Tuesday, November 25

November TUSAL

It's TUSAL time again!  TUSAL is a project run by Daffycat, click on the button on the right hand bar for more details.

Here it is! 

Not much new - just some black from working on Ferret Knot and the threads from Immaculate Hart.

Monday, November 24

And thank the baby monkeys, the kitchen is done.

I had another home project that ate up most of my time - this time it was the kitchen!

I had previously posted about the bathroom, and the bathroom was actually the test run before I tackled the kitchen.   The kitchen had the same "golden oak" that is so ubiquitous in newer model homes that I hate :)

I also wanted to paint the walls.  Originally I was going to go for a muted green, but then I decided to carry the same color from the rest of the main living area (Benny Moore's Thunder) through onto the walls, and go with a greenish tile backsplash.

Hilariously, I was shopping tile online and went to area stores to look at the finalists in person and chose a tile I had totally dismissed online (it was grey, even though the name was "seaweed").  I happened to be flipping through tile boards when I saw the perfect tile and it was my seaweed.  Hah.

Sadly, I cannot find any before pictures, so you'll have to imagine boring oak cabinets with white walls and no backsplash, because I fail.   I will update this entry if I manage to unearth any (I thought I had taken some!)

I first ran across the technique for staining dark/espresso from this blog post that I ran across.  And then to do the tile, which was surprisingly easy, I just surfed DIY videos on Youtube.

I have to apologize regarding the quality of the photos.   It's been so rainy lately that I haven't gotten a lot of good lighting to work with.  C'est la vie.

We have one of those weird desk/storage cubby things one one end.   The crate obviously works out there, and that's the counter where I dump all of my crap when I walk in from the garage.  This was the first spot I finished paining/staining and I was rather pleased with it.

 This took up the bulk of the time, we have tons of cabinet space (yay?).   I had to re-poly these, because the satin poly I had bought actually dried to a high gloss.  It's much better now.
I find the kitchen a little dark, so I will take out the fluorescent lights and either put in can lights or track lighting (still deciding!!!)
But most importantly, you can see all of that magnificent tile.  I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.

This is towards the corner - That little half wall leads into the fridge, and my buddies thought I should have kept tiling, but I like that wall "normal"

This was easily the most difficult portion to tile.  Between the tiny size and the 4 (FOUR!!) outlets, it took me a long time.  It was really awkward to tile there.

This is a good shot of the tile.  It's a greyed out green (hence "seaweed") mosaic with marble, frosted white, frosted dark and light green, clear greens and then some of those textured tiles.  I really did like it.  I was originally looking for piano tile, but I really, really like the way this came out.

Super close up so you can see how the textured tile looks.  It does look great, but it was an utter PITA to get the grout out of the textures.   I still occasionally pick at the tile toward the corners were I wasn't able to scrub as well.

So that was this year's project.   I got the half bath done as well, but the goal was the kitchen.  It was a much bigger project than I realized and I burned out most of the way through it.   The tile was easy, it was all of the staining that broke me.

Other than lighting and flooring, we're done with the downstairs.  I need to find someone that will paint the stairwell (18' ceiling, great) and I need to paint the upstairs hall (easy).  I also want to re-do the master (new shower door, new paint, new fixtures, and doing the golden-oak cabs in there, too).

I might get to it next year.   Maybe.   There's always the picket fencing I want to put in the backyard, too.

Monday, November 17

IHSW for November (and food... mostly food)

This weekend I participated in the International Hermit and Stitch weekend, which is hosted by Joysze.

I didn't get as much stitching done this weekend as I would like (alternately, I also got more stitching done than I would have liked) because I spent most of the weekend cooking (well, there were a few hours of assassinating on the PS3 Saturday night).

On Saturday, friends of mine were throwing their annual bacon party, so, of course, I spent all day cooking for that.

Two trays of bacon in the oven already, most of the other ingredients were in the fridge
I did bacon cinnamon rolls (for fun)

And then I did these candied bacon wrapped pineapples with sriracha honey sauce, which were so terribly good I ate a ton of them before the party.   The sauce really makes it.

And then I won prizes for those bacon wrapped pineapples.

This is the second time I've taken home this trophy! woot!
Also, check out the pretty tile!  I need to post about the kitchen update
On Sunday, I opted to make golabkis, which take a good bit of time, but are so freakin' delicious.  I also made them with a mushroom sauce because I just don't like tomato sauces.

My little pigeons

The most delicious mushroom sauce, like, ever.
I also made cottage cheese pumpkin bars (no pictures) that I like to eat for breakfast, so I could get back into my yoga routine (go to yoga at 5:45AM, ugh, since the classes are usually so crowded in the evenings), and this morning I woke up, got everything packed together, went to yoga, had a great class, had enough time after the morning shower to swing by the store to get a new umbrella (I've been super distressed that my awesome umbrella seems to have gone on walkabout, and it's going to rain all day) and get to the bus on time only to discover that I left all of my food (lunch and breakfast) at home.  Oops.

