Tuesday, June 30, 2009

quiet weekend

Even though the weather was mostly lovely here, I was under it this weekend with a sore throat, headache and chills. Not horribly ill, but not raring to go, either. I felt it coming on during the week, I was tired and didn't pick up a needle all week. I did crochet a bit and finished this crochet shopping bag, here full of apples and bananas.
I did get a lot of business taken care of last week and a lot of work done, which felt good. And I took some time our for fun. Last week at this time I was sipping a berry smoothie having a pedicure.
Pedicures are among one of life's great pleasures, I think. My very frugal mom introduced the other females in the family to this after she discovered it when she was probably in her late 60s or early 70s.

When we were young such a thing would have been the ultimate of wasted time and money to her. But she mellowed with age, as we hopefully do. It was a real treat to watch her indulge herself a bit, finally, once she could. She loved to have her hair and nails done.

I was a little shocked when she introduced her granddaughters to this extravagance when they were, I think, 16! (When I was 16 I wouldn't have ever heard of a manicure, much less such things as pedicures.)

She introduced me to pedicures when I took her up to Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic for a problem she was having. I got shocking red for my toenails for my first pedicure! It was such fun and is one of my favorite memories of a stressful trip. I'm sure it was mom's last pedicure.

My second venture into this realm of girlyness was with my sister. It was so very much fun. Now I try to make a habit of it! (now you know my not-so-secret vice!)

Dolly hopped into the shopping bag, in the hope of going on another adventure...

silk screening?

I looked back through my posts and couldn't find a previous post about Camp Quality Illinois this year. So I hope this isn't reduntant--I was sure I'd mentioned this year's project.

Each year my EGA chapter teaches at this camp one morning--we design, kit and teach a project that can be done by children from 6 to 16, boys and girls both, with and without experience. It's kind of daunting but fun.

This year our day's theme is Hawai'ian Luau. Our chapter has on hand tins for our Indiana State Day event coming up and we decided to use them and develop a project that could be put into the cover. Since we have felt and I love working with felt, felt it is...

I used freezer paper stencils to create the positives of this hibiscus. The negatives were made by carefully ironing on the cut out bits--not too easy and the little pieces didn't stick well.I played around with some embroidery on the samples above. The top one is in the tin we'll use--it's just a bit large for the opening. We got a nice donation of perle cotton to use for the embroidery. My inclination is to give the children the stenciled fabric and some thread and let them do what they want--no set pattern or rules. I also plan to have extra felt on hand for the creative ones.

Below is a shot of the used stencils, set up for reuse. They should iron on a few times. I also decided to try my hand at silk screening the negative design. I read all I could find on it and checked out some silk screening supplies at J0-Ann's and then I bought some bridal chiffon, the finest I could find.

I tacked and taped it to stretcher bars and then traced my design with a Sharpie marker. I painted in the parts to remain white with Modge-Podge. I had read about someone else using this because it's more water resistant than some other media. (It was a while back that I read up on this and didn't keep any source material or printouts, just vague memories.)

I haven't tried it yet, but there's a long weekend coming up this weekend and I plan to give it a go and see what happens. Hopefully, the final silkscreened piece will look like the stenciled version on the bottom right and be easier to do in multiples. (Sadly, Camp Quality is always booked to the max with kids wanting to come---I generally estimate about 75 kits.)

I've also developed a tiki design for the less flowery stitchers. I think I'll wait and see how the silk screen does and, if it works, do that one as a silk screen. Any suggestions are welcome! Wish me luck!

I'm going on a computerless holiday from Thursday night through Monday! Mostly we'll be at home, hanging around, although one day we plan to visit with my family. (It's hard to find a day on a holiday weekend when both of our nurses are off work at the same time!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

June Giveaway Winners

Wow! I'm really blown away by the interest in this giveaway. Threads are always the most fun!

Random.org picked 18, 20 and 13 today for the winners of the threads. They are Elmsley Rose, Stef (Stef had several blogs, I just picked one but check them all out), and Jamee J. (She doesn't have a blog but that's her Hardanger here.) I'll be in touch so you can send me your addresses.

If you do something with this thread please let me know. I'd love to post photos on my blog or link to your blog images. Susan at SJ Designs and I would love to know what you think of this fiber and what you do with it.

