Thursday, April 7, 2011


Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
Here's the bowl of bits for this month's Totally Useless StitchALong.

I squished down the orts from last month, so the fluffy ones on top are more obvious. Fewer orts this month. A bit from Storyteller, and some white and orange and brown for a surprise new quick project I didn't exactly mean to stitch on, but is almost done anyway.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Autumn Charm progress as of 2/28/11

Forgot to mention the progress on Autumn Charm during last February. It used to look like a pink blob. Now there are obvious leaves. All the full stitches are done, and now all that is left is filling in the rest of the area with half stitches. Then I can figure out the finishing instructions, which don't make much sense to me while reading them. Maybe they will be easier to figure out when I can flip stuff over and turn it around in my hands.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Storyteller progress as of 2/28/11

Here's the second progress picture since the beginning of the year. The first progress post is here. At the end of February, I had done quite a lot of stitching. This was instead of cleaning and getting a job, so not exactly a win for me. But good for fleshing out this picture.

The emergency corner motif is not so out of place now.

The straight lines of the inside of the border went pretty quickly, but I'm not so sure how the rest of the border will go. There are about 29 knots, each using 3 shades of their own color, plus 4 shades of gold and brown. That's a lot of color changes. Then there are the 4 big corner motifs, one of which is complete. Five colors in each one.

Really no worse than the rest of the picture. That has its own set of color changes and confetti stitching.

The distant castle is beginning to have actual spires.

The dragon's tail has a bit of a swoop, but is still mostly confetti dots.  Without backstitching, the foot is difficult to make out from the grass or moss or dirt it is standing on.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WIP #8

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
Some time between 2000 and 2007 I picked up this little Dimensions Daydreams kit. It never got stored with the rest of the cross stitch stuff, but was in a box of mixed craft items packed for the move to New Hampshire in 2007.

It got stitched on for apparently one evening and I was very careful that the back consist of entirely vertical lines. I have never been that careful in any other WIP.

The final design looks like a lot of greens and browns, but this WIP is pink. It will eventually be lots of leaves around a square opening that holds a charm. At this point it is a square and some blobs.


Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
Here's a shot of the Totally Useless StitchALong bowl after 4 more weeks. Definitely a month full of stitching. All on Storyteller, so there are lots of blues and greens, and a layer of yellows.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cross Stitch warm up

Snow greeting card
Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This is the piece I stitched to remind myself what cross stitch was all about. All my stash was still packed away in boxes, but there was this little greeting card/ornament kit that I picked up for like 10 cents in a Michaels or JoAnns clearance sale.

Tiny thing. Fewer than 10 colors. And still it took me two and a half full days of stitching in January to finish. That recalibrated my expectations right away.

Generally I don't do such small projects. There are Wentzlers and Lavender and Lace and Dimensions Gold kits and anything with a full page chart in any of the decades worth of magazines to be done. This time, this was the kit in front of me and it was fully worth doing. I've bought a few more for travel projects and interstitial stitching. So maybe a few more finishes this year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WIP #7

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
Here we have my very oldest WIP. Teresa Wentzler's Trotter. from the Dreamscapes #1 leaflet. My cousins had been cross stitching for a few years and at some point I picked it up from them. I remember in late middle school (~1985) or early high school going to a store with my cousins and my grandmother and finding this leaflet and the Dreamscapes #2 "Chestnut" leaflet. I don't think there were any more in the series at the time. My younger cousin chose Chestnut, the more Christmassy rocking horse and I loved Trotter, the grey with a rainbow saddle. Granny bought the leaflet and the materials for me.

We wound the floss onto bobbins together and I still have a couple of bobbins with the adhesive labels cut into small ovals by my older cousin. The best one have the Floss number written on them in Granny's handwriting. At the time, of course, I remember thinking that the labels weren't as good as the pre-printed ones, especially since Granny's hand had shaken and some of the numbers were blurry. Kids. Now, the 762 (v. light pearl grey) bobbin has migrated into the pack for Storyteller and every time I pull it out I see my Granny's handwriting and I just love it more than anything.  I shall be very sad if the adhesive ever wears or the label fades too much.

