Monday, December 10, 2007

More old stitching and goals for 2008

I'm almost done posting all my old stitching (well, the stuff that I have photos of, since I've given some away over the years). It's nice to have an almost complete record of all my projects! I'll probably post photos of some of the old large projects that still need to be framed (or re-framed in some cases) when they are finally totally finished.

First is a DMC kit that I stitched mostly while on vacation in Maine on vacation a couple of years ago. It's still in the unframed pile.

Next are two Cross My Heart cottage magnet kits that I got at the Spirit of Cross Stitch festival many years ago... they were both on the little refrigerator in my office, but unfortunately one of them was lost somewhere along they way (the one on the left). Someday I'll have to get a replacement for it, since I like the Tudor-like half-timbered design.

Next up are the remainder of the various Textile Heritage miniatures that I've bought on various trips to the UK over the years.

The one of the left are the four national symbols of the British Isles - the rose for England, shamrocks for Ireland, a thistle for Scotland and a daffodil for Wales. The picture on the right are (clockwise from upper left) - the crown of Scotland, the White Tower of the Tower of London, bagpipes, Hampton Court Palace and a Welsh dragon.

And this final image is another of the Textile Heritage bookmarks that I've stitched. I still haven't finished this one or the Tudor rose one with a backing fabric or ribbon, but that is part of the goals for next year. More about those goals below.

So, now the stitching goals for 2008. The goals are two-fold... the first is to put the finishing touches on some of the unfinished projects that I've been posting about here. There are a lot of things that need to be framed or otherwise completed beyond the stitching. My other big goal is to start working through the kits in my stash. I have lots of leaflets and magazine patterns that I want to stitch but the kits take up a lot more room. :) I have four fairly large Christmas-themed kits, so I'm sure I'm going to be stitching one or more of them at some strange time of year (like July), but that hasn't stopped me before (most of Celtic Christmas was stitched watching baseball).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Texas Panorama update and a recent finish

First up, a progress report on "Texas Panorama":

The "A" is finished now (although still no backstitching) and I've begun the "E" (although no photo of that yet). This project has been on hold for a week or so as I've stitched up some Christmas ornaments to include with some gifts... at least I hope so! I have been pretty picky about choosing patterns and I might not get them finished at the rate I'm going.

I was originally planning on doing 3 or 4 of Teresa Wentzler's "Peacock Tapestry Ornament", but the first one took me long enough that I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to finish all of them in time. But I do have one! And I think I'm going to keep it for myself. :)

This is actually the first TW I've ever stitched, although I have several of her leaflets in my stash, along with most of the excellent freebies from her website. I love how it turned out, and it certainly won't be the last of her designs that I stitch! Now to figure out how to finish it... I'm leaning framing, even though I was really hoping to start trying some other finishing techniques. But I think this would look great in a frame (and on the wall in my office!).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Texas panorama - first photo

Here's the first photo of the progress on "Texas Panorama" after about two weeks. A lot of it was done this past weekend. The flower parts on the lower section of the X took a while, but the rest has gone very quickly. I still have all the backstitching to do, but I might wait until all of the cross stitches are done first. I've never actually done that on a medium-to-large project before... I'm usually a "backstitch as you go" type.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Recent finishes

I've been meaning to post these for over a week!

This is one of the last of my Textile Heritage miniatures that I've bought on my various trips to the UK. I think I only have one left and they'll all be stitched!

And this is the Winter piece of the Four Seasons design, all finished.

(here is the leaflet and the previously-finished Fall section)

I'm now working on Texas Panorama from Bestitched. I bought this at the LNS years and years ago and I have been intending to start it for ages, but just now finally got around to it. I'm starting with the letter X in the middle and I'm about 60% through that. I might even get the X finished this weekend, but it has a lot of backstitching around the flowers in the bottom half, so maybe not. Maybe I'll scoot over to the E or A next and go back and do the backstitching later. :) I'll post a picture of the current progress soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some Tudor-themed designs

Since I'm supposed to be finishing my Tudor podcast right now and I'm procrastinating, I figured I would post a few of the Tudor-related Textile Heritage kits that I've stitched.

