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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm So Proud of Myself! And More About The Chase

When I began stitching The Chase, I was quite doubtful that I would be finishing it. You see, I have a confession - amongst my other sins, I'm not a good embroiderer. I can cross stitch, but have never been very good at all the other embroidery stitches. So, I figured that I would do the cross stitches and then I'd TRY to do the embroidery, fail, and pass the thing on to my very good friend Betty, to finish the embroidery stitches.

At the end of March, I'd finished almost all the blankity blank cross stitches on the goofy printed x's. So I began this month with what I call the embroidery stitching - everything else that isn't x's. With much trepedation I began with this . . .

I decided to start off very small; working the flowers and the birds.  The birds are only like an inch and a half wide.  I figured with something small it would be less to tear out before I handed it over to my friend.  Apparently an alien life form has taken over my body. SHE can do embroidery. She had better give me my body back when she's finished stitching this thing.  Or maybe stick me in a size 10 body; yeah, that's the ticket.  Because this is what I ended up with in the same area this month - we'll call it Area 51.

I cannot tell you how much gratification I got out of the result.  Much encouraged, I re-rolled the scroll bars and got down to the bottom of the sampler.  That's where all the non-x embroidery work goes in.  And I began . . . 
This is the tree that is in the center of the lower design.  Now, you are just going to want to smack me because I am just beside myself pleased at how it came out.  My husband said I wasn't going to get over myself for at least two days.  Maybe three!  The tree trunk and main branches are stitched in Long and Short stitch.  The leaves are in Satin stitch; outlined with Stem stitch - as are the minor branches and stems.  The fruit is done using the New England Laid stitch.

Now, about technicalities - you will recall that Sandra very kindly supplied me with the directions to this thing - the one thing that my cheap kit did not contain when I got it.  But I was hanged if I could see real well the instructions for doing the New England Laid stitch.  Well, I have about 8 stitch encyclopedias.  So, I really didn't think it would be a problem to find  directions.  Boy, was I wrong!  I finally found them in my copy of The Complete Illustrated Stitch Encyclopedia.

I have sort of gotten ahead of myself though . . .   Did you know that for the life of me, I have never ever been able to do a competent French Knot?  Nope.  And those little birdies?  They all have French Knot eyes.  And the flowers have French Knot centers.  So, I laid out all my encyclopedias open to the French Knot page.  And the one that I found the illustration was most clear - and easiest to follow?  The Complete Illustrated Stitch Encyclopedia.  Yep.  I am not a paid spokesperson for The Complete Illustrated Stitch Encyclopedia either.  But I should be.  This book rocks!  I can now do a French Knot!  Easy Peasy!  And the New England Laid stitch too.

And just in case you missed it, (I have one more day to get over myself according to my husband) here's a detail of the tree.

Some of my New England Laid work is better than others.  But by God, those lines are covered and those things look like fruit!  BTW - I'm calling them peaches from now on.  I live surrounded by peach and apple orchards so I can attest - they look like peaches.

Now, I had a comment from a reader and I would have responded to her directly, but she has no email address on her account.  Ugh . . . .  oh, and I don't respond to Anonymous comments either - because I can't - if you're posting anonymously there's no way to get back to you!  But, that's another kind of encyclopedia that explains that.  And yes, I know that sounds rude but, ugh. . . . .  Anyway, back to the question by Jonette - she said she's recently gotten The Chase sampler too and asked if I'd considered changing the colors at all.

My answer - are you crazy?????  I mean that in the nicest possible way, really.  I'm laughing and crying at the same time.  Seriously, this thing, up until now, has driven me nuts!  When I colored in a coloring book at the age of two I colored between the lines!  It has been all I could do to stay sane with the different sized X's and crooked threads and all that.  Now, I am one to change up color schemes on tons of things.  I mean, did you see what I did to Adam Names the Creatures?  But no, changing the colors in this sampler would have thrust me over the edge, I think.

It is something to think about though.  I think this sampler kit was done back in the 60's or 70's?  And I'm not really sure how much they really understood historic samplers back then .  I once had a very interesting conversation with Robin Laukhuf of Old Willow Stitchery.  She told me that if you have an antique sampler, you should look at the back to see what the original colors were.  You can see Robin's articles frequently in the Gift of Stitching magazine.  You see, on the back of samplers the threads are protected from sunlight and therefore, less apt to be bleached out by it.  This is a technique they used when reproducing some of the samplers from the Tennessee Sampler Survey.

I think it is most likely that the sampler The Chase, was reproduced from what the front looks like, or their best guess of what it would have looked like originally.  For instance, in the peaches, there are two pinks used, but most of the peaches are done in a wheat color.  I would be willing to bet good money that the color was probably something closer to apricot originally.  But then, unless they open up the frame down in Williamsburg and look at the back, we'll never know.  Sigh.

