Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The most fun ever!

This weekend we visited friends with young children. E is, I think 5, and K is, I think, 7. We watched acrobatics and karate practice. As usual, I had stitching with me. This time a stamped dish towel to outline stitch. E was quite intrigued. I had a baggie of felt scraps from another project in my tote and pulled them out. We decided on a butterfly. I sketched one in pen and then she picked her colors. I've noticed children prefer to have choices. I showed her how to pull strands from the cut length of floss. I doubled them over and locked them in the eye of the needle (thread the loop through the eye and then put the point of the needle through the loop and pull tight.

She couldn't unthread the needle and set off with me showing her how to do a running stitch. She finished her butterfly quickly. I was intrigued to watch her lay the colors of thread out in the order she wanted. The first time she came to the end of her shape she waited patiently for me to thread a new color in the needle. The second time, she picked her color, cut a strand of thread with me guiding her regarding the length, and then began pulling out the strands. I threaded needles and made knots in the tail after that--otherwise she was on her own.

Next she wanted a horse. Her daddy drew that. Then she noticed I wasn't doing the same stitch she was. So I taught her outline stitch and she stitched her horse. We discussed how curves came out nicer if you made smaller stitches on them and she continued to do that as she worked her way around the complex outline.

She then carefully trimmed around her treasures.

Her brother was intrigued but not at all sure about those needles that prick fingers. (He saw me prick myself.) So he dictated and I stitched. I think it's a Pokeman figure. He carefully selected the figure, drew me several sketches to base the design on, picked out thread colors. When I didn't have black, he suggested I cut very tiny pieces of black felt and sew them on with the darkest thread I had.

We then backed his figure with another fabric and stitched around, with K carefully adding a cotton ball to round the shape out. Then he cut around the shape, with mommy's help. (The photo was taken before we stitched on the back and cut the figure out.)

Boy, was it intense! Both children had much more concentration and focus than I did at their ages. All the while the adults were having good conversations, over the top of our our stitching. The fun only stopped because we had to start on our long ride home. I realized I hadn't moved for hours... youch! But it certainly was fun.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crazy Busy

Time to post is hard to find right now. I'm about up to my eyebrows in planning a conference for next weekend. It's a bigger than usual event with a few more pieces than normal.

And I've had Finished Objects to show! This weekend I got the sewing machine out and finished some things. I'm going to put them all here in one post, because I know I won't get back to the computer for a while.
This 1970s Columbia Minerva, Erica Wilson design chatelaine is brand-spanking new. I bought it at an antique shop several years ago, all in the closed package (probably what's called "mint in box" by antiquers and they'd probably be appalled that I opened and stitched it). It took me a long time to stitch. I found it a bit fiddly but fun. The duck fabric was hard to sew and my hands hurt from the finishing by the time I was done--and I did all I could on the machine. But I like it, it's so bright and colorful.
The loops at the bottom hold strands of thread or scissors. The pattern had them stitched but I sewed on large snaps.This little pin doll is another long-languishing project. It was just a pattern so it took forever to find all the bits of fabric and trim and get them all in the same place at the same time. Once I had that, it went together quickly. The design is called Lil' Butterfly by Susan McFadden (1990--I told you it sat around a long time!)I know I've shown this before, with the knitting complete. But now it's really, finally done. It has ties and a lining (red corduroy). I also have a lovely little red corduroy gift bag when I cut the original lining piece too small and didn't notice it until it was stitched, French seams and all. It will come in handy for the holidays.I found these nifty little bits at J0-Ann's. The are preprinted fabric designs but instead of buying yardage, you get a small piece (fat 1/8th?) with the two ornaments (printed front and back) or the pincushion (front, back and sides). Both came with instructions and the ornaments came with the ribbon for hanging. I added some touches of embroidery to the angel but left the others alone. The bottom of the pincushion has the blue of the angel on it. Everyone needs a holiday pincushion! I also stitched the completed pears. Here are the third sides. I began stuffing them and ran out of polyfill. The pattern suggests doll pellets to weight the pears and I think that or a large washer is a good idea, but I haven't had a chance to get out to the store. Maybe Friday.

We're off for the long holiday weekend and I can't wait. (although I know I'll be tempted to come in to work--it's just looming!) Thursday we're going to Brookfield Zoo with a friend. (it's free day, too!) We're doing the family gathering on Saturday. Sunday is a car event (a collector is hosting an "open garage"). Busy weekend.

