31 January 2014

Blocks for a Fan DYB Round Robin

LPBoni Fan DYB Blocks
My blocks are ready to go out for the Fans DYB (Do your own block) Round Robin on CQI!   I debated long and hard about what colors to use.  For a long time, I was going to go with creams and greens ~ my trusty standbys, but then I saw some lovely blocks by Valerie Bothell that you can see here at her blog, Pink Bunny.  From that point on, I couldn't get the idea out of my head of doing black blocks with pink and green embellishment! 

LPBoni Fan DYB Block
What surprised me was how difficult it was to come up with 8 nice different black fabrics with textural interest.  So many black fabrics tend towards a brown undertone or are sheer in nature.  In the long run, I think I came up with a nice assortment of silk, chinese brocade, suiting fabric and some flocked denim.  Hope my stitching partners on this round robin don't hate me for the black as it can be rather difficult to see while stitching on black!   I may actually stitch my block before I send them out as I'm feeling really inspired!  

CQJP January Block WIP 01
I'm also working on my CQJP 2014 block.  This is a 9" block that will get turned into a large pincushion!  The lace bits are old pieces cut from larger stained and damaged pieces.  It's nice that they can go on to live another life once the original purpose is no longer viable.

1st Signs of Spring
Yesterday I was so pleased to see some of the many bulbs I planted in the fall poking up through the ground!  

2014.01.31WinterSnow01
Today, they are buried under 8-9 inches of fresh snow!

2014.01.31WinterSnow02
The pile of snow on the terrace keeps growing with each new snowstorm.

2014.01.31WinterSnow03
Lots and lots of snow with more predicted tonight and again early next week!  I'm grateful to be home for this snowstorm and not having to make the long commute to work on snowy roads.  Speaking of work, there is the possibility that I will get to move to a day shift position in mid-February!  I would appreciate your prayers!  


26 January 2014

A Country Mouse

2014.01.26BPotter01
When I first learned about "Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life " by Marta McDowell I made sure to pre-order it as I dearly wanted to read it and add it to my growing collection of books on Beatrix Potter, especially as it included some artwork I had not seen before.  And being a gardener at heart, and having so enjoyed Beatrix Potter's Hilltop Garden when I was there in 2012, I was really looking forward to learning more about Beatrix Potter's gardening life.  
The book arrived promptly upon publication but I had little time to sit and read it as I wanted.  So it sat on the table next to my chair, waiting for a day when I could sit and savor it.  That day finally happened  this past week!  And on that same day, the last (and most anticipated!) little Beatrix Potter figurine that I ordered for my birthday, also arrived!  
The book has been every bit as enjoyable as I anticipated.  I've reveled in Marta's writing and the lovely bits of Beatrix Potter's art that she included and lovingly remembered walking in so many of the spots she wrote about!  And Timmy Willie, for that is the little mouse's name, sat beside me in all it's cuteness and reminded me what a country mouse I really am!  

2014.01.26BPotter03
Timmy Willie is the gentle antagonist to the character of Johnny Town Mouse in Beatrix Potter's little book, "The Tale of Johnny Town Mouse ".  I always thought the book should have been named the Tale of Timmy Willie, or The Tale of a Country Mouse.  It was always a favorite of mine.  A little country mouse who inadvertently finds himself in the city, discovers it not at all to his liking, who delightfully finds his way back to the country and his pleasant quiet life.  In the course of all these adventures, he meets Johnny Town Mouse who of course prefers his life in the city.  

2014.01.26BPotter02
I love the last thought in this little book, for I too prefer to live in the country, like Timmy Willie.  It suits me and though I don't actually live in the country, I choose the smaller rural city where I live because it feels like a small country town and I like it's peaceful ways.  It's a balm to come home to after my work nights in the big city.  

On the same track, I've just finished re-reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time.  My kids have just been playing around with one of the quizzes on Facebook about what character from the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit that you are, so I had to play along too.  Of course I came out as a Hobbit!  I've often thought that this description of Hobbits was a perfect description of myself: "For they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well ordered and well farmed countryside was their favorite haunt." 

I'm happy and contented to be a quiet country mouse, or to be a peace loving, gardening hobbit!  On these cold January days, it is a delight to be able to spend time inside, cozy and warm with a lovely gardening book, a sweet little vision of Timmy Willie at my side, and dream about my garden plans for the spring!  

25 January 2014

Snowball for Tahlia!

