Saturday, December 29, 2012

The ongoing story...

“It can’t be happening!”  The Mad Stitcher almost ran to the sofa to investigate that spot of light blue peeking out from behind the cushion.  “No, No!”  She cried.  Her beautiful Nativity Stocking was a mass of crushed and wrinkled Aida.  Now these were not the ordinary little wrinkles.  These were the kinds of wrinkles that happen when someone sleeps on them and wallows on them and totally mangles them!  And everyone knows you cannot get these kinds of wrinkles out.  That’s what she gets for laying the freshly washed and pressed piece on the back of her sofa to admire.   She never noticed when it had fallen behind Jason as he slept.  What would she do now?  Stitching it again was the only thing she could think of, but only the good Lord knows if she was going to get everything done once—much less doing something twice!  Well, she couldn’t worry about it now.  So after her cry, she got back to “Magnolia.”

The stitching was going well.  And soon she was once again lost in this beautiful design.  MS stitched for the rest of the evening and into the wee hours of the morning.  Bo was restless and kept waking up so she knew she wouldn’t get any sleep.  She finally went to bed at about 3:30 am and was able to sleep until 7:00.  As much as she wanted to get back to her stitching, MS had to go check on Mom.  So after breakfast she got Bo ready and away they went.  Mom wasn’t feeling well and had several things that she needed MS to do.  Mom also had senile dementia and was almost as forgetful as Bo.  (But not quite!)  Her checkbook was a mess and it took MS almost an hour to straighten it out.  When the bills were paid and the notes written and Mom was positive that everything was done to her satisfaction, MS took her leave with the promise to call her later.  She decided to run a few errands while she was out.

She was finally able to get back to her stitching after Bo was in bed.  He was exhausted after the day of running here and there, and hopefully he would sleep better tonight.  They had only  one scavenger hunt all day, so all told it had been a fair day.

The days passed with pretty much the same routine.  “Magnolia” was coming along nicely, Bo was keeping life interesting, and MS was trying to keep what little was left of her sanity!  On the morning of the 13th the final stitch was placed in “Magnolia” and MS could have cried with relief.  As much as she loved to stitch and as much as she loved this design, she really HATED deadlines!—especially one of such importance.  She placed a call to Karen to find out what to do next.  Should she mail it back or would Karen prefer to meet her somewhere to get the completed piece?  Because of time constraints with the photographer, printers, etc., it was decided that they would meet at The Stitch & Frame Shop the next day.  This suited the Mad Stitcher, as she needed to restock some Krieniks and beads.


Friday, December 28, 2012

The story continues..

On Saturday morning MS put Bo in the car and headed for the new needlework shop she had recently found.  It was much closer to home although it was still 45 minutes away.  Her loyalty to Nancy and Carol was great, but Karen Weaver of Black Swan Designs, was going to be there doing a trunk show and signing autographs.  MS was a great fan of hers so she couldn’t miss this.

Upon arrival the first thing that she saw was the latest in the Flower Angel series that Karen was still designing.  “Magnolia” was perfect.  She loved magnolias and used them in her home décor.  She talked with Karen and Cherie for what seemed like hours—admiring all the designs that she had never seen in person.  When she and Bo finally left (with several new designs in her possession) she was still pleading for Karen’s working copy of “Magnolia”!

A few days later Cherie called and asked if MS would be interested in stitching “Magnolia” for the front cover of the leaflet.  The photos would be taken and the model taken to market in Charlotte in August—then it would be hers, all HERS!  And, of course, she would be paid!  An emphatic “yes” and Cherie told her that Karen would get the supplies together and FedEx them to her as they needed it back by July 15th.
This seemed very doable to the Mad Stitcher.  She could finish the stocking by Thursday and work on Melissa’s afghan until she got the design from Karen.  She stitched on the stocking and Thursday afternoon began the personalization.  It wasn’t until she began to stitch the name that it suddenly stuck her how appropriate the Nativity was for her niece #5—Mary!  The supplies arrived on Friday afternoon and MS couldn’t wait to get started.  Her biggest mistake was looking at the calendar—three weeks till the 15th.  “Oh, no!  I thought it was longer than that!”

