Monday, December 13, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

What fun we had putting up our Christmas tree! My husband and I enjoyed looking at each ornament and remembering where it came from. Some ornaments were gifts to us, some are homemade, some are from places we have visited, and some are from our childhood. My 89-year-old Dad sat and watched all the activity, just smiling away.

We always hang up our stockings early because we enjoy looking at them so much. When Michael and I were first married, I stitched these two stockings. These were the third and fourth projects I ever stitched, and they are entirely done in cross stitch. My dear friend Val "finished" them for me -- she's awesome!!

The dinosaur ornament was one Michael was given during his childhood. It's very fragile and we handle it with tender loving care!

One year I made a lot of these little felt mice and gave them out as gifts. I'm so glad I kept one for myself!

This ornament was made during the recent Mystic Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat. Belinda Karls-Nace of Blue Ribbon Designs was the instructor. She was awesome! We learned great finishing techniques from her.

Doesn't every stitcher have at least one frog on their tree?!? Hehehehe....

What about an alligator in high heels and pink ribbons?

A decked out gargoyle? Hmmmm....maybe the rumors are true....Michael and I just might never grow up.

The creche was made by my Mom! She was really into ceramics when I was a little girl. She would have made these in the early 1950's. My Dad made the manger.

We really enjoy Christmas at my house but, like many others experience, there will also be a little sadness as my mother passed away this year at the age of 90. To think that I was blessed to have almost 90 Christmases with her! Amazing.

Here's my Mom with my older brother and me in 1951.

And here's one of me with my younger brother -- quite excited over our stockings on Christmas morning!

I was remembering today how I came to my Dad as a young girl and asked him if there was really a Santa. He replied, "What do you think?" I told him I wasn't sure and that some of the kids at school said there wasn't. He said, "Well, you'll find out." Oh, how I wanted him to tell me that YES, there was a Santa...but he didn't. So I went to bed that night not really sure about anything.

The next morning when I woke up -- the living room had been transformed, stockings filled, and presents under the tree. Of course, I was very excited...but I still wasn't sure about Santa. And then...I went over to the fireplace to get my stocking and happened to look inside the fireplace! There was a HUGE footprint in the ashes!!! WOW!! Was I ever excited! It never occurred to me that anyone but Santa would have left that footprint there, so I was a very enthusiastic believer again -- LOL!!

Just recently Santa dropped by for a visit at the Mystic retreats. Santa and I are old friends after these many years. It was great to have Belinda meet him, too!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Adventures with Dad!

My Dad is 89 years old and lives with my husband and me. He's adorable. He also has dementia from some mini-strokes. His short term memory is shot. But one thing he had been clear about for well over a year was his desire to go to the National Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, VA and the National WW II Memorial in D.C. Finally, on November 1, my brother Lee, his wife Mary, and I were able to make that dream come true for Dad.

It took us a whole day to get there from Connecticut, and the journey left Dad a bit disoriented and tired, but after a good night's sleep he was no worse for the wear, so off we went to the Museum. See, Dad was a Marine during WW II. Actually, it seems that it is true that "Once a Marine, always a Marine" because Dad has maintained the Marine crew cut and disciple all these years! I would say that the two things that impacted my father's life the most are his faith in God and his time in the Marines. He later wrote a book about his adventures:

We didn't really know what to expect at the Museum, except that we knew there would be a lot of Marine history. Wow, was there ever! The place is huge and the exhibits take you from 1775 through the Vietnam War days. We ended up being there for 7 hours!

The Museum's soaring design is meant to evoke the image of the flag raisers of Iwo Jima.

In the WW II section, Dad saw many of the weapons that he once used.

On the way home we stopped at the WW II Memorial. We were all seeing it for the first time and were quite impressed. It was a very well-planned and thoughtful tribute. This shot was taken at the entrance to the memorial.

