Friday, May 29, 2009

back to the real world---thud

On the last day of our trip (almost a week ago, already!), we stopped by Kent State University Museum. I'd heard about this textile treasure trove--the museum is based on costume and clothing collections--but never had a chance to get there before. It was well worth the trip and if you have a chance, stop for a visit. The museum is small--we were quite happy with the two hours we spent there and saw every exhibit (but not all in depth).

We went to see The Art of the Embroiderer. It was a stunning exhibit of embroidered clothing, that was rounded out with a video by the EGA. The clothing was from the 17th century to the 21st century and covered, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, South America, and Asia. I think there was one Native North American piece. The range of techniques was amazing but also I found the similarities of embroideries from disparate regions intriguing.

Our viewing of the video, which is in an adjacent room, was interrupted by a tour going through the exhibit. They had apparently never had it drummed into them that one must only whisper in a museum.

The tour also had some benefits for us, though, because we learned from the docent's comments.

They have a lovely gift shop where I got the book Court and Conquest,about the development of the costumes for an opera. I haven't taken much time with it yet. I got a tiny book, too, The Little Bodice Book. I forgot to get a photo of mine, the link is to Amazon. It's a lovely little book and even if I never make myself a fitted bodice (the book is aimed at theater costumers), I learned quite a bit from reading it.

I also found some lacy notecards. I'm a sucker for stationery and I don't often write letters now that I rely on e-mail. But I do keep buying stationery. My mother did, too (she used hers).

Finding new books is one of vacationing's pleasures. I found two treasures, Making Things and Kaaterskill Falls, at a bookshop in the Catskills. I didn't note the town or shop, sadly. We had stopped for a bathroom and break from driving--those mountain roads are tiring to drive.

Making Things is an illustrated diary and I thought it might be a nice place to note what I'm working on each day. The images are mostly of felt embroideries--right up my alley.

Kaaterskill Falls is a novel about the community near the falls--both the year-round folks and those that come down from New York City for the summers. I've just begun reading it.

After I got home, I finished up my car knitting--I added crochet borders to the mitered washcloths. The edgings are done in naturally colored cottons.

I needed to make a pit stop on the very last leg home so decided the nearest restroom was in Jo-Ann's Fabrics (fancy that). And since I had a couple of about-to-expire coupons, I used them to get Pretty Little Felts. The designs are sweet and aren't all entirely felt--they're felt with fabric and paper and other fibers. So they're all quite different and not too alike.

The little book on the cover has a metal-mesh cover with buttons sewn on and felt pages. I've enjoyed browsing it's pages.

I spent most of Sunday sleeping. I was exhausted. Monday was a holiday so I could catch up a bit. I worked on my Indiana State Day Hardanger project for my EGA chapter. All that's left to do is the back, and I've begun that, and the cutting and needleweaving on the front flap.

My first day back at work was a breeze, because I'd kept caught up while gone. And then we were slammed with some really tight fiscal-year-end deadlines that have had me scrambling and rather panicked. I have the stuff that must be done, done. But, PHEW! I'm glad it's Friday!

And that's why I haven't blogged this week or stitched much or written anyone. When I haven't been sorting faculty receipts, trying to make sense of travel receipts, nagging faculty for receipts, making sure all the "i"s are dotted and "t"s crossed, and inputting it all into a rather horrendous form (that kept bouncing me off in the middle of typing), I've been kind of just staring numbly into space, not good for much of anything.

Next week will be daunting--with all of the things I've been putting off this week. But anything will be better than the last few days!

I'm going to eat dinner now and crash.

Friday, May 22, 2009


On Thursday, I had a strong need to get up into those mountains that were on our doorstep. First, of course, in true Hudson style, we had to go for Breakfast. We returned to Le Gamine for another delightful meal (their omelets are the best!). I took a photo of the bench chairs there. I just love the fabric. If you're ever in Hudson, NY, this is a place to try.

After stoking up we headed out to the Catskills. We were aiming to head toward Kaaterskill Falls, but I picked the wrong direction and we headed northwest rather than southwest from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. So we decided to take a ring tour around the mountains, about a 70 mile trip. (Or it would have been, except I missed a junction and we had a nice tour of some interesting mountain villages before we realized we were heading wrong and backtracked to the right road. In the mountains, most roads go east and west, very few cross north and south.)

I took the panorama at the top from a lookout. We thought it was Five State Lookout but it may not have been. We passed a restaurant shortly after the lookout and later on we were told that was the real Five State Lookout. It was still very lovely; the photographs don't capture it at all.

