Sunday, January 4, 2015

Try, Try Again

I've jumped back into blogging.  My heart wanted it.  It's my partner, my coach, my diary.  It was time.  I've been stitching more and more over the past few months.  It makes me happy.  (I just wish it had aerobic benefits!)  I've kept up with favorite blogs, who constantly inspire and amaze me.  Instagram and Facebook may be a better match for some, but I prefer blogs.

I'm stitching this little guy today.  He's mister July :-)

I love snowmen.  And stars.

Knitting had been whispering to me for quite a while.  I finally gave in.  I discovered the wonderful Ravelry.  I learned to knit when I was little.  You Tube helped me remember.  I learned to knit the right-hand method... or English, or throwing.  But I'm working on the Continental method, practicing until I'm confident that my stitches are consistent.  Good brain exercise.  It's starting to make sense and come more easily.  Baby steps.   

See?  Snowmen.  Stars.  

Good thing to do on a bitter cold day.  (Yeah, that zero was the high today.)

I'm linking to Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday.  (What a wonderful idea!)  I should be able to sneak in a few more stitches before bed.  

I've written an ambitious list to accomplish in 2015.  Yay.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Enjoying the journey

I will never be accused of speeding through my stitching projects!  I won't be the person who churns out quilt after quilt in a month.  I do wish I was faster, but I trust I'll improve with time.  I have learned to enjoy each step of the journey.  While some people don't "get" why we stitch, there is something very satisfying in the creation, accomplishment, and beauty of what we create. 

The journey with 'Love Entwined' begins - appropriately - with a compass.   

Here's where I'm at.  

And here's how I got here.

My first hurdle was deciding on colors and fabric.  With my handy new hinged mirror (love it!)  I only needed a few snips of fabric for each view.  Many, many, MANY of these combos tried to convince me they were “it”.  Deciding wasn’t easy.  (And based on the Yahoo BOM group's messages, I'm not alone!)  

I looked at the photos I took, pulled out possible candidates for pieces further down the road in future blocks, and gave the ideas time to reveal the direction (pun intended   :-).  

In the end, I really liked the navy, red, and taupe prints.  Since it's a busy pattern, I plan to use occasional neutrals, like the taupe, to give some relief.  The green and yellow (and other colors) will find their way in soon enough.  

Believe it or not, these three fabrics are my compass "background" with some selective cutting.  I really like the text in the rose fabric.  (These 3 turned out more subtle than I thought they'd be, but I'm satisfied.)  

Fabric decision made, on to piecing!  I’ve paper pieced before, but knew I’d be happier with the results if I could hand piece it successfully.  I used doubled freezer paper, ironed the pieces to the fabric, outlined  with a mechanical pencil, and cut the pieces with my add-a-quarter ruler.   

 Remember I said "if I could hand piece it successfully?"  Key word: SUCCESSFULLY?!?   : )

Let’s just say the first section was lovely... and a big oops!  I managed to match my pieces “backwards”.  Thank goodness for the overlay I made!  Each time I finished a section, I gently finger pressed the seems open and checked the section against the overlay.    

My oops was a sacrifice... rather than risk using pieces that were stretched out of shape from taking them apart, I cut new pieces.  

(FYI, since I modified the compass pattern slightly, my piece numbers don't match the pattern.) 

Phew, MUCH better!

With 48 pieces in a 7 1/2” circle, precision was critical.  I figured that if I stitched right on the line, using a fairly thin needle (John James #11 Sharps) and thin thread (Aurifil 50/2), that should work.  That, and tiny stitches.

I was super careful with matching (probably excessive!) and took my time.   I would pin through the crosshair of the tip and matching spots...


making sure it went through the exact spots on the back.

I poked more pins through the stitching line (the yellow headed ones), then carefully held the seam while I put in the pins with the blue heads, and then removed the yellow headed pins.    

I started each seam one stitch from the end so the knot wouldn’t interfere with sewing later pieces (shown from the back, below),   

took I backstitch to the starting point then stitched down the line...

always checking the back to make sure I stayed on the line on the back too.  (The shiny two spots in the blue circle are my needle.)  I managed 2-4 stitches at a time.  