She worked on the afghan that evening and finished it up at 2:43 am.  She looked at it with admiring eyes and realized how beautiful it actually was.  Melissa was going to love it.  She folded it and placed it on the back of the sofa with the Nativity stocking front.  She would wash and press them tomorrow.

On Saturday morning she arose early to the sounds of soft rain failing against the windowpanes.  Perfect stitching weather, she thought.  So after breakfast she prepared the fabric for “Magnolia” and while the Fray Block was drying she washed and pressed the stocking front and soaked the afghan.  How on earth am I going to squeeze the water out of this thing?  Finally she decided to spin it in the washer for just few seconds.  Then she covered her kitchen table with beach towels and began to press the afghan till it was almost dry.  She changed the towels and left the afghan to air dry.
It was nearly 11:00 am when MS was finally able to sit down and stitch.  She looked over the chart carefully, measured and counted and then counted and measured, until she was certain she had it centered properly.  As she placed the first stitch she was lost in another world—completely alone and at peace.  Jason had come over and was helping Bo do something in his workshop, so no worries there!  It was Heaven!  She was able to stitch without interruption for hours.

When Bo and Jason finally came inside, Jason suggested ordering out for dinner.  He volunteered to pick it up before he had to leave (He had a date!  Hee!Hee!Hee!)  So MS took him up on his offer.  It felt good not having to cook; plus, she could get back to her stitching!

On Sunday afternoon, Jason came by and promptly fell asleep on the sofa.  MS wondered what time he had gotten to bed the night before, but knew better than to ask.  It was late when he awoke and he had to rush to get to an *appointment*.  So it wasn’t later that MS noticed something.  “Oh my God!!!..........”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The story continues...

When the Mad Stitcher picked up the ringing telephone she found that Bo had answered the extension and Wilma was telling him that she and Pam were coming up to visit on Thursday and they were going to bring the baby for them to see.  Also, Bo’s two sisters would be joining us.  He immediately said that it was wonderful and that she would get a chance to see the “blanket” that MS was making Pam.  Before MS could correct the information Wilma was ringing off with “See you Thursday.”

 Normally this would not bother her, but today it did for three reasons.  Firstly:  Wilma had informed them that they were coming without bothering to ask if it were convenient.  She had just assumed that MS and Bo would drop everything else.  Secondly:  Since her accident, MS had a lot of trouble doing certain jobs around the house and now that Bo couldn’t help her there were just too many things that had been left undone.  Now in the thirteen years that MS and Bo had been married, Wilma had never seen her house in a mess and she wasn’t going to start now.  This meant that somehow, some way, she had to clean the house.  Thirdly:  This would cut into her stitching time!  Darn it!

 On Wednesday morning the Mad Stitcher arose early and began her chores, starting with the bathrooms.  She knew that she would be able to do everything but the floors.  So she did something—then rested, did something else—then rested.  Repeat.   Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  This went on until lunchtime.  She had managed to get the two primary baths cleaned, but by this time she was in terrible pain.  She took a short respite then began in the kitchen.  Just then Bo came in with that mystified look on his face.  It was time for another scavenger hunt.  “What are we looking for today.” She asked?  “Have you seen my glasses?” he asked innocently.  Gently MS reached over and took the glasses from his shirt pocket and handed them to him.  “Thank you so much,” he replied.  “I love you.”  Then went back to the family room.  At least this one was easy she thought.

 As she loaded the dishwasher and wiped down the counter tops, tears began to stream down her face.  She hurt so badly and didn’t know how much more she could stand.  She finished up in the kitchen and went to sit down in her chair.  She had to take a break—just a short one.  She had decided she would close off the bedrooms and dare anyone to go near them!  She was sitting there dreading to get up again when the doorbell rang.  “Oh, God, she thought as Bo went to answer the door.  “What now”?

 Her darling son came in and immediately went to the refrigerator and fixed himself a sandwich.  They talked for a few minutes and Bo mentioned that Wilma was bring Jeb to visit  the next day.  Then the most amazing thing happened.  “Can I do anything to help.” asked Jason.  She could have cried.  “You can clean the kitchen and bathroom floors, if you have the time.  I just can’t do that.”  “No problem.”  Just like that her prayers were answered.  He cleaned the floors, then began dusting and cleaning the family room.  Each time MS began to get up, he would tell her to sit (as if she were a child!)  Then he pulled out the vacuum and finished up for her.  When Jason got up to leave she hugged him tightly and thanked him.  He kissed her lightly on the cheek and said, “Take it easy, Mom.  You don’t have to do everything!  I’m here for you.”  As the door closed behind him, Bo asked, “Who was that’?....Well, back to the real world.

