Category Archives: Of General Interest

I am soooooo…

…ready for spring! We had a gorgeous weekend here but the last two days the temps have fallen back below zero. I guess I’m getting old. I love winter, but weeks of weather this cold is a pain.

Well, enough whining. It is time for me to respond to the comments left here yesterday. First of all…at the beginning of the year I ALWAYS think my goals are doable. 🙂 I am the incurable optimist!  I have to be the incurable optimist…because as those of you who have seen my stash know…I have a lot to accomplish in this life.  So…onwards and upwards.

Second, hi mom!!! Thanks for stopping by. As I recall we are going to be doing a lot of lunching in the warm, soft breezes of the Caribbean in just a couple weeks. But be prepared, I am bringing stitching! After all, I’ve got goals. Maybe you’ll even catch the bug. Maybe?

So, yesterday. What did I do? I worked a bit on getting the studio/sewing room habitable and I knitted about 4 inches on the baby afghan I hope to finish by the end of the month. Good progress.  I don’t have a photo because DH has the camera, but I love the way this little blanket is coming out. It is double knit (holding 2 colors of yarn together) in a beautiful soft white and soft blue.  I’m a little afraid because it’s time for me to change skeins and the last one (white) proved a nightmare of epic proportions, involving two people and about 3 hours untangling it to a point of usability. (Thank you Paula and Ray!) I hope this one goes better.

In addition to my needlework I exercised for 45 minutes and saw my doctor. Things are looking pretty good, given the way I started my year. In January I only missed three days of exercise, after I got permission to start (about the 7th), I lost 11 pounds and halved my insulin usage. I feel much better.

One exciting non-needlework goal is to ride the Minnesota Ironman Bike Tour (30, 62, 100 miles on a bike). This is an annual ride at the end of April and I, of course, will be riding the 30 mile loop…this year anyway.  I need to get my nether regions prepared for the the ride as well as making sure I have the lung capacity to suck in that much air. But it’s a good way to get started on conditioning. DH and I used to enjoy long trail rides together and I am looking forward to getting back to those this summer.

Since my bike is over ten years old and has seen better days, I bought a new Trek cross bike last weekend. It will be coming home at the end of March and I am really looking forward to riding it. It has both front and post suspension, so I’m hoping those nether regions will be standing in line to thank me. 🙂 Or is that sitting in line?  Whatever.  It is also my very first step-through bike since I was very young. I like that feature, especially as I seem to be getting older.  It’s…are you ready?  It’s purple.  All I need is a red helmet (I have a gray one right now) and I’m ready to go!

And right now I need to get ready to go in a different way. It’s off to work, then to work out and then…ah, then…I get to settle in with my stitching.  What a great incentive to keep moving through my day.

Here’s hoping you all have a productive, wonderful and stitchy day!




Finish #3 for 2008 and…

…a post with some photos. Wow….go me. 🙂

Right now I seem to be in a knitting mode. It’s easy to see, I can do it when I have a non-migraine type of headache and there’s a LOT more in the way of immediate gratification. It’s not that I’m sour on needlework, it’s more…a mood.

Given all this it seems appropriate to announce my first knitting finish of the year. A scarf/shawl. No, there’s no fancy name, no fancy pattern, just k3, p3 all the way across until you have a scarf/shawl the width you want…then keep doing it until you have the length you want. It was the perfect project to get these fingers back into shape.

The first picture is the entire scarf/shawl (boy, this is one cumbersome, not-fancy name!):

Scarf-photo one

The second is a close up of the thing that started it all back last summer. Have you ever found a must-have shawl pin…and woe is you…it’s bought and paid for but then you find you have no shawl to pin it on? Bingo. You’re feeling my pain. I had to do something. I mean…it’s just not appropriate for a crafty woman to go buy a shawl. HORRORS!

Therefore, this is my solution. One handmade scarf/shawl  for my ‘couldn’t pass up‘ pin. Yarn:  $50, shawl pin: $38, satisfaction of making it my ownself:  Priceless! In retrospect, I’m sure this is all Paula’s fault!!! (See…she was with me on this particular shopping trip and had to have this gorgeous ball of yarn. Fine.  Well, except the yarn came in a non-pull skein, so it had to be wound. No problem, the shop owner was wonderful and had a swift and ball winder. In theory I shouldn’t even have had time to shop, but aforementioned ball of yarn was tangled…didn’t come of the swift like a nice ball of yarn should…and the rest, as they say, is history. )  So…enjoy your view of my ‘return to knitting catalyst’. 🙂

Enameled/sterling shawl pin

Now…just for the record,I love my pin, I’m pretty tickled with how the scarf/shawl came out…so I’m not going to be too hard on my beloved sister-in-law. After all, we did manage to have a LOT of fun in an hour or so of shopping AND I now have something that will keep my shoulders warm and my neck at the height of fashion. Ah…life is good.

