Monday, February 10, 2014

A new way of torture?

Not really but it is feeling a bit like it.

Today I am practicing the art of making Cluny Leaves which are used in tatting. Every time I attempt to learn a new technique, my poor fingers get the workout. This is definitely the case today with the cluny leaf. It is a bit like trying to walk and chew gum at the same time as the saying goes. At first, positioning my fingers in this manner and holding them in place has been quite awkward. I tried holding them precisely the way I saw it done in instructional videos ( I love youtube!) { video by Tatmantats  }and website directions { "Tatting Cluny Leaves by hand" }.  As well as having attended a live online class by Georgia Seitz  WELCOME TO THE HOME OF THE ONLINE TATTING CLASS I should be well on my way. I have found that what works best for me though is to come to terms with the basic technique and then figure out the best way for me to go about it while finding some way of doing it without undo stress on my arthritic fingers. This is actually very good exercise for them, keeps them more limber by keeping them in motion. Why go through all this bother? Anything worth learning and doing is worth learning and doing well. I know I will eventually have this mastered so long as my fingers survive the process. I would really like to make this doily but not until I have the art of making cluny leaves as a second nature. I also want to finish up a doily that I am currently in the process of making. My son Jared bought me this wonderful, wonderful book "Tatted Treasures" by Jan Stawasz for my birthday last month. It has some of the most breath-taking work I have ever seen! I am in the slow process of working the first doily from the book which is also on the cover of the book.  Here is your sneak peek!

Time to go "torture" my hands and fingers some more. I WILL get the cluny leaf mastered! 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Time flies while dealing with Fibromyalgia Syndrome

     Where has the time gone? Why is it that when your a child the time seems to just drag on forever at the snails pace but once you reach adulthood it speeds by about as fast as the roadrunner that teases the wily coyote? I would love so much for time to slow down some and let me enjoy each day just a little bit more. Maybe the fact that I recently celebrated my first 49th birthday and inching me ever so close to 50 that I am wanting the time to slow it's pace for just a little while. I tend to get so preoccupied with getting through each day that I often forget to sit back and just relax. I also forget to keep up with my posts on this blog. I keep saying I will do better about posting to it but it just seems to slip away from me. I wonder if I can blame it on Fibro fog, that nasty little condition that goes along with having Fibromyalgia. My oldest son, A.J. has noticed that I am really starting to show issues with my short term memory over the past 9 months or so. I have complained about it to my doctor and was told that it is time to start taking at least some of the drugs on the market to treat my Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I have been fighting against taking any of the drugs since 2003. Why? Well when I was diagnosed in 2000, I was placed on Vioxx. And we all know how dangerous that drug became. Such a shame because it did so much for my pain. I was later put on Celebrex and it worked for a short time then it became useless. I am now taking a high dosage of  prescribed naproxen twice a day for pain and another drug at bedtime that helps me to sleep without my legs convulsing. It has helped me tremendously to get the rest I need.  I no longer lay awake hour after hour waiting on my problem solving brain to shut down. I seem to fall asleep rather quickly now. I can now get through each day and bare the aching pain from having Fibromyalgia a little better.

      I had a rather weird experience recently. I have been sent to an orthopedic surgeon to help me with issues I have going on with my left foot and ankle that date back to 2007 when I fell down our stairs. I actually suffered 4 falls in less then 10 days. I blame my parents for giving me a middle name that means "graceful" Gravity was testing just how graceful I was! Anyhow due to complications from those falls, my left ankle and foot are in pretty bad shape. This Orthopedic surgeon put me on a super high dose steroid that I was to take for 6 days. The morning after the first day of taking it, I stepped out of bed and onto my feet and as I stood up bracing myself for the pain I have felt in my feet for the last 7 years and there wasn't any. No pain at all. Not only was it gone from my feet but it was gone from all of me! I could not believe it. I felt so free to move around. I started to make plans for all the things I would love to do again like taking long walks. It was overwhelming to feel so free of all pain. All those years in pain and now there was none. I was able to walk around and "window shop" without breaking into a sweat (always from increased pain) I did not get short of breath (another issue from pain) nor did my face become all red. It was amazing. I took my time and enjoyed my pain free outing. There was a very bad downside to this. The prescription ran out after 6 days and within 24 hours of taking the last dosage, my pain came back, all of it. It overwhelmed me and turned me into a couch potato for 4 days straight. I never really realized just how much pain I have been living with until it was all gone and then all back. I became so enraged by this. I am still in pain now but I have started to adjust to it again.  I will be seeing my doc next week and see what can be done to better help get the pain under control. In the meantime I am trying to keep my hands busy working on many different projects to help relax me and take my focus away from the pain day after day that I continue to live with. Speaking of which I do have updates on quite a few of my projects.

