1/31/2006

Monthly Goals (and a couple pics!)

First, I finished DH's Valentine surprise (and yes, I've already given it to him). It's a Pine Mountain Pillow Kit "All My Love" I love these little kits - with the finishing such a snap, even the stiffness of the aida insert doesn't bother me. This took just a couple nights stitching.


All My Love

Next, a progress picture of Michael Powell's Venetian Street Scene. Now that I finally found a bit of 451 in my stash, I was able to fill in the pink house on the right and it looks SO much better. I'm surprised at how quick this is going, but then I suppose it's all the blocks of color. (Click for larger picture)


Venetian Street Scene


Last, a progress picture of Please Don't Eat the Daisies. This is after two of the installments completed. It'll be a February finish with the remaining ribbon work and stumpwork to do. (Click for larger picture)

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

Now on to monthly Goals... January was pretty good!

January Goals:

Finish my HFM gloves - Yes!
Stitch first ornaments in new RRs - One done, the second has yet to arrive
Start/Finish Valentine Exchange - Yes!
Start (all RAKs):
Michael Powell Venetian Street Scene - Yes!
Brightneedle The Needlework Shop - Yes!
Joan Elliot Gather Miracles - Yes!
Mill Hill Santa Charmer - and Finished!
Stitch on Faerie Blue - I think I did about 8, so not bad!

February is a short month...so a shorter list:

Finish coworker's scarves ( two simple garter stitch scarves - I'm almost done with the first)
Participate in the Knitting Olympics (Branching Out Scarf)
Stitch any Ornament RRs that arrive
Finish Please Don't Eat the Daisies
Stitch on Emerald Mermaid (WIP o' the month)

Stitching On: Knit scarf
Reading: Murder by Magic
Listening to: The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack (London version)

1/30/2006

Where Did the Week Go?!?

Holy cow! It's been a week since I posted?!? Where on earth did the time go?

Oh, I remember...I was sick and then really busy over the weekend...

My apologies. I was doing so much better about posting...

Time to forge ahead! First up, I've been reading and actually *finishing* things! (Hey, home for three days sneezing/coughing/chills/fever and see how much *you* read...)

Windfall (Rachel Caine) - book 4 in the Weather Warden series. More adventures for Jo and David and the ongoing struggle between the Wardens and the Djinn while the rest of us "normal" folks just watch the weather reports. I love this series!

Dragon Rider (Cornelia Funke) - not bad for a young adult novel. A boy, Ben, becomes a dragon rider and helps a silver dragon, a brownie, and a homonculous find the Rim of Heaven while avoiding a bad gold dragon.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clark) - the return of magic to England thanks to two magicians. Very "classic" in its tone and content including very dry humor (not a bad thing) and long footnotes (not always a good thing). It took me months to read this though the last 60 pages were the best, wrapping up quite a few plot lines and references you didn't think you'd see again....

I'm about 100 pages from finishing Sahara and Undead and Unemployed is a quick read. Stay tuned to see what jumps off my overloaded bookshelves next....

Yes, I also did a bit of stitching between books. I made some good progress on Venetian Street Scene (Michael Powell) and am halfway thru a little something for DH for Valentine's Day (shhh). I finished-finished my Valentine Exchange piece and it's off on its trek....somewhere ;) I have not started the final installment for Please Don't Eat the Daisies (Victoria Sampler Cyberclass) yet as it's only silk ribbon embroidery and stumpwork left - both better left for the weekend.

Last weekend I went to the Phoenix Sewing and Craft Fair and while it's about 90% quilting/sewing booths, I did find a few things of interest. First was a free class on two-handed Fair Isle knitting done by the folks at Philosophers Wool. I'm anxious to try the free chart for a little pouch found on their website.....maybe after the Olympic knitting is done. K (DD) was fascinated by the Kumihimo booth and I picked up a couple sample kits to try. I foresee applications in braid/cording for finishing. Endless variations! K is looking to braid herself some shoelaces. (Note, even though all I can find online are the big wooden stands, that's not what we got. They used a small foam form with slits that works like a charm). Lastly, I left a few dollars with Old Town Needlework, a Scottsdale LNS that was at the Fair for the first time. The owner, Alice, is *great* and while I refer folks to her all the time, I rarely make it in to the shop. Not all is for me, though, so you'll just have to wonder!

