Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tree!

I finished the tree (and all the tangly Crescent Colours thread). There is just the red star on top, the green band, the red border, and a bunch of over eight stars to finish. I need to pick a more complex design next time. Just filling in swaths of the same color is pretty boring.

Maybe I could have stitched a bit more yesterday if I had not spent six hours on the phone with DirecTv. We have been having satellite reception problems since we got back from Hawaii. Yesterday there was no reception at all, so we called -- a half a dozen times. They sent some sort of code to our receiver and viola! channels again. Oops, only half the channels we should have. OK, more codes sent and now we have all the channels we should have. Except this is a DVR (digital video recorder, like a VCR) and it would not record at all. Another call. When I unplugged the unit to restart it, no channels again. Despite unplugging and replugging the Satellite In cable, and changing the output on the dish at the multiswitch; nothing. All the while they are suggesting that we upgrade to their newer receiver (which is the focus of lots of anger about buggy software on DirecTv forums). But we were left with no choice. I've ordered a new receiver/DVR but not from DirecTv. I will have to have DirecTv come out and replace our satellite dish. Luckily the only television that we watch on a regular basis is Lost, and we can see it on abc.com. If this doesn't work, our only alternatives are Cox Cable or the internet. I wonder if the networks understand that they are losing customers because for a lot of people television technology is too expensive and too complex. People just want to plug their television into a power plug and turn it on. My husband often wonders how people less technology knowledgeable than us manage at all in this complex technology universe.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Better

Here is Joy about a third finished. It took a half an hour to frog the Weeks Dye Works Envy. I wasn't exactly following straight lines, so it took a little time to find out where to unpick the stitches next. I really didn't want to go after it with scissors. I was too afraid of nicking the fabric. Yes, the Crescent Colours Jolly Holly is just perfect. Green, but still light enough to let the letters show through. I still dislike this thread however. It still knots like crazy. And although it is a variegated thread, it is not variegated enough to make it worth finishing each cross as I go. I still am though. Force of habit. Just like I railroad everything. Next time I run across a pattern with Crescent Colours I am definitely going to change them for solid DMC (320 is a perfect match for Jolly Holly) or GAST or WDW.

Although I got a lot done last night, I don't think I will finish it completely this weekend. We are still spending some time at Corflu, the fanzine convention. We also have a lot of other projects (like Westercon) that need work, too. There are still two more levels of tree, a large star, the rest of the red border, the rest of the green side panel, and a whole bunch of stars to do. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stash

You know how it goes. First you just need some supplies. In this case, I decided as much as I dislike Crescent Colours thread, if I wanted this ornament to come out correctly, I should just order Jolly Holly and frog all the beautiful Weeks Dye Works Envy that I had stitched for the tree. Yes, unfortunately, the Jolly Holly is light enough that the black lettering will not just disappear. So if I want to finish this ornament for the Christmas Stitch A Long this weekend, I better start frogging.

But, of course, when you are browsing around an ONS, there are probably going to be a lot of beautiful things that you see there also. And if they have sheep, well, I guess I have no resistance at all. While I was so conveniently online, I just happened to spot these three booklets with cute sheep and they just jumped into my cart.

And I also have a weakness for Halloween designs. I had seen this ABC Halloween from Hinzeit stitched up in the Lexington, Kentucky, LNS. I looked all over for the chart, but they were out. Since Hinzeit charts were also on sale at this ONS, I also had to grab this cute flip flops chart, especially since I wear flip flops almost every day, except in Las Vegas in winter and San Francisco most of the cool, cool year.

There has been NO stitching since I got back to Nevada. We went to the Corflu meet and greet last night. I spent a delightful time talking to my friends from Florida, Tony and Judy.

Today James and I have been trying to plan out our trips for the rest of the year. We are trying to decide if we are going to try for 1K status (100,000 miles) on United airlines this year. Most years we are between 70 - 80,000 miles. We have a cruise out of Lisbon, Portugal, planned for October. One more transoceanic trip ought to give us enough miles. We have some time free in September. James is suggesting Bali or New Zealand, and I am thinking about Paris or Scandanavia. We have plenty of time to decide this. Maybe it will just be back to Hawaii. Just because we can travel, doesn't mean we have the energy to do so. But those empty spaces in the calendar do tempt us to fill them up.

As far as the house goes, we now have a new thermostat and a new external DVD burner for James. I still need to call the window guy and the tree guy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Merrily We Row Along

I got another couple of rows done on Summer Ewe. I probably would have done more if I hadn't watched National Treasure: Book of Secrets on the plane. And even more if I hadn't turned the Q-snaps 90 degrees and started half a row with the cross stitch legs reversed. Oh, well. It's not hard to frog on 25 count fabric. I think I will go back to Rouge until I can finish the jam motif.

