Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daffodil is halfway there!

Seems like I just started it!

Since the camera is defunct and the camera on the phone sucks badly, I scanned it instead. So you'll have to excuse the scan, it's a bit... erm... squished/skewed. But you get the idea. :)

Sabrina doesn't fit on the scanner, she's just too big. So she'll have to wait until I have a camera again to be shown off.

While I try to decide what to start for New Year's Day, I decided to work on Romantic Rose Garden for a couple days. I'm a little over half done it, I figure I'll at least get a little more done before then.

I really don't know what I want to start - I thought about starting Growth Rings, and that's a definite maybe, just not sure what colours I want to use yet. And I thought about starting Midnight in the Garden, but again, not totally sure what colours I like for it. Or maybe another Mirabilia... but which one? Just too much to ponder.

Ooooh, I almost forgot, I had a lovely large envelope arrive, just before Christmas!! I had treated myself to some stash - well not really treated, it's work related, but still fun!! All the threads arrived for the rest of the flower designs (save the last one as I'm still not decided on what it will be!!), all the newest colours of silks from Dinky Dyes, Gloriana and Belle Soie (lots of ooohing and ahhhing going on) and some 40 ct Weeks Dye Works linen. Gorgeous colours, excellent for samplers - and it's not a bad linen. Not nearly as flimsy as the 30 and 35 ct they do. It's not as heavy as say, Graziano, but it's on par for thickness with Zweigart. Not as slubby as Zweigart though and a bit more even. Maybe my New Year's start should be on one of those? Then I can really review it better. :) For colours, I got Angel Hair, Parchment and Linen, and all are wonderful.

And a review... Bohin Needles. One word - wonderful. They're no more expensive than any other brand, just a little more difficult to find. I got mine from Anita's Little Stitches and they work out to be about the same price as what I like to call the "crappy brands" like John James and/or DMC. I call those crappy because they are. They eyes break and have burrs that shred your floss, etc. I got some of each of the 24, 26 and 28. The 28's are a bit longer than the 28 in Piecemakers, and I do prefer the length of the Piecemaker. However, these needles do feel really nice. Not the slightest bit of tarnish and I've used the same needle to do half of Daffodil so a couple weeks of use. Even Piecemakers tarnish a little in that time. The eyes are large and easy to thread, and very smooth. No shredding here. Will I trade in my Piecemakers and switch to Bohin exclusively? Probably not. I'd be happy with either or. They're both really wonderful to use. If I see Piecemakers on sale, I always pick up a few, but I do like that I can get Bohin's in bulk. Given that I just bought 150 needles though, I think I'm pretty well set for a year (or two, or three). lol For anyone still using John James or DMC needles, I really urge you to try one of these (Bohin or Piecemaker). You really don't know what you're missing.

Today, I'm labeling "stash enhancement day" as I'm taking a trip into Brantford to get Nate's contacts and I just have to spend my GC from Country Accents. Need beads for Sabrina, not sure what else I'll get today, but I don't think it will be a problem. I can ALWAYS find something I need!! I might kit up one of the Pixie Couture designs - I have them all and I've been wanting to start one. Or maybe the Bliss Fairy, or Petal Fairy... though I have fabric for those already. Hmmmm.... I'll definitely report back on what I bought. :) I'm so excited!! I haven't been to visit Brenda in a month!!!

Ooooh, and just a little addendum... I have the absolute greatest boyfriend on the planet. He got me all the Dexter series on DVD for Christmas. Does he know me or what??? :D

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Rush... almost over for one more year. It's almost time to sit back, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends. Okay so maybe not relax, there's still cooking, and visiting, and, and, and... but I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

One more day of work and then I get to enjoy 3 glorious days off. Mom and dad are hosting Christmas again this year, so I can de-stress and not have to worry about the turkey. Just dishes. lol

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A new journey begins

Kirsten emailed me last week to tell me that My Mother's Garden II had arrived safe and sound in Australia. PHEW! So excited for February now!! I still have a few letters to finish charting over the next couple days to complete the companion alphabet, but I'll work on those while I take stitching breaks. :)

I'm slowly on the mend from the bronchitis that has plagued me these past few weeks. Everytime I start feeling better for a few days, all of a sudden the sore throat and cough return for a visit. But I'm feeling a whole lot better over all.

I told myself that I would work on Sabrina only until I had a few days off work to get a good start on Daffodil, since one day here or there wouldn't make much of a dent. Well that time has come. After I finish my morning coffee(s) and play a few rounds of Zuma Blitz on Facebook (which btw is extremely addictive!!), I'll be pulling all my materials and getting started on Daffodil, which is printing as I type.

I was sort of putting it off as well since I have materials on the way for several other models, and if they got here before I was ready to start, I'd have to make a decision. I suppose it's good they didn't get here yet, it saves me the confusion of having to choose which one!

Sabrina had a good run - I finished the top half of the chart, and have only the metallic, white and light blue left to do on the bottom half - and of course all the beads. It's a lot of stitches yet, but they're big blocks and will go quickly. I might even pick her back up as soon as I finish Daffodil instead of something different. I'm so pleased with how she's turned out so far.

I'll try to post some pictures of her next post, along with progress pictures of Daffodil - my camera is dead, but I suddenly remembered that my son's phone has a camera on it. We'll see how that goes. Saving up for a new camera after Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting, waiting, always waiting...

I'm waiting with baited breath for my model to reach Australia... it was sent a week ago and of course I'm checking the tracking ten times a day. lol

After I finished it, I started a couple new pieces, but quickly tired of both. I think I was just burnt out to be honest, because they're both lovely, and both are normally something I'd really enjoy. I had started Rosewood Manor's Spring Quaker, and while it looks lovely (doing mine in Belle Soie on 40 ct Desert Sandstorm from Sassy's) I just wasn't feeling it. So then I started Ink Circles Turkish Delight and again, it looks lovely, but between the 55 ct Kingston linen (which isn't evenweave so the piece is slightly skewed and while it's okay for this one given it's not a square design, it still irks me a bit) and the SSR HDF threads I used which are a pretty colour but they're tangling and knotting like mad (I swear, something has changed in the past year, cause these aren't nearly as wonderful as I remember them being and they're really, really, really thin). So I put both away and figured I'd take a break from samplers for a while and pulled out Mirabilia's Sabrina that I had picked up at the LNS not so long ago. This was last Thursday. I'm almost done the top half of the chart already. Mind you the top half isn't as densely stitched, the bottom will take a little longer I imagine. I forgot how quickly these worked up!! Big blocks of colour, not a ton of counting, solid colours for the most part, so no having to follow dye patterns... I'm actually having a blast stitching her. I had intended to change her hair to dark brown, given she's supposed to be Audrey Hepburn, but I've been sick with bronchitis for the past couple weeks and just couldn't be bothered. lol Makes me kinda glad I kept collecting Mira's and Passione Ricamos these last few years even though I wasn't stitching them - now I just might finish a few of the dozens I have.

And if that wasn't strange enough - me stitching something other than samplers that is - I'm stitching it in DMC. I did convert the colours to NPI, but I really didn't want to order them and wait 2 weeks to start her so I just started (given I have tons of DMC here anyway). I know I would enjoy her more in NPI, but honestly, the DMC isn't driving me nuts yet. Suprised? I know I am. I think I just needed something totally different to combat the burn out. I'm giving her another week or so and then I'll be starting my next one, Daffodil, to get it ready for Nashville. By then I'm sure I'll be craving the feel of silks again. :D

While I'd love to post some pictures, at the moment I can't. My camera is suspiciously broken. It worked fine last I used it to take pics of the model for the Gift of Stitching piece, and the next day, Nate asks me if I had any problems with it (which of course I hadn't) so I'm guessing he dropped it and didn't want to admit it. The lens cover is all dented in and won't open or close so that would be the obvious answer. I don't know why he is so afraid to just say to me "mom, I dropped the camera, I'm sorry." I'd be upset, but I'd have a lot of respect for his honesty. This is annoying. I was planning on buying a new one after Christmas anyway, so it's not a tragedy so much as being a nuisance not having one for now.

And now off to work. Counting the hours until I can come home and stitch again. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some updates :)

Well I'm stitching my little heart out on the piece for The Gift of Stitching magazine. I've got 3 more pages to go and then it'll be winging it's way down under. I figure I can tell you what the super secret project is now as Kirsten posted a peek on her blog!! I have to admit, I'm totally stoked about this! I can't give you too much information, given it's a mystery design, but I can tell you that it's a huge, colourful band sampler.

In other news... my model stitcher sent me a progress update on Tulip. This is another in the flower series, and I'm so pleased with it so far! This one is being stitched in Belle Soie silks, again on Magnolia fabric. Not the greatest pic, but it's done with a camera phone. lol

I have to admit something. It's incredibly weird seeing my stuff stitched for the first time by someone else! The is the first time I've not stitched the model personally, and even though it looks lovely, and I totally trust that my model stitcher will do a beautiful job, I'm having a hard time with it. Not sure how to describe the feeling. I'm a bit of a control freak, so I guess that gives you an idea of what I'm feeling.

