Stitching and Life in the Company of Pets

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Frogs and clovers

I got a good bit of my dishcloth done this past week, although it doesn't much look like what I'd envisioned when I started. While I do like the color, and with its little color speckles, I really can't see the frog design. Maybe it will standout a little better when I get further along, so far all I have in is his lower leg and the start of his back and the toes of his top leg. The green it was originally done on (see picture in my post before this) made it stand out much more. Oh well, I'm enjoying it and am looking on it as a practice piece, the next try I'll get some solid green.

So far it has gone pretty well for a first piece. I think I've done pretty good at keeping the tension even, and I even hit the gauge perfectly when I measured (even though I was told that it wasn't all that important in a dishcloth). Keeping track of the rows has gone smoothly so far too. I'm using my grandmother's stitch counter, and I copied the pattern and mark off rows as well when completed. The most difficult part was in the beginning. I ended up having to cast on three times before on the forth try I had enough tail to get all the stitches in. Then, I ended up having to find a picture of how to purl. I thought I remembered, but when I tried it I kept getting a stitch that looked just like my knit stitch when done. While I was putting the needle in correctly, I'd forgotten to bring the yarn to the front. Thank goodness for online sites. I found a wonderful one that actually had a video clip of the lady doing the stitch so I could see it being done.

The other item I worked on is my secret project, but I'm going to show just a bit of it. If you recognize it don't say what it is from. However, the person it is for, even if she looks at it, won't have a clue what the full piece is so I don't think this tiny clip of what I stitched will hurt. The little flowers were pretty easy, other than making sure I didn't travel any threads that would show through. The eyelets were a bit trickier trying to keep the tension even.

We've had a ton of rain here recently, so everything is green again. I even had to mow yesterday. While I hate mowing, having things green instead of the dead brown parched color they were beginning to get is really nice. I was also lucky in that the storms that hit went around my area, so I didn't get any damage, although there was some heavy damage in many areas relatively close by.

Seems work and life are keeping me busy enough I'm only getting out to blogland about once a week now. So..I'm off now to see what all you've been up to. Given how often some of you post, I imagine it will take me quite a bit to catch up on you all, but I'll get there.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Little stash and memories of Grandma

While I did get a little stitching done this week, it is on a project that I can't show since is going to be a gift for someone that does visit my blog. While she doesn't come on a regular basis, I'm not going to take the chance of spoiling a surprise. With Christmas beginning to be in the not so distant future anymore, I imagine there will be a number of us posting similar comments in the future.

So, now for what I can show. A while back I placed a birthday order for some stash. I'm still missing one of the items, but my other goodies have gotten here. First up is the one that I'm still waiting for, Kitty Cat Row by Bent Creek. I think this one is so cute. I want to do it and put it over the door casing in the bathroom. The area there is long and narrow and this should look perfect, besides being just plain fun to look at.

My next two pictures are the stash I do have (all pictures are clickable to see better). Sorry the picture of Violets in the upper left didn't turn out so good. I didn't think to take them out of the plastic until I was loading the pictures into the computer and then realized it didn't turn out so great. The sun is gone now, so this picture will have to do. However, if you want to see it better you can head over to Country Cottage Needleworks for a better shot. I got Violet by CCN, Believe by LHN, Quaker Cat and Mouse by Workbasket, and J*K*L and Spring & Fall by Prairie Schooler. When I first saw the Cat and Mouse pattern I wasn't sure I liked it, but then I saw it done up (and so did my DD) and it was so cute finished. The PS ones are a new style for me as well, however, the goofy looking Kitty in the one and the Squirrel, Kitty, and Turkey in the other I think will be a lot of fun to stitch.

The last stash I got was M*N*O by PS, I loved the Owl, and I think the Mermaid would be fun for my DD. The fabric, Tundra, just came as my FOTM, so really wasn't Birthday stash, but the green is really pretty. It is a soft sage color. I couldn't get a good picture of it, but the soft green really is lovely.

