Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer Ewe Finished?

Yesterday was a difficult day. Although I am not the chairman of the upcoming convention, my husband is. And although we have both run many parts of conventions, no other fans in Las Vegas has. There are so many things to do and not many people here who know how to do them. But because my husband is a good writer and I know InDesign thoroughly, we designed and mailed an eight page progress report yesterday. After all the copying and stapling and stamping and labeling there was only one thing that I wanted to do. STITCH!

When I sat down and started, I think my blood pressure dropped 10 points. I knew that just a couple of hours would get this sheep finished. He now has legs and all his stripes and three flags. The flags spell out S E A. The only thing I am not sure of is the missing stitch in the bottom left curve. There is no stitch there on the pattern, but it looks like it should be there. I am also not totally positive about the light grey parts of the flags. The fabric on the model is much more tan and the grey flags stood out. The fabric in the kit is pretty grey itself, so the flags don't have as much contrast. I could restitch with B5200 and really make the flags fly. But would that change the muted nature of the piece too much?

Well, off to the next convention duty. The PR team will be here for lunch and I need to shower and get dressed. I hope everyone else is having a restful weekend.

Friday, May 30, 2008

SBQ

Today’s SBQ was suggested by Jan and is:

Do you ever get to a point working on a project that you’ve had for so long, you start to wonder what possessed you to start it in the first place?

Well, actually, NO. I think I can remember exactly why I bought every piece I have. Some of them had motifs I liked (sheep, cats, Halloween) or colors I liked or were bought because I was traveling and wanted to remember this place (France, England). I wish I didn't have any UFOs and have been working to reduce them. Now I have had patterns that I later changed my mind about stitching (too big, too simple, not my style) and those I have given away or put in the back of the To Be Stitched pile, but nothing that I started stitching and later regretted.

So why do I have UFOs at all? Ah, the temptation of the NEW! I have three active projects (Summer Ewe, Hawaiian Mandala, and Rouge) and a dozen Works in Very Slow Progress (not UFOs), but what did I do yesterday? I spent an hour matching Vickie Clayton silk colors to the DMCs and GAST colors recommended for Long Dog Samplers Beautie Spotte. Now I KNOW I can't begin this until possibly next year. I still have a dozen items on my 2008 goals list and a few BAPs (Bothey's Cut-Through Rocket, Cricket Collection Three Gables) kitted up that have been patiently waiting for me. I have no reason to be so attracted to the newest pattern I just got, but that is the way it goes. I am glad I made a 2008 Goals list or I would now have a dozen WiPs just daring me to finish them. I like all my projects, I just want more time to stitch.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SBBC!!!

It must be true that the world is saving the best for last. When we got home last night there was a box for me. "What is that?", said my husband. And I just said, "Stitching Bloggers' Birthday Club!" I know that most of you would be ripping into all the goodies as soon as possible, but I just opened the box and savored all the colorful packages first. It was sent by Margie, who included a beautiful card from Mary Englebreit. Now I am not a much of a lover of country motifs, but there is something about the bright colors and cheerful sayings of Mary Englebreit that I have always loved. The entire package just kept getting better and better. These are all things that I didn't even know I wanted until Margie sent them to me. She MUST have read my mind (not to mention my blog).

First up are some beautiful green tea light candles called "Island Palms". Wow! They even smell great. There was a package of Altoids (boy, do I go through these, especially when flying). Some Petite Tapestry John James needles, some gorgeous 32 count Castle View Silkweaver fabric, and some amazing shell scalloped buttons. But wait! There's more! She sent me Long Dog Samplers Beautie Spotte, which I have been lusting over, even if I don't have an actual wish list. When I opened the Vickie Clayton silks, I simply gasped. How could there be any more beautiful threads in the entire world? Did you see that variegated lavendar at the top called "Acts of Violets". I have been going through the Vickie Clayton colors, but so far have been concentrating on the oranges to one day restitch Trio of Small Pumpkins. I never knew there could be blues so beautiful as the ones she sent me. And as the piece de resistance, she stitched and finished a WONDERFUL pin cushion. You simply have to imagine the outstanding variegated threads this is sewn with. This is entire package is so beautiful and so . . . ME, that I hardly think that Thank You covers how perfect this gift is. I only hope I can be half as good when I send my SBBC package in September. I have a lot to live up to!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh So Close

After we got done packing up most of the photos from the foundation exhibit yesterday afternoon, I got a bit of concentrated time to stitch. I was really hoping that I would be able to finish this last night, but I needed to try to get some sleep so that we could go back this morning and ship everything back to the artists. Still I might finish this today. I just have two stripes, three flag panels and four feet to stitch. This would be the fourth sheep in this series from Bent Creek that I will have stitched. There are probably a half dozen more in the series, but I only have two more of the kits.

