Friday, February 26, 2010

Can I Just Turn My Whole Life into a Stitching Vacation, Please?

It's amazing how much you can accomplish when you actually have time to stitch. Everyone should take a stitching vacation at least once a year! 
Although I thought I would NEVER finish filling in the water on SoHRH block 6-7. And Laura was working on the water in block 3 at the same time. 
We were ready to pull each other's hair out. 

But we both made it. I finished the block and Laura now gets to fill in the house. Note the personalization she's made by eliminating the tree in front of the house.  And please do not look at my stitching up close and personal at the same time you're looking at Laura's.  She puts me to shame. 

So I moved on to page 3 of Pigalle by Long Dog Samplers.  I am so loving this piece! I'll probably finish it before I go back to SoHRH, but who cares! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And ...We're Off!

I was so excited about this little stitching vacation that the 5 1/2 hr drive seemed to roll by quickly.  Laura and I spent last night catching up and ...wait for it...stitching!  We are both working on Shores of Hawk Run Hollow (SoHRH) by Carriage House Samplings.  In fact, the fabric that I'm using is because Laura told me how gorgeous it was.  Anyway, we are both laboring over filling in the water sections, but in different blocks.  All I have left on the big ship in block 6-7 is a gazillion more rows of water.  And Laura is filling in the water with the mermaid.  Maybe I'll have pictures later. I plan to finish that blankety-blank block tonight so I can move on to Pigalle!  I've actually been dreamining about it!

But today we're off to the needlework shop.  Maybe two!  I'm almost afraid to take my credit card with me.  Especially since the Nashville market is so recent.  But I'll be on the lookout for some new 36 and 40 count linen for the many samplers in my stash that I have no idea when I'll stitch.  It's a sickness. 

There's snow in the forecast for tomorrow so we will firmly ensconced on the couch and stitching our little hearts out. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't Hate Me

Yesterday, I was sitting in the sun in the back yard enjoying a trashy novel and today it's gloomy and rainy...but still warm.  Okay, so I really shouldn't be complaining since I'm wearing short sleeves and I haven't used snow tires in over a decade.  In fact, this is excellent stitching weather...then again, I don't need an excuse to stitch. 

And to make you even more jealous, I'm packing for a stitching vacation!  Tomorrow morning I am heading north to Laura's house where we will spend almost a week indulging ourselves in our favorite activities...stitching, eating, stitching, sleeping, stitching, watching TV, stitching...  You get the idea.  As of right now, I have only packed two projects in my stitching bag.  You guessed it...Pigalle and SoHRH.  But the day is not over yet.  I recently started pruning some of my charts.  Other than pride of ownership, I have no reason to keep charts that I've already stitched.  I even found a few that I admit I'll never stitch.  Unfortunately, I still have hundreds (at least I hope it's only hundreds) of samplers still begging for my time and attention.  This may be the reason I'm considering adding something else to my bag for the trip.  I found so many things I want to start RIGHT NOW! 

But for the moment, I continue to work on SoHRH.  I'm not done with the big ship yet, but it's coming along.  Stitching time has been at a premium this week due to increased activity on my Etsy shop.  That's a good problem to have and I thank all of you who've visited my shop

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Nashville Show Time

It's been quite a few years since I attended the Nashville Needlework Market.  Most of you probably know about it from your LNS or your favorite on-line shop.  It's a weekend of stash enhancement on a HUGE scale.  Shopowners from all over converge on one of the "suites" hotels in Nasville, TN to visit, stitch, learn, look, network, socialize, and BUY all the new stitching goodies arrayed in all their glory by designers and disbributors from everywhere just for YOU. Sleep is optional.

I remember the very first Nashville market fondly.  It was much more intimate than the big annual shows held in convention centers. That means it can also get very crowded very quickly.  Not only do you get to see all the new designs and fibers and fabrics and embellishments, you get to know the people behind those products.  It's a lot of work (hence the optional sleep), but really a lot of fun too.

My husband and I used to combine business with pleasure in Nashville.  It's a beautiful city and if you're a country music like I am, a visit to the Grand Ole Opry is an added bonus. 

