Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Onward to 2011!


This week, there hasn't been much stitching, instead I spent my time dyeing (5-7 separate sessions) my cut of linen for BBD Mystery. My, the "Linen Drama" we've had on this one!

My desk at the moment. I decided that I liked some of this stiff linen that I ordered by mistake a year ago. Especially once it's been given the good 'ol Tan Rit Treatment. So, I ordered more (tried to order more). It's just some stiff wichelt stuff. Not even an overdye. How hard can it be? Let me just say that this is the 3rd cut I've ordered. And, now finally, though it was just slightly different, I figured I'd be okay with it.

But I'm not.

This black stitched heart shows some from the first lot which I was trying to replicate. It's got a bit of delicious green undertone which does wonders for the fibers in this chart.

This, the product of many dyeings, does not. :( And the colors show markedly drabber on it.

This will need a big ponder. Is it too late for a light something with green bath? Khaki has green, right? Hmmn.

So, to keep my hands busy, I started making these:

They were all around blogland a couple of weeks ago, I think I saw them first at Hazel's. I wonder if I'll make a whole bunch to garland around my big tree, or less with the idea of them being for the small ornament/feather tree I'm starting to see in my mind's eye. ;)

They are really neat! (And, they don't "need" any green so they look great on the linen I dyed, lol!)

I want to get a better hook for them, though; I wonder if Clover makes one in the size of the silver hook shown. The smallest clover hook I have is a 2.5 mm, and it just a bit too big for the thread I'm using.

The other thing I've been doing to chill out is gone back to playing "Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box" for DS. (If you check out the link, I picked it for the large and clear images of its image gallery. Didn't even read the content.)

Do you like mysteries? Charming illustrations with European (France, perhaps?) sensibilities worked in a warm palette that evokes candlelight? Investigating while riding a luxury train? Making tea? Cats?

Then, you should try this game. It's the second in a series of 3 (well, that have been localized for the west.), and I buy mine from Amazon 'cause it saves me over $2 on the tax at my local rate. That's a skein of cotton overdye, you know!

I'd better jet--I've got a train to catch! ;)


• Snowstorm sank our plans to go see the billboard Marc made for ERA that's running in Times Square this month. I wonder if we'll be able to go before the new year when it's taken down. Of course it is just a 10 second animated ad, and I could see it on my computer...but I wanted to make the pilgrimage and see it.

• I wound up sustaining some emotional damage over the holidays, and I learned a couple of things as a result. Most importantly, I need to learn how to be direct in all things, yet not unkind, in my dealings with others. To put it the other way, the opposite of "passive-aggressive". This is a skill a person I know lacks, and I was hurt as a result. Incidentally, it's not really something that I can do so well either, so this is an illustration of how I can hurt others.

Being in the right on a situation is not enough; we must go further and handle it the right way. I'm going to be trying to make sure that I'm not "being nice" (thinking I'm such a saint to put up with someone who is trespassing against me) when I'm actually mad and using body language and other communication that is in conflict with what I am saying or what I really mean.

My Second Thought on this is as follows: It's possible to make an argument that we're ALL "crazy" sometimes, but wouldn't it be great if we could be known for using our craziness to bless others? I think it'd be great if the next time someone said, "Oh, Berit's just crazy like that sometimes." to shrug off my behavior they were speaking in reference to an unusually positive way I'd affected someone else. :)

• After a bit of a bump in the road, stitching continues on my first freebie! I DO hope some of you out there will be able to enjoy stitching this when I finish, but even if not I'm going to have Something Good for my autumn display next year. ;)

• 2011= The Chinese Year of the Rabbit~ Yay!

• Regarding personal stitching goals, I don't particularly have any new ones. I want to re-dedicate myself to what I've already been working towards: clearing the parts of my stash that I don't see myself using soon, getting BBD Mystery underway, and releasing that freebie!

• I've also decided to lighten my burden of guilt by marking all my unread items in Google reader as read at the new year. I got behind during my studying, and as I can't catch up, I'll go forward! :D :D :D

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Twas the Night Before (the night before) Christmas...

