Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nearly done and wip

The embroidery and edging are done. While it is still on the frame, I spritzed it with water to dampen it and let it dry, hopefully to remove any wrinkles.  I've been thinking about the best way to make up the pillow, where to place the ribbons for the rings, and how to make sure it's all reversible so I can eventually make it up into a larger cushion.
In the meantime, I've begun a reversible cable knit scarf. I scouted patterns on Ravelry.  This one is about 4-1/2" wide.  It's pretty mindless knitting, so it makes a great carry along project.  (K2P2 with a twist every 6 rows.)
I've also picked up this stocking to work on. The design is preprinted onto the fabric. I'm stitching it using wool (instead of the specified floss), using Medici or Impressions.  It's a bit fiddly (the design elements are teensy) but is a nice change of pace without a lot of decisions to be made.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Girlz Day--Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, part II

We took a break and headed over to the Sam and Harry's restaurant in the nearby hotel.  It was a lovely day. Not too hot (which is really weird to type given that it's still March!).
My buddies.
The restaurant ceiling. Metallic branch shapes are suspended midair. Pretty cool effect.
Waiting for the food to arrive. We took notes on where we'd been and where we wanted to head after lunch. It was good to get totally away and into a quiet atmosphere.
Back in the land of shopping, we toured the quilt exhibit (no photography) and the Hoffmann Challenge Dolls (some were amazing).  I got this bargain quilt fabric pack to make table runners to sell at the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild show next October.  It should make six runners.
Earlier in the day we'd seen a demo of fabric marbling and dyeing using inks on shaving cream at TSC Designs. This has long fascinated me and the inks in the kit were Tsukineko and I've been wanting to get them after trying them a couple of years ago.  So I splurged.  I got the set, including a book, ink, tools and fun stuff plus the two stencils below.
This was the hardest thing I did all day--choose two from the multitude of stencils the booth had on display. I aimed for versatility--designs where I could pull out elements and parts for smaller projects.
Many thanks to my sister for her help. (I may still have been there otherwise!)
I'm planinng a play date for us on my sister's deck this summer.
My last extravagance of the day (sadly, my buddies didn't want to play, too), was to take a drop-in workshop with Diane Erickson to make this "Steam Punk Wrist Wrap." I've been following her career and Revisions pattern line since, oh, way back when.  I love her design sense.  And I'm kicking myself I didn't get a picture of her with her bird on a twig brooch.

This was a bit out of the box, even for me. Random, unfinished edges, a bit chaotic.  I think my pink yarn, added last night, helps pull it together. I may add more stitching. Maybe some beads. Diane is right, though.  It looks better worn than when shown flat.  And it's surprisingly soft comfortable.

So, that was the spring fling!  I'm feeling rather flung!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Girlz Day! Original Sewing & Quilt Expo! (part 1)

On Thursday my sister, sister-in-law and I met at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Schaumburg. We had fun. I'm probably going to regret it next month when the bills come in, but I'm all smiles now!  I shopped enough that I've split it into two posts.
This is a Shiva Paintsticks Make-it and Take-it I did at the Laura Murray Designs booth. Both stenciling and rubbing.
Here's their tag with a fabric rubbing attached.
And this doesn't quite show (glare from the flash) but it's a Grip-n-Grip from Bear Thread Designs.  It's a sticky mat you set down on your work area, then you lay your fabric on it and it stays. Doesn't budge while you're stenciling. Then I stuck the rubbing plate to it and it stayed while I moved my fabric around for the rubbing I did.  It was wonderful.  I can see it making drawing, writing and coloring on fabric so much easier.
I loved this booth! There was a bin of luscious kimono silk fabric.  My find was this two-sided piece. I plan to hem three sides (one is selvedge) and wear it as a scarf.
I also purchased a baggie of silk kimono scraps.  They're really cool but I'll need to iron them before sharing them all with you.  N got one too, with more green tones, and it's really awesome, too (it ended up in my bag by mistake, I promise, and it will get to its rightful owner, soon.)
I've long wanted to knit a lace shawl and been too intimidated by the size and complexity. I've looked at some beginner patterns that seemed to look too beginner. There were a few knitting and yarn booths at the show and Mia Bella Yarn and Accessories of Highland Park had a gorgeous dark gray very lacy shawl, with the pattern and yarn on hand.  N and I both got the pattern and I also purchased the yarn in pink. The lace patterns look moderately complex but all of the increasing comes between patterns so the lace knitting should be doable. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photoediting Webinar

