A Week in Colorado

Apple Blossoms 1, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I've been spending the week in Colorado with the folks. While there I've been working on several projects. One that is completed is the little apple blossom study. Originally, I'd planned for the right side of the piece to be the top, but as I finished it, I realized I like it rotated better.

Summer Knitting
One of my favorite stores here is Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, a wonderful store focused on the fiber arts. I purchased some lovely cashmere/silk yarn to knit a lightweight shawl in the Storks Nest pattern. The yarn is lovely and soft, a beautiful aqua color and makes for the perfect summer knitting project!

Garden plan
Along the side of my parent's new yard is an area that my Mom wants to turn into a flower garden. We've been sketching out ideas for the layout and thinking about what kinds of plants to use!

Pearl St Mall
One morning, my daughter and I made a trip to Pearl Street Mall in Boulder where they were setting up tents for all the Memorial Day Weekend events, including the Morgul Bismark Road Race (Bicycles) and the Bolder Boulder Race (10k Marathon).

Pearl St Mall tulips
The tulips and pansies were in bloom in the planters along the Pearl Street Mall. So lovely!

vintage trim
An evening spent browsing an antique store with two of my kids resulted in finding a lovely assortment of vintage trims! Now to decide if I want to actually use them or if i should keep them as is and simply enjoy the vintage packaging and look of them!


Stitching Swatches

Swatch 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

There are so many ideas floating around in my mind of things I want to stitch. Trying each one out in a large piece takes too long, so I've decided to try stitching some smaller swatches of things, only 4 x 4 inches.

Swatch 01 materials
For this piece, inspired by photos of apple blossoms against a pale sky, I've done a small swatch of quilt weaving with silk and linen and overlaid it with small bits of dyed silk gauze. I only had the gauze in shades of blue or green, so using a scrap of nearly white blue dyed gauze, I made some pink scraps using alcohol inks.

Swatch 01 stitching
Using old silk sewing threads and size 12 pearl cotton, the swatch was stitched. Here, I've overlaid some grey silk thread to mimic branches while I try to decide what to try. Next up is to add some white blossoms and possibly some branches.


Cathy's Block

Cathy's Encrusted blocks each include a "silkie" of a vintage Valentine card of her Mother's. For the embellishment, I stuck to the red and white theme with just a few pink flowers and beads added. This was a quick and easy block for me to embellish!

Cathys Encrusted Blocks
Since I was the last to work on Cathy's blocks, they now head home to her. She plans to put them together with others she is working on to make a bed runner! The blocks shown are by Gerry K, Rita, Wendy, Ritva and myself. The unfinished block is left for Cathy to complete.

Ritas Spring Blocks
I also thought you might like to see all of Rita's Spring Encrusted blocks together. The work is by: Gerry, Wendy, myself and Ritva.

Now that my work on this "Encrusted Round Robin" is complete (until I receive my blocks back), I'm going to focus on the Pansy Round Robin and on a couple of my own projects for a while!


Rita's Spring Block

Rita's Spring block is complete!

Bunnies and Flowers
Daisies and phlox were added to the lower right corner.

Bluebird and Appleblossoms
When I first sewed the bird to the block, it distorted the eye and gave it almost a cartoon character look, so I made a minor adjustment and it made all the difference!


Apple Blossoms and Pansies

Apple Blossoms, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
1. lyrical, 2. under the apple tree, 3. robin, 4. Apple Blossom

Spring is slow to arrive on the hillside behind my apartment. It creeps along slowly, with lingering snows and freezing temperatures at night all the way through May. The grass greens slowly and the small oak trees wait until the last possible moment before unfurling their leaves. While there are many things I love about Flagstaff, at this time of year I am homesick for the springtime of my dreams. I dream of bright new green grass, dotted with clover and dandelions in bloom, waking to the robin's song and the lush bloom of white blossomed apple trees kissed with pale pink. The beautiful photos above are not mine, but are the wonderful work of photographers on Flickr. So lovely that I just had to share!

Pansy DYB Blocks
Pansies are the theme of the next round robin I am participating in. These blocks are pieced using scraps of silk. They are off to Wisconson, Australia, Iowa, California and Canada before returning home. I love how these round robins travel the world!


Apple Blossoms & Bluebirds

I have been in a stitching mood the past few days! Since I finished the stitching on Gentle Blue Dreams, I've been working on Rita's Encrusted Block. She asked for a Spring theme with birds, bunnies and flowers, which is one of my favorites! I knew right away when I looked at her blocks that I wanted to focus on Apple Blossoms, as they are one of my very favorite things about spring. After doing the tree, I stitched a close up view of an apple tree in blossom and a Bluebird sitting on the limb. Using Gerry's technique of embroidering on felt and adding it later helps to give it great dimension!

In a container of metal charms, I found a lovely little brass bird, which I colored with alcohol inks to make another bluebird. I did the same with a silver butterfly charm. I added a bone bead bunny as well as a bunny button. The shank on the button was far too long, so I cut it off, glued a piece of felt to the back and after it was dry, stitched the button down through the felt.

Rita's Encrusted Block ~ WIP
I've still got one corner to go, which I think will be filled with silk ribbon daisies and maybe a few clovers.


Gentle Details

Gentle Details, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
Stitching is completed on Gentle Blue Dreams! When this project began, I envisioned a much simpler piece, with fewer and larger elements. But rather than planning it out, I allowed it to evolve as it would. I've always had a love of tiny things and small details, so that is what flowed out of me and onto this cloth. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

Little Velvet heart


Stitching Detail

Bunny Corner

Gentle Blue Dreams

Damp Stretching
With stitching complete, the piece is being damp stretched rather than ironed. Grateful thanks to Karen Ruane and her blog Contemporary Embroidery for the instructions on how to do this!