The Tree, as of this morning:

It's a wonky tree from a certain retailer serving its 5th year of service; we call it the "Leaning Tower of Tree-za" and swear each year to replace it. I picked the star, but it's fitting as it's a "Capiz Star" and very evocative of the Philippines, so it "represents" Marc. :) Usually I stuff a few of the lights in it so it'll glow.

Love this strawberry! (Thanks, Patty!) There may not be enough lights (mine are "frosted white" and "metallic gold", but they still look pretty here.

I get these strands of bells from Walgreens, but I don't know that they had them this year. They look great (esp. the "embossed" ones) even though they are plastic! The berry/leaf/bell item in the center was the decoration on a Christmas cake from Mitsuwa.

My favorite section of the tree. <3

One of my two wishes (or would it be four?) this Christmas. I hope you all have these 3 wonderful virtues this season, my friends and readers! (Thanks again, Andrea!)

These wrapped-twine balls came from ikea last year-the black really adds something--yes, black at Christmas!

Squint through the wintry gloom to see my bear and grazing sheep! Previously, I had the wonderful hornbook Becky sent me wedged into the tree, but I love it here more! :D We haven't done presents under the tree since we moved here (we don't really do presents at Christmas, umn, well, 'cause we're young and poor. What's that? 28 isn't young? Well, the tree does look barren with nothing underneath, so I decided it would make great display space.) I've grown to like my quick-fix for a tree skirt: a holey ol' hand-me-down hunter green vellux blanket from Marc's mom. If you scrunch it around the base it makes a great hillock for the sheep. :D Don't dwell too long on the scale problems here--sheep are 8x the size of the salt-shaker Ginger Cottage and Teddy is 3x a sheep! ;)

I finished the stitching for Santa & Friends: Foxes by Prairie Schooler. :D

I've been agonizing for DAYS over how to finish it; particularly the backing fabric. I WANTED to use the Christmas Doors on a Black Ground that you see here. Finally I thought of what else I should use, and remembered that I want to stitch some of these, and that the black Door fabric is perfect for them. :)

I feel so relieved to know what to do, and will work on it at leisure. In the meantime, I might just wedge the linen, unfinished edge and all, into the tree (Hi, Myra! *waves*)

Finally, here's my not-quite finished Christmas gift to myself! :D I stitched this in DMC 115 over 3 days of not-hard-work. I'm so happy with it, and after I finalize the framing (ironing, padding, lacing) I'll put it somewhere in my kitchen. :)

I've always loved Christmas Eve; maybe it's some remnant of being Norwegian/German, but our family always did the "Big Thing" on Christmas Eve. So much so that I forget/scratch my head about bloggers who are scratching their heads over Christmas Dinner prep. Why, I'd be too busy playing with my new toys (or sleeping off Christmas Eve goodies) to make a Christmas Dinner!

A Very Merry Christmas Eve, And a Happy Festivus, too!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmastime is Here~

This is what happens when I skip a week, lol! I still haven't read/responded to a goodly number of last entry's comments. So, Next Time will announce the "winners"/pertain to that blog. Today is to be a Christmas Round-up, including even some unposted 2009 stuffs.

I do want to say that I've been overwhelmed but the positive response to the mention I made of the freebie I'm working on. You guys are THE BEST! Work continues and I'm almost ready for "the fill" (Yes, the model has one but it is going to be So Worth It. :D). I really hope that if you decide to stitch it you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

Now, Christmas!

Key points: Santa Arrives Tonight looks WAY better against the green of the tree than otherwise. The other two are great ornaments from Patty C. as part of an awesome giveaway I won this summer! Don't they look beautiful?

I stitched these Mill Hill Holiday Harmony Kits in 2009. Blu is now the new owner of their charts, and mentioned a plan to make a cube on her blog--I think that'd be fabulous! :o

My favorite. <3

...though this one's probably got the strongest graphic impact. :)

I've been so amazed, touched, and happy to received gifts from so many blogging friends. They all just kept piling up while I was waiting to blog about them--each is so fabulous that it deserves its own post, but I know (from those Mill Hills) that if I don't do it yearbook-style it will suffer even more delay!

