background

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Procrastination

I started back to work this week.  On the whole, things went well; however, my mind has not returned to free-time-is-short-get-things-done mode.  I kept putting things off or finding other things to do - Pinterest is a great time waster although I have found some great ideas for gifts - thinking I'd have plenty of time later to do them and ended up getting very little done.  I expect it is going to take until after the first of the year to get my rhythm back as I have a lot of vacation time to use up before the end of December.  I get vacation time and sick time as separate pots of time so while I was recuperating, I was using my accumulated sick time and have close to three weeks of vacation time to use before the end of the year or I will lose it.  I have already donated a bunch of time to other folks that have used all their leave due to illness but I'm not going to lose the rest of it.

With all that said, here is my progress I use the term loosely on Kayann's Kreations' Elegant Doily

What?!?!  You don't see any progress?  Well, I went from one spider web finished to three and a half!!  Yes, that is the sum of my progress on this piece for an entire week.

On a brighter note, I did start and finish Shepherd's Bush's Her Garden Fair which is the second piece in the She Tends portfolio.

These pieces are fun and quick stitches.  The only drawback is that charms play such a large part in the design and they are expensive.  I was fortunate that I had disposable income and kitted these up during a sale a number of years ago.  If I had to purchase them today, I wouldn't be able to.

Before Elegant Doily went into the rotation, I had a bit more progress on Chatelaine's Secret Victorian Garden but I forgot to take a picture.

Mirabilia's Santa's Magic is on the frame for this week - hopefully I can concentrate a bit more on it than I did Elegant Doily.

Friday, November 7, 2014

November WIPocalpyse

Whoosh!!  No that's not the sound of the wind (although it is blowing a gale out there), that's the sound of my time off going by.  I was given the all clear from the doctor yesterday to resume normal activity, so I am back to work on Wednesday.  Six weeks looks like a huge amount of time on the calendar, but I am really not feeling like it has been that long.  It has been nice to stitch, read and just relax, but the real world intrudes.

2014 WIPocalypse has really kept me on track the last couple of years and Measi has announced that she will be continuing this SAL in 2015 with the same guidelines as this year.  If you're interested, you can check 2014's out here

As I have already posted several WIP updates on my YOTA post, I will only post what I have worked on since then.  So here is my progress this week (so far) on Chatelaine's Secret Victorian Garden.  It was here:


And today, it is here:


I have finished through part 10 on the right corner and parts of 9 and 10 on the left.  This has a couple more days on the frame so I think I will concentrate on the left corner now.

In addition to showing our progress for WIPocalypse, this year we were given topics for each month.  This month's is: What is your favorite and least favorite materials to use in stitching?  Hmmmm, this could get long....

Fabric.  I prefer a 28- or 32-count evenweave but usually choose based on color, so if Aida is the only fabric in the color I want, I will use Aida, preferably a higher count as it evens out the background a bit.  I have a lot of pieces kitted up using Belfast and do like it but there can be a lot of slubs and those are just annoying.  I really like Picture This Plus and Lakeside Linens fabrics because of the colors and quality.  If I use a hand-dyed fabric I go in for the more subtle pieces as I want people to see my stitching and not the fabric.

Fibers.  Silks!!!  They are a joy to stitch with.  I really like Gloriana and Thread Gatherers for variegated colors and NPI for solids. I don't do a lot of stitching with silks, I was fortunate to be able to purchase a number of fully kitted Chatelaines from European Cross Stitch  and treasure each one, but I have also kitted and stitched them with DMC and they are still amazing.  I use DMC for the majority of my stitching.  They have a great color range, the colors are consistent (although I have heard of some issues with dyelots recently - not something I have dealt with) and they are readily available.  I do not get along well with Hand-Dyed Fibers or rayon threads.

Patterns.  I prefer black and white patterns on multiple sheets.  Santa's Magic really irritates me because it is printed on one huge sheet.  I made working copies but if I didn't have access to a copier, the pattern would be destroyed by now.  Chatelaines are the only pieces that I prefer to stitch from a color chart.

