August 30, 2009

Needles Afire

My needle has been in overdrive this past week. School's out until the 8th of September, and I intend to use every unencumbered moment of time until then stitching (when I'm not actually at work). I am headed to Cape Cod next weekend and I'm making a short list of projects to bring (carry-on only--imagine the heartbreak of putting your needlework in checked luggage and having the bag never turn up). I'm still debating whether to head up to the Brimfield Antique Show and catch the Antique Textile Show next Sunday. On the one hand, I'm sure it will be amazing and fun, but I don't really need the temptation to buy--I've just spent $475 for books for next semester, and I really need to buy a couple of tires for my car. It's also a couple hours out of my way, total, and I could spend the time enjoying the Cape instead of drooling over old embroidery and mangle cloths and samplers and turn-of-the-century dresses... Hmmmm--guess I'll decide once the plane lands in Providence.

I'm looking forward to the trip. The slow pace of life at my parents' house sometimes makes me itchy, but I should have plenty of chance to stitch, and I'm taking a couple of books along: appropriately, "That Old Cape Magic" by Richard Russo, and an interesting book I got at the used book store: "The Republic of Suffering--Death and the American Civil War" which deals with the logistics and sheer difficulty of burying the Civil War dead. The First and Second battles of Bull Run were both fought in the summer (just down the road from here) a year apart, and since the bodies couldn't be put in the ground during battle, they lay in the heat for days until they could be buried. Even after everyone was buried, the stench stuck around for months. I'm looking forward to time for reading--I hardly ever read anything longer than a magazine or newspaper article during the semester.

Progress on Alphabetissimo. Really coming down the home stretch on this one. This fabric from Picture This Plus is my favorite fabric ever, both in color and in perfect texture. Yesterday I visited the LNS and bought new fabric (34 ct Legacy Linen in Devonshire Cream) to restart Sarah McPhail.

And I started this! It is "Frances Eden" by Handwork (I love Handwork samplers). Note that although there is a verse, there are no alphabets! I have done quite enough alphabets lately.

I'm doing it on a white Lakeside 32 count instead of a cream colored fabric. And I've substituted AVAS from my stash for the called-for DMC fibers. I got lucky and had all the suitable colors. This is my progress as of Friday night.

And as of this morning.

Cocktail of the week: gin and tonic with lime. Mmmmm. Perfect when it's hot.

Off I go to the grocery store to get something for dinner. Maybe something to go with a dinner salad! Here are a couple of buns enjoying their own salad from the farmer's market. Pink isn't in the picture because oddly, he's not a huge fan of salad.
Peaches: "I'm watching my waistline." By the way, G-Bun is on enjoying a carrot. She looks ever so much better.

Happy week!

August 23, 2009


Several of you have suggested that the cocktail of the week should be margaritas. I wanted to let you know that I take your suggestions seriously. I do have a rule that the cocktail of the week should be made from scratch--no mixers, no lo-cal sodas, powders or potions or energy drinks. No shortcuts! [Edited to add: just for this project, of course. I'm generally all about the diet sodas, and I'm more likely than not to drink a little bit of rum with a diet coke. But there's nothing "artisanal" about that...] So I make my own simple syrup and squeeze the lemons, the limes, etc. This frozen margarita was ok, but it tasted mainly of ice. BF stepped in with a bottled mixer from the VA ABC store and his cocktails (not photographed) were much tastier. BF likes tequila, so we used Patron Anejo, Patron Citronge, lime juice (and some sort of electric yellow mixer) and kosher salt for the rim of the glass. Wooo! Thanksh, all, for the shuggeshtionsh!

I courted stitchy numb-butt this weekend. Here's one of several projects that I picked up.

Here's another. I don't normally stitch whimsical projects, even though I have nothing against them--I'd just generally prefer to do the big reproduction samplers. But I spied this in the LNS yesterday when I went to pick up refills of some AVAS and scope out different fabrics for Sarah McP, which I will be starting again when I go on vacation in 2 weeks. It's a Bent Creek Design called "So Happy." I stitched it on 34 ct Legacy Linen in cafe au lait, using 2 over 2 with DMC, WDW and GAST threads. It's actually part of a larger design that shows 2 deer touching noses under a tree upon which a family of owls looks down. It's cute, but I chose to stitch just the rabbit burrow. Not sure the buttons add anything to it, but they came in the pack, so I attached them.

