Jul 31, 2009


Sometimes it's really hard having a dog smarter than you are. Sometimes I wonder how I happened to find the one dog on the planet who would have a propensity for telling all of my secrets...all while looking cute and innocent on his little "Prince" blanket and then peeing on the drapes.

Yes, I did get new glasses. But in my defense, I have not had new glasses since 1986-ish. Or thereabouts. (I tend to exaggerate sometimes.) But I love these new glasses and I love the new friends I made at the swanky boutique where I purchased said glasses, and I'm 43 years old and should be able to leave the house without looking like I'm in need of serious fashion advice from some little teeney bopper who probably wasn't even born when Journey released their "Escape" album and who has no idea of the significance of the properly worn jelly bracelet or acid washed jeans.

As to the BB&B purchases...I can fully justify the produce bags, since the amount of money I spend on fresh vegetables (only to throw them in the trash a few days later) is a crime against humanity. And the caulk thingie is something that I feel every spinster should have on hand, especially if she gets the urge to DIY one weekend and doesn't want to change out of her pajamas for a trip to the Home Depot to do so.

And I will NOT feel one bit bad about the foot scrubber thingie. I purchased my current one almost 10 years ago and it has single-handedly changed my life. You see, I learned that the Japanese have a very important foot-bathing ceremony in which they apply pressure to areas of the feet that correspond to the organ systems of the body and that this practice is said to improve health. (I learned this from reading the back of the foot scrubber thingie package).

All I know is that after a little squeeze of peppermint bath gel and some vigorous sole rubbing relief, I feel like a new woman. (In case you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about....this is basically just a piece of nubbby plastic that you put on the floor of the shower and then rub your foot across. It's kind of like a scrubby massage that you can do quite easily while lathering, rinsing, and repeating.) (I'm all about the multi-tasking, don't you know, especially when it helps reduces the angst when I am forced to be out of clothes for more that two and a half minutes at a time.) (I'm not a big fan of nekkid. Especially not my own nekkidness.)

Besides, I am a spinster, and a spinster's gotta' do what a spinster's gotta' do.

So THAT, my dear readers, is my full justification for my little spree yesterday. Now I know that Stewey would have you believe that his financial health is in serious jeopardy, but may I just say that he has enough Puppy Chow, monthly heartguard and flea control, clothes, toys, snacks, and treats to supply a small country of precocious short-legged buck-toothed little prats from now until Kingdom Come or until he finds a new home (whichever comes first).

AND! I would also like to point out that he can very easily secure his own financial future by GETTING HIS DAMN BOOK DONE and then finding a publisher so that he can start keeping ME in the manner to which HE has become accustomed.

So there.

Damn dog.


Last night my mo-ther and my Aunt Chrissy left the house to go pick up their new spectacles. Mom had her eyes tested a few weeks ago and learned that her prescription had changed, so she decided to splurge on herself and go for "a new look". I'll let her tell you more about these glasses later, but let's just say that I'm getting increasingly concerned about my college fund and the withdrawals that keep happening for ridiculously expensive purchases.

I waited patiently on my perch for them to return, and expected Mom to have only one little bag in her hands from the eyeglass place, but when I saw the words "Bed, Bath, and Beyond", I knew we were in trouble.

Exhibit A shows the contents of said bag:
I blame my Stitchy Uncle Egdar for the cherry/olive pitter, since Mom decided that she just HAD to make cherry preserves this weekend. (Did I mention that she already ATE all the cherries?) The fish spatula was something I begged her for, since my grilled salmon is very delicate and I had a really hard time getting it to the plate in one piece last weekend. And I suppose I could understand the little egg skillet, since Mom does like her eggs on toast in the mornings.

But the other stuff? Debbie Meyer green bags? Pro Caulk? I swear, the only reason my mo-ther bought these two items is because our local newscaster (Mr. Terry McFadden His very Self) tested them in his "As Seen On T.V." segments and gave them both a thumbs up. I'm not even sure that we have produce to bag or edges to caulk, but there they are...for all the world to see.

I can almost forgive the eucalyptus bath salts and back brush, since I'm all about the spa experience, but the foot scrubber? She already has one of these things! I know this, because when I wait patiently outside the shower door every morning I can hear her rubbing her foot across the damn thing, all while letting out noises that a puppy shouldn't hear! Why the heck did she need a second one?

All I know is that my Aunt Chrissy is an enabler, and despite my warnings to keep my mom out of retail establishments, we have these incidents happening with more and more frequency. I've read about "retail therapy", and I saw the Oprah episode in which she talks about shopping as a substitution for a meaningful relationship, but methinks it's time to put my paw down.

I can't show you any stitchy updates because Mom insisted on wearing her glasses last night and she can't see up close with them. And when I told her to go take them off and put her contacts and stitchy glasses on, she just looked at me as though I was nuts. Why she felt compelled to "look fabulous" sitting in the Happy Chair with her robe and slippers on is beyond me, but I fight these battles one at a time.

So that's the report from Chez Spinster, ladies and gentlemen. I'll keep you abreast of any further developments, but in the meantime, I'm going to go hide the car keys.

With love from your pal,

Jul 30, 2009


This silly machine and I are engaged in a battle of wits. If you've been reading this here blog for more than fifteen minutes, then you know exactly who is winning said battle, but my pea-sized intellect is another subject for another day.

I think what is most troubling about this damn computer is that it DOES STUFF. And, more importantly, it DOES STUFF that I don't want it to and it DOES THIS STUFF while I am sleeping and seemingly minding my own business.

Each morning is an adventure in discovery as I try to figure out what fresh hell will be delivered to my screen. I spend the better part of a week getting everything just so...all of the bookmarks and blog pages and other crap in the exact spot I want them, and POOF!, I awaken to find out that my computer thinks they would be better another way.

