Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Welcome Finish

Oh my goodness, where were my manners in the last post, y'all.  I had meant to thank you so much for your sweet comments on my "Yuletide Progress" from early July.  So without further ado the backyard suburban turtle and I would like to thank you so much for those sweet comments.  I never take my stitching friends for granted.  I know how blessed I am, and boy am I grateful for them.  The shelf saga continues, but more on that next post.

When last we met I had taken the Brenda Keyes sampler to my framer.  I wish I had been able to post a better photo of the before, but at the time of that finish I had a very cheap camera and a flip phone.  Lynne has graciously agreed to take a photo of my samplers before putting them in the museum glass, so here she is all framed.  Whahoo . . . Happy Dance!  I've decided to put this one in my office nook.  It will be the first cross stitch piece in there, and I'm thinking maybe it will encourage me to use my desk more often.  Maybe?  That office chair is pretty but might need one of those blow up rubber circle cushion thingies so I last longer than 20 minutes.  Age is not for whimps.

Brenda Keyes
The Sailor's Wife
Wichelt-Permin linen, 32 count, Lambswool

After talking with the Homespun Ladies in June I had convinced myself to go with a different linen.  Whoah, not so fast.  I started to think about it again and googled "His Eye is on the Sparrow".  The first picture that came up was a Instagram photo one of my Homespun friends had posted of her Sparrow progress.  Okay, maybe the called for linen isn't that bad.  Judy, put your big girl panties on, and just order it.  There are a lot of motifs.  That should tone down the contrast right?  So I ordered.

Yeh, I think I might actually like this linen.

With around 25 overdyeds there were A LOT of threads to buy, but I don't think I can do this one with DMC.  It just wouldn't feel right.  The plan, for now, is to stitch one over two.  There isn't much coverage that way, but so many historic samplers were stitched like this, and I absolutely love a homespun historic sampler, y'all.  I'm still short a color, but maybe it will be back in stock at 123stitch by the time I'm ready to start, or I can find it somewhere else.

I've lived with my Needle Needs Millennium frame for a while now, and we are getting to know each other.  What I'm learning  . . .
*Well, I guess this 40" frame actually does bow a bit.  See below picture.
*Bowing or not the tension is still REALLY good all the way through.
*Unlike my Rolaframes, the bars don't budge or loosen with use.
*I still will need my Rolaframes for a small projects, and maybe that will encourage me to actually do some small projects. 
*Yes, I can get the fabric drum tight, but be advised.  The horizontal linen fibers will begin to separate a bit at the bars.
*I don't need drum tight tension to be completely happy.  
*It is incredibly important to square up the fabric by pulling threads before placing it on the frame.
*I may have a favorite style frame, and this one is it.  Oh dear.

I learned a really cool feature with my phone's camera.  Even with readers I couldn't tell what the color was supposed to be for the over one lettering on Yuletide.  I suppose I should just guess, but I would rather know the actual color.  Thanks to the zoom feature on my phone I was able to figure out which skein of DMC to pull. Great timing.  My husband had been having difficulty reading the ingredients on food items even with his readers.  Now he can just use his phone.  Yippee for the "old folks" at home. :-)

The preschool where I teach has a mascot for each classroom.  Before this year I was the Peacock Teacher.  As the Peacock teacher I wanted my kiddos to know all about peacocks, so I did a little research.   First, only the males are peacocks.  The females are called peahens.  As a whole the birds are called peafowl.  I love how Paulette designed two peacocks.  Each offered a rose to the single peahen.    I suppose one could interpret this many ways, but this is my take.  The peacock is the same lover but at two different times of his life--young and old.  I'm sure I'm plagiarizing someone (but who?), but the verse that keep running through my head was  . . . 

I loved you once
I love you still 
I loved you first 
And always will

It's slightly romantic on my side of the fence.

I'm not much of a flower grower, but if I could grow some in a pot they would look like these.

One thing we have talked about at the Gathering is all these little girls who are stitching samplers at such young ages--8, 10, 12 years old.  I started to think about it.  Well, why not.  Development hasn't changed in the last 200 years, so why wouldn't I be able to start teaching little girls how to stitch.  The plan is to gather with three girls and their moms for some regular stitching time.  I have taught all three of these girls, aged 5-7, and have a special connection with them and mom.  I already have a yes from one.  I will be asking the next two soon.  

