January 30, 2011

Ear-ology* and Audiology

(*Thank you, Diana, for that term!)

Greetings, all! I've spent an unpleasant week with my databases and my accounting class projects with only a few minutes stolen here and there for stitching. After tomorrow, I'm stitching my butt off (and maybe even going to the grocery store and running the vaccuum). Since it's been dark and gloomy, I got out something fresh-looking that I haven't worked on for a few months: Ann Smith by the Scarlet Letter. I'm working on it with the called-for AVAS and using LL's 40 count Magnolia. This may be my brightest sampler--the Magnolia is intensely bright cream, and in fact, so assertively bright that although the color is nice, I don't think it would work as a neutral for a lot of samplers. This sampler has a ton of over-one stitching, including the whole center panel of Adam and Eve, the serpent and the tree, so I'm looking forward to working on it during the day when I can make some headway, since probably a quarter of the sampler is stitched over one thread.

I want to get going on some of these over-one samplers, since I don't figure my laser close-up vision is going to last forever. My hearing's going, especially in places with lots of background noise, like large noisy restaurants, but given the choice, like a lot of stitchers I suspect, I'd take my vision over my hearing any day. I attribute my hearing loss to loud music and to heredity (my grandmother hated her hearing aids and used to leave them off, especially when they squealed, as they frequently did; and my mother has new all-digital very expensive hearing aids that she doesn't wear either--who knows why although she's told me she is not fond of the little voice in them that tells her things--and I figure I'm headed the same way. The little voice, by the way, is real: I've heard it. It announces things like a battery change being necessary; it does not instruct her to take an axe to her family while they sleep and it does not relay messages from the government. (As far as I know.) Well! SOMEONE has had too much caffeine today!

In between creating lookup lists and defining multi-field primary keys in my dabase projects, I have had ample opportunity to surf the web, ogle your projects and think of new charts that I need. The kind ladies at In Stitches are probably tired of hearing from me this week; at each new online discovery I'd call up and request that they add the chart to my towering pile, to be retrieved by me next week (oh heavenly day).

Here's one of my new-start whims: The Hunt by Linda McNally of Homespun Samplar. The project calls for GAST Brethren Blue on 32 count Autumn Fields Vintage Linen by Zweigart, but I am stitching it using an unlabeled overdyed silk from my stash and 36 count Picture This Plus in Legacy also from my stash. This is a fun stitch that will be easy to finish.

Speaking of ears, watch Peaches' ears in the next photos. She's speaking with them.

Translation: happy week ahead!

January 23, 2011

Sampler Sunday

Not a lot of time for stitching this past week and next; my classes are finishing up on the 31st, so it's crunch time for all those assignments I procrastinated on during Christmas, the flu and most of all, during the 15-start challenge. I haven't even had time to go to the needlework shop to poke around and pick up the wonderful charts I've ordered. So here's the little bit I accomplished on the Gingham Dog:

And a little more on Ann Rayner:

"You'd better get back to work instead of frittering away time on the Internet!"

Happy week!

January 16, 2011

Love the One You're With

A few of you asked what my favorite new/old projects were and what I intended to stitch first. My answer would have to be "it depends..." I've never been a fan of a rotation; when I'm ready to stitch, I like to poke around through my treasures and select what appeals to me on any given day. I tend to lose interest in a project temporarily after about three weeks of concentrated stitching, and because I have so many WIPs (many more than I showed you during the challenge), it might be a long time before I return to a project that I've set aside. Also, some of you hooted at my classification of the last two snow projects as "small." To me, jumbo, large, medium, small and tiny relate not only to the stitch count or dimensions of the finished work, but how dense the stitching is, how many color changes there are, and how complex the stitches are (more and more designers are adding speciality stitches--have you noticed?). It's relative--I've got about 30 WIPs going--so I do my mental scale related to my other projects.

Here are the three I'm concentrating on right now, with before and after photos. My very favorite "large" project is Ann Rayner. Here's the before, where I left off on Friday.

And Ann Rayner today.

