Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Finish!

Postcard for Paradise (Blue Ribbon Designs) is done! When I started this a year and a half ago, I thought it would be so easy to do three of the squares a day and knock this out in a month. Wrong! But it was a fun stitch--until I did the border all the way to the bottom right corner and realized it wouldn't meet. That's when I went back and found out I was supposed to be doing that herringbone stitch over three threads and not four. I wondered why I wasn't getting good coverage. . . Since I had done some of the top and some of the left side correctly, I decided to frog. It was a pain, but I like the result so much better. So this goes in my to-be-framed pile. I have a great framer, but I haven't given her much business this year. It seems I can't get myself motivated to prepare things to take in (you know, clipping threads on the back, doing a final check to be sure every stitch is crossed). I think I'll make it a New Year's resolution to get caught up on framing. This piece is intended for the bedroom we are making over into a guest room. So when it does eventually come back from the framers, perhaps it will spur me on to completing the decorating of the guest room. See what all those little Xs lead to?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trains, No Planes and Automobiles

Our empty nest is filling up once again as our three children arrive home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The first to arrive was our middle son whose Tuesday afternoon biology lab was cancelled, allowing him to snag a ride home with a fellow student. Our middle child usually comes home with a large bag of laundry and a shaggy mop of dark hair (just like my husband used to have before he went white. Thank goodness all my kids inherited his thick hair, and not the fine, thin, superstraight locks that are bane of my existence. But I digress.) Since he is such a creature of habit, he didn't disappoint on either the laundry or the shaggy front, but he has added a full beard to the mix. This may take some getting used to. It does make him look more mature, but please don't tell him I said that.
Our daughter arrived from DC on Amtrak about 15 minutes later than scheduled. Which was a good thing as I had crawled east on the Schuykill Expressway, (also known as the "Sure Kill" Expressway in our household, as in, "You can sure kill a lot of time on the expressway") and arrived at 30th Street Station just as my husband called to tell me the train was late. I guess I just had to experience what Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is like at a busy travel time or I would have had my daughter take a regional rail line out to our suburb. But she has never taken the train from school before and she's young and petite and was bringing a heavy bag full of the books she needs for the paper that she's writing over break and I took pity on her. Luckily, our timing was great and the parking gods were with me. I had snaked around the station in a long line of cars, getting increasingly anxious about what to do if I actually had to attempt to parallel park. Remember, I grew up in Nebraska and this Cornhusker does not have a parallel parking gene. But I found two metered spaces empty and could pull in--whew!--and thus spared myself from blaring horns and angry looks from other drivers. I was there for four minutes by the time I collected my daughter and returned to the car.
After six years of having to fly home from either Miami or Los Angeles, our oldest can now travel to us by train and that's how he'll arrive later tonight. He's probably traveling light, is more experienced and at 6'2" is not at all petite so one of us will be collecting him from the regional rail station.
With the nest much fuller, my husband and I will be re-living one of the aspects of early parenthood--sleep deprivation. It's already started. I turned out the lights around 11:30 last night and woke sometime after to the thud, thud, thud of my son's size 11s on the uncarpeted stairs. And woke again around 1:30 to the smoke alarm. My daughter was washing her hair and the steam set off our super-sensitive alarm. But it is soooo good to have them home. I'm off to work, but only for the morning as we have an early dismissal for students and staff. Then it will be time to relax, maybe take a nap and listen to my children's stories about their lives and just enjoy having them near. I'm wishing the same contentment to all of you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shop Hop Recap

Last weekend, I participated in a local Shop Hop for the first time. It was an event that I was greatly anticipating and my goal was to explore some new shops and do a bit of stash enhancement. I started out from work around 4:00 and pointed the car east to the first shop. It was one I had been to several times before and didn't expect to be wowed by the merchandise so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't find much there. I was a little discouraged at Shops 2 and 3 when I didn't see any "must have" fabrics in them either. I began to doubt my wisdom in embarking on the adventure especially since I was driving around at night in unfamiliar territory and had already gotten lost between both Shops 1 and 2 and Shops 2 and 3. But Shop 4 was a real gem since that's where I found these yummy Civil War fabrics that I'll use to make the blocks I collected at each establishment. I arrived at Shop 5, my LQS, about 10 minutes before closing. After a quick stop to pick up dinner, I headed home to do a little sewing before bed.

On Saturday morning, I got up early, worked on my daughter's quilt and then prepared for part 2 of the Shop Hop. All was going well until about half an hour into my drive to Shop 6, I realized that I hadn't brushed my teeth! Fortunately, I had some water and a mint with me, and I guess that worked since I didn't notice anyone backing away from me during the day! I hit the jackpot at Shop 6. That's where I found the pattern and most of the fabric for the quilt I made for my oldest last weekend. The shop happens to be close to the place where my sampler guild meets so I'm sure I'll be back there in the next month or two. The rest of the shops were all great (I had been to three of them before) and I managed to increase my stash with neutrals and some cute Christmas prints. (Those prints really are red!). You already know what happened when I got home on Saturday and it won't be a surpise to you that I went to work on Monday exhausted but satisfied from all the fondling of fabric.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You Know You're a Quilter

or maybe you just know you're crazy when go on a shop hop on Saturday morning and choose a pattern for a quilt, gather the fat quarters and fabric for border and background at one shop, purchase the backing at another, begin cutting immediately after completing another quilt and work on it until 11:00, get up at 6:30 and sew all day in your pajamas until 20 minutes before it's time to take said quilt to the LQS where you have an appointment with the longarm quilter so the quilt can be done in time to cover your oldest son on Christmas morning. I didn't stop to eat (and if you knew me in real life, you'd realize how obsessed I must have been) and only took time to brush my teeth, get dressed, comb my hair and put on a little mascara before heading to the shop. On the way there, I realized I had forgotten my camera so I don't even have a picture to show you until the quilt comes back to me. By the way, the other quilt I finished yesterday was for my daughter's Christmas present. Fortunately, the one for my middle son has been done for about a month or I would be totally insane by now.

