Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why Floss Tosses Don't Always Work

One of the first things I learned in Home Ec Garment Sewing was that you always picked a sewing thread that was just slightly darker than the fabric you were sewing on. The reason is that when you get down to a single thread, the color of a single thread will seem much, much lighter than the spool of color altogether. This is also true for stitching. I'm sure Crescent Colours 12 Grain seen in a hank seemed dark enough for a sand color, but in actually using it to stitch 1 over 2 on 36 count fabric, it is much lighter than the hank of thread on the card. This is why I changed this thread for Weeks Dye Works Oak. I was at first worried that it was too dark. I am already using Crescent Colours Old Oak Tree for the palm tree trunks and the starfish in the picture below. But you can see when I pull out a single thread from the hank, it is actually not a dark tan at all.

I also used this technique for changing out Crescent Colours Frosted Sage for a darker grey to use to stitch a sea shell. In this case I substituted Weeks Dye Works Tin Roof. I did look at several Weeks and several Gentle Art threads, but this is the one I decided on.

You can see the result in the castle (Weeks Dye Works Oak) and the sea shell (Weeks Dye Works Tin Roof). I also like the fact that Tin Roof has a tiny bit of green in it, much as a natural shell would. I still have some stitching to do in each of these boxes, but I wanted to show the change in colors without the backstitching getting in the way. So the next time you do a floss toss and find that you really don't like the colors once they are stitched, don't beat yourself up. Just consider that the thinner the thread and the lower the fabric count, the lighter the thread will seem when you stitch it on the fabric, especially white fabrics.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Over Halfway

Yes, there are now 46 finished squares (and two started, but not completed). But I can feel my interest waning. Maybe it's because I really don't like stitching 1 over 2. Maybe it's the too pale colors. If you look at the island next to the T you will see that the "sand" is really more pale pinky beige than sand colored. That's 12 Grain from Crescent Colours. I'm supposed to stitch two sand castles in that color, but I'm going to substitute a deeper tan. So after this post, I'm off to my stash to find a darker grey (for a seashell) and a darker tan for the castles.

I'll try to stick with this stitching this week, but we do have several interviews with vendors. We are seeing two different cabinet makers on Tuesday and Thursday. Generally it's better to have plenty of vendors to choose from, but I like both of these guys a lot. So it is going to be difficult for me to tell one of them that they did not get the job. But in between meetings, I will get in what stitching I can.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obsession

If I had spent as much time on Bowled Over as I have on Postcard from Paradise, Bowled Over would be finished. But from the minute I got home, I have been working on Postcard from Paradise. Maybe it is all the small motifs. It is so easy to say, "Just one more letter. Just one more fish". Although the design is supposed to be 8" by 8 1/2", it is probably just a hair bigger as it doesn't quite fit in my 11" by 11" Q-Snaps. So next I am going to try to finish off the top row and the left hand side before moving on to the bottom right hand corner. My goal for this weekend is to get half of the 90 boxes filled. I'm glad I am substituting some of the threads. There is an octopus stitched in Frosted Sage below the N, but the threads looks white to me. No Frost, no Sage. I used Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid in silver instead of Frosted Sage for the middle of the sunglasses and I'm going to use it again for an anchor at the bottom. I think I will change to a light gray DMC for the shell to be stitched in Frosted Sage, though I am not going to frog the octopus. He will remain a ghost octopus.

The trip back from Maui was uneventful. I did stitch some on Bowled Over, which I will probably get back to when Postcard is finished. Our niece had a memorable trip including a drive around the island past Hana and jumping into the ocean off Black Rock. She snorkeled and saw a lot of fish. Her family is not very adventurous. I don't think she would have thought to come on her own without us asking her to come. And she certainly wouldn't have come on her own without family. My husband and I had hitched hiked around the US and lived in New Zealand for two years by the time we were her age. We took every opportunity for adventure, though we never managed to hitch a ride on a cargo ship as we had planned before we got married.

