Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speak of the Devil!

Dev L. Mann and I will soon part ways - probably this week. In addition to the background, there are still a few details to finish up - the nest of grass under the crow, the crows' beaks, Dev's mustache, and the logs under the flames. Nothing too time consuming.

I am disappointed in the photograph of Dev L. Mann this week. It really doesn't show any of the sparkle and shine of this character. In person, the gold and orange flames on his tunic really catch the light.

To be honest, of all the Halloweenie characters, Dev L. Mann was my least favorite. But that was before I stitched him. As I just mentioned, photographs just don't capture how the Neon Rays, the Fyre Werks, the Accentuate, and the Painter's Threads bring this character to life. The slightest movement of the canvas brings a great reflection of light off of the threads. Now that Dev L. Mann is almost finished, I am as fond of him as I am of all the other characters.

The calendar may not say that Spring has arrived, but Mother Nature is not watching the calendar. In my backyard, the Japanese Magnolia and the Pink Perfection camellias are in full bloom.

I haven't checked my azaleas yet but I hope that we won't be seeing them bloom until at least a month from now. Here in Augusta, we always hope that the azaleas wait to bloom right before and during The Masters Golf Tournament the first full week of April. 

Speaking of The Masters, I am wrestling with the idea of renting my home during that week. I haven't rented to anyone in the last 4 years. Many people in Augusta rent their homes during Masters week and I may have waited too late this year to find a renter. Schools are closed in our area that week and so many families take their money from renting their home and head out on vacation for the week. It is a HUGE undertaking to get your house ready to rent. It means cleaning out closets and dressers, scrubbing bathrooms top to bottom, and doing the same for the kitchen. It also means having the outside of the house cleaned and the yard and patio looking their best. It is extreme spring cleaning taken to the max. 

I still haven't decided if I will rent, but if anyone who reads the blog and might be coming to Augusta during Masters week and needs a 2 BR, 2 Bath to rent, just let me know. I'll go into cleaning overdrive for you!

Not to rub it in for my friends in colder parts of the country, but I think I'll head outside now. Temps are supposed to be near 80 today and there's not a cloud in the sky! I'll take Dev L. Mann with me and keep working on that background.

Stitch on -

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moving Right Along

Looking at the progress I have made on Dev L. Mann, I must wonder if I did anything else but stitch this week. This character is definitely stitching up much faster than previous characters. And maybe since we are at the end of a year-long project, it isn't such a bad thing to have the last character be easier and quicker to stitch.

This weekend I hope to finish Dev's asbestos tunic and start work on his face. There are still the logs on the fire to do and the beaded gecko to stitch as well. I think I see background work in my future this week.

I had better get in my stitching for the weekend today as I'm headed to Savannah for the day tomorrow. I'll meet Andrew and Anna there and we'll have a nice day together. I haven't seen them since Christmas and I miss them both even though we talk regularly by phone.

It should be a nice day tomorrow to be out and about in Savannah. We have had such nice weather this week. I even opened the kitchen window yesterday to let the fresh air in. Unfortunately the nice fresh air is full of something that has started me sneezing and running for the Claritin. It's hard to stay inside when it's in the mid-70s in February. I was looking at all the tender little leaves that are beginning to show on my hydrangeas and said a little prayer for them that we have no more hard freezes before spring really arrives.

Hope you have all had a little taste of spring this week! Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Seven Down, One To Go

This week I put the final member of the Halloweenies Home Study on the stretcher bars. This time last year we were putting the first stitches on the Haunted House and the first of the characters hadn't even arrived. There are many stitches left to be completed on the Haunted House but I am pleased to say that seven of the eight characters are finished. Here's the finished Sarcoph A. Gus:

It's a shame that photographs (mine, anyway) really don't do Gus justice. You have to see him in person to appreciate the play of light on the beads of the outer case. There were so many fun design features on Gus that went beyond our usual stitching - the beaded crook and flail with the tassel, the muslin wrapping on the mummy, and the skull rattle with the beaded tassel. Amy went all out on this character! All of her directions were so easy to follow and ensured a successful outcome.

