Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Little Stitching and a Clean Yard

This week was a good balance between getting stuff done and stitching. We spent 2 long days cleaning up our backyard which meant hauling all of the bits and pieces of the old shed to the dump, getting rid of a bunch of other junk in the yard, and raking up all of the leaves and dog poo that accumulated over the winter. We took 2 full trailer loads to the dump and 1 full trailer load to the yard waste place, so we got rid of SO MUCH stuff from the yard. Here it was last week:

And here it is as of now:

You can't see it in this picture, but we also took down a dead Sumac tree and picked up our new shed. We are hoping to get the new shed put up this week so we have a place to store all of the stuff that was in the old one. We still have a long ways to go, but I am determined that our yard will be usable and nice this summer. We did gain about 12 x 20 feet of yard by taking down that old shed. Woo hoo! We could put up a swingset. Maybe next summer... :)

As far as stitching goes, I was able to get quite a bit done but I only focused on Sarah's A Princess Was Born. I got to go to the Embroiderer's Guild meeting on Tuesday which was really neat, and stitch for 2 hours with no little fingers to pry off my work and no putting it down to go take care of one thing or another that always comes up when I stitch at home. Plus the ladies there were really nice and seemed excited to have me. I am pretty positive I am going to join the guild, even though I will only be able to make it a couple times a month instead of every week. Anyway, here is my progress on A Princess Was Born:

Last week:

And this week:

I knuckled down and did the star for the wand with the pearl filament, and found that it isn't actually so bad if you aren't doing partial stitches with it. I watched the rest of Downton Abbey Season 2 while I stitched at home this week, so now I need to get season 3 from my sister. :) Thanks for looking and happy stitching! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stitching Progress This Week!

I was actually able to make a little bit of stitching progress this week!

First, because I wasn't able to work on A Princess Was Born last week, I worked on that.


And Now:

The pink is all done for the word Once, and I just need to do the greens in the O. I also started some of the tan half stitches, but I'm only 1 strand in on that so far. Having the open space makes this go so much faster than a full coverage piece, it's kind of crazy to me! I think it's super cute though :)

And my Drawn Thread Sampler.

And Now:

I know my goal was to just do one band on this per week, but I am really enjoying it. I added the band with the ladder hemstitch (3rd band down) and am almost done with the modified coral knot clusters (Bottom band). I have one more pass to make on that band that will do the opposite 'zig zags' and make them look more like circles. Kind of hard to explain, but you will see what I mean next week when that band is finished.

I am also really excited because I just found out that there is a branch of the Embroiderer's Guild of America that meets really close to me! Actually, they meet just a few blocks from where my husband works. I am going to try and go this next Tuesday and see what it is. They judge the entries in the county fair and I have a few questions about my Beauty and the Beast, since I am entering it this year. I also figure that it will be a great way to get some tips and tricks instead of just looking things up online. I am so excited about it!

Last, I want to show a bit about our big project right now: our backyard. Our dogs had pretty much destroyed the little gardens and all of the grass in our yard, and our shed was FULL of bees. I mean, really full. We decided that it would be best to take out the gardens and tear down the shed (it was pretty much falling apart anyway), put up a new one, and just do grass seed in the yard. We will put in an irrigation system since I am the world's worst lawn-waterer. My goal is for the kids to be able to play in the backyard this summer. I think my little boy especially will need that time outside, and it will be nice not to have to worry about ALL THOSE BEES! I mean, seriously. I had to clean out the shed, and thank God it is still so early and cool out because I counted 35 or 40 wasp nests, and there was a really big (volleyball size) paper nest in one of the cabinets. If I had waited much longer at all it would have been almost too dangerous to do. My husband spent yesterday and tore the thing down, but until we can borrow the trailer from my dad to haul everything to the dump, this is what our yard looks like:

Don't judge me, I know it's really, really bad. No kiddos allowed out there now, that's for sure. But we are trying to fix it and make it better. Our yard is a lot bigger than we thought it was, and I want to be able to use it this year! 

Anyway, until next time, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Productive, Yet Not So Much So...