Tuesday is my first holiday party and I need to have gifts done, wrapped and ready. Yikes!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A weekend at home at last!

Saturday's mail held a lovely surprise. We'd been out to the Indiana dunes to enjoy the rare warm and sunny day and this was in the mail box when we got home. One of Pat Winter's lovely Bliss Kits and beaded Dragonfly kits. Pat is so lovingly generous. I have just the project for these goodies, too. I found this pincushion tutorial over a year ago at Ivory Blush Roses. I love it and have collected the necessary CDs to use as the base. Now I have my central fabrics and color scheme (thank you, Pat!). I think this will make a wonderful pincushion.Can you believe it? Finally a finished project. Actually, I had two finishes last weekend but one's a Christmas gift that might be obvious if I showed it.Sunday dawned late and gray and it was chill. Indian Summer is over. We really enjoyed the sun and warmth last week and so did my herb pots. I went out Sunday and harvested sage, thyme, parsley and rosemary (shades of Simon and Garfunkel!) and the last few tomatoes. It's supposed to be chill and rainy this week. The herbs will mostly do well for a while longer but this just seemed the time to harvest.

I made up a couple of fragrant gift baggies for friends and then destemmed and froze the rest for us. This was the first time I'd grown thyme and I was quite pleased. Sometimes sage and rosemary will winter over, but mostly not. My hands smelled of thyme all evening--I really enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Blog Announcement!

World Embroideries and I have teamed up to begin a new blog for our embroidery group, the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild. Stop by and see what we've been up to. We're just getting going but have plans for more in the near future.

In addition to news items for our members (what to bring to the meeting, etc.) we also plan to announce Chicago area needlework events, show what our members have stitched, and hopefully discuss issues relevant to us and other needlework groups in this day and age (how to raise funds, how to increase community awareness and membership, how to promote needlework and share, and how to attract younger stitches).

HEG was begun thirty years ago. The group grew out of Hardanger classes at a local shop, the Scandinavian Boutique by owner Aina Momquist. She was a major influence on me and my interest if fine embroidery.

HEG is a smallish group of about thirty right now. We're not affiliated with any larger group and we follow our own muse. As member's interests have evolved, so have our meeting workshops. We tend to stick to projects that require a needle with an eye but that's been everything from needlelace to bookbinding to beading. We've also veered a bit on occasion and included knitting and other textile arts.

We meet in Hazel Crest, IL, at the Hazel Crest Community United Methodist Church, 17050 California Ave., Hazel Crest, IL 60429-1137 on the second Monday of the month at 7:15 p.m. We welcome visitors who are interested in needlework and perhaps in joining our community.
The picture above was my entry into our summer challenge--to stitch something geometric for the trivet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It's about time for another giveaway. This is a hand-painted canvas for needlepoint. The canvas is solid, the moire effect is from the camera. The designer (whose name I no longer remember) did a series of thimbles and scissors. It is exactingly painted. There are no fibers with it (I never got around to purchasing them), just the canvas. (I should have measured the thimble for scale but it's 18 count canvas and I'd say the thimble is perhaps 3" high.

I'll send it anywhere. To win, just leave a comment for this post. Please be sure to include a way for me to contact you in case you are the winner. Thanks!

If you have trouble with the security on comments, please look at my profile and send me an e-mail. This giveaway will end on Monday, November 30 at 9am central U.S. time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last Thursday's day out was primarily about clearing things up and finishing old projects but...we did go shopping. I bought the Japanese Quilting Magazine (above) in the spring and keep thumbing through it. I just love the designs in it. I'd settled on the purse design below.This is the project I want to make. I decided that while I like it a lot. what I liked most was the textures and not so much the beige color scheme. So while we were at Tammy Tadd's on Thursday, I looked for texture first and then color. All of the little dots around the motifs are French knots, for even more texture.

This is what I came up with. It's much brighter in the photo than it seemed to me in the store. Hmmm. The larger piece in the back will be the main body of the purse. I haven't sorted out the rest yet. I did get the pattern enlarged and I copied the instructions to send to my niece hoping she can provide guidance.

