Thursday, March 12

Throwback Thursday - Blackwork dragon

This week's Throwback Thursday is brought to you courtesy of Jennifer Aikman-Smith and DragonDreams designs.   I've had the privilege to meet Jennifer a couple of times and I can confirm that she's pretty freakin' awesome.

If I recall correctly (and I probably don't), this was the first of the blackwork pieces that she designed.  There were three four in all - a dragon, a unicorn, a princess, and apparently a knight I missed ;).   I had never stitched a large blackwork piece, and I really wanted to try it out.    I also decided to use a darker, more jeweltoned variegated thread for it - a Caron Wildflowers called plum.   It was stitched on a 28 antique white linen (I'm starting to think a majority of my pieces were stitched on an antique white linen) and it took me one month.   I started on December 1, 2002, and finished on December 31, 2002.  Woot!





I really would like to get this one framed, but it's a bit lower in the priority from some of my other pieces.  It was great to learn to work blackwork and I really enjoyed this piece quite a bit.

DragonDreams is still in existence and available wholesale (or at least a good number of the designs are), so getting some of the designs is still possible, though no new big designs have been released in some while.      JAS does offer freebies on FB, so it's still possible to get my hands on cute little ones that she's still designing.

Wednesday, March 11

And yet another project

So during the great house-deconstruction, new floor-a-palooza, I've decided to take some time to revamp a few things, fix a few things, donate and get rid of a few things...

On of the things I decided I wanted to do was "fix" a china doll I have in my possession.    When my grandmother died (well, actually, even before that), I became the keeper of the antique and family things.   Like my great-great-grandmother's furniture, my great^3 or ^4 grand-cestors' letters and pictures and what not.

Sereiously, I have a wedding gift from 1865.

One of the things I found in a box was a china doll from the ancestress that was actually married in 1865.  I also have the letters between her and her beau during the Civil War while he was away, and letters from her future sister-in-law complaining about the lack of males and how bored they were with the whole war "thing."

But I decided that what I really want to do is jazz up the china doll.  She's just in her silk undies, those undies being a little worse for the wear, but the doll seems to be in good shape.   I contacted a friend who knows a bit about china dolls and asked her for some help sourcing patterns.    The doll already lives on display in my antique hutch, but I just feel like she could be prettier.

But this is what I'm starting with -

The whole doll in my hands.  The legs and arms are also porcelain/china and seem to be in decent shape.

The head piece, with the blouse pulled down to show off the attach point
The arms
Legs & booties
The whole girl with a tape- measure for size.
I have no idea what I'm doing, I certainly have no official documentation, but since she's a part of my family, I would at least like to showcase her a little better.   I have some patterns/dresses pinned/saved (the pictures mostly for ideas of colors and fabrics).

From what I've seen/read with the googles, the hair/head style/shape tracks with 1850s dolls (maybe "Greiner" style?).  The back is molded but there is no ribbon or anything, other than the hair (the back of the head molded in waves much like the sides).   I don't know (or really care) if it's worth anything, just a family antique that I'd like to display nicely, but I didn't want anything crazy out of style with what she should be wearing.

Hopefully, someday, when I'm not going home and spending every waking hour trying to put the house back together again  I'll get back to the approx. six thousand projects I have going on, but this seems like a fun (if not probably frustrating) one.

Monday, March 9

March WIPocalypse


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With all of the home work going on, I nearly forgot about this month's WIPocalypse!

The only WIP I've really made progress on is Celtic Ferret.   Last WIPocalypse it still looked like this:


And I've since started filling it in more so now it looks like more like this (huzzah!):




This month's question:

If money – and time – were not limiters, what projects would be on your stitching bucket list?

I think I would have a lot more canvas work projects.  I always forget to look for them, and when I see something I like it's almost always OOP.    I am still killing myself looking for Joan Thomasson's Russian Fairy Tales, but anything interesting is always expensive with the canvas and threads.  Not unreasonably so, but all of those specialty fibres and art work are not cheap.   I saw this St. Basil's piece on Mindy's blog, and zomg!  but also, the price tag.  And with as many WIPS as I have, I have no reason to buy something I know I won't even get to any time soon.   I'm still debating this one with myself.  Sure if I had infinite storage space and moneys, I'd definitely try to get it yesterday.