I stitched the colorful saddle right away. I'm not sure how much of the blue blanket and grey horse got stitched at that time. I'm pretty sure the pink reins were done then. It sat untouched for a while. I don't remember when I picked it up again to work on the grey parts. I liked how I had to change where to fold the piece when I put it away because the leg extended past the old fold.

At some point, I pulled it out to find that a marker had leaked a big spot on the leaflet, and some of the greenish black ink had rubbed on the edge of the canvas. There were also rust stains from leaving the needle in the the canvas for so long. Washing removed the worst of those stains, but with the leaflet horribly marred I couldn't continue. At least not without going to a cross stitch store and searching for a replacement leaflet, which I never bothered with.

Then the internet came and I had a job and income of my own. That's when the big Teresa Wentzler phase hit. I tried to collect all of her patterns through eBay. Still more of a collector than a stitcher, I gathered more patterns and magazines than I would ever manage to stitch. I finished Father Winter, and I started the Storyteller. I even collected two new copies of the Trotter leaflet, plus the book of all six rocking horses. But I never started stitching Trotter again.

Looking at it now, I see my young self using 3 strands of DMC floss on 14 count aida. I see that I had no understanding of how fractional stitches were supposed to work. Just look at that diagonal pink "line" for the reins. It should have gotten all the 3/4 stitches because it is on top of the blue blanket.. But I used mostly the 1/4 stitches, fo no fathomable reason. The back of the canvas is more of a mess than it needs to be. This early Wentzler does not have much confetti stitching and young me was not even as careful as older me is now about carrying the floss across the back. The ink and rust stains are not very noticeable or are close to the edge of the fabric, but on the lower rear flank, the lightest grey stitches are stained brownish and no amount of soaking or gentle scrubbing has removed the tinge.

I still love the pattern but I am thinking that this incarnation of the project is going to remain in the unfinished state. Perhaps in the future I will stitch all 6 horses and frame this attempt as is to go along with them and remind me of my younger stitching self.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Storyteller progress 1/31/11

I guess that post about the hole I had to fix didn't really call out that I have been stitching on this piece again, a few hours each day and have made a bunch of progress. Here it is as of 1/31. In a few days I'll post the February progress picture and it looks so different. But the border may be a big slowdown. It is awkwardly shaped and there are more empty spaces that means I won't let the thread cross, so I will have to start and stop a lot more.

I've added a couple of detail photos to show the large number of colors used in the wings and in the storyteller.  There's a section that is all half crosses to indicate a castle on a hill in the background.

I do all the backstitching last.  I know there are some out there who hate backstitching.  I love to do it, bringing the indistinctness of color patches into greater focus as the people or animals or objects in the scene.

Storyteller detail
Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic

Storyteller detail
Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Location of hole.
Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
In January I noticed that there were two broken threads in the linen of my Storyteller WIP. I had to fix them. Look at the pictures in this set to see the whole story.

Flickr set showing the fix.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WIP #6

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This one may very well remain a UFO. It is a Christmas stocking kit, The Night Before Christmas from Bucilla, designed by Bonnie Smith Disotell. This may be the first cross stitch kit I purchased for myself. I am sure my grandmother was involved in the purchase of everything I did before this one. Not so sure on this one.

I have the whole kit, put away while I was in high school. Maybe worked on in college, but certainly not for long after 1990 or thereabouts. The kit materials are fine, its just that the instructions are long gone. Should I ever decide to finish this one, I'll have to figure out how to get them again. Bucilla customer support? eBay? Who knows. I have many other projects. THough it would be a shame to officially abandon anything, this may be the one.

