Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Banner Progress

I thoroughly enjoyed my stitching on the Christmas banner this week and, as a result, I am halfway finished with the border!

As delighted as I am with the partially completed border, I have to admit to my inability to follow directions.  After I had finished the upper left crenellated border of mosaic stitches and Smyrna crosses, I looked at Amy's directions and diagram and discovered that I had not changed the direction of the mosaic stitches for this portion of the border. I suppose if I were deliberately choosing to ignore Amy's instructions, the direction of this little mosaic stitch would be the place to do it. Although to me it's a glaring mistake, if I look at it objectively, it isn't noticeable. The most aggravating thing about my mistake is the fact that Amy could not have made it more clear as to how the border is to be stitched in written instructions and in diagrams. Sorry Amy, I'll pay more attention in the future.

The border really is beautiful with the sparkly, deep, rich greens and red. The golds are the perfect complements to the red and green. Once you start the Rhodes stitches, the border really moves right along. I'm anxious to see what's planned for the first pear but, until that lesson arrives, I'll continue work on the next half of the border.

When I wasn't Christmas stitching this week, I was stitching for Halloween. I'm making nice progress on NeedleDeeva's Hooty Owl.

Hooty's such a cutie to stitch and so nice and small compared to the Christmas banner. Little Girl is always happy when I stitch Hooty because that means she can sleep in my lap while I stitch - something she can't do when I stitch the banner.

I was out in the backyard yesterday and realized it was time to check the Christmas cacti that I had hidden under the Japanese magnolia and sasanqua back in April. And here they are -

After brushing away the fallen leaves and white sasanqua blossoms, the blooms on the cacti were visible.  It's time to bring them inside and enjoy the beautiful blooms. Every year it amazes me that with so little care all summer that these plants put on such a beautiful show in November and December.

I'll be driving down to Jacksonville this week to spend Thanksgiving with Andrew and Anna. I haven't been down there since the July 4th weekend - hard to believe! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family! We all have so much to be thankful for so take some time this week to count your blessings!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Study - Settling In

This week I settled in to my stitching on the Christmas banner. I wish I could say I had settled on which floor stand to use. During the week I kept the banner on the K's floor stand in my office. I remembered an old standing Ott Lite that I had hidden away from myself in a closet and brought that in to the office. The light makes a huge difference as the natural light this time of year in the office and my desk lamp just weren't doing it for me.

Today I moved the banner and the K's stand into the den so that I could stitch and watch TV. I have a small den - maybe 10' x 15' - and the K's stand with the banner on it is just too much in this small room especially where my stitching chair is located. But, I was willing to try it, nonetheless. I got settled and pulled the stand in close enough for comfortable stitching only to realize that I hadn't brought my threads with me from the office. I was so aggravated with myself! All the while I had been trying to get settled, my cat, Little Girl, had a panicked look on her face as she tried to figure out how she was going to sit in my lap with this contraption in her way. She climbed on the table next to me but that didn't get her any closer. Then she climbed on to the arm of my chair and squeezed herself under the canvas. She couldn't get any more settled than I could.

Since I had no threads with which to stitch, I had to move the K's stand out of my way - no small feat given the heavy base on the stand - not to mention moving the cat out of my way. I retrieved the threads and came back to the den to rethink whether I would be happy stitching this canvas in the den. At some point I decided to move the K's stand out of the way and try the System 4 just to see if it would even hold the banner. And, sure enough it did - as long as it was clamped in the middle of the frame.  So I may try this when I want to stitch the banner in the den.

I don't want to bore you with the details of how and where I do my stitching but maybe it helps someone else who might be trying to figure out where and how to stitch a canvas the size of the Christmas banner. If nothing else, I learned that both my floor stands will work and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Until Amy has us start on the pears, following my progress on the banner might be as exciting as watching paint dry. There is a lot of border to stitch on this project and that's all I am working on this month! I think I made good progress this week stitching the crenellated border. I finished the crenellations along the left border and half way across the bottom border. I started on the top border this afternoon.

