February 26, 2009


I've decided, on seeing lots of needleworkers' approaches to their project management, that I'm not very organized, and it would be good if I could stitch on one project at a time (monogamy) or at the very least stitch in rotation (serial monogamy). I think what I am is a satellite stitcher. I like doing one big project as a constant--call it a planet--and then have a lot of other projects circling to distract me when the planet becomes confining. I may have to abandon my planet for a while; I have now run through all the tan Au Ver a Soie, and I still have two wings of the building to do. So far, the two shops with which I've placed orders for the replacement silk have not been able to get it for me. I think I'll call a couple more shops, because the risk of winding up with five or six or eight skeins is far less than the risk of not being able to find it at all. Here's where Dorothy's Garden stands now. I may work around the house for a while though, since there are some big honking flower arrangements to do, and all that tiresome border.

I've restarted "Keep Me" by Moira Blackburn. I started it some time ago (2 years?) and unwisely chose to do it over one. Big mistake. I'm doing it over two this time. I've discovered that if I'm uncomfortable with a project--the texture of the fabric, for instance, or the size of the fabric count, I just won't work on it.

Here's how far I got last time. Pity. That tree was more work than it looks to count. I had to get out the highlighter for the chart to keep the frogs at bay.

If you haven't already, please drop by Margaret's new blog, called Days of a Sampler Lover. Be sure to look at her photobucket album. And--my friend Shallot Clayton is her banner photo! By the way, Margaret, I am indeed using NPI and not AVAS as I had said. Now that I have seen your very good photo of the sampler, I feel as if it's worthwhile to continue--I had been having some serious cold feet over it.
Oh, and Theresa at the lovely Giraffe Xing has very kindly given me an award. I'm a nit-brain tonight, so I'll pick it up and follow the directions this weekend, Theresa. Thanks so much for thinking of me!
The rabbits have the night off but would like to point out a bunny blog if you haven't seen it yet: Barringtonbunny. BB is a hoot--a two-color angora bunny spare on language but not at all spare on cute. There's something about his 2 colors that reminds me of the saddle shoes I wore when I was a kid. And also, we have learned that Fez and the Gang of Some Bunny are NOVA neighbors! For those of you not in Metro DC, NOVA is a separate state from the rest of Virginia practically--there is occasionally some talk of seceding, since Richmond takes all our taxes and distributes them to the rest of the state while we inch along on our underfunded insufficient highways.

This is Shy Tabby, who purchased two Arturo Fuente cigars today for BF and left them with the following note:
Dear Dad,
I am sorry about your lunch. Your friend, Shy Tabby.
Poor BF had been planning on having a nice lunch of my very excellent (if I do say so myself) leftover meatloaf. The phone rang and he set the meat down on a little side table while he answered it. While his back was turned, Shy Tabby managed to knock the entire plate of meatloaf onto the floor. And there was nothing else (he informed me) to eat in the house. (Nothing easy, anyway, except for my vast collection of Lean Cuisines.) So Shy Tabby had some serious apologizing to do, and there's nothing BF likes better than a nice cigar (yuck) on the deck, a sure-fire sign that spring is coming, so off I went to the cigar store today during lunch (which seriously cut into my stitching time).
Good night Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea. Your friend, Shy Tabby.

February 22, 2009

Shallots and Lemons

I couldn't seem to settle on any particular project this week. I haven't stitched on this one for a while. It's Charlotte Clayton. I can see how it's spelled, but having grown up in Massachusetts, my mind still pronounces that first name as "Shallot." When I was a kid, we had a neighbor who'd call her kids in to dinner by screeching out the back door: "Shallot! Shallot! Maa-gret! Theres-er!" (Charlotte, Margaret and Theresa.) I love the fabric and the fiber (my favorite combination: Lakeside Linen and AVAS) but I don't love-love the design. Or stitching without aid of the photo of the sampler as charted. The cover photo is of the antique sampler. I'd like to see a photo of the contemporary adaptation! That said, I think it will be quite arresting when fully stitched up.
Siobhan, look--yet another Adam and Eve!

I've been eyeing this book for a while at Borders. It has some really nice projects in it for needlepoint, easily adaptable to counted cross stitch. I got one of those Borders coupons via email the other day for 40% off any one book, so I hightailed it to the DC Borders store. Using these coupons (which range from 20-40% off and are coming at the rate of about one a week) as I get them is resulting in a nice build-up of my cookbook/craft library. We can thank the poor economy and slow sales for my enlarged library, which is a bit of lemonade from lemons, isn't it? Rabbits' Guy has proposed a lemonade party; that's a small glass--larger glass coming later in this post.

