31 October 2005
October recap
It's time to see where my first month of conscious charity involvement has gone. This is my first month with 25 Things for Charity. I'd like to thank Dianne once again for pointing this group out to me!

1. I sent off a box of toys for the children who are victims of Hurricane Katrina. This wonderful initiative was something I read about in Zoanna's blog.

2. I sent off my first four quilt squares to OECS.

3. I've completed two charity Christmas ornaments, one for Kelsey's Tree and one for the Healthy Families Illinois Thanksgiving Bazaar. You can read about these and other charities at Cyberstitchers. (I have to pop these into tomorrow's mail!)

I have talked with Max, my 7 1/2 year old, a little bit about charity and we are going to do Operation Shoebox this year. He will select toys, games, etc. to fill a shoebox that will be sent to a child abroad. I believe his school is sending their boxes to Indonesia. Holland has a pretty large Indonesian population due to the old days of having colonies. Max is pretty excited about this project, which will take place in November.

Also for November, I am contacting the local nursing home to find out how I can best play 'Secret Santa' for about 5 of the elderly folks living there. Here, gifts are given anonymously on the evening of December 5th. Instead of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas comes round. It's traditional to give the gifts anonymously, and I know all too well that there are too many elderly people who don't have family or friends who visit. I'm going to make 'Santa Sacks' with little gifts inside like Life Savers and no-slip socks and such. I want to ask the nursing home for gift guidelines and - if possible - names so I can personalize the sacks with some nice cross stitching or embroidery.

I have also checked out some new quilt squares organizations. There are so many incredible people out there. The bravery that it takes to face each day with a chronic illness ... it's so humbling. The mere thought of my own child having an illness is almost more than I can bear. The parents and children that these quilts go to are real heros. And the wonderful people who organize these charities and assemble the quilts and do the million and one administrative tasks associated with any organization are also heros.

Going around this month with an active, engaged attitude toward charity has been an interesting experience. It's kind of like dieting, in that you're suddenly very preoccupied with something that you formerly took for granted. I honestly never noticed that there is a nursing home on my route back from Monday night fitness until this month. Nor had I given much thought to the asylums set up to temporarily house refugees and political immigrants. I had not thought about how to voice my ideas about charity to my children (I'm a big believer in teaching by example, but sometimes some explanation really helps). I am most interested to see how much this "exercise" will have changed me and my family by the time the 12 months are up.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:38 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 1 comments
30 October 2005
in the frame

So for approximately 30 euro, I've purchased 5 wooden frames and had 5 mats cut to measure. I had the glue (bookbinder's glue) and some quilt batting already. I spent 35 euro the other day to have a cross stitch project of the same size professionally framed, so I am definately on the right track here.

(I got the best do-it-yourself framing tips from Shakespeare's Peddler.)

Here are a couple of pictures - one shows the projects as I stretched them and the other shows the first three to be completed.

posted by mainely stitching at 11:46 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 3 comments
a finishing frenzy
Or alternatively titled: It all began with an envelope

Actually, it began with my admiration of another envelope, made by Annemarie, but going back that far would make this quite a long story. So we'll begin with the Halloween Mailart Exchange envelope that I made for the Borduurlijst groep. This was my 2nd attempt at envelope-making, and although it's a lot better than the first one, there is obviously room for improvement. I felt pretty hopeless about my finishing skills.

Then I joined Stitching Smalls, a great online group devoted to the making of smalls - tiny, adorable little do-dads and ornaments. I saw a lot of beautiful projects. I worked up my courage and tried my first fob, for BeckySC to say thank you for her kindness & generosity. You may recognize this as my 'secret' rail roading experiment. Now while the stitching turned out good, the fob itself was a mixed success. I did it by hand and did my best but ... well. Again, there was a lot of room for improvement.

I asked for help in the smalls group and received lots of advice. I also looked in Romy's blog for tips. I started an over-one project to celebrate Annemarie's birthday and to show her how happy I am to have her for a friend. By the time the stitching was done, I had recovered my courage and was ready to make another try. Hooray - the result was a tremendous improvment!

I was so buoyed by my success with Annemarie's little foblet (as I think of it) that I felt ready to tackle the big stuff: Niek's anniversary pillow. I admit that I did not handstitch the sides but 'cheated' and used the sewing machine. However, my sewing machine is actually older than I am, so this isn't really too different from hand sewing. LOL. I did make the cording (that is 25 meters of silk twine you're looking at!) and handstitched that on. (Silks were bought here.)

Then it was time for the charity ornaments. I felt ready to try adding a beaded closure, one step up from the way I closed Annemarie's foblet. That was a total flop, for a number of reasons, but I took one step backwards and completed two Prairie Schooler "pillow" ornaments that came out fine.

