Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fish Lips (extra happy dance)

Heeeeey, Fish Lips!

Yeah... I'm talkin' to you....

You're lookin' snappy today... Going anyplace special?  Or just hangin' out?

We're headed down south to a little speck on the map called Oak Island, to help greet the newest guppie to the Graley clan.

It won't be long now.. 30 days and counting!!!

Felt fish trivia:
How many felt pieces does it take to make a five-fish mobile?
10 body pieces + 20 eye pieces + 5 pair of lips + 5 upper fins + 5 lower fins + various gill and scale pieces =  A BOATLOAD (pun intended)

Fish mobile was inspired from Pinterest.  All pieces were hand cut individually (no template), hand sewn with contrasting floche cotton thread, and stuffed with 100% cotton cotton balls.

Happy happy joy joy...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Extraordinary Japan (Part 1)


Hubby and I are just back from a 15 day excursion to Japan... and what an excursion it was!  I have delayed writing about the trip since I couldn't decide how many posts it would take to describe the experience we had.  Knowing that I could probably write ten posts and not cover it all, I'm going to start here and see how far I get before lunch...

Fun facts about Japan (aka 'stuff I learned'):

  • Japan is densely populated (127+ million people) .  It is about the size of the state of California, with roughly half the population of the U.S.  So, if you took all the people age 16 and up in the US, and relocated them to California, you would emulate the population density of Japan - to compound the density, Japan has lots of green space like National Forest areas, so the population distribution is geared heavily toward major cities.
  • The capital city, Tokyo, is occupied by 13+ million people.  For comparison, the population of NYC is about 8.5 million.
  • Japanese pride themselves on cleanliness, modesty, neatness and presentation.  Not once did I see graffiti, smell cigarette smoke, see litter on the street, or smell any other offensive odor even on hot days on crowded subways.  Seriously..
  • Beauty is big business in Japan - the Japanese women as a whole are truly the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere.
  • As for food, Tokyo restaurants received more than double the number of Michelin stars than the cities of Paris and NYC combined!
  • The customer service I experienced in restaurants, hotels, cafes, department stores, train stations, etc. was beyond compare.  I found myself wondering, do they really need all these people working here? The answer was yes.  Everyone I saw working in public areas was decidedly busy helping customers, cleaning, re-shelving, organizing, demonstrating, etc. It was eye-opening.  Profit margins might be a tad thinner due to the cost of labor, but their economy must be thriving with so many people employed.  
  • Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020.
This trip opportunity came up rather unexpectedly and so I only had a short amount of time to do the preparation I typically do for a trip abroad.  I didn't have time to learn the language, although I got a lot of practice saying, "Excuse me, I don't understand Japanese. I am lost. Can you help me find (place)?" in Japanese.  The people were exceptionally helpful, even if they didn't know where something was, they tried to help anyway they could.

We started our trip in the city of Nagoya, which is a modern shipping and manufacturing center, approximately two and a half hours by high-speed train south-west of Tokyo.  Considering the time we had spent traveling and the 13 hour time adjustment, my memory of the first couple of days is a little blurry.  I did manage to find Nagoya Station (the largest train station in the world by floor area) and the most impressive Takashimaya department store attached to it.  Wow is all I can say - just wow.  Who do we need to petition to get a Tokyu Hands or Yuzawaya craft store here???

On the third day, we trained to picturesque Kyoto for sightseeing at the Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizu Temple (not to mention the most amazing lunch at Shozan Resort restaurant).  Kyoto was once the Imperial capital city of Japan and still holds itself in very high regard.  Kyoto has a feeling of refinement and elitism (in the best possible meaning).  The tea ceremony, now celebrated throughout Japan, was developed in Kyoto.  Even the souvenirs found in Kyoto were of a slightly higher grade than those found elsewhere.  It is also the place you are most likely to see geisha, geikos, and maikos going about their daily business, side-by-side with regular folk.

Kinkaku-ji, 'the Golden Pavilion', totally covered in gold leaf,
is reported to contain relics of Buddha

Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto

Kimonos and Hello Kitty in Kyoto

Stay tuned for Part 2:   from Nagoya to Tokyo, by way of Hakone and Lake Ashi.  

Monday, May 4, 2015

The 2015 Spring Retreat Report (photo heavy)

As soon as the weather begins to break, all the ladies of my embroiderers' guild start to itch for retreat weekend.  It seems like this three day, semi-annual retreat is not only blessed from above but also a blessing to each and every one of us who are able to attend.  The fellowship, fun and creativity permeates the air like the perfume from the lilacs in bloom.  If you belong to a creative group that doesn't have a short retreat of some kind at least annually, you should consider starting one.  There is nothing like being with your own tribe for 48 or 50 straight hours to revive the spirit, especially after a long, cold winter.