As I predicted, I didn't sleep on either plane. I wasn't too groggy, but I did sleep most of Tuesday and then went to bed and slept again almost the entire morning. I got up when the doorbell rang. We got our humidifier from Amazon! Now you may wonder why it took us more than three years to order a humidifier. Maybe it's from living too long in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and northern California. In those houses we had DEhumidifiers. But I have had trouble sleeping. The bedding seemed scratchy even with fabric softener. Now I don't think it was the bedding per se, but I do think that dry skin and ultra dry bedding was making me itchy. Hopefully the addition of a large humidifier in the bedroom will bring the humidity up to a reasonable level and I won't feel so itchy all the time.

No matter which house we are in, a lot of time is spent on repair projects. Last night we took my husband's desktop machine to the Apple store to replace his CD/DVD burner. The result? Buy an external burner from the internet. It was way cheaper. Today the air con guy is coming to check out a blower in the back hallway that seems to be constantly on, even when the heating and aircon wall switches are OFF. At least the pool was emptied, the mineral line scrubbed off, and refilled while we were gone. It looks great. Now I need to call a window guy to fix the cracked window in the breakfast room and a tree guy to stake one tree by the side of the house that is leaning on the roof.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Warm Water Wash FINISHED

I stitched this for the April Stitch-A-Thon, but I had to cheat a little. I added the buttons this morning to finish this up. It still needs to be carefully ironed. But I won't be getting back to frame this in Maui before July, so it can wait until then. I still have the sheep I started on the SuperFerry to stitch on the plane tonight.

We usually take a United flight from Maui to San Francisco or Los Angeles in the afternoon and land in Las Vegas around midnight. But we were having a hard time finding a reasonably priced seat on those planes, so we are taking the overnight flight to Los Angeles and landing in Las Vegas before 8 am. I used to be able to sleep on planes, but as I have gotten older, that is simply not happening. So I might drift off for a minute or two here and there, but will probably land in Las Vegas and sleep for most of Tuesday. That's why I don't like taking these overnight flights. But we have nothing we absolutely have to do until Thursday night. This weekend is a fanzine convention in Las Vegas. I am not much of a fanzine fan, but my husband says we need to see and be seen by the local fans so that they will come to our convention in July. There is a lot for us to do before July, but I will be glad to have that convention over with. I don't have any major commitments for working conventions after that. Oh, except for designing the program book for LosCon over Thanksgiving and working the fan table at Denvention for Australia in 2010. And a couple of panels at BayCon over Memorial Day weekend. Stop me before I volunteer again!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Crab

This is as much as I finished in the hotel on Thursday and on the boat yesterday. I finished the crab because he is the only part of the design to use that DMC thread. It's nice to finish off all one thread color in a kit. There is also a cute lobster, but he uses Weeks Dye Works red, which is also part of the flag.

I should have been working on Warm Water Wash yesterday and today. Instead I tried unsuccessfully to install a Sony PS3 into our home theater set. I can get a video image, but no audio. Sigh. I will have to call our installer, who now lives on Oahu. I might not get it set up before we leave. Today instead of stitching I have been reading. That will have to stop pretty soon though as I am running out of the new books that I brought with me. There are a few books here I could reread, lots of Stephen King, but nothing that is really too interesting. I guess the lack of books will keep me stitching tomorrow.

I have been tagged by Ruth:

A) List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself.
B) Tag seven people to do the same.
C) Do not tag the person who tagged you or tag "whoever wants to do it."
  1. I am an introvert. Although I have no problem meeting new people or speaking in front of crowds, I need a lot of time alone. Most of my close friends live far away, but I do see them at meetings and during conventions.
  2. We collect modern photography. We even have a foundation dedicated to modern digital and figurative photography. We have been members of SF Moma Photo Forum for a decade. I have loved the three trips we took with this group to see private collections of photography in Los Angeles, New York City and Paris.
  3. I am a technogeek. I love technology and have lots of techno toys. I keep up with technology via podcasts, Twitter, and Gizmodo.
  4. I used to be a fantastic chef and collected over 700 cookbooks. But as our schedule got busier and we started to travel more, much of our high end dining is now in restaurants and not at our dinner table. Mostly now I cook things that I can make up without a cookbook. I do throw one elaborate Holiday Party in mid-December where I do cook all the food except the desserts which are a group CookieFest effort.
  5. I've lost over 60 pounds in the last three years. I don't have a diet per se, but I do eat a LOT less than I used to. Sometimes I just have one meal a day and maybe a snack of fruit or cheese. I love cheese. Weighing myself every day keeps me focused on not gaining back the weight. If I am up a pound or two I don't worry, but I do cut back on food the next couple of days.
  6. I sleep on my side, with feather pillows. My husband is a bit of a thrasher, so I like our king sized bed in Nevada better than the queen beds in San Francisco and Maui.
  7. I spend around an hour every morning reading news and blogs on the internet. I used to read a paper every morning and now I read the SF Chronicle, the Las Vegas Review Journal, and Google News (with special sections on Las Vegas and Hawaii) on the net. I'm not awake until I finish reading at the computer. I don't drink coffee, but if I want to wake up, I drink Coke.
No, sorry, I am not tagging anyone. I have seen this meme so often (and even answered it once before), that it stops here with me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A New Start