Tomorrow a review of January Goals and plans for February. Might manage a pic or two, too...

Stitching On: Dragon Ride (Mondays with TW)
Reading: Undead and Unemployed
Listening to: The Essential Johnny Cash (on the iPod Shuffle)

1/23/2006

Four By Four

I saw this on four blogs in a row that I visited today.

I took it as a sign.

Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. Bag & Save Grocery Cashier
2. Restaurant Bookkeeper (Knickerbockers in Albuquerque)
3. IS Director
4. Repository Manager/System Administrator (current)

Four movies I would watch over and over again:

1. The Tenth Kingdom (ok, it's a mini-series technically)
2. The Princess Bride
3. Pirates of the Caribbean
4. The Red Violin

Four places I have lived:
1. New Buffalo, Michigan
2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
3. Stillwell, Oklahoma
4. San Diego, California

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. The Amazing Race
2. Mythbusters
3. Dirty Jobs
4. Atlanta Braves Baseball

Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Chattanooga, Tennessee
2. San Diego, California
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Hershey, Pennsylvania

Four websites I visit daily:
1. TWBB
2. AZCentral (Phoenix newspaper site)
3. My blog (to get to my links to others' blogs)
4. Yarn Harlot

Four of my favourite foods:

1. Blueberries
2. Coke
3. Chocolate
4. Cheese - extra sharp cheddar, especially

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Atlanta, Georgia
2. England
3. Italy
4. Las Vegas, Nevada

Stitching On: Dragon Ride (It's Monday!)
Reading: Sahara
Listening to: Quiet...shhhh.....

1/22/2006

WIPs and Finishes

It's picture time again...and a couple of related memes, too.

First, I finished off an Ornament RR piece yesterday (won't tell you which one, just in case you are a) in the same group and b) still want to be surprised).



I rather like it as is and may not add the star at the top...we'll see. I had previously started the companion, Peace Tree from last year's JCS issue and didn't get far as I kept miscounting. I was a bit nervous about doing this one (frogging over-1 on 32-ct is sooo not fun) but I persevered and might just go back and pick up Peace again ;) I also got name trees for both kids, so those beckon as well.

Next, I've been working on the VS Cyberclass Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Here's where I'm at as of this moment:



(Apologies for the absolutely horrible picture. I have yet to reload my picture editing software to "lighten" up any dark pics and the scanner made it a white blob.) I'm in the midst of the second weekly installment and hope to finish the cross-stitch bits on the side and top today along with the "latticework" that goes in the center.

Monday, it'll be another week for the TW SAL and Dragon Ride. Note, we now have a way cool button thanks to the ever-creative Ginger Graphics:



If you'd like to display on your blog, leave a comment or drop me an email and I'll send you the code (I will host the image).

A couple of memes caught my eye this week and as they both deal with "Finishing" I'll include them here...






Booking Through Thursday



We're just wrapping up the third week of January. Wow. Already. Time to check in with your reading report.

  1. Have you finished any books yet? Yes!

  2. If you have, how many, what were they, how did you like them? I've finished four so far this year:

    Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani - nice light read about primarily a woman and her daughter and growing up.
    PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern - about a woman newly widowed and her readjustment to single life. A good read.
    Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight - no deep thought needed for this one. Just a cold shower afterward.
    Good Grief by Lolly Winston - another new widow story though I didn't enjoy it as much as the one above (and I'm sworn off new widow stories for awhile...too sad!)

  3. If not, why not? Are you currently reading anything that you just haven't finished yet? I've always got a book or two (or three) on the go:

    Sahara by Clive Cussler - good but other than the characters and setting (ok and the major plot points) there's not much here that made it into the movie. Fun read.
    Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke - I'm enjoying this but it hasn't really grabbed me. A chapter or two a night is about all I manage (I'm halfway)
    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark - I'm struggling with this. I love the story but the way it's written makes it a laborious read. It's what I think of as a "classic" read a la Dickens or Austen.

