Friday, January 30, 2009

Creative Space

Or A Room of One's Own or Creating Space in the House Because There is Just Too Much Crap All Over the Place could be appropriate titles. Usually it's the man banished to the garage for his football, bar, sports related memoribilia but at my house it's me because I am the only girl and apparently I have the most crap, that is found all over the house. The last few months I've been cleaning out the garage. We've taken truckload after truckload of trash to the dump. It's still not anywhere near done but I do have a usable space for sewing if it ever warms up. I didn't take before pictures because it was bad and all you would have seen was piles and stacks and piles and stacks of JUNK! We discovered that we had moved quite a few boxes several times and never opened them, just kept moving them from state to state, residence to residence. Imagine our surprise when three of them were filled with trash. Stuff that got tossed in at the last minute and forgotten. Felt good to let those boxes go. Once I made a path I was able to move some furniture around. This is the view from the front of the garage, an old entertainment center holding binders of magazines, craft books, empty scrapbook albums, who has time to scrapbook? And the cabinet underneath holds magazines, Martha Stewart Living, ME Home Companion, Fall and Christmas issues of Country Living that I can't let go of just yet, along with various craft magazines that are still kind of precious to me. The armoire there to the right is one my niece left here and used to be in the middle son's room. He broke the mirror and we need to replace it but right now it holds fabric for various sewing projects.

This is a little farther right, a stereo cabinet holding a tv, a bookcase of paperbacks, another entertainment center hold photo boxes of WIP, a bin with sewing patterns, a basket of DMC sorted in flossaway bags, my Amish rocking chair made by an Amish farmer in Indiana, bought when I was pregnant with my oldest son. It's 21 years old and it's in the garage because when Polly was a puppy she ate it and we have to decide if we can sand it and it restain it where the wood is bent or if we should leave well enough alone.

And this is a fold out table where right now I cut out fabric until I get the money to buy a sewing table and cutting table from JoAnn's it'll work just fine for my sewing machine too. The table in front with all the books piled up on it is an air hockey table we scored for a song at a thrift shop but no one plays with it but for some reason we can't let it go, maybe because it's holding all the junk.

My friend Pam gave me a rug for this area for Christmas I'm looking forward to putting it out here when I get a little more junk from the other side of the garage organized or cleaned out which I haven't shown you because this is humiliating enough BUT it looks so much better now, I'm kind of proud of the space I've made. A few issues I didn't consider, there are no plugs/outlets on this side of the garage so I will need a few extension cords, maybe a surge protector, the light isn't bad especially in the afternoon and I honestly don't see me working out here at night. It's a good space unless it's like now, it's freezing cold or in July and August when it's as hot as the surface of the sun but the better part of the year I think it'll be a good place to escape to when I want to do some sewing and not fight over the tv or have the sewing machine set up in the living room as it is now and I haven't touched it in weeks. I can just pop a DVD in and work away. I still need a stereo for out here. My iPod is so old they don't make docking stations for it any more, should have bought one a long time ago but I'll be happy with a Boombox or small 3 CD player.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Emma's Sampler by Stacy Nash

Finished something! Words not too often uttered here at the Ranch. But taking a little bit of time off from 13th Colony, taking a break from background stitching on my HAED Dark Waters(it's a SAL weekend over on the BB), I decided to stitch up this sweet little sampler from Stacy Nash. The proper title is Emma's Framed Sampler but mine isn't framed yet. This is the sampler before distressing the fabric:

(it's cloudy here this morning)

And here it is after I poured some coffee on it and smooshed in some coffee grounds and baked it in a 200° oven for approximately two hours. The smudgey spots are where the coffee grounds were.

You can click on both images for a bigger picture.