We are still waiting for our building permit. Meanwhile we are meeting with vendors and making lots of decisions. We had a great meeting with a flooring company on Thursday and are zeroing in on the design of the master bedroom and bathroom. Although I wanted a slightly bluer theme, it looks like once again the master bedroom and bath will be mostly green, including glass countertops on the vanities. On Tuesday we will talk to a cabinet vendor. Before we leave for Montreal, we really should get a pool subcontrator, too. The first thing that will be built will be the retaining walls and foundations. We need to be sure that the pool has all the underground piping put in. But it is only Saturday now, so back to stitching.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Enough?

Here are a few more squares in Postcard from Paradise. It is interesting that I was going to say that I wished I had stitched a few more interiors. There is a lovely wave pattern next to the unfinished A that I want to stitch in Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid. And speaking of that A, yup, it is unfinished.

But then I started to think about how much is enough? Why should I be disappointed in what I didn't stitch, when four years ago I hadn't stitched much of anything for decades? I understand these are not great works of art, but what are they? Why am I stitching at all? Well part of it is the gentle repetition of the needle through the fabric. Especially in a piece like this with lots of straight repetitive stitches, you can stitch for hours while barely glancing at the chart. Then there is the feel of the fabric and the colors of the thread. Not to mention the pattern that develops under your fingers. All of these actions are soothing, especially for someone who loves color and pattern. And with every piece I learn something. I learn what I like about certain threads and fabrics and stitching techniques. I learn about composition and white space and backgrounds and color values. Maybe it is just a hobby and I will continue to refreshed and relaxed by stitching. And maybe I will someday take off in other artistic directions, but buoyed by these explorations in color and pattern.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's All My Fault

I thank the people who have commiserated with me over bad kits and bad patterns, but even if I have pointed out these anomalies, most of the kits I stitch with are generous with their threads and fabric and I thank most designers for their beautiful patterns. There has been nothing so bad about a pattern or kit that I has made me stop stitching it. See? I have started the beading on Bowled Over and have left a lot of Light Green (without beads) to stitch on the plane going back to the mainland tomorrow. I would be even farther along if I had not completely spaced out. I should know better than to stitch in the car (even a non moving car) or to stitch while ill (which I was this weekend). I managed to stitch all of the called for Medium Yellow with Medium Green. It is now all frogged out and Medium Green is only stitched in the places that it is supposed to be. Now that I have gotten this far, I have returned to stitching Postcard from Paradise and have a few more boxes finished. I should have a picture of my progress tomorrow. Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unsatisfactory

Buying kits can be fraught with complications. Maybe you won't like working with the fabric. Maybe the threads are a poor quality. Maybe there is not enough fabric or thread. Maybe the pattern doesn't match the model. But I ran into a problem with Mill Hill's Kitchen Collection Bowled Over that I have never seen before. Can anyone tell me which of these threads are Dark Rose, which are Light Red, which are Dark Red, and which are Light Rose? I didn't think so. Sometimes kits have the threads in labeled bags (Bent Creek). Sometimes kits have threads that are obviously different colors (and with the number of lengths noted so that you can tell the 3 lengths of Dark Rose from the 5 lengths of Dark Red, such as Dimensions kits). Sometimes the kits even attach the threads to a numbered chart (Bothy and Michael Powell). This kit does not tell you how many lengths you should have or how to distinguish one reddish thread from another. Now there are DMC color numbers listed for the threads, but all of my DMC is back in Nevada. I hope they do match what I have when I check them under my daylight lamp.

