Thursday, September 05, 2019

Crafting in a Sea of Change

I saw a Grumpy Cat meme the other day that summed up my current life situation: 

In the midst of a work environment that had become toxic due to a terrible supervisor, I applied for a new job earlier this summer.  And I got it!  I'll still be a librarian, and still at a community college, but it is about an hour away from where we currently live.  Which means buying a new house...and selling our current house...and packing...and...and....and..... ARGH.

We're about 2 solid days of packing and cleaning away from being completely ready to list our place - I suppose we COULD list ASAP, but we don't have any pictures for the agent to create the listing.  If it sells at the price point the agent seems to think it will, we should be in the market for something quite nice (not super-fancy, but that's okay because that isn't my style anyway!).  It is just all this hurry-up-and-waiting that is making me crazy.

I walked into my basement craft cave, which I've been steadily stocking and creating in for almost 10 years, and wanted to cry.  SO.  MUCH.  STUFF!  Part of me says, "get rid of it, you'll NEVER finish it," while another part of me says "...but that is such an awesome Crafty Plan!!  Keep it!"  Sigh.  And it is so nicely organized, too.  I do have one big box of old patterns that I don't intend to keep, but I just don't know if I have the time or patience to list them all on a stash site.  They may be donated, I just can't decide!  But in my flustration (yes, that's what I intended to type), I had to sit down and Make.  Here's the result -
Another half doll.  This is GPA's "Alayne" pattern, first published the December 2012 issue of The Gift of Stitching (I think it is available as a stand-alone pattern now).  Again, I used a different doll, and used dark green floss where the pattern called for black - since my doll's bodice had a bit of green in it.  The variegated is Romy's Creations "Nougat Blue" as called for, and then DMC gold metallic.  The assembly for this one was bit different from the one I put together, and I think my doll's base might have been a bit more petite than the pattern was designed for.  No matter, I know where the flaws are but I don't think they are terribly visible!  And the pins I just threw together from my bead box.

All my ladies, posing together with my in-progress Seaside Angel!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Too Hot to....Stitch?

Is that possible?

Yes.  Yes it is.
"It's Hot!" poem by Shel Silverstein
Especially this past weekend...100+ degrees Fahrenheit (that makes it about 38 Celsius), humid, and absolutely gross.  Also, our living room AC unit - an old wall installation, not central air - died last week, and I just got on the contractor's schedule to have central air installed.  Of course, that didn't help at all over the weekend!  (It will be a bit pricey, but I think it will be worth it.  Even if we move, it will be a nice selling point.)

I DID stitch something - I fished a small kit from Celebrations of Needlework out of my stash.  Here is "Into the Deep Blue" by the Primitive Hare.
There were some buttons to attach as "bubbles," but I thought it made everything look a bit crowded, so I left them off.  Obviously the handful of beads is just scattered there for photographic purposes!  I did add the little bead in her hand - I liked the idea that she had a bit of treasure in her grasp.  I also already have a finishing idea, but just need to sit down and assemble it.

Back in early July I dropped off a piece with a new-to-me framer.  The price wasn't terrible, and I think he did at least as good a job as the chain craft he seemed quite knowledgeable about what to do and what not to do with needlework.  The frame selection wasn't huge, so I don't know how often I'll use him, but it was a nice experience overall.  Here's the finished product - 
This is Dragon Fire Designs' "Once Upon a Time" pattern, from the April 2005 issue of Just Cross Stitch.  I'm amazed that I actually STITCHED it (and finished it!) in April of 2005, too!  LOL  The fabric is Sugar Maple Fabrics "Jewels" linen.  I remember thinking that when this was done, it looked like Hogwarts at sunset.  I let my daughter paw through the Bin of Unfinished Finishes to pick the piece we'd have framed, and I wasn't surprised when she settled on this one.  I also was not surprised when she zeroed in on the purple frame.  :)

One final find to share - I was at the thrift shop on my monthly poke-about, hunting for interesting frames and other doo-dads to re-purpose for finishing, when I found this.
It is crewel, not cross stitch, but it is just pretty.  The framing is perfect, and I think it has a wonderful timeless feel to it - especially impressive after I turned it over and saw that someone had written on the back "Christmas - December 25 1978."  (I giggled that they felt the need to clarify that Christmas was on December 25.)  Unfortunately, the stitcher didn't sign it anywhere that is visible.  However, I'm still pretty sure it wasn't a mass-produced thing, in part because of the date info and also because there is a sticker from an old local frame shop on it.  Either way, I like it, and it now hangs in my guest bedroom!  I don't typically feel the need to rescue needlework - I know that tastes change.  Heck, I think I've donated some of the things I've stitched myself, simply because they didn't suit my decor and I didn't want them anymore.  I get a little annoyed when people think that everything that ends up in a resale shop was discarded as trash.  If you find it and love it, great!  Take it home, hang it on the wall, turn it into a pillow, make a scrap quilt of Found Needlework, whatever.  In the end it is all just Stuff, and we can't treasure everything forever...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Jo's "The People Choose.....Finishing!" SAL

