We've been busy here in the land of Sparksalot, and most of the time we're focusing ourselves on things that, well, need to fall back out of focus. Still, I'm finding some time in-between the chaos to sit and stitch.
Last Saturday, my Mom came up from NJ and she and I hit the Northeast Extension, headed for Tannersville, PA. While at Hershey this year (and I think last year, too), we met Jan, the owner of Mimi's Attic. We learned on Jan's site that she had a number of Saturday Sit 'n' Stitches, and so we signed up just about as soon as we returned from Hershey. By last Saturday, Mom had a list of things she just absolutely needed to have and Jan's shop was just the thing for her shopping list. While Mom shopped, relentlessly, I finished the second Red Hat sock, unceremoniously tossing the pair at her once I kitchenered the last loops, saying, "Here--a present." I was so quick to give them to her that I didn't get a picture! Note to self--get picture from Mom of her socks.
With the sock out of the way (and another FO to add to the list, hooray!), I set about working on another present for Mom:
This is a pattern from The Drawn Thread that I picked up in Hershey '05. It's something that for all the years my Mom's attended the stitching festival, she's wanted to buy the pattern but always managed to talk herself out of it. You know how that goes--"Yeah, I really want it, but I don't have the time to make it, and I've got all this other stuff to do still... If it's here next year, then maybe..." Except next year is just a repeat of the previous year, with the added, "If I really wanted it so much, I would have bought it last year." Putting an end to this hooey, I snagged the pattern and the floss kit and told Mom she just needs to get over it already.
I started stitching this piece in late summer (I'm very bad with noting things, like dates and pattern modifications--the second being something bites my ass whenever I take a vacation between knitting each sock in a pair) and it's progressing faster than I'd expected. Aside from the delicate stems along the border, I have flowers yet to stitch. I'm hesitant to get to that point, though, since the flowers involve French knots, and well, I'm not a fan of French knots. In fact, I once wrote of French knots: va te faire foutre. I didn't win over any French knot enthusiasts, but then again, FKE's can be an odd lot. I'll get over my French knot issues, I'm sure. Or, I'll secretly replace every charted French knot with a tiny glass bead.
I've also started some Christmas stitching. This is a piece I'm working on for my grandmother:
I've got a couple of complaints with this particular kit. One, the instructions are not clearly written. There have been several times when I've read and reread the instructions and then called my Mom to ask, "What the hell does this mean?" Mom's been equally stumped and the two have us have come to the conclusion that Lorri Birmingham doesn't write the best instructions... No offense, Miss B--your designs are pretty awesome and I've enjoyed taking your classes over the last few years, but you leave a little bit too much to the stitcher's imagination. Two, there are obviously 4 teacups (see here), one for each season. The floss came pre-cut and separated into four hanks. Stupidly, I figured each hank represented a season, but as I sorted the floss I quickly discovered that there was no logical explanation for the four hanks other than it might have made the task of sorting pearl white and light gray pearl slightly easier since the two colors were in separate hanks. But still! Third, I have suspicions that even diligently and meticulously sorted, I've managed to mis-sort some of the floss. When I compare my work in progress with the image on the kit, something just looks off. Of course, and this is number four, I'm also pretty sure that the sample photographed for the kit IS NOT stitched using the same colors supplied with the kit. Fifthly, I've always heard x-stitchers marvel and maim about Teresa Wentzler's patterns. My Mom calls her a nasty person, but my Mom's friend Laura swears by the TW designs. The main criticism here is that TW uses a lot of blended fibers--you know, a strand of DMC 304 paired with a strand of DMC 378. I don't rightly know if those two even go together, but the point is, many people find this blending to be a pain in the ass (no matter if they like the designs or the actual stitching, it's just something that slows down stitching progress since it involves pulling two floss bobbins for one chart symbol. I know, woe is me.). And while Lorri Birmingham's Tea for All Seasons doesn't call for blended fibers, it does call for an awful lot of stop and go stitching. In the Summer tea cup (in my photo, it's the one that is 97% complete), there's a point on the rim of the tea cup that was charted as being various shades of blue (ok, it gives a nice effect), white, and then this random single BROWN cross-stitch. I suppose what I'm complaining about here is that for a relatively small project and for something that looked simple in the package, this little piece is proving to be time-consuming. Will I finish it? Of course--it's a gift. Will I rush out to replicate the pattern in another stitching project? DON'T BET ON IT. When this thing is done, I'm shoving the leaflet in the very back of my craft closet and then forgetting about it.
Next up, more posts about Rhinebeck: Sock Stash, and an update on home appliances.