Saturday, January 30, 2010

Designer's Block Officially Over!

Well that was frustrating and annoying, but my bout with designer's block is now officially over. Unfortunately the block didn't end in time for the Nashville Needlework Show, but I will say, it's ended with quite a bang! 2 new designs ready to begin model stitching, 2 more getting close and at least 3 more on the drawing board. Keep an eye on my blog over the next couple of months for sneak peeks and stitching progress!

Now begins the equally frustrating waiting for materials game. Cursing the post office and lots of swearing are par for the course. As is the inevitable "did I pick the right colours?" constant questioning that will continue up until the point when the first stitches are inserted and I breathe a sigh of relief that all fits together well. Well hopefully anyway!!

Speaking of the post office, here's a little off topic insight into the Canadian Postal System. A couple weeks ago, I ordered a new monitor from New Egg, shipped via UPS, though the shipping was free. I ordered it on a Wednesday evening around 7pm, the monitor was delivered on Thursday morning, just before noon. I also ordered a graphics card from Hong Kong (cause the one I wanted was unavailable everywhere else in the world it seems!), it was shipped the same day I ordered it, a Tuesday morning. It arrived at Canadian Customs in Toronto on Wednesday morning. It cleared customs in Toronto on Thursday morning. I received it... Monday afternoon. Now tell me, how can it take one day to get from Hong Kong to Toronto, and 4 days to get from Toronto to here? It's not even a 2 hour drive!! Canada Post sucks. Still, less than a week from Hong Kong, not too bad right? The same day I ordered the graphics card, I ordered a power supply from a company in Mississauga - less than 2 hours away. It shipped the same day as the graphics card, though it came via Canada Post all the way. It reached me the day AFTER the graphics card did. I'll reiterate. Canada Post sucks.

Still on the postage topic - I have to send some models to Nashville for the upcoming show. I should have done so Friday, but I got caught up at work and couldn't get to the P.O. in time, so I'll be sending them tomorrow morning. Anyway, I checked out prices. The best Canada Post can do is 3 day delivery guarantee, and that costs almost $60. For $40 at Purolator, I can get a 2 day guarantee, though likely it will be there by the next morning. Yet, every single year, we incur postage increases so they can give us better service. I'd LOVE better service - heck, I'd take ANY service. ;)

And back to stitching... It's been a fun and furious couple of weeks, and I know poor Jon will be very happy once materials are in hand and I'm working away, as I'm sure he's sick of hearing "what looks better, this... or this?" To which he always answers "why do you even ask, you know I suck at colours." Plus, it means I'll be busy model stitching, so he can have the computer to play games more often with the new HUGE monitor and the super duper powerful graphics card.

Both new designs are very different from one another, and as yet, neither has an "official" name.

The first, will be the first design in a series of geometric florals inspired by my mother. She's a gardening fanatic, and her gardens always help me find peace. This one features a cheerful little flower, the forget me not. I haven't yet picked colours for this one, I ordered some thread samples and I'm waiting for their arrival before I decide for sure. I was planning to use the same green throughout the series of designs, but I also thought as long as the whole series works together, that doesn't really matter. Plus, knowing me, I'm likely to get sick of the same green for at least 4, if not 6 designs. ;) Keep an eye out here for peeks at the follow up pieces... Tulips, Daffodils, Daisies and maybe Violets, Tiger Lilies and Roses... could be more, I haven't gotten that far yet!

The second, is worked in a combination of cross stitch and a whole lot of specialty stitches. It will be stitched in dusty rose and a soft wintery green from NPI and Gloriana's Vanilla on Lakeside Linen Light Examplar. Highly unlike me to choose solid colours, but I felt that the textured stitches would have lost their impact in variegated thread. Of course I couldn't go ALL solid, so I went with a very soft variegated cream. This was a tough choice, I really toyed with the idea of dramatic colours, like a deep red and forest green, but I love the soft antique feel of the lighter colourway. However, when I do release it, I'll fiddle and do a mock up of the darker one, because I'm sure others would love it just as much! I'm dropping down to 36 count for this one, I'm guessing that I will go cross eyed trying to do some of the stitches on 40! I'll be including some ideas for customizing this one, as I feel it would be a lovely wedding or anniversary sampler.

I'm so excited about all these new models to stitch that I can't seem to concentrate on stitching anything else!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What's New and Exciting?

Well, to be honest, not much of either really. Long story very short, It's been a very rough couple of months. Between illness, a death in the family, and Jon being laid off for two months, I just haven't been feeling very creative. It's frustrating, I have lots of ideas in my head, even sketched on paper, but as soon as I sit down at the computer they all seem to disappear. I just attribute it to being down in the dumps. I promised Jon that I would have fun with designing, so I'm trying very hard not to stress over it and just stitching what I want and when I feel like it. Plus, anything I design I have to have at least the fabric on hand for, since I'm too broke at the moment to buy fabric for models. lol You'd think with the enormous amount of stash I have, I'd be able to do that but alas, the three I currently have almost ready to start I either have the colour but not a big enough piece or don't have the right count for the type of project. I could substitute, but then the project isn't what I envisioned and I know I wouldn't be happy with it. So that's where the designing stands at the moment.

I have been stitching when I can - with Jon's layoff I've been picking up as many hours at work as I can, and we've had so many people out sick that I'm working lots and lots to try to make ends meet. We'll get through it, we always do. :)

So what have I been stitching? Well I've had a few finishes. 1 big one, 1 pretty big one, and 2 small ones.