Anyway, back to the stitching.

Once upon a time (years and years ago), I was regular participant in a number of round robins - all from the TWRR Yuku board.  I participated in at least 5 that I can think of (3 UFO-RRs, a WeeBeastie RR, a TW Band RR).   Since coming back to stitching, I've been kind of saddened by the lack of activity in various BBs and especially on the RoundRobin board, but! several of my friends and I recently decided to create our own little private RR.  

So Saturday I finally got around to basting/gridding my material to send out.   I thought (seriously, and obviously, not just on Saturday) about starting it off with my band, but I didn't want to influence what other people would put on there too much.  I want it to be a free-form, not-too-many-rules RR for my end product.

So I finally gridded.   The fabric is probably entirely too long, but I wanted to make sure that people had as much space as possible, whether it's a few stitches tall or 2 inches tall.  There are 11 people in this RR, which makes the group a bit bigger than normal, and we have a shorter stitching window than I've worked with before (which shouldn't be a problem).

That's a fat half of fabric right there - Platinum Lugana - my favorite
After that, because the kreiniks I ordered still have not arrived (seriously, I ordered from two sources ages ago, and still, nothing), I couldn't work on my Beastie-RR UFO, so I went ahead and decided to stitch on Ferret Knot, only to have had to frog everything I stitched.  Twice.   I spent probably 5 hours on it, and have not a stitch to show, which was really frustrating, so I decided to do some impromptu gridding on it to help keep me straight next time.

So I tried to stitch, I almost finished Assassin's Creed (the first one, I just started the series), I watched several movies, and I made a tonne of food, so it was a good, busy weekend, just not the most stitching-productive one ;)

Tuesday, November 11

Houston Needleroll by Chatelaine - a "re-Finish"

This is a long, long winded happy dance story, because this piece has a ton of history.   So kick back and enjoy, or just skip ahead to pretty pictures.

Once upon a time, I lived in Houston (and other parts of Texas).   Once upon a time, I met Jo, formerly of Dinky Dyes fame.   We "met" on the TWBB when she was still living in Australia, but she would spend time in Houston courtesy of her husband's job, so we got to meet in real life, too.   And then she ended up moving to Houston, even on "my" side of town (if you've ever been near sprawl-city USA, you know that's got meaning).   In 2005, she hosted Martina, of Chatelaine fame, in Houston while she did a tour of the US and we had a really awesome Houston get together with a really fun group of stitchers.  Martina, awesomely, created a needle-roll design to commemorate the Houston GTG, featuring Dinky Dyes silks (the pack included all the high quality materials one associates with Chatelaine, including delicas and pearls!).

Most of the stitchers there! Someone posted this photo on the FB recently, so I snagged it.

I actually finished it relatively quickly (1/15/2006), and threw it in the finished bin.   I hadn't finished it into a needle-roll for two reasons - one is that I'm not the biggest fan of needlerolls, and two, because it's so freakin' pretty, I wanted to do something that showcases it better than rolling it up.

Recently, during the great reorganization and "better storage" attempt for my finishes, I ran across this piece again, and while I really love it, there was a major problem.   It had my married name initials on it.   One of my biggest regrets in life (seriously, one of the only thing that actually still makes me angry at myself) was changing my name after I got married (most people are surprised that it wasn't the getting married itself portion that actually works me into an internal lather).   I love my last name.  I think it's way awesome, and it's just who I am and who I have always been.   However, I was under a lot of pressure to change my name and some months after getting married, I did, like an idiot.    And as soon as I was divorced I promptly changed it back... but... well, that damn last name and/or initial pop/s up in the most irritating of places, and in this piece that's a lot of over one stitching to frog.   I couldn't just pick out the extra letter because then it would be obvious and totally off center.

The finished piece from my stash.  
The Shame!  The Horror!   Or, at least, one initial too many.

I didn't have the pattern any more and I couldn't remember what threads were used.   The letters I need were stitched, so I could have graphed it out or worked from a photo or something, and I have the entire line of Dinky Dyes silks, so I'm sure I could figure out the color used, but eh, the work.

Which brings in my wonderful pack-ratty ways.  

While hunting for threads, I rummaged through my "non-DMC" thread/fibre box and I found a binder ring holding the left overs from the skeins of the silks used in this piece.  Score!   So Maddy's Rose was there, and that part of my problem was solved.

