Saturday, February 27, 2010


I got some mail late this week. WOO HOO! Not my model stuff, but I did get word that the fabric was holding up the order and it would be on it's way soon.

I did however, get my Belle Soie. OMG. Seriously. These are fantastic!!!!!!! I love these colours. If you love samplers, these threads are perfect. I LOVE the greens. On my next day off (Thursday) I will be diving into my threads and picking colours for the flower samplers. :)

And I got my kit for Alpine Garden. Okay, I know I said I wasn't starting it right away, at least until I finishing either Alhambra or Rose Garden, but I couldn't resist. I needed a pick me up yesterday, so I indulged. I ended up choosing a fabric from HDF, BeDrabbed I think it's called, in 35ct. So far it looks lovely, though I've only put in about a hundred stitches. I have to make a couple of comments though. I have several of the Chatelaine charts, and I love the way they stitch up, but I have to say, they're horrible to read. There are no numbers on the grid, I had to write them in. The backstitching isn't very well defined. And finally, the symbols are dreadful - the printout size is good and easy enough to see, but some of them are so similar it's hard to tell which one is which. I do prefer buying the printed charts to the pdf versions, I figure by the time I enlarge the pdf charts to a readable size and print them it's cost me not only my valuable time but a lot of printer ink getting them right, and the pdf versions are expensive to begin with. I'll keep stitching them up cause I do love how they look, just a few warnings to any Chatelaine noobs out there. I just hate having to wait for them to come out in print! lol

I finished Romy's Austrian Spot Sampler. YAY! It's stitched 1x2 on 45 ct white Florence, using a limited edition thread from HDF, called Double Dusty Rose. Unfortunately, it's from the old dye line, the closest colour to it now is a little more purplish. Thankfully, I've still got 2 1/2 spools of it. :D I'm very happy with how it turned out! Excuse the wrinkles, I haven't ironed it yet. :) This piece stitched up surprisingly quickly - I was able to do a couple motifs a day on my lunch at work, and finished the rest at home over the past week or so. I'm now dragging Sampler Cove's Enya back and forth to work with me, it's coming along rather quickly as well - over 1/4 done already. Of course I forgot it in my locker at work, so I'll have to take pics another day.

And after a very long and tiring day at work, I'm gonna go shower and stitch!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bloody teenagers!!!

This morning, on my day off, I get a knock on my bedroom door at 7:00 AM, and the boy says "all services are cancelled, buses aren't running."

So I drag my butt out of bed to go on the computer and check the school board's website to confirm this - especially given that there was only a light dusting - maybe an inch or two of snow on the roads, which had already turned pretty slushy. I load the page and voila, all services running as normal. So I yelled upstairs to tell him that. He said that it wasn't on the website, but the radio. So I loaded up two local radio stations and listened live to both of them - both had the school reports, both said everything running as normal. He said that one of his friends on facebook told him. So I went on facebook, only to find that neither Jon or I can see his profile anymore. This must have been very recent, I remember seeing him on there two days ago, because it was 5AM, I was up early for work and saw him logged in - and when he got up I got angry with him for leaving his computer on overnight because our hydro bill is so high. All of a sudden I'm on his block list? Sorry, but if there is something on his facebook he doesn't want us to see, then he's certainly not going to be using facebook anymore. So I went upstairs to tell him that. The deal with him having a computer in his room has always been that it remains an open book to us, the minute it isn't, he loses that privilege.

I opened the door to go upstairs, and got a facefull of smoke. A couple months ago, we not only caught him smoking, but stealing cigarettes from Jon. Absolutely unacceptable. We of course told him so, punished him, and told him that further instances of this would result in a loss of internet for good. I refuse to pay for internet service for him if he's going to steal from us. So today was a mighty big slap in the face. He denied he had been smoking. Now, I may be desensitized to smoke, but I CAN smell it if Jon has a cigarette lit or has just put one out, and the smell was extremely strong. He doesn't have a job, so where was he getting money for cigarettes?