(sorry, still cloudy two hours later)

It's stitched it on the very budget friendly Osnaburg fabric-that's what Stacy recommends on the chart, but I ran across this fabric back in 2006 and stitched up CHS Prudence Wilcome on it and also started CHS Strawberry Blonde on the same fabric. Those posts can be found here:
Musings From a Three Bedroom Ranch: Houston--We Have Pictures

and here:
Musings From a Three Bedroom Ranch: Stitchin', Crocheting, Quilting, and Bad P

There's another post somewhere where I give the fabric stats and even took a picture of the end of the bolt at JoAnn's because I'm just that dorky. At the time I thought it was the most amazing find and I was being a rebel opting to use that instead of expensive linen and now I find a designer who has used it on a chart. Guess I'm not as original as I thought but let me tell ya, at $3.99 a yard it's worth checking out since linen is currently going at about $80 a yard. As long as you don't need something to be perfectly round or perfectly square this is a great option for primitive type samplers and small primitive designs. I can't remember what it was when I counted the threads but I want to say it was 28/34. I used two strands of DMC on Emma because I knew I'd be staining and baking the piece after it was stitched and thought one strand might get lost in the coffee stain, but am only using one strand on Strawberry Blonde and I used one strand on Prudence Wilcome too.
Very satisfying project, it helps that it only took around four hours from start to finish, not including the baking time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One Particular Harbor

It's low tide at 13th Colony Bay the third:

But it's good to have any water at all. I was beginning to feel like there would just be a nice big sandbar connecting two and three. The lighthouse needs some windows but construction is close to completion. Oh, don't think I'm that close to being finished, our Little Colony still needs a bit of finishing touches on part one and two. With a little good luck and speedy fingers our colonists should be looking out their windows at their freshly tilled spring gardens in the not too distant future.

Would you believe it's been 28 degrees at night here the last few nights? I'm in northwest Florida but the super freezing temperature has done a number on my lime tree because I forgot to tuck it in at night with it's blankie. Nyquil can really mess one up and make one forget important things like tucking in your lime tree at night. But if you click on the picture of the thermometer above you will see that right now, well, five minutes ago, it was going on 80 degrees here. That ball is floating to the bottom. I think once the afternoons start getting up in the 90s I'll have to move the Galileo thermometer to the patio table out back, but it looks so pretty on the front porch and takes one's eye away from peephole in the blind that my dog Polly created so she can look out when we trap her indoors and we are outside. The Galileo thermometer was a Christmas gift from my SILs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sweet Land of Liberty

In honor of the peaceful transfer of power today's stitching is devoted to Mirabilia's Lady of the Flag. She is representative of so many things. Designed after 9/11 Nora Corbett writes "that this piece was about healing, but also about the beauty of our country and human nature." She writes that she was "still sad but also hopeful".

Lady of the Flag, on this day, January 20, 2009, represents to me the hope I have for our country. That days of peace are ahead, that the financial system will work out it's kinks and that most importantly we don't just take care of ourselves, but each other.

I hate that I have let Lady of the Flag linger in a photo box for so long. She deserves better.

I Am A Patriot
lyrics by Little Steven

And the river opens for the righteous, someday
I was walking with my brother
And he wondered what was on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
It ain't what I see with my eyes
And we can't turn our backs this time

I am a patriot
and I love my country
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
With people who understand me
I got nowhere else to go
I am a patriot
And the river opens for the righteous, someday

I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said baby what's on your mind
She said I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonight

I am a patriot
and I love my country
Because my country is all I know

And I ain't no communist,
and I ain't no capitalist
And I ain't no socialist
and I sure ain't no imperialist

And I ain't no democrat
And I ain't no republican either
And I only know one party
and its name is freedom

I am a patriot
And the river opens for the righteous, someday

Monday, January 19, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Jacque had a giveaway her blog recently and I won! She sent me a sweet package. Thanks Jacque! I want to stitch up the Threads Through Time Mermaid sampler soon!

And back in December Kim had a giveaway of some Moda Nest Charm squares on her blog and I won those! Thanks Kim! I have a huge addiction to charm squares these days.

I've been having issues finding the best time of day to take pictures and finally just gave up and took them when I thought about it.


