Lucky Thirteen!

I know you've been waiting with bated breath for this next installment in my WIP Walk of Shame. This post finds the Remedial Stitcher counting her counted projects. Mercifully, they aren't legion. I've included counted canvas and my one counted thread, which comes to the magic and lucky number of 13. Wait, that's wrong. One of that number is actually two projects that are kitted and ready, but they haven't been mounted on stretchers yet. So that would actually make 12 WIPs and 2 kits. I'm not sure that's any better.

Here they are, in order of stitching priority (at this moment in time).

This is Florentine Sampler by Nanette Costa, a design from the ANG Chapter Project Book that I'll be leading for my chapter's January meeting. So I have to finish this soon. I'm working on the background, which is the same basic stitch on the left side of the diagonal as on the right, just flipped and using blue instead of the raspberry. This has been an interesting stitch, as the motif in the upper right was a real problem to position correctly. I think I have it off by one thread vertically, which has made the background stitch around it kind of a pain. I will try to make it easier for everyone to position it properly in January. I used Cosmo floss for this, which is a six-strand Egyptian cotton floss. It costs a little more than DMC (if you buy it at an LNS and not at Michael's, AC Moore, or Hobby Lobby, where they can charge a much lower price that's closer to the wholesale price for an LNS) but is so worth the price! It's got a very silky feel and sheen and is a pleasure to stitch with.

Tropical Punch by DebBee's Designs is another project that I'll be leading at a chapter meeting in March. The Potomac Chapter of ANG (PANG) is doing this in four segments over the course of 2015, and I'm starting it off in March. What was I thinking? Sheesh! My part is the central diamond motif, up to the first Jessica border. I chose to make up my own colorway, which is based on the Caron Collection's Cheyenne in Watercolours and Waterlilies. I obviously need to get going on this, so I will try to work on it at least once a week.

The next two are projects that I submitted to PANG's annual Stitching Challenge, wherein we select up to five WIPs that we hope to finish within the next year. It begins anew each March. These were in my list for last year as well, and I paid up $5 apiece for not completing them in the allotted time. So I rolled them over for this year. Sadly, I fear I'll be ponying up another $10 come March 2015, as I don't see myself finishing these this time either. But you never know. They aren't in my current rotation (I say that like I really have a rotation going), as I have other non-counted projects that I need to get to first.

This is Leaf Collage by Terry Dryden, which was a class offered by PANG a couple of years ago (maybe three?). Terry is a wonderful teacher and I enjoyed the class tremendously. If you get the opportunity to take a class with her, jump on it! I really do like this piece, as it's made up of lots of small, easily finished blocks of stitching. What's my excuse? I have none (hanging my head in shame).

At the 2012 ANG Seminar in Philadelphia, I took a class with Toni Gerdes, Carnival. I love the different stitches and threads used in this. Well, maybe not some of the threads, but most of them. The colors are beautiful, and it's been a challenge to stitch. That empty part on the left is basically the same elements from the right side just turned on their side and shaped differently. It's a lot of compensation, the bane of my existence. This is what's got me stalled. I know if I just put my mind to it, I can finish it.

Once a month, I've been getting together with the rest of the people who took this class and haven't yet finished it, and we spend the afternoon working on it. It's the beautiful Imari Collage by Debbie Stiehler. I'm making slow progress, and at this rate it'll take me at least another year, maybe two to finish it. So much unfilled space. Sigh.

Now come things that I should do, want to do, need to do, but am not sure when I'll finish.

A perennial favorite, Stars for a New Millennium by Tony Minieri gets a little attention from time to time. I'm trying to work on this with a group of women I stitch with every other Sunday (when possible, sometimes more like other than every). I'm nearly done with the fifth square, which I've been working on forever. I'm hoping that I'll be able to stick with it now that I've allocated a specific time for stitching it; I just have to remember and not let other things nudge it aside.

