January 28, 2007

More Projects than Brains or Time: Sampler Sunday

Am I the only one stressed because I have too many projects? I'll bet not. I was busy planning projects and gathering materials this week. Here are a few of them: First, a little progress on By the Bay Needleart's "Meadow Hills." It's a fun stitch, and a perfect size to pick up and put down when you've got a lot going on.

I spent some time stitching on "Whale Hunting," "Plymouth Sampler" and "Glorious Fruit" as well, but didn't take pictures, because it was a corner here, a few lines there, or part of a large section, none of which really looked like progress. Here's something I ran onto on the web and thought it was so cute that I ordered it. It's called "Cupcakes with Sprinkles," by Just Desserts. The pattern is for making different flavors of "cupcakes" with wool felt and beads. I ordered the wool felt online as well; hopefully it will arrive soon. Not that I really need a felt cupcake, but it's so cute! The same company offers patterns for faux cake slices, eclairs and doughnuts as well. Maybe I'll quit my job and do them all--shrieks of crazy laughter....

I'm accumulating fabrics. I've been to G Street Fabrics (if you sew and you live in or near the DC metro area, be sure to check them out) and bought large remnants from their home dec. department. I've purchased some designer fabrics from ebay, and I bought a bolt end of the glimmering bronze semi-sheer fabric from Calico Corners. My plan is to sew a lot of the drapes and curtains for the many windows in my new house. Thank goodness my mom taught me to sew! Custom window treatments cost the earth, and ready-made are almost uniformly cheesey (have you seen what Bed, Bath and Beyond sells for a ridiculous amount of money?). I've got half a dozen patterns and several books on window treatments, but I'm still looking for that perfect set of instructions to guide me through the process (these are not my first window treatments, but I want them to look really professional). I'll make my practice lined drapes on the bolt ends and remnants, and I'm haunting ebay for just the right reduced designer fabrics. I have a particular hankering for Scalamandre, Brunshwig & Fils and other normally out-of-reach decorator fabrics. I did snag nine yards of a P. Kaufman fabric (not pictured) of hot air balloons. Normally fabric like that is priced at over $20 per yard, but I got all nine yards for less than $45 total. The green fabric at the bottom of the picture is a Waverly Fabric that I got for $20 for 4 yards--it'll be enough to make pretty set of valances.

And here's the sampler of the week, "Lemon Tree Sampler" by Praiseworthy Stitches. This is one of these designs that I might have overlooked had my LNS not had a stitched model of it on their wall. I love yellow, so this will definitely be making an appearance one of these days.

Plans for Superbowl Sunday next week (2/4). If you aren't into football and you live in N. Va, it might be worth it to drive to Fredericksburg and check out the sale at Everything Cross Stitch--everything but a few flosses (Anchor, DMC and a couple others) will be 20% off. I'll be headed down there to stock up on project bags, fabrics and maybe even another sampler or two....

January 25, 2007

Five Servings a Day

It's so cold and bleak outside, that I reached this week for a nice warm-looking project, the Vermillion Stitchery's Glorious Fruit.

This is the little guy that we rescued from the backyard. Like the rest of our six, he was unwanted by someone, and in this transient area, probably left behind in a move. He got into a fight with another stray and wound up with a serious eye infection, so off he went to the vet and then to a pet ophthalmologist (something I didn't even know existed). She fixed him up, and his peepers, as you can see here, are just fine now. It's bad and good when bad things like that happen in our back yard; there's the worry and expense of course, but the good is that when we've spent the money on them, and they've become de-flea'ed and dewormed and used to a nice indoor cage at the vet while they heal and are de-crittered which seems to civilize them, BF allows them to retire inside the house. So here's Scratchy, the sweetest of our six. His favorite thing in the world is to sit on a willing lap, which is just about perfect in this weather.

January 20, 2007

Sampler Sunday: Buried in the Snow

We're not buried in the snow and in fact, we haven't seen a single flake of it this year, unlike a lot of you; the little tree in "Season's Greetings" is getting covered though. What a great snow effect from using just two colors of floss!

My poor computer has something stuck in its craw, so after it crumped on me, off to the shop it went. I'm using BF's, but he has dial-up and wasn't eager for me to configure it for DSL, so one or two pictures is about all I can manage for today. That's a shame, because I spent a lot of time on Meadow Hills this week also and have some progress to show. When the computer's recovered--hopefully later in the week--I'll post again--I have no patience with the dial-up after using DSL at home and T-1 at work.

I'm enjoying the smaller "distraction" samplers, so here's another. It's called "Gone Fishing," and it's by Sheepish Designs. It's to be stitched on 35 ct Light Expresso from R&R Reproductions using DMC floss. It looks like a cute, fun stitch.

I'm cranking up the home decorating thing, and I'm off to research an interesting stencil company I saw mentioned in the February 2007 House Beautiful. The site is www.stencil-library.com. The picture featured in the magazine was an amazing 8x3 foot stencil of chinoiserie. Of course, it's a whopping $550, but I thought I'd check and see what else they might have--if I don't fall asleep waiting for it to load! (Edited to add--ok, I've been there, and it's a mind-boggling site. I can't imagine how much time it would take to do one of these huge stencils in all the colors, but you'd have a work of art when you were done...)

See you later in the week, hopefully!

