Monday, August 31, 2009

Bowled Over Finished

It really didn't take me that long to finish this small project. I guess I couldn't resist the chance to finish two projects in one month. I even spent some time (not nearly enough, but some) putting away some Weeks Dye Works and Gentle Art of Sampler threads.

I do like the beading on this project and want to do a lot more projects with beads. I might even put beads around the edges of some of the Christmas ornaments I have stitched, but not finished. In looking for some bead storage system, I think I may have found the one I want here (set #15 at the bottom of the page). But in checking my database, I saw that I have 135 (!!!) different kinds of Mill Hill beads (not to mention other beads). I had no idea I had collected so many, but I do tend to buy them when I see them on sale.

I even had some time to start stitching again on a very slow WiP. The last time I stitched Rouge...comme was May, 2008. There are many reasons why this became almost a UFO. But now I am restarted and should get one or two more motifs done before we leave for Hawaii on the 9th. I hope everyone has a productive week.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

OK, I Stitched

I know I promised myself I would organize yesterday, but it's so much easier to listen to my audiobooks while sitting and stitching than wandering around my sewing room. And one more good day of stitching and I could have this finished, too. Of course, this is not getting the threads, fabrics, and patterns put away. Maybe I would be more motivated to organize if I tell myself about all the fabulous patterns that I have forgotten that I have that I would discover if I would only do a little organizing. And maybe I will just tell myself it's the weekend and I can always get organized on Monday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Paradise FINISHED

I finished stitching this last night, but waited until this morning to photograph it in daylight. The last stitches I took were the backstitches on the umbrella and chair next to the 5. I am very happy with my thread changes and I suggest that others do the same. Change the threads to colors that make you happy (or that better reflect the model). I am not as happy with the octopus next to the S and the umbrella drink next to the U because the Frosted Sage just doesn't show up against the white, but I am not going to frog them and restitch. They will just have to look slightly mysterious. Even my husband likes it (but then again he likes most things with mermaids).

What's next? Well, no stitching today! In completing this (and working on a couple of other projects), I have left the sewing room looking like a large dog had been digging around looking for a bone. There are threads, fabrics, and patterns everywhere. I really need to put away the threads from the last couple of projects, make sure I have all the threads for the WiPs I need to work on, and put away some of the stash I have bought in the last couple of months. Then I need to really think about what needs stitching. I have Bowled Over on the dining room table. Under the Sea is on the table next to my stitching chair. I am thinking about trying to finish Rouge...comme because it is probably the closest to being finished WiP goal for this year. Then there is always Hawaiian Mandala. I could also clean up the kitchen. Nah. I don't have to clean it up until tomorrow, so that I can turn it over bright and shiny for my husband's cooking week on Monday. And since he is cooking next week, that means more time for stitching for me! I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bottom Finished

I'm not sure why I am obsessively documenting this project, but I guess every little square seems like a mini-finish. I finished three more squares; the shell, the mermaid, and the lighthouse. Now I can move the Q-snaps and finish the top right hand border. I just have three more squares to finish; the personalization (between W and X), the brown shell (under the X), and the beach chair and umbrella (next to the 5).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Turning the Corner

Hooray for DMC 4030! If I was stitching the boring Crescent Colours Blue Beatrice for the inner border, I know I would have given up by now. But I love, love, love the variegations in DMC 4030 so much that even though the stitch is tedious, the result never is. I also want to give a shout out to Rainbow Gallery's Petite Treasure Braids -- PH02 (Silver High Gloss) for the sunglasses and camera, PB09 for the waves and the ocean near the lighthouse, PB27 for the anchor (a little darker than PH02), and PB57 for the palm tree fronds in the corners. These little bits of shiny have made this a much more fun piece. If you think you hate stitching with metallics because you have only tried that too stiff DMC, you really should try Rainbow Gallery. You still have to loop it through your needle eye so that it won't slip off, but other than that I think it stitches just like cotton. I was asked what I would do with this once it was finished. It's certainly too big for a flatfold or ornament. It's way too fragile for a pillow, so I plan on framing it with some sort of rough white washed frame and hang it in the Maui house. Although I have been trying to stitch more border than inner squares, I need to finish the shell and the lighthouse on the bottom row so that I can move the Q-Snaps and finish the border on the top right hand side. I guess it looks like I will finish this and not let it become a UFO.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Progress...But No Finish

