Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Doctor is in the House

Look who arrived just in time for dinner tonight - Dr. Acula! And how appropriate that he arrived right at dusk! It made his emergence from the coffin box much more comfortable than if he had arrived in broad daylight.

The thread kit gives us hints of the fun to come with this character. I'm looking forward to reading through the stitch guide tonight, deciding where to start, and sorting out all of the threads I will use from previous kits. I laughed out loud when I read the special notice from the Halloweenies Construction Union and Monsters Incorporated that was enclosed with Dr. Acula. Basically, those of us in the union are asking for shorter stitching days and more time off around certain holidays. So it looks like we will be taking the month of November off and returning to construction on the Haunted House in December. Also, there will be a 5th phase to the Haunted House which will extend our home study into March. I fully support the Union's efforts on our part (and I'm not particularly fond of unions!). Now, if they can just work out a way to get some health insurance for me...

A shout out to Linda at Stitching Sisters, I saw your Stirha and Frank finished pieces in Amy's September newsletter and they look incredible! Great stitching! I know you will be excited to get them home. I can hardly wait for my two characters to come back from their time on the west coast.

The Doctor is calling to me and says he needs to stretch his legs after his journey from Tennessee and I need to gather my garlic and crucifixes before I go to bed tonight - just in case.

Good night, all!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hugs & Kisses

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Here in Georgia we had a hint of the change of season that's ahead. We had some comfortable temperatures - upper 80's and lower 90's - still not exactly cool but when the humidity isn't so high, the lower 90's are comfortable compared to just a few weeks ago. I enjoyed my morning tea out on the patio on Sunday and did the same this morning. It was a welcome change!

I made more progress on XOXO this weekend than I anticipated. It works up very quickly. The walnettos are completed as are the hearts. Tonight I'll be working on another trame stitch in the second red area.

I have laid one direction of diagonal stitches and will lay the opposite direction in just a little bit and then begin to fill in with the other design elements. This is a great size for a small project. Just about the time I was getting tired of stitching those walnettos, I was finished. The next section of hearts took no time at all.

I promised you a look at the mystery vine that is growing behind my stitching chair. It's hanging in there although this afternoon the topmost leaves are starting to wilt. Whatever source of moisture there has been for this vine must be drying up. It has been about two weeks since I first noticed it growing back there.

The newlyweds are coming for a visit this weekend. Anna is coming up a little ahead of Andrew so we will have some nice "girl time" before he gets here. Andrew has to deliver a car back to BMW in Spartanburg, SC on Saturday so we will follow him up there and then we'll all run up to Asheville for a brief afternoon visit. I haven't been to Asheville in a couple of years and it's just one of my favorite places to go.

Looking forward to meeting Dr. Acula this week. I think he's still riding around in the big brown truck.

Keep stitching!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stirha and Frank Say Hello from San Francisco!

No, they aren't home yet but I received a phone call this afternoon from Marlene in San Francisco. Stirha and Frank wanted to say hello and to let me know that they would be home in a couple of weeks. They have been visiting with Marlene as they wait to be "finished". Marlene has a wonderful plan for them that involves beautiful silks and cording. We both felt that going the understated route for finishing suits these two as they both have lots of embellishments already and we don't want to take away from that. Stirha and Frank are in agreement. I'm excited that the wait is almost over and can't wait to share pictures of the handsome couple when they return from San Francisco.

The Walnettos continue on XOXO this weekend. The Walnettos sounds like a family of trapeze artists in the circus, don't they?

I'm thinking of signing up for the ANG Cyberworkshop by Orna Willis. It's called Square Dance and you can see it here on the ANG website. I haven't done any counted thread needlework in a long time and this looks like fun. Anybody else thinking about signing up for this one?

I'll leave you with a picture of my Little Girl and some needlepoint pillows on my bed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Construction Grinds to a Halt

I put aside the Haunted House last night as Phases 2 and 3 slowly ground to a halt. I confess that I had my doubts as to whether I would finish this project when I picked it back up at the beginning of August. But, here we are at the end of August, and I am pleasantly surprised with the progress I made during the month. There is still a lot of work to be done but I can now see this as a finished project towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year. I have put the House aside in preparation for the arrival of Dr. Acula in September and W. Herr Wolff in October. Work on the Haunted House will begin again in November.

I rooted around in the stash last night in search of something small and fun to stitch while I wait for Dr. Acula. This is what I found.

This is the XOXO canvas (or Hugs & Kisses) from & more (& more is the name of the design company).  The stitch guide is by Julia Key H. Snyder.  I bought the canvas, threads, and stitch guide from Amy's back in January not realizing that Halloween was about to completely take over my stitching time. You can see a finished example of this on Amy's website. This pillow was beautifully stitched by Jill.  There are two red panels that are worked in trame stitches and two white panels that are worked in a darning pattern and a blackwork pattern. The XOXO in the middle is worked with gold beads.

Last night I laid the horizontal and vertical stitches on the left red panel and today I began adding the Walnettos over the intersections.  Do you know what a Walnetto is? Me either, but I added some to the canvas.

