Calling Mission Control…

Jeff, Jojo, Taz, and I have revised our “Mission.” Originally we were going to travel all over the US and maybe Canada, “boon-docking” where we could utilize our solar panels to provide the juice for whatever propane couldn’t energize—things like putting out the slide to give us living space and what few lights we might need beyond our lantern.  The fridge and hot water can be run on propane.  So anywhere we could be a defined distance from the road (per National Forest regs) we could just park and play.

For me, play was to visit needlework shops in the areas we traveled.  By talking with the owners/managers I would come up with favorite threads, colors, and stitches of the owners.  Using that input I would design a sampler.  Describing that process was the original Mission of this blog.

Well, shit things happen, times change gas prices skyrocket, and Wal-Mart the economy pushes lots of small shop owners out of business!

We are into plan Z-19.

And this blog is all over the place, but not where it started out.

Map of Baldwin County

The yellow dot is where we are camped in Senate District 32 of Alabama

I can’t really tell you what we’re doing outside of sitting in Alabama where the weather is great and the rent and utilities are real low.   We know we’ll be here for a year unless a hurricane  forces us to evacuate.  We will re-evaluate our plans a year from now as to whether we head back north or stay another year.

Unfortunately, there are no local needlework stores outside of the chains and I am back to my old faithful internet stores.  I really miss the joy and inspiration that comes from walking into a shop and seeing all the geegaws and whatsits.   And picking up the patterns and books, reading a bit before I create my priority list.  But that’s neither here nor there in terms of a Mission Statement or description.

When I look back upon the past several years, most of my posts fall more under the subtitle of this blog—”And Other Stitching Challenges.”  Completing the “Shop Sampler” is going to be an incredible challenge, one that may need to go to the bottom of the “To Do” list.

But I’m wondering.  If the Mission changes and the Shop Sampler is not the focus, should the title of the blog and mission statement be different?

I think not.  I think I may need to reconsider how I gather the Shop information.  I’m thinking that I may enlist readers to help me.  And I’m thinking I may create a challenge to make it work.  Maybe something like this:

  • I write a formal challenge asking for the shop name, the shop web and/or email address, the shop owner/manager’s favorite thread and color and the favored stitch using that thread and color.
  • Readers email me or make a comment on the formal challenge post with the requested info.
  • I add each submission to a page under the Sampler Shops button (at the top of the page) after I send a note to each Shop so they can check out the link.
  • Once a month I choose one submission randomly.  That poster will receive a token of my appreciation…maybe a small, a tool, a bit of fabric…nothing major, just a token.
  • Start all over again the next month.

Sewing basket

So…that’s what I’m thinking.  What do you think?

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July 2013 TUSAL

For those who don’t remember reading about this before, TUSAL stands for Totally Useless Stitch Along.  For me it is a way to mark time.  Another way to examine my progress, or lack thereof, in my stitching.  Once a month, more or less, those of us participating share images of our ort collection jars.

I collect my orts in my folding ort box and then transfer them to my jar according to the TUSAL calendar.  As you can see, I’ve been frogging!  But I must admit that some of the orts are from sewing two pair of shorts and a summer shirt.

Since we decided to stay in Alabama for the summer, I found my wardrobe was sorely lacking for temperatures that stay above 90 constantly.  I have fabric to make another pair of shorts and three slip style dresses.  I don’t love making clothes, but I appreciate Home Economics in Junior High School where I picked up the skill to be able to do this for myself.

I am typing on someone else’s computer with a baby keyboard as my monitor died.  That’s why I’ve been MIA.  But I’ve also been participating on a couple of mystery SALs.  Two have ended, even though I’m still stitching on one.  And a third started on July 1.  I will start Camille as soon as I finish B. Blok.  Check out the links for the patterns.  And next time I’ll share my photos!

These are all lovely patterns, fast and satisfying to finish.  I hope you enjoy them!

