Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Double Dog Dare Ya!

I have been reading and corresponding with A Creative Dreamer for a while now. We have developed something of a mutual admiration society. We have also cooked up a little ATC (artist trading card) swap.

If you read the comments I get you may know that Creative Dreamer dared me to make a fabric ATC when I was wondering what I would tackle next. I laughed when I read that but you know what? I turned right around and made this:

It's 2.5" x 3.5," fabric, thread, beads, and sequins. Oh, and a charm. I used a scrap of batting (Warm & Natural) as interfacing and put a piece of watercolor paper on the back. Took me at most a couple of hours to make. And it was fun! I was surprised that it turned out to be so much like the one of the squares I made for the Pink Artists Doll (a detail of which I use for my profile picture).

Anyway, Creative Dreamer and I have decided that we would like to invite others to try their hands at making fabric ATC's for a one-on-one swap. CD will be the swap hostess so you need to go to her blog to formally sign up. You don't need to have a blog of your own, although it would be best if you can send her a digital image of your finished ATC so she can post it with all the others after the swap. You have until Feb. 15 to sign up for the swap and then the finsihed ATC needs to be mailed to your swap partner by March 15. (We figured a short deadline would keep anyone from forgetting about their commitment!)

Paper artists are trading ATC's all the time. I actually begged this one off of Creative Dreamer:

I know fiber artsits have also been making ATC's; I just never jumped into the pool until CD dared me. I intvite you to jump in also, if you haven't already. The water's fine!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Video: Living With MCS

I just found out about this video report done by a news station in Anchorage, Alaska and have to share it with my friends and readers. I tried to add it here but wasn't able to figure out the procedure quickly so just click here and then click on each of the two screens for the whole story.

It's hard to hear the physician in the story say that MCS is not quantifiable and therefore stands less of a chance of being recognized by the AMA as a valid affliction. He's right about it not being quantifiable because every person with this disorder reacts differently to different levels of chemicals and a different variety of chemicals. Every BODY is different. What upsets my system may not affect another person with MCS. However, that does not mean this is not a real physical phenomenon. Like the daughter in the story, my family members can testify to the reality of what happens to me when I encounter something my body can't handle.

I also had to chuckle when I saw the cat one woman lives with. So many people don't understand how I can live with a dog (two dogs at the moment) and not be affected by seasonal allergies but then am completely incapacitated by a whiff of perfume or hair spray. That's the mystery of MCS. And the mystery is what keeps the medical community from coming to our aid.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Triangle Tuesday

No, I'm not starting a new blogger challenge. I'm showing you what I've done with a whole lot of itty-bitty triangles. ;- )

I have this pretty coiled fabric bowl made by my friend Heather. I've been using it as a place to collect the squares and rectangles I make out of the scrap triangles that I've been sewing together as leaders and enders. The bowl was getting to the point of overflowing so I thought I'd better do something about it.

I dumped out the bowl, sorted the bits by size and shape, and started sewing things together. This is what I ended up with:

None of these blocks/units are very big. For example, the brown and ecru Broken Dishes blocks in the middle of the design wall would finish at 2.5." The largest Broken Dishes block (in the top row) will finish at 4.5."

Now my bowl looks like this:

I may play with the stuff on the design wall a bit more today, or I may dive into this and make some more things to play with!

Yes, my book is finally ready for me to read and enjoy. (Actually, it was ready late Sunday and I've already read through it once.) Since I'm sort of between major projects at the moment I'm thinking of dedicating the next couple of days to experimenting with some of the liberated blocks I've never tried before. I own and have read every single Liberated Quiltmaking book Gwen has been involved in but I never really understood what she was saying about making those corner units for the Shoo Fly block. This time I finally got it. Duh! So of course now I'm excited about actually trying my hand at it to see if I really do understand. I know it's not rocket science; sometimes we just get blocked by the simplest things - no pun intended!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


We got a call in the middle of the night Thursday -- Friday morning really. DD was in labor and going to the hospital. Next thing we heard she was being taken by amublance to the nearest hospital with an neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU). We opted to get as much sleep as possible before making the trip down, about 30 miles south of where we live.
She was still in labor when we arrived and the babies were doing fine. We waited... and waited... and the contractions stopped. DD has done this before, with her other two pregnancies. She'll labor for a day, then stop for 24 hours or so, and then go into hard labor and deliver. The doctors decided to put her back on the anti-contraction medication and keep her in the hospital. Maybe until she finally hits the 36 week mark. I half expect to get a call later today saying that she's back in labor or has already delivered the twins. I won't be going back to attend the birth. The hand sanitizers and other chemicals in use in the hospital were too much for my system. I was fortunate that my husband was around the other day so he could get me home after our three hours or so in the birthing room and hallways. I will, however, make the trip again to see the babies as soon as I can.

