Friday, February 29, 2008
So here it is - doesn't it look WAY better fully embellished than it did naked? I tell you - I didn't have much hope for that naked ugly block. I guess it was just that the colors this month were SO out of my comfort zone!
Before I go on, let me say that I took detail photos of each corner and the middle of this block and you can see them in my photostream by clicking on this picture of the whole block. There's also a whole lot of detail information with each picture.
Notice the black spider this time and he has spun a corner web on this block. Valentine's Day is represented by the cupid and heart. the heart even has a crystal chip in it. I chose it to represent a wonderful gift my dh, G, gave me for "heart day!" The birds are there because last week the robins & blue jays came home to our gardens from their unknown winter hide out. The daffodil is to honor the bright clumps of yellow promises of Spring that we have enjoyed this month in the garden.
As before the base stitches on all seams were done with the 5 colors of DMC floss I chose to represent February's color pallete and further stitching and layering was done with silk pearl threads. The motifs were all done with one strand of silk floss except the daffodil and name of the month where I used 2 strands.
And then, of course, the block is beaded to the hilt as is my usual style.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Late last night I finished all the embellishment on my January Take It Further Challenge block. You may recall that I'm doing an 8 inch block every month using the colors (not the theme) that Sharon posts at the beginning of each month. I chose to do my blocks in the color theme in order to stretch my inner artist and learn to work with color combinations that I would never pick myself.
Since I purchased a lot of the discounted DMC floss when Wal-Mart put it up for sale for 10 cents, I am using that to match Sharon's color choices and then also to pull the fabrics for the block. I really like how this block turned out. I am also using the 5 chosen colors to do the basic seam stitches on each seam. After that, I will most likely use silk or cotton pearl for further layering of stitches. And, lastly, as some of you know, a block of mine is never finished until it's been beaded!
I also decided that each of my blocks will have the name of the month on it which will give me some practice wih my backstitching. The blocks will also each have a spider and web in the center and each will be different from the others. This should expand my web repertoire a bit. I may even try a few different threads from the one I always seem to use for the webs.
I will try to make my embellishments meaningful to the month as I am experiencing it. My January embellishments include a line of houses and trees because we spent the first week of January looking for a potential new home. New Years day is represented by some streamers and confetti on the top left. The confetti is actually printed on that fabric.
Since I have to use cotton fabrics for these blocks because my fancy fabrics are all still in storage awaiting our move, it gives me a chance to use some of the lovely Judith Baker Montano prints I purchased some time ago. In this block they are the center floral and the upper left confetti print.
At lower left you can see my bouquet of lavender. When I was feeling crummy one day in January, I looked out the window at the grey gloomy day and noticed that the lavender in our gardens was the ONLY thing blooming. It was a bright blue spot in a very drab garden.
Closeup pictures of the areas of this block can be seen in my Flickr photostream if you click on the above picture. I apologize for the less-than-normal quality of these pictures. When I took them it was very late at night and perhaps my camera was as tired as I was.
I've already begun to work on the embellishing of my February block. This morning I have stitched the basic seam treatments with the DMC and now am ready to move on to the month-appropriate embellishments. Month-appropriate things for this month are going to present very bit of a challenge as the colors! I already know I must include a daffodil since our daffodils came into full bloom her last week. And there must be birds because yesterday morning the robins and bluejays returned home to Hydrangea House. It is raining and blowing like mad today, but later we will be off to the store to buy new feeders to replace those we gave away last summer when we thought we'd be moving quickly. The new ones we will keep!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This is my first attempt at this pattern, but I simply LOVE how this doll turned out. You can find this pattern here. At the Flickr.com site there is even a group for those who are making these dolls from the pattern.
Being a novice dollmaker I had a bit of trouble sewing, turning and stuffing the legs. The arms were not as hard. I loved making the face, the base of which is a felt oval. I added a bit of chocolate wave print fabric for her hair and the pink felt cheeks. Then I used silk floss to embroider her sleeping eyes and red lips.
The body and arm fabrics are from the Robt. Kaufman line called "Every Iota" which also has a Christmas/Holiday colorway. I'm thinking that I will at least make one more of these dolls using the holiday prints and perhaps turn her into an angel with some kind of wings and a halo!
The last thing I did was iron on a label I had that says "Grandma Loves You" even though she doesn't call me Grandma. All my grands call me "Maas" and that is a long story I won't get into for now.
Stitch On Smiles!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Every year in July the CrazyQuilt Society holds a 5 day retreat in Omaha, Nebraska. And also every year Kate Hollifield (emailto:email@example.com) puts out a call to the online crazy quilting community for donation blocks that are then put together into quilts, wall hangings, etc. The finished lovely creations that she and her helper, Mona Berning, make are auctioned off during the retreat to benefit Breast Cancer research and the CQ Society scholarship fund which helps future stitchers attend the annual retreat by giving them some financial relief.
This year the dates for the retreat are July 11 - 14th, 2008 and the link above will give you some ideas of what fun is planned this year.
I had started this block last year but never finished it. So I just now finished stitching and beading this block. It's very hard to photograph black fabrics and this, my 3rd try, looks somewhat faded. But in actuality the jewel toned stitching just really pops against the black fabrics.
All the threads I used are silk pearl threads and I think most are by Rainbow Gallery. On this block I even did the spider in silk pearl since it couldn't be black. I used RG's thinner silk perle called Subtlety. The web is done with what I usually do webs with. It's a spooled metalic sewing thread by J.P.Coats that I get at Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts.
