December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas, All! I wanted to show you something that Sherry brought to the stitching party I attended. This little nativity is made by hand from wool felt, in Kyrgyzstan. There are lots of sheep in Kyrgyzstan and not lots of ways to make money, so these are a natural:

And a closer look:

Our Christmas was wonderful, although we missed my sister, Gilbert and my dad, who are on the Cape. We woke up late, and I made this for breakfast. It's a quiche loraine.

After we had breakfast we opened our gifts and played with our toys. (No, I didn't get anything needlework related from my family, who probably despair of finding anything for me that I don't have.)

Then I stitched, working on two Christmas starts. Full disclosure: I really started this a few days ago, because I wanted to show a little progress. As it is, Blogger insists on rotating the photo 90 degrees; mentally rotate it back counter-clockwise. It's the plus-sized Ann Dale by Shakespeare's Peddler. This sucker is going to take a long, long time to stitch, but I love the colors. I am not using the recommended Lakeside Pear. I don't care for pear--too green. Instead I'm using 40 count Picture This Plus in Legacy. The photo of the color is very accurate. I'm using the suggested silks.

So I also started something small and not quite so daunting: Ewe and Eye and Friends' Small Sampler #3. The sheep will have special stitches applied over their cross stitched bodies. Fun! I did a conversion to silk and I'm stitching on 40 count Lakeside in Sand Dune(?)

Some neighbors stopped by for a snack. There's something green in the little garden on the left that they love. They trotted off when I went out on the deck with my camera. Dash away, all!

I'm not sure what Peaches is doing with her leg here; I think she hoisted her foot onto Elvis' back so she could groom it and he very patiently allowed her to use him as a vanity stool.

I'm working at In Stitches tomorrow. Let's see what trouble I can get into. Better yet, give us a call and I'll help YOU get into trouble. You know there's SOMETHING you wanted that you didn't get!

Happy week ahead, and merry stitching!

December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

I got up very early to go to the grocery store by 6 a.m. because I hate crowds so much. It was interesting that so many people were on the interstate at that hour, heading for the malls, grandma's house and the woods. (I stopped for gas and the hunters were gassing up and buying breakfast sandwiches prior to going to sit in their tree stands or whatever they do; I could hear their hounds in the trucks.) After the grocery store, I stopped by Eileen's bakery for a cheddar/bacon/tomato/egg sandwich--delicious. Eileen's is in a former church, as you can probably tell.

Then, in the early morning quiet, I took some photos of window displays in Fredericksburg. This is in the antique shop window with all the little animals. The swan looks like he met up with our hunters, but he's swimming around successfully with two friends.

The kitchenware store had a bunch of little circus/carnival vignettes set up in the window. They were lit and moving in the dawn quiet.

I have to tell you about the stitching party hosted by Ellen, who owns In Stitches. Ellen has the most fabulous taste, and her home is a joy to behold--especially her finished stitching. Most of these charts are out of print, unfortunately. A tiny pillow:

Don't you love this Christmas design?

And this one, an OOP Prairie Schooler:

This looks like a Ewe and Eye and Friends design. Possibly not out of print (fun to find out).

We exchanged gifts. I lost the light today before I could show you everything I received, but look what Sherry knitted for me for my birthday. I absolutely adore them, and I think they're too beautiful to wear, almost: I want to show them off.

After my trip this morning I came home to put away the groceries and take a long nap and prepare dinner. The rabbits are having dandelions as a special addition to their Christmas Eve dinner.

See you tomorrow with my newest stitching start(s). Happy Christmas Eve!

December 18, 2011


Today I'm heading to a stitching party. Our instructions were to bring a hand-made gift (not necessarily stitched) to exchange. So I finished up these two designs by Marie Driskell: Rose Marie. You've been looking at one of them in my blog header for the last couple of weeks. Here are the finished designs. Next step is to cut and assemble. Yikes.

I spent some time at G Street fabrics in Rockville, selecting trims. Here I'm auditioning them. I eventually conclude they're all too elaborate and detract from the designs by making the ornaments too busy.

It's been so long since I used the sewing machine that I had to review the directions for threading it.

