Chessboard Design in Progress

Well, so much for my own personal NaBloWriMo… I should have known: November is the absolute worst month for a college teacher to take on new goals. OK, maybe December is worse, but November is a close second.

Anyway, enough self-flagellation… today I’m updating you on all the progress I’ve made towards completing one of my goals, arranging for a model stitcher for my cross stitch chessboard design. (By the way, does anyone know why spell-check doesn’t like the word “stitcher”?) The design is a basic chessboard with sashiko-style squares and borders. Here’s a sample square:

Craft Month Challenge Sashiko Box Cover 001

I’ve been working on this design on and off for ten years. Seriously. Ten frickin’ years. But now I’ve decided that it’s time to stitch or cut floss, as they say. Well, nobody actually says that but me, but you get the gist. I realized that if I waited to do the model stitching myself, it might be another ten years before it gets done.

Last year around this time I did some research on how to find model stitchers and I discovered a couple things: first, stitchers are among the kindest and most helpful people in the world (a special thank you to Jo Gatenby of X’s and O’s who not only responded to me personally but also took the time to give me lots of really specific tips and insider information); and second, there are basically two places to go if you are a newbie looking for reliable model stitchers. The first is the Yahoo group (I know, I know, aren’t Yahoo groups so 2003?) Model Stitchers International, which is where I “met” Jo Gatenby and other designers who gave me a lot of helpful advice. It’s pretty quiet most of the time, but I did get an almost immediate response when I posted my questions.

The second is the Facebook group, Embroidery Model Stitchers and Designers. It’s a closed group of 500+ members, but you can ask to join or ask a member to invite you. It’s very welcoming as long as you stick to the rules (like no advertising, no off-topic conversations, treat everyone with respect, compensate everyone fairly) and moderately busy. There are about 1-2 posts per week calling for model stitchers and about 1-2 updates every week from model stitchers doing work for designers in the group. Don’t worry, it won’t clog up your feed.

If you know any other resources for finding model stitchers, let me know. I’d be happy to test them out and pass along what I learn. Thanks!

So, long story short (too late!), I’ve sent out feelers to both groups and I’ve already gotten a couple nibbles! Yeah! I’ll keep you updated on the design. Wish me luck!

September Update — Finishes, Starts, and WIPs

Where does all the time go? I can’t believe it’s September already, which means I’m two months behind in my half-year update, although I suppose that’s really right on schedule since I didn’t even post my year’s goals until the beginning of April. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I’m great about meeting goals in other parts of my life. I’m really very organized. Seriously. Anyway…

Update on Knitting WIPs and Goals for 2014

So, let’s see what I’ve gotten done since April’s reckoning. The progress bars in the right-hand sidebar will let you know how far along I am with my current projects. Here’s the list of knitting projects, some finished, some still in progress:

  • Baby Bobbi Bear and assorted outfits (a belated gift for my niece’s second birthday)   update: Baby Bobbi Bear was completed on 4/5/14 and the sweaters were completed on 6/29/14. Pictures and more details are below this bulleted list.
  • Winter Lace Afghan (a belated wedding gift — are you sensing a theme here?)  update: completed 5/16/14!
  • Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf (seriously, all this needs is some kitchenering. Is that a verb?)
  • Felted Sashiko Cover (this is a little something I’m working on as a freebie pattern to accompany the sashiko-style cross stitch I’m designing for Wordsmith Designs — see below)
  • Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts (you know, because it’s so cold here in Los Angeles in springtime) update: completed 5/22/14!
  • Swedish Thora (a belated gift for my beautiful and patient Aunt Janet — there’s a point where gifts become so belated, there’s no point in rushing anymore. Sigh.)

And here’s Baby Bobbi Bear in all his glory:

And here are his fabulous sweaters:

There’s more info about all the yarns I used and the various crochet patterns on my Ravelry site (it would take too long to list them all here). The scarf is a simple 10-stitch 2 X 2 rib knitted with self-striping Adriafil Knitcol (color 46) on size 5 needles. Pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

Last April, I also stated “plans to make some Easter knits for the girls, including the Fiesta Tea Set by Annie Modesitt (knitted with Tahki Cotton Classic in yummy Fiestaware colors like lemongrass, peacock, plum, scarlet, shamrock, sunflower and tangerine).” Update: Done and done! Finished sometime in late June or early July. Here are some photos:

And here’s a picture of my niece Ella playing with her new tea set:

Ella Playing with Fiesta Tea Set
Ella Playing with Fiesta Tea Set

These were not part of my goals, but I also started a pair of the “The Wallpaper Had It Coming (Again)” mittens as part of a Sherlock-related challenge with the West Hollywood (WeHo) Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group, and the Spring Kerchief by Sachiko Uemura. I’m about halfway through the first glove, but I’ve only just cast on for the kerchief.