Actually, the sewing looks pretty straight forward and I'm not too worried. I'll just need to think it through--things like doing the zipper in the top and do I want to add a solid base, feet, interfacing, etc. It's now on hold until after Christmas.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Check this out! A good friend has written a book and it's featured on her agent's website right now: here. I can't wait to get my copy.

This blog has recently been hit several times by spam in the comments. For now I'm going to tighten the level of security on comments (sorry) and if that doesn't work, I'll probably turn them off for a bit until they lose interest and go away.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day Out with the Girls!

Yesterday I took a day off. It was an insane thing to do at this time (work is very busy) but much needed and it was a wonderful day. First I spent way too long at the allergy doctors, picking up new vials. Then it was on to fun!

I met my sister and s-i-l and we drove out to Sycamore, IL. Sycamore is a Very Pretty town and we really enjoyed looking at all of the really cool houses. (It's about 60 miles west of Chicago.)

We had lunch at the restaurant pictured above: Nat's on Maple. Very yummy "trendy comfort food." (I had Mahi-Mahi sauteed in a gingered broth with fresh vegetables and jasmine rice for my belated birthday lunch--it was all the better for the wait!)

Then we drove over to Tammy Tadd Designs. I was looking for fabrics for a purse I saw in a Japanese Quilting magazine (more on that another day). My sister was looking for fabrics for a new quilting project. My s-i-l was just looking. This shop has loads of fun fabrics. If you like to quilt but aren't into the classic dull colors, get on over to Tammy Tadd's--there's color everywhere. Before hitting the doctor's in the morning I ran into Trader Joe's for almond butter. They gave me a box of apples--they weren't selling so every customer that wanted one, got a box. I should have put something in the picture for scale. This is one Mammoth apple (probably why they weren't selling--they're waaay too big). It's at least a pound. When we got back to my sister's house, we sliced two up and made yummy baked apples with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and nuts. Vanilla ice cream added the crowning touch. We spent the rest of the afternoon finishing projects. I worked on felting this reluctant-to-felt entrelac bag. It flattened out enough that I can finish it once it's dry. We measured (three times, I think) the placing of grommets on a shirt. They're all done now. I sewed the last button on a knitted vest and overcast a couple of buttonholes (made by s-i-l for her dad). I sewed handles on a knitted purse (also by s-i-l). I worked on an embroidered ornament of mine. My sister worked on some needlefelting and a fleece top. S-i-l stitched a couple of zippers into knitted garments. At the end of the day we all felt very accomplished and pleased. When she was getting her stuff out for finishing, my sister ran across this piece. I remember mom making it--it was a huge struggle for her to stitch on the velvet with the tiny beads. The note was tucked inside. Mom would really enjoy the sight of the three of us carrying on the family tradition of sitting around the table with our hand work.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still not finishing much

My run of finishing a lot quickly has ended. Mostly because I'm working on more complex things now and also projects that aren't already nearly completed. I made some progress on my pears.I've been feeling a bit disorganized and despite having some time at home this weekend, I'm just feeling a bit discombobulated. So I took an extra hour this morning at home and got some things sorted. I feel much better. And by the time I left, it was bright enough to take some photos of the WIP pears. They're 2/3 of the way done (each stuffed pear will have three panels).So here they are, "paired" off. This has been a great carry along project because I only need to bring one fabric panel at a time, a bit of floss, scissors and a needle.I didn't make it out to see Pat's classroom this weekend; something came up. I did get to lunch with my friends:We visited and caught up with each other's lives (we get together maybe twice a year). Ate ourselves silly. And all in all had a great time.

I also got some time on Sunday to enjoy the sunny and warm weather, read (I'm nearly to the end of Diana Gabaldon's Echo in the Bone--I can't believe it's taken me this long. Usually I sit up all night 'till it's done!) and get the laundry caught up. I also got some time to cook (I cook on weekends). I made chicken-vegetable soup, a pasta dish with white beans, zucchini, spinach, fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic and onions (hubby has a bad cold) over brown-rice pasta, and our standby beef and brown rice oven-bake--with loads of really good fresh kale. Doesn't seem to have helped his cold much but I felt good about doing it.

