Sunday, September 21, 2014

All Over the Place

Hello, hello!  Yes, I'm finally resurfacing after being missing in action for the last month.  What's up, you might be wondering? And even if you aren't, the post title ought to shed some light - I've been all over the place with work, with stitching, with a new knitting project and with the possibilities of Christmas projects looming.  Wish I could be one of thise amazing people like Martha Stewart who can get by on threee hours of sleep between 2:00 and 5:00am each morning!

So let me begin to make some order out of all this craziness.  Things began to get a little wilder not long after my last post when I found I'd have to go back to Tallahassee for a week of work.  Tallahassee being what it is, I wasn't all that excited about the prospect, especially since it meant leaving Sarah Tuel at home for a week, just when she was starting to feel like her days were numbered.
  
 
I had soldiered my way through the thicket of birds and berries and had resolved to keep a stiff upper lip though another mandatory siege of over one stitching on the second verse...
 
 
But the yjought of over one stitching in a dimly lit hotel room just brought me up short.  And thinking even further about lengths of time spent waiting in airports made me all the sudden very hot for - wait for it - of all things, a knitting project!  So while gathering my stuff and packing my bags I  pulled this out of my long deserted knitting basket...
 
 
....the start of a Hey Teach! cardigan long planned but not yet started and just waiting for the right moment to get underway.  Now that I'm back home I'm really wondering what I've gotten myself into, but ti's too late and too far along to go back.  Really -  another project?!  It's not like I haven't got enough of those in progress or lined up to start already.  So there you have it, another start with no finish on something else anywhere in sight. All over the place! The only hope is that the likelihood of another trip to exciting Tallahassee or the even more thrilling Florida panhandle is good, so I may have more time to work on further knitting very soon.  
 
But that's not the end of the matter.  Whilst I was poking around looking for knitting needles, what turned itself up but this little lovely.  Don't let its completely finished looking topside fool you.
 
 
Does anyone remember this project?  It's the Armchair Necessaire from Hillside Samplings.  It made it's fame in all the stitching groups and guilds circa 10 years ago, which is when my stitching group at the time mustered enough interest to take it on.  Further inspection showed the needle cushion is completely finished...

 
....the side pockets are both very beautifully attached....
 
 
....and even the fob and needlebook are all fixed up with nowhere to go.
 
 
Now why on earth was this little gem - my finest finishing effort ever - stashed at the bottom of my knitting basket instead of seeing duty with my other stitching paraphernalia?  Oh yeah, because apparently 10 years ago, I just couldn't bring myself to finish the blind hemstitching of the back side. 
 
 
2  nights of work at the most and I'd have it done.  Clearly I need a kick in the butt with this!  So I've decided to offer the chart for this project up as a giveaway as soon as the completed piece is hanging proudly on the arm of my stitching spot.  A little peer pressure to getter done is in order!  Scolding, nagging, coaxing or plain old encouragement is acceptable too, just tell me to finish it up so the giveaway can get underway. Are you up for it?  Leave a comment and tell me to get on with it!
 
Anyway, that's where all my time hand attention has been this month.  I'd like to hope for some peace and quiet, but that's probably wishing for too much. 
 
Stay happy and busy!
 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Begins with S

Another long Sunday afternoon and we're fast arriving at the end of summer. How has yours been? I have several words to describe mine, bu they all seem to begin with the letter S - what's up with that? Anyway, let me fire them off - here goes: Sauna. Steamy. Soggy. Storming. Slippery Sidewalks (oops, that's two!) Swampy........

Or how about Short and Surprising? Maybe that's a better place to start. Surprising, because at the beginning of summer, I really had no intention of getting Miss Sarah Tuel back in action, much less wrapped up and done before the end of the year. and yet here's how she's looking headed into September.


After swearing up and down that I wasn't going to do all the over one stitching the original seemed to indicate, I had to eat at least some of my words. After adapting my way through the townsfolk without incident, it quickly became apparent there would be no fudging whatsoever If I wanted to get that scrolly little alphabet in place. So I put on my big girl panties, tightened up those scroll rods to the snapping point, loaded my needle with the darkest floss shade in the kit and plunged in.


