Friday, January 29, 2010

Is It Stash...

if you already have patterns and are just buying the fabric and threads?  ;-)  I've been looking all over for this 32 count Belfast in Thundercloud for the new Prairie Moon patterns Crypt Club and Merry Cryptmas.  I finally ordered it from Stitchin' Bits and Bobs.  I know they can take a while to fulfill an order, but it does get here eventually in good shape.  The actual fabric is a bit more gray and less blue than the photograph, but lots of the photos I've seen of these projects make the fabric look blue.  Even though I now have both of these projects kitted up, I don't intend to stitch them right away.  I have too many WiPs as it is and they will take first priority.  But it certainly is nice to have these to look forward to.  I guess I just am not drawn to any tiny projects.  :-)  Everything I have is medium sized or massive!

We had our first meeting since the building permit was granted with our contractors this morning. Everything seems to be moving along. They are lining up subcontractors and should be ready to start the retaining walls on February 25 when we get back from Hawaii. Meanwhile we are going to settle down tonight and watch my latest purchase -- the first six years of NCIS. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

First Finish for 2010 (and A New Start)

Yes, I finished Lil' Cupcake on Tuesday night. Yesterday was so rainy, I had to take this picture using my Ott light.  This makes four of the six Mill Hill Kitchen Collection designs finished.  I will probably have the other two finished by the end of the year.  I'll will look for more Mill Hill kits as I do like beading.  It gives such dimension and sparkle to these projects.

I mentioned a new start, but it's not what you might have expected. After eight months in building permit hell (and an ultimatum to the new contractors), we now have all our building permits to start our new house. I had certainly given up thinking about the project.  I will have to get back my enthusiasm because it really is going to happen. We have our next meeting with the contractors tomorrow morning and we will know more then about when we actually break ground.  It will take about three months to build the retaining walls before we can start on the actual house itself.  The entire project will probably take 13 - 15 months, though I can always hope that it is finished sooner.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's A Cupcake

This is what I finished stitching on the ship. It turns out that the pebbled surface of the card tables work just fine for keeping beads from falling off the table, even when the ship is rocking quite a bit. We had heavy swells from Cabo to Los Angeles as we sailed through the storms that were leaving inches of rain all over the Southwest.  I'm not affected by pitching and yawing, so I was fine.  Actually I have most of this project done.  There are just a few backstitches to do.  Therefore a happy dance is in the future, probably tomorrow.  Then I will return to Tranquility (The Shells), which certainly has a lot more to stitch than just some backstitching.  We are going to make a short trip to Los Angeles this weekend for two meetings.  I think I will take Angel Cat along with me.  There should be some mindless background stitches I can do during the first board of directors meeting.  The second meeting is a hotel walkthrough for a convention this summer.  I am doing the programming and need to see what the spaces look like.

This is a picture of the double helix staircases on the Seabourn Odyssey. All the Seabourn ships have these lovely staircases (and elevators).  This is looking down from the ninth deck (The Spa) to the fourth deck (The Restaurant).  Our cabin was on the sixth deck, so very convenient to stairs and all the other decks.  Carolyn McNeal suggested that I might miss the ship once I had gotten home.  Well, actually, no.  We took just the minimal amount of clothes, so I was quite tired of wearing the same things over and over.  Not to mention that there is much more space in our house than in our cabin, no matter how well appointed.  It was a nice trip, but I am really glad to be home where I can spread out and not have to pack up my needlework after every session.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to Cross Stitch

It's been fun working on Angel Cat, but it's also fun to move on to another project.  While the seas were calm I started back on Lil' Cupcake, the fourth Mill Hill Kitchen Design from Debbie Mumm.  I must have been particularly motivated to stitch so much of the white frosting as stitching in white is my least favorite stitching.  This was my progress as of Monday. Now I have both the chocolate and vanilla frosting done and most of the cupcake holder.  This design is much smaller than the toaster or the mixer, so they make it up in a deeper band of random green and white at the bottom.  That's going to take me a while.

