Apr 19, 2014

Where Does One Start?

Ever have trouble getting a blog update started?  It's not like I don't have things to say.  I just don't know where to start.  The past couple days have been difficult (more on that later).  I guess I'll start with a bit of humor...

Last night, I went to the thrift store to see if I could find a purse and a belt.  The belt I've been using literally fell apart one day last week.  I did find a belt.  No purse, though.  Also picked up a couple of books for $0.99 each and a nice 11x14 ornate frame with a mat in it.  I figure I can use it for a future stitching project.  I don't know what it is with me and frames (must be the photographer in me).  It's either frames or office supplies.  Yes, I have a fetish for office supplies, lol.  Note pads, post-its, paperclips, pens, markers, pencils, etc.  You're probably wondering what it is I found amusing at the thrift store, right?  I can hear you, "Get on with it, lady!"

I spied a still-in-the-package bottle of Fray Check.  I use the stuff for sealing the edges of my fabric to keep it from fraying while I stitch.  Sometimes, if I'm not too lazy... I'll use the sewing machine, but fray check is easier.  So, I saw the bottle and picked it up.  And yes, I thought this was funny.  Not "Ha Ha" funny, but stupid funny like "Seriously?"

New Price:  $2.59

Thrift Store Price: $2.99
As hard as it was (she says sarcastically), I opted to leave the fray check on the shelf.  I can get the stuff for 40% off with coupon at JoAnn Fabrics.  Now that's a deal!
Last week started out with snow on Monday.  Can you believe it?  Snow!  This has been the longest winter ever.  Even though it snowed all day, we only ended up with a dusting of accumulation.

These were taken during my commute to work.  Despite the 40 minutes it takes, it is a beautiful drive (now that the "Tunnels of Terror" have disappeared).  This weekend, temperatures are supposed to get to the upper 60's with beautiful sunshine.  Yay!
After my last Petal Pincushion update, I realized I didn't cut the fabric correctly for four of the panels.  I based my size on the size of the chart and added an inch.  Makes sense, right?  However, that is incorrect.  There are three different charts for the project.  One for the button, one for the inside panels (which is the correct size) and one for outside panels.  Apparently, one is supposed to assume that the fabric for the outside panels would be the same as for the inside panels despite the chart dimensions being different.  This girl did not assume and cut the fabric according to the chart sizes.  Christina from A Stitchers Work and I are doing this as a SAL and are sharing photos.  After seeing her initial WIP photos, it occurred to me that my outside panels didn't look quite right.  Wouldn't you know, those are the panels I stitched first.  I had two done before I realized the error of my ways.  I've cut new pieces of fabric.  Thank goodness I have a huge piece of it!

The light half circle line isn't actually on the fabric pieces.  It's a reflection of sunlight from the camera lens.  Oddest thing... In all the years I've been doing photography, I've never had it happen before.
I thought I'd pull together the finishing supplies I found in my stash that'll be used to create the pincushion.  I forgot to include the 1/8" satin ribbon... it's the same dark purple as the stitched flowers.

See the cost of the button covers?  29cents!  I don't even remember where I got them, but I've had them forever.  I estimate they're probably from the 1960's or 70's.
The pincushion project is basically a mattress pincushion inside a pyramid box made from the stitched pieces.  I've been kicking around which fabric I should use for the mattress and bottom of the pyramind.  Pink or Purple?  I dug through my stash and came up with these purple choices:

I'm kinda leaning toward the upper left fabric, but I don't know if it's too "busy".  The bottom one looks too light and the dark purple in the upper right looks too dark.  What do you think?
I am really happy with the third panel I'm stitching on.  Believe it or not, I've used three different dye lots of DMC 704 (green) to stitch it.  I had small amounts of each on different bobbins and wanted to use them up.  So I blended two strands together and alternated with dye lots I stitched with.

Can't tell, can you?
I received word earlier this week that Anne of Doll's Musings received the Easter/Spring mailart I created for her. 

The designs came from two different sources:
"Happy Easter" lettering - Cottage Garden Samplings
Duck, bunnies, and basket - Cross Stitch Crazy, Issue 109 (March 2008)
Fabric:  18ct Hand-dyed Aida (purple, turquoise, yellow)
Floss: DMC
Embellishments: 1/8" purple ribbon, buttons, seed bead
Anne loves the little details I add to my mailart and said it was "darling". I'm glad she liked it.  She wants to learn how to add the border fabric and suggested I do a tutorial.  So, when I do my next mailart, I will do a tutorial.  Meantime, I do have my "plain" mailart tutorial on the sidebar to the left.
I haven't done much on Japanese Garden, but I do have an update.  I think when I last left off, I said that I will run out of the green Eterna silk floss.  In looking at a conversion chart, I found that DMC 369 is a very-very close match.  So, I ripped out some of the silk floss I'd stitched in the corner ornament.  I did this very carefully as I wanted to save and reuse as much as possible.  I re-stitched a section blending one strand of silk with one strand of DMC.  One strand of silk is just enough to give it the sheen the rest of the project has.  I showed the BF and he couldn't tell a difference.  So, I ripped out the rest of the silk thread and restitched it.  I'm hoping I haven enough silk to finish the other corner.  It will be close, that's for sure!

