Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Finish for 2009

Yes, Mix It Up, is finished.  I didn't finish it in Kentucky, but I did finish it this morning.  This also means that three of the six Kitchen Collection kits are stitched.  I love how all their colors blend together without having all the same colors in every piece.  It also is handy that the beads are similar.  I can separate them all and put them in tiny baggies together rather than hunting through a pile of beads to find just the right one.

I also started the next kit in the Kitchen Collection series, Lil' Cupcake.  It's better to start a design before you get on a plane.  I had hoped to get more of this stitched on our long flight, but as it turned out the Delta flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas really didn't have sufficient light to stitch.  There almost wasn't enough light to read!

Delta?  Atlanta?  Yes, we had gotten to the airport on Tuesday evening for a United flight to Chicago with plenty of time and then we sat and sat while the mechanics tried to fix a problem on our plane.  We even got an upgrade phone call for our Chicago to Las Vegas flight.  You know this story is not going to have a good ending.  They canceled our flight, the last one from Lexington to Chicago, because the Public Address system wasn't working!  This is a very small plane.  If the flight attendants stood in the front and whispered you could probably hear them in the back of the plane.  Luckily as a Million Mile Flyer I have some standing with United.  So when they told me that the next flight out of Lexington that we could get on was 6 pm on the 31st, I told them to start looking for anything from Louisville or Cincinnati.  Heck, we would even drive to Chicago and get a plane home from there.  After a long time on hold they got us on a 6am Delta flight from Lexington to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Las Vegas.  It meant we got very little sleep that night and lost almost a entire day (yesterday), but as each plane actually took off and left the ground, I could only say "Hooray!  We are finally going home."

I probably wouldn't be so frantic about getting back to Nevada if we were not leaving again at 1am on Tuesday morning.  We would usually get there the day before and spend the night, but we really need every day we can have in Nevada.  We have to be in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by 1:30 pm on Tuesday, January 5th, to board the new Seabourn Odyssey.  We are taking a 16 day cruise from Florida to Los Angeles through the Panama Canal.  So away goes all the sweaters and coats and I'll start digging out the t-shorts, shorts, and swimsuit again.  I will have a round up of my finishes for 2009 tomorrow (after all I have 14 hours to finish one more project, lol) and some posts on 2010 plans after that.  I don't know how much I can post from the boat.  They have internet, but it is rather pricey.  May all of you have a Happy New Year and lots of stitching in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Can Almost Taste It

Yes!  The mixer is stitched.  Half the backstitching is done.  Another heart is added.  A quarter of the red border is done.  I should have this finished by tonight or tomorrow.  I already started kitting up the next design in the series, Lil' Cupcake, and decided what colors I can stitch on a plane without using beads.  I may have done a lot of this week's beading sitting on a sofa, but I am not crazy enough to bead on a moving airplane!

We head back to Nevada late tomorrow.  I can not wait to be home!  I love my in-laws and have enjoyed all our conversations, but physically this has been a tough trip.  My mother-in-law's guest room is just big enough for a double bed.  Two large grownups in a double bed means not much sleep unless we take turns.  Instead of being almost too warm, my mother-in-law has turned the heater down to almost cold enough to see your breath.  And the hot water heater is hardly up to the task of a short shower.  When I get home I am taking a long, hot, deep bath and curling up in our king bed under our feather comforter.  It really doesn't take much, just space and hot water [OK, OK, and WiFi], to make me happy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Working

Here's the latest picture of Mix It Up.  The mixer itself is almost finished.  Then I need to finish the tedious red band at the bottom, two more hearts, some lettering, and backstitching all around.  I should get a lot of this done this evening while the family is watching the Kentucky - Clemson football game. 

Football is not a sport that interests me, but I can stitch while the others watch.  Since my father-in-law taught at UK, my niece and nephew went there and Lexington is really just a college town, UK sports of all kinds are really big here.  I am fond of UK basketball, where there is a lot more action than football, but I don't follow SEC sports that way everyone else does.  My sister-in-law and niece even have tickets for the SEC finals in Nashville in March.  When the kids were growing up, every day was sports day for them.  I'll stick to indoor pursuits of reading and stitching.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not Finished

This is as far I got with Tranquility before we left for the holidays Back East.  If I had gotten the shells themselves finished, I would have taken it with me and would have presented it anyway.  But with just the suggestion of shells in the bottom half, I decided to wait, finish and frame it before send I it off to my mother-in-law.  The two stitched and framed items that I gave my nephew's wife and my niece for Christmas were very well received.  My niece even gave me a gift certificate to The Stitch Niche.  So although I certainly do not need any more stash, I did get a couple more patterns.