I love the photo below.  I reminds me of a couple of weeks ago when I took my stitch to a Sunday evening ice cream social at church.  My five year old girl from above got to try out some stitching on Yuletide, and decided she would like to learn how to cross stitch.  While we sat there a 4 year old boy and his sister came by and were mesmerized.  The little boy was 4 and wanted to try, so why not?  His stitches are in there too.   After talking with the boy's mom I found out a needle and thread were already in his genes, and she was going to get him some tools to maybe begin a new hobby.  What a great night.  

After we got home our son made an observation.  "Mom I don't want to offend you.  I actually mean this as a compliment.  You attract preschoolers like an old lady attracts cats.  Except you give the preschoolers back."  LOL, he might be right.  Preschoolers are definitely where my heart is.

Here is the completed "Yuletide Welcome" by Plum Street Samplers and a couple of my modifications.  She'll go visit Lynne in September for her final makeover in the frame shop.

My sister and family came in to visit this past month.  It seems whenever they come down from Upstate New York, Tennessee has a heat advisory.  They made it through and we had a nice visit.  I was tasked with a few dishes including apple pie.  My pie crust was recipe I've been using for several years now.  Buying dessert or any element in it isn't how I roll.  The pie filling came from America's Test Kitchen, and it called for 4 pounds of sliced and pealed apples--4 pounds, y'all.  That is a bunch of apples.  I wasn't all that convinced they would all fit in my regular pie plate let alone my Dutch oven.   They did fit in the Dutch oven for cooking down, but I chickened out and made the pie in a cast iron skillet.  Hmm, that was pretty smart.  Think I'll do that again.  :-)

I did learn one thing though.  When a recipe calls for 4 pounds of apples cut your pie slices a lot smaller.  I could have gotten 10-12 slices out of the pie without skimping.  That first slice was huge.


My parents used to raise emus on the farm.  The emus are long gone but the post that used to provide a gate hinge make a great holder for my water bottle while I get the lawn mower ready for  cutting the fields.

Mom has agreed to let me buy her a new safety can for the riding lawn mower.  Her current 5 gallon can is plastic, no top, and not fire arrester for safety.  In a couple of months I think I'll sneak in a 2.5 gallon safety can for the push mowers.   Below is the one my dad used to fill the tractor.  That tractor spent a lot of time in the fields until it just wouldn't run anymore.  After Dad died Mom was able to find a buyer for it.  He was thrilled to get it, and mom was thrilled to sell it to him.  Dad and I spent many an hour on that aging work horse of a red tractor.  I remember getting around the field 2 or 3 times before having to fill the radiator back up.  I also remember where every one of those thorn trees were on the edge of the back field.  Good times.  That sweet tractor is now in a field up north somewhere with about 100 other tractors.  May she rest in peace.

Time is limited during the school year, so during the summer my needles tend to be flying.  Now that Yuletide is completed it was time to begin Polly Brown from SubRosa Designs.

I'm so in love with this linen--36 count Edinburgh Ale by Picture this Plus.  I have a little more difficulty seeing the holes due to color but not enough to give up.  The colors are phenomenal, and in true Judy style I'm stitching methodically again with my color blocking method.

It is so much fun to watch this design grow.

I have such a love for red that I changed out her reds (WDW Baked Apple and Cinnabar) for GA Country Redwood--so pretty.

The design calls for Oak for the siding on the house.  This color shows up in her picture but on my linen it all but disappears a few feet away.  

So after I rip off the oak siding I'll put up the new.  There is a possibility the foundation color may also change to coordinate with the siding, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  No doubt I'm in love with this one, and I've already picked out the frame.  I'm really hoping it works.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Summer is Here

Summer arrived on June 22nd, but It never quite feels like summer is in full swing until the Independence Day holiday arrives.  I found myself a little amused when I realized what I was drinking that day.  Yep, English tea with English cross stitch designer, Brenda Keyes, as a backdrop.  Mug and hot water brought to you by the good ol' US of A.  The Boston Tea Party reference a little amusing as well.  Fortunately no hard feelings and the Mother Country has long forgiven her fledgling upstart.

