Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Stitching and nerd-ing

I took a break from WIPs, and started something new last month - Oh Whale by Hands On Design. I've had the fabric and threads ready to go for a while (er, more than a year). Finished it last week:
The fabric is a pretty pale seafoam-green-ish linen. I used the called for threads (except for grabbing a darker thread for the whale eyes and backstitching) and made a couple of changes - I used Oatmeal instead of Pewter beneath the big whale, and replaced the anchor in the lower right corner with a water swirl.

Currently, I'm working on this month's Smalls SAL, and I picked up a couple of neglected WIPs too:

The first is the Ship's Manor "Beautiful Sea Quaker" SAL from last year (I think); the other is  Butterflies Biscornu by Seba Designs, which I started for last year's Stitch Maynia. So far I've worked on the Butterflies quite a bit, and I think that if I focus on it, it will stitch up fairly quickly.

When not stitching, I have been reading a lot. I've picked up some of the Barker & Llewellyn books by Will Thomas. The stories are kind of fluffy Boys Own Adventures that occasionally take a casual detour into graphic violence, and the characters can sometimes be a weird mix of over the top and underwhelming, but that doesn't get in the way of being fun reads.

I've also been reading about Buddhist philosophy. My most recent work project was enormously stressful, starting last December, so I eventually starting using a couple of meditation apps. They're helpful, and because I'm a huge nerd I decided I wanted to know more about the origin of mindfulness meditation, i.e. Buddhism. Right now I'm reading a book that talks about certain Buddhist concepts of the mind and the self and how they line up pretty well with current science and psychological theories. It's really interesting. I also have a book called "Peace is Every Step" by a Buddhist monk called Thich Nhat Hanh; it's a collection of short contemplative writings that really helped me get through some of the most stressful days of the last few months, and I'm still reading it slowly (and dare I say, mindfully).

I've also been listening to audiobooks - specifically, the Russell and Holmes novels by Laurie R. King, and the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Unfortunately I'm going through them a bit quicker now that I am driving in to work a couple of days a week. My commute is an hour+ both ways, so audiobooks are a must!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Smalls SAL for June

Was not sure I would finish the block in time, but taking a bit of a staycation gave me the spare time. I stitched the yellow house block this month:
I ran into a dye lot problem - I thought I could get all of the dark brown stitched with what I had of a skein of GAST Wood Trail, but I ran out. My other skeins are either too light, or extremely variegated. Nothing like the original skein at all. So I'm having to cut off the too-light parts of the strands of one skein and just use the darker bits. Argh.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Updates

Stitching:
I was out of town for work for two weeks, and somehow managed to finish a thing during that time:
The pattern is by Dark Crosses on Etsy. I started it in 2017 for Stitch Maynia; stitched on 32 count white linen with Thread Gatherer Silk n Colors "Smoke Stack," which is a variegated black/brown.

Hopefully work will finally be easing up now and I'll be able to do more stitching again.

Fur-babies:
My dog, the one that went suddenly blind a month ago, has been to see the vet optometrist, and the blindness is permanent. It's a condition called SARD - sudden acquired retinal degeneration. There's no treatment for it, partly because no one really knows what causes it.

So, we're adapting. I got home from my long work trip on Friday, and spent part of Saturday doing a little bit of blind-dog-proofing around the house. Non-skid strips on the wooden steps that go up to the second floor of the house; a non-slip rug at the bottom off the steps; temporary (until I create a permanent solution) fencing along the porch to keep him from getting his tie-out wrapped around the porch posts/help him find his way to the door; foam corner protectors on the coffee table. I also cut a pool noodle to wrap around an exposed part of the metal frame of the couch, which looks really attractive (not) but at least now when Chuck runs into it, he won't hurt himself.

And I'm going to get him some new toys. I've read that the ones that hold treats are good, because he can find them by scent and they give him something to do. Evidently there are also noisy balls that make noise as they sail through the air and roll along the ground.

I'm also making sure the foster dog doesn't feel neglected! He's so good and patient. We have lots of cuddle time, and squeeze in play time when Cranky Blind Dog isn't around to try to steal the toys. :D

Life:
After two weeks on business travel, I'm trying to remember how to plan meals and grocery shop and clean my own living space again. (The only good thing about living out of a hotel on someone else's dime: free meals and housekeeping.)

