I finished my own Alpine Frost shawl over the weekend. I had actually started mine a few months ago and I liked it so much I wanted to make one for Julie's birthday. When hers was finished I immediately went back to mine. And then finished it. It's quite a bit longer than Julie's — mine is about 90" long and about 25" wide. I blocked it like crazy, stretching it in every direction as far as I could. A pin holding every picot point. (I added the picot edging; it's not in the pattern as written, but the details are on my Ravelry page for it.) What I love about this yarn is that it really has no shine at all. It's completely matte. And downy soft. And light as that feather. And tumbles into a copious mound of frothy billows around my neck. Where it sits right now since it's 56 degrees out. Which I don't mind now that I have this thing.
Now on the needles (as it has been since May, also) is Quill, Quill the color of antler, its garter stitch center section complete and on round 12 of its Old Shale border. Fingering-weight yarn feels heavy after so many hours (and hours and hours) or crocheting lace-weight.
It's been a really busy few weeks. I've spent my time alternating between building my new web shop and working on the new ornament kits. Neither is finished. The web shop — it's shocking how many hours it requires. I'll be beyond thrilled when it's finished and functional. Occasionally I have my doubts that it will ever be either. Occasionally I feel that I've taken the DIY thing too far in trying to do this mostly myself. But that's what I can afford. And I want it to be a certain way that doesn't quite fit the standard template. I'm hoping it will be up and running sometime next month. I will be so happy!
I meant to say thank you for all of your sweet anniversary wishes last week. Thank you so much for those! I haven't had a chance to even scratch the surface of the iced tea recipes, partly because the weather has turned so cold again that it makes hot tea more appealing than cold. Not complaining, but . . . it's strange. I suppose it makes for good TV-watching weather, though, with the Olympics coming up. (Actually, there's nothing I like more than all of the programs leading up to the Olympics that explore different aspects of the host city [especially when it's London]. I love those!) The news of the world has been so sad lately (my heart goes out to Colorado this summer) I'm hoping that the Olympics can truly foster a spirit of brother- and sisterhood on an individual and international level.
My own little sister, Susie, comes to stay with us for a two-week visit a week from today. Andy has ordered the sour-cream-and-onion popcorn seasoning and I need to get stovetop espresso maker to cook up her quadruple-shot lattes. I can't wait. We're planning a movie marathon of our individual and family favorites. Obviously, Seems Like Old Times tops the list. Oh I adore that movie. Can't wait to see my sissy.
Summer seems to have truly arrived! I know this because I've had my air conditioner on for two days and am afraid to leave the house.
Thank you so much for all of your incredibly kind comments yesterday. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoooooo
I got four of the books you recommended! I am excited! I am very drawn to books that have very strong plots lately. I need the plot. My life feels overly busy lately, so I like that feeling of following a line (doesn't have to be straight) through a book. I want to be hooked and pulled through the water. By a tugboat. Towed in.
Do you make good iced tea? I'm trying to learn. I love iced tea, but half the time mine is really disgusting.
*To those who have asked, yes, the crewel embroidery is from Embroidery Companion, and the Tanglewood bag pattern is here :-). Thank you!
It feels like we're in the middle of a winter twilight this morning. In the yard the air smells like the rainy woods. It's been raining on and off for days, and the light is so dim all I can see in my house are the bright spots of windows. My neighbor's black and white kitters watches me from her back porch every morning as I make my coffee in our kitchen. It occurs to me that I could head back upstairs and climb back under the covers with Andy and Clover (Clover, who is sitting under the quilt that Andy made for himself! Guest post?). But I've got so much going on downstairs these days that it has been making me anxious, and I know I'd better begin my week. Today, we're going to continue cleaning out and painting Andy's office, which is half-filled with Posie stuff: probably two dozen bolts of wool felt, shipping boxes, embroidery supplies, kits, yarn, fabric. Craft stuff takes up so much space. We don't have that much space. Well, it's more like we need to use our space efficiently, and the poor office has been neglected. Nanny Katie and Eileen Beatrix, my trusty assistants, have both gone on to find full-time jobs; I am very happy for them, though we all miss them around here. Their friend Greta has come to help, and she is amazing, and is getting me all whipped into shape. We tore my studio apart a few weeks ago and put it back together piece by piece, in a much more organized way. Andy's office is still in turmoil, but we're getting there. Greta will be completely taking over the assembly of past-years' ornament kits, and is in the process of counting every skein of embroidery floss and every cut piece of felt we have left over in preparation. I'm thrilled to have the help, nervous about how it will all go, but also filled with new ideas as a result.
