Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sorry for the lapse!

Things got so ridiculously busy. Then I neglected to take pictures of a few presents for various blood relatives. Yup.

I have been fairly stressed out. Everyone except me got a stomach bug so I did the shopping for Christmas Eve dinner. Not to mention last minute stitching, baking, and being tired as fuck.

Honestly I'm glad it's over. This year and the next few are odd and different, as my sister and her husband are deciding what Christmas traditions they want to have. Plus Benjamin is old enough to really know what's going on, which means a quieter Christmas Eve and Christmas morning might be desirable.

I need to get some more of the oatmeal Aida for my second classic children's book cover - Understood Betsy. I've also got some other things I'm working up but the brain still hasn't recovered from the tiredness and the stress. I do a lot of staring blankly into the distance.

Anyway, hope to be back with a proper update soon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In-jokes and children's books...

Sometimes I procrastinate for ages on a project, finally start them, and find they go so quickly it's ridiculous. I don't expect anyone but me to enjoy this piece, but I will show you to it anyway. It's a quote from Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. I do quite like my canoe design.

My childhood was chock full of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. Lots of Carl Barks and lots of Don Rosa. My dad and I bought each issue of the Life and Times series and read them aloud together. It's such a special memory for me and it's all thanks to Don Rosa.

My dad and I crack up every time we say/read this line. I think he'll enjoy it. Also, here's the actual finished picture of my Five Little Peppers piece. The border really completes the piece and makes it perfect. I've already finished the pattern for the original cover of Understood Betsy as well.

Christmas is looming but I'm generally prepared. There's lots of baking to do though, and maybe one more embroidery project. Tomorrow I have things to mail and then I may begin getting to grips with transcribing the pattern from the Royal Winton Queen Anne chintz tea cup pattern.

There's always something...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Five Little Peppers... Finished!

I am finally done with the Five Little Peppers piece! It was an uphill battle. There was a flaw early on and, being lazy, I decided to just alter the pattern a bit instead of unpicking hours of stitching. 

Of course then later on I didn't think to allow for that and had to unpick a ton of shit. It could have been worse, but christ... I nearly abandoned the piece at one point. Glad I didn't though. All in all, I think it's a lovely piece. I definitely want to do a few more book covers.

Now I've got one more Christmas present piece to work on. The pattern was giving me trouble so I'd half decided to skip it. It would be a really fun piece to give though so I think I'll try to make it work.

my adorable nephew!
Let me tell you, there are some days when I despair of making my own patterns. I've only ever stitched one thing that's entirely someone else's pattern. I've taken some pieces of borders from the Repertoire des Motifs and various quite old patterns but they've always taken a lot of tinkering and extra work. I think the effort is worth it, but sometimes it does keep me from stitching since the thought of having to the make the pattern will put me off. C'est la vie, I suppose.

In contrast to all that frustration I had the most wonderful visit with my nephew, Benjamin. He came over to my apartment for an hour or so while his mama did some errands and he was the most well-behaved little thing imaginable. Did everything the first time I asked him, didn't mess with my stuff, and was generally adorable. He carried those mice around during the whole visit (they're my mice, not his). Now I'm in the dilemma of "should I give him and his sister the mice for Christmas..." but he doesn't really like soft toys at the moment and I think it's probably better to keep the few toys I have over here. 

Yes, I am justifying keeping my adorable stuffed mice all to myself. They're named Nourishing and Dark Tan after two of the rats in Terry Pratchett's marvelous book, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. I quite want to go back to Ikea and get a dozen more since they're so cute (and only 99 cents each).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pepper Progress

Here's a picture of the progress of Five Little Peppers. Hoping to get more of that thread on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I have been beyond lazy this weekend but also quite beyond tired and sore. There's so much to do and lots of time, but no energy at all.

Also posted my pattern for the Ambrose Bierce quote in my Etsy shop.

If anyone has a lovely old book cover that's a favorite, please link me to it! I'm look for other pretty covers to make patterns of.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Matching Papers

Bit more progress on the Five Little Peppers piece, but now I'm out of that color. I can't get more until Tuesday or Wednesday and it's driving me a bit crazy. I really want to work on it, but of course I can't. Evil.

I did knit another hat though, which is something. Otherwise I've been wrapping Christmas (I'm one of those annoying people who's done in early November). I'm immensely pleased with my wrapping paper this year. I got the shiny ones really cheap at Home Goods and I think they all look nice together. I suppose it would look nicer if instead of the brown paper one I had an all-black paper, but that would be boring.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Five Little Peppers - first look

Well here's the first look at Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. It's quite a large piece, being about 12 1/2 inches tall and even for the size still feels woefully simplified.

I'm enjoying the way it's coming together though and I'd like to do more similar pieces. What lovely decor it would be for a children's room or library to just have embroidered book covers on the walls. 