First was the amazing Christmas Goodie box from Dear Edgar! The candies are long-gone (I don't even like cherry cordials, but his were amazing! :o), but I am treasuring the prospect of that delicious jar of California Sunshine--his famed peach preserves. Little did I imagine when he blogged that he was putting up extra this summer for gifts that I'd be able to enjoy one this winter! :D I LOVE peach foodstuffs, and often have unsweetened canned peaches in my plain yoghurt-with-cinnamon-and-flaxseed oil breakfasts.

Next came the Faith-Hope-Love ornament (deservedly popular this year) from Andrea--Yup, I was lucky enough to win her giveaway! (Each year she prepares--in secret--throughout the year, and then has a draw! As they arrive with the new owners she reveals them on her blog! I loved following them on her blog last year, and this year I won one. :)

Her finishing is just as faultless as it appears on her blog. I can't believe her corners! :o And the pillow isn't lumpy in the slightest! :o I wonder if it's layers of batting? :/ At any rate, I love this DMC 115 ornament, and find the saying so comforting!

Then, came a no-return envelope, and when I opened it imagine my surprise to see this
gorgeous hornbook from Becky SC! Thank you, my friend! It is beautiful and wonderful in every way--I'd been wanting this design stitched for my home, and now here it is ready-to display! I just love that gingham ribbon. :)

Finally, Yesterday evening came this wonderful pouch from Myra--It's so small, elegant, and perfect! I love the sampler fabric. :o Myra's sewing is perfection--I feel totally spoiled to have a set of them in 3 sizes! :o

I really don't feel I can express my gratitude in words, so I'll have to content myself with: Thank you, Friends! You have truly made my Christmas with you kind gifts and warm wishes.


Elegant "Blackened Copper" finish of the key charm. I love copper. And keys. And samplers. And Cream.

The back of Andrea's ornament. This is my first piece with one of those charms on it. :)

That Freebie's fill isn't the only thing keeping me from finishing it: I started my (second attempt; first had a mu-mu marc didn't like) 2010 "family" ornament. I found this scrap of R&R 36 count at the local shop, and decided to convert this PS to NPI silks--maybe because the Ink Spot linen seemed to Demand It. (R&R seems like luxury to me 'cause I never see it. I've still never seen a piece of Lakeside IRL.) For the snow, I'd planned to use Belle Soie Icing (IMHO the most perfect snow fiber ever), but it was blinding on this linen! Xo So, the change was made to Oatmeal Scone. If you're like me, and hate stitching with white fibers, I recommend a Belle Soie.

It Has A Fox. (and is almost solidly stitched.) I'm alternating Greenery and Snow to get through it. And wondering if I shouldn't have stuck with DMC.

And I hear the Bunny one calling my name. It has a sweet rabbit helping Santa decorate a tree. (Marc calls me his Bunny, which is a really sweet and flattering diminutive as I think he's calling me sweet and cuddly whereas I'm actually rather prickly-sharp with more than my share of predatory--not carrot nibbling or rabbit-lace making--teeth which I would truly love to sharpen on you.) Well, maybe DMC for this one. I need the green fronds to show better against the black.

Oh, well; "When the stitching's dim--call it 'Prim'!" :)

Wishing You Happy Holiday Stitches,

Bonus Round (Berit Likes to Talk):

The Tree
• My favorite part of Christmas Hands-down.

• I'd be giddy beyond measure if we had (as planned) a new pre-lit tree with branches that don't have to be individually attached and fluffed and ends like barbed wire.

• I'd be Very Happy if I'd procured a "lazy susan" for the tree to ease lighting and garlanding. I think they make such things. Do they?

• I'd be enjoying the Soft Glow Joy that is Contentment-With-One's-Circumstances if I could find a strand of Warm white (Not LED: I can see them "vibrating" and they cast a dead blue light the color of a searchlight on the prison-yard) frosted lights to replace the one that died between this year and last.

• "Well Ain't that a/n ____": My lights are several years old, but the strand that died was new last year.

• The lights are metallic gold (1 strand) and frosted white (2 strands) for a ratio of lights that is 2 parts white, 1 part gold. I like white over colored lights, but they are can be dull alone. (Plain lights + extravagant ornaments = Balance). I re-strung the tree, but the over all effect is running to yellow, and I'm not getting over it.

• "They" stopped selling these lights (the soft pearlized and frosted types) this year. Why now? They're "Just lights". $7 a strand. From all the usual suspects: Target, WM, etc.

