Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spectacular finishing

Hello everyone.  Just a quick post to show you the lovely package I received from Irene of Starry-eyed Stitcher
I was thrilled!  The seams are beaded as is the hanger, stitched superbly, but the finishing is spectacular!  It is firm, yet soft, hard to explain.  The backing fabric isn't pictured as beautiful as it is.  The edges are stuffed to perfection and the seams are lined up with the fabric exactly.  But the feel....I couldn't put it down.  Completely even and well......I'm just amazed.  I wish I could do finishing as well.  Thank you again Irene. 
                                          



After hanging it throughout the house, I decided on this location...                                                 
 Just to show you how I cheat on my finishing, this is what I do to my old quilt pillows.  There are so many layers of fabric in addition to the batting and I just can't do a decent job without bending my needles, so I rely on this product.  I use these office clips for my snack bags instead of those cheap ones I used to buy again and again, and they work really well for this.  And this little cushion from an old quilt will be included with my giveaway.  I don't like that word.  Offering sounds better.
I've been working on some projects and having fun, for some reason, getting an tickle that I want to start creating and selling again.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I'll show you next time and get your opinions.
Now for the big news.  I saw the newborn kitty. Only one.  Baby is the image of dad.  Dad looks for mom all day, lays next to her, and here he is guarding her while she eats.  You can see my other stamped concrete in a brick pattern here, and how the wood stain worked on it.  I don't know when she will bring the baby around and I don't want to push it since he/she is in a safe location right now. 
Last of all, I found these pewter items, all from different pewter makers, at the only place we have here for antiques and such.  They were $5 each.  I'm happy.  And here's a better look at the little pillow.  It's nothing to look at but I like to add a few to the stitched ones in a bowl.  All of my old quilts are appliqued and I thought these were fall (ick) colors.   Another fall scent tart from Yankee, Autumn Leaves, made its way into the box.  Not everyone that left a comment on that offering post requested to be included but you are automatically, so if you do NOT want to be included, please let me know.  
I've been having Google problems and can't see all photos on your blogs, some times can't leave a comment, and can't even get in to my own page at times.  All the charts I plan on listing, were scanned and entered, now they're gone.  ????  I have to start over and the scanner is acting up so I don't know when they will be listed.  I have the older JCS ornament issues too.
So I will talk to you Sunday - drawing will be Saturday night.  Hope your week is going well and thanks for taking the time to visit. 

  
                                 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sneezing & scratching

Hello everyone.  I haven't had much progress on Lucy.   The colors that I switched from alphabet to border did not work for me.  This is menobrain at work, once again.  If I didn't care for the color in the alphabet because it blended into the fabric color, why would I think it would show up in the border?  So I ripped it all out, stitch by stitch, and now have it completed with color 680.  I like it.  Haven't got to the flowers in the design yet but will follow the chart color for those.  Between scratching poison ivy (or some other ungodly punishment), my eyes dancing to a pounding head cold, and reaching for a Kleenex, I was leery of having a needle in hand lest it end up in my leg or my face.  I'm not complaining.  These maladies are nothing compared to what some women are enduring.

So here's my giveaway...

you get to choose one of my 6x8 journals, with primitive painted finish and lined paper inside.....






a dried clove studded pear, Kitchen Spice tart from Yankee Candle, mini candles from Bath & Body Works in their new fall scents (Creamy Pumpkin and Pumpkin Caramel Latte), and a blast from the past .. Line-a-Timers.


I used these for every project back in the day, and they are no longer being made.  If you've not heard of them, they are colored transparent markers that stick (from static) to your charts, books, patterns, and highlight an area, or allow you to focus on one line.   I thought of something else but my head is still a little fogged.  I can always add to it if I remember!  So if you would like this little package, leave a comment on this post only.  I will draw a name/number next Saturday.

My Stacy Nash bag has been here and there and not displayed to my liking.  So here she is now...



I wanted to hang her so decided instead of using a thin dowel rod, I cut a wire hanger to length, curled the ends up, spray painted it black, and attached one of my favorite hanging loops, leather laces.  I saw a braided hiking book lace at Wally World (Walmart) that was black and orange.  So cool for Halloween projects. 
  On my Lucy project, (here's a surprise...), I can't find my hoops.  So I'm using these large office clips and they are working great.  There's plenty of room in these clips to prevent any fold marks and they can be moved easily. 

