Thursday, January 26, 2012

Keep on Stitchin'

Well, I have just about finished Saturday Dance on Hawk Run Hollow....that means just one more block to finish this piece.....that will be "Giving Thanks on Sunday".  I am so enjoying this piece.  Phyllis asked me today is I was getting close.  Beth put up her piece beside this one....both from Carriage House Samplings.  I'm thinking about stitching one of the blocks and putting it on a box top....will share that later.

Now a quick shot of the "back" doesn't quite look like the front, but I have managed to keep it pretty cleaned it a "haircut" as I go....clipping the tail threads.  Beth always has a great time yapping at the back side of my which I say...."just don't look at it!"   I'm brave tonight.

I'm off to choir practice shortly so will work on it when I get home.  

While I'm talking about threads....actually the floss I'm using, it is good to mention some tricks or tips about you thread.   This chart actually calls for silk which is lovely, but I have seldom used silk as my hands seem to "catch" the fibers, and instead DMC becomes my floss of choice. Because of the size of the piece, I've needed more than one skein of several colors and will try to give a list of those later when completed if anyone might be interested.  I used two strands of floss for the cross stitch and for the small amount of back or straight stitches.  
I tend to work with a length about 18 - 24 inches long, pulling each strand out and putting them back together for the two....keeps the floss from tangling.  

Now my next secret, flaw, habit, or "wad"  ... probably because I work on so many pieces at the same time and pull out a length of thread each time I need a new length.....I have the "leftover " strands that I toss together, keeping the skein in another pile.  When I'm changing colors I pick up my "wad" and check for what I need...and thus, I create a mess of thread.  Friday night while Stitching at the Ford with about 20 of us, my friend says politely to me...."Your wad is on the floor" and yes I had dropped it.  Should I admit such a thing....oh well, I just did.  

Later I will share with you some much neater methods of storing, using, gathering your floss when storing it or stitching with it.  And after some 40 years, I have had lots of ways... some good.....some a mess!  Wait till I tell you about the hoop with the floss braided on it!  Maybe I can put together an example of several.  

Well it is time for me to hit the road and practice.  I'm a member of a 100 plus voice choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church....the big church building just above 926 on Rt. 202.  We are a wonderful family of voices ..... me at soprano no less.  
Don't forget to gather up your completed stitching and bring it in for framing.  Sale goes on until the end of the month.....check the website for details.

Make a difference.......Ruth Ellen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Here I am again trying to upload some pics.  Beth is standing right beside me to guide me through this.

This is the cover for The Farms of Hawk Run Hollow.  I  mentioned earlier that the designer called for 40 ct. and I am using 28 ct. unbleached. The given stitch count for the above is 557 wide by 185 high.   On 40 ct. the above arrangement was to be 27 3/4 wide X 9 1/4.  On 28 ct./14 it would be almost 40 inches wide.  Then our friend Barb S. was in the shop as I was trying to make up my mind and she pointed out that there was another arrangement on the back of the front is

This.........was what I found.  The stitch count for each block is 92 x 92 and with four across adding one stitch between each of the blocks, it becomes 371 wide and 278....this allows for one stitch between each block.  The designer allowed for the center double block in the design.  Using the 28ct./14 linen this becomes a design area about 27 " x  20".  I cut my fabric .....a fat half we call it....half the width of the fabric by 36".  That leaves me plenty for framing.

This piece would also work up nicely on 32ct.  I'd prefer lambswool or unbleached as the whites show up nicely on the darker fabric.  

Now I mentioned the word "compensation"  in an earlier posting and this piece is a good example of just that.  Over the past 40 years teaching women crafts, painting, and needlework, I encountered many that I would consider other words it has to be just right ..... or I'll do the "rippit stitch" and put it in the correct way.  Convincing a perfectionist that it is o.k.  to adjust a stitch or two if it doesn't throw everything a difficult task.  One of my earliest Danish teachers, Marianne, the Baroness! no less, searched for the English word to encourage us not to remove the wrong stitches but to fix it...adjust it  .and we found the word......COMPENSATE.   It is something that makes life easier and doesn't cause you to throw away hours of stitching.