 The Mad Stitcher didn’t get any stitching done that night.  After dinner she got Bo settled in for the night and suddenly realized just how tired she was.  She laid down and promptly fell asleep.  She dreamed for the first time in months.  Sweet, Sweet dreams.  If only….

MS sat down in her chair and noticed she had about an hour to stitch before the “guests” would arrive.  She had hidden away the afghan so that no one would see it.  Instead she picked up “Angel of the Sea” and worked on it for a while.  It was looking really beautiful.  She would be glad when she could get back to it full time. 

Everyone began arriving and each one had to look at “Angel”.  They commented on the lovely star sapphire linen and the gold braid.  MS realized that she had done more than she had remembered.  It would only take a couple of days more to finish except for the beading. 

Wilma waited for Pam to leave the room before asking to see the afghan.  She was talking about how wonderful it was that MS could stitch this for her and she knew that she would just be thrilled.  So apparently she would be stitching a second afghan in time for Christmas!  How did she find herself in these situations?  To disclaim now would be out of the question.  Oh, Bo, how could you do this to me? 

The day went by very pleasantly and soon the guests took their leave.  MS had found a private moment to discuss Bo’s condition with Wilma, but she wasn’t sure if Wilma really understood just how bad he was getting.  She gave lip-service, but….well.  MS continued to stitch on “Angel.”  She decided to work on it the next day while she was deciding on the next stocking design.

She finally chose the Nativity scene for Mary.  It was model stitched on a piece of light blue Aida and she knew she had a piece of this fabric in her stash.  The Mad Stitcher really didn’t like using Aida anymore, but she still had quite a bit of it and needed to use it up.  This stocking would be perfect on the piece she had.  She pulled all the floss and metallics and began to stitch.  She didn’t take time to do a working copy and found it very frustrating to work from the hard back book in which the chart was found.  She would stitch a few stitches, pick the book up off the floor, find the page, look at the chart, stitch a few stitches, pick the book up off the floor, find the page, look at the chart, and repeat…., and repeat…, and repeat!  She must remember to get a copy made tomorrow!!  And while she was at it, she had better decide on the others so she could copy them as well!

So back to the hunt.  She found a lovely Victorian design that she thought would work for her Mom and a neat Santa with animals that she thought Michelle might like.  So the next day, she went to the copy center where copies were made for all of these and then to the LNS.

The Victorian design needed black.  So she chose a beautiful black Lugana.  Bo helped her choose the right *star* charm for the Nativity scene and then wanted to go to the car.  So MS gave him her keys and told him she would be there in a few minutes.  She was still looking for a Dragon design and the LNS owner was helping her look through catalogues.  She decided on one that Nancy was going to have to order for her.  So she made her purchase and went to the car.  Bo was sitting there almost asleep with the doors open and as she got in, she asked him for the keys.  He didn’t have them.  “Oh, no!” she thought.  She began to look everywhere.  Even Nancy and Carol came out to help look.  They looked in the car.  They searched the area around the car.  Carol even walked all around the outside of the shop to see if he had walked around and dropped them somewhere.  They were nowhere to be found.  What was she going to do?  She didn’t have a spare with her and there was no one to call to bring her one.  She sat down behind the wheel and was about to give up and call the locksmith.  Bo was sitting there contritely—upset that he had done something wrong yet again, but not really knowing what it was.  She decided to take one more look around the inside of the car.  She glanced in Bo’s direction and noticed something red on his ankle.  She reached over and found her red key case hanging out of his sock!!  She couldn’t help but laugh even as tears ran down her face.  As she pulled out of the drive she glanced at Bo and whispered, “I love you.”

“Did you get that Lagoon cloth,” Bo asked innocently?  MS laughed and suddenly all was well again.  How could you be upset with someone so sweet?  She patted his hand.  “Yes,” she answered.  “I got everything.”

The design began to develop beautifully, but MS wished she had done it on that lovely evening blue Murano that she had in her stash.  It would have been ideal for this.  She stitched madly and the more she stitched the more she questioned.  Maybe I should….

