Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finished and WIP

As you may have been able to tell from my previous post, it's been rainy here. Today the sun is peeping out for the first time in about a week. I've been whinging--I had to wear shoes. And a jacket. Summer is definitely over but the pretty hasn't begun yet--we haven't yet had a frost to turn the leaves. I can feel it coming, though. Brrrrr!Here's yet another picture of the entrelac purse. This time it's completely done, with the hex-frame spring clasp installed and the handle sewn on. (the frame is open in the photo) I'm still knitting away on the next one. Between rainstorms this weekend we went out to the Indiana Dunes and plopped ourselves down on a bench overlooking the lake. The clouds were scudding across the sky and the water changed color every few minutes. We sat and I knit and knit and it was just lovely.I began this cutwork snowman while on vacation. I showed it ready to finish a couple of posts back. Here it is all done.I found this Lorrie Birmingham kit last week in Designer Desk's bargain basement. In spite of the fact that I have more projects underway that I'll ever be able to do, I bought it. And in spite of the fact I have other things I need to be working on, like next week's bracelet class, I began working on this project. It's almost done. Just the small flower petals to stitch, then assembly. I've begun that, cutting the cardboard, getting out ribbon for hinges, etc. Sometime a project just takes over like a storm! This was one of those.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life is not about waiting for the storms to's about learning how to dance in the rain.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I am sooo excited!

Not only do I have my very own copy of Diana Gabaldon's long awaited newest book, I have a ticket. Yep, I'm #155 for next week's reading/book signing organized by Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL. (A place well worth visiting, and supporting as one of very few remaining vibrant independent bookshops around any more.)

It's the last thing I did on my way home from my day out with my sister on Thursday (thanks to my BIL for great directions from their house to Naperville). The event will be at North Central College and I expect I'll be driving frantically in rush hour traffic next Wednesday to get there, my book in hand. I expect Diana's hand will be cramping by the time my number is up, but hopefully she'll persevere. This is gonna be fun! I'm definitely doing a happy dance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Play Day

I know, I know, I just was on vacation. But we'd planned this play day a while back and so I drove up to my sister's yesterday for a fun day. As usual, we combined errands with the fun. On my way north, I got my suitcase zipper fixed--while I waited and for less than I'd expected! The Corner Cobbler was a bit of a trip, but they're one of very few authorized Samsonite repair experts. The Corner Cobbler 404 W. Railroad Kingston, IL 60145 Tel: (815) 784-4452 Fax: (815) 784-4453. They do all sorts of leather and shoe repair work, too.

Once at my sister's, we discussed recent projects and WIPs and our plan (what things we wanted to to balanced by things that needed to get done) and then set out. Before the day was done, we'd been to dozens of places. Some of them just for fun.

The weather was weird. It was overcast and humid. In the car with the windows down it was very chilly, but with them up stifling. Some shops were steam baths, others freezing. But a little thing like weather won't put us off shopping and having fun.

We went to a new place (to me, at least) in Geneva called Nosh. They don't have a website but it's a great place for lunch. They also serve breakfast all day. On Metromix I learned they also serve dinner some nights. I had a trio of crabcakes and my sister had a chicken salad wrap (or perhaps it was a was flat). Yummy! And, best of all, Nosh is right across the street from Designer's Desk. Well, of course we had to go in and, of course, we found some great bargains. (I got a half-price Lorrie Birmingham kit for a counted and stumpwork lid for a small basket and some threads--you can't not buy threads at Designer's Desk. There are just so many they jump at you. really.

At Designer's Desk we saw a shawl pin, nice but not quite what we wanted, but that reminded us it was on our list of things we were looking for (do you have one of those, just kind of a running list of things you'd like and you kind of scout for them whenever you're in a place that might have them?). So we walked around the corner and went over to Wool and Company. Wow!

I'd seen their ads and checked out the blog but that didn't prepare me for this lovely large store. And my sister found her shawl pin there. I found a few little pewter charms with words (joy, love, hope, and made with love).
We stashed our stash in the car and headed over to Fine Line Creative Art Center (above, on our gloomy day). I have a long-standing relationship with the place that is mostly in my head. I visited there at a trying time in my life and found a wonderful sense of peace. Since then I've watched their progress from afar, as they moved from a wondrous idea to a full-fledged center for the arts. They now have two lovely galleries, the classes offered are enticing, and their store is large and full of great stuff.