In the meantime, in my effort to figure out how to control the scrap population here in the Magpie's Nest I have been playing with the leftovers from Sunflower's quilt. I've been cutting 3.5" squares from bigger remnants ever since I had so much fun making my Fungly Quilt. I'd built up quite a collection of them so I used those in conjunction with the larger scraps to make these liberated stars:

I had some offcut triangles I sewed together too, and I made a few crumb blocks. The two you see here are 6.5" in their raw state.

I have more bits that have been pieced together but aren't really big enough to be anything yet. I suspect that my Parts Department is going to look slightly different from Gwen or Freddy's Parts Department. Theirs consists of completed blocks, like my orphan blocks. I think mine is going to consist of pieced bits that could become blocks.

Oh, and my copy of Liberated Quiltmaking II arrived in yesterday's mail. Hurray! I can't wait for my son or DH to get it taken apart for me. I may even risk the fumes to take a quick peek. The wiser course might be to sew some more scraps together while I'm impatiently waiting... But we can't be wise all the time, right? ;- )

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sun and Done!

Look what we had today!

It takes sunshine to make shadows.

And inside...

Sunflower's quilt is officially finished. Woohoo!

No, you don't get to see the quilting up close. ;- ) It's pretty basic; all I did was outline the stars and then run a line of stitching just inside the purple border. Somehow I managed to bleed on the quilt even though I was machine quilting. (I'm so talented!) I think it happened when I was taking out some basting pins. Fortunately I knew about the trick to use your own saliva to get the blood out.

The question now is, what to tackle next?

Oh, by the way, DD's pregnancy is officially at 34 weeks and she is completely miserable. A C-section is starting to sound good to this young woman who previously was determined to bring her twins into the world naturally. Her doctor is now shooting for 36 weeks, at which time DD will be taken off the anti-contraction medication. At that point we'll probably have babies within 48 hours one way or another.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helping Haiti

Like everyone else I've been overwhelmed and tortured by the pictures and stories coming out of Haiti after the earthquake. I've already donated money to Americares but it felt like such a little drop in such a huge bucket. Today, courtesy of Michele at Quilting With Heart and Hands, I found out about a fund raising effort through

Artists and crafters are donating their handmade goods to be sold on in a special shop on The funds are going directly to Doctors Without Borders. To that end I have submitted two pin dolls I made a few years ago. They probably won't show up on the site for a few days since this whole effort is being spearheaded by a couple of stay at home moms with young children. If you're interested, though, these are the dolls I'm donating:

They are both about 4" tall, hand beaded, have a pin finding sewn to their backs, and are signed by the artist (me!). They're fun to wear or just hang on a wall to brighten up an empty spot. :- )

Even though my dolls may not be listed for a few days I would encourage you to hop over to the Craft Hope Etsy shop and see whether there isn't something there now that you could use or purchase as a gift for someone you love. There's lots of good stuff available!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January BJP... and February's Too?

I appreciate all the helpful suggestions for hanging my BJP ornaments. I appreciate the positive response to my work too! I believe I have come up with a way to create a hanging loop that I can use throughout the Bead Journal Project. You can see a bit at the top of January's ornament.

Basically I threaded a strand of #5 perle cotton between the face and the back. Adding a bead at that point made the string follow the diamond point more closely. That was a happy accident. Then to create a closed loop I knotted the two ends of the perle cotton together, added another bead for decoration, knotted the ends again, and then trimmed the threads short. You can see what I'm talking about in this picture:

Which happens to be the hanging loop for the second ornament I made!

I bought the Jack Skellington pin on clearance after Christmas this year (my one trip to the mall, possibly for the whole year). Over the years I've collected a whole bunch of little things like this with the intention of using them in my artwork someday. This is the first time I've used one so soon after acquiring it!

I didn't make this to be February's BJP, but I did intend to use red in my February piece. And I do love Jack and the Nightmare Before Christmas and Tim Burton and Halloween. Since we don't know when the twins will be born, and life is likely to get a little chaotic once they are, maybe it's a good thing this ornament appeared when it did. ;- )

I've had the devil of a time getting decent pictures of these pieces. One is too light and sparkly, the other too dark. And it's been cloudy and overcast outside, making it darker inside. When I try to get a good image of the beads on the red piece the red background turns a weird shade. I am no photographer, that's for sure. I've even used both cameras. It's very frustrating. In case you can't tell, those are bats (rescued from Halloween earrings also purchased on clearance one year) filling in the top and bottom of the red ornament. It truly looks much better in person.