Sometimes I go to retreat with only one project and a clear cut goal - Make.Progress.  This wasn't that kind of retreat.  I had project ADD and took at least eight projects to either work on, rip out and re-do, think about, or analyze with a focus group.  Here's a glimpse of what went on...

Japanese kogin ornament
Monthly education project from like 87 years ago
Total re-do.  Originally looked like I had stitched it in the dark with my left foot.  New and improved stitching put in.  Might finish it as a needlebook or fob.  Not sure.  Moved on...

Aztec stitch bookmark
Monthly education project from like 187 years ago
Re-read instructions, begged for friend to finish mine, got nowhere with her, had a glass of wine, worked six rows of woven bars, felt good about it, set aside for another day.

Hardanger cross bookmark (for sister)
Tried to clear cobwebs out of the brain and remember how to travel around the woven bars, thought I remembered, needleweaved for about 30 minutes, took out 30 minutes worth of needleweaving. Set aside.

Adam and Eve by Homespun Elegance (Snippets of Olde)
Called for a focus group discussion.  Evaluated where I went wrong with the colors. Tried to decide how to selectively rip and re-do in order to make skin less pink, serpent more green, sun brighter, grass lighter, etc.  Decided I really didn't want to spend all day frogging.  Set aside.

Tudor Rose luggage tag (3" round needlepoint)
Need to couch down gold outlining around petals and work light background stitches. Acknowledged those facts.  Set aside.

Granddaughter's jeans jacket
Finally decided on motif and basted the general outline for floral heart.

Granddaughter's felt fish mobile 
selected color combos, cut out fish, fins, eyes, lips, stripes, etc.  Attached most elements.
Ready for stuffing, ribbon and assembly.

And just before we had to pack up and depart, I selected several special motifs for a nightmare-proof pillowcase (for me, not the grandbaby. that would be weird. trust me).  Stay tuned for more on the Extra Super Special pillowcase...

In non-stitchy related news, many participated in the first ever Hummingbird Aerobics class that was held on Saturday afternoon.  Ultimately the hummingbird was liberated and the liberators were jubilant.  Friend and fellow stitcher Zella celebrated her 82nd birthday.  There were no seam ripper incidents or injuries to report.  The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge welcomed Princess Charlotte into the world.  And finally, a three-year-old bay colt named American Pharoah (not Pharaoh), riden by Victor Espinoza, won the Kentucky Derby.

Until next time friends, STITCH HAPPY!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Happy Dance x 3


As the temps have risen above freezing, I have felt my brain slowly reawaken from its winter stupor.  Now that I'm full alert and feeling like a human again, it is time to address the ever-growing "To Do" list.  First on the list was to spend the $50 gift card I won last Christmas at the annual guild luncheon.  Framing for Needleworker took care of that "To Do" item:

Needleworker by
Little House Needleworks

Second up was to finish a few things in the WIP/UFO/Monthly Education basket.  Since this little cutie had me at Hello, it moved to the top of the list for finishing and framing:

Clover from Stumpwork Flowers book by
Sachiko Morimoto

And finally, my tiny little Contemporary Forest necklace from the Catherine Jordan class my guild hosted in March.  What a fun piece and outstanding designer/instructor.  

Reversible pendant (front on left, reverse on right)

That's all the news that is fit to report for now.. Until next time, STITCH HAPPY!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Blessings

Popping in quickly to wish everyone a very Happy Easter.  

Porcelain Egg
freebie from Rainbow Gallery

May your hearts (and baskets) runneth over...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snowmageddon 2015

I feel like a cry baby when it comes to nasty weather since I see folks who have it so much worse on the evening news every night, but... today makes Day 5 that hubby and I have been snowed in.  Thank goodness I bought extra supplies at the grocery before it hit.  I normally think the warnings are excessive and consequently tend not to stock up like it's the end of the world.  Glad I did this time.  Thankfully, we have several more days worth of real food before I have to make shoelace soup.

With record low temps and snow deeper than the top of my boots, I'm staying put for yet another day...

And, even though I thought I had updated everything yesterday, I found a few things I forgot to share:

Fresh finish from last night.. seasonal freebie (so hard to resist, aren't they?) 

My new favorite scissors sheath, on the right:

The tin topper and scissors fob were completed by me eleven years ago (much to my dismay).  It is hard to believe it has been that long.  I always thought they needed a third piece to complete the set.  Two things hardly constitute a set, right?  But, the chart was only for the tin topper and fob.  So, a few weeks ago while browsing at the Stitch Niche in Lexington, I saw the ultrasuede scissors sheath (with plain white 18 ct. monocanvas insert).  The color of the suede immediately reminded me of my little bargello set.  I adapted the pattern to fit the sheath, and I'm totally pleased with the outcome.   Now it looks like a "set", yes? 

