitching did I bring with me? I looked at several Michael Powell's, but all of them seemed a bit large to start on now. I thought about kitting up some JCS ornaments, but I was just too tired. No, I was not feeling much better this week than before. I think I was worse off; at least I know I used more Kleenex. Which also means that all the projects I had to get done before we left, were not done. I am going to have to start a round of apologies to people I made promises to. At least I got up early this morning, flew to San Francisco, helped James change the tire on the car here and shopped for groceries. That is more work than I have done in the entire past two weeks! I'm a little tired, but not nearly as bad off as I was yesterday. And I have another Bent Creek Sheep, the valentine one, to keep me company here. All I did yesterday was wash, iron, hem, and Qsnap the fabric. I haven't taken a single stitch yet, but I should have some time this evening (if I don't just fall right asleep until tomorrow morning). I do have to get up early tomorrow morning and get my hair done. After four years in Nevada, my hairdresser is still in California. I have to use her when she can fit me in, so 8 a.m. we will be in San Carlos so that my hair will not look like a whirlwind hit it for MacWorld.
MacWorld conferences start tomorrow, but Steve Jobs doesn't give the keynote speech until Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST. I'll watch via the internet. I don't have the kind of MacWorld pass that lets you actually sit and listen to him live (since I don't work for a company willing to pay the thousands of dollars to do so). The exhibition hall opens at 11 am, directly after his speech, where the Apple booth will be demoing all the neat things that he mentioned. I have been perusing the show materials and have some booths scoped out. We will be here until Friday, so there will be plenty of time to see it all. I hope everyone has a productive week ahead. I just ask for a little more energy.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I've already mentioned that Michael Powell's Mini Christmas Window I was my favorite stitching piece from last year. But that doesn't mean that I like the Bent Creek sheep any the less. They were a lot of fun, just not as challenging. I also am proud of my stitch selection on the Pineapple Square Needlepoint, but until it is finished/finished, it is just sitting in a dark drawer.
What was your favorite finish of 2007?
I've put in a few more hours on Hawaiian Mandala, but not enough more to show much progress. I'll take another picture when I have finished the current band of stitching.
I spent a short time at CES on Tuesday, but wasn't feeling well enough to walk around much more. So I came home and stayed home for the last two days. I watched the Wednesday Buzz Out Loud broadcast via streaming media, so didn't miss anything except the possibility of appearing in a blurry video for a second or two as an audience member. My husband went to CES yesterday and picked up some schwag, but didn't see anything particularly noteworthy. So far the most interesting things there won't be available for sale for months. I can just keep track of tech on engadget and gizmodo. But next week is MacWorld and there will be things for sale there! I am in the market to buy some more iPod speakers. We have one set of small JBL speakers in Hawaii, but I want a set for here. Sometimes earphones aren't practical.
Other than that I am working on a lot of computer projects. I am documenting a database for programming conventions to send to the head of worldcon programming this year. I am also entering information and evaluating submissions for our foundation grants. Which means not much stitching until San Francisco next week. We have no television there, so there is time in the evenings for stitching.
Monday, January 7, 2008
I have mentioned before that I rarely stitch without listening to my iPod. And my favorite podcast is Buzz Out Loud from CNET. Here are the hosts, Molly Woods and Tom Merritt, doing a live podcast from the show floor. I got there early and got a seat up front. I'll be back again tomorrow and Wednesday.
This is Jason Howell, their producer. He also makes comments from time to time, but has to keep his eye on the sound board.
Besides wandering around and ogling the many shiny tech toys (like the 150" plasma display screen from Panasonic. Yes, it really is clear and detailed...and large.), I also enjoyed listening to CNET's panel session on The Next Big Thing. This year they talked about Automotive Tech, Mobile Computing, and Television Delivery Systems.
In keeping with the high tech flavor, they gave most of the audience these wireless voting wands. At various times in the presentation they asked the audience multiple choice questions and had them vote. In less than a second there were video graphs of the answers. If only we could count election results so quickly. I'll be back tomorrow to watch the Buzz Out Loud taping and check out the Blu-Ray players. Now that Blu-Ray has probably won over HD-DVD, it's probably time to buy a Blu-Ray player.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I have sympathized with all the bloggers (and other people) out there who are suffering with the winter season colds and flus. But I have also been glad to have survived Los Angeles and Boston without bringing home any bugs. Our trip to Lexington was not bug free. James' sister had the end of a rather nasty and lengthy cold and now we seem to have it. For the past week we used enough Kleenex to make the Kimberly-Clark company profitable. I tried to do some stitching, but ended up frogging too much of it. In fact I have spent most of the past two days in bed sleeping as much as possible. It seems to have helped somewhat as I am less groggy than I have been, but my nose is still running like a faucet. I can't take any of the normal decongestants because of high blood pressure. At least I can take ibuprofen and cough syrup without decongestants. James has been plowing through paperwork, getting ready for our 2007 taxes, even with his cold.
