Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Samplers and Quakers

I always dither about framing, but I think I've discovered a wonderful framer in Pittsburgh, who is not only reasonable, but also has a great eye for what goes with what.  I think I love her.  And I think I'm going to declare 2014-2015 "The Framing Years".  There are things happening in my life now that make me want to clear out closets and boxes anyway, so I'd like to stop spending money on stash (because it goes into a box) and start spending it on framing (because it stays out of the box)

Well....that's my plan.  I'll let you know how it works out.  Because I have other things I need to spend money on in 2015.  Like a wedding.  Or two.

Here's the Jan Houtmann Tree of Life sampler I worked on for 5 years.  2007-2012, to be exact, then two years to get up the gumption to frame it.   It's on 36 ct. white linen, with Au Ver A Soie silk. I can't remember the color numbers and to tell you the truth, their dye lots vary so much that knowing the numbers is useless.  Let's call it red and light red.

And boy, did I ever beat the heck out of that pattern.  Have you ever had a chart that is totally unusable when you've finished with it?  I kept the fabric and thread pristine, but the chart looks like it's been through a war.

That's a stone wall in the interior of my home, and that's where it'll hang.  But right now it's on the floor.


Here's a cute little Quaker you've seen before, but now it's framed and on the wall in my entryway.  It's a Goode Huswife design:  Quaker Four Corners, with HDF BeRedded silk on PTP Doubloon 32 ct. Jobelan.



And this has been around for a while, too.  I love the mat and frame choices my framer gave me.  Really perfect for this sweet little alphabet.  It's La D Da's "ABCD" done on 40 ct linen with Belle Soie Mer Blue.




Finally, here's my blue Quaker Samplings, by Ellen Chester of With My Needle.  I'll bet it's the first Quaker design I purchased long, long ago.  I loved every minute of stitching this, and I made some minor adaptations, pulling out some of the hearts and adding my family's initials and the year instead.  I think the design used Belle Soie Chester's Blue, but I chose Blue Lagoon silk. (Colorworks silk now).  I'll be sending this to the framer's very soon.



Ok, now I've stitched a red Quaker, a blue Quaker, a rust Quaker and a green Quaker.  What's next?


I'm thinking gold.  Or purple.  But probably gold....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tools for the post menopausal

I don't know about you all...but I have SO MUCH to remember these days.  My memory is usually pretty decent, but sometimes it just gets overloaded.  They say that being post-menopausal doesn't help and maybe that's true.  Personally, I think maybe it's not so much because the synapses are so old...but because at this stage of my life I always have so many things that I need to squeeze into a very short time.

You would think that having the internet at my fingertips most of the time would solve the problem, but in some ways, it also creates the problem.  

Used to be that I chose books by what jumped out at me from the library shelves.  Now I take a list of books recommended for me by several different websites.  I don't want to forget a single one.

The meals I cooked were tried and true and usually the result of supermarket weekly specials.  Now I take lists of ingredients for dishes I've seen on Pinterest, Facebook and recipe websites.  (Except I'm not such a good cook and sometimes I wonder who I think I'm kidding)

I'd go shopping for a new needlework project by visiting shops and browsing stitched models and choosing what was available (because even back then my closest shop was 50 miles away).  Now I go to a shop armed with lists for needlework I've seen on your blogs.  (I'm blaming you all for my crazy spending this year).

And obviously my brain can't deal with so much clutter.  Especially if I'm going grocery shopping, visiting the library and going to a needlework store all on the same day.  My head might explode.  Luckily, I've found some great list and list-type apps that I can always have handy on my phone, my tablet or my computer.  So I thought I'd share a couple of them with you, just in case some days your head feels like it might explode, too.

I think the most important thing about a note/list app is its ability to be used on all of your devices, even if they aren't all using the same operating systems.  For instance, my home PC, my laptop and my work PC all run on Windows products.  My phone is an Apple product.  My tablet is an Android product.  Not all apps will work with all of those systems, so keep that in mind as you shop for apps - you want something that will run on ALL of those.


Sometimes I want to keep a list handy for a long or indefinite length of time, like my friends' favorite colors, books I want to read, verses I'd like to use in a sampler some day, quantities of food I've bought to feed large groups of people.   When that's the case, I use Evernote.  I can look at and edit my notes from my phone, my tablet or my PC and it's super useful.

For instance, I can be out and about and a blog post idea will come to mind.  I can type it into the Evernote app on my phone.  Then, 2 weeks, a month, 3 months, 4 months later, when I'm sitting at my home computer and searching for something to write about, I can log into Evernote and read whatever idiotic ideas I thought I'd like to remember!