I've done some other beading since finishing up these two pieces but I'll save that for another post. (It's not another BJP ornament!) The urge to bead has subsided somewhat so I'm thinking it may be time to go back and quilt Sunflower's quilt now. The sewing table was cleared off a bit to give me room to do my beadwork. It will be a simple matter to clear the decks further to make room for the bulk of the quilt. Better to get it done, if I can, before those babies show up. By the way, DD is doing fine. She is having to go in twice a week now for non-stress tests - to make sure the babies aren't stressed. Guess the fact that getting there is stressful for DD is irrelevant.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January BJP - Almost Done!

I have been adding beads and sequins to my ornament for January. Right from the get-go it took an unexpected turn but I'm happy with the way it has developed. My long range vision for these ornaments was for them to be heavily beaded, encrusted even. However, this one looks much like the other bead-embellished items I've made in the past. I've decided that I'm okay with that; I figure it will show where I started from on this year's journey.

I've come to the point where I need to make a decision about how to add a hanging loop at the top of my diamond. I've debated whether to cut a small hole in the fabric, batting, Peltex, and watercolor paper (which will be the back of the ornament) and then string a ribbon or cord through the hole. Will I need to finish the raw edges of the fabric around the hole?

Another option I've considered is to simply stitch a ribbon in along the top edge when I machine stitch the four sides of the diamond. This morning I thought of a third option: to stitch that pewter circle you see in the picture to the front of the ornament and then loop a ribbon through it. Right now that sounds like the most appealing solution because it would be the easiest. My concern is whether the ornament will then hang forward rather than more vertically. Anyone out there have any experience with something like this?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not Much to Report

You know how you get that burst of inspiration and the energy that goes with it... and then you run up against the first wall? That's kind of where I am at the moment.

DH has moved his desk and file cabinet out of what will become my sitting room but there's a lot of work to be done before it will be empty enough for me to begin moving in. I have drawn the room dimensions out on graph paper, and made a few graph-paper representations of the bigger pieces of furniture I'm considering using in there, but that's about all I can do at this point. I've also been monitoring the listings on our local craigslist just in case there's a bookcase or something I could use in there. The trouble with that is I keep seeing other cool pieces of furniture that I either can't afford or have absolutely no use for!

I have to make a conscious effort to turn my attention away from the new room and back to my bead embroidery or quilting. With luck I will get some more beads sewn onto January's ornament later today or first thing tomorrow.

Mr. Reilly has been to the groomer again. He has to go in every 6-8 weeks. Almost exactly the same amount of time I can go between haircuts myself!

DD is holding steady. The last ultrasound revealed nothing new or concerning, thank goodness. One of her nightmares is that when she gives birth there will actually be three babies in there! There's no real reason to think such a thing of course, but that's the way a pregnant woman's mind works. Tuesday will be 33 weeks. The doctor's goal of 35 seems a lot more achievable now, I have to say.

Oh, there is another bit of excitement on the horizon. When I learned that Gwen Marston's revised edition of Liberated Quiltmaking was a softcover book I immediately ordered one. I have her original Liberated Quiltmaking; it's a hardcover book. I wouldn't even consider having it taken apart and the pages put in sleeves so it's safer for me to read again. But I have no reservations anymore about subjecting a softcover book to that process if I think it's something I'll use and refer to often.

Liberated Quiltmaking II definitely qualifies!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Second Thoughts

I'm movin' a little slowly after crawling around on the floor to pin baste Sunflower's quilt, but it's done.

Now I just have to find the energy to manhandle it under the sewing machine!

Maybe in a few days. I'm more than a little distracted by the thought of taking over the little bedroom. As it turns out, DH is more willing to let me have it than I expected. We may even be moving his things out this weekend!

I have already changed my mind about how I'm going to use the room. It occurred to me that it might be wiser to keep all the sewing activities together in one place. My projects tend to overlap in terms of techniques and materials. I don't want to have half of my stash in one room and the rest in another. Instead I think I'll move my computer into the little room, along with a selection of reference books and fiction. I'll turn it into more of a library than a studio annex.

I'd like it to have the feel of a sitting room, feminine and cozy. It would be wonderful to be able to paint the walls a color but I don't know that we'll take the time to do that. (I would like to try out a no-VOC paint to see whether I can tolerate it or not. I know regular paints are out of the question.) I'm anxious to have a dedicated spot for beading. If I can find something to put the computer monitor on in the little room I can use the desk it sits on now for my beading station. The trick will be in figuring out what furniture to use where, and to keep from over-filling the room. Dreams are one thing, reality tends to be something else altogether. ;- )

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Plotting & Planning

During the holidays we were spoiled with some lovely sunny, dry weather. It has since turned gray and wet again. But look what I found in my picure files:

Happy spring flowers! As I recall, it was a gray day when I took this picture. But no matter, it cheers me up to see these floral embodiments of sunshine.