When three pieces met I’d work my way “around” the seams.  Nice explanations here and here

Oooooh, happy moment!

Once I finished stitching the compass pieces together, my next challenge was pressing it.  I looked at what others had done and googled pressing mariner’s compass... all rotating clockwise?... open flat?... combo?  I have the crazy ambitious crazy idea that I might hand quilt this.  Therefore I decided to press towards each point and press the seam of the V’s  in between the compass points open.  I’m hoping it will also give my points a little extra “body” and will give me space to hand quilt in the white V’s next to the points.  

I worked my way around the circle,  pressing only one side of each point and opening the V seams.   

Then I worked my way around again, pressing the other side of each compass point onto the point.    

For the final pressing I flipped the compass right side up, used my template to make sure everything was perfectly aligned and placed pins around the edge of the circle to hold it in position while I ironed from the front.  (Fortunately no ironing-police caught me, lol!)  

Now to choose my fabrics for the compass center, ring and dots.  

This certainly is stretching my skills.  And I LOVE it!  

Happy dance... I can’t wait to get to applique!  

Oh... the other reason this is taking time is that I've been watching this little sweetheart (first - only - DGS) the last few weekends.  Exploring, laughing, walking, bopping to the music... life as an almost-1-year-old.   

I forgot how fast they grow.  Stitching will wait. 

Monday, August 5, 2013


Wow, it's been a long time!  I've decided to re-start my blog.  Why?  That's a good question, and I've thought about it for awhile.  
  • It pushes me.  It keeps me motivated and there's an accountability, even if it's just to myself.  When I post, I want to show what I'm doing.... and that keeps me doing!  It creates mini goals.  I can get distracted or too involved in work to remember to take time to do what I love, and create. 
  • To record what I've done.  I enjoy being able to look back - an online album, if you will.
  • To connect.  How lucky we are to live when we can connect with others all over the world that share common interests and understand the passion we feel about needlecraft!      
  • To show.  It's neat to be able to show what I've done, especially to others that appreciate the work.  I have lovely friends who admire it, but really don't "get it".  
  • To share.  I am inspired and learn from the blogs I read.  How special if I am able to do the same for someone else.   

I've got a few things that I'm working on.  The picture at the top is just one.  The pattern that has snowmen.  I have a sweet spot for snowmen.   : ) 

But I am most excited about my latest start.  It's a beautiful, intricate appliqué quilt named Love Entwined, Esther Aliu's free BOM.  It has me captivated.  Not only do I have the gift of this amazing pattern, but by signing up, I have joined an amazing group who range from beginners to experienced and share their talents and tips generously.  There are even some who have written books that I own (!).  

I've copied the compass center onto freezer paper.  (My numbering is different than the pattern, and is what worked for me.)  

I've done more, but will save that for next time.  

I'll leave you with a shot of color.  

May your hands stay busy, and happy!  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Knock, knock

Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Ima who?

Ima bad blogger who hasn't posted in, well, longer-than-expected and hasn't produced a lot either... at least not much that's easy to show.  No exciting reason... heavy on work, light on energy. 

Let's skip the stuff that's not as "show-able"... practicing hand quilting, playing with expanding a design of a table runner* into a larger size.  (* Sweet Escape pattern from the book "On the Run" by Heather of Anka's Treasures, pic here.) 

Yesterday I gave in to this temptation. 

Little 3" hand-pieced Klosjes (which translates to spools).  Very cute. 

Take a few hundred and .......... what, did I lose some of you?  a few hundred sounds too daunting? .......... maybe you need to see how neat it looks.  Check this out.  Pretty, isn't it? 

I liked a slightly larger middle square than you get with a 9 square layout, so I drafted my own pattern.  I think I know how I can share it and will let you know in a couple days. 

Sensible-me was asking impulsive-me to explain why we were taking on another project.  Why?  It's one of those take anywhere projects... very portable.  Requires templates for only 2 shapes.  It will improve my hand-piecing speed and skill, including y-seams.   