I have to be careful not to let this lovely design fall by the wayside. This is the class I took at the Williamsburg School of Embroidery about two months ago. It's Spring Refraction by Jane Williams. Maybe I can work on this on the Sundays I'm not stitching Stars. I've decided to rip out the stitching I did in the large circle at the bottom left. That was the first thing I did in the class, and I'm really not happy with the way it looks. I'm going to use one strand instead of two of the Appleton Crewel Wool and try to use the colors the same way I did in the smaller orb at the top. We'll see. Ripping it out may be hazardous to the triangular shape's stitches, which are probably anchored in there. Arg.

Marilyn Owen's Folding Ort Box is languishing in the corner over there. It reproaches me with the blackwork that needs to be done. Again, I have no excuse. I'd really like to get this done, as I think it'll be very pretty and handy to tuck into my stitching bag when I'm on the go. This was a chapter project in 2013.

I think this is the project that made me realize how wrong it is for me to start these major, large pieces. I love the colors I selected for Pam Gardner's From Molehill to Mountain, which is both a color study and an exercise in stitch variations. I fear this may become a UFO.

The last installment of Carole Lake and Michael Boren's Building Blocks series. I have only three blocks to go. I may take this to my Thursday stitching group once I finish the Florentine Sampler. I can get one block done during the allotted time. Then I can put all of the finished blocks in the binder I bought for them and use it as a handy reference when I'm looking for an interesting stitch for my painted canvas projects.

And because I'm an idiot and never will learn, I added this nice new project to my collection of WIPs just yesterday. It's Janet Zickler Casey's Moon Pie Kitty. The NOVA Chapter of ANG offered this and another of her kits in a chapter workshop, inviting members of PANG to join in the fun. It's a black kitty. How could I resist? And I'd watched my friend stitch hers and fell in love with it. I may square it off, since I'm not likely to finish it as a large round "cookie" or ornament. It would fit nicely in a boxtop or trivet, my new favorite way to finish my work.

Let's see. What's left?

Right. The two kitted projects. They are Diamond Delight 8 by DebBee's Designs and Frankie by Michael Boren. Lovely.

Nuff said.

Last but not least, my one counted thread project.

When I first opened Scarlet Thread in Vienna, I discovered Millennia Designs, a British needlework design firm that was actually located in Wales back then. They carried a variety of historic cross-stitch and needlepoint designs, things I couldn't find anywhere else. One design that I carried was this Aubrey Beardsley "Oriental Lady and Cat." I always coveted it and kept one for myself when I closed the shop. I finally decided to stitch it this year, now that I rarely do cross-stitch. I work on it every now and then. There's no rush. It's not going anywhere.

And there you have it. My counted needlework projects. If you made it through to the end, congratulations! Your reward is this:



UFOs and a Few Finishes!

It's fall. Officially. There's a chill in the air, the leaves are turning, I got out my fall jacket and fall/winter hats. It's definitely fall now.

So I've been trying to get a handle on all my needlework, both needlepoint and cross-stitch. Yes, cross-stitch. I have projects in a variety of stages. Charted needlepoint, waiting to be kitted up; charted needlepoint that's all kitted up, waiting to be started; hand-painted canvases, newly acquired and awaiting threads; hand-painted canvases with their threads gathered, just begging to be stitched; and cross-stitch, just one, in progress.

Then there are the WIPs that have now become UFOs. Not too many, but enough.

That's Laura Perin's Stained Glass Windows (I decided to do just a 4 x 4 section and still couldn't stick with it) on the left.

Next to it is Carolyn Mitchell's Mystique, a beautiful symmetrical geometric design. And that's just the problem. It's based on the quadrant system. One of my friends had this to say about that kind of charted design: "There! You finished one section! Did you like it? Now you get to stitch it three more times." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I can handle it on a small scale. It's just the really big ones that I can't seem to complete.