I'm pleased to report that yesterday I got the borders on both the back of Sunflower's quilt...

and the top.

Now to the task of pin basting. I've decided this is the step of the quiltmaking process that I like the least. I'm afraid to go somewhere where I know there will be plenty of room in which to work. I think I can do it here at home on the living room floor; it's just a hassle. And then the sewing machine will be consumed with getting this beast quilted. Makes me think again about having a second machine set up just for piecing. In fact, with the Bead Journal Project underway again I'm wanting a more permanent place to do my beadwork too.

We have a tiny little bedroom in this house, about 9 by 10 feet or something like that. DH is currently using it as an office/storage room but isn't really happy in there. It's too bright and warm for him because of the south-facing window.

I prefer bright and warm.

It would be lovely to be able to sit in there and do my bead embroidery or read and occasionally look out the window at the backyard. It would also give me additional wall space to display the art I keep making and collecting.

Moving even just a bookcase and my bead storage out of the studio proper would relieve some of the pressure in there. It might even be possible to create enough room for a second sewing machine... But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First I have to figure out how to get DH out of the little bedroom, where to put him and his stuff...

Ooo, I could have a Studio and a Studio Annex! I'm liking this idea!

I think DH's days in that room are numbered. ;-)


P.S. DD is at 32 weeks today and is still hangin' in there. She has another ultrasound tomorrow and sees her OB on Thursday. So far, so good!

Monday, January 4, 2010

It Feels So Good...

to finally feel good again! Let's hope when I go out this afternoon I don't blow it. ;- )

On top of feeling better physically I had an exciting experience last night. I got out my beads, thinking I would get started on my BJP piece for January. My original intention was to bead the number 2010 and then fill in around it in whatever way felt good, using white and iridescent and silver beads. Well, I just couldn't face writing out 2010 in beads. Nor could I find something in my stash that could be altered to make the appropriate numbers. I got out my little white plastic beads that already have the numbers printed on them but that didn't have the look I wanted at all. Instead of giving up (which I might have done under other circumstances) I tried to expand my concept of what the January ornament could be about.

I've been collecting face beads and charms for some time now. I have a growing collection of words and phrases too, courtesy of mostly. I decided this might be a good time to finally put some of them to use.

The photo above was taken with our big Canon Rebel. The detail shot below came from a picture I took with my new little Canon. I'm very happy with it.

As I was securing these few pieces to my foundation I felt like my inner artist or some wise part of me was communicating with me. That's the magic of working intuitively, and the magic of the Bead Journal Project. This work is more intimate than the blocks or quilts I create without a preconceived plan in mind. Finishing a quilt is very satisfying, and it feels good to know I can bless others with the work of my hands, but this bead embroidery project has the potential to be very healing. For me. And it's possible that I may have found a theme for my BJP ornaments this year. I really like the idea of using a face in each one. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but I think there's a lot of potential there.

I forced myself to put away the beads this morning so I can focus on putting the final border on Sunflower's quilt top. This is the fabric I chose:

I think it will tie in all the other colors I used in the stars pretty well. When I was shopping for that border I also found one for the back:

I was given a big piece of a floral stripe that will run vertically down the center of the back of the quilt. I thought I would use another floral to make up the width but I couldn't find anything I liked. Then I saw these guys. Are they cute or what?! Every little girl need some goofy dragons in her flower garden!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for the coming year to all my blogging friends and readers. :- )

We brought the new year in rather quietly, watching movies rather than any of the televised celebrations. I did a bit of shopping for border fabric for Sunflower's quilt in the last few days of 2009 and that has left me feeling under the weather. Fortunately it's simply a matter of being patient and waiting for the effects to wear off.

This is how I put the stars for Sunflower's quilt together:

My plan is to float the blocks by adding an inner border of the fairy print and then bring the whole thing up to size with a wide colorful border. I also have fabric in hand for the back. What I lack is batting. Maybe JoAnn's will have a sale or a good coupon deal soon.

Meanwhile, I have also committed to a shape for my Bead Journal Project pieces.

I've even prepared the foundation for my first piece. I will probably get the quilt top to a flimsy state before I get out the beads though.

I don't know whether you can see it or not but this fabric is white with silver metallic sprinkled all over it. My thinking has been that the new year is like a blank slate so I've been planning for this first ornament to be white and silver. I intend to finish these pieces the same way I would a fiber postcard with a piece of Peltex to stiffen it and watercolor paper on the back. I'll also add a ribbon or cord so they can function as an ornament and be hung on a tree or on a wall or wherever. I'm excited about this new adventure.