16 October 2019

An October Blessing!


This little guy arrived a few weeks early!  It was such a privilege to be present for his birth and to have spent much time with him and his family; my daughter and her husband this past couple of weeks!  He is my 5th grandchild (the 2 granddaughters both turned 3 recently), and the 3rd grandson born this year!  What an incredibly blessed year this has been!  

I'm a little behind on getting the next round of YouTube videos uploaded as a result, but there is one coming today on adding beads to embroidered seams!  Hope you'll enjoy it!  Challenge Project - Beaded Seams, Episode 10

I'm planning on a new series of videos about creating expanded embroidered seams.  I'd love to know what your favorite basic seam stitch is! If your favorite is not on the list, let me know in the comment section below!  I'll let you know what the winning stitch is on October 23rd!     

29 September 2019

Oyster Stitch

On my latest YouTube video, I stitched little rosebuds using Oyster Stitch.  Here is a diagram of how to do the stitch. 

On the left, I marked three points to indicate where the needle pierces the fabric.  I do not usually mark this stitch but included this simply to illustrate the stitch in this instance.

Step 1: Come up at the upper right point, then going down at the upper left point and bring the needle up at the lower point, wrapping the thread as shown.. Pull snug, but not too tight.  The ends should cross one another creating a fish shape.  

Step 2: Bring the needle and thread around to the right, threading the needle under the  the first "tail" of the initial stitch.  Pull thread so it sits next to the first stitch. 

Step 3: Continue working in a counter clockwise direction, wrapping the thread around the previous stitch, taking the needle down in the space between the first and second stitch, coming up at the lowest point. Pull thread so it sits next to the first stitch. 

Step 4: Secure the stitches by taking the needle back down at the lowest point, just adjacent to where the needle and thread came up.  Make a knot on the reverse side. 

This stitch works well with heavier threads or doubled pearl cotton so that it stands out more.  Use it anywhere you want a flower such as a tulip or rosebud, where you want a flower petal, or for leaves.  

Here are a few examples of how I have used Oyster Stitch in the past.  

As flowers on the feather stitch that crossed the photo.  Using 3 strands of variegated embroidery floss.

As the white blooms with this stylized vine. Using 2 strands of pearl cotton size 8

As the center of the "flowers on this motif. Using 2 strands of pearl cotton size 12


As tulips next to the ric-rac, using 2 strands of variegated pearl cotton size 12

28 September 2019

Where Did Summer Go?

I has been a somewhat difficult summer.  In many ways, I feel like I missed much of it.  I spent the better part of July and August on a no allergy diet in order to determine if some of my health issues were allergy related.  In September, I started adding foods back in, and so far, it appears that I'm allergic to corn and dairy products, and possibly sensitive to wheat.  So since most meat is corn fed, I've also gone mostly "Whole Food/Plant Based" for the time being.  Overall, I've managed to lose a few pounds, though not nearly as much as I'd hoped. 

Mid August, I came down with a pretty hefty cold.  Then at the beginning of September, it morphed into bronchitis, and I'm just now starting to feel like I'm recovered from that, just in time for my big ragweed allergy season to hit!  Crazy!   

Kitzy Cat
Kitzy Cat 2005(+/-) - Sept 18, 2019

Kitzy Cat started losing weight in March.  Though she did manage to catch a mouse in the house (yikes!) and had much fun playing with her toys, by early September it was obvious that she was not  her usual self.  I made an appointment at the Vet, and on discovering that she had lost over half her weight in addition to the fact that she had stopped eating several days before, we made the difficult decision to let her go.  My Mom and Dad adopted her in early 2008.  When my daughter Jessie moved in with them, she really became Jessie's kitty.   She was always a little bit temperamental, and  was sort of a high/special needs kitty.  She had seizures, and some residual issues from her first owners that never went away.  Moving her to my home after my parents passed away was not easy. She spent a couple years as a near recluse.  It wasn't until after Mollie Kitter passed in 2015 that she really started to adjust. She became a real sweetheart and for the last few years, my evenings were spent with both her and Thomas in my lap.  She is definitely missed.  

Kitzy's loss has been made harder by the fact that Thomas kitty isn't doing well either.  At 18 years old, he's done remarkably well until the last couple months, when things started to go downhill.  He's been diagnosed with Pancreatitis and that has resulted in diabetes.  He has some digestive upset and eats only sporadically, so its been pretty tough to manage.  The week that Kitzy passed away, I though we were going to have to say goodbye to Thomas too, though he seems to have rallied somewhat.  Sadly, I think he will be joining Kitzy Cat in the near future.  It will be an unbearably difficult loss as he has probably shown more unconditional love toward me than any other creature/person has in my entire life.  So, it's a time of preparation for that upcoming loss.  

