Thursday, April 30, 2009

Putting One Motif to Work

Followers of my blog may remember that I am participating in a RR over on the Yahoo Group CQINovice. The third CQ block that came to me belongs to Ritva P. from Finland. It was in wonderful creamy latte colors with a feeling of earth tones to them. I loved this block. The work that was done on it by the other ladies in the RR, before it got to my house, was outstanding. I knew I had to rise to the challenge, lol. I let the block sit out on the dining table in the formal dining room until it began to talk to me. It wanted flowers and a spider web! I decided to put the spider web right over the lace and I used a multicolored metallic thread to make the web. The paisley, already done on the opposite side of the block, had a bronze/copper color in the beads. I felt it would be great to bring a bit of that to this side of the block so I chose a bronze bead for the spider's head and a white/turquoise mottled bead for his body. When I added his legs I think it began to balance the colors pretty well.

The day I finished the spider web the package arrived from the Grand Motif Swap (see pics on yesterday's post). As I perused the contents of the package one of the motifs jumped or fell into my hand and I knew it was meant to be on Ritva's block. It is a sewing machine made lacey motif of a sunflower. Isn't it great and it arrived at just the right time! I could almost be convinced to take up machine sewing to learn how to make these wonderful motifs! NOT! It was just the right color, just the right size. So, needle in hand, I completed the curving vine and buds that were pre-sewn into the fabric of the one patch. I brought the stems over the seam line, added some of the backside of one leaf and put the sunflower in its rightful position.

To tie it all together and to cover an awkward corner junction I embroidered the feather stitch vine and leaves using a twisted Trebizond silk. Bronze bugle beads and gold seed beads were added. Then the yellow Chinese knot bud with the little bee charm were put on that corner. This completed the balancing act of the bronze color. I like to think the bee is hiding from the spider so he won't be invited for lunch!

I hope Ritva likes this block. I really had a few more ideas that I would have enjoyed putting on this block but there are others who have to stitch on it yet and available room was at a minimum. It is in the mail now, on its way to Canada.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swaps Are The Way To Go

I participated this year in the Grand Motif Swap sponsored by Judyth L who has her own little recycled fabric & trims business - Crazy Judyth's. I really recommend that anyone in need of quality fabrics in decent sized cuts check with her to see what she has available. She scours the thrift shops and gets silks, wools, linens, sheers, all types of fancy fabric (except not too much polyester - she hates it), trims, buttons, etc. for use in stitchery, especially CQ work. She will custom make a package for you in any color, fabric type, etc. In the past I got a package of purples and earthtones from her. Recently I bought a package of mixed creams and whites from her. WoW! I couldn't ask for more variety! I would have put pictures on here of the fabrics but they are so closely matched it is hard to differentiate in a photo. One can only imagine the beautiful clothing that these fabrics must have come from. And....she throws in a few extras to fit her whim, always a fun surprise.

If you follow my blog you know I am in favor of not buying new if I don't have to. Judyth's stuff is washed, ironed and ready to go, no need to buy new yardage when CJ gets the goods and prepares them for you too. Most excellent thing about dealing with her: The Prices Are Right!

CJ loves to CQ herself and she is a generous soul. Each year, for the past few years, she has sponsored the Grand Motif Swap. You send her up to 20 handmade motifs suitable for CQ or other fabric art and you receive that many in return. She threw in little extras that she contributed to the pot. This year it was a hand dyed doiley and a blue bird applique. Many of us, knowing her penchant for doing that type of thing, sent extra motifs just for her in her favorite color HONKING ORANGE! Thus, Crazy Judyth! That's why in my book anyway, lol

Here are some photos of the motifs I received in return for the sets of 3 beaded shooting stars that I sent as my contribution. You will see tatting, beading, crochet, silk ribbon work, French millinery flowers, cotton yo yo flowers , and

cross stitch, machine embroidered motifs, punch needle, surface embroidered patches, and even some Hardanger. All of this will be very useful when embellishing CQ's and making altered art pieces. I want to thank the ladies whose work I received, I love the sharing and have already used one of the pieces on a RR CQ block going to Finland.

