Monday, January 18, 2016

The Year of Stitching Dangerously

Well, seeing how 2016 is already 3 10 18 days old, it may be a bit late for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  Instead, here's wishing the new year is off to a good start for all, full of health, good fortune and stitching, of course.   It's probably also a bit late to do a "stitching year-in review", but while I was prettying up my photos for this post, I realized it is exactly the 100th update I've added since entering the blogging world  Surely a little indulgence is allowable?!.  So here's a nod to the biggest goal met in 2015 - the grand finale of Hannah Pepper.  So happy to finally not have "finish Hannah Pepper' on my list of stitching goals the new year!

 I'm officially declaring 2016 as "The year of Stitching Dangerously"  The thinking behind that is to stitch with more freedom to, change colors, threads, fabrics and motifs as often as possible to create something one of a kind and truly my own. Towards that end, I was lucky enough to get in on the first round of the Song of Solomon SAL now raging full steam on the Embroidery Motifs from Old Dutch Samplers Facebook group.  Unfortunately, I'm still waiting the arrival of my pecan butter linen and Pacific Blue Gloriana to get started with, so there's not much in the way of a picture to share yet.  Can't wait to get started though, so hopefully next post I'll have a little more to share.

Full disclosure, I probably need to acknowledge that the "Year of Stitching Dangerously" has also already had a fatality.  Here's evidence:

Let me explain.....just as planned, I' got our all my previously gathered supplies for a New Year's Day start on Shakespeare's Peddler's " Ragamuffin Quaker", a project I've been meaning to get underway ever since the silks for this beauty first turned up in my mail box. 

 Still in need of some linen, I impulsively boosted a piece I had kitted with another chart because I loved how the silks sat on the soft grayish color of it.  Beginning at the top border, I was thrilled with how well they were all working. Right up until the very point that I noticed the edge of the linen was coming up a lot faster than the end of the vine on the chart was.....Oh yes, it's generally a good idea to measure the linen before starting.  But on no, I didn't.  So now, I'm also waiting the delivery of a fat half yard of 36 count navy bean for a fresh start.  Lesson learned - just because it looks pretty doesn't mean it's going to work!

All this forced a retreat to the stash closet to find something simple and fun to bide my time with until the expected linens actually arrive.  This fit the bill, and it offered the chance to choose a skein from my collection of Olde Willow threads found while rummaging through the closet.

Here's progress on it as of last night.  I like it!  The upper left bird and the row of leaves he's over are off by a single thread, so they've got to come out and go back in I thread higher.  I know it may not be noticeable to anyone else, but I see it and it makes me crazy,  Seeing how I stitch to maintain my sanity  letting it go would defeat the whole purpose of the stitching to begin with, doesn't it?   Come on now, you know you get it.....

Just now I'm looking the color of those little celestial beings and thinking it reminds me of something else.  Oh yeah, it's more or less the same shades of blue and gray from the Finnegan's Fog used for Ann Grimshaw.  See it?

What can I say, I'm a creature of habit and I like what I like.  Apparently, it's dark blues on pale grayish linen..

Another goal for this stitching year - to send more finishing stuff to Faye!  Elizabeth Rhode made her way to North Carolina last week, where she'll get in line for Faye to turn her into something I'll love.  Poor Elizabeth has been languishing in my finished pile for years, so pretty but not quite large enough to be a priority for framing.

 I'll be sure to show her off in all her finished glory when she returns home!

There's been a little more progress on SL Scottish Band Sampler, but I think I'll save it for later. Wish I felt more excitement about moving into the eyelet panes, but some how I don't have the mojo just yet. 

Cold weather has finally come to central Florida, so the walking has been brisk in the mornings this week.  Jim's famous dried bean chili and a wool blanket to snuggle under tonight - I'm enjoying it all while it lasts!

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favorite Week of the Year!

Yes!!  The shopping is done, the  presents are open, the turkey is nothing but scraps and it's now my favorite week of the year.  I love the days between Christmas and New Year's when the pace slows down and it's finally time to take stock. So far this week I've been stitching, walking, listening to audiobooks and cooking dinners with Jim.  The next few days promise a beach adventure, a visit with my brother and unexpected spur of the moment surprises.  I'm loving the lack of plans right now.....

