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, TittiHelΓ©neEva, 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. πŸ˜‰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!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Stitching Along in April

In this Stitch Along group we check in with each other every three weeks. Some months that means we have two check-ins, like this month. We also work on our own projects instead of everyone pursuing the same goal. I've sort of been all over the map this year. I started with one long term project. That turned out to be more of a bi-monthly thing so I've filled in with other needlework.

I have the second gingerbread house pattern in hand now (my long term project). Haven't yet traced it off however. Instead I started a new tea towel with this pattern set:

I won't be making the scalloped hem or adding lace as I've begun with a towel that's already hemmed. That's a bit frou-frou for my taste anyway. πŸ˜‰

I've put one flower and butterfly in each of the lower corners of the towel.

I don't see much scope for playing around with fancy stitches but that's okay. This makes for easy, mindless stitching.

There's been a bit of progress on the foxes pillow cover too, although it may be difficult to tell. Let's see, this is where it was last time...

And this is what it looks like now:

Oh! more than I thought! Good for me. πŸ˜€I confess, after playing around with other stitches elsewhere I get tired of just backstitching all the time. There are times, however, when it's helpful not to have to have the brain engaged while stitching.

The others in this group are working on a variety of needlework projects. We also span the globe. To see what they've been up to lately click on their names below. If you'd like the accountability of a check-in every three weeks to help you get a project moving contact Avis.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, 
Margaret, Cindy, Helen,Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, 
Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret,Renee, Jenny, 
Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

This Little Piggy...

Is finally done!

This is the fourth piggy bank coin purse I've stitched. One for each granddaughter. 😊

Here's the complete set:

The background colors were not necessarily chosen according to the girl's preferences. More like those were the colors I had enough of from Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. The plan is to present these at the end of the school year with a bit of mad money in each one. By the way, there's another give away going on over at the VMSS. You could win a gorgeous set of pinks from light to dark if you sign up as a follower. πŸ˜€

Now I have to come up with new stitching projects. (Aw darn!) Actually, the next gingerbread house to embroider has come from Joy. I also picked up an orphan stamped pillowcase from an Etsy shop to stitch. It's just a matter of selecting colors and getting started.

There have been a couple of extraordinary events behind the scenes of The Magpie's Nest lately. The first one wasn't so good. This happened to my studio chair.

Just to clarify, we didn't take it apart on purpose, it broke. Then Hubby took it apart further to see if he could repair it for me. I've tried to find a replacement chair in the past but never came up with something that fit the space I have or my small frame. So I've been using a cushion to compensate for the flattened upholstery and carried on. Fortunately, Hubby was able to weld the bits back together and I'm good to go once more. Or at least as good as I ever was. πŸ˜‰

And speaking of being able to go, these are my new wheels!

Sorry about the fence being in the way. This is a 2017 Chevy Bolt EV. Yes, an electric car! It seems ideal for me since I cannot go to a gas station without serious side effects. My husband had the job of keeping my old Saturn Ion fueled up. Not any more! Now I can plug this one into the outlet on the exterior of the garage front and it'll be ready for the next short trip I make around town. Short trips are all I do anymore anyway. Too much exposure to the exhaust fumes on a freeway will also have a debilitating effect on my system. Although this newer vehicle may be safer for longer trips than the old Saturn, more air-tight as it were. Still, it's not like I have much of anywhere to go where I can safely get out of the car. The other blessing in finding this car was that the interior seemed neutral, already off-gassed and not impregnated with anyone's cologne or "air fresheners." It's outfitted with all the newest electronics however. I'm being dragged, kicking and screaming all the way, into the 21st century. Can't say I'm entirely comfortable with them yet although I do see the advantage of the back-up camera. I'm sure I'll adapt after I've spent more time in the car.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in April

Scrap Happy Day- on the 15th of every month - is hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. It began as a way to use up some of the fabric scraps from their quilting endeavors. Now we're delighted to see how folks are using up scraps from other crafting activities. 😊

I'm still not up to sewing many blocks for quilts but I have managed to get a couple of scrappy stick blocks pieced over the last couple of weeks. Some of the "sticks" are 1.5" x 6.5" strips made of scraps I've sewn as leaders and enders.

These were not assembled in one sitting. I've sewn a seam here and there inbetween the little bit of sewing I do in conjunction with my embroidery preparations. The shoulder is feeling significantly better these days but is far from being completely healed. Now is the time I have to be very careful not to overdo things. Knowing that Scrap Happy Day was coming up I looked around for something else I could do with scraps of one sort or another...