Interestingly enough, I stitched most of this listening to the Oakland As beat the Toronto Blue Jays (3 - 1). I used to do all my stitching listening to baseball games. I even listened to the radio at the park when we had season tickets to the As, but I never brought any stitching to the park -- too cramped and windy. When we moved to Nevada and gave up our great seats behind home plate I tried to listen to baseball games through XM radio, but it was not the same. Although they broadcast all the games, the away games announcers are from the home team. Part of the joy of baseball is knowing the announcers and listening to their familiar voices and jokes. It's not the same listening to announcers from the other team. It was also sad that our favorite announcer, Bill King, died shortly after we moved. So it was good to listen to a game and stitch.

Although the convention went well for us, there was much drama behind the scenes. I am pretty much beyond the point of enjoying talking people down from trees, so I have resigned from their board of directors. One less set of meetings that I have to keep track of. I really live too far away from the San Francisco Bay Area to keep up with events here.

I am off to the museum to pack and label the last of the boxes, then back to the loft to pack, and flying back to Nevada (until July) this evening. It will be good to be home again, though I did enjoy buying some amazing apricots (three varieties) from the Farmers Market yesterday morning. I hope everyone's week is going well.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Sheep Returns

Although I haven't had a lot of time to stitch, I did manage to almost finish another section of brown sheep. I'm working on this instead of a Christmas ornament, even though this is the Christmas Ornament SAL weekend because this stitching is fully kitted up and easy to work on in the dim light of most hotel function spaces.

Baycon is going well. My interview of Tim Powers was videotaped. If I am not too embarrassed by it I might put it up somewhere accessible when the editors get done editing it. We also held our last room party EVER. We have been doing room parties for bids and upcoming conventions for decades and it is always my least favorite part of running cons. Now all we have to do is about three months worth of work in the next six weeks and then my husband's Westercon will also be over. It is very good to be here, even if it is during my birthday. I'm pretty much beyond expecting a large party and cake, so I could enjoy having a couple of hours of conversation with Scott and Jane, our friends from Lexington, Kentucky. They travel even more than we do, so they understand the joys and hassles of always being away from home. I just have to pack up the hotel room tomorrow morning and auctioneer the Art Auction tomorrow afternoon, and then we will head back to San Francisco and work on the last mailing for Westercon and a number of email issues. We also have to pick up some art work from two galleries. We will be back in Nevada on Wednesday evening. June will be packed full of projects, most of them not stitching, but I will stitch when I can.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Strawberry Jam

Well, I made my modest Stitch-A-Thon goal of finishing this motif. It may not look like much stitching, but there is a huge amount of backstitching. Not only on the jar, but tons and tons of backstitching on the green ribbon and around the cloth top. I did take a few stitches on the next motif, a heart. But I think that is all I will do until I come back from San Francisco. Tomorrow I will need to kit up the stitching I will be taking with me.

Tomorrow we also need to pack and get the cats ready for the catsitter. Generally packing is not much of a chore for us as we have clothes and toiletries in San Francisco already. But this time we need to take extra things for the hotel and convention. Plus we are running a room party for Westercon on Saturday night, so there are all kinds of party supplies that we will need. (Probably not the stand up Elvis.) Maybe this is the last hotel party we will have to run EVER! Hooray. I like parties in general, but running a party in a hotel is just a little bit wearing after the hundredth time. We have been running hotel room parties for this Westercon since 2004. We are toast. And there are dozens and dozens of things we need to do when we get to San Francisco, besides the convention. No rest for us until the middle of July.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Bit More Rouge

After a few days of Hawaiian Mandala, it was time to move from blues to reds. This next section of Rouge is not so much of a picnic piece. When I finish the backstitching it will say Fraise, French for Strawberry, as in jam. I want to work on this section until it is done, then move on to the next section, a plaid heart. I don't know if I will get back to Hawaiian Mandala before we leave for the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday morning.

Things are moving on the convention here in July; moving slowly, but moving. But the convention we are going to in Santa Clara is having major problems. Although the convention has been running for decades, we are in a new hotel this year. I am not a department or division head, but I am on the board of directors. So I am spending many hours on the phone with different people trying to talk them out of trees. They don't call some people Drama Llamas for no reason! I will try to stitch this weekend, but I don't know if I will actually put in enough hours to call it a Stitch-A-Thon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Q & A

I don't have much to add to this week's SBQ, so I thought I would answer these questions instead.