My current "medium/large"--Sous le Soleil as I left off Friday:

Sous le Soleil today:

The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat (small/medium) Friday:

And the Gingham Dog today:

Sunday salad. We've been doing well with our salads. My goal is for us to eat more good salads and also consume all the stuff we buy so that we're not wasting food by having it turn into jelly in the crisper. Last night was the end of most of it, so I combined what was left--romaine, some radishes, sunflower seeds, a few Kalamata olives and slivers of red onion--and then made homemade blue cheese dressing with the leftover blue cheese from the salad earlier in the week. This is not low-fat blue cheese dressing, but a little goes a long way and if you eat it, you will never buy that bottled stuff, with its preservatives, uniform, stamped-out "chunks" of blue cheese and pourability again. This is the real deal: stuff that has to be spooned onto your salad. (1/2 c. of mayo, 1/4 c. of buttermilk, 2 tbsp. of sour cream, 3 tbsp of olive oil, 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of sugar, pepper to taste. Wisk those until smooth, then gently fold in 4 oz of crumbled blue cheese. Allow to chill for several hours to let the flavors develop, but you can eat it right away also.)

Elvis loves to snuggle,and here Pink seems to be using Elvis as a Pillow Pet.
It's a sleepy Sunday here--cold and sunny out. I think I'll stitch a little more!

Oh, to answer a couple questions I've been asked: the banner photo is the upper left-hand corner of "Christinia Cathcart." And the cats and the bunnies get along fine--mostly they ignore each other's existence. At night when I let them out of their room to run around while I clean their cages and floor, they're on the loose with the cats. Occasionally Peaches and Chester will engage in a game of chase and a nose bump or two, but mostly they pay no attention to each other. I've seen Elvis lying calmly next to Yazziebear under the bed nearly touching.

See you later in the week--perhaps with a new start!?

January 14, 2011

15a. Winter and 15b. Winter Row

Number 15 is a two-fer because they're small. Cricket Collection's Winter: I am stitching this on 40 count Picture This Plus in some sort of blue from my stash, using the recommended DMC.

My blue is a little lighter than the recommended fabric, which on the model photo is R&R Reproductions "Morning Fog," and I was a little concerned about the white floss showing up, but I think it's ok.

I picked up Winter Row at In Stitches based on their model, which was stitched and framed without all the buttons. (Everything pictured on the chart which is not in these four colors of floss are buttons!) It does look more sampler-y without the buttons, but I might add a few: a little red cardinal, the two black birds and the hat and mittens on the right-hand snowman. I'm stitching it on 36 count Americana blend seen here using WDW and GAST threads.

This concludes my 15 crazy January starts/re-starts! I was going to continue to number 17 but then figured I could show you those down the road. I've been spending lots of time with this project, as have the rest of our Crazy January stitching bloggers. I've enjoyed the heck out of it, but it has pointed out to me the crummy way I have my supplies organized. Things are scattered everywhere, and I had to scramble to find all the parts and pieces. Right now I'm missing a chart (so annoying, since I bought the buttons, beads and floss for it in order to start it). Oh well, it will turn up soon, and I certainly don't lack for things to do. In fact, I could show you four or five big WIPs (and will in the coming weeks) along with another project or two I'd like to start. I am pleased that I was able to purchase minimal supplies to do this challenge--a couple of charts, some fibers, and a piece or two of fabric.

Peaches: "Do you have time for us now?"

Back to regular posting on Sunday--see you then!

January 13, 2011

14. Catherine Metcalf

Hi, everyone! Catherine Metcalf, from the Scarlet Letter, is #14 on my list. While I doubt I can truly finish this sampler this year, I can certainly give it a good try. I truly enjoy working on it, and there are so many different elements, it shouldn't get too boring. I love the spotty cow, and the flock of little (sheep? lambs? four-legged birds?) on the grounds of the very nice estate. The border is even not too large, so it is not as time-consuming as some SL sampler borders.

I like that the chart is bound as a booklet, and the instructions are very clear. I'm stitching it on 40 count LL (navy bean?) using the recommended AVAS threads, although the chart gives the DMC numbers as well.

Here's the rabbit bunch, having a little snack. This food isn't terribly good for them--I expect it's rabbit junk food--but mostly they live on timothy hay and fresh greens, so a little doesn't hurt. And they love it.

See you tomorrow. Tomorrow's project is brand-new and also smallish, so I'm thinking, since I post on Sundays anyway, that I'll just continue through the week and end with #17.

