Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home Again

Good Lord, I'm completely flabbergasted to see it's been a full month since my last post.  No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth or returned from the dead - nothing quite so dramatic as all that - but I have been back home in the Midwest for the better part of July.  It was a bittersweet trip, as I more than likely won't be back to my home town again, at least not for extended visits.  Anyway.....

My mother, God bless her 85 year old heart, has decided to start a new life in Texas!  She'll be so much closer to my sisters and two brothers and their families, will have endurable winters and and a huge Dallas quilt guild to build friendships in. It's been the right decision for her, though not one easily made.  As a result, all seven of us gathered up at the beginning of the month to make the big move happen.  My sisters and I cleared the house and packed up all of Mom's stuff, while my brothers sold it and made the move.  She's now settling into her new home with my sister and her husband in the suburbs of Dallas.  Whew, I'm exhausted!

And what does any of this have to do with stitching?  Well, here we go....

Over the years, I've stitched pieces for my parents and they've now all come back home with me. It's been great fun to have them back and to find new spots around my own house for the different things, especially with all their sentimental attachments.  Like this Needle's Prayse piece, adapted in honor of my Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary....







 


This sampler was stitched circa 1987 as a house worming gift.  My dad was approaching retirement and my parents had just built a brand new smaller house. For the life of me, I don't remember the name or designer?  But whatever the original was, I also adapted it by adding a special verse as a blessing for their home.
 
.

And this little bit was stitched as a Christmas gift one year on a linen doily I'd found at the local antiques mall.  I think it was on display in their bedroom. It now has a new home in my kitchen.

 

Of course, there were other family treasures that came back to Florida with me, but I couldn't wait to share the stitching!  Little of the same was actually accomplished during the visit though, so progress on current projects will have to wait until there's actually something to show.

Hope this finds all of you enjoying your summer and finding time for the people and things you love the most.  I'm glad to be back home!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Something Old, Something New

Greetings to everyone, here's wishing you all the best on this summer solstice!  I do think there's something magical about this day, though I've yet to ever shape it into a traditional practice of any sort.   Hmmmm, maybe I should start honoring the longest day of the year with a return to the longest project I've ever worked on, namely Miss Hannah Pepper? I just think I might have something there, but more about Miss Hannah in a little bit. 

OK, so to follow the flow of this post's title, let's start with something old, 160 years to be exact.


Last weekend's beach adventure took us across the state to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, first begun in 1854.  I love the history of this particular light.  The land was surveyed by a young Robert E Lee and the lighthouse itself was engineered by George W Meade.  Ironically, these 2 men faced off against each other as opposing generals at the battle of Gettysburg.

 . 
Although this lighthouse isn't the tallest or the one with the most steps we've ever climbed, it's a challenge to make the top.  These steps just put you at the entrance of the light itself, with those inside the light being very steep and narrow.  Whew!!  But well worth it once you get there, because here's the view from above.



Another delightful surprise turned up while taking a look around the restored lighthouse keeper's cottage.  I found a bit of stitching on the dining table. 

 

While I'm sure this isn't an original piece of the home, and it may well not even be an antique, it was still fun to find it there among all the other lighthouse memorabilia.  Sadly, Florida's humid climate isn't very kind to textiles, so one doesn't come across much needlework at all in  lighthouse museums here.

So that's the old needlework.  On to the new!

After bringing Miss Frances Eden to a graceful finish, I was sooooooo ready for something light and smooth sailing, nautical in fact.  And I came up with 2 that suited perfectly, though one of them has gotten more of my time and attention than the other.   Who could resist this winsome little ditty?


On close examination, I realized  this project would be the perfect size for lining another one of my cigar box lids.  So I've been working on these 7 sailors pretty steadily in the hopes of getting them done before my love for them cools.


Gotta love a sampler with so much swagger!

The other little sweetie I've taken up with is Mary Goodburn, who's been hanging out in my stash for an unfortunate length of time.  She's an old lady from The Examplarary, circa early 1980's.


I picked Mary up during my Examplary phase, a period of time spent trolling e-Bay for out of circulation treasures.  So far, she's been nothing but agreeable, almost to the point where I'm not all that excited about the work so far.  But I couldn't say no to her little ship,  too bad (or maybe thank goodness?)  it's at the bottom of the piece.  If it was at the top I might not ever finish her.  Maybe it's her muted tones that are less than exciting?



So this brings me back again to Hannah Pepper.  She's re debuting in the stitching lineup tonight, the longest night of the year!!  And the goal will be to have her done by December 21, the shortest night. 

 

Thanks Krista for the shot in the arm!

So this brings me up to speed, though I'm stull wondering how I got here?  Thanks for checking in on me!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Houses

Hi there and welcome to June!  Summer is officially underway.

