Monday, September 2, 2019

Late but still appropriate....

Yes, I was hoping to have this in the shop on the 1st, but since I didn't start it until last night...well, anyway, better late than never I think...just one day late.

September-Year of Celebration
I'm so excited to have finished 9 of these projects stitched, finished and in the shop.   I'm up to date and only have 3 more to finish the series.  I'm sensing a trend here...I did the entire Scary Apothecary Series (9 total)  and now I know I'll be finishing this series....I've become a series stitcher.  First let me say these are fast and fun to do.  And secondly I have only done one a month so I didn't try to get all 12 done at once so it was really easy to stay on track.  I also use the Hornbook to model them so I just take the prior month stitched piece off and put on the latest month so you don't have to purchase frames for each or anything else to display them.  One and done!  Then I don't have a lot of finishing to do on them, so that's an easy finish.  Fabulous! And now I move on to more Halloween and Christmas stitching.   Hope you had a safe and fun holiday weekend and now for our children in Ocean City, it's back to school time.  Izi spent time with me today playing games knowing that our summer of fun has come to an end.  Although we do have weekends and he reminded me that he gets half days sometimes and. then a whole day off, so I'm sure we will be having some game days in the future, but I know it won't be long before he won't really want to hang out with his grandmother anymore.  And he's my last one.  The other boys have already moved on to friends.  They grow up too soon.  I'm trying to focus on the positive, this gives me anywhere from 3-5 more hours in the day to stitch!  Hmmm, so it's not too tragic is it?  Have a great week.  Sara, Mary and I are busy preparing for the Jackie DuPlessis classes this weekend.  And after that  we have the Delaware Valley Sampler Guild retreat, followed by Stitchers Jamboree...whew...we are going to be working like dogs here for the next 6 weeks.  But we're up for it so bring it on!  Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Scary Apothecary Series Done!! Have a Wonderful Labor Day Weekend...

Yes, Scary Apothecary by Hands on Design is done and I couldn't be happier and more proud that I plowed through and did all nine designs (I've started many  series and I don't think I've ever completely finished one, so this is a personal accomplishment.)  Wouldn't you know, While thinking I was on the final push on Cackle, I found I made a counting error and had to frog the word Cackle...ugh.  I found it amusing that this one piece was the one chart of the entire project that had a frog on it.  I refused to go to sleep until I had finished it, but by 2:30am said screw it and finished the final stitches this morning  I also decided to switch out the green cording I hung the designs on originally for display.  I took a second look at the Halloween Garland I purchased last year from Michaels or Hobby Lobby, and after attaching one Sara and I both decided it was the perfect ending.  So the final design, Cackle Lozenges,  is complete, shown below along with the previous 8 which are already on the Halloween garland, shown 2nd.

Today I hope to start and finish September-Year of Celebration.   While I'm disappointed I didn't get anything, other than the small Year of Celebration done for September specifically, I'm going to definitely be ready for Halloween.   Now I can get on with my challenge project and the Brenda Gervais Halloween pieces, oh, yes I can't forget the Sampler Santa which I started a month ago.  Well, now I'm ready to proceed.  Since Labor Day marks the end of summer for us, I took time to reflect on my summer.  2019 summer has been my best ever since I was given so much time off.  In fact even as we go into Labor Day weekend I'm only on the schedule for 1 day...Saturday.  So thank you, Sara, for giving me so much time off, especially since I was disabled due to the broken ankle from February and only got the boot off at the end of April which meant I wasn't working at all during the months I'm on the schedule 4 days a week.  I promise to be more careful starting after Thanksgiving when we go on Winter schedule.    Yes, this summer was the best time ever!  We are also having the best Labor Day weather this year than I can remember having the last few years.  Not a rain cloud in sight and the temps are in the high 70's, low 80's and although the humidity is high, I've turned off my a/c and I'm using just a fan.  It's heavenly and the crowds (it's crowded down here as hotels are booked solid) are relatively quiet.  Last night, Saturday night, you could hear a pin drop after whooping and hollering going on which is almost unheard of on holiday weekends.  And of course, tomorrow it will be a ghost town until the following Thursday when the town fills up again, and of course, we have Jackie coming for classes so we will be working it.  By the way, in case you haven't seen the notice, we've gone to winter hours, open 10-4 although we are still open 7 days until Thanksgiving and then we go to 4 days.  95% of our foreign staff have returned to their home countries and the few remaining at this point will be leaving soon, so Sara decided to close at night (I'm not sure if this is a lack of employees or Sara's need to get some rest, but since we're dealing with the passing away of a close cousin, it's been tough this week and will be tough next week so I think she needs some break to deal with it.)  I feel guilty talking about our lovely Labor Day when so many of you are suffering from the anticipation as well as what comes before and after hurricanes.  I'm keeping all in my prayers and since I've lived through many I do know what you are dealing with. Stay strong, stay indoors and if you can leave, perhaps you should.  Better be safe than sorry.  Don't forget to take your stitching with you.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

