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Heirloom Memories Sampler Progress

  • Posted on May 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I spent several hours between Saturday and earlier today, working on the hardanger section of Heirloom Memories Sampler. I finished up today, so I thought it was a good time to take an update photo before I rolled up the hardanger section and moved back up to the top. It turns out that I’m not as close to finishing as I had thought. I originally figured that all that was left was the hardanger, personalization, silk ribbon work and bullion roses. Yeah, not so much. When I scrolled back to the top, I realized that I didn’t do any of the stitching at the top that goes between the ribbon work and bullion roses. Oops.

Oh well, no matter. I still made good progress this weekend, after not having touched this piece in over 5 years. I’ll take it. It’s all I can do to resist the serious temptation to start or work on something small for a quick, gratifying finish, but I really do want to get this one done by the end of summer. I have realized, though, that I actually have to start and finish Brush ’em and get it framed by November, so I may actually have to kit that one up and get started on it soon. I want HMS to be done and framed by Christmas, so it can’t be too far behind. It will be interesting to balance the two against each other, but hopefully it will help to keep me motivated.

Blah, blah, blah. I ramble too much. Here is the picture:

Another Backyard Visitor and Unexpected Expenses

  • Posted on May 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Another regular to my backyard is our resident groundhog. I’m pretty sure he is the same big boy that I caught ducking into his den under the foundation of our shed this past winter. Especially since he lumbered off in that direction again after I took his picture. I can’t tell exactly where he went because the boat is in the way. Yes, the boat still isn’t in the water. Let’s not go there.

At any rate, here’s my chubby buddy. He’s a beaut!

He’s going to be in for a rude awakening when we deconstruct the shed and have a detached garage built in its place. Not sure when that’s going to happen. We had originally thought that we would do it this year, but it looks like we may have some large, unplanned expenses coming our way soon. The sensor in the microwave seems to have died, as I found out the last time I tried to make popcorn and it got partway through the cycle and then started beeping quite loudly and angrily at me. It works for regular functions, though, so I think I’m going to go back to having to actually listen to my popcorn to determine if it’s done and just suck it up until it completely dies. The oven isn’t working correctly, either. It takes forever to get up to temperature and when it decides to fire periodically to maintain the temperature, it sounds like a blast furnace. Not good. Plus, I have all sorts of issues with the stovetop burners. But again, I’ll limp it along as long as possible. The refrigerator has not been taking very kindly to the power outages lately and the compressor is starting to sound a bit wonky. So, 3 out of 4 major appliances in my kitchen, all of which are less than 10 years old, are on their way out. I am NOT pleased. This whole disposable mentality concerning just about any products in our society really irritates me, especially as someone who is mildly environmentally conscious. So, if things really do start to bite the dust, I will have someone come in and see if they can be repaired. I had someone come in and repair the freezer portion of the refrigerator several years ago and it only cost a couple of hundred dollars. Not bad when you consider the whole appliance was about $1500 when we bought it.

And finally, the biggest ticket item of all is our riding lawnmower. Every time Terry has tried to mow the lawn this season so far, there has been something wrong with it, making it unusable. He has replaced a bunch of parts on it already and manages to get one more session of mowing out of it each time. But the next time he goes out to get it going, something else goes kaput. This is after we had a problem with it over the winter, too, during one of those big snowstorms, when we really needed to blow ourselves out (we have a snowblower attachment for the front of the mower). I’m afraid to even start looking at the prices for a replacement. The blower attachment alone cost $700, so if we can’t find another model of mower that will accept the same blower, then we’ll really be in for a world of hurt.

These are the days when I wish I was a millionaire.

