Friday, February 29, 2008

30%

With the motif in the northeast corner of the first part done, I can say that I have about 30% of the first part done. Yes, there is still some black to complete along the top (and a row of gold around the entire design), but I can leave those for later and still move on to the next motif in the southeast corner. Actually these are tricky motifs. The motifs on the north, south, east, and west are bargello lines (mostly beads which I have to skip) and should stitch up pretty quickly.

I could say that there is 31% or 32% done as I have started on the southeast motif when I ran out of stitching areas with the colors in the northeast corner motif. I even have one line of Silk 'N Colors Pond Scum (beautiful silk, crazy name) started in the southwest corner.

The Christmas SAL has chosen the suggested motifs for March (Sheep, Snowmen, Trains). I guess I will have to find an ornament or two for March. Actually one of the suggested designs is Ewephoria by Mosey 'n Me. The interesting part about this pattern is that although the stitching is defined, the fabric and threads are not. I am already thinking about using Designer's Dream for the sheep's body. Should I do one in pink? or maybe green for St. Patrick's Day? The rest will probably be Weeks Dye Works variegated colors. I'll decide the colors after I pick the fabric. Mmmmm, 7.64 inches wide at 28 count. Not a small ornament. I also need to check my JCS Christmas ornaments magazines to see what I can find in sheep. If I can find a sheep ornament in JCS, then I will be stitching towards my 2008 Goals of stitching at least two JCS ornaments this year. I have ALL of the Christmas ornament magazines, but have only stitched one ornament from them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Rachel and is:

What is your cross stitch weakness? (i.e., What do you have to have when you see it, even if you are supposed to be on the Wagon?)

That's an easy one -- SALES. When I see items 10% or 20% or 30% off, I will succumb to buying something. Right now I am waiting for a package from Laurel's Stitchery in New Mexico. She is moving her ONS to Virgina and is having a sale to clear out existing stock. But I don't buy everything I can just because there is a sale. I usually have a plan in mind, even if when I get my order the plan goes out the window. This more often happens with sewing fabric as I will buy it thinking I will make a blouse or a purse or something and then put the fabric in a plastic tub to "mellow" for a while and later forget why I bought the fabric at all. I am a hopeless fabric junky. But for stitching, I might buy something from a favorite designer (Michael Powell, Mirabilia, Bent Creek, Lizzie Kate, Raise the Roof, or other more contemporary designers), something with sheep (what a surprise!), or something for a present (like the opossum I did for my mother-in-law). I used to have a severe Ebay habit, especially for threads, but I have one of all the DMCs and most everything from Rainbow Gallery except their very newest lines like Bamboo. I also object to Ebay's new policies and am boycotting them. So if I can just avoid the Sales signs, I can stay on the wagon. That's not likely, is it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Have A Tomato

I have done some more stitching on Hawaiian Mandala, but after looking at all the great finishes that online stitchers have completed this weekend, I felt the need to "finish" something. So I thought an hour or so of work on Rouge would be enough time to finish off the tomato. And here it is (minus a row or two of tablecloth). I even did the backstitching. I'm glad I changed the thread on the highlights from White to 353. They are still highlights, but no longer so stark. I'll probably move to the upper left hand motif (directly above the tomato) next. That would be the ladybug, though the ladybug is larger than the tomato!

In other goals, I did finish off the programming database, then spent ten hours testing different programs trying to email it to Denver. I think I have sent it, but I'm waiting to hear back from them before I check it off the list. I will probably snail mail a disk to them, too. Tomorrow is recycle day, so I am going through old papers making sure all the bins are full. Yes, Barbara, I did get to the store and get shrimp, bean sprouts, peas, and green onions to go with the pork and water chestnuts I already had and made fried rice last night. It was very tasty, which is good, because there is so much left over, I will probably be eating it for the next two days. I also got some yakisoba for soup as the high desert evenings are still pretty chilly.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Almost A Peacock Feather

You can start to see the peacock feather-like motif that goes in each diagonal corner. Most of the empty squares will be filled with an Algerian eyelet stitch when all the cross stitching is done. I am not looking forward to that. The stitching is already pretty dense around them. There is some Evergreen Petite Treasure Braid stitched along the diagonal, but there is still Turquoise, Silver, and Gold to be stitched.

