Monday, August 31, 2009

Giveaway #4 winner

Today's number was #5 (thanks, Colleen is the winner. Please send me your snail mail address and I'll get your goodies off to you upon my return from vacation.

Dolly has decided to come with us on vacation. She's quite excited. We'll share photos of her adventures upon our return.

Friday, August 28, 2009

curlicue plant and vacation

The school added new large concrete planters around the building last year. I've shown the lantana in the one by my parking space. These two planters are on the other side of the building, by the main entry doors. I have no idea what these spiral plants are but I've watched them grow with fascination all summer. I finally got my act together to get their picture to share. Aren't they cool?The leaves form the most fascinating spirals and the rose-colored edges add just the perfect touch. I'm seeing designs and color schemes both here. I've not seen this plant among those mentioned in spiral/Fibonacci articles (nautilus shells and sunflower seed patterns are the main examples used), but this seems a good example to me.
As I framed this one in the camera, I saw OWL!

I am going on vacation (woo-hoo!). It's finally planned; we'll be heading north. I'll be here Monday for the draw but the package most likely won't be mailed until my return. I do not expect to have Internet while gone. I'll haul the beast along, just in case, but I don't expect to post again until after the 15th. I'm already in withdrawal!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Long and Short

I'm all caught up with the silk shading and actually ironed it so you could see it. The top squares look skewed. Partly it's the angle of the photo, partly the optical illusion of the shading, but mostly, well, they are. They ironed flat. The drawing was square. I believe it was just the tension of the stitches on the fairly thin fabric. I rather like it, it looks more dimensional, but it wasn't intended.

The other sections went better. I found I liked working with the blues more than with the reds, which surprised me. It was a strong preference.

I'm really enjoying this and look forward to the next step. You can find this project here if you wish to follow along.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank you!

Pat at Gatherings sent me a lovely gift. Actually, it's three gifts! I'm thrilled and awed. A lovely leaf needle rest (with a magnet to keep my needle from running off), a charming beaded (so it won't get lost ever!) needle threader, and one of her amazing nests. It has pale blue pearl "eggs" and a love tag. I'm wearing my "love nest" today (showing it off to everyone I meet!). Look how sweetly they're packaged, too. Certainly made my week! Thanks a bunch, Pat!

The lantana plants by my office are now sporting some really lovely purplish berries. The perfect color with the bright red/orange/golden flowers. I'm really enjoying them.

I had lunch today with a couple of friends, one visiting from France (she actually says oh, la la regularly!). Some days are just pure bliss!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Hmmm, well. It's not the expected red Rav4 for sure. It became increasingly clear that the local Toyota dealership (Highland, IN) was not going to come up with the car we had ordered. The (very nice and very good) salesman kept calling us to try and convince us we really wanted another model, another color, another package. Finally, last week we confronted them and the deal was off.

Car buying isn't easy for us in the first place and this was not happy making. My guy's a car guy and gets very attached. So, we decided to keep our clunker (he loved that thing).

But he's a car guy, so he's always looking (new, old, doesn't matter really). He found 0-down, 0% on Chevy Malibu (if you cut him, he'll bleed Chevy bow-ties) (it's their logo) so we went and looked. My bum leg didn't like it. But, being who we are, we had to sit in every single car in the showroom (except for Corvettes---just not our taste).

And we liked this chocolate brown Impala. And it also had 0-0%. And it qualified for the Cash for Clunkers program. Soooo, we have a new brown Impala. (It's actually Mocha Bronze Metallic, I believe. I suspect it will be called Cocoa since neither of us drink coffee in any form but I am totally addicted to chocolate.) The car has loads of "stuff," most of which we're not interested in (leather seats, on-star, cd player, satellite radio) and some we are: fold down rear seat, Bose stereo. It's pretty cool.

No embroidery in it at all. I think I was a bit burnt out after the intensity of the Japanese Embroidery class last week, so I didn't mind at all. Although the steering wheel is black and I've been thinking about making a cover for it, perhaps with a monogram initial, so we can keep it from getting too hot when sitting in the sun.

To round out the car-oriented weekend, we spent Sunday at the annual Orphan Auto Picnic. It was a gorgeous day. Sunny and not too hot. The site had loads of shady trees. I spent much of my time sitting in the shade with my knitting, chatting with my sister. Bliss! I love the rounded swoopy curves of many older cars and this show always gets great cars. Larry goes around with a portable microphone and chats with the owners about them and it's usually pretty interesting.