Here's the first project I want to do from this book: a line of houses. I'm choosing it because of the nice graphics and because at the size it will be, it's perfect for a particular long blank narrow area of wall. In the book it's a needlepoint draft dodger. Eeek--like I'd put my needlework on the floor! Kind of a small photo--the stitching chart is good though. I've shown the project with the gorgeous cut of Picture This Plus linen (32 count in Icon). I love this fabric and bought a half-yard because I know I will want it for other projects. Since the project is charted for Paternayan yarns, I'm substituting fibers from my stash--mostly GAST and Crescent Colors. The finished design on 32 count will be a yard long--36 inches by 9!

Well, you know I had to start it! I'm sticking close to the project's folk-y colors (they stitched the background in blue, but who has that kind of time?), but I'm thinking it'd be fun to do it in contemporary colors as a second project displayed in the same room, and with lots of sparkly touches.

So I'm sitting at my desk on Friday afternoon, preparing to go home, when Hoffman Enablement and Distributing sends the regular Friday afternoon email. I scroll through it, ho-humming: "Ho-hum, same old. Not that one--too weird. What was that designer thinking?" Next. Next, next, next. Then--"WHOA!" When I spotted the two new designs from Prairie Schooler, I placed a phonecall to Everything Cross Stitch, and sure enough, they had them. Brand new monthlies! I understand they'll be released every so often. I got this one because of a certain white bunny:

And started it. Disregard the fuzzy at the upper left. Fabric 32 ct antique white cashel from my stash and the called-for DMC threads--2 over 2. It's called, not surprisingly, "April."

Here's July. I like it even better. Can't wait to see the other 10 months as they come out. Celeste does her PS designs over one on 28 ct. I tried it because they look so crisp and clear, but while I prefer the finished look, my eyes don't appreciate it, and I don't like the way the single thread slides under the linen thread and looks crooked. Anyway, here's "July." Please tell me though that not all the months are going to have verses that rhyme with "eet." What we need here is proper poetry or bible verses (why so many of us like the antique samplers) [Edited to add after Tammy's comment, I don't mean to say that I don't appreciate the whimsical or the quick (I stitch a lot of those), just that I'm disappointed by some of the dull verses that accompany them.]

In the same color family as "July," I've started "Popcorn," which is larger than I expected. Remind me to get some tacky bob; I've got little seed beeds all in the bed from dropping them when I was beeding the other night. They're tiny suckers!

Okay, RG, here's my lemons-to-lemonade developing story: in a nutshell, the legal biz is imploding. Even in "recession-proof" DC, in this terrible downturn, law firms are laying off in droves. So much so, that there's a blog devoted to tracking the many layoffs in our industry called abovethelaw.com. IMHO, some of it is probably overdue cost-cutting; the last few hysterical years of growth and institutional piggishness inflated everything. It's fairly well-known that in Biglaw, 1st-yr. associates are wooed with starting salaries straight out of school of $160K; equity partner salaries range in the multi-millions. The rest of us get the crumbs of course, but we're the first to go even though the savings isn't all that great. I haven't been laid off--yet. But my firm is remaining silent on our prospects and is conducting stealth layoffs, and I've seen the work fall off. And off. The Lemonade here? Even with three classes, I have time to do my homework AND stitch at lunch. Even better lemonade potentially: There's an ongoing shortage of accountants in this area, particularly forensic accountants, and there's beginning to be quite a call for forensic accountants what with all that money having gone poof. So I've got my fingers crossed that I'm going from the buggy whip factory to something more robust and that my timing for a change is good. There will always be law firms, but they will be considerably slimmed down, I'll bet. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about now--I'd compare my leap from one field to the other to the cartoon character running across the suspension bridge as the boards fall out behind him and having to make a last desperate leap to the other side just as the last board falls out. If I lose my job soon enough, I'll plan on finishing the degree this year instead of next year, by taking 6 classes or so a semester--there's some lemonade as well. (My theory also being that if it benefits me to be laid off, or if I'm perhaps cautiously pleased by the prospect of being laid off, it will certainly not happen. Some of the kinder firms in our area have offered buyouts to their staffs; count me in for that. I wouldn't even need to think about that one overnight!)
All we can really do though, considering that most stuff is out of our hands, is to keep on stitching. And make more friends!

February 15, 2009


"And A Garden Grew" grew this week. Check out the little snail in the lower left-hand corner. Cute, huh?