     Back in October my younger son Jared helped me get a sewing area set  back up so that I can enjoy sewing from time to time. I have a lot of back issues that have kept me from being able to sew for a long time. I am now able to sit at my machine for about an hour or so before I have to take a break from it. Within a day of helping me to get this area ready for me, my son told me about a best dressed Halloween contest at the store where he works. We put our heads together and came up with a plan of action. Jared wanted to dress as a pirate. So we found a pattern and put our game plan into action with just barely getting the costume completed in the nick of time.  Below is a photo of Jared posing in his costume. He absolutely loved it! He grew that beard to help sell the look of a pirate. I tried hard to convince him that he needed to tuck in his white shirt but he absolutely would not budge on it.

      I recently completed one of my older crochet projects. I made a griffin filet lace piece to match up with the dragon filet lace I made a few years ago. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out. 

Here you can see both pieces side by side. 

     I recently decided to get my tatting shuttles back out and play around some with that. It has only been two years now since I learned how to make tatted lace using shuttles. I learned  from watching videos on YOUTUBE.COM I rather enjoy tatting. Here are some of my recent tatting projects. I actually designed the trim on the handkerchief directly below. 

The doily was started last summer and was made from a pattern that was originally published in the 1920's. The thread I used was size 40 so it really made the doily very dainty to the touch. I am fairly pleased with the way it turned out. 

  I have this dresser scarf that I started back in late spring/ early summer. I am hand embroidering the cotton fabric and tatting the trim that is going to frame the cloth. I have the other end of the fabric to embroider yet and I need to finish all the tatting for the trim. I work on it from time to time and hope to complete it sometime in the next few months.

     As I mentioned I recently celebrated a birthday, well, one of my special gifts was from my husband Joe. He gave me this very special shuttle that I have wanted for quite some time now. It is handmade by the G8 shuttle brothers and designed by them as well. It is made from black walnut wood and holds two round bobbins to allow me to blend two separate colors together to create a unique color to tat with. I am still adjusting to using it but play around with it here and there to experiment and become used to the weight of it. It is quite considerably heavier then my regular shuttles. I am so pleased to finally own one. I do also enjoy collecting shuttles.

     I was gifted a couple bags of yarn last fall and decided to turn a good portion of it into a new afghan for my family. After some careful thought, I decided it was time for me to conquer working a ripple pattern. I am pleased to say I did manage it and found it was not nearly as tricky as I had always thought.  Of course I have a photo to show you. :)

    Lastly and as usual, I have several photos to share with you of updates to multiple cross-stitch projects.
First we have Le Grand Marquoir. I have a few blocks of the second page completed.

   I actually put in quite a lot of time working on the Sistine Chapel piece but unfortunately it goes at such a snails pace that I still have not quite reached the richer colors of the piece so it gets too boring for me to work on. I did grid out the various pages of chart thinking that I might start skipping about to work different pages here and there to break up the monotony I am experiencing in the drab color areas.

   I am finding that I really enjoy working on the Two Crowns piece. The dusty rose colored fabric is a dream to work on. The soft tone of it helps me to see my stitches better and has taught me that I really need to stop working on white fabric because the white has become rather blinding to me. I am finding the Two Crowns piece to be much easier to stitch.


