Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deep Breath

IMG_1230

So, I realize things have been a little quiet around here. I'll get to why in a minute. But, first let me say how much I appreciate everyone who stops by to read my blog, even if you don't comment. I must be doing something right, since I've just topped 100 followers. That just rocks my world, seriously. Especially since over the last two years, the stitching and blogging have become seriously hampered by the whole working full time and going to school thing. But, you guys have stuck with me. That means a lot. So...on with the show.

I didn't get to stitch as much as I would've liked this weekend, but I did stitch a little. I made some good progress on WMHB. I got the front of the house filled in and I've moved on to the side. It's really coming along. I love this piece, and I can't wait to see more of it emerge.

WMHB 032810

I also worked on ATS a tiny little bit on Sunday. I finished up that star I was almost done with and got started on the pikes on either side of the angel. The left-hand pike is almost done. Not really worth a progress pic, but hopefully this weekend will bring some more stitching time on it.

I realize I've been remiss in sharing my latest reads with you. A couple of weeks ago I went to my book club for March. The selection for March was No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon. It's a tiny little book, the text is only about thirty pages, sixty if you count the introduction. The book is worth a read though. If you haven't read Les Liaisons Dangereuses, you should, but this book is like a single scene from that book. Similar timeframe, similar feel. A single rendezvous rather than a series of them.

No Tomorrow

But, what's been occupying my time lately is school. I finished up my class in Microsoft Project 2007, and then had to take my certification exam last week. I spent a good amount of time the weekend before studying...with my study buddy, Othello.

My study buddy

Excuse the poor photos from my phone. But, Othello must have helped my retention because I took my exam on Wednesday and passed. What a huge weight off my shoulders that was. And to celebrate, I took myself to the book store.

And a little something for myself

I immediately set Fiery Cross aside and picked up Catching Fire. I've been wanting to read that one for awhile now. And I finally broke down and bought Water for Elephants, people have been telling me to read that one forever. I could have easily come home with a lot more, but I restrained myself. And I was really happy with this little reward.

So, I have begun my very last class at school. I feel like I've been focused on nothing but school for the past few weeks (actually even before that, since I pushed so hard to get where I needed to be before leaving for Nashville). It's going to be a little while longer before I can even raise my head up from all this, but at least I'm in the home stretch. And as part of being able to take a deep breath again, I treated myself to a movie this weekend. I went to see Remember Me. It's been awhile since I've been to a movie in the theatre, a really long while since I went by myself. But, I really enjoyed my whole movie experience - getting to see the previews, staying through the credits, the whole shabang. And the movie was excellent. I highly recommend seeing it, if you have the chance. The photo at the top of this post is in honor of the film. I took it when we went to visit NYC back in 2007. The sculpture of Alice is in Central Park.

So, that's what's been going on around these parts. Until next time...

I am grateful for books and Twizzlers and RP.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Snowy Weekend

WMHB 032010

I'm still stitching along on my BBD Where My Heart Blooms. I'm much happier with the silks than I originally was. I think the Sister Scarlet and I have come to terms. You can see I've filled in my windows and have completed the darker color of the house fill in. The rest of the house fill in is done in a lighter color. I'll be glad when I can get to the green on this piece. I think it will give it a lot of life.

After getting to a good stopping point on WMHB on Friday, I decided to pick up ATS and work on that the rest of the weekend. ATS was good to me this time. On Saturday evening, Eric and I watched the Opening Ceremony from the Olympics (yes I know...) and I stitched on my cherubim. Cute, aren't they? I love their little red drapes. I finished them up and then decided I should probably go back and outline my angel's wings before I forgot about it. I got it about half done and decided I hated it. Eric assured me that it really needed the outline, so I went ahead and finished it. Once I stepped back from it, I could see what Eric meant. So, the outline stays...

ATS 032010

On Sunday, while recovering from the fact that it SNOWED on Saturday night (in March, in Texas), Eric and I sat down to watch the Closing Ceremony that evening. And ATS came out again. I figured I was having good luck with it, so I might as well carry on.

ATS 032110

I worked on the two stars above the angel. I was able to finish the left one, but still have the center pattern to fill in on the right one. There are gaps at the bottom of the stars where the pikes overlap them. I'm stitching this on 40ct Elegant Bean and I am just in love with this fabric. It's really beautiful! One of these days, I should probably get back to working on my border. But, it's too much fun to stitch on the motifs right now. I'm really looking forward to getting to stitch on this some more next weekend.