Ode to European Reproduction Samplers: Preparing for Papa

About six months ago I opened my big mouth and said, “Papa will be my birthday present to myself.  I will start Papa by then or on my birthday.”  Well my birthday is in just a couple days.  And I’ve been getting ready!

I purchased Papa probably four years ago when I discovered Sabine Taterra-Gundacker’s  website “Alte-Mustertücher-nachgestickt.”  Since then I have spent hours and hours looking at the patterns and at the gallery of Sabine’s works and collection.  I personally think everyone who stitches should have one of Sabine’s patterns in his or her repertoire.  Personally, I want them all!

Where do the ideas for these patterns come from?  Sabine finds interesting samplers in museums and in private collections.  She then sets to recreating the original works, documenting threads she uses, trying to match to the original as much as possible.  She includes the errors as well as the beauty and the history, counting every old thread.  I have come to respect her skill even more having been working on the Martha Stones Sampler.  I struggle with “do I correct the spelling or leave it as is?”  I’m leaving it.

Another of my favorites is Erna Schuppelius.  I love how Sabine’s photos included the finishing done on this piece and plan to add the crochet border and ribbon trim to mine.  The alphabet is charming and I will use it in work that I may design myself or for personalizing other works because I love it so.

I have learned so much about samplers from perusing Sabine’s online shop.  And I have come to love samplers from a variety of cultures and can even now begin to identify origins when seeing an unlabeled sampler.  I have several other patterns in queue from Sabine and another that I have started that is purely a labor of love.  (IFAKHS 1817)

Before I seek your input on my color choices for Papa, let me show you how Sabine packages her products for you.  It’s like getting a birthday present in the mail when you open it.

Now here is my dilemma.  I have the fabric it’s a 32ct Wexford linen in blue with grey and charcoal markings.  You’ll see it in the photo gallery following.  I had chosen Threadworx Deep Blue Sea to outline the “pages” of the pattern and Crescent Colours Lobster Claw to do the pattern design using the Threadworx for any accents.

I’ve been testing the Lobster Claw against the fabric in a blackwork SAL.  It’s not bad.  The problem is Jeff hates orange.  It’s not absolutely important that I avoid orange, but I do think he is more likely to help me frame and hang it, it the colors are pleasing to him, too!  And I don’t want to give this one away.  After all it’s a birthday present to me!

Jeff like brown.  He love the colors in my Quaker Virtues.  He has suggested a reddish brown, not too red.  I found a currant color that he likes.  I like it too.  But how will it look on the fabric?  I don’t want to have to wait to get the thread.  That means I’d have to start after my birthday has passed.  And then there is the question of what color should I use for the outlining?  I think the darker blue will be too much dark.  I thought about using the Lobster Claw.  But I don’t know.

What do you think?  Check these pics out and let me know what you think.

Stitching Busy

It’s that time again.  Time to assess where I’m at in my stitching life for WIPocalypse.  Time to share my Vierlanden progress with Dijn and the other SAL members.  Not to mention Quaker Virtues SAL progress and Cirque des Cœurs SAL progress.

I’m glad to say I have made progress!  I have even added a couple more SALs to my list (this one, and this one too), one another small blackwork SAL.  It feels good!

I think rather than describe my process in all the projects I think I’ll just post the pics .  You can always do before and after comparisons by searching for the appropriate names using the internal search.

As always feedback is more than welcome, so bring it on!

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P.S.  Jeff, Taz, and Jojo went for a walk on Mother’s  Day and came back with the flowers in the feature image.  They grow wild around us!  Mother’s Day is now also called Big Puppy’s Day!

A Small Finish

Yup.  I finished something.  Kind of.  Claire was leading a small blackwork/cross stitch SAL.  I found out about it two weeks or more into the SAL, but joined anyway.  I am, after all, a Sensational Serial Starter!