So that's my magical wish.   Since I've done a massive "de-stuffing" I am a bit pickier than I used to be with regards to cross stitch and other needlework, but that hasn't stopped the wish listing altogether.

Thursday, March 5

Throwback Thursday- Dogs Leave Pawprints


I'm not sure when I picked up this pattern, but I did stitch it during the very brief period I came out of my stitching slump in late 2010/early 2011 (but not enough to actually blog ;) ).

It's called Dogs Leave Pawprints by Lizzie*Kate.   I'm not a huge fan of L*K's stuff because it is more primitive than my usual tastes run, but they have some really cute designs with even more adorable quotes or sayings.  I think I still have 2 or 3 charts left in my stash.

I stitched it on a ginormous piece of lambswool linen (not even kidding, I think I have 5" borders on this puppy), and I think some day I'll finish it into a flat fold or something fun like that.    I still have some of this lambswool stuff left because it is what I bought for Lily Pond Dreams since it has that lined/hazy look..   I'm not sure I really want to spend the time or effort to stitch it, but having it on display would be nice.



I finished it on 3/21/2011, using whatever threads I had on hand (they're overdyed, but the variegation isn't so strong as to be really noticeable).   I do think it's super cute.

Wednesday, March 4

#WIPWednesday?

So there's not much in the way of stitching this week (or probably next), because other "works in progress" are taking place about ye olde humble abode.

So this is my WIP Wednesday.

From this:

To this - all opened up to the right, framed in and ready to mud/paint/etc.


The rest of the drywall is actually up, I just need to finish the mudding (which I've discovered I'm terrible at, but closet, so I don't think it really matters).   The closet was expanded from 2 1/2 x 3' to 6 1/2' x 3'.  FOUR EXTRA FEET.  I will never understand why they didn't initially expand the closet more (it's under the stairs, there was nothing there).   I'm glad that I'll have a space to hide my craft stuff in when company is over (right now that tends to be behind the "reading chair" in the corner).  And we could have expanded the closet further (I initially only wanted to put in a little niche about 18" deep), but I have a wine rack that I'll be sticking up against that short wall, and it's the perfect height there (so bottles don't fall out of the back).   We even wired in a closet light (LED!) with a switch - so fancy!

Most of our furniture is in the garage (I have to park in the driveway!?! Oh the humanity!) in preparation for new flooring over the weekend (aka: why I wanted to expand the closet now:  So the flooring is consistent).  And I have nefarious plans for the guest bedroom (if I can get away with it, think craft room cum yoga studio... think murphy bed!!!).

I'm also toying with the idea of marking some of the home renovation posts as private (with a password), just because I do worry about privacy, though I do my best to keep everything pretty tame (not much personal showing).   But there are plenty of weirdos out there, I know, I have had to deal with a stalker in the past.  If I go that route, I'll make sure to mention it before I do, and share the password with any interested blog friends.

What I am looking forward to is writing up a post showing off some of my organization.  I've put all/most of my finished pieces in portfolio albums, inspired by a friend who was inspired by this blog post.   I have 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and 18x24.  

I also have the awesome BONUS!  of having a groupon pop up for the local framer I would like to try out for my cross stitch.  Hopefully it means the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship ;)

And, I just read Twisted Stitcher's way of storing specialty threads which I'm going to adapt.  I don't have as many as she does;  they currently are few enough to live in a single photo box.   I downloaded an app to start cataloging threads, and I can catalog and organize at the same time.  I'm thinking of color coding the thread manufacturer and then alphabetizing them from there (the only shame there is that I have oodles of the standard green pendaflexes and could cheap out on it, which means maybe just using colored tabs?).   Currently, each manufacturer is on a jumbo binder ring and the threads are already alphabetized, so switching systems won't take too long, but I really like the idea of not having to dig through the box.

I'm so excited for all of the changes, but also pretty exhausted over all of these changes.




Saturday, February 28

D.E.S.I.G.N. February - Cloudsfactory

As it's 2AM here, it's technically March, but I'll just roll back the publication by a couple of hours, because it's still February on the West coast! hah



I am featuring Cloudsfactory this month, because I'm enjoying their 2015 Mystery so much, and they're fairly new to me.

