Friday, October 21, 2016

The stitching cure




It's been a week around here. We refinished our double front doors, which were looking fairly shabby for the past year or two, as the old finish wore off and the wood started to dry out. The doors are not fancy - they're the original builder's-grade doors from when the house was built in the early 1980's - but they're pretty, fully paneled with a carved floral section in the center. They are meant to look like old-fashioned Spanish-style doors (our house's exterior is designed in the pueblo style, with Spanish touches; the interior is standard four-bed, two-bath ranch with two living areas). We looked into having the doors professionally refinished but the contractors' quotes made me cry, so we did it ourselves. Basically, there were many phases of sanding interspersed with many phases of varnishing, all to the local 80's-only radio station because it gets you going. The doors stayed open all day long, which was actually nice, but we needed to finish the job while we're in the window of good weather for leaving double doors wide open all day (tediously, the deadbolt and doorknob had to be reattached every night before bed). It was a lot of work but the doors look much better now and they'll have better sun protection. Oh, that relentless high-desert sun. It's lovely, especially right now, but it can really do a number on your stuff. 

Meanwhile, regular life continued - work, school and homeschool, doctor's appointments, minor medical-insurance struggles (ugh), school meetings, kids' lessons, the odd cat on the roof late at night (yes, it kept me awake for hours; I think it was having trouble finding a way down). I meant to blog days ago but I never got around to it. Today is my day "off." I went grocery shopping, put all the food away and repackaged the meat into smaller portions for dinners. I washed and dried a load of towels. I cleaned the kitchen and the bathrooms. I don't have to do any school driving today, luckily. The Bear is doing it both ways. Whoop! We're a good team.

I've had very little downtime lately, but when I have had some, I'm finding myself working on the My Sweetiepie ABC's sampler by Alicia Paulson, which I began stitching in September. It's meant for my sweetiepie GB as a Christmas present. I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get it done in time (I plan to have it framed, so I'll need to leave time for that as well). I do hope to finish it in time, though. I think it will be a nice gift. 


For me, the preparations for a stitching project are part of the fun. Alicia's cross-stitch kit comes very neatly organized with the flosses separated into three labeled groups, A, B and C. There are a lot of colors, so this makes it easier to figure out which is which as you make your floss organizers (using a piece of chipboard included in the kit). There's something about a craft kit that makes me feel really on top of things - all the supplies at my fingertips, ready to make something pretty. I stitch lots of pieces without a premade kit, but when I have one, it feels special.


Just look how neat and tidy...I love seeing the flosses laid out like this. I used my best handwriting, too. Always important. The colors in this sampler are really pretty. I like the way they range from neutrals and pastels through brighter, more saturated tones. The fabric is 28-count Cashel linen in a putty-beige color, I'd call it, but to me it also has a pinkish tone. I think the colors look really good against it. I'd expect nothing less than beautiful color sense from Alicia, though.


I really like how the sampler pattern is broken down into quadrants. Alicia says in the instructions that you can start with the apple for A if you measure so much down from the top and in from the left side, so you don't really have to start in the center of the design. This is a new approach for me; I've never started a cross-stitch project, even a tiny one, anywhere but dead-center. I like this a lot. I'm almost finished with the upper left quadrant. I hope the motifs are self-explanatory.


The house is my favorite so far. It took me about six hours altogether to stitch. It was so relaxing! I've said it before, but nothing soothes me like cross-stitch. Gosh, I love it so much. Look at the windows! And the red door! So sweet. I should have painted my doors red.


I still have an ice cream cone to stitch before I finish this first quadrant, but it's small. I'm excited for some other things later on. There's an octopus! Miss GB loves octopi, she draws them often and recently wrote and illustrated a story about an octopus family. They wore eight-legged jeans, which amuses me so. She doesn't know this sampler is for her, though she has commented several times that it would be "really nice for a girl's room." Perhaps she is dropping hints? Well, she is in luck because it IS for a girl's room - MY girl's room. I'm really glad to be making it, for her and for me.

What's new where you are? October shines and glows here. The weather here just won't quit - it's warm and sunny day after day after day lately, not a cloud in the sky, ever. It's lovely and slightly eerie. But the nights and mornings are nice and cold now, just the way I like them to be, and layering is easy. I'm pacing myself: when the wind is howling across the roof in January, I know I'll miss these balmy afternoons and sweater-worthy mornings.

28 comments:

  1. It's such a beautiful sampler and you're doing a good job. I'm stitching away on a gift too at the moment, I think it makes it all the more enjoyable when you know you're beavering away for someone else.

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  2. your door is beautiful! the job you did was time consuming but I think really makes the simple beauty of it stand out (and I love red doors too but I think your choice is perfect for the door you have)...

    that cross stitch is so nice. it's lovely. I hope to get back to quilting again soon; I totally get how doing a craft can calm one.

    Blessed weekend!

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  3. Your doors look great - both the real ones and the red one in the cross-stitch! :o)

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  4. Your door looks great. We had to repaint our front door and just that was hard enough without all the sanding and staining you did. I like your cross stitch. I'm working on one for a Christmas gift, but I fear that at the rate I'm going it may turn into next year's birthday present.

