Progress Reports: Peace and Stars

     I have to admit that I haven't taken another stab at those fleur-de-lis crescents on Prelude to Peace. The third week of a cold left my brain function less than optimal last week, and I really didn't want to be ripping out that Flair yet again. My partner in crime (um, Scarlet Thread) Dawn, however, in spite of being on the first (maybe beginning the second?) week of her cold has completed the crescents in the first diamond, along with a sampling of other stitches. Since we're using the same colors for this part of the design, let's pretend that this is what my piece would look like, had I made some progress. (Thanks, Dawn, for kindly allowing me to post your progress, which looks great!)

     Note the extremely long piece of Flair draped across the canvas. Dawn decided to try the suggestion of others and was successful in stitching a crescent with one length! Here's a close-up of the left diamond.

     Isn't this gorgeous! I can't wait to get going again on my piece. My cold seems to truly be on the wane, so perhaps I can get some stitching done this week.

     Sunday, the Stars for a New Millennium group met again, and I did manage to make a little bit more progress on that. I had intended to take pictures of the various stages of everyone's pieces, but by the end of the session, I had completely forgotten and was thinking only of what I was going to order at the Indian restaurant we were going to for dinner.

     The couched rust triangle gave me fits and starts, and I ended up ripping it out twice before getting it right. Having no motivation to proceed around the block on that stitch, I decided to work on the rest of the stitches for that quadrant. Mercifully, they went very well and I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I still may modify the upright lattice triangle a bit, not being satisfied with how the top layer looks. It may be a bit too light. I think I'll stitch the one lying above the rust part using more strands of the floss and see how that looks. Perhaps I'll do that tonight at my stitching group. Unless I decide to work on the SOTM.

     Decisions, decisions.



My Colors for Jim Wurth's Prelude to Peace

     So far, my progress has been negative. I finished the two diamonds in the white #5 perle coton, then ventured on to the fleur-de-lis crescents in Flair. Ha! I stitched two of them during my Tuesday night and Thursday morning stitching groups, then removed them at the same Thursday session. I haven't touched it since. Something has come up in the class discussion since then that I find very interesting. On the Flair card, we are told to use short lengths. I was astonished to hear that people were using 50- to 55-inch lengths when doing those stitches in order to complete the stitch with one length! Jim noted that the "Hilton length" (for any given thread, I assume) is generally accepted to be 36 inches. I may have to try that, since I think it was the starting and stopping of threads that got me into trouble last week.
     Stay tuned. I may have a progress photo by the end of the week.
     Now for something of interest to those who are taking the cyberclass along with me. Several people have asked me exactly what threads I'm using for my red and gray colorway. Here's the list, according to Jim's numbering system:

#3 DMC Perle Coton
1A. 317
1B. 318
1C. 415
1D. 762
1E. 3685
1F. 3687
1G. 3688
1H. 778

#5 DMC Perle Coton
2A. 317
2B. 318
2C. 415
2D. 762
2E. 3685
2F. 3687
2G. 3688
2H. 778
2I. Blanc

DMC Floche
3A. 762
3B. 415

4. Rainbow Gallery Fiesta F742 (substituted for DMC Rayon)

#8 DMC Perle Coton
5A. 415
5B. 318

#12 DMC Perle Coton
6A. 415
6B. 762 (I'm substituting DMC Floche 762 because I couldn't find the color in #12 Perle Coton. It's a 1:1 substitution.)

Kreinik #8 Braid
7A. 101
7B. 192
7C. 105C

Kreinik #4 Braid
8A. 101
8B. 192
8C. 105C

Kreinik 1/16" Ribbon
9A. 101
9B. 3231
9C. 192
9D. 105C

10. Rainbow Gallery Grandeur G930 (substituted for Kreinik Silk Serica)
11. DMC Satin Floss S5200 (substituted for Fiesta)
12. Flair F590
13. Frosty Rays Y203
14. Neon Rays N92
15. Rainbow Linen R438



Prelude to Peace

     My friend and business partner, Dawn, and I decided we needed another BAP, so we signed up for Jim Wurth's Prelude to Peace cyberclass through Shining Needle Society. The class officially started about three or four weeks ago, and true to form, I'm behind already. So what, you may ask, have I gotten accomplished so far? I'm so glad you asked.

