December 31, 2007

Old Year, New Starts

Lots of pictures, and more to come in the next day or two. I felt like some new starts--things have been stressful around here, and nothing calms like a fresh start, right?
This is "Peaceful Paradise," by Midsummer Night Designs. I've wanted to do lots of biblically-oriented samplers lately, and there are a few designers doing a really fine job with them.

Here's my start. I'm doing it on 40 ct Light Examplar by Lakeside Linens using Crescent Colors with a couple of required DMC skeins. There's a lot of writing in this, which gets a little tedious, but I think the results will be worth it, and the pictorial areas are gorgeous.

This is Plum Street Samplers' "Fruit of the Spirit."

Here's my start: I'm doing it also on 40 ct Light Examplar by Lakeside Linens, using NPI and two required skeins of Silk 'n Colors. I love the colors in this as well as the design.

I'm not a resolutions person, although I occasionally will set a general goal for myself. For instance, I'll try to plant the tulip bulbs I bought, since it's finally stopped raining. And the windows behind me could really use a good wash. And I should get out and go for a walk and enjoy the first sun we've seen in a while. I'm home today and tomorrow, and I really need to attend to some cleaning tasks around the house. Here's one that Pink has pointed out to me in the linen closet.

"Whew, Mom, what a mess!"


December 23, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas: A Holiday Tale

Do you hear what I hear?
So early last week, having found a little white rabbit on the website for the Frederick County Animal Shelter, we traveled 85 miles to pick up Pink. Like Elvis, Pink (who was supposedly also at least part lionhead) was a rabbit given up by a family who didn't want him. Pink was owned by people who had five dogs and "no longer had time for him." Given his age--just under a year--Pink was likely a poorly thought out Easter purchase. Poor Pink. White rabbits with pink eyes are generally adopted last. We met Pink's foster mom, Patti, who fosters a number of rabbits and who has a business taking pet photos. He was larger than I expected, easily twice Elvis' size, but she put Pink on my shoulder and I just melted. His paws were dirty and he had an ugly scab from his neutering and the not-lovely pink eyes, but he had a little mane and beard of the softest white fur and a wistful expression and no forever home if we rejected him, so we packed him up and drove back home and settled him into his new quarters in one of our two "rabbit rooms" (the master bath with a new large cage).

The next day we went to work and when I came home, I sat on the floor to clean his cage, something I'd always enjoyed doing with the Bunnyman. While I spread clean newspaper in the bottom of the Bunnyman's cage, I'd read and pet the Bunnyman, who would stretch out next to me, clicking his bunny teeth in a kind of purr that happy bunnies have. Pink wasn't purring though. As soon as I sat down and reached into his cage to clean it, this formerly docile bunny turned into a maniac, rushing at me and lunging, snapping his teeth and biting. He bit me on the hands and the arm and the leg, drawing blood and causing terrible bruising. With his red eyes he looked like a little vampire bunny.

I called Patti, shaken and crying. I needed to bring the bunny back; he wasn't working out. He hated me. Patti promised to take him and said she'd rehabilitate him; that sometimes stress turned little rabbits into bunny monsters. Perhaps, she theorized, he didn't feel well. His neutering scab didn't look right to her. And he'd lived in four places (his originaly family, the shelter, Patti's after the surgery and then our house) in just a short time. He might be scared and uncertain. I couldn't bring him right back anyway; it would have to wait two days to Saturday--the drive to Frederick is too long at night and in holiday traffic. And she told me to push his head down if he rushed at me to bite, and to blow in his face, which bunnies don't like but which is non-violent. So the next night I followed her suggestions, talking calmly to Pink, blowing a puff of air into his face when he got edgy or too close. It worked; he calmed down and began to relax. He watched me warily at first, and then he came closer, nudging me and finally creeping into my lap to have his ears rubbed and his back stroked. He did the tooth purr. I emailed Patti and said I'd keep him another week. Yesterday I told her he could stay permanently.

He's perked up. His incision has healed and the green scab has fallen off. He drank a lot of water for a while and slept deeply in his little dishpan litterbox. He ate everything brought to him and asked for more. Little by little he became less hostile, then less wary, and now he plays with his pinecones and his cardboard tubes and does little jump-and-twists called binkies.

