Monday, December 28, 2009

Where Has 2009 Gone

My goodness! It has been 6 months since my last post and I am trying to remember all the things that kept me so busy that I couldn't keep in touch.

We did take a vacation with the family to Las Vegas. And when we got home there was news that my father-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer and needed immediate surgery. My husband and I packed up the grandkids and headed off for Michigan to help DFIL. We left our adult kids home to fend for themselves. Gone two weeks.

I did manage to work on writing some lesson plans for the StitchMap Beginner's Hardanger Class while I sat around but computer time was limited to the library only because my in-laws are not a part of the computer age.

Everything went well and we returned home just in time for school to start. Grace began kindergarten, Axel the 3rd grade and Baby Belle is going twice a week to pre-school because she is a "Terrific Tot", LOL. I have to admit that they do keep me busy and on my toes! Here are their school photos.

My husband did have to return to Michigan for his father to have further surgery and to help him set up his house for his aftercare. DH was gone 6 weeks. I had all the chauffeuring duties that he would normally do to attend to in addition to my regular chores. I managed to come through in pretty good condition considering the hour I had to rise and shine each morning to get my son and daughter off to work and then the kids to school. I gained a new appreciation for my husband's contribution of providing our daily transportation.

I spent many happy hours working with my apprentices at StitchMap on CQ and Hardanger classes. I also presented a One Stitch Challenge to the members and we had fun with the painting of fabric and the embellishment of it using just one stitch which was kept secret until after the fabric painting had been done. One of the members of MAP has a family member who lost a precious Wedding Quilt Wallhanging in a house fire. I worked on a block for the Wedding Quilt Replacement that the ladies of MAP are contributing their efforts to. The blocks will be finished and sent to the family soon.

I began my duties as the Program Chairperson for the Pikes Peak Chapter of EGA in September. We had a successful fundraising auction in October despite the fact that we were inundated with snow and ice the night before. In November I helped teach a workshop in Aztec Stitch. We made bookmarks in bright colors using 18 ct. canvas and #8 perle cotton. Our December holiday meeting was a delight. Julie Sprinkle came and spoke to us about tatting. She brought a wedding dress that had tatted lace on it, many examples of her tatted jewelry and her shuttle collection. My friends Erica and Connie and I spent a day experimenting with Kool Aid dyeing and will use the resulting fabrics in an EGA workshop this coming spring. Can't wait to show you what we are making.......but I must! Check back in April, LOL.

Somewhere in there Grace lost her first tooth and when we first noticed how loose it was I began making her a tooth fairy pillow out of selvages that had been sent to me by friends from various on-line stitching groups I belong to. I took advantage of the sewing machine time to piece one for Belle to use down the road, too. I embellished the pillows with CQ seam treatments of the most simple type so that there were no beads to scratch the girls' faces or catch Grace's beautiful long hair as it lies under her pillow. I am happy to report I finished Grace's just 10 minutes before the tooth was pulled! It was used a second time just 2 days before Christmas.

I also went to Albuquerque, New Mexico one weekend this fall with my husband. While he attended a seminar for Flight Instructors I caught up on reading my new stitching books, watching a tatting DVD, and editing the next lesson of the StitchMap Basic CQ Course. Well, that was the first day. The next day I went shopping and checked out some local needlework shops, quilt shops and a bead shop. OOoops! That bead shop was the best experience of the weekend. I brought home 21# of beads that were all on sale at 40% or more off the regular price. Of course I had to share with DD Moon when I got home. I also saw some crafts in the store next door to the bead shop that gave me some ideas for future projects and at the needlework shop they had some really cool finishing techniques that they shared with me.

The week of Christmas the whole family came down with varying degrees of the flu bug. I think mine has taken on the disguise of a head cold and queasy stomach. The children were sick over Christmas and we just took it easy on Christmas Day. The kids opened their gifts, we had small meals and enjoyed each other's love and companionship. On the following Monday my oldest daughter came down from Denver and we brought my mother home from the nursing facility. We had their Christmas and our holiday meal.

I want to thank everyone who sent me such great gifties this year from their blog give-aways and PIFs. I did manage to pay forward my obligatory gifts this month. Great big warm hugs to all my friends who sent me the selvages to make the little tooth pillows and some gifts for my stitching buddies (can't say what 'cuz I am still working on those, lol). Thanks to all the ladies on the needlework groups I belong to for all the sharing they do and for the constant supply of eye candy they inspired me with and to everyone who reads this blog and bothers to comment. You all mean so much to me.