Tools.  My absolute favorite tool is my Needlework System 4 floor stand.  I have had two other floor stands over the years and this by far is the best.  Yes it was pricey but I also know that it is probably going to outlast me so it was worth the investment.  I have an Artisan Design Ergo lap stand and a K's Creations lapstand that I use for smaller projects and really like them too.  I prefer Bohin needles for their smoothness and strength, I bend needles and have had problems in the past with eyes breaking but not with these.  DSon gave me 100 of both size 26 and 28 a few years ago for Christmas, so I am set for a long time.  I also use John James petites in size 26 and 28.  I am not much of a scissor fiend. I do have several pairs but no favorite and I use whichever pair I can find.

I think I will start the next part of Shepherd's Bush's She Tends this afternoon and go back to Secret Victorian Garden tonight or tomorrow.  Elegant Doily goes on the frame Sunday.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Little Weekend Stitching

I had plans for stitching this weekend.  I really did.  But, I let myself get sidetracked, on what I really could not tell you but I didn't sit down to stitch until late in the afternoon.  Ah well, progress was made and that's the important part.

Another important thing - a huge Thank You for a RAK!!!  I woke up this morning to an email from Heaven and Earth Designs saying that Pull the Other Thread had gifted me with this chart:

 
It is Shakespearean Fantasy and includes representations from 18 plays.  I haven't had a chance to see the piece up close enough to figure them all out, but I have got Hamlet, MacBeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III (I think).  To say that I am thrilled is an understatement.  I have spent the day, up 'til now, looking at the color list, pulling threads, and generally planning. I love the planning process for a new project!!  Thank you again!  Now to get around my being intimidated by HAEDs and actually start!!
 
As I mentioned, I did little stitching this weekend.  Saturday afternoon/evening was Just Nan's Spring in the Air's last day in rotation and I did finish band three and get a start on band four:
 

And yesterday saw Chatelaine's Secret Victorian Garden go on the frame for its week of stitching.  It went from here:


To here:


The backstitching in the windows and the trees were done during the last round of the rotation, I am not sure why I don't have a photo showing that.  This is my last week of recuperation and I am determined to get a good portion of this corner done, so I should get stitching!!! 
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Another Month Gone

Happy November!  After the wonderful weather of the last couple of weeks, today's is rather a shock.  Cooler (predicted high of 50F which is downright cold for central Virginia this time of year), windy and wet - a wonderful day to stay inside and stitch.  The reports that I've heard/read are all saying colder than usual on the east coast this winter.  So there may be many more opportunities to snuggle in with the stitching and be thankful for central heating!  The heat hasn't come on yet, but I do have it turned on and set at 60 - if the house gets that cold, it needs to come on.

As the last day of the month, yesterday was the check in for the Just Nan SAL.  Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross Stitch started this SAL.  I have really enjoyed going through my stash, becoming reacquainted with all my Just Nans and actually stitching on a few.  While the official SAL has fallen apart, I am continuing with my postings and have created a Just Nan slot in my rotation. Spring in the Air is my current piece. It took me longer to stitch the over-1 pansies than I expected, but I am happy with the results and have moved on to the other bands now.


A few more stitches and band three will be completed.  This one is on the frame for the rest of the day so I may be able to finish not only band three but also band four (or at least make a good start on it).

The first Saturday of each month is YOTA check-in.  Pull the Other Thread hosts this SAL and just asks that we stitch on WIPs/UFOs from the list we posted the beginning of the year and post an update on the first Saturday of each month.  Since the first of October, I have stitched on:

Elegant Doily:


and Santa's Magic:


from my 2014 list.

I am already thinking about my 2015 stitching plans.  The goal will be the same as 2014 - work through that WIP list there on the right side. Not sure of the details just yet, although I suspect they won't be too much different from this year's. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mega-Mini Month Madness 5 and Small SAL check-in

That is probably the most unimaginative post title I have ever come up with, accurate but blah. Titles are the hardest part of a post for me, I suppose I could just as easily put Post 1, Post 2, etc but that's pretty blah too. 