Needlework WIPs and Goals for 2014

As of April my current cross stitch WIPs were as follows (oldest to newest):

  • “Ewe and Eye Needlecase” by Maureen Appleton/Heart’s Content
  • “Celtic Band Samplar” by Homespun Samplar
  • “Union Jack,” an original design of the Union Jack flag which I will be “releasing” as a Wordsmith Designs freebie soon update: completed 04/06/14!

Since I’m being brutally honest, I will admit that I haven’t completed a single stitch on the Needlecase or the “Celtic Band Samplar.” They’ve been on hiatus for a few years now.

I had four other cross stitch goals for 2014:

  1. A set of four Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stockings for my brother, sister-in-law and The Two Most Adorable Nieces in the World.™ Update: I’m happy to say I’m making terrific progress with these, and will have photos soon.
  2. The Mirabilia “In a Garden” series. Update: I’ve barely started the “Summer” version. Seriously, only a few stitches completed, and it’s “due” September 21st. My stitching time lately has gone to the Christmas stockings; I’d like to have those completed by the beginning of October so they can be finished professionally before Christmas.
  3. The 2014 Smalls Stitch-Along (the handy-dandy icon is in the right-hand sidebar). Update: I completed my smalls for April, May, June, and August, and I’m still working on July. Here’s the gallery so far:

Goals for Wordsmith Designs

For Wordsmith Designs, my first three design priorities for release are (in this order):

  1.  A sashiko-based design that I don’t want to go into too much detail about right now
  2.  A Celtic alphabet design that’s already designed and stitched but still needs some “polishing”
  3.  A design called “Memento Mori” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now
  4.  A design called “A Rose is a Rose” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now

Update: I haven’t met any of my designing goals for Wordsmith Designs. I’ve done some work on the sashiko design, but it still needs a lot more work. 

Goals for Moon & Sixpence Knits

For Moon & Sixpence, I am working on three free patterns:

  • an update of my (very basic) Michael Nesmith hat pattern, one that is more historically accurate and includes the four-button variation Nesmith wore sometimes
  • a scarf and cowl with a breast cancer ribbon-style cable pattern (I’m debating whether to charge a nominal fee so the proceeds could go to breast cancer research)
  • a small cabled heart design based on a Christmas ornament that IKEA was selling a couple years ago

Update: Apparently, design-work is not my top priority, which is sad because it’s a way of generating at least some income. As I stated in April: “I would love to have the breast cancer ribbon-style scarf completed by October, which the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” That seems like a goal that could still be met. Stay tuned.

Check back on December 31st! And wish me good luck and good motivation!

 

 

April Smalls SAL Check-in: “Union Jack Freebie”

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…

In celebration of actually completing this month’s (by which I mean April’s) 2014 Smalls SAL challenge, I’m letting my inner Anglophile out to play. To be truthful, my inner Anglophile isn’t exactly usually inside the house practicing her violin and doing her math homework. She’s usually out cavorting around for everyone to see — watching BBC America, reading nineteenth-century English novels, eating lemon curd, indulging in a mild fascination with Prince Harry, driving on the left side of the road (OK, maybe not that last one).

I charted and stitched “Union Jack Freebie” (last seen as a work-in-progress here) for my fledgling — very fledgling — cross stitch design company, Wordsmith Designs, and the charted design will be up on the web site soon. However, it’s already available on this blog here as a free pattern.

Union Jack Freebie by Wordsmith Designs
Though she be but little, she is fierce!

To give you some idea of the scale of this design, the entire frame is only 6″ X 4 1/2″/15 X 11.5 cm, and the design size itself is 2.52” X 1.4”/6.4 X 3.55 cm. I stitched this Union Jack on 25-count beige Jobelan, which is my current favorite fabric for doing one-over-one designs;  the stitch definition is fantastic and it’s not too tiny (and exasperating) to work with considering my middle-aged eyes. The threads I chose were Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Midnight (blue), Schoolhouse Red (red) and Oatmeal (ecru/white), although the pattern comes with some alternative suggestions (DMC, Anchor, Crescent Colours and Weeks Dye Works).

I’ve tried to be as accurate to the real Union Jack flag as possible. The tricky parts were the diagonal red lines which do not quite line up in the original, although many reproductions “cheat” by having simple diagonal lines.

The frame is a standard 2″ X 3″/5 X 7.5 cm frame I found at (I believe) Target several years ago. The cracks at the joins don’t appear so alarming in real life as they appear in this photo. It’s funny how photographs magnify even minor flaws. I’ve noticed this phenomenon when photographing knits before; the slightest imperfection — a knot in the wrong place, a stitch that sticks out, a stray cat hair — shows up like it’s got a huge neon arrow pointed at it.

