Monday, July 28

Finish! Halloween Fairy by Mirabilia! (photo heavy)

I managed to fall wrong during aerial yoga (what? I'm not invincible, you say?  pshaw.) and was homebound for a day, so I thought I'd finally finish Halloween Fairy.   I think I started it two or three years ago? (some time in 2011 maybe?), and finally got around to finishing it.

Unfortunately, New Year's Fairy and Halloween Fairy's threads got all jumbled and I lost some of the threads and beads, so I had to reorder those threads before I could get it all done.

And here she is!  Hoorah!

The whole she-bang :)
Her top half (I almost want to sparkle-out her wings)
Tilted camera angle - for giggles.

A bit of the left wing

The bottom of the piece

Her head and wand - I do love these fun duochromey brown/pink beads.

That pumpkin bag is too adorable.
So that's Halloween Fairy - #3 from the Fairy Holiday Collection by Nora Corbett/Mirabilia.  I think she's the best of all of the fairies (6 of them, I really like 4 of them, I've stitched 3).   She's done with all kit materials, on 32 count natural linen with Crescent Colours.   I know a lot of people change out the fabric, I just really like the simple linen.

Friday, July 25

Another Mirabilia update

Right now, there's nothing terribly exciting going on in life.  We have our three year inspection coming up in two weeks, and work has been a bit insane (levels for signage kind of insane).   I've been a bit antisocial because of the extra workload, and I'm super excited that we're almost in the clear.  TWO. MORE. WEEKS.

But I've seen a couple of movies, and got one color done in the wings for each movie, so huzzah progress!



Two movies... imagine how far I'll get when I eventually make it to binge-watching a TV show!

Not gonna lie - I was a little concerned with the color combos.  It looks different from the cover model, and I wasn't sure what was going on.   Working with hand/over dyes can be so tricky since what might be perfect in one batch could be radically different looking with another, but I do like it so far.

My next goal is to get that final green in the empty spots and then do the hair/skin.  I want to fill everything in before I just go to knock out the main body of the wings.  I'm hoping I have enough Dandelion, I've read that the single skein that the kit came with is sometimes not enough (though I am pretty good at floss conservation), I won't complete each stitch as I go, which will make for a stripe-ier set of wings, but should save floss and look fine, I think.

Monday, July 21

About the cross-stitching me.

Wandering around blogs, I found this questionnaire from Shebafudge, and I thought I'd have some fun with it.

Q1 - How did you start?  Who introduced you to cross stitching?
I started stitching in 1995, I think.  I was staying at my aunt and uncle's house for Spring Break and I needed some gold thread (like a heavy kreinik) to finish a plastic canvas piece I was working on. 
I walked into a specialty stitching shop (Harbour Stitchery) and on the front table there was a chart for Teresa Wentzler's Castle Sampler, and I immediately fell in love.   I had never cross stitched a thing in my life before that.   I bought everything I needed right there on the spot.  
Unfortunately, picking an advance level project (as I call it) without any experience was a bit much.  I only bought the size fabric the design was (without much extra) and just learning to cross stitch from a large confetti, blended thread laden mega-piece was a wee bit too much for me.
Next, I picked up a pretty large Dimensions or Bucilla kit (of leopards in a tree, and don't ask how long I went google searching to see if I could find it!) from Michaels after that and started.  Within a couple of years I was into magazines, silks and linens, and then I found the TWBB while I was in college.  I've been stitching on and off since then.

When I was a kid I did do a lot of crafting.  I knew how to crochet and I had needlepointed (my mother's main hobby), so it wasn't a huge stretch, but it has been my favorite hobby ever since... even when I dabble in others.

Q2 - Favourite theme or designer
The theme is probably fantasy.  And I love certain color combinations, usually the stronger, bolder jewel tones.   I like more realistic things, and primitives and samplers are definitely out for the most part.   Right now, I've been looking at a lot of mandalas, because they are a lot of fun and so beautiful.

