Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Drawn Thread ~ 12 Houses Sampler

After just over two weeks of work, this project is complete. Not only a lovely
design to stitch, but also a good learning experience for me. I made my first
attempts at working a half dozen specialty stitches, as required in the
pattern, with varying degrees of success.

The stitch that I loved the most was the Diagonal Satin Stitch, which was
used for the roof on the house third down on the right hand side. A very
pretty effect. The hardest stitch for me was the Chain Stitch, which was
used on the weeping willow, also on the right hand side of the project. I
made multiple (we won't bother going into just how many) attempts to get
this one right, and even gave up one evening and left it before I got too
frustrated and pitched the whole thing into the neighbour's pool. The next
morning a cooler head and a refreshed outlook allowed me to finally get the
knack of it.

There are several changes on this project which make it uniquely my own.
Some of those changes were intentional, and some were not. The second
house down on the right hand side (my favourite side of the project, it
seems) is almost entirely my own design. It was suppose to have walls in
alternating colours of dark brown, and very pale grey/brown, stitched in
satin stitch. Let's just say that the results after several miscounts, and
forgetting to allow spaces for the windows (once) and the door (twice!!)
were not to my taste at all. I liked the satin stitch roof on another house,
but not the walls on this house. So I picked it all out, and decided to work
on the roof for a break instead. Thought the roof was to be stitched in a
lovely shade of blue. Stitched it that way, and then discovered it was
meant to be dark grey/brown! Nuts! I left it. I liked it the way it was.
But of course then it didn't match the colours of the rest of the house. So
I had to change those. And I just cross stitched that part. It turned out
okay. Over all, I'm pleased with the final results. And now have to
choose my next project. Hmmm. Now what will it be??

I did some book splurging last week as well. Four brand new books to add
to my library. I'd read a lot about Anne Bishop on Kerry's blog and she
was so enthusiastic about the author's writing that I just had to try one.
I've been collecting Phillipa Gregory's books for years and I think this one
is her latest. The Kathy Reichs book I've had on my wish list ever since it
came out because I love her books. But they keep going on sale after I buy
them at full price, which drives me crazy. So I tried to tough it out when
she released this one last spring. So far, no sale. I couldn't wait any longer.
The book by Brandon Sanderson was on sale really cheap, and I loved the
description of the story. It's fantasy, and is book one in a series. I'm very
happy with this little haul, and consider it to be a birthday present to
myself. They were even delivered on my birthday.

Wildlife in my garden. I think that we have several bunnies stopping by
for lunch in our garden, and under our bird feeders this year. This little
guy allowed me quite close to snap a few pictures. Isn't he sweet? And
in the top picture, just behind the pole, on top of the rock, you might just
be able to make out one of our chipmunks.
The indoor wildlife. Rupert and Phoebe. Afternoon snooze time. Mostly
they really do get along. As long as Rupert is allowed to choose the nap
spot of the day, and gets to settle in there first.

Darlene was here for another movie weekend and we did a double header.
Pirates of the Caribbean and Shrek the Third. In one afternoon.
We both loved Pirates. It was great fun, and Johnny Depp was fantastic,
as always. I'll be adding this one to my DVD collection for sure. When it
came to Shrek however, Darlene and I disagreed. She thought it was a
pretty good movie. I thought it was dull, and not terribly funny at all.
I think that Eddie Murphy's donkey is beginning to get on my nerves.
Still love Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Saturday was one of those gorgeous Spring days that just seem to be a gift
from the gods. Warm, but not hot, and sunny with bright blue skies. I
settled on the back deck as you can see in the above picture, and I stitched
the afternoon away. Pure bliss! Wish some fellow bloggers could have
dropped by to join me. Linda, we could have gotten Rupert to do your hair
for you while you stitched. Lol.

And this is what I've been working on this week. I think that I began this
on Monday, so this is just under a weeks worth of work. My first Drawn
Thread design which is "12 Houses Sampler". I don't know if you can
make it out, but this is being stitched on a pale green 28 count material
that I've had for many years now. I think it's called Annabelle, and I also
have it in a rose colour.

This is my first time trying stitches different from the plain old cross
stitch. I was so worried when I began this piece that I wouldn't be able to
get the hang of stitching rice stitches, smyrna crosses, satin stitches etc.
The chart provides diagrams on how to do each of these fancy stitches and
they are clear enough, but what it doesn't tell you is how to carry on
to the second stitch, and the next, and so on. This was a wee problem with
the diagonal satin stitch. I seemed to recall from photo's on other bloggers
sites that the first square has stitches running in one direction, and then
the next square shows them going in the opposite direction, if you follow
me. And the photo on the front of the chart of the finished model is so
small you really can't make out how they've done it, even with a
magnifying glass. So I just did what I thought worked, and hoped for the
best. I'm loving this design.

