Monday, May 31, 2010

Kiss on the Half Shell

The future-in-laws are over this weekend and it's turned into one of those "let's sit around and watch racing all weekend" kind of things.   I'd like "equal time" at some point and have a Jane Austen movie marathon, but I don't think that's likely to happen LOL

Anyway.   I opted to shamelessly indulge myself in a stitching marathon instead.  The object of my affection? 

I think I've done about 25-30 hours over the last couple days, and the long weekend isn't over yet.  Mwahahahaha!

With the head tilt and the flowing hair (and her current lack of clothing) she totally reminds me of classic "Venus on the Half Shell" pose...aka Boticelli's The Birth of Venus.  Right, I know the head tilt is the opposite way but without checking the original artwork, you don't really remember that.

Anyway....another day of stitching today!  I want to finish off the sky and get started on some of the flowers or her dress.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Mirabilia Obsession

Yes, Kathy, another Mirabilia!

And yes...I am obsessed with Mirabilia.   When it comes to stitching, there's Mirabilia, and then there's everything else.   I like a lot of the "everything else" to be sure, particularly Silver Lining.  But they're still "everything else".

I first found Mirabilia in the mid-1990's, and it's been all about them since (although I did take a several-year break from doing a lot of stitching - a dark age, to be sure.)  They were a little above my skill level then; now they're easy and comfortable for me to work on.   If there's a project (one of the "others") that I'm having trouble with or my stitching mojo is a little off....then it's a Mirabilia that I want to work on to get me back.

I'm definately an "old school big Mira" fan...the alphabet fairies and pixie series are just not my cup of tea.   Give me big, bold, and elegant every time.  

I generally plan Mira's in blocks of four.   Sleeping Beauty and Royal Holiday are part of the last block that also included Midsummer Night's Fairy and Mermaid of Atlantis.  The new "block" is The Kiss, Garden Verses, Queen Mermaid and Christmas Elegance.   They are mostly kitted up (but obviously still tweaking as I'm going to get new fabric for QM).  I still need a few bangles for some of them.

Next block of four?   It's still subject to change, but will most likely be:  Rose of Sharon, Venetian Opulence, Rose Celebration, and Enchanted Mermaid.   I also have a few that are tentative after that....Titania, Stone Roses, Christmas Flourishes, Queen of Freedom or Queen of Peace, Deepest Love, My Lady's Garden, etc....there will always be more to do :-)

False start....

It was supposed to be Wood Warblers I this week on rotation.   Warblers is part of one of my "grand plan" large projects - it's actually a series of two rather large bellpulls from Crossed Wings Collection and includes some lovely songbirds, foliage and flowers that change for every bird, some over-1 stitching, etc.   I had to buy a full yard of linen for them (28 count because of the over-1 areas) and split lengthwise to have two 18x55 pieces;  since there were a lot of overlapping colors I built one large box of floss for both of them to share (and all of them wouldn't fit in one box).    When they're both finish, I will get some fancy schmancy bellpull hardware and a yard of fabulous (probably floral) tapestry fabric to finish them off.   I envision them being hung on either side of the front door or perhaps on either side of the picture window in the dining room.

Just couldn't get into working on it this week for some reason.

I did finish the first bird and surrounding flora though, so that's one down, eight more to go for this bellpull. I also did all the backstitching because I want to finish one bird completely before I move on. There's just too much backstitching in the overall piece to leave it to the end and then do it all at once.

The bird's eye is over one, and I'll be honest, it looks a little flat to me.   Having had pet birds on and off all my life, their eyes are small and black - if you look very close, you can see some color variation, but they're definitely not pale blue/white as this one appears.  Grumble, grumble.  Unfortunately because it IS over one and multiple colors, it's nearly impossible to frog and fix this bird's.   But I'll adjust the others.

So, what did I work on instead of Warblers this week?   Funny you should ask....

