Thursday, June 30, 2011


Some lovely goodies came my way last week from two wonderful ladies....

I received a surprise in the mail--my niece sent me more goodies from Japan: an indigo dragonfly bandanna, lovely crepe fabrics, chopsticks and a Care Bear fob. It was a wonderful treat! A coworker left and upon her departure we exchanged gifts. I'll miss her--she's off to Africa to do some charity work for the next year. She found a lovely scarf and beaded felt flower pin for me.
And a set of lovely tea cups.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIPs and FOs!

I had a busy weekend. I completed my first afghan rectangle for the Legal Loopers project and began the second. I completed the entrelac section in my diamond tote and am back to working rows. The stripe pattern from the top repeats and then the base is knit. It seemed to balloon up in the entrelac section--I'm very happy to be bringing it back to manageable size with the knit rows.
I've shown two of these before but this photo is better. Here are the three Japanese pastries I made from kits sent to me by my niece. They're now hanging on my office file cabinet.
On our way back from the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair on Friday, we stopped at Village Needleworks in Westmont. I picked up this painted canvas keyfob and stitched it Friday night and Saturday morning. Mostly it's floss but I found a sparkly blue mystery fiber to add to the floss for the water. It will be a Christmas gift.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair

On Friday World Embroideries and I drove up to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake to visit the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. This was the fair's fifth year but the first time I was able to attend. We met my sister and sister-in-law there and also ran into an old friend. We had a wonderful day full of wonderful textures, visual treats, and lovely music. There was wood, pottery and loads of wooly goodness. The angora rabbits were a magnet for the kids in attendance.It was gray outside but everyone was still smiling, anticipating the fun inside. We smiled all day!There was music both inside and outside--this is where we had lunch. Yummy Polish food. I found some treasures--handdyed rainbow fabric...
A tote bag and program came with the entrance fee (or a t-shirt if you preferred).I got some needles to move my lotus hat from the dpns and rubberbands to circulars that were the right size and length. I brought my project along in it's little tote and made the swap while sitting in the large rest area. I've now completed two of the three lace repeats for the main part of the hat.I found purse handles on sale. I realized I'll have leftover yarn from my felted diamond tote. These are short, purse handles that will work nicely for the smaller felted bags I like to make and use.I'm already anticipating next year's fair!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crewel Friday

The embroidery on the crewel needlebook is done. I damp stretched it last weekend. I love the colors on this project.I assembled the finishing materials this weekend, trimmed the fabric to size, pressed the pocket, trimmed the flannel, found a button for the closure (the rest of the materials were part of the kit) and pinned the insides together.At Tuesday's long series of doctor appointments with hubby I basted the outer edge of the lining (to secure a layer of thin batting and the pocket), stitched a division in the pocket, stitched the flannel into place and pinned it for the final stitching. In the evening, I cut the silk threads for the edging cord to size. I still need to twist the cord, make the button loop, sew the front to the back and sew on the edging cord and the button. But it's the home stretch!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's summer so I'm knitting!

For some reason, this past weekend I just wanted to knit! It's hot so go figure. I've found that if I limit the time on one project and swap with embroidery, my hands last longer. Here's the progress on my felted diamond tote bag. It's about half-way there. I'm trying to knit one entrelac square per night.While I was cleaning I found a small (knit and felted entrelac) bag with two skeins of yarn, some needles and a hat pattern. The pattern is the Lotus Hat by Third Base Line. I sat down and swatched (what cleaning?--there's knitting to do!), figured out which yarn would work, and cast on for the hat. I knit two rows to get it going.

My circular needles in this size are too long for the number of stitches, but the stitches don't want to stay on the double pointed needles, hence the rubber bands. At a series of doctor appointments with hubby this morning, I completed three more rounds of ribbing. The rubber bands work well. The yarn is Lily Sugar 'n Cream.Not knitting, here, but crochet is close (at least in my way of thinking--string into fabric). I went hunting for acrylic yarn leftovers--the Legal Loopers are at it again. This is a small group of crocheters from my office. Previously we did afghan squares for charity. This time we plan to make a whole afghan for Warm Up America. So I began crocheting my first 7" wide square. It will be 9" long which should be 12 rows. I have four rows (and 3") done here. The yarn is Lion Brand, Homespun I think.
And, last, more clearing up. I have (had) a whole bunch of t-shirts from concerts (mostly Johnny Clegg and Kodo) that I liked--but don't wear any more. (I realized a while back I rarely wear t-shirts with pictures on them.) So I decided to make an afghan. I used a rotary cutter to cut rectangles with the pretty t-shirt designs centered in them (fronts and some backs, too). Later on I will measure them and pick a "standard rectangle size" and then add fabrics to make them all the same size and make up a quilt.

