Pansy Block for Kerry

Detail Ribbon Pansy, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Flowers in the pansy/viola/violet family rank in my top 3 favorite flowers, so I was delighted when a pansy round robin began at CQI! The first blocks I received were from Kerry, who chose fabrics mostly in shades of purple and yellow. The first element I created for these blocks was the large ribbon pansy using ombre wired ribbon. I also found the lovely little purple and yellow pansy button at the fabric store and knew it would be a perfect addition to this block.

Detail of Pansy Block
One patch on each of Kerry's blocks contains butterflies. I added a bit of split stitch to outline it and continue the shape onto the adjacent patches. I love the little tri-color violas so added a cluster of silk ribbon embroidery violas in the upper left corner.

Pansy Block for Kerry by Lisa B
Here is the completed block! I love how it turned out and hope that Kerry loves it too!


Experiments in Tea Dying

Dried tea dye, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

While putting together some bases for Jude's Spirit Cloth class last week, I became frustrated with my selection of fabrics and wanted something that was a little more organic than the quilting cottons that comprise the majority of my fabric stash. I'd seen some lovely tea dyed fabric somewhere and decided to try my hand at dying some small squares. After wetting the fabric, I sprinkled it with loose tea leaves and dried rose petals. Wanting an uneven pattern rather than a solid color, I scrunched it up in a bowl, added a little water and left it on the counter to dry while I was in Colorado. This is how it looked when I got back.

Tea Dye after rinsing
This morning, I rinsed it out and this is the result. I do like the way it came out. Since then, I've read that the tannins in the tea can eventually cause the fabric to rot away, so this may not be the best idea for dying fabric.

Tea and icing color dyes
I also had tried dying some small squares of muslin with Wilton Icing colors as well as green tea. These I let sit with the dye for an hour or so and then rinsed them out. The green tea resulted in a rather odd greenish tan color that almost doesn't look dyed. The icing colors really washed out of the fabric once rinsed. I suspect that mordanting the cotton with alum would have resulted in better colors with these, but apparently I had used all of mine! The blue and green colors disappeared almost entirely, but the rose colors became a brighter pink.

Dying results
All together, I think the fabrics do give me something to work with and will mix well with other fabrics.

Spirit Cloth Class - Base
For Jude's class, I've been experimenting with different bases. I love the diamond in the square base, so tried a couple different versions. I also tried one in a "landscape" manner and another woven piece. I do love those woven pieces!

What If components
Jude also recommends combining different components. At first, I didn't think I had any, but then I realized I have a whole bag of little bits of crazy quilting. Some were things I started that never went any further, others were round robin pieces that I can't decide what to do with. What if I use bits of these to grow stories on the different bases?

Tomorrow I hope to show you a finished pansy block for a round robin and a bit more work on the bunny bag!

Forest Fires!

I left Colorado for home just as the sun rose. The alpen-glo on the mountains is fleeting, but so beautiful! These are Bear and Green Mountains, home to the Flatirons, the gorgeous sandstone formations that sit above Boulder.

Thank you to all who e-mailed me or left comments with concerns about how the fires around Flagstaff were impacting me. I deeply appreciate the thoughts and concerns!

Schultz Fire from the north Hwy 89
While I was in Colorado, my sister who is the Forest Fuels Specialist for the Kaibab National Forest (which basically means she is the Chief of fire operations/planning/prevention on the Kaibab), let me know about the fires around Flagstaff. It was nice to be able to keep up with it despite being so far away. I’d seen the dramatic pictures from the Schultz fire’s first day. By the time I came home on day 3 of the fire, the massive thunderhead type clouds of smoke had been replaced by fuzzy clouds that stretched northeast for hundreds of miles. To me that was a good sign as it meant that the fire was no longer raging out of control and was moving at a slower, easier to fight pace. It was still pretty impressive to see the eastern base of the San Francisco Peaks wreathed in clouds of smoke.

