Sunday, March 29, 2020

More Stitching - SAL #2 in March

This is one of those months when we have two Stitch Along check-ins for this group of needleworkers. We show our progress every three weeks, and each of us is working on the project of our choice. This SAL is a great way to tackle UFO's. The current coronavirus quarantine situation is also helping a lot of folks get unfinished projects done. πŸ˜‰

Most recently I've been embroidering dish towels in an effort to freshen my skills and just have some fun. The last time you saw the current dish towel it looked like this:

I've since filled in the red flower petals and added the little flowers underneath them.

Because I'm using these towels for practice and experimentation I used a different shade of red for the interior of the petals than I'd used for outlining them. I was amazed at how the values of the blossoms changed. All the floss has subtle color gradations because it's Nancy Turner's hand dyed cotton floss. But the lighter flowers went darker - not a surprise - and the darker flowers lightened up. It was an eye opening exercise for me.

This isn't the only needlework I've been doing lately but I'll save the other projects for other posts. In the meantime, here are the links for the other needle artists in this SAL. Grab a cuppa and enjoy!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, 
Sunny, Hayley,Megan, Deborah, MaryMargaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, 
Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny,Laura, Cathie, Linda

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Now It's Our Turn

Our state is now officially under a stay-at-home order. Up until yesterday it was merely a strong suggestion. I can understand it's hard on folks to stay home, especially around here in spring when trees and flowers are beginning to bloom. I generally try to take a tour of the fields just west of us to monitor the progress of the daffodils, then tulips, and finally irises. Always from the safety of my vehicle. I rarely get out of it because I never know what toxic fumes might be in the air. I've also run out of cut flowers in my studio. Since my personal self isolation began several years ago my husband has learned to buy flowers for me when he gets groceries. Flowers are probably not considered essential by most folks but they are for me. I've had a couple of vases of early variety daffodils come and go already. I won't have anything blooming in the yard to cut and bring in for a couple of months in all likelihood. I have no notion of what he might find when he goes for groceries the next time. 

Our local economy gets a significant boost in April with the annual Tulip Festival. The fields are currently closed to the public. There are also a couple of display gardens in conjunction with the festival. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to open this year. I was delighted to learn that one of the growers has opened up a roadside stand where one can buy cut or potted tulips among other things. The young ladies tending the stand wore protective gloves and the way things are set up it's hard to get too close for safety. I'm always masked when I go out in public too. So now I have some cheerful yellow tulips to brighten my living/working space. πŸ˜€

I noticed other businesses in town also trying to make the best of things. We have an independent art and craft store that has recently installed a pottery painting area and a kiln (I assume there's a kiln; I haven't been in to see in person). They have a sign on the sidewalk in front of the store advertising take-away pottery and art kits! On a less happy note, this is what our neighborhood playground now looks like:

All wrapped up in caution tape. I'm betting there's a sign somewhere prohibiting use of the facilities. I didn't get out of my car to look. 

A couple of other, more pleasant, sights from the surrounding countryside:

Alpacas still wearing their winter fleece.

The field adjacent to the alpacas had obviously been used at some point in time to grow daffodils. You can see them in the previous photo behind the alpacas. 

There didn't seem to be as many fields of daff's as in the past. I think the bulb industry has taken a hit in recent years. Or for some reason we have fewer growers in our area now. They were family-owned farms. Small businesses like that have suffered all across the country, and not just because of the current medical crisis. 

Daffodils were my mother's favorite flower. I've come to appreciate them more every year. I'm okay with daffodil-colored tulips for now though. 😊

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Belated National Quilt Day Observance

Since I've been unable to attend my local quilt guild meetings for over a decade now I've sort of lost touch with some of the goings-on in the universal quilt community. I see blog posts about National Sewing Day or Craft Month or whatever but I'm never quite prepared to participate or comment here as they occur. As my mother used to say, always a day late and a dollar short. In any event, 21 March was National Quilting Day.

But! One day this past week I was inspired to look through the single Trip Around the World blocks I've been making out of my 3" scrap bin. In addition to this block I showed in our last Scrap Happy Day post...

I found three others that sort of worked with that one.

Three of the four blocks feature teddy bears in one or more patches. The fourth block carries on with the yellow found in two other blocks. And who doesn't love a baby elephant?! I found another teddy bear patch in the scrap bin to use for a cornerstone in sashing between the blocks. And then I found scrap strips that worked for sashing - at least to my eyes. It might be too busy for some.

To top is all off, I found the leftovers of another baby quilt to use for the final, outer border.

