Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is it April yet?

I like snow. I like it when I can sit inside and watch it fall, maybe take a walk or build a snowman. What I don't like about it is driving in it, and Norfolk County is terrible at keeping roads clear. My road is always last to get plowed, and usually they come just as I finish shovelling the driveway. :/ It's been snowing pretty much steady since Thursday, with no end in sight. I'm about ready for spring now. We haven't had terrible amounts of accumulation, but apparently we're supposed to get lots more before it stops.

I would have some pictures to share with you today, but because of the "glorious" snow, I decided a trip into Brantford wasn't the best idea yesterday. It wasn't terribly bad, but I was already tired by the time I got off work, I'd been up since 4:30, so I thought it best to wait. So now the plan is Tuesday. I have to go visit mom at work, so she can show off the new piece and because one of her co-workers wants to see Sabrina (though she's not finished yet). Then I have to deliver some charts to Brenda and pick up some things and visit for a while. Then I have to stop at mom's house to borrow her camera so I can take pictures for the cover of Daffodil, and some pictures of my other WIPs to post.

Yes, I did finish Daffodil. I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday... can't remember now. lol I'm very happy with how it turned out.

What's next? Well I'm back to working on Sabrina, filling in all the white on the bottom half. I wanted something I didn't have to think too much about, and there are a lot of large areas I can just stitch without much counting. I've been itching to work on Rhapsody in Red though, so maybe I'll pull that out after I get back home Tuesday. :) After a short break from models, I'll be starting on Daisy, the third piece in the flower series. I've been informed by my model stitcher that she is progressing well on Tulip, so hopefully I'll have two to release at the Spring Online Needlework show. Then I'll probably take a break from the flower designs for a few months, I'm getting kinda flowered out. I've got a couple more almost ready to stitch, but I think I want another specialty stitch piece first.

I'm thinking it's time to do the last Celtic piece. I took a break from them since I was getting a bit tired of knotwork, but it seems I've got the bug back, I'm actually dreaming about it. So that will probably be next. I've got the fabric, which is a deep blue, but I haven't decided on threads yet. I know I want really light pastels in very wintry tones - light pink, light blue, light purple, light green... I went through my thread sets and pulled a couple of possibilities, will have to do some test stitching to decide for sure. There are some lovely pale colours in the Gloriana set that would work wonderfully for what I have in mind. Dinky Dyes has some great pale wintry colours too, though they're not quite as pale as what I have in my head. That said, it will greatly depend on how they stitch up. When looking at a whole skein, colours always appear darker than they stitch up, so the Dinky Dyes might be just what I'm looking for. I kind of hope they are - Jo is such a lovely lady to work with and I feel awful that I haven't used her threads yet. I love the colours, I just haven't had the perfect piece to use them on yet, so I'm hoping that this will be the one! The plan is to release it at the Fall Online show, so I've got lots of time to decide. :) Knowing me, I'll end up doing something completely different instead. Lots of ideas in my head swirling around like the snow outside, so who knows which one will pop out first.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A little of this and that

First, I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who let me know I was not being selfish in speaking to my parents about dinner at their house. Just to let you know, I spoke to my mother about it, and she has always understood. We've come to an arrangement. If we're invited for dinner and my father makes anything that has onions in it, then she will personally call and order me a panzerotti from my favourite pizza place (which I miss so much now living an hour away!), and if my dad doesn't like it he can sulk all he wants. After a couple visits, she's pretty sure he'll get the idea. So it's a win win. I still get to visit every few weeks, if my needs are not met, I get the bonus of my favourite panzerotti thrown in. Can't say that's a bad deal.

Second, you'll have to excuse my rambling today. I've got loads of things popping into my head as I type and will probably be all over the place in my posts!

Excitement is growing. February fast approaches, and with that comes the release of My Mother's Garden II. If you haven't read my previous rambling about it (because there have been quite a few rambles!) I'll explain. This design will be the next mystery design in The Gift of Stitching Magazine, and will run for six consecutive issues. I'm not going to spoil the mystery, but I will say it's big. :)

February also means Nashville, where Daffodil will be making it's debut. Daffodil, Forget Me Not and Hearts Entwined will all be making a visit to the show, the models will be on display in the European Cross Stitch suite. :) Man, I wish I got to travel as much as my needlework does!