I haven't been terribly motivated to stitch lately - I blame the horrible heat.  We've finally caved and are seriously investigating having central AC installed!  But Jo's theme for this month was Finishing, and I DO love (or hate, depending on how well my skills match up with my mental picture) my finishing projects, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

My first finishes were standard frames - I also started out stitching larger projects, so the concept of a "small" was very foreign!  My framing adventures began in the early 2000s.
"Marsh Marigolds", from an old issue of Cross Stitch & Country Crafts, stitched on Aida and framed for my mom

"Woodland Sampler" by Something in Common, stitched on a gray hand-dyed evenweave
Then I started experimenting with sewing, and learned to make pillows.  Some of the first ones were a bit wonky, but I've gotten better over time!  Here are 2 of my favorites.
JBW Designs "To the Sea"
Little House Needleworks "Moon and Stars"
Ornaments grew naturally out of pillows (although it took me quite some time to figure out how to make laced ornaments in different shapes and such).  Finishing ornaments is actually quite fun for me, as long as I'm feeling inspired and have the right fabrics and trims on hand.  Which could explain all the craft stash.... LOL
one of my favorites, a Heart in Hand Santa that I stitched for my niece
I have tried to stitch an annual ornament for my daughter, but haven't quite kept up.  :(  I fell off about 2 or 3 years ago....but who knows, I might catch up eventually.

Once I found smalls and figured out ornament finishing, I really let the creative ideas run wild.  There are so many interesting ways to attach and display a flat-mounted piece!  I know there are a lot of bloggers and Flosstubers out there who show off amazing finishes, so I'll try to keep this short.  My favorites usually involve 3-D embellishments of some kind.
Tim Holtz assemblage clock with a teeny bear inside
Prairie Schooler design in a shadow box with trowel and embellished daisies

And of course, the mermaids.  I don't know what it is about mermaids that I love so much - maybe it is as simple as the colors?  But these projects always make me smile.
"The Little Mermaid" from a Danish kit, finished in a shadow box with minis

Shepherd's Bush mermaid sampler, finished in a lighthouse with a flamework glass mermaid I acquired while vacationing in Cape Cod

"Miranda", a pattern/kit from White Lyon Needleart
So there you have it, a taste of my finishing style.  I really don't mind finishing, it is just finding the time and inspiration to DO it that bogs me down sometimes.  If you want to see more of the things I've made, just click the "finishing" tag in the column on the right side of my blog!  I didn't even include any of my re-finished jewelry boxes in this post, but you can see them there.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Natty Meets Her Sisters: a Celebration Check-In

This past weekend was my annual vacation to attend Celebration of Needlework in Nashua, NH.  It has been a decade (wow!) since my first visit, and every year I have too much fun (and spend too much money...).  I didn't take a lot of pictures, but I DID grab this shot of Natty and her sisters!
The large doll she's standing next to is Norma June, the pattern that was my inspiration.  As you can see, Natty is NOT as demure as she!  Also, on the left side of the picture is what looks like a smaller version of Natty's mold.  Someone on Facebook asked about how I got the full look to Natty's skirt - as this picture shows, it is primarily a result of the height of her cone body and the circumference of the skirt.  Natty's cone was a wee bit shorter than Norma's, and you can see how that changes the look of the skirt.

So, what did I buy...
1) despite the high cost of most of the GPA's half doll heads, I found one that I could afford.  This is "Sonja" by Brier Rose -
- who will be used with this pattern - "Little Dutch Girl" by GPA.  I have the right count/color linen left over from Natty's apron, and I picked up a blue floss that coordinates a bit better than the one charted (my doll is also a bit deeper blue than the one pictured above).
I like her because she reminds me of my daughter.  <3

2) I also bought GPA's "Raffaellesco" kit, which included the beautiful silk and the Deruta bead.  Totally impulsive, but so pretty....and marketed as "make your own Game of Thrones sewing set"!!  Couldn't walk away from THAT.

3) I picked up a couple pieces of fabric from Silkweaver - it is so hard to pass them up when they are right there to be looked at and fondled in person.  I've discovered that I have a weakness for some higher count fabrics - I seem to have purchased at least 2 pieces of 40-ct.  Thank goodness for my magnifier!

4) There were some new vendors there this year, one of them being Joseph's Workshop.  They make beautiful laser-cut wood pieces!  They had needleminders, thread palettes, small frames and hornbooks, and lovely ornate boxes.  And we all know how I love boxes...
This is the "bird box."  You could add a piece of stitching to the top or the inside...or both!  So I have one now.