There were some incredible brass reliefs along the entry way that depicted U.S. involvement in the war. They were each about 4' by 1.5'. The first was one that showed Americans receiving word of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, then it showed people enlisting, various armed forces, battles, people back in the States doing their part, and finally the people returning home and to their loved ones. I took a bazillion pictures but they are too much to post here. However, here is one of the news of Pearl Harbor. I wish the picture could do it better justice.

I hope that all who read this will have the opportunity to see this amazing memorial

This was an amazing adventure for my Dad, and we were all so happy to be able to do this with him and help make his dream come true.

I often wonder what our world would be like today if the young men and women of that generation didn't step up to the plate and give of themselves so willingly. Someone made a comment to my Dad about his being the "Greatest Generation". My Dad didn't agree. He felt that they might instead have been the "Most Challenged Generation." He believes in his heart that the youngest generation today would do the same if faced with the same circumstances.

To all our WW II vets, I offer a big THANKS for the freedom we enjoy in this country today!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mystery Solved!

Finally I've learned about the piece of needlework I found in a Vermont antique shop that had me stumped! After looking on-line quite a bit, I became convinced that I was looking at chain stitch made with a tambour hook.

As I researched further, I found a tambour expert -- Robert W. Haven -- and sent him pictures of the piece. Wow! Did I ever get some answers!

First of all, Bob Haven is an Associate Professor of Costume Technology and Costume Director at the University of Kentucky. His background is amazing!

Bob says it was definitely worked with a tambour hook and explained how he could tell. He thought that the darker threads were far less puffy, indicating that the core is wrapped in something, probably a gilt or foil covered paper as was common. He said it was difficult to know its age and that the tambour hook was not a common embroidery tool even in the "old days." The art was not widely known in the US so it could have been made by someone who came from Europe in the 19th century.

Then he said that the actual design has overtones of traditional English crewel work, but that I could also check out country French designs from both Canada and western Coastal France -- particularly areas around major ports / departure points to the Americas.

He further suggests that since it was never made up into anything, it might have been someone's "learning piece." It only contains the one chain stitch but executed very skillfully. "It's rather fun to imagine the hands that worked the piece, perhaps by gas light or even candlelight in a remote cottage in VT, or Canada. What other work did these same hands produce? In the hands of a good creative write this piece of hand work could be the basis of a potentially thrilling story!"

Spoken like a true needlework addict!! I have at least some of the mystery solved -- and that opened up a great opportunity! I invited him to give a lecture at the Sturbridge 2011 Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat! He's got a great sense of humor and has come up with a lecture topic: "From Curiosity to Addiction, a Journey through Needlework with no Road Map." I am so excited about this!! My husband and I are both looking forward to meeting him in person!

Here's a picture of Bob doing tambour beading.

And here's a link about Bob's very interesting background and the lecture he'll be giving at Sturbridge on July 8th.

There are some great links on the bottom of that page about him. In addition to tambour beading and costume design, he enjoys miniature doll houses! He's made the most fascinating miniatures -- including itsy bitsy oil paintings. SO cool.

So...if things can ever calm down for me, I'd like to do some research to see if I can recognize the design in my little antique! But right now...I've just opened registration for the Sturbridge retreat and things will be hopping for awhile! LOL!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

It just now took me 5 minutes to figure out how to make a new post! Pathetic!

Would anyone like to solve a mystery for me? I found this piece of rather old looking stitched linen among a pile of white hankerchiefs in an antique store. The piece is done entirely in chain stitch. I can tell that it is done almost entirely in silk threads -- except for the dark brown, which feels very coarse. I've read that long ago it wasn't uncommon for people to use human or horse hair in their stitching. I could easily believe that it is horse hair in this case.

So the thing is, what's up with it being done entirely in chain stitch? Is this something that was popular during a certain period of time, and if so, during what time period? What country would this style have originated from and was it common in the USA at some point? Does anyone out there know?


Stitcher's Hideaway gets a blog!

Wow! Stitcher's Hideaway has just entered the world of blogging! I see that I have much to learn!

Here's me at the recent Stitcher's Hideaway Spooky Retreat (October 2009). I was given some really fun "frog" gifts from my friend Denise (Stitching Hippo). SO cool.