Tuesday, December 25, 2012


"Believe" has a special meaning for my mother, and so it was a natural to use it as a theme for this year's Christmas stitching.


Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Alexander's Christmas Quilt

It's Finished!!!!

I'm not 100% sure a white backing was a wise choice for a teenage boy, but I wanted to clear it out, and I thought the red stitching would be neat on it.


I was looking for Christmasy quilting patterns and remembered this wonderful site. I thought the star flower looked like a poinsettia, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Flashback Friday

I had always wanted to have a Flashback Friday feature for posting the projects of yesteryear, but it's hard enough to carve out time to stay current, when would I dig out the old stuff? Motivation arrived in an email from Webshots earlier this month that the site was closing and converting to a paid site, so you had to download your photos prior to December 1st if you wanted them. Fortunately it came with a nifty link that made it simple.


I've had lots of fun perusing photos of the beading I used to do and quilts I've given away that I forgot about. So here we arrive at the first installment of Flashback Friday!

Caterpillar Bracelets

I am a bracelet person and I loved, loved making and wearing this bracelet. It has since broken from overuse and the beads have been recycled into various projects by my daughter.


I think I made this one for one of my nieces?


These are my one-and-only commissioned pieces. A dear friend was getting married and presented these to her flower girls. How time flies! The same friend just had a baby this week, her second darling little girl!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sewing Class

I had the opportunity to attend a special sewing class last night with many of my quilting friends. A teacher was in town for another class and offered to put together kits to make a wool pumpkin pin cushion. Yes, please!


So this is me getting over my compulsion to assign a purpose to everything. Such as, I'll only spend time and money making a quilt because it's for a gift. Or, I'm only taking this class because I'm learning a new skill that will improve my technique.

I have one friend in particular that has been unknowingly helping to liberate me. She taught me tatting. I mean, tell me, who NEEDS the product of tatting? Who needs 12 inches handmade lace made of knots and loops that took a week to make? But it's beautiful and you can finally use the hand-dyed thread you made yourself (that has also been languishing without purpose)! This friend is also a master of freehand embroidery. A couple of years ago she was working on.... something - maybe we'd call it a doodle cloth - couching down amazing fibers, attaching metal keys and zipper parts, applying appliqué. It was beautiful! Scrumptious and soft and buttery yellow with bursts of color trailing across the surface. I asked her, "What is that for?" She said, "I don't know."

What she really didn't know was how her answer stopped my brain in its tracks. I was thinking, 'How can you not know?' How can you work on something *without a purpose*? Because if I am not being a mother to my children or entertaining my husband or working at my job or doing something that will benefit others, then what is the *purpose* of that activity?

I have passed up so many opportunities to engage because I would think, 'How many craft items can I frame and hang on a wall anyway?' or 'How many things do I just need to move around to dust?' or 'I already know how to sew and stuff a pillow, why do I need to pay to take that class?'

I'm learning new answers to those questions that include, 'because it's pretty' and 'because it brings me joy.'

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On a quilting spree

I finished quilting "Alexander's Christmas Quilt" (he called dibs) and am working on the binding. I took advantage of the weekend, though, and pinned the next quilt to be quilted, another one by Bonnie Hunter. This one I made using all of her original colors, and I love it.



I'm not sure when I'll have another block of time to quilt it, but I'm ready! I loved glancing at the hundreds of fabrics in it when I was pinning it, and it'll be fun to see each one as I quilt it.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Quilter's elf

The family was gone this weekend, so I set up my workshop in the dining room and spent the day blissfully quilting. I'm not sure when I started this Christmas quilt. It may be from a combination of classes I took when I was a guild member. I put all the pieces together sometime earlier this year and it's been sitting, waiting for me to get batting.
I quilt my quilts myself, and I pin them by taping the backing to the dining room floor, then layering the batting and top.



My fantasy is to have a Christmas quilt on every bed in the house someday. We'll see who calls dibs on this one.



Although I know that this is the busy season for elves, really, I do not need a four-legged one to help me with my quilting.



Saturday, October 27, 2012


All around the blogosphere people are rejoicing in the first lit fires of the season, the patter of acorns dropping around them, the abundance of gourds finding their way to the farmer's market and the emergence of scarves into their wardrobes.

What does fall mean here on the border by the sea? Only two more months of hurricane season. Temps drop 10 degrees to the low 90s. Friday night football games = a sweat bath in the bleachers with the heat of the direct setting sun ruining any chance of enjoying a hot and spicy Frito Pie. The browned front lawn taking a final gasp after the drought of the summer.

It also means: gloriously unpopulated beaches, lingering evenings on the patio, the will to bike and walk outside again

A bay as smooth as glass

A glorious fall day on the beach


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Note to self: review checklist carefully

Back in the old days, I used to be much more involved in my local quilt guild. I actually belonged to the guild, number one, and I would participate in swaps, retreats, activities, etc. Then life interfered, and my free time became completely unpredictable. All my crafting and quilting took place at home in whatever snatches of time I could carve out. But over the past year or so I've made an effort to reconnect. While I wish I could still attend guild meetings and retreats and Saturday sew-ins, I've at least committing to joining "Wooley Bee."

