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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Samplers

Thanks for all your congrats.  That was really nice.  Baby Gabe is doing well.  We had a video chat with him and the rest of the family yesterday.  My son was so sweet toward the end, talking about how glad he was that I had gotten us set up with the webcam because it used to upset him that we were missing out on Emma growing up.  He said that now, we will be able to see Gabe's progress. 

He said that Gabe is still "frog-legged" which I guess is because of the C-section birth, but, he's been stretching out on his own.  They say when he stretches, he looks like Superman, flying.  He also told us that Gabe's got a cyst on his eyelid that will have to be removed when he's about 1 year old.  I understand that this happens frequently - it's extra skin that developed, but not fully - and that the surgery is routine. 

And no, I'm not going to visit him on the webcam everyday and watch his toenails grow.  I'm not that kind of gramma.  In other words, H-E-L-I-C-O-P-T-E-R is not my middle name; a fact for which I think my daughter in law is eternally grateful.

I have been working still on the American Sampler and here are some progress photos:

 I just adore these birds that are at the top of the columns.  They are SO pretty.  I'm thinking that when this is all done, I may stitch them on larger count fabric, like Tula, and make them into clippy birds for the Christmas tree - like the needlepoint birds I showed you last time.  Speaking of those needlepoint birds, I'm so glad you all liked those too.  I'm salivating to get started on one, but am holding myself back.

This is an over-view of the center section of the sampler which is complete - well, sorta.  I'm going to put a different phrase in the cartouche.  And hey, turns out I used the wrong color altogether for the grass.  It was supposed to be 3347 not 732.  Now, how I made that reading mistake when I went back several times to check, I have no idea, but I did.  I am still going to live with it.

 Here is a detail of the Lady that you can see in the overall picture above.  She is stitched over one.  Whew!  That was something else.  But it just makes that center pop having her there.  I tell you, the photos here and in the magazine, do not do this sampler justice - even with my mistakes it's going to be one of those that I will greatly anticipate and then love to hang on my walls.

And here is the overall progress to date.  A little more of those golden green cross stitches and then some leaves in cross stitch on the to do list for tonite and then I'll begin on some Queen Stitches.  I really despise working on Queen Stitches.  Valerie, down at Shenandoah Sampler did such a beautiful job with hers, but I'm not that good.  I will give it a go and if it becomes too much for me, I'm converting them over to cross-stitch.  But I'll give it a go.  Anyway, I decided that since I dread them so much, I'll work some cross, then some Queen and then go back to some cross again.  If I break it up, maybe I can get through it?  Would that all the world's problems were this great!  It is also nice to be working on this sampler at this time of year because it just makes me feel springy!

Our weather has changed from distinctly summer-like (82 on Thursday afternoon) to cool, damp and springy.  I will have to mow the grass tomorrow once it dries off.  And, of course, all the peach trees have bloomed as well as the cherries and last I looked, my pears are about to break out in song.  Unfortunately, the weatherman is saying the Shenandoah Valley may be hit on Tuesday morning by frost.  That would be terrible for the crops.  Here are a few pictures of what's been going on outside my door -

 Above is a from the bottom, up - photo of my weeping cherry tree. 

When I was walking back up the driveway the other day, after getting the mail, I noticed some pink blossoms along the fence row that I'd never seen before.  Upon closer inspection I found what is shown at left.  It is probably a volunteer that originated in my compost pile.  There were two more actually growing out of the compost pile.  I am not a serious composter, and the ground hog eats much of what I put down there.  In fact, she may be responsible for this one along the fence row.  I'm thinking of relocating the two in the compost pile to somewhere in the landscape.  I'm not one to turn down free trees.

Below is a photo from last weekend when it was foggy and my Yoshino cherry was still in bud.  Later in the day, it would be in full bloom.

And, while this last one is not a stupendous photo, it does show an apple orchard on the left and a peach orchard in the back along one of the toes of the mountain.  Hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fabulous News!

Our new family addition has arrived.  His name is Gabe.  He's very healthy and so is his mom.  Daddy and big sister are just tickled pink too!

He's all bundled up.  Mitch said that he didn't like being cold, but once he was all snuggly, he got very mellow.  I can relate.  Although we can't really tell who he looks like right now, I'm thinking he's got my son's nose.  We'll see.  Now I can finish stitching that birth sampler that I got started for him.  The "Poop Deck" changing pad cover was well received.  I'm sure he'll be christening it soon!  Arrrrghhhh!!!  And Emma liked her skirt.

We celebrated the birthday of one of my stitchy friends yesterday with a trip down to the Needlewoman East in Falls Church, VA.  I discovered something that I just LOVE!  It's needlepoint, but I figured maybe some of you might do needlepoint.  After all, it is just half a cross stitch.