Monday, February 21, 2011

WIP #5

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This piece is a Dimensions Gold Collection kit, Angel of Elegance by Laine Gordon. The copyright date on the bag is 1994 and I am pretty sure I bought it in an after Christmas sale in 1995 to have something to work on when I was visiting my parents. I bought it in one of their local needlework stores. At the time I was probably working on Teresa Wentzler's Father Christmas as a surprise Christmas present for my mom, so I needed something else.

Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum's angels were getting really popular around then, so this was probably Dimensions' answer. I distinctly remember preferring this design to the MLI Christmas designs available at the time. Today, I can't figure out why. I mean, I still love this angel, but there's no reason to say she's better than the others.

WIP #4

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
I'm a Teresa Wentzler-oholic. I own most of her designs, even the ones in magazines. The ones I am missing are either the very newest, released after I stopped stitching in around 2000, or the very oldest, in old magazines that are hard to find and the designs didn't have her name attached so I needed the TW bulletin board to tell me which the were.

For all that collecting, I have only completed one of her designs, Father Winter, which I think I finished in 1998, because that is the year I sewed into it. If I remember correctly, it was a Christmas present for my mom and I just missed finishing it for 1997.

This WIP is Storyteller. I've chosen this one to work on since I decided to do more cross stitch. The picture, like all the WIP pictures so far, is progress as of January 20, 2011, but I've put a lot more into it since then. Its also progress as of probably June 2000. I will guess that I basically stopped stitching in June because I know I moved that month (into a much smaller space) and I probably packed everything up and never unpacked it. It was stored in big plastic bins, so its not like there was much difference between stored stash and packed to move stash.

Storyteller is being stitched on some sore of linen. The directions say the model was stitched on platinum Cashel, so I'll go ahead and say that I'm unlikely to have varied from that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WIP #3

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This is the last of the WIPs where I have finished he stitching, but need to frame or otherwise complete the object. The pattern is Misty Morn from a Cross My Heart leaflet called Artistic Landscapes. It is done all in half cross stitch to look more fine and misty. I must have stitched it in early 2000, but I don't exactly remember. I also have no idea why I'd have cut the aida to about a half an inch margin. Now what shall Ido with it?

I really like this booklet. There are 8 landscape designs, any of which I'd like to stitch.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Goal: Exercise

2011: not great with the getting regular exercise.  But I had to do something:  In 2008 when we were training for the Boston Marathon, my friend Ben pointed out a brand new event happening in Jacksonville, Florida.  26.2 with Donna: the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  They were holding both a marathon and a half marathon in February; the half would be perfect timing for our marathon training.  So three of us went down, escaped from winter and ran 13.1 miles.  Ben and I have been there every year so far and I can't break the streak.

On Sunday I lined up with thousands of other runners.  My usual approach to distance runs is to walk one minute, run for 2-4 minutes, depending on how fit I feel.  With no training in the past year, I wasn't sure if I should even run at all.  I had 7 hours to finish 13.1 miles, which is plenty of time to walk the whole thing.  But it seemed I should work for the medal, so I decide to walk 1 minute, run 1 minute, repeat until I can't do that anymore, then walk the whole thing. It is my tradition to run (well, jog) the mile that takes place on the packed sand of Jacksonville Beach.  So I did that, and ended up maintaining the 1/1 intervals for the whole race.  I finished in 3 hours, 33 minutes and 8 seconds.

My feet hurt.  No surprise there.  But then a new thing happened: my left foot kept hurting, even with advil and ice.  I slept only in snatches all night, trying to make it feel better.  But it still hurt in the morning, so I went to a doctor, just to be sure.  Thank goodness it appears to just be tendonitis, with no fracture.  This is new for me in all the running and biking I have done.  It's now Tuesday night and it still hurts some.

I have a series of shorter races coming up.  I hope I can do them.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Goal: More money. Some teensy progress

The registration and first day of classes deadline passed, ending the possibility that i would change my mind and take more classes rather than apply for jobs.  That's kind of an oops.  I would have preferred to make that choice more actively rather than think the deadline was 1/30 when it was really 1/23.  There was a moment of considering that I still had time, because the late registration deadline had not passed and I had only missed the first week of classes.  Then I considered that I was out of the habit of thinking of myself as a student, and would not easily switch gears.  So I stuck to the plan that having a job is better than continuing to take classes which, while fascinating, are draining my savings and I'm no longer taking them seriously enough that I remember any material past the exam.

