Thursday, January 10, 2019

TUSAL January 2019

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

Late ort report....

This tiny pile of orts is from two days of stitching time – my first since the end of June!

I’m working on Catherine Theron’s 1840 Town House Sampler.  It's finally starting to look like something now that there are some strawberries on that vine!

Happy stitching, every one, I’m so glad you stopped by to visit me today!


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Life after Jane

A few days ago, just before the end of the year, I worked on stitching for the first time since the end of June.

You didn’t stitch in HOW long?  What in the world have you been doing?

I sort of disappeared.  After Jane was finished I ordered her frame, and then mounted her and got her hung on the wall in the living room (more about all that later).  And then Wonderful Husband declared it was time for a Break From Stitching as he needed my assistance on a house project. 

Make that multiple house projects.

(Warning:  this post is long and a bit rambling and is RL stuff – no stitching involved, so feel free to skip.)

The first few projects went quickly…. 

Painting the kitchen ceiling and walls.  Wonderful Husband did all the painting - my job was to keep track of what had been painted and what still needed to be done (it's extremely difficult to keep your place when the new paint is essentially the same color as the old stuff, especially on the ceiling).

Then it was on to repairing damaged plaster in the back bedroom closet - caused by leak between tiles in tub surround on opposite side of wall (never in my life have I seen tiles set so close together that there’s virtually no grout line – guess the original tile guy who worked on building this house in the 60’s didn’t realize, or perhaps didn’t care, that the grout helps keep the tiles in place?).  Anyway, cutting out damaged plaster, fitting shims and a fussy-cut piece of sheetrock into place, mudding, sanding and painting all went fairly quickly.
Next up was touching up the paint above those minimally-grouted tiles in the bathroom.  The walls looked like when the previous owner had the bathroom painted, nobody bothered to clean/wipe down the walls first – ugh.  And some of the spots looked like what happens when you paint over joint compound dust. 

Right you are – that touching up turned into repainting the entire room.

Then there was the water (ice dam) damage to the faux beam between the dining room and family room ceilings.  Roof long since repaired, but it took us quite a while to figure out how to fix this:

Not knowing what was underneath the damage, we opted to remove stray bits and then cover rather than trying to cut out and replace that part of the ceiling.  Repair involved masonite, PVC trim and lots of clamps to hold things while we got them in just the right place - in other words, lots of fussy work.  We're happy with the result.

After that came a much bigger project.  One that I didn’t want us to tackle ourselves, but Wonderful Husband twisted my arm made a deal with me:  WE would repair/fix up/significantly improve the back porch, and then we would have a CONTACTOR cut a hole through the wall in the second floor room that we created out of half the attic (there was no realistic or reasonable way to tie that room into the existing HVAC system, so it needs a wall unit air conditioner for summer and a heater for winter).

When we were considering buying this house, the screened in back porch spawned a charming daydream in my head – sitting outside-but-inside with my coffee on weekend mornings.  We’ve lived here over seven years now … do you think I’ve had my coffee out there even once?  Hahahahaha….  The porch quickly became storage for the lawnmower and various gardening things.  Sigh.  That’s what happens when the house doesn’t have a basement and Wonderful Husband claims spare space in the garage for his shop.

The porch is a little odd.  There was siding (well, sort of), and painted wood, low-end indoor/outdoor carpet and a screen door.  Oh, and our former next-door neighbors told us it was thrown up hastily - not well built at all.  Wonderful Husband had decided that it should have windows rather than just be screened, and of course we both felt that painted wood was a pain in the neck and needed to be replaced with Azek (well, Home Depot’s imitation Azek, which is considerably cheaper).

So we measured and thought and poked and measured and thought some more.  We discussed windows with the window guy at Home Depot and eventually made some decisions.  And then we began removing the painted wood, which was in bad shape because we’d ignored it for several years, knowing we were going to be fixing up the porch.

