Sunday, September 1, 2019

Japanese Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! I'm writing this in advance as when this post publishes I should have arrived in Tokyo. It's been a busy three weeks since our last check-in, but I've managed to fit in a lot of stitching -- probably in avoidance of many things I *should* have been doing! (True story: I never lived in a tidier apartment or was in better shape than when I was in graduate school. When I felt overwhelmed or underinspired, I left the library and worked out at the gym or tidied my apartment...)

Anyway, last check-in I had just started my first- ever sashiko kit:

And, well, I finished it:

Now, there isn't *that* much stitching in a sashiko project -- at least in this one. But it was still really satisfying to complete it. And, yes, I've packed an extra bag so I can load up on Japanese craft supplies...

I am really fond of the way the sakura look when stitched:

And how just a few lines evoke a snow-capped Mount Fuji (which I'll be climbing soon!).

The pattern of interlocking circles at the bottom was the only traditional sashiko design in this piece, and is the only part I stitched in the traditional way -- 4 long interweaving rows of stitches stretching from one edge of the fabric to the other.

A peek at the back of the piece reveals how "non-traditional" much of my stitching was -- traditionally, the back of the piece should look nearly identical to the front. Well, sorta...

But all in all I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and it will soon grace the small table in my living room.

So, what's next?

I know that at least a few of us in this stitch-a-long are fond of "rescue projects" -- we lurk in the "crafts and hobbies" area of our local thrift shops, collecting abandoned projects and kits. My butterfly kit I made for my mom last year was one such "rescue":

I adopted this orphan a while back, and rediscovered it while digging through my stash. An almost complete crewel embroidery kit titled "Oriental Winter":

That tiny little bit of pale salmon wool was the only wool in the package, but most of the stitching was done. Like a lot of stitchers, I have a box of a bunch of random wool and floss, so decided to use it to fill in the empty bits.

I must confess that I'm a tentative stitcher. I tend to be a rule follower -- this is why I buy kits and patterns rather than create my own art. So even just choosing some wool from my overflowing stash to fill in a few empty patches to complete this piece was surprisingly challenging and, after I had done it, really satisfying.

I worked at it for a few evenings, and then made the somewhat fateful decision to gamble that I had enough wool to stitch the outer border. Spoiler alert: I did not.

So close! However, I knew the color code and was able to find a seller on eBay who sent the wool quickly and I received it on Thursday. I filled in the last bit, and then did the last lines of stitching on the inside edge and outside edges of the outer border.

So that's another small finish, even if I just came in for the very last bit. Oh, by the way, the O.S. (original stitcher) had done a very nice job on the piece, and had finished the edges with tape from the store where I assume the kit was purchased. Sadly, this store doesn't exist anymore, but it must have been great:

When I get back from my trip I'll iron it and see if I can get the rust stain out of the backing -- even if I have no idea what I'll do with the piece now that it's stitched.

Since I'm on the topic of orphans, here's another kit I bought at my local Goodwill:

The kit was complete, unstitched, and in excellent condition inside, so pretty irresistible at $2.49 on the 50% off sale.

And then I opened out the aida, and saw this:

A full color print and grid lines... in lurid colors. The print was very accurate and aligned to the fabric.

And the bright colors -- not matching the colors of the floss, but easily identifiable -- probably makes it really easy to stitch without needing to use the chart...

But ... what would happen to all that printing after you stitched it? I mean, it's really vibrant printing. would it really fade? Before investing the time to stitch, I figured I should test that the ink would disappear in warm water. The verdict? Yes!

Though I've clearly been on an Asian-theme kick, this won't be my next project ... I don't think.

I have two in mind; one is a vintage project I'd like to make for Christmas: an old Edna Looney kit that will make a long, skinny Santa banner. It's felt and feathers and sequins -- very old fashioned, but fun and festive in a "holidazzle" way. It shouldn't take too long to stitch, but I don't feel like starting it quite yet. I'll pick it up in November to get in the holiday mood.

The other is another big kit purchased ... maybe the same summer as Swans? Or maybe some other time. But it's been moving around with me for years.

It's another Beth Russell kit of a William Morris design -- more acanthus leaves! It's big -- 17"x20" stitched. And there's a lot of wool:

I lay the canvas and wool (and different wool tidy bag -- this doesn't have handles and has a different pattern) out on an ottoman normally inhabited by one of my cats... unsurprisingly he jumped up to investigate almost immediately:

Why, yes, Bub *is* a helper!
How long have I had this kit? Not sure... but I can tell you that I bought it at the Liberty store in London (oh, that store!) for £79... which seemed like a lot of money at the time.

