Sunday, August 16, 2015

Planning Ahead

Hi!  I was so tickled earlier this week to sneak a look at my blog at lunchtime and find I'd gained some new followers.  Welcome!!  Knowing the blogging world has down-sized somewhat since I first signed on, I'd more or less accepted the fact that my list of followers wasn't going to be very extensive. It's a thrill to know that there are still new folks out there who've decided my intermittent ramblings are worth keeping up with.  I love blogging!  It makes me think more carefully about my stitching and  keep track of others who do the same.

So on that note, let's catch up since my last post. ....

Actual stitching time has been devoted exclusively to Hannah Pepper, who if all goes as planned, should be officially graduated by the end of September. 

I think the last time I shared a status update on Hannah, the bottom border was complete, but not much was underway as far as those bottom potted plants or life sucking grassy knoll they all sit on.  As you can see some of it has changed since then.  Here are some close ups.


Love the little crown detail up in the corner!  But I'm sorry, those big bottom blooms might just be be Venus fly traps.  Don't think I'm put my fingers too close to them.....

Following the flesh-eating potted plant is a lovely basket of citrus and what I think must be a lion on a leash.  Gotta put him on a shorter leash once all is said and done because the original one looks a little droopy at this point.

This bottom grassy knoll has been kicking my behind!  Not so much because of the solid stitching but because of those somewhat random brown patches.  Those of you who are working on Hannah but haven't reached those point - a word of advice:  chuck the chart with those fuzzy little symbols side by side and just go with the picture and your gut.  In the end, it won't matter one tiny bit if your finished Hannah's grassy knoll isn't identical to the original.  But it will matter that you're still sane and breathing, your eyesight is intact and your Hannah hasn't been incinerated.

Don't you just love that little doggy on the side of the urn?  Can't tell if he's a dachshund or a beagle, but just like my three girls, he's most definitely following his nose.  Who knows, maybe there's cheese or even just a dirty plate under that urn.....

But with Hannah's end so impending, part of the motivation to get her done once and for all has been in planning ahead to what comes next,  I have quite a bit of travel for work coming up in the next few weeks, so I thought I'd figure out something small and portable to work on in hotel rooms.  Diving through my stuff this weekend turned up one I've actually stitched before.  I'm sorry to say the stitching of it was lovely, but I completely mangled it in a crude attempt at finishing. Remember "The Angel of Tulips" by Good Huswife?

I already have a bit of linen and the left over silks to give her a second chance at life.

 I just need to remember that if I love her enough to give her another shot, I also have to love her enough to let Faye do the finishing.....

And I've also been considering starting another Quaker piece when Miss Hannah is all done.  Something that would compliment Ann Grimshaw and Sarah Tatum without being too similar.   And the perfect piece for that would be Raggamuffin 2 by Shakespeare's Peddler.  I've been in love with this gentle sampler since I first laid eyes on it.

I ordered up the silks for this beauty thinking I already had the Light Examplar linen needed for it.  But a ransack through the linen box yesterday determined anything that was the right size wasn't the right thread count of color.  Also when I did put the silks on the tiny little bit of light exemplar I did have, I think it looked a little too pink for what I was picturing.  Not sure at this point what to do about that.  Suggestions for an alternative?

Finally, let me show you some funky little tweezers I happened to stumble across recently while trying to keep myself entertained as Halley loaded her cosmetics basket at Ulta.  Aren't these cool?

I have to admit, those pretty beach colors are what caught my eye.  But on closer examination, I love that they are small and precise, perfect for picking thread remnants (and  dog hair) off stitching repairs.  And they come in their own awesome little leather sheath. just like they were intended all along to be needlework tools!

No doubt football season and cooler weather will be on the horizon for at least some of you very soon.  Where did the summer get off to?  As always, thanks for checking in!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Shoving Off

Is everyone one staying dry and cool?  I have to remind myself that not everywhere in the world is the weather wet, humid and spongy as it is here right now.  Mushrooms pop up overnight in my yard like a town of fungal prairie dogs....eewwww!  Wishing for some cool, dry breezes but there are absolutely none to be had.

So I thought I'd post a quickie on my finish of 7 Sailors, which will be shoving off for Ms. Faye's mountain hideaway tomorrow morning.  She's promised to do something unimaginable with them and a cigar box.  The waiting is going to kill me!

