Friday, December 30, 2005

Shhh... Don't Tell!!!

I went to In Stitches during lunch today and finally had success finding the last bit of threads for Santa's Magic. I needed one skein of DMC 939 and one spool (maybe 2, just to be safe) of Kreinik #4 braid in 085. It cost $73.88!!!

Okay, so maybe there were a few extra items in my bag when I left, but it was a very small bag that didn't hold very much. In the bag were my very first L*K patterns-- Wanted! Santa '02 (Snippet) and Autumn Boxer. The Boxer was just too cute to resist, although I must admit that I can't figure out the $17 price tag. It has the chart, an 11" x 11" piece of fabric, and a ceramic leaf button. All of this is packaged in what is essentially a CD case, and it includes a 2003/2004 miniature calendar. It seems to me that an '03/'04 calendar isn't going to serve much of a purpose. But still, it was way too cute to pass up.

Of course, the Boxer, being an L*K pattern, required Weeks Dye Works threads in 19 colors. I have some of those at home already, but I still had to pick up 13 of the colors. While I was browsing, I remembered that I needed some additional Silk 'n' Colors "Dragon's Breath" thread for my Spanish Geometrical Sampler. I bought 2 skeins, just to be safe.

And I didn't forget Santa-- the reason I went to the LNS in the first place! I picked up 2 skeins of DMC 939 and 3 (yes, 3) spools of Kreinik 085 braid. It's probably more braid than I'll need, but I wanted to be sure. I'd rather have too much than run out and have to buy another $70+ spool of braid yet again.

Last, but not least, there was one lonely little skein of DMC 310.

Santa Sighting

I stopped by Michael's yesterday to pick up the last bit of braid and DMC 939 that I need to finish Santa. True to form, they had neither item. I don't know why I even bother with that place. Today, I will take a long lunch and visit an LNS on a quest to find these two seemingly simple items. Then Santa may get some much-needed attention over the holiday weekend. Maybe. If I can pull myself away from Snow Wonderful long enough to work on Santa. We'll see.

Meanwhile, here's how Santa looked after my Tuesday stitching session.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Goals for 2006

I've never been much for setting yearly stitching goals. I have a hard time thinking that far in advance. But I thought I'd give it a try this year. I have no idea whether or not my goals are realistic. I have a hunch that they aren't, because I tend to get sidetracked by new things.

My main goal is to ENJOY MY STITCHING in 2006!!! Anything that might get accomplished along the way is just an added bonus. A few of my WIPs/UFOs are fairly close to finished, so some of these goals are pretty reasonable.

Complete the following UFOs:

1. Santa's Magic - Mirabilia
2. Pansy Needleroll - Victoria Sampler
3. Mother's Love Needleroll - Shepherd's Bush

Complete the following WIPs:

1. Snow Wonderful - M Designs
2. Spanish Geometrical Sampler - Heart's Content
3. Castle Sampler - Teresa Wentzler

Start & Finish:

1. Valentine Exchange project
2. The Prairie Garden - Drawn Thread
3. Christmas stockings for BF & me - Shepherd's Bush
4. Quaker Diamond - Hillside Samplings


1. Persian Iris Garden - Chatelaine (May 2006)

Assemble the following FUFOs:

1. Valentine Heart - flat fold or cube-it
2. Spring Morning - needleroll
3. Laura's Roll - needleroll
4. Snowflakes - heart ornament
5. Deck the Halls - bellpull
6. Watercolour Eggs - flat fold or cube-it

SALs I'll be participating in:

1. UFO - weekly
2. Mirabilia
3. TW - weekly
4. Finishing forum - monthly
5. Stitchathon - monthly
6. Christmas ornaments - monthly

SBQ - Stitching vs. Life

This week's question is from Nancy:

How do you balance your stitching time with your other obligations such as work, household chores, etc.?

I'll be the first to admit that I am stitching-obsessed. I spend nearly every free minute with a needle in my hand, and occassionally neglect other things in the process. It helps that I have a BF who does nearly all of the housework and constantly encourages me to spend as much time as I'd like on my needlework.

I work full-time, so all of my weekday stitching is done in the evenings, after dinner. Weekend stitching fits in between errands and whatever else BF and I decide to do together or separately. Neither of us have children, so there are none of the child-related tasks that must be done each week. I continually marvel at all of the stitching that gets done by folks who have way more on their plates.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

...and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a....

BANG went the Christmas tree!

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Yep, that's my poor tree, fallen over onto its side on Christmas Eve. Someone (the male in the household) left off one tiny little part on the base of the tree when it was first put up. I didn't notice until after getting all of the lights on and made the not-so-good decision to leave it alone. I thought that surely the tree would be fine. I thought wrong. And the whole thing went down on Christmas Eve. I was in the middle of frantic holiday baking when it happened, and it was the last thing I had time to deal with. But there it was.