 We finally got our stamped concrete finished.  I used the lightest wood stain - golden oak from Minwax - in a spray bottle with a fine mist to mimic the barn stone colors.  Concrete stain is costly and looks like paint.  The release they use for color when stamping is an absolute mess to clean up so we went light on that (gray) and then I used the wood stain for the brown tones.  Mr. concrete man said I couldn't do it - it can't be done - never heard of it!!  The guy was so impressed with my work that he asked if I would do this for his other customers.  Not going to happen.  I also redid the older stamped concrete brick walk with the stain and that took a very long time.  I used a sponge dipped in stain instead of spraying so as not to tint the recessed gray grout lines. 



That's it.  I'm going out with the hub on one of his wild mushroom hunts.  I'll be picking some fallen walnuts from the ground for garland, but not too many.  Wildlife need what nature is providing them more than I do.    Until next time - have a great weekend!  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Love Lucy

 Hello everyone.  The elusive Lucy has been found.  I decided to stick with the samplers I had chosen and put her aside, but she disappeared again - in the same day!  That's it.  She's staying with me since the floozy can't be trusted. 





She's a big girl and I may have to learn to use a frame, but so far, this is my start....

And yes, I switched a few shades of floss because of not being able to see the first alphabet line.  I tried, but can't get a better scan of the chart.  The sawtooth side borders and first line aren't visible, which is the 420, now changed to 422.
I originally chose Catherine Metcalf, until finding this piece of linen threw me off course.   I planned on a lighter tea-dyed but to me, this scene may look spectacular with a light steel blue ground.  Of course, my mind will revert to the original choice as is its habit, but I didn't want to take the chance.  You just never know.  Some days I am actually focused.  What?  I just can't remember when the hell it was.  In an effort toward that goal, I bought a 1/2 gallon of soy milk and it seems to have made the flashes more intense, the opposite reaction I was expecting.  It's chocolate and very good so I'm drinking it anyway.

I kitted Sally Fiske's sampler - which is something I should have done long ago with all the larger ones - and included her in the running.  Sally or Elizabeth Clayton may make an appearance alongside Lucy.   I am anxious to have these beauties on my wall, but I have to admit, I'm still not feeling the ambition to get them there.  Maybe the variety of having two going at once, a first for me, would help.  WHAT?  Giving an indecisive procrastinator a choice? 
 Insane.
This demands more thought.
And guess who's still playing with linen?  Here's the latest attempts at the subtle shading I am trying to achieve, compared to the last sampler done on the linen color I like.  The very top is the dark saffron color, now a tan with a dark mustard tinge.  The others were amber, sand (very apricot to start), and unbleached.  I love them! 




How did I do this?  Here's a hint.  Check out the persimmon from my sampler bag, to the persimmon now.  All I did was add a little black Rit to my kitchen sink, wet the fabric, and dip until I liked the hue.  Some only needed one dip.  Rinse, dry, dip again if needed.  My cream colors are now varying shades of gorgeous grays, my bleached saffron was toned down from a yellow, the bright apricot colored sand is now gorgeous, and I have drawers more to go.  I also tried the tan and taupe Rit which are too red toned and I wasn't happy at all.  Surprisingly, if I dipped too long and was unhappy with the gray hue, it immediately came out when dipped once in a diluted bleach bath.  Quickly.  I've been spending way too much time on this, but being able to use linens that would otherwise be unused is worth it.  Why don't I sell them?  Because many of them were not marked and I can't guarantee their count, or their color name.  The yardage I have left won't be bleached and dyed until cut - too unwieldy to manage without folds.

Fancy the cat had her kittens somewhere and is still here to eat, along with her boyfriend who is still crying, and a new gorgeous long haired with huge eyes and a tight flea collar.   We're making houses for all of them from the large styrofoam boxes (coolers) that the hospital receives medications in.  Cutting an opening on one side of the front with a hot knife (cuts styrofoam like butter and seals it), adding something comfy inside on the other side, and securing the lid with a heavy stone, voila!  They love it, they're warm, and less foam in the landfill.  We'll probably get a piece of plywood to lay over them creating an overhang to keep rain/snow from the entrance.  

 Stuffed shells, meatballs, and sausage today with family.  Mom and Dad's anniversary is this weekend.  They were married 64 years when my dad was taken.  