I also started a small gift for Jim and Gaby. I hope they like it! I've tried to combine Gaby's love of hearts & flowers and neutral colors with Jim's appreciation for color and activity. This is from a freebie downloaded from Passione Ricamo and I'm stitching it on Lakeside Linens 28 ct Basketweave using NeedleNecessities 1412, over two. (Please excuse the horrible photo - it needs to be scanned.)

After breakfast I started re-upholstering our dining chairs. Each year for our anniversary I try to do one home improvement task. Last year I painted the living room. It's symbolic as well as practical - homes, like marriages, need a commitment of time that frequently gets lost in the hustle-bustle. What do you think of our new fabric? (One euro per meter - I love Ikea!).

Niek and the kids are removing (or relocating) our leaf accumulation while I type. The weather here is unseasonably warm and dry. We're loving it!

It is also time to get the other cross stitch projects framed. I've sworn off the framers here in Gouda - if anyone knows of a reputable framer in Zuid Holland, please tell me. In the meanwhile, I can handle the smaller framing jobs just fine by myself! I hope to tackle that this week.

To close:
A big round of applause for everyone who's offered me suggestions, assistance, and support, and another big round for the wonderfully generous friends who have send me charts, fibers, fabric, and notions. You are too kind! I really value your assistance and appreciate (and enjoy!) your friendship.
26 October 2005
managed to surprise myself
My anniversary gift for Niek is complete, and I've really surprised myself with the finished product. I would never have had the skill or the courage to do this project without seeing your projects, reading your instructions, receiving your advice, and just sort of soaking up inspiration from your many skills. So everyone, thank you!

Our anniversary is on Friday. It's so strange to think we've only been together for five years. The connection between us is so right that it feels very odd to realize that we have actually only spent a fairly small percentage of our lives together.

Niek changed my life the first time I met him (which was about 7 years ago), and that's not something I say lightly. I was in a terrible place in my life and had pretty much given up hope of ever feeling happy again. How is it possible that simply talking and laughing with someone for a few hours can turn around years' worth of depression and disappointment? I've often wondered if he's magic :-). After that first meeting, I began to actively change my life - which was terrifying to do, as I was living in a foreign country with a baby and no family near at hand. By the time circumstances conspired to throw Niek and I into the same orbit again about a year later, I was still licking my wounds but things were going a lot better. And a year later, after nearly daily e-mails during which we became friends and even dared show our less charming traits, we finally went out on our first date. Neither of us can even remember what we ate! (Though Niek does remember what I was wearing!) The experience of meeting him face-to-face again was like coming home, but to a home I never knew I had. He's given me the world, and this gift shows him that he has my heart.
25 October 2005
a polite request

When Max saw my completed Halloween envelope, he politely asked for a Christmas envelope. The kids know that I'm a total sucker for a polite request. And his flattery didn't hurt matters either! So I set to it on Sunday and finished it today (I can't stitch on Monday - too hectic!). He hasn't even seen it yet because school's still in session. I was really pleased with his reaction to my progress, but his ulterior motive soon became apparent. "Can we put it with my stocking on Christmas Eve?" he asked in his sweet voice. "Sure!" I answered. "Do you want Santa to see it?" "I want him to put something in it!" he exclaimed. (Don't worry, Santa, it isn't TOO big! LOL)I finally stopped laughing long enough to finish the stitching.

This was a Lizzie*Kate freebie entitled "Snowman's Holiday" that attracted Max by the bright colors & star. I changed the original verse ("My Christmas tis of thee") but used the original lettering and layout style. I also added Kreinik gold blending filament under the star stitches - it didn't scan, but the star really twinkles like gold, which will thrill Max to no end. I can't claim that L*K is one of my favorites (rather dull, those big blocks of color) but the end effect is certainly bright & cheery. Max also chose the 22 ct light blue Softana fabric, which was sort of like Aida with a drape to it.

This was a radical change from my last project, which was over-one on 28 ct antique ivory linen. It's a gift, but perhaps I can sneak in a teeny peek .... (I guess I'm an exhibitionist!)

The autumn weather has set in with a vengenance here. The first couple of days of rain didn't bother me - seemed rather cozy sitting inside, and going out was a bit of an adventure - but it is beginning to wear on me. I am such an outdoor person. You'd think that after 8 years here, I'd be fully acclimatized to the weather. Not.

But our weather is nothing compared to that received by areas in the hurricane-hit areas. My dad just weathered his first-ever hurricane (Wilma) with nothing beyond some stress and downed tree branches. Here's hoping that hurricane season has finally ended for 2005. Mother Nature, we've had enough!
22 October 2005
my niche
You've all visited me in my virtual niche, so (as requested :-)) here is a glimpse of my where I actually do my stitching (when I am not trailing it behind the kids, or sitting at the table with Niek while he plays online chess, or doing it in the car, or ... well, you get the idea).