If you look closely in the above pic, you will see 4 threads or two stitches between the blocks.  (Actually there are two blocks - left and right in the upper part and then the double block - Auction- begins )  The blocks have a row of gold around each to define the border of each.
Well, the addition on my part of two stitches, not one between each, looked very nice...I thought.  I stitched the four upper blocks, the left one on the second row and then the double block  "the Auction".  Doing the gold border each time to begin, as I started this double border and did the top row of 184 stitches, I didn't meet the right side where I needed to be.  Remember, I've already stitched one third of this piece in the top row. I stopped and began looking at the chart realizing that it was not meant to have two stitches between each block.......but believe me.....I was ripping out what I'd done.  I could hear Marianne saying, "Compensate it, Ruth Ellen!"   

Looking closing at the white and gray bull, cow, whatever just by the front feet, notice the zigzag band and you'll see a one stitch variation just above the gold stitches determining the blocks below.  The green border has four stitches then two above the four....unlike all of the other light green triangles with three stitches with one above the center stitch.  It worked at this point .  

The picture on the left shows the adjustment.....ala compensation...on the top side.  On the chart there are five - 5 stitches - between the "n" at the end of the word Auction  and the beginning of the stem of the "T" beginning the work Tuesday.  If you count my stitches you will note.....see....that there are 6 stitches here - another fix!  It doesn't end there.  

Again, the chart has four gold stitches on the top of the sunrise.....mine has 5!  So the sunrise is compensated right in the center by adding one stitch.  
Look at the guys hands....because they were right in the center with 2 stitches creating their hands.....I had to add my stitch...or two each guy has a hand 3 threads wide and 2 threads high, making them look a bit larger than they should be......doesn't bother me and those guys probably had big hands anyway.  
Working down adding a stitch here and there, I simply shifted an animal in one direction of another to compensate.

I flubbed up on some of the colors as well.  Those pigs on the right were supposed to be the light gray of the ones on the left.  I didn't discover I'd picked up the wrong "gray" until after the 3 on the right were stitched "dapple gray,dark" and should have been just "dapple gray". You can see the pigs on the left are light, the ones on the right, dark. They don't care and neither do I.

This is real example of compensating.  Marianne would have been so pleased.  She was a beautiful wrinkle faced lady with a gorgeous smile.  I am so blessed to have worked with her many years ago, and come to know her as a dear friend and wonderful teacher.

I am really enjoying stitching this sampler.  Each of the blocks could stand alone as a picture, pillow, or for the top of a box.  The chart is $42. I believe, which , after working on the piece , I find it quite worth it.  

This is Fishing Friday that I'm working on now and will start soon on Saturday Dance and then.....Giving Thanks on Sunday.
How appropriate after all that stitching.  

The first block is HAWK RUN FARM with all of those cows in the meadow and the sunflowers blowing in the wind at the bottom....and of course the crows are having fun as well.  When I started this, I was stitching with my friend who loves to work "over one" intersection......up one and over one......instead of up two and over two for those of you who don't do linen (I'm going to work on that) later....anyway, Marian says," That would be so neat if you stitched it over one......HA......but having vocalized my feelings, I took a corner of the fabric and tried one little sunflower.

I must say it looks very nice.....almost cute....and I may do just that block "over one" when I'm finished.  Working on 28 count is not so fine as 32 or higher.  I love the Double Yolk Wednesday too......

There is a story about how we got started cross stitching here in the U.S. and guess that I had a part in that story having found Ginny and The Counting House at Pawleys in 1974, later having ownership in that shop and several others.   Sadly The Strawberry Sampler is the only remaining of the four.  Those working there share over 150 years of working at TSS...that includes me and Beth.  We are blessed to stick the key in the door each week and make our knowledge and materials available for you to see.  

We are so blessed as well with our online or internet friends and are thrilled when they make a visit to the shop......on a vacation or just a run through eastern Pennsylvania.  I will share with you that we are located and live in an historic part of the country with many museums and sites to visit.......just west of Philadelphia.  We have a direct route....easy one from the airport to Chadds Ford.   Andrew Wyeth and his family was and are our "local artists" with a museum  of their works.   Andrew's granddaughter, Victoria, is a tour director at The Brandywine River Museum.   We also have Winterthur with a wonderful needlework exihibit;  Longwood Gardens, known around the world  with beautiful grounds of flowers and so much more.  
Call us for local places to get lodging right smack in our neck of the woods.

