Baby Boat!

April 26, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I had a VERY busy week at work last week. I’m a special education teacher, working in early intervention (with children under the age of three). My school has a fantastic program that provides both center-based therapy as well as twice weekly home visits. This means that twice a week after school I go to a student’s house and work with his family to ensure that the supports we use at school can be used in the home, as well. Two weeks ago, my student was sick with an ear infection, so this week I did 3 home visits. That’s just a lot of extra time that left no time for stitching or blogging.

However, I was able to finish a book that, honestly, I didn’t like very much. (Don’t worry, no spoilers past what’s on the back cover) It’s called The Children’s Hospital, and it’s about a hospital that survives as basically the second Noah’s Arc. Somehow I missed that the author, in addition to being an MD, is studying Theology. I was simply not interested in a lot of the religious/spiritual themes that were running through the book. I also just didn’t care for the fact that alternate chapters were written in the perspective of an Angel. It just wasn’t my kind of book.

logan-before-framing

In the spirit of this book, though, the needlepoint I will share with you today is one that I really didn’t stitch much of. My mom made this piece for a friend’s baby. I helped her by suggesting/stitching the parts that were not continental, including the wooden boat planks, the vine stitch on the trim of the bear’s shirt, the braided rope, and the beads for the eyes. I think my mom did a fantastic job on the rest of the piece, and I know the family LOVED it!

framed


Noni’s Needlepoint Part 1

April 20, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother, Noni, was the one who taught me to needlepoint. Some of my strongest memories of my grandmother and me from when I was little are of sitting at her feet while she stitched fabulous works. I was always amazed at her patience and how beautiful the final pieces were.

Her entire house was decorated in her needlepoints, and they were all stunning. She stitched only in a continental stitch, and rarely used anything other than perl cotton. She loved Asian-inspired designs, but stitched a wide variety of styles. I have a catalogue of all of her pieces that I will share with you eventually, but in this post I want to share with you a piece we did together.

Several years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She and my grandfather lived in Florida for a few years, and her disease progressed more rapidly than most. Finally, the family all decided that everyone would be better off if my grandparents moved back near the family in NJ. When they were packing up the Florida house, my dad and his brother found 2 unfinished needlepoints that my grandmother had purchased. One she had started, the other she had not even bought the threads for yet. As the only stitcher in the family, I inherited these pieces was very honored to be able to complete them for my grandmother.

ckmk-music-needlepoint

Before she became to sick to continue, my grandmother stitched almost all of the flowers and leaves. I finished the instruments and sheet music for her, and added the background. My grandmother always stitched her initials into the pieces she completed, so in this one I stitched both her initials (CK) and mine (MK) onto the music.

My grandfather was so touched by this piece, that he wanted it hung above his bed. It stayed there until he passed away. It now hangs above my grandmothers bed. I am happy every time I see it hanging in her room because I know it’s something special that we were able to do together.

The other piece my grandmother and I made “together” I will share with you another time. I have to wait to post about it because I don’t have a quality picture of it framed yet, but I promist I will share it soon.


Don’t be sad, ’cause 1 out of 4 ain’t bad

April 19, 2009

But it ain’t as good as 2 out of 3.

Yesterday, I hung 1 of the 4 needlepoints that had been living on the floor of my room. I finally put the city up above my “kitchen table” (read: parents bridge table and chairs). I still have my cross stitch, my butterfly, and a cross stitch my sister-in-law gave me to hang up. I just can’t decide where to put them!

I did succeed in helping a friend with his decorating needs, though. My friend bought his own place maybe 2 years ago? When he moved in, he started painting his room a light blue color, with a dark blue trim. This was a definite necessity, because the previous owner had a bright pink room. For some reason, he never completely finished the project — it looked fine, but he was missing the finishing touches. Then, a few weeks ago, he decided to abandon that color scheme altogether and try something new. I’ve never painted before, so I told him I would help him out.

cimg2070_2

When I arrived at his place last night around 5:30, he had 3 green colors painted in patches on his wall. He was trying to decide between them, with his plan being to paint the walls green and the trim beige. The greens he was deciding between were all very nice colors but they were VERY dark, so I suggested he paint the walls beige, with one green accent wall, then do the trim in green.  He seemed to like that idea, so we went back to the store and bought the paints! The colors he chose were the green and beige to the far left in the picture. We were ready to go!

