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Thread: December Friday - Monday SAL

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    Super Moderator WendyLee's Avatar
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    December Friday - Monday SAL

    Good evening all! I inadvertently announced our SAL in the November thread, so I'm repeating it here. So far, Lucette, Nirmal, Debbie and I are taking part. If anyone else is interested, please join in!
    Wendy

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    Senior Member Tamarack29's Avatar
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    I will attempt to join in with my Potions. I did some work on my Harry Potter stitch along yesterday and finished July finally. I was babysitting a friend who had to be put out for a scope until we were sure the sedatives has worn off enough. Due to the missing most of a couple of days of the job this week I am even more behind on an overdue project so I am working today for a bit. It is quiet in the office so fantastic progress is happening although I just hit a big process so I am waiting for the computer for a while. And then Victorian Christmas in Barkerville Historic Park tomorrow which is always fun. And the place I learnt how to cross stitch all those many years ago when I was a kid volunteering there.

    Thank you everyone for your words of support. The loss is not as raw now and the love of his memory is filling the hole. The other 2 cats are adjusting their roles in the household now that their glorious leader is gone. It seems out little Dewie is just deferring to Chewie's brother Fozzy. No fighting or anything, but I think Dewie needs a leader. Funny how they are.
    Tamara - Current GK WIP S3743 Making the Magic Potion

    “Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.”

    Terry Pratchett

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    Well, I made some progress this weekend in spite of being busy most of the weekend. I worked on Winter Wings Owl on Friday (in between multiple loads of laundry) and today. Saturday I spent most of the day with my cousin, Pam, at Allerton House, and Sunday and a good portion of today was devoted to decorating the house for Christmas.

    Bear with me for a minute since I want to say a bit about Saturday. Allerton House and Park is one of the jewels of Central Illinois and I want to offer a little bit of history here. Robert Allerton was the only son and heir of Samuel Waters Allerton, a self-made millionaire and the founder of the First National Bank of Chicago and one of the co-founders of the Union Stockyards in Chicago. Robert had no interest in his father's banking or stockyards businesses and thought to be an artist. However, after a couple of years in Europe he returned to Illinois and made the decision to become a farmer. He took over the management of his father's farms around Monticello, IL (about 60 miles from where I live) and began converting the family's country house into a showplace estate where he entertained lavishly during the 1920's and 30's. The estate included Allerton House, a 40-room 30,000 sq ft estate house, and roughly 1,500 acres of formal gardens, open meadows and lowland forest along the upper Sangamon River. The formal gardens are absolutely amazing. Robert never lost his interest in art and there are absolutely gorgeous bronze statues scattered throughout the entire 1,500 acres. In 1946, following the Great Depression, Allerton made the decision to move to Hawai'i and gifted 5,500 acres of land, including all 1,500 acres of the estate grounds, to the University of Illinois. There was a smaller portion of land just to the north of the estate that was designated for a 4-H camp, and the remaining 3,775 acres were designated to be farmed by tenant farmers and the revenue used to support the park in perpetuity. The estate was valued at $1.3 million dollars when it was gifted in 1946 and is currently valued somewhere around $20 million dollars. Initially, the park was closed to the public due to lack of staff or amenities. After a couple of years of work, they finally opened the park to the public in 1949 with a grand opening and gala for the inauguration of the new University president. Another year saw Allerton House opened as a conference center, which continues to this day. In the 80's the university renovated a number of the outlying buildings, including the stable, and they now serve as studio spaces for the University's artists in residence program. This includes paint, sculpture, fiber, photography, and a host of others fine arts, as well as naturalists, botanists, and other specialists who serve internships there for their degree programs. There is also a music barn and an open area music center which is used in the summer. If anyone is interested, I can post some pictures. And this all leads up to what I was doing on Saturday. Every year, Allerton House decorates the House and grounds for Christmas and then hosts an open house with a buffet luncheon. The artists in residence set up in the various rooms in the conference center and sell their work. It was a wonderful "girls day out" and I managed to find a number of Christmas presents. Needless to say, a good time was had by the 5 of us that attended.

