Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bee, Myself & I in February - Sort Of

 Bee, Myself & I is meant to be a bit of handicraft (sewing, knitting, whatever) one does for one's own pleasure and not to fulfill anyone else's needs or goals. It was instituted by Carla over at Granny Maud's Girl.

Last month I did some bead embroidery. I did not pick up any beads this month. Instead I embroidered the first block in Joy's block of the month program.

I stitched this on the same pale mottled yellow I used for the piece I showed in the previous post, using Nancy's hand dyed flosses again. I altered the pattern just a bit. There were little squiggles of new growth coming off the vine. I chose to embroider tiny leaves instead. The pattern may have printed off a bit smaller than the original; it didn't seem possible to stitch those squiggles in a recognizable way. If I stay on track this will be the first of a set of nine blocks. The eventual quilt will not be for me in all likelihood so technically this wouldn't qualify for a Bee, Myself and I project. The embroidery was just what I needed a the time though.

I have another project that also partially qualifies. I bought this chair several years ago, basically off the side of the road. Back then it looked much better than it does in this recent picture.

The back shows you better what it looked like back in the day.

The appeal of this chair was it's more delicate scale. It's not a man-sized wing back, it was built for a lady. To begin with I had this chair in my bedroom. More recently James has been using it at his desk in his workroom. (We are a family of small-scale people. 😉) I don't want you to think he was the one that destroyed the upholstery however! It needed to be reupholstered when I first purchased it and of course has only deteriorated in the intervening years. I've had it a long time. The day has come to bite the bullet and either get rid of the chair or recover it.

None of us have the skills to reupholster a chair such as this. I found a local gal who recovers furniture in her garage for what I consider a reasonable price. Since then I have been looking for the right fabric. The easy, obvious choice was a traditional, conservative, small-scale print. The fabrics I found at comfortable prices didn't thrill me. The ones I liked the best were the most expensive - naturally.

I cannot shop safely at our Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts so their upholstery fabrics were pretty much out of consideration in spite of regular sales on home dec fabrics. Our Hobby Lobby, on the other hand, is generally safer for me. I took my health in my hands and ventured in to have a look at what they might have on offer. I didn't see anything that thrilled me on the first visit. The next time I took James in with me. Together we were able to uncover some prints that had been put on clearance. Guess what I found? Yup, a print I absolutely loved. 😁

Not traditional, not conservative, not small scale. I'm really not sure how well this is going to work on that smaller chair but since I spent all of $20.00 (total!) for the five yards I was told to get I'm willing to take a chance. This chair will Bee for Myself & I afterall!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Quiet Week

I was busy developing a third version of the Disappearing 9 Patch when the weather turned truly cold around here. That meant I had to set it aside for a while. My design wall extensions cover the heater unit in my studio wall, which isn't safe when the thermostat wants to trigger the heater. I need that extra space in order to arrange the parts to my satisfaction. So I'm going to hold off on that project until Scrap Happy Day in March (on the 15th). I trust things will have warmed up by then!

In the meantime I've been embroidering. Not on the Hobbit caravan, although I need to finish that up. Susan turned me onto an embroidered block of the month program over at When you sign up for that you have the opportunity to download another pattern free of charge. I'm always up for a free pattern! And following the lines already drawn by someone else was just the ticket for the end of this week. I've been in recovery mode for the last couple of days after toxic exposures.

Joy designed this pattern and calls it Fruits of the Spirit. You get to choose your own color palette. Naturally I've chosen to use some of my floss from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe.

I sure wish I could get a more accurate representation of the colors for you. My ground fabric is a quilter's cotton that is a pale mottled yellow. The word 'Love' is a deep, dark red. I'm looking forward to using one of the more distinctly variegated skeins for the line that frames the body of the design.

I've also been adding to my Year in Stitches sampler. I've been working on page two:

We've had snow flurries off and on all week, which is unusual for this area, so I added the snowflakes. Above them are tear drops between the hearts to mark the unexpected passing of a friend from my local quilt guild. I have some short strands left over from the Fruits of the Spirit panel I could use on this piece, I just have to figure out what to do with them. It's a struggle to decide whether to mark other events in the news on a piece that is otherwise purely personal or experimental. I'm tending toward not including them at this point. I prefer not to dwell on the violence and darkness in the world. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Scrap Happy in February

My loosely defined goal for 2018 is to bust some stash. Specifically the older yardage. For the last couple of years it has been about the smaller scraps. This year - so far anyway - it's about the bigger pieces.

After the rapid success I had with some of my Halloween prints I looked at my other stacks of novelty prints with the Disappearing 9 Patch pattern in mind. It didn't take long to see that there were enough food prints for whole quilt.

Not quite soup to nuts, but definitely veggies to desert!

There are cheeses in the upper left of this block and mice nibbling on cheese in the lower right. Of course, once I quartered the blocks it didn't really matter anymore.