We have two couches, and although the blue one fits me better, the yellow one gets more light. Our bookcase-cum-entertainment-area holds my DMC floss, working copies, WIPs, and completed pieces that haven't been framed or finished.

Upstairs in our bedroom I have a bureau that I stole from the kids wherein I keep my stash of specialty fibers, buttons & beads, evenweaves, finishing fabrics, etc. In my own closet I have an Ikea shopping bag (which will hold a toddler) with my linens and hand-dyeds. And in a truly massive shopping bag that my in-laws used to hold Nicky's ride-on car, I have all my other patterns. I don't come close to BeckySC's thousands of patterns (yet! wink), but I do have enough to embarass myself. I need a better storage system for the charts, but this will neccesitate buying a piece of furniture and that's a family affair around here. Our house is so small and full already that any large purchases have to be carefully considered. (The mess on the table is the preliminary stage of Max's Christmas envelope.)
fun times during rainy days
Wow, everyone has had such nice things to say about Hearts & Flowers - thank you all so much! I considered beginning the finishing last night while Niek was at table tennis, but I was awfully tired and fearful of making a mistake, so instead I finished my little teeny over-one project. Well, I finished the stitching. This weekend I will work on the the actual finishing. I've received some wonderful tips from friends & well-wishers on how to do a better job with my finishing this time around.

I fear I can't post a picture today, though, as the eensy weensy cutie is a gift for a friend. Oh dear. I do so love putting in pictures! Hopefully my railroading project will whiz through the international mails and I can soon post that one.

I have had a WONDERFUL time trying new things and I so appreciate everyone's comments. I started blogging because I wanted to meet some friends with similiar interests - the reality of blogging has just been incredible. I have met so many wonderful people online, learned so much, and seen such lovely projects. I feel like I belong to a big, cozy circle of friends. Thanks.

Oh, a special greeting today for my great Aunt Hattie who just underwent cataract surgery at 86. When spring returns to northeastern Maine, she will once again be able to enjoy the many birds that visit her dozens of bird feeders hung in the backyard. My mom's description of Aunt Hattie's protective eye patch have my boys imagining her as a swash-buckling pirate figure! (Picture lifted from here.)
posted by mainely stitching at 12:03 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
21 October 2005
one over one
So after my railroading experiment I've decided to do some one-over-one stitching on 28 ct linen. It's coming along well and I do love the teensy, weensy details. But, sadly, I can't show it to you yet! It's a gift for someone special who peeks in here regularly.

I have so enjoyed this little gem, however, that I've decided to undertake a large 1-over-1 project this winter. I guess I feel 'closer' to the tiny results because I barely make it to 5' 3" in my shoes.

It is raining here, though gently. After weeks of unnatural but extremely welcome & appreciated sunshine, our normal autumn weather has returned. Having some rain after lots of sunny days actually isn't too bad. When I'm inside, it feels very cozy to look outside and see the darker greens and browns and know that I'm warm & dry. Of course biking anywhere in this weather leaves a lot to be desired. I have been trying to bike more often - the gas prices make me very aware of our over-dependence on this limited energy source - but I won't bike with the kids in the rain. They get sick often & easy enough as it is!

Speaking of my wee beasties, two new humans have entered the race! Congratulations go out to Eric & Ingrid, who have a beautiful baby boy named Sven. Ingrid even dared let me hold him for a bit, which I really enjoyed. He will recieve his "Sweet Dreams" project (pictured in an earlier post) this weekend, as the framing shop just called to say it's ready to pick up. Pete and Olma Kimball have also gifted the world with the addition of their beautiful baby girl, Shaera Kimball Arangu. Pete is one of Sara's sons, and she nearly received her first granddaughter on her own birthday! Congratulations to all, and to everyone else I'd like to wish a happy un-birthday in the fine tradition of the Mad Hatter and March Hare!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:19 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
20 October 2005
Hearts & Flowers additional info
Wow, everyone, thanks so much for the wonderful comments. I feel all warm & fuzzy inside.

I've had a number of questions about the design, fibers, etc. which I will try to answer here. The chart is by Kathy Barrick-Dieter, of Carriage House Samplings, in 2003. It's not a design I've seen around very much for some reason. It does not come in a kit (so far as I am aware). I did not follow the color scheme, either. I used an autumn range of silks from my stash. The heart, phrase, and alphabet are done in "October Sky", a limited edition from the Thread Gatherer's Silk N' Colors range. It took nearly the whole skein, which sadly was my only one. The golds and rusts are also from Silk N' Colors (rusty amber, sunflower yellow, autumn honey). The greens are Needlepoint Silks Inc. Here and there I used some Kreinik silk mori. The linen is a 28 ct Cashel linen Silkweaver solo. Lakeside Linens has a regular color in their vintage line that comes close to this. I love the mottled, vintage effect. I think it would've looked even better done on a 32 ct, but then the Silk N'Colors would have been too bulky.

