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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

RIP Princess

We will all miss you so much!
Your kisses and your great happiness.  
Your ears, always standing up, no matter what.  
Your white fluff, that flew everywhere.
How I wish that you were still here so that I could hold you again.
I love you, always! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Happy TV List (and some stitching updates)

Thanks for all your wonderful comments, it is always so nice to hear from all of you.  I know that I have been terrible about visiting all of you lately, but I have been pulled into the craziness of life yet again...  ;-)  I hope that I'll be able to make up for the neglect during the next few days - I am really curious to see what you all are working on!

I did get a question a couple of weeks ago from Bird Cages: "Did you teach yourself all of this or did you originally learn from a class or someone else?".  Well, I learned the basics for cross-stitch in Swedish elementary school - reading a chart, keeping the back neat, making sure that all the legs are slanted in the same direction and so on.  The more advanced stuff I learned through some great designers and kits, and I was really into the designs by The Drawn Thread for a while, learning a lot of specialty stitches.  Hillside Samplings had some really good kits back then too and her instructions were fantastic.  Thanks to Hillside Samplings, I got over the fear of finishing.
As I got more advanced, as in got more skilled in other counted work than cross-stitch (pulled, drawn, Hardanger, etc), I also invested in a few really good books (if you don't already have The Proper Stitch by Darlene O'Steen - get it!  Seriously!) and used the internet more to check on particular stitches.
I did also take a number of classes, but in all honestly, I think that very few stitchers take the classes I have taken to learn new techniques, but rather to get their hands on some fabulous projects, get away from the everyday grind, make new stitching friends and meet up with old ones.  (The exception is probably the Lucet class with Sherri Jones of Patricks Woods, where we learned how to make lucet cord.  That was a lot of fun!)
Speaking of Hardanger, check out this fabulous Christening gown adorned with Hardanger lace over at the Sinister Craftiness'.  Wow, oh wow!

Well, time to get down to the good stuff!  LOL  The big update for this week is the progress on the EMS sampler.  Here it is complete with part 7 all stitched up.  (I did my usual cheating and stitched up the repeating cherry border... patience?  What is that...?  :-))  It is getting closer - almost 2/3rds there!
Below you can see a close-up of the latest additions.  The puppy and the sweet cherry border were by far the easiest stitches, while the two flower clusters to the right took some time and concentration.  I really do like how the flowers turned out; they look so delicate and transparent (you can probably see it better if you click on the pic).  The white flowers are part of a larger motif, which I am real anxious to spend some more time with in a couple of weeks!
Can you believe that there are 23 floss shades in the small flower motif!?  All of the DMCs have been lined up next to the chart so that you can see how incredibly detailed these Biedermeier motifs can be.   I have a hard time grasping that I actually keep working on this sampler, since I am normally not a fan of switching colors every 30 seconds.  It is well worth the exception though; it is so much fun to see the motifs and the entire sampler slowly grow together into one large beauty!  It definitely helps that it is broken up into a bunch of smaller segments, or it would probably already have hit the UFO pile somewhere....  ;-)
Next assignment will be a quickie, so I am already looking forward to that part to come out.

The reindeer stocking did also get some TLC this week.  It sounds like all of you are in agreement that the red rounds are indeed their noses.  It was a fun stitch, even though it was a bit tricky to stitch with the overdyed floss so that the dark and light shades worked well together.  I am pleased, even though it is not as pretty as the original is.  I think that the stockings have turned out to be a great counter-point to the fiddlier switch-floss-every-second-stitch type projects, since there is a very limited amount of changing floss at all.  I think that the reindeer design required a total of 4 different floss-colors!
Perfect timing on the finising too - the next couple of socks in line to be stitched arrived in the mail-box the same day as the last reindeer nose had been completed.  I think that I do need a quick break from the stockings for now, but I'll try to get back to them in a week or two.  I am pretty excited about scavenging for some fun and matching cotton fabric for finishing.  I saw that the local Hancocks Fabrics just started displaying some of their Xmas fabrics, so I may have to go on a shopping trip pretty soon... LOL

The stitching focusing problem hit this week again.  This is the beginning of Just Nan's Lady Scarlet's Scissor Roll, started yesterday.  It has been a fun and pretty quick stitch so far, so it is hard to put away.

And I did get something finished-finished too.  Here is the set of Sweetheart Tree's seasonal welcomes hanging together on the wall.  As always, the idea in my head looked so much better than it ended up being in real life, but it is now on the wall!  All of it is simply pinned together, so it is not too late to get a better idea sometime in the future.....