My all time favorite designer would have to be Teresa Wentzler, with Nora Corbett and Terry Nolan (of Dimples Designs) following as close seconds.  I have been getting into Tracey Horner's work as well, and a few others.

Q3 - What brand of floss do you use?
DMC for straight cotton, whatever silks or overdyes as appropriate (crescent colours, dinky dyes, etc.).   I do prefer treasure braids over kreiniks, but only when I can reasonably substitute.

Q4 - What is your fabric of choice?
32 count platinum lugana.   Always lugana, usually 32 count, and while hand dyes are beautiful, nothing makes me happier than a nice platinum.

Q5 - Do you use a needle threader or are you a floss licker?
Licker.  All the way.

Q6 - What brand of stitching frame (or hoop or otherwise holder) do you use?
Qsnaps, and Qsnaps only.   I have a scroll frame I started out on, but the project on those frames has been on it since I found Qsnaps and will be the last project done on it (although I'll probably switch over).

Q7 - How many projects have you finished?
A lot.  I don't have a count, especially because I've given many away.

Q8 - How many completed works are hanging in your house?
Right now I have 5:
Charland Designs Tywyn Sampler
Nora Corbett - Letters by Nora: S
Luna Moth by Sandra Paradise
Wizard & Sorceress (2 separate pieces), which were Dimensions (I think?) Kits
I will have Teresa Wentzler's Storyteller and For Amelia by Dimples as soon as they're back from the framer.

Q9 - Do you stitch for gifts or for yourself?
Rarely gifts, usually for myself.

Q10 - Favourite finished cross stitch piece
Tywyn Sampler.  It was an absolute joy to stitch from beginning to end, and it's a beautifully framed piece.  Every time I look at it, I'm just happy.

Q11 - Worst experience whilst stitching?
I stitched Crossed Wing's Snowy Egret for my boyfriend at the time, for his birthday.  I stitched on it non-stop, powering through the whole thing (hating every damned stitch).   I stitched on it as I sat in my aparment, I stitched on it during road trips.  I took it on buses.  I worked my fingers off for that piece, and I got it done in time for a birthday camping trip.  It looked phenomenal, but I just hated the sight of it (as well as actual snowy egrets).   I did manage to sprain my ankle when I was dancing around a fire I was burning the pattern in.  
And of course, and we got married, and then divorced, and I'm just happy I never have to see that piece again.
I really did a great job on it though.  

Q12 - What do you love and hate about cross stitch?
I love the zen.  The up and down of the needle is very meditative for me.
I kind of hate how long it takes to finish some pieces, but overall, that's rare, since I almost only stitch for myself now, so there's never a real deadline.  I've even learned to love backstitching.  Who knew that was possible!

Q13 - Have you introduced anyone else to cross stitching?
One of my friends :) 

Q14 - The first project, did you finish it?
Nope, and I need to re-start it some day :)  I did use the fabric in ornaments and other small pieces.  So the fabric has been used, but that chart has yet to get its day.   It is my goal for my next TW after I finish 2 or 3 pieces, though.

Q15 - How do you store your floss?
My DMC are in storage units like you'd find in a garage - like this unit from a home improvement store.   The overdyes and silks are on rings in photo storage boxes.  I'm not a collector of threads, I only buy them as I need them... but I can't bring myself to throw the remnants away either (since I might need them again in the future)

So that's about it.  I don't think I've ever fully shared the story of the snowy egret, though friends and people I've "known" on BBs have heard it and it was a running joke for a while.

Saturday, July 19

Half Bath Update

So the place we live in is one of those standard contractor "golden oak" and brass fixtured kind of places.  Which is fine, if you're someone else, but I need some color and style in my life.

I've been working on slowly upgrading/updating things through the house, and my most recent project is the downstairs 1/2 bath.