Used that all up. πŸ˜ƒThis would totally qualify for a Scrap Happy Day project but I didn't want to wait that long to share it with you. And besides that, it's already been quilted and is ready to be bound!

James used a variegated thread and a large meander. It probably took him longer to mount it on the long arm than it did to do the quilting. He said the quilting only took about ten minutes. I have a happy red binding all set to finish this off.

This little quilt (about 39" square) will be my first quilt for this year's Hands2Help quilt drive. It will go to the Little Lambs Foundation in Utah. From start to finish this was such a quick project, only a matter of a couple of days. (Well, disregarding the binding process of course.) Might have to make another one next week! 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Then and Now

I have a massive headache but thought I'd check in to give you newly homebound folks something to distract yourselves with. πŸ˜‰For any relative newcomers, I'm an old hand at self isolation. It's the best protection I have against the toxins in our environment that make me so ill.

I've forgotten for the moment how I came across this book by Tilly Rose.

No doubt someone else mentioned it on their blog. Ah! Margaret, over at the Crafty Creek! I was so inspired by what she's doing that I ordered the book immediately and then waited impatiently for it to be delivered. (It didn't arrive as quickly as promised but did get here safely in the end.) I've read through it at least twice so far - after having hubby remove the spine and slipping the pages into archival page protectors so I could absorb the information and imagery safely.

Several of my foremothers were skilled with needle and thread. I have two crazy quilts in my possession. I'm pretty sure both were made by the same woman but I have no factual documentation to back that up. One, as I remember it, is in pretty good condition. The second one is more accessible, mostly because it's disintegrating and I knew I'd have to take steps to preserve what I could.

There are more of the fragile old silks in this quilt and fewer embroidered motifs than in the other as I recall. I was hoping to salvage whole squares from this quilt but I don't think that's going to be possible now. The back is in such good shape I hate to cut into it at all!

Most impressive to me is the consistency of the feather stitching along the seam lines in this quilt.

I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to do with this or how I might utilize parts of it but Tilly has certainly given me lots to think about. And in the meantime I thought I'd have a go at a smaller project to try my hand at her processes.

At the end of her book Tilly Rose talks about making luggage or gift tags from snippets of fabric and lace. There's not much difference between gift tags and bookmarks so I decided to make myself a bookmark, using a shipping tag for a template. I've been tossing my fabric scraps that are less than 1.5" in width into lunch bags - and wondering why I was keeping them at all. I've done crumb blocks in the past but haven't been interested in making more in a long time. Good thing I hadn't tossed or given those bags away just yet!

I don't understand how/why I'm casting shadows when I use my phone to take pictures.
Could it be the sun was actually shining through the window behind me when I took this picture?!

One day's efforts brought my bookmark to this point:

The top edge is still raw and there's no back on it yet. I'm not quite sure how to proceed. I want to do a little bit of embroidery down the lavender strip - or something - and I'd like to have a firm back on it, not fabric. I'm thinking watercolor paper rather than the shipping tag. For now, however, I think I'm going to take a break and try to build a quilt top. Or put binding on one of the three quilts awaiting binding. What I do NOT need to do is make more quilt blocks!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Scrap Happy Day in March

I've rather slacked off on my scrap sewing since Scrap Happy Day in February. There have only been a handful of blocks made for the Parts Department and nothing else.

We have two 9" Shoofly blocks, a 15" single Trip Around the World, one 6" sticks block, three 6" Hole in the Barn Door blocks, and the single flying goose (3" x 6"). The rest of my sewing in the last month has been for specific purposes or nonexistent. I really need to gather up some brain cells and put together at least one more Parts Dept. quilt top. There's barely room in there for these new blocks! Hands2Help will be starting up again soon. Sign ups officially begin 22 March. Maybe that will get me motivated. There are six worthy charities to choose from this year, and we are always free to donate locally.

It's not just quilters who have scraps they strive to put to good use. Here's the current list of bloggers who have joined with Kate and Gun, our hostesses, in posting about the things they've made from their scrap materials. We have a new participant too, Kjerstin. Welcome! If you'd like to join in just leave a comment on Kate's blog. 😊

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

F2F and Geese

Two more sets of Footsquare Freestyle blocks have come into the Magpie's Nest. They're both beautiful.  It's so much fun to get these surprises in the mail! I have six more squishies to look forward to. πŸ˜€

This set came from Moira, the Quilted Snail:

I love the two stars. I've never made one with that type of triangle in the upper left block. And that print of circles in the second star makes the block pop.

