Monday, March 1, 2021

Hi's and Lo's

 I didn't do quite as much stitching last week as I would have liked, but honestly, isn't that always the case? I did try my best to get some good progress on my current Frosty Forest block (which I started last February) but it was much more work intensive than I anticipated. So instead of finishing off this block and getting a good start on the next, I didn't even manage to complete the one:

In all honesty, this project started to drag me down after a few days, and I found myself not wanting to work on it. Nothing against the project, but it's on that very stiff Wichelt, and it after typing all day for work, it was a bit hard on my hands. I had been really looking forward to stitching the house (love stitching houses!) but stitching that variegated thread one stitch at a time is not my favorite, but I liked the effect too much to stitch in rows. Plus, I found my thread a bit tangly, so I used my trolley needle for most of the house. It looks much nicer, but slows me way down. So I hope I can find more time for this one later this year and finish off a couple blocks. That house needs to be done!

I've also put a few more days into Elizabeth Oliver to meet my goal for the month:

I am so happy to have most of that green block done, and I've got her name in! That makes her officially official in my mind, and she's in the home stretch. I'm really hoping to finish her in March, or at least early April. Fingers crossed!

When I didn't want to work on Frosty Forest, I turned to my Temperature Library instead and surprised myself by catching up:

I added 4 colors for that very cold week we had (a new color every 3 degrees) and chose a really pale purple down to the very dark gray-purple for our 0 day. That way it's easy for me to spot. Then a week later we hit 69, so I got to stitch my first yellow. I really thought about trying to mark the days when it snowed, but my official weather station doesn't record trace amounts, and I haven't been keeping track. But next time I do a temperature chart, I may find a way to indicate some weather.

So that's all I worked on last week. My March plans are a bit all over the place, and I have a crazy notion I'll be participating in the Full Coverage Fanatics challenge for History Sprints. It involves switching to different projects almost every day to match a prompt, so we'll see how that goes. I'm kind of excited to try though. Guess that's all for now. Happy stitching!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

First Finish of the Year

 You guys! I finished Ann!

I'm so happy to have her done. She's a fairly small sampler, but she was still a lot of work. All told, I counted 8,283 stitches. It took me 40.8 hours to stitch, stretched out over 39 days.

Just to recap, the chart is Ann Barson Loughbro 1837 by Plum Street. I stitched mine on 40ct Light Examplar by Lakeside Linens with the called for threads, mostly Classic Colorworks with one GAST. The chart does not offer a DMC conversion, but it does include an alternate palette to match what the original looks like now, which is also on the cover of the chart. My favorite color was, of course, Manor Red, which was used to stitch the verse.

I also spent 4 days on Luna last week, and got in about 1600 stitches. I've reached the edge of the moon, and I'm almost done with the last bits of her hair. (Not to judge, but seems to me she could use a good trim. Guess there aren't many salons up on the moon.)

As I'm working on these two columns, I'm also working on 2 different pages. So technically, I've already started the last page on this row. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can reach that milestone. :)

I guess I'll keep it short this week. I've put a few more stitches into Favorite Bird (the big brown one) but nothing worth showing yet. I did add some colors to my Temperature Library, so I need to catch up on that. But next week, I'll be bringing out Frosty Forest for some much needed progress. Hope you all are meeting all of your stitchy goals. Until next time!

Monday, February 15, 2021

It's So Cold!

 Currently here in KC, it is -5 degrees and snowing. The high for today is 0, maybe. I don't think it's been this cold here in my lifetime, although I could be wrong. It doesn't feel like it though. I had to replace my car battery last week, and I'm hoping the new one will be ok. At least my apartment is fairly warm, and the pipes haven't frozen, thank goodness!

I didn't have the best stitchy week, but I think I had a minor cold for a while. Just a couple days of bleh and drippy nose and being very tired, but I think I'm better now. My weekly projects did suffer a bit, but I managed a little progress.

