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Monday, January 28, 2008

WIP-loss Challenge: Round 2

I've started a new piece, and I'm off on round 2 of the WIP-loss challenge. I'm changing the rules a bit for this round. This time, I'm going to finish at least 3 before starting another. The "at least" portion is described in Rule #2.

The rules for this round are:

  1. Continue to have fun!
  2. The "to be finished" list must include my new start (To the Acorn) and Winds of Color. At least one other small item must be finished, but the challenge won't be over until these two larger pieces are done.
  3. The term finished means the completion of stitching. It does not mean the completed item must be framed or otherwise made into a useful item.
  4. While selling, giving away, or trashing unwanted UFOs may reduce the total pile, they don't count toward the total finished.
  5. Exceptions are allowed, if declared up-front. These pieces don't count for starting or finishing. Here are my exceptions:
    • the Jim Wurth dodecagon ornament series
    • gift stitching for a special occasion or for a Quaker exchange
    • the class projects to be taught by Marion Scoular when she visits area EGA chapters in April**
    • any GCC that I'm starting to panic about finishing on time to send in for evaluation. I can foresee at least one of these, but it's due after To the Acorn, so I hope I don't have to use this exception.
Does anyone want to join me for this round? Feel free to adapt these rules to fit your situation. Hopefully this round won't take me another 5+ months.

**Edited to add the projects from Marion Scoular. I'm the one setting up one of the classes, yet I forgot to make this an exemption! :-)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One MAJOR happy dance!

Yesterday's mail brought me the extra threads to finish my Strawberry Purse, designed by Elizabeth Talledo of FingerWork. Thank you, Elizabeth, for a fun project and for the extra thread! This dye lot of green was slightly darker than the original kit thread, but who says all stems on a given strawberry plant are the same shade of green? I like it!

This little happy dance is much more of a celebration than just finishing this bag, though. It marks the end of the first round of my WIP-loss challenge!!!! Here are the 10 "official" finishes since I started the challenge last July:

  1. Luck of the Irish by Michele Roberts
  2. Fantasy Remembered by Luan Callery
  3. Redwork Mystery Sampler by Gay Ann Rogers
  4. Traditional Elegance I by Pat Taff / Golden Thread Designs
  5. Christmas Treat Bag by Shepherd's Bush
  6. Bead Blanket Sampler by Catherine Strickler / Indigo Rose
  7. Mimi's Tape Measure by Olde Colonial Designs
  8. Treasured Snowflakes & Trees by Mill Hill
  9. White-eared Hummingbird by Crossed Wing
  10. Strawberry Purse by Elizabeth Talledo / Finger Work
Many of these were smaller pieces than I had originally planned to finish, but they're still pieces off of the Work in Progress pile!

Right after I finished the purse yesterday, I wasted no time. I immediately mounted the fabric to begin my new start! It is To the Acorn, an EGA group correspondence course by Pat Krahn. I'll share some progress in the next day or so.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not nearly as small

It was a bit of a switch to go from the hummingbird, which is about 2" across on 40ct, back to Winds of Color, 10" round on 24ct congress cloth. Even though they're so different, I love working on all kinds of ground fabrics (except for the really tough cotton jean fabric used for Montmellick work, but that's another story). I was so glad to see, from one of the comments, that my gauze work may inspire one stitcher to try 40ct again.

Yesterday I finished the ground on Winds. This was done in a stitch called Victorian step, and was another area shaded by combining different colors of floss in the needle. I'll add some rivers on top of this later.

I've since moved on to an area on the left side, midway between the uppermost tree and the woman's arm. It's stitched entirely in white, but the stitch slant changes for each row, so it provides directional shading. At least, that's what it says in the instructions. I've never really thought of this play of light as "shading", so it will be interesting to see the final effect as the other sections around it get filled in.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Speaking of happy dances

Yes, here's another small happy dance! This poor little hummingbird had only one color of his tail feathers stitched for over a year. Nothing else, just some of his tail feathers. I picked him up again on Sunday, and he went together so quickly!

Here was his progress on Tuesday evening. Yes, that is an ordinary U.S. dime.
And I finished him last night at the LNS! I love the sparkle of the tiny bit of blending filament on his head.
I can't believe how much easier it is to see 40ct gauze with my true color Ottlite than it was with my old high-intensity bulb. I used to wait for sunny days to stitch on gauze, but this lamp makes it easy to see the holes no matter how dark it is.

Now I'm going to go back to Winds of Color until my Strawberry Purse thread gets here. Then I can finish that up and declare the first round of my challenge over!!!!!

WIP-loss challenge status: 9 down, 1 to go

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SBQ: First 2008 Happy Dance

A quick SBQ today...

This week's SBQ is a yearly favorite in January:

Have you had a happy dance yet this year? If so, tell us about it! (Or just point to the entry that mentions it.) If not, when do you predict it will be?