We circled around on the winding mountain roads, with a few stops for views and photos. Our goal was Kaaterskill Falls, much beloved by the Hudson Valley School of artists. We thought we got there. We found the parking lot, made our way carefully at the edge of the road, with cars whizzing by around the curves, to a lovely little falls. Not spectacular but really nice.

There was a very steep, rocky path that looked like it went to the top of the falls we could see. We decided that there was no way we'd make it up that path. So we left, satisfied we'd seen Kaaterskill Falls.

As I was writing this, I looked it up to check the spelling and found this. We probably should have looked this up beforehand. Turns out we saw a prelude to Kaaterskill Falls--Bastion Falls. Oh, well, maybe I'll be up for the hike next trip.

We were happy with our excursion and headed back to Hudson to rest (the drive was only 70 miles but it was an intense 70 miles and I was exhausted from doing all of the driving).

Back at Susan's I found another fiber to photograph. I took a sample of this one--I can't wait to try it. Gala is a metallic fiber, similar to Jap gold, but sturdier. I plan to stitch with it, in addition to couching it. Ideas are simmering.

As much as I stitch on a normal basis, I find it hard to stitch when I'm away from home. I brought a simple project, but haven't touched it. I find this really odd, but it's been that way for many years. This vacation has been, in many ways, all about embroidery, just not doing it. At least not yet.

We had another wonderful dinner at Vico's (with more of their amazing fries and another "Carlo" dessert).

We left for home this morning (Friday) and headed south. If you ever want a pleasant drive, take I-80 across Pennsylvania. The road was in very nice shape and the views along the way, just spectacular. The entire drive is through the Appalachian Mountains. We drove south from Hudson to pick up I-80 and then all of the way across Pennsylvania into Ohio. It was a long day, but I think we kept going just because of the amazing views.

I was passenger today, so I really got to look. Sadly, no photos--at 65 mph with no pulloffs, I wasn't going to try.

In between oohhing and ahhing (lot of that going on this week), I finished a wash cloth and knit a second. I think I may add a white lace edging. Both were knit twice. I couldn't find the pattern on the trip out (I'd printed it on the back of something else), and I remembered it, mostly. I knit a very wonky almost teardrop shaped washcloth and decided, okay, something's wrong here. I tried again and it was better but still not right. (I forgot you need to knit a row plain between increase rows.) I ripped more than I stitched but it kept me busy while riding in the car.

In spite of the minor bumps, this has been a wonderful trip.

It's not quite over yet. Tomorrow we head to the Kent State University Museum to see "The Art of the Embroiderer" show. We may never go home!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quieter day in Hudson--some needlework content

We had a late night on Tuesday and got a late start on Wednesday. We lunched again at Cascades and then went back to Susan's house to just visit and explore. She's getting her studio set up and I grabbed a couple of random snaps of some bead shelves and a row of samplers.

I found these skeins of LaLame and had to take a photo. This is an truly vintage thread and it is no longer made (in fact, the equipment that made it has been destroyed). It's stiffer and more metallic looking than Kreinik metallics. Susan purchased the last remaining stock from the manufacturer and is selling it in twisted hanks. She has a number of fibers that she finds or creates and sells.

I love to visit and look at all the goodies. The problem is, I want to take it all home with me! It's a great place for ideas--her studio will be a really inspirational place for stitchers.

We perused her book collection, pawed through drawers of ribbons and oohhed and ahhed antique samplers, linens, and other textile items in her collection.

Once her studio is unpacked and open, it will be amazing.

This last is a photo of the place where I purchased my lovely tote and socks on Monday. We went back by it today so I could grab a picture of Count Turkoffsky's Department Store!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Olana and Frederic Church

Yesterday we had perfect weather. Sunny and not too hot. We drove up a very large nearby hill to tour Olana. Olana was the home of Frederic Church, a well-known Hudson River School painter. He became famous early on and designed this home after a world tour with his family. Many of the influences of the first sections of the home were Persian--and very Victorian-era. There are stencils, an Arabic room arrangement, and many artifacts from their travels. Incredible paintings are everywhere, not only by Mr. Church but also by his teacher, Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School (as in style, not an actual school--Mr. Church was his only student).

Other sections of the house have a more Mexican influence, again from more travels. Some of the changes are subtle, and the house flows together quite nicely. Mr. Church had a large studio with windows overlooking the river. Every room was full of artifacts and souvenirs from their travel, and the walls were covered with paintings.

Above is the view of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the porch of the house. The house was designed with "views" from every window or porch. Mr. Church designed the landscaping, formerly farm fields, and planted hundreds of trees in arrangements to frame the best views.