The best part is that the dark black stitching is almost the border of part one. There is just one row of gold metallic beyond that. I hope to finish all the diagonal bits in the next week. But that depends on what else I am working on. This week is the Christmas Ornament SAL, but I don't have an ornament picked out. I may just skip it for this month. I really want to keep working on this.

Then there are all the non-stitching projects I have laid out. I still haven't been able to guilt myself enough to work on the programming database. Every day I say I will work on it, but somehow I get distracted by anything else. This morning it was the Kentucky - Arkansas basketball game in HD. I haven't watched a single game so far this season and this one was nationally televised. The schedule was set before Kentucky tanked the first part of this year. There is still no guarantee that they will be invited to the Dance. They need to do well in the SEC tournament. Next I need a shower and to go out and get some groceries. I have a craving for homemade fried rice, but I need some ingredients. I hope you all are having a productive weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

BAPs

Now that I have finished the central motif, I'm starting on the four diagonal motifs. There are also four horizontal and vertical motifs. This first page of the design covers almost every stitch. What is blank now will be filled with beads and jewels at the end.

One thing about BAPs is that you cannot just pick them up and put them down. You cannot stitch them for just five minutes. After being away for a while, it takes five minutes just to make sure you are using the right threads for the right symbols when you have to deal with a hundred different materials. You can not guarantee that you will have much visible progress even after an hour of stitching. This is several hours of stitching just from last night. I thought I might get one of the motifs done, but there are so many different threads, I am constantly checking the pattern and the materials list.

I do know that I am enjoying stitching this. I love watching the complex design take shape. I love working with the silks and metallics, just as long as I remember to treat the NPI silk like a metallic and knot it on the needle. Boy, is it slippery! I love having several uninterrupted hours stitching. In fact, I could probably do nothing but stitch this for the next six days.

That is not going to happen. I've taped my list of Things to Do up in the hall and I am making myself read it every time I pass by. I've finished cleaning half of the kitchen and am going to work on cleaning up the convention database next. I promised to send a copy to Denver over a month ago and never had enough energy to work on it. I am feeling incredibly guilty. Once I get that emailed, I will allow myself more stitching time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Tomato

I haven't made much progress on Rouge over the past week. My time has been mostly spent on reviewing the last of the entries for our foundation grants and preparing for the gallery show that starts next month. Not only that, but I needed to take a bit of time out to find some replacement thread colors. There are a number of highlight stitches that call for simply White. Against the reds of the fruits and vegetables of this pattern, white is simply too stark. I have been auditioning some light pinks and light corals to use instead and have come up with 353. It's interesting to be stitching this mostly red and green pattern that has nothing to do with Christmas.

But even with this motif unfinished, I am switching over to Hawaiian Mandala for the next seven days. There are now three parts published and I haven't even finished half of the first part. Though there is some question about how much I will get done even with some dedicated stitching time.

I mentioned that James was flying to Maui today. I took him to the airport at 5 am this morning. He is an photographer and has been to Burning Man (a huge campout/arts festival in the Nevada desert) several times and has really enjoyed it. I have enjoyed his photos from there, but there is no way I am going to suffer a week of dust and heat and walking around. When we were in Maui we stopped by a art gallery owned by a friend of ours from California. She said that James would really enjoy Maui Burn, a similar campout/art festival on a much smaller scale, that is happening this weekend. I urged him to go as I know he wants to be more involved in the Maui art community. But there was no reason for me to go with him. Instead I am in Nevada working on a HUGE list of projects from cleaning up my computer desk, to email, to backing up computer files, to cleaning up the pantry, to going through boxes of papers, to packing up clothes to goodwill, to finishing my art quilt, to sewing something for my nephew's baby who will be one year old March 11. James always gets tired just looking at his list of things to do and I am trying not to be afraid of mine. :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Full Report

Ruth asked for a full report on the art quilting class and here it is. I get a newsletter from Quiltique, a very good quilting shop and Berina dealer in Henderson about once a quarter. I've looked at a lot of their classes, but I can rarely join a class that meets more than once. I am also not really interested in taking a class on traditional quilting. I might make a traditional quilt (with some very untraditional fabrics) sometime, but I have a LOT of books on quilting and don't really need instruction. But when I saw this class on Your First Art Quilt and it was scheduled for a day we were actually in Nevada with no other meetings planned, well, I signed right up.