I tossed the shoulders-sleeves parts. (Hubby was fall-down amazed that I'd throw away fabric, but I've finally realized I just can't keep every scrap.)

I set aside the shirt bottoms to make "yarn." I'm cutting them into strips, approximately 1-1/2" wide, in a spiral fashion from the cut edge to the hem (those get tossed, too!) I plan to use my "yarn" for a tote bag. This big ball is just from three t-shirts!

(I'm glad the trash has gone out this week--it was very hard to let go of all of that perfectly good, nice knit fabric!)

And no photos yet but in my efforts to do short stints at one task at a time, I also completed two more "woven" bookmarks, originally shown here, at hubby's doctor appointments this week (it was a long morning--preparation for some outpatient surgery coming up in July). My tote was larger than I usually carry, but it worked well to keep changing projects each time we moved to another waiting room or office.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Felt pastries and DMC Mentor

Last weekend I ran a conference at work. Some years I do many, this year just one, which is a nice break. I've learned I can't do any serious work while the conference is going on--I can pop up to my office and check e-mail and perhaps fill out some forms by hand, but that's it. Mostly I'm running hither and yon with conference things, with odd stretches just sitting and waiting for the next break.

So I bring a small pick-up-and-put-down stitching project to work on. This time I brought the kits for felt Japanese pastries my niece sent, originally shown here. Here are two of the three completed and hanging on my office file cabinet. They were fun and it's nice to have something to show for the long days.

I finished the third last night but haven't had a chance to get a photo of it yet. I want to get a better photo of them all, hopefully showing off the yummy (felt) bean paste in the pancakes.Several months ago I signed up for the DMC Mentor program. A couple of us who teach at the YMCA did, thinking we could use the promised kits for teaching there. I had forgotten about it when this arrived in my mailbox. A shiny folder with a really cool pin (which would not photograph at all).And stuffed full of goodies. Four ladybug kits that will be good for our kids at the Y to do next fall when we start up again. Plus a folder with several more advanced designs to use. It's quite a nice set of materials and makes me feel professional--business cards and all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crazy Quilts in Highland Park

Crazy Quilt Exhibition

Highland Park Historical Society Hosts One-of-a-Kind Crazy Quilt Exhibition; Museum Chosen as Anchor Site for Northern Illinois Quilt Fest.

The Highland Park Historical Society will host a Crazy Quilt exhibition, “Crazy Quilts and More by Addie Mangoian Davis,” July 1 – September 30, 2011, Wednesday – Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., at its museum located at 326 Central Avenue, in Highland Park, IL. The museum has been chosen as one of more than a dozen anchor sites for the Northern Illinois Quilt Fest, which will span across the six counties in Northern Illinois. Admission to the exhibition is $5.00, and special group tours are available upon request.

Crazy Quilts became popular during the late 1800s. The Historical Society exhibition will feature a collection of one-of-a-kind newly-made Crazy Quilts by Highland Park resident Addie Mangoian Davis, who loves to use vintage silks, velvets, and satins that she stitches together to construct each quilt block. She embellishes the blocks with a variety of enhancements including cigarette silks, cigar flannels, ribbons, jewels, commemorative badges, and political buttons to create her unique and dramatic designs. The results are quilts so rich in color and pattern, and here and there sprinkled with an element of surprise, that in order to fully appreciate their beauty, one quilting expert states “Hers have to be seen in living color.”

Davis, a native of Waukegan, IL, lived 25 years in Chicago, before she began quilting in 1974, in Friendship, Indiana, where she and her husband moved after his retirement. She describes herself as an “intuitive fiber artist.” “I couldn’t even sew on a loose button,” says Ms. Davis. “But, I believe you can do what you want to do. I fell in love with Crazy Quilts, and I was determined to make them.”

Davis insists Crazy Quilts, which are meant to be whimsical in nature, are anything but crazy. “The Sioux Indian translation for their war leader Crazy Horse was the “enchanted one,” Davis notes. “And that’s how I feel about Crazy Quilts, there’s something enchanting about them.” Davis has expanded her love of Crazy Quilts into other fiber art projects, which also will be on display during the exhibition.