Long post ahead, sorry.
This was was super, super productive, but almost not at all as far as stitching goes. My parents went to Florida with my niece and nephew for a wedding, and my husband and father in law went to Oklahoma for a hunting trip. Even though I have the two kids at home, I always try and do something to clean up while the hubby is gone. You know how it is - the hubby makes almost as much mess as the kids when he's home ;) So I had  bought a deal on Living Social to have the carpets cleaned and had it scheduled for last Friday. That meant I had to get my bedroom, the kids' bedroom, and the office cleaned out of as much furniture and stuff as possible so that could happen. My sister also wanted to take advantage of her kids being out of town to get some of their stuff set aside for a garage sale, so I wanted to help her with that. And I wasn't going to be able to put everything back in a way that I wanted without a trip to IKEA... So here is how my week went:
Monday, hubby worked and then packed for his trip, I taught piano lessons then made dinner and helped him pack. No stitching time.
Tuesday, went to Mom's group in the morning, then straight to my sister's house to help her go through things. We also did a recording for her Podcast, where I got to be her first guest speaker! Hubby had left for his trip at 3 a.m. this morning, so I made easy dinner and got the kids to bed early. I was able to do one band on my Drawn Thread Sampler :) (The only stitching I will do all week.)

Wednesday, time for our trip to IKEA! My sister in law and mother in law decided to also go, so they actually about 1 1/2 hours before my sister and I. We each drove our own vans so we could haul all of our findings home, and I led the way. On our way down on the Interstate, a 55 gallon trash can started rolling across the interstate in front of me. As I was in the front, I saw it with 'plenty' of time to react and missed it, but my sister who was behind me had less time. Thankfully she also missed the trash can, and also thankfully there wasn't much traffic at the time. She was still rear ended by a little car, but thankfully there was almost 0 damage to either car and no one was hurt. Thank God, I don't know what I would have done if anything had happened. She keeps saying it wasn't my fault, but I can't help but think that if I had reacted differently I could have prevented her from having to react so quickly and nothing would have resulted at all. Anyway, long trip to IKEA (they are always long trips), and then a long drive home during rush hour, and we were home. I again did easy dinner for the kids, and started the clean up process. I was able to clean out my room and get it all vacuumed and ready. No stitching done.
Thursday, Clean. All. Stinking. Day. I cleaned out our furnace room (which doubles as a small, tiny storage room) and put up the new shelving unit I got from IKEA. Then I set to work on the office. See, our house basically has zero storage. We have no linen closet, no coat closet, no basement, no garage, and our laundry room is part of our kitchen; we do have a crawl space that is FULL of cobwebs, so we only store Christmas stuff and Camping stuff down there, and a couple of things that we will basically never need again. We have a shed, but it is FULL of bees and hornets and yellowjackets, so we try not to do anything in there, either. It's coming down this spring. But that leaves room for one shelf in the furnace room to hold my crockpot, the breadmaker, and a very few other odds and ends, and the office. The office had become our dumping grounds for all of that extra 'stuff' that you don't know what to do with. 5 gallon paint buckets left over? Put them in the office. Mountains of tools? Office. Projects that I started but never finished? Office. And on and on and on. So I cleared it all out and got tons of stuff set aside for a garage sale. That took the entire night, until about 1:30 a.m., except for a window of time that I went to rehearsal for the orchestra concert on Friday. (I play harp) No stitching done.
Friday, Clean again. Kid's room today, and gotta hurry because the carpet cleaner is supposed to come at noon! Only he calls and says he is overbooked, can he come Saturday, etc. etc. etc. So I took the whole day and cleaned and rearranged their room, and went through clothes to get all the ones that were too small. Went to my parent's house for a while to be with the dogs, and worked on finishing my busy bag activity for the swap I organized. Dropped off kids with my sister so I could play the orchestra concert, played the concert, picked them up, brought them home and put them to bed. Then I realized that while I had been doing all of the other cleaning and organizing, the entire front half of my house basically exploded. Hubby should be home around 3 a.m. so I should get some of this cleaned up before he gets here. I clean for another 2 hours, then crawl in to bed. No stitching done.
Saturday, take Sarah to dance class and let my hubby be home for when the carpet cleaner gets there. As soon as the carpets are cleaned, we go to the in law's house to help prepare the meat they brought back, and spend the whole rest of the day there. I get busy bags all put together and ready to deliver, having to add an extra activity because one of the participants dropped out at the last minute (no big deal, really). Come home, go to bed. No stitching done.

Here is my completed busy bag:

We had some really fun contributions! A magnetic fishing game, a fun lace the shapes activity, pom pom patterns, color matching clothespins, stringing pony beads, popsicle stick puzzles, a glitter calm down bottle, color sorter, and a game with beads and dowels and cups that the kids can do all sorts of stuff with. My mother in law's contribution was the super cute tote bag to carry everything in. On Sunday I delivered most all of these bags and cleaned up the rest of the front of the house. I also tried to clean out my music room because that is where I stashed everything from the other rooms that were being cleaned. 