It's a little different now (the bridge wasn't there when the house was built) and the trees have grown up quite a bit. But it's still incredible.

There are also views of the house from different points. I took the photo of the house from one such point.

The grounds are open to visitors for free and there were people strolling and painting. I heard it's often used for picnics.

I really liked the detailing of the stencils, colors used in painting (no dull beiges here!) and the brick and stone work. The colors are rich and deep.

The Foundation was able to obtain the home intact from the family so that the furnishings and paintings are as they were during the artist's life. It was like stepping into history (on the visitor carpet only, please!).

After our strolls around the grounds and our tour of the home, we took a drive to nearby Rhinebeck. It's lovely, hilly country perfect for driving (and biking, from the number of bicyclists we saw).

Then we came back to Hudson and dinner at Wasabi. We chowed down on Japanese appetisers and sushi. It was really good. Here's a photo of their bottle covered ceiling.

Following dinner, we had dessert at DaBa--nouvelle molecular cuisine. I had a medley of four chocolate desserts, things like chocolate gel and white chocolate foam. I've never had anything like it and the flavors were amazing.

We were also given a spoonful of absolutely the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had.

We rolled back to the motel thoroughly sated!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vacation Post 1

It was a long drive to New York from Chicago, but we made it Sunday evening. We had a lovely dinner at Vico and then rolled into bed. (Dinner included the most amazing French fries ever!)

The closer we got to NY, the more we got into wooded, mountainy terrain. Just lovely. We're not near the Hudson River. The view at the top was on a windy road up a mountain. Late today we drove up to Olana to see where it was. The light in the center is the Hudson River, with mountains beyond.

Here's Marge with Ann's car, outside of our motel this morning. Thank you very much, Ann, for the use of this wonderful car--it's doing great in the hills that we've been climbing!

Just below is a photo of some irises from outside of the hotel. Plants are a few weeks ahead of Chicago here, so lots of things are blooming and very pretty. It's also been very chilly here--nearly cold!

Today we took a long, leisurely stroll up Warren Street in Hudson, stopping here and there. We met a lot of very friendly people and saw some very interesting things.

There are tons of lovely old buildings here with great architectural details.

The next couple of photos are Susan's home--her door and front of her house. I could easily do a photo study of the doors of Hudson--there are some fantastic doors--and the grillwork. There is a lot of great ironwork on the homes. Roofs, too, there is some creative shingling on the roofs here.

Susan's home is amazing, full of wonderful details. She has great plans for it.

On our stroll we had lunch, great salads, at Cascades. Once fortified, we continued up the street.

We passed this incredible garden center (sadly closed) and visited a shop, whose name I cannot remember and I left the bag in the car so I can't check right now...but it was full of wonderful stuff (near the post office, just off of Warren St.). Great hats, western shirts and bags and socks--the ones I bought are shown below.

Along the way we found a lovely quilt shop (again, the name is in the car). I got some Flower Fairies fabric there, but I didn't get a photo of it--my camera battery was low.

We went back to Vico for dessert (a HUGE Napoleon and a chocolate volcano cake) and a rest. Then we took a drive, where I shot the opening photo and some others like the one below.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A bit of headway

I finally got some more stitching done--that I don't plan to rip out--on the quilt sampler piece. I still have been ripping about as much as stitching!

The upper left-hand corner is done and I've settled on what to do with the center. The rest of the stitching will be done in the yellow as a background to the flower. I think it will add brightness to the center. I have some ideas for the lower right-hand corner, too.

Now I'm looking at the designs and wondering if I should backstitch them. I think it would change them a lot--I'm not sure whether it would improve them, though. I think I'll begin by backstitching around the outside of each square, perhaps in a dark brown, and then see what I think.

Thanks to Jane of World Embroideries, I have a finished project to show. She taught biscornu finishing at our guild meeting on Monday and that spurred me to dig out a pieced biscornu I'd begun but never completed. It's done now and I even found a painted glass button that matched perfectly. (The other side has a very nice orange-yellow Bakelite or early plastic button--a photo is on Flickr.) I really love these bright fabrics. (Moda)

Also at the meeting on Monday, we were given our summer challenge project. This year it is to create a geometric design to fit into the 6" square trivet we were given. I really enjoy these summer challenges which have varied from "stitch what makes you happy" to "finish up UFOs." Last year we were given a chart that had no key--the color choice was up to us.