My last thank you is to the ladies of my Yahoo Group StitchMap. The road was bumpy at first but to those who stuck it are all like family to me. To those who have joined recently and are taking such an active part in the are the reason the group is growing and your eagerness to learn and share means the world to me. To each Moderator, Mentor, Stash Angel, and are the BEST! I couldn't have done it without your support. If it weren't for your patience and understanding I am sure we wouldn't have progressed as quickly as we have. I am honored to know each and every one of you, so proud to call you my friends and I am in awe of your talents! Thanks for being there, without you........well there just wouldn't be a MAP, would there?

I hope the New Year brings you unlimited stitching time, prosperity and happiness!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Altoid Tin Swaps

I recently participated in the Decorated Tin Swap at CQI. I embellished 2 tins and received 2 tins. It was really a lot of fun to do. In return I received 2 decorated tins of approximately the same size.

I embellished one Altoid tin with a photo transfer of a lady's face. I used Golden's Gel Medium to make the transfer onto the fabric. I surrounded the lady with silk ribbon flowers and sparkly jewel decorations. I added a black cord to hide the rough edge where the fabric and the tin came together. Then I used a clear silver glittered nail polish to paint the fabric, touch the flowers and cord with it, too. Next, I used some buttons to finish the piece off. The tin was lined with felt so she can carry any number of items in it. This tin and the goodies I stuffed it with were sent to Mary Lear.

The second tin I decorated was a 4" square one that was about 3" deep. I made a CQ top for it with fabrics in colors listed as being amongst the recipient's favorites. I embroidered a metallic thread heart, her initial and some seam treatments on it. I added some flower and butterfly sequins, a satin ribbon rose, a festive metallic braid along one seam, and I used gimp to edge it with. I also used gimp along the edge of the tin's lid. I covered the sides of the tin in a metallic ribbon and lined it with felt. I finished the inside with a cording around the felt pieces. Once again, I stuffed it full of fabrics and other goodies then sent it to its new home...with Lyn Gaskill.

Here is a picture of the tin that Mary sent to me. It is embellished with pearls, an organza ribbon rose and some glass leaf beads. There is a cute lace with a metallic thread running thru it on the side of the tin and a pink rose trim around the lid edge. She also included a few fabric pieces.

The other tin I received was from Ann Flowers. She found a way to make a small purse out of an Altoid Tin! It is so sweet and in the perfect earthtone colors to fit into my house. She created a mini-CQ for the top and bottom sides of the tin, added gimp around the edges and a ribbon handle. Inside she created a pad to lay my scissors on and a mini pincushion to match! She also filled it with ceramic buttons, vintage lace and other goodies. My granddaughter, Grace (age 4) loved this one! She tried to take it away saying it was "perfect for a small princess"!

This was a challenging and fun swap to participate in. There were over 70 very creative and inspirational tins swapped in all. No two alike, imagine that!

Friday, July 3, 2009

New Yahoo Group Growing Fast

As some of you may know I recently started a new Yahoo Group with some other ladies. It is called StitchMAP(MAP). You can see a promote button for it and its sister group Stash Angels and Mentors (SAM) on my sidebar. One reason it has taken me over a month to post this new blog entry is because we have been very busy at MAP. In June we launched our new Basic CQ Course with 16 people taking the course - for free! We don't charge. We also have mentors teaching Hardanger classes right now. There are plans to have a Color Theory Group Class this fall, a Beginner's Hardanger Course in the fall and a Beginner's Tatting course written by the first of the year. We have waiting lists for all of these classes and for Blackwork, Basic Embroidery, Brazilian Embroidery and Silk Ribbon Embroidery.

One of the exciting things we did was start our own Group Blog - K.N.A.S.S. (Keeping Needlearts Alive by Sharing Stitches). It is really worth looking at to see what we have been up to, the contests, the prizes, etc. In fact, we are having a give-away contest for the public there right now. Check it out at the link above and try your hand at the Teaser quiz. There is a sweet little prize for the winner.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Some Bargains Come Around Only Once

For some reason I have a little time tonight so I thought I would share with you what I picked up on a recent trip to the Dollar Tree Store. I enjoy this store because everything is still just a $1. My daughter, Moon, and I made a pact to go into the store and find some items that could possibly be used on a CQ and not spend more than $10 for the trip. We were to go in and out in just 15 minutes. One of the great things about the dollar stores is that their inventory changes all the time and you can always find something different. The drawback is that if you like it you had better buy it because it might not be there next time!

