Sunday, May 2, 2021

A little behind my time

Rather than a leisurely lie-in on Friday (my day off), I had to get up earlier than I normally do for work, take my car to the garage and wait while they repaired the windshielf wiper motor.  To be fair, the motor worked just fine it just turned itself on and off at inappropriate times.  After getting that all sorted, I made a quick trip (if there is such a thing) to Trader Joe's and then home.  By then, my weekend schedule was thrown completely off kilter and here I am blogging on a Sunday.  Not just a Sunday, but the first Sunday in May!!!  

I think this one's going to be long, so grab a cuppa your favorite:

The bird sightings for this blog are very colorful.  A pair of rose-breasted grosbeak.  Here's a picture of a male and female from the Birds & Blooms website:

We are in their migratory area so they'll only be around for a few days to maybe a week but always nice to have them stop by.

We also had a brief stop by of four or five ruby-throated hummingbirds last week.  Here's a picture of  a male from The Spokesman-Review: (not my local paper, but a very good picture)

As best as I could tell, there were three males and two females.  We usually have two or three pairs that stay through the summer, butI haven't seen any that look like they're settling in yet.

And while I was typing, a male indigo bunting  joined the group at the feeders.  We're in their breeding area, but I only see them occasionally.  The photo is from The Cornell Lab.

But you're not here for birds are you?  How about:

No, that's not the latest picture of Baby W, that is a picture of the newest Baby L!  Jack and Cassie will have a sibling come October!  Another new one to meet!  And aren't the holidays going to be fun with five littles?

That news changes my crafting plans for the rest of the year.  As I need to do another blanket, birth notice/sampler and stocking, so April was probably the last month for my regular rotation.  I'll need to work out a new one as I don't want to lose the momentum I've built up on Goldie and Zen.

With that, here's a broad recap for April - I stitched for some amount of time on 27 days, I knit on 29 and took one day off from both.  

I'll start with the knitting.  The majority of my knitting time has been for Baby W's blanket.  

The pattern is Puffed Baby Blanket from Plymouth Yarn in Lion Brand Baby Soft in the Twinkle Print colorway.  I am well into the second ball of yarn.  This is a "knit until you're happy with the length" pattern so not sure how much more I have to do.  

On the 19th, the first clue for the Knights Who Say Knit mystery MAL dropped.  Clue 2 has dropped and Clue 3 will come out tomorrow, I still have two sections of Clue 1 to finish but I am very pleased with how it's coming along.  I have done a LOT of unknitting, ripping back and have even learned to ladder down but I'm counting those as gains as they are all things I will need to know in future projects.  There are still lots of mistakes but they are ones that I can live with.  Here's where I was through section 5 of part 1:

Knights Who Say Knit by Lyrical Knits.  Yarn from Miss Babs in Hamster and Elderberries 

And yes, that is an oldie but goodie Knights is sitting on - will get to that in a minute.

But, I just remembered   was last Sunday and my next project falls under it.  WIPocalypse is hosted by Melissa at Measi's Musings.  It's an encouraging SAL to remind us to give a little love to the pieces we've already started even though that or that or that new start is calling.  When I posted last I had four days left on my Japanese Zen Moss Garden by Chatelaine.  You can see previous progress pictures from April here.  In the days that were remaining in its rotation it went from here:   to here:   Here's a closer look:  

You can also see my progress on Goldie in the previous post.  She's the other project on my WIPocalypse list this year.  Melissa gives us prompts each month and April's was:  Have you found yourself to be more or less productive in your stitching during the Covid-19 pandemic?  This is an easy one for me - MUCH more productive.  As I've mentioned, I used to get up at 3:45 AM, leave my house by 4:45AM, return about 7:45 PM and was in bed by 9:00 PM so not a lot of time for much of anything.  My stitching/crafting time was limited to a few hours on the weekends and whatever I could manage on the train (although the train had become so crowded that it was difficult to do any stitching).  Since I've been working from home, I've not only gained the commuting time but several additioal hours as I don't have to go to bed with the sun (well that saying only works in the summer but...).  My biggest issue was getting myself out of the mindset of "I don't want to get settled as I don't know when this will end".  I still feel that way, but we have been told we will be given at least 30 days notice before we have to come back into the office and once back in the office, we'll still be on, as best as I can tell, a very telework heavy schedule.  I believe I'll be teleworking four days a week.  They haven't given any guidance on our schedule if we're on an alternate work schedule like I am.  It is possible, I may only have to go in one day every other week.

