Sunday, November 19, 2017

SAL in November

After a bit of a dry spell where needlework was concerned I'm suddenly back at it in a big way (relatively speaking of course!). I won't share all the details in this post. Suffice to say that I have a new focus for my Bee, Myself & I effort. If you're interested at all you'll want to watch for a post at the end of the month. 😉

In the meantime, I've finally been inspired to finish up my steampunk caravan for The Sketchbook Project. The last time you saw it, it looked like this:

A couple of you recognized the submarine quality of the silhouette. It was that element that motivated me to try for a steampunk look. In the process I've learned to utilize Pinterest for design inspiration. In case you are unfamiliar with steampunk, it's sort of Jules Verne and steam power and gears, a mash-up of the Victorian era and industrialization. There's an element of fantasy in it too, which is what appeals to me. To that end I have come up with the following.

I'm happier with the window in the door now. The couched thread is meant to be tubing, although I have no idea what the purpose of said tubing would be!

Nor do I have a purpose in mind for the gears and "pulley." I imagine the propeller could help decrease wind resistance (even if I might have it facing the wrong way for that).

Completing the steampunk caravan motivated me to start another one right away. I already had the lines drawn on a light green background but didn't have a specific direction in mind for this next one.

I don't seem to be capable of making truly square and straight windows!
I just picked up a warm chocolate brown and started chain stitching. Then I knew the door and awnings needed to be a rich red. It's now looking a little barn-like. It will be interesting to see where this takes me!

There's a wonderful group of stitchers participating in this stitch along now, with a variety of needlework projects in the works. You can take the tour by clicking on the names below. If you'd like the motivation of blogging about your work every three weeks you can contact Avis through her blog and she'll get you on the list. 😊

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Dark Side of the Rainbow

We're coming up on the end of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2017. I've made a handful of blocks out of my dark neutrals, which it the prompt for November if you aren't ready to start putting blocks together into quilt tops.

I honestly thought there were more than that! I wonder if I've put some away without photographing them? It's a distinct possibility. In which case they are somewhere in these piles:

The tallest pile, at the top of the picture, are my postage stamp stars on white backgrounds. That stack is 4" tall. I haven't counted the individual blocks yet. The pile of 16 Patch blocks is only an inch tall. In the foreground are my stars that have light neutral or dark grounds. That's not all of them; I think there are others in a bag in the Parts Dept. drawer.

Right now I'm finding this stack of stars overwhelming. I doubt there are enough 16 Patch blocks to go the distance on their own but I might be able to create a reasonably sized top using a combination of stars and 16 Patches. That was the plan back in January. A quick ruffle through the 16 Patch blocks shows me I'll probably have to make up a few blocks in specific colors if I want a balanced rainbow effect. 

I'm linking up with the other RSC bloggers, many of whom are actually building quilts out their scrappy rainbow blocks!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Scrap Happy in November

I always find it helpful to have a purpose for the sewing or creating I do. Some days it's enough just to cut up scraps or current favorite prints and make blocks for future use, but a specific purpose for those blocks is always more motivating. What's really exciting is when I can take the blocks I've made randomly and combine them into a quilt top to fulfill a need. I was fortunate to have such an occasion arise recently.

James, my quilter son, is also involved in local theatrical productions. He makes costumes and props, he acts, he helps out in whatever way he can. He was approached recently with a request for a quilt-in-progress that could be used as a prop for a play he is not otherwise involved in. He was willing to have a go at piecing one but knew I could probably furnish the cast with what they wanted much more quickly. As we understood it, they wanted a flimsy, a row of blocks ready to be added to the top, and maybe some loose blocks. They came to the right people!

To begin, I dug out my box of 12" orphan blocks. I found enough Ohio Stars to get the ball rolling. Then it dawned on me that I could frame up some of the 8" sawtooth stars I've been making out of scraps. A simple two inch frame turns them into 12" blocks (all finished sizes), thus making them easy to use as alternate blocks between the Ohio Stars.

We were told they wanted something about 36" x 48" for the prospective quilt top.

That's only twelve, 12" blocks! But then there was the separate row of blocks they requested, and maybe loose blocks as well.

And when the pieces come back from the play - hopefully not in too bad shape - I can complete the top for a donation quilt. So I kept framing up sawtooth stars and made a few more Ohio stars to boot.