Designed by Labors of Love Needlepoint, it's a clip on bird.  I won't show you the painted canvas, but here's a picture of the bird that was on display . . . .

I got the canvan for this bird that was stitched with Kreinik fibers.  I have a boatload of Kreinik so decided to do the same (that's why Liz let me take the picture).  The birds come with the canvas and a little baggy of feathers and clippy legs that they are finished with.  I also picked up the canvas for a Blue Jay that I will stitch with Silk 'n' Lame because Liz said it was easier to stitch with than Kreinik is.  She's right, Kreinik metallics can get kinda bunched up.

I have several glass clippy leg bird ornaments for the Christmas tree and I just love them; in fact, had to perform leg surgery on one this past season so I could put her up on the tree.  These will go right along with them and hopefully be appreciated long after I am gone.  The Blue Jay is going to be for my husband - he really likes them.

There was a whole collection of clippy leg birds at the shop, and I found the website of the designer Labors of Love Needlepoint, although apparently you can't purchased directly from them, you can see the canvases.  Unfortunately no pictures of finished birds. 

Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Christmas Rules Give Away Winner, &tc.

Pulled the name just a few minutes ago for the collection of Lizzie Kate Christmas Rules charts.  Without further ado, the winner is Jonette.  If I'm recalling correctly, she is in the medical profession and we've been corresponding lately over our shared trauma joy of stitching those detailed stockings for our family members.  So, Jonette, I've sent you an email to get your mailing address.

Speaking of stockings, I put the final touches on the one for my DIL.  Here is how it looks overall:

Bookcase Detail
Tree Decorations Detail

The cranberries on the bookcase were kind of a flop in my opinion, but I'm not unstitching all those beads!!!!  Shudder to think!  I was, however, particularly happy with the candy canes on my tree that peeks out behind the chair in the toe.  In fact, if I didn't tell  you there was a tree there, most people would probably miss it, right?  Anyway, the candy canes are stitched  with Kreinik braid #4 in white and some dazzling hot pink/red using the Whipped Backstitch that I learned in the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Donna Kooler.  Funny that it should be that writer on this project as these stockings (at least most of them) came out of the Donna Kooler Design Studio.

I'm pretty sure most of the stockings were designed by Sandy Orton.  I think that's funny, because she also designed the American Sampler and that's the project I've picked up to work on since I finished the stocking.  Here's one of the little sheep from the front yard . . . .

 And I do mean little.  This sucker is only about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch.  I'm sure I told you this already, but my family is used to my repeating myself - ya'll might as well get used to it too.  I am not going to go out of my way to stitch over one on this bad boy.  If it can be stitched over two, I'm going to.  This sheap is an example of that.  It was supposed to be all over one, but I think the combi-stitches give it a fluffy, sheep-like appearance.  What do you think?  And, if you don't agree, you can say that too.

Here's how far I've gotten:

I have made a huge mistake that is also going to stay in.  See all the green grass?  Well, the chart called for 732 (DMC - that's what I'm using to stitch this with - on Lakeside Navy Bean 32 ct.).  So I had my little bobbin of 732 and was stitching away.  And I thought, wow, this is pretty dark, the other things aren't showing up too well on this.  I checked my bobbin - rechecked the chart, several times - to make sure I was using the right color.  And it was the right color.  And then, I ran out.  I reached into my stash of DMC to pull out another 732.  And I didn't have one.  I had 730, 731, 733 but no 732.  Then I noticed that 731 (or was it 733?) anyway, I noticed that whatever number that was looked an awful lot like the one I'd been using to stitch the grass.  And so I pulled some off and threaded my needle and started stitching and it WAS a perfect match.  GASP!  I had been stitching with the wrong color.  I had the wrong color on my bobbin!  Sacre bleu!   (fill in horror show music here).  I sat there starring, because you see, I'd already stitched 3/4's of the grass.  Oh, screw it!  I said and finished it off in the wrong color.  Then I back stitched in a darker brown the tree trunks and decided that everything else contrasted well enough.  And it's fine.  Right?

Working on the tree trunks now and figured out - after I thought I'd made another mistake - that the two tree trunks, while very similar, are both actually different.  Whew!  So, that's what I'm doing now. 

The new granchild is due any day and then I'll have to finish stitching up his birth announcement.  I also have to get his quilt quilted and finished.  Granddaughter's skirt is on the way to her as is the changing table pad cover that I made.  Remember that I told you they have a pirate theme going?  Well, here's the cover I made for the pad:

And yes, for the English majors out there - I do know that I left out the apostrophe.  That's it, that's all I've got.  Jonette, don't forget to email me - and I hope ya'll enjoyed.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Early March Update

Well, I've been hard at work on my DIL's Christmas stocking and I'm happy to say that I'm close to finishing it.  Here's a picture of the overall status:

I have done all the regular cross stitching as well as all the back stitching that makes many of the objects "pop".  I've also done most of the Kreinik fiber stitching.  That's the "bling" part.  Right now, if you can see it, down in the toe, where just a portion of the bottom of a Christmas tree is peeking into the picture, I've stitched the gold garland and am in the process of stitching a few candy canes using the last of the Kreinik.

