Monday, December 15, 2014

Spring Sampler Finish

One piece done and on its way - at last!

Last winter I used a gift certificate for amazon (one of my favorite Christmas presents, BTW) to get myself the Sampler and Antique Needlework Magazine CD-ROM collection for 2001-2010. It has been like having access to one of the best candy stores ever - and quite a time suck. I can lose myself for hours in that thing.

One of the pieces in it is the Hearts and Flowers Spring Sampler by Ruth Ann Russell. I knew as soon as I saw it I had to do it as a present for an old friend of mine. Barbara and I've been pals since junior high school, and it's got two of her favorite things on it - dogwoods and rabbits. And it's got one of my favorite things - specialty stitches.
Satin, Four-Sided, and Bosnia Stitch, Oh My!
It wasn't an entirely easy piece; the Upright Smyrna Crosses in the dogwood like to killed me. Luckily I had also used my gift certificate on a copy of Darleen O'Steen's Proper Stitch, and that helped me get myself sorted out. Though I'm still not thrilled with how they came out.

Upright New Smyrna - thanks to Darleen O'Steen.
 The rest of the "specialties" came along much better. It's the first time I used Weeks Overdyed Thread, and I'm still not sure if I like having my thread color fade in and out like that. But it's a sweet little piece.
Do not know why this image scrunched up this way.
The framing was something else. I don't have a framer this side of Jacksonville (a five hour drive) I'd trust with my needlework, so I do my own. I'd gotten a frame at the local Goodwill for another piece, Prairie Schoolers' Plant Your Seeds. The frame would have been perfect, except it was too small. But good things do come to those who wait, and more than a year later, the frame and even the mat were the just right size for this piece. Well, the frame was perfect. The mat had issues. It was just the right size, but do you remember that "Miami Vice" coral from the 80s's? The inside edge in that color.The rest was an off-white that just did not work with the linen. I thought about taking it to Micheal's and getting a new mat cut, but while they're advertising getting stuff done by Christmas, would they get this done in time to get it mailed in time for Christmas? That's an entirely different kettle of fish. And what color would I pick anyway?
Close up of frame. Pretty good for a Goodwill find!
Then I had a bit of a brainstorm. I still had some of that gold textured spray paint from when I did the frame for my friend's osprey print. What was there to lose? So I sprayed the mat the textured gold, and gave it a couple of days to get good and dry and off-gas whatever was in the spray paint. Put it against the frame, and, well, it looks about as good as anything I could find at Micheal's and I could get it shipped in time for Christmas. Get the Kraft paper backing on, and go! Yes, my framer pal in Jacksonville could have done a far, far better job, but for what it is, I'm pleased. And it will get to Georgia in plenty of time for Christmas.
Stick a fork in it and call it "Done."
And you cannot beat the price!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Where I Live

Things are different in Florida. Everybody knows that.

But things are really different here in Central Florida where I live. Really, really different. This is from today's paper. To help bring you up to speed, we have a State Forest here, and every year, they let you come in and cut sand pines for Christmas trees.Sand pines as a Christmas tree is a central Florida thing. They're cherished not because they are beautiful - sand pines could easily have been the model for Charlie Brown's little Christmas tree - but because, well, it's tradition. And they're available. They're one of the few pines thrive here in on the dry, sandy ridge. (Yes, we do have long leaf pines, but they get way too big way too fast, they're hard to cut down, and all their branches are clustered at the top. They are magnificent trees but total losers as Christmas trees.)

From today's Lakeland Ledger....

"...Sand pines ...offer a comforting bit of nostagia to many Floridians, such as Betty Ballard.

"I'm trying to get something that looks as pretty as they did when I was a child," Ballard said.

She recalls one fall morning when she was 11 and her family went to get their own sand pine for Christmas. After many hours of searching, they found the perfect tree. Her father went to their car to get a saw but it was gone. Her brother, Jim, had taken it out of the car.

"He got his gun and he shot that tree down," Ballard said.

They got their perfect tree."

Sand Pine, Pinus Clausa    

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tennessee Cross to Bear

I've been working on a table running in the overshot pattern "Cross of Tennessee." It has not been going well. I'd been worried keeping track of an 86 shot overshot would be difficult. That has not been the problem. The problem has been keeping the tabby straight! (The tabby is the plain weave, over-and-under thread that goes between the color pattern. It's what actually holds the piece together.) I've taken out repeats as many as 3 times before getting it right, all due to tabby errors.
The brown is the overshot; the off-white is the tabby and the warp.

 Once I got that rhythm going, other problems have emerged. I've never had this problem before, but somehow when I was winding on, the warp threads got seriously crossed in the back, which is affecting the tension more and more. I've been slipping paint stirrers under groups of threads and hanging 3" S hooks off of threads until what with all the jingling and all, it is sounding quite festive back there, but I've one edge curling up, the other dropping down, and some odd things happening in the middle. When I look at the back, I see only worse things ahead as one bundle of threads is trying to go from center to right, and another is going from right to center and one group is getting downright floppy while another is getting dangerously tight. Oh my.
Sometimes I really wonder about my idea of a pass-time.
 All my books say "rewind." I've more than half-way through the project - but will I even have something worth having when it comes off the loom if I keep shoving more and more hardware under and onto that warp? There are soap operas out there without this much drama.