Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pondering on those New Year resolutions again!


I hate posts without pictures so check out these pajama pants I found for dd - they didn't fit so what to do?  I'll explain at the end of this post.

Well, February flew by!  With the olympics in Vancouver and Canada doing so well in them, we have been virtually glued to the tv at my house!  Plus it is a short month of course - I can't believe it came and went so quickly.  As you can see, I am already making excuses on why I haven't got further with my resolutions.  Now to take a look at my progress...

1.  Teach a class -  I have actually submitted a proposal for teaching a crazy quilting class - not as hard as I thought when I sat down to do it!  It looks like it will be accepted but I won't have firm confirmation or dates for the classes for a couple months.  But - I consider this one a go!  I am still having major butterflies at the thought of teaching but, God willing and if the creek don't rise, I'll conquer those when the time comes!

2. Make one Christmas present every two weeks - Still haven't got a start on next year's Christmas presents but there are several projects lined up and piled here on the table - does that count?  lol

3.  Start a whole crazy quilt - Still haven't started  but my goal is sort of to get the blocks pieced, or a good number of them, before I go away this summer so I can work on them then.  So, this one is a "kinda" in progress.

4.  Enter four competitions?  Well, I have a good start on one entry I need to get in at the end of March and have just found another that interests me so I'm doing okay here.

5. Submit two articles for publication - I have notes for one article I am going to write - just something very light I will get off shortly, and the germ of an idea for another.  So, since I committed to myself to write two this year I'm well on my way!

6.  One item a month for charity - not a darn thing done!  I am working on a couple so may have to finish both of them and count them for Feb and March and since they are both half done I'm okay with this!

7.  Stitch 15 minutes a day - doing much better on this one!  I would say I am almost consistent now with this.  Yay!!

8.  Clean out the sewing room - well, I am happy to say that approximately 30 boxes of books have left the sewing room destined for the second hand book store, the thrift store and the library sale!  It is a good start.  In addition, approximately 10 boxes of stash have gone to the thrift store and several kits have been given to someone who might actually use them!

Wow!  Now that I look at them I am actually quite pleased with the progress I have made with these goals.  Let's see what March brings...

Ahhh.. still wondering about those pajama pants?  Well, I bought them because I absolutely loved the colours - especially next to each other!  So since they didn't fit dd, I refused to get rid of them.  I have now cut them apart and in a few days I should be able to show you what I did with them - stay tuned!  Gee, this is my first "teaser"!!

Week 49 - Buttonhole Variation #2

First of all, I'd like to send out a big thank you to Leslie who inspired me with samples of her buttonhole variations - enough to keep us going for weeks!  Thank you Leslie!!

So, since we have already had a buttonhole variation I am calling this one Buttonhole Variation 2.  It is worked on a line which curves back and forth across the seamline.  The "legs" of the buttonhole are always on the outside of the curves in this variation.  I've included a couple photos below just by way of further explanation.


The first thing I did was to mark my line for stitching.  I used a votive candle for my curve template.


Work your buttonhole stitch as usual keeping the legs of the buttonhole on the outside of the curve.  You can find instructions for the basic buttonhole stitch in Sharon B's Stitch Dictionary here.

As you reach the seam line where your line curves to the other side switch around so that your buttonhole stitch is in the other direction, putting the legs (or arms?) on the outside of the new curve you are working on.  You can refer to the photo at the top of this post to see how it looks in the end.  Have fun with this one!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Simona's Spider & Web II Round Robin Block - Finished!

Well, Simona`s Spider block from the round robin at CQI (Crazy Quilting International) is done and will be winging it`s way home to her tomorrow!  I had worked on this block earlier in the round robin so it was so much fun to have another go at it before it went home.  I added a few more things since my last post about it so I`ve got more detail shots as well as a photo of the entire block at the end of this post.  I added one more seam seen here.  It was a bit of a challenge because the motifs on either side were very close to the seamline.  So, I decided on this windy vine and added leaves on this side and that, depending on where there was room.  The stem and leaves were all done in perle cotton.  It still looked a bit bare to I added some pretty pink blossom beads I bought in Breckenridge, using a clear seed bead to attach each one.  Below, you can see where I added a couple more things.  I built a dragonfly out of beads and also added a few gold butterfly beads.  The gorgeous ribbon rose is not mine - wish I could take credit for it but I didn`t do it! 



Here I added the silver butterfly charm on the left and the button trail on the right.  I also added the lace motif.  It is actually a combination of several that I cut apart and then reassembled to fit the space better.  I used Adirondack Alcohol Inks to dye the lace and am quite happy with how it turned out.

In the center rose patterned patch I was stumped as to what to do but ended up adding a butterfly.  I only had one wing left on my fabric in the colour of butterfly I wanted to use so he ended up in profile.  I backed it with a bit of thin quilt bat, turning the edges of the butterly over it and going around it with buttonhole stitch in Kreinik blending filament.  The body is made of clear seed beads attached using Fireline and the antennae are also fireline, melted at the end a teeny bit and then curled just a bit by running it over my scissor blades.