Sometimes, things you want to remember are simply WAY beyond using a note or a list.  It needs its own file...or even its own folder.  Maybe you keep a spreadsheet of the threads and fibers you have in your stash.  Maybe you keep a big, giant list of all the charts you own in a Word document.  Maybe you belong to a stitching club and you like to keep your club-member directory handy. I think Dropbox is a perfect place to keep those things.  Put your file into Dropbox.  You can see (and even edit) your file from anywhere.  (Except if it's a PDF.  Most of us can't edit those anyway)


For quick, on-the-fly notes, there are several Sticky note apps out there.  Like if you are headed to a stitching retreat and you need to bring a couple snacks.  Once the weekend is over, you're done with the note.



I still haven't come across a sticky note program that works well across all my devices, but I since I use the note for such a short time, I haven't really looked hard for one.  And of course, there is always the iPhone note app.  With sticky notes, you can see several notes at the same time.  Not so easy with iPhone notes.



So...that's my two cents on how to remember stuff you don't want to forget.

And as for stitching stuff - mostly I've been working on one of Ellen Chester's With Thy Needle Quaker designs.  I'm using Colorworks (aka Belle Soie) Blue Lagoon silk on 32 ct lambswool linen. I have to say...I'm enjoying every single stitch.  I'm also super excited to personalize this for my family.  That will be the really fun part.


I'm off to a stitching retreat this weekend, in the beautiful Ohio Amish country.  Who knows...maybe I'll stop socializing long enough to make more progress in this sampler?  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hello Friends!  So...yes, it's been a while.  It seems like so many things get in the way of my visits here.

First of all, there's LIFE.  Just plain ol' everyday life that can suck up your time and creativity like nobody's business.

But I managed blog visits before, didn't I?  So I guess for my second excuse, I'll mention Facebook.  It's very easy to trade in the quick hit of a Facebook post for the meatier version of a blog post.  Except for this...I've made great friends and strong connections through blogging.  Facebook?  No.  Not really.  In fact, no new friends at all.  So I want to drastically reduce the number of times I look at Facebook, and spend more time creating blog posts.

Maybe you're feeling the same way?  If you are and you're thinking of giving your old blog a good kick in the pants, read this article, aptly named, Why Blogging is Better Than Facebook.  I like all of Cathy's reasons, but I like the Get Creative paragraph best.  

Now all I need to do is follow through.  As many of you know, that's not my strongest suit...

Anyways (or Anyhows, if you're from Pittsburgh), the last time we met here it was mid April.  Since then it has been an absolutely gorgeous summer in Pittsburgh.  Dave and I have enjoyed two of our favorite summertime things:  Outdoor concerts and baseball games.  Even though our Pirates seem to be spiraling downward, there are always the Pierogi races to give you a lift.

Best between-inning entertainment around!

I've also kept stitching through the summer.  Last year Dave and I bought a home in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh - a cozy little townhouse off the beaten path, and I've entertained stitching friends there a few times.  We've had lovely days with lots of laughs, and I've even accomplished some stitching.
Finished in February, but framed this summer

La D Da freebie - Flag City

Finally finished and framed our anniversary sampler!  Moira Blackburn's Scottish Love sampler, stitched on PTP Doubloon.
In family news, it looks like our family will be growing soon, with BOTH our children announcing their engagements.  We couldn't be more pleased!  Weddings are planned for summer 2015 and winter 2016.  It seems like the distant future, but it's really not that distant if you think of it in "stitcher's time".  (Thanks to Nikki for coining that phrase for me!)  I think I have a design picked for my son and his wife-to-be (very cool and non-traditional), but my daughter's design is puzzling me at the moment.  I think it's one of those times when a design simply has to hit you between the eyes, you know?

Sounds like a good excuse to go shopping, doesn't it?

Till next time,
Lee

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stitch night topics

One of the things I enjoy about my stitch nights is listening to the conversations as they swirl around the room.  We talk about so many things - some serious, some silly.  But it's always interesting.

It's interesting because we are all different people, living in different situations and with different sensibilities.  Some of those differences might divide us in other environments, but not when we're in a stitching room!  So conversations flow and it's never dull.

And sometimes we re-visit old conversations.

For instance, one of our stitchers recently retired.  In the months leading up to her retirement date, she was wondering what it would be like when she didn't have to dress for work every day.  And since I am a fountain of unsolicited advise, I told her about the Fly Lady philosophy:   Schlepping around at home all day in slippers or bare feet makes you feel less ambitious.  You should put your shoes on every day because it will make you more productive.