Once I finished my 10 days on Zen, I pulled out Temperature Tree and added the rest of March's and through April 22nd's leaves.  
It is still a much cooler tree than last year, although there are a few warm days in there.  At some point I will post a comparison with last year's.

Once Temperature Tree was caught up, the Wheel of What's Next? was consulted and decided that Elegant Doily deserved some time.  The best I can tell, the last time this piece was on the frame was for a week in August of 2015.  This is one of my oldest WIPs.  I started it during my son's senior year in high school. His 20-year reunion is this year.  Here's where it was when I started   and when I finished up on Friday     and here's a closer look   Not a lot done. I finished cutting the diamond on the left and the squares in the diamond and started wrapping. This one takes me forever to get going on.  I will find anything to do but work on it.  Once I get started, it is enjoyable, but it takes SO much to get me started.  Hopefully, the Wheel of What's Next? will pick it again soon and I'll remember how relaxing it is to wrap those bars and sit down and start right away.

Phew! I think that's it.  Next time I hope to have my new rotation figured out.  

As I still haven't decided between two pieces for Baby W's announcement, I'm going to start one today to see if it sparks anything.  If not, maybe it will work for Baby L.  If not, I had it in my stash so I must have liked it and will have it done.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Spring has sprung

Spring has definitely arrived in central Virginia.  Everything, and I do mean everything, is blooming.  If the sneezing and itchy eyes weren't clue enough, seeing this  was a dead give-away.  Yes, that's a puddle covered in pollen.  You can even see where cars have driven through it and left tracks on the pavement.  As with many things, it's the pollen you can't see that really gets you.

Other than the start of yellow car season (the pollen is also nature's fingerprint powder, there are finger and hand prints all over my car where the pollen has stuck to the oils from our hands), there has been very little new happening the last year two weeks.  I have stitched and there has been knitting (which I always forget to take a picture of) despite really just wanting to curl up in a comfy chair and read.  

Looking at my crafting calendar, I'm only a day late for  which has got to be a new record for me and ties in perfectly with the two pieces I have worked on.  Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching (the link will take you to the Gifted Gorgeousness 2021 Sign-up Page, you can click on over to Jo's blog from there).  Jo started the SAL as a way for us to say "thank you" to everyone that gave us stitching goodness, or to show things that we're stitching for others or for anything you can shoehorn into the theme.  As I mentioned, I have two focus pieces in my rotation that are gifts.  The first is Goldie.  It is charted by Heaven and Earth Designs from a photograph my nephew took of my in-laws' dog and will be a Christmas gift for them.  Last time I showed it, it was here:

and when I put her away after her rotation time, she was here:

I am very happy with progress I made. I didn't follow through with my plan to stitch a length of blue for every dog color I stitched.  As Goldie became more and more recognizable, I wanted to see how she was really going to look.  She's stitched 1-over-1 on 28-count Antique White Monaco with DMC.

As soon as I put Goldie away, I put Japanese Zen Moss Garden on the frame.  This one is a gift for my son.  When it was put away after its last rotation, it was here:

and today it's here:

I am almost done with the lower left pond.  Once I finish the cross stitching there, I'll move out to the waterfall/bushes. This comes off the frame on the 20th, so a fair amount of time to get that done.  As I'm looking at the picture, I also need to square off one of the spaces in the lower right.  The pattern is from Chatelaine.  I'm stitching it on 32-count Summer Sky Jobelan from Wichelt using Martina's DMC conversion.  The bead kit is from European Crosstitch Company.    

Stitching and knitting tonight.  Tomorrow I am going to mow the lawn (although I think the battery will need to be charged before I can get the lawnmower started) and then stitch or knit the rest of the weekend.  Monday is the start of the Knights Who Say Knit KAL.  It's a 5-part mystery shawl knit along designed by Mary Annarella of Lyrical Knits.  The pattern is available on Ravelry and Payhip.  I used my birthday money (thanks again Mom) and splurged on the "Hamsters and Elderberries" yarn set  from Miss Babs (photo from the Miss Babs website).  I haven't done a KAL but don't expect that I'll keep up with it any better than I do a SAL, but I will enjoy the journey.