Last month I showed my Year in Stitches embroidery sampler. There's been additional stitching on it since then but not necessarily with scraps of embroidery floss. This is primarily a place where I play with the hand dyed floss I get from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe.

For Scrap Happy Day I decided to look for something to do with the cotton embroidery floss leftover from the many needlepoint kits I've stitched the last few years. I'd seen this little heart pattern from Mary Corbet on her website and decided to use it as a starting point.

I found a scrap of quilting cotton to use for the ground cloth and then opened the box of leftover floss.

Instead of stitching the spirals Mary drew I chose to indulge in my new-found love of buttonhole wheels.

Then I filled in around them with teeny tiny fly stitches to make leaves. Which was kind of silly given how small the stitches had to be. I'm working in a four inch hoop here.

Having completed the heart I was faced with what to do next. I recently discovered the Facebook group All About Smalls courtesy of Margaret at thecraftycreek. I've spent a lot of time drooling over the goodies others have made/are making there. What is it about little, palm size treasures that makes them so appealing?! The upshot is that I want to make my heart into something that qualifies as a small. I'm still not sure exactly how I'm going to do that but the first next step is to seed stitch/quilt around the heart with a single strand of rayon floss.

This provides some wonderful mindless stitching. And that rayon floss is something from someone else's stash - more leftovers. πŸ˜€If you're a regular visitor you would be safe in assuming I have a lot of batting scraps laying around. This little project won't make a noticeable dent but it feels good to be putting a bit of it to good use.

Here are the links to see what others are doing with their scrap materials. Enjoy!

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan
Karen, Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, 
Kerry, Claire, Jean, JohannaJoanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, 
Connie, Bekki and Pauline 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

First SAL in April

Yup, we'll have two check-ins this month! We post our progress every three weeks in this Stitch Along. We also work on our own separate projects rather than all doing the same thing. My designated SAL project is sort of on a hiatus as I wait for the release of the next pattern to embroider. I've completed my secret stitching project but I can't show it to you yet just in case the intended recipient comes to visit my blog. I've added some bits to my Year in Stitches sampler. This is what it's currently looking like:

I have no idea what it looked like the last time you may have seen it. Mostly this is a place to practice or try out new stitches.

Since I completed the secret stitching I've returned to a Sublime Stitching pillow cover I started over a year ago.

It's just back stitching so far. Nice mindless work for those occasions when my brain is broken. Sad to say, there have been several days like that lately.

I might get adventurous and decorate the pot in the middle of the cover. Maybe do some buttonhole stitching for those scallops under each fox. I'm using Sublime Stitching floss for this project too, not the hand dyed floss I've been using everywhere else.

More of these green lines have been covered since this photo was taken. At this point I'm not sure I'll stick to the color suggestions printed on the cover. The best part of this project is that once all the stitching is done I can wash it and pop a pillow form inside and it's done. πŸ˜€I enjoy stitching but not finishing.

There's all sorts of needlework being done by the members of this SAL. Participants live all over the world. You will be inspired by what you see as you make the tour. We'll be checkin in again on 28 April.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Jess, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, 
Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Linda, Heidi, JackieSunny, 
Hayley, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, 
Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Saturday, March 30, 2019

BJP for Bee, Myself & I

It's time for a Bee, Myself & I post. This was created by Granny Maud's Girl for the purpose of working on a project strictly to please oneself. I sort of ran out of personal projects recently. However, one of the things that has been on my mind since the new year began was a bead journal project of some kind. The official BJP group has been moved to a Facebook page and there seem to be fewer participants these days. Or they could be like me and just have a hard time remembering to post their progress. Or maybe they're on Instagram - which I'm not. Ya gotta draw the line somewhere!

In any event, I've recently made some decisions about how I'm going to approach my BJP for this year. The general idea is to choose a format and stick with it throughout the year, making one bead embroidered piece each month. They can stand alone or become part of a larger whole down the road. I've made stand-alone pieces in the past.




This year I've decided to do a small block each month and then assemble them into a wall hanging, hopefully early next year (but don't hold me to it!). The plan is to cut a 4.5" square of quilter's cotton, back it with a piece of muslin, and then embroider up to a three inch circle onto it. The other component of the Bead Journal Project is to work intuitively, choosing your beads and bead paths as they occur to you.

I've set up foundations for January, February, and March but have only put the focal elements in place so far. Since I begin each day, and therefore each new year, by journaling in a spiral bound notebook I chose to begin with buttons with text on them for January.

I thought it would be fun to use the other cloth-covered button Tialys sent me for February since I used the first one on an ATC in February.