Well, Nancy retired and then went South for a couple of winter months, so I didn't see her for a while.  But we were sitting across from each other last night and she told me that I was wrong with my shoe advice.  "Lee", she said, "It wasn't about wearing shoes.  It was about putting on a bra.  I was much more productive if I put on my bra."

Hmmm.  I think she's right!  Putting the girls where they belong tells me that I'm ready for the day...And setting them free at the end of the day tells me that I'm DONE.

What about you?  What piece of clothing or accessory tells you you're ready to get down to business?


Monday, April 07, 2014

Rounding the corner towards 60

I had a birthday last week.  It was Number 56.  There's something about passing the midpoint of a decade that gives me pause.  Sometimes it's super depressing.  Turning 36 sucked because there was something about turning 40 that blew me away.  Sometimes it's fun, like when I turned 46 and knew I had four years to plan a blow-out 50th birthday and 25th anniversary party.

But 56?  It was completely unremarkable emotionally.  Is it because 60 doesn't feel like a milestone?  Or am I just not seeing the milestones that lay ahead? Dave and I are already partly retired, both of us working part-time, so full retirement doesn't feel like a big deal.  I don't see weddings or grandchildren on the horizon.  But even if they were...those aren't my milestones.   So I guess my goal at 56 is to coast towards 60 and hope it's just that.... an easy coast.

Anyways....I had a wonderful birthday month.  It started with a fantastic trip with stitching buddies to Woodlawn Plantation to see the annual needlework exhibit.  And to do some shopping at In Stitches, of course!  I wish I had some show photos for you....but the folks at the needlwork show are very stringent with their No Photographs policy. And although I don't understand why - they never put photos of the winners online. I'll tell you, if I had won a ribbon, I'd want it plastered all over the Internets!

Then Dave and I took a 10 day break from a never-ending Pennsylvania winter with a trip to Florida.  It was just what we needed and we enjoyed every single minute of it.

We were home in time for a week long celebration of my birthday.  Let's see...there was a Robert Cray concert to kick things off.  Dinner and a comedy show with a good friend one night, an excellent Italian dinner with my husband another night, and then finishing a fun weekend by going to the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day.

My mailbox celebrated my birthday, too, bringing these gifts from my dear-heart of a friend, Sue in Kansas.


Here they are a little closer.  A lovely LaDDa wooden box

An extra special cake


A project bag, and Sue stitched the sunflower onto it!  Does this girl know me, or what?


As for my stitching?  I've been stitching small stuff through the month.  I think you've seen one of these LK Flip It Bits - January - already.  But last month I finished February.  And I finished my name tag to wear to one of my stitching group meetings.  I'm really enjoying the Flip Its...They're easy and relaxing.  



Some close-ups



And that's about it...till next time!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blog Stats

Do you ever check your blog stats?  I try not to get caught up in that trap, because I know that writing a personal blog isn't about popularity and numbers.  But sometimes I'm curious.

So recently I looked at my blog stats and in particular at my most popular posts - in terms of page views.  Hmm.  The statistics really surprised me.

I've written 1050 posts, and the most viewed post of my blog was just last summer, when I wrote about our trip to Myrtle Beach.  Really??  I didn't write a single thing about stitching and there's not a even one photo of stitching, but it had 2214 hits.  I think the lesson is:  If you want lots of hits on a post, just write Myrtle Beach in the title.  Maybe the term "Flying Cloud" got hits from Airstream enthusiasts, too?

The second most popular post I've ever written was under 30 words and posted on January 23, 2011 when the Steelers were in a playoff game. I also added a photo of a Terrible Towel.  That had 878 views, which seems measly when compared 2,214, but still....

So if I'm ever feeling unloved in the blog world, I'll write a post and title it:  "Driving the Airstream Flying Cloud Trailer to Myrtle Beach While Waving the Steelers' Terrible Towel".

Monday, February 24, 2014

More work on the Love Sampler

The weekend retreat to Villa Maria was the perfect time to make some progress on my Moira Blackburn Scottish Love Sampler.  You know the saying, "Eat. Sleep. Stitch"?  It's pretty close. Throw in "Walk" for some of us, and "Nap" for others, and lots of gabbing and laughing.  That's kind of it in a nutshell.

As you can see, I'm getting close to a finish here.  




Most of my weekend was spent in the lower right corner.  That border takes a crazy long time to stitch! 



And also in the theme of LOVE, it's so interesting that every person who had a comment about my Watson vs Sherlock as a boyfriend question chose...Watson.  Well I'll be darned.  I wonder what that says about us?