The only drawback is that February in Nashville can be a weather roller coaster.  One year, way back when, we braved the fog and an ice storm through the mountains of north Georgia/southern Tennessee only to arrive at the hotel in Nashville in the dark.  I don't mean it was late in the evening either.  THERE WAS NO POWER!  It was quite an experience.  We got extra blankets and climbed the stairs to our room.  Fortunately, power was restored the next day. I don't remember what I bought, but I can guarantee you that my regular customers were chomping at the bit for me to get home and unpack it.

So, if your shopowner looks a little haggard next week you'll know why.  Be patient, she'll have a treasure chest of stitching wonders for you as soon as she can get unpacked. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I might actually finish SoHRH

All the snow is gone and life at the beach is back to normal.  Lester is back to checking all his peemail within a two block radius every morning and all is right with the world.

The Olympics have started and if you can figure out when the events in which you are interested are actually being televised you can get some serious stitching done.  Maybe that's what is behind my new sense of optimism.

I was really dreading working on the combined block 6-7.  Each of the other blocks that I've completed have taken quite a bit of time, but I considered them all individual projects so I had that feeling of accomplishment when they were done.  The exception was block 4. That was a quicky.  Anyway, the big block seemed daunting, but now that I'm into it, it's going fairly quickly.  Lots of large sections of the sold stitching which I always tell beginners is a great way to distinguish the difficulty of a design.  The fewer color changes you have, the easier it is.  So now I'm thinking I might actually finish the whole thing! 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Spoke Too Soon

I never should have mentioned snow.

It started snowing about 8:00 p.m. last night and snowed most of the night.  We woke up to a bright white landscape. I was up early (for me) like a kid on Christmas.  Quit laughing! I haven't seen snow in almost 10 years! And Lester has never seen snow!  I got the camera out and was ready for his first steps in the snow. (FYI, he's a dog, not a small child.  I know it's hard to tell from the way I talk about him.)  And guess what!  There's not a single picture of Lester in the snow...because he wouldn't step foot in it!  We have a sheltered area under our screened porch where he can do his business during inclement weather.  For us, that usually means a hurricane, but apparently snow on the ground qualifies too.

But I did get some shots of the almost pristine, white neighborhood.  We are about 1/2 mile from the beach...and no, I have not been over there yet, and 1/2 block from the intracoastal waterway.  As I write this, the snow is already falling from the trees and the paved areas are almost clear.  But isn't that the way most adults like it...gone by noon! 

And just in case you tuned in for a stitching update. I worked on Block 4 of SoHRH last night until the opening ceremonies of the Olympics were over.  Only things left on this block are some red (huh?) stars.  Then I'll probably start the big combo block 6-7.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What do I do all day?

Well, I feel like I've really neglected my blog lately and I'm not sure why.  Actually, I've just been so busy doing other stuff that I don't know which way is up.  But that is no excuse.  Maybe it's because I'm just so boring that I can't really think of anything you would care to read.  Even Lester doesn't do anything worthy of a blog post anymore.  I can't even complain about the weather, other than to say we've had a longer cold spell than normal.  I'd post pics of bright sunshine and brown grass, but that isn't nearly as impressive as all your pics of snow covered trees and cars and bird feeders. Don't hate me because I haven't seen even one snowflake!

During the day, I'm occupied with Etsy business mostly.  Who knew this would turn into an almost full-time job?  I have a significant amount on-line promoting to do every day. Thankfully, there are orders to pack up and ship several times a week, and all the associated bookkeeping. Not to mention the actual creating (the fun part), the photographing (ych) and editing for the listings. Yesterday, I sold a number of bookmarks to a local gift shop who also requested more in spring colors. I also have a couple of custom orders in the works.

I also coordinate and frame the Habitat for Humanity samplers that my EGA Alumni group stitches.  We received a new list of soon-to-be homeowners yesterday, so we'll be stitching away on those for a few months too.  It's a small, but great group of ladies who never fail to impress me with their willingness to help out with these samplers.  We don't always have them ready for the actual home dedication, but eventually the homeowners get one that they proudly hang on the wall.  It's so heartwarming to hear how happy these little tokens mean to them.

