Friday, May 29, 2009

One More Window (and a Half)

Yes, I did some stitching in California. Although I didn't stitch on the plane to San Francisco, I did stitch at the convention, in the condo (where there is no television or movies, so much less distraction), and on the plane returning to Las Vegas. Though I was not as excited about stitching this as I was Hawaiian Mandala. There is simply too much Bark, Bark, Bark! The returning plane was not very full, so I didn't feel badly about stretching out over one and half seats. Several of the flight attendants were very impressed with this stitching, but especially with my Q-Snaps. They had to tell the flight attendant at the very back about them, which was funny because she works at our local LNS, Stitcher's Paradise! She immediately recognized the pattern as Three Gables. As much as I would like to go back and stitch more on Hawaiian Mandala, it is almost June. On June 20th we are flying to Lexington, Kentucky, to visit my in-laws and go to a convention. If I want to give the Under the Sea baby blanket to my nephew's new son while he is still a baby, I had better crack the whip and get it done. So that is all I will be stitching until it is finished. Back to those darn satin circles.

On the house front, the permit has been submitted to the City of Henderson and we have our first comment (some discrepency on floor heights). Henderson has all the building permits online, so I can follow its progress (or lack thereof). They even have a page for inspections, so when the building starts, I can follow those. Day by day it is slowly becoming reality. I want to move in tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Stitching Here

No panic, please. Yes, I have been stitching on Three Gables, but this post is about our past trip to San Francisco and not about stitching. You will get a picture of my progress on Three Gables tomorrow. First I want to show off my bounty from my favorite place in San Francisco, the Saturday Market at Ferry Plaza. Unfortunately it has been a cool and rainy spring, so no Frog Hollow apricots, early peaches or heirloom tomatoes yet. We did try some other apricots, but although they were juicy, they were not as sweet and flavorsome as we would like. There should be some good ones in a couple of weeks. Still there is plenty of other goodies. We usually pick up some Redwood Hill goat cheese, some Cowgirl Creamery cheese and some Primavera mole sauce and tortilla chips, but not this time. This was a trip for food we could take back to Nevada -- Fatted Calf Bacon and Duck Mousse, June Taylor syrups and candied Bergamont peel, our favorite Rancho Gordo fresh dried beans (delicious!), some corn meal pizza crusts, and lemon/herb olive oil. I'm going to cook with the beans, pizzas, and olive oil next week when it is my week to cook.

The other totally cool thing we did was visit the Computer History Museum. One of our friends, Chris Garcia, works there and offered to show us around. At 2 pm most afternoons they have a demonstration of a working Babbage Difference Engine, one of only two in the world. Babbage never collected enough money to actually build it while he was alive. It is powered by a hand crank on the right hand side and actually prints out a book of solutions to quadratic equations on the left hand side. It's a beautiful and fascinating machine. They also have a lot of computers I have worked on from PDP-8's to original Apple Macs and the first removeable disk drives "cake boxes" from IBM. I always enjoy seeing Doug Englebart's first mouse and five key ASCII entry device. I got a personal demonstration from him in the 70s, but could barely remember one ASCII code and he was typing 100 letters a minute. I'm glad that my computer today has a regular keyboard.

And of course we looked for things for the new house: sinks, bathtubs, and rock slabs. I don't think we will find another slab as full of fossils as the Eutruscan Fossil slab I had a picture of. That slab is reserved for someone else. So at the moment we are thinking about making the bar top in glass from Glassic Art. More stitching pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Are Designers Crazy?

We have all, from time to time, made changes to patterns. Maybe we changed the fabric or a couple of threads that we didn't like the colors of. Maybe we changed a motif or two. But on very Big A** Projects, I tend to do as the pattern says. Do you see that lonely single blue stitch at the valley of the black and gold stitches? There were four of them in Part One. They were slightly a pain to stitch because there wasn't any of that color very near the single stitch. But I was good and stitched them. I should have looked ahead.

