CQJP 2014 - June Pincushion

2014.08.28CQJP2014JunePC02Even though it is now the end of August, I've just finished my entry for the June Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2014.

Wedding Pin Cushion WIP
I'd forgotten that I had made this block in blue and white, originally thinking it would be for my daughter's wedding.  But then I decided to make the all white pincushion and do blue embroidery on it for that.  So this block was still here to be worked on.

I didn't want to do another blue and white pincushion so soon after the last, so I decided to do blue and yellow instead.  There were a lot of seams for this pincushion so I thought I'd share what it looked like before I shaped it into the pincushion. 


In some of the sewing stuff I kept of my Mom's, I found the tiny yellow rick rack.  Perfect for this pincushion!  I also stitched some cast on flowers and played with oyster stitch.  

Beaded lazy daisy's and some flower sequins embellish this seam.

Another view of more seams.

I also played with a beaded outline stitch on this pincushion.  On the right you can see a buttonhole stitched cabled chain ~ a stitch I just love! 

Some time ago, I purchased a good length of this wonderful blue silk ribbon.  Perfect to make some morning glories to top this pincushion! 

It's a lovely pincushion and I think it is my favorite of all that I've done so far!

The morning glories were inspired by the ones blooming in my garden right now!


Hearts & Flowers for Barbara

Some blocks are easier to work on than others and Barbara's block for the Hearts DYB Round Robin was one of those!  It was a joy to stitch and just seemed to flow effortlessly from my needles!  Barbara chose a theme of hearts and flowers and asked for the heart to be outlined with either black lace or stitching and for the rest of the block to be embellished with flowers.  

I chose this block because I loved the heart in mauve and sunset tones and the lovely mix of ivory fabrics the Barbara pieced the background with.  Because I was running so far behind on this round robin, I sent the other blocks ahead and unfortunately don't have a photo of all the blocks together.  

My first step was the black stitching around the heart.  I love this pattern for the way it goes around curves and how easy it is to adjust in the corners.  Plus it has a lovely lacy look to it!  

When I thought about embellishing the rest of the block with flowers, all I could think of was my flower gardens and all the lovely clumps of things blooming in it.  So I added a flower garden around the heart.  There are roses, echinacea and foxgloves...


Penstemons and Baby's Breath...

as well as some Carnations.  I'm so pleased with how this block came together and hope that Barbara loves it!  

I've also been running behind on the CQJP 2014, so I've pieced a couple of new pincushion blanks for that.  This seaside theme will be for July.  I originally thought of the wedding pincushion done for my Daughter's wedding as the July pincushion, but Kathy put it down as my June entry. 

August to me is the month of sunflowers.  They are blooming in my garden and I buy bouquets of them at the grocery store to brighten up the dining room, so this will be a Sunflower pincushion!  

I've also been working on a new big project.  I have several photographs that I gathered through Flickr and Pinterest that I choose because of their colors.  Turns out that most of these have a Highlands of Scotland origin, so I'm thinking of it as my "Highland Dream" ~ or maybe "Song of the Selkie".  

When choosing fabrics, I gathered two stacks.  One of silks and one of cotton batiks.  In the long run, I decided in favor of the silks, though I think I need to get some more brown in order to finish it.  

Here are the first two strips of blocks.  I'm hoping to use the many seams as a sort of stitch sampler.  There will be many more blocks to come, including some pieced on the diagonal and some that are true crazy quilt patches.  It's good to have a new long term project to work on, though I hope this one doesn't take me three years like the cream and white crazy quilt did!  


Ola's Under The Sea Block

I finished my part on Ola's Under the Sea block this morning, which means that I am now finished with this particular round robin!  Nice to get something big checked off my list!  

When Ola's block arrived, I wasn't sure at all how or where to begin with it.  The motifs had been stitched in three different orientations, making it difficult to find a way to pull it together in a cohesive whole.  

I decided to focus on seamwork as the majority of the seams had not been embellished with the exception of the lovely seagrass seam done by one of the other stitchers.  The first seam I did was the scalloped seam under Velia's whale. 

