Saturday, December 31, 2011

Closing Out the Year

I'm delighted to report that I have completed eleven of the twelve ATC's I committed to for the Bead Journal Project in 2011. With a little luck I will get number twelve done this weekend. Wahoo!

My mother had two sisters, one older and one younger. My mother and her elder sister passed away within the last decade. My remaining maternal aunt passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in September of this year. I wanted to honor her in some way with my September ATC for the BJP. I came up with several possible designs. Finally I decided it had to be about the three of them rather than just the one sister.

I started by spelling out their names with letter beads. Then I remembered some shiny tulle I'd run through my felting machine. It's all shirred up in a lovely texture. I laid that over the beaded names and tacked it down with some pearly white seed beads (thanks Julie! they were part of that multicolor mix you sent me). It seemed appropriate to lay flowers on the graves, as it were, so I did. Before I secured the sheer around the perimeter of the ATC I stitched a silver dove sequin under it and added the holographic heart on top.

I used the colorful letters for Judy's name because not only was she the most recent to pass, she was far more relaxed in her approach to the use of color in her textile art.

In November I was busy finishing up quilts and quilt tops. Then at the end of the month I bought some Halloween prints on sale at my LQS and they inspired a whole new quilt! For November's ATC I pieced scraps from that project together and embellished them with a few charms that echo the imagery in the blocks in the quilt.

The bat is a button that was part of my gift package from my sister in law this Christmas - thanks Carol! I was wondering how I would fill that corner and it's perfect!

Even though I still have to make my ATC for December I've already made a separate page for my 2011 Bead Journal Projct on this blog. You can click on the tab at the top of this page or simply click here to see what I've made so far this year.

I will be participating in the 2012 Bead Journal Project and am looking forward to the creative stretch it will give me in the coming year. I'm starting the year with only this gentle stretch - no ambitious goals for me this time around! There are plenty of projects already in the Magpie's Nest that I'd like to tackle without adding any new ones. ;- )

Happy New Year to us all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

She's Baaaack!

Not me, appropriate as that would be. No, I'm talking about Phoebe, my little Pfaff. Well, little compared to Ruby Blue, my newer sewing machine. This is Ruby Blue:

While she's great for assembling blocks into rows, and rows into tops, and she makes quilting a lot easier to accomplish...

I found her wider feed dogs problematic for the more intricate work I like to do.

So for Christmas my husband and my son conspired to make it possible for me to have both Phoebe and Ruby Blue. All we have to do now is make room in the studio for both machines.

I want to keep them both out and ready for action. I think it will be possible, and at the same time I may finally get that sitting room I talked about two years ago. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just dropping in briefly to wish all my readers a happy Christmas Day. :- )

We're going to have the whole family together part of the day -
one of the best gifts ever!
We haven't been able to pull this off since our children became adults
and moved away from home.

I wish all my blogging friends a day full of joy and moments of peace
in which to reflect on the gifts our Father in Heaven
has bestowed on all of us.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stars Over the Punkin Patch

There has been a lot of deliberation involved in the making of this quilt top. First of all, how many stars did I want to make?

I debated between 35 stars and 48 stars. I wanted the size 48 blocks would give me but frankly, after 35 I'd had enough. That's when I realized that if I cut the pumpkin print that helped start this whole project into wide borders I could easily achieve the size I wanted.

So I stopped at 35 nine inch blocks.

Finally I got them all on the wall...

and had to arrange and rearrange them until I achieved what I felt was the most balanced distribution. (This is not it by the way.)

I debated over whether to just slap the pumpkin print borders on or whether to insert a flat piping or tiny inner border... and in the end I got impatient and just put the pumpkins on.

