Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

One More Time

Posted: January 7, 2019 by suegrain in Besties, Finished Stitches, Stuff

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything, here. Not even an update for ongoing projects. I’ve posted pictures on the Book of Faces, but other than that, I’ve been silent on the stitching front. Part of the reason is because three years on, I’m still processing various levels of grief for a variety of people and even this country (and that’s all I’m going to say on that particular subject in this post).

However, along about late spring or early summer of 2018, a dear friend of mine announced that his wife was finally pregnant and past her first trimester.ย  Suffice it to say that they’d been trying for many years and were over the moon about passing that milestone. Naturally, I passed the news on to my bestie, Alesia who is the one that introduced me to Hal some years ago.

The conversation went something like this:

A: “We should do something special for them!”

S: “We totally should! I’ll have to dig through my stash and see if I have something that will work.”

A: “You could do another crib blanket!”

S: “I …. could. Dammit, why do you do this to me?!”

Needless to say, doing yet another crib blanket was the last thing I wanted to do, at the time of this conversation for one reason: To my perspective, it seemed as if I had just finished the last one from Bev’s list. Of course, grief is not kind to linear time and I realized it had been at least a year since I finished the last one. Alesia, whether consciously or not, had actually hit upon the one thing I might need to help reconcile those projects from a bittersweet experience to a much more joyous one.

Once the idea had taken root, I started perusing my favorite online stitching shop. Now, it may sound relatively easy to simply pick out a pattern, but do you know how saccharine sweet those things can be?! I mean, really… you almost need an insulin shot just to look at them.ย  So, I had to find one that fit what I knew of their personalities, what fit with mine and yet was cute and adorable for a baby. After about an hour, I finally settled on one and ordered it. While waiting for it, I had a chance to gear up for stitching it and for setting aside other projects while I did so. I had a Yule project in the works, but a first baby only comes once, so that’s what I focused on for the rest of the year.

During that process, I obviously thought a lot about Bev, Alesia, and Theresa (another high school friend of 30+ years). All of them are best friends to me, in their own ways. Heart-sisters that I would aid however I could if they needed it. As with all sisters, we don’t (or didn’t) always agree. However, I knew they’d have my back if I needed it just as surely as I’d have theirs.ย  I know that my life would be so much poorer if I’d never met them. I also know that living as far apart, physically, as we did made it difficult to maintain the friendship (before the advent of the intar-webs, folks). For instance, I don’t know Bev’s daughter, Debbie, as well as I might like and I know Theresa’s kids hardly at all. Alesia’s I know a bit better because we talk a lot about our kids to each other and I’ve spent vacation time with her boys when I visited her over the last 25 years. There is regret there for that lack and guilt, even if I know that I did what was right for me and my family.

That last I realized as I stitched this particular crib blanket. And I realized it when we had Theresa here visiting over the summer.ย  “How far apart did we really move?” I asked myself. Not just in physical miles, but emotionally and spiritually. I know we’ve all changed over the years. That’s usually inevitable, but I found myself wondering just how much that change affected our friendships. I think the largest difference in how Bev and I changed is that I didn’t fight quite so hard to keep things the same. ๐Ÿ™‚ We both had a difficult time with physical changes ( shifts in routines, scheduling shifts, &c.), but my being the “cleric” of our duo had me embracing the spiritual and emotional change more readily. I came to accept that our divergent growth was really okay.ย  And that, my friends, was one of the realizations I needed in learning how to carry grief.

Being the eldest of my dad’s four girls had me taking on responsibility for nurturing and caring far earlier than I normally would. It was exacerbated by my parents’ alcoholism and divorce. So those habits of thought and deed are not so easily set aside. Nor is the guilt and regret for not fulfilling some part of my “role” because your friends are not on the same path as you. I felt as if I had somehow failed in my duty and responsibility in not getting her to see and understand some esoteric, essential truth because I wasn’t with her all the time, anymore. It was never conscious, that guilt and regret but realizing I had it helped me into that other realization: That it was okay if we’d grown differently. That we hadn’t lost anything that made our friendship so special, that we could and did stand strong together and apart.

I finished this blanket with more love and joy than I expected to because of that realization and I put it lovingly in its box and sent it on its way last week. Even though this weekend (Jan. 5 and 6) marks the third anniversary of Bev’s passing and I still grieve, the burden has shifted. It’s not quite such a heavy thing to carry, anymore. I will probably carry it for some time, yet but at least I know how to do that better.