5) Speaking of boxes, Susan Greening Davis had a larger-sized Shaker box, like the 2 I purchased (and finished!) last year.  This one didn't have an included pattern, but that has never stopped me before.... no picture of this one, but it is gorgeous.

6) There was a new vendor with buttons and trims, too - and she had the coolest "inspiration bags."  I got a wee bag of red, white and blue beads (envisioning some patriotic sorts of finishes), and a bag of purple trim bits.

I think that was about it....oh, I purchased Kathy Barrick's "Good Intentions" pattern, as I've looked at it every year, picked it up and put it down, then wanted it when I got home.  And since it seems that Olde Colonial Designs may not be selling their beautiful frames and wood products for much longer (Bob had a serious stroke, so everything is unknown at this point), I bought a frame that will fit the finished piece.  

My biggest thrill of the weekend, though, was the Saturday night dinner.  I donated an item for the silent auction, and I was worried it wouldn't be well-received.  I shouldn't have worried!  My package was one of those boxes that looks like a book (it happened to be a mermaid), filled with 7 mermaid patterns, some finishing trims and beads, a piece of Sunny*Dyes hand-painted fabric, a copy of "The Mermaid Handbook" which is just fascinating and beautifully assembled, and a hand-made scissor fob and needleminder in one of "my" boxes.  It was bid up to $275!  I was so excited.
(pardon the somewhat blurry picture...I was trying to be quick and subtle!)

So that's my Celebration 2019 in a nutshell.  I'm already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May I present...Natty.

So-named after the sassy daughter of Captain Long John Silver in the novel, "Silver: return to Treasure Island."  While I still love GPA's original "Norma June" design, this little half doll just seemed too sassy to be a pilgrim!  So after I finished her underskirt, I started thinking about changing the basket of flowers on the model's apron to something more....adventurous.  I had originally purchased a compass rose charm to use in her chatelaine, but I decided to stitch one instead.  The basics of the pattern are from a 1980's design booklet by Studio M called "The World of the Ancient Mariner," and I used my own colors.  In addition to the Valdani "Blackened Teal" and Dinky Dyes "Merlot," I also used WDW "Aqua" and The Dye Is Cast "Gold Rush," plus a dark brown for the backstitching.  I absolutely love her!

For those who are curious about the assembly - I found it pretty simple.  The base is a styrofoam cone.  I didn't like the scratchy feel of the styrofoam and the way the linen caught on it, so I wrapped the cone with some cotton quilt batting.  You probably wouldn't have to do that...  I also back-stitched the vertical seam and assembled the skirt much the way you would a biscornu.  For me, that was the easiest way to guarantee the stitching at the bottom lined up properly, and the skirt "cone" stayed the same diameter all the way up!  The apron and the little pocket are all hemmed with Fray-Check, which was a bit fiddly but simple enough in the end.  Natty's "chatelaine" is a tiny copy of  "Treasure Island" and a wee map in a bottle, hung from a piece of a broken necklace that serendipitously had some coordinating beads already attached.

There you have it!  I always finish projects like this and wish I had taken more "in-progress" pictures...

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Time to get dressed

My sassy lady is almost ready to assemble (I still have to stitch her apron)!  I'm just holding this together for the picture - the "poof" of fabric behind/to the left of her should lie a bit differently once I get the skirt fashioned properly.  I'm also thinking about wrapping her styrofoam cone lower body with some cotton quilt batting, because I don't enjoy the way the skirt fabric sticks to the styrofoam.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Jewelry box #...7, I think?

I just keep finding these...

This was a pretty battered old jewelry box - again from Goodwill.  It cost me about $3.  I sanded it, applied 2 new coats of varnish and some polyurethane, and replaced a really hideous piece of tapestry with this little Sheepish Designs sampler.  It wasn't quite the right dimensions, so I added some crocheted (purchased, not made by me) lace trim on either side.

I also cleaned and re-finished the inside.  The right side was divided into 9 little squares, with cheap velvet-covered board.  I pulled all that out and made a new liner and padded bottom.  I left the ring holder, but cleaned it thoroughly, and I used a piece of matboard to hide the laced back of the top.  The twisted cord is 2 colors of floss from my unlabeled stash - stuff that my dad finds and auctions and such.  And I used the rose to hide where I impatiently cut the join spot.  LOL
I think this one turned out pretty nicely!  And I really DO need to find a way to sell or get rid of some of these....there's no way I need 7 jewelry boxes (my mom did buy 2 - one as a gift for a friend and another to donate to a charity auction - so I guess I only actually have 5.  Still.).