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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Acquainted With the Night (this post is long!!!)

When I was a kid, I loved to read.  Still do, but back then I wanted to read everything, and now I'm sort of set in my reading tastes and don't venture beyond too often.  Kind of sad.  Anyway, my Da is a big-time reader, too, and he used to spend hours reading Louis L'amour westerns.  He wouldn't let me read them until I was twelve, which just made me more desperate to get my hands on them, haha!  They are very 'clean' as far as westerns go - no actual sex, but plenty of violence.  Not as graphic as most, but it's there.

But - the romance of those books!  And I don't mean the love story, even though there is plenty of that! (They're like romance books for men, I swear!)  The believable hero, an ordinary man doing extraordinary things - the family bonds - the beautifully described, sweeping scenery - the musical, poetic rhythm to the way that man wrote... eh, I was ruined.  Totally wanted to marry a cowboy.

Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites, 'Bendigo Shafter', from the first chapter, when the wagons going west stopped to build a town :

My father had been a Bible-reading man and named his sons from the Book.  Four of our brothers had gone the way of flesh, and of the boys only we two remained.  Cain, a wedded man with two children, and I, Bendigo Shafter, eighteen and a man with hands to work.

Our sister was with us.  Lorna was a pretty sixteen, named for a cousin in Wales.

'You will build for the Widow Maken', Cain said to me.  'Her Bud is a man for his twelve years, but young for the lifting of logs and the notching.'

So I went up the hill through the frost of the morning, pausing when I reached the bench where their cabin would stand.  A fair place it was, with a cold spring spilling its water down to the meadow where our oxen and horses grazed upon the brown grass of autumn.  Tall pines, sentinel straight, made a park of the bench, and upon the steep slope behind there was a good stand of timber.  The view from the bench was a fine one, and I stood to look upon it, filling myself with the quiet morning and the beauty of the long valley below the Beaver Rim.

'You have an eye for beauty, Mr. Shafter,' Ruth Macken said to me, and I kept my eyes from her, feeling the flush and the heat climbing my neck as it forever did with a pretty woman spoke to me.  It is a good thing in a man.

'It works a magic,' I said, 'to look upon distance.'



So about two weeks ago, I was cruising along on eBay, and saw a kit I had never seen before.  Nearly fell off my chair.  It was an elderly kit, and only one other person bid on it.  Even with shipping, I got it for less than $5.



I love it.  It is supposedly for my Da's Christmas prezzie but... but this may be the first thing I ever stitch twice.  I love it.  It's my old Louis L'amour daydreams come to life again.

I am less in love with the reality of the kit itself.

I realized it said 8 x 24, but I didn't really think about that until I had the fabric out.  That's not a small project, lol!!!  And no fault of the seller, because it had never been opened, but there was a small brown spot on the fabric.  So I washed it, and it lightened.  So I washed it again - no scrubbing, just a good soak in soapy water.  When I went to iron it, I could barely see the spot - but it turned out it wasn't so much a spot as a flaw - the threads broke.

I panicked, like a twit - even started sewing it together before I smacked myself and went to get a big 30 x 36 piece of white Aida out and cut myself a new piece.  I'll cut up the old one for smaller projects - it's fine beyond that one flaw.

When I measured it out, I found that it was only big enough to give me one inch all the way around, anyway - so I cut a much bigger piece with healthy margins.

Then I really looked at the chart and thought, 'Um - that's tiny.'  Really tiny - the whole long thing is on a two-page folded sheet.  I took it to work and enlarged it 200% to get it normal sized.  Then I realized that this kit is so old that the chart is hand-drawn (ugh, so hard to read the symbols!) and has no grid lines.  So I'm drawing those on as I go.  I'm spoiled to grid lines XD

Then this:



That's the floss.  There is a color/symbol list, with no instructions of how to sort the floss beyond 'sort the floss'.  No number of strands.  Just take your best shot, I guess.  It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't mostly shades of blue, grey, and blue-grey.  It's not always easy to tell which they mean to be Lt Blue and which is Lt Blue Grey.

They did have DMC floss numbers listed, with a note that they did not use DMC floss but these were close matches.  So I got my floss card out.



About three colors actually matched the numbers.  It was almost no help.  Also, there were two bundles of floss - each had the exact same colors in the exact same number of strands.  There is a total of three (3) stitches of red in this pattern, yet I got two strands of red floss.  I'm thinking that they maybe accidentally put two floss bundles in the kit.  This I do not mind, but it didn't help with the sorting.

It's way too late to make this long story short, but I persevered, had a bit of a ponder on how the new way kits are done has me totally spoiled rotten (sorted floss!  patterns with grid lines!  perfectly printed symbols!) and then I got down to business.




And I'm right back in love.

