The Bittersweet Season

Sept 12, 2007
To appease my need for stitching, without breaking out Egyptian Sampler, I’m working on ‘The Bittersweet Season’ from Heartstrings. It’s cute, it’s not difficult, and my reasoning is that of course I have to work on it now because it needs to be done in time for Halloween. Clever rationale, eh?

Oct 11, 2007
I finally got the rest of the beads sewn onto The Bittersweet Season. I like how this piece turned out for the most part. If I were to do anything differently, I would have used 3 strands of the ‘Black Crow’ floss, and 2 strands of the black #4 braid, to stitch the cat. I think the result looks a bit thin or sparse or something. Too much of the background shows through for my taste. And I might have used 1 strand of black braid and 1 strand of gold or silver or iridescent color, just so the stripe effect actually would show up. It’s there, but I have to tilt the piece “just so” for the light to catch the sparkle. Kind of irritating, but oh well.

All in all, I like this. I got to use a couple of new-to-me stitches, and stitch a piece in a genre of patterns I haven’t really done much with before now. The colors are nice (I like orange, but in small doses) and Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I’m going to finish it as a hanging, I just have to find the perfect bit of twig/ stick/ branch first.
Apologies for the slight tilt, I was trying to fit the whole thing on my scanner. I almost did it, just a smidge snipped off the top star and the bottom row of stitches.

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stash, tasty stash

Aug 17, 2007
While I was out of town visiting a good friend, we found a cross stitch shop in her town. A *real* cross stitch shop. As in a shop that is devoted to cross stitch, not a shop that just sort of happens to carry some charts and some DMC and maybe a few other things.

I may have gone a little wild, but I did keep my purchases within my “in hopes I find stash” limit I’d brought with me. 🙂

They carry the gold John James needles which I love, so I tossed a package of those in my pile. I can get them locally, on random occasions. (The store I found them at seems to re-stock them at infrequent intervals) I bought a nice size piece of a creamy/antique white shade of lugana (28ct). I could have bought more charts, but then I would have had to look locally or online for fabric when I have time to stitch them. I bought charts, and the floss and embellishments needed to stitch them. I can’t get Weeks Dye Works or The Gentle Art locally, and having to deal with online ordering later seemed silly when the threads were right there. I feel a little giddy all over again just thinking about it. heh. So what charts did I succumb to?

Lorri Birmingham Designs ‘Spring Needle Roll’ – it’s a kit, and it was the bee hive and little bee charms that did me in. I looked briefly online for it, and didn’t come across it, so I think it may be an older design. (a clearance sale sticker is another clue, lol)

Lizzie Kate ‘Wanted! – Santa ’02’ – I loved the saying on it “Wanted! Jolly Man Bearing Gifts.”

Two JBW French Country Designs- Rooster and Love.

Heartstrings ‘The Bittersweet Season’ – The photo on the chart doesn’t do it justice. The shop had a stitched model displayed, and it’s ridiculously cute without being too sweet.

I now have stash to keep me stitching for years to come, well, assuming I get the cloth and floss for all the charts I have in my drawer already. hmmmmmm.

Before we left on our trip, I picked up a copy of Cross Stitcher (issue 189). There are quite a few projects in it that I like and want to stitch eventually. And the issue came with a handy travel project bag.

And, finally, yesterday I received my shipment of fibers and beads that I need to complete the TW Needle Guardian I’m busy stitching. I’d love to say I’ll have a finish by Monday, but seem to have stressed a necessary hand a bit. Nothing a little ibuprofen won’t fix 😉 I will say that the Dinky Dyes silk floss is *gorgeous*. Worth having to wait two weeks.

I think any crafter experiences a similar Stash Sickness. It doesn’t seem to matter what your preferred artistic outlet is, we gather and store and gather some more, and perhaps part of it is the instant gratification of the acquiring process. Have to wait two weeks for some floss? Well, let’s just go get a magazine! Nearing the end of one project (nevermind that there are several others in progress)? Get supplies for several more! See a great bargain on something you might eventually possibly maybe want to do? Grab it before it’s gone! A sickness I tell you.

a finish and a WIP

I have a few things to share this evening. 🙂 The first one is a biscornu, my first ever. I realized after finishing it that it probably really should have had more stuffing inside. I also forgot to scan the two pieces of needlework before I stitched them together. oops.