Since I didn't want to take the rather large Warm Water Wash with me to Oahu, I needed a new start. And when you are wondering what to do, what better than another SHEEP! This is the start of Bent Creek's Summer Ewe. He is accompanied by a cute lobster and crab. I can show you a picture of the crab tomorrow. Today I am still processing the hundreds of pictures I took on our ferry ride from Maui to Oahu.

Yes, we left Wednesday morning and got back this morning. I only had my iPhone with me, so I didn't comment or post as much as I do when I have my desktops or my laptop. But overall it was a great trip, with stunning ocean view, a marvelous dinner I yelped about, and a car full of tikis and other shopping that we brought back without worrying about a 50 pound airline weight limit.

This weekend is the Stitch-A-Thon weekend. I think I can finish off Warm Water Wash while James is out shooting this weekend. I didn't take it up before we left. I was too busy packing, washing clothes and reading. I might even get more done on Summer Ewe. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quaker Flower Sampler FINISHED

Here is my first finish since January. I think I really needed a small finish to keep going on my larger projects, like Hawaiian Mandala. I've tried adjusting the colors on this picture, but it is really not true to the actual fabric. The real fabric is a lovely pale true (and not grey) green. The threads are also a bit pale, although I set the saturation higher. Mmmmmm.

I think this angled picture is a better than the last one. The fabric is a bit greener, but the threads still are a bit pale. I think the thread substitutions worked just fine except for the flower right at the bottom. The two different blues are pretty close together. Possibly I should have used some of the darker mauve for the center of the flowers.

Now on to Warm Water Wash. I don't think I can get it done tomorrow. But I should be able to finish it up during the weekend. Especially since James will have shoots on both Saturday and Sunday, leaving me at home without a car. On Wednesday we take the Hawaiian SuperFerry to Oahu for two days. I'm not taking my computer, so I might not be online as much. I will have my iPhone, so I can read and comment, but I doubt I will post anything new. I will be taking some stitching (and some books), but I don't know which pattern I will be stitching on. Maybe I will pull out Flower Fairy again, but I also have a few other patterns with me. I would be good to finish something else this month before I go back and work on Hawaiian Mandala and Rouge again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Jennifer and is:

What is the most complicated piece you’ve ever completed?

I've had to think about this one for a while. But I think my answer is NONE. I have some complicated pieces that I have been working on now, but none of them are finished. Winter was somewhat complex, as I changed the threads and fabric and had to do a lot of testing, but it wasn't very big. Warm Water Wash will be the biggest (in square inches of fabric) project when I finish it, but it was not at all complex, unless you think muttering over the lousy threads makes a project complex. When they are completed (maybe next year), Pineapple Fish and Hawaiian Mandala will have been my most complicated pieces, but neither of them are finished. Still I am happy to see that over the past year I have been stitching on a regular basis. I wouldn't have even attempted some of the complex projects I have now without all the small finishes to look back on.

I did get quite a lot of stitching done on this Quaker Flower Sampler. I'm skipping around a bit because I wanted to see how the colors would look together. All of the colors I will be using are now stitched somewhere except for two more Antique Mauves, one darker than the stitches on the border and one lighter.

