Saturday, June 30, 2012

Patriotic finishes and a bit more Egypt

Is everyone managing to stay cool?  It was ridiculously hot yesterday, and today promises more of the same around here.  But the humidity was unusually low yesterday, at least.  Felt more like Egypt than it did home!  Until my recent move, I have suffered from a poorly functioning air conditioning.  If it was in the 90's or 100's outside, my apartment would also be around 90 or so for a few hours in the afternoon every day.  What a blessing that my new home has real a/c units.  Downstairs stayed cool and comfy all day long, and upstairs was only off by 3 or 4 degrees.  Not bad when it's 105 outside!

Moving on to the real purpose of this post, I have two stitching finishes and three new layouts to share.  Since I've already mentioned Egypt in this post, I guess I'll start with the layouts.  This first layout shows some of the pretty sailboats we saw dotting Lake Nasser.  The boats are called feluccas and we were supposed to get a chance to ride on one during our stay in Aswan.  Unfortunately, our guides declared that winds were not strong enough and canceled that part of the trip.  We did see several of the sailboats being towed by small motorized boats later in the day, so I guess they had a point.  Who wants to be stuck on a hot lake with no wind?  But they were beautiful to watch, especially late in the day like in this photo.
From Aswan, we headed back up the river towards Luxor.  I enjoyed my last views of the pastoral river life.
Once we reached Luxor, we boarded yet another airplane and flew back to Cairo.  We checked into the Ramses Hilton for the last few days of our stay in Egypt.  (BTW, our hotel was looking directly down on the square where much of the protesting took place 4 months after our return to the US.  It was fascinating to watch history unfold in a place that we had been just a short time before, and weird to imagine what it would have been like if we had chosen to delay our travels until February.)

We spent the next two days riding around in a tour bus, taking in the sights of Cairo.  One of the things that has always struck me about Islamic decor is the beauty of the geometric designs with which they embellish their buildings.  So I devoted a layout to some of the marvelous architecture and decor that we saw:
That's it for the layouts.  Not too many left for Egypt.  Maybe I'll get them all finished up soon.  Maybe.

I've also had the time this week to finish up two of the patriotic pieces I shared in my last post.  This first one is stitched from a freebie pattern from Chessie and Me using the recommended fibers on a piece of 32 count Silkweavers Cookie Dough linen, and trimmed with Candy Cane R&R Chenille:

It's a pretty small little piece, so I just finished into a little pin pillow.  I'll add it to my pillow basket that sits on one of the living room bookshelves.  This was a really fast, fun stitch.  

The second piece that I have finished is Blackbird Design's "Land of the Free" from one of last year's issues of Cross Stitch and Needlework Magazine.  I stitched it on 36 count Mellow linen from Picture This Plus.  I used the luscious Belle Soie silks that the pattern called for, but I ended up switching colors for the white, blue, and green.  The recommended colors just didn't look anything like what was in the picture (or like what I wanted my piece to look like).  I guess that's just one of the hazards of using overdyed fibers!  I am pretty happy with the end result: 
Again, I used R&R Candy Cane chenille for the edging.  This piece I'm using as a door hanger on our coat closet in the foyer.  I used some pretty fabrics to back each piece:
I don't have any progress photos to show yet, but I'm stitching away on my last patriotic piece for the summer, Penny America.  I hope to have the stitching done by the end of next week.  That might be a stretch though.  We'll see.

Til next time, I hope everyone has a creative and cool weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2012

June Ort Report (and some other stitching stuff)

Here's my June TUSAL update:
I think the jar is a bit out of focus, but it's hot outside today, I'm late with this update, and I just didn't feel like taking the time to get it better.  The jar is filling up and I'm having to shake/tamp down the threads so that's there is room to add more.  I may have to empty this jar before the end of the year.  Maybe.  If you want to learn what the TUSAL is all about, click on the link up above.

The reason that my update is late this month is that Mom and I took off for Cherokee earlier this week.  We had a great time.  We each had a bit of free play at the casino, and I had a good time with the Blackjack video machines that I discovered on this trip.  Wish I had found them before this, because Cherokee's tables are too expensive for me, and I ALWAYS have lousy luck at them.  Disproportionately lousy luck.  Maybe that will change when they switch to a live card system, but I may never find out.  In addition to playing at the casino, we visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  It was a really good museum, with a well laid out telling of the story of the Cherokee.  I would strongly encourage anyone heading to that area of NC to take the time to check it out.

On our way home from Cherokee yesterday, we stopped at a really nice quilt store in Maggie Valley.  I got a few pieces of fabric for backing some of my little pin pillows and ornaments.  Guess which one of these is NOT for backing a Halloween piece?
See that little white paw in the upper corner?  Scout was 'helping' me with the fabrics by pointing out a loose bit of thread coming off one of the pieces.  Little rascal.