Thanks so much to everyone who commented and entered this giveaway. I have more lined up for July and August.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't forget to enter June giveaway

It's almost over! Don't forget to leave a comment here to be entered in the June blog giveaway. The THREE winners will be selected next Monday (June 29).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A little progress

Last week was a busy one. I ran a conference at work and then collapsed (I slept most of Sunday to recuperate!). Dolly stayed home and kept an eye on things there. It's gone from cool and rainy here to very hot (50s to 90s!) since last week and the heat making me lazy.

I worked on crocheting a mesh shopping bag at the conference--which looks like a pile of thread so I didn't bother to take a picture of it. I'm using leftover cottons from Susan's washcloths (in this post). It's still in the works.

Thanks to Racaire and her Refilsaum handout, I'm sailing along with my Bayeaux Tapestry bit (see here for links). It may not look like much but this is hours of work done--smoothly and happily finally. I'm really enjoying this piece now. My stitching doesn't look as neat as Racaire's but I can see a definite improvement from my start (the upper left-hand bird) and even as I go along.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dolly visits my sister

After checking out things around our house, Dolly took an excursion up to my sister's. It was an idyllic afternoon to sit on the porch. We sat int he shade but Dolly wanted to get some sun.
She sat in the boat for a bit but decided against venturing out onto the river. It was a very busy afternoon with a lot of traffic and activity.
Last, Dolly poses in my sister's garden. She really liked this cushiony plant.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dolly and the Catalpa Tree

Dolly discovered how much fun it was to climb in the catalpa tree that takes up most of our back yard. She spent hours perched amongst the fragrant blossoms, playing hide-and-seek amongst the huge leaves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

project update

For a while I've been struggling with this banner design taken from the Bayeaux Tapestry. I replaced the floss that came with the kit with crewel wools in the same colors but I really struggled with the laid and couched stitched used in the design--in particular in the tiny areas.

Last week as I was cleaning out my computer files, I came across a document I'd saved a while back. "Refilsaum" by Racaire. Refilsaum is the name of the laid and couched stitched used in the tapestry (Google it for some interesting results...) After reading her very clear instructions and tips, I was able to stop ripping and start stitching and I completed one bird motif and some of the border.

I had also been struggling with outline stitch on the small, tight curves. The Refilsaum document listed split stitch as a stitch used in the tapestry, so I switched to that for some of the tighter areas and am much happier. I had thought of using it but just wasn't sure if it was proper.

I decided to do this as a learning experience and part of that is to try and do the stitching much as it would have been done originally (except not on a huge frame in a room with no lighting with other women working alongside me).

I also did some digging and stash cleaning this week. I'm looking for some silk paper I made a while back. Haven't found it yet, but I did find other things and have a new pile of goodies for giveaways this summer and some new projects to work on now that Dolly's done.

I was looking for the silk paper to use it for the last page (December) of the Take It Further challenge from last year. I have a design I like and couldn't figure out what was holding me up until I realized that I felt I was copping out by going with felt again...quick and easy. But the whole point of TIF was not do do the quick and easy. Then I realized my design would work in silk paper and take on a whole new dimension and it wouldn't be as quick and easy since I haven't done much with the silk paper. I have some silk paper already made is colors that would work. If I could find it.

I did find this panel of crazy pieced mini-stockings. It was a teaching panel years ago with a step-by-step progression for how to foundation piece a crazy quilt square. I taught it at the local EGA chapter.

When I got home from class, I completed piecing all of the stockings, but then it sat. This weekend I dug it out and cut out a small stocking shape pattern and used a silver Sharpie to outline it on each stocking. I cut one out from the background and began to embellish it. I always need at least four ornaments at the holidays for various guild things, so I'm hoping I'll get these done for that.

I also found this beaded cord. It's a rather mindless project--peyote beading around a cord. Sadly, the little beads mean that it's not a "doctor's office" project. But I sat and quickly doubled the length beaded (I hadn't done much before boredom struck). I think it will be okay to do in the evenings when I'm tired.

It made me realize how much I used TV as background noise when I would work on a mindless project like this. I missed it.

The quiet of no broadcast TV helped me get a couple of repeats done on a lace knitted sachet bag. I have two repeats done and need to do four. Lace knitting is something I really have to concentrate on and count.

This time I'm using a flip book for the pattern and I like it. I wrote out two rows of the pattern on each page of a spiral bound notebook. As I complete the rows, I flip to the next page. That way I don't get lost and when I pick it up, I know where to start again. I have a hard time with charts and this is working nicely for me.

