Against the Cold

Every year we venture Westward to the small town of Reedpoint Montana to enjoy the festivities of the Sheep Drive. There are a variety of vendors up & down Main Street, a sheep sheering contest, parade, some type of auction I think, the “running of the sheep”, and a street dance in the evening. Some years we stay long enough to see the sheep make their short run and some years we leave earlier.

I like to find vendors selling their own hand-crafted wares. A woman from Wolf Point makes her own soaps and other products, all natural. She even grows some of the herbs she uses. Of course I had to buy a bar. It seemed like there were fewer vendors this year (probably due to the economy), but thankfully there were a couple of fiber folks present!

Rocking L Alpacas from Victor Montana had absolutely lovely fiber, some reading for spinning and some already in the guise of yarn. I have a nice fat skein of shimmery silver alpaca to make myself a warm hat and two tiny balls of turquoise blue lace-weight llama yarn. I think they will become a scarf.

One child wanted alpaca socks and the other wanted mittens, so those were purchased in ready-to-wear format.

In my yarn stash I already have several projects waiting for free needles. On my needles is a delightful merino/llama/silk blend slowly morphing into a beanie. Two other balls of yarn await a similar fate, and I need to take one of the kids to the yarn shop to pick out their hat yarn still.

My Christmas/birthday yarn is waiting patiently, occasionally whispering at me that I ought to hurry up a bit. I picked out a lovely lace-weight yarn (I forget the fibre content, probably merino/alpaca/silk or similar soft and not at all itchy) and a really pretty lace knit shawl pattern. It is very intimidating so I’ve been putting off starting it. I’m telling myself that knitting all these hats first will help my knitterly skills!

But I need to knit faster and procrastinate less because these hats need to be done asap. It’s a “Mom Thing”, this making warm objects to keep my people from freezing to death in the winter. It might feel like summer is lingering and autumn is reluctant to swing by, but there’s a certain feel in the air that says the pleasant days are numbered. So hurry I must, before ol’ Jack Frost stops by again.

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Basket of Biscornu

I have been making progress on the Eagle Scout Emblem and will be taking progress photos soon. My stash has several “smalls” in it and one of them has even been carried around on outings. In spite of that I do not have any smalls in progress. They’re a nice bit of a break from a large piece in that you get the satisfaction of a project completion. A little encouragement to keep on stitching the large projects.

I made a biscornu ages ago, and have seen literally hundreds of other people’s biscornus (well, virtually that is). Last year some time I started seeing people talking about “baskets” of biscornu, and I finally took the time to do some internet searching to figure out what it is all about.

It sounds like a lot of fun though I would have to limit where I displayed the finished products else they would be “claimed” by the furry pets in the household as toys…

For anyone else who was or is as mystified as I was about this project, you can read all about it on the Basket of Biscornu blog.

Iris Quilt

When I was a little girl my mother started this quilt. It took her quite a few years to finish it, as she did all the applique and quilting by hand. It is (and was) much loved and used for a decade or two at least. I have not had it in use for several years now as the floss she used for the flowers is wearing thin. I’m afraid to wash it even for fear little pieces will come off and be forever lost in the plumbing somewhere.

So I began re-stitching it. It has been at least two years now since I’ve worked on it but I think about getting it out once in a while and resuming the process.

Here is an image of the quilt:

And here is a better picture of the damage, followed by a picture of some of the repair stitching.

Embroidery is not something I am proficient at but by the time I finish the last stem and flower and leaf I’m sure they will be looking much nicer than these first few! Part of the leaf issue with this example was that the seam allowance on the bit of fabric was pretty much frayed into oblivion. I had considered making new bits for damaged/missing motifs but decided against it. Matching the fabric for both color and “age” would have been a large task. In the instances where I have too little (or no) fabric to repair I will just fill in with some sort of stitch instead.

