Monday, December 31, 2012

year in review

I don't know about you, but I'm glad 2012 is over.  It's been a really tough year for me and my family and we are hoping for better in 2013. 

Even though I haven't been getting as much stitching as done as I wanted, I have been able to pull 10 quilts off the long arm quilting machine in the past month.  It's finally starting to work more often than not and soon my sister and I (mostly me) will start to learn freehand skills instead of totally relying on digitized files for the quilting.  But the edge to edge designs sure do look pretty.  We spend a small fortune on 100's of Anne Bright designs but every one so far has been worth the price.

As for 2013 it has lots in store.  I'm pretty sure now that I have to have surgery on my sinuses at some point in the next several weeks.  But that's ok because I'm tired of being sick and tired.  So I'm hoping I'll start stitching on the train more.  Night time will be for working on my casket designs - I still have to master Adobe Illustrator but that should be easy once I start to work on it.  I'm ready to start working on my stumpwork - that will happen in the evenings also.  The stitching frames are too big to lug around on the train.  Lot's of quilting in store for 2013 - I have at least 10 more tops to quilt and that many at least that still need to be pieced.  Home improvement starts again in January - more hardwood floors going down in my sewing room and spare bedroom (I'll be half way with all the hardwood in my house!) and working on my sewing room!  Yeah!  I have so many plans for the sewing room.  It will be fun to start to get it all together.

Here are the projects that I have finished in the last couple of months. 

I never got a photo before I gave it away.  :-)  The quilt is called Cheese and Crackers and it's done in thimbleberries fabrics.
 I love my hutch with the quilt on it.  It was the plan all along to use the hutch as a quilt holder. 

 I'm planning on doing little pieces for the back of my front door.  This is the first one.

 My first 12" mini quilt.  I have at least a half dozen in my stash.

 I went though a stage a couple of years ago when I was buying different things.  Doesn't really match my decorating plan but it's still pretty. 

 My favorite so far of what I've quilted the past month.  I'm planning on doing a lot more of this style. 

 A nice a warm flannel!  The pugs love this one.  It was super easy to piece and quilt.

 This is a twister.  An experiment because I wanted to see what all the shouting was about.  I won't be making anymore.  ;-)

 Another really different one for me!  I won't be making any more like this one either!  :-)

 My first penny rug!  This was fun to work on while on the train.  I want to do more. 

And last a baby quilt for my youngest great niece.  Only two years late.  :-)

I have one more that I just pulled off the frame yesterday but it still needs to be bound.  So it's going to be my first 2013 finish - unless I get busy right now!  LOL!

Have a great 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

short update

It's short because it's all the stitching I've done in two months!  I finished up the first of several projects that are being provided with our Casket of Curiosities project. This piece is small, maybe 2 inches by 2 inches and is going to be a pin pillow for my box. The colors are marvelous but I hate the silk fiber that is provided and it's supposed to be the basis of the stitching. I'm almost 100% certain at this point I'm going to try to match these colors to Vikki Clayton silks.  I like to work with hers better and they are so much more affordable.  While I love the color and gloss of the finished project, this is already costing me thousands of dollars and I don't have enough cash to spend more in silk thread.  I'll make do with substitutions. 

I'm way behind on my casket project - Tricia has provided four or five small projects to date and this is only the first one (each one teaches a different skill and lets us try out the products before we spend major funds).  My design progress came to a screeching halt when I decided to convert all the designs that I was interested in to PDF format so I can move them around the casket blanks and recolor to my hearts content.  So I had to go buy a digitizing tablet plus Adobe Illustrator.  Still learning how to do the basics. 

I've also been spending hours and hours in front of my sister's long arm quilting machine.  We have manged to master the basics of the machine and the computer program that controls the quilting and are taking at least two quilts off the frame a week - I even managed two small ones alone last night!  It's her year to provide the family with gifts and she wanted to gift at least 10 and we are almost there.  I've even been able to sneak in a couple small quilts for me and I'll take photos and post them as soon as they are bound and washed.  I'm proud to say that not only am I a piecer, I am a quilter.  :-)  It's great to have total control of the entire process. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Butterfly Pinpad Finis

I finished up my butterfly pinpad over the weekend.  Cute little piece!  It was a needlework nibble from Tricia at Thistle Threads and I enjoyed stitching it and finishing it. 

Have a great week!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Swan Lake finis

I finished up Swan Lake this week - number seven in the Anniversaries of the Heart series from Blackbird Designs.  I'm half way done!  Yeah!

 This is what my Anniversaries of the Heart looks like half way finished. 

I didn't feel like moving onto number eight (Clara Ellen) so I started the first panel of A Petit Sampling Etui. This is actually the second time I have started it - I started back a couple of years ago using Vikki Clayton silks but I didn't like how it was turning out so I frogged it all out and this is the restart. 

This month in my casket class we received the first two projects!  Yeah!  I'm going to get started on the stitching right away so I can keep up with everything.  I started to convert all the patterns into electronic files yesterday.  It will take forever to get everything I want converted but in the long run will work out great. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Halloween tree

Here is this year's Halloween tree.  I finished off all the ornaments that I stitched last year and I hope to still add a couple more this year.  I'm running into the same trouble however as I am for the Christmas cross stitch tree - lack of small ones for the top of the tree.  I'm not feeling like doing any over one right now so I'm only looking for small designs or designs that  I can take an element or two from.  Maybe there will be something in this year's Just Cross Stitch - my copy should be here any day - today even.  :-)

I also finished stitching my needlework nibble on Thursday evening.  I hope to finish it off today.  I'm happy with how my stitching looks.  Yesterday the postman delivered my stumpwork kit from Australia.  I little underwhelmed with what I received for the cost.  But last least now I have examples of the sort of base fabrics I should be using - and now I can go purchase yards of it to practice on.  The kit didn't include anything that I can't purchase at JoAnn's or Michaels.  That was also nice to know.  Just wish I would have tried on my own and saved the $50 bucks.  I could have put it toward a nice needlework slate that I need to buy for my casket embroideries.  Oh well, live and learn. 
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A little pin pillow

Here is my progress on Swam Lake - I can't believe I'm close to finishing this one up!  Yesterday I purchased the Just Cross Stitch Halloween magazine and I'm hoping to get a couple more stitched for my tree this year.  I pulled out the three that never were totally finished from last year (I stitched five I think) and I'm hoping to take care of that in the next couple of days.  My tree is starting to fill out but I need some smaller ones.  Right now everything seems to be the same size.

Thistle Threads came out with a new needlework nibbles a couple of weeks ago and I started on it yesterday.  I need a lot more practice with my non cross stitch type stitching and I figure I need to get going.  So far I'm happy with what I've done.  A couple more hours and this will be ready to turn into a little pin pillow. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

monthly update :-)

I've turned into a once a month blogger!  Not sure how that happened.  Ok I know how it happened, I stopped stitching and started sleeping on the train and watching tv at night.  :-)  I've had a chronic sinus infection now since January and it's really making me worn out.  No matter how much sleep I get I just can't get enough.  I've been on antibiotics for months and months and it's just not working.  Not sure what's next but a trip back to the doctor for the fifth time is in my future.

Here is my progress on Swan Lake from Anniversaries of the Heart.  When I finish this one I'll be more than half way done.  I really need to get going.  I've also been quilting on the weekends but nothing finished to show yet.  But lots in progress so stay posted for that.  My sister and I went to a huge quilt show a couple of weeks ago and I purchased a ton of goodies - mostly miniature quilt kits.  I'm really liking those tiny quilts these days. 

I've started work on designing my casket (above is a first pass at my top piece) - I'm going with the double casket design - more areas to design but actually less to stitch (but more secret drawers!).  I've also decided that I'm going to cover mine with 100% stumpwork.  A tall order for me since I have zero experience with stumpwork and my embroidery skills are rusty.  I've been purchasing every stumpwork and embroidery book I can afford get my hands on and I think I'm ready to start to practice.  I purchased my first stumpwork kit from Jane Nicholas just yesterday.  It's the style of stumpwork that I want to emulate - more modern than the traditional sort.  Since it's coming from Australia I don't expect to receive it until October but that will give me time to finish up Swan Lake.  I've also purchased a Wacom Bamboo Create graphic tablet!  I'm so excited.  I'll be able to trace in all my designs and then edit them at will.  Tricia also provided the fiber colors in computer format so I'll also be able to color and recolor to my hearts content before putting in a single stitch.  This will be so helpful.  It took me hours to trace the above outline and I already need and want to change it.  The sun need its to be way bigger for balance and I've decided to put a sitting dog in place of the running dog.  Plus I need to add a lot more objects to match the style of the original caskets.  So it needs to be totally done over.  Once I get it in a computer file, I'll just swamp out images over and over again until I'm 100% happy with it.  Then I can color it in using the codes provided by Tricia.  This is will very helpful as I work on shading.  There will be a learning curve of course but I'll have plenty of time as I don't expect to start the actual stitching on the casket for many many months.  Maybe even next year or even later.  As part of the class we are being provided five mini projects where we learn the skills needed to execute the caskets.  And I need to take the next class session that deals with stumpwork specifically so it really could be a while.  We have already started on the first project - we traced a design onto linen and learned how to get it on the slate frame - next month we start stitching I think.

And last but not least, sorry Anna!  Not much of a story connected with my photo with Harry Connick Jr.  My sister is an exclusive independent insurance agent for one of the largest insurance companies in the country.  Every year they organize a fabulous trip for the top agents from the previous year.  There is a gala dinner with entertainment one night during the trip.  This year's entertainment was Harry and they set up a photo session with him for the top, top performers.  I got to go along for the ride.  :-)  But it's still as yummy!  As a side note, next year is Monte Carlo and Paris!  Go sell insurance Maryl!  I want to go!  LOL!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


After a really hard two months I starting to stitch again on the train this week.  I haven't gotten much done yet on Swan Lake one of the Anniversaries of the Heart Patterns, because I'm fighting jet lag.  Yes you heard correctly, jet lag.  A week after we buried my brother-in-law my sister and I got on a plane for Switzerland.  Specially the Lake Geneva area.  We stayed three days in Montreux and seven in days in Geneva.  It was good to get away. 
 Château de Chillon in Montreux.
 Some of the many vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Oh, and Harry Connick Jr.  :-)  Yummy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Wow! It's been a while!

I can't believe it's been this long since I blogged!  I finally finished up Part 4 of the IsaV Marquior yesterday.  I haven't been stitching at all at home and almost nothing on the train rides to work.  When I first picked this back up two months ago I thought maybe I would want to just get it finished but I'm finding I do want to work on something else.  I'm thinking maybe another month to the big Blackbird Design that I'm half way finished with.  I think I'm on month seven?  I do know it's the block with the swans. 

Remember the needlework casket course I mentioned a couple of months ago?  It started three months ago and we are into the start of designing what we want to put on our boxes.  I mention this because I need to start to work on my embroidery and stumpwork skills.  My embroidery is quite rusty and I don't have any stumpwork skills.  :-)  So I'm looking to work on those.  I've been buying stumpwork books like crazy but all the books in the world don't do me a bit of good if I don't start stitching.  I have this huge fear that I will spend all this money and not even put a single thread to linen. 

Nothing new on the house front - I've been lazy and broke and it's too hot!  To tell the truth, as I write this I'm wondering myself what I've been doing the last month or so.  I don't seem to have anything to show for June.  :-) 

I've starting work with Isabelle on her retrieving skills with an eye toward AKC trials.  It's lots of hard work but she is so much fun!  We spend hours at the dog lake - she loves nothing more than to swim after a duck dummy.  This weekend we are going dock diving for the first time.  I know she is going to love that.  Still doing the occasional agility trial with the pugs.  Big trial coming up in two weeks.  It's Aoife's last chance - if she doesn't turn things around, I'm going to focus on Clancy full time - I don't have enough money to toss away on bad trial behaviour at this point and that's all I'm getting from Aoife. 

Have a great Fourth of July!  I'm on vacation starting tomorrow!  Almost two weeks off! 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Moving along

I've made good progress with my IsaV Marquior - only four blocks to go with the fourth section.  Since I had to move the entire piece on the hoop, I took a quick photo of IsaV in all her glory.  I wish I could take better photos, each letter is highlighted with gold silk and you can't even see it.  :-)

Thanks for all your warm words regarding the loss of my niece and sister-in-law.  It's been tough but time heals all. 

Late last week I received my first home owners tax bill for the year.  It went DOWN 60%!  They taxed me on the purchase price which was way lower than the appraised price (I bought a short sale).  I have a surplus in my escrow account of over $3,000.  By law the bank can't keep it so I'll be getting a check in the mail soon.  I've spent the money a thousand different ways already.  But tops on my list is a new hot water heater, duct cleaning, a new TV and cabinet and some new agility equipment.  My monthly escrow should also be going down a couple of hundred a month so I'll be able to afford agility again!  I'm so happy.  :-)  And so will the pugs and Isibeal.  :-)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Frederick Finis

Frederick - design by Carriage House Samplings
36 count Silkweavers Antique Gold Linen
Recommended NPI silk one over two

At long last!  Frederick is finished.  I started this bad boy in May of 2010.  Two years!  I love how it turned out.  Like with his wife, Frederika, I made a couple of changes.  I don't like my borders to be "off" so I did make a small change - the bottom row of diamonds in the border don't butt up to the black border like charted.  I added the year of the finish rather than the 1831 as charted.  And I put my initials in the box rather than an date on Frederika.  And of course the biggest change, they are both stitched on the same piece of linen.

Here are my two birds stitched together.  I'm happy I did this.  For a while I wasn't sure if I would like the end result but now I'm pleased.

Since this is the year of the WIP, I picked up my IsaV Marquior - I haven't worked on it since February of last year.  I'm using 35 count WDW linen in Havana with Vikki Clayton silks in Imperialosity and Bewooded.  Not sure how long I'll work on this one but I would like to get at least the entire chart done for this release.  Each of the six monthly releases had nine blocks so this one has five more to go before it's finished. 

I really struggled with what to pull out next.  I really wanted to start something new and even had a Shepherds Bush in my hands for about a half hour.  Then I thought I really need to get a couple more things in the done stack so I pulled this one out.  This was the last full size photo I took of it the last time I worked on it back in November of 2010.  So this round I'm hoping to have the alphabet to R completed.

My family had a hard week last week.  On April 26th one of my sister-in-laws died from complications from heart surgery.  She had been ill for quite some time now and her passing was almost a blessing.  But the biggest blow was the lost of my youngest niece Haley.  She was only 21 and died last Monday.  She will be sorely missed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

So Close!

All that is left to Frederick is the ground that he walks on.  :-)  Oh and the date and my initials.  I think this will be my first finish of the year.  I sure hope it happens this week!  I'd love to start on something different.  I have a stack of around 10 WIPs that I want to finish before I start something totally new and I have a ton of wool kits that I also want to start.  But none of that can happen until I finish up this bird. 

Nothing big happening at the house.  Over the weekend I worked at a ton of little things.  I installed the closet organizer in my bedroom.  That took the better part of Saturday.  I was so careful in what I picked out but I still have too many clothes that need to be in there for the size of the closet.  That's the problem with these 50 year old houses - never enough closet space!  I think I need to look into buying a chest of drawers for the bedroom.  I only own a dresser with a mirror.  I did have a plan years and years ago to buy more to the set but Ethan Allen where I purchased my furniture discontinued the line I was buying.  Now I can't find anything to match it.  So I guess I need to start to look for something that complements it rather than matches it.  I still need to purchase the new doorknobs for the door and the bathroom door and paint my switch plate covers - maybe next weekend.  I also started working on my lawns. The front lawn is about 50% weeds so put down a weedkiller and I'll de-thatch and put down seed in a couple of weeks.  The backyard is also mostly weeds but because of the dogs I can't put down any chemicals.  So I spent around three hours pulling dandelions - I'm about 25% done with that job.  I'll be at it all summer for sure!  There are also a ton of old flower beds all on the perimeter of the backyard.  I can't stand such regulated plantings and three of the four hardly had anything left in them so I pulled two out.  It was pretty easy - I just had to pick up the bricks outlining the beds and turn them over and plant new grass seed.  At this point I'd rather mow them than find money to replant them. 

So again my weekend wasn't very restful.  I wonder if that will ever happen again?  A weekend where I don't have a ton of work to do.  Maybe someday.  :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

a tiny quilt

I got a little more finished on Frederick.  I've been working from home the past couple of days so I haven't been stitching but this one is getting close.  

I Sunday I didn't feel like stitching and I haven't started my next big project yet so I pieced this little quilt.  It's only 11 inches by 11 inches.  I love how it turned out.  I plan on buying a little quilt rack to hang it on.  I'll machine quilt it with an overall stipple pattern.  Maybe over the coming weekend.
I had my new furnace and HVAC system installed yesterday and today.  I asked that they only remove the equipment from my utility room yesterday so I could do a little work on the room.  This is what I started with.
And this is what I did.  I put down a new sub floor and a laminate floor plus the baseboard trim.  It will be a lot easier to clean now. 
It's chilly in the house - a cold morning and they are still here working on the furnace - come on heat!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

border - check!

I finished up the border on Frederick yesterday. I don't know about you but when I finished the boarder of a piece I always feel like I've made real progress. Not much left now!

On the house front - new HVAC system coming on Monday! Yeah!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The room is done and so am I :-)

Frederick is coming along nicely now that I'm stitching to and from work. It helps that is finally light in the mornings and I don't seem to get as sleepy on the train. A good solid week of rides and one or two nights I could have this one put to bed. That would be sweet.

On Saturday I finished up most of my bedroom and moved in! I started this project the last weekend in February with the clearing of the room. It's been hard work but I love how it finished up. There are some details outstanding. I still need to purchase a closet organizer and install it. I'm hoping I have the cash for that next week. All the light switches and plugs need covers and those will need to be painted because I like them to match the wall color. I ordered a rug last week and it should be in next week and I need to decorate the walls. It's pretty empty right now. I found a nice tv cabinet that's fits the style of my furniture really well and I'll be looking to purchase that as soon as the rug is paid for. Then of course I need to start working on the bathroom - it was also gutted and so far it's only had it's window trimmed and the room painted. I have to purchase everything from flooring to wainscoting to toilet and sink.

My little reading spot. I want to purchase an electrified oil lamp for the side table and I need some sort of foot stool if I want to really get comfy.

My king size bed fits perfect and I have lots of flexibility in the room to change things around as I see fit. That's Isibeal climbing on the bed. Even though she can totally just jump on the bed, she has always used the stairs I have for the pugs. :-) She goes down that way too. :-) I need to find an option of that ugly black light I have clamped to the headboard but I'm not sure what yet.

Just a few minutes later - this is why I don't bother to make my bed most days. Isebeal likes to make a nest of whatever quilt on have on the bed. :-)

Since I finished up most of the work on Saturday, on Sunday I took the four dogs to the local off-leash dog park for a nice three mile romp. It's the most fun place in the world (at least from the packs perspective). I can't keep Isebeal out of the water but she has so much fun I don't even try. In fact the pugs think she is having so much fun they usually join her when it's warmer. It's funny to see the lab in the water with two pugs trailing behind her (yes only two - Aoife won't go near the water unless I drop her in). Here is Isebeal fetching her ball.

She doesn't get just a little damp - it's full on wet. She even holds her breath to dunk her head under the water.

Hopefully this will be the start of more regular visits to the park. I start on the total re-do of my HVAC system I'm hoping by the end of the week but my participation in that should be limited to the new sub floor floor and tile I want to put down before the new furnace and water heater goes in. Then a couple of weeks off before more full blown home improvement. Oh I'll still putter (still have all those things to finish in my bedroom and bath) but I need a break. Both me and my pocketbook are really tired. :-) Then I'll start work on my sewing room and outside deck! The sewing room is going to get the same treatment as my bedroom and a bit more as money allows starting with installing the new hardwood floor and replacing all the trim work. Plus I'm looking to do some built ins with a window seat along one of the walls. It only takes time and money. :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I've actually found some time over the past few days to do a little stitching. I'm finding that progress is not only slow on this front but also on my bedroom. The task of re-painting the entire room is turning out to be a major buzz kill and I haven't taken a step in the room in three days so it's doubtful it will be ready to move into this weekend. And I still don't have the light fixtures installed as I can't find anyone to help me (all capable family members too busy right now) and I can't afford an electrician to come in this week to do it. sigh.

In what might turn out to be another stupid move on my part (only time will tell), I signed up for the Cabinet of Curiosities class over at Thistle Threads. I missed the first sign up as it was around the Thanksgiving/Christmas time frame and I just couldn't swing the down payment. I did add myself to the wait list a month or so ago and Tracey had a couple of openings as well as the ability to expand the class to 25 more people. I'm so worried that I don't have the skill to pull something like this off. And it's a multi year (three in total I think) and huge financial obligation to boot. But I so want to do it! So I scrapped up the money required to join and I'm in. I already know I'm interested in the more expensive casket - the double - way more than the flat top version. That also means an extra 18 month class. So currently if I want to complete this the way it should be I'm already in for $7,000 or so. And this is before I purchase all the little accessories that make is really super cool and purchase extra supplies. That's how much I'm spending on my furnace. Or a butt load of windows. And the question still needs to be asked, do I have the skill to pull it off? I'm still struggling to complete the Floral Glove I started two years ago.

Only time will tell. :-)

edited later to add: $7,000 is a bit high, I figured it again and it is around $2,400 for the two 18 month classes (which include most of the items needed to construct the casket, lots of silks and at least five projects to help teach what needed to stitch the parts of the casket properly) and $3,000 -/+ 20% for the casket itself. So that's $6,000 for the two classes and the casket if the casket comes in at the high end. But there will be added goodies that are being commissioned to go inside the casket. That will add up. :-) I want it all. :-)

Monday, April 09, 2012

still at it!

Believe it or not, I'm still working on my bedroom. I thought for sure I'd be in last weekend. But the trim work took my brother 12 hours to complete on Friday and then I spent the rest of the weekend doing the caulking and wood putty work. I still have a butt load left as I took off a few hours to hang out with family yesterday. And now I still have to repaint. My brother didn't notice that there was a right side and a wrong side to some of the trim pieces that I had painted at night during the work week and put them on primed side out. Grrr. I even told him to be careful but he said he never heard me. :-) Men! So now not only do I need to paint over the putty holes but I need to paint about a quarter of the trim totally again from the start. But I love how it turned out. So maybe this weekend I can move in. After I'm done with the painting I just need the lights installed in the ceiling and I still need to buy some window shades. Not sure yet what I want and they need to be cheap because I've spent a load on the room and I'm out of money.

I didn't have a work surface for my brother to put his miter saw on so we improvised. That's Isabelle's crate with a closet door over it. Worked great!

Speaking of Isabelle, she hated all the noise my brother was making and sat outside all day. Finally she just curled up in a ball and went to sleep. The pugs on the other hand, didn't care a bit about the noise and dust and kept coming in to visit. I finally had to kick them out of the room because they were so underfoot.

Enjoy the week!