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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Trying to whittle down

Several times over the past few months, I've tried to take an honest, hard look at my cross stitch WIPs to see if there are any I no longer love and can remove from my list. The truth is, there really aren't. Okay, so I don't enjoy working on Cat Eyes as much because it is needlepoint with wool, and that's not my favorite thing to do. And Pharaoh's Pet looks like it's going to have some incredibly boring sections (all that blue!). But I still love the look of them, and will really enjoy them (at least I believe so) when they are finished. My problem is - I've finished nearly all of the smaller projects in my rotation, leaving me with only very large and/or complicated projects. If I want to trim down my WIP list, I'm going to have to keep new starts to a BARE minimum, and there are SO many projects for which I have the charts that I long to stitch. And to make matters worse, quite a few of these unstarted (and mostly unkitted) projects are --- you guessed it --- LARGE ones.

I probably shouldn't complain - there are more designs of higher quality than ever before, more wonderful fibers from which to choose, and the fabrics we have on which to work are so diverse and downright yummy. I look back at what was available when I started (around 1982), and I have to be thankful. How many colors of aida were available then? Linens and perhaps some evenweaves may have been available, but I don't think they were widely used. I stitched Teresa Wentzler's The Castle on 14 ct. white aida in the early 1990's, and now I've seen it stitched on some beautiful hand-dyed linen and evenweave fabrics, sometimes with metallics, and even converted to different color variations.

I've been working on Snow Leopard, and my plan is to finish him this round of my rotation. I'm getting closer to finishing the actual cross stitching, then all that will be left is the backstitching. So this round will definitely extend into April, but it will be worth it! And once he's finished, I'll have whittled down to 26 WIPs. I feel like the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare, but he's the good guy, right?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rest in peace with your brother now, little Nic

Several months ago, I posted that my friend's kitty Casey had passed away. I just learned that this morning, his brother Nic has joined him at the rainbow bridge. My heart goes out to Phyl and Bryan, and my thoughts are filled with their loss today.

Can I have some syrup with my waffle?

Back and forth, back and forth - I can never make up my mind completely on some things. I'm guessing that's one of my major flaws. Or maybe I've got spring fever?

We went to see Hostage last night, and enjoyed it. I was surprised a couple of times throughout the movie. Is it just me, or is Bruce Willis looking quite fit these days? I wasn't sure about him when the movie started, but when he was putting his uniform on, I thought he looked nice and trim.

I got a few stitches in on Snow Leopard and we watched a couple of Friends episodes before we went to the movie. By the time we got home, we were both ready for bed. So much for those party animals of the past, lol. A friend of ours is doing the party bus thing for his birthday next Friday night, and we've already decided we're going to be in the early round (7-10 p.m.) of party-goers.

I haven't been visiting the various cross stitch boards as much lately. I'm trying not to be "on" the computer [read: internet] as much at home, especially since I use it all day at work (and then have to use it some for work at home). It's just so frustrating to sit down at it, then look up and a couple of hours have gone by, and what have I accomplished?

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of my babies, doing what they do best.

Sisters Rudy and Candy
It's a boy's life
How DOES Rudy sleep comfortably like that?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lots of pictures

Teresa's quilt is currently on my design wall. Here, all the pieces have been fused, but not yet stitched down. I have not yet started piecing the diagonal rows, as I'm going to wait until I have all of the stitching done.



Gerrick's quilt is currently in rows on my ironing board (no real room on the design wall - whoa, should that be telling me something? Nah... ). I haven't pressed open the horizontal sashing strips yet; I'm basically waiting until I have them all pieced together, and then I can just run my iron down the center of them, pressing outward. This is a great quilt to piece quickly, with really no seams to match! I love the colors, too.

Although it might seem so, I didn't abandon my cross stitching entirely. I finished up this month's round on Summer's Magic Friday night, and began working on Snow Leopard.


Oh, and here's one last photo - Saturday was beautiful, so I took a picture of the corner of my yard with the Bradford Pear tree and daffodils (both still blooming, amazing). The yard still hasn't really started greening up yet, but Spring is definitely here!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

What a fabulous day!