Seeing how it is the season, I thought I'd start with one more pic of my Angles of Tulips, now hanging proudly at the top of our Christmas tree. 

Just like I'd hoped, her spangles flutter and reflect the lights.  I'm thinking now that she might come to my office for a while once the tree comes down.  She might just help me keep this week's slower pace a little longer once the grind resumes.

Last December I started work on the SL Scottish Band Sampler.  With it's elaborate green and red alphabet, it quickly took on a holiday feel for itself.  After this past Thanksgiving, I got it back out as my December project.

I've worked mostly adding in another row of funky letters....

...and extending these stylized borders.

In true Christmas fashion, a fun surprise was found when I got this project back out - my silver needle keeper!  I'd forgotten all about it, but when I opened the project bag and saw it nestled in with all the gorgeous silks, it was just like opening a gift.  Thank you Santa!

 I'm not sure yet if I'll keep working on this one after New Year's or put it away again and save it for the next holiday season.  The alphabet letters are nearly done and then I move into a panel of eyelet stitch rainbows. It may not seem as Christmassy once that section gets started,  But on the other hands, the eyelets may quickly make me decide I've had enough of it for the next 11 months!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'd at long last decided to make a start on Prairie Schooler's Johnny Appleseed.  Sure enough, a small start is underway. 

I've attempted a thread conversion on this one from DMC to overdyes and so far I'm pleased.  The linen is something dredged out of the stash box, so I can't say with any certainly what it is, though it has a slight greenish cast.  With all the apple trees eventually going into it, I thought it would be a suitable choice.  Love this piggy, so glad he showed up in my usual starting spot!

Even though this will be the last post of 2015, I think I'll wait and do a "year-in-review" next weekend.  Lots on my mind for next year and it will be fun to share the ideas in a post of their own soon. 

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by during my favorite week of the year!  Here's hoping you're enjoying it as much as I am.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mary Goodfinish

Just as expected. Mary Goodburn sailed to a smooth finish last weekend.  She was such a playful, easy stitch that I've started thinking of her as "Mary Goodfinish"!  Here she is. 
Last post, all that was left to go on her was the bottom sailing schooner,  I wasn't really expecting so many stripes and color changes on a ship, but in the end I was in love with  this little motif best of all.
I had some questions about the details of this project, so let me share at least what I did with her.  First off, she's an old kit from the Examplarery, probably circa the early to mid 80's.  I found her on e-Bay a few years ago, but she still turns up there on a regular basis.  In fact for anyone seriously looking for a kit of your own, there has been one posted for a few weeks now and it was still available yesterday afternoon.  I didn't use the linen in the kit because it was an ugly, large weave in a dark brown that wouldn't have suited the soft  pinks and greens in her at all.  I used a piece of 36 count something - probably light exemplar - from my stash  instead.  Whatever it was, I though the colors sat well on it.
In the meantime, I've moved on to a nice start on Johnny Appleseed and also taken back up with my holiday stitch, the SL Scottish Band Sampler.  Not much new to share on either one of them just yet, so I'll save an update on both until next post.  However, I did want to share my finished Angel of Tulips, returned from Faye and ready to preside over my Christmas tree....whenever that decides to go up!  Faye fancied her up with a simple backing and the mother of pearl spangles that ought to catch the tree lights beautifully. Don't you love her? 
I may have to find a permanent home for her somewhere, because I don't think I'll be able to put her away after the holidays are over.
As for the holidays, I'm still waiting for the spirit to take me.  The weather has been so warm and humid this autumn and now early winter that I hardly feel we've left summer behind.  Between that and having my work days rush by in a blur the past few months leaves me feeling like my own personal clock is still stuck back in June somewhere.  But the past few days one sure sign that Christmas is truly on its way blossomed on my patio.
I have 5 Christmas cacti in pots out there, and this is the first bloom.  They thrive on neglect 11 months of the year but come December, I dote on them every day,  Funny how they bring back so many holiday memories, but they always do.
Here's wishing your December is full of bright colors and fond memories too. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Seeing as most everyone else is likely baking pies and stewing cranberries today, I though it would be the perfect time for me to cook up a long overdue blog post.  This week has been a blessing, the first real time away from work I've had in almost a year.  For that I'm extremely thankful!

