Sunday, August 02, 2020

Finishing is my coping mechanism

An internet friend of mine passed away very unexpectedly last I've been crafting (and plotting new home decor, thanks to Wayfair).

Here's a little jar wrap, using a Lizzie Kate piece I finished years ago and a jar I picked up at the thrift store for 79 cents.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Well, THAT wasn't what I intended...

Earlier this summer, I found out that my LNS will be closing soon.  <:(   Beginning today, all patterns, kits and fabric are 25% off, and flosses are 15% off (as they get closer to closing, the discounts will get deeper).  So I wandered in...and wandered out a few dollars lighter...but with new pretties.
That is Shepherd's Bush "Spooky Spots" (it is a full kit, and I've had my eye on it for a while!), Just Nan's "Sirens of the Sea" with beads, and SamSarah's "Shining Star."  I also got floss and fabric for the SamSarah pattern.

Stitching this summer has been going in fits and spurts.  Some days I want to do nothing but stitch, other days I just feel so beaten down that stitching just isn't worth it.  Ugh.  Oh, and on my last post Maddy asked if I was on Instagram - I am now, under the handle "ewfrenchknots."  Feel free to follow me there!  But don't worry, I'm sure I'll still blog.  I like writing, and blogging just feels nice.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Representation Matters

This spring and summer, there has been a lot of talk about diversity and representation - and the lack thereof - in the craft world.  Now, I've always felt that cross stitch and needlearts are very much a hobby of "Nice White Ladies."  And since my designs of choice tend toward fantasy and fairy tales, I've never had a problem finding patterns of fairies, princesses and mermaids who look like me...but I found myself wondering, "why AREN'T there more fairies, princesses and mermaids who DON'T look like me?"  I mean, jeez, they're creatures of magic and imagination, not historical portraits!  So I'm going to try to stretch my comfort zone a bit and look for patterns that are different.  I'm also thinking about changing skin tones on one of Mirabilia's free mermaid patterns, to create something more along the lines of an African Mami Wata spirit. 
Information/Exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Now, y'all know that I'm probably the slowest, most easily distracted stitcher on the planet, so it may be a while before you see any progress on these ideas, but I'm putting my thoughts here to keep myself accountable!
In the past months, there have been a few diversity-themed SALs out in the online world, and I joined the #representationmatterssal and stitched a free mystery pattern from Lindy Stitches.  When the final section was revealed, I wasn't sure how much I liked it...and then I learned that the design inadvertently spoke to some racist language of the past.  The designer handled it with class and sincerity, so I don't blame her at all - and she also released a revised pattern that turned the creature in the pattern into a dinosaur or dragon of sorts.  Well, I decided I wanted a different dragon, so I went my own way!  Here's my version of Lindy Stitches "Onward Noble Steed," stitched on 32-ct. SMF Shimmering Morning Meadow lugana (yes, that was in my stash for a looooong time!).  I also used Romy's Creations "Winter Violet" for the little girl's dress, GAST "Chives" for the dragon body, JP Coats 5-A for the dragon's wings (something from an old stitcher's stash that my dad found for me at an auction), and added little purple beads in the girl's hair.
I'm no Teresa Wentzler, that's for sure, and to me the wings still look a little too jagged...but I think she's cute nonetheless!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

The Conclusion of a REALLY BIG Summer Project

I know that summer is really just beginning (although with this new Pandemic Lifestyle, who really knows what month/day/hour it is anymore?), but my kitchen/dining room remodel is complete, and I'm celebrating!

When we bought this house we knew the kitchen needed help - we didn't realize just how critical that would be until we were moved in and experienced the kitchen after sundown.  DANG, it was dark.  And cramped.  And every day I used it, I hated it more.  So the project began about 2 months after quarantine, and was completed by a team of 2 guys.  I can't speak highly enough about their skills and their professionalism.  They showed up every day on time, told me what was going to get done, and explained what happened if there were problems.  They had a few mishaps - for example, they gouged the new flooring when they were moving the stove in - but they told me about it and fixed it at no additional cost.  As with all home improvement projects, there were a few unexpected costs, but they were fair and honest (like repainting the back door, and removing some ugly louvered doors down to the basement rec room space).

Not sure if anyone is really following the whole saga anymore, but here are a few pics of my new kitchen/dining space.

Here's the kitchen end of the room - don't mind the dishes in the sink!  (We had mini meatloaves last night, and it is faster to wash the muffin pan by hand after that rather than put it in the dishwasher.)

My favorite thing in the kitchen is the little "breakfast nook."
It really is beautifully light - just my camera overcompensating for the window in this shot...

The dining room.
I know, there are many shades of wood there!  The table was one my dad refinished for me years ago, and I don't want to get rid of it just yet.  The chairs that came with it were small and really beaten up - they were painted an off-white, but were really kind of nasty.   My daughter and I tried sanding them, only to find MORE layers of hastily applied paint.  It was a very frustrating process.  And then I saw these 4, in a lovely "berry red" shade, on sale on the Wayfair here they are.  And the little stand in the corner was something I got at an auction years ago.  It isn't as light as the table, but it isn't as red as the chairs.  Hmm, maybe I need to refinish that??

