Monday, June 27

Long weekend with friends

So this weekend is one of the two I look forward most to during the entire year - I hopped on a plane and flew out to Arizona to visit with friends.   Now, one of the places I lived while growing up was Tucson, and I've always wanted to go back, so the trip is always a little hard, because I just need someone in Arizona to hire me, so I can stay out there, and then I could sometimes stitch with local friends.

We did a lot of eating, a bit of drinking, maybe some playing, but definitely some shopping, sharing, and stitching!

First, my purchasing spree:

I got the newest Just Nan mouse - Romeo the Bridegroom and the Block Party - Vino from Hands On Designs.  Not much, but I am not feeling the need to purchase as much as I used to, especially with the thousand and one WIPS.    I think the Vino party block might qualify as my year end biscornu, because my ort container is getting quite packed!

The things I really wanted were more scissors, that that I got down to a science.

This is my first pair of Bohin scissors (I'm a Bohin needle junkie).  They're larger than standard embroidery, but that polka dotted stork!  I had to have it!

A swordfish? HECK YA!  They feel/cut awful, but let's be honest, I don't care.

And my new favorites - these are Premax, which is one of my favorite brands.  I have three or four pairs of premax and you cannot go wrong with them (my very favorite are from Fine Science Tools, followed by Dovo, of course, and I have a few others like Tres Claveles... in fact I think the only brand I don't like is Gingher).  So shiny, so pretty!  I love that darker silver.

We also hit a bead store, which I wasn't going to purchase anything from, but I decided making some needleminders might be fun.  Especially after I cut off the loops with my dremel.  I'm excited about the heart locket, because when I get the hinge off, I think that's going to make a riotously good needleminder

One of our hostesses and a friend made needleminders for us as well.   I have these nifty initial needeminders made from tile (the glare is covering that s there)!  And that nice little embossed button thingie :)  And that button!  And the octopus!

I also started Tapestry by Ink Circles
She also had a little contest/drawing, and I won second place.  As far as I'm concerned second place is the best!
That top thing is a magnetic tray, which was designed for tools/nuts/bolts/etc, but works just as well for scissors, needles and other goodies.    Heck, as much DIY as I do, it might be used for nuts and bolts anyway ;)

The Mill Hill kit is a cutie as well, and there were those Frixion erasable highlighters and that super bright/awesome LED light (I wish I had that when I was stitching on all of those dark fabrics!!!)

There's also the organizer thing, which might be my favorite thing ever.  I started to unpack yesterday, and then realized I'm flying back out on Friday, and just started organizing with that pouch instead. Magic!

There should be a blue highlighter in there, but it's hiding in my stitching bag

And then, the crazy generous hostess friend *also* had goodie bags for everyone.   I ADORE that Sweetheart Tree piece and will definitely be stitchin git.   There was the emoji note pad, the frog, some hand dyed threads from a place in England, and probably other things I missed taking pictures way too late last night ;)

 And while I was on the trip, someone was showing off a kit she'd gotten from the Bay of Evil, and of course I had to buy one, too.   The funny part was - I paid a little less, and the lady who posts them apparently only posts 2 at a time, and not so often that they're "easy" to get.  I got the last one!

It's a Russian kit, called "Kingdom of Books"
I am thinking of not doing the background, and just doing it on an overdye, I will probably change the book names (they're in Russian/Cyrillic now) to my favorite books, and I'm *also* thinking of going over one for this.. not sure yet on that one, though.

The kit materials are pretty nice, so I'll probably use the floss for it.  Can you imagine how nice it must be to just stitch a book at a time? Nice bite size nuggets to celebrate?

Kingdom of Books!
I think that's it for the purchasing.   Other than not really "feeling" the need to buy lots of stuff, I was very concentrated on getting a couple of more pairs of leggings from Fractal 9, the greatest leggings ever, who was having a big sale on Saturday and I also kickstarted a yoga mat that looks really cool.

We had some really fun times, and some really good discussions.  One of the things we were talking about was letting go of WIPs, and I realized that there are a couple I should just admit I'm not going to do.  One of them - well, I'm not quite there yet, but I did decide to un-WIP/UFO Dracolair's Phoenix, and in fact, I'll probably sell my Dracolair patterns.  I just don't think I'll ever get around to stitching them, and I could use the fabric I started Phoenix with for something else (it's a Picture this Plus, so that's good).

I also had another WIP that I never quite listed that I'll let go of, and I've already picked a pattern to use that fabric for!  I only had one band on the sampler, so it doesn't hurt to let it go.   I think after I knock out a few WIPs, I will start Ink Circles's Namaste on it.

