Monday, March 31, 2008

Thank you, Barbara!

Barbara had an unbirthday and decided to stitch many small (and beautiful) items for the people who read her blog. I was one of the lucky commenters. Since she knows I like to read as much as she does, she sent me this great stitched bookmark and a lovely paper and ribbon bookmark along with a beautiful postcard of painted eggs. I'm sure my husband will be glad to see me using this bookmark rather than strewing my books around the house with random items stuck in their pages. Although I do have some bookmark kits and plain bookmarks I could stitch, I am pretty hooked on q-snaps and don't do much freehand stitching. Thank you, Barbara! I have an Amazon order of books arriving on Wednesday and I will start using this right away.

Not much progress on anything today. I went to Aaron's and Michael's looking for an "art cabinet", something with many shallow drawers, to keep my linens in. The big plastic tubs are just not working. They are great for my threads, but are too deep for linens. I keep having to dig to the bottom, leaving linens randomly scattered across the sewing room. I want to put all the linens and evenweaves of a certain count in separate drawers. James has a gorgeous print cabinet in his print room, but guess what? It's filled with prints. No room for my fabric. I'll keep looking online.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The "Picnic" Piece

Jean of Just String calls this the "picnic" piece. I suppose the three motifs I've stitched so far (tomato, ladybug, and cherries) could all be seen at picnics, but the rest of the motifs -- not so much. The entire motif of Rouge comme... by Madame la Fée can be seen here. On the new table cloth I have started there will rest a jar of jam, followed by a heart, some rose hips, a poppy, and a mushroom. I finished most of this motif before my last trip, but I still had some backstitching to do to call it finished. I probably won't get back to this for some time. In fact, there might not be a lot of stitching in the next day or two.

Most of today was spent working on programming for Westercon. I hope to have all the invitations for the first round of guests emailed by tomorrow. We are also almost finished watching the last (fifth) season of The Wire. We have loved that show since the very first episode. I hope everyone had a restful (or productive) weekend.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

For Anna

I said a couple of sheep patterns might have jumped into my bag of necessary floss. Well, here they are. The first one is a pattern that I first saw on Anna's blog. She did one like this a long time ago. This one has been updated. There are more sheep and a festive garland, but I still love it.








The second one is more serious. It has very some very serious looking sheep on it. I doubt that I will stitch the entire pattern, but there are instructions to make individual sheep ornaments. I really want to do the cute Shropshire with dark feet and face.

Tomorrow, a present from a wonderful person!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dilemna

I started this on Saturday, but stopped with the letters and part of the border done because I didn't like the colors of dull green I had chosen for the central tree. On Monday I went to my favorite LNS to get a substitute thread and came up with Weeks Dye Works Envy, which was the bright color I was looking for. I've stitched some with it, but now I am worried that the black letters are fading into the tree because Envy is too dark. It will only get worse because there is a lot more tree. I could frog it all and go with the Needle Necessities thread shown above. I had originally picked that out for the tree and then became worried that there was too much blue/turquoise in this thread. The Crescent Colours thread I am substituting for, Jolly Holly, has some blue, but it is more grey blue. I suppose I could go with the lighter, duller colors (Six Strand Sweets Green Tea or WDW Kudzu) I had originally rejected. The darker green on the border is GAST Pine as called for. In the meantime I have returned to stitching on Hawaiian Mandala while I decide what to do. No pictures of that until I show significantly more progress.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

When you stitch a pattern that you have downloaded do you print out the pattern or do you stitch directly from your computer screen?

I don't think many of us stitch directly from the computer screen. Computer lighting and computer chairs are not very conducive to stitching. It's even somewhat uncomfortable to watch movies on a desktop computer screen because we are used to sitting back to watch and sitting forward to use a computer. Printers are cheap, even if the inks can be expensive. We even have two printers. I print on the cheap black and white printer as much as possible. That said, I rarely even save the computer files for freebie designs. I have so many files on my machines to keep track of that adding more will only make them forgotten. I don't download many freebies at all. If I do see one I like and it is a PDF, Firefox will open the PDF in a new tab in my browser. I print that directly and don't save anything on disk.

