Sunday, June 26, 2011

Let There Be Light!

The big excitement at my house this week was having a new back door installed. I love it - especially the extra light! - although it has completely freaked out my Little Girl (my cat). She doesn't seem to understand why she can all of a sudden see out the back door. She doesn't adapt very well to change. Here's the before and after:

While the carpenter was here this week, he also rebuilt the fence across the backyard and fixed the garden shed door that the wind blew off the hinges last week. It was a great week for home improvement here!

In stitching news, I received a surprise package via FedEx yesterday. My Evertite stretcher bars for the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner arrived unexpectedly. Have you ever seen 40" Evertites? I certainly haven't, but here they are -

Wow - these are the XXL size! I remember telling Jill at Amy's to go ahead and order them for me but I just didn't expect to see them at my doorstep yesterday. Wish it were time to start the Christmas Banner Home Study, but we still have a few months to go.

While the Evertites were sent from their home out in Oregon, I received another small package from Amy's with the ribbons for the Queen's sleeves, some more Splendor for the "Keep Calm" canvas, and a skein of Watercolors for Peony Collage. Since so much of Peony Collage involves the use of Watercolors, I had not been able to stitch much this week. Last Sunday, while I watched the US Open, I was able to stitch most of the French Ribbon detail since it didn't involve using Watercolors. I fell in love with this little section of the canvas. It's such a pretty, feminine detail.

The photo doesn't do the ribbon detail justice. The pale pink and pale peach sections are so subtle - such a nice color combination.

I'm looking forward to the July 4th weekend in Jacksonville with Andrew and Anna. Last year they were here for the 4th and we went down to the Savannah River to watch the fireworks display for Augusta. This year, I'm looking forward to an evening of fireworks on the beach.

Hope you have fun plans for the July 4th weekend!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Looking Back and Looking Forward


Living the Good Life blog began a year ago today on June 19, 2010. As I wrote my first post on the blog, I was in the midst of stitching Bridezilla in the Halloweenie series, I had just met Paula Deen, and Andrew and Anna had only been married two weeks. I have Andrew to thank for encouraging me to start a blog. He knew I would enjoy sharing my enjoyment of stitching with people of a like mind. And I have - more than I ever imagined! The blogisphere has been a very friendly place this last year! I appreciate all of you who have stopped by the blog and followed my progress on various projects. Whether you have commented or not, your presence has been noted and I thank you.  I finished quite a few projects since June of 2010. The Halloweenies Home Study was completed not to mention the Noel Canvas and the Fall Trees. There's a lot to look forward to this year as well - the Creepy Characters from Needle Deeva and Robin King and, in the fall, the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner from Amy Bunger. Hope you will continue to stop by the blog to see what I'm working on next!

If not for the blog's birthday, I might have started out this post with "It was a dark and stormy night...". We have had two nights this week that were dark and stormy. Wednesday night was particularly bad with very damaging winds. Many trees were lost around my neighborhood but, fortunately, I escaped any damage - only nine hours without electricity. Last night was a different story as another storm barreled through the area. I woke up this morning to find one of the heavy wooden double doors on my garden shed hanging by one hinge. One more thing to add to my growing list of jobs for a handyman. Just wish I had a handyman!

On the stitching front this week, I spent an afternoon working on the Queen's ruffled collar. It's a little "over the top" but, then, what isn't on the Queen? Jill emailed from Amy's to let me know that the gold ribbon for the Queen's sleeves had finally arrived so everything is coming together for a big finish for Her Majesty.

I also found time to work on Peony Collage and finished up all of the boxes. 

The only difficult part of this project so far is the counting! Now that the foundations are laid, I look forward to filling in the boxes with interesting patterns. My only problem is that the main thread is back-ordered but I will start a search for it this week to see if I can find it elsewhere.

I had planned to start working on "Keep Calm and Carry On" during April, but here we are inching towards the end of June and I am just now starting it. Back in April, Amy gave me a wonderful stained glass pattern to work as the background. I gave the pattern a try but quickly realized that there was so much compensation involved that it would hardly do it justice. 

So, I switched gears and went in search of another pattern. I found what I was looking for in an old Maggie Lane book. She calls the pattern "Flat Stitch with Diamond Cross Filler". The flat stitch uses Splendor and the diamond cross filler will use Kreinik braid and/or Petite Very Velvet. I'm finding the nice, flat lavender stitches to be very soothing - appropriate for this canvas, don't you think?

Guess who's vacationing in San Francisco? Dev L. Mann and Sarcoph A. Gus. They've gone to see Marlene who will complete their finishing. That just leaves Dr. Acula and W. Herr Wolff and they are anxious for their turn to visit with Marlene. Halloween will be here before we know it. This was evident to me as I walked through Hobby Lobby yesterday and saw the Fall garlands and wreaths hanging in the floral department. At least the Christmas decorations had not been put out - yet!