Today has been awesome. We got a call this morning that our friend Dave (now living in Arkansas) was coming in for a visit, and he arrived around noon. It was sunny and 70-something this afternoon as we all sat outside our favorite Mexican restaurant eating lunch. And this afternoon, we had the back door and front windows open with a wonderful slight breeze wafting through. The kitties loved it as much as we did. :)

C rented a new video game (God of War) and played it this morning some before Dave got here, and I finished ironing those flowers and leaves to the basket blocks while I watched him play (and helped him a little with some strategy).

This afternoon, while the guys were hanging out, I decided to go ahead and make the plunge into Gerrick's quilt. I started by cutting out the fish fabric, 42-3½" squares. Then I cut strips 2" wide, and I've started sewing those to the fish squares, in a courthouse-steps fashion. I managed to make a decision about the sashing, and found this at Joann's:


I also found a great backing fabric - a Julia Cairns wild animals print with elephants, zebras, giraffes, etc. The colors in it are nice and bright, and I think it will make the back of the quilt just as interesting as the front, even though it has nothing to do with fish. :)

I've started working some more on the Snow Leopard, but I need to go make up the futon for our houseguest tonight (yes, the reason why I also need to be working on finishing that rail fence quilt!). So much to do, so little time to get it all done. If they only paid me to stay home and do all this, I'd accomplish quite a lot more.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Finally, Teresa's Baskets progress

Click the photo for a larger one

Here is the quilt so far on my design wall (note to self: purchase some new white felt for the design wall - the old is filthy!). This is the top center of the quilt, in actual layout. I'm looking forward to getting this entire top pieced, because I really want to see how it's going to turn out with the borders and everything.

I worked on Summer's Magic last night, and I want to get a little more backstitching done tonight before I jump off into Snow Leopard for perhaps the final time (fingers crossed)! That boy has been waiting for SO long, and his time has finally arrived.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I never said I couldn't start new QUILT projects

I feel like such a bad girl - I haven't actually started it yet, but I have pulled most of the fabric I intend to use for a kid's quilt for my nephew Gerrick, who just turned a year old. I've just given myself a new Christmas gift deadline. I also have worked on what design I want to do - and I have it narrowed down to 2 (though I'm leaning more towards one than the other).

I'm sliding down a slippery slope, aren't I? Going from basically a one-at-a-time quilter to multiple QuIPs. This is exactly how I got into the situation with more than 30 cross stitch WIPs over the past couple of years! I keep telling myself that at least I haven't promised to have Teresa's done in time for Christmas too - that would be so NOT do-able with Scott's and Gerrick's both planned for this year.

Speaking of Teresa's quilt - I managed to get all of the shapes cut out of the fabric, so step 3 is finished. I also started ironing them to the quilt blocks, and have managed to get 4 of 17 (the 18th is already stitched) done, so step 4 is well underway. I have to say, I think they are looking very pretty! They really deserve a photo now - and I really should get my rear in gear about that.

I also worked a tiny little bit last night on Summer's Magic while we watched an episode of Smallville. We're coming very close now to the end of Season 3 on DVD, and they are currently showing Season 4 on the WB. Fortunately for us, they have just started re-airing the beginning of the season's episodes, starting last night! So I set up the VCR for that, and maybe we can get caught up over the next few months in time for Season 5.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Holy Hannah!

ING Direct's Orange Savings Account rate is now 2.80%!

A strange, yet good night

Strange in the fact that I didn't stitch a bit. We watched Battlestar Galactica and Friends and I worked a little bit on Teresa's Baskets quilt. I'm breaking down the applique into 5 parts:

  1. tracing the shapes onto fusible web
  2. ironing those shapes to the wrong side of the appropriate fabrics
  3. cutting those shapes out of the fabric
  4. arranging them and ironing them to the basket quilt blocks, and
  5. stitching them to the basket quilt blocks with a blanket stitch (on my machine).
I finished part 1 the other night when my eyes were tired. Last night I finished part 2 and started part 3. I have to do that part in stages though, because cutting with scissors really hurts my shoulder. I might do a little more of that tonight, but I also might bring out Summer's Magic and work on it a bit. When I get the blocks to the point of arranging the pieces and ironing them on, I should have some more pictures to share.

