Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en!

Wishing you loads of fun and no spooklies!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

red suit

Nope, that's not me. That's my new swimsuit color and style though. I never would have thought that I'd have such anxieties about wearing red! I love red. But red swimsuit --that's scary!

Each week I do water aerobics at the YMCA. So, I'm not wearing this on a public beach, but in a small class amongst friendly people. Hmmmm, well, let me tell you walking last night from the locker room to the pool ladder was one of the longest walks of my life! Everyone noticed. (I guess in a class of deep blue suits, black suits, subdued floral patterns, red would stick out!)

Used to be, as a kid, I lived in a swimsuit in summer. Even in high school, when I was "chubby" it wasn't a cause for much anxiety. Since then I've always had a suit, in a suitable dark color and style, and felt okay about it. Not great, mind you--I don't think there are many women who are happy when it comes to trying on swimsuits and seeing themselves in one in all those mirrors. But okay.

I skipped that part. I ordered online! I had purchased this style suit before in suitable navy and slimming black and liked it a lot (Land's End). But, sadly, they no longer are making women's petite sizes in this style, so my only choice to replace my current suit (which is about to disintegrate) was go find another style/brand I liked or get red.

I never thought the color would make such a difference!

I don't really have a point to this, just sharing my meandering thoughts on my new red swimsuit (And I bought TWO!!---suits, even chlorine resistant ones, don't last long.)

the 3/50 project and recipe

One of the best bits of family gatherings is to share the foods you grew up with. Cousin D made the green beans that spell home for me. I've never made them myself--we don't use bacon at home and we never over cook veggies, but I can't resist them when we're home. Here's the recipe.
While we were in Indi, we visited a really great bead shop: Beads Amoré. I found some goodies (I hope to get a picture soon) and in my bag was a little notice for the 3/50 project aimed at saving brick and mortar stores. We strive to avoid box stores, buy local, and shop at local small businesses. I think their project is worthwhile and interesting. You can see their statistics about employment and how much money stays in a community on their webpage. The most striking one--the number of people it takes to start the trend = one--just me (or you!).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

no stitching content

This was family reunion weekend for us, too (see World Embroideries for another family's gathering). We drove down to Indianapolis for the event. Below are four generations!We had a nice drive--it was the perfect weekend for fall color and Indiana's highways tend to be tree-lined. It was just wonderful!

We had a bit of a surprise to learn the ring road around Indi was closed at the north end. This is (was) the only way we knew around town! We soon learned other ways and once we were out of Friday night rush hour traffic, we were fine.On the way back we stopped at an interesting car show. There were a lot of unusual British cars, like this three-wheeled one, that the owner was allowing people to sit in and drive.Not a lot of stitching done but I did manage to work some in--I kept my knitting in my purse and did a row here and a row there (Christmas gift), I brought the long and short stitch sampler along and made a little progress on that and on the pears.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

crewel again

I'm "designing" a crewel project for my EGA chapter. They asked for someone to teach such a class and when no one else volunteered, I said I'd do it. Then, we went looking at commercial kits and discovered they were too large and too expensive for this type of meeting-night project--if they were even crewel.

I learned that a whole lot of what is advertised as crewel isn't (like 75% not in some places on-line!). It's embroidery with floss. I have no idea why they don't just call it that. Crewel is done with crewel wool. If it's not done with crewel wool, at least in my definition, it's embroidery or surface embroidery or whatever, just not crewel. [rant over.]

So I decided to develop my own small project. I'm pretty sure I know what it will be (at this point it could change but for now I'm rather pleased with the idea I have) and I have adapted a design from one of my books to use, traced it to size, and am ready to go. As I was doing this I was also calculating fabric requirements, finishing supplies, and other materials to come up with a kit cost.

I won't be teaching until some time 2010, but I need a model by December! Yikes! (I won't show the whole project until it's made public in January, but I hope to share bits here as I work.)

So I got out my crewel case. I found tracing paper, fabrics, a couple of small books, two Judy Jeroy EGA group correspondence course books, and a pile of Appleton Crewel Wool Threads.

So I spent a couple of evenings this week playing with threads! I sorted through them and cataloged what I have on some lovely inventory pages by Needle Artworks, Inc. It may look like a lot of thread but I have just a fraction of the colors Appleton offers. It's still in a jumble in the case but at least now I know what's there.
My thread cards for Appleton came in handy to label threads missing their tags. This was a great investment. Besides I just love to open the box and see all the colors.And, in the process, I found another ufo. These were sample designs from one of the Judy Jeroy courses, to use to practice stitches. The reason this was set aside was that I wasn't thinking when I traced the designs. I should have planned better and spaced them out more so that I could use them for something when they were done. I'm not sure if I'll finish this one or not. Usually if I take the time to do practice pieces (I tend to just skip over that part and move on to the "real" piece), I make them up into something (nametag, ornament, boxtop).