He also denied blocking us on facebook. So after he left for school, we went up to his room to have a look. First, we found about 20 empty pop cans, all packed full of cigarette butts - most of which were Jon's brand. Plus 3 empty cigarette packs, 2 of which were Jon's and I know he stole them as Jon's cigarettes aren't a normal brand and you can't buy them here in town. We fired up his computer and went on facebook - and yes, we are both in his block list.

On top of this, he STILL hasn't brought his report card home from school. 2 weeks now. I'm calling the school today to find out his grades. I know he didn't fail anything because I would have had a call from the school if that was the case. However, I'm guessing he inflated his grades, because my mother, against my wishes, offered him monetary rewards for getting good marks, which she already paid him.

I'm past the point of angry. I'm hurt, insulted, and I think livid would be the term for it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I WILL finish it today.

I'm determined. I've been less than a thousand stitches away from finishing Romy's Austrian Spot Sampler for almost a week now. I'm now down to one motif and the corner of the borders. But as usual when close to a finish I can't concentrate on stitching for more than a minute or two at a time. Well that and the Olympics being on, it's hard to tear myself away to stitch. Canada had a fantastic day yesterday, my voice is definitely suffering after last nights spectacular game against Russia.

So much was made about the game against the US last week, that I think people forgot about Canada's decades old rivalry with the Russians. Canada dominated hockey for decades until the Russians took it over in the 50's. Even with the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia has always been a squad to be reckoned with, and they went into this Olympic tournament ranked first and were a favourite to win it. The Canadian team did what they have been unable to do for over 50 years last night - beat the Russians in the Olympics. Way to go boys. You looked fantastic. Keep it up!

I still haven't gotten my materials for my models. It's sad that my ability to do my job as a designer largely depends on our deplorable postal service. I've decided that once I get my sample threads I'm going to decide on colours for the next 8 designs all at once and get them all ordered. Since I won't be needing them right away (given the next 8 designs aren't totally complete yet, but in various stages) they might arrive in a more timely fashion as it only seems to be the times that I really need things that they take forever to arrive. To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement. I know I keep grumbling about it, but I can't help it.

Back the spot sampler - I love this piece, it is so beautiful stitched up. Romy has a wonderful style, her designs have a very timeless elegance. I've really enjoyed stitching this one, and will no doubt enjoy stitching the rest someday. Not sure what I'll work on after I finish this one, I might just close my eyes and grab a project bag. I got my perle silk for the Whitework sampler yesterday, but I'm not gonna start it just yet, I want that to be my reward for finishing my hearts model!

Well, off to shower, then a quick trip into Brantford to get my new contact lenses, and back home to watch more Olympics!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Excitement waning... frustration growing!

Why is it when I really need something to arrive in timely fashion, it takes weeks and weeks????

My fabric and NPI threads for my hearts sampler... still not here. 3 weeks now. My Belle Soie? 3 weeks on Monday. My personal stash? Still AWOL after 3 weeks. ARGH! It's annoying that USPS First Class mail doesn't include tracking!!!

While I'm ranting I'd like to include a few more for good measure...

First, ebay. What the heck is up with ebay? I was trying to bid on an item the other day. It took so long for the page to refresh and bring up the bid now option, that the auction ended before it loaded. It's been really slow like that since they changed their display format a few months ago. I have the latest versions of IE, Firefox and Google Chrome and it does it on all of them. I have a quad core, 3GB of RAM and a 2GB video card running Windows 7 - so it isn't my computer speed. It also did this on XP, so it's not the operating system. And I have a 5 meg internet connection, so that's not the issue either. It's ebay. Why the heck did they have to ruin it???

While on the topic of ebay, I have a few pet peeves about sellers on ebay.

