Saturday, December 31, 2016

A little year end accounting

Yesterday, I took photos off my cell phone and put all the stitching ones from 2016 into a separate folder.  This year we were busy with some major changes in our life, and I didn't always have the time or desire to stitch.  But while sorting these photos, I was surprised at how much I actually did this year.  Not many finishes, but some nice projects done.  The Sudoku and Tour de France Poster are still works in progress.  (It has been so long since I posted anything here, I forgot to look for all the designers of these pieces.  I'll add them later.)  As you can see, there is a variety of technique - sashiko, needlepoint, cross stitch, beading, and even sewing!

I didn't post any photos of these, but I'm also working on a sampler in the TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) Challenge from Pintangle, and I'm learning about painting on fabric.  So, although it didn't feel like a productive year, it has been a year of learning

For a while this year, I also thought that I was losing my taste for reading.  There were a few books started but not finished, and I started to wonder if I'd ever get my enjoyment of books back.  But around October, an article on facebook about the Dutch painter Carel Fabritius led me to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  Finally, a novel I couldn't put down!  It's a coming of age story, but also a thriller, with stolen artwork, forged antiques, a New York setting, and a cute little dog named Popchick.  Not to mention all the echoes of novels by Dickens - David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol.  One of the characters even mentions Jack Wild's performance as the Artful Dodger in "Oliver!".   Definitely a book I can recommend.

Now that DH and I are settled in a new home, I'm hoping that I'll have more time to devote to this blog.  Next year is only a few hours away and I'm thinking ahead to what I hope to accomplish.

Happy New Year!

Dragonfly Sashiko.  The book was a Christmas present.

Left - "Jacob's Coat" by Peg Dunayer in Needle Pointers, November 2016
Right - "Persian Medallion" by Tony Minieri

Left - needlepoint Siamese cat design by Julia
Right - "Das Blaue Huhn" by Ingeburg Heil, Bahmann KG

Runaround Bag by Lazy Girl Designs

Beaded ornaments - learned technique in an EGA class

Mill Hill bead kit - Noah's Ark

Needlepoint Sudoku

Tour de France Poster, MB3Z

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Needlepoint Frame of Mind

This year hasn't seen a great deal of stitching from me, at least until I picked up a couple of needlepoint projects.  Over the past few weeks, I started one very large project and actually completed three small ones.

The large project is a sudoku puzzle that was designed by a member of my EGA chapter and offered there as a class.  The puzzle was already solved, luckily for me because I'm terrible at solving sudokus.  But the challenge to the stitcher comes from choosing colors and stitches to use.  The instructions included all the stitches and threads used on the original piece, but we were all encouraged to change as much or as little as we pleased.  It took me two months to select four stitches of my own and decide on which colors and threads to use.  The only restriction I gave myself was that the threads had to come from my stash.  The photo is of the center block, but I just finished a second block over the weekend, and started the third.

I also worked on two much smaller pieces.  One is an ornament designed by Tony Minieri (on the right in the photo).  I had bought the kit at a stash sale at last January's EGA meeting.  The kit didn't include all the threads, so I turned to my stash and made a couple of changes.  What I liked most about doing this piece was stitching the fancy triangular stitches in each corner.  They're called walneto stitches, and remind me of the Eiffel Tower.

The siamese cat canvas, by a designer named Julia, has been in my stash for about a decade because I just didn't know how to stitch it.  Should I stitch the white area on the cat?  Should I add a fancy background, or a border?  Or maybe a thread with long fibers to make the cat look longhaired?  What to do?  Finally, I decided that less is more with this piece.  It didn't need any fancy stitches or borders or backgrounds.  I used tent stitch in the black areas and left all the white unstitched.

There are a few more needlepoint projects in the pipeline.  I think my needlepoint stash is small enough that I might actually finish them all in my lifetime!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tempus fugit and all that...

We seem to be going through an extended period of "life gets in the way."  DH's illness has forced us to reevaluate a few things.  Among the changes in our lives, we've been downsizing our possessions.  I've wanted to do this for a few years now, but I have to say that it's an endless process, sometimes satisfying and sometimes depressing.  You can find some neat things that you forgot you had, but you also find things that make you wonder why you ever wanted them.  Sometimes it's easy to let go of things, and sometimes it's hard.  But so far, I haven't gotten rid of anything that I later regretted giving away.

