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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Only about 6 hours left of 2007! It's time to recap all that I've stitched this year. That will be difficult for the first few months of the year, because I wasn't at all diligent about writing it down. Instead, I'll just list everything I've finished since I started blogging in March. Pictures for all of these can be seen here.

Monrovia (counted canvas - Jim Wurth)
Goldwork Heart I (goldwork GCC - Michele Roberts)
Tiramisu (blackwork GCC - Dakota Rogers)
Wedding Row (cross stitch - Bent Creek)
Hearts & Flowers (counted canvas - Jim Wurth)
Arcadia (counted canvas - Jim Wurth)
Goldwork Heart II (goldwork GCC - Michele Roberts)
Luck of the Irish (goldwork GCC - Michele Roberts)
The Baroness Edie (counted canvas - Jim Wurth)
Fantasy Remembered (stumpwork GCC - Luan Callery)
First Christmas Ornament (painted canvas - Kathy Schenkel)
Redwork Mystery Sampler (counted thread - Gay Ann Rogers)
Czarina (counted canvas - Jim Wurth)
Traditional Elegance (whitework sampler - Pat Taff)
Christmas Treat Bag (cross stitch - Shepherd's Bush)
Bead Blanket Sampler (counted thread - Indigo Rose)
Mimi's Tape Measure (counted thread - Olde Colonial)

It was definitely a year for GCC's - especially goldwork - and Jim Wurth's Dodecagon series!

So, what are my goals for 2008? Let's see:
  1. Enjoy my stitching.
  2. Keep blogging.
  3. Continue keeping up with the Jim Wurth ornaments.
  4. More WIP reduction! I'd really like to finish at least 4 of my large WIPs and several small pieces. After this round of my challenge, though, I'll probably switch to finish 3, start 1 (instead of finish 10!).
  5. Complete my new crop of GCC's on time (which means I really have to start one, since the first one is due in April!)
  6. Start one of the "Seasonal Girls" from Gay Ann Rogers.
This is pretty ambitious, but it's good to set stretch goals, right?

Before I forget, I'd like to thank all of you for visiting and commenting on my posts this year. I've enjoyed getting to know my fellow stitching bloggers!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

More progress, and another HD

Isn't vacation great? I've been making a lot of progress on my UFOs.

First, I finished Mimi's Tape Measure from Olde Colonial Designs. Another one down!

A few days ago, I pulled out an old GCC. This is Plum Blossoms by Margaret Kinsey. It is in a Japanese technique called Rozashi, which is stitched on ro fabric, and all stitches are vertical. This ro is 40 holes to the inch horizontally, and about 10 holes/inch vertically. All I have left to finish is the background, but it looks like it's going to take a while!

I started a project for the Quaker Quarterly Exchange on the Legacy board. I can't share pics of this until after the recipient gets it, though. This has to be sent out by January 5th.

On several of the boards, folks are talking about what big projects they're starting over the holidays. I haven't started anything, of course, but I did resurrect Martha Wilkins from The Scarlet Letter. This one has a loooong way to go.

WIP-loss challenge status: 7 down, 3 to go

Thursday, December 27, 2007

SBQ: Holiday Gifts

It's time for a Stitching Blogger's Question!

This week's SBQ is:

Did you receive any stitching-related gifts for the holidays?

Yes, I did! In fact, I unwrapped the same book twice! There was a little lapse in communication on this one. :-) I received the book "In Praise of the Needlewoman" by Gail Sirna . This book is a result of Gail's research into paintings that feature people (yes, mostly women) doing some sort of needlework. The definition of needlework here is rather loose: it includes embroidery, needlepoint, bobbin lace, knitting, crochet, weaving, tatting, etc. Each painting includes a facing page with text describing the painting and the needlework apparently being done. It's a gorgeous book, and I plan on enjoying it for years to come. I could see this being a coffee table book if I had a coffee table! It will probably find a home near my stitching chair and get pulled out when I'm just a bit too tired to stitch. For more information about this book, a full book review can be seen here.

I also received two gift certificates to my LNS. I'll have to think about how I want to use them!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas to You!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope Santa has been good to you!

I have stitched several Christmas pieces over the years, but it seems that for the most part, they either haven't been framed or have been given away. The only one I have framed in my home is the canvaswork nativity seen here. This is Once In Royal David's City by Carole Lake. I took it as an online class, but Carole has now released it for a wider audience: the instructions were in the most recent issue of Needlepoint Now.

May you all have a happy, healthy, and blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Dance: Bead Blanket Sampler

Sorry, all! It's been a heck of a week, with all the Christmas preparations. Up until yesterday night at the LNS, I think I stitched about two hours all week. I've been off work since Wednesday, but I've still been baking, writing Christmas cards, finishing up my shopping, fixing my sister's electrical outlets so she could plug in her tree for her party tonight, etc., etc.

On Wednesday, I received a surprise in the mail. I knew Kaz was sending me the Moss Waterlilies I needed to finish the border on my Bead Blanket Sampler, and it arrived Wednesday. That wasn't the surprise, though. The surprise was learning that not only did this generous stitcher send me the thread, but that she sent it from the U.K.! The sharing in this wonderful global community of stitchers never ceases to amaze me. Thanks again, Kaz!

So, for stitch night at the LNS yesterday, I packed up my Bead Blanket Sampler with all the threads I needed to finish. Between time at the LNS and an hour afterward at home, I finished the back cover. Today I made time to finish the project, before sitting down with a pile of presents and wrapping paper.

Here is the Bead Blanket Sampler, designed by Catherine Strickler of Indigo Rose. The three pictures are the front (with the alphabet), the back (with the types of beads listed), and the side (so you can see the piece of velour blanketing that's meant to keep beads from bouncing all over the place while I'm attaching them onto a WIP).