Once I'm done stitching the model for TGOS, I'll be starting on another of the flower designs, probably Daffodil, since I already have all the materials for it. I'm getting together a rather large thread order for the rest of them though. In all, there will be nine designs. Yes, nine. I'll be a busy girl for a while I think. ;)

And I'm off now to make some dinner. Stuffed peppers tonight, been craving them for ages!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Online Needlework Show

The fall 2010 Online Needlework Show is now open!!

Forget Me Not and Hearts Entwined are featured on the European Crosstitch page, and there are lots of lovely new designs from many designers!! You WILL be enabled. :)

If you do see something you just have to have, take a look at the retail shops area to see what shops in your area are participating - pick your favourite shop and they can order anything you see featured in the show.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

With Regard to Copyright

I've read a lot of brouhaha about this blog:

What I don't understand is, why?

No one is asking anyone to police the internet for us. We're asking that if you see an infringment in your travels, drop an email and tell us about it. You don't have to give your name, an anonymous email is fine. If you don't want to use your current email address, create a free account on gmail or yahoo to do it. That's fine too. We can't be everywhere all at once and see every site that this happens on. Point us in the right direction, or tell us about a site we didn't previously know about. That's literally all we're asking.

Please point out to me how it is a bad thing for needlework designers to want to protect their hard work? We put a lot of time, effort and money into designing, model stitching and producing a chart, so of course we're upset when we see people stealing what we've worked so hard to create.

If you were in a needlework shop and you saw someone stick a chart into their bag while they thought no one was looking, you'd tell the shop owner wouldn't you? How is this ANY different? Theft is theft. Period.

I've seen some things posted that made my brain hurt trying to work out how they'll help the problem. A centralized distributor? Sure it would make charts more widely available and from that standpoint it would be a great thing. But to stop copyright infringement it won't do a bit of good. Why? Because people will still take their freshly printed chart home, scan it into their computer and upload it, just like they do now. Going to encrypted electronic files? Again, what will change? Nothing. People might not be able to upload the pdf or pattern file directly, but there's nothing to stop them from printing it, blacking out anything they don't want anyone else to see, scanning it back in and uploading it anyway. Not to mention that selling only electronic files only is a sure way to put needlework shops out of business, and that is not something I'd want to see happen.

The best way I can think of to combat infringement is that all designers start selling print only charts, and that all charts are printed on copyproof paper. Yes it exists. It's watermarked and when scanned or photocopied the watermark shows up black, clear as day. This nullifies the ability to scan and upload any printed chart as the chart itself would become unreadable. Period. It also nullifies the ability to make a working copy, which would anger a lot of stitchers. Of course there are still work arounds, someone patient enough will re-chart the whole thing and upload that - happens all the time - but at least it would slow it down a bit. Infringing in this manner is a lot more time consuming. The downside of copyproof paper is that it would dramatically increase the cost of the printed chart. Some investigation into this technology shows it to be about 10 times the cost of plain paper. So is it really a feasible option. Probably not.

Other suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a relaxing week!!

So nice to not have to get up early!! Stay up as late as we want, sleep as late as we want... that said I'm still up by 7:30ish every day, but it's a far sight better than getting up at 4:30!! And I've noticed this past few days - no headache, no backache, no sore knees, no sore feet, shoulders don't hurt as badly... obviously it's all due to work. Concrete floors and flourescent lights and repetitive motion are bad. Relaxation is good. Not that I'm sitting about all day every day, we've been quite busy actually.

Had a quick visit at the LNS earlier in the week, would have like to stay longer, but I always feel guilty when I'm not alone and others have to wait for me. lol I did pick up a few things - the new Rosewood Manor charts from market - which are gorgeous btw - and some Kingston linen. Everyone thinks I'm nuts but I really CAN see it just fine!! I of course brought Forget Me Not with me to show off, though I stupidly forgot to bring the new one I'm working on. Will do so soon. I'd really like to be able to visit sort of once every couple weeks - even bring a piece in with me and work on it for a little while while I visit. Must start making time to do so. I also got to meet a couple more stitchers, though with it being such a quick pop in, I didn't get a chance to chat for long. :(

Also did a bit of shopping this week, and got new shoes!! Just have to post a pic cause they are sooooo cute. The great thing - also very dangerous to the bank account - about having a hubby who works in a shoe store is that I can get the latest and greatest of just about anything I want for basically wholesale price. :D Aren't these fun? I know my mother will roll her eyes and tell me I'm almost 40 and shouldn't be dressing like a teenager, but hey, it keeps me young! Gotta have fun in life right? Also picked up the new Doc Marten catalogue - the company was sold and they haven't been produced in a while, but they're finally making a comeback. Since my oxfords and boots were retired a year or so ago, I think I shall need to invest in some new ones. :)

I've also been working away at the new design and making wonderful progress. First two pages complete and I'm trying to use this holiday time to get in lots of stitching. Sort of one day to stitch, one day to wander about with the MIL. :) Today is my stitch like mad day, just thought I'd ramble a bit while I take a coffee break.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Strawberry Sampler

It's been an interesting week. I was typing away at an email on Monday, and all of a sudden I hear this click and I saw something inside my computer case fall. I looked in and the heatsink had actually come away from the motherboard and landed on my graphics card!! Of course on seeing this, I immediately reached for the power button, but too late. Black screen everything shut off due to overheating.

Took it all apart, and it turns out that a little plastic lip on the bracket that holds the heatsink in place had snapped off. Seriously??? 15 year of tech support and I never, ever, saw anything like it. My biggest fear was that it had damaged the graphics card, the CPU had melted and/or shorted out the motherboard and damaged everything else.

Well after several hours of looking for the replacement part - which would have been easier if I had known what the bloody thing was called. It's a "heatsink retention bracket" and not a "plastic thingy that holds the heatsink on the CPU". Anyway, I found one, and Newegg, as usual, had it out and in my hands in less than 48 hours.

So last night Jon put it all back together - I let him do it, I was so frustrated I was afraid I might break the new one - and we fired it up. Obviously, since I'm typing this, it all works okay.

The good thing about having no computer - well no decent computer anyway - is that you can get an immense amount of stitching done when you're not surfing. lol

In stitching news, my fabric arrived for the new secret design, and so I shall be starting it momentarily. But I thought first I'd post a picture of what I've been working on in the meantime, Sampler Cove's The Strawberry Sampler.

I'm torn. I want to keep working on it!! It's so pretty! But I'm on a deadline for the new one, and I'm really excited about it. Specifics - using the called for 36ct Magnolia linen from Lakeside Linens, and most of the called for fibers except I changed the greens as previously mentioned.

And now off to start a new adventure!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just some random ramblings :)

I started stitching my next design, but after some discussion with others, we figured it was better to do it on a lower count. It's got an awful lot of over one stitching in it, and we feared it might frighten people away on 36 ct. Soooo... after some urgent, immediate attention emails (lol) 32 ct fabric is ordered, and additional threads are on the way. :)

While that will leave me a bit pressed for time as far as getting the model done in time - not terribly, as I have holidays for two weeks starting in 7 days!!! excited!!! - but... it left me a few days to relax and just stitch for me.

I couldn't decide what to stitch! I was so excited at the prospect of a week or two of downtime that I was overwhelmed by my choices! I could have been a good girl and started on Daffodil, the next in the flower series, but hey, it was found time! Should I start Time Well Spent, which is kitted up and ready to go? Should I start Wallace/Robertson, also kitted up and ready to go? Turkish Delight? Growth Rings? Bramble and Rose? Spanish Blue? Again, all kitted, all ready to stitch. Or I could work on any one of my multitude of WIPs... but after all my hard work on Forget Me Not, I wanted a new start.

I decided I wanted to stitch something with red. Don't know why especially, but I was craving some red. And since I had this lovely piece of 36 ct Magnolia that was already out and was no longer going to get used, I decided to use it for it's original intended purpose - Sampler Cove's The Strawberry Sampler. I'm stitching this one almost the same as the model, except that I've changed the greens, because I had a whole bunch of greens from the Renaissance Green NPI range on hand. I really have to hand it to Diane. Her choice of colours is fantastic!!! If you like specialty stitches and band samplers, this one is a definite must have. No pictures today, I'm not that far in yet, but I'll post one when my materials for my model get here and I switch it out. :)

And in other news.... the reason for my holidays. My mother in law - well future mother in law - is coming to visit! I'm so excited. I miss her terribly, we haven't seen her in two years. We both always have good intentions of visiting more often, but it's not always easy to just hop on a plane and fly 3500 miles, is it? We're not planning on doing a whole lot. Maybe a day at the zoo because it's so pretty there and she'd enjoy that. And visiting with my parents and brother of course. Dinner out and some wandering around town maybe. But it's more just to get together and have some down time to relax and just see each other!! I've promised to teach her to stitch. :) I've had supplies here to send her for ages, but she wanted one on one lessons. lol

Not much else to report today, just a bit of rambling. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Release - Forget Me Not

Yep, as promised in the last post, Forget Me Not is done! Have just sent the chart off to the distributor, so it will be available shortly. As always, it will be available directly through my distributor's website, European Cross Stitch, or through your favourite needlework shop. The model was stitched in Gloriana Silk floss on 40 ct Magnolia linen from Lakeside Linens. As always, I've included a DMC conversion. And for the first time - since this is my first piece that was cross stitch only - I've also included a stitch count for each colour, so that you can calculate how much floss you'll need, no matter what count you're using!! And another first - this is my first design that is suitable for any type of fabric - linen, plainweave OR aida. Hope you like it!