The Rhodes stitches are the next step in completing the border. I may stitch some of those in the left border just for a change of pace this week. I wanted you to see the cute magnet that Amy sent with the first banner lesson. It's the perfect accessory for this Home Study.

I enjoyed having a small project to work on this week - my Frankenstein from Needle Deeva. I finished up Frank yesterday and Hooty Owl is already on the stretcher bars as my next small project.

Frankenstein was as much fun to stitch as Fraidy Cat and those two are patiently waiting now for Hooty Owl to join them before they head off to the finisher. Thanks NeedleDeeva and Robin for this fun series of Halloween ornaments!

That's my stitching news for this week. Hope your stitching went well this week! If you can stand it, I'll show you some more of the crenellated border next week! Maybe I'll have some Rhodes stitches to show you instead!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I had a wonderful weekend at Hilton Head - my first trip there in almost 8 years! Andrew was there to cover the Concourse d'Elegance for for which he writes. BMW (the key sponsor for the Concourse) provided he and Anna with a room at the elegant Inn at Harbor Town, a 2012 BMW 5 series to drive Saturday afternoon, and a sporty, bright yellow 2012 BMW Z4 convertible to test drive on Sunday morning.

I didn't have a chance to ride in the Z4 but I enjoyed our drive through Sea Pines Plantation in the beautiful white 5 series we were given to test drive. One of our stops in Sea Pines was at the beachfront house my family owned for many years.

We had many good times at that house. Not much as changed about the house except for the houses around it which are all new or completely renovated. In fact, it was refreshing to see that Sea Pines had not changed a lot over the years. Much of Hilton Head has changed tremendously but standing there on the walkway to the beach in front of our former home, you could almost imagine that 13 years had not passed by since the last time I had stood in that exact place looking out at the ocean. Everything looked just as I remembered it.

Anna and I started our Saturday morning off with a brisk walk around Harbor Town. We didn't linger very long as it was a chilly, windy morning. Their good friends, Brian and Spring and daughter, Harley, snapped this picture of the two of us.

We left Harbor Town and headed out to the two Tanger outlet malls where we did a little shopping at the Bare Escentuals outlet store, Talbots, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. We picked up some great bargains and did a little Christmas shopping as well.

On Sunday Anna and I joined Andrew at the Concourse and enjoyed seeing all of the fabulous antique cars. These were the creme de la creme of antique automobiles. Since BMW was the key sponsor, they had many (if not all) of their latest models on display. Here I am my with favorite of the day - the 2012 Rolls Royce Phantom coupe.

Too bad I couldn't drive it home!

On the needlepoint front this week, the Melissa Shirley Christmas banner arrived from Amy's. This is Amy's current Home Study project. I couldn't wait to get it on the stretcher bars and try it out on my new floor stand. Mounting it on the stretcher bars proved to be a challenge. The third attempt was the charm. The problem for me was to get an even tautness across the 40 inches of canvas. I could get either end of the canvas taut enough but not the middle. Amy came to my rescue with a few suggestions and also pointed me towards her August 2011 newsletter in which she described mounting the Thanksgiving banner on stretcher bars. A little steam in all the right places was the trick to getting my banner mounted to my satisfaction.

I have set up the canvas and floor stand in my office. It will be a little easier to work something this size in a more open space than I have in my den where I usually stitch.

The only problem with having this canvas in the office is that it is a terrible temptation to take a few minutes out of the work day to stitch. I had thought all day yesterday and today that I could give in to that temptation for just a little bit but Work prevented that. I've stitched a little bit of the border.

I'm looking forward to a block of time at some point this week (but certainly over the weekend) to just sit and do some serious stitching. I may move the floor stand into the den for the weekend stitching - can't miss the football games.  Amy has written another fabulous stitch guide - you aren't surprised, are you? The diagrams for the border are excellent and cover all four corners. You can't see it in my pictures but Amy gave us a beautiful pear magnet that was designed just for this project. Thanks, Amy!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and find some time to stitch!