Friday, January 16, 2015

Gifted Gorgeousness

Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and is a way to show the folks that have gifted us with stitching goodness that it is appreciated. I have two pieces right now that fit the criteria Shakespearean Fantasy and Holly and Hearts Sampler. You may have a strange sense of deja vu (I know there's a way to get accent marks but am short of time this morning) reading this post as the photos are exactly the same as my last. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of stitching happening here in the meadow this week.

I'll start with Holly and Hearts Sampler as it is the oldest. It's from Lizzie*Kate and was her mystery sampler late in 2013. The Hubs bought it for me for our anniversary last year. I started it right away (You do have to reward good behavior if you want it to continue don't you?) and am hoping to finish it within the next week or so. Right now, it is a little further than this (my camera battery is recharging so no new photo):

Shakespearean Fantasy was a RAK from Pull the Other Thread and brightened up my recovery from surgery immensely. I started it January 1st and got this done:

 I hope to spend some time with it this afternoon, but DFIL is in the hospital so in addition to a visit, we are needed for dog/cat/bird duty as well as errands and chauffeuring DMIL.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January YOTA

It's YOTA time!! What!? You don't know YOTA? It's a fun, non-stress SAL hosted by Pull the Other Thread. Just focus on stitching, and maybe finishing, some of those WIPs that may be plaguing you and post on the first Saturday of the month, what could be easier? Yes, I know this isn't the first Saturday in January, but check-in was pushed back a week due to the holidays and all the craziness that can be associated with them. We will be back to the regular schedule next month.

I don't have a lot of show this month. I had huge plans to work on Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler Thursday, Friday and today, but I kept finding other things to do. I tend to do that a lot - get close to a finish and then dawdle around, find other things to do, start something new or just plain ignore it - I am going to push through that and finish this one.  I did almost get the snowflake band done though:

So what did I find to do other than work on this? Cleaned out the linen cupboard, fixed the cat's scratch posts, started a small (no pictures yet) and added another color to Christmas Presence. As I was working through that color, I found that I could not, despite my best intentions, continue to work on the Cashel, the slubs and inconsistency of fiber were not making for a fun stitch and if it isn't fun, why do it?  Fortunately, it hasn't been that long since I put away the Jobelan that I cut the piece for Shakespearean Fantasy from, so out it came and two pieces - one for Christmas Presence and one for Santa and the Mouse were cut off. I did the gridding and restarted CP yesterday afternoon and by 9:00 last night was back to where I had been plus a little bit (again, excuse the ratty ends).

The stitching is much easier and looks so much better (at least to me) - lesson learned.

 Hopefully next month I will have more progress to show.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January WIPocalypse

Well, this one snuck up on me! I guess I am only a few days late and I do have an excuse in that I went back to work on Monday, but it is not boding well for my resolution.

WIPocalypse Button is hosted by Melissa at Measi's Musings and is a low stress SAL designed to help work through the stack of WIPs that seem to plague many stitchers. I have been participating in this SAL since 2012 and it has really helped me focus on not just my WIPs but my stash in general. This month's topic is to introduce ourselves, what projects we're working on and any goals we have.  A good part of me is listed up there in the "about me" block. I do live in central Virginia - if you are familiar with the area I am almost exactly half-way between Richmond and Fredericksburg - and work in Washington, DC. Because of that commute (which takes about 2-1/2 hours between driving, walking, waiting and train riding), I don't have a lot of stitching time during the week - I used to stitch on the train, but it has gotten too crowded to do it comfortably. My schedule is changing a bit this year as I will be working from home three days a pay period (covers two weeks) and have every other Friday off, so I am hoping that once I get settled into it, my stitching time will increase. I am fortunate that I have almost the entire weekend for stitching during the winter - it's just The Hubs and me so I don't have to worry about ferrying children hither, tither and yon, a regular feeding schedule or a lot of housework (although we do seem to have an awful lot of dirty dishes for just two people). We do have a boat that lives in Virginia Beach, so summer weekends are not as available but I deal with it okay. I have been stitching for as long as I can remember. I started with lacing cards and worked into surface embroidery, candlewicking and crewel. I dipped into needlepoint for a while but one evening my mother asked if I had ever tried counted cross stitch. As I hadn't and she said I should - well that was the start of all this craziness. I have a habit of picking BAP or HAP (big a$$ projects and hug a$$ projects respectively) and don't stitch as fast as I think I do, hence the 27 WIPs and 5 project rotation (although some of that is attributable to stitcher's ADD). I also do a lot of reading (my Kindle is my best friend), paper crafting and have just started back into knitting and quilting - because I didn't have enough to fill my time.

