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!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


OK, I realize that it's been quite a while since I posted here.  Work keeps me busy as always, so not a lot of time for stitching but I am making some progress on Maria Antoni and the Richmond Sampler.  And, I finally took Elizabeth Yeagers in to be framed last weekend when I was up in Madison.  It was hard to choose a frame but I think she'll look good when she's done!

This week is a week of milestones.  Over the weekend we went to Madison to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday and had a lovely time.  The weather couldn't have been nicer and we took Dad out for a nice dinner on Saturday and then met my brother and his wife for breakfast and a walk through the Arboretum to see the lilacs on Sunday.  All of the flowering trees are at their peak (at least 2 weeks early!) which made for a nice drive through the Wisconsin countryside on the way up and back. 

Today is our 8th wedding anniversary.  Andy sent me some beautiful flowers and we're going out to dinner on Friday night to celebrate.  It doesn't seem like eight years since we walked down the aisle - how time flies! 

Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get out the camera and post some progress pics of Maria and Richmond!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today finally brought the UPS man with the new scroll rods that I need for the Richmond sampler.  I've been waiting for these for a month and last week I was convinced that they were in my neighbor's garage...crazy, I know, but I got a notice saying they would be shipped and when I saw the UPS guy dropping off a long, skinny box across the street and my neighbor tossing it in the corner of the garage without even looking at it, well, you know how it is.  A watched package is never delivered.  Thankfully I finally got a tracking number and realized that they had not even been shipped at that point, saving me from making a total fool of myself by going over and asking to see the package in the corner of their garage.  That was probably golf clubs, lol.

At any rate, now I can pick up again on Richmond, which I haven't touched for several weeks.  I was stitching in hand but it's huge and I don't enjoy stitching in hand.  I have not done any of the queen stitches because my tension isn't right unless my fabric is taut, so I broke down and ordered the new 30" scrolls.  Here you can see how long they are!

Here's my progress on Richmond so far - I have almost all of the flowers done across the top, but I have not finished the baskets since they are done in queen stitch.  Those will be next, along with filling in the queen stitch in the border (first I have to get it on the scroll bars, which I always find challenging with a piece this large).

Last, a close-up of some of the flowers.  This is a beautiful piece and now I am going to be switching back and forth between working on this and Maria. 

Monday, March 22, 2010


As promised, I did take a few pictures of Maria today. I still can't seem to get the color quite right but you'll get the idea. First, here is the vine I was working on yesterday - you can see that while the leaves are a more blue-green color, they are not really any lighter than the vine, and they should be. Fortunately Margriet has come to my rescue and is sending me some of the lighter color.   Next is the spray of flowers that took me so long to do.  It's done in a reversible cross variation that only leaves vertical lines on the back.  There were a lot of color changes but if it was regular cross I'd be carrying the thread on the back and it wouldn't have taken nearly as long.  The reversible cross is denser on the front because you've got two passes on one of the legs, so I was able to "travel" by running my thread under on the front, but it was still time-consuming.   Here are pictures of the front and the back. 

Here's a picture of my entire progress so far - still a long way to go!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


These days it seems like I hit some kind of roadblock with every project I pick up.  Today it's Maria - although I have been making very slow progress, last night I finished the spray of flowers I was working on and moved on to some more satin stitch, which goes much faster.  However, I realized after stitching the vine that the silk that was in my kit that should be used for the leaves is much too dark.  For the online class Margriet is using a different color (one shade lighter) and it looks totally different from what I have.  I was going to just use what I have but I looked at the chart more carefully and there are several places that this color is used where it's next to other very light greens - the darker shade that I have just won't look right in those spots.  So, now I'm on a hunt for some 3422 - hopefully Margriet will have some that she can send me.  That didn't stop my progress, however, I just moved on to another area of the sampler.  If it's sunny I'll try and take another progress photo tomorrow and post it.

