30 November 2011

Autumn Walks

Magnificent Sycamore
My Mom has been here visiting for the past week.  We've taken many lovely autumn walks as my sister and I have shared some of our favorite spots with her!  I always love visiting Montezuma Well, especially the path down to the outlet.  It's a beautiful, peaceful oasis in the midst of a dry desert landscape that never fails to move me.  When we went this week, there was a new sign that said "Warning! Falling Prickly Pear".  This was the view when I looked up to see what they were talking about!  Sure enough, there is a precariously perched prickly pear cactus hanging over the edge of the rocks above, but what really got our attention was the magnificence of the centuries old Arizona Sycamore tree clothed in autumn glory!

Sycamore Leaves
We continued our walk at Montezuma Castle.  Once again the Arizona Sycamore trees were in full glory.  The russet tones of the leaves glowed against the clear blue sky!

Sycamore at Montezuma Castle NM
The white bark of the Sycamore is always stunning, but never more so than right now!

Lonely Dell Ranch - Autumn
Another day, my Mom and I took a drive north to Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River.  Here we enjoyed a walk around the Lonely Dell Ranch.   The old orchard trees still carry an assortment of green to golden leaves and the ground underneath is a tapestry of golden tones.  Just beautiful.

Vermillion Cliffs
Our drive continued on to the Vermillion Cliffs, where we stopped to watch the California Condors.  They were soaring too high to get a picture, though they were easily spotted with binoculars.  The ornithologist was there, tracking 15 of them!  It's always amazing to see them!

Woodland Path
Our last outing before my Mom headed home was to Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona, where we spent a good part of the afternoon at Red Rock Crossing State Park.  We loved the wide leaf covered path through the woods.

Autumn stream
Oak Creek runs just over the right berm in this photo.  This small tributary is really an irrigation ditch that supplies farms downstream, but it has to be one of the loveliest irrigation ditches I've seen!

Sycamore at Red Rock Crossing
There were grand arching Sycamore trees here too.  We stopped and watched the birds along the way.  My Mom is a master birder and with her along on these walks, I was able to learn to identify several birds that were new to me ~ Bridled Titmice, Swenson's Thrushes, and Bewick's Wren among others.

Red Rock Crossing view
The views at Red Rock Crossing are stunning!

Cottonwood at Red Rock Crossing
The golden leaves of this large cottonwood near the parking area just glowed in the afternoon light!  This has been a gorgeous lingering autumn here in Arizona.  Winter is due to arrive in full force in Flagstaff in a couple of days, so I'm extra glad to have had this lovely week of golden days!

25 November 2011

A Lovely Thanksgiving!

Felix and Charlie
We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day at my sister's!   She has two young cats, Felix and Charlie, who have been a joy to watch!  They really made us smile when we spotted them sitting at the end of the kid's table as if waiting patiently for their dinner!

Thanksgiving Table
My sister set a festive table in her lovely home!

Lovely Place Cards
And she made these delightful place cards!  

20 November 2011

Sea Dreams

Sea Dreams Framed
Do you remember this piece?  I started this in August 2008 and "completed" it in October that same year.  Originally, I had intended to mount it around a piece of foam core and used some Moire Satin to frame it, but it never seemed quite right somehow and so it languished, unfinished in a box until this week.

I changed the moire satin to a textured rayon/linen mix that fit the piece better.  Again, I tried mounting it on a piece of foam core, but it just didn't look right.  So I started looking at frames and found this one at IKEA that turned out to be the perfect size with the glass removed.  Another project to cross off my list!

Sea Dreams on location
Here it is, hanging in place in the bathroom.

Sea Dreams
One last look at it in unfiltered daylight, showing it's truer colors.

FYI, when I created this piece, I did a tutorial on how it was pieced.  The first try ended up being too dark and somehow the layout of colors wasn't quite right, so that piece ended up being turned into the Sea Dreams Pincushions (and the CD Pincushion Tutorial) that have gotten much attention since then.  The links to the tutorials are in the side bar.

19 November 2011

Published!