    But as to the point of this post, I've made good progress on Winter Wings Owl since restarting the piece. I had completed 2,550 stitches on the design when I decided I wouldn't finish it if I didn't change the fabric. A week in and it's now back to 1,179 stitches complete. I'm enjoying working on it now so it was well worth starting over. This is where I was when I stopped at noon today to go back to Christmas decorating.
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    Debbie K. in Illinois

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    Debby, Allerton House sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Thank you very much for the history. I love old estates and really appreciate that people preserve them for the public to enjoy! You made a nice start on this piece with such a busy weekend. Great start.

    Here is my before and after. I tried to finish the row and came really close. I will finish it today. Yay!
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    Super Moderator WendyLee's Avatar
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    Debbie, I'm with Lucette regarding Allerton House! Historic properties are favourites of mine, and if you have the time I'd love to see some of the photos. It must be beautiful with the Christmas decorations. You've made a great re-start on your Winter Wings Owl, and my hat is off to you for starting it over. Who is this one by?

    Lucette, you are so close!!! There is beautiful detail in these dark buildings. The light must be reflected off the starlight or the lights of the cafe and it's lovely.

    Here is my David. I have only seven stitches to finish the page and they're all different colours. I stopped stitching on Sunday evening knowing I'd finish them on Monday - then we went out and got back home too late to do them - rats!! Anyway, they'll be finished and more tonight, and it's on to the last page in the row which is only about a quarter of a page.

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    Wendy

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    Quote Originally Posted by WendyLee View Post
    Debbie, I'm with Lucette regarding Allerton House! Historic properties are favourites of mine, and if you have the time I'd love to see some of the photos. It must be beautiful with the Christmas decorations. You've made a great re-start on your Winter Wings Owl, and my hat is off to you for starting it over. Who is this one by?
    Winter Wings is a larger piece by Nene Thomas. The owl is a storykeep from the larger piece. I got it through Heaven and Earth Designs, although it has since been retired because Nene decided to sell cross stitch patterns through her own website rather than through HAED. You can see the full design here: http://nenethomas.com/ornaments-figu...sstitch-chart/

    Below are just a small sample of the the views from the park and grounds. They are as follows: (1) Allerton House and the Reflecting Pond, (2) Buddah's Pavilion at the entrance to the Aisle of the Fu Dogs, (3) the Aisle of the Fu Dogs, (4) a close up of one of the statues. These are ceramic and painted a glorious blue. If you can't tell, from the time I was a child I loved the Aisle of the Fu Dogs! (4) the exit of the Aisle of the Fu Dogs leads directly into the forest trails on the grounds, (6) an aerial shot of some of the formal gardens with the sunken garden at the far end, (7) a shot from inside the sunken garden, which is a favorite place for . . . (8) weddings in the sunken garden. My youngest goddaughter was actually married here, (9) Death of the Last Centaur from the Greek myth of Prometheus, (10) a series of photos of the Centaur from various angles, (11) The Sunsinger, the highlight of all of the statuary. This is a 16 foot tall bronze of Apollo. He sits in the middle of a large, open meadow facing east to greet the rising sun. (12) the Aisle of the Chinese Musicians that borders the formal gardens, and finally (13) an aerial view of the formal gardens and greenhouse. And this is just a sample. Unfortunately, the photo archive of the house is down right now or I would have included some of the interior shots of the house, as well. Needless to say, we're proud of this park, which is rare in our part of the country. Every time I visit I'm reminded of how lucky the residents of central Illinois were to have had such a forward-thinking benefactor as Robert Allerton.
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    Debbie K. in Illinois

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    Great progress Wendy!

    Debbie, that is one beautiful house and gardens! What a lovely place to take a stroll! You are indeed lucky to have such a place near enough to visit and enjoy. Thanks for sharing the photos.

