Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Still Winter Here

I have hopes of Spring.  I saw a robin this morning. In the snow, but a real robin. Yesterday on our morning walk we heard birds twittering. Both good signs. Not so good was the really nasty ice this morning. My walking partner fell (I was freaked; she said she was fine). rain followed by cold...very slick.

I finished this last week. Designs like this will be in a new book by SJ Designs. Even back in the 60s I didn't embrace orange, but I am now. Ever since I learned in Thai birth colors, based on the day of the week you were born, my color is orange. This is very orange.  I used floche on linen.
 Last weekend we visited the Oak Park Conservatory for a bit of sunshine and spring flowers. It's a small conservatory (doable even when I coudn't walk). This year's springtime display was lovely.
 I love the colors but the zig-zag just takes my breath away.
 I think this tree was invented by Dr. Seuss. It had to be.  It's very silly. A Who tree.
We've been studying color in my EGA chapter and I kept seeing red-green complements.
 In addition to a number of absolutely huge koi in the pond, there was a new group of babies darting around, too.  (and blue-orange complements)
 Another Dr. Seuss plant.  If you look close, it has yellow thingys coming out of the top.
 Hubby looking at the lemons (Ponderosa lemons--yes, they really are that big).
 With light shining through it you see all sorts of swirly textures.
 With the light in front of it, the leaf (same leaf) looks like velvet.
I love this window in the succulent's room.  I'd like a window like this in my house.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finished Objects

I've finally gotten back into working on the tiny forest pendants I began last fall. (here, here, and here)  They're a bit fiddly, because they're so small, but I really have been having fun stitching them.  I completed fall and winter this past weekend.
 They're very dimensional and two sided.  This is fall, above and below.
You can see the scale from my fingers holding up the pendant. Tiny.
  And here are the two sides of the winter forest.  I may go in and add some darker specks to the birches.  This was insipred by an early winter visit to Pilcher Park in Joliet...there was snow on the ground and yellow leaves floating everywhere. The sunlight was particularly golden in the late afternoon.
 For a bit of fun on Sunday I stitched up this Dimensions kit bib for my new great-nephew, who should make his appearance in about four months.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crazy Quilting and Bronchitis

That's pretty much been my last few weeks. A bad cold, followed by bronchitis that is being persistent. When I had energy, occasionally on a weekend, I worked on the crazy quilt block for the class with Kathy Shaw.  I finished it last weekend and I'm pleased.

I like the end product and I also like how I can articulate how and why I did things and the choices I made. Much of the block is based on the class framework and requirements, but I believe I made good choices based on that for the discretionary additions.  The class was beginning crazy quilting with Kathy Shaw.  I'd recommend it to anyone interested in crazy quilting.
This is the completed block, cropped to the seam edges around the outside, so we can see the finished effect.  The pale fabric colors (the pale part, not the exact colors or fabrics), embroidery stitches (but not colors), four types of ribbon roses, and seam treatments were part of the class.  The sizes, colors, and shapes of ribbons, beads, charms and other additions (buttons) were all up to me. I decided to go with the overall rose theme and I added a large focal point satin rose in the button cascade to be the focal point of the block. 

My goal was for this to be a stash project. I ended up buying a few things (tiny sequins, the dragonfly charm, rose buttons, and pale pink double-sided satin ribbon).  I had had some older fabrics cut from some worn garments and a square bit of tatting that I really wanted to use. I combined that with some mottled painted fabric (the drip catcher from some long-ago lace dyeing) and some solid green fabric from my stash.  The pale colors were so the instructor could see the stitch template markings.

That was a HUGE bonus with this class--stitch templates. It seems obvious but using templates to mark the stitch placement made a wonderful difference in regularity stitch placement.  I have friends who are wary of venturing from counted work to more free-form embroidery. Templates would be perfect for them.  The class materials included a couple of pages of templates and instructions.

The center of the flower is a rose-shaped button. I used more of those buttons in the lower left corner.  I've known for years about many of the design "rules" discussed in class, but never applied them thoughtfully and consistently like I did here.  I think it really helped with balance and flow.
This is a close up of the lower left corner. I used more of the flower buttons with some beads I had.  I added pearls to the feather stitches and size 14 beads with 3mm sequins. I used mostly size 14/15 beads throughout, with just a few 11s for emphasis (and because that's what I had in the color I needed.)
This is the lower right corner. I added a silver charm and a tiny glass butterfly. I kept the butterfly close to the seam so it felt like part of the plan and not something randomly plunked down.  If I'd moved it further down in the corner, it would have looked lost.  More beads here, some with sequins. 