Natural History Mag 10/11
A few weeks ago, I received this magazine in the mail, seemingly out of the blue.  I couldn't figure out if someone had sent me a gift subscription or if it was a marketing thing, or what.  I was quite busy with work and studying for my RNC exam at the time and so set the magazine aside without really looking at it.

Published!
Then a few days ago as I was straightening things up, I found the magazine again and at last remembered that the magazine's art director had contacted me a while back about using one of my photos in an article on the Sonoran Desert, which I had given permission for.

My photo published!
What fun to have one of my photographs published and credited in print!

18 November 2011

Knitting for a New Nephew!

Knit Hat & Booties
I have a new little great nephew and will get to meet him for the first time at Thanksgiving!  Had to knit up a little gift for him!  This little hat and booties is from "Natural Knits for Babies and Moms" by Louisa Harding.  Quick and fun to stitch!

Christmas Cracker Wrap 1
With so many big projects out of the way, there is time to have a little fun!  I signed up to swap two crazy quilted Christmas crackers and got the covers pieced!  It's enjoyable and a bit challenging to look over the recipients preferences and come up with something lovely for them!

Christmas Cracker Wrap 2
This is the second one.  I love the colors in this and think I may have to try a block based on this for myself!

WIP Small Tree Skirt
I started this crazy quilted tree skirt for my little faux tree last year, but didn't get any further than stitching the seams.  I hope to cover this with graceful curlicue branches and holly leaves!

09 November 2011

Finished!

Cream/White CQ Finished!
At long last!  When I started this back in March 2008, inspired by a small post card size piece by BaumCat, I only envisioned doing one 12" block.  It didn't take long for that initial vision to expand into  4 blocks for a wall hanging.  And now, here it is, complete!  It has been such a joy to work on these past 3 1/2 years!

Each block contains some repeating elements.  Here is a list of them.
~ A patch filled with buttonhole stitch leaves
~ A butterfly and a bird
~ A trellis of SRE roses
~ A piece of "sampler" lace crocheted by my Aunt Lois
~ A piece of tatting (except for block 4, which somehow missed out!)
~ A piece of cotton/rayon eyelet lace from my adopted Grandmother Florence Scheerer's petticoat
~ A piece of cotton Cluny type lace, either vintage or new
~ A patch of button flowers with embroidered rayon stems and leaves, inspired by the ones created by Moline.
~ A bone bead Bird or Bunny

There are also two needle lace medallions (one looks more like crochet) that came from my Uncle Jake's great Aunt, who was a missionary to Persia in the late 1800's early 1900's. The tatted medallion was made by my Aunt Lois.

Button Flowers and Buttonhole Leaves
I have so many favorite parts on this piece that I wanted to share some of them with you.  This is the center of the original block.  I loved the robin "silkie" that I picked up at the local scrapbook store.  When I pieced the fabrics, I just used what I had and thus ended up with an assortment of mostly cotton fabrics but a couple pieces of silk as well.  The seams were stitched in vintage pearl cottons as well as new and some lovely silk pearl as well.  On each block, I tried to stitch each seam with different stitches and tried hard not to repeat stitches within each block.  For the most part I succeeded!

One of my very favorite elements is the patch of buttonhole stitch leaves.  Up until this point, I had never stitched without a pre-printed pattern, so to just stitch randomly as I went, was a real challenge and learning experience for me!  

Bird on a Branch
Another favorite element is this patch of a bird on a branch of apple blossoms.  This was the only block whose silkie didn't have a bird on it, so I felt I needed to add a special one!  I used Gerry's method of doing the embroidery on felt and than appliqueing it on after the rest of the embroidery was complete.

Needle Woven Daisy
Each block contains stitches that were new to me, things I'd never really tried before.  I loved the way this needle woven daisy turned out!  I also tatted the clover lace, after seeing a small piece somewhere and writing down what I thought the pattern was.

Flowers
There were lots of new stitches in this corner, from the button stitch wheel flowers, to the spiderweb roses done in embroidery thread, to the cast on petals of the chamomile blossoms and the granitos stitch used for the wheat berries.

