Homespun Gathering

Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday Finishes

It is an absolutely gorgeous sunny day in Tennessee.  Temps will rise to about 90⁰, and with a current dewpoint of 67⁰ the lawn isn't likely to dry up in time for me to mow today.  Fiddler on the Roof tickets have most likely rearranged my mowing schedule.

This week was all about finishing up Sarah.  Incessant counting wears my brain out, so I decided not to count for the satin stitches in the border.  The idea was to find a point in the inside section, mark the reference with a pin and stitch the block of color only that far.  This worked really well, until a couple motifs were found missing.  Had I counted I never would have known.  Just goes to show you that even a methodical stitcher like me can miss sometimes.

Sarah Braizear 1829
Hands Across the Sea Samplers

Well, here she is in all her glory.  Sarah was finished last night, so all photos posted on Facebook and Instagram were taken with my phone.  Sarah and I went outdoors for a photoshoot this morning.  I thought my bloggy friends might appreciate the social media love.  It's my gift to you for hanging with me through thick or thin.

 Sarah Braizear 1829
Hands Across the Sea Samplers
36 Count Silkweaver Linen, Heritage
487 wide x 482 high
(27.06" x 26.78")

Sarah has really reawakened and deepened my love of antique and reproduction samplers.  Not all reproductions or antiques draw me in like Sarah, but many do.  

There has been a desire to create my own sampler for about 10 years now.  How in the world would I do that?  I'm not a designer.  I can't draw.  All I can do is make little Xs.  Over time I added to my knowledge of different stitches and bolstered my courage to try.

I still don't have a clue what I'm doing but I have a computer program I can plug a design into and a book to help me.  This spring I purchased an inexpensive book of motifs on Amazon to help me get started.  Many of these motifs have been copied down from samplers in private collections the old fashioned way.  That's right--hand written.   

As the book was published in the 1970s I think some of the colors were off on the back flyleaf.  Fortunately, Ebay has quite a few samplers at the moment of the era, and I've screenshot them on my phone for better color accuracy.  The photo below may look faded, but there are close ups that show beautiful colors--even a shot of the back.  I don't plan on creating anything anytime soon, but I'm closer than I've ever been.

In a world before television and internet I find it interesting that English and Dutch samplers share motifs (sometimes exact).  It's not surprising knowing the strong Dutch and English trade at the time.  Most of us recognize the peacock as a symbol of vanity, but the author gives so much more information about motif symbolism.  Mr. Peacock also became a deification in mythology, a symbol of kingly or knightly demeanor or a symbol of immortality.

For anyone wanting a personal copy I can easily recommend this.  Even if you don't stitch the history is rich while short and to the point.

Here is a list of what types of motifs can be found in this book.


The Dutch wording is a mystery to me, but the engraving is incredible as it shows the handwork of the day.  If we're not talking about needlepoint most needlework with floss done in this country is solely cross stitch, but at the time girls and men in guilds were taught many, many other stitches. I really do love the John Taylor quote at the bottom of the page.

My ancestors moved from The Netherlands to Norway, so of course I need a Norwegian sampler in my collection.  You may find Norwegian Sampler (1724) here.  The below photo is from The Essamplaire website.  Without online ordering I chose to use snail mail to Canada instead of calling.  Several weeks later I had my very own copy in the mail.  Like Sarah she's yellow.  Yellow just makes me feel so incredibly happy.  With a stitch count of  229 x 261 she's less than 1/2 the size of Sarah.

Here was the surprise.   If you stitch projects of any size you already know the trouble we stitchers go through to make a couple working copies to then cut and paste one to the other so we can see the chart as it goes page to page.

Not this chart.  Here she is fuzzed out in all her glory on our queen size bed.  Of course, I'll still need to make copies in manageable pieces, but I'm loving this wide format chart.

I do want to alert you to one thing in case you're interested in stitching her.  This is a handwritten chart from 1994.  The charted areas for satin stitches are vague compared to a HATS chart.  Having done at least 15,000 satin stitches in the last chart alone I feel confident in my abilities to stitch this one.  Stitches include, cross, satin, eyelet and a pinch of double running.

