Monday, June 20, 2016

June WIPocalypse

Hi there!

Today is officially the first day of summer, but it's been over 90 degrees (F) here for about two weeks.Ugh! Looking over the projects I've worked on in the last month, it seems like a lot more time has passed since I stitched on them. I've been sooo busy at work, stuff I worked on four weeks ago feels more like two or three months ago. It kind of gives me that surreal feeling like time is going both really fast and really slow. But I guess the year is half over, or just about.

Let's see... I worked on Cass for a while, as she's nice easy stitching when I'm feeling stressed. Here's where I left her in March:
I managed to finish the bottom border and get to the edge of her dress plus the end of her couch, then I rolled her up and stitched a bit more:

I got some more green done on my Tigers, but couldn't quite finish all the leaves. It's pretty close though:

Flora started a new page, which is off to a good start:

I added a couple columns on Moon Indigo (I also did a parking demo with her if you're interested, just click the tab at the top):
I figure if I do just two columns a month on Luna, I'll get another 11,400 stitches done by the end of the year, which is about a page and a half. Not a bad total for just a little attention each month. :)

I also finally pulled out Scale for the first time this year, but only for  a few days so far. Last year I managed to get her massive eye done. This year, it'll be her massive nose:

And last but not least, I had a new start for my birthday (can't believe that was less than 4 weeks ago!). This is Ginger Nova from HAED:
I've got four columns of page one done (large format). Just a few more columns to finish the page (and my goal for the year) but I doubt I'll put her away after that. I really love stitching on her and watching those colors take shape into stars and light and space. I'd love to get into the orange of her inner halo, but we'll see. :)

Phew! Didn't realize I'd touched so many projects since last time. No wonder it feels like more than a month. My stitch total for May was 8,918 stitches, my lowest for the year, but I'm still really happy with that. For the year, I'm up to 67,475 stitches, which I think is awesome! My original goal was 90,000 stitches for the year, but now I want to see if I can break 100,000, which is something I always thought would be impossible. But I am definitely going to give it a try. :)

This month's question is: Do you find yourself more productive with stitching in summer or winter?

I am definitely a winter stitcher. I know in January, I'm all excited about the new year and new goals, which always motivates me well into February. Then in late March, the seasons change, I start my spring cleaning, work gets busier, I go out shopping more, etc., and my stitching mojo gradually diminishes. Usually by May, I'm lucky to be doing any stitching at all (though this year might have turned the tide on that). June and July are usually so hot and awful, everything takes so much more energy and time gets away from me. Then by August, I'm trying to play catch up, and by September I settle down and try to finish up my more important goals. I usually hit my stride by October, then stitch like mad 'til the end of the year to finish as much as possible, then start the whole thing over again.

 I know most people like stitching when the sun is bright, but there's something about stitching when it's dark out that makes it seem more cozy, like there's nothing else in the world outside my lamp and my stitching. It makes it easier to focus. I guess that's why I prefer stitching on a winter evening to summer. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Riolis Kit Review

Hello again! I've been kind of busy this week, but I've got a lot to ramble about show you. :)

This week I got started on some fresh pages for Flora:
I'm working two pages at once, since the lower page is just a small partial. Had a string of good days, so I managed just over 1700 stitches here. I think I've got the bits of her dress done, and a sort of outline on the big red flower at the bottom left. The mess of stitches across the upper half will someday be a bunch of grapes, plus a few more flowers. You can never have too many flowers. :)

I also finally pulled out Scale, though I didn't get quite as much done this week as I'd hoped:
I've decided to work down instead of across, so I've been stitching her left eye and bits of her nose. In fact, this whole page will be her very large nose. I'm hoping to get two pages done this year -- her nose and her cheek, to the right. Unfortunately, I don't think this will be very exciting to look at. Most of the color is on the far left; the page for her cheek is almost entirely white, with ecru for contrast. Not visually stimulating, but it does stitch up fairly quickly.

I've got Scale on a scroll frame now instead of a q-snap, and I bought a little something to help with the tension, so I thought I'd share:
 I've seen these on some of the Russian flosstube videos, and decided to buy them along with my Riolis kits. I have no idea what they're called, they were listed on ebay as "side stretch canvas". They were $10 for a pair, and are really simple and easy to use. The ends loop around the frame, then you weave the elastic around the side of your frame and attach a little clip. There are 5 clips, each removable, and they have a really good grip. Once they're on, you can tighten them up for more tension, as the ends are completely adjustable. I don't know if it will still be there, but I got mine here. The tension is not as good as a q-snap, but it's better than it was.

