Saturday, February 26, 2011


I am happy to report that I have finished The Richmond Sampler!  I've been attending Jeannine's Sampler Seminar (aka Jeannine's Gathering of Embroiderers) for 15 years and this is the first project that I've ever done any serious work on once I got home.  (I could make an entire blog post on that subject!).  I really loved this piece and it was also not too intimidating - plenty of variety to keep it interesting but not so challenging that I would put it down and never pick it up again.  I don't have turbo needles like some of you - this took an entire year - but it is finally finished.  I had set a deadline of today so I could take it to the framer, since I am in Madison this weekend and won't be back for a couple of months.  I barely made it but I stayed up until 3 a.m. and got it done.  (And yes, my husband thinks I'm crazy).  It's a pretty big piece so it was not an inexpensive frame job (trust me, DH doesn't want to know the details of that either!) but I think it will look great once it's framed. 

Here are a few photos:

The house (I did a lot of those windows last night!):

The sunflowers:

Some of the animals:

Monday, February 14, 2011

So Close But Yet So Far

Hello everyone - it's been a long time but I finally have made some blog-worthy progress on The Richmond Sampler.  I'm on the home stretch, but there is still a ways to go.  I'm hoping to get it done in two weeks so that I can take it to my wonderful framer when I go up to Madison.  I just have some of the grass and animals and the house to finish up.  The good news is that all of the dreaded over-one is complete, including the horses and riders in the lawn, which were a bit challenging.  Now the rest is just a lot of stitching.  Here is a photo of the center of the sampler showing what still needs to be completed.

Here is a close-up of the horses and riders:

Just think, if I actually finish in two weeks then there will be two blog posts in one month, something almost unheard of !

Mom and I just returned from a wonderful week in Williamsburg attending Jeannine's Gathering of Embroiderers.  This is the 15th year in a row that I have attended the seminar, and Mom has been there with me most years.  Getting there proved to be a bit of a challenge this time due to "The Blizzard of 2011" but we finally made it after three canceled flights and 24" of snow.  While it wasn't exactly warm in Virginia, it was definitely better than back home!

Mom and I took two classes from Margriet Hogue and enjoyed both of them immensely.  The first is a beautiful Balch sampler by Cynthia Burr.  Our class was full of friends, some that we only see once a year, and it was so nice to visit with these ladies while we stitched.  Of course I forgot my camera, but my blogging friend Valerie took a wonderful photo of the model, which you can see on her blog, A Shenandoah Sampler.  There is some counted work which needs to be completed first, then we have a large tracing diagram to insert all of the outlines for the surface embroidery.  Cynthia is a big project and I will be glad if I can get the counted work done this year.  I see an investment in a light box this year to do the tracing.  A lot of the counted work is over one - here is my (minimal) progress on the statehouse at the top:

Our second class was a Providence, RI sampler by Esther Coggeshall.  This is a much less intimidating piece, although it does have a bit of a challenge with the tree outlined in stem stitch and filled in with long-armed cross.  Here is a photo of the model:

I made a little more progress on Esther - Mom and I had two free days to stitch and shop in Williamsburg and I was able to get the green border in so now I'm ready to work on the flowers (after Richmond is finished, of course). 

Mom and I took full advantage of the seminar and Williamsburg, with a visit to the DeWitt-Wallace Museum gift shop, the wonderful bookstore at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's Center, shopping in the seminar boutique (beautiful Shaker boxes and a cool new portable LED Ott light that only weighs a pound and runs on batteries) and meals with some good friends at some of our favorite restaurants.  I think the french onion soup, chicken and mushroom crepes and bottomless chocolate mousse at The Blue Talon Bistro might be one of my favorite meals on earth.  Lunch at The Old Chickahominy House (best chicken and dumplings on the planet) and dinner at The Fat Canary rounded out a week of great stitching, shopping and dining.  Sadly we did have to head back to the frozen north but this week it's actually above freezing and there is now only about three feet of snow around the grill on my patio!  The end is in sight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Over the Border

Finally!  On Friday I accomplished one of my major goals on The Richmond Sampler - to finish the entire border.  On most samplers I tend to do the border first to get it out of the way.  However on this sampler, the border is probably half of the sampler and so I was working down the sides as I went for a while so that I could mix in the queen stitches with the stitching on the rest of the piece.  A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to try and get the border finished before I did the rest of the sampler - the house, lawn, animals etc.  It's now complete and I can move on to the fun stuff!  I estimated about 2,600 queen stitches between the border and the flower baskets - I've certainly perfected my technique on those now!

Here's a photo of the bottom of the border - I've actually made more sampler progress since I took this but that will have to wait until next time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Here

Well, it's been forever since I've updated my blog.  A busy summer at work and then a fabulous vacation to Europe derailed my stitching train somewhat, but now I'm back and trying to get in more stitching time.  I"m still stitching on The Richmond Sampler, my class piece from A Gathering of Embroiderers last year.  I actually think I'm going to finish the sampler, which is notable because in 14 years of attending Jeannine's seminars I have never finished a piece that I took there, in fact I've never even gotten close to finishing one.  I have a lot of UFOs and I've even pulled out a couple of them and worked on them over the years, but I don't have a single piece that is anywhere near completion - most have just a few stitches in them. 