Now, here are the pics of Emma’s blanket:


My 2017 Finishes [photos]

Posted: December 31, 2017 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches, Stuff
Tags: , , , , ,

Some years I get more accomplished, others much less, but I’m pretty proud of my 2017 finishes. I’ve been in a much better mental and emotional state this year, overall. The setbacks were horrid, but mercifully brief, and some truly good things happened to me this year that didn’t come about from fuckery, first. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fingers crossed for 2018.

Not in chronological order, because you can’t expect computers to understand that kind of thing, I guess:

Hell Bats is my design, so it counts as two finishes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Art Nouveau Letters, by Ink Circles, on a piece of dusty pink 30 ct murano, a poly-cotton blend. This chart was a surprise gift from my adopted daughter, Rachel O’Gorman. I started it during 2017’s stitchy retreat with the other grimalkin here, Sue. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rebel Princess was my first finish of 2017. It’s attached to my Ott lamp, in honor and memory of Carrie Fisher. Design by CatLadyXStitching on Etsy.

I made this from an old plastic casette tape box so my husband could take his favorite bulk tea along with him on overnight trips. The design came from an issue of Cross Stitch Collection.

Clitarita is another of my designs, and the first design I ever offered for sale. I stitched it on 28 ct black monaco.

This set of chess piece “coasters” was in an issue of Just Cross Stitch in 2016, but I finished the last of four for my husband this past year. Design by Marie Barber. The finished king is below.

This was another colorway for Mackintosh Roses, a design from Cross Stitch Collection. Design by Maria Diaz.

Sorry it’s sideways. Contortionist Santa ornaments for my daughter in law, step-grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.

This is for the “sea whore” stitch-along in the WTFYW XS group. Design from Makibird, on DeviantArt.

Another piece for one of the WTFYW stitch-alongs. Design by Makibird, on DeviantArt.

And this is what I stitched for my bestie, who has had a fucking rough couple of years and has never been far from my thoughts. The kitty alphabet is one for which I did not save the link, and I’m sorry for that. :-\

Except for one more small thing that I can’t post about because it’s not been delivered yet, that’s it. 2018 promises a couple of BIG finishes in addition to the smaller pieces, if the WIPs underway are any indication. Thanks for stopping by to take a look.

An Original Finish: Clitarita!

Posted: September 11, 2017 by zenstitcher in Stuff
Tags: , , ,

I feel pretty proud to introduce a preview of this design here at Grimalkin Crossing: Clitarita, a counted cross stitch project stitched on 28 count black monaco, using two strands of DMC cotton floss “over two.” This is fresh off the hoop, I haven’t soaked it yet to plump up any of the fibers — but that coverage is already f’n fabulous.

Design and Copyright by Alesia Matson 2017

Clitarita was inspired by the magnificent, magical, infinitely perfect design of the human clitoris, and by my love of Art Nouveau colors and curves.

I designed it because I need a new bag in which to keep my favorite deck of tarot cards + book, and because I want to make it myself. It was pretty important for the new bag to feature something I’d stitched, but the more I looked at designs that I thought might be appropriate, the more I realized that I really just wanted to stitch a clit.

A pretty clit.

So, here we are. The world could do with 100 more pretty clit designs for counted cross stitch, so like, now there’s only 99 to go.

The story behind the name is as follows: The WTFYW Cross Stitch fb group has had stitch-alongs (SAL) every month this year, and we’ve featured themes for beverages (alcoholic and otherwise), and for the sexy bits of the human body, and in a group chat I sort of recklessly (well, actually drunkenly) promised something along the lines of a mojito backed up by a vagina — Vagito — and I never could get anything right that I liked.

Then there was that depressive relapse, and I lost interest in just about everything, again. Anyway, when my current tarot card bag began to unravel at the bottom seam and I needed a new design for it, I spent about a week getting this down on paper, then reached for colors that were meaningful to me.

  • The pink is not only because some of my favorite clits are pink, but also because I made peace in my decades-long war with the color pink just generally, and wanted to commemorate that I got my power back out of it.
  • The blue is for a pair of eyes I will never see in this life, and…
  • the green is kind of margarita green so I can touch back to Vagito, anyway.

So, there you have it. Now I have to solve the ever-looming, long-delayed software issue at my workstation, because I MISS DESIGNING these things and I don’t intend to be thwarted on this any longer!

Thanks for reading along. If you are interested in stitching a version of Clitarita for yourself, stay tuned. It’s coming!

