Thursday, August 31, 2006

August Review

Is it really the end of August already? I have no idea where the month went, but it certainly passed quickly. I managed to meet most of my stitching goals this month, and even exceeded a couple of them. The one goal that I didn't meet was starting and finishing Part 4 of Persian Iris Garden. I started, but then I got distracted by other things. First came a couple of exchange projecs. After that, I realized that I need to sew some clothes for our cruise. So here I am, on the last day of the month, with Part 4 only partially completed... and several more pairs of pants to make.

In the meantime, I did have a happy dance this evening. In fact, it was just minutes ago. I was determined to get back to stitching an ornament each month, so I stitched up this little project. The design is Christmas Heart Pincushion by Mary Garry's Sewing Cabin, which appeared in the JCS 2000 ornament issue.

I'll be sharing more pics, both of my sewing and PIG, soon-- as soon as I recharge the batteries for my digital camera. The Christmas ornament was small enough to fit on the scanner... not so for PIG. Or my new pants. LOL

The August review looks something like this:

1. Start and finish Part 4 of PIG - not done yet, but close; I'd guess that part 4 is about 80% finished
2. Stitch a fob for upcoming exchange - completed and ready for mailing
3. Start fall exchange project - started and FINISHED! :)
4. Assemble at least one FUFO - assembled two on 8/6
5. Stitch a Christmas ornament - Christmas Heart Pincusion, completed 8/31


6. Finally finished my Pansy Needleroll UFO on 8/15
7. Made a pair of pants and a top for the cruise

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just a quick check-in

My first few days of "Temporary Retirement" have been quite nice, but I haven't spent much time on the computer.  Maybe tomorrow I will have time to catch up on my blog reading.  For now, there are just a few minutes to post.

On the stitching front, I've had a Happy Dance for my completed fall exchange project.  I can't wait to share a photo.  It will be a while though, since the project won't even be mailed until October. 

I've also worked a bit on PIG.  It's coming along nicely, although I still haven't managed to get a great photo of it. 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm also busy counting the days until our cruise.  I'm looking forward to the trip, but there is still a lot to prepare before we go.  For one thing, I need clothes.  Being a natural born procrastinator, I didn't start shopping until last weekend.  The stores have all of their fall/winter stuff out now, and there's not much available that would be suitable for a tropical vacation.  So... I decided to MAKE the things I need.  Everything except swimwear, anyway.  I did manage to find one of those yesterday-- the only one in the entire store that wasn't on sale. :(  With just over 2 weeks before we leave, I've been spending a lot of time at the fabric store.  My sewing machine is rapidly becoming my new best friend, which hasn't left a lot of time for stitching. 

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A New Project & SBQ

My new project is.... well, I can't tell you, because it's for an exchange. ;) I felt like I needed a little break from PIG last night, so I decided to start my fall exchange gift. I love fall designs and colors, so it was tough for me to settle on a pattern for this one. One pattern really stood out from the others though, so I pulled the floss (overdyes... yay!!!) and set about finding a piece of suitable fabric. I found the most perfect fabric in my stash for this little project. It's an R&R hand-dyed thing in a shade that really sets off the floss colors. I only have one small piece of this fabric, which makes it hard to give up, but nothing else even came close to looking as pretty as this one. I have a feeling that I am going to be tracking down more of this fabric and stitching another of these things for myself. LOL Anyway, I think my partner will like it, and it's a really fun stitch.

And now, it's time for this weeks SBQ. We actually have two this week:

Ami asks us:

Do you have an organizational system for your fabric? If so, what is it? If not, what do you store your fabric in?

And Anna wants to know:

How do people store their fabric, especially those small but potentially usable pieces? Do they sort by count? How do they label it or otherwise know what each piece is?

