Thursday, August 29, 2019

There, There!

Off I went to the retreat last weekend. What a great time and fun bunch of crafters!

We arrived at White Eagle Conference Center (The Grove) in Hamilton, NY - near Colgate University.

The area is quite remote and the scenery and grounds, just stunning. The perfect place to run away for some peace and quiet and to do some stitching!

The main lodge in the Grove area of the complex houses the dining room. Our sleeping quarters were rustic little cabins. The sewing took place in a separate building.

This photo is looking up toward the lodge (where we ate) from the edge of Lake Moraine.

If I turn around in that exact same spot, the lake is now in front of me. This photo is early in the morning, as the mist was rising from the water.

Late summer flowers are in full bloom everywhere. Someone really cares for these garden spaces!

Not sure, but this might be a beech tree.

Fuzzy-coated nuts have spent the summer getting to this stage.

For a moment, I thought I might have been transported to a different place and time. This classic Thunderbird convertible belongs to the the part-time bartender for events at the conference center facility.

Don Brown is a New York Yankees superfan! (D'ya think?!) Upon retirement, he decided to treat himself to this classic car, and decked it out in pin stripes and Yankees logos. A Mickey Mantle look-alike, he takes the car to events to raise awareness for Organ Donation in Mickey Mantle's name. You might say he's pretty passionate about the cause (and Yankees baseball!) The car is signed by two of Mickey Mantle's sons as well as Goose Gossage, Hall of Fame pitcher.

Back inside, a girl has to keep her strength up to support all the creativity going on.

Fortunately, there were a few snacks on hand. . .

Around the room, lots of different creations were coming to life.

We had quilters. . .

 . . Embroiderers and needle pointers. . .

Several ladies were working on intricate stitching on hand-painted canvas like this one featuring silk ribbons and other unique fibers.

I managed to finish a couple of beading projects. And I completed the stitching on the peacock - formerly a bookmark, now soon-to-be -- I'm not quite sure -- either a pillow or a wall-hanging. It needs some fabric borders. 

Plus a new little blackwork project found its way into the 'projects underway' pile!


My biggest observation from my chair near the snack table was that all of these projects were coming together in their own good time. No one seemed pressed for time, and deadlines seemingly disappeared into our surroundings, laughter, and good gab going on around the room. 

Sometimes, it takes getting away from the usual day-to-day activity to be reminded of what's important. We do this stuff because the journey is enjoyable and satisfying. The people you meet are more important than ticking off the stuff on your list. . .

I'm already looking forward to the next retreat!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Time Out!

I'm a bit distracted today. It has been a while since I've gone on a sewing retreat, just for me. I love them. It's kinda why I got into the whole quilting thing to start with. Quilting is a social sport, after all.

This time I'm headed to a stitchery retreat a bit later this morning, and I'm really excited to work on the stuff I'm bringing, excited to meet new people and see what they're working on, and excited for a short change in routine, just for the weekend.

Do you know the feeling? Are you a retreat person, or a sew-alone person?

Of course, there are the decisions . . . what to bring. . .

Couple evenings ago at my embroidery guild meeting, I learned how to make these little starfish. Mine (shown) isn't done yet, it's about the size of a quarter and still has a few rounds left. Don't look too closely, I'm rusty with the beading, and this isn't perfect. . .

This starfish, when it's done will be part of a nautical-themed holiday tree at the Festival of Trees at the Everson Museum in Syracuse later this year. The guild is sponsoring a tree and all the decorations are going to be hand made. From what I've seen of the decorations being completed, it's shaping up quite nicely!

I might have to make an extra starfish or two for myself after this one is finished! . . . They are a little like potato chips . . . .

But it made me dig out the beading stuff and pack it up to take with me to the retreat. . . . because you can always add one more project to the list, right? I have already packed enough stuff to keep me busy for three WEEKS, unfortunately, the getaway is three DAYS.

I'm also taking along this peacock book mark that is morphing into a peacock wall-hanging. I am modifying the pattern from one that appeared in a single issue magazine (aff.) at a news stand about a year ago.

It's moving right along and I'm almost ready to start the fabric borders.

More news coming soon about a new quilty-stitchery group with the Hummingbird Highway!! So slow, on my end, right? I know, I sound like a broken record. Just gotta DO it!

And, the letter blocks are still on the project list - I'm up to 'P'. This will be a quilt. . . eventually!

Some have asked where to get these alphabet pattern charts by Erica Michaels. You can get the charts HERE. Each letter features a different stitch, along with cross stitch, so it's a really interesting sampler.

The charts feature Rainbow Gallery threads, but I've been substituting from my thread stash, and changing colors to match the fabrics I 'm working with.

And maybe a new project or two . . . or three. . . or  ??

This collection of threads/floss in my handy-dandy pencil case from the school supply bins at Staples is a Christmas stitchery project. Honestly, it's probably low on new project start list. Gotta, gotta, gotta finish some stuff first!

And, of course, I'm taking my sewing machine, just in case!

I hope I have enough room in the car for a change of clothes!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Ides of August

Okay, so technically, that was August 13th . . .but here we are somewhere in the middle of August . . . already.