The Mad Stitcher worked furiously.  The faster she stitched the more she began to wonder what she had gotten herself into.  Also, that Evening Blue Murano was calling her by name.  Maybe she should start over and do this Nativity on it.  But no, she had it more than half finished.  She couldn’t start over.  But, you know, this scene would be lovely stitched on the Murano as a framed piece—for herself.  Maybe, when these stockings were done.  But no.  She still had the afghan to finish.  And of course, this would mean she would have to do something for her grandson and his wife.  “Oh, Lord, please help me,” she prayed silently.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The story continues...

Over the next few days the Stitcher frequently thought about the reactions of the family and she couldn’t help getting a nice warm feeling inside.  As Christmas Day fast approached  the Lady began to get ready for her own family’s get-together.  This niggling little thought kept flitting through her mind but she wouldn’t let it take form.  She was simply going to enjoy her Christmas with her Mom, brother, SIL, nieces and, of course, her DH and son.  This was the first year ever that the family gathering was to be at her house, the first time that her Mom was unable to have Christmas at “home”.  And the Lady really wanted things to go well.  She had the meal planned and this time the turkey would be baked at the appropriate time and she would have a good night’s sleep—she hoped!

 On Christmas Eve she began to check off her list.  All the gifts were wrapped and under the tree.  All the decorations were working perfectly.  The cakes were baked and the sweet potato pies were cooling even as she checked.  The grocery list had been double checked and the shopping done.  The silver was polished and the house was clean.  (Now if she could just keep it that way for one more day!)  So everything was ready to go.  She smiled and began to make all the preparations she could in advance.

 That night she and DH sat by the fire and watched “A Christmas Carol.”  She felt contented but she was also a bit nervous about the next day.  She really was enjoying this holiday.  She thought of her Dad and how much he had loved this time of year.  The Christmas season has always been his favorite time of the year.  He loved all the hoop-la involved.  But especially, he loved the closeness and warmth of the family gatherings.  She wished with all her heart that he could be there with the family tomorrow.  Then she smiled to herself as she realized that he would be there along with her younger brother watching over them all and wishing them a happy holiday.  She fell asleep with that thought in her head and a smile on her lips.

 She arose early and went about getting the meal prepared.  As she took the turkey out of the oven she couldn’t help but think about the last one!  Time seemed to fly by but everything was finally done except, of course, for herself.  Quickly she went to shower and dress.  She called Jason and made sure he was on his way to pick up Mom.  Taking one last look around she prayed nothing would go wrong.  But things went very well and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.

 Bo had seemed to enjoy himself and it wasn’t until everyone left that he turned to her and began to cry.  She held him closely asking what was wrong.  “I didn’t get you anything,” he said.  She kissed him softly and whispered as she held him in her arms.  “You have given me the best gift of all and more than I ever hoped for.”  Gently she led him to the bedroom and helped him get ready for bed.  After he went to sleep, she  sat and reflected on the day.  She was very blessed.  She said a prayer of thanksgiving and then went to sleep.  And as she drifted off she knew that this would be the last Christmas she would have as it had always been.

As January came and went the Lady was stitching frantically on an afghan she wanted to finish for herself.  She really wanted to enter it into the Needlework Competition at her LNS.  As the last stitches were placed, her mind automatically turned to what she would do next.  She decided to work on “Millennium” by Teresa Wentzler, as she wanted to finish it in the year 2000.  So she made her working copies and gathered her supplies and happily began to stitch away.  She also wanted to get back to “Angel of the Sea” by Marilyn Leavett-Inbum since she had put it aside to do the stockings last year.  The Lady had recently discovered a wonderful BB on the internet and had learned that there was such a thing as a “rotation.”  She really liked the sound of that.  It sounded much better than having a lot of *UFO’s* (UnFinished Objects) .

 One night as she was stitching, that niggling little thought made its way back into her mind.  She had done those beautiful stockings for her DH’s family and yet she had never done anything like that for her own family.  “Do you think they would like and appreciate a handmade stocking stitched just for them?”  The thought began to take form and the Lady started to think of designs and fabrics.  “If I’m going to do this, I had better start now.  I don’t want to be stitching at midnight on Christmas Eve! “  But where to begin…..