Timely questions, since I was just searching through my fabric stash last night. Fabric storage was a complete non-issue until I got acquainted with Silkweaver and their Fabric of the Month club. Before that time, I purchased only fabric that I needed for a specific project. I had no idea why anyone would want to stockpile fabric. Well, let's just say that I learned... all too well. Soon after I joined FOTM, I purchased a large Rubbermaid box to store all the fabrics in. It was so big, and my collection was so small, that I thought it would be all the fabric storage I would ever need. It still fits in there... sort of... but, if I get many more packages from Silkweaver, it's going to be time for new storage.

I have a well-intended, but poorly implemented, system for sorting my fabrics. I'm not a fan of cutting a small hunk out of a large piece of fabric when I want to stitch a small project, so I first separate my fabric by the size of the cut. Much of my fabric collection is made up of small cuts, so those take most of the storage space. From there, I sort by fabric count, then by color. At least, that is what I intend to do. The reality is that I'm not that organized most of the time, and I'm lucky if all of the fabric makes it into the container designated for fabric storage. Even so, it's still relatively organized and I am usually able to find what I'm looking for.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Let the countdown begin!

Friday will be my last day of work for a while.  It's my last day of work for 4 1/2 months, to be exact.  I have so many things that I need to do at my house in the country, that I decided to take time off of work to get them done.  It has been nearly a year and a half since my dad passed away, and things out there just aren't progressing quickly enough to suit me.  Of course, there's no real rush, other than the one in my head.  I'm not planning to sell the house, but even so, I would like to have the time to go through everything out there and decide what I'd like to keep and what can go.  That takes time-- more time than I have to devote to it when I have to be at work 5 days a week.  So, that's where the leave of absence comes in.

Last night, I finally had a happy dance for Pansy Sampler!  This is the project I chose for the weekend needleroll stitch-along.  Most of this was already stitched before I picked it up over the weekend.  I only had to do the Hardanger and beads.  I just couldn't get motivated, and things kept going wrong, so I didn't finish it until last night.  I still need to hemstitch it and assemble the needleroll.  Maybe that will be next month's FUFO project.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And, here's a picture of the soap that I made on Sunday.  I love how this turned out!  I molded it in an empty breadcrumb cannister that I had washed out.  It was just the right size for the loofah, and I was able to just tear it off to unmold the soap.  From there, I sliced it about 1" thick.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mid-August Goal Review... and other things

First, I would like to thank everyone for the supportive comments and emails.  I'm happy to say that yesterday was considerably better than Sunday.  :)  For starters, I emailed SoapCrafters about the scale, and they are shipping me a replacement.  I've placed several orders with this company before, always with outstanding results, but this is the first time I've had any problems with an order.  I have to say that their quick response and willingness to take care of this has earned them an A+ in customer service. 

I also cut my loofah soap into bars yesterday, and oooohhh... they're nice!!  They're a little too scrubby for every day use, but great for a weekly exfoliating treatment. They also lather nicely, something that is a concern with melt & pour soaps, because not all soap bases are created equal.  A lot of them simply don't lather well.  Granted, the amount of lather has nothing to do with the cleaning ability of the soap, but it's still nice to have suds.  For anyone interested in doing M&P soaps, the bases I've been using come from the above-mentioned SoapCrafters.  I've been quite happy with the lather, even when I add a bit of cocoa butter to the mix.

Okay, enough of my "soap box" (sorry, couldn't resist the pun!).  On to the mid-month goal review:

1.  Start and finish Part 4 of PIG - started 8/1
2.  Stitch a fob for upcoming exchange - stitching completed 8/6, still need to assemble
3.  Start fall exchange project - not yet started, but I have chosen the design
4.  Assemble at least one FUFO - assembled two on 8/6
5.  Stitch a Christmas ornament - nope

Finishing Part 4 of PIG may be a bit of a stretch.  There is quite a bit of stitching in this section.  Also,
I've signed up for a LOT of exchanges in the coming months (5 to be mailed between Sept. 1 and Nov. 10).  I really enjoy stitching for exchanges, but they do take time away from PIG stitching. 

