Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Location for My Blog

If you have come here on purpose or by accident please join me in my new location which is Sylvia's Life's a Stitch. In order to coordinate my gmail account with my blogger account I had to move to a new URL. I hope you will join me there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

12 Stitches a Day at Work

As I mentioned in an earlier post Gay Ann Rodgers challenges her students to do at least 12 stitches a day on her projects and I have extended that to my stitching in general. I decided to take one of my WIPs to work and stitch 12 stitches a day on this project every work day. I try to do this as soon as I came in while I am having my morning coffee. This way if life happens and I get no stitching time at home during the week I have done at least some stitching on a project. Because this project is painted canvas and I am doing it entirely in tent stitch it is easy to pick up and put down. Here is how I have set up my work space. Since there are only 7 skeins of Impressions fibers I took a LoRan project card and attached 1 inch rings through each hole and each skein. When I need a new length I can just pull it without detaching the fiber and cut the length I want. Then i thread my needle and go. The project is small enough to prop against the wall and is next to my phone and where my laptop is docked ( it is to the right of the phone. So I can even do a few stitches when I am on the phone. I feared this project would become a UFO but by putting in my office I will work on it regularly. I estimate that it will take a couple of years to finish it but it is very gratifying to see the ongoing progress on this piece.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stitch of the Month Year- to-Date

As soon as I joined ANG in January of this year I began to stitch the 'Stitch of the Month' mystery project. I didn't care for all the colors the instructor selected so I spent about 4 hours over 3 trips to my LNS selecting alternate colors and fibers.I wanted to select fibers available to me in the store and not order them online. Therefore I had to make a number of substitutions. Now this is more difficult when you have no idea what the entire design looks like. Initially I decided to stay with the same shade of red the designer used but substituted different fibers. I then selected a dark green and a medium blue. After stitching the March installment I decided I didn't like the blue and ripped the blue all out. I replaced the blue with a cream color.  Here is the design stitched through July.

Here is a close up of the June and July section. I am really enjoying stitching on this and want to keep going but I will just have to wait until the August installment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July SBQ

1. Do I stitch because I want to be alone or do I end up being alone because I stitch? This a paraphrase of the question but gets to the heart of it. When I began to stitch ten years ago I did it to keep my hands busy during long faculty meetings. While I like to grab some quiet time with my stitching I also stitch in a variety of different settings such as soccer games, waiting for an appointment, or by myself in my stitching chair. So I would say neither statement is true for me. I do  however find it relaxing at the end of a busy day or first thing in the morning to sit quietly and stitch and reflect on what ever is currently going on in my life.

2. What are the characteristics of my ideal stitching group?
Ideally I would like the group:
  • to have a mix of ages
  • have light but fun conversation ( not gossip) 
  • or discuss current issues
  • and  feel comfortable enough to share our stories
  • feel free to help each other
  • share ideas and techniques
  • laugh a lot
  • celebrate together
  • meet either in a shop or a public meeting space
I like the idea of it being like the old fashion quilting bees you read about.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

12 Stitches a Day

I recently joined the Shining Needle Society . One of the instructors,  Gay Ann Rodgers gives us a weekly assignment with the intention of  keeping us moving forward on her projects but she is extending to the entire SNS student community. The challenge is simply stitch 12 stitches each and every day.  I decided to take that a step further. I took one of my painted canvas WIPs to work and started stitching 12 stitches per day sometime during the day. This is such a beautifully painted canvas that it is hard to tell where I have stitched but if you look closely you will see I have worked on the outer blue border and the inner blue border. I am stitching this piece with Caron Impressions and I love the way this fiber handles and looks in this design. I am doing this design entirely in tent stitch. This piece has been put aside for more urgent projects but this way I will make slow but sure progress. I will also do 12 stitches a day at home on my focus project of the day.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Walk with me...

I decided to lose weight and to mange this through exercise and good eating habits. OK now that you have had a good laugh pick yourself up off the floor and read on. If you have never worked at a university you don't know what you are missing. The pace of life slows down a bit and you have time to form new habits. While on vacation I decided that instead of going to the gym to walk on the thread mill I would walk around the campus early each morning instead. On Tuesday, I headed out with water bottle in hand for my first walk. While listening to Northanger Abbey I walked and decided to share my campus with you by taking a picture or two each day that I walk. Since it was just after 4th of July here is a picture of the students artistic expression.

