3/30/2011

Options for Combining Two Blocks

I had stitched these two blocks for a cover for my Singer featherweight... One was the front and one was the back so obviously they were never meant to be viewed side by side... but things change and I decided to take them to CT as my "show & tell." as one piece... I did have options.. First I could insert a wide band the width of the border and visually treat them as two pieces...

Second I could use the narrow gimp that I'm using on the inner border. With this option they will read more as one piece.













My third option is to butt them together with no division at all. But even though they are the same theme, fabric etc. there is a definite line and shouts that's they are two separate pieces


Since I mentioned on Viv's piece how little it takes to fool the eye, with the magic of Photoshop I will show how I could make that visual division disappear..


By fiddling with the lace at the top of the seam line first... I know I have more or could easily replace what's there. Then I could extend branches and leaves from one block to the other... Finally I could find another medium sized heart to put on the seam at the bottom... Just three things..and the line would disappear. Ruby asked: "Am I correct in understanding that it is important to select which block has the most elements to travel over? To ONLY bring elements from one direction. Or with some blocks the extensions could come from both sides?" It really doesn't matter where you bring the elements from ...(you can even add new elements) ...the important thing is interrupting the line...The straight seam "before" on the left and after 3 simple additions on the right... The two blocks would now "read" as one.


All three of these options are perfectly viable with none being really better than another...it's a matter of personal choice.
You're certainly welcome to comment here with opinions on these options... Since I already made my choice and finished this morning it is a moot questionfor me but you can guess which I chose...


While stitching early this morning I saw a tiny mouse scurry out from under the china cabinet and scurry right back... I put a piece of cheese on an old-fashioned mouse trap and slipped it under there... Morris KNOWS there is food under there just out of his reach and it is driving him crazy...

3/29/2011

Leaving a Happy Husband!

If you've followed my blog for very long you know my secret weapon is Mother Krueger's Sour Cream Rolls... There are a lot of odious chores when you live on a farm and my husband will pitch right in anytime if I promise sour cream rolls... I'm leaving for 11 days and not only does he have to tend my animals, he has to chauffeur my mother when needed. So when he requested the rolls I was glad to bake about 5 dozen. If you really love someone, have an entire afternoon free and don't mind a total mess in your kitchen, you might want to try the recipe...


Second on his list of requests was potato leek soup....his very favorite.. So I made it and it's all bagged and in the freezer. Thursday I'll make a batch of Lamb Mushroom & Barley soup... Also he's let friends know he's open to all invitations... So with that and the soups, he'll survive..Who knows I may want to run away from home again some time...

3/28/2011

Good Design Trick

Susan Elliot wants to get in the fun with this block.... I just wanted to tweak one corner....Susan sees the whole world in a block since she is the ultimate over achiever..

I must let her play because she is a triathlon champion, leaps small buildings and writes the most thought provoking blog on the net... I do not agree with her idea of putting a trunk on the tree....

But she does make a good design point that is a great trick to note.. Occasionally you will end up with two focal points that are about the same weight visually... and would like one to be more important.. You can do this simply by putting something over even the tiniest part of one focal point which makes it recede....Again with the magic of photo shop I followed Susan's suggestion and you can see how it works and now the koi are the main focus... by extending the blossoms to cover a bit of the crane's tail, the whole balance of the motifs is changed... Sometimes the littlest things make the biggest impact...

Here was Susan's comment about yesterday's post....

OK. I want to play too. I would actually extend the cherry blossom tree down to the base of the block giving it a trunk and a few more branches...likewise, I’d follow your lead and add bamboo to the left...I would have some of the cherry blossoms cover over the bird so that it recedes a bit — I would "pinken" up everything around the pool and deepen the area where the pool is...because, to me, the koi are the most fabulously spectacular element and the rest should support that...IMHO...nobody asked me either but it was fun...


I'd be willing to bet that spell check has never heard of "pinken". We both are in total agreement that the koi are spectacular... Now I have deleted these blocks from Photoshop and must get back to serious packing...

3/27/2011

My opinion (and I always have one!)

Viv in Australia posted her "Hearts & Hands to Sendai" block and asked for opinions on my CQI list... I just LOVE tweaky little problems like this and always have an opinion... welcome or not. Leslie and Cathy were right when they said the crane was carrying the eye off the block but I can offer an easy solution.

First the beautiful crane is a a powerful focal and you certainly don't want anything too strong to detract from it..

Second one of my mantras is if something is outstanding on your block (i.e color, element, shape, seam etc...) it is worth echoing elsewhere on the block... In this case for me it was the elegant bamboo seam on her block....

So with a little photoshop magic I can show what I would have done if it had been my block.... The short bit of bamboo is organic and does not detract but it definitely stops the exit from the block... Also it repeats the diagonal elements on the bottom corners of the block. This is a stunning block and the koi are just spectacular... I will watch this block as it progresses...

3/26/2011

Two Nifties for You in One Day!

