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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is it done yet?

Here's where I stand on Catherine Theron's How Great the Blessing sampler. In the past week I've added the verse, and the numbers and personalization (with updated dates!) under the alphabet, along with four birds and another squirrel.

Is it done?

Early on in stitching this project, I deliberately didn't fill in the flowers in the large vase and left off the small berry bushes to the left of the large squirrel and the right of the bunny. Now I'm reconsidering.

The sampler doesn't have many blank spaces at the top, and the larger empty spaces by the bunny and squirrel seem to be screaming for something. Maybe those berry bushes would work after all.

What do you think?

Erin update: Guess who had a birthday on Friday? Yes, already!

The best part about presents? The wrapping paper, of course!

My first decorated cake. Yes, that's supposed to be Elmo. I think I'll stick to stitching.

Erin's "personal" cake. Both cakes were applesauce cake, and they came out yummy.

The aftermath...

Somebody liked cake, but was clearly ready for bed!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flowering vines in full bloom

With the realization that my Master Craftsman piece wasn't going to be done on time, I picked up How Great the Blessing again. As I mentioned in my last post about this piece, I decided to go with the lighter flowers, though thank you to all of those who commented for and against this decision. You all had great points!

I'm happy to say that I'm done with queen stitches on this piece (unless, of course, I decide to fill in the flowers in the big vase). Actually, I used to avoid queen stitches like the plague until I took a class with Eileen Bennett and learned her method, and now I don't mind them at all. Anybody want a post on this method?

Anyway, I've finished the queen stitch flowers on the side border vines, and added the satin stitch berries as well.

Not much more to finish on this project!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to recognize an impossible deadline

Have you ever started stitching toward a deadline, only to realize, as the date creeps nearer, that you're not going to make it? What do you do?

A few weeks ago, I posted about dealing with deadlines, explaining that I try not to set deadlines in stitching. Occasionally, though, a project comes along with a deadline. I've had two such projects in the past month.

The first was my How Great the Blessing sampler. This deadline was of my own making. I was trying to finish by the end of the year since I had already stitched the date on the sampler.

The second deadline was on a piece that I hadn't started until just over a week ago. I was reminded this past fall that I needed to submit my step two canvas project for EGA Master Craftsman certification by April 1. (There's really no reason why I hadn't finished this long before now. I've only had the instructions for five years.)

In the process of working toward these two deadlines, I've come to the realization that I can recognize when a deadline is impossible. It's a simple thought process, really:

  • Identify how much stitching needs to be done. This can be done by estimating the time needed, or by counting areas to be stitched (the number of bands in a band sampler, for example).
  • Divide the amount of stitching by the number of weeks until the deadline.
  • Consider how much you stitch in a given week, and determine if you can possibly stitch the amount needed to meet the deadline.
That's it. In my case, I started the Master Craftsman piece a little over a week ago. This is a canvas project that has 21 areas to be stitched. I figured that I needed to stitch two areas a week to get the piece finished by mid-March so it would arrive on time. After one week, I had one area completely done, and one barely started - and this was with all other stitching set aside and only one newsy blog post.

Wait a minute. I stitch for enjoyment! And I very recently got back into the habit of writing several posts a week, and I don't want to give that up. I wouldn't make the deadline even if I did give up both of these, due to time limitations. (Eventually I'll learn that I can't finish things as quickly as I did pre-motherhood!)

So, what do you do when you realize you're not going to make a deadline?
  • If you've already put a date on a project and that date is looming, you can always put another date on the project. Both dates are correct, in terms of when you stitched the project! (That's my plan for the sampler.)
  • For an outside deadline, see if there's a way to postpone it. In my case, I wrote to the master craftsman program chairman to ask what it would take to re-enroll in the program. For correspondence courses, often the teacher will extend the deadline.
  • In the case of gifts for special occasions, find a creative way to package an IOU. I've heard of people wrapping the project in progress with a little IOU poem.
What about you? Are you able to recognize when you're not going to make a deadline? What do you do about it?

As for me, I'm back to working queen stitches on my sampler, and plan to have an update posted soon.

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    An "Odds and Ends" Sale

    A little over a year ago, Jane Zimmerman started her website. Jane is known for teaching wonderful canvas and historical pieces at national seminars. Over the past year, Jane has been making some of her past class pieces available through her website, offering a few each quarter.

