March 29, 2009

The Easter Bunny

You stitchers may recognize today's banner photo, which is by the The Drawn Thread, and is called Easter Egg Sampler. I did it a few years ago but have nearly finished up the embellishments recently with the beads and silk ribbon (I still have to apply the last few beads). It's done on 36 count antique white Edinburgh linen with NPI and GAST threads. I'm showing it in honor of Easter, which is now just 2 weeks away, and also in honor of our friend, Bunnygirl's virtual Bunny Benefit Bash. Hop on over and see the clever story and rabbit video she's put together (Pink, Peaches, and Elvis are in it, as well as many of our other bunny friends). She's collecting donations also to benefit bunny rescues as well as selling bunny rocker shirts, and there are prizes too! This is the time of year that bunnies are given as gifts, a horrible idea. Rabbits are not inexpensive, low maintenance pets (they are in many ways more work and potentially more destructive than my cats, and their vet costs a lot more too), and they may be cute, but a lot of them don't have cuddly, outgoing personalities. Kids tire of the rabbits quickly, and in some cases these little pets are released into the back yard or dropped along the side of the road where they cannot fend for themselves. Peaches was left in the median of a highway, Elvis was a backyard hutch neglect case who was discovered starving and so filthy and matted that he had to be shaved; Pink came from a family who gave him up to a shelter and he was saved by Patti at Bright Eyes Sanctuary. If you must get a bunny, know what you're getting into, and then please, please don't buy one from a pet store. There are lots of little unwanted buns at one of the many rabbit rescue organizations.

I have had a lot of homework since my vacation, so I didn't get to stitch a ton, but I did make some headway. I've made it all the way to the far right of the top of the design (the little blue motif that I've started).

Some of you asked how Elvis' haircut is coming along. His face looks softer now, not quite so shorn. "Mom, please! I'm using the bathroom!"

March 23, 2009

Blue: Last Day of Vacation

The banner photo right now is an old house in Sandwich. In spite of the cold, there was a lawn full of the purple crocuses (I think that's what they are).
Here's where I got the tiny sampler: Friendship Samplers by With Thy Needle & Thread, and you can order from her website at You get six tiny sampler patterns in the package, and they're charted really nicely on good heavy paper. I'm doing the top center design, "Have Ye Any Wool?" but I'd eventually like to do all six. They're charted over 1 on platinum 32 ct belfast linen with DMC. I decided to work on some Lakeside I had in my stash, using GAST and CC. I think my fabric is a tad dark, so I may restitch. Each sampler works up to be 2"x2 1/4" and you can order the little tin frames pictured on the cover from her. Also, for you lovers of primitive designs, she has some other nice charts.

Here's the last of my vacation stitching on Alphabetissimo. Give me another week off, and I'd finish it.

Here's a last shot of the beach at Chatham. The 10-year-old in me wanted to go check out those pools and see if anything was in them, but it was so darned cold--the high that day was 36 F.

BF did an outstanding job with the bunnies and managed to get Peaches' medicine into her. She's coming along great.
"Did you bring me a present?" (Fortunately, the dandelions are coming up here, so she and the other bunnies all got presents. BF got a box of Bog Frogs, chocolate covered cranberries and cashews. I got myself a bag of Portuguese bread.)

Back to work and school. Although I blogged, I didn't get a chance to read everyone else's, because I thought it would be rude to hole up with the computer during my visit, so I have the catching-up to look forward to.

March 22, 2009

And White and Blue


A new, very tiny project (more details tomorrow):

Another summery image from Chatham:

Since I don't have the bunnies here, I will have to tell you about Gary Gull. Gary and his friends scoop up clams and mussels at low tide, and then flying high, drop them on the parking lot at the beach. The shell breaks and the meat is exposed, and Gary and his friend swoop down and eat them on the halfshell, fresher than you and I can get 'em.

This is the pattern in which Gary and his friends dropped their shells today, to wish you a happy week ahead. May all your clams and scallops be fresh and plentiful, say Gary and his friends!

March 21, 2009

Blue and White

Greetings from Cape Cod! It was windy and very cold (looks summery, doesn't it?) This is Chatham Bars, where the sandbar was breached by a nor'easter. A number of houses washed away and floated out to sea.

Tanya, this is for you.

I told you there would be stitching.

Stuffed quahog.

March 19, 2009

Spring Break, Day One: There Will be Stitching

Although Spring Break is technically all week, it only truly started for me today, since I've taken a few days off work starting today. I'm headed to Cape Cod tomorrow, leaving BF in charge of the buns and the cats, and I'm using today to study (schoolwork didn't really end) and do way more chores than I can probably reasonably fit into a day. And there will be stitching! The banner image, by the way, is in honor of my little trip and is used with permission of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, one of the best museums I've ever visited. If you get up there ever, you should definitely go. It is a painting of early New Bedford.