And the same kit is still offered by Beth Russell, now for £130.

I sorted the wool and put the canvas on a frame -- two things I find tedious -- so it will be ready for me to start when I am back from Japan.

In the meantime, check out what my fellow stitchers are working on. You're sure to be inspired to pick up a needle yourself when you see their wonderful range of projects.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary MargaretRenee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, and Sharon.

See you on September 22nd for our next check-in!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Japanese Stitch-a-Long, part 1

Hi everyone! How has it been another three weeks already??? After wrapping up the Swans last time (hooray!!!), I decided to work on a small project to get me in the mood for my upcoming trip to Japan. At just 54x54, this maneki-neko design fit the bill perfectly:

And, somehow, I got it done in three weeks.

Sadly, no, that's not bad lighting -- in the mediocre lighting I was stitching in one night, I grabbed THE WRONG COLOR FLOSS for the bottom half of the "WELCOME" text. I suppose the good news is that I never liked the text -- after all, the cat is really beckoning (maneki means "beckoning"), not necessarily welcoming or greeting. So I'm going to salvage the piece by eventually just turning this into a rectangle and cropping off the text. But first I need to figure out where I'm going to use it! (Next year I have an idea for a project to go through my completed pieces and figure out something to do with at least some of them!)

Now, for my next project ... I was going to work on an orphaned kit I picked up at a thrift store, but instead decided to open up a sashiko kit I bought earlier in the year. I've never done sashiko before, though I have always thought it looked great, and I wanted to try out the craft in case I need to pick up additional supplies on my trip!

I opened up the kit last night, and I'm happy to report that some of the instructions are indeed in English! This kit doesn't contain much of the "traditional" patterning, except the interlocking circles at the bottom.

As such, I don't know that I'm really doing "sashiko" -- which means "little stabs" -- because with the curved lines on the cherry blossoms I have to keep turning the fabric. And while I clearly need to work on making my stitch length more consistent.

More to come on this!

I love this stitch-a-long -- it's a lovely mix of motivation and inspiration! If you fancy joining in, visit Avis's blog (first on the list below) for more info. And if you just want to look and feel inspired by a wonderful range of projects, check out what my fellow stitchers are working on!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary MargaretRenee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, and Sharon.

See you on September 1st for our next check-in!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Adventure 19/50 : Destination Moon

I have been looking forward to visiting the Museum of Flight this summer to see the "Destination Moon" exhibit. I like an anniversary more than most, and have realized that I kinda dig space, and our exploration of it. It makes sense -- I like nature *and* the built environment, so why not? 

Last Saturday -- on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we sat outside in the garden and watched the grainy footage, including the footage aired by ABC television that night. (Seriously, if you haven't watched their little model land on the moon -- an "ABC SIMULATION" they used as filler when they didn't have pictures -- it's pretty great. Except when the "booster rockets" look as if they've started to set the "lander" on fire...) Oh, and we ate "MOON ROCKS" chocolate and "Marshmallow Moon" Oreos, of course...

Seriously, how cute are these Oreos?

But of course, the stars of the show were Neil and Buzz, ON THE MOON. 

So this Saturday we went to the Museum of Flight -- a great museum at any time, but currently home to... THE COMMAND MODULE!

We were surprised, when we visited the DC back in the spring, how much of the Air and Space Museum was closed... and we kept thinking -- BUT THE MOON LANDING ANNIVERSARY!

I'm imagining discussions five years ago in the Smithsonian headquarters. 
"Okay, we need to completely renovate the Air and Space Museum... we've got funding, so let's get it planned out. How about from 2018 - 2025?" 
A tiny voice will speak up, "But... but... we can't close the 'Apollo to the Moon' gallery! The 50th anniversary is approaching!!!" 
Much grumbling will ensue... then "Well, we can keep our model of the lunar lander.... let's just send the command module to storage?" 
"FINE. How about that museum in the wild west -- the one that didn't get one of the decommissioned Space Shuttles?"
"Yeah -- that's a good idea -- they'll take it!"

Well their (temporary) loss is our (temporary) gain... and the Destination Moon exhibit was really fun to visit. We got timed-entry tickets for 10:20a.m., arriving by bus at 10:15 and rushing in. The fact that we entered from the street side, rather than the parking lot side, worked in our favor -- we couldn't see any signage that said which way to go for people with pre-purchased tickets, so went to the information counter, where a Very Nice Lady said, "Oh, we'll just print them here for you." Her young coworker said, "But they're supposed to go to the line..." and I said, "Oh, we just couldn't tell where to go with our pre-purchased tickets..." and the Very Nice Lady said, "We're going to take care of them HERE" very firmly, and that was that. 