Coffee is Magic

This chart was a freebie from Jennifer Aikman-Smith of Dragon Dreams. It is no longer available on her site or I would gladly share the link. “Coffee is Magic in the Morning” was a fun fairly quick stitch. I got to use a furry fiber for the first time, as well as glow-in-the-dark floss. (The bunny slippers and beard both glow, cute!) -edit- Now that I look at it I realize it isn’t fuzzy floss… I believe that what happened was I was supposed to use fuzzy floss but was too impatient to wait for my order to arrive so I purchased the glowy DMC at a local shop. It’s been a few years since I stitched it so I’d forgotten about that.

The only flaw was not centering my project on my cloth right, and then I got creative with the border. Some day I may pick out that yellow and sew a cloth border on so I can frame it properly.

The odd shadow is from my scanner. I eventually figured out how to ‘block’ the slide holder slot with a sheet of plain paper, but this was scanned prior to that.

Party Eggs

These eggs were fun to make. I am a member of a ladies’ choir unit and we enjoy having a couple of parties each year. Theme and location vary but the fun never does- we always have fun! Anyhow, the eggs were simple to make, though a little time-consuming.

Raw eggs, ribbon, silk flowers, hot glue, pen & paper. That’s all. There are likely tutorials online for blowing the yolk & white out of the eggs but the process is really pretty easy.

You poke a small hole in the narrow end of the egg and a larger hole in the wide end of the egg, and literally blow from the small end to force the insides out. Get more eggs than you need to end up with to account for a few disasters along the way.

Rinse the eggs and let dry. Then using hot glue, attach the ribbon loops and the silk flowers.

The pen & paper is for making the “fortunes” that you stuff inside each egg. You can cut slips of paper and hand write quotes, silly fortunes, or whatever theme you wish; or you can type it up on your computer, print them out and cut the paper into strips. I liked having the strips the entire width of the sheet of paper- it allowed for enough paper to curl inside to keep the paper in the egg, and still have a bit of “tail” poking out so people could retrieve their saying easier.

Palm Tree

This is the project that started my stitching obsession. It was a kit I bought at Joann Fabric, in their clearance bin for $3. We had been in the process of trying to sell our small house so we could buy a home with a bit more space that would suit the needs of a family with boys better. This meant that all of my hobby supplies were packed away in boxes in a storage unit so our house would look more “staged” for potential buyers. And THAT meant I had nothing to occupy my hands with in the evenings. An online friend of mine had shared some photos of needlework pieces she had stitched. Lovely things that weren’t tiny cute Disney characters or simplistic flowers. I thought “hmm, it isn’t just Precious Moments birth announcements?” and went to the store.

My theory behind buying the palm tree kit was that it was only $3 so if I didn’t like working cross stitch I wouldn’t be out that much money. And the kit was pretty small, so I wouldn’t be out that much time either.

Turned out I loved it. So I stitched this piece and then the “Reading Room” piece and then went to the afore-blogged Ben Franklins and bought the kit for Frederick the Literate.

Rose Pillowcase

I have a few pieces in my craft stash that belonged to relatives who’ve passed on. This set of rose pillowcases is one of those projects. I have not worked on this at all in the past five years, so I’m not quite sure if I want to categorize it as a “work in progress”… probably shouldn’t. The cloth is a 100% cotton, and the design was already stamped on the cases. I decided to use colors that would go well with other linens and decor in our bedroom. So the roses are blue and the foliage is green. I get bored with chain and satin stitch pretty quickly which is probably one reason I set it aside. Not needing to count or to keep track of a paper pattern would make this a very portable “on the go” project. I think I’ll pull it out and start a “go bag” of projects.

Endings (musings on closing of a shop)

(I still sometimes forget that shop is closed. I fell out of the habit of blogging spring of ’08, so I will have to look through my files to see if I took any photos of needlework and other craft projects I have worked on, or completed, these past few years. Updating “from scratch” is more time-consuming and tricky than some clever copy/paste of old archives. sigh.)

Feb 29, 2008
Our local Ben Franklins craft store is closing. What a horrible headline to great a person when they are pre-coffee and just waking up and logging on to read the newspaper.