Remember the nifty little retractable scissor holder I have on my chatelaine??? Well I have another like it I just clip to my shirt while I am at the sewing machine.. It is so handy not to have to look for scissors to clip bobbin threads. AND it would look equally nice attached to a needle book so I made some to sell at the Adventure boutique and I will put them on my Etsy when I get home...









Aren't they all just gorgeous on the tray..
Just $3.50 ladies... These are the very best secret sister gift....

And speaking of the boutique...it's a whole another thing trying to think about display when you're flying and REALLY limited on space... Wicker baskets would have been perfect but try to get 2 or three in an already full suitcase...

So I have come up with a nifty alternative.. When I was delivering my mom to her bridge group yesterday I swung by the thrift store and picked up 4 rustic-looking place mats. They can fit flat in the bottom of my suitcase...

Once I get there I can tie up the corners and it makes a super, attractive, basket-like container. Actually some large diaper-type pins would work just as well ... Pretty darn nifty even if I say so myself. And I'm upcycling as well....





3/25/2011

Pearl has ended up with Ruby's lamb...

In all the years I've had sheep this is the weirdest lambing... maybe because I am preparing to leave... When I first got sheep I took a lambing clinic at a huge sheep operation south of town so I'd be prepared. And they never have needed me as they just popped babies out, cleaned them up, and proceeded like super moms..but this year started with the lamb napping.


Then Wednesday morning Pitiful Pearl had a still born lamb... my first ever. Pearl bawled non-stop all day long and I was so sad for her....


Although Topaz is my prettiest ewe, Pearl has always been special.. Being a tiny bottle baby herself, she had a hard beginning and bawled the whole summer we got her... When she's out of the pasture she follows my husband around like a puppy when he's pruning...He just says "Come Pearl" and she trots right along behind him

Then yesterday Ruby finally had a lamb and I was there... Since she has Topaz's twin I snatched up her new baby before she had a chance to clean it and penned it up with Pearl (who was still bawling). I toweled the lamb down with Pearl helping and sat on a stool with them in the pen for a couple hours until the lamb was nursing well. Now everyone has a baby and all the drama is over...

3/22/2011

Hearts & Hands to Sendai Block


I pieced my "Hearts & Hands to Sendai" block last night and gathered a lot of trims etc... My block will have LOTS of hearts when done plus a large elaborate fan which is still in the planning stage.. But it is a small enough piece I can work on it in the plane and layovers in airports...

It's still dark but as soon as it's light I'll go out to check on "pseudo mother"... Ruby still hadn't birthed Her absconded lamb is fat and happy and she hovers over it all the time. Ruby is lactacing which I found hard to believe but the lamb nursing was enough stimulation... All the while I was holding it to check it, Ruby had her head on my lap also.. She was hardly moving and pawing at the straw so it will be soon... Pitiful Pearl looks like a tank...


I made umpteen trips back and forth to the old greenhouse where I keep the ewes for lambing. Even though I have seen many, it's still always a thrill for me to see a birth. I manage it at least once or twice every season. So since this will be my last season I am constantly checking... When I had a lot of sheep it was hard NOT to see a birth.. but with only three left ... not so easy.

But the yesterday was productive on the packing front and I gathered tons of stuff for these two blocks.. Probably way more than I needed. So I am prepared for the 3-day workshop with Sharon Boggon and will start gathering stuff for Allie's and Betty's workshop... The bad news was the repair man said it would cost more than it's worth to fix the refrigerator... It's only 6 years old and I've just loved it.. So I am going to look for a cheap used one as at this point as I can't be sure how much longer we can stay on the farm...

Serious packing and chatelaine...

I am seriously into packing today. In fact a one point I was actually thinking for a moment about how much space and weight I would save if I cut all the labels out of my clothes...ROFLOL

I even gave my chatelaine a sponge bath...It is so worn and looking rather shabby. I'll have to think about making a new one... It has lots of history and has been on so many planes, to so many countries, and in constant use at home and in the car... I did make a couple changes...

I added the button I painted recently of my dear sweet Morris whom I will miss... There will be no one to mess up my sewing supplies...
This will be the first time I've been separated from him since I got him...




The other addition is an enamel button that was a gift from Susan Elliott... I wanted to wear it and my first thought was to make it into a composite jewelry piece because it is so beautiful.. but I realized I would be wearing so much more often if it was on my chatelaine so on it went....


I changed my mind often on what to do for the motif swap and this is what I finally did... 10 of them.. I painted the buttons, beaded around them and attached them to a crocheted medallion..

The refrigerator repair man was just here and said it would cost more to repair ours than buying a new one... not what I wanted to hear... I have to do it before I leave... one more unexpected thing on the list.

3/21/2011

A case of kidnapping

Well it is actually lambnapping... When I went back out to freshen up the bedding I started taking a closer look at what was happening and decided that Topaz DID indeed have twins and Ruby had stolen one... Ruby is still pregnant. This is called mismothering and is relatively common... especially when a ewe has lost a lamb or is just prior to parturition (giving birth) herself..

