27 March 2014

Spring IS Coming!

Featherstitch Ferns
It's always nice to have a little time between round robin projects to work on some of my own projects. With Spring at the door, I'm craving green, so decided to get my fairy block out and work on a ferny seam.  I love how versatile feather stitch is as a foundation for leafy stitches!  

Fairy CQ Block WIP
This is the block it is on.  I've got lots of ideas for it that are finally coming together after *years* of contemplation.  It's funny how sometimes you can envision a project yet not actually see how to make it happen.  I'm glad that this is coming together at long last! 

Grape Hyacinths
Along the front walk, all the hyacinths that I replanted are beginning to bloom!  They are so happy to have more room!  

Spring Buds
The regular hyacinths are also starting to blossom and the buds on the spring phlox indicate that it won't be too long until there is a nice mat of pale blue blossoms!  Time to get those fall leaves out of the beds! The rest of the yard is still brown, but this little bed along the front walk is nicely protected and gets the mid-day sun.   It is such a joy to see these little bits of spring shooting forth after our long cold winter!   

21 March 2014

Under the Sea Round Robin Block for Linda

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Being the first to work on a traditional 12" round robin block is always a challenge.  I like to let the fabrics guide me and set the tone for the project.  For Linda's block, I used fibers in the green and blue shades to pull color across the block and provide some initial balance.  

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With under the sea themed round robins, so often, no one embellishes the seams, but I really wanted to use one of the long seams to create a watery themed seam treatment.  It's quiet enough to fade into the background yet could be used to enhance the under the sea theme if someone else wants to add little fishes to it.  I really believe that good seam embellishments are the heart of crazy quilting and that they provide the foundation for the rest of the block.  

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Most of my work is confined to the left side of the block.  For a long time, I've been collecting fibers and trim in sea themed colors and they worked beautifully on this block to create a bed of seaweed!  

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I still have a few little glass fish beads which I added.

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At the base of the seaweed, I added a starfish, a sea urchin and a little shell bead as well as some sand.  I'll be sending along a tiny baggie of beads in case someone wants to use some of the same beads elsewhere on the block to give it continuity as I know some  the beads I used aren't very easily found.  

One of the biggest challenges for me with the big traditional 12" blocks, is knowing when to stop and leaving enough space for everyone else to add their own work!  I could happily have kept stitching and filled this entire block!  I look forward to seeing what the other participants add to this!   

20 March 2014

A Brooch for Spring

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Last night,  I made a sweet floral ribbon brooch for spring!  

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I seldom buy a kit for a project anymore, or even a pattern, though I do buy books on techniques from time to time.  Years ago, I took an Embellishment class from Helen Gibb and purchased her book Ribbon Flowers.  I've learned so much through that one class and have used Helen's book numerous times since then.  When I went to the sewing expo in Denver in February, I was delighted to see Helen there!  I came away with TWO kits!  One was for her "California Dreamin'" brooch, which I fell in love with.    With Helen's great instructions and book at hand, it only took me an evening to put together the brooch!  

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I learned a couple of new techniques from making this one, such as the coiled flower centers and folding the ribbon lengthwise to make double flowers.  

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I love the way the ruffled green ribbon leaves (lower left) came out and will have to look for more of that ribbon for some other projects I have in mind.  

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The joy of working from a kit, is having all the materials at hand, good instructions to follow and a lovely project at the end!  I oriented my brooch upside down from what Helen showed ~ it just seemed to sit better.  The colors just shout springtime to me!  I'm very pleased with the way it turned out! 

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The second kit I came home with was an embellishment kit.  I fell in love with that lily of the valley ribbon!  I plan on using these items on my May pincushion project for the CQJP 2014.  

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I've also been working on another round robin block.  This is Linda's block for the Under the Sea#2 Round Robin.  I'm the first to get to work on it! Love that blue and green batik fabric!  

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With a couple of really long seams, I wanted to do one of them in a watery theme.  Using some variegated Valdani thread in aqua/blue tones, I stitched the herringbone seam, then aded sequins and beads to accent.  Hoping it comes across as bubbles! 