I've had this seam in my little inspiration book and have wanted to stitch it for ages.  Bullion stitches have been one of my nemesis for a long time, but I seem to have finally figured them out.  Some lovely "cameo" variegated thread (Caron Wildflower Thread) was perfect for the bullion's!  

Along the left side, I stitched a sea-weedy variation on one of my favorite feather stitch patterns.  I also stitched the blue seam above the whale.  

I used some variegated thread that picked up colors in the block to stitch a seam along the right side of the yellow brocade piece.  There is still a little room for Ola to stitch a seam and add a motif or two if she chooses!   Hope that Ola enjoys her block! 

Just a few thoughts for to add about working on round robins based on things I encountered on this one.  
~ When mailing blocks, please, please, please put the block and booklet in a plastic zip-lock bag inside the envelope to help protect the block and keep the contents together.  In this round robin I received two different blocks in badly torn up envelopes.  One was in a ziplock and came through very well despite the outer envelope damage.  The other, came through ok, but if there had been anything small in the envelope, it would have been lost.  That block was somewhat dirty, but thankfully was able to be cleaned up easily. 
~ Unless the block owner specifies working in the round or otherwise, all motifs should be done in the same orientation.  This block is a perfect example of a block that is nice but could have been fabulous if the focus wasn't so scattered.  
~ It really helps if the block owner can give some guidance as to what they would like for their block. 
~ Don't be afraid to stretch your wings and try something new!  


Slowly Catching Up...

For most of my life, I have been a night owl.  Working the nightshift was like staying up late, and I loved it.  But then, when I'd have a few days off, I began to find myself waking early.  It wasn't long before I learned to love the early morning hours.  When I took a year off from work after my Mother died, for the first time in my life, I became a morning person, rising with the sun, going to bed early and found that the early morning hours were so incredibly productive.  Those early morning hours, spent with a cup of tea, became my very favorite time of day. 

Then I had to go back to work... and the only job I could find in my field, was another night shift position.  Despite having been at this job now for a year and a half, with little hope of a day position, I find I still crave that early morning time.  There aren't many days where I really get to enjoy early mornings, unless I have a number of days off in a row, which lately hasn't happened very often.  Usually, I head to work around 5:15 p.m., arriving at work just before my shift starts around 7:00 p.m.  The shift doesn't end until I've given report to the oncoming shift ~ and it's not at all unusual that I don't get to head for home until 8 or 8:30 a.m. with an hour and a half drive in front of me.  I usually fall into bed around 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. and wake (ideally) around 4:00 p.m.  That leaves just enough time to shower, grab something to eat and head out the door.  On my first day off, it's not unusual to sleep the entire day, wake for just a couple of hours and head to bed again.  If I have just two days off, which seems to be the case lately, then I've lost one of them entirely to sleep and the second one is spent doing regular household chores and preparing for the next round of work.  

How glad I am that this week, I have four days off!  It has meant that at long last, I've finally had a chance to sit and stitch and begin the process of trying to catch up on Round Robins that I'm woefully behind on.  It also means that I've had a couple of mornings in which to enjoy that early morning cup of tea that I enjoy so very much! 

In stitching, my first order of business is to catch up and finish the Under the Sea round robin that I am in.  My block has already returned to me, but I am months behind on getting two blocks finished and mailed.  For Shelly's block, I embroidered a sea gull and added a lacy bit of froth to the horizon line.  

I also added some embellishment to the mermaid ~ enhancing both her hair and tail.  Now the block is off to Ola to put her finishing touches on it before it heads home to Shelly.  

In the Hearts Round Robin, I'm also somewhat behind, but wanted to get Alexandra's block finished and mailed to Renee so it doesn't get too far behind.  Alexandra asked for primarily embroidery, so I followed suit to what the two stitchers prior to me did and just used thread for the seam work and motifs.  

Since it's a Hearts round robin and the block doesn't have any hearts on it to start with, I added some in the seams I did.  

I really love this seam!  It is one I modified from one I saw in someone else's work ~ I wish I could remember who it was now!  

Since the other two blocks had lovely embroidered heart wreaths on them, I added one too.  But I miscalculated the colors and it really blends into the background.  It doesn't show up nearly as much as I would have liked it to.  