A little liquid courage: a caramel apple martini. Ingredients: Apple Pucker, caramel liqueur, sprite. With a cherry. I don't know the proportions, but I mean to find out. That will be this year's Christmas Dinner cocktail. It's a very smooth, sweet and tasty drink; we may experience Christmas dinner lying on the floor under the table while sharing a box of crackers.

The rabbits appear to share my anxiety: "Don't screw it up, Mom!"

A finish!

The crowd goes wild. These sheep were part of a large display of tiny antique animals in an antique shop window in Fredericksburg. I wanted to purchase all of them, including the little donkeys, cows, pigs and chickens. What fun to have a huge collection of these little guys on the mantel. Tom rolled his eyes when I pointed them out. "Goody, a new collection," he was heard to mutter.

Here's a photo of some of the animals (the camels are camera-shy):

Happy Week of Preparations ahead! I'll be back next Sunday with a Christmas start.

December 11, 2011


Greetings, All! I skipped the malls this weekend and stayed home to stitch. It's been ages since I've been able to do that for a full day, much less two. I'm thinking ahead to January, which for me will be a blend of old and new projects. I'm making my list (and checking it twice). Of course, I got so enthused about starting something new that I had to dig in, so here it is. Mystery project (unveiled in January), stitched on Maritime White Lakeside in 40 count, using AVAS from my stash. This is an old, old chart, which is still available. I call this pre-stitching, by the way. It's a monstrously large project too. I have several whopper projects scheduled for the New Year.

Next up is my old friend Sarah Hatton McPhail. She's coming along, but there's lots of stitching to be done yet, and she's pretty densely packed with stitches. I don't think that I'm going to be able to make the framing deadline (January 6) for entry of this project in the Woodlawn show. On the other hand, my contract job ends on December 23, so I have a couple of weeks to devote to it full-time, but given my interest in new starts and old re-starts, I doubt I'll make it. I'll be spending some time on Cape Cod in January with my dad, and I'm hoping to do some good beach-walking, trying new-to-me beaches in Chatham, Truro, Provincetown and Yarmouth. I love winter beaches, and I hope to be able to capture the charm of them to post alongside my stitching photos.

And what's Christmas without a little Christmas project? Here we have Cinnamon Stick Santa XXIII by Homespun Elegance, "Such Delight." I'm stitching it on a 32 count mystery linen from my stash using the called for DMC, GAST and Wisper fibers.

The Wisper is a lot of fun (it's the fuzzy brown strip to the right of Santa's shoes).

And speaking of fuzzy:

Happy week ahead!

November 27, 2011

Borrowed Light

Hi, all. I've had a nice opportunity to stitch this weekend, and here are some of the results: I've started Anniversaries of the Heart by Blackbird Designs. The colors are just beautiful, although to show you the stitching, I had to throw a little more light on the fabric, which has washed it out a bit. I'm working on 40 count Lakeside Meadow Rue using the recommended GAST, WDW and CC fibers. The first design is "Snow Garden," of course, perhaps containing the most subtle colors of the 19 designs (and the most problematic for choosing the right fabric). The bonus for working on this year-old series is that I know what it looks like finished up and what the bonus charts are. I'm interested in working on Margaret Cottom (La-d-Da), but I am being typically cautious and waiting to see the whole thing.

I visited with a stitching friend, who has completed this design: "Menagerie" by Drawn Thread. I'm using a piece of fabric from my stash--Lakeside, possibly Pecan Butter in 40 count, using the recommended NPI and Dinky Dyes fibers. The completed design is beautiful IRL, although the copied photo on the chart doesn't do it justice. Great charting though, which counts for a lot, but: Designers! Large clear photos sell more charts! Don't hide your light under a bushel--or a dimly copied or digitized cover!

I love the calming colors of these two projects. I've also spent the long weekend putting the finishing touches on a stitched or knitted gift (not tellin'!) for a needlework event I'm attending in December. I'll show photos after the recipient has had a chance to see it. Does it make you nervous to stitch for stitchers? I find myself looking at it more critically than I normally would. I'd hate for someone to look at my stitching/finishing and think: "Amateur. Perhaps you should take up bowling."

Lots of my neighbors have gotten busy with their Christmas lights already. This year I probably am not going to do much in that department, and I'll just enjoy theirs. We laughed last night about the wattage from across the street leaving burn marks on the outside of our house, but the display is well done and cheerful--borrowed light.

