CQJP Block for March

Working on this block (my March entry in the CQJP 2015) has been like working with sunshine ~ especially since the past two weeks have felt a bit more like what I imagine Portland or Seattle to be like!  The warm, bright colors have truly been a lift to my spirits on so many dark grey days! 

Here's a little tour around the block.  In the lower left, I couched some sunny silk chenille with green thread and added some blue and pink flowers.  Feather stitching and french knots fills the rest of the block. 

In the upper portion of the block I added these golden flowers with bullion stitched receptacles and back split stitch stems. 

It seems that I'm adding a bit of rickrack to every block.  This one got a bit of bright green rickrack, toned down by adding some darker green stitching and pink beads and french knots. 

This is one of my favorite seams ~ one I'll have to repeat where it can better be viewed.  Love the effect of the little cast on flowers.  

Had to have a nice feather stitch seam and so I used this one that's become a favorite of mine.  I've used it on several projects! 

I love making spider web roses with embroidery floss, especially a nice variegated one!  Tiny turquoise beads add a dash of blue.  

On an ugly green/gold patch, I used some silk ribbon flowers to liven it up and bring the block into balance with the other blocks I've stitched so far.  

In one corner, I added some swags of french knots accented by a large green bead.

Found a spot to use some of those square beads!  Love the sparkle and dimension that they add to this chain stitched seam! 

Buttonhole flowers and beaded leaves create this floral spray.

My favorite part of the block!

And my least favorite part of the block.  If I hadn't stitched that woven chenille down so thoroughly, I'd probably rip this corner out and do it all over again.  I like the cast on scallops, but the rest of the chevron stitching was too large and the thread color gets lost in the fabric.  When looking at the block as a whole, it does work though, so I've decided to leave it as is. 

Finally getting those bullion stitches down!  So happy with this part of the block!

Here are my three blocks for the CQJP 2015 together.  So far, I think they are balancing out with one another ok.  I'm starting to think about how I will be putting the blocks all together at the end of the year.  Debating some pink/yellow batik fabric for sashing between them! 


Of Stitching and Birds


Last night, I finished the last of my round robin blocks for the year!  This one was for Connie E in the Mini DYB Round Robin.  Her lovely little blocks were just 2 ½"x3 ½"!  She plans to make a little book out of them and the inspiration photos were lovely, so I can't wait to see these come together!  Connie asked for the stitching to be white/cream/ecru with one other color used sparingly for accent and provided a number of color swatches for inspiration.  I was so glad to see that green was still available!  It's not often that I get to work my favorite color scheme in a round robin!  I love how the block turned out and hope that Connie likes it too!  

I've actually been considering a project like this using white fabrics and lace with green stitching for some time.  I love how this turned out, so think I may have to bump that project up on the list!  If only there were more hours in a day and more days in a week that were available to stitch on all the projects I want to do! 

Also in the last week or so, I finished the last of the Steam Punk Round Robin blocks.  This one for Wilma in the Netherlands!  I loved the key fabric she based her blocks around and so had to add a couple of keys and a escutcheon plate.  She asked for stitching to be done in the colors on the blocks.  It turned out well and I hope she's happy with it! 

Smocked Baby Bonnet 
It has been a long time since I did any smocking, but a favorite co-worker of mine was having a baby girl and I got inspired to make her a tiny bonnet!  When my daughter was little, I made many smocked dresses for her and for my niece along with smocked bonnets for all the baby girls I knew, so it was great fun to revisit the art!  

Great Tailed Grackle
I've also been having fun birding!  On the morning after my last work shift each week, I've been stopping various places to bird watch.  My current favorite spot is a marshy area south of a reservoir near LaSalle, Colorado.  There I've been able to see many species of birds that I've never seen before, such as White Faced Ibis, Whimbrels and more.  The weather hasn't been conducive to good photos, but I did manage to get this shot of a Great Tailed Grackle sitting on a fence post.  The grey sky sure provided a backdrop that allowed him to show to greatest advantage!  Such a funny face they have when looking straight on!  

