When the Snow Flies...

Ivy Cottage in progress, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

When the snow flies and winter seems endless, caught forever in the grip of the White Witch, I find myself dreaming of cottages and gardens. When the thought of shoveling more snow or dreading trips outside on the icy walks, I retreat indoors. It's a perfect time for dreaming and so I dig out my sketch books and work out my thoughts and dreams of perfect tiny little cottages set amid lush gardens.

While most of the cottage designs get started in a notebook on graph paper, over the years I have been transferring the designs to a little sketchbook where the ideas are rendered in watercolor and ink.

Thoreau Cottage elevations
The first one I added was based on Thoreau's cabin. In 2002 I had the opportunity to travel with a friend to Concord, MA and visit the site of the original. I imagined what the cabin would look like if I were to stay there and all the things that I would want to have with me. In this elevation, you can see the fireplace wall, where cooking would occur over an open fire. You can also see one of the side walls where the table and kitchen hutch would be.

Thoreau Cottage Kitchen
Here I imagined out the simple but basic kitchen supplies I would need, including of course, the teapot and a pretty cosie!

Thoreau Cottage Pantry
Even the pantry contents were considered, all basic, but well rounded enough to supply a balanced and moderately varied diet.

Throreau Cottage Dinnerware
Though it is a simple cabin with few extras, a few lovely touches such as a linen cloth with lace trim for the table and pretty dishes make it a delightful place!

Ivy Cottage Title
Ivy Cottage is a later design, inspired by a garden shed I saw in a magazine. I wondered if it would be possible to create a livable cottage out it. At only 187 square feet, I think it would do for one person or as a sweet guest cottage.

Ivy Cottage
When I designed this in 1998, I created a watercolor of it. A black and white photocopy of it hung on the bulletin board over my drafting table at work in those days. I had been working on creating a companion piece to it at the time of our housefire and the original watercolor was lost. Using the B&W photo copy, I have now replicated it in my little idea book!

Encrusted DYB WIP ~ Ritva
I've been doing a little stitching as well and am making progress on Ritva's Encrusted block. I've used a dragonfly charm from Goblin's Market and have been using some lovely silk ribbon hand-dyed by Pat Winter!


Beaded Heart

Beaded Heart, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The beading on the heart is complete! For a small piece, only about 2 1/2"x3", it amazes me how long it took to finish and how many beads it took!

Heart with lace
The original idea for this involved setting it on a piece of embroidery done in pale neutral shades on a square of oatmeal colored linen. While I liked the concept, the reality of it didn't quite live up to my expectations, so I am playing with some other ideas such as surrounding the heart with this lovely bit of lace.

Thank you so much for all the comments and concerns about my fall. They given me much encouragment through the past few days! I continue to heal and am looking forward to the staples coming out this week and hoping that the headaches subside soon!


Things that don't go together...

What a week I have had! I've learned two things that don't go together this week.
1) Ice and me. I slipped on the ice Tuesday morning coming home from work, knocked myself out for several minutes, split the back of my head open and spent a very confused half hour. Thankfully one of my neighbors took me to the ED and my sister brought me home. Now the back of my head sports 5 shiny staples. I've been a bit shakey and have had a few aches and pains from the fall, but those are starting to subside and I'm feeling a bit better today!

2) Cocoa and computers. This morning, in my shakiness, I managed to spill half a mug of hot cocoa on the keyboard of my laptop computer, which promptly fried the motherboard. I'm hoping that my son Stephen, who is a whiz with computers will be able to save the bit of data from the hard drive that I need when he comes to visit next month. Thankfully, I usually save most of my stuff to an external hard drive! I have a little netbook that I use for traveling, for which I'm very thankful at the moment as it is keeping me from going into computer withdrawal!

In the meantime, I've been puttering along with my bead journal projects for January and February. A glimpse of February's is seen above! More to come in the next few days!

I've been enjoying the basket of iris which have now turned into a basket of crocus! I can't believe how many blooms this little basket has held! What a lovely bright spot they have been this month! And today, I heard the most beautiful bird song I've heard in months and looked outside to see a pair of western bluebirds! Oh, how they lifted my spirits!


