Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Progress & Free Retail Therapy

First, progress pics... not as much as I'd like, but it's coming along. Thank goodness! :) I'm trying to finish this as quickly as I can (it would, of course, help if I could count!!) for two reasons: 1) Amy has been waiting way too long already, and 2) Then I can stitch a project I've been dying to start for ages - which, of course, will give me an excuse to make my first visit to the LNS Glenna helped me discover in Baltimore... I thank you greatly, Glenna... I suspect my wallet won't, though. ;) So, here's where I am with the Wheels Announcement:

On to the retail therapy portion of this post... How does one go about getting free retail therapy anyway?? Why by signing up for Visa Extras on one's check card, then forgetting about it (for several years) until one receives a politely worded letter from Visa Extras informing one that one has accumulated a ridiculous number of points and, well, one really ought to use them sometime before the return of Jesus...

Ahem. Yep. Early last week I got a reminder letter from them, so I dug around and found all my log in info, then went to their online catalog to choose my "gifts". Can you say "SCORE"!!!?? I cashed in for a $125 Amazon.com gift card, and a $15 Sephora gift card. Here's the loot I ordered:

I fell in LOVE with this perfume a few months ago, but couldn't bring myself to spend the $90 for 1.6oz (Yes, you read correctly - $90). I am borderline obsessed with perfume - especially non-sweet, non-flowery scents. I've been on an unceasing quest for about the last 10 yrs to find a fragrance that doesn't turn to powder, dough, or some other unappealing scent when in contact with the bizarre chemical make up that is my skin... I think this might be it. So, anyway, I found it waaay cheaper on Amazon, and into the cart it went.

This looked like a nice book to use for making pillows... plus it was really cheap. :)

This is the mac daddy of the motherload, though. I saw this on Joanns.com a while ago, but didn't buy it due to the price tag. A frame isn't an absolute MUST after all... but, lo and behold Joanns sells thru Amazon, so I was able to use the free moolah to make the purchase. Supposedly, this will hold my Q-Snaps nice and tight. We'll see. I'm all for anything that will help the stitching be more comfy and faster...

I hoofed it to the local Sephora at lunch today and bought a lip gloss (yes, another addiction) I've been eyeing... and maybe a few other things. ;) That store is seriously dangerous!! They really ought to post warnings at the entrance...

Well, I hope you've all had a great beginning to your week...

P.S. I have an (used, but gently) Art Bin hoop carrying case. I bought it at Joanns, but can't find a pic any more. Anyway, it was designed to carry round hoops and other stitching accoutrements. There are two zippered sections, and an outside zipper pocket. Since I don't use round hoops any more, it is sitting lonely in my craft room feeling horribly unloved. If you are interested, please let me know. It will go free to a good home.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Plethora of Stitchy Treats from Jacque & A Progress Pic

Hi all! Well, I know I promised to post a progress pic a couple days ago, but hopefully viewing the below stitchy gift I received from Jacque will make the wait worthwhile...

I arrived home @11pm this evening, braved the horrid wind to go check our mailbox right away... I couldn't wait to get the package from Jacque and I had a hunch it would be there. It was!!! What a wonderful gift! This is far more than I expected or deserve (I almost feel guilty for being the recipient... considering I'm such a newbie blogger)! Make sure you enlarge the image so you can get the full effect of everything in there. It took me a while to get it all set up to take a pic of it all in one shot.

So, many many thanks to you, Jacque!!

And, here is my progress (or lack thereof) pic of the Wheels project I'm working on for my friend Amy's little boy, Paul.

You can see the "imprint" of the little tractor I had to frog... hopefully it won't show up so much when this is mounted and framed. I've decided to backstitch as I go on this one. I think it would be sooo discouraging to be "done" with this, but have to go back and back stitch it.

