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Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Start and WIP Update

Here is what Christmas Dreams looked like when I finished stitching last night (well actually was very early this morning...3 or 4 AM or so lol). I am liking how this is shaping up and I am looking forward to finishing it as a wall quilt.

Since I started reading stitching blogs I have seen many Quaker designs. I've wanted to stitch one for a long time. I also want a break from Christmas Dreams, so today I went hunting for a Quaker freebie that I could print out and stitch to see if I enjoyed stitching the designs as much as I enjoy looking at pictures of other stitcher's Quaker pieces. I downloaded a freebie called Quaker 6 Mains by Mon Ami Pierre dot net. I chose to stitch it monochrome for now (though that may change since I am mentally debating using different colors on certain motifs such as tan for the rabbitt). I am stitching this on 28ct White Jobelen using DMC floss #3831. I like the designs I have seen stitched in red only such as the many designs oin French stitching blogs. I did not want to use a bright red so I chose 3831 as it is red enough but more pink than red. I love the way it looks and I am enjoying stitching this Quaker piece a great deal! I am very glad that I decided to finally give it a shot by using a freebie. I didn't get very far as I am very tired after being awake all night last night and not getting a nap today. I stopped when I realized I was starting to doze over my stitching. Here is a pic of my Quaker WIP. I am looking forward to stitching more of it tomorrow.

So far I am loving this piece and I am real excited about stitching it. I like how it has medalions and different motifs that provide the stitcher with "mini-finishes" while stitching the sampler.

Well that's it for me, I'm going to try to get some sleep now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stitchy Mail and WIP

Yesterday I got a package in the mail from my friend Angi. She is also a stitcher. Months ago she got a look at my wish list and said she had many of the Dragon Dreams charts that were on my list. She said she probably would not stitch them and offered to send them to me. I got the package yesterday. I was so happy! Here is a pic of everything she sent me:

Back Row Left to Right: Dragon Dreams: Child Of Mine, Childhood Memories Sampler, My Treasure, Morning Dragon, Proof, Dragonlets Birth Sampler, Sleeping Dragon Sampler, No Late Knight Snacking, A Stitcher's Blessing and Moonlight Guardian
Middle Row Left to Right: Dragon Dreams: The Time I Spend Stitching, I'll Make My Own Happy Ending, Blackwork Princess, A Dragon's Tea Party (with all floss); Chatelaine's Weeping Willow Keep with all floss and silks plus Kiwi Illusions 32ct Belfast Linen from Country Stitch
Third Row left to right: Country Cottage Needlework's The Flower Shop and Passione Ricamo's Moon Fairy Spirit

This package made my entire day! Now I get the wonderful job of figuring out what to stitch when I finish Christmas Dreams. I love the Dragon Dream's charts. They are cute without being too cartoonish and I love dragons as well. Thank you so much Angi, I really appreciate it!

Christmas Dreams by Joan Elliott

Here is the latest WIP pic of Christmas Dreams by Joan Elliott. It is looking pretty good I think!

This is a closeup of the stitching. I still love how much detail my camera can get.

I gave Rachel the framed Raccoon Baby. She loved it! She was really happy with it and seemed to be very touched by the information that I added to the back of the frame and the message I wrote on the paper covering the back of the frame. The message was wishing her a Happy 21st Birthday and telling her I love her. I used clear packing tape to attach a piece of paper to the back of the frame. This paper contained the same birthday message as well as the information on the design. Designer name, threads used, fabric used, design's name, who it is for, who it was stitched by, when it was stitched, and when it was framed. I didn't think to take any pictures of her opening it and I keep mentally kicking myself for that. She said the message and information on the back was very sweet. She loved the carved scrolls on the frame and kept running her fingers over it following the curls and loops. I am very happy that she liked it so much!

Well that's it for my stitching update! Have a good day everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Stitching and Framing!