 The Kiss!  Yes, it's another Mirabilia.   I actually didn't have a lot of stitching time this week but with the holiday weekend here (and being subjugated to lots of car racing on television this weekend), I should get a fair amount done.  I am going to get in another day or two working on Warblers.

I had picked up some of the bling for The Kiss a couple weeks ago.   The pattern calls for #8 Kreinik which frankly I hate to work with.   Fortunately I found a needlepoint store not too far from me that stocks (!!!) a huge amount of Kreiniks, so I went through and matched up good substitutes - some exact, one or two very close - in #4 Kreiniks.   I also got most of the beads;  I know I'm short a couple packets but obviously am not in dire need of getting them anytime soon.

The Kiss is one of the more petite Mirabilias, and is unusual in that almost all of the background is filled in.  As you can see, I've been working on the blue skies.  Most of the background fabric will be covered.   I wish I had a little bit more room on the right and left hand sides of the fabric but there's just a 3 inch margin on either side of the design since the fabric is a "leftover" piece from another project (Garden Verses which is not yet started).  I might have to downsize to an 8 x 11 Qsnap frame to work on it a little easier.   The fabric is a 32 count belfast linen in apricot.   It's more orange-y than the picture shows but it's a nice color.

I've also had a little fun this week playing with some future Mira projects.   First of all, the Amsterdam Blue that I was going to do Queen Mermaid on is history - I was never 100% about that as a background color and I've decided to nix it.  Already had the fabric, so it will just go back into stash until it has a home.  Instead, I am going to get another fabric for her.  I don't really want to do another blue background, and I really like the look of her on a grey fabric.   The current frontrunner of fabric options is Pearl Grey Zweigart belfast linen.  If I can find a shaded hand dyed grey, I may consider that.

Also, a fellow stitcher on one of the Mirabilia Yuku boards pointed out that when you hang Queen Mermaid side to side with Deepest Love, the curves of their bodies is complimentary and they make a great pair.  Definately something to think about!  When I get around to ordering fabric for Queen Mermaid, I will get enough to also do Deepest Love if I chose to do them as a pair.

I'm also still tweaking my Rose of Sharon conversion.   I know I want to do her on cream belfast, and am changing her dress to lavender (or possibly rose pinks) and the ruffle to cream.   I'm getting down the colors for both conversions right now, and will decide when it's time to start kitting her up.  RoS is a ways off though...obviously lots of projects to get finished (and started) before I get to her.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's good to be the Queen....

Or Christmas Queen, aka Royal Holiday.   I really should warn any of you who are considering doing any of the Mirabilia Queens.  

They're addictive.

I'm now moaning over the fact that after I finish Royal Holiday, there's only Queen of Freedom left to do.  Nevermind that I have a long way to go over my currently-headless Queen.

She's actually working up fairly quickly.   I spent a week with her last November, and this is after working on her the second full week. 

I've decided to just use DMC white floss to substitute for the Wisper in the cloak (which I refuse to use - hate it!).   I did that with Autumn Queen;   on Winter Queen, I used a blend of white floss and white metallic.   I don't think Royal needs the extra sparkle of the blend.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More organizational stuff...

Here's how all the "boxes" fit into the master organization plan for my stash/WIPs.

I need to backtrack a little.   I used to keep a lot more stash, but I wasn't particularly organized and I ended up with boxes and boxes of stuff that I didn't use and frankly, I couldn't remember what I had.   Obviously - that's rather a waste of money to say nothing of frustrating because you can't find anything.

I also have tendency to be a bit of a pack rat, so I have to consciously limit "stuff".   

So I opted to get these drawer sets from Wally World to keep my craft stuff in.   Eventually when I finish unpacking from the move, it will move into the closet in my office.  

I had a huge purge of stuff - hopefully the local Goodwill didn't mind boxes and boxes of cross stitch magazines as well as some kits, etc.  And yes...I threw out quite a bit as well....still a bit sad about that. 