When last I wrote, I talked about my next project being, Hands on Design's "Apothecary Series", and I have had my issues with this series (operator error), but I have loved each finish. I've not finished the entire series yet, as you can see, but I'm hoping to finish the final 3 before next Friday and will have it hanging in the shop.  Love It.  I started with "Bitter Brew".  I had picked a fabric, but when Sara saw it she had a different one in mind so I decided to go with her decision.  Since I really felt as long as the fabric color was light all the designs would pop.  Sara picked 32 ct. Pale Lilac linen.  I pulled the Classic Colorworks fibers recommended as I was going to do it exactly as shown on the charts, however, I didn't have the called for Kreinik threads so I pulled threads that closely matched the called for colors (or I just liked them).  So I instantly decided instead of Zach Black I'd just use the DMC black as it popped more on the fabric.  After that,  I used the called for flosses for the rest of the piece.  I failed to note that I was supposed to use a specialty stitch on the bottles, and instead did the cross-stitch in Kreinik and then satin stitched over that with the Kreinik.  It really makes the bottles stand off the linen.  I also used the #4 black Kreinik to make all the spiders on the series.  Then after I finished the stitching I decided to do the finishing as well right away.  A couple at a time would be easier than doing all of them at once (I thought),  After looking at different options for finishing, I finally settled on the following for all pieces.  I cut 2 mat boards for each piece, glued scrapbook paper to the back of one piece, put a piece of batting on the front piece, attached the stitched piece to the batting mat board, cut 2 two-inch strips of the orange/black ribbon and made 2 loops for each piece which I glued to the back piece of mat board on the side that would be glued to the front mat board.  Yes I glued the two mat boards together.  Then I decided to have 2 colors in the cording and for Bitter Brew it was orange-DMC #922 and black-DMC #5 pearl cotton...3 strands of each color.  I always have the same issue with cording and that is figuring out how to join the ends without it showing.  I improved by the 6th finish, but it was a rough go.  Anyway, I was pleased with the process from start to finish.  The complete finish by the 6th piece was taking me approx. 1 hour start to finish.  In the beginning, with the first one, it took me a day because of the cording issues. The stitching took anywhere from 2 days to 2 1/2 days start to finish.  I chose to stitch on this project rather than switch on the weekend to my challenge project (Shores of Hawk Run-(I think you can see why it's not getting finished this year.)   

Next came, "Broom Stick," which was one of the quickest to stitch.  With the exception of Zach Black, and Frog Legs, I used the recommended colors.  Zach Black is substituted in every chart to DMC Black.  On this chart, I also substituted Frog Legs as it didn't show up as nicely on my linen so I used Hickory Sticks to highlight the broom satin stitched the part of the broom which surrounds the broom stick.  For the cording I used Weeks Gold and DMC Black. 

Next came "Bat Balm."  Another fast stitch and here again I didn't like the brightness of the Finley Gold and substituted Weeks Gold in its place.  For some reason, I didn't change the bat color to black and should have as they don't show up as well on the gold (they would have shown up beautifully on the Finley.  This piece is also where I began using a deep rose metal body and the bats the rose eyes.  I did change the green beside Bat Balm lettering because I didn't even look at the chart symbol and just for some reason did it in green.  Since I thought it looked O.K., I stuck with it. 