WARNING: The Weeks Dye Works Blackberry thread that I used for the house is a discontinued color. I bought ten skeins when I found that it (and several other colors I liked) were discontinued. I know there is some available in certain stores, but it might be a bit hard to find.

Mary from Tennessee was suggested by her LNS to use a lot of Crescent Colours threads for a BAP and now is concerned that she might be in for an unpleasant experience. All I can say is trust your own experience. Jo at Needleworker Not in Paradise is quite fond of Crescent Colours and uses them quite a lot. My first experience with them was with Warm Water Wash. I have to admit that I came into this project with a bad attitude. The ONS that I bought this from took FOREVER to send me the fabric and after all that wait, one of the threads was totally missing. I didn't want to get a replacement from them as I had had enough trouble just asking after my order. And I couldn't get a replacement thread from an LNS because the piece is in Maui. You are lucky to find expensive DMC in Maui, but forget about any specialty threads. And forget about ordering them from an ONS and getting them in less than a month. I just substituted a Six Strand Sweets that I had that was close enough. I found that the Crescent Colour threads I had were soft and knotted during every length. I was more disturbed by the fact that they were not nearly as variegated as was shown on the stitched model. If you go to this post and look at the sand castle you can barely make out the door and windows which seem very prominent in the model. When I went on to my next project using DMC threads, I was relieved that it was so much easier to stitch. It was was not my imagination that I had a ton of problems stitching with that batch of Crescent Colours. Now I am not saying that every batch of Crescent Colours is bad for your method of stitching. But I would certainly try a small sampler using these threads before I bought a ton of threads that I had never tried. I find NPI silk will always slip out of my needle's eye if I thread the needle normally. But if I anchor the thread in the eye as you would for metallic threads, I love stitching with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Goal Completed

At the start of the year, I made a list of goals. One of them was to stitch two ornaments from my extensive collection of Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues. Although I have not "finished" finished them, I now have two ornaments stitched and one partially stitched that I should finish this week.

In keeping with one of the March themes of Sheep in the Christmas Ornament SAL, I stitched Winter's Eve from Country Cottage Needleworks from the 2006 JCS Ornaments magazine. Of course, there were a few substitutions. :-) The most significant one is that the pattern called for Crescent Colours Blue Moon for the house and border. Not only won't I use Crescent Colours, but I found the pale blue house to be dull and boring. I was thinking about a brick red house, but when I took out my threads I was captivated by Weeks Dye Works Blackberry. And I have to say I enjoyed every stitch of this luscious color. It is good enough to eat. It does make the border stand out more than the pale blue did, but it's a worthwhile trade. I also traded B5200 (which for some reason I have a ton of, more than will fit in a Floss*A*Way bag) for the plain DMC White called for. And to make it extra authentic, I used Rainbow Gallery's Designer's Dream 100% wool for the sheep. I love working with this extra fine wool thread.

I also went to my favorite LNS, The Status Thimble in Burlingame, CA, yesterday to buy a replacement thread for Joy. I ended up with Weeks Dye Works Envy (and a lot of Needle Necessities that was marked down because it has been discontinued). And maybe a couple of sheep patterns jumped in my bag as well.

I am pleased that I have finished two of my nine goals for this year. Of course this leaves two big ones, Hawaiian Mandala (I only have to finish eight of twelve parts, but I haven't finished part one yet) and Bothy's Cut-Thru Rocket, which I won't start until late July. I also have a few sewing goals that I want to start on this week. Well, I better shut the computer down and get ready to go to the airport. Back to Nevada this evening.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ta Da!

On Friday I finished stitching Lizzie*Kate's Happy Holidays from the 2006 JCS Ornaments magazine. I didn't change too many of the requested supplies. For the fabric I used Sugar Maple Fabrics Slimey Limey, for the snow I used Rainbow Gallery's Tiara T117 twisted metallic thread and for the snowflake I used Mill Hill's Glass Treasures 12035 glass snowflake rather than Lizzie*Kate's
metal snowflake. Mmmm, I guess that means the only requested supplies I did use were the Weeks Dye Works threads Holly and Curry. This was pretty simple to stitch, but will be a bit trickier to finish. The edge calls for 544 green and 31 silver beads in a twisted cord.