I also added a line of backstitched sequins at the base of the irises. It's subtle but the glint catches the eye and draws it to the colors of the irises without being obvious about it. 
This is the upper left corner. More beads, sequins and pearls.  Much of the stitching was dictated by the class lessons.  In most cases I matched the thread color to the fabric, mostly pale blue or green, so I didn't keep changing thread colors to match the beads.  I love the colors of the hand-dyed silk ribbons I had on hand to use for the ribbon embroidery. 
Here's the upper right corner. I didn't add much to the set embroidery from the class---just the row of pearls.  It seemed done as it was. This is also a good closeup of the central cascade.  The beads are antiques from my stash.
This is the whole central cascade. I kept the colors pale since the scale was larger and it's more textured than the rest of the block. It starts with the tatted block and flows into buttons with the pink rose anchoring it in place.  More than half of those central two blocks is empty space to balance the cascade.  I also sparsely beaded the seams in this area. 

The buttons are all stitched with the same pale green perle cotton thread, again to keep the impact of the cascade low. The darker spots are some tiny seashells. They picked up some of the redder colors in the block but are tiny enough so they don't unbalance anything.

I'd planned to add beads here, too, but it seemed to be complete without them. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February Fun!

Yes, in spite of the snow, we've gotten some fun in.  Before the white stuff began coming down, we visited the Tall Grass Gallery in Park Forest to view the current exhibit: Journeys, Passages, Retreats. I've always liked collage and this show was very interesting and inspiring. I'm still thinking about some of the pieces. 
The show is on through this month and worth a visit.  The gallery is free, although they will accept donations. 

I've been working on my crazy quilting project and doing wintry cooking (soup stock, blueberry muffins). I'm enjoying the class by Kathy Shaw. Here's my piece so far.
The green fabric is new, the two blues were dresses I wore until they were in shreds--I got them when I got my knee replaced in 1997, and the blotchy fabric was a protective cloth I used under some printing and painting I did a few years ago.  So far all of the perle cottons and ribbons are from my stash, although I did buy some tiny sequins. I'll add them at the end.

We only got about a foot of snow but it was very heavy and walking today was icy. Hubby shoveled and shoveled (and now he's sitting with the hot pad). Many places closed yesterday, but not my office. Today's Hubby's birthday, so it's time to celebrate.

Monday, January 26, 2015

More crazy quilting

My favorite part of any project is pulling together the materials. It's fun to imagine and think about and plan. So this weekend I went "shopping" in my stash to find supplies for the online crazy quilting class I'm taking.

As I was digging in the stash, I found some crochet trim that will fit all around the block. A start on the finishing! It also helped to push my color choices more to pinks than I had been planning.
So here's the collected stash (weeded down a couple of times already).  Below: Beads, trims, lace, sequins.  I really like the faded blue crochet trim.  I'm not a huge fan of "shabby chic" but this block is seeming to fit that genre. I'm okay with that.
Perle cottons for embroidering the seams.
Silk ribbons for embellishments.
I found this box of tiny shells. They have holes for attachment and I like the pinky-red color.
Below are some of the embellishments laid out (on my bright violet notebook cover).  5mm sequins are at the top. The larger buttons are 1/4" for scale.  The "orange" buttons and larger beads are actually translucent amber--darkened by the notebook color.  I think the tatted motif is too big, but it fits my new "theme" nicely.  Along the bottom are some odd beads--leaves, flowers, butterflies.  The thing above the lace on the right is an earring with no partner. I thought I could take the Chinese character off and use it as a charm. 
This class was the focus of my weekend. I pieced the block, stash dove, and figured out how to use Blogger on the iPad. It won't let me spell check, so for me, I prefer the "real" computer.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New challenges

Today I figured out both hoe to post on the iPad and how to post photos I've taken with the iPad. Steep learning curve--Google it after a few hours of trying to figure it out on my own.  

I'm taking a new class. No, I haven't finished my previous one (Catherine Jordan).  The timing was right for this one so I went for it.  Kathy Shaw's Basic Crazy Quilt Class.  It's done on a blog, we have to post the assignments. Hence the learning curve today.  

This is task four, my pieced block, mounted in the hoop ready for embroidery.  The class is very structured, which is, I think, exactly what I need.  My crazy quilting has tended to be more "kitchen sink" than thoughtful.  

I didn't want to work in it until my late Christmas gifts were done. I'm done stitching and on to finishing, so I took a break this morning to piece the block. 

No, the pastels at not me...they were required for the course.  Like I said, very disciplined.  I've already learned a lot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking at the Past

 Sorry for the absence.  Work has gotten very busy and I'm still working on a late Christmas gift. Above is a collage of the projects I completed in 2014. I've done one every year for the past few years and print and keep it as an overview. So many of my projects are gifts and gone, it's nice to have a remembrance.
 My family got together recently to go through old family files.  This is a selfie of me from probably 1973. Even then I was into fabric. I found an emulsion I could paint on fabric (and wood!) and I printed my photos on a variety of media. This is on a light gray linen-weave polyester.
 My dad's mother...
 and his father.
 My dad and his sister, ca. 1928.
 This pair is of my grandparents. I'd seen them before but until I began the scanning project, never realized they were taken at the same time and place!  They were married in 1919, so I'd say this was around then.  They kind of look like courting pictures. 
That's how I've been spending my free time these days.