Saturday, October 29, 2016

With first class you get bananas

We splurged on our trip to Richmond, flying first class.  This was our first foray into first class, other than one time many years ago when a flight was over-booked and we ended up in vacant seats in first class.  Anyway, I decided I wanted the more comfortable seats and more leg room, which were worth every penny.  And the snacks are upgraded, with an assortment of regular sized snack bags of chips, popcorn, granola bars, cookies, and fresh fruit, and we could choose two snacks.  That's where the bananas come in.  Bananas were available on every leg of our flight.  What I had not expected is that our checked bags (which were free for first class passengers) would get first class service as well. Not only were we first on/first off, but our bags were first off the plane as well.

I was able to quickly finish two pieces from Spirit of Cross Stitch.  One was "Sweet Little Christmas Stocking Ornament" designed by Jean Farish.  This was one of the classes I attended.

The second piece was from a class I was not able to attend, due to scheduling conflicts with another class.  But, fortunately, kits were available for purchase at the vendor mart.  This is a topper for a tin box, designed by Louise Henderson of Cherished Stitches.  This was stitched on 32-count linen (32 threads to the inch), which I had not attempted before. My normal choice of fabric is 25-count!  But thanks to cataract surgery, I was able to manage (under my magnifying lamp, of course).

And the third piece, not from Spirit of Cross Stitch, is something I've had in my "to do" pile for awhile. I had initially thought it was small enough to be a bookmark, but it's not quite that small.  Just a very small sampler,  "A Flower in its Pot Sampler" by Gay Ann Rogers.

I'm now working on Terry Bay's Nine Patch Tray from Spirit of Cross Stitch class.  I was waiting for some variegated threads to arrive from my favorite thread vendor, Colour Complements in Canada. As soon as they arrived, I started in.  Here are the first four patches done.  Five more to go.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Politics free Zone

In mid-October, we headed to Richmond, Virginia, for the Spirit of Cross Stitch.  This was the revival of a get-together that was very active in the 1990's.  At that time, festivals were held across the country, including in Des Moines.  Initially, we filled the Des Moines Convention Center, and busloads of people came on Saturday for the merchandise mart.  And gradually, over the years, attendance got smaller and smaller, and the festival changed hands, from Spirit of Cross Stitch, to Heart of Cross Stitch, to Creative Arts and Textiles, to Creative Arts and Teaching Shows, and lastly, Stitching Jubilee.  Then none at all... Which is why I started attending Embroiderers Guild and Needlepoint Guild seminars, though those are completely different.

Each year, Spirit of Cross Stitch had a new design for T-shirts, tote bags and commemorative samplers.  Here is my commemorative T-shirt collection.

And here is my version of the 1992 commemorative sampler, finished, framed and on the wall.

This year, attendance was pretty small (around 140), the merchandise mall had only about a dozen vendors, and classes had sparse attendance,  One class I attended had 4 students, a couple had 6, one had 2, and the biggest class had 9.  But, it's a start!

I was really surprised that several of the teachers remembered me from the early days.  Jean Farish, who created the original Spirit of Cross Stitch festivals back in the early 1990's, was a teacher at this festival.  When I sat down in her class, she took one look at me and asked if I hadn't attended the original Spirit of Cross Stitch.  Then we reminisced about those early days, including the fact that the class catalogues didn't have any pictures.  We had to choose classes based solely on the written description.

My Dad wonders why I keep going to stitching seminars, saying I surely must have my PhD in stitching by now!  Here's why.  In Terry Bay's "Nine Patch Tray" class, she diagrammed the double-running stitch she designed for one of the block borders, and she let us take photos with our cell phones.  That in itself was a learning experience since I had never taken photos with my cell phone before and didn't know how.  But after pushing a few wrong buttons, I found the right button, and voila, photos!  I also learned that I can take selfies from my camera, just by pushing the little camera icon, I can change the direction the camera is pointing.
I continue to learn at stitching seminars
And here is what the diagrammed stitch looks like, actually stitched.

What is the point of stitching the corner borders in such a complicated path?  Well, the double running stitch is designed to look the same from the front side and the back side of the piece.  For this Nine-Patch Tray, that doesn't matter, it's just a chance to practice the stitch.  The practical applications would be for things like embroidered towels, handkerchiefs, napkins, curtains, etc., that will be seen from both sides.

Terry Bay also announced in my first class that class would be a "politics free zone," for which we thanked her profusely!  And what was equally pleasant, Virginia is not a battleground state like Iowa is, so guess what - we saw NO political ads on TV for national or state offices.  The closest thing to a political ad was an announcement of an upcoming public forum with the five candidates for Richmond mayor.

And another round of plays we've seen.  In August, we saw something that was more than a concert and less than a play:  "South Pacific."  The orchestra sat on the stage, with the characters singing the songs in front of the orchestra.  No props, just enough dialogue to get from song to song.

And the night before we left for Richmond, we attended opening night for "The Book of Mormon," at the new Hancher Auditorium.  It was quite fun!

Fireworks in my Backyard

The Cedar Valley Chapter (Cedar Rapids/Marion) of the Embroiderer's Guild of America was able to procure the EGA's 20th National Exhibit for showing at the Marion Heritage Center.  Well worth the trip, some very interesting and unusual embroidered works.  The trip, of course, necessitated a stop at the needlework shop in Marion, to stock up on a few things.

Each year, there is a celebration the Friday before the first home football game, and my condo is in the center of the events.  There are food vendors, a merchandise show, fun and games, and a big concert in the evening.  Some years the marching band is here, and I previously posted photos of the marching band as seen from my balcony.  This year, fireworks were added to the festival, at the conclusion of the concert.

I'd never before tried to take photos of fireworks with my camera, but I managed to get several that don't look too bad, if I do say so myself.

And now back on to my English major soapbox.  A newsletter carried the announcement that free "rock corry" sand was available to anyone who wanted some.  I thought about that for a few minutes, trying to figure out what rock corry sand was, before I realized the person meant "rock quarry" sand.  And later, someone asked, on one of the Facebook stitching groups I belong to, what needlework shops there were in New York City.  Several responses came about shops in Manhattan, then someone posted that there were other needlework shops in some of the other New York "burrows." Hmmm.