Another generous lady whom I met in an online stitching group was learning to make photo transfers which she wanted to sell online. Her first few pages of photos were not up to her expectations for one reason or another. So, rather than waste them she offered them free to the first people to contact her. Below are 4 pictures I received that are printed on cotton. They may be cut a bit too close to the edge for me to properly applique them to a CQ block or to even sew them into the seams easily. However, they can be used with a fancy trim as a frame without turning the edge as you would normally do for applique. The colors are bright, the subject matter appealing. I can't wait to use the kittens in something for Baby Belle.

I have so many more items to share with you that have arrived in the mail in the past couple of weeks. I have also sent out another RR block for CQI which I will share in my next post. I just haven't had the time to blog as I should have when they arrived or went out. There is a very good reason why that I will share with you very soon. So stay tuned.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Breast Cancer Quilts - Healing Hearts

Today the gods were smiling on me once again! Leslie E., the same friend who had the drawing for the Crocheted & Tatted Edgings Booklet, had yet another drawing today. Les is an extremely generous lady who spends much of her time on artistic endeavors and working on projects that are awesome in scope. This past year a large contingent of the members of the Crazy Quilt International Group spent several months stitching identically sized CQ blocks in the base colors of pink and white with a theme of Hearts. These blocks were to become a quilt which would be auctioned off to benefit Breast Cancer Research. Leslie spearheaded the effort and volunteered to put the blocks together once they were completed. In the end she was able to piece three, count them - THREE!, quilts. I can't begin to imagine the number of hours she spent fitting the blocks together, not an easy task when dealing with the various foundation fabrics, piecing fabrics, awkward embellishment placements and the stitching idiosyncrasies on over 50 blocks, completed by over 40 women. The quilts turned out to be magnificent tributes to their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends who had personal experience with breast cancer.

This week when Leslie posted the final pictures of the quilts on CQI she gave them names. I want to share the pictures with you even though they aren't all that clear. White on white is not easy to photograph. I assure you the workmanship on the individual quilt blocks is gorgeous! And Leslie's work is impeccable.

First there is the beautiful BLUE GRACE, framed in a beautiful blue moire' donated by yet another member of CQI.

Then there is the one Leslie calls THE PROBLEM CHILD. Don't ask why, lol.

The third quilt is white and has some coral tones but she had no name for it. She posted a challenge on the CQI group to name the quilt. Many names, beautiful and appropriate names, were submitted. I submitted several myself. This afternoon she drew the winning name for the quilt.....HEALING HEARTS.....submitted! Whoopie! I did a happy dance!

For my prize I win my choice of a handcrafted bracelet, brooch or spirit doll, custom made by Leslie in my color choice(s). I made my choice. I let Les know and am keeping it a secret until it arrives. I will post a picture then. Leslie is the one who truly deserves a reward for taking on the responsibility of doing the finishing work on these three beautiful quilts and seeing the project through to the end in a timely manner. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor I deeply appreciate Leslie's dedication to helping fund the research to find a cure.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Win! In More Ways Than One.

My youngest grandaughter, Baby Belle, is 2 1/2 now and talking like crazy. She is also very affectionate. This week she has really begun to understand what winning and losing are all about. One day she was losing a lot of power struggles to her brother and sister. She needed to win at something so, knowing she was the closest to me, I asked them all to come give me a kiss. When the others started coming I grabbed her up, gave her a big kiss and told her "You win!" We all clapped for her and did a happy dance. She loved it! Now she will run up to me, jump in my arms and, as soon as I lift her up, she puts her little hands on either side of my face, and kisses me at least 5 times (sometimes more). Then throws her hands up over her head like a champion, smiles from ear to ear and yells, "I WIN!". Little does she know I am feeling the same way inside while she is kissing me.

Recently Jill P., a friend from CQI, had a giveaway on her blog. The prize was a vintage crochet and tatting booklet published in 1946. Well, I saw that date and knew I had to enter my name. I was born in 1946, this booklet had my name written all over it! I tat and crochet but I need constant refresher courses in both. I just knew I had to win this booklet. Imagine how I felt when she notified me that her random number selection program had spit out MY number? I WIN!!! How lucky can I get? This makes several times I have won a wonderful gift on line just since the first of the year. My cup runneth over and I am hoping it doesn't empty out, lol.

