Friday, February 20, 2009

New Pinn Pattern Ordered!

I got the Pinn pattern I sent for from Thailand (picture a couple of blog entries below) and decided to get another. The one I got this time is "I always feel eternally loving touch." It is in the same style as the first one, and the two will look cute together. I have attached a picture of the one I'm expecting in the mail.

Rats Giggle!

I heard a program on my iPod from Radio Lab about laughter. Some scientists don't believe that any animal besides humans laugh. There were a couple of researchers who worked with rats, and they discovered that they could hear rat noises that weren't audible to the human ear using an electronic device that can detect a larger range of sound. At first, they heard the rats chattering while they were playing (inaudible otherwise), then they tickled the rats to see if they would laugh! Sure enough, there it was. Rat laughter. After being tickled the rats would follow the scientist's hand because it wanted more tickling! Sounds very cute. I tried tickling Lucy this morning but she was too wiggly and I needed to feed her. (She got smoked salmon and a little bit of a Reese peanut butter cup. She is spoiled rotten!)

Cross Stitch, Not Cigarettes

I have been taking Chantix, which is a stop-smoking drug. I have been taking it for two weeks, and although I have cut down considerably on the cigarettes, I really need to stop. Chantix halts the desire for cigarettes. In fact, they are disgusting. But I have a habit of smoking, and I have to find something else to do.

I got a new pattern in the mail yesterday. It is the Pinn pattern from Thailand with the Japanese mother and child in kimonos. I have posted the design to show what it is going to look like. It is rather simple, but maybe what I need right now is a simple, encouraging design to stitch rather that smoking. If I get in the habit of stitching rather that smoking, it would help me a lot.

I also don't want to eat much. The Chantix is affecting my appetite, which I think is a good thing! One of the problems with quitting smoking is the weight gain. Stitch instead of eat, huh?

I need to exercise. I have been wearing a sweat suit every day, thinking I would go over to the gym and exercise. It is too cold outside to walk the dog and get my exercise that way. So I need to go over to the gym.

I hope I can go without cigarettes today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Win at Hidato: Hints

I have noticed that some of my hits arise from folks googling "how to play Hidato." So I want to give a few tips on how to win at the game.

1. Never guess. Start out by going through and filling in all the areas of which you are certain. Then look again to see if, after filling those in, there are any more which have come up. Do this continually until you are finished. THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO GUESS. ONLY FILL IN THE SQUARES OF WHICH YOU ARE CERTAIN.

2. Avoid getting blocked in. There are several ways to get blocked in. One way is insisting that numbers go next to each other in order. Remember that they may be staggered. For example, if you have 51 and 53, it may look obvious to put 52 in the center. But 52 may actually go in the square up or down from the other two numbers. This may especially be the case if there is another sequence going in the same area. Let's say there is a 24 that is nearby, and it needs to get to a 27 which is actually below the 51 and 53. In order to insert the 25 and 26, you will need to leave a space. Staggering the numbers up and down is one way to do it.

Another way to get blocked in is to have a row of blanks in a corner. You need three squares next to each other (not in a row) to turn around in a corner. If you have two empty squares in a row and can't get out of that area, you have done something wrong and need to do some thinking and erasing. There has to be another way to complete the sequence so you can turn around in that corner.

3. If it is obvious that you've done something wrong, count through the entire sequence to see if you have added an extra number or omitted a number. If you have omitted a number, you will end up with a blank when you are finished. If you have added an extra number, you will be struggling where to put something that seems to obviously fit in where you are working.

4. Sometimes the sequence isn't at all obvious. If you find that your numbers aren't fitting, go back and see if you can rearrange the numbers you've already inserted near it. Count backwards or forwards and see whether what's there can be reorganized. You may have to back up several squares to get it right, and you may end up erasing a sequence.

5. Don't be afraid to erase! You may have thought you were certain a number was positioned a particular way, but there may have been other alternatives.

The best way to figure out Hidato is to start with the easy puzzles and work your way to the difficult ones. Then you will learn the tricks along the way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Subversive Cross Stitch!