I remember many early classes focusing on art as healing and art for insight. They'd have pajama-party style retreats, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor, providing time and peace to focus inward. They've broadened their scope and where I remember a few looms is now a large room full of a variety of looms and related tools. There's a patio full of raku kilns, large airy classrooms for painting, glass, fiber arts of all types, calligraphy, book and paper making, you name it. If you're in the area it's definitely worth checking out. As I've told myself many times over the years, I need to also translate my mental relationship with this place into a more real one--and actually take a class. (I've tried a few times (it's about a two-hour trip for me so scheduling's hard) and either the class has been full already, the date changed and I couldn't make the alternate date, or not enough people signed up and the class was canceled--so it kind of seemed fated that it would just remain this haven in my mind.)

The sun has already changed and I don't have light for morning photos any more--I need to switch back to taking lots of pix on the weekends. But, then, I've been out every night this week, so I haven't done much stitching. The cutwork ornament is assembled and trimmed. I'll take a photo this weekend. I've knit a few entrelac squares and made and ripped a lucet cord a few times (I go along fine and then I get a lump I don't like so I rip it out and start's good practice).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank you #2

Some things are worth waiting for.
Last week I received a birthday package. It had been shipped in plenty of time, except the post office seemed to have rowed it across the ocean by hand. No problem. This is the best! The first item was actually the last item unearthed from from the overflowing box. It was wrapped in the gorgeous glitter paper behind it.

This is a really good kit. I'd have expected it from the Embroiderer's Guild, but I'm never sure until I see for myself. Very complete. Great instructions. Lovely fabric. The design is clearly printed onto the fabric (for the front, the back and for the dimensional petals). It's so complete, it even has the card for the finishing. Right now I'm savoring it--I'm sure I'll be stitching soon. It's part of a series of needlework accessories.
This was sent as a mystery item. It's a lucet. I have a lucet--here are the instructions I used to first learn to use it (and it shows the style of my wooden lucet that is buried somewhere in the piles). Here's a video on how to use one. (Lucet on You-Tube--what a combination! ancient and modern). Luceting is easy and fun.
Lucets are a very old tool (Viking era) used to create cords. It makes a squarish cord that doesn't easily come loose from bows and knots. This lucet is extra cool. It comes with bobbins and a book on advanced lucet techniques. (I am such a geek! I love this stuff.) I began making a plain cord with the threads in the kit, just to get back into practice. This lucet feels good in my hand (you keep turning it in your hand so the right size and smoothness are important) and I love the amber plastic. To me, it looks a lot older than the 1998 date in the booklet, perhaps it's the amber color, but it's quite modern and here's the website for the Lucet Co. to prove it!
The advanced technique uses the bobbins to hold the threads as you create a cord that has splits in it--open loops that can be used for buttons, toggles or for other cords to pass through. I haven't tried that technique yet, but it looks like fun.
But wait--there's more! The package also included these two generous hanks of very nice lace. After I took the picture, I unrolled the lace to find a charming Easter card inside one roll and a ragged but lovely postcard of a bobbin lace maker in the other. Most appropriate.This is a hunk of fleece (perfect for needlefelting) and a ball of lovely two-ply handspun wool. The note said it was from Jacob sheep at the Welsh border. It's lovely wool with a great deal of color variation. You can see why from the pictures of the sheep!

Last, I forgot to take a photo of the lovely jar of honey-colored rosemary jelly that was safely ensconced in the middle of the package. I haven't opened it yet. Thank you very much!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thank you #1

Isn't this cool. It's actually a pin! ChrisT made dozens of these for the members of the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild for favors for our September dinner party. She made all of the very different and colorful pins and then potted them for us! It made for a really lovely table. Thanks!

