Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Remembering the Irish

While watching Olympic coverage yesterday afternoon, I saw a piece by Tom Brokaw about the people of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada and what they did for the passengers of 167 aircraft during the 9-11 crisis.  It reminded me of my own 9-11 experience in Ireland.  I thought since this is March - the 17th being St. Patrick's Day and all, that it was probably appropriate that a shout out be given to several people for what they personally did for me that week.

I was traveling with my sister and we were in Kilkenny when we heard the news. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before.  I remember feeling like the floor was opening up beneath my feet.  Our innkeepers were very solicitous.  Just the fact that we were Americans, they wanted to do whatever they could for us.  We were so shell-shocked that night though, that we just curled up in our room and watched the news.  I talked to my husband on the phone.  He was able to confirm that all our family, including his aunt who lived in Manhattan at the time, we all fine.  I wanted to come home even though we had another week and a half of our trip left to go.  He told me no, absolutely not.  That I was to continue on; I wouldn't have been able to get home anyway.  What?  I asked, he told me, US airspace is shut down, we don't know when they'll open it again.

The next day we headed to Killarney, and the next through Limerick.  That night, we heard about the Limerick airport; how there were so many stranded there that they'd run out of food, pillows, blankets.  And there were no more hotel or B&B rooms to be had because new travelers had come in to the country with reservations.  It was a mess.  All due to the fact that the US airspace was closed and the people couldn't fly home.  

The next day we were working our way north visiting the Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren; making Gallway our stop for the night.  That was on Friday which was the Day of Mourning.  We had been keeping posted on the news by radio and heard that everything was expected to be shut down by ten in the morning on Friday.  We were up and out early so we could go gas up the car before the stations closed.  Then, we were off.  Along the way we heard about what had happened in Limerick the night before.  People from the town and outlying areas had come to the airport and said we have a bed, or we have a couch and by the time the night was through, there were no more stranded passengers left.  Boy, did that make me cry.  Everywhere we went, all we had to do was say two words and the Irish knew we were Americans and then in the next sentence they wanted to know were our people alright, did we need anything?  It was so wonderful.  We'd just had this awful crushing blow and were now being wrapped in cotton wool to make us feel better.

Then there was Galway.  When we arrived, it was pouring rain.  We found our B&B for the night, a place called St. Jude's on Lower Salt Hill Road.  It was about supper time.  Having been on the road all day and not finding any place open, we knew the chances were that we'd be on our own for supper.  I'd been saving biscuits from breakfasts and we had two of those.  We each had a bottle of water and we had eight tea cookies left and one candy bar.  Enough carbs to keep our stomachs from growling, that was for sure.  

Inside we were greeted by our hostess, Ita Johnstone.  After getting set up in our room, we went back down where Ita met us in the hall.  We told her we were going out to find some dinner.  She expressed her concern that we might not be able to find anything.  Intrepid travelers, we thought that surely not everything could be closed.  But, we were wrong.  ALL the restaurants were closed.  Then we had the bright idea that a hotel would have a restaurant and we'd be able to eat there.  But, the hotels had put signs on the doors "Restaurant for Guests Only Tonite".  Guess they were running short on supplies.  

Dejected, we walked back through town, in the pouring rain,  to St. Jude's.  Ita's husband, Tony, met us in the hall.  Had we found anything?  No, we said, but that was OK, we had some supplies, we'd be fine.  Then he said, Ita could probably fix us up some soup and sandwiches, did 7:30 in the dining room sound alright?  WOW!  it sounded wonderful to our chilled, wet little selves!  We hotfooted it upstairs, hung our wet things in the shower, got dressed into fresh and were back down in the dining room at half past seven on the dot.