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Here is a sneak peak of what else I'm doing to the block.  Lots of room left for everyone else to work their magic! 




16 March 2014

My Mother's Crazy Quilting

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Over the years, my Mother dabbled in a lot of handwork.  There were a few crewel work pillows on the sofa, a couple of embroidered pictures on the wall, a cutwork scarf on her dresser, knitted baby booties and some embroidered pillowslips as well as numerous other crafty items.  She also dabbled in weaving and basketry, but never stuck with creating more than one or two items in the same technique until she started making Mandalas, which she sold through a couple of different shops. She probably made hundreds of those.  But I hadn't remembered her ever trying crazy quilting, and she never mentioned having done it when I got started doing it.  It wasn't until we were going through her house after she passed away in 2012, when I discovered the above pillow.   

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At the time, I took a couple of photos of it, then added it to the Estate Sale pile.  The colors were so bright that I thought I'd never use it.  

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A couple of days ago, I was going through a box of her crafting stuff that we had saved to go through later and found a bag filled with velvet fabric scraps.  When I opened the bag to look at the scraps, I found instead, the top for another pillow that was nearly fully pieced!   This one is the same size and there is a large length of the same wide lace that she edged the other pillow with as well, which makes me realize that she had intended to complete both pillows to go with one another!  How I wish I had kept the other pillow and could complete this one to go with it!

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There was also a baggie of these fancy trims.

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I love the bottom one!

I certainly do not ever recall seeing my mother doing crazy quilting and have only the vaguest memory of the bright pillow being on the rec room sofa when I was growing up.  It was a delightful gift to find on the eve of the 2nd anniversary of her passing.


15 March 2014

Miniature CQ Brooch

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Remember this little piece of crazy quilting?  It's the same one I was working on when I took the photo for my blog header above.  After debating whether to make a pendant or a brooch out of it, I finally settled on the brooch as I often wear them, where I seldom wear a necklace, much less a large pendant.  

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I really love the effect of the buttonhole silk stitches on the tiny silk pieces.

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The green pearls and glass leaf beads I had in my stash provided the perfect finishing touches!

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It turned out lovely and I look forward to wearing it to the "Spice Party" that I'm attending with good friends tonight!  It's a fun class on using spices at the Savory Spice Shop in Boulder!  

13 March 2014

March Pincushion for the CQJP 2014

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The stumpwork shamrocks have found a home!  In fact, there are lots of other little shamrocks on this pincushion too!  It is my March entry for the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) 2014.  

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I wasn't sure how the stumpwork shamrocks were going to work out after I got them made.  I didn't want them to sit too high on the pincushion, but I also did not want them too flat.  In the end, they sit about half an inch above the surface.  I added some little shamrock blossoms below them in ribbon embroidery.  I learned so much making the shamrocks!  Next time, I'll do the embroidery on a piece of cloth closer in color to the finished project.  The muslin I used was far too white and even the closely trimmed edges glowed like beacons in the night.  A quick pass with a green marker remedied the situation, but in the future, I'd like to avoid that if possible.  

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A couple of weeks ago, I visited "A Stitching Shop" in Denver and picked up a lovely selection of Wildflowers threads by Caron.  Loved being able to use some of them on this pincushion!  They are a joy to stitch with!  

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I had a lot of fun looking through my seam embellishment notebook and picking out shamrock themed seams.  

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Around the base of the pincushion, I used some narrow velvet ribbon and stitched it on with beads.  

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The back has my usual signature.

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A few years ago, I dyed the piece of shamrock trim.  Fun to be able to use it at long last!

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Of the pincushions that I've made so far for the CQJP2014 challenge, this is the most functional.  It has a nice loose weave fabric on the top that would allow it to actually be used as a pincushion and not just an Objet d'Art!  

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It is fun to see all three of the pincushions together that I've completed so far this year!  I've still got so many ideas for the pincushions to come!  