Back to Reality, more or less

I've been diligently working. This weekend I felted things. First I prefelted my entrelac bag and then I stitched in the casing to hold the spring-frame closure--this technique worked really well and I'm glad I did it this way. Sewing the casing to the unflattened knitting would have been a nightmare. I then tossed it into the washer and drier again and it fulled up very nicely. Here it is, still damp, with the twisted and felted handle. Once it's dry I'll assemble it.Then I felted two wool sweaters, kindly given to me by Myrna in Wisconsin. I'd mentioned I thought I'd check the resale shops up there for wool (since there doesn't seem to be any down this way). She had found these at similar shops and gotten them to unravel and reuse the wool (she's much more dedicated that I am!). Instead she gave them to me to play with.I threw all the wool into the washer and washed it on hot--I'd never felted in the washer before and it worked okay. This sweater gave off a lot of fuzz (which I dutifully saved for needle felting!). I should have put something on the sweaters for scale--but they went from women's size to small child size. Each felted differently--in the top sweater the beige wool didn't felt too much, but the colored did. In the bottom sweater, the beige fulled tightly but the blue in the collar and cuffs didn't and still retains some of it's stretch. I'm not sure what I plan to do with them--I just kept seeing things using fulled sweaters (the proper term) and wanted to try it. Now that I have my sweaters, the ideas have fled. I'm sure they'll return sometime.As I was packing for vacation, I ran across this ufo. I designed and stitched a bunch of these cutwork ornaments, must have been a couple of years ago because I couldn't find a previous blogpost about them. I had this one drawn onto the fabric and the thread with it. I'd just barely begun to stitch the buttons on the snowman when I stopped. Since it was small, I tucked it into my bag and actually made a lot of progress while in Wisconsin. Here it is, all stitched, with the lining, backing and cotton batting to finish.I began a new entrelac bag since we've been home. This one is smaller than the first, done with a blended yarn which may not felt as tightly. I'm using one colorway of the yarn (I forgot the ball band today, sorry) and letting the colors flow. Each "square" is 8 stitches picked up and 64 knit--takes about 15 minutes. A nice project for small corners of time.

I also picked up my black Oriental canvas design. It took me all my stitching time Saturday morning to do two leaves. Since my previous post I've also done most of one of the camellias. But, hey, progress is progress.

Friday, September 18, 2009

vacation stitching

I don't normally stitch much on vacation. I always take piles of things to do and then don't even touch them. This time, I did do some things. And now Blogger won't let me upload photos (I'll come back in and try again next week). They're on Flickr, however (along with Dolly's vacation and general vacation pix).

I finished the knitting of an entrelac bag to be felted. I also have the knitted holders for the spring closure and the strap knit. Now it needs to be felted. The instructions call for sewing the closure pieces to the bag before felting but the bag is so dimensional, I'm not sure how. So, I'm planning to partially felt both the bag and the closure holders and hope that then they will be more stable and I can sew them together and do a final felting.

While in Eau Claire, WI, we visited Yellow Dog Knitting and I got some variegated silk and wool to knit some more of these bags. I have one well underway. I love entrelac.

I also finally made Steve's heart. Back last spring when I was participating in Pat Winter's pieces of friendship puzzle pieces swap, my husband really liked one of the pieces I made and I promised him his own. Right away I set aside the matierials I'd used on the swap piece so I'd have them, a photo of the finish piece, taken before it was sent off to it's new home, and notes. It made a perfect "kit" to bring on vacation. Today is our 33d wedding anniversary!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homewood Guild Summer Challenge

I'm not back yet, I'm writing this before leaving for vacation. Monday night, the 14th, Homewood Embroiderer's Guild will have their annual dinner meeting to kick off the year. Each summer we are given a challenge to do, during the months we don't meet. This year we were given a trivet frame and the challenge was to stitch something geometric to put into the trivet.

I had loads of ideas but finally settled on an idea that had been lurking for years--to change a blackwork pattern's density to shade it from light to dark. I went to the Blackwork Archives and found a pattern I thought would work.
I added a bit more density in the center and then began deleting bits of the pattern as I moved out. I picked one way--there would have been any number of ways to do this. I tried sketching it but found it was tedious so I just made decisions as I stitched. It was really fun to see the design progress and, while I'm not usually a great fan of counted work, I couldn't put this down.
Here's my finished piece for the challenge. After I took this photo, I fitted it into the trivet (the trivet edge is two fabric threads outside of the backstitch line all around. The stains at the bottom are a clear demonstration why one should not eat chocolate while stitching, no matter how tempting. They mostly came out.One strand of black DMC floss on ancient pink 18 count Aida from my stash. (the fabric is ancient, not the color)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vacation's nearly over

We're trying to settle down and adjust to reality again. We had a wonderful trip to Wisconsin with perfect weather. A great time was had by all, including Dolly. You can see her adventures here.

I'll likely be somewhat quiet this week as I play catch up. I'll be back online on Tuesday.