Thursday, December 31, 2020

Final Post for 2020!

 It seems appropriate to have a weird ending to a weird year. I couldn't sleep last night. Had to turn the light back on to record all the ideas I suddenly had for the various projects and potential projects on my books. That's happened on occasion before but it's still an unusual event in my life. 😊

I'm not one for specific goals or resolutions, New Year's or otherwise. However, with the influx of more size 12 perle cotton threads for hand embroidery I've been forced to consider some reorganization of my studio space. Last year - or was it even earlier than that?! - I bought two little plastic units with three drawers each in which to store the hand dyed flosses I'd been buying at the time. I stopped delivery of the floss when the drawers became too full to close easily and have just lived with the situation since. 

Now that I'm using the perle cottons more frequently (almost exclusively in fact) they are the threads I want to have closer to hand. As much as I'd love to browse the local home improvement and craft stores to see what's available that's out of the question. I looked around online but ended up at Amazon.com again. I bought a pair of plastic boxes that stack and click together, thinking I would use them for the perle cottons. As it turns out, the boxes are a better size for the skeins of floss and the drawers almost perfect for the balls of perle cotton! 

But only two boxes aren't enough for all the floss I have. So now I'm waiting for another delivery, slowed down by the holiday of course. 

One of the other ideas that came to me late last night had to do with my collection of 6" scrappy Barn Door blocks. I worked out a very basic layout for the sole purpose of decreasing their numbers.

I haven't taken the time to actually count them. I seem to remember there were over 200 the last time I did that but I could easily be wrong. (I just counted them. 264, plus or minus two!) That bin they're in is six inches deep. If I can use many of them up I might be able to repurpose that bin for something else! It's going to be musical storage containers around here for a while.

My very simple plan is to sash the blocks for a straightforward grid layout. I did some math last night to determine how much yardage I might need to float the blocks on a single background fabric. I have rummaged through my biggest pieces of fabric and come up with a paisley that was given to me specifically to be used in donation quilts.


The sashes will only be 1.5" finished so I think this tight print will work. It feels good to be enthusiastic about a quilt project again. Progress may be slow in the beginning but at least I've got something in the works. Needlework has been the focus of my efforts of late with the little 12 Pages book and gifts for the grands. I have no intention of setting needlework aside but I'd like to be able to get back to quilt making too. 😏

And while I have your attention, let me wish you and yours a 2021 that is much happier and healthier than the year we've just concluded!  πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ


Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Final SAL for 2020

 I had to laugh at myself when I reread my last SAL post, from the beginning of this month. So far from having my #12pagesofChristmas book nearly complete, I barely touched it between then and now. Christmas you know. You can see the little hearts I stitched up for the eldest granddaughters in the previous post. There were other gifts made, and shopping to do online and locally, gift wrapping, and well, you know the drill. I'm quite proud to have completed two of the remaining five pages. 

I followed Anne's lead closely for page seven. The brief was 9 circles. I stitched mine down essentially same way she did hers.

I did ad the star stitches between the central circles though. All my circles were cut from one batik print. I chose that print because I thought all the lines going in different directions would make them more interesting. 

The next prompt is for a pocket on a page and a tag to go into the pocket. I've skipped that one for the time being. Page nine is supposed to feature mini hexies, English paper piecing. I don't do regular size hexies, never mind mini jobs. So I've spent countless hours trying to come up with a work-around for that prompt. I decided to go with pieces of English paper instead of English paper piecing. πŸ˜‰

My papers were cut or torn from a magazine out of Britain and are simply sewn down with machine sewing thread. The castle tag is off a piece of clothing. I made an attempt at an embroidered rose to fill an empty spot. So, fairly simple in the end. 

Over the next three weeks I'll be working on that pocket and tag page and hopefully one or two others. I still have to figure out what I'm going to do about a cover too. A couple of participants, Anne included, have had their book turn out too bulky to fit into the tin they originally chose for storing it. That could happen here too. Meanwhile, Anne is planning a new project for 2021. Not sure I'll be playing along but I will certainly be watching. 😁

To see the progress others in the group have made in the last three weeks just click on their links below. It's fun to see the variety of projects in the works.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindy, 

Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, MaryMargaret, Renee, 

Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen

Friday, December 25, 2020

Joyeux Noel

We have had a lovely Christmas Day. I hope my readers have as well. I meant to post before now so I could wish you all a happy Christmas but life (toxins) interfered as it so often does. In the past we've had our daughter and her family over to exchange gifts. This year we watched them open our gifts to them via Zoom. I'm sure we weren't alone in that experience. We've exchanged pictures and messages with our long distance son and family too. 