Bullock's Oriole
Another morning, I stopped by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge again, specifically to see if the orioles had arrived!  I'd seen the nests hanging from the trees all winter long.  I was rewarded with several views of them!  Such brilliant and beautiful birds!  They like to stay high in the trees though, so all the photos I was able to take were from below.  

At home the bird feeders have been filled to the brim with birds (and squirrels!) and a new visitor to my yard!  The first time I saw this beauty of a bird, I couldn't believe it!  It's a Lazuli Bunting and though I've seen them in the bird book, I'd never seen one in life before!  Both he and his wife have been visiting for days now and I suspect they have a nest nearby.  Such a joy to have them! 

The other spot of blue coming to the feeders is this Eastern Blue Jay!  Lovely birds, if a bit of a bully with the other birds.

The color continues with the brilliant reds and oranges of the House Finches!

2015.05.14American Goldfinch
There are a few American Goldfinches as well!  Love to see them as they aren't terribly common birds in our area!  

Then there is the Red Breasted Nuthatch that comes in to grab his seed and go.  Such busy little birds!  

There are House Sparrows that nest in the birdhouse on the patio.  They are already on their second brood of the year!  Last year I think they raised at least three or four nest-fulls!

Usually I have a pair of Eurasion Collared Doves that hangs around all day.  Lately, they've been joined by a pair of Mourning Doves!  

Lazuli Bunting
I still can't get over the Lazuli Buntings!  Such a treat to have them, along with all of the other lovely birds that come to visit!  All the twittering and activity at the feeders just makes my heart sing! 


East Coast Trip ~ Part 2: The Slow Stitching Retreat

Lambertville Station Inn
The second phase of my east coast trip ~ and the primary reason for the entire trip to begin with ~ was to attend the Slow Stitching Movement Retreat in Lambertville, New Jersey!  Jill, who was also attending, picked me up from my cousin's house on Tuesday morning and we made the lovely drive to Lambertville, chatting like old friends!  That's one of the things I love about stitchers and quilters ~ they are so easy to get to know! 

The Lambertville Station Inn where the retreat was held, was situated right on the Delaware River, just a few miles upstream from where Washington crossed the Delaware!  Beautiful spot and a truly lovely Inn! 

Delaware River
The views from the room where we spent most of our time had a beautiful view of the river and of the bridge across it to New Hope, Pennsylvania.  

Magnolia / Tulip Tree
Spring was coming on strong and the tulip (magnolia) trees were bursting into bloom!  So gorgeous! 

Delaware Raritan Canal
On the first afternoon, there was a walking tour though Lambertville with a tour guide from the Historical Society.  It was a lovely look at the town! The Delaware Raritan Canal runs through it with a walking path alongside.  I'd have loved to take a walk along it, but unfortunately, after this first afternoon there, the weather turned quite chilly and rainy ~ not very good walking weather! 


All over Lambertville, the trees were bursting into bloom!  So gorgeous!

Those beautiful pale pink blossoms have to be the epitome of springtime beauty!

Slow Stitching Block
Each morning, there were Slow Stitching exercises.  Writing daily pages in the early morning ala Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) and then a time of slow stitching.  Each day the focus was a bit different, but the idea was to truly focus on our stitching, to work meditatively, to be really aware and involved in the process.  

We had been told to bring 24 strips each of light and dark fabrics that were 1½" wide by the fabric width, and to use only fabrics from our stash.  For me, this turned out to be quite a challenge as I almost never buy fabric yardage anymore, usually purchasing fat quarters.  Eventually, I came up with just enough strips.  During our slow stitching exercises, we used them to create simple Log Cabin blocks.  I look forward to completing more blocks to finish using up all the strips that I cut.  I'm also thinking about combining them somehow with some crazy quilting.  I'm really happy with the blue and green themed fabrics that I used! 