Summer running with a dog has proven to be a bit difficult.  Reletive humidity is worthless to me as an outdoor runner, but I've found dew point temperatures are incredibly helpful.    Cold air holds much less water vapor than hot air. So, 100% humidity at 30℉ is actually quite dry.  Dew points are much more helpful since they give a much better indication of how much water or actual humidity is in the air.  We've been hovering in the upper 60s to lower 70s for dew point making it difficult to run outside for me and Heidi.  I actually left her home Thursday, and believe me she had a strong opinion on that one.  My sneaking out is not an option with this dog.  Even though today was only in the lower 80s it was still a tough one due to dew point--69.  

I always bring a couple of 16 oz. bottles of ice cold water for Heidi to drink at the end.  Today she drank 1 1/2 of those.  I used to hold her leash as I stretched at the car, but quickly found she liked to knock over the water, wander around my legs and do anything but chill.  Today I took a picture of my new set up for her after the run.

Hackberry Hitching Post
Collapsable Bowl Held Still by a Nearby Stick
Quietly Resting in the Grass

Today I went over to Mom's to cut the grass.  Normally this is a treat--just me and the riding lawnmower over the fields. Not. Today.  Let's just say I'm pretty sure it was a copperhead that slithered from under the cutting deck to inside some PVC pipe next to the mower.  Needless to say I was NOT excited to go back into the house for the forgotten key to the mower, and you can bet your sweet bippies that I checked everywhere copperhead might return to before getting back on the mower to start it.  

Okay, enough of that.  I have ordered a new shelf and this time from a local family run place that makes all it's furniture and wood items.  I've been looking for a solution to hold my necklaces, and this could be a contender.  Currently, the necklace overflow is on top of my jewelry box which does not sit well with me, but this messy mountain abides behind a closet door, so I tolerate it.  Depending on what is in stock the shelf could take anywhere between a week to six.  It is possible they have the shelf that only needs painted.  It is equally possible the shelf needs to be started from scratch since business is expanding outside the state and items are being transported near and far.

Abigail continues to tolerate Heidi, but now Abigail is getting bold enough to swipe at her little sister as Heidi passes by a perched Abigail on the piano.  Stealthy cat of course makes sure Heidi can see none of this.

Today, however, there was a moment of bliss in a share activity:  Turkey Watching.

So how is progress going on Yuletide?  The Border is completely finished, and I've come up with a plan to get the banner filled in without loosing my mind (stitching it all at once).  I've committed to cutting a length of floss and using this length to stitch three needlefulls each time I pick up the needle.  I can then, and only then, work on other areas.  

I've read that my floss should be cut at short lengths, but this is a rule I've always snubbed.  I seriously hate tying off and beginning a new needlefull of floss.  So, what I do is very scientific.  If I'm pulling floss from a skein it is 3 full pops off the skein or 6 full lengths.  If I'm unwinding a bobbin I just hold the end of the floss, and extend my arm all the way above my head allowing the bobbin to stay in my lap.  I end up with about 36" either way.

So  without further ado here are two pics so you can compare my progress from last time to this time.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Yuletide Progress

I think this wooden watermelon is my new favorite thing.  Was it several weeks ago I was pruning a cedar tree for Mom?  I thought for sure the branch didn't need a wedge cut first, but my handsaw became stuck anyway.   So I sweet talked the saw out of the branch before cutting a wedge.  Wait a minute.  This isn't a slice of cedar, but rather a slice of watermelon with a single seed!  I've been keeping it in the berry tote I use to hold my stitching tools, and what a blessing and joy it has brought. 

The Homespun ladies gathered on the 24th. We were small in number, but mighty in fellowship and Show and Tell. They say that trials and hard times bond groups together like nothing else.  That Saturday our trial was the temperature in our room in our local library.  In the south we say the room is cold enough to hang meat.  Yep, that about covers it.  The air conditioning typically freezes that room out, so we should know by now to wear winter layers.   I was so grateful for my long sleeves and pants.   Okay next time I need a hat, coat and finger-less gloves just in case ;-).

