My Santas

I collect Santas – but not little statues.  Mine are cross stitch charts, the Prairie Schooler Santa series.   The link will show you this year’s Santa, and if you click on the red years available at the bottom of the page you can see previous Santas.

I believe I have them all.  The first two charts were purchased from a cross stitch shop near my home and stitched as a Christmas gift for Mother.  (I was hooked!)  The shop moved a few miles away, and there I purchased the next two years.  That shop closed its doors, and for a number of years we made a pilgrimage to Accents in Stitches in Kenner, LA (near the New Orleans Airport) for the Prairie Schooler fix.  We generally made a day of it, and I typically purchased a year’s worth of cross stitch supplies.  Finally, we have a cross stitch shop in Baton Rouge once more, and the pilgrimage is no longer an all-day outing.

DH and I mused as we flipped through the collection this morning that the early charts were $1.  One year doubled the cost to (gasp!) $2, then the price hovered at $3 for many years.  This newest one is $4.  DH, as Patron of the Arts, says he’s good for the cost.

Dear Patron has made another valuable contribution to my collection.  Each year I present him with the current chart on a 5 x 7 card.  In due time he will scan it for me (after all, he knows I have many to choose from should I be overcome with an urgent need to cross stitch Santa).  Then I’ll discover on my desk, like an early Christmas present, the original chart and the scanned copy enlarged to full-page size.  They go together in a page protector and then the collection notebook.

It’s a great life!

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Finished Object weekend

Here on the home front (not at Sock Summit) much progress was made.  In fact, I finished four projects!  There was a lot of happy dance, happy dance going on.

The first two projects were cross stitch embroideries I had stitched a week ago.  I hadn’t planned to stitch these two charts at all.  Knitters know all about this phenomenon:  you go into a yarn store for some little thing, and come out with a new project, too.  I went to the cross stitch store to pick up the frame for the Summer Garden Sampler,  and saw these two small charts.  They were by Judy Whitman, one of my favorite artists.  She delights in doing an over-all design, say an apple, that is built of many tiny pictures, including apples, A for apple, an apple basket, etc.  That was the first one that caught my eye, her French Country III Apple

This weekend, with a consult from my even-geekier-than-I DH (that’s a compliment!), I sketched out the pillow design I wanted to make.  Although it is a style that I have seen often in pictures — pillow cover with buttons on one side closing the opening — I had never made one.  I treated it like a square pillowcase, with the extension twice the width of the buttons I had chosen.  I was very pleased with the results.

The second design, Alphabet Pumpkin,  also a Judy Whitman, was from the get-go for DH.  I was thrilled to find the  pumpkin fabric for the pillow.  DH loves all things orange, even once buying an orange car.  This pumpkin’s for you, babe!

Then, flushed with success, I finished a shawl and a scarf.  When you have many projects waiting on the needles you have a jump-start on finishing.  (Well, that’s my story, and I’m going to stick with it.)  They should come off the blocking board later today, and hopefully pictures will follow tomorrow.

A Finished Object Returns Home

Yesterday I picked up the completed framing of the Summer Garden sampler.  In fact, I was so excited that I made an extra trip to Baton Rouge to retrieve it.  (You’ve heard of giving up things for Lent?  I was supposed to give up frequent trips to Baton Rouge for gas prices. Sorry, DH.)

Several of you have written that you’d like to see the framed sampler, so here it is. I fell in love with this sampler because it reminded me of my grandmother’s lovely gardens.  At the back of the yard was a white picket fence with an archway gate.  Growing against the fence were Chrysler Imperial roses – deep red with a marvelous, rich perfume.  Many years my birthday picture was taken out there, with the cake on a pedestal table beside me.

The key to the wall grouping is in that memory.  You see, the upper frame contains the handwritten recipe for my grandmother’s white cake.  She kept that a close secret during her lifetime; I received the recipe as an inheritance.  Her cakes were amazing – the cakes on Ace of Cakes always make me think of her.

What would be on your wall, were we to capture your passions of life?

A Quiet Weekend

Although Garrison Keeler always begins his monologue   “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone”, you know he’ll have much to report.  Quiet in small town America can equal good, peaceful, trouble-free.  It is far superior to the latest crime beat news from big city America.

