Saturday, March 17, 2018

TUSAL March 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

I’m happy that the Silly Stitching Calendar says I had 19 stitching days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  In that time, I’ve finished Band 13 of Jane Turner and made a good start on Band 14 while collecting a pleasing little pile of orts. 

Thought I was going to stitch the large green line/band first so I could use it as a reference for where the flowers go.  Uh, nope.  Turns out I needed to stitch flowers to know where the green band goes.  Maybe Jane and her 17th century friends and fellow students didn’t get confused by Montenegrin stitch - applause for them! - but I find it especially befuddling when it’s on the diagonal.

Since I’ve already made some intentional changes in the stitching, I gave in to my compulsion desire for balance and symmetry and made that lower dark blue flower the same on both sides. 

Looks like I have a couple of new followers - welcome, I'm glad you're here!

Hope everyone's weekend is starting off well and you have lots of lovely sunshine.  And that your snow is melting!  Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

To frog or not to frog

Turning corners with Montenegrin stitch is … complicated?  Confusing?  Uses a heck of a lot of thread?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Also not a good place to begin stitching a motif.

Have been working on a flower in the wide Montenegrin band, and the farther along I got with it, the less happy I was with how the first part of it looked – my corners were messy!

So I kept going, trying to figure out how to make those turns look better, and pulling the thread a bit seemed to help and I was able to make the corners more square.  Okay, so I’ll go back and redo that first bit.   Cut the thread in the middle and … uh oh.  I just discovered something else about Montenegrin stitch:  while removing stitches going backwards – truly reverse stitching – is doable, going *forward* is terrible!  I simply could not unstitch in that direction and felt lucky I was able to tease out about a half inch of thread tail to bury after clipping out all those first turns.

And then I stitched that bit again.

And it still looks messy.  (rats!!)

Need to make up my mind whether or not to frog and restitch that section again.  One thing though, I got LOTS of practice turning corners - there are OVER 40 right-angle turns in this flower!  (um … looks like I missed a connecting stitch – will go back and check the chart, but I’ll put it in even if it’s not charted because the asymmetry will bug me if I dont!)

Hope your weekend’s going well.  Thanks for stopping by to visit!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Band finish!

Finished up band 13 – the first of three Montenegrin bands - last night.  The rows that go straight across at the top and bottom felt like they took approximately forever, but this band stitched up faster than any of the others.  Maybe that's because even though it's slow, Montenegrin is faster than double-running stitch with satin filling?  Must be. 

But that’s not to say it was fast compared to regular cross stitch!  Each of those blue or pinkish flowers took about half an hour.  No matter which order I stitched the bits in, it didn’t make any real difference in how long those posies took.  And no, I generally don’t time my stitching, it’s just that I noticed that after stitching for an hour, I’d only finished two of them so after that I paid attention.

I’d been worried about stitching these bottom bands since I haven’t found anyone posting about actually *finishing* Jane Turner (well, except for one person, but she was posting on the Scarlet Letter Years Gallery blog and her Jane was hung with several Scarlet Letter samplers so was mentioned only for identification).  Nobody to hold my hand, so to speak – ack!  What if I’m not doing the small Montenegrin sections the right way?  Should I go back and forth?  Stitch all the bits in one direction?  What about that that single stitch all by itself in the center of each flower, how am I supposed to do that when a full Montenegrin stitch covers two "squares"? 

But I had to dive in or never finish, and now I see there was really nothing to be worried about.  What a dork. 

Still, I’d like to see somebody else’s finish of Jane. 

Hope everyone’s been having a fine weekend.  Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heeeeerrre’s Monty!

No, I won’t be talking about what’s behind door number three today or offering you a quick $50 to give up the contents of that box you just selected.  Instead I'd like to introduce you to the Montenegrin stitch.

Like any number of (fancy) stitches used on 17th century samplers, the Montenegrin stitch is reversible.  Before working on Jane, my experience with this stitch had been a single horizontal row used as a dividing band.  And I’m not even sure I was executing the stitch correctly (need to look at a one of my other stitch books to check on that).  Hands Across the Sea Samplers has a nice tutorial for the basic stitch HERE.

I’ve told you before about Amy Mitten’s wonderful little book and how I would be lost without it.  Jane was clearly quite adept at Montenegrin stitch and not only stitched rows that go diagonally down, across, diagonally up, and so forth, she also stitched flowers and such using it. 

So back to that reversible thing.  That indispensable little book details two different ways to make the stitch, and each way makes a different pattern the back.  So let’s start with a peek at that since I decided to do the two lines which mark the top and bottom of Band 13 first, and that I’d stitch them in the two different ways.

So even though I told you you’d seen the last of Jane’s backside months ago, I’ll flip her over for you here.

In the top (blue) row, the steps of the Montenegrin are stitched in such an order as to make a four-sided/box stitch on the back.  Cool, huh?

The other way to do the stitch is a little easier for me, guess it just feels a little more natural.  The back of this version (red row) produces a pattern that is cross stitches with vertical lines between each stitch:  X|X|X|X|X|   But because I’m using two threads on 35-count linen, it’s rather hard to see that pattern.

