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?