September 30, 2006

In the Red: Christmas Sampler and New Stash

I've been doing lots of stitching in the last few days, not concentrating on any one project though. The Plum Pudding Needleart Christmas sampler is progressing; I should be able to finish it this week. A celebrity stopped by to view it and to graciously overlook my re-naming of her design: Barbara, the designer of this very sampler! I'm so tickled that she got to see it in progress! She's starting a blog herself--visit her at Plum Pudding Needleart and Crafts.

I stopped by my LNS, Everything Cross Stitch, because the wonderful Celeste had ordered some Needlepoint Silks for another project I'm working on, Aesop's Fables-- one which, sadly, I have a major frogging to complete. Having the silks has reawakened my interest in it, so I'll have to finish frogging and restart it. So discouraging when you mess up the very first square you work on! While I was at the LNS, this project caught my eye. Hopefully I can get it done by Christmas--although I probably will, since it knocked down all my other Christmas projects a notch the moment I saw it. It's "Birth of Jesus" by The Stitching Parlor, and it involves the most fun stuff: Needlepoint Silks, my favorite fiber, Wisper, the mohairy-type thread that fuzzes up (for the sheep), a scattering of 30 By Jupiter brass stars in the trees, and finally, a Mill Hill gold star button. It's an appealing design but not too large to reasonably finish, I think.

I had also brought this chart along from my stash and purchased the Gentle Art Sampler Threads to complete Uncle Willy. He looks like a really quick stitch, although, oh-my-gosh, I pulled the instructions out of the bag to take them to the shop, and now I can't find the bag with Willy's orange "carrot" button nose in it! Yikes--off I go to find it--hopefully one of the cats hasn't eaten Uncle Willy's nose!

September 24, 2006

Good Will Towing

"This is where Grandma was gathering berries last summer when the grizzly bear got her."

I went back to TJ Maxx yesterday and purchased these Spode plates after doing my Internet research to determine that yes, indeed, they were a bargain at $7 apiece. Now, I'm not a Christmas decorator to speak of, as I've said. Most years we're lucky to get the tree up straight and hang the wreath on the door before the stuff on it dries out and falls off. And the only festoons are generally cobwebs. But we're staying home this year (we spend most years hurrying hither and yon to everyone else's house), and I want to at least make an effort since we'll be in our own house more than five minutes.

Here's the progress on Good Will Towing, as I now think of it. I had the worst urge to stitch that when I got to the bottom and see if anyone noticed, but figured it was too much work for a practical joke. If I had a towing company, that's what I'd call it. That's not a stain on the fabric--it's a shadow from the lamp.

And speaking of bargains, I used my "50% off one regular priced item" coupon at Michaels and bought the fabric pictured here, 1/2 off the regular $15 price. It's Zweigart 32 Count Belfast Raw Linen (18" x 27"), and it will work well on several smallish projects I have planned, including "White Christmas" by Ewe & Eye & Friends, which I might start as my next thrifty Christmas project, since I already have the white silk (Thread Gatherer Silk n Colors). I have a love/hate relationship with Michaels, and I normally let the coupons expire, but I notice they must have a new buyer in the needlework section back in Corporate HQ. There are lots of nice embroidery scissors and other implements, Mill Hill Beads, Balger blending filaments, a few fabrics other than Aida and what look like fuller racks of DMC and different brands of notions than they've had in the past. While they are no threat to my LNS, it's been fun to explore the aisles again and I actually could have used the coupon on three or four different items that I spotted including some new books on knitting and decorating. In fact, the store seemed stuffed full of things when I was there, although no doubt it's because of the upcoming holidays. In today's paper there was another coupon, for 40% off a regular priced item, which I'll use this week. And good prices on framing too. I won't let them frame my needlework though, because I've heard horror stories about framers unaccustomed to dealing with needlework. Have any of you used them for framing something you've stitched?

