Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A WELCOME farewell

At last the WELCOME has come home, stretched and framed to hang on the wall. I have to admit to being disappointed with it though because of all the wrinkles in it. My husband picked it up last month, but I only saw a photo of it last week. I may have to take it elsewhere and have it redone--even if it means pinning it. At least we have it for Thanksgiving. Here are a few final photos to document the completion of this project and the start of our enjoyment of it in our every day lives.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

November celebrations

November is my big month for celebrations. I have four friends with birthdays in November, my sister, sister-in-law, step son and nephew are November babies, and my sister, I and another friend all have November wedding anniversaries. Needless to say, I have been stitching madly trying to get birthday and Christmas presents done--although I think I have hit my limit for what I can do this year. If it isn't done by Thanksgiving, it will turn into a "next year" gift.


But, the November trend isn't over. My friends are now having their own November babies. It seems to be a perpetual cycle! Because I can't show you gifts that have yet to be given, I am instead going to show you gifts I made several years ago.


For a first birthday gift for a good friend's first child, I decided to experiment with laser printing on fabric, and I was was quite pleased with how it turned out. I printed Isabel's name and birthdate on pre-treated fabric and then back stitched around the letters and sewed it into a pillow. Quick, easy, fun and, I think, particularly cheerful. I'd like to do more with technique, although I need to experiment with treating my own fabric. I think it could be a lot of fun to use other colors or types of fabric in this way.


Here is another birthday gift made a few years ago, after I moved to Colorado and started learning Brazilian embroidery. This pattern by Anna G Brazilian Embroidery is called "Christian" and measures 6" by 8". When I had it framed, the turkey work at the center of the daisy was so hight it almost touched the glass.

So happy birthday to all those Scorpios out there! The world wouldn't be the same without you.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crazy quilt WIP (work in progress)

Back in August I went to a fellow stitcher's house and learned how to sew my very first crazy quilt block. I have dreams of turning this first block into a whole quilt depicting the seasons. I anticipate it will take me years to finish--especially if I work on it as sporadically as I have worked on this block. But, after a few months of finishing other projects, I am getting back to my crazy quilt. This will be one of four "summer" blocks and it represents summers sailing on Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island.

I am planning to stitch a little sailboat in one corner, but as you can see, I am just about done with my first motif, a crab, which is my zodiac sign. I've been carrying this pattern with me for 20 years and I am happy to have finally found the perfect project to stitch it on.

I intend to have fun with this project and will share it with you as I progress.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quilters in space!!

If you follow DMC's blog, you've likely seen the video of Karen Nyberg, an astronaut on the International Space Station, explaining how to quilt in space. If not, you have to see this video! It is one of the coolest, nerdiest things I have ever seen and it makes me want to whip out a needle here on earth.


Karen Nyberg is an engineer and an astronaut. She is also an avid quilter who has teamed with the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas to challenge quilters to make star-themed quilt blocks. All blocks submitted by August 1, 2014 will be used to make star-themed quilts, along with the blocks Nyberg sews in space. The quilts will be featured at the fall quilt show (October 30 - November 2, 2014). Blocks must be 9.5" square. They can be made from any fabric and in any color and must be signed on the front by the stitcher. Attendees will also hear Karen speak about sewing in space.


As a child I spent a lot of time at our local planetarium, so this challenge is particularly interesting to me. My Dad coordinated educational programming with the planetarium and all of the guys in the basement were "uncles." I remember the big concrete room where they all worked creating graphics and electronic music for the shows and programming the room full of computers that ran the projector (now it's all done from one desktop computer). It was always exciting to visit. My sister and I even liked the hallway, which was textured grey concrete, with black walls lit with spotlights. We'd happily jump from one lighted spot to another while Dad conducted his business.


We always had space stuff in the house, and that crept into our needlework. When I went to college, the laundry bag Mom made me featured signs of the zodiac. And I once tried to make a baby quilt that simulated a starry night. I don't have a photo, but it was strips of blue diamonds on a white ground, with occasional yellow diamonds for twinkling stars. I was proud of my creativity, but my quilting left a lot to be desired. I forgot to stretch the backing fabric and it turned out quite crooked.


For more inspiring space themed projects, check out DMC's blog and Michelle Hamill's Stichin Fingers page. She is a creative embroiderer who stitched a truly magnificent blackwork piece depicting the inner solar system, as well as beautiful chain stitch Jupiter.