    This quarter (Jan-Mar 2010), she's doing things a bit differently. Rather than offering a few instruction booklets for the duration of the quarter, she's cleaning up. She has extras of some of the instructions from the pieces offered over the past year, and is selling them at reduced prices. Be aware that the sale is first-come, first-served, and she has limited quantities of the charts. In fact, the sale just started Thursday, and some are sold out already!

    Jane will be changing the selection of charts approximately every 2-3 weeks throughout the quarter, so if you don't see anything you'd like now, be sure to check back!

    Erin update: Tooth #3 is in!

    Reminder: Please vote for Erin in our local paper's baby contest. Voting ends tomorrow, Sunday, January 10.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Choosing colors through image manipulation

    Wow. Thanks to all of you who shared your stories in response to my post on color conversion problems! If you haven't read the comments, please do! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with occasional problems converting threads (though I'm secretly quite jealous of Jane who doesn't have to deal with this, being primarily a painted canvas stitcher).

    So now I've got two different versions of my light-colored flower. Lesley commented that maybe the darker version might be too dark, depending on what's around it. I realized after that comment that I didn't really explain that this is used in the side borders, and that these flowers alternate with much darker flowers. It's difficult for me to visualize how this would really look, since I now have three different flowers on one side. This is a perfect time to take advantage of my image editing program!

    Here's what the design would look like if I used the darker version of my light flower:

    And the lighter version:

    Originally, I thought I'd like the darker version better, but the magic of modern technology changed my mind! Lesley was right. I really like the lighter version. Anybody want to convince me otherwise?

    Now I've just got to rip out the darker version (Ugh. Frogging queen stitches.) and restitch it, as well as fill in the remaining flowers. Right now, the two on the right actually only have the outlines done.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Issues with thread color conversions

    If you're like most stitchers, when you've started a project, you've used a color conversion chart to change to a different brand of floss from the one called for in a project's instructions. There are plenty of these conversion charts online, allowing stitchers to change from DMC to Anchor floss, or from Soie d'Alger to Needlepoint Inc silk, or even to switch from cotton floss to silk or vice versa.

    These conversion tables work well, at least most of the time. The simple fact is, though, that each brand of floss has its own range of colors. It's rare (perhaps impossible) to find exact matches to the original threads for any project within another brands range. Fortunately, it's not typically necessary to find exact matches. It's more important to find colors that work well together and have the right amount of contrast to each other as needed in the project.

    It's this last point where I ran into a problem when trying to finish my How Great the Blessing sampler. In the original sampler, Catherine Theron used Soie d'Alger from Au ver a Soie. The class kit only included the linen, and each stitcher had to supply her own threads. For convenience, Catherine did provide conversions to several other brands of floss, including DMC.

    Of course, I wanted to convert to a brand not on Catherine's list. For linens 36ct and higher, I really like using Hand-Dyed Fibers from Vikki Clayton. The nice thing about this is that Vikki redesigned her colors a few years ago to specifically correspond to the entire DMC line. She also has color conversion tables right on her site, so I could type in the Soie d'Alger or the DMC color numbers, and know what color to order from her.

    Here's what I ended up with for the reds in my project:

    • Original colors: AVAS 2911, 2912, 2913, 2914, 2915, and 2916.
    • DMC conversion: 3713, 761, 760, 3712, 3328, and 347.
    • HDF conversion: The "Gandy Dancer" series: 1101, 1103, 1105, 1107, 1109, 1111.
    Catherine called these colors very very light red, very light red, light red, red, dark red, and very dark red, respectively. (Actually, I think they're more coral than red, but it's easier to refer to them as red.)

    This conversion had been a success, until I reached the lighter flowers in the border of my sampler. The flowers call for a border of very light red, with petals of red and very very light red. In HDF, this means I should used 1103 for the border, and 1101 and 1107 for the petals. As seen at right, when I added the 1101 to the 1103 border, though, it didn't have any contrast. (Part of this might be due to the slight variations within the hand-dyed threads, but it wasn't working for me!)

    I tried darkening up the border to 1105 (light red), but then I found that I needed to go to 1109 (dark red) on the other petals to get enough contrast between the border and the darker petals! See the picture at left.

    Then it seemed that these flowers weren't light enough. To the stash! I found a very pale pink Splendor silk. It's just slightly more pale than the 1101, though that's hard to see in the photograph with only one stitch. Here's how it turned out with all of the light petals complete.

    Now, I've just got to make a decision: which of these flowers do I go with? That's a topic for another post!

    How about you? What have your experiences been with color conversions? Have they all been successful, or have you needed to play with things? Feel free to answer here or on your own blog!