Wooley Bee is like my "Cheers". When you walk in, everyone looks up from their projects and exclaims "Hello!" "So good to see you!" "Can't wait to see what you're working on!" We're allowed to complain about work, commiserate over family issues, share our triumphs, oogle handiwork, show off purchases that receive appropriate levels of appreciation, and give into peer pressure to start yet another project. Oh yes, and we also sew. And sometimes we actually sew wool projects at Wooley Bee.

At last night's particular meeting, I was planning to work on my hexi project (not a scrap of wool in site), but, as I mentioned, I have good momentum going that I want to keep. It's also super portable and I knew I could crank out some rows of hexis while chatting and catching up with everyone. Too bad I didn't bring thread. Really. And none of my buddies had any regular sewing thread, because they were using fancy thread for their wool projects: wool thread, sparkly thread, beading thread, pearl cotton thread... No cotton sewing thread to be found. And the quilt store next door was closed. Aaaaarg.

But maybe it was a blessing in disguise because I did bring my own pearl cotton, and was forced to embroider my next sea creature: the dolphin. I had used a chain stitch for the outline on the birds because I wanted it to look full and feathery. I wanted a smoother effect for the dolphin. The stem stitch wasn't working out with the pearl cotton, so I used a backstitch. The problem was that a single backstitch wasn't bold enough on the dark background. A second line of backstitch gave it the width it needed, and kept the primitive style I was looking for. And going around the dolphin a second time was much more palatable surrounded by excellent company that it would have been in front of the TV at home.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Hexi Project

August was kind of a lost month. We took a family vacation, which meant we were gone for about 10 days. As soon as we returned, the kids were off and running to their extracurricular activities that were beginning several weeks before their classes began. August is also one of my busiest times at work.

So of course I started a new project!

I had a baggie full of 5" batik squares from an online swap I was in a million years ago... or maybe 5 or 6 years ago. They were so pretty that I really couldn't bear to cut into them. But my unofficial resolution this year has been to use the pretty stuff. What am I doing just keeping it folded up in storage bins?

I was looking through this book recently for a wool pattern when I ran across a great hexagon pattern that featured primitave embroidered chickens. Inspired by my batiks and our recent family vacation, I decided to remake with an ocean theme.

It calls for more than 625 hexagons. But I've had help.

I've been alternating between making hexagons and embroidering, so I had to see how the hexis might frame some of my shorebirds...

I chose to use a darker background for the embroidery, as the original pattern called for. I really like it. I want to do more embroidery on prints too. But I've been working steadily on this project for a few weeks, so I'm going to try to keep my up monmentum on a single project.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dress makeover

I have this dress that I really love... maybe because the first time I wore it was to a wine tasting shortly after I got divorced and a close colleague of mine exclaimed, "Girl! You look like you're 20 years old!" (and I hadn't been 20 for a while). And then I wore it to Acapulco on my honeymoon a few years later and I love the picture of the two of us having a perfect dinner overlooking Acapulco Bay while the sun is setting.
So when I got a stain on it at some mysterious time and place, and hadn't noticed, I was upset. Upset enough to go ahead and wear it to whatever event I got it out for the next time, with the plan to pretend that it just happened. But I knew I could only pull that off so many times.
I ran across this pattern online, fell in love with it, and decided the folk art peacock would be just the thing to embroider over the stain.
Fast forward about one year of "aging" the pattern in my stiching stash while I gained some more experience with stitching on stretchy fabric...
Although the pattern was an iron-on transfer, I wanted the peacock to face the opposite direction so it would face into the center of the dress. I traced the pattern with a micron pigma pen onto water soluable stabilizer. This turned out to be a stroke of genius become some of the lines in the pattern were too delicate for the thread and fabric I was using and the lines of the pattern would not have been perfectly covered. This way I had some leeway to adapt my stitches.
I actually ended up cutting out the piece of stabilzer twice because the first time around I didn't make sure it was big enought to be caught entirely in the hoop and the tension would have been way off. Luckily, I figured this out before I had it all traced.

Then I basted the stabilzer to the dress so it wouldn't shift as I was stitching.
I used mostly DMC stranded cotten, but also used some metallic silver thread to give it a little sparkle. I often wear silver sandals with the dress, so I thought that would be fun.
I wasn't sure how it would turn out positioned on the dress, but it really turned out great. I'm very happy that I did not give up on this dress and now it's ready to go with me on vacation!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wooly Leaf Exchange

I'm so excited about the exchange I'm doing with a friend. Our goal is to make 10 sets of two leaves (keep one and trade one) and then we'll take it from there later.

