10 April 2015

Cleaning up the Garden


Violets are one of my most favorite of all flowers - right up there with roses and lilacs!  When I lived in Iowa, I loved how violets covered the lawns in spring time - enough that I was able to pick enough blossoms to make violet syrup for the first time!  In Colorado, violets don't always do well.  The summers are too hot and dry and the winter too uneven in temps to allow them to thrive.   

Last spring, just before tearing out the old flagstone patio, my daughter and I discovered a few small violet plants blooming among the flagstones.  We tenderly dug them up and transplanted them into the large flowerbeds in the side yard.  Most of the summer they looked rather forlorn.  I really wasn't sure they would survive the summer, much less the winter. 

Today, taking advantage of a beautiful day, I decided to catch up on some garden work, namely clearing out the side gardens to prepare them for spring and summer.  What a delight to discover that not only had the violets survived the winter, but they were thriving and blooming like crazy!  Such big glorious blossoms!  I am in heaven!  


The violets are on each side of the garden path - they don't really show up from a distance - but I know they are there and it makes my heart glad!  


After clearing out a huge pile of old stalks and leaves from last year's gardens, all the freshly growing plants have space to grow!  It's time to get the sweet peas planted around the tuteurs!  Last year I got them in far to late and they never did much, though the morning glories were fabulous! 


I found another surprise when I cleaned things up - a blossom on the Centaurea Montana (Perennial Bachelor Button).  The variety is Amethyst in Snow.  It didn't bloom last year, but looks like it's off to a fabulous start this year!  

All the bulbs I planted last fall are coming up along the flagstone walk by the driveway!  I've been weeding a bit, so it's not terribly neat at the moment.  The Apricot Blush tulips are pretty orange!  Soon, the brown forsythia branches above them will be bursting into bloom!  Maybe then the old leaves left from last year will finally drop off! 


A closer look at some of the hyacinths along the flagstone walk.  I love the large fragrant hyacinths!  I  also enjoy Grape Hyacinths and planted an assortment of pale blue and white varieties on this side of the house.  The front walk is lined with the old fashioned purple spreading variety.  


The bed along the driveway is coming up as well!  A few tiny crocus, a different variety of pale blue grape hyacinth (seen up close below), several varieties of tulips and some allium that will bloom later.  One of the lilacs actually has blossoms on it this year!  I wasn't expecting any for another two or three years!  


Loving these pale blue beauties!  I can imagine what this bed will look like in a few years as these multiply!  It won't be long until it's time to plant some annuals to fill in the bed for summer.  

It's a beautiful spring here and I'm so grateful for such a lovely day in the garden!  

05 April 2015

Jesus Christ Is Risen! {Happy Easter!}

St. Martin's Cross on Iona
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 
Philippians 2:5-11

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 
Romans 10:9

Wishing you a very Blessed and Joyful Easter! 

03 April 2015

Summer's Garden CQ

This summer, I'll be teaching a Crazy Quilting 101 class at The Loopy Ewe in Fort Collins, CO!  This is the sample block that is going to be displayed in the shop!  It's an 8 inch block with enough seams to try out a few of the basic embroidered seams and to play  bit with some simple motifs. 

To start with, we are going to try a 3 week class series with 2 hours a class and homework to complete in between!  I'm so excited to be starting this new adventure!  

I'm hoping that this block isn't too ambitious for a six hour class!  We'll learn how to piece a block during the first class and apply the lace trim.  The second class, we'll learn how to do a few basic embroidery seam stitches.  The last class, we'll finish whatever embroidery seams we didn't finish in week 2 and learn about adding beads, buttons and some little motifs.   

Can't wait to get started!   The first class is June 13, 20 and 27th from 10:00 to noon.  The second class will be July 23, 30 and August 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  If you are in the area and would like to join in, watch the Loopy Ewe website for class details and registration, which will be coming soon! 

02 April 2015

Needlework Satchel

With several trips coming up, a couple of which involve taking my stitching projects and accompany accoutrements, I wanted a case to keep everything contained in a lovely manner.  My daughter and spent an evening looking through pattern books for something that I could modify without having to reinvent the wheel and discovered a Simplicity Pattern (#1238 os) for a doll case that was just the kind of thing that I was after.  

I had several fabrics to choose from, and ended up going with my favorite natural linen trimmed with green.  In the past, I have made several cosmetic bags, that I use when traveling, from the same fabrics that are also embroidered with the same type of button flowers.  

I only had to make a few minor modifications to make the case work for my purposes!  Mostly I added the front pocket that can stash a handout or small project, and widened the sides by about 1 1/2".  Inside, I eliminated the doll accoutrements and bed that the pattern called for and instead added some elastic straps to hold thread and bead cases in place more securely.   Eventually, I would like to add a shoulder strap to it, but that will happen down the road. 

