Friday, April 28, 2006

Alphabets and Old Frogs

I started my Thursday evening stitching session by working on Castle Sampler. I managed to get all of the over-one stitching in the top border done. It's a small accomplishment, but progress nonetheless. It didn't take terribly long and I could have made some progress on the remaining bits, but I decided to put it down for a bit. The over-one areas aren't bad to stitch, just very fiddly and I don't have the eyesight (or patience!) for it after a day of staring at my office computer.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHere's how the blocks look. I still have to go back and put an over-two stitch in between the green over-one stitching. Actually, the worst part of the over-one stitching was the tiny little bit inside each letter block. Each one was five stitches-- done in three different colors, in typical TW fashion. The results are terrific, but doing confetti stitching over one is NOT my idea of a good time! LOL

That takes care of the Castle Sampler update. Now it's time for Old Frogs.

I've been trying to stitch one Christmas ornament each month this year, and so far I've kept up, more or less. I hadn't yet started an ornament for April, and I was ready for a break from CS last night. So I pulled out my stash of JCS ornament issues and found a forgotten ornament that I started back in 2000.

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I KNEW there had to be a reason that I had stopped working on this-- it was nearly finished, and had been tucked neatly inside the magazine, where it spent the last 4 1/2 years. It looked fine to me, so I decided to finish it. After stitching a very little bit, I realized why it had been sitting for so long. I had somehow miscounted by ONE STITCH (isn't that usually the case?) and didn't realize it until I had nearly completed the ornament. Not being a big fan of frogs, I simply put it away. And then I forgot about it.

This really bothered me. It's a pretty design and has enough work in it that I really don't want to start over. So I got out the scissors, and I frogged. And frogged. I had to frog all of left side from the bottom of the red motif up. I think I've removed all of the mistakes and am now ready to finish the stitching. :)

We're heading to the country for the weekend. We'll be staying a bit longer this time and won't return until Tuesday. There's a lot of work to do out there, so I'm not sure how much stitching time I'll have. I'm optimistic though, and will be taking a few projects along to keep me occupied.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Back to Scheduled Programming

I started back to work on Castle Sampler last night. At the moment, I'm still focusing on the over-one bits in the border, so it's slow going. The stitching is so tiny that it is sometimes difficult to tell that I'm making any progress at all. But if you look very closely, you'll see the bits that I stitched between the letters in the top border. There are two shades of green (3363 & 3364), so I've been stitching all of one, then coming back to do the other. It seems to go a wee bit faster that way. Of course, I still have to come back and do the over-two stitches in between. It's such a lot of work, but the results are nice.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

My 100th Post

I was beginning to get burned out on Castle Sampler, so I decided to take a break from it over the weekend. Instead, I worked on, and finished, Pumpkin Harvest by The Trilogy. HAPPY DANCE!!!!! This was my first ever "primitive" design, and it was a lot of fun to stitch. I don't think I'd want to do this type of pattern all the time, but it was certainly nice for a change and I'm sure it won't be my last.

Edited to add: OOPS!! This was NOT my first primitive design! I realized it last night when I went to bed and saw my completed Bent Creek lighthouse hanging on the wall. I wonder what else I've stitched that I've forgotten about? LOL

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Friday, April 21, 2006

S-L-O-W Progress

I'm still working on Castle Sampler, and it is extremely slow going at the moment. For the past few days I've been focusing on the backstitching on the border and the over-one areas. It's making for some VERY slow progress!

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Questioning my sanity

I'm still working on Castle Sampler, trying to finish it before the start of Persian Iris Garden. I'm mostly working on the backstitching in the outer border, so there really isn't any progress worth showing yet. Maybe in another day or two.

In the meantime, I'm starting to wonder what I'm getting myself into with the Persian Iris Garden online class. Challenge #1 is the fabric-- 32 ct. black Belfast. I've stitched two other projects on black fabric in the past. The first was a Cross My Heart leopard on 16 ct. aida (I hadn't learned about linen back then).

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After I finally completed that design, I swore I'd never stitch on black fabric again. Then I decided to do TW's The Castle on black fabric. This time I used 28 ct. jobelan, which I found much easier to work with than the black aida.

