Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful for Embroidery

I had cause to be very thankful for embroidery over the holiday weekend. I woke up Friday morning with a recurrence of vertigo from a few years back (this time is BPPV, I've had run ins with various types of vertigo).  When I have it, I need to be still. Not move my head much at all. And be upright. Perfect for my favorite hobby.
I'd been working along when I could on the Tanya Berlin Needlepainted Robin. I made good progress this past weekend. I've completed the wing feathers and the spray of blossoms and leaves below the bird. The other leaves are nearly done. It is a bit odd to work this along side the Japanese work--in Japanese embroidery you work front to back, in needlepainting you work back to front.
Long weekends area also a time when I haul out my Japanese embroidery frame and work on that. All I worked on this weekend was the gold couching at the end of the fan. I had a time of it! Controlling the metallic gold and the seeing golden couching threads amongst all of the reflections was difficult. I usually work in the morning but on Sunday I hadn't been feeling well, so I worked later in the day. I could see so much better with the sun at a different angle! 

 It doesn't look like I did much at all but I worked about five hours total over the weekend and completed three additional rounds of couching. It's pretty intense so I only work about an hour and a half at a time. 

This week I doctored. I saw a doctor for the vertigo, had a root canal (which went as perfectly as something like that can go--I love my dentist!) and saw a therapist to begin to help alleviate the dizziness. I feel better already this afternoon. The therapy will hopefully continue next week (after we sort some insurance issues). 

The cherry on top? Today we received notice that we all get off both Christmas eve and New Year's eve as holidays, in addition to the days themselves as a special gift. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving at the Zoo

We spent Thanksgiving at the zoo--something we did when we were a young married couple. We'd go with friends and then head home to our separate family celebrations or make our own, but we haven't done it for a while. The weather was perfect.
Brookfield Zoo is always crowded on Thanksgiving (Thursday is their free day). We were there midday so many of the animals were napping. The giraffes were elegant.
The bear playing in his sand pit.
We visited the new bear and wolf habitats and had fun looking at some of the hundreds of decorated trees that lined the walkways.
Here's hubby being silly with the Zoo's decked-out lions. 

I hope your holiday was as much fun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Like many Americans, this is my favorite holiday, with a focus on family and recognizing the people and things in our lives that we are thankful for. 
Being thankful, of course, shouldn't be relegated to one day, and I think for most folks it isn't. But it's nice to really focus on it and not just alone but shared. 

A few years ago my Uncle Tom took me to visit Thanks Giving Square in Dallas. It was an amazing place. Check it out here. Definitely moves it out of the one-day-a-year category.

With that in mind, thank you all very much for taking the time to read my mumblings and look at my random pix. I appreciate it. 

I realized a week or so ago that I was dealing with depression. It kind of crept up on me this time and it's taking me a while to dig out. I'm still not stitching (very unusual). I think the focus on TV (no matter how good Montalbano is), was a mask for my mood. Things are looking brighter. Once I begin stitching again, I'll have things to show again.

I was helped some by getting out and about on Sunday. Hubby and I met my sister and her hubby and did fun things. First we visited Settler's Days at Sand Ridge Nature Center in Calumet City.
It was a mostly sunny and warm-for-November day. Above is an overview picture of various reenactors in costume and blue-jeaned visitors. Below is my hubby and his cousin Paul, a Master Gardner who volunteers at Sand Ridge. Paul's holding the husks of an empty cob of corn--he was demonstrating how to grind corn in a mortar and pestle. (harder than you'd think!)
Settler's Day covers a variety of periods and peoples (including a Native American woman who opens the day each year with a blessing). Generally one of the inside displays is a group of bobbin lace makers. (They were there this year, but had stepped out when I visited; their work was covered so I didn't get any pix.) There are soldiers of various era, a team of huskies with a very cute cart, candle makers, a blacksmith, a woman explaining about herbs and life in general when the area was settled. The brave could take a "wagon train" walk and test their wilderness skills.

After Sand Ridge we visited a collection of motorcycles with the Frankfort Car Club. The owner had two buildings of displays, motor cycles old and new (one with a store front display inspired by the Museum of Science and Industry's long time display, Yesterday's Main Street), with a good complement of motorized and pedal-power bicycles and memorabilia such as old gas pumps, too. Most anything on two (sometimes three) wheels.
This picture was taken in his "work bay" off one of the display rooms. There's space here to have five or six motorcycles in various stages of repair/restoration. It was very interesting. Mostly, though, it was a nice day to be outside and with family and friends. 

I wish everyone a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Very Quiet

I've had a second week of very little stitching. I was running around a bit (Needle Artisan's EGA chapter meeting, for one).  I was really tired last weekend and just vegged out.  I think I was recuperating from vacation, low key as it was.  And I've been watching TV.  We've gotten hooked on some European mysteries at MHZ Network. And they all have subtitles, so I'm actually watching the TV much more of the time. (it may be on but I rarely look at the screen--I'm watching my hands.)
This week it's been Detective Montalbano every night. Last week it was Young Montalbano (really good, especially if you've watched the other). Before that it was Fog and Crimes with Detective Sonari. We've watched one or two of the shows (plus Maigret), but they've been running "best of" specials for the last few weeks and I realized last night that I've been actually watching the TV far too much.  I'll be back once this is out of my system.  (Or I learn enough Italian to just listen...I do better with the French of Maigret.)

I did finsh the knit tea cozy: I'll be showing that after the holidays. I'm pleased with it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vacation stitching

Yes, vacation's over and I haven't picked up a needle in the evenings this week. I did get in two hours yesterday morning at our monthly Japanese Embroidery meeting. That was lovely.  Here's a photo of my fan taken last weekend...I forgot to bring my camera yesterday.
Progress is slow and it's hard to see any changes from photos taken a month ago, but I have done some work on both of the end fan ribs. I did more on the tie-die pattern blade yesterday (left end).
I also worked a lot on my sunflower design. The brown circle is rather sloppy basketweave stitched with floss...It's going to be covered with beads and perhaps some turkey work so I wasn't particular about it. I just needed it in so I'd know where to put the petals.
I completed transferring the design for my blue wool crewel project to the wool.
This is the (messy) back with the iron on transfer of the design.
And I got the wool colors I needed from Wooly Thread. They're in the bag with wools from my stash, ready to go.
After several years in a pillow case, I got out the needlepainted Robin by Tanja Berlin that I began at the EGA national seminar in 2007. I remounted it on the awesome adjustable Evertite stretcher bars that I won from Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread blog last January and continued stitching the feathers and filling in the branch and leaves. I've stitched and ripped the blossoms a few times already, so I'm wary of them now.

I returned to Japanese embroidery after taking this class and I'm finding it interesting to see how the two techniques inform each other. Both require the fabric to be held drum taut. Both work best with two-handed stitching, with the needle going in and out of the fabric at a 90 degree angle (perpendicular to the fabric, not at an slant). And both require thoughtful, precise stitch placement. Both have very careful color selections, especially when working toward a naturalistic effect.  So mostly they reinforce one another. 

 I find that after working with flat silk, one strand of floss is very easy to use. Tanja's instructions are detailed and precise, almost stitch-by-number. The Japanese Embroidery box chart lacks that detail--and left me lost as a beginner.  Tanja's instructions are ideal for a beginner to the technique. I'm following her instructions carefully, learning how and why it works and figuring out why she made the choices she did. For Japanese embroidery, I've been combining personal instruction with my teacher, Karen Plater, and also several books and am gradually seeing the logic and design of it.