I currently have eight pieces on my WIPocalypse list, they are all listed with current photos in the WIPocalypse &YOTA project list and 2015 stitching plans tab up top. I would like to finish or make significant progress on all of them. I think I will be able to finish: Santa's Magic, Secret Victorian Garden, Holly and Hearts Sampler, Spring in the Air, Christmas Presence and Santa and the Mouse. Finishing Elegant Doily is a possibility this year but not one that I am making any bets on and Shakespearean Fantasy will be a finish in 2025 or so.

As it has worked for me in the past, I will continue with my rotation, although I may go OAAT (one at a time) as I get close enough to a finish that I don't want to stop stitching a piece.  So, the plan for 2015 is:


One week, Saturday through Friday, for each piece.  The HAEDs will be stitched on my compressed Fridays rotating amongst themselves. Sunday mornings will be reserved for smalls or ornament stitching.

Upon completion:
  • Secret Victorian Garden will be replaced with a randomly drawn Chatelaine WIP
  • Holly and Hearts  will be replaced with Ink Circles' 99 (I promised DNephew)
  • Santa's Magic will be replaced by Lavender & Lace's Santa of the Forest and then Mirabilia's Winter White Santa (I am not sure if this slot will become a random Christmas one or disappear)
  • Spring in the Air will be replaced with a randomly drawn Just Nan
  • Elegant Doily will be replaced with a randomly drawn WIP
  • There is no replacement plan for the HAEDs. As Santa and the Mouse and Christmas Presence are finished their time will be devoted to Shakespearean Fantasy.
If you stuck with me through that - thank you. Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler is on the frame for the rest of this week and will probably be my first OAAT stitch this year - I am close enough to a finish that some dedicated time will get me there, possibly early this weekend.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

HAED Starts and Progress

Oh my, these charts could quickly become an obsession. I started two Heaven and Earth Designs (HAED) projects, Shakespearean Fantasy and QS Christmas Presence. I have been fascinated by HAED charts for years and have three in my stash, but never got up the nerve to start them. I am really not sure what scared me from starting, they are full crosses so not technically difficult and I have stitched pieces with more colors, but there is a mystique about them on the interweb so maybe I just bought into that.

Anyway, I finished gridding for Shakespearean Fantasy and set it aside to start QS Christmas Presence. I found this chart while reading around the HAED bulletin board - I happened to be accepted at just the right time as sign-ups for the 2015 Freebie SAL were happening. We had the choice of four patterns and when I saw

I knew I had to participate. There are four pages. I don't remember the exact mailing schedule, but I think the last one will be sent in June. Fortunately, there isn't a requirement to finish a page to get the next one, but I think a 2015 finish is possible. I stitched for about three hours Saturday morning and got this much done:

I am stitching one-over-one with full crosses on 28-count Platinum Cashel. All those ratty ends around the edge are away knots or ends that will be cut off as the threads on the back are covered by subsequent colors. I have learned a lesson already, I don't care for this style of stitching on linen-type fabrics. The threads are too inconsistent so the stitches are inconsistent. On a normal project that isn't a problem but with the full coverage stitching like this, it makes a huge difference. I will finish this one and the other smaller one I have ready to go on the same fabric, but will not use it in the future.

Around noon I switched over to Shakespearean Fantasy.  Here is a photo of the fully gridded piece:

Fabric for Shakespearean Fantasy, 28-count Antique White Jobelan, fully gridded for stitching one-over-one
The blue lines are page lines, the gold lines are block lines (10x10). While it took me a long time to do, it was definitely worth every minute. I can leave and come back and know exactly where I am and it is very easy to stitch cross country (all of one color in a defined area) and as more colors are introduced I think they will be invaluable. I got this much done in about five hours of stitching:

There are scattered dark navy blue (DMC 939) stitches on page on 1 and 2, in order for them to not be missed as I stitch the yards and yards of black, I started that color first and stitched all of them for those pages (and a little bit of page 3). I am highly doubting that those individual stitches will show up on the finished piece, but they are there so they must make a difference (somehow). Because there is so much black (41 skeins to be exact) I am stitching one color, then doing a length of black, then the next color, a length of black, and repeat.  I know if I try to stitch all the black at once (that little rectangle is about 600 stitches) that I will get bored and frustrated and this will become a UFO and I don't want that. Again, the ratty ends are away knots and thread ends that will be buried later. The longer pieces wound on the bobbin are parked threads on page 7 (there are 60 pages in total).

Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler will be going on the frame later today. The stitches are going to look HUGE when compared to these two but will be a nice change.  I may push this one though to a finish but will see how I feel come Saturday when it is time to change again.