During the three-month quilt fest, a variety of other quilt-related events, including a speakers series, workshops, and appraisals will be held throughout the six-county Northern Illinois region. For a schedule of events at the Highland Park Historical Society, please visit Information will be updated as events are finalized.

In addition to the Crazy Quilt exhibition, the Highland Park Historical Society will feature a display of mid-20th century crocheted and knitted doilies from the collection of Carol Sanes-Miller, also of Highland Park. The Highland Park Historical Society was formed in 1966. Its museum is a 12-room, two-story Italianate Victorian house donated to the Society in 1969, by Jean Butz James. The Society’s mission is to discover, preserve, provide access to, and disseminate the history of Highland Park.

For more information, you are invited to call 847-432-7090, to visit the museum’s website at, and to visit Facebook under Highland Park Historical Society.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Crewel Friday

My order arrived with the threads for the main project that is part of the EGA ICC in Crewel. I added them to the threads I'd pulled from my stash. I'm using the teacher's recommended colors after reviewing the colors that were in use in the 17th Century and that could be dyed from the available natural dyes. I didn't see where I could improve on Judy Jeroy's choices (which surprised me--I'm always changing things like this). Follow the link above to see the design--again, I'm using the recommended design. I cut my ground fabric for the project and plan to transfer the design when I get a chance and a quiet length of time to concentrate on it.

While I'm waiting for comments on step 1, I've picked up a UFO, last shown here.I stitched to previous designs by this designer (Loraine's of Capri), but this one gave me fits. (You can see the others here.) I do, however, see improvement in my stitching since last December. Part of my problem with this project was that I did not like the dark fabric showing through in areas using lighter threads. I decided I was okay with the yellow but not in the pink and I ended up stitching pink felt to the ground before stitching over it. I'm much happier. I accomplished a lot last weekend completing the purple flowers, some stems and leaves.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More opportunities for stitching/viewing

Lelia over at Flying Fingers Plus keeps up a very steady flow of information about local (Chicago area, northwest Indiana, into north central Indiana and beyond). My personal list (most of which have or will appear on Flying Fingers Plus) is below.

Tulip Slip
Copyright Tricia Wilson Nguyen for Thistle Threads, 2010
Stitched by Kris Andrews
Kit Information
Thistle Threads is attempting to help raise $5000 to fill a budget gap for a new
exhibition being organized by Winterthur

With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery.
(It will run from September 3, 2011 – January 8, 2012 )

Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Thistle Threads designed this Tulip Slip based on a privately owned antique and has made up a kit for sale. $10.00 of the cost of each kit is being donated to Winterthur. There will also be a finishing kit, to applique the slip onto a velvet pillow, proceeds from that will also go toward the Winterthur exhibit.

I had seen this on The Embroiderer's Story blog and thought it is a wonderful opportunity to help a worthy cause and also have some stitching fun.
Next Friday, June 24, I'm going with World Embroideries to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. Once there, we'll meet with my sister and sister-in-law for a day of fiber goodness. I've never been there, but friends have and it sounds wonderful. Fibers, music, animals, and shopping. They also offer a robust schedule of classes.If you're a member of the Embroiderer's Guild of America and belong to a chapter in the Great Lakes Region, the region has just posted the list of Group Correspondence Courses it is sponsoring for 2012. You can find it here. If you're not in the GLR, check with your region to see if they have a similar program. It's great fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A bit of progress

The catalpa tree is in full glorious bloom. I actually took this photo a couple of years ago--it's hard to get the light right to take a good photo of the white orchid-like blooms against the dark leaves.Here's the bit-by-bit progress on the knit entrelac bag to be felted. The white is the set up for the entrelac row. (The bag is upside down, begun at the top, moving toward the bottom.)And here's where I am on the London quilt. Working on it intensely was what irritated my hand so and I've set it aside for now. It changes as you stitch the hexagons and remove the papers. I'm thinking about transferring the pattern to muslin and stitching the hexagons to the muslin to provide a bit more stability (right now the pattern is on newsprint). I ripped out quite a few of the smaller hexagons--once I linked them up to the larger ones, the smaller ones shifted and were not following the river pattern. I find taking photos of works in progress helps with the designing--especially if I desaturate them and view the image in black and white.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

feeding the kitty

I write fairly often about exhibits at Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, Indiana. It's a great area resource. I love that their exhibits feature all types of art activities. (they have classes, too, including nuno felting...)

