I love it all: embroidery, canvaswork, quilting, crochet. So much to do, so little time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Sparrows in a Birdbath

Good Afternoon Dear Blog Readers,

Have any of you been watching the Decorah eagles?  I'm sure some of you have.  For those who don't know what I'm talking about, there is an eagle's nest in northeast Iowa that has a camera photographing the comings and goings of an eagle family, 24/7.  There is a dad, mom and three eaglets, and it's my new favorite "reality" program.  If you haven't seen it yet, you should really go check it out here.  It's very addicting and educational, too.

Brenda Gervais of With Thy Needle and Thread has designed a cool sampler to commemorate this year's eagle family.  The piece is called "Soar," and she is having a SAL on her blog for those currently stitching it.

Here is what I've done so far, and yes, to me it looks like 3 sparrows in a birdbath (for now).  The "sparrows" are, of course, the eaglets.  And I used the recommended linen, 30-ct Onyx from WDW.  An Ott-lite, magnifier, and white lap cloth are indispensible tools for this project.  And it's still hard to see the holes!  But I really liked the black, so I thought "What the heck!"

Here is what the sampler will look like when it's finished.  Brenda is donating $5 from the sale of each chart to the Raptor Resource Project, the organization behind the nest cam.  She has raised over $1,000 so far.  She has said that she will retire the chart when the eaglets fledge (around July 4th, how fitting!), so if you like the chart, hurry on over to her blog right here.

That's it for today, folks.  Hope you are able to soar along in whatever you're doing right now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Big, Fat Stack of Photos

Good Evening Dear Blog Readers,

Nowadays, almost everyone uses some sort of digital camera when they want to take a photo, but the older a person is, the more likely it will be that they'll have a large amount of analog photos lying around.  Several months ago, I decided that I needed to digitize all my analog photos.  Don't ask why, the urge just came over me.  I have this little printer/scanner jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none machine, so I started scanning about 50-100 photos at a time.  It was very labor intensive.

This was scanned on my little machine.  It's not so noticeable here, but you can see little white spots (dust? - yes, I clean the glass on the scanner) and small scratches on most of the images.  Back in the day when this was stitched (early 90's), I was very bad about recording the name or designer of any of the pieces that I made, and I don't have the chart for this anymore, either.  My most vivid memory of the stitching is that the leaves in the tree were a b**** to stitch because the chart called for about 20 shades of green.  I would have benefited from variegated floss!  The bushes and flowers were no picnic either.  Just keeping it real.

Enter:  Groupon!  For those who haven't heard of it, it's an on-line discount service.  You sign up for free, and they email you the Deal of the Day.  So, about a week ago, one of the deals was an photo scanning service.  A thousand photos for 29 bucks!  I couldn't resist.  The scans were described as being 300dpi, and my little scanner only does 200 dpi.  I got the deal, then went to the scanning service website.  They had detailed instructions about how to pack your photos and send them to their facility in California.  They also had many additional services, such as extra DVD's, an index sheet with thumbnails of your photos, etc. that cost extra.  All I wanted to spend was $29.  I read their instructions carefully.  The $29 only applied to the first 1,000 photos.  If you miscounted and sent them 1,400 (their example), they would charge you for an additional 1,000 at the regular rate ($79).  I understood this to mean that if you miscounted and sent them 1,001 photos, the same thing would happen.  Forewarned is forearmed, as my mother used to say, so I found a small handful of photos that I thought were expendable and removed them from my count of exactly 1,000.  I was a little nervous about sending the photos off, because I didn't have the negatives for most of them.

There they are, all packed up and ready to go.  I mailed them last Saturday and got the photos and DVD back today!  I took the DVD out of the package, and the photo count was written on it:  987.  (I'll bet you thought I messed up, didn't you?)

So, how did the scanning turn out?  Here are a couple of samples.

This is not really the best example, but the subject is needlework, so I felt compelled to use it.  It's behind glass so there's a reflection in the original photo, too.  (I haven't seen any white specks either, and I've looked at all 987.)   Another vintage piece by an unknown designer.  My bad.

And now for something completely different.   If the color on the original photo is decent, the scanned photo turned out pretty well.  (The above photo has not been color corrected.)  You will notice, however, that the scan is a little crooked.  That was noticeable in about 2 dozen of the photos.  None of them were much worse than this.   I started color correcting in Photoshop, and found that almost all of the photos will benefit from color correction, but that's probably true of most scans, and the older the photo, the more color correction it will need.  So you know what I'll be doing for the next few days.  In addition to stitching.  All in all, I'm quite satisfied with the photos and happy that I got such a deal.  I may even send them more photos.  I'm sure I have another thousand.

For those of you who, like me, are getting a little bored with my blackwork piece, stop reading!  (just kidding)

The middle square is almost done!  The design does repeat, but you have to stitch a fair amount before it does.  I intend to finish this square, then give this project a little break.  I figured I'd be much more likely to want to pick it up again if this section was done.

