Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en!

I know it is officially All Saints Day now - since it is after midnight Hallowe'en is over. But I am still awake, the jack-o-lanterns are still glowing on the front porch and I wanted to wish everyone all the fun the holiday can bring before it is over.
This year my daughter, Katie, and I carved pumpkins "old school". We didn't dig out all the tools and patterns we usually use. Instead we put down newspapers and got out the paring knives.

This little scene is our favourite for this year. Katie did one and I did the other. We love Hallowe'en but we only had three trick or treaters - all little princesses. That is the hard part of living out in the country so far - the kids there are around would rather head to town where the houses are closer together. Hope springs eternal though and no doubt next year we will once again be up to our armpits in decorations, jack-o-lanterns, candy apples and witch finger cookies!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spider & Webs II RR - Janet's block

Janet's block is the last for me to work on in this round robin and I have completed my part and mailed it off. It always seems more difficult to me to be the last stitcher in a round robin - this block was so lovely when it reached me I was very challenged to attempt to meet the standard of stitching already set. Your best is all you can do though, right?
The first motif I did was a little group of nasturtiums in silk ribbon. I built a spider web between my nasturtiums and the roses already on the block.
The second motif I did was this group of red flowers. The whole thing is worked in Gloriana Princess Perle Petit Silk threads. The flower petals are bullions in a colour called Poinsettia. The centers of the flowers are groups of french knots and the stem was done in Palestrina stitch.

And here is Janet's block in its entirety, as it looked when mailed away. I hope she likes what I did. The black was wonderful to work on - makes the colours pop! There are wonderful silk ribbon honeysuckle and many other flowers and webs. I love the way it turned out!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Potholder Swap - Mine Arrived!

What a nice surprise I had when I went to the post office this afternoon - my potholder from Genevieve was waiting for me. I love the fall colours she used! This has been a fun swap - everyone can always use more potholders.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BAS - Week 37 - Feather Stitch (Chained)

This week I am happy to bring you the chained feather stitch. To me, it has the look of a stitch that you would find on a vintage crazy quilt. I find it very charming and I hope you do too! I've included a few photos to explain how to make the stitch.

You can make this stitch by imagining two lines, one on either side of your seam, equal distances from the seam and working between them. Start as you would to make a chain stitch by bringing up your needle, going down again very close to where you came up and taking a bite of fabric. Before you pull the needle through take the thread around the needle so that it will catch it and form a loop or what would usually be the first link in your chain.
Normally you would take only a small stitch to hold the loop open if you were making a detached chain stitch. With this stitch you want to take a larger stitch, approximately the same size as your chain stitch, as seen above. When you go down in that stitch you will want to come up again on the imaginary line on the other side of the seam, even with the bottom of your last chain.

You now make another detached chain stitch. Please note that before you form your loop you will take the needle under the last straight stitch. Carry on in this manner - your straight stitches will form a zigzag pattern.
In case this isn't as clear as it could be, there is a tutorial for this stitch in Sharon B's Dictionary of Stitches. Have fun!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I feel famous!

I feel famous! lol Today the last potholder I made from selvages is featured on The Selvage Blog! If you haven't checked it out yet, this is one of my favourite blogs. I am always amazed by what cool and creative things are made from selvages. Just think - these used to be thrown out! I sure wish I had all the ones back that I have thrown out over the years.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Block for Replacement Quilt

When I found out my friend, Lyn, was organizing one of the online groups to make a quilt for a member's aunt who had lost things in a fire I knew this was something I wanted to be part of. The original quilt was a wedding quilt and of course can never be replaced but hopefully the warm thoughts stitched into this replacement will be a comfort. Lyn pieced all the blocks of white and pink satin and she sent me the one above to work on. Easy to stitch on such a lovely canvas!
The quilt blocks are to be done in pink, white and green so I used my new found skills from one of the classes at the CQI retreat to applique a velvet pansy. I cut the petals from a piece of velvet ribbon and used buttonhole stitch to applique them to the block. I added a bit of colour to the center of the flower by using one strand of pink DMC floss and straight stitches. The finishing touch was the pale yellow beads I stitched down using Fireline.
I like button clusters and have not done one for awhile so I dug out the button box and added one. The large flower button in the center is plastic but not obviously so. There is a glass button to the right and a pink mother of pearl disc. At the top is a gold metal button and a few silver beads. All the rest are shell buttons.

To the left of the pansy I placed part of a thrift store necklace onto some lace and added a meandering silk ribbon.I am getting a bit braver with the silk ribbon embroidery and managed a motif inspired by one in A - Z of Silk Ribbon. I'm quite happy with how this one turned out.

And, last but not least, here is a photo of the entire finished block which will be heading off in the mail to Lyn on Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I hope it fits in well with the other blocks and am looking forward to seeing photos of the finished project.

Friday, October 9, 2009

BAS - Week 36 - Raised Cretan Stitch

Sorry for the long delay in getting back to posting the BAS stitches and seams! What with moving back home from the lake and then going to Colorado for the retreat I have been pretty busy and not always near a computer. I resolve to do better though!
This week's seam is the Raised Cretan Stitch as shown in the photo above. I have made this particular one pretty wide and with the stitches close together but you can vary the stitch by adjusting these variables. In case the stitch is not familiar, I am including some photos of how it is made.
You start out by making two rows of backstitch parallel to each other and evenly spaced.

