A Beaded Seahorse

Yesterday, I finished this beaded seahorse!  I'm pleased with how he turned out!  It was fun to finally be able to use these great vintage sequins and the little itty bitty pearls that have been in my stash for ages.  

Here is the whole block.  It is the last block in a set of round robin blocks that I sent out way back when.  They've been languishing  in my "to do" basket ever since.  It's good to have finished yet another of my unfinished pile!  Well, not quite... I still need to put them all together. 

When finished, they will be an accordion book, laid out like this.

I've also been catching up on the Joyful Embellishment stitches after a busy work week that involved and extra day at the hospital for some skills training.  This is Feather Stitch #13, Perpendicular feather where the feathers are worked perpendicular to the seam and laid parallel to one another.  A perfect filling stitch for a small corner of February's CQJP 2015 block! 

Feather Stitch #14 is a stacked or layered feather stitch.  I've done this on a small under the sea project from my unfinished basket.  It looks like netting or if I had done the colors differently, it could have been water ripples and waves. 


Feather Stitch #15 is simply feather stitch and lazy daisies all done in silk ribbon.  I like the pattern of doing the lazy daisies in groups of three, which adds a bit of asymmetric interest.

Yesterday, I also had the joy of joining the Colorado Crazy Quilter's group that meets on the 4th Saturday of every month at The Stitching Shop in Denver!  Lovely group of ladies who are doing some gorgeous work!  I hope to be able to go again! 

This coming week involves 5 drives to Denver for work related things, so there won't be much time for stitching sadly.  So far, I'm close to on track with all that I had hoped to complete this month.  I've finished the January block for CQJP 2015, completed a Steampunk and a Mini DYB round robin block, completed the seashell unfinished block from my WIP basket and with the Joyful Embellishments stitches, have finished about half of the brown/cream bell-pull/runner!  In addition, I've been working on another block that is nearing completion, though I can't share it at this time.  I haven't been able to do one of the shaded green or linen blocks though.  Hope to be able to finish one of them in February!  Feels good to know that I've been able to accomplish so much this month!  Hope I can keep it up! 


Lace Stash Fun

A good part of my Lace stash is stored on acid free mat board cards in nice storage shoeboxes, but I also have a large basket of miscellaneous lace that I have picked up here and there.  I watch for bags of inexpensive lace trims at the thrift and antique stores.  While most of them have too much polyester lace in them, I bypass those and wait until I find a bag that contains mostly crocheted lace or other handmade type laces.  Those are the ones I buy, usually for just a few dollars.  I don't worry about small pieces or things that have been trimmed from something else as often, for crazy quilting, I just want a small bit anyway.  When I get home, I just dump them into the basket.  Then, as I'm creating blocks, I simply dig through until I find something that I think will work.  

My Mom's kitty, Kitzy Cat, has some neurologic issues and periodically has seizures.  This past week, she had one that caused her to roll off the chair she was sitting on and into the lace basket.  Whereupon, she also coughed up few dinner remnants and had some trouble controlling her bladder.  She was fine (she had a nice soft landing after all!), but the lace basket... well, suffice it to say that it needed help!  

I spent a good part of the weekend washing lace, pressing some of it, and getting things organized.  It turned out to be quite a lot of lace!  And as I sorted and cleaned it all, I realized that I had no idea what was in that basket for the most part!  

Though I got most of the lace organized and pressed, there is still a pile of narrow lace trims to finish up.

I hadn't realized just how many little lace medallions of all sorts that were in the basket!

Nor had I realized how many hand-dyed lace pieces I had.  Some are ones that I dyed, and others have been gifted to me or are ones that I purchased here and there.  I rarely add colored lace to my CQ blocks, but I can see quite a few in here that I might use on some of my current projects!

There was a nice bit of tatted lace, which is always among my favorite of all types of lace.  Maybe that's because my Aunt Lois made such beautiful tatted lace and because I learned to tat from her.  I have a huge appreciation for how difficult it is to get every one of those tiny knots done perfectly!  While my Aunt Lois was able to tat enormous intricate doilies, I have a hard time getting 6 inches of simple, usable trim! 