And now I'm off to start stitching on my new, "super secret" project. No sneak peeks of this one will be shown, everyone will have to wait until the new year to see it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some WIP pictures to share

But this time, they're not mine!!

I'm so proud to present these, I get so excited to see stitchers' interpretations of my designs!!

This week I have 3 pictures to share. All three are of Hearts Entwined, and all three are in entirely different colour palettes. And I love them all. :)

First, is Bhooma's start. She's chosen to stitch Hearts Entwined on 40 ct French Vanilla Linen from Sassy's Fabbys, and is using Hand Dyed Fibers in a limited edition overdyed Quince, Examplar Spinach Delight and Haystacks. It's lovely with a very rich and rustic feel to it. I can't wait to see how the deep red pink works up in the centrepiece!

Next up is Rianne's WIP. Rianne has chosen to stitch her version on 40 ct Fog from Picture This Plus, using Hand Dyed Fibers in Winterberry 1425, Rubbed Blue Green (which may be a limited edition, it's not available through the catalog as yet), and a combination of Examplar Fleckstone and BeLaced for the border. This one has a very cool wintry feel to it, and I love how the Fleckstone/BeLaced gives an antique lacy feel to the border.

And finally, Heather's version of Hearts Entwined is stitched on 38 ct Nacre from Gander Linen, and she is using Hand Dyed Fibers in Quince 1411, Primitive Barn Green, and Examplar White Chocolate. Heather stitched this over the weekend AFTER shoulder surgery, and her needles are still blazing. Heather will be adding in extra lines of text to the piece to make it into an anniversary sampler - I can't wait to see how it comes out!

My next blog update will be to show off my finish of Forget Me Not - almost there now, I'm hoping to report a finish/release by the weekend - time permitting of course. I have half the outer band to finish and I'll be done! After that, WIP pictures will be ceased for a little while as I begin work on a super secret project that will be revealed early next year. I'm seriously excited about this one and can't wait to dive head first into stitching!!!!

And now I'm off to stitch my little heart out on FMN - day off tomorrow and I shall be stitching, and stitching and stitching!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Something odd worth mentioning...

Silkweaver Fabrics was recently bought by Needleworker's Delight, correct? Anyway, I was perusing the Silkweaver site today and noticed a major pricing discrepancy I thought was worth a mention here.

On the Silkweaver site, the price on fabrics is significantly higher than it is on the site for Needleworker's Delight. For example, the price for a fat quarter of overdyed Newcastle linen on the Silkweaver site is $26.00. On the Needleworker's Delight site, the same fat quarter, available in the same exact colours is $22.50. This gave me pause, so I investigated further. The price difference is notable in every single fabric that is available on the Silkweaver site.

So in other words, they have not only given what was once a good company a bad name and reputation, but they're now price gouging people who still order in good faith from the Silkweaver website. I find it a bit off when the same company is charging a different amount on two different websites, simply to cash in on the Silkweaver name. Why? Because the majority of people who order, will go directly to the Silkweaver website, it's what they've always done.

Check it out for yourself if you're curious.

Silkweaver website is here. Needleworker's Delight is here.

Please pass this information along to other stitchers. If you still love the colours, order from the Needleworker's Delight website instead. You'll save yourself a few bucks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

I'm done with my test stitching, thank goodness. Bored now.

I think I'm pretty much settled on colours for the whole flower series now. :) And the results are:

Top pic is on the scanner, and it's a bit washed out - makes the greens look a bit grey. The second pic is in natural daylight and it's a little dark. Actual colours are somewhere in between!

Forget Me Not - obviously I'm using the Summer Sky, Narcissus and Leaf Green.
Daffodil - Narcissus and Summer Foliage. Like the way the Summer Foliage makes the Narcissus stand out.
Tulip - not shown here as it was decided long ago without testing - one of those love at first sight moments - it's BS Tulip and Beanstalk.
Daisy - really love the Carnation/Creme de Menthe combo. It really makes the pink pop!
Rose - this is a real toughie. Has to be a very deep forest green for the leaf colour. Both Elizabethan Green and Collard Greens are perfect in that respect. Rose of Sharon, while beautiful, is out. It doesn't stand out enough against the dark green. So it's Rosebud or Carmine Rose. I like both combos. Rosebud/Collard Greens is more in keeping with my "vision" but I so love the pop of the Carmine Rose... what to do!
Violet - Easiest decision of the day - after test stitching Ultra Violet, I went no further. Awesome, perfect, wonderful. Now the green... I really quite like it with the Avonlea Green. There's a nice balance between the two.
Iris - another I'm torn about. It'll either be Purple Paradise with Kiwi or Purple Night Sky with Leaf Green. I'm leaning towards the second combo, simply because I love the subtle variegation on the Purple Night Sky so much - it just doesn't show well in either pic. AND because my son walked by and said "I don't know what you're doing, but I like that one!"
And finally, Marigold - was settled without any other colours being stitched. Lasagne/Collard Greens. LOVE this combo. It's actually closer to the photo in daylight.

And now with all that said... I finally have a picture for my gallery! YAY! A dear friend, who wishes to remain nameless, has sent me a WIP picture of Celtic Leaves. She is stitching on 40ct HDF linen using a conversion to HDF silk threads. It's got a nice soft elegant feel to it and I can't wait to see more pictures!

And now with all that said and done, I'm off to do some stitching of my own! I decided English Whitework Sampler needed some love and attention. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Halfway Happy Dance

Just pulled Forget Me Not off the q-snaps and snapped a quick pic before putting it away for a couple days. In celebration of reaching the halfway mark - well actually a little more than halfway if I'm being technical about it - I decided to do my test stitching for the remainder of the flower series. Then I'll probably work on some personal stitching for a few days. Not sure just yet what that will be, I'm torn between working on EWS and RIR! But for now I'm going to bury myself in purple, orange, pink and green silks!! WOO HOO!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Progress on Forget Me Not

Not as much as I'd hoped, but I haven't had as much stitching time as I would have liked either.

2 weeks in and I'm not quite halfway. It's coming along well though, I'm very happy with how it's turning out! At this rate, I should still have plenty of time to get it all ready for the October online needlework show. :)

Anyway, enough preamble, here it is:

The colours aren't exact to the photo, they're a bit brighter in real life.

In other news... I'm now debating my colour choice for Daisy. My first instinct was to use a baby pink (because white won't show up on the fabric!!) and that's how I did the mock up. Then when I was picking colours, I came across Belle Soie's Rouge - beautiful, deep fuschia - and thought, why not? So I ordered that one. Now I'm thinking I really should have gone with the light pink. So when I reach the halfway mark on Forget Me Not this week, I'm going to test stitch some more for Daisy. Because a lighter pink may not work with my chosen green. Hmmm. And that means finding another use for Rouge, because it's just too pretty not to!

AND, I've finally started a Facebook page. I've had a personal one for ages and ages, but I figured it was time to start a Northern Expressions page. Mostly for "in between" blog post updates. lol

And now off to model stitch some more before bed. The nice thing is that I have two short days this week (6-1) and TWO whole days off so I can stitch lots! :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

And on to the joys of being a designer

Ahhhh... model stitching. This has cheered me up immensely and reminded me exactly why I wanted to design.

One of the greatest joys as a designer is seeing it all come together. You spend hours on the computer, drawing, twisting and turning motifs. Then you spend hours with thread and fabric samples test stitching and picking out what you hope will be the ultimate colour combination.

Finally, the day arrives. Fabric and model threads arrive in the mailbox, and what was once only in your imagination starts to take on a life of it's own. You can finally stop wondering, "did I pick the right blue? Is that green going to be too dark?"

What is especially wonderful, is when the colours are even better than you'd hoped, and the fabric sets them off so perfectly that it surpasses anything you could have imagined.

It was a tough decision picking which would come first, but because it was the first design in the series that I completed on the computer and the first one I picked out threads for, AND because the Summer Sky from Gloriana was just so spectacular and screamed "stitch with me!!" I decided to start the series with Forget Me Not. It is being stitched on 40ct Magnolia from Lakeside linen, using Summer Sky, Narcissus and Leaf Green.

I figured while I had the camera out, it would be a good time to update all those WIP and finishes that I drone on about but never show you.

The finish... I think this is the only recent one I've not yet posted a picture of. This is Jardin D'Jour from Needlemania (with a little help from Diane Jourdan of Sampler Cove). It is stitched on 40ct linen from Hand Dyed Fibers in the natural white colour, using Hand Dyed Fibers BePopped and BeMused, which are lovely together. It looks a bit squished, and that's because the fabric is NOT an evenweave. In one direction it appears to be 38ct, in the other it's more like 42ct.