They should have what they need for the play now, and somewhere down the line someone will be getting a scrappy new quilt. No new fabric was used in the creation of these blocks so I'm calling this my Scrap Happy effort for the month of November. 😊 Kate has a list of other quilter/bloggers who are using their scraps to make all sorts of fun things. Hop on over to see what everyone else has been up to!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Essay on Isolation

With the advent of the holiday season I find myself feeling more isolated than usual. If you've looked over this blog carefully you know that I suffer from extreme chemical sensitivities. That means the merest whiff of a product with any degree of petroleum or synthetic chemicals in it gives me, at the very least, a headache that lasts for 24 hours on average. More typically I will have not only the headache but also chills, become lightheaded, sometimes nauseous, and suffer an inability to think or process information. My reactions slow, and my temper flares. I’ve been known to unaccountably burst into tears. These reactions are most often short-lived, but they tend to be followed by depression. Consequently, negative reinforcement has made it preferable for me to stay home, inside my detoxified little house, and have very limited contact with people outside of my immediate family. Given that I am naturally a more solitary individual than most people seem to be this isn’t usually a hardship. However, it does take a toll over time, and the holidays can be especially difficult. Everyone else seems to be running around doing things and going places and here I sit, all but trapped within the walls of my home.

While I may be more comfortable in my solitude than others, I am also an artist who feeds on visual and tactile stimulation. Textiles or fibers are my medium of choice. Back in the day I was an active member of embroidery and quilt groups. I went to shows, galleries, and exhibits as often as I could. I loved to browse department stores and craft markets. Shopping, although not necessarily buying, was an effective way to fill my artistic well because I could touch as well as see the delights on offer. The experience of being among other people, even if I didn’t interact with them directly, was energizing. (Most of the time anyway. Everyone has bad shopping experiences!) All of this has been taken away from me - unless I want to pay a very high price for a very short excursion. The brevity of my endurance is just as frustrating as not going at all.

I am fortunate to live in a time when I can shop online. I can still purchase supplies, I can see what others are making, and I can converse with them after a fashion. The challenge for me is that I’m not technologically inclined. If it weren’t for my chemical sensitivities I probably wouldn’t use a computer for anything other than email. I’m not interested in going digital in any sense of the word. In that respect I’m a Luddite. In fact, I still have a flip phone, not a smart phone. While the computer makes it possible for me to stay more-or-less connected with the outside world it cannot replace the experience of seeing a quilt or painting in person, of handling a ceramic vase, or give me the ability to turn something over to see the back or bottom of a piece. It can be hard to get an accurate idea of the size of an object when you only see a picture of it, never mind the accuracy of color representation! The virtual feast offered by blogs and Pinterest, etc. is helpful but often unsatisfactory.

Occasionally, all of these factors combine and overwhelm me. Creativity comes to a halt. There isn’t energy or desire even for mindless piecing. I find that truly frightening. Fortunately, there have only been a handful of times when this state of being persisted. Books and movies seem to provide a useful escape. I just have to remember not to panic, to trust that “this too shall pass,” and ride the wave. I am grateful to have been blessed with the gift of faith. I may grouse and complain during difficult times but underneath it all I have confidence that God knows my suffering and will turn it to good purpose eventually. I just have to "hang in there baby!" 😉

Thursday, November 9, 2017

An Embroidered Diversion

Even though things have been quiet here on the cyber front I've been puttering around in the background. I won't cram it all into one post. At least one project deserves to be spotlighted. I just have to have to have enough brain power to do it justice. 

I've been itching to use some of the hand dyed flosses I've been acquiring from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. Yesterday I set up a small hoop with a quilting cotton that has a barely-there print on it. 

I've learned that a 4" hoop is the most comfortable fit in my small hands. I really wanted to fill this circle with embroidery but the first color I picked up was a dark green. That soon became leaves and stems for mysterious flowers.

They could be red hot pokers I suppose. I wasn't striving for reality particularly. But some time ago I downloaded an e-book by Ann Bernard about how to create flowers in embroidery. I brought that up and decided to have a go at her version of black-eyed Susans. 

The technique was simple and fun and seemed to be effective. However, if I were to do it over again I would use a lighter green for the foliage and/or a redder brown for the flower centers. Up close it looks okay but from a distance...

It's all so tiny! I'm striving to reserve judgement. I know the pitfalls of judging a work too soon. That path leads to UFO's. I'm thinking I might try to install a bird bath between and behind the two clumps of flowers but I'll have to screw up  my courage before I attempt that. Or maybe I'll try to put a tree in the background... or maybe this will sit and simmer while I work on something else altogether - but just until I decide what to do next, not to become a UFO!

There's yet another give away going on over in Nancy's shop. Pop over and leave a comment for a chance to win. :- ) 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

SAL Two in October

I'm sorry to report there have been no new caravans stitched up in the last three weeks. In truth, there has been very little needlework taking place at all. Most of my creative energies lately have gone into my patchwork. There's been a little progress on projects other than the caravan embroideries though.

Because of my extreme chemical sensitivities I no longer do the family shopping. Frequently I will go along and sit in the car while others are gathering the goods needed. On those occasions I will either take a book to read or my current needlepoint project. Somehow I can do needlepoint in the car but not embroidery. I find that interesting. In any event, I'd barely made a start on this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design the last time you saw it. Now it looks like this:

This is the larger, cosmetic bag size case that's available in the Stitch & Zip line. This time I'm using the floss that was provided with the kit.