We've already gotten the dining room, living room, and entrance hallway painted and new fixtures are up there (I do want to change out the hinges on the doors and stuff, but that'll just take time, and I might wait for new flooring, because I'll probably have to plane the bottoms of the doors anyway).

So here's my most recent project.  I'm unhappy with the not-so-great pictures, but it's hard to pull off something with the glare of the lighting overexposing what I'm trying to take a picture of - oh well.

What hasn't been done?  New hardware and new faucets. It's on the list, I'm just super proud of the painting/stenciling.

The 9 foot ceilings in such a small space was a serious challenge and involved moves and equipment use that would have made EH&S personnel unhappy.  Good thing I was on my own time at home.  Hah.

I started with this idea after reading a blog post about staining some already-stained cabinets with general finishes java gel stain.   I want to re-do the cabinets in the kitchen, but I thought this would be a good test case, so I bought the stain off of Amazon and set to work. Hopefully the before/after pics work OK.

Here's the before and after shots of the vanity area.  I took down the chrome towel rod and will put up an oil rubbed bronze towel ring, and of course, change out the faucet soon.
The jackalope head has been a running gag, so I couldn't bring myself to remove it from the bathroom.  He just watches from on high now.

This is the money-shot.   The old golden oak and the new "java" stain (forgive the picture that hasn't been hung yet).  I do really like the way it came out, and it looks sharp with the white counter tops I didn't want to have to replace.  I like the wall paint (Benny Moore's Thunder, which is throughout the house) a lot.  It shifts color in the light, and I like the way it makes the 1/2 bath seem warmer and cozier (cozy toilets... there's something to think about!).


This is a really long and narrow room, so I was trying to get a shot of most of it, so I'm aiming into the mirror (obviously) so you can see more of the room.   There will be two prints along that long, blank wall, and I adore the stenciling.
You can see where the gag-jackalope was before the painting (the print on the wall now as the one that was on there before, I just put the jackalope there because I was hosting a game day and it seemed like a fun thing to do).

The back wall with the print.
The stencil is a "negative space" stencil - the darker areas are obviously the areas between the trees.  for the trees, I did a sponge painting with a bunch of different colors (including thunder), so they have a nice mottled look.  Stenciling around the toilet was a bear.

That ceiling is way, way too high, but damn if it doesn't look good with that stencil!

The jackalope, lord of his domain - hah

I'm not thrilled the light hangs down in front of the mirror, but I'll get over it.   I still like it better than the strip light.

And here are two of the dragonfly prints on the wall.  They've been languishing in the laundry room (which I really should take pictures of, I'm rather proud of that room).

So that's the latest status of home wrecking.  I'll want to complete this bathroom soon, and then move on to the master bath or kitchen (whichever!  or both!).

Friday, July 18

State of the WIPs

I decided to do a "baseline" post about where the WIPs are at, as I'm starting out.

I've got the new Deco Spirits and Halloween Fairy updates already up, but what about everything else that's been languishing?

Well - here's a rundown :)

Book of Ink Circles - a carpet page mystery by Ink Circles (starring Barfy).
I did get the entire outline done before she started releasing pages, but I never actually got to the pages.  I am hoping to do one or two pages at a time in the rotation, so hopefully it'll be done "soon" :)
I've become "re-jazzed" about this one, but I'm more than a little concerned I might have lost my threads and do not look forward to having to re-figure out what I started with.   The upside is that they would just need to be "close enough" because the entire border is done, which is a plus.   If they don't match exactly, I clearly did it "on purpose" right?

So much sparkly barf!

Egyptian Sampler by Teresa Wentzler.     I bought it when it was still a kit (and it seemed like a chart was unlikely to come soon - haha!).  I've included two shots, one of how far I had gotten before a UFO-RR and one of how it came home.   The only thing I changed from the kit (because it was DMC and therefore not necessary) was the fabric.  That's Vintage Linen or whatever it's called - it looks all parchment-y)

Before the UFO-RR, clearly I was zipping right along...

