Traveling Home

The expectation of seeing one's family makes the long trip home easier. The first evening there, those of us in the family who were able to get together, enjoyed dinner out. Job and school obligations prevent all of us from getting together at the same time on this trip, so I'm getting to spend time with my children in smaller groups this time. How wonderful to be able to see them and spend time together!
Petrified Logs
This is the first trip home in four years that I have not been accompanied by my two kitties. That allowed me to detour through Petrified Forest National Park near the start of my trip. I was amazed by the sight of gigantic petrified logs laying across the desert landscape. The picture does not do justice to the scale of these logs. They are between two and three feet in diameter and the length of the logs is well over 20 feet. The landscape is littered with these in vast quantities. Truely an amazing sight to see.
The Teepees
The colors and shapes of the "Teepees" reminds me of the Badlands of South Dakota. What a stunning array of color exhibited in the rock. Nature's palette never ceases to fill me with awe.
Painted Desert vista
As I drove north through the park, the vast vista of the Painted Desert was accented by clouds and rain on the horizon. The light on the landscape was beautiful! This view looks out nearly 100 miles! Seeing this landscape puts me in mind of Psalm 107:33, 35.

"He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thristy ground, a fruitful
land into a salty waste. ... He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched
land into springs of water."

Painted Desert
The vegetation in bloom made a sharp and brilliant contrast to the colors in the soil. The recent "monsoon" rains in northern Arizona have made the plantlife as lush as it can be for this normally dry and harsh climate.
Painted Desert Inn
I found the architecture of the Painted Desert Inn to be a perfect accent in the landscape. What a lovely place this is! But as much as I enjoyed the beauty of the desert, the smiling faces of my children and parents have been the highlight of my trip so far!


Linen Bags

3 Linen bags, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In preparation for my trip to Colorado this week, I finished up these little linen zippered bags. The pattern came from the "Tilda" book, "Sew Pretty Homestyle". I had been making rectangular bags for a while, but loved that this pattern had a curved top and a squared off, wider bottom. Just right for carrying all those small accouterments in my suitcase!
Small bag 2 front Smalll bag 3 front
I had fun going through the button jar and finding just the right buttons for the flowers.

So I'm off to Colorado to see my family and will also be spending a weekend in Estes Park at the Longs Peak Scottish Irish-Highland Festival. It is one of the largest Scottish Games in this country and it is something I have dearly missed attending the last three years. I'm thrilled to be able to attend with my daughter this year! This picture was taken in 2003. I have attended in costume for many years now!
At the Scots Fest 2003
One of the things I love about the Scottish Festival is listening to the Bagpipe Bands on the Festival Field. There is no better place to attend a Scottish Festival, than Estes Park. The cool mountain air makes it feel like what I imagine the Highlands to feel like.
Massed Bands 6Sep03
Many people ask if I am of Scottish descent. I'm not, but rather I'm a McWannabe! My kids can claim a bit of Scottish Ancestry through a Scots/Irish great great great grandmother on their father's side and I've "adopted" this clan, the Mackay clan, as my own. My love for things Scottish began when I was in High School and fell in love with the writings of George MacDonald. His book, Sir Gibbie, is still among my top favorite books of all time. One day, my dream of traveling to Scotland will actually come true! Until then, I'll dream of that day and travel vicariously through the pages of books by listening to the strains of bagpipes high in the Colorado Rockies!