The fob will be assembled this weekend, at the latest.  The fall exchange piece will be started in the next few days, just as soon as I go to the LNS to pick up some more over-dyed thread for it.  The Christmas ornament.... well, that might not happen, but I haven't ruled it out yet.  But I did assemble two FUFOs!!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

Have you ever had "one of those days" where nothing seems to go right?  Well, that describes much of my weekend.  I had the very best of intentions, but my plans didn't go so well.  Some of it was due to lack of motivation, but other things really seemed to be the universe conspiring against me.

I finally managed to join Katrina's needleroll stitch-along.  This is something I've wanted to participate in for the past couple of months, but something always comes up to keep me from it.  This month, I had the time to do it.  I was going to work on Victoria Sampler's Pansy needleroll.  It was very close to being finished and had been in the UFO pile for a long time.  I pulled it out after work on Friday and saw that I only needed to finish the Hardanger band at the bottom and attach the beads.  A piece of cake, right?  WRONG!! 

Try as I might, I just couldn't get motivated to do the Hardanger.  So, I forced myself to work on it.  BAD IDEA!  I started out by promptly cutting the wrong threads.  >:(  I repaired it, then started working on the rest.  I had spent about an hour on it, when I realized I was using #8 perle cotton where I was supposed to be using #12.  Have you ever had to frog Hardanger???  I don't mean the kloster blocks... but the wrapped bars and such?  UGH!!!  I finally gave up and went to bed.

On Saturday, I frogged my mistakes and started again.  I stuck with it, mostly, and have *almost* finished it.  I still have to do the dove's eyes and add the beads.  I'll do that this evening and post a pic tonight. ;)

My other good intention for the weekend was to assemble my fob for the upcoming exchange.  I wasn't motivated to do it, and after the Hardanger disaster, I decided that it would be best to hold off on the assembly.  By Sunday, I decided that was a really good thing.  I'm sure I would have managed to ruin it somehow.

Since stitching wasn't going well, I decided to try my hand at my planned soapmaking.  I had everything except the lye.  No problem, right?  Lye is EASY to find... available in most supermarkets.  Or so I've been told.  Four stores later, and I *still* don't have any lye.  So, no soap from scratch for me this weekend. :(

I couldn't do soap from scratch, but I could make some melt & pour.  What could possibly go wrong there?  For starters, that was when I discovered that my scale... the one that measures to the gram, that I had to order online and pay plenty of $$ for, plus shipping... doesn't work.  I tried everything.  The stupid thing simply doesn't work.  Great.  What next?

I guessed (incorrectly, of course) at the amount of soap base to melt to make some round soaps with loofah in them.  Melted, poured and, oops... I hadn't melted enough soap base.  That was easy enough to fix.  I just melted some more and poured it in.  No problem.

By this time, I was tired of standing on my feet in the kitchen, but it was nearly time for dinner.  Before I could fix dinner, I had to clean up the kitchen.  I was making a pasta dish that I could probably do in my sleep, if I had to.  I had everything ready to go and only needed to grate some fresh parmesan to top it with.  I opened my brand-new wedge of parmesan and there it was... a hair, embedded in the cheese and sticking out about 1/4".  If I hadn't seen it, I never would have believed it.  What person finds a HAIR sticking out of their cheese??? 

That's just the kind of day I was having.

Fortunately, I cook a lot and had more parmesan on-hand, so all was not lost.

Of course, there are no pictures to post today.  I was afraid to go near the computer last night.  I was convinced that if I got near it, the thing would mysteriously combust.  I'll have pics of the needleroll, and maybe PIG, tomorrow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jessica Stitch

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This just might be my new favorite stitch.  Isn't it pretty?  Surprisingly, I had never done it before, though I have heard other stitchers talk about Jessica stitch.  Based on the black background, you can probably guess that this is from Persian Iris Garden, which I worked on last night. 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Part 4 is coming along nicely, although I haven't had as much time to work on it as I would have liked.  There's quite a bit of stitching in this installment.  Probably no more stitches than Part 3, but the color changes slow things down. 