Next up-"Snail Slime."  Again, it would have been lovely if I bothered to read, instead of looking at the from of the chart because again, I didn't notice the bubbles were supposed to be a specialty stitch and I just did cross-stitch, but I loved it enough anyway to leave it.  On this finish, I used a lime green DMC #734 with the black.  During the making of the cording my cord spinner broke and I then had to finish the next two with cording done the old way with a pencil...UGH!  Sara was going to drop a new corder off on her run to the grocery store but that would be 2-3 days away and who can wait? Now, I so appreciate my little corder so much more than I ever did.  

Next came "Skeleton Polish".  On this one I changed the Finley Gold on the bones to WDW White Lightening which is a gray white.  For that cording, I used DMC #3041 with Black. I was so upset about my corder during this one that when I went to cut excess cording off, I also cut the ribbon in half in one side.  Since the back was already on and the glue dried I then had to repair the ribbon loop....honestly what a moran I am.  But after driving myself crazy repairing the darn thing, I walked away and when I came back the glue was dry and the ribbon was connected.  

Next-"Cauldron Cleaner"-Here I did use Zach Black but for lettering and the main color on the cauldron, but used Black on the cats and darker colors associated with the cauldron.  I used the Kreinik as the orange color under and around the cauldron acting as flames.  I also left off the recommended Smyrna crosses on the cauldron and added Frog Legs satin stitch to represent whatever cooking in the cauldron is  bubbling over.  That cording is orange and black.  

While there are 3 more designs to stitch, I wanted to show you how cute these are and how I intend to display a Halloween pennant banner, with Halloween characters holding the ends of the banner.  I'm excited!

We have it temporarily up on the counter until I have it completely finished.  I'm thinking about adding something in-between each stitched design to keep them anchored, but we are still debating on whether to do it or not.  Anyway, I highly recommend this project for those of you who have Halloween on the brain.  Fun, Fun, Fun!  Can't wait to finish because my next projects are already kitted and are waiting patiently for me to get to them.  Have a great Labor Day weekend, stay safe.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

OMG....I don't know how anyone is standing this heat....

but I'm O.K., so far, since I rarely leave my apartment.  I go into the office once a week to pay bills, etc., and then I scoot home and don't reappear until the following Friday.  So I was thrilled when I got home and knew I was not going out in the 90 degree heat again!  And then I got the text from Sara, that not only is Judy out, due to her brother's death, but now Vickie, who works Sea Trader, is in the hospital for a few days, so I've been called in to work 3 days in Sea Trader (ugh)!  I'm ready since I kitted up a couple of quick stitches when I thought I was going to go on the schedule last week, because of Judy's time off, but was so thrilled then when I got the news that Sara was able to work around that I stitched those two projects already, but Vickie in the hospital has put me back on the schedule, so I'll have to kit up something before I go.   I won't complain since the girls have managed to keep me out of their hair, and off the schedule, since the Betsy Morgan class.  (I'm really not sure if keeping me home is a gift to me or a gift to them...but I don't care I love it.) Anyway, I'm back in action.  On the stitching front, I am still working on the Shores of Hawk Run Hollow (I know that's a shocker)....since it's the weekend, but this past week I was able to complete two new pieces for the shop.  First up..."Needle and Thread"  from Heart in Hand.  This was designed to rest in their Heartware bowls, but of course, I decided to stitch it over one and then finish it on the top of the metal boxes, which have become my obsession, since I did the first one.  Now I'm trying to do one monthly...and I really love finding the right pattern to stitch and who doesn't love an easy finish.   I love the hunt of finding the ribbon, or in this case, twill tape to wrap the box and then a charm or button to attach.  I have fun going through my boxes of "stuff" and discovering what I feel will be the perfect piece.   I used the color fabric they recommend, only changed from 32 to 28 ct. in order to fit better on the box,  and used the fibers recommended, although I did change out the red fiber which was CC Barn Red and used WDW Louisiana Hot Sauce as it showed up better, for me.  I stitched first with the Barn Red, but my skein matched in darkness to the green at the top of the tomato that you could barely distinquish where the leaves left off and the red started, so I switched to a brighter red.  I used the tiny rick rack from Lady Dot and wrapped the box with Lady Dot Vintage Ruler Twill Tape.  Then I glued a silver spool on the front cover where the two ends of the ribbon come together. Perfect gift for a stitcher when stuffed with needles, pins, thimble, small pair of scissors, spool of thread, etc.  Then after emptying it the stitcher can use it as an ort collector.  Total time from start to finish-3 days tops....others have taken 2 days, so it's a quick stitch and easy finish.  (Secret Santa gifts)

