February was a bit of an odd month for me for stitching. I’d been missing a lot of my weekly hangouts with the girls at the library due to the horrid bronchitis I’ve been battling since Christmas, and so my progress so far this year really had been non-existent. Thankfully I started feeling well enough to get back together with everyone by the second week of February. But as always happens, the social calendar seems to take over my normal plans. This month was an odd development – my child now has a serious social calendar. Between school parties and friends’ birthday parties and class assignments? I need an entire section of my planner now just for the kiddo. He has more of a social life than I do!
And Kindergarten is coming. Soon.
Anyway… the vast majority of my stitching this month was in the form of my yearly retreat to Stitchers Hideaway. The Winter Escape is held every year around the third week of February. When I first started going, it was only a two day retreat. Then a third day option was added, and now there’s an option to do a hard-core five day retreat. Truthfully, I don’t know if I could do that… by the end of day three, my eyes are getting pretty crossed! (and the food is wonderful, but so much heavier than I normally eat). I find that three days is just perfect. It’s enough time to ease into the mood, do some chatting, and still have time to get some great stitching done.
Anyway, my friend Christine and I went together as we do every year now. As we entered our hotel room on Tuesday night – our final night this year, we looked at each other and just said “this was a great retreat.” Tons of laughter, a great catch-up time with people we don’t see that often, fun shopping, great food, and both of us managed to get a very satisfying amount of stitching done. I’m always a little tired when I get home, but I felt refreshed and happy… the sign of a great vacation.
My original plans for the WIPocalypse Olympic Stitching challenge went a little astray. In years past, I always liked to do a rapid relay to revisit some old stalled projects. Normally I’ll do a couple hours on each to see if they’re grabbing me enough to get them into a rotation. This year between everything, I wound up really only focusing on two projects for the month, with a third thrown in for this past weekend because it’s an easy, fun stitch after spending a lot of time on intensive work at Hideaway. So it became a little bit of a Rotation Endurance thingy. I’ll take it!
Most of the first half of the month was spent doing backstitching on Floral Bellpull by Teresa Wentzler. I’m on the peony block, which is the bottom square on the chart and sample piece… but the fifth of six on my piece because I didn’t pay attention and started the wrong page (whoops). It’s coming together nicely. I had some straight-forward block definition work to do a couple flowers up that I’d forgotten along the way – the inside edge of every square’s border that faces the main flowers is backstitched. If I’d left the others unstitched, it would have been fine… but stitch one, and you need to stitch them all! I then moved on to the peony block to work on the somewhat tedious but worth it backstitching on the peony flowers. The petals and buds are now outlined, and now I just need to work the leaves for both this square and the morning glory square above it. Then I’ll finish the border stitching for this square and the final square below it before filling in the pansies. I’m really hoping to wrap this project up this year. It’s been going forever, but I know I can get this done if I keep it on a strong rotation.
I did my first day of Stitchers Hideaway on Floral Bellpull before switching to my second selected piece, Four Seasons of Mystic by Jeannette Douglas. This piece was my second class at Stitchers Hideaway back in 2011, and was shelved when Max was born due to the focus needed for all of the specialty stitches involved. Spring had me struggling a bit due to the over-one stitching. Summer less so – I did a lot of it during my trip to Florida with Dad a couple years back. Autumn was accomplished in just over a month. I just really got into the zone with this one! It felt good, too. There are a couple little errors here and there, but nothing that matters all that much. I’m just considering them my own personal touches to the piece (grin).
There’s a lot going on in this piece – tons of specialty stitches, a fun mix of wool, silk, and metallic fibers, plus beads and charms. Each band is just wide enough to make it challenging, but not overwhelming before you move on to the next one. The brick stitch (which comprises the hill under the house in the autumn block) is the one constant throughout – each column has a brick stitch somewhere. You can also see a bit of it in my summer block in this photo… it creates the ocean under the sailing ship.
This is another I know I can finish this year, so it’ll be staying in the rotation until it’s done. Of the four blocks, Winter appears the easiest to me. I’m confident this one will be done within a couple of rotation rounds – quite possibly by the end of the spring, including all of the beadwork.
Since I was at a good stopping point on Four Seasons of Mystic, I decided to pull out a long languishing UFO for my morning at the library yesterday, and decided to continue it for the remainder of the Olympics. I’ll probably crank a full 10 hour rotation on it before putting it away for this round. I hadn’t worked on Quaker Compass by Rosewood Manor for quite a while. Truthfully, I don’t recall the last time I pulled it out. I know I’ve done a little on it post-Max (my stitching now dates pre and post Max birth. It’s honestly a little pathetic in a way, but it’s the only accurate way to explain things). I am not doing this in the called-for colors. I’m using ThreadworX 1157 (“Morning Meadows”) as the main color scheme, and I’ll be filling in some of the smaller motifs and all of the letters in DMC solids based off of the ThreadworX overdye of bluish grey, soft green, and purple. The letters, for example, will be in green. I discussed this with the other women in my group yesterday, and with their advice decided that I’ll be stitching the large Quaker motifs around the edges and the center first, to ensure that I have enough of the ThreadworX to complete them all. Then I’ll start filling in some of the smaller motifs that might still benefit from the color changes. My skeins all date back to about 2012, so while I don’t know how different current dye lots are, it doesn’t hurt to be a little cautious. Plus some of those scattered motifs in between the large Quakers are so small, they really won’t benefit from the change in an overdye. The solids should help balance things a bit.
So that’s my February update. Now I need to start considering my next rotation, starting March 1st!