Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Computer and Stitching - January 2010

(Warning, this is a long and miserable tale!)

I seriously doubt anyone reading this has not experienced the ups and downs of being a computer owner.  It can be your best friend, 'Window' to the world (pun intended!), storage of the many small details of your life (bank account, income/expenses, photos, cross stitch patterns, knitting patterns...whatever your passion is), and so much more. 

And I'm sure everyone has experienced that sinking feeling inside when something goes wrong with the computer.  It might be a virus, faulty hardware, software incompatibility....dispair comes in many forms; but it can be gut-retching just the same.

The past few weeks I've had a continually frustrating series of major issues with my home computer.  It all started when I was unable to install Turbo Tax 2009.  I got a message saying it needed 'Windows .NET Framework 3.5' update installed in order to install.  After much research on the Microsoft website, I concluded that it was a problem outside my comfort zone to solve. 

We took it to the computer store at the university where I work, which is also where the computer was purchased.  A couple days later, I got a phone call from the IT tech saying the system had a bunch of viruses and the hard drive needed to be re-formatted and Windows reinstalled.  This was not good news; but wasn't as bad as it could have been, since the majority of my data is kept on a separate, external hard drive and backed up to CD periodically.  It would require reinstalling all my software, which is time consuming but not overwhelming.

After a week in the shop, my computer is ready to come home.  I begin by reinstalling my Microsoft Office 2007 Suite and get my e-mail up and running again.  From that, I moved on to Turbo Tax.  This time I was able to install it without problem.

In the next few days, I work to get the various software reinstalled and things seem to be fine.  UNTIL I try to play a new CD on the computer.  I put the CD in the drive, close it and wait for it to autoplay.  The green light comes on, I can hear the disk spin briefly, then NOTHING.  I try another music  CD, I try a software CD; all with the same result, or should I say NO result?!

I check 'Computer,' yep, the DVD/CD drive shows up.  I check 'Control Panel'.  It has a message that the CD 'failed to start - Error 10.'  It searches for a solution.  'No solution found.'  Great.  Now what?!

After trying numerous things, I can't get it to work.  DH once again unplugs everything and takes it back to the computer shop the next morning.  He calls me and says the check-in person says there are at least 40 computers ahead of mine, and will be at least two weeks before they can even look at it!  That is like telling me I have only one hour left to live!!  I ask, 'can they save my place in line and you can bring it back when they are about ready to be able to look at it?'  No.  The machine must be physically checked-in and kept by them.  Wonderful; just like a terrible toothache! 

So, I suggest he take it to our local Best Buy to see if they can look at it sooner.  While we are talking, the check-in person apparently looked up my computer in their system and tells DH, 'Oh, it's still under warranty.  Tell her to call Dell directlly.  They should be able to help out much sooner than we can.'  OK, maybe there is hope that I won't be a victim of the shakes from computer withdrawal!

When I get off work that day, I race home and call the support number at Dell.  After quite a long wait on hold, I finally get a live person.  I explain the problem and she says, ' Oh, no problem.  We'll send out a new drive and a Dell-certified tech will come to your house and install it.'  That sounds promising..  How long will this take?  'They should call you tomorrow.'  Wow. 

Sure enough, early the next morning, the tech calls and comes over an hour later.  It takes him about 3 minutes to install the new drive.  However, when we try the new drive, same exact error message as before.  (How did I KNOW this was going way too well?!)  He says I need to call Dell again and explain that didn't fix the problem.

I get someone on the phone at Dell and explain the situation.  'Oh, no problem.  We'll send out another new drive, a new motherboard and a new cable.'  Okay.  (in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, I just don't think that is going to fix the problem).  The same tech comes out the next day, removes and replaces all those computer parts.  You guessed it...SAME error message.

Oh man!  This time, the tech calls Dell and after having a discussion with them, asks DH for the OS disk that came with my computer (I'm at work and miss out on all this excitement).  The tech starts reinstalling Windows on my computer, leaves and gives DH a short messsage for me.  I get home, the install was waiting for someone to click 'accept' on one of those install agreement messages that we've all seen and never read.  I 'accept' and it takes over an hour for the OS to reinstall.

