Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fledging the Nest

Moving well into March already - can you believe it?  I'm fully aware that so many just north of our state line are thinking spring will never come.  But it's been here in Florida for awhile now and is already beginning to warm toward summer.  This spring I've had a much greater sense of the time passing.  So many important things are about to fledge very soon, not just the babies nesting with their mamas in our oak trees this spring. Funny, I even seem to have picked up that feeling as the birds in my latest stitching project have taken wing.

You'll remember from my previous post this is "Birds in the Bower", an old Goode Huswife design I'd stitched several years ago for my sister.    I'm loving the chance to return to it again.

There has been a lot of color changing along the way, but that's the price paid for such a chorus.

One more lower branch of songbirds to add in and then it's on to the verse and the bottom scallops.  As ever, Hannah Pepper is mostly a background noise, like a drone from a bag pipe.  More about her later, but for now I'm focusing on things that are about to fly.

Which brings me of course to my own fledgling, Halley.  This is  her just before she began her school days.....

...and one as she has her degree in sight at the end of the month. 

 The girl has always sported a hat with a true sense of style!  But she's also been single-minded about her goals and where they'll take her, in spite of some formidable obstacles at times. I couldn't be prouder of you Halley!  You've become the woman this mama raised you to be, and now you're ready to spread your wings. 

Molly will of course always keep an eye on your shoes.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Springtime shows up early here in Florida and it now seems to be bursting out all over.  Our azaleas are in full bloom.  The live oak trees in our backyard are all either dropping their old leaves or putting out new ones. And birds are everywhere!  Hummingbirds are passing through, hawks are nesting, sand hill cranes are swooping in and the usual chorus of jays, mockingbirds and redbirds are showing their colors and raising a racket every morning.

With all this springtime bird commotion, it seems quite fitting that when visiting with my sisters and mother last month, I had the chance to take another long look at a piece I'd stitched several years ago for my sister Teresa.

This is an old one from Goode Huswife called "Birds in the Bower".  You'll have to forgive the yellowish background in the photo, courtesy of my phone's camera.  When Teresa lived in Minnesota, she had an apple tree in her yard that attracted songbirds all through the summer.  This design seemed like the perfect piece for her, a way she could enjoy her songbirds even through the long Minnesota winters.  Since then, she's moved further south more than once, but each time her songbirds have found a place of honor.  It was a thrill to see them again in her new home outside Dallas.  I decided then and there it was time for the Florida branch of the family to also have its tree of songbirds.  After all,  it's the year of reckless abandon. Why hesitate to re-stitch - re-tweet? - this little treasure?

So here's the first attempt at re-tweeting.

I quickly noticed that something wasn't quite right with this first redo, though it took a while to figure out what the deal was.  I was using the exact same overdyed thread conversion I used on the original.  While the linen might not have been exactly the same as the first, it wasn't different enough to account for what was bothering me.  The it dawned on's been such a long long while since I'd stitched anything with more than a single thread of floss that I hadn't even considered the possibility of using two on this re-tweet.  And it's been just long enough that more than likely the original piece for Teresa was the last one I'd done that way.  Fortunately, the piece of mystery linen in play was long enough that I could just turn it upside down and avoid any soul crushing stitch removal. A quick reversal of fortunes and the second re-tweet was underway.  See the difference?

In the spirit of reckless abandon, I'll just stitch these songbirds until my ongoing commitment to Hannah Pepper thaws back out.   And yes Carol, one of these tweets is going to appear as a cardinal!

All is not lost - again - on Hannah Pepper.  I think she's just gone back to the frozen north for awhile, as it seems her progress along the bottom border was moving at a glacial pace.  Here's where we ground to a halt.

I put this same picture as the cover photo on my Facebook page, mostly as a nag to myself that Hannah still isn't done.  Funny thing is, now I mostly just don't go to my Facebook page for not wanting to be shamed by the photo!

How cool is this?

Not many people can witness a NASA rocket launch just by walking down to the neighborhood park a few minutes before lift-off and watch it all happen in real time.  Jim and Halley did just that last week after work when the Space X DSCOVR went up from Kennedy Space Center.  Seeing how the actual launch site is two hours away from us, the view was rather spectacular!

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit.  Hope wherever you are that springs finds its way to you soon!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not So Reckless After All

Well, after throwing caution to the wind and declaring all sorts of new things as a New Year's resolution, everything since then, at least stitching-wise, has been a little short of reckless.  Isn't that how it always goes?  I gave myself permission to go a little crazy. I even made a few purchases, namely the silks for Mary Bate.....

...and the linen for His Eye Is on the Sparrow.   But as the holidays faded away and time got back to the usual limits, it was just plain easier to stick with what was already underway, namely Hannah Pepper. 

Since this picture was taken, I've turned  the bottom right corner completely and have been progressing sedately along the bottom border  She'll be a beauty when she's done,  but at this rate Miss Hannah isn't going to see a finish any time soon.  But that's OK.  Next weekend is Super Bowl Sunday and maybe then I'll take a walk on the wild side.

