Friday, August 29, 2008

I love your blog award

Recently Lelia gave my blog the "I love your blog" award. Thank you Lelia, I am happy you enjoy reading my blog.

The rules of the award are:
1. The winner can put the logo on her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated.

I have chosen blogs I have set up in Google Reader and check every day and that I haven't selected previously for one of the awards that has come my way to be passed on. They include:

Modeknit/Knitting Heretic
World in Stitches
The Embroiderer's Story/Plimoth Plantation
Time Goes By

Some of these are individual's blogs and some are related to businesses. Most are fiber related, the exception being Time Goes By. I don't know how they'll react to something like this. I think they're all well worth reading.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August TIF done!

I'd hoped to get this up last night but Blogger wouldn't cooperate. I spent much of today "visiting" France. A French friend is in town so we went to a local French bistro with another friend for an amazing lunch (La Petite Folie--not to be missed). Then we spent some time looking at wedding pictures (one of my friend's children got married this spring).

I had potato-leek soup and a wonderful chicken salad with asparagus, artichokes, olives, and just the right amount of feta. One friend had the same, the other had a crab salad and an heirloom tomato salad. (those few words just don't describe at all the luscious dishes and their various components.) We had to have dessert. I was good and had a compote of berries with lemon sorbet. Yum! The others had a chocolate bombe and an apricot tart. Luscious!

Lunch and the nice visit left me feeling much more in balance than I have been lately. My vertigo is improving and with it my attitude. I think my piece this month shows some of the lack of balance I've been feeling.

The background is my take on an inkblot--I did a yarn painting--the kind we did in grade school where you coated a piece of yarn and placed it on half of a piece of paper, folded the paper over and pulled the piece of yarn out. I wanted to do an inkblot but realized that the heavy paint from that would be hard to stitch through. All along I had been thinking white fabric and black ink but at some point the image reversed and I got myself some black fabric and used white acrylic paint I had. (I think part of the choice had to do with the white paint being to hand.)

A yard of upholstery cording was the yarn. I pressed and precreased my fabric, poked the cord into the paint bottle. I used a chopstick and the rim of the jar to squeeze out excess paint and then "artistically" draped the cord onto half of the fabric. I folded over the other half and then pressed a cutting board over it to keep the fabric flat. Then I pulled out the cord. For some I did this more than once.

Looking at them live they looked to me like flower petals. Looking at photos of them, they look more like x-rays. Other samples on on my Flikr site.

I chose the one I did because it reminded me of twirling, of the inner ear bits that are giving me fits, and the heavy line reminded me of the kind of balance staff tight-rope walkers use. I liked the layered effect.

I used a piece of the cording (dry) to wrap the tightrope. I used wools that I had on hand. I began to wrap neatly, this fine line we all walk to keep our balance could at least be pretty, but then decided, well, it's not. I'm not quite sure if the dangly threads are obstacles or things to hold on to. Most likely both. The ends are frayed and not attached to anything.

I backed the painted fabric with black stiff felt and then couched on the cording. I added a backing of white stiff felt. The last of the yard of painted cording is looped for the page binding. Done.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

more on biscornu and zoo

Some responses to comments: Biscornu aren't hard to do once you get your mind around it. I learned from a friend, World Embroideries. This site has links to finishing instructions including several biscornu tutorials: Thanks to everyone who has commented thus far; your names are added to the pool.

My husband used to go to Michigan City Zoo as a child. He's never mentioned an amusement park--I'll have to ask him. We began going together in the 70s, no amusement park by then. It is the place with the very cool clear plastic tube small children can crawl into and watch the otters underwater. We were interested to see that the otters tended to congregate by the tunnel when children were inside it.

I'm battling the side effects of a blood-pressure drug that as of Monday I'm no longer taking. I'm still pretty miserable and experiencing vertigo. Which is rather appropriate in an ironic sort of way since I used the extra down time to finish this month's TIF piece on balance. I have a photo and hope to get it up later on.

Monday, August 25, 2008


This weekend we visited the Michigan City Zoo. Actually, it’s the Washington Park Zoo but we’ve always called it Michigan City. Partly because I work near a Washington Park in Chicago (no zoo but room for confusion), and partly just because it’s what it seems to be known as by everyone local. It’s a lovely, small zoo, build during the depression by the WPA. It’s recently undergone some renovation that improved it. If you’re near Northwest Indiana, it’s well worth a visit. (It’s just around the corner from the Lubeznik Gallery and the outlet mall.)

The zoo is built right on the hills next to Lake Michigan—we sat for a while on a shady bench and I took this photo. If you look closely, near the center you can see the tiger pacing in his cage.

