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On Friday, I got to take a class with Bonnie Hunter, one of the stars of the quilting world. Which was my first quilting class since the ones I took with my grandmother circa 1992! And I picked up some neat tips and techniques. But, honestly, string-piecing (one of Bonnie's favorite techniques) is a touch exhausting! So I'm just going to do a wall-hanging from the workshop pattern and call it good.

The weather, meanwhile, is turning devilishly hot. As in an expected high of 90 today and 95 the next two days. I'm trying to get as much as I can done in the mornings while it's cooler, and then hauling myself and the boys down to my parents' place in the afternoons. I'm getting close to done with the last cross-stitch quilt block, though, so I think today or tomorrow I need to start hauling the Christmas tablecloth along with me again for my to-go handwork project.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Still here, still preggers, still waiting. I've developed this neurotic voice in the back of my head making me keep on top of all the housework because I don't want to go into labor and end up going to the hospital for 3-4 days with dishes growing cultures in the sink or damp laundry slowly mouldering in the washing machine.

Ah, domestic paranoia at its finest.

I also cleaned and oiled my sewing machine today. I have another (bed-sized) quilt basted and ready to quilt, but I'm not in the right headspace for marking it and wrestling it through the machine, so I engaged in some mindless sewing instead. I finally figured out what to do for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year - make up blocks for the String-X quilt I eventually want to make. So I finished up all the gray and purple strings I'd pulled last month out of my gallon Ziploc bag of strings, which made for six string strips, and then pulled and pressed all the red/pink/gold strings for this month's colors, and made four of those. I still have a lot more strings in those colors (well, in red and gold - apparently I don't sew a lot of pink) so I'll make more later. But there always has to be a reasonable stopping point to a day's sewing.

Also, there was Quilt-cam tonight! So I sat and embroidered during that. I'm taking a hiatus from the Christmas-colors tablecloth that I've been working on for months now. I finished allllll the red on it and wanted a visual break, so I switched to a project with different colors. I had picked up a set of a dozen cross-stitch quilt blocks at the thrift store, nine of them done, and have been working on #10. Yellow fabric, kind of '70s shades of gold, white, and green for the daisies, but embroidery keeps my hands busy and me off the streets. Something to do while I'm watching or waiting. I'll probably switch back to the tablecloth after I finish block #10, just because it would be nice to have it done in time for Christmas.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Am now at the stage of pregnancy where turning over in bed at night is uncomfortable and difficult. Fortunately, that is about the extent of my difficulties.

I've started a new embroidery project. At some point, I found at Savers a couple stacks of pre-printed quilt-blocks-to-embroider, and as they were $cheap!, I bought the lot. One of the sets is sixteen squares, 18" each, of butterflies and flowers. I'm on block two at the moment, and am planning on doing them all in different colors since cookie-cutter embroidery just seems boring for this project. Plus I'm delighting in using up some of my floss. I have three boxes of embroidery floss. Some of it needs to go. Now, granted, I don't expect to have this done much before Squiddle goes off to college (I know myself and my average attention span), but for now it's keeping my hands busy.

I find myself slightly disappointed in the Pacific Rim fandom on AO3. There's a goodly number of stories... but they all seem to be either pairing-based (which, I suppose the basic setup of the universe makes that all too easy...), or exact retellings of the movie substituting in characters from a different fandom/series. Which, c'mon, people, you're writers. Can't I get a little creativity here?
sakon76: (Sakon)
Today, we went to Caernarfon Castle, which was in a reasonable state of repair/conservation, and quite fascinating to me for the insight it gave into early medieval life. For instance, it was cold and wet the entire time, so I now actually understand why outer garments were all made of wool. In SoCal, one of the problems with reenactment garb is "how not to overheat." Here, it'd be quite the opposite!

Also interesting to me is how, in Wales, everything closes at 4pm on Sundays. ^.^;; So after castle-ing, we took the scenic route back. Britain in general gives me a better sense for why the human eye is developed to distinguish more shades of green than of any other color. Wales is no exception to this. It was very wet and hilly, very aesthetic. There are sheep everywhere, dotting the steep hillsides (and shallower valleys) like creamy fuzzy rocks. They don't all stay on their side of the fence, either, though I do note that I've not seen any roadkill ones yet. Roads are bordered by slate dry-construction stone walls. And everywhere, everywhere, there are a million tiny little waterfalls and rivulets. This is amazing to me. This is not a country where the words "water rationing" mean anything.