I came home and got out the graph paper and began jotting notes. Looking at it later, I noticed that most everything I noted was based on what I'd been doing most recently--Sashiko (the quilt show t-shirt), pulled thread (the Hardanger project), quilt pattern (mom's sampler).

My first thought was cut paper designs. I know that particular concept came from Sharon B's class on studio workbooks. I envision some sort of 1950s squarish Os in various sizes. I didn't have any colored paper handy so that idea hasn't been recorded yet.

What would you do?

I'm getting ready to go on a holiday. A friend and I are going to drive to upper New York State to visit another very good friend, Susan, that I've missed terribly since she moved east. Road Trip! I can't wait...

I hope to post while I'm gone--probably with very little needlework content, but hopefully with some nice landscape and nature photos and perhaps photos of some of the great food I'm looking forward to!

Monday, May 11, 2009

one step forward...

and two steps back...

Knowing that this was full-moon weekend and the beginning of a long Mercury Retrograde period, I should have known that this would be a difficult weekend. I felt like I was at war all weekend. The first battle was against the ants.

They invaded about a week ago and no matter what we did or cleaned, we could not discourage the little beasties. This weekend I took absolutely everything off the kitchen counter, scrubbed all of it, wiped down the counter with ammonia, and put (most but not all) of it back. I reorganized for better use of space.

And I moved my mom's orange-juice squeezer off the counter and into a cabinet--after I polished it up a bit. We don't use it often enough for it to sit out all of the time. We had kept it out simply because we enjoyed looking at it, so space aged in it's 1950's glory. But for now, it will reside in a top cabinet where I squeezed out some space.

The cleaning actually escalated the ant wars. With their main territory rendered inhospitable, they took off to explore the rest of the kitchen. They finally found a jar of applesauce in the back of a cabinet with some sauce on the outside. Yum! Once we found that and washed the ants down the drain and then vacuumed up most of the rest of them and cleaned the cabinet, I didn't see many at all this morning. Detente.

Our weather was very changeable so I was battling sinus congestion and headaches.
The fight extended to my stitching this weekend. I did more ripping than stitching. I had gotten off track with my finishing-projects goals and I needed to get back to it. First I picked up my EGA Indiana State Day model project.

(There's a close-up on my Flickr page, and also another view of my oh-so-clean kitchen counter.)

It's a lovely Hardanger project designed by Jamee Jecmen for an amulet pouch. This is the front flap and the start of the back. I have not done the cut section in the middle yet, but otherwise the front is complete.

I have lost my ability to count. I have lost my rhythm for counted work. Off and on this weekend, I felt like I'd lost my mind! I've been doing Hardanger for, oh, thirty years. I used larger linen than the original design (24 count). And still I couldn't count a row of simple buttonhole! I ripped as much as I stitched.

Even the double back stitch, which I know, well, backwards and forwards. When you get the rhythm, it's like zipping a zipper. And each time I turned the corner on the octagon, I lost the rhythm and spent ages trying to get it back, stitching and ripping.

I kept putting the embroidery down to battle ants so I'm going to blame it on the ammonia. My aging eyes and brain cells have nothing at all to do with it (that's my story and I'm sticking with it!).

I did finally bully my way through it and get the front stitched (no way was I going to approach the piece with scissors on a day like Saturday).

I decided that on Sunday I'd go easier on myself and picked up the cross stitch quilt design my mom had begun. I've talked some about it before. My sister, sister-in-law and I matched colors to already stitched areas and added a couple (that I haven't used yet and may not).

I got two squares done after some ripping and new color choices. But they're done. The upper left design is coming along. I have colors selected for some of the open areas and I kind of have a plan for the rest.

I began working on the center piece, but that orange next to the green, it's going to have to come out. I like the way it perks things up but it's just too much--it takes away from the flower.

I've hemmed and hawed over the last two (the center and lower right). This morning I drew the shapes of the already stitched areas on graph paper to experiment a bit and figure out what the rest of each square should be. One step forward and two steps back.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

finally, some stitching...

I haven't done much this last week, really. I did complete one boxed goody from the quilt show. I love the carrying box. But inside...

is the feast! This cake was really fun to make. The kit was very complete and the instructions in English, which helped (although the Japanese instruction sheet was very clear and I probably could have worked from the photos alone). It's made with an interesting combination of felt and cardboard, stitching and gluing (white glue). The cake is finished inside, too, which I thought was a nice touch.

The kit came with the felt and cardboard all precut to size and shape, wonderful for someone lazy like me. It even had batting. The only quibble I had was that I didn't like the quality of the embroidery floss, it seemed thin and rough, almost like linen thread. But it stitched fine and didn't tangle. There are more photos on my Flickr site.