DH and I are on vacation this week. I have to work on Tuesday because I
swapped that day with a co-worker so that I could have the day after the
Loreena McKennitt concert off, but that's okay. We'll be going to the
dentist, taking the cats for their yearly vet visit and shots (should be a
barrel of laughs) and taking Mom to the mall for shopping and lunch. We'll
also go to the plant nurseries around here to get plants for our pots, and
our hanging baskets. Hopefully we won't see any more frost in future
weather forcasts. It's only going to be in the low 60's today.

I took some shots of the garden yesterday, and I've posted two of them
above. The first is the shade garden in front of the deck, under our birch
tree clump. Lungwort, Primroses and Violets are all blooming in this area.
The plants in this section seem to prefer the cooler weather, and some will
even rebloom in the fall. The second photo shows the garden around our
silver maple tree. In the tree box the Hostas are putting up their leaves,
and the Lamium is just starting to bloom. In front of the tree box is a
lovely carpet of Sweet Woodruff, also just coming into bloom. The bush on
the left of the picture is a Service Berry. DH spent yesterday mowing the
lawn and using his new trimmer to trim the edges of the yard. I cross
stitch for pleasure and relaxation, DH mows the lawn. It's a guy thing.

I picked up Christie Dickason's book "The Firemaster's Mistress" when I
was in the World's Biggest Bookstore last month. It was on sale for under
five bucks, which is a great deal for a hardcover. It is a wonderful book.
The story takes place during the time of the Gunpowder Plot (Guy
Fawkes) and is an excellent, well written mixture of history, romance and
suspense. I loved this story and I'll be looking for more books to read by
this author.

Shannon, thanks for the suggestion about using the Rainbow Gallery
Petite Braid next time. I'll have to add them to my very long list of
specialty threads that I want to collect. I'm using Weeks Dye Works
threads (along with DMC) for the first time in the above sampler and
I love how the varigated colours show up. There are so many specialty
threads available, it's hard to know which ones to collect.

Well, I should go throw some laundry in the washing machine, and do some
chores so that I can then spend time stitching guilt free. Have a great
weekend everyone. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Firstly, the latest in storage for your pet. Is your pet underfoot when not
in use? Well, we have the solution. Box-a-Pet. Comes in two styles. High
sides, and low sides. Bone extra. Cats too.

After finishing Country Shops I was ready to begin a new project and I'd
already decided to start a Drawn Thread design and I wanted to work
on that project on my Q-snaps. Trouble was my Q-snaps already had a
project on it. I began this piece at Christmas, and got the snowflakes done
and had begun the outside boarder. I thought that the project needed a
little sparkle, so I mixed a thread of Krenik metallic red with the two
threads of required colour and began to stitch. I'd never used metallic
thread before. Not fun! I worked at it doggedly, but cursing under my
breath throughout, until I couldn't take it any longer. The piece got tossed
in a bag and left with less then half of one side of the boarder left to stitch.

When I pulled it out again last week I decided that I had to finish it before
starting the next project. So I sat down and after about half of an hour of
slogging I got the blasted boarder done!! After that it was a couple of days
work on the back stitched and cross stitched inner boarder and the letters
and hey presto! Another finish. Another happy dance.

Two finishes in one week! Look out Becky. I'm going to start giving you a
run for your money if I keep this up. Lol!

We have three cherry trees lining the driveway at the front of our house
and they are each reaching their peak of blossoming perfection at their
own speed. Two of the trees are white, and the middle one is pink. The
pink one is always the last to bloom, but well worth the wait.

When you come to stay at our house for the weekend we offer many
special services to make your stay more enjoyable. One of the most
popular of these is the in-house stylist, who will wash, comb and style
your hair in any of the latest fashions. He has had many years of
experience and truly enjoys his work. Hi Darlene. :)

We've had several storm cells pass through since dinner time tonight.
Lots of heavy rain, high winds, thunder and lightening. South of us they
have gotten even worse, with hail as well. Will probably get more later
on tonight, but at the moment things are calm, the birds are singing, and
the sun has almost set.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Cha Cha Cha.....All done!

Country Shops by Cross Country Stitching. This was in one of their
magazines from around 1996, but I believe that it is now available in chart
form from them if you are interested. This time around the vine stitching
went quite smoothly and did not require any major frogging. So now I have
two of these designs to hang together someday.
Saturday was DH and my 17th wedding anniversary. So Friday night he
came home with a bouquet of carnations for me. Brave soul to venture
into a floral shop just days before the Mother's Day rush!! I was quite
delighted, although these have to be kept shut up in the computer room
so that the cats don't eat the baby's breath or the fern.