Thank you for all your kind words on "Whale Hunting." Believe it or not, it's only 2/3 done; to the right of the boat is an entire section with a house yet to be stitched. I got really tired of stitching the grass and put it away, but I'm ready to roll again. HOWEVER, the project suffered a small setback when I ran out of some colors and tucked the direction page listing the symbols and colors into (I think) one of my many totes, with the intention of restocking. Only now I can't find that page, and there is no other (reminder to self to make working copy and put it away against future idiocy such as this). While I can certainly match the symbols to some of the stitching I've already accomplished, it's harder, and in the case of some colors, which I haven't used yet, I'll have to guess. Argh! As a paralegal, I have done large-case litigation support, where I was responsible for being able to put my hands on any single page of a 300,000 folder document production, but do you think I can find one page of a chart in my house? What a flake!

I apparently have had an attack of the cutes this week. Yesterday I went to Everything Cross Stitch to see what Celeste had brought back from Nashville. Here are a few of the things that I got, even though I am typically a traditional sampler stitcher. (She got some nice traditional stuff too, and I didn't try to photograph some of the beautiful fabrics she got, since it's too difficult. If you live in the area, go see the green and blue Picture This and Crossed Wings linens, and think of a project you can do with them!) Dewdrop by Just Nan. Came with a little pack of seed beads and the bunny's glass flower. Jury's out on the flower, but the rest of it is fun. You can buy the frame pictured. I've been meaning to get my hands on JN's "Iris" and frame. Also tiny. This little project on 30 ct is 2.5 x 2.5. I bought a little remnant of a pretty blue fabric.

I've been eying this online and couldn't resist when I saw it IRL--Jeannette Douglas' Pineapple Stitches. The Kreinik braid is absolutely the perfect pineapply color, which came in an embellishment package with some of the silks you see in the corner: Gloriana, NPI, AVA, Silk Mori, Thread Gatherer and Belle Soie, along with Lorikeet overdyed wool. It requires beads, but you get those separately, along with my very, very favorite color of Lakeside: Pear. I always forget that JD is not just x-stitch; there are specialty stitches in it, which is kind of a pain, but definitely worth it for this.

I've seen this on the web also: a tiny little Mill Hill seed beed kit in the Spring Bouquet line. This is "Popcorn"; there are others in the series called Rootbeer Float, Banana Split and Lemonade. I had a hard time deciding, but at $7 apiece, you could buy them all. They each come with a magnet so that you can display your work on your refrigerator along with your kids' artwork and where, in case you're the competitive type, it will look FAR BETTER than your five-year-old's handprint turkey. Hah!

I was cruising 1st Dibs when I should have been cruising "Long-Term Liabilities," subtitled "Your Debt is Killing my Stock." Feh--boring. This, though: not so boring. It's a nice piece of sculpture called (I think): Ark. It's pottery which is only partially glazed, and unfortunately, it's $7,000. I had put "industrial" into the search engine, because I'm looking for a few industrial pieces for my house--how I'd love to find a nice industrial table on which to spread out my sewing and projects or use as a center island in the kitchen. (I found some, but eithre I can't afford them or they're a long way away.) But in the course of the search, I found this little thing. I edited this to add the second picture, so you can see the goofily smiling fish.

I'm off to Target to buy mundane things: paper towels and tp and a couple more bath rugs, if they're still having a sale on those (last week they had good-size ones for $4-6. The bunnies snuggle on them, but they don't last very long with three little sets of teeth pulling out the carpet fibers.)


February 14, 2009

Be My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

Stitchy stuff tomorrow.

February 12, 2009

The Elvis Sampler

Siobhan mentioned that since my LNS didn't have the colors of AVAS that I'm running out of for Dot's Garden, I might try ordering from Drema. I'd heard her mentioned by other stitchers as well, so I gave her a call. The fact that she's in Baltimore makes it even nicer! She was extremely kind and thinks she can get them for me fairly quickly, assuming the company (gulp) is still making those particular colors. I won't think about that eventuality. Thanks for the idea, Siobhan! Also, Siobhan mentioned Elizabeth Talledo's "Whale Hunting." Funny you should mention that. I probably should finish it up. Small world! Here is is where I left it last probably over a year ago. Thanks for reminding me; now I'm enthused about stitching on it again. I have about 1/3 of the chart yet to go.

Speaking of enthused, I've seen some fun stuff come out of Nashville. Here's one of the charts: "Tyler's Lion" by Long Dog Samplers. I'm going to call it the "Elvis Sampler." Elvis is very excited about finally being on a sampler; he says it seems to him that normally the rabbits who appear on samplers are pink-and-white rabbits like Pink, or spotty rabbits like Peaches who have traditional fur and the jelly bean shape. Where are the lionheads, he always asked me. (If I stitch it, I'll have to leave off the long tail.) What I particularly like is the blueprint appearance of the houses.

I think there's a strong resemblance, don't you? "What do you mean IF you stitch it?" (Diana, see what I mean about the woodwork?)