Time is flying!   I almost bought a little fig tree for the garden the other day, until I realized that by the time it grows and produces, I'll probably be in a retirement village!   That thought stopped me in my tracks.  The next thing I remember is ripping open a bag of Dove chocolates at the checkout in Walgreens.

I haven't been able to find large good quality pears in months, and have wasted lots of cloves in the last week.   I was going to wait for 100 followers and offer one as a giveaway, but I may never get there.  And maybe you don't want an item completely unrelated to stitching.  I'm certainly not going to mention the fabric projects that I originally planned.  But it was a calm day, perfect for a fire.  Let me think (without soy milk) and I'll yak about it next post. Have a great weekend everyone, thanks for stopping by.  
.............
Holy rotini this is a long post!
 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A little bit of stitching

Hello Ladies and Gents.  Just wanted to say that even though it has been a busy week, I have managed a little stitching on Santa and should finish him tonight.

We went to the Antiques in the Woods show at Shaker Woods Saturday and didn't find a lot of items but got a few bargains.  A pumpkin gourd, three others I can possibly use for painting,






















some Indian corn, and two sweet little wood bowls.

We got out of there just before a deluge hit.  The rain didn't last very long but what fell in that short time was significant.  The grounds are all gravel in this wooded venue, and as always at this time of year, lots of yellow jackets and other bees swarming.  My husband is allergic and carries a kit....well, SHOULD be carrying his kit, but one is in his golf bag and the other at work.    It brought back an embarrassing incident.  Years ago, when I was giving his medical information to a nurse, she asked if he had ever been hospitalized. 
I replied "yes". 
"For what", she asked. 
"Prophylactic shock", I calmly offered.
......................?????? (insert long silence)
"WHAT?"
"Prophylactic shock", again.
More silence and pause, with a puzzled look on her face.
"So he's allergic to condoms????" she asked.
"What?  Condoms!  No - he's allergic to bees!"
After she picked herself off the floor and stopped laughing, 
she said  "That's anaphylaxis shock!"
............................
"I know that.  Shock is shock".
I think I gave the nurses' at that station (and throughout the hospital) a good laugh.   Needless to say, husband was a little embarrassed.  Hey!  Neither word was common in my vocabulary and in my defense they do sound similar!

That about wraps it up for now.  You'll see which sampler I picked in a few days.  Although today is a sad day of remembrance, I wish you all a good week.  Thank you for stopping by.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Linen ramblings part II

Hiya.  First off, in answer to some emails, I use Staples' see through envelopes which go on sale for $2 (reg 2.99) and $1 (reg 1.99) every once in a while.  It's expandable and holds it all, including the smaller envelope filled with floss, and your fabric.   Load 'em up and stack 'em high.  Ready to go.  Unless you mess around with linen experimentation because you're never happy.  And look at the coin purse I found at JoAnn's!  It's black canvas and lined in black.  Patti's purse is still on my mind and I would love to try making one.  I'm thinking of slipping the stitched piece over the purse after tracing and sewing, hand sewing the edge around the frame, with chenille or piping if needed.  Things never go as planned so maybe starting from scratch would be easier. 
On to the linens I wanted to play with for the large samplers. 
This is the antique white linen, showing the coffee being sprayed on, and the finished colors after rinsing and drying compared to the original.  I some times prefer putting the staining liquid, even dye, in a spray bottle with a fine mist.   Beautiful soft beige, still too light for me, but I can age it more when it's complete.  If I didn't do this first, the aging itself would not be enough color.  The dark unbleached that I showed in my prior post was lighter after bleaching, but still very drab.  So I tried using the coffee and it worked, as long as I didn't rinse it out.  I didn't like the feel of the linen, almost sticky, with the coffee left in, but there is another reason to rinse....keep reading.
 Next, the walnut stain.  I used a double dose of walnut powder stain and soaked the light fabric - beautiful!  I read to be careful using the walnut dye because it will stain anything and forever.  Not so.  I don't know if I got a bad batch or what, but it didn't stain the towel, carpeting, t-shirt, pants, tub, mat, counter, ironing board cover, wall, curtain, or sneakers that somehow ended up with the stain.  Everything cleaned up and it rinsed completely out so I soaked it again and didn't rinse.  Beautiful.  But as it hung to dry, it developed streaks from dripping.  Did it again, and wrung it, hung it, only had one blotch.  Great!  Then I discovered why it is risky to not rinse out a stain before stitching...  When I used a damp rag on the blotch to remove the excess color, it became a bigger problem.  The same happened with coffee that wasn't rinsed out.  If a drop of water drips from your ice cold glass, a tear from a sad movie,  sweat from a hot flash, or any moisture, it will create a noticeable problem.  The color is removed from that damp spot and spreads outward creating a dark ring that cannot be corrected except by rinsing the stain/color from the entire piece.   A disaster that may never happen but I'm not always careful when stitching and would never take that chance on a large project.  Aging after completion is a great method but it wasn't what I was trying to accomplish.  I wanted to see if it was possible to get the shade/color I wanted before starting a particular project, without permanent commercial dye.  The final note to the experiment.....the count did change somewhat with shrinkage, but only on the raw/unbleached pieces.