I am going to finish the piece as a pillow using natural, overdyed silk from The Natural Dye Studio. They have an eBay store and they're a seller I can happily recommend. I bought some other items that I've already used from them and the quality and shipping are excellent. You do have to be careful about exposing natural dyes to sunlight, though. With this item that won't be a problem - we'll keep it in our room to protect it from our wee beasties!

Once again, I thank you all. This was a wonderful project and your response made it even more fun and fulfilling!
19 October 2005
here it is!

Now on to the finishing - I'm planning to make a pillow of it using assorted silk fabric and fiber.

I also finished my railroad stitching project and will deliver it to the postoffice today. Once it is received, I'll post a picture of that, too.

We are having our first day of rain in quite awhile, so things here are kind of quiet. It's a nice day for finishing projects. This morning the kids and I hung winter treats out in our apple tree for our bird friends. We mostly get chickidees, as we always called them in Maine, or tits, as they're called in my bird book. I love watching their antics, and they remind me of home.
18 October 2005
in the lap of luxury

My order arrived from The Natural Dye Studio - assorted silk delicacies for projects both small and larger. I had to share the pics. One of the silk FQs will be used to finish Niek's gift, as shown in the photo. The others will give some of my smaller gifts a welcome touch of luxury. (One of which will hopefully go out in tomorrow's mail.)

Speaking of tomorrow, I can pick up my custom-cut matboard. The man is only charging me 2 euro to cut the pieces, so I think I may have finally found a solution to my chronic framing woes.
17 October 2005
It is autumn vacation here, meaning I get to work at night after the kids are in bed (thankfully I have a job that allows that!) and spend the days with the kids doing their stuff. Today Max and I took a shopping trip to Ikea to prepare for Christmas. Among other items, we came back with a real haul of frames. They have nice, simple, wood frames in a variety of stains and paint colors at a great price. Max was once again wonderful at making inspired color choices - his selection of what frame fit which cross stitch piece was much better than my own. After we got home I called a local hobby/art shop to ask if they would cut matboard to size so I can mount and frame my own work. They do, but will have to check the prices. This way, I can mount the pieces on a padded backing, which looks so much better. I've cut matboard myself, but I only have scissors, which makes it impossible to get an even edge. The framing shops want a fortune (to offset the fact they aren't getting the framing job, I suspect) and the only framer I have found here who does a decent job will NOT mount on a padded backing, and they are very vague on whether they use acid-free supplies. So... I will be framing this week! I'll post pictures as the projects roll off the assembly line. LOL.

For stitching, I have totally finished my Halloween mailart envelope which I am just DYING to post but can't. I have also been working on a little something that is coming together so very nicely. I just hope I don't wreck it with the finishing. It is a gift for a cyberfriend, so I can't post that either!!

For general feel-good stuff, today I received an envelope from BeckySC containing lovely, fun M Designs charts. Thanks so much Becky! You're so generous! The mailman has been really nice to me lately - I have received some wonderful LHN freebies and WDW floss from Cathy, fabric and floss from Silkweaver, towels from Charles Craft (via my mom, the Mail Fairy - thanks Momsie!), and other wonderful good stuff that makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

So, pictures are coming - hang in there with me!
posted by mainely stitching at 10:01 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
16 October 2005
friends and family weekend
Hello all. No new stitching pictures to share right now - it's been a weekend tied up doing fun things with friends and family. I did get the material needed to finish my Halloween mailart exchange done - can you believe I did not have any orange or pumpkin-y fabric? I will post this project as soon as I can. I'm eager to share it, but the recipient has this address and I don't want her to see it.

Yesterday we were with friends in Delft. Anja is a good friend from my early days in this country and she really took me under her wing (so to speak) during a rough patch 6 or so years ago. It's always a pleasure to get together with her and our kids play very happily together.

After our visit, we took the little fellas out to a restaurant. Ha ha. I bet they are still talking about us! I always took Max out to restaurants, from an early age, so he'd learn 'restaurant manners' (good advice from my parents). But we have not done that with Nicky & Rowen, and boy is it obvious!! Most people thought they were cute despite their antics, except the nasty chain-smoking couple in the corner. What kind of people chain smoke around little children in this day and age?! We all know the effect of 2nd hand smoke. Furthermore, I'm asthmatic and was practically dying in my chair, but they would not cease and desist. So maybe I didn't hold Rowen's crayon-throwing in check when she threw in their direction ... (bad mommy!)