After the UFORR, I've started to actually feel excited about this piece!
 My Wee-Beastie RR... I have a wing left to do on the Thyridia, but it's all done and the "boxes" I designed just need to be stitched.  It should be a fairly fast and easy stitch, but, me...

It's like I have a complete inability to finish anything, no matter how close I am!
 Fantasy Sampler by Teresa Wentzler.
My first started TW, and I started in in 1999... it's probably about time I just bite the bullet and finish this one.  I *really* want to get it framed, and I think it shouldn't take all that long.  Amirite?!

And again, shouldn't take toooooo long, but, me.
 Celestial Dragon, by TW.   Let's be honest - this one will be a while ;)  But hopefully I can at least get around to finishing the border, so I can get onto the confetti-fest of the dragon.

Only I could stall out that close to being done with the border!
Fortunate Traveler by TW
Oh, look, MOAR BORDER!  I'll probably do the picture last, but again, I really want to get it framed.

Oh, look, another border stall!  Shock of shocks!
Freshwater Pearls, which was a DMC freebie.
I am not as jazzed about this piece as i used to be, but it shouldn't be all that hard.  It's a crap ton of whole stitches, and I probably should have done it on aida, but I was going through a fabric-snob stage.  I also kind of wish I had either done it over one, or done it on canvas in continental/tent.  oh well, live and learn.

While we're at it, there's nothing "Freshwater" about this piece.

Phoenix by Dracolair.
I don't think I've stitched a lick of this piece since starting it at the CATS where I bought it!

No really, saddest start and stop, ever.
Enchanter, which I got as a kit. 
I have repeatedly thought about adopting this one out.
I'm *still* thinking of adopting this one out.
My goal for this one, isn't just to stitch the border like I do with most TWs (only because once upon a time I found the repetetive border stitching awful, though now I like it), but to make sure that the fabric is actually big enough for the whole piece (damn kit makers always do that with fabric).

I couldn't prove worse "border stall syndrome" if I tried.
Celestial Dragon by Pinn -
I got this far.  And this far only.  It was a gift from my aunt (complete with threads) and I just couldn't bother because it's such a huge piece with so much solid stitching... it's also not really my style, so off it went.  It got lost in a UFORR from a few years ago (and by a few years, I mean that I was living in another state when it started!!!), but should be on its way home soon now.

I don't have pictures for Celtic Ferret Knot or Poseidon/Neptune.

Celtic Ferret knot by White Willow isn't very far along, but I'm stitching it with black DMC and then overdyes to make it more interesting.   I only really started a bit in the muzzle, but when I get back to it, I will go ahead and take before/after shots.
The best part about that piece was that I was in Montreal in 2011 and I saw someone at the same convention i was at stitching on this piece in the hotel lobby!

Neptune-Poseidon by Lynne Nicoletti is likewise not very far along, and not really in my 'style' but terribly fun looking, and a gift/RAK/Secret Stitcher gift from someone "back in the day" :)

Wednesday, July 16

WIPocalypse - July edition.

So for S&Gs, I'm joining in the WIPocalypse stitchalong (hosted by Measi).  Most of my projects are really, really old (with the exception of the Mirabilia Fairies, Celtic Ferret Knot, and Deco Spirits, all well over 6 years old!), and I've already set up a rotation to try to reduce the number I had.  I thought joining in would keep me a little more accountable for posting stitching updates, even if I probably feel like I shouldn't :)

This month’s discussion topic is:  It’s halfway to Christmas.  Do you start your holiday stitching this early?  If so, what do you hope to accomplish this year?

I have never been huge into Christmas, though I used to make some ornaments (and collect the JCS ornament edition), but it's been a long, long time since I've worried about making pieces for other people, nevermind the holidays.   When I do stitch something with a holiday theme, I don't tend to put a deadline on when it's done.  So nothing for me!