Here you can see all the blocks together.  As you can see, the blocks were quite large to begin with, so I marked out a six inch square that I embellished as did one of the other stitchers.  Looking forward to seeing what the other ladies will do with the remaining blocks!  

Next up, I have Ola's Under the Sea block to finish, a Hearts DYBlock for Barbara, and a Fan Block for Thearica.  Hoping to have all three done before I go back to work on Sunday night!  When I get another few days off, I still have blocks to do for Connie and Tahlia.   Not to mention that I'm behind on the CQJP 2014 pincushions!  With all of this to do, I'd better get back to stitching! 

But I can't leave without sharing a few photos from my garden!  Earlier in the week, I arrived home surprisingly early from work, which gave me a few precious minutes in the garden before I headed to bed.  The bees were loving the sunflowers!  Though they were all supposed to be this vanilla color, most of them ended up being the bright yellow ones, but it was this pale one that attracted all the bees! 

The roses are blooming with wild abandon!  So gorgeous!  

I'm loving the darker pink Boscobel roses on the end and the wonderfully fragrant Evelyn in front of it!  


Sketches, Stitching, and the Kitchen

Last week when my sister was here, we spent a short time in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was a lovely sunny warm day.  After she left, I decided to take advantage of my days off and spend a couple more days there.  It started raining shortly after I arrived and didn't quit until it was just time to go home!  As you saw from my previous posts, the rain didn't slow down my enjoyment of the park much, though I didn't do as much hiking as I had hoped.  Instead, I did some watercolor sketching from the car during the heaviest rain.  This sketch is of Moraine Park.  I loved how the clouds where coming down the moraine (the hills on either side of the large flat meadow) and the misty quality of the light.  

Later the same day, I spent some time at Beaver Meadows doing some birdwatching.  The colors were saturated by the moisture and the grey clouds.  Another beautiful spot!  Lots of mountain bluebirds at this location! 

Yesterday, I had a chance to pick up my needles for the first time in weeks.  First order of business was a little butterfly for Gerry K.  I'm hoping she'll find a home for it on her amazing crazy quilted jacket

Remember all those wilted flowers I had to deal with?  This is the lovely bouquet I was able to put together from the remnants! 

My daughter chose a delft theme and utilized many little things from our Dutch heritage in her wedding.  I dressed the kitchen to match, using all of our lovely delft items!   I haven't had them all out like this in years.  When we had our house fire in 1999, I had lost most of my Delft, but family members gave me many new items and when my parents passed away, I inherited most of their delft pieces.  It's a lovely collection now and looks so nice in my white kitchen! 

So many of these pieces have a story behind them.  See the plate on the far right middle shelf behind the two canister pieces?  It is the only piece of china left from my kitchen after our house fire.  The fire chief called me to come and see a strange thing.  While the fire had burned through the flooring, burned the paint and paper covering for the drywall off the walls, melted the metal doorframe and vaporized all the rest of the china and furniture in the room, this plate was still hanging in it's little brass hanger on the wall!  The plate above it and the one below it were both gone without a trace.  It was literally the only thing salvaged from the kitchen/breakfast area of the house.  Everything else was completely gone.

I've managed to gather a few delft themed dishtowels to match the china!  With them and some new blue towels and rugs, the kitchen changed from green and white to blue and white for the wedding!

At first, Jessie wanted to use this little kissing couple as the cake topper, but later decided against it.  I saw the photographer taking it to use as a photo prop, so am looking forward to seeing what they did with it!

This little white shelf resides in the entryway.  I displayed the tiny delft pieces here that didn't go very well on the kitchen shelves.  Many of these small pieces are things my parents brought back from their trip to the Netherlands several years ago when they went to meet our relatives there and do some genealogy research.  

The little delft bucket with the lid belonged to my great grandparents!  I'm not sure where the tiny black wooden shoe came from, but I know it is also old and from the family somewhere along the way.  It has been lovely having these little treasures out to enjoy once again! 