Being in the middle feels frustratingly, oddly half way from and to . . . Plus, after a week or two of successful medical procedures and preparations around here, and as last weekend approached, I was having a stare-down with some of the projects stuck in mid-needle. I needed to START and, more importantly, FINISH something. QUICK!

I needed the satisfaction that only a finished project would bring, and nothing I had started was close enough for a finish. Weird, huh?

So-o-o. On Friday, I pulled out my stash of floss and selected a variegated thread, and two coordinates (I ended up needing a third coordinate), a small piece of 32-count lugana cloth for cross-stiching (maybe about 6x12"), and a new book full of biscornus that I've had for a few months now (a birthday gift to myself back in May), had drooled over, but hadn't used yet.

I followed the chart, and by Saturday afternoon, I had the stitching part done. BUT there was enough room on the cloth for a second chart, but not if I cut the first one off - my small hoop wouldn't fit on the fabric that was left. Not wanting to waste the fabric, I selected a few more threads. This time only three, not four were used. . . . And a second panel was completed.

Cut apart. Leave an allowance around each stitchery. And start the final assembly. This was sometime on Sunday evening. I love working with 32-count fabric - over two stitches the panel is about 16 stitches per inch - but that also makes the backstitching very VERY small, so the work is tedious, but satisfying.

The weekend slipped way without the desired 'finish,' however, the finish was in sight.

Another Monday evening session, a movie, and lots more tiny stitches and stuffing. And two more biscornus are complete!

VERY satisfying! And quite fun. I may make one or both of these into a key fob or zipper pull. . . . Or not!

Oh, and the juicy birthday biscornu book, from which this pattern came? La Passion des Biscornus (aff.). It's written entirely in FRENCH! Completely appropriate since Biscornus are said to have originated in France.

My French is VERY rusty (I took 5-6 years of French classes way back in my high school days). But this book is pretty special, filled with unique biscornu offerings in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Fortunately with a little help from my translation app, I can decipher enough of the written language to follow along. Technically, if you already understand biscornu basics (I highly recommend this book (aff.), if you're just getting interested in making odd-shaped puffs of stitchy fun), the charts are really what you need and those are written in universally understood 'language.'

I sorta have a 'thing' about biscornu lately . . . more on stitchy stuff from me soon! I promise!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, August 8, 2019


Nope, not talking about sergers or sewing machines, but the hospital and doctor kind of surgery - I just kinda liked the play on words. 

Some background

Back in April, Dave (the hubby) was experiencing some health issues. Nothing too serious - at first. Went and had a few tests and learned he had a large gall stone that was so big that the whole gallbladder had to be removed.

No big deal right? A lot of people have this, the whole process is done laparoscopically, it's relatively easy, and involves a quick recovery.

Dave's situation is a little special - one of the tests he had  back in April landed him in the hospital for a full week with pancreatitis. Bad stuff. For the last few months we've both been on a low-fat diet waiting for his guts to settle down for best conditions to have the gallbladder surgery.

That day finally arrived yesterday. No gory details, I promise. Bottom line, a long day in the hospital waiting room for me, and excellent surgery results for Dave. He's already home (as of this morning) and on the road to recovery. For the next couple weeks, I'll be doing all the heavy lifting around here, but that should be the worst of it.

Dave needs a good story

So, here's the fun part. I started speculating with a friend how Dave might have to play this up in his cocktail party conversations  (no, we really don't do a lot of cocktail parities, but  . . . you know the drill).

What will his story be? He's got to explain these scars on his abdomen. 'Gallbladder surgery' just isn't very exciting. He needs a better story.

This is not without precedent

Some years ago, Dave and I went to the Cayman Islands and dove with the the sting rays - a popular tourist-y nature experience. Our guide left some squid (a favorite food for the sting rays) on Dave's arm, and Dave ended up with a stingray bruise. Stingrays don't have teeth, but they are kinda like a high-powered vacuum cleaner, so their 'bite' is more like a hickey than an actual 'bite.' Since stingrays are members of the shark family, the vacation story became "I was bitten by a powerful shark on a diving excursion." (We were in no more than 15' of water, btw).

And this is where the speculation began in a series of texts with my friend this morning. . . Here is a starter list for Dave's 'gallbladder' surgery story:

  • Want to see where I was attacked by a shark? (of course with the prior story, this is where the conversation started!)
  • I got this scar wrestling a mutant iguana . . .
  • I was injured while saving a child from the jaws of a wild tiger . . .
  • I escaped an alien abduction . . .
  • I went sky diving without a parachute . . .
  • I thwarted a rabid squirrel assault . . .

The list could go on and on. . .

Do you have any additions? 

In fact, let's hear them! Comment below with a good opening line for Dave's gallbladder surgery scars! Let's lighten things up a little after a long recovery journey that has a happy ending.

As for myself. Yesterday was one long day of waiting. I was really grateful that things went well, of course, but also grateful that I had a bunch of grab-able packets of stitchy travel goodies I could throw in a sack. At first, I thought I brought too much stuff with me. But I worked on most of what I brought at various stages of the waiting exercise.