I'm still working on Ann Barson everyday. I'm not sick of her yet, but I wish I could hurry up and finish her. I did get in a page finish though, so just one more page to go:

I debated about stitching that bit of border in gold or to keep it white, but I thought, since I've stitched all of Ann's other "mistakes," I'd keep it consistent. It is a bit quirky, and I think I like it. She really did struggle with that central basket though. It's not at all symmetrical, and because it's on the page divide, I actually had to frog twice to restitch it as charted. I do wonder how Ann would feel about me restitching her mistakes. Would you cringe if someone meticulously reproduced your errors? Or would you feel vindicated, because it's just a cool hobby we do for fun? And it still looks nice. :)

Beth ended up a bit neglected this week, as I just couldn't rouse myself to stitch in the evenings. I'm blaming my cold for that. But I did get three sessions with her, and managed to stitch in the year and her age:

That green box is quite enormous. I've still got the outer color to do along the top, and then I'll let myself stitch her name. I'm kind of daunted by that, as it makes it officially hers somehow. I suppose it's been a long journey with this one, and I'm grateful to Ms. Oliver for letting me share it with her.

I spent the weekend with one of my full coverage beauties, Secluded Blue. I'm actually doing the WipGo challenge of Facebook, and her number was drawn this month, which made me very happy. I spent 5 hours working on her and managed 700 stitches:

My WipGo board is a mix of yearly goals and indulgences -- those projects that I love but might not pick up without prompting because they aren't my priority. I don't know if I'll make all my bingo's, but I'm really glad to have an excuse to spend time with my non focus pieces.

I guess that's all for now. I need to pull a few more colors for my Temperature Library, since I wasn't expecting another polar vortex. I hope you are all much warmer than I am, wherever you are. Happy stitching!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Switching Gears

 Hi all! I didn't think I'd have much to share after just one week, but I guess I was wrong. Last month, I worked almost exclusively on full coverage projects, so this month I'm focusing on a few samplers and other designs.

I kicked off the month with a new start, because how could I not start something on 2-1-21? I had originally planned to start Amethyst by Carolyn Manning, as it ties in well with February (it's the gemstone for the month) but I couldn't wait, and started that last year. So, in search of something else purple, I settled on Purple Passion by The Silver Lining. They have tons of fabulous charts for flowers, but I'm partial to purple and irises.

It's suggested to stitch this chart over 1 on 28ct, which I almost did, but in the end I went with 32ct Taupe Lugana over 2. My mother actually bought this for me a few years ago, but I was so intimidated by all the confetti (and backstitch!), it's taken me this long to start it. One of the things I love about this chart is that it's charted for both DMC and Anchor to get all the purples possible. I'm really impressed with the purple hues Anchor has to offer, and I love how this is stitching up, even if I'm stitching it really slowly. This is about 5.5 hours of work.

My focus project for this month is Ann Barson Loughbro by Plum Street. My goal is to finish her this month:

When I pulled this out last year, it felt like I had lost the love for this piece, though I don't know why. I love the verse, but stitching on her felt like a chore. So I was kind of dreading pulling her out again. But the love is back! I'm really enjoying this now, and I feel really motivated to finish, probably because I've decided to reward myself with more of Grand Vierlande if I get her done before the month is over. :)

Last, for posterity's sake, here is my Temperature Library with the January shelf all done:

I'm already excited to continue with the February shelf as it has the first of the few knickknacks that are scattered about. Also, we're in for a deep freeze this week, so I'll probably get to use my coldest colors. I may even need to add a color if it gets below 10 for a high. We'll see.

I guess that's all for this week. Next week I'll be working on Elizabeth Oliver, as I really want to get her done by the end of March. Hope you all are enduring (or enjoying) the weather wherever you are. Happy stitching!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Kickstarting 2021

 Hello all! Welcome back to another long winded stitchy ramble. :)

I don't know about you, but I love making plans, especially about cross stitch. I usually start planning for the new year around September as I'm always so anxious to see what all I can accomplish and what my goals should be. For this year, I'm actually trying to plan a bit less than my normal obsessive self would like and be a bit more flexible. It's hard. I'm one of those people who doesn't like surprises at all. I'm at my best when I have a scheduled itinerary for the day, and a nice to-do list so I can check off tasks. But last year, what I wanted to stitch started to butt heads with what I was "supposed" to stitch, and the result was usually me sulkily playing games on my tablet instead. 

So this year, I'm being more flexible. Trying to be. I haven't done my usual weekly planning of wips for the year. Instead, I'm making loose plans from month to month based on a handful of goals, and I'm letting myself be more open to changes that pop up in facebook challenges, sals, or just my whims. Right now, my plans for February are pretty solid, but I've left a little wiggle room here and there. I also have definite goals for March, but no definitive plan. But April? That's still completely open. I'm hoping I can have a bit more fun with my stitching this year and stitch on what I'm enjoying at that moment, even if that means some of my goals will not be met. Because that's ok! 