1. I buy a fair number of silk threads and yarns on ebay, so most of my searches include the word "silk". Rayon is not silk. Anchor is not silk. DMC is not silk. Why the heck do people list something as a lot of "embroidery silks" and then in the description say "100 skeins of anchor cotton threads". Cotton isn't silk, it's misrepresentation and it's annoying as all get out. Further to this point - don't list "art silk" as 100% silk thread. Art silk is rayon, sometimes containing a small percentage of silk, but generally mostly rayon. Lugana, Jobelan and Aida are not linen. Linen is not a broad spectrum term for cross stitch fabric. Linen is linen. If you truly don't know what it is you're listing, then put good closeup pictures of the labels and/or what the labels have written on them in the description.

2. Shipping. What does it matter if you have to ship outside of the US? I'm paying for the shipping, so what's the issue? International shipping generally involves a little slip of paper that you have to fill out - what the item is and it's value. Less than a minute to fill out. Apparently this is too much of a hassle for some people to do. It annoys me because lots of times I'll see an auction I'd like to bid on, then see "no international shipping" and the item goes for a lot less than I would have bid on it. I figure it serves the person right, if you won't ship to me, you deserve to get a piddly amount for your auction.

Finally - 3. List things in the right category. If I want to look at cross stitch kits, I'll go to the category called cross stitch kits. I get so sick of going to check out cross stitch floss only to have a huge section of listings for cross stitch charts or kits - most of which are from a couple of Chinese companies, and most of which are copyright infringing rip offs of other companies' designs. If I want machine embroidery thread, why the heck would I click on hand embroidery thread? Put the stupid listing in machine embroidery thread!! GRRR

But, enough about ebay. My next rant... customers. One of these days I'm going to snap and say one or all of the following:
1. I only have two hands, and I'm already using them with the customer that is three people ahead of you in line, but if you insist on butting in and interrupting, I'll gladly sprout a third arm out my butt to slice your meat for you right this second.
2. Clearing your throat six times, crossing your arms and tapping your foot isn't going to speed me up, especially when I've already told you that I'll be with you in just one moment, I need sanitize the equipment. I have food safety standards I have to adhere to, but if you want e-coli, I'd be happy to serve you right this second.
3. I work in the deli department, as indicated by the big huge sign over my head that says DELI. Much as I'd like to be omnipotent in this store, I can't slice your bread for you. See that big sign over there that says BAKERY? They'd be happy to help you with that. Nor do I have the equipment to core your pineapple, steam your lobster or cut you a prime rib roast. I'm good, but I'm not that good.
4. The fact that all the lights in the department are turned off and you don't see any staff in it is a good indication that the department isn't open yet, but by all means, stand there and peer into the dark counter for the next fifteen minutes until someone notices you're there and informs you that the department isn't open yet.
5. I don't even have the time to empty my dangerously full bladder at the moment, but sure, I'll give you a guided tour of the store and be your personal shopper for the next half an hour. It's what I live for.
6. Please continue talking on your cell phone while I'm trying to take your order. While you're at it, can you hold your hand up to me or shush me so that you can talk? I really love it when you do that. I live to serve you and have nothing better to do than to wait for you to finish.
7. No, the chickens aren't ready. It's six o'clock in the morning. If you'd like one right this minute, I can use my trusty blowtorch and cook one for you. Just wait right there a moment. OR No, the chickens aren't ready. I'm terribly sorry, in future I'll plan my day around your need for chicken at six o'clock in the morning. OR Yes, the chickens are right in front of you, but they're only visible after ten AM.

There are lots more of those, but those are the ones that spring to mind at the moment. I have actually used the last one about invisible chickens before. Luckily the customer had a good sense of humour!

I'm in a bad mood. I had a rough day at work, and a couple of us are getting really ticked off with other people not pulling their weight. To make matters worse, said person then had the nerve to complain about how tired she was after a very busy day. What busy day? You served 10 customers and made a couple of pizzas in 7 hours. The rest of us served a hundred or more each and did 3 times the production you did!!!!

I'm sleep deprived too - I blame the Olympics, I have to see what happens even though I know I have to be up early for work. I figure it's only once every 4 years, so I'll live with being grumpy for a couple weeks. Thankfully, I have a day off tomorrow and I can sleep in.