I've seen a lot of lovely pictures taken on an angle of stitching. These pictures can really give you a good sense of the stitching standing up above the fabric. Maybe I just haven't found the right angle yet. I still like the straight forward shot better. Back to stitching!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Subverted Paradigm

Sorry, Chiloe. I said I didn't do samplers, but here is my latest stitching -- a sampler. I was looking for a spring design to try my new pastel colors, especially the new to me DMC Variegated threads. Instead I picked this design and changed everything about it. First, instead of solid color letters, I used DMC 4030 (Monet’s Garden) which is not exactly pastel. Then I got rid of all the pastel lavenders and mauves and changed them to colors found in the variegated thread. I even changed the greens from Moss Green to Avocado Green, because I didn't have two of the Moss Greens. Might as well change the entire color family if you are missing even one thread. The best part about this is that I am stitching on some unnamed, uncounted fabric from Silkweavers that I got in their grab bag. Using up stash is always a good thing. I stitched this on the five and half hour plane flight yesterday, but I should have time today to finish the letters and start on the flowers. Maybe I'll start on the flowers anyway. I want to see how the changed colors look. I hope everyone reading this has a good weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

57%

I really wish that I had gotten that last motif at the bottom done before I left, but I didn't. Well, it will still be there when I get back. :-) I can see why people abandon Ch√Ętelaine Designs. Yes, they are lovely, but there is a lot of repetition. I do have the feeling that, "Come on, I've already stitched this motif! Don't you have anything different?" But that doesn't mean that I am going to abandon Hawaiian Mandala. I knew it would take a long time when I started it and am in for the long haul. I am just in awe of people who have finished (with beads!) the five parts that have already been published.

Just as a change of pace (and moving from 32 count to 28 count), I started the next motif on Rouge. When it is finished it will be a jar of strawberry jam. Yes, there are a lot of color changes in there, but it is pretty easy to follow. Again, I left this in Nevada and will get back to it when I return.

We are safely in Hawaii. The flights were uneventful, but I will never get used to getting up at 3 a.m. Even though I tried to get to bed early, I really didn't sleep much, which meant that when we got to the house here, I immediately fell into bed and slept all afternoon. There is now a three hour time difference between the West Coast and Hawaii, so maybe if I go to bed at midnight Hawaiian time, I will be ready to sleep.

We did decide to take the Hawaii Superferry to Oahu next week. We leave on next Wednesday and come back Friday morning. It only sails once a day each way, so we are pretty constrained on when we could go and come back. It's a four hour sail, so there should be plenty of time for stitching. And yes, I did start another small stitching project on the flight over today. I will post pictures tomorrow. I expect I might have it all stitched by this weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We Are Stopping NOW!

Well, I finally have most of my fabric in the database and in my new stacked organizing drawers. There are still some very large pieces (afghan sized), odd kits (a bank, a mirror, a wall switch plate, some coasters), and perforated paper in a separate plastic box. There are also a few unmeasured pieces (unknown count, unknown size). I measured some unknowns, but got tired of doing it. But I know now for sure that I have TOO MUCH FABRIC! I am going on a fabric fast right now. The problem is Silkweaver. They have a sale of solo hand dyed fabrics every Tuesday morning. If the fabric is sparkly or blue or green or all three, I'll probably buy it. The only thing that has saved me from having twice as much fabric is that many of the pieces I like are already sold out by the time I get to their website. But that still leaves me with over 100 pieces of fabric, mostly blue or green or purple. If I buy any fabric at all it should be white or beige. I have some, but not a lot.

I also have a LOT of Aida. Some of it I bought before I decided to never stitch on Aida again. Some of it is from kits, where I replaced the Aida with linen or evenweave. If any one wants some Aida (white, black, blue, ivory), just email me and I will send it to you after I get back from Hawaii at the end of the month.

We leave for Hawaii tomorrow. The issue is what stitching to bring with me. I know I have Warm Water Wash there to finish, but what else comes with? I received a lot of beautiful spring colored threads in a DMC exchange, but when I look through my patterns I find a lot of Halloween and Christmas pattens, but not really anything with pastels or spring patterns. I've been checking some freebie patterns, but nothing tempts me so far. I have to decide soon, especially on what I will stitch on the airplane.

As a bibliophile, I have been hooked an a Flickr group called, the Bookshelf Project. I finally took a picture of the bookshelf in the Master Bedroom and posted it with notes. There are still five other large bookshelves in this house to shoot, but they will have to wait for later.

Back to cleaning the cat room and tidying up the kitchen. It's raining in Maui, but we should have some sunny days. We are considering taking the Ferry to Oahu. We wanted to take it for the shopping when we were furnishing the cottage, but the cottage is done, so other than to take the Ferry for the experience alone, we don't have much we have to do on Oahu except eat in some of our favorite restaurants. :-) I hope this post finds every well and enjoying Spring (or Autumn for those Down Under).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Do you Count?