Baby Quilt
Despite all the other things going on, I have been spending some time creating things, though I wasn't able to share any of them until now! My daughter Jessie is expecting a little boy at the end of October, so I made her this quilt using darling bunny fabric that I found in quilt shops across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois when I went to the O'Fallon CQ retreat in early July!  

Burp Cloths
I also made her a number of flannel & Terry cloth burp cloths.  

Baby Shower Gifts
To go with the quilt, there was a cute little bedtime storybook, which I put together.  I filled this little cart with changing table necessities for them.  

My two little granddaughters each turned 3 (one in August and one in September) so I made them  each a colorful painting/cooking apron and a bag to match that I filled with art supplies. One of our favorite things to do together is to have a morning painting together!  And with Holidays arriving soon, we'll be spending a day or two baking cookies as well!  Hopefully I'll be able to get photos of them in the near future! 

Woodland Themed goodies
With a baby on the way, there was a baby shower to plan and prepare for as well.  We went with a woodland theme and I made most of the goodies!  It was fun coming up with lots of different little snacks, from hedgehog donut holes to little chocolate/peanut butter cookie acorns!

Mushroom cupcakes
I also made a large batch of mushroom cupcakes! 

Woodland Refreshments
It all looked so cute spread out on the table!  

Mother & Daughter
Jessie and I at her baby shower! 

I've been trying to get out and walk regularly.  I discovered this lovely spot just a little over a mile away from my home.  

Theres a lovely sandstone bluff and a small pond that is frequented by a Great Blue Heron.  

The walking path traverses what used to be farm fields.  The path joins up with the bike path that goes all the way along St. Vrain Creek as it meanders across Longmont.  It's several miles long and makes for a nice walk as well as a bike ride! 

Jane Hunt demonstration
At the beginning of September, I had the opportunity to take a workshop with the incomparable Jane Hunt.  She's an amazing painter, and it turns out, a fabulous instructor as well.  We spent 4 days in and around Longmont painting.  

Lovely view at Sawhill Ponds
One of our stops was at Sawhill Ponds near Boulder.  It was a bit rainy all afternoon, and we were grateful for the shelter to paint from!  But as the day came to an end, the clouds broke apart and we were treated to this lovely view!  

My Workshop Paintings
These are 4 of my paintings from the workshop.  We had a lot of focus on water, which was really helpful for me.  None of them are masterpieces, as they were really exercises in learning.  I definitely felt that I came away with new skills and new ways of thinking about what and how I'm painting, as well as tips for using the water mixable oils that I've been struggling with.  What I'd really like, is to be able to take the same workshop a year from now, just to see how far I've come and how well I've been able to put what I learned into practice.  

Lily Ridge Trail
After the past two months of not feeling well, I was sorely in need of rejuvenation.   I took advantage of a beautiful Colorado autumn day earlier this week and headed for the mountains for a short hike on the Lily Ridge and Lily Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.  

Lily Lake with Meeker & Longs Peaks
The peaks beyond the lake are Mt. Meeker on the left and Longs Peak on the right.  

Lily Ridge & Lily Lake
The Lily Ridge trail went along just under the rocky outcrops in the photo above, then wraps around to the Lily Lake trail below.  Such a pretty spot!  

Lily Ridge & Lily Lake

Estes Cone, Lily Lake
The trail around Lily Lake is handicap and wheelchair accessible, which makes for easy walking.  It's a little off the main tourist routes in Rocky Mountain National Park, though it is on one of the major roads coming out of Estes Park.  I find more locals here than out of town visitors.  The outcrop of rock on the right hill above is known as Estes Cone and is a great little, but somewhat steep hike to the top.  I did that hike when I was in Girl Scouts, many, many years ago!  

Turning Leaves
The leaves were just starting to really change on the shrubbery around the lake.  So beautiful! 

Fall Colors
And a few of the Aspen were changing as well, though mostly at much higher altitudes.  So I headed into the main part of the park and took a drive up Old Fall River Road.  

Below Cascade Falls
I stopped at this small falls and just sat and enjoyed the clear tumbling water.  

Aspen Gold
Up high, there were a few spectacularly golden aspen!  Always such a delightful sight to see against the backdrop of deep pine green.  