Here is my progress on Richmond - I'm trying to finish up the border so that I can get those queen stitches out of the way and concentrate on the fun stuff like the house and the animals.  On this sampler, the border is probably half of the work and I'll be glad to finish it up.

Playing with my new camera - it takes great macro close-ups!

Here's the whole thing - there's still a lot to go!

And now, a few teasers from our Mediterranean cruise.  We had perfect weather and saw quite a bit in the 14 days we were there.  A cruise was perfect for our first visit to Europe because we didn't have to figure out how to get anywhere and could just relax and enjoy everything.

This is Parc Guell in Barcelona - the coolest park I have ever seen.  The tile mosaics are unbelievable.

The huge yachts in the harbor in St. Tropez - some of them were larger than our house!

The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo.

The Duomo in Florence - the marble detail on this church is unbelievable!

Andy in the Colosseum in Rome...

The beautiful town of Positano on the Amalfi coast.

Walking the city walls in Dubrovnik.

The view from the fortress high on the mountain above Kotor, Montenegro - that was a hike!

Sailing out of Kotor through the fjord.

The ruins of Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia.

Last, but certainly not least, beautiful St. Mark's Square as we sailed into Venice.  We woke up to pouring rain and high winds, but it all cleared up and we had beautiful weather to enjoy such a fabulous city.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Special Project

As you can all tell, my blogging time and stitching time have been pretty limited lately.  It's performance review time at work (writing 14 reviews takes a lot of time!) and there was another large project going on at the same time.  My laptop has been burning the midnight oil instead of my needle!  However, when I said I wasn't stitching it wasn't entirely true.  I had a secret project that I was working on which could not be revealed until now.

A couple of years ago my Mom started to stitch the Mary Jones, 1801 sampler from The Scarlet Letter. It's a very pretty sampler stitched on dark green linen.

She started with the border, but when she got all the way around...disaster, it didn't meet!  We've all been in that situation before, and usually there is a way to fix it up with a small adjustment here and there.  I took a look at it, found her small error but also discovered that the chart had a problem with how it was put together and that a row had "disappeared" when the different pieces were overlapped and so even without her error the border wouldn't have met up correctly.  I promised to straighten it out for her, took it home and put it away to be dealt with later.  Recently she mentioned it again so I got it out to see what I could do with it.

 I studied the chart, figured out all the problems and finally decided that the best solution was to rip out the border completely and start over.  The deciding factor was the fact that although it had been started in the correct place according to the instructions, there was a very small margin on two sides and eight inches of fabric left over on the right.  I couldn't live with that so ripping was the answer.  Of course that brought on another dilemma because I wouldn't have enough thread, and I knew the dyelots had changed so ordering more of the same color wasn't the solution.  Off to the LNS I went and found another color that would do.  I thought that I'd get the border restarted for her to get her going again.  Mom's birthday was last weekend, and when I started stitching the border I thought "maybe I'll stitch the whole thing and also put in some other elements to get her started, since the linen is kind of hard to see."  So, one of my birthday gifts to her was Mary Jones, resurrected.  Here is a closeup of the sky, which has stars over one that are a bit challenging.

Mom and I have decided that this piece will be a collaboration so I am going to continue to work on the sky for a while, and maybe some of the other "over one" elements.  We've never jointly stitched a sampler before so this should be a fun experience.  Of course, the pressure is on as she reminds me every day that I should be stitching on her!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reading Not Stitching

Sad to say there was no time for stitching this week.  I had a business trip to Atlanta most of the week - at least it was warm there (it was only in the high 40s here in Chicago - brrr).  I rarely take stitching with me when I travel on business, as I always think I will have the opportunity to stitch but I've learned that it just never happens.  I did start reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle on my Kindle, and so far I'm enjoying it.  When I got home, I picked up a book that my friend Amy recommended - The School of Essential Ingredients.

I loved this book - it's about a cooking class taught by a restaurant owner and how the act of cooking with others affects all of their lives.  It's worth it for the descriptions of the food alone, but I also really enjoyed the story.  It's a fast read (I started it late last night and finished it by noon today) and it's thoroughly enjoyable if you like to cook or eat.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Maria and Richmond WIP Photos

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to my mom who is my best stitching friend, and who is much more prolific than I am, at least these days!  Although I wasn't with her today, we spent some time last weekend picking out frames for our latest masterpieces and I know she's spending her day stitching today.

We finally had a sunny day so that I could take some progress pictures of Maria Antoni and the Richmond sampler.  I haven't made as much progress as I would like but I did finally finish the lower right section on Maria today. Here's a picture of the entire piece (as you can see, I'm skipping around because I want to leave the majority of the satin stitch for last).

Here is a closeup of the lower right portion, finally complete.

 The long-armed cross/reversible cross seems to be taking forever - I've ripped out more on this piece than on anything in a long time!  It does look nice when it's done, however, especially on the back where it's all vertical lines.

I haven't done much on Richmond, but I am about halfway done with the top border.  I worked on it last night while I watched It's Complicated - what a great movie!  I still have one more flower to go, two baskets and the rest of the queen stitches in the border to go.

Here is a closer shot of the portion that's complete, and then a close-up of the basket.

I love how this piece is turning out - of course the next part is the dreaded over-one verse.  I can't wait until I get through that and can start the house and all the fun stuff below!