We finally started painting around 8:30, and we finished almost one wall with the primer before I started to get sleepy around 930. I know, I know, that’s far too early for a Saturday night, but…I have no good excuse. So, I left him to continue on for a little bit more, and he reports to me that he finished the wall and started on the next one before the fumes started to get to him and he almost fell off of his step ladder. WHOOPS!

(here is a picture of the wall half-painted with primer…note the Christmas tree I gave him for his first Christmas in his condo…why it’s out in April I don’t know, but it’s cute!)

cimg2071


If Bugs don’t make you hop, you’re buggin’

April 17, 2009

Anyone recognize the quote from the Space Jam soundtrack? Anyone else actually own the Space Jam soundtrack? Yeah, I didn’t think so…

Okay, so maybe the “Bugs” in the quote is Bugs Bunny, but this post is all about the other kind of bugs. That’s right, today I’m featuring 2 insect needlepoints.

This dragonfly I made for my cousin for her high school graduation two years ago. She really loves dragonflies…so much so that she tattooed one onto her hip. When I saw this piece a few months before her graduation, I knew I had to pick it up and stitch it for her.

First, the unframed photo

dragonfly1

And now the framed version. I LOVE how this one was framed. My cousin’s favorite colors are purple and teal, so the coloring of the dragonfly and the frame really brought out those colors.

dragonfly-framed

My next and last bug piece was either the second or third needlepoint I ever made. I remember seeing this in the store and loving the background, but the colors in the butterfly were just not my taste at all. I like vibrant colors, and the muted tones the artist had painted just didn’t work for me. I remember my mom and I running around the store finding suitable replacement colors, growing more excited about the possible finished project with each new skein.

I know my grandmother never changed a color an artist drew. She believed that there was a reason for each color chosen, and she wanted to be true to the artists intentions. I have to respectfully disagree with her. Although I hold the highest respect for an artist who paints a beautiful canvas, I think the stitcher need to make the canvas her own. This can be done through creative stitching or changing the color palatte. There are many pieces where I love the design but the colors just don’t work for me, and I’d rather buy a piece with a gorgeous design and change the colors than pass on expertly crafted work.

Okay, enough with the rant. Picture time.

butterfly

Although you can’t really tell from this picture, the black in the butterfly and some of the silver are stitched in Kreinik. Currently, the frame is living on the floor of my bedroom, because I still haven’t decided where to hang all of my pictures in my apartment (I moved in Jan 1). Maybe my goal tomorrow will be to hang EVERYTHING.


Hearts :-)

April 14, 2009

Being a Valentine’s Day baby, I have always had a fondness for hearts. I can’t explain exactly why, but it might have something to do with the fact that as a child, I thought the whole world was celebrating my birthday. So, in this installment, I will share with you two heart needlepoints I completed a few years ago.

hearts

This piece I did as part of the first class I ever took. This was actually the first time I learned about stitches other than the traditional continental. I promise a post about this later, but I learned to needlepoint from my grandmother. Though a talented stitcher, she never strayed from the continental stitch, so I didn’t even know that others existed when I started to needlepoint.

hearts-close

This class focused on Shadow Stitching, which are stitches that allow the underlying canvas to show through. As you can see in this piece, the dragon, and the city, shadow stitches can really enhance a painted canvas when different colors blend together. A single color shadow stitch can look very different over the different shades of the painted canvas.This piece used a different shadow stitch for each heart. In addition, the background was a repeated pattern of hearts. I chose to stitch the hearts alternating between one thread and two. It creates a very subtle intricacy to the background.

Through a little detective work, I discovered that the book we used to get the stitches can be found here.

heart-red-frame1

The other heart piece is one I found on sale at the store and absolutely fell in love with!

This one shows off how different threads and bring a piece to life (and it was also my first time working with beads!)

heart-red-close

The top half of the heart is stitched in Splendor silk, with BEADS! The bottom red is Very Velvet, and the white is a shiny ribbon-ish thread that was a pain to work with but gives of an unbeleiveable shine! The love is in another ribbon-y thread, but this time with a metallic wave going through.