And I don't know what I did, but my right shoulder is screaming in pain. I want to go relax and stitch, but I have a feeling it's going to hurt too much. :( I'm sure as heck going to try though.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In honour of the Olympics...

First, I just have to get this out of the way.... what a heart stopping hockey game that was. I literally have no voice left - I'm one of those people who seem to think the players can hear me screaming at them through the television. But thankfully, Canada got it done in the end. We really have to pick it up again if we want the gold - performances like tonight just aren't going to do it. And what the heck was up with Iginla? I hope he's not injured, I know he got an elbow to the head but he seemed to be okay, but he sat out most of the 3rd period. The next game is going to be a tough one, so I hope he's fine.

GO CANADA!!!!!!! Having just watched the medal ceremonies for speed skating, I'm all choked up. :') Very proud to be Canadian.

Anyway... In honour of the Olympics, I've decided to have a contest. I've been thinking about what kind of contest for a while now, and I thought this would be a great opportunity. :)

I've been dying to see some pictures from stitchers - finishes or even works in progress, so the contest is just that! Send me pictures! Contest details here:

A couple more stitchy parcels have arrived! Unfortunately none that I need for model stitching, but some nice ones just the same. :) And order from HDF of Delphinium and Ocean Pools. Now, these aren't standard thread colours, they are new additions to the ribbon line, but I ordered them in silk thread because they're just so pretty - and IRL they are more than pretty, they're breathtaking! Now I know these aren't "official" colours, but the beauty of HDF is that if you want it, and you can convince others to want it, you can always request Vikki dye more of it in her Custom Spool forum. :) Just beware - that custom spool forum is very addictive!

I also got a wonderful order from Traditional Stitches - Janice has started carrying Weddigen linen in 36 count (well I counted it out to 35 count) in a gorgeous creamy colour. It's got a lovely soft hand to it, and it's very affordable. I'm dying to give it a test drive, but it will have to wait a little while, I have waaaay too much on the go. But I am almost finished the Austrian Spot Sampler - just a small bit at the bottom to go now. Been working on this one as my take to work piece and here and there at home, but I think I'll try and finish it before I rotate it out again, it's so close!

And now I'm rambling... been up since 4:30 and my brain just isn't working anymore. I really need to go to bed, but how I'm going to sleep tonight is a mystery - I'm so wired after that game! I suppose I'd better try though, I have to work at 6am again!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting excited...

My first package of goodies arrived on Friday, and I'm awaiting several more packages of goodies to come as I prepare to dig in and do some serious model stitching over the next few months.

I received a parcel from Gloriana of GORGEOUS Vanilla, in silk floss and silk perle for my hearts sampler. This is one of those "must have" colours for any silk enthusiast. It's a soft variation from a light cream to a deeper, richer cream, and is wonderful for soooo many things. I'll be using it for the lace in the design, but I really forsee several designs in future using it. It's so versatile, it could be used on a dark fabic for monochrome stitching, on light fabric for whitework style stitching, and that tiny bit of variation just adds an antique elegance I can't explain in words. Now I have to wait (not so) patiently for the NPI threads and Lakeside linen to get here so I can dive in head first! I still haven't officially named this design, and I'm open to suggestions. Temporarily, I've been calling it "Victorian Hearts", but that might change yet.

I'm also awaiting a BIG parcel from Arizona... I finally ordered the Crescent Colours Belle Soie silk set and I'm eagerly anticipating some serious silk fondling. I've been picking up a few colours of this thread here and there, and I'm in love with Sharon's style. She's got a real eye for sampler colours, her threads have a beautiful flow from light to dark shades and are just awesome to use in substitution for solid colours. While I love the bold colours from Dinky Dyes, and I love the dramatic colours from Gloriana, I think this series will make a lovely compliment to both of these in future designs. And since I have sooooo many new designs coming, what better time to increase my arsenal of thread colours?