The other project that has seen progress is the pair of stamped pillowcases.

You can see I've nearly completed the top one. All it lacks are the French (or maybe Colonial) accent knots in the centers of the flower heads. I decided to leave those for last because I haven't entirely settled on what color to use.

I'm not sure it shows well in the photograph, but I'm using a yellow, an orange, and a rusty red for the flowers. These are all Nancy's hand dyed flosses. There's a subtle color change in the orange and red which is fun to see show up as I stitch.

Nancy is offering a couple of opportunities currently for followers to win whole sets of her hand dyed floss. Pop on over to have a look. If you sign up as a follower and leave a comment you could win some of this gorgeous stuff for your own projects!

Our next stitch along check in will be in three weeks, on 19 November. This SAL is different from others you may be aware of as we each work on our own projects rather than the same one across the board. So you'll see all kinds of needlework as you make the tour, which I heartily encourage you to do!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Not Quite So Pink

This is the last Saturday of October, thus the final pink link party over at So Scrappy. I've been making blocks all week long, but not all of them have been pink. ;- )

I might have made more if that visitor hadn't come to hang out on the design wall!

There was one new postage stamp star and a 16 Patch like I've been doing all year. Somewhere along the way I was seized with the urge to make Churn Dash blocks. But I had to make a couple of Turkey Tracks too!

The pink scraps tended toward coral for me this week. I haven't used them all up but I think I'm done for the time being.

Head on over to Angela's blog to see who else has been playing in pink this week. I'll be back tomorrow with a report on the needlework I've been doing lately.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Penguins in Pink Scarves

There's a new arrival on the horizon in our clan. To that end I've been pondering baby quilt options. At one time I purchased somewhere between a half and a yard of this delightful print:

Since the baby is due at the end of January I thought this might be more appropriate than the more summery print I was considering. The trouble with both prints is that their framed images do not fussy cut to easy-to-use sizes. Eventually I discovered that I could isolate a 15" square of this print without compromising the penguins. Some while after that it dawned on me that I could make 6" blocks, separate them with 3" sashes, and come up with alternate 15" units. There's nothing like a good plan to get things moving. :- )

After I cut the 15.5" squares from the yardage I realized I could also cut 3.5" patches featuring the penguins and snowflakes. I'd have preferred to have included more of the borders around the images but I could make 3.5" patches work. In fact, they led me to the solution for the 6" blocks.

Except that there weren't quite enough snowflake panels to go the distance. Fortunately it didn't take long to come up with a solution for that little dilemma.

So now I have a top that looks like this:

I'd really like to add an outer border but don't have enough of that black print to do the job. I do, however, have some penguins left over that I could use for cornerstones in the border.

We'll see if I can find a suitable border print in the coming week.

While I was working on this project I came across a long-forgotten pink remnant. I cut it up to create a 10" Wrench and another Turkey Tracks block. Over the course of the week I also managed to get a a few other blocks made out of pink scraps so I'm linking this post with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. :- )

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scrap Happy and Pink

Today is another of those opportunities for me to show what I've been doing with scraps in general for Scrap Happy Day hosted by Kate and Gun and scraps in pink in accordance with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela. :- )

I'll begin with my scrappy pink blocks. Four 8" blocks...

And five 6" blocks:

 Then there's this quilt top I pulled together out of the Part Department:

It began with the 12" Lego blocks I'd been making out of my 2" scrap strips in conjunction with recent Scrap Happy Days (on the 15th of each month).

I'd reached a point where I was pretty much out of scrap strips and didn't feel like cutting more so I went fishing in my orphan blocks to see what I could pair up with the Lego blocks.

I ended up using an assortment of 9" blocks in two columns to separate three columns of Lego blocks. I felt a border would bring it nicely up to size and corral all the activity in the various blocks. But with all those prints and colors, what would work? The fussy cut patches in some of the 9" blocks lent a juvenile flavor to the quilt so I looked among my more whimsical prints first. Ta daa:

There was enough to put a 3" (finished) border all the way around the flimsy. The eventual quilt will finish at about 60" x 78," a good size for either child or adult. I even had yardage in my stash that worked for backing. :D

I'm linking up with the RSC over at So Scrappy, and you can see the rest of the Scrap Happy Day efforts by visiting Tall Tales from Chiconia (Kate's blog).

Thursday, October 12, 2017


All the embroidery I've been doing lately as been done with needles out of a package of assorted sizes. I've learned that the largest and the finest ones are not generally useful for the work I'm doing. It took some effort, but I finally figured out the size of the needle I prefer. Of course there's a limited number of that size in the package. When you've got four projects going at once and you misplace a needle what are you going to do? Buy more needles of course. And I wanted to get a packet of needles all the same size, not another assortment.