From the front, the two methods produce a similar stitch, though I think the sequence that makes the four-sided stitch on the back give a slightly more braided look on the front of the piece.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

TUSAL February 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and discover why I’m posting pictures of thread snippets, otherwise known as orts.    

My orts this time are exclusively from Jane Turner. 

The Silly Stitching Calendar says I stitched only 8 days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  Yikes, that’s patethic!  Work has been especially hectic for the last month or two (and not likely to let up for at least another month) and fairly often lately I get home too tired to remember my own name - not a good condition for stitching.

But he *good* news is that I’ve finished Band 12 (yay!).  I know I’ve mentioned before that Jane’s wider, more complicated bands are bracketed by pairs of narrow bands that are essentially mirror images, and I had decided to show you that when this band was finished.  But while stitching it, I noticed that the colors on the satin stitched circle flowers in Band 12 were reversed from those in Band 10.  So that would mean that instead of being mirrored, it’s spun around 180 degrees, right?  Nope.

Band 10

Newly-finished Band 12 (I like the darker green outlining better...)

Weird, huh?  Now I’m curious about the other paired bands.

And I’ve begun Band 13 - the first, narrow Montenegrin stitch band!  Next time I hope to show you a bit of progress there, and some detailed pictures of the stitch.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tangentially related...

... to stitching, that is.

Shortly after I began working on Jane Turner, I realized that Amy Mitten’s fat little book on everything you ever might want to know about executing the Montenegrin stitch (HERE in case you’re curious about the book) was going to be a necessity as I had never stitched it as anything but a dividing line straight across a sampler.  If you follow that link, you’ll see that Amy Mitten designed a humorous pocket to store and carry the book – fun, yes?  I thought so too, but figured I didn’t need it, so couldn’t justify it (and didn’t want to have to complete that project in order to work on Jane Turner).

Now that I’m getting really close to the bands that are filled with Montenegrin, I was thinking more and more about that pocket and how something similar would keep my book in better shape than just dropping it into my stitching bag every night.

So I dug out some supplies…

… and measured and marked and made a pattern.

Then I rooted through my denim stash till I found a piece that was tough but still soft.

And then I got too tricky for my own good – something I absolutely excel at when finishing smalls or making things like this.  Wouldn’t it be much nicer if the pocket was lined?  Yes, of course!  Cut two pieces of denim …

Uh oh.  How am I going to construct it?  Well, just sew the two pieces together, turn, and then … oh wait, can’t do the pocket side seams easily that way....  Okay, sew the pocket sides together for each piece and square off the bottom corners, turn one inside out and stuff it inside the other and then … oops, that’s a LOT of hand stitching to finish it.  Seems there should be a way that I could sew the two pieces mostly together and then turn it all through an open part (I’m still pretty sure this *can* be done… but work seems to be using the entire allotment of brain power these days and I just couldn't see how it ought to be done).

But at this point I was, as we say in our house, a bear of very little brain (apologies to A. A. Milne).  Think, think, think…

All right, let’s go for the least amount of hand sewing:  sew, turn, press, fold, pin …

Sew down the sides by hand.  Ah, at least I can shape the bottom.

Now slide the book in …

… and, finished!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

TUSAL January 2018

CLICK HERE to go to Sharon’s It’s Daffycat blog to read all about the Totally Useless SAL and find out why we're saving our orts!    

As usual lately, all the orts are from Jane Turner. 

The Silly Stitching Calendar (yes, there’s one for 2018) says I had 11 stitching days since last month’s TUSAL check in.  Sounds like an embarrassingly small number till I remember that the December new moon was *before* Christmas and I didn’t even pick up a needle while visiting family were here for the holiday.  The 2017 version of that silly calendar reports that I stitched 171 days – not as often as I’d hoped, but not too bad.

I’m working on Band 12 now – the narrow band under the Lady Band, and an inverted version of Band 10, though with the double running stitch done in dark green.  Will show you progress on the band in a moment, but first I want to show you this motif.

I’ve now stitched that motif ten times, and I don’t think I followed the same path twice!  Certainly that wasn’t planned, it just seemed to go a bit differently each time.  

Here’s Band 12, and you can see that I have only one more of those fussy little yellow and green leaves to fill in.  That’s the last one of those in the entire sampler!  Think I’ll dance a little jig when it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stitchy stash (yay!)

A round up post of what I stitched last year would be deadly dull (multiple bands of Jane Turner plus two starts).  And a what-I-plan-to-stitch-this-year post would be only moderately more interesting (finish Jane, finish those other two, then pick one from the three or four at the top of my list).  Showing off my new goodies seems like a good alternative.

Wonderful Husband gifted me with two good sized projects for Christmas.  Seems selecting large or long-term projects is his forte - he also chose Jane.  First he gave me the chart and silks for True Wisdom from Examplar Dames.  I’ve been wanting to try a Quaker style sampler and think this is lovely.