Tomorrow, as the rain forecast is heavier than today or Tuesday, we are planning to take the Ffestiniog Railway and see what we discover....

Unrelatedly, during my vacation, I have been working on a cross-stitch embroidery kit I inherited from my paternal grandmother, who passed away when I was a teenager. Consequently, I have been thinking of her quite a bit. My parents, when I called them earlier, reminded me that tomorrow is the twentieth anniversary of her death. Almost as though my thinking of her summoned the reminder. I hope to finish the project by the time I get back home, and post a picture of it then.


Jul. 19th, 2012 08:19 pm
sakon76: (Default)
So when the Aunt Martha's embroidery transfers packet says "You can get several clear stampings from each design" what it actually means is 8+. Excellent!
sakon76: (Default)
So even after switching out the hook-and-eyes for tie closures, his good Renfaire shirt (the linen one, with heavily-embroidered blackwork cuffs and collar) no longer fits Wonderful Husband. Which is a mystery to both of us, as (1) it fit when I made it, (2) his added weight since then isn't in the areas it doesn't fit, and (3) linen doesn't shrink that much in the wash! Which, I guess, means that I should try it on and see what adjustments would be needed to make it fit me.

This also means that, after Costume College, I get to buy more linen, re-measure him, and make him a new shirt. With new collars and cuffs! And since by the end of it I got sick of the embroidery pattern for the old shirt, I want to find a new period pattern to play with. (I used the central/major motif from the cuffs of the Holbein portrait of Jane Seymour; after a while I took to calling it the "crosses and tombstones" pattern.)

After consulting my (two) blackwork books, I came across the Jane Bostock sampler (third one pictured; click on it for a larger view) which has a couple patterns that seem suitably intricate without being overwhelmingly feminine... now I just have to find large enough views of the patterns that interest me, and chart them.
sakon76: (Kitten)
Sometimes at estate sales I find embroidered linens. More rarely, I find unembroidered linens, or ones that have been half done, then abandoned. If the designs appeal to me, I snatch them up. And usually, for the half-done ones, my finishing work is much neater than the original sewer's.

Not so my current piece.

It's a probably-1950s card table tablecloth, with Mexican designs on it. It's largely embroidered in backstitch. At two threads per stitch. It's almost reversible, it's so neatly done! @.@;; I'm having to seriously up my game to match the quality of this work.
sakon76: (Default)
I think [livejournal.com profile] femme4jack is right when she says I'm happiest when keeping my hands busy. I started a new embroidery project yesterday and I've been feeling much better. It's only a vintage linen hand towel, but it's pushing the boundaries of what I know. It's my first project with silk floss, my first project working with a single strand of floss, and my first project with cutwork. So far so good.

This morning I went to my 8am belly dance class, where we didn't even get let into the rec center until 8:20. Despite that, we went through our very cardio routine lots of times by the end. I don't think I could've done another twenty minutes! Then I went to farmer's market (didn't buy much; only garlic, which I was almost out of, this week), four estate sales, and an auction. Three of the estate sales didn't have anything I wanted; only the first had some sewing and embroidery items I bought, as well as a few vintage photos and two vase frogs. Grand total of $6.75. The auction had two items I wanted; the first went for five times what I was willing to pay for it; not wanting the second badly enough to wait around another 45 minutes to be outbid on it too, I left early.

After the final new window was finally installed (yay!), Wonderful Husband and I elected to walk a mile each way to get hamburgers for lunch, and then this afternoon I harvested rather a lot of tomatoes, peppers, and six cucumbers. I have reached the state in gardening where I begin to truly appreciate plants whose fruit is a different color than their leaves!