Then, of course, since August hits next week I spent a couple of days getting my Year of Celebration-August from Hands on Design done.  8 months down, I can say without a doubt I will be stitching all 12 months.  I really enjoy these fast stitches and again, trying to figure out how I can add a little something to make it pop.  I stitched on 32 ct. PTP Pampas linen.  The green is so pretty and the overdyed look was perfect for August and the fibers really worked well with the linen.  I did use the colors shown, however (and you knew there was going to be a however) I did use black beads for the ant's body.  I stitched the legs as shown, but then attached 3 beads for the body.  Not a big difference, but they do now pop off the linen just a little bit more.  I also used WDW s Collard wool as the backing to compliment the green linen.  Such fun and again a 2 or 3 day project.  
So now I'll spend a couple of days on Shores of Hawk Run before I find the next project to start, although I've been eyeing up the Halloween banners from Hands on Design, I've got the Sampler Santa started, Blackberry Snowman is 3/4 done, and I'm thinking about Erica Michael's stitching strawberry.  Choices, too many, not enough time.  Then Sara asked if I could help one of the designers out by stitching a piece which I would then return to the designer and she's assemble it for a class here.  Since this has to be done first, I will be doing that first as soon as Sara has the Gloriana for it.  Apparently Sara is still mulling it over...ugh...I need it ASAP or I'll panic.  In any case I can't reveal that so I'll just mention it in passing.   Anyway, my plate is full so how's your stitching coming along?  Hope you are getting something done....I'll keep you posted on my to you soon.  Have a great week!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sara sent me a text 2 days ago alerting me to the possibility I was going back on the schedule as one of our employees has to have some time off for a family issue.  I really don't mind because I haven't worked since the Betsy Morgan class in June and have enjoyed my privilege of staying home and stitching all day and night, with the exception of 3 hours in the afternoon when my Izi comes over to visit and play games.  I'm so glad he's taking a break from the You Tube video's with Dan playing games...I kept falling asleep during those things and kept trying to get Izi to play a game.  Since they are tech games he wins every time without even trying.  But it does keep me awake.  As for my stitching....well I'm still in the sailing ship hell I've been in for 2 months...yes 2 months and I'm still here.  Of course I only work on it a couple of days per month so that could have something to do with the lack of progress, but  I'm working on it today and I've got 3 smaller sails left to do and then I'm done with the sails.  I'm hoping to get them done today and hope to never see a sailboat again.  I got the threads and linen ready to go on Year of Celebration-August...can't believe I'm still stitching this series as I don't think I've eve gotten through an entire series before, so I'm excited.  And Brenda Gervais just posted her next releases which include the next Holiday Hoopla...we know I'm going to do that.  But she posted sever
al more projects and I think I'm going to end up stitching all of them.  One of them on 20 ct. over 2, "Gone Batty"