I'm hoping to go on a little photography tour with stops for seafood. I might not get good shots of the ocean, but you can at least see what I have for lunch! LOL!

Progress on Dorothy:

And a closeup of the section I'm working on:

One of the hardest things about flying for me is limiting my luggage. Not to clothing, but which stitching projects do I take? And they can't go in the checked luggage, because imagine if your suitcase disappeared with a year's worth of stitching progress in it. Eeek! Clothing can be replaced, but all those hours of work....

The model patient. She submits to being swaddled, and very nicely swallows the little squirts of medicine. Pink, in the meantime, runs back and forth and thumps and hides under things, peeking at me and acting generally panicky. I can't decide if he is expressing empathy for Peaches, is worried that he is next for dosing (he didn't come down with the infection) or is just a drama queen.

March 15, 2009

Spring Break

My progress on "Alphabetissimo." There was a small problem, though. See how the main vertical leg of the "E" doesn't meet above and below the light blue flower "sash?" I started the top part of the E one stitch too high and one stitch too far to the left. I tried to compensate with a few extra stitches, but it bugged me, especially since some border-y elements go above it, so I frogged it after I took the picture.

Circle of friends.

I'm finishing up some school stuff, getting ready to go on spring break. I'm pretty tired, so I'm looking forward to a break from the homework. I found last night's tax reading pretty funny though. We're working on nontaxable exchanges for business. The text talks about the IRS classification system for like-kind exchanges. Under the system, the book informs us, a car can be
exchanged for an SUV, but not for a bus nontaxably. An airplane can be exchanged for a helicopter, but not for a tugboat. Hilarious. The text comments in its dry way that "the logic of the classification system is not always apparent."

I wish I were going to Mexico or Florida (although not sharing a hotel room with 20 other students, doing shots or hits and jumping off the balcony into the algae-filled pool below. Although isn't there always someone who misses the pool and lands on a car in the parking lot?) No, no. Spring break for me in Florida or Mexico would be courting a giant case of stitcher's numb-butt and possibly a sunburn while stitching on the balcony, then going out for a nice seafood meal and going to bed early. There's a travel niche there: "Spring break for Geezers." No, I don't want to get dragged through museums or view the 7 Deadly Wonders; I want to shop for stash in all the nicest cities!

Thank you for all your kind wishes for little Peaches' recovery. She's still coughing and sneezing, and we're on day 3 of the 14-day course of antibiotics. I'm holding my breath to see if either of the other guys gets it (although the doc says if they haven't by now, they probably won't), and I picked up some extra meds in case. She's the devil to round up--she doesn't like being picked up, and she scoots away--but once you get hold of her and swaddle her, she takes the medicine (cherry flavored, out of a mouth syringe) well.

She's sleeping lots, cuddled with her two buddies.

Poor Elvis. I love the way his hair sticks straight up from static electricity. Elvis: "What are YOU lookin' at?"

Have a happy week!

March 13, 2009

Just Peachy

Several days ago, I thought I heard a bunny cough. I heard it a few more times before I could pinpoint who was doing it, and by then she was doing a little bark and scrubbing at her nose with with her paws. Peaches. Rabbits can suffer from various things that make them cough--some benign, others scary. So I left work early today, picked up the buns, and we drove up to Vienna to SEAVS--famous among bunny and bird and reptile owners in the area. As always, Pink sat in the front seat and controlled the music selections on the radio: today was Procol Harum "A Whiter Shade of Pale," and Janis Joplin's "White Rabbit." (What can I say? He likes the same music I do.)
Elvis was disappointed to see that we were visiting SEAVS instead of the School of Rock.

Peaches has an upper respiratory infection (she's a little wheezy in one lung and her eyes are beginning to get a bit gloppy) which should be very treatable with antiobiotics and eyedrops.
Here's Dr. Hoppmann (really, guys. That's her name! She says many a bunny owner has named their bunny "Hoppy" after her!) We love Dr. Hoppmann! Here's Peaches getting a spa treatment (nail trims all around for the gang).

Pink, not pleased about the way the outing has turned out.

The only casualty of the day. I asked them to take a little of the hair off around Elvis' eyes and nose so he could see. They did it before, so I didn't specify exactly how much. But this? OH NOES! I burst out laughing when I saw him--I hope it didn't hurt his feelings. He did snap at the technician, Kevin. Elvis can be a snappish bunny when he's worried. Had he looked in the mirror, he'd have taken off the guy's hand.