Pink is home for Christmas.

And here's another shot of Elvis, our other Christmas bunny, who looks and acts more like a puppy than a rabbit. Elvis was neutered Friday, so he's a little subdued today; normally he tears around sniffing everything, licking your face, squirming, jumping into your arms. Tonight he's had his dinner of hay and fresh cilantro and parsley and carrots, with a tiny syringe of fruit-flavored anti-inflammatory, and he's nodding off in his little box.

Merry Christmas from our hutch to yours! Stitching pictures to come when I've had a chance to do something other than shop and cook and clean and bunny-tame.

December 16, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...


My mom loves tablecloths and old fashioned linens like table runners and napkins. So when she runs across some in a church bazaar or antique store, she sends them to me. This is a table runner which I'm embellishing with lobsters from Lobsters in the Round by hmmm. That chart is two floors up, so maybe I'll have to tell you the designer another time.

And here's a little progress on the Ark. I have made a gross error though, and I'm going to have to frog out the bottom chamber with the squirrel in it; it's one row too narrow. Argh! Don't you hate that?

Meet Elvis! I hated walking past my bunny's empty bunny room, so last week, my sister and I went to the Alexandria Animal Shelter and I adopted this little guy; they sent someone out to inspect my home today and she said I could go get him right away, so I did. He's a lionhead, which is a miniature breed of rabbit. He's young--about a year old, and we decided he should have a bunny companion, so I went online and found another lionhead at the Frederick, Maryland animal shelter. That one is white, with pink eyes. They've called him Pinky, but I'm calling him "Pink," and I can pick him up later this week. Pink looks a lot like the little white bunnies under the tree on the Christmas ornament in the 2007 Just Cross Stitch ornaments issue. Each of them is about 3-4 pounds, fully grown. This is not an especially good picture, because he was adjusting to his new home. More pictures to come!

December 09, 2007

The Bunnyman--1998-December 5, 2007

Last week I lost my dear bunny friend to cancer. He was diagnosed about 7 weeks ago, so I had some time with him before we had to have him put to sleep. Bunnyman was a throwaway bunny whose family didn't want to bother to care for him; they set him loose in the neighborhood to fend for himself. I had spotted him a few times before he showed up in my yard, where I found him contentedly munching on the seed that drifted out of my bird feeder. Bird seed was always one of his favorite snacks. So we took him in--bunnies on the loose generally meet a quick and grisly end in the talons of a hawk or the jaws of a dog--and he became our much doted-on little pet. House bunnies are wonderful pets; they can be trained to use a litter box and they're endlessly amusing when young, and quiet, peaceful and loving companions when they're old. They're subtle though, and the shelters and bunny refuges are full of unwanted and unappreciated little pets. In a few weeks, when I can do it without weeping, I will go to the Bunny Magic refuge in Maryland ( and choose two bunnies who are waiting for a home and who might otherwise go unadopted because they're white with pink eyes (an unpopular color combination) or because they're seniors or because they're missing an ear or an eye or were nearly starved to death in a backyard hutch and are shy and fearful.

In the meantime, I have kitted up Little House Needleworks' "Morning Berries" with the Crescent Colors threads. I've had this chart for a long time because I collect bunny needlework projects and now I want to stich this to memorialize the Bunnyman's too-short stay on earth. I will change the color of the bunny at the bottom of the chart to black though.

And those stitchers in my neighborhood RR (as in this picture of Carol's neighborhood) are getting a little black Just Nan bunny, who is happily passing from yard to yard, looking for dandelions. Every spring the Bunnyman and I would go into the backyard for a supervised romp and gathering of dandelions. He loved the greens, the bitter milky stems, the bright full flowers and even the seed heads.

November 27, 2007

Have you Met Mary Beale?

