Monday, February 22, 2016

What a beautiful day we're having in Ocean City.  The past weekend gave us just a hint of spring with temperatures going up to 60 degrees and while it is colder today, in the 40's, the sun is shining, the water is a little choppy but glistening and when you go outside you don't really need a coat...lovely.  Inside, we are getting ready for our annual trip to Nashville.  Usually my Nashville prep starts at 10 p.m. the night before we leave.  Then I start doing laundry, etc. and work until about 4 a.m, and exhausted before we even get in the car.  But this year I've decided to act like an adult and do the prep work early.  Of course the first thing I think about is what am I going to take stitch wise.  Sara came over to me this morning and asked if I wanted to take the supplies for the Quaker Box (I called it a mini tote) from Mani di Donna as it is being released in Nashville and I usually find something Friday from one of the designers that I work on and finish before we leave Nashville.  Last year it was a Shepherd's Bush project.  Of course I said yes, so it is now safely in my Nashville bag along with the perpetually worked on in bits and pieces, "Autumn Logs" from Needle Delights Originals.  It's a canvas work piece which Sara started a couple of years ago.  She never took it upstairs so it sat here with the smallest block worked and 95% unfinished, since she hasn't touched it since she did the center block.  I love many of the canvas work pieces, however, I always tend to pick blues or greens and Sara picks everything but.  So while the colors aren't what I would have chosen, one day while sitting in the shop I got bored because whatever I was stitching was completed and I didn't want to start a whole new project just then.  And then I spied the canvas work piece and decided Sara was never going to finish it so I took it on.  It's like doing decorative stitches on a log cabin quilt block, only instead of fabric it's a canvas.  Certainly takes me back to my crewel and needlepoint days.  I've always loved the variety of stitches available, and each leg of this is a different needlepoint stitch, so interesting.  When I first started working on it I was able to complete rows on all four sides quickly...however, as the block is being worked each side takes longer to complete as it grows in size,  so now I don't get 4 sides done each day at work so I've now put it down and just work on my counted work.  But I've decided it would make a great car now it's my mission to work on this while in the car (Sara doesn't think I'll get it done because I fall asleep too much).  I usually do a large count project on the way down and another on the way back, so I'm hoping I stay awake long enough coming and going to get this done.  Fingers crossed!!!!  But I don't let that stop me from taking a few other projects, just in case.  I'm going to limit myself on how much I take because we are busy a lot of the time in Nashville, and I do have to work on my pre-stitching as well.  Sara always takes about 15 projects with her and she has less time to work on them than I do, but I usually take approx. 6 projects if that many.  Because reading is important to me and I try to read a few books while I'm gone.  One on the ride down and one on the ride back, in fact I don't know how I fit sleeping into this schedule.  But somehow I do.  When I told Sara I was starting to pack so I didn't have to do anything the night before the only thing she mentioned was the Cheesecake Factory gift cards.  Food is a major issue for us when on trips.  In fact the market is just something to do between breakfast and dinner I think.  Oh, I'm so excited...Cheesecake and needlework... this is my happy place.  I've picked a Brenda Gervais patriotic piece to stitch on 20 ct. over 2 and spent the greater part of today pulling threads and trying to match them with Weeks perle cottons.  Sometimes it is just easier to do the pattern as shown, but what's the challenge in that I ask?  Judy stopped by yesterday and brought us a bucket of Fisher's caramel corn, still hot from the kettle.  She thought we left for Nashville tomorrow and wanted us to have a snack....the caramel corn is calling my name but I'm refusing to open this bucket....I'm actually going to leave it in the shop this week so I'm not tempted to open it....although I could open it, eat it and then pick up a new bucket and just tell Sara it's the same one Judy left with us.  God the choices I have to make. I must remain strong!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Having a great time stitching old and new.....