Finally, I have some odd stash. This I just got today. I was in JoAnn's looking at frames and such for Peaches, and just wandered over to the yarn aisle to see what they might have (I think I've been readingLynn's blog to much). I'm not a Knitter, which I've mentioned before, but a while back in a catalog I'd seen a booklet of dishcloths with garden themes that I thought was just too cute. I fell in love with the frog. My kitchen has lots of frogs (well, actually, I have a fair amount throughout my house, but I tend to have more there), and I thought it would be cute to have. The book has a frog, beehive, ladybug, butterfly, cherries, birdhouse, bird (cardinal?), hummingbird, and various flowers (including a lovely Sunflower). There wasn't any green yarn in stock at the time, but I picked up the cream one here. While not green, I think it will make a fun frog one (hopefully the pattern will stand out ok). While I'm not really sure what I'm doing, with it only being a simple knit/purl pattern, and not very big, I figure I'll be ok. Besides, how badly can I mess up a dishcloth? And if I do, since is just for me, it won't be that bad. Even if I had to rip a bit (which I hate) wouldn't think it could be toooo bad, a dishcloth is relatively small.

I looked at the pattern and it said size 7 needles. Here's the neat part, I have a stash of knitting needles and crochet hooks already. Not a huge stash, I didn't keep all I inherited, but when my grandmother died I got a lot of her stash of that type. I went and looked through what I had, and yup, there was a pair of size 7's and a little red stitch counter on the end. I even have a little metal slide ruler type thingy to check stitch gauge that she left me. So, I'll be knitting them on needles my grandmother left me. I'll bet she'd be pleased. She was a fantastic knitter, stitcher, etc... so hopefully she'll guide my hands and help keep me from making to many mistakes as I use the knitting needles that she used so many years ago.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dragons and stuff

There is definitely a learning curve on framing. A while back I framed Winter Welcome, and as part of the backing I used some cardboard I had. The way I put it together the brownish color of the backing kind of showed through the loose weave of the dark blue linen. I was out doing some other stuff and in the scrapbooking section saw the scrapbooking sheets of paper, and one was in a lovely dark blue. I picked some up and when I got home took Winter Welcome apart and put the dark blue paper behind the linen so that the dark blue of the linen and the backing directly behind it was pretty much the same color. It looks so much better to me now. I won't post another picture, as you can't really see the difference in a picture, but it looks a lot nicer to me now as I don't keep focusing on the dusky brownish color that kind of showed through before.

As to Peaches, still haven't done the finishing of it so it's still in my pile to do something with. This weekend was kind of hectic so didn't get out to look at frames and such. I had an earlier question on Peaches as to what fabric I used, it was done on 28 ct. Antique White Monaco. While this doesn't give as much of an interesting background as a lot of other fabrics, it is easy to see and work on and has a nice feel to it. It is a little heavier than other fabrics too, which in the past has worked out really nice when I was doing something that was to be put in a tuck pillow.

Sasha is still doing great on her new meds, it is so wonderful to see her happy and comfortable. The medicine she is on now is Metacam (for arthritis) which she gets in the evening and Tramadol (additional for pain, kind of like a doggy aspirin) that she gets in the morning and evening. Jazmine is just on the Metacam. Medacam is liquid, and Tramadol is a tiny little tablet, neither is a tasty chewable like some other meds in the past have been so......they get them tucked into rolls. The Medacam gets squirted into a soft roll, so when they get that it is kind of like a jelly roll. The Tramadol gets rolled into a piece of bread or roll so that it is again like a little donut shape. Needless to say they love getting their meds and think that it is treat time.

Work is still busy, and I'm pretty drained when I get home. By the time I take care of all the critters and do what needs to be done it is pretty much time to crash to do it all over again the next day. Therefore not a whole lot of stitching has been getting done. My DD has been asking on how I'm doing on her Flower Dragons, and after getting "ummmmmmm haven't really touched it recently" to many times she reminded me I'd promised to work on it at least once a week and I was getting pretty far behind. So instead of starting a new project I've put some time into Dragons. I totally underestimated the size of the project when I got the pattern. The picture doesn't make it look that big, however, in actuality the pattern is over 12 pages, lots of colors, and on 32 count it will be about 15" by 24" when finished.