Next I'll add popcorn garland and bead "ornaments" to the small tree on the bookcase and some bead "ornaments" to the peeking tree.  The last step will be stringing beads to make cranberry strings and I'll couch those down in droops along some of the shelves on the bookcase.  Then I'll put done on the stocking.

Here are some pictures of the details of the stocking:

Old fashioned "desk top"

Santa, Mini-tree and School Bus

     Was able to put the pictures where I wanted them to be for once!
Stuff on the Rug
Sunflowers and Graded Papers
Name Bling

You all were so nice about my last post, wishing me well on the blogoversary.  Can't wait to see who the giveaway winner is.  If you missed it, the post on the giveaway can be found here.

LOTS of you liked the tennis pillow with the cool trim.  Yes, I did design it.  The moment she gave it to me, I knew what I wanted the trim to be - tennis balls - because that's the only thing that made sense; right?  Sometimes I can be quite the idiot-savant when it comes to those sorts of things.  I searched online at some of the trim places I deal with for tennis ball trim and much to my disappointment, there was none to be found.  I actually contemplated how I could hand draw little white lines on yellow pom poms to make them look like tennis balls, but quickly gave up that idea. 

Back to the drawing board.  Note quite ready to give up on the tennis-themed idea, I briefly entertained thoughts of purchasing tennis racket charms, but that worked out to be too expensive.  WAY too expensive.  Hmmmm.   Then, suddenly the lightbulb went on.  It was because of the charms that I thought about jewelry and that made me think about beads.  And tennis ball beads, it turns out, I could find.  I located a bead shop in Florida and they had them in all sorts of sizes.  So, I'm sitting here in front of my computer trying to figure out what size would work best and decided it had to be the largest ones.  They weren't exactly cheap, but were much less costly than the charms.

I moved on to trying to figure out how I would attach them.  Not yarn or string, that wouldn't look right.  Then the light flipped on again and I went - tennis shoe laces!  Of course!  When the beads came and I was all excited to execute my plan.  I got my shoe laces at the grocery store, but have since found out that you can get all kinds of colors at Target in the shoe department.  Then I found out that the shoe laces wouldn't fit through the holes in the beads.  The hole looked big enough, but I could not make those laces go through.  Harumpf!

I pulled out my trusty drill and drilled every single bead just slightly larger.  My husband was freaking, he thought I was going to drill right through my hand, but I didn't - this wasn't my first rodeo doing something like that.  Holes re-drilled, I strung the beads on the laces and then pinned them to a piece of ribbon that would be the skeleton that I sewed into the seam of the pillow.  I put the ribbon on my cutting mat on a straight edge and used the lines on the cutting mat to keep me putting the laces on the right distance apart and the beads all at the same distance from the ribbon edge.  The laces curved back and forth down the ribbon like a bunch of "S"s one on top of the other.  Then I affixed white, jumbo zig zag trim because I thought it would need something right at the edge of the seam.  The final step was to sew the new trim pieces onto the pillow and sew it all up.

My customer was absolutely thrilled with the outcome.  She's giving the pillow as a gift to a friend of hers that is in her 80's and is the "world's biggest tennis fan".  She kept saying "she'll love it", "she'll love it".  Which of course is the best thing I could have heard her say.  I'm tickled pink that you guys liked it too. 

It's been a very weird winter here.  Yes, we've had some cold days, but not real cold like we usually do each winter.  Last month's electric bill was a surprise, about $50.  That's because the power company had been estimating our usage - for three months.  Then they came out and did an actual reading and found they'd been WAY over-estimating.  So, we got the credit we deserved and paid a nice low bill for once.  This month's bill was pretty good too.  Each week we have several 60 or 70 degree days and the forecast for next week is 70's all the way from Monday through the week.  While it's nice, it makes me worry about the summer weather ahead.

My daffodils are already blooming - a month ahead.  I'm sure that the apple and peach blossoms are not far away.  I noticed my pear trees are budding up already.  The robins are back already and I've also seen the birds performing their mating rituals - early, I think.  A blue bird flew across the road in front of me the other day.  Apple Blossom time is early May around here, but I'll bet they'll be a whole month early.  And then we have to worry about frosty mornings that will destroy the crops.  Ah well, mother nature is a wonder.  I'll close with a picture of a peach orchard in full bloom.   Hope you enjoyed.