Sunday, October 30, 2011

What a Fun Halloween Season!

I hate to see the Halloween season come to an end! I have really enjoyed all my Halloween decor and will miss it so much when it is packed away this week. Too bad I have no needlepoint to show for Thanksgiving. One of these days I'll have to choose something from Melissa Shirley or Kelly Clark to stitch in honor of Thanksgiving.

Just because the Halloween season is officially over on Monday, it doesn't mean the Halloween stitching has to come to an end. I made some nice progress on the NeedleDeeva Frankenstein canvas this week.

On Saturday I worked on the black and orange background around Frank's face. It's hard to see the stitch but the orange dots are French knots using a Kreinik thread, a tent stitch in a black Petite Very Velvet, and a continuous Mosaic stitch in Elegance. In person, it's a great stitch - wish you could see it better in the photo. This area kept me company while I watched the Georgia-Florida game yesterday. It's about time Georgia beat that particular rival!

Last week I promised you a picture of the Bottle Bouquet canvas.

The flowers are stitched using River Silk ribbon. The stitch itself is a French knot on a stalk. The beads in the center of the flowers are such a beautiful dark honey color - very nice! This bottle was a quick stitch but also one of the smallest bottles in the group. I think the others will take a little more time.

On Saturday I tackled the assembly of my K's floor stand in preparation for the arrival of the Christmas banner this week from Amy's. First I assembled the Evertite stretchers. The 40" length of the stretcher presented a challenge - just because of the length. I hated to do this, but I had to get the hammer out to encourage all the sides to come together. I used a folded towel over the bar to protect it from the hammer. I'm glad that the sides are only 11" in length! Once the Evertites were assembled, I moved on to the floor stand and the arms to hold the frame.

While I have the basic instructions for the K's Creation floor stand, there weren't any instructions for the assembly of the arms that hold the frame. After an hour or so of trial and error (many!) and a trip to Lowe's for a couple of washers and wing nuts, I finally assembled the stand.

Wow! Is it big! If some of you who are stitching the Christmas banner have purchased a similar set-up for your floor stand and are looking at how mine is set up, just realize that this might not be a correct assembly. From what I can tell, this will work. But only time will tell! I set this up in the living room and you can get an idea of the size of the assembled frame in relation to a fairly large leather chair in the background and my fireplace. I may have to do my stitching on the banner in my home office where I have room to maneuver the stand around and can move my chair up to the stand instead of the other way around.

Andrew, Anna, and I are headed to Hilton Head next weekend. I haven't been there in almost eight years and can only imagine the changes to familiar places since then. I imagine there won't be too many familiar places any more! My family had a home there from the mid-'60s through the late '90s so I have seen lots of changes to that island over the years. Andrew will be covering the Concourse d'Elegance for the BMW blog for which he writes. BMW is one of the major sponsors for the Concourse and the organizers have provided Andrew and Anna with a room at the beautiful Inn at Harbour Town (I'll be at the Crowne Plaza) and passes for all of us to the Concourse. Anna and I may make an appearance at the Concourse to check out the cars but I think the outlet mall and other Hilton Head shops may be calling our names instead. We'll have a fun weekend and November is always a beautiful time to be at the South Carolina coast.

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead with no leftover Halloween candy to tempt you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Abundance of Needlepoint This Week

This week I felt like Christmas arrived two months early with all of the needlepoint canvases and finished pieces that arrived on my doorstep. Just a few weeks ago I packed up a box of finished canvases to send to Marlene in San Francisco. I had no idea that I would see the two Halloween pieces in time for Halloween this year. But, they are here! Here are a couple of pictures of "boo".

The day before I sent "boo" off to be finished, I was shopping at Hobby Lobby and found some cute Halloween buttons which were perfect additions to this canvas. You will see that I added a little spider and a bat. I liked that they had a matte finish and were on the smallish side so that they weren't the focus of the finished piece. Marlene and I had talked about finishing "boo" as an easel-back but I am much happier with this type of finishing. "boo" is sitting in front of my huge Jim Shore black cat holding her lantern and sitting atop a pumpkin. She is surrounded by the black feather wreath I found at Target a few years ago.

I also now have my Kelly Clark Halloween apple in time for Halloween this year. I will definitely have to do the others in this series for next year. The back of this ornament is finished in a deep orange raw silk.

There were four finished Christmas pieces in the box from Marlene as well. Again, we had talked about finishing Noel as an easel back but obviously they thought better of that idea and finished it in this cute way.

I also have three new Christmas ornaments to add to the tree this year or give as a gift.

I couldn't be happier with all of these finished pieces from Marlene. It is such a gratifying feeling to have six completely finished projects from 2011 in my hands for use this year!

Now, on to the canvases that arrived this week. I now have a Kelly Clark witch hat (skeleton and snake) from The Bristly Thistle.  NeedleDeeva's Hooty was also in the same box.