A few of the pieces of tatting are pretty big and chunky and stained with time, while others are exceptionally dainty and perfect. 


Among the crocheted lace was several pieces of this lovely Irish crochet.  Just gorgeous! I used a bit of this on one of the Advent pincushions.

There were lots of lovely machine made lace pieces as well!

How about this delicate beauty?  I believe this is probably a handmade lace that is maybe a combination of bobbin and needle-woven.  There are two short pieces of this, one badly stained, and this one, in fairly decent shape. 

I love this beauty.  Again, a combo of bobbin and needle woven lace.

While the netting is machine made on this piece of lace, the embroidery appears to be all hand done.  It's astonishing really, to think about the sheer quantity of handmade lace that is out there.  It boggles the mind to think about the number of hours that must have gone into creating yard after yard of lace.  

I love this crocheted one with its seashell like pattern.

Then there is this piece of machine embroidered on organdy lace.  based on the pattern of "stain" on each petal, I think that it must have had some painted on accent at one time. 

I love this old Victorian era trim.  There are several pieces, some in better condition than others.  At one time, I had a doily that incorporated a similar trim .  

There are also several pieces of eyelet lace.  Most of these are much older and the embroidery portions are SO much nicer than what you find on today's cotton/polyester eyelet trims.  The one with the leaves appears to be all hand embroidered!

At the bottom of the basket was a pile of black lace and some gold trims.  most of this is fairly modern.  I have a project that I need some black lace for and I had forgotten that I had this, so it will be great to use what I have instead of needing to buy new! 

I need to get some more acid free mat board to cut more cards to store some of these laces on.  They deserve to be better treated than tangled together in a basket!  None of my Crazy Quilt projects this year have lace on them, but after going through all of these beauties, I realize that I need to work on a project to incorporate many of them in the future! 


All this lace cleaning and organizing took place in the little laundry area between my kitchen and the garage,  It's usually an area that I just pass through.  The cats get fed on this plant stand, but I rarely have time to just enjoy this lovely bright corner of my house.  

The little African Violets are blooming non-stop!  I've had the violet in the center since shortly after our housefire in 1999.  It has bloomed and grown considerably and the violets to either side are off-shoots that I've repotted.  Looks like its time to divide them again!  


I've done a couple more seams on my Joyful Embellishment's project.  I originally stitched seam #1 on Lonna's SteamPunk block, but decided I wanted to have it on this project as well.  I liked how it looked with the lazy daisies drooping down, so I repeated that.  


Feather Stitch #11 is yet another variation that I have never tried before.  I added some Fargo roses to it.  I love how each one comes out differently, even though it seems like I do exactly the same thing each time I make one! 

I counted how many seams are left to embellish on this bell-pull/runner.  There are 22, which is more than enough to finish out the month of feather stitches that Valerie is doing!  I'll wait to see what February's stitches are before deciding if I want to continue using this piece for those.  If not, then I'll probably continue with some feather stitch variations of my own.  


The Importance of Patience


Last night, I was so excited about finishing my block that I went ahead and took photos of it in the bright artificial light that supposedly is daylight balanced.  This morning, I went back to take some additional photos and when I compared them, the difference is obvious!   I need to learn to be patient and wait for better light to photograph in! 

I also noted this morning, that having the iron on tricot backing on the blocks prevents them from being blocked as well as I would like and in the open spaces, the fabric wrinkles and I'm not able to block it out.  It's something I need to watch when leaving larger open areas without stitching.  I definitely prefer stitching without it.  Just my personal preference, but a note I thought I'd share. I do like the added stiffness of the finished block, so for future use, I think I'll wait to add the tricot until I've finished stitching and blocking.  Since I pre-made all my blocks for this year, I'll have to work around it for now.