For those whom I have offended, I'm sorry.  Really.  Usually I'm nicer.  I'm a bit punchy lately because of an overwhelming volunteer workload.  Yes, I said volunteer.  Things should be much better after May 7th.  Until then, I am de-stressing every evening with The Chase.  Can you believe it?  As much as I moaned and groaned about this thing for three months (ad nauseum) I just LOVE it now.  I cannot wait to do some more embroidery projects.  Yikes, this may spell the end of cross stitching as I know it !!  Hope you enjoyed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Think Spring Has Arrived - and AotH Update

I think we've had just about enough rain now, thank-you.  I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger.  Spent all last week working on stuff at the historical society.  That's all it is now is stuff - there's so much of it, that I can't tell one project apart from the other anymore.  We are hosting our annual Heritage Day celebration on May 7 and so that is a target date for us to get a lot done by.  Also, as treasurer, I had to gather all the documen-tation that needed to go to the accountant for tax prep.  Although, the organization's taxes aren't due until May 15, I had to get the stuff to him by April 15.  This is the first time for me, so I wasn't prepared for all the work that was involved.  I'll be much better prepared next year.  I got all that stuff done before I had my own taxes done!

So, hubby and I sat here yesterday putting our taxes together.   As Lurch would say in the Addams Family - uuuuuggggghhhhhhh !!!!

But, enough about all that; you wanted to see the update on AotH, didn't you?  I finally got a scroll bar to fit my wider fabric piece.  Then promptly made a mistake with where I put the Arpil block.  Right where the 1st bonus block is supposed to be.  I'll do the March block next (in May - since I had to do May in March) and will put the 1st bonus block on the other side of April.  Without further delay - Here it is - the April block -

At the bottom you can see the E May GB  - that stands for Ella May Genn.  She was my father's mother.  And now you've probably picked up on the recurring "May".  It was Ella's middle name as well as the middle name of her sister's daughter who will appear in the series later.  Oddly enough, my father managed to meet and marry a woman whose middle name was also May (see the entry for the month of May).  They turned the coincidence into a sort-of family tradition by giving me the same middle name (as seen in January).   As luck would have it, when my granddaughter was born, my son insisted that they use the middle name May for her - so she is Emma May.  

The other day my younger son and I were discussing his favorite colors when he was young.  We decided to look in his baby book to confirm our discussion.  We didn't find that information, but I did find something else interesting - there was a question - what if your baby had been the opposite sex, what would you have named it?  The answer was Caitlin May.  Huh.  Funny, I had forgotten that.  But, clearly it is now a firmly established family tradition.  And, not one that is restricted to descendancy - it has flitted around the family in my tree.

Ella May Genn, Wilmington, Delaware about 1908
I don't know a lot about Ella.  I have a dirth of photographs of her but am lean on the 411.  I remember my father saying that she'd killed her husband (his father) with a frying pan.  In actuality, his father had died in his 40's of a heart attack.  Perhaps brought on by the threat of a frying pan?  We'll never know.  She lived with us when I was very, very young.  I remember back to when I was 3-1/2 and have no recollection of her.  But, my sisters were well known to say that she was mean.  

In the pictures I see something different.  I see someone who was very serious. Who knows what her past had been like?  But, she married a fine Irish lad whose parents had come over on the boat.  And they, most of them, had a great sense of humor.  So maybe she was like my husband - who had no sense of humor when we married, but has picked one up on long association (or perhaps self-defense) with me.  Maybe she wanted someone who could make her laugh and when she lost him, was mad at the world about it.  She lived a very long, but probably not entirely happy life.  

Ella was born on December 30, 1885 in the small town of North East (very imaginative name ey? - it's northeast of Baltimore), Maryland.  That's Cecil County, right at the top of the Chesapeake Bay and near the mouth of the Susquehanna.  They have some gorgeous high views of the bay up there.  When she was 24 years old she married my grandfather.  I think that was a little old by the standards of the day.  But, there had been some upheaval in the family - her older sister had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, the baby was born when Ella was 10.  I'm sure it was a scandal that may have taken her family down the social ladder a peg or two.  Perhaps she grew up with the admonishment - don't be intimate with a boy until you're good and married !  She and husband Joe lived in Wilmington and had four children.  The twin girls, Sarah and Ella (May) died at birth.  In April of 1970 Ella died in Bothell, Washington.  She was buried beside her husband in Wilmington.

About 1930

One thing that's interesting about Ella - well, not her precisely, but it is through her that this connection comes down to me - - -   Way, way back up her family tree is James Genn, a great, great uncle times so many.  He was the surveyor who took George Washington out on his first run through the wilderness as an apprentice.  

And then there are the initials TC and 1760 to the left and right of the house.  Those stand for Thomas Cochran who was born in April of 1760.  He is my DAR ancestor.  He was, as they called it back then, an indian spy.  He and his company fought the native Americans in Georgia in the area that is known as the Hornet's Nest - and beyond.

Oh!  Almost forgot to say - I have changed out all the Crescent Colours in this block for WDW conversions.  Where I couldn't find a conversion I used the DMC in the booklet.  Also, LOTS of changes to the design in this one; most particularly, got rid of the bowl of salad on the roof of the house.