When I posted on Sunday, I mentioned that I made a discovery at my LNS. When I was poking around the sale charts and fabrics in In Stitches' back room, I noticed a number of completed needlework projects clipped to hangers, waiting to be framed. In Stitches has a wonderful framer, and you never have to wonder if they're going to do something freaky like glue your precious finished object! Anyway, after admiring the various works hanging there, my jaw dropped to see one of the most unbelievably complex (stitched over 1 on a fairly high count fabric) and beatiful project I've ever seen. Now, it takes a lot to knock me over like that. The framer told me it was a Mary Beale project, and although I pride myself on my in-depth knowledge of what's out there, I confess I'd never seen one of her projects. Here's the project that I saw on Sunday, and bear in mind, these pictures don't begin to do justice to the design.

The stitcher had laid her blocks out differently, running 12 over 12 horizontally on the fabric. I joked with the framer that I'd be glad to quit my job and stitch full time on it, and the framer remarked that she knew the stitcher had a full-time job and still managed to get it all done!
Mary's website is, and she sells her designs exclusively from her website. The first thing I did was purchase a small design called--darn, I don't remember exactly what it's called, but it's essentially a Boston Tea Party historical design, and the project is finished as a tea cosy! This picture is tiny--sorry. But if you go to her website, you'll be able to see in in greater detail I think. Look in the Gallery section to see some finished projects by stitchers who answer a series of questions, all of which makes for fascinating reading and viewing. Anyway, I paid for my order with paypal, and the digitized design came to my computer within about 10 seconds. I printed it off, and I can't wait to start it (I think I'll make it a Christmas weekend start). After I got my design, I contacted Mary Beale herself via email and asked to show you these pictures, copied from her website. She responded within an hour (I love it when a designer does that) and very graciously gave me permission to show her pictures.

Needless to say, I want to stitch all of her designs! I plan to purchase Days of Advent, Book of Common Prayer and I'd love to do all the historical stockings as well. My discovery of her incredible designs comes at a time when I find myself gravitating more and more to religious themes in sampler stitching. I have recently purchased most of the new Plum Street Samplers (I'll show them in another post), including the Sunday School lesson of Jonah, as well as Still Waters and Rejoice (and a couple whose names escape me now). And interestingly, my own Book of Common Prayer is an illuminated edition; I've always thought it a shame that someone didn't make a sampler out of those illuminations.
In the meantime, The Ark is coming along--it's an extremely quick stitch. Of course it helped to have another day of jury duty where I showed up at court only to be paid $30 (I guess we know what I'll do with that) and then sent away when the lawyers for the defendant plea bargained their client out of having to face a jury. So today I stitched, put some Christmas lights up outside and even made dinner!

November 25, 2007

Be Ye Thankful

It was a quiet Thanksgiving--just the two of us. It gave us a chance to experiment with the menu, sleep late and spend some relaxing time in the house pursuing hobbies. My favorite kind of holiday. We did some non-mall Christmas shopping, and I drove up to Alexandria for In Stitches' blow-out Thanksgiving sale. For those of you who live in the No.Va. area or maybe even a state or two away, I promise it's worth coming to the post-Christmas/New Year's and Super Bowl sales. I'll let you know about dates when I hear, and you can also go to In Stitches' website to sign up for their newsletter ( I bought a Moira Blackburn chart for 75% off, stocked up on various kinds of floss to kit out some projects (20% off, which adds up when you're buying the various kinds of silk), and 1/2 off many pre-cut fabrics (although there were no large cuts left when I got there on the second day of the sale). I bought some gorgeous smaller linen pieces for $4 or $5 apiece. The rest of the charts were 20% off also. Pictures of some of my stash in another post along with a discovery I have made and some progress on my various Christmas projects--it's too much to stuff into today's entry.

I bought this little chart: "The Ark" by La-D-Da. I love Noah's Ark samplers, and I've collected several. The fabric is 40 ct RR in Dark Cappuchino, and the fiber is Needlepoint Inc. Silks.

The black and cream design was a nice change from the pink/green/red/white of the Gingerbread House sampler.

This is the Bunnyman, who says he looks like the little silhouette bunny on the chart.