Although I did not bring Tranquility with me to Kentucky, I have been stitching on Mix It Up.  Comparatively it is so small that I should have it completely finished before we leave on Tuesday.  That will mean that three of the six Kitchen Collection designs will be finished.  I brought two others with me and will probably start one of them.  I also brought the canvas piece that I bought in Austin, Texas, Angel Cat.  My mother-in-law always gives us money for Christmas and asks us to buy something.  We always have something to show her that we bought with her money, so I showed her Angel Cat.  I am eager to start it, but I also think that it would be the perfect start for January 1, 2010.  I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to the new year as much as I am.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Finished!!

Like many of you, I am pretty good about finishing a piece of stitching, but less enthusiastic about finishing finished stitching into something useful.  Case in point is this cow which I stitched for my niece.  I finished stitching it in 2000? 1995? earlier?  So it feels particularly good to have this framed and packed for our trip back east.  I've been looking for a bright pink frame for it for a long time, but have finally just settled for this bright red frame.  Actually, I think it looks good.

I would have never tried framing a stitched piece myself if I hadn't seen a tutorial on framing using stainless steel pins and acid-free foam core rather than lacing. I've always been a bit intimidated by lacing. I was sure the fabric would fall apart when I gave the lacing a final tug. And I knew I would never get the picture straight with only lacing.  But with pins, I lined everything up and measured it before and after placing the center and edge pins.  When things weren't exactly even, I could always unpin and repin.  Success!  I just hope all these pins don't set off the TSA metal detectors!

I am now so jazzed about framing like this, I want to frame up all of my stitched pieces. The only problem, of course, is that I have particular ideas about the frames I want for each piece, but I don't have the frames in hand. I least I know I can do framing when I get the frames.  And even better we now have two gifts for people who had no gifts before. 

Christmas is always a really big holiday for my husband's family.  When we all were younger we had lists that we gave each other and we shopped for the perfect things.  Now that we are all much older, none of us can think of things that we truly want or need.  James told his mother that he was going to wear a bow in his hair and that would be her Christmas gift.  Believe me, she would be perfectly fine with that.  We can get some things for the kids, but they are only one and three.  Not quite old enough for the traditional toys of dolls, trains, and books.  Usually we just land in Lexington and spend the next two or three days shopping.  We will probably do that again, but if my brother-in-law gets a stuffed iguana, then it serves him right for not giving us any suggestions.  Of course, I am equally bad.  I couldn't think of a single thing that I could get for my husband or that he could get for me.  Maybe I'll be the one getting the stuffed iguana.

Today is the day of traditional Chores That Need To Be Done Before We Leave:  cleaning the cat room and washing their bedding, shopping for cat food, cleaning up the kitchen, packing, and picking up the See's candy that we bring back east for the Christmas morning feast.  If we don't bring my sister-in-law some Key Lime Truffles, we will hear about it.  She has convinced her children and husband that they are "spoiled".  More for her! It's good to have these family traditions.  I hope you are all enjoying traditions of your own.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Progress and A Problem

I was very pleased to finish the upper left hand quadrant a week ago Friday.  This project seemed to be moving along smartly.  But then I looked at the calendar.  There were less than two weeks until we left for Back East.  There certainly wasn't enough time to get this framed, even if I did it myself.  Usually, in these cases, I just wait until next year and promise myself I would get it finished by then.  But James' mother is 89 year old and frail.  She might not be around next Christmas.  Maybe I could wrap up the finished stitching and frame it later.

But as the week went by, I realized that even with dedicated stitching, I wouldn't be able to finish the stitching before we left.  This was even more apparent when I miscounted one row on the inner frame and had to unstitch all the bottom inner frame and several shells along the bottom.  Still, I couldn't just abandon the project, so I have been soldiering along, stitching as much as I can each day.  Much of the inner lower left quadrant is finished, but that leaves a lot of water below the inner frame and all of the lower right quadrant.  It is apparent that I won't finish this before Christmas, but I should be able to finish and frame this before the end of January.  I've heard of belated birthday presents.  I guess this will be a belated Christmas present.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Austin Stash

