Friday, January 31, 2014

A twofer post

I decided that a twofer would be in order for this post, I'm already a day late with my TUSAL, Just Nan is due today and tomorrow is my second YOTA post of the year!  Suppose I could wait and do all three but I feel like I am short changing the individual SALs when I get too many in a post.

Before I get to photos, thank you all for the wonderful and encouraging comments.  The Hubs is really good about saying "That looks nice dear" but half the time he's not even looking at what I am showing him...

I believe we may finally be in a warm-up here in central Virginia as it is currently 46F pull out the shorts and tee shirts!!!  We had another "cold snap" earlier in the week and the temperature when I got up yesterday was 3F.  Yes, I know those of you further north are wishing for 3F as your high but our average temperature in the winter is in the 40s so this was wicked cold for us.  We even had 3"of snow the other day- I think that matches what we had all of last winter!  I suppose the upside to all the cold weather is that it will make stitching from stash easier as the heating bill is going to be a monster!

Just got notice that we should be back in our offices on Tuesday.  After 20 years it was decided that maybe they needed painting and new carpet, so I have been working from home since the 16th!!  It has been amazingly wonderful to not have to deal with 5 hours of commuting each day.  Not only have I caught up on my sleep (getting up at 7 AM instead of 4 AM is incredible!) but I have even had time in the evenings to cook, clean up and stitch.  Normally I get home around 7:30, have a bowl of cereal, get things around for the next day and am in bed between 8:30 and 9:00.  I am not looking forward to being back on that schedule but needs must.

So, on to stitching....

2014 TUSAL
First up is my second TUSAL of the year.  The button should take you to the information page, but basically - all those bits of fiber that trimmed off or that last inch that you couldn't stretch to finish a stitch?  Those are ORTS! Don't throw them away, put them in a pretty jar, take a picture and post it each new moon.  Couldn't get much easier could it?  I had to change my jar from the one I started with as the Mason jar was filling up too fast and I didn't want to have to pack the threads down too much of course now that I will be back on normal, ridiculous schedule I won't be accumulating ORTS as quickly .  My new jar is an repurposed Yankee Candle jar.  In the past I just threw them away when the wicks burned down but I always felt a bit guilty as they are very nice jars.  I knew there had to be some way to get that last bit of wax out of them but a solution completely eluded me.  I was a bit more determined to figure it out this time and a quick search found that the consensus of folks on the internet was - put them in the freezer for a few hours and the wax would pop right out.  I'm sure this isn't news to most of you, but it was a huge lightbulb moment for me!  Breaking the circle of wax up so that you can get it through the mouth of the jar was a little trickier and getting all the glue from the label off wasn't fun, but I now have a very nice storage jar seen here posing in front of "Three Tulips" from With Thy Needle and Thread.
Next up is the Just Nan SAL 2014 being hosted by Zeb at Keep Calm and Cross Stitch.  A fun SAL to promote the beautiful patterns of Just Nan.  I was able to finish one long-time Just Nan WIP and start a smaller piece this month.  The finish was Enchanted Swans.  This was a class piece that I started years ago 1999 or thereabouts as an on-line class through Tapestry of Dreams in Rhode Island.  I had finished the upper left diamond before putting it away for some unremembered reason.  I like the entire piece but the last band is really a favorite. Some day I am going to make a sampler of all my favorite Just Nan bands about the time pigs fly and an eternally warm place becomes a haven for ice skaters...
After finishing this one, I started on Tall Flowers and have gotten to here so far not quite as jelly fish looking anymore:
I plan on working on this the rest of today and maybe Sunday morning so I should have a finish to show in next month's post.  Strawberry Summer is going to fill the slot Enchanted Swans had in my rotation so it will be going on the frame Sunday.  I am really glad I signed up for this SAL as it is reminding me how much I like Just Nan's designs.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stitching Smalls

I am a BAP stitcher, I am not a BAP finisher; however, for the last two years I have participated in SALs that had me stitching an ornament a month.  Imagine, starting and finishing something in the same month!!  For 2014, the ornament SAL morphed into a smalls SAL - different name, same concept - stitch a small a month.  It is a very no pressure SAL, you define small and you decide which months to participate.  The only requirement, other than stitching, is to post what you stitched on the last Wednesday of the month and register it on the SAL's page, so here I am.

And here's the link to the SAL's page:


I have already posted my finish for this month in a previous post, but as I have so few finishes in a year, I will show it again.

This is Peppermint Twist from Little House Needleworks.  It's stitched on 30-count Northern Cross linen with the called for fibers and button.  It would look perfectly fine without the button.  I was not really thrilled with the linen as it has a much stiffer hand than I am used to, but the color is perfect.