Aren't the different crocheted edgings on this cover great? There are many more just as sweet inside. And look at the original price - $.10, a bargain even then for so many wonderful patterns.

I really can't wait to start on some of these edgings for my crazy quilts. The patterns are so retro that they are desirable all over again today! Can't you just see them done in overdyed threads or all done in white and dyed as needed for different CQ projects? I am sure you are probably not going to find instructions to make these edgings anywhere but in this book (or one just like it).

The tatted edgings are different than any I have seen or that I already have in my collection. The booklet even gives instructions for going around corners with the tatting patterns. I really want to sit down and try to tat that bottom one!

Thank you Jill for giving everyone the opportunity to win this wonderful booklet. It is great to know that, for its age, it is in wonderful condition -- like me, VBG. I WIN!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remembering Grandma

I spent the better part of today at the nursing home in conference with my mother's care givers. Is is something the home does on a quarterly basis but it usually leaves Mom and me drained of mental energy. I wish, for her sake, that she didn't have Alzheimer's, and that the cooks at the home made better tasting food. But, sadly, she does and they don't. Some days are full of sunshine and some days are bitterly cold. Today was a cold day weather-wise and a sunshine day of clarity for Mom. We had a good visit after the meeting. We like to work jigsaw puzzles together. I can't remember a day of my life living in my mother's home that there wasn't a jigsaw puzzle up on a table in the family room. So, in an effort to help keep her mind active, I convinced the staff at the home (when I first had to put her in there) to set up a puzzle in the library for her to work on. We furnish the puzzles and anyone is welcome to work on them, though few attempt to do so. This is the room where our family gathers with her when we go to visit each week.

Today she wanted to talk about her own mother, and how she had helped to raise my sister and me. Grandma had 6 children and 19 grandchildren. I believe she had 27 great grandchildren at the time she passed into God's hands. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as a child. She taught me how to raise parakeets, plant and tend the flower beds around her house, and how to preserve foods by drying and canning. It was she who patiently taught me how to embroider, tat and crochet. My own mother never had an interest in the needlearts.

Today Mom and I also chatted about how Grandma liked to collect little poems, verses, recipes and so forth from the newspapers, magazines, church bulletins and greeting cards. I remember that Grandma had a rather deep, pale pink quilted box that she kept in her hall linen closet. She would put these clippings in there, for the most part. But, when she passed away, I found one of these clippings tucked inside one of her cookbooks. I kept the cook book and the verse. It said a lot to me about the farm wife my grandmother had been.

Through my EGA chapter I had an opportunity to be involved in a Round Robin in which the participants could choose a theme that was meaningful to them and then the others would stitch motifs in that theme to make what is termed a spot sampler. I didn't have to think very long to know that my grandmother's saved verse was one that I wanted on that sampler!

I chose a very loosely woven 32 ct. white linen and DMC #3371 cotton floss to stitch the verse. I did the verse in petit point (over 1 thread) in order to get it all on the sampler and leave room for my friends to put on their own patterns. You can see that they each took some part of the verse and tried to express it in picture form. There is the farmland and some products from the farm (wheat, raw foodstuffs & herb plants). There is a woman turning the soil and/or picking food and another preparing to serve food out in the cornfield (Grandma often fed the noon meal in the field during the corn harvest). The bread, jams and baked goods signify the end products of cooking and canning. The horn-of-plenty (cornucopia) is also in petit point and was a favorite decoration of my grandmother's year around. You can see that each of my friends initialed and dated their contribution to the sampler. Again, I have written their full names and the location where this sampler was stitched, along with an explanation of where the verse originated and to whom the sampler belongs, inside the frame on the back of the mounting board. This is in case this sampler outlives me. I think it is important to let future generations know who stitched what, where and when.

This sampler hangs in my dinette, above the pass through bar. I see it everyday and think of how my grandmother taught me so many of the 'pleasures of being a gentle woman', as she would have said. Someday I will tell you about her wringer washing was a doozy!