Hope you are all well.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Pretty busy couple of weeks

 I know it's only been two weeks but sure seems longer.  I think part of the reason is that I worked on four different pieces during my ten days of "pick a stitch" at the end of the month.  I'm used to seeing three pieces a month, so if there were six, it has to have been a long time.  

Lots going on in the family the last couple of weeks.  A couple of highlights:

Grady let us know...

He's going to be a really good big brother.  The photo started my search for a pattern for an announcement.  I've found two in my stash - Baby Bug Ball and Sophie's Roses both by Shepherd's Bush - that I keep coming back to, but I haven't started surfing for patterns yet. 

Next was that DS moved into his first Michigan apartment (he lived in several when he lived in New Hampshire).  As a housewarming gift, I did this for him:

The pattern is from Ampyfied on Etsy.  The fabric is 32-count Pacific Sunset from Sunny*Dyes Fabric and the thread is DMC.  The only change I made was to stitch the heart in red.  I'm planning to finish this as a pillow.  I've got it in my head to have a cartoon-ish fabric on the back (I'm sure I can find Godzilla fabric on Etsy) with black piping. 

Stitching-wise, Japanese Zen Moss Garden had one more day of rotation.  I had grand plans of getting the center finished and some beading started.  Unfortunately, I realized that I'd done Algerian eyelets instead of Rhodes stitches in a couple of places and had to do some frogging.  So while no beads, I did get most of the center done.  Here's where it was:

and here's the center with the specialty stitches done - most of those blank areas are beads or crystals:

After finishing Zen's 10-days, I put Temperature Tree by StitchinMommy on Etsy on the frame and finished off February and got March started.

See those four gold/yellow leaves?  That's the end of winter in central Virginia.  We'll still have cool evenings and even a cool day or two - like today's 45 F - but we won't have any more really cold snaps. 

Once I got the leaves on the tree, I picked up my secret stitching and got it finished.  I do need to finish-finish it, but I have a bit of time before it needs to be done.  After that finish, I started and finished May Godzilla Destroy This Home Last.  I had a few days left in the month, so spun the  wheel of what's next? and worked on Garden Fair by Courtney Collection.  I started this in January of  2020.  It's been touched once since.  When I last stitched on it, it was here:

and when I put it away after it's 2-1/2 evenings of stitching, it was here:

The before picture is wrong way around, I started this one in the lower right corner for some reason - I'm sure it made sense when I did it.  I'm stitching this on 40-count Mallow using Anchor black and DMC 817.  I will eventually frog the red corner motif but I wasn't in the mood for 1-over-1 frogging.  

Goldie went back on the frame for her ten days yesterday.  I didn't get enough stitches in last night for them to be noticable, so no progress picture of her.

And before I totally forget, last Sunday was WIPocalypse check-in day.  Fortunately, Melissa keeps that post open for stragglers.

Melissa at Measi's Musing started in 2012 so we had a place to show the projects we wanted to finish before the end of the world and it's just kept going.  Click on the badge at the top and it will take you to the official basics - there is also a Facebook group if you're more comfortable there.  I have two official WIPocalypse pieces, Goldie and Japanese Zen Moss Garden.  Zen's current picture is back just a bit in this post and Goldie's most recent picture is in my last post.  There are cues each month and this month's is: What is your process for working on WIPs? Are you a one-at-a-time stitcher, a rotation stitcher, or something else?  I am primarily a rotation stitcher.  I have had as many as 25 and as few as two projects in a rotation.  25 was right out - touching something for an average of two weeks a year did not make for much progress but it did provide a lot of variety.  Two provided progress, but not a lot of variety.  This year, I've found a rotation that allows for both productivity and variety.  My WIPocalypse pieces are my focus pieces.  I stitch on Goldie from the 1st through the 10th of each month, Japanese Zen Moss Garden from the 11th through the 20th, on the 21st I add leaves to Temperature Tree and then I spin the wheel of what's next? and work on that project through the end of the month or until I get tired of it.  If I get tired of it, I spin the wheel again and work on that project until the end of  the month, or until I get tired of it, repeat as needed.  Basically, those last 10 days are "stitch what I want with some guidelines".  BUT all that changes when I have a project with a deadline.  2020 was primarily a one-at-a-time year with two littles joining the family so double the announcements and Christmas stockings.  I will go OAAT once I find an announcement for Baby Girl W and when her Christmas stocking is picked.  I will probably replace my last 10 days with knitting as the blanket is taking much longer then expected (which I tend to say about all my projects)  I'll pick my rotation back up when I've finished all her stitching.  Going back into the office will also require me to evaluate my rotation, but we'll not talk of that right yet.