We've been having a time of it (using my best Royal We here). My handy hubby's fixed the 'fridge (30+ years old) twice now in recent weeks. Yesterday he replaced the motor. There's still one other problem, some frozen back-up inside, that we may need to call service for. When that's not acting up, lately my older car has been (ha! older as in 2001---for us usually older means 15 years old or more!). He replaced the radiator recently--an all day job. Then coming home from embroidery guild on Monday, as I backed up to park there was a really horrible noise in the breaks. When he took the wheel off to look, pieces fell out--big chunks. That's today's repair task with the help of a friend who has the proper (expensive) tool. He's also done some work recently on the washer. I'm not the only thing that's aging around our place!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun Events

On Wednesday night we went to the opening for a show of art by a long-time friend. It is at Calumet College in Whiting, Indiana and features a series of posters for soaring safety and other aircraft and flight-related designs, posters and art. My hubby and the artist both went to Calumet college.

From model airplanes as a child to working for a company designing, planning and writing instructions for those big remote-control plane kits to becoming a pilot and most recently getting into soaring. He and his family live on an airfield. (well, not really on, but next door to one.) It was really interesting to see this lifelong passion and how it's played out through the years. (btw, his current job is involved with making McDonald's Happy Meals toys--how cool is that?)
This is my hubby, sporting a lumberjack look, catching up with another old college friend in the gallery.
And here's the artist, on the right, with his mentor and former teacher at the college. We were really pleased to see him--he had a very great impact on many of the students' lives, including my husband's.
And this if from today--two very good friends and I met for lunch and a mutual birthday celebration (two of our birthdays were a while back but one is tomorrow!) We don't take breaks like this from work often so it's a lovely treat. We had Thai food and great conversation.

Tomorrow I'm having another friends luncheon and then I get to tour Pat Winter's new Studio...I can't wait!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ridiculous to Sublime

I got the kits for these wooly lock Christmas trees from Esther's Place. I sat outside on Halloween passing out candy and needlefelting the trees. My hubby thinks they look rather like a gnome on a bad hair day. They're, hmmmm, interesting. They were fun to do and a bit more difficult than they looked at first. Silly and fun.
I spent the morning today stitching on my Japanese Embroidery piece. (if you're in the Chicago area and studying JE, come join us. First Thursdays at the Hyde Park Art Center (9am-noon))

I'm never sure of the proper orientation for this piece (which is a paper wrapped bouquet of flowers). I started this summer at this point. So, the work done was over four half-days of study this summer and two First Thursday sessions. It is really wonderful to do and a great calming pause in the week. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Birthday Party

My little brother turned 50! (youch!) We feted him this weekend. We had roast chicken, mac&cheese, veg, lovely crisp baguette (brother baked) and the important part: chocolate brownies (the "birthday cake"--he baked them himself), chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chocolate-chip ice cream (are you noticing a trend here?) and I brought a really good pumpkin cake roll with a cream-cheese ice cream filling.

I gave him a wooden box with a needlepoint inset in the lid. Our wise sister gave him a more appropriate chocolate cook book.We planned a "girl's day out" for the 12th. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A very little progress

I finished two leaves and began the flower--slow progress made. I compare what I'm doing to the sample designs and I'm want to do each item over again. I am learning a lot, however, and using it as I progress, which is the point. (I'm feeling like I'm showing the same wrinkly cloth over and over but I do add things each time. really.)These are the cool beads I found at Beads Amore in Indianapolis the previous weekend. I'm not sure what I plan for them. I think they would make nice jewelry, with fine chain or perhaps pearls, but they would also work stitched to an embroidery, such as a crazy quilt. My immediate thought upon finding them was bracelet--they seem sturdy enough. More stash.On Saturday I got two cool packages from Lelia. The first was this great Halloween card with some lovely designs--a thread winder and some cool spooky images that will make great bookmarks.The second package included this head, which was a prize she won. She very sweetly shared the bounty with me. It's pretty cool and I'm thinking about all sorts of things she could be.

I'm still working away slowly on longer term projects right now. Knitting a holiday gift that I can't show. Working slowly on my long and short stitch sampler and also on my embroidered pears. The latter doesn't photograph well, being tone on tone so far (I've been stitching green stems). It's been sunny for the last few days and I've found my mood has improved some. After this weekend some of the pressure will let up a bit--my weekends aren't as heavily booked. I'm running a huge event for work the first weekend in December and things are going to be insane until it's over (and I collapse).