I emailed Martina to ask if I could just get the alphabet (or rather, at least the three letters I needed).  I know she keeps a lot of stuff as digital files and I was hoping this would be a quick and easy solution to my ish.  Because I had the original it wasn't impossible, at all, to figure out on my own but I was hoping for the easy way out.  And right about that time, Martina had to deal with some personal issues, and I felt totally terrible for asking (I mean, I didn't know, but I still sure as heck wasn't going to pester her again).

And that's right about the time I was going through my external hard drive looking for pictures and information so I could finish setting up the galleries and stuff on this blog.   And I found a folder that had all of the cross-stitch stuff I'd done with Patternmaker, the program I had used in the past.   I primarily used it for the placement of letters and numbers (especially for things like wedding samplers, where inputting it into the computer and printing out a pattern was infinitely better than hand drawing on the chart).

And lo'  I had a file called "Chatelaine alpha"    It was my four initials.   Delete the fourth, spread out the letters a bit, and find the center.


I posted back during the TUSAL update, that picture of the ort jar with the pink bits of fuzz, and that was the product of tearing out all of those letters stitched over one.

Such a tiny amount of fuzz for such a large amount of work.

What I did not take a picture of was that I made a couple of boo-boos when nipping out the letters (it was a combination of picking at with a needle and using the best, skinniest, and sharpest stitching scissors in the universe - a pair of Fine Science Tools Iris Scissors - sadly they don't sell the particular model I use anymore).   I accidentally nipped the fabric and had two holes.   One was rather sizable, the other one was pretty minor.  This is 32count, so getting out over one stitching is just especially brutal.  I'm not too upset that I wasn't perfect about it.

Thank the Sweet Baby Octopus, I've done cutwork and am pretty good about fixing mistakes (if I bother), and after I finished being sad/annoyed/whatever about the holes, I cleaned up the holey bits, peeled off threads from the edge of the fabric and re-wove it so that no one would ever know my dirty little secret (well, anyone reading knows my dirty little secret, but good luck finding it in my piece).  

So, after it's all said and done, with all of the drama of the annoyance over my old name popping up to vex me again, the loss and find of the threads and letters, and the damage and repair I did to the piece: I'm done.

Looks so much better no?  I mean, correct initials, the ironing.  Life is good.

I've always been amused at the neat little nest the pearl gets to sit in.

Stitched on platinum linen.

This shot cracks me up because the beaded area in the center looks so wonky from here.  Hah.

I had already stitched this spot in 2005, so when I finished in early 2006, I didn't change it.
After all, it was commemorating the GTG in 2005, so it felt apropos to keep it like that.

This is really just to show off.    The small hole was completely covered by the stitching, so it ended up being a non-issue.   The large hole I managed to cut is actually only partially (maybe half?) covered by stitching, the rest of the damage (and repair work) is in a completely un-stitched area, but even I can't see it and I know where it is.

It's funny, because when I looked back at the original blog post about finishing this piece, I mentioned how much I didn't like the fabric choice, because I felt that the colors didn't pop as well as they would have against something like antique white.   And while working on this piece (again), I kept thinking about how much I love the fabric choice, because I feel like it's pretty and delicate (never mind soft and wonderful to work with).   I can't imagine liking another fabric choice more.  

So that's the long drama of this piece.   I do find it interesting how some pieces have so much more history and emotion behind them than others.   I can tell long stories about some pieces and nothing about others, but I still love them all.  I guess I'd have to, otherwise I would just chuck them instead of putting the energy into them.

Monday, November 10

Immaculate Hart by Ink Circles

I love Tracey Horner's Ink Circles patterns.   If they aren't gorgeous mandalas, they're humorous, fun, and quirky... and sometime they're gorgeous and quirky at the same time.   In any event, all of her work is fantastic, and I really need to get around to doing more of it (if only I'd get moving on BoInk).

Immaculate Hart is a limited edition collaboration with Dragonflylotus handspun threads. It features the gorgeous threads from them and 30 count linen.

I have to admit, I had reservations with regards to the threads, because they're the thicker twisty kind of thread you only use one ply of (think Caron Wildflowers), but it only took one length of stitching for me to love these threads.   They are super soft and easy to work with and have a great, rich color.

As for the pattern itself - I love the play on Immaculate Heart/Hart with the stag's antlers and the fiery heart/hart!

I stitched most of it watching Cleopatra now that it's back on Netflix streaming (one of my favorite movies!) and We Are What We Are, which I thought was quite decent for a horror movie, but very, very messed up.  It was interesting stitching this, because it just felt so good in my hands, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I frogged and mis-stitched more on this little bitty piece than most of my large pieces.   I found that odd.  Still gorgeous and enjoyable, though.

The whole piece.  It's not very large, just a few inches across

Flaming Hart-Heart!

