Sunday, February 7, 2016

Frogging, Stitching and TUSAL

I was so excited this morning, all the housework was done and dinner was slow cooking in the oven, so I had the entire day for stitching!  Pulled my chair up to the stitching frame and worked on The Sampler Life's SAL block from January.  I almost finished it, but I didn't want to take too much time away from my focus piece so put it away.

I expect I will finish it during next Sunday's stitching session and start on this month's block. I settled in with Just Nan's Christmas Soldiers for an afternoon of uninterrupted stitching.  I finished one band (not the entire band but all that is stitchable with the side bars I have on my frame) and moved on to the next one when I realized I had used the wrong motif to start my count from.  There was no way to make it work, so frogged several hours of work.

The threads are from the leaves I had to pull out.  I'll be pulling the last bit out as I need the thread to redo each leaf.  I know that statement will horrify some purists out there, but as long as the thread hasn't become all fuzzy or split, I reuse frogged thread.  I also lick thread ends, pull short pieces out of my ORT jar for just one or two stitches, have food and drink near my piece and use the same scissors for thread and metallics!  I hope to get one or two of the leaves done before it's time to head to bed.

Two pieces that I didn't have any trouble with this week were Shakespearean Fantasy and Its About Time.  I have found my comfort zone with these pieces and enjoy stitching them, although for different reasons.  Shakespearean Fantasy is no stress stitching as it's just row after row of black. I put on a binge watch show on television or put on an audiobook and just go. 

Its About Time gives me instant gratification with little bits of a picture every time I stitch - almost like a jigsaw puzzle.

I can do 300 to 400 stitches an evening on each of these, so a column plus a little bit a month. I will win no speed records but I am happy with any progress.  Once I finish all my obligation pieces this year, these will be incorporated into my regular rotation.

Last but definitely not least.  Tomorrow is the official TUSAL check-in day.  You haven't heard of TUSAL?  It's hosted by Daffycat and is just a fun thing to do.  All you have to do to participate is stitch, save those little bits you cut off or are too short to use, and post a picture on the new moon each month.  So simple and if you're interested in participating, click on the little badge and it should take you to the information page.  My photo for this month:

Not the best photo, but you can see all the snippets.  My ORT container is a repurposed Yankee Candle medium jar candle jar, but some participants have some beautiful containers.  I enjoy reading all the posts just to see all the different containers.

We have snow in the forecast again this week, but I don't think it will be anything like two weeks ago. I will probably bring my computer home with me, just in case. I have an extra long weekend this coming weekend and will be changing up my stitching a little bit. I promised The Hubs that I would finish Secret Victorian Garden this year, so will pull that back out and spend as much time as possible with it. I will probably get a bit of work in on other pieces too, but my focus will be the Garden.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What a Difference

In this case, it is what a difference a week makes. Saturday a week, it looked like this
 soon after this picture was taken, we couldn't see the treeline, which you can barely see in this photo.  Sunday morning it looked like this 

 and today it looks like this

The forecast is for temperatures close to 60 with rain tomorrow, so except for in the shade and where the snow was piled, I don't expect the snow will last for much longer.

The other difference is in my stitching.  Lots of progress, for me, on my HAEDs.

Christmas Presence  and Its About Time each had 300 stitches added and now look like this:
Christmas Presence
Its About Time

I also finished the Heaven and Earth Designs Facebook challenge on Shakespearean Fantasy

Once I finished the challenge, I moved back over to my regular stitching area and put in another 100 stitches 

I started The Sampler Life SAL January block this morning.  It is called Welcome Spring by Jardin Prive 

I love the colors in this piece, but I don't care for the color chart. I have stitched a number of charts that are done in color, but there is also a symbol. This chart is just colors.  Because it is a small piece, it isn't horrible, but I would not want to stitch a large piece from this style pattern.  

The last piece I worked on this week is Christmas Soldiers from Just Nan.  I finished the cuff portion, the tassel and am now working on the perle cotton "white work" section. There is quite a bit of perle cotton on this piece which while it gives a nice texture it is not one of my favorite fibers to use. 