Speaking of holiday work - my current project is still the Mirabilia Holiday Fairy - Halloween.  I worked on it a bit during the World Cup, but didn't get too far because I was enjoying a rather strong cocktail made by a friend.  I did the rest last night while watching 12 Years a Slave.

Here's my before fairy - pretty much everything in the skirt done except for the beads

And here's the after - The other edges of the wings (in Black Coffee) are done!

She's a really big fairy (you know, for a small fairy)!  I mean, all of them are approximately the same sized, but the span of her wings is sizable.    I think I'll enjoy the New Year Fairy after her, because that fairy is so tiny in comparison!

Tuesday, July 8

Framing Part 4 - Letters from Nora - S

A couple of years ago, while visiting friends (there seems to be a theme here), I decided that I was determined to start stitching again.   While I seem to have very little time between social activities and other hobbies, I did miss stitching, and I still have a large portion of my stitching "stuff"

Nora Corbett had a "Letters from Nora" alphabet releasing in parts and the "S" (for Samantha, though I call her Wendy) came out, and I was so happy.   I was worried that I would hate the S fairy, because I really liked some of the letters, and other not-so-much, but she was adorable, the S was adorable, and I really liked the colors.

And it took me 2 years to stitch... hey, a lot was going on!

So when I went on my trip, and I knew that I was going to get something framed, this was, without a doubt, the first piece that popped into my head.   And I'm really pleased with the results.  She's super pretty, and I already knew where to put her in my home.

The whole piece - pretty color correct on my monitor.
She was stitched on antique white linen (I did not like the green called for in the chart)
There is a rusty mat, a pink mat (to pull the pinks in the "tail" of the S), and the top mat is a purple suede.
The framer is a wood that is painted purpley, with the distressed edges.  Much love.

My attempt to show off the mat and frame - they're more purple and less brown than I'm seeing on my monitor.
The piece sits on a wall that is painted purple ("black raspberry" by Benny Moore), so it both blends into the wall from afar and looks phenomenal from up close.

Detail with the face and framing... pretty color accurate, I think!

On my stenciled wall - The near photo is an original black and white of my maternal grandparents' wedding (with the original folder "mat" from the photographer being used!), the far, my paternal.

Same shot, different angle, this time my paternal grandparents (original tinted, btw!  The artist that owns the framing studio here was amazed), and then the maternal far... you can see a glimpse of my Ursula Vernon print on the other side of the stair bannister thing.

So yes, I'm so glad that this framing is everything I hoped it would be.  The framer wouldn't let me have my antiquey silver frame like I wanted, but I like his choice better (I'm sure he WOULD have, but I really like what he suggested).  I can't wait to see the mermaid alphabet's version of S as well, since it's such a fun letter.

Framing Part 3 - Tywyn Sampler

I cannot, for the life of me, remember when I bought Tywyn Sampler.   I do know I was living in Austin, so sometime between 1996 and 1999, most likely.   I picked it up from Gingers, which at the time was a fantastic cross stitch shop, but has sadly closed.   They were on the bus route from UT, so I could visit without any problems.     I actually bought the chart with the threadpack, so it came with all of the fibres and silver dragon charm in it.

It was my first major silk piece, and it was also my very first cut work.  

I stitched it in 2001 and this piece was an utter joy to stitch from beginning to end.  I love the variegated silks and all of the fun specialty stitches, and the alphabet was fun, too (I used the Welsh instead of the English - though both were charted so you could choose).

I'm also thrilled that I could include my name in the piece as part of a band, rather than having to find some unobtrusive corner to stick my initials in.

Please excuse the overload, this is one of my favorite pieces of all time, and the frame job on it is even better than I thought it would be (not that I wasn't there when everything was picked out, but seeing it all together is just jaw droppingly gorgeous in my opinion)

The whole piece, on the wall... that paint shifts from that tan to a grey in the light and I love the piece on it.