This past weekend we spent more time at the exhibits (five in all) than I think we ever have done before.This series closes on June 26--if you can, it's well worth a visit:
Woman as Artist, Woman as Muse: Diamond Collection Posters of the Belle Epoque 1890-1910
Women are featured as both artist and subject in these rare, original art nouveau advertising posters. We really enjoyed this exhibit that focused on women in many roles. Some were quite cheeky, others very demure. This exhibit shows the range of effects that can be achieved with lithography--from very crayonlike and loose drawings to almost photographic realism.

Tommy: The Material Girl (upstairs) -- Colorful art quilts by Tommy Fitzsimmons. Gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics are used in her interesting quilts.

Vintage Vogue: Cover Art from the LCA Permanent Collection (upstairs) -- From the permanent collection of the LCA, these Vogue magazine covers from 1916–1933 feature fashion illustration by masters of the Art Deco style, including Helen Dryden and Eduardo Benito. This isn't a huge exhibit but it nicely complements the others. I really like the earlier designs from the 19-teens.

This one closes June 24:
In Their Shoes, Artwork by the Social and Learning Institute for the Disadvantaged (downstairs)
Portraits and spectacularly decorated shoes created by clients of Michigan City’s Social and Learning Institute are featured in this exhibition. The product of weekly art classes, taught by local artist Debra Sawyer at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, the mixed media works are both expressive and exuberant. All of the artwork from the exhibition will be offered for sale, with prices starting at $75. Proceeds will benefit the Social and Learning Institute for the Disadvantaged as well as Lubeznik Center for the Arts’ outreach and education programs, like the one that produced this exhibition. Awesome and colorful. Check out the titles for the shoes. Amazing.

There was also an exhibit of portraits in acrylics and oil paint sticks downstairs that reminded me in some ways of the lithographs--broad strokes along with fine detail.

We topped our day off with a lakefront visit. Our local lakefront venue, the Hammond Marina, park and beach, is no longer available to us. Unless you live in Hammond you have to pay to get in and if you're out of state, like we are, it's $10 per visit. So, we'll probably be using more gas and driving out to the dunes area more often.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Crewel Friday--lesson 1 done!

By the time you read this my lesson one materials will be on their way to the EGA Individual Correspondence Course in Crewel instructor, Judy Jeroy. I took the whole estimated course time to do this one lesson! I need to move quicker and think I can now--I spent a lot of time reading and planning before beginning any stitching. Here is the pocket sampler all stretched and nice. It does make a huge difference (and it stayed that nice, even when I undid the lacing and removed it from the frame). Check out the crumpled photo from last week here. The band sampler below will be included in the package along with the notebook of materials I've gathered and a letter. I have a long way to go, even while my samplers are under review and I can't add to them... I've decided I want to do a sampler of leaf stitches, perhaps on plain oval () leaves, using some of the older books I have. I need to work on my paper. I've gotten a list of threads I don't have for the final sampler. I need to order them and I can get going on that--trace the design and begin working in some areas. I've already taken two EGA Group Correspondence Courses with Judy Jeroy so I feel fairly competent and confident.

In some ways I took the class for "permission" to play and take the time to really focus on this one thing (well as much as I ever focus on anything). (So sorry, I can't cook dinner tonight, I have to finish this book for my class.) And, yes, I get the convoluted thinking that goes into needing permission to do what one wants. For me, it works and I'll go with that-- the commitment and money involved are something I can hold on to when other projects, tasks, ideas and people are pulling at me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Verdant Nature

Like much of the world this spring, our weather has been extreme. We've been very lucky that most of the bad storms so far have gone around our little neighborhood but it's been scary!I've been struggling to get back to my morning walks ever since my hip bone cracked in October. Not pain, I'm fine. Just the weather. And me being a weather wimp... And, well, lazy. The sidewalks were icy for seemingly forever this winter. This spring it's often been rainy in the early mornings. Now it's hot--and very humid. Even quite early. When I left for work on Tuesday it was already 81F (and I skipped the walking--it's no fun going to work all sweaty and hot)! That said, when I feel I can, I do go for a morning walk.And on occasion I bring the camera. I took these flower photos on the morning of June 4 in our yard. It was already quite hot and the flowers are fading quickly in the heat. But they're lovely while blooming. Our neighbor's yards are also boasting some lovely displays.Doesn't this look just scrumptious? (it was) Later that day we drove up to my sister's for a family gathering. We indulged in some nostalgia, looking at old Super8 movies our dad took in the 70s. Oh, my! The benefit was we could do it sitting in their cool, dim basement. Our sister-in-law brought a lovely bag of asparagus, some of which is pictured above. I made a sauce for pasta with some fresh chicken breast, onions, a bit of fresh garlic, homemade chicken stock reduced for the sauce, and a ton of asparagus. We feasted! I topped mine with Parmesan and black pepper. Yum! Thanks, Nancy! It was wonderful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finished Objects!