That's Mark Lipinski in the turquoise shirt.  He made the rounds of the room throughout each day, giving encouragement, making us all laugh, and generally inspiring each one of us! Those black and white bags you see on the tables were our goodie bags that he engineered, filled to overflowing with all manner of things from fabric, a mug, various sewing supplies, a book, patterns, quilt batting,  etc.

Allie Aller Teaching
Each day there were workshops that we could attend if we wanted to to.  Allie Aller taught two different workshops.  Here she is teaching about combining decorative machine stitching with had stitching to create lovely crazy quilt seams!  

Composite Flower
I took her class on creating composite flowers using lace, trims and miscellaneous silk flower petals.  As you can see, I really had fun with this!  

Crazy Quilters at the Slow Stitching Retreat
Allie and I weren't the only crazy quilters present!  It was lovely to meet these lovely ladies and see their exquisite work in person!  (front row) Lydia Aguayo Talton, Arlene Delloro, (back row) Jocelyn Ausseil, Mary Anne Polovich Griffin, Elaine Larason, Allie Aller and myself.

Mark Lipinski & company discovering my work
As Mark made the rounds of the room with his entourage, they reached my quiet corner of the room! The response to my work was truly amazing (and to tell the truth a bit overwhelming!)  Allie captured a few photos of the moment for me!  

Mark Lipinski discovering my work!
Truthfully, I was a bit awed and amazed by everyone's reaction to seeing my work!


Normally, I'm pretty quiet, usually looking for a corner out of the central hubbub of things!  Here I am working on one of the slow stitching exercises!

Showing one of my pincushions

One evening, we had show and tell.  I brought my cream and white quilt to show along with two of my pincushions.  

Me sketching

I also found a few moments one morning to do a watercolor sketch of the river outside the window!  Once again, Mark found me and brought it to everyone's attention and took these photos!  

Sketch of the View out the window

My little sketch in progress!

Slow Stitching Retreat participants
Ireat because I really wanted to meet Allie and it seemed like a great opportunity!  Not only did I get to spend three lovely days stitching next to Allie and taking her workshop, I got to meet so many other terrific women and Mark ~ amazing stitchers and quilters all!  It was a wonderful 3 ½ days!


CQJP 2015 - February's Block

At long last, I finally finished my February block for the CQJP 2015!  Between many projects for other people, working on my first CQ class curriculum and sample, articles, and round robins, I didn't have much chance to stitch on my own projects for the past three months.  How good it is to finally be finding some time for my own projects!  


It took a bit of work, but the block balances well with the first block.  I learned some good lessons along the way.  Namely, that the bright pink rick-rack was probably a bit strong for this block.  I wish I'd realized it in time to remove it before I'd done so much stitching over it that it was next to impossible to remove.  

I also learned that when working with bright colors, the balance of color value is very important when looking at the block as a whole.  When I first stitched the seam of pink lazy daisy flowers, I realized it was far too light for the block and so added a deeper pink in the center of some of the petals.  It wasn't nearly enough and it made the whole block fade into a medium value that had no interest. 

I went back and added a deeper pink shade and finally the seam balanced well with the rest of the block and brought the block to life! 

As on the first block, I really looked for ways to extend seam treatments into the rest of the block to give it an overall tapestry kind of look. 

I played with brighter colors on this block to offset that rick-rack.

More Mokuba ribbon flowers and I tried out some other blossom types that I had not made before.  Some little blue glass flower beads added just the right accent.  Now I'm anxious to move on to block number three and to get started on my second set of blocks, which I think I'm going to turn into my basket quilt! 

I also finished up another Steampunk round robin block.  This one for Colleen.  One more block to go for Wilma and this round robin is complete!

Even with all the stitching, I found a little time to play in the garden!  I made a stop at a thrift store/flea market and found the sweet bunny, which goes perfectly in the big iron cauldron!  Some purple pansies will be accented with some other flowers as the season warms.  Still a risk of frost or snow here for a few more weeks!  We've been enjoying some rain in the meantime!