Sunday, September 26, 2010


I am, that is, with amazing, wonderful friends. I ended the day on Monday, Sept. 20 feeling very overwhelmed and grateful. This is a real, handpainted Spanish fan, brought back from Spain for me by a friend who visited her grandmother there this summer. Of course, I see embroidery designs in the delicate painting and filigree. But, wait, there's more!
The same friend also found these lovely placemats and napkins and brought them back for me. The color and style of embroidery are traditional. And they are blue! But, wait, there's more!These sweet hanky's are hand embroidered. The stitching's very nicely done and delicate. Also from Spain. I was so blown away I forgot I'd brought my camera to take her photo on the first day of school (she's a new student here).Artesania Reyes is where she bought the items. Happily she left me the bag so I'd remember. It's so nice when good things happen at work--just makes the day shine.

On my way home, I met my friend AveryClaire for dinner. We sat and talked nonstop for over two hours without coming up for air! It's so great to visit with friends. Each time I do it I tell myself I have to do this more often...She surprised me with a birthday gift, lovingly hand made in my favorite blue. With my initial and delicate ribbon and beaded trim. Wow! It's weighted with sand (so it'll stay put!). It was wrapped in the pearly paper beneath it above and tied with the shiny sheer ribbon and two lovely little roses fresh from her garden. It was so pretty! The roses are in our kitchen and each time I walk in I can smell them. They didn't wilt from all the hot air around them as we had our long chat--I never thought to put them into water at the restaurant.Here's a close up of the pincushion. This week and next are very busy and it was a nice interlude to be so very pampered for a day before crunch time. Yesterday my conference at work ended--so far only a couple more are scheduled. Next week is Japanese Embroidery class/work. Then the following weekend is the Great Lakes Regional meeting here and also my EGA chapter show.

Friday, September 24, 2010

finally, a finished object!

I finally finished and felted my second crochet tote. This one has more texture than the first. The yarns are from my stash. Most, but not all, are wool--which makes for uneven felting. I'm happy with the way it came out.I'm still quite intrigued by our volunteer squash plant. I have no idea what it is--someone is eating off the blooms just as they begin to fruit.
The passion flowers are the other plant in our garden still blooming. They're kind of wilted here after several dried days (I took this last weekend). It's rained since and they should be perkier now. They are such odd things.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

500th Post!!

Well, I've never been able to catch anniversaries for the blog, but I did notice this one last week. Of course, what do you do for a blog milestone? Have a give away!I got busy over the weekend and made these acorn necklaces. I'm going to give away five--there's one for each 100 posts. They are real acorn tops. The "nuts" are felted wool. Hubby drilled the holes in the caps for the bamboo-fiber cords and I coated each top with a protective sealant and assembled everything. It was sooo hard to wait for the felt balls to dry (they're both needle and wet felted).

I'll pick five winners from the comments to this post. I'll mail the necklace anywhere. Please make sure I have a way to reach you if you win--an e-mail address or a blog with an e-mail in the profile. If you specify a color, I'll try to accommodate you. I'll draw a winner on Tuesday, October 5th.

I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read my blog. I know that having it has spurred me to stay busy and push ahead, sometimes just so I'll have something to post. I need that nudge more often than I should. Thanks, too, to everyone who comments. It's a nice to be part of this community.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Busy, busy

It always seems that when I'm busiest, I pick up a new project to do. This half doll and pattern were in the pile of things I tried to sell at June's guild sale and August's House of Stitches sale-- they didn't sell. Then I bought all that lovely perle cotton. And then I found a piece of linen in my stash that went with the colors of the doll.
And found I had a lovely little box to keep it all in. And away I went. Part of my problem had been that I didn't like the verse, so I charted a new one.
Each year Deep River County Park shares a pattern for a quilt square and then collects completed squares for a quilt they make. This year it's a bumble bee quilt square. Here are my fabrics, all washed, pressed and ready to be marked and cut out. I got the pieces cut out later on and they're in a baggie with a spool of thread, waiting for me to have some time and energy. If you want to make this square, below is the submission form for Deep River County Park in Indiana.The pattern page below should measure 8-1/2 x 11. If you go to print from here and it's not the correct size, e-mail me and I'll send you the .jpg directly.I also spent a lot of time working to get ready for upcoming shows. Last Saturday I went to the "Quilts from Grandma's Clothesline" show by Pieces 'n Patches quilt guild in Steger, IL. (I never made it down to the Renegade Crafts Fair.) The quilt show was lovely and in one of their shops I found a white Clover marking pen. It's amazing. You can see above the lovely fine white line it made as I traced acorns to teach needlework (backstitch) at our upcoming show.It's startling because the line starts our nearly clear and then gets whiter as it dries. The instructions say it comes out when washed or ironed. It's fine enough, though, that it's easily covered in stitching. I made the darker tracings with a fine brown Sharpie.I also began prepping materials for a class I'll teach at the Great Lakes Regional meeting on Oct. 2d. I cut more (endless) needlebook covers and wool-felt inserts.