Case in point....a few months ago the computer decided that I needed to have Internet Explorer 8.0. I don't want 8.0. I have 7.0 and I like it very much, thank you. But somehow I awoke to discover that 8.0 had been downloaded and installed while I was off doing something important (like solving world peace or finding my laying tool for instance).

So I un-installed 8.0 and managed to tell the nice man on the phone that if my computer wanted to be an 8.0 so badly, then it could just get in the car and drive itself back to BestBuy and be done with it. I want 7.0. (The man was completely unsympathetic, by the way, and I don't think the fact that he actually works for the Mishawaka Utility company (and not the computer company) helped matters. At all.

Today was another morning fraught with angst and a lot of hair pulling as I clicked onto my "very important work to do" page (that would be the stitchy blog reading page), only to find out that we are, once again, back in Installed and Downloaded Hellville.

Now before you are kind enough to tell me how to fix everything, please know that I have the Geek Squad on standby, and if I don't end up throwing this thing out into the front yard, they will be here (free of charge, by the way), to fix what ails me.

I think this is why I love stitching so much. If I look at something I've done and it's hideous, the only words I hear from the linen/canvas are: "You put the stitches in that way, dumb ass." So then as I'm ripping out my mistakes I have nobody to blame but myself. With this situation, however, this computer does what it pleases/when it pleases and doesn't have the common decency to ask first. It sits in its armoire and says "No, we're going to do it MY way because only I know what's good for you and you'll learn to like it. Or else."

When Aunt Chrissy and I visited Target this week we walked through the electronic section because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about over these new flat screen/bigger than a drive-in movescreen TeeVees. My current TeeVee is about twelve years old, and I'm pretty sure that it was obsolete a full ten minutes after I bought it, but I can faintly make out people's faces on it and it's good enough for me.

Or so I thought.

As Aunt Chrissy and I stood in front of the display wall of 42 and 50 inch flat screen HDTV plasma TeeVees, we gaped in awe at everything we'd been missing. The colors! The details! The sparkle and shine! We stood there for a full twenty minutes clutching hands while the wonder of it all washed over us. I suppose it was somewhat like the reaction that most people have when they see the Grand Canyon for the first time...your eyes struggle to adjust as you step from black and white into technicolor and the little munchkins giggle in the flowers all around you.

I suppose that this experience should have convinced me that not all technology is bad, but unless things start to shape up in the Spinster Stitcher Computer Department, we're going back to legal pads and Bic pens. Period.

I will win this battle. I will beat this computer into submission and force it to do what I want it to do WHEN I want it to do it. I will teach it to ASK me if I want something new and I will even teach it NOT to do things in the middle of the night while it thinks I'm sleeping.

In the meantime, stitching will continue, Stewey will pee, and all will be right with the world once again. Here's what I stitched last night (and yes, it was while watching my crappy little four inch TeeVee without and H, D, or TV involved):

Jul 28, 2009


I am delighted to be the guest stitchy blogger on Stitch Bitch's blog today! What a lovely thing to be included with such wonderful people! A big fat thank you to AVS Her Very Self for doing this!

If you'd like to check it out, please visit: http://stitchbitch.blogspot.com.


My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's in the laundry room cursing up a blue streak because SOMEBODY had to pee on the rugs that she had thrown in there. (For the record, I told her not to do that and to put them in the car for a trip to the dry cleaners, but did she listen to me?)

I do feel a little bad about watering the rug, especially since the old lady gave me a nice little present last night. She and Aunt Chrissy went to Target so that mom could find something to put under that damn footstool that slid out from under me the night before last (my noggin is still a little sore and I have a bump behind my ears). Anywhoose, they came home with this:Isn't it just the coolest? I was sooooo excited when Mom showed it to me that I thought my tail would wag off. And it's so soft too! Mom said that she felt really bad that I fell down, so she thought this would cheer me up.

When we were watching Anthony Bourdain on the TeeVee, I dragged my new blanket from my perch over to the Happy Chair and I thought my mo-ther was going to have a cow over the "cuteness" of it all. Quite frankly, all I wanted to do was put something over her legs before I snuggled up next to her (I mean, come on, would it KILL her to shave them more often?).

Here's what she worked on last night:

I'm so relieved that the girl finally has a face and some hair, because it was really creeping me out! Mom wanted to pick something else out of her WIP baskets, but I told her to JUST STICK WITH THIS and get the damn thing done already. (It's been a while since she's happy danced, and it cracks me up to see all of her jiggly bits wobble around when she does so.)

That's the report for today! I hope that you are having as much fun as we are over here in Hoosierville. Stay inside and keep cool, kids!

With love from your pal, Stewey.

Jul 27, 2009


So it seems that I have a few viewer mail questions to address. Allow me, however, to first say a big fat thank you for the lovely encouragement that you extended to Aunt Chrissy and moi for our hard work this weekend. It was all worth it, and yesterday's Sunday dinner and movie night was made even more enjoyable by the tidy surroundings.

(BTW..."Paul Blart: Mall Cop" was cutie cute cute, but methinks it helps if you like Kevin James. Otherwise, it's just a chubby guy in a mall cop uniform acting like a boob.) (But Aunt Chrissy and I think he's a CUTE boob, so there.)

Anywhoose, I thought I would answer two of the questions about a) what my WIP list entails and b) what I mean by a project book.

First, the WIP'S. I gathered them all up yesterday and stowed them in the guest room for safekeeping. I figure this will prompt me to stick to my plan, rather than futzing around in the studio and coming up with something new. (Besides, it's a little warm up there in the afternoon, so I'll keep myself cool and comfortable down here on the main floor, thank you very much.)

All canvas work is in this blue thing:

Here's what they look like in all their glory on zee bed:

The four canvases on the left are all painted, and the top center one is painted and came with a stitch guide. All of the others are counted canvas (mostly Laura J. Perin, because y'all know how much I love LJP).

