Monday, February 29, 2016

A month of Monday Monday

Happy monthaversary!

Technically the first one was on the 8th so you could argue that next week would be the anniversary of the posts but as it's a retrospective wrap up sort of thing I'm going to call it good.

It would probably be a good idea to do my weekly blogging on a weekend day when I've gotten more sleep but then the series would be named Sabado Sabado Sabado! and that would be really misleading as this is not a Spanish language blog.

Wow, yeah, I really *did* sleep like crap last night.

I digress.

First things first:

Someone in a cross stitch group tipped me off that Jo-Ann Fabrics is having a MASSIVE online sale on cones of DMC floss and has a cheap shipping coupon, so you better believe I snatched up a cone of 310. The entire background of my current project is columns of unrelenting 310 (black) so I've been considering this for weeks. Not sure how long that's on so jump on it while you can.

I got a message last week from my stylist Fran Nordstrom at Waves Salon (here, have a Groupon deal!) that she had a color refresher thing for me so I picked it up and tried it this weekend. It came out of the tube a bit more purple than it shows on my hair but the end result was spot on for the powdery, denimy blue I really wanted this time around.

I don't think the first pic shows the yellowing I was starting to get as well as it could, but the refresher definitely made a difference in the overall tone without changing the color or staining anything (on my bathroom or my anatomy). It was easy, fast, and pleasant as hair dye experiences go. My only complaint about it is that it has a fairly heavy lily sort of scent which I find a bit much even after a day, but I'm specifically sensitive to that sort of thing so I suspect most wouldn't have a problem.

I have no idea of the general availability of this product but I would definitely give it another go.

This was my main project start this week and so far I am enjoying the HECK out of it. My mom had some medical stuff going on this past week so I stayed overnight last Monday at my parent's house and brought this project with to keep me busy while we waited for updates (long story short: my Mom is all good so far). I had a bit of a false start (that entire top row of stars had to be redone) but once I worked out a counting snafu and got used to working over two again I was golden. Per my post from mid last week I learned a new (to me) stitch and as a result will be starting that #yearofstitch project hopefully this week.

I've stopped on that piece for the time being to focus on getting a page finish in on Shades of Red, but will be setting up to start #yearofstitch and possibly prepping fabric for the upcoming Bowie project this week as I think I've decided on my fabric. Now that I've gotten away from the relentless black stitching of the background of Shades of Red it is of course confetti city and is sloooooooow going ,no middle ground there. 

OH!!! I FINALLY GOT MY FABRIC FOR THE MOST RIDICULOUS EPIC SEVERAL YEARS LONG PROJECT I COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE!! Look at that thing! I think I have sheet sets that take up less real estate. That is a 55x55 inch square piece of 25 count Lugana from Heaven and Earth Designs and for size reference I am myself all of 62 high x *mumble* wide inches.

The end result will be the design above - Four Seasons by Jacek Yerka as charted by Heaven and Earth Designs. The design is considered a supersize piece in max colors which will be about 40 inches square and contain 234 colors. The pattern is OVER ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PAGES and at current speed a single page takes me about a month.

I don't know, I might be crazy but I just sort of fell in love with it, lifelong commitment to a single cross stitch project be damned.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Stitchin' it old school

Stitcher's Delight by Steotch - click me for the original link including a FREE PATTERN

Not quite what I mean, but seriously how amazing is that?
Pardon me while I go download that pattern and follow her Instagram...

So anyway, what I DO mean:

Back in the day when you were a wee bairn learning the home arts you would do a sampler which would teach different stitches and alphabets and often provide a reference for future work (lettering for monogramming personal items, for example).

Sampler stitched by Hanna McGinter at age 11
I have kind of a vague half recollection of doing something like that when I was very very young but when it comes down to it my embroidery repertoire has been pretty limited; a bunch of cross stitch, some simple crewel stitches, a hint of goldwork... basically I learn whatever I need to do the project in front of me.

I've been following Badasscrossstitch on Instagram for a while and apparently her recently completed  #YearofStitch project has been worming its way into my brain.

I tried Colonial Knots for the first time yesterday in my Box Of Delights project and realized that COLONIAL KNOTS RULE FRENCH KNOTS DROOL. I had to look at a couple of different tutorials to understand how to do them but once I did I was hooked. They're simple, neat, easy to tension properly, firm, and fairly symmetrical. As opposed to French knots which look like out-and-out mistakes half the time (for me anyway). I love the look of sweet little floral accents on ultra snarky cross stitch pieces a la PlasticLittleCovers but HATE French knots so I never bother.

