Saturday, May 27, 2017

TUSAL May 2017

Check Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog for a thorough explanation of the Totally Useless Stitch A Long. CLICK HERE for all the details.

Rather a modest pile of orts this month:

The Silly Stitching Calendar says I stitched a mere dozen days since the last TUSAL check in. Phooey.

All orts this month are from Jane Turner. Band 9 is complete (and those blue flowers were just as much of a pain in the neck in band 9 as they were in band 7), and all the outlining is complete for band 10. Need to fill in leaves and petals and grape-like flowers with satin stitch, and then fill the large flower centers using couching. Have only done couching in a straight line prior to this, so spiraling to fill the circle may be a bit challenging.

Here’s a peek at bands 9 and 10.

I'm getting excited about the next big band coming up as it's the lady band!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

TUSAL April 2017

Check Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog for an explanation of the Totally Useless Stitch A Long. CLICK HERE for all the details.

Lots of orts! *TWO* piles of orts this month!

And the Silly Stitching Calendar says I’ve actually stitched (as opposed to just *thinking* about stitching) 17 days since the last TUSAL check in.

Because I completed Jane Turner’s band 8, I allowed myself a new start on something simple. Out of my Other Stitching Bag (which has at least a dozen projects kitted up), I chose to begin Catherine Theron’s 1840 Town House Sampler – a kit I bought from the Gentle Arts/Theron Traditions booth at the 1992 Spirit of Cross Stitch Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York. Why yes, I believe in letting my stitching projects age, sort of like a fine wine (ha!). Anyway, here’s what it looks like. Picture's a bit fuzzy, but you get the general idea, right?

And here’s my start:

Wow – after months of working on 35 count, the 28 count linen for this piece seems huge! It almost feels like I don’t need the cheaters to see it (but yeah, I really do). Interesting tidbit in case you've never taken a class with her: Catherine Theron likes to use big needles. That’s probably an oversimplification, but I remember she really stressed using the appropriate size needle for your fabric, not just automatically reaching for a 26 no matter what the project is. So packaged with that kit was a size 24 needle. I will admit it “fits” the fabric nicely, but at first it felt like I was waving a baseball bat around!

I posted the other day about finishing Jane Turner Band 8 – still doing happy little bounces about that. Here’s Jane in her current entirety – all the outlining on Band 9 is complete and I’m working on the satin stitch filling.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Band 8, band 8!

Jane Turner’s band 8 is finished! (happydance!)

Well, it’s aactually been finished for about a week and a half – have done a bit of respite stitching on an easy project and am now back to working on Jane. Just didn’t have enough oomph to post. Someone else said something very similar in the last week and I really meant to comment…. I blame my lethargy on springtime!

Now I need to ask you all – when your chart and the photo of what you’re stitching disagree, which do you tend to follow? See the blue and the cream satin stitches filling in the links of that chain thing? Chart said all sections were to be blue but in the finished sampler in the photo provided with the kit, the stitcher definitely alternated the blue and cream.

The only photos I’ve been able to find of the original sampler don’t provide enough detail to let me know whether Jane used one color or two (aside: not really sure why I worry – periodically - about accurately reproducing what Jane did since I’ve changed several colors [one of them twice] and also elected to stitch one section so it fulfilled my penchant for symmetry rather than having the left and right sides be different colors). But considering the number of errors I’ve found in the chart, I decided to use both the blue and cream.

Okay, I’ll admit that I also thought it would look better if not all those bits were blue.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TUSAL March 2017

Need to find out what TUSAL means? Check Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog. CLICK HERE for all the details.

Stitching this month was solely on Jane Turner, still working on Band 8. Got a fair amount accomplished, even though the ort pile is puny.

Now I’m going to cheat a bit. Most of this lunar month’s stitching was in trellis stitch, where you cannot end your thread within a row – only at one end or the other. So when there wasn’t enough thread for another row, I was cutting off several inches at least – far too much to consider an ort and certainly a lot of those bits will be used elsewhere in the sampler. So, here are my non-ort snippets.

The Silly Stitching Days Calendar has 9 check marks since the last TUSAL report. Too bad there aren’t more weekend days each month!

Now, how is Jane looking? First, a peek at the doodle cloth – practicing Montenegrin diagonally and then turning from that to horizontal stitching. Thank goodness for Amy Mitten’s autopsy book!! Also practiced switching back and forth between two colors.

