December 31, 2006

New Year's Sampler Eve!

Although it's been a typically busy weekend, I managed to do some stitching on Whale Hunting, shown here.

The gold star button I ordered from my LNS for the Birth of Jesus arrived, so I went to pick it up and did a little stash building, which is a perfect thing to do on the last day of the year. I didn't come close to finishing Birth of Jesus, but there's always next year, isn't there? Too funny--the LNS had a sign that said "359 Stitching Days Until Christmas." Maybe I should have bought an ornament to start--it might be done by next Christmas! One of the things I picked up was this little sampler by Chessie & Me, called 1890 House Sampler. It looks a lot like the IRL house we're bidding on right now, although, as you'll see from this picture, most of the houses in the neighborhood we've chosen look a lot like this Sampler, don't you think?

I'm thinking of designing a sampler called "urban sprawl." This view of the neighborhood we'll be settling in is from the back yard of a house we considered--the property was a bit...vertical. We figured it would be a problem if you tripped and fell while mowing the lawn.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to All My Stitching Friends!

I spent part of my Christmas bonus on the above print, Port of Georgetown, which is by Carol Dyer. Wouldn't it be terrific as a needlework project?

I hope everyone's Christmas has been peaceful and joyous.

December 24, 2006

Sampler Sunday/Monday: Christmas Edition

Here's another shot of the underskirt of the renaissance-style wedding dress displayed in the window of my LNS in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I called the LNS to get the scoop. Such a nice story for Christmas. This dress was painstakingly stitched by a woman for her friend's wedding. The wedding had a renaissance theme, and the dress was researched carefully for authenticity and hand-sewn, then embroidered. Such a wonderful thing to do for a friend.

Yesterday was a blur of busy-ness, including more househunting and then some last-minute Christmas shopping. We have toured many houses in the last few weeks, looking in cupboards and in closets, noting beadboard and chair rail and crown molding and assessing people's Christmas trees. We have seen so many Christmas trees in so many different styles, all of them beautiful.

Today was a gift: After a quick stop at the grocery store, we stayed home to enjoy our tree and relax. We're on our own this year; we didn't have the time to go to Cape Cod. I took a much-needed nap this afternoon, cuddling with three of our cats, and then roasted a duck for Christmas eve dinner (tomorrow we'll make my family's traditional dinner: standing rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding). After dinner tonight, we drove around for an hour or so, looking at people's Christmas lights. It was wonderful.

Here are some Christmas decorations from Washington. The large building is the Treasury Dept. The two wreaths hang on one of the gates at the White House. They're real and very fresh, by the way; I pinched them between my fingers and sniffed them under the watchful eye of the Secret Service.

Last but not least is the Sunday Sampler: "Blessed Are the Needleworkers," by the Kreinik Manufacturing Co. The kit comes in a little CD-sized case and includes the directions and 9 skeins of Kreinik Silk Mori Milkpaint colors. The fabric, purchased separately, is 32 ct. flax color linen.

A very merry Christmas to you all!

December 17, 2006

Back to the Hunt: Sampler Sunday

It's been quite a week. Here are two pictures from my latest visit to my LNS. They had this wonderful dress showcased in their window. I forgot to ask why, because I was rushed and we chatted about other things. Probably one of the local tourist-destination mansions loaned it out. Because I've loaded so many other photos, I won't show you my stash or ruminate on a sampler today. Hopefully by clicking on the photos, you can see the incredible detail. Good thing it isn't a kit--I'd have had to buy it!

Notice the bee! There are also butterflies and a spider web.

I haven't had much time to stitch this week, but here's some progress on whale hunting.

The sellers of the home I showed you last week wouldn't meet our offer, so we moved on to another house. It's wonderful also and has a prettier yard, so I don't feel sad at all. But it's a hassle, both for us and for the poor real estate broker, to have to do the paperwork all over again, particularly at this time of year.
The most amazing thing: yesterday we went to a newly listed home and were given a guided tour by the owner (note to anyone doing that--NOT a good idea since the prospective buyers don't have a chance to talk privately and also because the seller may wind up chat-chat-chatting as this one did about her hopes and fears and plans and intentions, which told us more than we should have known about her financial position). Although ultimately her house wasn't right for us, she was an utterly charming and a fascinating person. Two things: her husband has a stash of models (planes, boats, helicopters) in boxes, ready to be put together, that filled an entire ROOM. And we think our stash is big and bad? Mine doesn't hold a candle to his. The other is that in a guest room, hanging on a wall, was an antique sampler. A REAL antique sampler, stitched in 1837. Darned if I can remember the name of the stitcher, but she was a 13-year-old girl, and it was the most incredibly fine and complex stitching that I've seen in an antique. There were some little holes at the bottom of the fabric, but other than that, it is perfect. My goodness, and she didn't even know what she had. I asked her if she knew what it was worth and she said no, that her mom had found it somewhere and had given it to her, so it was precious for that. I filled her in on the likelihood of the thousands of dollars it might be worth and urged her to check with an appraiser. Whoa--if I had found that in a shop or at a yard sale, I'd have about had a heart attack.