And for March I'm starting with a pair of lovebirds in honor of the 35th wedding anniversary Hubby and I just had. The foundation fabric is meant to be a coral color, which I'm given to understand is the traditional gift for a 35th wedding anniversary. I tried my jade green prints first - the contemporary gift suggestion - but didn't like the way the birds looked on them.

I have some ideas about what beads I want to use on each piece, I just haven't gotten to that point with any of them yet. As I said, secret stitching. πŸ˜‰

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stitchin' Mojo

My shoulder still doesn't feel equal to rotary cutting or much piecing but I have been doing quite a bit of embroidery lately. Yes, in addition to the gingerbread house! 😊

I have just finished a dish towel. It began with a border design I ironed on from a booklet of patterns. Mind you, this was begun months ago and progressed very slowly until this past week.

The small flowers on either side of the central motifs were merely line drawings. I'm pretty proud of myself for embellishing them the way I did.

At fist I wasn't sure about those satin stitched centers in the little dark blue flowers. It looked very heavy until I had the idea to add the lazy daisy stitches to create more detail. Then I had to do something to the purple flowers above them to give them an equal amount of detail!

After I had the flowers on each side stitched I was stumped about how to handle the central flower.

Eventually it occurred to me that I'd get a nice heavy line by using four strands of floss and split stitches. All the rest of the work up to that point had been done with three strands of floss.

I added a couple of extra lines of stitching in the flower head to break up all that white space. The leaves were looking pretty nekkid by then too so I put vein lines in the larger ones. I also went back over the heart and whipped the backstitches in the same color I'd used originally. That really smoothed out those curves.

About the only thing I'd consider doing further would be some shading or something to strengthen the blue ribbon. At this point I doubt I'll bother however.

The question now is, what will fall under my needle next?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Stitching Along in March

I'm probably one of the last to get my SAL post up this month. We were out shopping for a new sofa a couple of days ago and I'm only just now feeling like myself again after the exposures to fumes. The sad part is we didn't find anything we felt would do the job so we'll have to go out again sometime. Shopping used to be fun. Back in the day Hubby and I would have dates that consisted of browsing the Galleria in Houston after a cheap meal and maybe a movie. That was some 35 years ago now!

But back to the topic at hand. I finished up the first gingerbread house in the new series by Joy McDonald and her daughter. Of course I'm primarily using Nancy's hand dyed flosses for my stitching. She currently has a give away going on for a collection of beautiful spring flower colors although you've now missed out on the collection of purples she was giving away. πŸ˜‰

It was fun to incorporate some different stitches. I used a lot of buttonhole stitches...

In this photo for the "gingerbread" along the roofline and that wiggly stripe between the roof and the house proper. The satin stitching to fill in the windows was a last minute addition. I just couldn't bear to have the green background showing through the windows.

The door has some buttonhole stitches for texture too. Those are Celtic cross stitches providing accent to the house front. Appropriate, since today is St. Patrick's Day! The next house in this series is due to be released tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing what we'll be given to work with. 😊

Everyone in this Stitch Along works on their own needlework project, whatever that may be. There's quite a variety of techniques on display. We post our progress every three weeks. That means our next SAL will be 7 April. I hope you find the time to do some blog hopping to see what they're up to!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Jess, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, 
Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Heidi, JackieSunny, Hayley, Megan, 
Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Friday, March 15, 2019

Scrappy Stitches in March

On the 15th of each month Kate and Gun host Scrap Happy Day. Originally these posts featured patchwork made with scrap fabric. Recently we've had scraps of other types being showcased. I'm going to take my cue from those other crafters this month. My shoulder is healing, but slowly. I'm reluctant to run the risk of a setback by returning to my sewing machine just yet so I'm going to share what I've done with some scraps of embroidery floss.

This is just a tiny section of my current stitch sampler. The petals of the violets were made with some strands of hand dyed floss leftover from another project. The French knot centers were also short lengths I found in my ort jar.

The half-circle  buttonhole scallops were also done with leftover strands. I think the rest of the stitches were put in on purpose with new threads. Nearly all of the floss has been from Nancy Turner. The snowdrops are the exception. I didn't have good colors for them and had to resort to DMC. Nancy is having another give away of a lovely collection of colors. All you have to do to enter is pop over and leave a comment. 😊

These 6.5" blocks are just a place for me to practice new stitches or to doodle with needle and thread. I'll save the other embroidery I've been doing for our Stitch Along post coming up in a few days (on the 17th). In the meantime, here's the list of those who may have done something with their scraps to share with us:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJeanJohanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie and Bekki