Sunday, January 25, 2015

Grow Your Blog

Mugging with a mug I made for
National Craft Month
Hello, and welcome to the hoppers who are here via Vicki's (Two Bags Full) Grow Your Blog Party. My name is Nikki but I blog as Anna van Schurman. The short answer is that when I started blogging, I was in an industry where I would likely be googled and a very popular blogger had recently been fired for blogging. A nom de blog was just the thing. Anna van Schurman was a 17th century advocate of women's education, an artist who was also proficient in 14 languages. You can read more about this choice in the "About Me" page.

I started stitching 27 years ago...actually, I started cross-stitching 27 years ago. I think I did my first embroidery in the early 70s. When I was a kid, we spent summers at the beach in a rickety old house (with an outdoor shower) with two other families. (Our mothers scrimped and saved to have this trip, but we were kids and we didn't care about the accommodations.) Anyway, the rainy summer days were filled with card games, manicures, and embroidery, especially crewel which was all the rage back then. That's how I became proficient in French knots. I started doing them when I was a kid and didn't know they were supposed to be difficult.

My craft tendencies including starting with a gung-ho attitude that sort of peters out. In the end, though the important part of crafting to me is the doing--it doesn't matter where I am on a project. I'm in it for the "flow state," the relaxation, the yoga-ness.

I've been blogging for almost 12 years. Blogging gives me a way to think about crafting and to share those ideas with others. I share my works-in-progress, stitching tips, and news stories that start with the premise that stitchers are all a bunch of old ladies. Most posts are about needlework, but I am also a card maker, knitter, and general crafter. In March, I (try to) celebrate National Craft Month by posting a new craft every day. A new kind of March Madness, it's like Pinterest came to life. I appreciate the connections I've made with some of my readers over the years. I hope you will find something to enjoy here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Days 21 and 22

I'm guessing you could tell this is a Lizzie*Kate. It's a freebie called "Love Lives Here" that I actually have on paper. I checked, and it's not on the website. That's how old it is! The dude was at his always-runs-long meeting, so I turned on some mindless tv and got some serious stitching done! This is stitched in DMC on the same fabric as the Bent Creek Wedding Row. Whatever that was.


On Thursday, I was abandoned again but for less time and a better cause. (He was tutoring ESL.) Stella and I kept the couch warm, and I stitched this Amy Breucken design, Saint Nick's Noel, stitched with the called-for colors on 30 ct guacamole. (I can still not get the color of this fabric to come out!) I love all of her St. Nicks including the ones she did with her sister (Sister and Best Friends). But I once sent one out for a round robin that never returned so I've had a problem picking them up ever since. This is the beginning of a new day! (And a really cute sheep!)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Days 19 and 20

Even though I had MLK Day off, I didn't get that much stitched. In addition to spending time getting my shoes off the floor in the craft room (do you sense a theme?) the dude and I went to see Imitation Game. I'm pretty sure we've now seen all the movies with two word titles that start with I.

I bought this one ages ago (you can tell by the price tag!) to stitch for my MIL whose father was a lighthouse keeper. But I think I may keep this one for our house. After all, my husband's grandfather was a lighthouse keeper.
On Tuesday, I had a hairdressing appointment and was able to devote some time to this ladybug while I was waiting. I think I bought this when Best Pal and I were on a working vacation to Syracuse in the late 90s. I was doing archival research on my dissertation, and she came with me so the woman who owned the B and B could mistake us for lesbians. (That's not why she accompanied me, but that was the result.) The innkeeper made it up to us by finding out we preferred pancakes and waffles to granola and making us hot breakfast every day. Which, when I think about it, made up for the underinsulated bathroom we had. And when I was done with my research, we drove around to all the stitching stores that we could find in my little guidebook There Must Be a Needlework Store Around Here Someplace. We found a place in Baldwinsville and another in Endicott and another place that was going out of business and I can't remember where that was exactly. (I still have that book though, dated as it is.) Anyway, if I didn't buy this chart in Endicott, I definitely bought Weeks there. I remember buying ladybug and curry. Weird how the memory works!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Days 17 and 18

Dear Friends, thank you for your comments, for your admiration (or is it disdain?), for seeing me through my little rough patch. I appreciate your notes more than you know.