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Challenge #2 is the beading, for which there are two options. The first option has only 1,788 beads. The other option includes beaded corners (the bit with the irises) and uses 4,432 beads. I like beading and all, but that's a LOT (!!!) of beads. Realistically, this isn't much more than Angel of Love, which I stitched years ago for my mom. It had 4,110 seed beads, so I should be able to manage with 122 more.

What's daunting is the thought of all those beads on BLACK fabric. Combine that with the sheer size of the design (293 x 293), and you can see why I wonder what I'm getting myself into. Still, I love a stitching challenge, so I'll be anxious to start this one. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long for the supplies!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

SBQ - April 19

This week's SBQ is from Jenna:

Do you do obligation or deadline-based stitching? Why or why not? If you do, do you tend to get in over your head and why?

Yes, I do obligation/deadline-based stitching. I only recently got back to it, after a several years long hiatus. I stopped doing it a few years ago because life got in the way and I felt unable to meet deadlines. But I found that I missed participating in exchanges, so this year I decided to try it again. So far, I've done three exchanges this year, and had great success with each of them.

However, the only obligation stitching that I participate in now is for exchanges. I don't do round robins or "theme" projects that demand a certain genre, design size, fabric, etc. I've participated in one or two of those types of projects, and have found that I had to really force myself to finish the projects. I need more freedom in my stitching choices, I guess. My reasons for participating in exchanges is easy-- I love giving and receiving stitched gifts. It's particularly nice to send a stitched gift to someone whom I know will appreciate it.

I occassionally feel like I'm in over my head as mailing dates approach. I like for each exchange gift to be just right, and I often have trouble settling on a finishing technique. As a result, I find that I sometimes have to really push myself at the end to get things in the mail. Even so, I haven't missed any deadlines and have had a wonderful time in all of my 2006 exchanges.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weekend stitching... or lack thereof

The weekend was great, very productive. I didn't do a lot of stitching, though. This was the monthly stitchathon weekend, but I had to squeeze stitching sessions in between everything else I needed to accomplish. There simply wasn't enough time or energy.

My weekend started with a drive to the country on Friday evening. Normally we don't leave until Saturday morning, but this time I had some bank business that needed to be done, so we had to leave on Friday. I came home from work, cooked dinner, cleaned a little, packed a little, then jumped in the car. Most of Saturday was spent between the bank, DMV, and yard work. All of that was followed by some quality time in the jacuzzi, which didn't leave much time for stitching. Sunday was Easter dinner with family, followed by the drive home. Again, not much time for stitching.

I had intended to work on Robert's Stocking over the weekend. The stitching is nearly done, and it works up so quickly. I thought it would be a good project for the weekend, as well as a nice break from Castle Sampler. But when the time came to work on it, I just couldn't get motivated. So I pulled out Castle Sampler and worked on it instead. With such limited stitching time, I didn't make a lot of progress. Still, I am inching closer to a finish on this one. Here are the Before & After pics:

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And now, a gratuitous picture from the country. This is my little breakfast nook, one of my favorite spots in the house. We have a very pretty formal dining room out there, but I like the breakfast nook, with it's view of the mountains. On the table are some flowers that I picked on Easter morning. They were for my aunt, along with the crystal pitcher, which had belonged to my mother. The tablecloth is cross stitched, but not by me. It was passed on by a friend of the family. I don't know who stitched it, or when, but it is quite old.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Dance!

Last night I finished Seaside Sampler, by Stranded by the Sea. Time for a Happy Dance! This brings my total finishes to 10 for 2006. With any luck, I'll also finish Robert's Stocking and (maybe, just maybe) Castle Sampler before the end of the month.

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My Next Project

I did it!!! I signed up for my very first Chatelaine on-line class. These designs have always appealed to me, but this is the first one that I've just HAD (!!!) to stitch. Which one?? Why, Persian Iris Garden, of course!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love artwork or designs that have a Persian influence. The moment I saw this design, I knew I would be stitching it. It's just so... ME!! Believe it or not, I didn't sign up for the Yahoo group immediately. The project doesn't begin until May 1, and I thought it would be torture to join the group months before the pattern, or even the materials list, was released. So, I waited.