And yes, just to keep this post stitching-related, there IS a piece of needlework there...on top of that little 4-drawer stand...
...I "framed" the little Mani di Donna piece in a rustic shallow box that I found at a thrift store some time ago.  The pitcher and bowl were from a student potter at the college I used to work at, and the doily was one my grandmother had (made?  I'm not sure).  What can I say, my decorating style will probably always be "Eclectic Clutter."  :)

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Small for June

I actually have a small this month!  This is "New Hampshire Woods" by The Workbasket.  It may have been a limited edition kit, but I'm not sure...I AM pretty sure I picked it up at Celebration of Needlework sometime over the past few years.  The kit came with 35-ct. linen and the materials to finish it as a bookmark -- I was just crazy enough to stitch it on 40-ct. instead and finish it as an ornament, and then remembered this little fish photo holder (each fish has a little grabber clip on it's back).  I added the shells to keep the stitched piece from sliding away, and ta-da, a finished finish!

Of course, I made some changes....from the top down:
- I added my initials and date
- gave the mermaid French knot eyes, and stitched her arms/chest in a flesh tone instead of the charted green.  Used an over-dye (Romy's Creations "Camouflage") instead of the DMC green charted.
- sailor has French knot eyes (he had NO eyes in the pattern!).
- modified both the mermaid and the sailor to have necks of a sort...
- both the boat and the tree trunk are an over-dye - Crescent Colors "Brown Sugar."
- added some light "beams" to the light house.
- the lady in the widow's walk was charted in the same flesh tone as the mermaid and sailor's face.  This was unsettling....did women often stand on the widow's walks in the nude?!?!?  I decided "no," and stitched her in a pink dress instead.  (Six Strand Sweets "Mulberry Wine.") I also did the entire house in blue - the pattern used gold for the rectangular side - and stitched the windows in gold as if the house was lit from the inside (the pattern had all the windows in gray). 
- I stitched the willow tree in the same over-dye that I used for the mermaid.
- and finally, I completely left out the, I think?...that was between the lighthouse and the willow.  He was just too much for me.  And he looked like a crossroads demon dog.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Life in an HGTV show

(Well, not really, but it certainly has felt that way for the past few weeks!)

Back in February, we started calling contractors to discuss our kitchen plans.  We found one who we trusted and who quoted us a reasonable price (NOT the company that came in at $35,000...really, what was he thinking?!?  That is almost a quarter of the purchase price for the whole house!)  We picked out the cabinets we wanted, ordered the countertops...and then Covid happened.  With both of our jobs in limbo - and my husband was temporarily furloughed - it didn't seem smart to move forward with a remodel.  But, after we got our federal stimulus check, my husband returned to work, and my job seemed pretty secure with a work-from-home arrangement, we decided to go for it.  After all, we had budgeted for it from the sale of our old house, and our savings will be relatively untouched.  So here goes, in pictures:

1) First, the old kitchen/dining room.  Both rooms were approximately 11' x 13', divided by a partial wall and with entrances to each room from the hallway/entry.

 Hopefully those 4 pictures give you an idea of the layout.  My biggest issues with the space were the lack of light and the limited counterspace.  The stove was right next to the refrigerator (there was one slim trash can between them, but no counter or place to set things), and the drawer to the left of the stove wouldn't open all the way because it bumped into the oven handle.  Everything felt messy and cramped.  There was also limited cabinet space, and no pantry or convenient space to store even a little bit of food.

So we started knocking down walls.

The kitchen side of the room.

Looking into the old dining room.

3) And where we are now! (I took this picture while standing in the "dining room" end of the space)
We closed in the entry that was next to the fridge (in the second pic above), and basically moved the fridge down to that space.  That opened up about 4 feet, which was enough to move the stove down a smidge and create some clearance for drawers.  We also put in a lazy susan corner, where previously the cabinet just extend back into the corner and was just about unusable.  And finally there is one base cabinet with a counter between the stove and fridge - just enough room to set the milk carton down or make a sandwich without using the range as a counter!  And all the glorious light!  There are 13 LEDs in the soffit, 8 under the cabinets, flush mounts in both spots where the hanging lights were, and a pendant over the sink.  The counters are actually in now, and my contractor is downstairs tiling the backsplash (white subway tile) as I type.

So that's what's going on, and why all of my craft room - on the other side of the wall behind the stove and fridge - is covered in drywall dust.  I'm thrilled, but tired of eating microwave food and takeout....

Sunday, June 07, 2020

To Commemorate the Quarantine

I finished this little piece last week.  It is by Mani di Donna, and the chart included the wooden button.
"Lady Simona's Sewing Box"
I used all of the threads called for from Romy's Creations except for the red - there I tweeded 2 shades of DMC.  I also used a different style of letter for my initials (the chart didn't include a full alphabet, anyway, and I didn't want to stitch the "S.B." that was charted).

I think I have a small box the right dimensions to mount this, but right now my craft room is a mess thanks to a nearly-finished kitchen remodel!  Everything is covered with drywall dust, and there is a stove and fridge in the middle of my space...  LOL

Finishing is my coping mechanism

An internet friend of mine passed away very unexpectedly last I've been crafting (and plotting new home decor, thanks to Wayfa...