To the right of that is the 2013 ANG Stitch of the Month, which I had all good intentions of finishing as we worked on it at my local guild meetings. I didn't even get through the first three-month segment, giving up after finishing one side of the border.

At the far right is Jim Wurth's Prelude to Peace, what you could call a BAP (or a big-a$$ project). Beautiful as it is, this one just couldn't hold my interest.

On the left in the front is a Ewe & Eye painted canvas piece that I saved from my brick-and-mortar store. I really do like the design. I've stitched a few portions, but I'm just not feeling it. So this one is destined to remain as it is.

Finally, you see a mystery from Blue Dogwood, CAThedral. I actually do like this, but I tried to do it with threads from my own stash, using colors that were close or might work as well and adding in other purchased ones as necessary. I created a monster! It just got too hard to figure out which thread I was going to use for each segment as they came out. I gave up.

These have now been taken off their stretcher bars, packed up, and stored in my guest room, where I keep all my needlework. My guild's going to have a swap in February, and these will be offered up there. If no one wants them, then the threads will all be incorporated with my stash (I say that like it's organized), the canvases discarded, and the chart packs filed.

I have been doing a lot of stitching, and I've finished stitching a few things.

This is a Sundance Designs canvas, Chili Peppers. I bought this for my brick-and-mortar store and started stitching it as a model. It languished with just the peppers stitched till this spring (summer?), when I finally figured out how to stitch the background and border. Ta-da!

This is my modified Halloween Treat by Marilyn Owen. I'm really happy with how it turned out. It's now awaiting finishing.

I went to the ANG Seminar in Chicago at the end of August and took a class with Orna Willis, Color Inspiration. What a wonderful concept for a class and what a challenge for me! Orna sent each student a pair of photos (you see the one I chose on the right above) from which to choose as the inspiration for the color story to be stitched. Each student received a unique pair. So I was the only one who had this as well as its companion. Suffice to say, this is so far out of my comfort zone color-wise that I finished the first day quite disheartened and feeling that I'd made a huge mistake. Everything came together the next morning, though; and by the end of the third day, I felt confident that I'd eventually finish it. Amazingly, I was so motivated that I finished it up within the next month. I even finally learned how to do French knots!

This is Little Red Barn, and I can't remember who the designer is. It's a little painted canvas I picked up at my LNS to stitch for a good friend who has a horse and loves all things related to horses. I whipped it up in about a day, then put it in a Sudberry coaster. I had a lot of fun stitching this little piece. I'm hoping that silly white fleck was on top of the glass and not trapped beneath it. Sigh.

So that's what I've been up to. My needlework organization project continues. I'll try to post an update when I've made more progress with it sometime next week. In the meantime, I'm going to take a class with Laura Taylor at Bedecked & Beadazzled in Timonium, MD, this weekend. I can't wait! We'll be stitching Ruth Schmuff's Flower Collage.

I'm really looking forward to learning some new stitches and techniques and working with new materials.



A WIP is a WIP is a WIP

Unless, of course, it becomes a UFO.

I've decided it's time to tally all the needlepoint WIPs I've got. Today is counted canvas day. I took pictures of all the ones sitting around on the main floor of my condo. I know there are some things lurking upstairs in the guest room, but I think these are a good start.


In no particular order, these are all things I could finish up by just applying myself or projects I'm currently working on with my chapter of ANG. Actually a lot of them have sprouted up because of the guild. Hmmm.

This is Carnival, by Toni Gerdes. I went to the ANG Seminar in Philadelphia in 2012, and this is one of the classes I took. It's also one of my projects for the annual "Challenge" of my chapter of ANG. For the second year. Sigh. The color's a little off in the picture. That canvas should be yellow but is showing a distincly greenish cast to me here. What do I have left to do? The bottom right section, and the triangular sections on the left, which repeat motifs in the larger right part. The compensation for the triangular sections is killing me. And I think I just don't really like the thread I'm using for that bottom right piece. Oh, and the border. I have to do the border. This really is a lovely piece with fun stitches. I've just stalled on the left side, and inertia's taken over.

