I’ve been unemployed more times than I care to think about, and I am very familiar with all the issues an unemployed person needs to deal with.  Of course, the most obvious issues deal with the process of finding a new job.  The shortest period of unemployment I’ve had was 3 months back in the mid-1990s.  The longest was the 10 months following my move from New York to Florida.  I’ve applied to more than a dozen jobs in the month since I have been unemployed, but it’s very tough out there.  Florida’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, and Tampa Bay’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the state.  In short, I am potentially looking at a long jobless stretch.

So, how do I keep busy and (relatively) sane when I’m not applying for jobs? Reading and stitching, that’s how.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I spent the first couple of weeks with my comfort reads, but I’ve finally decided it’s time to get around to other books.  I’ve owned The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes since it first came out, but figured that this would be as good a time as any to really try an audio book.  So I borrowed the CD set of the book from the library and can now multi-task — I’m stitching while someone reads to me.  So far, so good.

The Forgotten Man is an excellent book.  Shlaes, who is a well-known financial writer for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and now Bloomberg, has written a fascinating history of the Great Depression from a completely different perspective than that which we are used to reading.  She debunks the notion that FDR and his New Deal saved the US from the Depression and, unfortunately, many of his machinations are familiar to those of us around today.  Our government is trying some of the same policies today and with the same effect — Europe is recovering from the recent recession and we are facing a double-dip.  Europe is realizing that their womb-to-tomb social policies cannot be sustained, while our government is trying to implement those same social policies here.  Shlaes’ book is riveting, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Now, on to the fun stuff.  Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.

I’ve made progress on the “Bright Spots Sampler” I’ve had for around 5 years (since there are dozens of small designs in the one chart, I’ll work on one or two at a time and feel as if I’ve accomplished something):

I’m about 3/4 done — all that’s left to do is the upper right-hand corner.

I’ve also finally finished the “12 Days of Christmas” piece from Hinzeit that I’ve mentioned before:

And, now that I’ve got the time, I’ve finally decided to start a piece that I’ve had in stash for ages.  I was still new at counted needlework when I bought the chart and, since it’s absolutely not a piece that a newbie should even contemplate doing, I put it away for whenever I felt I was capable of doing it.  As I’ve mentioned, I have plenty of stash in the storage unit but, as luck would have it, “Fine China” from Indigo Rose was in a box in the house so I decided it was time to get started on it.  Here is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s done:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  I think it’s easily one of the most beautiful pieces in my collection.

And here is what I did this afternoon:

As you can see, I’ve finished the entire inner ring, which is comprised mostly of spider webs and 2 different fern stitches.  The chart calls for a variety of silk flosses, and the colors are very rich.

Several stitchers of my acquaintance feel comfortable starting at the top of a chart and working their way down, but I am simply not capable of doing that.  Every chart I’ve ever seen says that you should start in the middle of the fabric, and that’s the way I feel most comfortable.  And, with this chart, I can’t even contemplate starting at the top.  To me, it makes sense to work on the inner ring first, and work my way out to the 4th ring.  If mine comes out even half as nice as the professionally stitched piece, I’ll be happy.

Oh, and here is a piece I finished last summer — “Blue Boats” from Lanarte (this is a stock photo — mine is not yet framed):

If I can get a job, I’ll be able to afford to frame all of these projects.  But, until then, I’ll just continue to stitch them.  I downloaded an audiobook of Emma, so I’ll be able to “read” that while I get some more stitching done.