Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Break

 I'm stitching some, and planning a lot, but I can't show what I'm doing until the new year. Our Family gathering is December 31.
 In the meantime, I'd like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for
 a wonderful
 happy and healthy
and safe New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Spirit

 Last weekend was full of holiday spirit!  I was stitching these Bargello stockings: Star in the Meadow by Patricia Mazu, an ANG web special project from a while back. Stitched in luscious silks.  I should have time to finish it soon--I've gotten the fabrics out and ready to go.
Clown tree by local organization
 On Saturday we went to the nearby Indiana Welcome Center in Highland. They have a special Christmas Story exhibit. It was INSANE!

Saturday was a special day with a food vendor (smelled great!), rides for kids around the parking lot in a special Santa train, a replica of the visit to Santa from the Christmas Story movie, where the kids climbed up to see Santa and then slid down on a slide.  There were projects for the kids to make and Movies and events in the theater. Long lines snaking everywhere. Oh, and the display windows from Christmas Story from Fields/Macys. 
Lithuanian tree
It was full of great spirit and we enjoyed looking at the tree displays that were throughout the center. 
Polish tree
 If you'd prefer fewer people, I'd suggest going on a weekday. I didn't mind the crowds, but we didn't stay long, either.  Everyone was in good spirits and well behaved.  Although there a few screamers when they were placed on Santa's lap for the required photos. 
Antique toys from a local shop
 After the Welcome Center we drove over to Munster, to the Center for Visual and Performing Arts.  Once again full of happy kids--a children's play had just let out and we peeked in at small ones posing for pictures with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eyore and the rest.  

The lobby was filled with trees decorated by local groups and businesses, much like the ones at the Welcome Center.  After viewing in the trees, we went into the main gallery and viewed a special exhibit of the art of here and here for examples.

It was a thought provoking exhibit. A bit sad--I think her life was not happy.  Intense and interesting. The works on display were not originals--her husband's will prohibited them leaving Mexico.  The copies were carefully made to match color, materials, technique, and spirit. The artwork is complemented by replicas of her clothing and jewelry.  I'm glad we went.
 I went back home to work on more stockings. Another needlepoint, changing the order of the colors.
And I've stitched two more "One More Stitch" stockings from Just Cross Stitch's ornament issue.  They're with the backing and lining fabrics, ready to be finished.  

I'm on a stocking kick this year, it seems. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thimble Pips

I recently needed some gifts for friends and decided to make "thimble pips."  They're small containers, usually to hold a thimble.  I made these a bit larger so my fellow Japanese Embroidery friends can use them to hold some of the screws and washers from our stands.
I noticed Clover has kits with precut plastics in a few sizes, but I didn't have time to find them. I had some quilting template plastic that I cut into the circle sections needed. And I had some left over very heavy Pellon stiffener that I used used for the rest of the circle sections. 

Circle Sections?  This piece is made with three stiff "almond" shapes--You sew them together, leaving one side completely open. When you squeeze the ends, the pip (after an apple seed) opens and you can put small items inside.
To get your shape, you draw two overlapping circles.  The yellow shape is the shape of the pip pieces.  

I actually used six--three for the outside layer and three inside.  So I laced my fabrics over each of the stiff shapes. Then I stitched them in pairs, with the right sides out. I used the softer Pellon on the outer side, and the thinner plastic for the lining piece. Then, last, I stitched two of the sides together with an overcast stitch to make the pip.  They don't take long at all.
Remind you of the old rubber coin purses?  Same principle.
Here's how they open.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Party!

 It's been so long that I'm loosing track of what I've been doing. Things are busy!  On December 2 my EGA chapter Needle Artisans had their Chirstmas Party and also celebrated our Twentieth Anniversary!  Charter members received lovely handmade cards as a gift.  This is mine. 
I participated in the ornament exchange and received this lovely Owl. Thanks, Southpaw Stitcher!  
We just love the owl! 