It has been a month since I got home after Christmas.  Here is the sum total of progress toward getting a new job:

1. I have looked at one university's job posting board and entered my profile information, and basic education and employment history to the account I created there.   THis is a step forward, because normally I have looked at that board but not created an account.

2. I have browsed craigslist enough to believe that there are jobs that might be interesting.

3. I have considered whether I want to do straight biology or computational biology.  Computational would combine my original degree with the new studies, but I am afraid it would lead to the same uninspired miserable feelings that corporate application programming led to.  Straight bio would not pay as well and has the possibility of my losing interest in doing lab work after it becomes routine.  Also, what if I got sloppy and ruined someone's years of research?

4.  I opened my last resume, changed the education section, and attempted to add my last job.  Of course, it has been 18 months since I did that job and it wasn't all that interesting in the first place.  So I've forgotten all the description and jargon to include.  Oh well.  I guess the important part is that I was employed there.

I think the most important thing I need is a cover letter explaining how the resume of a database developer and application programmer fits with a job posting for an entry level research assistant.

February TUSAL

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
I spent the snowstorm at a friends house. When I got home yesterday, there was a drift as tall as my snow shovel to get through. Then I slept.

So finally, now that I've gotten to it, is the Totally Useless StitchALong bowl, with substantially more orts in it than before. There are some scraps of the blue yarn from the hat I finished knitting, some red, and green and blue and white from a tiny ornament that took me days to finish, and some more subtle yellows, brown, purples, etc from much work on a Teresa Wentzler WIP.

What's missing are the orts from the small Daydreams kit I took to the friends house for snowed in stitching.

Pics of new projects and progres since I pulled out the WIPS will appear after I get through the pics of the WIPs themselves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

WIP #2

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This is Pastel Hearts Bellpull by the Kreinik company from the April 1998 issue of Just Cross Stitch. There's DMC cotton floss, satin floss, and perle cotton, as well as Kreinik gold braid and filament, pluss some white Mill Hill beads.. The original is in pinks and silvery filaments. I changed the colors to green and gold after the colors in the invitation to a coworker's wedding and I added their initials and wedding date. By the time the wedding happened, I had just left the company and that was the last time I saw those coworkers.

I intended to finish it as an oval box. I have the green satin box and the insert for the lid, as well as some dark green backing fabric to show off the cutwork. It wasn't done for the wedding. Eventually it got packed away. I wasn't particularly close to the couple, but it made a good excuse to stitch this cute little piece. I could still finish it.
I wonder if I could even find the couple it was meant for "Hey, long time no see! Still married? Good. Here's the present I meant to give you back then. Ta!"

Or I could pick out the initials and date and make it for myself or someone else. I notice that while the initials fill out the oval shape at the bottom, the top is very flat. and might be a bit nicer with something added just over the dark green line at the top.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WIP #1

Originally uploaded by polyrhythmic
This is Labrador Retriever (Yellow) by Stephanie Seabrook Hedgepath, in the book Dogs, Collection 5. The stitching is complete, but it awaits the circular frame I bought for it. I notice that the sample on the cover of the book is framed exactly that way. Not very creative on my part. I think I planned this as a gift for my roommate at the time who liked dogs. He eventually got a German Shepherd.

WIPs and Stash

I've pulled out all of my cross stitch stash.  I haven't seen this stuff since around 2001.  There are more WIPs than I thought.  I'll document them in up coming posts.

As for stash, most of my stuff is for particular WIPs but I have floss of all DMC colors available then, 208 through 3830, a few from Coats and a smattering of braid and blending filament.  Not much fabric: some leftover Aida, a couple of tubes of  CharlesCraft Monaco.  Magazines are my weakness.  I've got boxes of them.  And they all have at least one pattern I like enough to consider I might stitch it.

