Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stitching Along in May

I love these posts that have ready-made titles!

It's time for our Stitch Along group to share their progress (or lack thereof!). I'm happy to report I have some progress to share. Not a lot, but enough. As my shoulder continues to improve I'm doing a little less embroidery and a bit more of other activities.

Technically I'm supposed to be embroidering the second in the series of gingerbread houses from Joy McDonald. I have at least traced the house onto my foundation fabric. No stitches have been taken yet though. Instead I have stitched on the other two projects I worked on while I waited for the house pattern to be released. This tea towel:


On which I have given the butterflies yellow spots on their wingtips and stitched most of one of the flowers:


I think there are a couple of accent stitches that still need to be put in on the main blossom. The pattern didn't transfer as cleanly on this half of the towel as it did on the other. I blame my ancient, warped ironing board for that.

The other project I've been making slow progress on is this pillow cover from Sublime Stitching.


It may be hard to discern any progress on this piece but trust me, it's there. 😉


I've finished up all the darker green lines and started putting in some of the stars.

I have two needlepoint projects in the works as well. You can read about them in this post.

The stitchers in this SAL live all over the globe and each works on her own project. If you'd like to join our ranks you can let Avis know via her blog.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaKathyMargaret
CindyHelenLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganCatherine
DeborahConnieClare, Mary MargaretReneeJennyCarmelaJocelynSharon 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in May

I've finally been able to do some actual piecing! Kate has undertaken to make yet another quilt to raise funds for ovarian cancer research in her part of Australia. She's soliciting star blocks featuring teal prints on cream backgrounds, any technique, the scrappier the better. To that end I started piecing some little 1.5" squares together into three inch 9 Patch blocks, Those became the centers for liberated stars, six inches each.


They turned out to be rather squat stars! Then I found a 16 patch unit I'd pieced at some point in the past. I used it for the center of this Ohio Star variation:


I've been piecing 1.5" strips together into what I'm calling stick blocks as my current leader/ender project. Finished up the single Shoo-fly block I had patches cut for too.


Mind you, these four blocks were made over the space of probably four months. One seam at a time. So-o-o slowly. I have to admit that having made the two star blocks over the space of two days has taken its' toll. {sigh} Time to rest the shoulder again. It's hard to stop when you're having fun!

Scrap Happy Day is organized by Kate and Gun. You can see what they and others have been doing with their scraps by clicking on their names below. Be prepared for lots of inspiration!

KateGun, TittiHeléneEva, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.



Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Horse of Another Color

Before I ever started piecing and quilt making I was active in the needlearts. It began with traditional embroidery, as it has with so many others. I tried crewel work and cross stitch, blackwork, Swedish weaving, and latch hook rug making. The interest that surpassed them all in those days was needlepoint. I still have many of the books I collected back then - even though I can't safely read or look through most of them. If I'd known there was a certificate or degree program in the textile arts I would have taken that route when I was pushed into college. Instead I found myself in business administration courses. The best part of my college years wasn't the official education I was getting or even the friends I made. It was the access to glorious shops full of colorful yarns and intriguing painted canvases in south central Ohio.

I doubt those shops exist now, although I have not taken the time to find out. Both of the shops we had in this area that catered to needle artists have closed. Obviously I can - and have to, in general - shop online but it just isn't the same. You can't see the colors or feel the textures the way you can in person. But I'm probably preaching to the choir here. Back to the point...

I put away my needles and threads and canvases when the children came along. It just wasn't practical to have those sharp things and expensive materials laying out where little hands could get hold of them. We didn't have a lot of room in those days either, for putting things out of reach. So a lot of it got packed up and put away more or less permanently. Some of it went away altogether. It was only a matter of time before I had to find new ways to relieve stress and that's when piecing quilt blocks came along. They've had a firm hold on me right up until I injured my shoulder in January.

Regular readers will know that I have returned to the needlearts as my shoulder is slowly healing. You've seen the little needlepoint cases I've been churning out. As you know, one thing leads to another. I've found groups on Facebook where stitchers meet and share their work and questions. I've discovered Fiber Talk and Stitchery Stories, a couple of podcasts I've been enjoying and learning from. I have also unearthed one needlepoint canvas I couldn't bear to part with when I was purging my supplies back in the day. It occurs to me that this is probably my oldest UFO. It dates from the end of the 1970's.


The image area is ten inches wide and about 7.25" high. The horses are all stitched in DMC floss. The background was stitched with a wool yarn, probably Paternayan. I can see two reasons why I stopped work on this piece. I didn't know how to meld the upright mosaic stitch I used in the background with the tent stitches of the horses. Worse than that, it doesn't look like I have enough of the wool to complete the background. This wool has to be a good 40 years old. I doubt I could even begin to get a matching dye lot, especially since there doesn't appear to be the hint of a label in the bag this was stored in.