January 12, 2011

13. Sous le Soleil de la Lune

Today's restarted WIP is Sous le Soleil de la Lune by Reflets de Soie. I'm stitching it on 40 count LL in maritime white, and it's working up so beautifully I can hardly believe I stopped stitching on it. I know what happened though: it is charted for Gloriana silks with AVAS and DMC as substitutions. I bought the AVAS, but I got a few of the Gloriana, which made the project come to a screeching halt, because the Gloriana colors were so much better, and really better suited to the project. (See the Glorianas on the bottom of the photo?) The problem was that I had already bought the AVAS and Gloriana fibers are about twice as expensive. What to do? While I mulled it over, I set the project aside, not wanting to stitch too much into the territory that I could cover with Gloriana silks. In the meantime, I started stitching on first one thing, then another, and before I knew it, SlSdlL was at the bottom of the project pile. Sad.

This photo doesn't do it justice. So I made a stitchy decision as I worked on the border this morning. I love the purples and the lavenders and I've already started the border and the cartouche in the middle. Those I'll leave alone, but where there are flowers with specialty stitches or large expanses of stitching (the roof of the house, the walls and the lawn), I'll add two or three of the Glorianas to my project bag. Solution!

Speaking of which, is anyone going to the l'aiguille en fete in Paris next month? During my last hiatus from work about five years ago, I went to Paris in February, not knowing that I could have gone to the show! I explored and toured and had an overall blast. I really should not be thinking about doing this, but I so badly want to go, and I've got my eye on the fares--this is a great, cheap time of year to go usually. I stay in a little inexpensive, very French hotel in the 6th, and I eat food from the grocery store (so much better than U.S. stores--my God, the yogurt, the cheese, the cold cuts) or inexpensive cafes and bakeries, and I get around on the Metro, so my expenses are minimal. So tempting to go to the show.... One should not use one's limited funds for frivolous travel, should one? On the other hand, life is short, and memory is long... [Edited to add, after researching ticket prices--nah. Not unless there are any last-minute deals. Ditto on the hotel. At the moment things are a bit pricey. So I'll wait and watch, and look at the weather and BF's own travel schedule, and we'll see. There are worse things than staying home to stitch, after all! But my two fondest memories, aside from visiting some wonderful needlework shops, eating fabulous meals and buying groceries at Bon Marche, were visiting the pet shops along the Seine, with the most amazing array of animals, including enormous pet rabbits and the open air fruit/vegetable/meat/seafood market I visited just as it began to snow huge lazy flakes.]

Elvis needs a haircut today!

See you tomorrow!

January 11, 2011

12. Dorothy's Garden

Today's project is a WIP from way back: "Dorothy's Garden," by A Stitcher's Hands. I'm stitching it on a 32 count mystery fabric--I'll have to go back and look at what it is, because it feels rich and creamy [edited to add that it's 34 count Legacy linen in cafe au lait]--using the recommended AVAS. I have enoyed working on it, but I got bored because it's almost completely symmetrical, so I set it aside once I'd completed (nearly) one side. I'd actually forgotten it completely until Michelle mentioned that I had worked on a project called Dorothy's Garden, and I claimed no knowledge of it whatsoever. Sad! My apologies for the creases--it's been folded in its project bag for quite a while, and I don't iron unless really necessary.

This is slated to be a 2011 finish; it's really nice to work on, and all those roses are just beautiful close-up.

A photo of last night's salad: I got the recipe from the huge collection of Cooking Light recipes published in book form. The salad is composed of torn greens (I used Boston and romaine lettuces) and the top portion is a mixture of apples (granny smith and pink lady), an ounce of blue cheese crumbled, 2 pieces of bacon crumbled, and a dressing of lemon juice (I used myer lemons, which are a bit sweeter), honey and a tiny bit of olive oil. The lemon juice keeps the apples from discoloring, and the honey makes the dressing adhere and keeps it from being too tart. We're going to try lots of adventurous salads--I'm guilty generally of stocking a head or bag of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and carrots and putting together the same tossed salad time after time. Who wants to eat or make that over and over. So I resolved to find new things to make, which required a visit to our local Wegmans store, which has great produce. It's where I also bought the dandelion greens for the bunnies. The dandelion greens are huge--I can only imagine how large the flowers are--and I haven't seen them in a store until yesterday when I shopped in the produce section (although I've seen them on other bunny blogs), picking among the more exotic stuff. Coming up in the salad department will be a Thai steak salad and a grapefruit-avocado-seafood salad.