The directions and charting in this kit, while lengthy, are less than stellar. There's been quite a bit of make-do along the way. Note the funky stamens and leaves below.
 

Anyway, I'm pleased with how Miss Sarah is coming along and hope to have further progress to share next post.


One of the best parts of my summer was to spend time with my sisters and mother as she packed up to begin her new life in Texas. Another highlight was attending my nephew Scott's wedding with them then. Before the ceremony and at the reception , I had the chance to get some quick pictures of them, so please indulge me while I give them a shout out . I love you girls!

 
 
This is my sister Judy and her daughter Annika, all grown up and starting college this week....
 
 
Here is my sister Jane, with her girls Josie and Abby. No doubt they'll be starting college in a blink of an eye.
 
 
This is Teresa, with her best boy, grandson Will. Notice their coordinating colors?
 
 
And this is the grandmother of the groom, my mother. Ladies, you rock!

No doubt, the next time I post at least some of you will be getting a first hint of fall. Not so much down here for quite some time still, but in the meantime go to the beach every chance I get and keep pushing away on the surprising Miss Sarah. Have a good week!




 
 
 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Old Things

Good morning everyone - another Monday is on the rise, which means a quick post before dashing off to the start of another work week.

I've spent the last two weeks rearranging my tiny little house to make room for all the family treasures that were brought in recently.  It's been fun making room for everything, but I'm glad we didn't bring back anything more than we did.  There's a fine line between a home with heirlooms and a scary maze.  Don't want to go there!

One piece is my favorite of all, I think.  This little sewing basket was made by Jim's dad for his own mother when he was in high school during the early '30's. 


Jim's parents kept it in their own home all these years because it was something his dad made.  But since there really weren't any needleworkers in the family, I'm not sure anyone really appreciated its utility beyond being a place to stash scissors and miscellaneous spools of thread.  I've discovered it's the perfect thing for storing my WIP's - the projects I'm not actively working on, but don't yet want to put back into limbo in the stitching closet.  Best of all, it fits perfectly in with the other things in my stitching spot!

 

And speaking of being buried in limbo in the stitching closet....another cool piece of family furniture has inspired the resurrection of Sarah Tuel. Yes, she's not on my list of finishing goals for the end of the year, but that's only because I just couldn't face the possibility of what lay ahead with her.  The story goes like this....

We brought home a large dresser that is a companion to the rest of our bedroom set.  It's definitely not heirloom calibre, but since we were desperately in need of it and could squeeze it into the bedroom, it came back to Florida with the rest of the haul.  However, once we had it in place, I took a closer look at the floral design on the drawers.  It reminded me of something? Forgive the blurry picture - Molly was helping with this one.

 
    
I just knew I'd seen a similar flowing basket on at least one sampler somewhere.  So I hunted through the Scarlet Letter website and turned up Elizabeth Sheffield . Notice that great flowing basket at her bottom? But the coolest thing of all is that Elizabeth is nearly identical to Sarah Tuel, and Sarah has been malingering in my stash heap for years.  This is what she looked like last time she saw the light of day.


What happened at this point is a classic example of "mind strong, body weak" stitching.  I fell in love with Sarahs' tangly, overgrown borders and wild life,,,,

 


But didn't pay any attention at all  to what it surrounded.  Imagine my horror when I realized that everything...no really, everything  - was stitched over one in tent stitch.  Neither tent stitch or over one is my thing in the least, so I made a valiant effort to adapt the inside bands to regular cross stitchng.  Not too shabby I have to say?

 
  .

But by the time I reached the townsfolk, I was ready to put Sarah out to pasture.  I just couldn't face more of the same.  Now fast forward up to last week, when I noticed the basket on the dresser, tracked down Elizabeth Sheffield and felt the love come back for Miss Sarah.  Voila - townsfolk done in a mere seven days!

 


So I think I'll ride with Miss Sarah for awhile, at least until some other piece of furniture speaks to me.

I realized it's been awhile since I posted a picture of my two girlies, so here they are.  Can anyone resist those sweet eyes?  I love you too, Ruby-Doo!



As always, thanks for stopping by.  Hope you week is off to a good start!

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!