And!  Here's the newest used-WIP that I purchased and put in the mesh bag that Phoenix used to live in!  It's called Russian Fairy Tales and it is a class kit by Joan Thomasson that came out in 1998.  I have been looking for it for AGES and it finally popped up on the Bay of Evil and I snatched it up... if by "snatch" you mean that I put in a disgustingly high bid and just let the 10 day auction ride itself out :)  But it's mine, and I didn't pay as much as I was willing to pay for it, so we all win.

Russian Fairy Tale - my long hunted lemming

My newest WIP is a stitch along I started with friends, it's the one that was pictured up above with the needle minders - it's Ink Circles's Tapestry and I am stitching it on Platinum Murano (30ct), and I am loving it so far.

As for Zodiac, I finished the last two - now I just have to take a picture of the whole thing!

And for the final bit - I decided I wasn't totally pleased with my ort container, and I needed to put the orts that I collected over the weekend away, so I made a new container, took a picture of it with the current orts and then stuffed it (and I mean stuffed, because I put all of the left over floss from the Zodiac kit in there!).  It's a wine bottle I cut down, and I'm very pleased with it.  I think it will look like a core sample as I get more orts in there ;)

I kinda smooshed it all down there

That's it for now!  It was a terribly fun, full weekend, and I just love being with my friends.  Our hostesses were the best ever, and I already miss them terribly, but will think of them every time I stitch or see Tapestry.

Monday, June 20

IHSW & June WIPocalypse!

So this past weekend was IHSW.
Today is a full moon! that means it's also time for WIPocalypse!

Sadly, I had to put a lot of miles on my work vehicle today.  I had to drive a couple of hundred miles before 8AM, so I knew it was full moon because she guided my way most of the morning.

This weekend I spent my time stitching on the CloudsFactory piece and made a ton of progress!  I probably would have finished another sign, as well, but I made fried spring rolls the way my Vietnamese aunt taught me and it took way more time than I realized.

But here's what I did:




And this is all I have left to do!!
Two signs!  And I only have the smaller gold circle left to do in gold. And then just the two signs - Leo and Cancer.  ZOMG!

I'm going to a get together (out of state, so serious travel) on Wednesday, and I had already chosen my travelling pieces, but with this being so close, I kinda want to take it instead.  I don't know, I'll have to make a decision tout-de-suite!

This month's question:

Do you find yourself more productive with stitching in summer or winter?

To be honest I think I'm far more productive in winter.  Mostly, I think it's because the weather is so cold and crappy, I don't want to go anywhere, so I stitch instead.   Also, because the weather is so crappy, I'm not working on other, more fun projects (that usually take up garage time or garden time).  Having some holiday time off at work helps, too ;)

Thursday, June 16

Gemini! And other goodness

I am SO far behind in my blog reading, it's ridiculous. I probably should just sit down and do that instead of other goofy behaviors at work, I suppose, but at least I'm up on my posting.

I finished Gemini!

and last night I finished out the framing for two more signs (Scorpio and Libra)!

 I am going to a get together next week where a bunch of us will start Ink Circles's Tapestry.  I have the pattern and all of the threads, I just need to get fabric!

I keep promising myself I won't start a new piece until I finish some older ones, but here we are!  Hopefully getting a little bit ahead on Zodiac will help me keep up with my GTG and everything else.

This weekend is also IHSW *and* Netflix is putting the newest season of Orange is the New Black on, so I might forgo the crazy gaming I was planning and just hang out and stitch. All. Weekend. Long.  Huzzah!

Saturday, June 11

More gardening progress

It's only been a couple of weeks since my post about gardening updates, but it's coming along so awesomely!

I took these pictures in the morning and the rear of the house faces east (which means lots of BRIGHT! early morning sun, but some of the more sun loving plants tend to suffer)
You can see the chard is thinned out a little, because I harvested a bunch, and I have plenty of pockets that I should actually put some plants in.    This tower isn't as crazy as the other one partly because I put in a lot of pepper and other "non bushy" plants.  But I did have to stake one of the tomatoes!

And here's the other one, please don't mind my awful lighting ;)
The tomatoes have really taken off on the top, and somehow a squash has gotten up there!
And, AND!  I've finally gotten cucumbers that are growing.  For the past three years they've just slowly died off and been sad.  You can see on the bottom of the picture on the right that I've given them a bit of trellis to work on.  Part of that is because the community is mowed and I was worried the not-so-great-this-year yard workers would mow over it (this year's people are not nearly as good as last years, sadly).
There are also tons of squash flowers! (I hand pollinated them a couple of days ago, because we don't have any bees) and the salvia are going crazy!