Last, here's this year's glitzy wreath. Actually, we have a traditional greenery and red bow wreath for our gate, but this will hang on the front door. Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a cascade of falling sequins every time you open the door....

December 10, 2006

Sampler Sunday: The Well-Tempered Disklavier

I did some stitching this week on Stockholm (to see progress, you may want to scroll down a couple of days). Basically I worked on water, of which there is a lot in this project. Not much time to stitch though, with Christmas breathing down our necks, is there?

Here's today's sampler, by the Scarlet Letter. It's called The Fishing Lady. I'm picturing fishing in that dress. Note that the female is doing the heavy lifting here. The guy has come down from the house where he was getting ready to stretch out and listen to his CD player. He's come to the pond to determine whether she's through using his headphone wires as fishing line and also to find out when dinner will be ready. She's trying to determine if the dinner will swim away while she holds the guy's head under the water until he stops talking.

The last few houses that we viewed yesterday were hilarious. One house had a swimming pool surrounded by garden gnomes, Greek statues, pottery burros pulling cartloads of dead plants, and all manner of other plastic/resin/plaster animals. Another house in a gorgeous neighborhood was run down and dirty inside, and reeked strongly of pot smoke. A second house in the same neighborhood came with a commercial stove and a grand piano. I would have bought the house for either one of them, although I don't particularly like to cook and I don't play the piano. It's not as farfetched as it sounds, though; I have played the violin for years and have wanted to take piano lessons for a long time but haven't done so since I don't own a piano. This was a nine-foot Yamaha grand piano, called a "Disklavier." The Disklavier comes with a digital attachment which takes CDs. You can play the Disklavier as you would any concert grand (with or without orchestral accompaniment), or you can use it as a player piano or you can record and enhance digital music files. I love the name "Disklavier." Even better is the name for the electronic predecessor of this piano: the Clavinova. Then again, when would I fit piano lessons into my schedule? BF nixed the stove/piano house, unfortunately. It has been an eye-opener for BF and me to see how little we agree on our residence and on important financial matters; no wonder so many couples buy a house and then get a divorce. I heard of a couple who had searched long and hard for the perfect house and then got a divorce before they ever finished the negotiations for it.
So here's the house we've decided on; we made an offer this morning, and we should know by tomorrow if the seller accepts it.

December 07, 2006

Christmas in the City

The law firm where I work is across the street from the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the Treasury Dept. and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. Nice neighborhood, although I don't particularly notice it most days. But everything seems extra spiffy for Christmas this year, so I thought I'd share some pictures. It's even nicer at night when I leave, but my little camera doesn't do well with night shots. This first photo is of the Old Executive Office Building (there's a new Exec. Office Bldg., but it's hideous in the way of contemporary government space). My favorite part of the OEOB, which I only caught a slice of, is the pair of enormous magnolias on the lawn. I love the huge wreath and the column wrapping, all of which is lit up at night.

This is the Sun Trust Bank building. I like the building, which reminds me of Glasgow, Scotland, where there is block after block of buildings in this style. Nice wreath.
This is the Renwick Gallery. I'm disappointed with the Smithsonian folks, who I think could have done a better job with the wreaths and swags. They're way too small for the building's scale. All the same, the banners are intriguing; I'll have to check out the exhibit one of these days at lunch, maybe during the quiet time between Christmas and New Year.

The last photo is the Christmas tableau at my desk: Coke's Christmas polar bears and the bright red binding of the SEC Handbook, which spells out all things related to the reporting duties of publicly-held companies.