I wouldn't mind so much if CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) was not starting tomorrow. No, I am not working the floor, but I do enjoy going and plan to be there tomorrow. I probably won't go the entire four days, as I still have lots to do here at the house before we leave for San Francisco and MacWorld next Sunday. The retailers say that they sold tons of electronics for the holidays, but we always leave our electronics shopping for January when we discover all the goodies at CES and MacWorld. I know we will be buying a new Mac desktop after MacWorld, but don't know which one it will be. We always hope for new models at MacWorld, then buy the discounted "older" models. I know James is looking forward to a new iPhone release, so he can buy one also. I will try to get some more stitching done on Mandala during the next week, but won't finish part one in January.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Today’s SBQ is:
Yes, I started something new. Although this online pattern and class started December 1, there was just too much Christmas stitching left to do to stitch this in December. So I started Hawaiian Mandala on January 1.
Are you starting something new to celebrate the New Year or participating in “Guilt Free January?” If so, what are you planning on starting?
After I mentioned that I was struggling with the amount of fabric I had to deal with, a commenter wondered if this was going to be such a hassle should she start this at all. Yes, this a quite different than a pattern that you can finish in a weekend or even a pattern that you can finish in a month. What you see here is only 5% of the stitching in the first section and it doesn't even include the beads and gems that will cover all the empty spaces in the design so far. But I took on this project as a challenge. I wanted to do something that was BIG, something memorable, something that not everyone would ever do. I love the geometric nature of this section. I can stitch one section and just copy the stitching in other sections without looking at the chart every five seconds. I love stitching on the Jazlyn fabric, which is even and heavy enough to support all the gems and beads it will eventually have. I love stitching with all the silks. They are so great to work with. I love the colors -- azure and hyacinth and crystal bay. And even though there are now two sections published, I don't feel the pressure I have felt in the past of "getting the pattern stitched and moving on". I know that I will have this around for at least two years and I am going to enjoy it, even if I am the last person in the online class to finish it. So if you like the pattern and can commit to a very long schedule, then why not stitch this? I know some stitchers who have several BAPs going at once. I am happy to just stick to one at a time.
And speaking of challenges. in my growing need to use up some of my fabric stash, I have signed up for a quilting class, Your First Art Quilt. It is just one day, February 16th, at my local quilt store. I went there today and signed up and bought the workbook. Now I will have to read the book and decide what I want to stitch. The finished object will only be 20" x 20", so I should be able to finish it in a day as long as I don't go into too much embellishment.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
So this morning I finished Boo Betty Sheep (and owl friend). Except for the fact that I have never seen a green sheep, I really like this one. I especially liked stitching all the orange. It is such a cheerful color. Now that this is finished, I need to start something new.
First up on my list of 2008 Goals is Hawaiian Mandala. I had already downloaded the first section of the chart and printed it out, but it still took me a couple of hours to figure out all the symbols and what threads they indicated. This was a lot harder than most of the other charts I have. There are over 50 symbols and threads from six different manufacturers. I wanted to be absolutely sure of every symbol and every color, since this is not a design I want to frog.
I picked out the first six colors and prepared the fabric. I have decided to work the first section on a 8" x 14" Qsnaps frame. I might have to work the farther sections by hand as I don't have a scroll frame large enough for this project. Even in the Qsnaps, this is like stitching an afghan. There is just so much cloth! The number of stitches this will need does not really bother me, but I wonder just how I can handle all this cloth, especially once I start beading and adding the gemstones. I don't know if I will ever get a picture of an accurate color of the fabric. It is an odd shade of opalescent gold green. I like it quite a lot, but it's never going to photograph decently. This project will never travel, so I will also have to decide on a project for San Francisco/Los Angeles in a week and a half.
I probably won't have much to post in the next week. I really need to start working on cleaning up the sewing room (again), so that a guest can stay there at the end of the month. Starting Monday is CES (the Consumer Electronics Show). We will be at the Las Vegas convention center for much of the week, then going to San Francisco for MacWorld the following week.