2015's ort jar
The worst part of downsizing is that I haven't had much time for stitching for a few months now.  My plan for finishing 15 UFOs last year stalled and fizzled out as I started sorting books and dvds and clothes.  But I did manage to achieve 10 finishes, which I'm happy about.  This year, I don't have any specific plans for what to stitch.  I'm working on a present for later this year, so no pictures of that until after the event.  I plan to participate in my EGA chapter's UFO Challenge, but I haven't yet chosen which UFOs to enter.  There isn't much time to devote to very large projects, so whatever new projects I start this year will be small ones.

I still find some time to read, and over the winter I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and its two sequels.  I really enjoyed them although I thought the last book in the trilogy was a bit weak because Lisbeth Salander wasn't in very much of it.  One of the characters in the series, Mikael Blomkvist, mentions Jan Guillou, who writes spy novels about a spy nicknamed Le Coq Rouge.  One of those novels, Enemy's Enemy, has been on my TBR shelf forever, so I read it next, but didn't enjoy it that much.  Currently, I'm reading John Le Carre's The Night Manager and I'm hoping that Masterpiece will broadcast the BBC adaptation soon.

Hopefully, it won't take another six months for me to write here again!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just checking in

I've been too busy gazing at the moon to get much stitching or reading done.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What is a finish?

Summer is winding down, and I've been asking myself, "Have I finished with finishes?"  No finishes since when?  I can't even remember when the last one was - April?  May?  Last month - which feels so long ago - I took out my Tour de France poster and worked on it.  Actually made some progress.  But the piece still has so much work left to do.  The race ended, and I put the project aside.  Since then, I've been busy with other things and no significant stitching on anything has taken place.

Instead, I've been working on a couple of smaller, very portable projects - a piece of sashiko and some bookmarks for my EGA chapter's outreach.  No pictures yet.

Hopefully, some cooler weather will revive my stitching mojo, and I'll get back to work on the ufos.  I haven't been reading as much either, but I loved The Man in the High Castle and bought a collection of Philip K Dick's short stories.  The collection includes Minority Report and Total Recall, which I'm looking forward to reading.  What I like about his work are the unexpected humor and optimism despite the desperate circumstances that the characters face.  The Man in the High Castle has a novel within the novel itself, a fictional novel banned by the government but read secretly by many.  This idea of novels that don't actually exist led me to another really great novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  This is a gothic novel set in Barcelona in the years after the Civil War and WWII.  It is about a boy who reads a novel.  He loves it so much that he wants to find the author's other books, but what he finds is that someone has been destroying every copy of every novel by this man.  His search for the reason why leads him to many mysterious corners of Barcelona where he uncovers many secrets.  There are two sequels to this book which I plan to read.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What happened to May and June?

For the Birds, copyright The Drawn Thread
It has been seeming like finishes are a thing of the past.  Nothing finished in May, and only one finish in June, "For the Birds" by The Drawn Thread.  This was delightful to stitch and got me thinking about doing a sampler with Hebrew letters as the border.

Tour de France, copyright MB3Z
Now we're in July, that time of year again - the Tour de France.  Time to get out my ufo poster of the TDF and get working on that again.  It is a big project with quite a bit of work still to do.  I haven't yet reached the point where I can see the finish line, although I've gotten a little more work on it than this picture shows.  This year I've learned some new techniques through my EGA chapter, and it kind of has me questioning whether I should continue to do so much cross stitch. Although I love cross stitching and I definitely plan to finish all my cross stitch ufos, there are so many new things to try.  I may need to think harder about stitching goals, what I'd like to achieve through stitching, and which techniques I should concentrate on.  

Because I've been trying to finish my ufos, I haven't spent as much time reading.  I had planned to spend this year reading the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.  They are an excellent series of historical novels set in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.  I was halfway through the 4th novel, The Mauritius Command, when a Jeopardy clue and a post about it on FB led me to read The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.  Guess I needed a break from the sea.  This is an excellent novel and very different from what I usually read.  It is set in an alternate history where the Axis wins WWII.  Japan and Germany have divided America, with Japan controlling the West, Germany the East, and a neutral zone in between in the Rockies.  The plot follows different characters, not all of whom know each other but who are all connected.  Disturbing and thought-provoking were the words that came into my mind upon finishing it, but I'm very glad that I read it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The April "Sort of" Finish

April is the second month in a row with only one finished UFO, and this isn't even totally finished.  This is a tote bag with an aida insert, and the dachshund is from a Pegasus Originals book, "Dogs - Collection One," published in 1980.  I had to rip out one side seam in order to stitch the design on the insert, and I haven't had a chance yet to serge the seam again.  So it's a finish - sort of.