I might have slightly burnt myself out on this project. Yes, I stitched like a wild woman, but I'm not sure I want to see it again for a while. I started out with over twenty unfinished boxes and have only twelve left to finish. Some of them could be finished with just a couple of stitches (the sea horse between 4 and 5 and the palm tree at the bottom left corner). Others (the personalization box between W and X) will take a lot longer.

And it is not the boxes that are slowing me down, but the border. Yes, it is lovely. Yes, I have stitched over half of it. But it takes over a half hour just to stitch one length of thread and that barely crosses two boxes. I have part of the bottom border to finish, part of the top border, and ALL of the right border. I'm being good about stitching in the boxes and then in the border, but I will finish the boxes long before the border is stitched.

Thank you for your comments on Bowled Over. Maybe I'll go back to that and stitch a few more beads. No, I have never had problems with the paper tearing. Paper is stronger than cloth. I guess I am just careful to pull on a single thread and hold the paper. No, I wouldn't try this with a lot of threads or a chart where I couldn't put all the threads in the margin right next to the symbol. But I have used this technique with dozens of small projects (all the plastic Christmas ornaments), so I know it works for me. I'm so jazzed about stitching with beads, I even went to Michael's today looking for a box to store the leftover beads and bought some more Mill Hills on sale. Unfortunately I didn't find any boxes small enough for Mill Hill seed beads. I have a wonderful set of teeny, tiny interlocking boxes called a Bead Nest (I thought), but I can't find anything like that on the interwebs. I might have to settle for something larger.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Look, SHINY!

Please don't worry. I haven't given up on Postcard from Paradise, but I finally got the four different colors of red sorted out on Bowled Over and I have all the beads in neat little color coordinated piles on the dining room table, so I just couldn't resist putting in a few stitches. Doesn't this look better with the band of red beads? This is no longer a traveling project as all that I have left is beading.

Yes, there are some cross stitches between the beads, but all the thread colors left are used for beading. This pattern does have another band of red underneath the bowls. You probably won't be able to tell the difference between the two reds used in the band, but I will stitch it as charted.

As I was stitching this I wondered if anyone else used the color code chart to sort their threads? I have been doing this for decades with kits that have a limited number of threads and a chart with room to park the threads on the side. I use a large needle to "thread" the paper. I make sure that the thread is anchored in the middle with the same amount of thread on the front and back. This technique works with stitches that are two ply. Since these are not variegated threads, all I have to do is pull a single threads from the paper (pulling on the middle of the thread) and I end up with a doubled thread that is approximately ready to be put in a stitching needle and started with a loop start. I no longer have to guess which red is which or if this thread is medium yellow or light yellow. You do have to be sure to keep these long tails untangled from time to time. But I can coil them up and put them between the folded paper and stick them in their project bag.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boxes Done

And so is the Crescent Colours Caribbean Waters thread done. I managed to use the last of it on the mermaid's tail and the two sides of the outer border. Most of the bottom border is stitched in DMC. It's such a good color match that I don't think that anyone will notice. There are still some bits of Caribbean Waters called for in a few of the empty boxes, but the DMC should do fine there.

But here I am on the horns of a common dilemma. Since I am in Nevada with all my resources, I should be stitching on Hawaiian Mandala. This is the one project that just can't travel. But I am still happy enough stitching away on Postcard in Paradise. I could probably even finish it by next week. But the year is half over and I have very few of my 2009 Goals done. This isn't one of them. I should be working on Three Gables, Cottage Garden, Rouge ... comme, Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket, or one of many sewing projects. But if I leave Postcard now, it will only become a WiP for next year. Then there is the Under The Sea baby blanket. If I don't work on it again soon, it won't even be ready for Christmas. Chances are I will just keep working on this until it is done, but there are a lot of other WiPs calling.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fastest Finish Ever

Especially considering that I did not work on this Monday or Tuesday. Tuesday was our wedding anniversary. I spent the day with my husband remembering old adventures and sharing a wonderful dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian. Nothing like French food for a romantic dinner.