There's an online shop called Subversive Cross Stitch that has all sorts of charts that might interest the rebellious adult. I say "adult" not because there's so much sexual content, but because the language is a little racey. It's definitely not a site for your kids to be perusing. But if you live alone or with another adult, it might be fun to stitch a little sign that says "Whatever" or "Bite Me" or "Irony is Not Dead." Subversive Cross Stitch is not at all like the Radical Cross Stitch site, which is put together by what I consider to be a fine artist. But it's fun, and if you're not easily offended, is worth the visit.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Radical Cross Stitch

Rayna Fahey, an Australian, has a website called Radical Cross Stitch. Rayna is truly an artist, with an artist's cultural mentality. She has charts for such things as "Question Authority" (surrounded by a pretty flower border), "Riots Not Diets," and "Stop Climate Change" (with a nice polar bear, stitched on a pillow). Rayna's designs are for sale, and right now all the proceeds from her sales are going to the Australian bush fires victims. I strongly encourage you to check out her website and (if you are so inclined) buy something. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Last Cross Stitch Shop in Saint Louis

All the cross stitch shops in Saint Louis, Missouri, have closed -- except one. It is called Shamrock Cross Stitch. It has everything. I was looking for a place to buy Weeks Dye Works and Sampler Threads, and they have them, along with a plethora of threads from several other companies: DMC and Anchor floss, Caron Waterlilies, Sole d' Alger, DMC specialty threads, Thread Gatherers and Rainbow Gallery Fibers. Rainbow Gallery has that fuzzy thread called Fuzzy Stuff that gets used so often for sheep and Santa's beard. They also have Mill Hill beads and buttons, and stacks and stacks of cloth and patterns. You can't order online from Shamrock, unfortunately, but I am sure it will be a great place to visit locally. Well, sorta locally. It's across town. But I am willing to make the drive! I don't care how much gas it takes!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cleaning ladies mess up my stitching stuff!

My cleaning ladies came and "cleaned up" my table with all my stitching stuff on it! Grrrrr! Well, I can't get by without cleaning ladies, so I guess I have to put up with this and reorganize it myself.

My cousin Carl keeps finding new information on our mutual grandfather, Edward (or Edison) Fylor Bradley. My father had told me his father had gotten the flu at basic training and never went overseas during WWI, but it turned out he did, and we have his military records. He also died pretty young of a massive heart attack. Carl is going to the funeral home tomorrow and getting a bunch of information, also on our great-grandfather Edward C. Bradley. Turns out that grandpa Edward had a paramour in Ohio. Don't know if that's why grandma went back to Rochester with the kids, but she also had a "roomer," which is a polite way to put it. His name was Jack Simpson. The woman in Ohio was Iona Henry. All the scandals!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thank you, GBP

You ever talk to a friend who has the ability to make you relax and feel good? I talked to a friend like that last night. All my anxiety disappeared. I was no longer playing the videos of the past in my mind. I was totally in the present listening to him. We talked for three hours, and every minute of it was enjoyable. In addition, we speak the same language, we are both social scientists with an interest in biology. I was able to talk about neural networks and be understood. This morning I had to explain to a very good friend what a receptor was. Last night, there was none of that. It was so good.

This friend suggested I write. I have often talked about getting back into writing but I haven't done it. I plan to try something different this time -- science fiction. I told him I was doing a lot of science fiction reading. He said, "just do it, you don't need to read any more." So here I am, writing in my blog (which he says is really a diary) instead of writing.

But I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, GBP.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

European Cross-Stitch Companies

I received four patterns in the mail from Der Feine Faden.  Der Feine Faden means "the fine thread" which I think is a cool name. The patterns I received range from groups of flowers to mandalas to a Gustav Klimpt reproduction. All look fairly easy, but there are no sizes for fabric, or information on whether it is stitched over one thread or two. There is very little information in the packet in English, and what is there is pretty obvious (like, uses DMC thread). I love the designs, though, and can hardly wait to stitch them. I got them from European Cross Stitch.

Another European stitch company is Le Bonheur des Dames, which means, in French, "the happiness of women." It is also the title of a book by that name by Emil Zola. These are available from ABC Stitch Therapy. It is translated on the web as "The women's delight." I  received two patterns from them.  