The left started as 26 count unbleached.  After starting a project on it I checked the stitches, and found 14 to the inch instead of 13.  The second is the 30 count that shrunk 2 inches both ways, and I now have 16 instead of 15 stitches to the inch.  It may work out to 15 1/2 which would give me enough fabric to fit the large design, but I haven't decided if I should take the chance.  I may end up using the golden streak after all, and hope it's not too much color.  The other small pieces that I bleached will be aged with the coffee or walnut stain after stitching is complete.   
Here's the majority of my inventory without scrap pieces - light tan is the lighter of the unbleached and the color I am happy with.

I'm glad I did this little experiment so I know what will work and what I should just put aside.  I certainly have enough linen for smaller primitive projects, and any new samplers will have new linen ordered.  I'll probably bleach some even lighter and use Rit. I'm also ordering walnut dye from a different supplier because I've picked black walnuts and believe me they DO stain forever!  
My mind hasn't been on stitching these last days anyway.  I have one dear friend who was on the phone with her cousin and BFF, when she heard the entire horrifics of the abusive ex breaking down the door and killing her at the other end.  My other dear friend is going through life support being removed from a loved one.  Husband is on vacation this week so we've been busy - mostly trying to figure out which projects can be done in the all week rain!  Hint - NONE!
I'll leave you with Fancy the cat's new mouthy friend who eats more than she does, and my next post will not be a lesson in linen.  That my friends, is for sure.
Thank you for visiting, inspiring, commenting, waiting for a project to appear, and bearing with me while I move from the stitching of 25 years ago to what's happening today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Linen ramblings

Hello all.  First off, several emails requested information on how I braided the candlewick threads to use for little ornaments.  I apologize for not making it clear.  I purchase candle WICKS, not candlewicking thread.  It comes in a package where they sell fragrance oils and wax, usually craft stores, is 100% cotton, and braided.  I also had requests for where to purchase the basket that is displaying France F.  They only sell in shows, but I have her number and will pass along any info I receive.  On to the linen weekend.

I found this unframed old piece that looks like the 25 count I used to purchase from Scarlet Letter, and this warm tone is what I'm looking for.  My higher count linens are not as light as this, even though as I've mentioned before, they are all "unbleached-raw-natural"- but all vary in tone and shade. 
                 
I don't know if I would like the recommended linen for a design since I have no resources, and my preferences do not lean toward the very light shades.   The natural/unbleached cuts that I ordered long ago came in darker and grayer than I expected.  This is the 30 count that's cut (YES!) in the drab grayish tone, so I prepared a bleach bath for it, in the tub.  I thought it would be the easiest way to submerge it evenly with the least amount of folds.  
The darkest is the original, beneath it the current shade, and the right is the same fabric soaked longer.  It's still too drab, so I may try to warm it with a coffee bath.   Am I wasting my time?  Sure seems like.  I have several yards of this and really want to use it for these big projects instead of purchasing more.  I have no idea what the multitude of color choices are like so even if I would receive new linens, would I like them?  Surprisingly, the amber color was in the bath longest and didn't flinch.  No change whatsoever.  I kept a swatch of wet fabric on hand to compare to the submerged pieces, checking on color change.  It became very mottled and uneven, but dried more evenly.   Months ago I had another brainstorm that if I washed and dried the 25 count linen on hot, it would shrink to a 28 or 30 count.  Well it didn't.  At all.  So I assumed this wouldn't either but it did - an inch in length and width.  The difference?  The first time I tried dyed/processed linen and this is unbleached/raw which obviously is more susceptible to shrinkage.  Which begs the question - would a 30 count cut become a 32 count if it shrinks?   Since the number of threads are the same, but smaller or tighter, wouldn't the design still fit since the stitches would also be smaller?   It will take some time but I'm running a line of stitches to make sure.  Logan's count is 474 x 412 and Metcalf's is 355 x 463.  WHAT?????  