On Saturday, after I had walked the dog, picked up my eyeglass prescription, chosen two sets of goggles at Costco, dropped off two pieces for framing at the LNS sale, and picked up the joint a bit, I sat down to stitch Coussin Carres Fleurs by Blue de Chine. I've had this little lovely forever (and the fabulous fabric). I had stitched about another third of the center wreath but realized I was off by one stitch, and had to take that out. But you know what I did? I took it out. No more putting things away with a mistake. Just undo and get on with your life, right? We went to see Inherent Vice on Saturday, so that ate into my stitching time.
On Sunday, I was supposed to go pick up bagels while the dude walked the dog. Only he didn't walk her very far because of the dangerously icy conditions. I'm pretty happy I didn't head out for the bagels. I'm pretty unhappy that I had neither butter nor eggs to make a fancy Sunday breakfast.  So I ate a piece of toast and stitched. I also spent time picking up the craft room and cutting some of the fabric. (For a number of projects, I had the fabric and the design was going to take up most of each piece, but not all of each piece, and isn't it better to have those four inches to make ornaments and other smalls? Happily, I cut the fabric on the clean craft table! Woot!) This is a Ewe and Eye pattern that appeared in an issue of Just Cross-Stitch probably in the 90s. I'm stitching on unbleached linen with the prescribed Anchor floss.

Okay, kids, I'm back on track! I have a hair appointment tonight. My phone doesn't work in the hair salon so I will have some time to give my new start my full attention. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 15 and 16

Today's post should really be called "Another Blob of White."

I was really looking forward to a lot of stitching time on Thursday. The dude had a meeting that I was sure would go on forever, and I thought that would free up a lot of time, but instead of stitching, I picked up a little, folded some laundry, made some food to bring to stamping on Friday, and walked the dog. Clearly, I need to rehire my staff. I decided since I was home, it was a good opportunity to start another one of the Arctic Santas. I definitely need my DMC Collection handy so that I can sort out the floss. I broke my eyeglasses a few weeks ago, and have yet to replace them. (I can see without them; I just get eyestrain.) Anyway, long story short, bad eyes, bad lighting, and loads of grey flosses, and that simple task took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Here's my start on Nunavut Santa.

On Friday, I knew I was going to rush from work to pick up the dog before rushing off again to stamp night. So at lunch time I started By the Bay's Autumn in Vermont. I love the vibrant colors of this one. It reminds me of my youth in New Hampshire. Of course, the middle doesn't use any of those fabulous colors. No, the middle features a couple of clouds stitched not just in white, but in DMC's extra white white. (B5200) Oh well, I'll get to the good stuff someday.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Days 13 & 14

I think I'm going to have to start recording my new starts in my paper diary because of the whole lack of blogging. Projects I've started are piling up, and I can't remember which day I started which. Also I just pulled out the four projects I have in my bag, thought to myself "Tuesday Drawn Threads, Wednesday Love Bird, Thursday Mill Hill, and Friday Vermont" and wheeled myself back over to the computer and could only remember that I started the Drawn Thread on Tuesday. I have got to work on my memory. I used to have a dazzling one. On Tuesday, I started Drawn Thread's Four Fat Friends freebie. I think I may have kitted this up for some of my stitching buddies, who I hope don't think I just called them fat! Anyway, I have had this kitted up for ages and have finally started it. I am stitching with the called-for colors on a random piece of fabric.

On Wednesday, I had a meeting that ran much longer than I expected, and then I had to walk the dog. I was literally sitting on the edge of my bed putting in a few stitches before I turned in for the night. You can see why I am starting to find the pace a little hectic. And this is even after I prepared all my kits last month! I fell in love with this bird when I saw the wool version pinned on Pinterest. I spent a while tracking it down and even longer just waiting for the right time to start it. This project is being stitched with the suggested colors and fabric.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Days 11 & 12


I am keeping up with the new start every day--though most days I feel like a duck paddling wildly below the surface! I'm doing even less well blogging my starts unfortunately. (And even worse posting on Facebook.) Long time readers will remember that I love starting and it pretty much takes me forever to finish. But right now--halfway through the month with more charts left to start--I kind of feel like kid binging on candy. I just want to take a break. I'm hoping that this will make me superexicted to start my rotation next month. My plan is to stitch one week on something I started this year, one week on something I started last year (or ealier), and one week on a small. The fourth week will be free to stitch whatever, to work on finishing, or to prepare for Craft Month.

Sadie's Stocking by Shepherds Bush was Sunday's project. You would have thought I could have gotten farther along on that one, but no dice.

On Monday, I started Ewe and Eye's Slow Poke. I had to substitute the fabric because R&R don't dye the called for color anymore. Instead I used WDW Peoria Purple. I have used the Anchor floss called for. I know it's silly to hunt down Anchor flosses when I have a full set of DMC, but there is something slightly different about the colors and I like what E&E&F chose.