This rock gets repainted on almost a daily basis throughout the year so you will probably see it again. By the way my first walk was lovely.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Something New and Something Old

 Each Thursday night of the month there is a stitch night at my LNS and each has a different theme. The first Thursday is hardanger. I decided I wanted to learn more about this type of needlework so I picked a project, collected the necessary fabric and fiber and went to learn about kloster blocks and the blanket stitch. After frogging the first attempt because I miscounted ( I only did four stitches in each kloster block) I ended up with the following. This is the beginning of a Christmas ornament in the current JCS Ornament Preview issue. Next month I will learn how to do woven bars and dove's eyes.

I also decided to go back to a long time WIP and finish it this month.This is the third part of Chatelaine's original  Mini Mandala. For some reason I have been struggling to finish this one. I think it is because I don't like some of the colors yet when I see a picture of a completed one I love the way it looks. I have to remember that how colors look are impacted by what colors they are next to. So I have put all my new starts aside and I am going to finish this WIP so I can have the three piece set framed. I started working on the set about 6 years ago and on this one in January of 2009. I worked on it for a month and then put it away until this spring when I did a little work on it and again put it away in favor of some new counted canvas and needlework projects. In going through all my stash and WIPs I decided I really want to finish it so I started on it again yesterday. Except for stitching night at my LNS I will focus on this piece for the rest of July.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inch by Inch...

Here is the latest progress on my lavender Blue Celtic Knot. I am having trouble getting the right lighting but I have added the next three bands around. Two are in Caron Water Colours Abalone and the outside band is in DMC Perle Cotton # 5 - color 327. The next band to go in will be in Caron Water Colours Delphinium which is a very pale blue with hints of pink. I am about 40% done and I am really enjoying stitching this one. I discovered today that if my lengths of DMC Perle Cotton are too long by the time I get toward the end it has lost its sheen and gotten fuzzy from rubbing against the canvas each time you make a stitch. I have been using 36 inch lengths so I am going to cut them in half and use 18 inch lengths. It makes for more starts and stops but there will be less wear on the fibers that way. I had to take part of it out and redo it because it looked so fuzzy so it is probably better to have more starts and stops. You learn as you go.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My first projects with yarn

One of my goals for the year was to learn to knit. I started by taking an evening course ( 4 lessons) through continuing education at the local high school. I wasn't satisfied with what I learned there and took out a series of lessons on DVD and bought a learn to knit book from Michaels. With these tools for guidance I made my first project, a stegosaurus scarf for my daughter.   I used Classic Shades by Universal yarn which is a wool/acrylic blend in colorway 707. You won't find this yarn in stores like JoAnns or Michaels. I was on a trip with my husband and went into a knitting store and found it there.

I have now moved onto a prayer shawl for my sister in law. I am using the same type of yarn but in colorway 702. This is a simple knit three-purl three pattern using number 10 needles and 81 stitches cast on.  I am getting lots of practice equalizing my tension, counting, adding another skein of yarn and correcting mistakes. When I  have a chance I will add a picture of how the shawl looks so far. I have completed 112 rows and am about 20% done.

I also wanted to learn to crochet. I decided to look up local knitting shops and it turned out one of them has classes in knitting and crochet. I took a half day beginning crochet class and then went home to practice. I decided to make a lap throw for my dad. When I took the class I selected yarn for the class that I decide to use for the throw. So I went back and bought more skeins of yarn.  Now I am also practicing my crochet techniques. I tried to make a granny square and I did not like the way it turned out so I doing this lap throw with double crochet only.

I am so happy I found this shop. they are very helpful, have a beautiful selection of yarn and wonderful instructors. The classes are also very reasonably priced. I will go back for more lessons when I am ready to learn more techniques of crochet or knitting.

If you are just getting started a useful website is Ravelry ( There are forums for help and the ability to keep track of your projects in your own project notebook. I have also invested in an app for my iPhone called KnitBuddy which helps me keep track of all my projects needlework projects.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Week End Progress

Over the weekend I got to work on Lavender Blue Celtic Quilt. I finished the helix, the light blue border around it and the purple border around that.  This is a fun piece. The purple is DMC #327 perle cotton #5. The rest are Caron Water Colors in Abelone, Delphinium, and Night Sky.  This is stitching up quickly. I just haven't had much time to work on it. If you want to see the before picture it is in this post.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Stitching Bloggers Question - June

Each month Lake Stitcher  will pose a question for each of us to answer either in your own blog or as a comment on her blog. You may also post your answer as a comment to my blog if you choose.  This month the SBQ is:

Tell us about something that you have stitched or plan to stitch for any father in your life.  Maybe it’s for your father, your father-in-law, your children's father, your grandfather, your godfather, or someone who was or still is an important father-figure in your life.  Why did you choose this particular piece of stitching?   Tell us the story behind it.