And now for the grand finale - Simona`s completed block!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

6 ATCs - Ukrainian Embroidery

EAC (Embroidery Association of Canada) is holding their annual ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap at the end of this month and I wanted to take part this year.  I had a nice piece of  Ukrainian embroidery I have wanted to use for something so decided to make six ATCs from it.  Here they are - I hope they will be well received!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Kimono of Ichimaru

On the same day that I attended the Deepak Chopra talk with my darling daughter, I took myself off in the afternoon to wander through an exhibition of some of the kimono of Ichimaru, on loan to The Station in Okotoks by the Greater Victoria Museum where they are part of the permanent collection.

By way of a brief history, Ichimaru was born into poverty and entered a geisha house as a teenager.  She became very skilled at singing, and was said to have a nightingale like voice.  As new technology developed, singing in the restaurants and tea houses was gradually replaced by recordings.  Ichimaru sang in several movies which moved her into superstar status.  She continued to produce records and appeared on television into the 1980s.  It seems appropriate that the name of the exhibition I attended was "Ichimaru - Geisha to Diva".

Unfortunately, The Station's facility is too small for them to be able to display all the kimonos in the collection, and they were unable to display any of the obis.  The 20 or so kimono on display though were well worth the trip and included the one above.  As you can see from the padding on the bottom of the kimono, it was designed to be worn trailing.   The embroidery and goldwork on this are spectacular!  The other kimono I saw illustrated wonderful examples of embroidery, goldwork and dyeing techniques, including shibori. 

I was so tempted having my camera in my purse but not being allowed to take pictures.  Also to have these silk wonders in hands reach but knowing I could not touch - my fingers itched for the pleasure!
However, I had to satisfy myself with coming home and ordering a book, The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru, and now I will anxiously await it so that I can see more of these kimonos and study the pictures at my leisure. 

I have to say that seeing these exquisite garments left me in the state of mind I had hoped to achieve at the Deepak Chopra talk but didn't!  I left the museum with a sense of calm and well-being, feeling totally centered.  I will be making trips back to study the kimono again until the exhibit moves on and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new addition to my library.  If you have a chance to see this exhibit, I highly recommend it.

A Small Disappointment

My darling daughter and I attended an evening with Deepak Chopra this week and I am not sure what we expected but we were disappointed.  We were prepared to be enlightened and motivated but instead felt like we were back in a Chemistry 30 class.  I think perhaps we were too much of a couple of good Anglican girls to appreciate his theories.  Very disappointing!

Progress on Simona's Spider II RR Block

I am doing some angel work on Simona's Spiders & Webs II Round Robin block, getting it finished so that it can go home to her.  I thought I would post my progress to date.  I attached the hand dyed lace motif Cobi sent in this patch and then added a couple seam treatments here.  The short one above the motif is a herringbone and chevron stitch seam with a few beads added as well as detached chain stitches.  It was done in Gloriana princess petite silk perle, except for the herringbone which was done in a copper colour Kreinik braid.  The long seam to the left is a cretan stitch (Gloriana princess petite silk perle) interwoven with some of my new Valdani perle cotton that the cats didn't destroy.  I used the same perle cotton to add detached chain stitch to the long arms of the cretan stitch.

This little seam called out for a bit of tatting which I happened to have.  I used Adirondack Alcohol Ink to dye the previously white tatting pink and then attached it with small green beads.


I built this spider web for Simona using Kreinik silver braid and blending filament.  Then I built the spider with a small clear seed bead and a teardrop shaped crystal I bought for this purpose at the bead store in Okotoks.  The beads are attached using Fireline and the legs were stitched with small straight stitches with the leftover Fireline on my needle.  I wanted to built one of those fat butt spiders and the teardrop crystal did the job nicely!

As always, you can click on the photos to get a closer view.  I still have more to do on this block and will continue to post my progress.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

BAS - Week 48 - Rhodes Stitch Variation (Heart)

In honour of Valentines Day, this week`s Build a Seam Challenge (BAS) stitch is a heart variation of Rhodes Stitch.  This is another counted stitch so you will need to either use a temporary marker to mark your fabric, or to use waste canvas, an evenweave fabric or a piece of graph paper to help you out.


I have drawn a graph of the stitch here for you on graph paper.  The way it works is that your bring your needle up at 1, 3, 5 and the other odd numbers and take your needle down at 2, 4, 6 and the other even numbers.  So, up at 1, down at 2, up at 3, and so on.

I have also done a series of photos showing it down with needle and thread and these follow here:

















So, there is the completed stitch!  You can see from the photo where to come up to start the next stitch.  And, lastly, here is a photo of a row of these stitches worked together.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentines to everyone!  I hope you have had a wonderful day with your own sweetie!  My sweetie and I just watched the first Canadian win a gold medal in an Olympic games held in Canada.  Sweet!

Friday, February 12, 2010

2nd Postcard Received

Isn't this sweet?  This postcard was made and sent to me by Rose Anne.  It is the second of two postcards coming from the CQI New Years/Valentines Postcard Swap.  I really enjoyed this swap and hope there will be another soon.  Rose Anne used some lovely preprinted fabric and embellished it with quilting, embroidery and ribbon.  An added thrill was that it came through the mail with a postage stamp and postmark!  I have to say too that Rose Anne did a wonderful job on the finishing of the postcard - I will be taking lessons from it next time I make one to try to improve my skills in that department.

Both of the beautiful postcards I have received are now on my new bulletin board at my computer-sewing station where I can admire them all the time!

3rd Potholder Swap

This is the third potholder swap I have taken part in at the Yahoo Mailblocks group.  It is a "sane" quilting group but I still find a way to go crazy!  lol  So, this is the potholder I have made for the swap and I'll be mailing it out to Ramona on Monday.  For the center patch I used some cross stitch pansies - my favourite flower.  I coffee-dyed the cross stitch piece to make it look a bit more vintage to go with these fun fabrics I got from Connecting Threads.  For further embellishment I only added a lace motif and two seams:  one of buttonhole half circles and one of ric rac held in place by chain stitch.  Both seams were done in blue pearl cotton.  After all, a potholder is supposed to be utilitarian!  I so enjoyed making this and think I should find time to make some for myself now as well.  I think they would look very cheery in the kitchen.  I might wait til dd moves out again though - she is famous for setting the potholders on fire!  lol

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Thread & Old Cats

Yesterday I made an excursion to Calgary to buy some balls of Valdani Pearl Cottom #8.  Since I love varigated threads I can't resist this beautiful stuff made in Romania.  I have only found one store in Calgary that carries it so it is a big deal to make the trip (over an hour drive each way) and treat myself.  Isn't it beautiful? - perfect for seam treatments! 

I bought thirteen balls and I guess I should have realized that wasn`t a lucky number - you may note there are only 11 balls in the photo.  I`m not sure what the mathematical equation would be.... 7 cats + 13 threads = 11 threads?  Well, you can guess what I woke up to this morning.  Below you will see a few photos of that.






I could have taken lots more photos - thread wrapped around the piano legs and bench, around the table legs, over and under everything on the table, etc. 

Repeating my mantra:  I love my cats, I love my cats, I love my cats....  Do I sound convinced yet?  lol

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I was cruising around and found instructions for chocolate covered pretzels on Make and Takes.  Well, who could resist?  This is the first batch but I have lots of candy melts and pretzels left so there will be more made tonight.  They really are yummy and will be packaged up for little Valentine`s gifts.  Hopefully, as I go along they will get a little more professional looking!  lol  Doesn`t matter though because I will have no trouble getting rid of the mistakes...

This is my darling daughter and the question I have is this - do they ever get too old to lick the beaters?

Debbie's having a giveaway!

My good buddy, Debbie Q. in Maine, is having a giveaway to celebrate launching her blog.  As you can see from the picture above, it is quite the giveaway for any crazy quilter or embellisher!  So, run on over to My Life, My Loves, My Stuff and check it out!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No Stitching - just more Hoar Frost Pictures

Just a bit of eye candy of a different kind.  Not stitching this time - just some hoar frost.  We have been having foggy weather lately and it is contributing to some beautiful frost coverings on everything.  I couldn't resist taking more photos.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Arlene's Summer DYB Round Robin Block

I have just finished my work on the last block in Arlene's Summer DYB Round Robin set of blocks.  They will all be in the morning mail now to Arlene.

The other blocks in the set were all done in bright colours - out of my comfort zone - but I did my best.  Cobi had provided me with the peacock lace motif so I used Adirondack Alcohol Inks to dye it and then added the sequins and beads.  After attaching the motif, I used Whipped Chain Stitch to add some branches (my BAS sample for this week), then added foliage using Raised Leaf Stitch in the same wool as I used for wrapping the chain stitch.  Lastly, I built some bullion stitch flowers with variated perle cotton and sewed a bead into the center of each.  I hope Arlene will like it!

BAS - Week 47 - Whipped Chain Stitch

This week's Build a Seam (BAS) Challenge Stitch is Whipped Chain Stitch.  The first step is to stitch a line of ordinary chain stitch.  Make the stitches just a bit looser and larger than usual to allow for the wrapping.  Here is a tutorial for chain stitch if you need it. I have used a variagated thread for this portion of the stitch.  I love this thread but I only got part of a skein in a swap so am not sure of the name or maker.

The second part of Whipped Chain Stitch is made by taking your needle over and through each chain.  You will bring your needle up through the fabric at the start of the line of stitching but for the rest it will remain on the surface.  For this part I used a darker green tapestry wool (DMC Broder Medicis Laine Tapisserie).  I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was to work with and it is a nice thickness too.  It is helpful to use a blunt needle such as a tapestry needle for the wrapping so you don't catch your chain stitch threads.

Here is what the completed line of Whipped Chain Stitch looks like.  To me it almost has the appearance of a braided trim. Your choice of threads can add a lot of fun to this stitch - how much contrast will you use?

Well, there it is for another week.  Have fun!

Postcard #1 Received

This morning's mail brought me my first postcard in the New Year & Valentine Postcard Swap at CQI.  I love it!  Diane M. in Ontario made this for me and I think it is so clever in its design!