I need to get out and exercise. Pink is providing me with a convenient excuse not to go out by chewing my laces. For whatever reason, he chews the end caps off all my laces. He doesn't swallow the caps--just drops them on the floor. I keep my really good running/walking shoes locked away from his little teeth.

Happy snow day to those of you who got the storm (it seems to be largely missing us), and see you tomorrow!

January 10, 2011

11. Mary Western 1820

Coming down the home stretch on the "15," and this week I'll have all large sampler projects I think. A few will be starts, and a few will be WIPs. Here's a WIP that I've enjoyed a lot: Mary Western 1820 by Samplers Revisited. I've gotten to the little striped, crested bird, although I haven't stitched his feet or crest yet. I'm stitching the sampler in the recommended NPI threads on 40 count LL in maritime white.

I love how clearly this sampler is charted, and it's a pleasure to work on the motifs.

I went grocery shopping today for salad stuff and brought back dandelion greens for the buns. They were so excited that Pink yanked the paper towel they were served on and tossed it over Elvis, who just continued calmly munching on his greens.

See you tomorrow with another large sampler--I'm off to make a salad for the humans!

January 09, 2011

10. Ann Rayner

Happy Sunday! It's cold and blustery here, and I can't think of a better thing to do than sit in the sunlight streaming into my family room and stitch. Later on we have some errands to run and we may have dinner out somewhere featuring a salad while actually sitting down in a restaurant, and not in a car--although--am I the only one who enjoys eating in my car? (Not while I'm blasting through traffic, but parked in the sun, watching the various other patrons coming and going while listening to the radio.) Anyway, in order to rev up our nutrition, I'm thinking of instituting an occasional salad photo featuring interesting salads with homemade dressings. Maybe that will spur me on to make the effort in the same way that posting pictures of my needlework progress actually drives that progress. I've had random cravings lately for grapefruit and for avocados (and not just the kind that come threaded on Gentle Art cards). Maybe we should each have a 15-salad challenge (not one a day, but occasionally)?

Meet Ann Rayner, by Threads Through Time. I purchased this chart some time ago, when the TTT charts were re-released. There are others that I mean to get to someday, should I live long enough. Other stitchers have recently stitched Ann (including Tanya and Kim), and I love the variations in the colors, which depend on the threads and fabric the stitcher chooses. Ann is charted for DMC, but I did a conversion mostly out of my stash, to AVAS. I'm using 40 count LL vintage buttercream. It's hard to tell from my sunny-day photo, but the fabric is pinker and yellower than this shows, and is nicely mottled.

The photo of this sampler from the 'net shows lots of red and a warmer palette. The photo on the chart (however blurry) shows lighter/brighter shades, so I'm headed toward bluer blues, pinker pinks, while keeping the intense reds. Slightly springier, especially considering the lambs at the bottom of the design.

Elvis says he's dressed for spring.

See you tomorrow!

January 08, 2011

9. Lil Bo Peep Samplar

Hard to believe another sampler--and another day--has rolled around again. I went to In Stitches today to order a couple of charts (wait 'til you see! but I'll wait until I have the charts in hand to show you a good photo) and to kit up a large-ish project that I'll start for this challenge, so stitching time was limited. Today's sampler is Lil Bo Peep Samplar by Little by Little. I'm stitching it on a bit of mystery LL in a darkish color (Examplar maybe?) using overdyed threads. Here's the problem: I don't know which overdyeds I used exactly--my project bag seems to have disappeared, and of course, I didn't note the conversion on my chart. So I'll have to do the best I can to match them so I can start it again.

The drive-through finally yielded a bunny last night, and he's sitting with a second bunny that Patricia got for me, and a unicorn that Radonda picked up. Thank you so much, ladies, for adding to my menagerie.