Today will be my first day back at the gym since the toe surgery and sinus infection. I feel like I've been a slug, but I haven't noticed any real difference in my weight or size, so that's good - I really just feel the need to exercise my lungs and muscles. The elliptical machine should help with both of those. I've worked out a little at home, but at nowhere near the level I'm used to doing at the gym (probably because there are no crafty distractions there). I'm feeling like I have less energy lately, so maybe it will also help give me a boost.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ah, Spring

I'm glad it's officially Spring. My Bradford Pear tree is blooming like I've never seen it before - usually it gets a few little white blossoms and heads right into green leaves. This year it seems like there's a profusion of white blossoms, and no green leaves yet! The daffodils have been blooming beneath it for a couple of weeks now. I have been surprised that the around-freezing temps at night didn't get them, and they're still really pretty!

This weekend was a blur, as usual. But I got in some good progress on Merrick, working on him from Friday night through Sunday. I actually got caught up with 24 - this season's episodes! Now, of course, I'm going to be jonesing for the speed at which I was able to watch them. One per week is going to be so excruciatingly slow! So anyway, here's Merrick for this round. As usual, click the pic for a bigger one. His right (our left) sleeve is almost done!


I didn't realize it, but Saturday was National Quilt Day. It turns out March is also National Quilt month. How interesting, considering that quilting is almost all I can think about these days. I have quilted 16 of the 42 blocks on Scott's quilt now (got my 4 done for this month already, yay!), and I've finished piecing all of the 18 blocks for Teresa's quilt (but only the applique for 1 of them). Saturday night, when my eyes were too tired to stitch anymore, I finished tracing the flower patterns on fusible web and cut them apart. Now I can get in and start making those flowers and leaves to finish her blocks so that I can put them all together.

I realized that I really need to start/finish a couple of quilts for US. We only have one comforter for our bed, and we always lay CC's 'blankie' on top of it at night. We both have to sleep with a certain weight of covers on top of us now (ever since we started putting his quilt on top for additional warmth), and I just need to make a quilt specifically for that. The other reason is because I have no other comforters in the house - I have one smaller quilt that my grandmother made for me, but it doesn't quite fit a full-size bed, and it is quite light. We've had visitors spend the night several times over the past couple of months, and I feel the need to give them something decent to sleep under. I have a quilt top finished (rail fence), but not quilted, and I need to check the size - I may need to add a border to it before sandwiching it and quilting.

So I'm trying to think of another bed quilt to make for us. I want it to be not-too-complicated. I'm not sure if I want to use 1930's fabrics or something else. I also have a wonderful packet of hand-dyed fabrics / quilt kit for a Trip to New England (Trip Around the World) quilt from Starr Designs, but it's not big enough for a bed-size. sigh

Trip to New England quilt kit

I also love log cabin quilts, so there's a possibility too. I'd definitely like it to be a stash quilt, so I wouldn't be spending much more money on it (other than possibly backing and border fabrics and batting- though I have some lovely mottled solid flannels that would probably work nicely for a pieced back). I'm currently going through books and magazines for more inspiration.

Friday, March 18, 2005

You can't keep a good crafter down

I'm definitely on the uphill swing now. It's about time! And nice that I shouldn't have to feel bad through another weekend.

Just to show that I haven't been totally incapacitated during my illness, here's the latest progress on Fantasy Sampler (click the pic for a larger view).


And I have NOT forgotten - today starts our Black Swan Designs Stitch-A-Long weekend! I'll be stitching on Merrick (I cheated and put a few stitches in him last night). What will YOU be stitching on?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Don't you hate it when your post gets eaten?

Usually, for that reason, I compose offline in Notepad or a similar program. Then I copy and paste. Well, I didn't do that today, and guess what? Grrrr....

I'm on the mend - stayed home from work to try to recover and keep from infecting co-workers. We'll see how tonight and tomorrow goes. C is doing much better, so that's encouraging.

I loved that Stitch N Bitch Knitter's handbook - it was the umpteenth book I've read to try to learn to knit, and her explanations finally made something *click* in my brain.