I have decided that 2009 is going to be a year of inspiration for me. My stitching/quilting/knitting/crocheting friends are a constant source of inspiration for me and they inspire me to do everything just a little bit better.

This weekend I started reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I was moved by a line in the foreward about her being challenged to write a ghost story and how she refused to write just any ghost story, she wanted to write one worthy of the title ghost story.

I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say here but I want to thank those you that have blogs for being a constant inspiration to me in my crafty pursuits. Because of your blogs I venture out of my comfort zone(little Xs on fabric), I try new things, knitting, sewing, quilting, crocheting an intricate doily. My attempts may not always live up to my expectations, as I lack some serious skilz, but your projects give me the courage to try. That's big, at least in my little crazy world.

This year I hope that I can spread a little inspiration too. Not sure how, not sure when, but you all make me want to be a better stitcher, sewer, quilter, knitter, and I thank you for that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Coast is Clear

The ginormous tree on part 3 of 13th Colony Bay is complete so I'm swimming over to the land mass where the lighthouse will take up residence. Maybe, maybe with the help of BSG, all seasons, all the time, I will get this monster completed SOON. I love working on 13th Colony Bay, it seriously takes me on a vacation every time I pick it up. Of course I prefer the vacation in my mind to the harsh reality of everyday living. In that little vacationland there is no cylon posing as a washing machine with a plan to destroy my home. In that little vacationland all motor vehicles work quite well, and all communication with whiney children is by email and email only.

I broke down and turned on the heat at 3:38a.m. It's not supposed to warm up too much today and then get down to 29 tonight so I decided to give in, heat bill be damned. I offered up a Snuggie™ to each member of my family and they were underwhelmed.

The discussion over the heat has gone something like this the last couple of days:

"Please mom can't you please just turn on the heat."

"No it's only cold a couple of hours it will be 65 today."

"But mom it's freezing."

"Put on a sweatshirt, another pair of socks, I'm not turning on the heat."

So in the wee hours of the morning the cold finally won. The minute I clicked on that thermostat my gas bill went up $100. It happens every single time. Of course last year when I was arguing about the amount of my bill, I turned the heat on for three days and my bill was $150 instead of $40, the man behind me in line pointed out that his bill was $400, and he couldn't figure out what I was complaining about. Three days of heat, the heat was on only a couple of hours each day and my bill went up that much. I told him he should really learn to wear another sweater no one down here should ever have that kind of heating bill. He was not amused.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Working the Needle

What does it mean to be a needleworker?

Does that mean you only stitch with the best linen and finest silks?

Does it mean you are any less of a needleworker when you use aida and floss from big bulk generic packages?

Does it mean you go the extra mile and design your own patterns? That each fabric and thread creation from your hoop is a one of a kind? Do you burn the pattern when finished so there's sure to be none other like it?

Does it mean you buy a chart but claim it for your own by changing the fabric, choosing different floss, rearranging what ever on the pattern?

Does it mean you buy a kit and stitch it just as the designer intended?

Does it mean you stitch art converted to cross stitch? Does that make you a less traditional kind of needleworker?

What is tradition where needle and thread are concerned?

What is the connecting thread between all of us who pick up a needle, thread, fabric, a hoop? What has made us seek out this most pleasant of pass times? What is it that makes our fingers itch to make little Xs on fabric?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hissy Fit

Ok, I'm all fired up this morning. I belong to some Yahoo groups and I don't always get around to reading the messages in every group. I try, but hey, sometimes you just can't. This morning while browsing some digests I ran across a post about a stitcher who stitched a sampler. The stitcher changed a color of the floss used in the design so that it would show up on the linen she chose for her project instead of using the floss in the chart key. She posted her finish and the designer contacted her and stated her opinion about her changing a color in the design.

