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!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Been There, Done That, Offered the Giveaway (Part 1)

Hi everyone! I hope this finds all of you fat and happy...or maybe just happy.... as Turkey Day approaches.  Thanksgiving truly is my favorite holiday.  How wonderful to have a day set aside just for family and counting blessings. 

November is always a busy, happy month for me, starting with my birthday and ushering in the holiday season at the end.  This month, Jim and I have been gallivanting all over the state on two different occasions, I have two stitching finishes to share and as a result, I have a giveaway to announce, thus the title of this post.  As for "Been There", Let me share some pictures taken  earlier in November at the Egmont Key Alliance's Discover the Island Day.  The weather was cool with a lowering sky and a brisk breeze, which made some very dramatic lighting for photos.  This is the lighthouse as we approached it from the ferry.

We scrambled the dunes and hiked the pathways....

....and explored the beach in all it's late autumn beauty. 

Jim, as always, took pictures, but I managed to get this one of him.  Love you!!

It was my favorite sort of day and I only wish there were more of them!

So that's "Been There". and now for "Done That".  After lingering away in my stash closet for more years that I'm even willing to admit, I finally and for good got my Armchair Necessaire done!!  Remember this recent post?  

Top done....

...but the backside still needed a little love,

The deal I made with myself was that as soon as Sarah Tuel was finished the poor abandoned little lovely would get the pathetically small amount of time needed for it's long over due finish.  And guess what?  I finished Sarah Tuel!!  But I've decided to save her for my next post, which will aptly be titled "Been There, Done That, Won the Giveaway (Part 2).  Anyway that brings me to another
picture, which is of my necessaire, hanging - where else but - on the arm of my stitching nest.

The other part of the deal was that as soon as this little project was finished, I would offer the chart and any leftovers  up for a giveaway, so that's what I'm doing now.  If you'd like to enter the draw, please just sign on as a blog follower if you aren't one already and leave a comment on this post only.  Maybe you can tell me which of the samplers on my stitching bucket list you like the best? 

I'll announce the winner next Sunday or Monday, depending on how ready I am for the return of the usual work week. 

But wherever  been or whatever you're doing this week, I'm wishing you a festive and relaxing week full of good family, fun, and food.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hi all, Happy November! It's my birthday this week and the celebrating is about to begin.  This birthday picture was taken just a few yeas ago....'ll note the Mamie Eisenhower-era bangs.  Who put that haircut on a toddler anyway?   Thank God I have no memory of it! But even though my hairstyle and a few other things have changed since then, my birthday thoughts are still exactly the same - "Look at the size of that cake, all for me!"

A much more recent celebration happened last weekend when Jim and I had our annual evening in Clearwater for the 2014 Frenchy's Stone Crab Festival.  Live music, outdoor dining, beer, fireworks on the beach and of course, fresh stone crab.

Follow that with more live music and dancing at Muhuffer's, then a top down ride across Tampa Bay under the stars.  I love life in Florida, especially when it's time to celebrate!

Maybe it's because my upcoming birthday has me thinking about time passing and my priorities for spending it, or maybe it's just because I've realized I've collected a vast amount of stitching stuff with no real plan for actually doing anything with it.  But I've decided I'm going to start running a Stitching Bucket List - maybe at the end of the year or New Year's - on the side of this blog.  The question, when I leave out all the stages, fads and designer infatuations I've worked through, really comes down to in the time and eyesight I have left before I'm too feeble to thread a needle any more, which pieces of stitching are most important and will feel like my best accomplishments? So in no particular order, here's what I've got so far:

Ann Medd - What can I say about Ann?  Even the Scarlet Letter calls her the Mother of All samplers.  Ever since I saw Nicola's heart-stopping work in her and saw how magical Ann really was, I knew I've have to take her on.

Permin 1791 and 1826 - a girl isn't much of a stitcher unless she's got at least one Permin to speak for herself.  I want both of these big girls.

Mary Bate -  Don't I only hope I can be this good?