(I've already done the other 2 in the series so I think Sara may talk me into doing latest release for Halloween  Over a year ago, Stasi Buhrman gave me a frame with chicken wire in it  and said  "I'm curious to see what you can do with this frame."  I've had a few charts in the crosshairs but never committed and I think it was my inner self telling me to wait, because the perfect piece was coming.
I think "Hickety Pickety" will be perfect so I'm sure this is also going in my todo bag.  
And the next one which I dearly love as well is 
"Boo to You", I just love a pumpkin head character.  Don't know what I'm doing with it, but I'm doing it.  So cute!  And the final release I'm also probably going to do is "L. Genders~1875"  I love a roll up and I like alphabets, so this is a marriage made in heaven, don't you think.  
Anyway, they aren't in the shop yet but coming soon, so in the meantime, I have plenty to keep me busy until they arrive.  I know we are dealing with extreme heat, so stay in the a/c and get your stitch on. 
 UPDATE: Sara called to say she got the shifts covered so once again I'm not working this week, and I got the sails done last night.  The block isn't done obviously, but at least the sails themselves are.    But before I sign off I wanted to let you see my progress on Shores of Hawk Run and the Sampler Santa which I work on a little every week...
I'm really embarrassed at my lack of progress on Shores of Hawk Run (remember I started this years ago and put it away, pulled it out in June and I've done nothing but work on the sailing ship block which hopefully I'll finish this weekend-but at least the sails are done.)  This is the challenge piece which I have to show progress on by October or have to pay Jan $25.00.  

 This is the Sampler Santa which is being stitched on 20 ct. linen over 2 so he's going to be a big one.  I'm more excited about this, but forcing myself to stitch a couple of days on Shores before I can go back to this one.  But a couple of days next week and then I have to take a break to get August Year of celebration done.  My, My, my days are filled with stitching.  
Have a great weekend, and I hope your days may be filled with stitching as well.  Stay cool and hydrated.  Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Up to my old tricks...

Went into the office to do bill paying, and of course, I slipped over to the shop for supplies for my santa...he is eating up the pearl cottons like crazy, but his potential is going to be amazing (hopefully).  I went online to order his beard material...hopefully it will be usable when it arrives, but since I haven't worked with it before not sure what I've gotten myself in for.  But the vision in my head is amazing(and we all know that often that vision isn't quite realized- but at the beginning stages I'm always feeling confident).  Before I even shopped for the santa supplies though I got distracted by the new charts, particularly Erica Michaels "Stingy Jack & Friends."  I realize many of you aren't as thrilled with Halloween stitching as I am, so you may not find this as exciting, but right now this is high on my list of things I've got to do.  (it would be very helpful if my vision and my reality would meet up and fight it out, because my vision picks out too many things my reality can't get done.)  Anyway, after working on my challenge piece for 3 days (and I'm still not off the ship...WTH is the matter with me?), I decided to pick out a quick stitch just so I don't get too depressed without having a finish this week.  I know I talked about August's theme models before, but I got hung up on an October piece and decided to just stitch it.  My vision here was to stitch it exactly as shown....

My first stop in getting this done was to go to the shop, as I had very specific ideas of what to use.  While Heart in Hand used 32 ct. Vintage Autumn Field linen,  I wanted to use Winter Brew which is a white with grey, perfect for an all black project.  I picked up the black scalloped metal tray,  which I had envisioned using with this design but that's where the first turn in my thinking happened.  I was looking through the fabric cuts bin and found a gorgeous PTP overdyed green fabric, so I picked that up along with various other fabrics in the white or off white family.  I never did look for Winter Brew because I was being overwhelmed with color choices.  The 32 ct. is perfect for the metal tray I picked out so I started the project.  I did well, things were going smoothly, but I began to have stinking thinking about the color.  First instead of going with white or off white,( remember my vision) I kept going back to the green from PTP, Pampas.  So I finally decided that this design would work in a different way with the fabric so I stopped obsessing and started stitching.   After stitching the 2nd row of the alphabet my mind started wandering...never a good thing, and that's when I hit upon the idea of adding color in on the vine, including the leaves and flower buds.  The entire time I'm remembering how much I loved the piece just done with black, but I couldn't help myself and pulled out WDW Tobacco Road, vines, Moss, leaves, then of course I had to color the pumpkin and chose Persimmon for the pumpkin.  After stitching the flowers on the vine with carrot (originally had that out for a possible pumpkin color and was to lazy to look for any other color),  but in the end I took them out and restitched with CC Ye Old Gold.  And of course, I stitched the Smyrna Crosses and decided without stitching the entire thing in black, I needed to rethink those and decided to stitch the leaves in their place.    This was a fun stitch and while I should have finished it in a couple of days, I kept getting distracted by the changes I kept making.  Here is the end result....the tray comes in many colors and the bottom is 5" x 5" so there are a lot of designs for that size and this is the perfect stitching accessory especially if you take the time to stitch and finish a little fob, a needlebook and a pincushion.  But I did use it as a stitching tray holding the supplies for the piece itself.  Anyway, now I'm back to the Santa and the Shores of Hawk Run Hollow (I'm going to finish that ship if it kills me.)