Because we had just passed the Easter holiday the store was still full of spring type merchandise. I picked up 2 rolls of good quality 1/2" wide satin ribbon to use for ruching, bows and folded flowers. I also found some narrow gold braid which will be great for laying on a seam and couching down with beads. One thing I have always had trouble finding at the dollar stores is beads. But, this time I hit the jackpot. The beads I found were already strung into something else. Eyeglass holders! They have some very uniform sized beads in great colors and some super little novelty beads on them. I just had to have them! I bought the 4 packages below for myself and then one of each for a friend. Of course, this put me over the $10 limit I had imposed but really, some of it was for my friend and my portion was below $10, LOL.

Aren't the little butterflies and flowers cute? They came in a variety of colors too! The metallic hearts are really great and I wish they had more of those! You have to think outside the box when you are looking in there for this stuff, that's for sure.

I'd also like to share a little blue bear that lives in my bedroom. I think I have mentioned my dear friend Nelle Stafford before. She was my CQ mentor and she was so creative! She could sew like nobodie's business too! She spent several years perfecting a teddy bear pattern that she could use for CQ purposes. It had to set up, not fall over, be large enough to show off her seams and embroidery. As she grew older she quit doing her CQ and started to give it away for the benefit of others. She would donate bears, of all sizes, that she had made to our EGA chapter's annual auction. Everyone wanted to have a Stafford Bear. If you didn't have one that she had made for you out of love or that you had paid her to make for you then this could be your last chance to get one of the few left in her personal collection. I am happy to say I have 3 Stafford bears! One that she made for me out of love and one small jointed one that I bought at the auction (paid a pretty penny for it too - everyone wanted it).

The third bear I own that Nelle did the work on is actually a TY bear that she made a vest and beret for. I named him Neil (as close as I could get to Nelle). Here he is in his finery.

I am very grateful that Nelle was a part of my life. She had the sweetest disposition. She taught me a lot about transferring patterns and interpreting how to do them in various embroidery stitches. Near the end of her stitching life she had trouble making the embroidery meet her own high standards so she quit. "While I am ahead of the CQ Gods" she laughed. I like to think of her now as being in heaven teaching some little angels to stitch those beautiful, perfectly spaced seam treatments and flower petals.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Chance To Pay It Forward (PIF)

Recently on Beatrice's Stitching With A View blog she had a PIF sign up. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first 5 to sign up and am now obligated to Pay It Forward. Beatrice sent this darling little cross stitched ornament hanger.

Now it's my my turn to Pay It Forward in a similar manner.

This is the way it goes...
The first 5... yes five... people to comment on this post only, within the next 10 days, that they are willing to PIF....Will receive a gift made by me.

There is a CATCH.. PIF

1-You MUST do the same... post this on "Your blog" and pass on to FIVE folks as well.
2-You will receive this gift within the year.
3- I'm getting ready to start stitching my gifts to the 5 people.
4- If you don't want to Pay It Forward please leave the space for someone who would like too.
5- It MUST be something handmade/created by you in your favorite technique. It doesn't have to be a large gift, just heartfelt and it would help if you would be happy to receive it yourself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stash Angels, Mentors and Apprentices

I have been extra busy for the past two months starting two new Yahoo Groups - Stash Angels and Mentors (SAM) and StitchMap (MAP). The idea for these groups came to me recently, when I began to mentor Amy A. in the art of CQ. Pretty soon I was mentoring Wanda S. too. I met both of these ladies through one of the CQ Yahoo Groups I belong to. Word got out that I was mentoring and other beginning stitchers began to ask if I would help mentor them through various steps in CQ and other techniques. They all wanted to enhance their repertoire of embroidery skills. I knew I didn't have time to help them all and yet, I wanted to assist them in getting the help they were seeking. Obviously, there was a need for more mentors. I spoke to some friends who had varied stitching and teaching backgrounds. As a result of these discussions the idea was conceived to start SAM and MAP.