Summer was not what I had planned, but I think the rough patches are through.  I realized my identity had been stolen when I received a USAA credit card in the mail.  We are not members of USAA, and I hate credit cards.  Long story short  that account has been closed, no other damage, fraud alerts on all three credit reporting agencies and frozen.

Mom's riding mower needed attended to.  Let's just say getting it fixed took going through a big box home store.  I wasn't getting what I needed so I called the national number for help.  Funny how that seemed to fix stuff in a hurry.  All the stress from that finally melted mostly.  I still have no idea where it was taken to be fixed, but just going to leave that sleeping dog alone.

While the riding lawn mower was gone the brand new push mower Mom uses for the stuff around the house stopped working.  At the time the truck was still at the mechanics, so I mowed all the stuff Mom mows with our mower and part of what I used the riding mower for.   Transportation via my car's trunk.  I packed her mower in my trunk under the guise that Mr. HH would have more time looking at it at home.  He did via the commercial lawn people I found using Yelp.  So far they have fixed ours and hers.  The problem?  Too much oil--phew.  This local business is is honest, decent turn around times, reasonable pricing and excellent customer service.  Not interested in coming back for more than blade sharpening, but if I have to they are the first ones I'm calling.  It has been a fabulous customer experience.

This winter was a rough one--completely wakko.  Between incessant rains in February and considerably low temperatures all over the calendar map and closer to spring we weren't quite sure what kind of pears Mom would get on her 200+ year old pear tree.  I took this picture a few weeks ago, and I'm holding out hope.  I have a recipe I really want to try--variation on an English Apple Pudding.

Two weeks ago I deemed it Firewood Friday at Mom's, but I didn't tell her.  Saturday is typically the day she washes and sets her hair  so it's ready for church the next day.  Imagine my surprise when I show up 8:30 Friday morning and her hair is clean and in curlers  (insert guilty feelings here).  

Local and very delicious coffee.  The cup was refilled many times since I totally forgot my water bottle.

Felling trees is dangerous even if one is only felling them into a field.  I just asked that she stay until the tree fell.  No, not my Mom.  She worked with me the next six hours only taking time for lunch.  

Lots of prayer later the black walnut fell in the small area we asked it to missing the power lines coming in for the house.   The trunk is probably a 14" diameter at the trunk here.

I suppose he could have stayed, but he dropped oodles of walnuts every year, and I was tired of running over missed ones with the lawn mower.  Dulls your blade don't you know.

A sense of humor and a vivid imagination helps the job go so much faster.  Here I introduce you to Wally.   He'd like to know what you think of his grass mustache. :-)  Seriously, this is not staged I looked over my shoulder after making one of the branch cuts and there he was--lol.

Small branches make great kindling, but the supper little stuff gets hauled off to the woods in various other places.  Yes, black walnut is prized for furniture but only if the grain is straight.  Mom has an abundance of black walnut in good places and bad (like fence rows), so I don't feel so guilty about this one.

future kindling

Heidi wanted to come say hello and tell you she's been very busy protecting us from the men in big trucks.  They place menacing packages on the porch and no telling what harm those packages might do. 

We've come up with a rule.  If she goes to her "place" while I bring the package in she can sniff them until she deems it safe for the family.  Seems to work well.  Now, if we can just mute the EWBS (Early Warning Barking System)

Well, y'all, it's official.  I should not try to make lasagna and expect deliciousness.  That clearly is my husband's department.  Here is my latest effort on Father's Day.  I used no cook lasagna and the recipe on the back of the box (again . . . slow learner).  While it was edible it certainly wasn't my husband's.  He must have been really grateful or really hungry as he completely cleaned his plate.