Anyhow, the patterns came from My Aunt’s Attic. I used 28 ct antique white evenweave. The light side is stitched with Needle Necessities #119, and the more colorful side is stitched with Waterlilies #74 Storm Clouds, and Simply Shaker Butternut Squash. I was aiming for a more French blue, (should have realized that with a name like “Storm Clouds” the color was likely to be more gray than blue), but I still am pleased with the result.

My other piece to share this evening is a WIP. I’m stitching Needle Guardian by Teresa Wentzler (yay for Patterns Online! I’ve been wanting this one since I saw pics of it in someone’s blog who had attended the workshop.) It is also stitched on 28 ct antique white evenweave. I have some more lettering I can do, as well as the nun stitch border, but I’m almost out of things I can do until my order of Dinky Dyes, Kreinik and Mill Hill beads comes in. I thought about substituting things I have in my stash, and decided against it. For one thing, I looked online and couldn’t really find any variegated floss that had a similar colorway to the Dinky Dyes “Airlie”. I know that any TW stitched with her supply list turns out lovely. I’m not so sure what would happen if I replaced willy-nilly.

For anyone who intends to stitch this, if you’re as impatient as I am, you might want to order your floss *before* you start stitching it. It took me a while to find an online needlework shop that carries it which I was willing to do business with. And even so, they have to order it because they don’t have it in stock. I only found a few shops that said they had it in stock, usually just one skein. I wanted two skeins, in the same dye lot. I think I might want to stitch another one of these needlecases, and I didn’t want to have to twiddle my thumbs waiting for floss again. 🙂 I didn’t scan this, but when I finish it I’ll be sure to do a scan instead of just snapping a photo.

Rummage sales

(still have the charts, still haven’t kitted them up. I would have to develop a sudden desire to stitch people or angels in order to do so.)

July 14, 2007
I have a summertime hobby of going to yard sales (garage, rummage, etc). I almost never find good craft supplies, but I always look. Today I had the excellent fortune to find some bits of evenweave fabric. And… 6 charts.

In my glee and excitement over getting them for ten cents each (less than a dollar total) I forgot to ask the lady if she’d be interested in ever getting together for stitching chat. See, not only did I find charts, but I found *awesome* charts. Four of Rebecca Waldron’s Waldrop’s angels (Tudor, Victorian, Snow and Florentine), and two Lavender & Lace patterns (Celtic Christmas and Celtic Spring).

The L&L charts have pencil marks where she’d kept track of what she’d stitched, but the charts are still usable (and I might even be able to use an eraser lightly to clean it up so *I* can mark areas off as I go as well).

When one’s stash budget is limited, anything like this is a treasure trove indeed. When I actually get my current BAPs finished, I’ll be hard pressed to decide which one to start next.

Stash!

June 21, 2007

Well, I am back from vacation 🙂 We went on a large loop through the state of Montana, and I didn’t let the small population of many of the towns deter me from looking for needlework shops. Well, I didn’t find very many. Quilting seems to be quite popular, and to my delight, most of the quilt shops tend to carry a small section of floss for hand stitching. I’m assuming it’s for embellishing crazy quilts and such, but don’t really know since I’m not a quilting addict. heh.

I did find one Yarn and Needlework shop in Hamilton, Montana, that carries several types of floss, in addition to both DMC and Anchor. That reminds me I need to check the knitters shop here to see if they’ve added any other fibers. You’d think, living in a larger city, that I’d have plenty to choose from. But you’d be wrong. 2 stores that I know of carry some of the cottons from Caron, and some of the Kreinik filaments. And if I were a machine embroiderer, there are a lot of really pretty machine threads. I realize that this will sound insane, but there are times I wonder if a specialty stitching store would be successful here. … Probably not as a threads and patterns only sort of place, but with crafty bits and indulgences and yummy smelling soaps and things. That’s just random daydreaming, and not a for-serious Plan.

I had fun adding to my stash, especially since I got to look at the floss and its colors before buying, unlike online where you have to rely on a little picture. So what did she get?

3 skeins of Needle Necessities cotton overdyed floss (colors 119, 150 & 164)

1 card of Wisper (W88, it’s white. and fuzzy.)

