Friday, October 29, 2010

Stitcher's Hideaway

After spending Sunday exploring the needlework exhibit at the museum, Monday started our two day stitchathon. After a very late night hanging out with my new friends, I was up early Monday morning to start our class.
Our teacher for the two day retreat was Belinda Karls Nace of Blue Ribbon Designs. I had a few of her designs at home and was very excited to actually be a taught a "class" by a designer. Not to mention the excitement of getting to spend time with a group of other ladies that share my same interests in cross stitch. I could talk about linen counts,fibers, and designers without getting that deer in the headlights look I usually get from Matt and my friends. For our class, Belinda designed a special sampler alone with matching ornaments! All charts and instructions were wonderfully packaged in a lovely white, shiny binder. Oh, I loved her already! Our class materials also came packaged as a kit including fabric, all the threads we would need to stitch not only the sampler but the ornaments, finishing materials for the ornaments, and beads! It was fantastic to just be handed these awesome goodies! Not to mention, upon our arrival, all attendees received a goody bag full of patterns and accessories donated by other designers and Sue who organized the retreat.

Class Sampler

We were off and running after introducing ourselves and receiving our kits and binders for the class. Since we wouldn't all have time to stitch and complete our samplers in the two days the class ran, Belinda actually designed a special ornament to teach us all the specialty stitches that are in the sampler. Some of them were a bit difficult, but Belinda provided excellent illustrations in our binders and was more than happy to work with us one on one until we got the hang of it. Belinda had also brought models of her designs and had patterns available to buy from her. A few patterns I already had, but of course, couldn't resist buying a couple more. There was also a mini needlework shop set up in the one of the hotel rooms by Chris' Collection. So, during breaks, we could wander in and take a look around and spend some dough. I picked up a few things by the end of the two days, but reined myself in quite a bit.

After dinner, we all got a surprise visit from Santa!

Santa had his naughty and nice list and gave each of use little treat bags with some yummy candy inside!

By the end of class that day I was about halfway done the front of my ornament when I realized I hadn't made my backstitched outline quite big enough so I wouldn't be able to fit all of the design inside it. I spent the evening in the my hotel room relaxing to "Intervention" and "Hoarders" while I ripped and restitched the outline then finished stitching the front.

Tuesday morning we stitched a bit more, I started working on the back of my ornament. Belinda was letting us go willy nilly on the back so I decided to personalize it by stitching my initials. Then decided since I had room to add the dove from the sampler and some stars to perk it up a bit. Belinda then used class to teach all of us how to make twisted cord to use as the hanger for our ornament and then how to assemble and finish it.

My friend Lisa and her mom, Kathy

Belinda of Blue Ribbon Designs, Teaching Twisted Cord

By the end of class I had successfully finished my ornament! We even had some time to spare before dinner, so Lisa and I decided to go through town to the local bead shop You've Got To Be Beading. That place was fantastic! I'm not really a beady type person, but there were just a few things I could not pass up. I picked up a couple silver charms and a few bead packs in my favorite colors.

Front of ornament

Back of ornament

Tuesday night after dinner, those who had made ornaments and brought them to the retreat were able to participate in an ornament exchange. I made the Blue Ribbon Designs ornament from this years JCS ornament issue. All the ornaments were wrapped and I drew number one so I was the first to pick! I picked a love ornament that was also a Blue Ribbon Design and was finished with a really pretty paisley fabric on the back, with a sassy little tassle!

I picked the top left ornament (prettyyyy) and I made the one on the far right second row

All in all, Stitcher's Hideaway was fantastic and I am definitely looking forward to a time when I can go again! Sue and Belinda were so nice and fun to spend time with, I would recommend the retreat to anyone. The best part about the two days of class was how flexible everyone was, Belinda in particular. If you couldn't do a particular stitch on the class piece or you just simply didn't like it, you could just do whatever you wanted. It was so much fun, I left Wednesday morning wishing I didn't have to leave!

A view of Mystic Seaport

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The road trip.

Hello all! I'm back from my trip and loads to tell! Well, I actually got home Wednesday, but I have a life and was trying to get back to it the last two days. Please note that this post and probably the next are going to be very picture heavy, but you definitely don't want to miss them.

Saturday I left home around 6 in the morn and began making my way up north to see my friend, Lisa, who lives in Rhode Island. I arrived after about 7 hours of driving. Honestly, the driving wasn't that bad, traffice was pretty light. The worst was the last stretch when I got on I-95 and drove through Connecticut....very boring. After arriving at Lisa's, I sat on her couch and never got up, and we watched True Blood. Good night.