The hope was to find as many accomplished needle artists as possible who were willing to share their knowledge FREE. They would be paired, one-on-one, with apprentices wanting to learn the basics in any of a variety of needlework techniques. All in the hope of carrying the love of needlework into the future. However, it was discussed that most of us cannot start a new project or craft without the proper tools. In today's economy it is not always easy to afford the variety of threads, fabrics and notions that we might need, or like to have, to start a new stitching technique. So, an invitation was extended to several other friends to come along for the ride. These ladies were known to be curently in the process of de-stashing or to be extremely generous with their excess stash. Within a few days the first apprentices were assigned to mentors and a list of stitchers in need of small stash enhancements was identified. SAM and MAP were up and running.

The sub-group StitchMap (MAP) was formed to better fit the needs of the Apprentices and the Stash Angels. Mentors belong to SAM. All mentoring assignments are handed out through SAM and this is the site on which Mentors discuss any teaching problems or triumphs, get reference information about teaching seminars, and discuss the possibility of upcoming group classes, etc. Everyone belongs to MAP. It is the social forum and where we share our individual photo albums, store our tutorials, helpful hints, favorite online shopping sites, have our contests, and so forth. Each apprentice also has a project photo album to share a pictoral journey of their mentored project with all its trials and tribulations. New features are being added all the time. The wonderful thing is that SAM was set up to reach out to needle enthusiasts in many techniques. There are apprentices who are doing CQ, Hardanger, Xstitch, SRE, and more! There is even a mentor to help you create a blog. Online classes (members only) will be started very soon and we will be doing some projects together for charitable causes.

If you are interested in being a Stash Angel, a Mentor or an Apprentice in some form of needlework....If you would like one-on-one mentoring through a current or new project....if you want to have a great group of supportive stitchers around you to keep you focused.....then you just might want to check out SAM and MAP. Everything is FREE! No charge, as in no cash, credit cards or checks. It is hoped that ultimately each apprentice will strive to pay forward what she/he has received by becoming a Stash Angel and/or a mentor at some point along their journey. And it is working! Hooray!

I have put Yahoo Group Buttons on the left side of my blog for each of these groups. Click on the button and you will be taken to the Join This Group Page. After you fill out the application you will receive a short questionnaire. Fill out the required questionnaire and return it. Your membership will be approved and the information you have supplied will be used to make sure you are put in the right group(s), with the right mentor, Stash Angel and/or apprentice. Everyone is welcome to join us in assuring that the love of stitchery does not die out during our lifetimes, for lack of effort on our part.

Here are some pictures of small stash enhancements my own apprentices sent to their mentor in the last 2 weeks! They are so sweet to send these thank you gifties. I will definitely find a way to use them that will remind me of Amy and Wanda.

In the picture above Amy has sent me some burgundy and mauve fabrics left over from piecing her first CQ RR block with my help. The other fabrics are some that she has used previously in sane quilting. The yellow at the top of the picture is a wool sweater of her husband's. She sent it so I could felt it for my needlefelting. How thoughtful was that? I hope he doesn't get cold without it next winter because I love the soft yellow!

This picture is of some vintage fabrics Amy found on a shopping trip right after we had begun the mentoring process. I am thrilled she shared some of these treasures with me! There are also some fish beads and other trims and notions that she thought I might be able to use. Love the fishies!

This is a picture of some wonderful bead soup that Wanda sent me. It has some very unique animal skin printed beads in it. I had just picked up a vest from the thrift store with African animals and grasses, etc. on it that I thought would make a cute box top for a man. Lo and behold, the next day these beads arrive! This week she sent the rest of the matching beads she had left and some African animal charms to boot! What a special lady she is. I think the darling little friendship heart will be a favorite of this mentor for a long time to come.

Do consider joining all of the ladies at SAM and MAP. You won't be disappointed!

Better Late Than Never

I am so remiss in my blog efforts and showing the wonderful goodies that have come through the mail the past few weeks. I really must catch up. This first blurb should have been blogged the week of April 21 actually.

My friend Lyn G. has a blog teaser contest each month on her own blog Quilting Lion. It is always about a Broadway figure from the past. She has as one of her prizes a large squishie (baggieof stash) and I have been fortunate enough to win the main prize in the past. In fact, I have previously posted pictures of the things I have won from her blog teaser contest. She has begun to add some lovely CQ'd items besides the squishie to her prize list. I won a CQ'd pin keep she made out of old CD's earlier this year. This past month she offered a CQ'd pouch that was just outstanding.

