Pagoda Pincushion

Pagoda pincushion

The March project for my EGA group was a pagoda pincushion. Each stitcher personalized the pattern that appeared in The Gift of Stitching (on page 40 of the July 2009 issue) with different color fabrics and flosses. I stitched mine on 28-count antique white monaco with pink and blue DMC. The center of the pagoda base was blank in the pattern, so many stitchers, myself included, filled it with motifs such as monograms and flowers.

The pagoda is the most complex piece I’ve ever made (in terms of turning a stitched piece into a 3D object). It was good practice for another project the EGA group is doing, A Patchwork Garden Ball by Twisted Oak Designs. We got the garden ball kits in February, with the idea we should stitch three motifs each month to be ready to learn how to finish it in August. So far I’ve got one motif done. I’m a little behind on that one.

Moving Madnesss: The Unpacking Has Begun

Boxes in my office

Boxes in my office

I met my goal of being out of my old house by the end of February and we are settling into the new house nicely. Even my cats have acclimated to the new place, although they did have to spend a few days living in the bathroom before getting to check out their new home. I waited to let them out until all the move-in hubbub and commotion at the new place—repairs & painting, installation and delivery of a new stove because the existing stove cost more to repair than buying a cheap new stove, and the cable installation (it took two visits by the cable guys)—was over because I was afraid that they would get spooked by all the activity and dart out the door that repair people always seem to leave hanging open. The little fluffy one adapted quickly, but we haven’t seen too much of the big one. He’s back to living under the sofa and only coming out when it’s very quiet in the house.

Boxes in the kitchen

Boxes in the kitchen

Now I have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do. I have well over 100 boxes to deal with.

The new house has a smaller kitchen with significantly less cupboard and counter space for all my cooking gadgets, so I’m busy thinking up creative storage ideas. At first I had the dishes stacked so high in the cupboard that I couldn’t lift them up to get a plate from the bottom layer. So, on Sunday, I went to The Container Store and found some double cabinet shelves to put in the cupboards that make one shelf into three shelves. I’m very pleased with the shelf racks, but still a bit overzealous with how much I crammed into the space and will have to move some of the dishes elsewhere.

Kitchen boxes in the dining room

Kitchen boxes in the dining room

It’s boxes, boxes everywhere as you can see from these photos. With all these boxes, it is probably hard to believe that I did get rid of some stuff before moving, but I did make a few trips to Goodwill and also threw out some useless stuff.

Boxes in the library

Boxes in the library

We were hoping to confine the boxes in the garage to one side only so we could park a car inside, but as you can see in the photo, we ended up about one box over the center line. I am sure that when I get to the garage boxes (stop snickering) I will find much to discard.

Boxes fill the garage

Boxes fill the garage

Presencia Floss & Just CrossStitch Magazine

I noticed an advertisement for Presencia Finca Mouline embroidery floss on the inside back cover of the March/April 2010 issue of Just CrossStitch magazine. According to the ad, this floss is “now featured in Just Cross Stitch Magazine.” I hadn’t noticed it listed on any patterns, so I went back for a closer look, and sure enough, I found a couple of patterns that called for it—the Little House Needleworks Easter design on page 18 and a Spring needle case design on page 42. They appear to be moving towards using this Presencia floss as a DMC alternative instead of Anchor floss.

I’ve never heard of Presencia threads before. According to the Presencia website, it is a Spanish company that has been selling thread for over 50 years in Europe and South America. They are now marketing the thread in the U.S. via an independently owned, but similarly named U.S. company. They offer 100% Egyptian cotton threads and also some rayon threads. The retail price for the cotton embroidery floss is $1 per skein.

I’ve heard that Beverly’s Crafts in Santa Cruz no longer carries DMC floss and now sells a different brand. I wonder if this is the floss that Beverly’s is selling instead of DMC.

Special note to Sue: Did you see the pretty Bluebird pattern in this issue?

Needle Case Progress

Peyote beading requires an enormous amount of patience. I learned that while I spent several evenings working on my needle case. I finished the bottom tube section at a stitch-in with friends last week. Several of us worked on the needle case project that evening, with help from Liz, who was happy to see that we were making progress on the project and enjoying it.

Liz’s pattern makes a beautiful needle case with a red and white striped center surrounded with rows of gold beads, but somewhere along the line I misread the pattern and my needle case developed a red and white spiral pattern. I liked the pattern that was emerging, so I just kept on beading rather than ripping it out and starting over.

Liz blogged about the Americana needle case project and included a nice photo that even shows the top. Take a look at Liz’s blog so you can see what the needle case is supposed to look like and read more about the first project she presented as our new EGA evening programs officer.

After doing the main tube, the tube for the cap should be a snap. Yeah, right. Then the next challenge is learning to do peyote in the round and attaching the round pieces to the tubular pieces.