I want to say here and now, I appreciate cross stitch designers. I know how hard it is to design anything. I've been trying to do some small designs the last couple of weeks and talk about a pain in the butt, but just because you tell me on the chart to use WDW Turkish Red, it doesn't mean that I might not want to change it out for some kind of blue or purple or pink if I prefer that. It's not an attack on you or your color palate, just my preference. Time and again all across the cross stitch BBs you will find stitchers who changed colors in a design for whatever reason.

Now if this design was a reproduction sampler and the designer thought the stitcher did something to insult the integrity of her interpretation of the reproduction sampler, the fact is, the designer who converted the sampler to chart form, I'm assuming, doesn't have the original threads the original stitcher of the sampler had at the time she was stitching it so it stands to reason that the designer, in her conversion, used threads she had available when she was charting the sampler. As stitchers we have to, many times, use the threads or fabric we have available and have to make adjustments in the color key for those changes.

I have several charts by this designer in my stash. I know of one that I will definitely be stitching differently from the chart. When I start this piece I will be posting it on my blog and I haven't pulled my chart but as far as I can tell there is no notation that I can't stitch it any way I want using whatever threads and fabric I want.

The cross stitch chart is a creative starting point. It is not law, it is not a sacred text, it's a cross stitch chart for crying out loud.

So baby, BRING IT!

PS: I intentionally did not include a link to the blog or the designer's name. I don't want to cause the stitcher any unnecessary pain and I sure don't want to promote this designer until I have one of her designs in progress with my changes clearly stated.

I'm a stitcher, hear me roar!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The Year of Living Dangerously

Big words huh? First dangerous statement of the year: I will effing finish 13th Colony Bay by January 31st. That goal is absolutely doable. There is no reason why it shouldn't happen except that if the way you end the year is the way the new year will continue, well nothing will be accomplished in 2009. Instead of the Year of Living Dangerously it will be the Year of All Things Broken.

The year ended with:

A broken car-After one new waterpump, one new thermostat and one new radiator cap we believe now, January 6th, that the car is no longer broken, at least for the time being it's not leaking or running hot.

A possessed washing machine-It spins at it's pleasure, it overfills for fun, it only washes when it's bored, and then there are magical moments when it fills to the correct level, washes, rinses and spins. It did exactly this the last wash of 2008. I guess that was Christine's late Christmas present to me. Yes, my washer has a name, but only after she became possessed. I started to name her Alex but couldn't remember if that was Micheal Douglas' girlfriend's name from Fatal Attraction or not so opted for the ghoulish Christine with props to Stephen King. Although I wouldn't be shocked to catch Christine trying to boil one of the cats in the wee hours of the morning. This thing has a soul. Trust me, it's pure evil.

Laundry on the kitchen table-the pile has dwindled down a bit, but it's still there.

A clogged bathroom sink-fixed as of today. Note to self: don't think you are helping the slow drain by plunging, it will only completely clog the pipes. Plunging is bad. Draino is your friend.

One full septic tank-'nuff said.

I have determined that I need to move to the desert, with the exception of the laundry on the kitchen table and it's connected in a 6 degrees of separation type of way, everything broken in my life is water related. I used to love water. I used find a lot of peace at the beach, in a hot tub filled to the brim with bubbles, a hot shower, now I hate water. I don't want to see it, look at it, it's all I can do to drink it. The water I used to worship has turned on me or maybe it's testing me. How much do you love me? Prove it.

2009 is probably the year of tests, personal, spiritual, can I survive what the water throws my way. Will it break me? Only time will tell.

Monday, January 05, 2009

No Plane on Monday

Happy New Year! I'm stuck here on my way to the lighthouse on Island 3 on 13th Colony Bay. Seems the airports are closed and from the look of things I won't be flying out of here any time too soon. The stay here is pleasant, mild temperatures, slight breeze, so my extended stay is not necessarily a bad thing.

I had hoped to kiss 2008 goodbye from the lighthouse but it seems I'll be celebrating well into the New Year. Let's hope the champagne holds out through my visit, I might be toasting the finish with salt water!