Alrighty, that is done.  Problem fixed?  Not quite.  The drive now works (finally), but there is a new issue.  The computer will not connect to the Internet via our old-fashioned home network with router and hub.  After recycling the hub and cable modem downstairs a couple times with no result, I make yet another call to Dell. 

After waiting at least 45 minutes on hold, I get someone who listens to my tale of woe.  She asks if I have another disk that came with the computer.  Yes, I have another one that has never been opened.  She walks me through installing it and then explains I need to unzip, extact and install each of the drivers checked on one of the screens.  She gives me an extension number and says to call the support number and use that extension if I have further difficulty.  Getting all that accomplished takes the rest of my evening.  But, eureka, the computer finally connects to the Internet.

Of course, since I now had the orignal version of Windows VISTA Business that came with my computer, once I was back online, the Windows Update function found a TON of updates it wanted to install to get the OS up-to-date (121 the first time!).  I started those installing and went to bed!

The next morning, there is a message waiting on the screen telling me that 14 of the updates 'failed.'  Wonderful.  And even better, guess what?  You guessed of those that 'failed' is the '.NET Framework 3.5' that started this whole mess!!!  At this point, I'm ready to cry or throw the dang computer out in the snow.

So, once again, when I get home from work, I get on the phone to call Dell.  I enter the extension number the woman had given me.  I get a young man on the phone within a matter of 5 minutes.  After going through the whole tale once again, he informs me, 'Windows is a third-party software to Dell.  Therefore, we cannot assist you with issues related to it.  You will have to speak to Microsoft or speak to one of our fee-based support people.'  At this point I was at the end of my patience!  I informed him that I was not paying a CENT for help with this issue, since one of their Dell-certified techs had seen fit to reinstall Windows on my computer without my knowledge.  He tells me to 'hold on, he'll transfer me.' 

I'm figuring he'll transfer my call to Siberia and will either be on hold for the rest of my life, or I'll soon fine myself with a dial tone in my ear.  Instead, after pressing '1' for this and '3' for that option, I actually get a live person on the phone.  This time, it is a very very nice woman.  After I explain (yet again!) what is going on, she says, 'I understand.  I can help you with that.'  WHAT?  You're kidding?! 

She connects to my desktop remotely, looks at a couple things, goes to Microsoft's website, downloads and installs three items, then is able to install all of the 'failed' Windows updates! After restarting the computer, she asks me to try installing Turbo Tax.  It works!!  The DVD/CD drive is still working.  Could the problems actually be fixed finally?! 

The answer to that question remains to be seen, but at least for now, everything seems to be okay.  I'm still working to get my software installed once again.


The computer fiasco cut into my sewing time this past week, but I did actually accomplish some stitching on my Tuesday UFO/KustomKrafts SAL--'Everyone Needs Their Own Space' by KustomKrafts.  Now that I'm working on this one again, it's one of my favorites to work on.  Here's an updated photo.

No new updates on any of my others SALS, but I did join another one!  Tonia from Oakhaven is hosting a 'Months 2010' sampler SAL on her Yahoo group.  I recently joined the list and all of my stitching time yesterday went to completing January from start to finish.  Here's how this one looks.

   I'll leave you with a photo of my TUSAL as it appears on this, the final day of January 2010.

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One More Finish and SAL Updates

I wanted to post an update tonight because once again, my computer must go into the shop.  Late last week, the DVD/CD drive stopped working.  The light on it goes on, DVD/CD spins, but won't do anything.  The computer says the drive 'cannot start - Error 10' or some such nonsense.  Tried updating the driver; it tells me that the driver is up-to-date.  I'm at a loss on how to fix whatever it's malfunction is.  Grrr!  So, this will be my last post for at least a few days.


I finished LHN Heart & Home Sampler last week, but was waiting on the beads for the berries to arrive.  I got those sewn on yesterday and got it framed in a little Mill Hill frame.  Not sure of the final destination of this one yet. 

Also, this LHN project is my January finish for the Bride's Tree SAL. 


HAED Storykeep Dragon Luck SAL

I got started on this one on Friday, January 22.  Boy, stitching 2 over 1 on 25 ct is a bit of a challenge for me.  Now that I'm started, wish I had tried using just one strand of floss instead of two.  This is antique white fabric (must be the fault of the cummy photographer - me!)