Though for myself I wouldn't want to have all my books in one separate room in my house. Part of my enjoyment is looking at them. Staring at the shelves and just... remembering. Remembering where I got the book, when I first read it, who read it to me, etc... Every book is a time capsule of some point in my life.

Monday, November 28, 2011

another type of needlework...

The colors are a fair bit darker in person.
I suppose you could call knitting needlework... I mean, you do it with needles after all. Anyway, I bought some gorgeous and super soft yarn to make a baby hat for my niece and I did.

Then I knit a hat for me with the same yarn! Okay, it might not actually be a hat for me (we'll see) but isn't this yarn absolutely stunning? It's good for kids things since it's only 30% wool (machine washable is the way to go with toddler/baby things). It really is super soft though. 

Doing a hat or scarf with alternating stripes of this yarn and a white or black yarn would also be pretty neat.

I did start work on my Five Little Peppers cross-stitch piece and I think it will look nice. It's quite tall though and stitching it will generally be a bitch (it's super easy to fuck up). I'll post progress on it in a couple of days.

OH! There are also some new patterns in my Hardcore Stitchcorps shop including my Tintin pattern and the Arsenal football crest. If you still need an awesome winter hat check out my knit goods Etsy shop.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Five Little Peppers...

Spent most of today asleep recovering from all the standing and cooking of Thanksgiving. Part of the way my body recovers when I'm ultra-sore is by passing out for most of a day even after a full night's sleep. I went to bed at midnight, woke up at 8:30, spent half an hour with my dad, and then fell back asleep until 3:30. I woke up every couple hours but fell asleep again almost immediately each time.

During the afternoon I worked on a pattern of the cover of the book Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. It's an old children's book, originally published in 1881. The edition I have is an especially sweet one published in 1909. As soon as I saw the cover I knew I wanted to make a cross-stitch pattern of it.

I need to pick a new project to work on, but I'm too exhausted to think of it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

yet again...

This is a hard time of year for me. First it's my nephew's birthday, then my sister's, then my brother-in-law's, then Thanksgiving. After that it's clear sailing though, since I've had all my Christmas shopping done for ages.

I've been being really productive and doing actually useful things, so of course the embroidery suffers. Really it's a good thing though as I needed to clean out my fridge and get a new dresser and all that.

What I'm super excited about is having bought the best tea cup ever! It's the Royal Winton Queen Anne chintz design which is a cross-stitch pattern basically. How cool is that? I can't wait to the do the matching tea napkin.

There are new patterns in my Etsy store and I'm hoping to start an Uncle Scrooge quote for my dad for Christmas. My brain is so sick of working on patterns on the computer though. 

Instead I'm burying myself in True Stories of the Great War a collection of stories/articles edited by Francis Trevelyan Miller. When you read the titles you have to say them around in a very dramatic newsreel voice. Titles such as "Tales of the Daring Rides of a French Trooper" and "What the Kaiser's Son Saw on the Battlefield." I am utterly mad for that kind of thing. It's usually interesting but also makes me giggle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am slowly recovering from the North Carolina mini-vacation. I'm not hurting as much now but I'm just completely exhausted to the point where small tasks make me shake a bit.

We did squeeze a lot into a short vacation though. The Scrap Exchange was freaking AMAZING and I highly recommend a trip. I didn't buy much in the line of craft supplies because I have so many already, but I found two record sets (a Big Band compilation and an opera) and everything was fifty cents!

I bought too many books, got that one last Christmas present which was eluding me, and got a more serviceable sugar bowl and creamer for every days. We went to the Replacements showroom which was freaking INSANE. Huge and full of gorgeousness, such expensive gorgeousness. We also went to some nice gardens and did our Ikea-ing.

Here is the finished Ambrose Bierce quote. My embroidery energy got a little blah because of skipping some stitches in the Celtic G which mean I have to start over. Glugh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

happy Armistice Day!

Today is Armistice Day. My grandfather Guthrie was overseas during WWI because he was quite ancient, having been born in 1900 and being 48 when my own father was born. He joined the navy, loved the hammocks, got a lot of tattoos, and dated many girls in Scotland (slightly bribing their parents with goods from the ship's store). I couldn't find the paper poppy I made last year so this time I knit one! Turned out very nicely.

Also I thought I had a picture of my latest finished project but it turns out I don't! Gasp! It is a piece with the Ambrose Bierce quote "Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave- driver." It turned out beautifully and I can't wait to show it to you!

I'm taking a mini-vacation with la madre or I'd take a picture right now. With me on this trip I have the materials to start another Celtic letter project from Mike Vickery's book Celtic Cross-Stitch. This time I'll be doing a G for my niece Geneva.

Here is an excerpt from my favorite WWI poet, Wilfred Owen, and his poem Insensibility. You can read the full poem here.