Lily of the Valley
The very last completed element was this spray of Lily of the Valley.  I was stumped as to what to do in this space and when I found this vintage motif, knew it would work beautifully in a mix of embroidery and SRE.

Lower Left Corner
Each of the other blocks features a bone bird bead, but I really wanted to include one bunny bead, almost a signature element for me.  At first, I tried putting it in the center of the quilt, but it was not at home there, but when I placed it under the fern in this corner, it was perfect!

Feather stitching is one of my very favorite stitches and I love the finishing touch that it added around the seam binding!  I would have loved to include just a touch of traditional quilting in this piece, but couldn't figure out where.  Now that I look at it, I am thinking I may do about 3 rows of hand quilting to mimic the scallops in the lace.  But first I'll live with it for a few weeks and see if it still seems like a good idea down the road!

Back of Finished Hanging
For the finishing of the quilt, I used the techniques from Allison Aller's Crazy Quilting.  The tiny mother of pearl buttons tack the backing to the flannel interlining to keep everything from shifting.

Hanging tube on back
I placed a tube at the top in order to hang it.  While I'm using a 3/8" dowel at the moment, I hope to change it out to a slightly larger piece of lath.  The tube is large enough to accommodate nearly any size rod that might be used.  I also used two tube pieces rather than one large one so that it can be hung from the center as well as from each end, depending on the needs of where it hangs.  Again, I tried to use all things from my stash, including the backing fabric and the dowel!


Completed Cream White Quilt
So here it is, in all it's glory, hanging between the paintings on my living room wall.

Hanging in my Living Room

08 November 2011

Sneak Peek! (Almost finished!)

Upper Right Corner
The binding is on!  At first, I hadn't planned on adding the binding, but when I got to the finishing stage, realized that without a binding, the edges just didn't seem complete.  The binding helps add a finishing touch to it.  I changed the button on the taupe velvet patch.   This one has a better scale for the location.

New Bird Bead Added
As the finishing stages progressed, I realized that a few elements needed added and/or changed.  I added the bone bird bead to this block.

Center Button
For the center of the quilt, I played with lots of options, but ended up moving this lovely mother of pearl button from it's prior location in the upper right corner down to the center.   It just shines at this location where it was a bit lost before.

Bunny and button added
In the lower left, I added another tiny mother of pearl button with a few beads and below the fern, I added one of my favorite bone bunny beads!

Border without Feather Stitching
While I loved the seam binding border, it needed something a bit more.

Border with Feather Stitching
A bit of feather stitching was just the thing!  I'll finish stitching the remaining three sides tonight.  Tomorrow, I hope to post a photo of the finished quilt hanging on the wall!

07 November 2011

MaMere's Quilt

MaMere's Quilt
Another project finished!  This one has been on my list for... too many decades!  When my kids were small, their great grandmother on their Dad's side, knowing I liked to quilt, sent us this quilt top for me to finish.  She had pieced it, none to carefully (slightly different sized patches, incomplete seams, puckers, etc), with patches cut from old clothes and aprons.  There is quite a mix of colors and textures in there, which I always found a bit jarring, and I'm sure that's what made it languish at the bottom of the project bin for so long.

MaMere's Quilt
Many years ago, I did get so far as to thrift an old sheet for the back, added batting and tied it with yarn, but I never put the binding on it until yesterday.  As I looked over my list of things to finish, I realized that this was one that had languished for far too long and wouldn't take too long to complete.   So I dug out the seam binding I'd bought for it years ago, and got busy on it.

Old Sheet backing
Pinning and machine sewing the binding on took very little time.  Hand stitching the binding on the back side took the remainder of the day.  I also had to fix a number of seams where the patches were coming undone from one another.  I picked up a bit more yarn today to add some more ties at each intersection  as it seems a bit skimpy in that department.  Knowing what I do these days about quilts and comforters, I'd have used something colorful instead of plain old white for the backing.  But it's cozy and warm and I hope that one of the kids will enjoy having it!