The yarn is a NORO 100% wool. I think the colors are pretty spectacular. I used four balls and the shawl/scarf measures about 15×70. There are a few boo-boos, but my hands picked up the rhythm pretty quickly. I also want to say a thank you to two other sisters in stitches…Marsha and Sue…for giving me a refresher course. Given the many hours of pleasure knitting has given me, I’m really glad to be back.

Because I don’t want to get so out of practice again, as soon as I finished Project #1, I started on Project #2. It’s an afghan kit I’ve had for a long time. It’s one of the beautiful Colinette afghans with 8 different-hand dyed yarns. I am knitting the simplest of all the patterns they give called Sideways Strips, in the Meadow colorway. Here’s my first photo:

Meadow Afghan

This photo really doesn’t do justice to the different colors and textures, but I think it’s going to be gorgeous. And…just to go on record: Mohair yarn is NOT my favorite. 🙂

Lest you think I’ve forgotten my first needlework love, rest assured I have also been stitching. I finished my Advent Sampler Rotation and this is where I’m leaving Adam and Eve until next time:

Advent Sampler by Mary Beale-end of Rotation 1

Please excuse the wonky photo…I’m still getting used to a new camera. But you can see I got a lot of the greens at the bottom finished, Adam now has hair and I’ve started the lettering.  I’m hoping to finish Adam and Eve by the end of the next rotation and be ready to move onto Noah. But for now it’s back to the Ancestral Wedding Sampler by Kingsland.

Now, before I close, I have one more thank you to say and I’m going to do it in this VERY public forum. Everyone who reads My Needle in Hand is familiar with the ladies I lovingly refer to as my ‘stitching sisters’. Theresa, Paula (who is my sister-in-law as well as a stitching sister), Susan and Janet. (We also have a junior member-Ms. Maddie, who is Paula’s daughter and my niece as well as a long-distance member, Darcy, who is my sister-in-law on the other side of the family and a knitter).

Anyway, I digress. Susan, innocently enough, invited the sisterhood over for dinner and stitching last Saturday. And…lo and behold, everyone but Darcy (who lives in Virgina and was missed!) was there. It was wonderful. A simple afternoon and evening of stitching, chatting and eating. What could be better? That’s when I found out the sisterhood could easily be drafted by any covert organization in the world. These wonderful ladies had turned dinner into a suprise birthday party for me, complete with a wonderful meal, cake, presents and even an age-appropriate (I’m going to be fifty in a week) magic wand.  It was a wonderful evening and ladies, since I know most of you read this blog, THANK YOU for making me feel so special. You are all blessings in my life!

I’m sorry I can’t share photos…but I didn’t have a camera. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s a  good thing. 🙂

Well…that’s about it for now. I have updated my pages for goals, stitching hours and my wish list. I will post another stitchy update later in the week. For right now, I’m off to do a little stitching on my Laura Perin Color Cubes. (Have I mentioned I LOVE Laura Perin designs?)

May your days continue to be warm, sunny and frogless!



February Needlework Aspirations:

–Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and follow where they lead. –Louisa May Alcott

I like the word aspirations…you know, kind of like a kinder, gentler version of goals. (I’m into that ‘kinder-gentler’ stuff!)

So, what do I aspire to do in the month ahead?

1. Submit the next section of my Master Needle Artist research. This needs to be accomplished no later than the end of the month, but I am hoping for sooner.

2. Completely stitch a Christmas ornament

3. Complete first three bands of Ann Holewll to keep up with the With My Needle Stitchalong.

4. Complete 2 ten hour rotations in Counted Thread. One on the Advent Sampler, one on The Ancestral Wedding Sampler.

5. Finish the Pine Mountain Love pillow. (this includes ripping out. 😦

6. Finish my Laura Perin Color Cubes (started yesterday)

7.  Finish knitting ball #3 into my scarf

8. Continue to blog at least twice a week, including photos as often as possible.

9. Finish work on my library listing and get the updated list posted here.

Apart from needlework, I am hoping for a quiet month. We have a short winter vacation planned (ie: long weekend) over Valentine’s day, but apart from that it will simply be work, rest and play here at home. Sounds wonderful to me!

