Saturday, May 28, 2016

Noel, X

My most recent stitching on Noel has been what I think of as "clean up" stitching.  I finished the lettering on the Joy ornament.  I added the green trees and red "spots" on the white ornament.  Then I frogged the pale aquay-blue shine on the dark blue ornament and replaced it with a basketweaved more blue-light blue.  I'm now happy with that ornament.
I used the same color scheme on the other dark blue ornament, but ditched the original stitch since it had been a pain to see and stitch.  Instead, I did my now trusty nobuko.   Then a finish for the very velvet mosaic on the last of the bow in this photograph.  I also stitched the white in the Noel ornament.
 The following photo shows my progress, thus far.  I foresee a future of while silk lame braid and shades of red very velvet.  There are only 3 ornaments to be stitched (two on the right, aqua and green, and the gold one in the center).  I have started the dark brown on the central gold ornament.  I've saved them for last because I couldn't think of pattern stitches to do on them.  I may just fall back on basketweave.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Be Merry, 4

I'm still stitching some on the background; and in tandem with my progress there, I am stitching on the woven stitch on the Y.  As I continue stitching on the stripes along the bottom, I am contemplating things I can do the peppermint stick that divides the top lettering from the bottom stripes.  Time will tell what I decide.

The aqua stripe is stitched in cashmere stitch over 3, separated by continental stitches.  Then comes a row of continental in lavender.  Next comes a pale green row of the fern stitch.  The royal blue is a variation of the ribbon stitch (over 2, over 3, over 2, over 3...).  Then we start the repeat of the patterns with a Victorian step stitch.  I really like how this looks with all the pattern stitches done in silk lame braid 18.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pygmy palms in spring

Monday before this week's onset of monsoon season, I took these photos of the pygmy palm in front of our house in Vero Beach.  Those tassels are so gorgeous to look at, but that yellow stuff is just what you might suspect--pollen!  We have a man who comes and trims out bushes every month.  I have discouraged him from cutting these off while they are fresh because the birds feed on them.  It's a mixed blessing, since my sinuses don't appreciate my concern for the "world of nature".
Here you get a better view of the "pods" that seem to magically emerge from the corona at the top of the trunk (before the leaves).  There are four pygmy palms in our cluster.  The outer one is always slower to "mature" than the others.

 This is a photograph of the quartet after the rain, when much of the pollen has been washed away from the pods onto the ground.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Be Merry, 3

NOTE:  Continuing my luck of yesterday, tonight I had written a long, descriptive account of yesterday's occurrences and a discussion of my stitching progress--and, I thought I had saved the information, but somehow I hit something on my way to hit Publish---and the entire blog entry vanished.  So, this is a repeat!

Last night I wrote an entry on Facebook describing my day fighting 11" of rain in Vero Beach.  Needle Nicely is in KMart Plaza.  By 4:30 the parking lot was a lake, with waves, and water about 12 or 14 inches deep.  It was threatening to seep under the front door when I left at 4:45pm. The men in the computer store next door gave me a large towel that I placed in front of the door when I left. The back lot was just as deep, because the swale wasn't draining and every time a vehicle drove by, a wave came under the back door.

Needle Nicely moved into this location 11 years ago after Hurricane Wilma took the roof off the building we were occupying at that time.  When we moved into this location, the carpeting in the back room smelled so I had it removed.  Thank goodness, I never replaced that carpeting because yesterday, the water coming in the back door would have ruined it.  The thing that saved Needle Nicely, though, was a drain in the bathroom which is situated to the left of the back door.  I had put tape over it because the drain part was loose, and I didn't want anyone to trip over it.  Yesterday, I peeled the tape off and the water from the door miraculously found its way from the door to the drain.
I was concerned because leaves and twigs came in with the water and covered the drain.  I had to find a way to keep that debris out.  KMart had closed about 3pm because of the liability of wet floors, which is when I realized I needed supplies.  So, I improvised with the following contraption:
I duct taped a garbage bag on the door about 6" from the floor.  Then I placed two empty bins, upside down, flush against the door, but with garbage bag under them.  To keep them in place, I put two cartons of water bottles on top and then threw in a bag of large skeins of a cotton yarn that I have yet to find another use for.  This managed to strain all debris from the water, so I could leave knowing that the drain wouldn't be clogged by leaves and twigs.

I then devoted some time to picking up things from the floor throughout the shop in case the worst happened and water came in from both front and back.  That included lifting my desktop computer stack off the floor onto a counter.  Throughout the shop, I had things awkwardly placed to get them  off the floor.