     This is the design in its original colors of blues, browns, and neutrals. As is my wont, I felt the need to change the colors to something that would better suit my personal color palette. Jim's colors are lovely, just not to my taste. Dawn concurred, so we went on a quest to an LNS to pull his threads then find our own versions. (Yes, I know, we have our own personal warehouse in my basement where we keep the merchandise we sell on scarletthread.com, but we don't have every thread known to mankind as yet. Keep stopping by; someday we hope to.)

     After about two hours, we had most of our threads selected, with just a few we hadn't settled on. So we decided to wait till our patterns arrived to see where and how the missing threads would be used. And waited. Other participants in the class were chiming in on the group site as they received their packages in the mail. Dawn and I both spent our days watching for the mail. And watching. And waiting. (This is a recurring theme for us. We never seem to receive mutually awaited items at the same time.) Once our charts arrived in our mailboxes, it was a simple matter to select those last threads, the neutrals for the center section.

     Here's what we each came up with:

     I chose reds and grays, the actual red hue more a result of its being the only one for which I could get the requisite number of shades. I would have preferred a little less pink, but I do like this. What you don't see in this picture is the floche, which we had a little trouble finding at first but finally discovered online and then at another LNS. We opted for additional grays for the neutral colors. The thread types give the grays more variation due to texture, so I think it will work up nicely and retain the integrity of Jim's colorway. My canvas is Pewter.

     Dawn chose a brighter series of blues and went with mostly the same grays (which we decided on mutually). Her canvas is Opalescent White.

     My question for Jim will be, Peace or Pandemonium?

     I know you're wondering, just what have I done besides pick out the colors after all these weeks? I have actually put in some stitches and hope to add more today, as I suffer with an annoying cold (and oh, how I suffer! hahahahahaha). So far, I've accomplished most of the borders for the left and right center diamonds, the areas covered in our first lesson. The second lesson was posted last weekend, covering the top and bottom diamonds. With a little dedication, perhaps I can at least be farther into those two diamonds before the third lesson arrives.


     Stay tuned. If I make some progress in the next day or so, I'll be right back with proof. Btw, Dawn has made much more progress than I have but fears she may need more of the Flair before she's done.



Catching up!

     Yikes! It's been a long time since I posted. Sorry about that. It's not that I've been lolling around, resting on my laurels (well, laurel). I've been busy with the online store, also trying to destash a bit (sadly not enough) on eBay, and sometimes having a life. I have been stitching a bit as well. Anyway, without further ado, here's what I've been up to.

     The Ro Pace workshop had its good points and its, well, not-so-good points. Good: Ro's introductory lecture about how she came up with the initial design for the class piece, Memories, was fascinating, especially when it came to how she made the design look totally different by simply using different colors. What started out as Tide Pool morphed into Bed of Pansies and Rose Garden, following one modification with two colorways, then Solar Flare with another modification using just two color families. I worked on Solar Flare and attended just the first day of the workshop. My progress was small, but based on the rest of the class, about average or maybe slightly better than average. But what I did that one day was all I needed to learn in order to complete the piece, as the whole design is a tessellation based on just one segment, or cell, that's rotated to create a four-cell tile that's part of a four-tile quadrant, and so on. Here's where I got, and I've gotten no further.

     What you see is two cells, which are actually the lower right corner of the piece. I just rotated the image to be perverse and satisfy my need to work from the top left corner outward. (I really did work on it in the proper orientation, otherwise I would have been totally confused.) I quickly decided that the best way to work this would be to rotate the chart rather than the canvas, as I would have spent more time moving the canvas around on the stand than actually stitching on it. Orienting the chart and canvas are major with this piece. I'm relatively pleased with what I did, though there are a couple of things I have to rip out because I found I didn't get a stitch quite right. One, the Diamond Jessica, is a stitch that I've done many times, but I just didn't remember the ending correctly and the diagram wasn't clear on that. I've since referred to a diagram and explanation by Michael Boren and now know what to do. The other is the Waffle stitch, which I blithely did, then discovered in a subsequent comment by Ro that I had done incorrectly. However, she didn't point it out to me at the time, when she came around to check on everyone's progress. I would have appreciated a closer look by her that would have led to the correction at that time, rather than when I was long past that point. Sigh.

     You may have noticed the basted outline. That was the prework, and shows the outline of one quadrant. If you click on the picture, it should go to a larger view, where you can see the outlines of the four tiles and, within each, the outlines of the four cells. I think I'll be removing the basted outlines once I finish each tile. I find them obtrusive in the red.

