Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Bright Feathers

I finally finished stitching Bright Feathers.  I designed this before I learned to quilt.  I had tried to learn how to quilt but hadn't had much success.  I still loved the designs, however, so to get around my lack of quilting skills I started translating traditional quilt patterns into cross stitch.  This is one of those.  I'll probably rework the other designs as quilt patterns at some point.  I'm planning to do some actual quilting on this when I make it into a wall hanging.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Granny Square Poncho

Lately, I've been curling up in front of the computer under an old cotton blanket, which is cozy, but kind of a pain since I have to keep readjusting it and clutching the front of it closed. So, I decided to make a cotton poncho. No pattern, I just grabbed some cotton yarn from my stash, decided on a color palette, and got to work. I crocheted granny squares in the shape of a poncho using a join-as-you-go method and added borders. The color placement was completely random. I made a few mistakes in the joinings, but I couldn't be bothered to rip back and fix them once I discovered them.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Fat Kat Tuesday

I finished Fat Kat Tuesday, a Mini-Kats™ design by Linda Connors of Calico Crossroads®, adapted from the artwork of Kathleen Kelly of Kats by Kelly™.

In future, when I'm making wallhangings and other items that won't get a lot of wear, I'm going to go back to doing a single binding rather than the double/French binding that I did on this one. The double binding is difficult to fold so that it doesn't stick out at the corners, especially when using a heavier fabric like the black that I'm using for these Kats. The single binding looks better.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Orphans & Scraps

I finally finished quilting and binding my interpretation of Orphans & Scraps, a sew-along by Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts. I actually finished it on Apr. 27, but I'm only just now getting around to blogging about it. I used Pam's instructions for the blocks, but chose my own fabrics and designed my own setting.

I'm rather disappointed in these photos. The colors are much more vibrant in real life, and this quilt is not as wonky as these photos make it look! Oh well, I'm a needleworker, not a photographer. [/McCoy] It is a bit wonky, however. This was one of my earlier projects, and I wasn't as good at piecing as I am now. I also used a double layer of batting since I'd bought some cheap batting that was so thin in places that I could see my hand through it. Furthermore, I wasn't that experienced at quilting when I started quilting this project. Still, I'm fairly happy with how it turned out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Step Afghan

I finally finished my step afghan.


It's really difficult to photograph an afghan this large (62"x71"). I ended up standing on a step ladder holding my camera at a very odd angle just trying to fit it all in the frame. I actually finished it the week before last, but I was sick last week and couldn't get to blogging about it before now. I had to add borders to keep the edges from curling, and I've updated the pattern to reflect this. Also, as you can see from the photos this afghan could definitely benefit from blocking, but I'm not going to do that because 1) I don't have the space, and 2) I can't be bothered. I don't mind if it's a little wonky; it'll still keep me warm and keep this plastic yarn out of the landfill that much longer.

On that note, even after crocheting this monster afghan I still had acrylic yarn left over. I swear the stuff had been breeding.

I've given up on it. I acheived my goal of getting rid of all of my acrylic yarn by simply bagging it up, labelling it "Free Yarn", and leaving it in the laundry room for any of my neighbors who might want it. Except, that is, for 2 balls which I'm using to work out a pattern for an afghan I'm designing. Once I have that pattern worked out, the acrylic yarn goes in the laundry room and I'll buy some good yarn for the afghan.

Now for an update on my stitching schedule. My new schedule is working out really well, although I did have to make a couple of tweaks. I eliminated my weekly walk (I walk and take the bus everywhere, so I get enough exercise), and I divided my chores between Saturday and Sunday rather than trying to cram them all into Sunday. That feels a bit saner.

Also, I shortened my stitching time a bit. I discovered the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, a collection of brief bios of artists' working days. This book was a revelation for me. I don't know about you, but I've always had this picture in my mind of an artist working all day long in their studio, only stopping to eat, drink, or sleep, and sometimes not even then. Well, guess what, folks: that's a myth. There were (and are) artists, to be sure, who did work all day at their art, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Most worked for short periods of time and then went and did other things, even those who were full-time artists. Many had day jobs and did their art when they could. After reading a great many of these bios, I decided to stop guilt tripping myself about not being a "real artist" and get more realistic. I noticed the time period of 3 hours cropping up again and again in these bios, so I decided to limit my stitching time to no more than 3 hours at a stretch (unless, of course, I get really involved in a project). So, now I'm doing my half hour of stitching in the mornings, and 3 hours of stitching in the afternoons, and it feels right. I start to get tired right at the 3 hour mark.

I've been sticking to this new schedule for the most part, lapsing occasionally when I'm ill or "life" happens, but I get right back to it as soon as I can. This looks like it could be a permanent routine.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bah Hum Bug, Update, Goals

I finished stitching the Bug of Bah Hum Bug by Michelle Lutzen of Stitchy Kitty.

I also finished stitching the Hum last year, but somehow forgot to blog about it. Anyway, here are all 3 parts stitched and ready to be finished.

Now to let you know how I did, or rather didn't do, on my yearly goals.