On the design front - I'm waiting for my Belle Soie to pick colours for a few more new designs. Forget me nots are ready to stitch, Tulips and Daffodils are almost there, and Daisies are well underway. Still to come are quite probably Violets, Roses, Tiger Lilies and Bluebells. I'm going to have so much fun picking colours for these! And I'm excited, because the aida stitchers out there will finally be able to stitch something of mine, because this whole series is just plain old cross stitch. Of course I'll be stitching mine on 40ct Magnolia. ;)

I've also started work on a new band sampler. It will be a monochrome and quite probably be stitched in Gloriana's Vanilla as well. I really, really, really want to stitch this on a burgundy red fabric, though I'm having a tough time finding one in 40ct. I've found a couple, but they're either not widely available to stitchers or they're just plain too expensive to justify using. I may have to just accept that 40ct might not happen this time and just go with 32ct, since Ruby Wine Belfast is exactly the colour I'm looking for. This one will be a combination of cross stitch and specialty stitches as are most of my designs, and what I really want to play up in this one is texture. I anticipate that this will use silk floss, silk perle in two weights and quite possibly wool thread to accomplish this, but who knows until I really get going. :)

I'm also expecting some personal stash... I ordered a whole bunch of Carrie's Creations silks, I've been itching to try them out. I also finally caught up my collections to the most current colours - of course with Nashville this weekend, I'll have to catch up again in a week. And I ordered something "just for me". I finally kitted up Alpine Garden. Of course, I won't be starting it until I finish up with the two Chatelaines I already have on the go, and I'll be doing a whole lot of model stitching in the next while, but at least now it's ordered and I CAN start it when I finish my other two Chatelaines. Alhambra and Romantic Rose Garden are both about 2/3 done now. And I ordered a hank of silk perle #12 from HDF for my Whitework Sampler, and a couple of custom colours in really bright blues. I also really want to order the Mini of the Month colours, as Vikki's added a couple new reds that look interesting and I'd like to check them out, but that will have to wait until later in the month as I have a ton of model threads I need to buy first!

On another note, and touching back on my ever growing "thread arsenal"... I'm going through a bit of a dilemma, which is, "how much thread do I really need?". First, here's what I have... an NPI colour card, and full collections of Gloriana, Dinky Dyes and soon Belle Soie. I also have an almost complete tag set from HDF, a colour sample set from Eterna, and a full set of Sassy's Strings but I use those more for conversions than anything else now, simply because of their lack of availability to stitchers who don't use the internet to get their supplies.

Here's my dilemma. In doing some business planning, I've been trying to figure out what I still want/need to get to complete my thread arsenal. I know I have a decent collection going on, and that some may see future collecting as overkill or me being greedy, but I like to have my bases covered. I'd rather have ten choices for "the perfect blue" than have to search for one through pictures over the internet! I also know that not all threads are available at every shop, and it's important to me to be able to work with shops and stitchers alike to find colours that will work well for them in whatever is readily available to them. My decisions on what sets to buy largely depends on three factors. Do they have colours that are different enough from other companies? How easy is it for me to get samples and/or model threads? And finally, are they widely available to stitchers everywhere?

I'm fairly sure that at some point I will pick up the full line of Silk n' Colors, I do love the colours in this line, and I can see using them often. They're widely available in needlework shops everywhere and have a great array of colours. The company makes it very easy to purchase threads for models and colour samples. However, it's a big set - about 350 colours - even for a sample set it's a bit on the expensive side for me to purchase all at once. So I've already resigned myself to the fact that this will have to wait a while, but it will happen eventually.

I want an AVAS colour card, but I have a huge debate raging in my head about it. I love AVAS, and I love the huge selection of colours that they do. I use them frequently in my own personal stitching so I generally have a good supply on hand. The other benefit is that the shades that I find NPI's range lacks, AVAS has, so it's a good supplement to the solid colours I already have. I would also like to have it so that I can do conversions for shops that do carry AVAS instead of NPI. As far as how easy it is to aquire threads for models, I simply don't know at this point, I haven't yet needed to investigate this avenue. So I will probably get one when I come across a colour I need that NPI is missing. I do have a pretty huge collection of these already in my stash, so I might not need the card anytime soon.