     Happy are men who yet before they are killed
     Can let their veins run cold.
     Whom no compassion fleers
     Or makes their feet
     Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
     The front line withers,
     But they are troops who fade, not flowers
     For poets' tearful fooling:
     Men, gaps for filling
     Losses who might have fought
     Longer; but no one bothers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I thought I had posted an entry about this project but apparently not! My brain is draining.

Today was my nephew's third birthday! I got him some books, because I just don't like buying toys for children (who all have too many toys already). My mom got him a cheap ukulele though, which he was adorably strumming.

Anyway. Not sure whether I'll add another lighter yellow past the orange-yellow (which is completed now). I do like the general look.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Well here is Tintin, all finished. I think it turned out absolutely beautifully.

It's a bit hard to decide what to do with it, since my siblings and I all grew up with Tintin comics and my nephew Benjamin loves Tintin as well. Benjamin isn't really in a position to appreciate art though. I will probably end up selling this, just because I've already embroidered Christmas presents for most of my family.

I'm really a bit proud of the pattern though. The only thing I don't like is the left side of the spotlight. It looks a little odd/flat because of Tintin being in the way. I'm sure it's fine and Madre would scoff at me for thinking about it but that's just the way I am.

Now it's time to come up with the next project. I think I need something snarky and adult to keep up my subversive credibility.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Massive Tintin progress

So here's quite a lot of progress on Tintin. The spotlight improved the piece amazingly and the black is looking great. The full cross stitches around the leg (and around Snowy) still show up very well even in the sea of black half-stitches, which had been my main worry.

The only thing I don't like is that now the shadow stitches look a lot lighter, but that's a pretty small complaint. There's a lot of black to fill in but it's going more quickly than I expected (though that's true of pretty much every project).

Monday, October 24, 2011

more Tintin

Here's a lot of progress on the Tintin. I've now started the yellow spotlight bit in full stitches and it looks SO great next to the half-stitches of the shadow.

My pondering now is whether I can do some darker half-stitches around the all the whole thing, as it looks odd to have a spotlight on light fabric. I would do them face the opposite direction from the shadow stitches and probably not in black (though maybe) but in something darker than the shadow at least.

Glugh! It's all getting a bit complicated! The endless yellow stitches did take me through the end of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was a 26 hour long audio book. Poor woman died with one chapter left to write. Instead of having something complete the book they had some friend of hers write an epilogue talking about what Mrs. Gaskell had told everyone the last chapter would contain, which I think was rather sweet. It was a wonderful book, though at times the pacing of mid-19th century books gets me down. It never really hots up or does anything quickly. You always know how things will turn out in these older books but how they get there and the writing is so lovely.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finished coaster

Well my lovelies, here is the finished Steal Your Face coaster which I'm rather dissatisfied with. The reason being that I left out some back stitch lines on either side of the skull that I meant to do.

My brain just can't hold anything anymore.

I have had a bit of wine so I'm not going to keep typing. Never know what might slip out!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Steal Your Face

Well here's the basic pattern for my Grateful Dead coaster. Again, it's from the Steal Your Face album. I think it turned out pretty well for the size. It should really have been a larger pattern in order to keep more of the detail, but this is for a coaster with a fixed size and even then I had to stitch it on 18 ct. Aida. I'll be doing the red and blue sections in half stitches so the black stays prominent.

I may design a larger more accurate version and who knows, maybe I'll do a series of band logos. When I was 15 or so I would do my own punk covers of Grateful Dead or Bob Dylan songs to annoy my mother. If only I'd known any Pink Floyd songs that would have annoyed her the most! Though I think in generally she's a bit scoffing toward most covers or any song she actually likes.

I've also gotten a bit more done on my Tintin piece and may possibly have found a decent orange to use for his hair. So now the trick is whether that orange makes the skin tone acceptable. The skin tone color is close enough to what's in the books but you know how it is, can't tell how it will work with the orange until the stitches are next to each other. It might at least work in half stitches, but I've used so many of those in this piece already that I'd rather have full stitches.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I grew up with Tintin and Asterix comics, and while Asterix will always be my favorite, I'm very attached to Tintin. We had some of the Tintin cartoons too, which I adored.

So here's my Tintin-in-progress. It will be just like my base image (just without the black fill background. I think I need to get a lighter skin tone though and also need to look for a good color for his hair, so the project is on hold for a bit. I think it's a really good translation from my base image to the cross stitch though!

Now I'm trying to design a pattern of the Grateful Dead logo from the Steal Your Face album. With Christmas coming a lot of the things I'm stitching either can't be posted here (since they're presents) or are so obscure that I don't think you guys would enjoy them. I did design a fabulous blackwork ax though, so if anyone needs an ax design, just ask!