Strawberries, Thimbles and Pincushions

Front panels, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In between preparing and packing for my upcoming trip to Colorado next week, I've been finding moments to work on my hussif. I'm finding this to be a very fulfilling project on a personal level. I love it when a project comes along that allows me to put to use many of the varied skills that I have. Such as my background in drafting, which helped me plan the measurements to ensure that it comes out properly. So far, I've used machine and hand sewing, cross stitch, embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery, ribbon work, crochet, scrap booking and beading!
Back panels
I've also been gathering the tools that I'll be keeping in the hussif. Such as the bone stylus that was my grandmother's. I have no idea what the other little bone tool is, but I thought I'd include it as well. It looks ideal for turning points in sewn items or that it might be useful as a bead scoop. Then there is the tatting shuttle that once belonged to my Aunt, a couple vials of my favorite beads and a crochet hook.The scissor pouch has undergone several variations before settling on this version. Once the pockets are stitched down, I'll feather stitch the edges in green or creamy white. The little booklet is a small Moleskin cahier that has been covered using scrap booking techniques. I'll fill the pages with ideas for seam treatments so that I'll have a ready reference when I need inspiration.
thimble cosy
Creating the tiny crocheted purse to hold my thimble was a challenge. Since my theme seems to be roses, I decided to begin with an Irish crocheted rose and worked my way up from there, making up the pattern as I went. I doubt I could recreate the same one again! Since I've got a bone bunny bead and a couple of bone tools I decided to use these bone beads to accent and close the pouch.
strawberry emery
I've had fun creating velvet strawberries before and thought that I needed a special one that matched everything else in this set of tools. Since I already have a pincushion, this is an emery strawberry, the emery having been obtained from a cheap and rather ugly emery strawberry purchased at the store a while back. I've since found that you can purchase emery of a much higher quality from Nordic Needle.

Most of these elements still need to be stitched down, but suddenly it's all coming together nicely! I'd hoped to have it finished before my trip to Colorado, but it has turned out to be a much bigger project than I had anticipated! I'll take it with me and work on it while visiting the family. The inside should go a little faster as it is mostly pockets to hold embroidery floss and silk ribbon.


A Tale of Two Pincushions

finished bluebird, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Today I finished the second of the "Sea Dreams" pincushions! I loved the first one with all it's shells and beach theme, but I have totally fallen in love with the bluebird on this second one!

I am overwhelmed by the response these two pincushions have received this week! Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to comment and to those of you who have posted links to my blog and the tutorial! Here is a quick list and links to the ones I am aware of!
Allie's in Stitches
Needlework News at Craft Gossip
Under a Blue Moon
Sharon B's In a Minute Ago
Bag of Chocolates
It was also mentioned on the front page of the Crazy Quilting International monthly newsletter!

Front Cover
I've been busy doing more stitching on my Hussif as well. The front motif is now finished!
front laid out
Today, I spent some time laying out the outside cover and working on details of it.
little bunny pincushion
The cover will fold in and the first "inside" page includes a little pincushion created of some lovely mossy velvet that doesn't seem to photograph very well Originally, I thought to use a pearly button in the center, but the round shape didn't quite go. Then I remembered these Navaho bone bunny beads and knew I'd found the perfect thing! I'm looking for some lace to edge the pincushion before I sew it down to the cover.


Making a Hussif

Front 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

When I first saw the term "hussif", I thought it sounded like something Arabic. Instead, I discovered that it is actually something to contain the bits and pieces one needs and that the term eventually evolved into "housewife", meaning the sewing roll that housewives used to keep their needles, threads and scissors in. When I saw the gorgeous beauties featured in a past issue of "CQ Mag Online", I knew I had to make one!

I've never been one to let not having a pattern stop me from making something I want. So I began to sketch out ideas and came up with my own version based on the photos in the article. I cut a cover from natural linen and basted lines to show where the folds and pages lie and planned out a design for the front.
front motif
I cross stitched my first initial on the front using a free pattern provided by DMC. Then I made the ribbon leaves, rosebuds and rose using a combination of wired and satin ribbons from my ribbon box using Helen Gibb's directions in her book, "Ribbon Flowers". I embroidered the ferns using silk ribbon in a fly stitch and the white leaves using a buttonhole stitch and cream rayon DMC thread. There is one more spray of the buttonhole leaves to go, but I'm out of thread and must go buy more! I'll add some featherstitch fronds with beads and stitch down the ribbon rose and leaves before I call the front done! What fun to have a new project to work on!