December 03, 2006

Long Ago and Far Away (Sampler Sunday)

I pulled out this UFO today, and now it has become a WIP. I'd forgotten how much fun it was and also, how huge (it's a little more than 3 feet wide!). I bought it years and years ago (maybe 17) and started it, then put it away and didn't cross stitch at all for a number of years. I had taken up knitting then and I remember being really tired of stitching it. Back then there weren't as many cute smaller projects for taking a break from a major project as there are now. It is called Stockholm and came as a kit. It lists only "evenweave fabric" and DMC cotton. I ordered it from a beautiful catalogue from Eva Rosenstand, which is still in business and now has an online presence although you can still order the printed catalogue (you must order the kits from a dealer or from the catalogue I think). I discovered this design is still in print. I searched for it and found it in a few U.K. shops for about 75 British pounds--yikes--that's about $135 U.S.! I know I didn't pay nearly that much when I bought it. The design is described as a "map," and there are others: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Oslo, London. They are all extremely elaborate.

It was nice to get this out because I am taking a bit of a break from stitching Whale Hunting. Partly I was getting a bit bored (although I'm determined to finish it sooner rather than later so that I can have it framed to hang in our new house) and partly it's the demands of the season; Christmas shopping, house hunting, my neglected accounting class, resuming an exercise program. I'm determined to give myself the gift of weight-loss and physical fitness. I think from time to time of what I would regret if I were lying on my deathbed (other than all those UFOs) and I feel that although I've lived a full and rich life so far, I live too much in my head. I'd love to be fit enough to run a marathon. As an over-40 runner, I'd be considered a master, but I kind of like that title anyway. Think how many things that can apply to. Master stitcher?
We are still looking for a house but we still haven't found the perfect residence for us. We saw about eight houses this weekend. One of the houses we was a bargain-basement price because, aside from the really terrible housing market, there is a scorched-earth divorce going on and it needs to be sold. Although it's a beautiful and hardly-lived-in house, I'm uneasy. My X-DH used to say it was bad luck to buy someone else's tears.

We visited this house yesterday. Although this is an artist's rendering, we toured the model, where the sun was coming in through the large windows and bathing the bed in the wonderful master bedroom with warmth. What a fantastic place to curl up and have a nap, surrounded by cats and stitching.

November 26, 2006

Sampler Sunday: More Cranberries

With the exception of putting in a few more stitches on the large tree, this panel is done. Now the question is whether to head left or right. The "holes" in the bushes to the right of the tree are to be French knot blueberries; I am waiting until the end so they aren't damaged by the Q-snaps.

I mentioned that I collect cranberry samplers. Here's another from my collection, by the Sweetheart Tree, to be done on 32 count Cream Belfast Linen over 2 using mostly DMC and a variety of stitches. The pattern calls for lots of beads and pailletes as well, so the cranberry sampler will be glittery--always a plus. I like to have a house on all my samplers, but that won't stop me in this case from stitching this cranberry sampler.

We went back to one of the houses to look at it a second time yesterday. It's the one with the hobby room. I took a surreptitious picture of the hobby room to show you (the saleswoman was roaming around and I'm never sure how they feel about photography of the decorated models), so the color and focus are a bit off.

And the kitchen, which has a family room full of windows snugged up against it. That would be the room for stitching, in my opinion. I'm rushing a bit today, as we're heading out to look at another development and then off to the grocery store.

November 23, 2006

Poultry Seasoning and Cranberries

My mom always used this seasoning for the stuffing in the turkey, and I always have too. I used to have to buy it in New England and bring it back, but now you can get it here. Probably the seasoning inside is no different than any other, but I love the graphic, which I don't think has changed a lot.

My turkey's stuffed, trussed and in the oven. I slept late, did some stitching and looked for the Thanksgiving sampler WIP I have tucked away somewhere while BF went off to the nursing home to give his mom some sherried cream of crab soup and applesauce, things you can eat without teeth. She always knows him, but she doesn't remember a lot otherwise. She's 89 and utterly immobile. I am thankful for my wonderful guy, who has bought his mother a fruity soda and chocolate pudding she shouldn't have, and is giving her a Thanksgiving dinner, one spoonful at a time.

