Sunday, March 29, 2009

When Stitching Fails

I knew the thirty plus satin circles on the octopus would be a challenge. I just didn't know it would be a challenge that I would do anything else to avoid. I started the first few circles with great intent, only to allow Real Life to interrupt me at every turn. Even when I tried to distract myself with the easy green running stitch, I couldn't go back to the circles.

Instead I watched even more episodes of The West Wing. We are almost through the fourth year. I read dozens of books (as you can see on the book list on my sidebar). We opened escrow on the property we are going to build on, had our first design review (the HOA loves the design, but the retaining walls are going to be a problem), and fought the picayune Compliance Department at our stockbrokers to actually get the money transferred to the escrow agent. Yes, we now own the property.

We also flew to San Francisco to hang our annual photography foundation show. After three years of hanging some pretty avant garde figurative photography, the museum director decided to ban two pieces in the show this year. To not disappoint one of the grant winners who was flying down from Portland and the other nineteen artists in the show, we decided to hang the show anyway and purchase the banned art. We will not return to this venue again, but will find a temporary space in Las Vegas to hang the show next year along with these two banned pieces. We will meet with our foundation lawyer tomorrow and fly to Maui on Tuesday.

So why didn't I just find something else to stitch? Because of guilt. The boy this is being stitched for was born on January 1, 2009. I don't want him to be too big to use this blanket before I get a chance to finish it. I have a few projects that I started for his father when he was small that never got sent! But I was not silly enough to have Under the Sea as the only stitching project that I brought with me. I spent a couple of hours stitching Three Gables last night. I will be working on it again tonight and will have a progress picture for you tomorrow. I also bought another Bent Creek sheep for the airplane trips to and from Maui. This one is Life is Good. And so it is. Problems come up, but we just Do the Right Thing and move on. I hope your life is the same.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two Fish

and a couple dozen more bubbles. I could have posted this Monday, if I had finished the last six stitches on the bottom fish. When I went to turn on the light next to my stitching chair on Sunday evening, the light bulb blew out and the second bulb wouldn't turn on either. Trying to investigate the problem during daylight on Monday, we found that the entire circuit had tripped when the light burned out, so the second bulb wasn't really bad too, but just without electricity. Now there is a temporary bulb (not the daylight bulb I had) in the lamp and I finished up those last few stitches. I also started the two dozen satin stitched circles on the next applique, the octopus. I should finish him up today, but it will probably take a day more to stitch him to the blanket. He has a LONG silhouette.

Artemise asked about the name of the kit. It is from Dimensions, 2007, Lil' Tots Felt Applique, Under the Sea Blanket, #73381, to be finished as a 28" x 40" blanket. It was on sale at Michael's so I paid less than half of the retail price. Angela thought this project seems like a lot of work, but it's really about the time and complexity of a medium sized cross stitch project. Maybe I won't think that after I start to completely edge the blanket in green buttonhole stitches. But the applique stitches and the buttonhole stitches so far have been relaxing. Certainly easier than over one or 40 count linen.

I'm sorry I alarmed Donna with the name of my last post. It's odd how we pick up words and phrases from friends and popular culture. I have a close friend who adds "of Doom" to almost any project, no matter how small, which was not as easy as it looked at first glance. It could be the Saucepan of Doom that was hard to clean or the Car of Doom that had not been uncluttered in six months. I guess the word, doom, isn't as dreadful to me as it once was.

When I am not stitching or reading, we have been watching DVDs of The West Wing. We are almost done with season two. It's amazing how wonderful the dialogue is. Even if you are not terribly interested in politics, it's wonderful watching adults interacting and working at real jobs. It's odd how few adults there are on television and how few of them seem to have real jobs or juggle the personal and professional.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Circles of Doom

When my nephew's daughter was born almost two years ago, I designed and made her this baby quilt, which she still uses. Her parents love the quilt and the two bibs I stitched. So there was some gentle hints that some bibs for their son (who was born January 1) would also be appreciated. When I saw this baby blanket kit on sale at Michael's before Christmas, I picked it up and thought that I would start it right away. I even took it to Maui, but cross stitch was calling to me more than this applique project. After I finished French Noel, I thought I better get moving on this project if I wanted to get it done before his first birthday. Boy, is it odd to stitch in hand without a frame. And the needle is sharp! Since the eye of the needle needs to fit up to six strands of thread at a time, the eye is also big. Which leads to the thread coming out of the eye at least a dozen times a thread. I will certainly practice my patience doing this.

The first thing that the kit asks you to do is to backstitch 52 circles. When the first couple turned out more like a sawtooth than a circle, I knew I would have to pace myself doing these silly circles or I would put this project down and not pick it up again. So I told myself if I finished the bubbles around the starfish, I could move on to the applique. Then came the satin stitch green circles on the starfish. Since these ended up more like drunken spider webs than circles, I was glad to see that the model satin circles where also a little less than round. I did a little better on the pink fin satin stitch and am really enjoying the applique stitches around the colored pieces of felt. There are no large projects that we need to finish next week, so I hope to finish and send this before we leave for San Francisco on the 24th. That is if I don't take scissors to the octopus who is covered in dozens of satin stitched circles. Next, up two smaller fish with satin stitched stripes. I think I can handle that. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get

I am happy to have finished French Noel yesterday afternoon. It is quite lovely and will look stunning as a holiday pillow, but I could have finished it on Friday if I had been more careful about counting exactly where I was. I had to frog about three lengths of green threads when I found out I was one cross too far down or too far over. At least I didn't get too frustrated and set it aside again. This isn't a race. I don't need to have it done for any particular day. Now I have finished one Extra Credit goal for 2009. It's also nice to have a long time UFO done.

I'm not sure what stitching is next. Today we have been working on deciding the exhibition pieces for the Foundation show at the end of the month. The letters for all are printed (though we ran out of toner for the printer and will need to get some tomorrow to print the envelopes). My hairdresser, whose studio is in California but who has a house in Las Vegas, will come to our house tomorrow afternoon to cut and color my hair. A little unusual, but she has been doing my hair for decades. No one else that I have tried in Nevada even comes close.

On Tuesday, our architect will come by to discuss the interior elevations that he gave us on Friday. We have been cutting out little pieces of paper that represent pieces of furniture and laying them out on the blueprints to see if our furniture will fit in the new house. Most of the walls have been decided, but if we need to move a wall a couple of inches one way or the other, then we should do it now while it is still cheap. Once we start construction my mantra has been "No Change Orders". Changing your mind later is a waste of time and money. We have already hired a surveyor, a civil engineer (for the retaining walls), and a structural engineer (for the roof trusses). Our architect says that at the rate we are going we might be able to apply for a building permit in two months. Hooray! Since I live with these plans every day, I can already see ourselves living there.

By Wednesday, I should be working on another stitching project. I just don't know which one yet. I hope everyone has a productive week.