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!

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!