Monday, December 5, 2011

Tirol Haus in Williamsburg, Virginia

My husband and I are here for the Grand Illumination and we're having a great time. The colonial area was really crowded but everyone seemed to be in a good mood. The rest of the weekend has been filled with some shopping and eating out. Before we left home I told Al that I had only two requirements, that we go slow while I am still recuperating and that I had to go to Tirol Haus needlework shop.

Tirol Haus is located in a shopping center that looks like a little village. There are a few restaurants open for lunch in the center and a McDonalds next to the complex. Drive around until you find the cheese shop at one end and you'll be near Tirol Haus. The cheese shop also sells good sandwiches and wine so plan to have lunch or an afternoon relaxation break on the same trip. There is a quilt shop and yarn shop and several antique stores in the same complex.

On entering the shop, I saw a lot of finished models. Marilyn Levitt Imblum and Nora Corbett designs are about one-third of the models, more current samplers are another third, and a variety of other designs are the last third. On display is the Marbek Nativity which I've never seen anywhere else. After dragging my eyes from the wall, I saw that the shop was clean and really well organized. One end has a few collectibles but the rest of the space is for needlework. There is a really good selection of precut fabric from ornament cuts all the way to fat quarters, from Aida to fine-count linen. There are several spinner racks of various threads. I saw Weeks Dye Works, Gentle Art Sampler Threads, Au Ver A Soie, Cresent Colors, Rainbow Gallery and Threadworx. There were a very few canvas pieces, mostly Christmas related. They carry stretcher bars and hoops but not Qsnaps. While there are few kits I got the sense that beginner stitchers are welcome and will receive help getting started. The shop was really busy because the Just Cross Stitch Williamsburg group was in for the weekend but the employees still took the time each customer needed.

I want to thank my husband for being so patient. I spent 1 1/2 hours in the shop and he didn't complain at all. But then he decided to walk from Williamsburg to Jamestown, a mere 11.5 miles, and I had to drive out to pick him up so we're even now, honey.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flower Power

Several months ago I began work on "Flower Power" by Crossed Wing Collection. I'm stitching it on 32 count hand-dyed linen made up just for this design by Crossed Wing. The finished piece will be about 21 by 36 inches, so it's another monster project. Here is a link to the designer's description, just click on "Flower Power." I worked on it for, hmm, maybe three months and then had to work on something else.

I recently started working on it again. Here's where I was a few days ago. This design is actually six large charts. I've completed most of the two center ones and am stitching the lower right chart now. The fabric is on 11-inch Q-snaps so you can see it's pretty big. I'm really enjoying this. There are several different flowers with different palettes, several hummingbirds that use metallic thread along with the DMC, and insects stitched over 1 thread for extra detail. My usual pattern is to work on a big project for a while and then abruptly get sick of it and switch to another project. In the stitching world that's called "rotation." I "rotate" quite a bit, but only my needlework, not my family, no matter how tempted I am.

Anyway, here are some closeups of the wildlife I've already completed:

This is the Ruby-throated hummingbird looking into Day lilies. Like all the hummers, he's stitched over two threads. He has red metallic on his throat and green on his back and head so he shimmers just like his living counterparts.

Here is a Monarch butterfly sitting on a Shasta Daisy. The insects are stitched over one thread, so this little guy is about 2000 cross stitches and is about 1-1/2 inch across.

This is Anna's hummingbird, stitched over two threads. Next to him is the Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly stitched over one. He's just under one inch across.

And here is the Painted Lady clinging to a Day lily leaf. Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Soldier Kissing Pillows

Because I've been mostly on my back with my foot up, I've been working on simple projects like the Soldier Kissing Pillows. It takes 2 hours to stitch each pillow top and I've completed twenty-three with another ten in process for a total of at least fifty hours of work. Assuming my speed is fairly average, the 4000+ pillows already collected by my chapter comes to 8000+ hours. That's 333 days of solid stitching! Baldy View EGA members are happy to do this to honor our service members and help encourage their families

Sewing and stuffing each little pillow will have to wait until after I am back on my feet. I had planned to make one pillow each week for 2011 but had made a whopping zero before October and wasn't likely to make many before the year's end. So, this is one good thing that came out of my accident.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

BoaMag Review

I'm getting older. While it's nice to think I'm getting good things, like a don't-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude or more and better stash, I'm also getting negatives like worse eyesight. I had Lasik surgery about 6 years ago that gave me a wonderful result but I am still more comfortable with a good light and a good magnifier. I love my MagEyes but wanted something with lighting that would also be useful while traveling.

So when I saw this, I thought it might be pretty good. It's the BoaMag, a "Power LED lighted Flexible Neck Magnifier/Flashlight, item SM-22" from Carson Optical. It has a 2.5x magnifier with a 5x spot and is powered either by the included AC adapter or 3 AAA batteries. Now I've seen what appeared to be clever stitching tools only to find the item sadly lacking. So I ordered this little gem from Amazon (they have free shipping and a great return policy) and gave it a test run.