The Last Thing

Posted: June 18, 2017 by suegrain in Stuff

Here it is, folks. The last baby quilt is done. It needs a wash, the backing and trim put onto it, but the stitching is finally done. I needed a little extra encouragement to get the last 1/4 of it finished, but I did it. ย (Please God, ignore the dirty walls in the picture. I don’t even know how it got splattered or what it is. Just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it off, yet. :P)

Anyway, the finish for this is quite bittersweet. ย I’m relieved to have it done yet that relief is tinged with sadness that Bev isn’t here to have done it herself nor to see it done. At this time, I’m also going through my own peri-menopausal roller-coaster. I’ve had some signs for a year, but nothing that got in the way of my day-to-day. Then along comes May and now I’m gritting my teeth, biting my tongue and just trying to get through this transition, too. Make no mistake, accepting and dealing with the death of my best friend is also a huge transition and one that rather surprised me.

I’ve lost family members and friends before this. I grieved and cried, but I’ve never had any lingering sadness or active thoughts of missing them. I was able to move on pretty quickly and simply counted myself as practical enough to know that they’ll still live on in my heart and memories and it was all good.

This has been different. I was with her when she died, I helped guide her to the threshhold as any good cleric and healer would and saw her over it. I knew she was where she needed to be and yet… this heaviness still clings. This is the first time I’ve had to learn how to actually carry grief. This is not going to go away any time soon and “getting over it,” may actually never happen.

I needed to remind myself time and time again that just because this is the last favor I could do for her, it won’t sever our connection, nor will it end my grief. Having to remind myself often and sternly is why the last 1/4 took so long. I thank all my lucky stars for having a friend like Alesia I could talk to that could stand back a little and help me with a more objective (and sometimes a little more stern when I needed it) perspective. She reminded me of my lasting connection when I couldn’t remind myself.

Bev will always be a part of my life and the grief of her passing will remain and I’m learning how to carry that grief so it won’t weigh me down unduly. It’s a process and a process that is different for everyone.

I thank you all for your support, understanding, words and memes of encouragement. They have all helped a lot

P.S. – Some of you may see this more than once since FB is kinda messed up about cross-posting and the fact that Alesia has things set up to automatically share posts to her FB timeline. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rowan Stitch Complete

A Chatelaine’s Collar

Posted: January 9, 2017 by zenstitcher in Finished Stitches, Stuff
Tags: , ,

As some of you may know, aย chatelaine is “a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it”. Click on any of those links to learn more — in eras when women didn’t have pockets, this was one way for them to keep necessary items close at hand during the long waking hours.

As stitchers, those who still practice an art with roots back in antiquity, we can relate to those particular needs. As the endlessly entertaining obsessions with needle minders and scissor fobs roll through my online communities, I have to remind myself that these things remain popular because, when you’ve got your hands full of hoop, fabric, needle, and floss, the last thing you want to do is take off across the room to retrieve the damned snips you left over on the bookcase.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a photo of a precious, precious gift I received years ago, from the woman who taught me how to cross stitch:

Sampler Chatelaine's Collar

Stitched for me by Janice Chamness

My last name at that time was also “Chamness.” ย ๐Ÿ™‚ ย I put this away years ago in an attempt to preserve it, though I still use those fancy Gingher snips and that brass needle case, every time I stitch.

That’s a linen band. The alphabet is the old one without a J or a U, like the Country English Posture Alphabet of 1782. And every one of those stitches is f’nย perfect.

Janice was a model stitcher when we met, and her work was displayed all over southern Ohio and southeastern Indiana — maybe as far as Illinois because I remember that’s where her mother was from. And when I was pregnant with her first grandchild and asked her if she could stitch the birth record she said (and I hope I remember this to my dying day), “No, but you could.” ย Then proceeded to teach me how.

That was just over 33 years ago now. She made the chatelaine’s collar for me in 1989, when it was clear she had me hooked. ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve got it out again to wash in Orvus, then wrap in acid free paper before I put it away. But it was nice to handle it again, and think loving thoughts for that wonderful woman who introduced me to this craft. Love you, Janice!!

The Journey Back Begins

Posted: November 13, 2016 by zenstitcher in Stuff

I slept for most of eight consecutive hours last night.

Michael took me by the hand and showed me the way back through the gate to Menelon. I wrote for six hours, yesterday. I worked out on my yoga mat. I ate two hot meals, and drank coffee. I tasted all of it, for the first time since Tuesday.

I’m getting there.

If my gassy dog doesn’t kill me first. [gags]

When Your Best Friend is AWESOME

Posted: November 10, 2016 by zenstitcher in Besties, Stuff

Sue knows me better than any other woman on this planet. ๐Ÿ˜€  I โค her so much.She keeps giving me reasons to be grateful, even in a year as overall-shitty as this one has been.