Other projects this weekend included this felt bead necklace. I loosely followed instructions from the most recent (and last, sadly) issue of Fiber&Stitch. I had felt and novelty yarn handy and sat and whipped out the beads quickly. The necklace is strung on cotton yarn (from my Cooper's Flock birds) and that is probably temporary. On my weekend outing I got flatish crystal beads to add to the necklace. I wore it yesterday and it's like wearing nothing it's so light!

Last, a friend and I are hoping to start an ongoing project for our EGA chapter to teach children (and, hopefully, their mothers) embroidery at the local YMCA. I thought bookmarks would be a good beginning project and so I made up a couple of models to show at last night's chapter meeting. We also sent around a sign up sheet. I hope people were interested.

I did some "marketing research" with a preteen girl at the Y and she was interested. She's currently reading the Twilight series of books so I used motifs from the covers (apple and tulip) and the colors (red, black and white) for the felt bookmarks. The "I like you" balloons are from a learn to cross stitch handout I found online (and then lost--I have to hunt it up again).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May Giveaway

The May giveaway from my stash is the instructions and canvas from an Indiana State Day project from a few years ago. I had signed up to go and then at the last minute had to cancel. A friend picked up my kit for me but I've never gotten to it.

This is a canvas project and is an exercise in color. You pick a Watercolors you like and then pull the separate colors from it and then find the tints and shades for the colors. It's very interesting and fun to choose the colors.

I love playing with color and have worked with other color projects using Watercolors as a basis and they're a lot of fun to do. I'm just not feeling like doing needlepoint right now.

If you'd like to receive this project booklet and canvas, please leave a comment on this post. Please include your e-mail or a way to reach you. Everyone is welcome. I'll draw the winner on June 1st.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring weekend--no stitching content

What is it that makes a meal with friends so much fun? I got together Saturday with two good friends for our annual lunch and we had a great time. We didn't discuss anything earth shattering-I can't even tell you where the conversation ranged- mostly just a general catch-up about husbands, kids and pets, weddings and grandkids. We went to Taj in Chesterton for wonderful Indian food. I left feeling very happy. There is nothing better than friends.

Before meeting my friends for lunch, I snuck into Pat Winter's class at the Chesterton Art Center. It was a chance for me to drop off my "pieces of friendship" puzzle pieces and (mostly) a way for me to get to see more of Pat's lovely work in person. I envied the ladies in her class--she had a large group of lovely ribbons for them to select from and wonderful project kits. And a nice selection of her work on display for inspiration.

On the way home I swung by Bluestem Beads (also in Chesterton) and some of my favorite shops (Jo-Ann's, Catherine's clothing, and Borders). The weather was perfect and I drove down the highway with the windows down and the radio blasting an oldies station.

The latter was a bit of a mistake--some of those oldies have staying power and they stayed, rattling around in my head! It got rather annoying to have songs I never liked in the first place stuck in my head, playing over and over and over. Last night I put on the sound track to Chocolat to help and it did help me shake the oldies out--but then Steve got the movie theme music stuck in his head!

On Sunday the weather was still great and we went to Bailly by the dunes. At this time of year, we like to go every week if we can. The first picture here is a mass of Spring Beauties (out of focus--it was just windy enough). There were Spring Beauties blooming everywhere, now accompanied by purple violets and yellow violas, pink phlox and deep red trilliums. It made a lovely show.

The trout lilies, toothwort and bloodroot were already done blooming. The May apples are huge and have buds but no blooms yet. In the center of this green photo is a Jack-in-the-Pulpit (blurry, sorry, that breeze again. I punched up the color a bit to help make him more visible but couldn't fix the blur). They're hard to see but once our eyes picked out the three arrow-shaped leaves and the smoothness of the pulpit hood, then we began to see them everywhere. More this year than ever before, perhaps because of all of the rain.

The path became impassibly muddy (I hadn't thought of all the rain during the week and didn't wear appropriate shoes, duh!), so we didn't go the whole way to the homestead. We still saw plenty of lovely spring flowers.

The Jacks were the most amazing. We saw large ones and small, alone or in clumps (although they looked rather antisocial, and stood with their backs to each other when in groups).

This last photo is the only one I got that wasn't blurred. Steve spotted it, not me. It's a log in a stream with interesting leaves trapped underneath. The mud's settled in patterns and the leaves look like they're becoming skeletonized. I love the layers of shadow. It's the only photo I was happy with.

I did do some stitching in the evenings and when I get photos, I'll post them.