A big reason for the lack of time - other than work and life in general - is that I've been traveling since my last post.  My sweet mom turned 86 last week, so my family gathered in Dallas for a Texas-sized birthday bash.  I think Mom might still be pooped from it, but she looked pretty happy on the big day. 

Best of all, the visit meant a girls weekend with my sisters.  Here we all are - from left to right is our niece Gracie, then Teresa, Jane, Judy and myself.

You can bet there was non-stop chatter and very little sleep all weekend long!  While the big get-together was in its planning stages, we all though it would be great fun to bring along a little hand made gifty for each other.  We are a pretty clever family after all, and Mom is always an inspiration.  So let me showcase the goods. 

I quickly rounded up some little PS fruits I'd stitched a long time ago, then sent them off to the ever resourceful Faye to see what she could do with them for the girls.  Since we're all big tea lovers, she didn't disappoint.

Teresa is a knitting goddess, whipping up beautiful little lacy shawlettes for all.  Mine was knitted with 3 Irish Girls custom "Gulf of Mexico".

Judy is big into beaded bracelets and rosaries.   I feel like a little bit of Judy's style has rubbed off on me every time I look at my wrist now. 

And Jane, never one to be out-done by her older sisters, showed up with lovely hand coiled baskets for each.  Mine is now safely ensconced on my stitching table, perfect for holding embroidery scissors and other needful things.

I had a wonderful visit with all my family, but it was still good to be back home.  I think I was missed, at least by Ruby.  What a sweetie she is!

So I'm hoping this finds everyone safe, warm and ready for another week.  As always, thanks so much for taking a few moments to stop by!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Year of Reckless Abandon

Happy, Happy New Year!  2015 has gotten off to a contented start so far - a good walk, a good book, a good dinner in the works and still time ahead before the vacation bubble bursts and it's back to the rat race reality.  How has your new year begun?

First things first though.  Here's a huge heartfelt Thank You! to those who took the time to watch "Remembering Yesterday, Celebrating Today", shared on my previous post.  My mother has always been a unique and gifted woman.  It means all the world right now to share her quilting with others who can appreciate it.  The holidays this year have brought a heightened sense of time passing when I think of my Mom. Sharing her through this video has been a way to hold on.

It's been so much fun the past few days to see everyone's "Stitching Year in Review" posts! As for me, I'll give some credit where it's due and take a quick glimpse at what's been accomplished with my own stitching. It's fun to go back to the last New Year's post to see if I met my goals.  You'll recall that I only had 3 of them:

1. Finish Ann Grimshaw.  Check!

2.  Finish Frances Eden.  Got 'er done.

and 3. Finish Hannah Pepper.  Not so much......

In spite of not meeting my finishing goal with poor long-suffering Hannah, I can at least say she was the last project I worked on in 2014 and the first one in 2015.  Surely that's got to have some kind of powerful mojo for getting her done....sometime?  I think you can see from these photos where my extreme aversion to any more over one stitching came from.

But I do take some comfort in the fact that even though Hannah is still a thorn in my side, Sarah Tuel has crossed over to the finished side and is now patiently awaiting a framed afterlife.  Thank you Jesus!

Other than finishing Miss Hannah, I've decided that rather than making strict, specific goals for myself like I did last year, I would instead proclaim 2015 as "The Year of Reckless Abandon".  Basically that means a few simple things. 

1.  If I feel like stitching on it, I will.

2.  If I feel like starting it, I will.

3.  If I don't feel  like working on it, I won't.

4.  If I worry that too many projects are in the works, I'll pour a glass of wine.

See what I mean?  Reckless abandon!  And to kick off TYRA  - yes, The Year of Reckless Abandon  -  I didn't even wait until January 1 to throw caution to the wind.  Somewhere in mid-December, I  started something new - because I felt like it!  Here's progress to date on The SL Scottish Band Sampler, which so far has been a lot of fun.

These ornate letters have more festive curlicues on them than all the Who's down in Whoville. 

So that's where things stand on January 1, 2015.  Tomorrow the mail lady will bring the silks for a start on Mary Bate.  The linen for His Eye Is On the Sparrow is in a dye vat somewhere, but hopefully it will turn up without too much delay and I'll start it too.  Who knows where they'll stand next post?!

Wishing you all the brightest and best this new year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Remembering Yesterday, Celebrating Today

Hi!  I have something very special to share, a gift from my brother Dan. 

Those of you who've ready my blog for awhile will remember what I've shared about my mother and extraordinary quilting accomplishments. Our family has been the awed witnesses and grateful recipients of her creations, always wondering what would spring forth next as she hummed away at her machine.  At times we were mystified by terms like "Stitch in the Ditch" and "Fussy Cutting", but in the end we were also amazed at the stunning result.  And even more amazing, mom used each of her quilts as a spur for making the next one that much more exquisite.

