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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Very slow progress

Well, it finally happened. No, not that! After over a month of many hours of stitching each day, my carpal tunnel and/or the pinched nerve in my neck has flared up, so I've had to resort to actually reading the book I brought to the hospital. My right hand bothers me if I do much else, even writing the thank you notes I need to write! I'm surprised to find that typing does not seem to be bothering me much, though!

Before it became apparent that my hands were getting much worse, I was able to work on a bit more of the background of Celebration Santa. I also stitched a base layer of encroaching gobelin on Santa's tree. Thanks to Jane for suggesting I do this before stitching an upper layer of longer stitches with random long stitches to simulate the tree's needles! Now I don't need to worry about having these long stitches cover all of the canvas. I will be finishing the background around the tree before adding this second layer, so the tree needles may extend a bit over the background stitches.

Pregnancy ticker: 34 weeks, 5 days.
I've been taking longer and longer walks around the hospital over the past few days, trying to build up my stamina. If this also triggers a few contractions, all the better, so we can minimize the medications that will be needed when they induce labor on Friday.

Stay tuned! The next post will likely be submitted by DH this weekend with news of BJ!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Dance: Examplar IV

After the trellis motif took so long, I never imagined I'd be completely done with Catherine Theron's Examplar IV by this time!

The strawberry motif worked up fairly quickly. The leaves are all done in detached buttonhole with return. The stem uses long arm cross, diagonal cross, and colonial knots, and the strawberry itself is in tent stitch over 1 with occasional cross stitches for the seeds.

The caterpillar (who seems to be heading for that strawberry!) is also done in tent stitch, and the crown in the lower right corner is in rice stitch.

After these, all that remained were the corner motifs in double-running and diagonal queen stitches, and the personalization.

Catherine had the great idea of personalizing her sampler with both start and end dates. I wanted to do the same, but also wanted to add a bit more detail. After a bit of thought, I ended up with "2007 Mid-Eastern Region EGA" to commemorate the seminar at which I took the class. The "SMH" in "SMH 2009" stands for Strong Memorial Hospital, not that I'll readily forget where and when this piece was finished!

As of tomorrow, I'll once again be working on Joan Thomasson's Celebration Santa, which DH brought in today!

Pregnancy ticker: 34 weeks, 1 day.
Less than 1 week to go!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Examplar IV progress

This motif is one of the simplest on the entire sampler, but it is so elegant! I can see using it when I need a little something on other pieces. The flower petals are just long laid stitches, the leaves are made up of tied stitches (like very shallow fly stitches), and the center is yet another spiral trellis.

Over the past two days, I've also been working on the strawberry motif in the upper right corner. This motif should be finished tomorrow.

The sampler is getting there! Thank you to Catherine Theron for a design that's doing a great job in distracting me as the days seem to be getting longer here in the hospital!
Pregnancy ticker: 33 weeks, 5 days.
The doctors tried to confuse me this morning when they made some mention of inducing me on Friday. I pointed out that I'm sure they meant next week. It was pretty funny to see three doctors all spinning around to look at the calendar (with my ticker written on each day) and do a double-take. Oh, yes. Next week! :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

More flowers on Examplar IV

After lots of over-one stitching, the flower trellis in the lower right corner of Catherine Theron's Examplar IV. This motif took a lot more effort than it appears at first glance. The green bars are outlined and filled with chain stitch. All of the flowers are tent stitch over 1, with backstitch over 1, and the yellow flower centers are tiny spiral trellis with one strand of floss.

This has kept me busy over the course of the weekend! Here's the entire piece so far.The next few motifs should work up a bit more quickly.

Pregnancy ticker: 33 weeks, 3 days.
Sorry. I know some of you worry when I don't post for a while. Everything's fine. It's just that I've been taking it really easy over the last few days, and didn't want to drag out the laptop. My blood pressure seems to go up considerably when I'm up and about, so I waited 'til DH was here this evening to get the laptop out.

On the other hand, today was the first time the doctors seemed to think that making it to January 30th (35 weeks) was a likely possibility! We're continuing to hang in there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Examplar IV again

As I mentioned in my last post Examplar IV is now the piece keeping me busy during my days here at the hospital. At left is what it looked like when DH brought it in to me.

The good news is that this piece has lots of detail in it to keep me from getting bored. The bad news is that this means it moves pretty slowly, so there's not much to blog about! In the last few days, I've finished the spiral trellis stitch in the pink flowers next to the butterfly, and I've made some decent progress on the diagonal trellis area on the bottom right. The centers of these flowers are spiral trellis, too!********************************
Pregnancy ticker: 32 weeks, 6 days.
As of this morning's ultrasound, BJ is up to 4 pounds, 4 ounces! We're still hanging in there!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Dance: Tudor Purse

Two finishes within a week! Never mind that I actually finished a seminar piece within 6 months of the class.

The spangles went on fairly quickly. I'm a little disappointed that they look more silver than gold, but they're cheap plastic spangles. I'll save the expense of metal spangles for a piece that will be displayed or used more frequently than this will.