I love you, SueSweet. Which you knew, before you sent me this HELLA awesome brew mug, with lid, that I’m making a cup of coffee for RIGHT NOW. smooch 

Thank you. In a week where I feel like a stranger in my own country, you’ve reminded me that there is still a whole lot to love. HUGS!~

On a Lighter Note

Posted: November 9, 2016 by suegrain in Stuff

An update on the Spring Sampler. Worked on this during my vacation because several issues made it difficult to work on the new project. Though I could only concentrate enough to put in about 50 stitches today, I’m still making progress. Tonight, I’ll pick up the last of Bev’s baby quilts and see how much work I can do there.


For All Who Woke Up Afraid [blog post]

Posted: November 9, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams, Information, Stuff

This is my tarot card of the day. For the real America, the America in which I live, this is going to be our card for the next four years. The message is extraordinary, and I’ve included it below.

The Five of Wands

This art is Marie White's and she is FABULOUS.

The Five of Wands, Mary-El Tarot

Here is the interpretation of the card, typed in by me. The grammar and phrasing are Ms. White’s:

A Lion is a great and powerful symbol for the Sun, with his corona of radiant mane, his domination of the landscape, his heart and roar, which according to the Proverbs of Hell is a portion of Eternity to great for the eye of man to behold.

This is the fire in the forest, Lion in the forest, is a fire in the temple, broken off piece of the sun; a burning, blazing, consuming and hungry source of life and energy, ancient and unfaltering. We tend to it, keep it, and pass it to our children. It is strong and old, it always perseveres and never gives up, nor is it ever tamed.

It is present in men and women, in the temple of our body. In the garden of paradise that resides in our breast. This is the lion that lays with the lamb. Aslan. The pure innocence of a child, or a unicorn, ox, aleph at the start of life, divine and untouched is in contrast to the omega-Lion, who has experience and through perseverance, wisdom and hardship been tempered and grown a great and courageous heart.

The fire from the 4 of Wands now has a face, a lion, a will, life of its own, individuality. It has direction, force, and determination. It is the tip of the spear wielded by the Archangel Michael to fight dragons in the 6 of Wands. This is your purpose, direction, Will, and Life.

KEYWORDS: Strength in opposition, perseverance, unwavering, unrelenting, powerful, great of heart. Conquer through heart, integrity, greatness. Point of no return. Tip of the Spear. Show of force. Righteous force. Force now beyond your control. Reality bearing down on you. Trail blazing. Even if you are getting beat up right now, you were made for this and have the skills to succeed.

REVERSED: Bloodlust. War. Violence.


The dragons she mentions in the 6 of Wands, the ones this energy is gathered to fight?  “Darkness and ignorance from within.”

I don’t know how yet, either. But I’m here at my home today, searching for the courage to leave my house. No apologies for that, if you know me at all, you know the battles I’ve fought just to survive depression, this year. Seven months ago, I was suicidal. This morning, before I looked at that card, I felt as if I were right back there again, that the last seven months hadn’t happened at all.

Now, I’m beginning to feel cornered. The door to Menelon slammed shut on me last night. I’ve got nowhere else to go, and a family full of bigots, mysogynists, and hypocrites that helped to put me in this place. I’m getting MAD, kids. And that’s a good sign — I’d rather turn this shit out, than in again.

Do me a solid, and leave me a comment here. Not on Facebook. Not from Twitter. I can’t even leave my house right now, there’s no way I’m looking at the rest of the bigots and and mysogynists on social media. If you’re scared, sad, depressed, or even angry, don’t be afraid to say so. We’ve got to reach out to one another today and find ways to stay strong until the shock passes.

DMC Matte Finish Floss!

Posted: November 8, 2016 by zenstitcher in Information, Stuff

HOMG I’m dying, here… 

I love playing with texture as well as with color when I stitch. When I consider beginning any project, I’m also thinking about which flosses can be switched out for a metallic finish, or the super-saturated sheen of a silk floss, looking for where a change of texture or reflectiveness can improve the aesthetic of the design.

Imagine my delight when I opened an email promo from DMC this morning and found this:

I honestly can’t wait to get my fingers on this stuff. Each fiber I’ve ever tried has a unique “feel,” as well as a distinct sound when it’s pulled through cloth that’s been stretched tight in a hoop. These tactile pleasures are part of the experience for me as much as the visual impact of the result. Discovering something new like this in my hobby does a bit to redeem 2016 from the “crap status” ranking it so richly deserves.

Thanks, DMC.