John Reed

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I barely know where to begin.  I’m so happy to finally be posting photos of this finish, but at the same time it’s a little bittersweet.  You may remember that I lost my dad last year, February of 2012.  And there have been a couple of pieces stitched in his honor, one by my sweet friends and one by me.  In fact I haven’t touched my Anniversaries of the Heart since completing his block.  But this piece, this sampler, is his memorial. 
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A while back I stumbled across the chart for the John Reed 1844 sampler by Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches.  And when I saw it I knew that one day I would have to stitch this sampler, because my dad was John Reed as well, but born in 1944.  It took me awhile to get my hands on the chart but I finally found a shop that could order it for me.  At the time I figured this would be one of those things I’d stitch and then show my dad and he’d launch into one of his genealogy stories, but be secretly thrilled that I’d stitched something for him.  Unfortunately, I never got the chance. 
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Last year on his birthday, even though I was sitting in a hotel room in Wichita, Kansas after a long day of meetings, I started his sampler.  I’d ordered the Au Ver A Soie silks that the chart called for and had tried a dozen different fabrics before finally deciding on 40 count Confederate Grey.  It seemed fitting.  And there was no way I was going to stitch this on the ivory or cream fabric that the chart called for.  It needed something richer, something to make the colors pop, something unique. 
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The house itself did bring about its own set of challenges.  The chart called for GAST Adobe for the house, but since it was the only variegated thread in the piece, I did want to go with silk if possible.  My friend Laurie graciously offered to take my skein of Adobe with her and choose a couple of options for a similar silk thread.  Out of the two she brought me I ended up using Gloriana Pecan.  And it really is almost identical to the Adobe.  
The other issue I ran into on the house was the color for the roof.  The chart called for an AVAS that is essentially “seafoam green”.  Not at all what I wanted as a roof.  Of course I scoured the internet hoping for a better photo of this sampler than what is on the chart, but try as I might the only photos that come up of this sampler that aren’t the chart cover are mine.  And that wasn’t going to help me.  I tried skein after skein of different silks but nothing worked.  Finally I pulled the DMC conversion listed in the chart and tried that.  (the DMC called for was not at all seafoam green but more of a greenish grey).  Unfortunately, with the color fabric I chose, that color wasn’t going to work.  So, I went about three shades darker.  And suddenly, I had a roof!
The final fork in the road I ran into was for the windows of the house.  When I looked at the blue chosen for the windows my only thought was no way.  I tried a lighter blue, I tried a pale yellow, I thought about leaving them empty.  But, when I finally got the motifs stitched on either side of the house I realized that there was no blue anywhere in the bottom of the sampler.  John must have known what he was doing, because it really did need that blue to balance everything out.  But, I stitched the windows in tent stitch to lighten it up a tad.  I’m really happy how it turned out. 
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When I started this piece I, of course, knew that I wanted to personalize it for my dad.  The designer had done her own personalization on her reproduction of the antique, but in the chart mentions that the original said “John Reed, Brendan, Aged 14, 1844.”  So, my own personalization has my dad’s name, the year he was born, and the city he was born in.  
I look forward to framing it, and showing it to my mom.  She hasn’t seen it in all the time I’ve been stitching on it.  As I mentioned, I started it in June of last year on his birthday and it’s been pretty much the only thing I’ve stitched on this year.  I put the last stitches in on September 26.  I will miss stitching on this piece, it has been a good way to work through my grief and to remember him with every stitch.  I hope that more people will stitch this sampler, I think it would be nice to know there are more John Reeds out in the world. 
I am grateful for a legacy. 