Now, a little bit about our experience with B&Bs in Ireland and especially St. Jude's.  Most of them are in people's private homes where they've set aside a section of the house to rent out.  And then for breakfast, you go into the dining room and you are served a hot or cold breakfast and are very politely asked if there's anything else they can get you.  And there is nothing wrong with that at all - except for those bloody sausage things that they can keep all to themselves, thank you very much.  St. Jude's is just different.  An old home that is architecturally beautiful with old family furniture and luxurious style.  The linens were crisp and soft all at the same time - and clean, fresh, white.  We felt like we were staying at a country house as opposed to the extra room at Aunt Sallie's.  Mind you, there was nothing wrong with any of the B&B's we stayed at - St. Jude's was just a touch above, that's all.

So, there we were in the dining room - did I mention that most days we did not each lunch in order to save some dinero?  So, there we were in the dining room, pretty hungry and expecting soup and sandwiches (which was just fine with us).  And in comes Ita with a bowl of homemade tomato soup, a bibb lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing and garlic bread; we had gone to heaven!  When we were all finished, she came back in and was clearing the dishes and we were thanking her so much for her hospitality and she said, we weren't done, that was just the first course.  I think our mouths were hanging open.  She asked if we liked lasagna.  We must've nodded because in a few minutes she was back with plates of noodly loveliness.  And OMG!  it was SO good.  The absolute BEST lasagna I've ever had in my entire life.  NOT kidding.  When she came back in after we were done with the main course, she asked if we'd like to have some carrot cake and coffee - or tea?  At that point, we could only nod in mute stupefaction.  And it was good cake too.

Finally, when all was said and done, she came back in and I thanked her again.  I told her that we knew she'd gone out of her way, that her day had ended up being a lot longer because of us and she'd done such a marvelous job with the meal; could we please pay her for it?  She would absolutely not hear of it.  Because of what had happened in America and because we'd been unable to find a place to get a decent dinner that night, she said it was what she wanted to do to make us feel better.  And we graciously accepted her gift.   Of course, the next day we went down into the City and found a big florist shop and arranged to have a huge bowl of white roses delivered to Ita.  But, I will never forget her kindness.  Or the Irish who were so kind to us every step of the way after that awful day.

In case you're headed to Ireland and are looking for a B&B in Galway, here's a link to the St. Jude's website.  Ita and Tony are wonderful, take it from me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Head is Spinning

I follow a blog that had a link today to tea dresses.  That link was to an auction house in New York.  While on their main page I noticed "Tasha Tudor" and Auction.  Turns out, the auction was held back in 2007, probably shortly after her death.  Several years ago in a Victoria magazine, I had seen a lay out of models wearing parts of Miss Tudor's collection with beautiful jewelry.  Well, some of the pieces that were in that lay out were part of this auction - and so many more!  Here's the link to follow to the Tasha Tudor Costume Collection.  When you get there, click on Tasha Tudor in the navigation bar on the left.  Then, on the next page, click on Gallery One under Photo Gallery.  That will take you to the thumbnail views.  Also, when each one comes up large, there is a link over the picture that takes you to multiple views of the one costume.  I hope you enjoy looking at the vintage clothing as much as I did!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Bee Line March Box

I've entered the NSDAR competition called "America's Heritage Remembered". I started this process last spring. I've entered in the category Needle Art, subcategory Cross Stitch. Using Kreinik Silk Mori, stitching over two on 32 count Water Lily by Wichelt, I've created a box
memorializing the men of the Bee Line March.   Over the course of four months, I designed the panels based on my research into the march.  Then, I took three months to stitch them.  Another two months went into constructing the box - the first one I've ever done.

Not remembered by many individually, these men are famous for what they did as a group; rushing to the relief of Continental troops during the seige of Boston in August of 1775.  You may have seen my previous "sneek peek" which showed the "Culpeper Flag" reading - Don't Tread on Me - Liberty or Death. 