As a former Cape Codder, I have more than a passing acquaintance with cranberries and cranberry bogs. Oddly, I have forgotten to buy either fresh or canned berries this Thanksgiving and have been debating running across the street to the grocery store, which is likely to be chaos on this day. I remember in high school, playing hooky with my friends to go skating on the frozen bogs in the winter. In the fall the bogs are flooded to harvest the berries and protect the plants, and the water, about a foot deep, freezes to make a perfect skating rink. I collect cranberry samplers; here's one of them:

It's by the Sampler House, by Eileen Bennett and is still in print I believe. It's to be stitched in DMC on 30 count linen. There's an information box on the sampler chart that says: "Although the cranberry wasn't cultivated to any extent until the early 19th Century, the berries were among the first fruits to be canned. Back 1828, cranberry jam was processed and sold for $1.50 a can!" I did the calculation--$1.50 in 1828 would be worth $31.88 in 2005!

No stitching progress to show. I have been working on Whale Hunting, but I haven't achieved anything remarkable. More on Sunday! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!

November 19, 2006

She Seeketh Wool and Flax Worketh Willingly With her Handth: Thampler Thunday

This is the sampler for today: "She Seeketh Wool" from Purely Samplers of Homespun Elegance. It's likely a quick stitch, and it has some added interest in the form of little buttons in the tree and a blob of wool roving (sold sometimes in yarn shops, online or as doll's hair for doll crafters) for the sheep's body. The verse has me lisping though--not sure I could look at it day after day without doing the lispy thing mentally--kind of like your tongue playing with a loose or jagged tooth--so I'm setting it aside for now.

I didn't work as much as I'd have liked this week on Whale Hunting, but I did make some progress, working on house and tree details. I'm anxious to move on; with the completion of this section, the sampler will be only half done. Fortunately I have the four-day weekend coming up, and other than trying to remember not to burn the Thanksgiving meal, I have no obligations other than to stitch and stitch some more. I'd so much rather buy the meal prepared by Whole Foods to just pop in the oven, but I won't get away with that--I can't express what a dismal waste of time and energy I find cooking to be. Unfortunately, BF's mother always worked herself into a frenzy, baking multiple pies, two kinds of stuffing, and baking both a country ham AND a turkey, so BF is wistful about his mom's meal and while I'm not foolish enough to reproduce it, I at least try to make it special. (The country ham thing, by the way, is a southern thing this Yankee had to get used to. In fact, I had a BF a while back whose family slaughtered a hog the week before Thanksgiving so that we stood around elbow deep in sausage-making ingredients with a hand-crank meat grinder piloted by yours truly so that we could stuff the turkey with sausage dressing, making what came to be known in my mind as the grease bomb turkey.) Under the circumstances, although I never much appreciated my X-MIL, I still laugh when I remember the satisfaction in her voice, some time after her husband died, when she announced that the kitchen was forever more closed). Two years ago I got my wish to have Thanksgiving at a huge Dim Sum place, where they motor by with carts loaded with different tidbits: Chinese buns stuffed with barbecue, pork dumplings with garlic sauce, chicken wings stuffed with crab, pieces of duck with dipping sauce. I'm the only one who really enjoyed it, I think--everyone else thought it was weird and mourned their dried-out turkey and sticky sweet potato and marshmallow concoction. Jeez--a trip down memory lane with 2 boyfriends and an X-DH in one paragraph--quite the checkered past--hopefully you all don't think I'm a thlut. Every single one of them wanted a homemade Thanksgiving dinner, though. One of my friends is entering into her third marriage (at 60!); remind me to ask her if she served all her husbands the same meal, giving a new definition to the word "tradition." I can report that I have tried to vary mine!

And of course, as usual, we devoted some time to looking at houses yesterday. We looked at a new model home that blew us away. Among other things, it featured a fully built-out and staged "hobby room." The builder has it as an option for some ridiculous amount of money. It's a room on the lower level with built-in shelves, cabinets and a work table. The designer had placed fabric, a sewing machine and craft books around the room to suggest the happy crafter's life. I'm a sucker--I was so enthused that I didn't even remember to take a picture. It doesn't make sense, of course, because aside from the cost, what every crafter needs is abundant natural light, not an interior room by the furnace and storage rooms as if sewing, stitching and crafting were a dark and shameful secret. I think I would just seize one of the bedrooms and turn it into Stitcher Central. Still, it was a lot of fun to see it set up, and the design of the room was worth copying.

November 12, 2006

Sailing Hardships Through Broken Harbors (Sampler Sunday)

Can't you hear Neil Young's whiny, nasal voice?