Tahlia's Snowball
Tahlia's snowball block is ready to mail!  This is postcard sized about 4x6".  Tahlia asked for my name, screen name and state to be included on the block and to embellish it in a way that represents me.  She likes peacock colors so that's what I used to piece the block.  At first, I was just going to do seams, but it looked so plain, so I filled it up with lots of stitching, a bit of lace and beads.  

I naturally tend toward the encrusted look when working with bright colors, though I'm not sure just why that is!  

20 January 2014

Birthday Treats

Birthday Roses
Lovely pink and white roses that my daughter gave me for my birthday!   She also made a lovely Chocolate Fondue with strawberries for dessert!  Yum!

Beatrix Potter Figurines
I bought myself a birthday gift ~ two small Beatrix Potter figurines of some of my favorite characters from her books!  

Pincushion Blanks
I've been modifying some of the old pieced blocks to get them ready for stitching into pincushions.  Stitching to commence shortly!  Right now they don't look like much.  I love watching them transform as stitching progresses!  I'll use the large ones to fulfill some of the CQJP2014 challenges.  

17 January 2014

Whispering Hearts

Whispering Hearts Framed
Today I was able to get my Whispering Hearts project framed!  I was so glad to find the frame with the shadow box mat in exactly the right size at Michael's!  So nice to have another project off of the "unfinished project" list!  

Tahlia's Snowball Blk WIP
I've also been making progress on Tahlia's snowball block.  Hope to have it finished this weekend and in the mail on Monday! 

color blocked in
Friday has become my painting and stitching day!  I've been working on this painting ~ slow but sure.  I'll be posting most of my paintings over on my studio blog rather than here in the future, so if you want to follow along on my painting adventures, be sure to check that link from time to time!  

10 January 2014

Getting Organized for CQ

Oregon Junco
Love having the little Juncos visiting!  Such lovely little birds!  When they leave, I'll know that spring is soon to follow!  I think they'll be around for a while this year!

Wrapping Cart label
I've been hunting for something to help me keep my crazy quilting supplies handy to my comfy chair in the living room.  In my apartment in Flagstaff, I had shelves under the window next to my seat that made it easy to keep the things I used frequently at hand.  But in this house, the sewing room is in the basement and I have been finding that having all my supplies down there was keeping me from stitching.  At first I looked at a taller cart with rainbow colored bins, but that doesn't fit in with my mostly white decor very well, and I knew that I wouldn't be happy with it.  Then I found a 3-tray scrapbooking cart that looked promising, but was it large enough to hold a suitable amount of stitching supplies?  Then I spotted this white "Wrapping Cart", which is just perfect!  Six nice drawers, a side bin and a solid surface on top!  And it was on sale for 50% off!  Sold! 

Cart put together
It was easy to put together and the castors on the bottom make it easy to move around!  I like the fine mesh drawers that will keep things contained yet allow one to see the contents.  While it's not a piece of fine furniture, I think it's going to do the job admirably! 

CQ Cart!
The next step was to put my most used stitching supplies in it.  Perfect fit!  And I'll be able to simply roll it out of the way when it's not in use!  I left off two of the external wire things as I'm not storing rolls of wrapping paper or packaging ribbon.  The little side tray is a perfect spot to put some frequently used items such as my little thread/ribbon holder, my stitch reference book and my needle book as well as a pair of scissors. 

CQ Cart in use
All set to finish Tahlia's snowball block!

Painting rough in
I've also been doing some painting.  Right now, it's simply a rough sketch to lay out the shapes and get a feel for some value areas.  Hoping to complete this in the next week or two for my middle son and his wife!  They just moved into a new home and have very bare walls!  

05 January 2014

Painting From Life

Ultramarine Yellow white
I haven't painted much in the past couple of months, so today, I got the easel set up again and had some fun painting!  This is the best of three sketches I did today.  It's a scene from the kitchen shelves.  Painting mostly in white, ultramarine blue with a small amount of yellow ochre and just a teensy bit of burnt sienna.  I like the almost monochrome look, but the bit of blue and yellow really brings it to life.  

Still Life Value Studies 05Jan2014
When I took the plein air painting workshop with Marc Hansen back in August, he had us do several of these value study boards.  I thought it would be a good warm up to get me back to painting again.  The two on the right are done with just black and white.  the one on the left is the same as the one posted above, but before I had made a few small adjustments.  Doing the top right one showed me that I needed to simplify what I was painting.  I actually think the black and white one on the lower right might be the best int terms of line and shadow, but I like the brushwork and highlights on the lower left one better.  