I spent some down time working on my sample piece for Plimoth, for the 17th century jacket recreation project. I don't think I can get there to stitch but thought it would be fun to try the sample and learn the techniques. I have been nervous about doing it…those spaces are really tiny and the thread is thick! (soie perlee) I had some quiet time in the morning today and was able to do a sample of reverse chain stitch and a detached buttonhole stitch. I may not get back to it until I have another peaceful weekend morning. But I do feel more confident and competent now, having gotten underway.

I’ve also been making pincushions. When we visited Erica’s a couple of weeks ago, I bought a stack of 5” squares of Moda fabric (Portugal by April Cornell). Erica’s had dozens of packages of fabric like this and it was really hard to pick just one. The squares are one each of each design and colorway in the series.

I’ve decided to give away one of the pincushions—this biscornu. Please leave a comment between now and next Monday (September 1) and I will draw one name to receive the pincushion. I’ve wanted to do a giveaway for a while now and this pincushion seemed perfect. The seams are overstitched with Portuguese knotted stem stitch.

I also did a little work on this month’s TIF challenge. I hope to have more to report later this week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

beading fun

I've been singularly unambitious this week, doing nothing much more than flipping through magazines in the evenings. I think it may have something to do with my new blood pressure drug.

I made this necklace last Saturday from stones I'd gotten at the Glass Onion while at my niece's graduation in Appleton, Wisconsin. I finally got out crimps, clasps and wire and made up the necklace. I've worn it most every day this week and really like it. While I was at it, I made up two pairs of earrings--at the bottom of the second picture.

I think of these as Navajo colors: turquoise, coral, black and silver. I may be totally wrong on that but they're colors I've used together since my college days.

I made up this bracelet for a friend while I was at it. I'd hoped to take her out to celebrate her graduation but it didn't happen. It's blue stone beads (some kind of natural crystal) with Swarovski round and bicone crystals.

Stringing beads like this is quite quick once you have all of the components together.

More pictures are on my Flickr site.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

World Embroideries

If you haven't done so yet, stop in and visit World Embroideries. She's posting some very interesting items. The lace piece in her most recent post is exquisite.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New nametag

For years I've loved the doll designs by Patti Medaris Culea and have avidly read all of her books, followed her blog, etc. But I'd never actually made a doll from her patterns. Recently she posted a free pattern for a nametag doll, Natania, on her blog and last weekend I decided I needed a new nametag!

It was quite a challenge to stitch, turn and stuff those teeny-tiny pieces but I managed to do it. I used muslin for the doll; happily it was a good quality muslin that didn't fray to bits in my struggles. You draw the face on after you've made it and let me tell you once I had that thing stuffed, that head was going on that doll no matter how the face came out!

It came out pretty much okay, thanks to Patti's directions. The eyes aren't quite level and it's a little high on the face but, hey, I'm pleased with it as a first attempt.

Her armature is pipe cleaners, her blouse a bit of lace. Her hair is hand-dyed silk threads from Treenway Silks (Gulf Island Series, Poet's Cove, about half-way down this page on the right)--their fibers are amazing. I used a wire "armature" for the hair. I used Pigma Micron pens for the face and the name banner, with some Sharpie fine point markers for some of the color.

I'm really glad she added this little pattern. Now that I've dipped my toe, I'm ready to dive in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

new blogger

A friend of mine has just begun a very thoughtful and interesting blog. I love her header, it's like a deep calming breath. She's a quilter and embroiderer who does lovely work. Please stop by and welcome her to blogging!

Orphan Auto Picnic

One of my favorite summer events is the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts' Orphan Auto Picnic. I like the picnic part more than the auto part, but they do get some amazing and unusual cars to come out for the day. It was held on shady river-front property in a western suburb of Chicago.

In the spirit of the Studio Journals class, I took photos of hubcaps and made a mosaic of them. Most often the more unusual cars had less interesting hubcaps. One little car had the motor in the middle and no side doors but the front opened as did the back. You kind of climbed in and slid under the steering wheel in the front and the back seat faced back. My husband was quite taken by a three-wheel car.

This site has a ton of photos of this year's picnic. If you look hard you can see me in my hat sitting with my stitching in the back of a couple of the photos. (we sat next to a white tent in the picnic area, not amongst the cars)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Take a look at this!