It wasn't all bad.  I had started a no-knead cast iron bread the day before.  The low yeast requires a 12-18 hour rise time.  This gives it a bit of a sourdough flavor.  Used up the extra garlic butter from Papa John's.  No one but me seemed to notice the butter might have been better made with fresh garlic and real butter.  Counting my blessings, y'all. :-)

I am thankful for . . . 

a regular trash pickup service.
running lawn mowers.
a healthy body to take care of property stuff.

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


Monday, June 17, 2019

Stitching Progress

Why yes, Sandy, that was a sampler behind the roses.  I stitched this one in my Brenda Keyes period.  I did at least 10 or 12 of her designs/samplers.

Brenda Keyes
The Sampler Company
Heaven Doth Ask
in DMC on Mystery Evenweave

This week I worked on An 1840 Biedermeier Sampler by Needlework Press.  Below you can see where I realized I was just going to have to unstitch.  The the second line of letters was two rows too low causing the dividing line to run through the H.

Well, if I have to unstitch all the letters I might as well rework the color scheme so all the stitches show up no matter the angle of view.  These colors might have worked for the antique, but the called for linen just gobbles them up.  I used camera angle and lighting to help y'all see the stitches.

So out on my bed ALL my overdyed threads went.  The alphabetical order had been skewed a bit, so I got that fixed, and I left spots for new flosses I had acquired for this project.  It is my hope that this will be the last time I have to stitch this section.

I think it's time to go back to Sarah Brazier again.  This sampler has taught me so much about satin stitches.  As a first-timer I had no preconceived notions or bad habits to break.  I think every type of way I could stitch a satin stitch was on this sampler.  I'm stitching with DMC and have found the blue stitches far better than the yellows.  The width of the DMC requires two passes on 36 count linen if I'm to avoid a skimpy result.  Don't pull to hard or there will be rugged results.  Tension is much harder when I stitch horizontally instead of vertically.  Sometimes I cut out the stitches and started again.  Sometimes I realized the glass in the end would smooth a lot of things out.  In the photo below you can see the difference between one pass and two on the yellow banner.

Here you can see the tattered effect of the stitches stitched horizontally.  Don't mind the pin stitches on the left-hand side.  They are a fabulous way to secure floss in this process.

I gave up on trying to count how many stitches I would use to cover with a band of color.  It made more sense to find out where the color change would occur and mark it with a black pin.

Eventually, I got into a rhythm.  What I did learn is that satin stitches must be stitched in the morning.  It's a simple stitch, but requires a bit of visual and mental concentration.

I'm amazed what the this satiny border adds to this sampler.  Here Sarah is without it.

And here she is with the top and bottom borders complete.  As I type Sarah has already been turned 90 degrees in the frame, so I can stitch in the rest of the border.

A little over a week ago we picked up our F-150 that has been with our mechanic since October.  I thought this would be a great time to see if I could stitch on 36 count with MagEyes in the car.  I have good news and bad news.  The good news is I can see.  The bad news is that once we entered KY the roads were decent but too bad to stitch.

Shortly after returning home I couldn't help but notice the beautiful rainbow outside.  Sorry, y'all, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  It's our F-150 truck. Way better than a pot of gold if you ask me.  :-) 

Have you heard of the sweet little needlework shop in Weaverville, NC?  Sassy Jacks recently hosted the Bathya workshop.  This double sided sampler was taught by Nicola Parkman.  Kim, owner of Sassy Jacks Stitchery, put this on her FaceBook page as an option for stitchers coming to the workshop.  I think I will be purchasing the hoop and fanny stand for Dutch Beauty.  She really is such a big girl, and I'm not excited about stitching her sideways in my 36" frame.

Nicola of Hands Across the Sea Samplers taught this at The Attic as well.  Of course there was plenty of shopping in both places.  You can  see what she bought at both shops on the FlossTube videos on YouTube.  Here Nicola is showing a neadleminder and flosskeep with Jean Lea in the background.

Not exactly sure, but I think Abigail has a woobie.  I find this little black toy mouse in different places in the house.  Just before I shot this picture she got it out of the basket, brought it over and sat next to it.  It's a sweet, though odd, friendship.