Friday, January 2, 2015

First Post of 2015

I love blog reading this time of year - it is great to see what everyone accomplished in 2014 and their plans for 2015 - it is inspiring and enabling at the same time. I always see something that I haven't seen before and of course I just *have* to have it! Fortunately, Stitch From Stash started yesterday, so I am held in check for a while.

I have joined a couple SALs, A New Stitchy Start and Crossed Stitches' 2015 HAP SAL, that ask us to show our starting point on January 1st. Well I missed the 1st but where I am today is pretty much where I was yesterday. For the majority of my current pieces, you can see their current state in the "WIPocalypse & YOTA Project List and 2015 Stitching Plan" tab up top; however, Shakespearean Fantasy only shows the cover photo, so here is where it was yesterday:

Yes, I am still gridding. The piece is HUGE (450X867) with lots of confetti stitching, so gridding made sense, but it has taken a while. No, I don't have any time estimate as I do a bit here and there as I can and a few hours each night (thank goodness for audio books as watching TV is out). To try to keep some order, the vertical threads are wound, by page, on bobbins. I do a side bar's length at a time and then do the horizontal ones. In a previous post I showed the piece with all the marking pins:

The ones across the top worked perfectly; however, the ones along the side just got in the way, so out came all the yellow ones. I left in the blue (page length) ones that were contained within the area. That worked perfectly and also gave a very doable goal. I have found the whole process very relaxing and should have the gridding done this afternoon and hopefully some actual stitches in tonight.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Final Smalls Check-in and a 2014 Recap

Another year of stitching (and other things) is gone. I am not sure how I feel about 2014. The last three months will define the year for me, but other than that short burst of craziness, it was a pretty ordinary year.

Before I get too far into talking about my 2015 stitching plans, I need to finish one last bit of 2014's. My December Smalls SAL check-in. I had a good month and finished two! Both are from Shepherd's Bush's She Tends leaflet.

His Flock

Tender Care
And because I am still having a great time with PicMonkey's collaging program, here are all my 2014 Smalls finishes:

Column one (top to bottom): Peppermint Twist; Snowy Pines; Frosty Flakes; Winter Sheep (all by Little House Needleworks) and Fondant Icing by the Nutmeg Company. Column two: Tall Flowers by Just Nan; All is Calm, Joy to the World and Red House in Winter by Little House Needlework. Column three: She Tends, Garden Fair, His Flock and Tender Care by Shepherd's Bush
In addition to the smalls, I finished these three for a total of 16 finishes in 2014.

Enchanted Swan by Just Nan; Three Tulips by With Thy Needle and Thread; and, Strawberry Summer by Just Nan
Given my limited stitching time, I am very happy with those numbers and best of all they were all stitched from stash, except for Three Tulips which was a gift.

By this time last year I had signed up for eight SALs. My New Year's resolution was to keep up with all of them. Even though none of the SALs was high pressure, I knew it would be a bit of a push to post for every one every month. The one I missed posting to most frequently International Hermit and Stitch (IHSW) hosted by Joysze at Random Ramblings was the one that should have been the easiest to keep up with as it requires you to sit and stitch for the weekend and post about it. Really very simple and I am sure I stitched most of those weekends but must have forgot to post. Overall I am pleased with how well I did keep up with all of the SALs and....(a perfect segue into 2015's plans)

For 2015 I have, despite telling myself that I need to cut way back on SALs, again signed up for eight - WIPocalpyse, YOTA, Stitch from Stash A (there are two 6-month SALs), DESIGN, A New Stitchy Start, Gifted Gorgeousness, HAED Freebie and Smalls. TUSAL and IHSW are post as you can and don't require official sign-ups so I didn't count them but will participate as I can/remember. My stitching resolution is to keep up with the postings for the SALs that required a sign up.

Here are the pieces that I will fit into the various SALs:

Secret Victorian Garden by Chatelaine
Holly and Hearts Sampler by Lizzie*Kate
Santa's Magic by Mirabilia
Spring in the Air by Just Nan
Elegant Doily by Kayann's Kreations
HAED projects:
Shakespearean Fantasy
Christmas Presence
Santa and Mouse Ornament

In order to make any progress on them, I will be using a rotation again (although I may go OAAT on a couple to finish them up). The current rotation plan is:  One week, Saturday through Friday, for each piece.  The HAEDs will be stitched on my compressed Fridays rotating amongst themselves. Sunday mornings will be reserved for smalls stitching.