The other new canvas that arrived this week came from Amy's in Memphis. This is from Melissa Shirley's new series of fairy tale witches. May I introduce Helowise.

This is really a beautiful canvas and Amy has chosen a wonderful palette of thread colors for Helowise. It's fun to stitch the brightly colored Halloween ornaments but this is a nice change of pace to use more subtle autumn colors. I wish the photograph did the colors justice! Amy has written a great stitch guide for Helowise.

On the stitching front this week, I finished stitching Fraidy Cat. He was such fun and Robin did a fantastic job with the stitch guide and thread choice.

I had such fun stitching Fraidy that as soon as he came off the stretcher bars, I put Frankenstein on in his place. I started Frank on Saturday.

How do you like my little bit of bat bling on this canvas? I saw this bat magnet on Amy's website and knew I had to have him for all of my Halloween canvases.

The only piece I didn't photograph this week is Bottle Bouquets. I made some nice progress on the first bottle and actually finished stitching the bottle and have almost finished stitching the flowers and leaves. I think it's the smallest bottle of the group so it's no wonder it has gone so quickly. I'll show you a finished bottle and flowers next week.

My bank account is telling me that that's enough needlepoint for one week! I still have the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner to arrive next week but that should be it for awhile. I have more than enough projects to keep me busy well in to the early part of 2012!

Hope your week has been filled with time to stitch! I think I spent more time this week looking at newly received projects and finished pieces than actually stitching. It's another beautiful autumn day and I think Frankenstein is going to see some time spent outdoors being stitched today.

Have a wonderful week ahead!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Perfect Fall Weekend and My Small Obsession with Eagles

I hope you have enjoyed as beautiful a weekend as I have here in Georgia! We have had bright blue skies, mild temperatures, and just a hint of color in the leaves. And, I only swatted one mosquito the entire time I was outside yesterday. I took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday to spend the better part of the day on the patio reading and stitching.

Stitching continued this week on Fraidy Cat and he remains such a fun project.

The main focus of my stitching this week was on the background around Fraidy Cat. Robin has used a composite stitch in this area that is completed in several steps. I took this photo of Fraidy yesterday during the morning but I finished stitching the rest of background during the Georgia-Vanderbilt game (Go Dawgs!) last night. The spider up at the top still needs his legs, eyes, and teeth but I think the next section to work on will be Fraidy himself. I've had such a good time with Fraidy that I called Michele at The Bristly Thistle and ordered Hooty from her (and a Kelly Clark witch's hat). The stitch guide for Hooty is featured in the latest issue of Needlepoint Now.  Fraidy, Frankenstein, and Hooty will make a great trio of Creepy Characters! If you love Halloween stitching, the Creeps are a must have!

In other needlepoint news, my bottle bouquet canvas (Mary Lake Thompson/Melissa Shirley), threads and stitch guide arrived from Pocket Full of Stitches. I'll be stitching this bottle by bottle starting with the bottle and flowers on the left.

The stitch guide is by Laura Taylor of Aristeia but with some thread modifications by Rhea at Pocket Full of Stitches. The first bottle uses threads like Panache, Kreinik, cotton floss, River Silks ribbon, and Gloriana ribbon. I have been wanting to stitch with ribbons and it looks like I will have lots of opportunities to do so with this canvas. I hope to get this on the stretcher bars today.

I'll have a little bit of spring and summer to stitch all winter long with this project. Each month PFOS will send a new thread kit for one of the bottles.

Have I told you about my recent obsession with eagles? I suppose an eight month obsession is recent, isn't it? I started watching the live camera in the eagle nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens back in March not long after the three eaglets hatched. It was fascinating to watch the Mom and Dad feed and protect the eaglets, make continuing improvements to the nest, and, in general, just live their lives. Until the morning of April 26, when those of us watching the cam (thousands of us) noticed that Mom had not been back to the nest for an unusually long time. The terrible news came later in the morning that an eagle had been struck by a jet landing at the airport adjacent to the Botanical Gardens. It was confirmed later in the day that it was the Mom eagle. I think I went through a box of tissues that day! To make a long story (5 months) short, the decision was made by the Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Center of Virginia to remove the eaglets from the nest and take them to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro, VA to be cared for until they could be released back into the wild. The general consensus was that Dad Norfolk would be unable to feed three quickly growing eaglets all by himself and that all three eaglets had a better chance of making it if they were removed to the WCV where they could be cared for. The great staff at the WCV built them a nest in a large flight pen and set up a live camera so that those of us who had followed the nest at the Gardens could continue to watch the progress of the eaglets.

