Sunday, October 31, 2010

End of October orange

Off soon to get the costumes on. The last few days have held some precious moments of clear, cold weather with golden light... they are even more precious because they come after days and days of dreary gray and rain.  Orange seems to be everywhere at the end of October, not just in the stores.  I love how it glows in the light.

Plus, one of my favorite sights on these first cold days of fall:

Mmm, toasty.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Scissors - Primitives

Bet you thought I'd finished with the scissors, heh heh.  "Primitive" style!

WIP: Carriage House Samplings "Frederick" with HDF silks on recommended linen

Plus you can see Frederick up there finally has a head.  Whoo hoo!

First, on the left, are 4.25-inch 18th cent reproductions from Cheswick Company.  I love the way this style looks with primitive style samplers like Fred here.  They are very solid and different in feel from most modern embroidery scissors, the blades are thick and obviously not intended for very fine work, but they do cut cleanly.   

The other pair was manufactured by Tamsco, I am a sucker for gunmetal finishes.  I primarily bought these to look at amongst the others in the collection, but in use they are a decent pair of all-around snippers. Could do with a tiny spot of oil in the action.

Both pairs are around $10, and while they are not the top of the line they are very photogenic, don't you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ocean Jasper

I stayed up late last night and did all the french knots and beading!

This little piece was inspired by a small polished stone in my collection and wonderful close-up photograph of a section of ocean jasper from the fabulous book Within the Stone by Bill Atkinson.

This was a fun, quick stitch.  These little freestyle pieces, where I get a bee in my bonnet and can't stitch anything else until the idea gets OUT, are very satisfying for me.

Used DMC memory thread, HDF silk floss and ribbon, Rainbow Gallery and mystery grab bag specialty fibers, gold Swarovski pearls, and several sizes and colors of glass seed beads, on black Lugana.

I stitched it with the bands vertical and originally thought that it would be oriented like this:

But now I think I like the finished product with the bands horizontal instead, it's kind of like a mysterious ocean landscape this way:

OK, back to work!  The girl has a Halloween party, gotta go, enough playing for now...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's almost the weekend, right?

Sorry not so many posts this week.  It's been a busy one.  And the weather dreary and rainy, November's come early. 

But, at least it is almost the weekend.   It will be a busy one full of sugared-up children stuck indoors because of the cold and wet...  I still hold out hope to to finish a small project this weekend, but even if I don't, here are some of the things I resolve to stop and enjoy, no matter what:

The framed and finished samplers on the wall-

The Workbasket's "Stitch in Time", finished in June 2009.
Special, carved pumpkins-

Lego (a rainy day essential)-

and the last autumn leaves.

What are you going to stop and enjoy?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The sad tale of the unfinished algae pool quilt

When I was looking for the muslin the other day I uncovered this:

"What the heck is that?" you ask.  Appropriate question.  A few years ago I took a three-day art quilting design class with Ann Johnston.  It was a good class and I learned a few quilting techniques, and had some good exercises on the value of line and shape in fabric design.  She asked us to bring some of our own favorite photos to use as inspiration.  This was one of the ones I chose:

"What the heck is that?" you ask, again.  Apologies for the photo quality, it was taken in the BDC (before digital camera) era with a really cheap 35mm point and shoot.  Remember how film used to be expensive and you'd only take one or two shots of something, rather than 30 and pick the best?  Anyway I digress.  This is algae growing near the edge of a Yellowstone hot spring.  You better bet that next time I get back to Yellowstone I'm taking a couple extra SD cards for a few thousand photos.  Anyway...

Our project on the last day of the class was to use what we'd learned in the class to make a small quilt based on one of our photos.  I chose to simplify the bright colors of the algae and try to capture the movement of the water. 

I actually still really like this quilt.  When I got it home I continued the quilting lines within the central area and started quilting the lighter green. 

But I kept breaking threads and needles, no matter what I tried.  That is when I realized something very, very important.  This quilt was made using reverse applique of several layers of fabric.  I did not trim away the excess underneath layers, the other people in the class said that probably wasn't necessary and the extra layers would create a firmness that would be an interesting effect in the finished product.  What I failed to realize was that I, as the youngest and poorest member of the class, was using an entry-level basic Kenmore sewing machine, everyone else was using fancy Berninas and whatnot.  And when free-motion quilting, my basic Kenmore can't handle more than three or four layers (fabric, batting, fabric) in the quilt sandwich. 

So lessons learned:
1) know your machine
2) think about the advice of others, if it will really work for you, and
3) if I'm serious about this quilting thing, invest in a better machine.

But today I'm still using the basic Kenmore.  It does still work well for most general applications.  And because of space restrictions I'm not going to be doing large quilts anyway so now I just have to be careful about how I construct the smaller things, most of my work is done by hand anyway. 

