Friday, January 16, 2009

No rest!

My hopes for a quiet week were dashed by an unexpected major midyear budget redo to cut expenses (of course it was due immediately!), an unexpected conference call I got to host (also unexpected!!), a faltering transmission on my car (it's driving fine but contributed mightily to my overall anxiety!!!), and -15 F temperatures slowing everything down. It's now Friday evening and the budget's turned in, the call completed, we're going to see a friend about the transmission tomorrow and it's supposed to warm up a bit soon. Twenty degrees will feel balmy!

Mostly I've just crashed in the evenings. I'm rereading a Good Book: Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn. It's book four of a series that currently has six books out, I think. Each book is huge. Drums is over 1,000 pages. I've read the first three a couple of times each, and parts of the first book over and over. This is my first reread of this one and I'm thoroughly engrossed.

I have made some progress on my needlepoint Santa and also picked up an ornament kit that I found over the holidays (shown completed at the top of the page!). Here's Santa. I have the animals stitched, much of the vertical veining done in the beard and I've been experimenting with how I'll stitch the bulk of the beard. Lots of ripping has gone on but I kind of like what I'm doing now (just under the mustache).

The ornament is called Edelweiss, designed by Catherine Studer. I'm pretty sure it was a EGA Great Lakes Region meeting project from a few years back. I got two kits and had completed one but even though it was beautiful found it really frustrating to stitch and never began the second.

Watching World Embroideries and her Temari balls made me remember how making this ornament had reminded me of temari, with the marking and wrapping the ball--only with this Battenburg lace tape was used instead of thread. And that gave me an idea.

One of my biggest frustrations with the first ornament was getting the Amadeus stitch sections even. And that kept me from starting the second ball. This time I stitched one very carefully and realized that the way the individual stitches lay, it looks better if the stitches aren't all exactly the same distance apart. Those at the top (point) of the arch look better closer, those at the bottom lie better if spaced farther apart. A little light went on!

I made up a little paper measuring strip (you can see it hanging off the top here, curled up a bit) and pinned in guidelines for the stitches (12 per side so four sections of three stitches each). I was much happier with my stitching. Even though stitching with all the pins could be a pain, it went much more happily and quickly than before.

Here's the finished stitch.

Every other section has an Edelweiss stitch in the center. The designer stitched them in two stages; I did them all at once and was happy with the results. I love this stitch because it looks complex but isn't.

Some gold thread and beads completed the ornament. I stitched most of it last weekend and finished it up after work this week. The kit came with everything (the main thread used is perle cotton #8, there is some DMC gold metallic used for accents and plain sewing thread for the beads) but somewhere along the way I lost the ribbon to trim the top.

I found myself in Jo-Anns but behaved (mostly) and only bought ribbon for the ornament. (Well, I did buy three reels of ribbon for the ornament, because I wasn't sure if I liked the match of the green satin, so I also got green grosgrain--a better color match but too textured--and an ecru satin...but I tried!)

Paying more attention to what I stitch and why, I've realized that if I begin something on the weekend and get it figured out, then I can often stitch during the week, even though I'm tired after work. (I started learning this last year doing the Take It Further project--I had to stitch weeknights to make the deadlines!) It can't be to fine or small or require too much focused attention. The needlepoint project is a good one for during the week.

But once the weekend rolls around and I have focus and energy, I find I'm looking for something more complex or requiring more thought. Which is probably why I've always had a bunch of projects going at once.

We're only two weeks into the year and already I've been mightily tempted by loads of classes, challenges, and workshops. Pat Winter is teaching nearby and the classes are out for the International Quilt Festival coming to Chicago in April. Judy Coates Perez will be teaching there. Sharon B has begun Stitch Explorer--I'll think I'll watch this one unfold with interest. I am going to participate in Pat Winter's friendship-puzzle swap, which I signed up for a while back. I'm looking forward to it.

But perhaps it's the wintry weather helping keep me snuggled in with my current projects--so far I'm not poking my nose into anything new. I dug into another corner this week and found some more projects I want to get going on, and a few I plan to find new homes for.

I probably will go visit the International Quilt Festival on Friday April 17 with friends; it's become a tradition (with a firm reminder to myself that I haven't completed projects I bought there last year!). I'd love to meet you there!


Karol said...

Your ornament is lovely! The santa is coming along nicely!

Paula Hewitt said...

i work similarly- i need the time to start several projects that i can then work in snatches of time - it means i usually have a few things on the go - but if i waited for a free day - id do nothing. i like the ornament - very pretty

terryb said...

Great idea on how to approach the battenberg lace ornament. I set mine aside because my segments were not even or consistent and I wasn't happy with the look of it. I'll have to backtrack and try your technique. Maybe I'll even get it done in time for our April show.

Lelia said...

I think you get a lot accomplished You seem to have a good cycle of creativigy without bogging you down

I had such a great time with the doll class yesterday. I swear my post is probably the longest one i've ever done. Karol accomplished more than I did -- she is such a quick stitcher & so creative!!!

Enjoy your day ...