25 ct Antique White Lugana, DMC floss 2 over 1

Victorian Christmas Stocking SAL - Stitcher's Studio

I finally got a bit of a start on this one; worked on it last evening and also a while today.  This one has been a fun stitch so far!  I started at the very top left corner of the stocking (that seems to be my current favorite starting point in a chart).

25 ct Mushroom Lugana - DMC Floss

Here's what it will look like when it's finished someday.

As I was browsing blogs today, I came across another SAL I just HAD to join.  This one requires you to find a see-through container.  You then collect all your 'stitching throw aways' - regular ORTS (thread ends), broken needles, stray beads, labels from floss skeins, etc.  Once a month on the date of the New Moon, you post a progress photo of your Totally Useless SAL on your blog.  Check it out for yourself; it's not too late to join.

Here's my barely-started collection of 'stiching throw aways' for this year's SAL:

This an old jar candle container; the black you see in the bottom is the little metal thing that held the end of the wick.  I've done everything I can think of to get that out, but not luck.  I think I'm going to come up with some sort of stitched topper for the jar at some point.

I didn't get as much stitching in this weekend as I would have liked.  Saturday was the monthly CQC meeting.  It was in the Denver area this year, so about an hour's drive from us.  We went with a friend from our local quilt guild.  The speaker was Annie Smith.  Her talk was "Help!  My Fabric Stash is Growing and I Can't Make It Stop!' 

This meeting was jammed with people--250 members and 30 guests in attendance!  A fellow quilter/cross stitcher from ILCS, Joan, is also a CQC member.  We had agreed to look for each other during the break.  No such luck.  There were just too many people!  So, next month we'll plan a specific spot to meet and hopefully we'll find each other and can have a chance to talk for at least a few minutes.


It will be a very busy week at work.  Tomorrow is a full day meeting with the insurance managing underwriter who is here from Texas to work on our renewal for the student health insurance I manage.  Tuesday, I'll be staffing a table for an event from 5:00-8:00 pm to talk to prospective students and their parents.  So, I plan to do my Tuesday UFO stitching on Monday this week (Everyone Needs Their Own Space). 

I'm really hoping to get my new glasses early this week.  I am so tired of constantly switching readers for the computer or for reading.  It is a pain!

Think that's it for now.  While I sure hope my computer is not out of commission for long, I will get more stitching done while it's away.  :)

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Very Stitchy Update

Wow, I'm amazed at how much stitching I accomplished when my computer was in the shop!  Now that it's back home and I have most of my software up and running again, I've been trying madly to catch up with everyone's posts and blogs.  Whew!  You all talk SOO much; how on earth do you get so much stitching accomplished?  It is a total mystery to me.

The other thing I decided, something I should have realized a long time ago, if I don't enjoy what I'm stitching, then why am I stitching it?  The projects I'm working on right now are all so much fun, and that is truly what this hobby should be about.  Artistic expression, no matter the medium, should be about the enjoyment of the process, not about how fast you finish, or even necessarily about the finished project.  This seemed like a revelation to me.


But, I digress.  Up first, Elvis is finally finished and framed, altho not on the wall as of yet.  It's close to a month late, since it was to be a Christmas gift for DH, but what can I say?  Surgery definitely got in the way.

Normally I don't use glass on my framed items, but with our fur babies, I figured it wouldn't hurt on this one since it is all black stitching.  The photo doesn't do it justice; it is a double mat and a flat black frame.

I finished a long-standing UFO, Ascot Albert Wizzer ornament.  The first photo is how he looked on 8/17/07, when I last worked on him!  I love Rene's idea of having a theme tree during the year, so I'm thinking various snowmen would be great for January.  So, I have one (pretty bare tree)!  :)

Here he is finished.  Yes, our little tabletop tree is still out; I'm waiting on DH to bring up the plastic tubs from downstairs so I can take the Christmas decorations down.

I have one more small finish, actually for a SAL, but won't show it until it is framed.  I'm actually waiting on some beads from 123 Stitch, which should arrive tomorrow.


Heaven help me, I have joined so many SALS this year, I think I need to give up sleeping to have a prayer at keeping up!