The European cross stitch companies produce very fine designs, often very delicate, with ample size patterns that one could be almost blind to see them!

Friday, February 06, 2009

My Hobby Lobby Adventure

I was feeling really exhausted this morning, but after lunch I decided I wanted to stitch the Bobbie G "LOVE" design. This meant getting into the car and driving out to Kirkwood (about 10 miles in city traffic) to Hobby Lobby. I got the thread, then discovered a whole lot of ribbon yarn for $1.99 each. I thought, well, if I want to teach crochet at the children's hospital that I'm going to be volunteering at starting in March, I might as well get some yarn for them to make cell phone cases (I have used ribbon yarn for this myself and it's great). So I bought the stuff, and then I walked a few buildings over to get Yoggies (yogurt drops) for the rats at Petco, and I left my wallet there. I didn't discover it until I drove up in front of my building, alas, and this was after driving the 10 miles home from Hobby Lobby. I tried calling but there was no answer. So I got back into the car and made the 20 mile round trip again, and of course my wallet was there at Petco. What a hassle! But now I have the threads for the Bobbie G design and John's baby rat really appreciated the yogurt drops. BTW, John and Dan are coming tomorrow to get the rat, hurray!

Le Bonheur des Dames eyeglass case

Well, I took a look at the pattern. It's over one! The pattern is very large, and of course the case won't be. I don't know what count the fabric is, but it may be 28 or 32. So over one on high count fabric. The threads are already separated in the kit (which is nice). A lot of the instructions are in French, with a few select ones in English and other languages, but I can figure it out. The colors are also in French, but I decided that I can look at the picture and figure out which ones are which. I can't decide whether to start this one or do the Valentine's Day ones first, leaving this for after the 14th. I'm thinking -- maybe I'll start it. I am washing the fabric for both the eyeglass case and the Bobbie G "LOVE" design. I am looking forward to doing some stitching! By the way, it is 60 degrees here today (Spring is coming?) and I'm going to walk with Ace (my border collie) to the Subway half a mile away.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"How to Live on Mars"

I am reading an interesting book by Robert Zubrin called How to Live on Mars. It is an imaginary (yet fact-based) handbook for getting to Mars, setting up, getting rich, finding water, etc. Zubrin is a member of a group called the Mars Society (Mars Society) which wrote a declaration in 1998 proposing that we explore Mars and use Mars as a frontier. The book is very accessible and has a lot of drawings demonstrating various concepts and constructs. I am only part of the way through the book, and will probably finish it today. It is possible, that for me, the book is a little too simple. But it is written for the general public and I hope it ends up on the bestseller list. I also hope Barack Obama reads it!

A regular one-year membership in the Mars Society is $50. 

Weather and Phone Calls

Well, it's warming up here a bit.  It's going to be in the 50s and 60s over the next several days. This is a welcome change from 10 degrees with wind. I plan to walk half a mile with the dog to Subway, grab a sandwich, and walk back the half mile. I am really looking forward to the warmer weather. Maybe Spring really is around the corner, but first we need to get past the Vernal Equinox on March 21. 

I feel like I've spent the past two days on the phone. I have talked to my newfound cousin Carl several times (found out my great aunt Clara made a killer orange cake) and also talked to my buddy from grad school for about 3 hours last night. We are going to talk again on the weekend. There is a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Camille is going to learn to stitch!

A few days ago I posted a picture of a design from The Bold Sheep called "Crazy Cat."  I got it for my daughter, Camille, who is 17. She has never stitched before and doesn't know any of the crafts/skills my mother taught me and my grandmother taught her -- and my great-grandmother's incredible stitching skills were never passed down  entirely. I want my girl to learn cross stitch, so I got her the cat kit. I showed it to her today, and lo and behold! She is enthusiastic. She even went through The Bold Sheep catalog and checked off designs that she would like to stitch. I can't express how happy I am that she is going to learn to stitch! Of course she is much older than I was when I learned, but I'm sure she'll be great at it! I washed the fabric to get the creases out, and I'm going to grid the fabric before Camille starts stitching, just to make it easier. Heck, I always grid my own fabric when I stitch. No, it's not because I can't count. It's just harder to make mistakes if the fabric is gridded. So the next time Camille comes over, we'll get to it!

