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?"