My goal for 2017 was to finish the following:

Country Quilt Footstool Caddy
Around the Town
Snuggles Quilts Block-of-the-Month (BOTM)
Elements of Nature I
Rose Cross

As I've said in previous posts, I finished Elements of Nature I, Serenity, and the Rose Cross. Then, while I was working on Around the Town, I started feeling very frustrated and stressed out, to the point where I didn't want to do my needlework any more and had to force myself to work on it. I finally sat down and thought things out and realized that trying to finish all of my old projects before doing the projects I wanted to do was a mistake. I was making myself miserable for no good reason.

So, I started working on certain types of projects for at least 30 min. each week and doing what I wanted the rest of the time. That helped a lot, but it wasn't quite enough. I was still frustrated because I couldn't seem to spend enough time doing needlework. I only work at my day job for 15-20 hours per week, and I work from home so I don't have a commute. One would think that I would have plenty of time to do my needlework, right? Yet I couldn't seem to squeeze it in, and I couldn't figure out where my time was going. I call myself an artist, but I didn't seem to be actually doing much art.

Finally, I realized that I needed to get my priorities in order. I needed to focus on what's most important to me: my art. I decided to put in an 8 hour day on weekdays just like most people do, and spend half the day on my art and the other half on my day job. I could do chores and run errands on weekends (except for one errand that does have to be done on a weekday).

Every weekday, I do 30 min. of needlework first thing, so that no matter what happens that day, I will have spent some time on my art. Then, I do my day job. I eat lunch, and then spend another 3 1/2 hours on needlework for a total of 4 hours for the day (except on Tuesdays, when I have to run errands). Then I eat supper, after which I do any chores that can't wait until the weekend and/or rest. Saturdays, I feed my creativity by watching a movie and taking a walk (unless I have to run an errand, then I skip the walk). The rest of the day I do as much needlework as I can fit in, making certain to do at least 30 min. Sundays, I do 4 hours of needlework before lunch, and after lunch I do all of my chores for the week.

So, Mon., Wed., Thurs., Fri., and Sun. I'm doing 4 hours of needlework per day. Tues. and Sat. I'm doing at least a half hour per day. That's 21 hours per week which is more than my day job and a vast improvement on what I had been doing.

I've been doing this for a week and a half, and so far, so good. I only got in 19 hours this week because I had to run an extra errand on Thurs., but that's still more than my day job since I took Fri. off. I'm still adjusting to this new schedule, and of course the holidays will throw my schedule off a bit, but hopefully things will settle down in January and I can get into a routine.

As to what projects I'm working on, I have a set schedule of types of projects for my 30 min. first thing in the morning on weekdays. Mondays I work on UFOs, Tuesdays my designs, Wednesdays quilts that are in the quilting or binding stages, Thursdays projects that are in the finishing stages, and Fridays household items or clothing. The rest of the time I do whatever projects I want to work on. At the moment, I'm trying to focus on my designs on weekdays, but I plan to be flexible about that so that I don't drive myself crazy again. This way, I'm not neglecting any of my projects, but I still have the freedom to work on whatever I feel like.

This seems to be working. I've gotten a lot done this past week and a half, and I'm happy about which projects I'm working on. I'm also managing to get all of my chores done. I don't know where the extra time materialized from, but it does seem to be there, and I don't seem to be overtiring myself.

I haven't given up on finishing my UFOs. I'm still working on them at least once a week (often more), and I'm doing my best not to acquire more. I'm not starting any new projects except for my designs or things I need (such as household items or clothing) until I've finished my old projects. Eventually, I will reach my old goals of using up all of my acrylic yarn (yes, I'm still working on that one) and having only a few of each type of project.

As for the blog, I still plan to only post when I've finished something, but hopefully with the changes to my schedule I'll be finishing more projects and posting more often.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Elements of Nature I

I've finished stitching Elements of Nature I, which is adapted from the artwork of Jennifer Pugh.

This one about drove me crazy. Not only was there a major printing error on the chart (which was also poorly written), but there wasn't enough floss to complete it. Fortunately, I also bought the companion piece, Elements of Nature II, so I was able to rob that one to get enough matching floss to finish this one. Also, the color codes on the chart turned out to be DMC numbers, so I can just buy DMC floss to replace the colors I had to "borrow" and hang onto the leftovers from this kit to be sure that I have enough of the other colors. I'll also know to double check the chart before starting to be sure the sections line up properly so I won't have to do any frogging (I ended up cutting and taping this one together, and I had to fill in a missing column of stitches).

After this project, I'm finished with kits. There have been too many times when I've had to play floss chicken (hat tip to Phil at The Twisted Yarn for that delightful expression) or substitute a similar color because there wasn't enough in the kit to complete the project. Either that, or I end up throwing away a ton of extra floss because it can't be used in anything else. From now on, I'll only buy charts that use DMC colors and buy the floss and fabric separately. That way, I'll know I can buy more floss if I don't have enough, and leftovers can be used in other projects.

My elbow's healed enough to use an iron now (yay!), so I get to work on Around the Town next. See you when the next project's done. :)