During my long, long meeting yesterday I got this much done of Angel Stitchin's Christmas Joy from the 2006 JCS Ornaments magazine. I also got the new nickname of The Stitcher, though I have stitched during these meetings before. Here I admit to changing everything except the pattern itself. To start out with the two Weeks Dye Works threads they call for have the wrong color numbers. Snowflake is 4125 not 2220. Mascara is 3910, not 1279. Although I have most of the Weeks Dye Works threads, I don't have those two, so I used GAST Black Crow (1040) for the lettering. I'm trying to use this up since I can see very little difference in this and regular DMC 310. The border is supposed to be GAST Cherry Wine (330), but I didn't have any, so I am using WDW Turkish Red (2266) The wide green border is GAST Pine (120), which I did have. The fabric is a lovely tan Lakeside Linens Wood Smoke. The main Christmas tree is supposed to be Crescent Colours Jolly Holly. But since I won't stitch with Crescent Colors, I tried using Six Stand Sweets Green Tea, but Wood Smoke is a bit darker than the Lambswool linen called for, so that green is too dull to show up well against the fabric. I also tried a line of WDW Kudzu. Again too dull. The picture in the magazine shows a really vibrant green. I am going to stop stitching this for now and go on to my last ornament. Tomorrow I will go to a LNS and pick another thread for the tree. I have nothing scheduled for today, so I intend to spend all of my time stitching.

The past four days have been full of activities, but all of them have turned out well. The flight to San Francisco was uneventful. We always enjoy our yearly meeting with our foundation lawyer. We hung the show Thursday, had docent training on Friday morning and a reception on Friday evening. Five of the artists in the show turned up, some with their models. Saturday I dropped James off in Half Moon Bay for his art show reception and headed down to the Santa Clara Hyatt for a Baycon (regional science fiction convention) board meeting. I've been attending these conventions since 1983 and have been on the board of directors for a decade. It was good to see old friends. Today James and I had a picnic on the roof of our San Francisco condo (sunny but with a chilly wind). Tomorrow we have a few small errands and on Tuesday afternoon we fly back to Nevada. How much stitching can I get done before we leave?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Am Not a Gardener

In fact, I have no idea what this plant is. It's in our front yard and it is blooming. Very pretty, though. Notice the gravel. The West (of the United States) is defined as the part of the country that gets less than 10 inches of rainfall per annum. In Las Vegas we get 4 inches. And the humidity is usually around 10%, very dry. When we moved into this house the Home Owners Association insisted that all yards must be covered in grass. The Southern Nevada Water District will pay you $2 per square foot to remove grass. Eventually the HOA saw the error of their ways and allowed homes to remove the grass. We took all the grass out of the front yard. It faces west and gets scorching heat during the summer. We also removed the grass from the left side of the house, which has no windows facing it. Our water bill has gone down from insane to somewhat unreasonable.

We also have blooming rosemary in the back yard by the pool. It is blooming beautifully right now. But this is Nevada and I am in San Francisco right now. Foggy, chilly San Francisco. We have a very urban condo here, so having plants is not an issue. We are here so infrequently that it is totally impractical to keep even potted plants here.

But what I do have here are three kitted up Christmas Ornaments from the JCS 2006 magazine. I am set for the Stitch-A-Thon (and Christmas Ornament SAL) weekend and quite excited about these patterns. One has a sheep! I also brought Flower Fairy and am determined to finish some of her white dress. And because I would hate to run out of stitching, I also brought the Michael Powell Mini Christmas Windows II kit. Yes, there are some really nice LNSs here, but so far Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are totally booked from dawn to dark. And who knows what we will need to do on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday it is back to Nevada.

I borrowed this meme from Barbara.

Four movies I’d watch again
  • His Girl Friday (1940) or any '30s or '40s comedy with snappy dialog. I also love The Palm Beach Story, My Man Godfrey, and The Thin Man.
  • Independence Day. OK, I know. It's a silly movie (so is Deep Rising and Serenity). I love those, too. I love a lot of science fiction novels, but very few movies.
  • Primal Fear. I love many, but not all, Richard Gere movies, but this movie has an amazing performance by Edward Norton. Edward Norton is such a terrific actor I would watch him reading the phone book.
  • Best In Show. No I never showed dogs. But I did raise and show cats for twelve years. When people say the exhibitors in this movie are unbelievably over the top, I say, "No, this is an honest and restrained documentary." I've known exhibitors much more eccentric. This is one movie where I literally ROFL.
Only four? I have dozens of five star movies on my Netflix list.