Speaking of sets... once upon a time, I bought this Fern Ridge "shear hospitality" felt pineapple kit.  Nearing the end of the blanket stitching around the fronds, I ran out of thread.  So with a good amount of mumbling, it was tucked away, out of sight... for years... Truthfully, I'm making an effort to finish a few UFOs from "way back", and this little guy was so close to being finished, it was one of my first UFO finishes of the year.

File this under "Just for Fun":

Pumpkin pinkeep
tiny felt ball mounted on oversized wooden button

And lastly, I'm just remembering to share the final finished pics of the Blackwork Band 
Sampler class I facilitated for my EGA chapter last fall.  Because I love color so much, it is hard for me to stick to black thread only for blackwork.  The design itself inspired the colors I selected.   Because I'm running out of wall space, I finished mine as a combination teabag/marking pin wallet.  This band sampler is part of the Petite Projects series from the Embroiderers' Guild of America which provides members with free small educational projects in varied techniques.  The cutwork nametag I shared yesterday is also an EGA Petite Project.  If memory serves me, I've completed four of the petite projects and am always glad I did.  You can learn a lot about a new-to-you technique in even a small project.

Blackwork Band Sampler
by Julie Fera
for The Embroiderers' Guild of America

And that's a wrap for this frigid Thursday friends.  Until next time, Stitch Happy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Time for an Update

Two months in between posts is probably too long, but honestly, I didn't plan it that way.  You see at Thanksgiving, the hubby and I found out we are going to be grandparents for the first time and I think our brains exploded.  We are thrilled beyond words and have been busy getting our lives ready for the new edition.  The parents-to-be live a full days drive away from us, so you know, we've had to kill our cats, sell our house and find new jobs in NC.  DON'T PANIC.. We haven't really killed the cats, sold our house nor moved to NC, but trust me, we thought about it.

At the parents request, hubby made a crib from gorgeous maple wood he selected from Ohio Amish country.  It is packed up and ready for us to deliver, so no pics for now.  Rest assured there will be plenty of pics later, when it has something beautiful inside it.

I've been pinning (Pinterest) baby things like a crazed grandmom-to-be, and have occasionally taken a break from pinning to actually make a few baby things like talc-free powder and adorable onesies.  We soon find out the gender of the baby and I expect to go into total Freak Out mode at that point.

Since December, my Embroiderers' Guild chapter has also been participating in a group correspondence class on bead fringes.  It's been quite the challenge so I'm pleased to be finished with mine ahead of schedule:

"Frenzy of Fringes"
Group Correspondence Course for members of
The Embroiderers' Guild of America

Here is a peek at the other stitching finishes I've managed these past few months:

Oak Island needlepoint oval ornament (gift)

EGA chapter monthly education programs (above and below)

(Bargello bulb   &   Cutwork nametag)

Another luggage tag gift for my real-life Sis (and Eastern Star sister)

I could not find any Eastern Star painted canvases on the internets, so I used a Google image and transferred the image from paper to canvas.  It wasn't as hard as I expected it to be, but it wasn't a piece of cake either.  I give Janet Perry of Napa Needlepoint and Nuts About Needlepoint credit for giving me the confidence to try my hand at this.  I participated in her Create Your Own Stitch Guide cyber-class last year and learned a ton about needlepoint.  Her e-classes are very affordable and she gives you a boatload of information.  It was a great way for me to try to understand more about needlepoint.  

The WIP of the Month is the Wedding square I hope to have finished and framed before May:

.......and I'll get right on that after I finish the Small of the Month (a freebie from Rainbow Gallery and Erica Michaels) "V is for Valentine".

So, until next time friends, I certainly hope you all are warm and safe, wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy dance Happy dance...


Have you ever hunted for a pattern for, like, ever???... and then, after multiple failed attempts to obtain it, luck shines down upon your face, and suddenly, you have it in your hot little hands?  YES, your heart sings... And then, after many a family drama involving a stray kitten and/or an 18 day hospital stay, you find time to stitch it?  And then, there is that feeling of unbridled joy when you finish the finishing?  Yes, it feels like a Christmas miracle..  My little Italian Christmas sewing set is complete and I couldn't be happier.

Design:  Christmas Sewing Set
Designer:  Guilia Manfredini of GPA Designs
Stitched with Belle Soie silks (Cranberry and Steamed Broccoli)
on 35 ct. "parchment" linen

Now I'm off to bask in the glow of biscornu.  :-)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

With three weeks to go...

Sharing two more ornaments today, as we roll this holiday train closer and closer to Station 12-25...

Nine Happy Snowmen (well, three happy, six undecided)
inspiration from Pinterest (no pattern)

My interpretation of Piet Mondrian in needlepoint
Adaptation from Google image

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season!

Stitch Happy,

Friday, October 24, 2014

World Food Day

October 24th - World Food Day

Reason #734 to adore October:  World Food Day!

Help feed a family this year...Donate to your local food pantry today!