And one more thing.......check this out.....We just received our copy of Country Gardens published by Better Homes and Gardens.  When Beth opened it she said....."Hey, look at this!  Here is Marie Stotler, who just happen to have been in the shop today!"  She is a very talented lady and we are blessed to have her right here where we eat, sleep, and share our love of counted cross stitch.  Go grab a is a nice gardening magazine.

Have a wonderful weekend.....come see us.....bring in your pieces to be framed and get ready for Super Bowl Sunday.

Learn from yesterday, Make plans for tomorrow, Live today......

..and Dance like no one is watching!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Well, I'm trying this again and hoping to succeed.  I had a big lesson yesterday at the shop from the 3 computer literates who are more than 20 years younger than me......"When you started playing the piano, did you start by playing anything you wanted......or did you have to learn?"  Well, after admitting that I began with John Thompson's 10 fingers bit.....Here we go, up a row, to a birthday party.  It got through to me that I couldn't give up. 

The pics on the right were to go between the paragraphs written about......what I have been up insert where you feel they are appropriate.....and understand where I'm going and......more been!!!!
Now I'm not sure what just happened by I am going to figure this out. This is one of the sewing portfolios opened and laying inside the large tray.  And this pic is a shot of the trays I love.  On the right side of the posting you'll see some shots of the trays as I use them on my lap or on the end table by my chair.
The picture just below the four of us opening the shop in 1979!!!! is a picture of Hawk Run Hollow, one that I am stitching and one that Phyllis has been working on.  Oh my, I just did something and right there it is!   This chart came in several months ago and I loved it.  I have taken some updated pictures.   The designer called for 40ct. parchment linen.  I have magnifiers, but I couldn't bring myself to work this big thing on 40 ct. I'm using unbleached 28 count which reminds me of the Danish linen I used to work on years ago.  
Also the arrangement of blocks of samplers....12 in all with the center a double block.....was quite wide on 40ct./20 stitches to inch....or on 28ct./14 stitches to the inch.  I found, thanks to Barb Summer, that the designer had shown another arrangement in the chart pack.....That is what I am using. 
I'm going to  "publish this now" and hope to learn even more and discuss the above piece with you talking about the term  "compensation"........something that is very helpful to me!!!
Till then......stitch it, share with a friend, and oh yes, make a difference!!!!!    RE

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Still working out the kinks....computers are so great....
A motley crew to be sure....

We're working thru some technical difficulties....but hang in there with us!
In the meantime, here's my progress on Farm at Hawk Run...I'm getting dangerously close.....

And here's a picture of mine next to Phyllis' Autumn at Hawk Run....Wow!

Thursday, January 12, 2012 Found!

I lost my 2 cents for a few months-----oh yes, nearly a year.....

I hope you have been stitching and enjoying the comfort of "keeping your hands busy".....something I think many of us need....and enjoy.

The year has been a challenging one for me, flying back and forth to West Virginia to visit my then 95 year young Dad who had chosen to live in our house by himself since Mother passed away in 2007. He is one tough guy and stubborn to a point. I look and sound like my mother, we find it sounds "like old times" with the two of us fussing about this and that. I have worried about him falling, not eating, and having a car accident. In late June I flew in only to find him .....let us say, not in good shape....not eating and very weak. So taking on the "in charge" roll, I followed through with plans to move him to an assisted living place ....close to my brother and his family just across the river in Ohio. The challenge was how to convince him it was time to pack it in and change his living spot!!!! Now I had checked this place out and we all agreed it was the right spot, but I waited for my brother to return from vacation and the other one to fly in from Texas to back me up.