Sailing hardships through broken harbors
Out in the wastes of the night.
Still the searcher must ride the dark horse
Racing along in his fright

From Harvest, I think. I was listening to it on XM Friday on my way from work, knowing that we would spend much of the weekend househunting again. Actually, I love househunting. So much fun to unearth goodies and quirks. But this was too big a quirk for me. We knew it was a distressed property, with a price to match--$50K less than the surrounding properties for sale. We pictured ruined walls or floors, perhaps some water damage, rickety decks, missing appliances, wrecked bathrooms. What we found: all those things plus a giant crack in the foundation. Not good. Former Homeowner hammered some nails into it then filled it full of bathtub caulk in a vain attempt to conceal the problem? hold it all together? It did neither. In fact, the garage had pulled away from the house, fleeing eight inches in its fright or shame, and allowing rainwater to enter the basement directly. Look--a lap pool! Then the Caulk-king wandered around the house, caulking other things: leaky faucets, loose tiles, all the grout around the kitchen sink. There's nothing much seismic in VA to cause this, so we speculate that it's maybe bad soil or an underground stream causing the house to move around.

Next property: someone bought this old tear-down and put a lovely new house in the resulting slot in the city (small photo borrowed from They lovingly hand-built the replacement and filled it full of goodies: Brazilian walnut floors, tray ceilings with hand-applied copper leaf, upgraded appliances, quartz cambria counters. We love the house, just love it. But it's no larger than our current property, even if a good bit fancier and more than twice as expensive. The house has been standing empty for a long time--maybe a low-ball offer?

So it's a relief to contemplate this: no cracks, no dripping water, no mold, no short-circuits, no grimy carpet, no financial decisions. It's by Sheepish Designs, called The Garden Path and is is meant to be worked on 32 ct Belfast Linen with DMC. Because I have six cats, I might take out the four sheep and replace them with more cats.

I stitched on Birth of Jesus this week, giving the sailors a few days off (although I've missed them--they'll be back in my bag tomorrow). I've started a sheep on the left with the furry Wisper. Funny, Carol recently reported how difficult the Wisper is to thread on a needle, and she's so right! All the little hairs point off in different directions while you're trying to thread the needle!

November 05, 2006

Sampler Sunday

This is the Sampler Sunday sampler, Christmas Village by Victoria Sampler, where I borrowed this photo. The minute I saw it last week, browsing on ABC Stitch's website, I placed an order for it. It's getting a lot of attention on the 'net on various stitching blogs, and I'm thinking it'll be a sampler "best-seller." It's designed to be stitched on 28 ct. Zweigart smoky pearl cashel linen with a variety of fibers. Obviously I'm related to a magpie in liking sparkly things; everything I've bought lately requires Kreinik, beads, pearls and silk. All this work to hang on the wall just at Christmas though? Although I have a stitchy friend who leaves her Christmas pictures up year-round. Maybe if I eliminated Santa and his sleigh? I don't think the wonderful wintery, joyful feeling of the design would suffer if he was banished.

In the meantime, I've been stitching on Whale Hunting. I had somewhat less time this week because I've been up late every night diligently cleaning/decluttering the house in order to show it to the realtor who came to assess it yesterday. He pronounced it spotless and ready to show, which would amuse anyone who's ever seen my house: I'm a clutterbug who would rather stitch or read than clean. Fortunately, he didn't open my oven to see what I had stuffed in there to get it out of view.

Yesterday was another day of house-hunting. We looked at this property which we will not purchase. It comes with a huge responsibility which I don't really want to assume: it sits on a double city lot and has a full-lot-sized garden (not shown in the photo). Because the house, built in 1919, is in the historic district, it has to be kept as is (no tearing out the garden and bricking it over for parking--not that I'd do such a thing), and frankly I'm not enough of a gardener to take that on. Because of its location, it's very much in the public eye if you fail, too. It's an interesting problem which I've read about before: there are women (and men too) who buy properties with major, serious gardens and throw themselves into the task, and the garden thrives spectacularly (I'm guessing no one writes about or photographs the ones that wither and die). What I did love about this house though is that it is the perfect "sampler" house--it looks like something that would look great stitched on a sampler, and there is ample room for hanging all of one's completed samplers on the lovely plaster walls. Also, it's just about six blocks from my LNS--clearly a dangerous location. I borrowed this photo from the multiple listing service of MRIS in the DC area, the wonderful folks who save you so much time by publishing scads of photos on the web detailing homes for sale. How did anyone manage to house-hunt before the web?