I've read before that painting white objects is more difficult than painting colored objects.  I keep trying!  

Paperwhites 05Jan2014
The paperwhites are in full glorious bloom right now!

Putting Christmas Away
Yesterday, my daughter and I got all the Christmas decorations put away.  But we left the faux tree in the studio up and turned it into a Valentine tree!  It has pink lights, and is covered in hearts, doves and fairies!  We are stitching up a few more hearts for it.  I'll have to take photos when the light is better.  

03 January 2014

One Finished Project!

Wow!  It's only the 3rd of January and I've already completed 5 posts!  I do hope to be blogging more regularly this year!  It's quite amazing to see that my blog has had over 500,000 views since it started in November 2007.  There have been over 650 posts and over 500 followers!  Thank you all!  

One thing that taking inventory of all the unfinished projects does, is to spur one on to getting some of them finished.  As promised, I finished posting yesterday and sat down and worked on my hat and got it finished!  
Hat Completed!
The pattern is Norie, which means Puffin, by Gudrun Johnston of The Shetland Trader which I ordered through Ravelry.  Here's the link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/norie  The yarn I used was Cascade 220 Worsted Heathers in color number 9452.  It took a little over 1 skein.  I've got enough of the same yarn to make a scarf and maybe some mittens or fingerless gloves... but not until I finish another knitting project or two! 

In my New Hat!
Taking self portraits is not my forte, but as you can see, the hat fits well and I am really happy with it!  I have a big head (!) and so many hat patterns don't fit me very well.  I've knit many that I ended up giving away because they didn't fit.  I was hoping that this slouchy hat would be big enough and it was!  

Stretching Whispering Hearts
I also got the Whispering Hearts block stretched.  I use a technique I learned from Karen Ruane at Contemporary Embroidery ~ directions here:   http://karenruane.blogspot.com/2010/01/phew.html

Paperwhites
The paperwhites are in bloom and filling the house with scent!  It smells like spring to me, though I know many people find it a bit overwhelming.  Several more pots are in the works, so there will be blooms through January and February!  

Hyacinth in Green
The first of the forced hyacinths are in bloom as well!  They didn't get quite the long chilling that they need, so the blooms will be a bit smaller this year.  Last year, I had all the hyacinth glasses in a cabinet in the garage and they froze and broke.  This year, I had to buy new glasses for them and I put them in the crisper drawer of the garage refrigerator, but then they started to freeze there too, so I brought them in early.  So glad to see that there will still be some blooms!  

Last view of the Christmas Trees
One last look at the Christmas trees.  All the Christmas decorations will get put away this weekend.  I was going to do it today, but it's 65 degrees outside ~ blissfully warm for January!  I'm going outside to enjoy it for the rest of the afternoon!  Tomorrow, the cold weather arrives once again, so it will be a good time to stay inside and freshen up for the new year!  


02 January 2014

2014 ~ Taking Stock ~ Embroidery, Quilting, Knitting and Crochet Projects


Post 4 of 4 ~ be sure to scroll back to older posts to see them all! 
Embroidery

Lilac Dresser Scarf WIP
It wouldn't take long to finish this embroidered dresser scarf if I would just sit down and work on it.  It's over half complete.  I am having trouble matching the variegated purple thread to what I used originally on it though.  But I think I've got a fairly close match and hopefully enough thread to complete it!  Once the embroidery is complete, I'll crochet a simple edging in off white around it. 

Spring Inchies 30Mar10
This was part of a challenge I was participating in.   The goal was to complete a one inch square every day for something like 40 days.  As you can tell, I never did finish.  Hoping to pick this project up after Valentine's day and get closer to completion! 



Quilting

Woodland Quilt WIP
This is one of my long term projects.  It was inspired by my Woodland Bunny Purse that I finished a few years ago.  I loved how tactile it was and wanted a small lap quilt to snuggle under.  There are MANY blocks to go before this one is ready to assemble.  Then there will be many hours of stitching.  And eventually, it will have a woodland border, four season trees in the corners and a soft backing!  Many hours/days/weeks/months/years(?) to go on this one.  100% hand stitched. 

