20 January 2020

2020 Projects

I always have to laugh when I hear someone say that they have a "couple" of projects going as though that is a terrible thing! They have NO idea! That's what my latest video is about!

Watch the video first and then to see more of what is in my project bins; read the rest of this post! 

I am a list maker.  Every year, I make a new list of projects and things I want to complete that year.  Some years I make great progress, others... well, not so much!  Then I make new lists.  Reorganizing my studio this month made me realize that my lists of projects were vastly incomplete - all three of them! In fact, I probably had 3 times (or more) the number of unfinished projects than were actually on my lists.  So my daughter and I set out to make sense of everything.

We sorted everything into 4 bins.

Bin #4 is the "cold storage" bin.  The one of projects I probably won't have time to work on for a long, long time.  

This is what is in the cold storage bin.  Several embroidery projects that range from a dresser scarf, numerous cross stitch kits, and a shirt I'm embroidering.  There are some quilt projects including a log cabin quilt that was pieced by one of my great Aunts that I'm finishing, another log cabin quilt that I started piecing in 2015, as well as an appliquéd bunny quilt I started when I was pregnant with my daughter - 37 years ago! Yikes! Then there are some kits and patterns I've picked up here and there, including a rug hooking pattern/partial kit because it's something I'd like to try at least once.  There are also a number of Altoid Tin kits that I put together for a workshop I taught in 2016.  As I look at this pile, they are all still things I'm interested in completing... someday!

Bin #3 is filled with lots of odd bits of projects, miscellaneous blocks, etc.  It's the junk drawer of my crazy quilting world.  This is also mostly a cold storage box as there isn't a lot in here I'm planning on working on in the coming year... and yet, there a few things that will probably find their way into my work bag from time to time.

There are blocks made for pincushions that never got made, blocks made for doing some stitch samplers, little blocks I embroidered in 2017 that never got made into anything.  There are several bags of round robin projects that have never been finished as well as bags of miscellaneous blocks that I made up here and there but have never done anything with.  Lots to work with here, but not much for the immediate future.

Also tucked into bin #3 are my various "faux paper piecing" projects.  These range from the Woodland quilt that I started back in 2010 or so, the bags of bits for making pocket prayers and a couple of other small pieced items I've been playing with.  These are great take-along projects and so these will probably all get stitched on a little bit here and there - just as they have been for the past 10 years!  They are constantly progressing and changing as I work on them.  Let me know if you would like a tutorial on doing a small project like the pocket prayers.

Bin #2 has some fairly large projects that I've been gathering materials toward.  It's not quite cold storage, but most of these projects are still a ways off, as I simply MUST get some other projects out of the way first.  

Here is Thomas kitty looking pretty disgusted with me for having so much stuff to work on!  

These are projects that I really want to work on!  They are big projects that are far enough along, that I've gathered materials for and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with each one.  There is a folk art wool quilt, some old quilt blocks made by another great Aunt that I'd like finish.  There are two sets of blocks I made back in 2015 when I thought I could do 3 blocks a month while working full time and take care of a house and big garden... it obviously didn't work out!  Theres a project with a piece of embroidery I found at a thrift shop, which should be a fairly quick project once I actually have time to get started on it.  There's a Bavarian Trim quilt to work on, some wool pennies, a project inspired by a piece of pottery I found at the antique store, and a collection of things I've been gathering for a special "Ivory Blush Roses" project!

These are the projects I'm really itching to get working on!  But... with so many other things yet unfinished, they are going to have to take a back seat for this year.  

Bin #1 is the stack of priority projects that I aim to finish this year.  Most of these are projects that a nearly complete.  My daughter called them NFPs or Nearly Finished Projects. I also wanted to do a big project, similar to the Crazy Quilt Journal Project, but without actually joining that group this year.  I came up with 2 of them.  A denim crazy quilt, which I'll be posting more about later in the week, and the heart quilt which began as a round robin in 2014 or 15.  Those are YLPs or year long projects.