Mom moved to Texas this summer, which was a bittersweet life change for her.  However my brother Dan had the foresight to spend some time with her ahead of that move, asking about the quilts and what she felt and thought about as she put them together. .  He captured her essence perfectly I think.  Please click on the link below to see the video Dan produced.

I'm very proud to share my mother and her quilts.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Different

Hello and Happy Holidays! I'm hoping this finds everyone ready for the Christmas home stretch.  Mercifully, my office is closed for the next two weeks and we have no big plans for the time off.  So other than cooking some decent meals and walking every morning, I intend to stitch my way into the next year. Sounds like a great holiday vacation, doesn't it?

So after finishing off Miss Sarah Tuel a few weeks ago, I was ready for something completely different....something with silks, vibrant colors and no over one stitches anywhere.  Now the logical place to start would have been to choose a project from my stitching bucket list, right?  And maybe I did, even though I didn't officially add this sampler  to the roster.  This likely candidate has been biding its time - fully kitted, I might add - in my stash for a shameful length of time. To make the announcement official, I started in on The Scottish Band Sampler from Scarlet Letter.  

Talk about a big change of pace for me, being much more the faded color, American school girl stitcher that I am.  But the SBS has been on the brain - and in my stash - ever since I saw it finished by one of the ladies in my old stitching group.  The eyelet bands and flame stitch bottom glowed to the point that it was hard to take my eyes off them.  And somehow the jewel tone greens and reds even of the border and top alphabet seem a lot like those in a festive holiday piece.  How could I resist?

Around Thanksgiving, I did also showed a little more love to Mary Goodburn, who I started earlier last summer.  Don't know how well you can see it on this picture of the chart, but she stole my heart with her little ship at the very bottom. 

While Miss Mary is much more in keeping with my typical sampler style, she has a bit of a personality problem.  With all her muted putty, dove and faded pink alphabet letters to this point, she quickly becomes a very dull companion.

 I'm sure I'll wander along with her off and on because she's so straightforward she's easy to take up with  whenever the need for stress-free business arises.  Maybe the pace will quicken with her once I'm done with the top alphabet portion, but getting to that point is putting me fast asleep!

One of my favorite things about the holidays in Florida is that all the seasonal plants that are usually found blooming on table tops and wind sills up north actually thrive outdoors down here.  Jim brought this hanging Christmas cactus home last year and as soon as it was done blooming, we stashed it on a corner of the patio and completely forgot it.  The only water or attention it ever received was what came its way during summer rainstorms, and yet here it is in full glory again as of this morning.

I've been thinking a lot about my mother lately and wondering what the next year will bring for her as she turns 86 in January.  It seemed very special this year to give a  place of honor to my nativity set, which is always the centerpiece for her Christmas season. 


I love you Mom! Wherever the star leads, I know you have the faith to follow it.

Merry Christmas and as always, thanks for taking time to stop in and say hello.  God bless us, every one!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Been There, Done That, Won the Giveaway (Part 2)

Hello again everyone!  How was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was a classic - a brisk morning walk, a perfect turkey roasted all day on the Weber and a nearly disastrous apple pie.  I won't go into the details with that barely avoided catastrophe, but will just say  we are more than a little overdue for a new oven. Thank goodness the fire department wasn't necessary!

So to continue with the "been there, done that" theme, let me pick up where I left off on my last post.   As for Been There, the birthday celebration meandered all the way south for a few days of frolicking in Key West.  Greetings from Margaritaville!

And from the top of the Key West lighthouse......

....where the water and sky really are this brilliant. 

I love it during our adventures when I'm taken by surprise with an unexpected bit of needlework.  It happened this trip inside the lighthouse museum, where I found this little  piece of embroidery on a table cloth.  There was no information about it and I doubt if it's really even a piece that is original to the lighthouse, but it was charming just the same.

Jim took pictures the entire trip and I looked for interesting patterns that will eventually become  motifs for my dreamed of  Key West sampler.  This time we found inspiration in the San Carlos Institute, which is an old Cuban social club, similar to those we have in Tampa,  Today it houses a wonderful museum.

We also found some lovely patterns on the steps of the old Key West City Hall.

It was 4 days full of long walks, porches and churches with sky blue ceilings, vibrant music and time together.  As always, I came home already anticipating the next visit back.

And now for the Done That - Sarah Tuel, DONE!

I had a lot of ambivalence about Sarah.  Those flowers at times seemed really drab.

And to say the least, her townsfolk were a rather intimidating crew....

...but in the end, I love her wildness...

...and the details that appear to be identical at first are really very unique to a more observant eye.  Thank you Sarah - you were a meandering romp of a project!

So that brings me to the Won the Giveaway portion of the post... 

The lucky stitcher who wins my gently used copy of the chart for the Armchair Necessaire is Lisa, The Inspired Stitcher!  Lisa, if you will send me your mailing address, I'll get this little goody off to you within the next few days.

Whew, I feel like I've been composing this post all day!  And tomorrow is the return to reality, meaning the start of another work week.  Better go find something to stitch on and savor my waning moments of Thanksgiving vacation.  Thanks for stopping by!