This is the collection of hearts I embroidered and gave to the local granddaughters:


Well, with the exception of the yellow one. I kept that for myself. πŸ˜‰You can see the book I made for the newest granddaughter in this post.

I've been stitching away on the 3 Flowers needlepoint canvas I showed in my last post. There really isn't that much left to do!


One of the reasons I picked up the 3 Flowers canvas was that I'd completed this little Stitch & Zip scissor case just after Thanksgiving:

It's a good size for embroidery scissors. I changed up the colors in the stars a bit but mostly used the floss provided in the kit. 

We have a stitch along post coming up in a couple of days. I don't think I've touched my little book project since the last SAL post. Guess it's time to pick it back up again! Now that the bulk of holiday activities are behind us maybe my creativity will return. 😊


Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Project For the End of the Year

 It's been head down, nose to the grindstone around here in the days leading up to Christmas. Well, some of the time at least. There's certainly been more needlework than patchwork going on of late. As is customary at this time of the year, a lot of the stitching has been for gifts. I could probably share most of what I've made but I'll hold off for the time being. It's just easier that way. As long as I don't forget entirely! 

Once the gift stitching was finished I wanted a sort of palette cleanser project. Something mindless, dead easy. While I was shopping online for gifts one of the things that found it's way into my cart was a needlepoint kit. Screen printed canvas, a needle, and DMC floss all in one neat package. Best of all, lots of large areas for basketweave stitching.


The design area is 5 x 7 inches. I debated briefly whether or not to mount this on a frame (stretcher bars) vs working it in hand. A frame would help to keep the canvas in perfect alignment. Since I stitch basketweave as much as possible I don't have a lot of issues with distortion when I stitch in hand.


 In a moment of desperation I taped the raw edges and began stitching. 

I've already spotted two places where I was supposed to put in a stitch of yellow and missed it. And of course there's the ever present issue of exactly where the color changes occur. Screen printed canvases are rarely as accurate as a hand painted canvas. A slight shift in the pattern over the course of the canvas and the whole thing ends up skewed. It drives the perfectionist in me nuts but I try not to stress over it. Since I have no idea what I'll do with this little piece in the end it's unlikely to matter one way or the other. This will just be something to do during the holidays when I'm not otherwise occupied. It's going to be a weird Christmas this year no matter what. The fewer expectations I put on myself for the next two weeks or so the better off I'll be mentally. So the other projects I have in the works are on hold at present. You never know though, I may be seized by the muse before the New Year begins and have something spectacular to share! (Well, interesting at least. πŸ˜‰)


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Scrap Happy in December

 On the 15th of each month Kate and Gun (links below) host a link party so we can share the things we've made from scrap materials. Not everyone is a quilt maker so sometimes there are unexpected materials involved. I've only used fabric this time though, blocks that came straight out of my Parts Department and some leftover flannels for a couple of doll quilts. 

This first one is made up of just a few blocks I'd made experimentally. 


I believe some people know the block as Indian Hatchet. I started with five inch squares and used two inch squares on opposing corners to create the units. Like log cabin blocks, these can be set in a multitude of ways. It wasn't until I went to do a bit of quilting that I realized this setting had created an offset design. Fortunately, something this small didn't require much quilting! The only quilting was just inside the two white diamond shapes. I backed the top with a piece of flannel so there was no batting to secure either. I just stitched around the perimeter with right sides together, leaving an opening for turning. Then I topstitched all the way around to finish it off. It's about 15.5" square.


The second one was made with just four 6.5" liberated log cabins from the inventory on hand. I used two inch scrap strips to frame the four blocks up to a 15 inch square. I backed it with more leftover flannel, no batting, and once again did minimal quilting.


It was fun to highlight the two cat images. πŸ˜‰



Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). 

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEvaLynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaire,
JeanJon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette and Ann

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The End of Summer

I'm referring to my Summer Scroll, (otherwise known as a stitch wrap) bits of which you've seen in past posts. Most recently the length of scroll looked like this:

There's been some detail stitching added since then but more significantly I've added what I expect to be the last two sections.

You can see that I've done some stitching around the rain cloud that was at the end of the strip previously. Then I added a lovely piece of wool followed by black flannel. 