Seriously, they're actually kind of fun, here's a good tutorial.
Heck, this makes me want to try candlewicking!

My next thought was of course "what other totally awesome and not suck stitches could I have been using all this time OMG WHO WAS RUNNING THAT STITCH A WEEK THING!?!?!?!". I'm a little sad I missed out on the unfolding week by week-ness of the original project but whatever, Imma do it anyway. I really like having these nice discreet pieces to work on in between my magnum opus H.A.E.D. pieces.

Someday I hope to do a similar sort of thing with the tutorials posted on Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread (aka the site that helped me fall in love with embroidery) or Sarah's Hand Embroidery at (source of the tutorial above) but I think my entirely self imposed embroidery workload is insane enough as it is right now.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Monday week 3 - Do All the Things!
For serious, read this blog.

Okay, so uh, what all did I do this week:

Love me, love the occasional Batman Bandage

Nail polish break went poorly so I finally re-polished Sunday. My nails were getting shorter and shorter and my cuticles longer and longer so it was high time. I am at the point where I can't file any further without removing flesh on several of my fingers because of the way my nailbeds attach underneath (that is literally as short as my pointer and middle fingers can get right now).

I used this FANTASTIC "Super Juiced" colour I recently picked up from ILNP mostly because my hair was going to stain whatever colour I used blue anyway so might as well go with it. My nails are nubby and my cuticles are a mess, but hey, at least the colour is sexypants.

Cannibalized a mood ring and a crappy old needle into a fingertip laying tool with the magic of pliers and E6000 glue and so far I'm pretty jazzed. It's butt ugly and I want to blunt the needle a bit more, but it's comfortable to wear and works like a charm. Thankfully (?) with the mind numbing amount of black background in the cross stitch project I've been focusing on this week I have had PLENTY of opportunity to practice with it .

Got into a discussion of floor stands and Qsnaps (a popular style of needlework frame) on a Facebook embroidery group Saturday and decided to try out the combination on my stand. I have an Edmunds Stitch Master Floorstand which is not the sexiest thing out there but for the price (half price with a Joannes coupon, in fact) it is pretty good for my purposes. It's a bit tippy but I have zip tied it to a box which lets me wedge it under the edge of my couch.

I used a shelved Supernatural themed Work in Progress (or WIP) to test it all out and figured while I was at it I might as well get some work done on it. All I had left was stupid annoying really effective backstitching so I had at until it was done. It's all stitched so I just need to wash and mount at this point. I think I want to try out a padded mount for this as I hate how glass looks over embroidery.

As a... break? (am I crazy? I'm starting to think I'm crazy) from cross stitching I decided to try a blackwork project so I spent much of Sunday getting the fabric prepared for that. I've decided to do the astonishingly free Box of Delights by Elizabeth Almond of Blackwork Journey ( <- link is the designer's own Pinterest page, in case anyone is worried about copyright. Her own page doesn't have such a nice spread of pics, but it is here).

I had originally tripped over her also astonishingly free Save the Stitches design first but having never done much (or really any) blackwork it is WAAAAY too rich for my blood. I like how this one is worked in perfectly reasonably sized little chunks.

It's the perfect project to use a silver 32 count linen I've been hoarding and this particularly lovely aqua I've been drawn to every time I open my floss box. I'm basing my piece more on the blue and white version but with a darker outline. The aqua will be the patterned part, the darker blue will be outline, and the coppery colour will be used in place of the metallic thread her original design calls for.
I did say this was supposed to be a break and metallic thread is not a "break".

Why yes, DIY grime guards ARE on my imminent to-do list, why do you ask?
I've got my fabric all mounted and prepped but... [EDIT]
I had a whole thing about being daunted by Holbein stitch here but then I woke up this morning to find out via Facebook that it's not designed for Holbein at all and is instead entirely worked in backstitch (woo, more backstitch!). Which tells you something about how well Elizabeth Almond supports her patterns as that wasn't even eight hours and she lives on a different continent.
This is, might I add again, a FREE PATTERN.

I'm in the process of kitting up another (considerably more detailed) David Bowie cross stitch but I have to pick a fabric and set up project cards so that'll be a little bit still.

