Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 32

It's almost Thanksgiving, and I'm busy getting the house ready for last-minute houseguests. But I did stitch Gay Ann today--the little trees are finished! So now it's just the bottom bands and the lettering. I'll be finished by November 30, right on schedule.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 31--setting goals

Today was a day to map out my stitching goals for the rest of the year. I've got more stitching 'in motion' than just my Gay Ann project that I want to finish before the end of the year, so I needed to get myself organized. Otherwise it's easy to get sidetracked and let other people set your goals for you. Here are my goals for the end of 2009:

1. finish Merry Kitty Christmas heart
2. finish Caribbean Bird heart (German Marquoir Group)
3. stitch charity heart for Elke (German Marquoir Group)
4. finish Sampler Bonheur (Brodyzen)
5. finish LHN Unicef ornament
6. start and finish Merry Christmas Heart
7. assemble Sr. Dulce's ornament
8. begin Prairie Schooler ABC letter 'A'
9. finish Zentangle (German Marquoir Group)

Several of these projects are already underway, and are fairly close to being finished (Merry Kitty Christmas, Caribbean Bird heart) but some still need quite a bit of stitching in order to finish them on schedule (Sampler Bonheur, LHN Unicef ornament) and a few haven't even been started (charity heart, Merry Christmas heart)!

I'd better get busy stitching!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 30

nothing to show today. did some stitching, but it was on a Christmas present for my sister-in-law, not on a Gay Ann project.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 29

No stitching today. I've been running like mad--work, the funeral of a dear friend's mother, picking my DH up when he returned home from his business trip--all I want to do now is to go to sleep!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 28--organization day

Today was a day filled with lots of activity and then the fundraiser for Sister's foundation tonight. I did manage to put a few stitches in on a non-Gay Ann project, so the day wasn't a total bust stitching-wise.

I did get some organization in place. I've made a list of all the sizes of stretcher bars I need for the various Gay Ann charts I have here, and a list of the cuts of congress cloth and other canvases I need for those projects. I don't need to make a supply run just yet, since the next project is already kitted up--Merry Christmas Heart was sold as a kit last year during e-Week.

Santa's going to get a long list of stretcher bars, canvas and congress cloth cuts, and flosses to shop for this year!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 27 and the final goodies arrive!

Today's been spent stitching on a Round Robin--the second of three--that I must mail out this weekend.'s not like the day was without Gay Ann influence, after all, the postman delivered the last of my E-Week orders today!

Cranfield House and the Lovely Pussy Cat Sampler both arrived today. When I opened the package and saw the color photo of Cranfield House, well, what can I say? It's even more beautiful than I thought it would be. And the same goes for Lovely Pussy Cat--who looks so much like the never-ending string of gray tabbies my Dad had at the end of his life, all called Roscoe. He couldn't tell one from the other (due to his poor eyesight) so he never knew that the cat he fed in the morning and the cat he fed at night were two different gray tabbies, and that the one who came in the house and 'visited' every now and again was yet another cat...

Yesterday the postman brought me my 'jeweled' purchases--the dark version of the Malachite and Pearls heart, the Green Sparkle Angel ornament, and the pièce de résistance: Frosted Jewels!

Oh, the jewels on all 3 are so lovely, but the ones for Frosted Jewels are just breathtaking! I'm so glad that I decided to ask Gay Ann if I could possibly add it to my E-Week order. I just know it's going to be a joy to stitch, and that I'm going to love seeing it hanging in my home one day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 26--AWARDS!

For those of you who might be motivated by it, Gay Ann has announced that she'll be awarding certificates to those who complete their Stitch Gay Ann Stash projects as well as those who successfully meet the various challenges she's posting as part of her SNS classroom.

What, you aren't a member of the Silver Needle Society yet? Click on the link for Gay Ann's class room on the sidebar and join now! You don't want to miss out on the fun, do you?

No stitching today. Today was devoted to getting the linen stash in order--and I'm happy to report that the project is finished! Tomorrow will allow for some stitching time in the evening, and I plan to get one of the small trees finished before I put Merry Kitty Christmas away to work on some other stitching.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 25, back on track

I am so happy with today's progress: the second kitty is finished, the hearts have been stitched, and the first tree is starting to take shape.

And I'm on target to finish this project by the end of the month, which is my personal goal. I would like to finish one of my Gay Ann ornaments or hearts every month until I have all of the ones in my current stash stitched.

I've got to decide what to do with the initials. I can always go with the standard AB, using my first and last initials--or I can go with AP, or PA, for Ann and Paul, or Paul and Ann. Or I may not stitch any initials at all, and simply sign the ornament on the back. What do you think?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 24

Another day with no Gay Ann stitching. Most of the day was spent at a retreat (religious, not stitching). But I'm getting caught up on some of my other stitching obligations, so that will give me several hours of free 'Gay Ann Stitch' time on Sunday!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 23

No stitching today--at least, no stitching on my Merry Kitty Christmas Heart. I've got a deadline on another project that I must meet, so it's going to take up my stitching time this weekend.