I wanted to try out some threads I finally recently got from Needleworker’s Delights.  I won’t link to ND as I do not recommend them.  I also don’t recommend the threads.  At least not the ones I chose.  I got three weights of Jar Designs Overdyed cottons in the spiced ginger color.  I was not happy with the stranded floss.  I used the lightest and darkest of the color for my little block.  There was so little variation as to be non-existent.

Not trusting my own eyes, I asked Jeff which stitches where the darkest and which the lightest.  He couldn’t tell and thought I was using the same thread throughout.  In the photo there does seem to be some variability.  Maybe my eyes aren’t as good as the camera!

Anyway.  I picked 3371, 355, and 356—all by good ol’ faithful DMC to finish the Seba freebie from Cyberstitch.Com called Square Magic of Colors.  I am satisfied with the finished piece.

Claire93 SAL project

Seba Freebie stitched

To have a Finish (versus finish),  I thought I would stitch a reverse color version and use the two for a biscornu.  Then I thought I might find a nice complementary fabric and have a fabric backed biscornu.  Now, I’m thinking fabric backed pinkeep.

Here are some of the fabrics I was thinking about:

Three fabrics from Keepsake Quilting and three from Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Which of these do you think goes best with the Square?

Clockwise from top left the fabrics are:

  1. Keepsake Quilting Gold, Not Necessarily Christmas
  2. Keepsake Quilting Pebbles, Water Lilies
  3. Keepsake Quilting Petals Tango Punch
  4. Robert Kaufman Spot On from Ft. Worth Fabric Studio
  5. Moda Ticklish from Ft. Worth Fabric Studio
  6. Moda Honey, Honey from Fr. Worth Fabric Studio

Now that I’ve seen the piece and the fabrics on the same page, Numbers 1, 3, and 4 are out.   Which of the remaining three do you like, #2, #5, or #6?

What would you make?  Biscornu or Pinkeep?

Oh the shame…

If you are a “fiber artist” or want to be, check out the items from this destash sale! Just don’t outbid me! 😀

Under A Topaz Sky

I like to have a good spring clean every so often and yesterday I got round to my thread repository. My stored threads live in a very grand Harrods hamper, a woven 16″ cube with a faux leather top embossed with the Harrods peacock logo. It was a Christmas present several years ago – the contents were nice enough but the box itself is gorgeous!
My Harrods Thread Hamper

I have a massive weakness for threads, especially anything richly coloured or unusual and I know that there were a fair few threads in that box which I’d bought on impulse and was never going to use, so I intended to have a nice sort through and end up with a few bits I could list on eBay.

The top layer was fine. Out went a few oddments left over from a canvaswork project that I knew I’d never use again.

Thread breakdowns 1

Under that, threads I knew I had…

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Over the Hump vs. Into the Slump

Everyone knows Wednesdays are Over-the Hump Day.  We have made it to the half-way point.  It’s mostly downhill for the work week from Wednesday on.  Mondays aren’t so bad because you’ve just had a couple days off to refresh your mind and body.

By the time Tuesdays come you’ve lost that burst of energy.  And if your work involves any kind of bureaucracy, Tuesdays are often meeting days.  They really suck the life right out of you.  Mindless posturing of bureaucrats wasting the time you really need to be doing your actual work that you will now have to squeeze into shortened breaks and later departure for the rest of the week until you can crash again in preparation for the next week of meaningless  gainful employment.  But Wednesdays are a day of hope.  Only two more to go!

Januaries are the Mondays of the year.  We get so energized with the lights and love and hope that comes from that last week of celebrations in December that in January all things seem possible.  And we make plans to improve our lives and our selves.  And we mean it.  The things we plan are things we’ve been thinking about, the things we know will make us more of who we truly are.

And we do pretty well with these plans, these things we have resolved to accomplish.  But Mondays end.  Then comes along comes life-sucking Tuesday.