I'm so pleased to share the final stitches went into Frances Eden yesterday afternoon. Loved every stitch of her, but I'm glad she's done.   Frances has definitely been more patient with me than I have with her.  Simple girl!


Her bottom crazy house was fun up until that last orange panel with the doors.  Then suddenly it was like trying to swim in jello - lots of bright color, but not going anywhere very fast.



What do you think?  I'm a bit concerned that the size, color and total solidness of the crazy house overwhelms the rest of the piece.  But even if it does, there's no turning back on it now.  Just the fact that I put my initials and the year in over one stitching  means like it or not, she's finished!



So what's next?  I swore on a stack of Bibles at the beginning of the year that I'd see the end of Hannah Pepper before next New Year's Eve.   Well, I can only try to keep that one, but I've taken a good hard look at what remains of Miss Hannah, just to reach the conclusion that unless I win the Florida lottery and can quit my day job, that may not be doable.  She'll get done alright, or a at least taken back up soon enough, but I really need a summer vacation sort piece right now.  Something beachy and fun, not too complicated.  Hhmmmmmm, I feel a stash dive coming on........

There have been some other summer houses on the radar lately, two of the traditionally navigational sort.  A morning spent on Little Gasparilla Island gave us the chance to revisit two old friends. 


The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse, all metallic and steam punk in its faded glory,
 
 





And the Boca Grande Lighthouse,  all serene and tidy.




 


Perfect days like this one don't come along very often.  We made the most of it, exploring, swimming, beach combing and enjoying each other!  A lunch of ceviche and cold beer topped it off.

As always, thanks for stopping by.  Here's hoping all is well with your summer houses!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May-hem!

Hello, hello, hello!  I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm having a very hard time believing next weekend is already Memorial Day.  Really, shouldn't it maybe just be Super Bowl Sunday, or at the very latest St Patty's Day?  I feel like I'll go to bed tonight and when I wake up tomorrow morning it will be Thanksgiving!  Guess it's because every single day this month has been full, both at work and on the home front....

So starting with the home front first, I've managed to squeeze in a little bit more on poor patient Frances Eden.  Her final finish is within sight!


Not much left now but the bottom of the crazyhouse.  I was not really looking forward to all the solid stitching when I started in on it.  But, in true crazyhouse fashion, its been a hoot to see it come to life. Love how the colors are playing against each other so far....


Frances' finale is close enough now that I've really started playing with what to take up next.  My head says to stick to my vow and finish Hannah Pepper, but my heart is wishing for a new start.  Maybe I'll get Hannah out soon and let her speak for herself, in the hopes she'll say something profound and motivating to me.

Also on the home front, turns out the pepper plants on our patio that Jim has been coaxing along all spring have finally gone gangbusters.  Honestly, how many jalapenos can one family use at a time?  So early last Sunday morning, we got out our big pot, sliced those bad boys up.....


...to make jalapeno pickles.  Behold the fiery result:

 

Thank goodness it only yielded two jars.  Any more than that and we'd need life support.

But it hasn't just been fun and busy strictly at home either - our little roadster has a few more miles on it after yesterday's jaunt to St. Augustine.  With an unexpected late season cool snap, we had the perfect day to enjoy one of our favorite places.  Yes, the sky really was that blue!


As always, I'm charmed by the architecture of these old structures.  Like the details around  the lighthouse window....


....and the gingerbread on the Keeper's home.


But the best part is the reward you earn for making the climb to the top.


I could stay up there all day!

Oh yes...another reason May has been such a whirlwind.  It's not very often one gets to have dinner with this lady...


What a once in a lifetime thrill to attend the HIPPY USA conference in Washington at the beginning of the month.  Hilary has been a champion of the program ever since she was the first lady of Arkansas and she graciously donated her evening as the banquet speaker the first night.

The conference was full of sessions, but another important activity was the day spent visiting Capitol Hill for legislative appointments.   The weather was really wet, but I did capture a bit of it.



In spite of the miserable rain and limited time, I did manage to visit a few sites on my "must see" list.  It's hard to escape the Washington Monument -  for anyone who visits, it's a reference point to steer by....





Any girl from Illinois has to pay tribute to its favorite son....



Any advocate promoting the purposes of our conference also has to honor Dr. King...

  

Anyone whose  family was touched by the circumstances of the Great Depression and the events of World War II should acknowledge the greatest leader of the times...



....and any dog lover has to be charmed by Fala.

 


Well, now that I've written all this down, I'm suddenly realizing why it's the middle of May and how in the world that happened.  Wheww!!!  No regrets though, I wouldn't change a moment.  Here's hoping your weeks have been full and your stitching joyful.  Life is good!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Francis is in the (Light) House!