November 18, 2007


An unsettling event: on my way back from an accounting class yesterday morning, I had a tire blow-out at 75 mph on Interstate 95. I made it to the shoulder fine (wondering what the roaring sound and shimmy was until I got out to look), dialed up AAA, which responded with a nice tow truck driver within 30 minutes--apparently breaking down on a major interstate is considered a priority. I've doubted in the past whether it makes sense to pay money every year to AAA since I had previously only used them once, when my tire went flat in my driveway, which hardly seemed much of an emergency (I know how to change a tire, something my dad insisted on all those years ago when I got my license, as he said that sometimes there's no one to depend on but yourself. He's right about that, of course, and I've found that to be true about more than just tires. Nevertheless, I'll call someone to come do it when I can, as wrestling with the jack and the tire iron are just not something I enjoy.) I consider myself lucky: I had my phone with me, and it was actually charged. Although it was cold, it wasn't raining. The donut tire in the trunk was actually inflated. After rummaging through my trunk we were actually able to locate the lugnut unlocker (apparently my wheels are locked to the car so that they can't be stolen). Had I ever noticed that unlocker in the trunk, I might have thrown it out, thinking it was a piece of chrome junk--good thing I'm not that tidy. And last, I got lucky because the tire store had just one last tire of the size my car needs. My only misfortune, other than the cost of the new tire, is that I didn't have my needlework with me. BF makes fun of me for toting it everywhere, even when I drive 10 miles away to do errands. I always tell him that in the heavy and unpredictable No. Va. traffic, you never know when you'll be stuck behind a hazardous material spill or major accident for four or five hours, and why waste all that stitching time?

I worked on several projects this week and don't have a lot of progress to show on those, but I'm coming down the home stretch on Carol's Neighborhood RR. I have some landscaping to do on this, some flowers to plan perhaps, and some critters to stitch, and then I'll be able to send it along to Wendy in Canada. I'm enjoying stitching this so much! It's Thistle House by Ewe & Eye and Friends, but I've fiddled with the colors so they would show up well on the fabric that Carol chose.

And I got a framing job back and dropped another one off. This is probably called something like Cats or Cat Alphabet, and it's by the Drawn Thread. I stitched it about six years ago while on a nice long relaxing vacation to Vancouver, BC and Tofino on Vancouver Island. It's been sitting in a drawer with a little stack of other finishes, so I thought I'd finally frame and hang it. Taking a long break like that made it feel fresh again--sometimes by the time I've finished stitching a design, I'm a little tired of it.

I'll be posting on the Hello Neighbor RR site with Carol's picture and with a picture of Karen's RR that I received from Leslie on Friday. And maybe a midweek post on some of the other stuff I'm working on. I dropped by my LNS yesterday and picked up a couple of project bags and some floss, and I've fallen in love with another chart by Plum Street Samplers (Plum Street Designs?), I think. It's a very pretty Christmas piece and is a nice companion to the two other Plum Street designs I've purchased recently (both of them biblically oriented, full of beautiful silk threads and just so pleasing to look at). I'll buy it when I get over the wallet whiplash from purchasing a big fat $250 tire! Oh! and speaking of big ticket items, my LNS told me that Silk 'n Colors, which are now selling for about $5 apiece, are going to jump to about $7, so if you like stitching with them, now's the time to stock up, before the price changes go in.

November 11, 2007

Little Winter Sunday Samplers

I like the little winter samplers and ornaments so much. I'm not sure if I've shown you this before, but here's one of my favorites from my stash: Snowkin' Uncle Willy by Sisters and Best Friends. The chart came with a cute carrot button for the nose. I figure this is a one-weekend project. I've kitted it up and am waiting for the first hint of snow on a weekend to start.

I bought this on ebay recently. It's vintage (1998) and is by Homespun Elegance. It can be stitched as a little picture or as a Christmas Ornament. The chart came with a thick length of twine to stitch onto the ornament as decoration and as a hanger, and a little pineapple charm (I think it's a pineapple) for the front door.

And here's some progress on Gingerbread Cottage. I love the little cupcake, don't you?