Oh, my, the neighbors weren’t kidding.  Obviously there’s a better way to construct a screened in porch, but the way ours was put together, the screening funneled rainwater into the interior of the porch walls.  Can you say rotting chipboard?  Ugh!!!

If we were younger or if the kids still lived with us, we probably would have gone about the repairs in a different fashion, but we decided the way to get it done was to work on one side at a time.  We ordered windows for the south side and, crossing our fingers, researched a way to repair water-damaged chipboard.  Amazingly, it can be done – waterproof epoxy will seep into the nooks and crannies and build up that spongy stuff, making it solid again.  We started with little tubes but quickly moved to jars of a marine grade paste epoxy.  

Epoxy repairs (both kinds shown here!):

If I’d had a chance to post orts, they would have looked like this:

Oh, did I mention that even though Wonderful Husband and I are pretty good at Harry Homeowner fix-up things, we’d never installed windows?  Or that the windows we ordered for the porch are a bit on the large side, being about feet tall?  Or that each and every one of those windows was a slightly different size because we were fitting them into the existing spaces?

Yes, we are crazy.

But by late September we had installed the storm door and all 14 windows.  And then we had a torrential downpour (native Erie-ites refer to this as “a bit of rain”), and were frustrated / annoyed / humiliated that water came in on the north side of the porch.  After a fair bit of standing in the pouring rain staring, we determined that the problem was NOT our window installation (whew!), but rather that the small soffit on that side of the porch was angled backwards from what it should have been, creating another funnel-the-water-inside situation. 

Thankfully, that problem has also been fixed, and what remains to be done on the porch (in late spring or in summer) is putting up exterior trim to cover the window “fins” and then having new flooring put in.

So what about October, November and December?  The final quarter of 2018 was basically eaten by medical issues.  After a lot of hemming and hawing, discussion, research, and nail biting, Wonderful Husband and I decided that I should have hip replacement surgery now (November – right after Thanksgiving) rather than toughing it out with shots and waiting a couple of years.  The biggest factor in this decision has to do with insurance and the fact that my doctor would be out of network after the end of the year (also that if I waited, I’d have to have the surgery done in the *other* hospital, rather than the one where I work).

And since he would have to be taking care of me, WH figured that right away (October) was the right time for him to have the meniscus tears in his knee fixed (same doctor, same issues as regarding my hip).

So I was figuring I’d get home from the hospital and after a few days I’d be stitching.  I’d be off work for five to six weeks – what a gift of time to stitch, right? 

Nope.  The days have sort of melted away.  Physical therapy exercises can be exhausting.  Healing can be exhausting.  But I’m getting around with my cane pretty well right now, and can do without it to lurch around the bedroom and bathroom a la Walter Brennan.

Did not do the New-Year-New-Start thing – I want to finish the small Catherine Theron sampler I used as a relief project when Jane was too much.  Will let myself have a new start when that’s finished.

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble on, and my apologies if I've bored you to tears!


Friday, July 13, 2018

TUSAL July 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

The Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 11 stitching days since TUSAL check in last month.  All the orts are from Jane Turner – and that’s the last time I’ll say that!  

What I kept thinking of as not-quite-orts - threads a bit too long to really be considered orts - were tucked into one of the sections of my project thread box so I could use them when I needed to do just a small number of stitches.  I sorted through them and the ones laid out straight will be wound back onto the appropriate bobbins while the rest join Jane's other orts.

Here are ALL of Jane's orts since I started working on her in 2015.  Rats - I forgot to take a picture of them in their pretty little jar.  Oh well, they're all together in the big ort jar now.

For anyone who hasn’t already seen Miss Jane in all her glory:

Jane provided all this month’s orts because I haven’t stitched since I finished her – that’s TWO ENTIRE WEEKS!!  (*gasp*)  Besides going to work, I’ve been reading, weeding, and working on a couple house projects with Wonderful Husband. 

And trying to figure out what to stitch next.

Happy stitching, everybody, I’m so glad you stopped by to visit me today!