It's funny, but even with spending several hours stitching today, I missed not working on my Gay Ann project. It almost feels like I didn't do any stitching at all today!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 22

I realized tonight that counting strands on a small project is darn near impossible--it's rare to have enough of a single color or thread type in an area to use an entire strand of thread. So I don't really know where I am on completing this weeks challenge. I do know this--I'm certainly on-track with my goal of finishing this heart this month! At least, I'll have finished the stitching. I've still got to find some instructions about how to 'finish' the heart into an ornament and practice using a few scrap pieces of congress cloth before before getting this one ready to hang on my Christmas tree!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 21--and some help

Only 12 stitches today--it's a good thing DH is heading out of town tomorrow so that I can put in a few strands tomorrow night, isn't it!

Here's a progress pic--I'm still amazed at the difference that only 12 stitches can make in a project.

I had a question from someone who was having trouble getting the outline of the heart basted into place. A friend had mercy and stitched half of the outline, but now she's worried about basting the other half of the outline into place, especially since she's stitched much of the interior of the heart already!

I understand her plight--I must have ripped out the basting 6 or 8 times before I had it right. Ultimately I ended up stitching the left side of the heart first, from the bottom, and then I returned to the bottom to stitch the right side as a mirror image. I used some basting threads (in my case only the center vertically and horizontally) so that I could check myself as I stitched and catch an error before it started. So here's what I would do if I needed to stitch the other side of my outline now:

First, run a long basted thread in the vertical center top to bottom. Then do the same horizontally. After that I would start adding additional horizontal basting lines at about every 3 or 4 stitches (using the stitches on the left side as your guide). Once you've basted the heart completely then I would take a highlighter and mark those basting lines on your chart--the one that also shows the inside placement. (I know that seems odd, but because she's already stitched a great deal of the inside it will help with counting to mark that chart rather than the one with just the heart outline.) Now you have to start counting carefully (using the left side and the stitched motifs as your counting aids) to put each stitch in place, making sure that you match up each time you get to a basting thread. You'll only be putting in 3 or 4 stitches, so if you don't match up when you reach a basting thread you'll only need to remove 3 or 4 stitches to start over.

If it's easier, think about using a slightly deeper color to stitch the outline. I would recommend using a good silk floss for this, as I find it doesn't leave fuzzies when you remove it. (I use Vikki Clayton's silks from Hand-Dyed Fibers for this and haven't had a problem.) First you would go back and overstitch the outline on the left side (so that you can see it) and then you would follow the same steps (as listed above) to stitch the right side.

I really need to learn how to make a video and post it here--this would be much clearer if I could simply show you rather than trying to tell you what I would do!

And check with Gay Ann. It may be that the outline is only there to make a template for the backing. If that's the case, then you won't need to stitch the right side--simply make a template for the left side, turn it over, and create your template for the right side!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 20--12 stitches

Today was one of those I only got 12 stitches done today! Oh, well. Maybe I'll find more time to stitch tomorrow. But even just 12 stitches shows up as progress. Sometimes 'slow and steady' does win the race!

Carla, it's so late that I'm not going to try to do the basting project tonight. I'll do it tomorrow and post photos for you tomorrow evening (Wednesday).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 18--a new challenge

Today Gay Ann sent out the new-and-revised stitching plan for her Silver Needle Society Classroom. In addition to our 12-stitches-a-day now we are to add an additional 5 strands of stitching this week.

Never one to hesitate where my Gay Ann project is concerned, I jumped right in. Here's a photo of my '12-stitches-and-a-strand' progress for today.

One strand down, 4 to go!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 17

Another day of stitching 'a few more' than 12 stitches. Today I think the count was 18, again for the same reason as yesterday. Even with my reduced stitching pace I believe I'll have this one finished by the end of the month. I'd love to finish one of my Gay Ann ornaments every month!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 16

I put in a few extra stitches today because stopping at 12 would have caused me to stop part of the way through the long vertical stretch of stitches--something I hate to do because it makes it so easy to mis-count and mess up the entire outline. I've checked and checked, and so far everything is lining up exactly where it should, so I'm happy. No ripping in sight!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 15

Another 12 stitches...and I think, in retrospect, that I would have liked to have stitched the outline of both cats before I did any of the interior work. It would have made it much easier to check myself and make certain that I didn't have a counting or placement error.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 14

OK, here we go. 12 stitches, and 12 stitches only for the time being...I tell you, it was hard to pack this one away after only 12 stitches...