Photography issues aside, I hope you enjoy this quick and easy pattern. I’d love to see any pictures of completed projects.

Union Jack and Bobbi Bear

I’m happy to report one completed project, “Baby Bobbi Bear” by Blue Sky Alpacas, and one nearly completed project, my “Union Jack” cross stitch design. Baby Bobbi Bear started out as a gift for my niece Ella’s first birthday — she is now four (or, as she would insist, four-and-a-half). Ahem. Then BBB (as I will refer to him from now on) was intended to be a gift for her sister Lauren’s second birthday, which was in late February. Double ahem! There’s nothing like sticking to your goals!

Anyway, next it was intended to be a gift for Lauren for Easter, but I also wanted to make a couple sweaters for BBB (just in case he gets cold) so I’ll be putting off giving him to Lauren for Easter. But I’ll get it to her soon. I promise. Blue Sky Alpacas has a free pattern that looks quick and easy. I’ll also probably knit up a hat or scarf. I’ll post a picture of the finished BBB soon.

Union Jack Freebie in Progress
Union Jack Freebie in Progress

The “Union Jack” freebie sample stitching is coming along nicely, especially considering I spent what felt like an eternity fiddling with what is, after all, a very simple charted design. I added a row on the sides, took off a row on the top and bottom, added those top and bottom rows back on, added the side rows back on plus another row on either side, removed the top and bottom rows again… and so on. You get the idea. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with the proportions, which is not easy considering that the slanting red stripes don’t line up “properly” in the original (that’s just my humble American opinion). What were those Brits thinking?

I love Union Jack designs and I chose here the same kind of weathered, variegated (“tweedy”) colors that I chose for the Debbie Bliss Union Jack pillow cushion I knitted in Fall 2012 as my Ravellenics project. In this case, I am stitching over one on 25-count oatmeal Jobelan with one strand of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Midnight (blue), Weathered Barn (red) and Oatmeal (off-white). When I print out the chart for Wordsmith Designs, I will offer some alternative color suggestions for people who want to use DMC/Anchor, Crescent Colors or Weeks Dye Works, or for people who want be more accurate to the colors in the actual flag. I should be finished soon. Rule Brittania!

If anyone would like a copy of the charted design, send me a message. Thanks!

Update: The Union Jack pattern is now available on my “Free Patterns” page. Just follow the menu link at the top of the screen. I’d love to see some photos of finished stitched pieces! Hint, hint.

Well, it’s the beginning of April so it’s time to set some New Year’s goals for 2014!

[WARNING: This is quite a long post, and it’s generally all about my personal knitting/stitching goals. Alas, no Benedict Cumberbatch, nerdy knits, or penguin sweaters today.]

Boy, time sure flies when you become temporarily obsessed with the knitting on a certain TV show and then you catch the plague! I’ve been meaning for the past two-and-a-half months to write a post where I set out my knitting, stitching and crafting goals for the year, but it seems like something always got in the way. Sadly, goal-setting has never been one of my strengths, but I’m setting some goals to try to work on that in the future….

Knitting WIPs and Goals for 2014

Let’s start with what I have on the needles or in the hoop right now. The progress bars in the right-hand sidebar will let you know how far along I am with my current projects. Here’s the list of current knitting projects (in the sidebar, they are listed in order of the oldest to the newest project, but here I’m listing them in order of priority):

  • Baby Bobbi Bear and assorted outfits (a belated gift for my niece’s second birthday) update: Baby Bobbi Bear was completed on 4/5/14 and the sweaters were completed on 6/29/14
  • Winter Lace Afghan (a belated wedding gift — are you sensing a theme here?)  update: completed 5/16/14!
  • Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf (seriously, all this needs is some kitchenering. Is that a verb?)
  • Felted Sashiko Cover (this is a little something I’m working on as a freebie pattern to accompany the sashiko-style cross stitch I’m designing for Wordsmith Designs — see below)
  • Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts (you know, because it’s so cold here in Los Angeles in springtime) update: completed 5/22/14!
  • Swedish Thora (a belated gift for my beautiful and patient Aunt Janet — there’s a point where gifts become so belated, there’s no point in rushing anymore. Sigh.)

For my personal knitting goals, I will probably continue to emphasize making gifts, especially for my nieces. They are the only nieces (or nephews, for that matter) that I will ever have and they are only going to be small once. Soon, they will want to assert their own tastes (I can already see it happening) and they won’t be willing to wear whatever I make for them. As the old saying goes, you’ve got to get in while the gettin’s good. I have plans to make some Easter knits for the girls, including the Fiesta Tea Set by Annie Modesitt (all the Tahki Cotton Classic has been purchased, in yummy Fiestaware colors like lemongrass, peacock, plum, scarlet, shamrock, sunflower and tangerine). update: finished the Fiesta Tea Set in late June/early July 2014!

