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!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bird Brain!

Today is Easter - how on earth did that happen?!  The time of year seems right for it and my calendar seems to agree.  But my slow moving brain just hasn't caught up yet.  Wasn't Christmas last week?  Anyway, my apologies for the length of time between posts. 

Why is it that with all stitching projects, no matter what size, difficulty and number of thread changes required, I always reach the point somewhere in the lower right corner where I just want the darn thing done.  Case in point: Birds in the Bower.

No really - shouldn't this be done by now?!  Seeing how I started it as a brief escape from the epic border on Hannah Pepper, it's not all that large, there is nothing but cross stitches on it and I've already stitched it once before......this thing should have been done weeks ago, right?   Well, not so much. 

The bottom row of birds went in easily enough....

I even noticed a cardinal had stopped in for a visit.  He must have come this way after spending time with Carol.

 Turning the bottom right corner and mapping out the scallops did take a fair amount of fiddling,  but they do seem to be on their way now though.

So what exactly is the issue?  Well take a look at this.

Notice anything suspicious looking at what should have been a delicate line of over one verse?  Yep, that's right.  2 full rows of tiny over one stitching - never my favorite, even the first time in - filled that space and then had to be removed because this bird brain didn't read the chart right.  No excuses here, I've even stitched this piece before and still got it all wrong.   I'll save you the painful details of this senseless tragedy, but let's just leave it to say that when I checked the photo of Teresa's piece and then verified it with the one on the chart, I realized I'd put the lines in the wrong places. Leaving them that way would only cause much worse problems further along.  Nothing to do but pick them out one tiny stitch at a time - aaacck!.  What remains in the picture still will be this afternoon's chore. So you can see now why I just want the darn thing done.

While walking this morning, I was trying to decide what else I could post about that might be somewhat Easter related.  Then I remembered that many many years ago during my Drawn Thread period, I'd stitched up The Easter Egg Sampler, then promptly packed it off to limbo once finished.  Here's a picture of it resurrected this morning.

Seeing as the date I'd stitched at the bottom of it is April 8, 2000, it might be time to actually do something with this little sweetie.  But therein lies the problem.  If I'd really wanted to go to the bother and expense of having it framed, I'm sure I would have done so by now.  But it doesn't really seem like the sort of thing to be fabric finished, even by the skillful  hands of our favorite Faye.  What would you do with it?  I'd love to have some ideas!

OK, so I think that brings me up to speed for this Easter Sunday.  Hoping yours if full of spring and celebration!  As always, thanks for stopping by to visit.

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!