Today (September 18) is our 34th Wedding Anniversary. We don't have plans now but do have tickets to see B.B. King in January at the Paramount in Aurora. I am sooo excited.

And my next post will be my 500th post! I'm trying to think of something fun to do to celebrate. If you have any ideas, let me know. Right now I'm blank (so there might be a lag before the next post while I wrack my brain!) . I sure do talk a lot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Autumn Is Here

Much sooner than I expected it, cool days and nights have arrived. I saw this leaf on my walk the other morning. It's from the maple across the street.A bit late, a large squash of some sort is blossoming mightily in our yard. We think the seed came from our neighbor's bird feeder. I keep hoping it'll stay warm enough to get some baby zucchini. So far nothing is showing.To celebrate, I got some tiny pumpkins to put around at the office.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homewood Summer Project

First off, I have to say that I don't like it. It's what I aimed to do and I learned a lot doing it. But I still don't like the outcome. I scaled it way down from the idea in my mind, to fit the space there was, and I don't think it works.I was thinking along the lines of a floral fantasy or a mystery garden. I think I got more of a jumble.Here's the base, on the candle stick. The candle stick and a wooden circle (inside the pincushion felt, supporting it at the bottom) were what we were given to start with. I am pleased with this part of it and learned a lot making this pincushion base. I wanted a nice round spherical pincushion, so I cut a circle of felt, gathered the edge and stuffed it and got a very wide flat circle. Not what I wanted. In the end I used some things I learned from World Embroideries about making mari (the base "balls" for temari) and took my stuffing and wrapped it very tightly with wool yarn until I got a ball the size I wanted. I put that in the felt circle with a little extra stuffing to even out the bottom edge by the wood circle and, voila! a spherical pincushion.I began the intricate cut felt design with a freezer paper stencil. The first attempt, I drew my design, cut out the stencil, ironed it onto felt and then cut around it. And the whole thing fell apart when I pulled off the stencil. As good as felt is, it just couldn't handle the narrow stems.So, I took my stencil (freezer paper is great--it was reusable even after having been previously ironed onto fuzzy felt) and ironed it on to the fabric side of black iron-on interfacing (place the glue side on a Teflon sheet or parchment paper and it won't stick and it will peel off when cool and be fine---do not iron it without something protecting your ironing surface from the glue on the back of the interfacing!). Here I've outlined around it with a paint pen.I peeled off the stencil and then ironed the interfacing onto the back of the felt and got cutting again.Here's the cut out design, draped on the pincushion base.It was still fragile in some places, so I embroidered each stem and leaf and around the "belt" to add some strength and a layer of complexity before adding any embellishments.I went to town adding cut felt dots, flowers, leaves, fringes, and a few critters. It was an intense project because I only had a short period of time to do it. I did the vast majority of this in one weekend.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's finally cool enough...

...that I can actually wear the lovely shrug my sister-in-law knit for me for my birthday in August. It's not quite straight--this was taken at the end of a long day. The shrug was just perfect for this early autumn weather and very comfy.Here's the ruffly back--I just love it!This is where I hope to be this weekend. We haven't been to an art fair once this summer--once upon a time we went to many each year (Old Town, 57th Street, Gold Coast to name a few).Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Old stuff