First is the "family" of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I. The kits are supposed to be cards, but I'm planning on framing them together.

And these two are Tudor roses. I haven't finished bookmark yet, because I've been trying to decide whether or not to use the ribbon backing that came with the kit or to put some nice fabric on the back. The coaster is all finished and sits on my bedside table. (I took the picture before I put it in the plastic so there wouldn't be any reflections.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My largest project to date

... and probably still my favorite.

Sorry for the not-so-great picture. This obviously isn't a professional framing job either. I bought the frame before I finished (maybe even before I actually started) this design, but when I saw it in the store I knew it would be perfect. I did a temporary framing job on it a few years ago so I could have it up for Christmas and I still haven't taken it in to get it done professionally. Someday!

The design is, of course, Celtic Christmas from Told in a Garden. It's still the largest project that I've done, and it was my first large linen project. I think I had only done two very small linen projects before tackling this one.

Friday, October 12, 2007

More old projects... still waiting to be framed

And I really don't have any excuse on this first one, since I have the perfect frame. I just need to get off my butt and mount the darn thing.

This is a Welsh dragon that I bought as a kit from Cambriana Designs, who have a whole line of Welsh symbols, castles and scenery pictures.

This is the frame for the dragon. I was thrilled to find it, since it looks like it's covered in scales!

I have a goal of stitching pictures of most of the places I've visited in the UK, so I was really pleased that Cambriana had a design of Criccieth Castle, which is certainly not one of the better known castles in North Wales (being overshadowed by the big Edwardian Castles like Harlech, Caernarfon, etc.) That is stitched up below:

In both of these, I switched out the kit fabric for choices of my own. The dragon is on 28-ct mushroom Monaco and the castle is a natural (kind of linen-like) 28-ct that I bought a full yard of a couple of years ago. I really like this fabric since it adds a nice rustic look to pictures of crumbling old castles.

And one more for today's post: This is another kit I bought in the UK, this time down in Portsmouth, England and it is of Henry VIII's ship The Mary Rose

I thought this one would be appropriate to add since yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the raising of the ship. If you're ever in the south of England I highly recommend a visit to Portsmouth and The Mary Rose (you can see the HMS Victory there too!)

Monday, October 8, 2007

More recent finishes

I finally found some cute little bows to finish off the bottoms of this set of ornaments that I've posted before. So these are ready to hang now!

This next one is still not completely finished, but it is one step closer to being a completed project. The pattern is from an issue of New Stitches (pretty sure). I had this old green aida cloth and wanted to see how a light thread would look on a dark fabric, so I stitched this one up quick. I was originally just going to toss it, but I was was inspired by some of the finishes I've seen on other needlework blogs and stitched this into a little pillow. I'll probably wrap some cording around it and put a tassel at the bottom and make an ornament out of it.

The next two are some little kits that I picked up... The ribbon sachet was a kit that I bough during the short time that I was working at a craft store to make ends meet after college (the research job that I continued in after graduation was only part time). Ribbon embroidery was really taking off at the time and I wanted to try some. I finished the ribbon stitching fairly soon after buying the kit, but only made up the sachet a couple of weeks ago. I can't believe that I've had things sitting around that long!

This next one was another kit that I bought at some big-box craft store a few years back and was mostly stitched at the house of friends that my boyfriend was staying at until he found a house to buy. I spent most of the weekends there too and stitched this on some of the lazy evenings at their house. I love how seeing some of these older project have strong memory associations with where I stitched them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Some recent finishes and a couple of framed items

First up, a few older projects that I finally framed (!!):

This one is a Jane Greenoff design that I bought as a kit on one of my trips to Britain (probably the 1998 one, so that means it took me nearly 10 years to finish it!)