And even though I stitch every night, I don't feel like I've made much progress.  But here it is. I started Block 4 of SoHRH, but I had to work some more border first in order to have a reference point.  Then, since the verse on Block 4 is done in black I stitched some more border (turn on the left, anal retentive side of your brain) until I had used up all the black floss that I had cut. I know, I'm weird.  Tonight I'll work on the moon. But those borders are time consuming and not very impressive. That's probably why I don't feel like I've accomplished much. I guess I'm in a funk because frankly...I'd rather be stitching!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thank Goodness for the Super Bowl Pre-Game

I got some REAL stitching done yesterday because by 2:00 p.m. I was sitting on my duff and the needle was flying!  I know the game didn't start until 6:30, but I felt I really needed to hear all the blow-hards, I mean commentators, tell me everything I never needed to know and had already heard, about New Orleans, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.  In fact, the only thing they didn't tell me was the color of Peyton's jockey shorts, which I'm guessing are tidy whities.

Fortunately, I use the TV like a radio most of the time so it's just background noise.  Okay, so I really just needed to justify all those extra hours of stitching.  It worked.

I made lots of progress on Pigalle and it's going to be real hard to stop and go on to block four of SoHRH.  I am loving this so much that I have a real bad case of "just one more stitch". I might even start stitching during daylight hours!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let's Get Back to MY Stitching

Because frankly, it's all about me. I know I said I was getting used to having multiple projects going, but the fact is I'm having so much fun with "Pigalle" that I'm not ready to switch back to SoHRH.  Maybe as soon as I finish page 2 (very close) I'll switch back. The left side of my brain really needs that symmetry and feeling of logical completion. Apparently, I have totally gone over to the dark side yet.
I've completed most of the navy base stitching on pages 1 and 2 and now I'm filling in with all those luscious colors that I changed.  I should have a really good feel for how the whole thing is going to work together by the time the Colts take the Super Bowl!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What a Privilege!

Some of you know that one of my part-time jobs is mounting needlework for a local gallery/frame shop.  I learned the skill back around 1990 from the gentleman who did the framing for my first needlework shop.  Then when we moved across the country and I opened a second needlework shop, I decided to do my own framing.  I did so much  I developed carpal tunnel syndrome.  When I retired and was able to do so much more stitching I was able to do my own framing. And for about 3 years I've been mounting all the needlework for Ricky Evans Gallery in Southport, N.C.

Last week they asked me to take a look at an old sampler that a friend had asked them to reframe.  I didn't think much of it until I saw the piece. This is a sampler which is believed to have been stitched in 1852.  I believe it has stayed in the original family all this time.  There is a little piece of tape attached to the bottom of the piece that is faded and cracking. I studied it under a magnifier and I believe it says  "Made in 1852 by Jane L Matis". The year is clear, the name is fairly clear.  It is unclear when the tape was added. 
Unfortunately, I was unable to remove the tape without destroying it, so it will be framed with the piece.  I hope that the family can trace the origins of the sampler.

It is stitched on 30/32 count linen.  By that I mean, it has 30 threads to the inch in one direction and 32 threads/inch in the other direction.  The majority of the piece is cross stitched over two threads with wool.  The verse and the dark bars below the verse are half stitches over one thread, also with wool. 

The sampler was previously mounted (nailed or stapled) to cardboard, and possibly, wood before that.  There are a couple of small tears in the linen and quite a bit of staining.  The edges of the linen, especially on the highly stained left side are somewhat brittle and very fragile.  In order to stabilize the piece and minimize strain on the fabric, I hand stitched it onto a piece of very finely woven linen.  Then I pin mounted it onto acid free foam core with as few pins as possible, again to minimize strain on the fabric.  I did not lace it because, in my opinion, lacing exerts a great deal of stress of the fabric and I do not think this piece would withstand the stress.

I consider it a privilege to have helped preserve this family heirloom. And I am honored to be able to share it with you.