Fortunately, only a few glass balls shattered. None of the important ones were damaged. And now, I have a perfect excuse for purchasing a new pre-lit tree.

In stitching news, I've concentrated mostly on Snow Wonderful. It's coming along nicely, and I'm hoping to finish it in January. Today I'll be working on Santa's Magic, though I don't expect to see much progress.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

The Day Before the Day Before Christmas

I haven't had a chance to post much this week, as I've been busy getting ready for the holidays. Am I ready now? Of course not!!! There is still baking to be done and gifts to be wrapped. And maybe even a gift or two to be purchased. Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute! I am one of the world's greatest procrastinators, and I hate all of the holiday pressure to do way too much, so I have always been gifted at running around like a madwoman the last two days before Christmas. I am, however, pleased with myself this year because I managed to send out holiday cards to family and friends. That's something that usually falls by the wayside due to my procrastinating ways.

I took today off of work, and right now, I really should be at the grocery store, hastily buying all the baking supplies I can grab. But I successfully talked myself out of it earlier today when I realized that the peak supermarket madness is probably going on right now. So today, I will relax and (hopefully) stitch a bit, putting off the grocery store trip until later this evening. The non-stop baking will begin early tomorrow morning, and will probably continue until we leave to visit family late Christmas morning.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comStitching has been going well this week, with some time spent working on a few different projects. After last weekends stitchathon, I continued working for a bit on Acorns & Flowers Sampler on Monday evening. This project is progressing pretty well, but I am getting tired of Montenegrin stitch. More specifically, I am getting tired of trying to figure out a not very user-friendly pattern. I often find myself guessing at what I am supposed to be stitching, as many of the diagrams are hard to read.

Tuesday is my regular UFO day, and I dutifully dragged out Santa's Magic. It's still slow going on this one, but I keep telling myself that every stitch is one stitch closer to finished.

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Wednesday and Thursday were spent working on Snow Wonderful, which has been a lot of fun to stitch. I've been going back and forth between the different areas, so it never gets too boring.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Stitch-athon Update

I joined in a marathon stitching SAL over the weekend, hoping to make some good progress on my Acorns & Flowers Sampler. Whether or not it was actually "good progress" depends on your point of view, I guess. The most positive thing is that I completed band 6, which means that I met my last December stitching goal. I've also put a pretty good dent into the stitching of band 7.

I didn't get as much time to stitch over the weekend as I would have liked. Life just got in the way, and I also had a hard time getting motivated initially. I've found that I have a hard time picking this project back up when I stop in the midst of a band-- I must remember in the future to finish whatever bit I'm working on before moving on to another project.

Also, the nasty frog visited on Sunday. I had been working for a while on band 7, and was making reasonably good progress, when I discovered that I was off by ONE stitch and had to frog. Here's what I had accomplished:

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And here's what it looked like after my frogging session:

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I did manage to restitch most of what I had ripped, and I'll probably work on it a bit more tonight. Below are the before & after pics-- the one on the right is how it looks today.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

UFO Happy Dance!

Image hosted by This is Cloister Garden, by Drawn Thread-- stitched on 32 ct. antique white Belfast linen.

Okay, so it isn't my "official" UFO, but it was a UFO nonetheless. And as of last night, it is finished!

I've actually stitched this piece 3 times. The first time I was actually stitching it for myself, on English Rose linen. Then my ex-MIL spotted it and fell in love with the sampler, so I stitched a second one for her. Both of those were completed in 1999, just a couple of months apart.

In 2000, XH left and I bought a condo, which I promptly decorated in colors that did not work with rose anything. So my completed Cloister Garden on English rose fabric sat in a drawer. I had several stitching friends who were also stitching (or planning to stitch) this piece, and one of them just happened to have a place to hang my completed project. And she had a brand new Cloister Garden kit plus a piece of antique white Belfast to trade. Perfect!!! My completed piece found a happy home, and I was able to stitch it again for myself in a color scheme that would match my decor a bit better.

Looking at this photo, I realize that it is a terrible picture. The completed piece really is much prettier. This just looks kind of grey. Maybe I'll have to try again over the weekend-- in daylight.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mid-December goal review

Since we're at the half-way point, I thought I'd take a few moments to review my goal list for the month and what I've accomplished so far. I'm actually quite pleased with what I've gotten done up to this point, and I think I will be able to meet my goals for December.