My go-to online retailer these days is I wasn't confident they would have the needles I wanted but to my surprise and delight they did. :D There were a couple of books on my radar so I ordered them at the same time. I didn't really expect all three items to be shipped in the same package - that would have been too efficient. What I did not anticipate was that all three items would be packed and shipped separately, from the same location (as far as I know) and on the same day. Each book was in its' own padded envelope. In my mind that would have made sense for the needles as well. However, this is how the package of needles was shipped:

For reference, this is the box known as A1.

It's a good thing I knew what to look for in the box!

Not only were they under the air pillows, they'd slid under the flap on the bottom of the box.

Ta daa!

Now I can start yet another project without fear of being short a needle. But why the needles couldn't have been slipped in with one of the books I doubt I will ever understand.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More Embroidery

Since I signed up for Nancy's limited edition floss club - a monthly delivery of six skeins of her lovely hand dyed floss - I've been looking for opportunities to put those lovelies to good use. I used the hand dyed floss exclusively for my sister's needlepoint case but that was only two colors (see previous post). I've also been using a dark green of Nancy's for the scrolling on the pair of stamped pillowcases I bought on sale recently.

Until this weekend I didn't know what I would do for the flowers. I didn't particularly care for the palette suggested by the pillowcase packaging. I've been working with brighter hues lately as they are nearly always my first choice. Like in this friendship block for example:

Much of the floss I've received from Nancy is in more muted tones however. I have enough in that collection now that I was able to pull focal colors and shades in three different hues for the pillowcases.

They're going to be autumnal pillowcases, that much is certain!

Nancy is sponsoring yet another give away. Hop on over to have a look at what's on offer. :- )

Sunday, October 8, 2017

First October Stitch Along Check-in

I can finally show the needlepoint case I designed and stitched as a gift. This one is the size of a cosmetic bag, bigger than the little cases I usually make that comfortably hold credit cards or coins. I made this for my sister who is a knitter. She's already put it to use storing some of her circular needles. :- )

I used a font from the menu in my computer and then did my best to replicate the ribbing effect the stitch pattern would produce in knitting for the border. I didn't think those corners would turn out as well as they did. At the time I couldn't keep the math straight in my head (or on paper!) to clearly see how it was going to look in the end. I'm pleased with the results, and so is my sister! 

The other needlework I've been focused on are the caravans I've been embroidering to fill my version of The Sketchbook Project. This trailer hasn't been touched since our last check in.

I finally decided to just start work on another caravan, one that has been in my head for some time.

It's a cute little trailer. I actually had a couple of ways I could have directed this one. In the end it turned into a 1960's flower power caravan instead of a mobile surfer's shack. ;-)

I put a beaded curtain on the inside of the door and a lava lamp on the table under the window.

It only took me two days, start to finish, to complete this one. Hopefully I will now be able to go back and finish the other trailer. If not, I guess I'll just start another one!

There's a big bunch of us now in this stitch along group. Not everyone has progress to post every three weeks but having others to hold us accountable helps to keep us on track. We're also all over the map, from Europe to Australia. I haven't been very good about getting all the way around to see everyone's work but I assure you it's worth the effort. There's some wonderful and impressive work being done by...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The First Week of October

I'm happy to report that I've had more good days than bad as we've moved into October. Yippee! I've completed four quilt tops and prepared backs for them. You've already seen the Piggies in the Garden and my Bee, Myself and I quilt top (in the last post). The other two will be revealed in time. For now I want to share the blocks I've been making most recently.

If you're a regular visitor you know there are turkey tracks all over my Nest.

One more showed up this week, along with a wrench and one more orange 16 patch block for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge effort this year.

8" 16 patch, 10" Wrench, 9" Turkey Tracks

Orange was the RSC color for September. Now we're working with our pink scraps. I have more scraps in pink than any other color (except maybe blue) because of the pink quilt I made for my granddaughter last year. I started with a couple of my larger pieces and made 8" basket blocks.

Those Hole in the Barn Door blocks are 6" and were assembled between seams (as leaders and enders) before I realized pink was the focal color for the month.That worked out well, didn't it? :-)
I'll be linking up with the other Rainbow scrappers over at So Scrappy.

When I went to the kitchen for breakfast this morning I saw something unusual on our back deck:

Can you see them? I think it's a pair of Northern Flickers. They didn't look exactly like the images I've seen elsewhere of Flickers but they don't look anything like other bird species that would be found around here.

I was shooting through our sliding glass door and the screen because I was afraid of scaring them away. The strangest thing was that both would be perfectly still for a time and then simultaneously start a sort of head dance. It's fall here, which seems an odd time for a courting ritual to take place. I guess I'll have to find out whether they migrate and then breed elsewhere!