I am grateful for a relaxing weekend and domino tattoos.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Surprise Quilts

Rail Fence

In honor of the Dallas Quilt Show this weekend (that I did not attend), I wanted to share a little something that arrived on my doorstep last week. When I attended my great aunt's funeral with my parents, we went by her home afterwards. My mom's cousins showed us around the property. One of the best things there were the glass doorknobs on the doors. Apparently after years and years of being exposed to sunlight, they turn purple. Who knew? But, it shows I come by my love of the glass doorknob honestly. Anyway, while walking through the rooms, we stumbled upon a paper grocery sack full of fabric and what appeared to be quilt blocks. Later, I mentioned to my mom that if her cousin doesn't quilt and had no attachment to the blocks, I would love to have them. My mom relayed the message and that was the end of that. Or so I thought. At Christmas, my mom's cousin (Eric tells me she would be a cousin to me too, but that seems weird), sent us a Christmas card and asked in the card if I was still interested in the quilt pieces. I of course jumped on this opportunity, and replied "YES!". So, last week a box showed up addressed to me. In the box I found the rail fence quilt blocks you see in the above photo. Coincidence that I just completed a rail fence quilt, no? You can see there's a good stack of these. And underneath the rail fence blocks are some solid blocks of the beige and white print fabric. Now, while the fabrics on these might not be my first choice, they are all hand-pieced. The pattern for this quilt, the template she used to cut out her pieces, and extra fabric were all in the box.

There was also a hand drawn pattern for a checkerboard quilt that intersperses solid blocks with blocks that have appliqued hearts. And the cardboard template for the hearts is in there too. I haven't deduced if that quilt was started or if it was just in the planning stages, but I don't appear to have any pieces for it other than the pattern and template.

Also in the box (excuse the wrinkles but this is straight from the box) is a completed quilt top. Again, all hand-pieced. And it's huge. I couldn't even get the whole thing in the photo.

Quilt

Not perfect, some of the seams don't match up...but to do a piece this size by hand?!?! I am amazed.

Quilt Detail

And look at the little cornerstones she included in the border.

Quilt Cornerstone

I think I'm going to have this quilted for sure. It will be pretty with my red and white quilts. And of course, I think it deserves to be taken care of. I will probably see about finishing the rail fence quilt too. It appears I have everything I need for it - even the spool of thread she was using.

Even though there was no quilt show in the plan for me this weekend, I did settle in with my stitching a bit. Friday night after book club and Saturday, I worked on Where My Heart Blooms a bit more. I think I'm making good progress on the house. The thread really doesn't look this sparse in person. "Blooms" is over one. I think I'll come back to the rest of the over one words.

WMHB 031410

I'm using Belle Soie on 36ct Meadow Rue. The fabric is actually much warmer than this in person.

On Sunday, I picked up And They Sinned again to put a few stitches in. A very few. This photo is from back in January, the last time I worked on it. It pretty much looks exactly the same now...except the little cupid on the right has his entire body, and the cupid on the left has about half a body.

ATS 012410

Love love love this piece, but OMG with the ripping out. And I know that my partner in crime on this piece is probably sending me hate mail for making her work on a piece that apparently has an ancient curse on it that once you open the chart you are bound to take out every single stitch you put in - at least once, sometimes twice. I really really wanted to stitch on the snakes last night, but I decided I would probably end up stitching them in the wrong place and have to rip them back out as punishment for not stitching cupid's bodies like I'm supposed to be doing. So no snakes. But, stay tuned. They are coming!

And no tea-dying on Ten (the Amy Mitten piece), or any work on it really. My brain just couldn't seem to function correctly this weekend. I needed a bit of rest and not thinking this weekend. Honestly, I could use another weekend of the same. And more Starbuck's Dark Cherry Mochas. I could definitely use more of those.

I am grateful for Eric's Monday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Workshop To Dye For

Ten - Threads

Thanks for all the compliments on my Mele K. finish. I'm glad to have it finished. Since finishing it, I also quickly stitched up my guild nametag, which made its debut appearance at the Amy Mitten workshop this past weekend.