I put all of the cross stitch in a basket because the blue thingie was full. This, of course, is indicative of the problem with having so many open WIP's....when you can't find a basket or container large enough to hold 'em all, it's time to get crackin' and get something finished!

And since I know you're just dying to see them, here they are on zee bed:I suppose that this would be a good place to reveal my obsession with those mesh project bags. I'm pretty sure that Aunt Chrissy and I have enough of them to build a rather large flotation device, or perhaps we could landscape a small city with them? Either way, we were buying them like rabbits until we gently reminded ourselves that they are, in fact, reusable. Uh, duh.

Now in case you're wondering why some of the projects are all in bags and some are left on scroll rods and q-snaps, it's because I went through such hell mounting those projects that I decided to just. leave. them. alone. Besides, if they're already mounted I'm more likely to do them. (Did that sound filthy, or am I still in a Paul Blart hangover?)

The good news is that after all of this organizing, I actually sat down and stitched a little last night. I'm working on LHN's "My Needle's Work":

Sorry about the headless wonder there, but Stewey had an "incident" last night and I had to put all stitching away to attend to him. He was sleeping on the chair/ottoman and because the damn things are on the hardwood and not a rug, the ottoman slipped forward and he fell down in between and smacked his little head. I think it scared me more than it did him, because all he did was give me a dirty look and lift his leg on the corner of the stitchy table. (I guess he showed ME.) He's fine, but I promised him that I would rectify the situation immediately and get a rug under there for his protection. Damn dog.

On the subject of project books, I'm afraid that I can't take any credit at all for this. Aunt Chrissy is a famous stitchy journaler from way back, so I'm a total copy cat here. My project book is pretty simple....it's just a book in which I write all of the particulars of things that I've started.

I'm told that this will really come in handy someday when a fellow stitcher asks me what thread I used where, or what the name of the linen is, but I'm not holding my breath. If nothing else, I guess it's a quick reference for me to see what's started, what's finished, and what kind of crazy mess I'm in with all of the these WIP's. (Just think of this as the chest pain that you usually get before the heart attack. You want to ignore it and pretend it's indigestion, but you're much better off if you pay close attention to it and do something about it.)

I also keep a kooky little "diary" of sorts in which I write down what I worked on that day (or other pithy reminders that I'm a boob). This is kind of fun because it gives me a snapshot of my year in stitches. (And, yes, I'm aware of the obvious fact that this here blog ALSO does that, but I keep waiting for somebody to throw me outta' here and I want to have some type of record of my stitchy existence before the Google gods determine that I'm not fit for public consumption.)

So those are all the intimate details of my stitchy life. I realize that this was somewhat akin to peeking in my underpants drawer, so thanks for making it this far before deleting me from your blog list forever. Yes, I am aware that most of what I do is just. not. normal. but as I've said before, this stitchy thing of ours keeps me off the streets and away from trouble.

I'm off to the Happy Chair with a diet Pepsi. (What can I say? It was on sale, so we're learning to drink it until diet Coke has it's turn). Stewey has informed me that I need to check the garden and get a load of laundry done or there will be no peace in the kingdom, so I'd better get moving. Ciao!

Jul 26, 2009


I can't move my arms or legs without excruciating pain, and I'm pretty sure that my fingernails will never grow back, but I am happy to report that Chez Spinster is now officially clean. All of this, of course, is thanks to Aunt Chrissy, who gave up seven hours of her life yesterday to help me dust, sweep, puff, fluff, and grunt this house into tidy submission. Methinks I need to buy her something as a thank you. Like a small country. Or an airplane.

The guest room is all ready for some company! Stewey wanted me to add that the bed is very comfortable and between the smooshy mattress pad and the lovely t-shirt sheets, one can really get a good snooze here:

This is the guest bathroom. I found that poster a few years ago and just love the colors in it. (And yes, it drives me absolutely nuts that the guest room is yellow and red and the guest bath is orange, but that's a battle for another day):

Man o' manachavitz, but there was dust to be found! And I'm pretty sure that Aunt Chrissy found enough Stewey pee to float a boat. (I could hear her disgust as she worked away in the office and guest bath). I managed to get the living room done and even re-arranged the furniture. And you will be quite happy to know that we even dusted the pot shelf! On a ladder and everything! Thank goodness there are electrical outlets up there, since we were able to use the vacuum quite easily! Woo Hoo!

I hate the new furniture arrangement, of course, but that's just because I am a creature of habit and can't stand anything out of my comfort zone. I promised that I would leave things alone for one week, and if I still don't like it I can move it all back.

On the stitchy front, I have decided that I would really like to finish some things before November gets here and I'm jonesing for Christmas. So to that end I have vowed to only work on WIP's until such time as November 1st rolls around. I looked in my project book and it would seem that I have 33 projects started. 33. This astounds even me, thus the new plan.

Now for those of you who have read this here blog more than once or twice, you already know that this new plan will last all of ten minutes before I get bored and decide on a new one. I have made these kind of promises before, and what can I say? I'm just not at all dependable. (Oh well, at least I'm consistent in that.)

Today is a Happy Chair kind of day. Aunt Chrissy and Bosco will be here shortly to join in the festivities. I've got "Paul Blart, Mall Cop", "Ironman", and "Rachel Getting Married" all fired up and ready to go, so it will be an interesting movie day. The first two are totally NOT our kind of movies, but we had so much fun watching "The Dark Knight", that we decided to channel our inner twelve year old boys and just get on with it. Besides, both Aunt Chrissy and I LOVE Kevin James, and who couldn't watch a little Robert Downey Jr. on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Thanks for stopping by! I promise....no more cleaning reports. I'm all done now and fully intend to let this place slip back into its Grey Garden self real soon.