Needlework WIPs and Goals for 2014

My cross stitch WIPs are as follows (oldest to newest):

  • “Ewe and Eye Needlecase” by Maureen Appleton/Heart’s Content
  • “Celtic Band Samplar” by Homespun Samplar
  • “Union Jack,” an original design of the Union Jack flag which I will be “releasing” as a Wordsmith Designs freebie soon update: completed 04/06/14!

My cross stitch plans for the year have three parts. First, I plan on stitching a set of four Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stockings for my brother, sister-in-law and The Two Most Adorable Nieces in the World.™ My favorites are Peter, Christian, Harry and Robert. My sister-in-law has approved of the choices, and she especially likes Peter and Harry. Fortunately, I already had the patterns for all of them except Harry, and I also have the charms for Peter. During Silver Needle’s recent Super Bowl mega-sale, I ordered the chart and charms for Harry, and they just arrived a couple weeks ago along with some other goodies. Maybe if I start now I can get them done by Christmas (I didn’t say Christmas of this year).

Second, over the next year (a year from today, not by New Year’s 2015), I’d like to complete the Mirabilia “In a Garden” series. You can read about the first time I blogged about this here. I want to stitch each piece during the season it depicts; I’ve decided to follow the dates of the solstices and equinoxes for my due dates, so each piece will be due on the last day before the next solstice/equinox. The dates for 2014 are: March 20 (spring equinox), June 21 (summer solstice), September 23 (fall equinox), and December 21 (winter solstice). I’m going to start stitching “Summer” on June 21. I can hardly wait — I’ve picked out the hand-dyed fabric and everything! More details to come.

Third, each month I will be participating in the 2014 Smalls Stitch-Along (the handy-dandy icon is in the right-hand sidebar). I’m already behind in my stitching for this challenge, but I plan on catching up this month. The “Union Jack” project is part of this “catching up” — all told, it measures 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches. That certainly qualifies as small!

In my copious free time (the discerning reader will note a hint of sarcasm here), if I have any stitching time leftover, I would like to finish the other two projects I have going already. I’d also like to make Bent Creek’s Holly Quaker Stocking pattern for me and Drawn Thread’s “Give Thanks.” I’ve been concentrating so much on knitting lately that my needleworking has fallen to the wayside. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the habit. The little bit of work I’ve done on the “Union Jack” small is reminding me how much I enjoy the feel of a needle and thread in my hands.

Goals for Wordsmith Designs

For Wordsmith Designs, my first three design priorities for release are (in this order):

  1.  A sashiko-based design that I don’t want to go into too much detail about right now
  2.  A Celtic alphabet design that’s already designed and stitched but still needs some “polishing”
  3.  A design called “Memento Mori” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now
  4.  A design called “A Rose is a Rose” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now

I want to have the first ready to go to the model stitcher and the second ready to release by the end of next month (April 30). Getting the sashiko-based design finished also means designing and knitting the sashiko cover (mentioned above in my knitting goals). The deadline for “Memento Mori” will be two months after that (June 30), and for “A Rose is a Rose,” it will be two months after that (August 31). If I get my behind into gear, these should be very reasonable goals. I’d better not dawdle. “Mackintosh Rose” is getting lonely.

Goals for Moon & Sixpence Knits

For Moon & Sixpence, I am working on three free patterns:

  • an update of my (very basic) Michael Nesmith hat pattern, one that is more historically accurate and includes the four-button variation Nesmith wore sometimes
  • a scarf and cowl with a breast cancer ribbon-style cable pattern (I’m debating whether to charge a nominal fee so the proceeds could go to breast cancer research)
  • a small cabled heart design based on a Christmas ornament that IKEA was selling a couple years ago

Of course, the problem with free patterns (besides the obvious lack of remuneration) is that there is no real compelling reason to complete them promptly so they tend to end up in the land of “someday I’ll get around to that.” I would love to have the breast cancer ribbon-style scarf completed by October, which the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I am also working on some patterns that will be for sale: a tweedy baby jacket, some Aran-style hats, and a double-knit illusion scarf. The first two will give me a chance to dip my toes into the complicated world of sizing knits; I have some experience with this when working for and with others, but this will be the first time I go out on my own and I feel like I need to take baby steps first. Literally. Maybe I’ll find that I’m underestimating my design capabilities. That would be a very pleasant surprise.

 

Phew! Well, this should certainly keep me busy in the year to come. Let’s see how many of these goals I actually meet. I need to attach some specific due dates to these projects — you know the old saying: the difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline. Check back on December 31st! And wish me good luck and good motivation!