Here are the bunnies, having a conference through the bars.

November 20, 2011

A Little Stitching

Hi, all. Blogger--or my internet connection--is slow tonight, so just a quick post of what I've been working on this weekend. Although I'm back from the Cape, I'm trying to catch up with the cleaning, grocery shopping, spreadsheet for work and whatever else I'm supposed to be accomplishing. Hard to believe Thanksgiving is this week.

Dorothy Walpole: with my ongoing sadness and with the dull weather, the flowers on Dorothy were just what I needed.

This guy was a big help too. He inspected the luggage carefully, no doubt hoping for a treat, but also out of curiosity. Had I left it there long enough, he'd have crawled into it and nested in my clothing. I removed it, picturing doots hanging off my favorite sweaters when I put one of them on early in the morning. Not to worry, though. The treat is leaning against the wall; you can see a corner of it (timothy hay with "herbs": rose petals, rosemary and some other stuff that makes it fragrant.

It's nice to be back. Happy week ahead!

November 17, 2011

Thank you, Everyone

I want to thank all of you for your comforting and supportive comments and emails. My mom passed away peacefully in hospice care. Today was her funeral, and it was a beautiful service with hymns and a moving eulogy provided by the priest.

Afterwards there was the most fabulous luncheon, created and hosted by the kind ladies of the church. Those little sandwiches in the front are lobster salad rolls; and there were lots of other tidbits and treats, including crab-and-cheese appetizers, sweet breads, vegetables and dip and tons of desserts. Thank you to the wonderful women (and men) of Saint Barnabas who served a delectable and comforting lunch.

I'll be back Sunday. In the time between my mom's passing and her funeral, desperate for some cheer and normalcy, I started a bright, fun Christmas design. I'm also looking forward to going back to stitch nights at In Stitches.


November 04, 2011


Hi, all. I've missed posting here, but last Thursday I got the kind of phone call we all dread: my mom had collapsed at home and had been taken to the hospital. My sister and I rushed to Cape Cod to be with her and my dad.

She isn't going to make it, but we're spending as much time as we can with her at the hospital in Hyannis. She has a beautiful private room overlooking the harbor; we can see the boats going in and out. She would love the room if she were aware. The people at the hospital are the nicest, most competent, most compassionate professionals we've ever met, both in the ICU and in her current room. I can't believe how lucky we are to have received such treatment from such kind people.

Cape-themed art fills the walls of all of the floors, and I have spent some peaceful time gazing at the beautiful ceramics, paintings, weaving and photographs.

I have been working a little bit on Liz Easdon, on simple things that don't require much counting.

My parents' neighbors and friends, and the minister of their church have all been wonderful, and we're so grateful for everyone's kindness. I'm going to take a break from blogging, but I didn't want to just disappear.

Hug your moms.

October 16, 2011

Just One More Row: Ruthy and Mary Ann

Greetings, all! Do you suffer from "just one more...[row][stitch][thread]" syndrome? I do, consequently, I am not getting a lot done around the house, although Ruthy (and now Mary Ann) are profiting. If you're thinking of stitching Ruthy, she's very time-consuming, but a fun and absorbing stitch. She may have been stitched free-hand by the original stitcher, but you and I, if we want Ruthy to look as her picture does, are going to have to count and count and count. And outline. And stitch and stitch and stitch. And after an intensive week of this, you'll look at her and think simultaneously "ahhhhhh" and also "That's all I accomplished even though I haven't eaten a real lunch in days and haven't folded the laundry and gone grocery shopping so that we're down to eating Triscuits and cream cheese over the sink for dinner?"

I finally put Ruthy away. I was tired of outlining leaves and satin stitching them, and tireder still of the filling stem stitch. I wanted to cross stitch! So I pulled out Mary Ann Gollins and finished up the basket in the center of the row.