Here are a couple of us chicks hanging out and discussing the latest news on the net and various TV shows.  Henny and Griffin are not picky; as long as there are no cats or prey birds on the screen, they really don't care a whole lot.  Meanwhile, mommy has watched a lot of positive TV shows lately, and even came up with a list of the current favorites.
The TV-Shows-That-Make-Me-Happy Top 5 List:
  1. Secret Millionaire - I love it! This show makes me cry, but that's all right - it makes the millionaires cry too.
  2. NY Med - I was lucky enough to catch the first episode and I really liked it!  Not all of the patients stories end well, which makes it even more inspiring and makes you think. Supposedly it is just an 8 episode series, but we'll see abut that.  Dr Oz is one of the stars of the show and I must say that I got a whole new respect for him after this show.
  3. The Biggest Loser - talk about inspiration!  Nothing is impossible!
  4. Extreme Makeover - Home Edition - it is so much fun to see the look on the faces of the receivers!  It is also good to learn about what other people struggle with in life; it definitely sheds a different light on the difficulties in my own life...
  5. So You Think You Can Dance?  - By watching this show I have learned that I don't get nearly as moved by song as I do by dance.  The talent pool in this show is simply incredible.
They are all great alternatives to the celebrity gossip, the negative news and the outrageously bad talk-shows (like Jerry Springer and Maury.  No offense to the fans out there, like my DH...).

Anyway, those are the shows the chicks and I decided is what we think is the good stuff.  Any other tips about positive TV shows out there?  We are collecting!  LOL  We don't have cable or satellite though - but we do have Netflix!  (Speaking of, thy just added 4 more seasons of Hercule Poirot - I am in heaven!)

Well, time to get back to things here.  Take care and Happy Stitching,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Early Monday Morning...

Another Monday and life is good!  We got a splash of well-needed rain yesterday evening and it has finally cooled down a tad, so it is a great beginning of a new week.  The incredibly hot weather has forced us to sit indoors most of the time (I am not crying about that.. LOL), which means that a lot of weekend time has been spent stitching on a variety of things.
The In-Laws were down for a visit from Wednesday to Friday and we had a really nice and laid-back visit together.  I took the last couple of work-days off from the lab, so I feel well-rested as you can see.  DH's and my new life-style involves "going to bed at a reasonable hour", which meant that I could not get back to sleep after waking up at 5 AM this morning...  He is happily snoozing away though.

I don't know what to do with myself, but the reign of unfocused random stitching continues.  I decided to pull out the new partial kit I got from Scholehouse of the Needle, Frog Pin Keepe.  It really is a quick stitch (tent stitch, say no more) intended for 35 ct linen.  Since the LNS doesn't carry any 35 ct I opted for a small cut of 36 instead.
Here he is - ribbit!
 I love the back of tent stitched pieces, don't you?
There is a back-side to stitch up too before assembly, but it should be even quicker; just year, initials and a couple of simple dragonflies.  Very cute!  Scholehouse of the Needle's designs definitely reminds me of some of the old and OOP Historic Needlework Guild pieces (especially the Tent Stitch Etui and some of the ornament patterns).
(Next time, I'll throw in a quarter in the photo too, so that you can get a better feel for the size.)

We have been productive during out craft-lunches at work too.  The word is spreading and we have recently expanded to include no less than three crocheters.  It is odd how the dynamic of a group changes completely just by adding a few more people and stir.  It is really cool that so many crafters want to join, but it is no longer just a group containing my closer friends, which I know I'll miss.  On the other hand, it is always fun to hang out with new people!
Anyway, I finished the Spring piece from Sweetheart Tree last week.  I have really enjoyed stitching on this series.  I think that all but one was stitched during lunch breaks at work.
As for the winter piece, I changed the text from "Welcome Friends" to "Welcome Spring".  I also found the birds long beak pretty peculiar, so it got shortened - it doesn't look like he minds.  I like the small packets of bling that come with the SHT kits and this time is was small cherry-blossom beads.  Fun, fun, fun!  (And time to stat thinking about what to stitch on at work next.)

I did also finish the first SamSarah stocking!  I am getting used to the fact that all the pieces are a lot darker colored in reality and I think that I have almost gotten over it.. LOL  I do have the button embellishments and we decided that this one will be DH's stocking, so I just ordered the alphabet buttons too.
Here is the progress on the reindeer stocking.  It is pretty interesting; about 50% of people I have asked claim that the big red "balls" in front of the reindeer are ornaments, while I am in the other camp - I totally believe that the red balls are supposed to be their noses (see the cover pic in the upper left corner for a better view)!  Thoughts on that out there?

Yesterday evening I pulled this old Acufactum WIP back out.  It got thrown into the "don't wanna' stitch on this anymore" pile, since all that is left is about a billion French knots.  I got maybe half of them in yesterday and it won't be put away until the rest is done.  See the bird on the left below?  He is holding a sprig of dill... The dill crown is waiting for Fk in three different colors - all pretty much on top of each other.  At least the wings of the birds are now dotted!
 Dot, dot, dot...
So, I had great plans for this piece - it was supposed to magically become this adorable cafe-curtain with a polka-dot ruffle and pretty ribbons for ties.  Well, we have been looking for a new house lately, so I am thinking that I'd better hold the creativity back until I know how my future windows will look...