We got our wristbands and tickets and went straight to the entrance for Destination Moon. There was a little "holding area" with a few pieces -- glassware and toys produced in honor of the Apollo 11 mission, for example -- and a very short line, and then we were in. 

And then it was weirdly crowded... I supposed that the people who, like me, had purchased the first-time-slot tickets were VERY KEEN... and everyone was lined up, reading EVERYTHING. The first section was themed "Washington Goes to Space" and had displays on the Seattle World's Fair, a model of a lunar rover, and a pretty cool Gemini XI flight suit. But it was absolutely rammed and people weren't moving. So we decided to quickly move on to the next area. 

The "The Space Race is On" area was a little less crowded, and I admired this beauty:

Sputnik I and II, launched 4 October and 3 November 1957, respectively. 

Around the corner, in the "Gaining Experience" area, was a SK-1 Vostok Space Suit -- which was developed especially for Yuri Gagarin. Apparently SK stands for "Skafandr Kosmicheskly", literally "diving suit for space". I was so distracted by Public Service Broadcasting's "Gagarin" song looping around in my head, I failed to take a picture of the orange jumpsuit. So instead, I offer up this video from PSBHQ:

I continued on, admiring the handsome Mission Control console -- again, not enough to photograph it, apparently. It was at this point that I lost Wil temporarily, but moved on and browsed the sweet Neil Armstrong artifacts, including a lovely little photo of him strumming a ukulele in the quarantine facility after returning to earth:

And this display of the "Short-Fat Flight Suit" -- so named because the legs were too short and the waist was too big. I loved reading that, after retiring, Neil and his family liked to wear this as a coverall when they were working the family farm in Ohio. 

I was admiring a mockup of a living room, circa 1969, and admiring some sweet glassware (seriously I have no need for more glassware, buuuut...):

when Wil came rushing up to me to say "THERE'S NO ONE AT THE COMMAND MODULE!!!" 

So off we scurried and were indeed surprised to find no one looking at the command module. The Apollo 11 command module. 

They had a looping video above of the command module coming back to earth and splash landing in the ocean. 

Every time I see those red-and-white striped parachutes I think of this:

yes, I know this is a Gemini capsule... and from 1966... but still
Quality time spent with the command module, I went back and looked at the things I missed, including the big recovered chunks of the F-1 engines from Apollo 12 and 16. But I was more interested in the artifacts that had been flown on the Apollo 11 mission, including Buzz's visor and gloves:

and this amazing "survival backpack", one of two (with different inventories) carried on board in case the astronauts crash landed in an inhospitable place:

This backpack had sunglasses (so cool!), sunscreen, a water purifying kit, and a machete, among other items. 

I also loved this pair of artifacts from Apollo 12 -- a photograph of a moon rock before being collected:

and the rock itself:

Some more obligatory hamming it up for the camera:

and then we made the usual lingering exit through the gift shop, where we somehow managed to avoid buying this jacket:

Obviously, had it been black or even a dark charcoal, we would have bought it... but if you want to buy it, it looks like it's also available from Red Canoe's own website.

We spent another couple of hours looking at the museum's collection of flying things, poked around the old Red Barn (love that they pump in woody smells and creaky machinery sounds!), and admired the WWI and WWII exhibits in the Personal Courage Wing -- where I saw my first Spitfire in person. 

Then we headed back across the bridge, had a quick look on the Space Shuttle Fuselage Trainer (sigh), and then the aviation pavilion, where I again wished I had had a chance to fly Concord. (Side note: the woman behind us as we walked through the Concord was grousing that it all seemed "a little snug" and "doesn't seem very luxurious" ... MADAME, YOU COULD FLY FROM NEW YORK TO LONDON IN UNDER THREE HOURS. That's the luxury!!!!! Oh, and you could drink champagne...) We also walked through the big 747 and marveled at how massive they really are. Also, realizing that they entered commercial service in 1970 somehow means that 1969 to the moon seems less surprising, somehow...

Through our entire visit -- but especially in the Destination Moon exhibit -- I was both charmed and amazed by how knowledgable other visitors were. I mean, I feel like I get obsessive and really interested, but these people were REVERENT. It was lovely.