Gosh, it's so close to being finished, why not forge ahead and just do it?  Well, for one thing, once the stitching is finished, there's a bunch of beads to attach!  Plus, I stumbled across a great design on-line a few days ago, I ordered it and a piece of linen, and am really anxious to start it.  (I'm incorrigible.)  Hopefully, I'll have enough to show you in a couple of days.  Won't say any more than that now, because I really need to finish that middle square!

Hope all of you are having fun doing what you're doing, and finding good deals.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Neighborhood Tour

Good Afternoon Dear Blog Readers,

I love Chicago.  It's my favorite city in the entire planet.  (It's a good thing I live closeby, huh?)  Yesterday, DH and I went on a Neighborhood Tour of Bridgeport and Back of the Yards.  For those not familiar with Chicago neighborhoods, Back of the Yards refers to the area directly adjacent to the now-gone Union Stockyards.

All that's left of the stockyards is this original gate--it closed in 1971.  Today the land on which the stockyards once stood contains an industrial park which employs about 10,000 people.  The sculpture that you see beyond the gate is The Fallen 21.

On December 22, 1910, 21 firemen lost their lives fighting a fire in the stockyards.  Their names are inscribed on this side of the sculpture.  On the other sides are the names of all Chicago firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Bridgeport is probably most famous as being the home of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.  His son, soon-to-be-ex-Mayor Richard M. Daley, grew up in Bridgeport but no longer lives there.  There were actually 3 other Chicago Mayors, in addition to the Daleys, who hailed from Bridgeport:  Kelly, Kennelly and Bilandic.

One of our stops was at St. Barbara, a Polish Catholic church.  The church building is 100 years old and is octagonal, which is very unusual for a church.

Although you can't see it from these photos, much of the interior paint is peeling.  The cost to repaint the church will be between $400 and $500 thousand dollars.  There are only about 600 parishoners on the books, and roughly a third of them show up on a regular basis.

We stopped at Benton House which started as a day nursery in the early 20th century and soon became part of the settlement house movement.  Today it provides many social services for members of the Bridgeport community.  These paintings, which line the wall of one of the main rooms on the first floor, are estimated to be about 60 years old.  That is not old at all, is it?  (Shake your head from side to side in agreement.)

Historically, Bridgeport was predominantly Irish and blue-collar, but now it is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city.  There has been a sizable influx of Chinese Americans, who are expanding out from Chinatown, also nearby.  An unscheduled stop was the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, formerly a Polish Presbyterian church and now a Buddhist Temple.

The main chamber houses the statues of many buddhas and bodhisattvas.  There were many colorful tapestries which were embroidered with gold.  (Not hand embroidered--I asked.)

There is even new housing for the Yuppies (does anyone even use that term anymore?).  You can purchase a one-bedroom loft starting in the mid-200's.  And Bridgeport is close to the Loop for commuters!

Here is art you will hopefully not have a compelling reason to see:  this 3-dimensional wall hanging is on the wall of the police station in the 9th District.  The 3-digit numbers are beat numbers.  This was another unscheduled stop for those of us who were interested.  (Our guide was rather zany.)

Last but not least, although we didn't stop here (it's technically not in Bridgeport), I just had to take this snap from the bus window.

"The Cell"
Chicago is one of only 3 cities to have 2 major league baseball teams.
Unfortunately, our other team hasn't done much in the past 100 years.
GO SOX!!!!!

There are many different Chicago neighborhood tours being offered from now until November.  If I have piqued anyone's interest, you can find out all about them here.

I have been stitching, too, and am turtling along on my blackwork piece.

I'm always nervous about putting a close up of my stitching here on the blog.  In addition to being crooked most of the time, you can see every little weird thing that may or may not be wrong with the piece.  Notice how the black squares set on point are attached to the square eyelets (for lack of a better term) on all sides except for the east?  It's shown that way in the chart (consistently), but it's making me a little goofy.  OK, a little more goofy.  I haven't decided if I want to attach that square on the east, or just go with the flow.

Talk about a zany design!  I think I saw something like this in a drawing of an atom in a class I took in school.  Was it the electron?  (I wasn't very good in the sciences.)

That's it for this installment.  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Good Evening Gentle Blog Readers,

I have made a little bit of progress on the Greenpiece blackwork project.

You just can't appreciate the filling stitches unless you get up close and personal.

This filling stitch is predominantly dark green!
The only black used is for the small squares set on point.
It's hard to differentiate the colors even with the naked eye in daylight.

I'm glad I'm using DMC 503 to give the piece a little pop of color.

The directions don't really say to do this, but I thought I would backstitch around all the black cross stitch borders to make them appear less ragged.  It will add a lot of stitching (and time) but backstitching always makes things look a lot crisper.

This is the ugly overall photo of the piece.
(I was not using a fisheye lens.)
DH asked me if I am redoing Rainforest Crunch!
I think blackwork and canvaswork are as similar as a poodle and a basset hound.
But I guess I can see his point:  small squares around the perimeter with a large square in the middle.

New Stash!

I got this cute little book of hardanger designs from one of my guild friends (no blog).  She was cleaning out her own stash, and thought of me when she came across this book.  Thanks, Beth!

That's about it from here.  Thanks, as always, for visiting with me.