    I recently pulled the Handblessings 2012 Diamonds piece out of hiding with the intent to finish it up over the next week or so. I really put in a lot of time on it yesterday and find it a very easy piece to stitch in comparison to the artwork pieces. I ran into a problem though. An annoying one. If you look closely at the last framed square at the bottom right you will notice the frame is not completed on the left side. I ran out of the specialty thread with only lacking 7 cross-stitches to go! Grrrrrrrr. I will have to make a trip over to my local needlework store and purchase more of that thread.

    This final piece is the mini Fairy Book design from the artwork of Nadia Strelkina and was charted by Heaven and Earth designs, the same company that charted Two Crowns and the Sistine Chapel pieces. I had not touched this piece since early summer and was recently inspired after seeing a friends stitching and commented that her stitching was tempting me to pull this piece out and work on it. Well another friend saw my comment in our Facebook group and politely challenged me to do it, to pull this peace out and work on it as well as taking a before and after photo. This was back on Sunday. I did get it out and worked on the area near the horses hoofs on the right side of the piece where I had become so bogged down with all the different shades of blue that I stopped all work on it last June. Thanks to the friends, I worked may way through it and finished that area. I have since moved on down and am happily working in colors that are not blue. LOL! After taking the photo earlier, I decided to remove the piece from the scroll frame and return to working it with a hoop instead. It was for self survival. The frame was actually becoming too heavy for me to hold due to the recent escalation of pain across the top of both of my shoulders from a new fibro flare up. Anyhow, I am pleased with my new progress and very thankful to my friends for helping me to get my stitching mojo back. :) I am considering focusing on this piece in particular and see if I can get this one finished this year. I might be overly hopeful in this but that is something I would dearly love to do.

Well these are the last of the goodies I have to share with you right now. Here I was thinking that I have not accomplished very much since June but now that I have included all the projects that I can remember working on, I see that I have actually done quite a bit.

 Until next time. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Wow, eight months and no updates, well we have had a crazy eight months since I last blogged with lots of changes in our little corner of the world. We celebrated our oldest son's 25th birthday back in late October. That was a bit sobering to think of him being a quarter century old. I still have visions of him as my little guy running around the house and singing songs in his high pitched voice which has long ago been traded in for a deep manly one. We decided to have a special cake made for the occasion.

A. J. did find it very humorous. Not sure what happened to the number 5 candle. He made sure to get photos of his cake with his phone and was showing them off at work. :) 

November brought huge changes for our family. My husband and son A.J. were both laid off from work so we have really had to pull together as a family and learn how to get by with less. It has been a very difficult time living on unemployment however that too has run out but thankfully Joe (due to all his serious health issues) has finally qualified for Social Security Disability. So now my husband is officially retired and we are learning how to adjust to the two of us always being at home together. This has really been huge for both of us. We are starting to get used to it though. :)  Joe had another medical emergency with congestive heart failure again back in February and was later diagnosed with stage three renal disease. He just had a  recent check up with the endocrinologist and things look good and stable right now, thankful for that. He also recently went through surgery for a ventral hernia (abdomen) and came through that just fine. This was his second hernia operation in just 4 years. 

As for me and all those issues with my knee after the fall I had in April 2011, well we finally had to get an mri and found that I have degenerative bone disease but I seem to be doing okay. Since the job loss, we also lost our insurance which is humbling so I am at the mercy of a medical clinic now for all my medical needs. Again, lots of life changes for us. I am learning to live with high blood pressure. We are having a little trouble getting mine down to a stable consistency. Mine is doing something really weird. It drops when I stand up causing dizziness and balance issues. We have no clue why it is doing this nor how to get it to stop. It does not do this every time I stand up but when it does, it almost knocks me out. I am hoping the new doctor I have can get this resolved and hopefully soon. The biggest thing for me has to be learning to avoid that salt shaker. I really miss it on my hard boiled eggs. :( The doc got me started on the "Dash" diet and I said good bye to eleven pounds so far. I am very happy about that and hope to keep those off and send more packing with them. LOL! Last night I was in the grocery store and had serious wardrobe malfunctions with my new jeans. They kept sliding down. I had to keep one hand holding on to them the whole time I was in the store. They used to fit better when I first bought them. Time to get to the sewing machine and alter stuff. 