My hardest decision with this piece was how to do the area surrounding the heart. I didn’t want to do continental – BORING. I thought about using the heart background in my other piece, but I thought that would be too much. I couldn’t think of a suitable large stitch, so I finally settles on leaving it bare, then adding a border in the Splendor. I love the way the large black mat and silver frame add a dramatic effect to central heart.

Happy 2-months after Valentine’s Day everyone. Only 10 months until my next birthday (AHHHH!)


Potato Lasagna

April 12, 2009

On Wednesday, I made potato pizza and shared them with my family. Today, I made potato lasagna for 1.

I had the idea for the lasagna when I was slicing the potatoes for the pizza and realized that if I shaved them really thin, they are flexible and noodle-like. So, when I had 2 potatoes left over, I decided that potato lasagna was a must for later in the week.

Ingredients:

1 potato, cut into super-thin slices using a peeler

1/3 cup mozzerella cheese

3/4 cup-ish tomato sauce

Parmasan cheese to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375.

I used a small loaf pan to build my lasagna, which was the perfect size for one potato.

Simply layer the potato, sauce, and cheese like you would a regular lasagna.

Bake for 30 minutes…..or longer. I baked mine for 30 minutes but the potatoes came out just a bit too al dente. I think another 5-10 minutes and they would have been PERFECT!

lasagna-in-tin

Note that while this is not a small dish, the plate below is a salad plate

lasagna-on-plate

Though it could have used a few more minutes, this was pretty delicious and something I would definitely make again any time of the year.

Oh, and as for the other potato I had left after making the pizzas…it took an unfortunate dive into the trash while I was trying to peel it. Whoops!!


Finishing in record time

April 11, 2009

Yesterday, I finished the cross stitch I started the day before. That is definitely my record for speed in finishing a piece. I LOVE SPRING BREAK!!!!

Here is the piece after part 2. You can compare it to the original here

cross-stitch-2

And the finished product… (original)

cross-stitch-3

And a little close up of the bottom left corner. My camera isn’t quite blog-worthy, so I figured a close-up was warranted to show the details

cross-stitch-3-close1

HAPPY SATURDAY!!!!!


7 hours later

April 9, 2009

So, today I stiched for about 7 hours. Now, I know that everyone’s first reaction to that must be “wow, this girl has no life.” And while I won’t contest that statement, I must offer a weak excuse — it’s spring break!!!!! I won’t have the time to do this again for a looooong time.

Today, I started the day with a delicious breakfast of leftover kugel from last night’s Passover celebration at my Aunt’s house. After breakfast, I went over to my grandmothers to drop off some leftovers for her. She is recovering from bronchitis, so she missed the family gathering last night. I stopped by the Crate & Barrel outlet on my way home. It’s probably a good thing that the outlet is closer to my grandmother than me — I could spend hours there!

Lunch was an openface matzoh grilled cheese and a raspberry smoothie. My smoothie making skills are definitely a work in progress, as I just got a blender on Monday. I used only frozen raspberries and yogurt, so the smoothie was far too thick. Next time I need to add ice or some fruit juice. Maybe both?

After lunch, I settled into my couch to catch up on my Yankee games. Since I was out last night, I had last night’s game and this afternoon’s game to watch. I had also found this amazing design that I was inspired to stitch. The pattern can be found here. I started stitching at 1:30, and with a break for dinner (leftover brisket on top of cauliflower, a large apple, and a piece of chocolate), I finally finished Part 1 at 8:30 tonight. Wow, that was a long stitching session. I know it’s supposed to be a common past-time for grandmothers, but boy are my shoulders sore!!!! However, I’m very excited about how it’s looking so far.

cross-stitch-1

An astute reader may point out to me that this is not a Needlepoint. I know…this is actually the first cross-stitch I have ever done other than bookmarks. However, I had all of the materials on hand and the design called for cross-stitch, so I figured I’d go for it! I usually shy away from cross-stitch because I don’t find counting to be fun at all, but this was a lot of fun to stitch 🙂 I can’t wait to finish, but I don’t know if I can (or should) sit for another 7 hours tomorrow.


Oatmeal and Dragons

April 7, 2009

Really, what more do you need in life than Oatmeal and Dragons?