The first picture is what it looked like in my last post. The second picture is what it looks like now that I've filled out some on the wings of the first dragon, but it still pretty much looks like a spiky blue blob. I'm about 3/4ths of the way finished with page 1.

This is what it will look like done, so far I still think it looks good on the Gold Dust fabric we picked. All the pictures are clickable, and the current progess picture shows the hint of the sparkle in the fabric actually fairly good for a change. The real test will be when the flower starts to go in, and also the pink on the one dragons chest and the underside of the tail. Hopefully the colors still work as I really don't want to have to try and adjust the colors to something else, especially with my DD not here to give her opinion on what I'm changing.

Well I'm off to run errands, I'm going to try and catch up with all the blogs I'm behind on later tonight.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I don't knit but...

Well at least for the most part I don't knit, maybe the occasional scarf or two, and I have done one sock (not a pair, just the one). At one point I have also made a sweater. Now it is not one I wear out of the house, as it is ummmmm lets just say interesting in its fit (although not totally outrageous). It will fit comfortably layered over a turtleneck and sweatshirt, and even probably a second sweatshirt. In length it also comes to about mid thigh. This is not quite what the original pattern was designed for. For all that though it is nice and warm and snuggly, and curling up in it at the end of a long day in the winter is comforting.

So, with that said while I have knit, I am not by any means a knitter. However, the book Casts Off, The Yarn Harlot's guide to the Land of Knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was recommended to me as very cute, and in most cases if I substituted the word stitcher for knitter, very relevant. I got it out of the library and read it this past weekend, and it was a quick and fun read. In addition, as my friend said, for the most part substitute stitcher for knitter in the various descriptions and you have most of us stitchers. It talked about startitus, it talked about SABLE (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy), and that famous line "just one more row" (or in our case just let me finish this strand, section, etc...). In the book she notes that knitters are "not obsessed, but rather as exquisitely focused in a very narrow direction". She even lists such things as the Ten Commandments for the Traveling Knitter, with among them "Thou shalt pack more than one project for your vacation. You may tire of the one you are planning on knitting. Indeed, no one has ever suffered harm by bringing four or more projects on one trip" See what I mean, switch out knitting, add in stitching, and there you are. Anyway, if you're looking for a cute, fun, and in many cases way to accurate, a read you might want to check it out.

The good news for the week is that I think we've managed to get my older dog Sasha's arthritis under control again. Sasha has been on arthritis medicine for about two years now, and for the most part does pretty good. However a little over a week ago she stopped wanting to go up the stairs to get back in the house. At almost 130 lbs, this is not good as I can't lift her. The side door she normally goes in and out of has 3 relatively steep steps down from the kitchen to the landing and then a sharp turn to go out the side door. Going down she'd do, but she started looking at me like "mom I can't do this" when it came to going back in.

Almost a year ago she had some trouble, so a friend built me a platform for the landing. This gave her one step up, then she could turn, pause, and do the last two steps up. This worked great until last week. At that point, for the most part she didn't want to do it. Either she took forever to go up the two, or we had to walk around the house to the front and use that door (which has only two straighter and shallower steps). This worked OK sometimes. But in the middle of the night if she wanted out she was used to just asking and being let in and out the side. If she wouldn't use the side and only use the front (where the yard isn't fenced like the back) this meant I had to walk around the house with her in the middle of the night in my pajamas. While not fun in the summer at least doable. Come winter and the middle of the night with the snow this was not going to work well.