I believe your faithful blogger will be back to her crafty self soon!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Well, as expected, I got it

Yep, Saturday night I noticed a slight sore throat, and knew that I was getting what C has had. He's doing better now, but not 100% yet. I went ahead to the bridal shower yesterday over at Mom's because both Mom & Dad have been fighting with it too, so we figured we probably wouldn't reinfect one another.

I'm in my first day of the Photoshop class, and even though I feel like my head might explode, we're having fun and learning quite a bit. Some of it I already knew from working with it for over a year, but I'm picking up quite a bit more information about tools I haven't used and my favorite - new keyboard shortcuts. For almost anyone who knows me, I LOVE keyboard shortcuts. The less I have to use my mouse, the better it is for my wrist and shoulder.

So, I've had lunch, stuffed another Sudafed down, have a new box of facial tissues, and I'm ready for the afternoon session. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Officially 1/8 complete

I finished up page 1 today, and my Maidens of the Seasons is officially 12.5% complete (the Spring Maiden is half-done).


I also finished another crochet square - ripple stitch, and I really like how this one turned out. It was pretty normal, squaring up pretty easily. The texture is nice too - I think it would make a nice afghan stitch.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Slow knit progress

Here is the kitty bed so far - it's really slow going, but I've got my fingers crossed that one of the kitties will enjoy it. It is nice and soft, and quite furry.




C is currently home with whatever cold/flu stuff is going around. I SO hope I don't get it, but with my seemingly-poor defenses, I'm afraid I will. Now is just not a good time, having come off the toe surgery, and then there are the classes I've got to take for work - a 2 hr. seminar tomorrow on sexual harassment that everyone has to take (I've just managed to avoid it until now), and a 2-day Photoshop 7 class. That one should be interesting if I'm not down with a stuffy head, runny nose, etc. Oh yeah, and I'm supposed to help out with a cousin's bridal shower on Sunday. So this is just NOT a good time for "sickies", okay?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Back from the toe-doc

And she says that my toe is healing well. She said I should be asymptomatic in a week to 10 days, and if I'm not, I go back to see her. She gave me a cushion to use around my toe for when I wear closed-toe shoes. The only problem I see with that is the whole 'more bulk in the toe area', creating more pressure, but we'll see what we can work out.

I finished up row P on Nova last night, and I also filled in the rest of those stitches that were already started on the bottom row.


I put it away after taking a photo and started working some more on my Spring Maiden. I'll probably work on the Maiden some more tonight while we watch Smallville, Season 3 disc 1. I'm kind of hoping to finish the top part of the chart this month, but I'm not making that a goal set-in-stone. We'll just go with the flow.

Oh, and we did watch that Alien Siege movie last night - it was, eh, okay. Made me want to rent V: the miniseries though. I don't think C's ever seen it. So it's a bit campy now, but hey, it's got Marc Singer! :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

As much as I dislike some stitches...

this afghan is going to be really cool when I get it finished. Here are squares #45 (left, crossed ripple stitch) and #46 (right, palm leaves):



I go back to see my podiatrist tomorrow afternoon. I know I shouldn't expect the toe not to hurt at all, but it's still quite sore. Hopefully she'll just tell me it's healing normally and that I can start wearing normal shoes again. I'm trying to expose it to lots of fresh air, but my feet tend to always be cold anyway, so it's kinda hard to do.

I'm working on Nova - about halfway through row P. We've finished Friends, season 2, and I think we might watch the movie we taped the other night on the SciFi Channel, Alien Siege. Stargate was pretty good the other night - but they're not going to do this to us with Daniel again, tell me they're not!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Wowza!!

That was so fast, especially compared to Michael's wait (and he's still waiting).

I sent a request to my mortgage company, asking to manage my own escrow account, about a week and a half ago. I had not received any response until I logged on this morning, checking my message center (where I originally sent my request). They have reviewed my escrow, and sent me a check! Now I get to manage my tax and insurance payments myself, and that money should be earning interest while it's waiting to be paid. Sweet!!! It shouldn't be difficult - I've proven to myself over the last few years that I'm able to manage saving money over the year for things that must be paid once or twice yearly (and without dipping into that money for any reason). Go me!