Talked to an old friend

Somebody I went to grad school with.  Nice person. He's not in academia any more (neither am I). He is in Phoenix taking care of his 92 year old mom. It was nice to locate him. I found him through one of his mentors/coauthors. More about him later. He doesn't cross-stitch but he's got an incredible blog!


It's 10 degrees outside.  The lines at the car wash have been endless, so I waited until this morning (7:00 am) to beat the crowds.  Car wash went somewhat well, but there's ice frozen on my side mirrors now, and streaks of ice down the back and top of the car.  That's what you get for having a car wash in the dead of winter!

Bobbie G's "LOVE" design

I received some of my Valentine's Day stitching charts in the mail yesterday.  My favorite is a design by Bobbie G which is the word "LOVE" which includes hand-painted pink fabric.  I plan to stitch the design on the fabric, then do it again on Silkweaver hand-dyed solo fabric.  I'm making this for my two boys for Valentine's Day.  

Monday, February 02, 2009

Relationship between Hidato Puzzle & Cross Stitch

I realized while I was doing a Hidato puzzle just now that Hidato and cross-stitch have much in common. In Hidato, you must find your way through a maze of numbers and every number must be next to the one before it and the one after it. Cross-stitch is a similar sort of maze. The design is printed on a page with a key, and you must figure out how to place the stitches for the neatest, most logical "solution," so to speak. I saw, when realizing this similarity, why I like both!

Where to find Hidato Online!

More "not-stitching" but something cool!

I was working away on my blog today when I received a phone call from somebody I didn't know. He asked for "Candy" and I said, "This is Candice." Nobody but my parents call me "Candy" and it drives me crazy. Anyway, it turned out to be my first cousin Carl B. from Rochester. He hunted around for me on the internet and then called information for my number. I met Carl once.  He was about 11 years old and I think I was 21. My sister and I had visited my uncle and his family on our way to Niagara Falls. We spent the night there and had dinner. They were very nice to us. 

Carl is a really nice person. We talked for a long time and I promised to call him back. We both have children older than I was when we met. I didn't realize it was that long ago that I met him and his sister Eve. My uncle Al died in 1988. Carl says his dad was his best friend. My dad and Al did not get along, for a variety of reasons. They had very different experiences during childhood. Carl and I were able to fill in some gaps in our ancestors' stories, and I promised him that I would get onto my other (not in use) computer and download the genealogy records I have accumulated. Then we can compare notes and fill in the blanks. I am so glad I did research on my family. Carl didn't even know that his grandma's ancestors came over before the Revolutionary War and were from Holland. I think he will be amazed.

Okay, this isn't about stitching, but maybe some day I will be able to stitch at least a skeleton of a family tree.  It would have to be awfully large!


Although I usually write about cross-stitch and other crafts, today I am going to write about a game invented by an Israeli mathematician named Gyora Benedek. The game is called Hidato and it is a number/logic game which involves filling in blanks on a number grid (sort of like Sidoku) but rather they are filled in order. I am having a great time with this puzzle and own the two available puzzle books by the inventor. (They are at I am attaching a picture of a Hidato puzzle as an example. There is a learning curve, and the puzzles start easy and end hard. But by the time you get to the difficult puzzles, you've pretty much gotten the pattern wired. I am to the point that I can almost do them in my sleep, and I imagine when I finish these two books I will be ready to move onto something else. I do hope Gyora Benedek publishes more Hidato books. I am hooked.

Here is Gyora Benedek's bio and a very interesting story about how he came to invent these puzzles because he saw a school of fish while skindiving!