Among our changes, my youngest son Jared started working for a grocery store near us. This is his first official employment. He seems to enjoy working and we are very proud of him. He looks so handsome in his store uniform shirt. :)

We lost a beloved family member last December just days before Christmas. Our 16 year old Siamese cat Sophie passed over the rainbow bridge. This was so hard for my family. Sophie will always have a special place in all of our hearts. 

It is weird the way the other animals have adjusted to her passing. Our youngest cat, Zelda a solid white rescue used to be very aloof but now she has become my constant companion of her own free will. Maybe she senses how grieved loosing Sophie has made me and she is trying to console me. Who knows for sure. All I can say is that she is never very far from where I am sitting and has developed a very loud purr. She is a very whimsical sort of cat, always looking for ways to grab my attention by getting into the things she knows she is not allowed to touch. She cracks me up. She and the dog get along really well together. 

I celebrated my 48th birthday in January. I am still adjusting to that number "48." I am not sure why this one is anymore different then the others. Maybe it is because I see 50 quickly approaching. I am in a few yahoo email groups and in one of them we have this cool little birthday club. Basically those that signed up for the club all send small gifts to each other on our birthdays. It was so much fun getting little goodies in the mail! These are the goodies I received on my birthday.

Now that the weather is so nice and warm outside I am challenging myself to sit outside in the fresh air and sunlight at least 15 minutes every morning and another 15 every evening. I used to live to be outdoors but over the years I have really become stuck indoors all the time. I am trying to change that and have found that I am craving those moments when I can sit outside in the peacefulness of nature. I feel healthier inside just from doing this every day. I strongly encourage everyone to do this for themselves. I have also decided to do some container gardening this year. I used to have three large garden beds in my back yard but the trees have really taken over the yard to where there just is not enough sunlight back there anymore. I hope my container veggies will do okay. The big issue right now is to keep this one very large fat squirrel out of the containers. I am slowly turning into Bill Murray from "Caddyshack" when it comes to chasing after this critter. This morning I had to re-plant a young tomato plant because the screwy squirrel had dug it up and tossed it to the side of the container. ARGH!!!!! 

I think this about catches up on all the changes over the last eight months. I did manage to work from my stash and create a few crafting projects and work some of my ongoing projects. So without further delay... on to the craft photos. :)

This is a beanie hat I designed and knitted for my son A.J.

This ornie is cross-stitched from the Just Cross stitch yearly ornament magazine. I designed and tatted the red lace used for hanging it. I also dyed the linen fabric. It is 32 count stitched 1 over 1. 

This is a cell know necklace I designed and crocheted. I have been mulling over the idea of making them to sell on 

Two more crochet cell phone pouch necklaces that I designed. 

These are two little felt Santa ornies from a kit I got from Herrschner's. Fun little projects. 

I am really pleased with the progress that I have made on this Heaven and Earth Design called Mini Fairy Book. I love the wild colors in this piece. 
The round magnet needle holder to the left was a birthday gift from my friend Kay Cahall. I love it!

Knit socks for Jared. Yup, those are his feet too. :)

Le Grand Marquoir. I love this piece! This is page one of multiple pages. I am working it on 25 count working one over one. 

 More progress on the puff stitch granny squares afghan. This is nice and thick and warm so will not be worked on again until next fall. 

And more progress on Sistine Chapel. 

I love this cute little ornie. The cross-stitch design is Tree Farm by Little House Needleworks and the lace trim is my own hand shuttle tatting. I made it for an ornament exchange. The recipient really seemed to like it. :)

And lastly, this is my most recent finish. I hand embroidered this pillowcase and shuttle tatted the lace edge trim using a pattern from one of Georgia Seitz books. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. I still need to embroider the mate to it. 