October 28, 2006

Sampler Sunday: Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter

I've been working on a house for my homesite in Whale Hunting. Wouldn't it be nice if it were as easy to put a house on a real homesite?

We've been IRL house hunting. The neighborhood we selected is not that far from where we live and still walking distance to my commuter lot. It's a pretty neighborhood of about 1000 homes with miles of paved walking trails and graceful common areas, and I've wanted to live there for years. It's about 15 years old, so it benefits from mature plantings and trees, and the houses appear to be in good shape. Except they're not, at least inside, where there's stuff falling off, falling apart, dirty, unworkable, shorted out. There are transparent attempts at concealing deficiencies and coats of paint just slapped on over the grime, and poor patch jobs. And why does it not occur to anyone that we might be opening the refrigerator, the oven, flipping the light switches, sniffing the air for signs of wet basements, mildew and mold, peering into attics and garages and cabinets? So many huge houses, and a lot of them look inside like the houses in ghost towns in the west, where some cataclysm occurred, and people moved out seemingly within minutes, leaving a half-finished meal and dishes on the table. It wouldn't be remarkable if it didn't seem to be most of them! And yet drive or walk through the neighborhood and everything looks just so: neat, manicured, landscaped, decorated, serene.

So in this soft market, we've moved on to new houses, where the builders are adding incentives by the day to move their inventory, so that new pristine houses are much less expensive than used houses. We are considering this model, where they're so far willing to throw in a free finished basement. There is 3,500 feet of space for our offices and hobbies. I'm thinking there might be room for something I've always wanted to buy--an ironing table. An ironing table is bigger than an ironing board and stays up all the time. I love to iron, and it's essential if you sew, which I want to do more of. I dislike the screechy crashing noise of putting up and taking down our present ironing board. The house is pretty, but the neighborhood is not, at least right now. It will take a number of years for there to be the plantings and trees. Developers in this area just bulldoze it all, throw up the houses and move on. I was thinking that if we buy this though, I will embroider a copy of this drawing onto the sampler hill surrounded by blueberry vines that I showed you a couple of weeks ago--the one with not enough stuff around the house. Just like in real life.

Here's the Sunday Sampler. I think the verse is a hoot: "Needles and Pins/Needles and Pins/When a Man Marries/His Troubles Begin/Needles and Pins." Sexist, but still funny, especially since it's a wedding sampler. I like the border and the animals. It's by Theron Traditions and is charted for 36 ct. linen in DMC colors. It'd be a great jokey--but still pretty--gift for the bride and groom with a sense of humor.

October 26, 2006

New Friends and Old

I took my new best friend, Bernina, for an outing yesterday. I took a getting-to-know-your-new-Bernina class at a quilt/sewing center. It's not exactly a new machine, since it's been tucked underneath my computer table for the last three years, waiting for me to get a chance to read the manual. My old machine was a used, much-loved simple Singer, so I was a bit intimidated by the new machine when I got it, even though it's pretty much the bottom of their line (quite deliberately--I sew enough to know that I don't need--could never justify--a fancier model). This model is the only mechanical one they make, and clearly the ladies at the sewing center found it kind of quaint and inferior. It was as if I'd ridden a bicyle into the local Mercedes dealership to request service. Most of the quilting center ladies, it seems, own several different models of the elaborately computerized Berninas which are capable of everything including driving the family car and running a CT scan on the brain. The computerized machines do an unlimited number of embroidery scenes--horrifyingly sterile things. And if I wanted my quilt to look store-bought, I would go to the store and buy one!

Not only that, but my mother (a couture-quality sewer who used to make our lined winter coats), could sew rings around them and their fussy machines (jeez, you look at your computer screen instead of the fabric) with an old treadle machine that had nothing but a backward and forward stitch.

I did pick up one handy hint though, even for us hand-stitchers: cut your thread at an angle, and it slides right into the needle's eye--no wetting or pinching required. I tried it, and it works!

Anyway, I'm pleased with my machine (even though it's disconcertingly quiet; I miss the thunk thunk thunk of the old Singer). I want to cut up this table cloth and stitch it into a set of curtains for my sewing/computer/fish room. My great-grandmother stitched this cloth, and whole load of others like it, several of which I have. It's not particularly delicate work, as you can see, but it's charming anyway, indelible gravy/wine stains and all. I love the idea that it will hang in my sewing room where I have my comfy stitching chair and now my new sewing machine sitting out on the table, ready to be used. Maybe after the curtains, needlework smalls!