Life imitating art.

Happy week ahead!

August 20, 2009

Sunk Costs

School finally finished up on Monday evening--phew. I've spent nearly every spare moment stitching since (plus a little cooking and cleaning on the side). Here's a little work on Alphabetissimo.

And some work on Dorothy. I feel like Vanna White with all these letters. I've put Sarah McP on hold for now though. I was in such a hurry to get her and start her. And then I realized, slowing, slowing, slowing--that I just don't like her fabric. Aak! All those hours spent on the four-sided stitch and the double cross stitches in the alphabet, the border, the big pink roses. It was the roses that decided it. I had to adjust the colors when I changed out the fabric (I didn't like the color of that either), and they looked...loud. And although the colors in this are loud-ish anyway (and boy do I hate the green and yellow in the rose leaves), I'd rather tone them down a bit. And the 32 ct was too loosely woven and the stitches too large.... Sigh. I can't think about the work I did on it already, which will all have to be scrapped. It's an accountant-y expression: sunk costs. As in, you can't look back in history. It's not relevant. So that fancy new computer system the company bought that was going to revolutionize inventory or payroll or whatever that never worked, no mattter how many times you paid a tech to work on it? A lot of people would keep working on it and spending money on it because it had cost so much to begin with. The grocery line you refused to give up on because you'd already invested so much time in it, even though by now there are new lines moving more quickly? Sunk costs. There comes a time when you have to turn your back on an investment. Sarah McPhail on 32 count Lakeside Linen in buttercream is history, and not the good kind. Look for her to be reborn though--just not right away.

We're celebrating G-bun's successful surgery for the abscess (did not spread, so they got it all) and spay (they removed her probably cancerous uterus--the majority of unspayed female rabbits get uterine cancer). Here she's stretching and looking fluffier and more hopeful already. [Edited to add: this photograph borrowed from, by Patti Henningsen. Patti is the wonderful rescuer who works magic with buns, nursing them back to good health when they've been horribly mistreated or neglected.]

Off to bed I go after tidying the bunny room. Here's a photo of Peaches doing a little grooming of Pink's ears. It's the rabbits' favorite soothing activity. I'm hopeful that someday soon somebunny will groom G-bun's little ear buds. Happy weekend ahead!

August 16, 2009

Odds and Ends and Nearly the End

First of all, thank you so much, Terri! Terri made this wonderful scissor fob to commemorate the Sail Away stitch-along. As you can see, I'm running behind and haven't been stitching along since the first week. So don't feel bad, Terri--you're not the only one! Being the slightly superstitious sort, I slid it into my pencil case before I attached it to my scissors and toted it along to school for finals yesterday, especially since the turtle is U. of Maryland's mascot.

Unfortunately the finals weren't really final--we have a couple of days left to submit projects and homework. I'm ready for it to be over. Then I have three weeks off until fall semester. I have several things planned for early fall including a trip to Cape Cod, very likely a visit to the Brimfield Antique Show in Western Massachusetts on the first day, which is when they hold the Antique Textile Show, and a trip to South Carolina in October.

I've picked up and put down various projects since my last post, not really being able to decide on one to stick with. I'm tired for one thing. For another, I'm doing lots of alphabets on various samplers (the problem with starting at the top left means you generally hit the alphabets first), and I want to frog out the colors other than pink in Sarah Spence below. After seeing everyone's Mary Wigham, I think that doing the sampler in one color is gorgeous.

I fiddled with this a little. It's a Tristan Brooks design called "Colonial Seasons." I'm doing it on 45 ct with one strand of DMC over 2. It's a daylight-only project, I think. I'm contemplating doing all four seasons in a vertical row, but I'll see if I really want to do that after the first one. The penny gives the relative size, or serves as a satellite dish on the house.