Schultz Fire Smoldering
Highway 89 had been closed for 2 days, but thankfully one lane had been reopened, which made getting home much easier. The fire burned right up to edge of the road and in some places, I believe it actually jumped the 4 lane highway. There were still many smoking hot spots all across the forest floor through this area. Many firefighting trucks and personnel remain in the area making sure things don’t flare up again.

Schultz Fire
Several of the neighborhoods in the area were evacuated and I could see where the ground was scorched into the yards. As you can tell from the amount of smoke, things are still burning and smoldering quite a lot.

Schultz Fire Media Camp
In addition to the large number of forest firefighters in the area, there is also a large number of law enforcement officers. They help to keep people from returning before the fire danger is gone, but also to help keep the neighborhoods secure from looters. The media was also out in force. This open lot was filled with news trucks from all over!

Shultz Fire
As the road turned toward town, I got this shot looking past Mt. Elden towards Schultz Pass and the peaks beyond. The Schultz fire as I write this is 14,000 acres in size, covering approximately 19 square miles. According to NOAA, the smoke reaches as far east as Iowa!

What is even more amazing to me is that though the Schultz Fire is by far the largest, there have been three other fires around Flagstaff this past week. The Eagle Rock Fire is about 10 miles north west of Flagstaff (my sister is the current incident commander) and is 3400 acres in size. It started last Tuesday and is in the mop-up stage. The Hardy Fire started on Saturday and is 350 acres in size and within city limits. It also is in the mop-up stage as is the Ranch Fire. This one is the smallest and was started by a car fire, but quickly brought under control. I believe this one may have been within city limits as well. Amazingly, all the reports I’ve read indicate that no houses have been lost due to these fires!

If you’d like to read more about the fires or see better photos than mine, here are some links I came across in the past few days. Please note that most of these will only be available for a short time.
~The Inci Web (Incident Information System) official site for the Shultz Fire:
~ Amazing pics taken and blogged by an unsuspecting hiker on and adjacent peak on Sunday:
~ CNN article with some good video of the fire:
~NOAA satellite tracking of smoke
~Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff’s newspaper


Greek Festival!

Every June, the Greek Orthodox Church in Denver puts on a Greek Festival. I first went as a girl when the festival was still fairly small. Now the event has grown into quite a large event attracting thousands of people over the weekend. The gold dome of the Assumption Cathedral is stunning against a blue sky. Inside the dome is painted and gilded in brilliant colors in a method known as iconography, which depicts the life of Christ. You can see pictures HERE.

Assumption Greek Orthodox Steeple
The light of the setting sun made for a glorious backdrop to the the smaller cross atop another building on the Cathedral property.

Greek Festival
There are lots of things to enjoy at the Greek Festival including live Greek music, lots of Greek Dancing, shopping among the variety of Greek boutiques, sampling various Greek wines and beer, but mostly a wonderful assortment of Greek foods! My favorite items on the menu were the kalamari (yummy whole squid dipped in batter and deep fried to perfection!), dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice served with an egg/lemon sauce) and loukoumathes (Greek honey balls - sort of like rich doughnut holes - dipped in honey and walnuts ~ to die for!) This photo is looking down into the food plaza from up near the Cathedral Dome.

Opa! (happiness and good life!)


Garden Club

Columbine, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My Mom has a been a member of the Boulder Garden Club for some time. Every now and then, timing works out for me to go to one of their summer garden meeting/potlucks with her. The garden we visited this morning was beautiful and just the kind of place I dream of having myself one day. These gorgeous columbines were growing next to the pond.

The pond has several koi including these two beauties. I love the reflections of the water stridors!

Wisteria Trellis
The pond backs up to this garage. I love the trellis and the lushness of the wisteria growing against it!

The garden beds by the back walk were lined with these gorgeous campanula! We had a lovely lunch sitting in the shade under the trees and enjoying the beauty of Jill's gorgeous garden!