05 November 2011

Great Grandma's Afghan

G. Grandma's Afghan
When I attended the family reunion in South Dakota last month, my Aunt Mary brought me a bag and said, "I thought that you should have this."  Now I love gifts like that, when someone has something they think I will love ~ but this turned out to be doubly special!  She went on to tell me that this afghan was crocheted by my Great Grandmother and that she thought that I was the one who would appreciate it and take the time to fix it!  Having that family connection to a piece of beautiful handwork is something I cherish!

There are a few things I've noticed as I've examined the afghan.  All the diagonal rows are matching... except in spots where she must have run out of a particular color, and then there is a subtle change.  I love that she did that!  I also found that many of the blocks were sewn together with a different color yarn.  It makes me think that this was a true, use up your leftovers, afghan!  And yet it all looks wonderful!

Loose Seams
It needs a few repairs where seams have come undone.  Those should be fairly easy to fix.

Repair Needed
Other spots will be a little more difficult where the stitching itself has come undone.  In this spot, the yarn is already there to do the repair, it's just a matter of finagling it together.

Black or Brown?
There are also a few spots where the yarn has simply worn out, mostly in the black areas.  Or is it really black?  Turns out what at first appears to be an all black background is really a mix of black, dark brown and maybe some very dark green!  I have some dark navy blue wool yarn that is a perfect match of weight and density ~ I'm thinking it might work to make the repairs, right in keeping with using what you have, just like my G. Grandma seems to have done when she made this!  I might take a look first though, and see if  I can find some nice old black wool sock yarn of the right density.  What a fun project to work on.  I love being able to take something from my ancestors and fix it up so that those in the future can also enjoy it!

First Snow 5Nov2011
We've had our first real snow of the season!  Nothing compared to what much of the rest of the country has received in the past couple of weeks, but it does mean that autumn is over here and winter has arrived!

First Snow 5Nov2011
I must have a set of pictures like this for the start of every winter that I've been in Flagstaff.   It's hard to believe that it's already been nearly 5 years!  I do love the look of the ponderosa pines covered in fresh snow and the deep blue skies peeking out between the breaking clouds!

Living Room Re-do
Inside, there has been a bit of rearranging as I have acquired a sleeper sofa.  Now I have a lovely spot for people to stay, which is much nicer than an air mattress on the floor.  Mollie Kitty has already picked out her new favorite spot on the top of one of the back cushions!  And Thomas can sit curled up beside me instead of in my lap when I'm busy stitching!

Living Room Shelf #2
Since I had to move some things around in the study as well, this little shelf came out to the living room. A perfect place for the bunnies and a few other critters to show off!

Inspiration Wall of my Study/Studio
The cubby hole shelf moved back into the study.  I loved having it in the living room, but it did tend to look pretty messy when I was in the middle of a project.  The inspiration boards are filled with lovely bits and pieces including quotes and bits of scripture to keep me focused!  The stack of scrapbooking stuff on the right needs another go through as the bins are filled to overflowing!

Study/Studio/Library
The bookshelves continue to overflow as well.  Every now and then I go through and purge them of things I'll never read again, one once in a while, I box up things I want to keep, but don't necessarily want out all the time.  What that means is that I have at least this many books in storage!  Yikes!  I love having the big work table back up in here.  So nice to have a spot to spread out a project and work on it and leave the main living spaces neat and clean!

Cream/White Quilt interlining
And that project on the table?  Today I finished basting the flannel interlining to the Cream/White Crazy Quilt!  Hopefully, in the next post or two, I'll have it all finished to show you!  Now to figure out what I'm going to use to bind it and also where I'm going to hang it!

One last note!  I hadn't posted lately because I was busy studying again!  On Friday, I passed the Maternal Newborn Certification exam, so now I have an advanced certification in my specialty area of nursing!  I also received the results of the IBCLC exam at long last and am pleased to announce that I passed it as well!  So my new credentials are listed as follows: Lisa Boni, RNC IBCLC!

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