Mary mentioned something about the openwork look of my plaited braid. The gold thread I used is referred to as "No. 7 gold passing thread" in the kit instructions. The thread might be a bit thinner than what might authentically be used for plaited braid in this situation, but it's not completely baseless. In the collection of photos of historical pieces studied in the class, Chris Berry included a close-up of this panel. The peapods in the center are similar to mine. The plaited braid used on those leaves was somewhat open too, though not quite as much.

The assembly of the Tudor Purse was a bit more complicated than that of the Blueberry Pocket. There is a layer of thin quilt batting between the outside and the liner. Both the outside layer (inside out) and the liner (with batting attached) were sewn up the sides. The outer layer was turned inside out, then the liner was inserted. The top seam allowances for both layers were folded in and stitched together. Handmade braid was used to trim all of the seams, with handmade tassels attached at appropriate points along the bottom. More braid was used for the strap. Yes - that braid took a long time. It's made of 5 strands of purple and gold thread.

The time it took to put this together was worth it in the end. I hope you agree!

On a related note, I need to reply to Annie's question about the Jane Zimmerman Elizabethan piece. Sorry, Annie, but those instructions were only available during Jane's Christmas sale that ended on December 28. It was a bit cruel of me to post a picture after it was no longer available. :-( UPDATE: Jane Zimmerman is offering this again through March 31! See her site for details. (And thanks to Megan of Elmsley Rose for letting me know!)

Pregnancy ticker: 32 weeks, 4 days.
Yes, DH brought another project in to me. Hopefully BJ can hang in there until I finish Catherine Theron's Examplar IV, which really won't take too long!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Dance: Blueberry Pocket

Yesterday I was finally able to assemble the Blueberry Pocket from Periwinkle Promises. I tried to finish it earlier in the week, but found that the lining fabric included in the kit was cut too small. MIL was able to find an appropriate fat quarter in a local fabric shop, and we were back in business! (Thanks, Mom!)

This was a very simple assembly. The sampler had a backstitch border on the left and right, with slightly more decorative Palestrina knots along the top and bottom. The fabric was trimmed 1/2" outside of this border, and the lining fabric was cut the same size. After folding the 1/2" seam allowance back on both pieces, they were stitched together, using small, nearly invisible stitches. The pocket was made simply by folding up the bottom 1/3 and whip-stitching the backstitch borders together on the left and right.

Pregnancy ticker: 32 weeks, 2 days.
To answer a question from Kathy: No, we still don't know whether BJ ("bundle of joy") is a boy or a girl. A couple of times, I've thought a nurse slipped up (because the answer is in my chart due to an amniocentisis from a few months ago), but then the next will come in and use the opposite pronoun!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Plaited braid on Tudor Purse

I was so glad to read that Mary Corbet of Needle 'N Thread, who executes some gorgeous surface embroidery, has trouble with the plaited braid stitch. I was feeling like a bit of a dunce when this stitch proved so difficult to tension correctly.

After several doodle attempts, making sure I consulted the stitch diagram with each pull of the needle, I finally felt comfortable enough to try the plaited braid on the little leaves at the top of my peapods. The fact that these change in width along their length just made it a bit more difficult!

All in all, I'm pleased. What isn't apparent is how long these took. I'd guess the first leaf took at least an hour (with me still checking the stitch diagram with every movement), and they took about 4 hours in all. Each leaf is only about 1/2 of an inch tall!I've also been able to finish the stitching on the back of the purse, which is an outline of the same design, executed entirely in spangles. I've only got to add some random spangles to the front of the purse, and it will be ready to be assembled! As soon as I'm done with the spangles, I'll post more pictures.
I'm sure some of you are wondering. No, folks, you will NOT get a stitch study on plaited braid from me, at least not until I try it on several more projects. I was very glad to hear that Yvette Stanton will be including detailed instructions on this stitch in her left-handed stitch dictionary. While I'm not left-handed, I look forward to reading her details "About the thread thickness, and about the spacing of the stitches. And about starting off on angles, and things like that." I really hope she makes the instructions for her sweetbag available, too.

On a similar note, I ordered the instructions for Jane Zimmerman's The Art of Elizabethan Embroidery project during her Christmas sale. Goodness only knows when I'll get around to doing it, but I couldn't resist this lovely project!
Pregnancy ticker: 32 weeks, 1 day.
Getting past 32 weeks is a VERY BIG DEAL in terms of maturity, according to the doctors. While there still might be some complications, most of what needs to happen now is growth. We'll have another check on BJ's size next Wednesday during my next ultrasound.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tudor Purse progress

As of this past weekend, my Tudor Purse was in the same state as when I last posted about it in October. Since then, I've finished the open (or spaced) Ceylon stitch and added tendrils in Ceylon stitch.

I debated a bit about further adorning the open Ceylon with some wrapping or other decorative stitch, and decided to try it. I wasn't sure it would work, since the open Ceylon is less than a quarter inch wide, but I'm very glad I did.