I wonder if I could use the rest of the back of the fabric for something else--linen twill is expensive and I hate to waste a piece. I'll have to look at it this weekend and see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slow progress

I've made a little progress on the Camellia needlepoint since first posting it here. It's been slow going and the last time I worked, I ripped more than I stitched. I worked on the gold flowers on the left-hand side. The thread (the DMC gold on a spool) kept wearing and breaking. Then I realized the gold I had outlined the first camellia with was the wrong gold so I took it out and redid it, and the second camellia's outline, with the correct thread. I've also done a few of the many leaves. Next step--more leaves.
I'm also still slowly working on the Long and Short Stitch sampler from Needle&Thread. This isn't a matter of ripping, just a matter of time and energy.
So, of course, I began a new project. I've had the kit for these pears for a while now. Last week I needed a easy "sit in the doctor's office" project so I pulled this out. So far I've traced the pattern pieces and embroidery designs onto the fabric and I'm in the process of basting the pretty fabric to a muslin backing (the needed mindless project). The embroidery itself should be pretty mindless, too, and then I can put it together with the newly repaired sewing machine. I have absolutely no idea what I'll do with them when they're done, but they'll be fun to do and good to have out of my stash pile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indiana State Day Success!

Last Saturday's Indiana State Day, hosted by our chapter, Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana was a big success. Sue and Mel Rock! I got the pleasure of basking in reflected glory--I had very little part in all of it. I did have great fun on the day. I got reacquainted with loads of friends!

As part of the process, our chapter produced a really nice cookbook. I didn't think it was a great idea at first, but it seems to be turning out to be very good. Chapter members baked goodies from the book for breakfast and dessert and a lot of cookbooks sold based on the taste-testing done at the event. (Above, selling cookbooks.) The displays were amazing. I took this shot of our display table before we had to condense it way down so that all of the things our visitors brought could be displayed, too. We began with, I think, four eight-foot tables and ended up with at least six plus a huge round. It was awesome! The variety was really great to see and everyone spent a lot of time browsing. It also instigated conversations as people discussed how this or that might have been done, what this or that was meant to be, and who did that? I want to do it, too.
Here's our designer/teacher taking a bit of a break (I think it was just after lunch). She designed the amulet bag, the box top and wrote the instructions. She also provided a lot of advice as we tested the project and instructions.
My gift was this cool spookly scissors fob (that's a cats head at the bottom)--everyone got one! (sorry, I don't remember who made them to thank them here.) The organizers thought of everything--from amazing, huge door-prize baskets for everyone (yep, each person who took the class got a lovely door prize!), a wonderful boutique by House of Stitches, lovely centerpieces (if you had a spider at the end of your scissors fob, you got to take one home--they were flowers and variety threads).

Each stitcher got a large decorated bag with the supplies to make both the box top (what we worked on Saturday) and the amulet bag. The perle cotton balls were held in a charming card and ribbon holder so they wouldn't roll away and escape. There were M&Ms for energy, a cool round folded orts "box," and booklets, threads and loads of other fun goodies. I'm on the left with the other class angels who went around to try and help stitchers who got stuck with some aspect of the project. All of us had stitched the amulet bag and box top (I think we're all wearing our amulets--each one is different). It also meant we got to go around and visit all our friends. I was very happy to see a good friend that I'd been missing lately.

If you had the chance and missed it, you missed a really good one. (Only about half of our chapter members participated--just think what we could have done if everyone had joined in!)

Okay, then, to top it all off, instead of going home I drove a bit and had dinner with more stitching friends! I met a group from Wisconsin, let by Terry, for a nice dinner and a bit of show-n-tell. They'd come down to Geneva/St.Charles shop and had visited needlework, knitting, bead and gift shops during the day on Saturday. It was nice to meet everyone, some I'd met before and some new friends. (my jaw ached on the way home--I talked waaayyyy too much and smiled an awful lot, too!)

Sunday we drove back up that way, this time with hubby, to do some shopping of our own and to visit my sister. It was a really fun weekend and I feel full up with happiness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I remember when they planted it--this little maple twig--right across the street from our house. From year one, when it was just a stick really, it has produced the most glorious fall color.It was a little teeny tree with only a few leaves--but they were great big huge brilliant leaves come fall.

Now it's much larger and each year just as glorious. These pictures do not do it justice. Each leaf has a multitude of colors and shade from lime to scarlet.
It's one reason why I love Autumn so much.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Party Time!

I haven't been doing much stitching (a lot of ripping this weekend but little progress--I'm working on that black canvas fan design). But I have had some fun.