Yes, but what about the time it will take?  If you stop yourself because how long something might take, it's important to remember that time will move on anyhow... and rather than having something wonderful in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or even 10 years, there will be nothing except the passing of years. 

Plus, I get to play with lots of fabric.  I switched my rotary blade, and wavy-cut the edges and washed and pressed some new additions.

A few weeks back, I made some other purchases. 

I bought a honey bun of Patisserie and a pattern.  The pattern is made up of three simple blocks: a rail fence, a 9-patch and setting squares.  That'll be my next machine-stitched project. 

I also gave in to another temptation.  I'd seen such beautiful cross stitch on blogs, especially the Quaker samplers.  I visited a wonderful shop, Stitchville USA, and ended up with the following pattern.  It's not a Quaker sampler, but once I saw it I had to have it.

I'm enjoying my first time using linen and silk floss.  The linen is 32 count... requiring great light and my cheaters. 

Originally I only stitched guidelines on the outside edge and center lines.  I knew better, but was anxious to start.  I added the red guidelines after I discovered that the top row is off by one thread (which will be redone). 

I've wanted to use variegated thread for a project, and chose some lovely floss. But some of the light shades are too similar to the color of the linen and aren't showing well. If I'm going to do that much stitching, it needs to be seen! I'll be making another trip to Stitchville soon. :-)

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day.  It is the first ever March that there hasn't been snow.  EVER! ... or at least in the 100 plus years they've been keeping records.  These little guys are starting to poke up and it won't be long till they bloom.

Officially, there is no snow on the ground.  My yard has always been a straggler and hangs on to snow longer.  I resisted taking the shovel and tossing it all in the street, lol.  (Yes, I've done it in previous years.)

My blog reading is soooo behind and I'm slowly working on making my visits and seeing what everyone else has been doing.  I need to be strong and resist any more temptations.  :-)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My first quilt - chapter 7

We left off on the quest to replace the cheddar.  Aww come on, you knew I'd be visiting my local quilt shops!  Let's just say I did a fine job growing my stash.  It came down to these last 6, and any one of them would have worked.  (Yes, I really did pin the blocks to these candidates and lay it on my couch in this struggle to decide.)  But in the end, there was one that spoke to me. 

Ta da!  Did you guess right? 

There was more drama as I finished piecing the top.  My faithful friend - my seam ripper - helped me out of a few "accidents", without judgement.  My other faithful friend - Bella, our dog - caused a real accident.  See? 

Fortunately, neither the dog nor the machine were hurt.  Bella is a Newfoundland.  She caught the cord with her leg, and luckily the machine didn't fall on her.  It emphasized the need to find a permanent spot to set up my sewing.  The dining table won't work for what's clearly more than a passing interest (as in, I'm loving quilting!!). 

The machine?  It's built like a tank... all metal and nothing broke. 

Here's a couple more shots.  I worked on it last night.

It's been a good test of my sewing skills.  There are a few points that got chopped off and it's about a 1/4" bigger than it's supposed to be.  But none of that bothers this perfectionist. 

Here's a full shot.  The top is done!!  I love to run my hands over it and feel all those seams. 

Oh yeah, I'm hooked!

I've selected the next pattern and purchased fabric.  It's 51" x 51", so I'm moving up in size, but it does seem a bit small for a lap quilt.  I've been doing the math on increasing it to 51" x 59 1/2" or 59 1/2" x 68".  (If you have advice on the best size, let me know.)  I need to get more fabric if I increase the size, and because the fabric line was released nearly a year ago it's getting tougher locating it, but I think I found a source today. 

(I also purchased a beautiful, cross stitch sampler, linen and silk thread.  I'll share that soon.) 

Of course the little top isn't a quilt until it's quilted.  I'm going to give hand quilting a whirl.  Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes.  Thanks for everyone's encouragement and words of wisdom!!!!  You're the best!


As promised, here's a couple neat winter shots.

The snow on the railing slid off, but it was solid enough that it stayed this way all day!  Pretty wild!

Winter is quiet.  The snow muffles and absorbs all noise. 