It is nice to find patterns you don't already have.  The clerk that was helping me at Ginger's also loves sheep and pointed out Sophie's Sheep.  The other two sheep I found on my own.
But it is not all sheep.  I particularly liked the Three Stockings model I saw right by the front door.  They had done the pine needles in Artic Rays rather than regular thread.  It gave the piece a wonderful three dimensional look.  Besides sheep, I do love pumpkins.  This small pattern should be good to take as a traveling piece.
But I have to say that my favorite purchase of the trip was this 18 count canvas from The Needle Works.  I had a ton of fun ransacking all their luscious threads looking for just the right ones for this project.  I started doing needlepoint and only came to cross stitch late in my stitching life.  Cross stitch probably makes more sense for me as I am drawn to intricate patterns on small count canvas.  Although I have a ton of needlepoint stitch pattern books, I find myself doing basketweave and continental with lots of different threads rather than patterns with a lot of background stitches.  Right now all I want to do is start this project, but I am being good and working on my shells.  If I put in some hours today, I should have another quarter of the pattern done.  But I can tell that 2010 will be the year of needlepoint.  I have a stash of canvases that are crying out for some attention.  I am very tempted to take this canvas with me back east for Christmas, but I can't do that unless I have some stitchy presents finished first.  Back to stitching!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yes, Things Are BIGGER in Texas



I have to thank Anna and Jane for pointing me to these two fabulous needlework shops.  First I hunted down Ginger's Needlarts, Quilts & Framing. 



You do have to do a bit of searching to find them.  They are in Cameron Village just north of 51st Street, but I passed them the first time and had to swing around again to find them.



Yes, they do have a bit of quilting materials, but mostly they have dozens and dozens of models and hundreds and hundreds of patterns. I have to admit I bought several patterns just because I saw their lovely models. They don't have a website yet, but they do ship via mail order if you call them and ask them if they have a particular pattern in stock. The clerks there are quite knowledgeable and can probably tell you if they have a pattern right over the phone. If they don't have it at the moment they are quite willing to tell customers where they could check for the pattern or supply online.  They also have a good selection of fabric and threads and hundreds of buttons and beads. In the back is a huge classroom where they also have open stitching nights.



But I couldn't leave Austin without checking out The Needle Works. Again it is huge, but tucked away in back of a funky southwestern mall.  (Look for the Frost ATM sign with the 1206 address.)  It is a truly fabulous needlepoint store. They might not have as many canvases as I've seen in other stores (but then again they were also having a 35% off sale, so many canvases could have gone home with someone else before I got there.) However, they have the most complete collection of threads I have ever seen.  Needlepoint Inc. and Gloriana silks, all the Rainbow Gallery lines, Renaissance and Dinky Dyes, and of course, hundreds of colors of wool.  I really wish that I lived closer so that I could take a class in their fabulous classroom where there is plenty of room to spread out and daylight lamps for all.

So what did I buy?  Ah, you will have to wait until next week to see that. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corner #2

Yes, the top left hand corner is finished.  In fact I think about the top third of the entire design is finished.  But finishing the top is important because the entire design is just a little too big to fit on 11" x 11" Q-snaps.  Now I can reposition the fabric to work more on the center and the bottom.

I am feeling better and looking forward to going to Austin, Texas, tomorrow.  We leave at o'dark o'clock when the temperature here is supposed to be below freezing (though no snow!)  So do I take my bulky down jacket, which is probably too warm for Austin, or something lighter?  I don't think a sweater will be quite enough, but since I don't have to wear coats that often, I don't have a lot to choose from.  I hear there is a great needlepoint store in Austin, where I just might have to stop.  But mostly I want to get some Texas things for my nephew's children (girl, 2 1/2 and boy, 1).  Not that they don't have a hundred stuffed toys, but wouldn't a plushy armadillo be fun?  Yes, I am taking this stitching with me, but probably will not stitch on the two flights (both short).  There should be time to stitch while listening to people talk.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Shells

No, I didn't post this before Thursday and I didn't drive to Los Angeles either.  On Thursday morning I not only felt awful, but I hadn't gotten much sleep at all the night before.  So I sent my husband off to LA and decided to stay home and rest up.  It did give me plenty of time to stitch, so some more shells in the upper left quadrant are done.  Actually there are less shells to do in this quadrant than any of the others.  Most of the upper left area is blank.  Also some of the shells have only three or four colors rather than twenty, so they are stitching up much faster.  However, it is time to go back to the water on the left side.  When I just can't face another confetti stitch, I can always go back to the rows and rows of water.  After all there is much more water than shells.

This week is resting up to make sure I am up to the trip to Austin, Texas this weekend.  We leave very early on Friday morning, but will be back on Sunday.  All I have to do is go and eat BBQ (and talk to my friends who I missed seeing in LA).  I should be up for that.