The basketball/stitching plan worked only slightly better this weekend - Friday's game was too close for me to actually stitch during the game and today I did stitch but the game was a total blowout.  Although the Badgers won't be playing, next weekend should have some interesting matchups.   They don't call it March Madness for nothing!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Basketball and Stitching

Well, I had high hopes for this weekend on both the basketball and stitching fronts, however I fear that disappointment in one led to lack of progress in the other.  I was all set for a lot of stitching this weekend while watching the Big Ten Conference Tournament.  However, the Basketball Badgers were somewhat of a disappointment on Friday, losing to Illinois (I hate losing to Illinois!).   Once that was over there went my stitching/watching plans, as it was hard to muster up too much interest in the other games.   So, we spent Saturday running errands in the rain and putting together our new bookcases for the library (finally, enough room for my needlework books!).  Sunday I went to the Lake Michigan Sampler Guild meeting where we had a very interesting talk on framing by one of the LNS owners.  I enjoyed hearing what she had to say and got a tiny bit of stitching in at the same time.  Progress on Maria is one step forward, two steps back - I'm working on the reversible cross portions and I feel like I am ripping more than I'm stitching, but it's coming along slowly.

Since last weekend didn't work out, I'm going to try the basketball/stitching thing again this weekend.  Wisconsin is playing in the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon, so I'm taking the afternoon off and I'm planning on stitching and watching.  Assuming they get by Wofford (never heard of them until this fall when we played them in football and I'm hoping they aren't any better in basketball), that means another game to watch on Sunday.  Let's hope this plan works out better on both fronts this time!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


One of my goals this year is to finish Maria Antoni.  This piece is a Mexican sampler and The Essamplaire is currently running this as an online class.  I am not participating in the class because I actually got this kit at Jeannine's sampler seminar a few years ago.  I went to the seminar not planning on taking any classes - Mexican samplers are not my primary interest and for whatever reason I did not sign up for the class.  I was just going to go and stitch for a few days.  I arrived, and the first night I went to the stitching room.  There were all these ladies with these beautiful silks laid out in front of them - I didn't even know what they were working on, I just knew I had to have it!  Clearly when someone asks what attracts me to a particular sampler, the answer is color!  These photos are a bit washed out - clearly I need to improve my digital photography skills - but you'll get the idea.

 I begged Jeannine and Margriet to let me into the second day of the class - fortunately for me there was an extra kit so they obliged.  After finishing Elizabeth Yeagers I was ready for some real color and Maria seems like just the ticket.  So far it's stitching up fairly quickly.  I'm skipping around as I want to do a lot of the satin stitch last.  The sampler is almost reversible - the cross stitch is a variation that just has vertical lines on the back.  Here's a photo of the back.

Maria Antoni back 3/10/2010

I'm trying to make as much progress as I can with Maria because I know that once my large scroll rods arrive and I can put the Richmond sampler on them, that will grab my attention again.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Love Barnes and Noble

Outside of stitching my other favorite pastime is reading.  I love to read and can go through a book in a couple of days if I'm in the mood.  Tonight I went to Barnes and Noble in search of a digital photography book...didn't get that but came home with three novels I've been wanting to read.  Best of all, it was Buy 2 Get 1 Free!  I got The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  Hopefully those will keep me going on the treadmill!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Things Calling My Name

I seem to have the common stitcher's problem...too many things calling my name.  I was focused on finishing Elizabeth Yeagers but now that she's done my carefully planned goals for the year have a lot of competition!  Attending the Gathering of Embroiderers got me inspired again and now I can't decide what to work on next.  I was planning on stitching Maria Antoni from The Essamplaire (I needed some bright color after Elizabeth's soft pastels) and I also wanted to get about halfway through Dorcas Haynes this year.  But...now I really want to work on the Richmond Sampler from the Gathering.  And, when I went to take German Sparrow off the big scroll bars I decided I needed to work on that again too (hence an order for more scroll bars, lol).  And then like a fool I signed up for all three of the online classes that Tricia Wilson Nguyen is offering and the Floral Glove class has already started.  I already had that kit so now I really should stitch it.  What to do, what to do???

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Getting Started

I have finally decided to start a blog. This will either prove to be a time consuming endeavor or I will confirm what I've always suspected - that I don't do anything interesting enough to warrant a post that anyone else would really want to read about. We'll see how it goes, but expect to see my thoughts on all of my favorite pastimes - stitching, reading, gardening, traveling and watching football and basketball! That said, it's Senior Night for the Basketball Badgers tonight so let's hope they have a great game to send them off right.