Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Retreat Report

Good Evening.  I'm Marnie Graley and THIS is the RETREAT REPORT.... (I might be watching too much investigation reporting on teevee..)

October 2016 has been as beautiful as ever here in Wild & Wonderful WV.  I do my level best to embrace it in it's entirety because it is so fleeting.  Making the annual drive into the heart of WV to enjoy three days of nearly uninterrupted stitching is part of my fall ritual of embracing nature in all her glory.  Since the leaves turn first in Northern WV, a simple 90 minute drive can totally change the landscape.  It was not the case this year, but the warm breezes, cool nights, brilliant blue skies and migrating geese sure did my soul a world of good.  Not to mention spending three whole days with the gaggle of stitchers that are my tribe.  While it was a smaller group than usual, that translated into more stitching less chatting, hence more progress by Sunday noon than normal.

This year I took only two Christmas projects to work on; one small ornament and one medium needlepoint.  Giving credit where credit is due, some genius stitcher on Needlepoint Nation (Facebook group) posted her version of a geometric needlepoint piece which ran in the Nov/Dec 2014 Needlepoint Now magazine.  She took a solid blue circle and altered only the colors to make it a holiday wreath.  Luckily for me I had the magazine and plenty of green fibers to pull from stash.

"Winter Scenery" by Martina Dey of
Stickideen Von Der Wiehenburg
Needlepoint Now Nov/Dec 2014 (pgs. 18-20)

Ultimately, it will morph into a green wreath surrounded by a white background.  The original design calls for six shades of blue in #8 perle cotton, one metallic and one variegated thread.  I'm not sure I'll stick to that formula exactly but I'll have perle cottons, metallics and variegated threads in mine.  The above represents about two days worth of stitching.  It moves along quickly and I'm eager to see it completed!

For the Annual Ornament Exchange at the guild Christmas party, I chose this cutie from My Big Toe Designs from the 2016 JCS Christmas magazine (pg. 80).  Aren't her designs lovely?

So until next time friends, STITCH HAPPY!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beading Happy Dances!

Ten years seems like a long time, right?  Unless you are a stitcher, then it is generally understood that ten years is not really that long.  True story - in 2006 I attended my first EGA National seminar in Richmond Virginia and fell in love with the whole experience.  The beaded name tag below was designed specifically for the event.  Knowing the limit of my abilities with beads, it was something I mentally back-burnered... for ten years...

2006 EGA Gentle Pursuits name tag
design by Elizabeth Graff

Fast forward to 2016 (exactly one decade later), and I participated in a beaded bracelet class that offered me the skill and experience needed to tackle the name tag.

EGA exclusive Designers Across America project
Beaded links bracelet by Karla Gee

So, after baby sister stole this bracelet (directly off my wrist I might add), I made version 2.0 to keep for my own self.  It was only after I completed the second bracelet that I mustered the courage to tackle the name tag (above). 

Not stopping there, I fell head over heels in love with this 'Prissy Peacock' fob and actually finished it in one day and an hour.  Considering none of them have fallen to pieces (yet), I am a bit more than pleased with myself and feeling way more confident when confronted with a pile of loose beads and a beading needle. The moral of this story is Never Say Never.

Prissy Peacock fob by
Fern Ridge Collections

And, that sums up Beading palooza 2016.

Stitch Happy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


If I'm totally honest, I did not intend to take a 9 month sabbatical from blogging... It just happened.  Then, I wondered, if I really want to call it a sabbatical, shouldn't I just go and take off a full year?  After two seconds of consideration, I came to the conclusion that if I felt like blogging, I should blog.
Sooooooo...... Hellllooooooooo!  Life has been very full in 2016.  Having a baby in the family has given all of us great joy even though she lives a full nine hour drive away.  K1 (as I'll call her here) will be 14 months old tomorrow.

 Luckily, hubby and I have gotten to visit her five time since she was born and are always planning our next visit.  She's the sweetest thing. Ever.