A Rainy Monday in September

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I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for Fall.  While I hate the fact that this year seems to be going by so quickly, yesterday’s 105 degree temps had me yearning for some cooler days.  I know it’s been awhile since I shared any stitching progress with you, and lest you think I am only sewing I thought I’d show you my progress on John Reed.  I am really pleased with how it’s turning out despite a few challenges along the way.  The chart is handwritten, and at times makes it difficult to discern what the designer intended.  I also had a few issues with the roof color for the house.  The called for AVAS was really more of a seafoam green.  And I was for sure not putting a seafoam green roof on my house.  I ended up going with the DMC equivalent she’d listed on the chart (was definitely not seafoam green, so not sure what was going on there) but had to go a couple of shades darker due to the fabric I’m using.  It’s kind of a grey green. 
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But, I’m getting closer to finishing this sampler up.  I’d intended to finish up the grass last night, but I ran out of thread!  So frustrating!!!! So, I’ll be out picking up another skein of AVAS as soon as possible.  And since I need that green for the grass, the border, the trees…I was a bit frustrated last night.  
So, I started something new. 
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I have spent all year working on just John Reed for the most part, granted some months my stitching was almost zilch.  So I decided at the spur of the moment to start my second start for the year – and I wanted something appropriately fall-like since it was September 1st after all )and I’d been looking at eleventy-billion Instagram photos of Pumpkin Spice Lattes).  I just happened to have this little beauty in my stitching bag, and it was already kitted with threads, fabric and even a needle included.  It’s like the universe was enabling me to start something new. 
This is a sweet little sampler a friend of mine designed and gifted me with last fall.  I’m excited to finally be starting it.  And today’s rainy overcast day seems like the perfect day to snuggle under a quilt (with the A/C on – because it’s still 98 degrees outside and I’m not stupid) and stitch on this. 
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and it has been so fun finally getting some time away from work and spending time with some friends.  Speaking of my talented friend who designs lovely things, I got to spend an afternoon stitching with her the other day after we had a fabulous lunch together.  I also had the chance to meet up with another friend for dinner one night and then we went to see the City of Bones/Mortal Instruments movie – so good!!!  And I have to share a couple of beautiful gifts I received for my birthday too.  
This little pincushion is a design by Little House Needleworks called Heart and Home Sampler.  It was stitched over one and finished into this adorable pincushion.  And she finished it with these beautiful ribbons and trims that she brought home from her trip to Paris.  I love it!  She and I had a lovely day out together last weekend and went to lunch and hit a couple of quilt shops.  So much fun. 
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And a package also arrived from Sylvia.  She made me another stitch wallet and look at the fabulous sugar skull fabric she used!  Reminds me a bit of the birthday gift my friend Lori gave me last year.  Sylvia also knitted this beautiful Honey Cowl for me.  When she was here in December last year, we went over to Madtosh Crafts and I showed her this cowl I’d been coveting made out of Madeline Tosh Tannenbaum yarn.  And she made me one!!!  She used a different, lighter weight yarn (since I do live in Texas), but in the same beautiful green I fell in love with.  I cannot wait to wear it!
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If you look closely at my John Reed sampler, you will see some unfortunate holes in the linen.  Luckily the house covered up the worst of the areas.  Months ago, my scissors got loose from their sheath in my stitching wallet and poked some holes in my linen.  None of the threads were cut, but the holes of the fabric were horribly pulled out of shape.  I’ve been joking with Sylvia that my scissors need to have their own “scissor jail” to keep them from causing more trouble with my sampler.  And guess what!  My new stitching wallet comes complete with an attached scissor jail!!!  Perfect for my scissors and threads.  How cute is that?!
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Sylvia also kitted up this chart for me.  Don’t you just love her thread drops?!  We’d gotten to talking not too long ago about Americana samplers when we saw this post on Laura’s blog.  And look what she sent me.  Love it so much!!
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Thanks as always for continuing to stop by to check in on my blog, especially since I’ve been so awol this entire year.  It’s been kind of a rough one so far.  But, I’m feeling like I’m finally getting some time for myself back and boy it’s a wonder what a difference sleep makes!!  
I am grateful for a wonderful birthday and some wonderful friends who helped me celebrate it!

Busy as a Bee

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You guys probably thought I dropped off the face of the earth, huh?  Well, things have been very busy around here and a lot of late nights and early mornings at work.  I managed to take Friday off though so that I could have a four day weekend, which I really needed.  And amazing what a little sleep will do for you – I actually made some good progress on my stitching!  
This is how my John Reed sampler is coming along.  I’m working on the middle third of the piece.  The house actually stretches down into the bottom third, which is why I only have the top floor stitched.  All of that fill in was getting a bit boring, so I decided to get back to the motifs.  Last night I managed to stitch ten bees, the beeskep and the two little trees.  Not too shabby!  I have to say though, that house was actually a lifesaver.  Those nights when I was so tired from work I couldn’t think straight – mindless fill in was the perfect thing to stitch on. 
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I hope you are all having a lovely Memorial Day.  I am rather enjoying a quiet day at home.  Oh, with my helpers.   
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I also posted up some photos of Memorial Day from last year on my other blog, if you’d like to visit.   And speaking of my other blog…you might notice that there have been a lot of changes going on around here.  I’ve linked my two blogs, so you can now go to my home page and reach either blog from there.  You’ve probably also noticed that I’ve changed my template and layout on this blog.  Once I got the blogs all linked and took a look at this blog again I decided that it was just too busy for my taste these days.  So, I’ll probably be playing around a bit with things for awhile, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look around at the other blog and see some of what I’ve been working on.  
Thutmose is always glad when I include him in my posts.  Thanks for visiting!
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I am grateful for my country.