Americana Beaded Needle Case EGA Project

Last night I attended the first Embroiderer’s Guild of America meeting of the new year. With the new year, a few newly elected officers began their duties. One of the new officers is my friend Liz, who is in charge of Programs this year. As Program Director, Liz plans and conducts, you guessed it, a program for each meeting. Sandie was Program Director for the past three years, and she suggested that Liz take over the position in 2010. Liz started working with Sandie and began planning the 2010 projects towards the end of last year.

Last night Liz taught us how to make a beaded needle case. Basically, it is a small wooden needle case, about 2.5-inches high by 0.5-inches wide, that is covered with tubular peyote stitch beadwork. Liz designed a red, white, blue, and gold pattern that she named Americana. She wrote a wonderful set of detailed instructions with lots of diagrams showing how to do the peyote stitches and a color pattern illustrating the design.

The hardest part of the project is getting started. To get started, you string on the beads for the first two rows and then hold it around the needle case to test the size. It turns out that wooden needle cases vary in size. The size variation isn’t really noticeable when you look at them, which is fine if you are going to paint it or decorate it in some other manner, but when you are doing a beaded cover for the needle case, size matters. The cover needs to be just right; not too big and not too small. You can compensate for some size variations—if the wooden case is too big you can sand it down with #60 sandpaper, and if it’s too small, wrap the needle case with clear vinyl to increase the diameter a bit.

My wooden needle case was too big, as were many of them, so I had to sand mine down to size. It was about 3 beads (size 11 delicas) too wide. After I finished sanding, I started beading and managed to complete seven rows! After about the fourth row, I was beginning to get the rhythm of the peyote stitch and move along a little faster. Liz helped me with the tension on the initial rows, which formed a better base moving forward through the pattern. Next month, Liz will show us how to bead and attach the round top and bottom pieces of the needle case.

beads and wooden needle cases

delica beads and wooden needle cases

seven rows done

Seven rows completed

Here’s a link to an excellent video by Beth Murr of Until We Bead Again that shows how to do tubular peyote around a needlecase:

And here’s a link to Beth’s video that shows how to make and attach the circular piece at the top of the neeedlecase:

Mean Kitty Song

This cute video has been on youtube for a long time, but I just found it today. If fact, Mean Kitty’s owner, Cory Williams, made a whole series of videos featuring his adorable cats Sparta and Loki. The kitties  aren’t really mean, they are just doing their job, being cats. Cory, Loki, and Sparta even appeared on The Bonnie Hunt Show. Animal lover Bonnie Hunt has a great afternoon talk show, and she loves to feature cute animal videos she finds on youtube.

Beautiful Tatting From Val

Beautiful tatting from Valerie

My friend Val tatted this beautiful piece and gave it to me for my birthday. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love it! She put it into the plastic pouch of a little purse-sized notebook. I could add the tatted piece as an embellishment to an embroidery, but for now I’m going to leave it in the notebook and think of Val every time I open it to jot down some notes or make a list.

Not only did she give me this lovely gift, she wrapped it in birthday paper instead of Christmas paper, bringing to mind memories of my dear Mother making sure all my birthday gifts came wrapped appropriately for my birthday at Christmas time.

Ornament Exchange

Last night I attended the second annual Christmas ornament exchange with several of my friends. We had such fun exchanging stitched ornaments in 2008 that we decided to do it again for 2009. And after seeing how happy everyone was tonight, I’m pretty sure we’re going to exchange ornaments again next year. It’s not a random exchange, we draw names at the beginning of the year. Then. during the year, we stitch in secret (okay, some of us, and I’m not naming names here, stitched out in the open, with the intended recipient none the wiser), doing our best to make a gift our exchange partner will love.

Look at the ornament I received from my wonderful friend Val! Isn’t it beautiful? I love it! A precious little angel stitched on linen in my favorite color (it’s green for those whose monitors need a color adjustment). Plus, the ornament is made into a little bag that Val filled with Christmas candy corn because she knows candy corn is a favorite of mine. And the gift packaging was amazing too. Val put it into a big box with a bar across the top and tied the candy-filled ornament to it so it looked like it was hanging off a tree branch, while gently cradled in tissue paper snow.

ornament from val - front

The beautiful ornament I received from Val

ornament from Val - back

Back of ornament from Val

My exchange partner was my dear friend Sue. For her, I stitched the Prairie Schooler 2004 Santa, and changed the message from “Merry Christmas” to “Don’t Stop Believin'” because she is the #1 fan of the band Journey. Get the double entendre? Journey song and believe in Santa forever? Sue liked it, and I am so happy. This was the first piece I finished in the flat padded style. My friend Liz helped me make the twisted cording for it a couple of nights ago at our EGA meeting—right in front of Sue! LOL.

Don't Stop Believin'

2004 Prairie Schooler Santa for Sue