Jul 23, 2009


My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's sitting in the Happy Chair with her eyes glazed over muttering to herself. All I know is that she invited Aunt Chrissy over for dinner and then at the last minute she said "Stewey, methinks I'm going to make the fruit pizza that your Aunt Paulette from Plum Street featured on her blog". Forty-five minutes later the old lady and my Aunt were going face first into their dessert bowls and Bosco and I were looking for shelter.

So now I'm wondering how long it'll be before she snaps out of her bliss coma and takes me outside for a potty break. Do you see what happens here, people? My mo-ther overindulges herself and then screams bloody murder when I can't hold it anymore and have to water the drapes. Sheesh.

I can pretty much guarantee you that there will be NO stitchy report tomorrow. It's already 10:30 in the p.m. and I'm a half hour past my bed time.
I could have thrived with a more intelligent owner.


Sometimes I really wonder about myself. I like to think that I go about the business of my day like most folks do, but then something happens that makes me scratch my head in wonder and go running for the self-help aisle at Borders.

In the photo above, you'll see the latest progress on "Shenandoah Spring". Looks pretty good, doesn't it? Now while most people would be thinking to themselves "Gee, that's a really pretty design and lovely color palette", all I could think last night was "Why can't my Ginghers be just a TITCH closer to the floss colors."

Eye yai yai. For about seven hours last night I sat in the Happy Chair laying floss and lusting over Gordon Ramsey on the TeeVee, but my eyes kept darting over to the arm of the chair on which the offending scissors were perched. I OBSESSED about these damn scissors. At one point, I think I even contemplated heading upstairs to the studio to see if I had any acrylic paint or possibly a magic marker that would enable me to modify the color of the handles just a TITCH to get it into a more suitable tonal pattern.

The TITCHES will eventually be the death of me, I'm sure. I seem to fixate on something that is perfectly acceptable in whatever form it is, but my brain tells me that if it were just a little teeney tiny TITCH to the left or to the right or fatter or thinner or bigger or smaller then I'd be happy. Then I obsess about the TITCH until I get tired and cranky and call it a night.

So today, as I type this I look at the scissors and say to myself "Who knew I had scissors that were so perfectly matched to this project? Woo Hoo for me!". And then I go slice a peach and get on with my day.

Do you suppose there's a drug for this?

Jul 21, 2009


Oh, for pity's sakes...get your heads out of the gutter. I'm a spinster after all, so quickies for me usually refer to meals, showers, and/or glances at the evening news.

1) Needlepoint terms that I butchered and misused in my last post: Sorry, kids. I usually think of the stuff that I do in terms of a few basic categories. My names for these categories are probably not correct, but here's the definitions of them that I use/misuse on a regular basis:

a) Cross stitch...just what it says. Work that is mostly defined with a "X" stitch on linen.
b) Counted canvas or canvas work...this is stuff I do on canvas that uses a chart.
c) Painted canvas...when the design is already painted onto the canvas.
d) Hardanger...well, it's..um....hardanger.
e) Crewel...this one is done on ulster linen and usually uses a sharp needle and wool yarn.

I call both "b" and "c" needlepoint since they both use stitches that are found in "needlepoint" books. I always think of needlepoint as mostly basketweave/tent stitch and/or "specialty" stitches like rhodes stitches, jessicas, etc. I think, though, that needlepoint could refer to ANY stitching that's done on canvas, regardless of the stitches.

OK, since I've screwed that up enough for one day, I highly encourage you to go to your reference books and straighten it all out for yourselves. Then make a mental note that I am a boob.

2) Well, you just knew that I'd screw up the shark thing now, didn't you? Thanks To Delfi for explaining that "jump the shark" means a decline in quality. I suppose this means that Happy Days was, in fact, a good show until the shark episode. After that, the series declined. The fact that I got this one TOTALLY wrong makes me think I need to turn in my NPR membership card.

Oh well, what can I say? Sometimes a girl just needs to make stuff up.

Panic, chaos, and disorder. My work here is done.


NOTE: This is a really long and ridiculously over-pictured post. If you already know how to do counted canvas work, please humor me for a day and go do something else while muttering to yourself about what a boob I am. If you don't know how to do it and would like to read some really amateur blatherings about it, then by all means, proceed.

I have received several questions about counted canvas and how one transitions from cross stitch. Now I know that there are probably a bazillion stitchers out there who are better qualified to do this, but I thought I would post some really quick notes about it. If you want more detailed information, please send me your email address and I'll be happy to assist or at least point you in a more-qualified direction.

First let me say that some counted canvas is actually easy and very satisfying! (In other words, if I can do it, anybody can do it). If you can read a counted cross stitch chart (or just read, in general), then you shouldn't have any problems figuring it out. Most designers' charts are quite excellent, and my experience has been that if you get totally stumped on something there is usually somebody out there who can guide you through.

The best place to start (as it usually is), is with your materials. Canvas work is usually done on mono canvas, which is different than interlock canvas, penelope canvas, and plastic canvas. It comes in various counts, but for most of the counted canvas pieces that I've done, 18ct. canvas has been called for. Mono canvas also comes in various colors and is also available with a "marbleized" effect, which is really pretty if a lot of the canvas shows through the stitching. I'm sure there are several manufacturers out there, but I have always used Zweigart mono canvas since that is what my LNS sells.

(You can also do canvas work on Congress cloth, which for me is kind of a "canvas lite". IMHO, it's the mid-point between mono canvas and linen.)

(Come to think of it, you could probably do canvas work on evenweave linen, but then it wouldn't be called canvas work, now, would it?)