They're great because they don't take up a lot of floor space (tall, narrow) and basically my "rules" are that all my stash has to fit into this.   

The two deep drawers at the bottom contain patterns;  the other  large drawer contains projects that I have kitted up but have not started (it's quite full right now).

One of the narrow drawers houses  my Mirabilia pattern collection.   I'm going to have to get rid of some of the duplicates because it's getting quite full and I'm running out of room to add more.  And why are there duplicates?   Refer to above statement about not knowing what I had because I was very disorganized.

The other narrow drawers include one for fabric, one for basic "supplies" like needles, scissors, and other assorted "necessities" for stitching.   The last one is kind of a junk drawer with some leftover beads, etc.    I am probably going to clean out the junk drawer to use for my Silver Lining patterns.   

Disadvantage:  The drawers are supposed to be on wheels.  Since the whole thing is plastic, the wheels didn't hold up to the weight of all the patterns, etc.  Fortunately, they just came out and got trashed.    For $20...I can't complain.

Not shown:  I do have an under-the-bed style storage box that I keep all my Qsnap and scroll frame parts in because they simply do not fit into any of the drawers.  

There's room for more stuff to be added, but once it gets full, I will have to get rid of some things in order to bring more in.  

You'll notice that my "project boxes" are piled on top of the drawers.  

The boxes are part of a set that Wally World sells, so they are designed to stack on top of each other like this.  

The smaller boxes are individual projects like I showed in the last post.   

One of the larger boxes contains all of the pattern materials for my "in progress" projects because I prefer not to fold them over so they fit in the smaller boxes.   The other larger box has the materials with Wood Warblers I and II.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Christmas in May

Time to get back to work on Royal Holiday this week.    Because I change projects regularly, I've become fairly organized at how I keep projects when they are not in use, so that it's no effort to swap projects.   I started using this nifty little stacking boxes that I got at Walmart - they're inexpensive, and large enough to hold fabric, floss, and other specialty items needed for an average piece.  They're not quite large enough to hold the patterns, so I have one larger master "pattern" box where I keep all the in-progress patterns (here, with working copies).  

I've switched over to carding up all the floss individually for each project, and keeping it in a small floss box.  I got these small half-size ones that are perfect for one project and they fit in the storage box nicely.   You can see some of the goodies in there as well - beads, metallic threads, and there is extra floss underneath.   I used to just card & box up the floss for projects that had a lot of very similar colors to keep them straight, but decided I liked doing that better overall, so I've been switching all the projects over. 

It's a fairly cheap way to keep projects organized, and once a project is done, I can empty it out and use the box for the next project. 

The great thing is that when I'm switching over projects, I just have to box up the last one, change out the pattern, and get the next box - everything is there!

Knotgarden after 10 days

As I mentioned, Knotgarden got a couple extra days since the doily project didn't take a full week.   Here it is now:

I'm about a garden gate short of the halfway point now.   The next time Knotgarden comes up in rotation, I'll have to get the silk variegated flosses and start in on some of the speciality stitches.   Should be interesting!  I have done some of them before and the directions make them seem very straightforward.  

I have all the beads for this - there are a TON of them!  Because of the overall project size, I'll have to whip out the handy dandy scroll frame to do the beading....NOT my favorite but it's useful for beading large projects.

Incidentally, since there's no way I would remember which side is "up" and it does make a difference, I have the top edge of the fabric blanket stitched in green (the other 3 sides are in white).   I also have it written all over the pattern that "GREEN IS TOP"  so I don't make a mistake. 

I can perhaps also start thinking about which Chatelaine I might want to do next...hmmmmm...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And today's bargain....

Shoes I got on the clearance rack that will go perfectly with my wedding dress.  

I think they'll be about two shades darker than the actual dress, but they're a great height (I'm not a high heel kinda gal), and just SO pretty!  They definately fit the very romantic/feminine feel that the dress has.
At least I got SOMETHING cheap for the wedding!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aging Gracefully....

