This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for the ‘embroidery’ Category

Lady with Unicorn Update: Third Row Finished

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 10, 2017

Lady with Unicorn

Just wanted to brag about finishing another row in the endless embroidery. Did I mention that it contains over 180,000 stitches?

If you’re working on this piece, don’t give up! The tablecloth is a killer and takes about twice as long as the other pages, but the lion and unicorn bodies are easier than the fruit salad that surrounds them.

Here’s the whole photoset.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, photography | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lady with Unicorn Embroidery: Almost at Half-Way Point

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 8, 2017


I’m still working on the never-ending “Lady and Unicorn: Sense of Hearing” embroidery. I’ve just finished the second row of charts, which means I’m just a few rows above the halfway point! (The last row of charts isn’t a full page.)

This piece is 318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches), with 133 colours (mostly blends of two strands). It uses about 20 different shades of red. Good thing I don’t mind looking at the colour.

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

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Lady with Unicorn Update and Other Stuff

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 30, 2012

Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn

By now y’all are probably thinking I traded in my needles and thread (not to mention beads, bobbins, lace pillows, fiber, and spinning wheel ….) for a camera and tripod. This blog originally started as more of a crafty blog and changed direction slowly as I ventured out with my camera. So here’s proof that I still remember how to use a needle. I haven’t posted an update since last October because I hardly worked on it this year.

I’ve just completed the third page of 25 pages, about 22,000 stitches. This pattern is “Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn,” purchased from Scarlet Quince.

318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches)
130 colours (good thing I like red, because I’m seeing a lot of it)
18-count Aida (= 18 stitches/inch)
Started Nov. 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking

A couple comments from Perky Poppy reminded me that the High Holidays are almost here! Time for me to tie on my bright red, floor-length bistro apron and disappear in a cloud of flour…

Here are links to my Rosh Hashanah posts from last year. I’m reviewing them so that I can put together menus. If you have any ideas for a killer appetizer or dessert, pass them on! 🙂

Rest of Life

I haven’t been posting much recently and I’m way behind on my photos (still stuck in the Florence set!) because I’ve been so busy teaching a course at work on Enterprise Architect, a UML tool. I was sent to the UK for a four-day course this summer (with a side trip to Stonehenge) to learn the program.

I’ve prepared lectures, exercises, guides, and just finished a second session with the system architects. That leaves about two more sessions with architects, who-knows-how-many sessions with component owners and developers (they’re an unknown quantity), and one session with the technical writers. My brain hurts just thinking about it. But at least it will get easier with time. The only thing that doesn’t end is the technical support and hand-holding….

I’ve got a couple photo jobs lined up but they’re non-paying, so I may or may not blog them. One of them required me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), which means you won’t hear about it before it takes place.

Getty emailed me about one of my images. I opened a Getty account, forgot about it, got a reminder (from a real person — imagine that!), and dutifully uploaded a high res copy. It was a good lesson in the necessity of archiving my images in their post-processed form. I don’t want to repeat the experience of staring at a RAW file and thinking, “How the heck did I process this three years ago?”

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Food | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Free Machine Quilting and Leah Day

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 4, 2011

First attempt at free-form machine stitching

I dug up my old darning foot and did a little experimenting a couple days ago. Near the end of the exercise I started to feel comfortable with the process, by speeding up the machine speeding and focusing on the hand coordination. Now I see how those special “gripping” gloves would really make a difference!

I picked up some excellent tips from Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project, especially the Start Here page.

She has a wealth of information available and sells some truly useful products for reasonable prices, like quarter-inch piecing feet, generic darning feet, gloves, teflon sheet, and bobbin case liners. Although I have a darning foot already, I bought her generic foot because it’s plastic and see-through. I found it difficult to see what I was doing with my metal foot. The navigation on the site leaves something to be desired, so if you see a product you like (like the gloves or presser feet), you will have to click your way from links embedded here and there on her blog. She doesn’t have a well-developed navigation system for her shop. The shipping to Israel was very reasonable, about $6 for a bundle of things. She accepts PayPal and credit cards.