The only thing the Stitcher was sure of was that she really was MAD!  To even think about doing this was crazy.  Maybe if she did part of them this year and part of them next year.  “No, that won’t work.  The ones that don’t get them will be disappointed and I don’t want to hurt feelings,”  she mused.

So out came all the magazines, books, and charts and the search for designs began.  There was only one that the Lady was positive about.  In one of her Christmas Remembered books there was a stocking with a Scottish Santa that she knew would be just perfect for her brother.  It would honor their heritage.  She then found a lovely angel that she decided  would be just right for SIL.  For hours she leafed through books and magazines looking for designs that “spoke” to her.  The oldest niece, Melissa, loved snowmen and she found three that might work for her.  She bookmarked them and put them aside for later consideration.  She finally found a beautiful Christmas Angel that she felt would be perfect for Niece #3, Melonie.  It wasn’t a stocking pattern but she thought it might work.  The size and shape were right.  “Yes, I’m sure it will!”

“Well at least I have some of them,” she thought as she started to clear away the mess.  Tomorrow she would make working copies and start the Santa.  After dinner that evening she began to put all the supplies together in her project “Woo Baggie”.  The phone rang and she wondered who would be calling this late.

As she picked up the receiver she recognized the very excited voice of niece #1. 
What are you doing on August 12th?” she asked immediately.  Perplexed, the Stitcher answered that she had not yet made any plans for that day.  “Well you have now!  Chris and I are getting married!”  You could hear the joy in her voice.  The Stitcher exclaimed, ‘How wonderful!  I’m so happy for you.  Tell me everything.”

They talked for quite a while and then she continued with the task at hand.  Suddenly it dawn on her—now she would have to do another stocking!  But it did make one task easier.  She had the “Snowman” and “Snowlady”  stocking charts that she had previously done for Pam and David, and these would be great for the new couple.  So she gathered up the supplies for these as well and placed them in her project bag.

The next day she went by the copy shop and made working copies of all the charts.  Then she went to the LNS to purchase the extra fibers and fabric on her list.  Once home again, she prepped the fabric edges on all the fabrics so that she could get started.  As she picked up the Highland Santa she once again thought how much David would like it.  She started to think about changing the tartan colors to those of her clan, but then thought better of it.  “I will barely have time to get these done.  I can’t start re-designing them.”  But the thought was enticing.

Frantically she stitched.  As she finished Santa and added her brother’s name, she had to smile—one down!  She began on Erlene’s angel next.  As the days came and went she happily stitched and dreamed of Christmas.  One day while reading her favorite BB she noticed a forum for exchanging “work for work or stash.”  The Lady thought this was a wonderful idea and wondered if anyone out there might be interested in helping “finish” the stockings.  It would be a relief not to have to go through that again.  So she posted her inquiry.

The next day the Mad Stitcher checked the BB and noticed a response to her query.  A wonderful lady said she would gladly assemble the stockings for her.  She was so relieved.  Now her time could be spent stitching instead of worrying about the sewing aspect.  The seamstress wanted to try one or two first before committing to doing all of them and MS agreed that this was a wise suggestion.  She thought the “Snowman” and “Snowlady” would be the best because they should match.  So she set out to get these two done.  While working on “Snowlady” she began to search for backing fabrics and ideas for finishing.  As it was spring, it was difficult to find any appropriate fabrics in the one small fabric shop in her town.  She began to worry that she wouldn’t be able to find anything suitable.  She contacted the seamstress to ask advice and the wonderful lady said she would look for fabrics at her local shop.  So MS emailed her a photo of the stockings to give her an idea of what they looked like.  MS continued to stitch madly in the hopes of getting these two finished by the end of the month.

Bo was becoming more and more forgetful and paranoid and MS had to spend more and more time taking care of him.  Each day became an adventure and she never knew what to expect.  Her stitching time became more sporadic and she began to fear that she had undertaken too much with this project.  Her only consolation was that no one in her family knew of her plans, so if she didn’t get all the stockings done this year no one would be disappointed—that is no one but herself.  Of course, she could always finish them next year and just put them up till then.  But she wasn’t going to give up yet.  She continued to stitch whenever she could—mostly at night after Bo was in bed.