It's a funny little business, this little business. It requires you to be both artistically creative but also mired in the details — of pattern writing, of order filling, of supply ordering, of financial balancing, of kit assembling, of proofreading, of space managing, of web site programming. Most of this stuff never makes it to the blog, though in real life I can talk my head off about it (usually to Andy) and it takes up the bulk of my working time. I am a fairly organized person but my systems are seriously archaic, and lately I have been having trouble managing the systems while making time to work on new things. This summer that's changing: newly organized storage spaces, new filing system, new web site (I do my own so it's seriously flawed and jerry-rigged), new shipping module (THANK GOODNESS), new shopping cart (OH THANK GOODNESS), new things (photo prints), awesome new assistant to take over some of the old things, new supplies, and eventually new ideas. It will get worse before it gets better, but I really think it's going to get so much better, and it will free up my time to design more. And that is what I really want to do.
Against the backdrop of all this chaos: My Mrs. Delany–inspired cross-stitch sampler on black was finished and framed and pleased me beyond words. Should you care to view it at a larger size, click on the image and a bigger view onto its buzzing little world will open. I call it my Summersprigs sampler and I think it came out right cool, if I do say. I'm working on the pattern/chart for this, but in the chaos of our reorganization I won't be doing a kit for it at this time. I want to, but I think it will be too much for us to manage right now. Since this is a summer-themed project, I want you to at least have the pattern in this sumer, and that will be finished in a couple of weeks. I'll point you toward sources for materials and will eventually have them available a la cart myself when the new web site is finished. My goal is to be able to carry the supplies — at least, the special supplies — that anyone would need to make most of my patterns.
Slowly but surely, I think I'll get there. I usually do. Right now I feel like there are six or seven things going on all at the same time, and I'd like to whittle that list down these next few weeks, as I am not a natural multi-tasker. I am a natural single-tasker. And you know what offce reorganization means: IKEA TRIP!!! My happy place. I really wish that specific Ikea-cinnamon-roll smell stayed permanently embedded in the furniture. Nothing makes me happier than to open that cardboard box of boards that will become shelves at home and have that wave of cinnamony scent remind me of my happy moments sitting in fake Ikea living rooms (and, I guess, also the time I blew a fuse and put myself in time-out in the Poang chair, which was also in its own, weird, semi-conscious way pretty damn nice). They should sell Ikea-scented candles for meditation.
I had a nice day yesterday. I think fabric shopping is the best, most fun, and most wonderful activity. Extremely relaxing. I thought about fabric a lot yesterday. Isn't it weird that humans like to look at stuff (plants) and then try to draw (and paint and embroider) little versions of that stuff? Do you ever think about that? What compels us, throughout the centuries, to draw little versions of things (like flowers) and put them on other things (like fabrics)? And why do some things appeal to me and not to you? And why do some things appeal to you and not to me? Why do I like certain colors, and not other colors? Where do these preferences come from, I wonder? I asked the lady at the fabric store (who was cutting about fifteen little 1/8-yard strips of all of my fabrics, so we had some time to hang) if people "seemed" like the fabrics they bought. First she said, What? (So I said it again.) Then I think she understood what I meant and she said Only sometimes.
What I want to know is: Who is buying all the batik at Fabric Depot??? (Partiers, I think! Right? :-) Is that not the biggest batik collection in the First world or what? Partiers, head to FD.
Sometimes I think I'd like to work at a fabric store and see people loving every different kind of fabric there is. And then I'd love to see who it was that was loving each one, and ask them about it. Why do they like it? I think those would be cool conversations to have.
Anyway, I think this new virtual quilt involves something I've only ever heard about, but never before chosen to experience. It's called fussy cutting. Fussy cutting is when you cut a piece of fabric to include a specific motif. I personally think it should also apply when you are cutting one of anything. My quilt: It contains one rectangle that measures 10 1/2" x 4 1/2". Interesting, Alicia. It's not only fussy cutting, it's fussy unfolding, fussy measuring, fussy cutting, and fussy refolding. And then the stack falls over.
Well, I ran into my very dear and beautiful friend Elizabeth at Mill End Store yesterday and showed her the design on my phone and we both agreed it was likely going to keep me out of trouble for a while. Hoping.
People occasionally ask me how I buy my fabric. Answer: Like a breakdancing lunatic. I have no method. I never know what anthing is called, I barely know what store I'm in, and I just get some. And do some moves.
Well I had an adventure trying out the new kit. I will illustrate how I felt during each stage (I identified 3). Let's call the first stage Readiness:
That's right. Ready for anything, bring it on. I opened a kit, got my nice new scissors and hoop. Looked at the floss for a good long while, feeling good. Then I started separating the floss.