1 package of Oliver Twist ‘One Offs’ No. 050 (gorgeous greens, and I have some quilt project ideas I’d like to do some day. Sunbonnet Sue, and Crazy Quilt)

2 skeins Caron Waterlilies (74 & 101 I nearly succumbed and bought more, because it was *just hanging there* and *I could touch it*. Rational thoughs of budget managed to prevent a catastrophe)

and finally, 4 skeins of Sampler Threads from The Gentle Art. I had to practice restraint with these too, because instead of numbers? They are named. That nearly undid me. I got one each of Dried Thyme, Purple Iris, Hibiscus, and Butternut Squash. See what I mean? Scrumptious. Beautiful. Irresistible.

I am stitching, but no update pictures yet. I’m working on a couple of the designs from Tante’s Zolder. I’ll probably be able to post finishes by next week.

Perspective:
I was asked what the sizes are in the Oliver Twist thread bundle, so I looked through my coin box and snapped a photo of the thread beside several coins. (Several years ago, I would visit a local coin dealer, and buy the little cheap packages of random coins. It was fun to see the currency from far away places.)

Motivation

Mar 10, 2007
I’ve been in a bit of a stitching slump lately, being distracted with other things. And now? Now it is springtime, and my thoughts are turning to greenhouse planning and other yard project planning. Flowers! Vegetables! Compost!

Luckily, I can stitch flowers and vegetables when I get tired of browsing magazines and websites; but so far I haven’t seen any cross stitched compost. heheheh.

And now, to stitch a while and perhaps post a progress update later this evening…

Springtime Roses

Jan 23, 2007
My current “small” project that I’m stitching is Martina Weber’s freebie “Springtime Roses”. I needed some instant gratification after working on Frederick for so long. Especially considering that my other WIPs are *big*.

I altered the floss list a little bit, because I wanted to play with the DMC Rayon, and YLI Silk flosses I received as holiday presents. I am using one strand of the DMC she lists, plus either 1 strand of a near-match rayon, or 2 strands of a near-match YLI. A couple of the DMC colors didn’t have any good matches, so in those cases I’m using 2 strands of the DMC cotton. I had to order the variegated silks (Thread Gatherer Silk’n colors, and Caron Waterlilies) because no one locally carries them and there are no good cotton substitutions. Oh the hardship, ordering floss! I am going to use Kreinik metallics for the Rainbow Gallery braid though. I’m currently thinking 2 strands filament plus one strand of base DMC cotton. Unless I just get Kreinik braid. I can get quite a lot of the Kreiniks in local shops though. 🙂

So, my “working floss list” is:

DMC 819 + YLI 13

DMC 776 + rayon 30818

DMC 3326 + YLI 172

DMC 335 + rayon 30899

DMC 341 + rayon 30800

DMC 793 + YLI 798

DMC 3810 + YLI 103

DMC 3348 (2 strands)

DMC 3345 + YLI 132

DMC 469 (2 strands)

DMC 935 (2 strands)

DMC 581 + YLI 162

DMC 733 (2 strands)

DMC 3823 + rayon 30745

So far, I am loving working with the silk. The rayon is more prone to knotting and tangling. But it has a lovely shine to it, and looks pretty stitched.

Feb 14, 2007
I have kept saying “just a little more, then I’ll scan it and post an update”. But then another few days pass with no scanning and no update. This morning I finally said “enough is enough” and scanned. So here, in all its unfinished glory, is my current progress on Springtime Roses. 🙂

Feb 22, 2007
Well, I discovered after I’d stitched the half stitches in the center, that I was supposed to have done them with one strand of silk, not two. I’m going to just leave it the way it is, although it probably makes the background behind the dragonfly more vivid than it was designed to be. I’ll just be sure to do a great job backstitching the dragonfly. 😀

Husband thought it looks like there are palm trees or the hint of palm trees in the background area, and I agree. Sure didn’t expect that, but it’s kinda cool! I wasn’t sure I would like variegated silk but it has grown on me and I’m fond of it now. Certainly it has to be used in particular ways or the result would be ugly, but oh the possibilities! I can hardly wait to see what this looks like when it is completed. 🙂