Stitching Away

Rabbit Badge, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Stitching continues on the green cloth project. I am loving the Kantha style stitching and the way it joins layers of fabric together. It changes the drape and feel of the cloth into a cohesive unit. The weight of it feels so nice in my hands as I work. I appliqued the bunny cutout with a simple satin stitch border. It reminds me of all the girl scout badges I had on my sash... many years ago!

Fleurs in Stitching & Applique
The bit of floral applique was stitched down in the traditional manner, but then I went over it with embroidery floss to emphasize parts of it.

Velvet Heart
The Velvet heart also received some stitching treatment with a variegated pearl cotton in shades of green and blue.

Velvet trees
All the trees have been appliqued down with a buttonhole stitch. Another rabbit added here with more to come. I decided to leave the lace as is and will add some embroidery elements on top of it. I'm imagining bluebirds flying through the treetops!


Working on the Green Cloth

Green Cloth Bag WIP, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The green cloth is gradually turning into a bag! I've spent much of my free time the past few days piecing the tiny patches together. There is something immensely satisfying about taking a handful of tiny scraps that would normally end up being discarded and turning them into a larger piece of useful cloth!

After going through my fabrics, I found a piece of wonderful sage green twill to use as the foundation of the bag. The search also resulted in a nice assortment of green fabrics for the trees. Some are velvet, others are upholstery fabrics. The brown is a strip of cut pile corduroy. A few more rabbit cutouts from the Japanese fabric will turn this into a rabbit dance! I think it needs some bluebirds too!

Working on the Green Cloth
I'm still debating about the lace. I like the texture it offers to the piece, but think that it needs to be tea dyed to tone it down just a bit. The top rim of the bag will be bound in a narrow strip of mossy velvet, so I've left some space for that.

Sketch of Thomas
While I work, one of the cats is always at my side. Thomas often sits looking at me like this for long periods, especially if it's nearing time to eat!


Threads of Thought

I finished the piecing of the heart and star blocks late last night. Lots of tiny little stitches, but meditative to do. It made me realize however, that it's time to update the prescription for my glasses!

I like the way they look when put together in a square.

Then I laid the blocks out as I had ordered them in my sketch. I'm not sure which I like better. But the long version made me think that it needs to be rolled up like a scroll, something that unrolls to reveal itself. OR... maybe it needs to wrap around something... and that thought led on to this:

Maybe the blocks should wrap around a bag.

And thinking about those velvet trees, led me to my fabrics, where I could only find a couple shades of green... and not the ones I wanted
Which led to first trying to lighten a piece of the dark olive green velvet with bleach... which made me think about the alcohol dyes and why wouldn't that work?... so I found a piece of light biscuit brown velvet, saturated it with alcohol and then added dyes... not able to stick just with greens... some shades of pink and blue crept in as well!

And as things go, there was leftover dye on the plastic sheet I'd used to work on, and some white cotton at hand, so I had to play around a bit more! I'm not quite sure where the red/orange came from... not my usual color choices! But I can see hearts crafted from this bit of fabric. These tiny bottles of alcohol dye with little nozzles aren't ideal for dying fabric with, and who knows how well the color will last, but it sure was fun to play with!


Green Cloth ~ Beginning

Green Cloth ~ Beginning, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

With a couple of relaxing days at home, I've embarked on a new project. My initial idea was to try some of the techniques I've been seeing on Jude's blog and elsewhere with some small pieces. But in sketching my ideas out, they all ran together into a "long" cloth. I suspect this project will morph as it progresses!

Green Cloth ~ Block 1
It started off with wanting to try Jude's paperless piecing. I cut 9 small squares in shades of green from my scrap bag, ironed them using a 1" square paper template and then whip stitched the edges together after the paper template had been removed. I loved it so much, I made another one. A hunt through the green fabric stash resulted in these twiggy batik squares, perfect for combining with the 9-patches to make a larger block (now 6" square). I've used 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss for the seams and love the ever so slight bit of color contrast it gives.

Green Cloth ~ Back of Block 1
I love the way the seams on the back look. Somehow more orderly than what I've achieved with normal quilt piecing. I find I love doing the little whipstitched seams.