That's my five days of progress.   Not too bad, I guess.  That one row of blue at the bottom has reached where the horse's leg will be.  I figured it up at about 17% done, then realized I wasn't counting the horse's shadow (it's all solid stitching, there is no half-stitch in this kit)  and cut it down to 15% done.   So yay, anyway.  But this one is going to need to be worked on once a month, like Unspoken.  But that's as far as I'm limiting myself on projects - I refuse to let anything else get put on the must-work-on list.

So next - maybe my Snappers?  I haven't decided.

Oh, and here's a bit of progress on my 'purse' kits - I finished the blue bunny and started the next - he's green.



And I got two colors done on 'Great Light'.  Actually, three colors, but I forgot to take a picture of the last one.

Gold:



And about ten stitches of Dark Taupe:



And I've done the Darkest Green but I'll have a pic of that later.  Two colors and the backstitching to go on this one.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gracie, As I Now Leave Her

Here she was:


And here she is:



It took me a little while to get back in to the swing of working on evenweave.  It's been a lot longer than I thought since I worked on 32 count.  I had a sort-of goal to get the biggest white section of her underskirt done and I did it :D  I also finished out the bit of her wing on that side except for the grey spots - I forgot to go back and do those.  The gap is for the ribbon.  Next time I get her out, I want to finish off that side of her ribbon and then either get the other big white section of skirt done or finish off the top gold-green layer of her dress.

But I don't know when that will be.  Not too far off, I want to say, but then I want to get back to everything I've worked on since I started this rotation XD

Next up - I tossed out the idea of finishing two before I started a new project.  I got a kit in the mail and I'm gonna start it tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In Case You Want Them, Here's the Bunnies

I found the link :D

The blog is in French, the pattern link is the second line below the picture.

HERE


Monday, June 22, 2015

IHSW - Angels and Rabbits

I worked on two projects during IHSW - I chose my Lavender and Lace 'Angel of Grace' to work on next in my rotation and I absolutely will not take her to work with me.  I'm terrified of getting her dirty.  Since I work all weekend, I made sure to take something else along.

Here's a picture of the Angel of Grace (I call her Gracie) as she will look when she's finished:




And the most recent picture I could find of her - which is not very recent.  I don't think I've picked her up since early last year. 



So here's how she is now - still in the Q-snap because I'll be working on her until whatever time I put my stitching away on the 24th.



I got more of that big white piece done, some ribbon and some of the pale pink beside the white.

The project I took to work was my bunnies,  These were a Crazy January start in 2013 or 2014.  They got very little love at the time.

How they will look - sorta, I'm doing the pink and the blue, and then I'm going to do some words and a green one.  (These are a free pattern from Hazel's Farm - I can't find the link.)



So here's the picture I took way back when I started them:



And how they look now:



Lest you think I spent all my time at work stitching, I did have a little more of the pink bunny already done. :D  These will continue to come to work with me; I want to finish them up so I can try and make them into a cushion.  They will be a gift for my Mum, with a story behind it which I'll tell when they're done.  I'm going to try - dunno if it will last long - to finish two things before starting a new one... but I got four projects I want to start so we'll just see how that goes!

Hope you all had a great stitchy weekend!  I'm off to check out some blogs :D :D :D






Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Picked Unspoken

I want to work on Unspoken at least once a month, so I have updates for the SAL 'A New Stitchy Start'.  So when the 15th rolled around, I picked him up that evening.

Here's where I was:


Almost done with the second column of stitches.  That's my progress since January the First.

So, I polished that second column off:



Then - brace yourselves - I did the third column!



Then - last night, I polished off the fourth column O_O



Then I had to go to bed.  I think I was twitching a little.  That's a half page finished, there.  From me.  Who only managed a column and a half and a little across the top in five months.  I don't know what has possessed my needle to speed me up this much.

Hope it lasts.

Part of it was only working with four colors, but I don't care.  Bwah ha ha ha ha!

Anyway, this weekend is IHSW and I think I know what I'm going to stitch.  It won't be Lovers, not yet.  I can't take two HAEDs in a row!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sprite Finishes, and My Rotation Info

First off, all Sprite patterns are from the Dork Stitch blog!  http://dorkstitch.blogspot.com

I stitched Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier:


I really love his blue eyes!

Then I got out my Sprite fabric piece, which looked like this:



(All of them will eventually be cut apart - they won't be staying on the same piece.)

I finished up the two versions of Yuffie, from Final Fantasy VII:



And Quistis, from Final Fantasy VIII:



And Batman (I did his eyes in white satin floss):



So now my piece looks like this:


I started Robin, but the absolute mess of the box I keep my Sprite supplies in finally got to me and I spent the rest of the evening winding bobbins and barely made a dent.  When I get it done, I'll show a before and after pic of it.

I had a few questions about my rotation, and I think I've got it worked out.  It's pretty simple.