Pincushion in Blue

Embellished, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

After a long stretch of working (nine out of ten nights!) I have a few days off at last! I've been stitching away on the second of the Sea Dreams pincushions, but found that this one wanted to go in a different direction. Rather than focusing on sea side elements, blue and white became the theme.
Years ago, my mother gave me a booklet of French embroidery designs. Rather than having actual patterns, it simply has photos of embroidery. One of the patterns had these fun bluebirds. They are the reason I've kept the booklet all these years. As I was trying to think of something to add to the white space on this block, I thought of those bluebirds and had to try one!
I had a lot of fun playing with ideas for seam embellishments on this. I am loving the combination of embroidery and beads with a smattering of silk ribbon embroidery added!


Sea Dreaming

Sea Dreaming, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
After 6 nights in a row of work, I was thrilled to have last night off! Since I have to go back to work tonight, I stayed on my night schedule and stitched the night away and was able to complete the first of the "sea dreams" pincushions! It goes beautifully with the old aqua glass bottles and the abalone shell of pearls on my bookshelves!

Since I've received a few questions about how to make the pincushions, I thought I'd provide a tutorial. If you make one, I'd love to see a picture!
PC embellishment complete
Step 1 ~ piece a block about 9" in diameter. Baste a seam 1/2" to 1" from the edge, all the way around. I'm finding that I end up turning about 3/4" to 1" under when I assemble this, so don't embellish any closer to the edge than that.
Step 2 ~ Embellish your block!
01 gathering top
Step 3 ~ With strong nylon thread (I used size D Belding Corticelli nylon beading thread), sew 1/8" long running stitches all around the block. This will be used to gather the block, so don't tie it off yet!
Step 4 ~ Pull up the gathering stitch until the sides are raised about 1 to 1 1/2".
02 stuffing w wool
Step 5 ~ Place your stuffing in the center. I used clean washed wool ~ leftovers from my spinning projects, but polyfil would work just as well. Use lots, you want it to be fairly firm!
03 adding CD
Step 6 ~ place an old CD you no longer need on top of the filling and push it down, tucking in the filling as you pull up the gathering thread.
04 tightening gathering
Step 7 ~ If needed you can use a pencil or knitting needle to push more stuffing through the center hole if you need. Spread the gathers out evenly and snug up the gathering thread and tie it off. Don't cut the long end as you can use it to begin the next step.
05 stitching top tight
Step 8 ~ Using more of the strong nylon thread, work from one side to the other and stitch the top tight over the CD. This step pulls the fabric snug around the stuffing and helps to keep it in place. Continue until you've pulled the entire top tight. Tie off your thread and cut.
06 preparing bottom
Step 9 ~ Prepare the bottom of the pincushion. Cut a circle of felt about 3/4" to 1" larger than the CD. Because the felt I used was thin and somewhat transparent, I lined it with a circle of flannel. Plain muslin would work just as well. Even interfacing would work well for this if needed. Place the felt and lining together and treat as one piece.
07 gathering bottom
Step 10 ~ Sew a gathering stitch seam around the circle of felt (using 1/8th inch long stitches about 1/4" from the edge of the felt.
08 bottom stitched tight
Step 11~ place 2nd CD in circle of felt and pull up the gathering stitch.
Step 12 ~ Sew across the felt to pull it tight around the CD just as you did for the top of the pincushion.
09 ready to attach base
Step 13 ~ Place the bottom piece on the underside of the pincushion with the gathering and tightening stitches places together.
10a whipping base to top
Step 14 ~ With strong thread, sew the top and bottom pieces together using a whip stitch or a blanket stitch. I used a whip stitch on this as I knew I was going to cover the seam.
11 added ribbon and bead trim
Step 15 ~ Place trim around the bottom edge and sew it to the felt base using a backstitch. I added a bead with each backstitch to accent it. Turn under the end of the trim and blind stitch it down when you get to the end. You are done! Your pincushion is now ready to use!
15 side view 3
Here is a look at the different sides of mine. On the beach side, there are shells and beach grass.
16 side view 4
Embellished seams.
14 side view 2
The sea side of the pincushion has a coral like fan and a cluster of pearls and aqua beads.