Leah Day started the Free Motion Machine Quilting Project because she was so bored with stippling (translation for non-quilters: quilting stitch (the stitching that holds together the sandwich of a backing, batting, and a top) that meanders around in S-shaped curves, never crossing. She has posted hundreds of free designs, with videos. What I find mind-boggling is the ease with which she sews these complex shapes.

Take her Moon Feathers design, for example. Most mere mortals would be gritting their teeth and holding their breath while creating this design. She makes it look like meditation, as easy as breathing! I applaud her generosity in sharing her designs and expertise and am happy to support her shop.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | 5 Comments »

Lady with Unicorn Update

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 3, 2011

Lady and Unicorn update - Oct 2, 2011

It’s been ages since I posted an update on this piece, because it’s been months since I set up my embroidery stand. Something always eats away at my free (ha!) time or I’m too tired to set up the stand, unfold the pattern easel, pull out my magnets and clips, etc. When my husband asked why I didn’t use up the fabric I have taking up space on our shelves, I said it was because sewing the fabric was the best way to get rid of it and I never had the sewing machine set up. (Naturally, I didn’t mention the options of selling, giving away, or burning the fabric as an offering to the goddess of unfinished works….). He suggested setting up our small folding table (the kind you used to get from the Jewish Agency as part of your immigration package, along with the cheap plastic chairs, rickety little bed, and plastic dishes). I was so thrilled to get six square feet of work space that I hugged him. You’d think that years of grad school would have taught me the lesson that nothing gets done if you don’t make time and space for it. I would never have finished my dissertation if I hadn’t had a library to go to and a desk at home. It’s a far cry from having a real studio but it’s better than letting the months slip by without working a single stitch. So now I have a little table of my own … at least until Sukkot. We have a tiny sukkah and this mini table is the only one that fits.

Here’s the last photo I took of this embroidery, on March 3, 2011. The previous blog post is here.

Lady with Unicorn, 2 pages complete

Miscellaneous data:
Purchased from Scarlet Quince
318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches)
130 colours
18-count Aida (= 18 stitches/inch)
Started Nov. 23, 2009

We had some work done on our bathroom. Here are the before and after photos:

Bathroom before renovations


We were very satisfied with our builder. If you want his name and number, send me an email.

Shanah tovah (happy new year)!

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Lady with Unicorn Update

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 27, 2011

I know, I know — I posted an update on February 1, 2011. I’m only posting this one because it’s (almost) a milestone. I’m (almost) finished the second page of charts.

It’s harder to count the actual stitches now that I’m no longer working in blocks, but I estimate that I need to do another 200 stitches to finish this page. That means I’ve worked about 14,430 stitches, about 11%. Wow, I didn’t realise I’d reached the 10% milestone!

Miscellaneous data:
Purchased from Scarlet Quince
318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches)
130 colours
18-count Aida (= 18 stitches/inch)
Started Nov. 23, 2009

Lady with Unicorn, Feb. 26, 2011, Update

Here’s the previous update photo, taken at the end of January:

Lady with Unicorn Update

The piece is going so much faster since I stopped “parking” my stitches. If you’re not sure what parking is, Scarlet Quince has a tutorial. I’m not saying parking doesn’t have its place in a needle-geek’s arsenal. It’s just that in this case it’s not necessary, probably because I’m working on 18-count Aida. If I were working on a much higher thread-count fabric (like Gary Schneider, who started Golden Kite’s “Picture Gallery, with Views of Modern Rome,” on 26-count linen, 1-thread over) I would probably need to park my threads. In my case, the results didn’t justify the extra work and needle-threading. And if you don’t have a clue what kind of needle-threading this technique (pun alert) entails, here’s a photo taken with the parked threads:

Lady with Unicorn, Nov. 7

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is it February already?

