However, I am close to exhaustion, despite a reasonably smooth night last night (I only woke up about five times). My eyes feel like I've been crying (I haven't, just so you all don't worry about me), and my arms - oh, my arms.
I have a car again. Unfortunately, while it did have a dead battery, it also has a mostly broken clutch, but Bob and I drove to and from Goochland (about 3.5 hours each way) yesterday to pick it up so our local mechanic can work on it. Driving down was nice, but driving back with a cranky clutch (I have to pump it to change gears) was tiring, to say the least. My arms are singing "I hate you" at very high volume today. But I have my car back, and I have things to do, people to kill.
I kid, I kid. But Bob's birthday party is this weekend, and while most of the stuff is now in place, bought, and set up, I still need to get things like, oh, food. And beer. Beer is good.
But enough about that. We have a garage!
That was all done in a week - we went from concrete slab (that was laid when the rest of the foundation was laid, so we've had it for a while) to "garage ready for siding" in a week. The builders were amazing - fast, friendly, and really good. The last picture is the upstairs in the garage, which will be my studio (and an extra spare room, since there's a bathroom/shower downstairs). Very, very cool. It's a two-car garage, which might be big enough for our bits and pieces, but we'll probably have to get a shed for the lawnmowers.
We also had visitors:
This pair of black vultures has been hanging around near the house (very near - the seated one was in one of the closest small black walnuts, and didn't move when we came out to look at it), and we hope they'll nest in the chicken coop - they were using it as a roost last year, but no eggs. Hopefully they'll decide it's the perfect spot, and we'll have little fluffy (stinky) baby vultures again!
The flowers are also out - a bunch of them survived the construction:
There's nothing that says spring for me like daffodils.
Finally, the pictures you've all been waiting for - Froggy!
(A detailed explanation of the process will be going into the "Reproductions" section of my site on the next update, which should be happening in the next couple of months.)
pinkleader was kind enough to post the url of the original on Monday, but here it is again: http://collectionsonline.lacma.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record;id=96600;type=101
It is a needlecase from the early 17th century (which means it could date anywhere from 1580 to 1650, but probably no earlier than 1570), done in detached buttonhole stitch.
First thing, once I decided to make it, was to work out the pattern sizes. I got as close to the original as I could in size, so it's roughly 2.5 by 3.5 inches. I made a mock-up of the pattern, to check on the fit and length of the pieces:
Then started on the needlework. It took longer than I originally anticipated (50 hours was my estimate, because I still haven't learned to increase all estimates by 30% or so right from the beginning), and I tracked various parts:
8.5 hours worth of work on one of the legs - this also shows how I did the stitching - couched onto waste fabric, then the couching threads are cut away.
The finished product:
And, since a needlecase needs a piece of wool for holding the actual needle (steel needles should be stored in wool, since the lanolin helps prevent rust - this is also why you never leave the needle in your embroidery), I added a little touch of my own:
The original does not have a tongue, as far as I know. But I like my frog to have some attitude.
I really did just work from the one picture, but a lot was evident in that picture - the legs are wired to hold their shape, and the "paws" are completely detached. I used a dupioni taffeta for the bag part, and the "body" is sewn to a piece of stiff paper with pasted-on silk (I think the original may have a wired edge, but I preferred to use the pasted paper, which is also a period method of creating a stiffened piece).
I braided the cord ties, which are only on either side of the body pieces, and do not go under. The gathering had to be measured so that when closed, the fabric bag does not stick out at the top, spoiling the "frog" shape.
In all, I'm very pleased with it - not bad for 81 hours of sewing.
(A picture of the original, my mock-up, and my froggie, showing the sizes. The picture of the original is very close to actual size.)