And here's an old friend--and not a single stitch of it done by machine.

October 22, 2006

Sampler Sunday: House Hunting Edition

The first two days of vacation have gone wonderfully. We went IRL househunting today and looked at a house on a precipice. It had the best glassed-in sunroom I have ever seen and would be perfect for stitching. So who cares if you'd have to mow the lawn with a mountaineering rope tied around your waist anchored to a tree? It made me think of the Jeep? Subaru? commercial where the guy parachutes out of his house and to his waiting car.

Sampler Sunday wouldn't be complete without a sampler, though, would it? I have nothing to criticize in this one. I love it--the Plymouth Sampler--although I've seen it everywhere. I saw a stitched model done in a high threadcount in, of all places, Plymouth, at The Sampler, and I have tried test-stitching it on a couple of different fabrics to see which I'd prefer. I'm doing it over one on 38 count linen with DMC in half crosses (no room for the full cross, which makes it go a tad faster, although you have to stab rather than sew so it's probably a wash time-wise). This is fun, but only in the best light! The penny will give you an idea of the scale. My motto: why do anything the easy way and why stitch something you can actually see?

Warning: Adult Content Ahead

Because I’m a bunny mom, I’m crazy over all things rabbit and look for projects that feature them. I also like snowmen. So imagine how thrilled I was to find that Sisters and Best Friends, one of my favorite needle artist teams, who are also the designers of the Uncle Willy snowman chart that I just kitted up to stitch soon, which pictures a confused-looking snowman wrapped in Christmas lights and sporting a bright orange button nose, has designed a snowman looking at his little friend, a bunny. It’s called "Pals." This snowman isn’t sporting just a nose. He looks to be sporting a Well. The bunny is too small, and his placement in the scene is problematic.

I am imagining the conversation over in the Quality Control Department at Sisters and Best Friends Corporate HQ:
"Sister, you know that I love you, don’t you? And you’re my best friend, too, right?"
"Of course, Sis. What’s up?"
"Well, I am not sure quite how to say this, but you know that cute snowman you just designed with the bunny friend?"
"Yes, Sis. Why do you ask?"
"They’re really cute and all, Sister, but perhaps you should take a few steps back and look at the chart again?"
"Sis, I don’t have time for this. We have to get these charts to the publisher!"
"Oh, right. But maybe we should stitch him some pants?"
That said, I do like the chart and the cute button pack that comes with it. The designers really are wonderful; is it their fault I have a smutty mind?

October 19, 2006

Treasure Chest

Photo used by permission of Button & Needlework Boutique.
If I were going to own a needlework shop, this is exactly how I would want it to look. This is the Button & Needlework Boutique in Victoria, British Columbia. Isn't this inviting? I wish I had known it was there the last time I was in Vancouver! But since a five-hour flight isn't in my vacation plans next week, I called up and ordered a kit instead. It arrived promptly, sent by the nice person I spoke with on the phone.

If the B&NB is the treasure chest, here is the treasure:

This chart was designed by a Canadian designer, Bunny Tales Embroidery. (B&NB highlights Canadian designers, including Victoria Sampler and Jeannette Douglas Designs, on a portion of their website.) This particular chart, called Afternoon in the Orchard, is a recreation of a decoration from a margin in a Book of Hours. Bunny Tales has other Book of Hours needlework projects, but they are all much larger. This will not be a quick or easy stitch either, as it's full of fractional stitches, beads, Kreinik metallics, backstitching and sections of over-one. On 32 count linen, this project will be something like 3" x 26" before the framing margins. Because it uses mostly DMC flosses (about 60 colors) it will even be a fairly reasonably priced project. The beautifully executed stitching directions and symbols on five large sheets of paper look to be precise and easy to follow and hint at the glories to come. I will be kitting this up and starting it on my vacation next week, since I have the week off and have tried to keep my other obligations to a minimum. Poor BF: "Glenna, do you want to go out to lunch? How about a drive in the country? Or we could see a movie. How about a dinner at that nice place on the river?" Glenna: "No. Shut up."

And here's some more progress on Whale Hunting. Now that the ground is stitched in this section, I'm free to do ocean stitching and the big red house that sits on the hill. I'll work on that next week too. Plus Birth of Jesus. As you can imagine, I'm looking forward to this vacation hugely.