Woven Cloth ~ Block 1 up close
I'm thinking of adding some appliques to this block ~ a little rabbit from some Japanese cotton that I have and a leafy floral motif that will most likely be embellished with some embroidery as well.

Green Cloth ~ Block 2
Block 2 came about when I was thinking about adding some velvet for texture. I have quite a lot of lovely deep olive green velvet that I love, which unfortunately doesn't photograph well. 2" squares of a blue-green batik combined with a coarse celery green cotton form the background and the heart will be appliqued down on top.

Green Cloth ~ Block 3
Block 3 was actually the first block I started playing with, just choosing colors and strips of fabric from my scrap bag. As I worked on the other two blocks, this one was modified slightly and still needs to have it's edges turned to match the size of the other blocks. Another leafy fabric will be appliqued here.

Green Cloth ~ Blocks in progress
For Block 4, seen in the lower left of this pic, I'll semi-paper piece a traditional 8 pointed star, but then will add an embroidered blue bird on a dimensional nest. I totally love the 3-d nests that Kirsten makes. Another maker of beautiful nests is Gerry. These talented ladies offer much inspiration!

Green Cloth ~ Journal and Blocks
Later this month, I'm taking an online class from Jude! I love the way she layers her work with fabric and stitches and story. Can't wait to get started!


The Road Between Homes

Colorado Sunrise, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

If home is where the heart is and also where one lives and works, then I have two homes. One is in Colorado where my children and parents live (and where I have lived most of my life) and the other is in Flagstaff, AZ where I currently live and work. The road between the two is travelled often and each time, I find different things to enjoy along the way. I started the journey from Colorado to Arizona just as the sun rose. Such beautiful light to begin a journey with!

Georgetown CO house
As the road climbed through the mountains, I made a brief stop in the historic town of Georgetown. Georgetown came into being during the gold and silver rushes of the mid 1800's. Today, the main street stores have arts and craft boutiques and the older homes have become iconic emblems of Victorian architecture in the west. While I enjoy the fancy gingerbread on many of the more well known buildings, it is the simpler old homes such as the one above that I really love! Georgetown has been featured in the movies a few times, most notably in Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way but Loose" and also in a John Denver movie, "The Christmas Gift". It took me over an hour to reach Georgetown from my parents home, but the sun had not yet penetrated this steep mountain valley!

Bighorn Sheep at Georgetown CO
As I was leaving Georgetown to get back on the interstate, a herd of Bighorn Sheep crossed my path! They are Colorado's state animal and not seen very often. What a delight to see an entire herd!

I-70 Glenwood Canyon
I've posted pictures of Glenwood Canyon before, but I couldn't resist adding another one. The light of the morning sun gives the canyon walls a gentle glow, but within minutes of this, those looming gray clouds let loose with rain!

Monument Valley in the distance
Another view that I love on this journey is the first glimpse of Monument Valley in the distance. It always gives me a thrill to see the monuments on the horizon. While this view is from about 30 miles away, the first glimpse is often seen near the town of Blanding, about 70 miles away!

Wild Lupine Valley of the Gods UT
The red desert is blooming! At Valley of the Gods, the deep purply blue of the wild lupine is an amazing contrast with the deep red soils of the region! See those shadowy shapes in the far distance? Those are yet another view of the spires of Monument Valley!

These brilliant yellow blooms light up the landscape all throughout the Monument Valley/Valley of the Gods area.

Valley of the Gods UT
Normally, I don't like taking photos in the mid-day sun as it tends to wash the colors out. What a delight to download the photos and find that this time, the colors were just as saturated as the landscape!

Valley of the Gods wash
As I was leaving the Valley of the Gods, I crossed this little wash with just a thin film of water left. It made a perfect mirror and as any child learns early, red (of the soil) and blue (reflections of the sky) combine to make purple! While I love the grand views of nature as much as anyone, it's often the little sights such as this one that make my heart sing!