In other stitchy news, I have another oldie that finally made its way into a frame.  This piece is from a kit by Maureen Appleton.  It's a reproduction of an antique sampler, and it is stitched over one.
I finished Sarah Bateman in 2005.   I like her, but if I were stitching this piece today, I would have substituted a darker, more noticable color for that pale white one that you can barely see (and in which her name is stitched).  In '05, I was not yet ready to think outside the box and use anything other than the called for colors of thread.  These days, I don't hesitate to change things around to suit my tastes.  What a difference a few years can make!

I pinned another sampler in preparation for framing.  I am a bit ashamed to say that I forgot to date this one, so I'm not sure exactly how long ago I finished it.  The piece is a Scottish reproduction sampler from The Essamplaire, and I got it in the very first class that I took at Jeanine's .  I finished it about a year and a half later.  Here's a photo of Elisabeth Ramsay propped in the frame, but she's not quite ready to be locked in place.  It seems that she's sagging a bit in the upper left hand corner, so I shall have to pull some of the pins free and re-stretch her.  Sigh.
I will leave you with two more photos.  The first is a snap of the three patriotic pieces I've been working on this past week.  I'll share more details about them as I finish them off.

The second photo is of another patriotic piece.  I don't know who the designer is, or what the name of the pattern was.  This is a piece that I sought out and stitched in the aftermath of 9/11.  Although I certainly did not finish it on that day, it was the only date that I cared to put on the piece, because, for me, the emotions and anguish of that day were what this piece was all about.  The text is the pledge of allegiance, and there are flags from different eras of the American government marching down the banner.  I love the fabric on this piece.
Until next time, I hope everyone stays safe and enjoys some creative time on these long, hot summer days!

Friday, June 15, 2012

More framed stitching!

Is everyone ready for the weekend?  I know I am!  My sweetie has been on a business trip all week and I'm so happy to have back home.  So, so happy!

I spent the last two days with my mom, working on closing my grandmother's estate.  It's sad work, and I am relieved to finally be done.  While I was at her house, I picked up a couple of framed pieces and pinned one more.  Along with the pieces I shared in my last post, I brought two more home.

This first one is La-D-Da's "Spot the Cat."  It was a quick stitch, and fits into a standard 5x7 frame.  Please ignore the reflections off the glass:
He doesn't really look like any of my cats, but I think he's quite cute.  This is the first stitched piece on which I have placed my new, married initials.  It gave me a little thrill to put that little "P" on there instead of the old "H".

This second piece is Carriage House Samplings "Shores of Hawk Run Hollow."   I chose to stitch this piece back in 2008 when Mom and I and two other friends took a road trip to Massachusetts to attend a needlework symposium at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  I finished it in early 2009, and finally got it framed today!  Again, please ignore the slight reflections and glares off the glass.  My dad was so anxious to get it framed that he didn't give me time to take a photo before he put the glass in.  What a nice problem to have, huh?
I've been stitching away on Soleil this week.  I don't have a photo for this post, but I will soon.  Lots of progress has been made, although there is still so much to be done!  It's amazing how a piece can look so full of stitches and yet have so much yet to be put into it.

In non-stitchy news, I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the farmers' market this afternoon.  The cats thought they were pretty too, especially Spike:
And finally, finally I harvested our first zucchini from the garden.  We had this little guy for dinner tonight:

There may not be any more after this.  But our one zucchini sure was good!

That's all for this evening.  Til next time, I hope everyone has a wonderful, not-too-hot weekend!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Pins and Needles

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weekend.  I know I have.  Saturday, I headed to Greensboro to meet up with my mom and some other fellow stitchers.  I got to see several friends, and make a few new ones (and even put a face and personality to at least one person whose blog I follow!).  We took a tour of Blandwood Mansion.  I haven't been there since I was in my early teens and participated in a historic cotillion class (I don't know what else to call it, we dressed in period clothes and had our 'debut' after several weeks in dance and history lessons).  It was an interesting tour.  Afterwards, we had a tasty lunch at a local cafe.  Several of the ladies headed over to the Greensboro Historical Museum, but Mom and I were a little tired and needed to refrigerate some leftovers, so we headed back to her house.

What followed was a 4 or 5 hour session in pinning.  No, not Pinterest, pinning samplers to boards so that they could be framed.  Apparently, it was time for me to put on my big girl shoes and contribute to framing my own pieces.  I am by no means perfect at centering my finished stitching, but I don't think I'm hopeless either.  I was able to completely finish 2 designs, Mom did one for me, and I finished one more that will have to be redone because it was too tight to fit into its little frame after I finished (not my fault, though, so it's okay).  How exciting to finally have some of these pieces going into frames!