English Whitework Sampler is from Needle's Prayse. I love this design, and so far it's been a fun stitch. Not a cross stitch in sight, so it's a nice change from everything else I'm working on. I'm stitching it on 40 ct Ivory Ricamo linen, which was probably a bit of a faux pas, since the linen is very dense and hard to pull, but it is turning out lovely. I'm using Hand Dyed Fibers Perle #12 and Premium weight threads in Examplar White Chocolate. I wanted something with a little more depth than solid cream. It's a little hard to see since it's tone on tone, but the textures are lovely in it.

Next up, Rhapsody in Red by Sampler Cove. This spectacular design is being stitched on 45ct Ivory Florence linen, using Plymouth Red and Crimson silks from Carrie's Creations threads. As you can see, they're pretty close to the original colours, which was what I was going for, I just really wanted to try these threads! I'm so glad I did, because they are truly lovely to work with. I'm very excited, because I have a whole set of them winging their way to me now to pick colours for a couple future models. :)

And of course since my rotation never includes only one Sampler Cove design, here is Enya. This little beauty is stitched on 45ct white Florence linen using Waterlilies Mediterranean and Azure Skies. While I love how the Waterlilies stitch up, I do have one complaint that I really found apparent in these two colours. The colour repeats are much too long. One complete cycle of variegation is over 1 yard long. So you have a choice, you can cut multiple strands and work from more than one at a time, or you can work with one very long strand, or as I did, you can work with your normal 18" length and just be happy with the colours not balancing out perfectly. I'm still very happy with how this is turning out, but I would have liked better it if the colours flowed into one another more frequently.

I do have one other Sampler Cove I've worked on recently, but I didn't finish much of it before I switched it out. This is Tuscan Rose, which is stitched on Sassy's 40ct Hayfields, dyed on Ricamo linen using Hand Dyed Fibers threads. I find lately I can't work on this one for long stretches like the others. This batch of threads is very odd. I have older threads from before the switch that are lovely to use. I have threads that were produced in the interim while Vikki was deciding on a manufacturer and getting them perfected which are nice as well. And I have recent threads which are wonderful too. These, on the other hand, are extremely thin, moreso than any others I have gotten. And they just won't flatten out on the fabric - even on this fabric, which after washing is more like a 44 ct, they don't give very good coverage. And for some strange reason, they insist on twisting back upon themselves constantly, causing them to knot and fray and causing me to gnash my teeth and swear. It is lovely though, and I'll finish it eventually because it's too pretty not to.

In the same category as Tuscan Rose is Rosewood Manor's Great British Sampler. It's beautiful and I love how it's turning out. But again, the threads are strange, just like those above. Not surprising since they were all ordered around the same time. Anyway, this one is also stitched using HDF, on Lakeside 40ct Chantilly Cream. While I do love this design, the colour use isn't very effective. There are lots of places where a colour is only used for a couple of stitches, and could just as easily have been done in another colour which is used more. And there is a bit of confetti and fractionals and backstitch, but it will all be worth it in the end because it is a wonderful design.

And I did some work on Alpine Garden, which I'm stitching in the called for colours (for the most part) on 35 ct HDF linen. I love how this one is turning out. It's been a bit of a challenge for me, the chart isn't the greatest to read - a lot of symbols which are very similar to one another and no grid count along the edges, and some issues I had with the backstitch sections have made this less than fun at times. But all in all, I'm extremely happy with it. It stitches up much quicker than you'd expect for the size of it.

And finally, I don't know if I ever did post a picture of this so here it is, Ink Circles Cirques des Triangles. I'm stitching this one in an assortment of Gloriana silks, over one on 28 ct black (obviously) jobelan. It's such a fun design, and it's so a joy to stitch something so bright and cheerful. :) And I do so love over one on 28ct. Having an absolute blast with this design.

And just one tiny vent today. It's Friday the 13th and I live in Port Dover. If that doesn't mean anything to you, I shall explain briefly. Every Friday the 13th, our town is invaded by bikers from across North America. I think the last time we had one in summer was in 2008, and we had well over 100,000 people in town. I heard on the radio this morning that they were expecting closer to 200,000 this year. That's a lot of people for a little town like this. The webcam view of downtown looks like a sardine can already and it's not even noon. While this is wonderful for the town and the local businesses (the ones who stay open anyway), it really isn't much fun for residents. We get to spend about four days (from Thursday to Sunday) sleep deprived due to the constant drone of bikes, all of which have had their mufflers removed to make them louder, the all night parties and loud music... Add in to that the fact that we can't actually get around ourselves, because they close half the roads to cars and if you do need to go anywhere - like a job! - you have to have a special pass to get through and still can only take certain routes which are backed up for miles with traffic. It is fun, I will admit, to go for a wander through town and see all the neat bikes and mingle with thousands of people, but after the dozen or so I've attended, it's now sort of a been there, done that attitude I have towards it and I'm praying for Monday to arrive soon.

And now back to my model!! Ah, happiness is. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

The pains of being a designer

I hope you don't mind if I vent a bit. I know I do that an awful lot, but It's not something I can vent about to my family - they don't understand. So I rely on my stitchy friends to listen when something in the world of needles and threads is on my mind.

A friend brought my attention to a message board post, ranting about the materials designers use, and suggesting that designers are being paid to promote expensive threads and/or that we don't live in the real world.

Are you kidding me?

Would you tell a painter what kind of canvas or paint to use? Probably not. Can someone explain to me, what's the difference? Is what we do as designers not artwork?

I use what I enjoy using. I enjoy using silks. If I did as the people in that thread suggest, I wouldn't be a designer. Heck, I wouldn't even be a stitcher. I have a huge selection of threads to choose from, and when I pick a colour it's because to me, that colour is the absolute perfect colour for that part of the design. I test stitch like mad to determine what I like best, and I go with my heart when selecting the colours, in other words, the colours that make me fall in love with the design. I don't simply lay threads on fabric and say that'll do. I agonize for ages about what the perfect choices are. They may or may not be your favourite threads or colours, but this is a creative hobby. If you don't like them, but you like the design, you can change them to whatever you are happy with. I include a DMC conversion where possible, and if none exists, I'll suggest a colour in keeping with the overall theme of the design. Better still, you want to switch to something other than DMC? Drop me an email. I'm happy to help as best I can. If you want to use something I don't have on hand, I'll drive the 45 minutes to the LNS to do a comparison for you. I've done it before, I honestly don't mind. That said, I'm not required to do conversions, but I happily do them, because just as I'm addicted to silk threads and love using them, I understand that lots of people don't feel that way and are just as happy to use DMC or cotton overdyes. Or that some threads aren't as easily accessible as others, so I'll help in any way I can.

I do not get paid to use certain brands of threads, and I do not know anyone who does. Some of my model threads I get free from the dyer, some I pay wholesale price for, and some I pay retail price for. Fabric I pay retail or wholesale for. It depends on the brand I go with. Does the cost to me determine which one I use? Absolutely not. If something is the best colour available, I don't care how much it costs me to use, simply because it IS the best colour available for what I want to do. Period.

I DO live in the real world. I have invested a lot of my hard earned money on thread samples for test stitching. I have complete collections of several brands of thread on hand for that purpose, that I paid for. We live on a budget, yet I manage to do it just fine without running up the credit cards. If I want something badly enough, I'll save my money to get it. Why do I do that instead of just using cheap stuff? Because I don't enjoy the cheap stuff, I don't even use it for my personal stitching, so why would it be a consideration.

Would I sell more charts if I charted with DMC? Possibly, but that doesn't really matter to me, I have fun creating in my own way. I'm sorry, but DMC doesn't inspire me. I have a more or less full time job (30-40+ hours per week) and I do my designing in my spare time. I couldn't even consider giving up the day job, I'd starve to death. Income from designing goes straight back into the business on thread and fabric samples and materials for future projects. If I have enough left over, I might pick up a chart or a few threads for personal stitching, but most of my personal stitching stash comes from birthday or Christmas money. If I don't frame a model, it's because I can't afford to pay to have it done and still get stuff for the next model. I barely break even on what I spend on supplies and colour palettes so it's a choice of kitting up the next couple of designs or framing the current one and I opt for kitting the next one. I don't actually get paid for my time to create, model stitch and chart a design unless I sell hundreds of copies so maybe in five years I'll get paid for my time.

So why do I do it? Because it's fun to do and I enjoy it. When I read things like this, it totally turns me off, and I can understand why so many designers go out of business. You need a very thick skin in this business which I don't have, so I don't know how long I'll be able to do it. It's heartbreaking when you release a design that you have spent hundreds of hours on and you love with all your heart to hear nothing but complaints or nasty comments. But those comments when people say they love it do make it worth the effort. And regardless of whether anyone bought my designs or not, I'd STILL do it, because I enjoy doing it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

For the last few weeks I've been glued to the computer. With the temperatures climbing well into the 30's and humidity into the 40's it's just too hot to stitch much.