On Tuesday, courtesy of the EGA, I was able to participate in a webinar (Oh, how I hate that word! I feel like Elmer Fudd when I say it!) on photoediting.  Best Photo Forward: Refining Photos of Fine Embroidery was presented by Melissa Shanhun of and Jen Weber of Funk & Weber.  The focus was on how to improve my digital photographs of needlework.  (You might remember Jen from the EGA Literacy Bookmark Program--I do, I spearhead it for my chapter and I'm still collecting bookmarks for Hammond Reads). (hint, hint)

I learned a lot. First off, the class was aimed at users of Photoshop Elements. I use Photoshop at work on occasion, but never have had any training--I just do what I've figured out. So, the first thing I learned is that I like Photoshop Elements. A lot. It is more straightforward than the full program. But I also learned about toolbars and items that are in the program I have, I'd just been ignoring them.

We learned how to resize photos to optimize them for the web.  What layers, how to work with them, and why they can be very handy tools.  How to get the image to show the true color (often distorted by the lighting available for the photograph). How to square a photo that's not quite true. How to add a frame around the needlework (Elements has premade frames). I also learned what a lot of terms mean and why you might want to do them (sharpen and flatten are two).

The hour went really fast!  I took notes (if I write it, I'll remember it much better--so I write a lot).

Next week, I'll have access to handouts and edited video so I can go over things again.  In the meantime I tried my hand using some of the techniques on some photos I took Wednesday morning.
This is the original shot.
And my shot with some trueing of the color and brightening.
This is the original of scilla in a neighbor's lawn.
And a brightened version. These lovely blue flowers are still too small to see. From a distance, their whole lawn looks bright blue!
This is a redbud. I didn't file the original with the edited one like I did the others.
And here's a quilt. This is a raffle quilt by the Prairie Star Quilter's Guild from St. Charles, IL; it's going to Paducah as a semifinalist and it will be raffled at their show on October 12-13 at the DuPage  County Fair Grounds. I've got my ticket and I'm gonna win. Just sayin'.  Notice the top edge is lopsided.
So I used my new knowledge and corrected the skew.  If you look closely, some of the center blocks are no longer quite square. It's still not quite unskewed--but the more I corrected for one thing, the more other things went a bit out of square. So I found what I think is a happy medium. Not perfect, but much better, imho.
Thank you to Melissa and Jen and, especially, EGA!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slow Progress

but, still, progress.  I had a cold all last week and didn't stitch hardly at all. (I worked and came home and went to bed--I didn't want to take off sick because this week I'm going to the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo. Having the right priorities is important!)
This weekend I worked on the broiderie perse piece. I completed restitching in the area at the top and began edging the upper edge applique with a metallic thread (Kreinik #8 braid in a color I've always called Vatican--kind of a gold-silver mix).  I think it cleans up the edges nicely and delineates the embroidery from the background. Hubby thinks the edging should be wider so later on I may try adding a second thread around, but for now I'm going to leave it. (Photos always tell me a lot about how something "reads" and I rather like the way this looks--what do you think?) The vertical line is the Vatican thread where I left off--the spool's dangling on the back.

Now I'm working on repairing the bottom half of the photo--I got a lot done last night filling in missing leaf veins and areas of missing thread.  The thread leading off to the right is the stem I was working on when bedtime came last night.
Today is the first day of Spring. It definitely feels more like Summer today!  These are our neighbors' flowers.  A couple of years ago they created an area in their front lawn with some bushes, flowers and a small tree. It's quite pretty. 

Lots more are blooming, everywhere.  I voted today, though, instead of taking my morning walk and pictures.

Thanks to a lovely prize from the EGA, I just "attended" a very interesting webinar on using Photoshop elements to improve photographs of needlework. I'll be writing about it soon. It was organized by Funk&Weber designs (you might remember them from the EGA bookmarks for literacy project) and taught by Melissa of DigitalScrapbookingHQ.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Unseasonably Warm

I awoke last Sunday with a cold and decided it would be a lazy day.  Since it was quite warm, we decided to take a relaxing stroll in nearby Gibson Woods. There wasn't too much to see, yet. Mostly browns and russets, with rare bits of green peeking through.