Darlene was here this weekend, as we began the official summer movie
season with Spiderman 3. We went Saturday afternoon when there were
no crowds to fight for a seat and we had lunch there before the movie

Now, Spiderman is my favourite super hero. I'm not big on Superman, or
Batman, although I do like the Xmen. But I love Spiderman, and I've
always enjoyed the Spiderman trilogy, and Tobey Maguire in the title roll.
But this time I was concerned because there were to be 3 villains in this
installment of the series, and I had heard that it was too much of a good
thing. But Darlene and I agreed that it was much better then we'd been
expecting and we enjoyed it thoroughly. The story was well laid out,
and everything was explained pretty clearly, and the special effects were
fantastic. I think the second movie in this series will always be my
personal favourite, but this one is a worthy addition to the series.

Saturday evening was a barbecue at the home of a member of DH's
praise group choir. DH had been to a practice during the afternoon
because the group was singing at another church the next day and
they had to get set up at the church and get to know the layout. He
doesn't go to the movies with Darlene and I too often because at
6'5" he's all legs, and there's usually not a lot of room for them in the
movie theatres. Anyways, the barbecue was most enjoyable, with
the kids running around the yard, the adults sitting around the
table munching finger food, and enjoying themselves.
For Mother's day my SIL, my friend Darlene, DH and I went to the
wonderful brunch which is held every year at my mom's residence. Loads
of yummy food to choose from as envisioned in these pictures. Above is
the desert table, which featured Belgium waffles, with mixed fruit compote,
and vanilla yogurt and granola to sprinkle over all. Not to mention the
little desert squares, and a large bowl of fruit salad. Mmmmmmmm!!!
As you can see the main course table was full of yummy goodness too.
All presented so beautifully it was hard to dig in and ruin the look. A
mixture of cold salads of all types, to hot foods like roast beef, Mexican
style scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage and a salmon/shrimp pate.

And here we have Phoebe in the bathroom sink. This is what she does
in the mornings when I'm trying to get ready for work and she wants
some love and attention.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

There is nothing like Paris in the spring time. Or so they say. And who am
I to argue with them?? So, on a perfect spring day, my SIL and our friend
Nancy and I headed out for a day of shopping and lunching in Paris. Oh,
guess that I should tack an "Ontario" onto the end of that sentence. The
drive from my front door took about 40 minutes, including a run on the
401 highway, plus some touring through farm country. It was a sunny
day, with temperatures in the 60's and a frisky breeze blowing and
snatching at my sun hat.

Paris, Ontario is located between Brantford and Cambridge and the main
street follows along beside the Grand River, with the stores on that side
backing onto the river, often with windows looking down onto the river
below. The main street features small stores with a nice selection of
goods for sale, including many gift stores and the odd antique shop.
Many of the stores are housed in buildings that probably date back over
80 years and those still retain some of their architectural features both
inside and out. Below is a picture of a ceiling medallion in a shop which
sold linens, towels, and fabrics.
After wandering around town for several hours, browsing through the
lovely shops, and enjoying the sights, we decided to look for someplace
nice to have lunch. We ended up at the Spruce Goose Restaurant (below)
which served delicious home made food. I had a Club sandwich, SIL had
a quiche and salad, and Nancy had a spinach salad. Just the nourishment
we needed to allow us to continue with our shopping.

Our final stop was the Mary Maxim's store located on the outskirts of Paris.
A large craft supply store which has been in business in the area for many,
many years. I've been a couple of times in the past and it was always lots
of fun to see all the lovely stuff that they sold. But that was before Michael's
came to Canada. Now, Michael's is scattered all over Southern Ontario, and
it pretty much carries the same things as Mary Maxim's, and more. The
selection of cross stitch supplies in Mary Maxim's is standard stuff. DMC
threads and material, kits by Dimensions and others, and the needles,
stands and stuff.
I didn't buy anything at Mary Maxim's, although they had a table top
Ott light that I was looking at and was considering buying. I need a good
light for home stitching but I'd prefer a floor model for use while sitting
in a comfy chair or sitting at the kitchen table. But the cost of a floor lamp
is prohibitive, at least at this time. Over $350.00 Canadian!! Eeek!! And
the table lamp would work out, with tax etc, to about half of that. I'm
saving my funds at the moment for our trip to the garden centre at the end
of the month, so the Ott light stayed behind when we left the store.

Actually, all I bought today was a gift for my Mom for Mother's Day next
weekend. Shocking, I know. But it was a lovely outing which we all
enjoyed very much. Hope everyone else is enjoying the weekend too.