Why did you start your blog?


I've been stitching for many years, but on a very haphazard basis. I could say I had lots of UFOs, even though I thought of them as very slow WiPS, and not many finishes. I started listening to podcasts and thought about starting one of my own, but when it comes right down to it, stitching is a visual hobby. I thought that a blog with lots of pictures was the perfect way to both encourage me to stitch on a more regular basis and to share what I was stitching with others. It has worked like a charm.

How did you come up with your blog name?

I knew I wanted to finish some cross stitch, but I also do needlepoint and sew. I wanted a name that would encompass everything that you could do with fabric and thread. I also wanted to celebrate my passion, so using the word "desire" points up both the activity of stitching and the passion to expand my stash. I am a sucker for beautiful patterns and beautiful fabric.

Do your friends and family know about your blog and if so, what do they think of it?

Neither my family nor my in-laws are very computer literate. My mother is a extremely talented needlepoint stitcher and designer, but is suffering from macular degeneration which makes seeing anything on the computer screen difficult. My mother-in-law is also a talented needlepointer, but refuses to own a computer. Most of my friends do not stitch, but I do have one friend in Florida who reads (and comments) on my posts anyway.

How do you write posts?

I usually wait until I have some visible progress on a project to show, then post my progress, and possibly a little more about the other things that are going on in my life. This is a life blog, so I might make a post about my new iPhone (still love it) or other things that I am passionate about. Overall, I do try to focus on stitching. I use Facebook for general life status and LibraryThing for book reviews.

Have you ever had a troll or had someone leave unkind comments?

Trolls, no, spam, YES. I use Google Reader to subscribe to 68 stitching and sewing blogs. I also subscribe to comments on my own blog. About a month ago I noticed an odd comment, basically just a link to a website that seemed to be pushing antivirus software, but seemed more like a virus itself. I deleted the comment immediately and reported the blog to Blogger. I got a few more spam/phishing comments, but they seem to have gone away recently.

Do you check your stats?

I used to use BlogFlux mapstats to check where people were coming from and what keywords they were using to find pages in my blog. Now I use Google Analytics, which has a much more interesting set of stats and better maps. When I set up Trade for a Sheep to pass on some of my unused patterns and kits, I wanted to know if people who were reading Threads of Desire were clicking over to the new blog. I am still fascinated with what keywords, rightly or wrongly, point to my blog, but I probably don't check my stats more than once a month.

Do you care how many people read your blog?

Not particularly, but I guess I do get a bit discouraged if my readers seem to have decreased. I am never going to be hugely popular like a political or technology blog. I just remind myself that this is mostly for my own encouragement.

What kind of blogs/posts interest you?

I have sections in Google Reader on Technology, especially Apple; Stitching; a few Political Blogs; and some writing blogs. The only blogs I read on a daily basis are the Stitching blogs. I am interested in blogs that have a "voice", a point of view. I read some sewing blogs by people with interesting lives (though they might not think so). I also read an Australian blog on crazy quilting/creativity, even though I don't crazy quilt myself. I love progress pictures, even just a few stitches. We have all been there, just those first dozen stitches that point to a new start. I like to know what is going on in peoples' lives, though I don't have children and don't have much to contribute on posts about them.

What do you like and dislike about blogging?

Sometimes my husband thinks I spend too much time blogging or too much time trying to finish a section of stitching so that I can blog about it. I just like the pace of reading blogs first thing in the morning, doing some stitching, and catching up on more blogging in the evening. I don't like the pressure of blogging every day, but I don't think a week will go by without a couple of posts from me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Bit More

Thank you for all the lovely comments on the last post. Actually this is not stitched over one. It is 2 over 2 (silks) and 1 over 2 (metallics) on 32 count hand dyed (Silkweavers) Jazlyn. Jazlyn is a very heavy fabric, so the individual threads are not that visible except close up. I wanted a heavy fabric since this is a large piece (21" x 21" when finished) with a lot of jewels and beads (most of the unstitched parts in the center of the cross stitch). I did manage to get into a more normal sleeping pattern. I even woke up before my alarm clock Sunday morning! But last night I again had a lot of trouble sleeping, so who knows what my sleeping schedule will be like the rest of the week.

When I came back to this after not stitching for a few days, I seemed to breeze right through. Although I still have a LOT to organize, I needed some stitching time, so I spent about four hours stitching last night. I even started the last corner motif with some green thread left over from finishing the green in the southwest corner. The next color that needs some attention is black for the border and some interior boxes. But I think I will put this down for a while and stitch something else.