These colors are killing me - they're just so rich and gorgeous.
One of these days I'll get back to one of my big WiPs... maybe I should have signed up for the next MMMM.

edited to add the dragonflylotus (kit) fibres used, just for reference if anything:
Orange: Solar Flare
Red:  Drucilla
Green:  Rich Teal
Brown: Rauen

Saturday, November 8

Butterflies... by Nora.

It's not quite stitching, but it's just as good.

For a bit of background, I am a huge fan of hanging art.   Every inch of every wall should be covered in something special.  I don't have any 'standard' prints, everything I've got is either stitching, original photography or family photos (like of my grandparents' weddings), special art pieces, prints from local artists, or other unique prints that I've found at art shows or street festivals and even quite a bit of original art... I'd rather come back from a trip with something special to hang, rather than a tchochke sitting on a shelf, or a tshirt...

On ye olde FB, there is a group where Nora Adams (Corbett), of Mirabilia fame, occasionally auctions her art pieces.   I've managed to snag two (so far, though I think I might be running out of wall space, so I'll have to slow my roll).    I won't mention what I paid for them, but I will say that I think I got these for a steal when you consider they're original art pieces from an artist who is not exactly unknown (even if it's from within the stitching community).  Her art is rather diverse and I find all of it interesting, though I've honed in on one of my favorite subjects - bugs.

The first butterfly, I just *had* to have and I love it.  It's so beautiful, and I love the smudges.  I guess it makes the piece less crisp, but I feel like it gives that butterfly the illusion of movement.   These are both done in watercolor pencils and/or pastels (I don't know my mediums enough to be sure).

Sorry for the not-quite-flat picture, they came rolled in a tube, and I'm trying to keep them safe until framing.

And this guy - well, I can't believe I got him for the price I did, yay!

I can't wait to get around to framing these (along with the 5 other artwork pieces I've picked up... I really, really need to slow my roll... and finish painting the hallway so I can start hanging everything!).

Many cross stitch designers (Teresa Wentzler, Nora Corbett, Tracey Horner, etc...) are amazing artists who have converted their art into beautiful patterns for us to stitch, and I definitely love having the ability to hang the artists' actual art on my walls.

Friday, November 7

November WIPocalypse update


I don't have too much progress - although I did finish the Miss New Year's Fairy by Mirabilia.  And I've been working on my Wee Beasties RR.  I'd probably be mostly finished with it, but I ran out of 202HL, so I've set it aside as I wait for that to come in (I could finish stitching my bug, but I didn't want to move the qsnaps, because lazy).

I didn't get much else done because I took part in the Mini Monthly challenge last month and I fell into a couple of new, small WIPS.  (oh the horror! lol).  I do want to spend the rest of the year on Fantasy Sampler and Egyptian Sampler once the Wee Beastie RR is done (it really, really shouldn't take that long, and I've already got FS and ES both on qsnaps).   I think that means I'll be leaving this year with a WIPocalypse bang?   I even have Christmas Eve and Day off this year, so I'll probably be stitching (if not playing videogames).  I do have a new start for Jan 1 that I'm allowing myself.

So here's Miss New Year

And this is an approximation of the RR (I'm just doing a brown and gold border, much like what is present in the "regular" beastie pieces), I've marked in how far I've gotten with the border.   I'm still working on the gold inner border with the queen bee:

Topic:  What are your favorite and least favorite materials to use in your stitching?

Oh, whoa nellie, I can go on for days.

As far as fabric - my favorite is easily lugana.  I find most evenweaves just OK (I don't like the thicker/stiffer ones), linens are just OK (it really depends on the weave and the strands used to make the weaving - how thick/thin they are, how tightly woven), and I hate, hate, haaaaate aida.   I've stayed away from it since my first linen project in 96 or so... I just find it stiff and unstitched areas to be ugly (so for a solid coverage piece I'd fuss less).   My favorite counts are anything 32 and above, although for a while there was a fabric called Murano.  it was essentially a 30 count lugana, and I loved that stuff (I have a yard and a half still, my precious).  My very favorite color is platinum, which, I know is quite dull when you consider the array of hand dyeds out there, but to be honest, I find most of the pieces I see stitched on hand dyeds to be overly busy and sometimes quite ugly.  Not that I don't stitch on it myself, I just tend to stay conservative with my background fabrics.

As for threads - As far as simple cotton floss, I love simple DMC, probably because it's very consistent and easy to deal with.  I lurve pretty much any silks, though I have an affinity for dinky dyes (that might be personal) and gloriana.  I'm not as much of a fan of the single ply threads (like Wildflowers), though I didn't dislike them so much.  I do loathe rayon floss and will never work with it again.