When I did stroll around, I took a bunch of photos. Last year I focused on photos of hubcaps. This year I went mostly with hood ornaments. They used to have such lovely and interesting ones. It made me realize that I haven't worked in my design journal for ages. (Last year I did the hubcap photos as part of Sharon B's Studio Journals class.) The curvy lines and shiny surfaces made me think of the silk shading I've been working on.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Giveaway #3 winner...

Is #3 (thanks to's the winner. Cindy--please send me your snail mail address.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I'm sorry I didn't have one of these for everyone!

Giveaway #4 is random stitching--check it out here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

August Birthday Month Giveaway #4

This one is a little more embroidery oriented, for someone who wants to try out some new things, perhaps. It's a goodie bag with five varied projects and a book. The first is a ornament kit, complete with frame, fabric and floss. The design is an ANG chart but you can do anything you want, really.The next item is a set of cardboard forms in teapot shapes. You can do any type of embroidery on your fabric and then mount it onto the cardboard form. I'd suggest lighter weight fabrics (not canvas). I've used the forms with light-weight wool and wool and ribbon embroidery. The forms can also be traced onto your fabric as shapes for designing (redwork tea towels).Next is a complete vintage Crewel embroidery kit. The flowers are pretty, the colors very 70s. The ground fabric is very nice and the design clearly printed on it. The instructions are pretty good but I'd probably want to have a stitch book handy, too.Another vintage item here, some lovely linen napkins ready to embroider and hem. One or two are done, with lovely little sprays of flowers, but most are not. One is stained (on top) with an unremovable (so far) blue smear. The linen is nice. I'd say from the 1920s. Practice a little embroidery and a lot of hemstitching. The embroidery looks like it's done with a fine perle cotton (perle 12) in a color to match the linen. The thread is not included.Last, a complete kit for a beginning Battenburg lace project. The plastic covered red fabric is the support for working the lace heart. I've made a bunch of these and they're fun. I've applied them to t-shirts and to other, larger projects and just hung them as ornaments (no backing needed, although some starch helps them stay stiff). Everything is included to complete the project.The book is a wonderful 1970s or early 80s book on smocking. It's a duplicate of one I have. The book provides a history of traditional smocks, explains how to do smocking (the key is to keep your needle perpendicular to the pleats--then it's a piece of cake), then it goes on to show some really lovely and exciting contemporary design ideas for how to use smocking in today's clothing and textiles.

Smocking is basically pleating to hold fullness and shape fabric. You embroider over the pleats and the result is elastic. So it's great for sleeves, cuffs, bodices and children's clothing (put in deep hems to you can let them out as the child grows--the smocking will adjust the width). If you stabilize or line it, it's decorative and textural without the elasticity.Please make a comment on this post before Monday, August 31, to be included in the drawing for this collection of goodies. Please include a way to contact you.

If you like some of the goodies but know there is something you absolutely will not do, note it in your comment. Perhaps someone else will speak up to claim that item. If you win, then it'll all work out! It you want it all, that's great!

I may not be able to draw the winner or get back to you right away, but I will do it as soon as I have computer access next week. We still keep trying to get away on vacation and I'm still not sure when we might leave, but it looks more likely that by the 31st we'll be on our way and Internet access will be sporadic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A tale of three embroideries

Last week when I dug out my Japanese embroidery piece for this week's class, I found two other pieces. The above is the Japanese silk piece I began seven years ago. I left this class drained of any confidence or sense of skill. It took a long time for me to come back to it. (it's a paper wrapper around the stems of a bouquet)

In 1-1/2 days of class so far this week, I've reoriented myself to the piece and the techniques. I stitched five small leaves (4-1/2 really, the instructor stitched the first half of one), finished the iris petal that's started, and stitched some teeny grass heads. Slow going and intense but very enjoyable and so very beautiful. (I keep reminding myself of the galloping horse rule--if you can't see the mistake while riding by on a galloping horse, then it isn't a problem.) Karen Plater is a wonderful instructor, very positive and kind. And inspiring.

Each day begins with a morning talk. The comment that sticks with me from today is that you need to slow your head to the speed of your hands. Wise advice!

In the same suitcase, I found two other mounted pieces that I'd begun. This one was designed by Shay Pendray. She is a wonderful teacher and this class really helped restore my stitching confidence. I really enjoyed being in this class (Needle Artisans workshop in 2003 or 4). This is also Japanese embroidery. I'd always admired the technique used in the leaf, called fuzzy technique.