I've wanted to honor Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg ever since she passed in September. It took some time to come up with the right black to represent her robes. Originally I thought I would embroider a facsimile of a lace collar, her trademark while serving on our Supreme Court. My first attempt didn't look good to me so this has been stalled for a while. Today I dug through my stash on the hunt for something else and came up with this bit of lace. Perfect! The inscription tag is a bit of watercolor paper I cut out with special paper scissors. 

I've dubbed this my Summer Scroll because it was started back in June under the influence of Anne Brooke and Tilly Rose. These ladies created projects to help folks cope with the first covid lockdown in the UK. As usual, I was a little late to the party, not beginning until June. Mine became a sort of visual journal for me personally as well as a place to practice and experiment with different types of stitches and embellishments. I decided to call a halt to it around the autumn equinox as the longer it got the more awkward it was to work on. That also seemed fitting as it had begun around the summer solstice.  Recently I've started a second scroll. I expect it to run through the winter solstice into January and maybe February. I've found this to be a very useful project. It's easy to pick up, there's no pressure, and it's a place to play with my "toys." I bought some wide lace I intend to use on the back of the Summer Scroll to protect the threads from wear and snagging. I want to find a spool or bobbin for the scroll to live on permanently before I sew the lace in place. And there's the question of how to finish the tail end of the scroll when the time comes... 😊

Sunday, December 6, 2020

First Stitch Along of December

 It's been three weeks since our last Stitch Along check in. I've not been very active in the cyber world but I have been busy in the studio. At least, on the days when I've been able to function. The air quality tends to be so bad around here this time of year that I can't even poke my nose out the door without getting hit by a wall of toxic air. Even with my mask on it takes a toll, sometimes heavy. So let me apologize in advance to any of the SAL bloggers who may visit and not see or hear from me in return. 

I have taken all your encouragement to add a spider's web (and a spider) to my Pumpkin Head canvas to heart. I will do that, just not right away. Thanks for your support! 

I've continued to work on the #12pagesofchristmas book project since our last check in. The first three pages can be seen in that post. The prompt for page four was to use rectangular pieces, a bit of lace, and a button. This is what I did:

As a reminder, my pages are about 3.5" overall, giving me about 3" square on which to work. My rectangles included a couple of clothing labels. The black one in the background is actually about twice as big as it appears. I covered up the lower half with a bit of sari silk and the second label. 

The prompt for page five was minimal: use a square and a Suffolk puff, or a yo-yo as we know it here in the States. 


I used a square of wool felt for my base but also included the square bead. Making Suffolk puffs is not something I enjoy doing so I was glad we only had to do one. I filled mine with an outpouring of miscellaneous beads and tacked it in place with some seed beads. I even managed to include a square sequin! 

The page six prompt was to use neutral fabrics, our choice of stitches, and three embellishments. Anne's stitching was more dense than mine and she used three small, dark safety pins for her embellishments. You can see her pages on her YouTube channel.


My embellishments are the button and two bugle beads (with seed beads at each end to protect the thread from being cut by the sharp ends of the bugles). I like the way the bugle beads echo the staff lines of the scrap of music print. Even the French knots mimic the notes. 

The next three prompts were only recently revealed. I haven't had a chance to work on them yet. I'm trying to get a little something hand stitched for each of our grandchildren for Christmas and that takes time. 😊

To visit the others in this SAL click on the links below. Hopefully the next time we check in, on 27 December, I'll have my book nearly complete! 

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindy, 

Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, MaryMargaret, Renee, 

Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen


Monday, November 30, 2020

First Gifts of Chirstmas

Still fairly quiet around here, sewing down bindings and doing some embroidery. I've completed the little book of shapes I've been stitching for our new granddaughter. I figure I can share it here since she's not likely to see it before Christmas morning. 😁

The three basic shapes are appliquΓ©d to the cover with blanket stitching. The cover ended up a bit short of the pages in spite of what I thought were careful measurements. 


The cover isn't stitched any further, just more blanket stitching to secure it to the first and last pages. Well, and a little bit of backstitching on the back cover. I don't know whether you can see it or not.


I just repeated the shapes from the front cover, although not in the same positions! The cover panel and the pages are all backed with a layer of cotton batting so the whole book is soft and squishy. Also washable. πŸ˜‰

The first and second pages:

The circle is chain stitches and blanket stitches surrounded by Colonial knots. The large triangles are done in stem stitch and the little ones in the background were made with fly stitches and a single straight stitch.


The third and fourth pages:


The squares are more stem stitch with seed stitching in the background. The octagon was also stem stitched, then fill in with straight stitches. I used 8 pointed star stitches for the background. 