One of the things I mentioned last post about this block is how I wanted it to be able to be viewed from any direction.  So here is a mosaic of the block rotated in different directions.  I'm so pleased with how the block works in all directions, though the lower right is my least favorite direction. 

About that seam of carrots... I added a pink bead to the top of each one.  Voila!  Carrots no longer!  It's another spot where a bit of patience was called for.  Rather than hurrying to finish and not being happy with it, it's better to wait and let things marinate in the mind before calling something done!  I'm so much happier with this seam now. 


A close up of the flower patch with correct color.  I really love this patch and it is something I hope to copy over to every other block in my CQJP 2015 project, though the flowers will vary from block to block! 

Feather Stitch #7 for Joyful Embellishments!  


CQJP 2015 - January Block

Once this block started coming together, it went very quickly!  Getting that lower right corner of flowers done was the turning point.  It helped me think beyond the seam, to realize that I didn't have to focus on seam-work, but rather simply on filling the block, that stitches could have their origin away from the seam.  

When I hit midpoint on this block, all of a sudden the block was overwhelming and I felt like I had lost my way with it.  The colors were suddenly intimidating as much as what to do next.  That central button motif wasn't helping as the colors of the leaves ended up being too pale.  So many of you provided great encouragement and I decided to leave it after all.  

Now, I think this January block is done.  I've left just a little blank space as the eye needs a place to rest now and then.  The space will also give me room to place elements that border the joining seams later should I choose to do so.  

One of the things I wanted to do on this block is to have it work well when viewed from different directions.  For the most part, I think I succeeded!  I'm so happy with the floral patch.  Oyster stitch made perfect little tulip blossoms along the rick-rac.  

The central button motif got enlarged and some fern like leaves added in a medium variegated green.  Instead of using the ribbon flowers separately, I moved them around the button.  To fill in the soft yellow patch, I added a feather stitched branch of leaves and bead flowers. 

If there is a seam I'm not entirely happy with, it is the lower chevron seam.  Those orange bullion flowers look a little too much like carrots to me!  I may go back and add a pink bead at the top of each one.  I also wish I'd used a couple different colors in the leaves. 

The upper right corner has one of those slightly bare spots.  I may add a bee here later, or allow a motif to spread across to this area once I join blocks down the road.  

I love the pattern of embroidery on the gold patch.  It's one I spotted somewhere and jotted down in my idea book, though I have made minor variations to it.
As I get more and more near sighted as the years pass, my field of focus narrows, just like in this photograph!  I find that my eyes get tired more quickly when working on these bright colors, which makes me wonder if that's way I tend to go for the soft quiet colors most of the time.  

I'm looking forward to getting started on February's block, though I'm going to take a little break and work on something completely different for the next couple of weeks.  I won't be able to share it just yet, so I may not be posting quite as much for the next couple weeks.  

It's Monday, so there was a new seam at Joyful Embellishments to stitch!  This one an alternating curved feather stitch with three colors of beads.  I'm really enjoying having a new stitch to do each day, with no decisions other than what thread and beads to use! At this rate, it won't be long and this runner/bell-pull will be finished! 



Just one photo today! The beautiful threads from Lorraine at Colour Compliments are the perfect complement to the Caron Wildflower and DMC threads I already had.  With them all together, I think I found my stitching mojo for the January CQJP 2015 block!  This is the direction I want to go!  I want the block to become an embroidered tapestry with lots of interest, texture, and color.   Up until now, I've been feeling pretty intimidated by the bright colors, but today they feel good!  And a perfect antidote to the dreary grey day outside. 

Now if I can just keep it going for all twelve blocks.   


Mini DYB for Connie K

The second round robin that I am in right now is a "Mini DYB" (do your block).  Our blocks were to be a maximum of 3 1/2" square or equivalent amount of square inches in another shape.  Connie K chose to do small rounds, which will get folded in half and used to complete a bunting for her Christmas tree!  

