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.