Here's most of what I've accomplished so far. There's a lot left to go. But after all of Ruthy's outlining and filling and counting, it feels like Mary Ann is flying. [Edited to add: I started Mary Ann Gollins early this year. I did a conversion to silks from what I had on hand: AVAS, NPI and a couple of Silk 'n Colors. I'm stitching her on 40 count Picture This Plus Legacy. I stopped because I suffered uncertainty and doubt about her colors. While the charting is fine, the photo of the finished project is not clear and so badly reproduced that even the colors are not a sure thing. Added to which, the called for fibers are Madeira, so in order to do the conversion I had to find a conversion from Madeira to DMC then to silk, and I limited myself to what was in my stash since I wasn't working at the time. So I was left feeling uneasy about my choices, although I've decided to just get on with it, since in the end, who's going to know? For me, indecision=paralysis, and not just in needlework.]

Off I go to get some chores done and then go back to stitching...something.

Pink: "And spend some time with the bunnies."

Happy week ahead!

October 09, 2011

Specialty Stitches

Greetings, all! A couple of ladies have arrived: Ruthy Rogers and Anne Anthony. Ruthy is going to be a huge challenge, but I think she's going to be well worth it. I am stitching Ruthy using 36 count Lakeside vintage examplar and AVAS. Scarlet Letter samplers generally don't specify a fabric, and I had a hard time deciding between examplar and tundra (which is a gray/green/blue, if you're not familiar with it). It's almost beside the point since most of the sampler is covered in stitches, except for the border.

We got into a scuffle right out of the package. I'm determined to do this sampler as the original was done, using the filling stem stitches. They add a texture and interest you simply will not get from cross stitches. Although this sampler can be done in all cross stitch, I don't recommend it. I think something will be lost--the lovely crayon-y, naive folky look. Plus you'd have to be willing to do quarter and half stitches. But my initial stab at the filling stems was not encouraging. Note this closeup of my first attempt. Disappointingly sparse. You can see the outline stitch and the fabric between the lines. The photo of the stitched sampler shows lush, full stitching. I didn't want my stitches to look like a bad comb-over with scalp showing through. Hmmm.

So I continued stitching the counted part of the sampler with one thread and doubled the thread on the filling stem sections. Ahhhh--much better. Plus, it has the added bonus of filling it faster. A couple of cautionary words, though: in order not to go astray, you need to outline each of the motifs to be stem-stitched; and you really need to follow the directions in terms of stitching the counted cross stitch sections first. They will serve as kind of a frame or scaffolding, so that you can attach the stem-stitched sections; otherwise you will not be able to count accurately. I will stitch a section of cross stitches, then add the stem-stitches sections to vary things, and will move through the chart that way. One of the fun aspects of the stem stitches is that they don't head off in a consistent direction. The chart shows the direction they're stitched. The end result will look like random fill-in, which after the nice predictability of our normal, neat cross stitching, goes "against the grain."

Taking a step back to see more of the design:

I'm still working diligently on Sarah Hatton McPhail.

She has specialty stitches too. From the top: the first row is a row of long-arm crosses in a tan color, over-stitched with blue diagonal stitches and finished with a stem stitch in gold above and below the crosses; the script alphabet is cross-stitched in blue and then those stitches are four-sided stitched over in gold floss (blue and pink in the top row that I haven't stitched yet); the next row down is a series of long-arm crosses; beneath that are capital letters in tan four-sided stitch; then below that are gold rice stitches outlined on two sides with blue.

Anne Anthony arrived in all her splendor. I subbed out the linen for Lakeside Pecan Butter in 40 count. Those little over-one people are going to be a bear to stitch, I imagine.

I spotted Carriage House's "Noah" stocking at In Stitches. I've been meaning to start it forever, so I picked it up (along with the "Virtuous Woman" stocking). No specialty stitches, although I'm sure the finishing will be a challenge.

Forty count Lakeside (Examplar) using NPI as charted. The coat's a snooze, but I'm looking forward to getting to the animals.

I got this out again. I stopped it because I wasn't fond of the over-one coverage on 32 count, but really, I think it looks all right. So I re-kitted it, having cannibalized the threads. One problem--I had not noticed when I stitched it previously that the yellow capital letters should be rice stitches. I really like rice stitches, and I think these letters would look better done that way. Trying to decide whether to take them out and re-do, or just leave and continue with cross stitches. Oh well, not fatal either way.

Here we have a nice example of a bunny loaf. Peaches: "I am not loafing!"

May your week have ample opportunity for loafing and stitching!