Sunday, November 30, 2003


Actually I'm just whining a bit. I'm through F in getting pages set up and having fun putting in appropriate borders using the wingdings in one of my favorite font sets, Kells by Type Foundry. Yes, I know there are lots of free fonts out there and I also subscribe to a service for fonts, but there are a few fonts put out by Type Foundry that are just unequalled by other providers. If you click on "products" on their webpage and scroll down their list of temptations, they'll offer you a free download.

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Well, all the charts are done. It is just past 1:00 a.m. and I finished proofing and correcting the final chart (thanks to my upstairs neighbor - the 300 pound gorilla walking around in combat boots).

Now, to get them all settled on pages, a bit of text added, a cover done, a few basic instructions. I only started this set in 1999, June to be exact. There are not only stitching UFO's there are design UFO's.

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Saturday, November 29, 2003


Now you say "how could that little thingie possibly be a needlework tool?" Ah, but it is an essential tool. I take a laptop to libraries and museums in England. It is a step above my last purchased laptop (a DOS model would you believe) and is provided courtesy of my chum Libby who has progressed several models up the technology chain when it comes to portable computing. It is a lifesaver though and I can create graphs on it from original textiles or 16th century pattern books and tap in text files with my notes and comments.

However "the brick" as Libby fondly refers to "it" can't write CD's so stuff has been stuck on its drive awaiting some method of download or has been laboriously re-input on my desktop.

Then came the Thanksgiving Day sales - and Staples had this wonderful little toy on sale. 2 1/2" x 1/2" it will plug into a USB port on the brick like a little electronic leech and scoop up 256 mb of library/museum files and then move over to the desktop and spit them all out.

A needlework tool indeed.

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Thursday, November 27, 2003


Sometimes when you leave something alone for awhile and don't prod it - it behaves better when faced once more. Y is finished but what I'm going to do about Z is eluding me. Ah to conquer that last letter.

Cross your fingers everyone, say "I BELIEVE", sprinkle a little designers' dust and I'll have a go at the Z tomorrow

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Friday, November 21, 2003


Stitchers meet in so many ways these days. At guilds, at commercial stitching shows, at exhibits, on the web. There is a way for every stitcher to interact with others now - no matter how isolated their physical living conditions may be.

When I first started exchanging messages about stitching online it was immediately evident that many stay at home moms, many disabled stitchers, many stitchers living in remote parts of the world suddenly had access to stitching friends. Many of those friendships turned into meetings and then we started running into each other at shows and guild events and now you never know who will turn up somewhere.

I had a lovely evening yesterday teaching at the Santa Clarita EGA and ran into several stitchers I hadn't seen since I no longer teach classes at CATS events or exhibit at the Southern California show. What a treat!! and wonderful to know what they are stitching, what adventures they have had and what their stitching goals have become.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003


I'm now down to the last minute, back against the wall, has to be done now with submissions to teach at Rockome in June 2004. All model stitching stopped to get this year's Christmas Ornament designed and stitched. I'm getting there folks!!! Now off to the day job. MTA strike over and 5 hours I was spending commuting down to 2. Amazing how much less cranky that makes one

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Thursday, November 13, 2003


I see the word "mentor" bandied about from time to time, but I'm not certain it applies to me. I see myself more as an "encourager" or (a detested term for me) a coach.

I sometimes turn into a nag on a soapbox. e.g. "Don't aim for the project, think about the process." "Samples, samples, samples" or "keep a design journal". "Don't just look at samplers, look at the other embroidery of the period." or "you can't understand the embroidery of a period without understanding the economics, the society, the politics, trade practices, fashion, etc, etc, etc.

When trying a new stitching technique I usually look at it and say "hmm not so bad for a first try". I may never use the technique again, but I've explored it, I understand it a bit better, I jolly well know a good example or a poor example the next time I see it. My next thought is usually "hmm how can I use this in an innovative way?"

If being a mentor is simply bringing out the talent already inherent in someone then I'm all for being there with the jeweler's rouge and the elbow grease to polish up those precious talents and gems of ability and make them shine.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2003


Not really dratted day job. Actually thank heaven it's been busy and I have hours to work. We are quite accustomed to eating at regular intervals and the "Design Biz" certainly doesn't provide for all the expenses of living.

However, I had a wonderful weekend with my friend Robin/Sabrina. Flying to San Jose I saw the most complete rainbow ever. It lacked only feet of being a full circle. Then agreat evening with Sabrina the Enchantress and Will the Gentle Giant and interesting friends. Good talk and intelligent conversation is ambrosia, isn't it?

Then off on Saturday to tootle around a bit in the countryside and home to learn to lucet or at least to braid using a simple lucet as a tool. I'm far from good at it. I have a terrible time with tension when it comes to "knotty thingies" e.g. tatting, etc. but I have the moves and practice may bring a smoother cord. Robin's look machine made they are awesome. I got a private lesson but SCA folks can catch her classes at an upcoming Collegium.

Saturday was smocking class. I had so much fun. Haven't smocked for years and had forgotten most of what I knew other than how to do the prep work (never fun) but most of all enjoyed all the talk of historic costume. I don't construct but everyone was nice and explained how garments go together and why. I will use my class piece in a mixed media piece in the future if all goes well.

Then back home on Monday to work and work and work and work and work and never stitch.

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Thursday, November 06, 2003


This was a busy dayjob sort of day. My theory, if we charged $10,000 for a wedding license, folks would take marriage more seriously and our divorce rate would plummet.

Now for some fun though. Try a great historic needlework fun game. You do need the latest flash download to play, but it is great fun. When I get a few minutes, I'm going to write my own Norman adventure and add it to the gallery there.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003


I have a special memory of suffering from a case of chickenpox. It was 1947, Dad was in vet school and mom was working on her master's degree and teaching undergraduates when I broke out in those miserable spots. We lived in married student housing (4 apartments knocked into 1 old wooden barracks building) with a total floor space about the size of my current living room. My aunt came to help care for me and she read to me, but Mom stitched while she sat with me and tried to keep me from digging at the itches. She was working on one of the old McCall's designs of pheasants in cross stitch. In those days you bought the transfer and a huge symbol chart in a packet. You ironed all the crosses on your fabric and then followed the symbols to stitch the picture. It was the first linen mom had to stitch on and the first big design she did using DMC. Usually embroidery was done on mundane things with dimestore threads. DMC was really upscale for students who grew up during the Depression and had a kid to feed and clothe and linen was a real luxury. It was purchased with birthday money various relatives gave her to spend on "something she wanted."

Mom not only stitched this design but several others from the McCalls design line and had them framed professionally - another first. When we sorted out her home I brought this bit of stitching home with me. It needs a bit of repair but thankfully, I found the original chart as well. Then I'll have it framed up again for the next generation.

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Oh gosh that feels better. I did do a bit of this and that other than reading four mystery novels and lounging about.

Finalized the plans for one of the Rockome Country Evenings I'm sponsoring with Eileen Bennett. Big mystery for now, sorry y'all but it does involve a new sampler designed in line with our fascination with the six wives of Henry VIII.

I had a chance to have a good look at the four little needlework specimen books I have which were compiled by a little girl named Florence (Florry) Lewsley in Fishtoft (Boston) Lincolnshire around 1900-1904. They are full of her plain sewing hems, tucks, buttonholes and darns as well as a bit of knitting and a few samplers.

Fishtoft School is still in business, but now I need to find out more about Florry.

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