It’s been a great weekend here. Yesterday we had a stitching get together. What fun!! And, as usual, I completely forgot to take pictures. Ah well, there’s always next time.

Today we are joining friends for the ‘big game’. Chili, TV and a lot of laughter. 🙂 It is a long-standing tradition and I am really looking forward to our time together. I do, of course, have my preference for who will emerge victorious, but most of all, I hope for a good game. It saddens me so much to see all the allegations of cheating in a sport I’ve enjoyed since childhood (watching, not playing :-))

Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday. May all your stitches be doubly blessed.


Oops…another late post.

Saturday, January 19th 2008 was my one-year ‘blogiversary’.  I can’t say I posted as faithfully as I wanted to or, for that matter, achieved all my stitching goals. What I can say is I’ve met some wonderful people, used this web-site as another way to keep up with friends and family and, most of all, have really enjoyed developing my little corner of the web.

I have a lot more ideas for 2008, so thanks for dropping by and Godspeed until we meet again.



I am spending more time…

…getting organized to stitch than stitching. And, scarily enough, that’s the story of my life…that and bouncing down bunny trails.

Some of you know my sad story: I sit down in my comfy chair and turn on my light. Soft music is playing, my fabric and fibers are at my side, I have several hours to devote to this beautiful piece in front of me. It seems as though I’ve found a bit of Heaven right here on Earth.

Only…drat! Foiled before I even start. My 11×17 q-snaps have disappeared. I have 17×17, 11×11, 8×8 and 6×6 all in a row next to my stand, but nothing in the size I need. I have at least two pair of them, so…where can they have gotten too? Perhaps I actually put them away. Confident I can solve this mystery quickly, I turn off my light, push my chair back and venture into Fibber McGee’s closet to find said q-snaps. (Perhaps here is where I should mention I should own Rubbermaid or at least controlling shares)

I have dozens of stacked, neatly labeled bins and in no time have located the right one…the one labeled ‘Hoops, stretcher bars, q-snaps, and scroll frames‘ (No, I am not kidding!). So this should be a piece of cake, right?


Opening the lid, I immediately find half a q-snap pair in the right size. Half? What’s with this? Where’s the other half? Well, before anything else, I obviously need to go on a search and rescue mission. Mess ensues. But an hour later, I can claim victory. The bin is neat and I have found the rest of my q-snap.

Only…something is not quite right. In the bin that is only supposed to be for fabric stretching apparatus (apparati?), I also find the fibers for a chart I have kitted with fabric…somewhere. I remember that chart. I put it in a special place because I was missing the threads. But where? Search ensues.

Hours later, no stitching is done, but bins are much more organized. Happily, I put my appropriately sized q-snap beside my project for next time, pat myself on the back and walk away.

See why I don’t have more in the ‘finished’ column? I am a compulsive organizer when it comes to my stash. Now, lest you think you’ve got me figured, I have dust bunnies that are scary beneath my beds. But as long as they stay in their territory…well, let’s just say we have an uneasy truce. However, if they venture into my well organized stash…then there will be war.

So…you may ask…if you are so well organized why isn’t it ever just done? Bite your tongue. Why isn’t it done? Well, first of all, I need to use my stash. Threads get disarranged, I find a kit for a friend, I spill a box of buttons and decide I’d rather watch ‘Iron Chef America‘ than crawl around on a closet floor. And secondly…somehow…without really intending to, I seem to be good at adding to my stash. More to catalog, more to sort and more to put in bins. (Sometimes more bins, too)

So this year I’m resolved. Less stash buying, less stash organizing and MORE stitching.

But hold on just a gol-durned minute. Before I can resolve such a thing, I have to get organized. 🙂 So to that end, I have come up with an exhaustive WIP list, which is posted on the page bearing that title. I did this so I could be VERY aware of the folly of starting anything new.

And then, in a superb act of defiance, I also created a list of the projects I plan to start this year. 🙂 Illogic at its finest!

To balance it all and because the New Year is a time of New Hope for the Alliance…oops…that’s Star Wars. Ahem…start over….Because the New Year brings new life to old resolutions (better) , I created a page for my 2008 finishes. Ah…hope springs eternal.