I have one small on the frame right now for February and have another one in line to start once that one is finished. I am so optimistic.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stitch from Stash Update

2014 Stitch from Stash Is just the SAL for me!  I have been stitching for close to 30 years and for a few of those years I was a OAAT (one at a time) stitcher.  Buy materials for a project at local craft store, stitch said project, then buy materials for next project, repeat...  THEN I discovered cross stitch stores!!  Whole stores full of patterns and material and fibers, so many fibers and beads and charms and oh my!  I only got to a LNS about once a year so I would buy two or three or four patterns and kit them right away.  That worked fine until I went back to work full time.  My stitching time went down but my stashing habit had been established but was still under control due to distance. Then, oh my, then, businesses started seeing the advantage of having an on-line presence and I could shop anytime, at any store in the world and as they say, "that's all she wrote" although I am not really sure why "they" say that.  Which leads me to today.  I have been SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) for years but those designers keep coming up with more and more beautiful patterns or I discover a designer through a blog or a new designer hits the scene. Fortunately, or not depending on which side of the wallet you are on, the budget doesn't allow for extras so I have been stitching from stash for the better part of three years now, but when Stitch from Stash was announced, I decided to make it formal and joined right up.  Sign-ups are closed but you can join in for the fun and challenge.  Hopefully clicking the button on this post or the one in the sidebar will take you to the page to see the rules but basically, the idea is to either stitch your WIPs or stitch from stash.  You do get a monthly budget of $25 (I'm using USD but you can convert to your local currency if it makes more sense) and your monthly balance rolls over.  Mel did provide some exceptions and you do get one grace month, so actually a fairly generous budget.

Not that Mel mentioned anything about tips, but one thing I have found that helps tremendously is a wish list.  I post photos of patterns that I must have to my wish list and let them stew a bit.  I go back every so often and look at them to see if I still must have the pattern.  It is amazing how many I have added to the list only to remove a month or two or six later. 

So without further discussion, here is my January report:

  January Budget:  $25
                  Spent:  $ 0
Balance Forward:  $25

Starts from Stash:  Little House Needleworks' Peppermint Twist and Just Nan's Tall Flowers:

WIP stitching: I almost made one round in my rotation, so I have stitched on:

Enchanted Swans by Just Nan

Elegant Doily  by Kayann's Creations

Serengeti by Chatelaine

Santa's Magic by Mirabilia
There was some stash acquired also, but it was gifted.  Remember that wish list I mentioned?  Well The Hubs was looking for an anniversary gift and took a look at my list and gave me:

It's all three patterns plus the thread for Lizzie*Kate's Holly and Hearts Mystery Sampler Club.  He even managed to find it on sale!  Thank you ABC Stitch Therapy and your clearance page (yes he was so proud of himself, he told me all this!) This will be going in the rotation as soon as I finish Three Tulips.  I am sure I can find a piece of fabric in my stash somewhere...

Monday, January 20, 2014

January's IHSW

I had a four day weekend for this month but as one of those days is today, I'm going to show my progress through yesterday I have to have something to show for my next post!!

Friday was my smalls stitching day and I started Tall Flowers from Just Nan.  I didn't actually sit down to stitch until after supper, but I am pleased with the progress I made.

It is stitched on 28-count natural something, probably Cashel but I am not 100% sure, with DMC.  The Hubs thinks it looks like a very colorful jellyfish I do have to agree with him on that.

Saturday was the last day on the frame for Serengeti from Chatelaine and I am now 1/4 of the way through part 2 I could not face three more of those little medallions right away so jumped ahead to part 2.  My plan is to stitch an elephant block then one medallion, repeating until they are all finished.

Here's where it was when I sat down Saturday afternoon:

And here's the block finished:

Lots of color changes and half and quarter stitches around those elephants, definitely a part where the backstitching made all the difference.

And yesterday, Santa's Magic came back up in the rotation. 

And several episodes of Foyle's War later:

My plan is to work my way into that empty space on the left and maybe fill in some more of his beard this week.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January WIPocalypse

WOW!!  My last post struck a chord with a lot of stitchers!!!  I was frustrated when I wrote it and needed to get it off my chest before I did something silly like throw the piece under the next train. I certainly was not expecting the response I got.  Lots of horror stories out there, but I think the winner of the worst is Natasha at A Stitchers Ramblings that has a chart with only three symbols for the entire thing - one square and two different sized circles!   I would probably burn it before I finished the piece.

It's cloudy and I can't see it, but calendar says there is full moon out there today and so it's time for WIPocalypse!!!  WIPocalypse? You ask?  Yep, WIPocalypse, it's hosted by Melissa over at Measi's Musings.  She started the SAL in 2012 as a way to finish all finish some make progress on our WIPs before the world ended in December.  Well the world didn't end at least as far as I can tell, but who knows maybe it did and we're all really living in some alternate reality - that sounds much too much like one of those philosophy questions we used to get in school and my brain is really not up for that discussion right now but a lot of WIPs were actually finished and a fair number had progress made on them.  As it was so successful, she graciously continued hosting last year despite the small issue of becoming Mom to the very cute Max and all the time *that* entails and again this year.  If you're interested in participating, click on the dragon logo and it will take you to the sign-up and basic information page.

This year she gave us some general themes for our monthly posts. This month we're introducing ourselves and discussing our plans and goals.