After the vet appointment, we went to the Whole Foods down the block and bought some lovely bunny greens and something for supper.

Pink: "Here's a Kleenex, Peaches. Don't say anything to Elvis about the way he looks!"

March 11, 2009

The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same

The picture of "Alphabetissimo" didn't do it justice. I don't know why designers show a computer-generated "illustration" of a sampler instead of a photograph of the stitched sampler. This is way nicer than the illustration. I'm stitching with NPI (bluer than navy in good light, and delft blue) on 32 ct Sterling Picture This Plus.

I've had a craving for blue things lately. This caught my eye some time ago, and I picked it up when I ordered Christinia Cathcart the other day from Homespun Samplar, whose service was, as it always is, superb. It's called "The Elizabeth Welford Sampler," by Handwork Samplers, and it's charted for NPI or DMC in cross stitch and specialty stitches on lambswool linen (I don't like lambswool because it's stiff, so I'll use something else.)

Speaking of which, Craft-i-Leigh, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to answer your question about fabrics. I started out like everyone else, using aida and DMC. That was fine for a while, but I bought a kit that had linen in it. I didn't really want to use the linen, but I didn't want to waste it either, so I took a deep breath and stitched on it and never went back. I'm very finicky about exactly what linen I'll use though, because I really love the plump, soft but substantial linen, and some linens are stiffer and more sheer. I love gentle color, and I don't like to get knocked over by it or have to fight the color with my stitches. I prefer stitching with silk because of the way it feels and its subtle sheen, but nobody beats DMC for color choices. In the end, it comes down to how YOU feel about what you're using. Experiment with small projects and decide.

By the way, I received the desperately needed threads from all sources, so I have a few extra skeins. Thanks for your suggestions: Drema was very nice and didn't disappoint.

Here's something I found really interesting. I found this on 1st Dibs. It was done by Sophia Brook in 1827 in Great Britain. She was 14 at the time. Remember how I was complaining about bland verses? Here's the antidote to bland verse. In case you can't see it well, it says "Wheneere I take my walks abroad how many /poor I see what shall I render to my God for all /his gifts to me not more than others I deserve/ yet God has given me more for I have food /while others starve or beg from door to door" What makes this really interesting is that December 1825 was the first world economic meltdown. The banking system had become increasingly sophisticated and offered easy credit, in those days to finance speculation in urban housing (townhouses) but especially land, which had been bid up by the popularity of cotton. These were boom years; the United States couldn't grow enough cotton, and Great Britain couldn't spin enough to sastisfy demand. The easy credit policy of the banks was made worse by the unregulated activities of the banks. Because of the high price of U.S. cotton, Great Britain began buying it from East India. The resulting drop in cotton prices killed the land market, the prices of which fell 50 to 75%, and the banks found themselves in possession of devalued collateral. Once cotton and land prices fell, the banks froze credit and there was a worldwide depression, the first modern trade cycle of boom to bust [edited to add: not the first bubble, of course, since Tulip Mania occurred in the 1600s. The 1825 crash involved banks, currency, a commodity shortage (gold), bad loans, loose credit and the abandonment of one market and the growth of another--all truly modern]. During that time, a whole lot of criminally sleazy bank deals came to light. In 1827 the U.S. cotton crop failed (lack of rain). (Note: my grasp of history isn't that comprehensive--I researched it when I should have been doing homework. LOL) But isn't it amazing? I feel somehow comforted by it. As for the sampler, for $6500 it could be yours. $6500 buys a heck of a lot of stash...

"I feel comforted by my friend. It's hard to be blue when you have someone to clean your ears and a little historical perspective."

March 08, 2009

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Owing to the two midterm exams that are due at the end of this weekend (as of this moment one complete and one half complete) I have not had much time to stitch, but I did accomplish a bit on Dot's Garden (not worth showing), and this little bit on Praiseworthy Stitches' "Skating Party." Because I changed the color of the fabric (to Lakeside's Patina), I've changed some of the floss colors. And although there are red beads that go with the border leaves, I decided the design needed a bit more flair. So I have added silvery blue Kreinik blending filament to the greeny-blue frozen lake. Not sure if you can see the sparkle in this photo. Stitching a winter scene now seems odd; remember the eight inches of snow in that last picture of my garden just six days ago? Gone now, replaced by temps in the high seventies yesterday and today. The buds are all bursting out on the trees, the birds are tweeting outside my window, the wild bunnies are digging up my bulbs and chewing the emerging tulip leaves.