Now for the Stitching Blogger's Question of the Week:

Have you had a happy dance yet this year? If so, tell us about it! (Or just point to the entry that talks about it.) If not, when do you predict it will be?

Yup, I've had three, all small. The first was the Valentine Exchange which I can't show off quite yet. The second was the Mill Hill Santa Charmer (scroll down this page - I think it was only two posts ago) and the third I've posted here - Joy Tree. Now, all of them were started and finished this month, so as to when I expect a finish from something I carried over from last year.....I'm going to say April? for Dragon Ride? I may get Faerie Blue done before that, but until I actually put a stitch in her this year, I won't jinx it...lol

1/19/2006

The Knitting Olympics

I hereby declare my eligibility for the 2006 Knitting Olympics!

Knitting Olympics

The Yarn Harlot is calling all knitters of any level to the challenge next month of knitting something between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Torino Winter Olympics. It has to be cast on no earlier than opening ceremonies (noon on February 10th, my time) and finished (including blocking or making up if necessary) by the closing ceremonies 16 days later.

And you have to choose something that is a true challenge for yourself....whether it be technique, speed or materials, you have to set yourself a challenge.

It took me a day or so to identify a project. I've done socks (Grumperina's Jaywalker socks were a possibility), I've done teeny-tiny needles (my beaded amulet bag) and I don't do sweaters (too big and c'mon...I live in the desert for cryin' out loud) so where was the next challenge?

Lace.

I've been "collecting" lace patterns since falling in love with a certain engineer's Pi shawl (even cast it on and found myself hating the yarn and questioning my sanity). I look, I dream, I even buy yarn, but I have yet to actually *start* (let alone finish) anything with lots of little holes (at least holes on purpose). I sorted through my notes and bookmarks to see if anything jumped out as an achievable 16-day first-real-lace project (that I hopefully already have the yarn for..ha!).

Eureka!

I've chosen to do the Branching Out scarf found on Knitty.com. Yarn: Cornflower Merino Style from Knitpicks (yes, the yarn I was using for a tank for DD. When I got far enough to show her, her face told me I could safely redirect the yarn for a new purpose....she liked the color, but not the pattern. Kids.)

And I won't be alone as Kirsten has chosen this one as well :) (Help her pick a color...go!) Great minds think alike ;)

1/16/2006

Monday, Monday

I love Monday holidays.

Sleep in. Leisurely breakfast. No mail. All the weekend errands are run, so it's usually a very quiet-do-what-you-feel-like kinda day.

Today has been no exception....well, except the "leisurely breakfast" bit. I slept a bit too late!

Kids and Mom and I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia today. Wonderfully rich and gorgeous film. I read the books so long ago I had only the vaguest memory of the storyline and while somewhat predictable, a few surprises remained. Kids loved it and I hope the film does well enough that Disney continues the series.

I have done a bit of stitching as well, and in fact, finished off a small Mill Hill kit received for Christmas (that whole RAK/Gift Stitching Year, ya know)



He's the Joyful Santa from the Charmed Santa Series II - very quick and I'll happily hang him on the tree next Christmas.

Today is the second TW Monday SAL and once again Dragon Ride is getting the attention. Here's a link to the most current progress (as in scanned about 15 minutes ago): Dragon Ride. I did the gold on the "top" part of the wing and filled in some more purple-y bits over the last couple weeks. I've added a link to the pic on the left there and I'll continue to update as I progress. He's on Wood Violet Jobelan and the border is done in Needle Necessities Coronation and Fool's Gold.

Lastly, I ordered a book. A book that has only recently been reprinted and if you are a fan of Phantom of the Opera, a definite MUST HAVE.

Phantom
Phantom


Oh, and one more thing...this is also on the way...

Lois & Clark - The Complete Second Season

Stitching On: Dragon Ride
Reading (home): Dragon Rider
Watching: The Chronicles of Narnia

1/11/2006

Yes, I'm stitching!