• Must somehow get over it so I can Enjoy the Tree. :)

The Exam (for those who have expressed interest. Otherwise... :):

• Went pretty horribly.

• Was all in Japanese. Yes, it was a Japanese exam, but there was no "J-to-E" or "E-to-J".

• Was mostly Trick Questions. I've never liked a trick question. I think they're unwholesome.*derisive sniff* And the reason that such a thing as "I-just-don't-test-well" exists. The only possible defense of their use is that they eliminate the too-easy leading question. But they emply the device of leading you to the wrong answer to accomplish that effect. For the record, I've always tested Very Well.

• It's a 5-Level Japanese exam. I took the easiest level. Most of the "Vocab" section was comprised of a short conversation between two people with one word a blank. The examinee had to choose from a selection of 4 words to fill the blank. My problem was that the blanks were all particles. I'd understand the WHOLE conversation, and be able to make a reply in Japanese or answer questions in english about what was going on, but my particles (they're a little like English's article adjectives--a, an, the--, or "Genders") are weak. Weak enough to make a native speaker smile behind his hand, but I can be understood nonetheless.

Particles are "Grammar", not "Vocabulary."

I don't think the lowest-level of fluency person in a 5-level cert. should be expected to have the level of mastery they tested for.

• I enjoyed the listening section. It wasn't the nightmare I'd been warned of; probably b/c it was revamped to CD. (Rather than an Aging-each-sitting cassette tape).

• I'll know in March, but I'd say "I'd have to raise my score to fail". In school, if one scores a 60%, that's a failure, but really it's a majority. You can win an election with numbers like that, lol! I estimate a 25% would be optimistic.

• Conclusion: The material that I studied did worlds to bolster my reading comprehension (which is my personal goal), if little for my abilities on the exam. So, hence I'm going to enjoy studying in my own reading-comp oriented fashion!

I know I had some Upbeat Yakking Material in my head:

• Yay--My linen for BBD Mystery Sampler finally arrived (second order as there was a problem with the first.) Oh, the perils of sight-unseen linen!

Now to serge and dye! :) These are good times, folks! Thanks to Christina for her continued loan of 3/4 charts for this project!

Also in the order:

• Mary Arden 28 Petites--best needle. Bohin is great, but no petite, which I must have. :) John James gold are too sticky or grabby in the linen.

• The extra "black" I need for Jenny Bean Halloween chart and remainder-kit that I won from Robin. :D

• JBW French Country Apple chart. :3 Which will look great in my kitchen along with Good Morning Rooster. If I actually framed and hung it! :D

Happy Stitches and Holidays, Extended Readers. Winners of giveaway next time. :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Fox and Stash-clearing!~

I've been stitching on WiPs and also started stitching the model for my first Original Design, which will be a freebie when I get it finished! I am SO enjoying watching it take shape.

Now, the progress pics!

Decided to change the "B" on this one, but don't quite like it. I'm thinking of making it a darker color. Or should I just put my signature initial "B" and be done with it?

And "November Windows" by Prairie Schooler (actually just "November"'s companion chart.

I'm already almost out of the darkest color's skein for this one!

The Fox!

Tom needs a body--perhaps someone ate it! (actually the color I subbed--thinking it was only for the words--is way too dark so a plan B is in order.)

Here's my finish of HE's Stitching Necessaire; I've had this one for a while, but still need to find the perfect finishing fabric. I know I need at least some felt for the pincushion, but I just don't have a source. I really wish I could see some samples in person.

I made a few changes to this; I put a bunny and key at the left where the original had an elk/reindeer. And my initial at the side where the quirky bird (who I actually liked) had been. This was because I killed the initial at the top so I could wedge in the fleur-de-lis. I've been trying to use that thing in something forever now! My first attempt was to put it in Good Morning Rooster, but I think it would have been top-heavy there. I may do it yet!

The Short List:

• Language exam on Sunday in the Bronx (Never been there). So didn't study for it (though I DID learn about 120 kanji), so I'm going to sit it with a "go and see" attitude. Less than thrilled, but the only other option is staying home and pouting.