While Jen and I have changed the challenge end date to 2020, we do have to show progress so my challenge now is I have to have the first 2 rows completely done before Jamboree.  And now if I do not, I'm paying Jen the $25.00.  I'm hoping that thought will kick my cheap side into gear.  (but I can't promise that...this is the year I may have to pay.)  Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  It's hotter than hell down here, but I noticed that it's hotter almost everywhere else.  Thank God we are living so close (any closer and we'd be in it) to the Atlantic Ocean.  Of course when northeasters are coming or hurricanes are in the forecast I sometimes wonder about moving inland, but at this point I'm here for life.  I've ridden everyone of them out here so don't see myself leaving for any reason.  Have a great weekend and I'll try to give you an update on my santa.  So much fun!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

I didn't make the deadline, however, I did finish...

"Suffrage Act" from Little House Needleworks is now history as I completed it early this morning.  It certainly took longer than I had hoped and I ran into a glitch or two, of my own making, but now my patriotic stitching is complete for July so I shall now move on to other things.  I'm thinking August should be about beach, ocean, mermaids, but then I've got everything ready to do the stand up Santa so I'm torn, to say nothing of working on my challenge piece and Blackberry's snowman.  Oh, mercy, I'm not sure in which direction I should to go.  But today it's about the finish work to be done on Suffrage Act and cleaning up and putting away fibers, etc. that are all over the place.  I suppose I should tell you my glitches on the piece, don't want you thinking it was a problem with the piece, chart or anything else which was somebody else's fault.  No, I'm afraid everything that went south was my fault (hurts to even adfmit it).  First, I had a fresh skein of each floss but after starting it I was afraid I would need more of the CC Cherry Cobbler and Black Coffee.  However, apparently Cherry Cobbler has been on backorder for a while so we didn't even have any in the shop (I had the one skein of each in my stash).  I thought perhaps if I actually stitched with half cross I could manage to eek out what I had, however, as I stitched the lettering I knew it wouldn't last so I started searching for matches in Weeks Dye Works. (I'm a stitcher who works from right to left so that the back of my pieces are fully covered with floss.  It gives it a little padding and puffs out the stitching, but it uses twice the amount of floss.)  I did find a good match for Cherry Cobbler with WDW and used it for the brick work at the bottom of the piece, but Black Coffee was another thing and since I had stitched the first word before I came to the conclusion that I'd have to use another skein, I had to have Black Coffee.  I went in to do office work on Friday and there were 12 skeins of Black Coffee, but still not Cherry Cobbler.  So Friday night and Saturday my mission was to complete the project, which I did.  Incidently I had 3 strands of the Black Coffee left from the last 18" cut I had, so the one skein was enough.  Now I got out the frame which I had ordered and was delivered to me the same day, and it turned out to be a little big.  Needless to say I was cursing West Side Frames until I went back and looked at the test I sent them with the measurements and after measuring it found that they had cut to the dimensions I had given them (I hate when that happens) so I ended up cursing out myself.  So today it's all about figuring out how to salvage this.  While West Side Frames offered to cut a new size for me, I'm determined to make lemonade out of this lemon.  I love the frame as it is perfect for patriotic pieces.
I tried a couple of different matting options and decided the hell with it, using the frame as is and I still love the piece.  Now I'm ready to move on to August stitching, whatever that may be.  We had a fabulous 4th here.  Sara loves to do a 4th of July dinner for all the employees and she did a fabulous job, fried chicken, potato salad, broccoli/cauliflower salad, and rum cake for desert (not sure that was typical picnic food but it was typical of Sara and it was delicious)...I hope you and your family had a great celebration and you were able to stitch a little bit before returning to work.   Have a great week, and I'll be talking to you.