So what HAVE I been doing? Well, I've been finishing up a bunch of designs I'd started on, but hadn't finished. I've got 2 in the flower series ready to stitch (materials ordered), 2 more almost finished (materials ordered), 4 more started, and a new band sampler almost finished as well - spent the last four or five days on that one almost exclusively, and it's really starting to take shape, thanks to some friends for their help on dimensions and ideas. I really wanted to keep this one fairly narrow, a stitching friend of mine has problems with her shoulders and can't stitch anything too wide. She helps me out with so much, that I wanted her to be able to stitch at least ONE of my designs! I've ordered thread samples for this one too, and will definitely be diving into it as soon as they come. I can't decide on colourway for it, I may need to enlist some help with model stitching, so one of us can stitch the bright colourway, and one of us can stitch the more muted sampler colourway. I've also been hard at work researching antique lace patterns and converting them into cross stitch/specialty stitches for another new project I'm designing. So lots of new stuff coming. :)

It's been a bad month otherwise. I'm looking for a new job - somewhere where I'm actually appreciated. Long story short, after 3 months of hearing that they were waiting for authorization to fill the full time job at work, they filled it. And not with any of us from the department, store, or company, but someone from outside the store entirely. This after me spending months putting in overtime, taking extra shifts, giving up days off (including a weekend away for my birthday that we'd already paid for and missing my cousin's wedding). Since it happened I've taken a lot of time off work. I just don't care anymore. I took the weekend after I found out off - I was livid and didn't really want to be fired for saying something I shouldn't, and this weekend because I had a wicked migraine. I normally wouldn't have, but I don't feel like I owe them anything. I feel total contempt for the place now, but I can't be without a job, so I can't give my notice until I find something else. I'm not capable of being there and not giving 110% - that's just the way I am, but I feel stupid doing it. Not to mention having to train the new person - who, I'm sorry, is supposedly more qualified than all of us, so why should I? I just try and avoid it by staying totally away from her. BUT, I also can't be mean or spiteful, it's just not me. So I come home most days, have a good cry, and go back the next day and pretend everything's fine. I'm tired of pretending. Time to find something else.

Oh, I did have a stitching finish now that I think of it. I finished Jardin d'Jour by Needlemania. It's been a little over a year since Marc's passing, and I thought I'd honour him by finishing it. Will post a pic next time!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And it's official...

Hearts Entwined is up on the European Crosstitch website, and officially available for sale. :)

Yes, I know, the picture is small. I've sent a bigger one to Cindy and Angie!

Though while I'm here, I suppose I could do that here too.

The chart is a big one - 23 pages of instructions and diagrams and tips on how to add your own bands of text to make it a wedding or anniversary sampler. Hope you like it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some finishes and a much needed vent!

Okay, I'll do the vent first and get it over with. Charting and instructions are sooooooo tedious. Sometimes I really wish I did more charts that were just cross stitch. It would save me ever so much time. I also wish I was a programmer and could come up with better and more efficient software. These are ridiculous.

It's been very hectic the past few weeks. Work is crazy and I'm working 5, 6, 7 (or more) day stretches with only one day off before the next one starts. When I do get a day off, I have stuff I have to do around here - housework, laundry, errands, so I don't get much done on the computer other than answer a few emails. I've been doing charting here and there when I have time, but I generally like to do it when I have at least 4 or 5 hours to devote to it and I have the house to myself. It requires a lot of concentration doing the diagrams and I don't like being distracted. If I only have an hour or two, I don't usually bother because I know I won't get much accomplished and I'll just be getting into the swing of things and have to stop. I have the whole weekend off work, plus TWO days off next week because of the July 1 holiday, so I'm hoping to finish it up then. I put in 8 hours today and I'm about 1/3 done, but a lot of the diagrams from here on are a bit simpler. I'd keep going but my brain needed to rest, I was messing things up terribly. Maybe I'll go back to it in a little while. :)

I have been stitching here and there, trying to put in an hour or two in the evenings, and I've managed a couple of finishes. Both, in their own way, were major PITA projects so I'm really glad to have them done and out of the way.

A few weeks ago I finished Blackstone Fantasy Garden. Why was this a PITA you may ask? Only because my total silk snobbery has me so spoiled that working with cotton gives me nightmares. It feels awful to the touch, like twine!! Anyway, this was my last official work done in cotton. Nothing left to finish. A few kitted that I'll likely sell the kits for and re-kit in silk. Also, it was done on 32 count lugana with 2 strands of thread. The only thing worse than cotton thread is multiple strands of cotton thread. Anyway, the particulars - Blackstone Fantasy Garden is an Ink Circles design, and I stitched it in the suggested colours of Carrie's Creations floss, on 32 count Parkland Lugana from Silkweaver. I am happy with the finish, it is gorgeous, and Tracy's choice of colours is fantastic, I'm just glad to be done with it. Colours are pretty accurate in the picture.

The other PITA I finished is Rosewood Manor's Quaker Diamonds. Again, a lovely design, looks gorgeous finished. This one WAS stitched in silk, so why the groaning? CONFETTI. One stitch here. One stitch there. 2 stitches here. 3 stitches there. I had 2 choices - change colours of thread every second stitch, or try to stitch all of one colour in an area and have to count and count like crazy to find where the next stitch was. And because of all the confetti, it was really easy to miss one stitch here or there and have to pull that colour out again anyway. GRRRRRRRR. It did finish up very nicely, I'm happy I stitched it, it will look pretty on my wall, and I'm even happier I finished it because it drove me to distraction. Particulars for this one - I wanted to stay fairly close to the original colours but there was absolutely no way I was using cotton. So I converted the colours to HDF. Some are from the BE line, some are random d-bag skeins. And of course, I stitched it on 40 count so I could use ONE strand. Thank god, confetti and mutiple strands, I'd have probably burned it before I was through the first page. The fabric is Sassy's French Vanilla and it's gorgeous fabric. Highly recommended. Again, colours came out pretty accurate in the picture. For anyone wondering, I only used about half a 5 yard skein of each colour.

I had to put down EWS. I was working so much that it was hard to concentrate on something that intense, and white on white (or rather cream on cream) wasn't helping matters. Since finishing Quaker Diamonds last week (I think it was last week, days blur anymore - is it Saturday still?) I pulled out Alpine Seasons. Why oh why. More confetti, but at least this time I can be lazy if I want and carry floss behind because it's solid stitching. ;) I'm waiting for model threads for Forget Me Not and will start that when they get here. That one will be a breeze - it's all cross stitch.

I think I'll stitch some now. I worked hard today, I earned it. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oooooh.... new silks!

I was checking my facebook this morning and I noticed a link to Valdani and the word SILK. So of course I had to check it out!! I LOVE their colours, but of course I'm a total silk snob. So far it's just perle #12 - well actually it's AVAS Soie Perlee, which is somewhere between a #8 and #12 - and just a few colours, but I'll be keeping an eye out for the possible and hopeful addition of silk floss in their lovely colours! Just what I need, another company doing silk. My bank account won't be happy!

I also noticed that Threadworx has started dying Soie D'Alger and Vineyard Silk. Given that I love both of those, I'll definitely be picking up some of each of those. Only 20 colours in each so far, but I'll also be keeping an eye out. Really bright vibrant colours btw - and the food related colour names are making me hungry!

Other notes... I've started work on the chart and instructions for Hearts Entwinted. Yes, I finally decided on a name for it. :) Time permitting, it should be ready by the end of the month. Work is crazed right now, so it's a bit tough to put a date on it.

I've finally decided on colours for the next two designs and possibly the two after that. There are still four more I need to pick stuff for, but I figure I've got a bit of time. lol I suppose it's about time given that I've had the fabric here for ages and ages. Strangely enough, after a lot of back and forth, asking opinions, and general indecision, after test stitching the colours I chose were the ones I'd originally picked out months ago.

I got some stash for my birthday! Between money, gifts and gift certificates, it was a pretty good year. lol It felt SOOOOO good to buy something that wasn't for a model! It's been a few months since I could. I got the two celtic charts from Needle's Prayse and the threads to stitch them with. I'm sure I have a piece or two of linen I can use around here somewhere. ;) Surprisingly, I'm stitching them in the suggested NPI colours. I love how they look in the pictures, so really no need to change them. Plus, I've become re-addicted to NPI lately, they stitch so nicely.

I also picked up the newest colours of Gloriana and Dinky Dyes to keep my collections up to date. Just watch, the day they arrive, there will be MORE new colours. lol Really curious to see what they look like IRL, they all look so pretty online! I never thought, I should have ordered a few skeins of the Gloriana Florimel silk too - I want to compare it to the regular silk and see if there is a big difference in how the colours dye up.

And I started another new one. I finally caved and started the English Whitework Sampler. I was going to use Valdani on it but then Vikki put hanks of perle on sale so I'm doing it in Examplar White Chocolate on Ivory Ricamo linen. In retrospect, the Ricamo may have been a silly choice, it's not very well suited to pulled work - because it's so dense, it's a bit tough to get the holes to open well, I probably should have gone with something more open. But alas, it's started now, and I'm down to the first band of eyelet alphabet. You'd think after Hearts Entwinted I'd be sick of eyelets, but I'm still enjoying them.