The only father I have done any stitching for is my husband. I have done four pieces for him. The first one I did for him was in recognition of his favorite pastime for the last 9 years, golf. When my husband undertakes to learn a sport it becomes a consuming passion. This is what happened when at the age of 50 he decided to give up his every day basketball league in favor of a sport that was less demanding on his joints. Our 11 year old son had just been to golf camp,  introduced him to the sport, and a local legend was born. In recognition of his passion for playing golf and becoming good at it I stitched him a small design called "I love Golf"from an issue of Just Cross Stitch Magazine. It was his father's day gift in 2004.

  And because a simple one part question is never adequate, let’s go some more:
Often times we identify our love of needlework and our skills with our mothers or grandmothers or other women.  It’s understandable because often they were are first teachers or role models.  Now let’s think about our stitching life as it relates to our dads.  Is there anything about our approach to stitching that we can recognize as traits of our fathers?  For instance, does your dad (or any other important man in your life) have an approach to one of his interests that you can observe and think, “Hey….if I substitute the word “needlework” for “fly fishing”, we’d be pretty darn similar!”  So tell us about it.

My dad has been involved with electronics most of his adult life. He is meticulous and organized whenever he was building some electronic quizmo. I spent many hours as a teenager watching him work on the delicate small components and learned much from him about how to plan a project, collect your materials and tools, set up your work location, working carefully and precisely, and cleaning up when the project was done. Much of this knowledge applies very well to my needlework and I use it everyday. His other  axiom was "measure twice cut once" for household projects. This is a practice I employ in cutting fabric but also in checking my stitching where you often need to count twice before proceeding.  

Saturday, June 05, 2010

SBQ Project or Process Stitcher

I found this question on Just String but it is from Lake Stitcher.

Now….to the Question:

Suppose we say that there are two types of stitchers.

There are those who enjoy the “process” of stitching. They stitch for stitching’s sake and if something gets finished, so much the better, but it’s not necessarily the end goal. Primarily, it’s the application of needle and thread to cloth that makes them happiest.

Then there are those who are “project” stitchers. They move steadily through their projects, certainly enjoying their stitching time, but finding their greatest joy in the completed stitching.

If you had to pick one to describe yourself, which type of stitcher would you be? I imagine that we could all say that we fall somewhere in between, but really think hard about this and try to pick just one. And once you’ve decided whether you’re a Process or Project stitcher, tell us if your recognize that approach in other parts of your life.

My immediate reaction to this question is to say I am a Project Stitcher because I usually stitch a piece for some purpose. However upon reflection I realize how much joy I get out of the process. I love the change in the feel and weight of the fabric as more and more stitches are applied. I enjoy watching the design emerge from something vague and out of focus to a clear representation of the designer's vision. I look forward to the time spent in my stitching chair so I can relax. And as a process stitcher I don't mind having a number of projects on the go at the same time, moving from one to the other to enjoy different types of stitches and techniques as my mood dictates.

As for other parts of my life I believe I am the same. I have a process for most things that I do and I enjoy moving through that process. That goes for everything from creating a new lecture to cleaning my house. I am more focused in following through on my methodology and doing a project the way I want from the start than on the finishing of it. However, I am good at getting to completion but that is not the fun part.

Finishes and Starts

May was a very busy month both at home, at work, and in my needlework.
It was the end of the quarter so there was lots of grading. There was graduation to prepare for which meant practicing the pronunciation of over 100 names since I got to announce the graduates for the first time this year. Our fiscal year ends at the end of June so the budget has to be closely monitored. The faculty are getting ready to leave for the summer so I had to plan and facilitate our faculty retreat. At the end of the retreat I treated the faculty to ice cream, congratulated them on another successful year and waved goodbye as they headed into their summer break.
The busier I got at work the more I needed my needlework to relax me. I knitted and crocheted. I did cross stitch and needlepoint. I finished two projects, started two projects, and continued to make progress on others.