I'll be heading back to the office tomorrow so not as much stitching this week, but will try to make up for it on the weekend.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Smalls Check-in

I have to say, I made a good choice in paring down my SALs this year.  I am enjoying my stitching much more now that I'm not chasing so many deadlines or feeling bad about missing them. I do need to get myself back on a more regular posting schedule now that I don't have all the SALs to remind me, but that is a small matter.

The snow that I showed in my last post was just the beginning.  The storm really wound up Saturday and we were in as close to blizzard conditions as I care to be for a while.  We ended up with just short of 17" of snow.  Things are just now getting back to normal work and business-wise.  Fortunately, my boss is very good about teleworking, so I was able to stay home and not worry about the ice, snow and whatever else was on the roads.

The nice thing about working from home is that I had a very short commute and stitched most evenings.  I'll do a general stitching update later this weekend because this is my Smalls SAL check-in post.  The smalls SAL is hosted by Heather at Stitching Lotus - clicking on this button or the one on the left should take you to the rules, dates and sign-up page.  Right now there are 71 people signed up and you can too at any time.  The rules are simple - stitch a small (your definition) and post a picture on the last Thursday of the month.  You can't get much more low stress than that.

I have said it before, but if it weren't for smalls, I would have very few, if any, finishes.  This month, I finished two!!

The first was Marc's Samplerlife Rose

and the next is Third Day from the Plum Street Samplers 2015 Sunday Mystery SAL.  Yes, I know I said I was going to start the next Sampler Life block, but this one was screaming louder.

I probably could have finished Seventh Day too but that little tree in Third Day? I stitched and ripped four times before I got it right, I was so frustrated with myself which I'm sure didn't help any at all.

Christmas Presence and Shakespearean Fantasy  are on the stitching agenda for today and Christmas Soldiers for the weekend.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January WIPocalpyse, Snowzilla and a finish

Do you remember this picture from a couple weeks ago?    It is now under this somewhere  . The press has dubbed the storm Snowzilla.  It is very hard to tell how much we've had as it is blowing and drifting.  See that opening in the upper left of the picture?  That's where the driveway heads down to the road.  A few minutes before I took the picture, you couldn't see it because of the blowing snow.  Just north of here and into Washington, DC and Maryland are in the main path of the snow and wind with upwards of 2' of snow predicted.  Now for those of you in the snowier climes, please give us all a break as we don't have the equipment to deal with a storm of this size, so we'll be slower to recover than you would.  I suspect I will be working from home Monday and Tuesday, but the road crews may surprise me and get to my road before then. 

But you came to read abut WIPocalypse Button (and yes, I am a day early).  WIPocalypse has been hosted since 2012 by Melissa at Measi's Musings.  The link for 2016 hasn't been set up but I don't believe anything will have changed from last year. No real rules, other than sign-up anytime, make a list of what you would like to make progress on (adjust as necessary through the year) and post about it on the full moon (or thereabouts).  Very low stress.  My WIPocalypse list is posted up top in the tab titled, "WIPocalypse Project List and 2016 Stitching Plan".  I do have to work one more project into my rotation as I told The Hubs that I would have Secret Victorian Garden finished in time to enter into the state fair this year.  So far my stitching plan seems to be working.  I put another 200 stitches into Its About Time:

I would have done more, but I pulled a couple of my wool sweaters from storage and remembered that they had holes in them, so used my needle for darning/mending rather than stitching.  Shakespearean Fantasy got another 360 stitches added last night:

Only 340 more to finish the challenge. I don't even dare think about how many more to finish the piece. 

Speaking of finishes - I have my first of the year.

This is Marc's Samplerlife Rose.  It was designed by Marc Saastad of The Silver Lining for The Sampler Life SAL.  I made a counting error and am off by a half stitch, but by the time I found it, I was too far along to rip it out and start over.   Now that December's entry is done, I will start January's tomorrow which is Welcome Spring from Jardin Prive. 

On the frame for today and tomorrow is Just Nan's Christmas Soldiers

There is a bit of backstitching and beading to be done for this section to be finished and I should have that done this afternoon, then on to the body of the stocking.

If you're still working on your stitching plans for the year, check out the Joyful World SAL at The Snowflower Diaries.  I am saving the patterns but have, so far, fought the urge to start this very cute piece.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January Gifted Gorgeousness

My stitching plan has worked well so far this year - I know it's only a couple of weeks in, but my plans usually fall apart in the early stages of execution - although I had a couple of instances of, "but I don't want to stop stitching on this one!" early, I was able to convince myself that since I will see it again soon, I could stop and put it up for the next one.

