Green Bag Finished!

There is such satisfaction in completing a project and having it come out better than one could have imagined! When I started this back in June, I just knew that I needed a new purse and that I was tired of of looking at the same old stuff in the stores. I wanted something whimsical, yet sturdy and practical. Something big enough to put a book in, or my camera or even a stitching project in addition to the usual detritus one finds in a handbag.

Set of Tote Bags
For the base of the design, I copied the size and shape of the shopping bags I'd made a couple years ago. I use them all the time and the size was just about right, but the handles weren't long enough to fit over my shoulder.

Journal page ~ Green cloth
I sketched up designs, at first thinking I would do much more traditional embroidery on it. I'm so glad I chose the velvet trees instead of root veggies! I also thought that maybe I'd use some cloth weaving. After creating the whipstitched patchwork, the raw edges of the woven cloth no longer seemed to work, so I added more patchwork. For the star patch, I'd envisioned a bluebird sitting on a nest, but my idea was too dimensional and not practical for a purse that would get daily use. When Susan shared her baby bluebird heart design, I knew it was the perfect alternative!

Detail of inside
For the lining, I used the Japanese bunny fabric. I added a zippered pocket for pencils and those little items one doesn't want to lose in the bottom of a deep bag. There is also a pocket for a cell phone, which isn't shown.

Green Bag Finished!  side 1
Now I have a bag that I adore, that is big and roomy and best of all, fits me and my personality! This has to be one of the most satisfying projects I've ever completed!


Autumn in the Air

Green Bag side 2, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

There is a decided feeling of autumn in the air. I took my stitching outside to take pictures this evening. It seemed the right thing to do, to let the breeze flow around and through it, for the stitching to be surrounded by trees and flowers and hillside grasses.

Green Bag side 1
It's so good to see a big project like this one coming to a close. Tonight I'll stitch up the second side and begin adding the last of the elements to bring it all together. In the Spirit Cloth Workshop with Jude, she described Spirit Cloth as "the moment when the cloth reaches the state where i have formed a real relationship with it ." I think I've reached that state with this piece.

Wild Sunflowers
The wildflowers on the hillside this evening were amazing. The wild sunflowers bending in the breeze glowed with such intensity in the evening light.

Wild Grasses
The wild grasses were punctuated with these stalks of tiny white blooms. Just lovely to be out among them all. I've been so blessed the past 6 years to live in places where I am able to look out upon the work of the Master Gardener from my home. It brings such peace and joy into my life!


Finishing Projects

While I love working on projects, sometimes it seems like I get them 98% finished and then they languish in a box or drawer, never quite fully completed, far too much of the time. At the beginning of the year, I made a list and even posted about several projects that I hoped to complete this year. Despite looking over the list regularly, I haven't made much headway as I'm continually distracted by the prospect of working on a newer project that is more enticing.

When my daughter was here, we went through all my unfinished projects and put them together in one spot. I was stunned at how many there were! And of all the lovely crazy quilting projects, the only ones I had completed for myself were a couple of pincushions. So, now that I'm home again, I've resolved to put more effort into getting some of these languishing projects completed. Yesterday I finished the Christmas Bell Pull composed of round robin blocks.

Bell Pull
It turned out lovely! I'll love putting this out at Christmas!

Top of Bell Pull
To finish this piece, I used a strip of iron-on interfacing on the back of the row of stitched blocks that extended the width of the border. The backing fabric was then turned over the front and stitched down. The top block is by Rose Anne (Canada) and the second down is a joint block in which everyone in the round robin worked a little bit.

After the edges were stitched by machine, I went back and added a featherstitch border by hand. The same thread was used to add stitching where the blocks were joined to one another. These blocks were completed by Rita (Kansas) and Karrin (California).

At the top and bottom, I left the border extra large to accommodate a rod pocket. I did have to shorten my rods by about 1/2". On the back is a label showing who stitched which blocks. These blocks are by Margreet (The Netherlands) and me.

I have another set of round robin blocks that I need to complete to make a summer bell pull. Now that the first one is done, the second should be easy to complete!

I'm continuing to work on my green bag as well. This morning I was looking at Gerry's blog and saw that she is doing a give-away to celebrate her 700th post. In addition to a fabulous pincushion, she is giving away 3 of her delightful bluebird buttons that she has hand-painted! I think one of them would be a perfect addition to my green bag, don't you?


Stitching Bluebirds

Bluebirds, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I've had a relaxing few days at the folks and been able to sit and do some stitching at long last! I loved the little bluebird heart design that Susan (Plays with Needles) created. I was delighted when she shared her design as I knew immediately that I wanted to add it to my Green bag.

