April 30, 2007

A Day Late

Last week was a killer week, with no stitching. And the weekend continued in the same way, so I'm going to show you something art-related, if not entirely stitching-related.

The first two pictures are of an art acquisition by Big Law. We have lots of very interesting (and probably very pricey) art in the building. I like that we have sculpture and photographs and etchings and paintings and weaving and glass. We actually have some Chihuly glass, which is just beautiful--a series of ruby-colored ewers. Most all of our artwork was done in the 30s and 40s (although I don't know why since Big Law was founded in the 1800s), and much of it is devoted to work: farming and factories in particular. Some it is sly, referencing our larger clients (which must remain secret, but which are household names) in a flattering way. This is a folk art rendition of the White House, which I love especially since the real White House is across the street, but which a lot of people here do not like at all. The carving is amazing, and the scale of it is eye-popping; you can't tell from this picture, but it's probably a bit over three feet up, sideways and deep. It sits on a pedestal in our reception area which is a bit problematic because the reception area is Italianate and formal, all cold white marble, white leather and white orchids in clear glass vases.

Mostly I worked in my garden. Now that mid/late-spring is seriously, solidly here, I can see what the previous owners of our home planted, and I am adjusting accordingly. Mostly there are lots and lots of hostas, which I like well enough, but not in such quantity. I don't know a lot about them, but I overheard someone in the garden center saying that they tend to take over a garden bed. They sure do! I believe there are flocks and flocks of irises, which I love. Hopefully there are some yellow ones as well as blue/purple ones. The azaleas are in bloom; most of them are scarlet. And there appear to be some lilies, some hydrangeas and some stuff that I can't identify yet. I went to the nursery and purchased a modest supply of peonies (my favorite flower on earth), two enormous pre-planted pots for my front steps and stuff for the veggie garden. The house came with a 20 foot by 10 foot raised bed which we think the previous owners used as a kind of play area/sand box for their kids. We're filling it with dirt (the landscaper is trucking it in tomorrow) and then planting tomatoes and other stuff. When I wasn't planting, I headed for the library (gardening and landscaping books) and stopped along the way at a community yard sale where I bought this for $5. Even though it's done on aida, I really liked the vibrant colors and the folky design (it looks like a Charles Wysocki), so I bought it. The yard seller told me she had stitched it, and that it took her a long time because it was a lot of work. We all know how true that is, don't we? I don't know if it's cheating to buy someone else's stiching, but I'm going to enjoy it anyway because at the rate I'm going, I'm never going to complete anything!

And since we're talking about other people's art, here's something I bought from a lovely blog that I read called http://beachyscapecodcupboard.blogspot.com. Beachy is such a wonderful artist (she hand made this card using a photo of an old house she spotted on her walk to the beach) and is a fellow Cape Codder as well.

April 22, 2007

Sampler Sunday

Just a quick post today--we've been working ourselves to death in the yard, planting, weeding, edging, now that it's finally warm and sunny. For a change, this week I got a bit more done on a project--Procession:
Here's a sampler I picked up last week at my Alexandria LNS, In Stitches. It's called The Plantation Sampler, by Canterbury Designs, by Donna Vermillion Giampa (and it has a 1987 copyright on it). This is a little different style for her, I think. I'm working on her Glorious Fruit design, and of course, I love the fruit pillows. I particularly like the stone work appearance of the plantation house.

April 15, 2007

Strawberry Sampler Sunday

Yesterday I headed to the thick of Northern Virginia to pick up some fibers (Au Ver a Soie) I ordered nearly six months ago (for Houses of Hawk Run Hollow). AVAS is always like that, apparently, whether mail-ordered or purchased in the LNS. The woman at the LNS admitted to me that it takes so long to get certain colors that they forget they've ordered them, so they keep reordering a particular color, and then they get a dozen of something when they really only needed two or four. In the meantime they run out of something else, place an order and wait for months. I'd like to go to France to the AVAS factory and investigate this and perhaps suggest ways they could automate their production process to eliminate this dead time when people who need 2516 for instance, wind up substituting fibers from one of their competitors. In the meantime, here's some progress on Procession which uses Soie Crystal by Caron.

Since one does not brave Northern Virginia traffic simply to pick up two skeins of fiber from In Stitches, I scoped out their new charts and came home with several new projects. Check this one out! It's called "Strawberry Fields Farm," by the Victoria Sampler. I loved it when I saw it, so I bought the chart, the wonderful Zweigart 28ct Olive Green Cashel Linen (not olive green really, but more a dusty spring green--so lovely), and the packaged bundle of fibers and beads containing Gloriana, Kreinik, Au ver a Soie, Needlepoint Inc., and Gentle Art fibers and a variety of SJ designs beads. Here are some pictures of the entire picture as well as close-ups of some of the panels. I found some other wonderful charts also, and will show those to you later.