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  5. You are fostering cross-stitching dreams in me, Jennifer. I have not been impressed with my efforts in the past, but your enjoyment of your project is softening my memory so perhaps one day I will try another project. Your doors look like they came out beautifully [even without being painted red]. I can imagine the raised pattern in the wood was especially tricky to refinish. I have been knitting and doing some art pages, and stitching some patchwork squares together. Now I am going to concentrate on crocheting my Winter Project shawl! Happy Weekend! [ its been mostly cloudy and rainy here this week] xx

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  6. You sure did a wonderful job on those doors! You could wait until this varnish starts looking worn and then do some sanding and paint them red! I could envision you painting the carvings with green leaves, yellow flower centers and blue petals.. wouldn't that be something? I'm glad you are enjoying your xstitch.. I have a kit I need to start. Enjoy your perfect weather! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  7. The door looks great, and your sampler is amazing!!!! I have one of Alicia's samplers, I picked it up a few years ago, I should really get it out and start it ;)

    An 80's only station...how fun is that. I wish we had one here. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  8. Well worth all the effort the doors look wonderful. A great job on the sampler too, such a lovely gift filled with love the best sort of gift in my opinion. Take care.

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  9. The doors look so nice! I know the sampler will be beautiful too, and will make a wonderful gift.

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  10. WOW! I love your doors. I would like to have a special, pretty door but our plain white metal one will have to do. :-). And your sampler is coming along beautifully. Did you see the new winter one on her blog that will be for sale soon? I think it's gorgeous too. I want to live in her house and so do most other people I know who read her blog. So cozy. The GB will be so happy when she realized the sampler is really for her. I love that.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  11. Well done on doing the doors yourself, a good job done I think. The cross stitch kit is lovely. I really like the one Alicia has done with all of the houses on it. I hope you have a lovely weekend Jennifer. CJ xx

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  12. Your door is gorgeous - I do envy a nice front door. Ours is awful but I'm reluctant to change it as it lets a lot of light into the hallway. Lucky GB to be getting such a lovely present; she will be thrilled when she realizes that it's for her. Happy stitching. xx

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  13. Your doors look lovely, well done on tackling that job yourselves. Your stitching is beautiful....it will be such a special gift for GB. Wishing you all a happy weekend.
    Helen xox

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  14. Your front door must have been a lot of work, sounds like you worked as a team really well to get it done. Your climate is so different from ours. I haven't done any cross stitch for a long time, but when I did, I always enjoyed the preparation part. Sorting out the threads, getting to know the symbols for each one etc. I am sure your daughter will be extremely happy with her gift on Christmas morning x

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  15. The doors look lovely Jennifer and so does your cross-stitch. The weather is certainly cooler over here but not too bad yet! I'm off to give my lawn it's final cut of the year. :) xx

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  16. Gillian from tales from a happy house is doing this one too. It does look a lovely sampler and seems easily broken down into sections, It must be satisfying to see each letter and picture completed. Jo x

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  17. What a beautiful front door -- it sure looks fancy to me! I love the pretty carving on it. Your sampler looks like a really fun project too -- I hope you make the deadline!

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  18. So pretty. Cross stitch is one craft I have not yet tried. I must add it to my list.

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  19. Great job with the doors, they look lovely. We have to do something with the doors at our new home as they look very shabby, I think it will be sanding and varnishing for us as well.

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  20. Well done on the doors, the sampler and getting a wee bit of time to yourself. Life is so crazy busy these days.
    Have a good week,
    Meredith

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  21. Love the patterns on your doors. They are looking great. There is nothing better than stitching for quiet therapy. It's wonderful. Yours is looking good, love the house too! B x

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  22. There is nothing as relaxing as an Alicia sewing project I think. Your GB is going to love her sampler. I've just finished the Daisy Chain sampler in crewel wool and loved doing it so much I'm going to do another using embroidery silk (I have such a stash of this from a lifetime of doing embroidery) on antique linen (lots of this too). You have made a great job of your doors. I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at Tate Modern last week and loved her paintings of the pueblo houses and of the mountains viewed from her front yard which reminded me of you Jennifer and your palpable love for your high desert home. I'm sure you do this already but a splash of red from a pot of tulips (T. Georgette is lovely) or pillar box red pelargonium or lipstick red cyclamen plus red leaves and red berries or even red stems according to season (thinking Nandina or Pyracantha or Cornus here) would look wonderful against the sandstone of your home. Enjoy your autumn days - it's been pretty special in the UK lately.

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  23. The doors look beautiful.. in some instances doing it ourselves is way better than hiring someone.
    wow 6 hours to do the house.. i would never be able to handle the complications of it.. i'd so mess it up!

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  24. I love cross stitch too, though I don't think I've stitched such fine linen, I don't think my eyes would be up to the job now. It's looking beautiful xx

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  25. How lovely your doors look, Jennifer - you two really are a team, and you do wonderful things with your hands. You make me wish to take up cross-stitch again (I stopped because I felt I had too many framed pieces around the house). The sampler is indeed very pretty and a special gift. It will be soothing to stitch as the weather becomes colder.

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  26. Your front doors are beautiful! I'm guessing you don't have many insects there if you can leave your doors open - and also that you don't have a screen door. Here in northern IL, everyone has a screen door and screens on the windows as we have a ton of mosquitoes, flies, gnats, box elder bugs, etc.

    You mentioned you have four bedrooms. What do you use the extra 4th bedroom for? Perhaps you've mentioned this before and I just don't remember. Do you have a little studio?

    Love the cross-stitch. Your daughter will be so surprised and delighted that it's for her!

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  27. Lovely! You're doing a wonderful job with the sampler!
    I know what you mean about October! It's been glorious here.

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  28. Your doors look beautiful. Really lovely. I like how they're double doors - you don't see that a lot here. It's funny that were both stitching the same project at the same time. I'm half way through the house and it's charming. I remember the night I stitched the octopus - John and I were watching Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (the 78 Donald Sutherland version) and I'll forever associate that octopus with that film. :-) xx

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