We did get some things done in the last week. On Saturday DirecTv was out and put up a new five band satellite dish. This gave us a bunch more HD channels, but also a new non-TiVo receiver. The receiver has already had some glitches, so I don't know how long we will have television. I'd rather have no television at all than Cox Cable. We also had a meeting at our house with the publicity people for the convention that is barreling towards us. I fed them a lovely spring supper of Baby Greens with Shrimp and SuperSweet tomatoes; Veal Marsala, Flavored Basmati Rice, Fresh Asparagus with Lemon; and Homemade Short Biscuits with Fresh Strawberries. These were some of the best strawberries I have had in years. Some of them were overripe, but it was worth losing a few and get strawberries that were red (and flavorful) inside and not just white and cardboardy. Organizing again today, but maybe a bit more stitching tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

65%

I guess I was mistaken. I thought I would be spending more time on organizing and less on stitching. I have been working on some projects, but I also have been staying up later and later. I find myself stitching from 1 am until 4 am or 5 am. I have always been a night owl, but now I seem to be sleeping late into the day. This has let me finish more of Hawaiian Mandala, but I can tell that I will have to switch over to Rouge soon. Even though I love the color, there is only so much blue even I can stitch before I need some red or green in my life. At least with over 50% of Part One stitched, I can see the end of this part and look forward to Part Two. It has a lot less to stitch. Mainly some golden pineapples and red flowers at the four compass points. Back to organizing again.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Christmas Joy Finished

This is Christmas Joy by Angel Stitchin from the JCS Ornament 2006 issue. I made a lot of changes. The linen is a darker 28 count linen, because I wanted the snowflakes to stand out better than they did on lambswool. For the white, the recommended thread was WDW Snowflake (4125, not 2220 as printed). I used DMC B5200 for the single stitches and Rainbow Gallery Tiara T117 for the large snowflakes to give them some more sparkle. The letters are GAST Black Crow, instead of WDW Mascara (3910, not 1279). because I have some on hand that I am trying to use up. The red is WDW Turkish Red (2266) which I had on hand rather than GAST Cherry Wine (0330). The tree trunk is just DMC 435 rather than Crescent Colours Roasted Chestnut. No need for a variegated thread for just a few stitches. The green border is actually the recommended GAST Pine (120) which I had on hand. And the tree is the recommended Crescent Colors Jolly Holly which I had to order. I should have used DMC 435 instead. The pattern is still cute, but there is too much monotonous stitching with the same colors. I think I am about done with Christmas until November. However, I should stitch one more ornament for May since I am a featured stitcher on Christmas Ornament Stitch-Along. I think I can find a good pattern with candles or candy canes. I love candy canes.

I might not get in any more stitching this week. I have a hundred projects that I have been avoiding for the past month and now they are all looming over me at once. A huge project is catching up on email, especially email on Westercon programming. I also have several packages of snail mail which need to be posted post haste. Then there is the jungle of the sewing room to tame, an interview with Tim Powers to prepare for, the DirecTv unit to replace, laundry to be done, and a myriad of messes small and large to be put to rights. Not to mention that starting tomorrow it is my week to cook. I think much take out is on the horizon. Here's hoping that your projects go smoothly and quickly. Have a good week!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week

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

Do you have any pieces that you would liked passed on to future generations as family heirlooms?

Mmmm, I suppose once I finish Hawaiian Mandala, I would hope that someone would keep it and love it as much as I do, but I also know that that might not happen. Actually I am glad to see my projects used. Maybe it is just when I am there, but my nephew's wife does use my stitched bibs and baby quilt. As for the ornaments and such, well, we don't have children to pass them on to. Our closest (young) relatives are my sister-in-law's children, my nephew and unmarried niece. Both of my parents are only children, so there are no cousins on my side. My sister was married, but only has Borzoi, not children. Maybe I could sew up a dog chew toy. :-)

I got most of the red star on Joy stitched up while waiting for a tuneup and oil change on the car. We are driving to Los Angeles tomorrow for a meeting Saturday morning. It's about a four hour drive. I suppose we could do it in one day, but it makes for a very long day. Generally we either leave very early Saturday morning and spend Saturday night or stay Friday night. We are going to try to leave somewhat early and visit a few art galleries tomorrow, go to the meeting on Saturday, and drive home Saturday evening. I should have a finish to show you on Sunday. I hope everyone has a great weekend, especially since the weather is getting nicer for those of us in the northern hemisphere.