Loara Standish - Oh yes, I did tough out the e-Bay bidding war to win this stitching trophy.  Now I have to put my mouth where my money is.

Ann Penry - Ann has been in my stash for years and years and years.  I was first attracted to her because the original eventually made her way to Florida, but I now just love her for who she is.

His Eye is on the Sparrow - Margaret, your progress updates have landed this beauty on my list!

Anyway, these pieces have come to my mind without having to make a rumble through the stash, so they must be there for good.  No doubt the list is incomplete and will have more additions before any one of these masterworks is done.  Still, I think it's been helpful to take stock and set some priorities as time passes!

Stitching on current projects? Slowly, but steadily.  Here's how Sarah Tuel is looking with her big brown bottom blossom finally done.

It was a lot of work to get that bloom in, not because the stitching was so hard, but the chart is crazy to follow.  Really, all those little hand drawn diagonal lines in every direction were confusing to say the least!

Knock on wood the last corner will be smooth and quick to finish.  Would love to have her done by my next post, but that remains to be seen

So thanks as always for stopping in and joining the birthday celebration with me!  Back to work on Sarah.....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Turning the Corner

Hello!  Sunday afternoon and once again I'm behind with an update.  No excuses, just busy with work and life - how's that?!

Big news - I've turned a corner with Sarah Tuel.  No - literally - a corner has been turned and tonight I'm on my way down the official home stretch toward a finish.  See what I mean?

Looking at the fuzzy picture that came with the kit, I wasn't too sure what to think of the simple looking vases that fill the bottom corners.  But now that I have one of them in, I do think I'm going to enjoy their simplicity.  The rest of the piece is so busy and detailed, it seems like there's an almost hurried or unfinished feel to them.

No doubt Sarah was feeling ready to be done with the whole thing by the time she came to putting them in.  Trust me Sarah, I feel your pain!  Especially after struggling valiantly to get this over one expanse in.....

Looks now like I got the over one in just fine, but took a few spills up there in the gold dividing band.  Repairs are in order no doubt.....I've set a goal to have Sarah finished up in time for Thanksgiving, but saying something like that usually means it's not going to happen.  So I'll just keep poking along with her and pray the end will come along easily if not quickly!

And speaking of repairs being in let me move along to my latest flight of fancy, the Hey Teach! Cardigan.  No fewer that five attempts at the lace pattern in the bodice happened before I got it all figured out.  This is supposedly what it should look like:

See all those nice straight stitches rising out of (at least a few) of the points in the lace work?  Each point is supposed to have one of those.  Unfortunately.  more than a few of them got mangled along the way.  See what I mean?

So my dilemma is do I pull them back out (AGAIN!!!!) and make one more attempt at perfection, or do I keep limping along in the hopes of better stitches to come?  A case could be built for either argument.  On the one hand, this is the back of the sweater, so all errors will not be in my line of sight.  Only those poor individuals who have the misfortune to walk of sit behind me will see the errors of my way.  I also have to take into consideration that sweater season in central Florida lasts all of about 6 weeks,  If this baby isn't done and ready to wear within a month, the chances of caring about it at all go down to zero.    But on the other hand, can I really be happy with it when I know it's riddled with goofs?  Maybe I'll just stick with my samplers.

A few personal photos.....the race for governor in Florida has sunk to a rotten, smelly low this year.  Can't wait for election day to get here, just so the attack ads will come to their miserable end.  Needles to say though, we take our voting responsibilities seriously in our family and have faithfully turned out for all the primaries and run-off elections leading up to the final election.  This is a selfy Halley took after promoting the liberal agenda  at our low turn-out precinct.  You go girl - love ya!.

And here are Ruby and Molly, promoting their own agenda one day when it was too rainy to go out and play,  Love you girls too!

