Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in Review

I'm not one for "resolutions".  But last year around this time, I decided that in 2010, I would really try to grow my needlework skills, both in trying different techniques, and trying my hand at not just designing my own creative needleworks, but actually following through on a few of them.  I love traditional cross-stitch and will never leave it entirely, but being exposed to some beautiful art quilts and needleworks over the last few years had really whet my appetite for expanding my own creativity, and seeing where I can go.

I started the year with my first stumpwork, a beetle from Jane Nicholas' wonderful book.

And in the spring I took an online design class from Sharon B of Pin Tangle, which was fantastic and resulted in these projects:

In early summer I designed a sampler for my cousin and neighbor:

The heat of summer brought out wild ribbons and sparkly things on sea creatures.

In the introspection of fall, the sparkles and spangles became imaginary worlds, based on tiny details of reality.

Somehow, some traditional cross stitch snuck in somewhere.

"Bertie" sampler by Needleprint

And even a little quilting.  (Only little ones though)

And along the way, I managed to see some beautiful places along the way and share them with the ones I love.


For us, 2010 was really a great year, and for that I am most thankful and lucky.  My 2011 goal is to continue the streak...and make some more imaginary worlds in thread.  

I hope 2011, for you, is productive and happy, and that you find what you are looking for.   Happy new year!

Finished trilobite sampler and free pattern #3

I squeezed in another finish!  My first little three-trilobite sampler.  I need to find a gray slate or stone frame for this.

I am enjoying building my little trilobite library but it's slow going, what with the ADD-like nature of my stitching whims and inspirations.  The first two in this series are Phacops and Anomocaroidea.

This little third one is Asaphida Ogygiocaris.  Cute, huh?

I've stitched this little sampler using HDF silk in colors "Primitive Barn Brown" and "Primitive Barn Bunny" on which are very complementary to the light gray and brown mottling of the 36 ct. Silkweaver linen color "Rock Quarry".  As you can see I took inspiration from real gray and brown trilobite fossils from my own collection. 

In the interest of science education and encouraging our small community of scienc-y stitchers, I have been posting the patterns for these little dudes.  If you would like to share these freebies with others, please do so, but please forward them here and do not copy or sell the patterns. 

To save, right click on the photo above and when it loads, right click again "Save picture as" and save as you like.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New scissors -- Stocking Stuffers from Santa

Santa Claus knows what I like. 

This cute, shiny little bunny pair is Italian-made, sold under the "Tooltron" name.  I suspect I know how much Santa paid for these and I must say I am pleasantly surprised by the quality, they are a good value for the price (around $10).  The blades have a satisfying smooth snip and the polish on that bunny is perfect.

Sitting next to the perfectly polished rabbit pair, this Mundial Chanticleer pair looks a little dull, and the action is a little stiff.  But on their own, they are rather charming!  I suspect this pair will be one that gets put in the collection, but is not going to be a "go-to" pair for actual use.  Cute, though! 


Monday, December 27, 2010

51 down, one to go

Whoo.  We had a wonderful, low key weekend that I sorely needed. I hope your holiday weekend was just what you needed as well!

 I've got a little work to do this week, but I've told the office that I'm trying to take vacation and I'll see out the few things that need done by the end of the year, but otherwise I'm not going to take on anything new or respond to requests that aren't urgent or essential. 

We'll see how that works out. 

So other than that, my main plans for this week are playing Lego with the kids, internet shopping for the things I didn't get for Christmas, and stitching.  I still want to finish at least one more WIP this year, and I should whip up a couple thank-you cards. 

This is part of one of the pieces I want to finish this by the end of the year, but I don't know if I'll quite make it, what do you think?

This is the almost-finished bottom piece for DK Designs' hanging garden Brazilian Embroidery pattern.  I've got the top piece about half done, but not ready to show it to you yet.  I think I can finish the stitching, but the assembly is what I'm not sure about...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Today is Christmas Eve!

The presents have started to gather under the tree, and the kids have practiced their reading on all the labels...

The stockings are hung.

DH is giving me the gift of vaccuming the floor right now.

Because of all our various illnesses, very little baking was done this year, and the pie we are taking to the family gathering tomorrow will be store-bought,
 but we are still managing to pull together our traditional Christmas Eve fondue dinner tonight.  YUM.

 And, I am under strict doctor's orders (the pneu is threatening to come back) to REST as much as possible, so as far as I'm concerned, that's Doctor's Orders to STITCH!

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A little forest on a little biscornu

A little biscornu forest.

I didn't have a chart for this, just winged it.

Mystery HDF dark green floss on 36 "flax" color linen

Monday, December 20, 2010

Working on a Sunday

WIP, Renato Parolin "Bosco di Bengtsson"

I had no choice, it had to be done, *someone* had to go do that site visit at the ocean.  Because the husband was too sick yesterday to take care of the kids, and the site in question was thankfully not an industrial site or some other unsavory place, I packed up the three of us and off we went. 

I will spare you a picture of the actual site in question, it was just a foreclosed hotel building, vacant and paint-by-numbers.  But the kids did have a good time helping me look for "mystery pipes", and this was the view from the top floor.

Not too shabby.

And of course once we'd seen what was just around the corner, off we went.