     Moving along to the Stitch of the Month mystery piece, I'm working away on the October stitch, and it's still October! I'm not sure I'll finish it before the end of the month, but at least I'm in the month. I'm enjoying this, even if it is a bit repetitive. It seems to be going quickly.

     The last catch-up bits are actually only tangentially related to stitching. Each of my stitching groups is anticipating the birth of a baby. In one, the Tuesday night group, one of our regular stitchers is having her first child, Isadora Rose, in December. I attended a joyful, exuberant shower a couple of weeks ago on a beautiful fall day.

The proud parents-to-be!
Yes, that's a walker. Samantha fractured her foot!
     There were three gifts made by members of the stitching group (that I can recall): a monogram, a bib, and two delightful stuffed animals.

     I didn't get pictures of the other two gifts, but aren't these adorable?

     The Thursday group has a grandmother-to-be, so we had a shower for her grandson because she'll be outfitting a nursery in her home. We took a break during our regular stitching day for the festivities and had a blast. Joan received some lovely things, among them some hand-knitted items for Little Bit.

Me and my good buddy Joan.

     That would be the cute little stuffed Eeyore modeling the baby cap knitted by Ferol and the booties knitted by Candy. So cute!

     We do have a good time and good friends in our stitching groups.



I'm certifiable

     It's true! Not remedial anymore! I have physical proof that I no longer qualify for that moniker. Well, at least not all the time. I received my evaluation (very complimentary and gratifying) and certificate of completion for "Florentine Fancywork" at the end of last week, and that made my day. Day, year!

     So there you go. I encourage everyone to join a needlework guild of some sort. There's so much that they have to offer at little to no cost other than the membership dues, which are not excessive. Do you need more proof? How about the stitching projects available on the ANG Web site at no charge?

     Over the past week, but mostly on the weekend, I've managed to catch up on the ANG Stitch of the Month Mystery. I'm now working away on the September installment and should be able to complete it before October. Woo-hoo! How, you may ask, did I manage to get so much done in just one week or so, considering my dedication to the slow-stitching movement? Two sessions with my stitching groups and a sleepover at a stitchy friend's house that involved about 12 hours of stitching. We had a blast, especially when another friend joined us on Sunday for the 9- to 10-hour marathon of movie-watching and stitching.

     At last night's monthly Potomac Chapter ANG meeting, I continued working on the SOTM, after discovering a problem with the prework I was doing for a Ro Pace workshop I'll be attending tomorrow and Sunday. The workshop is only available to members of the chapter. I'm really looking forward to it, though with some trepidation now. I'm doing the Solar Flare colorway, but there are other colorways that give very different effects (as you scroll down the linked page, you'll see what I mean). Since this may be the only opportunity I would have to take a class with Ro Pace, I jumped at the chance. I'll let you know whether I return to my remedial state over the weekend.



Florentine Fancywork Finish!

     It's been a busy week, but I've finally got time to sit down and post a picture of the finished "Florentine Fancywork."

     Ta-da! Overall, I'm happy with the final result. As those of you who have followed my achingly slow progress with this know, there are certain bits I'm not so happy with. But as a learning experience, I'd call it very successful. I am much more confident in my grasp of bargello, enough that I feel capable of tackling a design for the small footstool. I've learned about what threads I like for bargello, and what ones I'll avoid if at all possible. They're very nice threads, but I don't like working with them on this type of needlework. That would be most stranded floss, cotton, silk, bamboo, whatever. (I left out rayon because it's a given that I would never, ever use it for anything. I'll always find something else. My experience using it on "Turnberry Ridge" confirmed that.)

     So I'm back to stitching the ANG stitch of the month mystery, working on the June installment. I've seen two that are complete through August, and they're beautiful! I can't wait to see how my colors work up.



Plugging away

     I'm still working away on "Florentine Fancywork," hoping to get it in the mail by the end of the week to meet the August 31 deadline. I'll refrain from more pictures of the endless border stitching until it's completely finished. After I send it off, I'll have a while to figure out how I want to finish it.

     Speaking of finishing, I'll be heading over to the Brit's Gallery to get a couple of things framed. One is the Panamanian mola I received for Christmas last year. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, frame it, pillowfy it, or incorporate it into something wearable. What a dilemma! I finally decided to go with framing. I think. It would make a nice pillow for my bed. Gah! (Make up your mind!)

