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Monday, February 27, 2006

It's Happy Dance time again!

Yes, indeed, I know I've been quiet for about a week, but I've been working my little fingers to the bone. :) And it all paid off last night as I put the final stitches into the binding and signed the quilt. Put on your dancing shoes and celebrate with me!

I had just a little frustrating time yesterday as I was attaching the binding to the back of the quilt, when I realized that I had gotten a little too close to the edge attaching the binding to the top. After several rippage/re-sew sessions, I nearly gave up for the evening. I put it down, made a cup of hot cinnamon tea, worked a couple of rows on Unicorn Mystique, then decided to tackle it once more. I pulled out a few more stitches, then lined everything up and re-sewed the rest of the binding (that I hadn't already attached to the back) about another eighth-inch in from the original stitching. That caught any and all of the top fabric that might have pulled loose and I was able to finish attaching it to the back with no further problems. I learned a few things (like, don't try to use a scant-quarter inch seam allowance when attaching the binding - use a generous quarter-inch and, if you have to, a scant half-inch - the border isn't going to suffer!) and appreciated the new joining the ends of the binding trick. I honestly could not tell where I had started and where I had stopped / joined when I used that method.

Before I sign off to dance around a little more, Renny had asked the question,
...what are you using to take pics of your works? Are you scanning them and if yes, with what type of scanner?
I use both my digital camera, an HP 318 (2 megapixels) model, and my scanner, a Lexmark (whoops, don't remember the model! - but I bought it at Sam's Club for around $75) for most of the pictures and photos on this site. I usually piece together scans with Photoshop when my cross stitch WIPs get too big to scan all-at-once, but will occasionally photograph them with the camera. For quilts, beads, crochet, etc., I generally use the camera but sometimes take advantage of the scanner, if the block or piece I'm working on is small enough. I know that most of the cameras out today are of even better quality for the same cost as mine was a couple of years ago, so just shop around and you should be able to find a good deal, and the same goes for scanners.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Black Swan Designs SAL fun

This weekend I was able to finish, except for 5 beads, the bottom right section of Merrick, so one more working copy page is done!

During the Presidents' Day holiday Monday and last night I worked on Gerrick's quilt, and I am down to 2½ blocks to quilt (plus the border, then the binding). I will definitely be working on it until it is done, hopefully finishing it up before we have dinner with them either this weekend or next (you can probably guess I'm rooting for dinner next weekend...). I was watching one of my TIVO'd eps of Simply Quilts over the weekend and learned a new trick for the binding that I am eager to try. I've been using the double-binding method since I started quilting, but always had trouble at the end, getting a nice, clean, non-bulky join at the end. I really liked the way it went together for her by using this join method. Thanks Alex! I tell you, I am really going to miss Simply Quilts. I have learned some really neat tips and tricks, and I've been so inspired by the many quilters she has had as her guests over the years. I know she's podcasting now, but it's just not the same hearing as watching. Okay, I've got a lot to do and a little bit of time to do it, so I'm back to the grindstone!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fantasy Sampler update

I've moved on to Merrick for the SAL this weekend, but here's the latest on Fantasy Sampler, on which I was working through Thursday evening:

As soon as I get Gerrick's quilt finished, I will try to start working on putting my 63 squares afghan together. Happy weekend, racing is BACK!!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Maiden shaping up for the summer

Thanks again for all of your wonderful comments! And now I have a little bit more of a Summer Maiden to show.

I've been working a little more on Fantasy Sampler over the weekend (and Monday, which I took off as a personal day), and also on Gerrick's quilt - I now have only 9 more blocks plus the border to quilt. It has been a weird weather week with snow, sleet, and ice followed by temps in the 50's (F). At least we had some really nice sunshine here yesterday and it looks like the same today - I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Work is still crazy busy, and I'm not sure if I'm expecting it to slow down at all. At least we do get another holiday next Monday, during which I plan to tackle Gerrick's quilt with a vengeance (okay, if possible to do that without re-injuring myself). Oh, and coming up this weekend is the monthly Black Swan Designs Stitch-a-Long!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Saturday

Well, in my neck of the woods, we didn't get the "big snowfall" they were predicting. The most accumulation seems to have been about a half inch on my deck. The streets are still either just wet or maybe icy. A good day for staying in and watching Daytona race / practice coverage. Yes, fellow NASCAR fans, the season is about to get back into full swing! Kenny Schrader drew the pole position for the Bud Shootout, so I'm of course hoping that's indicative of an excellent run and finish tonight. The last time I saw him win a race was the first ARCA race at Nashville Superspeedway, and it would be great to watch him win another.

I finally got a frame for my By the Sea Sampler (had to special order it), and went ahead and stretched and framed it myself. The photo isn't the best, but you get the idea...

I think I'm going to pull out Gerrick's Aquarium for a bit today - seems like a good day for working on a quilt.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My castle

I'm still working on my Gothic Castle, and I know what I was thinking at the time, and why I would do it different now - I still like the design, but in my mind at the time was, I want it even BIGGER! So, here's the latest, on 11 ct. aida. Now I'd pick a 32 ct. or 36 ct. evenweave over two. Funny how our tastes change over time (this was started originally in 1997).

I think I'll work on either Fantasy Sampler or my Summer Maiden next.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

OMG, we won!!!!!

YES, it's a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We'll return to our regularly scheduled doodle-blog updates tomorrow, I'm off to celebrate!!!!!!!!

A February Finish

I proudly present Catnip Tea!

Today I finished listening to The Da Vinci Code (a fascinating thriller), and I've been working on Gothic Castle. I think I'm finally back into the swing of my rotation. It's about time. ;-)

It's still a couple of hours before the big game. GO STEELERS!!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An overdue answer to a question

Back on January 20, Michelle asked a question about hoops.
I've noticed you put on your beads as you go along, do you not use a hoop when you Xstitch? I've always been a die-hard crocheter and have just taken up xs again and am wondering if that just comes naturally after ...
Originally, I did use hoops. I started out using spring embroidery hoops like the ones at Sew and So UK. But I got away from using round hoops because I never could figure out how to get the hoop marks out of the fabric. I was young, and didn't realize I could (or even should) wash my projects when they were finished. So I worked some projects in hand for a little while, but when the Q-snaps came out, I very quickly purchased several sizes and started working with those "hoops" again.

Within the past couple of years, I started noticing some pain up my left forearm (I am right-handed, stitch with my right, hold my project / hoop with my left) which was aggravated when I worked on larger projects. I bought a floor stand, but I use it mostly when I want to have both hands free and utilize the stab-stitch method. For most projects, I use the sewing method (which isn't quite as easy to do in a hoop unless you don't stretch the fabric as taut, which I tend to do when using a hoop). So to get rid of some of the weight and pressure on my left arm, I tried working on a project without the hoop again. I noticed quickly that the stress and pain eased up quite a lot.

Add to that the fact that lately I've discovered that I like working on a project better when I can complete it a section at a time, including backstitching and beading (which, coincidentally, is easier to do without a hoop than with one, so you don't crush the beads). It just seems that for most projects, I'm happier when I'm working them in hand. That's not to say that I won't use hoops - I used scroll rods for Nova, stretcher bars for Mini Perle, and currently work on Fantasy Sampler in a Q-snap (either 11" x 11" or 14" x 14"). And sometimes, it just depends on the fabric. 28 ct. Cashel and 32 ct. Belfast linens just scream for me to work them in hand, but other more open-weave linens and some other fabrics demand I use hoops.

And now here is an update on Catnip Tea, getting closer to being finished...