And this was another kit that I bought on a trip to the UK, this time north Wales. This is a small design of Conwy Castle that I bought at the castle giftshop. At least this one only took me 7 years to finish. If I remember correctly, I did most of the stitching on it on one of my trips to Maine.

Here are a couple more old cover kits from the mid-1990s that I finished up a few weeks ago. I think all of these are from Needlecraft magazine. The leaves one had some lettering that I left off, since I liked the design without them. The wreath and egg were punched card designs, which I had never done before. I like the results, but punching 6 strands through those holes can be a little hard on the fingers (actually 12 strands where they double up through the eye of the needle!).

And last but not least, here is my progress on the Winter section of the four seasons design. The photo was taken early on Saturday and I did a bunch of work on the upper pine needles yesterday (and I'm about to finish another snowflake this evening). I generally don't set monthly goals (since I know I mostly won't meet them) but I'm thinking I'll get this one finished by the end of October. I wanted to do a Halloween piece this month, but I'm trying to not have too many things going at once right now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Where has the time gone???

You know, for all the physics and astronomy classes that I've had, I still have no real grasp on the concept of time. It still amazes me how you can look up and all of a sudden you're flipping the calendar over to October when you're sure you just got back from a July 4th cookout the day before.

I've been really busy over the past two weeks and it is only going to get worse until about Thanksgiving, but I've been jealousy guarding my evening and weekend "downtime" to so some stitching and finish up some old projects.

First up, a couple of recent finishes:

This one was sort of a finish of an old cover kit. The materials (including the lavender inside) were from a cover kit on Needlecraft Magazine (I think) in about 1994. It originally called for a little embroidery design of a lavender plant, but I decided to use this little lavender sprig from Needlecraft's September 2000 issue instead. To make it fit, I did it over one on 32 count fabric. I love to stitch small but I made a big mistake starting it on an evening that I had a terrible headache. It certainly didn't help any. The finished product is now residing in my underwear drawer. :)

And yes, the infamous (to me anyway) 15-years-in-the-making Christmas ornaments are finally done! I stitched the backing on and stuffed the remaining two over the weekend. Now I just need to actually put up a Christmas tree this year so I'll have somewhere to hang them (hopefully out of the reach of puppy and kitty!).

This is another recent finish. The stitching had been done for ages on this one, but I hadn't finished it into the little potpourri bag until a week or so ago. I have long since lost the potpourri that came with the kit (I think it was a Cross My Heart product that I picked up at the Spirit of Cross Stitch festival), so it is currently empty. I'll probably get something with a nice cinnamon smell for the holidays.

I've got a pile of large and small items that are still awaiting framing. Here's just a sampling: (I'll post more about some of the individual ones eventually... maybe when I finally get them framed!)

And finally, a little bit about a medium-sized part of a larger project I'm working on. This is the Fall section from the Dimensions leaflet pictured next to it:

Instead of working it as one large picture, I decided to do it as four separate ones. I'm planning on framing them separately as well, but arranging them on the wall like they are in the overall design. I'm currently stitching the Winter one, which is the largest project I have going at the moment. I'll post some pictures of my progress in the next few days. Pretty much everything else I've been doing is finishing the old projects above and working some Textile Heritage miniatures, which I'll also post a picture of soon. I'm about 60% of the way through their Tower Bridge miniature at the moment.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More of my past projects

I forgot to mention in some of my past posts that I used to hang out on the rec.crafts.textiles.needlework USENET group many years ago and through that I became part of a group that got together in Austin every so often to stitch. We did a fun shop hop down to San Antonio too. Through one of the members of that group, I had a chance to volunteer at the Alma Lynne booth at the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festival when it came to Austin in 1996. It was tons of fun and I spent tons of money! In the process of working the festival I finally "got" the idea of what really high-quality stitching was about through looking at some of the competition winners. Since then, not only do I take more care in getting all my stitches to go the same direction, but I've also taken more care in "carrying over" and making the top stitches lie flat (well... flatter... I'm still a little sloppy at times) and not letting fuzz from dark threads show on light and vice versa. I'm by no means a competition quality stitcher, but I am definitely improving.

