I was beginning to wonder if I would ever actually finish this or if it would forever be relegated to the Unfinished Objects bin. In a burst of energy (mostly yesterday afternoon) I finally put in the last stitches on my Prairie Schooler "February" sampler. As you can see there was more than just white snow to fill in. I added some backstitching, so now the horse's saddle has stirrups, the cherries have stems, the flag has a handle, the tree has branches and the (very dark and gloomy) sun has rays.
So is it if the groundhog sees his shadow we get six more weeks of winter? Groundhogs Day is not so far off (here we go moving along at a rapid pace once again) and my fingers are crossed already for an early spring.
The snow looks good, but it was truly tedious filling in all that white. Had it not been for that I would have finished this project months (and months and months) ago. But, it's done now and even in time for February and well before President's Day. It's a good thing I only stitch the date of completion (and not when I start my projects!).
I already gave a teaser of this guy. My Birds of a Feather "Valentine Holiday" is moving along much quicker than "February" did (thankfully). I'm already more than a third of the way finished with it. I stitched this once before but I gave it away (in a needlework exchange). I've always wanted to stitch one for myself, so this one will be mine. It's a companion piece of sorts as I have a similar Halloween design that I made into a little pillow, which is how I'll finish this one, too. I'll be looking for some red check fabric as used in the model, but unlike the pillow in the chart photo my pillow won't be quite so fancy. If I keep working at this pace, I might even have it finished by Valentine's Day.
And because a person can handle only so much red, I needed something a little less vivid but still pleasant and bright to work on. These are eight-cornered pincushions/Biscornus by Jeannette Douglas called "Spring Stackers". I like the muted colors and the tiny little animals. The chart photo doesn't give you a very good view of them, but each design is slightly different. I love biscornus and they are one of my favorite needlework accessories--I quite like doing the finishing on them even (much prefer doing finishing by hand than working with the sewing machine, which honestly sort of scares me still).
The top and bttom of each pincushion is the same. First up is "Tiny Birds", then I'll be working on "Tulips" and then "Rabbits". My only problem with the design is the color choices are so muted on a light color linen which makes for slow stitching, though now that I can see what I've stitched close up in this photo, so far everything seems to be moving along nicely. The little guy in the left corner is a tiny bird, by the way. I am missing the floss color for his beak and legs, so it will be easier to identify the motif when I add in those last few stitches.
I'm excited to be spending time stitching again and am even more excited to have finished a project and be working quickly on another design. The only bad thing is knowing I might have used the time to read (or, too, I might have wittered away the time online or puttering around the house). I've gotten quite good at multitasking however.
The next best thing to reading a book is listening to one on audio. I've mentioned how picky I am about audio books, and I'm terrible about trying to write about what I've listened to (I'm very visual and details stick in mind better when I've actually seen the words and read them to myself), but I do want to try and record I'm listening to. I've finished two over the long weekend and am well into a third. Don't be too impressed however, as one was only two hours in length.
I finished Judith Kinghorn's The Last Summer, which I very much enjoyed listening to. I wasn't sure at first how I felt about it. I think I mentioned that it is more romance than historical fiction--not a criticism just an observation. While the setting is WWI England, the war felt more like a backdrop than the focus of the story. Of course a story about an upper class young woman who falls for the son of her family's housekeeper is bound to be tied up in the social mores and conventions of the era. You can imagine the struggles for two such different lovers to come together and find happiness and their road to happiness was a rocky one. It might have been somewhat predictable but I still found myself getting caught up in their story.
I'm afraid I didn't get on at all well with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. It's not the story, which I've read before (even in French when I was in school) and loved, but the audio version. I feel a little bit bad for feeling this way, but I honestly couldn't wait to be finished listening to it, and thankfully it was less than two hours long. I think my problem is not liking adults who speak in a child's voice. Often it just feels like an awful caricature (generally speaking that is), and this version, although not quite that bad, just grated on me. I couldn't settle into the story and just enjoy the storytelling but was always aware of the narrator's voice. Now I feel like I need to reread the book to restore the fond memory of it. (I told you I was picky about audio books!).
Now, however, I am listening to one that were it a physical book I would say I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately technology has it's limitations, and the battery ran out so I am now charging my MP3 player so I can listen to it again tomorrow. I opted for Deborah Blum's The Poisoner's Handbook, and it is fascinating to listen to. I'm not entirely sure about the accuracy of the science, it's about the birth of modern forensics, but as cultural history there are lots of interesting things that I'd like to learn more about. Blum is writing about Jazz Age New York City, which I always find interesting.
So I've got a nice combination of needlework and books, though I must say (now that I think about it), it's a little incongruous to be stitching a Valentine's Day design while listening to an audio book about poison and crime in early twentieth century America!