Sunday, January 13, 2019

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 6

Hi everyone! Happy new year and all that! It's time for the first stitch-a-long check-in of 2019!

I've been slowly making progress on my swan needlepoint. I've now filled in the outer background of the bottom half.  

I used a simple texture pattern and I really like how it came out.

I also did more on the central background, and stitched most of the "feather edging" on the left swan.

And... drumroll please... I rolled the piece on the frame so I could work on the top part. Or higher up, anyway.

Remember our grumpy friend, right swan?

Next steps are to finish the feather outlining on left swan, then stitching the eye and beak to match right swan. And then doing the outlining and stitching of the upper leaves -- including the ones swirling around the outer edge. My goal for the next three weeks would be to do as much outlining and stitching of the leaves to be able to roll the piece again so I could finish them up. But we'll see.

It's a new year, so we've had two new members join the stitch-a-long, and an old friend return. Visit their blogs to see what they're all up to! If you're interested in joining and getting some serious support and inspiration for your projects, visit Avis's blog for all the details.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Megan, CatherineDeborah, Connie, and Clare... and welcome back Mary Margaret, and welcome to Renee, Jenny.

Our next update will be Sunday, February 3 -- let's get stitching!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

52 week drawing challenge wrap-up

One of my 101 in 1001 Goals was to complete a "52 Weeks of Drawing" challenge. I had found a super cute graphic created by The Paper Mama back in 2014 (??? the Internet *is* forever!):

I printed it out and pasted it into my sketchbook. And every Sunday -- well, okay, most Sundays, but I always made up for it! -- I spent 15 minutes or so sketching.

Now, I'm not going to call myself an artist just yet, but I do think my sketching has improved, at least a little. Besides, I enjoyed the physical act of drawing every week, and in the end I produced 52 drawings. Here are a few of my favorites:

1/21: Plant -- the cat tree in the front window, complete with cat.

3/5 (really drawn on 3/4, for some reason): Favorite Book - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

4/15: 2 - my feet.

7/29: Crafty - a cross stitch project I was working on for my Mom's birthday

8/19: Sky - a view from the Adirondack chairs at the side of the house.

10/21: Comic Strip - recounting our adventures getting to the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon.

11/4: Sweet Treat - a couple of sketches of pears.

12/9: Toy -- a plastic "solar dancer" that makes me smile just looking at it.

12/30: Your Choice -- a view from the couch at the cabin, looking out at the small barn.

I enjoyed this project so much -- and the ritual of sitting down and sketching for 15 minutes at a time -- that I found a nice set of drawing prompts on the Mona Lisa Lives Here blog … for a DAILY drawing project.

So far I am 10/10 on sketches, and I really enjoy it. I know there will come a day when I just don't get to it, but for now, it's really fun. You can download your own list of 365 drawing prompts from the Mona Lisa Lives Here blog if you fancy joining in!

Completing the 2018 challenge means I have completed 18 things on my "101 things in 1001 days" list -- with several more in progress. So it looks as if I'm way behind, but I'm only a little behind...

I'll share more of my sketch-a-day images later in the year ... and hopefully my drawing will continue to improve!

Friday, January 4, 2019

January OMG : Starting the 2019 Temperature Project

Hi everyone! I have (reluctantly) returned to the real world after our New Year's / Birthday break and, no surprise, feel like I am somehow way behind on this "kicking off 2019" thing. However, though it feels like December 31 was a loooong time ago, I realize today is only January 4 and there's time to get going. *IF* I set it as my One Monthly Goal!!!

In 2017 I made a temperature afghan. I loved the process of picking out the yarn -- in my project, a  monochromatic "Fifteen Shades of Grey" -- and I loved tracking the temperatures and watching the colors shift over the course of the year. Who cares if it ended up nearly 10 feet long; it's warm and cozy and really nice on our big bed.

