July CQJP Block *Update*

I kept looking at this block and it just didn't feel right to me.  At last, I realized that what was bothering me was that central pale yellow block.  It just looked too square and even in a series of blocks that had nothing square and even about them.  As you can see on the right, I made some minor changes.  

This is a composite of all the blocks before I made any changes to the July Block.  That pale yellow square (even though it's really a hexagon, it reads square to me because of that right angle of the embroidered stems)  just jumps out, demanding attention.  That would have been fine if I wanted it to be the commanding center of attention, but I didn't.  

2015. 10.30CQJP2015JulyRedoLPBoni
To make the block come in line with the rest of the blocks, I added more of the little vines and french knots to bring the block out of square and more into a random shape like the other blocks.  It was a very simple change, but it makes the block SO much better!!!

Now when you look at it, that pale yellow block doesn't demand nearly as much attention and provides a much better balance with the rest of the blocks!  I'm much happier with it now!   Now I just need to address the "bullseye" affect of the mandalla motif.  The rest of the blocks flow very well, but this one still has a few issues.  And I also see a bare sport that needs dealt with on the May block as well.  

Looking at the composite, I see that with the remaining blocks, I need to vary the orientation a little bit more to help the entire piece flow better.  I don't want the underlying pattern of the blocks to be quite so noticeable, but rather to have a slightly more random appearance.  

I've also been looking at possible fabrics to use as sashing between the blocks.  The more I look though, the more I think that there won't be sashing between them, but maybe a narrow two or three toned border.  Five more blocks to finish though, before I can truly focus on that part of this project! 


July's Block for CQJP 2015

July's block is completed!  I also have to say that it isn't one of my favorites.  I can't decide if it should be oriented this direction...

Or this way.

My critique of this block includes the following thoughts.  The two light patches are too light.  I should have used a much darker element for at least one of them.  The little dark green vine helped, but wasn't quite enough to balance with the darks on the rest of the block.  

The mandalla motif should have either been complete or left at just half and stayed within it's patch. 

The central motif has the two longest branches going off at right angles to one another.  It probably would have looked better if the angle had been wider.  

On most blocks, I don't tear much out, but I tore out at least three different seam starts on this block trying to make things work!  

This is one of my favorite seams on the block.  The darker ribbon helps balance the block.  I had to add the little flower on the upper right as it was too much of a bare spot and looked glaringly empty. 

Bullion knots have never been easy for me, but I keep working at theism.  Getting more even, but I need to research how to get more consistent results.  I've heard that what direction you wind the thread on the needle should change depending on what brand of thread you are using, but for the life of me, I can't remember what those guidelines are! 

This little patch is bordered by a simple fly-stitch seam and a zig-zag chain stitch with beads.  

I love this seam!  Although it is one that I started with a different color thread that got lost in the fabric, so got torn out and redone.   You can also see the couched chenille seam that I did. below it.  I hadn't planned on adding beads to it, but the chenille wouldn't stay put and I couldn't come up with another method of holding it in place that I liked. 

I left the purple and pink patch until the last as I knew it was going to be hard to balance it with the rest of the block as it was just so dark comparatively.  Some lovely sunflowers and a vine gave it just the right brightness against the dark fabric and brought into balance with the block. 

French knot grapes or they could be clusters of flowers too!

The troublesome mandalla - first element I stitched on this block after the rick-rack.  I like it but it was really hard to work around and make it balance with the rest of the elements. 

The rick-rack seam.

The lower left seam is composed almost entirely of fly-stitch, which is one I rarely use.  Love how this turned out, but it's one of the seams that I had to rip out and re-do.  I stitched it first in a variegated pink/yellow thread and it just got lost.  

A little floral seam using buttonhole stitch to create little bluebells.

These blocks all have a troublesome little corner.  Most of the time, I've carried stitching into this corner from another seam treatment, but this time, I added a bit dark orange with a silk ribbon bow. 

The center element was inspired by one I saw stitched with wool.  I wanted to see how it translated with cotton embroidery thread.  I discovered that adding some padding under the outer petals really helped give it more depth and interest.  


*Last* of the Roses

We have a had a couple of light freezes, but tonight should be our first truly hard freeze.  Despite the earlier frost, the roses are still blooming, so I gathered more lovely blossoms to enjoy indoors.  When I sat them down on  my stitching table, I realized that their colors were just those of my CQJP 2015 blocks! 

Autumn Rose
I tried my hand at painting a couple of blossoms a few days ago.  I'm definitely still in the "getting back to what I used to know how to do" mode.  And trying to learn to paint with loose painterly strokes.  It's a learning curve.  For some reason, painting flowers has always been really difficult for me, so it's something I'm determined to overcome.  After all, they are one of my very favorite things in life!  This one is the first "rose" that I've painting that actually looks a little bit like a rose to me.  Need more practice! 

For now, I'm going to stitch on my CQJP blocks and try and get caught up a little while enjoying the last of the garden's lovely blooms!


CQJP 2015 - June's Block {completed - finally! - in October}

A few days off.  Time to start stitching again.  This block, for my June entry in CQJP, has taken months.  It has seen a wedding, a couple of trips, and the passing of Mollie Kitty and now the first rains of autumn.  I'm glad it's done at last and hope for less eventful times for the remaining 6 blocks. 

A look at the completed block.

2015.10.21CQJP2015June10 As with most blocks, this one started with rickrack and grew as it would from there. The rick rack in this case was bright yellow, to liven what seemed a somewhat dull block. It did the trick and motivated the rest of the block!

This block had lots of yellow and paler colors on it, so I knew it was going to need livened up by some other colors.  A bit of blue and green in this corner 

Next up was this flower filled patch.