But, oh, the sounds!  Spring peepers croaking and a woodpecker's rattatatat provided the bass line for the many chirping and calling birds. They were twittering with abandon as they enjoyed the weather. Providing rhythm to it all was a distant train clacking by.
Still, this unseasonable weather just feels wrong. 80 in March?
Our crocuses are blooming.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Weekend Field Trip!

Last Saturday, Nancy, Peggy and I set out for a needlework field trip to Valparaiso, Indiana. The day was jam packed and we didn't get to do all that we had planned. Perhaps we'll go again!

The day began a bit overcast but turned out sunny and warm. I was intrigued by flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over, heading home to Wisconsin. Their call is quite distinctive and usually that's our only sign they're there but this year they're flying quite low and are readily visible.
Our first stop was Needle & Thread quilt shop. It's a lovely Victorian with many rooms full of fabrics, patterns and idea. A class was going on and our visit was accompanied by the students' laughter. They're just adding a long-arm quilting machine to the shop.

Next we stopped in at Sheep's Clothing, just around the block from Needle & Thread. They had two classes going on!  In spite of all of our declarations of not buying anything, hmmm, we did.
We dined at Don Quijote, a Spanish restaurant. It's just up the street from Sheep's Clothing. We had zucchini soup (yummy) and shared a tapas plate, tried an intriguing wine drink, and had a great chat.
Our third stop was our longest.  Imagine Beads was having back to back classes to make the Shambala bracelet.  Mine is pictured above.  The bracelet was really fun to make and didn't take too long. We all left with finished bracelets.
and beads...I got this pattern on a previous field trip and got the beads for it Saturday. One step closer to starting it.
At Sheep's Clothing my purchase was yarn to make Dalek* egg cosies (finally, I've been wanting to make them for a while now).  It's Cascade superwash--wool that can be easily washed--great for a kitchen item.  So now I have pattern, yarn and I dug out hooks and needles (I have patterns for both knit and crochet Daleks).  Now to find some time!

*Dalek's are the perennial bad guys on Dr. Who.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The new office

We've been here three weeks now and it seems like forever already!
My office space is already overwhelmed with paper.  That's my space above.
My plants live in the empty cubicle next door where they're basking in the light.
New office coworker on her second day in the office She's brilliant and amazing and so very quiet!  She works with our journals (the manging editor wouldn't let me take her picture). Both ladies are very quiet. I'm far from quiet and I feel like a bull in a china shop around them.
A shot of my messy, paper strewn desk. A friend politely told me I'm a "gatherer" this week.  The offices of my coworkers are still pristine and spare.  I definitely nest wherever I am.
Our big space.  I'm just to the right in this photo, beyond the files.  All of our files fit into this huge bank of cabinets.  The door at the end is our big supply closet (so everything is no longer crammed into my space.) There are offices (doors at the end of the file cabinets) to the right and four cubicles on the left.
And our very own kitchen space.  Behind the green towel is our water cooler and mini-fridge.  All we need are a few hammocks and we'd never have to leave.  (Let's keep the quiet, or mangement might like the idea!)  More practially, we also have our own (well, shared) copier/scanner next to the kitchen and a coat closet at that end, too. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Last Weekend

It's almost next weekend already and I'm just getting a chance to blog about last weekend. It was productive and busy, and I felt really good and got a whole lot done, but I don't have a lot to show. 

 I was doing background stuff--sorting and putting things away, gathering materials for two upcoming Homewood Guild classes. One will be on how to get your design onto fabric (there are a lot more ways to do this than I initially thought) and the second will be to make ATCs (artist trade cards). 

I cut out fabric to back the crewel pocket samplers and to cover my crewel notebook. Months ago I'd found a sale upholstery fabric with a crewel design to use.
Here's the fabric for the book cover. I've attached the crewel leaf sampler I made using some ribbon. I hadn't left enough raw edge to be able to turn it under.  This will be the notebook front.  I still have to find what I want to use to bind the outer edges of the pockets. I don't think I want commercial bias tape and I don't want to make bias tape from the upholstery fabric.  Most searches through the stash.

I also finished the applique for the broderie persé wedding pillow, adding the final motif, basted it to a larger sturdy fabric, mounted it onto stretcher bars, and then cut the backing fabric away from behind the embroidery. When I'm all done stitching, I'll remove the stabilizing fabric before making up the pillow. Here it is.
I realized that to make the couched outline smooth, it would have to be mounted for stitching. I delayed as long as I could because I love stitching in hand, but finally did it.  Before I begin the edging, I plan to do a little repair embroidery, in places where the stitches have vanished.  The blue and green leaves all had a dark yellow line of stem stitch down the center, it's only about half there.  Some places I may leave, like the tips of the brown flower. I think they may have been satin stitched at one time but nothing is left to tell me the color.