When I was writing the previous post about Knotgarden, it got me thinking about a couple things.

The great thing about blogging about my needlework and taking pictures along the way is that I can see the progress and keep track of when I started them, etc.   The not-so-great thing is that when I look at how long I've been working on some of them, I start a bit feeling guilty LOL  Just a bit, anyway.

I started both Sleeping Beauty and Knotgarden in May 2009.   To be fair, both have made appreciable progress, and although I'd like to be farther along on them (isn't that ALWAYS the case?), they really are in good shape given how many projects I have going on right now.   They'll get to a point in the next couple months where I'll pull them out and just work on them exclusively to finish them up, like I did with Midsummer Night's Fairy and Mermaid of Atlantis.   

I'm still finishing about four large projects a year, which is about what I'd be doing if I worked on one project at a time.  I can't remember when I last did that though LOL  What can I say - I like the variety.  I get bored with a project if I work on it for too long a period of time, so working on a variety of different projects keeps the creative juices flowing.

As I mentioned, Knotgarden is the first in a new series of Garden Mandalas for me, so there are more "in the pipeline" for those - I have the patterns, but nothing else kitted up right now.   I will definately be doing Watergarden and Alhambra Garden, and then we'll see.   I have not yet decided whether or not I want these framed to match.  Obviously this series is going to be a long-term project, and why not...lol...it took me ten years to complete the last series, the four seasonal Queens by Mirabilia

Meeting on the Turret Stairs has been lingering since March 2009.   I've officially dropped it out of rotation, because honestly...the heavy confetti stitching, square after square, is driving me a little nuts right now and taking some of the enjoyment of stitching out of it.   I'm not giving up on the project (although to be honest, I've considered it).  I'm going to try to just work on it a day here and a day there.   I have another Artecy piece that's also a lot of confetti stitching kitted up - Waterhouse's My Sweet Rose, one of my favorite paintings.   I am holding off on starting that until there's an end in site for Meeting.  I really love the effect of these painting reproductions, but I also have to like the process of stitching them..right now, that's not so much the case. 

I started Mirabilia's Royal Holiday last November and haven't worked on it since.  She's yet another Mirabilia so therefor a fairly stress-free project to stitch on.  Obviously Mirabilia is my favorite designer, and they're all a joy to work on.  She's coming up next on rotation after I'm done with Knotgarden at the end of this week.   Unofficially,  Royal Holiday (aka Christmas Queen) is #5 in the seasonal Queens series.  If I finish her before I get the other four queens framed (I want them to all match), I will probably do her at the same time as well (when that time will be...not so sure LOL).

Wood Warblers I was started in January.  There's also a Wood Warblers II, and I plan on doing both pieces.  Because the size of the fabric that I needed for them, it was easier to get a full yard of linen and split lengthwise for both pieces than it was to get anything custom-cut.  I plan on finishing them both off as bellpulls, and hang them flanking either the back door or the fireplace or the like, so it was important to me that the fabric matched - hence, best cut from one piece.  They have some areas of over-1 stitching so I'm working on cashel (28 count) instead of belfast (32 count).   I won't be starting part II until part I is finished. 

There's my two recent starts, Scarlet Ribands and Broadway.   Scarlet Ribands will take some time simply because it's a large project, but it's not hard to work on.   Broadway will also be fairly straightforward as well. 

I'm switching over to carding up all of my floss for my projects.  I had only been doing it for the projects that had a lot of similar colors, but I've decided I would prefer that for all of them.  I had a little fling at the craft store with a good coupon and bought more of the small thread boxes so each project has their own.  It takes a little while to card up the floss, but I'm just doing it as I pick up that project to work on so it's not too big of a deal. 

I have two more projects that I have on the rotation schedule that will be new starts.   You'll have to stay tuned to see what those ones will be :-). 

I've briefly mentioned that I'm getting married in October, so I'm also in the market for a wedding sampler. I'm not a huge sampler fan, so I haven't found one that I really think it special enough yet.  But the hunt continues.  When I do decide on one, that will probably become a priority to do. 