Even though I have a ton of floss in all colors, I bought more.  I wanted everything ready, separate, starting from scratch in their floss and chart files.  Aren't they neat?

 

These are floss colors on the two linens, one too gold, and one too drab.  I'm spilling my coffee on it tomorrow and will decide then, but Logan will be on one of these.  

It took me quite a while, but I inventoried all my linens, even scrap pieces, and now have every piece tagged with size and recorded which is a huge improvement.  I don't know how much is considered a lot, but I think I have way too much of the same boring fabric.  For future projects, I'm going to order a few small cuts and hope the new colors are what I'm looking for.   WHAT?   Future projects?  These designs will keep me busy for a very long time.  a number of years. an eternity.  OK.... I'm done boring you with my linen troubles.  Frankly, I'm bored with it too but starting projects of this size and then deciding it's not the right background does not a happy stitcher make.  
So I'll say so long, have a great new day, be kind and generous to the homeless....
even if they're brats, wanting to eat ten times a day.


Thanks for stopping by, sorry I'm rambling about linen again.

Stitching begins today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm OK with it

Greetings!  First off, the box from the last post was not burned but is in need of major repair.  The stitching was saved and stuck here...

Now for the big news.  A major breakthrough to announce - I'm cutting my linen yardage.   Yes, I know, it's a ridiculous eccentricity of mine but it will be no more.  Soon.  Some time today.  Before midnight.  After my shower, before my cholesterol reducing drugs, when Frazier is on, right before Golden Girls, unless I can't find the right scissors.  NO!  I'm serious, really it will be today.  All those years ago I used nothing but unbleached/natural, which was included with my Scarlet Letter kits, and I continued to purchase.   What's making this task easier is....I'm not as crazy about it as I used to be.  Several smaller pieces are marked Sandstone, Antique Tan, Tea-dyed, Golden Streak, and I'm liking those warmer tones.  The darkest of the natural with be slightly lightened with a bleach bath, and then stained or dyed if necessary to get a pleasing color for these monsters that I am going to kit...
  

 Lucy is still in the running, but I think she's out gallivanting with Ann Wragg.  So why did I choose such large samplers?  Good question.  Maybe doing such a time consuming project will keep me on track, instead of having to search through linen pieces and charts for the next project, trying to make the decision that never comes.   I'm wasting a lot of time and the longer I am without needle, the harder it is to pick it up again.  I also remember a comment from a few months ago about using an unfinished sampler in a standing hoop, as a display.  So if I start a monster and fail with the stamina to complete, I will use this great idea.

Small projects like these Santas, will keep me stitching during breaks from the large sampler's tedium.   Most of my Santa ornaments are on sage Jobelan so I may continue with it instead of linen.  Yeah I know, I gave away bunches of it, but I still have a few pieces.

I also wanted to mention trims and cords for hanging little projects/ornaments.  Keep in mind I only have one local store and trims offered are more for upholstery and drapery.  Most of the time I use hemp cord or jute, but it's not appropriate for everything.  Trying to find something small in black was impossible so I turned to shoe laces.  The braided lace is heavy enough for a seam trim or hanger, the flat cotton can be dyed, navy blue and dark brown are available too which is hard to find in trims.   Another option I use is 100% cotton candlewicks.  Yep.  Candlewick.  
Very thin, soft, and flexible as a hanger for a tiny project.  
As usual, you probably already know this. 
Today and tomorrow will be pretty hot and muggy so I'm going to sit outside and enjoy what will soon be over.    My mind has been on a wonderful peach dessert with a cream cheese topping.  Very easy to make and so good.  And the ice cream bars that are coated with crunchies and coconut.   Oh my. 
I hope you all have a great weekend, long or short, hopefully with dessert, and thank you once again for visiting!