We used to go to antiques shops all of the time. Now we rarely do. But Hubby had been out with a friend last week and spotted a book that lingered on his mind, so we went back to get it. While there I found a big bag of sewing goodies that I had to get.There were several needlebooks. Two prickers to transfer patterns. Four spools of silk thread. Some pearl buttons and thimbles. Later on, looking more carefully, I spotted a spool of 100% linen thread and several spools of heavy buttonhole twist. I packaged up my goodies and then gave away the things I wasn't as interested in Monday night at Guild.I also picked up these doilies. I had thought to perhaps make needlebooks or doll skirts from them. I'm not sure. I love small round doilies and the price was right. The lace on the bottom one is lovely. My treasure is this handkerchief. It's hand embroidered. So fine that the first time I took photos of it to post, I took them of the back side by mistake. This is a detail of the front. Just exquisite. And here's a close up of the back.It has some staining and I'm going to try washing it. Below is an overall view--from the back.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of Summer

It's feeling like Autumn here...cooler, with later mornings and early sunsets. It's only September so I expect more hot days, but the season is changing. The weather was gorgeous last weekend and we did get out. We visited Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University on Saturday. The shows were wonderful. We went over to Hammond Marina on Sunday to enjoy the lake. We took some country drives, antiqued a bit in Crown Point (more later on that) and stopped in at Borders (disappointing).

Mostly I worked on my Summer challenge project for Homewood Guild next week. I'll show it off next week after our meeting.These lovely tomatoes are from Cousin John's garden (the big ones) and our own garden (the little ones). We've been admiring John's tomatoes for a few days as they ripen beautifully.The green pepper here is also from Cousin John. The others are store bought. I just love the colors. They're sliced now, ready for a dinner I'm going to tonight for my water aerobics group. Yum!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Holiday eye-candy

I recently reconnected with a friend. I took some classes with lin back in the 80s (it amazes me how much time has passed!) Russian display towels and the goddess motif, a sampler of motifs from the eastern Mediterranean, a traditional Palestinian motif. In a bit of serendipity, I came across some of these pieces in my ufo pile around the same time lin found this blog and wrote me.

She stitches and gardens, both with an intensity I admire. Her embroideries tend to be complex and fine counted thread designs based on traditional patterns she researches. (She likes it when the linen count is high and the stitches small!) Hare some of her lovely pieces that she is letting me share with you. The two samplers above are taken from traditional Latvian patterns. I'm going to let her words take it from here.
Certainly you may put the Latvian sampler on your blog. It would be nice for others to see embroidery so unfamiliar outside of Latvia. The Baltic states are interesting. Lithuania, the southernmost, still has more weaving than embroidery. As you go north to Latvia, there is more embroidery done and further north to Estonia, even more. For this sampler I selected only the cross-stitch patterns from a book on Latvian costumes. Cross-stitch is actually a minor part of their embroidery tradition. Most of their embroideries feature several stitches in one piece, such as double running, counted satin stitch and counted stem stitch. I'll attach photos of 3 such pieces.Most of Latvia embroidery originates with ornamentation of the costumes. Long shawls were adorned with a wide band of embroidery on the narrow ends and thinner borders along the long sides. The cross-stitch designs of the sampler come from the white linen blouses and would have been stitched on collars (some standing, some folded over depending upon the cut of the blouse), cuffs and along the front opening (the narrow designs), and sometimes in bands at the shoulder or top of the sleeve. Men's shirts were also stitched, the most elegant in ornate whitework (all counted). The designs also appear on household items, such as table linens.

I'd like nothing more than for other embroideries to see what is available "out there" in the rest of the world.
Pretty cool, isn't it? Sometimes I feel no matter how much I see, there's always something new to be discovered.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I've been feeling somewhat out of sorts lately--I'm very much ready to get back to projects I want to be doing, rather than things I feel I should be doing. This was reinforced by the peace of Japanese embroidery yesterday morning on our "First Thursday" meeting. It was exactly what I needed.Here is a pile of assembled needlebooks for the Needle Artisans' show in October. They're still chained here. They've since been cut apart and neatly stacked. I adapted a portion of a design from Maritroshka Biscornu for the design and have printed patterns. I have packages of needles and need to get threads cut and these kits will be ready. Still to do--the embroidery needlebooks which will be felt.I've begun working on a challenge project for my other guild, Homewood. I've been inspired by these books (thanks to World Embroideries for bringing them to my attention).They were a birthday present to myself, as part of the endless birthday in August.
The books came from This and That from Japan on Etsy. I could spend hours browsing her books.