Day 13.5--we have a face!

It seems that this project is about as addictive as caffeine! Last evening I had some stitching time and what did I pick up? You guessed it!

Now I've got one completely stitched cat--minus the bead, which I'll attach at the end with the other beads.

For the time being I must limit myself to 12 stitches a day on this project so that I don't neglect my other stitching. After all, there are WIPs to finish, and non-Gay Ann stash to stitch!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 13

Today I stitched a bit more than 12 stitches--I was half-way through a strand of perle cotton, so I decided to keep stitching until I finished the strand. I did have to remove and restitch yesterday's work when I noticed that I had the stitches facing in the wrong direction! (What can I say--I started stitching traditional needlepoint as a child so I always think that the stitch runs from bottom left to top right!) Looking at the photo they still look wrong, but I've double and triple checked them and they are now slanting in the correct direction!

Yesterday I wrote to Gay Ann and complimented her on the way she has written her directions--both the thoroughness of the directions and the well-drawn stitch charts. I know that her background isn't that of a technical writer, but it could have been just based on the thoroughness of her directions and her writing style. It certainly makes trying a new stitch or a new technique much less stressful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 12--Here Kitty Kitty...

It worked out that I got some extra stitching time on Sunday, so I continued stitching on my Merry Kitty Christmas Heart. I've finished the tree, except for the beads. I still need to make a run to the store to pick up some beading needles and proper thread to do the beading. I'm guessing I'm likely to just wait and do all the beading at the end. So this is what my kitty ended up looking like when I put him down on Sunday night:

And here's where I am after today's 12 stitches:

For the next week or so I'm afraid that Merry Kitty will be relegated to the status of '12 stitches a day' while I finish up a few other projects.

Gay Ann's instructions have been flawless. I'm not having any trouble understanding what I'm to do, the stitch diagrams have been a great help. I'm very surprised at how quickly this is working up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 11--A Tree Grows in Baton Rouge

I woke up far too early this morning, I'm guessing because of the time change, so I went out to the living room and started the day's stitching.

First out of the bag...of course...Merry Kitty Christmas heart. My tree is now ready for her star, and her beads. According to the directions the beads are the next step. I don't have any beading thread so I may skip ahead to the next step and add all the beads at the end. Before I do that I'll read all the way to the end of the instructions just to make sure I'm not creating a problem for myself later!

I had the most trouble with the tying overstitching, finding the right spot to 'come up' from the back was sometimes difficult. But it looks good to the naked eye, and that's what counts, right?

Here's today's work, step-by-step.

filled in with skipped padded gobelin stitch

with overstitching added

with tying overstitching added

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 10, a Halloween treat!

I just couldn't stop at only 12 stitches, or even one strand! I'm loving the way this is stitching up--it's so much fun!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 9, and the outline is done!

I couldn't stand it any longer--and I thought it would be so quick to finish stitching the outline--WRONG! Lots of re-counting, but now I've got it in place and I'm ready to start seeing some color appear on this canvas tomorrow! And hopefully then my photos will be more interesting!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 8

(another rotated photo--what is going on?)

12 more stitches outlining the heart--ecru pearl cotton really doesn't show up much on the congress cloth. If I didn't have so much other stitching to do I'd race ahead on this part of the project, but the discipline of the 12 stitches is at least giving me time to work on my other stitching!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 7, and a new start

It's hard to see the progress, I know, but there are actually 12 stitches on that canvas--I promise! I've changed my first project to Merry Kitty Christmas Heart and since today (and the next several days) are very busy all I'll be able to do is get 12 stitches into the canvas. But enough days of 12 stitches will result in getting that heart border outlined eventually!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 6, an important lesson

Size does matter. Or rather, it counts.

I've had to abandon my start on the Redwork Cat Sampler. The 28 count fabric I was using just wasn't right for the project. Several of the stitches just wouldn't work, and the floss looked too heavy. Gay Ann actually posted some information about this very subject on her website today and it really helped me to make the decision to abandon this attempt.

I'll have to start over, which requires making a trip to the local needlepoint store to get the proper size stretcher bars and some canvas cloth. And since I'm starting over, I might as well order silk floss and silk perle from Vikki Clayton.

My problem is the congress cloth. I really like the color scheme I was using, but the local store is only going to have congress cloth in white or black. As I see it I've got 3 choices here:

1. change the color scheme
2. learn to paint the canvas myself to change the background color
3. find a good on-line source for colored congress cloth

Any suggestions?

This is an important issue for me, as I not only want a mushroom color canvas ground for the Redwork Cat Sampler (which I am stitching in black) but I also want a moss/sage green canvas ground for the Redwork House Mystery (which I want to stitch in blue) and a yellow canvas ground for the Redwork Friendship Sampler (which I want to stitch in green).