Artist's tape has been a life-saver for me. I know that you can also apply a fabric border to the canvas with a machine, but I'm not allowed to use machinery without adult supervision and Aunt Chrissy can't exactly run over here every ten minutes to make sure I don't break the sewing machine (yet again). You can also use masking tape, but I will tell you that it does eventually yellow and break down over time (trust me on this). Artist's tape can be found at art supply stores, or you can check out Janet Perry's new online shop. Methinks this is an excellent resource (and it's brand new! Woo Hoo!). (You might also want to bookmark her blog, since she really IS qualified to tell you all about needlepoint, and I'm just faking it: http://www.nuts-about-needlepoint.com/.)
Once you've edged your canvas with tape (or fabric), you'll want to mount it to stretcher bars. I know that some people prefer to work in-hand, but I think canvas work is much much easier if you've stretched your canvas tightly onto stretcher bars. Don't worry...these suckers are relatively inexpensive and they ARE re-usable, even if I insist on buying sets of them every time I turn around. (The stretcher bars are the wood thingies in the pic that form the frame.)

Mounting the canvas to the stretcher bars should be done as tightly as possible, and you should use specialty brass tacks. (The red handled thingies in the pic are tools that you can use to push the tacks in without smooshing your thumbs and fingers. Technical term: smoosh.) Again, you can find these on Janet's site, and you can also purchase them at your LNS or craft store. I think the most important thing you want in a tack is a non-rust coating or material. I suppose if you're a really fast stitcher and your piece will only be on the stretcher bars for ten minutes you'd be OK with any old tacks, but I'm slow and need to make sure I won't end up with rusty edges by the time I'm finished.
You'll need to mark the center of your canvas, and you can do this either before or after it's mounted. I know that I am supposed to do it before, but I always forget. Mark the center with a lovely little pin or pencil mark and you're ready to go!

When I wanted to learn how to do counted canvas, my LNS owner suggested Laura J. Perin's American Quilt Series. This was an excellent choice for me, since I was able to read the charts very easily and I could play around with colors without getting myself too confused. Laura usually starts the piece with a variegated cotton (like Watercolors), and then adds solid color perle cottons as compliments. Finally, she usually has a metallic of some sort to add a little sparkle to the design.
The most important thing I can tell you about counted canvas work is to READ THE DIRECTIONS! The designer included them for a reason, and in Laura's case, she even tells you the order in which to stitch so that you'll get good results. If you're one of these people who can assemble an Ikea bookcase without even glancing at the instructions, then bully for you. If you're like me, however, and need a little stitchy angel guide sitting on your shoulder, then take a few minutes to read read read. You'll really be better off. Trust me.
Reading a counted canvas chart is not very difficult once you get the hang of it. Just remember that the chart is representative of the actual canvas. If a line ends in the middle of a box, that represents a thread going into a hole in the canvas. And if you're wise enough to purchase a color printed chart, you shouldn't have any problems deciphering the designer's thread suggestions. (If you change colors, you might actually want to write those on the chart instead of forgetting to do this and then sitting in the Happy Chair for ten minutes wondering what the hell you did.)

That's it! Stitch away to your heart's content!

If you're like me and you want toys, buy yourself some lovely magnets to hold your needles. (I always put my magnet on the upper right of the canvas so that I know which way is top, but you could certainly write the word TOP on the top if that's the way you roll). You might also want to invest in some extra scissors for canvas work, especially if you're going to use metallic threads. I bought a cheapie pair and then put an "M" on the blade with a Sharpie so that I would know those are my metallic scissors and I don't ruin my fancy pants scissors by cutting things I shouldn't cut with them.

I hope that this was a little helpful to you if you're interested in trying a counted canvas piece. If you made it all the way through this and are still saying "Huh?", then send me a note and I'll try to help.

Thanks, as always, for all of your comments and questions and suggestions. When I sit down to write this silly blog each day I feel like I'm sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea...chatting with my bestest stitchy pals, so thanks for indulging me! Woo Hoo!

Here are some resources that I use for all of my counted canvas (and other stitchy) needs. If you have a LNS, then by all means, please support them! (And pass along their info so that we can all spread the love).

Laura J. Perin: http://www.laurajperindesigns.tripod.com
Nordic Needle: http://www.nordicneedle.com
Homestead NeedleArts: http://www.homesteadneedlearts.com
Tomorrow's Heirlooms: http://www.tomheir.com
Needle Delights: http://www.needledelights.com
Needle Nest: (574) 255-1805
City Stitcher: (312) 664-5499

*Jump the shark, you say? OK, hearken back to "Happy Days" and remember the episode when Fonzie takes on the dare to jump his motorbike over a pool with a shark in it. I wish I could tell you exactly how that's relevant to this discussion, but I wanted to pretend that I actually know stuff and could share some obscure pop culture reference and you'd think me to be a genius. So there.

Jul 20, 2009


My first veggie garden experience is turning out to be....um...well...interesting.

Last night Aunt Chrissy dutifully checked on the garden patch and came in with a funny look on her face and the advice that we should probably look into this whole "cucumber situation".

Now, considering I've never grown cucumbers before, what I am about to show you might actually be very normal (and you'll really think I'm a boob), but I'm a little mystified:
Is this normal?

If it IS, then I have a LOT to learn about farming and growing one's produce.

If it's NOT, then I'm going to christen these the world's very first "Zaftig Cucumbers Grown By a Very Spastic Spinster (and her little dog too)" and call it a day.

On Saturday I helped Aunt Chrissy re-organize her stitching studio and then Stewey and I hung out until the wee hours with she and Bosco. I worked a little on "Blooming with Inspiration" but got ridiculously bored with it, so yesterday I picked up:

Don't look too closely at this one, or you'll be horrified by the amount of GLUE that I'm using to hold all of the slippery Neon Rays down. GLUE! On a canvas!

Please don't give me too much grief. I struggled with this sucker for months until a little voice in my head said "They make fabric glue and stitchy glue for a reason, BoBo, so go ahead and tack this crap down and get on with it". So I did.