But, I was never thrilled with the grape design and I felt the drawing was clumsy. I've learned that if I don't get the drawing right initially, the piece will never be right. It's really difficult to get elegant curves on this ridged fabric--I probably should have couched the pattern lines. Plus, you can see the damage wrought by six years left strung tight on the frame (my bad). The silk ground was ripping and there wasn't much extra space to allow for repair. So, I've decided to chalk this one up to lessons learned and not finish it.The last piece in the suitcase was this needlepoint, from 2003 or 4. It was designed and taught by Judy Souliotis. I will finish this. In a way it's a no brainer--none of the techniques are new to me or very difficult (except laying and couching the gold and much of that is already done). The gold "water" and shading on the fan were applied by Judy before the class, using techniques she learned in Japan. I remounted it (the canvas was very loose) and have already stitched a second camellia. The only challenge, really, is working on black canvas. (18 count) It uses Needlepoint Inc silks and Kreinik metallics--almost every leaf and petal incorporates some metallic thread.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gatherings Giveaway

Pat over on Gatherings is hosting a lovely giveaway. Check it out and learn how to enter here. (there are more pictures of this lovely piece there.) Not to be missed!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week 2 winner picked #5 on this rainy Monday morning--Kathy is the lucky winner of the rust dyed fabric.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Progress made

I completed the tin-top teaching piece for Indiana State Day. I want to do another now. This was fun.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Birthday Goodness

My friend Myrna is a knitter. Saying that seems like a real understatement. Myrna knits like she breathes. For me, knitting a washcloth is a major undertaking (I may show a lot of things here, but you'll notice they're all quite small).

She had told me she was sending a birthday gift for me. I was pretty overwhelmed when I pulled the above basket out of the mailing box. A treasure trove of soft goodness for the bath.
Each one is a different pattern.

The colors are vibrant and fun. (They'll fit right into our hot-pink and white bathroom!)

And just so hubby wouldn't feel left out, a cuddly hat for him. He's always chilled come winter and this will keep him nicely snug.Thanks bunches, Myrn!

This was in the post when I typed it, but disappeared upon publication. Hmmm... Lula sent me this perfect book. I really love dictionaries, encyclopedias and can spend hours browsing them. This is a dictionary, but of all needlework, fabric and sewing related terms. How cool is that?

It's not a definitive stitch book, but certainly enough to jog my memory regarding stitches I don't do very often. And it's small size, makes it easy to keep handy in my stitching supplies. Thanks, Lula!

Friday, August 14, 2009

August Birthday Giveaway Post #3

Feed My Soul Stitches
This giveaway is the pattern by The Cat's Whiskers and partial kit for a charming sewing case--it will hold your scissors, pins and needles. Included are three skeins of overdyed threads and the gray linen called for in the pattern. I think some gray fabric, cardboard, quilt batting and perhaps beads and DMC floss are also required--they are not included. (sorry, the linen matches the fabric I used as a backdrop so it's hard to see.)
This giveaway will end Sunday August 23. Please leave a comment on this post if you would like to be entered. Anyone, anywhere may enter as long as I can reach you if you win.
I use to select the winners for my giveaways. Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I am still stitching...

I've been neglecting this a bit in my scribbles here, but it's always ongoing.

In spite of saying I would stick to UFOs, I began a new project. Mary Corbett on Needle'nThread is teaching a long and short stitch sampler and I'm participating. Here's my start. I had the first bit, that red box, pretty much done but I didn't like it so I started over. My top edge still isn't straight and the first row is a little short, but I'm going to keep going now and not be so picky. The point is to learn this technique not make my first stitches perfect. Now, by the end, I expect they will be perfect! (yeah, right.)
This is the entrelac bag that will be felted. I showed the pattern when I started it a few weeks ago but it was a little tangle on the needles for the first couple of rows and would not pose for a photograph. Row 3 is nearly done and the blue will be row4. It's now at the stage where it can be waiting room knitting. I think I'd like to do this pattern in Noro.