I do think we'll end up getting a digital box for the TV. My husband is going through withdrawal (he's home a lot more than I am). He quizzed everyone about their box brand on Saturday and watched three DVD TV shows and a movie (Bend It Like Beckham--my pick and we really liked it, although getting through the British accent on top of the Indian accent meant we did some rewinding to catch what was said.) Sunday the TV was not turned on at all. But yesterday he told me that he spent twenty minutes watching the one channel that's left--a public service announcement about how to hook up your box. Last night was back to more DVD TV. (Right now it's the 1960s "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." Boy, are they full of 60s cold war cliches!)

Dolly's adventures continue

Dolly decided to take a tour of the garden last weekend. Rain was predicted all week so she wanted to get some sun before it hit.

First she sunned herself a bit, snuggled up in the evergreen in front of the house. The needles are quite soft. The weather on Sunday was perfect for an afternoon snooze in the branches.

Then she stopped to view the back yard from the top of Tim's fence. The milkweed is in our yard (the butterflies love it) and the last of the roses on the other side in Tim's. We kind of share plants back and forth across the fence. The perch gave Dolly a lovely view of the side and back yards.

Later on she wandered over to sit by the roses next to the garage door. Steve made the trellis, more to hold them back from blocking the door than support for them. They've been there since we had the garage built (30 years) and do just fine. It made a lovely perch for Dolly to sit and just smell the roses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dolly's Adventures

Dolly had an exciting weekend. First her abdomen and ankles were toned up and strengthened and then she had a hip replacement to even up her legs. While she was recuperating, her dress was edged and a snap sewed on the back for closure, her rose was stitched and attached to her hair and her wrap belt neatly tied. Dolly was ready for an adventure.

Stepping outdoors for the first time, Dolly poses with the mum plant I was given after graduation on Friday. She then ventured into the yard and found a seat for sunning herself on a clump of oak leaves (a very small oak tree that's taken root this spring).

to be continued...

Monday, June 15, 2009

They're here---Pieces of Friendship

My puzzle pieces from the Pieces of Friendship swap arrived this weekend. Aren't they awesome? I'm just thrilled...Pat did an amazing job of putting the group together for me.

The pieces I received are from (top row, left to right) Grace from IN, Liz from KS, and Pat from IN and (bottom row, left to right) Robin from GA, Annette from the UK, and Elizabeth from VA. Thanks, everyone, for sharing with me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hello, Dolly!

That's what I've been calling heAdd Imager, Dolly. She's patiently waiting for me to finish her dress and get that pin out of her head, the one holding the flower together. This is a pattern by Mimi Kirchner that I found on Purl Bee. It been great fun.

Dolly is all felt and wool from my stash. The threads are silks and pearl cottons. She's sewn all by hand. The instructions in the pattern are clear and easy to follow. I have a list of "next times" that I should jot down.

I think I need to make a less serious doll. Above she just looks patient, but she's got a more wary outlook below. I stole the "flirty eyes" idea from Susan M. Hinckley. Her blog is Small Works in Wool.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today is graduation day here. After what has felt like weeks of rain we have a lovely, sunny day. I'm so happy for the graduates and their families (a substantial portion of the events are held out doors, rain or shine).

Graduation day always makes me rather nostalgic and reflective.

Last night I had dinner with a good friend. Before dinner I toured her lovely garden. The rain stopped just long enough for us to take a short stroll around. It was breezy so most of the flowers were moving too much for photos, but I was able to capture these lovely roses.

Dinner with friends is always fun. We talked about everything--embroidery, family, food and recipes, and life in general. It was a good evening.

My work doesn't get a break with graduation--next week I'm running a conference here and I've been pelted with fiscal-year-end deadlines. Yesterday, however, I had a very productive meeting that cleared a huge mound of financial paperwork off of my desk. Now, if the other parties do their thing in a timely manner, it will all be cleared up for good. Yay!

Right now, I have a number of friends going through difficult times either due to the economy, health issues or, sadly, both. Boy, do I feel helpless. All I can do is listen and send good thoughts their way.

As of today, we don't have broadcast TV any longer. That may change, but for now we decided not to go digital. We've been watching friends and family who have and have found the "boxes" are often junk and fail within a few months, the signal strength is lower so even with the converter box and a new antenna, people are getting many fewer stations. And we don't want cable and the bills that go along with it.