It was actually a stupid mistake on my part that made me start it in the first place. I had gone to mom's for my birthday dinner, and of course she insisted I take H.E. so she could see it finished, and my test stitching for the next ones so she could "approve" my choice of colours. While I was rushing around trying to get ready to go, I just shoved it into a project bag that was on my stitching table. The project bag also had in it the threads for Blackstone Fantasy Garden, because that was what I had been working on. So why was that cause for a new start? Because I'm a dolt and forgot it at mom's. She was happy because that meant she got to take H.E. to work and show it off, but I really wanted to finish BFG!! So to cheer myself up, I started EWS. The project bag is home now, but since I've already got EWS in the q-snaps, I see no need to change it. lol

TANGENT ALERT - Does the acronym BFG remind anyone else of Doom or am I the only one? I've heard talk that a new Doom game is in the works, and I'm SOOOO excited. I've spent thousands of hours of my life on those games, it's one of my all time favourites. They really messed up on the movie though. While it was okay, and the first person bit was really cool, why the heck did they have to change the story??? The story in the game was that during teleportation experiments on Mars, they accidentally open a portal to Hell, which turns the surrounding marines into various sorts of zombies and lets in a host of other demons, which you have to destroy before they are able to invade earth. Great plot, and pretty darn scary, especially the levels in Hell. In the movie, the "demons" are the result of genetic experiments. Would have been an okay plot if it was a standalone movie, but not when you're basing it on a hugely popular game which people the world over know and love. But I digress...

I also have to report that my mother got me one of the coolest gifts I could ever have imagined. She got me an emerald. It's absolutely beautiful. My aunt was on a trip to Colombia recently and my mom asked her to bring one back for me. :) Now I need to decide, ring or pendant? She also got me a wind up alarm clock, which had me in hysterics. One of the joys of living in a small town is that everytime we get a thunderstorm, the power goes out at least once or twice. Every clock in my house is electric, except the battery powered clock on the wall that's needed new batteries for a year. And each time we get a nighttime storm, I call mom and ask if she'll phone me in the morning to wake me up - just in case the power goes out while I'm asleep and I lose my alarm clock. This has been a ritual since I moved here, and I think she finally got tired of it.

Speaking of weather, what is up with it???? We had an unseasonably warm winter, not much snow to speak of this year. Spring started pretty early, March was pretty much above zero. April we had a couple weeks of very nice weather, and then a couple weeks of hot, hot weather. May started out terribly - rain, rain, and more rain, and very cold. Then all of a sudden, two weeks ago it got hot and humid - like hovering around 30 hot with humidity pushing it into the high 30's. Now we get weather that hot quite frequently over the summer, but it feels so much worse right now because there was just no gradual change. It literally went from cold to hot in the span of two days. The rain today seems to have cooled it down a touch, hopefully we get some nice low 20's for a while.

That's it for today's novel. And they all lived happily ever after.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hearts are finished

I finished it!! WOO HOO!! I'm so happy with how this turned out. :)

The design is stitched 1x2 on 36 ct Lakeside Light Examplar, using 2 colours of NPI and Gloriana in silk floss and Princess Perle Petite. It's got a ton of specialty stitches, various rhodes stitches, satin stitch, eyelets, queen stitches, hungarian stitches, smyrna crosses, and a variety of pulled stitches... so it's challenging, but I had lots of fun with it. :)

Now I just need to finally decide on a name and finish the chart!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Kaleidescopic finish

Well it's done. Actually it was done on Saturday night, but I finally got Nate to bring the camera down. lol

This is stitched in silks (of course) that I bought off ebay years ago. They're flat, untwisted filament silks from Suzhou, China. I turned the brightness up a few notches - I tried hard to get the colours in the picture accurate, but with colours this bright it's difficult. I took this in direct sunlight and it's about as close as I can get! It's still much brighter in person though. I wish the camera could pick up the shine, it's amazing! For the black I used HDF, and looking at the finish I probably should have doubled up, it's a bit thin in spots. The fabric is 40 count linen from HDF which is supposed to be an evenweave, though as you can probably tell from the pictures, it's not. The design finished up 7 inches by 7 1/2 inches, so there is definitely a difference in the warp and weft. Overall, I'm very happy with it though, and it was a delightfully fun project. Taming the threads was a bit of a challenge with my frightfully rough hands, but I enjoyed it. :)

I didn't stitch last night, just wasn't feeling up to it. It's that time of the month when I curse being a woman, and the cramps were just awful. Plus, I was supposed to go visit mom after work, but the car isn't co-operating. I could smell gas something terrible on the way home last night, and Jon checked it out and we have a leak in the tank. So after his test run at the shoe store today, he's taking it in.

So now to decide... I'm off for the day today, and I want to spend the day stitching my heart out. Should I start Triangles? Should I finish hearts? Hmmm....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

And finally, some good news

Jon and I both had job interviews yesterday. :) Mine was for the full time position in my department that I applied for, and went very well. I think I have a fair shot at it. It wouldn't be a drastic change from what I do now, I generally work almost full time hours as it is, the biggest deal is bigger benefits, better pension and profit sharing, slightly better pay... The store manager is off now for a few weeks, so I'm sure I won't hear right away. Not getting my hopes up too high though, I know what my luck is like!

Jon's interview also went well. It's for a job in retail sales, and I knew he would do well. They've already called him and asked him to come in on Monday for a trial run, probably just to see how he does with customers. I'm sure he'll be wonderful, he's one of those people that everyone just likes instantly - makes you laugh, isn't happy unless everyone around him is smiling - and I guarantee, people will come in for one little thing and end up spending a fortune and coming back again and again just because he works there. Seriously. I know I'm biased, but I see how people -especially women - react to him, he's a charmer. He's very excited.

While he was on his interview, he met a lady in the store who lives here in town and does framing. How did I not know this? He was asking her about needlework framing and she gave him her card and was telling him that she pins and then laces, uses only acid free materials, conservation glass, etc, so I'm curious. He mentioned my business to her and was telling her that I'm looking for a good framer I can trust to do my models. I know there are lots of great framers, but I want one close by - local is even better! So I'm going to give her a call on Monday and have a chat. :)

I'm down to my last four colours on Kaleidoscope, I would have finished it yesterday but I stayed late at work again. So I'll finish it up when I get home this afternoon. I decided I'm going to spend the next few weeks on a finishing spree before I start my next model. I've got several that are getting close. I might have to start Ink Circles Cirque des Triangles though. Just cause.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A little of this, a little of that...

I've been quiet of late, lots and lots of life going on and been a bit on the busy side to take some me time. So as today is a day off work, I'm making me time!

First up, a review.

I finally started using my Carrie's silks for Rhapsody in Red. I already knew I loved Carrie's colours, she has brilliant bold combinations and wild overdyes that I just adore. However, this was my first real chance to dive in and stitch with her silks. Well, the verdict is in. I love them. They're very smooth, no real fuzziness, and have a lot of shine. I've been stitching with them on 45 count Graziano, and there is a little bit of fuzzing, but nothing too terrible. I would hazard a guess that a #26 needle would be better, but with this count of fabric that's not possible. The odd tangle or knot, but nothing terribly taxing. I got my silks from Wasatch Needlecraft, there are a few other shops online which carry them or you can order directly from Carrie. No pics today though, the camera has disappeared into the abyss of my son's room.

I had to take a break from the hearts... I was getting to the point of not even wanting to stitch, which generally means it's time to work on something else. I got quite a bit of Rhapsody done this week, but I knew I wouldn't be able to work for long periods on this one since I've stitched half of it before. I ended up pulling out Ink Circle's Kaleidoscope and have been stitching on that the past couple days. I finished up all the black outlining, now I'm filling in all the colours. Coming along swimmingly - I could have a finish this week if I keep up my blistering pace! Then I'll return to the hearts and finish up the last couple bands. Still not sure if I'll release right away or wait for October.

On the job front, my manager and one of the full time people in my department retired. I was ambivalent about seeing my manager go, she was due for retirement this month but had to go early as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a person, I adore her, she's a wonderful lady, and can be a good laugh at times. As a boss, she was moody, domineering and well, bossy - though not in a good way. But I'll still miss her and I do wish her all the best. The other full time person leaving was a bit of shock. She didn't mention it to anyone, she was leaving for a week's vacation and we all thought she was coming back. Turns out she had talked to the store manager just before her departure, but didn't say any goodbyes to us. So anyway, 2 full time positions have opened up in the department. I did a lot of soul searching to decide if I should apply for one. With the needlework designing, I sort of need extra time to do it, but at the same time, the stability of a full time job would be very comforting. So after a week of back and forth I bit the bullet and I applied. I don't know that I'll get one, but I hope I do. If I don't, it won't be the end of the world.

Jon is improving, but getting very restless being around the house all the time. On one hand it's great because I haven't had to do much in the way of cleaning for a couple weeks. On the other hand, he's getting a little down. He had decided a few weeks back that he wanted a change of career, something that won't be so taxing on his body. Labouring for one bricklayer is bad enough, but for two is crippling him. He's scheduled to return to work on May 25th, but he wants to find something before then. He went to the job centre, but they want him to do a week of assessments before he can apply for any jobs they have, and the hours they do them conflict with my work schedule, so it's just not possible. So he's been applying to everything he can find in the paper, online and via word of mouth, but hasn't heard back from any of them and it's quite obviously getting to him. I think what bugs him most is that until he came to Canada, he never had to worry about finding jobs. If he was in need of one he'd have one within a day or two just by word of mouth because he literally knew everyone in the town where he lived.

