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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A lesson in shading

I finally finished the first lesson (a.k.a. the first flower) on Judy Souliotis's Floral Rondel. I'm still really enjoying the Sha fabric. It's wonderful that the silk threads barely have any wear with this fabric, so longer lengths can be used.

The petals of the flower use a basic laid stitch, where metallic threads are laid across the area and silk threads are used to couch them down while providing the color to the petal. I can't remember incorporating shading into this technique before. It was an interesting learning experience, because in this technique, you can't compensate stitches when going from one shade to the next. The line between the shades becomes blurred because they interleave with each other.

I really need to try this idea more with painted canvases. I often use "tweeding" when shading, blending strands of two colors in the needle at the same time (as seen in the gray trees on Winds of Color). If I'm not doing that, I tend to have a hard line of compensation between shades (as seen in the green trees on the same piece).

This idea of simply changing colors from one complete stitch unit to the next isn't completely foreign to me, but I've never really noticed how effective it can be. It looks even better when you take a step back, which I often forget to do when working on the details of a project. It's a case of "not seeing the forest for the trees." I hope I'm not alone in doing this!

Ok, from the beginning, this blog has been almost entirely about stitching, but with our new addition, I hope you don't mind if I share a bit about Erin on occasion. All of you have been so incredibly supportive over the last several trying months, so maybe you want to hear a bit about her, too. And if you don't, I'll keep these bits at the ends of the posts, so you can skip them if desired!

Erin update: If we're not precisely on a schedule, at least we've found a bit of a rhythm to our days. Things have been getting easier because she's getting bigger and is finding it easier to nurse, so it doesn't take an hour and a half each time she's fed (warming a bottle, feeding, pumping for the next time, and cleaning all of the pump parts). Try that seven or eight times a day, and you'll know why I've only stitched one flower in the past two weeks!

Our visit to orthopaedics yesterday didn't go too well. An ultrasound revealed that Erin's hips are still dislocated despite almost three weeks in a harness. Now we've switched to a rigid brace that's put on over her clothing (which is a pain when it comes to diaper changing!) to try to realign everything. By the end of the afternoon, Erin had screamed all three of us into exhaustion due to her discomfort with removing the harness and going into this new contraption. I'm happy to say she's doing better today, and doesn't seem to mind when we take the brace on and off.

Unfortunately, while my camera takes fairly decent macro shots for stitching, it's not very good with indoor "people" shots, so I don't have a ton of pictures to share. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from Valentine's Day, when MIL and FIL watched her for a couple of hours so DH and I could take a trip to Babies R Us. Romantic, huh?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finding time to stitch

On Thursday evening, with Erin sleeping and me awake, I finally, with encouragement from DH, found a couple of hours to stitch! Of course, what did I do, after finishing three projects in the hospital? I started something new!

Shining Needle Society started a new online class with Judy Souliotis as of February 1. Judy's Floral Rondel was designed to be stitched on a Japanese silk fabric called Sha. Since I'm always eager to learn about new (to me) techniques and materials, I chose to use this fabric instead of the alternative, congress cloth. Sha is a 30 count fabric with a weave similar to interlock canvas. It's got much more give than canvas though, and it's less airy (thicker threads) than silk gauze. The kit comes with silk and metallic threads, and I've got my Sha mounted on Evertite stretcher bars so I can keep it taut.

So far, so good. This fabric is so soft compared to regular canvas, so the silk threads barely get any wear as they're being stitched. The result is a beautiful shine.

The first lesson, which came out February 1, includes all of this lower left flower. I hope to finish it up this weekend so I can begin lesson 2, which just showed up in my email.

Erin says hi to all of those folks who commented with warm welcomes! She's up to 5lb, 2 oz already, and likes to sleep for long periods during the day in exchange for frequent feedings at night. Somehow we've got to switch that around! :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Erin update

Yes, Erin and I are now both home. I was discharged on Friday, feeling much better, thank you. Erin had to stay at the hospital one more night, for a reason that completely irritated me. One of her challenges is the fact that both of her hips are dislocated due to the way she was positioned and the cramped quarters that resulted after my water broke. On Thursday, the orthopedic doctors fitted her with a harness that will hopefully reposition her hips, but they neglected to weigh the harness before they put it on her. As a result, her pediatrician couldn't tell if she was gaining weight, and needed to get her weight with the harness (which cannot be taken off except by the orthopedic doctors) on both Friday and Saturday morning. To say I was irritated by this turn of events is putting it mildly.

Anyway, we're home, and we made it through the first night. Miss Erin decided to challenge us by sleeping for four hours at a time during the day, and only 2 hours between feedings at night! Hopefully her internal clock will become more Mom and Dad friendly in the next week or so.

On to some pictures!

Here is her very first picture, taken when she was on her way from delivery to the NICU. Not a happy baby! She looks very short due to the fact that her legs were essentially in a yoga position.
Here she is after she's been cleaned up a bit more. Yes, that's Grandma's (MIL's) finger in her hand.
And a bit of a close-up, showing off her eyes.
For someone so small, she's commanding a lot of attention. I've managed to stitch a total of one length of thread over the past week! :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's a girl!!!!!

I know, it's been too long! The short story is that my walking around early last week worked, and I went into labor Thursday morning. After I finally give in to an epidural around 8 PM, little Erin Christine found her way into the world at 11:03 PM. At 4 lbs, 2 oz and just under 17" long, she was a bit smaller than expected, and has spent the time since in the NICU, just moving to the newborn nursery today. She is a beautiful baby, and more details and pictures will follow.

Unfortunately, I was in a lot of pain over the weekend, and finally ended up on pain meds that left me feeling barely human. I stopped taking them Sunday night, and had weird withdrawal symptoms yesterday. When I still was constantly dizzy today while visiting the hospital, I ended up back in triage getting bloodwork done. Yes, I'm one of the few who manage to develop severe preeclampsia after delivery, with only a couple of the expected symptoms. They re-admitted me and immediately started an IV with the needed meds. I felt human again within an hour, but I'll be here at least 1 night. Hopefully Erin and I can go home together Thursday.

Thank you all for your concern and best wishes. I'll let you know when I'm home!