Faye has worked her magic again, this time on my little 7 Sailors.  I sent them off to her as a piece of stitching and they've come back home shortly after the last post as this real treasure box. 

She also glamoured the inside with a padded lid and bottom....

,,,,and Halley made the perfect nautical fob to keep my favorite scissors stowed inside.

I'm still amazed at how perfectly the stitching fit the size and shape of the cigar box lid.  But I'm even more astonished at how beautifully it was finished.  Well done, Ms Faye!

I'm happy to report that progress has been steady on Miss Mary Goodburn, in spite of more work travel and limited time.  With a bit of focus this weekend I'm hoping she'll be done before Monday rolls around again and it's back to the usual grind. Here she is:

After all the alphabets and color changes at the top, it was easy stitching through the flower bands.  Love how they increased in size as the bands move along.

Why do I love band samplers?  Because just about the time my patience wears thin with a certain border or pattern, it's done and something more interesting comes along.  Still haven't decided what those creatures near the flower stand are.  Dogs?  Horses?  Dinosaurs?  Go figure.

But I think my favorite section is the bottom part I'm working on now.  You can see the sides are full of initials  and a few other little details.  And the most fun of all, a tiny sailing ship will go in the middle.  The ship is what drew me to Miss Mary to begin with first time I spotted her.  At long last I'll actually get down to stitching it tonight!

Another magical thing, or maybe it's just serendipity.....Does this ever happen to anyone else, or is it just me? 

I so enjoyed listening to "A Marriage of Opposites" by Alice Hoffman earlier this summer that I couldn't wait to download more of her work.  I'm now coming to the conclusion of "The Red Garden", which has captured my imagination to the point of inspiring another stitching project.  Not to give away too many details, but the plot threads its way through the real and mythical stories of the townspeople of Bedford Massachusetts.  At one point in time Johnny Appleseed cultivates an orchard on the outskirts or town.  Naturally, this led me back to a project I've been meaning to start since I first bought the chart .....

If I've been in love with Johnny for 30 years and still really want to stitch him, then it's about time to get started, don't you think?  Best of all, when I got the chart out to give it yet another look over, I found a sheet of paper I'd tucked inside with a conversion to over-dyed threads in it.  I have absolutely no recollection of when I did that, but it's only further proof that all these years and it's still on my bucket list.  Think I'll wrestle out the linen box tomorrow while my pie is baking and get him all kitted up.

I promised myself this week I would only spend my time with people I care about doing things I love,  On Monday that meant a trip to the Tampa Bay History Center with Halley, where she's volunteering in the collections department in order to buff up her research skills.

We spent the afternoon visiting Tampa's oldest cemeteries, Halley searching for specific details and me just looking in amazement.  This stone in particular was touching.

And at another site, this lady was interred by her husband,  life sized figures sitting with their backs to the city 

and a touching detail at the hem of her skirt.

It was a rare, touching day and I couldn't have spent it better.  Somehow it pulls me back to my stitching....

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is blessed with love, good food and special memories.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life After Hannah

November 1 - Geez, how did that happen?  Life has been in transition since my last post, lots going on around here! What have you been up to?

Well, since this is a a stitching blog, let's begin with what I've transitioned to since Hannah Pepper's grand finale.  I'd mentioned earlier that I was loving the smalls now that Faye has saved me from the trauma of finishing.  So I caught my breath with this quick stitch by Goode Huswife.  Love her!

She's stitched over one on an old scrap of 28 count dirty linen I was hanging on to for just such a project.  Another fun thing was to get out my box of old Needle Necessities overdyes (remember those?) and scrounge through for some cool threads to work her in.  I loved the freedom of this piece, from her quick completion to rooting around in my stash for supplies and not being all that careful about what I decided to go with. I'm thinking she ought to pair up nicely with my recent Angel of Tulips, though they'll have to wait until next Christmas to be displayed together.

Keeping in the spirit of quick stitches, I decided to make another stab at Mary Goodburn.  She got a quick start some time last year and then was promptly tossed aside.  She's an old kit from The Examplarery I picked up several years ago but never felt a strong need to devote much time on.  This is where I started......