So yeah. Stitching was not a priority this week. Cleaning and sleeping were my big priorities :) Hopefully this next week will be better (should be, I already finished another band on my Sampler!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Couple of New Starts

Now that I am finished with Beauty and the Beast, it is time to start something new. It's funny, a lot of people LOVE starting new projects, but I'm not really sure that I do. I mean, I love having something new to work on and I can think of 100 different patterns I would want to make... But honestly I love watching the project grow and develop. I don't like the first phase much when there isn't much progress to show. Anyway, here are my 2 new starts for the week:

Even though my daughter is 3 years old now, I bought this pattern back when she was only 1. Honestly, she is more of a Princess now than she was before - she definitely lives up to her name! (Sarah means princess, btw) This one is a birth announcement by Bucilla on 14 count fabric, and here is what the finished pattern looks like:

And here is my progress so far from this week:

After so much on 18 count, the 14 count feels really big, but I'm still happy with the coverage. Not a huge amount done yet, but for the amount of time I was able to stitch this week I think it's going pretty quickly. Much faster than Beauty and the Beast. Although I will say that I have had much, much, much more trouble counting this than B&B. I had to frog and re-do the green and yellow stars up in the top corner, and part of her wing, and the start of the big yellow star at the bottom. I think it's because of the big open spaces... Also, I'm not sure what it is with me and not having the floss I need in the kits I buy, but there was no dark purple in this kit. I supplemented from my own stash, and I think it looks alright. Hopefully I don't have much more trouble with that in future kits, it's a little frustrating.

I am also fascinated by Drawn Thread Embroidery. I bought the book Beginner's Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery and I love some of the samplers in there. I decided for my first 'practice' piece, I will take some elements from the samplers in the book and adapt them to my own sampler. I bought this piece of linen a little while ago at Joann's, and it isn't technically evenweave but it does seem to be more even than your average fabric. I am hoping to be able to do maybe one band per week on this. We'll see how it goes. Here 'tis so far:

And a close-up

It's pretty neat. You satin stitch the two short edges of the band and then remove the horizontal threads between the satin stitching. Then you hemstitch the top and bottom and group the vertical threads all purdy like. It's fun :)

Last, just so you all know that I am definitely planning on doing more of the Kinkade Disney pieces, here is my Kinkade/Disney stash:

The only thing I know as of now is that I want to do Snow White next, after I am done with Sarah's Princess pattern. I just think it is the least 'busy' of the three and it will go faster with less partial stitches. Still months and months, but still :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Week 32 Beauty and the Beast FINISH!!!!!

Let's all just do a HAPPY DANCE!!! This one is finished! All I have to do is sign it, but I figured I would do that after all of the pictures were done :) This post will be picture heavy, but that's just because I really want to show this sucker off. It's freaking awesome :)

Okay, first, 2 full shots of it, because with the flash you can really see the backstitch detail and without the flash you can really see the french knots.

Now for some of my favorite parts:

The village

Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Chip

The beautiful french knot flowers (There are about 1200 french knots in this piece. Probably more. And I loved them all!)

Belle and the Beast, although I can't figure out how to get the sparkles in her dress to come through. In real life they look sooo pretty!

And my personal favorite part, the Rose: 

Before, I wasn't all that happy with the way the rose looked. It had a pink stem and looked kind of wilted. To me it was always a super important part of the movie, so I wanted it to look really good. I made the stem dark green and added some leaves (I just followed the pink backstitch line and stitched over 2 of the pink squares for the leaves), and I used Mary Corbet's video on making a bullion Rose Bud for the actual flower. I love the dimension it adds. I also threw in a couple of white backstitched 'sparkles' to make it seem shiny :) 

I started this on Christmas 2011 and finished it today, but there was an 18 month no-stitchy time in there so basically I actually worked on this for 32 weeks. It was absolutely an incredible, beautiful, challenging, and very enjoyable experience for me. I had never done anything anywhere near this detailed, and I honestly thought at the beginning that I was biting off way more than I could chew. I love Disney though, and especially Beauty and the Beast, so I kept with it. There are 62,208 cross stitches, over 1200 french knots, and lots and lots of backstitching. A lot of people say they don't like french knots, but I really found Mary Corbet's video tutorial helpful. The biggest advice I have on them, is to pull all the slack out to the base of your needle and then hold the thread steady as you pull it through. That really doesn't make much sense unless you watch her video, but not sure how else to say it. 

My next step is to sign this, then I need to wash it, block it, iron it, and have it framed. I have told my hubby that for my birthday I want this professionally matted and framed. I just feel like it is worth it after the hundreds of hours I have spent on it. 

Anyway, now that I am finished I don't feel like I have to spend every spare waking moment working on this. It's time to finish the book I'm reading, make a couple new starts, and probably start with the spring cleaning. Thanks for looking, I am super proud of this :)