Monday was my favorite day on the cruise.  We stopped at Cabo San Lucas.  The weather was perfect, sunny with a gentle breeze.  The Sea of Cortez was smooth as glass.  We got up and got on a snorkeling boat to see the fish at Santa Maria Bay.  I even had my special mask with the lens inserts for my prescription, so I could see the fish.  While we were motoring to the snorkeling spot we saw several whales (and their babies), some as close as 15 yards.  The water was a bit chilly for me (who likes my bathwater lobster boiling temperature), but I got used to it pretty quickly.  There were a lot of fish I recognized from Hawaii and some that were quite different.  Lots of people (passengers and crew) remarked how much they liked Cabo and were looking to come back again.

Now we are back on the Pacific Ocean headed for Los Angeles and the seas are full of giant swells.  No real white caps, but you can feel the motion of the ocean.  Our suitcases are laid out on the bed and have to be outside our door tonight by 11 pm.  It's been a restful cruise, but I will be glad to be home.  Even though I can get tasty food 24/7 on the boat, it's always the small things I miss, like potato chips and Mexican food.  The cooks are all Europeans, so the Weinerschnitzel is delicious as is the Saltimbocca, but don't ask for peanut butter and jelly.  Though I would gladly take our cabin stewardess home with me.  Fresh towels twice a day (and fresh sheets on the bed) are truly heavenly.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Wing and A ... Leg?

Well, that's what I have been stitching over the past few days.  There is also a good part of the tail done and I have started on the green background.  The dark green swirls are Glorianna Perle Silk in Forest.  It's quite variegated.  The dark bits are almost black, but overall I love the colors.  I was going to stitch the fish in the same Glorianna Perle Silks of the background colors with the ribbon in Fiesta Snow as the heart is, but when Cyn asked about how I was going to stitch the fish, all of a sudden I realized that I'd much rather have a slightly shiny fish and a fuzzy ribbon.  I know I have some red RG Very Velvet at home, but I don't know if it will fit in 18 count or whether I need to get some Very Velvet Petite.  I think I have some RG Neon Rays (the same slightly shiny ribbon used on the paw pads)  that will work for the fish.  But it will be quite a while before I get to the fish.  Although I brought Tranquility (The Shells), it is really too large and complex to stitch on the ship.  When we get home, that will get my full least for a while.

When the ship was in port in Guatemala, I took out Lil' Cupcake and started on the beading. It was OK to stitch it in the comfy chairs and low tables of the library, but now that we are gently rolling on the Sea of Cortez on our way to Los Cabos, I tried out the Card Room.  The chairs weren't very comfy, but the textured leather table is perfect for keeping the beads from rolling around and the height is just right for setting out all the threads and scissors for an easy reach.  I'll go back there and stitch after this post (assuming the bridge players haven't taken all the tables.)   We are going snorkeling in Cabo tomorrow, but then there are two days at sea before we land in Los Angeles on Thursday.  It might be Angel Cat all the way home if the heavy seas off the coast of California continue.  Overall our weather has been almost perfect.  Sunshine and a few puffy clouds, but not too hot.  Yesterday in Acapulco was the only day we have had any rain.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Arm And A Leg

 The left arm and leg are done. I am quite happy with the colors and textures that I chose for this cat, even though they do not exactly match the colors painted on the canvas. In several spots I went for a softer shade (especially the bright pink paws).  This is actually my stitching done by Sunday.  I have since started on the other leg and the left wing.  Since I spent more time concentrating on the color of the thread rather than the weight, I am happy to find that the pearl silks I chose actually fit on 18 count mesh.  I'd like to start on some of the green background, but want to finish the brown (which I changed to brown gray) shading around the cat first before starting the green.  I've been pretty careful to stitch from an empty hole to a filled one in most cases.

This is a picture of our ship, Seabourn Odyssey, docked in Cartagena, Columbia. It's a pretty big boat, but only carries 450 passengers. The previous Seabourn ships we have sailed on only carry 210 passengers with about as many crew as passengers. I can't say that bigger is better. On the smaller ships the crew knows your name and preferences in about a day. There might not be a coffee bar with a gigantic espresso machine, but the food was much better. Still there is everything from caviar to lobster to steak at every meal. The alcohol is endless, the staterooms are large with a tub and a shower in the bathroom.  Still there are no comfy chairs with good lighting to stitch.  Even the upper bar area where I stitched on other ships is glassed with dark, dark glass here.  I haven't stitched near as much as I thought I would, but on the other hand I have been getting plenty of sleep and reading. Tomorrow we land in Guatemala, then two ports in Mexico and finally Los Angeles.