The video went into detail on these so I won't repeat that here.  These are things I'd love to get finished and off my project list!  A few of them have been there for a very long time... like the Scottish themed block that might have been the 3rd or 4th block I ever made.  There are three round robin projects in here to finish as well.  So, 11 NFPs, 2 YLPs, and 2 bonus projects - Lots to work on!

Now that I'm "retired" and have a much smaller house and yard to care for, hopefully I'll be able to stay focused and productive this year!  I'm looking forward to sharing these projects with you via You Tube in the coming months!

P.s. I also have a large tub of unfinished projects in my storage locker... deep, deep cold storage!  Mostly embroidery and sewing projects as well as some needlepoint.  I don't even want to think about those!  My daughter thinks I have enough projects to work on for the rest of my life if I work at it full time.  I'm afraid she might be right!

09 January 2020

Studio Makeover!

New video up on YouTube about my studio refresh! 

My sister's study

My study

When I moved into this house, I knew I would use this room as my studio and office/study. I wanted shelves on the wall like the ones my sister had in her little office. 

Like my sister's shelves, I put lights underneath mine and bulletin boards on the wall. I'm not quite as neat and minimalist as my sister, but I love this layout! The lights can dim as well as switch from cool to neutral to warm and they give me a lot of light, which my aging eyes really appreciate! I adapted the shelf spacing so that I could put my printer over the desk since I didn't have room for a printer stand. 

Inspiration for studio decor came from my CQJP 2015 project. When I stitched it, the colors were far outside of my comfort zone, yet it ended up being some of the best work I'd ever done! Upon moving in, I thought it might be the perfect inspiration piece to decorate my studio around. So I found a rug that repeated some of the colors and searched through my fabric for pieces that would coordinate for a curtain valence.

At first I loved it! It was bold and different. I used a lot of my pink colored items to decorate the space, from little bits I had stitched, to items gifted to me. With the multi color rug, I also decided to let other multi-color items take precedence, like the jars of colorful buttons and the tray of bead containers. 

As the year progressed, I realized I wasn't spending much time in this space. I preferred to paint in the kitchen, due in part to better light. I was stitching at the kitchen table as well. And even for computer work, I was either avoiding it or bringing my laptop out to the living room. The bright colors and the chaos of the multi-color rug were just too much for me. The room had become a catch-all for everything I wanted out of the rest of the house. This little house has no storage space and teeny tiny closets, so the studio/study space became more of a storage room and I was increasingly frustrated with how difficult it was to find the supplies I needed. Time for a refresh! 

 I started thinking about what would make my studio/office space a place where I wanted to spend time, and what would make it easier to find the supplies I wanted. I also knew I needed a better, simpler space for filming my YouTube videos.  Bright pink is notoriously difficult to photograph and in videos, all the bright pink meant I spent hours editing, trying to come up with some semblance of real colors.  I knew I wanted this small room (11"-0" x11'-0" square)to feel more open - so that meant lighter colors. The space desperately needed a calmer rug. As fun as I found the multi-color rug at first, it felt like it was always cluttered to me, I hated filming against it, and the pink/red colors reflected onto everything I was working on, making it hard to see the real colors. 
I also wanted to cut the glare from the window for when I was filming, and yet I needed to let the light through in this otherwise dim room.

That turned out to be an easy fix as I had a pair of shorter linen curtains that I hadn't used and I had a vintage lace curtain panel which I have loved for years and it fit perfectly between the two linen panels. The window also has an easy to operate blind for nighttime privacy. 

While I enjoyed this display for a while, the clutter of all the little bits of decor made the space seem smaller as well, so I knew I wanted to simplify things in that realm.  My tastes are definitely evolving towards a more minimalist style! 

First step was to find a new rug.  With the multi-color rug, I had been lucky to find one that was nearly square and filled the open space well.  Most rugs are rectangular or round and square rugs are hard to come by, but on Wayfair, I found a rug I liked that also came in large square sizes (the one I purchased is 10'-0" square!) and was also within my small budget!  It's modeled here by Thomas, who seems pretty happy with the new decor as well! 