It was gorgeous, sunny but freezing wind.  You can see how the kids are bundled up.  But I have to admit, I think that hour or so running around on the beach with that brisk wind did more to recuperate us from our various illnesses than the whole previous two weeks of house-bound quarantine.  Amazing how that works.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Fantasy Garden in Copper and Navy

My second December finish! 

I loved putting this one together.  The colors are delish, and the variety of stitches I chose kept it interesting, and of course the BLING.  All pictures are clickable to a larger version.

The general outline was from an antique drawing of an I-don't-know-what (jellyfish?) in Dover's "Ornamental Forms from Nature".  I love that book but really wish they'd label the artwork.   The orientation of the what's-it in the book is the other way around, like this:

Materials used include Vikki Clayton HDF silk floss in "Primitive Barn Rust" and "Motes of Night", DMC cotton floss and perle, Rainbow Gallery metallic threads, a variety of beads including Swarovski pearls and bicones, Delica seed beads, sequins, mirrors, and jewelry spacers.

Stitches used include Shisha, buttonhole, star, cross, chain stitch, straight stitch, stem stitch.

If the sun ever comes out again, I will take truer-color pictures.  But I just couldn't wait to show it to you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pneumonia is the pits!

Did I mention how the boy had pneumonia last week?  As it turns out that stuff is contagious.  And, from first hand experience, it is also AWESOME (sarcasm).  But what is truly awesome is tough antibotics and cough syrup with codiene that once you start taking, you start to feel almost human again fairly quickly. 

Modern medicine = win.

In honor of not dying of consumption, a pretty picture:

Ahh.  Sunset at the ocean, March 2009. Nice.  Off to go procrastinate and recuperate through stitching...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gingerbread Kids

Last night was the boy's kindergarten class holiday performance, "The Gingerbread Kid Review".

He had missed a lot of the practices while he was out sick and didn't know the songs very well.  He didn't sing much, but I'm glad he participated, and near the end he got into it.

Little sister loved the songs and clapped along, under her "pretty quilt" the whole time. 

He was also so excited to show us his classmates' "Gingerbread Kids" they had worked on at home. 

The one he is pointing at has spiral pasta hair and raisin feet.  His is the one in the foreground with candy corn eyes, but it looks like someone decided to have a snack.  (ew)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bellpull (really) finished!


What I like best about this piece is that I've finished a project that Grandma was not able to finish, and how she will get to enjoy it.  She did all of the fruit panels a few years ago; I just attached them to the backing fabric (she wanted them finished into pockets, not easy) and did the border and finishing.

What I like second best about it is that it's done, and assembled, and packed in the box to be shipped. 
What I like third best is how with this kind of pattern, way up close it looks like nothing.  Just random colors next to each other.

But when you zoom way out it becomes a thing.

You can click that photo to see larger if you'd like. 

So, HOORAY!  Happy dancing around here, it would spill out into the streets if we weren't in the middle of a rain storm (3.5 inches of rain in past 48 hrs).

Off to work on dinner, then something more my style...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stitching during wartime

The other day I stumbled up on this book by Sheila Paine, Embroidery from Afghanistan (Fabric Folios).

I have several of Ms. Paine's wonderful books on world embroidery and textiles, but many of them are very heavy, coffee table-type books, which while wonderful, sometimes seem to inhibit a careful reading just because of sheer size.  This one is shorter and filled with beautiful photos, so I've already read it cover-to-cover. 

A passage in the introduction to this book really resonated with me and I've been pondering it for a few days.

"Embroidery must always be considered within the context of the lives and environment of the people who make it."
Of course for the embroiderers of Afghanistan, that has too often meant war and hardship.  

"The Taliban movement began near Kandahar in 1994 with the aim of creating the most pure Islamic state in the world.  Some of its quirkier laws forbade owning stuffed toys or flying kits; the more serious made it illegal for women and girls to attend school, to sing, to listen to the radio, or to work.  Without employment and confined to their homes, embroider played an even bigger role in the lives of these women and girls."
Wow.  Embroidery already means a lot to me, and I will be the first to admit that really, I am amazingly lucky to be living when and where I am-- I work, I play, my family is healthy and safe, I had a great education and have a great job, and my home, while modest by American standards, is a castle compared to those worldwide-- and if most of that was taken away from me, I can only imagine the importance of the small things I could still do to express my individuality and protect those I love, in whatever small way.

The book has many pictures of Afghan men and boys wearing embroidered work clothes.  Imagine the work involved in this man's shirt:

That's silk, using satin stitch, using counted thread technique, on a tightly woven polyester.  WOW.  I understand from this book that these types of shirts, while still common, are usually professionally made these days, but still, I send my husband off to work in cheap shirts from Target, that were made overseas in some factory. 

The little bookmark above, I don't know who made it or where it came from, it showed up in a collection of stuff from my grandmother, really reminded me of the colorful Tajik marriage tablecloth in a few photos. I think I'll keep it close.

Traditionally, many Afghan women would spend much of her time before marriage embroidering a large assortment of items for her trousseau, apparently embroidery for house and home is declining because of financial constraints and the difficulty of obtaining materials.  At the same time, many women are embroidering items for sale through aid organizations like Women of Hope.  I encourage you to visit their website and learn about The Embroidery Project, and click on the "links" button available to see retailers where you can purchase some of these items--I think there is still time to pick out a few Christmas presents.