I really can't believe how quickly the time has gone by, two weeks from today I will be back in the office (assuming the doctor gives me the go ahead).  The total lack of work stress has been amazing, not only physically but mentally too.  I knew I was stressed and heading for burn-out, but really didn't realize how close I was.  I did have all intentions of teleworking during my recuperation and had planned to be almost back to full time work this week and next, but there was a change to our mobile access software that can only be installed when the computer is connected directly to the system, which given the number of people that are remote employees makes absolutely no sense, so I am unable to connect to the work network and therefore, no work at all.  Fortunately, my new boss understands and told me she wasn't sure why I was so worried about it as I was supposed to be getting better.  I was so shocked as that attitude is so different than what I have been working with the last seven years - so my question of whether the new division will be better?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it will.

Anyway, I have two SALs to check-in for today.  Before I do that, have you seen the new SAL that By the Bay Needleart is hosting next year?  I haven't stitched many of her designs but do have a bunch in my stash.  I really like her style and color choices.  You can see the new piece here and here is a little bit of information from her blog:

"If you remember I mentioned long ago that I have been designing a 36 inch tall cross stitch scene.
I have been working on this design for a few years. Always making changes. 
Well I finally finished it and will be offering it as a year long project. 
If you choose to participate you will be emailed a 3 inch by 11 inch section once a month to stitch. 
There will be a blog that you will be invited to publish on and share your photos.
 I still have to think of cute names and create the blog, the design is finished as a chart but of course I have not stitched it myself. We can do this project together. 
The cost will be $7.00 per month. You must sign up for the 12 months to complete this project and at the end I will be sending out to you a special  thank you kit made just for this class."

No connection, etc., etc., just a very tempting piece.

Back to my SALS.  Pull the Other Thread hosted Mega-Mini Month Madness.  Stitch on small(s) and post photos of your progress each week of October.  I didn't stitch solely on smalls but I did manage to finish two.

First an update of The Nutmeg Company's Fondant Icing.  I took an afternoon and evening off from stitching and finished all the little pieces I showed in my last post into this:
Front and side
Back and the other side
 Makes me want to pull the other kits out and get busy on them.

I was also able to finish She Tends from Shepherd's Bush's She Tends leaflet.


Heather at Stitching Lotus is hosting the Smalls SAL. A fun SAL that focuses on smalls of all types.  Fortunately, actually finish-finishing them is not a requirement.  There was a definite cross over of the Smalls and MMMM SALS so the above two pieces are doing double duty this month.  I will be continuing with the Shepherd's Bush leaflet so there should be three more pieces coming in the next few months.  I have some finishing ideas rolling around in my head but will have to see what other ideas I come up with.

I also worked on Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler this week. It looked like this the last time I showed it:


and today it looks like this:

One picture I will get an accurate photo of the fabric, it is really pinkish with blue and purple bits in it (much prettier than I am describing). 

Just Nan's Spring in the Air is on the frame and after a couple more episodes of Inspector Morse (apparently the only place more deadly than Midsomer is Oxford) I should have the over-1 pansies finished but that progress picture will have to wait for the Just Nan SAL check-in.

Friday, October 24, 2014

SAL check-ins

For someone who normally has very little time to stitch, I am involved in a lot of stitch-alongs.  Fortunately for me, none of them are really very stressful, they mostly give me topics for my blog posts and keep me on track with my stitching.  The only bad part is that the check-ins seem to cluster around the end of the month which makes for a either a lot of posts in short period of time, or more recently crowded, multi-purpose posts.

This week, I have check-ins for TUSAL, Mega-Mini Month Madness, and Stitch from Stash and pictures of my regular stitching, so let's get started....

First up is TUSAL which is hosted by Sharon at It's Daffycat.  As I mentioned above, low stress.  Put all those little snippets of thread from the back, leftovers and, in my case this week, frogging fuzz into a container and post a photo each month on the new moon.  I am using a repurposed Yankee Candle jar and I think I will probably continuing using it next year as it seems to be just the right size.


Lots of metallic ends from Santa's Magic and lots of frogging fuzz from Fondant Icing.

Speaking of Santa's Magic, here is where he ended up after his week in the rotation:


I was able to finish the moon and the metallic blue swirls on the right hand side and added a little bit to that unfinished glove.

