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!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back Home

Good Sunday morning everyone!  I had decided that my next post would come when Ann Grimshaw was back from the framer, but  didn't think it would happen so soon!  Jim and I were just getting ready to go out yesterday morning for our usual groceries and errands when the phone rang.  Guess how it was?  Plans were quickly adjusted to include a first stop for this:

What a thrill to have her back home and hung.  Turns out we chose the exact same molding for her that was also selected for And They Sinned, the difference being that Ann's has a silver edge along the stitching, while ATS is more of a burnished gold. Guess I like the look!

The plan is to hang her together with Sarah Tatum, who's next in the line-up for framing.....

.....but until Sarah is framed, we've hung her in our hallway gallery with my Bishop Hill prints.

So it feels really good to check Ann off the goals list and move on to finishing Frances Eden and Hannah Pepper.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Travels with Frances

Hiya! True to the promise I made on last week's post, I'm back at updating the blog on a more regular basis.  So let me start by saying thank you again to all who stopped by for a look at Ann Grimshaw, especially those who took the time to leave a comment. Love it!

This has been a very busy week, with traveling for both work and pleasure.  My job requires a trip to the state legislature each March, so I spent a few nights in Tallahassee at the beginning of the week. Frances Eden, my ever-reliable traveling companion, made the trip too.

She made the same trip with me last year, where I passed the off hours putting in this little basket of blooms near the brick house.

I've stitched sporadically on Frances (mostly while traveling) through the year, not giving her too much thought in between trips.  But once her name assignation was done, I began to dislike the colors I'd used on those flowers.  With such a bright, extensive palette to use for her, the ones I'd stitched them with just looked too much like the same threads in the brick house. So I spent any stitching time I had in this year's Tallahassee visit taking last year's version out and restitching them in a brighter combination of purple iris, gold leaf and burnt orange.  Much nicer I think, don't you?

Tonight's stitching will involve getting the basket under the left side blooms stitched in and then moving on.  I've made myself a promise that Frances won't be put aside any longer  - she's earned some respect!  But that didn't stop me for gathering up all the necessary silks, linen and chart for an eventual start on my next SL extravaganza, Jane Atkinson

I'm very curious as to the linen choices made by those of you who've actually finished Jane?  I have a lovely piece of Legacy Oaten Scone in my stash that I thought really suited the silks perfectly, but it was unfortunately too short for Jane's dimensions.  The next option was a piece of vintage Light Exemplar, which is what the silks are sitting on in the picture.  After seeing all the colors on the Oaten Scone, this one looks a little bit peachy to my eye.  What do you think - be honest!  It's not too late to order something if necessary, as Jane won't be underway until Frances gets some justice.

Now, on to the "traveling for pleasure" part of my's where it ended, at the north end of the Canaveral National Seashore.

The water temperatures were still too chilly for swimming,

but there was plenty of time for an early morning ramble  up the coastline.....


around the driftwood on the dunes....

....and back again.  Miles of protected shoreline with unspoiled sand, sky and surf, and very little else.

We didn't abandon civilization completely though!  After that long trek, it was off to JB's Fish Camp. our favorite Canaveral raw bar, for the Turtle Mound Sampler and a slice of Key Lime pie.  All this served up with cold beer and great live music.  My kind  of day!

Sure wish all my weeks could wrap up this way.  As always, thanks again for stopping by.  Here's wishing for another busy, beautiful week ahead.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Big news at last!!  After a mere 14 months of work, 5 skeins of silk, 4 needles 2 Super Bowls, the Winter Olympics and about a million hours of HGTV programming, Ann Grimshaw is.....

The final stitches went in on her late Thursday night.
Mercifully, I made it through Ann's assignation with out too much trouble or angst.  Still though, there was a huge sigh of relief when that last tiny stitch went in.  My eyesight for itty-bitty letters just isn't what it used to be,
I did give myself a little bit of credit by adding my initials at the bottom left and the year on the bottom right.  That probably isn't the best protocol with a reproduction, but when all was said and done, it only seemed fair.  Hope Ann would agree with that.
Last night and this morning, I found myself in this sort of funky post-finish haze.   It really felt odd after so much work, to suddenly no longer have Ann to go to, no more rows and rows of alphabet letters in different sizes to keep turning out.... 
I gathered up my scroll rods, the dog-eared remains of the original pattern and the last little bit of the Finnegan's Fog and tucked them all back into their spots in the stitching closet.  It was like cleaning up after a parade....
But it didn't take long to move on.  Ann is now safely delivered to my framer's and will be back home in a few weeks. That feels great!
So what's up next?  Those of you who read my New Year's post know I swore to not start anything new until Ann, Francis Eden and Hannah Pepper are all wrapped up.  Well, 1 out of 3 is on the books now, so I suppose I should move briskly along to the ever-patient Frances Eden.  Ironically, Frances will be travelling with me to Tallahassee for a few nights this week, where I plan to restitch the exact same motifs I put in on her last year when I was there.  But I started thinking that if I want to remain active on the Scarlet Letter Years blog, I'd better have at least a little something from same-said SL in the works.  Which brings me to a choice...should it be Jane Atkinson, or the Knox Family Sampler?  Please advise!
Anyway, with Ann over and done with, I'm hoping to post on a more frequent basis. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me this past month while I labored away on Ann;s swan song  Let's just say that all's well that end's well!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Days Are Numbered

Hi there everyone!  Once again, I'm excited to start a post by welcoming some new followers.  It make my day when I check in and see the number of folks interested in my stitching has gone up one by one.  So glad you're following along!

I don't know if this is really the right thing to start with or not, especially for those who are still shivering away in the frozen northern regions right now.  But I know spring really is on it's way, because it's arrived already this far south.  Here's proof.