We did buy a new TV a while back--and almost immediately returned it. The warranty was void unless 90% of the programming viewed was wide screen. Since very little of what we watch is in that format, we decided to forgo the new TV. (Plus, we're rather annoyed that rather than lasting 10 to 20+ years like older televisions, the new ones have a life span of about five years. We're not fans of this type of planned obsolescence both in terms of the environment and our pocketbooks.)

So, we begin the experiment. When I lived alone before marriage, I happily did not have a TV. My DH, however, has always watched it a lot, although he's cut back greatly over the years. But, over those same years, I've gotten in the habit of watching while I embroider. (I like Nascar for that, with it's replays of anything interesting I may have missed while taking a stitch.) We have a huge pile of video and dvds, so we won't be without the boob-tube completely. I'm hoping this will be a good change for us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another finish

Last weekend I also finished stitching the quilt pattern designs on this cross stitch begun by my mother. More on this project here and here. I continued to rip as much as stitch to the end--I just couldn't quite picture the colors in place until I'd stitched them. I'm finally fairly happy with it. Now it's on to my sister for quilted borders. I may at some point add in name and date information or a back stitch "quilted" pattern in the blank spaces, but for now I think we need to plan a border and then decide on the rest.

I washed and pressed it--and pressed it and pressed it. I can't get the fold lines out. I'd welcome any suggestions or ideas for removing those lines.

This weekend was chilly and gray. We drove out to Lubeznik in Michigan City to see the exhibit of South Shore posters and Interurbans. They also have a very nice exhibit of handmade furniture.

As usual, we stopped at the dunes to picnic. We found some beach glass (Mermaid's Tears) on our walk. The top piece is thick--it's coke-bottle green. Steve actually spotted most of them. I was having a hard time getting my eyes to focus.

We also swung by East Chicago, Indiana to look at the Century Plant. I was supposed to bloom in April and for weeks we drove by to check on it each week. Well, it did finally bloom--while I was on vacation! I didn't get a photo (it was rainy so I hadn't brought the camera with on Saturday), but plan to do so. It shot up several more feet and has large shoots coming off the top. It's also starting to die back. My understanding is that after it blooms, the plant dies. I'm sad we missed seeing it bloom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's finished!

This past weekend I finished my Hardanger piece. Designed by Jamee Jecmen, this piece is the project, Web in an Autumn Garden, to be taught this fall when Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana hosts Indiana State Day on Saturday, October 17, 2009.

It took me longer than it should have. Partly because I hated the Watercolors thread I picked once I got well underway. I liked it in the skein but once I got going on the sides (which meant the front was mostly done), I decided I hated it. Now that it's all done, I'm happier with it. But I also have decided that I need to be more careful and maybe do a test line of satin or buttonhole stitch before diving into future projects.

The top photo is the completed piece before cutting it out to finish. The next photo is the front of the completed amulet bag and the last photo is the back.

It was really interesting to stitch--Jamee is really inventive and creative and there are lots of fun stitches and details.

Friday, June 5, 2009

catching up

I spent much of last weekend outside. We've been cool and wet here and while I had the chance, I got some garden plants in. We had a mostly nice weekend. On Saturday we bought plants, always a fun excursion, and dirt and on Sunday I got busy and planted them.

We buy our plants at a local place, Field of Flowers (Joe Orr Road in Chicago Heights) and enjoy seeing their changes and additions each year. They do wonderful hanging basket and planters. I wish we had a place for a hanging basket, but I've never figured one out. (We have a very shaded house and yard, good for the electric bill, bad for pretty flowers.)

Most of our garden is perennials, I got a few photos this weekend of the roses and peonies. We also have lilies of the valley going strong and violets, the phlox, day- and tiger-lilies are on their way, the passion flower vines are poking up...

I have some huge pots around the yard and I planted some flowers in front (the same as last year, I still can't remember their name), dill, rosemary, parsley, and thyme in the back yard and cherry tomatoes in the new pot.

I did some stitching. I mostly worked on the Hardanger State Day project, hours spent, little to show for it, so I took time out to stitch Susan Johnson's new beaded design--a pretty and quick project. Here's the booklet with my stitched heart below. It was a fun project to do. (I kind of felt bad, but I walked into her studio and said "I WANT IT!" and then made her kit it up for me. I don't think I'm usually quite that pushy.) The kit is available to order from her website.

I stitched it on perforated paper like the model. I haven't worked on perforated paper for a long time and I enjoyed it. I've been contemplating finishing possibilities. Of course, I've thought of stitching it to a slightly larger wool felt heart, perhaps pink, and making a pin. Or backing it and making it a scissors fob. Or adding it to a collage of some sort. The design is charming and I can see it added easily to a lot of projects.