I'm desperately hoping that I won't have to turn the AC on again this season, but it's hard to say. Sometimes it's still pretty warm during the day. All my plants are inside though and I've rearranged some of my succulents. These days my only non-succulents are my lemon tree and a lone African violet. Oh, and the cat grass but that doesn't really count.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tom Lehrer, part two

Well, she's all done. Live pigeons, dead pigeons, bottle of poisons, and a few skulls for good measure. Classic. 

It is obviously only the first of my Tom Lehrer lyric pieces. Next will probably need to be a line from The Old Dope Peddler. Also of course I need to decide whether to sell the pigeon piece or keep it for myself. I don't really have room to hang up more art at the moment, but eventually I might...

Now I'm waffling over whether or not to start another piece with a quote from Kim Possible. I can't tell whether it would be at all amusing to anyone else though, and while I know a few adult KP fans (it is seriously a hilarious show) I don't know that there are a lot of them. The quote is "Your fancy pants will become your very undoing," (it's best if you say it in a German accent). So, opinions? Workable? 

Otherwise I'll start work on Scrooge McDuck/Don Rosa quote piece that will be a Christmas present for my dad. I finished another Christmas present but I haven't blogged about it since it's such an obscure reference. I did design a nice blackwork ax for it though, which I'm a bit proud of.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life is skittles and life is beer...

I love Tom Lehrer's music. Absolutely love it. My dad found it when he was in college and introduced me to it when I was in middle school. My first exposure was the song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, which my dad chose to teach me (we drove a lot, so we sang in the car all the time) because I don't like birds. I spent a good portion of my senior year singing "Bright College Days" at people.

Yes, that was me in the park as a 10 year old running and screaming at the pigeons to make them fly away. You can't just run at them, they don't go far enough. I perfected a sort of squawky crow noise that worked wonders. I still do it as an adult, even from a wheelchair. 

So here's a WIP shot of the Tom Lehrer embroidery I'm working on. The border below the text will be a line of dead pigeons. Then I'll be doing rows of poison bottles and a skull on either side. Overkill? Perhaps, but that's the point of the song!

My favorite line in the song is actually "We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment, except for the few we take home to experiment," but it doesn't make a good stand-alone embroidery piece. The line I chose is recognizable to fans but not the most predictable choice. Plus people who don't know the song might also find it funny. 

The only downside is that while working on it I literally can not get the song out of my head. Even while listening to other music my head is still singing about poisoning pigeons.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

pretend quilting

I finally present to you the completely finished (and framed) color-fade blackwork piece. It's not exactly what I wanted, because I didn't start with a large enough piece of fabric but it does look pretty. 

Plus it gave me a lot of ideas for color fade pieces which I could then do properly. Before that I need to bulk up my thread collection. I have a ton of embroidery floss, but not enough oranges and not enough blues and missing some important reds. It feels like I never have the colors I want.

I got a new computer, as mine was getting run down (especially in the touchpad department) and I'd like to have a backup that still works normally. The new machine is running Linux because holy crap I hate Windows 7. I thought I just disliked it, but having to use it for more than two minutes at a time amped the dislike right up to despise. 

We used Linux on all the computers at my high school (a tiny boarding school) so I'm not completely unfamiliar with it (though even if I was Ubuntu is SO intuitive that it should be easy for anyone to use). The best part for me is downloading all the free applications. I got a geography lesson program and can now identify all the countries on all the continents and a number of island nations. When something big happens in Moldova or Togo I'll know just where they are! I'm beyond psyched about this.

So thank you, Microsoft, for completely screwing up the operating system I grew up with and liked using. You even managed to make networking my two computers a pain and not workable. Now that's talent. Change for change's sake is always a bad idea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

moths and daleks

Well there's news all around. I finished my moth piece. Again, it comes from Leslie Wilkins' Traditional Blackwork Samplers, though I've removed a lot of the little elements which I felt took away from the lovely moth. I'm fairly pleased with it. Not thoroughly pleased but I'll give it to someone so I don't have to look at it any more.

Also, someone will be stitching my Dalek pattern on stage in a play they're in! It's the play The Great Fire, being performed in Chicago at the Lookingglass Theater (which just won an award for Best Regional Theater). So hundreds of people will be witnessing my pattern being stitched whether they know it or not. Too bad you can't send business cards with a .jpg file! It's a nice warm feeling though.

I have been so lazy with the crafts though. I resolve to start work on a new funny pattern tomorrow though. Perhaps a Tom Lehrer quote.

Friday, September 16, 2011

new project

Started a new project the other day. It could be finished but I think I'll add another row of the moth pattern before the top one, but with slightly different colors. 

I do like how they've turned out, and it makes the frustration that comes with satin thread almost worth it. I hate satin thread. Hate it to death! Sometimes you need the effect though.

