Thursday, 23 April 2009

Not doing very well

Well so far this week I've only worked on my cross-stitch one day. The concentration required to work on this project is so great that it is not an enticing project to pick up in the evenings when I'm tired and during the day when I'm on the go there's no way I can pick it up and work for a few minutes. It takes me a few minutes to even figure out where to put the next stitch! I know I'm whinging. It has been a busy week so far and I've been out quite a bit. Maybe next week things will settle in a bit and I'll be at home more and work on it during the day a bit.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Cross-stitch from Hell!

Here is the picture of the completed cross-stitch that came with the kit.

This is where I'm starting from.

Well I've delayed and procrastinated and now my rotations have finally taken me to the project I dislike the most. This is the cross-stitch from hell--the map of Australia. Why is it such a problem? There are a couple of reasons. First, it is loaded with half and quarter stitches. Thank goodness I'm using linen or I would have had to abandon the project before this as I couldn't have done it on Aida. Second, the kit as it was originally made up was to commemorate the torch relay around Australia for the Sydney Olympics. So it has a lot of Olympic stuff on it that I am not including as all I wanted was a map. You can see I've done quite a bit on it. I'm working on the border now and the bunches of flowers in the corners are a real pain in the pitoozie. I'm trying to push through it all.

What I'm not including are: the backstitching showing the route of the torch relay, the guff about number of athletes, etc in the border, most of the stuff on the bottom where the Olympic torch, etc is. I think I'm going to include the word 'Australia'. I'm not sure about the flag yet.

Is it going to be too plain with this stuff removed? I'm not sure. I've never altered a cross-stitch pattern as much as I'm going to do with this one before. So I just don't know. I'm going to start to do the backstitching within the map area as well as working on the corner flowers. I'll see how I go.

Monday, 20 April 2009

New project half done!

It's been a busy two weeks with the kids being home for the school holidays and Paul and I (but mainly Paul) painting two rooms in the house--including the room where I do most of my cross-stitching. I was really only excluded from the room for a couple of days so it didn't affect my progess at all. In fact, I had lots of extra stitching time while my son Jarrah was having some catch-up French tutoring. Last year Jarrah decided to change languages three quarters of the way through the year because his Chinese teacher wasn't teaching to his level but was teaching at a beginner's level. Because he's studied Chinese for 7 years already he found the class too boring. These holidays were really his first opportunity to get some tutoring to catch up for the three terms of French he missed last year. So each day I took him to his tutor and sat outside in the car and stitched while I waited. I started on a new project called The Fabric Collector and have finished about 50% of it. So I hope a good run on my next rotation of it should finish it. It would be wonderful to finish a project so quickly because I mainly work on long-winded projects!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my poll on how to leave a project at the end of a rotation. I see that the majority prefer to leave a project at some sort of a 'finishing' point rather than at the start of a new area. I'm going to take that on board and try to do that each rotation when possible.

Now having said that I have to admit that this rotation I didn't quite finish off the last area I was working on and last night I just didn't have the desire to keep going. So I thought it was better to stop rather than really force myself. I reluctantly have to admit I made a mistake on this piece and I've decided that it doesn't matter so I'm not going to undo it. So much for my rules!!!!

Actually I first made a deliberate change to the pattern when I was doing the quilt on the wall of the sewing room. The quilt was not symmetrical in its design. I was really surprised about that and, being a Libra, just couldn't live with it. So I added 3 columns to make the quilt symmetrical. I was really happy I did that. However, what I mucked up was the placement of the quilt on the linen. Somehow I got it two rows too high and didn't realise it. Then I counted from the quilt to the top of the bookcase and didn't double check this by counting from another part of the pattern so the bookcase ended up being two rows too tall. Whereas all the shelves are supposed to be the same height, now the second shelf is two rows higher than the other shelves. I'm annoyed about that but I've just added more fabric on that shelf so that it doesn't look empty compared with the other shelves. You can see this below. At least the mistake I made involved full rows and not half rows as can happen when working with linen. I know now I should have used more guidelines. If I make this piece again--and the kit came with enough fabric to make two more of these!--I will use more guidelines.

Chair, Quilt and Sewing machine. Note the 3 added columns on the quilt's right which made the pattern on it symmetrical.

Bookcase with extra tall second shelf.

So the rotation on this piece is over and what I didn't finish was putting all the fabric on the bookcase shelves. That will be where I'll pick it up next time. After that there is one small quilt above the sewing machine on the right then it is just the sampler border and saying.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Finished my Sampler rotation

Well it's Monday morning and I'm at the changeover from one rotation to the next. Last night, later than I'd expected, I finished working on the New England Sampler and I finished it at a good stopping point. I'm sure it took me more than the 2-3 hours I predicted and it didn't help that I made a tiny mistake and then had to undo stitches. But I have left it at a 'finishing' point without starting a new area and I've also left it without the mistake in it--another one of my 'rules'.