Finally, I did find time to play with my Riolis kits. (Actually, I couldn't wait anymore!) And I took lots of pictures. :)

First of all, the wool thread was packaged differently in a couple kits. My Sweet William kit looked like this:
All the thread is presorted and carded, all ready to go. Makes it really hard not to jump right in and start stitching. :)

But my French Lavender kit looked like this:
Just like Pastoral, a sample of each color is in it's proper place on the numbered card sorter, but the wool itself didn't even have a label. This wasn't really a problem; they were actually very well organized and in order, and the color differences are clear. But it did cause me a bit of trouble (though I shoulda knowed better).

My first inclination was to bobbinate all that thread, knowing it would be a hassle. I actually did okay for a few seconds; then I had a nightmare around my wrist. 30 minutes later, I had to use the scissors (but all the thread is still usable). So, lesson learned, here's how I managed.

Each skein starts out like this:
With a bit of finessing, it pulls apart to this:
But don't stop there! Carefully, so the threads don't tangle, you can find another seam where the thread was looped. Pull gently, watching the threads, and you get this:
I didn't find that seam at first when I started winding my first skein. I quickly realized my mistake, but I think it was too late. So in subsequent skeins, I decided to simply cut it here:
This results in fairly uniform lengths for each skein, at around 18-19 inches long. (You know, that "ideal length" they use in them fancy needlework schools?) At this point, I could have attached it directly to the card provided, but I wanted to use another fancy item I bought a few months back: little plastic rings:
After seeing how neat all those HAED kits looked, with all the floss sorted onto cards and kept in place with plastic rings, I thought I might use such a system to kit up my Golden Kite designs, as having identically cut lengths of thread is ideal for blended colors. I know that HAED sells them (or did at the time) but I thought their price a little high. So, I went hopping through the interwebs until I found The Ring Lord, a Canadian company that specializes in these things (though I think they're intended for cosplay?). Anyway, I got 100 half inch rings for just $5! Shipping to the US was also $5, but that's still a heck of a deal. And they work perfectly:
Isn't that pretty? Once I got going, this worked out pretty quickly, just 20 minutes or so. Then I just had to try it out!
This is a about three hours of stitching on French Lavender, starting in the middle. The fabric is 14ct, and it's kind of terrible at first. The edges are really sharp, and it's stiff at first, but it is softening up with time and handling. And the thread is wonderful! Very soft and smooth, easy to thread, easy to work with, the coverage is great, and I haven't had any tangling or knots (and I don't use thread conditioner). If you want to change the fabric on one of these, I wouldn't go smaller than 16ct for 2 strands, or it would be too bulky.

So that's it! I hope showing the wool thread helped anyone who might have been indecisive about trying out a Riolis kit. It's really not that scary, and they do have some wonderful designs. Hope I didn't ramble too much, and let me know if you have questions. Until next time! :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Never enough time

Hi again! Can't believe it's June already!

Well, things are slowly calming down at work (at least for now) so my stitching is starting to pick up again. I've dabbled on a few projects this week with decent progress, though I hate to put any of these away (but other projects are beginning to scream!).

First, I pulled out my Tigers for some early morning stitching. I had hoped to have all the greenery done by now, but I've had to share stitching time with other things recently. I am tantalizingly close though.
I did manage to finish the bottom corner, and I'm starting to see the outline for the paw.

I was too tired/busy to switch to another project, so I continued a bit with Cass, though I only managed three more days on her. I did roll her up though, so now it's really hard to put her down as I just want to keep filling in those big blocks of color. It's a lot of simple stitching (which helps when your brain feels like mush from overwork) but it takes a lot of time, so I didn't get very far.
I stitched almost entirely in that same shade of light blue-green. (I call it the toothpaste color, as it's actually a blend that reminds me precisely of Colgate toothpaste. Ahh, minty freshness.)

I also got a couple more columns done on Ginger, who is coming along fabulously.
Just starting to define a couple of those light waves in the background, and it's so cool! I am a total astronomy buff, so I love that I'm actually stitching space, and the colors are so awesome. I'm also happy all those "stars" are turning out so well. There's a lot of color in those, and they're pretty fun to stitch.

Lastly, I did finally cave in and put a few stitches on Pastoral, though it doesn't look like much yet.
This is the river, just left of the woman's shoulder. This is a three strand blend, with two of the same blue plus a mid green, which I think gives the color a nice undertone. It'll be interesting to watch the textures in this one, as there are 1, 2, and 3 strand colors, with various blends and half stitches thrown in for good measure.

Also, about the floss: I looked at the box again, and it plainly said this was Anchor floss! I've only ever stitched with Anchor black, but it does not feel or look like what the kit came with. But it is really satiny and smooth and lays well, although the ends tended to fray and thin quite a bit with stitching. Also, this is a Premium Riolis kit, which may be why it is not their typical wool blend floss. I will try to post more about that later, perhaps next weekend if I can find some time to play with my new lovelies. :)

That's all I got for now. Hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying the warmer weather. :) Until next time!