Betty had been busy getting projects finished.  On the top left she brought "House on Pumpkin Hill Pinkeep" design by Stacy Nash for Country Sampler's Girls Club.  Next is another Girls Club piece by Stacy Nash.  The strawberry came from the Linda Stolz's Quaker field at Erica Michaels.  The Stocking is called Poisettia Stocking from the BBD booklet Home for the Holidays.  Was the adorable bunny Betty's too?  Probably, but (drat!) I forgot to ask.

Here is an inside look at Betty's needle book.

I think when I grow up I'm going to finish like Jane.  She always brings in the most scrumptious stuff.  This is a Stacy Nash club piece from 2017.  The velvet heart slips inside with the needles for safe keeping.

Mary finished and framed her Cherry Hollow Farm Sampler.  I know you've heard it before but my cell phone picture just doesn't do it justice.  If this one isn't in my Stash Wish List it should be.

Let's not waste the title of this post.  Below was my current progress on Yuletide last Sunday a week ago.  You can see my little change for Santa.  Sorry, Santa, I really do love you, but jut not for this project.  Family and friends would not be surprised by this since I can't seem to follow most recipes either.  I've decided to fill in the banner :-(, and this week I decided to change "This work wrought by me (my name)" and turn it into some sort of Christmasy verse.  

So who is Santa's stand in?  Why, it's Polly Brown from Eszter's pattern of the same name (Sub Rosa Design).  Polly is the next to be stitched, but she pinch hit for me a little early on this one.  Her face is the same DMC color as Santa's, but golly she looks rather ghostly.  That's it!  I've decided she's the Ghost of Christmas Past from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  It seems like all my "Welcome" stand ins have to have a story before they can stay.  If you choose to make my changes Polly will have to be stitched  one strand over one.  

I feel like I've been living in Marly's world (Samplers and Santas blog).  Do you remember when she was re-doing her kitchen?  Nothing seemed to match or be what she expected.  Well, six years ago I ordered the eight peg shelf with antique cherry stain.  I was so impressed by the color and next to invisible grain.  I was so excited to have it's twin arrive for the dining room.  Until . . . . 

Until I opened the package Monday and found this.  I'm not a fan of obvious grain and my heart just sunk.  I'm still mulling over what to do about this one.  They will return my money, credit my account or make a trade within the first 30 days.   The rub; I had already decorated that shelf in my head.  If I thought I would get a shelf like the one above I would trade in a heartbeat, but I don't think that will happen.  Stay tuned.

Onward and Upward to better things,  For me there is nothing more challenging than moving from one pattern sheet to anther.  Several years ago I decided to make a copy of my original and cut and paste it together.  This way the design evenly flows from one page to the next--as if it were printed on one page by the printer.  This really reduces stress and mistakes.  Below is the back of my copy of "Yuletide Welcome".  Just believe me when I tell you when I finally did this my life got MUCH better.

Progress on the left.

Progress on the right.

Progress on the border.  Oh, what a beautiful sight.

Like Betty,  I ran out of a color so decided to finish the green portions of the border early.  It was good to have that done before The Gathering.  Since then I've been stitching in the brown flowers/berries on the border a little at a time.  It's been interesting what has happened to my stitching experience since then.  Instead of being anxious to get done I have been excited to watch the design grow.  I'm stitching at a steady pace, but there is no frantic need to finish--yet. :-)

Before I say goodbye I want to share this month's offering for my framer.  God bless that woman! We probably went through 12-15 frames before we finally settled on something simple.  I found one that I loved, but the price was out of my preferred budget.  Back it went, but Polly is much smaller, and I'm hoping those two will work out when the time comes.  Without further ado, here she is.

Brenda Keyes
The Sailor's Wife
Wichelt-Permin linen, 32 count, Lambswool

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Things Remembered

Y'all, I'm flabbergasted.  My framer called at the end of business on Saturday and said my cross stitch was finished.  Wow, that was pleasantly quick.  I'm in love with the frame.  The picture just doesn't do it justice.