If you look at the bottom of this picture you will see a V of the same colored stitches now nestled in the valley of the gold and black stitches. Why was that single stitch charted in Part One? Why couldn't we have stitched this all in Part Two? Are designers crazy? From now on I will look ahead. And in Part Two there is a group of four stitches in a color not used anywhere else in this Part at the top of the motif that are really a motif in Part Three. So I will wait until Part Three to stitch them. Craziness! But other than this revelation, the rest of the stitching is going well. I still want to stitch this all the time and did make good progress before I left for San Francisco.

I decided not to take anything to stitch on the plane since it is such a short flight. I probably wouldn't have stitched anything anyway since we got into a conversation with a well traveled gentleman from Munich, Germany, who was sitting next to us. We talked about a variety of our experiences around the world and the time simply raced by. For my traveling stitching I took Three Gables.

I haven't stitched on it yet though, because I have been spending all my time trying to get our Airport Express wireless connection to work again. I have given up, which means just to get these pictures on my blog I had to use "sneaker net" to transfer the images from my laptop (which has the latest copy of Photoshop but no internet connection) to this desktop computer (which has an old copy of Photoshop and a flaky internet connection). Strangely enough I will have a better internet connection in our hotel room in Santa Clara over the next three days! We did visit the convention briefly to get my husband's artwork hung in the artshow and to say hello to various friends. We came back to The City because I want to visit the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market tomorrow morning. Then we will head back to Santa Clara and spend the next three days at the convention. I hope everyone is having a wonderful (or at least restful) weekend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can't Stop Stitching

As soon as I had finished the last stitch on Part Two and posted the picture of my final motif on my blog, I was back to Hawaiian Mandala. I stitched the rest of the afternoon, I stitched through dinner (my husband had to fend for himself), I stitched past midnight. I simply couldn't stop stitching. Was it the easy to stitch band at the top (barely any counting) or the lines of black or the swash of blue at the bottom or the lack of specialty stitches? Whatever it was, it made Part Three seem miles easier than Part Two. I don't know if I will still believe that when I am stitching the fourth volcano, but for now, I'm going back to stitch some more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pineapple Motif the Last

Yes, the last pineapple motif in Part Two is finished! There are still the black outlines that surround Part Three, but I will stitch those along with the next part. It can be a bit tedious stitching the same motif four times, but at least you know what to expect. I knew I would need pliers to pull the silk perle through the fabric in some places (and I did bend the needle I was using). I knew I would hate doing the over ones on the pineapple body and crown and I knew I would probably have to frog a few of them. But moving on to Part Three was a great motivator, so now I can start stitching the first volcano. Not a lot of specialty stitches, but a whole bunch of cross stitches. I will be glad to put this down for a week after the next couple of days, since this project does not travel and we will be in San Francisco starting on Thursday evening.

Tomorrow is actually a house day. The Architectural Design Review Committee is ready to sign off on our house design on Friday (after the preliminary contractor's meeting), but we need to completely redo the exterior paint colors. Even though the house is already tan, beige, and adobe; apparently they have their own unique shades of these colors that they want us to use. But that is actually good news. That means that we could file for a building permit with the city as early as Monday (if Monday wasn't a holiday). OK, we will file on Tuesday. And when we get back from California next week, we might have some bids from subcontractors. We know approximately what the house will cost to build, but you are never sure until you have the bids.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Motif the Third

Maybe I should have shot this motif upside down, since it is the bottom motif of the four. It wasn't that hard to finish last night, since all the stitching was done except the pineapple crown. I don't like the way the longstitching on the crown came out, but there doesn't seem to be much difference from this one an the other two. Maybe I am getting too picky. I've got most of the bottom green cross and half cross stitches done on the remaining motif, the top one. Time for the dozen Jessica stitches. Will I miss them when I am stitching hundreds of identical cross stitches in Part Three? There is a lot to stitch in Part Three, but nothing as complicated as the Jessica and Rhodes and over ones of this section. I think I just want to move on to Part Three to start something different. By the time you are stitching the fourth section of every part, you are starting to get tired of the stitches and colors. This weekend is the Stitch-A-Thon and I should have a lot of time to stitch.