10 March 2014

Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos NHP Finches on Cholla
On Saturday, I made my second stop of the day at Pecos National Historical Park.  It lies just a few miles north of I-25 between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, New Mexico.  I've often seen the signs for it, and though I didn't really know much about it, I knew there were some Indian ruins there.  In the past, it never worked out for me to stop, so I was glad for the weather delays that gave me a chance to stop.  It turns out to be an absolutely lovely spot and certainly an under-rated one, much like El Morro National Monument.    

One of the serendipitous things that happened while I was visiting, was catching this photograph of some finches flying around in the cholla cactus!  I took it because I hadn't brought the binoculars and could not see what kind of bird they were and they were just fluttering up and down and around and I really wanted to know what they were.  It wasn't until I got home and uploaded the photos to the computer that I could see what they were!  But I love the wings in motion and that somehow, I managed to capture, in focus no less, that split second in time!  Such fun!  

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The Visitor Center at Peacos NHP is lovely!

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The entire grounds are beautiful and it is easy to see how they took elements from the site to create this lovely Visitor Center.  

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The large patios around the buildings have benches to sit, which I'm sure are lovely on a hot summer day!  It was cold and spitting snow while I was there, so I didn't do much porch sitting! 

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The beams and posts have beautiful carving on them.

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Even the gate to this maintenance area is lovely!

Pecos NHS Visitor Center Horno
In back of some of the Ranger buildings is this Horno, or outdoor oven.  They are not uncommon in many areas of northern New Mexico, where bread is still baked in them on a weekly basis by many people!

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After viewing the wonderful museum about the history of the site, I braved the chilly weather and walked the trail around the ruins.  This is the ruins of a Spanish mission church built in the 1700's.  The first one, built in the early 1600's was destroyed during an uprising and this church was built upon the old foundations in the early 1700's.  It was in use until the mid 1800's.    

Pecos NHP Wall Ruin
Long before the Spanish Conquistador's came through and brought the Francisican monks who built the churches, the native people had built two large pueblos here, surrounded by a rock wall.  Here you can see part of that wall as it curves along the hillside towards the church.  

Pecos NHP Wall & Kiva
The site has numerous kivas, which would have been entered by climbing down a ladder through a hole in the roof.  You can see more of the long stone wall that runs around the complex.

Pecos NHP View North
To the north of the complex, there is a view of the mountains.  For a few minutes, the clouds looked like they were breaking up and that blue sky would prevail!  

Pecos NHP View West toward Glorieta
But then they gathered once again and there was a bit more breeze and spitting snow.  This view is to the west towards Glorieta, where one of the western Civil War battles was fought and won by the Union army.  

Pecos NHP Pottery Shard Litter
On the northern side of the ruins, the hillside is littered with the ancient trash of the Pueblo.  Pottery shards are everywhere!  and if you look closely you can see many even in this small spot of ground! 

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The path comes back to the ruins of the mission church.  On this corner there is a bit of old plaster work showing how the walls were once covered in a lime washed coating.  

Pecos NHP Adobe Wall
While the indians had previously built with stone, once the Franciscan monks arrived, they taught them to build with adobe bricks.  Most of the Mission compound is adobe, while the indian ruins are all stonework.  The patterns of the weathered walls are fascinating! 

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At the Nave end of the church are these arched doorways leading off of each side.

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In one "room" off of the nave the wall has a striking herringbone pattern to the adobe brick work!  Since these were all plastered over, I am curious as to why they were built that way.

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This view is looking from the livestock end of the compound.  Just out of view to the right is a cobblestone paved area that was the Turkey Coop!  

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As you walk around the compound, the scale of it becomes apparent.  It must have been quite a bustling place in its hey-day.

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It really is an impressive structure.  In order to conserve the remaining walls, they have reinforced some of them with new adobe bricks in recent years.  While the church is the most visible remaining part of the compound, there are two large mostly un-excavated pueblos to the west of the church that are believed to have housed a community of around 2,000 people!  These native Americans were primarily traders and farmers and apparently had quite a trade going with many other tribes in the region who were more nomadic.

In all, I spent a fascinating couple of hours at Pecos NHP and one of these days, I hope to return when the weather is a bit kinder, and I have more time,  to do some sketching and a little more exploring!  It's definitely worth a stop to see if you travel through northern New Mexico!

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