Spring is Coming

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I really don’t know where the time goes!  March is here and the trees are blooming and we’ve had a few really beautiful days.  Of course this time of year, I’m drawn to brighter colors and I’m really loving my new found focus on the projects I have in progress.  Earlier this week was the monthly guild meeting and I took a couple of things to work on (not that I put a single stitch in).  I’ve been working on some Tula Pink Prince Charming hexies as you can see.  I’ve also been hard at work on my John Reed sampler.  My pretty stitching wallets from Sylvia come with me wherever I go too!
Here’s a closer look at John Reed.  I’m loving the AVAS silks on the 40ct Confederate Grey.  I’ve finished page 1 and I’m moving along on the adjacent pages.  I’m stitching this for my dad, as his memorial sampler, so I’d like to have it finished by June (his birthday).  It’s a bit washed out in this photo due to the bright sunshine I had coming in the window.  The photo from guild night is more accurate colorwise.    
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I’ve also been spending Sundays on ATS.  Nothing much exciting going on – but I’m on the last row of alphabet finally.  I’ll be glad to get back to the motifs at the bottom of page 2.  
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In quilting news, since I finished my Kate Spain Christmas quilt top, I decided to get back to my Tula Pink Kiss Kiss quilt.  You may recall I started this on my birthday last year?  A couple of weekends ago, I pulled out all my fabric and finished all the cutting for the quilt top.  Now everything’s ready for piecing.  I can’t wait.  This is going to be gorgeous!
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And look! an older Tula Pink line, Plume.  I’ll have to find something special to do with this. 
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 And along those same lines, remember back in October when I got to meet Tula herself?  I pre-ordered her new Hex on the Beach kit.  I got a call at the beginning of January that it had come in and I rushed right over to pick it up!  After seeing Laurie and Margaret’s progress on their Hex on the Beach hexies, I couldn’t resist any longer.  So, I have a sneaky suspicion I’ll be showing you progress on this soon too!
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And tomorrow I am heading out to the Dallas Quilt Show with a friend to see what trouble we can get into get inspired by all the pretty fabric and quilts. I’ll be sure to share what I find there!
(P.S. – if you’d like to take a look at my February in photos, you can check out my other blog.)
I am grateful for a good book, a pretty mani and bursts of happy colors. 

Turning and Returning

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In my last post I mentioned I had a new start for New Year’s Day.  I kept meaning to show a progress photo of the piece I chose, but before I got around to showing a progress photo I had a finish!  So, here we are with my first start and my first finish of 2013!  I decided back in December that I wanted to make A Return to the Sea with Jane Austen by The Sampler Girl my January 1 start.  
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It’s a design I’ve had in my stash since it was released, and I’ve been hoarding a piece of fabric for it and the time was finally right to put the first stitches in.  I loved stitching this.  It was a wonderful way to relax at the end of some very grueling days at work.  And the colors and the design just made me happy.  I put the final stitches in on Saturday the 19th. 
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 I stitched this with the called for DMC and Crescent Colours threads, but substituted the one Old Willow Stitchery thread with DMC.  I used 28ct Light Mocha fabric that I had set aside for this one, because that’s what I used on the companion piece – At Home with Jane Austen.  You can see how pretty the two are together. 
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At Home with Jane Austen was my New Year’s Day start in 2009 and I finished it in early February 2009.  I’m so glad that I finally made Return to the Sea a priority in my stitching bag.   These are both such fun pieces and the experience of stitching both of them was a true pleasure.  And it appears that there is now a third design that I need to stitch to go with these two.  What a perfect 1/1/14 start that would be!
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And while Miss Austen kept me company a good part of January, I also spent time with an old friend.  
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 It’s been awhile since I shared my progress on And They Sinned.  I picked it back up on Sundays and I managed to get the top of page two finished.  The alphabet actually went rather quickly, which was a nice change.  I continued my border vines down to the halfway mark.  I seem to judge my progress on this piece by two things – one, I’m now down to the fold in my chart and two, I get to roll my fabric!
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It’s such a delight to be “below the fold” on another page!  I have no hope of catching up to my SAL partner, Sylvia, but I keep trying!  Turning those scroll rods really gives me such delight, it tends to spur me on to tackle the next part.  
And speaking of Sundays, I thought I’d share another little thing I’ve been working on.  All this talk of Santa Sundays on Instagram had me digging out my started and abandoned Green Santa.  Since I’m already spoken for on Sundays, I took this guy with me on Tuesday to my monthly EGA meeting.  
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He’s just too cute.  I’m stitching him on 40ct Weeks Cocoa.  And it’s fun to jump on the bandwagon with Siobhan and Paulette (among others) that are participating in #santasundayxs (even if I do have to do it on Tuesdays).  You can find me on Instagram and Twitter under cozyegg, if you’re so inclined.
Now that I’ve finished Jane, I’ve returned to my John Reed sampler which is one of my main focus pieces this year.  I’m loving the way it’s looking and I promise to share a progress photo soon!
I am grateful for finding my groove.