Top of Old Fall River Road
The grasses and shrubbery on the tundra are changing too, and it made this area, which is a favorite spot of mine, look more colorful than I think I've ever seen it!  A lovely end to a beautiful drive!  

03 August 2019

Marmots and Moose!

Made a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday!  It's one of my favorite places to get away since it's just short of an hour away from where I live.  Even with the hoards of summer visitors, there are plenty of areas within the park where one can really experience the beauty and solitude of nature.  

Old Fall River Road is a steep narrow dirt road that was the original road up to the top of Trail Ridge.  While most of the road isn't bad, the sharp hairpin turns can develop some pretty harrowing ruts as much as two feet deep in places.  Thankfully, my Subaru Outback handled it just fine with some judicious driving.  I highly recommend a high clearance vehicle!  The road winds its way up narrow Endo Valley, through the trees, along side tumbling Fall River, which is really more of a creek.  

Above the road, rocky spires jut into the sky.  Their jagged beauty is missed by so many who hurriedly drive up the road and never stop to look upwards. 

Along the roadsides, wildflowers abound.  Loved these beautiful Cinquefoil flowers!

On the rocky slopes, these Buckwheat flowers dominated. 

Driving up Old Fall River Road, I spotted 4 different marmots!  A cousin of the eastern Groundhog, these fellows are much less destructive, mainly because they live at high altitudes!  

The road must have some mineral salts on it that they like, as each of the ones I saw was licking at the road.

This one is headed back to its home deep within the rocks.  They hibernate for 7-8 months during the depth and cold of winter.  When hiking, they can be quite friendly, and in the past my family has had them begging and snitching food out of backpacks!  By mid September, this guy will seem twice this size with all the fat he will put on in preparation for hibernation! 

At the cusp of treeline, I stopped to do a watercolor of this rocky outcrop.  The trees here are all stunted from the cold, wind, and snow.  Trees need an average summer temperature greater than 55 degrees to survive, so when you see these stunted and very old trees, you know it's time to put on a sweater!  The tallest trees here were about 6 feet tall.  In the past, I've seen the mists wreathing around this outcrop, and somehow, it's always been a favorite landmark of mine along this road.  

Once the road ascends to the tundra, near the top of Trail Ridge, there is a small alpine pond, a perfect mirror for the intense blue sky above.  

I stopped here to eat my lunch and do a quick watercolor sketch.

After crossing Trail Ridge, I descended down into the Kewaneechee Valley below.  It's a broad flat valley of lush grassy meadows dotted with trees and the youthful Colorado River winding through it.  Up here, the water is clear as can be.  

It's also home to a sizable population of moose!  How blessed I was to come up to this spot and immediately find a Cow with her calf in the river!  

A tender moment!  

It was so much fun to watch this moose calf playing in the water!  

Heading back up toward Trail Ridge, I spotted a meadow filled with these spires of wildflowers.  At first I though they were Mullen, but it didn't take long to figure out that I was wrong!  Once home, I looked them up and discovered they are often called Monument Flowers, which makes total sense because they really were stunning standouts in this meadow!  

Up close, they had a striking beauty as well!  

Descending over Trail Ridge Road in the evening twilight, I came upon this lovely wildflower patch in an area where there was once a ski lift!  My Mom actually skied here in the  1960's!  Now, all the structures are removed and the area undergoing rejuvenation.  A rivulet of water tumbles down the edge of old ski run and keeps this area nice and moist, a perfect habitat for these flowers!  

There were the lovely purple blossoms of Larkspur - one of my favorite flowers!  If you look closely at each individual blossom they have a bunny head surrounded by a ruff of petals! 

These lovely Fleabane/Asters glowed with light in the dusk!  So pretty!

Once off of Trail Ridge Road, I took the road through Horseshoe park, named for the winding pattern that Fall River creates as it traverses the large flat park area.  Off to one side are a couple of ponds.  It's not unusual to see elk, and once in a while some bighorn sheep there.  But this time, there was a large bull moose standing in the pond, munching away!  Two ducks circled around him the entire time I watched!  

The colors of the pond really changed as the light came out from around a cloud!  From silver and blue to purple and pink!  This guy sure seemed to be enjoying his cool evening bath and mealtime!  Those antlers will continue to grow for a while, covered in velvet until late August, when the velvet will start to peel off.  

What a lovely day it was.  Nature, a bit of art.  Time away from the everyday routine.  It's easy to get into a rut, and I find it all too easy to become a hermit in my own home.  I think that's one of the things I love about traveling, even when it's just an hour from home; it shakes me loose and wakes me up!  

Have a beautiful day!