Back in 2007 I completed Ellen Maurer-Stroh's Raccoon Baby as a present for my step-daughter Rachel. I intended to give it to her when I had enough money to get it framed. Well one thing after another occurred and I forgot about it. Well this year was her 21st birthday and I moved my completed stitching from a drawer in my DH's dresser (where someone had spilled something and it landed in that drawer so I had to rewash and press all the pieces in there) to a dresser in the TV room where they'd be safer. While doing this moving I rediscovered the finished raccoon and decided that the time had come to get it framed. I washed it to remove the stain from the fabric (it looked like coffee, and luckily it came out easily). Rachel's friends call her "Rachie Raccoon" and she loves raccoons. When she saw the baby raccoon design she wanted me to stitch it. She chose the hand dyed fabric from Silkweaver that it was stitched on. I stitched it with the reccomended DMC cotton floss.

I called Michael's and spoke to the lady in the framing department. She told me that the piece would be carefully pressed and properly mounted (stretched and laced) so I sent my daughter Sam to the store with the piece. She chose the frame and mat colors that I told her I wanted. I was NOT pleased with the results when we got it back the first time. I forgot to get a picture of it so I can only describe it. They did not press it so it came back all wrinkled. There was a very deep wrinkle right accross the baby's face and many wrinkles in the fabric around the stitching and further wrinkles within the stitching itself. Also the fabric was pressing through the circle cut into the mats, almost as if batting had been placed behind it and there were wrinkles between the fabric and the cut-out in the mat. I called Michael's to complain. The lady I spoke with said they would reframe it and give me a full refund of the hundred dollars (and this was 55% percent off regular price) I had paid. My DH returned the piece to Michael's.

Turns out there are two people at my local Michael's who do framing. A woman and a man. It was the man who framed my piece. When I spoke to him he was very arrogant with me and said that the piece was not framed incorrectly, that the wrinkles were caused by the various shading of the background fabric and were a trick of the lighting and eyes. He spoke to me as if he believed me to be stupid and uninformed about stitching itself and all aspects of proper framing techniques. He went on and on about how he has been framing artwork for over 10 years, has never had a piece returned before and blah blah blah. His superior attitude really ticked me off but I held my temper well. I asked him if he had pressed the piece. (I had not pressed it before giving it to them figuring it would be better for the piece if it wasn't pressed twice [once by me then again by them in the same day] as I had been told by the lady framer that the piece would be carefully pressed before mounting it. He proceeded to lecture me about how needlework should never be pressed and how he refuses to press any needlework he is asked to frame. I asked him for a logical explanation as to why cotton floss and cotton based material can not be pressed and he told me it was unsafe and a good stitcher doesn't wrinkle their fabric in the first place. He went on to say that a good stitcher's stitches always lay flat without any bumps/lumps in the stitches themselves and said my stitching was uneven, contained lumps and bumps and it was my incorrect stitching that was at fault. That's when I told him he needed to take a course in framing needlework properly because the first step is to press the work and remove wrinkles thus providing the framer with a neat, wrinkle-free piece to work with. He went on to tell me that the lady framer presses needlework and blah blah blah. He also chose to argue with me that lacing (which I had to explain to him since he didn't even know what it was) is not preferable to pinning (which is what he did) on a needlework piece. I was not happy at all. So instead of a carefully pressed, stretched, and laced piece for framing I got a stretched and pinned piece and thanks to their incompetence the present is 2 weeks late.

They re-did the framing job and the worst of the wrinkles are gone but I haven't gotten my refund because the employee says they can't give a refund on the evening shift. I will probably never get the refund as I find it very difficult to go to stores now, which is why my DH, daughter, or brother run the majority of the errands. Most errands are run in the evenings due to work schedules and availability of the cars. Anyway, here is a picture of the Raccoon Baby framed.

I love the mats and frame that Sam picked out for this piece, the mats and frame compliment the stitching very well. I will be giving it to Rachel on Tuesday. I hope she likes it!

Due to my experience with their framing department and framing employees this is the first and only piece I will ever give to Michael's for framing. They charge a lot of money, don't do it right, then blame the stitcher rather than their own incompetence when the customer is not satisfied.

I have been stitching for roughly 14 years. I am a careful, neat stitcher and never leave knots or tangles on the back that would cause lumps or wrinkles on the front. If my stitches are not coming out evenly, I remove them and re-stitch them. I was very offended by the attitude this man took with me and gave him a small lecture. I started out by telling him how long I have been stitching and where I learned my information about framing (some of it from people who work in museums and specialize in preservation of textiles in a museum). Even my first piece of stitching had even, non-lumpy stitches in it because I took the directions to heart. Those directions talked about not leaving knots or tangles on the back, how to stitch with even tension and all that beginner stuff. Here is a pic of my first ever completed cross-stitch. I know it isn't perfect, but I also know it was done extremely well for a newbie.