The materials list was released while I was on vacation, and I sent my payment for the group early this week. I also promptly ordered the materials (including the extra bead pack for the corners) from European Cross Stitch. Unfortunately, my package won't be shipped until at least May 1, so I won't have the materials on the day that the pattern is released.

I'm anxiously awaiting my start on this project. I even have "music to stitch by" picked out (something by Kayhan Kalhor, most likely). It's going to be a long wait!

In the meantime, I'm trying to finish Castle Sampler-- hopefully before Persian Iris Garden arrives.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Stocking Info

Carol, I read your question about Robert's Stocking, and completely forgot to answer. Sorry about that! The stocking pattern is by Shepherd's Bush. I've been amazed at how quickly this one has worked up. I'm hoping to finish it this month, with Sophie's Stocking to follow later this year.

A Little Happy Dance

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I actually finished this over the weekend, but didn't have time to post until today. It's Partridge & Pears, by Prairie Schooler, from the 2005 JCS ornaments issue. I had intended to finish this in March as part of a SAL, but I ran out of time, so it was my first finish in April instead.

My next April finish will be Seaside Sampler, by Stranded by the Sea. This was also a stitch-along project. It was a 24-hour SAL, and I didn't quite finish it in time. (Do we see a theme developing here? LOL) I think it was a bit ambitious for a 24-hour project. It works up quickly, but it measures 5" x 5", which is a bit more than I can generally find time to stitch in a weekend. It was a lot of fun trying though, and it will definitely be completed this week.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

It came from the 80s

I've done needlework in one form or another since I was a child. I'm 36 years old now, so that's a lot of years spent with needle in hand. I did a few bits of cross stitch here and there as a kid, but the bug didn't really hit me until I was in college. That would have been in the late 80s/early 90s, for any of you who do not want to do the math. ;) Needlework has come a long way since then.

I give you Exhibit A...

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I found this little beauty while sorting through some of my stash this afternoon. I had no idea that it wasn't quite finished. I guess that makes it my oldest UFO. I feel like I should finish it-- those last few missing stitches bother me. And yet, if I did finish it, WHAT ON EARTH WOULD I DO WITH IT??? To say that it doesn't reflect my tastes now would be an understatement.

It didn't reflect my tastes back then, either.

No, what this project represents is a lack of available designs and a lack of stash money, combined with a desire to stitch something. ANYTHING. Just as long as I was stitching.

You see, it was the late 80s, and I was a poor college student. Those of you who have done needlework for 20+ years will remember what the design choices were like back then. It was, as they say, slim pickings. Add a miniscule stash budget (and no internet!), and you get things like this. The booklet was by Kappie (anyone remember them?). I was tired of stitching teddy bears, and this was something different. It even called for Balger blending filament, which I had never heard of. The patterns were all of stylized ladies, and all outlined in black.

I chose this particular pattern out of the booklet because it had the fewest colors, and I already had some of them on-hand. This meant that I didn't have to buy any additional supplies, other than the Balger and fabric (14 ct. white aida).

Looking at this project reminds me of how lucky we are to have so many talented designers producing a wide variety of patterns, and how fortunate I am to have a stash budget. Maybe I should frame this project and hang it in a place where I can see it regularly as a reminder.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm back!!!

We left for a trip to New Bern, NC last Saturday, and I didn't have a chance to post before we got on the road. It was a blissful week of relaxation and stitching, and an occassional walks by the lake.

Prior to leaving, I was busy finishing my Spring exchange gift for Leslie. I stitched Just Nan's Royal Blossoms, with a few changes. I made my flowers purple instead of pink, and used pale lavender fabric. Of course, I got all the way to the PO when I realized I hadn't taken a photo of it. :( Fortunately, Leslie posted a pic on her blog.

I also received a spring exchange gift from Laurie a couple of days before leaving. I just loved this little needlebook-- it's so beautifully stitched and finished. Thanks, Laurie!!

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I took three projects along on our trip-- Castle Sampler, Robert's Stocking and a Christmas ornament. But the only one I worked on was Castle Sampler. I made some good progress on it, and am hoping to finish it in April or May.

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