Here is a close up of the tatted lace. 

Well this does it for this update. I hope you joyed seeing all the photos of my various projects and catching up with all the recent changes in our lives. Take care my friends. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Insomnia, oh how I hate it.

But at least I am using the time I have to be productive at least productive enough to finally write an update on this blog. I really thought that this time I would actually get in a good full night of sleep but an hour after I was asleep, my older son was making enough noise to wake me up. I no sooner dozed back to sleep when about a half an hour later the younger son came through the house sounding like a heard of elephants. I still tried to get back to sleep but no such luck. I am awake again. So that being the case, I may as well try catching everyone up on my summer.

We didn't go anywhere so no fun adventures. Well unless you count the wind and rain storms that hit Central Ohio on the 29th of June. It knocked out the power for over 600,000 central Ohio families, with power being out any where from 4 days to 2 weeks. We lost an enormouse branch from one of our maple trees out back and it is still caught upside down hanging wedge between branches. What a sight to see every time I look out the back windows! Our neighbor lost the side of one of his trees taking down his electic line from the pole and damaging our line at the pole as well. We were totally without power for about 50 hours before it was restored to our area however, with the damage at the pole, my home only regained partial power. We called the power company numerous times explaining the situation to them but they kept insisting it was our electric breakers. We spent several more days with this partial power and large orange outdoor power cords running power from the few electric outlets that worked to other areas in the house. We were able to get our refridgerator powered this way but not our oven/stove so we cooked outside on a grill until full power was eventually restored. We were able to power two very small air conditioning units upstairs but not enough power for the new large one we purchased last year for the downstairs. We resorted to using fans. We were able to run the computers but, they added to the heat index and it was extremely hot during this outage. Well sometime around day 5 the power company finally went next door to repair our neighbors downed power line and immediately saw the damage to our power line at the pole and fixed the issue. What a crazy week that was. This was the sum of our summer excitement. The expense of that week, lost food etc., was most unwelcomed to our budget. We also spent the week worried that we would possible have to replace our entire electric circuit board because we found the fuse/breakers for it are outdated and no longer sold. We still need to face making this change but now we can choose a better time for us financially to attend to it. Other then this crazy week, the remainder of the summer was spent with Joe and A.J. working and Jared and I at home every day looking for ways to entertain ourselves.

 I did a lot of cross-stitching and Jared has been tending to me quite a bit. I have had several situations with back issues and I am still having issues with that knee I injured back in April. The hospital did a doppler sonagram test on the knee to check for blood clots and thankfully that came back fine. It just doens't seem to take much to re-stress it and cause it to swell back up. With this being an issue, I spend most of my time at home in the house. So, I cross-stitch and knit and crochet but the knitting and crocheting are causing that stupid bursitis in my right shoulder to flare up so the knitting and crocheting had to be set aside nearly as soon as I started on it. At least I discovered Netflix. LOL! I have really enjoyed having control over what I watch and when I watch it. I love all the programs it has to offer and the variety too. So I sit and cross-stich and watch Netflix oh and I have also been playing that sci-fi computer game I love so much, Anarchy Online. I did purchase quite a few Heaven and Earth Designs for cross-stitch over the summer. I sort of regret doing that. As much as I love the artwork, I strongly dislike all the confetti stitching that is incuded in the charting. They really need to be cleaned up better before being sold. So I really have no clue if I will ever buy any more of their charts or stich half of the ones I bought. Too much confetti stitching takes the joy of stitching away. Also there is a tendancy to make the size of the finished designs far too large for the tiny stitch count they recomend. I have quite a few of the charts already in progress.

Speaking of my needlework in progress, I guess it is time to post a few photos of what I have been working on and some of my purchases.