This trio is from Susan at DesertSky Quilting:

I especially like the background print and the geese in the block in the upper left. That really looks like sky! It seemed fitting that she made blocks with flying geese in them when I've been so preoccupied with geese lately.

I think there are now seven different multicolor prints on black in my geese. I've used up the lime batiks I had on hand.

There are 248 units all together. That ought to allow me to make thirty 12" blocks if I choose to build the quilt that way. (Actually, I could make thirty-one blocks!) Still not sure that will be how this gets built though.

I've been doing some minor rearranging in the studio the last couple of days instead of sewing or auditioning layouts for the geese. I hope no one is holding their breath waiting for these geese to begin flying in formation. 😊

Sunday, March 8, 2020

March SAL

Hard to believe it's time to post progress on our chosen needlework projects already! I'm happy to report that I've done some embroidery since the last Stitch Along post in spite of life's little challenges. I finally put the last few flowers into the stamped pillowcase I started last year. The last time you saw it I'd done the large daisies, then the stems and leaves. Just recently I've stitched the little filler flowers in a light purple with back stitch.

I wasn't happy with the look though. The purple was too light. So I wrapped the back stitches with a single strand of a dark blue.


And after:

It's hard to see in person unless you're right on top of the embroidery. I'm happier with the look now.

Still need to hem the pillowcase though. The raw edges were serged by the manufacturer. I'll either give it a simple topstitched hem or try to add a bit of gathered eyelet. But that's a task for another day. πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, I wanted something else to stitch that was of a similar scale to this pillowcase. The designs on the towels from Mary Corbet are fairly intricate. She recommends doing most of the stitching with two strands of floss, in some cases a single strand. I wanted to use three strands and be okay with taking larger stitches. So I pulled out an iron-on transfer pattern from my stash, cut it down to size, and added a central motif between the two sprigs I'd stitched on the first of the Corbet towels.

Of course the pattern didn't transfer evenly across the soft surface of my ironing board. And of course I thought I could place the patterns sheet exactly where it had been before to darken up the faintest lines.

Yeah, right. Next time I'm going to do my best to remember this experience and pencil in the missing lines. For the time being I'm just not going to worry about it.

I chose some reds from my collection of floss from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe and stitched each of the large flowers in a slightly different shade.

Again, it shows better in person. They're not quite this dark, and you can see the various tones in the petals. This is just outline stitched with backstitching down the center of the petals. I may go back and fill in for more color... or I may not. I wanted to do something more, something fancier, for those petals but couldn't come up with anything that worked and I was willing to undertake.

Sometimes it's good to expand or strive to improve on our skills and other times it's enough to just keep your hands busy. That's my story and I'm sticking with it!

This SAL has quite a few participants, all over the globe. We post every three weeks, in our own time zone. I'm on the west coast of the USA while others are in Australia and Europe, as well as in the United States. Most everyone is well ahead of me in terms of time zones. We all work on our own projects so there's a variety of needlework to be seen. We have a returning member this time - Hello Linda! and two new members, Laura and Cathie - welcome ladies! Grab a cuppa and enjoy some eye candy. πŸ˜€

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, 
Cindy, Heidi,Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, 
Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn,Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, 
Laura, Cathie, Linda

Thursday, March 5, 2020


We kicked off the another round of Footsquare Freestyle in February. Tracy was the first to receive blocks in her requested color palette. She's hoping to put together a quilt for the Christmas season so asked for blocks in reds and greens. The challenge is to make three blocks for the recipients, one month at a time, each block to finish at 12" square (thus, footsquare), in any style or technique we choose (that's the freestyle part). I made a Prairie Queen for Tracy...

Then I made a heart and built it up log cabin style...

And finally, an Arizona block:

The Arizona is my personal favorite.

My name was drawn for the month of March. I've already made some blocks for myself, in part to give the others in the swap an idea of my color scheme. I asked for blues and browns. First up, Bear Paws:

Then I made up a Noon & Light block, which I've also seen called Royal Star.

And of course I had to do something with flying geese!

This is a Dutchman's Puzzle block. I made a couple other brown and blue blocks but am not as happy with them as I'd like so you don't get to see them. πŸ˜‰

Kate knew she would be away from home for most of March so she made her blocks for me in February and shipped them from Australia before she left home. They arrived on the second day of the new month!

Birds in the Air, a Friendship block, and a circle of geese. Kate's been paying attention. πŸ˜€My idea was to use my blocks to make a quilt for a young man graduating from foster care or maybe a couple of lap quilts for patients in hospice care. Might have to rethink that plan!