At the moment I'm in pre-stitch hell, but I've managed to knock out a few new pieces for the shop.  I've designated Mon-Thurs as pre-stitch nights, but Friday-Sunday it's a free for all, as I can pick anything I like to stitch.  So this week I pulled "Black Flowers Sewing Box" by Mani di Donna out of my UFO tote, to finish the stitching and then put it together.  I had stitched the front of the design  already but wasn't really happy as it seemed crowded.  So I pulled it all out and started over.  It's stitched on 30 ct. Straw by Weeks and I stitched it using 1 strand of NPI 933,  instead of the 2 strands which I used in the beginning.  The look is now perfect.  In one of the pictures the fabric looks white but it's actually the color of the box in the second picture that's true.  The fact that they call it a box is a bit misleading, as it's more of a mini-tote for stitching supplies.  So cute it finishes to approx. 3-3.5" round.  While I find finishing projects to be daunting, once I sat down and started this I found it went together easier than expected.  I learned a lot and found areas I needed to improve on, but since it was a first for me I think it's alright for a first time.  Can't believe I've never actually made a box before.  When I first started stitching this in the summer I really thought I'd try to find a papier mache box to just wrap the design around and call it a day.  The handle was a bit perplexing because I would need to find something close to the original size so that the handle, which is included with the chart, would fit well.  But last week as I silently moaned about it I decided to buck up and just do it.  And I'm so glad I did.  Of course, as I'm preparing the skirtex and it's creasing in spots I was wishing I had mylar as a replacement for it so it would be rounded, but after all was said and done, it looks close enough to round, however, Sara had just ordered mylar for a project she has so she gave me a piece and so next mini tote (and there will be a next) I'll be replacing the skirtex with mylar.  I also should have trimmed my center piece because after getting everything in place glued, it did make it appear a little bit oval towards the center...but again, live and learn.  I was so concentrated on the attachment of the handle I couldn't see anything else.  I had read earlier how someone felt the handle was attached and too floppy so to handle that problem I used mat board to make the center piece, using the handle as a guide, used an awl to make holes in the fabric covered mat board to match the holes in the handle and stitched the handle going through the holes I made.  It really holds tight so the handle is held tight to the center divider and doesn't flop at all.  Anyway, it was fun to do and I can't wait to do another.  She has designed a Quaker mini tote which is coming out in Nashville, so I'm really excited to get one of those going.  Maybe I'll even start it in Nashville....oh, the excitement mounts.  The second finish was my Debbie Liming challenge piece from Superbowl weekend.  I jokingly said (always gets me into trouble), "I'm telling you this is a one night project, start to finish."  I think perhaps Debbie is sick of me saying how some of these projects are one night finishes so she said, "Well then I can expect to see that finished tomorrow."  Sometimes I should just shut up!  But needless to say I wasn't about to return to the shop Sunday without this project done start to finish.  Thank God I'd just finished "Merry Santa" and "Madam Cottontail" both of which are pockets as well so I knew there was no learning curve to conquer.  I have also been using my machine a lot more so that is getting easier as well.  So as soon as I got home from work I started.  Stitching was easy to finish, a few hours and then the work began for me.  First I couldn't use the fabric included with the chart because of my problem with everything having to be even.  Lizzie Kate has designed these pockets to have an edging of fabric on the front but it doesn't continue to the back (since the back is the same fabric as the edging on the front).  That makes it uneven for me so I have to have the same edging of fabric on both front and back, even though the back is the fabric.  (just be glad you don't have the same issue I have because it drives you crazier).  Anyway, I felt I had the perfect fabric , thanks to my never ending fabric hoarding, and I did.  The colors were perfect so I got to cutting and sewing.  I just closed my eyes for a minute and next thing I knew it was 5:30 the race was on.  I managed to get it done so I could show Debbie it truly was a one night project, but next time I'm going to say 2 days project just to save myself.  But honestly, if you started the stitching in the morning, you would get it done by bedtime, including the finishing. (Apparently I just can't help myself).  Anyway, after bringing it,  in I then obsessed over finding a little rabbit to put it in as an  Easter present.  You could use candy, a little gift, whatever, and give it to a grandchild, or your child.  Then I said, "Sara, if you were having Easter dinner and invited family over you could put the place settings in the little pocket and sit one at each place.  Yes, she just looked at me, rolled her eyes, and walked over to the other shop.  Sometimes I just need to know when to stop!

Friday, February 12, 2016

With the Superbowl behind us we are marching on toward Nashville Market...

  Wanted to show you a couple of finishes using some of the wooden products we carry.  Stitchers are always trying to figure out what to put on them.  I've taken a couple of designs, broken them apart and used sections of them on the little trays and the wooden box with the drawer.  The one shown is taken from Drawn Thread's "Pastoral Sampler."  The chart comes 2 ways, one as a sampler and the second way is a pocket.  Stitching these two pieces inspired me to go back and stitch the pocket as well.  But I digress, getting back to the tray and the drawer...these two pieces make wonderful additions to your favorite stitching spot as you can keep extra needles and a small pair of scissors in the drawer and you can keep your fibers, etc., on the tray.  With the box piece I made a mattress pincushion for the top.  I adhered felt on the top of the box and then used double stick tape to attach the stitching to the felt.  Around the sides of the pin cushion I stitched a name, the date, etc.  I also used the felt in the bottom of the tray and let it run up the side a tad so it looks like rick rack.  I also used part of a bee design from Prairie Schooler and did a set for a friend.  It is such fun to make designs work for something other than what is shown on the leaflet.  Last weekend was our annual Superbowl Sale and we had a lot of fun with the stitchers who spent the weekend with us.  The Pennsylvania group arrived on Thursday, the Delaware group on Friday and our local stitchers on Friday...and the games commenced.  So many brought show and tell...and that just gets me craving to stitch up a storm.  Debbie Liming challenged me to finish the new Lizzie Kate pocket over night and you just know I had to do it.  So I'll show you that tomorrow...I forgot to bring it back in.  (I needed to re-iron it so I took it back home where it sat all week and I never touched it.  In my defense I had Michael while Sara and Vernon went to Baltimore for Vernon's surgery)   We do want to thank everyone who mparticipated in the event....and now we're moving on to Nashville Market.  The previews look good and I look forward to seeing a great deal of new and interesting designs.  Got to to you later.