1. Complete bands 5 and 6 on Acorns & Flowers Sampler.
As of December 7, band 5 is done and 6 is approximately 60% complete. This weekend I will be participating in a stitch-a-thon with this project, so I expect to meet (and maybe even exceed) my goals for this project.

2. Start Snow Wonderful
I started this project on December 7 and have made pretty good progress thus far.

3. Assemble at least 2 ornaments
Done! I assembled the Mosey & Me Santa on December 1, and Christmas Rose was assembled on December 14.

4. Complete Cloister Garden
I haven't done anything on this one yet, but I plan to! There really isn't much left.

5. Stitch once each week on Santa's Magic
So far, so good! I've been working on this project every Tuesday and even though I can't see much progress so far, I know that it is getting closer to completion every time I work on it.

Another Ornie Assembled

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This is an ornament that I stitched quite a while ago, but I never assembled it. Like so many things, it was laying in a drawer awaiting finishing. Yesterday, I decided that it was well past time for this one to be on my tree and I sewed it together last night. The assembly was easy-- a backstitch border on the stitched side, and a backstitched square of the same size on the back... and whipstitch the two together on the outside. This finishing technique is a bit slow because it is done entirely by hand, but I like the edging that it makes.

And, just for fun, here are a few pics of our Christmas tree.

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SBQ - Blog Habits

This week's question comes from AngelSan:

Take a minute to reflect on your blog reading habits and preferences. What do you prefer to read in stitching blogs? (Progress, tips, family life, experiences, etc.) How much do you think you are influenced by other stitching bloggers?

The vast majority of the blogs that I read regularly are stitching blogs. There are a lot of them out there, so time often becomes an issue. Because of this, I prefer to read mostly progress and tips. However, I do enjoy a bit of life experiences thrown in, in order to know a bit more about the people whose blogs I visit often.

I am influenced by other stitching bloggers quite a bit. Sometimes I find new-to-me designers and other times I 'rediscover' something that I have had sitting in my stash for years. There are also occassions where a design that was unappealing to me on a pattern suddenly moves onto my "must stitch" list after I've seen it stitched on the internet.

Recently, the biggest influence for me has been in the area of finishing techniques. Many of my finished projects end up in a drawer for years before I get around to doing anything with them, whether it's framing or other finishing. But after seeing some of the creative finishing techniques and wonderful instructions out there, I have begun pulling out some of my finishing pieces and finally doing something with them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wednesday already?

Trips to the country and weekdays off always mess up my sense of time, and this week is no different. I can't complain though, because this means a three-day workweek for me! Of course, having some extra time off meant that I wasn't spending much time online and now I'm feeling the pressure to catch up with everything I've missed. I managed to check in on my stitching groups, but I am woefully behind on reading my favorite blogs.

Image Hosting by I made some good progress on Snow Wonderful over the weekend. There is a ton of white in this design and I generally don't like working with white, but somehow, it doesn't bother me at all on this project. Everything about this one is fun to stitch. I guess it doesn't hurt that the white shows up so nicely on the adobe fabric.

Since yesterday was Tuesday, I dragged out Santa's Magic and worked on that for a while. I started out by dumping a bunch of the beads onto the floor-- NOT GOOD!!! Once I got that mess cleaned up, I worked on a small area of beading and followed that up with a few rows of metallic braid. It wasn't much, but better than nothing. I haven't taken a new progress pic yet, because there really isn't much progress to see. Maybe I'll do that after next week's stitching session.

I also managed to finish decorating my Christmas tree. I have way too many ornaments for a single tree, but I like seeing them all, so I just piled it on. No pic of that yet, either. But I promise to post one soon! In the meantime, here are a few pics of some painted ornaments that I made in 1992.

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And a couple of ornaments that I've received in exchanges from past years:

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

A tiny finish

I joined in a weekend freebie stitch-along and made this:

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It's a freebie design by Drawn Thread and is available online. I stitched it on willow green linen, rather than the summer khaki that is called for on the pattern, and I also changed the color of the flowers in the border. They were supposed to be gold, like the bee, but they didn't show up very well on the fabric, so I made them bright rose instead. I thought it looked more cheerful that way.

After finishing my freebie, I went back to stitching Snow Wonderful. No update pic for that one yet, although I am making good progress. I'm liking the adobe fabric from Silkweaver more and more as I stitch.

It's Sunday morning, and we'll be heading out to the country this afternoon. I have to be there for some workmen who are installing a new part for my alarm system tomorrow morning. They've already tried-- and failed-- with this thing once. Hopefully it will work this time.

In the meantime, I'm trying to put up some Christmas decorations before we leave. I had good intentions to do it over Thanksgiving, but didn't have time. And things have been way too busy since then for me to take care of it. Thus far, the tree is up and about half of the lights are on. Guess I should get back to it!

