Category Archives: Chicago 2014 Seminar

Puzzle Pieces – day 2


I was so frustrated yesterday with having to redo sections because my counts were off, I finally started basting around the different sections last night after dinner! What a difference it made today for knowing where to begin each section. You can see the shapes off the different sections outlined below – lots of trapezoidal, rectangles, triangles with a square in the center. There are 14 sections In all so I still have a little basting to do.

I started the day with a run along the river and a stop at Starbucks on the way back. What a great way to get some fresh air before 7 hours of stitching.

Puzzle Pieces - day 2

Today we focused on sections 4 and 5. Section 4 has Rhodes, scotch, and Byzantine stitches. I loved Jackie's suggestion on the Rhodes to add a final stitch that is the same as 1-2; it gives a nice definition to the stitch. Section 5 is fabulous but complex. We began by doing padding sections where we had to watch the stitch counts and placements. Once that was done, we did 4 Hilton triangles – one in each corner – that overlap each other. Once again, getting the stitch counts correct was critical. We then filled the center with 2 triangular Rhodes. I actually finished the section as you can see. It is dramatic!

The camaraderie in the class is wonderful, especially as we all curse having to pull out and redo sections and get knots in the loooooooong thread required for the Hilton triangles. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

The evening was filled with the Opening Banquet. Afterwards, I took another walk down and along the river enjoying the city at night.

Chicago at night

Now I have to finish basting the remaining sections so I'm ready for tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to the Exhibition since those who already stopped by it were ecstatic with praise for the work displayed.


Chicago Blues — Day 2!


Hi, Everyone —

Today was the second day of classes and the last day of my first class, “Chicago Blues” with Joni Stevenson.  We made a lot of progress today and I feel confident that I will be able to finish this piece in short order.  Unfortunately, the newest techniques, like applying a line of music to the canvas, only get talked through because so much stitching has to be completed first.  Anyway, here’s my end of class progress:

I'm blue in Chicago because "Chicago Blues" has ended!

I’m blue in Chicago because “Chicago Blues” has ended!

We ate at the Corner Bakery Cafe again for lunch today, but we didn’t even have to debate where to go for dinner since tonight was the opening banquet for seminar.  We had a speaker, Monica Ferris, who writes mystery books about a lady, Betsy Devonshire, who inherits a needlecraft shop, Crewel World, when her sister is murdered.  So now Betsy solves mysteries that happen to crop up around her shop!  While Monica learned various needlepoint techniques to support her writing, she was told — and this is for you, Linda M — “if you can count to five, you can do hardanger.”

At the opening banquet the special award winners from the needlework exhibit are announced.  The most prestigious award is the Princess Grace award and the woman who presented this award was the daughter of the Princess Grace award at a special needlepoint exposition in Monaco.  She said her Mother was a very modest woman who hadn’t ever told her of this achievement.  But the daughter said if anyone ever HAD asked her about it, her Mother would have said, “It was fun and I was happy.”  And doesn’t that sum it all up?

I’m on to my second class tomorrow for which I am the “angel”.  I think that means I take attendance and hand out evaluation forms, but I’ll have more to report on all of this tomorrow!  Sweet Dreams!

Cheers, Rosie

Day Two of American Mosaic


We covered eleven states today, so we are behind a state. But I'm not worried. The stitches are so wonderful that it will be a joy to savor each state as I finish it. Of course the state of my canvas doesn't reflect my joy since there are more tails and tape than stitches. But I will happily attack some of them tonight before I go to brd. Diane is out for a run while I am sitting with a G and T and my canvas. It is such a pleasure sharing a room with Diane. Dee showed us her canvas from her two day class and it is spectacular. Here is a picture of my mess.

My Joyful Mess


Almost to the Mississippi River!


We are moving on! Today we only got to 11 states. Most were easy because the borders are more regular in the Northwest Territory states as well as a few of the southern states. But Florida! Lots of compensation, lots and lots! I now have only two blue threads left to use and one state east of the Mississippi to begin, Illinois. You will see quite a few hanging threads left to finish and one more completed state, Indiana. Plus a couple more history lessons–the Toledo War was “fought” in Congress when Michigan was supposed to enter the union in 1835 along with the slave state, Alabama. Ohio congressmen were blocking the admittance because they wanted the city of Toledo on Lake Erie in their state. You can see a jog in the Ohio/Michigan border just for that. Does make it more interesting. One of the women in the class took close up photos of the piece with her iPad so that as she is stitching she can look at a blown up photo of the state she is stitching. this is valuable when you cannot quite figure out how to begin the next row or when you are not quite sure of the location of the border between two states–they are not all straight lines and those rivers do wiggle around! I am glad that we still have two more days of class as I am on a roll, enjoying the teacher as well as my stitching neighbors.

Cropped picture would not transfer!

Hope to complete some loose threads before class tomorrow!



First day with Chicago Blues


What an amazing first day! The photo in the seminar brochure did not do this piece justice – the threads are gorgeous. I have never ironed fabric onto a piece but did it today. Now we are working to couch the fad own the fabric with multiple layer of stitches.