Bluebirds up close
I used two shades of variegated thread to stitch the bluebirds with a split back stitch. I love the way it looks like a miniature chain stitch. For the background stitching in the patchwork around the bluebirds, I used more variegated threads. I'm loving these stitches that bring so much texture to a piece.

Lisa's Autumn DYB Blocks
Right before my daughter and I left for Colorado, I was able to piece some 6" blocks for an Autumn Do Your Block round robin. I went with neutral tones of linen, silk and cotton to make my blocks. I'm asking for everyone to use similar neutral or very muted tones to embellish these blocks.


Travels in Northern Arizona

Lake Powell, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

While my daughter was here, we spent a lot of time traveling around Northern Arizona and taking in the sights. One of those was a stop at Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. Driving across the dry desert and then spotting the turquoise and aqua water of Lake Powell nestled in the landscape is a view that takes the breath away.

Lake Powell Marina
The scope of Lake Powell is hard to take in as to my knowledge, there is no way to see it in it's entirety except from space. It winds in and out of red rock canyons creating a coastline that is hundreds of miles long.

Glen Canyon Dam
The Glen Canyon Dam is an amazing sight to see. It's curving walls cut into the canyon walls in a way that adds strength to the Dam. It boggles the mind to think about how many gallons of water this dam holds in place. It is also a source of hydro electric power to much of the southwest.

Glen Canyon
Below the dam, the river runs clear and the deepest blue green shade you ever saw in nature. Prior to the dam being built, the river would have run red or brown due to all the desert sediments in the water. Now, this section of the river runs clear and doesn't pick up sediment until Lee's Ferry where the Pariah River runs into it.

San Francisco Peaks
Jessie and I made a stop at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. From the meadow on the west side, this view of the San Francisco Peaks provides a glimpse of the extent of fire scared hillsides, signs of devastation from the Shultz Fire back in June.

Sunset Crater Volcano
Here a view of Sunset Crater Volcano and another smaller cinder cone. On the south side of the cones, the black cinders heat up preventing much vegetation from taking root. The cinders also drain away any rain that falls, so it may be centuries before plant life begins to take hold.

Wukoki Pueblo
The road through Sunset Crater leads on into Wupatki National Monument. Here, the ruins of thousand year old pueblos dot the landscape. The three story tower of Wukoki Pueblo rides a sandstone outcropping like a ship in the desert. It's intriguing to think about what life must have been like in this land of little water.

Desert Flowers
As always, I am intrigued by the small things of the desert like this plant with it's tiny flowers hanging below sparsely leaved branches.

Wupatki Sunflowers
At the Wupatki Visitor Center, there is a demonstration garden filled with amaranth, corn and sunflowers as the original inhabitants might have grown.

Little Colorado River Gorge
Driving across the rising plateau to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the sheer cliffs of the Little Colorado River Gorge cut across in a serpentine pattern. The light and shadows of the lowering sun accent the edges and make one realize what a chasm this is in the surrounding land. For me, the narrow and vertical nature of this gorge is more spectacular than the grandiose erosion of the Grand Canyon.

Painting at Desert View Tower
At the Desert Tower overlook, a modern day Hopi artist painted images on the tower walls. This view is on the ceiling of the lower floor and always intrigues me. Such a pleasant face, though I must plead ignorance as to it's meaning.

Grand Canyon Layers
We enjoyed watching the sunset from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It's at this time of day that the layers and depth of the canyon become most apparent.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon
The colors of sunset burst into vivid shades of gold and purple right as the sun sets over the canyon walls.
I must admit that I would have enjoyed this view much more if it weren't for the fools climbing over the guard rails to perch out on the edge of the rocks. But it was the mother with two tiny children in hand walking out to stand on the edge of an overhang, well past the guard railing that will remain imprinted on my mind on this trip! They apparently don't hear the stories that we do in Flagstaff of people falling 75 feet or more, ending up with life changing injuries or dying from said injuries. A stumble or gust of wind can irrevocably alter the situation out on the unstable rocks of the canyon rim. No view or photograph is worth that risk in my mind.


A Day in Zion

Desert Bighorn in Zion, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Jessie and I had a lovely day in Zion National Park. One of our first sights of the day was this herd of Desert Bighorn! It's always a thrill to me to see these!

River Walk 1
We spent the morning hiking the River Walk trail back to the narrows. It's a lovely walk, not too strenuous, and the views of the rock walls are spectacular!

A Tree Grows in Zion
All throughout Zion, trees and other plant life grows in seemingly impossible places, like this small tree growing right out of the rock.

Columbine 1
On this visit, the columbine were in bloom.

Columbine Duo
They were so beautiful, that I couldn't resist sharing a couple photos of them!

Wild Datura
We were there early enough in the day to enjoy the blooms of the Datura also known as Moon Flower because it blooms at night and withers by mid-day.