2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the guild and in honor of that, Amy Mitten designed a mystery sampler for us. And of course, with the sampler mystery, you also get a bit of intrigue with a murder mystery too. I've been looking forward to this workshop for months!

Look at the gorgeous silk threads that came in our kit - hand-dyed by Amy (her threads are called Fibers to Dye For) in ten colors. I love the names, they make me want to break out a game of Clue (my photo doesn't show the names Col. Mustard, Sgt. Grey, and Red Herring - if you're a fan of the movie). Stunningly gorgeous threads.

After I finished drooling over my silks, we got started on the first chapter of our story and our sampler. Chapter one is titled "Tudor Rose". Of course, being the Tudor Rose Sampler Guild, this is a good place to start. There are ten chapters in all, of course.

Ten - Chapter 1

You can see my measly start on stitching my rose on 40ct linen. In the instructions, Amy suggests tea dying your linen. So, after some of my classmates came back on Sunday with their linen tea-dyed, I think I may do mine too. I didn't want to get too far on my stitching because of that.

So, instead of working on the cross-stitching on my piece, I decided on Sunday to work on the petals for the rose. These are worked on a scrap piece of linen with detached buttonhole stitch. So when you're done, you clip the couching threads and you have a three-dimensional piece that you can tack down to your actual piece. When finished, my rose with have a cross-stitched base, a row of red three-dimensional petals, a row of white three-dimensional petals and then a spiral stitched yellow center. Beautiful!!

Petal

So, there's my first little petal. I finished a second one too and started on a third. And of course, I loved stitching with the Blood Red silk. That long tail you see there is what you use to tack down your petal to your piece.

I won't reveal any more than that...you'll just have to follow along as I work on this piece. I think the first order of business is to tea-dye my linen. Amy's model had some pretty yellowy splotches to it, that she said were the result of Orange Pekoe. I may have to experiment. Although, I'm thinking some Lapsong Souchong might be apropos for the piece a la Sherlock Holmes.

Until next time, dear readers. Just remember - Miss Scarlett in the Drawing Room with the Candlestick. But, you didn't hear it from me...

Happy stitching!

I am grateful for an excellent workshop and an amazing and fun teacher! And anyone who names their thread "Venom" is alright by me.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka is the Thing to Say

Mele Kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka
Monsterbubbles from the 2004 JCS Ornament issue
Thread Gatherer Silk 'n Colors over one on 32-ct ivory linen
Begun 3/4/2008 Finished 2/28/10


On Sunday night I finally finished the neverending ornament. Mele K. appeared in the 2004 JCS Ornament issue and back when shops were kitting up the JCS ornaments, I ordered a kit for this piece. There is just something that has always drawn me to it. Probably my love of Hawaii. It may be my love of the song, or memories of the movie South Pacific which just seems to tie in with this piece.

In March of 2008, I decided to finally pull this one out of my stash and get going on it. I've stitched on it off an on over the past two years. I often put it away after getting my fill of over one stitching. And since this piece is solid fill in, stitching it was no small task. I'm sure there are stitcher who could have whipped this one out in no time, but hey...it took me a little longer.

The suggested finishing for this piece is to whip stitch it to backing linen with Thread Gatherer silk ribbon and stuff it like a pillow. Then the hanger is made up of three colors of silk ribbon braided together. My kit only included the silk ribbon for the whip stitching, so I'll have to think about the hanger for mine. I'm leaning towards ordering the silk ribbon and doing the braided hanger, because I think it will compliment the piece well.

I love it. And I've never fallen out of love with it. Just with the over one. But won't it be pretty on my tree? And it might be able to replace my beloved Hawaiian Christmas ornament that met with disaster during the Great Tree Toppling of 2009.

If you want to take a moment to listen to Bing Crosby singing Mele Kalikimaka, have at it.

And it's also your perfect opportunity to say in the comments "you've got a lovely bunch of coconuts there". Ha!

Anyway, I'll be heading up the workshop with Amy Mitten this weekend. I can't wait! Until next time, have a great weekend with lots of stitching. I think I'm about due to stitch on something huge after stitching on all the itty bitty.

I am grateful for not having to look at that recipe for Christmas Morning Casserole anymore. After seeing it at the top of the page for two years, I'm over it. Gag.