Log Cabin Quilt
My great aunt, ChaCha Mary pieced these log cabin blocks many years ago.  I put them together and started hand quilting them.  It needs to be finished.  The hoop broke in my many moves during the past couple of years, so I need to repair it before I can finish this one as I don't quilt very well without it!  Because of the vintage fabrics, it will probably get used as a wall quilt. 

Pointed flower rings
Remember these?  I inherited a box with all these quilt blocks and more in it from my great Aunt Anna.  There were SO many of them! Enough of two different types to make at least 3 1/2 quilts. Well, I knew I would never finish that many of them, so I kept 9 of this pattern aside for me to make a wall quilt and sent the rest off along with the other set of blocks to the best quilter/crazy quilter I know ~ Ali Aller!  She's doing such wonderful things with combining traditional and crazy quilting lately.  Can't wait to see what she decides to do with them!  This little wall quilt will be another long term project.  So many other already started projects in the works that this one is at least a year or two down the line.  

Sunbonnet quilt top WIP
This quilt top was made by my great Aunt Anna.  I'd love to do some embellishing of some sort on it before getting it quilted and finished.  My daughter and I are thinking it needs flowers at the corners of all the white blocks and maybe some embroidery on the little sunbonnet girls.  



Knitting/Crochet
Cream Green shawl 01
Yet another long term project that I started back in Flagstaff a few years ago.  To complete this project, I need to finish spinning the yarn for it!  I'm nearly there, but will have to refresh my spinning skills before I tackle this one as my spinning wheel hasn't gotten much use lately!  Eventually, this will turn into a knitted shawl in a leafy pattern. 

KidSilk Haze Shawl WIP
I started knitting this shawl a very long time ago.  I love how soft it is and the simple pattern.  It takes me a bit of concentration though.  I don't knit well while watching TV/DVDs, etc, so I rarely pick this one up.  

KidLin Shawl WIP
Another long term project that languishes at the bottom of my knitting basket.  I love the yarn, the color and feel of it.  But it is BORING knitting.  I'm so over garter stitch.  The yarn needs just enough attention that I can't mindlessly knit this.  Then I discovered that I miscalculated and I'm one skein of yarn short... just after they discontinued it.  Aargh!

Knitted Hat WIP
I started this hat this summer.  Thought I would have it finished for winter.  After all, it's just a hat.  A nice small quick project!  But I spend most of my free time at the computer lately scanning slides, negatives and photographs.  Not much time for knitting.  I NEED to finish this one soon!  I could use it, it is winter after all!  When I'm done posting this, I'm going to go knit on it and see if I can get it finished this weekend!  

Knitted iPad Cover WIP
Another simple knitting project that's almost done, but languishes in the knitting basket.  It will be a cover for my iPad, if I ever get it done.  It just needs the flap and tie knitted now.  Then it will get felted in the washing machine and stretched to fit my iPad.  I'd use it all the time if I ever got it done!  

Field of Daisies Afghan WIP side 2
I've started this Field of Daisies afghan not too long before I left Flagstaff.  It got interrupted by my Mother's passing and then moving, then getting a job, buying a house, etc.  By the time I got back to it, I couldn't remember what size needle I was using.  

Field of Daisies Afghan WIP side 1
Now my daughter is playing around with it and we might both be working on it to get it finished!  I can't decide if I like this side or the other best.  

Ripple Afghan in progress
Another project that my daughter is thinking about working on is this ripple afghan I started a couple years ago.  She loves to crochet and loves having a big project in her lap when watching movies.  We don't watch much TV, but we do watch a lot of movies!  Since I have so many things I'd rather be working on, I think this will become her project.  She can crochet while watching better than I ever could and has completed several afghans in the past year!  

A Little Knitting
This is the knitting project I wish I was working on right now.  But in the move, I've managed to lose it!!!  I love the yarn ~ a silk cashmere blend that is so soft.  I love the pattern too, which is simple and easy for me to knit almost mindlessly.  Even though this has a pattern, it has a rhythm that I can get into and just knit easily... even when watching movies.  Now if I could just find it.  

So, that finishes up my "Unfinished Project" basket.  Lots of things to work on.  Plus I hope to keep painting this year with the goal of doing one fairly large painting a month and a smaller plein air type a week.  

Then there are the BIG projects like finishing scanning slides/negatives and photos from my folks, then finishing mine.  Then there are Blurb Books to make to preserve all those memories for the family. 

There's a wedding happening in the back yard in June ~ and lot of yard work that needs to happen before then.  