Pink and Elvis are discussing a bunny they heard about from our friend, Patti, who runs a bunny rescue called Bright Eyes Sanctuary. Possibly upsetting picture follows--end here if you don't want to see it.

Patti has named this little girl Glenna Bunny. G-Bun was a throwaway and something terrible happened to her ears while she was on the loose. She will be undergoing surgery; she has an abscess. I would take her in but BF informs me that the pet hotel is full. Fair enough--we have 9 furry pets. And there's always one more in dire need. So we'll have to settle for giving a little financial support. Patti says she's a calm, sweet bunny in spite of what she's been through. If you would like to donate, please follow the link.

August 13, 2009

Lunch with Christinia

I have had lunch with Christinia this week instead of studying for my finals on Saturday. I believe I'm pretty much studied out--I don't care much about the outcome at this point. Usually I bring my lunch, but once a week or so I get takeout. Today was Ethiopian, from the little coffee shop at George Washington University's law school book store. Mostly they sell very good Ethiopian coffees and Italian sodas and such, but I don't drink coffee. They have three Ethiopian lunches; this is the vegetarian one. When I put the photos together here I realized how much the colors of my lunch echoed the colors in Christinia's sampler.

The spongy-looking "bread" draped over the partitioned take-out container is injera, made with teff, rather than wheat. It has a tangy sour-dough-ish flavor and is stretchy, perfect for picking up/mopping up the stews. I'm never sure which stews are wots and which are alitchas, but the top left is mild, silky pureed split peas, then clockwise is a spicy red lentil stew. Below that are collards with garlic and mild spices, then a cold salad of beets and potatoes and onions and on the left green beans.

Here's a close-up of Christinia's time-consuming bullet-hole stitch.

And progress on the sampler:

Pink: Elvis, what are we having for lunch today?
Elvis: Burgers!
Pink: We can't have burgers. Bunnies are vegetarians!
Elvis: Wait! I'm a bunny? I thought I was a puppy!

August 09, 2009

Lemon Drop

The cocktail of the week last night was the lemon drop. Ingredients: lemon vodka (refrigerated), lemon juice, simple syrup (a sugar syrup you can make yourself--2 parts sugar to one part water, boiled--which has the consistency of motor oil), all shaken with ice in a coctail shaker, then garnish the glasses with lemon wheels and colored sugar. BF's verdict: perfect. My verdict: too strong--except for the festive-looking glasses, I might just as well have swigged the vodka straight out of the fridge.

Pedal to the metal: Sarah McPhail. It's interesting that with the addition of the square stitch in pink on the top row and gold on the bottom row, the blue--which is the same blue in each row--looks different. The rope-y looking divider row was interesting to do, and easier than it looks. It's a row of long-arm crosses in tan. Then diagonal stitch in blue. And finally stem stitch in gold along the top and bottom. The speed of it makes up for the toil over the individual script letters.

I'm having a blast doing this sampler.

Peaches has made progress on her project and has sent you a little heart.

One of the ladies--Sarah, Sarah, Dorothy or Christinia--and I will be lunching later this week. Join us! (Can you tell that things are quiet at work? Ah, August--vacation time for lawyers in DC.) Happy week ahead!

August 06, 2009

Just Passin' Thru

Joe, our bus driver, has a sense of humor. Note that the sign for the bus destination on the right side of the windshield says "Just Passin' Thru." I should talk him into punching in "Stitchin' City."

Homeward bound: some would see this as a traffic jam; I see it as a stitching opportunity. When the bus moves at 60 mph, it jiggles too much to stitch.

Want to see my lunch? A "skinny hammie" from Pot Belly, a diet coke and a tomato from my garden. I had lunch with Sarah.

"Sarah McPhail" arrived on Monday. So fast (just a week) from Canada and so cruel: I had a research paper due on Tuesday night, so I couldn't open anything up until yesterday. Aside from the very speedy service from The Essamplaire is the fact that it is the best set of charts/instructions ever. Good graphs, a huge photo so clear that you can see each individual stitch, and the small super clear photo on the outside of the pack. Good instructions too. It doesn't say on the website, but it's a silk kit (AVAS). I swapped out the linen. It was a very good linen, and it was 40 ct, which I had requested, but I thought that some of the specialty stitches might be more difficult on such a high count, so I'm using a piece of 32 ct Lakeside in buttercream. It's pretty close to the original, although a bit rosier.