     The other isn't needlework at all. I was doing some decluttering over the weekend and discovered the portfolio of artwork from a couple of drawing classes I took in my 30s. Buried in them was a drawing I had done of the house I grew up in, which I later redid on a larger scale for my parents. I've decided this will make a nice birthday present for my elder sister if I get it framed simply. It's got a nice "aged" look to it now. (Don't know what that blue flare is in the lower left corner. I didn't use a flash or my FisherPrice pop-up photo box, just available light.)

     To get back to stitchy things, here are some pics I and Donna took at last Thursday's stitching group. I'm pretty sure I've talked about this group before, but I don't think I've ever introduced any of the Thursday Morning Irregulars, AKA Midtown Stitchers. We have way too much fun. There must be something illegal about the whole thing. This is only a segment of the group. We're missing one member who's been in Australia for months and won't return till November, one who's been in Greece for a while and is returning in September, as well as some others who've been absent for much of the summer because, well, it's summer.

Joan and Donna
Karla, Taryn, and Ellice
Bonnie and me

     So there you have us, previously the wild stitchers of Scarlet Thread. The shop may be closed but the ties remain. Both the Tuesday night group and this morning group found new places where they could meet regularly by the time the shop closed its doors for the last time in June of last year. I still miss it.



Getting antsy

     My legs are beginning to twitch in anticipation. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All my trials, Lord, soon be over.

     Sorry. Somehow I always seem to get around to breaking into song. (Just ask the Thursday morning stitching group.) I know you can't hear me. Trust me. Joan Baez I'm not. The sentiment's not quite the same either. My trial is, as if you haven't guessed, "Florentine Fancywork." I'm back to the border once again, having finished up the main design area earlier this week. Hallelujah!

     At the stitching group last night, I finished the purple on the right and started moving left along the bottom. Then I had to stop due to ennui. I'm sure that if I hadn't had to rip the border out and restitch it more than once, I wouldn't feel this way. I just don't recommend stitching it more than once and a half.

     I zoomed in (somewhat) on the main elements so you can get a better idea of the thread textures and the (also somewhat) uneven quality of my stitching.

     I still have the backstitching to do after the border is completed, so I'm hopeful that some of the canvas that shows will get covered by that. Some, however, will remain, and I'm not happy about it. I don't think I'll use Splendor for bargello ever again. If I want silk, I'll try Vineyard Silk. I realize the texture is different, but I like working with Vineyard Silk on canvas better than with Splendor.

     When it comes to stranded floss and bargello, I think I would use at least one or two more strands if I had no other thread that would work with the design. Four strands just doesn't satisfy my filling standards. I don't really like the added difficulty of threading the needle and tugging it through the canvas, though, so I'll try to avoid it at all costs.

     Why am I going on so about what type of thread to use for bargello? Well, I'm planning to design a couple of things. Originally, it was a small footstool and Victorian side chair. Then I received my mother's art deco dressing table and chair and decided the chair seat would be lovely in an art deco bargello! I mean, how hard can it be? It's only HUGE. So I'll start with the little footstool to see just how hard. Both of these items, though, require threads that will withstand wear. I use the little footstool when I'm stitching, and I do use the dressing table chair. So a delicate thread won't do. I'm not fond of wool and am allergic to it to boot, so I'm not likely to try to stitch a sizable piece in it. What a dilemma. I'm leaning toward the Vineyard Silk, which means it will be a priceless treasure if I ever get it done.

     Stay tuned.

     Suggestions welcomed.



Okay, July's gone.

     Another month has flown by, and I'm still working on "Florentine Fancywork." I'm well into the next to the last area to be stitched before it's back to the border and the final backstitching.

     The area I've been working on is called "Little Hearts," and it's turning out quite pretty. This is a pattern I've been able to get into a rhythm on, so it's actually going quickly. I just haven't had much time for stitching.I like the alternating threads: Overture, Kreinik, Mandarin, and Neon Rays. Now that I look at a close-up, I see that I missed a small bit of green at the top and have some compensating still to do next to the startburst. Sigh.

     I've gotten an extension to the end of August, and I will finish on time!

     My work on "Stars for a New Millennium" is painfully slow. At the last meeting, at the end of July, I made very little progress, despite stitching for the entire time.

     At this rate, I'll still be working on this through 2011 and into 2012.



Florentine Fancywork Gets Fancier

     I didn't get as much done last week as I wanted to, but I did make good progress.