I will admit that I did not properly allocate time for this. This seemed daunting. I started looking more closely at the flosses. What makes something tiger's eye compared to dirt road? Or bullfrog vs. hosta. (These are the color names.) At first glance I was like "nothing". But after separating them all I could TOTALLY TELL!!
Then I took Alicia's advice and made a little holder thingy. I used some extra foamboard I had in the basement. Love it! All lined up and ready to be used, like a toolbox. Time for the second stage. Let's call it Working:
Oh, you noticed. These aren't Alicia's pictures. I took them all with my phone and then had to crop them from verticals to horizontals. Sorry bout that.
So with my arsenal of floss, I was ready to sit down and start. I read Alicia's cross stitch tutorial again (it told me to read it in the instructions). Yea yea yea. Tie a knot in the back who cares count out where the next motif starts. I got this. Easy. Make an x. Make an x next to it. Yea. One two three four five six... wait five six... wait FOUR five six... What the. Maybe I just messed up. Start again. Four five six seven... I can't see it this. Go back to the tutorial. Tie a knot in the back if you want, count, yea yea yea. Got it.
Yes, I read the instructions.
No. I didn't get that. I sort of skipped over that. Each stitch of the X goes over TWO threads of fabric, not one. The center of each X goes over an empty hole. Ohhhhhhhh!! That makes it SO MUCH easier to see. And count! So each X is sort of like the 5 on a dice. Ohhhhhh! Oops. Okay. I'm feelin it. It feels good. Look at my slug (and notice my mess-up in the upper right section of the hoop, where I was doing... 28 stitches per inch):
Oh now I'm cookin with gas. Turn up the music! Looking at the grid. Finding that the holes are HUGE. Improvising from lower left to upper right first then going upper right to lower left. Yea that's right, I said it. Honey badger don't care.
Mayday!! Mayday!! What happened? Oh. I just went too far. Back it out. No biggie. Back on track.
And on it goes.
Now we ain't got no slug, we got us a SNAIL. What! Alicia drew it and I made it. Yay. Switch floss.Tiger's eye? C'mon son. Of course I'm psyched to use string called tiger's eye. And pretty soon it's all like:
Hey look, in the background it's Nanny Katie putting together kits. Is she stuffing yours right now? Also, notice the thumb. Yes, I will go trim my nails. Right now... BRB.
Hi. I'm back. Look at that thing! He looks quite proud, going about his business. Don't you think? I know how he feels, cuz I just made my first "cross stitch motif". Which brings us to the final stage. Let's call it Accomplished.
Did it! Feeling competent and good. I totally made that!!
Well it's time to release this little fella back to his natural environ:
Playing with designs inspired by Mrs. Delany. I'll have more to say about them, and her, when I get my thoughts sorted out. For now I've been experimenting with interpreting some of her collages onto grids, and messing around with lots of variegated flosses to teach myself more about shading. Trying to get natural-ish effects. I've also been using lots of different thread-count fabrics with different fiber contents. It all reminds me so much of working on my book a few years ago, except that I never felt like I had the luxury of time it takes me to really experiment. Book schedules are blistering. I much prefer this fussy percolation.
Ann's bread, on the other hand, happens quickly, with minimal effort:
Ann's No-Knead Bread
Combine and set aside: 2 c. flour 1/4 c. sugar 1 T. salt (I use Kosher salt) 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 pkgs.) active dry yeast
Heat until warm: 1 c. water 1 c. milk 1/4 c. vegetable oil
Have on hand: 1 egg 2 to 2 1/2 c. flour Butter
Mix egg with the liquids, then stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Blend at lowest speed on mixer, then blend on medium for 3 minutes. By hand stir in another 2 to 2 1/2 c. flour. Cover, let rise 50 minutes until light and doubled in size. Stir down. Spoon into greased 6" x 9" loaf pan. (If your pan has short sides you might want to split it up and put it in two smaller pans; it rises quite a bit. I think my pan is actually 5" x 8".) Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Brush top with butter.
Hello! Hi! Thank you so much for all of the orders!!! I'm so excited. Thank you also for all of your kind comments and kind words. I can't wait to ship everything to you and see what you think. I am thrilled that so many of you are getting embroidery supplies, too. I stitched a lot this weekend myself. The weather here has been wild and woolly — today everything's blowing around out there like crazy, and it is very cold. There go the petals off our tree. Whoosh. I'm kind of tired. Going to go grocery shopping and not much else. A day of quiet. This squirrel sat on our porch and stared into the dining-room window for about five minutes straight the other day. It was so bizarre. Andy walked up to the window about three feet away from the little guy and still he did not move. I can see why people want to draw pictures of them wearing little straw hats and trousers. Don't you love his little front legs, all collected and proper like that? He looks rather hopeful. Like we might let him in for lunch.