1.  I switch projects every five days - on the 5th, the 10th, the 15th, the 20th, the 25th, and the 30th.  If the month has 31 days, that project just gets an extra day.  I'll deal with February when it rolls around, if I'm still stitching this way.  I did it like this to make it easier to remember - if it's a '5' day, it's time to swap.

2. I work on the project the whole five days - if I reach a 'milestone', I just take a picture and keep going.  If I get bored and don't work on it, I'm not allowing myself to switch.  It just gets what it gets, and is a good sign to put that project away for a little while.  Hopefully not for years XD

3. If I finish it (like Fred)  I'll either work on something small, or work on another bigger project, but I have to switch on the 5th day, as usual - no extra days.

4. I can work on whatever I like -  no list of 'must-stitch' projects unless one is an SAL that I still like.  For example, Unspoken is still going to get worked on every month, and maybe Lovers.  The only thing I can't do is stitch the same project twice in a row.  That makes me eager to get back to one I was enjoying.  (For example, no 'Princess Palace', 'Wufei', 'Wufei again', but I could go 'Princess Palace', 'Wufei', 'Unspoken', 'Wufei', if that's what I want to do.)

5. I can keep a couple of small projects in my purse or bag, to work on when I'm not at home, as long as they don't turn in to focus projects.  They have to stay in my bag when I'm at home stitching.

I think that's it - the only other thing is that I dropped any attempt to watch TV while stitching - if I want to watch TV, I crochet.  I just wasn't getting any cross stitch done that way.  I'd sit there for half an hour with the needle in my hand and not do a single stitch.  I'm watching/listening to flosstube videos instead, or radio plays, and I'm going to try listening to audio books.  Listening to music didn't work, and not listening to anything, just focusing on my stitching, didn't work, either.  Both of them made me get bored and put my stitching down.

So that's that.  Easy-peasy, and it's working out great so far :D :D :D

I'm off to pick my next project!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Frederick the Literate

Definitely sticking with this rotation...

I.

Finished.

Fred!!!

Granted, he really didn't have that much further to go, but still!

Here he is in all his kitty-glory :D


The metallics were the worst, and they barely even show in the picture - there are rows and rows of metallic backstitching on those red books.  I only left it off in one place, on the big green book behind his bum on the top shelf.  I hated the way it looked on the kit picture and it wasn't any better in real life, so it's not there.

Anyway, here's his wee face, finally with some whiskers.


Picture's a bit dark, sorry!  I didn't do the best job on couching his whiskers, but they're not too bad.  At least he has them!  Poor Fred has been a UFO for years, got taken out a few times, and then ended up right back in my UFO pile.  But he's done now, and he's lovely!

Frederick the Literate is a Dimensions kit, if anyone is interested in stitching him themselves, and he's not hard at all.  I'm just lazy XD

I was supposed to work on whatever project was in this spot of my rotation until the 14th, and start working on another on the 15th.  I finished Fred last night, on the 12th, and I decided to just work on some of my Sprites from DorkStitch until the 15th rolls around.  With whatever I shall work on :D



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Have No Clue Why

But it's working!

I'm going to try one more project before I say that this rotation is a success, but - LOOK AT WHAT I DIIIIDDDD!!!




March Snapper Block - done.  In two days.  AND the border around it!

O_O

(By the way - I love that chicken weather vane, but is it just me, or does that hen look a wee bit evil?)

And I didn't stop there - part of my new rotation is not stopping at a stitching 'milestone' like I always have before.

This is where I wrapped up before I went to bed on the ninth:



The little bit of January's border that I hadn't stitched is done, and April's block is started.  One word of two, one of five big raindrops and four of eleven little ones.  So much fun!  There's a big ol' blue umbrella to stitch in this one, and I'm looking forward to it!

So, this one is put away for a little while, and today starts the next project in the new rotation.  I have no idea what it's going to be yet.  I'll pick when I get home from work!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hmm...

I had a new idea for my rotation, and it seems to be working.  Let me get it all straight (and keep testing it) and I'll explain what it is.

I have put 'Smell the Coffee' away for now - it's staying in the rotation! - but I got it this far before I did:



Pardon the weird big shadow!  The little rooster is done, he just needs his backstitching, and the first two rows of the left border are done - I have reached where the bottom square starts.  The blue block with a chunk missing has part of a sun-ray sticking through it.  This stitching is all the result of sitting in front of the computer and watching those addictive, addictive flosstube videos.  Or, mostly listening to them, and looking up when someone says 'and this is what it looks like'.  LOL!!!

So next in my latest try at a working rotation, I got my Bent Creek Snappers out and just finished February right off, no problem, two evenings of spare time while I watched videos.  Please pardon the hoop marks.



This one is still being worked on and I can't believe how fast it's going, when it's extremely slow me stitching it!!!   Tomorrow is the last day of its turn and I'll show you my amazing (for me) progress on the March block. :D :D :D