If we're just talking about finishing a project, I've had two so far this year. See the posts here and here. I'm looking forward to a major happy dance when I finally finish the first round of my WIP-loss challenge and I'm able to start something!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quaker Quarterly Exchange XV arrived in Spain!

I can finally show pics of the piece I stitched for my first-ever exchange! Much to my relief, my Quaker Christmas treat bag arrived at Mercedes' house in Spain.

This exchange was conducted through the Legacy Embroiderers Guild forums. The pieces for this exchange were to be stitched in Christmas colors: red, green, and white. My medallion was chosen with these in mind. I thought the tulips and outer stars looked a bit like poinsettias, the green triangles like Christmas trees, and the center star like a snowflake, so I stitched all of these in the appropriate colors. I couldn't resist adding both Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad to celebrate our two cultures.

On the back, I stitched our initials.

As I was stitching, the fabric seemed pretty flimsy for a bag. I wanted to make the bag a bit more substantial, so I found some burgundy velvet at a local fabric store. Never having lined a bag before, I put it together (by hand) in entirely reverse order*. I caught the selvage of the velvet in the top hemstitch first, then sewed the lining together up the back and across the bottom. Pulling the lining and linen apart, I stitched the linen from top to bottom, flipping the lining back in only as I reached the top. You can see my inexpert join on the top inside of the seam. Then, I stitched the bottom of the linen using a blind double-running stitch.

*(Apparently most bags are sewn by creating separate bags of shell and lining, then joining them at the top. Who knew? I think I would have had trouble with the top hemstitch if I had done this!)

I had also hemstitched the drawstring area on both top and bottom. The cording is made of several strands of #12 pearl cotton.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stitch in today + great customer service

Today I went to a gathering of local stitchers & knitters. Approximately 37 of us gathered in a banquet room at a local hotel for a buffet breakfast and a day of our textile medium of choice. I've attended similar events with the same group before, and we always have a good time.

Since I just finished one project, I brought a few more WIPs with me. I spent a bit of time on a piece that uses Japanese flat silk, until I got completely frustrated with the silk catching on my winter-rough hands.

For a complete change of pace, I pulled out a wool felt project from Elizabeth Talledo of FingerWork / Dames of the Needle. The project is called Strawberry Purse. Prior to today, I had only cut all the pieces of felt to size and put them in place. Today I spent just a few hours on it, and had it all but finished before we left the hotel. It was so much fun! Unfortunately, I ran out of one of the threads in the kit.

Shortly after I returned home, I went to the Dames of the Needle website to find Elizabeth's email address. I sent her a note explaining about running out of thread and asking where I might be able to find more. Within 5 minutes (!), she replied, thanking me for letting her know so she could increase the amount in the kits, and apologizing. She will be sending me extra thread early next week. Bravo, Elizabeth, for great customer service!!! I love when designers care enough to go the extra mile.

Once I receive the thread, it should take me no more than 30 minutes to finish this up. In the meantime, I'll be making cording to attach as a strap. Here's the purse so far.

Happy Dance: Treasured Snowflakes & Trees

Hooray! Another WIP down!

Once I got started again with this, it really didn't take very long to finish. I put the final stitches in last night. This is Mill Hill's Treasured Snowflakes and Trees. This one is really going to sparkle in the light of my tree next Christmas!

WIP-loss challenge status: 8 down, 2 to go

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SBQ: Favorite Pastime

It's time for another Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week!

This week's SBQ was suggested by Outi:

What is your favorite past time while stitching? Do you just enjoy silence, listen to music/audiobooks or do you "watch" TV/movies? Do you have specific favorites you listen to/watch while stitching?

Strangely enough, it depends on the season. For this purpose, there are two seasons: baseball season, and "not baseball" season.

  • During baseball season, DH has the TV tuned to Yankees games as much as possible. Which means we're watching the Yankees five to six nights per week. Ok, he's watching, I'm stitching and listening, until he says "watch this replay". Baseball games are great while stitching, because the action usually comes in short bits, which will usually be replayed at least once.
  • For the other six months of the year (mid-October to early April), I try to catch up on all the audiobooks I've downloaded from Audible. I'm on a plan where I get two credits per month, and most books are one credit. If I listened to normal-length books, I could probably keep up. Most books are in the 6-10 hour range. Generally, though, I enjoy long books. Right now I'm listening to The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which is 26 hours long.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Received my first exchange piece!

It's so exciting to get a stitched piece in the mail! It's even more exciting to think that the piece was stitched a world away by an Aussie stitcher. Here is the ornament I received from Georgie as part of the Quaker Quarterly Exchange on the Legacy board.