The Sampler Company
Brenda Keyes
Over The Hills Sampler
Wichelt-Permin linen, 32 count, Antique White

Here is a shot of the other two colors of the same frame she posted on Facebook.  I think it's much easier to see the depth and shape of the frame here.  Yes, like you, all I get is Facebook until I pick up my new finish Tuesday afternoon.   I'm not too sad though.  It's enough to know what the design looks like framed.  I think that's what excites me the most when I drop off a design.

I still don't have a place to put it yet.  I've ordered another Shaker Shelf for the dining room (like in the picture below).  Those take about 8-10 weeks to arrive once I've placed the order.  It's on this Shaker Shelf I will be placing my newly framed piece.

Mom always sends a little money for my birthday, and this last May she kept her status as the best ever gift giver.  I purchased this cobweb broom--something I've wanted a while. Not only are they beautiful, but in my woodsy neighborhood we get our fair share of spiderwebs from time to time.   So the broom isn't just a "pretty face". :-)

This girl loves to spend money wisely, and the company from which I ordered the shelf  and broom was giving a 20% discount on orders if I bought any oval box.  Well, no one had to twist my arm :-).  I purchased the smallest painted box they had.  I love it, and look forward to building my red, yellow, blue and green Shaker box family.  For now, the blue box looks pretty where it is but might also get used as a box for thread clippings. 

The larger boxes came from my husband as a Christmas gift.  Last fall I was helping Mom clean out the back porch.  This meant I came home with some very sentimental items like cookie cutters from my childhood.  Many Barefoot Sanders cookies were made with these cutters during the fall and winter holidays.  Of course I needed storage.  Eureka!  Why, I could use Shaker pantry boxes, of course!  "Honey, I know what I want for Christmas."  This box is much bigger than it looks, and my burgeoning baking cabinets where happy the cookie cutters had some other place to live :-).

The top box in the stack hid my Mother's Day gift from our son.  My son and I share the love of dark chocolate, so it wasn't really hard to know what would thrill my soul.  Sadly, the box is now empty.  Probably just as well-lol.

Speaking of Mother's Day. . . My husband did incredibly well.  He gave me this new design, Polly Brown, with the called for fabric and threads.  I'm in love.  Okay, you got me.  I ordered it with his blessing. :-)

Eszter of SubRosa Design is an amazing designer from Budapest, Hungary.  I'm in love with her patterns, and I love that they are digital downloads.  They remind me so much of Stacey Nash.  

You can find a better photo of this design here in her Etsy store.  

The fabric and threads came a few days later from 123stitch.  I did change the pinky reds to a deeper red.  There are a couple of colors missing because I already had them in my stash.  I know the lighting is terrible, but believe me.  The colors are absolutely divine.  Of course, I'm dying to get started, but in true Judy fashion I need to wait until I have finished Yuletide Welcome--sigh.

Here is the shelf where Polly will live during the summer.  She certainly will be more at home than the bunnies.   

I've now realized these ceramic rabbits, my grandmother made my mother when I was a child, are not in the best spot.  Here, you see one of Abigail's favorite cat toys that undoubtedly sailed over the stairs and landed solidly on the shelf below.  I may or may not have caught the yellow bunny calling realtors the other day.  It might be time for a pre-summer move.

Two things I happily thought would be true about Yuletide Welcome.  
One, I would skip stitching in the banner.   Two, there would be no design changes like Ghoultide (Autumn) Welcome.  Well, I will definitely be filling in the banner-bummer.  Sadly, I couldn't wrap my brain around Santa, so guess who's made a design change.  I love the change I have chosen, but to get the new motif to fit, my needle and thread will be stitching over one on 32 count.  Stitching over one, how I love thee [shaking my head "no"].

I'm about half-way through my Couch to 5K (3.1 miles) training plan with Heidi.  We are greatly blessed to have a mostly tree covered Greenway in my area.  It makes running in the hottest part of summer even possible.

But even with the cooler route I will need to begin putting on the cooling vest on Heidi now that it's above 80 degrees.  At some point I'll need to bring her collapsible water bowl with us, but right now she drinks while I stretch and start the air conditioning in the car.  :-)

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.