This Hardanger project will fit into the boxes we used for Camp Quality. It is part of the Needle Artisans of Northwest Indiana (EGA) Indiana State Day project for October. While the amulet bag is the actual State Day design, it is too much to stitch in a one-day class, so this is the companion teaching piece that we will be teaching on State Day. Both projects were designed by Jamee Jecmen.
It's nearly done, I just need to do the Hardanger bit in the middle. I used Watercolors and various perle cottons for it. I aimed for Autumn colors this time (the piece is called Web in an Autumn Garden). This worked up quickly and will be great for class. It would have gone much easier if I'd used Waterlilies rather than the thicker Watercolors. (both threads by the Caron collection) I may do a second one.
I also dug out my Japanese Embroidery piece and found two more UFOs in the same case. (it seems to never end!) In 2002, I think, I went to the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta and took a week's class in phase 1. I felt a total disaster, clumsy and awful, and I came home and put the piece away and haven't touched it since.
In the meantime, I found I was using various things I learned while in the class in my other stitching. Both UFOs that I put with the traditional piece use some Japanese techniques and designs. One is on canvas. They're all together because the materials are similar and I used some of the same tools.
I'm planning on picking up and working on the traditional piece next week at the classes I've posted about over the last few weeks. I'm a little anxious about it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Camp Quality

As usual, visiting Camp Quality on Friday morning to teach was great fun. A huge bonus for me was that the project was popular. That always makes me very happy. Here we are at the end of our class. Here's the table before everyone arrived. We let campers choose their own design, thread pack and box. We had models available for inspiration.
We compete with helicopter rides, card and boards games, swimming, and other crafts, so we never know how many children will join us to stitch. Our sign in sheet had over a dozen campers and companions who did the project. Some come to stitch and don't stay long, some come back later, and some come to stay and stitch. This year's project was a hit with male campers, too, and we had several who stitched designs, including a really creative companion.
We ended up with a good crew from Needle Artisans--we had seven teachers and we were all busy. The smiles tell it all....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birthday Weekend

This weekend was hot but we had fun. We focused on sculpture. On Friday night we went to a "collaborative art event" at Tall Grass Gallery and Governor's State University. There was a quick gallery tour at Tall Grass--they have a new sculpture exhibit "With These Hands." There are some really interesting pieces in the exhibit.

Then we were bussed over to GSU for a tour of the Manilow Sculpture Garden that didn't happen (impending rain, that also didn't happen, changed the plan). Instead we saw a slide show of a long-term exhibit in the part of Horizons by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir.

The sculpture is figural and very interesting and the slide show included slides of the pieces from several installations as the exhibit has traveled around the U.S. so we got to see different perspectives. It will be at the Manilow park through next summer. We could see the figures standing across a small lake from the building we were in. It was kind of eerie in the sunset.

We also got an overview of the sculpture park and then a talk on some Oceanic ethnographic objects currently on display at the University. They included two carved posts and other objects from one men's house.

On Sunday we finally got out to the Illinois State Museum gallery in Lockport, IL to see a retrospective exhibit of the work of L. Brent Kington. He worked in both fine, miniature cast silver and larger, elegant iron and steel sculptures. While his silver work is rather baroque, his work as a blacksmith is minimalistic and sinuous--not something I'd associate with the material.

We could identify many influences from history, literature, art and different cultures in his work. He could take three long pieces of metal and shape them very simply, yet they told an entire story...I found it really inspiring and it reminded me how important it is to get out and see all sorts of art and experience every culture.

This exhibit runs through September 25. (Lockport also has a great quilt shop, Thimbles, just up the street from the Gallery.)

Oh, and we bought a car Saturday. We pretty much finalized the purchase of a new red Toyota Rav4 with the government stimulus money. Our "klunker" is a 1990s Chevy Suburban and the gas mileage was pretty bad so we will get the full stimulus amount. Paperwork is being processed and the car due in the next delivery. (oh, and, no, contrary to what the news media keeps reporting: we weren't planning on trading the Suburban in soon anyway--we would have driven it until the wheels fell off. And, yes, the only reason we decided we could do this now was the boost from the stimulus money.) The car's on order--I'll post a photo when it arrives.

Work has been flat-out crazy-busy, not what one usually expects from summer in an academic environment, but there it is. My birthday was no exception. Lots of fun things happened, though. A high-school friend found me on Facebook, a niece noticed it was my birthday and sent greetings, I got some lovely e-cards and e-mails from friends.

At home hubby had lovely plans. A nice dinner with a big piece of cake for me, a sparkly card with and I.O.U. to go see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and a big bar of luxury chocolate. He even picked out a movie he knew I wanted to see: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I think he thought he'd hate it (chic flick), but instead he laughed and enjoyed it as much as I did.