The weather here has been weird. Last week we actually had a day where it we had a thunderstorm, rain, hail and snow all in one day. This last couple of days have been ridiculously humid, and the temperature has jumped into the 20's. I even managed a bit of a tan on my lunch one day last week. lol The warmer temperatures have brought back the tourists though. I know they're great for the town and the local businesses, but when it takes me half an hour to get home from work because the traffic on Main St. is moving at 10km/h I get a bit bitchy. With the warmer weather, work has also really picked up and we're all trying to work at Speedy Gonzales pace (or at least most of us do, there is at least one who moves like she's got lead feet). I have some awesome co-workers though, and what we manage to accomplish some days on a skeleton crew is amazing.

Hmmm... what else is new? Well the boy has decided what he wants to do with his life and has actually started to try and pursue it. He's a very talented artist, and after a lot of back and forth between graphic design, animation and video game design, he's decided on something totally different. He wants to be a tattoo artist, much to the dismay of my mother. She still sees it as something only bikers do - I see it as a wonderful form of art and self expression. I think it's great, he's really knuckled down at school so he can get into college for illustration, and has been spending a lot of time at the local tattoo shop speaking with the owner about an apprenticeship. I think it's actually a good fit for him and can see him being very happy doing it. I've always said I don't care what career he chooses, as long as it's something that he will be happy doing. When you can get up in the morning and look forward to going to work, you've chosen the right path, and that is exactly what I think he's done. He's excited about something other than a new video game for the first time in ages, and it's wonderful to see. Plus it means I get free tattoos. Bonus.

I think that's about it for today, since the fluffy cat is now so desperate for affection that he's actually trying to hinder my typing and trying to climb up me to my shoulder. I have to hug and snuggle him at least 10 times a day for him to be happy. *sigh*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life getting in the way...

Stitching time has really been scarce this last month. I've been putting in stitches when I can, but life is just getting in the way lately. I thought maybe with a week off for DB's surgery I would get a lot done, but it just isn't happening. House cleaning, running, fetching - ever noticed that when a man has surgery he turns into a 2 year old? Why is it that I have an ovary removed and am doing dishes, cooking and laundry two days later, and a week after surgery he is still struggling to do more than make a pot of coffee? Sheesh!

Also suffering a bit of depression lately - a combination of constant money worries and worrying about Jon and his surgery I think - has set in. I can't seem to focus on much of anything for long. Jon's worker's compensation claim was rejected - long story, but apparently a hernia isn't necessarily related to work. Very true, but when you lift upwards of 5000 lbs of brick and cement a day, it is the likely culprit. And given that he never felt it or noticed it before taking this job, it would make sense. And the doctors agree. We're looking into an appeal at the moment, but it doesn't help matters right now, he stil has 6 weeks before he can return to work - and has already been off for 4 months. It's a strain on the brain.

On top of that, I don't know if it's from the warmer temperatures or the sudden weather changes, but I've been fighting off migraines for a couple of weeks, and my shoulders are toast. I know I have arthritis in them, I have it in a lot of my joints - a little leftover of my gymnastics days - but lately they're not just grinding and aching. It feels like I've pinched the nerve in my neck again. GRRR. So I can't stitch for long periods, 30 minutes and I need a break. Very annoying since I had planned on some stitching marathons to finish the hearts sampler in time for the online show.

I'm on to the last few bands now, slowly but surely it's coming, so I thought I'd post a new progress picture. I've made some changes along the way, and I'm relatively happy with it. I'm also suffering a bit of stitching ADD at the moment, so I'm thinking that since I'm not going to have it finished in time for the show I may take a break for a couple weeks and stitch something else.

I needed that gripe! I don't like to moan around Jon, he feels guilty because he can't work and my complaints don't help him. One of these days it will get better!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Progress so far

Well it's coming along. Before I dive head first into today's stitching session, I thought I would post a little peek at how it stands so far. It doesn't look like much yet, but there's more than 5000 stitches completed already. Phew! My poor little fingers are sore!

When designing this, I really loved the thought of a lacy eyelet border. While stitching it, I am cursing myself for it. I love eyelets, but with around 400 (I think, I haven't actually counted them) they do get a bit tedious. I have worked out a system for getting them done without having to do too many all at once. Each time I complete a band or a dividing bar, I stitch one thread length worth of eyelets, and the cross stitches around them. That will keep me well ahead of the game I hope! I've also come up with a little cheat that helps open the middle up without me having to pull the thread so hard - I take a large needle and sort of hollow out the centre - twiddle it around a bit to really open up that middle hole - before I start the stitch. That way I just have to give a gentle tug on the thread when I stitch it. It works great.

Well, I've had my little coffee break now, so it's back to the needle!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm a happy bunny now

My materials for Victorian Hearts arrived Wednesday, and after spending a day test stitching to figure out which shades of green and pink I was going to use, stitching is now fully underway.

As usual, I'll be posting sneak peeks here as I progress. Not much to show yet, I've only done the top border and part of the first band!

Off to stitch now. :) Insert contented sigh here. :D

Monday, March 15, 2010

After a little re-charting...

...and some google searching for WIP pics to estimate the closest colour matches, I've finished the backstitching on Alpine Garden. No idea if it's exactly the colours used in the original, but it looks close. I couldn't make out most of the instructions in the picture included with the chart, it's horribly blurry.

I moved some stuff around, and fixed some other things - points of two lines not meeting up properly, etc. And I spaced things out a bit more - everything seemed soooo overcrowded. I also changed threads on a couple, from what I could make out in the instructions, some of the backstitching was to be done in the perle thread - I tried it very briefly, but it was much too heavy and made everything else look unbalanced, especially on my 35ct. I had the same colour of thread in regular floss, so I subbed it and it looks much better.

Anyway, this is where it stands as of last night, before I moved my q-snaps. No beads or crystals yet, they'll go in at the end. I've tried beading as I go, but my q-snaps shattered a couple of beads, so now I just wait and do it all at once. Colours are a bit more vibrant IRL, and the fabric is a bit darker.

Was hoping my model stuff would be here today, but alas, no luck, so I'm going to keep going with this one for now! I don't mind, I'm having fun with this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zweigart, you read my mind

Not so long ago I was lamenting about the difficulty finding a suitable deep red fabric for a future design.

Of course there were standard fabrics in the colour I wanted in 32 count or less. I didn't really want 32 count, it would mean using 2 strands for cross stitching, and I just couldn't stomach that idea. I'm spoiled, aren't I?

I did find a couple possibilities from Weeks Dye Works and Stitches and Spice. While I love WDW linen colours, I'm not a huge fan of their base fabric, it's a bit too thin/uneven for my liking. And while I love Stitches and Spice fabrics AND colours (or at least those I've used!), the Hunter Shiraz I was looking at was a bit too mottled and a bit more purple than what I was looking for. Am I picky or what?

What colour did I want? Ruby Wine by Zwiegart, preferably in 36 or 40 count. Well guess what Zwiegart has just released? 36 count Ruby Wine! Colour me happy!

I won't be ordering it just yet, not even close to being ready to start this one, given I've only sketched it out on paper, but I'm just so happy I CAN get it when I need to. :D

Speaking of ordering, I caved and ordered two new HDF colours, BeCherished and Dragon Heart. I didn't want to pass them up while they were Mini's of the month. I'm so weak. Haven't the faintest idea what I'll use them for, they just looked perdy.

My cold is much better. My head is still plugged, my throat and ears still ache and I still have a bit of a nasty cough, but I no longer feel like I have cement in my chest. After working today though, my voice has gone bye-bye.

Still working away on Alpine Garden - no pics today though, I'm too lazy. I'm almost done the octagonal inner border, after that I'll set about tackling the backstitched flowers inside it. At least until my materials for hearts arrive! And with that, I'm gonna go relax and stitch. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is in the air!

The high temperature for today is 10C. WOO HOO! It's only early March though, we still tend to get a good storm late in the month or even in early April so I wouldn't quite say that winter's over just yet.

I can tell spring is in the air though. My cats have gone insane. Meowing constantly, playing with everything in sight, chasing each other around playing hide and seek with each other, and just being loud in general. I wish I could get a video of Tigger and his wailing, but he seems to sense the camera and shuts up immediately. lol

I can also tell spring is on the way, as my stitching ADD has returned. I'm loving working on Alpine Garden, though the chart is driving me to insanity. There is a large section of blackwork to come shortly, which is all in black on the chart. There is a picture insert that shows what colours are to be used where, but it's small and blurry. GRRR. I may just leave the whole section to the end and move on to the octagonal border instead. Anyway, here is where it stands after the first week or so. Considering that every half hour or so I get distracted and stop to do something else, or play with threads or put a new motif into a new design, I'd say it's not bad progress. The picture actually came out quite clear, the fabric is just a tad darker and the white and colours are just a bit brighter IRL. Speaking of the white, I didn't like the NPI white, it was just too cream for snow, so I replaced it with AVAS Blanc Optique, and I'm much happier with it.