     I had hoped to get the Wheels section finished by the end of the week, but a small mishap while slicing potatoes with my mandoline slowed me down a bit. You know that big thing you're supposed to use to push the food that you're slicing so that you don't accidentally slice a piece of you? Well, I find it really awkward and prefer to just be really careful. Evidently I wasn't careful enough and managed to slice a teensy bit off my thumb. Not that bad, but of course it needed a bandaid, which made stitching a little more difficult for a couple of days. I have recovered fully (though you can see where I lost a sliver of skin) and managed to finish the section at the stitching group last night. No picture yet, so the one above will have to suffice for now.

     I discovered that I misspoke last time about the pale yellow thread. It's not Mandarin but Splendor. It seems the lighter colors may be fluffier or thicker because the coverage is much better than with the darker ones. At least when it comes to purple.

     I'm going to ask for an extension on the deadline, maybe to mid-August, so I can finish the piece and send it off for an evaluation. I ought to be able to finish the last two areas and the rest of the border by then, right? I mean, how hard can it be?



Cruising Along

     I've been remiss. I fully intended to post this at the end of last week. Really I did. Anyway.

     "Florentine Fancywork" has become a real pleasure to stitch now. I'm still not happy with the way the Splendor looks, but I've decided to just ignore it. Maybe it will improve once I put in all the backstitching at the end. Did I just say that? Backstitching? Gah! Backstitching is one of my least favorite things to do. Beading is worse, but backstitching runs a close second. Herewith, my progress as of last Friday.

     I wish you could see how the Krienik sparkles, but it just gets lost when I import the photo into the blog. Drat. It's in the ribbon section of Area 2 and lines the inner edges of the diamond shapes of the Area 5 motif. While I'm still not that fond of the sky color of Area 4's skyline, it's growing on me and I do like the way the buildings turned out using Flair.

     I must effuse about Mandarin floss again. The coverage is just wonderful. It's the golden sky color as well as the soft yellow in the starburst of Area 5. And I love it's subtle sheen. I really need to use Mandarin more often.

     So I'm on to Area 6, the wheels, at the stitching group tonight. This will take up about two-thirds of the space to the right of the skyline and the starburst. I'm aiming to get it finished this week if possible. Wish me luck!



Good Progress, at Last

     This week's stitching experience has been much more satisfying. I restitched some of the border of "Florentine Fancywork," and then I decided to give myself a break and get back to work on the far more interesting stuff inside the border. I can finish the rest of the border a little at a time or at the end, since I don't have to worry about coming up in a dirty hole on the side and bottom portions. Plus, if I manage to get everything but that done by the deadline, I can always submit it unfinished for the critique. I'll have done some of the border. At least that's what someone said I could do.

     I finished Area 3, the horizontal band that revealed my error last week. It uses Rainbow Gallery Splendor, Overture, and Neon Rays. Normally I'm not a fan of Neon Rays, but it's shiny, smooth texture really adds a lot to this motif.

     I've moved on now to Area 4, called the New York City Skyline. The buildings are outlined in purple, and the straw colored section I'm filling in is … the sky. Not a color I would choose to represent the sky, but whatever. I don't really have the time to futz around with color variations now. The thread is Rainbow Gallery Mandarin Floss, six-strand bamboo floss, and I really enjoy working with it. It lays very nicely and has a sheen that's a bit shinier than that of cotton floss.

     So the race is on now. Will I make it? Can I possibly get this project done by mid-July? I mean, really, how hard can it be? Somebody just shoot me now.



Woe is me

Yesterday was not good. Stitching-wise. Monday night I spent quite a few hours working on my "Florentine Fancywork" bargello correspondence course from ANG, finishing up the border and getting the first inside area well toward completion. I was so pleased with myself. I should have known better.

Last night at the stitching group, I finished up the ribbon section and started on the next area, which would take me across the rest of the width of the piece. I merrily stitched along, chatting and having a grand time. Until I reached the other side and discovered that my stitching didn't match the chart. I had too many of the repeated motif, and the fractional one at the end was the wrong fraction. Gah! After much counting and comparing and counting and comparing, I finally looked at the top border and compared it to the chart. Gah! I had done it completely, but consistently, wrong all the way across. Instead of having one thread between each motif, I had two. Gah! Gah!

I spent the rest of the evening ripping out all but the left side and the first element of the top and bottom parts of the border. I'm not sure whether this will make the third or fourth time for stitching that frickin' border! I do like the ribbon section and think it turned out well. Here's a picture of what's left, including the shadow of the ripped-out border. Gah! And I was optimistic that I could finish it by the deadline, which is in July, not June. I don't think I have a prayer at this point.