World Embroideries dropped by with a lovely gift--one of her amazing temari balls--I am thrilled and honored. The two sides are different and I spent a lot of time just looking at it last night.

And the winners are...

drummroll please... #1 Jane and #16 Colleen.
I will send Jane the velvet and Colleen the moire purselets.
Congratulations ladies and thank you very much to everyone who commented.
Giveaway #2 is up now and I plan to post #3 this coming weekend.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finished projects

I can't take any credit for this first project--it's my sister's. Mom stitched the center bit years ago. She had it on an apron (as the bib part). We decided none of us would wear it as an apron, so here it is in a wall quilt. Once it's backed, it will go on my sister's dining room wall. This was a round robin border project with her quilt group, so different people designed and stitched each border. I think it came out great.
My finish is much smaller, but hard fought. It's a good thing this yarn (Knit Picks Shine Sport) takes ripping out well. Once I began paying attention, and putting in life-lines, the knitting went much better. And as I learned the pattern, I began to be able to correct mistakes when I spotted them in the previous row.
This is Knit Picks Generations Purse Pattern (a free pattern). It's a little large for the sachet I'd planned. I'm debating about lining it and still need to find ribbons for the top closure. But it's knit, washed, blocked and stitched together.
I'd planned to make several and have the yarn but I don't think the women I give gifts to would use it as a purse. It would be a good wedding purse, but there aren't any of those in the offing (that I'm aware of). So I need to make smaller sachets or something else.
Today is Camp Quality day--I'm off work to go to camp and then to just have the day off. (We teach in the morning.)
Small Works in Wool turned me on to the Pixmaven website. It develops properly high-falutin' art critiques for when you need them. I love it. You put in a five digit number and your statement comes out, ready for you to use when you need to sound pompous and obscure.

My zip code (this fits me well, I often begin with Ummms). "Umm... the internal dynamic of the fracture endangers the devious simplicity of the substructure of critical thinking."

My work website--strangely appropriate as we have a Middle Eastern museum here with an incredible collection (The Oriental Institute). "Umm... the internal dynamic of the Egyptian motifs endangers the devious simplicity of the larger carcass."

A friend's zip code: "With regard to the issue of content, the disjunctive perturbation of the purity of line endangers the devious simplicity of the inherent overspecificity."

And, last, my birthday without zeros: "It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the sublime beauty of the sexual signifier threatens to penetrate the distinctive formal juxtapositions." Say, what?
Do you think they have one of these obscure phrase generators that government officials use when writing press releases?
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rust Dyed Fabric

Last week I finally unrolled and peeled the rusting fabric from the rusty metal pie tins and muffin pans and unrolled the steel wool and fabric copper wire wrapped roll. I rinsed it, scrubbed it with a scrub brush, washed it with Paverpol, dried it and pressed it.
It's really cool.
All in all, it sat outside for about 16 days. I had a glitch that prevented me from getting to it over the weekend as planned, so I did it one evening, in the pouring rain. Since it's a wet process, it was fine. I got soaked to the skin, something I haven't done for years. It was rather fun.These are post-ironing detail pix. I took some quick pre-ironing photos of the entire fabric pieces that are up on my Flickr page. I only made one shot of each. Both sides of the fabric are interesting and quite different. I really enjoyed ironing them--I made sure to do both sides and to really spend time looking at them.This one, above, was the copper-wire wrapped one. It had some striking green and blue areas before washing. They're gone now. A few small turquoise streaks remain. It also has some holes from deterioration from the metals. I found a fairie, an owl, and an angel in the marbling--it's like looking at clouds.Right now I'm still in the "precious" stage, where I'm too enamored of the fabric to think about cutting it up and actually using it. I'm trying to get past that and try to envision it pieced or patched. I tell myself I still have those tins and can make more if I want. It's fun to do.
Then I saw this bit and thought sunflower. The waffle pattern of the tin in the center reminded me of seeds and the flairs around it of the petals. There's an arc in the upper left that could be the corner of the sun and other less delineated flower shapes. So I made myself cut this piece for a small quilted hanging and I am thinking about the best way to enhance the sunflower image. Any suggestions?

Second August Giveaway

This giveaway will run a week, until 9am (central time) Friday, August 14. This is only ONE giveaway. The two images are of the two sides of one piece of rust dyed fabric. As you can see, they are very different. The piece is about fat quarter size, 23" x 20".

If you would like this piece of fabric, please leave a comment on this post, including a way to get in touch with you. Good luck!