Grrr. I hate this new version of Blogger. I can't seem to get the second pictures and text to line up next to each other no matter what I do. Maybe it is time to check out another blogging platform. OK, modified the HTML to make it work, but I really shouldn't have to do this.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I Don't Stitch More

Because I read 125 books in 2009.  OK, there are plenty of times that I can't stitch -- when the airplane I am in is taking off or landing, when I am eating or when I am taking a bath.  (I love to read for a couple of minutes in a warm bath before I go to bed.)  But I also listened to 6 audiobooks this year while I was stitching, so books and stitching are not completely incompatible.

Of the 125 books I read, 106 were fiction and 19 were nonfiction.  I thought I read more nonfiction this year, but many of these books were dense (and several are still WiPs).  Of the 106 Fiction books I read; 43 were science fiction, 30 were mysteries, 21 were fantasy, 12 were graphic novels, 11 were anthologies, 7 were Advanced Reading Copies, 6 were audiobooks, and 4 were thrillers.  This doesn't add up to 106 as there are several overlapping categories  One of my favorite books was John Birmingham's Without Warning, a post apocalyptic, military, political novel.  I'm not a fan of military science fiction in general, but there is something about John Birmingham's pedal to the medal writing style and sociological insights that just resonates with me.  I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones read by Roy Dotrice.  Although I had read this book when it first was published, listening to it was another entertaining experience.  My favorite anthology was Cyberabad Days by Ian MacDonald, a group of short stories of a future India that add up to a better story than most novels.  My favorite mysteries were the Kate Shugak novels of a native Alaskan woman who is a private eye in the Bush by Dana Stabenow.  The interlocking family stories are even better than the convoluted mysteries.  My favorite graphic novels were Y: The Last Man, which had both a great story and beautiful illustrations.   My favorite nonfiction book was How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell got more press, but it was a confused and illogical attempt to talk about decision making compared to the infinitely better How We Decide.

The worst books I read last year?  In nonfiction, Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story by Evan I. Schwartz.  I learned to read using the Oz books when I was only four.  To say they are close to my heart is faint praise.  So I was excited to learn more about the author and how these books came to be.  Instead of a reasoned biography, this book is a apologetic, revisionist history about how L. Frank Baum couldn't have possibly hated American Indians.  There isn't much about how the stories came to be or much history about what happened after the first book was published.  I was truly disappointed.  In fiction, it's a tie between The Copper Bracelet, a collaborative novel started by Jeffery Deaver and We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, a contemporary novel of a journalist in Afghanistan, by James Meek.  Collaborative novels are a bad idea.  Each chapter changes the tone and emphasis of the story.  In this book, I assumed that each author tried to kill off an important character so that the following authors would have a harder time continuing the story.  Only Lisa Scottoline's chapter was written with any skill or grace.  We Are Now Beginning Our Descent is a book at reminds me why I don't read much contemporary fiction.  The narrator is a whiny, over privileged hack whose life is falling apart because he is a jerk.  Overall, nothing much happens.  Unfortunately, I find this description is true of most modern novels.  I guess I just like Dickens and other authors who actually have a plot and characters I can care about.

This will probably be my last post for a while.  Today I am starting to lay out my clothes and stitching that I will taking on the cruise.  We leave for the boat late Monday night.  Although internet access is available on the boat, I don't don't know how much I am willing to pay for it, though there should be a lot of stitching (and a lot of reading) while I am sailing.  May January treat you well and may you enjoy your friends, family, and stitching.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Start, New Goals

It's appropriate that I start the new year with a canvas project.  I have a number of canvas projects that I totally ignored last year, so this is the Year of Canvas.  This is a lovely project with great colors and exact painting.  No guessing whether a stitch is one color or another.  It took me a lot longer to decide what thread to use where, than it did to stitch the middle part that I did stitch.  That is one of the joys of canvas -- there are so many threads to choose from.  So far I have used Appleton wool, Caron's Snow (the sparkly red heart), RG Cashmere, RG Neon Rays, RG Splendor, and RG Tweedie.  The green background will be all Gloriana.