Might I recommend to all a book and a sequel to that book? The books are Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. They are absolutely wonderful. She's most known, I think, for her book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which is quite good, but the two I just mentioned are a lot better (and that's saying something). Shanghai Girls follows two sisters sold in marriage to strangers in California. They're going to avoid going but then the Japanese come and their tickets to the US seem like the only escape. That's just the very beginning of the book but you can read longer descriptions elsewhere. Trust me when I say it's a wonderful, worthwhile read and the sequel, Dreams of Joy, is even better.

Monday, September 12, 2011

shine on, shine on harvest moon...

My best African violet
The days have been long, but I've immersed myself in reading about Mao's 'Great Leap Forward' and the resulting massive famine and extreme leaps of stupidity. 

I think my creativity gene might just be on vacation. Or that colorfade has sapped everything from me. Maybe that's it, repetitive patterns are bad for the brain! That piece is almost done, as it the smaller green to blue with the same pattern. 

Tonight I started on piece from Leslie Wilkins' Traditional Blackwork Samplers. Then I messed it up and had to unpick an entire evening's work. Thank you, brain-dead Meredith. 

It's a good night to look at the moon. Why? Well, it's full and it's the Moon Festival tonight! So I stood at the open window and sang all the moon songs I know, quite loudly.  A lot of them are old 30s and 40s songs, so maybe some of the oldies in my building got a nice surprise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

more color fade action

Well, I'm sadly growing more and more annoyed with this piece. I didn't plan it all that carefully, so I didn't use a large enough piece of fabric to do a real rainbow fade piece.

For that you need to go red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow green, green, green-blue, blue, blue-purple, etc.... My blues which look bluer on their own just look teal in this piece and the whole thing is making the OCD cringe. I'm almost done though and then I can give it to someone as a gift or try to sell it.

I'm working on a smaller even more gradual color fade piece that's just green going into blue in a four inch hoop. 

I suppose I'll have to start on the Celtic style G for my niece at some point. It would be nice to have it ready for my sister's birthday or Christmas, which won't be a problem even if I don't start for another month.

Today I saw my nephew Benjamin with a mandolin pretending to be Chuck Berry. Which I'm sure you'll agree is adorable. Though I'm slowly trying to ween him from Chuck Berry as there's only so many times I can listen to the same four songs. Plus there's lots of other good early rock and it enforces the idea of taking turns.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

tough few weeks

I expect to spend the next few weeks thoroughly embroiled in needlework, reading, and cleaning. Madre is off to Japan. Hopefully she will call when she gets there despite the time, because I tend to worry about these things. I mean, I know planes fly via black magic, but people do assemble them and people are terribly fallible. 

Anywhere, there's good progress on my color fade piece and I might be done with this "People: what a bunch of bastards" piece. I might add a skinny leaf detail to the top, but I'm undecided. I feel like I should do some cross stitch as I haven't done any for ages.

Otherwise I've been conquering the world playing Rise of Nations, though I wish you could be any nation. I really wanted to conquer the world as Wales, since they deserve it. Alas. Maybe next time I play Civilization I'll be the Celts and give all the towns Welsh place names.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Pursuit of Order

I can't wait to start chewing these cuticles
and driving everyone crazy with symmetry.

The older I get the more my slightly OCD habits become more obvious. I'm a bit odd in that I don't have a particular compulsion for cleanliness, I'm quite a messy crafter. I'd love for things to be perfect and each thing to have a place but I don't have the physical ability to make that happen. Plus I dislike other people organizing my things.

At boarding school after meals we have "stacking." You scrape and the stack the plates at your table, put all the silverware on one plate, stack the cups, etc... I had trouble with cups. There were two types of small plastic cup that were the same size but stacked differently so one stacks a bit shorter than the other. I would trade one type of cup for the other with a nearby table so I could have two symmetrical stacks. Obviously they could all go in one tower but that was too high and made me nervous because of the possibility of it falling over and clattering everywhere.

I also get obsessive about arranging things. I can spend days reorganizing my books into their various genres (and of course they MUST be alphabetized by author). I even spend too much time organizing the books on my Kindle. I don't have enough DVDs to warrant alphabetization so I organize them by spine color, and I like to re-do that every few months. I do the same thing with my embroidery floss, since I like the colors to be organized by shade from light to dark.

What I'm more worried about is that I'm starting to have compulsions about making sure the door is locked. I live in public housing, there are very odd people about and it is important to the keep the door locked. After a year here I now check it's locked every time I walk by and sometimes worry over whether I locked the door when I go out. I don't particularly want to be that person. I have enough to worry about already.

It's hard for me to look at my mom's computer desktop because of useless icons all over the place. I always have to stop and clean it up. I look over people's shoulders and know that I could do whatever-it-is on the computer faster and more efficiently than they can. This drives everyone crazy and makes them want to kill me.