Working on something tiny does make one rethink how to maximize impact and Connie asked for a central motif on each half.  I found that I wanted the seams to be the same on each side of the motif rather than changing things up.  

The holly leaves were created using 7mm silk ribbon and adding stitches over the top.

The other side has a Star Stitch star and a little seam of pine trees.

I had never done this stitch before and must say that I will do many more to come!  Just love the way it turned out!  Can't wait to see what everyone else does with their blocks!  

I also finished the last seam of the week for the Joyful Embellishments group.  This feather stitch variation is known as Maidenhair.  It's another stitch that is new to me, but I can see many creative potentials for it! 

This week also saw a little bit of stash enhancement!  I was lacking a good variety of threads for my CQJP 2015 blocks, so when I saw these luscious beauties at Color Complements, I had to get some of them!  They are going to go perfectly and I'm motivated to get stitching on the January block again! 


Steampunk Block for Lonna

At the CQI retreat in September, we started a Steampunk Round Robin with a few of the participants.  

Jessie in Steampunk
My daughter is crazy into Steampunk and is very involved with a Colorado Steampunk group that visits fun destinations like the Railroad Museum in costume, puts on a weekly cable radio drama, and puts on a growing annual convention known as Anomaly Con.   I knew I wanted to do a wall hanging for her, and this was a perfect opportunity!  

Lonna chose some lovely warm Victorian colors for her blocks and it wasn't hard to choose one!  Jessie generously made available to me, her extensive collection of Steampunk paraphernalia that she uses to create jewelry and costumes from.  What fun to include some of them on Lonna's block!    

I  kept most of the seam treatments fairly simple as both the theme and the block seemed to want more traditional Victorian style seams.

I've had a photo of a smocked silk fan in my idea folder for a very long time and as I was thinking about what to add to this block, it came to mind and so I searched out the creator.  Her blog Tinctory is no longer active and sadly, she is not currently doing any stitching/smocking, but her blog is well worth perusing for inspiration!  I created my own version of one of her fans using some ombre ribbon from my stash and using a brass nut for the handle.  The tassel was made with rayon floss. 

Some black lace accented with brassy toned beads worked very well on this block, as well as the copper toned key charm.

Lonna asked for flowers to be included on her blocks, even though they aren't typical in a Steampunk theme.  I had a lovely brass button that I backed with a yo-yo in a black/brown fabric and added a row of golden toned Fargo roses. 

The gears came from my daughter's stash.  Some are new, but the large brass gear is out of some old clock. 

I am the first to work on Lonna's blocks, so I hope that I've gotten them off to a good start for everyone else to come.  The blue fabrics are not nearly as bright as the camera makes them appear!

I joined Valerie Bothell's Joyful Embellishments group on Facebook.  She is posting 5 seam treatments a week for us to re-create.   This month, the focus is on variations of the feather stitch.  I did the first one on Lonna's block.  To make the lazy daisies stand out on both fabrics, I used a double strands of thread to make them pop.  I also turned the daisies facing down instead of facing up as was shown.  It worked perfectly on this block!  

Most of my "Joyful Embellishments" stitches will be done on the taupe runner/bell-pull.  It will be a great way to get this large piece stitched up by the end of the year! 

Seam #2 was a curved feather stitch with lazy daisies.  I used a variegated Valdani perle cotton for the feather stitch and DMC pearl cotton for the lazy daisies.  I must say that I really love the subtle variation in the Valdani threads.  Their mostly muted colors work really well in my serene world!

Seam #3 is a feather stitch with lazy daisies in both thread and silk ribbon embroider and some french knots.  

Seam #4 is Triple (aka double in some books) feather stitch with silk ribbon lazy daisies and beading.  I have these great vintage green bugle beads that I used here and the little bronze seed beads are from a disintegrated Victorian era beaded purse.  

I am loving stitching in these soothing colors after working on my CQJP block!  Though I'll be back to that block very soon!  I'm glad that I lined up a mix of projects to work on so that the bright blocks don't get too overwhelming and keep me from stitching!