First off, it's doesn't weigh much. My kitchen scale says it's 11.5 ounces without the batteries so it's nice and light for a carry-on bag. It measures 31 inches from tip to tip. The bulk of the flexible neck is firmly flexible except the 2 inches at each end. The light is easily adjusted to the correct side for right- or left-handed stitchers. I played with the magnifier a bit. The focal point is about 3 inches below the lens. The lens itself is plastic and appears to be clear without any obvious optical ripples. No lens cover was included so I'll have to cut down a new sock to fit over the lens to protect it. Then I plugged it in. The switches at each end are slides so they shouldn't go on accidentally like the little press-button lights do and then drain your battery so you're stuck in a dark place with no light. (Grrrr...) The lens side has 3 LED lights and is pretty bright. The other end is a flashlight with 3 LED lights too, so together they focus pretty good light on your work without lighting up the whole room. I was especially happy about the adapter because I've had to buy that "not included" and they're pretty expensive! I haven't tried it with batteries yet (batteries upstairs, broken ankle me downstairs) but the LED's shouldn't drain the batteries too quickly. I stitched with it for about 2 hours and found it quite comfortable without sagging out of shape. The neck can also curl into a free-standing position so that it can work as a lighted stand magnifier.

Pros: Lightweight, easily adjustable, good lighting.
Cons: No included lens protection.

Overall I like this little magnifier lamp. It will be handy for traveling and stitch-ins. Amazon, you may keep my money.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Got my Personalized Sampler!

I ordered a personalized sampler from Nouveau Encore Designs. Stephanie made the process very simple. I love it! Can you find my family members names hidden in it? There's a frog for my stitching things (it's a stitcher's joke: control the frog or he'll make you rippit, rippit). You can see my home state of California, a stitched sampler 'cause I like them, a cake for cake decorating, an ichthys for my faith that's just like the one on my car, and on the lower left a little "symbol" for my Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. My favorite part is the scene she designed in the bottom left. It's for the times we've spent at Lake Tahoe for July 4th. See the fireworks over the lake? The sampler is about 400 stitches square, so it will be about 24 inches square stitched over 28 or 32 count fabric.

In the meantime, I've finished Ghoul School by Glendon Place. I'll post a photo when I can manage the good camera. I've been doing a lot of crochet, especially dishcloths, because they are fast and fairly easy, I can make them up in a variety of stitches, and I can crochet even if I'm laying back with my foot up. My ankle is healing but I won't be able to put weight on it until the end of November so just getting the camera out is a challenge, let alone taking a picture.

I've also stitched up several more Soldier's Kissing Pillows, an Embroiderer's Guild of America community service project. Here's a link to read more about them. My local EGA chapter, Baldy View, has completed over 4000 pillows in the last few years. Pam R. has stitched hundreds and Georgette B. has sewn and stuffed a good portion of the 4000. Of course we produced so many because Pat C. got her many friends from around the world to stitch them too but our local stitchers have done a bunch. We really want the troops to know that someone cares for them and their families.

Soon I hope to be back to Flower Power by Crossed Wing Collection. Again, I'll post pictures when I'm able.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Broken Leg Stitching

Yup, it's been a while since I posted. I'll try to get some of my finishes for the last year up. But the current news is that I broke my ankle on October 1.

I'd love to report that I broke it by doing something cool, like outrunning a mountain lion or jumping over a stream while back country hiking. But I broke it by slipping in the shower. Fully clothed. With shoes on. And the water was not running.

See, our shower is leaking into the kitchen ceiling below so we have to have it rebuilt. That means we have options to change the bathroom. I was measuring the tub-shower spaces and when I stepped into the shower, I skidded on the non-skid mat. In my defense, the tiles are VERY slippery (hence the mat), the mat is weirdly soft, and the tiles under the mat were still wet. The irony is that if I'd been barefoot I might have felt the moisture and been more careful. Anyway, I ended up with both my tibia and fibula broken. Surgery to pin everything is scheduled for tomorrow morning. In the meantime I'm watching a lot of television and doing a lot of stitching.

I'm nearly done with Ghoul School from Glendon Place. The stitched area is about 11 inches square. I've used DMC for everything except the moon, which is stitched in Caron Waterlilies silk. I'm stitching one line at a time so I get the right color mix from the overdyed color. I also added Kreinik glow-in-the-dark to the two ghosts. I thought about adding a yellow glow-in-the-dark to the moon, but I don't want to mess up the silk texture. I may add some glowing "highlights" to the moon when it's done. You can't really see the characters much, but they're missing their heads! They're actually buttons that will be added when everything is done.