For those of you who are wondering, there still is no finish on the Sampler Necessaire I posted about last time, but I do appreciate the comments!  I'm planning to offer the charts up for it as a giveaway as soon as I'm done, so please hang in there with me!  Hope your Sunday has been cool, dry and full of time for stitching.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

All Over the Place

Hello, hello!  Yes, I'm finally resurfacing after being missing in action for the last month.  What's up, you might be wondering? And even if you aren't, the post title ought to shed some light - I've been all over the place with work, with stitching, with a new knitting project and with the possibilities of Christmas projects looming.  Wish I could be one of thise amazing people like Martha Stewart who can get by on threee hours of sleep between 2:00 and 5:00am each morning!

So let me begin to make some order out of all this craziness.  Things began to get a little wilder not long after my last post when I found I'd have to go back to Tallahassee for a week of work.  Tallahassee being what it is, I wasn't all that excited about the prospect, especially since it meant leaving Sarah Tuel at home for a week, just when she was starting to feel like her days were numbered.
I had soldiered my way through the thicket of birds and berries and had resolved to keep a stiff upper lip though another mandatory siege of over one stitching on the second verse...
But the thought of over one stitching in a dimly lit hotel room just brought me up short.  And thinking even further about lengths of time spent waiting in airports made me all the sudden very hot for - wait for it - of all things, a knitting project!  So while gathering my stuff and packing my bags I  pulled this out of my long deserted knitting basket...
....the start of a Hey Teach! cardigan long planned but not yet started and just waiting for the right moment to get underway.  Now that I'm back home I'm really wondering what I've gotten myself into, but it's too late and too far along to go back.  Really -  another project?!  It's not like I haven't got enough of those in progress or lined up to start already.  So there you have it, another start with no finish on something else anywhere in sight. All over the place! The only hope is that the likelihood of another trip to exciting Tallahassee or the even more thrilling Florida panhandle is good, so I may have more time to work on further knitting very soon.  
But that's not the end of the matter.  Whilst I was poking around looking for knitting needles, what turned itself up but this little lovely.  Don't let its completely finished looking topside fool you.
Does anyone remember this project?  It's the Armchair Necessaire from Hillside Samplings.  It made it's fame in all the stitching groups and guilds circa 10 years ago, which is when my stitching group at the time mustered enough interest to take it on.  Further inspection showed the needle cushion is completely finished...

....the side pockets are both very beautifully attached....
....and even the fob and needlebook are all fixed up with nowhere to go.
Now why on earth was this little gem - my finest finishing effort ever - stashed at the bottom of my knitting basket instead of seeing duty with my other stitching paraphernalia?  Oh yeah, because apparently 10 years ago, I just couldn't bring myself to finish the blind hemstitching of the back side. 
2  nights of work at the most and I'd have it done.  Clearly I need a kick in the butt with this!  So I've decided to offer the chart for this project up as a giveaway as soon as the completed piece is hanging proudly on the arm of my stitching spot.  A little peer pressure to getter done is in order!  Scolding, nagging, coaxing or plain old encouragement is acceptable too, just tell me to finish it up so the giveaway can get underway. Are you up for it?  Leave a comment and tell me to get on with it!
Anyway, that's where all my time and attention has been this month.  I'd like to hope for some peace and quiet, but that's probably wishing for too much. 
Stay happy and busy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Begins with S

Another long Sunday afternoon and we're fast arriving at the end of summer. How has yours been? I have several words to describe mine, bu they all seem to begin with the letter S - what's up with that? Anyway, let me fire them off - here goes: Sauna. Steamy. Soggy. Storming. Slippery Sidewalks (oops, that's two!) Swampy........

Or how about Short and Surprising? Maybe that's a better place to start. Surprising, because at the beginning of summer, I really had no intention of getting Miss Sarah Tuel back in action, much less wrapped up and done before the end of the year. and yet here's how she's looking headed into September.

After swearing up and down that I wasn't going to do all the over one stitching the original seemed to indicate, I had to eat at least some of my words. After adapting my way through the townsfolk without incident, it quickly became apparent there would be no fudging whatsoever If I wanted to get that scrolly little alphabet in place. So I put on my big girl panties, tightened up those scroll rods to the snapping point, loaded my needle with the darkest floss shade in the kit and plunged in.