I'm looking forward to an afternoon of watching the US Open and getting lots of stitching accomplished. Hope you have an enjoyable afternoon planned as well!

I've got to go now - there's a cupcake calling my name! Happy Birthday to my blog!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Lazy June Weekend Perfect For Stitching

What a laid back weekend this has been! Yesterday was spent watching movies, stitching, napping, stitching, more movies, stitching - you get the idea. With all that stitching time yesterday, you might think that I would post a picture of a finished Queen Elizabeth. But, no, the last little bit of detail still needs to be taken care of on Her Majesty.  She has requested that her photo not be taken again until the stitching is completely finished. What the Queen wants, the Queen gets! I finally finished her left sleeve this week and added the small, pearl-like beads to the middle of the Jessicas that are dotted across the sleeves. It's a small detail but so perfect for her costume. Today I am going to finish her hand and the cuff of the sleeve. The embellishments come next  - her hair comb jewels, the false eyelashes, and the ruffled collar. There really isn't a lot left to complete as I wait for the ribbon (on backorder) to come in. The ribbon will criss-cross the sleeves. She'll be stunning when completely finished!

I have been following Laura J. Perin's blog Two-Handed Stitcher for a while now as she and I share similar interests - needlework and gardening. Laura designs wonderful counted thread pieces. Some of her May postings really caught my eye - her upcoming cyber class called Garden Gate and a new project from her Secret Garden series, Peony Collage.  Laura and I had a very nice chat on the phone last week as I signed up for the cyber class. She kindly pointed me in the direction of some shops that carry her stitch guides so I was able to order a couple of them. Two projects arrived this week and I started one of them yesterday - Peony Collage.

After all the reds and velvets and glitz and glamour of Queen Elizabeth, Peony Collage is a lovely, soothing study in pinks and greens - perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. I haven't done any counted thread needlework in a while but this project will be a nice way to return to it. The other project I purchased by Laura is One Long Sampler, a new design for 2011.

Talk about soothing colors - this project has them! One Long Panel just screams shady summer afternoon to me. If I had a pool, it would scream shady summer afternoon by the pool! The colors are cool greens and turquoise. Our friend, Conni, over at Spinster Stitcher stitched this piece back in January and I have admired it off and on since then. I'm not abandoning my painted canvases - just taking occasional detours along the counted thread canvas highway.

Can't leave you today without sending a round of applause to Amy Bunger on her receiving the TEN Award (Tribute to Excellence in Needlearts) at TNNA this weekend. I can't imagine anyone more deserving of this award! Cudos to Amy!

Hope you have all gotten in as much stitching time as I have this weekend! Have a good week ahead!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Slight Detour - Crisis Averted

This week I began stitching the left sleeve for Queen Elizabeth. When I originally purchased this canvas and its threads almost three years ago, the thread kit came with one card of Splendor 822 and one card of Petite Very Velvet 632. About half way through the right sleeve I knew that I would need at least one more card of each to finish the left sleeve. I ordered some more of both from Amy's and it arrived in time for me to begin the second sleeve this week. I had a little of each of the original threads left but decided to start fresh with the new threads on the left sleeve. Have you guessed where I'm going with this?

I stitched about six or seven rows with the new threads before I realized that the colors of the two threads were almost an exact match with each other. Ordinarily that isn't a bad thing, is it? However, on the right sleeve there is a contrast between the colors. The Splendor on the right sleeve is definitely a slight shade darker than the Petite Very Velvet which in person gives the sleeve a checkerboard effect.

I decided to take 2 strands of the original Splendor and lay them on top of the new Splendor that had already been stitched to see if I could darken the overall color and I think I have been fairly successful in achieving a similar look between the sleeves. I photographed the Queen before I began overlaying the darker Splendor so that you could see the before and after. Evidently my eye and the camera's eye don't see the same thing. To me, there was a glaring difference between the two sleeves. But when I compared the before and after pictures, the pictures don't show much of a difference. So, the picture in this post is of the Queen after I began adding the darker threads. I think I'll continue stitching the sleeve in the same manner as I have this morning. I suppose the moral of this story is to listen to other stitchers who have said to never stitch to the end of a skein of thread unless you are absolutely sure that the next thread you pick up is from the exact same dye lot.  I'm so glad I had a little of that original thread left to add in to the new thread. Crisis averted!

Well, right about this time of day a year ago, Andrew and Anna were about to become husband and wife. Happy Anniversary to you both! Anna is a wonderful addition to our family!

Hope your stitching is crisis-free this week! I think mine will be!