Morning in the Garden

The wedding is over.  My short vacation to the mountains is past. I got to work all my shifts this past week ~ something I haven't done in ages.  Mother/Baby nursing fluctuates more than other types of nursing, so when few babies are being born, shifts get cancelled frequently.  Between wedding stuff, vacation and work, I was so tired when I got home after my last shift yesterday morning that I slept for close to 24 hours straight! 

This morning I woke to clear blue skies filled with lovely morning sunshine and the sound of birds in the trees.  So nice to get up and have a chance to stroll around the yard with no long list of "must-get-done" chores in mind.  Just a chance to see what's blooming, pull a weed or two, refresh the bird bath with fresh water and see what is in bloom!  


The petunias in the patio beds are glorious and the roses are blooming nicely!  Not too bad for a garden that's only a month or two old! 

The Evelyn rose by the birdbath has just a couple of sweetly scented blossoms on it.  But oh!  The perfume of them is heavenly! 

Boscobel, another David Austin English Rose is blooming wonderfully!  It has lots of lovely pink blossoms ~ also lovely smelling, though not as powerful as Evelyn.  

The morning glories have reached the top of one of the tuteurs!  Hope to see blooms in the near future! The cosmos are starting bloom and the sunflowers have buds on them!   Next year these beds will be so tightly packed with flowers (if they all make it through the winter) that many will need to be moved to other spaces!  For now, it's glorious! 

I was delighted to see this fellow in the garden!  Hummingbird Moths fascinate me!

Look at that long tongue!  He flutters in one spot and moves the tongue from flower to flower with such precision! 

I had hoped the cosmos would be in bloom for the wedding, but they didn't quite make it. This week, they are just starting to bloom!  They are definitely one of my favorite summer flowers and I have so many memories of them from growing up that are associated with dear women in my life.  One of them is Mrs. Scheerer, who was an adopted grandmother for my sister and I.  She was a tiny woman, well under 5 feet tall - but she grew glorious cosmos that would tower over her!  Several times a summer, she would provide immense bouquets of flowers for church that were so beautiful!  My mother grew them as well and they were one of the first flowers I grew successfully when I started my own gardens.  

These calendulas self seeded from plants I grew last year!  Such cheerful sunny blossoms!  

Inside, I have a little flower work to do.  All the wedding flowers, which were glorious on the day of the wedding, are a little past their prime.  I need to discard all the wilted ones and remake a few bouquets of the lovely delpihineum and white phlox which seems to have amazing staying powers!  We made well over 20 bouquets for the wedding and sent many home with people, but my house is still full of bouquets!  

I also have my first opportunity to sit and stitch on round robin projects today!  Thankfully, all the round robin groups I'm in right now have been so patient with me.  Hoping to get at least two blocks completed today!  I'm going to try changing where I sit and stitch so I don't overwhelm the living room with stitching stuff so much.  We'll see how it works out.  I've missed my needles and threads so much the past few months! 

Before I go, I want to leave you with some bird photos from Rocky Mountain National Park that I took on my last day there!  I got up early and attended a birding trip led by one of the volunteer rangers in the park.  It was great to get tips and pointers as well as confirmation on what we were seeing.  This is a mountain bluebird - probably a female.  Such a lovely blue! 

I saw lots and lots of house wrens!

I'm still learning how to use the new lens, but so far, I am really happy with it!  My usual lens wouldn't have allowed me to capture this broad tailed hummingbird's feather detail at such a distance with the speed at which it moves!  

Magpies hold a special spot in my heart as when I was growing up, my Mom raised a rescued magpie that had fallen out of a nest.  For years it would answer her call when she went outside and called it.  She'd holler, "Hello Maggie!"  and Maggie would answer from her treetop down by the ditch an acre or more away in her magpie voice, "hello Maggie!" back!  She learned to say lots of things in her short time with us and was terrific at imitating my Mom yelling at my sister and I or calling the cat!  

Rocky Mountain National Park is filled with swallows along all the meadow creeks!  They swoop and soar over the meadows in large numbers.  So graceful!  And their twittering song is so happy sounding!  I caught this photo of a barn swallow at one of the restroom cabins where they had a nest under the eaves.  Such sweet birds!  

For all the elegant soaring and happy songs they make, they have faces that look a bit sorrowful though.  But still so lovely!