The problem I had in trying to win the pouch is that Lyn has gotten smarter. LOL She made it the special prize for answering the extra bonus question. Someone else sent her that answer while I was busy trying to research the main body of questions for the overall prize. And I have to tell you, she is making the questions a little bit harder every month. I think she is hoping I will quit sending my entry and give someone else a chance to win. VBG But, I am tenacious and I WON the April Teaser. I just love the challenge. However, in the sense of fairplay I am going to, with this win, put myself on a self-imposed no entry status for a 3 month period. She has been so generous and I have been so greedy, LOL. Not really, I just loved the challenge and the subject matter. It is one of the reasons we are good friends online - we share several common interests. So, I urge each of you to check out her blog about the end of the first week of each month and challenge yourself to win one of her wonderful gifts. I would love to read your name there as being the winner. Just remember, I will return in August!

Here are some pictures of what I won. They might inspire you to give it a shot. Lyn is no slouch at putting together a prize winner's squishie!

LOADS OF FABRIC SWATCHES! Perfect for CQ or for embroidery or silk ribbon work. What a recycling genius! She is a real Thrift Store Diva!

Lots of lace, trims (love the featehrs and fluffy stuff! LOL) and embellishments. See that little baggie of pumpkins (all orange upper mid-left)? They were open and flew out of the mailer when I opened it. Baby Belle loved them!

A couple of days later I got a greeting card from Lyn with these beautiful burned silk autumn leaves in it. She had been practicing and decided to send me some because I am a fall earth tones type of gal. Thanks, Lyn.

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!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating a Sampler For Life

Most people who know me or have listened to me expound on my love for CQ know that I consider CQs a form of sampler. If they have listened closely they will realize I also have a passion for counted thread samplers. CQs provide me a canvas on which to explore a variety of various techniques not always possible to put on a traditional evenweave linen sampler. As a matter of fact, counted thread samplers were my stitching passion long before I began seriously CQing. I enjoy counted thread techniques such as Hardanger, pulled and drawn thread, Blackwork, Assissi, counted cross stitch, and many ethnic embroidery techniques. I am a member of The Sampler Life yahoo needlework group. They are having a challenge this month to create your own sampler. I have not had enough time to create a NEW sampler for this challenge so I have decided to share with my new friends some samplers I have designed in the past.

The sampler pictured below is the first one that I created on my own. It uses a variety of motifs meaningful to me. Many were supplied by a wonderful lady named Pam Darney, whom I met through EGA. Others I found on my own. She gave our chapter a workshop and lecture on how to create your own samplers. She also educated us on the meaning of certain motifs that have been used by sampler makers throughout history.

I call this HER WORK and it is stitched on 32 ct. natural linen. It is, for the most part, stitched over 2 threads. It has some simple dividing bands of cross stitch, longarm cross, Montenegrin stitch, and arrowhead satin. The alphabet and numbers are done in cross stitch with a couple of small cross motifs that include unpulled Algerian eyelet stitches done over 4 threads. The pineapple (a symbol of welcome)is a mix of over 2 cross stitch and over 2 Algerian eyelets. The EGA and the COS are stitched in eyelets done in the Dutch manner, as is the heart. The little blue and gold motif is done in rice stitch. The COS stands for Colorado Springs, where I attend EGA. The next little motif has an over 2 satin stitch cross and all the other motifs are done in cross stitch. The strawberry petit point band is done over 1. The other symbols I chose were a deer to symbolize the hunt, a beagle because we raise them, a robin for the birds I see first each spring, a bowl of fruit for wealth/plenty, a tall flower stem to symbolize the hollyhocks in my garden, and a Scandinavian star by the house because we are Danish. The heart over the house represents the love therein, the pine tree is for our native pines in the yard, a woman (who could she be?) and a traditional verse of rememberance that says to me that we are all walking the same learning curve of life. The tall flower is typical for European samplers and I am part Czech - it was as close as I could find and that I liked. The Her Work is done in 2 colored rice stitch and cross stitch. I had to add the playful squirrel and acorn because we have them in the yard all year around. The peacock is also a symbol of welcome. His tail has Algerian eyelets and he has a FK eye. The final strawberry border is a favorite of my grandmother's so it had to be included in her honor. This sampler measures 18 1/2" x 8 1/2". It was stitched in Danish Flower Threads by Dansk Blomstergarn. I love the matte look they give to the work.