::shuffles off, grumbling and muttering::


Now We're Cooking!

I know, I know. You're looking at the title and shaking your head. Cooking and stitching. Both lovely, sensual, and exciting things to do, but they so don't play well together. Except, that is, when one is watching/listening to a cooking show on TV while stitching. Best of both worlds! And cable is now offering us a second cooking channel: the, well, Cooking Channel! Yeah, I know, what a creative name. What do you expect from the folks who brought us the Food Network? And yes, I do believe they are related.

I've been enjoying watching some old cooking shows, like "Julia Child and Company" and "The Galloping Gourmet," as well as some newer ones (for me at least), like "Food Jammers" and "French Food at Home." I caught these last two a couple of nights ago (I think, the days run together when you work at home and there's a holiday thrown in). The "Food Jammers" guys decided to make their own fruit soda, which was hysterical. The first batch, which they decided to carbonate using a yeast process in bottles in the refrigerator, exploded in the refrigerator. Hahahahaha. It wasn't as bad as it sounds and no one was injured, but very funny. They did manage to get the procedure refined and ended up with some interesting sounding sodas, as well as an interesting method of dispensing them.

I'm really going to enjoy this channel for a while. At least until I've seen everything at least twice.



More Men Doing Needlework in Public

I saw this ad from the Prostate Cancer Foundation on TV the other night and cracked up.

Rosey Grier still does needlework, but this time it's knitting and as a public service. Now, if this really echoed women's stitching groups I'm familiar with, well, let's just say it would have been a bit livelier.

And they said it couldn't be done. I finally managed to get caught up on the ANG Stitch of the Month. Phew! The May stitch only took me about an hour to an hour and a half to complete last night, just as a couple of friends assured me it would. I was skeptical, though, primarily because the April stitch did not go very smoothly. What a bear that was! Instead of the hour and a half that these same friends told me it would take to finish, it took me at least five or six hours, including the time to rip out that session of stitching with the wrong color. Gah! I think I belong to the slow stitching movement. You know, like the slow food thing?

Now I should really get back to my bargello correspondence course, which I am definitely not completing on time. I believe the deadline is sometime in June. Yikes! I think I'll just be happy to finish it sometime this year.



Sunday Stars

Sunday was Stars day. The group gathered at my house to tackle Clark Gable. Hahahaha. Before our meeting, there was much talk via e-mail about his reported halitosis problem, which I believe was caused by dentures and more than likely also poor dental hygiene. He was still dashing nonetheless, thanks to the lack of smell-o-vision.

When we started on Stars, everyone's progress was all over the place, but this week we seem to have evened out a bit. One stitcher is excused for being a bit behind because she's been juggling a few balls in addition to trying to stitch on very rare occasions: college, family (husband and two children), and a Web business. In all honesty, she hasn't had much of a chance to stitch at all. All are agreed, however, that we love the bargello bits in Clark's square. Some of us do not like working with the crewel wool, especially me; others like it. It's not a thread I'd choose given other options. It gets fuzzy and seems much duller than the other threads we're using on this piece. Then again, I'm a silk lover.

Herewith our progress toward the end of the session on Sunday:

Taryn finally got started this week. Yay! She's doing hers in the Peacock colorway, as am I.

Donna's Cherry Blossom colorway is working up just beautifully.

Sharon is working from the top down, in Tony's original colorway, which looks so much nicer in person than in the cover picture.

Julie is also working in the original colorway.

JoAnn, ever the individual, is working from the bottom up in the Jelly Bean colorway. It's really quite striking.

This is mine. Last night at the stitching group I managed to finish my bargello section. I really do like the way it looks. Please excuse the upside-down photo. When I rotated it to right-side-up, it looked a bit bizarre.

And now, I have to get to work.




Is that a word? I think it must be, or it should be. It seems to be my mood lately when it comes to stitching.

I started a new project the other night, well really early morning. After tossing and turning for hours, I finally decided to just get up at 4:30 am, go downstairs, and see what I could do to make myself sleepy. Naturally, I turned to stitching. Huh? I decided it was the perfect time to pull out a painted canvas I'd gotten from a friend's destashing a little while ago. Donna, needleworker not in paradise, had plucked it and its twin from the stack, keeping one for her and saving the other for me. She immediately pulled colors and started on hers. I mulled it over. And over. And over. I finally decided to go for the subtle approach, a tone on tone in deep purples, using Petite Very Velvet for the words and Silk and Ivory for the background. Then I set it aside for a while.