Tonight is grocery night and I am determined to get something fabulous so that I can channel my inner Ina. I grilled salmon last night and it was pretty tasty (if I do say so myself), so I'm anxious to see what else I can play with. (In case you're interested, I made a simple marinade for the fish: olive oil, dijon mustard, soy sauce, and minced garlic). It was lovely. Just lovely.

Stewey's out on the back patio sunning himself and listening to the radio, so I'd better go check up on him. If he doesn't turn over every ten minutes he gets an uneven tan and then bitches about it for days, so I'd like to avoid that if I can. Damn dog.

Jul 17, 2009


My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's been overcome by the vapors. This morning she read the comment by Stitchy Aunt Sandra asking if she could be pregnant, and she fainted dead away right there on the spot.

If, in fact, my mo-ther was anything remotely near the "with glorious child" state, we better get ready for the tour buses full of pilgrims clutching their rosary beads. I suspect that the multi-national attention that this news would garner would be much like the sighting of the BVM(*) that folks often see in water stains on the sides of houses.

So, no...Mommie Dearest is not expecting anything other than me peeing on the drapes and looking adorable while doing it. But thanks for asking.

We're off to the weekend (as is evidenced by the mumus coming out of the closet and the blender getting ready for the mocktails). Aunt Chrissy will be here shortly to join in the opening ceremonies, so I'd better get moving. Have a splendid weekend, kids!


(*) Apparently, this is a Catholic thing....Mom uses it whenever she and Aunt Chrissy talk about some nice lady named Mary.

Jul 16, 2009


One of my all time favorite movies is "Mommie Dearest". Forgetting all of the emotional and physical trauma that she inflicted on those around her, I watch in fascination as Joan Crawford cleans everything in her path to within an inch of its life. And, she does this while wearing high heals and shoulder pads.

Whenever Aunt Chrissy and I attempt yard work, we invariably call each other that evening and start the conversation with "Well, I just Joan Crawforded the bushes out front". (You need to remember the infamous rose garden scene here in which Joan yells (quite dramatically, by the way)...."CHRISTINA! Bring me the ax!", and then she proceeds to hack away at a ten foot tree.)

Anywhoose, I thought of Ms. Crawford yesterday as I sprinkled the Comet Cleanser all over my bathroom and then proceeded to scrub and scrub and scrub until the shine on the faucets was blinding. And when Stewey was silly enough to poke his head in to see what the hell I was up to, I said "Stewey, Mommie's not mad at you....she's mad at the DIRT!", much like Joan did when she inspected the living room and discovered that the maid had not moved the potted palm.

Please don't ask me to explain why I am in this hyper-diligent mode of taking my house apart. I'm trying not to think about it too much so that I don't scare away whatever it is that's making me motivated. If this keeps up, I might actually get the entire house done before dropping dead in a sweaty pile of mess.

I am stitching a little in the evenings. I started "Blooming with Inspiration" by Blue Ribbon Designs a few days ago and am really enjoying it. I am leaving blank areas in each section on purpose so that I can tart this thing up with a ton of beads once I've finished stitching it. Methinks I'm channeling the "Joyful Summer" piece that I did last year.
Stewey has decided that the best way to spend his summer is napping in a little patch of sunshine, so I'll leave you with my Annie Liebowitz-ish contribution of the day:

"If I'm here long enough, will she try to polish me too?"

Jul 14, 2009


"Today, I celebrate zee Frensch. I'm going to oui on zee drapes."

My mom can't come to the blog right now. She's too busy making me French Toast for my brunch. I read that it is Bastille Day today, so I thought it only fitting that we celebrate accordingly.

My only comment about yesterday's post is that I am MORTIFIED that she decided to share pictures of our closet with you all. If you look closely, you will see that all of MY clothes and accessories are stored in a PLASTIC BIN on the top shelf. PLASTIC!

Doesn't' this woman know what PLASTIC will do to cashmere?

Enjoy your day, people. I'm off to find my little beret!


Jul 13, 2009


I'm not sure what has come over me, but today found me in my closet with the vacuum cleaner in hand and a ruthless determination to clean that sucker to within an inch of it's life. Mission accomplished, but I am so tired and sore that it will be a miracle if I make it out of the Happy Chair tonight.

(As with everything else in my life, it would seem that I am proverbially behind with the whole Spring Cleaning thing. By about six years.)

(And yes, in case you were wondering...those are indeed my mumus hanging on the back of the door. One must have something colorful in which to laze about now, mustn't one?)

(The Snoopy picture is actually a puzzle that Aunt Chrissy and I put together one night long ago. I ModPodged it and look at it every day wondering how I could turn that into a needlepoint canvas. Wouldn't that just be the coolest?)

Since I finished my LJP last night, I have to head up to the studio to paw through my baskets to see what's next on the stitchy agenda. I'm waffling between picking up a cross stich (maybe a Shepherd's Bush?) or a painted canvas (maybe the Cooper Oaks floral?) or another counted canvas design (how about AmyBear's Fascination?). Isn't it a crying shame that this will be the most important thing I have to decide today?

I seem to remember a fabulous rotation system that I swore to abide by several months ago. What the hell happened to THAT? And the best part is that instead of feeling like a schmuck because I abandoned the darn thing, I just kind of went "eh" in my head and moved on. Man, am I a paragon of discipline, or what? Good thing I never had kids, or they'd be running around with scissors while paying in traffic with plastic bags over their heads. Sheesh.

Stewey wanted me to thank you all for the suggestion that he listen to the Harry Potter books on his iPod. He has decided to read them on his Kindle instead so that he will feel adequately prepared to advance to the next reading grade level in the Fall. Besides, he's convinced that somebody is eventually going to have to be in charge around here, and if there are any directions needing to be read upon my demise, he wants to be fully prepared. Damn dog.


Today I had the bright idea that it was time to clean my bedroom. I mean really clean. Like move the bed and everything.