I need to get some more beads from Susan and then stitch a few more hearts on canvas or linen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Just for fun, I did a Wordle of my blog. I input my url and this is what popped up. It looks like it's taken from the most recent posts. I like the way Thread pops out.

sign of the times

When I returned from vacation last week, this sign had been added next to my door plate. I was totally blown away!

We were renovated, redesigned and got new furniture a couple of years ago, but when I started I had this old wooden desk in the office and, of course, I wondered...

It seems to be that we're not 100% sure this is the place, or that my old desk was the desk. He was a visitor then and visitors get moved around and their rooms aren't always listed in the directory. My office is a "visitor" office (as opposed to a larger "faculty" office). And it's the most likely candidate, but more research is being done to hopefully find that elusive proof. And we had a storeroom at the time, with desks, tables, cabinets, etc., that would get swapped around and used as needed. (When we renovated, the old furniture was sold or recycled. I saved the pencil drawer from that desk, thinking to use it as a collage frame--it's still sitting here, under my spiffy new desk.)

My office got the sign only because 514, the other office mentioned, is now a student conference room and no longer an office. Still and all, I'm impressed and a bit awed.

Wooly Thread

The Wooly Thread is one of my favorite online shops and they're having a fantastic sale on A-Z books going on right now... Check it out here: Wooly Thread Blog. NAYY, just a happy customer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Woo-hoo! I won!!

Well, I've been sitting on this for a couple of weeks now, ready to burst. I was on vacation when I read the post on Small Works in Wool, telling me I'd won the stash enhancement draw. Bob Barker hosted--I was most honored! (Her blog is a real treat and her sense of humor often has me bouncing with laughter. I love the vintage magazine images.)

Susan M. Hinckley is a wonderful artist, mostly in wool right now, and her birthday was in May. All month long she celebrated, with several amazing giveaways! I love this idea and may steal it for my birthday celebration this summer.
My goodies arrived on Monday. I am totally blown away by the fun things in the package. Oh, the possibilities! My mind's just percolating away. The photo at the top is the whole pile.

Here are some details. First, the felt: A giant piece of multicolored, inlaid felt and some great solids (take a peek at the little South American dolls on the blue felt. Plus some cool felt ovals. I love working with felt so this is really exciting. The lilac is a lovely wool fabric.

Next is paper--Look at that "m"! It's just awesome, as is the "makes" word card. I love vintage cards (I've been using scans of some that were sent by my grandparents in the 20s for holiday cards for several years now). And very cool papers. What if I backed them with muslin and stitched them? collage? scan and make up greeting cards from them? collage? Use them as a frame or backing for a stitched piece? from the felt?

The final photo shows the threads and odds and ends. The buttons are vintage mother of pearl. The vintage red box is full of beads! I love the stamens. I just got some wide black ribbon--what if I made flowers with the turquoise stamens? The colors are so cool.

Look at that card of gray thread toward the middle. Plain gray. That is a fantastic thread. Put it against anything in this package (probably, anything, anywhere) and it subtly morphs to enhance what it's up against. I'm sure this thread will be used to it's very last inch. And who'd 'a thunk it--plain gray?

Well, I feel like it was my birthday. I'm havin' so much fun! (at home at least, work is still deep in paperwork frenzy) Thank you, Susan! You rock.

new giveaway

While I was visiting her on vacation, Susan Johnson of SJ Designs offered to provide a treat for this month's giveaway.

Gala is her new thread and she has offered to send THREE WINNERS! a twist of Gold and of Silver. I'm sure she'll also be happy to include her latest newsletter.

These luxurious metallic threads are structured like Jap gold but are a little shinier and thicker. I think they'd be perfect for longer stitches on canvas (not tent stitch). I plan to use mine to outline a crewel design (that I have yet to stitch), using outline stitches.

Please leave your name and contact information in a comment on this post by Monday June 29. I'll generate THREE random numbers then to pick the winners.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm late, I'm late...

Apologies... Things are nuts and I'm way behind with everything. Random.org selected #1 this time for the May giveaway. Karol is the Winner! I'll mail it off to you, Karol, as soon as I get a chance.
I have a cool giveaway planned for June; I'll get it up as soon as I can. I have loads to say and share and not a minute to spare...soon....