Yesterday, my son and I went into the city (i.e., to one of the outlying areas of St. Louis) for breakfast. There's a used book store I wanted to check out, and Yelp told me there was a good breakfast spot nearby. It's called The Living Room, it was pretty small, with a little indoor seating plus some outdoor seating, but boy was it popular. We got there just in time to snag a spot to sit and get our order in, and five minutes later there was a line out the door of people ordering food. The food was very good. A different menu than you usually find, but that's part of what made it good.
A pic from their Instagram account, livingroomstl, since I forgot to take any

The only not-good thing was the coffee - waaaaaaaaaay too strong and bitter. I used it as an excuse to talk my son into walking down a few blocks to a cat cafe! I knew about it from Facebook, and was wanting to see what it was like.
Again, a pic borrow from Instagram. I'm a bad blogger, I don't think to take photos.
The cafe is called Mauhaus. We both got lattes and went in to see the kitties. What you can't see in the pic above (that I again borrowed from Instagram) is that there are shelves and walkways built up along a couple of walls and across the room just below the ceiling, plus some of the benches are hollow, for the cats to hang out in. It was awesome.

My son is a really good sport. He said he didn't mind going to the cat cafe. "It was a nice walk, and anyway, whenever you're going to hang out with a bunch of cute animals, you know that's probably gonna make you happy." :D

Friday, June 1, 2018

A FFO and stuff

I actually finished a thing:
Jumbled Summer by Pine Mountain Designs. It comes as a finished pillow cover with the stitchable panel; I couldn't find a pillow form of the correct size, and the one I'm using for now is a bit big, but I still think it turned out pretty cute. I don't have a lot of summery things stitched, so that was my motivation for finishing this one!

And a couple of curiosities:
This is an Eight-spotted Forester moth. I found it on my front porch and moved it to my lilac bush to snap a picture. I love it's feathery orange leg accessories!

And finally, here is a piece of driftwood that looks like a hand. 😀
Found during my last business trip, on the shore around Puget Sound. Ironically, I found it right next to an historical site of an old lumber mill, where there was an informational sign that talked about how often people would lose fingers and hands while working the huge saws...



Monday, May 28, 2018

May Smalls SAL & etc

It appears that Stitching Lotus may be taking a break from blogging, or has moved on to other things, but I'm still going to keep up with the Smalls SAL. My Small for May:
I stitched the turkey block on Blue Ribbon Designs "Frolic in the Foliage." I'm still really enjoying this piece. Because of life and yadda, it's the only thing I've worked on this month, excepting about 5 stitches put into a travel project, so continuing to make progress on it is even more satisfying.

In other stitching news, I'm Blogger of the Week; thank you, Jo, for asking me to participate! I'm really honored.

Real life stuff ahead...

The month has been crazy and stressful, mostly due to work. Also, my son graduated from his two year college and is preparing to move to a four year university to finish his degree, which is exciting but also stressful in its way.

The worst thing that has happened this month, though, is that my dog has gone blind. In retrospect, I think it's been coming on for a little while, but within the last three weeks he's become completely blind. Runs into things, doesn't know treats or toys are in front of his face unless you touch them to his nose, only knows where people are if they make noise.
My sweet baby
He's not old - only 6 years old. My usual vet couldn't find anything obvious, such as trauma or cataracts, so I've been referred to a vet optometrist specialist. The earliest they could get him in is the first week of June.

It's really sad, and I'm really sad, and tired. But I think if I can just make it through June, life will level out for a little while. The work project from hell will be done, I'll have answers about my dog, and most of my son's college transfer logistics will be worked out.