And a little off topic... February also brings my baby's birthday. My baby will be turning 18 this year. :') As this milestone in my son's life approaches, I'm full of mixed emotions. My son will be an adult. Okay, well he'll legally be an adult. Metally... well... not so much. lol He's come so far in the past year. He's decided on a career and is actively pursuing it, he's buckled down at school (though he's decided and I agree that he'll return for one more semester of high school next year to boost his chances at getting the college he wants), he's gotten himself a job, and he's mostly dumped the attitude. He stood up to his alcoholic, absentee, on again, off again father and told him how he feels - and btw, the jubilation I felt when he did that was very difficult to contain, but I really didn't want his father hearing me hoot and holler in the background when he did so. He's grown up a lot in the past year, there's no denying it. And there's no denying how proud I am of him.

Okay, soppy crap out of the way now before the tears start streaming again. lol

A little announcement for those of you reading in the Southern Ontario area (or anywhere I suppose if you want to pay shipping) - if you are looking for the March 2011 issue of Cross Stitch and Needlework, containing the reprint of the American Sampler by Sandy Orten - Brenda at Country Accents in Brantford has just ordered it in. If you would like one set aside, call or drop her an email. I know a lot of places are selling out fast.

And something I read on a message board prompts this next comment. A tutorial of sorts....

Silk threads and fraying. Why do certain brands fray badly, etc. etc. If you're having this problem with the silk you're using, (or cotton for that matter) there are simple and effective ways to overcome it. First, check the needles you're using. If you're using John James or DMC - get rid of them. They almost always have burrs in the eyes which will catch on the thread and cause it to fray. Look into getting some Bohins or Piecemakers. The eyes of these are much, much smoother as well as slightly larger, which will lessen the friction on the thread. They're a little pricier, but not much. Plus they don't break and they take a lot longer to tarnish, so the price evens out as you can use them much longer. Second, check the size of needle you are using. The needle should be large enough to open up the hole in the fabric so the thread glides through effortlessly. If you're finding a lot of drag against the fabric, try going to a larger needle. I tend to use a 28 needle for 40 count plus, a 26 needle for 32-36 count and a 24 needle for 28 count (unless I'm stitching over one). It makes a great deal of difference in making the thread behave better. This also applies to different thicknesses of threads - for perles and metallics, definitely stick with larger needles - it will save you a lot of aggravation. These two simple things will make a world of difference. A couple other things you can try, though I don't find I need to if I use the right needle - dampen the thread before stitching. A slightly damp washcloth or sponge does the trick. However, wait for the thread to dry before using it especially with overdyed threads!! There is always the chance it will bleed onto your fabric. Use short lengths. I don't go terribly short - I pretty much always use an 18" strand. That seems to work fine. I wouldn't recommend going longer. And finally, I hear recommendations for Thread Heaven a fair bit. I won't endorse it as I've never used it personally. I should probably try it on a test piece to see the result. I don't want to take the chance that it will ruin the work or leave a residue on the thread. If anyone has any feedback on the stuff, I'd love to know before I test it out.

Oh, and on the subject of thread - and Nashville for that matter - I'm also excited about all the new colours coming out! Will have to update my thread collections again. Oh darn. More stash. Good thing I've got new designs to sell to pay for it. :D

And onto stitching A.D.D. It is inevitable with me, as I near the end of a project, I always, always stall. I don't know why. It's not that I've lost my stitching mojo, because I daydream about all the things I want to stitch - just not the project I'm trying to finish. And it's not that I don't want to finish it, because I really do. In fact, I'd be stitching right now, but was up for the diversion of blogging. In the past few days I actually find myself looking for things to do other than stitch - which is strange, I know. I do this every single time. WHY????? I'm bloody well almost there, and if I could just concentrate on it for a couple more days it would be done. Finished. Over. Finite. Then I wouldn't have to daydream I could just stitch something else. Honestly, if it wasn't a model, I'd have switched already. Maybe that's the problem - I know I HAVE to finish it. Not because I want to, but because it's necessary. Hmmm.... food for thought.