What obsessions/compulsions do you have?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

People: What Are They?

This is a question I often struggle with. People. Do they suck or do they rock? I suppose it depends on the day and your relation to them, but I'm a curmudgeonly old lady who's gotten a bit too particular over tea cups, books, and baking supplies.

Of course this has led me to believe that Jon Richardson is my ideal partner. I'm somewhat compulsive, I always know where my keys and purse are, I'm a bit particular but not super intense about it. The perfect mixture of his "putter" and "leaver" personality types. Plus he's handsome. Plus I am super awesome and quite a catch. Who could resist.

This piece of embroidery, which is probably still a work-in-progress, is a quote from The IT Crowd. Now, I much Black Books as it's a bit less reliant on stereotypes than The IT Crowd, but this is still a very funny show. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

on the subject of cheese

Hung out with my nephew for three hours. Extremely tired.

This is a GK Chesterton quote, which I love. I also love cheese, obviously.

My dad is coming down this weekend which I'm super excited about. 

Now I must pass out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

progress on the color fade

I've made some more progress on the color fade project. I need to go on another thread run to find the right colors in the right shade group. It doesn't help that the light in the embroidery thread aisle is the worst in the store. It's coming along well though and I like the effect.

The Quilt National show at the Dairy Barn was absolutely amazing. I've to a number of the Quilt National shows and this has been the best. There's a lot less hand quilting in it, which is a shame. A few shows back there were a couple huuuge amazing, completely hand quilted pieces but there were also a few quilts that just left me a bit blah. This show everything was amazing.

This is my favorite piece, Rook Road by Elizabeth Brimelow. The minute I saw I told my mom it looked like a map and it turns out that's exactly what Ms. Brimelow was quilting! My vision rarely lines up with the artist's vision, and it doesn't need to, but it is exciting when it does. The presentation of this quilt is also incredible and really allows some of the wrong side quilting to show through beautifully.

It's everything I love about quilting. Creativity in design, creativity in display, and a clear but uncommon vision.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

things in bad taste...

My dad often gives me recommendations for things with the added warning that said article is in bad or questionable taste. This is similar to how he enjoys many of the British shows I share with him (Still Game, Father Ted, and Black Books among others) but feels he needs to add the bad taste quotient, just to maintain "old guy" credibility perhaps. 

In any case, I know he'd say the same about this piece using the A.D. Wintle quote. Truthfully it's not the type of piece I would normally do either but I just so enjoyed the quote and the fact that I couldn't find any context for it. Who knows how Mr. Wintle meant this, perhaps he was speaking of horses. I shall never know, but I do love it in this context. 

Tomorrow should be a pretty inspiring day in terms of crafting. In Athens, Ohio an art museum called The Dairy Barn hosts a quilt show every other year (alternates with a bead show). I've gone with my mom before and we're going again tomorrow. There are a few things I did as a kid (not a tiny kid, but a kid) that just belonged to my mom and me, which isn't all the common for those of us with four older siblings. This is one of those and it's always an amazing show. 

Plus I love being in Athens. One place my dad lived we had to drive through Athens to get there. We stopped on the way there and back every other weekend, so even though I never lived in Athens I know it very well and I'm very attached to it. Ohio University is located there so it has great shops and restaurants, plus a lovely little park with a small stream where my dad and I would sale paper boats we'd made. It's a happy place for me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tougher than the toughies and sharper than the sharpies

There are few things I love more than Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics, particularly those by Carl Barks and Don Rosa. Obviously Carl Barks duck comics are amazing but Don Rosa is maybe even more special to me. Barks' comics that we had belonged to everyone, they were bought for my brothers and I got the ones still in readable conditions when I was old enough. Rosa's comics on the other hand were sometimes bought new just for me. For the youngest of five children that's a fairly rare occurrence.

So anyway, here's my first Uncle Scrooge embroidery piece. Scrooge's general motto was that he'd be "tougher than the toughies and sharper than the sharpies, and make his money square." In the design I had to include his number one dime and his money bin. 

We finally got a break in the ultra-hot, ultra-humid weather with a couple slightly cooler days. If it were completely overcast it would be perfect for me. I really can't be out in the sun at all, it hurts my skin almost immediately, so even if it's a fairly pleasant day it's hard for me to be outside. I'll be much happier come the end of September, which is hopefully when Madre and I will go camping. Love being out in the woods. I can't go hiking anymore but I can lie in a hammock and look at the leaves and feel a bit more peaceful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

color fades for the win...

Oh how neglectful I've been! I had a house guest and then I left my camera at my sister's house. That's the pain of having an adorable nephew (and niece), you leave your camera a lot of places.