September 21, 2006

Toxic Torts

Big Law is experiencing a little plague. Most of us are sick with a juicy cold which I have been coming down with for the last couple of days. Yesterday I reached for my box of soft Kleenex. Big Law provides the scratchy grayish kind in narrow, stingy boxes, so I treat myself to big boxes of the premium kind. When I reached for my box of Kleenex, it was empty. It made me rather cross, as I had just bought it, and there wasn't a single sheet left. Someone stole a whole clump of my private, personal Kleenex! All at once! I wonder if it's the same person who regularly helps him/herself to my skim milk which I buy to go with the oatmeal I get at the cafe downstairs. Someone isn't stealing just a bit for their coffee--skim milk doesn't whiten well and it's disappearing half a 16-oz. carton at a time, and Big Law provides enough (free) Mini Moos on any given day to fill a bath tub. Obviously the milk thief is calorie and/or cholesterol conscious. What makes me shudder is the possibility that he/she is lifting my carton to his/her thieving lips. Next time I will buy pink Kleenex and then patrol the floor to see who has pink wads of tissue in their wastebasket. The milk might be harder to trace.

So I took the day off today (because of the cold, not because of the outrage), and in between blowing my nose into large amounts of Unfilched Kleenex and sleeping the sleep of the antihistamined, I've been stitching on this:

September 19, 2006

Tiny Sampler and More Whale Hunting

Here's some stash that came in the mail on Saturday from The Sampler in Plymouth. It's supposedly a mini needlepoint sampler, but I'd describe it as petit point, although technically that may not be correct. In any case, it's tiny, measuring just 1 1/2 by 2 inches. I've taken out the silk gauze and placed a penny on it for scale. Silk gauze has an interesting texture like fine, strong net and is not as flimsy as I anticipated. I may stitch it in hand, although the pattern gives time-consuming directions for sewing it to a piece of cloth, stretching the cloth in the normal way on a Q snap or hoop and then cutting away the cloth behind the silk gauze. Yikes--I'm way too impatient for that--only as a last resort. I think I'd buy a larger piece of silk gauze and stretch it directly first if hand-stitching doesn't work. Oddly, silk gauze is relatively inexpensive--that piece purchased alone would be about 75 cents. I would never have bought the kit based on the package picture; I don't think it looks that striking. But I saw it IRL framed with a lot of other mini samplers by Threads Through Time at The Sampler, and it blew me away. So tiny, so intense, mounted in its tiny frame. An eensy work of art. Probably perfect over the mantel of a dollhouse fireplace if I went for such things.
One drawback to it, of course, the very helpful woman at The Sampler warned me, was the near impossibility of frogging out the stitches if you make a mistake!

This picture's a bit bleached-out because of the flash, but here's a progress pic of Whale Hunting. I looked back through my posts and realized that I have been working on this less than a month, and I have most of a set of three vertical charts done and can then move left or right and do another column. Three charts is roughly 1/4 of the design, since it's comprised of 12 charts, so I feel happy with my progress.

September 17, 2006

Red Work

I started the Plum Pudding Christmas Sampler in Red. Although it called for Aida (tea-dyed if you wanted, with instructions), I am using 38 ct Italian linen in cream and instead of the recommended Gentle Art cranberry, I am using Needlepoint Silks in one of the burgundy shades (I threw away the wrapper, so I'm not sure which one). Because I had the linen in my stash and the sampler only required one skein, it's a very thrifty project. Since one thing leads to another--isn't that always the way?--I found myself wandering the Christmas aisles in TJ Maxx (I went for inexpensive towels to take to the gym--yet another way that one thing leads to another. My office building has a free gym, and I never use it, but starting this week, I think I will, especially since I did my maiden-voyage walk in the new shoes this morning). Anyway, I love TJ Maxx for unexpected bargains and finds in their housewares/linens department. I found red transferware plates and bowls for about $7 apiece. Very Christmasy, especially considering my sampler work today. I didn't get them but think I will go back and pick them up later in the week. They had lots of fun Halloween and Thanksgiving stuff too. And I looked for a long time at ornaments and garlands and interesting artificial wreaths with fake fruit as big as a cat's head on them. Think I'll get one of those too. I can't tell you how out-of-character this behavior is. And all because of a Christmas Sampler!

And here's some more red work that I accomplished this afternoon.