Back to SALs, the next one for check-in is Mega-Mini Month Madness.  It is hosted at Pull the Other Thread and is a one month blitz to stitch on smalls.  Small was defined as ornament size or smaller.  I stitched away on The Nutmeg Company's Fondant Icing this week and finished the stitching and beading.  I am not sure when I will get to the actual construction - maybe next week.  Here are all the pieces finished:


And because I have another week of MMMM and my Smalls SAL, I started Shepherd's Bush's She Tends.  As the whole design consists of four separate ornament sized parts, I figured it fit the definition of both SALs.  I got this far with it last night:


I am stitching this one in-hand so it's wrinkled and a bit wonky.  It's stitched using a combination of Weeks Dye Works, Crescent Colours  and DMC fibers and I am stitching it on 28-count Weeks Dye Works Linen (or at least I think I am - I didn't save the fabric label when I kitted this up).  I may finish this one before the end of next week as I was able to get this far after only about an hour of stitching.

And the final SAL is Stitch from Stash.  Hosted at Epic Stitching, it is a reminder to "love the one you're with" (with recognition to Stephen Stills) and keep within a budget with our stash acquisition.  We are given a budget of $25 each month for purchases and any balance rolls over to the next month.  There have been several exceptions given and we have been given a $50 exception to use anytime through the end of the year.  We were also given one free month to really binge if necessary.  So for October:

Carry over:  $225
October Budget: $25
Available:    $250
Spent:  $0
Balance Forward:  $250 + $50 exception

I had two new starts from stash, both are shown above and I stitched on Chatelaine's Secret Victorian Garden, Kayann's Kreations Elegant Doily, Mirabilia's Santa's Magic and Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Sampler.

Speaking of Holly and Hearts Sampler, it is on the frame right now and has gone from here:


To here:

It's spot in the rotation is up tomorrow night, so I am hoping to get a bit more done before it gets put up for a few weeks.  After this one, Just Nan's Spring in the Air will be pulled out. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mega-Mini Month Madness Part 3

Lots of stitching this week!  It feels so good to say that as it means I am sitting up more than I am lying down now.  Yea me!  Recuperation is still going very well, as a matter of fact, except for the weird numb/hypersensitive skin right around the incision, I really don't feel as though I had major surgery. A HUGE part of this is due to a big mental shift that happened when I got a phone call offering me a new job!!!  I don't talk about it here (much) but I had reached a point where I hated going to work - not the work itself I think it is a great program nor my immediate co-workers as they are awesome people or even the crazy, ridiculous commute, but the management people leave a lot to be desired.  Read any article on what defines a bad boss and it could be written for the two I work for.  To give you an idea of the six people in my office with the same job I have, six of them are looking for new jobs.  Anyway, effective Sunday (our pay periods run from Sunday to Saturday for some reason) I am going to a different division.  Will it be any better?  I know all the people in the division and they're all great, I know the middle management folks and they are great and I know the upper management folks and they are good (can't say great as I really have only had minimal interactions with them, but everyone that works with them likes them), so I think it will.  The important thing is the minute I got the call with the job offer, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and I have felt better, mentally, than I have in years, so "yes" I think it will be better.  Anyway, you didn't click over here to read about these issues, but to read about my stitching, so here you go....

Mega-Mini Month Madness is being hosted at Pull the Other Thread and just asks us to stitch on a small and post about it each week in October.  Last week I moaned about the lack of progress on The Nutmeg Company's Fondant Icing, but I can't do that this week.  Last week I was here:

And right now, I am here:


I finished the roof and one of the two side walls and am almost done with the second one.  Once these are done I have to do the fiddly bit of fitting the end walls on the fabric and then all the beading.  Oh yes, the wall closest to you is upside down - it is just easier for me to stitch it from the top down so I flip the fabric around to accommodate my stitching style.

The other piece I worked on this week was Mirabilia's Santa's Magic.  When I put him on the frame last Friday, he was here:

Yes, he's still sideways...
And right now, he's here:


Lots of metallic in the section I worked on if you have this pattern and are planning to stitch him on 32-count, I recommend switching the #8 Kreinik (if it still calls for it) to #4 or even Petite Treasure Braid (if you can do the conversion) - I'm using #4 and can't imagine trying to pull #8 through this fabric .  I hope to finish the moon and the blue streamers there in the lower right corner before I put him away.

As this is International Hermit and Stitch Weekend and I am still on semi-light activity restrictions, I think it will be a very productive stitching weekend.