Four places I’ve lived

  • Christiansted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
  • Eugene, Oregon, USA
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Moss Beach, California, USA
Again, I could quadruple this list and still not mention them all.

Four TV shows I watch
  • The Wire (HBO)
  • Lost (ABC)
  • Heroes (NBC)
  • Mad Men (AMC)

Four places I’ve been
(I’m assuming this means been, but not lived)

  • Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Odessa, Ukraine
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Gleneagles, Scotland, UK

Four things I love to eat

  • Foie Gras
  • Heirloom beets with goat cheese and walnuts
  • Grafton Farms Maple Smoked Cheddar Cheese
  • Sourdough bread, especially Grace Baking Sourdough Walnut and Beckmann's

Four places I’d rather be

  • Four Seasons Hotel, Bali
  • George Cinq Hotel, Paris
  • Plaza Hotel (overlooking Central Park), New York City
  • On a private sailboat in the Caribbean

Four things I look forward to

  • a successful Westercon in Las Vegas in July
  • our Seabourne cruise to Portugal, the Azores, Morocco, and Spain in October
  • losing another 50 pounds
  • joining the Century Club (100 countries visited. I'm up to 60+)

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's All About The Borders

I thought that I would just work on the borders a bit, then go back to Hawaiian Mandala, but as you can see I got involved in the next motif, Cherries, and finished the leaves and branch. I probably will finish off the fruit, too, though I should go back to Hawaiian Mandala. I have just today and tomorrow to work on it. On Wednesday we fly to San Francisco for a week and Mandala does not travel.

I like the colors in this pattern, since unlike Chiloe, I do like green. I'll need to find some new things to stitch in San Francisco since this weekend is the Christmas Ornament SAL and the Stitch-A-Thon weekend. I'd say that whatever I work on will probably have a Christmas theme. I could start Michael Powell's Mini Christmas Windows II, but that is a little big to count as a ornament. I have started looking through my JCS Ornament issues, but haven't decided on anything yet. I keep being drawn to things that are too big for ornaments. I really need to find something smaller so I can have a finish in March. Instead I find myself wanting to start complex projects like the Miribilia Christmas trees. I have enough WiPs, I don't need more.

There really hasn't been much to blog about this past week. I find myself sleeping a lot lately, including long "naps". There are a lot of email and projects that I need to work on. So I better get in gear and start working on them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

45%

I thought I was going to finish all the diagonal motifs before I came back to the horizontal and vertical motifs, but as you can see I seem to be doing this entire pattern clockwise.






I must admit that the diagonal motifs are a lot harder (and a lot more picky) than the horizontal motifs, especially since the horizontal motifs have a lot of blank space where I will have to go back and stitch a whole bunch of small beads when I am finished with the rest of the stitching. At least you can imagine what the entire page will look like when I finish this section. Martina has published the first four parts. Part Two (pineapples) and Part Four (hibiscus) seem to have a lot less stitching than this first part. Part Three (volcanos) seems pretty involved. But as much as I like stitching blues, I will be glad to move on to the next page. I don't know if I will stitch more on this tonight or go back to Rouge.

My database cleanup work is coming right along. All the DMC and Mill Hill items are up to date and I am actually entering in a few patterns and kits. I even "prettied up" some of the screens. What I haven't done is entered all the pictures of the patterns. I'm still working on cleaning up the pictures for Trade for a Sheep so I can add the last of the items.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring!

I know that a lot of you Back East are still suffering from a long and snowy winter, but for a week or two here in Nevada it has started to feel like spring. We live in a highly plant restricted community (we love our house, but hate our HOA), so there are not a large variety of trees or bushes that are allowed to be planted. But in the circle in front of our house are four flowering plum trees that are really beautiful for a week or two (until the high winds blow all the petals away). I took these pictures a couple of days ago. It is really nice to see these flowers, as the high desert is not a good place for most of the usual flowering plants like roses and zinnias.