The needlework shop was busy today, I suspect because stitchers are hearing the rumors about the possible 6-12" snow storm coming our way. It has gotten very cold out and I told the rabbits that anyone going out should be sure to wear a muffler.

Pink: "Peaches, a muffler is a scarf, not a bunny sitting on your face!"

See you tomorrow with the newest big sampler project maybe!

January 07, 2011

8. Whale Hunting

Afternoon, all! Obviously, this is a WIP--even though I stayed up late stitching last night (I was uneasy because I kept hearing gunfire in the woods somewhere not too far away; I hope my deer friends are all accounted for today. Really--who fires a gun in the woods at 1 a.m. in the suburbs?) I have been working on this gem for several years, and I've determined that this is going to be the year for a finish and framing. This is "Whale Hunting" by Elizabeth Talledo of Finger Work. I'm stitching it on some sort of gray linen that seems to be about 36 count--or maybe 34. [Edited to add that I looked back through the blog, and I've been working on it since the late summer of 2006, and the linen is 34 count Legacy in Puritan Gray.] If I had it to do over, I'd choose a nice Picture This linen in 40 count in a mottled gray. I'm using the recommended fibers: GAST and WDW. This was stitched back before I realized that you should really cross one stitch at a time with overdyed threads, but I think it's turning out ok, and I won't change my approach on the final sections or I think it would look weird. The colors in the photo of my stitched work are right on target.

All in all, I'm happy with it--the design is great and charted really well. My only slight complaint is that when I bought it, I had expected colors that were a bit brighter, but I'm not unhapy with the result. I put it aside only because I was a little tired of it and because something else called to me. I purchased some new threads and it feels new again to me.

Pink, getting a little exercise. Like a lot of bunny owners, I'd love to catch him on "film" doing a binky, but it hasn't happened yet. Of course, as he tore by me, he binkied 360 degrees and I missed capturing it. (For those who are not bunny owners, binkies are when a rabbit expresses joy? playfulness? pent-up energy? by jumping and twisting in the air for no particular reason. There are some cute examples on Youtube.)

I'm paying a little visit to my friends at In Stitches tomorrow; who knows what trouble I may get into. Stay tuned!

January 06, 2011

7. Shepard Care Sampler

Today's restart is "Shepard Care Sampler" by Little by Little. I'm stitching it on 40 count Lakeside in Autumn Gold. I had started it on 36 count Picture This, but the sheep weren't showing up and the coverage wasn't ideal, so this is a restart, even though I like the PTP fabric. No matter, I can use it for something else. It is charted for DMC, but I did a conversion to NPI. It will be nice to move it out of my work basket--I like the design and especially the sheep.

"Shepherd" is spelled wrong, and I thought about correcting it, but it kind of tickled me to leave "Shepard" in; I have spent many hours Shepardizing legal cases.

There is no drive-through pet today; BF is off at a meeting out of town, and there may be some snow on the way back, so we switched cars. I don't drive his car if I don't have to, though--cue the music from "Feris Bueller's Day Off"--I'm rusty at driving a stick shift and the car is special to him, so it will stay parked safely in the garage and I will happily occupy myself with movies and stitching. Oh yeah, and housework and schoolwork.

Pink is worried today about Gus, who is going to the vet for possible stasis treatment. Get well soon, Gus!

See you tomorrow!

January 05, 2011

6. Charlotte Clayton Sampler

This is Charlotte Clayton, which I purchased several years ago and started on a darker 32 count linen. I later regretted that, because I felt that the fibers (NPI) didn't give good enough coverage over one. I had gotten far enough--a few major motifs--to feel too discouraged to start it again right away. It seems I need a cooling-off period. Now I'm stitching it on 40 count navy bean LL. Even though it's a restart, it feels new; I started it in a new place on the chart, and the color and count of the linen are very different.

Here's what the original sampler looked like, although the designer doesn't show you the stitched reproduction. I wish the designers would show us both versions of a sampler repro. For a really nice completed Charlotte, see Margaret's.

Today's drive-through critter is "Papa Elephant." Still no bunnies where I live, although I am hearing reports of them in other towns in Virginia (Patricia at In Stitches called to report she got one today in Alexandria) and in other parts of the country.

"I'm a little concerned about the toy bunny situation here."

See you tomorrow with another new start!