And then he completely surprised me.  I love the unicorn tapestries from the Middle Ages, both the Lady and the Unicorn series and the Hunt of the Unicorn.  Our very first Christmas together, he surprised me with this - he built the frame and gave it to me ready to hang, and it's been on the wall in our home ever since.  He had planned to frame a similar museum show poster of the Unicorn in Captivity but never got around to it.

So what was it he surprised me with this time?  Also under the tree was a chart (um, *booklet*) of the Unicorn in Captivity from Scarlet Quince.  Who knew there was such a thing?  At 285w x 404h this is NOT small.  

And, oh yeah, it’s solid coverage - see that little grid in the lower left?  Eep!

I went through every bit of my linen stash and discovered that I had nothing large enough for either project.  Good thing the Silver Needle’s New Year’s Eve sale was coming up, right?

I had made it all the way through 2017 essentially without buying stitch stash.  I allowed myself to buy threads, but that’s all since the previous NYE sale.  Just thread.  Really.  So even though there’s virtually no chance I’ll get to them this year, I did order a couple of charts. 

I got fabric for both of the very large projects – 40 count for True Wisdom and 36 count for the unicorn.


The impossible-to-resist, just had-to-have-‘em charts.

And of course I had to buy more threads.  One each of all the new DMC colors…

… plus another card of my favorite GAST green (forest glade), and a few other overdyed cottons because they looked so pretty.

I will now return to my regularly-scheduled stitching of Jane Turner.  

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy dance, and other stories

Jane Turner band 11, aka the Lady Band, is complete - woohoo!!  We’ve been expending most of our energy doing various snow moving things, but I was able to stitch a bit last night, completing the filling-in of Lady Jane’s face and neck and giving her eyes and a mouth.  The mouth is my addition - can you believe Jane didn’t give her lady a mouth?  Strange!

And then I spent some time checking the chart and instructions just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything (I hadn’t - yay).  Wanna see?

Now, back in early January when everyone was making their stitching plans for the year, I had hoped to have Jane finished in 2017.  Ha!  Still, it feels like the end is in sight now.  All that's remaining to stitch are three narrow bands, one wide band, and then the alphabet and Jane’s signature line, so I think an actual finish in the new year should be possible.  Here’s how she looks at this point.

So what are those other stories, and what else is going on?  Well, after the Great Christmas Snow, on Friday and Saturday we got more – we figure about 12 to 14 inches of new stuff fell overnight and through the day yesterday.  So we’ve been shoveling.

Oh, not the driveway – around here if one doesn’t have a snowblower, it’s wise to have an arrangement with a plow guy.  We’ve been shoveling the roof!

And today I was able to start knocking the snow off our arborvitae in the back yard, which turned out to be one of those easier-said-than-done things.  Just like everything else right now, there is a huge amount of snow on those trees.

Here’s a view of my snow knocker (an eight foot piece of 2 x 2) and a better look at what I was using it on.

Odd selfie.  My feet are down there somewhere!  Not sure you can tell very well from the picture, but that snow is up to the middle of my thighs (and my legs are not short).

I got all the way down the side to the corner.  Hope to do across the back tomorrow.

Today’s newspaper reported that this is already the ninth snowiest winter in Erie since they started keeping records.  Oh, our forecast for the next 36 hours?  Tonight, 1 to 3 inches; tomorrow, 3 to 5 inches; tomorrow night, 2 to 4 inches.

Stay warm and safe.  Happy new year!


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

White(out) Christmas

Under the heading of Be Careful What You Wish For, last week I was bemoaning the fact that though we had some snow, temperatures and rain forecast for 12/21 and 12/22 suggested all that would remain by Christmas Day would be the ugly gray stuff at the sides of the road.

The kids - now 29 and 31 - and I went on our annual movie-at-Christmas-break outing on the 23rd (the new Star Wars), and were pleasantly surprised to find it was snowing when we came out of the theater.  Late in the afternoon, the front yard looked like this.

A close look will show you all the snow came from the left side – see what’s on the tree, and the odd oval of clear ground underneath.  Weird, isn't it?

And then the news and weather started talking about a storm, and around dinnertime on Christmas Eve it started snowing again.

And it snowed.

And when we got up on Christmas morning, it looked like this (notice the bushes in the second picture ... the third picture is NOT out of focus - the fuzziness is the snow pouring down).

And it snowed while we opened presents around the Christmas tree.

This is what it looked like in the afternoon (see those same bushes now?).

And it snowed during the night.

From an article in this morning’s local paper (online!):

"… a record 34 inches of snow fell on the city on Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. …  another 8 to 16 inches of snow is expected in Erie County through Tuesday night, with 4 to 8 additional inches expected through Wednesday evening, when an issued lake effect snow warning is expected to expire.”

Not sure how much we have here, though Wonderful Husband said this morning there’s about 18 inches in the driveway, which was plowed yesterday around noon.

This morning… (bushes?  what bushes?)

I hope you all had a lovely day yesterday!  Please stay safe.