29 December 2008

WIP: Living With Charm (Lizzie Kate)

WIP - Week One
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Here's my progress after one week of stitching the Lizzie Kate project. The colors in this shot are a bit more accurate than the one from last week. I took this shot in the daylight versus at night last week.

My spacing between Remember and Give is a bit tight, but I didn't want to rip out all the letters in Give, so I just let it be. I had to rip out a significant part of Dream and didn't want a repeat of that.

There are twelve motifs in all, so I'm about 1/3 of the way complete. With the holiday this week, I hope to get a little more done. In fact, I think I'll head downstairs and start prepping dinner and then get to work on Listen and Learn.

28 December 2008

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

On Christmas Day, Mark and I took the dogs to the dog beach in Manasquan. The girls had a lot of fun running free along the beach and Suki even explored the mud exposed by the tide being out.

I had a lot of fun snapping photos of the two of them (and Mark) on the beach, but I also took a few shadow photos of me and Tara - this being my favorite. I like how the shadow makes me look tall (and thin) and her look like a big dog, not the 18 lbs she really is.

24 December 2008

WIP: Living With Charm (Lizzie Kate)

WIP - 23 Dec 2008
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

I started work on this Lizzie Kate piece this past Saturday (20 Dec) after coming home from the MetroStitchers holiday party.

After spending a Sunday afternoon correcting my errors, I got some quality time in during Monday Night Football and this evening. I've got the bulk of the second motif (Love) complete and with a bit of luck, I'll be able to start on the third motif sometime tomorrow. I have been stitching the border as I go along -- it's pretty much mindless work and I don't want to save it until the very end.

I had forgotten how much I don't like working on Wichelt linen -- in hindsight, I wish I had gotten a neutral evenweave instead. But I'll press on and finish this on the linen.

Stay tuned for more updates on my work-in-progress.

22 December 2008

Snow, Smiles and Stitches

Current WIP
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

On Saturday morning, I made the drive up to North Jersey to meet up with some of the MetroStitchers for their annual holiday party at a local needlework shop. The MetroStitchers are a group of needleworkers (loosely interpreted to include knitters, crocheters, cross-stitchers, beadweavers, etc.) living in and around the MetroNYC area.

I met many of these women and established friendships while I lived in Brooklyn. Since moving to Jersey, I've kept in touch via email/phone with many of them, but attending actual events has not been one of my strong points. Since this party was scheduled, I had been looking forward to it with great anticipation. So much that the threat of a winter storm on Friday into Saturday had me slightly bummed.

The storm didn't amount to much down in my area so I soldiered on and made the hour long trip up north to sit and stitch with this talented group. They had a lot more snow up there, but they have cleared it pretty well, so I'm glad I made the drive. I saw friends who I hadn't seen in 2+ years -- simply wonderful to sit down, chat and catch up with them. I know I really don't want to go that long without hanging out with them again.

For the better part of a 2-3 years, I've not been inspired to stitch much. But a few weeks ago I got an itch and the needle and thread have been flying. I've made a wedding sampler for one friend (and her husband who's pretty talented with needle and thread himself) as well as starting on Christmas piece for me and a secret piece for another friend. I've been spending the evenings on the sofa, dogs beside me, stitching away. Even my Sunday routine has been slightly altered -- instead of being a barfly all afternoon, I'm not spending part of the afternoon at home, watching football and stitching. (Maybe me and my needle was what was needed for the Bengals to start winning. ha ha.)

The shop we gathered at is a needleworker's idea of heaven - all the charts/designs, fabric, threads, embellishments that you could ever imagine is there. While my dry spell didn't stop me from shopping, my record spending sprees were never challenged during that period. I did do a little damage on Saturday - picking up two pieces that I really liked, one of which I started Saturday evening.

This is a series of Lizzie Kate designs that will be stitched on one long piece of fabric. The designs can be stitched individually, but I didn't much care for them that way. It was when I saw the entire series of designs stitched as one, I fell in love. I saw this several months ago (maybe last Thanksgiving at my mom's LNS) but balked at the cost of the charts. On Saturday, I snapped up all the charts, the fabric and necessary threads. My current progress can be found in my Flickr album, but the photo is what the finished piece will look like - although framed differently, I'm sure.

As with any needlework project, counting mistakes are bound to happen and I spend the second half of the Eagles game undoing the damage done by the frog. (Rip-it, Rip-it - for those not in-the-know about the frog.) By the time of the Sunday night game, I had corrected my error and re-stitched the portion of the design I had ripped out. I actually was able to start work on the second motif (Love) of the design.

I'm quite pleased that the weather held out and I was able to make it up north for this gathering. I missed some of the MetroStitchers who didn't attend (some people just don't want to leave Manhattan) and hope that I'll get to see them in the near future at another event. I loved being amongst people who share my love of needlework and I think this was what I needed to kick-start my creativity again. I'll have to look at the calendar and see when I can schedule a stitch-in at my house -- the infamous Stitching with Stanley event. (Stan proved to be a great host the first time I had the MetroStitchers over, so every any event at my house is now known as Stitching with Stanley.)