I havn't done any stitching today and not sure I will.  I had a cramp in my right hand this afternoon and it still hurts.  Sounds like a good evening to read.

Hope everyone is well.

Friday, March 19, 2021

TUSAL, Gifted Gorgeousness and it's IHSW

 So far my blogging and stitching plans are working of course I have now cursed both of them.  I am making progress on both but not stressing myself out.  I think my brain has finally settled into this "new" and I'm not thinking too hard on "what happens when I have to go back to the office".  Based on an email from the Secretary (of Agriculture) my "when" sounds like it's still a ways off and even when we reach that point, it will be very different than before.  He is reinstating our old telework policy that allowed for up to four days of telework per week and they're doing position reviews to see which ones can be done virtually (obviously the majority can as we've been doing it for a year now).  My direct manager is all on with the four days of telework, and hopefully upper management will be too I did hear that our Director said that managers had better have a very good reason for not allowing maximum telework so it sounds promising.  

Looking back at my stitching  "journal",   was March 13th.  TUSAL is hosted by Sharon at It's Daffycat and is a just-for-fun collecting SAL.  What do you have to collect?  All those little snips of thread or yarn or what-have-you that you normally have hanging on your pants leg  throw away.  Instead of throwing them away, put them in a decorative jar and on the new moon, post a picture.  I'm a little late but fortunately, this isn't a high stress SAL.  Here's what's in my jar right now:

I added quite a bit of frog fuzz this month. It really is leaning towards darker/earth tone colors right now, except for that splash of blue Kreinik, isn't it?

check-in is the 15th of each month, but our lovely hostess, Jo at Serendipitous Stitching keeps the check-in open until the end of the month.  What is Gifted Gorgeousness?  It's our chance to thank everyone that has given us stitching gifts, or to show things we're stitching as gifts or anything else you can shoehorn into the theme of "gift".  I have two focus pieces that fit perfectly in this SAL as they are both gifts.

Goldie is charted by Heaven and Earth Designs and is a gift for my MIL and her husband.  I was coming to the tail end of her rotation time in my last post but will show from the beginning of her rotation time.

She started here the 1st of March and when her 10 days were up, she was here: LOTS of blue was filled in, there was some frogging and restitching, lots of body stitching and all that brown in her face.  EXCEPT the majority of the "brown" is DMC 934 which is actually a green, "Black Avocado Green" according to the DMC website.  It is things like that color choice that lead me to ask no questions when stitching a HaED pattern.  Should a green work, not in my mind, but it does.

After Goldie came off the frame, Japanese Zen Moss Garden went on.  This one is a gift for my son.  It was here at the start of its 10 days:  

and today it's here:    I finished the Buddah - that took the better part of a weekend, I'm not sure why it gave me so much trouble - added some of the "stones" in the water section, and started the fill-in of the center - lots of Rhodes stitches and Algerian eyelets.  It will be on the frame today and tomorrow and I am aiming to finish the center fill-in and maybe add some beads.  Chatelaines can be very heavily beaded, like all those swirls around the sandy center, so I add the Delica beads as I go, so I'm not facing days or weeks of beading at the end.  I'll roll a piece of quilt batting or sometimes a tea towel into the top scroll bar to keep them from damaging the fabric - if I use a tea towel it also provides a nice dust cover for my stitching.