I made a small error in that I only cut the strips 4.5" wide instead of five inches so they'll finish at four inches instead of the 4.5" I wanted. Oh well! It's done. I do feel like it could use something... a transition between the stars and the border or something. But I'm hoping that a black binding will give it the finishing touch and pull it all together. I'm going to put it away for the time being, maybe create a back, and see what it looks like when I have fresher eyes. For now I think it's time to turn my attention to getting caught up with my Bead Journal Project ATC's for the year. :- )

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Still Here

I've been feeling better for a few days now but have been using that time to make a few Christmas gifts and get them ready for shipping. I would show you what I've made but I don't want to take a chance on spoiling what little surprise there will be. ;- ) And I know I forgot to take pictures of a couple of the items. My bad.

I do have something to share though. For a couple of years now I've been using a form I developed to keep track of the various projects I was either working on or wanted to work on. The day came, however, when I wanted something more visual to keep me motivated. I sketched out some ideas in my studio journal:

I went to our local Office Depot to see what they might have that I could use or adapt. I'd looked at project boards and flow charts online. There are white boards and such that could have worked were they not so expensive and so stinky. I was beginning to think I would have to shelve this project when I found packages of cork strips. I bought them in the hope that I'd be able to find something at home on which to mount them. Turns out I had the perfect thing!

This is a piece of bead board my husband had turned into an easel for displaying the fairy dolls I used to make and sell. I took off the easel part, removed the protruding screws, and stuck the cork strips down with the adhesive tape that came in the packages. It's about 12 inches by 15 inches.

I also found these at Office Depot:

How could I not buy them?!

So now I have this hanging on the wall over my desk in the studio:

Working from left to right, the first column is for projects I want to make or have committed to making but I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do yet. The second column is for projects I've begun, the third for Works in Progress (I'm well into them but they're not close to being done yet). The fourth column is currently labeled "Flimsy," meaning the top is complete and I have to make a back. The fifth column is for quilts that need binding. The last column on the right is where I'm pinning the projects that have made their way all across the board and are DONE! I'm using the two horizontal strips across the bottom to pin up ideas for future projects.

So far this system is working pretty well. I think I'm going to need to fine tune the "Flimsy" and "Binding" columns but I haven't quite figured out what I want to do yet. The DONE! column is filling up in a satisfying way. The child in me enjoys marching the squares across the board as the projects progress from one stage to the next. I can easily arrange and rearrange priorities too. I've pinned up my Ben&Jerry's bumper sticker right below the board to remind myself "If it's not fun why do it?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time For A Change

We are experiencing a stagnant air alert here on the north left coast of the USA. Consequently I'm having more trouble than usual. Can't poke my head out the door without being affected. There's been no progress on the Halloween stars; I've neither made more nor put what I already have on the design wall to see what else I might want.

It felt like a major accomplishment yesterday to make two of these little six inch basket blocks:

The snowflake background and peppermint candies in the basket are as close as I've come to the Christmas spirit so far this season. At least in the quilt studio. Our fresh-cut tree is up and the lights are on, courtesy of my son. I've managed to put out the Christmas hand towels and potholders. My fear is that by the time we get everything ready for Christmas it will be New Year's! Hopefully it won't be long before the high pressure in our atmosphere lifts so the air can clear a bit. And maybe then I'll have some energy again...

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Stars

I'm up to 35 of these liberated stars now. It's time to throw them on the wall and see whether I want to sash them or make more blocks or.... ?

The colors in this jack o'lantern block don't look quite right in spite of my tweaking. The yellow is an orange-y yellow and the black bats are flying around on a warm chocolate brown background. It's really quite striking in person.

One of the problems I'm having is getting enough contrast between my star points and the dark backgrounds. Part of it is the palette I've chosen to work in but I think another part is the way I've been feeling lately. The darker blocks reflect the dampening of my spirit by chemical poisoning.

I have concerns about some of the backgrounds being too busy.

I'm sure it will all shake out in the end, one way or another. It's the more muted blocks that let the brighter ones shine after all. Unexpected things happen when you work this way, and happy accidents occur as often as not. I'm thinking more and more that the pumpkin print yardage I bought (see previous post) will end up as borders. They will go a long way toward brightening up the blocks, that's for sure!