The class was going to cover material in Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. I took the book to Maui in order to get started with the Exercises, but as with most projects that I took to Maui, I never opened the book there. Like most good procastinators, I opened the book Thursday night and started some of the exercises Friday evening. The one thing that I knew I needed for the class was a photograph to use as a starting inspiration. It had to have strong graphic lines and not too much detail. After much dithering around I picked this one:
I have a ton of green fabric, even some orange, but strangely enough, no yellow. So off to JoAnne's (conveniently having a President's Day Sale) for some yellow fabric fat quarters (and a few green. You never know). I also got some beads for the stamen. After washing and ironing a ton of fabric, picking out some Maderia thread for quilting and the center part of the flower and packing up my sewing machine and supplies, I was ready for the class Friday night.

I got up early and even had a shower. I got to the store before it opened at ten. The class was supposed to have twelve students and that's all the seating that was available. As it turns out, only eleven people turned up, and I ended up with the empty seat next to me. I shouldn't have worried about reading the book. Everyone had a copy, but I doubt anyone else had actually opened it. What was most interesting was that all the women in the class except one were not quilters. They made handbags or did stamping or were art majors looking for other artistic outlets. Two of the women came all the way from Laughlin.

The instructor had been doing art quilts for a long, long time and was really trying to get more art quilters in the Las Vegas area. She's going to have a hard time. The two art majors sat behind me. They were both from Boston, only in Vegas because of their husband's jobs. Both of them could not wait to move back east again.

The class started out with a discussion of art basics; color, line, size, shape, value, balance. and texture. The instructor had dozens of examples. She even had a series of six small quilts (8 1/2" x 11"), all inspired by the same photograph of poppies against a dark rock wall. Each quilt had a "rocky" dark background, red flowers and green leaves. The first two were quite abstract. She was trying to show that a photograph could be an inspiration even if you don't copy it exactly, but only borrow the colors or shapes. What she wanted us to do was to take a single sheet of background fabric, put fusible webbing (glue) on other pieces of fabric, then cut the fused fabric into shapes and iron the fused fabric onto the background fabric. That's not what I wanted to do, of course.

I wanted an artistic looking quilt. I wanted to make a frame for the flowers, then spill the largest flower outside of the frame. So I started fusing and cutting. You actually need to cut the reverse shape from the fused fabric, so a couple of petals were cut the wrong way around. I also needed to double up the fabric behind the overlapping petals as the edges of under lapped petal was showing through. Once the petals were fused and cut, I needed to sew the frame. This was all done by eye. I still don't know what the finished size will be.

Is it still called frogging if you are ripping seams? I was thinking ahead of the project, so I sewed the top two pieces to the middle piece before sewing the side panels. Whoops! Rip the seams, sew the side panels and go BACK and sew the top and bottom panels. Although the class was supposed to last until 4:00 pm, by 3:00 pm the natives were getting restless. One woman had already left. The rest were packing up. We did a quick display of what we had finished (not much for most people) and described what we had to do next. Of all the quilts there, only one of them was at all interesting -- an abstract of the Old North Church in Boston with several photos on fabric. Some evaluation sheets to fill out and we were done.

My husband says there are three reasons to take a class: 1) To get off your duff and actually learn/work on a project you know you need/want to do, but are not doing on your own. 2) To meet like minded people, and 3) to learn something from others. This class definitely covered the first point. I might not be able to work on this again before James leaves for Maui for a week on Wednesday (I am not going with him), but I will finish it while he is gone. Either I finish it or throw it out. No quilting UFOs! The second objective was not met. Several people came with other friends and I did not actually meet any like minded people there. The instructor was experienced (she saved me from making a horrible error by using some red fabric I had brought and steered me to the lovely purple) and was very, very helpful to everyone there. But I really didn't like her quilts. They were all overdone, twee, and messy. As the sample above, I like geometric, bold, and simple. I do think I learned several things. I'd like to continue with the workbook and maybe go back and practice basic quilting, but I don't know if I will take another art quilt class unless it is with Ruth B. McDowell. She's my inspiration.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Loretta and is:

Do you have any projects that you have scrapped and started over? What made you start over from scratch?

I have only one project that I partially abandoned. This was a Twisted Sister pattern of three very small pumpkins over one. The picture on the front of the brochure is very lovely, but the threads called for do not match the picture in the slightest. I also concluded that stitching over one on linen is foolish. The individual threads are just too variable to get an even design. I do intend to start this project over with Vicki Clayton silks on evenweave, but I have not started it yet and might not get to it this year. I have two other big projects scheduled that will take a lot of my stitching time this year. Someday this cute pumpkin will be turned into scissors fob.