Yesterday was also Sara's birthday. Happy (belated) birthday Sara! For anyone who doesn't know, Sara is the dear friend who taught me to cross stitch. She also taught me how to taste wine, how to double check that my skirt is not tucked into my nylons before going out, and a lot about how to enjoy life. She's a one-of-a-kind super-terrific always-in-my-heart friend. I hope you enjoyed your special day to the hilt, Sara!!

I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy!
14 October 2005
autumn's passing

Today I took Max and his best friend Niek to a big playground about half an hour from here. Their school is closed for yet another study day (for teachers, not students, to study) and it was my turn to take the boys so Niek's mom can work this time. They had so much fun! But honestly after 3 1/2 hours at a sandy, noisy playground, I was all too ready to pack it in! The boys were agreeable when I bribed them with popcorn and a DVD at home.

This week has really been wrapped up with the kids and their goings-on, which has been a nice break from all the other stuff that fills up life. We have been luckier than I can believe with the weather, too. Today was overcast but dry and reasonably warm. The other days have been full sun!

I have been stitching, too, here & there. I'm about this close to finishing Niek's (the husband, not Max's friend!) gift - good thing because our anniversary is the 28th! I will also need to get my Halloween mailart wrapped up and sent out. That is down to the sewing/finishing in envelope form. I hope to find a nice piece of lining fabric tomorrow after yoga. I have some silks coming in from eBay that I'm going to try to do some more elegant finishing than I have attempted in the past. Cross your fingers!
13 October 2005
giving thanks
Thank you all for bearing along with yesterday's Mommy Brag Day. Lots of interesting questions in the comments, too. All three of our kids are raised bilingually. We read to them and talk to them in both languages, though English is our at-home language. I had very strong opinions about having all three kids at home, naturally, but we had problems (with the midwife, not the labor) that resulted in Nicky being born in the hospital. I'm a strong proponent of at-home, natural childbirth, but I keep my opinions to myself unless asked :-). As for having another, well, Rowen really demands an incredible amount of energy so we're going to be content with the three we have. Probably. Almost certainly. Ha ha. The baby pictures from top to bottom are Rowen, Max, and Nick. On the subject of terribly cute baby pics, here is an old timer of my "baby" brother Rich, myself, and my cousin Katie stealing a ride on Uncle Paul's motorcycle.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Another big thank you goes to the truly wonderful and generous people who've responded to my plight of being unable to acquire freebies that require a SASE! Sara, that stamp will keep me out of trouble next time! Cathy, not only are the other LHN freebies you sent wonderful, but that skein of WDW is just begging me to use it right now! And Cathy, again, thanks for sending the Two Sheep freebie! Karen, that Thread Heaven is going to save me so much frustration and the LHN freebie you sent is perfect for an upcoming RR with a house theme! Everyone has been so fast and so generous with responses. I really, really appreciate it. I'm a lucky ducky.

And on the subject of thanks, in a tangential sense, I've been made aware recently of how very much I have to be thankful for. You know, it's sad, but in the day-to-day rush it's so easy to overlook how great life is. I've done odds & ends for charity and volunteer work, but I've been disorganized about it (like so many other things in my life!). So I was especially thrilled to see 25 Things for Charity in Dianne's blog the other day. I immediately signed up. The goal is to do/donate/arrange/etc. 25 "things" for charity in a 12 month period. The things can be whatever you want, for whatever charities you choose. The 12 month period can begin now, last month, after the holidays - whatever suits you. And the total of 25 things can be adjusted to suit your own reality. Maybe 12 fits your life better - that's great! Do 12! Or maybe you're a real Energizer bunny and you can whip out 50. That's great too! As for me, I am going to use this as an opportunity to sort out the various charities I donate to and set up a decent rotation. I am also adding new ones, and it may give me the courage to try other crafts than cross stitching. I'm not too bad at scrap booking/card making and I would love to learn knitting and patchworking. I'll have periodic updates in here about my progress and endeavors. Oh, I'm starting my 12 month period as of Oct. 1st to include a few things I did at the beginning of the month. I don't know if I'll reach 25 but I'll have fun trying.

In short, why don't you also take a look at this great initiative and see if you might like to join in. It's a fun group of people and a great chance to meet some other crafters online.

I hope this finds everyone happy & well.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:58 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
12 October 2005
a day without Niek
Or alternatively titled, "Barbara brags on her kids"

My DH is gone for the day, at my insistence, to enjoy some time with friends (after work) so the kids and I have been making a party of it. Max, our oldest, always has a half day of school on Wednesday, so when Nicky, Rowen, and I traipsed over to pick him up we made his day by asking if he'd like to go out for lunch. It's a gloriously sunny, warm October day here. I am actually wearing shorts & a T-shirt! At first we were going to eat downtown and then stroll around the open antique market, but the kids quickly decided that it was a much better idea to go to McDonalds and play on the outdoor playground. I often wonder what I did before I had children to make my mind up for me. LOL

So while Max attempted to keep Nicky happy on the (enclosed) playground, Rowen and I waited in line. And waited. Did you know that McDonald's is even busier in the middle of the day than for dinner? Anyway, just as we reached the point of being only 3rd in line, I heard Nicky wail. Every head in the place swung to the right, having also heard him. Nicky doesn't wail often, but when he does, he really makes it count. I pantomimed to Max to bring him in but I fear that Max will never be a stellar charades player. Eventually he figured out what I meant and both boys joined me in line. At this point everyone was openly staring at me - what crazy woman would take three kids alone to McDonalds?