Leaf Collage, by Terry Dryden, is a workshop project. Again, from 2012 (I think, though it could be 2011; no, that's impossible). My guild chapter, Potomac Chapter of ANG, sponsored the workshop. Terry was a marvelous teacher, full of good tips on technique. We "painted" the blue sections with Copic markers; the leaves are photo transfers that Terry already had on the outlined canvas. What's great about this piece is how it's broken up into lots of smaller, manageable sections. I've been diligently (well, that might be a little too strong a term) stitching the sections with "spaghetti" threads and have actually made some progress. This piece is also a part of my annual Challenge. Also for the second year. There's a lot to be done on this, so I'm not optimistic about finishing it before the end of the Challenge year. I'm not happy with the stitching on the gingko leaf that I started during the workshop, so that will probably come out. I've learned some new techniques, so I may choose to stitch the leaves in a totally different way. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

This is Marilyn Owen's Folding Ort Box, which I started in our monthly chapter meetings. Initially, the goal was to have it completely finished to send to the ANG Seminar in 2013, to be included in an exhibit of nothing but these Ort Boxes as stitched by members across the country. Obviously, I didn't make it. The square at the top left is the bottom, and the rest of the squares are the sides. Yes, they're all ultimately going to be square. I need to do the blackwork stitching on the bottom three, then finish the borders on the sides, then cut all the squares out and put it together. And voilĂ ! An ort box that folds up in an origami fashion to a flat square. I painted my canvas to get the right shade of yellow for this. I really should get this done. Again, there's not all that much left to do. I do find the finishing intimidating though.

Debbie Stiehler's Imari Collage is the project of a recent workshop with Debbie, sponsored by PANG. We were lucky enough to have her come to teach just before she retired from teaching. (Ours was the penultimate workshop she led.) This is a daunting piece. Lots of metallic threads. Some very fine and unruly. There's a lovely or nue section that I was surprised to find relatively easy to do once I got into the rhythm. The finishing of that section, however, is very intimidating to me. I keep threatening to trim those long gold threads extending from either side to neat, short lengths and leave them on top instead of plunging them through the congress cloth. My friends just laugh. I enjoyed doing the plaid at the bottom left. There's another rectangle of that at the top of that column.

About a dozen of us are meeting once a month to work on this in an effort to keep our momentum going. Some are momenting more than others. This will take me years to finish, I just know it.

Another long-term meeting-program project we're doing in my chapter is the 2013 ANG Stitch of the Month project by Debbie Stiehler. This is what we covered in the first of four meetings. I haven't actually finished it; the borders should be completed all the way around. And I haven't even started what was covered in the last meeting. Arg. I do plan to try to catch up, though, since the next installment won't be until September (I think). (I should know this, since I'm in charge of the programs. Hahahahahaha.) There's a third color to be used, which I may decide to change.

Marilyn Owen's Halloween Treat is what we'll be working on at the chapter meeting tomorrow. I'm actually caught up on this and a little bit ahead. In case you haven't already figured it out, I changed the colors. Mine is not going to be a Halloween piece; I don't generally do holiday stitching, though there are exceptions. I had a hank of silk floss that had gorgeous maroon and green shades, so I used that for my jumping off point. Instead of the Halloween-themed buttons and embellishments, I'm using cats and cat-related ones. This has been a fun project (well, except for the borders and grid, which were just tedious and painstaking because if the count was off anywhere, the whole thing would have been out of whack). I've been enjoying figuring out which threads to use in each section. And this is what the original piece looks like.

And finally, the last long-term project I've been working on is a notebook series from StitchPlay Designs.