Nothing else new... I did manage to get an unexpected hour of mommy time this evening. We had a small group (church) meeting at 7 tonight, but Ken wasn't feeling well so he decided to stay home with Leah. I took myself off to Barnes & Noble right after work, and settled in with some yummy food and a few magazines. I was going to look at Stitch mags, but they were all way out of reach - literally - I'm severely vertically challenged, lol!! So, I settled for some gorgeous home mags. Ahhh. The bliss of being able to look through even one magazine without being interrupted. ;) I found a few antiques websites to look thru in the mags. Maybe I'll find something... well, that isn't really in question. Whether I'll be able to afford whatever I find is the real issue here

OK, it's late and I'm babbling. Night night!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Busy Week, A Plague of Frogs, and a Stitcher’s Bad Dream…

Wow, has it been a busy week… I have to admit that I hadn’t picked up my needle at all until last night – and now I almost wish I hadn’t, but more on that in a minute. After I finished my Border Study, my week went sort of nutso. Last Sunday and Monday evening (after the girl child went to bed) were spent making a pre-decorated baby scrapbook for a friend of mine. Tuesday evening was spent throwing that friend a small baby shower. Wednesday evening was LOST watching night (oh, LOST… how do I love thee), Thursday night I crashed and burned after reading for about ½ hr (a friend loaned me Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline… pretty good). I was SO tired. Friday night Ken & I went out for our Valentine’s Day dinner since our sitter was not available on Saturday. Saturday we ran errands, went on a fruitless search for shoes for the Munchkin, then had dinner with my dad & step mom. Sunday we did laundry, housework, etc., some friends came over for a couple hours, and then after Leah went to bed Ken & I watched the movie Fireproof. I had been warned to lower my expectations of the acting, and so I did. Some of the lines were really cheesy (I’m never satisfied with the way the gospel is presented in movies like this), and some of the acting was not real great… that said however, I did think it was, overall, a good film. It was a really good message about marriage, and I did like it.

Now on to the plague of frogs… So, last night I (finally) picked up the Wheels project I need to stitch for my friend Amy. Yeh. Why did I do that? Rather, why did I not look at the whole pattern before I picked up my needle and chose the place to start? The design is a border of different vehicles surrounding the child's name in big letters in the center. Well, I started at the top center of the border with a tractor. After I got the whole stinkin’ tractor stitched (over 2 hrs of stitching – I’m slow) I glanced at the next vehicle in the line up. A moving van type thing. Waaay taller than the tractor. I realized that that would only give me @1 inch of leeway between the top of the final stitched piece and the top of the fabric. Argh!!!! If it were linen, this wouldn’t be quite so disastrous, but I bought the fabric for this a while back when I still wasn’t sold on linen (still not terribly confident in my ability to count wide gaps between stitches on linen… counting is a bit easier on Aida) and I am stitching this piece on 18ct. Aida. Aida (maybe just mine) unravels faster than a ball of yarn being pulled apart by a seriously ticked off cat. So, by the time I’m done with the thing – if I don’t re-stitch – I could actually end up with the fabric unraveled to within like a millimeter of where the stitching starts. Argh!!!!! I was seriously ticked. So, tonight I get to listen to the symphony of my own personal frog orchestra as I frog and restitch. Ugh. I’ll post a progress pic tomorrow or the next day. When I can actually feel good about what I’ve accomplished on this piece.

Moving along to the “bad dream”…. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a dream. I was at my friend Miranda’s* house Tuesday evening. Now, before I go any further let me state for the record that I absolutely loooove her house. I love the floor plan, I love her décor… everything. There is tons of stuff to look at but it is not that horrible cluttered chotchke type thing. So anyway, I was using her bathroom, and was looking at a picture on the wall that I had admired on several previous visits. It's a pencil drawing sort of stuck to the frame… not behind glass, just sort of stuffed in there. As I was leaving the bathroom I looked back and noticed that one corner of it was curling away, so I went to push the paper back into place. As I did so, I saw a glimpse of what was behind it… hey wait a sec… that looks like… could it be… no way… with a furtive glance to ensure that I was unobserved I pulled the corner of the paper a bit further to reveal…

Oh. No. She. Didn’t. What I had glimpsed moments before was, in fact, a high count Aida fabric. What I revealed by pulling the paper back a bit more was some beautiful stitching. I almost passed out. When I could get my mouth shut I hollered “Miranda!!!!” I went and got her and pulled her into the bathroom half laughing, half seriously horrified. I asked her what was behind the paper. She said it was a wedding sampler. I said “If this is what you do to stitching you can bet your sweet bupkis I won’t be stitching anything for you!” She said “Well, she didn’t even give it to us for a year after we were married!” I said “It might have taken her that long to stitch it!!” She said “Well, it doesn’t go with our decorating style (she’s right – it doesn’t)!” I said “You could hang it in a closet for crying out loud!” She said “Well, we never see this cousin, so she’ll never know… and besides I like the frame. I couldn’t figure out how to get the fabric out of there without ruining the frame, so I figured I’d just cover it up for now.” I almost ran screaming from the house, lol!!! I was stunned, flabbergasted, and veklempt.