While we were eating outside, Rowen pointed over to two leather clad men climbing on their motorcycles. Very clearly, my little 1 1/2 year sugarplum said "motorcycle" and wouldn't take her eyes off them. Or off the leather clad bikers. We won't mention this part of the story to Niek, who has decided Rowen can begin dating right after she turns 30.

Nicky braved the big slide, while I did a great impression of a mother who is not worrying about her son becoming lodged in the closed slide tube and being extracted with something like the Jaws of Life. He loved it, and everyone heard his whoop, which is much more common than his wail.

Max was the perfect big brother throughout - encouraging and watching out, but not really taking over. At one point a little boy of about 4 looked up at him and said, "What's the name of your baby?" Max very solemnly answered, "Nicky." You'd have thought he was 45.

The other amazing thing Rowen did today was to put on my shoes and then clearly say, "Kijk es naar mijn schoenen." For the non-Dutch, this is equivalent to 'Take a look at my shoes.' A five-word sentence at 1 1/2!! Is she amazing or what?

Today's pictures are of the three of them as newborns, all within the first day or two "on the outside". Can you tell which is which?
11 October 2005
speaking of sheep
this will surprise no one who knows me

Which flock do you follow?

this quiz was made by alanna

(Stole this from Jenna's blog - thanks, Jenna!)
posted by mainely stitching at 11:12 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
thank you! (edited for picture)
Sara, I wish I could give you a big hug! Thanks!! I will be prepared for future SASE emergencies! Are you making preparations for a fun birthday celebration, by the way??

And Cathy, thanks so much for sending the chart! I was terribly disappointed when Diane, of LHN, couldn't send me an electronic copy!

I'm so lucky with all my wonderful friends!

(I've tried to take several pictures of my railroading project, but our poor camera is nearly ready to be put to rest. Maybe I'll have better luck with the scanner.)

(I did! Here is a small detail.)
10 October 2005
Little House Needleworks "Two Sheep" freebie sought
Hi everyone. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful day with plenty of pleasurable stitching time.

Does anyone have a copy of Diane's latest freebie, "Two Sheep"? It's only available by sending her a SASE and I'm all out of US stamps. I contacted her to ask for an electronic copy (which HIH always provides me when I ask) but she says she's unable to supply electronic copies. However, she said it is fine for me to ask other stitchers for a copy. So here I am, begging not asking!
posted by mainely stitching at 12:29 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 2 comments
09 October 2005
Probably everyone else knows about this stitching technique, but it's new to me. I've been busy with silks and have been frustrated at getting them to lay flat and nice. While I was looking up how I could finish my Christmas ornaments, I came across a brief mention of railroading stitches to force them to lay flat. Basically, you come down between your two threads with your needle and the pesky little fellas are forced flat. I'm working on a little something now and have done this faithfully, each and every stitch, and I'm really excited by how great it looks. The downside is, it's taking me about 3 times longer than normal stitching!

What do you do?
Not sweat the small stuff and be happy with reasonably tidy stitching (my method till now)?
Do you use a laying tool? If so, what kind? I hold my frame (Q Snap or hoop) with one and and stitch with the other, so I'd need something that would work that way. Or does anyone else use this method of stitching? (And if so, will I ever get faster at it?)

Sadly, no picture tonight although I am terribly tempted to put in some little piece of my current project. Maybe next time.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:56 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
08 October 2005
feeling better
Hi! I finished my PS Santa and looked in my The Cross Stitcher's Bible for advice on how to finish the ornaments nicely. I'm thinking of using counted chain stitch to connect the backs & fronts, and then stitching some sort of cording around the join. Does that sound alright? Truth be told, I've avoided 'real' finishing because I'm frightfully intimidated by it.

Tonight I started a little Shepherd's Bush project to thank a friend for her generosity and kindness, but I can't post it because she's also a reader. I'm trying to make my stitching look better, so I've been 'railroading' (a tip from the CS Bible, mentioned above). It's time-consuming, but I must admit that so far it does look good.

On the subject of flat threads, I'm trying to find out more about the Grip-It laying tool, which sounds like it would be ideal for me, but the woman I've been in touch with is v-e-r-y s-l-o-w at answering her email; I've asked 3 times now what kind of payment she accepts. Oh well, good things come to those who wait.