But I knew I didn't need another massive afghan, so wanted to find another project to do. I thought about some sort of cross stitch project, or even a pillow top. But nothing really felt right. Then I remembered this lovely old thing in my basement:

note Kiki in the background...

When I was growing up we had two of these; one with a burgundy cushion and this one with a green cushion. I don't know what happened to the other one, but I insisted that I had to have it, and often thought of stitching a needlepoint piece and recovering the sadly ripped leather cushion. But then it just languished in my basement, an odd UFO.

I decided that, somehow, I would chart out a simple pattern and spend 2019 tracking the temperature in needlepoint. This was easier said than done -- it's HARD to chart out 365 spaces, darn it! Lots of sketches, tests, and recounts. Oh, and of course it's not a true rectangle, and there are those cutouts to contend with!

But finally, with some fudging and some shifting, a 365-space grid was sketched on an old piece of needlepoint canvas:

The center piece will include the year and a very simple border, and then the background of it will be whatever color corresponds with the temperature. But what color would that be, I hear you ask!

I wanted something with a little color, but I'm not super into rainbows. I recently crocheted a scarf from Mandala yarn that was in a muted rainbow, so I used that as my inspiration and spent a lot of time trying to choose colors of DMC tapestry wool... without being able to see any of them in person. That said, when they all arrived, I was really happy with the range -- everything is a bit muted or, as DMC calls it, "Drab".

Of course, one can't predict the temperatures for the coming year, but I made some guesses and ordered between 2 and 7 skeins of each color. The nice thing about this project is if I need to wait to restock a color, I can keep working on other days, unlike with my temperature afghan!

My One Monthly Goal for January is to really get going on this -- get the canvas in a frame and get stitching. Oh, and to decide what to call this project. Temperature Needlepoint? Temperature Tapestry? Temperature Topper???

This link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts, you can check out all the monthly projects on the January Link-up Page.

Oh, and here's a gratuitous photo of one of my adorable cats...

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The big reveal - December OMG complete!

It's after Christmas, so I can FINALLY reveal the "semi-secret project" I've been working on for a few months. I'm thrilled to say that the JOY projects were well received by Mums on both sides of the Atlantic, too.

The finished pieces are 12" in diameter, stitched on "Christmas Red" linen and mounted in wooden hoops I painted white. I finished the back with blanket-stitched felt, which turned out reasonably tidy.

There were no half stitches, but there were some unique stitches that added interest to the project:

And as with a lot of designs, the backstitching and beads really made the piece sparkle!

I'm so pleased with how they turned out ... but also pleased to be able to refocus on my big stitching project.

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts; you can see all the monthly projects on the December Link-up Page.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 5

Hi everyone! It's time for another stitch-a-long check in. I love this stitch-a-long; we all get to work on our own projects at our own pace, then cheer each other on every three weeks! If you fancy joining us, Avis is the person to contact. 

Here's where I was last time...

And here's where I am now:

I've finished stitching the lower part of the center leaves and filled in two parts in the center background. I still haven't sat down and finished the feather outlining on the left-hand swan; that's my #1 task in the next three weeks. After all the counting and staring on my other Super Secret Project (reveal to come soon!), just filling in the background and the leaves was quite a relief!

lots of lovely background fill!
So stitching the rest of the feather outlines is my goal over the next stretch -- lots to do here as for some reason this takes me a long time ... but when it's done, it will make the swan stitching easier!

Remember the really uneven scallop shapes in the bottom banner? 

(I mean, really, that far left scallop is a half, and in the middle there's a great big one!!!)

The piece is 222 stitches wide, so I also plan to chart out the replacement pattern. But I don't think I'll stitch it until the main pattern is done. 

My fellow stitchers are all working on amazing projects -- I love seeing them all taking shape! Click over to their blogs and have a look for yourself!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, MeganCatherineDeborah,  Connie, and Clare.

Our next update will be Sunday, January 13 -- till then, wishing you a very merry Christmas and a magical 2019!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mind = Blown

Saw this today and am still feeling slightly stunned by it:

I still can't believe this works ... and it's fiddly with multiple strands of floss ... but... who knew there was a better way to thread a needle???