We also started stitching a couple of the buildings – really a break from the challenge of the layered crouching stitches.
Love the food and the people watching. We had dinner outside tonight and saw 8 twenty-something ladies ,all in pink with high heels that were unbelievable.
Here is a picture of Chicago Blues so far.

Chicago Blues 1st Day

Best, Carol



Dinner at Weber Grill


After a quick trip to the grocery store for a few snack items of both the liquid and solid types, Heidi and I decided we wanted burgers for dinner. We both thought we'd passed a place in one direction from the hotel but couldn't find anything. Coming back toward the hotel, we found a restaurant that looked promising only to find it had at least an hour wait (of course, it's Saturday night in the city!). I had seen Weber Grill (yes, as in Weber grills) by the grocery store and we were able to get 2 seats immediately at the chef's bar where we could see them cooking at the grills. Burgers were absolutely delicious. I am glad though I got the 1/3 lb and NOT the 1/2 lb one!

The chefs at Weber Grill



Chicago Blues!


Hi, Everyone —

Before Meg can get the idea that I’ll be woeing through this post, I need to say that “Chicago Blues” is the name of the project I am doing today and tomorrow and not my state of mind!

I didn’t make a blog post last night because I wanted to focus on getting the Meeting Summary out from Wednesday’s NJNA monthly meeting.  The notes went out just before classes started this morning and new blog followers can check it out by clicking the link.

Chicago Blues is being taught by the designer, Joni Stevenson.  I saw the finished canvas on display in Anaheim and I knew that this would be my first choice piece for Chicago.

The threads in this kit are more beautiful that you can imagine.  We got 20 inches of the most wonderful knitting yarn called Dune and 10 inches of a French scallop ribbon in sorbet!  Plus several colors of Kreinik and two colors of Bijoux to give the canvas lots of bling power!  We also have organza and denim and sequins, so just WOW!

Now I have to admit that the class started on a low point — ironing!  Not one of my finer domestic skills….

But then we started stitching and voila!

Chicago Blues -- Day 1

Chicago Blues — Day 1

Sue, Jill, Carol, and I walked about a block from the hotel to the “Corner Bakery Cafe” for lunch.  It was fabulous — all fresh baked bread, homemade soup and lovely sandwiches.  Panera but better!

Carol and I did about 45 minutes of aquacise after class and it worked wonders at stretching those stitching kinks out of our backs!

For dinner, the four of us from lunch walked to an Italian cafe called Quartino’s where we sat outside and had a ringside seat to all the bachelorette, birthday, and other miscellaneous Saturday night celebrations.  What fun!  Jill has the picture so I am counting on her to post it for you.

Cheers!  Rosie

Stitching across America!


Heidi and I are both enjoying the class American Mosaic, a four day class in which each state is a different thread and a different stitch. We should be set for stitch directions for quite a few projects to come! As we started in New England, we were able to finish a few states before moving on to the next one, but you can see in the picture below that I have a few unfinished states and a few loose threads. As the light (and energy level) is better in the morning, I am going to do my homework of Delaware early tomorrow morning. I have to say that some of these borders are really fussy! Fortunately, the compensating of the stitches that Gail Sirna has selected are relatively easy, (says she who has not yet attacked Maryland which has lots of wonky borders!).

The Northeast

As we have over fifty threads in our envelope of threads, the first thing that Gail had us do was to pull out all the threads in the greens and blues and lay that out by manufacturer and number sequence. That has really helped in locating the thread needed as we threaded up our needles for the next state. I was even able to put a few threads in the bag of “all done” threads! We have also learned a bit about our history and geography in the explanation of the borders and how they got that way. I am finding the class fun, entertaining and educational. More about class tomorrow.



Puzzle Pieces – First Day Progress


I just came back from 6 hours working on Puzzle Pieces by Jackie Murawski. I loved the colors and the fact that there were a lot of multiple layer stitches in this piece, not to mention the geometrics. There are supposed to be 24 people in the class but one woman broke her arm recently so had to cancel (but still paid for the piece so she could get it to do on her own!) and one had to leave at lunchtime due to a family emergency. So there are 22 of us from all over the US.

Jackie handed out the canvas, which I was pleasantly surprised to find was sparkly! She then handed out these wonderful boxes containing our threads, a container for orts, and portable laying tools. There are lots of interesting fibers which I'll talk about another day!


Here's what the piece is supposed to look like when finished.

Puzzle Pieces Design Finished

Today we worked on 3 sections (middle leftmost on above design , the trapezoid above it, and the trapezoid with the crescents ). As you can see, I didn't make much progress! I did a lot of ripping out as the counts have to be exact and I would be off by one, so I'd have to start over!


My progress at end of day one!

I have lots of work ahead of me tonight and may baste so that I can get the next sections tomorrow correct! The class is exactly the challenge I was looking for, but by the end of the day, I needed a break before tackling it again tonight.

I'll see if I can get some class pictures tomorrow.


Day One of American Mosaic


Well, I have returned from six hours of stitching, feeling exhausted,. Gail Sirna is an excellent teacher, but she is trying to cover 12.3 states a day. We have Delaware for homework to make it our 13th state. I have only completed five of the twelve that she taught today. So I have extra homework tonight.

As My Canvas Looked Like at The End of the Day