Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunflower and Berries Class at In Stitches

I spent Friday and Saturday at In Stitches in Atlanta in Robin King's Sunflower and Berries class. What a fabulous two days! The class, the teacher, the canvas, the store, my fellow stitchers - all of those elements came together for a really fun learning experience.

Sunflower and Berries is a NeedleDeeva canvas that has been beautifully brought to life by Robin King. This photo is of Robin's framed piece that was our inspiration for the weekend. Robin brought all of her skills to this piece with lots of interesting stitches, techniques, and threads. We started Friday morning learning about stump work and creating a strawberry that adds so much dimension to the canvas. I'll probably make another strawberry to replace the first one I made. I have two smaller strawberries to make as well. There is definitely a learning curve involved but nothing that can't be overcome with a little practice.

We moved on to the petals of the sunflower using a Giant Double Brick stitch and just two threads of a golden Splendor. These stitches are basically covered by the ribbon petals on top but they are quite pretty on their own as the light coverage of the threads lets the shading of the painted canvas show through.

Our next area involved the dark brown center of the sunflower. This is a fun part of the canvas and I can't wait to get back to it. First we laid down a grid of 4-way Continental in a Kreinik. Then Robin showed us how to stack dark brown and golden beads to give the sunflower center such a nice vertical dimension. Do you see in the photo taken in this morning's sun how the bead stack actually casts a shadow? This technique really had all of us thinking of how we can use this with great effect on other canvases in our stashes.

From there we worked on the deep purple border using Splendor and Kreinik in a Slanted Burden and Slanted Brick. This stitch combination presents some challenges especially since you're working the dark purple threads on a dark purple painted area of canvas. Working it in an outer area of the canvas that was white was still challenging. Good lighting is definitely a requirement for working this part of the canvas.

That was what we did just on Friday! On Saturday we concentrated on the leaves, ribbon techniques, the ribbon petals on the sunflower, and the background. The background is so pretty and delicate. It is a version of Julia Snyder's Confetti ribbons which Robin has adapted for this canvas. The ribbons are stitched in a very pale lavendar Kreinik which Robin discovered is a glow-in-the-dark thread. It is now discontinued but for those of us in the class, we'll have a background that glows in the dark! This stitch definitely requires that you work in nice quiet place with few distractions.

One of the most wonderful parts of the weekend was meeting some women in person I have only "met" on Facebook and through my blog or theirs. What fun it was to finally connect with Robin, Vicky, Elizabeth, and Margaret. I have followed Robin and Vicky DeAngelis on their blogs.  It was quite a surprise to see Vicky drive up with Bam and Robin on Friday morning! Vicky won the prize for travelling the farthest for this class - all the way from San Diego! Elizabeth and Margaret I have met through the blog and on Facebook.

That's Vicky in the foreground and Robin in the background.

Here are Elizabeth (left) and Margaret (right) with Barbara in the background. We had a very compatible stitching group at our table. Each of our tables had a cheerful vase of sunflowers - how appropriate!

While we stayed busy in class, there were always a few minutes here and there to do some shopping. Bam at In Stitches really has one of the most well-stocked stores I have ever visited. Her thread selection in incredible. I added two small canvases to my collection. I love my new Mindy Christmas cupcake canvas and a Kelly Clark pear candy cane. I also picked up a new supply of needles and some cute magnets.

Well, now it's time to get back to reality. I've got to head to the grocery store and there's work waiting for me at my desk this afternoon. But, there will be some time for stitching, too.

Have a great week ahead!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Mojo Has Returned From Vacation

There was a pitiful amount of stitching to show you last week. This week I've done a little better. I had hoped to show you a completed S pear but I didn't quite make it.

I'm excited to show you the border at the right end of the canvas some 40" and 6 months since I started. All that needs to be done on the S is to finish the beading on the letter as well as the stem and the leaf. And, then, the push to finish the background begins. I won't bore you with weekly progress pictures of the background but will instead be starting a new, yet-to-be-determined project. Maybe when you least expect it, I'll have a totally completed Christmas banner to show you.

The highlight of my upcoming week is the trip to In Stitches in Atlanta on Friday and Saturday for Robin King's class. I am really looking forward to learning new techniques on the Sunflower and Berries canvas.

Andrew and Anna made it to Augusta this weekend so we finally celebrated their birthdays and Easter a few weeks late. The weekend always goes so quickly and now they are already back on the road to Jacksonville. We had a nice family dinner last night (beef tenderloin, mac & cheese, asparagus, and chocolate cake) followed by a marathon viewing of Swamp People on The History Channel - what can I say? We are easily entertained!

Time to get back to some stitching. I still have work to do today in preparation for the coming week so I'll treat myself to some time with the banner before I get back to work.

Hope you have a great week ahead!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

There was a complete lack of stitching this week up until Saturday. I was such a slacker all week long!  My stitching mojo must have been on vacation and forgot to tell me. I hope it's back this week so that I can get the S pear finished. At this stage of the project, it's not a good time to lose my momentum.

The blog is short and sweet this week. I'm determined to get some stitching done today.

Have a good week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Green Pears and Golf

Easter and Passover Greetings to all my friends! Hope you have a memorable day with family and friends or just doing what gives you the most enjoyment! My Easter weekend plans fell through thanks to Andrew's employer.  He has had to work all weekend but he and Anna will come here next weekend and we'll just extend Easter until then.