I do not generally get into Halloween type stuff but I have had this chart since it was published in a magazine back in 1994 and it just sort of caught my attention. I am doubtful that I will have it completed in time to hang up and display for this Halloween but definitely for next year. It is stitched on 14 count Aida cloth.
This is the current completed progress on Diamond Squares design by Handblessings. I did recieve the next 3 squares to add to it but haven't gotten around to adding them just yet.
This is one of my purchases over the summer from Heaven and Earth Designs called "Enchanted Flute"  I love the image of it but wow it will have a lot of "confetti" stitching in it. This is not one I plan to tackle any time soon.
This is my son A.J's cat Galadrial. For some reason she has really taken a strong liking to me lately and is constantly sitting as close to me as she can while I am stitching. She doesn't bother my floss nor attack it while I pull it through the fabric. Nope, she just constantly purrs loudly enough to be heard at least 10 feet away and paws at me to stop and give her a scratch on the head or a stroke down her back. She has become one of my stitching companions.
I was working on using up scraps into these puff stitch granny squares to later assemble into an afghan but have set this aside due to the bursitis in my shoulder.
This is a piece I started that was a free chart. I rather enjoy working on this one as a nice vacation from the busier pieces I have. I replaced the sugested color scheme with some silks in the Caron Waterlillies collection that were left over from another piece I finished last spring.
Two more of the charts I purchased over the summer from Heaven and Earth Designs. "Mini Christmas Wonder" and "Old World Map"
This one is "Mini Fairy Book" and I worked on this a lot during the power outage. This is just 1/16th of the total design complete. I decided to count how many colors were used in a single 10 x 10 grid square and there were over 23 colors just in that one square. That much confetti is just plain rediculous! At least the design is going to be stunning if I ever live long enough to complete it, lol.
And two more Heaven and Earth charts I purchased. I actually have the Sistine Chapel piece in progress but I am somewhat unhappy with this chart as it should have been through some editing in the photo before even begining to be made into a chart. There is a section of the top of the side wall that is included in this chart that really should not be there and is causing a waste of time in stitching as it does look very much out of place. I am extremely dissapointed that this was not both edited better nor was there a test stitching done by the people at Heaven and Earth Designs before marketing this chart. Had they tested the chart first, they would have seen their error right away. I am now debating as to whether I will ever bother to complete the entire design chart.
This is part of the top of the side wall that should not have been included in this design chart. Lots of wasted stitching due to poor charting.
I made this little piece for an exchange that I was in for a Spring theme. It is a portion of a Jeremiah Junction Chart "Live within your Harvest."  The recipient seemed to like it. I wanted to send her something with a cat in it because I knew she loves cats. I also sent some extra goodies of strings of beads and a variety of trims for her projects.
And these are the goodies I recieved from my exchange partner. :) I have really enjoyed that little flower ornament!
I started this piece a few years ago and then came to a screetching hault because of errors in the design chart. I get really upset when there are printed errors. There is a correction page on a website somewhere that I need to track back down and print out. I would very much like to get back to work on this piece as it is a particular favorite of mine.
Now this is a favorite Heaven and Earth chart. I love this piece of artwork, the cross off to one side and the way the king is looking over at it. I was looking up on you tube for videos of people showing thier cross-stitching and found one of an asian women working on this chart. I could only see a small portion of the design as she was stitching but the colors were so lovely and striking that I had to look up the chart and see what the full image was. I did quite a bit of work on this back in August and only just returned to this project 2 days ago. There is some confetti stitching in this piece but not nearly as bad as all the other Heaven and Earth charts I own. The colors were more limited when she produced the chart and I am sure this is what kept the amount of confetti stiching down more compared to other charts.
This is more of "Two Crowns."  I found just a few stitches were off a tad and had to be fixed so I decided to use some bright lime colored serger thread to grid that area where I am working to help me stay on the count better. I will pull the grid threads out when this area is filled in and then grid the next area to be worked.
Well, I think this is enough eye candy for this update. I am sure I will have plenty of other projects to share with you when I next post to my blog. I hope you have enjoyed your visit here and please feel free to leave any comments you desire.