And some areas I'm debating about. In the pink and brown flower in the lower right, the beige area is unstitched. It never was stitched.  But the silk fabric is frayed and coming apart at the edges. I could stitch over the entire area or I could try to tack down the torn edges. I'm leaning toward the latter.

I also noted down all the ISBNs for the books I want to get rid of.  I found that this would be helpful if I wanted to sell them to a book seller.  I sent the list off to one today who specializes in needlework books.  The sales pace was too slow on my own and I'm itching to have them gone.
A friend sent me these three wonderful large pieces of Liberty lawn fabric. It is soft and silky.  I spent some fun time thinking about what I might make.  For some reason, I always think "blouse" with Liberty lawn.  It is the perfect blouse fabric.  I'm still thinking. 
If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

This weekend we're off on another Homewood Guild Field Trip: this one to Valparaiso and the art gallery, bead, knitting and quilting shops there.


I'm still catching up with things and this is one that's lingered too long.  Under a Topaz Sky gave Moonsilk Stitches an award, the Liebster Blog award!  Thank you very much.  I'm in awesome company and really enjoyed browsing the other blogs she selected (see her post here).
When given this award:
1. Thank the giver and link back to their blog.
2. Reveal your 5 top picks and leave a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too.

My picks (this was hard!): 
The Unbroken Thread--interesting projects with great commentary on them as she's stitching.
Block Talk with Gerry--I've learned so much here as Gerry discusses ways crazy quilting blocks can be improved or enhanced.
Plays with Needles--very creative and inspiring projects with wonderful photography.
World Embroideries--lots of interesting and innovative projects (and great vicarious vacations).
Small Works in Wool--She's a professional artist and poet (both of which I admire greatly)--I love her style and wonderful artworks.

I do know that some people don’t like awards, so I hope I haven’t stepped on any toes by giving these out and apologies if I have.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Awesome Giveaway

Not here--Part Time Travel Writer has an extensive giveaway going on with all sorts of international goodies on offer.  To enter you need to comment on the post indicating the two items you'd like to win and help spread the word by blogging or posting the giveaway to Facebook.  Check it out!

Friday, March 2, 2012


A couple of weeks ago on a side trip into an antiques shop, I found a near mint condition issue of the Delineator from 1906.  The Delineator was the fashion and pattern magazine for Butterick Patterns, so it's full of the latest Paris fashion trends, the most popular fabrics, colors and ideas.
I love the style of this cover art.
What always amazes me about these century old publications is how similar they are to their modern counterparts. There are articles on cooking healthy and tasty meals, uplifting stories, some serious articles about "modern times," the latest fashions and tips for looking good.
This spread features lace and embroidered accessories and how to alter the most popular skirt style to fit you exactly. The pattern altering techniques are the same as used today.
This is an article on using stencils to decorate clothing and household textiles. Not only the concept but the designs could be from one of today's magazines. Stenciling is still very popular.
1906 was still very much in the wasp waist Gibson Girl fashion era. Here are some of the latest styles in "waists" (blouses) and sleeves. 

Even though my goal is to get rid of paper in our house (the excess of books and magazines), I couldn't resist this one and have spent hours reading and enjoying it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Works in Progress...

I'm plying the needle (or needles) again. It feels good.
I'm knitting a second pink hat.  I showed the first one done here. It was a bit small so I'm doing another for me. One side is done and the second side underway. This is a bit more designing on my part--how to make the cable section wider but not too much taller (it tapers to a point at the top) and how to pick up stitches on the new resized cable. It's been interesting. (hint--take a lot of notes as you go along!)
I put in a lot of hours on the mounds on my crewel piece. The wool thread looks much more brown in my lamp light when I'm stitching than it does in sunlight where I took this photo.
I made a second mari, using plastic bags as the foundation (on the left). I think I did better with this one. I also spent time rolling my first one on a hard surface to round it up a bit (it's still lumpy there on the right). 
Sorry for the bad photo. I worked a lot on my sudoku piece. I now have one square done in each nine-patch block.  My comfort zone would be to complete each row or nine-patch at a time, so I'm trying to be more flexible and jump around (the square in the upper left was completed as a class sample).