I’m in the Tuesday of the year.  I actually think there are two Tuesdays in the year.  August is the next one!  I’m not following my stitching schedule regularly.  I’m not logging my food.  I’m not eating right.  I’m not walking.  I’ve frogged more than I’ve stitched and I can see the totally useless nature of TUSAL!

I’m not whining.  Just speaking the truth.  But the joy of truth is that it is not constant.

I can get back on schedule.  (Or I can accept that the schedule is meant to make life easier, not lock me into deadly time-trap.)   I can start logging my food.   (Even if I have to start a new account because I can’t remember my password.)  I can be mindful of my eating in any minute.  (Without becoming the Food Gestapo.)  I can always go out and walk around the trailer and that will be more than I’m doing now.  (And the next day do it twice, then thrice, etc.)  As far as frogging goes—c’est la vie!  (My TUSAL jar really is pretty and the more orts, the more impermanence prayer flags I’ll make!)

While things look bleary it’s not the end of the world, but I do have to mention WIPocalypse as this is the Show and Tell portion of this meeting.  I have had one Finish.  So, that’s something, even though it wasn’t a UFO!

A few more orts for the jar.

I’ve done more frogging than stitching. And more to come.

Side by side monthly comparison of Ort Jar for TUSAL

Feb is on the left and March is on the right.

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Needlebook cover, pattern Ink Circles stitched in Caron Waterlilies Cranberry

Detached Buttonhole Stitch closure

I used a detached buttonhole stitch to create the closure to match the vintage button.

Needle sheath in its own place on the front inside cover.

Jeff made this leather scissor sheath as a value add for me. He’s so sweet!

Personal touches added to the needlebook.

Added a little pocket in the back for packets of needles or whatever else the end user might like. And a special place for a threader!

Center top of Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles

No more frogging!

Cirque de Coeurs by Ink Circles using Caron Black Cherry

Another view, tried to edit to get more realistic color, closer.

Cirque de Coeurs variations evident but not the richness of the Caron Black Cherry color

Unedited Cirque de Coeurs, wish you could see the real color.

Into the second page of Bygone Stitches' Quaker Virtues

Slowly making progress. I love every minute stitching on this.

Close up of Quaker Virtues

I love the colors in this piece. I done good with Shanghai Nights and Turkish Red!

I used to do this regularly, even before there was an organized event. Good time to make a comeback! I’ll be unplugged effective sundown tonight for 24 to 36 hours! How about you?

February Is The Shortest Month: HAED Stitchalong Update

It seems like I just put my Heaven and Earth Designs Stitchalong project away.  I really missed working on my other projects for the week that I worked on The Tree of Creation.  Especially Erna and Quaker Virtues.  I am so close to done working on the stitching part of Erna and stitching on Virtues is just so fun and relaxing!  A real sense of accomplishment working on them.

But The Tree of Creation?  Not so much.  This sucker is HUGE!  I know there are some that are even bigger, but this is the biggest pattern I’ve ever attempted.  She is 332 stitches by 380 stitches.  That is a total of 126,160 total stitches.  In the week that I stitched I completed 1002 stitches.  If I stitch at the same rate that means it will take about 126 weeks to complete this baby!  That’s almost 2 ½ years!

As you think about your Heaven and Earth Design projects, think also about the song from RENT called “Seasons of Love.”  If you don’t know the tune, check it out on YouTube.  Then change the lyrics to these below.  Substitute the numbers for those of your project.  All this week, we’ll be making a nice chorus about the globe!

Or sing it while you look at the photos of my work!  (below)

Ode to Heaven and Earth Designs (Tree of Creation by Cari Buziak)
(These lyrics by me!)

One hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
One hundred twenty-six thousand
Stitches so fine
One hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
How do you measure — measure your Heav’n Earth progress?

In colors – In pages
In minutes – In hours spent stitching
In skeins used –In floss yards
In frogging – In tears or years?

In one hundred twenty-six thousand
One hundred sixty stitches
How do you measure
The accomplishment of completing a piece?