There are some specialty stitches here. Sawtooth for the pink border and marking crosses in teal outlined in "four-sided" stitch. The marking crosses are a cross stitch over a cross stitch. Not the same as doubling the floss, because two separate crosses make a bumpy center that pops up nicely when the four-sided stitch is applied. Time consuming, but a nice effect.

I've started the Sail Away SAL. BF has been traveling the last few days, so dinner has been the drive-through or chips and salsa. Extra time to stitch!

"You've done nothing but stitch and work on the computer all week. I feel like an orphan. Poor, poor bunny."
See you in a few days!

August 02, 2009


Last Sunday I confidently stated that with the purchase of Sarah McPhail I would not buy any more projects before the end of the year. Heck, it's just five months; how hard could that be? Five days later I received a newsletter from Attic Needlework showing not one, but three gorgeous samplers of the month--15% off supplies--which had me nearly breaking my resolve. Two are Scarlet Letter samplers--Betsy Manchester and Betsy Davis from the Mary Balch School. One is an OOP HTF sampler from Treasures in Needlework magazine's spring 1993 issue which pops up from time to time on ebay. Attic Needlework can only sell the supplies for this, and not the chart, so you have to own it or get hold of it. This is the one I mean; I know you've seen it before:

[As an aside, am I remembering that Donna Giampa of Vermillion Stitchery did a rendition of it also? Seems likely--I'll have to check.] Answer: sort of--the design is sort of similar. And of course, I already own this design.

So Friday found me scouring ebay. Just for FUN! Sure enough, I found it, but with a day left on the bidding (and 12 bidders), it was already at $30.77. I have seen that particular issue sell for lots less than that. And in contrast, the first issue of that short-lived magazine (there were only 6 issues) is currently selling for about $3. I wonder if the frenzy was driven by the Attic's newsletter? (The newsletter is not available on their website yet, so if you don't subscribe and want to see it, send me your email address, and I'll forward it along.) Also, The Sampler Lover's Blog features Betsy Davis, and she's doing a beautiful job as always.

It reminds me of what I suspect was the buying frenzy of Le Marquoir de Justine, after Siobhan posted her picture and story of that beautiful sampler on Anna's site. I went to Violarium, which sells the European Cross Stitch projects, and one minute it was in stock, and now it isn't, although you can sign up to be notified when it comes in (I'm not telling whether I signed up or not). I won't mention the 4 skeins of Gloriana Silk that I am awaiting so that I can finish kitting up Drawn Thread's "The Riddle." I have had it in my stash for a while, but I didn't feel a pressing need to stitch it until I saw Nicole's progress and beautiful finish.

And as Siobhan commented, perhaps I should wait to make any resolution until AFTER market next month.... Then there's the brand-new 1/2 yard of beautiful Lakeside Linen I received in the mail yesterday from Jan at Only One Ewe Needleworks. It's 40 ct. maritime white--just perfect for some future project. Hmmm. I wonder how le Marquoir de Justine would look on it. Or one of the Betsyes.

Anyway, here's some progress this week on "Christinia." Not a lot, since I'm working on a paper that I'm finishing up today. I'm itching to stitch, but I can't. And no cocktail of the day today either, since I can't afford to be muzzy-headed while I try to put a bunch of thoughts together in a coherent way.

And in my new approach to WIPs, I've taken this out of the WIP tub to stitch on a little: Praisworthy Stitches' "Lemon Tree Sampler."

This photo is for Diana, who is working through integrating a new bun into her household. Pink and Elvis weren't always friends. Elvis desperately wanted to be buddies--he wears his little heart on his sleeve, Elvis does--but Pink wasn't having it, and there was all kinds of strife including upending the smaller bunny, tearing his fur out in clumps and then peeing on him.

Look at them now. A three-pack, stuffed into a single sleep/cat litter box.

Happy week ahead, and remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!