September 16, 2006

A-Shopping We Will Go

I'm not a huge shopper, except of certain things. I avoid malls, and I dislike department stores. I hate trying clothes on. But I love the stash-trip, as you know, and also I love, love, love athletic shoes. So I went to Everything Cross Stitch, my LNS in Fredericksburg, and the lovely ladies there helped me kit up Victoria Sampler White Christmas and this Plum Pudding sampler that I spotted. I'm in the mood for a Christmas sampler--never mind the continuing 80-degree-plus temperatures forecasted for this coming week--and if I'm going to get something done in time to hang by THIS holiday, I'd better get started:

Then it was on to Virginia Runner where they have my foot measurements (8.5), arch (low) and stride (overpronater) in the computer and produced a comfy pair of trail-runners and a pair of street-runners. I should mention that I'm not a runner but a walker, but prefer the softness of the running shoes. I need to get walking again and lose some weight and perhaps even take the quilt and the shirts needing ironing off the treadmill. I had to have the Nalgene bottle of course (I hope they gave it to you free, said the BF, eyeing my purchases. Nope--bought it.) There's something about new running shoes that makes me think of training to run a marathon... Fortunately, they're also great commuting shoes.
Back tomorrow to display progress on Whale Hunting and maybe a Christmas start.

September 14, 2006

Rolling Along

I'm still enjoying Whale Hunting, and it's amazing how clear the action of the little whale hunters is, even though neither one of them has a "stitch" on--LOL. I haven't had as much time to stitch this week between the longer commute, the dark mornings (we've had rain all week) and the accounting homework. I'm looking forward to doing a bit more this weekend, and since I have to pick up some fibers I've ordered at the LNS, there's no telling what kind of mischief I'll get up to.
Speaking of mischief, this is some more of the stash that I got in Plymouth, which I think I'll kit up this weekend. So many of the samplers at The Sampler were done on high thread count fabrics, and I really liked the delicate, oh-so-precise look, so I'm thinking 40 ct or higher for this one. And athough it's charted for DMC, maybe I'll try to do a conversion for Needlepoint Silks. It's from Little House Needleworks.

So, in regard to the black pants: I decided to do a little online shopping today, thinking that what I need is some nice restrained plaid or perhaps a birds-eye tweed. And I found these:

Who dresses like this? I'd have to lose a good many pounds and years, and gain about six inches in height. And learn to walk in really high heels, which I never have managed. But I did find a nice conservative pair of dark-green tweed pants. They'll look good with the soft yellow sweater I'm knitting, so I'd better get going on it. Unfortunately I don't like to knit in the summer, so I haven't gotten anything done on it since early spring, or the pink one I started last year either.

September 10, 2006

Black Monday

I actually had a cheerier, more straightforward (less whiney) entry planned (and executed earlier) today, showing just my progress on Whale Hunting. But I'm bummed about going back to work, and it all crystalized when I was going through my closet to check my wardrobe's readiness for the week ahead. The fact is, all those black pants hanging in a nice neat row depressed the heck out of me. They're perfectly nice pants, and are made of a variety of fabrics and in different styles: crepe, or with a slight stretch, with pockets or without, small pleats or gentle drape, slightly flared or stick-straight, cuffed or plain. I wear them with silk short-sleeve sweaters in the summer, long sleeves in the winter, and throw on one of the jackets I keep in my closet at work when clients are afoot. All of Washington dresses in black it seems, particularly in white shoe law firms, and it makes sense. But I'm tired of black, tired of my job and mostly, tired of DC.

There are only two things to be done short term (longer term is the accounting degree I'm working on and some chats with BF about finding some other part of the country to live and work): eat some licorice piglets (I bought them for my rabbit really, but he prefers Good n Plenties for some reason) and stitch the evening away.

Anyway, here's Whale Hunting. Spending time around some of Massachusetts' seaports (Fairhaven, New Bedford, Plymouth) this week fed my enthusiasm for this design even more, and I got a decent amount done while I was away but almost nothing on my other projects. I'm enjoying it so much, though, that I don't think I'll pick up any of my other loose "rotation" for a bit, so I hope this isn't too boring.

September 08, 2006

Plymouth Rocks

Got home today after a 13-hour drive. Normally it takes about 10, but I veered off into Pennsylvania after spending an hour idling on the Cross Bronx Expressway and noticing how traffic was building rather than thinning out as I got farther south in NJ. I took the "leisurely" route, and was going to stop at That Pet Place in Lancaster, PA, but a sudden thunderstorm convinced me to motor on--good thing since I'd misjudged the extra time involved in passing through all those little picturesque towns.