After a certain amount of searching around, I found some stacking drawers that will work well for sorting linens. But before I put them all away, I want to make sure they are all in my database. So as I was going through my fabric stash I came upon this unopened package of Zweigart Belfast. Now I have been stitching on 32 count evenweave for Hawaiian Mandala and 28 count linen for Rouge. This fabric looked a lot more like the Rouge fabric than the Mandala fabric. After measuring a half dozen times, the best I could come up with for this piece of fabric was 24 count! WOW! I have always just accepted the count written on the package. Now the piece inside is 18" x 18", but with the count so far off, if I had tried to use it for any stitching I probably would have run out of room! This is scary. It makes me want to remeasure all the fabric I have or at least take a look at some of the higher count ones.

Another project that I have been working on has been logging all the books I have read in the past year in LibraryThing, most of them rated and reviewed. I know I read a lot, but exactly how much? Well, since April 7, 2007, I have read 117 books; 96 fiction, 21 nonfiction; 50 science fiction, 30 fantasy, 16 mystery; 9 anthologies. That is not counting several dozen SF magazines, cooking magazines, Reason, and the random cereal box. I have been stitching a lot more in the last year, so the count is down from 150 - 200 that I normally read in a year.

Well, back to the database. We will be traveling to Hawaii on Thursday until the 21th. I have no idea if I will get much rest, but I will be stitching!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

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

What items do you consider essential to your needlework that you keep in your stitching bag?

There are only a few tools that I absolutely need to cross stitch. I can get by with my cat's claw scissors, which are blunt so that they don't damage fabric or thread when they are closed and don't scare the TSA in airports. I also use a Lo•Ran flat metallic needle threader. The small end is good for cross stitch and the larger end can be used for needlepoint threads and needles. The cross stitch needles I use are usually John James Size 26 Petite. I also have Petites in 24 and 28, but end up using this size most of the time. I also tried John James Size 26 Petite Gold Plated, but out of the three I tried, two if them broke in short order, right at the tip of the eye. I am still using the last one for Hawaiian Mandala, but when that one breaks, I won't bother to buy any more. They do seem thinner than the non-gold plated ones. Of course for the actual stitching I need fabric and thread and a Q-snaps frame. I always rinse and iron my fabric before I put it in a Q-Snap. For most projects I just keep the thread loose in skeins in a ZipLoc project bag along with the Q-Snap and the above tools and a copy of the chart.

For most projects I also need my iPod (and Ultimate Ear headphones) and some Altoids (especially when traveling on airplanes). I am an Altoid junkie, but haven't made any cross stitched topped tins yet. Someday. My ipod is filled with music, but mostly I listen to podcasts on technology (Buzz Out Loud and MacBreak Weekly) and business (APM: Marketplace). I also listen to Lost podcasts (The Transmission, with a lot of information about filming on Oahu, and the ABC Official Lost Podcast), Heroes podcasts (The Ninth), and Grey's Anatomy (ABC's Official Grey's Anatomy Podcast [I love Shonda Rhimes voice.]).

Sometimes I can stitch directly from the chart if it is small like the ones from Bent Creek and Lizze*Kate. But if it is at all complex then I need bigger tools. I would rather stitch from a black and white chart. I can follow the symbols better when they are not confused with colors. The first thing I do with a complex chart is to scan it into Photoshop. Then I blow it up into large overlapping pieces and print them all out on 8 1/2" x 11" paper. I then use a single color highlighter (I like the fluorescent ones) to mark off the parts I have stitched. For Hawaiian Mandala I have dozens of sheets for the first part of the design. I'd rather have it "easy to see at a glance" than try to use fewer sheets. Since Hawaiian Mandala also uses dozen of silk and specialty threads, they are kept in Floss*Away bags with their color number and chart symbol written right on the bag. I only have the colors I am currently stitching by me and keep the rest of the threads and beads in their large plastic project bag.

In the case of Rouge, the chart is in color and there are are no overlaps in the charts. The next part I am working on is split between two pieces of paper, so I folded the excess and lined up the two pieces and photocopied the part I will stitch next. I am glad I have a color photocopier (and printer) because this chart is only in color.

If I am working on needlepoint I use many of the same tools, but I also add scissors for metallic thread and a tekobari, a long needlesharp laying tool from Japan. Instead of Q-Snaps, I thumbtack the canvas to stretcher boards. I also have hemostats (small plier like grabbers) for pulling tight threads and various measuring devices. I won't even get started on all the tools I have for quilting!

It's taken me a couple of days to get this posted. We lost our DSL and it took a while to get tech services to narrow down the problem. We needed a new modem which we got this morning. Boy, I thought modems were immortal. At least I mailed the 177 Westercon program participant invitations before we went dark.