Jane Turner, Band 8 – truly only a bit of progress since my last post.

Happy stitching, all!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Snakes are done

I know that sounds a bit odd - I promise I'm not cooking them! That’s what the S-shaped motifs are called in the stitching instructions. Am I being thick and “snake” is the accepted designation for this shape on old samplers?

Anyway, the snakes are all filled in, and they were the last places where I had to work trellis stitch on this band. I was really worried as the shape was rather skinny and the instructions call for two rows in each of three colors where it felt like there was room for maybe three rows total, but was able to make them tiny enough to fit. It’s funny – looking at them and comparing the two, I thought one looked far better than the other, but seeing the picture I'm not so sure. What do you all think?

The sort of barber pole thing at the bottom turned out fairly well, though I’m not completely happy with how the blue looks a bit wonky.

But the trellis is done (yay!).

Frustrating thing about trellis: it’s a knotted stitch, so is basically impossible to frog. At one point I took out the two stitches I’d just done and nearly ruined the thread, which would have meant snipping out the entire row – this is not a forgiving stitch. Thank goodness for the little blue box of Stitch Heaven!

All of band 8 so far:

My doodle cloth is ready and waiting for diagonal Montenegrin practice!

Hope your week’s going well.


Thursday, March 9, 2017


Last weekend was great! I took Friday off as a mental health day and after we ran a few errands that morning, Wonderful Husband encouraged me to stitch. A lot! He also encouraged me to spend a fair amount of time stitching on both Saturday and Sunday so I made good progress on Jane Turner – all the spiral trellis bumps are finished (woohooo!) and I really got going on the sections filled with plain trellis.

Oh, and those spiral bumps are all in the charted colors - gray petals, dark green petals, yellow-green centers. Don't really look much like flowers now, do they? Oh well...

Also made a discovery: had thought it important to keep tension quite loose for plain vanilla trellis, but after looking at Mary Corbet’s video (LINK) a couple of times, it was clear that my stitches were too loose and my trellis rows overly large. Was tempted to clip and remove the pale blue leaves but then decided that could be hazardous to the outlining so I’ve let the slightly sloppy leaves be.

Got it right in this part right – making smaller stitches and pulling them tighter (though not nearly as tight as in the spirals). Doesn’t it look cool? Uh, all but the one stitch that's out of kilter about in the middle of that bottom diagonal.

Remember my lost needle? Thought you might be amused to see it. This is also a compare-and-contrast picture – the needle on the left is my favorite, well-used, slightly bent, old DMC needle. The one in the middle is a Colonial brand (what my former LNS sold after the DMC ones stopped being good) and the one on the right is a Lance needle from Wyndham Needleworks (defunct online LNS in case you don’t know it – though they are selling some recently discovered stock on ebay and I plan to contact them to ask about needle availability).

Anywho, can you see the difference in the size – especially the width – of the eyes? Somehow the photo doesn’t make the difference appear as drastic as when I’m holding them – seems a huge difference when I’m threading or stitching.


Monday, February 27, 2017

TUSAL - February 2017

The explanation for the Totally Useless Stitch A Long is at Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog. CLICK HERE for all the details.

This month’s orts are (again) all from Jane Turner since I haven’t yet finished Band 8.

Not as many days checked off on my silly stitching days calendar this month - only 9, but that's not too bad.

Working on slow stuff right now – tricky or complicated stitching that demands a lot of focus. It’s pretty cool to watch the spiral trellis “bumps” take shape. I’ve only done two rows on the lower one, but you can see the spiral lines forming.

See those orangey flower things on each side of the in-process spiral? I think it’s very cool the way the two squares make a center with points all around it, but that detail is all going to be lost – the center gets a spiral trellis bump, and then every other petal gets filled with spiral trellis also. Some of them in rather odd colors.

It’s tempting to change those in some way - such as misreading the symbol in some of those petals. ;) Then I could stitch them in the peach color rather than the very grayish light taupe - the symbols *are* quite similar. And my Jane is already an adaptation rather than a reproduction as I’ve changed a couple of the thread colors because they couldn’t be seen on the ground fabric. But the rule-following “do bee” in me can be hard to shout down. Ah, well. Will see what fancy strikes when I start stitching the petals.

Band 8:


Probably would have had more progress if I hadn’t lost my needle last weekend and spent hours since looking for it. One of my favorite needles (of course), the *old* DMC brand with the very skinny eye that holds threads snugly instead of letting them slip out every time you tug just a bit. Seems they’re no longer made ... or not made that way anymore – phooey.