Last night at the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild we celebrated the group's 30th anniversary and honored our founder. The guild grew out of Hardanger classes held at the Scandinavian Boutique in Homewood. Aina was the owner of the boutique and the teacher of many of us. (The photo above is Aina and her daughter, Anna Marie; below is Linda acting as hostess--cake and punch!)Below are some of the smaller pieces Aina and some of our members brought. In addition to learning Hardanger, Brazilian Embroidery, long-armed cross stitch and loads of other things (like Naversom, which I did on my own but with a book and materials from the Boutique), I also learned perseverance, how to "pfiffle" (figure out a way to fix mistakes or make it right), and a life-long love of household linens.
Aina took each class to her home and, let me tell you, she had Martha Stewart whupped in the linens department. This was probably 1980. She had large closets with padded rods and linens wrapped around them and tied with ribbons. (my jaw dropped!) She spent the evening sharing those incredible embroideries with us, unrolling them carefully one at a time and telling it's story. I just realized that this was when I first realized each of these textiles has a story.

I grew up with hand embroidered doilies and dresser scarves, handmade quilts, hand-knit sweaters, and crocheted table cloths and bedspreads. My grandmothers and mother all created with needle and thread. By the time I took my first class, I had done most of these things myself. But the classes at the Boutique sparked my first true awareness of these things. Now I sat up and noticed what my mother was doing and what my grandmothers had done. I realized how important it is and dove in head first. I haven't come up yet!

It was nice to see her again (she's moved out of town) and to remember our good times. I think she was pleased that we asked her to join our party. Several founding members are still active in the group--I joined in maybe year three--and several others came by to visit. Good friends, good times...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Antique find and lovely butterflies

This is one of the two sweet needlethreaders Pat made for me. The other is exactly the same. It's tucked safely into the "pip." Pat said they are really easy and fun, but I'm not so sure. Crimps and I do not get along at all.
This past weekend we took advantage of a clear autumn day and went to a car show. It was fun to wander around the cars. Then we swung by one the few antique malls I'm aware of--there used to be dozens by us. This one is in Manteno, IL and I'm not sure of the name. I was carefully not seeing anything I wanted (car payment and all) but then I picked up this table cloth. I have never seen such exquisite drawn thread work. It's signed, too--extremely rare. If I remember right it's R.A. Tracy. It's a square table cloth, perhaps 40".
I was really torn but my sweetie said what we need to do is to limit ourselves to treasures--and this is definitely a treasure. There are other places we can cut--using the library more, not getting the odds and ends and bits we usually find. And that if I didn't get it for myself, then he'd get it for me. So we got it and I am very happy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I got several things finished this week! First was the Pansy Basket, which was nearly done last time I posted about it. It went together quickly. This Lorrie Birmingham design was a really fun project. I finished these two quickie bookmarks. The designs are from the Matrioshka Biscornu blog. I did them in a pale beige variegated floss. These are the bookmarks I edged on my sewing machine last weekend. Everyone at our meeting about teaching kids at the YMCA looked at this brown fabric and thought "ugly" so I was determined to do something nice with it. We're hoping to generate interest for a kid's class at our local YMCA, to be taught by our EGA chapter members. So far it's been slow going, but if we ever get interested kids, we have a plan.Last night I taught a class in this spiral weave beading. Spiral weave is a wonderful technique that's really adaptable--do it in size 6 beads, as we are in the class, and it's a quick bracelet. The spiral I stitched this weekend is a bit more dramatic. It's size 8 beads with yellow drop beads showing off the spiral. I stitched it in a few hours.I tried to get a photo of the clasp attachment, but it wasn't too clear. I tried something new to me called "French wire" for attaching the clasps. It's a piece of bullion (like for gold work embroidery) only you use it to cushion the thread from the metal of the clasp, making for a stronger join. You bead up to the clasp, string on the flexible French wire (like a bugle bead), and then go through the clasp and back into your beading and end off. The French wire bends and curves with your thread and makes a really clean and neat attachment. I got the kit for this thimble "pip" at the 2007 EGA National in Chicago. When you squeeze the ends of the pip, one side opens and you can store small things inside. This set, which includes an emery and pin wheel, is based on an historical model. The fabric is red velvet. The original used satin ribbons but I had the gold handy. I put a little thimble and folding scissors inside the pip. Last night at our EGA chapter meeting, Pat gave me a lovely gift of a butterfly needle threader. I added that to my pip and will take a photo when I get a chance. It's just lovely and adds a lot to the set. Thanks!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's back and working!

Right before we left on vacation, my husband picked up my repaired Viking 6460 sewing machine. I hadn't had a chance to get it out and use it until this weekend. It felt so very good! It seems to be working just fine and I'm very happy. The people at Northwest Indiana Sewing Center did a great job.