I still don't know exactly how best to move from the textured background stitches to the smooth tent stitching of the horses. What I have decided to do, at least for the moment, is to use what wool I have left to fill in around the horses with more tent stitching. I'm also going to remove a good deal of the background. I may have to remove all of it eventually. I don't yet know what I'll use to replace it, either thread type or color. The removal process has already begun. Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy!


The other thing I'm discovering is that I'm not all that interested in doing fancy stitches for the background, which seems to be the popular thing to do these days. Frankly, I enjoy doing tent stitch, basketweave style. I find it soothing. I do not enjoy working with the wool yarn however. Having filled in around the horses with tent stitch in that wool provides a nice contrast in texture and color but I'm going to want to transition to something else somehow. I also like the idea of preserving at least a tiny bit of the original materials used on this piece back in the day. I may try to keep some of those mosaic stitches, maybe around the perimeter or just along the bottom. I've come to a place in my life where I can work on this just to please myself, no one else. That's an accomplishment in itself.

In the meantime, I've also succumbed to temptation and purchased a small hand painted canvas to stitch. 😁

The image is only about 5.5" tall and 3" wide but there's lots of canvas around it for me to play with one way or another. You may be able to see that I bought this from The Wool and The Floss in Michigan. I learned about the shop from one of the older Fiber Talk podcasts and fell in love with this guy immediately while browsing their website. A hand painted canvas is a real splurge for me. No guessing where the stitches are meant to go though, so it should be a joy to stitch. Plus it gives me the perfect excuse to use some of the delicious floss I've been accumulating from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe! 

This seems to be a rather link-heavy post. I'm not getting any kickbacks from anyone, just so you know.




Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Easing Back Into Piecing

My local quilt guild has been working on a project for the community. They've been making Christmas stockings to be distributed to Meals on Wheels clients during the season. When it was first announced my shoulder injury was fresh so I declined to participate. Now they're very close to the goal of 250 stockings but not quite there. My abilities are still limited but much improved so I decided to see what I could do. I understand a lot of the stockings are whole cloth, front and back. Sorry, but that's too boring for me. 😉Plus this was an opportunity for me to use up (or at least use) holiday prints I've had far too long.

I started with what I believe is a Debbie Mumm print. I had a fat quarter. The angels are large-enough scale that I couldn't figure out how to use them at the time. For example, this angel is 8" tall. The stocking is about 12.5" tall overall.


I completed that stocking over the course of a day. Any other time I probably could have had it done in a matter of a few hours (or less!). This next one was built over three days. I was involved in some household chores at the time and had to pace myself.


During the process of making this one I came to realize what some of the movements are that aggravate my shoulder. Picking up my 6" x 24" ruler with my right hand is one of them. Of course I've set my studio up the most efficient way possible to accommodate my right handedness. {sigh} I will have to continue to go slowly with my piecing activities. These stocking fronts were foundation pieced onto muslin, so aside from fussy cutting the angels it wasn't too bad. It was laying out and cutting the backs and lining pieces that became problematic even though I used scissors for that process. Still, this is a step in the right direction. 😊


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Happy May Day

The first of May was never very significant when I was growing up. It wasn't until about 20 years ago that we experienced the tradition of having someone leave a small basket of fresh flowers hanging from our front door handle. What a special treat that was! We knew the flowers were home grown but it was the thoughtful surprise that truly warmed our hearts.


It would be fun to make up little baskets and leave them for friends and neighbors. Wish I could! In lieu of that let me share with you a few pictures I took during a drive through our beautiful valley the other day. The following photos were all taken through the windows of my vehicle so they may not be as clear or pristine as I'd like.

First off, one corner downtown:


And then we'll drive westward, toward the fields where the daffodils and tulips are grown for their bulbs. The daffs are all spent, most of the bulbs harvested by now. But the trees in the area are wearing their spring greens or delicate white or pink flowers.


We find the tulip fields in the flatlands.


There are a couple of growers who have huge display gardens open to the public during the month of April. I wasn't willing to take the risk of getting out of the car to take those tours however.


It may be hard to tell, but all that yellow is tulips. And beyond them, purple, then red.

Eventually the tulips have to be "topped" to insure the bulbs store up as much potential for future growth as possible.


I'm not sure how it's done but all the petals are removed, leaving the stems and leaves in place. The local high school has a tradition of collecting the various color petals to create logos or images representing their various clubs and organizations. They are built on the lawns around campus. It's quite a sight. Certainly one I'd never seen before until we moved here. 😊Sorry I don't have a picture of that to show you.


I always find it a little sad to see the color in the ditches between the rows of stems and leaves. There are still tulips to enjoy around town though. And the flowering trees. There will soon be lilacs and irises, then peonies and lilies. There's wisteria, azaleas, and rhododendrons too. My rose bushes are looking healthier than I expected so I have hopes of fragrant roses again this summer. Ah, Spring!