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Three years

Jane Turner has been my companion, my friend, and my tormentor for the past three years. 

On June 28 in 2015, I took the first hesitant stitch, attempting Holbein, aka double running, stitch for the very first time.  One could argue that the starting date should be adjusted since the instructions directed using two strands of thread for ALL stitching … which made the double running motifs in the first band look like misshapen blobs.  I frogged first the peach flowers and – after stitching all the peach flower outlines with one thread – removed the dark blue ones also.

I recorded start and finish dates for each band as my original expectation was that I’d want to take breaks between bands and stitch something else, maybe an ornament or scissor fob or some other small thing.  But that happened only once since with each band finish I was excited about starting the next one.

Wednesday night, three years to the day after starting, Jane was complete!  This was not planned as I was really hoping to finish last weekend, but when it got to be the 27th, I was determined to finish, no matter what the clock said!  Even though I went and ordered her frame yesterday (thank goodness for coupons!), I’m still having trouble believing she’s done, that I she’s not waiting for me to do more stitching.

Sixteen bands and 14 different stitches*, Jane measures 7 inches wide by just under 25 long on 36 count linen.  I had not begun using my Silly Stitching Calendar when I started Jane or I could add up how many days I worked on her … but that would probably be way too obsessive, wouldn’t it?  Probably someone who has the luxury of being able to stitch for an hour or two each and every day could have completed this sampler in six months or maybe less, but I am a slow stitcher who usually stitches three or four times a week so I guess three years isn’t too bad, even if my 2017 goal was to finish before the turn of the year.

And here she is.

Closer shots of the large bands with the twinned brands that bracket them:

Because Jane filled in so many of the motifs in the various bands (bands that are not filled in on samplers similar enough to Jane's to have been taught by the same instructor), it’s fun to speculate about why – was she a really fast stitcher?  Was her family well off and could afford more silk threads, and even a metallic thread for her name and date?  Was she simply an overachiever, a 17th century Type A?  

I think it's interesting that Jane used black thread blended with a very fine silver metallic thread for her name and the date - there is no black (or metallic) anywhere else in the sampler.  

Thank you for happy dancing with me, and for indulging me by reading to the end of this very long post! 


* Here’s a list of the stitches used in Jane Turner sampler – the ones I knew before starting are bolded.

Holbein / double running
Spiral trellis
Encroaching satin
Detached buttonhole
Colonial knots (my addidtion – couldn’t manage that large flower and petals in spiral trellis)
Stem stitch
Marking cross stitch
Cross stitch over one thread

Thursday, June 28, 2018

She’s done! She’sdoneshe’sdoneshe’sdone!!!!

I’ve happy danced so much I’m exhausted!  I should have more pictures and better words this weekend (when there will hopefully be decent light for pictures and I can be coherent again).



Thursday, June 14, 2018

TUSAL June 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.     

Even though I took pictures on the correct day, I’m late posting this month’s TUSAL – last night I just *had* to stitch rather than crop pictures and type and edit.  The Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 21 stitching days since TUSAL check in.  And all the orts (again) are from working on Jane Turner.

I’ve hit bottom!

See that last blue line, the short one in the center?  That’s the very bottom of Jane!  Here, take a closer look.

It's hard to settle down and stitch, I'm so excited!

To bring you up to date, since my May Ort Report, I’ve finished the wide Montenegrin band …

… and the reprise of the narrow Montenegrin band.

I’ve learned how to do marking cross stitch – a reversible stitch (when done properly, that is) that I believe got its name because it was used to mark the household linens.  The instructions said the stitch can be worked from any of the four sides, but I wanted to insisted on making sure the top of the Xs would ALL go in the same direction - between the top left and bottom right corners (the way my plain vanilla cross stitches do).  I’m going to say that's the reason I’m having difficulty making the letters completely reversible.

Not too bad.  And I'm getting better.  But when you look at the back, it’s pretty clear my stitching would not have been good enough to mark those sheets and things!

Happy stitching, everybody – thanks for visiting today!