I've recently been doing some cleaning and I came across these forgotten beaded beads. I plan to get some white rattail cord to make a necklace from the pink bead. The other two faces were intended to become angels.So, I scrounged about a bit in the stash and came up with materials and made up the tassel angels this weekend. The halos and wings are glittery felt. The bodies are perle cotton, wool yarn, ribbon, metallic threads and some silk threads.A friend is graduating at the end of this week so I made her a bright beaded bracelet. It's posing on top of the start of my knit to felt tote. My hands are still painful so I'm pretty much limiting how much I work on it but I still am seeing a bit of progress each day--it's on size 11 needles so even one row shows. And it's an easy project to pick it up and knit one row and not be lost when picking it up next time.Here's a close up of the bracelet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crewel Friday

Here's the sampler, damp blocked and looking much nicer. It's ready to go.And last night I finished the first sampler pocket. It needs (desperately) to be damp stretched--the instructions provide very specific instructions for this so I'll tackle that this weekend. I think between the two I've covered the required blanket and long-and-short stitches.I'd love to be able to get this into the mail next week.

Oh, and why all the green? A while back World Embroideries gave me a lovely box of crewel threads and there were many skeins of every shade of one family of green. The abundance led me to choose it for the sampler.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First cross stitch and other stuff

This rather grubby bit is the first counted cross stitch design I ever stitched. It was also the last for quite a while--22 count Hardanger fabric over 1. I didn't have a clue. I ran across it this weekend while cleaning.

I found the design in a book on Scandinavian Embroidery from the Park Forest Public Library, which I used to haunt because it had the best art and needlework section around. A copy later came into my possession via England and Jenny. I still like that book. The fabric was a remnant from SJ Designs' first shop (it was a pretty light blue, originally, really). I still had some of it when a year or so later I learned how to do Hardanger embroidery and had a good use for it--I made a lot of Hardanger Christmas ornaments from that piece of fabric.

I actually washed this little dove before taking the picture, but it sits out on a shelf as a reminder of youthful folly and thus gets pretty dingy. (this is not my first-ever embroidery--I was doing that quite young and I was married when I tackled this one. 1978 maybe?)I spent a lot of time stitching this weekend, with not a lot to show. I worked on my paper-pieced quilt but did a bit of ripping as I try to sort out how the large hexagons will fit in with the smaller ones. When the papers are removed it changes things but they can't be removed until stabilized (either pieced all around with other pieces or stitched to some backing or other). So nothing to show there... It also did in my hand. Holding the pieces in place to whip them together made my left hand very sore and inflamed and I'm frustrated.

When I try it again, I'll try pinning the pieces in place, but this technique is hand-intensive--holding the fabric to the card while tacking it while folding the corners and holding the pieces in line while whipping them together--even pinning through the paper. And, for me, it's like popcorn--once I start I can't quit. (happily the hand issues weren't bad enough to keep me from doing the Japanese embroidery or crewel; sadly typing, which I do all day at work, irritates it. I'm using a lot of ice.)

I also worked more on my crewel pocket sampler over the weekend. I worked on the bottom mound in long and sort stitch and the large circle, also long and short--so slow. I damp blocked the strip sampler by pinning it to the ironing board. It came out nice. I'm putting together a notebook with printouts of photos of natural dyes that would have been available at the beginning of the 18th Century, examples of old and new Jacobean-style designs, and my bibliography. (again, nothing to look at, sorry) I'm anxious to get this completed and sent off.

To add variety to my hand use--and because it's been calling to me for a while--I've begun yet another project. This time a knitting project.It's a kit from Knitpicks that's been hanging about for a few years waiting for me to get to it. knitted then felted. I figure if I do a row or two a night, it'll get done and my hands won't scream. Plus, it's pretty mindless.