Banana bread in the breadmaker, bacon-mushroom-chard quiche for dinner, and two cookie sheets of quartered cherry tomatoes roasting in the oven. Next, world peace!
sakon76: (Default)
For the current embroidery project I've been going in colors, roughly working from the outer edges of each design toward the center, on the theory that the stuff in the center is "above" the outer motifs. I've gotten the leaves and the little side flowers all done, all the green and purple and yellow out of the way, excepting for the heart of those central flowers, which I'll do last. Last night I started on the petals of those central flowers, which are in a red-salmon-peach colorway.

Except the red is much brighter than in the picture.

But it's what came with the kit, so I'm going for it. It's just... very red.


May. 4th, 2011 08:02 am
sakon76: (Default)
I'm amused at how something that one person loathes another can really not care about. Specifically, on our flight home [livejournal.com profile] stitchy (who, as her LJ nick implies, is a fellow embroiderer) looked at the tablecloth that's my current project and commented on her deep, eternal loathing of lazy daisy stitches. I don't think there's actually any embroidery stitch I dislike. That said, I just finished the last of the lazy daisies on this, so no more for now.
sakon76: (Default)
1.7" rain yesterday. .3" more today.

(And yes, I realize this is insignificant to those of you who live in places like Portland or Cambridge, but I live in a desert, so I gotta rejoice. Then there was the 4am lightning/thunderstorm that woke us up....)

Sat in the courthouse. Sat in a courtroom. Finished the blue Butterfly Blouse. Got a reasonable chunk of embroidery done on a tablecloth that will eventually be a gift. Got asked questions by a very nice judge, got dismissed by the defense attorney (for which I am kind of glad; a domestic violence criminal case might do not-nice things to my head). Came home and finally after two years introduced myself to the neighbors two doors down.
sakon76: (Default)
So, on the 6th we got half an inch of rain in an early morning storm. On Sunday-Monday of this week we got 2.1" of rain. Yesterday we got 1.75" and tornado warnings across the entire county. I don't know if one actually touched down near my work or not, but as hard as the wind was blowing, I wouldn't be surprised. Fortunately it stopped both rain and wind by 5pm. And allegedly we're getting two more storms rolling in today and tomorrow that are supposed to be sequentially worse.

*looks out window* Ah, I see today's rainstorm has commenced.

Multiplying those collective 3.35" rain across the size of our roof and realizing that's two and a half thousand gallons of rainfall so far this year makes me really covet gutters and either rain barrels or a cistern....

In other news, Wonderful Husband and I have seen Sherlock Holmes, which was quite good fun and I may try to catch again when it hits the cheapie theater, as well as Avatar, which was quite good gorgeous fun and both of us agree we will definitely catch again when it hits the cheapie theater. We saw the latter in 3D and would like to see it again to see how much of a difference that makes, if nothing else. (I'm still unconvinced 3D is worth its hype.)

I've finished and hemmed the three tablecloths I'd been working on, and have now dragged out a set of eight linen napkins to be embroidered. Slowly the embroidery stash (both of all the floss I've got, and the pile of things-to-be-embroidered) dwindles. The bread machine has been successfully experimented with for a couple of different recipes, which has inspired me to try my hand at creating sourdough starter. I've also got some ginger beer starter going at the same time. But I did make a sad discovery... before we left for England, I'd turned the carcass of a roast chicken into stock, and frozen the stock to use when we returned. Two of the jars broke in the process. I think it's because they were narrow-mouthed canning jars; the other three were wide-mouthed, and survived just fine. Something about the way liquid expands when freezing, perhaps, as they all had the same headroom...?
sakon76: (Default)
Unfortunately that lovely mild Mediterranean climate SoCal has, which enables January tomatoes, also means that during the week-and-a-half we were in England, the weeds in the uncultivated half of our kitchen garden grew thigh-high. (I'm not kidding.) Thus a goodly part of this afternoon was spent by Wonderful Husband and myself pulling weeds and tossing them in the compost bin. We got probably around half done.

I realized this evening that given that I like beets and they're easy enough to grow, I think in the future I'll abstain from growing Swiss chard/silverbeet. There's really not a point to it when I can just as easily simply grow beets and get roots as well as leaves. More space efficient. Unsure what I should do with the two (large) chard plants I have now. Harvest and eat, probably.