I watched all through the late spring and summer as they grew, exercised their wings, made short hops to perches near their nest, and finally their move to the big flight pen where they could begin practicing flying. In late July, the three eaglets were taken to Berkeley Plantation along the banks of the James River for their release. One of the three (she's called NX for the lettering on her leg band) was outfitted with a GPS transmitter. The eaglets were released and flew away as expected except for NX. She flew just a short distance and landed on the ground in the woods. She was re-captured and it was determined that the trip from Waynesboro to the James River, the July heat, and the outfitting of the GPS unit had exhausted her and brought out her lack of maturity. So NX was taken back to the WCV  for some rest and a little more time to mature. She was successfully released in August and now her GPS unit sends data once a week or so on her whereabouts. She's about 60 miles from her release site now and spends most of her time along rivers in Northern Virginia not far from the Chesapeake Bay.

Yesterday, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens dedicated their new eagle plaza to Mom Norfolk with the unveiling of a beautiful bronze statue of an eagle in flight in her honor. There were over 1,000 people in attendance and I would have given anything to have been there. The thousands of us eagle-obsessed fans are now known as Eagle Nation and we have helped raise the money for the new plaza at the Gardens and have helped the Wildlife Center of Virginia win a $225,000 award from Chase Bank Foundation for the work that they do at their center. It's been an amazing 8 months!

And now the best part - Dad Norfolk has recently been photographed in the Gardens at the 2011 nest site with a new lady in his life. They have been making additions to the nest (nestorations) although mating and nesting won't take place until January or February. Evidently their early work on the nest is part of their bonding process as a new couple. We don't know where this female eagle came from but she is a big, beautiful bird. Both birds were seen flying over the Gardens yesterday during the dedication ceremony. I won't say I went through a box of tissues yesterday but as I followed the events at the Gardens via the internet yesterday, I did find myself reaching for them quite a few times. I'm excited for what promises to be new beginning for the Norfolk eagles in 2012. I'll also be watching the nest cam for the Decorah (Iowa) eagles who are also making additions to their 2011 nest.

Ok, I've gotten the eagles out of my system for today and now you know about my other obsession besides needlepoint. I apologize in advance when tidbits about the eagles and the other critters I am watching at the WCV leak out. It's an obsession. What else can I say?

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My New Halloween Friends

This week, just as I was trying to make a decision on which canvas to pull out of the stash to stitch, two new Halloween friends arrived on my doorstep. Meet Fraidy Cat and Frankenstein from NeedleDeeva.

The stitch guides are by Robin King and she has really pulled out all the stops on these Creepy Characters. There are no less than 23 threads in this one character! Fortunately, many of the threads can be used on the other characters. Robin's guides are written and illustrated with excellent attention to detail so that along with the photo of the finished ornament, there is very little doubt as to how a particular stitch or section should look. Thanks, Robin!

I wasn't able to begin stitching Fraidy Cat until Friday evening but there is already a good bit of progress to show you on Sunday morning. I completed the two green/yellow borders yesterday and this morning have just completed the skip tent purple section that is the background for the spider web. Stitching the spider web is next on the agenda.

It didn't take long for me to realize that it will be difficult to not stitch all of the Creepy Characters. They will make a great quick, small project to have on hand especially if you have a larger, long-term project in the works - as I will as soon as my next Home Study with Amy arrives in November. I can't wait for the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner to arrive!

It's time for Sunday lunch and football, so I'm out of here for now! Hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy this wonderful fall weather!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Decor

The Halloween tree is up in all of its orange and black glory. The sad thing about it is the lack of any stitched ornaments. Next year will be different and hopefully I'll have many to show you. But, the tree is fun with lots of sparkly garland and ornaments.

I love the top of my tree with its sprays of candy corn and gum drops. There is also a bow with pumpkins and black and orange metallic ribbon streamers.

The cute shop here in Augusta where I buy a lot of my holiday decor, Cudos, had a fun set of face decorations for pumpkins. Here's the ultra-friendly pumpkin who sits at my front door.

Doesn't he have a sweet face? My daughter-in-law, Anna, was with me at Cudos this weekend for a wreath making class and while I was there, I bought a similar kit to the pumpkin for a Thanksgiving turkey. Anna and I had fun in the class and learned lots of creative things to do with grapevine wreaths. We also got a preview of the wreaths they are preparing for Christmas. Wow!

The cold I had last weekend continued in to this past week. I finally went to the doctor on Thursday and was given some antibiotics and some prescription strength cough syrup. I can't remember when I have felt that bad. I'm on the mend now - no more fever and the cough is a little less bothersome every day. But as a result, there wasn't much stitching accomplished last week. Last night, I finished the beading on Keep Calm and Carry On crown bringing that stitching project to an end.  Here she is -

Now, what comes next? Time to look through the canvases and figure out which one will be brought out into the spotlight. I still have several canvases to work on which I took with me to Amy's back in the spring. Linda Carter Holman's Island Lady with the basket of fruits and flowers or LCH's Belles with the large hats and high tea? Check back with me next week and see which one I choose.

Have a great week with lots of time for stitching!