Finally, despite DH not giving his approval of posting this photo - here are a couple of snuggle bunnies - Alpha Bunny and Bubba.  Sometimes it is really good to be a small, black rabbit.

As always, thanks so much for following my blog and for all your wonderful comments.  It means more to me than I can express!

Take care and Happy Monday everyone!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Wonderful and Relaxing Stitching Weekend

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope that your weekend was as fabulous as mine was.  
I drove up to Indiana to hang out with Nan and Bzz*Bzz*Bee at Nan's for an entire weekend.  Traffic was crazy on the Friday afternoon.  Road-constructions, accidents and holiday traffic galore extended the driving time from 3 hrs up to 5!  It was definitely worth it, no question about it.

Here is the hostess stitching away on a beautiful piece, Animal Zoo by Blue Ribbon Designs.  She picked the perfect 40-ct linen and a gorgeous over-dyed floss.  This is really pretty sampler and it was a lot of fun to see it close-up.  She did a great progress too and even got time to stitch on a couple of other project over the three days we worked diligently in her basement.

Here is Bzz*Bss stitching away, almost lying down.  She did also get a bunch stitched, including a good portion of her I Sigh Not for Beauty SAL.  She is almost there!  She also brought us a bag each of absolutely wonderful gifts, a needle-threader and my absolute favorite being her home-made hand-scrub with a mint scent.  Yum!
We got spoiled by Stitchaholic too - she gave us a beautiful pair of scissors in a super-sweet scissors case.  I will try to remember to post photos next time.

Aaaah - this is life!

Yep, we got spoiled rotten plenty over the weekend... I have to specifically mention the awesome food, the comfortable beds, the gorgeous surroundings and our supportive and absolutely adorable stitching buddy, Nan's puppy (who is 12 years old).  He is just the sweetest!  Here he is posing for a pic before getting a snuggle from mom!

We dis also get a great lesson in how to finish stitched pieces into box stand-ups.  Bzz*Bzz brought a sweet piece and some pretty backing fabric that this efficient but easy technique was demonstrated on.
Ironing with a smile!
Measuring styrofoam.
Ta-daaa - isn't this adorable!?
We have asked Nan to post a tutorial on her blog, so I am crossing my fingers and hoping that she'll get a chance to do that.

I stitched away on the stocking and got a few more fields filled in.  This feels like such a slowly progressing project, but I do enjoy working on it, so it's all good.  DH and I agreed that the Snowman and the Ornament stockings are cute too, so after the Reindeer stocking has been stitched up, it'll be time to order a couple of additional charts and sets of supplies.  I hate when that happens!  LOL
I did also show DH all the BOAF stocking charts I have and he likes all of those as well, so I may have to stitch a bunch more than we need and just use them for decoration.  Does anyone else stitch Xmas stockings?  Which ones are your favorites?
I did also manage to whip out one out of five parts of Merry Cox's class project Victorian Carrier.  I love Merry's design style and that her pieces look so intricate, but that they are not as complex to stitch as they look.  So much fun!  Four more sets to go!

We enjoyed drooling over Nan's stitched pieces that were displayed on walls and shelves.  This is probably my favorite - isn't it pretty?  The designer is La-D-Da:
I loved this display with all the boxes, box stand-ups, and flat-folds in Nan's stitch room (which is a wonder of organization, let me tell you). 
Look at the wonderful finished finishes!

As mentioned before, the surroundings were just breathtaking. 
This is the serene view from the walk-in basement.  Nan's pond is full of large, white cat-fish and we saw a big turtle, a couple of deer and plenty of bird-life - sweet, sweet hummingbirds and goldfinches.
When I woke up in the mornings, this was the sight that greeted me - a green and softly swaying corn-field.  It can not get any better than this!  (Well, yeah, I forgot that we all need rain really badly!)

We had a bunch of fun.  We watched a vast assortment of different TV-shows - some of them better than others...  I can recommend against ever watching the "reality show" Operation Repo.  I hope that the show is not really reality, because this poor team seemed to screw up more than they actually fixed.  It was hilarious, but sad at the same time.  In the name of diplomacy, I will point out that we only watched one episode before we gave up.  It may be a great show, who knows?  LOL

After a long trip back home, greeted by DH passed out on the couch  :-) and a couple of great stash delivery envelopes - wonderful!

Well, it is probably time to get to bed here.   You get exhausted having a great weekend, filled with hours of stitching, chatting, TV watching, food, and sleep.  Happy sigh.
Back to reality tomorrow morning - lab at 7 o'clock!  :-)

Take care and have a great week with plenty of stitching!