But here they are in all their rugged manliness....

I had so much fun with these dudes, wish I'd finished them sooner than I did.  Gotta love a sailor in a dress...

You'll notice the water isn't a solid stitch as indicated on the original chart.  That one had the waves stitched in solid bars varying in different shades of blue.  I wasn't really planning to do anything other than that, but since I was using overdyed threads anyway and each bar was stitched in alternating shades, the simplest way to go about it seemed like skipping every other stitch and then going back a second time.  Are you with me on that? 

But what I found was that I like the openness of it rather than the density of the original solid stitches.  It tended to pick up on the same pattern from the rigging and the crow's nest, yet the variegation of the thread itself still gave enough color changes.  See what I mean?

Haven't quite decided if that's a dog or a cat on board, but whatever it is it cracks me up.

Work has also been underway on Ms, Hannah Pepper, but it's mostly been a slog on the endless pasture at the bottom.  How can a solid span of grass be so boring and yet so nerve wracking at the same time?  So I've decided to spare the gritty details of that for another post when there will be a little more excitement to be shared on Hannah's behalf.  Let's just hope mushrooms don't start springing up in there as well...

Thanks for stopping in!

shovmh Off

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Heading Into the Dog Days

The middle of July in Florida means a turn into the dog days of summer.  Thunder, lightening and  more rain every day, tropical humidity and steaming temperatures, power outages at the most inconvenient times.....lovely!   It can only be that hurricane season is a few short weeks away.   But dog days this summer also come with a greeting and an enthusiastic waggle from Renny, who's managed to prove in a very short time that alpha dogs come in all shapes and sizes. 

So, let's do a stitching update, shall we?

Lisa, I sooo loved your last comment that Hannah Pepper has become my sanity piece.  Truer words were never said.  Hannah has been a very faithful friend this summer, one who lets me wonder off from time to time, but always welcomes me back when I'm ready.  Funny, now that her end is beginning to seem like it could actually happen, I'm starting to savor each stitch along the way.  Here's how she looks  - not all that different from last time, but surely moving along. 

And speaking of a momentary wander away from Hannah, remember this little Milkpaint Sampler ditty I knocked off earlier this spring?

Well, I mailed it off to Faye and am absolutely astounded at what she transformed it into.  Check this out - it was sooo beyond anything I could have even imagined.

But as if this wasn't enough, the really special parts are what she added inside.  Like this beautiful needle park, with all the perfectly chosen shades and tiny details....

....and the most perfect addition of all, a replica of the tiny stitched pink blossoms hand appliqued on an inner pocket. 

Thank you so much Faye!  You created a very bright spot in a dreary place for me.

And in case you're wondering what might have taken me away from my sanity piece (as I'm sure you were, weren't you?!), I've been spending some evenings with 7 different men...sailors to be exact.

These little dudes will eventually find their way into the lid of a cigar box, but they may also have one last voyage to Ms Faye as well.   Once they set sail, it's back to the ever faithful Hannah.

So that moves me into the end of July and the start of the real dog days of summer.    Here's hoping your stitching is good, your summer is easy and your dogs are all alpha.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Moving Forward, Looking Back

A very, very heartfelt thank you to everyone who took the time to comment or send a message after my last post.  It really did make a difference.  Funny how I thought I was prepared for the day, but when it actually came, I was still caught off guard.  Anyway, there's been progress on the ever-present Miss Hannah, which I'm happy to share now!  It's been a blessing to have her.

You'll notice a slight change for the original I decided to make as a sanity saving measure.  Namely, I changed the row of tiny little over one birdies that divides the bottom third of the sampler to a reverse of the floral border beneath the name and date line.  Much as I love those little birds, I knew it was either me or them!  Someone wouldn't make it to the final finish, and speaking strictly for myself, I have a lot more time and patience invested on Miss Hannah's final end than they do.  So with that tough call finally resolved, I'm moving ahead down the homestretch. You just wait Miss Hannah, your days are numbered....

While I was with my sisters after Mom passed, we spent a bittersweet morning going through her remaining quilts, her sewing tools and jewelry.  I came back with some beautiful keepsakes, including my great uncle's CCC ring. earned by planting trees in Oregon during the Dust Bowl years of the early 1930's.