Battling the Squirrel and HMS Progress

  • Posted on May 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

One of the many local squirrels and I are fighting an ongoing war over ownership of the can of birdseed on my front porch. I say I own it and the contents belong to the neighborhood bird population, but he seems to think that it’s his personal dinner pail. This is a metal can with one of the handles that swings over the lid to hold it in place. There’s a small bump on each side of the handle that barely serves to lock on the lid. Mr. Squirrel has figured out how to deftly bypass that minimal security measure. I actually watched him in action yesterday (he’s a bold little boy and doesn’t care if we’re watching him through the sidelight, about 2 feet away from him). Interestingly enough, he does most of the work with his teeth and not his paws/claws. He grabs the handle and works it back and forth until he finally pops it off of the lid, then lifts up the lid and usually flicks it off so that it lands noisily on the concrete porch and announces his latest raid. Then he parks his fuzzy little buttocks inside the can and munches to his heart’s content. I can tap on the sidelight and he just looks at me as he continues to munch on a sunflower seed. Little stinker. So, last night, as I was replacing the lid for the half-dozenth (is that even a word?) time that day, I decided to grab the heavy pitchfork that was leaning up against the wall a couple of feet away and lean it up against the can. I figured that might slow him down a bit, though honestly I just expected to hear a heavy thud and he somehow managed to toss the pitchfork off of the can. I came down this morning to a squirrel sized opening of the lid – under the pitchfork. He got the handle down off of the lid and managed to open it just far enough to get in without having to budge the pitchfork.

I know the easy answer is to find a more secure can, though I can’t go with plastic because he’ll chew right through it (we’ve had this argument before and he wins). I’ll have to troll the Lowe’s or the hardware store down the street and weigh my options. I think Terry still gets a kick out of the little guy managing to continue to weasel his way in, but I’m starting to get annoyed. I respect that he wants a meal, but the birds have a right to one, as well.

Anyway, squirrel wars aside, I put a little bit of work into Heirloom Memories Sampler last night. I decided that, despite having spent a couple of hours practicing my bullion roses the other night, I need to skip down and do the hardanger section at the bottom first. I don’t want to try to roll those bulky bullion roses into the scroll frame and still try to maintain decent tension on the piece. I just don’t think it will work out well. So, I cut out the hardanger sections last night while watching a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress. I absolutely hate working with silk perle and Thea seems to adore it, so I keep getting stuck in this trap with her designs when I buy her accessory packs. I have the same problem every time. When cutting out the hardanger sections, the tip of my scissors inevitably ends up pulling one of the perle stitches in a kloster block. It snags, I have to compensate and, somewhere in the process, I get frustrated and swear off silk perle all over again. There are some cases where silk is heavenly to work with and there are some cases where it is just a nightmare. To me, silk perle and hardanger just don’t mix well. Especially when worked on 32 count fabric where each little section to corner to cut out is just that much tighter. I have this problem every time I work with silk perle. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to them.

And now, I’m off the start the needleweaving process. I’m really skeptical about what the results of using white silk to weave next to ecru silk kloster blocks are going to look like, though….

And the Winner is…

  • Posted on May 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Heirloom Memories Sampler by Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler!

I quite seriously have not touched this since early 2005. I can’t believe it’s been over 5 years! Shameful. But, as I mentioned, I have now repurposed it to be in memory of my late mother-in-law, who passed away in October of 2005. I just charted out her name and birth and death dates. I swear I have terrible luck lately because it took me more than half an hour to chart the darned thing. I had to do the dates over a dozen times. Apparently, I just can’t count correctly, nor could I maintain consistent spacing. And then I couldn’t center it correctly. Sheesh. But, it’s done and I’m ready to go. Almost.

What’s been keeping me away from this piece so long are that nearly everything is done except for the bullion roses. I have a strong aversion to them. Partially because they are difficult (do NOT try to do them with cotton, you will only get frustrated with your failure; you need to use silk so that it slides nicely off of the needle; and make sure you use a milliner needle, which doesn’t have a bump where the eye is, but is a straight shot of metal) and partially because they are freeform. I’m anal, people. I like symmetry, regularity and predictability. Freeform is not in my vocabulary. So, I avoid it. Like the plague. Unfortunately, there are bullion roses all over this piece. Seriously. Three large ones, five medium-sized ones and eight buds. That’s a lot of bullion roses, especially when you dislike stitching them.