Also at the festival, I caught the bug for stitching small. I've mentioned it before, but I really enjoy doing stuff on high count fabric, although I'll admit that I haven't done a lot. The project that caught my eye was a small section of "Jacque's View" from Graphs by Barbara and Cheryl done on 28 ct. over one. I was working with Cheryl of the above design team and she had the model for that chart in the booth with us, including the section around the cat done small. I was entranced!

The above project was probably the biggest that I've done on 18 count to date. I started it in around 1993, but it wasn't finished until several years later. It's from a Candamar Designs book called "Something Special: Home Sweet Home".

I also thought I would toss in a picture of one of the few needlepoint projects that I've done so far but I've got a couple more kits in my stash. I think that the sunflowers above are from a Dimensions kit, but I'm not 100% sure. I also did a eyeglass case for my mom that was a needlepoint kit... I'll have to get a picture of it someday. I also did a magnolia for her a little over 10 years ago that I also need to grab a photo of.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One of the things that kept me sane in the days after September 11, 2001

In the days following the attacks, I, like so many others, found it hard to tear myself away from the news coverage. There were several things that kept me going in those first few days... reading "Lord of the Rings", knowing that a friend of mine who worked at the top of the north tower wasn't in his office yet that day and was okay, going ahead with the public viewing on Sept. 12 at the telescope I run at work (which was very well-attended that night by people wanting to get away from their TVs for a while) and stitching the Tower of London design you see above. It gave something to do with my hands while the news coverage droned on in the background. I'll probably always think of those days when I see this design.

The pattern is from Heritage Stitchcraft, designed by Susan Ryder. I finished it in around October 2001, but I still haven't gotten around to framing it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some more of my past projects

Here are three more of the past projects that I've stitched. I think all three of these were begun and finished in the 1993-1998 range.

The first is an ironwork gate design from New Stitches issue #10. Anyone who is familiar with the design might notice a big mistake in the gate stitching, but thankfully it isn't obvious if you don't know better. (If you're curious, the mistake is that I ended up making the space between the brick posts for the gate one stitch too wide, so when I went to do the backstitching for the gate I had to make the gate a stitch wider... I ended up doubling the center of the design.)

This next design is another from New Stitches, this one from issue #13. This is one of a pair of designs, where the other one is looking in to the house through the window. They've run several "in and out" designs over the years, but this is the only that I've stitched so far. This was also my first experiment stitching on a higher-count fabric. It's over 1 square on 22 ct. aida. I actually found that I liked working small and have done some more since, although several were given away as gifts and I never took pictures of them (bad me!).

This is from a different British magazine, Needlecraft, in the July 1994 issue, and is one of my favorite things that I've stitched. I'm probably going to do it again on linen eventually (I have this weird desire to re-do a lot of my earlier projects on different fabrics and in different sizes... you'd think I would be more interested in doing new designs instead!) I think this was the first thing that I stitched with variegated floss (the symbols at the bottom of the "England" and "Wales" strips) and I really liked how it turned out.

From roughly September 1994 to May 1995, I worked at a craft store to supplement the part-time job I was still working at the university (when I went full time at in June 1995) and of course worked in needlework and fabrics. This was the time that I caught the quilting bug (which will be its own series of posts eventually) but I also started learning about doing some new techniques. It was around this time that I got my first little linen project, the rose sachet in the picture above. I can't remember if this was a cover kit or something I bought separately (I think the latter), but the other two are cover kits from more British needlework magazines. The rose card was, I think, the first time I did beading on a design.

That's more than enough for today!