I may not work on this over the weekend.  I haven't decided yet, but I do know that I have a couple of other stitching commitments.  First, I need to assemble a scissor fob for an exchange.  It isn't due to be mailed until September 1, but I would like to have it ready early.  I finished the stitching last weekend, so finishing it in the next day or so shouldn't be any problem.  My next weekend stitching commitment is a needleroll stitch-along.  I'm hoping to finish Victoria Sampler's Pansy needleroll-- a project that has been in the UFO pile for quite some time.

If I can find some time in between assorted stitching projects, I'd also like to make some soap.  Not the melt and pour stuff (though that's fun, too), but real, do-it-yourself, made-from-scratch SOAP.  I have nearly all of the supplies gathered, just need to purchase some lye and some utensils to designate for soap-making only use.  Hopefully I won't destroy BF's kitchen in the process. ;)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today's SBQ is from Ami:

For those of you who use hand- or over-dyed floss, how do you store it?

I do stitch with over-dyed floss, but I've never found a great way to store it.  Some over-dyes, like Needle Necessities, have pre-cut lengths bound together to form a skein, which makes it impossible to wrap them around floss bobbins.  Even if I could wrap them on bobbins (as I do with my DMC), I wouldn't have enough room to write the color names or manufacturer's name. 

Over the years, my lack of organizing my specialty threads has resulted in a bit of a mess.  They ended up in various bags, which were then stored in my assorted bins where I keep the rest of my stitching stuff.  Some of them have lost their labels, and while I may know what manufacturer they are, I have no idea what the color is.  I know photos exist online, but I haven't yet had the time to sit down and go through all of my "mystery" colors.

In the meantime, I recently decided to take charge of my growing over-dyed floss disaster and have been slowly working toward getting all started.  For now, I am storing them in Floss-Away bags, grouped together on rings by manufacturer.  They're on the rings in either alphabetical or numeric order, depending on how the manufacturer designates their colors.  So far, this is working fairly well and I'll keep this system until I can come up with something better.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

As I was saying...

I just had an "oops."  Blogger and my internet connection were not playing nicely together, so I am posting all of this via Photobucket.  I accidently sent the previous post before I was finished.  I tried to log on to Blogger and clean it up, but of course I can't get connected to post or delete anything there.  We'll chalk it up to technical difficulty and move on. ;)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe second FUFO that I assembled over the weekend (see the post below for the first), was an ornament stitched from a kit that I purchased ages ago.  I've had the thing finished for so long that I don't even remember stitching it.  Well, it was nearly finished anyway.  The stitching was done, but I still needed to add the beads.  I had shied away from assembling this one for two reasons.  First, because it's stocking-shaped, and I wasn't excited about sewing it up.  As if that wasn't enough, there was also twisted cord trim.  I hate making twisted cord, and I'm even less thrilled about whipstitching it on, especially if what I'm sewing it onto has curves like this tiny little stocking.

Personally, I think this turned out quite nicely, even if I am not the worlds greatest twisted cord maker.  The cord looks skinnier on one side, but that's just the camera angle.  It's actually even all the way around.  I'm really quite pleased with myself for finally finishing this one.

Since we were in the country this weekend, I was able to take a few photos of my flowers.  The first one is a winter hibiscus, with an enormous lavender plant in the background. 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Next is a hydrangea, which has produced some very large clusters this year. 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now, just so you don't think that I have a country home with beautiful flowers everywhere, I'll show you one of my poor little rose beds.  These plants used to be so beautiful when my dad was tending them.  But when he got ill in 2004, he couldn't take care of them.  Once he passed away, I had so many other things to do that tending the roses wasn't on my priority list.  This year, I've gotten quite a few blooms, even though the plants look awful.  They're sort of between blooming sessions now, and the Japanese beetles have also attacked.  I purchased a small pump sprayer-- sized so that I can easily carry it around-- and battled the bugs this weekend.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Yes, that's right.  Successes, plural.  As in, more than one.  Okay, so it was really only two, which doesn't put much of a dent in the giant FUFO pile, but it's a start.  :)

The first FUFO finish was this little guy, as I had planned.  I had the candy cane fabric on-hand and thought it was just perfect for this design.  The ultra-basic flat-fold finish happened because I didn't have any suitable cording for the edges.  Everything was either the wrong shade of red, or too dressy for this design. 