Bringing your needle up at the top of the first backstitch on one side, take it across and through the outside of the first backstitch on the opposite side. Pull your needle through, being careful to keep the thread that came across in the last step underneath your thread this time. If that is not clear take a look at the photo and you should be able to tell what I mean by the placement of the needle. Take your needle across and through the next backstitch on that side, always working from the outside to the center of the seam and keeping the previous threads underneath. Continue on back and forth in this way until you have completed the seam.
I hope you enjoy this seam and I'll look forward to seeing some photos of what you do! If you have any questions or I can make this clearer please just ask.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Retreat, Part 1

I came home from the lake with the trailer this year with only a week to get ready and get to Colorado for the CQI retreat. I made it - although I was unable to find all the supplies I needed to bring with me - but crazy quilters are a very generous group and the others took care of me where I ran short. Thank you ladies! So, in a frenzy of packing I got ready to go. As you can see, not everyone in my house was crazy about me leaving again so soon after arriving home from the lake. My Pomeranian, Nala, did her best to hold the suitcase down!

The retreat took place in Breckenridge, Colorado, where Leslie had arranged for us to rent the home you see above. The accommodations were pretty well perfect for our needs with lots of light for stitching, plenty of room for spreading out our collective stash, gorgeous scenery and even a hot tub! It was snowing lightly when we arrived as you can see from the photo but it didn't last although the weather was cool at night as you would expect in the mountains.
The fun started as soon as we arrived with Leslie presenting us with presents, the first of which was a tote bag each that she had made with the wonderful new CQI logo! Leslie has a commercial embroidery machine and she works absolute magic with her skills with that machine.
Each of us also received a name tag - isn't this a clever idea? I love mine and will be using it for my guild meetings this fall.

There was a beautiful little creek running by the side of the retreat house right by the hot tub. It was so lovely to look at, whether it was snowing or the sun was shining.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Making Memories Quilt Block

After the great enthusiasm that developed in CQI over our involvement in making three quilts for Making Memories last year, it was no wonder we were all anxious to jump in with both feet again this year. Last year's quilt blocks were originally intended to make one quilt to be auctioned or sold to benefit breast cancer but when all the blocks came in, Leslie ended up making three quilts from them! The Making Memories people were very happy with them and it turns out they will be displayed at the big quilt show in Houston and then tour for a year before being sold. The blocks this year are again being made from wedding dress fabrics but this year it was decided to work in jewel tones for the stitching and embellishing and to have the theme of butterflies/dragonflies. I decided right away that I wanted to use waste canvas to stitch a Dimensions Gold kit I had of a butterfly and it is in the photo above. The squiggles were added at Leslie's suggestion to give it some movement. I hope I "got" what you were talking about Leslie!
Here is the entire block which I worked on all through the retreat and then finished up on the car ride home. I hated to mail it away (but I did) because it reminded me of the retreat. The seams all came from the little brown book by Dorothy Bond, "Crazy Quilt Stitches" that I borrowed from Debbie for the duration of the retreat. The butterfly in the bottom right hand side was a result of the dying class we had, The butterfly on the right hand side in the middle is three dimensional and was inspired by the lovely one Janet did on her block. The silk ribbon butterfly in the upper right was inspired by the Piecemakers "Out of the Darkness" quilt. The block was a lot of fun to do once I got over the challenge of working with jewel tones on a white and cream background.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ann's Spiders & Webs II RR Block

I finished up Ann's round robin block in time to hand in on to Janet at the Retreat. I finally managed to come up with a bit of silk ribbon work! This block had so much really lovely silk ribbon embroidery on it I felt like I should add some too but had a hard time coming up with anything that wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb because of my limited ability with silk ribbon. At last I came up with this little bunch of pansies which I was happy enough with in the end.
This gold fabric gave me nightmares! It was one of those that loves to fray and by the time I was stitching on it the gold had frayed enough that it wouldn't meet the adjoining black fabric anymore. So, I stabilized the seam by securing both the black and gold to prevent further fraying and then found this trim in my stash that had both colours in it so it would blend in. There are no traditional seams on this block so I didn't want to add any this close to the end. It was tricky to get the trim worked around the existing stitching but I think I managed all right in the end. I really liked this very pretty gold fabric so I claimed it for myself and stitched a dragonfly on it in varigated threads. I had already done a litle dimensional embroidery of an aloe vera plant which I posted previously.

So, in the end this is how Ann's block looked when I handed it off to Janet. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Thrift Store Find

Just in time to include in my packing for the CQI retreat, I found this shoe box at the thrift store. The best deals come when the workers there aren't quite sure what they have in their hands so I was able to snap up 42 packages of polymer clay together with a bottle of glaze and a pallette of chalks all for $5.00! It certainly makes me feel like I can do some experimenting without worrying about wasting clay!

Potholder Swap

I'm back online at last! I found my battery charger for the camera after arriving home from the Crazy Quilting International Retreat in Colorado (more on that in a day or two) so now I need to catch up on what I have been up to.
I needed to make a potholder for a swap so I decided to play with selvages again. For this I simply strip pieced a square on the diagonal. Then I cut it into quarters, rotated two of the quarters to make a diamond effect and put it all together with a couple layers of thermolan. One thing I did learn on this little project is it saves a lot of work if you leave more print on the selvages!