Friday, September 7, 2007

How Anne Boleyn nearly lost her head for a second time

(From New Stitches Magazine, Issue #8)

The next big thing in my needlework life was the discovery of British needlework magazines. In particular, I became a big fan of New Stitches. I was browsing in a bookstore in Dallas during a visit in c. 1993 and came across NS and saw the design of Anne Boleyn (I was already long down the Tudor path at that point) and of course I had to buy it. I was also intrigued by the blackwork design, which was a technique that I was unfamiliar with up to that point. While I was up there I bought some 22 ct. fabric and two thicknesses of thread and began to stitch. Unfortunately, I completely screwed up the starting place and by the time I started to get to the top, I realized that Anne was about to end up "historically accurate" without a head. As you can see above, I did actually managed to squeeze in the top of her French hood on the very tip top of the fabric. I actually plan to do this design again someday (and start in the right place, and probably on a different type of fabric) although I've been keeping the "mistake" version around for some reason. I guess as a reminder to "measure twice, start stitching once".

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More Christmas ornaments

Not much extra commentary on these.

The first batch is an older set (as you can tell from the "wrong" way stitching). I enjoyed painting the little house on the one on the left. These are from those little kits you can find at the craft stores for about a dollar. They aren't the most challenging stitches, but they are fun to whip out on a lazy afternoon.

This next set is from another kit set I bought at Michael's or some other chain. These technically aren't finished yet because I'm looking for some small ribbon bows to put on the bottom over the ends of the cording. (I added the cording... it didn't come with the kit. I thought it finished the edges off nicely.)

Cute little gingerbread man kit, stitched over 10 years ago.

Some of my first experiments with beading and ribbon embroidery. I think these are all from Mill Hill Beads kits. I think I have at least three more bead ornament kits somewhere in my stash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The 15 year Christmas ornaments

Christmas ornaments are another favorite project-type of mine. There's just something about stitching Christmas ornaments in a hot Texas summer that is refreshing. :)

The above ornaments are from a Janlynn kit I bought in or around 1992 and began shortly after. Being of the easily bored personality type, I stitched all the 'interesting' parts (the instruments) and then got totally bored when I got to the greenery part. So the projects languished for ages. A while back (maybe 5 years ago?) I finished three of them, as you can see above on the left. The other three ended up in my WIP (works in progress) pile. Until last week, that is. I've been on a kick of finishing a bunch of smaller projects that I've had stashed away in a plastic shoe box.

Of the three remaining ornaments from the kit, I recently finished the drum and the clarinet, although they are still waiting to be made up into the little pillows and finished with the gold cord. I had planned to finish the horn over the long weekend, but as I started on the greenery, I realized that the mouthpiece and the thin part of the horn on the right were in completely the wrong place and I had to rip them out. Thankfully I still had all the remaining threads from the kit. So, now I'm working on replacing the bits of the horn and finishing the greenery. Hopefully by the weekend I'll have all three ornaments completely finished and my longest work in progress will finally be done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The cross-stitch castle obsession begins

The picture above is the next big project I tackled and it turned out much better (except for the whole "crosses in the same direction thing". It looks a little wrinkled because I recently took it off its old mounting board (something else I needed a good lesson in doing correctly) and washed it. The dust and dirt I was trying to get out still need another soak before I remount and reframe it. I stitched this one mostly, if not entirely, during my freshman year of college.

The castle is Lichtenstein, from the book Medieval Castles from Jeanette Crews Designs. I also did Neuschwanstein Castle from the same book a year or two later (which wrinkled in the photo for the same reason as the other one).

I still haven't gotten around to stitching the other two castles in the book, which is slightly ironic, considering they are British castles, which are my special love. The original book was totally destroyed, so I threw it out and bought a new copy last year, which I was pleased to see was still around about 17 years after it was first published! BTW, the other two castles are Craigievar in Scotland and Hever, in the south of England. Hever is best know for its associations with Anne Boleyn. I visited there in 1998 and bought a cross stitch kit of it there, which I stitched a few years ago (see below). It, like many others, is in one of my UFO piles... in this case, and Un-Framed-Object. As with most kits of medium and larger projects that I've stitched in the past few years, I changed out the fabric (usually 14 count aida) with a 28 count evenweave.

Next time I'll post some pictures of my other frequently-stitched-objets... Christmas ornaments, along with the story of my longest unfinished objects to date.