Dug through the thread box, carefully went through all the pages in my pattern folder, and the stitchy bag, and every bit of clothing I was wearing. Gingerly slipped my hand into the crevice between the chair arm and seat. Repeated all steps above three ... or four or even five times. Ran the vacuum thoroughly listening for that telltale pting! Nothing. Have I mentioned I’ve never lost a needle? Pins yes, needles, nope – always searched until I found ‘em. But that might just be because if I left ‘em, I would certainly find them later – in my foot!

After spending all my stitching time searching for the AWOL needle, I finally, reluctantly concluded the thing had been eaten by the chair or turned into smoke. Failure – ugh.

What practically jumped out of the thread box the first time I opened it yesterday? Yeah, guess my slightly bent, missing needle had had enough vacation. Sigh.

Happy stitching, all!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ah, that’s better

Thank you all for the suggestions and comments regarding my cry for help (previous post)!

Obviously the whole how-should-I-do-this thing was occupying a goodly amount of brain space because it even showed up in a dream. My dream self must have far more stitching time that I do, and was unrolling a really looooonnng piece of linen about 18 inches wide upon which was stitched sampler after sampler, and as I was unrolling the thought in my dream head was well, I knew what to do then.

In my dreams – yes, exactly. Funny, no?

In real life, I first tried safety pins to corral the rolled up top (and also the yet-to-be-stitched-upon bottom) linen, but pinning and unpinning can be unwieldy and I have a track record for sticking myself – don’t want to bleed on Jane!

Finally remembered a little tool I’d gotten to use when sewing on quilt binding – at approximately the same time Margaret was emailing me to suggest trying them! (Thanks again, Margaret!)

Ta dah!

Not only do they hold the linen securely, they’re easy to put on and to reposition.

Somewhere in my meanderings around the web, I saw a sampler in process with one side rolled up and held by a clip that looked like a pair of hands (or maybe gloves). Looked like it was made of brass, I think. Can I find it now to show you? Of course not and I’m sorry about that cause it looked like such a neat thing.

Have had several good stitching days recently and have gotten most of the satin stitching in band 8 finished.

Next step: spiral trellis bumps.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

A bit of progress … and, I’d like your thoughts

The Holbein part Jane’s band 8 is complete! Now that the puzzle is done (finding good “paths” so the stitching is double-sided), I’ve begun filling things in, but just barely. Might have enough progress to show you next week.

Band 8:

Now, can I pick your brain for a bit? Though I’m pretty sure I used a hoop or maybe a frame a million years ago when doing crewel work, I’ve always done cross stitch and counted thread stitching in hand, rolling the fabric to get to the current spot. Normally there’s no problem since most of what I stitch is fairly small.

Not so with Jane! The bottom of this band is 12 inches from the beginning, 14 from the top edge of the linen. And I’m only at the halfway point. (The stitching is 7 inches wide, in case you’re curious.)

When she waits in my stitching bag, Jane is rolled up. The unused linen stays pretty much rolled up while I work, but the stitched part has gotten to the point that it really flops around. Perhaps this is more of an issue with Jane because all the specialty stitching that fills in the flowers and things uses considerably more thread than plain cross stitch – relatively speaking, the stitched part is heavy.

In trying to keep control of the top, I tend to be rolling/folding/scrunching it up and tucking a bit of the top edge into the rolled part in my right hand.

My worry is that I’m going to mangle earlier stitching, or something even worse. Other than “go buy a scroll frame, silly,” do you have an idea of how to better control the top while working? Who else stitches in hand? How do you control larger pieces?

I appreciate your opinions!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

TUSAL, January 2017

For anyone who needs an explanation, TUSAL would mean Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long. Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog has further details HERE.

Jo at Serendipitous Stitching empties her big ort jar for the new year, but I thought I’d just share a picture of mine (which is about 4 1/2 inches tall tp the top of the lid).

Feeling pretty good about the pile of orts this month, probably because I did a fair amount of stitching (for me). And since TUSAL is kind of a silly thing already, I’m going to share my stitching days calendar, which is a *highly* silly thing.

Jane Turner supplied all the orts this time around.

Oh, and Jane’s orts don’t go into the big jar after each month’s new moon – she gets her very own small one till she’s finished.

Jane’s band 8 – nearly done with the double running stitch!