No stitching today as I am assembling my fabrics and supplies for the art quilting class tomorrow. This week has been so busy that I am running out of time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Back in Nevada

I promised a picture of what I stitched on the airplane on Monday, but frankly I didn't do a lot. I was restless and moved from reading, to stitching, to watching the movie, to listening to my iPod, to stitching, to reading. I also found that the 11" x 11" inch Q-snaps are just a little to big to stitch comfortably on a plane, even in first class. I will stick to 8" x 8" Q-snaps for traveling from now on. Basically I just finished the green parts. I stitched the beginning of the tomato today...twice. At first I was two threads over to the left. I usually don't have to frog so much, but not this time. I thought that I would move back to Hawaiian Mandala when I got to Nevada, but I have decided to leave it be until next week. Tomorrow I want to gather up all the materials I will need to attend the quilting class on Saturday. If I am missing any supplies, I want to get them in plenty of time. So for a while I will just keep stitching on Rouge on and off during the day. In the evenings we are catching up on what we have TiVo'd and Netflix movies.

One of the pleasant surprises on coming back to Nevada are the packages that came in the mail while we were gone. I was very glad to see this Michael Powell kit from Stitching Bits and Bobs. I ordered it months ago and was afraid that I was going to have to harass them to send it to me. Now it will become my traveling stitching, although I am not planning another trip until we go to San Francisco at the end of March to hang the foundation show. I also got my Amazon UK order with the latest from Iain M. Banks and Jon Courtney Grimwood. Hooray!

Also in the mail were these two HUGE grab bag packages from an LNS that was going out of business. There are a ton of kits, patterns, beads, threads, fabric, stretcher bars, and needles in each package. I really haven't had time to evaluate it all, but I am sure I got ten times what I paid for it.

The only problem with a grab bag like this is that there is a lot there, especially patterns and kits that I will never use. Now I have to decide exactly how I am going to "recycle" these goodies to homes that will appreciate them. I don't need to sell them and I am not sure that I can give them all away equitably, so I am thinking about a swap, Trade for a Sheep. If you have any sheep patterns I don't have and you don't want, I'll trade a couple of these patterns for a sheep pattern. Of course this could be easier if I traded for Quaker patterns or samplers. :-) I just like the name, Trade for a Sheep. But that also means photographing and describing all of these before I trade them away. I'll need to think about this for a while. If anyone has any other ideas, I would be glad to hear them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Done for Now

I did finish the bottom two thirds of Warm Water Wash. It now has a complete bucket, towel, and basket. The two funny sticks in the sand will some day have a button bird attached to them.


Although I did finish one word at the top, I still have a sun, WARM, and WATER to finish when I come back in April. It should only take a couple more hours. Then, of course, comes the framing. I don't know if there is anyone on Maui who can frame cross stitch, though there are plenty of poster framers. I might end up framing it myself.

We are off to the airport, so I'll post tomorrow and show you what I managed to finish on the airplane. Happy Days!

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Castle, Clothespins, and a Shovel

I am working away at this. If it is not finished when we leave in three days, at least it will be 90% done. That blue square down at the bottom is about to become a bucket of sand. I also have to finish the towel, but I did work on it last night. The last major motif is a picnic basket at the bottom of the pole. Then I will move the Q-snaps again and finish the sun and words at the top. If I do finish this, I will be taking the left over Crescent Colors threads back to the mainland and sending them off in a craft swap. Never Again! I'm sure I could have substituted Weeks Dye Works for most of these and it would have been a lot easier to work with. Even with untwisting and working slowly, the pink is knotting up almost every other stitch.

Yesterday was the first really sunny day since we have been here. It is grey again today, but it hasn't really rained since Monday. It is cool, but pleasant. When we get back to Nevada, we should be moving into the best part of their weather season, the slowly warming spring. Since we got a reasonable amount of rain there, I hope the plants will be happy.

Just because we are a palm farm, they aren't the only plants we have on Maui. This is an Island Girl hibiscus. Yes, they really are quite large. We have quite a few of them, but since they are recently planted there are just a few blooms here and there.