This will be a fun distraction for the next couple of days. It seems my stitching has a holiday theme this year. In January, I finished another canvas by & more. I loved working the Merry Christmas canvas.

Take a minute and look at the two finished examples of this canvas on Amy's website. I think my Needlepoint Study Hall friend, Peggy, stitched one of those Merry Christmas canvases. If you follow the link, you will also see the Boo canvas. I foresee stitching that one, too. Although, it will have to wait until the Halloweenies are over and done with.

Mystery vine update: The mystery vine growing behind my stitching chair is alive and well. I forgot to take a picture for you, but if it's still around by the weekend, I'll post a picture. It's looking healthy and has grown some.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend everyone. I'll see you soon -

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Construction Update

I feel like I accomplished a lot on the Haunted House this week. I finished up the ironwork on the rooftop and was pleased with the effect. I think I am getting more accomplished on this project now that I have both Kit 2 and Kit 3 to work with or maybe I just had too much going on in May to devote time to the House.

The work around the front door was started and finished while I watched The Gladiator last night. At least I watched one good movie this weekend. I made the mistake of ordering Valentine's Day and The Bounty Hunter on Pay per View. Both are extremely forgettable but did serve to pass the time while I stitched. As a result, the brick foundation on the left is completed and this afternoon I added the dirt and the iron fence posts.

While I wait for Dr. Acula to arrive, I may finish the brick foundation and fence posts on the right side of the house.

I'm enjoying the little glimpses of the Dr. Acula canvas that Peggy has been posting on Needlepoint Study Hall. I think he's going to be a fun challenge. I won't be sorry to go back to working on a smaller canvas. The Haunted House has done a number on my neck so I'm off to the chiropractor in the morning to get everything back in alignment.

Hope your stitching goes well this week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Science Experiment or Poor Housekeeping?

I sat down to stitch late this afternoon and noticed this behind my stitching chair. I swear it wasn't there yesterday!

I should probably be embarrassed but I think it's kind of funny. This plant is growing out of the carpet on an outside wall in my den. The den used to be a screened porch that was turned into a more usable space at some point. There's brick tile under the carpet. I went outside to see if there was anything visibly growing from the outside. Unfortunately, there isn't. So I guess that means that my housekeeping skills are in question.

What shall I do with my new plant? Let it grow or rip it out? Just for the heck of it, I think I'll let it grow.

Maybe this is a sign I should vacuum behind my stitching chair.

Last night as I was working on the ironwork on the Haunted House's roof, my Little Girl was anxious to get in my lap.  This is her look that says "you're not seriously going to make me sit over here by myself, are you?"


Typically, she got what she wanted. Little Girl is an inside/outside kitty. Yesterday she tried to gift me  with a rather large field mouse that she caught. I suppose she thought that we would have fun chasing the mouse through the house. Fortunately, I was able to close the door in her face before she could deliver the gift. I think she must have just stunned the mouse because it scooted away when she put it down. She keeps checking out the plants by the back door where she put it down. I guess she thinks it's still in there.  Another time I'll tell you about how she adopted me a few years ago.

If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, send help, I may have been swallowed up by the mystery vine!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rooftop Construction

I felt like there was little progress on the Haunted House this week until I started working on the roof this weekend. I didn't get to stitch every night this past week but the nights that I did, I worked on the two stone arches on the left on the first floor. One night was spent putting them in, one night taking them out, and one night putting them back in.  I'm hoping that at some point the arches will be covered in Study Hall and I can see how to improve upon what I have stitched. Here's a photo of them - if anyone who has already stitched these areas sees something that I am doing wrong, please let me know! They just don't look like the ones in the photos that come with the kits!


This weekend I decided to incorporate some of Kit #3 into my stitching and moved up to the roof to stitch some of the framework and ledges. After the frustration of the stone arches earlier in the week, it was nice to have some mindless Satin stitches to work on. I worked a little this afternoon on the ironwork above the larger shingled area of the roof and the chimney. Since this involves stitching black on black, I may wait until better natural light to go back to it. We have had a cloudy, thundery afternoon today so not much in the way of good, natural light this afternoon.

I did take one evening to finish a book by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Silva. His new book, The Rembrandt Affair, is another exciting novel involving Gabriel Allon, an Israeli intelligence officer (spy!) who is also a master art restorer. This fast-paced thriller takes us from Cornwall to Amsterdam to London to Argentina to Tel Aviv to Geneva and back to Cornwall on the trail of a stolen Rembrandt and the secrets it has to reveal about its fascinating history from the outbreak of World War II up to its recent theft from an art restorer's studio. I've probably read five or six of Silva's books and all of them have me putting aside other things until I can finish the book. 

Hope you all have a good week and get in some quality stitching time!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Masonry Work

 This weekend saw a lot of masonry work and a little carpentry work completed at the Haunted House.  If I wasn't sleeping or eating, I was stitching this weekend. Saturday morning I showered and put on a fresh pair of pajamas and did nothing the rest of the day but stitch, eat, nap, stitch, grill out, eat, stitch, and go to bed. What a great day! Today wasn't much different although there was no nap and I did actually get dressed! I had gone to the grocery store on Friday and stocked up for the weekend and there was nothing I had to do yesterday or today and nowhere I had to be.