2.2 flower urns

It didn't take me a full rotation (7 days) to do my bedroom doily project, so I took on those extra few days to work longer on Knotgarden.   I've been working on it on and off since last May - so a year now (!!).    Yes, I'm feeling a little guilty since I'm not closer to finishing it.   I haven't even done any of the infamous Chatelaine specialty stitches on it.

That's the problem with working on a lot of different projects ~ I can still only finish 4-5 large projects a year, no matter how many are in progress.  Since I have more than 4-5 in progress...some just seem like they are taking forever, even though they're definately progressing.

I suppose the pressure is on with Knotgarden  because this IS only one of a series of Chatelaine's Garden Mandalas that I plan on doing...and doing a series means getting one done once in a while, right?  (and I'm not even sure of how many of them I'm going to do...I just know that there's two more on the drawing board so far).

The good news?   Knotgarden is still a joy to work on ~ I love this piece!

I originally taped together a couple sheets of the pattern but I really think that's just been too unwieldy.  I switched over to working on one pattern page, so you can see that I have 2.2 flower urns completed here - poor #3 got cut off because it was at the edge of the page, as did the floral corner motif.  

I also need to go restock some of my floss in the next day or two - I'm running low on quite a few colors.  Fortunately, it's just DMC, which means it's only a few dollars to restock.   Although I've gotten all the beads for Knotgarden, I have NOT yet gotten the silk varigated threads as yet.   I've been debating on whether or not to use them or substitute DMC solids for them, mostly for cost reasons ~ the silk floss adds another $40-$50 minimum to an already-expensive project.   Obviously that's a decision I have to make before I start working on the specialty stitches, which is something I'd like to start soon.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A project for the bedroom

I'm taking a little break from stitching this week to work on a project for the bedroom:  two matching large doilies to put on the bedside tables.   I have stacks of doilies that I've crocheted over the years, but just not quite what I wanted.

I finished the first one over the weekend while on a road trip, and I'm currently working on the second one to match.  I thought it would be fun to show how second piece grows as compared to the finished piece.

Here's the first piece, finished:

It's made with size 10 crochet cotton (slightly thicker) and is currently 19 inches across.  Once I wash it, it will shrink down to 18 inches.   This is a pineapple design, which is the symbol of hospitality.  It's a very popular motif in doilies, and shows up regularly in patterns.  It's also one of my favorite motifs, and it ends up on a lot of my projects.

This is the first row of the second doily, which is obviously quite small.

The first three rows.  You can see how the pattern starts to take shape.

The first six rows, side by side with the finished doily.

As you can see, they're worked in rounds out from the center, so it grows fairly rapidly at first.  Obviously as the rounds get larger, the progress slows down.

Here's the center just about finished, and within the next 2 rounds, the bottom of the pineapple edging will start to form.

The bases of the pineapples are completed here. The interior of the design will be mostly covered by things like the lamps, a cup tray, etc, so for a bedside table, a simpler interior design like this works really well because the edging is highlighted.

The pineapples are about 2/3 of the way done here and you can see how it's all pulling together.

And they are both finished (on the dining room table here).   I still need to darn in the ends (you can see them hanging out still), then wash and iron with a little bit of starch, and they'll be ready to use.   The thread is 100% cotton so that makes them very practical for actual use, not just decorative.  

Monday, May 03, 2010

Roses, roses

And you know I love my roses.

I haven't worked on Sleeping Beauty for quite a while so here's a "before" picture as a reminder.

I have quite a ways to go on this project yet, but she's been a joy to stitch.  

And here's where I got to her this week.   The skirt pattern (with the swirls) is actually a bit difficult to do, as you need to leave a lot of space blank for beading (those will come later) and there's a lot of subtle color changes going on.  I opted to do that area by completing each 10x10 block at a time, which actually sped things along quite a bit.