It's another beautiful Easter and Masters Sunday here in Augusta. We have gone from 90 degrees on Monday to a cool 45 degrees Saturday morning - so typical of Augusta in April. The weather has been perfect for the thousands of golf patrons who descend on Augusta this time every April. Hope they are enjoying it as much as I am.

My free time this week has revolved around golf and the green A pear. Yesterday while watching the golf tournament on television I finished up all of the green diamonds on the A. When I think about the incredible stitch combinations that Amy thinks up for her stitch guides, I wish that I had half of the creativity that she has in just her little finger! She never ceases to amaze me with her talent for picking just the right threads and stitches. The silvery green Kreinik that is used on top of the light green basketweave diamonds positively glows. It almost looks like it glows in the dark although I don't think it actually does. But, it certainly gives that impression.

I believe I can finish up the A this afternoon and move on to the very last pear. There is still over half of the background that needs attention but the bulk of the stitching is almost completed. My thoughts about this project turn more and more now to one of the most important aspects of any needlepoint project - the finishing. One of my stitching friends here on the blog suggested a few weeks ago that I consider finishing it as a stand-up. I'm really leaning towards that idea and can easily see in my mind what it might look like. Just hope I can translate what is in my mind's eye to the finisher!

There was a little stash enhancement this week. My Sweet Dreams canvas by & more arrived from Amy's on Wednesday. I'll probably take it with me when I visit Amy's in May to pick out threads. First I need to think about which stitches to use in each of the stripes. This canvas will work so beautifully with the other needlepoint pillows on my bed. I stitched a custom canvas for my mother many years ago now that has the first three words of her favorite Easter hymn "Welcome happy morning" across it. "Sweet Dreams" will be perfectly paired with it.

I made a trip to Nurseries Caroliniana yesterday and came home with a trunk full of flowers to plant on the patio. I got most of them into pots yesterday but am ready to head out this morning and finish up the remainder. I want to take care of the planting this morning so that I have the afternoon free for stitching and golf.

I'll leave you with a plate of Easter/Masters goodies from Two Moms Bakery. Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Big Week Ahead

It is Masters Week in Augusta this week. Unless you live here or religiously follow the game of golf or make the annual trek to the hallowed grounds of The Augusta National Golf Club, it is hard to imagine what this week is like around here. One of our local columnists for The Augusta Chronicle, Bill Kirby, wrote an excellent column in the paper this morning describing what this week is like for Augustans. This week has all the holidays rolled into one week. Groundhog Day - we focus on the weather and in this one week we can experience the temperatures of summer and winter and outbreaks of tornadoes. Memorial Day - we honor and remember the legends of golf - Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, etc.. July 4th - we celebrate freedom. Especially the children who all have the week off from school. Halloween - people dress up in crazy costumes (golf attire). Thanksgiving - this week brings families together - even if they have left town for the week and are together at some vacation spot. Christmas - like this special holiday, Masters Week involves travel, guests, parties, rituals, traditions, surprises, and spending lots of money. The airports are busy, the roads are clogged with traffic, and the stores are crowded. And then, of course, there is all the activity at the golf course and the famous back nine on Sunday afternoon. Whew! It's exhausting - but fun at the same time!

My thoughts this week go back 29 years to when my son, Andrew, was born on April 2nd.  What a blessing he is in my life! He's the best son a mother could ask for! Not only the best son, but my best friend! Happy Birthday, Andrew!

This week I finished up the M pear on the Christmas Banner just in time for the arrival of the last kit for this Home Study. Wow - where have the last five months gone? It doesn't seem possible that I have been stitching this piece for what is now going on six months. I won't be stitching Amy's next home study project but will look forward to finishing up the Christmas Banner and working on some other needlepoint projects. There are too many projects to name but you will certainly be seeing whatever I choose. Don't forget I am going to Amy's in May and will be working on another Christmas project while there.

I wanted to share with you a fun Easter/Spring wreath I put together this week. I found a really cute, quirky tubular mesh "ribbon" at one of my favorite stores and couldn't wait to find a way to use it. So I bought another flat mesh ribbon which I wrapped around a straw wreath form and made a big bow out of the tubular ribbons. A quick, fun wreath for the back door!  I hope there is a red and green version of this ribbon at Christmas - how much fun would that be?

I wrote about the Masters traditions that are such a part of this week for so many. A tradition that I have begun for myself is to collect small Russian Easter Egg charms to wear on a necklace. A local jeweler, Windsor Jewelers, brings in these small, handcrafted Russian eggs each year in the early Spring. I started my collection a few years ago and added another egg this week.

The center egg is my new addition to the collection. All of these pieces are individually handcrafted by Russian artisans now living in the US. The Russian gentleman who brings these to Augusta each year gave me the most interesting lesson on the different types of enameling that are used on these eggs. You can hear the pride in his voice as he describes the meticulous detail and craftsmanship that goes in to each piece. He has such a beautiful collection of eggs and it is so difficult to choose just the right one for my collection. I think I made a good choice this year!

I'm looking forward to lots of golf this week, Andrew and Anna arriving for Easter/birthday weekend, a family Easter dinner on Saturday night, and maybe an appearance by the Easter Bunny on Sunday morning. Hope you all have a wonderful Easter week and find a surprise awaiting you from the Easter Bunny on Easter morning!