I knew immediately when I heard of the competition, what I wanted to do - a box, that would contain a list of the names of the men in the company that marched in 24 days from near Shepherdstown, West Virginia (then Virginia) to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

John Adams, writing to James Warren, in Boston, said that the Riflemen could "kill with great exactness".  They were led by Captain Hugh Stephenson who General Washington had personally recommended to congress.  Research showed that they wore rough, fringed garments with "Liberty or Death" Patches on their shirts.  They were to carry their knapsacks, powder horns, shot bags, rifles and food.  These men came from an area that was then the frontier of our country and they looked it.  It is actually described that they wore deer tails in the brims of their hats.  I wanted this piece to look rough, like the frontiersmen, so finished the box edges more obviously than many would have.  I also added a home made (by me!) deer antler button as part of the closure.  The men probably would have had wooden, shell or antler buttons on their shirts and jackets.  The box is lined with silk - just the way a colonial woman would have lined her sewing box.

And inside is the list of names.

I know that submissions were to be made by March 1 and that mine was received in good order.  I sent my package by express mail and even insured it!


There are three levels for judging - State, Regional and National.  I assume I should hear by the end of March whether or not I made State.  Congress (for the DAR) is held in July which is where National winners will be announced.  Don't know if I'll know anything else before then or not.  Wish me luck!

Letter M - Prairie Schooler ABC SAL

Just posted this on the SAL blog.  Here are the details - - when I first looked at the chart for this letter I saw her in tropical blues.  So, I've used four different blues on her tail (all Gentle Art overdyed floss) Huckleberry, Tutti Fruitti, Green Pasture & Peacock.  I also changed her hair color to something much more mermaidy - Nutmeg.  The bird is done using Blue Jay, Morning Glory & Midnight.  I thought it ended up looking like something you'd see on a piece of Blue Willow dishware; love it!  I changed the fish from the nondescript dark green to something more Caribbean - a clown fish; using Bittersweet, Fragrant Cloves, Chalk, & Dark Chocolate.  The stitching is done on the same footprint on the chart, just changing the colors.  It was while I was stitching the fish that I looked at the seaweed nearby and suddenly saw a seahorse hiding there.  With a few adjustments and added stitches, of course.  That little neighbody is stitched using Nutmeg, Sunflower, & Dark Chocolate.  Made the egg all purples with Hyacinth & Purple Iris (filling in where the fabric was supposed to be left exposed) and touched it off with a hint of Bittersweet (orange).  If I was to say I was unhappy with any part of the piece, it would be in the sea weed.  The greens just aren't showing up very well on the coffee dyed fabric.  New greens are on the way!  And I've decided to go lighter in my next piece of fabric.  It really has been a sanity saver, working on this piece while we've had to live with 51 inches of snow on the ground.  Here it is, two weeks after the blizzard and we've still got some drifts (drifts now, not snowbanks from shoveling and plowing) that are three and four feet high.  However, warmer temps are allowing us to see some grass in places.  I keep telling myself "Spring is coming.  Spring is coming." and thinking about daffodils!

Monday, February 8, 2010

One I Forgot

This is my first PS ABC SAL piece that I stitched.  I was so excited to post it on the blog that I forgot to post it here.  So, in case you missed it, here it is!  Thanks to everyone for all their kind words; ya'll are great!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Floss Skein Instructions

For those who are interested, here are the step by step photos for stitching a floss skein for the Prairie Schooler ABC Bee; letter E.

Step 1: With a golden yellow color, stitch 3 verticle stitches. This is the base of your skein label. Note that in the example, I stitched over two threads vertically, but on the PS ABC SAL, I have been working over 1.

Step 2: Place two needles to the left and right of the "label" area as far out as you want your floss loops to go. With the color you want your floss to be (Note that in the example I am using a dark brown) come up in the center of the 3 verticle stitches, but do not pierce them.

Step 3: Slide the needle between the fabric and the stitches to the left.

Step 4: Wrap the thread around the "Peg" on the left.

Step 5: Slide the needle back under the three "label" stitches and slip the thread around the peg on the right. (shown here with needle having already completed the wrap and returning to the left). Repeat steps three through 5 until your floss has reached desired thickness.

Step 6: Cut floss, leaving a tail the length of your loops.

Step 7: Using the golden yellow color again, stitch two cross stitches over the vertical stitches.

Step 8: Finish off, remove the needle pegs and fluff your "skein of floss".