Right now we are in the waiting period for the house. The plans were reviewed by the Architectural Design Committee of the HOA and the few corrections they had were answered yesterday. I don't know how long it will take them to give us final approval. THEN our contractor turns the plans into the city building department. You would think that with very little building going on, it would take them very little time to review them. But things are going very slowly there. I suppose the employees are hoping to save their jobs. It will probably be six weeks or more before we break ground. Then the fun of making all the selections of surfaces and fixtures, though we have been looking at few counter materials. Maybe we'll check out some cabinets next week. I hope everyone has a fun weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looks Familiar, Eh?

I know this looks a lot like the last motif on the right, but this is actually the left motif finished. If you had ESP (Extra Stitchery Perception), you might notice that there are five stitches on the top of the pineapple crown (under the black longstitching) that are actually DinkyDyes Midnight rather than NPI's Black. Each crown has different colored stitches to go with the parts that are stitched above the crown.

I did rotate the fabric in the Q-Snaps to be able to stitch the last two motifs and started on the pineapple crown on the bottom motif. But after a couple of stitches of silk perle, I called it a night. I might get that bottom motif done today, as all the other stitching is done. But I still have most of the top motif to finish, including the picky, but not too hard Jessica stitches. I hope to finish all of Part Two and start on Part Three in the next week. That is pretty much all the time I will have to work on this. A week from Thursday starts our summer travel schedule.

First we will fly to San Francisco for a week to attend BayCon, a science fiction convention that we have been attending since it started in 1983. On June 20 we fly back east to see James' mother and attend a SF relaxacon (just friends and lots of card games, no programming) called Midwestcon. We have been going to this convention for decades. It's lots of fun, especially since there is a group of stitchers who attend and a LNS to visit. Whoo Hoo! Fourth of July weekend is Westercon in Phoenix and the first week of August is Worldcon in Montreal. James' sixtieth birthday is in September and he wants to go "somewhere special", but he can't decide where to go. The travel schedule winds down a bit with Loscon over Thanksgiving, Smofcon in Austin, Texas, the first weekend of December, and family Christmas in Lexington, Kentucky. Somewhere in there I am sure are one or two trips to Maui. For those of you with summer travel plans, I hope the flights are uneventful and the places you go are all enjoyable.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One Motif Done

First let me thank all the wonderful commenters. I'm glad you can appreciate this design, because it sure feels like a PhD in linen stitching to me! Yes, I have finished one of the four motifs in Part Two, on the right side. I started stitching some of the black borders when I simply couldn't face another Rhodes stitch or Jessica. I then decided to go ahead and try the long stitching over the pineapple. Even with the pattern enlarged to 400%, there seems to be stitches everywhere. But the gold metallic over the pineapple body is actually a pretty easy pattern and went very quickly. The black silk over the silk perle crown, not so much. The diagram is hard to read and putting the black silk in between all the thick silk perle can be painful. But now that I know I can finish this up and move to Part Three, I am certainly motivated.

Although those black borders are in Part Two, I will probably only do the stitching near the pineapple crowns. I don't want to stitch hundreds of black crosses into the distance and find out I am off by one stitch. It makes more sense to stitch the corners with Part Three that sits under that border. I have everything in Motif Two, bottom, finished except the crown and partial border, but I will need to move the Q-snaps to get to that part of the fabric. First I am working on getting Motif Three, left side, done. I started the silk perle crown last night, but gave up after a few stitches. It's hard enough to do this thick perle over two, but over one is almost insane. But I did finish Motif One, so I know that this is not impossible. Once Motif Three is finished, I will rotate the Q-Snaps and finish Motifs Two and Four. I didn't finish this completely this week, but when they are all done, I can start on the volcanoes in the corners.