Mar 11, 2007
Well, this doesn’t look like as an impressive update as it feels like to have stitched. What the photo doesn’t show very well is the pearlescent blending filament. Which I loathe stitching with. Currently I am working on the rice stitch border, which is much pleasanter, because the rice stitches are done in silk floss. Sadly, I will have to add more filament stitching.. but in gold. And then there will be some slight scattering of beads. So, the next update will be a “finish” photo 🙂 Meanwhile, a hastily snapped photo:

Sept 12, 2007
I have not been stitching on Egyptian Sampler lately. It’s my carrot dangling before me, encouraging me to finish Springtime Roses. This piece is an experimentation piece and as such there are things I like, and things I don’t. Currently, I am not liking the metallic in the border. Problem: I didn’t have the braid called for on-hand, so I substituted 4 strands of filament instead. PITA is what that is. So I decided to go ahead and use braid. Only… I used the wrong size. A larger-than-should-have size. And I refuse to frog it. Either way, neither metallic is pleasant to stitch with. I didn’t mind them up to this point. Now I pretty much loathe them. I will, WILL, finish this piece. It’s pretty. After the filament/braid goes on, I get to add beads. But meanwhile it’s almost more pleasant to clean my bathroom than to stitch on it. And that’s a sad state of affairs.

Oct 1, 2007
I am so relieved to be done stitching this piece, that I cannot even express it properly. For a while I thought it would live in the drawer, forever unfinished.

First, a picture that attempts to show off the sparkle (I tried many things to capture the sparkle, have been mostly thwarted)

And finally, the back. I never share the backs of my pieces, but thought I would this time. This would be an example of why I have not yet felt confidant enough to enter anything in needlework show /competitions. I knot the start of my floss, and weave the tails, for the curious.

Quilts! finished!

They still use their quilts. I still haven’t taken any photos of the quilts.

Dec 20, 2006
I managed to complete oldest son’s quilt earlier this week. It is crammed into a smallish box. hehehe. Yesterday, I took the plunge, and committed to a marathon day of yarn-pulling. Rather than work a bit, and quit when my knees or hands started to ache (technique I’ve been using since I began this project), I started my day with pain-killers. And then I pulled thread, tied knots, and snipped tails, for something heinous like 7 hours.

But, the quilts are finished!! I gave the little guys their quilts last night, because it seemed silly to wrap them and put them under the tree, when both boys have known I am making them blankets. They are already asking me several times a day if it is Christmas yet, and are we opening presents yet. I didn’t want to add to the crazy of the season. Oldest, however, may not realize I made him one too. Hard to say. Teenagers sometimes seem to be in another world, but really aren’t.

I may post photos of the quilts later, but they (in my opinion) turned out a bit “Charlie Brown”. So I may take new pictures of the quilts In Action while in use by Boys. The errors and “learning elements” won’t be so obvious then. LOL.

Needle Puller

Nov 30, 2006
The salvation for the quilts being ready in time for gifting this holiday season is a small but mighty gadget known as a Needle Puller. Gripping the needle to thread the yarn through the quilt layers, and pulling yarn through, was making my fingers hurt and raising a blister on my thumb. Not fun. During a window-shopping expedition we made a stop by JoAnn Fabrics, so I could pick up a leather thimble. I figured those are flexible and should offer enough protection for the task.

Well! I found Needle Pullers, and bought those instead. The ones I bought are small thin flexible rubber discs. About an inch / inch-and-a-half in diameter. The surface on both sides is lightly textured, allowing the puller to grip the needle firmly. Wonderful invention!!

I think I may have seen a couple of these among the bits & bobs of my Grandmother’s sewing things, and didn’t know what I was looking at, so dismissed it as some kind of odd junk. Now I know better!

I’ve been working on Frederick as well, and hope to have enough progress soon to post another update.

SBQ, Stash bequest

I should re-visit this SBQ one of these days, and update everything…

Dec 1, 2007
(yes honey, you should read the whole entry…)

This week’s SBQs were suggested by Heather and were sent to me over a year ago. ….

I recently attended a stash sale organized by friends of a stitcher who had passed away from ovarian cancer. I didn’t know the stitcher, but I quickly learned things about her, such as who her favorite designers were and that she was much better organized than I am (she had almost no duplicate charts!). In talking with her friends, plans were to donate the funds collected from the sale to the hospice which cared for her at the end of her life.

The friends had organized everything, from going through her stash right down to what they were doing the day of the sale, because her family really had no idea of the value of her stash or what to do with it.