Finished the embroidery for the next tablecloth, signed and dated it, etc. Have the hems pinned; just need to run them through a sewing machine. Perhaps in the morning. Unsure of what portable handwork I should tackle next, as of the partially done pieces I have, one is very large and I'm a bit iffish on my cutwork skills, and the other is worked in pearl cotton, and only one of the colors I have in said medium matches what's already been used. Perhaps I'll take another look at that linen napkin set and see if I can suss out an underlying design in the stamped cross-stitch.
sakon76: (Kitten)
So, since flying from England back to the United States is setting yourself up for jetlag the "right" way (ie, getting up early, having a leisurely breakfast, getting to check all the daily sites I read, actually seeing my house and garden in daylight...), I've made an executive decision not to try to hard to go back to where I was before. My alarm is now set for 5:30am rather than 7am, and I'm finding it quite nice. I've thus far used the early time to go to the dentist (where I discovered I need a couple thousand dollars' worth of work, but hey it could have been far worse) and to get badly-needed new tires installed on my car. This morning I'm sitting here embroidering. I've made it one of my goals for 2010 to finish WIPs, and since finishing the last tablecloth while in England, I'm still in an embroidery mood and have dragged out my crate of supplies. This one shouldn't take too long, as I picked it up from an estate sale half-finished and it's large cross-stitch anyway, which goes fast.

It's always interesting completing the work that someone else has started. Even though I feel slightly guilty, my first act was to rip out some of the previous stitching. I like the interesting color choice of using variegated thread for the roses... but the leaves should not be the same color as the petals. I think the stitching on this was done by someone who wasn't very good at it; the crosses change direction all the time, they didn't know how to tie a good knot on the thread, and they definitely didn't know how to do do stem stitch. But I'm not going to fix all their work. I'm not interested in that. It makes me think of things like the Bayeux Tapestry, though, where scholars and experts can say "oh, this was worked on by X number of hands..." centuries later. If this piece lasted that long, I suppose in centuries to come someone would be able to say decisively "this piece was definitely worked on by at least two individuals; we can only speculate as to the reasons why..." and write some scholarly dissertation about it. Which image amuses me.

And, for reference, "helper cats" are not in fact very helpful when it comes to embroidery. Kind of the opposite, in fact, no matter what they want you to believe....
sakon76: (Princess Princess)
Safely in Cambridge, ensconced in the living room of the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] toothycat. Have been introduced to new (to me) board game, Agricola, which, as all games they introduce me to (Samurai, Apples to Apples, Lord of the Rings...), makes me wish to acquire it and play it. Lack of players beyond Wonderful Husband and myself makes this somewhat less likely. Though, y'know, I seem to remember family games of Yahtzee and Monopoly when I was younger... I wonder if my parents would be interested in the occasional board game following a dinner together. Hmm. Must ponder.

Project-wise, I have twenty-four more leaves and my initials and the date to embroider and the tablecloth I've been working on will finally be completed. I'm hoping to finish it later today. I have also been given a simply gorgeous 1920 Singer sewing machine (hand-cranked, not treadle) and its case in mint condition by my inlaws and put it through its paces earlier. It looks like a dream and sews like one too. The only alteration it needs is loosening the tension on the bobbin shuttle, which I can do at home in one minute with an eyeglass screwdriver. It is lovely and makes me want to sew a 1920s dress on it. ^_^
sakon76: (Princess Princess)
I once read a discussion on an embroidery forum wherein the question was posed, how do you get all of those huge projects done? The answer came in just doing a little each day. Setting a consistent, achievable goal, say one 18" thread length per day. That answer has stuck with me over the years, being applicable of course not only to embroidery but to life in general. So when I look at the tablecloth I'm currently working on and guesstimate that I'm over half done at this point, the mental counting of today's stitching (96 French knots and roughly two yards of thread in stem/outline stitch, which translates to about two-thirds of a yard in length of line embroidered) makes me happy. Because despite having taken a break from this recently to finish off that small piece left over from last year, I'm still on approach to the "my god aren't I finished with this yet? I'm past ready to be..." stage. And embroidering on a piece when you're sick of it isn't nearly as much fun.