Winter is clear.  The air and sky are so clear this time of year. 

Winter is white.  That's obvious. 

But winter is also blue.  The whole world turns beautiful shades of blue at dawn and dusk.  I took this shot early one morning.  It really was that color. 

Enjoy your weather wherever you live!  And may your hands stay busy and happy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sign language

See my hand waving to you?  That's my first "sign language", letting you know I'm still here.  I know I've been "gone" for awhile.  Lately sewing, and blogging, has come in fits and spurts.  I'd love it if it were more even and steady, bu reality is that my job can have demanding stretches, and combined with life's obligations, sometimes I'm left with little time - or energy - for those pleasures.  

I have managed to make progress on my little quilt, but I've been trying to hold off showing it until it's together.  I'm "this" close!  See my hand with my finger and thumb nearly touching?

I've joined tonight's Friday Night Sew In again.  Fingers-crossed that the top gets finished tonight.  I think it's doable.

Here's some visual shots of the word accumulate.  My thumb is pointing down.  I don't hate winter, but at this point I'm looking forward to it going away.

All the lovely evergreens that were in the pot are buried. 

That's a 48" metal ruler shoved into the snow pile near the door. 

Looking out the front to the left down the street. 

Looking up the street.  The sun came out!

You can almost make out the steps leading up the back yard from the house. 

These icicles are a big thumbs down.  When I was little, I thought they were so cool looking.  Now I know that the damage they can cause to a house.  (Ice forms along the roof edge, called ice dams, and when the snow melts, the ice can block the water from running off the roof.  With no where to go, the water can leak into the roof.  The ice was removed shortly after these pics.)

(I've got a couple other shots to share next time, showing a couple neat things about winter and snow.) 

For those of you who stopped by, a high five to you for paying me a visit.  I will try my best to post more regularly, and I hope you'll be understanding if I fall off course from time to time. 

These fingers are ready to sew, click and type.  TGIF! 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My first quilt - chapter 6

Chapter 6

The plot thickens. 

(This is the point of tension in the story, where something happens to throw everything off balance.) 

As the pieces were laid out, there was a problem. 

The cheddar-y blocks just weren't working for me. It looked promising when it was a pile of uncut fat quarters, but now... not so much.

I can't explain it. There may be some of you who don't see a problem. I don't mean to offend anyone. But it's got to feel right.  And it didn't.

There's also the pressure of the being the "first quilt".  (Picture those words in blinking lights, recited by a deep, reverberating voice... firrrssstt quillllttt....  lol.) 

Rise to the challenge!  I can overcome. 

I think I can... fix it with a different color for the blocks.

I think I can... try a different layout.

No, no, no, stick to the original design, missy! 

I think I can.... keep pulling out the stash.

That's only some of the things I tried.  Through the process I took the pics for my benefit, as a way to step back. Of course there's also the squint-your-eyes technique.  Do the beginning quilting classes teach that one?  :-)

I have one more idea I'm picturing in my head.  If I'm lucky, it's waiting for me on the shelf of my local quilt shop. 

If not, I'm going to go with one of the above and call it good enough.  (If I told you which one, that would be cheating, now wouldn't it?!)


Thanks for sashaying with me down the square dance memory lane yesterday.  Wow, what fun memories that brings back.

Writing this little story reminded me of other things I learned long ago, like plot and climax and resolution.  Remember protagonist and antagonist?  (Oooo, found those words in a dusty back corner of my brain!)

Of course, I'm the protagonist. 

My son has taken an interest in this quilt, which is surprising and sweet.  He's 17, that age when male communication is often scattered words and gutteral sounds that require an interpreter.  (He's used to me teasing him about it.)  Anyhow... he looked at some of the ideas and asked questions.  So, what did he think?  When he found out this was only going to be a little quilt, he said I should keep going and make it into a big quilt.  You know what that makes him? 

The antagonist.  (LOL.)

(No siding with him!  I'm tryng to get this done!) 

Meanwhile, I saw this quilt on the cover and had to buy the magazine.

Makes my heart beat faster.  Me and complicated quilts... moth to a light, like moth to a light.