I also was so touched to find this little pocket I stitched for Mom one Christmas, complete with embroidery scissors and one of Halley's sweet beaded fobs.  When this was given to Mom, there was a gift card to her favorite local coffee house tucked inside.  Since that was missing, I can only hope that she thought of us and enjoyed it thoroughly!  .

Turns out my mother was also the collector (hoarder?) of other people's quilts, but I'm not one to lay blame for that, especially when the ones she gathered were such treasures.  These were all hand pieced tops that she came across and decided to rescue.  The two finished ones were hand quilted by a local group of Amish women.  Don't know what on earth I'll do with the unfinished one, but the acorn really doesn't fall far from the tree - I had to adopt these beauties and bring them back  to a new home with me.

But looking forward, I'm so pleased to note we have a new family member.  Meet Heavensent Give Me Serenity, known  around this house as Renny!

She's still settling into the pack and learning to let go of some of her county dog ways.  But she's as mellow as Ruby and Molly are high energy, so the hope is that they all will be a good influence on each other.  I've spent the time since she's come to us doting on her like a gramma and then wondering if all sanity has abandoned me.  3 dogs - really?!

So that brings me up to speed for now as we move into the second half of the year. Just finished a revisit to "The Mist of Avalon", so my pagan spirit is running wild with the summer solstice.....   


Monday, June 8, 2015

And Feed Them on Your Dreams

For a long while, I've pushed myself to turn the last corner on Hannah Pepper.  It seems I've been with her for ages, lingering on her rich colors and tiny details, while sometimes neglecting her for selfish periods of time....... 

....but always returning to the next panel, the next verse, the next corner, and then on again  I knew her time was passing, but she was always there, no matter what other flights of fancy and knots in the thread came along.  And she was always full of life, joy and color.

So was my mother.  I lost her very recently, and just like Hannah, I knew her time was slipping by. Until the very last, she was full of life, joy and color.   She was also happiest when she was surrounded by her children.

My mom taught me so much, it was hard to even know how to take stock of it all. 

She taught me to keep my best face forward and look things straight in the eye
....even on a bad hair day.

She taught me that learning starts early and never stops.

She taught me that even my brothers will be my best friends.

She taught me that while the king may sit on the throne, the queen rules the domain.

She taught me to recognize my gifts.....

...and to express them with passion.

So I'm going to move on with Hannah Pepper and think of my mother, as I did the night I sat in her chair and turned Hannah's last corner.  Thank you Mom, for showing me the way.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day at Home

Here's wishing a Happy Mother's Day to everyone with a Mom!  Hope the day if full of time with the ones you love.  I've just finalized details for a visit coming soon with my own Mom.  Can't wait to see her again.  It's been awhile since my last post, and there's lots going on to share.....

First things first though, a stitching finish! Remember last time, I was just getting started with this little sweety?

I'm so glad I decided to make the time for it, because the whole little piece has been a delight from start to finish.  Here's the finale.

You'll notice I decided to pass on the surrounding hemstitching.   It didn't seem to add too much to the final look of it and I was afraid putting it in might make the finish finish on it a little sketchy.

Found out I'm in love with the Milkpaint silks,  While their colors are all soft and muted, the fiber itself just glows on the linen.   Wonder if there's a conversion for them with AVAS?  It would be so much fun to stitch a full sized sampler with them.

 So this little treasure will soon find its way to Faye for the final finish it truly deserves, and I'm back at work on the nagging harpy Hannah Pepper.  Hopefully there will be a little more progress on her by the next time I post. 

This time of year, Jim and I are usually spending a day each weekend soaking up the sun and surf at one beach or another.  But this year for a number of reasons, we're keeping a little closer to home.  That's OK though.  One great thing about living in Florida is that the beaches will always be there whenever we do have the chance to return.  Instead, we've been focusing on a back yard project  - a new deck!  And Jim, in all his attention to detail, has turned it into wonderful place to enjoy all the birds and beauty in our own yard.  Want to take a look?

These are the balustrades going in.  Eventually the entire deck will be surrounded with them.  I just love all the Spanish moss hanging from our live oak trees.

'The new patio set is my Mother's Day gift!  You can tell by my stitching laid out where I'll be spending my time.  As work progresses, all the framing you see will be filled with balustrades and then stained to finish.

And finally a spot for my Key West wind chimes!  These make the most magical, gentle chime tones, but they've never had a good position in the yard for the breeze to strike them before now.