The helpful seamstress let her know that she had found some beautiful corduroy that would look great on the stockings.  So the Mad Stitcher was even more determined to get these done.  Finally, these two were personalized and ready to go.  As she mailed them off she smiled and thought, “Well, at least two of them will be done!”

As the Mad Stitcher heard more and more about wedding plans she realized that she had given no thought to a wedding gift for her niece.  She thought about “The Bride” by Lavender & Lace but wasn’t sure of her niece’s taste.  She thought about a sampler but again was not sure.  MS learned that her niece and fiancé had found a house and had decided to go ahead and buy it so that they could begin painting and decorating it.  Also, she learned a little about her tastes and colors, etc.

One day as she leafed through The Cross Stitcher she happened upon a beautiful afghan sampler design.  That would make the perfect wedding gift.  She called up her LNS and asked them to order her the alphabet afghan and was really surprised when she was told they had one in stock.  So she made her supplies list and headed to Rock Hill.  Now Bo did not like the two hour drive to the LNS but MS couldn’t leave him at home alone.  He finally agreed to go with her but now it was getting quite late and she was afraid the shop would close.  It seemed that every driver was creeping along at a snail’s pace and every piece of road equipment was out on the road.  It was taking forever.  Just when she thought she was going to make it……

“Oh, no.” she thought as the sound of sirens and the flashing blue lights appeared in her rear view mirror.  “I know I’m in a hurry, but I was not speeding!”  The Mad Stitcher pulled the car over and gave up any hope of making it to her LNS that day.  She began to search for her license and registration when a voice asked, “Are you aware that your right rear tire is almost flat?  I’d really hate to see you stranded out here.  May I be of assistance”?  MS almost fainted with relief.  “No, thanks.  There’s a station right up here.  I’ll stop and get it fixed.  But you are so nice for offering.”  “Anytime, ma’m.”

As she pulled back out into the highway, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  She had never had a patrolman stop her to HELP before!  She glanced at her watch—five minutes before six.  She would never make it!  After driving all this way, it was to be for nothing.  As she approached the service station she realized it was only two doors below the LNS.  She pulled into the drive and asked the attendant to check and fix her tire.  She told him she was going to run next door but she would be right back.  As she and Bo approached the shop, the door opened and Nancy came out.  “Oh, my goodness.  I had given up on you coming today.”

MS briefly explained the situation and asked if it was too late to get the afghan.  She would come back another day to do the rest of her shopping.  But Nancy would not hear of it.  She took the list and rounded up everything MS needed in a matter of minutes.  As she left the shop she thought how lucky she was to have such an LNS—even if it was so far away.

 She had only been about ten minutes and wondered how long she would have to wait for the car.  Bo was getting restless and was wishing he had stayed at home.  The attendant informed her that the tire was fine.  It just needed some air, but to be sure and keep an eye on it in case there was a slow leak somewhere that he hadn’t been able to find.  As she started the car she realized that she wasn’t lucky—she had a Guardian Angel looking out for her and Bo.  She said a very small but sincere prayer of thanks before heading home.

 It was quite late by the time they arrived back home and Bo was not in a very good mood.  MS hugged him tightly and told him how much she appreciated him going with her and keeping her company.  He seemed to calm down and she kissed him goodnight and suddenly all was right with the world.

 Although the Mad Stitcher was quite tired she wanted to get started on the afghan.  However, she knew better than to stitch tonight so she sorted her floss and went to bed.  The next morning she began to stitch and as the colors and pattern began to develop she knew she had chosen the right design.  There were twenty-six outside blocked sections and “quilt blocks” were done in the alternating squares.  The center section was a sampler design and the colors were those that Melissa was using in her new home.  She stitched constantly over the next few days trying to get the afghan finished.  She had completed the outside squares and was working on the center sampler section were Bo commented on how pretty it was.  “I’m so glad you are doing that for Pam,” he said.  MS explained that she was not doing it for their grand-daughter but as a wedding gift for Melissa and he seemed satisfied with the explanation.  She continued to stitch for several days and was very pleased with the way it was turning out.

 MS knew that she had to get back to the Christmas stockings very soon.  So she began to think about the other designs that she needed to find.  Maybe she should do some internet surfing to see if she could get some inspiration there.

 That evening Bo’s daughter, Wilma, called and before MS knew what was happening….

To be continued...