I called my husband to meet me on the street behind KMart.  The water in front of the shop was so deep, I didn't want him to drive through it.  At 4:45, I closed the shop and waded through the water to meet Arthur.  The water was mid-shin (my slacks definitely got wet!).  Along the way, two people stopped to offer me a ride, which I thought said something for their humanity.  Our drive home was a nightmare on US #1.  The police had started blocking streets, though none that affected us.  There was a single lane of traffic (it's usually 2 lanes with a 3rd turn lane) because the water was so deep in the right-hand lane.  Some people, feeling invincible,  would pass on the left or right regardless of the depth of the water.  Our development is located on the side of the "old airport", so it is higher ground and we had no problems, though our "water retention pond" was as high as we have ever seen it.  There is a system for slowly draining this so that it doesn't overflow, so there is nothing to worry about.

At 8am this morning, Arthur and I (with trepidation) drove to the shop to survey the damage.  Imagine our surprise when the roads were dry, as was the parking lot at Needle Nicely.  When we went in the shop, I discovered that it was in the same condition as when I left it.  Miraculous!

An anticlimax occurred later today.  The Weather Service has predicted three more days of afternoon thunderstorms.  Mercifully, thus far today, most of the weather has gone South of Vero.  Though the weatherman just mentioned that something was coming later tonight for Vero.  Ah, well!

On to the stitching of Be Merry.
I've continued stitching the blue background.  I don't like to do the design first and then do the background, primarily because the interior stitch lofts better when it is the last to be stitched. I started the Y using the woven stitch.

I completed the alternating Scotch stitch, then did another fern stitch, followed by a row of slanted gobelin.  Next I did a wide row of diagonal mosaic with a sprinkle of French knots so it resembles dotted Swiss.  I continued with another continental row, and ended with a row of alternating mosaic stitch.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Noel, IX

I've reached the stage in this canvas where I feel like I'm treading water, stitching a little on the ribbons and a little on the background.  Progress that only one who scrutinizes the canvas will notice.
 I also finished the orange/yellow "floral" (thank you, Anna!) in petite sparkle rays.  The flower pattern is so obvious to me now.   I've decided that I much prefer stitching with silk lame braid.  Laying that ribbon gets tedious and I have a massive knot of orange on the back that I couldn't unravel, so just left it since it doesn't affect the look of the front.   NOTE:  Constantly check the back of your work when you are stitching with a ribbon-type fiber.
And in this close-up, you can see that I also started the noel ornament.  I'm using Balger metallic #16 for both colors.  If you look closely, you can see that the purple is a multi-color.  I couldn't think of a small stitch that wouldn't drive me crazier, so I stuck with basketweave.

I keep looking at the dark blue ornament on the left side of the canvas that I have already stitched.  It is just too dark for my "eye", so I can see some frogging in my future.  That demonstrates the drawbacks in trying to use your stash--sometimes you compromise on a color and you later regret it.
I don't want to look at this pillow in future years and kick myself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Be Merry, 2

In the above photograph, you can see the canvas mounted "in the gutter".  I'm showing this because I had a customer last week apologize to me for mounting her canvas that way.  She was reluctant to say that she did it that way.  I have very few hard-and-fast rules about needlepoint.  When it comes to mounting the canvas, I feel that you should do it in a way that is comfortable for you.  People also ask me where they should start stitching on a canvas.  I say, wherever you want.  It doesn't matter whether it is white first or dark colors first.  I personally don't like coming up in a "dirty" hole, so I always start in the upper right-hand corner and do things as they come.  I don't like stitching background, so I try to make myself stitch ahead of the design it surrounds.  You'll notice in the border below, I am stitching from the right to the left.  No cheating and jumping around, though it is tempting to end a strand of a color in the next stripe that it occurs--No, No.  Of course, I must admit that perhaps this insistence on order dates back to my years as a library cataloger!

All of the stitching on this canvas, with the exception of the background silk 'n ivory, is stitched in silk lame braid 18.  Having told you that I can eliminate that repetition from the stitch descriptions.

The first stitch on the right is the Victorian Step Stitch using a double strand of silk lame braid 18 (that is the only size Needle Nicely stocks).  When doing a straight stitch, you need more strands than for a diagonal stitch.

Next, I did an orange row of continental stitch.  There are other stitches that can be done over a single row.  Associated Talents has a stitch guide for this canvas (and other of their designs) on their web site that shows their suggested stitches.

The hot pink row is done in Satin stitch, again using a double strand.  Next comes the red fern stitch, then another row of continental in medium aqua.

