Friday, January 30, 2015

D.E.S.I.G.N. for January Designers Everyone Should Instantly Get to Notice is hosted by Leonore and is a way to spread the word about different designers. My first thought when I saw this SAL was, "I don't stitch anybody's work that everybody doesn't already know about", but I went ahead and signed up because maybe, just maybe I do.
This month I worked on two pieces, one by Lizzie*Kate and the other by Homespun Elegance, but will focus on Homespun Elegance as I don't see her pieces in blogger land to often. The piece I worked on, and finished, was Blessings to All:
This was a freebie from either her blog, Plain & Fancy Merchant or website Homespun Elegance several  years ago. Leonore provided a list of questions/topics for each post (which I love as I don't have to think too hard):

Have you stitched a design by this designer before?  I have stitched one other Christmas ornament, but I can't find a picture of it. I do have many of her Cinnamon Stick Santas kitted and waiting for their turn in the rotation.

Would you buy/stitch a design by this designer again? Why or why not? Definitely. While primitives are not my usual style, there is something about her designs that do appeal to me. I saw a display of her finished annual Christmas ornaments at Haus Tirol in Williamsburg, Virginia and wanted almost every one and of course the Santas.

What made you chose this particular design/designer? Although Sandra has been designing for years, there are 20 of the Santas alone, I hadn't heard of her until I moved to Virginia. I did a search for cross stitch stores in Virginia and Homespun Elegance came back as hit. I immediately went to the website and found she was located in Fredericksburg which is only 35 miles from my house so I was thrilled. I was less thrilled when I saw that it wasn't a store but a designer's page, but when I saw all the designs, I was thrilled again.
Did you notice anything that distinguished this designer from others? What I really liked is that while her designs have evolved, she has remained true to her style.  Perhaps it is easier with primitives but so many designers have lost me when they started chasing the latest trend or changed their styles so drastically as to be unrecognizable. I do understand growing does sometimes lead to changes, but not such that I can no longer tell that a piece is by A, B or C. I also like that she frequently has companion pieces to her stitched pieces available on her blog and Etsy shop.

Monday, January 26, 2015

And chaos ensued

January - $0 spent - $0 earned (I'll explain this a bit later)

When we last left this blog, the comment was, that DFIL was in the hospital. We thought it was for tests, at worst stents, for his heart and that he would be home in a day or so. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple and his "I'm not feeling too good but I'm fine" turned into triple by-pass surgery. Fortunately, he was taken to *the* cardiac hospital in the area. The doctors have all said that if he hadn't come in when he did, he wouldn't have made it through the night. He went home Friday and is resting,  recovering and promising that he won't ever say he is "fine" again! I stayed with them through the weekend and think everything is at an easy maintenance level in both the house and kennels.

So, stitching - well there wasn't much. I threw my travel project bag in my backpack, but as I was able to connect to the hospital's wifi system, I spent most of my waiting room time working and talking with DSIL and DMIL and I was just too worn out over the weekend to stitch.

While I didn't stitch, I also didn't stash which makes my first
report easy. For January:

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

This year's SAL also allows us to earn extra money for finishes from stash, but I don't plan to take advantage of that feature. I did start three pieces mostly from stash in January, Christmas Presence, Shakespearean Fantasy and Blessings to All.
I have shown my progress on CP and SF previously, but Blessings to All is a newbie for the blog.  It is a freebie from Homespun Elegance, or was, I can't seem to find it on either her blog or website.
It is stitched on a piece of mystery linen from my stash that is a bluish/grey color and I think 32-count, with DMC. The pattern mentions a brass angel which I suspect goes in the upper right area. I am still thinking on what, if anything to put there in its stead. Thinking on it, this piece will do double duty as my January  entry.  It is also my first finish for 2015.
I hope that things will settle down a little bit over the coming weeks so that I can settle back into a stitching routine and pay a bit more attention to my blog and SALs, but having DFIL home and healthy is worth missing out on a few things on-line.

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.