This weekend is also March's   What is IHSW?  It happens on the third full weekend of each month and is permission for you to take time for yourself and stitch while knowing stitchers around the world are doing the same thing.  No set amount of time, no minimum or maximum number of stitches, no specific project, just stitch when you can from your Friday to your Sunday night. You can participate in blogland or the Facebook group.  As I mentioned, Zen will be on the frame today and tomorrow.  Sunday I'll fill in leaves on Temperature Tree and then work on my secret stitching piece.  Once that piece is done, I'll spin the "what next" wheel for my rest of the month stitch.

I have also been knitting and crocheting but I keep forgetting to take pictures.  While I'm not working on it right now, I did rip out what I had on my Heavy Metal Shawl.  I just wasn't happy with how it was working up - I did get a new needle - a Hiya Hiya Sharp (my favorites) - so am hoping that will make some difference when I start it again.

Hope everyone is well and has a chance to hermit and stitch this weekend.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Well, that was rougher than I thought

As a just-in-case, if you can, take at least the day after your second COVID vaccine off from work  housework just being human - I sailed through my first one with a sore arm and about a week later very swollen lymph nodes on the shot side lemme tell ya', that scared the pants off me!  Got to the CDC's website to see if it was a side effect of the vaccine - yes in about 11% of the cases (and mostly women report it - I wonder if that's because we're so attuned due to self-exams and mammograms or if it really is more common in women) and can take two to six weeks to go away.  PHEW!!!.  Anyway, figured the same for the second.  HAH! Within hours, arm pain.  Then the flu-like symptoms hit - for me body/joint aches, fatigue and a fever.  Suffice it to say I was fully down for the count for one day and just so "blah" on the second as to have been useless.  I woke up this morning feeling just fine and yes, the last two days were worth it.  None of the stories should keep you from having the vaccine because your mileage will vary - the nurse that did my shot said she had a slight headache and The Hubs had a sore arm - just be prepared for the possibility of side effects.  

So stitching:

Japanese Zen Garden from Chatelaine was at the very end of its rotation time when I last posted.  When I put it away it was here:

I finished the stitching in the lower right corner and some of the backstitching in both corners and, fixed a Kreinik error in the upper corner - used the wrong color - and started the Buddha representation in the right center.  I'm doing it one over one so it really doesn't look like much right now.  All in all, not bad progress during the rotation.

I then pulled out Temperature Tree by Stitchin' Mommy and got it to here:

It is done through February 22nd.  The January 31st leaf used a color that didn't show up in 2020's tree at all - for the 32 to 35 F range - and it was used in four leaves in February.  The next three leaves in February will show the end of winter at my house.  We may get a cold day or two, like this weekend, but we won't have any more extended cold snaps.

After I finished working on the tree, I started a new piece, but as it's a gift and I'm not sure if the person it's for reads this, so I'll hold off showing it until it's been gifted.  I will say, it's a small, I'm about half done, there's an awful lot of stitching for a small, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working on it.

Goldie went back on the frame Monday of this week and I put in 362 stitches that evening.  I was watching a lecture series put on by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on early life and was not paying as much attention to my stitching as I should have been because Tuesday, I spent most of my stitching time frogging...  For her, I'll show a before and after...



You can see the ghost of some of the ripping in the lower right.  The ghost area and the stitching to the immediate left of it in the "Before" picture is what was ripped.  There's still a bit to put back and I hope to get that done today.  As I missed three evenings of stitching, there won't be as much progress as previous month's.

I almost forgot - I have a check-in for .  WIPocalypse provides us with some incentive to finish up those WIPs we might have hanging around.  Melissa at Measi's Musings is our host and all the information can be found here.  Zen and Goldie are my WIPocalypse pieces this year, but it's a flexible SAL so I can add as I need.  There's a one-month challenge going on this month, but as I missed three days of stitching, I'll wait for the next one.  Also, if you're participating in other focus SALs, you can count all of that towards your WIPocalypse month challenge.  Melissa also gives us writing cues each month and February's was:  What SALs are you participating in this year?  I loosely participate in several.  I say loosely as I seldom make the posting deadline like this one or forget about it but do it anyway like IHSW - International Hermit and Stitch Weekend but I am trying to get better at each of those things.  So this year, I am trying to keep up with WIPocalypse, Gifted Gorgeousness hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching, and International Hermit and Stitch Weekend. I'm also trying to keep up with TUSAL (Totally Useless SAL).  I would love to join other SALs but it's still so up in the air as to when they'll start wanting us back in the office, I hate to commit to more and then fall flat as that is totally demoralizing.

I had more to show than I thought, hopefully that keeps up.

See you in a couple weeks.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Start of winter

 So, in my last post, I said February was either the end of winter or just the start - this year it's just the start.  Like most of you, storms have lined up with little respite in between.  Unlike many of you, it hasn't been Arctic cold (although much colder than average) and we haven't yet lost power (although we were as prepared as we could be in case we did).  The latest winter storm warning has been lifted and it looks like we'll warm up into the high 30s F for the next couple of days so the ice should all melt off before the next storm hits on Monday.

The birds have been mobbing the feeders all week.  Most of them are seed eaters and the ice has covered all the grasses they rely on through the winter.  No unusual sightings this week, but a couple of robins (American robins are in the thrush family while European robins are in the flycatcher family so same name/different birds) are hopping around in the yard right now.  They will appreciate a bit of a thaw.

Before we get to the making, I have been very remiss in showing pictures of this young lady:

Cassie is almost 8 months old now and is a very happy, smiley little girl.  She is also very much a little night owl.  Although today she seemed to be much more of a morning lark - I guess there's just too much going on for her to miss any of it.  

Sooo, making happened and it all aligns with the two SALs that I'm also doing check-ins for.  

First, the easiest SAL you'll ever participate in   TUSAL is hosted by Sharon at It's Daffycat (clicking there should take you to February's post).  If you want a no stress event, this one's for you.  If you craft there are always little bits of leftovers.  Save them up in a container rather than tossing them (or wearing them to work on your pants) and every month on the new moon (I said "full moon" in my last post - sorry for any confusion), post a picture and then link over to the check-in post.  Here's the bits I've generated since the beginning of the year:

My actual stitching fits perfectly into  Gifted Gorgeousness is hosted by Jo at Serendipitous Stitching.  It is the perfect way to say "thank you" to people that have given you stitching goodness or to highlight gifts you are stitching or show stitching that you can shoehorn into the theme.  Stitch, take a picture and post around the 15th of each month.  Jo said she keeps the check-in open through the end of the month so plenty of time to get your check-in done.  My two focus pieces fit the SAL perfectly Goldie and Japanese Zen Garden.

Goldie was charted by Heaven and Earth Designs from a picture my SIL took of my in-law's dog and will be a Christmas gift some year for the in-laws.

In my last post she was here and now she's here

I decided that as there was miles and miles of blue stitching once her head was finished that I would complete one color in the head and then do one or two lengths of blue.  I am afraid that if all I have left is all that blue, I'll stall out and I really would like to get this finished sooner than later.  She's done on 28-count antique white Monaco with DMC - 1 over 1 with full crosses.

The next piece is Japanese Zen Moss Garden by Chatelaine.  This will be my son's when it's done.  When I finished in January, it was here  and today it's here
I'm stitching this on 32-count Summer Sky Jobelan with Martina's DMC conversion (except for a couple of threads that didn't have a good substitute) and the called for PTB and beads.  I was making very slow progress on this one.  I thought it was just a lighting issue, but it ended up being a magnification issue (guess 32-count is now my limit with my current glasses).  I moved my magnifier over and things are now moving along nicely (after I fixed all the miscounts).  Zen is on the frame through tomorrow.  

Even my knitting falls into Gifted Gorgeousness as this is for Baby W.  I was not happy with the way the blanket was looking so I ripped it out and started again.  I am much happier now.  Here is the whole blanket and here is a closer look    I have some work to do on uniformity but I suppose an individual bubble won't show up in the hundreds (thousands?) that will be in the finished blanket. This is three full repeats of the pattern, so only 20 more to go.

As I mentioned, Zen is on the frame until tomorrow.  I hope to finish the corner bit and maybe do some of the specialty stitches in the center before it goes away until next month.  Temperature Tree by Stitchin' Mommy will be going on the frame Sunday.  I hope to finish the branches and get caught up with the leaves fairly early in the "leftover" days in February.  I'll spin the wheel of projects to fill in the rest of the time.

Hope you are all well, safe and warm.