Our quiet weekend was spent enjoying scenes like this: 

That’s mid-day siesta in the birch tree shade.  Remember those little ducklings?  My, how they’ve grown!

They are accompanied by their guardian, the “watch goose”.  Notice that all the flock except the watch goose is facing the lake.  She is prepaired to face down any foe that might aproach by land.

Since my last post I have completed my Summer Garden sampler and taken it and its frame (as shown in the link) to my framer.  This is a departure for me; I normally choose a frame stock and have the frame custom made.  The cross stitch store had assured me there would be no problem using a purchased frame.

Not so, my friends!  The dear lady who does such beautiful work said she no longer stretches cross stitch for framing if she wasn’t making the frame herself – it was just too much work.  I said “Oh, dear!  I don’t know who else I would trust with my work!”  As we talked on, and she did allow that it was a lovely frame for the sampler, she said “I don’t have much needlework in shop now, and since it is you, I’ll do it.”  Thank heavens I have used her exclusively to frame my samplers in the past.  She had once remarked that it was a pleasure to work with my samplers because I didn’t have a “rat’s nest” on the back.

Much Christmas knitting was achieved this weekend, thanks to our own, personal film festival.  DH and I decided that we would watch all the previous Harry Potter films on DVD before seeing the new release in the theater.  We have enjoyed spending the time together instead of geeking out at our computers.  Also, by catching up this way we avoided the weekend theater rush.  Come about Wednesday we should be up to date and ready for a theater night.  I won’t try to take my knitting to that one, though.  It’s too big a risk – the floors are just too sticky!

What cha doin’?

I’ve been spending a lot of time at my cross stitch frame.  As I come close to the end it calls me more and more…it’s the lure of a nearly-finished object.  The sampler I’m working on is called “Summer Garden” and it just makes me happy.  I’ve even ordered the frame shown in the link, which goes so well with our white woodwork and kitchen cabinets.

I got a call Friday that the frame had come in to the cross stitch shop, but the pattern I ordered is still on its way.  Gas is costly enough that I will drive down there once, when the pattern comes in.  Now, if I can only finish the stitching before the pattern arrives, I could go straight from the cross stitch shop to my favorite framer.  There is some urgency involved with framing, too, as I hear she will retire in August.  Arrgh!  I trust no one else to do the job.

When the urge to knit overpowers the cross stitching, I’m working on grandchildrens’ Christmas.  DD was kind enough to measure everything there was to measure on my granddaughters (that ought to confuse them).  There is nothing like measurements for a needlewoman to give a true sense of a person.  My, how those young ladies have grown!

Knitting Repurposed

Several years ago we were facing a bitterly-cold Christmas Eve.  I spent the afternoon knitting a cabled cloche to wear to midnight services.  The knitting was well executed, the hat was warm, and I looked…awful.  I  looked like a peeled onion!  Needless to say, that has has languished on the closet shelf.

Now I am gearing up to resume my other love in the world of fiber art, cross stitch embroidery.  DH has kindly ordered a Stitch Mate needlework floor stand.  It will allow me to do two-handed embroidery, and to flip the frame over to finish my work without having to unfasten the frame from the stand.  I’m ambidexterous, and I have always thought it was a real shame that I didn’t have the set-up to embroider two-handed – I should be so good at it.

But what about the knitting, you ask?  Well, I have a Dazor magnifying lamp on a floor stand.  It’s been my joy for about 20 years, and I’m still using the first bulb.  However, in our old house there was only one window/room, which I believe was the architect’s attempt to deal with our tropical heat.  I didn’t have to worry very much about direct sunlight hitting the magnifying lense and starting a fire.  Now the Dazor will be set up in our keeping room, which has four large windows, 2 south and 2 east.  I went on a dig through my bags in the closet, hoping to find something with a drawstring that would fit on the lamp.  Nothing would fit…but wait, that hat fell off the shelf as I rummaged.  Why not give it a try?  It fit, so I ran a ribbon drawstring around the edge, tied it in a bow, and said  the Meezer mantra:  I meant to do that!