Now for most people this wouldn't be a very big deal, but for me it meant a call to Aunt Chrissy to ask her to come over to help me with the big girl sleigh bed. I love my bed, I really do. It was my first purchase as a real grown-ass adult and I loved it the moment I saw it. But it's big. Really big. And heavy too.

Within seven seconds, Aunt Chrissy had rummaged through the laundry room cabinets to find the slidy-discy thingies that I bought on impulse from QVC about ten years ago. Then after she channeled her inner Incredible Hulk, she lifted each corner of the big girl sleigh bed and stuck one of the slidy-discy thingies under it. MAGIC! Woo Hoo! I was able to slide the whole bed around as if it was gliding across a frozen pond.

Seven hours later and I can honestly say that every nook and cranny of that room has been adequately cleaned, polished, and spiffed up to within an inch of it's life:

(Oh, holy crap! I forgot that the coverlet is still in the dryer! So you can see my crappy bed-making skills and a messy blanket hanging over the edge! Oh no! Please don't tell Martha!)

The real reason I wanted to show you this picture was so that you could see the slidy-discy thingies. See?

After a quick trip to the grocery store (avocados were on sale, don't you know), I settled in for the night with LJP's "Star Spangled Quilt" and....woo hoo for me!.....finished it! I am so tickled with this finish. Now if I can just figure out what to do with it:

Laura J. Perin
"Star Spangled Quilt"
18ct. mono canvas
Watercolors, DMC #5 perle cotton, Kreinik 1/16th ribbon

Well, the clock is telling me that it's time to find a pillow. Stewey has been a real trooper during the cleaning festivities today, so I want to spend a little cuddle time with him before I pass out. He asked me to start reading the Harry Potter books to him, but I think we'll need to start them tomorrow night. Mommie's tired.

(And yes, I do read to my dog every night. Methinks it's why he's smarter than I am.)

Jul 9, 2009


I am fairly certain that my nine-pound bundle of joy is beating me with a blunt instrument in my sleep. Yesterday I awoke with what can only be described as a "twisty" feeling in my lower back, and by noon it had progressed to actual pain.

Now I know that I am a fine physical specimen of what happens to you when your most strenuous activity of the day is pulling the cover off your Ginghers, but this is ridiculous. Today I am shuffling around the house muttering "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" as I contemplate how much trouble it would be to put the damn dog into a night night cage at bedtime. The current state of affairs is that he is lifted gently up onto the big girl sleigh bed and then he nuzzles down under the covers for his shut-eye. This leaves me to contort myself into odd shapes so that I don't disturb him. God forbid.

Well tonight I'm putting the proverbial foot down and demanding that I get more than a scant two and a half inches on which to perch for the night. If he insists on taking up that much room, I can accommodate him quite nicely by sleeping in the guest room. (Insert obvious eye-rolling here. Yes, I KNOW he's a dog but unfortunately HE doesn't know he's a dog. So until somebody explains this to him, I am better off just working with the current state of affairs around here and calling it a day).

I'm smacking myself in the head that my stitchy progress is sooooo small these last few days. I don't feel like I've had any good extended time in the Happy Chair to get this piece done, so I need to change that immediately.

(For the record, I'm blaming all of you. If you wouldn't insist on having so many lovely things to look at on your blogs, then I wouldn't be compelled to read them for hours every day and I could get on with things. So stop it. Please.)

The baseboards did not get touched yesterday, but I did manage to write a Spring Cleaning list in my head that will certainly be useful once I decide to start said Spring Cleaning. (I'm aiming for the Fall of 2010, in case you're interested.)

In the meantime, methinks I need to plant my heiney and get a'movin on this project!

Jul 8, 2009


Well, here's the latest pic of my progress on LJP's "Star Spangled Quilt". I'll admit that this should have been finished yesterday, but I was too busy dehydrating myself while bawling through the Michael Jackson memorial.

I wish I could explain myself. I mean, I never actually knew that I was a Michael Jackson fan. Sure, I watched the Thriller video with all of my friends like everybody else, and I imagine that I even made a fool of myself once or twice on a dance floor trying to do the moonwalk. But cry over a televised memorial service for somebody that I hadn't paid attention to in 25 years?

As I contemplated the waterworks sprouting from my eyeballs, I finally decided that what was killing me is that no matter what your opinion of the guy....he was somebody's dad. And he was somebody's son. And somebody's brother. And THEN! when his little daughter decided to tell the whole world that she thought her daddy was the best father you could ever imagine, I thought I was going to have a stroke over the sadness of it all. (I'm pretty sure that my insides are made entirely of marshmallow fluff, but there are worst things I could be than a sappy fool, I guess.)

So today is all about leaving Neverland and smacking myself right back into the reality of Chez Spinster and its upkeep. Stewey and I are up to our eyeballs in laundry, and I've promised to finish it completely before moving on to anything fun. I should be on my hands and knees washing baseboards, but one must pace oneself, mustn't one?

Jul 6, 2009


So there I was, minding my own business, when I decided to settle in for my daily dose of stitchy blog reading. I do this every day, but I have now tried to use this time as a reward for when I actually accomplish something more than finishing my first cup of coffee in the morning. (Amazing how you can sit down to start looking at them and suddenly it's 3pm!).

Anywhoose....I was blown back in my chair by Ms. Stitch Bitch Her Very Self's Blog and the last few posts and discussions about art vs. craft and other things. I was immediately riveted, especially since I had to read and then re-read everything about ten times before my silly-assed brain could comprehend it.

Y'all should probably know that at one time I was actually capable of carrying on an adult conversation that included more than my now ever-present "woo hoos" and "anywhooses". I actually read books and wrote papers and understood more than a handful of big words. I could intelligently offer an opinion about something, defend a thesis, and even constuct a proper paragraph without needing the grammar checker thingie on the computer.