This one is a pure pleasure to stitch!  I could easily keep on stitching and stiching, but I'm trying to do a sort of rotation with the various projects I have going.  I tried photographing this in several different room, and even outside, but the lavendar fabric just refuses to look right on the computer.

My chosen fabric is a Silkweaver Solo, 28 ct. Jobelan. It is a lightly marbled lavender.The threads I'm using are Carrie's Creation 'Lumière de Cheryl.' This floss was dyed by Carrie's Creations especially for Cheryl Miller. I purchased it a while back, with the intention of using it for this free chart, but just hadn't gotten around to stitching it. This SAL makes that possible!

Rose Garden Mandala by Chatelaine - Martina Weber

A very small start on this one.  I admit I'm a bit intimidated with all the beads and directions on this one!  I love how the mandalas look; just hope I'm up to the stitching!  This beautiful design was in the September 2009 issue of the wonderful online stitching magazine, The Gift of Stitching.

I started on this a couple years ago as a SAL on KustomKrafts list.  This was my progress as of 3/10/07.  I pulled this one out again and am working on it on Tuesdays as my SAL with the ILCS list and also as my UFO SAL on the KustomKrafts list.  It is such a beautiful design; sure would be nice if I could get it finished by the end of 2010!

Silkweaver 28 ct Jobelan - Spring Garden, DMC Floss

This is my progress as of today.  I've finished a section and will soon be ready to work down the left side of the design. Woo Hoo!

This is what the finished product will look like someday.  Isn't is awesome?


Alas, I have several other SALS for the new year that I have kitted up but have yet to put a stitch in! 

One is my very first try at a HAED design.  You signed up and chose one of four storykeep designs to stitch.  During the SAL, you have to post at least three progress photos.  It doesn't matter how far you get in the project, it is the fact that you do post three and make some progress each time.  At the end of the SAL, you recieve the other three designs.  How cool is that; four HAED storykeep designs for free? 

Since this is my first HAED design, I thought it was good to start with something fairly small.  The one I choose--Dragon Luck, is 50w x 178H.  I'll be using Antique White 25 ct Lugana and DMC floss, and stitching 1 over 1.  I'll post progress photos once I actually get started on this.

Rae, from one of the lists I'm on, is hosting a SAL to stitch a Victorian Christmas Stocking.  The original designs were from a magazine called Cross Stitch & Country Crafts.  They also appeared in a book compilation.  I was looking for something else a while back and found a pile of these magazines (I'm guessing one of my eBay purchases a while back).  There they were; the issues with the various designs!  I'm planning to stitch the one called 'Stitcher's Studio' from the July/Aug 1989 issue.  This will be on 25 ct Mushroom Lugana.  I hope to get a start on this one in the next couple days as well.

I really like the charts by Little House Needleworks, and in the spirit of creating lots and lots of new ornaments, I joined this SAL to stitch the new monthly ornament series they are putting out.  I have the first two charts and that's as far as that has gone so far!

And Still More - Bride's Tree SAL

The Bride's Tree is a German tradition.  It's believed that a couple's Christmas tree needs twelve specific ornaments for happiness in their life yourney together.  This SAL gives you the theme for the month and you choose the design to stitch.  It doesn't have to be finished into an ornament.  January is a house, which symbolizes shelter.  I have the stitching on this one done, but don't want to show it yet because I need to finish it.  This one will not be an ornament. 

Yep, Another One - Mary Wigham USA SAL

This great sampler is available for FREE download from Needleprint. This is an idea of what it will look like when it's finished, although my colors won't be exactly the same.

I've made a VERY small start on this one so far; not enough to post. 

These FREE designs are just adorable; each block is 31 x 36 stitches.  Right now, A-O are available for download.  I haven't started this yet, but I just love the possibilities for these cute designs.  At the very least, I will be collecting all of these for stitching at a later date.

Whew!  If you read all the way to the end, I commend you!  And, putting it all down in writing, I know for sure that I need a SERIOUS 12-Step Program for this SAL addiction!!  But, what a lot of great stitching!

Just for staying with me for all of this, I'll leave you with an updated photo of our dumpster rescue kitty---Lucky aka 'Little Squirt.' 