This southern girl loves her okra.  Its potted just around the other side of the deck and will soon be too high to reach the pods. 

Margaret at Days of a Sampler Lover thought enough of my blog to nominate it for a One Lovely Blog Award.  Thank you for the shout-out Margaret!  In response, I'm doing a modified version by not passing the nomination forward and just going straight to the fun part - 7 little known facts about myself.  My life is pretty much an open book, so let's hope I can muster 7.  Here goes:

1.  I have 6 brothers and sisters.  Yes, my parents were very traditional Catholics!  As the oldest girl in the brood, I'm certain they spent all of 10 seconds deciding on my name.

2. My amazing husband Jim is my first love and my high school sweetheart. 

3. My awesome daughter Halley was named for Halley's Comet.  Naming her for a celestial event that only comes once in a lifetime seemed fitting.

4. There is nothing - good, bad or indifferent - that isn't made better with a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio.

5. Ditto for a plate of cheese.

6. I'm extremely left handed and right brained.  I kick with my left foot, listen with my left ear and chew on the left side of my mouth.  As a lefty, I always  stitch from right to left.  Meanwhile, my right hand mostly just holds my purse.

 7.  I'm learning Spanish!  Reading it is easy, but speaking it takes some coaching.  Lucky for me, my coworkers aren't shy about correcting my pronunciation.. Muy bueno!

So there you have it for Mother's Day 2015.  Thanks so much for stopping to visit

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Headed South

Happy Sunday, happy mid-April.....happy finish to report!

Birds  in the Bower is finally done and is about to fly south to the framer's.  Did everyone hear me straining to get those last tiny stitches in last night?  It wasn't a pretty sight, but I'm pleased with the final result.

I do think I caused the black row of stitches at the very bottom to bleed a bit when I pressed it.  Can you see the shadows there?  I'm just not going to let them bother me though, because trying to fix it will probably only result in disaster.  Instead, I'll just choose to think of it as part of the overall charm of the piece.  How's that for rationalization?!  A few final details...

...and the bottom right, second time around.

All that over one on the right side was what had to be painstakingly  picked out and re-stitched a second time with the correct lines of the verse.  Enough to make me a little nutty, but sadly it probably won't be the last time!  I'm considering the possibility of a mat on this one, once it actually lands at the framer's.  Since it's not that large and isn't a reproduction, a mat might be a nice way to draw it all together inside a frame.  More than likely it will also depend on the frame molding I settle on. 

And for once, I have a new start on something not huge, in fact, almost a small!   I think I must still be dragging my feet on another rendezvous with Hannah Pepper.  But since it is the year of reckless abandon and  the urge to give this little sweetie its final due was so hard to resist, I decided not to fight with myself over it.  Does anyone remember these little "Remember the Ladies" sets Kreinik put out several years ago to market their Silk Mori?

 I'm fairly sure I collected most, if not all of them, then stacked them neatly in my stitching closet and put them out of mind.  When I'm honest with myself, I know it's because they all are fairly small projects and I didn't want to be stuck with a cute little piece of finished stitching and no hope of actually turning it into anything more than that.  Well, now there's Faye and hope has returned for them.  Check out my start.

As it turns out, the Milkpaint colors just glow on the linen, so it's been a thrill to have even this much of a beginning.  And since the Birds have flown the roost and are no longer in competition for my attention, I'm also hoping it won't be too much of a time sink that delays the eventual return to Hannah Pepper by a long shot.  Or who am I kidding...maybe that's exactly what I'm hoping for?!  Poor Hannah....

So that's how things are in my stitching world right now.  How are things in yours?

Oh yes, one more quick update...It's been a very long time since I've mentioned anything I've been listening to, but I've had the great pleasure recently of finishing an amazing audiobook.  Can I share?

The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver.   

This one could quite possible be the best book I've ever read.  I've had mixed feeling about the author's other works.  They're always beautifully crafted and thought provoking, but can occasionally get caught up in moralizing too heavily.  The Lacuna is Kingsolver at her finest - beautiful prose and imagery, a complex story that raises difficult questions and a historical setting with characters that are relevant to a current reader.  I have always been compelled by the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo    What a joy to meet them on a different level as central characters of the story.

As always, I'm hoping this finds you stitching and caught up with all the things and people you love.  Thanks for coming to visit!