Meanwhile I am going to continue on with the colors I can differentiate. I've stitched all the Blue, Dark Green and the Light Yellow that need to be stitched. I wanted to stitch more of this on the plane, but the reading lights were broken and most of the shades were down. I stitched just the bottom row of the Light Yellow, then put it away for a brighter day. There are also a lot of beads in these kits. I like the way that they make the pattern sparkle, but I wasn't sure if I could stitch them at all. The provided beading needle had an eye so slender that my needle threader wouldn't even go through it. And I certainly couldn't get two strands of DMC through the eye either. Luckily my John James Petite 26 needle is handling the job beautifully. John James FTW!!! (For The Win) I will be better prepared for the next three kits. After I stitch all the Medium Green (and the matching beads), I will have a large area of unbeaded Light Green to stitch on the plane. Meanwhile I will go back to stitching Postcard from Paradise.

I haven't had a lot of stitching time this week because the Guest Room has gone from an almost empty room of junk to this. We bought curtains and curtain rods, finally taking down the very faded Martha Stewart bedsheets that were thumbtacked to the window frames. We bought a new king sized bed for the Master Bedroom and moved the queen sized bedroom set into the Guest Room. I washed all the sheets and towels and generally cleaned the house more than it has ever been (even the Office and the Library).


This was all in preparation for our niece Laura to visit us from Lexington, Kentucky. We took her out to lunch/dinner at Mama's Fish House (seen in the background here) and then back to the house. She promptly crashed, as would I after traveling for 12 hours. Right now she and James are out renting her some snorkel gear while I have a bit of quiet and stitch. We will probably have an early dinner then get up at dawn to drive the road to Hana (and around the back of the island). The waterfalls are always better early in the morning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No Television, No Internet, No Problem

Yes, we spend so little time in San Francisco that we decided not to hook up to the building’s cable television. And the DVD player broke several years ago and hasn’t been replaced. Even the wireless router is giving us problems, so it’s either read or stitch. I decided to stitch and now have 13 squares (out of 90) finished. Barbara made a suggestion of using Thread Heaven to control the knotting of the Crescent Colours threads. Of course, I have Thread Heaven . . . back in Henderson. But this gave me a great excuse to go to the Status Thimble in Burlingame. Not only did I get Thread Heaven, but you can see the first of my planned thread substitutions. Instead of the inside of the sunglasses being a muddy gray green (CC Frosted Sage), they are now a wonderful Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid shiny silver. I also have some shiny green and shiny blue that will find their way into this piece also. I love Petite Treasure Braid. Did the Thread Heaven help? Help, yes, solve the problem, NO! It still knots, but at least I haven’t had to cut any more of the knots out. The Status Thimble was having their yearly July sale (20% off everything except sale items). So a few magazines, a chart, a canvas and some threads made their way into my basket. I haven’t stitched a single Christmas ornament this year. That will soon change.

But lest you think that I did nothing but stitch, yesterday we went to the Ferry Plaza Market and tried to be good about not buying too much tasty fruit (we can’t take any of it to Hawaii). We also shopped for king sized sheets for Maui. Even though the king bedroom set we ordered last year will not be here before the end of September (first promised for April), we are going to get a king bed mattress and simple frame so that we can move the queen bed into the guest room for our niece who will be joining us in Maui on Wednesday, We also attended a galley opening for an artist who is one of James’ friends and had a tasty sushi dinner from our favorite Japanese restaurant, Main Street Sushi in Half Moon Bay. Then I went a little overboard buying bread (which we can take to Hawaii) at Whole Foods. There is not any artisan bread on Maui, so if you want sourdough, sourdough walnut, or brioche hamburger buns, you have to bring your own.

I'm sitting in the Red Carpet Club at SFO waiting for our flight to Maui. It will be good to get out of the cod, cold SF Bay Area. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Start-itis

I started out looking for something small to stitch on the planes. I decided on several Mill Hill Kitchen Collection kits, but they come with 14 count Aida and I hate Aida. So looking through my fabric drawers I picked out a white 28 count Monaco with enough fabric for four kits. While I was looking for the 28 count fabric I ran across the 36 count antique white Edinburgh and the threads that I got a couple of months ago for Blue Ribbon Designs Postcards from Paradise. I had the fabric, I had the threads, but I could not find the pattern. That led to a lot of rummaging around in various boxes. By the time I found it (and picked out some fabric for Raise the Roof's Hang Ten), there was nothing left but for me to start the pattern I had spent all that time searching for. Besides stitching this in Maui seems so appropriate. I washed and ironed the Postcards from Paradise fabric and "borrowed" the Q-snaps from Three Gables. I was ready to stitch.