Given the progress I made on my larger pieces this year, I think I will have four or five large finishes in 2015, so I came up with a replacement plan too:
  • Secret Victorian Garden will be replaced with a randomly drawn Chatelaine WIP
  • Holly and Hearts  will be replaced with Ink Circles' 99
  • Santa's Magic will be replaced by Lavender & Lace's Santa of the Forest and then Mirabilia's Winter White Santa
  • Spring in the Air will be replaced with a randomly drawn Just Nan or Shepherd's Bush
  • Elegant Doily will be replaced with a randomly drawn WIP
  • Even as optimistic as I am, I don't imagine that I will finish any of the HAEDs this year and am not making plans for their replacement.
The plan is designed to help me reduce that WIP list there on the right while still allowing for a new start or two. This is only a plan and like all plans is very fluid.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Stitchers start your drills!

Or how I went from this:

to this:

in a lot less time than I thought I would. No, I didn't fill all these with the floss from the box but four of them are new.  As hard as it is to believe, I am missing 30 colors although I suspect if I dekitted? unkitted? some projects I would find them. I put an empty bobbin in the missing color's space so I won't have to rearrange the boxes when I finally get them.

WARNING:  The rest of this post is a long-winded explanation and discussion of using a portable drill to wind floss onto bobbins.

In my previous post I gave the history of the before box. I put off bobbinating, sorting and filing away because of the sheer amount of time it was going to take to wind bobbins, the lack of a good storage space for bags (another storage method I have tried) and probably a good amount of laziness.

While surfing the good ole web, I came across little lovelies blog post on organizing embroidery floss and knew I had found the answer to my floss problem. In case the link doesn't work, she purchased one of the bobbin winders that is designed to sit on the side of your floss box, took it apart and used the card holder part in the drill's chuck. Genius! Unfortunately, I couldn't find the one that I knew I had (it was probably thrown out in the general clean out when I last moved) but I thought that maybe I could (1) get started right away and (2) save a few dollars by putting the bobbin itself in the chuck:

It worked well, except I had to tighten and loosen the drill for every bobbin which was irritating. So I set off on a mission to find a bobbin winder (and run a bunch of other errands - I live too far away to just run into town to look for a bobbin winder). AC Moore and Joann Fabrics didn't have one - not even a space to show they stock them - but Hobby Lobby did (I didn't get as far as Michaels but little lovelies bought hers there. Oh and I will probably now find the one that I know I bought years ago). Here it is all taken apart, the pieces are just pressure fit together.

It is from Yarnology, the bright color is really good as I'll talk about later, and it cost $.99. It made all the difference in the world! I still had to push the little pin in to secure the bobbin, but that was so much easier than loosening and tightening the drill. Between the two methods, I was able to wind all the DMC (given the number of bobbins left and accounting for some misshapen ones, there were 612 skeins) in about 16 hours. That time encompasses the entire process from labeling the bobbin to sorting the finished bobbin into the sort bag - I had a plastic bag for each series of numbers and sorted into those to make sorting into the boxes easier.

So what did I learn (other than don't let this pile up again)?
  • Speed.  For both methods, find a speed you are comfortable with. Don't expect to go full throttle - it winds the bobbin super fast but you are looking for an even feed onto the bobbin, not a win at Le Mans (although I would love to drive just one lap).
  • Unlike little lovelies, I didn't unwind the skein first. When you take the labels off a skein there are two tails, grab the one on the bottom (the label in the picture is there for reference). Starting the winding with this one, I didn't have any major issues with tangles.
Blogger is flipping pictures on me again.
  • I had the drill on my craft table and just let the skein drop towards the floor - I think the weight of the floss helped keep it feeding straight and reduced tangles.
  • Despite the above, there will be tangles, but you can feel them forming and can stop the drill before they pull too tight.  I didn't have any that required screaming, yelling or throwing things and the majority released very easily. As a matter of fact, I have had worse tangles while hand winding.
  • Make sure you fully push the pin in! With the one I used, there was a bit of resistance when the pin was fully set.  But even if you do, there will be instances where the pin comes loose and it and your bobbin go flying. That is why I said the bright pink was a good color as it made it easy to find. 
  • Don't tug or pull the floss as it is winding. The amazing flying bobbin seemed to happen when I put too much tension on the floss as it was winding. You do need to put some tension on it, but you are mostly just guiding it back and forth to get an even feed.
  • Don't wrap your hand/fingers in the skein - that one I didn't do but The Hubs kept asking if I had cut any fingers off yet Isn't it great that he has so much confidence in me?
  • Unlike hand winding which calls for lots of mindless TV, you do have to pay attention - books on tape worked really well for me.
I can whole heartedly recommend the drill method.  It's not something I would use for a few skeins but if you have a bunch of floss that needs to be put on bobbins, grab the drill and go for it.