Blue Dreams

Bluebird, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I've lost track this past week of just what day of stitching I'm on with this piece. Some days pass with no stitching and others find just a tiny bit done, while others are spent stitching away or musing on what to do next. I've been mulling over a name for this piece and am undecided between two choices; Blue Dreams or Gentle Dreams.

Bunny 2
Another bunny was added, almost a secret bunny because it blends in such that one must look closely to find it.

Bunny 1
A field of flowers has grown up around the first bunny.

Blue Dreams
In the upper half of this piece, there is another heart, fountains of flowers and more stitching. I'm thinking there will be more bluebirds and vining leaves added. It's almost finished!


Woven Cloth Day 4

Woven Cloth Day 4, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
Stitching the lower right corner was the focus of today's work on the Woven Cloth. I am intrigued by the process of figuring how and what to stitch on this cloth. While my tendency is to want to stitch the edges and then place a motif in the center, I'm working on crossing boundaries, trying to make the work flow across the block, regardless of the edges. At the same time, I'm trying to ensure that the edges are all stitched down in one manner or another and that the backgrounds are well filled with stitching.

Woven Cloth - Lower Right
In this corner, I've added three more hearts. The lowest one is subtle, woven of the same pearl cotton that the background stitching is done with. I like the way the chain stitched heart almost appears to sit above the items around it. The blue silk heart was created by padding with a felt heart and then dimpling it with teeny tiny quilting stitches.

Woven Cloth - Hearts and Leaves
I loved creating the vining leaves around the blue silk heart. Though they are stitched primarily to secure the edges, their curving nature makes them feel more like they cross boundaries and allows them to provide some background stitching. I tried two other hearts before ending up with the chain stitched heart. First I tried a padded fly stitch and then a satin stitch heart. Somehow, neither of them looked quite right, so I ripped them out. I'm much happier with this simple heart that seems to float above the layers of cloth.


Carnival Block Complete

Wendy's Carnival Block is finished at last. It has been a slow journey to completion. The bright colors and carnival theme were really difficult for me and I had a hard time getting motivated to work on it. Taking a break from it to work on the Woven piece gave me strength to finish it. The peacock feathers on the mask gave me some direction. The carnival theme turned out to be a good excuse to use lots of sequins in the seam treatments and also to use lots of iridescent beads, which unfortunately don't photograph well.

This block is not as heavily encrusted as it could be, but it balances with Gerry's and Ritva's work. I hope that Wendy is happy with it!

The next round robin block to work on is for Rita, who choose a pastel colored Spring theme. It should be much easier (and quicker!) to work on.


Woven Cloth - Day 3

My Work Area, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
Thomas is my constant companion while I'm working. When he's nearby like this, it is a joy! Other times he is much more of a pest, continually putting his nose or paws right into my line of sight or attempting to lay down on top of what I'm working on ~ all accompanied by continuous meows of conversation. I alternately praise him, grumble at him and yes, even occasionally swear at him depending on the level of his interference. Once in a while he becomes Thomas the Flying Cat when I get irritated enough with him to toss him away for few moments. I think he likes it though as he is usually right back for more. Miss Mollie is also a constant companion, but she is much more polite about it, sitting at my side or nearby, moving from room to room with me, now and then she stands, front paws on my knee, asking politely with a little mew if she can sit in my lap for a bit. Who could resist?! I do love my kitty companions!

Woven Cloth Day 3
As I work on the woven cloth, I've been thinking a lot about how I work creatively and about what inspires me. Sometimes I envy those that create these great works of art with deep meaning and wonder if I can ever create such a work.

Felt Bunny
Then I get sidetracked by whimsy, adding things like felt bunnies to my block, and playing with interesting stitches.

Flower Trail
I stitch trails of flowers because I love flowers and because I've fallen in love with this variegated pearl cotton the picks up the blues I've used in this block so well.

Blue Hearts
I stitch hearts of many colors and sizes because I'm having fun playing with padded applique and different fabrics. Also because I've loved the hearts I've seen in the handwork that others have done and simply because I just like the shape of hearts!

Thomas sleeping
Maybe someone else can see the "deep meaning" behind the stitching on my blocks, but for me, it comes down to the joy of creating, the peace of stitching away with my kitty companions at my side and contentment at being able to create beauty by combining needle and thread with an assortment of scraps and tidbits of fabric that otherwise would be relegated to the rag bag. Rather like Rumplestiltskin spinning straw into gold, don't you think?


Woven Cloth - Day 2

Woven Cloth - Hearts, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
It's been a long time since a project has captured my attention like this one! Little bits have been added and more will come. The velvet heart will get stitched down (and I hope the wrinkles can be preserved!). A stream of flowers will provide connection between different areas of the block.

Woven Cloth - beaded trail
Like so many other crazy quilters and fabric artists, I often pick up something when I see it, not because I know just where or how I will use it, but simply because it intrigues me. That was the case with the bead trim that now forms a trail across the lower left of this piece.

Woven Cloth - Nest
A tidbit of bronzy lace that came to me in a CQ "squishie" turned into a bird nest for one of the bone birds in my stash. Birds nests, like new babies, make me think of hope and new possibilities. There's just so much potential in them!

Woven Cloth day 2
Usually, I work on crazy quilting and embroidery while sitting in my big comfy chair, but this piece seems to require working at the table. It is also challenging me to think beyond the "patch", beyond the grid and to try new techniques like the stitched backgrounds.