Then there are a couple of trips planned with my oldest son to go take photos.  We are thinking Zion, Sequoia and Yosemite!  Hope it works out.  I'd love to attend the CQI retreat in the fall as well as another painting workshop.  And of course, I still have to work through all of this!  

I do have another BIG crazy quilt project that I hope to start in the near future, but I'm waiting for a clearance before I can share what that is!  No, it's not a book... just an personal project I want to do.  Hoping to hear back on that in the next week or so!  

Here's hoping that when the year's end arrives, I'll have much to show for it and many projects out of the basket completed! 

2014 ~ Taking Stock ~ Round Robin Blocks and Nearly Completed Projects


Post 3 of 4 ~ be sure to scroll back to older posts in order to see them all! 
Round Robins
Valentine RR Blocks WIP
I've participated in so many round robins over the years and only completed ONE project from them.  That's something that I need to change!  For this lovely set of Valentine RR Blocks, I asked for a serene zen look to go with the soft colors and so the silkies wouldn't get overpowered.  Most of the participants did a great job but one of them is a bit overwhelming and needs some elements lightened up before I complete this bell pull.  I think I'll put this one near the top of the list in hopes of getting it done by Valentine's Day this year.  

Rose Garden RR Blocks WIP
For this round robin, I asked for a rose garden theme.  I didn't give many instructions with this one and for the most part, the participants stuck to a similar color theme and the weight of the blocks feels fairly cohesive.  I need to add a little more weight to the upper left block and need to finish the unadorned block before completing this bell pull.  

Under the Sea DYB RR WIP
I loved working on these "Under the Sea" blocks!  I had the bright idea of making a book out of the blocks.  Everyone did such gorgeous work on the blocks.  But it's a case where I failed to communicate correctly what I was after.  Because most books have the hinge on the side, and I had hoped that the hinge of the shell would be a the side ~ positioned as you can see in the block below.  But when the first stitcher contacted me about what direction I wanted the blocks, I failed to communicate that.  Each block was stitched distinctively upright, with the hinge at the bottom.  So to make it into a book it  would have to open at the top and hinge at the bottom... but notice that none of the blocks are oriented upside down... so unless I want to stitch LOTS of upside down blocks (so they would be upright when the book was opened) for the "other side" of the pages, this isn't going to work.  As a result, this wonderful project has been sitting unfinished for a long time.  

Under the Sea DYB Block WIP
But I really do need to finish my block to complete the set!  Thinking instead of a book, I'll turn this set into a wall hanging.  Maybe later, I'll have another go at a book. 

Autumn RR Blocks WIP
I love the work that came back on this set of Autumn Blocks.  The soft colors will go beautifully in my home! The only reason I haven't completed this bell pull, is that I need to finish stitching the incomplete block and I simply haven't done it yet.  

Pansy RR WIP
The blocks from the Pansy Round Robin have been stitched together, but I still need to finish some stitching between the blocks, back it and edge it.  I'd love to have this one done by March or April. 

Nearly Completed Projects

Aqua Inchies WIP
I made this set of inchies several years ago.  I love them!  I had hoped to stitch them down to some white linen and get them framed, but now that I see them against the natural ecru linen, I think that's what they need.  It really shows them off!  They were going to hang in the bathroom at my apartment, which was all done in cream and aqua, but I'll find a different spot for them in my current home.  They are still some of the favorite stitching of mine that I've ever done! 

Embroidered Doodle WIP
This was nothing more than an embroidered doodle out of scraps of leftover threads and ribbons.  It needs framed so I can enjoy it in my study! 

Spring Garden to be framed
The Spring Garden is another piece that I need to get framed so I can enjoy it.  It's so dimensional, that it needs a shadow box frame.  It is an unusual size, so the frame needs to be custom made, which gets expensive.  But I really need to get this one framed so it can be enjoyed!  It's another favorite! 

Whispering Hearts to be framed
I completed this piece in Jude's Whispering Hearts class a few years ago.  Another piece of Spirit Cloth type stitching, I do like it and need to get it stretched and framed.  It's another one to try and get completed by Valentine's Day this year. 

Bunny Block CQ to be framed
This has to be my very favorite block from a round robin ever!  I pull it out when I need cheered up.  All those bunnies that Gerry stitched for me just make my heart sing!  Such gorgeous stitching from all the ladies who worked on it!  I've got a frame to put this one in.  I just need to get it done.  Hopefully I'll be able to get this done by the time I decorate for Easter this year. 

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