The big one is Drawn Thread's Toccata 4. I loved this piece so much I just can't tell you how much fun it was, words don't express it. It was sheer joy from the first stitch to the last - well except maybe the boucle stitches, but once I got the hang of them, they weren't so bad. Just took lots of practice. This is a wonderful piece for anyone wanting to learn new stitches, and is also a great piece for playing with colours. I used my own colourway, though I stuck close to the original colours I used things I had in my stash, but you could use almost anything you wanted! This did use a fair amount of floss, and if you're planning a start, make sure you have lots of the greens and creams! I used 34 ct fabric and went well above the recommended amounts. It's done in a combination of Soie D'Alger, Gloriana, Silk N' Colors and HDF on 34 ct Cafe Au Lait linen.

Second, the pretty big one - I finished Ink Circles Cirques Des Carreaux. Dimension wise, it's not so big, as I stitched it over 1 on 28 ct, but there are a lot of little x's in this one, so it still qualifies as a pretty big one. lol This one started out as a test piece for one of my own designs, testing out Gloriana colours for Easter Flowers. So yes, it's all stitched in Gloriana silk, on black Jobelan. I'm already plotting out my colours for Triangles, which I'm thinking I'll do the same way, but in ultra bright colours, again on black. This was a fun one, I do so enjoy over one stitching - though I've learned that 28 count is best for me, 32 and up I don't have as much fun with.

And finally the two little ones - I had already finished Chilly, about 2 years ago, but I stitched up Milly and Willy over Christmas. These stitch up so quickly - about 2 days each. I actually used cotton for these... cause I already had them kitted. They're stitched on 28 ct Bluebell Jobelan over 2, primarily in Weeks Dye Works, and a few DMC colours, though I snuck in some HDF white on the last couple. :D The chart is called Snowman Trio, from Stitchy Kitty, and I just can't say how much I love these little guys. They're so cute!! Eventually they'll be finished up as ornaments or something - haven't decided what yet - and will be for my mom. She's a snowman addict.

With all those finishes, who could resist a new (or a few new) start? As I said previously, I knew that when I had Quaker Diamonds in my hot little hands, I would have to start it... and I did. I changed my mind on colours so many times it was silly, and finally settled on using HDF for the whole thing. It's not exact to the model, which doesn't really bother me that much at all. I chose to use a fairly new series of colours that Vikki created, the "Be" series, plus a couple of other bits and pieces I had. If you're interested in my conversion, let me know and I'll post it. :) I ended up going with Sassy's French Vanilla in 40 ct for the project - it's a fantastic colour of fabric! This is a nice project, and it looks fabulous stitched, but I'll give a warning to anyone planning to stitch it - there is a LOT of colour changing. One stitch here, one stitch there... and if you're like me, you like to stitch all of one colour in a section before moving to the next, which means a LOT of counting.

And of course I also said I'd be starting Romantic Rose Garden, which I also did. I replaced the evil nasty DMC colours with Eterna for this one, and I'm using some of the recommended colours for the variegated. I found the SNC Forest and the Waterlilies Periwinkle just were too overpowering. So I'm using a Northern Lights Green for the Forest, and HDF Dark Wisteria for the Periwinkle. I'm still debating changing 2 of the DMC greens, the 472 and 581 - the 472 is neon bright against the others and the 581 is too olive - it really clashes up close. Though from a distance they all seem to fit together well so we'll see when I plug the rest in. I'm doing this one on 34 ct Cafe Au Lait from Legacy Linen. And of course, blogger strikes again and rotates my pics!

And I had to have a new start for the new year (as both of the previous starts were in November/December), and since I'd finished Carreaux, the plan was to start Triangles... but that didn't work out like I planned. I was flipping through my Ink Circles charts, and I came across Kaleidescope. I'd forgotten how pretty it is, and I started it instead. This has been such a fun project! I'm using HDF for the black, and HDF 40 ct linen, but for the colours I decided to experiment. I had this big box of filament silk threads from China. Probably about 500 colours in there, 20 or so yards each. I could have gone with an exact conversion, I did have colours close enough to all of the DMC used, but I thought "what the heck, it's a fun piece, I'm going nuts with it." and I turned all of the colours up a few notches on the brightness scale. The picture really doesn't adequately show how bright or shiny these threads are. I'll have to get a really good picture when I finish - hopefully we have some sun for a change. The one thing this project HAS proved to me - the HDF linen is NOT even. I had suspected this, as I had started a different project on it and sort of noticed it, but I hadn't gotten a full square stitched yet, so I couldn't confirm. I measured this one out, and the width is 7 3/4 inches, the height is 7 inches. For reference, the design is 145 x 145, so it should be 7 1/4 square. And no, the linen isn't washed or dyed, so it's not a shrinkage thing. That's a pretty big difference. It doesn't bother me that much, but it's just something to be aware of for anyone thinking about using this stuff! I thought maybe I had gotten some of the unevenweave linen she was selling a while back, but I'm pretty sure it's not since this was from a brand new shipment and I ordered after she had sold out of the uneven stuff. Oh well - it still looks great! I just know not to stitch anymore square designs on it. lol

And my last WIP, another Ink Circles, is Blackstone Fantasy Garden. I so wanted to start this over again in silk but so many people told me to stick with it, so I have. I'm almost finished all the cross stitch and have the last half of the blackwork to go. Now that I'm nearing the home stretch, I'm pleased with how it looks and I'll finish it, but it's been a labour of love getting this far.

There ya go fudgey - I know I promised this yesterday, but I got sidetracked playing playstation and doing laundry. And now I have to run off to work. No idea yet when I'll have another day off, but I will try to update again when I do!