I've been wanting to try the whipped wheel since I've been seeing it all over the web-maybe at Take a Stitch Tuesday first? I made my spoke points by using coins and buttons as guides. After adding the bullion stitch border, it needed a little something else, and I think the beads added some pizzaz.

I can't wait to see dozens of the leaves together on a sampler!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dye Party!

Some of my quilty friends hosted a dye party. This time I took some languishing thread left over from an old girl scout project and did some over dying. I can't wait to use it in an embellished wooly leaf exchange I'm participating in!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bonus Triangle Project Continued....

I used only a few of my bonus triangles to piece together a background for my new project and then tried to figure out how to transfer the heart pattern I made from tissue paper. First I traced around it with chalk, but that wasn't showing up well enough. Then I decided to quickly machine baste around it and that worked out great.

I took my prepped background to Wooley Bee and was able to attach all the leaves and begin embroidering the vine.
 I finished up the vine the next day and decided it was too pretty to get beat up in use as a project bag, so now I'm thinking I might make it into a pillow.

Stay tuned. This kind of edge-of-your-seat excitement never ends around here!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bonus triangle project

I've got dozens and dozens of bonus triangles that resulted from making the quilt blocks for Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. I'm planning on making an embroidered project bag that will have a lot of wool leaves. I've needed something new to work on at Wooley Bee.

Amazing embroidery inspiration can be found at www.facilececile.com. She has a new book out and I'm trying to decide if it matters that it's in French.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A new project!

I need something simple and portable to work on this summer, so I've started a new quilt by Crabapple Hill: Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage.

Ellen helped me color on the crows and now I'm embroidering them. Hopefully she'll stay enthusiastic about coloring because there are many blocks to go and they are really big.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Busy hands

How many inches of lace can you tat at a middle school band concert?

About 12

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A little chicken feeder

My husband and I love to go to a little downtown street festival a city in our area holds each month. There's live music, food and vendors selling everything from antiques to plants. We picked up a chicken feeder that I thought would be cute to use as a planter. When I was working late one day, my husband suprised me by planting it with succulents we had been collecting and hanging it up next to our patio.
We have a chain link fence separating the backyard from the alley that we are in "stage one" of camoflaging. We're planning to plant some jasmine vines all along it, which will look great eventually twining around the chicken feeder. Baby steps!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I'm Working on Wednesday

Wow! Green! Even though I was enjoying that yummy blue silk, it's nice to finally hit one of the other two colors.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Waste canvas: not just for sweatshirts and geese

I first learned to cross stitch in junior high school, but got really into it in the early 90s when I was in college. I guess it was a stress-buster during breaks from studying, juggling work, etc.

Remember back in the 80s-90s when many of the cross stitch designs were cute little geese and teddy bears and Christmas nutcrackers? I decided that it would be great to have some sweatshirts or t-shirts with these kinds of designs stitched into them and bought some waste canvas to make it happen.

Fortunately good sense or lack of time prevented it from happening. Meanwhile, I've had this waste canvas in my stash all this time, and I finally pulled it out for my crazy quilt project.

I think you're supposed to baste it onto your fabric, but it was such a little piece that I just used a couple of pins. The stitch count is very high - maybe 14 ct - so I had to search for a motif that was small enough to fit onto a little patch. I settled on some cutie birds from Blackbird Designs.

After stitching, I trimmed the waste canvas close to the stitching. Since the directions had gone missing long ago, I couldn't remember if you were suposed to wet the canvass to loosen the starch/glue that tacks the fibers together, but I didn't want to wet the border, which worked out to be fine. I pulled out the stitches with tweezers.

All done! Oops, except for a missing stitch on the first bird's tail. Well, good thing I was looking at the photos while I'm still in the middle of it all. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What I'm Working on Wednesday

For a long time, I've been wanting to make a crazy quilt wall hanging for my son. I have a photograph of him from when we went hiking and camping at Goose Island State Park that I love, so I thought I'd make it the centerpiece of the little quilt.

I printed the photo on fabric and pieced together the borders some time ago. Then I got distracted by holiday gift crafting.

Now I've been able to rejoin one of my stitching groups that meets once a month so the time is perfect to pull it back out.

Most of the work so far has taken place on the bottom border. Alexander liked the macrame lace. I stitched his monogram and added one of his Boy Scout patches. I have plans for some beading on many of the seams.

A while back I stumbled across a wonderful book at the Half Price Bookstore. I've since learned it's out of print and considered quite a treasure on the used book market. I don't think I paid more than $12 for it and it's going for $50-$1000 online. Wow!

Embroidered Flora & Fauna: Three-Dimensional Textured Embroidery

The stitching in it is really wonderful. Alexander picked out a few motifs that he liked and I started with this fish. I like how it turned out for a first attempt.

Now I'm going to have to figure out the seams and border around the photo so it doesn't look like the fish is biting Alexander in the behind.