April 08, 2007

Easter Bouquet

I like the Tulip Welcome sampler, and in fact, would like to get going on it as I have the idea to do a bunch of "Welcome to our House" kind of things for our foyer, but it was taking so long with all its many backstiches and quarter stitches that I gave in to the startitis, beginning to stitch Procession, by the Workbasket. I'm doing it with the recommended fibers, Caron's Soie Cristale, on the suggested fabric, R&R Reproductions' "Apple Brown Bindy." Except the fabric is not nearly as dark as it is in the chart photo, so the "yellow" silk disappeared into the yellowish fabric completely. As there was no time to get to an LNS yesterday, I borrowed from my bag of HoHRH stash. The Au Ver a Soie is very similar, but just a bit thicker, so it worked well. I used a darker gold, and it's showing up nicely against the paler-than-expected fabric.

It's been terribly cold here, as it has in the rest of the country, but here's the Sunday sampler: It's "Springtime Delights" by Stephanie Lynn Pearson. I like the picture of the chickens at the top (I'm a fool for little yellow chicks on samplers), and the eggs and flowers and the colors are great, but frankly I think the verse ("Spring time hatches heavenly packages") is just drippy and makes me think of the maggots that hatch in my trash can. I was reading in someone else's blog how they believed they'd outgrown some of the charts they'd once found so appealing.

And here's the Easter Bunny, tearing around our still-empty dining room, looking for the basket of eggs he misplaced. We're still holding our breath that the contract on our house won't fall through somehow (although we have received the lender's commitment letter), but once we safely have the money in the bank, it will be time to think about putting furniture in some of these rooms. I'm planning an antiquing trip in the next few months through rural Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and hoping I turn up some treasures that way. Also I'm hoping to get to the Brimfield antique show in Western Massachusetts in May. I also need to take some vacation time to repaint those dining room walls. They look mauve in this picture (my least favorite color in the entire world), they're darker IRL--sort of maroonish--the Ralph Lauren color that we saw in so many homes. There's also a wallpaper border of big white magnolias which doesn't particularly appeal to me. There's nice chair rail and crown molding which the loudness of the wallpaper strip and the paint cause to disappear. I'd like to paint it all in a nice creamy yellow or in a barely peach, painting all the woodwork in a glossy white. More ideas than time! And who would put white wall-to-wall in a dining room? I overturned a glass of tomato juice at dinner tonight, but fortunately, we were eating in the kitchen, which has wipeable floors! Picture that on a white rug!

Happy Easter everyone!

April 01, 2007

Cupcake Sunday

I felt like making cupcakes today, so I did. Actually, I've been wanting to make the edible kind as well. I've got a tasty-looking recipe that calls for chopped up Milky Way Bars to be melted with the butter and whipped into cupcake batter, but I'd like to lose some weight, so I made the inedible kind instead. This took me just a couple of hours. The pattern is by Lisa Johnson, and it's called "Just Desserts," and I bought it on ebay. I bought wool felt from the Primitive Cupboard. They have a fun selection of stuff: primitive doll patterns, some quilt stuff, a few primitive style needlework patterns and a bunch of other things. The wool felt is lots of fun to work with--the colors are great, and it's stretchy enough to allow you to ease things together so they stitch up smoothly. The DMC floss came from my stash. I got the beads on sale at Michaels. I have fiberfill left over from an earlier project knitting little mice wearing dickensian clothes for a Christmas display. Oh! I'll have to find one or two of them (although I gave most of them away) to show you!

I'd do a couple of things differently on the next pattern: I'd add some weighted plastic craft beans before stuffing it with the fiberfill, and I'd stuff it tighter. I'd add the flower to the "frosting" top before I attached the frosting. But overall, it was a hoot to do, and will make a fun little gift for friends having a birthday or celebration. It might make a fun little pin cushion, too.

I knitted some also on the soft yellow sweater I've been working on. Getting the new Vogue Knitting always makes me want to dig out my needles, although it's rare for me to actually find a pattern I want to make in that magazine these days (they've gone unwearably cutting edge, I'm afraid), although I still read the lessons and look at the ads. This week I did just a little more on Tulip Welcome while stuck in traffic on the bus, but didn't do much other than that.

And here's the Sunday Sampler: "Ocean Daughter" by Who Knew? Darn--forgot the instructions/materials list, but it appears to be done in a single color of something on a sparkly/metallic hand-dye. I love the use of the negative space to define the carb, shells, starfish and coral.