I have never stitched on fabric as small as 36 count. The model was done on 40 count one strand over two threads, but I saw a model done on 36 count and thought that was small enough. I have never stitched one over two. I really wasn't sure there would be enough coverage. And the problem I was really worried about is that the threads are all from Crescent Colours. I hated, hated, hated those threads when I was stitching Raise The Roof's Warm Water Wash. But when I was buying the threads I could only find two Weeks Dye Works colors that were close enough to the Crescent Colours threads to actually substitute. I'll use DMC 3371 for CC Black Coffee. So I started stitching. I do love the colors, but for the first 20 crosses during every single cross, the thread knotted, just as it had on Warm Water Wash. I don't stitch quickly. I don't pull my threads tightly. This is just inferior thread. On the twentieth cross I spent almost 20 minutes trying to pry the knot apart before giving up in disgust and cutting out the knot. I did keep going and got two boxes and two motifs done. I just hope that I don't give up on this altogether, but it could happen. I do know that I will NEVER, EVER buy Crescent Colours threads again. If I can't find a color match, I will just go with different colors.

I do like the pattern and I do feel like a mini-finish after every motif is finished. I even enjoyed starting in the middle with K and P since my maiden name started with P, so I used KP as my initials until I was married. But I am bringing Three Gables with me as a backup project, if I decide that these Crescent Colours threads cannot be used. I leave for San Francisco in a couple of hours. I probably won't have reliable photo uploading until we get to Maui on Sunday. I hope everyone has a splendid weekend.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Christmas in July

Yes, another Bent Creek Sheep is finished. Hooray! I finished most of the cross stitch in Tempe, Arizona, at Westercon, but needed a bit of time yesterday after we drove back to Nevada to finish the french knots and the arms. The convention was fun, but small. As long as my friends from Los Angeles (and elsewhere) were there, I was happy.

We drove back at almost one in the morning on Sunday morning. The road between here and Phoenix is so boring, that we didn't really need to see the scenery. We had taken naps in the afternoon and had a George R. R. Martin audiobook to listen to, so we were set to go. There was really no traffic, so we made the trip in five rather than six hours. The best part was crossing the Hoover Dam at dawn. It was very beautiful, including the new suspension bridge that they are building. Once we were back home we crashed out for a couple of hours.

James has a gallery show this month in the San Francisco Bay Area and will be going there on Wednesday to hang the show. I will join him on Friday for the reception and on Sunday we will head over to Maui for ten days. Our niece, Laura, will be joining us on the 15th. She has never been to Hawaii. I'm just worrying about how we are going to move the queen bed to the guest room and what we are going to sleep on until our much delayed king bed set arrives via container (no, it was not in the containers in April). You can't count on any delivery times in Hawaii unless it is "on island" already.

I'll probably take Three Gables to stitch, but I will need something smaller for the plane. At this rate I may never get back to Under the Sea. There are also a few other WiPs that are almost UFOs. When I get Three Gables finished, I need to spend some time with Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket and Michael Powell's Cottage Garden I. That is if I am not seduced by some of the stash I have accumulated lately. Blue Ribbon Design's Postcards from Paradise is kitted up. I just need some appropriate fabric for Ink Circles' Beautie Spotte. I recharted those threads into Vickie Clayton silks. I also got a few Mill Hill beaded smalls in kitchen motifs. Maybe I will take one of those to Maui. And there are always sheep. Maybe I can fill the guest room walls with sheep. It's always nice to think about a new start. Have a great week everyone!