So the other night/morning, I started stitching it to see whether the contrast would be sufficient and to test a background stitch, since the whole of the canvas consists of two words. Here's what I came up with.

Can you see the letters against the background? I can, but I really want to. When I showed it to the stitching group last night, the consensus seemed to be that it was a bit too subtle. The light would have to hit it just right. So I think I'll continue with it and outline the letters in a coppery metallic when it's all stitched. Or something like that. I'll decide when I get to that point. I'm not sure whether you can really tell what the background stitch is. It's a checkerboard pattern of 3 x 3 blocks of tent stitch and scotch stitch. I really like the texture it gives.

My other monochromatic WIP is the ANG Stitch O' the Month, or SOTM. I'm still working on April. Yes, I know it's supposed to be a light stitching month, as is May, which I have downloaded and believe will be easy to do. For some reason, though, I'm taking forever with April's stitch. Part of the problem stems from my using the wrong thread for one session of stitching, then spending the next session of stitching ripping it out. Gah! This is what happens when you use a monochromatic color scheme that has two of the major families very close in gray value. Sigh. So here's my progress on April's stitch.

Sunday, I'll get to stitch some more on Stars. Mercifully, it's not a monochromatic colorway.



We Have Liftoff!

Today marked a new milestone in my business life. My partner and I finally launched the Scarlet Thread Web store. Of course, it's a work in progress, as most any store is. We'll be adding products, photos of threads (gah! the photography!), photos of finished work in the Gallery, and I don't know what all for the next several months. It's been a lot of work, but I'm pretty happy with the results. And I've learned perhaps more about html coding than I ever really wanted to know. Hahahahaha. Soon I'll be able to approach it with my usual aplomb. I mean, how hard can it be? And this time, I know the answer to that.


Where does the time go?

Do you ever feel like you've been running around like crazy multi-tasking your butt off, stop to check your progress, discover that your efforts have produced minimal concrete results, and realize that the hourglass is almost empty?
Since last I posted, this is my progress on Stars.
I'm finally ready to move on to Clark Gable, now that Marilyn's finished. What a struggle! It was well worth it, though, because I think she's lovely and I like the way the colors work in this block. The external border, however, is another story. I'm going to rip out the middle and outer borders because there's something not right with that thin one stitched with the variegated thread. I think it happened when I had to rethread. It's right where the color changes from the turquoise to the rust. Gah! But that can wait for later, maybe after everything else is stitched or whenever I get particularly frustrated with something else.
The other, actually more important thing I've been working on is the Scarlet Thread Web store. My partner and I are working furiously to get it done in time for the official launch date of May 1. Yes, you read that right, Saturday. OMG! It seems like we've struggled every step of the way, trying to get things right and not wanting to settle for good enough for now, just get the thing finished and launched. Things are falling into place, though, and I do feel confident that everything we want done for Day 1 will be done. Then again, I do have that idiotic, ever-the-optimist bent. Once again, I'm finding out just how hard it can be to achieve my goals.


Mysteries, Truckers, and Skeletons

Did I get your attention? No, this is not a report on the latest episode of Bones.
First, the mystery: I'm referring, of course, to the ANG Stitch of the Month. I finished the March stitch on Easter Sunday, a little past March but not too bad. I finally can see all three color families and how they work together, and I'm pretty pleased if I do say so myself. I have to admit, though, that there are a couple of layered stitches in there that seem like a lot of work for a very small effect. I also discovered that when using Rainbow Gallery Treasure Braid Petite instead of Accentuate, I only needed half the number of strands specified. I guess I should say that it was my preference. Four strands just seemed too bulky, and in one instance totally covered up the layer beneath instead of revealing a little spot of color. Okay, I just looked it up in The Thread Thesaurus and found out, it's actually a 4:1 ratio. [smacks forehead with palm of hand] Well, I'm not ripping it out now. Those layered stitches would probably look just fine with one strand of TBP.
Truckers. Yes, that's right, truckers. No, I haven't suddenly become enamored of a truck-drivin' man. It's the ones who quilt and knit who intrigue me. Not one but two people brought this Wall Street Journal article to my attention. My favorite quote:
When he's not sewing, he's daydreaming about it, he said as he ran a square of yellow cotton with little violets through his machine. "Oh, there's many a time you're just going down the road at O-dark-thirty in the morning and you just start thinking about a particular pattern."
This reminded me of Rosey Grier and his needlepoint hobby. I surfed around a bit and discovered that, yes, he's still alive and travels the country as an inspirational speaker. He was an advocate for men doing needlepoint in the '70s and even published a book about it, Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men.
We need a new advocate for men doing needlework in the 21st century. Know anybody we can draft? I mean, how hard can it be?
I almost forgot about the skeletons. Even though I haven't been doing any cross-stitch for a while, I was compelled to buy a new pattern the other day. Prairie Moon has a new series with a skeleton theme, and I fell in love with Merry Xmas. I'm sure you'll agree, it's irresistable. Will I ever stitch it? I don't know.