One of the things I love about it, is that when fully loaded, it actually stands up on its own!  The overall size is 14 1/2" tall x 17" wide x 6" deep. 

When opened, it lays out flat, so I'll be able to put it at my place and have everything I need within easy reach and somewhat organized!  I'd like to add two "packing" style cubes to this to contain some of the smaller items.  There's even room for my small battery operated LED OTT light!  

On the right side, there is a plastic case of the beads I am using on my CQJP 2015 project, my stitching book, a velux bead mat, a bag of stitching threads on metal rings and several bags containing projects I am currently working on. 

On the left , there are two plastic cases for threads.  One contains an assortment of embroidery threads, particularly variegated varieties, which I really love in CQ work!  The other contains an assortment of pearl cotton spools for the projects I am working on.  There is the small battery operated Ott Light, my pincushion, a pouch containing large scissors, pens, pencils, disappearing ink markers, a small ruler and a 4" embroidery hoop.  I've also included two little fabric baskets, one of which contains some bead-mixes that I'm using on my current projects and the other contains a ring of embroidery threads and silk ribbon that I'm using on my current CQJP blocks.  There is also another little stack of beads that didn't fit in the other case.  Lastly, you can see my Hussif, which contains the basics of all my sewing tools, and which can also be used separately as a mini-needlework pouch that fits in my handbag. 

Front of Hussif
I posted much more about my Hussif when I was making it back in 2009.

Here is the inside of the Hussif now.  Assorted needles and pins on the left.  On the right, small embroidery scissors, some bone sewing implements and laying tools, a tatting shuttle, and a micron pen and needle threader. 

The left flap opens out and reveals rings to hold thread or in this case, silk ribbons.  The pocket under the pincushion/needle area is where I keep my set of Sharon Boggen CQ templates (my favorite, other than the old Dritz scalloped ruler that is in the scissor pouch), and the pocket on the right I use to contain miscellaneous bits.  If I'm using the hussif separate from the big satchel, it might contain the block that I am stitching on at the moment.  

The bit of lace towards the left is actually a small pouch that contains my thimbles and the green velvet strawberry underneath is filled with emery to smooth rough needles.  

Altogether, the hussif measures about 8" x 6" x 2" when folded and about 8" x 18" when unfolded.  Small enough to drop in my (large) handbag, but large enough to contain the basics I need when working on a simple CQ block or piece of embroidery. I like the fact that I can also use it in the larger satchel as well without having to come up with other solutions for holding the miscellaneous small stuff that goes with most stitching projects! 

The big Needlework Satchel fits neatly in my suitcase or could be used as a small carryon bag by itself if I choose to.    If I use it as a carry-on, I'll put the pouch with the large scissors and the Ott Light in my checked bag, so I don't lose them to the TSA!  I'll let you know how it all works when I come back from April's Slow Stitching retreat in New Jersey! 

29 March 2015

Beading Class with Nancy Eha


This weekend, the opportunity arose quite suddenly to attend the Colorado Quilting Council monthly meeting to hear Nancy Eha speak.  I really enjoyed hearing her speak and getting to see her work in person after having read her books and spending much time on her website, Bead Creative,  over the past few years.   Then I discovered that there was an open spot available in the workshop!  

I hope she won't mind my sharing a couple of photos of her gorgeous beadwork!a  I love her beaded mandalas and this particular piece was definitely my favorite! 

I also love these mandalas with their interwoven layers of beading that float above the fabric.

This is the sampler piece that I worked on in class.  There was much to learn and not enough time to get the center mandala finished, but I was able to get a start on it! 

These were my favorite motifs of the day.  What you can't see in the photos is that the main beads sit elevated above the fabric.  The decorative beads around them are directly on the fabric.  When you see it in person, it has a delightful texture to it!  We had some cube beads to play with.  I've seen them in the bead shops before, but never purchased any as I wasn't sure how I'd use them.  Well... that is going to have to change because they add such a nice element!  The flat planes capture the light completely differently than the rounded beads.

We also tried a bit of elevated bead weaving.  Here you can see the platform beads underneath that hold the beadwork off the fabric.

We also played with curves and varying the platform heights by adding more beads to it.

These "oval" chains were the hardest for me.  I could not get them to lay correctly ~ something to work on!  

It was great fun to sit and stitch with other like minded folks and to learn a few new things!  That's the best part of taking classes ~ even when you "think" you know it all already (something I am guilty of thinking far too often!), there is always something new to learn, a tip or trick to make something easier or simply to have an excuse to play in a new and different way!  In this class, I got to learn some new things, added a few tips/tricks to my bag AND got to play!  What an enjoyable time!  Thank you Nancy!

p.s.  Nancy has several books out.  What we learned in class was primarily from her book, Bead Creative Art Quilts.  Clicking on the photo below will take you to Amazon, but you can also get it directly from her website; Bead Creative!  She also teaches online courses if you are interested! 


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