Anyway, here's my new piece. I had yellow on it but the fade from green to blue was so perfect that I wanted to redo the yellow to get a nicer fade into the green. This all means a trip to the needlework shop (there's a lovely little local place) and it's just so annoying having to leave the apartment.

On the plus side, how gorgeous is this?! Oh I'm so happy with how it's turning out. It is my first art piece. Well, I did that cross stitch of Obelix so we'll just say this is my first abstract art piece. Hopefully I can eventually frame it and give it to la madre. It just looks so quilty to me and quilts make me think of her.

Was there ever some tiny piece of information you would do anything to get? Any tiny bit of someone's thoughts you would die to know? I have something like that, and I dream about it and that person so often. Once a week, sometimes more. The dreams alternate between good and awful. Sometimes the truth is wonderful and perfect and sometimes it's so soul crushing and hurtful. I would rather know though, no matter how painful it might be. I'm not good with matters requiring that sort of courage, but I'm working on it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

finishing up

So here's the finished version of my Billy Bragg quote blackwork piece. I think it's finished anyway. I thought about doing from falling stars from the bottom, like raindrops dripping off the piece, but that sounded like it would be a pain in the ass so I gave it up.

I just can't get over the lovely way that the stars combined. Pretty pretty pretty! Wouldn't it be interesting to do a quilt full of blackwork and cross stitch made to look like common quilt motifs? That's way beyond my laziness level, but it's a neat idea.

Also, after saying I'd post my Liverpool FC pattern in my Etsy store forever ago I totally forgot! My brain doesn't work well most of the time, but this is ridiculous. Anyway, it is NOW for sale in my store. I think I'll have to start stitching one for my dad now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Here's some more progress on the Billy Bragg quote. Gorgeous, nee?

I've been working on a pattern for a piece using an AD Wintle quote - "Time spent dismounted can never be regained." I'm not sure what context it was meant in, but I'm taking it in a sexual sense because that amuses me most. 

It's another blackwork piece with very traditional elements but I'm having trouble fitting things together in a way that looks good.

Had dinner with the family (madre, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, baby niece) tonight. Tired beyond belief but I made the fat baby Evie giggle a lot, which is always a good feeling. Plus I got lots of kisses and cuddles from my Benjamin. It's so hard though. A couple hours of it and I need a full day to recover. It's depressing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Billy Bragg-a-lot

I love me some Billy Bragg, but there's one line in particular that always makes me smile and makes my mom crack up and do her "I'm a crazy mom!" face (no offense, I love that face). So I plucked it out and embroidered it up. 

Plus I really love the the way the border is going. Combined in this way it's so quilt-like (which is so my mom) and just really pretty. I say again and again, blackwork is the queen of embroideries! It just amazes me the various effects that can be used which all look so different from one another. At the same time when you create a pattern, filler, or motif yourself it is such a triumph. Also this piece is perfectly symmetrical (thank you god!).

Do you ever get an album and then take a ridiculously long time to really listen to it? I do, all the times. I finally made myself really listen to Sarah Harmer's album Oh Little Fire and it's brilliant. The song One Match is especially amazing. Consider it highly recommended.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

summer is evil

Summer is just not my time. Winter can be hard but summer is just brutal. Yesterday though I threw up my hands in protest and went to the Clay Center (local art/science museum) with my mom and my nephew Benjamin. It was so much fun to see him play in a different environment and he was generally quite good.

He also came to my apartment for the first time. He mostly just walked around in awe and listed everything as "Auntie Moo's picture," "Auntie Moo's TV," "Auntie Moo's clock," etc... He was SO good though. I have a ton of stuff at his level that I don't want him to touch but he was good about not grabbing and leaving things alone when I asked him too. It also helps that I put out some toys right at his level so he saw them right away. 

Once they left I went into healing sleep mode for about five hours, had a horrible nightmare, and then stayed up until 5 am. It was actually kind of a half-horrible nightmare. Part was just awful, and part was great (I was playing soccer, most of my dreams I'm in pain, just as I am, but sometimes I get a break).

In any case, I couldn't get a great picture of my Bullwinkle quote blackwork piece, and I noticed a few missing stitches (now remedied), but I absolutely love how this turned out. In person it's so so much more beautiful. I also just love that quote. that quote definitely summed me up as a kid and adolescent.

I've also got a great new piece using a Billy Bragg lyric. I came up with a gorgeous border that reminds me of traditional star motifs in quilting which I'll be utilizing in a purely non-textual piece soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bullwinkle awesomeness

Not much to say. Things are just hard. Here's a blackwork WIP picture though. It's a quote from Bullwinkle, though of course it's funny to everyone and not just Bullwinkle fans.