Jul. 25th, 2009 10:20 pm
sakon76: (Default)
Today I stuffed ziplocs for the embroidery class I'm teaching next weekend. Hoops, needle pad and needles, embroidery floss. It says something that giving away a hunded and five skeins of embroidery floss doesn't make much of a dent in my inherited stash, doesn't it? We also had a "real" breakfast of pancakes and bacon, did two rounds full of dishes in the rack, four loads of laundry, made sun tea, and gardened. A small stand of corn is now in the ground, along with soybean seeds and the seven eggplants I had in pots, which helps tidy up the potted plants area along the backside of the garage. We also pulled up a heck of a lot of grass that the tiller didn't get around the verges of the side yard, as well as pulling the quack grass that's resprouting from its roots where the rototiller did dig. Fortunately at this point it's easy to spot and dig up, roots and all. I also (in my rummaging through embroidery stuff) found a small linen runner that was almost done and finished it off. Hooray for a project done! One more sample to take along for demo/show'n'tell at the class. And now I crash and tomorrow morning while it's cool I iron, and then I rip fabric and trace samplers for the embroidery class.
sakon76: (Default)
Finished embroidering the runner while waiting to have my blood taken yesterday. Am now starting on the next embroidery project, which is a 42"x42" cotton tablecloth. I'm doing this "right" and pulling threads so the hem will be absolutely even, etc. I refuse, however, to follow the color instructions printed on the hem. The ones that tell me to do the stems in yellow and the leaves in brown. Live plant colors, kthx, not dead!
sakon76: (Default)
This is me getting the embroidery itch back in my fingers. This is me considering the worldmap counted cross stitch project, realizing that any and all stitching will be frequently interrupted by moving furniture, calming kitties on opposite sides of glass doors from other kitties, and generally doing the headless chicken thing for a while. This is me thinking no way. This is me remembering that I have some unstitched runners and tablecloths and that I even know where they are. (And the embroidery hoops. And the thread and needles.) This is me pulling out the runner I want to do, unfolding it, and discovering that the half of the pattern that was folded on the inside was mostly done already. (I pick things up used, and have no aversion to finishing other people's half-done projects.) This is me thinking "Egads, '50s colors!" (orange and peach flowers, true green leaves, and a lightly violet flat blue french knots that're actually not that far off the color we used for the hallway) and cheerfully digging through skeins wound on cards to find color matches. This is me waiting until actual daylight to confirm color matches, and then have a easily put down project to keep my hands happy.
sakon76: (Default)
I kind of feel like I ought to do one of those year-in-review posts. Or post about my resolutions for the forthcoming year. Maybe later.

Read my three newest manga (Kitchen Princess 7&8, and Ouran High Host Club 11). The end of the volume of Ouran surprised me. I didn't see that coming, though in retrospect I should have. Kitchen Princess continues sparkly; it's far more shoujo of a title than I usually read, but the cooking theme appeals to and inspires me. Unfortunately I'm not counting manga toward my fifty books in a year theme, otherwise I'd be way over....

I've finished yet another color out of the forty-five on my embroidery project. With this one I embroidered all the mountains of the world, all the sands of Egypt, and two pyramids for good measure. Now I'm on to a pale, pale pink which seems to be used for pastel winds and the innermost outline of South America. This map project has set me to dreaming of places I'd like to visit someday. Greece, Italy, more of France, Germany, Thailand, Tahiti, Japan again... I'd also like to travel all over the USA but that one will likely wait for my retirement in forty years or so. I'm also keeping up with my daily thread count. Years ago I was browsing embroidery forums and I remember someone asking how people on the forum got all these big projects done. The reply was something about just sticking to it, doing one length of thread a day. That answer stuck with me, so when I embroider I always try to do (at least) one length of thread a day. (Contrary to what the packet instructions always say, I don't cut them in half either. I can handle an 18" length of thread just fine.) So, while this project will likely end up being put aside and then picked up later at least a few more times before it's done, at least I make 18" worth of progress every day while I am working on it.

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