I have a decent collection of Teresa Wentzler and Paula Vaughn leaflets and a smattering of other designers.  I don't know what I'll get to in this lifetime.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A week in review

Since it's been a week since I posted and since not talking about it will probably lead to falling off the life improvement wagon less than 2 weeks into a new year...

Crafting:  no cross stitch yet, but I'm about 4 rows (of 400 stitches) from the finish of the hat I've been knitting for a while. Also failed to visit the dedicated cross stitch store that is nearest to me.  The website said they were open M-F, but the sign on the door said closed Mondays.  Ah well. There was an interesting consignment shop there (clothes and household goods)  Maybe a place for getting rid of stuff?  Still, 30 minute drive, so not that convenient.

Cleaning: You wouldn't know it, but yes.  The forces of chaos gave me a flooding bathroom over the weekend, so there's been a lot of mopping, laundry, etc. to clean.  Unfortunately the rest of the house has suffered and all the boxes and things that had to be moved to vacuum the water out of the carpet makes the place look horrible.

Exercising: Snow shoveling counts, but I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't had to move my car for the plow guy.  I'd still be staying inside, with 18 inches giving me the excuse never to leave again. I may do something crazy this weekend.

Money: Mad scramble to keep all the bills paid this week.  But the most I did toward maybe getting a job was browse the same websites I've browsed before.  I need to look at my resume and see if there is any way to turn 15 years of programming into something that says I don't want to be a programmer anymore.

Watching: Three Hugh Grant movies that were in the queue have been seen.  I'm apparently in the mood for witty romance.

People: I went to see the play my friend stars in.  That's a plus.  But I mostly didn't talk to anyone else, not even the other friends of his who I sort of know.

Total: mixed, somewhat positive review. Didn't break a lot of habits, but did include some things I wanted to include.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

TUSAL January

I'll be using the Totally Useless StitchALong to give some public accountability to my new commitment to more stitching and knitting this year.  The idea is to save the orts (various scraps) from your stitching in a glass container and take a picture each new moon.  I've no scraps yet this year, so this is the empty cut (pressed?) glass bowl I'll be using.

I don't even know what projects I will stitch this year.  I've got a few unfinished from the last time I did cross stitch, probably more than 10 years ago.   I'm more excited by the new patterns I see online these days.  Maybe I'll become excited by my stash when I look into it.

New Year, new blog

We won't call these resolutions.  I've been thinking that my life needs more:
  • Crafting. Cross stitch and knitting, maybe sewing, probably other things
  • Exercise.  Completely out of shape since my year of monthly half marathons ended in 2009.
  • Cleaning.  I live alone, and don't like visitors in my space.  But I am happier when stuff doesn't pile up too much.  This includes sorting my stuff and getting rid of things.
  • Reading, Watching, Playing.  I have piles of boos to read, movies to watch, Wii and DS games to play.  I've spent the money to get them, I should get the enjoyment of using them 
  • People.  This may mean dating.  It may just mean talking to friends and family.  I'm too hermity right now.
  • Cooking.  Again with the live alone.  Too much frozen food an restaurants.  Cooking is fun and usually cheaper than the aforementioned approaches to food.  
  • Money.  Getting a job in biology with or without computers.  Or getting a student loan fast.  Probably the first. Probably not marrying rich or engineering an inheritance.
This probably means having less:
  • Internet doodling. Farmville and random blog refreshing can be replaced with crafting and cleaning etc.
  • Sleep. Not having a fixed schedule and not interacting with many people means I go to sleep whenever I feel like it.  It seems like a lot.
  • Reruns. TV, movies, books, games I've already done will probably not get watched, read, played again.  Unless I really want to.
This blog is public.  It has to be for some of the accountability I will be signing up for.  I'm sort of worried about that.  If it becomes a problem, then I'll take a new approach.