Is my sister-in-law an awesome knitter or what? I found this sale cotton yarn and after having it for a few years realized I'd never do anything with it. SIL knits so I'll give it to her. Never dreaming... The minute she saw the yarn the gears began turning--it was amazing to watch. You could actually see the light bulb go on over her head as she began designing it in her mind immediately. She'd been teaching a top-down bias pullover/ cardigan and adapted that. She took my measurements and took off knitting.

The secondary colors were her choice and really spark the design. The dragonfly design is also her original design. She knows I'm quite partial to dragonflies. I'm just too pleased for words.

I think I brought the yarn by in April. She had me try on the sweater, on the needles, in July. And here it is, complete, for my birthday! (and it's not even a major birthday, just a usual one in the midst of a decade) I've completed the back of a sweater for myself and the front is languishing, half done, in a pile. I knit hats and scarves and posies and fingerless gloves--not sweaters or other big items. And not originals at all.

The front has a button band and I need to find the perfect buttons for it. I think the design is so striking I may stick with simple plain solid color buttons. But who knows what inspiration will strike in the button aisle!

Thanks to the best SIL ever!

August Take-It-Further

I haven't come very far with this. I'm still having lots of thoughts about balance and how to achieve it. I'm watching the Olympic gymnasts balance on a narrow beam (and leap and flip on it!) with admiration and awe. I have issues with vertigo and balance is a big deal for me physically as well as emotionally and just in general.

I made a Photoshop image of one of my ideas. I've discovered that after taking the Studio Journals class, now I keep asking "what if?" and am having trouble on settling on a design and getting down to work.

My image for the line--the fine line we all walk--is a cord wrapped with thread in rainbow colors. Now I'm thinking I might like to make the background fabric an inkblot on fabric rather than a plain solid. I'll post more as the idea evolves

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Birthday weekend

Well, I have some catching up to do here. Last weekend was loads of fun.

Friday members of Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana EGA chapter paid our annual visit to Camp Quality Illinois. It’s always fun. This year I have to admit we were not terribly popular. Not us, I don’t think (I hope--those that came and did the project seemed to enjoy it). I tihnk it was more that the campers were all cooped up in the crafts building all of Monday and Tuesday due to storms. Friday was beautiful weather and the outdoors called. I’d never seen the crafts building so empty. We did have a few avid stitchers join us to make an Eiffel Tower bookmark (the theme for the day was France).

One enterprising young lady even made two! The mix of stitchers always amazes me—boys and girls both tried their hands at it, some younger some a bit older.

They always do so much for the kids at the camp and think of every detail. I'm putting my mind to thinking of a fundraiser to do for them.

On Saturday several members of my other stitching group, the Homewood Embroiderer’s Guild, drove out to Mishawaka to visit Needle Nest. It’s a great shop and we had loads of fun choosing fibers, colors and projects. Everyone was very helpful and friendly. I bought this kit—it came on the frame!—and finished it up Sunday night. It will be a holiday gift for friends.

After we shopped, we replenished ourselves at a fun Mexican restaurant across the way from Needle Nest, Hacienda Mexican Restaurant (thanks, Leila, for the name—I never can remember those things!). After lunch we rolled back to the car and went to stop number two, Erica’s. It was a spur of the moment stop for the quilter in the group.

Wow! This place has it all. It would be incredible for machine embroiderers or machine quilters—they have a nice variety of machines and loads of examples. I love quilt shops just for the array of fabrics and colors. And Erica’s has an amazing variety of fabrics. But they also have knitting, felting, cross stitch, embroidery, beading, wool embroidery, quilling, locker hooking (I just learned what that is, thanks, again, to Leila), oh, and all sorts of other odds and ends. I was enchanted and my now empty pocket book shows it!

Oh, but the fun didn’t stop there! Sunday was my birthday. Steve gave me a lovely bouquet (three bouquets actually!) of carnations that is only becoming fuller and nicer as the week goes on and some chocolate. Myrn knit me not one but two soft and cuddly neck warmers. They’ll get a lot of use come winter. And Jenny sent an embroidery kit of roses with bluebells.

The weather was perfect on Sunday and we went to the Midwest Buddhist Temple’s Ginza Festival, up near Old Town in Chicago. We used to be regulars and hadn’t gone in years. We shopped (they bring in master artisans from Japan), ate (veggie sushi and edamame—they’re known for their teriyaki chicken and it is good but it’s messy) and watched some shows. I love Taiko (drumming) and we saw two from Milwaukee and the other a youth group from MBT. We also saw a Hawai’ian ukulele group and a kendo demonstration. (My favorite taiko group is Kodo. You can hear the music in the listening room but there's nothing like live taiko!)