( I was going to put his picture with his bees at this point, but is at the top. After he retired many years ago, he started raising bees......what an interesting hobby or job)

Knowing it would not be an easy transition for him as we had talked about this many times before and he wanted to "stay home", I managed to get his strength built back somewhat by getting him to eat and two weeks later as we completed watching the fireworks flying in the sky in the City Park close by, we started into the house via the concrete steps, railing, and open door. He started up and I followed behind.....and then things began to happen. I'm convinced God was working in the next few seconds. He lost his footing, and fell back into my chest......and somehow I held tight to the railing, grabbed him by his belt. and held on to stabilize him...neither one of us fell....or I might not be writing this.

The following morning, he looked at me and said, "Ruthie, I think my lights might have gone out last night if you hadn't been behind me!" To which I replied, "Hey,Dad. Look at my lights.....I think we learned that you must make the change and head to the Inn in Marietta!" He said nothing, agreeing without saying anything, and we headed off to breakfast at Hardees.

The rest is history......3 days later we were greeted at The Inn by Patty, a wonderful lady who'd been visiting him for several years on a monthly basis. He gave her a hug and said, "Now you won't have to go so far to see me!" Behind him, I cried tears of joy that with his walker...his horse he calls it....we went inside, down to his room fully equipped with bed , chair, bathroom, kitchen necessities, and pictures. In matter of days, he sold his car and made plans to sell the house. That ended my trip in June/July.

In September, he was honored as the oldest living employee of the Shell/Kraton chemical plant in Ohio and was the center of attention. I managed to get him to say, "I'm living in an assisted living place now.....not a nursing home.....but walk to my meals and have someone to talk to everyday!' Again, what a joy to hear his words.

The months since .....the house sold, insides gone, and Dad turned 96 on January 1, 2012. Things are so different for him and for me....the oldest fixer/caretaker of the four kids.

If you've been following Beth's chatting on our website, you have seen some of my "creations"...sewing portfolio ( a fold up stitching holder for my stuff); then came the trays in green, blue, red, a variety of sizes; and then the snuggle sweatshirts to keep me warm while I'm stitchng.

Now I'm going to try this again.....adding some pics

Why these things? Well, both my mother and father were very creative in finding something to make something else work.....and they passed that on to me....bigtime. I learned to sew as a teenager, using the old Singer pedal machine....and used a jigsaw to cut stuff out and paint in Dad's workshop. I made my own clothes and even made a suit coat for my brother and he wore it. So I love to create.....and watch what happens.

The sewing portfolios are a triple fold of quilted fabric; pockets for fabric, thread, books/and or charts, scissors, pencil and whatever you might use. It comes in several patterns of fabric which Beth has pictured and I will hope to do the same. I place mine on the endtable next to my chair or on the arm of the chair to gather my stuff together. It folds up nicely to take with me.

The trays were an accident......waiting to be used. I have a habit of making stacks of papers, magazines, stitching, and whatever needs a bit of organization until I find time to put it where it belongs. I found an unpainted wooden tray just about the size of a cross stitch book....a little bigger....and I put my stitching in it beside the chair. Then I ran across a smaller tray and stuck my scissors, bits of thread - wad as others call it - and my metal chart holder. Everything is right there.....and I leave it to come back to in the evening with my diet coke close by. So.....then I started finding trays here and there, got out the paint, and created.....the assortment of trays we have. I love it....trays on my lap sometimes or on the table.

Then, when we got our budget for our oil heat for this old barn we live in, I decided I would be wearing sweatshirts and turtlenecks and the heat would be much lower than it usually is. I found I would stick my needle in the fabric of the shirt and then came up with the decorative fringe.....from my years of sewing. The sweatshirts are primarily Hanes brand with the cuffs removed and fringe added on the sleeves and around the neck. Another brand with nice colors is Gildan, with a tighter band on the I cut the band off and simply hemmed it. Most sizes are Mens XL or 2XL . Colors are primarily navy, a periwinckle blue, red, and a few others....see pics. We have tried to give measurements for if you are ordering online you can check before ordering. I'm sitting here with my navy shirt on and will be heading to the mall soon......feeling very comfortable in my "snuggle shirt".

Well, I've done it again......I was trying to add some pics and pushed the wrong button, but I will persist. This is my job get this patient.

Ruth Ellen