Due to this horrific and disturbing (and eye opening) experience of others’ treatment of a person’s labor of love I have decided – I will NEVER make another project for anyone but immediate family again unless they ask me to… several times. That way I will know they want whatever they’re requesting badly enough to warrant all the work I’ll do to get it done – and that they will subsequently hang it – and not attempt to hide or destroy it. I may even come up with a contract. They’ll have to sign in blood. :)

So anyway, progress pic tomorrow. Have a great evening!

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A finish! A finish!

Here she is! I am quite pleased with the result. :) There are definitely errors (a result of me not paying attention to the pattern) - but they weren't glaring enough for me to want to frog, so they shall remain.

This took me a little over a month to complete... not too bad. I definitely didn't work on it every day.

So, now... on to new projects! Below are two pics of a WIP that I have decided to pull out of mothballs and re-activate (more on my current WIP strategy below). It is Gentle Strength (Persis Clayton Weirs). I haven't touched this puppy in about a year... It is a B.A.P., and I seriously burned out on it the last time I worked on it. I am making it for my mom (she raises Arabians) and this is the best "horsey/ Arabey" craft pattern I've ever come across.

I think what I love about it the most is not necessarily the head (it is a bit off for an Arab) but the gentle expression in the eyes... it is so expressive of the heart of these horses. They are without doubt amazingly intelligent, highly spirited, and strong animals... (Arabs have a really undeserved reputation for being "high strung" - of course there are total fruit loops in any breed, be they horse, dog, or even human) but the best thing about them is their heart. To see an Arab with a tiny tot is to see love and guardianship in a pure and beautiful form. I learned to ride on Arabs myself, and just last year my baby Leah (she was 2.5 yo at the time and it was not her first time on a horse) rode our 5 y.o. Arab stallion C.P., who is very much still a little boy in every day life (raging hormones, ya know). The moment we put Leah on his back you would have thought he was about 30 years old, and carrying the most precious cargo on the planet. It was one of the sweetest things I've seen in a long time. OK, so the horsey tangent is over. :) Here are the WIP pics:

I have a ton left to do. What you see here is only the top half of the pattern. Still lots of stitching (mostly 1/2 stitches) to do on the head and body, and black background stitches all around the head, neck, and body... not to mention the entire bottom half of the pattern. Yikes! :)

To help eliminate pattern burnout with the BAP, I've come up with a WIP strategerie. I will keep one BAP in progress (I have several Scarlet Quince patterns I can't wait to start - they are all even bigger BAPs than Gentle Strength), and alternate working on it with smaller projects.

Starting Wednesday (working on a gift scrapbook for a friend tonight and tomorrow night, then have a meeting on Tuesday night) I'll be working on the sampler I mentioned in a previous post (Little Wheels Birth Announcement - Linda Bird), along with Gentle Strength

Not much else new and exciting going on at Chez Robin... the weather here was absolutely beautiful this weekend! On Saturday Leah & I went to a local (huge) playground that we've never been to before and had a grand old time... we were there for well over an hour before I even checked my watch; today we ran errands then went to visit my co-worker Arin (ha! now there's a laugh! Try explaing to a 3.5 yo the difference between "errands" and "Arin's" - say it out loud, you'll see what I mean) who had surgery last week. Leah made her a very colorful picture to take as a get well gift, and I brought her some trashy novels to alleviate the boredom of her recovery. We all miss her at work, so anything I can do to help her heal is really motivated out of selfishness, lol!

Off to beddy bye for me... I hope you've all had a grand weekend!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I'm here... really, I am!!

No pics in this post, just a quick note to confirm that yes - I am still alive. :) I did end up pretty sick after my snowy adventure w/ Leah. Sick enough that I stayed home sick from work for two days... I really hate it when that happens. It seems like such a waste of perfectly good PTO. Ah well.

I slept most of those two days, and went to bed super early in the evenings as well. So, I didn't get a whole lot done on the Border Study. However, I made enough progress this week that I think I can finish it this evening. Yeehaw!! I will post again tonight with the finish.. or at least an "almost done" pic.

TTFN! ~Robin