I didn't get out my sewing machine this week, but I did do some hand sewing and mending. In fact, I washed boatloads of laundry, reorganized my closet to put my summer clothes up front, and took two bags of barely worn (and now too big) clothes to the donation box for Safe Nest. I always have huge plans when my husband is gone for a few days, but rarely accomplish them all. I picked him up at the airport this morning and he is crashed out for a few hours. He doesn't mind flying a red eye flight from Maui, but it always makes me groggy for a couple of days. Both our mothers got our Mother's Day flowers, so all is right in the world. I hope everyone has a productive week. I know I will.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back to Mandala

First I want to salute anyone who has stitched a Chatelaine Design. With the acres of fabric I have left to fill, I can't imagine finishing this in less than three more years. When I picked it up again, I immediately remembered why I was so happy to put it down. Dozens of different variegated silks in confetti stitching, dozens of Jessica stitches, mountains of Rhodes stitches, stitching over one (at 36 count), half stitches in one thread followed by crosses with two threads, Silk Perle for the pineapple crowns that barely fits through the fabric, longstitching over much of the pineapple body and crown which I haven't even started and when the stitching is done, hundreds of beads and crystals to attach. I did end up frogging about a dozen stitches that were stitched in the wrong color green, but luckily it was in an empty space, so I didn't disturb any other threads. I was so distraught by the speciality stitches that I had to print out Part Three, just to see how complex that was. Ah, a few simple Algerians like the center section, but mostly rows and rows of cross stitch (and beads and longstitch). Not even much confetti.

Interestingly enough, after an hour or two I started to get into a rhythm and started to enjoy the colors and the patterns. And as many times as the silk slips out of my needle, I still love stitching with silk. Later this year I will start stitching Ink Circle’s Beautie Spotte which I have recharted for Vickie Clayton's hand dyed silk. I have finished most of the stitching on the bottom pineapple motif except for the crown. I will have to move the Q-snaps to get to the fabric I need for that. I'll also have to move the Q-Snaps to stitch the top pineapple motif. If I keep on at this rate, I might even have Part Two (except for beads) done by the end of the week and will move right into Part Three. Part Three is four large volcanoes between the pineapples. If I get one volcano done, I might go back to Three Gables for a little rest. (Bark, Bark, and more Bark).

Although I miss my husband who is in Maui this week, I do appreciate the ability to pick my stitching up whenever I want to. That freedom will decline when he comes back, as we will be back working on materials for the new house. I thought I might get in a little sewing this week, but I am so happy stitching, that I don't know if I will drag the sewing machine out this week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Two More Birds, A Door

I have managed to stitch more WDW Bark by stitching a few other areas after every string of Bark. That's how I got the door started. I also wanted to start on the row of Black (DMC 310) ornamental squares that divides the upper house from the lower part of the house, but once I started surrounding them with Dark Brown (DMC 3371), I'm not sure you can see them at all. I'm going to put this to rest for a while and return to Hawaiian Mandala. I haven't worked on that design this year and I do want to get several more parts done. I know I won't finish it this year, but I can work on it some more.

Several people commented on how much they liked the Etruscan Fossil marble that I had a link to in the last post. I have to say that the piece of marble that we looked at was even more spectacular than the one in the link, so I am including this picture of it. All these spiral fossils are magnificent. I need an updated floor plan from the architect to take to the vendor to see how many slabs of marble we will need for the bar. I should get that on Tuesday. The architect did drop by yesterday to give us an updated landscape plan (he had agapanthus on the first plan, which I hate). I haven't looked at the new plan. I guess I am just not the outdoors type. Yes, we will have trees and some plants, but don't ask me their names.

I took my husband off to the airport yesterday afternoon. He called me when he got to his hotel in Seattle. There was an artists reception last night that he was going to, but since it lasted very late, I haven't called him this morning. I'm sure he had a good time. Sunday he has a shoot and Monday at 6 am he flies to Maui to attend the homeowners meeting on the ridiculous and conflicting rules about the electrical meter on our property. I hope we don't have to spend more money taking it down. We spent enough money putting it up. Meanwhile, I'll try not to get into too much trouble while he is gone. I hope everyone has a productive or relaxing weekend, which one you need most.