I finished a needlepoint Heart for my ANG chapter outreach project. I am new to needlepoint and this is the first project I have done without a stitching guide. I was really unsure how to go about it so I started to browse through Suzy's Portable Stitches ( an iphone app) which is also available in regular book format. I scrolled through the stitches trying to see what new stitch I could learn that would suit the shape of this project. What I selected is called the diagonal oriental variation. It allowed me to move across the heart from lower right to upper left on a diagonal I also picked a Caron Water Colour called geranium. Since it is variegated I was able to move from that through to a deeper color ( 815) in Perle #5 at the left hand side of the heart and use yet another Perle # 5 to stitch the pink ribbon in the middle.

I also finished stitching for a biscornu for my Cyber-Stitchers chapter. The chapter members stitched over 200 biscornu for a regional S-A-S that is happening later this month. I was happy I could donate one. I unfortunately was in such a hurry to get it in the mail that I forgot to take a picture. However the pattern I used was Teresa Wentzler's Beginner's White Work freebie stitched in ecru on a coffee colored linen just as it is shown here from her web site.

I started an lap throw for my father this month to practice my newly developing skill in crochet. I took a beginner class in April and decided to make this project with my new skill.

On Memorial Day weekend I also started a new needlepoint project titled Lavender Blue Celtic Quilt by Nancy Buhl from Nancy's Needle. This isn't a great picture but you can see what I accomplished in two days of stitching. I am stitching this on 18 count canvas in a light blue. The fibers are a combination of one # 5 perle cotton and four different Caron Watercolours in shades of blue, green and lavender. It was a wonderful month all around and I am looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in June.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Callaway Gardens

I am spending time everyday exploring the world of needle arts online. I am finding out about new to me organizations like the National Academy of Needle Arts. What I found on Wednesday is what appears to be an extraordinary retreat /seminar event. Since it is new to me it may be new to you also. It is called The Callaway School of Needle Arts and is held in a resort like setting that looks wonderful for two weeks every January. The 2011 School information is up on the web and if you are interested you can find more information here. If I were going to go I would have a hard time selecting among the wonderful classes. This is an example of one of the pieces that appeals to me called "Frankie. It is unlikely that I will go since I teach and it is hard to break away in January. It is so nice to day dream about it though. January is also a great time to travel from the northeast to some place warmer even though Atlanta is not always that much warmer than upstate NY in January. The school is located southeast of Atlanta. Yes I Google mapped it. So take a look and see another wonderful place to learn more and share your passion for needlework with others.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Progress on My 2010 Needlework Goals

Although it is late to be posting a news years message I like to start at the beginning. I thought for quite a while that I would not blog again. I got discouraged because it was not interactive like the Bulletin Boards I participate on. But there is great value to writing down your journey in an orderly fashion.

My Needlework Goals for 2010 are as follows:
  1. Complete seven projects
  2. Learn new stitches and techniques
  3. Finish 10 of my completed projects
  4. Learn to Knit and knit a prayer shawl
  5. Learn to crochet and make a lap throw
  6. purchase a project in each place we visit
  7. Rotate in my new projects
  8. Visit and join either EGA or ANG or both
  9. Do at least one RAK
  10. Take one or two needlework classes
At this point, almost half way through the year let's see how I am doing:
  1. I have completed 1 project so far this year. I really need to step it up.
  2. I have learned new stitches such as the four scotch stitch, the diagonal oriental variation, The elongated cashmere, and a few more. The ANG mystery introduces me to at least one new stitch each month.
  3. I have joined my local ANG chapter and the EGA CyberStitchers.
  4. I have sent a RAK to my EGA chapter for door prizes.
  5. I am taking an ANG course on Color
  6. I have learned basic knitting and I am making a prayer shawl for my SIL.
  7. I have learned basic crochet and started a throw for my father.
  8. So far I have purchased at least one project from each place we visit.
  9. I have been adding in new projects but I need to also finish some.
  10. As another RAK I am making a heart for my ANG chapter outreach project

I have a long way to go if I want to complete all my goals but I am making good progress on them.

There just doesn't seem to be enough time to finish all I want to. However if I focus on some of these projects I have started I will have something to show.

What about you? How are you doing against your 2010 goals?