Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Embroidery with the incompetent

I really wanted to make a snowman pin for Jan, but I didn't have orange felt for the nose, and at a little less than two inches across the scale was way too small to do anything but embroidery to pick out the details.  Interestingly, even though I am terrible at embroidery, every time I showed him to somebody to ask whether I was messing up horribly this little guy evoked death-by-cute expressions and cries of "Can you make one for me?"

Answer: No.  If it hadn't taken over an hour to get him this far, and a complete fluke of bad stitching that resulted in the charmingly bent carrot effect, I would do tons - but as it is, I'm just grateful for photography so I can always remember my little snow friend.

As you might have guessed, things have continued to be crazy busy here at Hugs.

The house is completely under control - heavenly, even, after some changes resulted in a streamlined process toward a home we actually want to live in.  Our city building inspector is happy too, always a bonus!  And I'm learning a lot about construction and renovation and all the parts that go into a building - enough that Ray thinks it's a shame I'm not renovating another house after this one.  It's kind of like planning a wedding though - you can only learn to do it by doing it, and the whole point is to try never to have to do it again.  Not for yourself, anyway.

The condo is looking pretty great too because other changes resulted in me taking on a major clutter reduction project.  As I type, I do have a few things that have to go down to the storage locker (which is already full, hence their presence behind the sofa) and a couple of bins with lids waiting for soft objects to be stored in them, but I also have a Christmas tree in its stand just waiting to relax enough for lights and ornaments.  YAY!!

I've known for quite a few years about a Christmas tree market that sets up on the north side of Front Street, aka across from the St. Lawrence Market, but it has never occurred to me to buy a tree there, or even one of the gorgeous wreaths they sell.  We always get our stuff from the grocery store.  Today I walked past the tree market for the second time in a week and thought, why are we not shopping here?  So we did and it was awesome.  Pete and I picked a tree in no time, got a fresh cut for the trunk, and carried it home (two doors away, basically.)

That's something I really appreciate about this building - it's on a block that is extra wide, with not one but two lanes included in it that have been turned into pedestrian walkways.  Because I have older relatives I know what an advantage it is to be able to get errands done on foot without ever crossing the street once your legs get unsteady.  Admittedly I'm not likely to carry a Christmas tree home when I'm 85, but I do think there's something to be said for hanging onto this condo once the house is done, so we can move back if stairs get to be too much for us.

I mentioned this to Bob and he said well, but surely it would be a bit big for you to retire to.  I made no comment.  Bob doesn't knit, so he doesn't understand about the concept of Yarn Stash and the space it takes up.  After a moment I pointed out that it would be good to have a guest room in case friends came to visit.  This, he can't argue about, because he's slept on our sofa often enough.

Speaking of stash: that's the next big clutter reduction installment.  I keep coming across yarn I've had for ten years at least, and never knit with: I don't want to start out in the 'new' house with all that baggage, so I'm going to deal with it now.  I just think I'll enjoy this condo experience more if I'm not looking at a wall of boxes all the time.

And speaking of a wall of boxes... we have one, again.  I worked SO hard to unpack enough not to have to look at one of those as I fall asleep at night, but then Restoration Hardware had a sale, and some of the bathroom stuff we want was so hugely discounted it didn't make sense to wait to get it.  Yesterday the concierge called to say I had five boxes at the front desk and when I went down expecting to see, oh, five small book parcels maybe - I suddenly remembered what I'd done.  The five boxes were massive!

The upshot is, we are now storing five sets of bathroom light fixtures and four train racks (for towel storage) in the bedroom, because the storage locker - yeah, I mentioned that didn't I.  It's full.

With so much going on beyond the usual day to day meals have been pretty disorganized.  But this weekend Pete offered to go to a new pizza place he'd liked when he tried it.

The other pizza place I liked had closed, but this one is pretty awesome!  I think I'm not really a fan of giant uncooked basil leaves on the top of my pizza, but my goodness they look beautiful, as did Pete's arugula.  Also the pizzas were delicious.

Okay, before he melts, let's take another look at our little snow friend.

The trick with a Christmas pin is to give it to the person who's getting it long enough before Christmas that they can get some use out of it.  I am pretty sure Jan waits till Christmas Day to open my present, so I put the snowman on the front of her bag - that way, she can take it off and wear it now.  And hopefully later too - after all, it's winter, and snowmen are all about winter, right?

I didn't say how I stitched this guy.  I got the snowballs onto the blue background with running stitch in regular white sewing thread, then stitched in the bits of coal with regular black sewing thread.  I used sort of a backstitch for the stick arm that shows and then improvised another stick hand resting on his other hip.  The carrot nose is a bit of orange stripe from some Vesper Sock remains, and the red scarf is actual shiny embroidery floss.  The only part of the scarf that really worked was the tail, and I love it, and am so grateful because it elevates the rest of him.  Finally: blanket stitch for the backing.  If you cut the backing a little bigger than the front and then blanket stitch them together, you get that lovely scalloped edge.

I'm never going to win awards for my embroidery, but you don't need to be an expert to pull off folk art, thank goodness.

Okay, that's it for me today!  Take care of yourself and I'll be back again as soon as I'm able.

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