This is Michael Boren and Carole Lake's Building Blocks for Needlepoint series, which has been arriving every couple of months for a year. I'm working on the last segment now. Each segment included a booklet with a discussion of the threads to be used (three full skeins!), then directions for the stitch samples, along with a discussion of how each stitch can be used in your needlepoint. I've already used some of these stitches in other projects. It's been a great way to play with different threads and learn lots of stitches, and I'm really sorry it's ended because I did manage to keep up with this for the most part. I finally got a binder to put all of these in so I can use it for easy reference.

So those are my current WIPs in counted canvas. There are some others, as I mentioned above, but they're not really in the current rotation. Rotation. I say that like I actually do these systematically.

I have a number of painted canvas WIPs and even a counted thread project. Those will wait for another post. And then there are all the projects waiting in the wings, and they seem to be legion!

I'll catch up. I know I can. I mean, how hard can it be?



Testing, 1, 2, 3. Testing, 1, 2, 3.

Is this thing on?

::tapping the mike::

Is anybody out there?

Let's see if we can make this thing work.

It's been a long time, nearly two years since my last post. Sounds sort of like the beginning of a confession, doesn't it?

I'm back! Did you miss me? You might wonder whether I've been stitching. The short answer: Yes! And now for a longer answer.

I've been stitching a lot, just not finishing a lot. Those things that I've finished, I've generally given away. I've been stitching counted canvas almost exclusively, though I've done the random counted thread piece here and there. Lately, I've been doing more painted canvas, something I thought I'd never get into. But as I've learned more different stitches and techniques, I've found I rather like it.

Here's some of what I'm working on right now:

Nearly finished is a painted canvas piece I started as a shop model when I still had Scarlet Thread, the store, Chilis Small by Terri Medaris, distributed by Sundance Designs and available through your LNS. For years, it's been languishing off in a corner, waiting for me to rip out the basketweave I'd started doing for the background and decide what to do instead. I finally realized that I now know enough different stitches to tackle it, so I spent an evening frogging. This was one time I didn't say, "How hard can it be." I hate ripping out backstitch! Takes way too long. Anywhere, that brought me to this:

Ahhh. I decided to stitch the yellow and orange background with a thin thread, Pure Palette's Soy Luster, using a light-coverage stitch. I had found the perfect one in Father B's 21st Century Book of Stitches, by The Rev. Robert E. Blackburn, Jr. (which was distributed by Rainbow Gallery when I had the store and should be available through your LNS). It's called the Background Stitch and is similar to the Diagonal Tent Stitch Variation. I loved the way it allowed the background painting to show through and added an element of texture.

The next step? How to do that ribbon-like border.

I started browsing my books as well as Stitchplay Design's Building Blocks for Needlepoint, a wonderful notebook series by Carole Lake and Michael Boren that lets you play with a variety of threads while learning wonderful stitches to increase your stitch vocabulary. After my comprehensive search and conferring with a friend while we were at her chemo session, I decided on. Wait for it. Cross stitch. Yes, you read that right. The other basic, a cross stitch. I think it's working wonderfully, using one ply of Caron Collection's Watercolours, stitching each cross stitch as I go, and cutting out whatever I don't like of the overdye.

What do you think? (Funny what different lighting conditions can do to the colors. This is pretty accurate.)

So I hope to finish this very soon.

In the meantime, I have a lot of WIPs! I have three counted canvas class pieces, a couple more painted canvas pieces (maybe more), and a new counted thread piece. That's correct, a new counted thread piece. Have I got my linen groove back? We'll see. I did get it on a scroll frame and stitched a bit to be sure I could handle what I bought yesterday. I have had the pattern since I opened the shop and finally decided to get the fabric and thread. What did I select? Oh, just a piece of 40-ct linen and a skein of overdyed silk floss. Stitching one ply over two threads, using a magnifier and light. Yeah.

I'll try to be more regular in my blog posts to let you know what I'm doing on my other WIPs, including more pictures. I'll also try not to start anything new. But I make no promises. I've got a lot of new things lurking in the corners, looking at me reproachfully.