We've had a bumper crop of tomatoes growing in our patio pots this season.  Winter days are numbered when it's time to ripen them on an open window sill.  So please hang in there, the warmer breezes really are making their way across the Florida-Georgia state line and will be there for you soon enough!

And speaking of counting the days, they're also getting numbered at long last for Miss Ann Grimshaw.  
I'm not quite to the final row of motifs, but every number that goes in gets me a little closer.  The lower motif in this picture is the last one on the right side!

I do wish I had more time to work on her because the end is starting to feel like it's touchable now,  Even though these big numbers seemed simple enough, for some reason (bleary eyesight too late in the evening!) I had a hard time keeping them all lined up on the same linen thread.  This straight-forward looking # 4 had to be restitched 3 different times.  Ggrrrrr.....

Ann's name still needs to go in and that's over one, but I'll get frustrated over that when it's the right time for it.  I would love to think the next post you see from me is a finish for Miss Ann, but even just saying that out loud probably diminished the chances of it. So I'll just know that her days continue to dwindle, I'll keep things posted.

Hope your days are sunny and bright!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stitching the Straight and Narrow

Happy Monday!  Who doesn't love a 3-day weekend? 

Let me start be saying I'm so happy to have several new followers lately, I can't tell you just how tickled I am about that . Welcome!! 

As for me, I've taken my 2 year, New Year's resolution and stuck to the plan.  That means focused concentration strictly on Ann Grimshaw, nearly to the point of obsession.  Why is it on these big girl projects that the closer you get to the ultimate finish, the slower the progress seems to be?  I could swear I've stitched a million miles and at least that many alphabets on her the past two weeks. But when I look at the picture on the chart and try to estimate how much more there still is to go, it feels like I'll be working on this behemoth for another hundred years.  Sort of like by the time she's done, this Ann will also will be an antique sampler?

I had the notion that this bottom alphabet would go quickly because it just wasn't very large.  What was I thinking?  Yes, there wasn't as much stitching in it, but for that very reason, it also didn't take up much real estate on the linen.  Turns out, eating up the space is what it's all about for me at this point.

See what I mean? That larger lower case alphabet that's now underway actually seems easier and less cramped to work on,.probably because it consumes more of the linen surface area.

Fortunately, these two little beauties were straightforward and quick,  More importantly they are the last two motifs on the left side.  A milestone of sorts!

So I hope you all will hang in there with me as I keep slogging away at Ann.  I would dearly love to have her finished by the end of February.  Maybe I'll do a giveaway as the grand finale approaches?

I forgot to mention a little something about this a few posts back.  I bought a little gifty for myself - Scarlet Letter's "The Knox Family Sampler".  Merry Christmas to me!

I've wanted to do a Scottish sampler for a long time now, and the houses and barns are enticing. Also, since I grew up an Knox County Illinois and graduated from Know College, the name itself has a strong connection for me.  So while I've sworn to stitch the straight and narrow path until all three of my endless big girls are completely on their own, having this one next in the queue seems like extra motivation for showing them the door. 

So I'll stop here and head back to more time on the endless Ann Grimshaw,  Will have to remember to come up for air from time to time.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Mean It This Time!

Happy New Year to you!  I think the moment I became an official southern girl was the first New Year's Day that Jim and I actually cooked up a batch of Hoppin' John and collard greens with corn bread.  Where we grew up in the frozen north, these dishes were unheard of, much less served on New Year's with as much tradition as turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.  Well, time changes all and now here I am to show you what was our good luck dinner on the first night of the new year..

What fun it's been to see all the "year in review" and "stitching plans for the new year" posts popping up this week!  All of you have done some very impressive stitching last year.  I was thinking I would do something of the same, but it seemed difficult to begin without looking back to last year's new year's post as a starting point  Imagine my horror to see that I started off 2013's stitching with the exact same goals I still have for this year; that is to
  1. Finish Ann Grimshaw
  2. Finish Frances Eden; and
  3. Finish Hannah Pepper 
No new starts, no ambitious undertakings, or even major purchases mentioned, just to get 'er done on these three loiterers.  So how can it be that here it is a full year later and I've got the exact some agenda? Surely I got something accomplished?!

But then I remembered....I did have some side trips this past year.  Like to the Hemingway House in Key West:

...and that little excursion around the Gulf of Mexico on the Atoche.

Oh yes,this little piece took a short jaunt to North Carolina for a visit with our friend Faye.


Shall I even bother to mention those lost weekends spent dallying with some fruits?


So strictly for the record, let me repeat that I only have 3 big stitching goals for 2014. and they are to:

1. Finish Ann Grimshaw.  I spent New Year's Eve with this wench. repeating the alphabet over and over again.


2 Finish Frances Eden.  This poor girl has waited long enough. It's time for her to earn some respect.



And last, but certainly not least is goal 3 - to finish Hannah Pepper.  This school girl has played hooky from my line up for far too long.  As soon as things got tough with those tiny little mid piece over one motifs, she skipped town and hasn't been seen since.  Well, she's going to get finished this year - I mean it!


So there you have my stitching goals for the upcoming year - short and sweet.  I swear on a stack of Bibles that they'll be finished by this time next year or I'll have died with a needle in my hand trying. No distractions, no Scarlet Letter challenges, no Praire Schooler Santas, certainly no spur of the moment wild hair ideas for new projects will steer me off course.  Please dear friends, hold me to this resolve, no matter how much ranting and whining you may hear from me!

On that note I'm off to disassemble my Christmas tree and buckle down to work.  Here's wishing all the very best in the bright new year!