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Summer Cleaning

Earlier this year, Dave and I set a goal to spruce up our master bedroom. I don't have a traditional matched bedroom set - more of a smattering of pieces from different collections. Which I like! Mostly.
We've been trying to replace the bed and 25+ year-old mattress and actually purchased both back in April, and have run into one snag after another with the delivery. Long story, not interesting, and pretty frustrating. Yes, it's now August, and this really shouldn't be a monumental task but the new stuff hasn't been delivered yet . . . I won't bore you with those details.

As a diversion, this weekend my attention turned to this piece of furniture tucked between two windows (temporarily) when we first moved into the house (20 years ago).

Yes, this is a Bakers Rack, normally a piece of furniture you'd find in the kitchen. Since that space between those two windows is only about 40" wide, it's difficult to find something that is functional and fits nicely in that space - most pieces are either too wide or too narrow. So the bakers rack was placed there *temporarily* 20 years ago. Yeah. I know. That doesn't sound temporary to me, either!

Bakers rack fix

I really wish I had a 'before' picture of this shelf - particularly the top half - but I'm also really glad I don't have a before picture. Take my word, it was a MESS!

Because we're running into so many issues replacing the bed and mattress (again, not going into those details), I decided to make do with the bakers rack a bit longer. But the mess had to go. Keep in mind this is the 'after' picture. You'll just have to imagine the disgusting layers of dust and stacks of odd jewelry boxes and extra button packages and what-not that accumulated here.

organize with boxes

Before the clean up started, this cheapo piece of furniture needed a little TLC. The whole thing leaned forward just a bit and wasn't stable.

The more top-heavy it got, the more the tilt, and the less stable it became. A righty-tighty turn or two of the octo-wrench on each of the support screws was all that was needed for a short-term fix.

Octogonal screw

Only problem is where is the correct octo-wrench?

Now, before you start laughing at me again, this is my original tool box.

Years ago (years AND years), one of the smartest things I received as a gift from my parents was a few common tools presented in this not-as-sturdy-as-it-used-to-be-but-sturdy-enough cardboard fruit basket. 

tool box

I got the tools as a house warming gift when I moved into my very first apartment. And I must say, it has been one of the most lasting gifts I've ever received. If you're looking for ideas for that college-bound co-ed, newly-wed, or first-time renter, this is a fantastic gift. It's not sexy in the least, but the first time I had to fix a toilet urgently, I thanked all that is holy because I had the proper tools.

Granted, I've added to the box over the years, and not always very efficiently - it could also use a good purging, but not on this day.

I was on the hunt for the right octo-wrench (I'm certain that's not the right term). I have, of course saved all the octo-wrenches that came with every cheapo assemble-yourself piece of furniture I've purchased over the years.

Octogonal wrench

After a bit of trial and error, the match was made and the leaning tower leans a bit less now.

Back to the task at hand.

On Saturday, I wandered into Michael's on task to purchase a pillow form. Got the pillow form, and a 70% off sign caught my eye (as these signs do!). All the summer storage box supply was on sale. 70% off! SQUIRREL!

Couldn't resist. I purchased one for some thread storage. Then I got a 'think' going.

On Sunday, I went back to Michael's and spent a whopping $26 on 4 or 5 boxes, came home, and set upon my target - those top two shelves on the leaning tower of bakers rack.

Granted the boxes are covered cardboard. Definitely temporary. But then so is the baker's rack.

Let the purging begin!

You can see that this little unit is really an office paper tray. In my world, it's collecting small decorative boxes with pins and jewelry items. The two side drawers are perfect to stow more small items.

organized boxes

drawers contain more stuff

My husband will tell you that I have an 'issue' with Swatch watches! It's not an 'issue' it's a happy obsession!

One of the new long, skinny boxes is dedicated to my Swatch collection.

Did you know that Swatch means 'wear more than one watch?' Um. I actually think that means "Swatch has a brilliant marketing department." I still gotta have my little party on my arm.

swatch wrist watch storage

With the collection of old empty jewelry boxes and various accumulated junk sorted and gone, there is now space for a dish full of Christmas pins, and a second one for Halloween pins - that Halloween stack needs some work! The ghost pin is pretty cute, right? I don't even remember when I got it! It was lost in the former leaning tower of bakers rack!

Dish of christmas pins

dish of halloween pins

And that shoebox hides a bunch of worn boxes with pieces that I couldn't part with. But they are now inside a box. Accessible, but not eye-scorching.

shoe box organizer

what's inside shoebox organizer

Such a relief! So much dirt and accumulated yuck, gone. With all the boxes holding their respective treasures, I can now actually dust around things easily!

Wait! What?! Did I actually say the D-word as a VERB? Don't tell Dave - I don't want to elevate his expectations!

Next up, the bottom two shelves. But not this week. Much too hot to be sorting through wool sweaters. This can wait. After all, it's only temporary!

By the way, I have a 'Swatch' affliction for slippers.

One never knows when you need to make the toesies cozy!

bottom part of shelf, still needs work.

I feel much better now. How about you? Do you have a 'temporary' space that needs an update, temporarily?

Happy Stitching!