What the hell happend to me? My brain is now mush and I seem to be operating on the Kelly Bundy method of life (you know....if a new thing goes into my brain then an old thing needs to come out since there's only so much room in there). I am, in short, dumber than a bag of hammers.

Oh well. I suppose that every village needs an idiot, so.... here I am!

Stitching this weekend was made easy by the use of a floor stand. I haven't been very good about using one, especially since I didn't think it was compatible with the Happy Chair, but it turns out that I can adjust one of the arms to fit me just perfectly! (Why I didn't know this before is beyond me, but I highly recommend that the maker of these stands invests in an instructional video so that stitchers like me don't buy the darn things and then leave them up in their studios with dust on them because they don't know that you can move the arm thigie this way and that so that your needlework project sits in front of you properly and not on your boobs.)

Here's LJP's "Star Spangled Quilt":

I really love the colors Laura used for this...Watercolors "Flame"and "Night Sky". The metallic that I used is Kreinik 1/16th ribbon and I actually used my laying tool and got it nice and flat (gasp with astonishment if you must). I've enjoyed working on this so much that I think I'll keep going until it's finished. Then, if I really get my act together, I'll take it for framing rather than adding it to my too-large "finished, but unfinished" pile.

That's the report from Chez Spinster today, kids. I'm going to go sit down and try to think intelligent thoughts for a bit. This, of course, will mean that a nap will be required before I can even think about finishing the rest of the day.

"I wonder who my Mommie blamed for making her stupid before I came along?"

Jul 3, 2009


I'm not going to bore you with more tales of my ha-rumphing about the house looking for something to stitch, nor am I going to give you every bloody detail of my stitchy ennui (like I normally do). Instead, I will tell you that methinks I'm finally on the right path, thanks to Ms. LJP Her Very Self and my Stewey Little.

There I was, sitting in the Happy Chair (but not so happy). I just couldn't get it out of my head that the July 4th holiday is upon us and I didn't have one darn stitchy thing with which to celebrate it. As I absentmindedly flipped through the eleventy billion TeeVee channels I have(would you be shocked to discover that there wasn't anything on?), my little nine-pound furry dog jumped up into my lap, stared deeply into my eyes and said "Mo-ther, I've just about had enough of this moping around. Either snap out of it or go take a nap. The heavy sighing and pussface is getting a bit old, especially for a woman of your "advanced years". So get up there into that studio and find something to do, or I'll find something for you."

I did manage to clean and organize the place to within an inch of its life, but I still couldn't find anything suitable for my mood. BUT! Just when I had given up hope, Stewey reminded me that I had not checked/read blogs that day and that there were sure to be many many lovely inspirations to be had.

Indeedie there was.....right there on Laura J. Perin's Blog It's Very Self! Woo Hoo! Picture after picture of wonderful projects that I started jonesing for the moment I saw them. So....

Here's one:

And here's another: Cool beans, huh? Now I have something to do for the next three days and I won't have to call Aunt Chrissy every ten minutes to see what she's doing and whether or not she and Bosco want to come over to "hang out". Now I can occupy myself in a fun and productive way and I won't feel one bit guilty about the housecleaning that's not getting done and the laundry that refuses to put itself away. I might even actually enjoy my cookout weenie all the more now that it will come with tons and tons of stitchy time.

So, my dear stitchy reader/blogger friends....I hope that wherever you are this weekend is perfectly splendid and that you get to do whatever your heart desires. For my USA buddies..Happy 4th! Woo Hoo!

OH! P.S. Somebody asked me the other day if I have a favorite memory of a July 4th holiday. I do! I had just moved to New Jersey and was soooooo lonely that I thought I would just die. The 4th fell on a Saturday that year, so I bravely held my own little pathetic cookout (one little hamburger and one little weenie on the grill), and then I took my beach chair down to the beach to watch the fireworks. The first ones came from Atlantic City, which was to my left (I lived in Margate), and after they were over, a new batch started from Ocean City, which was to my right. I think they shot them off from barges out in the ocean, because these gorgeous fireworks exploded right in front of you over the water. It was spectacular. Even better than that, though, was the fact that all of the people that were sitting around me were super nice and decided to take a poor little spinster under their wing for the night and keep her company. The End.

Jul 1, 2009


As you can see, I've moved from the VEGGIE-TATE-INN to the FIXI-TATE-INN. The first inn was fine (and very relaxing, I might add), but this new place seems to suit me better. At this inn, I fiddle about up in the studio until 4am, pawing through and re-arranging my stash until the dog tells me it's time to go to bed. I obsess and fixate on my stitching and I start mumbling to myself that I'm finally going to get into some kind of stitchy groove or Aunt Chrissy is going to come over and break my fingers so that I can't stitch at all. (She would never do such a thing, but the threat of it makes me get my proverbial act together.)

It all started when I decided that I would like to pull out all of my "Americana" stitching and set up festive tableau throughout Chez Spinster. Great idea, right? Well, my great idea was smacked in the forehead when I discovered that this is my entire "Americana" stitchy collection:

Holey Schmoley....how pitiful is this? One lousy little piece of stitching to celebrate the gool ol' U.S. of A. AND! If you look closely, you'll see that this piece was done on 14ct Aida cloth with all DMC threads and THEN it's shamelessly stuck into a $2 Hobby Lobby frame. Good grief! I didn't even iron it first!

I am thoroughly disgusted with myself at this moment and am hanging my head in shame. So if you will excuse me, I am going to go up into the studio to find some things that I might work on to rectify this situation once and for all.

Note to self: Yes, it would be a FABULOUS idea to stitch according to a theme each month, but a) you have to decide on the themes, b) you have to make sure that you have enough stuff to fit within the theme and then c) YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY STITCH THE STUFF AND NOT GET ALL DISTRACTED AND ACT LIKE A 700 POUND HUMMINGBIRD!