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 1, 2011

I lost track of the time, er, calendar until I checked my email this morning and discovered and inbox full of Thing-a-Day posts, test posts, and comments, comments, comments. I’m not sure what I’m going to post for my first “thing.”

Among the many emails was a request from a food magazine (yes! a real, printed magazine in the US!) offering to buy some of my photos for their May issue, which will feature an article on Jerusalem. Of course, I said yes. Even if my photos don’t make the final cut because of space considerations, whatever, it’s still a thrill to be asked. I also got a Flickr mail from Kosherstock, a stock company that specializes in royalty-free stock photos of Jewish and Israeli photos. Does anyone know about them? Any advice on whether it’s okay to contribute photos there?

In the meantime, here’s the latest update of the never-ending Lady with Unicorn cross-stitch project. Sorry about the lighting. I didn’t notice the bad glare on the right side when I took the photo.

Lady with Unicorn Update

For comparison, here’s the last update photo, taken on December 9, 2010.

Lady with Unicorn Update

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Floss Storage

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 20, 2011


OK, I over-estimated the capacity of this floss storage box, which just arrived from Nordic Needle. I finally decided to organize the floss for the Lady with Unicorn project and there’s no way 130 colours/bobbins will fit. (I already store the blended threads in a bag system. These bobbins are to replace my sandwich bags full of skeins. It just takes too long to fish out the right colours when I’m refilling the bags with the blended threads.)

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

But all is not lost! My bead findings box has compartments the same size. Moral of story: Before you pay an arm and a leg buying a floss bobbin storage box, check the local places. These boxes probably come from the same factories in China and are in standard sizes. Live and learn!

One thing I don’t regret is purchasing DMC floss number stickers. They really speed up the job of labeling.

Posted in Crafts, embroidery | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Lady with Unicorn Update

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 9, 2010

Lady with Unicorn Update

I’ve finished the first page of the Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing! I’ve worked just a little over 11,165 stitches, 8.5% of the total (130,380 stitches). I began this piece over a year ago, on Nov. 23, 2009. Pattern is by Scarlet Quince, based on the 15th century French tapestry.

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

Progress has been very rapid since I gave up “parking” my threads. After a couple years of religiously parking, I asked a fellow cross-stitcher and much more experienced embroiderer, Karen (Where the Stitches Cross), whether I could stop parking my threads. Her sensible reply was, “Try it and see whether you like the results.” I couldn’t see any difference, probably because I’m working on 18-count Aida, so I gave up parking completely.

I’m not saying that parking is not a useful technique. If I were working on a piece with a very high thread count, I would recommend parking. But parking means that you’re constantly threading needles when working on a piece like this with 133 different colours. Karen is working the same piece on 20-count fabric. Her progress is very impressive! Here are her photos.

The Flickr set showing the progress of my piece is here.

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Lady with Unicorn Embroidery, Update

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 8, 2010

Lady with Unicorn, Nov. 7

I haven’t posted an update for this piece since May. I’ve worked approximately 7600 stitches, almost 6% of the total of 130,380 stitches. Occasionally this project seems like a quixotic endeavor. No one has ever walked up to one of my framed embroideries and said, “Wow — there must be at least 112 blended colours in this piece!” If I ever finish it, will my descendants know how long it took? Or will it end up as a crumpled piece of cloth in my bottomless pit of projects? I guess it’s better to finish it. At least if it’s in a frame, there’s less chance of it being tossed out with the old dish towels.

Lady with Unicorn: Sense of Hearing

I just noticed that the stats for my Flickr account, which I’ve had since 2008, just passed 150,000 hits.


I’m almost packed for the hospital tomorrow. A friend said, “Take everything you think you’ll need, including a cup and tea bags.” Actually, I hear it’s not that bad but the hospital system here is predicated on your being accompanied by a relative. If you don’t have someone with you to get whatever you need, an Israeli hospital can be a pretty grim place.

Sorting floss

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