I websurfed a bit the other day and bought this chart: "Christinia Cathcart" by the Samplar Workes. I also picked up a few charts on ebay. Oh, and for all of you who might be a Theron Traditions fan, she's teaching a class with a beautiful new sampler at Celebration of Needlework in May. Check out her new sampler! It's called "Morning has Broken," and if you're old enough, that title alone will be enough to send the Cat Stevens song circling endlessly through your brain. I figured out that since I didn't have time to stitch at lunch or after work or all weekend, this bit of shopping made me feel better and calmer.

We had sweeping layoffs at work last week--125 people in our firm nationwide, and approximately 30 in our office. I'm still there, but several friends were cut. It was pretty brutal; the person's manager called them into a private meeting late Thursday, their building badge was confiscated, their email and phone were cut off as of that moment, they were walked back to their desk to get their coat and purse and then they were sent out the door, which is now locked against them. Someone from HR will go through their desk and cube and will box up and send their personal stuff to them. As you can imagine, the rest of us are beginning to remove our personal stuff and take it home because you never know, in the same way that those of us who work in highrises in major cities after 9/11 made sure always to have comfortable walking shoes and a bottle of water that we could grab in case we were evacuated down the stairs and had to walk partway home. I feel terrible for some of the affected people, who believed that the firm would look out for them, were devastated when they were cut.

I picked this up at Everything Cross Stitch recently: It's "Alphabetissimo" by Papillon Creations. What I especially like about this chart is the designer's suggestion to use any two colors of your choosing. I prefer the blue to the red, so I'm going to reverse the colors, and will use the Picture This Plus fabric and NPI silks from my stash. I so much wanted to start this--I've missed stitching this week! Oh, well, next week! And, I'll be headed to Cape Cod in less than two weeks to visit my parents. I should get some stitching done there; one of the best thing about my parents is that they enjoy sitting quietly in the evening doing crossword puzzles or reading or knitting (in my mom's case), so I can stitch away. I could really use a big bowl of quahog chowder from the fish market too!

I'm reading in a couple of blogs about stitchers working on "Dutch Beauty" with its little poo-ing dog. Hilarious. From now on, I think I should use french knots for rabbit doots on my charts with bunnies.

"Doots? I always use the litter box!"

Happy Week Ahead; may any surprises be pleasant ones...

March 02, 2009

Someone's Garden

Dorothy's Garden:

My garden (while the storm was still going on):

Pink's Garden:

March 01, 2009

We have Left Undone those Things Which we Ought to Have Done

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are desperately trying to get to a class to take an exam, because it's the last day of the semester, but you forgot to go to class all semester and now you can't find the classroom? I had a real-life variation on that this weekend where I didn't realize until the last day that we were responsible for two chapters instead of the usual one, and that I had approximately 12 hours to read the text, figure out the material and complete the assignment. The chapter covered dilutive securities and convertible debt, the most horrid, difficult and time-consuming chapter in the book. I never did finish although I gave it a try. I shut the book at 11 p.m. last night (the assignment was due to be electronically posted at midnight) and went off to bed and didn't get up until 11 a.m. today, so today was messed up also. And it was no one's fault but my own.

I had planned to stitch a lot and go to the needlework shop in Alexandria today where they have (and are holding) my missing AVAS color! They were having also a trunk show of Queenstown Samplers, and the Woodlawn Needlework exhibition opens today as well. Woodlawn is right across the street from the needlework shop, but fortunately the exhibition goes on all month, so I'll go up another day. I did get a chance to pick up an order in Fredericksburg, including some nice Picture This linens in Moonglow (a light yellow) and Sterling (a blue-ish gray).

Anyway, here's something I did work on a bit during the week: The Procession, by the Workbasket. I'm stitching it on the called-for linen and threads: Apple Brown Bindy (32 count) and Caron Soie Cristale silk. The Soie Cristale is something I haven't used before this project. The surface is a little more shreddy and soft than the texture of the NPI and AVAS silks. And the design is a little weird, isn't it? Still, it's fun to do.

Dear BF cooked us dinner last night and today, he pumped up my tires with this little gadget. It's a small compressor, which you plug into your car's power socket (such as the lighter socket). No more waiting in line at the gas station, or paying 50 cents and then discovering it's broken, or in my case, driving around on tires that were ten pounds light. Note the snow on the windshield. After an entire winter of nothing much but a few flurries, we're apparently going to have a big winter storm with 6-10 inches of snow. I'm hoping for a day off.

And we have done those things which we ought not to have done....
Here's Pink in the closet, pretending that he didn't just chew the ends off BF's shoelaces. Happy week!