A patch filled with chainstitches clamshells added some brighter orange.

The last seam stitched was this simple feather stitch with yellow flower beads from Florilegium, which were gathered at the CQI retreat in August.  I didn't think I'd use 20 flowers on one seam, but had anticipated using them in floral motifs on several blocks.  But this seam begged for their use.  I was three beads short, but made do.  

A curly vine with buttonhole leaves and flowers.  Love how the flowers turned out!

A curvy featherstitched vine with leaves and bead flowers.

A herringbone seam to fill another corner and spires of french knot flowers.

A thistle like seam adds life to another corner and brings a bit of purple into the block.

Usually I do the central motif fairly early in the block, but on this one, it didn't happen until nearly the end.  Mokuba ribbon flowers as well as a large silk ribbon embroidered blossom creates this motif.

The bright pink of this motif helps to balance the block.

Time to move on to July's block!  I'd really like to be able to finish this project by the end of December, so must stitch MUCH faster than I have been! 


Last Flowers of Autumn

Our first freeze warning of the season was last night, so yesterday afternoon, I decided it was time for one last look around the garden.  The "Lady of Shallot" rose is still blooming beautifully.  For someone who isn't terribly fond of the color orange, it has strangely become a favorite with it's warm pink tinged orange hues.  It blooms non-stop all summer long with only brief pauses.    

Another favorite rose, "Boscobel" has also bloomed almost non-stop.  I loved how the late afternoon sun was shining through it. 

 This bee was happy to snuggle down amongst the petals.  I can't blame him.  What a lovely bed!

Another of the "Lady of Shallot" blooms.  Just glorious!

The rugosa roses have many large hips!

The main garden beds have gone a bit overgrown this year.  The mosquitos were so bad much of the summer and the early summer rains so frequent, that it was sadly neglected this year.  But despite that, it still featured an abundance of blooms.  Until this past week, the hollyhocks and delphiniums were still in blossom!  

The grape leaves glow against the red of the Virginia Creeper.  Next year I hope to have grapes!  These grapevines came from my Uncle David.  It's such a fun thing to have plants in the garden that come from family and friends!

Yellow is another of my "least favorite" colors.  Though I do love daffodils in the spring.  I also love this soft yellow blanket flower and the green heads it leaves behind that soften into fuzz as the season passes. 

In the porch beds, the alyssum that self seeded from the previous year has taken over. I hope it seeds again for this coming year!  The sweet smell is glorious!  There are a few last buds on the pink Rugosa rose.  

Next to the garden tuteur, the last of the summer's cosmos still bloom.  I love the mix of flowers and seedbeds from the feverfew and the nearly spent spires of mint flowers.

 The gaura saves its blossoms for the end of the season.  Last year it was spindly and sparse, but this year there are cascades of pink and white butterfly blossoms!  

The clematis on the arbor has also put on a last minute display.  In truth, there are more blossoms on it now than at any time in the past!  

Rather than lose all those lovely flowers to a freeze, I opted to cut many of them and created a lovely bouquet to bring inside.  Just glorious!


Painting Therapy

The Dark Barn10.14.15
The Dark Barn - 10"x20" oil on canvas
My painting from yesterday - a dark autumn barn for my Dad's birthday.  He and I both loved old barns.  

Done from a photo I took of an old weathered barn in Iowa.  It was one of those barns that looked different on every side.  This side was dark and almost blue.  Viewed from the side, it was worn wood with a saggy roof.  From the far side it was an old red barn starting to decay.  Hope to paint some of those other views in the future! 

It's good to be back on the painting journey.  It makes me realize just how much I've missed it.  It will be a while before my paintings are consistently where I'd like them to be, but with this one, I feel like I'm back on the right track.  

Have been doing a bit of stitching in the evenings too ~ working on my Mollie Feathers project.  Hope to have some photos of that to share soon!  


More Therapy


More painting therapy from today.  Painted some of my hand-made beeswax candles and an old brass candlestick holder. 


Grief Therapy

Sweet Mollie is in her resting place.  It doesn't look like much, underneath the shrubbery near the bird feeders, but come spring, there will be an island of little yellow daffodils and pansies.  My new concrete bunny whom I've named Smudge guards her spot.  

Grief overwhelms me.  It's hard to explain how the loss of such a tiny little cat can evoke such spasms  of sorrow and grief, but it erupts out of me in wrenching sobs that I cannot contain.  Mollie was my dearest friend, my constant companion, my kindred spirit,  and there was a special bond between us unlike any I've ever had with any pet before.  Losing her feels as though part of me has been torn away.  I know that with time, the loss will seem less raw, that my heart will heal, but for now... the pain of her loss tears me apart. 

Even with two other kitties in the house, there is a silence here that is almost unbearable.  After spending the morning deep cleaning portions of the house, I needed a creative outlet.  But to sit and sew right now... something that Mollie was always there for, sitting on my lap while I stitched... is just too hard.  Instead, I pulled out the oil paints.  It has been too long since I did much oil painting and it is something that I've been missing.  

It took a while to gather supplies and come up with something to paint.  It's always a bit intimidating to look at a piece of blank canvas, no matter how small.  But with the help of Carol Marine's book, "Daily Painting ",  I was soon on my way.  

6" x 6" Green & White,  Oil on gesso-board 
It's just a simple still life, a bit rough, but ok.  Now that I've posted it here, I see a couple of things to fix.  It certainly isn't the best I've done,  and a far cry from some of my better work in the past, but it's a start.  I hope to paint a bit more frequently in the near future.  It's something I've been wanting to get back to.   I'd love to find a balance between painting and stitching somehow.  And working.  Must earn my keep!

Thank you all for your love and encouragement.  It means the world to me.