Monday night was the first regularly scheduled "Spend Monday with TW" Stitch-Along (hmm..kinda catchy, must get with my graphic person for a button....).

It originated on the Friends Gather BB, but I shamelessly stole the idea and drummed up interest on the TWBB (thinking that there *must* be more TW stitchers on the TW Board - I was right). Good turnout for the first week! Feel free to join us any Monday, by the way....

On Monday night I went out to visit my stash (it lives in the garage....there's not enough room in the house...anywhere) to pull out my Dragon Ride project. Being that it hasn't seen the light of day for months and is probably the furthest along of my copious TW works-in-progress (Stroke of Midnight, Noah's Ark, Fortunate Traveller, English Garden Welcome....etc etc) it seemed the most likely choice.

Found the chart. Found the floss.

WIP was nowhere to be found.

I even have an understanding witness to this - I happened to be on the phone with a meandering one while I was searching (multi-task!).

Now, my stash really isn't *that* big that a started project should go MIA. I mean, it isn't like it can get fed up with being ignored and jump on a plane to go spend time with another stitcher. I *really* don't expect my projects to cheat on me and be wooed away with fancy promises of focus slots or one-at-a-time stitchers. Heck, it can commiserate with the other projects that have been ignored even longer!

It took me about 20 minutes of digging and thinking and finally realizing that it was most likely in one of my "show-and-tell" bags. Yes, I said "one of my"....I have two...no...three...no... Well, don't you?

Anyway, it was in the second bag that I spotted a telltale square of Wood Violet Jobelan. We were back on schedule.

Within a few stitches I remembered *why* I hadn't worked on DR for so long. I really really hate Stitcher's World's colored charts. I can't highlight, I can't fold, spindle and mutilate the chart pages and I have to spend precious moments trying to figure out what symbols I've stitched (the whole no-highlight thing....something I didn't realize I depended *quite* so heavily on for TW stitching).

I did persevere for about an hour, but decided to extend this week's effort a couple extra days. I did have a bright idea today to make a working copy of the chart (the colored squares do have different symbols in them) so I can color to my heart's content. I'll be trying it out as soon as I finish off this post! Pictures tomorrow :)

Stitching On: Dragon Ride
Reading (bus): Sahara by Clive Cussler
Watching: Mythbusters on Discovery

1/09/2006

In the beginning...

In the beginning there was a GameBoy and it was good....

Yes, I had one of those original handhelds circa 1991 or 92 (I can't remember exactly). I played a lot of Tetris on that handy little console. Between that and Dr. Mario, I was set.

But, life goes on and as K (DD) got older, she got more interested in my little game which I didn't play as much any more due to it's predilection for chewing thru batteries. So, she took it over.

Towards the end of the 1990's, K got her own. It's purple with a "see-thru" case and significantly lighter and thinner than the original (which suffered a cracked screen not long after being replaced. Jealous? Maybe...). More games were added to the library.

But even little girls outgrow their handhelds and she prefers playing her PS2 (that followed a PS1, but that's another story...)

Z (DS) became the primary user of the new purple GameBoy, but almost exclusively on car trips. We didn't encourage him to play as part of his everyday toy selection (he inherited sister's PS1 and that's where his time went).

This changed at Christmas a couple weeks ago.

My mother bought Z a GameBoy Advance SP (the blue one). Handheld gaming returned to the family with a vengeance. New games were
acquired Lego Star Wars, Crash, Spyro, Mario Pinball and Scooby-Doo. And then even more thanks to a gift card: Castlevania, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Zelda: Link and Finding Nemo.

But the interesting thing? We were *all* playing with the game, not just Z.

We needed another one. Ok, maybe two. So....off to GameStop....

SP? Old news! We find something even *better* - a Nintendo DS

Holy cow! It plays not only the DS games, but also the GameBoy Advance ones. And it has two screens, one of them being a "touch" screen with ability to control gameplay with a stylus (or cool little thumbpad thingie).

Now if I could just figure out how to play with the DS and stitch at the same time....

1/06/2006

Shopping and more shopping...