I dropped my husband off at the airport yesterday afternoon and sat down to finish this small project. I even put some stitches in Postcard from Paradise. Right now I am mostly finishing the boxes as I am about to run out of the Crescent Colours Caribbean Waters. Luckily the DMC equivalent, 3849, even if not variegated, seems close enough in shade that if I substitute that on the bottom border, it shouldn't stand out. Today will be a stitching day, so much will be accomplished. Tomorrow I better buckle down and go through paperwork. I have to admit that I am woefully behind.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Almost

This is actually quite an easy piece to stitch, even the back stitching. But I do have to stitch it at the dining room table because of all the beads. After a while the dining room chair is not as comfortable as my stitching chair, so I have to get up every so often and walk around. The directions say to stitch the crosses and then the beads, but I find it easier to stitch them all at once. The beads are stitched with the same thread as the crosses in each color, so they just get stitched inline. I've gotten this much done because I haven't felt my best after returning from Montreal. With all our travels we do pick up various minor flus and colds. So mostly I have been stitching, watching movies, and sleeping.

Actually the only difficult part to stitch is that rectangle at the bottom. Not only are there semi-random beads, but there are actually two different burgundies there which makes for a lot of counting, though after all that stitching it still looks like only one color. It looks like I might be able to finish this today, but I have a lot of family business to take care of, so stitching will only be done after everything else is taken care of. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Fast Start

I have been taking Bowled Over as my plane stitching small piece, but I am about to the point now that only beaded parts are left. I did stitch some beading on it in Montreal, but not enough to take another picture. Bowled Over is part of the Kitchen Collection from Mill Hill. There are six different designs and I have four of them so far that I intend to stitch for the hallway into our new kitchen. I ironed the linen for the next kit, Toasty, and started that. I stitched in the Air Canada lounge before our first plane took off and for the entire three plus hour flight from Chicago to Las Vegas. I got most of the plain yellow and light green done then. When we got home I stitched the orange letters and all the beaded parts. It's about half way done! I have to admit that I am stitching this so furiously because I am almost to the end of George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Even though I read it in book form, Roy Dotrice's narration is so exciting that listening to this audiobook is almost all I want to do. At least I am stitching while I listen.

At this pace I think I will try to finish this piece, then go back to Bowled Over and finish that, too. Even if I finish listening to A Game of Thrones, I have the next book, A Storm of Swords, to listen to next. There I was almost completely caught up on my podcasts and now I am behind again. ;-) After I finish these two pieces, I may go back to Postcard from Paradise, but since I am going to be here in Nevada for a few weeks, I really should take up Hawaiian Mandala again if I have any hope at all at finishing a few more parts before the end of the year. I can take Postcard and Three Gables to Hawaii when we go there in September, but not Mandala.

Although I enjoyed our trip to Montreal, there was one unfortunate experience. After we had cleared US Customs and put our large bags on the cargo belt, we had to pass through security. The agents seemed very annoyed for some reason that I didn't have a plastic bag full of gels and liquids. They asked about this three times. I stopped carrying them in carry on because they are just one more thing to deal with besides my laptop and shoes. So they kept my carry on bag in their X-ray scanner for several minutes looking for non-existent liquids. What they did decide to confiscate was my lovely pair of small black scissors that went with my Halloween fob. They were less than three inches in length in total with blades less than an inch. Although I have carried them in carry on overseas flights and to hundreds of places in the US, they gleefully took them and tossed them, even though they did let me take the fob off before they grabbed them. Technically I was on US territory once we had passed Customs, but no amount of discussion made any difference to these goons. And unlike normal US Customs, there was no option to allow you mail an offending item to your home. They were not expensive, but it will take me some time to replace them. At least they never recognized my blunt cats claw scissors, so I had them on my Chicago to Las Vegas flight to use when stitching Toasty.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stitchy Talk