On April 7th, my Dad asked me if I could drive him to the VA hospital because he was scheduled for a biopsy.  The nearest VA hospital is about an hour and a half from my parents and two hours for me.  Two months ago, he found a lump.  They did a needle biopsy which didn't tell anything.  The lump grew to almost twice the size so they scheduled a biopsy.
Fast forward to two days ago.  My youngest brother called me to tell me he'd visited my parents the day before and found out the results.  I think my Mom said something because Dad wasn't going to tell anyone until after next Monday.  My Dad has cancer.  Cancer!  I asked what kind, and he said they don't know.  How can they not know?  How do they form a treatment plan if they don't know? 
On Monday, there is a consultation with the surgeon and radiologist.  I am going with my parents because they never ask questions about anything and sometimes I think they don't understand what doctors tell them.  They just go along with whatever the doctors say.  I try not to think of the ramifications... of course, I don't always succeed.  The last few days have been difficult, to say the least. 
I had a massage therapy appointment this morning and the therapist said, "This is going to be a stupid question, but are you having a lot of stress at work?"  Then, she proceeded to tell me that both my shoulders were really, really tight.  I said, "Not at work, but I've been under stress the past few days."  Apparently, I'm carrying the stress in my shoulders.  Rather than cancel my appointment in two weeks, I decided to keep it seeing as I've been internalizing what's been going on.
If you're interested, you can read a little about my Dad HERE.
I don't want to sign off on a downer, so I want to wish everyone who celebrates... a Happy Easter. 

I won't be doing anything special.  I brought work home so I can make up the hours I'll miss on Monday.  While putting some things in the attic last month, I came across my only Easter decorations.  It's been over a decade since I set these out.  If you look close, you can see that the tree lights up.

Until next time,

Mar 27, 2014

Stitch from Stash - March

Time to report on the Stitch From Stash challenge coordinated by Mel at Epic Stitching.  The idea is (obviously) to stitch from our stash to reduce spending.  I also look at it as a way to focus on reducing my accumulation of stash.

During the month of March, I have spent zilch...nada... zero!

I focused on stitching and shopped my stash collection instead of online or at the store.

I started and finished Stitcher's Heart:

I worked on Japanese Garden:

I started Petal Pincushion:

I also finished the Spring/Easter mailart, but can't show photos until it arrives to its new home.

Until the next SFS,

Mar 24, 2014

Marvelous Monday Update 3/24/14

Spring is slowly crawling its way in my area.  Most of the snow has melted and its wake the nasty brown stuff has been left behind.  We're due for a bit more snow today and tomorrow, but possible temperatures in the mid to upper 50's by the weekend.  I am so looking forward to leaving winter behind!  This last one was the 8th worst on record for my area.

I think I'm finally getting over the cold I have been battling with for the past three weeks.  The cough has been lingering... and lingering... and lingering.  I've had more energy so I think I'm on the downhill slide.  Let's hope!

I think I've mentioned a time or two that my employer has a healthy living incentive program.  We have to earn and maintain a certain amount of points for certain healthy living activities (pre-determined by an outside provider) in order to get a discount on our health insurance premiums.  Last week, some coworkers and I participated in a 3K Run/Walk.  It was my first one.

(I'm the one in red)
In last week's mail, I received the Stitchers Day Exchange from DJ (Tickled Pink in Stitches).  She stitched it over-one and made it into a beautiful little flatfold.  I am so happy with it.

Thank you, DJ!
I received word from DJ that she received the exchange piece I stitched for her so I can now show it.

Design:  Stitcher's Heart*
Designer: A Mon Ami Pierre
Fabric: 28ct Silkweaver Opalescent Cashel Linen
(Shimmering Romance)
Fibers: DMC
Embellishments: Handmade Cording, Beads
*At one point in time, this design was a freebie offered by A Mon Ami Pierre.  It's no longer on the website, but perhaps they could email by request.  Worth a try...
Last week, I started Petal Pincushion mentioned in a previous post.  I've cut out all the fabric pieces and have stitched the button and most of one side.  This will be my new work "lunch hour" project.

I finished the Spring/Easter mailart that will be going to Anne, but I can't show photos until it arrives in Canada.  That counts as the fourth finish this year.  Woo Hoo!
I pulled out JG yesterday and made a bit of progress.  Much to my dismay, I think I may run out of a couple Eterna Mini-Twist colors.  I did a search online and I would end up paying twice as much for shipping than I would for two skeins of floss.  I emailed Stitchers Paradise for a quote, but haven't heard back yet.  Anyone know of where I can get the floss with reasonable shipping?  Or, does anyone have Eterna in their stash?  I'm looking for 4110, 290, and 2840.

Until next time,

Mar 16, 2014

The Week That Was

Where do I start?  How about last Monday morning?