It took about 2 weeks to get the room re-organized and change out all the decor.  All the little bric-a-brac has been put away, but accessible if I want to look at it.  On the wall I hung my Cream and White crazy quilt, the first big project that I stitched when I started crazy quilting.  I hung a simple wreath of faux fern fronds and hung a strand of ivy over the curtain rod.  Instead of lots of little art, I propped up an old mirror on top of the shelves.  It is all so much simpler and calmer now!  

The new rug reflects lots of light and makes this dim room seem so much brighter!  I made a new curtain cover for my art shelf where all the canvases, paints, sketchbooks, mediums, etc are stored.  Even when neat and organized, it always looks cluttered and a mess.  I was able to use fabric I already had and some antique crocheted lace for an extra touch.  

All the threads and ribbons have been newly re-organized as well and all the bits from all over have been consolidated into labeled boxes and baskets.  Finding things is so much easier now and I don't have to go through umpteen different containers before finding what I'm looking for!  

The little radiator heater keeps this room a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the house, so I can work comfortably during these cooler months and I don't have to heat the entire house to my working temp!  It is Thomas' favorite spot as well, and most days he can be found with his paws tucked underneath it! 

The old cabinet I have from one of my "adopted" grandmas has been utilized as my sewing cabinet and holds all the little sewing bits from needles and pins to interfacing, scissors, bias tape, etc.  I love having this bit of "history" that is filled with memories for me! 

The stack of frames I've been accumulating, waiting to be filled with paintings is now hung on the high wall over the door rather that stacked in a pile in front of the closet door.  

I spent some time re-organizing the shelves above my desk as well.  While I strive towards minimalism, I never will really be a minimalist.  I have too much instinct to "save" things and somehow I also become the keeper of the family history, so I have boxes and boxes of extended family history/genealogy in storage and somehow, more bits to add to it continues to come my way.  All those boxes on the upper shelf contain bits for that plus the necessary office stuff like pads of paper, and other useful items.  Then there are things like the basket of notecards to send out, envelopes, stamps, and notepads.  In my ideal world, I'd find a way to get rid of most of this!  But I'm not there yet! 

I re-did the bulletin boards and filled them with postcards of some of the favorite art pieces that I've had the opportunity to see in the past couple of years.  Lots of Monet!  Also some Van Gogh, Berthe Morrisot, Cezanne, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth as well a couple of things painted by friends that I love.  Sprinkled about here and there are Bible verses I find inspiring and other bits that I enjoy seeing.  

Behind the door, there is space enough for a vintage cubby hole cabinet.  The little shelves are just the perfect size for storing my favorite fat quarters of fabric!  These are mostly batik and some Japanese Taupe fabrics that I've gathered over the years.  (I'm not showing you the 8 drawers of additional fabric I have stored in the closet! ). Above the shelf I have hooks to hang the rings of pearl cotton embroidery threads and also the ribbon trims I use.  There are also a two items here done by my Mom; a crewel work embroidery she did in the late 1960's and the plaque with my name that she painted for me when I was a little girl.  It used to grace the front of my toy shelf and I had a little painted table to match, now long gone.  The bunny print is by Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite illustrators.  

So, that is my newly re-furbished studio/office space!  I love how open and light it feels, and I find myself spending most of the day in here working on projects!   

04 January 2020

Thread Organizing - From Tangled to Orderly

The latest episode is up on my YouTube Channel!  I'm getting ready for a new year filled with beautiful stitching!  

18 November 2019

Challenge Project - Entries

I just posted the last video in the Challenge Project Series. This time, we take a look at all ten entries that were made! What an amazing body of work was created for this Challenge! We all started with the same kit of fabrics and embellishments, but the resulting projects were each beautifully and creatively unique!

The ladies that participated in this challenge (in addition to myself) were:

Sue Weeks

Nicki Lee Seavey

Lydia Aguayo Talton

Wilma van Wagensveld

Mary Anne Polovich Griffin

Maureen Greeson

Shirlee Fassell

Betty Fikes Pillsbury

Allie Aller

What a treat to spend three days in the company of these talented women as well as the other ten ladies present at the retreat!  It was a splendid time!