Christmas in February?

Iris, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The basket of iris burst into bloom a couple of days ago and I've been enjoying the exuberant blooms! On our grey snowy days, they lift the spirits and keep the hope of spring alive!

For Rose Anne
Though the coming holiday is Valentine's Day, I've been stitching on another of the Winter/Christmas round robin blocks, this time for Rose Anne. I am the third person to work on her blocks and was challenged by the two blocks that were left. One was white with yellow and the other was white and red with a touch of orange, which is the block that I ended up choosing. So often, I find that stepping out of my comfort zone results in some of my best work and I'm so pleased with the way this block turned out! First, I added a bit of lace over the orangey fabric to tone it down. I love doing embroidered seams with sequins in them and was happy to be able to add a couple to this block. The red satin rose came from a swap as did the little jeweled piece.

detail wreath
Rose Anne asked for Angels and wreaths among other things, so I stitched a wreath with silk ribbon, loosely using a vintage embroidery pattern for inspiration. A little angel was created using beads from my stash.

joint block after Lisa
For the joint block, I added some sage green lace embellished lightly with beads and added a silk ribbon rose cluster. Now the blocks head to Margreet in the Netherlands for the finishing touches before heading home to Rose Anne!


The Saga of Karrin's Blocks

Block for Karrin, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

One of the things I really enjoy about doing Round Robins, is seeing the way different people put together their blocks and the different color combinations they choose. Working on these blocks inspires me to move beyond my comfort zone. When Karrin's blocks arrived, I loved the muted tones of green and red mixed with gold. They made me think of an old fashioned country Christmas. (Karrin's pic of the original blocks is at the left)



Rita was the first to work on Karrin's blocks and she had embroidered a brilliant white Christmas tree, which really popped on the muted colors. (see Rita's pic of her work at left) I knew I wanted to do something to coordinate, so I crocheted and tatted a couple of white snowflakes and added an embroidered one as well. Over the years, I've received so many Christmas cards with robins on them, that I knew I wanted to use one on this block as well. I drew a robin on felt and embroidered it, then appliqued it onto the block with a little wool stuffing behind it to add dimension. The holly leaves were crocheted from a pattern found in the book "100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet" by Lesley Stanfield. I added lots of bead berries to finish them and added some pine branches in variegated pearl cotton. I loved working on this block!

While finishing the block right after Christmas, I wanted to compare it to Rita's block. That's when I discovered that the unthinkable had happened and I was unable to find the rest of Karrin's blocks! For the better part of two weeks, I searched high and low, tearing the apartment apart, looking through the trash, my sock drawer, under and behind the furniture, removing books from the shelf, unpacking the Christmas decorations (more than once!) and searching through every box, bag and cupboard. All to no avail. How distraught I was at having been so careless to lose not only the 4 unfinished blocks but also Rita's lovely work.

new blocks 4 Karrin
After several weeks of being consumed with looking for the blocks, I finally had to acknowledge that the blocks were gone and not likely to be found. With trepidation, I e-mailed Karrin and thankfully, she was very gracious about it and agreed to send me her leftover fabric from making the blocks so I could re-make new blocks to send on through the round robin. From the picture she had posted on CQI, I was able to nearly copy the original blocks, though they are slightly different. I only wish that I was able to replicate Rita's lovely work as well.

joint block 4 Karrin
Early on in this round robin, one of our participants had to drop out, so to make up for the "extra" block, we decided to jointly work on one of the blocks in each group. I choose the wreath block to be our joint block for Karrin and got it started by doing a buttonhole stitch around the center and adding clusters of sequin berries. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone adds to this block!

At last Karrin's blocks are in the mail to Margreet and I am starting to find renewed energy for working on other projects. I've also taken measures to ensure that I never lose another set of round robin blocks! The positive of all this searching is that everything in my apartment is more organized, especially my art and crafting supplies than it has ever been!