Shop hop was fun but I'm exhausted! I'll have a full report and pictures for you tomorrow. Now I'm off to clean up the sewing area, clear the table for the next project and find places for my new stash.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


My readers of a certain age will remember the commercial that portrayed the long wait for (supposedly) rich, thick ketchup while the Carly Simon song "Anticipation" played.

Well, that's sort of how I've felt this week. I'm anticipating my first shop hop beginning tomorrow afternoon. This is something I've wanted to do since I began quilting a few years ago but it wasn't possible while our daughter was still a high school student. My husband is going away for a conference this weekend and my time will truly be my own for the next few days. I'm planning my route, printing maps, looking at patterns, making lists of things to look for and just generally looking forward to the whole experience. My lesson plans are done for next week so I'll be able to walk out the door at 3:45 and be on my way to the first shop. Oh, the anticipation!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Order Among the Chaos

As I've written several times before, my work life has been pretty crazy this fall. When I've had time to stitch, I've been drawn to projects are made up of lots of small squares, like Postcard from Paradise and Rainforest Crunch, a needlepoint design I found while stalk-stitching
Coni on her Spinster Stitcher blog. There's something so satisfying about completing each one of those little squares. Who knows, if this work situation continues, Nova* may come off the WIP pile and get finished.
*(No affliation with this shop, just a good picture of the design.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Aaah. . . That deep sigh you hear is my house thanking me for staying home and cleaning this weeked. Honestly, with all the traveling we did in October, things were getting a mite grimy around here. I spent nearly all of yesterday at home scrubbing, dusting and vacumming and now we can pass the health inspection. I was the lector at the early church service this morning and had to go back to help count the money after the late service (I find it highly amusing that I'm tapped to do anything remotely connected with math, but the chairman of the finance committee begged me). In between, I attacked the mountain of ironing that was on the back of the chair next to my sewing machine. Of course, I had an ulterior motive for doing so since it was geting difficult to actually sit on the chair to sew. Then my afternoon was free to work on the quilt I'm planning to give my daughter for Christmas. Made good progress on it and should have a finished top by the end of the week. I didn't do a lick of work for school this weekend and I feel relaxed and ready to face the work week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday Night UFO

A few years ago, my local needlepoint shop offered a "club" for a series of Faberge eggs. One a month for the entire year. Thought these would be a great decoration for the fireplace mantle in the living room. I made a start on January's and that's as far as I got. Until a group of us on a bulletin board I visit decided to work on a UFO every Thursday night. My job issues are starting to ease up and I can finally sit down to sew at night a few times a week. Plus Big Bang Theory is on at 8 and since it's one of the very few shows I watch on a regular basis, I try not to miss it. (It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm fascinated that someone can portray a person with Aspergers/high functioning autism so well. And it is a pretty funny show, too, although I'm sure there are physics jokes that I just don't get.) But to remain on topic, I decided to work on this piece since it's small. It's way outside my comfort zone with the stitches, but I'm taking it slowly and I like the texture that's coming from the variety of stitches. We'll see if I have the same feeling about this piece when I get to the stem stitch and the chain stitch that are used for those black and gold lines and the veins in the leaves.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On the Move

It's been a while since my last post. My husband and I have been on the move the past few weekends, spending time with each of our children. I went out to Gettysburg, PA, in the middle of October to watch our second son run in a cross country meet. The course is actually laid out on part of the land you see in the picture here. This the third time I've made the trip to this particular meet and it's become a favorite--an easy drive, lovely fall foliage and a course where I can see a lot of the race. This year, the race fell on the Saturday of my son's fall break, so I brought him home with me. During the break, he had surgery to remove the pin that was inserted when he broke a bone in his hand last summer. The surgery was delayed a bit when he lost consciousness as the IV was inserted. His heart rate is really low due to running and also to a medication he takes. The plan had been for my husband to drive him back to school in the early afernoon, but we ended up taking him back in the early evening. It's about a 5 hour round trip and we're not used to these late nights!

We had barely recovered by the next Friday when we headed to Washington, DC for parents' weekend at our daughter's college. It was the first time we had seen her since August. She talks to us nearly every day, so it didn't seem like that long, but it was wonderful to see her. She's happy and much less stressed than in high school. An added bonus was getting to hear her practice with the jazz band she's in. We also got to meet up with friends who also happened to be in DC for the weekend, and we got to know our daughter's roommate a little better.

And finally, we spent a fabulous weekend in Pittsburgh with a family friend. Our older son came along for the trip and even though he slept in the car most of the time, it was great to be with him. The weather was terrific and sunny on Saturday (it's usually pretty gray in Pittsburgh). Part of the purpose of the weekend was to watch the Pitt-Louisville game. We were Louisville fans because of our friend and even though they lost, we had a good time. The people in Pittsburgh are so friendly and I love visiting there. And I managed to stitch two more needlepoint ornaments in the car on the way home. What could be better than good friends, family and stitching?