So that's the end of the tale, for now, at least.  I still rather like this unfinished little beast, and if I ever do upgrade my machine, I think finishing this little quilt will probably be how I learn the new machine's quirks. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Map Quilts

Pondering the idea of making a small quilt of a map of our area.  Maybe a topo map, or road map, or or or...  Looking for ideas across the internet this morning, I found some wonderful things!

Scrappy maps in vivid color like "I Left My Heart in Africa" from WorldQuilter

Topographic Quilt of Julian, California.  One of Haptic Lab's fabulous Neighborhood Quilts

And the most stunning quilts by Leah Evans...wonderful interpretations of topographic maps and aerial views in fabric. 

Leah Evans' "Tundra" quilt.  See more at DesignBoom and Leah Evans Textiles

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Redwork Experiment

Thanks to a challenge over on Stitcher's Showcase, I've tried my first semi-traditional redwork piece.  Cute!  Click the photo for a closer look.

The pattern is one of the wonderful patterns from The Floss Box "Science" series.  The red thread is a one-off "detritus" silk floss from Hand Dyed Fibers on plain off-white muslin. Stitches used included stem stitch, back stitch, couching, lazy daisies, french knots, and tailed french knots.

Quick to stitch up and I love the little flowers.

And the buggies!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Scissors -- Feathered Friends

Today: scissors decorated with wings and birds. 

Right to left, these are Sullivan's Scissors "Wing" style in copper finish, Mundial's 3.5 inch stork, and Nogent scissors embossed with two birds.

First up, Sullivan's Scissors "Wing" style in copper:

 These are lovely and quite a substantial weight.  The blades are not fine but they cut well, and they also go so perfectly with that Chatelaine "Autumn Watergarden" WIP.

Mundial 3.5 stork:

These are inexpensive and not hard to find, but I love the fine little blades and the two-toned wings.  One of my go-to pairs of scissors.

Nogent two birds, these need the close-up:

Pretty, huh?  I bought these for $15 on E-bay several months ago and don't know very much about them.  They are marked "Nogent", a French maker, but I haven't been able to find them elsewhere on the internet.  The blades are fine, though and the action is very smooth, so I think I got my money's worth. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Green and Gold for the Tree

This year's ornaments-in-progress.  Old gold on green!  I know it's not a traditional color but we have several glass ornaments with this color scheme already and I think they give a brightness and glitz to a Christmas tree.  Especially if you use white lights like we do.  So pretty!  Better photos will follow when they get finished all the way, but I've got to find some matching trim and beads first (oh poor me).

These wonderful snowflake patterns are from a wonderful newish book "A Rainbow of Stitches" by several French designers including Muriel Brunet. 

The book has a wide variety of hand embroidery patterns as well as cross-stitch, all of which lend themselves to whatever colors you choose.  As for my snowflakes, I think I'll also work some up in alternate colors for gifts.  They stitch up pretty quickly.  See the more traditional red on natural linen up there in the first photo?  I'm also thinking silver or white on dark blue or gray could be wonderful, or any color on white...hard to go wrong!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Scissors -- Sentimental Favorites

These two little dears are nothing super spectacular...except that they were last year's birthday gifts from my two favorite little people.

The boy picked out the blue ones on the left, which are very sturdy little 3-inch "Blooms" brand scissors with titanium blades.  Actually very nice travel scissors.  And the girl (of course) picked out the little pink Kelmscott "Little Gems" on the right.  They don't cut worth a darn but they are very very cute!

And the two of them even managed to pick out colors that matched the pieces I had recently done for them!  (They may have had daddy's help.) 

Finish: Arelate Studio "Ferocious Beastie" for Lena

I mean, just look at these faces.  How could they not do a great job?

More ladybugs!

I thought there were a lot last week, but yesterday there were at least three times as many!

This time it was the boy who got to enjoy them with me.

I think I need to pull out my stash of Terrance Nolan/Dimples Designs "Wee Beasties" patterns.  I've done one set of three ladybugs but if they are going to swarm like this they will need more friends!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Tailor of Gloucester

Since today was Tuesday and it is the day where it's just us girls in the house, we decided to go on one of our favorite outings together...the craft store followed by the used book store!

At the craft store we found some lengths of fabric for some projects around the house, some cork to replace the old stuff on big brother's desk, and some colored pencils.  Oh, and Lena picked out one skein of pink DMC. 

But the real treasures were the next stop.  The little bookworm has been into her Beatrix Potter books lately, and we found a title she was missing from her collection.  It is hard to believe really, but until now we've been missing "The Tailor of Gloucester". 

She's a little like a cat, she found a sunny spot on the floor to read her new books.

What's your favorite picture, Lena?

She has good taste.  I also scored a new-to-me needlework book, "Erica Wilson's Childrens World"

It has a large section of pieces inside based on Beatrix Potter's works (plus Muppets and Winnie the Pooh) but I bet I know which one I will have to put on the ever-growing to-do list.