Quilting in space is one the coolest and most unexpected hobbies I've ever heard of. For those of us who are earthbound, though, you may want to consider putting your personnel touch on the solar system by submitting a star block to the Houston International Quilt show.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Precious memories from a difficult time

After my recent post about the quilt that I loved to tatters, my mother informed me that she had begun hand piecing it while I was in the hospital. I have many memories associated with that quilt, but not that one, which is perfectly reasonable since I spent the first week in the hospital begging for morphine and the second week figuring out how to walk with a cast that went from the top of my head to the bottom of my hips. Surprisingly, however, I do have some needlework memories associated with that time.


It was the summer that I turned 14 and school had just ended when I went into the hospital for scoliosis surgery. Two years of exercises and braces hadn't corrected the S-shaped curves in my spine, which by then measured approximately 47 degrees on top and then twisted back into another 27 degree curve. The only choice I was given was to have surgery then, or to take a year off before college. I elected to have it right away since I would have to wear my brace another 3 years if I decided to wait.


Being in the pediatric ward, I was entitled to a toy. Mine, for teens, was a 1-foot square rug hooking kit. The pattern depicted a rainbow coming up and out of a raining cloud, which, thinking back, was somewhat inspirational. I enjoyed working that kit since there was very little to do in general, and even less that I was allowed to do. I've never hooked anything since, but I still remember how therapeutic it was.


My second needlework memory is of my sister. Both of us emulate our parents in many ways. I inherited my father's love of history and my mother's passion for needlework. My sister inherited a love for music. In fact, she teaches string instruments to Junior High students and has a successful string quartet that plays weddings and other functions. That summer she decided to make me a present--a stuffed sun bear. We had sun bears in the local zoo, so I recognized it right away. But there was something not quite right about this one. His white chest patch was perfect and his face was adorable, but his arms were sewn on upside down! I could never quite get used to that, and looking at him in the hospital made me feel a little broken too. Being a self-centered teen, I never did thank her properly, but 30 years later I can still recall exactly what he looked like. So, better late than never. Thanks Jennifer! It may have taken me 30 years to say it, but I appreciate the time that you spent sewing that little bear and he really was cute! (And happy birthday to you too!)


It is funny when I think back on that time. Most of my memories are ones I want to forget, but these few are precious.

There are very few photos of me in my cast. I had to dig up my high school year book to find these!
I made my jumper in this photo. Not too fashionable, but it fit over the cast!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday's work in progress

I'm traveling for work this week and crossing my fingers that I may have some time for needlework, although it seems unlikely since the days will be busy. Even so, I brought my latest project with me--one of my resolution projects done with crayon and DMC floss. I spent much of my guild meeting working on it last weekend. It must be done by the end of the month for my nephew's birthday. Here is a glimpse of what I am working on. I'll show you the rest after I finish and find out how well Simon likes it!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

A whale of a used book sale

One of my all time favorite things about living in Colorado is not the mountains--the heights and sheer drop offs scare me to death--but the Jefferson County Whale of a Used Book Sale. Held twice a year at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds, there are over 90,000 used books for sale. All proceeds go to fund children and teen programming at the county libraries.

Aren't the crowds amazing? And this was only 15 minutes after the sale opened!


The fall book sale was last weekend and I waited to go until Sunday, which is $6 bag day--all the books and audiobooks you can fit into a grocery bag for $6. This year's sale was particularly good. After 30 minutes I was making my way to the cash register because there were just too many books I wanted. I had to get out of there or risk running out of shelving.

Books fill up the entire hall--and downstairs too!

They had an especially good selection of audiobooks--and surprisingly few people looking at them! I came away with 17 new selections to listen to while I stitch, sew and cook. They are really my favorite entertainment and it is always good to have some on hand in case I finish one while the library is closed!

My haul of books!


I also came away with a nice selection of mysteries and history books and some fantastic deals on stitching books, including one of Erica Wilson's books! Just glancing through it has given me some good ideas that I will be developing next year. Additionally, seeing her on the cover makes me realize that SHE was the woman on PBS all those years ago that first inspired me as a little girl to pick up a needle. I can't wait to read it!


I also got a nice survey book on embroidery styles and history, a pattern book that looks like it will be a lot more fun to read than my Vogue pattern fitting book, and an audiobook with a story revolving around a sewing circle. I'm in 7th heaven surrounded by books and stitching! I only wish my friends and family would plan their visits around the book sale--they would need an extra suitcase to bring all their finds home!

An illustration from Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing. Who can honestly say they haven't tried this or something similar?!