Thanks so much for watching!  As I write this post, my YouTube channel is up to 380 subscribers!  Thank you so much!

23 October 2019

Winner of the Favorite CQ Stitch Poll!

The overwhelming winner of the Favorite CQ Stitch Poll was Feather Stitch with half of the votes submitted!  I have to admit that it is probably my favorite stitch as well!  

Feather Stitch - 10
Herringbone - 4
Cretan Stitch - 3
Chevron Stitch - 2
Chain Stitch - 1
Buttonhole - 0
Fly Stitch - 0

I was a bit surprised to see that two of the basic stitches received no votes whatsoever!  

When working on a project, I try to include all of the basic stitches as I feel the variety adds interest.  Here are examples of some of my favorites of each of these basic crazy quilt stitches.

Let's start with the least favorites.  What's not to love about Fly Stitch?  It offers so many possibilities!  
Fly Stitch (on the bottom).  Also note the stacked Chevron Stitch above as well as the glimpse of chevron stitch to the right.

Layered Fly Stitch (on the left)

Buttonhole is another great stitch with so much to offer!  It makes a fantastic foundation stitch to layer other stitches with.  It probably is the stitch I use the least, but when I move beyond the basics, I love this stitch!
Buttonhole Stitch on a curve.

Buttonhole layered with other stitches.

A slightly more traditional buttonhole stitch pattern.

vine and leaves 2
My all time favorite way to use Buttonhole Stitch is with these little leaves!

I was surprised that Chain Stitch was not more popular.  It's such a great versatile stitch that can be easily substituted for stem/outline stitch.  See the photo above for one example of how chain stitch was used in a serpentine pattern.
Here an alternating or zig-zag Chain Stitch is used to secure down the rick-rac.

Chain Stitch made great stems for this seam.

Chain stitch was the perfect stitch to emphasize these interlacing scallops!

Chevron is one of the first stitches that I got excited about when I first learned to crazy quilt.  Nearly any thing you can do with Herringbone, you can also do with Chevron.  And that little bar at the top and bottom of each triangle offers so many possibilities!
finished bluebird 00
The first ever Chevron Stitch that I stitched, sitting on top of the lace.

Chevron combined with silk ribbon embroidery

Yet another Chevron Stitch example.  Also note the buttonhole stitch "hills"on the left under the flowers.  And on the upper right is a great example of detached fly stitch.

Cretan Stitch is a kissing cousin to both buttonhole and feather stitch.  As such, it is wonderfully versatile and no wonder its a favorite of many!
A stacked Cretan Stitch. Love the honeycomb shape you can get with it!

Here it is used to hold a piece of rick-rac in place.

2009 Feb 22_1151
A simple, but elegant Cretan Stitch seam.

Herringbone Stitch came in second and that doesn't surprise me at all!
Cardinal 3
Herringbone stitch all around the white patch on this CD pincushion.

A bold take on a herringbone border.

Herringbone is such a fun seam to work with!

This curved Herringbone is possibly the most favorite seam I have ever stitched using Herringbone ~ and also the most difficult!  But worth the fuss as it is spectacular!

And finally, a look at the favorite - Feather Stitch!  With so many great variations on a basic stitch, it's no wonder it came in first.

Scissor pouch
It's beautiful in it's most simple form.

With just a little bit of embellishment, it can be quite lovely.

With so many subtle variations, the possibilities are endless.

I'm guessing that at least half of my seam stitching is some variation of Feather Stitch.

So, so many possibilities!

Featherstitch Ferns
It can go from the simplest seam possible to one of the most complex!

I hope this glimpse into a variety of the basic seam stitches will inspire you to consider doing more seam stitching on your crazy quilts!  If you need more inspiration, In the coming weeks, I will be featuring each basic stitch and showing how to expand it into a fancier seam on my YouTube Channel.  Stay tuned!