I wrote previously about getting it out last November to discover it would only sew backwards and about how my first attempt at repair early last year was a no-go. They said it was too expensive to make what would likely be an unreliable fix. So I did some new machine shopping, and, boy, are they tempting! But, still, I love my machine so I gave repair another go and NISC had no problems with it. They weren't cheap, but I'm happy to have my machine up and running. I'd completed the stitching on this crazy quilted stocking a while back. The finishing was my first project with the new machine. It went well. I also edged some aida cloth bookmarks with satin stitch--with metallic fiber in the bobbin. I thought that would be a good test and the materials were handy. I got out some fabrics and thick fusible interfacing and hope to make some fabric postcards as my next project. Then I need to dig out all those projects that were set aside or put away because they were machine based. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Diana Gabaldon Book Signing

Wednesday night I went to a book signing by Diana Gabaldon for her new book, An Echo in the Bone. I got my copy last week but am rereading the previous book in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, before starting on this one. (I have a horrible memory, which can be good--I can reread books over and over with great pleasure.)

First, I have to say that Diana has fortitude. This was her second talk of the day and you wouldn't have known it. Over 200 people attended, most with more than one book to sign, and she happily signed them all and smiled for pictures. I am in awe.

She's signing my book above (I was #155). I didn't bring my camera but a lovely gentleman who was in line in front of me, John Bychowski, kindly offered to take my photo with Diana. Both pictures in today's post were sent to me by John. Thanks, John, I really appreciate it!

The evening began with Scottish dancing. A live piper provided the music as we were guided through some of the traditions and styles of this type of dance. Originally done all by men, now it's 98% women (however, the world champion is male). It was a fun beginning to the evening.

Then Anderson's Bookshop introduced Diana. She immediately had the audience enthralled. She speaks quickly, with an almost raspy voice (although that could be the endless book tour she's on). She talks like she writes, with digressions, interludes and lots of detail.

Diana spoke about how she came to write her first novel, Outlander, and to get it published. I'd read some of the story at some point over the years, but she provided some more detail (those interludes and digressions I'm so fond of).

More than a feast for my ears, though, it was a feast for my eyes--textiles! Diana was swathed in layers of gorgeous cloth. I'm not sure if it was that she was freezing (she's from the southwest desert) or if it was fashion, but she really pulled off a very together gypsy look. The bottom layer was black, I saw a small, narrow black ruffle peeping out at the bottom. Then there were shawls and wraps in rich, glorious colors and touch-me textures (iridescent silk, metallic fabrics, overdyed panne velvet, layered with other silks, velvets, wide ribbons and a bit of black lace). I was mesmerized.

After her talk, she read a short (rather racy) excerpt from the new book, selected so it didn't contain any spoilers. A moment between Jamie and Claire. sigh...

She ended by asking for questions from the audience. Most of the questions were interesting. A couple cited previous talks they'd been to and wanted her to repeat what she said then. A teensy bit of frustration seemed to seep through there--I'm not sure if it was because she'd worked to come up with something new to say to the group (she's had similar events sponsored by this bookshop when previous books were published) or if she didn't remember all that much about what she'd said ten years ago. But she answered them all thoughtfully and thoroughly.

Anderson's Bookshop really has their act together with book signings. They had a microphone that was passed around to make it easy for everyone to hear the questions. They also have the process of doing a huge book signing efficiently and smoothly down to a science (they should, they have at least one most nights!). They had large piles of all of Diana's books there, ready to be purchased. They had post-its to premark the proper page with your choice of inscription. And plenty of staff on hand to help, guide or answer questions.

Still, there was a long period (over an hour for me) where we waited for our number group to be called. I really kick myself that I didn't bring my knitting. I made some notes for a new project, browsed through the new book, reading random excerpts, listened to the conversations around me. It was rather peaceful and relaxing, but it would have been better with knitting.

It was a lovely evening that I'll remember for a long time.

new car

This is kind of old news but we got this flier in the mail and the pictures were very much like our new car so I though I'd share. The scan isn't the greatest, sorry. My car is dark metallic brown (mocha bronze metallic, to be exact) not black, but other than that, this is it. The dash looks the same, with the wood grain. The seats are the same tan leather. In the shot of the back seat, see that little pull-down armrest in the middle? When pulled down it forms a perfect niche for Dolly to sit in. In the photo next to it, with the rear seats folded up, you can (just barely) see the hooks on the bottom of the seat to hold grocery bags.

My dealership is one of those shut down by GM, so I'm still quite annoyed with them. Every time I get a letter exhorting me to do this or that at my dealership, I think, yeah, and what do I do after next month? (they're closing October 31st). We bought the car knowing this, however, and my husband's a good mechanic with long ties to many area GM dealers, so we'll be fine. But I'm still crabby about it (maybe it's the season, but I've been crabby about a lot of things lately).

I'm happy, though, that we're still pleased with the car and still feeling that new car excitement. It was great on vacation and the good mileage was very nice (especially now that the vacation bills are rolling in!). My older car is feeling the competition, too--it's mileage has been better than usual recently (or that could just be the work my hubby just did on it, but I'm not so sure).