Yesterday was the check-in day for Gifted Gorgeousness and I had the day off so I could have posted on time BUT The Hubs had a root canal and ten fillings replaced on Thursday so I was busy trying not to throttle him convincing him that it was *not* the worst pain ever in the history of the world making sure he took his pain meds, antibiotics and ate something.  He seems to be better today or maybe he's just not complaining as much (*that* I doubt very much!!!).

Anyway, Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching and is a very low stress SAL that lets us thank those that gifted us with some stitching item by showing them that we are using their gift or showing folks what we are stitching to gift someone or as Jo put in her post this month, "anything you have which was a gift from someone or is going to be a gift for someone is eligible".  She also gives us a shoehorn category for those pieces we can make fit.  For the foreseeable future, every piece I stitch will fit this SAL, it's just that type of year.  If you're interested in joining up or just seeing what it's all about, the badge in this post should be clickable, but if it doesn't work, the one on the left sidebar does.

First up is Just Nan's Christmas Soldiers.  This is a gift for DNiece's boyfriend. I finished one more tree and have most of the second soldier done now.

Stitched on 28-count Platinum Cashel with DMC and Kreinik
It is very strange stitching on this piece after working on the HAEDs in my rotation - 2-over-2 stitches look HUGE after all the over-1 I have been doing.

Next is Shakespearean Fantasy designed by James Christensen and charted by HAED.  The pattern was gifted to me by Pull the Other Thread and was my January 2015 start. 

Stitched 1-over-1 on 28-count Antique White Jobelan with DMC
Ummmm, Susan what are you doing?, I can hear you saying.  Well, HAED is running six challenges this year on their Facebook page and the first is to stitch 1,000 stitches, in blocks of ten, diagonally.  As the last page of the first row of this chart is 100% black, I decided it would be a good page to do the different challenges on.  Because of the page break, there is a column two stitches wide, so the upper left block is 12X10 as I was not going to leave a strip of two stitches.

I was able to put another 300 stitches into Its About Time by Ciro Marchetti and charted by HAED.  Kate from Needles and Haystacks gifted me this chart.  This piece is giving me a very different stitching experience from Shakespearean Fantasy in that I am into colors and design immediately rather than huge blocks of background color.  I know SF will get much more colorful as I move down rows and that keeps me going on it.

Stitched 1-over-1 on 28-count Antique White Jobelan with DMC
My next two pieces are shoehorns as they are freebies from the designer and, therefore, I am saying a gift. 

QS Christmas Presence by Myles Pinkney and charted by HAED was one of the 2015 HAED freebie stitching challenge pieces on their YUKU board. I am making steady if not stellar progress on this one and had another 200 stitches into it this week. 

Stitched 1-over-1 on 28-count Antique White Jobelan with DMC
And finally, The Sampler Life SAL is still rolling along and designers are still donating blocks.  The block for December was done by Mark Saastad of The Silver Lining and is called Marc's Samplerlife Rose.  I have finished the cross stitching of the rose and just need to do the leaves and backstitching.

Stitched on 32-count Vintage Light Examplar from Lakeside Linens with DMC
The Just Nan piece is on the frame for the rest of today and tomorrow afternoon with Marc's rose up for tomorrow morning.  Monday is a holiday (at least for the banks and Federal government employees) so I am not sure if I will continue with the Just Nan or make it a free day and stitch whatever catches my fancy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

There has been stitching!!