15 December 2008

In Memoriam

Alan and Etta
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

One year ago today, my FIL passed away. His wife (and Mark's stepmmother), Etta, had passed away earlier in the year. Add this to the fact that my (step)father, Homer, passed away in August, it's easy to say that 2007 was not the best of years for us.

When we went to Florida in November, we flew into Ft Lauderdale - both Mark and I commented that it was odd that we weren't going to visit his dad while we were down there.

While we lived up north and he lived down south, Mark spoke to his father daily. I would speak to him infrequently, but always enjoyed my conversations with him. Like me, he shared a love of reading and he and I would recommend or swap books amongst ourselves.

Tonight I sit here and remember my FIL with fond memories. I know he had a long life, filled with joys and sorrows. My life is richer for having known him - I only wish that we had more time to enjoy each other's company. I like to believe that Alan (as well as Etta and Homer) are with us still - if not in life, at least in spirit.

RIP Alan. You are missed by all of us.

14 December 2008

Drive-By Santa: 2008 Edition

Drive By Santa 2008
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Every December, Santa Claus comes riding through the neighborhood on a fire engine. You hear the sirens from miles away and finally the parade comes down your block.

The first year this happened, Mark and I wondered what the heck was going on. We heard sirens for quite a while and when it got loud, I went out to investigate. I was probably about 1/3 of the way down the block when the caravan turned down our street and I came running back to the house to share the news.

The past two years the dogs and I waited outdoors to see Santa. This year I was walking Tara and Suki when Santa stopped a few doors down (the local fire chief's house) so I snapped a few shots there.

It's nearly an hour later and I can still hear the sirens - faintly. The dogs and I didn't make it to get their photos with Santa this year, so I'm glad they got to see him come by, even if they didn't get to sit on his lap and tell them what they want for Christmas.

11 December 2008

Mac's Alive!

img 093
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Two months ago, we adopted another cat from the Monmouth County SPCA - Mac.

Mac is the quintessential scaredy cat. You just look at him and he gets spooked. He's pretty much hid in his carrier or under our bed since we brought him home, with the exception of feeding or using the litter box.

However, over the past few weeks, he's been venturing out more. He no longer runs when he encounters a two legged resident, but if you turn your back or break eye contact, he'll scamper away to his safe haven. On Tuesday, while I was out back playing with the dogs, I found him sitting next to Stanley, looking wistfully at the leaves blowing about the great outdoors. When the dogs were ready to come back in, Mackey Mac was nowhere to be found.

Last night as I was watching TV, I saw his face pop around the corner and then he strolled into our kitchen. I stood up and he scooted off, hopping over the baby gate into our dining room. My camera was handy, so I snapped a couple shots of him in new places - under the dining room table, next to the living room sofa.

He's still skittish, but he seems to be making progress. He'll sleep on the bed now, let Mark pet him briefly, and explore the house. He's quite a nocturnal creature - and gets the other cats involved in his last night hijinx. I wish he were a cuddlebug like the others, but I don't know if he'll ever completely warm up to humans. We'll give him all the time he needs. I have to think he's much happier here, having a house to patrol versus the cage he was in at the SPCA.

10 December 2008

A Gift from the Heart

Wedding Sampler
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Now that the wedding is past and the happy couple are on their honeymoon, I can share the 'top secret' project I've been working on for the past couple months.

I knew from the time Jenn and Kevin announced their engagement, I wanted to stitch them a wedding sampler, but I wasn't keen on the traditional wedding samplers. In June, I did a search on Hoffman's to see what came up and I fell in love with this one by Bent Creek. I ordered it through Elegant Stitch, but for whatever reason, they could not get it in although they ordered it over and over again. With less than three months to go, I began a blitz, calling shop after shop, finally finding the chart at my mom's LNS in Cincinnati. Graciously my mom ran over to the shop, picked up the chart and the required threads and sent them to me.

I hope that Jenn and Kevin will appreciate my gift as much as I enjoyed stitching it. I'm all about handmade gifts from the heart. I chose not to frame it, but to give them a gift card so they can choose a frame to their liking.

As for the particulars - I used the threads called for, but the fabric was a piece of 28 ct Quaker Cloth (Kiwi Illusions - exact color is forgotten, perhaps Merino). All in all, I think it turned out quite lovely.

08 December 2008

Tara's First Snow

img 065
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

...in New Jersey, at least!

We woke yesterday morning to a light dusting. As Tara came from Florida (via the Eskie Railroad) when I adopted her and had lived in Lower Alabma previous to that, I wasn't sure if she had experienced snow in her life.

I opened the patio door yesterday and she and Suki trotted right out. I had to coax both of them off the patio and onto the yard, but once there, Tara acted like nothing was out of the ordinary - doing her business as usual. She did skirt the edges of the yard though once she realized there were some patches without the white stuff.

While Tara took it all in stride, I'm still anxious for some significant snowfall so I can see how she reacts to snow up to her chest. Bring on winter -- I've got my coat, I've got my gloves, and I've got my boots. All I need is snow!