I've decided that this year I'm going to concentrate on my Gay Ann ornaments and hearts. So far I own 10 patterns in this category, many of which are already kitted up. Tonight I dug out my 8x8 bars, an 8x8 square of congress cloth, and the plans and thread pack for Merry Kitty Christmas Heart. I've got to get some masking tape to tape the edges of the canvas and then I'll be ready to start. Maybe I can finish all 10 of these projects this year since none of them are large (or even medium-sized) projects. And still have time for some of my other stitching.

At least, that's the plan (and the goal) right now!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 5

(I don't know why the photo is rotated...but I don't have time to try and fix it.)

Life interfered today and I didn't get to do as much stitching as I had hoped to. I went to a long lunch with some friends, to celebrate the 96th birthday of my friend Mike's mother. A good time was had by all!

I did finish the first pass on my Plaited Stitch Adaptation, and I started the return pass. Even the adaptation is proving difficult, and I'm still wondering if the fabric is going to work after all, or if this is going to end up needed to be a re-start...I think I'll know by the time I finish all of the steps to this band. But I'll certainly work the Redwork House piece on Congress Cloth, and most likely that's what I'll use for the Friendship Sampler, too, when I get around to working on them. I need something with a more open weave.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 4--Adapting the Plaited Stitch

Today I'm working on the first row of Plaited Stitch--step 3B--and I've run into a problem which I believe is related to my decision to stitch my sampler on 28 count evenweave rather than 24 count congress cloth, as the instructions call for. The holes on the evenweave are considerably smaller than the holes on the congress cloth, and the Plaited Stitch calls for me to insert the needle into the same hole several times--and I'm having trouble finding the right hole.

After quite a bit of practice, and rather a great deal of frustration, I have decided to adapt the band somewhat. I've anchored a thread on the right side of the fabric and I'm working the row in two steps. Step one, I'm working all of the bottom-left-to-top-right part of the stitches (the bottom leg), and then I will return and working from the left side of the fabric I'll work all of the bottom-right-to-top-left part of the stitches (the top leg). I'm sure it will give a slightly different look to my row, but I don't find it to be at all noticeable to the naked eye.* And the decision has kept me from becoming so frustrated with the project that I put it away until I could get new fabric and start over. Which, realistically, might not happen for...well...who knows?

It's been a good exercise for me today--and based on today's experiences I may make some changes in my plans for the other redwork pieces in my stash--the Friendship Sampler and the Redwork House Mystery. Originally I thought that I would work them on evenweave also, but now I'm reconsidering that decision, at least until I look at the instructions for those two charts more closely to see if there are any stitches that might not work out on the evenweave.

I'll finish the right-to-left pass before I put this piece of stitching away for the evening. Tomorrow I'll stitch the left-to-right pass to complete the row.

But first, I'm going to go cook dinner for my dear husband!

*Remember-- I'm not stitching this on congress cloth. If you are and you choose to follow this adaptation of the Plaited Stitch your results may vary considerably from mine!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 3--Horizontal Bands Appear!

Today I started stitching on the first of the horizontal bands that really help to make this piece. The first three have been simple--the next one appears to be a bit more challenging. I'm going to practice steps 3B (Plaited Stitch) and 3C (Cross Stitch Variation) on some waste fabric either tonight or tomorrow before I go any further! (You'll notice that I've anchored my strand for step 3B already--I don't want to lose my place.)

This is the last strand of floss from the first length of floss that I cut, so I've used roughly 5 strands (or lengths) of floss so far. You'll also notice that I've cut away some of my basted center channel--I needed to place a stitch into the same spot on the fabric as one of my basting stitches and I didn't want to risk splitting the thread and creating a problem later, so I just cut away a little section of the channel.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 2

Another strand-and-a-half. Still lost count on the vertical band, so I've decided to move to the next part tomorrow and I'll finish up the band as I move down the sampler--less counting that way--and I'll close up the bottom as the very last step in the project.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 1

This is about 2.5 strands of floss (single strands). The hardest thing so far is counting the number of stitches I need to make on the vertical borders--both on the chart and as I make them. I've lost the count of the vertical stitches made so far, so I have stopped working on those rows and started on the upper interior band of the border. I'll get the count back when I start working on the interior vertical band.

I'm going to end up with extra fabric at the bottom, the result of the length of the q-snaps and also the difference in the count of congress cloth (24) and my fabric (28). I'm sure I'll find some use for the extra, but I do wish I had started down a bit further.

I'm very happy with my fabric and fiber choices so far.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Red Cat Sampler is ready to start!

I'm using DMC floss and perle cotton (310) on 28 count mushroom evenweave fabric, all from my stash.