I’m a big girl, though. I need to suck it up, go grab a little scrap of fabric, some miscellaneous ends of silk floss and do some practicing. I did some back in November on the bellpull I stitched for my father-in-law and his wife, but I wasn’t totally happy with them. In reality, they didn’t look THAT bad, so I just need to do them and forget about them. It’s not like I didn’t just have Thea teaching me one-on-one in February. It’s time to put on my big girl panties and deal with it!

Although… I think I’ll do the hardanger section first, so that I’m not trying to roll the sections with the bullion roses up in the scroll frame later. You know, for something to do while I practice. 😉

Oh, and the My Dad pillow is going to go in the mail sometime in the next couple of days. I’m really bad about forgetting to mail important things on time, like bills and such, so I’d definitely rather be late-early than late-late.

Trying Again

  • Posted on May 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Here’s attempt number 2 at the My Dad pillow by Pine Mountain Designs. For Christine, the pillow came with the kit, so I can’t even begin to take credit for the fabulous fabrics they used. There’s a lovely solid dark brown on the back, which actually closely matches the dark brown floss I used. Obviously, I decided to use the dark brown floss as a substitute for the green that made no sense, as I had discussed. My dad’s birthday was today, so I won’t be getting to him in time for that. So, the question remains, do I just go ahead and send it now as a belated birthday gift, or try to remember to send it for Father’s Day?

Either way, I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. It was well worth the effort and I’m actually slightly more happy with the antique white fabric than I was with the ivory. It’s all good.

Now, I need to decide what to work on now. I could go back to working on Thea’s panel for the Savannah reticule. Or, I could bring out Thea’s Heirloom Memories Sampler that has been a UFO for years. I have decided to try and finish it in order to have it framed by Christmas. I could start Hinzeit’s Brush ‘Em for my friend, which I hope to finish and have framed in time for my next dentist visit in November. Or I could start Picasso’s Rooster. Oh, have I introduced that one yet? It’s from Ladybug Designs, who apparently has discontinued it and their entire Picasso line, because it’s no longer on their website. Or there is a glitch with their website, since the entire Picasso page disappeared. I purchased it as a kit from The Stitchery. They’ve been carrying it for years and I’m afraid that they are going to just not have it one day. It’s not necessarily in my normal style, but Terry and I both think that it reminds us of the mascot of our alma mater, University of Delaware, which is a blue hen. Other U of D friends of ours don’t see it, but hey, it’s my house and I see it, so too bad for everyone else. 😛

Of course, the kit used a big old chunk of 14 count aida. Ick. So, I went hunting in my stash for a suitably large piece of white 28 ct fabric. Turns out I don’t have much white fabric at all. I have lots of antique white, but not so much in the true white department. I had a cut of 28 ct white Jazlyn that wasn’t wide enough. I did finally find an 18 x 27″ cut of white (Jobelan, I think?). I cut it to the appropriate size, went out and bought another set of 24″ scroll bars to accommodate it because all of my others are taken up with UFOs that I don’t want to remove from their bars for fear that they will never make it back on. I brought it downstairs and got ready to mark the center before mounting it on the scrolls bars, only to find a good-sized stain of the fabric. What the heck? I rinsed it out, think it was just a scorch mark. Didn’t work. So, I washed it with some Ivory Snow liquid. Nope. I tried again, this time adding a stain treater. Nada. Bleach stick? Still nothing. Finally, I used a good bit of Clorox Ultimate Care bleach and let it sit for a couple of minutes, then (accidentally) washed it in another bath of bleach with some detergent, then another wash with just detergent and finally a couple of rinses. I then ironed the fabric dry. I easily spent far more than an hour working on this stupid fabric. More than 40 minutes alone to iron it afterwards. No clue how long I spent on all of the washing. Seriously, I wouldn’t have spent so long on it if I had another piece in my stash, but I didn’t, so I was desperate. I’m thrilled that I just figured out the overcast stitch on my sewing machine and had just used it on this cut of fabric before having to put it through this whole ordeal. Otherwise, I would have ended up with a fringed piece of fabric!