The whole weekend left me with a golden glow and lots of warm fuzzy feelings. I’ve been watching bits of the Olympics (I can sit and watch it endlessly but Steve has his limits) and working in my journal and stitching. That is, when I’m not at work or going to and from work.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

TIF thoughts

After the award, this feels like a most uncreative week. I haven't worked on my journal, although I have been gathering materials for a collage or two, and I haven't done much on this month's TIF.

I have, however, thought a lot about it. My first thoughts were that this challenge comes at a perfect time for me because I'm feeling out of balance and perhaps this will help me regain it.
I've been writing in my journal all week about being in and out of balance and came to the conclusion that being in balance, at least for me, it not a steady state. I tip one way and come back and then tip the other and come back and in the middle of all of this tipping and tottering, there are brief moments of balance.

It rather reminds me of going to the chiropractor (which I haven't been doing lately) and she puts my spine back in balance. It doesn't stay there but it feels great while it is aligned. And each time it seems to stay a bit longer or go back into alignment easier.

And that reminded me of meditation, where you focus on something and as your mind drifts you gently bring it back, over and over, to the point of focus. (which brings me once more to my "word" for the year: focus.)

I spent some time looking at images of gymnasts on balance beams and tightrope walkers but nothing was exactly right. So I began thinking about the balance point--the rope. That sparked a whole variety of textile and embroidery-related ideas for my journal page this month.

Today Sharon B's blog linked to an article on design and composition. In the discussion they touched on balance, including symmetry and reflection. And a note about how ink blots, such as those used in psychological testing, are symmetrical and balanced. Which got me thinking about all of the psychiatric aspects of balance.

The dictionary definition added more food for thought. The meaning I thought of first is the last one listed! (with 5, 6 and 7 running close behind)

Function: noun
1 : an instrument for weighing: as a : a beam that is supported freely in the center and has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends b : a device that uses the elasticity of a spiral spring for measuring weight or force
2 : a means of judging or deciding
3 : a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence
4 : an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece
5 a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements c : equality between the totals of the two sides of an account
6 a : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements b : the juxtaposition in writing of syntactically parallel constructions containing similar or contrasting ideas
7 a : physical equilibrium b : the ability to retain one's balance
8 a : weight or force of one side in excess of another b : something left over : REMAINDER c : an amount in excess especially on the credit side of an account
9 : mental and emotional steadiness

So I'm off for a long weekend. Tomorrow a group from my EGA chapter is teaching at Camp Quality--always a fun day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kreativ Blogger

I must apologize because I've neglected this for a while. On July 25, Leila (Stitches of Life) nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you very much; I am honored.

There are so very many wonderful blogs out there that I had a difficult time to choose just five! A whole slew of new blogs came to my attention through Sharon B's Studio Journals class and, of course, I had to check them all out and go back a few times...

Here are the rules of the award:
1. The winner may put the logo on her blog.
2. Put a link to the person you got the award from.
3. Nominate 5 blogs.
4. Put links to the blogs.
5. Leave a message for your nominees.

My five nominees (in alphabetical order) are:
Art, Tea, Life for lots of inspiration and step-by-step photos.
Elaine for her always thoughtful posts.
Nichobella and Ruth for all they added to the Studio Journals course (and other great stuff).
Sue for boundless creativity and generosity.

Monday, August 4, 2008

July TIF done

For some reason I just could not get going on this one. I sampled and experimented and gathered materials but didn't take a stitch in the project until July was gone. The I sat down on August 1st and pretty much did the whole thing.

The intensive needlework was likely a reaction to going down to my cousin's memorial service. I often find I channel my grief and other emotions into intensive stitching. This first picture is how the page will look in the book.

I wanted the effect of a mossy milestone. It looks more like that in this vertical picture. The past is darker than the future and has a bit of a golden glow. The future has more of a pink tinge; I like to be optimistic. I stitched the edging using the Glove Stitch from Country Bumpkin's (Inspirations Australia) A-Z of Stitches, book 2. The outer edge on the future side is stitched with a Needle Necessities overdyed perle 8 with some sheen to it. The past edge is stitched with a darker and duller Wildflowers from Caron.

The moss is needlefelted. I drove my husband nuts sitting there, endlessly poking the needle through the felt into a foam block for hours on end. The letters are cut out (carved) and needlefelted, as are the borders and edges.

The leading edge--today--has lots of colors in it.

I'm late in getting the August challenge--balance--and also in getting lesson 6 of the journals class. I just am getting them now. I think the balance theme may be a real challenge. I'm feeling very much out of balance right now. It's good and hopefully will help bring me back into balance--if I ever figure out what it is.