Friday night and Saturday I worked on the brick chimney. The detail work on the bricks is tedious but, as is always the case, worth the effort. The small details do make a difference. I started on the foundation bricks this afternoon. It moves along more slowly than the chimney because of the stopping and starting caused by the wrought iron fence posts. It's hard to get a rhythm going.

I also finished the door with the exception of the hardware. The door stitched up quickly and was a nice change of pace from the detail of the bricks.  The Haunted House door reminds me of my own front door. My door needs almost as much work as the one at the Haunted House - it's in need of some serious re-finishing.

I also stitched the cupola stone roof with the raised leaf on top (the roof area in front of the moon). The cupola was my initial attempt at raised stem stitch. It looks ok to me but not having used this stitch before, I don't know if it looks as it should. What do you think? Should the rows of raised stem be more tightly packed? I had some trouble with the raised leaf design. The last three or four stitches wanted to slide off the top if I put to much tension on the thread so I put very little tension on the top stitches so that they sort of stacked on top of each other. I hope that was the correct way to stitch it. The bas relief Celtic cross was fairly easy although it required two attempts at it to satisfy me. Hope I didn't waste too much thread trying to get these two features right.


Tonight, I may take a break from the bricks and do some easy stitching on the windows. I would love to hear how others are doing with their Haunted Houses. 

Have a good week!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Slow - Construction Zone

I sat down last night and took stock of where I am with the Haunted House - the ongoing project in the Halloweenie series.  Here's a photo of the house as Phase 3 begins:

Phase 3 may be starting but I am still in middle of Phase 2. There's lots to be done - lots of raised stem stitch, bricks, bats, windows. I think I will begin with the bricks. I read over the stitch guide for them last night and also went back to Study Hall and read through the posts from May when we were all working on the house.               

Since the last time I worked on the house, I have, in the meantime, purchased a copy of Amy's DVD Spiders and More, Volume 8 in the How'd You Do That? series. There is a section on the DVD in which she discusses the Raised Stem Stitch - it's very helpful to actually watch someone demonstrate this stitch this in front of you. This stitch will be used on the balustrade and the arches over the windows. There's a lot of balustrade to be stitched and quite a few arched windows.

Time to get the hard hat and my tool bag out -

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All Dressed and Ready to Wed

Laughing Jack, our Zombie Grum'e, is finally dressed and ready for his wedding day. Bridezilla has been impatiently tapping her foot and is none to happy that Chelsea Clinton managed to get married before she did. I'll let them see each other later tonight after her Groom comes off the stretchers.

I got on a stitching tear last night and finished up the background. The Closer and Real Housewives of New Jersey kept me company. My cat, Little Girl, finally gave up on trying to sit in my lap and spent the evening sleeping in "her" chair on her special blanket. She'll be as happy as Bridezilla tonight that the Groom has been finished. More lap time for her!

I love the shredded tatters of his coat. It was a very easy technique with lots of effect. You get the idea of the shredded coat in photos but it's so much better in person.

Later tonight I'll take stock of where I am (or where I'm not) with the Haunted House. I've only finished one window and have done none of the bricks, bats, or balustrades. Makes me wonder what I did during the month of May. I know there were visits to Jacksonville and lots of preparation for Andrew and Anna's wedding - and my work - so there must not have been much energy left to stitch. No matter, I did get to play with the glitter glue for the moon and stitch the moon's face. That was fun!

The next time I post I'll have some pictures of the Haunted House. Any of you out there stitching this piece?  

Thank heavens for Bravo - Rachel Zoe Project starts a new season tonight!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Closing In

Finally - some progress this weekend on the Groom. It was a long, hard week on all fronts last week and by day's end there wasn't a lot of energy to devote to my stitching. But, I tried to make up for it on Saturday and Sunday. As you can see, I've moved on to the double wedding ring background for the Groom.

Once I got past the early frustration of the green background behind the skulls, the bottom border moved along quickly. Our little friend, Rhett, didn't take too long to complete nor did the cane. It shouldn't take too long to finish the background and the tattered shreds of the coat. Hopefully by mid-week my Groom can join his Bridezilla as they wait for their turn to go to the finisher.

Late this week, the next stitch guide and threads arrived for the Haunted House from Amy's. You haven't seen any photos of my house but I'll post some later in the week.  I have done so little on this project in the last couple of months. I like the project a lot, but it's just so large! Maybe I can be more diligent in my work on it this month. Amy has some wonderful stitches with great effects planned for us in this installment. A little surprise was included in the shipment this month - a handy, pop-up fan with Amy's logo. Thanks, Amy!

Speaking of Amy's, their August newsletter had lots of fun things to read about. Robin, you do such a great job putting that together every month. I know it's a lot of work! I enjoyed reading about Jill's phone conversation with Barbara Bush. I know she received excellent service as we all do from everyone at Amy's and I hope she will be a frequent customer for them. Also, it was great to see the Dr. Acula canvas. It's a given that Amy will wow us with what she has planned for him. 

Time to get back to the double wedding rings. Have a good week, everyone! How can it already be August?