Squirrel in Zion
The Squirrels were out too. They seemed to be enjoying the views as much as we were!

River Walk 2
The contrast of reds, blacks and greens in the canyon were spectacular! The vertical rock walls soaring up from the canyon bottom are awe inspiring!

Hanging Gardens in Zion
The hanging gardens along the trail are amazing, yet so many people sped by them, not taking time to enjoy their beauty. Jessie and I spent a lot of time observing the plants, the steady flow of water down the rock surface and just enjoying the beauty.

Hanging Garden plants
I've always loved Maidenhair Ferns and the ones hanging from the rock walls in Zion have to be some of the most beautiful I've ever seen!

By lunchtime, we were ready for a rest. The shaded terrace of the restaurant at Zion Lodge was just the thing!

Great White Throne
After lunch, we hiked down a portion of the road where the shuttles don't stop in order to take in a better view of the rock tower known as the Great White Throne. While there, we spent a bit of time talking with one of the park's wildlife biologist who was observing one of the Peregrine Falcon nests on the rock wall above us!

Folded Dunes
Late in the day, the lowering sun made the rocks glow. I am intrigued by how the folds and layers of sand have been captured in the stone of these petrified dunes on the east side of Zion.

Thunderbird Restaurant
At the end of the day, we stopped at the Thunderbird Restaurant on the road between Zion and Kanab for dinner. In between each of the beautiful hanging flower baskets was a hummingbird feeder attended by swarms of hummingbirds! Should I have the opportunity to stop here again, I'll just order the apple pie with hot buttered rum sauce for dinner! It was yummy!


Across the Kaibab Plateau

Navaho Bridge
While my daughter is here, we are taking advantage of my days off to see some of the southwest. Our first stop on this journey was at Navaho Bridge across the red Colorado River. Our timing was perfect as we were also able to watch two California Condors soaring the air currents at the canyon's edge!

Lee's Ferry
Lee's Ferry is the main site for launching river rafts on the Colorado River. It was pretty quiet while we were there so we just enjoyed the views of the quiet river and the myriad colors of the landscape!

Paria River confluence
A little further down the river, where the Paria River joins the Colorado, the influx of red sediment made quite a contrast with the deep blue greens of the water. Navaho Bridge is actually downriver from this site, so the red color we saw there was created almost entirely from Paria River sediment.

Frog w red spots
One of the little delights we saw were hundreds of these tiny red spotted frogs as well as little brown toads. Most of them were no more than an inch long, some only 3/8" long! I've never seen so many little frogs and toads in one area. Everywhere we looked they were hopping around, moving from clump to clump of grass, hiding under rocks and generally trying to get away from us. They were hard to photograph as they moved so quickly!

Rock Lifting
At the little settlement of Cliff Dwelling, enormous boulders perch on columns of rock. Jessie and I had fun taking pictures of her "lifting" the rocks!

Vermillion Cliffs
The Vermillion Cliffs border the north side of House Rock Valley from Lee's Ferry to the Kaibab Plateau. As so often happens in northern Arizona, the monsoon rains of late July and August have turned the landscape green. It's an expansive view that as my daughter says, "Makes one feel insignificant."

Forest after 2006 fire
As we drove down the highway toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon, we were stunned at the extent of devastation from the fires in 2006. For 7 miles, the forest is nothing but barren spires of fire scarred trees. There is hope though. The shrubby growth in the foreground is composed primarily of small aspens, shoots from the underground root system that survived the fires. In a few years, there will be massive aspen groves along this road! It's a good reminder that forests, like the rest of us, are always in progress, that things continuously change and that even devastation of this magnitude can be overcome.

Forest without fire
Before the fire, the woods looked like this. Lush pines of several varieties and mature aspen trees. So lovely! I find it reassuring that in time, even the fire ravaged areas will look like this once again.

The view from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is spectacular. I must say that I think it is more beautiful than from the south side. On the horizon, you can see the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff well over 70 miles away.

We spent a little bit of time sitting on the patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge enjoying the view. What a lovely spot! I'd love to be able to spend a few days here just sitting and absorbing the view.

A short walk along the rim to Bright Angel Point revealed beauties such as these interesting blossoms. I am fascinated by the feathers they produce!

Wildflower Meadow
On the drive back, we took time to enjoy the broad meadows and wildflowers.

This aspen grove acts as a nursery for young fir and spruce trees. How I would have loved to sit there for hours, listening to the birds and enjoying the dappled light. Such a serene place.

Sunset 8Aug10
Eventually we made our way off the Kaibab plateau and headed down the road to Kanab, Utah. The setting sun behind the clouds was magnificent. A perfect way to end a lovely day!