At the same time, my threads arrived for RIR and I really, really want to start it again. It's not really a new wip, since I already got about 1/3 of it done before, so I keep trying to justify the start that way. :D Also trying to justify it by the fact that it's Carrie's silks and I want to see how they stitch up, not just a couple of stitches.

And since I got that great pink, and a couple of awesome blues which I really like for Taking Flight, I want to start that one too! I justify this as I don't currently have an over one project.

AND since I picked out colours for Cirque des Triangles ages ago, I really, really wanna start that too. Plus it's over one AND on black!

AND I want to start English Whitework because it's an entirely different technique - all specialty stitches and hardanger - and would give me some extra variety.

AND I want to start Growth Rings, Bramble and Rose, Amtrack, Spanish Bleu, Time Well Spent.... the list goes on and on and on.

Add to that that I already have at least a dozen that are over halfway finished and should probably work on before I start new stuff.

AND my materials for the hearts sampler have shipped and should be here in the next week or so and I really don't want to get a day into another new one before they arrive and I drop everything.

I have been dilligently working on selecting colours for the flower designs. The flower colours are definitely easier to pick than the greens. I had originally thought to use a single green for all the designs, but after a lot of playing I decided that was boring and I'd probably get bored of the same colour over and over. Plus, with some of the flowers being medium tones, some being pastel and some being really bright and bold, I need to balance them with the greens. So there will still be a lot of playing left to come yet. No rush, I won't be starting one until I get the hearts done, but I'd still like to get settled on colours and get them ordered soon since I already have the fabric for the first four.

Now if I can just rid myself of this nasty cold, I'll be a happy camper! lol

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stash Mail - Yippee!!!!

Well my first package from Wasatch Needlecraft has arrived!! A full yard of 40 count Magnolia for my flower designs - guess I should set about to finally picking my colours for these, huh?

AND I got a treat for me... some Carrie's silks. Going by Carrie's recommendations, I ordered enough Crimson and Plymouth Red for Rhapsody in Red, and they're lovely. I also ordered a whole bunch of Colonial Red, which Carrie warned me was dying up very pink, and though yes, it is pink, it's awesome. I'm going to use it for Taking Flight, along with the spool of Delphinium I got last week.

So what do I think of Carrie's silks? Niiiiiice. They're soft and supple, very smooth without any fuzzies. They've got a decent amount of twist, so they don't shred easily and have a nice sheen. Having only test stitched a tiny bit, I can't really give a big critique, but so far so good. :) Tentative two thumbs up!

So now just a few more things I'm waiting on, fabric for my hearts design, NPI for my hearts design, and a few new colours of Gloriana I was missing. Of course Anne released 5 or 6 more in Nashville, as did Jo of Dinky Dyes, so I'll have to play catch up once more. *Sigh* It never ends. ;)

I'm still working on Alpine Garden. Really pretty so far. I'm almost finished the centrepiece, just finishing the over one bit under the cottage. Some really fantastic colours in this. I was a bit leery about the pond scum - very neon yellow green - but all stitched up, I love it. Really have to stop miscellaneous stash purchases and start saving up for that Silk 'N Colors set. Everytime I get new colours I just ooh and ahh. And I love how they shimmer all stitched up. Soooo very pretty. When I finish up this bit, I'll snap a pic!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fabrics and Colours Part II

Continuing on from yesterday's post and a couple of items I touched on just briefly.

How do you decide what the perfect fabric is for a design?

First you want to decide on the base fabric you want to use. Aida, linen, plainweave... It totally depends on the project. If your project will have specialty stitches or partial stitches, Aida won't work unless you're stubborn and don't mind piercing threads. This isn't a big deal if there isn't a large amount of it, but when you're talking about half the project or more, it can become a pain and even make the project more difficult to do, and can lead you to using evenweave. When it comes to evenweaves, some people are partial to plainweaves, some are partial to linen. A lot of people, myself included will call linen, linen, and everything else evenweave, though this is sort of a misnomer. Linen can be evenweave too! The only difference? Linen is made from linen, plainweaves can be cotton, cotton/rayon and a multitude of other fibers. Both are considered evenweave, meaning there are the same number of threads per inch in both the warp and weft.

Next you want to determine what count of fabric you want to use. Lower counts are great for those just starting out with over 2 stitching, or for those whose eyes just can't see the higher stuff. Higher counts are great for saving yourself some money on floss (less strands needed) and framing costs. If you want high count (above 32) you're kinda stuck with linen, as I've only found one supplier of plainweave that is 36 count, and I can never get their page to load properly. So of course count will be one of the determining factors.

When choosing a count of fabric, first decide what count you are most comfortable working with. Designer recommendations are just that - recommendations. Just because a model is stitched on 40 count, doesn't mean that you need to use 40 count. You can use whatever YOU are comfortable with. You will have to make adjustments to the number of strands of thread you use, but any design can be changed to suit your needs. The only real limitation to changing counts of fabric is when you are talking about beadwork and/or charms - they just don't fit on some counts, and trying to find petite beads in similar colours isn't always possible.

I hear a lot of people say that they use lower counts for doing specialty stitches. Sometimes this is helpful if you're just learning the stitches, but it's not necessary. I love doing specialty stitches on 36 and 40 count, they look so delicate and they're not really any more difficult, you just have to be able to see the holes. If you can see them for cross stitch, you can see them for specialty stitches too. Keep in mind that when you start inching up above 40 count, the weave of most linens gets very dense, so pulled stitches can become more difficult to do.

Another determining factor for count of fabric is coverage. How dense do you like your stitching to appear? This is 100% personal choice. I know lots of people who are happy with 1 strand even on 32 count, personally I don't like the way it looks. I like denser coverage, and will double up or use thicker thread right up to 36 count. You have to decide what you like. Again, a designer can recommend how many strands to use on a specific count, but your eye is the best judge. If you don't like it, double up or up the count until you are happy. It's your project after all!

And finally, sometimes a colour you want to use is only available in certain counts/types of fabric, so that may also be a determining factor in what count you end up using.

Next you want to decide what colour of fabric you want to use. Solid, hand-dyed, heavy mottling, multiple colours, the choices these days are endless. Things to consider when choosing a fabric:

Are there a lot of thread colours? Sometimes simple is best. A solid fabric, or something with soft subtle mottling might be the best option. You don't want your fabric to overpower your stitching, you want it to complement your stitching. Make sure the fabric you choose has enough contrast to your thread colours - you don't want them to blend into the background. If the design has mostly warm colours - browns, oranges, orange reds, olive greens - you want to stick with fabrics that have a yellow undertone. If your design has mostly cool colours - blues, blue greens, blue pinks, purples - you want to find a fabric with a pink or blue undertone. This will enhance the colours in your threads. You'd be surprised how different a thread colour looks stitched on two different fabrics!

Are a lot of the threads variegated? Again, you want to stick with something fairly solid or very softly shaded so it won't compete with the threads. Your main goal is to pick something that shows off your stitching. Remeber, fabric is the background, your lovely work is the foreground. Heavily mottled/multicolour fabrics might be gorgeous, and might even have the same shades as your thread, but if it draws your eye away from your stitching, then it's probably too much. The easiest way to tell is to try test stitching a small motif in the threads you're planning to use. You'll get a better feel for how the final product will look, and whether you've got the right idea with your fabric.

Is it a monochrome? Is your thread multicolour or more solid? The more solid the thread colour, the more options you have for fabric colour. This is where those heavily mottled or multicolour fabrics can look really cool. Solid black thread on a wild red/orange fabric looks spectacular. As does solid white thread on a deep purple/blue fabric. If you've chosen a multicolour thread, you want to again stick with something a little simpler for fabric. Picking your favourite colour from the thread and then going with fabric a few shades lighter can be really stunning.

Determining when to use a multicolour thread and when to use a solid thread can also be tough sometimes. For me, it depends on how intricate the design is. For a pattern that has a lot of small detailed lacy looking parts, you want to be sure that you're not going to lose the design in the colour changes of the thread. Again, test stitching is key - test stitch a small area of detail with your chosen colour and stand back and look at your stitching. Can you clearly follow the design with your eye or is it tough to make out? If you can see it clearly, you're on the right track. If it's hard to follow, then you might want to try something with less colour changes.

The last thing I want to touch on is a question which I see asked often - when should I use opalescent fabric? My answer to this would be - NEVER!! I absolutely hate stuff. lol

But seriously, a good way to decide whether or not to use sparklies is to figure out how much sparkle you want, always remembering that the fabric is the background to your stitching. You want your stitching to be front and centre, you don't want the fabric to draw the eye away from it. So things to consider are: Does the design have metallic threads/beads/crystals? If it does, then using an opalescent fabric might diminish the intended effect of these. If you've spent a lot of time fighting with metallic threads or attaching beads and embellishments, you don't want to stand back and look only to have the metallic thread in the fabric competing with all your hard work.

Another thing to consider is that opalescent or metallic fabric will cause a lot more wear on your threads! That's one of the main reasons I can't stand the stuff.

Opalescents can be very beautiful and very tempting, and when used with the right design, can add that little extra wow factor. When used with the wrong design, they can detract from your stitching.

Of course all of this is just suggestion - only you know what you like and what you want, and only you can decide what looks best for you!!