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    Super Moderator WendyLee's Avatar
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    Thank you Lucette!

    Debbie, thank you so much for posting your photos - the estate is lovely! I love all the photos, but especially the one of Apollo - he must be amazing in real life. You are so fortunate to have this jewel of a place so close to you.

    Your Winter wings is also lovely! Did it come in a storykeep chart or are you deciding just how small you will make it?
    Wendy

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    Senior Member Tamarack29's Avatar
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    Debbie those photos are wonderful. It is so nice to be able to go see a bit of history and interact with it. Last weekend I went to Barkerville Historic Park in central British Columbia for their "Victorian Christmas". It was nice to go up as my Aunt lives next door in the town of Wells. Her and my Dad lived there as little kids before it was a park so it is very interesting to see it with them. I volunteered there as a child and worked in some of the businesses when I was a young adult. It is important to remember history and to promote it to see where we have come from.

    And I totally get the starting over on a project to get the right feel. I had one years ago I had to do that with. Just bought new black aida and white thread as what came with the kit just did not work. I looked at it and it felt wrong.

    David is coming along nicely Wendy. I take it those 7 little stitches are done and you are onto more now.

    Lucette that row finish is coming up quick! It is so nice to be able to see it getting so much closer to done.

    I have yet to take a photo of where I am at with my Harry Potter. I did manage to finish July and start on August. Just a bit behind on it. Potions got nothing done last weekend, but is on the menu this weekend. It is sitting in front of my chair and taunting me. This past week was a whirlwind with taking my friend for her scope and babysitting her, going to Barkerville, and my actual job that had me here Saturday for most of the day. I got my last big project of the year for work finished yesterday so it will be slower until Christmas. In the new year we have a huge new contract to do that should be quite interesting. It is interpreting photos from I believe really good satellite imagery for one of the mills. Between now and then I should be getting a new work computer, fixing our plotter (large format printer), and a couple of little projects. We were going to work until Friday the 21, but may have an extra day or 2 off which is fine by the both of us in my department. Fall has been super busy for us with me taking on the huge projects and Niki taking on all the small things and we are both ready for a break now.
    Tamara - Current GK WIP S3743 Making the Magic Potion

    “Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.”

    Terry Pratchett

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    Thanks, everyone, for your comments on Allerton House. I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware of Allerton House. Every couple of years my mother and her sister would take Pam and I there to walk the grounds and and have a picnic, so it's been a part of my life since I was a child. What I do remember is walking around the house and peering in windows but never being allowed inside. They kept the interior closed to the public. To get inside you had to be part of a planned conference. My mother stayed there a number of times since the Illinois Nursing Home Association's annual conference was held occasionally. As she was an officer for many years, it's entirely possible she had a hand in getting the conference located there. It wasn't until I was in my early 20's that they began opening the house to the public at holidays. Also, if you were affiliated with the University of Illinois there were windows of time when you could book one of the rooms and stay for a long weekend or a week at a time if you were looking for a "getaway". I never had the chance to do that, which I still regret. The first time I ever saw the interior was for a Christmas open house. This was before they had the artist in residence program set up, so the first few years the University put out a call to local artists and well-known crafters for bids to decorate. They used all of the rooms on the first floor and several of the larger suites on the second floor. The crafters and artists sent in bids and samples of their work along with a plan on the size of space they needed and how they would decorate. It was handled like a juried competition and the winners were assigned rooms to decorate. You could sell your work or not. It was up to you. But you had to specify if you were going to do so and if you weren't there were about a half dozen rooms that once decorated were offered to other artists to sell their work. Hand-made Christmas ornaments, pottery, watercolors, pastels, and oils, etc. What really attracted me that first year was that one of the artists selected specialized in counted cross stitch. He didn't make his living at it. He was actually a flight attendant, and cross stitch was a hobby, but he was extremely skilled and worked many of the same kind of pieces I was working at the time - things like Lavender and Lace angels, Miribilia, etc. I had the chance to spend some time talking with him, which was a real treat. And I agree with all of you. The link to the history represented by the house and grounds is really important and one that needs to be shared. The University has never charged admission to get into the park, although there were times when they really could have used the money. You do have to pay to use the venue for a special event like a wedding, but the charge is minimal. U of I has continued to make the park as accessible to the public as possible, which I think is one of their great achievements. This University is knows for their cutting edge research, but the contribution to the arts in the form of Allerton Park is equally important.