A glimpse of a boy nearly there

Here is Snow Leopard. I worked on him yesterday before pulling out Nova again, and I've finished up the area of snow, grass, and leaves beneath his left forearm, leaving that and the backstitching (and whiskers) as the only things left to do! Depending on how the rotation goes this month, I may finish him near the end of March or the first of April.




I've also included a thumbnail of my latest crochet square finish, #44, cluster braid. Have I said lately how much I dislike front-post and back-post double crochet? It just skews my squares all to heck and back. I'm easing up on the tension, and that helps some, but argh, it's aggravating. And if this isn't enough, the next block (which I'm currently working on while I soak my toe) has more of it at an angle. Blech.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ta-da!

And it's finished, and it's beautiful (if I can say so myself). I'm going to go work a little more on the Snow Leopard now, and then tomorrow I'll probably go pull out Nova again.


Oh, and I went to Metamorphosis (another LNS that has a lot more needlepoint supplies) today with Melanie to pick out some colors for her new project, Daydreams. She posted a pic of her progress on her web site, and I think it's gonna be gorgeous.

I was really good and didn't buy anything there. We went to Joann's because they were having a sale on thread (50% off), and I bought 8 colors of hand-quilting thread that I didn't have. I stayed within my budget, and I think Scott's quilt (well, and eventually Teresa's) is going to be better for it. ;)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Deceptively NOT easy or fast

For some reason, I had the idea that this would go SO much more quickly than it is going , but I'm enjoying it nonetheless. I did finish up 24 Season 3 this morning, and I'm about to grab some lunch. Here's what I've gotten finished so far. It's a shame the scan doesn't show the metallic a little better. Trust me, it's pretty and sparkly! :)



Toe's about the same today - I'm just doing my treatments as directed and occasionally taking some tylenol-like-substance. Definitely no closed-toe shoes for several more days. It's supposed to be in the 60s for the high today here, which is good. I may have to step out on the back deck while the sun is shining for a bit. :)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Oops, and a-frogging we will go

Okay, so I had to do a little ripping last night - I realized I had missed a couple of turns - hazards of working without working copies! So, I made my working copy and colored in what I had stitched correctly, ripped back to that point, and started again. Here is what I've gotten done through this afternoon.


My toe is doing pretty good - it's just a little sore. The bandage looked a lot worse than the toe did when I took it off for the first treatment! I think I'll treat it this afternoon with a little more 24, Season 3. I might just finish up the season tomorrow if I get started early enough. They're kind of like eating potato chips - you can't watch just one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Funny


Reminds me of one of those cartoons with the huge bandage wrapped around a toe or finger. :) The anesthesia should be wearing off in about an hour, so we'll see how I feel then - right now, I'm pretty good, but that's because I can't feel my toe at all.

Here's to new starts!

I want to thank everyone for their comments and support regarding the GRE. I have checked out a couple of study guides from the library, and I'm starting to make my way through them. My vocabulary needs to be greatly improved, and I have a lot of refreshing to do with regards to the math, yeesh. I'm going to concentrate on the GRE for now, and when I've practiced for a while (and hopefully improved my scores on the practice tests), I'll take the real test. If I pass with a good enough score, I'll be able to apply for the Fall 2006 term, and I'll worry about all the application stuff at that point. But hopefully, this is a major new start for me! I'll probably be updating throughout the next couple of months as to where I am in the process. If I should happen to bomb out on the GRE, then I will probably stop there and not pursue it further. Of course, I have my fingers crossed that that doesn't happen.

Now on to another new start. This one is cross-stitch related. Last night, I pulled my fibers (I chose ecru size 12 perle cotton, Needle Necessities 1942-Woodbine overdyed floss, and 3221-Heliodor #4 Kreinik braid) and found a piece of linen that was the perfect size. Even though it was kind of late (drove home after work, changed clothes, went to work out, ran to the grocery to get a few things, then cooked and ate dinner and cleaned up, whew!), I went ahead and got started on it while we watched some television. So here is what I was able to get done last night. It doesn't look like much yet, but trust me, this is Bookmark A from Knotwork Bookmarks II. I can't wait to make my way to the end of the design and start making my way back up around and through. I started in the middle, so that is the part you see at the top. I haven't decided on the backstitch color yet. I'll probably wait until I'm closer to finishing the NN floss so that I have a better idea of what to choose.