Hi! How are you? I've been busy! Are you ready to work on a cross stitch sampler? Because the kit for this one is almost ready for you, and will be starting to ship in about two weeks! Yes. I am very, very excited about this.
The Winterwoods ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now ready to order here!
This counted cross stitch sampler was inspired by our walks in the woods near Mt. Hood, Oregon, this winter. It is stitched on 28-count linen (that's 14 stitches per inch) with variegated hand over-dyed six-strand cotton embroidery floss. Because the floss is naturally variegated, each element of the sampler contains variations of color and hue, giving the motifs depth and texture with very little effort on your part.
If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need some quick lessons to refresh your memory, please be sure to read my counted cross stitch tutorial before you start. (Oh, and this is how I organized my floss.) Once you get the hang of it, this sampler is simple to work up and I think you'll have it done in no time! (But not too quick, 'cause it's the type of thing you want to hang out with a while.)
Finished Size of Design Area: 8" x 10" (20cm x 27cm)
This Winterwoods ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit contains:
One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 28-count Cashel linen in Smokey Pearl Fourteen colors of Weeks Dye Works hand over-dyed 6-strand cotton embroidery floss Stitching instructions and color cross-stitch chart
Twill tape to wrap around the inner hoop. You don't need to do this, but it's nice, and provides more tension to keep the fabric from slipping out of the hoop as you stitch.
Size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.
To order any or all of the supplies (which will be shipped with the kits), please visit my web shop.
We will ship overseas and have a new shipping program for that! Yay yay. Very happy about that. To see the shipping costs for your location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. We have a kind of a complicated system for making sure that everyone gets what they ordered on time, and post-ordering emails requesting address changes really mess with that when there are a lot of orders coming in at once. So if you can get it all straight on your end before placing your order, I would be ever ever ever so very, very grateful. Thank you.
I still have a rather complicated shopping cart system going on in my web shop. There are three different genres of things for sale in the shop: Kits and supplies, downloadable crochet patterns, and downloadable sewing and embroidery patterns. Kits and supplies orders that need to be physically shipped go directly through Paypal. To view the cart for them, click on the button at the top of the site that says "View Cart for Kits and Supplies." Crochet patterns go through Ravelry and are purchased one at a time. Sewing patterns go through another digital products service and can be purchased several at a time; to view the cart for them, click on the button at the top of the site that says "View Cart for Patterns Only." Kind of complicated, I know, but somehow it all seems to work out fine. But this year I truly do want to try to reconfigure my shopping system. If you have any confusion, just let me know and I will totally help steer you in the right direction.
As I mentioned, I expect to begin shipping on March 21. The printed patterns arrived last week and I think they look absolutely beautiful. The floss is all packaged. The embroidery supplies are here and are even prettier in person. The fabric (we've just been waiting for the fabric) arrives in New Jersey today or tomorrow, and then as soon as they're done cutting it there it will be on its way here to Oregon next week. The minute it arrives here we will begin final assembly of the kits and start packing them up. It's kind of an exciting, stressful time. I always get frazzled. And emotional. This project saved me this winter. I think about everybody out there stitching these, all over the country and the world, and it really makes me happy. I wonder if you will enjoy the process of making this, what you're watching on TV when you stitch, what's going on in your life, whether you are new to embroidery or old to embroidery. Every time we do kits there are so many of your names that I recognize, over and over again, on the orders. Thank you for that, sincerely. I am so grateful. I really hope you like this kit!!!
*If you have your own materials and are waiting for the downloadable PDF pattern for this sampler, it will be available in a few weeks, after we get the majority of these orders shipped is available here. Thank you!
I wasn't sure if it would work. We had forty-six cones of floss (in fourteen different colors), and I wanted to be able to unwind them into 18" lengths, all at the same time. We bought three 6-foot-long 2"-x-4"s, pounded enormous nails (each about 6" long) equally spaced down the length of each board, then placed the cones on the nails. We had another little board with a big eye bolt twisted into it, to act as a big needle. Then we clamped everything to the table, and threaded all of the ends of the floss through the eye bolt, and pulled. You have to pull hard. All forty-six cones turn at the same time. It's loud. And really cool. You pull enough out so that you can measure an 18" length (indicated by two pieces of blue tape on the table), and then cut all of the strands of floss at the same time. Then you fold them all neatly and put them in a little bag. Over and over and over again. We've been taking turns at it. I've heard a few people mention that this concept is like a Lazy Kate, which I think is generally used (on a much smaller scale) to ply yarn? It's actually really fun. It's gotten easier to pull as the cones have gotten smaller. I was pretty dang excited that it all worked!!! And it looks so pretty, too.