DH says the birds should be upside down since they're from down under. [rolling eyes]

Thanks, Georgie, for the ornament and the few extra goodies! Along with the ornament was a skein of DMC, a couple of Australia postcards, and a tiny bar of fancy bath soap. (This exchange keeps the adage of "Quaker Simplicity", and so keeps the extra stuff to a bare minimum.)

I still haven't heard if my partner received her exchange piece yet, so I'll have to keep you in suspense regarding what I stitched for the exchange!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

GCC panic setting in...

I knew it couldn't last. Here I was, enjoying my progress on Winds of Color, when I received a text for a group correspondence course in the mail. (I'm a member of the EGA online chapter, CyberStitchers, so I receive my GCC instructions for projects with this chapter via USPS.)

Wait a minute - don't I already have instructions for two other GCCs waiting to be started? Ummm.... when are they due? Uh oh, one's due mid-April. How big is it? AAAACK! It's a 6"x19" band sampler on 32ct linen. But I can't start anything now - I have three more projects to finish first! I don't want to cheat on my challenge!

I don't have many small projects left, so I don't really want to finish them all up now. I may need to finish them on a future challenge with a future time crunch. (How's that for weird logic?) A consultation with the WIP list showed me a Mill Hill sampler that was started over 8 years ago. I only had four and a half bands to go, and since most of the beads are attached with a half-cross stitch, it should be quick.

After working on this yesterday and today, I've only got three bands left, plus adding all of the larger charms. Here is Mill Hill's Treasured Snowflakes and Trees. I'm putting my Bead Blanket Sampler to use for the first time. That's the rectangle at the bottom of the picture. (It works really well keeping all the beads under control - unless a long-nosed greyhound knocks it off the arm of my chair and I have to spend 10 minutes with a flashlight pulling beads out of the carpet because I need about 20 beads to finish a band and the box for that color of bead is empty. Ask me how I know.)

So, Winds of Color is sidelined again. Does that surprise anybody? It seems I can't work on one large piece for more than a week at a time!

In case you're wondering, the GCC I need to start is Pat Krahn's To The Acorn. I did take the pattern to the LNS to pull colors, and ended up changing everything. Here's my floss toss. The palette is based off of the variegated thread: Waterlilies 220 - Cheyenne.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And the winner is...

Winds of Color! That's the piece my local ANG chapter members picked for me to finish this year. I'm glad, because I'm enjoying it. It was pretty close, though. All three pieces received several votes, and that wasn't the case for everybody's choices.

This meeting was a blast. It's the first time I can remember that everyone stayed until the very end of the meeting/program. It was fun to hear the reasons (excuses?) as to why various pieces have been neglected. We're thinking we may do it at some time for the EGA chapter, too. I may put up a poll here for my blog friends to vote on one of my other large WIPs.

Some ground work

I've been making some slow progress on Winds of Color. The trees are all done, and I've moved on to the ground on the right side. The rambling dividing line between the darkest blue and the lavender/blue tweeded area (on the right side) will get some over-stitching eventually to become a river.

Our ANG meeting tonight promises to be fun. Each member will be bringing in two or three UFOs, started at least a year ago (except for one member who is way too organized and seems to finish everything in a timely fashion, but we love her anyway). The group will be voting to assign which UFO each person should finish this year.

For example, I'm bringing in Winds of Color, Scottlee, and Wheels of Color. They'll select one, and I'll be assigned to finish it in 2008. If I do not finish it by the December meeting, I have to add $10 to the chapter's education fund. If I do finish, my name goes into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to the LNS. Since I really want to finish all three of these this year, I really don't care which they pick, but their choice will probably see more dedicated stitching time in the next few months.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Playing Catch-up

Has it really been almost a week since I last posted? Apparently so.

I've been concentrating on two projects. The first was an exchange piece that made it out the door today on time (though I was up until 2AM last night finishing it, and still had to make cording this morning). I'll post photos of this next week after it is received. I can't wait to see what shows up in my mailbox for my first-ever exchange!

The second piece that has seen some attention lately is Winds of Color by Elsa Parrish. This line-drawn needlepoint project is stitched mostly in cotton floss on congress cloth. It was originally a teaching piece, published in 1991. I purchased it directly from Elsa about two years ago. At the time, she was selling kits on NeedleArtworks.com, and I must have ogled this piece for at least two years before I finally broke down and purchased it.Now that I've pulled it out again, I remember why I wanted it so much. It's going to be gorgeous when done. The right side of the picture will be bright colors, and the left all neutrals. The woman's dress will be stitched in shades of red. I would love to post a link to a stitched picture of this, but I cannot find anything on the web.

The class was obviously intended to be a study in various types of shading. In the green trees on the right, you can see hard lines of shading, but the gray trees were a more gradual shading. Some of the canvas areas are colored because this is supposed to show through the stitching to help shade it. Since I always want to learn something from each project to help me grow in my stitching, this is a great piece - beautiful and challenging!