I think most of "me" is in that little blurb up in the right hand bar, but I'll do it again anyway - I'm Susan and I live in northern central Virginia as opposed to southern northern Virginia which starts about 20 miles up the road.  I have lived here for about six years.  I lived in New Hampshire for the twenty-one years before that and all over before that as my father was a career Army officer and my first DH was also career Army.  The family here is made up of The Hubs and three spoiled rotten cats I suspect that spoiled rotten cat is a redundant statement.  DSon still lives in New Hampshire and, no, I don't get to see him as often as I'd like darn jobs!!!  I have been stitching for close to thirty years I blame my addiction on my Mother as she told me all about this neat "new" craft of cross stitch and how she thought I'd enjoy it well, I never do things by half and jumped right in and have not looked back that part I can't blame on anyone but me.  In addition to cross stitching, I enjoy paper, bead and fabric crafts and am teaching myself to knit (again), I also do a lot of reading and am always open to trying new crafts which usually gets me in trouble - see above comment about "halves".

I have five projects on my list this year.  I expect a couple of finishes, but am really only looking for progress on these:
  • Santa's Magic by Mirabilia
  • Enchanted Swans by Just Nan
  • Elegant Doily by Kayann's Kreations
  • Serengeti by Chatelaine
  • Three Tulips by With Thy Needle and Thread
You can see the January 1st photos in the 2014 WIPocalypse and YOTA projects tab up there at the top.  As I finish a project, I will randomly pull a "new" one from the WIP list over there on the right hand side of my blog except for the Just Nan piece, it will be replaced by another Just Nan piece as I am participating in that SAL too.

So far, here is what I have accomplished on the WIPs since the last full moon I have stitched on other pieces, but they aren't on the list and will show up in other SAL posts.

Santa's Magic had a fair bit of work done on it:

Here is the before:

And here he is now:

As did Enchanted Swans:


And after.  Yes, this is a finish!

Elegant Doily saw a little bit of work.

This is a close up of the section on the right on the before photo
And finally, Serengeti is on the frame right now.

This weekend is the first International Hermit and Stitch (IHSW) weekend.  I have a new small going into the frame tomorrow, Serengeti will be worked on Saturday and Santa's Magic will go back onto the frame on Sunday.  If you are interested in promoting stitching over less interesting things like housework this coming weekend, click on the little hermit crab in the right menu bar and it will take to Random Ramblings and give you all the information you need to participate.

Thank you for sticking around until the end of this rather long post, I promise, they are not all like this!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dear Designer

Dear Designer,

While stitching one of your designs, I ran into this situation:

I see that these are different symbols, but they are very similar and while stitching I really only glance at the pattern, so there is the possibility, or in my case, the probability that I will see "circle with a line through it" and not register left slant or right slant until it is too late.  This area is actually an easy "see" as there are places in the pattern that these two symbols are mixed together.

I do know that it is my responsibility as a stitcher to double and triple check symbols and fiber colors, but I must admit that I find it hard to believe that the designing software had only 25 symbols available which required the use of the above two as well as "<" and ">" in this piece. 

Yes, things have come a long way from the hand drawn charts that we used to purchase and I am very thankful for that, but please, for my sanity could you please mix up the symbols a little bit?

Thank you,

Frustrated Stitcher

Saturday, January 4, 2014


It's YOTA Saturday!!  YOTA is a SAL that focuses on finishing up those WIPs you have hanging around.  You can find out all about it at Pull The Other Thread.

I have two WIPs that I worked on this round.  First was Santa's Magic by Mirabilia.

Here is where I was on the first Saturday of December:

And here is where I am today:

He's stitched on 32-count opalescent Ametrine from Silkweaver Fabrics with DMC, Kreinik, Wisper and Delica beads.  I haven't done any beading yet but have converted the called for Mill Hill beads to Delica as I prefer Delicas and on a 32-count hand-dyed fabric, I think the Mill Hills would be too tight.  There are no exact matches but I got close besides, nobody will know they aren't "right" unless they put one done with Mill Hill next to mine to compare and that doesn't seem very likely. 

Second was Enchanted Swans by Just Nan:

I started this project in 1999 as an on-line class with Tapestry of Dreams.  When I picked this back up the beginning of 2013, only the top left motif was stitched.  Here's where I left off in May or June of this year:

And here it is finished!!

This was stitched on 28-count Smokey Pearl Cashel with Au Ver a Soie, Rainbow Gallery and unknown beads and pearls and charm.   

Next up in the rotation is Elegant Doily.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First 2014 TUSAL

What a great way to start the new year - a SAL check-in!!  Here is my first TUSAL check-in for 2014.

I switched containers this year as it was hard to see the ORTS in the fancy candy dish I used last year, so 2014 gets a plain ol' Mason jar.  The piece in the background is the ginormous hardanger doily I've been working on since dinosaurs roamed the earth for ages and there are still millions thousands lots of eyelets to stitch, not to mention the cutting and pulling.

If you're interested in participating in a no pressure, fun SAL, click the button and read all about it.  No pressure, nothing special to stitch, nothing to keep track of, except the new moon and your orts.