And finally, way off the topic of stitching. I've discovered a terrible diversion and time waster that I've fallen head over heels in love with. Cityville on Facebook. Anyone tried it? I can't stop myself. I'm addicted and I fully admit it. ARGH!

Okay. Now I have to stitch. After I check my city of course.

Monday, January 10, 2011

To Err is Human...

...and I'm only human.

I was notified by Brenda at Country Accents that there is an error in the instructions for Hearts Entwined. OOOPS.

To view and print the corrections, please click here.

A big thanks to Brenda - who, by the way, has just started Hearts Entwined along with two of the regulars from her shop. Can't wait for the next opportunity to visit. :D

In other news.... lol. I'm back to work on Daffodil as of yesterday. I got a bit of beading done on Sabrina, but deadlines are creeping up. Work, work, work.

So what did I buy with my GCs/Christmas money? Well I got beads for Sabrina (obviously), and I picked up the chart, beads, fabric and metallics for Petal Fairy. I also ordered Bliss Fairy and will pick up the materials for it when it arrives. AND I got beads and metallics for Bluebell, she's the first of the Pixie Couture Collection I'll be stitching. AND (promise not to laugh and roll your eyes!) I ordered fabric for all of the pixies that I plan on stitching. So far I think there are 24 in total, but there are a few I just don't like. So I ordered 11 fat quarters of Belfast in various colours. That will do the 18 I plan on stitching with a bit to spare where I just couldn't decide between two colours. :) Went with solids, as I'm finding that the beading on Sabrina is a little tight on the hand dyed. Plus, I wanted super ultra light colours, nothing too drastic. So, yes, I went on a Mirabilia rampage. lol I almost had heart failure when I started figuring out what I'll need for beads and metallics for all of those!! I think I'll be getting the materials for each one as I start it rather than all at once like the fabric. The list was very long and very scary. I went cross-eyed more than once while listing them all out.

I've also been doing some "business planning" over the last couple weeks, scheduling release dates for designs I have either ready to stitch or in the works. I've got the next 3 years booked up already more or less, but I think after Daisy (the design which will follow Daffodil), I'll go on to something different before doing the next flower. Either the final Celtic, the lace sampler I'm playing with, or a Christmas geometric I've been tossing around in my head. Just for a change, you know?

And finally, a little rant, which is not at all stitching related, but is bugging me.

I'll start the story off by saying that I am allergic to onions. Not deathly allergic, but the reactions seem to be getting more severe as time goes on. Hives, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and lately difficulty breathing/coughing until the inhaler and antihistamines kick in. Anyway....

Saturday was dad's 65th birthday. We were going to take him out to dinner, but he decided he wanted to just have us over there and he'd cook. Now he's well aware of my allergies, but for some reason he insists on using onions in everything, even when I am there. It's gotten to where we only go for dinner once every few months anymore because I'm sick for days after. Saturday he cooked duck. Two of them to be exact. He stuffed them with oranges and onions. Not one, but both of them. He also put slices of onion on the skin. I didn't know this until after I'd eaten the first bite and tasted it. I decided quickly that rather than cause a scene that I'd just eat it and then go home quickly before I started getting sick. The stomach cramps started before I'd even finished dinner, by the time we got home a couple hours later I was breaking out in hives all over my body. I noticed today I even have lumps on my tongue!!! My whole body itches, I feel like I have chicken pox, I still can't eat properly and I feel as though I have hay fever. All so I wouldn't hurt his feelings on his birthday. This is the second time in as many weeks - Christmas dinner wasn't much better. However, from now on, I won't be eating at my parents anymore. If we HAVE to go for dinner, I'll order something in for myself. If it hurts his feelings, too bad. I'm not going to risk being hospitalized for the sake of his feelings anymore. And I'm not going to make excuses anymore either - I usually say I have to work or something when we're invited unless it's a special occasion we can't get out of. It's not that I don't want to visit, I just don't want to eat there. From now on when asked, I'll say I'm sorry but I won't come for dinner anymore. Period. It's not fair to me, selfish or not.

Phew. Rant over. Time to make dinner. Without onions.