So much to stitch, so little time

I've been stitching a lot, but the results seem meager. Monday morning I spent some time at the car dealer getting the oil changed in my car and a tire fixed, the perfect opportunity to stitch in public! Nobody cared. I did get a bit more done on my SOTM. Maybe I'll have this month's stitch done before April's is posted. No photo of this till I'm done with the March stitching.
I finally feel like I've made progress on Stars. The top outer square is almost completely restitched, and I'm much happier with the way it looks. You can actually see the bottom-layer thread this time. I finished stitching the center element of Marilyn Monroe and will attempt the parallelograms again, this time with three strands of Splendor. After talking with Donna, I'm considering going ahead with stitching the rest of the border after I finish up Marilyn. The sides have to be stitched from the bottom up, though, which I'm not looking forward to because of all the counting and recounting to get to the point of beginning to stitch. Then again, I could stitch the sashing, then the border, which is what the instructions wanted me to do first anyway. We'll see. I hate having to resort to following the instructions after the fact. That implies that I was wrong, and I just hate being wrong.


Belated Progress on Stars

It's been over a week since the first stitching meeting of the Stars stitch along group. I've been waiting for some of the stitchers to send me photos of their progress, and waiting for me to take some of mine. My progress is almost negative but not quite. I ripped out most of the top left outside corner stitching because I wasn't happy with the way it looked and still have more to rip. Sigh. On the 28th, I got started on the first block, Marilyn Monroe. The stitches are probably a little advanced for this remedial stitcher, so I haven't gotten that far. Part of what I stitched then and since then will be kept, but two areas have to come out.
You can see the remains of the outer corner. I found it harder to rip out than expected. Why is that? I'll try to remove the last remnants tonight just to eliminate the reminder that I had to do it. The stitching on the Marilyn quilt block is in its bottom right quadrant and is going painfully slow.
I'm not happy with the way the diamond area stitched in purple looks. I can see the white canvas in places, and I thought it wasn't supposed to show. Maybe I'll hold off ripping this out until I've stitched the areas surrounding it. The other area I'm not happy with is the purple parallelogram to the right of this section. I used the two strands Tony specified, but it's not covering nearly as well as it should. I have already ripped out the same stitch that ran perpendicular to this one and below the square area because I found a mistake. Something tells me this is going to be a long, arduous stitching experience for me.
On to the progress of some of my fellow stitchers. You can keep up with Donna, who's making up her own overdye and colorway, on her blog, needleworker not in paradise. Here are some of the other colorways being stitched.
This is JoAnn's Jelly Bean. She started at the bottom because we were still waiting for the JL Walsh silk and wool to come in and the botton left block was the first logical place to start that didn't call for that thread. She also found it easier to work that area. This is project isn't called a BAP for nothing. I think this is going to be stunning.
A note about the JL Walsh silk and wool. When I called the dyer to check on the status, I learned that she would no longer be dying this particular thread. Her supplier has raised her minimum to such an outrageous sum that she simply can't afford to do it anymore, which is sad because it is a lovely fiber. She'll still be dying her silks, just not the silk and wool. But I digress.
Dawn chose the Morning Garden colorway, substituting an overdye that was close to the now-discontinued Morning Garden and following the rest of the colors and threads as specified. (The name of her color escapes me right now; I'll get back to you on that.) As you can see, she's almost done with Marilyn. I hate her almost as much as I hate JoAnn. Hahahahahaha.
Ferol is doing the Granite colorway. I find it wonderfully surprising because if you look at the skein of Granite, you don't readily see all the beautiful colors that you can pull from it that make this colorway so stunning. Ferol also is stitching the border differently. I like that.
You may have noticed that with four stitchers, you have four different approaches to preparing the canvas and starting the stitching.
So that's what I have so far. There are five other people, two of whom are doing my colorway, Peacock, with the rest doing Tony's original Plum Honey colorway.