Now, it is on the scroll bars and ready to go. Yikesl! I’m in the process of ordering more 28 ct white evenweave fabric from Where Victoria’s Angels Stitch. Yes, I know, Anna will probably be irritated with me for not throwing the business in the direction of my LNS, The Strawberry Sampler. I do have my reasons, though. I just threw a good chunk of framing business in the direction of TSS and I feel some loyalty towards WVAS because Tawny has helped me multiple times in procuring old Just Nan designs and kits. She provides great service and is lovely to work with, so I felt that I wanted to throw some business her way, as well. I actually needed an additional small cut of fabric to go with the last LE Just Nan’s that I bought from her, so I tacked on two fat quarters of 28 ct white Jobelan to the order. Of course, the more I thought about it, I decided to also kit up the Lizzie Kate Dog Lessons for People while I was at it. This will actually test Tawny’s long-distance customer service skills because I don’t want to use the fabric that the models were supposedly stitched on, but instead the color of fabric that the model photograph shows. Two TOTALLY different animals, I assure you. Tawny dug into her pile of fabrics and provided me with some suggestions, while I did my own research. We’ll see what she gets back to me with tomorrow, but I think I’ve made a decision. It was nice to have her be willing to pull the threads and place them against the fabrics in order to give me an informed opinion. Sure, it would have been easier to just look at the fabrics in person, but I don’t know that TSS’ fabric selection is accessible to the public. I’m not even sure where they store their bolts of fabric; I’ve only ever seen them pre-cut and packaged out in the store. Maybe Anna can enlighten me.

Anyway, what gets your vote for the next project I work on? The UFO Heirloom Memories Sampler? Already started reticule panel? New start Brush ‘Em? Or new start Picasso’s Rooster? I’m leaning towards Heirloom Memories Sampler. I just need to practice my bullion roses. Again. And again. And again. Hopefully remembering the pointers that Thea gave me in class in Savannah in February. In the meantime, though, I think that there are still other parts of the sampler remaining to be worked on. I ripped out the cross at the top after changing my intentions for the design from being for my Roman Catholic paternal grandfather to being for my late mother-in-law. I’m going to stitch the alternative Rhodes heart instead. Anyway, let me know what you think I should work on!

A Backyard Visitor

  • Posted on May 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I was glancing out of the kitchen window this afternoon and happened to see a turtle scooting across the backyard at a decent clip. I immediately grabbed my camera and ran out to snap some pictures of him. He was a beautiful box turtle, sitting in the hot sun. He even let me stroke his shell and his outstretched leg, but he drew the line when I touched his head. He promptly retracted everything into his shell. Fortunately, I got some good shots before I tried to pet him. 🙂

Another Quick Post

  • Posted on May 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm

So much and yet so little going on. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?

As far as stitching goes, I’ve started on Thea Dueck’s panel for the Savannah reticule. Which just served to further my understanding that I am a slow stitcher. It’s okay, because I think my results are worth the time, but it certainly doesn’t help me to accomplish massive amounts of stitching in the limited amounts of time that I allot to it. I went to Stitching at the Ford on Friday and got a chance to catch up with Anna. I actually got there before they opened the doors and left right around 10, so I got a good bit of stitching done, which was lovely. The next day, I dragged Terry out to our LNS, The Strawberry Sampler, for their framing sale. I brought along two pieces to be framed. My Vintner’s Sampler by The Sweetheart Tree that I stitched in December of 2006 and my Seasonal Dragons by Sherrie Stepp-Aweau round robin from 2007. I apparently don’t even have a photo of the completed round robin. I had a feeling that I should take a picture of it before I took it in, but I studiously ignored myself. So, I’ll take a pic of it after I get it back. Instead, I only have a picture of my square, from the beginning of the RR. I worked with a woman at the shop named Nancy and she was fantastic. I had the Vintner’s Sampler framed similarly to how the model was matted and framed; I brought the picture from the kit with me. The round robin piece actually just got a frame and glass – no mat. I paid a good deal less than I had expected, even before the 20% sale discount. I’m not sure if it’s good that I overestimated the cost so drastically or not? On one hand, I came out of the experience very pleasantly surprised; on the other hand, I have probably been putting off all sorts of framing because I thought it would be too expensive. Now, I think I have at least one more piece that I would like to finish up and get framed before Christmas. While there, I picked up one kit and two charts. So, I dropped off 2 finished pieces and brought home 3 new ones. 😆 I bought Lizzie Kate’s Dog Lessons for People, Hinzeit’s Brush ‘Em (which will be a gift for my dental hygienist, who is also a good friend; I even know how I want to customize the frame and I hope that Molly at TSS will be able to help me) and Pine Mountain’s My Dad pillow.