I started small, of course.  A few months ago, I posted a photo of my long overdue Sarah Johnson finish.  Here she is now all framed up:
She's resting on the mantel right now, but she's destined to hang in the kitchen before too long.  I've never shared either of the next two pieces.  Mostly because I didn't have a blog way back in those days.  Yep, that's how old they are!  I stitched Salem Sisters by PlumStreet Designs back when the pattern first came out,  2006, I believe.  Mom pinned this one for me, since it didn't have a nice border to help me match up the edges:
And finally, we have Mary Ann Henderson.  I finished her in 2005.  I can't remember whose reproduction this is, maybe Scarlet Letter?  I'm just not sure.  Anyway, here she is:
Very simple and elegant, yes?  I think this one is headed for the dining room wall.

There are still quite a few frames and boards waiting from this first round of finishing.  But I ran out of time yesterday, and Mom didn't want me to take her box of pins home because she has to pin and frame a couple of pieces for another stitcher. (ahem, you are welcome, Chris)  I hope to have several more framed pieces to share sometime in the next two weeks.  Of course, what's left to frame are all large pieces: Shores of Hawk Run Hollow, Sarah Hatton McPhail, and Elisabeth Ramsay.  Somehow, I suspect I won't be pinning all three of those in one night!  Jenni Bean Halloween, Spot the Cat, and a miniature sampler are also in the pile.  Hopefully, the edges of my fingers won't get too sore and I'll get them all done soon!

Meanwhile, I'm back to working on Soleil as of this afternoon.  I'll stick with her for the rest of the week and probably move on to my giraffe sampler at the end of the week.  Til next time, I hope everyone stays safe and cool!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June WIPocalypse update

I cannot believe we are halfway through the WIPocalypse year!  Six posts down after this one, and six more to go.  Time has been flying by this year.

Since the last official update, I have devoted all of my stitching time to Sous le Soleil.  I know I have posted some update photos since last month's WIPocalypse post, but I'm going to backtrack just a bit.  At last month's post, I was here:
 and as of today, I am here:
 I got a ton done two weeks ago when I injured my foot.  I slowed down some last week (and haven't stitched at all this week due to traveling).  And this little motif right here is the main culprit for the slow down:
This pattern is in French, and for the most part that has not been a problem.  But the smaller specialty stitches you see in this photo are called "Point de rose".  I could not find an English version of this stitch, which is literally a "rose stitch".  The instructions in the chart tell you to 'broder la perle au centre avant de commencer le point' which I took to mean 'attach the bead in the center before starting the stitches'.  Which would be fine if the pattern called for beads.  But it doesn't.  So I made up my own stitch.  It looks, well, stitched, so I guess I'm happy.  I'm calling it personalization.  : )

There's still a ton of work left to do on this piece, but I sort of feel like I'm on the home stretch.  Maybe I'll have it finished by the time next month's update rolls around!  Maybe.  Meanwhile, I have pulled out 3 patriotic patterns that I would like to stitch this summer.  Naturally, I do not have all the fibers that I need for any of the pieces.  I placed an order for the threads about 3 weeks ago.  And I'm still waiting, waiting, waiting.  Hopefully, I'll get the fibers in time to actually start one by the 4th of July (although I'd rather have them in time to FINISH one by the 4th of July).

The house is now almost entirely unpacked.  While sorting through the linens, I came across this:

It's a small piece of Ukranian cutwork that I made about 10 years ago.  I took a correspondence course through EGA and then pulled from a selection of motifs to make my own overall design.  I was really proud of my finished piece, but I had to put it away shortly after I finished it because I adopted my first cat (or she adopted me), and she considered the little runner to be a great place to take a nap.  Now it's on the dining room table and anchored by the two candles.  So far, it has stayed cat free.  Here's a closer shot of the cut and pulled work.
  In other, non-stitchy news, I found this feather lying in our driveway this morning:
It's about as long as my hand from the base of my palm to the tip of my middle finger, and it certainly did not come from any of the birds hanging around our bird feeder.  And it looks so downy, there must be much longer, less fluffy feathers on this mystery bird.  So I'm thinking that this came from a really big bird.  I wonder what it could be?

Sadly, the birds nest that I shared in my last post has almost certainly been invaded by a cowbird.  There is one less egg in the nest, and the biggest egg is even more obviously different from the others than it was before.  I hate that this happened to the poor finches, but I don't know that there's anything I can do but let nature take its course.  Sigh.

And on that rather sad note, I will sign off.  Til next time, I hope everyone has a lovely, crafty day.