Oats

This morning for breakfast, like most other bloggers out there, I had my daily bowl of oatmeal. My usually concoction is a 1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp cream cheese, and either vanilla or almond extract. I choose vanilla when I have nuts for my mix-in, and almond when my mix-in is nut-free. Today, I went with the almond extract and I added 1/2 cup granola. As you can see, the granola smothered the oats, but the combo was delicious. I enjoyed it with a nice steaming cup of Teavana Spice Nut Mate, followed by an apple and a bite of chocolate. Gotta end every meal with a bit of chocolate.

So, onto the Dragon half of this post. My current needlepoint project is my second dragon that I’ve worked on. I received it as a combo birthday present from my entire extended family about 2 years ago. I hadn’t worked on it much until recently because, honestly, it intimiated me. I went to a wonderful store to pick out my threads and we came up with some fabulous stitch ideas, but since I’m a relative newby to complex stitches (read: anything other than a basketweave), I am hesitant every time I start a new section. But, I’m running out of easy sections to do. This past weekend, I finished the floor, so now I have no excuse not to dive into the tricky sections of the dragon!

Here is the “before” shot. I had only completely the outline of the wings and the dark sections in the body when I took this picture

dragon-2-before

Next, After the wings were finished

dragon-2-with-wings

And here is a picture of the piece as it stands today. It appears to be facing the other direction because I took this one with a real camera, rather than PhotoBooth. Boy what a different in the picture quality!

dragon-4-6-09-v22

Hopefully from this picture you can see that I’ve completed most of the ground (except for where it runs up against the dragon. The outer corners are a slightl darker color than the middle. I have also started the pattern in the background. I love the design, but I’m just not sure of the darker color. I’m trying to be true to the picture that has at least 3 different colors in the red family, but it just doesn’t blend well. Maybe if I do it all the middle color the paint will shine through? Any suggestions?

Well, I’m off to enjoy more of my spring break, which probably means playing video games, reading, or tv/needlepoint. So many choices so little (much?) time!


The City

April 6, 2009

The first needlepoint I want to tell you about is my most recently completed project. I call this one “The City”

I found this needlepoint at Annie & Co in NYC. Although I had another needlepoint at home in reserve, I simply fell in love with this piece. I loved the subtle shades of grey it was painted, with the brilliant highlights of dark blue. Furthermore, I thought it would a fitting project to remember my time spent living in NYC. I bought it at the beginning of my graduate school career and finished during finals of my last semester.

Here is a picture of the piece before I started it.

City - Before

For this piece, I chose to work with stranded cotton (embroidery floss). Stranded cotton is one of (if not THE) least expensive materials you can work with. I wanted to keep the cost of this piece down, and simply let the colors and stitch selection speak more than the choice of threads. (Keep on the lookout for another post about thread selection!)

City- Early

I snapped another picture when I was in the beginning stages of starting the piece. Although I’m sure everyone has their own way of attacking new projects, I started this one by completing buildings where I was sure I knew what my design would be. I think what this picture really shows is how a little change in stitch can add new dimensions to a piece. Take a look in the bottom left corner at the black columns. My choice to have vertical columns and horizontal columns, in my humble opinion, helps differentiate between the top of one building and the side of another. I continued to attack the piece one building at a time, aiming to give each one it’s own unique character.

Several months of wor, and one fantastic framing job I can’t take credit for later…my city (and my stay in the city) was complete.

city-finished

Please excuse the glare…I’m still trying to work out the best way to take pictures. The gloomy weather outside didn’t help much.

In this blurry close-up of the sky, you can see that I made it out of an open stitch — meaning the canvas shows through just a  bit. I did this intentionally because the canvas was painted so beautifully with the shades of grey fading as you get closer to the skyline. I didn’t think this could be replicated with such elegance without an open stitch. Also, I thought the open “bubbly” look would give the appearance of clouds.

city-sky

Finally, here is a close-up of the boat and the water. I think this really shows how varying stitches can add so much to a piece. I made the boat out of long stitches that covered the entire length of the boat. The water was made with 3 strands of black and 1 strand of blue and stitched over 3 at a time to give a rippling water effect. In this picture, you can also see a white buiding that was stitched in the opposite direction, and a grey building that has a patter of alternating rows over 1 and over 2.

city-water

Overall, I am VERY pleased with how this piece came out. I think it’s a fabulous tribute to my time spent in living in the city, and I am happy to display it in my current apartment that is thankfully NOT in a city!!!