I cut pairs of most of the prints and four each of a handful of them. The biggest challenge in laying them out on the design wall was keeping distance between the more frequent prints. Very little tweaking was involved when all was said and done.

Next up was the border. I thought this would be fun...

Pink sprinkles for a narrow inner border and then the large-scale deserts. That gave the quilt top a distinctly feminine look however. Since this will be donated for a child in foster care I wanted to keep it as gender neutral as possible. I opted for a print with a black background and red lips scattered all over it instead. I really like the way it ties all the other blacks together.

I still have some food prints leftover but there's definitely been a dent made in the stack. If I keep this up I figure eventually there will be a Disappearing 9 Patch with a wide variety of novelty print patches. 😀

Kate over at Tall Tales from Chiconia has a list of other bloggers who are using scraps in fun ways. Hop on over for a bucketful of inspiration!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

SAL in February

It's been three weeks since our last stitch along check-in. I have no trouble believing that, I just wish I had more to show! I've been distracted with quilt projects and didn't even get started on the latest caravan for my Sketchbook Project until yesterday.

I've been wanting to use this particular silhouette ever since the beginning but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Last month Kate made some suggestions for future trailers; one of them was a perfect fit. First though, I had to reduce the design from the original, more than once.

The larger image on the bottom is the original. The little guy at the top is the one I traced off. I'm having to keep these stitcheries within a 4" x 6" format. Here's what I have so far:

Can you guess what it's going to be? The colors in the photo are not quite right - of course. The foundation fabric is a light green, the outline so far is a combination of two different gray-purple hand dyed flosses, and the window and door will eventually be that warm yellow. There may not be room for a lot of detail on this caravan but we'll see. 😉

The stitchers in this group span the globe. Most will probably have updated their blogs by the time mine goes live. There's all sorts of needlework taking place in this SAL. I hope to take the whole tour this time; last month I was too ill to pull it off. We're welcoming a new member this month, Sunny, so be sure to stop by her blog!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Year in Stitches Update

We have a stitch along (SAL) check in coming up on Sunday, 11 Feb. I need to begin a new travel trailer for my Sketchbook Project between now and then so I have something to show. 😉 In the meantime, I thought I'd share my progress on my Year in Stitches sampler project.

The Year in Stitches is a group on Facebook. You're free to embroider anything you want. It was begun over a year ago with the intention of encouraging participants to stitch every day (or every other day or every couple of days in my case). Some of the participants are in their second year, others of us have only just joined. I thought it would be a perfect way to try out new-to-me stitches and for indulging in the hand dyed flosses I've been buying from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe.

Isn't this a delicious box of color?!
My year in stitches sampler is going to be a series of "pages" that I hope to assemble into a book format eventually. The pages will be about 6" square when finished. I started the first one on a length of muslin that I'd already used for practice stitching. I'm hoping I'll be able to separate it cleanly when the time comes.

You can see that I divided that 6" block into nine little 2" squares. For the next page I drew a 4" square and surrounded it with a one inch frame.

Can you see the faint pencil lines? I've started to outline of the overall square with leftover pieces of floss. That's why you see partial lines along the left side and bottom.

One way or another I plan to number each page. Obviously I went for a simple treatment this time! I wish you could see the variation in the colors. The number two and the embellishments in the herringbone border are actually two different hues. They look the same to me in the photos though.

There's lovely variation in some of the strands of floss too. That green under the butterfly turns to rust in places. Just yummy!

On the quilting front, the Halloween Disappearing 9 Patch (see previous post) has a back now. We're just waiting for batting. I've begun another D9P, and have a third one in the wings. I've never been a big fan of nine patch blocks but I'm sure getting mileage out of this particular variation!

Friday, February 2, 2018

First Flimsy of the New Year!

I had no idea my Halloween Disappearing 9 Patch would come together so quickly. No wonder it was such a popular design to make a few years ago. (That's me, always late to the party!)

I started out with the 9 Patch blocks I'd made with 5" squares.

Those blocks were cut into quarters, once vertically and once horizontally right through the center. That turns the center patches (black, in this case) into smaller squares and the light alternate patches into the equivalent of sashing (at least to my eyes).

The quarters were arranged on the design wall - which didn't require as much tweaking as I thought it might. I did swap out one focal patch for a different print though.

There were a couple of options for an outer border, both directional prints. That meant I had to have enough yardage to make cuts across the width of the fabric and also along the length. I liked the orange pumpkin patch the best. 😊

In an ideal world I would have included a narrow frame or flat piping of black before sewing on the pumpkin border print.

My world is far from ideal however, and the goal was to use up fabric, not make a show quilt! All I have to do now is come up with a back for this little item (it's about 60" x 73") and then hand it over for quilting. The long arm has been out of commission for a couple of months but has now been serviced and is ready to get back to work. Hooray!