My boss, the controller, is always in her office either before or at 8am.  At quarter after, I wondered if she was sick and no one had sent out an email yet.  The CFO came to my desk shortly after that and asked me to come into her office. She said, "I don't know if you've heard yet..."  Uhmm, no.  At that point, I truly thought my boss had an accident over the weekend.  The CFO then informed me that the controller and the 80+ year old tax accountant (both were my go-to people when I needed to learn or know something) were let go, along with a gal from human resources and a gal who was a business analyst.  I was so stunned and shocked by it all.  Sure, it didn't surprise me about the 80 year old since the controller had been telling me for months that his performance had been going down hill for the past 6 months.  He just wasn't mentally processing things quickly and it took him forever to accomplish tasks.  But, the controller?  I was was truly surprised and caught off guard.  The reason we were given as to why they were let go is "duplication of efforts."

Although, when I think back to when the CFO was hired...  She was hired about 4 months after I was.  At the time, management said: "Things will remain the same.  You all will still report to the controller as in the past.  Blah, blah, blah."  I remember thinking: "Why would they need a controller and a CFO?"  Ah well, here it is a year later and the controller as well as a few others have been axed.  Management has told us we "don't need to be looking over your shoulders. It's a one time deal. It's done and we're moving forward."  Management has also told us that the employees would be taken care of... whatever that means.

Needless to say, morale was a bit down on Monday.  Even by Friday, I still felt pangs of sadness for my former coworkers.  I *really* liked my boss, the controller... I will miss her.

My hunting adventures haven't resulted in any major "finds" lately, but I still like to go and look.  I've acquired a few small things:

A sock monkey!  These little fellas take me back to my childhood.  My grandmother (RIP) had one of these and I remember playing with it when I went to visit.  Did you know that the sock monkey originated in Rockford, Illinois not far from me?  This particular sock monkey is a Ty Beanie Baby.

A few small cross stitch kits. With some modifications, I think they will make some cute projects.

Temps have finally warmed up some.  The "Tunnels of Terror" and mountains of snow in my yard have slowly been melting away.  By Wednesday, we're supposed to have temps in the mid 50's. Woo Hoo!

Apparently, I didn't knock on wood hard enough or long enough.  I have "caught" the cold bug that's been going around at work.  It started off with a tiny little cough and then developed into a deep, barking one that hurt when I sneezed.  I've had a bit of a runny nose and sinus congestion, too.  I think I'm on the downhill slide now.  The cough isn't as bad and I feel better with each day.  Unfortunately, I have passed on the good fortune to the BF.

I have been working on two projects the past several weeks.  Both are for exchanges so I can't show them quite yet. 

It was decided by one of the Yahoo groups that March 25th is Stitchers Day. In celebration, an exchange was coordinated. I sent my package off to DJ (Tickled Pink in Stitches) on Saturday, so hopefully I'll get to show pics next week.  I had a fiddly of a time getting it assembled to my vision, but I finally got it.  I hope she likes it... I really wanted to keep it!

The other project is for Anne (Doll's Musings).  After we did our Christmas mailart exchange last year, Anne asked me if I'd be interested in doing a Spring/Easter mailart.  I hand-dyed a fabric and have been diligently stitching away on it.  It is turning out so adorable!  I'm close enough to being finished with the stitching that I'm thinking about embellishments and finishing.  So exciting!

Once I get the mailart piece done, I will be starting a new project.  I agreed to do a SAL with Christina (A Stitchers Work).  We are going to be stitching the Petal Pincushion shown on the front cover of the April issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine.  Interestingly enough, neither one of us are going to use the recommended supplies.  Christina is doing hers in yellow and pink.  I will be doing mine in dusty rose fabric and either dark pink or purple floss for the flowers. What color do you think would look better?

The color I go with for the flowers will determine the color I use for the ribbon ties.  I plan on hand-dyeing the ric rac green to (hopefully) match the greenery of the stitched piece.  I also need to get some flower buttons since I don't have those.


Until next time,

Addendum to Week That Was

I forgot to mention a couple other things....

1.   Remember the black and white photo I did of my niece... the companion piece I showed in my last post?  I finally delivered it to my brother at his workplace.  He was so thrilled with it, he showed it off to his coworkers and told the story of how I did similar ones of his other two daughters. As I left, he thanked me again and said, "I love it!"  I'm sure it wasn't long after he got home that the new one was hung up on his wall along side the other two.

2.   The sweetheart that he is, the BF bought me a subscription to Just Cross Stitch as a Valentine's Day gift... so that I could do the SAL with Christina.  If you're considering getting a subscription, I highly recommend getting the digital version.  Each issue is a downloadable PDF file that is searchable.  For less than $20, not only do you get the current issues throughout the year, but you also get access to the prior two years back issues... including the ornament issues.  The back issues are also downloadable and searchable PDF files.  That's like getting three years for the price of one!  What I like is that I only need to print the pages I need when I want to do a project.  Takes up less space and I can still peruse them anytime I want.