I want to thank everyone for their well wishes on my health. I am slowly recovering and feel much better today. That is good, because we have a lot to do in the next two days. I also want to thank Jennifer of Sweet Pea Stitches for awarding me:
That was very sweet and just what I needed to cheer me up. I know a lot of people have gotten this award already, but I do want to call out to my faithful commenters; Kate, Ruth, Meari, Edgar, Renée, Jeanne, Barbara, Isabelle, Itching to Stitch, Dani, Kendra, and Dawn. Thank you one and all for making my day, my month, my year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

This week’s SBQ was suggested by Kathryn and is:

Are there other crafts that you have tried and abandoned? Why do you like stitching better?

Well, since I asked this question, I better answer it. :-)

Crafts? Mmmm, I have some stamps (and even some embossing powder), but I have never really considered myself a stamper. I have a silk screen kit for t-shirts, but I have never used it. The same with my tie dye kit. I did do batik a long time ago and even used a purse I batiked for a long time, but I couldn't say where my wax and pipes are now. I have done one piece of stained glass, but that is an expensive hobby. My husband has been encouraging me for years to start metal sculpture just because he likes it. How crazy is that! I have made salt bread sculpture, but it was eaten by weevils. I am not much of a memorabilia saver (and have no children), so no scrapbooking here. All of these crafts take a lot of space or a lot of time and don't travel well.

I own a crochet hook, so I must have crocheted something in the past, but I have no idea what. It certainly wasn't anything as large as an afghan. I did knit a nine foot scarf in college for my then boyfriend. When we broke up, it came in handy waiting on the oh so cold El platform for the train in the dead of the Chicago winter. I have a lot of friends who knit, but I live in Las Vegas and Hawaii! When would I ever wear a sweater or socks? I don't even wear socks in Nevada in winter, though I do change from sandals to closed toe shoes. I even have a friend who does lace (and tries to teach all the rest of us). Too fiddly for me and when you frog you are unwinding YARDS.

I have made one quilt and am taking an art quilting class on the 16th. I am really looking forward to the class, but I don't know if I have the space and time to make a lot of quilts. I am not going to hand stitch or hand quilt anything. Machines rule! I do want to sew more things this year, but probably won't start much of anything until July. I've even been thinking about learning picture framing, so that I can frame some of my stitching. I have framed things previously, but I would have to buy a lot more tools to do this on a regular basis.

So I need a hobby (besides books and cooking) that can travel, is lightweight, doesn't take too many specialized tools, can be taken up and put down quickly (and left unfinished for years if need be) . . . Mmmmmmm, sounds like stitching to me. And it has fabric (my passion) and bright colors and, let's see, sheep!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Don't Forget Your Towel

(for fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

I know I started Rouge, but I came back to Warm Water Wash because I intend to leave it here in Maui when I go back to the mainland. I don't know if I will get it completely finished, but since I intend to frame it here and hang it in the laundry room, I'm not going to take it with me, even if it isn't finished. But between now and next Monday I will try to get as much done as I can.

I didn't do much today except stitch a bit and watch the movie Stardust. It was another sick day. If I had a real job, I probably would have been fired by now. Instead I am just tired and hungry. I hope I am better tomorrow.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Blogoversary

I want to thank everyone who has ever read a post on this blog, everyone who ever left a comment and all the stitching blogs out there that inspire me every day. Even if I don't stitch every day or write every post about stitching, I know I would never have stitched all the good things I have done this past year without this blog.

Yesterday, I did move my Q-snaps on Warm Water Wash even though I didn't quite finish all the stitching on the sand castle. After the hat and all the sand, I was just really bored with tans and browns. So I finished the swimming trunks and started the last item on the line, the pink towel. I stitched late into the night, but today I wanted to start a new project in honor of my blogoversary.

So here are the first stitches in Rouge comme... I have no idea why the image looks brown rather than red. Believe me, this is DMC 498, a rich vibrant red. I love stitching with DMC threads again. Compared to the Crescent Color threads, DMC threads are so smooth and strong. And not being variable colors means that I can also stitch several understitches left to right before going back over right to left. Warm Water Wash has more than a few miscrossed stitches because I wasn't paying attention. Well, I'm not entering it into any competition, so the little errors probably won't be noticed by the people who view the finished stitching in my laundry room. :-)

I think I have probably rested enough. Starting tomorrow I have to get back to working on some of the projects that we came to Maui to work on. We need to hang three sets of blinds in the cottage. We need to decide on some window coverings for the main house and finally install the wireless doorbell that has been sitting here for months. Tonight my project is putting together my husband's new computer. So I leave you with another sunset picture. May your Sunday be pleasant and restful.