It seems like I haven't been stitching much, but I do get a thread in here in there. Actually the best part of the past week has been spending time with stitching friends. First, Ruth and I spent nearly three hours talking about life, the universe and everything. It was glorious. We didn't stitch, but we did talk about stitching. I wish she would take a weekend off and come up to Las Vegas. We could have a gloriously decadent weekend. Then Dani dropped by my hotel room after a very long day walking around the Montreal Botanical Garden with her mother. I would have offered to meet her halfway, but I did something unfortunate to my right knee, which left me hobbling around. At least I got to see Todd's Stocking which is really magnificent. And Dani got to see Three Gables in Real Life. The colors are so subtle that no picture can do it justice. Another friend, Judith, got to see Bowled Over, and commented that the beads didn't show up in my previous pictures. I hope this one shows them off a bit more. They make the piece so much fun.

The rest of the World Science Fiction Convention for me has been busy, busy, busy. I've spent a lot of time talking to friends, getting books signed, and helping sell memberships for Melbourne, Australia, the site of next year's Worldcon. It is going to be in a remarkable new convention center. I will be working that convention, but it looks like a lot of fun. The people running the convention ran one in 1999, so have plenty of experience. Today is the last day of the convention. I'll be going to a reading by George R. R. Martin, then heading back to the hotel to start to pack. We leave tomorrow and should be home not too late tomorrow evening. And amazingly enough, I won't be traveling again until we go to Hawaii in September.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Why This May Become A UFO

I feel a little self conscious saying this because the designer of this piece left a comment on my last post. Is she upset that I changed out the threads or made negative comments about the threads she chose? I hope not, since this is a lovely design and I see other designs on her blog (especially a new Halloween one) that I want to stitch. Well, once again I have changed out a thread. The Fishbone Stitch between the two cross stitched borders is done in my current favorite thread, DMC 4030 (Monet's Garden Colour Variations) which I also used on Quaker Flower Sampler. I think it picks up the colors in the rest of design very well. I usually like different stitches on a cross stitch piece. However, the Fishbone Stitch itself is rather fiddly on such a small count linen. I already made a couple of errors in the border by stitching it over four threads rather then three. I am starting to try to compensate by adding a few more over four chevron legs so that it will end with an "up" leg at the other corner. I have been more careful stitching it on the left side and so far have kept the count. But the Fishbone Stitch is not fun or easy to stitch, so I can see myself setting Postcard from Paradise aside in favor of other more straight forward cross stitch. With just two days left before we leave, I want to finish all the boxes, but if I do that, I'll only have the Fishbone Stitch left. I've been trying to stitch some Fishbone Stitches between boxes, but if I keep doing that I won't have the boxes done before we leave. Do you stitch the parts of a design that you don't like first (color or pattern or thread)? Or do you do some less happy stitching between all the other stitching? Or do you leave unhappy stitching for last? (And if you do leave it for last, do you finish it or set it aside?) I seem to get tired of a pattern and just put it down rather than quitting at a difficult part, but I am sure there are some projects that I did put down when I ran out of a thread or got tired of Jessica Stitches.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alphabet Finished

The letters are pretty easy to do on this sampler. No color changes and no flourishes. There are also a couple of other boxes finished such as both palm trees in the top corners. I have a few days before we leave for Montreal, so I will just keep working on this, but take Three Gables and Bowled Over to Montreal with me. My friend Ruth is going there also. I might even get to meet up with Dani, who was planning a short trip there with her mother. James is on several panels, but I was not feeling very talkative when the call came for panelists, so I'm just going to see my friends and eat good Quebecois food.

My stitching time here in Nevada depends on how many meetings we have, if we have any interesting Netflix (I can't watch and stitch) and whether or not I have interesting things to listen to on my iPod. I finished an audio book, The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry, that was a little slow, but interesting. I am now revisiting The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin in audio book format. The reader is British and has a number of different accents for the various characters. We've been waiting over a year for George's next book in the series. I might even have heard the first four books before the next one comes out. Here's wishing all of you a pleasant and relaxing weekend.