Yoga went very well. I could do a couple of maneuvers that had eluded me until today. I've been at it for 5 weeks now, and progress is definately welcome! Anyway, it made me feel slightly less like a humanoid hippo :-).
posted by mainely stitching at 11:30 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
07 October 2005
I'm all out of 'em.

Niek, the man who'll wear his underwear till they are more hole than material, who wears his Tshirts long past the stage where you truly can read a paper thru them, told me this morning that my shirt was a bit too ... well, used! ... to wear to work. Yesterday he pointed out that my pants were decidedly unflattering.

It must be admitted that I am one of those apparently very rare women who absolutely abhors clothes shopping. And, okay, the clothes I was wearing were older than most of our kids. I think Max was up to 2 & 3 word sentences the last time I went clothes shopping and actually bought clothes.

So this afternoon I ventured out thinking really, how hard can it be to find one or two stretchy-type pullover thingies and a pair of pants? Three stores later I was dangerously close to tears and convinced that if only I could sing, I would do any opera proud. You know, for the end part, where the fat lady sings.

What do they DO to those changing room mirrors? Surely I don't really look like that? Botticelli's Bathing Beauties, Rueben's Runway - I could be a star. Tomorrow I have my hour & half yoga workout, maybe I can convince myself that all is not lost.

Today's artwork is borrowed from here.
06 October 2005
space invaders

Aliens have appeared in the Netherlands. They appear to be silly and rather harmless. We are urging the populace not to panic. The aliens seem particularly fond of chocolate milk and gingerbread.
posted by mainely stitching at 11:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
making lemonade

Yes, yesterday became rather discouraging with the near constant ripping ... so following common sense (my own and that of helpful readers), I spent today working on something different and ignored the deadline for Hearts & Flowers. I had promised one Christmas ornament for charity, and since there are many other also asking for ornaments I just kept going. Here are the 4 I've worked on today, though the fourth isn't finished (ABC Santa by Prairie Schooler). I think I will use the two PS designs for one double-sided ornament and the other two (taken from a Danish OOP booklet I found) for another. They are tiny pieces, all roughly 40 by 40, stitched over two on the identical pieces of 32 ct evenweave (jobelan?) from my ho-hum Silkweaver grab bag.

Life gave me some lemons and I decided to make lemonade today. Enjoy!
posted by mainely stitching at 11:22 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments
05 October 2005
stitch one, unstitch two

Ever had one of those kind of days? I'm feeling rather under the gun to get this done for framing, so it will actually be a finished item for our anniversary, but today I swear that for every stitch I made, I had to take out two. Argh!

And, to my unhappy surprise, when my Silkweaver grab bag finally arrived (I'm sure our mailman has been bypassing our house, and I actually found this in my bike shed - is that weird or what?) it was a huge 'ho hum' experience. Last year's grab bag was so great that I had been kicking myself for not ordering two - when I went back online to order another (to heck with the shipping costs!), they were already sold out. So I've been waiting with bated breath for this packet to arrive. Only to be, well, not disappointed, but certainly ... bored. I got two small pieces of identical Linda (sadly, I have a couple pieces of this same color already), a teeny piece of evenweave that is really so small I don't know what I'll use it for, and another piece of evenweave (the biggest in the bag, yet barely what I'd call medium sized) in white. White? Too small for charity stitching, which is the only time I use white. For the linens, I got a nice red and mulberry, small pieces but enough to do an ornament or something small on, a piece of ivory and a piece of natural. Yawn. Did anyone else get such a dreary, dull assortment of almost-too-small-for-anything pieces, or did I just have bad luck?

Luckily, the big piece of 40 ct linen I splurged on (unbeknownst to Niek, so don't tell!) was as beautiful and unusual as it looked on their website! Not sure what this will become, but I just fell in love with this swatch when I saw it. It's a color I would love to live in if that makes any sense!
am I lookin' good?
Nah, I haven't suddenly begun noticing mirrors & other reflective surfaces, I mean Is my little virtual niche looking good.

A couple of months back, the HTML good fairies at Design-A-Blog re-created my blog look to reflect the 'real me' (no fat pants or sweatshirts, either!) and now these talented artists are offering an interesting incentive:

This is how it works.
1. You put our button on your site.
(I did! Scroll down my sidebar.)
2. Two people come to us, having visited your site, ask and pay for a new blog design.
(That would be the part YOU do, Dear Reader.)
3. We give you a blog design of your own, FOR FREE!
(This can also be given as a gift to another blogger.)