I won't bore you with all the stuff we did and saw, but thought that those of you who live in New England might want to pay a visit to the Sampler in Plymouth if you ever get a chance (Hi, Mom--that's Mom keeping an eye on things). It's a lovely store on Court Street, stocked with a very thoughtful selection of different kinds of samplers. I bought a few charts, including two shown here and some others, and ordered some they were out of ("Plymouth," for one), including the most amazing little (measuring maybe 2 inches by 2 inches) sampler called "Mermaid" to be done on 40 count silk gauze. I especially loved this shop because I'm finding that I'm a sampler purist at heart.

Stash: the larger one is by The Sampler Company and is called the "Church on the Hill Sampler." The smaller one is called "Dear Diary," although I'll call it just "Boston," and is a Little House Needleworks design.
After a fabulous seafood lunch (baked scrod) at the East Bay Grill just a couple of blocks away, we explored the waterfront nearby (Hi, Sis!) Okay, I'm a New Englander, born and bred, but what the heck IS a scrod, anyway?

I was disappointed by the Brimfield Antiques show in one respect. There were literally acres of vendors--and too much stuff even to contemplate in just a day. I felt like we just took a little bite but I felt as if I were running from table to table, searching. I'd scan quickly and then run to the next one--NOT the best way to spot that treasure. Next year I'll come back on the day they do the textile show. I did see some lovely embroidered pieces and gorgeous linens offered by a couple of vendors, but they were way out of my price range (I saw an amazing hand-stitched table cloth that I'd like to have bought and made into curtains for my sewing/craft/computer room, but for $400, I wasn't going to take the scissors to it, so I passed.) I found a couple of old samplers, but they were in pretty bad condition and not particularly attractive either, so I came home empty-handed.
I stitched lots on Whale Hunting and will show pictures later this weekend. I'm happy to be home and looking forward to catching up with everyone's blogs.

September 02, 2006

Beach Bound--Or Not (The Best Laid Plans)

This is a very old UFO, although it's still in print. It's a Thea Gouverneur kit called "Seascape," and it's done with DMC (I think) over 2 on 30 ct linen of some sort. I've had it forever and the confetti stitching drove me batty, so I put it away. Maybe I'm ready to start it again...or not, since I got some stash at the LNS in Alexandria and in the mail today.

I was supposed to go to Cape Cod tomorrow or Monday, depending on the weather, which at least here in VA is now sunny and clear, washed thoroughly by Ernesto, who knocked out our power a half-dozen times and threw leaves all over everything and rained our cherry tomatoes to the ground but didn't cause any real damage locally. But now I have a cold I think, so I'm going to let my mom decide if my germy self should even cross the Cape Cod Canal and infect everyone within 100 miles. My parents are in their mid- to late-70s, so particularly for my dad, who's 79 and prone to URIs anyway, it's a consideration. Bummer, because I was particularly looking forward to going to the Brimfield antique show, which is an enormous batch of antique dealers stretched along a mile's worth of sites along the highway in Brimfield, Mass. It's held three times a year, and if you're ever in the area, you should attend. Of special note is the antique textiles show on the Monday before it opens (Labor day for this fall show), which features everything from dresser scarves and monogrammed table cloths to samplers. I hadn't planned to attend that this year because of my schedule, but I was going to check out the rest of the show.

If I stay home entirely or go later in the week though, there's always stitching and napping in the company of BF and the kitties and the bunny, so all is not lost. And in case I get bored with my current WIPs, I received some stash in the mail today from SBB: Sheepish Designs "The Grass is Greener," Sheepish Designs "Meg's Bunny," and The Victoria Sampler "White Christmas" and its embellishment pack. From In Stitches, my LNS in Alexandria, where I drove through a horrendous traffic jam to pick up some fibers they had ordered and held for me for an embarrassingly long amount of time, I bought a sweet litte Ewe & Eye & Friends sampler called "White Christmas," which they had a wonderful stitched model of on the wall. The two White Christmases I got today couldn't be more different, and I love them both, since neither one of them looks particularly Christmasy in the traditional sense. It's unusual for me to do Christmas projects because in general I'm not fond of the holiday and the junk that goes with it, but I'm making an exception here--LOL. In fact, I bought three other Christmas projects this year, none of which I've started yet. They may go in the basket with last year's Christmas ornament issue of JCS--the whole thing makes me queasy and I'm giving this this year's issue a pass.

So I'll be typing to you again in a week or so if I go, or in a day or so if I don't. Happy Labor Day to you all.