I chose to do a simple backstitch wrap, bundling the stitches in groups of two. I was surprised at how much it made the design pop. The upper picture here is the wrapping in progress. Below is the design with the vine complete.The only gold stitching left to do is the tops of the peapods, which I hope to have finished tomorrow. Then I can add spangles to the design, and make up the purse. It seems silly that I put off this little bit of work for so long!

Pregnancy ticker: 31 weeks, 5 days.
I'm really getting tired of getting IV's put in "just in case"! They have to be replaced every 4-5 days, and my arms are starting to look like a battlefield!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy Dance: stitching on Blueberry Pocket

Hooray! The stitching is done on Blueberry Pocket by Periwinkle Promises. (Thank you, Katrina, for keeping me honest on the designer! I keep mistakenly attributing the wrong one!)

I mentioned in the last post that I was changing the sentiment on the pocket to "My Stitching Gadgets", but I charted out both this and "My Stitching Tools". Somehow I planned to stitch the former, but only left enough room for the latter. Of course, I started at the end, and had "Stitching Gadgets" all stitched before I realized I didn't have room for "My". As a result, I ended up taking it all out and restitching it. (They say that your brain actually does get temporarily smaller with pregnancy, and I keep proving it!) :-)

I think I like "Tools" better than "Gadgets", anyway!

Today I stitched the border that will be used for finishing it into a pocket. MIL is taking it home to iron it and the backing fabric, and I should be able to finish the assembly in the next few days.

Next up: Tudor Purse, from my EGA seminar class with Chris Berry. DH brought it (and my lap stand in yesterday.

Pregnancy ticker: 31 weeks, 2 days.
Yesterday, we had a bit of a setback, with some of my complications from last month returning. The good news is that BJ seemed ok through it all (based on heartrate monitoring), and things are getting back to normal (a.k.a. boring :-) ) today.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Only a bit more...

... to go on my Blueberry Pocket from Periwinkle Promises.
Thanks for all of the opinions on the lighter green in the center band. I left the old dyelot in the left and right sets of trefoil leaves, and used the new dyelot everywhere else. It turned out that I did run out of two other colors. Thankfully, MIL had some very good substitutes, so I've been able to continue.

Other than running out of colors, I faced a challenge when stitching the satin stitched leaves. The issue was in determining how many strands of silk to use on the diagonal. The instructions called for 2 strands, but that looked bulky and messy. 1 strand looked too sparse. I compromised by using 1 strand, but stitching every other diagonal twice, making sure the strands lay nicely next to each other. I really like the smooth result.

I've decided to change the phrase on the pocket from "Stitching is the berries", since that seems somewhat awkward to me. I've charted " My Stitching Gadgets" to use instead. That's the last thing to be stitched before I put in an outline to be used in finishing. MIL has graciously agreed to take the piece home to iron it so I can actually finish making the pocket.

Pregnancy ticker: 31 weeks!
Thanks again for all of the encouraging comments. One in particular made me grin. Pierrette asked if I would be working on one of her favorite pieces from among my WIPs: Cinders from Marion Scoular. I replied to her directly, but thought I should share my reply. There's a bit of a problem working some of my larger WIPs on stretcher bars (like My Way, Summer Dream, and Cinders). I'm running out of lap space to flip these large pieces over! :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's amazing how quickly time flies! Here's what I managed to finish in 2008.

Here's a larger version of the slideshow. Canvas pieces definitely dominated this year!

I had set a few goals for 2008. Here's a recap of how I did:
  1. Enjoy my stitching. Yes, of course!
  2. Keep blogging. Some months better than others, but I didn't miss too many weeks.
  3. Continue keeping up with the Jim Wurth ornaments. Yes, and they're all done now!
  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!). Well, let's see: I finished only 3 large WIPs: Treasured Snowflakes and Trees, ScottLee, and Winds of Color. However, I only completed two small WIPs from the beginning of the year: the Quaker bag and White-throated Hummingbird, and I started many more new projects than I finished for the rest of the year! I think this combination helped me meet my goal of enjoying my stitching, though!
  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!) I didn't come close to meeting this goal. I only finished one of the three GCCs due over the summer (To The Acorn).
  6. Start one of the "Seasonal Girls" from Gay Ann Rogers. Yes, started and finished - and enjoyed every stitch!
With BJ on the way this year, I have no idea how much time I'll actually have for stitching, so I'm keeping my stitching goals for 2009 fairly simple, keeping a few goals from last year:
  1. Enjoy my stitching.
  2. Keep blogging.
  3. Try to finish a few WIPs, and end the year with fewer than I have now. (Unfortunately, I can't get an accurate count now, so I'll just have to count finishes vs. starts for the year!)
  4. Start the whitework Frances Cheyney sampler from The Essamplaire. (This will be stitched as a SAL with a friend, and I had hoped to start it today, but it can wait.)
Happy New Year, everyone!

Pregnancy ticker: 30 weeks, 6 days.
Based on the ultrasound estimates, BJ is up one half pound in the last two weeks, now weighing in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. We're still hoping to make it several more weeks!