The directions and charting in this kit, while lengthy, are less than stellar. There's been quite a bit of make-do along the way. Note the funky stamens and leaves below.

Anyway, I'm pleased with how Miss Sarah is coming along and hope to have further progress to share next post.

One of the best parts of my summer was to spend time with my sisters and mother as she packed up to begin her new life in Texas. Another highlight was attending my nephew Scott's wedding with them then. Before the ceremony and at the reception , I had the chance to get some quick pictures of them, so please indulge me while I give them a shout out . I love you girls!

This is my sister Judy and her daughter Annika, all grown up and starting college this week....
Here is my sister Jane, with her girls Josie and Abby. No doubt they'll be starting college in a blink of an eye.
This is Teresa, with her best boy, grandson Will. Notice their coordinating colors?
And this is the grandmother of the groom, my mother. Ladies, you rock!

No doubt, the next time I post at least some of you will be getting a first hint of fall. Not so much down here for quite some time still, but in the meantime go to the beach every chance I get and keep pushing away on the surprising Miss Sarah. Have a good week!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Old Things

Good morning everyone - another Monday is on the rise, which means a quick post before dashing off to the start of another work week.

I've spent the last two weeks rearranging my tiny little house to make room for all the family treasures that were brought in recently.  It's been fun making room for everything, but I'm glad we didn't bring back anything more than we did.  There's a fine line between a home with heirlooms and a scary maze.  Don't want to go there!

One piece is my favorite of all, I think.  This little sewing basket was made by Jim's dad for his own mother when he was in high school during the early '30's. 

Jim's parents kept it in their own home all these years because it was something his dad made.  But since there really weren't any needleworkers in the family, I'm not sure anyone really appreciated its utility beyond being a place to stash scissors and miscellaneous spools of thread.  I've discovered it's the perfect thing for storing my WIP's - the projects I'm not actively working on, but don't yet want to put back into limbo in the stitching closet.  Best of all, it fits perfectly in with the other things in my stitching spot!


And speaking of being buried in limbo in the stitching closet....another cool piece of family furniture has inspired the resurrection of Sarah Tuel. Yes, she's not on my list of finishing goals for the end of the year, but that's only because I just couldn't face the possibility of what lay ahead with her.  The story goes like this....

We brought home a large dresser that is a companion to the rest of our bedroom set.  It's definitely not heirloom calibre, but since we were desperately in need of it and could squeeze it into the bedroom, it came back to Florida with the rest of the haul.  However, once we had it in place, I took a closer look at the floral design on the drawers.  It reminded me of something? Forgive the blurry picture - Molly was helping with this one.

I just knew I'd seen a similar flowing basket on at least one sampler somewhere.  So I hunted through the Scarlet Letter website and turned up Elizabeth Sheffield . Notice that great flowing basket at her bottom? But the coolest thing of all is that Elizabeth is nearly identical to Sarah Tuel, and Sarah has been malingering in my stash heap for years.  This is what she looked like last time she saw the light of day.

What happened at this point is a classic example of "mind strong, body weak" stitching.  I fell in love with Sarahs' tangly, overgrown borders and wild life,,,,


But didn't pay any attention at all  to what it surrounded.  Imagine my horror when I realized that really, everything  - was stitched over one in tent stitch.  Neither tent stitch or over one is my thing in the least, so I made a valiant effort to adapt the inside bands to regular cross stitchng.  Not too shabby I have to say?


But by the time I reached the townsfolk, I was ready to put Sarah out to pasture.  I just couldn't face more of the same.  Now fast forward up to last week, when I noticed the basket on the dresser, tracked down Elizabeth Sheffield and felt the love come back for Miss Sarah.  Voila - townsfolk done in a mere seven days!


So I think I'll ride with Miss Sarah for awhile, at least until some other piece of furniture speaks to me.

I realized it's been awhile since I posted a picture of my two girlies, so here they are.  Can anyone resist those sweet eyes?  I love you too, Ruby-Doo!

As always, thanks for stopping by.  Hope you week is off to a good start!