I have been stitching on Hawaiian Mandala but I don't have a picture to show you yet. Maybe tomorrow. I have also been inspired by Jennifer and Allison to get back to updating my FileMaker stash database. I now have all of my DMC threads properly updated. I probably should work on my fabric stash next. I hesitate to work on my patterns as I have entered only a few so far. Entering all the pattern information (fabric, threads, etc.) will take a long time.

Well, maybe I will post this today and maybe I will have to wait until tomorrow. I have tried to upload the tree blossom pictures half a dozen times now and each time Blogger/Google fails. I guess I will go back to tidying up the kitchen and family room. I'll pick up James from the airport in a couple of hours. He's been in San Francisco staging a art gallery show with some friends of his. We will both be in San Francisco on the 19th to stage the art show for our foundation.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

After you stitch a pattern or kit, what do you do with it?
Well, a lot of what I have stitched so far has come from a kit. I don't really feel comfortable offering up a chart for a kit, especially a kit with a lot of specialty charms or beads. So for right now I just throw the chart in the drawer with all the stitched, but unfinished items I have stitched. I would be glad to give a used chart to the first person who asked for it, but so far no one has asked.

There hasn't been much stitching around here in the past two days. Blogger has been cranky, so it has taken me almost all day to upload ten more patterns to my Trade for a Sheep blog. If you like samplers, birds, dogs or Coca Cola, you might see something you would like.

Since tomorrow is trash day, I spent a lot of today working on cleaning out my closet. Unused clothes and shoes are going to Safe Habor (a shelter for battered women). Most of what I threw out was from an old rubbermaid tub full of cosmetics. I swear there were some lipsticks in there that I haven't seen since college. Out goes the old perfumes, eyeshadows, half used skin creams, and even a ton of unused lipsticks. Every time we move I can clean out a lot of papers and clothes, but it is the small stuff that just gets put in a bin and dragged to the next house. A friend of mine had a jewelry manthom (a get together where you bring stuff you don't want and can take home other people's stuff that they don't want) last year, so a lot of my costume jewelry went to that. I also went to her cloth and stitching manthom and got rid of some old kits there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wanna Trade?

Yes! I have finally created a new blog, Trade for a Sheep, to post my unwanted kits, patterns, and threads. Right now I just have the first six kits posted, though I have unprocessed photos for a dozen more patterns. Every item is in a separate post with information about the Manufacturer, Designer, Size, Fabric, Threads, and Extras. Every picture is clickable to a larger size.

You can contact me by clicking on my profile where you will find my email address. I am pretty open to trading most anything. I don't need to trade a kit for a kit or a pattern for a pattern. Do you have some silk thread you won't be using, some unused fabric? I am open to pretty much anything. Just email me what you want and what you are offering and we will go from there. I hope these can all find good homes.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Big Bug

Once a week I just have to turn away from Hawaiian Mandala. The 32 count tightly woven fabric with its carefully counted blue and blue green threads just gets to be too much. So I have come back to Rouge and finished the ladybug in the past two days. The square is not completely finished though. The pattern shows a scattering of light green stitches randomly in the background. The linen I am stitching on is so open that I don't want to cross inches of fabric with DMC thread and I don't want to try to do singleton crosses. Too many of my singleton crosses have become undone. I suppose I could put a drop of glue on the back to hold them together, but I am thinking about using beads and invisible beading thread. I'll decide what to do when the entire pattern is stitched. There are four of the eight squares that have randomly scattered background stitches.

I said that the bug was bigger than the tomato and here you can see that it is. I probably should stitch more of the border before I move to the next square. To the right of the ladybug is a mushroom (with a lot of confetti stitches) and below the tomato are cherries. I'll probably do the cherries when I return to this next week.

But I won't have a lot of time for stitching in the next week. Today we need to finish packing up the returns for the foundation, so that we can drop them off at the post office tomorrow. Tuesday I drop James back at the airport so that he can fly to San Francisco for meetings and doctor appointments. While he is gone I really want to finish the mini art quilt that I started in the quilting class. And I need to find a present for my nephew's baby who will be one on March 11. I hope everyone had a restful weekend.