Ok enough complaining about bad framers and on to better things!
I've continued stitching Christmas Dreams by Joan Elliott and have some more progress on it. The hat is almost done. I am really enjoying stitching this piece!

And here is a close-up of the stitching.

It feels wonderful to be enjoying my stitching again. Feeling the need to stitch again also feels wonderful. Hopefully I will finish the hat tonight. I'm looking forward to showing off my first finish of 2010!

Thank you all for stopping by.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Christmas Dreams

I have continued to stitch fairly regularly on Christmas Dreams by Joan Elliott. It is coming along nicely I think. I love the blues in it! At first I thought the darkest blue was too dark, but as I fill in the medium blue it is coming together nicely.

Here is what it looks like before I started stitching on Valentine's Day.

(click picture for full size view)

Here is a closeup of the stitching.

(click picture for full size view)

I am really enjoying stitching this piece. I love how the fabric adds a wonderful sparkle to the overall design. This will make it perfect for the Christmas season. I plan on turning it into a wall quilt and giving it to my mother-in-law for Christmas. She makes beautiful quilts so I am sure she will like having this as a holiday wall quilt. I may have to wait until closer to Christmas to get some appropriate frabric that will match the colors in the design itself, but I'm hoping I can find some (possibly on clearance) online somewhere.

I stitched for a good 3 hours straight last night but I haven't taken any pictures of that progress yet. I will try to get them up tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stitching Progress, Birthday Presents and Book Review

I did some more stitching on Christmas Dreams. I got alot of the white in the band of his hat done, as well as some more of the dark blue of the hat and began filling in the lighter blues as well. So far I've managed to stitch for a couple hours every other day, sometimes I've even managed to stitch for a few days in a row! I am very pleased that I have continued to stitch almost every day whether I feel like it or not. What I find most interesting is even on those days when I haven't wanted to stitch, once I start I usually begin to enjoy it. Then I find myself asking "why didn't I want to do this?". Depression is very weird that way. LOL

I got three new books this past week for my birthday and have read them all. Here are my thoughts on those books:

The New Cross Stitcher's Bible by Jane Greenoff

I bought this book for the stitch diagrams and directions. I was hoping for more stitches than are actually in the book, such as some of those stitches that are used in needlepoint or counted canvas to create beautiful designs and textures within the overall picture. Sadly those were not in this book. The stitches included were mostly (in my opinion) the specialty stitches that are most commonly used in cross stitch designs such as old samplers. So in that area I was disappointed and considered sending the book back. However I chose to actually read it first. It contains a great deal of information about cross stitch ranging from beginner's information, to cutwork, pulled thread, hardanger and more. This information changed my mind! It made the differences between cutwork and pulled thread very clear to me. It also contained directions on how to do both of these styles that I actually understood! I would reccomend this book for people who are new to cross stitch as well as those who are already stitchers but want to increase their abilities by learning other techniques. Despite the stitch diagrams not including as many as I was expecting, this book does contain a great deal of information that is easy to understand and would be helpful to any stitcher.

Art Nouveau Cross Stitch by Barbara Hammett

I really enjoyed this book. The designs are beautiful and fairly easy to do. There are quite a few that have made it onto my "to do" list. What I enjoyed the most was the information that was included on each artist. The book was separated by artist with all the charts that came from the artist's original works in one section. At the beginning of each section were a few paragraphs about the artist, their inspirations, their artistic style and more. To me this added to the enjoyment of looking at and reading the book. So if you like art from the Nouveau period, this might be a book you would enjoy.

Ancient Egyptian Cross Stitch by Barbara Hammett

I ordered this book for the King Tut's Mask chart on the cover. I was very pleased to discover many more charts inside that are definite "to stitch" charts for me. The colors are fantastic and closely match the original art-work it was based on. Like the Noveau book, this one also offers information about Ancient Egypt. There are many interesting facts sprinkled throughout the book that are in addition to the paragraphs that open each section. This is a book I would highly reccomend to anyone who enjoys Egyptian art and wants some nice charts to stitch from as well as learning a few things from the text included.