Another UFO down! I'm officially down to 39 WIPs/UFOs. That still seems like a really big number, but I've got another small piece that really only needs a couple of hours to finish, and that will knock the number down again!

WIP-loss challenge status: 6 down, 4 to go

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Dance: Christmas Treat Bag

It seems that the plan to finish small UFOs is working!

This is the Christmas Treat Bag from Shepherd's Bush. I finished up the ribbons on this tonight, changing the arrangement slightly from the instructions.

The drawstring area is made by withdrawing several fabric threads, and a ribbon is threaded through these. The instructions showed that the drawstring was made with the burgundy ribbon, but the bow was tied with both the blue and burgundy ribbons. That seemed silly to me, because whenever the bag was opened, the blue ribbon could be lost. I made the drawstring out with the burgundy ribbons and just attached large silver beads at the ends. I then tied the blue bow over a couple of the linen threads in the drawn thread area where the ends of the drawstring met. Now, the bow stays in place when the bag is opened and closed.

(Oh, and in case you're wondering... I did not stitch the doily on which the easel is resting. My grandmother collected such pieces, mostly through garage sales, and this is one from her collection. I hope my hard work doesn't find its way to somebody's garage sale, but if it does, I hope it finds somebody that appreciates it as much as my grandmother did and as I do!)

WIP-loss challenge status: 5 down, 5 to go

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've been baking...

Just in case any of you have been wondering what I've been up to, the answer is "not stitching". The last three evenings, I've been working on my Christmas cookies. Sunday was making several batches of dough, and I've since baked magic cookie bars (sometimes called "7-layer bars"), lemon hearts, applesauce cookies, and jam slices. I still have some to do: gingerbread cutouts, more lemon hearts, russian teacakes, and hazelnut rugelach. I enjoy baking, but I only really do it at this time of year.

During the Saturday gift wrapping session at Barnes & Noble, I pulled out yet another small UFO. This one is the Christmas Treat Bag from Shepherd's Bush. On Saturday, I finished the front design, and I've been working on finishing it into a bag during any bits of free time over the last few days. I still have a bit to go, though. I may be able to finish it tomorrow if there's any stitching time during our ANG holiday party or in our Thursday night "open stitch" at the LNS. I hope to post a photo before the weekend.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bead Blanket Sampler progress

Before I forget, thanks to everyone who's left comments lately! I do read and appreciate each one.

I'm slowly plugging away at the Bead Blanket Sampler from Indigo Rose. In case you're not familiar with this piece, it will work up like a needlebook, but instead of felt in the middle, there will be a piece of velour blanketing. Velour is perfect for holding beads as you're stitching. The plush keeps the beads from escaping as you're trying to get them on your needle!

The part I'm working on now will be the back of the book. This piece is small, but it's not working up very quickly. While over-1 stitching always looks great, I find it pretty tedious.

See how the border isn't done on the back? That's because I ran out of the green thread in the kit. One of the readers here, known as "samplerstitcher", very generously offered to send me a length of the Waterlilies silk needed to finish the border. Isn't the internet community of stitchers great? Thank you, samplerstitcher!

This morning I'm heading out to Barnes & Noble to wrap gifts. Our local EGA & ANG chapters volunteered to do this to promote both organizations and to let the community know the chapters exist, just in case there are any lone stitchers out there!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Dance: Traditional Elegance

It's amazing what you can accomplish while listening to an evening conference call with colleagues in Japan! I was home, listening on the phone speaker, unmuting the microphone only when I needed to discuss something, and happily stitching away! That's the way to work! I found I actually could concentrate more on what was going on (rather than falling asleep or being distracted by email, etc.) while I was stitching than I usually do at work!

To top it off, I finished Traditional Elegance (by Pat Taff) just as the conference call ended! Since the sides of this were laced to the scroll rods, it had been a while since I looked at the bottom row. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had put a "2007" date on it already! I'm glad I didn't have to change it!

The bottom rows are pretty squished from being rolled up on the scroll rods for so long. I'll have to at least dampen this and press it from the back to get the stitches back in shape before I take it in for framing.

Also on the UFO front, this week I picked up a small piece from Catherine Strickler/Indigo Rose. I started the Bead Blanket Sampler a bit over a year ago. For a time it was in my desk drawer at work, and I'd pick it up occasionally during lunchtime. When I switched jobs last year, it found its way home, and I hadn't touched it since.

Monday I finished off the front side and started work on the back - and quickly ran into a problem. There's not enough of one color of thread. I'm not a terribly frugal stitcher, but I try to be cautious when stitching from kits. Nevertheless, I ran out. I need to find enough Waterlilies 'Moss' in a similar dyelot (or another silk brand that looks very similar!) to finish the border on the back. I hate to buy an entire skein for something that would work for <100 stitches. Stay tuned!

WIP-loss challenge status: 4 down, 6 to go

Sunday, December 2, 2007

November Recap & December goals

Despite a few changes in plan (like posting every day and a change in the UFO strategy), I did fairly well this past month. Here were my goals for November:

I also went though my baskets, boxes, closets, and drawers to find and list all of my WIPs & UFOs. I found forty-two pieces that had some amount of stitching done. Several of these are very small pieces, like ornaments or scissors fobs, and others are medium to large pieces. I can't see why those shouldn't count on my WIP-loss challenge, so I'm going to concentrate on getting some of these done in the near future.

For December, here are my goals:
  • Keep blogging! (Though maybe not quite as frequently.)
  • Finish Traditional Elegance.
  • Finish at least 2 small UFOs.
  • Finish at least 1 additional medium-sized UFO.
Here's hoping I work through my challenge soon so I can start one of my GCCs!