On the stitching front, I have actually logged many stitching and beading (!) hours since my last post.  I won't try to catch up with this single post, but here is peek at my current WIP (a piano bench cover):

Ultimately, the bargello pattern will have five shades of red and four shades of grey, giving it a very OSU look.  It's all Paternayan yarn (two strands) on 13/14 ct. monocanvas.  This is the largest thing I've ever tried to stitch but it is very relaxing since the pattern is repetitious.

Next time, I'll share some of the beading I have finished this year.  Beading is NOT my 'thang' so to have three (actually four, but you'd have to ask my thieving sister about that) whole pieces completed within one year has me very chuffed.

Stitch Happy!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Wedding Sampler

Silly me - I forgot to post a finished pic of the non-traditional wedding sampler I did for my stepson and his wife.  Instead of full names, dates, etc., it only shows their married monogram.  The border design is from My Big Toe "Wedding Sampler".  I omitted the charted verse to make room for their monogram.  Working such a fussy border with two shades of variegated purples was not my favorite thing in the world but their wedding colors were white, grey and shades of lavender so the grey linen and purple threads do remind me, and hopefully them, of their special day.

The central G is my first attempt at freehand embroidery letters.  It is far from perfect but at arms length I'll rate it a B+.  Fingers crossed, I will be taking Canby Robertson's class on embroidered lettering next fall in Alexandria VA.  Hope to learn the right way to do it then...

Until next time, Stitch Happy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Little things

Nothing beats a little instant gratification so like most of you, I need to keep a small thing going while I'm working on bigger projects.  The side of my brain that craves efficiency hates it but the creative side of my brain revels in it, so here are a few small finishes from recent months...

Order of the Eastern Star bag tag
Vineyard Silks and metallics on 18ct. canvas
charted by me from a Google image
gift for my sister

Victoria Sampler "Ohio" state ornament
gift for my Aunt D in Ohio

Left:  Huck Weaving coaster
assorted #5 Perle Cotton on huck fabric
EGA monthly education project

Right:  Swedish Weaving bell ornament
#5 Perle Cotton, DMC embroidery floss, metallics and beads on Aida cloth
EGA Petite Project by Frieda Carnell

Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 State Fair results

Back in August, I must have been so spellbound by my new granddaughter that I forgot to post State Fair results.  It had been several years since I had sent anything so I had plenty of work from which to select.  Six of the seven things I entered won ribbons.  It was a lot of fun and pretty shocking.  My work isn't the most beautiful, elaborate or technically perfect, but the judges were kind anyway..

Back row:  Ott light tote bag embellished with needlepoint panel & Ol' Glory project bag
Middle row:  Clover stumpwork oval, Tree of Life amulet necklace, Eagle framed needlepoint
Front row:  Needleworker cross stitch from Little House Needleworks 

Better pics:

The ribbons are wonderful but the prize money paid for the two trips over and back to the fairgrounds.  I think that tickled me more than the ribbons!

Until next time, Stitch Happy!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Old UFOs, New Happy Dances

Hello friends, it is I, the (unapologetic) lazy blogger... I have rediscovered my stitching mojo and made the most of it this summer/fall.  Having grown disgusted with the number of pieces I have "half-finished", I made a concerted effort to polish a few of them off before the ball drops on 2016.  And, I'm happy to report that it has been a productive season.

Primarily though, we are enjoying the newest edition to our family (granddaughter Kamrynn).  She is almost 19 weeks old and changing so much.  We are excited to visit her again in December for her first Christmas.

And, here are the stitching finishes I'm pleased as punch to share with you:

Kelly Clark Needlepoint
Irish mini stocking
too many threads and beads to list
(began in 2013)

"Turning Leaves" by Laura J. Perin
threads:  Watercolours, #5 perle cotton, metallics and beads
(began November 2013)

"Gathering Pinecones" by Hillside Samplings

In addition to these, I also finished Kamrynn's birth sampler, as well as two small huck weaving pieces taught during EGA monthly meetings.  I'll show you those three next time.  Until then,

Stitch Happy!

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!