    Oh, and Wendy, you're absolutely right about Apollo. He is staggering when you see him in person. I'm told there's a way to drive to get to him, but I've never done it. I've always taken the forest paths. You step out of the forest into this huge meadow. He stands at the very center of it, with his arms raised to the sun. Even if there are people there, it's always eerily quiet. He just dominates and can literally take your breath away. I've seen him at sunrise with the first rays if of the sun gliding the bronze, at sunset with flaming colors at his back, and at all hours of daylight in both sun and overcast and it simply doesn't matter. He just rivets the eye and is mesmerizing.

    Also, thanks to everyone for their comments on Winter Wings Owl. I definitely made the right decision to start over. I'm much happier with it now.

    And everyone made such great progress this week! Wendy, David is still moving along very quickly, in spite of getting into confetti. I did wonder, is the right side right above where you're currently working finished? I couldn't get the picture to enlarge to get a good look at it. It doens't look like a smooth edge, but that may just be the picture. Lucette, I agree with Wendy. The detail in the shadows is really marvelous. I just love the colors here. I'm looking forward to seeing your Harry Potter project. And I'll keep fingers crossed for the extra few days off at Christmas for you. It sounds like you deserve, both for what you've already done and what you've got coming up.

    And on the good news front here, my husband is finally getting to transition to his new job! I think I mentioned back in July that the new plant manager has decided to re-initiate the Six Sigma quality program. This was what Chuck was hired to do some 14 years ago when he first went to work there. But two subsequent plant managers didn't believe in the value of statistical analysis to identify and fix quality issues in the plant and they systematically gutted his department until it no longer existed. The 8 quality engineers either left to work for other companies or took other jobs in the plant. That's what Chuck did. For a while he was what they called a customer quality engineer. In other words, he was the person the customer called when they had an issue with the parts they received. He last at that about two years and then transferred to become a product engineer, managing the production lines for the circuit panels that control airbag and side impact sensors. But when Theo decided they needed to get back into the statistical quality improvement programs, he and the HR manager teamed up to get Chuck to write a job description for a Six Sigma quality engineer and then talked him into applying for it. He got the job back in July but had to agree to continue in his old job until they could find a replacement for him. They're running seriously short staffed at the plant (another legacy of the former plant managers who, along with cutting the entire quality department, also took the plant workforce from from around 1,200 down to about 650.) This was the technique they used to show that the Marshall plant was profitable. And now, after about 8 years of this, and a huge increase in the amount of work being expected in the plant (they added lane departure sensors and new DAS camera manufacturing which has added about 4 new manufacturing lines) it's come back to haunt them. The problem is that we're a relatively rural area and workers are spread far and wide. When you cut your workforce and the people that got RIFed are forced to find other jobs, it's not easy to find replacements when you have to grow again. Both plant managers had been promoted to new jobs in other plants. Right after the second one was promoted, TRW was sold to ZF, a German company. Within two years, the first plant manager had quit and taken a job elsewhere (under pressure, so the rumor goes), and the second one had been fired. At any rate, after about 5 months of searching, they've finally found a replacement and Chuck can now transition to his new job full time. He's been juggling both since about the first of October. He'll be training through the end of December and other than consulting if they run into a problem, he's done with the project engineering position and can concentrate on the new position.

    And on that note, I've rambled long enough. I'm assuming that we'll have a SAL going again this weekend, so I'll just throw my hat in and say that I will be in with Winter Wings Owl. Thanks for listening, guys!
    Debbie K. in Illinois

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