Huh, January 9th already? So much for my "post to blog more often" resolution...  Winter is usually the time when I get inside things done, including most of my stitching, but this winter?  Well as someone said, we've had a wonderful spring this winter.  I have these
 blooming all over my yard right now. Yes, that's a dandelion!  There are also some other wildflowers blooming and I noticed that my daylilies are sending up new shoots and my rose bushes have buds on them.  We've had lots of wet weather and with the ground not frozen, it's soaking in so the well is very happy, but it just isn't right.  I am definitely in a waiting-for-the-shoe-dropping mode, I just don't see it staying like this all winter.  If it does it will be the first winter in AGES (maybe ever) that I haven't seen at least a snow flurry.
I have fought off the feeling that I should be working outside and started breaking in my new stitching chair (The Hubs gave me a gift card to Amazon for Christmas and I used it for a new desk chair).  Maybe it's the new chair, but I have been more productive the last couple of weeks than I have been in a long while.  I have three column finishes on my Heaven and Earth Design pieces.  Christmas Presence 

Its About Time

and Shakespearean Fantasy
Yes, still a big black block, but it's a larger big black block

All of the HAEDs are being stitched on 28 count antique white Jobelan 1 over 1 with DMC threads.  After we win more than a dollar or two in the lottery, I am going to have a pattern converted to silk.  DMC is a wonderful thread but there are a couple of patterns that I think would be amazing done in silk.
I also had some non-HAED progress,   I started Just Nan's Christmas Soldiers stocking on January 1st and after an afternoon of stitching, it was here:
This is stitched on 28-count cream Cashel with DMC, Kreinik and the included Just Nan embellishments. The pattern calls for Caron Impressions for the trees but I missed it in the thread list when I placed my order and didn't have any in my stash so I replaced it with Thread Gatherers Silk 'n Colors Dark Forest.  This is on my afternoon/evening stitch for today and tomorrow.
I also made progress on The Sampler Life block from December.  Marc Saastad of The Silver Lining contributed Marc's Samplerlife Rose to the piece.
Stitched on 32-count Vintage Light Exampler from Lakeside Linens with DMC thread
I am not 100% sure on this one as the colors just don't seem to go together, but it is probably one of those pieces that needs the backstitching done to make sense.  I will probably add a backstitch border around this one to make it a block.  I am looking forward to starting the January block, Welcome Spring, from Jardin Prive as I have never stitched a piece from that company.
I have a chicken in the slow cooker (THIS has become my go to for recipes that call for cooked chicken - thanks  Melissa) and will be making chicken-corn chowder later today, but until then - stitching.
And before I forget!  It's time.  I am actually a day early, but it is nice starting the year caught up on my SAL posts.  Daffycat hosts this SAL and if you want low stress, this is the SAL for you.  Just keep all those little bits of thread you cut off, can't use or would otherwise throw away and save them.  Once a month, on the new moon, post a photo.  Super simple right?  Some people are very artsy with their photos.  Me? Not so much.  Here is my January TUSAL photo:
This is Trouble looking perturbed that I interrupted her bird watching.  Not a lot in there but, in addition to it being the beginning of the year, Spot knocked the jar off the table earlier today and I am not sure I got all the little bits.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

December Smalls Check-in

My final SAL check-in of 2015 is for 2015SmallsSAL. A thank you to Heather at Stitching Lotus for hosting this SAL and continuing it into 2016.  If you are interested in participating, click on the 2016 button on the left and it should take you to the sign-up page. If it doesn't, click here.  I have said it before, but if it weren't for this SAL, I would have very few finishes each year.

All of my finishes can be seen in the "Finishes" tab up top.  I had been using The Sampler Life SAL blocks as my Smalls SAL pieces, but this month decided to focus on Plum Street Samplers 2015 Sunday Mystery SAL instead. Like The Sampler Life, the motifs for the mystery SAL could be stitched as individual ornaments/pieces.  I had toyed with the idea of individual pieces, but I am even worse at finishing-finishing things than I am at finishing the stitching so gave that idea up quickly.  So, as of right now, I am here:

This is still on the frame as I plan to do a bit of stitching while watching this afternoon/evening's football games. I will continue with this piece as my Smalls SAL piece until finished and then back to The Sampler Life pieces.

I did a bit more on Christmas Presence yesterday. I got tired of the parked threads of page 4 (bottom right) getting in my way, so concentrated on getting as many of them done as I could. I ended up going cross country with them, but the majority of them are finished and out of the way. I then worked on the next column of page 2.  When I put him away last night, he was here:

It is fun to see this piece in a photo.  Because I stitch this under a magnifying lamp, I only see scattered stitches and bits of color that really don't make a lot of sense, but when I step away and take a photo, there is a glove or a coat sleeve and all the color bits make sense. Santa will be on the frame soon as I would like to finish the column.