Happy Stitching!!

Vicki in CO

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here's a Great Giveaway!

You need to check this giveaway out if you are a cross stitcher!  I would sure like to win this one myself.  Entries close on January 31, so hurry over and leave a comment. 

Look at all these LHN charts and the awesome wood thread organizer!

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO

Monday, January 4, 2010


I was the lucky recipient of a PIF on Evalina's blog.  She will be sending me 5 stitchy things, so, it's my turn to Pay It Forward. 

The rules are as follows:
  1. Send no less than 5 stitching related items per person within the next 365 days.
  2. Items can be DMC, other threads, stitching needles, straight pins, buttons, scissors, ribbons, etc. - a combination of items such as 3 threads, 1 pack of straight pins and 1 pack of stitching needles or just 5 threads.
  3. The items must be new and not used. (Send things you'd be happy to receive.)
If I choose you, you must be willing to post this PIF on your blog and do the same for at least 2 people.

If you would like to join in, leave a comment for this post. Be sure to leave me your e-mail address so I can contact you! I'll be choosing three winners on February 1st, to give everyone who is interested in participating time to comment.

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO

2010 Olympic Reading Challenge

I've decided to join the reading challenge hosted on another blog.  Thanks to Vickie for hosting this!  Since I tend to read very long books, I signed up for the Bronze level.  I'll keep track of what I read in the sidebar of my blog.  Right now I'm actually reading two books, "The Fiery Cross" by Diana Gabaldon and "Dead Ringer" by Lisa Scottoline.  I've been reading the Outlander series for a good year, but tend to read other, shorter novels at the same time. 

So, if you like to read, hop on over to Vickie's blog and join in!

Happy Stitching (and Reading!)

Vicki in CO

TGOSM Ornament Exchange

I realized I never posted a photo of the wonderful ornament I received from Cindy D. in the TGOSM exchange.  Isn't it great?!  It's a Prairie Schooler design and I love the way she added sparklies for stars.

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goodbye 2009 and Hello 2010!


I spent a lot of time the past couple days stitching on my quilt block for the SFAC Quilt, and it is my first fiinish for 2010!  My block is in memory of my grandfather who died from bladder cancer way back in 1976.  I'll be sending this off to Donna next week.


December was definitely a busy month at our house. 

Lots of snow--over 16" of the 39.1" we've had so far this winter. 

I had cataract surgery on December 3 and 10.  I'm now seeing 20/20 in my left eye and 20/25 in my right eye!  I have never seen better than 20/40 in my entire life, even with my coke-bottle thick trifocal glasses!  This had been quite a big change for me.  Now I just need the inexpensive readers available from most any store instead of the old $600+ glasses!

December 14th brought back surgery for me--a laminectomy of L-3 to remove bone spurs from my extensive arthritis and two cysts.  The surgery meant a couple days in the hospital and a couple weeks recovery at home.  It's been a challenge to get back to 'normal' activities, and I'm still struggling with  fatigue and lack of energy some days, but I'lll go back to work at least part-time on January 4th.  The good thing is the surgery seems to have resolved the intense pain I've been experiencing down both legs. 

Look at the absolutely gorgeous crocheted afghan one of my staff, Cece, made for me!  That's our year-old Golden Retriever, Murphy on the right.

Pieceable Friends, the local quilt guild I belong to, brought over a comfort quilt and sent me a nice Get Well card.

Because of my back surgery, we weren't able to go to our son's house (250 miles away) for Christmas.  This was the first Christmas since he was born that we haven't all been together on December 24 and 25.  DH and I spent a quiet day watching movies on TV.  Our wonderful next door neighbors brought us a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Our son WAS able to come home the next week for a couple days, so we actually celebrated Christmas with him on December 29th.  Gifts were very small and inexpensive this year, but that's okay, the important thing is, we were together. 


I didn't feel up to stitching for quite a while after my surgery, so didn't finish the Elvis cross stitch I'm working on for DH.  But, here's my progress to date.

I'm trying to catch up on the various lists I'm on, and getting stitching organized for 2010, I'm signed up for several SAL's, as well as have a long list of items I want to stitch.  So, I hope I can be productive this year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful, happy and healthy New Year!

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO