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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stitching and Opera

Good Morning!  Here is finally a stitching update, as promised! 
I am starting to get pretty comfortably convinced that I will actually finish this sampler!  I still have some invisible stitching left to do - all the grout between the bricks needs to be stitched in, of course using the color that looks pretty much exactly the same as the linen color.  I also have to fill in the outlined sunflower and add one more.  I am still lacking the two men riding on the horses and Anne Maria's text is missing from top.  After that, all I have to do is "fill in the colors".  As may be visible in the photo below, I have finally started on the queen stitches. 
I took the step and begun by filling in three of the baskets - the ones resting against the bottom border - this weekend.  I would estimate that one basket takes about 1 hr to complete, so give me 9 more hours and all the baskets will be in!  ;-)  There is not telling how many more hours the border will take....  I am having a lot of fun with this project still, so I am delighted about that and not really in a hurry!

Other stitching updates!  When I told you that I wasn't "really in a hurry" 2 seconds ago, guess what - I lied!  I am in a hurry!  I have a few things that I really would like to finish quickly, because they are to be gifts for very important occasions and people in my life.
The first one is a birth sampler.  My Little Sister is having her second child any day now.  She is doing great - she has been on sick-leave to avoid an early birth.  She is a high-risk case and we are so happy that she lasted over the magical 36 week mark this time.  As a stitcher you start to think about which birth sampler to stitch, right!?   So, this gets so much trickier when the parents-to-be-again refuses to find out if the child is a boy or a girl.  Last time, I stitched a really large sampler that took a lot of energy to stitch thanks to a very bad chart job and the fact that the design is Assisi work (which is a style I love BTW).  Not only were the symbols minute, but the chart designer opted to eliminate the thicker grid-lines that mark every tenth square... bah!  Well, after a lot of sweating, it turned out all right, if I may say so myself:
My thought was that this may be a sampler that the grown-up child may actually hang on her wall, since I don't see it happening while she still is a child....  No offense to the parents; some people are simply not into stitched pieces or hanging stuff on their walls period.  Well, needless to say, I would like for the new baby's sampler to be of equal "stitch-time value", comparable size, etc.  I'd rather not re-stitch the same design, as can probably be understood.  I have finally made up my mind - it will be a Prairie Schooler from Wedding and Birth Samplers II - look here, the one with the birds (of course):
The photo was borrowed from Be Happy's blog!  Ok, so it may be quite a bit smaller, but I like it, it looks like a fun and quick stitch, it is definitely a unisex design, the extra colors is a bonus and makes the finished work look "more complex", and it has birds so there is not going to be any doubts that it is from me!
Here is a picture of the runner up - I stitched this one for a coworker's daughter a few years back:
I am thinking that maybe it is a tad too girlie for a boy?  By the way, the new mother actually cried when she opened the package with this sampler!  That is a reaction that I have never whitnessed before or after since.  What about you guys - any stories to share in that department?  (Reminds me of a comment that P.Snickety gave me after a cross-stitch show-and-tell at work a few months back: "oh, did you do that yesterday?"  She laughs about that now, after she started stitching herself....)
Before I stop on the birth sampler theme, let me just say that suggestions and comments would be much appreciated!  Nothing is set in stone yet - I have not bought any linen, floss, or beads, so if you have an idea, please, please, please feel very warmly welcome to share; the train has not left the station and there may be other trips to take that are even better!

Other great news:  Just Nan's Birdcage is coming along quickly -  half a bird more and the outside of the folder is complete.  We have also recruited a new member; The Boss.  She is really interesting to talk with, very smart, and really generous with sharing her experiences from the perspective of a lady who has been with our engineering company for close to 25 years!  She was very happy to join us for our lunch stitching sessions and it is wonderful that the group keeps growing.  She is stitching on a really long book-mark for her daughter and she is making quick progress.

Another fun thing - I won a charm pack from Fig Tree Designs during the Moda Pillow Talk.  P.Snickety and The Barbarian were not impressed at all, since they didn't really see the use of the 5" by 5" charm squares.  Me, I am thrilled to win something - period!!!   I knew that there was no chance that I'd win based on pure luck - that is just not how I roll (hah -  get the joke!?!?), so already going into it, my strategy was to rely on hard work.  Fig Tree's owner Joanna Figueroa had 4 different ways to win something from her Pillow Talk post, one of which was to get at least 5 fabric line guesses right from either the buttons or the strips that she used to make this pillow (picture taken from Joanna's blog):
She posted the correct answer today - 10 collections were used for the 13 creme strips used (these were the ones that I tried to get right).
Let me tell you, my eyes were pretty much bleeding by the end of the 2 hr session spent on looking at the teensy photo and all the fabric collections that Joanna has released through Moda (19!!!).  I got the congratulation-send-me-your-address e-mail from her yesterday!  She picked out 40 charm-pack winners - out of a total of 1,503 comments...  Can you imagine the time it must have taken to go through them all!?  So, how did I do? - I got all of them right except from one.....  I tell you - this puzzle made the Superbowl fly by...  :-D

Well, before I go to bed, I have to share some great music with you.  I have always loved powerful & charismatic singers.  Theatrical is not a problem for me either.  I loved Whitney Hueston,  Mariah Carey has some pipes on her, I am always impressed with Celine Dion, and my absolute top-dream would be to be a fabulous and celebrated opera singer.  A dream that I have been told that my father's mother had too.  Unfortunately, she was told that "one artist in the family is enough" (my grandmother's older sister was a very talented painter).  Anyway, the opera dream is not a joke!  I would pick opera over being a successful cross-stitch designer (or engineer) any day!  One of the songs I used to "practice", while running between classes, in the awesome acoustics that the stairwells offered in my high school was this aria, "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" ("Hell's revenge boils in my heart"), which is the Queen of the Night's furious demand that her daughter kill the Queen's enemy (there is a long dialogue in German first - try to see if you get what they are speaking about.  I speak some German, but not well enough to grasp the details...):
This is the best interpretation I have found on YouTube - she is not hastening the tempo during the hard-to-sing (and very high) stacatto parts.  She is also making sure that each tone can be heard in the very advanced running passages towards the end.  Beautiful!!!

So, I know that many people (at least where I come from) wrinkle their nose at the mix between opera and pop music, even though I get the impression that The Three Tenors made it more acceptable to make opera more accessible to the everyday music lover....   So, tonight after I listened to about 10 interpretations of the Queen of the Night's aria, I continued by listening to the pop song La Voix with Swedish mezzo-soprano Malena Ernman - repeatedly.  She is only 2 years older than I am....  sigh!  I could have skipped the engineering path and done something with my life!  (Yes, I am slightly bitter... ;-))
If you are a Swede and reading this, I bet that you have heard this song so many times that you can't stand it any longer, but I just found this on YouTube today and I love it more and more.  I kinda' wish that DH would go to work already, so that I can sneak down to the basement to "practice"....  ;-)
Plus, her make-up team are welcome to move into my guest bedroom any day - they can pay me in prep time before work...  The eyeliner won't be necessary, but the skin - wow!

No stitching or blogging tomorrow!  I have to finish the two designs that were chosen to be printed on shirts for the hash group!  I am excited, but I'd better get them done before I celebrate too much

So with this, I am bidding you adieu - you have to imagine me singing it to you!
Happy Stitching and Singing!!!!


  1. Hej syster! Lika imponerad varje gång över dina verk! Imponerande. Vad fint Sveas duk är, har inte sett den innan tror jag. Vad glad jag blev att höra att du kommer hem även om anledningen är tråkig. Längtar! Puss
    Ps. Tror du hade gjort succé på operascenen! Ds

  2. Your sampler is coming along nicely, Jenny. I love the muted colors on it.

    Queen of the Night is one of my all time favorites. There are no words to describe its perfection.

    Good luck with all your stitching plans. Holy moly... I had to take a deep breath just reading about everything you have planned, but I'm sure you'll accomplish them all. :D