I had intended to add a bit more to this post, but the Z Monster has me in a headlock.  I'll see you in the morning for more shenanigans.

I'm thankful for . . . 

Air conditioning
Our antique, but still running, truck

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


Sunday, June 16, 2019

School's Out for the Summer

Come on in, y'all.  I've made chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin bread.  It's the time of year that I get the decluttering bug.  The cookies came out of my America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two.  This recipe makes only 1 dozen.  Portion control really rocks here, and the cookies weren't bad either.

Where does the decluttering come in?  Right here.  I was given a pumpkin bread mix by another teacher last Christmas.  I loved the idea of a pumpkin mix, but my brain tends to go for recipes that require ALL the ingredients :-).   

My oven has been on good behavior until this past year.  I found out when I unsuccessfully baked a bundt cake.  The top was perfect, but the bottom was still batter.  I couldn't figure out exactly how far off it was without experimentation.  Oven temperature gauges are notoriously inaccurate, so I let the food tell me.   The bread was okay but a little over baked with a temperperature bump of 30 degrees F.  I've decided 25 degrees is the sweet spot . . . for now.  The electric eyes have issues on this range also.  They always have, but this family holds onto stuff until there is no hope.  It's a little like cooking on a wood burning stove from 150 years ago--very much an art.

I decided to finally burn the wood down that had been languishing in my firepit for weeks.  Most of it was chunks from the 1h 45m chopping session of just one of the logs from our former ornamental crabapple tree (front yard).  Let's just say that log was a bugger to split, but in the end the ax and I won out. 

This wood hates to start cold, but with a little old gas, a match and a nice southerly breeze we were on our way.  The smoke was rather pleasant after the gas fumes wore off.  No wonder people smoke with apple wood--pretty awesome.

Sadly, after 11 years the bottom is falling through.  Except for a few unappreciated weeds this was the last fire in Old Faithful.  I will probably pick the new one up this week.

To go with that new firepit, I've added an armless chair to the back patio.  Y'all know I stitch big stuff, so the arms on chairs are constantly getting in the way.  Finally decided to declare war on chairs with high arms, and this is what I found.  It is the perfect height and wonderful with the 40" wide frame I use.  Better yet I got it on sale.  DS has sat in it more than I have, but who can complain when your child is showing signs of loving the outdoors as much as you do. :-)

Stitching?  Did someone wonder if I'd been stitching?  Why yes, I have.  you will have to wait until the next post to see progress.  I've gone back to using my berry tote for a while, and I've really enjoyed it.

My local library has a way to stream audiobooks, and I love to listen while I stitch.   I won't ruin them for you, but I will tell you these two books have very engaging, quick storylines.  I doubt you'll be disappointed.

The last day of preschool came with craziness, an end of school sing and hugs goodbye.  I must admit. This is the first time as a teacher I've been given a dozen roses.  So grateful.  He's such a great kid, but he had so much on his plate.  I'm so glad we were able to work through the worst of it and set him up for success.   

Equally as beautiful was the single rose.

I will miss all my preschoolers next year, but I know they will do well wherever they are.

Of course there can't be an end of school without the End of Year Staff Game Night.  The directions were to bring a favorite munchie or sweet treat.  Not hard.  Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie, anyone?  Apparently southern girls see cast iron and this is what one is left with at the end of the night.  In case it isn't part of your culture, in the south it's impolite to take the last of something, so this is what I took home with me. :-)

Every year I have a birthday in May.  Every year Mom gives me money.  Typically, I purchase something like floss, linen, patterns, etc.  This year I went rogue.  I decided to get a (cross stitch pattern) stash chest.  Of course it will have to be made since they didn't have the color I wanted in the store, but it shouldn't be long now.  The chest is about the size of the green chest, but I've asked them to stain it red like the one above it.  Eventually, I'd like to have a stack of them, but let's take this one chest at a time, shall we?

I am thankful for . . .

primitive furniture

summer vacation

my oven--warts and all

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