November 07, 2007

The Jury's Out

So today I was called upon to do jury duty in my county's general district court. We check a call-in line the night before, and my panel was called for today, so I let the folks at work know and packed my trusty bag with two needlework projects, two books and change for the Coke machine. God forbid I should be bored or uncaffeinated. I had to leave the scissors at home, since they wouldn't have passed through the metal detector, but I packed a retractable seam ripper (probably in itself a weapon but it wasn't specifically excluded) since as usual, I can't find either of my clovers. I've done jury duty before in this county, and it can be grueling and unpleasant. The docket is crowded in our booming county, and trials can run to midnight or more. Another gentleman and I actually had to argue with a couple of people on a past jury that simply not liking the accused or his lifestyle was not enough reason to convict. Plus for me, jury duty is unpleasantly like work, even though I work in the transactional end of law rather than in litigation.

After checking in and receiving our jury numbers and our $30 in cash, we waited around until we were sent home, as there were many more of us than were needed to fill the jury box for the two trials, as during the voir dire, apparently no one was dismissed. So that left me free at 11:30 to go spend my $30, which Big Law does not demand we turn over to them. And you know what I spent it on, I'll bet: Country Cottage Needleworks' Gingerbread Cottage.

Tomorrow I've been called to serve again. I am hoping for the same result.

I had a chance to start it this afternoon:

And I worked a bit more on the Christmas Cardinal ornament:

I'm enjoying the cardinal theme a lot, so I bought another one. This is by Imaginatings. I'd love to finish these three projects in time to have them framed for Christmas. But you know, the jury's out on that....

November 04, 2007

Sunday Sampler--Mini

I made some progress this week on the cardinal Christmas ornament. Here it is on Friday:

And today:

This little guy was a Prairie Schooler freebie at my LNS--he's on a little card about the size of a business card--so clever (chart on the reverse side):

I went into our little library to take these photographs, since the sun was on that side of the house. This room amuses the heck out of me. With six cats in the house, there's very little that doesn't receive a regular dusting of cat hair, despite a virtual army of vacuums. You name it, we have it: uprights, canisters, little ones, big ones, bagless, beltless, European, American (the Germans make a heck of a vacuum, in my opinion). But even with regular vacuuming and brushing, it's hard to keep up. So we have this one room, with a door that closes, but with glass panes. It's so satisfying to go into that room and shut the door. Within minutes, a crowd gathers. Here are three of them now (payback time for whoever threw up on the stairs last night):

"Aren't you going to come out and feed me?"

October 29, 2007

New Seasonal Projects

I have picked up a few seasonal projects during my latest LNS expeditions. This is "Winter Cardinal," by Something in Common. It's a small (but beautifully charted and photographed) project, and I'm happy to note that it has a correspondingly small price--$4.00 (and has it on sale for $3.60). It'd be a perfect Christmas ornament.

This is "Shades of Brown" by Prairie Grove Peddler. It looks like a fairly quick stitch. It calls for 28 count Country Wheaten Linen, one skein of Crescent colors, and some DMC.

Another wintery/Christmas-y item: Ice Boating by Stoney Creek. I picked it up on ebay. I'm a nut for folk art, and this appealed to me, especially because of the dark sky and stars (or are they snowflakes?). It reminds me of my childhood home in Vermont. We lived in a big white clapboard house a block from a picture-perfect village green. Across the street was a baseball field/park which the fire department used to hose down with water so that there was a perfect skating rink which was then totally safe for even little children to skate on alone--when I was five, I had double-runner ice skates, and I'd chop around on them. When I got worn out, Mom and Dad would load me and my little sister on the sled and they'd skate along, drawing the sled. Afterwards, there would be hot drinks around the bonfire that someone built on the edge of the "rink."

Since I'm walking down Memory Lane, here's a real estate picture for a house currently for sale on the street where we lived (I don't think it was our house; I'll have to ask my parents what our street number was, but the style and size are similar). We rented the upstairs portion, and another family rented downstairs. I'll note that this particular house is listed for $399,900--an unbelievable price to me, as $500K in this area buys you a two-bedroom, 1200 square foot condominium in Arlington. Of course, that's apples to oranges, but if I could find a job in Vermont(there's the rub), I'd go back there in a minute, even if I had to roll my stuff up the interstate in a wheelbarrow, which, given the cost of maintaining one of these things, would be about all I could afford for transportation. I'm not a romantic particularly, and I'm remember the long, bleak winters and the problems of heating these old heaps, but I've grown weary of Metropolitan DC in a lot of ways.