I've been missing memes for awhile, but I'll spare you any attempts to"catch up" and just select a few that I find interesting ;)

This week's SBQ: Do you do your stash shopping at your LNS, ONS, or both? Which do you like better? Why?

Both. If I have a short list of things I need for a specific project, I'll venture over to one of the LNS here in town. If it's primarily fibers, then it'll more than likely be the not-for-profit shop I can make on my lunch hour (all proceeds go to a women's shelter). However, they are really a needlepoint shop, so I can't get fabric or charts there. If I have beads or other charms on the list, then it's a trip to the LNS near my house (10-15 minutes away). I have *occasionally* purchased fabric from them, but only when it's something readily available (their selection of hand-dyes is paltry at best), a neutral color and I can use a regular cut as they refuse to cut to size. They really focus on reproduction samplers so always have a good stock of neutral colored fabric, if it is on the pricey side.

For charts and just general "what's new" browsing, I can't beat an ONS. The one that gets the majority of my business is Needlecraft Corner (Drema is *awesome*) but I've also been known to order from Stitching Bits & Bobs and Pawprints - it just depends on my mood and how quickly I want the stuff. Fabric comes from Silkweaver almost exclusively, though. (Exception being the occasional Picture This Plus order). I like to peruse The Silver Needle pages, but the shipping costs keep me from ordering anything other than my monthly Secret Needle Night kit.

Speaking of s.e.x., there seems to be quite a bit of it going on at my house lately ;). Thanks to a thread on The Wagon, I broke down andordered VS Jingle Bells Tree Farm and BC Ze Rink during the recent SB&Bsale. I have my eye on a couple of the new Just Nan designs but am keeping the clicky finger under control (which is really easy given they haven't been released yet). For the first time in forever, I'm also not in any of the Chatelaine classes - and that has *really* been an exercise in self-control. I love the new Medieval Town Mandala - I will probably join sometime before the end in September just so I don't have to wait another year for the chart.

The bookshelf is also seeing some action as Barnes & Noble and I have been getting chummy. I ordered four Agatha Christie novels after Christmas (ok, the reason was to get free shipping on my half-price calendar, I admit): The Clocks, Cat Among the Pigeons, Dead Man's Folly and Murder in the Mews. Today I decided I must find out what all the fuss is about Terry Pratchett and ordered The Color of Magic, Light Fantastic and Equal Rites. And WindFall jumped in the cart to hit that magic $25 level. I also plan to pre-order Sebastian by Anne Bishop here soon....it's a February release, so I have some time.

I was remiss in mentioning one of my biggest sources of books the other day. My bestest buddy online has yet to steer me in the wrong direction in the last few years. She's the reason I gave Outlander a second chance (couldn't get past page 50 the first time) and she's responsible for Beekeeper's Apprentice being on my bookshelf. Her other big hit with me was Phantom and my mother and daughter are also *very*appreciative of that recommendation!

Stitching on: Venetian Street Scene
Reading (home): Dragon Rider
Watching (DVD): Fantastic Four

1/04/2006

A few GFJ Pics

Here's the first pictures from my Guilt-Free January starts. A good 5 hours on each piece:

Brightneedle's The Needlework Shop - it's on cream Belfast over-1 and this area is about 2" square:

Brightneedle's The Needlework Shop

Second up is Joan Elliot's Fragile Miracles - I swapped out the 14-ct for 28-ct white jobelan.

Fragile Miracles - Joan Elliot

Finally, Michael Powell's Venetian Street Scene from the August 2005 edition of the UK Magazine "Cross Stitcher." Also, on 28-ct white jobelan (hey, I like jobelan, what can I say?)

Venetian Street Scene - Michael Powell

Cindy asked how I choose what books I read. I have lots of sources. I've been reading fantasy novels for over 25 (eek!) years and have a pretty good list of authors that I try to watch for (David Eddings, Dave Duncan, Robert Jordan, etc). I've been reading "classic" mysteries for about that long (Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, Arthur Conan Doyle) and I still haven't exhausted all of their works.

Lately, the biggest source is the Stitching Readers BB. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have picked up The Time Traveler's Wife and I loved that book in 2004! I've found new authors there and actually "stalk" a few folks who I know have similar reading tastes (there's a forum to keep a personal reading list). My mother is also a voracious reader and we exchange books frequently.