And the last two pages:

I believe the heart shape was back stitched, then decorated with fly stitches and more back stitching. I filled the background with cross stitches to represent all the kisses I would give the baby if it were possible for me to be with her. The last page has French knots scattered around the inscription. Overall I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. 😊

The quilt I built during advent last year has been finished, laundered, and gifted to our son and daughter-in-law so they can use it during advent this year. 

Here's a close-up of the quilting:


And finally, we just gave this quilt to our daughter and her family for the Christmas season:


I believe the center panel is a Susan Winget design. It was a freebie, partly because of the color shift across the panel. Here are a couple of detail shots:

James did custom quilting in the panel and then stippled around the blocks. It's a very cheerful quilt if I do say so myself. And I do enjoy fussy cutting imagery to be featured in the star blocks!  

The next big job is to get the house decorated for the season. We never really go over the top like some folks. I hardly decorated for Halloween this year so I would like to do better for this final holiday season in hopes of a much better 2021. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Still Here

 The week following my last post was, unfortunately, one of those that got the better of me. What little sewing I did was done by hand, and it didn't seem like all that much frankly. I finished up a little heart ornament. This is the front:


And the back:

The front was mostly stitched when I picked it up again this past week but the decoration on the back is all new. And the front is blanket stitched to the back - that's an accomplishment in and of itself! 

I sewed down some binding on the Return of the Swans quilt.

That purple back is an extra wide cotton. For some reason it was very stiff even after laundering and quilting. Between that and the batik binding sewing it down was pretty hard on my finger tips. I've never been comfortable using a thimble but this was one time when it would have been very helpful. 

Oh, and I started on this little scissor case kit:

I do like the Stitch & Zip kits for mindless stitching, and mindless was what I needed most this past week. 

Things are looking up so far this week although I don't feel I've been very productive yet. Baby steps are what's required. If I don't learn anything else from my chronic afflictions, I certainly ought to learn patience and how to pace myself. 😏

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Scrap Happy Stitch Along

Scrap Happy Day falls on the 15th of every month, hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. In the Stitch Along that Avis administrates we check in with our progress every three weeks. Once in a while those events fall on the very same day, as is the case today. So let's see, where to begin? 

I completed the background of the needlepoint canvas I showed in my last SAL post.

Now I have to decide whether to lay some cobweb stitches in the upper corners on top of the purple or not. I like the idea. And someone suggested I add a spider at the end of a cobweb thread. I also like that idea a lot. I probably have appropriate thread if only I would look for it. It's just a matter of making the decision to take action. There's plenty of time between now and next Halloween, perfect for procrastinating. πŸ˜‰

In terms of putting my scraps to good use for Scrap Happy Day, I've made these 6" Sticks blocks...


And these 8" stars.

They go into my collection of orphan blocks in the Parts Department until I have the creative energy to build a quilt out of them. 

Now, to combine Scrap Happy and a new project for the SAL I give you my 12 Pages of Christmas book project. This is being hosted by Anne Brooke on Instagram (hannemadebyanne, #sew4thesoul12pagesofchristmas). This will be a brief project for the SAL because it's meant to wrap up prior to Christmas. The idea is to find a tin for your book to live in when it's completed and then make a fabric book to fit in the tin. I chose this Reed's ginger candies tin, which is about 4" square. It was practically the only tin in my collection that didn't already have something in it!

Because this is such a small project in size I will be using scrap bits exclusively. The prompt for the first page was to cut three circles in graduated sizes and play with our favorite stitches. Below is my first page and the book's signatures stitched together.

Page two was to include a cluster of French knots, a running stitch grid of some kind, and groups of three stitches somewhere within the grid. My groups of three stitches are fly stitches.

Not the best picture in terms of color representation but it's what I've got. As we make these little collages they get stitched to a page in the book. Anne is using a piece of a cutter quilt for the cover of her book. I haven't decided yet what I will do for a cover.

The third prompt was to weave strips of fabric and/or trims into a foundation, secure them with stitching, and add three buttons.


This project is perfect for using some of the strips I've saved that are not 1.5" wide (the smallest size I generally piece with) but seem too big to throw away. This weaving was a bit fiddly for my taste but I do enjoy playing with my needle and threads. 😊

Now for the links. The other stitchers in this SAL can be reached through these links:

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindy, 

Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, MaryMargaret, Renee, 

Carmela, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda, Helen


And the links for the bloggers using their scrap materials (not all of them fabric and thread!) are below: 




Ann, and welcome to Kym!