Sunday, July 29, 2012

Birthday Surprises

I just celebrated one of those big birthdays this week. You know, one of those where you move from one number where you have been for a decade to a new number where you hope and pray to spend another decade. With the help and love of family and friends, my birthday was a wonderful occasion this past week.

My incredibly sweet Andrew and Anna treated me to a surprise stay at the Ponte Vedre Inn and Club at Ponte Vedre Beach, FL last weekend. I didn't find out what was planned until I was about to take the exit off I-295 to their place. Andrew called just in time and re-routed me to Ponte Vedre which is about 15 minutes from Jacksonville. I arrived to find myself already checked in to a fabulous beach front room with this incredible view.

The beach was literally at my doorstep! The weather couldn't have been more perfect. Hot and humid - but what do you  expect when at the beach?  I hadn't been in my room more than 30 minutes when my next surprise arrived - my brother! Andrew had gathered our small family together to celebrate my birthday weekend.

We had a fabulous meal at Ruth's Chris Friday evening and celebrated again with more friends and family at another surprise dinner on Saturday night. The surprises just continued throughout the weekend! Saturday we drove up the coast to Fernandina Beach so that I could make a stop at The Bristly Thistle.

I enjoyed seeing Michele's great shop as always and her beautifully stitched pieces that are displayed around the shop. I added a couple of canvases to the stash - Mehitabel, one of the Creepy Characters from NeedleDeeva, and one of Kelly Clark's Heritage Series Christmas ornaments. We finished up our trip to Fernandina with a tasty lunch across the street (the name of the restaurant escapes me) where I had a fried green tomato stack (tomatoes, goat cheese, and red pepper jam) and pulled pork spring rolls. Delicious!

My needlepoint companion for the weekend was this cutie pie from Melissa Shirley:

I am using a stitch guide by Carolyn Hedge Baird for the little July 4th girl. Carolyn has written a wonderful stitch guide for each of the children in this series. I believe the series came out a couple of years ago but are still available. I have a companion piece that has a little boy dressed like Uncle Sam holding a flag. I can't wait to stitch her curls and the big blue bow in her hair!

Continuing with the patriotic theme, my July 4th Parade canvas, stitch guide, and threads arrived from Amy's just in time for my birthday. I love it!

I want to put this on the stretcher bars - now! - but won't let myself until I am much further along with the Christmas parade canvas. But this was the incentive I needed to pick up the Christmas parade and get back to work on it.

I spent my Saturday working on Santa's coat. It is stitched in a lovely Bargello pattern. I'll post a better picture next week. Night time lighting leaves a lot to be desired. See that beautiful wooden, handcarved laying tool at the top of the canvas? A very special stitching friend sent that to me for my birthday. I will treasure it for many years to come!

Not only did I receive my July 4th Parade canvas this week but my Melissa Shirley Bloom canvas arrived as well. I bought it specifically as a companion piece to her Whimsy canvas which I purchased earlier this summer from Bestitched. The flowers within the letters are the same as those in the Whimsey canvas. I love the background stripes which are in pink, peach, and cream. Lots of fun to look forward to with these canvases!

And last, but certainly not least, I finished the Sunflower & Berries canvas! I absolutely loved this project. A NeedleDeeva canvas and a Robin King stitch guide make for a perfect piece of needlepoint. Robin's class at In Stitches in Atlanta in April was so much fun. I learned a lot and also got to meet so many of my blog and Facebook friends at the same time. Let's do it again!

So, that was my birthday week. Pretty good, wasn't it? I love my family and friends for making it such a special one!

And now the Olympics are here! Let the marathon Olympic stitching begin! What are you stitching during the Olympics? Can we reach the finish line on some of our projects?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Go Towards the Light

Purple has been the color of the week as I moved on to the border of Sunflower and Berries. I definitely got off to a slow and frustrating start. The slanted burden stitch is not a difficult one but the dark purple threads on a dark purple background add to the "burden" of stitching the border. These old eyes of mine just aren't up to dark threads on a dark background.

Once I realized that good lighting was going to be essential for me to be able to stitch this border, I moved my stitching to my office to take advantage of the late afternoon sun. It made all the difference for me. Between the bright, natural light and a my back-up stitching light, I finally started to see some progress on the border. Good thing my office is at home!

Now, it's three sides down and one to go. Hopefully I can wrap up this project this week. Once the border is finished all that remains are the ribbon petals on the sunflower. Maybe I can show you a finished piece next week!

I never get tired of looking at the stacked beads on the sunflower so here's one more picture of it in the late afternoon sun.

The latest little heart from Associated Talents was finished this week.

I liked the braided Memory Thread element. I had never thought about braiding it before now.

In the midst of my early week frustration with the purple border on Sunflower & Berries, I decided to put Kirk and Hamilton's Frog's Breath on the stretcher bars. I'm using a stitch guide by Amy Bunger.