The whole gorgeous, gorgeous piece.  Dark green mat bottom, followed by a taupey color that matches the threads, and the burgundy suede mat of awesome.

Another picture, which is colored oddly, but shows off the specialty stitches better

The beautiful wyvern top that initially drew me in. Beautiful silky dragon.

The top mat is more greeny ecru than green, but I like this shot of everything together. 

Another frame/stitching detail shot.

I'm so in love with this piece and framing job it's ridiculous.   The first thing I did was look for (and find!) a great place to hang it in my living room so I can gaze at it whenever the mood strikes (which right now is pretty much "always").

Framing - Part 2 - For Amelia!

This is my second framed piece, and I don't have as many detail shots... I am hoping to add them in later.   Due to what was probably a minor miscommunication, I didn't get the spacers I had hoped (see, hoped, not asked!) for, so I will take care of that with a local framer..

For Amelia was a class that Terry offered years ago at CATS (2001?  I can't remember!).   A friend of mine signed up for the class but didn't want to stitch the piece, so she was kind enough to sell me her kit!

The piece was stitched on Lt Pansy linen by Glenshee Linens, and I learned an important lesson in hand dyed linens (this was my first).   It is all silks and delicas, definitely worth the premium price that I paid.

These are probably so similar I don't need to upload both images, but I am rather proud of her.
There is glass on the piece, I was trying to reduce the glare (it's regular glass). 
I'm not super thrilled with the piece ONLY because there is a lot of purple going on, and I'm not sure how I feel about that, though I love the actual frame.   I'm sure once I find her proper place in the house, I'll calm down... I think my penchant for "conservative" fabrics is playing into my less than utter love ;)

Unfortunately, the designer is no longer designing (heck, no one seems to know where he is), and luckily I have pretty much all of the charts of his that I want (rather, I have all of the charts for pieces I have not done - all of my completed charts I have given away).

I did find an interesting blog post that lists everything he's done, which is really helpful/awesome.  And as far as I can tell, For Amelia is still available as a chart pack at a few online shops.

Framing - part 1 (of 4!) - Luna Moth

I'm splitting up my framing post into 4, because it is a little pic heavy and I wanted to give appropriate weight to each one, because I adore them all :)

Recently I visited some friends, and they had a local framer they really like... So I packed up 5 pieces to take with with me, intending to frame 2, hoping to frame more, depending on the cost.

I ended up framing all 5!   Three of them were easy, obvious choices for me, but in the giant tub of "other pieces" I had to choose... And this is one of the ones I chose -
Luna Moth by Sandra Paradise from the March 2004 issue of Stitcher's World.

I loved the model in the photo, and had a fantastic (small) piece of sky blue evenweave and decided to go with that.  I fussed and complained, because the beads were giving me fits, but I finally finished it in September 1, 2008.    And it's absolutely gorgeous.  The piece is heavy as anything I've ever stitched, but it has a fantastic and beautiful sparkle that cannot be beat.

It was an utter bear to frame.  I wanted matting, and the colors in the Luna Moth presented a unique challenge to the framer.   I kind of hated the greenish linen mat he picked out, but in the end he was right.  Just as I was right to really want the purple mats underneath.  He definitely did a great job, and I love it.

The whole piece - the lighting is a bit off, but I couldn't get the gold of the frame and the green of the mat to play nicely with my camera phone or editing, and I'm too lazy to bust out the Lightroom for this today ;)

Hopefully you can see all of the beading.  And confetti!

Some detail of the mat/framing

More detail shots... that's "regular" glass, not glare free... I'm kind of choosy on when I bother with that.
So all in all, I adore this piece and I'm ever so glad I chose it for framing.   I don't know anyone else who has stitched this, so the fact that it's a pretty unique piece is awesome, too (though, really, people, you should, it's GORG!).

The pattern is still available (for cheaps!) at Herrschners as a download (clickity click).