Needless to say we went to see the vet, and she is now on an additional pain med that she takes in the morning and evening to supplement the other arthritis medicine. She's been on it a week now and is doing so much better. She's in and out the back like the steps are no big deal. She's much happier and so am I. At almost 12 years old, and being so large, she is a retriever/newfoundland mix, I know we are getting close to living on borrowed time. However, she's doing great now and the vet says since she's on the lowest dose of the new meds that we should have a fair amount of room to work with them as far as doses in keeping her comfortable. As long as she's comfortable and happy, we'll just take it day by day and see how it goes.

So, I'll leave you with the above two pictures of my baby taken just after the rain we had. We have a small area of grass, which I've kept watered so it doesn't die as my two dogs love to lay it it. So for your viewing pleasure Sasha, (the above two pictures) what do you think, Happy? I think so. :)

And so she doesn't feel left out my other dog Jazmine, who's almost 11. Although she's a year younger, with all her gray she certainly looks older.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To do or not to do....

To do or not to do the border on Peaches, that is the question. I'm done now all except for deciding on the border question.
The pattern has a square border around the outside of the design. The inside row would be the deeper orange color (like the basket bottom) the row next to it and just outside would be the green. While it looks cute in the picture it would pose a couple of issues

1) I dislike doing borders as generally, unless I really want some mindless stitching, I find them boring to do,

2) doing finishing with a border is challenging to try and keep it straight and not have the border lines get squiggly, and

3) I'm not totally sure how I want to finish this. If I frame it and use any type of mat, then that would make the outside edge so it wouldn't necessarily need the border. In fact a lot of times with a mat I like it better without a border, as it kind of seems like it gets overdone on a smaller project. If I frame it and don't use a mat, in a small frame still don't always need a border (Chocolate Covered Cherries seemed to look fine without one). Finally, if I get brave and try to finish into a flat fold I'd have cording around the edge which would create a border, so again really wouldn't need one.

Hmmm, writing it down and thinking about it, I think I just pretty much made up my mind to not having a border. Maybe I can get out to Joann's this weekend and check out frames and fabric. Depending on what I find that may help me decide on which way to finish it. The other plus of not having a border, this then would be finished (not just almost finished) and I can move on to another project. Not sure if I'll pick a WIP back up or start something new, maybe I need to go stash shopping. :)

Judy had asked in an earlier comment what a Boo Boo Stick is. It's like a tiny little bottle brush. Most times when I end up frogging out stitches they come back out of the fabric cleanly. However, sometimes (especially dark floss on light fabric or light floss on dark fabric) little fuzzes get left behind. While tape will lift them off, most times I don't have tape with me. My Boo Boo stick I keep handy in my stitching basket. The stiffer bristles are great for rubbing over the fabric, they get the fuzzes off (and out of) my fabric so that I can restitch the area without the fuzz getting into my new stitches, which is then even harder to get them out.

Another question I had from Carol was on my use of Q-snaps. My Q's don't show in this picture of Peaches, but in my previous post they do. I've seen Q's put on both ways. I like mine on the inside of the fabric I'm stitching on as it feels nicer to me in my hand. I know the other way "working in the well" can help to keep the outside edges cleaner, but it is harder for me to hold. It isn't as much of an issue since I started using a stand to hold my frame sometimes, but if I hold it in my hand to stitch having them this way is more comfortable. Also, the fabric you see around the outside edge is scrap fabric (usually a soft flannel) that I keep with my sets of Q's. It is cut into strips about the length of the Q snap. When I put my project in the Q's I'll lay a piece of the fabric along the outside so that it is between my fabric and the Q clamp. The extra fabric helps prevent any rubbing of the clamp on my fabric or stitches, helps the Q clamp fit tighter/grip better, and gives me an easy place to park my needle so that I don't put it in the fabric. Also, once on a piece of black fabric the Q clamp must have been rubbing on it just right (before I started using the strip of fabric as a divider) as it left a bit of a white smudge behind, with the extra fabric I don't need to worry about that either. I don't generally do really large projects, but a couple of times I've had a piece that was slightly to big for my Q's, so that the clamps went over the stitching, the extra fabric at that point created a buffer so that the Q clamp didn't rub on (or squish quite as badly) my stitches. Hope that made sense.