I've already embraced a bit of whimsy by taking on 2 new SALs, both completely unplanned, but both amazing projects. The first is from Quiltify Designs, called Grande Vierlande. 

When I first saw this on Etsy, I just gasped. There's something about they way those circular motifs are arranged that I absolutely love, so I had to have it. This one is a very large project at 493x467. But I think what truly makes it amazing is that you actually get 3 versions of this chart, which he's colored as Red, Blue and Green, so you can pick your favorite motifs to stitch and make your sampler truly unique. I can't imagine how much work must have gone into charting all that, but it's a fantastic concept. Of course, I haven't made near as much progress as I would've liked, but I almost got my first motif done:

My alphabet is from the Red version, as are the first 2 crowns. My first motif is from the Green version. It was really hard to pick which ones to stitch, as they are all lovely. I had some Silks4U in my stash and thought these colors worked very well together, PR132 and PR021. The design is so large, I decided to go with 46ct Latte from XJuDesigns. I know I can't keep up with the sal, but I hope to get back to this regularly.

My second sal is another temperature chart. I really liked Stitchin' Mommy's temperature tree last year, and I may do that next year, but when I saw this temperature library from Kristi's Corner Needle, I thought it was pefect:

I didn't start this until the 12th, so I'm a bit behind, but I love how this is stitching up. Some people have opted to backstitch their books to make them more distinct, but I'm rather enjoying the blobs of color at the moment. Plus, the books are usually different shapes and sizes, so telling them apart isn't difficult.

I've updated my colors a bit from the last temperature chart I did. Aren't they all so lovely? :)

I suppose I should move on and talk about what I did plan for this year. I plan to make a bit more significant progress on a few select wips. I've picked 8-10 of my full coverage pieces, and about a dozen smaller pieces. I'm hoping to get in 6 finishes this year, and maybe 15 page finishes. We'll see. To help with this goal, I've decided to have a focus project each month to work on every day. I don't think I can be monogamous, but at the same time, working long term on a project seems to make me want to stitch more on it, not less. At least, up to a point.

My first monthly project was Kabuki. I had just finished a 30 day rotation on her in December, but I really couldn't wait to pick her up again. I only worked on her for 25 days this month (12 Days of Christmas got the first 5) but I've added 2,931 stiches, and I think she's looking pretty good:

I've almost finished her neck now, just another couple rows until her kimono starts to sweep around her. Once again, I am sad to put her down, but I'm also excited to see how much progress I can make on my other projects. I'm think Kabuki will be out again in June, but no firm plans yet. :)

I've also decided to pick up one of my most neglected wips again this year (although I have quite a few, sad to say) because it just breaks my heart to see these projects languish year after year. I actually picked this up in December and got a tiny page finish, and that has helped to fuel the fire for this year. This is The Favorite Bird from Golden Kite, art by Charles Hue:

I don't really like showing this one because there's nothing to look at yet, and the camera doesn't like all those dark colors. I've started in the bottom right corner, so it's just the floor and the beginning of a couple table legs. But one has to make a start somewhere, and my brain does not like center starts on full coverage, so floor and table it is. My goal is to complete at least 4 pages this year, although I might aim for 9. I've already completed 1 page and started a second, but I doubt this will be out every month since I'll still be focusing on Luna. It'll be a push, but I do love this image, so I think a push is needed.

I haven't decided yet if I'll be focusing on Favorite Bird every year now or if I'll rotate through my other neglected wips. I do have quite a few that are calling to me. I'll likely set a certain goal for each project and rotate when that's done. Probably. Which one would you work on if you were me?

I hope you are are making some good stitchy progress. Until next time!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Brief, Belated Farewell to 2020

 I know yearly summaries should be accomplished at the end of the year, but here we are, almost done with January, and I'm just now getting around to mine. I feel like time has turned into an express train and I keep waiting for it to stop. Oh well. I don't want to spend too much time going over everything I've done for the year, but I thought I'd mention a couple highlights, and document a few statistics since I like keeping track of those.

My big goal for 2020 was to stitch on all of my wips at least once. I didn't quite succeed, but it was so close, I'm considering it a success. My main reason for doing this was to reacquaint myself with all of them and figure out if any should be ufo'd or become more of a focus. I'm really glad I did that, because I did have a few surprises, and that has helped me rearrange some goals for this year.