This next sampler is one I designed to honor my husband's tour of duty in the Desert Storm conflict. I used a technique that Pam Darney talked about in her lecture - hidden meanings and codes in the stitching. This was an effort to give the sampler my personal spin on the history of the time the sampler represents. I began stitching on it the day he left for DS and ended it when he came home. It would have been much longer if he had stayed there longer! It is stitched on 27 ct. Glenshee linen in DMC cotton floss.

I chose to use cross stitch over 2 theads for most of the stitching. There are some exceptions. The border is an arrrowhead satin stitch, the green border under the last line of alphabet is rice stitch, the center of the for-get-me-not is an Algerian eyelet, the tail feathers of the peacock are double Algerian eyelets, the verse (which gave me confidence he would return home)is petit point over 1 thread, there are some French knots and some backstitching. The Indidan symbol is eyelet, straight and ray stitches.

Here are some of the hidden codes: The yellow ribbon border should be self explanatory, we all wore them if we had someone over there we wanted to come home. My flower barrels on the front of our house were wrapped in them as well. In the first alphabet all the light blue letters are the letters in VICTORY, which we prayed for. The light blue numbers 191 are the month and year he left to go to DS. The green dividing band between alphabets is to signify the Saudi flag. In the second alphabet all the dark clue letters spell Louie, his name. The dividing band after that is red, white, and blue for the American Flag. In the third alphabet the medium blue letters spell SAUDI, those that we were fighting with.

There is a for-gt-me-not, a red cross for the medical unit he flew with (the 1022 out of Wyoming National Guard), the American flags, the palm trees, mosques, peacocks, chestnuts, camels and amaranths that he saw while he was over there. The star symbolizes the night flying he did the majority of the time he was there. The USA map has the states of Wyoming and Colorado stitched in separate colors to signify where we lived and where his unit flew from. The phone was how we communicated (no computer then), the $ shows what we talked about because I had to take over the bill paying in his absence, the Yorkie was our little Bailey who also missed him. The mail box has the flag up because I wrote him everyday. The glasses are there to remind me that he wore them, he got them just 2 days before he left! There is also a Native American symbol for hope, a bowl of apples, which he missed, another yellow ribbon, our house with love over it. The eagle is in fighting mode with an olive branch and arrows for peace and war. I wanted it over (peace) but I wanted it to be worth the sacrifice if I lost him (fight to the end).

I hope you found this a little interesting. I have written the story of this sampler on the back of the board it is mounted on. If it should outlive me perhaps someone in another era will look at it and learn a bit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

RR Block For Margareet

I put the last few stitches into Margareet's CQ RR block this afternoon. I tried hard to keep the colors "soft" as she had requested. I hope she likes what I have done. Here is the seam treatment I did using chain stitches to form half circles. I used Needle Necessities Spring II which is 50% cotton/50% rayon. It is about the size of a perle cotton #8. The gold rays are Kreinik Fine Braid #4 in 002J. The mother-of-pearl button beads and the peachy glass beads are both from different necklaces I have had in my stash drawer for a long time. I bought them at thrift stores and took them apart to use on CQ's and other projects. I used pearlized seed beads to hold them on and golden glass beads on the gold rays.

This next picture shows the opposite corner of the block, where I used a small section of a beautiful ribbon I won from Cathy K. when she had her 100th blog give-away drawing. I think it makes a nice seam treatment and it brings together some of the metallic elements from the other side of the block. I also added the bullion rose, buds and beads. I used Needle Necessities Overdyed French Wool #21 for the flower and #37 for the leaves/stems. The seed beads were added to help balance the mulberry ribbon of Diane's work in the center of the block. As always you can click on any picture to enlarge it if you wish.

This next picture is of my favorite. I think it turned out pretty well. I believe this patch began life as a section of a fancy napkin or something similar. I started with stem stitching the vine/stem pattern. Then I added the leaves, using a fly stitch. The thread I used was an overdyed cotton floss from Weeks Dye Works. It is color #1189 - Butter Bean. Don't you just love that name? It rolls off the tongue, LOL. The flowers are done in a buttonhole stitch out of another Needle Necessities overdye. This one is cotton floss #622. The napkin edge is in buttonhole stitch and done with Needle Necessities overdyed cotton floss # 652. I finished the small flowers off with seed pearls and used a slightly larger pearl on the scallops.

Here is the overall view of Margareet's block now that Diane and I have completed our work. It still has to go to Rose Anne and Ritva before it gets back to Margareet. I will drop it in the mail tomorrow.