I started seeing the adorable egg-shaped characters in some on the Facebook cross stitch groups I joined.    The first ones I noticed were the Harry Potter designs that people had stitched or were working their way through - particularly a really humungo pattern with most of the notable characters.



And then I saw some other cute ones - Star Wars, Sherlock, other pop culture and geek references, so I decided to check them out.

And they have a lot of adorable charts.   I know the little eggs aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they are cute, and I have already added the Star Trek series characters to my wish list (TOS and TNG will, of course! be first).  But even better, they have one of my favorite movies represented - Young Frankenstein!





There's definitely tons to like from a geek like me.   Final Fantasy!  Seriously, I think I spent a day on the site just adding things to my wish list  (Game of Thrones!  Smurfs!  Metallica!  Cthulhu! Babylon 5!   All the things! ) ;)

They do have more than just the sci-fi/fantasy geekery, there are pieces that represent different countries and cultures, sports teams, Disney princesses, scientists, just a ton of fun things.

Cloudsfactory produced a fantasy creatures calendar mystery for 2014, so towards the end of December I was seeing a few of those finished, and the fun, geeky pieces really appealed to me, even if they aren't something I would normally stitch.



I can see them making fun little gifts for people, and, well, they are just so damn cute.

I am SO looking forward to the next installment of the Zodiac sampler, which should be released tomorrow.   One more step closer to Aries, too!



So there's a fun "new to me" designer that I just discovered a few months ago.    I know these aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I love how whimsical and easy they are.   There are plenty of non-egg patterns, though these definitely make up the bulk of the catalog.  They're sweet  and even give me a chance to make gifts for people that won't cost me nearly the labor something major might, and I won't have to worry about spending 100 hours making something I don't like nor care about (especially for my all of my unfortunate Dr. Who fan friends - :P )

Edited to add - the legality of some of the designs, particularly tv/movie characters is pretty questionable.   I do really like the original designs, but I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable buying some of pieces based on pop culture characters which are someone's IP without knowing if the designer has permission.

Friday, February 27

Throwback Thursday - The Sorcerer and Sorceress

I know it's a day late, but yesterday was a snow day, which means uber hard work, because not a lot of employees made it in, so we worked our tails off (I sweat through my clothes - ew!)

But I'm here with my TBT!

Two pieces, because they complement each other; they are oldies, but goodies!.

The first one is The Sorcerer, a small kit by Dimensions that I stitch in 1999.   I framed it using a sticky board (I didn't know how bad they were at the time, but hey, it's not like this is an heirloom piece, so I don't mind!) and a frame from Michaels.   Oddly, it's a non-glare glass, so it is slightly mottled, but it's nice for taking a a face-on picture.

This piece has hung in every place I've lived since 1999.  The apartments, the duplex, the houses, the townhomes.  Every single one.

I used all kit materials, and I had fun with the french knots.   I remember sitting on the floor pillow that my grandma made for me, in my little efficiency apartment in Houston.   I was working my first "adult/real world" job with MD Anderson and spend a lot of time either on my computer with the TWBB, on mIRC, or just sitting on the floor (or in the papasan) stitching.    It was a special (if poor ;) ) time.


A couple of years later, I saw the Sorceress kit at Michaels, too, and decided to finish it as a companion piece for the Sorcerer.    It has always hung above/below/besides the Sorcerer, though I was bummed that I couldn't find the same frame.   I don't feel the need to reframe them to match, though.

Unfortunately, it's nice and shiny glass, so harder to get a direct picture of.   I used all kit materials again, and she was finished 3/6/2001, after I started keeping a diary for my cross stitch pieces.   By this time, I was still at MD Anderson, but in a nicer apartment with an actual hand-me-down couch! I actually used my floss storage system for end tables.


As a total aside,  I was crazy jealous of the framing (SoCal) Debbie did of the finished pieces last year that she was giving to a friend.

So that's this week's TBT.  
Here's a shot of what I was driving through to get to work yesterday - it's a lot better now (except for the ice), but a lot of trees are still snapping and coming down.  I hope my friends get power back today.  I'm in North Carolina - I'm not supposed to be dealing with this! (if the state of the foliage is any indication, we shouldn't have to deal with this very often!)  I'm looking forward to tomorrow - no matter what the state of the roads or weather, I don't have to go anywhere if I don't want to!