Hats off to Good for bringing it to my attention!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday Finish : the T-O-R-E-N banner

Ever since our little neighbor Toren was born, I had been playing around with the idea of making a banner of nautical flags spelling out his name, since his parents are boaty people.

I did a little research into which flags represented which letters, sketched out the dimensions on paper, and bought some felt. I did, however, struggle with one thing ...


I mean, if this flag was the T:

and you were hanging it horizontally... would it actually look like this?

So I referred to West Marine -- a nautical supply store with locations nearby and a well-designed, very user-friendly website. Here's their image for the T flag:

I decided that that teeny strip of white on the left edge meant that's where the "hanger" is. 

I also discovered that the flags don't have to be square -- that if you wanted them as rectangles, you just stretched the design. 

Thus reassured, I got to work, and finished the flags the day before the birthday party. One final thing -- and to be honest I'm not sure I was right.

Does this banner read T-O-R-E-N (which, if you read the flags from left to right, it does...), or, if the string of flags was hanging from, say, a mast, would it read N-E-R-O-T? #askingforafriend

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 4

Hi everyone! I'll just come straight out with it -- I haven't done much stitching on the Swans project these last three weeks. It's been pretty crazy, including our holiday in Beijing (so great! travelog posts to come!!!), the Thanksgiving holiday here (and, as an e-commerce manager, the Black Friday / Cyber Monday madness around it), and spending most of my stitching time working on my Super Secret Project ... with a December 24th deadline...

However, some progress *has* been made, and I am pretty happy with it!

I finished the last big of edging of the lower leaves, and have filled in a lot of the satin stitch on them. I also decided to do one little bit of the light blue background just for a break. That's the nice mindless stuff that I think I'll work on a bit more in this next three weeks. 

Here's something odd I noticed: in the bottom banner, the scallop shapes are really weirdly uneven. That is going to drive me crazy in a finished pillow... so when the time comes to stitch the edges, I think I'll just chart out something similar... but EVEN. 

I am sure that the next three weeks will result in little progress... but one stitch at a time, eh?

My fellow stitchers, I am sure, have been much more productive, and I look forward to seeing all the amazing work they're doing -- click over to their blogs and have a look for yourself!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Tony, MeganCatherineDeborah,  Connie, and Clare.

Our next update will be Sunday, December 23 -- can you believe how fast the year has gone by?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December OMG : the semi-secret project is in the home stretch!

It's December, so it's time for another OMG! November wrapped up very well -- though I didn't achieve my goal of all the double-strand stitching, I did manage to get 75% of it done, and really feel like I have turned a corner. And I PROMISE that at the end of December I'll be able to share what the project really looked like!!!

For December my goal is to finish the stitching *and* actually finish making up the piece. So there's some double-strand stitching to do, a bit of single-strand stitching, and (gulp!) the beading. But I can do this -- I've got 24 days, and no odd travel plans. So here we go!

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts; you can see all the monthly projects on the December Link-up Page.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Swan Stitch-a-Long, part 3

Hi everyone! It's been a busy three weeks -- sometimes I really think it can't possibly be three weeks since the last check-in, so I go back and look... yep. Three.

I did get some key stitching done, but it still feels very empty... I stitched the "ground" sections:

I've done most of the outlining on the central leaves:

And done some of the feather outlining on the left swan:

Next steps: finish the feather outlining. Fill in the leaves. Start filling in the pale blue background. Just keep moving forward!

At the risk of sounding WAY more jet-set than we really are, I'm writing this post a bit early as we'll be en route to China for a week's holiday on November 11. So apologies if I'm missing any last-minute changes!

When we return home, I look forward to seeing all the amazing work my fellow stitchers are doing -- but you should take a peek now!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Hayley, Tony, MeganCatherineDeborah,  Connie, and Clare.