Saturday, January 22, 2011


This isn't my cat. She's just one I had the fortune of playing with this week (one of our shelter cats.) I took the picture in the dim/halogen light of PetSmart, and I think it turned out really sweet. If this doesn't make you say, "Awww...," you might need a heart transplant.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oooh, look what I got!

Now before you get after me, keep in mind I have been a good girl for almost a whole year! I've been working my way through reproducing the big samplers in my collection. I also have a number of smaller samplers that I'm releasing here and there...but I went to this week...and I saw...


And I bought it. Well, I'm buying it. In installments. (First one is out of the way). Isn't it gorgeous? It's was stitched by Ann Dale in 1827. (You can click on the picture to make it bigger for ogling purposes.) Please notice the swans with EGGS on the lawn, ALL of the wonderful baskets and flowers, the almost circular tree in the bottom center, and...well, just the awesome-sauce-ness of the colors.

It is BIG! The original is 25 1/4" by 19 1/4" on FIFTY COUNT LINEN. That means the stitch count is approximately 630 by 480. Wait. In case you were just speed reading over that last part: SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY STITCHES BY FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY STITCHES. Wow! Ann, way to go, girl!

Here's what the verses say:

1 PASS a few swiftly fleeting years,
And all that now in bodies live,
Shall quit, like me, the vale of tears
Their righteous sentence to receive. (yikes!)

2. But all, before they hence remove,
May mansions for themselves prepare (yea!)
In that eternal house above!
And, O my God, shall I be there.

(The "yikes" and the "yea" were my additions.)

Now, since this sampler is a tad on the large side (ya think?), I have already talked to Pat at Lakeside Linens and we both agreed that I should probably stitch the reproduction on "regular" linen (meaning, un-dyed...less-expensive.) I mean, this sampler is going to be 31 1/2 by 24 on 40 count. A (crazy) person could squeeze it onto a half...IF that crazy person was using 40 count. Basically, a very large piece of fabric is needed (bedspread, anyone?) And I want to keep the cost down.

Now, if you like hand-dyed linen, you can order hand-dyed linen in a full-yard cut. You will have a big chunk left over, but special cuts are out of the question -- there would be too much waste. There is, of course, the option of using 45 count linen as well...are you man-enough? (Ann stitched hers even smaller, thank you very much!)

I talked to Kathy my model stitcher this morning and had her look at it. She said, "Oh, I don't know about that over-one verse (her eyes, like mine, are getting old.) And I said: "I want to stitch this one!"

What do you think? Am I crazy? Isn't it wonderful? Should they lock me away in a padded room? Am I a glutton for punishment? What's for dinner?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A to Z and happy, happy, happy

I have the semi-official title of "Cat Pals Coordinator" for the Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg. About a year ago, I started volunteering anywhere from two to five hours a week to helping with the local shelter kitties who are up for adoption at PetSmart (just across the street from my shop). Basically, besides a few cleaning/errand-type duties, I get to volunteer by playing with and loving on adorable cats and kittens a few times a week. (I'd pay good money to do that, but shhh...don't tell the shelter.)

Steve goes with me, and it's nice time for us to spend together. He loves cats, too, and we come up with names for them, talk about their personalities, and on the drive home, talk about which one we'd adopt if we could (we have decided the four cats we have are enough.)

This is Alexis.

And this is Zeeba.

They had just come over from the shelter an hour before our volunteering shift, and while we were playing with cats, a mustachioed, grey-haired gentleman was looking in at the cats. We have learned to ask people if they have questions, and often, they will come in to look at the cats. He was shopping for cats.

His cat, Panther, of 20 years had to be put to sleep on Christmas eve. You could tell he was heart-broken. "That cat lasted longer than both of my marriages three times over," he said. He talked about how Panther would run to greet him every day, how he had a cat sitter come check on her while he was at work, how he had a special bed for her in the file drawer of his computer desk (he works on computers), and how, toward the end of her life, he hand-fed her, carried her to the litter box, and cleaned her.

Maybe, he said, he'd get two cats. That way, they'd have each other for company. "My home is pretty lonely," he said. He looked first at a black kitten named Polo. Panther was black. But Polo "didn't feel right," he said.

Then he looked at a grey kitten named Bunny. She was very affectionate. Too affectionate, he said. He didn't want a cat who was going to be begging for attention all of the time.

Then he wondered if maybe he wasn't honoring Panther's memory by getting another cat so soon. I said: "Panther would want you to be happy."

Steve, in the meantime, had opened a cage with Alexis and Zeeba, two striped cats (one orange, one grey), two very skinny strays. Zeeba jumped down and ran straight for the man. "Oh," he said. "Look, she's running for me." Alexis sauntered her way over, climbed up on the man's round belly, and meowed and growled until he was positioned just right. Then she curled up and shut her eyes. Zeeba, seeing her sister comfortable, jumped up, walked across the man's shoulders, and found the crook of his arm. She curled up and shut her eyes.

"I think I've just been adopted," he said.

It is an amazing thing to see someone fall in love, and I went to bed smiling that night thinking about mustache-man and his two new best friends. Alexis...Zeeba...and happy, happy, happy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jenny Bean's Creation Sampler (sneak preview)

People have been bugging me for a sneak peek of the next Jenny Bean sampler. This is the top portion of the sampler -- below is a Garden of Eden scene with Adam & Eve, a stitching angel, animals, hills, a cartouche, waves, fish and more! But I hope this at least gives you an idea of what it's going to look like. The colors are turning out really well on the Pear linen (Lakeside Linens.) Hope you like it!

There are going to be several bands of specialty stitches, too, since this is a band sampler. They're fun to do (and will come with instructions), but you could choose to leave those out or fill with something else!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Old Eyeballs

I'll be 41 in March which means, unfortunately, I have old eyeballs.

My eyes are one feature of mine I'm fairly proud of. They're green, like my dad's, and prettily-shaped, like my mom's. I get complimented on them frequently. I'm not bragging (well, OK, maybe I am), but I was stopped in the grocery store last year by a leather-clad biker-looking guy who asked me if anyone had told me that day how pretty I was, and didn't I have the most beautiful green eyes. (At least I know if anything happens to Steve, I've got a shot with the Harley Davidson crowd.)

But I have to face it. They're old. After decades of stitching on fine fabric in near-darkness, I started using an over-the-shoulder Ott-Lite recently. And this weekend, while working on the new Jenny Bean sampler (on 40 count), I said, "Hey, Graham, can I borrow your reading glasses for a sec?" And wouldn't you know it, it was EASIER to see the fabric. Go figure!

Steve gave me a little bit of a bad time. He said something like, "Ha ha, your eyes are old," and I stuck my 40-count linen in his face. "Well," I said, "can YOU see these holes?" "Hey, I WEAR glasses," he said. Steve's about as blind as a potato.

A sweet potato.