Lastly, is the stripe with the Scotch stitch done in alternating directions in two shades of green.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Spring fever blahs!

The season is officially over and my employees have headed for Northern climes (Macy to Virginia and Marcia to Virginia).  I've got a bad case of the do-nothings; so I have been rewatching DVDs of The West Wing, only rarely being interrupted by a customer.  (NOTE:  In Vero we have a "dead" period between when the season ends and school lets out.  Then business picks up again, thank goodness).   I haven't been able to make myself stitch.  Finally, Friday afternoon I grabbed a canvas that I had been eyeing all winter.  I put it on stretcher bars, though only 1/2 of the design shows since the overall canvas is 8"x20".  I don't like to work on stretcher bars that long, so the ones I am using are 8"x12".  I selected silk 'n ivory for the blue background and silk lame for the design.  Last week I had a customer buy the same canvas and request some stitch suggestions.  I kept a copy, so I'm all set to get started stitching.  I did in the upper right-hand corner, though the blue matches the background so closely that it is hard to see the stitches.

The canvas is Be Merry by Associated Talents.  It is part of a series they do (Joy, Be Jolly).  The border design contains the same repeat of patterns so my stitch guide will work for all 3.  And they make a nice grouping.  Of course, I like the play on words--that's why I selected the Be Merry (for those of you who may not know--I'm the Mary!).

I decided that I would stitch the background in basketweave  since there are going to be so many textures in the different stitches used for the design.

So cross your fingers that my stitching enthusiasm continues! And next time, I'll have a picture of the canvas on the stretcher bars so you can see the basted left end and also the fact that I always stitch "in the gutter".

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trubey and Mary Agnes in the Bahamas

As I have mentioned before, Needle Nicely opened a new location in Vero Beach, FL, in October, 1981.  That meant that Trubey and I moved from one intense summer season to an intense winter season.  By April, we needed a break before heading to the mountains of North Carolina for the summer.  Trubey had read an article in Gourmet magazine about hotels in the Caribbean.  Among them was the Peace and Plenty in Georgetown, Great Exuma.  She decided that we needed a break in the Bahamas.  I didn't have a passport.  The travel agent we dealt with in Vero said, no problem, just have an affidavit attesting that you are a US citizen.  NOTE:  Don't believe everything a travel agent tells you!  We flew Bahamas Air from Miami into Nassau.  It was late leaving Miami.  There was only one flight a day from Nassau to Georgetown in those days.  We were going to miss it.  I, obviously not a world traveler, tell Trubey we should ask the stewardess to have the pilot call ahead to Nassau so we don't miss our connection.  This was the spring of 1982.  Trubey laughed, but I insisted; so she called the stewardess over and told her our situation.  To our surprise when the plane landed in Nassau, as we went down the steps to the tarmac a gentleman approached us, asked us to identify our luggage, and walked us through Nassau airport to a door on the other side of the airport (not far) with a gentleman pushing a flat cart with our luggage.  There he opened a door onto the tarmac, pointed at three airplanes, and said "that is your plane", and he walked away.  Which plane?  We started across the tarmac when a young man came running and boarded the closest airplane.  We followed him.  When he exited the bathroom, we inquired and were told it was the plane to Georgetown, he was our pilot, and we could choose any seat.

Of course, everyone thought we were some sort of celebrities because we had been escorted (almost) to the plane and were seated when everyone else boarded.  The wonder of the flight disappeared when the plane took off and my seat back collapsed with me falling back into the lap of a tall, black man.  As it turned out he was the Minister of Agriculture for the Exumas; and he was gentlemanly enough to put his knees against the back of my seat to hold it upright for the entire flight.  Come to think of it, his legs were so long, there was probably no place else for them to go!!

During the flight to Georgetown, a British couple who were sitting across the aisle from us, struck up a conversation with us.  They enquired where we were staying and why we were going there.  Trubey produced the issue of Gourmet that had helped our decision,  and shared it with them.  We enjoyed many hours conversing and dining with Charles and Gillian during our two weeks.  We also later had lunch with them in London after our QEII voyage to England.

Here are Trubey and myself after our arrival at the Great Exuma International Airport.  We had a wonderful time--everyone on the island was so welcoming to the "Carolina Girls".  However, when going back through immigration in Nassau (this time, the US), the agent was not happy with my lack of a passport.  He threatened to refuse to let me get on the plane.  With tears threatening, he finally relented and "let me back into the US" so I could board the plane for home.  The first time I did when I got back to Florida was to start the process for getting a passport.  So, that lesson was learned!