I started 2020 with 66 wips (I think) and, after a bit of lockdown madness that started in April and somehow managed to reverberate through the rest of the year, I finished with 77 active wips, 2 finishes, and 6 ufos. Out of all these wips, there were only 3 that I wasn't able to stitch on, and 2 of those became ufos. So, pretty much a success.

Because of the quarantine, I was able to have a very good stitching year. My total stitches for 2020 came to 153,622. (I should mention, I do count tent stitches as 1 stitch.) I think this is my highest total yet. My total time came to 792.4 hours, and I managed to stitch 355 days for the year. Not too shabby.

While I would love to show you all the progress I made on each of my 77 wips, I know that's impossible for one post. But I would like to highlight a few favorites. First up, as always, is Luna:

I had really hoped to finish off the row for the year, but that just didn't happen. But I did manage to add 20,500 stitches to this beauty, so she wasn't too neglected. She's still a focus piece for 2021, so we'll see if I can make up for my lack of progress.

Next is Elizabeth Oliver by Moira Blackburn, I've decided to gift this to my mother this May, which means I need to hurry up and finish her. I'm definitely getting closer:

I've really enjoyed stitching on this one, and I'll miss her when she's done. For the year, I put in 14,899 stitches. Yes, she really is big.

My New Year's start actually became one of my favorites as well, even though I'm only stitching the carpet at the moment. I've loved this image for so long, that may be part of the reason. This is absolute confetti with blended threads, but it's hard to put her down once I've started. This is The Fireplace, art by James Tissot, chart by Golden Kite. (Please excuse the messy threads and terrible lighting):

I've nicknamed this one Sofie, as sort of an homage to Georgette Heyer and her book The Grand Sophy. (My Sofie looks pretty grand too, right?) I wish I had picked this one up a few more times, but I'm glad I got as much progress as I did. Total stitches so far is 8872.

Last, I will show what is probably my oldest wip, Kabuki from Mystic Stitch. I spent a few months watching all of Kim Hollenback's flosstube videos, and she really inspired me to try to make more progress on at least some of my full coverage wips. To that end, I challenged myself to work on Kabuki for 30 days straight with the goal of at least 50 stitches per day. It's not a lot, but it's more than nothing:

I did my 30 day challenge from mid November through mid December, so she got a total of 53 days progress. I managed 2909 stitches in those 30 days, and 6270 for the year. I was really surprised at how much I've enjoyed working on her, as this is a pretty difficult chart. But it was hard to put her down at the end of those 30 days. I've actually picked her up again this month, but that will have to wait for another update.

Hopefully, I can get back on track this year with my updates. (If I can tear myself away from stitching to do so.) Wishing you all the best for 2021. Happy stiching!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

All About Polly

Hi gang! I had hoped to make a progress report last week, but I was too caught up in my stitching to make a post. So this week I thought I'd do a long rambly post all about my current obsession, Polly Phillip 1772 from The Scarlet Letter.

I stitched on her a solid 7 days before I put her down, but I had to pick her up again a few days later. (The force is strong with this one!) I've had a few trials and tribulations with her, which I'll discuss in a bit, but I love how she's stitching up. I might be able to put her down for a while now (Luna is glaring and tapping her foot) but I'll be anxiously waiting for my next chance to pick her up again.

So, last time you saw her, I was only 2 days in and still fleshing out the border. Here she is after 12 days of stitching:
I must say, those blue flowers are really eye catching, even across the room. I think those are hydrangeas, and the other is a carnation. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!) I wish I could've gotten to a yellow flower, but that will come in due time. The border stitches up pretty quickly, but there are a lot of stitches in there. The main line of the vine is very symmetrical, but every nook of each flower's space is filled with narrow curling leaves  or blooming petals. I really like it. As I mentioned before, the border is full cross stitch, which I'm doing with 2 strands over 2 on 36ct Pecan Butter.