I have some family stuff coming up this week and a major apartment layout overhaul planned so I'm not sure how much interesting stuff I'll get done in the coming weeks but fingers crossed I'll get some tinkering time.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Monday 2 Electric Boogaloo

Ch ch ch ch changes

Easily the most obvious change this week - the end of a nearly year long run of variations on silvery white undercuts. Blue is my go-to grow out colour but I've never done this silvery denim blue.

I started the silver process in April '15 (it took a few months to get to white - finally NAILED it in June) and this is easily the longest I've ever kept it up. The silver has been a lot of fun and I know I'm going to miss it, but it's expensive and hard to keep up. It may be time to change things up when you've started using Manic Panic as a Leave-In.

The undercuts, mohawks and between I've been wearing since the wedding have been a LOAD of fun but it's been a while since I did something softer and more feminine (that wasn't growing out length for my wedding hairdo) so once the lightened portions are cut out I think I'm going to go a bit longer, in front at least. I have a pretty tenacious crown swirl so I prefer to keep the back short.

Cut and color by Fran Nordstrom of Waves Salon in Sayville
(scroll down a bit and you might see a familiar face!)

I have a pretty big change in my current embroidery project as well.
I finished page two of Heaven and Earth Designs Portrait with a Spiderling and decided to change up projects so I started Mini Shades of Red in 2/1 on 22ct Navy blue fabric.

I'm about 600 stitches in as of bedtime last night and pricing out cones of DMC 310 as the ENTIRE background is solid black. The 22 count goes a lot faster so far than the 28 I'm working on Portrait but stitching 2/1 eats up thread and I find laying the stitches makes a big difference in stitch uniformity so I'm trying to consistently use a laying tool (some people like railroading but it doesnt seem to do much good on 22ct), which leads me to...

I really wish I was comfortable enough with this page to just order one The thing itself costs all of seven dollars but I cant even imagine how annoying the shipment would be.
I might actually make one of these when I get home today. There is a type of fingertip laying tool I never see on English language embroidery pages - only pages written in Cyrillic script (presumably Russian?) and I WANT ONE - that page has pics of a bunch of different home versions (and in many cases step by step pics). Here is another link of same.
I have a mass market one called a Trolley Needle but its WAY too clunky for my use.

Chopped my nails off (by necessity) and took of my nailpolish without refreshing it, so it's been interesting running around with bare nails for the first time in a few years.
My cuticles are A MESS so I may do some much needed hand care before my next polishing.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Monday

In the interest of getting back in the swing of blogging I'm going to try a weekly wrap up thinger.

Spider cocoon by NataliaDrepina
Get it? Wrap up? Get it?
A lot of times I feel like the individual stuff I'm doing doesn't really rate a full blog post but it would probably still be nice to actually mention what the heck I'm doing lately.

So lets see...

I went to a Masquerade Ball on the 30th in Salem MA and apparently I still clean up pretty good.

Here's the full outfit with a necklace swap and also a husband (mine, in case you were wondering).
I owned the leather coat (I'll look up the brand when I get home), the mask and skirt came from Amazon, the boots are from Miz Mooz. The necklace above came from my mom's jewellery stash, the other necklace I have had as costume jewellery since I was a very small child.

The skirt has a big waist bow but it didn't work with this outfit so I left it untied. It was surprisingly nice for an Amazon cheepie skirt - to the extent that I'm seriously considering the black version of the same. I FINALLY broke out our garment steamer (wedding gift) and as a person who kind of hates ironing it was everything I ever dreamed it could be.

My HS bestie and all around amazing person Christa tipped me off to this event in the first place and if you poke around the event pics you'll see she cleans up pretty damn good too. It was a lot of fun and I am totally doing it again next year.

My main crafty project this week was to finish organizing my embroidery floss which is no small task when you do Heaven and Earth Designs cross stitching as they tend to have upward of 90 colours each. I started getting the fabric set up for my next big project and finally got back to stitching on Portrait With a Spiderling.

Oh, uh, I also got a tattoo.

More on that when it has more... on that.
It's at outline stage at the moment, which IS pretty cool, but a) its really hard to take pics of your own arm and b) I don't think pics would do the final design any justice. Also it's peely right now and that's never very pretty.

For now I will say that I am working with John Lally at Masquerade Tattoo in Ridge NY and it's FREAKING AWESOME (but currently very itchy).
John also does amazing fine art and if you poke around his website a bit you might find a familiar face.