January 14, 2007

"Winter" Sampler Sunday

It was 70 degrees today and yesterday, which is extremely odd for Virginia in the winter. I'm not complaining though. I headed to Fairfax County yesterday on some errands and to see my sister (Hi, Sis! Lunch was grand!) and decided to pay a visit to my LNS #2. I feel very fortunate that there are two really good LNS's within an easy drive of my home. The one I visited yesterday is called In Stitches, in Alexandria. The two shops I frequent couldn't be more different, even though each of them is really well stocked with yummy charts and fibers and neither ever disappoints. But they each have a different flavor or orientation. In Stitches is the quintessential sampler shop, and stocks many of the European samplers as well as Scarlet Letter designs. They also have a great many quaker samplers. Because it's only fair to spend money at both places of course, I bought some nifty stash while I was there. I was able to kit up Procession from last week's post, and bought this little winter project also. It's by Country and Colonial (yet another wonderful New Hampshire designer), which I had not heard of before, and it's called "Season's Greetings." It offers two variations on the design; I am stitching the one I saw as stitched model, which doesn't include the words, making it less Christmas-y and more wintery. I started it this morning (and, if you're keeping track, I am interrupting the small project I started last week which I began as a distraction from the large Whale Hunting Project. In other words, I have been distracted from my distraction!)

What I especially love about it is that the design is stitched with just five colors of DMC plus Balger High Lustre blending filament (the really shiny gold). It's hard to tell from the picture with the chart, but some marvelous snowy effects are managed even with so few colors. I'll show you as I go along....hopefully the camera will capture them accurately. Fortunately, I'll have some time to stitch tomorrow as I have the day off and have to stay home while the fix-it men are here sprucing up our old house with new bathroom floors and fixtures so that we can sell it. Here are the first of the little trees. I'm stitching it on (I think) blue spruce 32 count linen, over 2.

Here's a little more progress on By the Bay Needleart's "Meadow Hills." Donna, the designer of this lovely and very New England-y chart, stopped by my blog to comment. I love meeting the designers of the charts we stitch! You can see her blog at http://bythebayneedleart.blogspot.com/. Welcome, Donna! Do they put something in the water in New Hampshire to turn out so many needlework designers and expert stitchers?

As I didn't receive a single stitchy thing for Christmas, I treated myself to a little stack of sampler charts from Homespun Samplar after the holiday. What joy to have a bunch of samplers arrive in the mail. This was one of them, by Moira Blackburn and is called "Keep Me Sampler." I love the balance and symmetry of this composition. I think the border flowers are beautiful and the central house and especially the willow tree are gorgeous. This sampler is intended for 35 or 32 count linen (no color specified), using Weeks Dye Works and DMC threads.

January 10, 2007

Blessed Are the Needleworkers

I took today off work to meet with BF, the realtor and the home inspector for the inspection of the house that we're buying. I did some stitching in the morning before we went over (and before making potato gnocchi to go with tonight's dinner of leftover beef stew). I worked on this:

This view is from the family room into the kitchen. I sat on the floor and stitched on Meadow Hills in the sunlight while the men fussed around in the basement with radon detectors and CO2 gauges and whatnot.

And this is the house. I discovered that one of the bedrooms has a wonderful walk-in closet with its own window--perfect for storing all kinds of crafts and needlework and fabrics and yet being able to see what I'm looking for. My sewing/stitching room is the two windows over the garage.

January 07, 2007

New Starts: Sampler Sunday

I spotted this chart on Homespun Samplar's website and bought it. I liked the composition, which strikes me as a bit mysterious. What kind of procession, exactly? Maybe wedding? If so, the guy with the staff might be the minister, but where's the groom, unless he's the guy bringing up the rear, holding back? And the first woman in the procession has on a white dress in this iteration, but not in the second iteration (picture below). And what's with the sheep? Who invited them, anyway?

The picture below does nothing to clear up the mystery. Note that the stitches are entirely different, and the colors have changed (so much for the theory of the wedding dress). What's interesting about this picture is that the description in the chart, which is by the Workbasket, says that the second version was "stitched using more complicated stitches. This is available by special order as our 'Fancy Stitch Guide.'" Now, that annoys me. Why not include the fancy stitch guide and charge a little more? I can't decide whether it's a tad greedy or condescending (as if we mere mortals couldn't manage a bullion knot) to withhold the more interesting stitching chart. I don't normally carp about cost in this hobby, but some of the charts I've been buying lately, at more and more astronomical prices, make me wonder about common sense things like value for our money. That said, however, I love the design and am glad I purchased it! I tried to kit it up at my LNS, but she only had three of the Soie Cristale skeins (out of 10) required, and didn't stock a good subsitute for the called-for linen (R&R Apple Brown Bindy, which actually I find too dark), so I'll order the thread online somewhere and wait until I have it all gathered together to choose a lighter fabric.

This is a second chart I received from Homespun Samplars: By the Bay Needleart's "Meadow Hills," to be stitched with DMC on "blue sapphire" R&R 32 ct linen, which my LNS did have, so I kitted it up and started it. It's a fun stitch--very New England-y.

Here's my little start (it's hard to tell in my photos that the linen is a pale blue which I just love):

I also started Blessed are the Needleworkers, but Blogger didn't want me to show it to you today! I've actually gotten fairly far along in it, as it's a quick stitch. I'll try to post pictures of that a little later this week, along with pictures of the house we have finally purchased, and which we will close on next month. Yay! So many walls, so little time! Between packing up our old house and getting it ready to sell and stitching busily so there's something to hang on all those walls, I'm a busy girl!