It was a rather somber experience; I even felt tears in my eyes a few times thinking of the woman who had once bought these charts in her LNS with plans to stitch them someday, gone home and lovingly filed them away, and then been unable to complete everything she wished to do. I felt guilty I was benefiting from her death and her losses. I felt honored to be offered the opportunity to take care of some of the things she had once loved. I felt like I knew things about her from the kinds of things she liked to stitch.

I realized if something happened to me, most of my stash would languish in my home because it wouldn’t cross my husband’s mind that he should do anything with it, and he’d have no idea *what* to do with it, either.

This experience made me think of lots of questions which would probably be great for an SBQ …

* * *

1 What would your stash tell others about you?

2 Most of us stitchers joke about having reached SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy), but have you thought about what you’d like done with your stash after your death? Do you want it to reach other stitchers who will love it, too? Would your family know what to do with it or recognize its value?

3 How well organized is your stash –would someone be able to come in and put together a sale easily, or would it require lots of organizing work ahead of time? What would you like to see done with the funds collected from such a sale, i.e., should funds go to your family, to a charity or charities of your choice, to a charity or charities of your family’s choice, etc.?

4 Are there certain items in your stash which are rare and highly desired by stitchers that might make a much larger amount of money if sold on eBay? Have you done anything to designate which items these more valuable ones are to guide your family in how to handle them? Who would you tell your family should handle such a sale so that they don’t have to do it themselves? Have you done anything to make these thoughts known to others, either through discussions or through a codicil to your will?

5 Have you ever attended a similar sale of a passed stitcher’s stash? How did it make you feel? Did it encourage you to make any changes in your stitching lifestyle?

1- My stash would tell people that I have a wide variety of thematic interests, and that I love to start things. It would also tell people that I like pieces with complexity both in design and type of stitches. It would tell them I like to be prepared, because I have a complete set of DMC, as well as a lot of specialty fibers and plenty of beads. (Or it would tell them I had a needlework addiction, LOL) It would tell them I was curious about designing patterns, since I have books about that general sort of thing as well as the DMC color card. (The big fold-out one with floss samples). I guess I’d have to ask someone else to look at my stash and ask what they thought it said, in order to have a better idea of what it says.

2- I hadn’t really thought much about what would happen to my stash after I pass away. I assumed, if I thought much about it at all, that someone in the family would want it. I would actually expect that only the pieces I’ve actually stitched would be of importance to family; and that the unused stash would only be of sentimental value, and possibly the sort of thing to just be sold or given away. I would rather it was given to a stitcher, so it wouldn’t just rot away with the years. And no, I don’t think my family would have any idea of what to do with it, or have any idea of the value of it.

3- It is only partially organized. The floss is the most organized- by brand and type, in numerical order, in floss baggies on metal rings. The patterns and cloth are in 2 of my craft drawers, but not really “organized”; and my WIPs are all over in random places. If things were sold, I would want the money to go to my family. If none of them were left, I’d want the money to go to the Shriner Childrens Hospitals.

4- I have a couple of things that might be of more value, either because they’re discontinued (a couple of books) or because they’re purposefully discontinued to make them “collectible” (a couple of Mirabilia charts). Unless my family were really in need of every last penny they could get, however, I think trying to do a special sale of those few items would not be worth it. I’d rather they saved themselves the hassle, and that someone who would actually stitch it, instead of tucking it away safe as a collectible, be the one who got it. And no, I haven’t chatted with my family about this subject, nor written it down, nor added it to my non-existent will. Though now it’s in my blog, so I guess that counts for a little something. I don’t know who I’d tell them to contact about it- probably direct them to the other ladies in Nile because I know some of them do needlework.

5- No, I haven’t ever been to such a sale. I’d find it quite interesting- to see what they had and wonder if they’d bought it or had it given to them as a gift. Buying such things would be like getting a little bit of history, and stitching them or passing them on to someone else would be like that person still having a little presence and light in the world. Kind of like family heirlooms.

In the end, I just don’t want my stitching stash, (or any of my crafting things for that matter) to end up in the trash. It’s worth … more than I’m going to admit right now (besides, I’d have to go look at it all, and get a calculator out, and that takes effort and I’m feeling lazy), and it would be *loved* by a stitcher. Especially someone who couldn’t afford to buy something nice.

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