Friday, December 09, 2005


The weather guessers were right (for once) and we did get some snow and ice, but they were also right about the area not getting much. It was enough to cause a two-hour delay for the federal government, but not enough to close for the day. So here I sit, stuck at my office rather than at home stitching.

I was pretty sure that we would at least get a late start today, so I stayed up a little later than usual last night and tried to catch up on BB stuff and emails. I also battled my silly computer trying to get some images to load. I was only partially successful though. My progress on Snow Wonderful loaded, but the latest pics of Santa's Magic didn't. I guess that doesn't really matter, since he hasn't changed much anyway. I think I will use him for this months stitching marathon weekend. Maybe if I spend a whole weekend working on him, I will finally see some progress.

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.comI had an absolutely delightful stitching session last night, working on Snow Wonderful. I wasn't 100% sure about my fabric choice at first, but now that I have a few colors added, I really love it. The white really pops and the overdyed threads also look great. I'm really pleased with it so far. Happily the frog (he was named Benjamin on one of my stitching groups several years ago... no idea why) stayed away and I was able to make a bit of progress, even though I really didn't spend all that much time working on it last night. I'm quite happy with the way this one is coming along.

I've committed to a freebie stitch-along this weekend, so I will probably won't get much done on Snow Wonderful until next week. I haven't yet chosen the freebie that I will stitch, since this just came up for me today. We'll see what I find!

Questions Answered

I wanted to try and answer a few questions that have come up recently on my blog. Unfortunately, I have been bombarded with work this week and haven't had a chance to get back to anyone. But today is nice and slow and now I have some time to answer this stuff, and to check in on all of your blogs that I enjoy reading regularly. I've caught up on my email group and the BB, with time to spare for blog reading. (I've really missed that this week!)

Lili-- Santa's Magic was started in 1999. I was pretty enthusiastic at first, but that wore off quickly. I don't know how many actual stitching hours I have into it so far. He has spent most of his 'lifetime' in a closet, but I am really trying to finish him in 2006. Thanks for adding me to your blog list... at least I know that I'm not here talking to myself. LOL As for my kitties (there are actually two, but one is *extremely* camera shy and never sits still long enough, so no pics of her here), neither of them ever goes out. I did put each of them outside in snow once, just to see what they'd do. They just stared at it and looked decidedly unimpressed by the experience.

Becky-- Thanks for the 'frog-be-gone' wishes. It worked, and I had a wonderful stitching session last night with NO FROGS.

Kim-- Robin laid an egg!!! I don't know if I'll *ever* get that out of my head now, thanks to you.

Veronica-- the Spanish sampler is by Needle's Content. The original pattern was in purples/greens, but I changed them around a bit because I felt like stitching something red. The design is lots of fun to stitch, and I'm anxious to get back to it again.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Rocky Start

I started M Designs Snow Wonderful today. Or perhaps I should say that I tried to start it. I'm afraid I didn't get very far.

I started out with great enthusiasm on a pretty piece of 32 ct. hand-dyed fabric that came in a recent Silkweaver order. The color is Adobe, which should work quite nicely, I think. I decided to break with my usual "start in the middle" routine and instead began in the center of the top border. I did the entire right half of the white area of the border before realizing that I had spaced each motif one stitch too far to the right. So I frogged five of the six motifs.

I restitched four of them and then proceeded to place the sixth one (the right corner) incorrectly three times. So I frogged again. And again. And again. Fourth time is the charm and I finally got it right! By then it was nearing bedtime, but I just had to get something on that fabric besides white. For all the time spent on this project this evening, I should be farther along. Oh well, it's a start.

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In the meantime, I'm having one of those weeks at work. I'm teaching Monday through Thursday, which is generally fine... but this week... not so fine. I ended the three-day course today and got great reviews, so that's positive. I just feel really burned out for some reason. I'm hoping tomorrow's one-day class goes quickly because I'm really ready for this to be over for the week. And since I'm doing this training in-house, rather than on the road, I get the added bonus of keeping up with regular office nonsense while still managing to teach.

I think they (you know, the weather types) are calling for snow here on Friday. Naturally I'm hoping it's enough to close the office. Otherwise, it's just something messy that I have to drive through to get to work. Maybe I'll get a bonus stitching day yet.

SBQ - Charity Stitching

This week's question was suggested by Zohrah.

Have you done any charity stitching, been in one, or would like to organize one?