You may also notice that I did not change my initials as planned.  That's because I completely forgot about it until I had already completely assembled the piece.  And so, there it is.  >:(  BF laughed and said it was a "stamp in time" but I wasn't quite so amused.  I thought about picking it out, then decided that it really isn't that important.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I finished the flat-fold while we were in the country over the weekend. I hauled a ridiculous amount of finishing supplies out there-- all of my finishing fabrics, trims, rotary cutter, mat boards, etc. I spread it

Friday, August 04, 2006

PIG Update

Here's how PIG looked as of Monday, July 31.  This is everything up to part 3, except for the large center bead, which will be added when the entire project is complete.  I've been working on Part 4 this week-- look for another update photo soon. 

I'm really not thrilled with how the photos of this project turn out.  It looks so much better IRL.  The larger version looks better, but it's still not quite right.  I think I need to play around with my camera settings a bit. 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, August 03, 2006

SBQ - Week of 8/7

This week's SBQ is from Carol:

Do you have a favorite needlework tool that you like to work with? What is it and why do you like using it?

The only special needlework tool I ever used regularly was a Dololly.  I purchased it back in 1996 or 1997, not too long after they came out.  Unfortunately, I've lost track of it and it's floating around somewhere in my condo. :(  I really like the little thing-- it's great for tucking threads that are too short to run under with a needle.  I also have a floor stand... does that count as a "tool"?  I don't really use it though, because I quickly get tired of fiddling around trying to flip the stitching over to change threads. 

Other than that, I just have the basics-- needles, scissors, Q-snaps, etc.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I almost forgot

It's August now, and I nearly forgot (once again) to set my stitching goals for the month.  I was doing quite well with this earlier in the year, but somewhere along the way, I got off-track.  So, here goes...

1.  Start & finish part 4 of Persian Iris Garden - started 8/1
2.  Stitch a fob for upcoming scissor fob exchange
3.  Start fall exchange project
4.  Assemble at least one FUFO - will work on that over the weekend
5.  Stitch a Christmas ornament

Finishing Plans

I had hoped to post a photo of my completed part 3 of Persian Iris Garden.  I did take a photo of it yesterday, before beginning part 4, but I didn't upload it to my computer.  The reason?  Our a/c decided to give up on Monday evening, and it was too hot in our home office to spend time in there on the computer.  The a/c was repaired late yesterday afternoon, but the house still hadn't cooled enough for me to stand being in the office.  I'll post it later today, I promise.

Part 4 is going to be lovely.  There are quite a few colors and several specialty stitches in this section.  I'm off to a nice start already.  Maybe I'll post that, too.

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.comI'm also making plans for an upcoming FUFO weekend, where I will dig out one of my Finished UnFinished Objects and make something out of it.  I'm thinking of using this design for a flat-fold.  What do you think?  I have some cute candy cane printed fabric that will be perfect for the backing, and I'm sure that I have some coordinating holiday trim on-hand.  If you look closely, you'll see that I finished this piece in 1996.  Yes, that's right, it has been sitting around for 10 years, and I still haven't done anything with it.  Sadly, this isn't the least bit unusual for me.  Sigh... 

Ohhhh... it looks like I also need to change my initials on it.  I was married at the time I finished that one, and I really don't need the reminder.  LOL

Soon, I think I will take some photos of all of my FUFOs (or the ones I can find, anyway) and post them.  Maybe that will motivate me to finish a few more of them.  It's really inexcusable to have so many sitting around.