Here's the ornament I stitched for the exchange: Susan Johnson's Ice Crystal Ornament.  She recently posted the free pattern on Facebook. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Play Date

Last week my sister and I had a play date. 

It included some shopping, lunch out, and a craft project.  We'd been admiring some quilts made with confetti-like bits of fabric and I thought I knew how it was done, so we tried it out. 

I had learned the technique or layering fabrics, trims and embellishments with fusible web as a collage technique so we tried both.  The explosion of fabric scraps to play with is above.
 Here's the start of our collages.
My sister is much more organized than I am. My chaos is above.
Here's her finished collage. She's about to press on the top sheer layer to hold it all together.
She also spent some time working on tracing a pattern for nonpaper piecing. It's an interesting technique and I can't way to see the finished project.
Here's my attempt at the little snippets of fabric technique.  It was kind of addictive.
 And here's our final outcome for the day.  I have plans for my pieces.  Stay tuned.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fun, Quick Project

 Last week in Jo-Ann's I found some cute ornament kits on sale.
 The "fabric" is wood, with holes punched in it for stitching.  A little more complex than the stitching cards for children, but the same theory. And just as much fun.
I got two and completed them pretty quickly.  I mostly followed the directions for the Santa but not so much for the Tree.  I had plenty of thread.   I glued felt on the back and added ribbons to hang.

One tip: the wood is "burned" for the design. To stitch the white and yellow threads, I first cleaned the holes by pulling a needle with a thickish thread through each one.  On my first stitching attempt I didn't do that and ended up with progressively darker thread.  Otherwise they were fun and easy to stitch.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

We've already had our family gathering for Thanksgiving--it was wonderful. Nephew grown pork roast (cooked by his mom) and our usual eclectic potluck of dishes. We stuffed ourselves.
 My bother putting the finishing touches on dessert, with my sister, and my husband.
 Serving the Thanksgiving Beer. Brewed by my brother-in-law and closely watched by a friend.
My sister-in-law, sister and brother.
 The nieces and nephews.  We had them trapped behind the table and I was determined to get a good photograph of all of them. 
 Second try.
 Not too bad.  I don't recall what caught their attention.
Finally smiles!

I bought a turkey and groceries for mashed potatoes and stuffing this morning, to cook for us on Thursday for a second Thanksgiving celebration.

And my big excitement, tomorrow I'm going to see Porgy and Bess at the Lyric Opera.
I'm giddy with anticipation.  
I'm going to a matinee performance and will be sitting way up high. I'll let you know all about it next week.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend if you're in the U.S. It's my favorite holiday, a gathering of family and friends and taking time to pause and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Holiday Finish!

I was recently thinking about my friend Renee and how we used to go over the Just Cross Stitch Annual Christmas Ornament issue as she would choose designs to stitch for holiday gifts. I bought a copy of this year's issue and found a design to stitch in Renee's memory.  I'm not much of a cross stitcher, but I enjoyed this project
   The "one more stitch" motif seems appropriate.
While I had the brown linen handy, I began test stitching a design for Susan Johnson. I'm loving it. The circle will be about 6" when I'm done.  I'm using a 24 count linen with DMC coton a broider size 20. (Thanks to Jenny--it's wonderful to stitch with!)
I also got out the paints and painted the backgrounds for the Catherine Jordan trees through the Shining Needle Society.  I'm not terribly controlled about these things. Paint always gets away from me.  I was pleased to find that I could dip the undried fabric in water and the color would rinse out and I could start over.  The seasons I selected are: left side, bottom to top is summer, spring, autumn, and winter.  The right side is a second autumn. They're drying now. With everything, they got quite saturated.  Next I'll press them to set the colors and then I can begin stitching.
And here's my drip/blotting cloth. I always try to use fabric under my painting because I end up with an interesting piece of painted fabric. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Plugging along...