...and here's where I am as of this afternoon.

Don't know that she'll see a finish before I lose interest in her again, but I can go with her at least until Thanksgiving.  At that point, I'm going back to the Scottish Band Sampler, mostly because it feels like the perfect December stitch.  This is as far as I got on that one last holiday season.  Think it will reach a finish this year?

Other things happening at the end of October and the beginning of November?

How about enjoying a NASA launch on a beautiful Saturday from the neighborhood park....

Or Halloween preparations.....

 One of Jim's favorite things is to outdo himself each year with the annual pumpkin carving.  This was one of his finest!  Our poor old cat Mo finally crossed over a week or two ago, so Halley suggested Jim do one final tribute by immortalizing him in gourd.  It was a challenge well met. 

And today being November 1, it was time to break out my Publix Pilgrims, which I'm admittedly a little nutty about.  Thts arrangement went up first thing this morning.

So that catches me up at the start of November.  Whew!  Hope all is well with you.  I love it that you've taken time to stop by!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bless Me For I Will Prevail

Hannah herself has made the eloquent statement for how I'm feeling today.  I've prevailed!!  She's finally done.

It hasn't quite sunk in yet that after years of loving and leaving her, she's finally behind me. Hannah has been one of those pieces that forced me to prove myself as a stitcher.  Just like she says herself, "Thy talents to improve take care...."

2 over one verses....

Some improvisation with the dividing bands and bottom border.....

Plenty of wild life and an even more formidable grassy knoll....

With a final finish in the corner I turned the night I said goodbye to my mother.  A tiny crown - the last motif I stitched - is for her.

Thank you Hannah, you've been a patient teacher and a faithful friend.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Creating a Monster

Happy happy October - my very favorite beach month! An early walk on Pass-a-Grille Beach this  morning turned up a perfect shark's tooth and a tiny octopus rolling in the surf. No pictures to share - some things just have to be experienced.

I mentioned last post that September would be riddled with trips around the state for work. That definitely held true with another visit to Orlando last week. But by that point, I'd discovered a silver lining to  the overnights.  Before all the traveling began at the beginning of the month, rather than laboring with Hannah Pepper, I decided that I'd give myself permission to stitch on something new, fun and small for each road trip .  That decision led to the finish of The Angel of Tulips, but there was still more travel on the books.  Hhmmm...what to do about that?  Suddenly, traveling for work was beginning to feel like stitching summer camp!  So a dive through my Christmas stuff came up with a project I'd been hoarding for waaaayyy too long....apparently since 2003 to be exact....

I knew as soon as I set my grabby hands on it that this little sweetie would finally have her day.  And suddenly, I was looking forward to the trip.  Not so much because of the work it required, but because it meant an overnighter with a little cutie that was definitely not Hannah Pepper.  It felt a little bit like cheating on her, but I couldn't stop myself. A few nights away and this little love child was born.

I used to walk the straight and narrow when it came to little pieces.  It was just too much to bear to stitch them lovingly and then mangle them thoroughly in a sorry attempt at finishing. For the longest time, I steered clear by stitching only large samplers that just involved framing when they were done.  But now with the magical finishing powers of Miss Faye  and the giddy abandon for little projects unleashed by the overnights, all I can think about now are more tiny projects.  Prairie Schooler Santas, old JCS Ornament Editions,  the tiny scraps of 28 count linen I've hung onto over the name it, I've manically pored over it this weekend.  No more to be started of course unless other road trips crop up or Miss Hannah comes to a final finish.  But I've definitely created a monster, one that's obsessed with itty-bitty little projects!

And now, let's move on to the real monster in the room, shall we?  Namely, Hannah Pepper herself.  I have been slogging away on her endless grassy knoll and am thrilled to report that it's finally in its completed resting place.  No wonder I wanted to cheat on her!

You can see here that she really doesn't have much left to her, so I'm hoping if I stay focused and faithful, she'll be done for good next time I post.  Not sure what I'll actually do with myself when that happens, but it will probably be a lot of little things....

 As always, thanks for stopping in and especially for taking the time to comment.  Fall stitching - does it get any better than this?