But I'm also just so darn happy with what Lisa and Jane have done for me that this is really just a reminder of what they can do for YOU!
04 October 2005
tying up loose ends with good deeds

I just got my quilt squares sent to OECS today. They are a full week late, but last week all the kids and Niek were ill, so it was a 'lost' week. I also got my box of stuffed toys sent out for distribution among the child victims of Hurricane Katrina. For more about this wonderful initiative please read Zoanna's blog. The toys are also a week late, but I shipped them priority so they will arrive well ahead of the deadline. (And I am once again lining the deep pockets of the postal service!)

With the never-ending rounds of illness, it's been hard to find time to stitch. I did get some stitching and re-stitching done on "Hearts & Flowers" on Sunday while poor Niek spent the day in bed. I need to get this one wrapped up this week if I'm going to have it professionally framed. The clock is ticking loudly!(The colors are more subdued than they appear here.)

I am also eager to do my charity Christmas ornament. Lots of organizations are collecting ornaments - Anita has provided a great list over at Cyberstitchers. I'm sending this year's ornament to Kelsey's Tree, as I had promised them one way back in the spring.

I'm also doing a quilt square for the Hurricane Katrina Quilt Project, though I have not decided on the design yet. New Orleans holds a special place in my heart - I cherish the memories of the time I spent down there, and I am a dyed-in-the-wool blues fan. So I want to do something extra-special. Speaking of Katrina, have you all gotten your lovely free download from M Designs? If not, sign up now.

I'm also eager to get busy with the big RR that a few stitchy friends are putting together. We're building our own neighborhoods - cool, huh? There are (or will be) nine of us in the group, and each will stitch one house (or other building) on each person's neighborhood. So 9 houses total. It'll run over a year, but what a treasured heirloom will result from the labors! So far, we're a very international bunch: USA, Netherlands, Germany, and Australia are represented. And probably a couple more that I've missed.
01 October 2005
september recap, on to october
My calendar is stubbornly insisting that today is October first. Of course, I know better - that would be impossible. It can't be later than the 12th or 13th of September, surely?

I'm embarassed to do this, but here are my September goals and how far I got with them:
1. Progress on Good Things
This has become a temporary UFO. I had to admit around the 17th that I could not possibly get this done in time for my anniversary. Replaced by "Hearts & Flowers."
2. Complete mailart exchange.
Done (except the finishing, but my goal referred to the stitching).
3. Stitch twins' names on birth samplers.
Not done. 50 lashes with a corded pinkeep.
4. Stitch birth gift for friends.
5. Complete house section on mom's garden sampler.
Not done! I'm sure there is a special punishment for procrastinating, cross stitching daughters in the afterlife.
6. Complete other quilt squares for OECS charity.
Not done and charity leader informed. I have come to the realization that my 'outside' stitching commitments have gotten out of hand and are seriously affecting my overall stitching enjoyment.
7. Compose original Sylkamode envelope.
Not done.
8. Grammie Davis sampler.
Not done.
9. Enter one competition piece.
Done. Entered two, actually.
10. Don't buy new stash.
Failed to a shocking degree.

Ahem. Rather embarassing. Maybe no one will read today's post.

What did I do this month?
* I have made good progress on "Hearts & Flowers" which replaces "Good Things".
* I've started Aunt Hattie's Christmas gift.
* I've organized a meeting of wonderful stitchers from "around here" and enjoyed a great day here at home with them. I've met some new online friends, too. Through my stitching friends, I've been exposed to some new designers and worked up the courage to begin some BIG projects after the Christmas holidays.
* I've worked on the planning stages of a too-cool RR with Annemarie, Rachael, Dianne & Novia. More on this in the new year.
* I've scaled down my outside projects and that's made me feel a lot better.
* I've reorganized all my stash so I can actually find what I want in moments instead of needing half a day. LOL.

This month has also seen about 3 weeks of illness - every single one of us has been sick at least 2 full days this month! There's also the weird acclimation to the new season, which just seems to drain the energy right out of a person. We've had something like 5 free school days, which has wrecked havoc with work (that place that pays me to buy stash when I'm supposed to be on the wagon LOL).

I don't even dare make "promises" for October. I am looking now toward everything I hope to do between now & Christmas, which I've listed in my sidebar. I'll cross things out as I complete them.

The sun is shining, my muscles are nicely tired from a grueling 1 1/2 hour yoga workout with Dominatrix Trix. She's not really a dominatrix, but she could be! She's a fantastic instructor, truth be told, and it's always good to know where one's absolute boundaries lay. I'm going to hop back on my bike now and take Rowen shopping while Niek and Nicky visit the barber. Our Maxie is off for the weekend, hopefully having good fun.

Today's pictures are one of my versions of Erick Christian's "Little Tugger"(I did a day version and a night version for the twins' birth samplers) and Rowen & Max on the sofa yesterday morning.
posted by mainely stitching at 10:53 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ | 0 comments