No, I'm not backing off. Really. I'm just back from a stitching retreat with my Stars for a New Millennium stitch-along group. We spent Friday late afternoon through Sunday early evening at Signal Knob Retreat Center outside Strasburg, Virginia. What a marvelous time! We headed out in the midst of snow flurries, well intermittent snow. By the time we arrived, the sky had cleared and we were looking forward to an uninterrupted weekend of stitching and more stitching. Armed with our needlework bags full of tools and projects, along with provisions for sustenance (the usual snacky items, including four batches of homemade cookies to keep our energy up and lots of chocolate), we immediately claimed our bedrooms and set up our stitching stations in the living room. I should have taken a picture of all the bags, luggage, food bags, etc., that filled the backs of the Toyota van and Durango that transported us to Signal Knob. What an incredible amount of stuff for seven women!

     We're just missing Sharon and me in that pic. It was really a lovely room, with lots of natural light during the day. Nighttime, not so great for lighting, but we managed. The only other thing missing from this picture is a box elder bug. Or should I say dozens, nay hundreds? A swarm of those annoying things, which my father cleverly referred to as Halloween bugs, have invaded the retreat center to winter, and they made their presence known. If you're not familiar with these bugs, here's what they look like:

     My father dubbed them Halloween bugs because of their coloring and their annual arrival time. In fact, it wasn't until I was an adult that I learned the real common name of those critters. I get them in my house some years and periodically vacuum them up from around the dormer windows upstairs. So we hauled out the fabulous Dyson vacuum at the center and periodically vacuumed them up over the course of the weekend. Ugh!

     But on to more interesting and fun things. On Fiday night, I took pictures of where everyone was on Stars so that we could document our progress at the end of the weekend. Oddly, I didn't take a picture of my own piece, but the picture I posted here on November 16 shows where I was. Herewith, everyone else's starting point for the weekend.



Ferol's (sideways)




     The color is off in most of these because it was night, and the available light was not that great. (Julie's and Sharon's are the same colorway.) I know. Poor excuse. I should have done better, but I was just interested in grabbing a progress comparison, not showing the beauty of the colors and stitching. So sue me.

     Saturday was a beautiful day, sunny and warmer. Dawn got up early enough to catch the sunrise. Gorgeous!

     After a 9:00 am breakfast, we got right down to work and stitched the entire day with breaks only for lunch and dinner. Both Friday and Saturday nights, there were a few intrepid stitchers who stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. I can't vouch for their stitching the entire time, but they certainly seemed to be having a really good time.

     Sunday morning, we got to work before breakfast, organizing our threads, stitching, getting ready for the final hours in the hope of achieving whatever goal each of us had set. For most, I think it was to complete two of the blocks. After breakfast, a few of us created canvas protectors, following the directions in the September issue of Needlepointers. Donna had made one last August, and offered to bring her tools and the magazine for our use. Sharon graciously did the shopping for the supplies. I'm quite pleased with mine and am sure, based on the amount of progress I made this weekend, I'll get a lot of use out of it before it has to sit idle while waiting for me to do another project that's 15" x 18". Hahahahaha.

     It was with much regret that we bid adieu to Signal Knob Sunday evening. We thoroughly enjoyed the stitching and the company. The experience has shown us that we need more than a couple of hours once a month to make headway on this BAP. So we're going to try to get together every four to six weeks to spend a whole day stitching, taking a break for lunch at a nearby restaurant, but otherwise doing nothing but stitching.

     Without further ado, here are pictures of a slightly higher quality of everyone's progress over the course of the stitchy weekend. Please click on each to see a larger version.










Still Alive, Still Sort of Stitching

     I can't believe how long it's been since I posted anything. Sadly, part of the reason is my lack of significant progress on any of my ongoing projects. I did manage to get another half of a fleur-de-lis crescent done correctly on Prelude to Peace, but also confirmed that I have to stitch this piece when I'm all alone in my stitchy corner with no distractions other than the background noise of the Cooking Channel. Lest you misunderstand, I only have the one-half motif done after having picked out the first attempt. I have had success, though, using the extremely long "Hilton length" of Flair.

     I'm also slowly reaching the end of the 2010 Stitch of the Month. I'm proud to say that I'm working away on the November segment, which should go quickly if I apply myself. And therein lies the problem. I seem to have lost my stitching mojo and hope to find it soon!

     I've actually started a small, new project. For Christmas, my daughter gave me the Zombie Cross-Stitch kit! Hahahahaha. She found it in June last year and obviously knew on sight that it was perfect for her mom. It's a gift that embraces two of my obsessions: stitching (obviously) and the books of Christopher Moore, who doesn't just write books with zombies but usually has some supernatural creature (or two) in them and has written three vampire books that aren't your typical vampire books. Anyway, I insisted that she pick one of the 10 or 12 designs for me to stitch for her. She chose Miss Zombie USA, and I've been working on that in the last two stitching group meetings.

     I hope to have some progress pictures to post in a few days, as I devote my evenings to doing more stitchy things and fewer iPad-y things.