And Jane in her entirety - sorry the top is sort of drifting away.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

"Try it, you’ll like it!"

That’s what Daughter said about the white chicken chili recipe she found on Pinterest (and hey, wasn't that an alka seltzer commercial??). Having cooked up a pot of white chicken chili years ago and being incredibly disappointed, I was not excited but Husband was quite interested.

Discovered two differences from the years-ago recipe: 1. It was easy. 2. It tastes fantastic!

ETA: Blog post with the original recipe is HERE.

We completely left out the heavy cream, and we used low fat cream cheese. This makes a thinner chili than most tomato-based chilis with burger meat, more like a thick soup.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Harley and friends

This is Harley, so named for the enormously loud purr she had as a kitten (yes, like a motorcycle … okay, so her name’s not very original). She still has a lovely purr but somehow it’s not nearly so loud now that she’s grown up.

Harl loves to watch the outdoor visitors, but she has been an indoor cat all her life and is happy to be where it’s warm and dry. When there’s lots of outdoor activity, she races from window to window to window trying not to miss anything.

The perfect winter spot for her to both watch outside and stay toasty is right beside the front door where she can sit on the heat register as she gazes out the window.

Lakota likes that there’s a window on each side of the door.

Sometimes everyone’s on the same schedule.

But she missed her visitor the other day. The size of the prints suggests this was one of the large squirrels (unlike where I grew up, there are two sizes of squirrel here – one barely larger than the chipmunks and then the seriously big guys).

The prints went close to the window on one side of the door, then crossed the doormat and went right up to the other window before scampering away. Maybe next time, Harl…


Monday, January 2, 2017

Plans? Good intentions? More like pipe dreams…

So if all your friends jumped off a cliff…. Did you hear that one a lot when you were a kid? I sure did. But in this case, I don’t think following the crowd is at all harmful. ;)

Stitchy plans/hopes for 2017:

Finish Jane Turner. This is seriously ambitious for me since I’ve already been working on her for over a year, but if I can manage to stitch at least two or three times a week, maybe I’ve got a shot at it.

Now, since I decided to treat each band (or pair of smaller bands, if they go smoothly) as a finish, what to stitch in between?

Here’s what's kitted up and in my other stitching bag.

Left to right, top to bottom, these are:

1. Welcome Berry Basket (Catherine Theron)
2. Maidens of the Sea (With My Needle)
3. Snowman Ornament from 2000 (Homespun Elegance)
4. Wildflower Hearts (Caron Collection freebie)
5. Celtic Jewel bookmark (Textile Heritage … I think – set aside ages ago)
6. Acorn Sampler Sewing Case (With My Needle)
7. Needleworker (Little House Needleworks)
8. Sampler Pincushion from 1995 (Tidewater Sampler Guild)
9. Shaker Village ornament (Little House Needleworks)
10. Pincushion companion to Castleton Sampler (Earth Threads)
11. Faith ornament (Little House Needleworks)
12. 1840 Town House Sampler (Catherine Theron)

Rotations have never really worked for me, but I’m thinking I’ll start either Needleworker or the 1840 Town House Sampler ... or maybe one of the LHN ornies, and working for a week or two when I finish the current large band on Jane.

I’d also like to give myself several finishing days to take care of the stack of stitched ornaments, and maybe even the (second) Merry Cox sampler sewing case. Really don’t want to admit how long some of these have been waiting…

(not this one – the *other* one [from the Spirit of Cross Stitch video] that’s the same style, which I couldn't find a picture of)

And what’s next when Jane is complete? First, something relatively simple, perhaps Mary Goodburn from the Examplarery, which my wonderful husband surprised me with at Christmas. Aren't the colors bright and fun?

… and then probably one of the Scarlet Letter’s Balch School reproductions, Betsy Davis or Betsy Manchester. Both are in the stash and ready to go - anyone have thoughts on which one’s better to do first?

Happy stitching in 2017, all!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

TUSAL - December 2016

TUSAL, what’s that? Check Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog HERE for an explanation of the Totally Useless Stitch Along.

Oh dear, the holidays have done me in. My poor little film container is completely empty, not one tiny snippet of thread does it contain. I did shorten two pairs of pants and I guess I could count those thread bits, but … nah.

Probably the only thing I really could count this month is crumbs.

Cookie crumbs…

… cake crumbs …

... and were pie crust crumbs and cranberry orange nut bread crumbs and apple cake crumbs, too.

But no orts.