• Christmas Spirit is Hit-or-Miss. Finally put up the tree last night, but one strand of lights was a dud so couldn't hang the ornaments. (but I hung up my HE one and the two that Patty C. sent me this year for her giveaway. The look great, but before retiring for the evening was suddenly plagued with the perception that the tree itself was clutter. This may be because it isn't finished (the plastic feet are showing and it's not tucked against the wall.)

• Have been enjoying wonderful apricot tea that Edgar sent me as a birthday present! Thank you, my friend--made my day!

• I've taken up washing my hair daily (as I did for about the first 23 years of my life) and left off after following guru advice after encountering altered condition due to migrating into to Jersey's hard water. (I began doing something between every other day and 2x per week). So far, I'm thrilled with it, and feel like the weight of being Pigpen of Peanuts fame has lifted from my shoulders. My hair is thick on the head but fine of strand, will curl if left wet, and of a carmel colour with red and blonde highlights. My brows are blond. SO not only was having more oil on my scalp uncomfortable, but it was dingeing-out my color! I'd been living with a "dishwater brown" for about 5 years! ugh! Hair still falling out, though perhaps less severely? I've been using Lush's Cinnamon oil solid shampoo bar, which is good, though you need a nice conditioner. I'm using a lavender one from Paul Mitchel. Usually, I use Goldwell or Shieseido.

• Have been pondering for a while now how much I would love-LOVE-Love to make up a nice personal care/spa deluxe gift set and raffle it away on my blog; especially during the "stress" of the Season. I do know SO many neat and nifty objects and products (both pricey and cheap) that I'd love to share! Unfortunately, I'd need about $200-300 to really "do it up right", when a tenth of that already isn't possible! :P

Please take care and spoil yourselves with a little extra personal care this season; Relax, Enjoy, and Stitch with more joy for the rest of the year!



Okay, now for Round 2 of the Blessings Basket!

The Particulars Recap:

• If you want any/all of these giveaway items, just mention the one(s) you'd like in the comments section.
• If more than one person wants a particular item, a Randomizer will pick the New Home. :)
• If no one wants to adopt it, the item will go into the goodwill box. This just a chance let my readers rummage through my donations box first.
• I can't get too caught up in running this thing like a pro as I'm studying for this exam, so the listing will end when I decide to post the next thing(s); I'll announce the winner right before the new listing!
• Don't expect a super-speedy delivery; Saturdays are probably the only day I can journey to the post.
• All are welcome to "win"--be ye Lurker or Bosom Friend--you could get "all" the items or just one, and no limit on future "wins".

• Happy Hunting!

Items 1 & 2: "Gentleman Quaker" by Jardin Prive AND/OR "Santa Arrives Tonight" by HE

GQ is new, and SAT is gently used. Looking for good homes; would you like to stitch one of these?

Item 3: Antique Book (Prop)

Not sure we'll have any takers for this one. It's Green Dolpin Street by Elizabeth Goudge. Selling Point 1: Nice ('n worn) gilt embossed spine title.

Cover has a spot or two.

This novel is by the same woman who wrote the children's book The Little White Horse, which is an all-time fave of mine. I forgot that I'd read this elsewhere in my teens, and requested it from Bookmooch last year. It's perfectly readable, for all that I wouldn't recommend it.

I should advise that I would not recommend it the same way I don't recommend Great Expectations (or any other Dickens work for that matter), Wuthering Heights, or Ethan Fromme. :) It's not a "The Great (Insert-Country-Name-Here) Novel" that the aforementioned are, but you get the picture. DO read The Little White Horse (You'll just have to ignore the insipid, forgettable unicorn--yes, unicorn--inspired title.)

Selling Point: This book IS circa 1944, which makes it an antique; furthermore it contains a charming wartime "ration" note.

Item 3: 5 Bookmooch Points (aka 5 used books of your choice)

Speaking of Bookmooch, I'll share some of my mouldering points if anyone already is a member of BM or wants to try it.

About Bookmooch: Key points would be the overview and how points work.

So, if you "win" this prize, you must be or become a member of BM, but instead of listing or giving books, I'll then "smooch" you 5 points, which is enough to request 5 books of your choice!

This is honestly a great and fun service; I hope someone'll take me up on this and try it out! My profile is here.