I grew up with Bullwinkle, starting from age five. It still cracks me up, I still find jokes I didn't get two years ago or ten years ago. That's the beauty of Rocky and Bullwinkle. It's funny when you're eight and still funny when you're eighty.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

pogo party

Well I did finish my Pogo piece. And there's good news. The iron on pencil thing I used to transfer the design doesn't *wash* out, but it does fade quite quickly under sunlight. This means I hopefully won't need to dye the fabric grey. I'm sure that would have looked nice, but I'm quite lazy.

I'm now working on a Bullwinkle quote blackwork project, which shall be amazing. Bullwinkle is fairly obscure, but the quote is not specific to Bullwinkle watchers so I'm confident it will be enjoyed by all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

oh well

I don't usually stitch things which are obscure references but I made an exception for this piece.

The Benevolent Order of Loyal Zebras is a parody organization in the old Mel Blanc radio show. I grew up listening to many of the great 1930s and 1940s radio shows. My dad just baarely grew up with a few of them and passed them onto me. In fifth grade I went to sleep each night listening to the Green Hornet or the Shadow.

Red Skelton is probably my favorite of the great radio comics, he was so amazing at off-the-cuff comments especially, but I love and adore the Mel Blanc show. It was only on the air for about a year and even among old time radio buffs I don't encounter people who know it. 

I don't care though. It's a sweet show, predictable but funny, and anything with Hans Conried is of course always good.

Monday, July 18, 2011

busy and not busy

I've been stitching and I've also had a fierce case of melancholy. Just tired and blah and not wanting to think or type. 

I started and almost finished stitching an illustration from a Pogo comic by Walt Kelly. The Pogo comic started in 1948 (using characters he created in 1941) and was the first political strip comic. The characters were all animals living in the Okeefenokee swamp. Various side characters were based on current presidents and other political figures. It is an amazingly hilarious comic that I was fortunate enough to grow up with. It's a great supplement to those studying the 1950s. 

The image I'm stitching is the tattoo I would get, were I to get a tattoo. The main benefit is I'd be the only one in the world (probably) with that tattoo! Much more fun than the same flower/fish/whatever that everyone has. My grandfather was in the Navy during WWI (born in 1900, lied about his age), in Scotland for most of it and got loads of tattoos. So it would be nice to get one as a nod to him. My brother Zachary has a number of tattoos, including a few he did himself in high school. I'd like for me, my brother, and my sister to each get one of the bat characters from Pogo. Their names are Bewitched, Bothered, and Bemildred, and I'm totally Bemildred.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

old books, old thoughts

There was once a time when books were happy and sweet, when romances were conveyed with a mere clasping of hands, when you knew exactly who the heroine would marry. This was a fun time.

See, I love old books. I just finished Dear Enemy by Jean Webster, which was a sequel to her bestselling novel Daddy-Long-Legs, about an orphan being sent to college by an anonymous patron. It is generally shelved in the young adult section these days but it was written for and enjoyed by adults (and does include a romance between a 21 year old girl and a 35 year old man). Theodore Roosevelt was excited to meet her and Daddy-Long-Legs has never been out of print.

Both of these books can be read for free on Project Gutenberg and there's a free audio version of Daddy-Long-Legs on Librivox.

It's not that I dislike modern books, though contemporary fiction gets fairly ridiculous at times, but I love old books. I don't mind that they're predictable, most books are, after all, they're just so sweet and fun and uplifting.

Pogo stitching progresses. I'm sore and tired and just want to lose myself in something. Women's World Cup semi-finals tomorrow at least. Should be good!

Monday, July 11, 2011

lazy days

After a week of hard cleaning I decided to take it relatively easy today. My apartment has passed inspection, as I knew it would, but it could have been Friday before she got round to me and I'm glad to have it over with. The clean apartment has made me a bit cheerful.

I finished my awesome piece using the quote from Ed's Redeeming Qualities. I designed the flower border myself, though you can't see all the detail and I'm too tired to go for another picture. It looks SO much better in person and is my favorite thing I've made recently. I like the balance of it (the lack of symmetry annoys me but in the top border there was no choice on that), the birds weighing down the sides and the bottom left open so the quote isn't over-powered.

I've starting stitching a Walt Kelly illustration from the Pogo comics. This is one of my favorite images and if I got a tattoo this is the one I'd want (though I just realized I don't have a picture of it on my computer so I'll show it another day).

My body is so worn out. I didn't get much sleep last night but managed to avoid napping this afternoon. It's one of those times where I'm so sore and the pain level is so high that I'm completely restless (last of sleep doesn't help that of course). At least I have Wednesday's soccer game (Women's World Cup - US vs France, semifinals) to look forward to. I'm sure it won't be as exciting and nerve wracking a game as the one with Brazil but that's okay given that I was half-hyperventilating by the end...

Also check out my blooming succulent! The plant is called 'baby toes' and is so weird looking that it's amusing to me that the bloom looks like a plain daisy.