Above that is the first (last?) bit of verse, which ends in "Avoid Sin." Very good advice. The big letters are regular cross stitch (I used 2 strands again) and the rest is 1 over 1, full cross stitches. I'm still very slow at 1x1, and my stitches still look a bit wonky close up, but stepping back, it all evens out and looks great. So I'll keep at it. I'm trying to use the tutorial from Twisted Threads as a guide, but it's a very brief tutorial, and only covers stitching in a straight line. If anyone knows of any other tutorials, please let me know! :)
And of course, once I started the first pastoral scene, I just couldn't stop. It's all stitched over 1, mostly tent stitching, but the pattern suggests to outline each motif with a full cross stitch and then fill in with tent stitch. I'm not doing that for everything, but I did it for the big flower, which really helps keep the outer stitches from disappearing. I figured the grass, bushes and leaves can be tent stitch only to give them a more natural feel? And I can always change my mind later. The flower stem looks a little spindly tho...

As for the trials and tribulations I mentioned. Well. [This might not interest anyone who isn't planning to stitch this chart, but if you'd like a little peek into Scarlet Letter charts in general, or if you're just bored and curious, read on. Also, I think I just need to vent a little, and this is my blog, so... :)] 

tl,dr: Always double check your charts for accuracy!

I'll start by saying that the chart is essentially okay, as in I can stitch the whole thing as is just fine, but there are some little things I've had to tweak. The chart is computer generated, not hand drawn (though I do have a SL chart that is). However, they've used the larger 11x17 pages rather than the standard 8.5x11, and there are some places where it appears they've had to do some manual cutting and pasting and photocopying to make a full chart. They did a really good job, but some of the lines are wonky at the joins, so I have to be extra careful when counting. Also, the graph isn't numbered, so I had to take some time to line up each section of my working copy (I always make a working copy) to avoid accidental overlaps. As an additional whine, I could add that the graph is small and a bit blurry, but it copied just fine and I can always blow it up if need be.

I thinks that's all the minor stuff. I would like to add that I do have a more modern SL chart that is just like any other pattern these days: computer generated, nice big, dark symbols that are easy to read, and a standard size page. I'm not sure when they updated their charts, but Polly is from 2004, and my modern chart is from 2014.

My biggest headache has stemmed from the cover image of the pattern -- or rather, the assumption that it was correct. I don't know what the story is about the model or who stitched it, but it is incomplete. I know that's really a "so what?" but I'm the type who constantly refers to the completed image for guidance, about colors (especially if the chart is blurry and I can't read the symbol) or motif placement, to make sure I am where I think I am. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be as big a deal, but the chart has one major flaw: The text and pastoral scenes, charted separately because they are over 1, do not line up with the border chart, and there are no markers on the border chart for placement beyond the first letter of each text line. 

This actually took me a couple days to sort out, made worse by the incomplete model, made even worse when I realized the SL website actually shows two different stitched models: one of the full piece, and one for close up pics. However, the versions differ from each other! Since I'm starting at the end of the verse, I counted it out several times to make sure I had everything in the correct spot. Unfortunately, it didn't line up with either version of the model, which made me very nervous. I'm pretty sure I'll be okay with my placement now, but I won't really know until the whole line is stitched. But the text graph was 4 threads too short in placing the end of the row, and the pastoral scene was 7 threads too wide. So I'm very glad I counted.

Here are two versions presented on the SL website. The left is from the cover photo on the pattern. The right is closer to what is charted, but still incomplete (missing a butterfly). Notice how the first one is missing a large chunk of tree?
Scarlet Letter also has a gallery of completed works, and here you can really see the difference between the pattern model (left) and the actual finished piece (right):
The model's top panel is pretty sparse in comparison, but I think the biggest difference is in the bottom scene. On the model, the rolling hills are completely different, and the bits under the central urn are missing. It also seems that the left leaf and flower were a bit improvised, as they don't match the chart at all. There are many other little differences, but you get the idea.

I'm not pointing out all these disparities to cast aspersions at Scarlet Letter. Like I said, I don't know the story behind the model or the person who stitched it. I'm not here to judge. But I remember when I first saw this chart and I had that jolt -- you know that jolt? Like, you see something so amazing you know you have to make it part of your life, even if it seems impossible? That jolt? But I hesitated because I had a sense like it wasn't quite balanced, I guess. (hard to put these things into words) The center panels did seem sparse compared to that dense border. But seeing the actual finished piece, I feel that sense of balance now. Like, Yes, there's that piece I didn't know was missing! And I just wanted to share that with you. Polly is beautiful. I wish SL had a better representation of that. Also, I wanted to make everyone aware that you should always double check your charts, especially if they're older. But don't be afraid to stitch them!