I don't want to end on such a down note, though, so I'll just add that my son and I saw the Han Solo movie this weekend, and it was awesome. No, it's not ~epic~ and ~meaningful~ like the other Star Wars movies, and no, Alden Ehrenreich is not Harrison Ford. But it's a great adventure story that has fun with the Star Wars universe and the characters, Ehrenreich is charming and idealistic in a believably young-Han-Solo way, Donald Glover is a fantastic Lando Calrissian, and seeing where the character comes from and how some of the iconic Han Solo elements came together is just hugely engaging. I am definitely going to see it again soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

TBT

I don't think I ever posted a photo of this - it's the first Lavender and Lace design I ever stitched, and the first project I stitched for myself instead of to give away. I started it in 1997, and finished it about 10 years later.
Angel of Autumn, stitched on 32 count Natural linen
One of these days I plan to do Angel of Winter - I have the supplies, just need to finish some WIPs and get motivated to start something big...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Books

Between work, stress, and sore hands/wrists, I am not getting much stitching done lately. I'm working on the next square of "Frolic in the Foliage" with the goal of having it done by the end of May, and also working on not beating myself up for not doing more.

I have been reading quite a bit, though. Yesterday I received the 2nd book in the Murderbot Diaries novella series:
These are sci-fi books about a cyborg security android that took control of itself and *could* have gone on a killing spree, but instead decides to watch thousands of hours of streaming entertainment while taking aloof care of the humans it has been assigned to guard. In the second book, it has left to search for answers about its dark past.

These books are quick, engaging reads, with a great sense of both humor and adventure, and a Murderbot who you can't help but love.

I've also been to two used book sales, and spent about $20 on the following:
It's all mystery, history, biography, and philosophy, with one sci-fi classic thrown in. There wasn't a whole lot of sci-fi at either sale that appealed to me. I'm having second thoughts about the Dorothy Gilman books - they're a bit twee - but we'll see.

Mmmmm, books.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

April Smalls SAL, etc

For Heather of Stitching Lotus's Smalls SAL, I stitched another square of Frolic in the Foliage by Blue Ribbon Designs, the square with the two birds:
I also finished a little needle book that came as a free kit with the May 2016 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine:
I started it last year, but put it aside because the Aida cloth that comes with those kits is the worst - so incredibly stiff. I should have swapped it out for something else, but I guess I was lazy. 😳 It came with the ribbon and peach felt for the cover of the book, plus light blue felt for the pages. Even if it was frustrating to stitch, it turned out pretty cute.

Also, a friend of mine and I were at Michael's and spotted those "paint with diamonds" kits; she loooooves bling, so we both got one and worked on them yesterday. It was fun! Though, my own decor style doesn't run to a lot of bling so I probably won't do more.
For this one, the only area that needs the little 'diamond' thingies is the large butterfly. I'm about half done.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Joyful World: September

Another month down on the 2016 Snowflower Diaries free SAL "Joyful World":
And the whole shebang thus far:
I feel a bit like September is a bit 'under-dressed' compared to some of the others, but I'll see what I think once I complete the other months before I fuss with it.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Discounts from the big box store

Evidently Hobby Lobbys (across the U.S., anyway) are marking down craft stuff, and I finally found one in my area that had made it to the cross stitch aisle in doing mark-downs.

I've been eyeing the Thea Gouverneur and Riolis kits for a couple of years, but couldn't bring myself to spring for them even with a 40% off coupon. The Lanarte owl kit will be my first full coverage project. Those kits run $40 - $45 each full price; I got them for $9 - $11. 😮

And I got the bag for a friend's mom, who loves owls, for $5.50! The other items cost between $0.50 - $1.50 each.
Regular retail value is over $200; it all cost me $58. Woo hoo!

Friday, March 30, 2018

March Smalls SAL post, and ARGH frog

For Heather of Stitching Lotus's Smalls SAL, I stitched another square of Frolic in the Foliage by Blue Ribbon Designs, the owl square:
This square had one of the elements that drew me to the design: I love the color shading on the diamond-shaped tree.

So, I didn't make any mistakes stitching the above March square, but I feel like that's the only thing I haven't messed up lately. I'm making counting mistakes all over the place, and it's really frustrating. The latest:
I have to pick out everything circled in red. It's all off by two stitches. The tree is also off, but it won't be very noticeable so I'm going to leave it.

It might not look like much, but I'm stitching this on 36 count fabric. The stitches are tiny and not easy to snip. AND I've already picked out and restitched some of those triangles once.

So.
Frustrating.

The frog can leave me any time now, thanks.

Stitching and nerd-ing

I took a break from WIPs, and started something new last month - Oh Whale by Hands On Design. I've had the fabric and threads ready to g...