Here's my large (for a normal garden) or small (for one containing garden towers) container that I put some tomato plants in.   I gave up on ever growing large tomatoes, I seem to be terrible at it, but I threw all of my left over cherry/grape tomato plants in it, just to see what would happen.  Apparently what happens is a tomato explosion.  I've never had this much growth or this many tomatoes, and I certainly remember to water this over-burdened planter every day so I don't lose any!

And just for fun, here are a couple of things from the garden last week - one is the massive amount of swiss chard I harvested.  Usually a big bunch or two is needed for the two of us to eat because it reduces down so much, but I had enough for probably 6 people!  It's crazy.
The other is a surprise! (kinda) sunflower that popped up and looked so pretty on a rainy day.  I hope to get more sunflowers out of that stalk and maybe I'll get to plant more next year!

Thursday, June 9

TUSAL - June!

I finally remembered my TUSAL post!

This is pretty much all orts from the Zodiac Mystery, I'm going to say that there will be a lot of gold by the time this is all said and done!

And guess what? I passed!  Look at me being all certified and stuff!

I celebrated by spending all weekend playing Diablo and finishing my first Hardcore character.  I'm a relative D3 noob, so I didn't don't know a lot about it and this is my first one Hardcore (for those like me that don't know much re: D3 means if you die, your character is lost for-ever).   I also didn't know that I wouldn't have access to my "Stash" (items, weapons, and moneys shared between characters) if I did a Hardcore character, and I set the difficulty higher than I should have for a fresh character.  So OH said my character would die. So I had to spite him.  Haha.

I'm looking forward to next week - I'm going to fly out and visit some friends.  Much stitchiness and joy will be had!

Sunday, May 29

To hell with studying! - Sagittarius!

So here I am not studying for certification.   To my own credit - the policy I was most concerned about reading and learning, I did read and learn.  It's nice to have a weekend "off" though, and that's probably better than anything right now.

With Sagittarius (and the corner piece) I'm officially more than half done.  Two corners, 6 signs, and the entire inner ring, pretty solidly puts me ahead.  YAY!

And I can get started on Gemini before June even begins.   Then I'll head back to Scorpio at the "end" of the year to work on.   I'm feeling pretty good about finishing a large project this year.  Woot Woot!

Friday, May 27

Garden Towers into Garden Jungles

So I have a couple of the initial Garden Tower Project models.  I've been running them for three or four years now, and I always have this great desire to document their progress, and then I just don't.  But I'm still proud of them when I do document them, so why the hell not, right?

For my birthday weekend (mid April), my friends and I all go to the State Farmers' Market in Raleigh because that is the place to buy seedlings and other baby plants.    The Durham Farmers' Market is great for all kinds of other stuff, but Raleigh is definitely whats needed for a big planting project.

I did try to start a lot of seedlings, but there was a pretty high failure rate, I'm sure from the old, and not so well-kept seeds.  No problem, since you can buy tons of plants for super cheap at the market.  The only downside is that I like some cultivars that are rarer, so if I'm feeling particular, I *need* to buy seeds and start my own (Tomatoberry fruits are the best ever, IMO, and those are definitely not ones you find at market)

So here are my garden towers shortly after planting (some stuff overwinters well here, like chard, onions, and snap dragons).  This is April 21!

Same towers (slightly different angle) on May 21  One month later!

My tomatoes and squash are really going out there.   The onions are insane, too.  I can only do so much with spring onions, and I have three different "slots" with them.
I also have stuff in pots - Tomatoes, Ginger mint, Citronella, Snap Peas, Cucumbers.
And I have other things in the ground (as an experiment, I live in a townhouse, so it's a yard, but it's something others mow, so I tried to hug them along fences and the unit where the mulch is): watermelon, more squash, cucumbers, tomatoes.  I gave up on trying to grow luffas - that seemed to fail every year.

My salvia is going really well, which makes me happy because I have a number of hummers that visit every year.  I need to get the feeder up (still), but at least I know they'll come for the salvia, because they always do.

And, with even *more* excitement, my hydrangea, that I planted three years ago actually decided to bloom this year!

My only issue is a lack of bees.  The townhome "community" is rather sterile (lots of grass and boxwoods, nothing flowering), and I rarely see bees until later in the season.  I usually end up pollinating my squash by hand (or by eyeshadow brush, at least).  I'll get some carpenter bees and wasps, but not so much with the honeybees, which makes me sad (though I've planted lots of bee balm, I have a "hedge" of buddleia, and other bee-attracters)