I have only done two charity stitching projects. Both were quilts that I donated squares to a number of years ago. These happened to be projects where there was a theme that had to be stitched, and both also required white aida for the squares. Because of this, I had a very hard time getting motivated to work on them, even though it was for a good cause. I'd never be able to organize one, due to lack of time, but I would like to stitch for one again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December Goals

With the holidays approaching, I am trying not to be too ambitious with my stitching goals for the month of December.

1. Complete bands 5 and 6 on Acorns & Flowers Sampler.
2. Start Snow Wonderful
3. Assemble at least 2 ornaments
4. Complete Cloister Garden
5. Stitch once each week on Santa's Magic

So far, I have accomplished the following:

1. Completed band 5 and approximately 60% of band 6 of Acorns & Flowers
2. Assembled one Christmas ornament

And, I've been successful in keeping up with my commitment to work on Santa's Magic each week. I still haven't seen much progress, but every stitch counts! Here's what he looked like before this evening's stitching session:

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday update

We went to the country over the weekend, so I didn't have internet access. I took plenty of stitching in my new DMC project bag, which is turning out to be one of my favorite needlework purchases. I am able to store several projects at once, and it is so easy to carry along on trips.

Last week, I started a new ornament-- the Elizabeth's Designs Christmas tree from this year's JCS. I finished the regular stitching on it over the weekend and just need to add some beads and assemble it. I'm thinking a quilted ornie for this one, but I'm not sure yet.

I've decided to make Acorns and Flowers my focus piece for December. Below are the two most recent pics-- the first is from November and the most recent was taken this evening. This design has been challenging, particularly the diagonal montenegrin stitch, but I am slowly figuring it out. It's also supposed to be reversible, which has also been a learning experience. The back isn't perfect, but I think I'm doing pretty well.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Santa Ornie

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.comI put the finishing touches on the Santa ornament last night. I had a little trouble with the fabric bunching up around the corners because they were rounded. It made it a little tough to glue the front and back together neatly. I ended up putting a heavy bowl on top after gluing and letting it sit overnight on Wednesday. That worked, and I was able to hot-glue the trim on yesterday.

I was so excited with my two assemblies this week that I started another ornament last night. This time I am stitching the Elizabeth's Designs ornie from this year's JCS issue. I changed the fabric to 32 ct. natural linen and replaced the DMC with overdyes. I nearly finished the stitching last night-- just a bit more border to go and some beads on the tree.

I still haven't made a list of December goals yet. We're off to the country this weekend, so I'll have a bit of time to think about what I'd like to do this month. In the meantime, I'm planning to take Acorns & Flowers as well as some ornament patterns along for the trip.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I've been reading others' responses to the weekly Stitching Bloggers Question but haven't answered them myself. Thought I'd give it a go.

This week's question was suggested by Angelsan:

Do you have rules in the way you stitch? (i.e., Do you start in the middle? Do you determine which blocks to stitch first? Do you always start from the top or the bottom? Do you have special paths to prevent wasting thread?)

The only 'rule' I follow is that my stitches must all lay in the same direction. Where I start depends on what type of design I'm stitching. If it's a picture-type pattern, I always start in the middle. For sampler designs, I'm split-- sometimes beginning in the center, and other times beginning at the top left. I never start at the bottom or right side of a design. I generally focus on a specific area of a design, but I also tend to get bored easily and jump around from one area to another frequently. I also do backstitching and beads as I go, or some of my projects would end up as permanent UFOs.

Ta Da!!!

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.comButton Santa was completely assembled just in time to meet my final November stitching goal deadline. I dusted off my glue gun (haven't used it in years) and used it to attach the cording. It went on so easily and I'm hoping that maybe I'll be a bit more timely in assembling other projects.

I'm not thrilled with how this picture turned out. There is a weird reflection in the lettering above the rooftops that I don't like at all. It's from the surface of the foam core that I mounted the stitching on. The fabric is 18 or 19 ct. linen, so the holes are large and the backing shows through just a bit. It doesn't look shiny in real life-- that's just where the flash from the camera reflected.

Now I need to consider my December goals. I think that this month, I would like to be less ambitious with my large project, so that I can devote a bit of time to ornaments and other small projects.

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.comMy focus piece for December will be Acorns & Flowers Sampler, by Samplers and Such. At this point, I have 4 bands completed and most of band 5. That sampler was giving me fits until I picked up Amy Mitten's "Autopsy of the Montenegrin Stitch". I can't say enough good things about that little book-- it truly saved my sanity when working the diagonal montenegrin stitch. Without it, I have no doubt that this sampler would have become a UFO, as I simply could not figure out the diagonal montenegrin stitch and how to change directions based on the diagrams included with the pattern. It's a small book, roughly the size of a notecard, and spiral bound... and the best $16.50 plus shipping that I've ever spent.