I actually plan to do more donation blocks unless life gets in the way. But now it's back to sewing & stuffing Izzy's doll, Ruby. See yesterday's post for more info on that.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Today when I was out and about running errands to Jo-Ann Fabrics, a Beauty Supply Store and Michael's, I noticed more signs of Spring. The Tulip trees are in full bloom and actually some of them are losing their blossoms already. The Ornamental Pear trees (Bradford Pear?) are in FULL bloom and gorgeous.
Out front of Hydrangea House the white cyclamen have popped up from their hiding places and the Spanish lavender's purple blooms are waving in the gentle breeze.
The Hydrangea bushes all have fat green buds and I can't believe we will be here another year and enjoy another year of the color riot they produce. Last year I thought was our last here and so I took many pictures of the bushes so that we could remember our bloom-filled years here.
In Northern California where we are located, it seems we always get a week or 10 days of beautiful weather akin to Spring right in the middle of February. It doesn't last; in fact rain and cold is forecast for the day after tomorrow. We call it our "February summer" and sometimes it is enough to keep us going until Spring truly arrives.
Today we took advantage, as our February summer wanes, and planted 8 bare root rose bushes in the rose garden that we pulled out last year. I know we will be here to enjoy their Spring bloom, but hope fervently that we will not be living here to see the Fall bloom.
Alas, my current stitching has nothing to do with flowers. I am making a special doll for my youngest granddaughter, Izzy, who is having her tonsils out a week from Tuesday. It's called a Ruby Doll and if you click on that, the group on Flickr for them will come up.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
G and I always love surprises and these wonderful flowers came today from our 3 Georgia grandchildren, Joshua, Riley and Lauren. Aren't they just so Spring-eeee?
I love tulips and it's the one bulb I have never been successful in growing at Hydrangea House. I plant them and they disappear! At least my daffodils don't disappear. However even those don't flower much. At the moment out front there is a whole lot of foliage and no buds - not even ONE! In back I think I'm a little luckier this year.
Stay tuned for Spring!
No flowers from G this year, but he made up for it big time with a combo 40th anniversary & Valentine's Day gift that blew me away.. My gift for him of a golf lesson from his club's pro looked pitiful along side, so I just finished baking him an apple pie which is his favorite dessert.
It's a far cry from one of our first Valentine's Days maybe 39 years ago. Money was tight so I painstakingly baked a chocolate cake from scratch in heart shaped pans. After carefully frosting my double layered creation, I put a can of cherry pie filling all over the top. Everyone seemed to love that cake and it was a big surprise for G. It didn't last long. Now that I think back, I probably ate most of it. I was pregnant with our 2nd daughter at the time and I've always been able to eat sweets even when I was having morning-noon-night sickness.
That Easter when I made my usual layer cake with food color dyed coconut grass and candy eggs on top (did I tell you I loved cake?) I noticed that G didn't have any. He finally confessed that he didn't care much for cake; he actually liked pie better. And, "oh, by the way," he says, " I hate cherries."
40 years later I make jokes about cherries and beets, which he also hates. But this year the man deserves everything he loves for dinner: a pasta dish he loves, salad, french bread and apple pie, which I've grown to like too!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I have decided to stretch myself a bit in the color department this year and so will be making 8 inch crazyquilt blocks which I will then put together into a wall quilt perhaps. Along the way I will embellish each month with things appropriate for the month.
I immediately found that was glad to have stocked up on DMC floss when Wal-mart discontinued it. With the help of my DMC color chart that I bought at Jo-Ann's Fabrics with my 40% coupon, I am able to find Sharon's colors each month making it easier to pull the fabrics for each block.
January's colors that I found are shown on the left of the photo. They are from bottom to top: 504, 822, 501, 340 & 333.
Now to embellish January!
I've finally caught up and actually gotten a head on the round robin that I'm in on the Crazyquilting Int'l list. It's a Jewels on Black RR.
I was half done with Leslie's block when I fell ill with that wierd bug. I had about finished with it when, lo and behold, along came Sossity's block which was next in the rotation. I've actually gotten them both done now and sent off together to Hideko in Japan. The picture here is of the fly stitch lace I did on Leslie's block.
Scroll down for all the detail pictures of my work on Leslie's(4 pics) and Sossity's(3 pics) blocks. As always there is more detailed info if you click on the block to enlarge it.
The next picture below is another seam of layered stitches on Leslie's block - all done with Rainbow Gallery silk pearl threads. I used gold because she included some gold embellished fabrics on her "all black" block and I thought I should spread the gold around the block a bit.
Next is the gold sewing thread spider and web I did on one patch of Leslie's block. I tried to position it so that one of the other stitchers could surround it with some pretty silk ribbon or embroidered flowers.
The next picture is of the 4th and last seam I did on Leslie's block. It's featherstitching in silk pearl and then I added detached chain stitches and beads.
Below that is the first seam I did on Sossity's block. It's a more simple fly stitch lace run because of the seams position on the block. On the top are some lazy daisy clusters. Again it was all done with RG silk pearl.
Next on Sossity's block is a silk pearl patch motif that I built around a vintage hand carved mother of pearl ring with added beads.
Finally the last picture added of Sossity's block is of a double run of cretan stitch on a seam done with YLI "jeans thread" that is a variated thread with all jewel tones. Can you tell I love the cretan stitch? Of course I also added some beads!
Now I'm off to work on my January and February Take it Further challenges. Phew! Hope to catch up by the end of February!