Hello everyone, I'm actually posting an update!  It's a soggy, drippy Saturday afternoon here, perfect for catching up on stitching and all the blogs I follow.  I'm actually grateful for the dreariness and resulting slow pace this afternoon, given the miles that have been put in since my last update. 

Well, since this is a stitching blog, let's start with Miss Frances Eden first..  Once again, the hectic pace of work and life have kept me from getting too much further with her, but when I put the first stitches in her last house this morning, I knew it was time to celebrate.  Here she is, in all her nearly finished glory. 


And a close up of the progress made since my last post....
 

At this point, I'm hoping that last crazyhouse at the bottom doesn't get bogged down, because I'd dearly love to give Frances her due and move on soon.  Those of you who've completed Frances will know there's a small over one verse stitched at the very bottom of the design, but take a look at this....


I've seriously misjudged the distance from top to bottom. It looks like that bottom edge is coming up waaaayyyy too short for even a single more row of anything.  Am I disturbed by that?  Not in the least.  In fact, in my heart of hearts, I'm relieved about it, because more room down there would have made me feel either compelled to put it in or guilty about not doing so! 

So there's my update on Miss Frances, even though there's not so much to show and tell with her.  Frances took what I hope wil be her final road trip with me earlier this week, but I think I'll save the details of the adventure for my next post.  So much excitement to share with that one!

Besides making it to Frances' crazyhouse, Jim and I also made a return visit to the Ponce  de Leon Inlet Lighthouse last weekend.  A day visiting the area is always a joy, from a distance....
 

 ...to up close and personal.
 

I love all the details we come across, from inside the lighthouse....



....and out.

 

And from top....



 
 

 ...to bottom.


This is the view of our starting point on the jetty, taken back from the walkway at the top of the lighthouse.

 

Well, I'm not done sharing my travel stories, but this does seem like a good place to pause for now.  Hope this finds you dry, rested and enjoying the details of whatever comes your way!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life After Ann

Happy Sunday!  Next thing you know, the alarm will be ringing, you'll roll over to shut it off and another Monday will be underway....I was hoping to post sooner than this, but time has just gotten away from me lately.  Not as much time for stitching as I would have liked, but really, does anyone ever get that?

The little bit of stitching time I have managed to squeeze in has been spent for the most part with Frances Eden. 


She's been such a patient companion.  Why am I so impatient to be done with her?!  Well, I've spent a fair amount of time asking myself this lately and I do think it's because of the lessons learned from the whole Ann Grimshaw saga.  These pearls of wisdom have come to me now that Ann is done and I look ahead to the rest of my stitching line up.  I've realized that....

Lots of color doesn't necessarily make it a more interesting stitch.
 

Case in point -   check these guys from the upper left corner.  Yes, they're colorful.  Yes, they're uncomplicated and easy to stitch. But seeing as they are the exact mirror image of the same guys on the upper right, I wrestled with a certain frustration that I'd already stitched them once - why now again?  Ann's motifs were all done in a single colorway of silk, but because the motifs were all so varied, they never felt repetitious.

Another post-Ann flash of insight - Don't trust your middle aged memory and eyesight to figure out what the heck  you decided on 2 years ago.  With Ann, since the colors weren't going to change, it was just a matter of following the chart and getting the stitches all in their designated spot.   But now thar I've returned to Frances, not only are frequent color changes involved, I also have to figure out from the 30 different skeins of Sampler Threads I started with, exactly which one was used on any given motif??.  Try telling the difference between Forest Glade and Dried Thyme after that long - not so easy. Here's the little blooming plant first stitched on the right side in February 2012.  Did I bother to make note anywhere of any color conversions made??  A big fat NO would be the answer to that one.


Here is same-said blooming plant on the left side, recently stitched a full 2 years later.  I'm embarrassed to say how many times I put these flowers in before I finally got the colors to match on both sides, Even now I'm not so sure I have them right, but I've reached the point of  just moving on.



And lastly, I've learned that size is a relative thing.  I happened to rummage across an old Permin piece I'd started many many years ago and remembered that I put it aside because the stitch count was tiny and it still seemed like such a huge monstrosity of a project.  Does anyone recognize this from the feeble start I got on it?


Funny thing though, in the post Ann Grimshaw era, I feel like I've stitched a sampler the size of those giant flags they hang over football stadiums and car dealerships.  When I found this Permin atttempt again, it didn't look nearly as enormous as it did when I gave up on it  moved it way to the back of the closet.  Maybe I'll take it out for a spin again....after Frances and Hannah Pepper are done , of course.

OK, so that's how things stand for me as of this afternoon,  I have more work travel coming up at the end of the month, so Frances will have at least one more road trip to accompany me on before she sees her last.  Have a good week!