Blessings and Peace to all!


Christmas in August?

As sent out, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I finished my portion of the work on Janet's block for the FFT #3 Round Robin that I'm in at Crazy Quilting International. What a pleasure it has been to work on this block! I would have loved to finish this block as I had so many ideas for seam finishes and embellishments to do in the patches. In the end, I completed 3 seam embellishments and decorated two patches with embroidery and beads.
The Navaho bird bead and pine branch were the first things I added to this block but it came out smaller than intended, so I added the snowflakes in DMC Rayon thread and added some old clear beads for sparkle. I love the herringbone seam treatment and think it looks especially nice done in metalic DMC with beads and sequins! Very festive! I also added a bit of simple featherstitching at the top of the block and some varigated length buttonhole stitch along the edge of the black block. Maybe one of the next people to work on this block will be inspired to expand it a bit.
Holly leaves
Deciding on the Holly leaves took a little while, but in the end, I'm glad I chose to do them as I think they accent the white or light gray block well and provide a nice counter foil to the busyness of the snowflakes. Years and years ago, I did a lot of embroidery and satin stitch was always a favorite. Fun to be doing it again. I added the berries in DMC Rayon to add a bit of shine and did them in buttonhole stitch to give them some dimension.

I hope that Janet likes the work I've done on her block! It goes out in the mail tomorrow to the next participant on the list!


Almost Done!

Cream CQ 05Aug08, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I've been stitching away! Only one little triangle at the top is left to fill on my cream crazy quilt! Now if I could just figure out what to put there! I'm already thinking about ideas for the next cream block, but I need to finish a couple others before I start a new one!
Hollyhocks redux
Yesterday, I fixed the hollyhocks on my cream crazy quilt block by added a deeper ecru color to the leaves and stalks.
A butterfly was added using old pearls and french knots. I saw these on another crazy quilter's blog but now I can't figure out which one. I hope she doesn't mind that I've borrowed her butterfly design! I'll post a link when I figure it out.
Ribbon Rose
I spent a long time contemplating what to add to the ecru velvet block and at last decided upon a silk ribbon rose. But it was a bit small, with too much blank space around it, so I added a sprinkling of beads.

Nkd Blocks ~ Sea Dreams
Then I thought I'd work on my Sea Dreams crazy quilt block, but I wasn't sure about how to deal with some of the seams so thought I'd play a bit with the first one. I cut it into two blocks to make more pincushions! If you want to see how the pincushions are constructed go to Creative Blessings of Joy and read Jule's instructions! She made a nice tutorial for them.
Along one side of the first one, I stitched some feather stitch coral.
Beach grass
One of the sand seams was embellished with a stand of beach grass.
Seam details
On another sand seam, I used cretan stitch and decorated it with tiny shells and beads. The Shoreline seam was embellished using a couched herringbone stitch in an irredescent DMC thread and beads and sequins. I love this seam treatment!
Sea Dreams Pincushion
Here is the block as it stands right now. I've started another water seam with cretan stitch and have a little more to do on the water side of the block. I'm pleased with how it's coming and feel more confident about tackling the "real" Sea Dreams block now!

I picked up some extra shifts at work and am scheduled to work for the next 6 nights in a row, so it may be a while before I can do more stitching! Maybe I can squeeze in a little time in the late afternoons!
One last note before I head to work. Psalm 107 was my scripture reading for the day. It has been a balm to my soul and upon reading it could feel the peace of God descend like a dove. It was profound for me.
Psalm 107
8: Let them thank the Lord for
his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of
9: For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he
fills with good things.