Aaaand here's some progress on Whale Hunting. Actually, I have been stitching quite a lot, what with Whale Hunting, the Cross Eyed Cricket summer sampler, and Carol's Neighborhood RR. I'm sort of in one of those good stitching grooves these days. Edited twice: once, to add the Vermont picture, and the second time to comment--gee, the Vermont house would be right at home in the Whale Hunting scene, wouldn't it? Probably not a coincidence--I'm sure our childhood homes inform our taste and preference (and might explain my recent infatuation with 50s-era furniture).

October 07, 2007

Sunday Samplers

I didn't have school yesterday, although I do have a take-home midterm, so we headed north to the thick of Northern Virginia for a little stash building expedition and to go out to lunch at a decent Chinese restaurant (something sadly lacking in our area, although for whatever reason, we have about 4 good Thai places). I hadn't been to In Stitches in Alexandria for several months, and I was mindful of all that inventory going unexamined and unpurchased by me. I always see great stuff there that I haven't even seen on the net, which is remarkable, considering how much time I spend online trolling the needlework sites. In fact, these days I feel a little jaded, don't you? Ho hum, another XYZ Sampler. Seen that. Oh, gee, another [name a designer]--a variation on the last 18 she's done. I particularly like In Stitches' deep selection, especially remarkable considering it's also a fabulous framer and a purveyor of knitting yarns and needlepoint canvases. But lookie here--something I hadn't run into in my travels online or IRL:
This is Janet Gibson's Scottish Swan Sampler, a historic reproduction sampler by Hope's Dwelling Place by Whimsey & Wit.

And this is Colonial Seasons by Tristan Brooks Designs ( I'm thinking of stitching all four designs on a single panel, although they're designed to be ornaments.

[edited later to add that both are available online--for whatever reason, I haven't seen them, perhaps because their designers haven't been hugely prolific so that their designs haven't saturated the market? In any case, you can get Colonia Seasons from Criss Cross Row's site, and the Scottish Swan Sampler from Homespunsamplar's website]
I bought some other things too, which I'll show you later. And by the way, if you are a fan of Au Fils Des Reves' little French designs, snap up whatever kit or chart you might see; they have ceased business. I don't imagine those charts will fetch on ebay what the Goode Huswife's old charts do since they're less well known, but it's a shame to see them pass out of existence. Their things are sweet and quintessentially French.
And here's a little tease for Carol--remember you said in your RR instructions that you'd like to get a peek at your RR from time to time? LOL--it's sitting there next to the only cat in the house who's too lazy to get up and go lie on it, by the way, although you can be sure that after taking this picture from the catwalk, I ran back downstairs and put it safely away again. I found just the chart for its newest block at In Stitches, and I'll be showing further hints as I go.

I spent some time today stitching on Summer Something-or-Other, which is appropriate, since today it was 90 degrees.

The Chinese food was great, by the way: fresh Chinese leek dumplings, pickled cabbage and sauteed shrimp for appetizers, and then Peking duck for two. There's a new Afghan restaurant in 7 Corners that we'll try next time--which will necessitate another stop at In Stitches, I'd say.

September 30, 2007

Almost Done

Here's the Neighborhood RR as it was earlier today. I have just a few finishing touches, and some bargello lawn yet to do before it's off to Wendy's house for the next block. This has been such fun to do that I'm almost reluctant to have it go!
Happy first week of October, all!

September 23, 2007


This is the last day of my vacation, and yesterday was the first day of autumn (even if it is still in the 80s). Figure I'd find the perfect summer vacation sampler. This is by Cross Eyed Cricket. I've recently bought the CEC Halloween sampler, Sleepy Hollow, and will probably wait until spring to stitch that. I will be headed for Cape Cod sometime next month, but by the time I get there, the summer cottages will be boarded up, there will be a chilly breeze and the water will be gray, most likely.

This is the fabric for the sheers I've been working on; I suspect I will not finish them during this vacation. Lack of focus. Note that I did not embroider all the little aqua leaves; that would be masochistic. Maybe in my next life.

I did focus on the Neighborhood RR though. Most of this progress occurred during this week, when I was supposed to be sewing curtains. I find I get a lot done if I bump one project with another.