When all else fails, I'll scan Amazon and Barnes & Noble and look at the various lists, read book reviews and pay attention to the "You Might Also Like..." section listed on most of the books.

I *rarely* read anything on the best seller list. I don't usually read popular fiction and prefer fantasy or mystery genres with a little historical romance/fantasy thrown in for variety. There are exceptions of course, I loved The DaVinci Code (but think Angels & Demons was far better).

Stitching on: Hooray-For-Me Gloves (knitting)
Reading (bus): Milk Glass Moon
Listening to (work): Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack

1/03/2006

Master Enabler

A few weeks ago a coworker, K, asked me to bring her some books. She was out of new material at home and while we often exchange books, I hadn't lent her anything recently. I told her I'd see what I could find on the shelf....

K's reading preferences aren't *quite* as eclectic as my own, but she enjoys mysteries, popular fiction and a touch of history but first and foremost, she wants a gripping story. See, she reads when she's on her exercise bike and a good story keeps her riding for a bit longer and returning daily ;)

So I perused my bookshelves and thought I'd give her some variety.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R King - a fairly safe choice. She enjoys mysteries and period stories, so I figure this one will work. (I haven't gotten feedback yet)

River God - Wilbur Smith - I loved this one but she found Taita's writing style and use of metaphors to be a bit overdone. This one was a bust.

Ill Wind - Rachel Caine - a bit of a stretch. It's set in the current world, but it's definitely a fantasy novel with magic and djinn and a bit of romance thrown in. This was a big hit...she loved it and I'll be giving her the next two in the series.

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey - another stretch. She hasn't tried this one yet.

...but the big winner?

Daughter of the Blood - Anne Bishop - she not only devoured the book in about 3 days (and *not* on the bike) but went out and bought the next two in the series as she couldn't wait for me to bring them in for her over the holiday weekend LOL

Yeah, I'm good.

Stitched On: The Needlework Shop (Brightneedle)
Reading (Bus) : PS, I Love You
Playing: Black & White 2

1/02/2006

2006 - The Year Ahead

Happy New Year all! I hope you had a wonderful celebration yesterday, however you choose to celebrate! I spent most of the day stitching away on my Guilt-Free January (GFJ) pieces and watching movies LOL. A wonderful way to start the year, eh?

First up, let's look at just January's Goals:

Finish my HFM Gloves (I'm 3/4 thru the first glove)
Start/Finish Ornament RR (2)
Start/Finish Valentine Exchange
Stitch on:
Autumn Queen
Faerie Blue
Guilt-Free Start:
Venetian Street Scene (Michael Powell)
The Needlework Shop (Brightneedle)
Fragile Miracles (Joan Elliot)
Santa Face Charmer (Mill Hill)

I'm actually already thru the first three GFJ starts, but hope to give them each a *few* more hours before the month is thru. Why did I choose these specific designs for GFJ? Well, over the last few years I have had some fantastic gifts - birthday/Christmas gifts, "just because" gifts, Secret Stitcher items and a few "Random Act of Kindness (RAK)" gifts as well. Some get started quickly, but most have been stashed away for "later."

Later is here :) For 2006, I intend to make most of my new starts from the gifts I've received. Happily they are varying sizes and subjects, so lots of variety is available. I do have a couple RAKs already started (Emerald Mermaid and Neptune/Poseidon, for example) so those will get their share of attention, too.

My second stitching goal for the year is to stitch on *every* one of my current WIPs at least once. Many of them haven't seen the light of day for months and after agonizing over which ones stayed on the WIP list and which ones were retired, I need to get going on the survivors!

I do have a spreadsheet started to track which WIP gets attention which month to be sure they all have a turn. I've also started my list of RAK/gifts so I know where I'm at on that list, too. I'll link it up here as soon as I get it uploaded to my webspace so you all can keep me honest!

Stitched On: The Needlework Shop (Brightneedle)
Reading (Home) : Dragon Rider
Watching: Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Season 1)