January Cross Stitch Crazy

It takes a while for the British magazines to get here, so I just recently got the January issue of Cross Stitch Crazy. Of course, somebody visiting Barnes & Noble stole the free gift that was in the package with the magazine. I could kick myself for not checking first.  Most of the designs in the magazine aren't interesting to me, but I like one that says "Forget the Gym.  Stitch Yourself Slim," featuring a slightly chubby woman surrounded by delectable goodies, sitting cross-legged on an exercize mat, stitching. The design is shown as a pillow, which I think is pretty cute. It has a really nice border, which is the one thing that makes the entire design appealing. The pattern is rather simple, although the instructions say it would take 40-50 hours to stitch. I don't think there are any partial stitches (let me check): yes I am correct. Whole stitches only, but there are some French knots (see my blog entry on doing French knots). And there is a lot of backstitching. The design looks cute though, and might be worth stitching.

There is one other section of the magazine featuring a fairy alphabet. They show an example of a stitched name, and it's quite nice. It would be great for a little girl's door, but I know adults who like fairies (heck, I like fairies) and I thought of making one for a friend in New Zealand. Each letter takes 4-5 hours to stitch, which means a five-letter name takes 20-25 hours to stitch. The nice thing about this alphabet is that there are very few design repeats. So often, when they do an alphabet, they have only a few designs for the motif with the letters that they repeat too often -- I reject those.

By the way, the January issues of the British cross stitch magazines still include Christmas designs. This issue is no exception. I guess they come out well before Christmas in England. 

So that's it for the January issue of Cross-Stitch Crazy. There may be other designs in there that you like, but these are the only ones I would consider stitching. I'm looking forward to the February issue, and this time I'm going to make sure nobody stole the free gift!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My friend Charlie

I call him "Happy Charlie" because he is always so positive and smiles all the time. Charlie doesn't have a job right now, like a lot of people. I think we all know somebody who doesn't have a job, don't we? Anyway, Charlie is a very generous person. For example, he drives homeless people to church on Sunday, visits children at a hospital, and he helped me hang my pictures, put together my bookshelf and wine rack, and recently he put together my fish tank stand, which was a real challenge. Charlie came and picked me up at the hospital the other day. Then he stayed with me until my daughter Camille came over. Charlie and I watched movies on TV and he said it was a very relaxing afternoon. I was still recovering from the anesthesia from the surgery.  It was so good to have him come here. The only funny thing was that the nurse at the hospital suggested he help me get dressed, and Charlie isn't that kind of friend! We both got a laugh out of that!  Of course Charlie stepped outside while I dressed.  It was really funny.

Who is Nimue?

I got curious about who designs the Nimue patterns.  This is what I found at the website!

Nimuë, is a person : Annaïck Chauvel
Cultural engineer and artist, She became the Director of  Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien (Centre of the Imaginative World of Arthur) at the Château de Comper at the age of 25.
For ten years here in the  mytical  forest of Brocéliande, in Brittany, she organised meetings with many academics, writers, painters, photographers, illustrators, film-makers and other creators of imaginative works.
Some became her friends, and when, in 2002, she decided to create counted cross-stitch designes on the thermes dear to her, Celtic Mythology, the Marvels of the Middle Ages, the fairy-tale World, and the Legendary world, naturally it was the works of her friend that she interpreted in embroidery.
The Matière de Bretagne (Arthurian Cycle) is the breeding ground for her inspiration.

The best collection of wedding samplers!

I have been looking at wedding samplers on various websites, and I finally found the mother-lode of wedding samplers.  They are on the Abc Cross Stitch website.  There is a drop-down menu which lists weddings as one option, and there are (get this!) 17 online pages of wedding cross-stitch! I am going to remember this for the future.  The website is  Go for it!

Nimue designs

I love Nimue designs.  Mostly they are elves and fairies.  There are two named Mic and Mac (try looking that up on the internet and you get lots of computer sites!).  Nimue is in France, but they are sold her by ABC Stitch Therapy (I haven't found any other place).  I did send an email to Nimue in France to ask how to buy the designs directly through them.  The website is in French and the order page appears only to take French addresses.  Anyway, I have attached here a couple of Nimue designs I ordered from ABC Stitch.

I think these designs are really charming.  I have loved them for a long time but have never ordered any.  I like the one with the musicians because I play flute, banjo and tin whistle and love Irish music.  It is too cute!