Well, here's the problem with stitching another Long Dog (whose designs I like). I've started one and should probably finish it. It's "Bagatelle." It's an exercise in self-flagellation. First you stitch all the white design (I'm using NPI silk). When you're through after many many many hours of stitching and no doubt thousands of yards of silk, you then stitch a grid of gray threads over the whole thing (can you see the grid in the picture?). Ponderous. Very nice looking though, when it's done. I got sucked into it upon seeing a finished model at In Stitches in Alexandria. Those finished models will do it every time.

Picture taken in the evening, so the pretty blue of the (I think) 32 count fabric doesn't show up. Sigh. The whole thing makes me want to take a few months off and stitch.

February 08, 2009


My homework load has become heavy enough that I've restricted myself to stitching on this while it still amuses me. I love it to bits, but I'm finding that it just eats fiber. I'm running out of some of the AVAS colors that I use most frequently--the tan for the house bricks, the most-used green in the border/grass and the medium pink, in particular--and I'm concerned about having enough of some of the other colors as well. My LNS is out of them, so I'll have to go online. AVAS can be difficult to get quickly, so I hope it doesn't hold me up. I'm doing it over two on 32 count with one strand, by the way, Michelle--your over-one commitment would sink me. It's working up to be a big sucker, which I'm thrilled about; I have lots of empty walls in this house.

The big picture:

You stitchers may already have seen this; it's "The Sailor's Wife," by Brenda Keyes of the Sampler Company, her newest design. I ordered it directly from her website, and it came from the UK in about 10 days. I can't say enough nice things about her wonderfully charted designs and the little extra touches that make her stuff so nice to work on: the full-color photo of the completed design instead of a blurry copy, and the extra piece of instructions with a little list you can put in your purse when you go buy fiber, and the large, large charts. This is her picture.

And here's an enlargement of part of the picture, so you can see it more clearly. It is charted for DMC, not my favorite fiber, so I may substitute GAST and Crescent Colours or NPI silks. It's also large; on 32 ct. cream Belfast linen, the design is 26.5 x 8 inches.

I've ordered a couple of traditional sampler charts from ebay, and I'm anxious to see what comes back from the Nashville show as well.

I've been spending a lot of time online at home lately, doing my homework. In order to take a mental break, I'll read your blogs, then when I run out of those, I go to "1stDibs.com," which is my new obsession. In particular, I like to visit on Saturday morning when they have their reduced-price "garage sale" listings. 1st Dibs specializes in the sale of some pretty spectacular mid-century modern furniture (dear to my heart), but it has a fair number of antiques of all types, including folk art, quilts and samplers. The listings are from a group of a large number of very nice antiques dealers. The prices are uniformly high, but the stuff's really nice--once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff. I love this piece. It's a French silk weaving loom that has been repurposed into a table. Unfortunately, it's not even in the realm of possibility for me; it's $22,000. Do I think it's worth it? Yes, actually I do, in a way that a $22,000 assembly line car is not, whatever the car's utility. To me, it's that perfect object at the intersection of art and history. It's unique. (If you check the site out, use the number "1," not the word "first.") M. Finkel and Daughter is one of the 1st Dibs dealers, although there are not a lot of antique samplers represented there. There are at the M. Finkel site though!

Of course, refreshingly, even in the world of fine art and antiques, we have those pieces you just scratch your head over. This for example. It's "found art." Specifically it's Bud Light bottlecap art. It's $1750. Go figure. I'm not sure if the mouse comes with it or not. Edited to add: It doesn't have a name, this little scupture, so I'll think of it as "This Bun's for You."

Back to my homework, and to take a few minutes to whip the house into shape--gotta dash! Our friend at Houseful of Rabbits is laid up after having his rotater cuff repaired. Get well soon, RG!

February 01, 2009

Topsy Turvy

I'm all topsy turvy today. My homework is taking longer than I expected, and I spent too much time this weekend stitching and out of the house, figuring my homework wouldn't take that long. Whoopsie. There are just three questions, but they're difficult and involve things like determining peculiar financing ratios and then, with a bare minimum of information, having to decide how much money a given company will have to raise to keep going. So here's a quick driveby:
Dorothy's garden: coming along (faster than my homework). Also more fun than the homework.

I bought this little chart at Everything Cross Stitch; it's 46 x 46 stitches. Just about right. It's called Topsy Turvy Bunnies, and the bunny on it reminds me of someone. It's by Val's Stuff and it's charted for 28 count Lugana using Crescent Colours, Crescent Colours pearl cotton, DMC or Anchor. If you prefer cats, they have Topsy Turvy Tabbies as well. Maybe I'll do both!

Topsy turvy bunnies waiting patiently until homework is over so they can run up and down the halls.

Have a lovely week--back to my plowback ratios.