I spent all weekend stitching the design for the pillow, finished it on Monday, took pictures and was ready to post them tonight when I just now realized why I had such a problem with the design fitting into the dimensions of the tuck pillow opening. I’ll show a picture, but I think I’m going to restitch it now. The kit came with aida, which I assumed was 14 count, so I substituted a piece of 28 count fabric. I also had a problem with one of the thread colors in the kit not working very well and not having enough of another color. So, generally, the kit was a miserable flop, except for the design and the pillow. Now, in looking it up on their website, I see that it was actually 16 count aida, which explains why my completed stitching didn’t fit the pillow. Rats. I was going to send it to my dad for his birthday next week. I guess I’ll be redoing it on 32 count and mailing it with his father’s day card instead. Bummer.

Here’s my current attempt:

While I’m at it, I think I might make another color change and get rid of the green, replacing it with a dark chocolate color. Might as well, right? Hopefully, I’ll have a new version to post in a couple of days.

First Finished Savannah Panel

  • Posted on May 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Yes, I have another finish to show off already – woohoo! To be truthful, I only had a couple dozen stitches left to finish off the top portion, but it’s finished nonetheless.

This is the first panel from the Lady’s Reticule project from Stitching in Savannah that I have managed to finish stitching. It was designed by Patricia Bage of Patricia Ann Designs. I didn’t stitch it exactly according to the design, but what’s new, right? Hopefully, Patricia won’t mind!

Next up on the scroll bars is the panel designed by Thea Dueck of the Victoria Sampler. I needed to pull a couple of colors to customize the female stitcher who is as the center of the design, but I’ll be ready to start stitching the next time I have time to pick it up.

Spring Biscornu Finished

  • Posted on May 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I managed to sew up my version of the Victoria Sampler Spring Biscornu last night and snapped some good (at least, I think they’re good) pictures of them outside this morning. The colors are actually fairly accurate, which makes me exceedingly happy because these subtle colors would have been easily washed out and lost. Thea created a beautiful design, as always. It’s funny because, when she first announced the contest in late February, I thought that the May entry deadline seemed silly because it was so far out. Little did I know that I would barely make it!

I didn’t have buttons of the right size and color combination to be able to use on this one, but I did have large Swarovski bicones that seemed to fit the bill. The backing fabric isn’t quite right, either, but it’s hard to have enough colors on hand to work for every project. I did the best I could with what I had. And that will just have to be good enough. 🙂

Drive-By Blogging

  • Posted on May 8, 2010 at 1:15 am

I’m just popping in on my way to bed to post another finish. This is the other side of my spring biscornu, with the more exciting hardanger sections. It looks a little wonky in the scan, but I don’t have time to fix up everything to lay nicely. It will all pull out of shape a bit when I finish it anyway. Oh, and those Dove’s Cotes (the part in the center of the hardanger section with the bowed out edges) were a bear. But I’m always up for a good challenge. Now I just need to go back through my first Janice Love hardanger book (Hardanger Basics and Beyond – if you want to learn hardanger or just how to execute it better, this is THE authoritative resource) and figure out what is wrong with my stupid Dove’s Eyes!

Next up, I have to squeeze some time into my busy gaming schedule this weekend to finish this thing into an actual biscornu. But first, bed. Good night!

My Stick Family from