Starting Monday they’ll be marking merchandise with sale prices, and it will be closed for good in May. I have a lot of fond memories of shopping there over the years, from embroidery patterns and tea towels, to silk flowers, fabric and art supplies, and in more recent years the threads and flosses and yarns and scrapbooking. When they started carrying Melissa & Doug products, they also set up a small train table with wooden trains for children to play with while parents shopped. My kids call Ben Franklins ‘the Train Store’.

I live within a reasonable walking distance from Ben Franklins. They have a nice variety of things I use, or others in the family use. They are one of the only stores in town that has Caron products (limited selection, but still! they have it!) for sale. (No one locally, alas, has silk floss.) I really like shopping at Ben Franklins, where most of the people are familiar faces that have worked there for years, who know what is in their store, and are very helpful.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I mean, this is the store we bought silk flowers from to create the floral arrangements for our wedding!!! And I remember my mom & I once filled a couple of very large bags full of bits and pieces of silk flowers and leaves from their “things fell apart so all these bits and pieces are discounted tons” bin. We had a lot of fun over the years with those flowers, from making wreaths to decorating hats, and a lot of other things. I’m going to have to make sure I stop over there before their doors close, so I can get enough craft paint to finish my insane mural I’m painting in the kids’ room. And there were a couple of inexpensive framing projects we’ve been putting off, but maybe those ought to get taken care of too, while we can still buy the stuff from a small business.

The impersonal nature of the big box stores can NEVER match the smaller businesses. Ben Franklins may be a franchise, but it isn’t at all the same at those Stores Which Shall Not Be Named, which more resemble a cavernous warehouse than a friendly shop.

new stash

(Auspicious Argosy is indeed kitted and awaiting my needle. I have, alas, several other large WIPs ahead of it…)

Oct 25, 2007
My chart for Frederick the Literate found a new home with Outi, and in exchange she sent me the PINN chart ‘Auspicious Argosy’. Thanks Outi! I am wanting to start stitching it already. … The problem is that I have a lot of Medieval Court left, as well as over half of Egyptian Sampler. I also started Fish City (even though with only a small inch or so completed, it hardly counts as being “in progress”).

I am also nearly finished with the scissor fob companion piece to my Lorri Birmingham needlecase that I made ages ago. And I’m making an applique-ish? quilt block for the Robert Jordan memorial quilt project. And Solarium Sublime’s Virtual RR#1 begins Nov 1st. (As does NaNoWriMo..)

This doesn’t even touch on the projects for which I have charts, fabric and floss gathered.

But, consider this from the back of the booklet:

Through most of Chinese history, the Chinese have concentrated largely on land commerce and exploration. Until 1403 in Ming dynasty the maritime expansion of commerce had begun, Chinese emperor was interested to expand trade with other countries and had a taste for import exotic goods. It was at this time that China first received embassies from major countries such as Europe. This also begun of greatest time of Chinese commercial era the voyage ship came to be symbol of prosperity and was initiated in the old trading days in Asia. Chinese said that the voyage ship represents the arrival of good fortune as on board there was always gold and money then became known as treasure ship. Most business used voyage ships as a logo to state that their luck had finally arrived. In meaning of Feng Shui, ancient Chinese art of living, the voyage ship embodies wood, water and wind elements which when combined it is said to be most auspicious as they represent health and prosperity.

The Chinese calligraphy written in the design means ‘business success’ which for implies to progression of steady business and best for business good wishes. Come cross stitching Auspicious Argosy and place it at home or workplace, this great symbol of good fortune.

And the image is lovely as well. Actually, I liked it first for the image, and the symbols behind it only increased my wish to stitch this.

See? How, when looking at this, can one resist beginning?

Needle Guardian

Sept 12, 2007

I loved this piece! As always, with a Teresa Wentzler. 🙂 I came up with my own finishing method, and it turned out well. Not as perfectly as I would wish for, but better than I’d hoped. The first page has a place for needles and a pocket for holding needle packets. The second page has another place for needles and a scissor pocket with ribbon to hold it inside the keeper. I put on a bead dangle, and ribbon, to keep the keeper closed.

I enjoyed this one enough that I would possibly stitch it again in the future.

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