My new Sontag shawl is coming along slowly, a row or two at a time. I spent last weekend balling yarn.  While I only plan to add a row or two of the yellow near the outer edge, I decided to ball up all of this handspun/handdyed wool. (It was originally the flowers on the shawl of the planned sweater.) The skeins were loose loops that had tangled over the years.  Even now, after reballing some of them for better tension, they are kind of sloppy.  I figured if I didn't grit my teeth and do it all at once, I would never do it.  While I was at it, I balled several more balls of the blue Cascade wool and I found another ball of handdyed in a similar color, left over from a completed shawl. I added it to the pile. 
I also began work on the new Catherine Jordan trees pendant project.  
Step 1 is to get the pieces of fabric ready to paint the backgrounds. The kit included one set of cut-to-size fabrics and then uncut strips for the other pendants.  I cut a set of card templates for the openings (pinned together in the photo above) and then used them to trace my pieces.  I left the strips as strips and just cut out the openings. I need to paint the inner edges of the openings so no white shows, but the outside edges of the pieces will be hidden by the frame.  Now to dig out the paints!

It's been three months since my second knee surgery and I'm just about to finish up physical therapy. I'm still having some issues, but they're improving. I'm back doing morning walks with my friend, World Embroideries. And I'm still quite tired in the evenings.  Progress is slow, but as of today I have completed the cutting and weaving one-quarter of the way around the border of the Hardanger tablecloth. It doesn't look much different than the post here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another New Project

I'm a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and it was with great anticipation, and thanks to a good friend, I was able to watch the first episodes of the new series based on the first book. The costuming is full of lovely knitted garments, rich woven tartans, some lovely cartridge pleating, and all-in-all a textile lover's delight.  Knitting patterns and stitch alongs inspired by the show abound.  I want to play, too, but I have another garment in mind.
A Sontag is kind of a wrap around shawl.  I've made them from big triangular shawls by tying the ends together in back or adding a button and loop.  That's pretty much it, from what I can see.  And they stay on nicely, not slipping here and there.
While looking through the Outlander knitting on Ravelry, I came across this Sontag pattern I really liked: Kay's Tess d'Uberville's Shawl designed by Kay Meadors. It perfectly fits my need for a brainless knitting project.  I have umpteen projects going, including some knitting, but all take more energy than I have right now in the evenings. And there was another reason for a new project.

A favorite activity of mine is to knit and read.  I'm rereading the first Outlander book and wanted a very simple knitting project to go along. And also for knitting in waiting rooms at doctor's offices. 
This garter stitch Sontag fits the bill.  

(You probably need to sign up for a Ravelry account to see the links above. It's free and Ravelry is a wonderful site full of great knitters, yarns, patterns, and conversations. Their pattern search feature is awesome.)
Many years ago I was in a knit-along group to make a shawl collar jacket with lovely dimensional flowers on the collar.  I got yarn for the sweater and the flowers and knit samples. It was a lesson in custom fitting the sweater and I made lots of pattern notes. And along the way I realized that while I really loved the design, I'd probably never be comfortable wearing a sweater with dimensional flowers on the collar. (Watching the Kentucky Derby with the horseshoe shape of flowers that bedecked the winning horse convinced me of that.)  I worked on possible ways to make the flowers removable. And then thought about just omitting them. And I began procrastinating. I never cast on for the sweater.  

I pulled out that yarn (lovely Cascade wool) and knit up a swatch for the Sontag.  First, I need to make the shawl larger than the pattern. Second, my wool knits to a finer gauge than the pattern.  And I'm thinking I may like to make a Sontag a bit more like the historic one in the photo at top.  I ignored all of that, pretty much, deciding to think about it later on. I cast on and began knitting. And reading while knitting. I was in heaven!  (I debated this morning about doing a bit before heading in to work and decided that was too dangerous.)  

So there are decisions to come, but for right now I'm in knitting heaven.   A very good place to be.