Now it's time to turn my attention to Dev L. Mann. This week I started with the bottom border and used a new thread for me - Painter's Threads. It is a ribbon-like thread with an iridescent metallic thread running through it. When used with Fyre Works, it makes for a shimmery, sparkly border. The metallic thread in the Painter's Threads really picks up the light. I can't wait to use it on Dev's pant suit! I think Dev L. Mann will have a lot more "spark" to him in person than what comes across in the photos.

The geckos don't have their tails, feet, or tongues yet. I wanted to move on to the the jack-o-lantern because I enjoyed that stitch so much when we used it in a previous pumpkin. I can't say I enjoyed working it this time. Because of the placement of my tent stitches for the darker lines on the pumpkin, I found myself having to compensate a lot of stitches in a small area and that was no fun. Maybe you can plan your stitches better than I did. There's a lot going on with this pumpkin. Rhett makes his appearance in the middle of the pumpkin's nose, there's grass for the bird nest, and then the crow in the nest.

Just as an FYI - Right above the bottom border is a thin purple border that calls for Fyre Works. The thread list indicates that this color is included in the new threads kit for Dev; but, this is not the case. Peggy and Jill kindly responded very quickly to my question about this thread. The dark periwinkle Fyre Works is found in the Dr. Acula thread kit. So look for it there - there is plenty left from the previous kit to use in the border of Dev L. Mann. Thanks Peggy and Jill!

Yesterday and today we have had a nice hint of spring - warm sunshine and bright blue skies - and robins everywhere. I spent a little time yesterday out by my back steps cutting back my rosemary plants that were about to completely block the walkway to the patio. When I planted them a few years ago, I had no idea that they would thrive as well as they have. Today I need to cut back the thyme plants which have been peeking out from under the rosemary. I usually have a pot of cat mint right there by the other herbs but it doesn't make it through the winter like the rosemary and thyme do. My cat loves the mint and I have seen her checking out the pot to see where her favorite green plant has gone. This time of year all she can do is rub her cheek against the pitiful stems that are the only thing left of the plant. I've bought catnip plants for her but she prefers the cat mint. Hang on a little longer, Little Girl, it won't be long before I can replant that pot for you!

I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day! I hope you get to spend it with those you love!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Devil Went Down to Georgia....

He was lookin' for a soul to steal. With apologies to Charlie Daniels, I think he was looking for his other Halloweenie friends. The UPS man delivered him in a pouring rain on Friday afternoon. Steam was practically rising off the box. Dev L. Mann is one hot Halloweenie character!

There are some familiar elements from other characters but always with a new twist from Amy - the logs and fire, the crows, the pumpkin, the geckos, and, of course, Rhett, the rat who makes an appearance with each character. There are some fun stitches and threads involved in stitching Dev L. Mann's asbestos pant suit.

I hope to start Dev L. Mann later in the week once Sarcoph A. Gus is finished. It's hard to believe that we have reached the end of the Halloweenie characters for this Home Study with Amy. What fun they have been and how they have stretched my needlepoint abilities!

Wrapping Up Sarcoph A. Gus

This week I worked on wrapping up Gus - literally. Not in the sense that I finished him although I am close. All of the beading is finally finished and although I enjoyed beading the different patterns and seeing how it all came together on the outer case, I'm not sorry to put down the beading needle for a while.

Amy gave us excellent directions for creating the stained, time-worn wrappings for Gus. Working with the muslin wraps was a fun, rainy afternoon activity this week. After tearing the muslin into strips, I sprinkled the strips with some strong coffee and let them dry.

Once they dried (which took no time at all), I sprayed them lightly with water and then sprinkled instant coffee over them and left them to dry again. I have to admit that at this point, I could foresee a trip to the fabric store to buy some more muslin. The very dark spots caused by the instant coffee had me worried.

But there was no need to worry! As the strips dried, the stains from the instant coffee granules faded nicely. This was the final product.

The stains on the muslin wraps perfectly match the thread colors that Amy chose for the stitched wraps. Gus is all wrapped up now in his stitched and muslin wraps. His outer sarcophagus case is complete with the addition of the crook and flail. Again, excellent directions from Amy on creating the tassel for the flail and the beaded crook.

There's not a lot of stitching left for Gus - just the geckos in the lower border and the remainder of the background. Can I finish him this week? We'll see!