Which is not to say that I am abandoning cross stitch altogether.  I still have several WiPs to finish, especially Tranquilty (The Shells) and the Under the Sea applique project for my nephew's son.  I need to finish that blanket before he is too big to use it.  I also want to concentrate on some recent purchases like Prairie Moon's Crypt Club patterns.  As RenĂ©e said, goals are just that.  Something to focus on, but not something to beat yourself over the head with.  So here are my goals for 2010.
  1. Start and Finish Angel Cat.
  2. Finish Bucilla’s Tranquility (The Shells).
  3. Finish Under the Sea.
  4. Finish Pineapple Fish.
  5. Finish Red and Black Box needlepoint.
  6. Finish Lil' Cupcake.
  7. Start and finish I'm Jammin'.
  8. Start and finish Easy As Pie.
  9. Finish Michael Powell’s Cottage Garden.
  10. Finish Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket.
  11. Finish Parts 3, 4, and 5 of Hawaiian Mandala.
  12. Start Ink Circle’s Beautie Spotte. (I have the threads for it, just need to order some fabric.)
  13. Sewing:
       One apron for my mother-in-law.
       Piece the top of Zig Zag quilt for the guest room
       One purse from my collection of bag patterns.
       Finish my husband's flamingo shirt.
       One piece of clothing for me.
       Make something with the pig cloth I collected for my sister-in-law.
       Make something with the cow cloth I collected for my niece.
 Extra credit:
  1. Start Crypt Club.
  2. Start Merry Cryptmas.
  3. Start Hang Ten.
  4. Start Teresa Wentzler’s Celestial Dragon.  (This should only take four or five years!  LOL!)
There are no really small projects, no Christmas ornaments, no flatfolds.  I guess I will never stitch 50 projects in one year.  I might do a couple of more Bent Creek sheep, especially if we fly a lot next year.  My husband and I got married because we wanted to drive his VW van from Timbuktu to Morocco.  We never did that, but we do have a strong case of wanderlust, even living in New Zealand for two years. 

Yes, I am waiting to finish all the Kitchen Collection before I frame them in matching (or contrasting) frames.  I'm also going to frame Rouge comme... similarly.  They will be all be hung in the hallway between the garage and the kitchen in the new house.  I have a few other food related cross stitch projects that I might hang there eventually.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Last 2009 Finish and 2009 Goals

I started Three Gables on January 1, 2009 and finished it on December 31, 2009.  It was almost done last October, but all the confetti colors on the ground and in the sky slowed me down.  Finishing this took longer than I thought it would.  The stitching, backstitching and French knots weren't too bad, but it took several tries to get the wreath to fit in the space given.  It was a fun piece and I enjoyed stitching it.

I wanted to concentrate on several WiPs this year, but didn't get as many done as I thought that I would.  Some of them will continue on my 2010 Goals list and some of them will become UFOs.  I finished three and a quarter of my goals, one extra credit item, and six unscheduled designs.

  1. Finish A Gift of Love.

  2. Stitch another bib for Amy’s new baby boy.
  3. Start and finish Cross Eyed Cricket’s Three Gables.

  4. Finish Michael Powell’s Cottage Garden.
  5. Finish Rouge ... comme.
  6. Finish Flower Fairy.
  7. Finish Bothy's Cut Thru Rocket.
  8. Finish Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 of Hawaiian Mandala.

  9. Start and finish one Kit & Bixby sheep.
  10. Start Ink Circle’s Beautie Spotte.
  11. Sewing:
    One apron for my mother-in-law.
    Piece the top of Zig Zag quilt for the guest room.
    One purse from my collection of bag patterns.
    Finish my husband's flamingo shirt.
    One piece of clothing for me.
    Make something with the pig cloth I collected for my sister-in-law.
    Make something with the cow cloth I collected for my niece.
Extra credit:
  1. Start Me, Myself and I Round Robin.
  2. Finish French Noel.

  3. Finish Pineapple Fish.
  4. Finish Red and Black Box needlepoint.
New Starts
  1. Started and finished Life Is Good.

  2. Started Under the Sea.
  3. Started and finished Winter Ewe.

  4. Started and finished Postcard from Paradise.

  5. Started and finished Bowled Over.

  6. Started and finished Toasty.

  7. Started and finished Mix It Up.
  8. Started Bucilla’s Tranquility (The Shells).

Even though I finished less than half of my 2009 Goals, I don't feel badly about that.  If I hadn't had this list, even more of these projects could have become UFOs.  I need some goals so that I can focus.  I never got out my sewing machine this year, but I intend to change that in 2010 and get some of these sewing projects finished.