I love the green ThreadWorx color that Amy chose for the bottle. I did have to laugh because of the black threads on the black background. There was just no escaping that scenario for me this week!

That's my news on the stitching front for this week. Hope you have a great week ahead!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Inching Towards Completion

This week I devoted all of my stitching attention to Sunflower and Berries. The end of this fun project is in sight and this week I was able to add a few of the fun elements to the canvas.

The first bit of fun to be added was the little sprinkle of orange sequins in the upper left of the canvas. When the light hits them, they really sparkle. Next came the two remaining strawberries.

The strawberries are stitched entirely with French knots on a piece of muslin in an embroidery hoop. Then you baste around the berry and cut it out. When you pull the basting threads together it gathers up the muslin under the berry giving it a nice rounded shape and then you stitch the berry to the canvas. This technique is known as stumpwork. It's fun and the strawberries add so much dimension to this piece. You'll have to try it sometime!

Speaking of dimension, just look at the stacked beads on the sunflower -

I absolutely love these stacked beads! It's like a little forest of beads on the canvas. Robin King, who wrote the stitch guide and selected the beads and threads, chose the most wonderful tortoise shell color for the beads that are used in the stack. They positively glow! Great choice, Robin!

It's time to turn my attention to the deep purple border. I'll be using a dark purple Kreinik and Splendor in the border. Nothing like dark threads on a dark background for aging eyes! I noticed that when I had my eyes checked this week that the phrase "as we age" was one that the optometrist used more than once. Hope the order for my new contacts arrives quickly!  I can use all the help I can get! The border is stitched with a Slanted Burden stitch. A Burden Stitch - hmmm, I hope the name doesn't imply that it will be a burden when it comes to stitching! It would be interesting to know how this stitch got its name.

The heat we endured last weekend was still with us for most of this week. It is slightly cooler this weekend - only in the upper 90s. Who would have thought that the upper 90s don't feel so terrible when compared to 105 degrees? I was looking at my poor hydrangeas this morning and noticed the scorched areas along the edges of the leaves. I have two small crepe myrtles in large pots on the patio and their leaves are scorched as well. We have had a couple of thunderstorms this week but the storms produced mostly wind and thunder and very little rain. I was really concerned the evening of the 4th when one of my neighbors down the street put on his own fireworks show for about an hour.  Everything is so dry but luckily he didn't cause any problems with all the sparks flying everywhere.

Hope you get to stitch in a nice cool place this week!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sizzling in Dixe

What a hot weekend it was! If you live in the Midwest or on the East coast that isn't news to you. Friday afternoon the temperature started to creep up above the 100 degree mark and by Saturday afternoon it was in the 106-107 degree range. On Sunday afternoon, the storm clouds rolled in and dropped the temperatures into the 80s but I only received about 10 drops of rain. I had lots of wind and thunder but no rain. Today, Monday, is a little better - we haven't made it over 100 - yet. Hope you survived this heat wave with your electricity and air conditioning intact!

This past week I concentrated on NeedleDeeva's Sunflower & Berries canvas. It just seems like perfect summer stitching. I ought to be stitching Christmas Parade with all its snowy scenery and thinking cool thoughts as I stitch, but the Sunflower canvas keeps calling out to me.

I finished the Confetti Ribbon background and moved on to finishing up all of the leaves and most of the vines. Just about everything I stitched toward the end of the week was green. I'm looking forward to beginning the stacked beading on the sunflower this week. That will be a nice change of pace!

My "cat-in-the-lap" stitching this week is a heart from Associated Talents.

It's so much fun to have a small project like this to work on. My cat thinks it's pretty wonderful to sleep in my lap in the evenings so she's happy that I have these kind of small projects to work on, too. Nothing gets in the way of her being in my lap.

These are the contents of the little package I received in the mail this week. Can you guess who it's from?

These are from Jody Williamson Valentine's Etsy shop. The patriotic piece measures about 7" x 7". If you are looking for some wonderfully patriotic small ornaments, be sure to check out my link to Jody's Etsy shop. I dare you not to buy something! As you can see, I also bought a St.Patrick's Day ornament. Stitching it should help me use up all those green threads I have left over from the Christmas Banner. Jody also included two random colors of DMC floss and a red, white, and blue lollipop. It was all beautifully wrapped in blue tissue with red and white ribbon.

The blog is a little late being posted because I was having fun all weekend with my daughter-in-law, Anna. Andrew had to work all weekend so Anna drove up to Augusta and the two of us had a girls' weekend. We shopped in the 105 degree temps on Saturday, watched a great movie on DVD - The Waitress - (Have you seen it? It was wonderful!), watched Olympic Trial swimming and gymnastics, ate out, and just generally enjoyed our time together. I was so sorry to see her leave yesterday but look forward to seeing her and Andrew in two weeks when I go down to Jacksonville.

Hope we all see (and feel) cooler temperatures this week! Have a wonderful 4th and enjoy the fireworks!