Can you see the single stitch gap in the purple row? Not leaving that was the mistake I made last night. There is a church steeple that goes through that gap. Anyway, I'm really glad I fixed that up!

Maybe I should put in writing some of the craft rules I've come up with over the years.

1. Always finish a project. (I guess most of us have this rule.)

I used to have a corollary to this which was Don't start a new project until you finish the project you're working on. ie only work on one thing at a time. I don't follow this rule anymore! (And sometimes this bugs me--but the results--getting things done that I otherwise wouldn't do--speak for themselves.)

2. Don't leave a project with a mistake in it. (You won't want to pick it up again because it will be a pain figuring out what was wrong and undoing it. Of course the longer you leave a project untouched with a mistake in it the harder it is the next time to remember what the mistake was and figure out what to do about it.)

3. Always, always, always go back and undo mistakes and re-do it right. Even if the mistake is invisible to 99% of the people who will look at your project YOU will always know it is there and your eye will be drawn to it whenever you look at the project and you will regret not fixing it. The amount of time it takes to fix a mistake is tiny compared to the volume of regret you will feel later.

Those are the main rules I can think of now. I have a particular cross-stitch rule which I guess most of us also have--Wash hands every time before working on a cross-stitch. Recently when I was working on a hot day and sweating and I was away from home I had to compromise about this rule. I've tried using hand sanitiser when I couldn't wash my hands. I don't know if this helped with cleanliness but at least I wasn't getting germs on my work!

This is my next project. I was looking at the pattern last night and it really looks like it will be a breeze to finish. One can always hope! Oh, it comes with two sayings. I'm going to do 'she who collects the most fabric wins'.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Good Progress on the New England Sampler

Here is a scan of the New England Sampler pattern cover. I discovered in looking at the actual cover that even the original is blurry! No wonder my photos come out blurry! This is very unsatisfactory when I'm trying to examine the picture to clarify a question I have on the pattern and all there is is blurr. I've even looked on the internet for a clearer picture and this is all there is. I did find another blogger working on this piece but she's done the top part down to the start of the state names whereas that's basically where I've started and I'm currently working down from there.

Today is my last day on this rotation and I'm just about at a good stopping point as well. Probably 2-3 hours work on it today will have me finishing the flowers and the purple separating line below the nautically themed band. I'm not sure if in this case it is good to stop there because it leaves me with two options on starting up again. Either do the village life band at the bottom or the historical band above the state names--or even count my way to the top of the sampler and work there. No too risky if I miscount. I'd rather do one of the bands adjacent to where I've already worked. So is flexibility good or should I choose one band and do a few stitches so that I'm committed to a choice for next time? Maybe I'll do a poll on this.

My next rotation is a new project! I'm going to start this small Juniper Designs project which will be a Xmas present for my sister.

Although I was told that the kit came with enough fabric and floss for both versions it disappointingly only came with one set of floss colours and it uses Ginnie Thompson Flower thread which I don't have a lot of. One version is in bright colours and the other is in darker 'country' colours. Well the kit contained two pieces of linen--one dark brown and one 'natural' but there was only the 'country' colored floss. I don't think the kit had been tampered with at all. So I'm going to use the 'natural' linen and the 'country' coloured floss. I think it will look nice. My sister is a quilter and she has a book shelf like the one pictured in the project filled with fat quarters filed by colour. We'll see how long the project takes as now I have two Christmas projects in the queue to get done.

I thought I should formalise my rotations as they will stand at the moment. So here are the projects I am rotating:

1. Golden Gate Bridge--55% complete (this is a small project so should finish quicker)

2. Verandas of South Battery--50% complete

3. New England Sampler--25% complete

4. The Fabric Collector--new project (but a small one!)

5. Map of Australia--80% complete (This one is a real pain with half and quarter stitches plus I'm changing the pattern and not really sure what I'm going to do with it. I am completing the border, however, so a good push on this should have me finish it soon.)

To be added into the rotation after July:

6.Felt Christmas Calendar--85% complete.

What I hope to finish this year:

Certainly #1 the Golden Gate Bridge. That's a smallie.

#5 The Map of Australia if it doesn't drive me crazy first.

#6 The Christmas calendar.

Obviously #4 The Fabric Collector if it's to be a Christmas present needs to be finished well before Christmas.

Then there are other projects (quilting) that I'm considering for this year. I have a collection of bright coloured flannel to make a lap quilt for my daughter. She keeps nagging me about this. I also have a lovely Civil War quilt kit to make a new quilt for my bed. I don't have photos of either of these but I'll put them up soon. If I start on these then obviously cross-stitch is going to fall behind. I'll just have to see what my priorities are.

Over the next two weeks my son is having some private French tutoring and I'm planning on sitting outside the tutor's house while he has his lesson and cross-stitching. So I should make some real progress!