Sunday morning we got up and headed to the northern end of the state to meet up with Lisa's stitching group at Panera Bread. It was loads of fun to spend a couple hours stitching with a group of people, which is something I've never gotten to do before since I don't know anyone around home that has the same interest. After hanging out for a bit, we headed out to pick up Lisa's mom and then make our way to Connecticut.

Our first stop: The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. The museum currently has an exhibit of antique needlework.

All of the needlework in the exhibit was done by girls that attended schools that taught embroidery in the late 17 and 1800's. It was very cool to see all of these intricate pieces stitched by 8, 9, 11 year old girls. The piece pictured above is all stitching except for the faces which were painted, as is the sky background.

The girl that stitched this piece was 11! amazing! Oh, and the exhibit said no photos, but Lisa and I were total rebels and bucked the system. Hey, I turned off my flash!

See the date in the lower right corner....1774!....age 12!


This was one of my favorite pieces. Although the piece is clearly unfinished, it shows how the girls worked on their needlework. The picture being stitched was sketched on the silk fabric. Button holes were punched in the sides and then the fabric was tied to the frame using a ribbon. In person you can see on the lower right hand where the sketch marks were to guide the stitching.

The museum was also having some outdoor exhibits. There was an exhibit called "the rambles" tha was made of twigs and branches. It's left outside for about a year before it starts to disintegrate and then they tear the rest of it down. It was very neat, it had windows and there were kids running through it!

So our first day in Connecticut was alot of fun! After spending some time at the museum we headed to the hotel and then had dinner at Mystic Pizza!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mind Blown

So there is some excitement comin' up in the next couple weeks, but I will get to that later.

First, I must discuss my new techno gadget. It all started in the last few months. Matt and I have been talkin about getting new cell phones. He has had his for alil over two years, me almost two years. Lately, his phone has become a bit possessed. By what, we don't know. But, the screen would randomly light up and go off, shut itself off when he was in the middle of talking or texting to someone. So, we decided it would be best by now to get new phones. We prefer to buy all our phones online because the deals tend to be better and we can avoid long lines or pushy salespeople.

We decided to go with this :

This is the Samsung Fascinate, and it's about the coolest thing since Derek chose Meredith. Seriously, I like to think of myself as pretty techno savvy. I got my ipod touch and it's pretty rockin', but this phone is AH-mazing. If you ever find yourself in a store that sells these things, you. must. play. with. it. Even more fantastic was the deal we got online. Buy one, get one free! On both phones we ended up saving about $400 smackers! Yes, we have to pay the fees for the additional data plan for both lines, and I was totally against that which is why it took us so long to decide to get new phones in the first place. But, after having this phone for only two days, Matt and I decided it's well worth the access we now have anywhere, anytime. And the camera on this thing, it's good.

On the needlework front, I haven't actually been stitching much. I was getting kind of worn down getting project after project finished and moving onto something new. For my next project, I decided to go with a completely different method and am currently knitting a pair of socks.

I am about 80% done, which, considering I've only ever made one other pair of socks (last year) is pretty amazing for me. I started them about three weeks ago, last week I didn't really work on them at all or I would probably have them done by now. I have really enjoyed making them and the best part is knowing when I am done, I get to wear them! The socks I made last year, I learned how to make from a book called "2 at a time socks". It's a method that uses a really long circular needle so you can knit both socks at the same time. I really liked that method because I tried the making sock one at a time thing, and I only made one sock and got sick of it. Back in April, the author of that book came out with "toe up 2 at a time socks".

Where the previous book gave direction for making socks from the cuff down, this book teaches you how to make them from the toe up. I quite prefer the second method. The toe is easier to create and I found the heel to be less complicated compared to knitting cuff down. This will definitely be my preferred method from now on.

In a couple weeks I will be taking my first road trip all by myself driving up to Rhode Island and then to Connecticut for my first ever stitching retreat. It's going to be alot of firsts for me. First solo road trip, first stitching retreat, first time meeting some new friends, and the first time since we've been together that Matt and I will spend more than one or two nights apart.

It's going to be an interesting and hopefully exciting trip! Between you and me, I'm just hoping I don't have a big mess to clean up when I get home from this party that Matt keeps talking about ;)