And, just to keep you all posted on how successful I am at stitching as opposed to playing with my stash, I’ve created yet another page (gosh this cyber world is a wonderful place) to track my hours engaged in actually plying a threaded needle.

Can you see a pattern emerging? 🙂 Do I need serious therapy? Probably. But in the meanwhile I wish you all bright hours filled with blissful stashing and frog-less stitches.


Julie (recovering CSO-compulsive stash organizer)

A personal post…

–I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day. –Abraham Lincoln

(Before you start to read, be aware that, as titled, this post is largely personal and perhaps even the tiniest bit mopey. It speaks of feelings and of my personal beliefs. Join me if you choose…and welcome to my world :-)))

It’s hard to believe it’s just a few more days until Christmas. We will be with my family this year and are looking forward to that reunion. My mom e-mailed today and is busy preparing goodies, like fruit soup and hot air, in anticipation of time together. Are we spoiled or what?

It will be wonderful to spend time with my brother, my new sister, my niece and nephew, mom and even some of our extended family…for loved ones are the second greatest gift of Christmas. I look forward to times of laughter (and some tears), worship and yes, even some handwork. My new sister (actually sister-in law…but I consider that distinction meaningless!) knits. Isn’t that cool??? Together we are going to try to find our way through the mine field of knit one purl two.

Even with all the beauty of the season and the fun preparations, my heart is still heavy. It’s been a long year and, while there many, many reasons to be thankful, I am still trying to find the joy that Christmas often brings. Losses…one very, very recent, leave a great emptiness that used to be filled with two that I cherished. One of those is, I’m convinced, sharing his first Christmas with His Savior and that thought does bring a smile, even through the sorrow. I am sure that Heaven will never be quite the same now that Dad is there. 🙂

But, even though I’m struggling a bit, today I listened to a song that reminded me of the joy that cannot be shaken by circumstance. I am trying to keep my spirit centered on the blessing offered to me by these words by Don Francisco and the promise he writes of:

The center of the ages, the Lord talks with a girl
and by the words He speaks He gives a Savior to the world.
The time grows to its fullness and Mary's Son is born.
The promise's fulfillment, lies asleep now in her arms.

He didn't come to terrify, to judge or condescend
to call us all His servants, but to lift us as His friends.
To save us all from Satan's power, to reign at His right hand,
Once for all eternity, God became a man.

Today the God of Majesty was given to the Earth
A gift of such magnificence we can never plum its worth.
The rudeness of the setting just ignites the Jewel's fire.
A pearl beyond the greatest price, the joy of man's desire.

What a gift!

I also was lifted by wonderful e-mails from the stitching sisters. We are planning a gathering shortly after the first of year. A long weekend filled with laughter and our group’s celebration of Christmas. I do love these ladies: Paula, Susan, Janet and Theresa…thank you for the light you are in my life!

Needlework wise, I’m trying to think through a rotation for 2008 and working like mad to get my MNA submission finished. I need to have it complete and submitted by the end of the year. I have also been working on a special wedding sampler. I will post a photo tomorrow at the end of my stitching…so you can see a bit more than a little green blob. 🙂

What else is on the agenda for tomorrow? A haircut, an eyebrow wax, packing and sending our e-Christmas greeting to loved ones near and far. Our snail mail greeting may not get finished in time, so it will be more in the way of a New Year’s missive this year. I also have a gift or two to pick up. We will be doing some shopping after we go east, simply because it’s not easy to carry much on a flight.

I hope this note finds everyone well and surrounded by those you love most.




Another non-stitching post…

I just thought I’d share a few photos of my house this holiday season. It looks like Christmas and now it smells like Christmas. Last night I had some of the family over and we made Krumkake and Rosettes…it still smells good in here. 🙂

Living room with tree aglowOur treeTable set for hoiidays

and finally our Indian (subcontinent) Nativity set:


I hope everyone had a great weekend!



Just some reasons I’m grateful…

For the first time in several years I had the energy…and the desire to decorate my house for Christmas! I love the tree, the candles…everything.

I haven’t been in the hospital for going on six months.

DH, his love, support and sense of humor!

We have a roof over our head, gainful employment and wonderful families.


Friends that are….well, amazing! We are so thankful for each one.

Stash. Should I say that? I suppose that’s just slightly materialistic…but I do love to play with my stash…I just need to get better at actually stitching it!

The beautiful snow frosting my window. It’s so pretty right now!

Well…I’m off to work, but I wish each of you some unexpected blessings as you go through your day.