As far as solid threads go, there is also the Splendor angle to consider. While I really like the threads, and the colours I've used are very pretty, do they offer anything that NPI or AVAS don't apart from being a bit more affordable, and how widely available are they to stitchers? I know they offer a colour card, which is a bonus. However, I find that their ranges are pretty limited - some only have 3 shades in the range, so I don't know how helpful they'd be. I don't know how easy they are to get for models, again, I've never needed to. And, the bulk of my designs use variegated threads, so another set of solid colours might be a little redundant and unneccessary. So these are a maybe, but probably not.

Next dilemma. Do I bother with a set of Northern Lights silks? I have several, and I love them. I also love that they co-ordinate beautifully with the NPI solids. Here's the dilemma - NPI doesn't do a colour card for them like they do for the solids. They also don't offer a discounted sample set, which is a bit expensive given that I won't actually be stitching with them and would just be using them for colour consideration. They are also currently very limited in their colours, with only 70 in the current set, and of those 70, most aren't that unique that I can't find something similar that would work just as well in another brand. However, I can get model threads easily and as I said previously, I really like them. Pondering their usefulness at this point in time, as I think this would be more of a personal stash aquisition than one I would frequently use for models.

And on to one of my biggest dilemmas. Caron Soie Cristale and Waterlilies. They don't do colour samples as far as I can see. They do printed cards, one for solid and one for variegated, both of which I have and both or which are pretty useless as far as determining what a colour REALLY looks like. I have tried on several occasions to contact them about designer samples and I never get a response, so I've resigned myself to the fact that if I want these, I'm going to have to get them at retail price, for both samples and model threads. On top of this is the fact that there is a huge variance in dye lots, so colour samples really aren't going to be that useful given that I might pick a colour based on a skein I already have, only to find that when I buy threads for a model that it doesn't look anything like what I wanted. And finally, one of the things I dislike about Waterlilies is that on a lot of the colours, the colour repeats are really, really long - like 18" per colour or more. That forces me to have to use seriously long threads to stitch with to get the variegation in my stitching, or to cut several lengths and work from several at a time instead of just one, else my stitching looks looks like blotches of solid colour all concentrated in specific areas. So why do I want them? Well, a LOT of shops carry them, especially the Waterlilies, so they're a good thread to have on hand for that reason. They're also very pretty, with some fantastic colours. And finally, they're a dream to stitch with. I really love how they stitch up. But does that justify the negatives? Right now, mostly because of the cost factor, I'd have to say no.

And I'm debating a set of Carrie's silks. I love her cotton colours, and I have some silks on the way to play with to see how I like the thread itself. If I like the thread, this might be a good set to own and use for models. The positives - Carrie has a great range of colours some solid-ish and some heavily overdyed. She also has some very unique colours that aren't similar to other companies. Thread samples and model threads are relatively painless to get and Carrie is lovely to work with. And they are affordable for stitchers, more so than some of the other threads on the market. The drawbacks though are the same as those for some of my other favourite threads. The availability in shops is pretty limited. If a stitcher doesn't have an internet connection, they might have a tough time finding them, depending on how willing shops are to order them. That's really the only major drawback, but is a relatively big one. If a stitcher can't find the materials, it's usually a pretty good bet that they won't buy the chart. I've said lots of times that I'm not in this to make a forture, but I would like to see people stitching my charts!

And finally, how far do I go to offer conversions? My last considerations are sets of overdyed cottons, namely Weeks Dye Works, Crescent Colours and Valdani. Maybe Gentle Arts. If I were to buy these, it would strictly be for conversions, as I don't really stitch in cotton and can't really see using them in models. However, I know lots of stitchers like cottons and would love to have conversions to overdyed cotton instead of just solid DMC. So more just pondering. I'd have to say probably not, at least not right now.

Some insight into the inner workings of my mind. Helps to understand why I ramble the way I do with so many things bouncing around in this skull of mine, no?