My biggest problem now is that Ruby might reject her own baby in favor of the twin OR accept her own baby and reject the stolen one... Either way I'd end up with a bottle baby... So I'm hope Ruby will be giving birth at any time and think she has twins... If I had caught it right away I would have penned Topaz up with both babies but the bonding has occurred and would be stressful for all concerned to intervene now..... High drama on the farm!!!!

Finally.....lambs

New mama Ruby on the left and new mama Topaz below.. on their own time...

I always put Randy Andy in with the ewes Oct. 1 and have lambs the last week in March. Since I've knew I was leaving April 2nd.. I put him in Sept 1st... to have lambs the last week in February... a plan...right????

Well Randy Andy chased those ewes around a whole month trying.... but they were having none of his arduous advances until THEY were in the mood and so I am still having lambs the last week in March... But not because Andy didn't give it his best shot..(no pun intended..)


Topaz is by far the most beautiful ewe I've ever had and she also has the sweetest and most gentle disposition.. Her greetings brighten my every day!!! If I lower my head she loves to smell my hair and nuzzle my cheek and ear... She had twins last year so still may have another lamb yet this morning..

3/17/2011

Taking a break!!


Trying to make extra minutes in the day to get ready for "THE TRIP" and finish all my spring chores....so time at the computer is the obvious choice... Watch for me when I return!!!!

3/15/2011

A culinary happening...

On rare occasions I post a recipe but this one is so loose it stretches the term recipe which implies specific quantities etc... But this was soooooooooooo good you must try it...
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I "chunked":
2 medium/large butternut squash
2-3 large potatoes (unpeeled)
6-8 large carrots
several sweet peppers (I used yellow, orange and red ones)

I drizzled it all with olive oil and sprinkled it with "McCormick's Toasted Onion and Garlic Potato Seasoning Mix" and roasted at 350 degrees until tender.

Meanwhile in my big soup kettle I sauteed 1 large onion and a bunch of celery chopped... After all cooled a bit I put everything into the food processor in batches and pureed...and all back in the kettle... Then I added about 2 T. sea salt, 2 cups of whipping cream and about 4-6 cups of milk to desired soupiness. Do not leave out the seasoning mix as that is the killer ingredient!!!! And of course you could substitute organic veggie broth for the whipped cream and milk....but not at my house..


I topped it with crumbled blue cheese and FRESH chives. It was simply one of the best soups ever...



It is officially spring for me when I can pull aside last fall's dried leaves and grass under my old apple tree and find chives sprouting... I put them on everything while they are so tender...

(I just knew spell check would tell me that "soupiness" was not a word and it did.... but I bet every single reader knew exactly what I meant so it should be a word.....)

New buttons painted..

An hour here and there has been devoted to painting buttons to take to CT as we're having a "vendor" night. Since Easter is approaching I thought I'd do some bunnies...and because I'm out ...a few cardinals... I'll get a few loaded on Etsy next weekend and take the rest with me... These are all 1" buttons....

I'm hoping everyone wants to go home with their very own "Gerry Krueger Button"



In addition to the bunnies I finished another series of twelve one-of-a-kind cottages... three of which are shown here... I did add a duck to the pond by the cottage on the left and the tiny birdhouse to the one on the right.. I love doing the cottages... When you see them so large on the screen it's hard to appreciate how small they are. ... 1 1/2"
Occasionally a bottle of paint will fall off my small table while I'm working.. Usually I'm concentrating so hard I don't even notice... But Morris does and scoots off with it to chew the lid off... He still has two red front feet from yesterday...
Special thanks and hugs to those who checked a reaction yesterday... Doing tutorials are very time consuming so matter how small they are so I'm so grateful when someone lets me know they find my efforts useful....

3/14/2011

Mini tut....converting photos to sepia tones

I've accumulated several hundred pictures in my suffragette file.. and now it's time to get serious about printing them on fabric... First I need to do some editing and by far my favorite program for this procedure is Google's Picasa... If you do not have a good editing program or timid about trying software as complex as Photoshop, take my advice and try Picasa

I have and use Image Composer and Photoshop but I still LOVE Google's Picasa because
1. It's free
2. It is soooooooooooo user friendly
3. It is extremely versatile...
4. It is so quick and easy.


As you can see in just these few there is great variation in color in my collection of photos....and I wanted them ALL to be sepia (brown) tones since there will be so many of them on the quilt....
Picasa has an "effects" selection of choices and one of them is "sepia" so my first step was to apply that to all the photos I wanted to use...But even with all of them being sepia there was still more variation in tone than I wanted.
So the next step was to use the "saturation" selection.
Third down on the left....it is a choice I use on all photos, colored or not, which are to be printed on fabric... Color is always lost in that process so intensifying color in the beginning makes for a better end product. But in this case I'm using saturation to put many photos into balance. But as you can see the tools include sharpening, changing to B&W, tinting, adding a glow and soft focus among others... There are many other tools in the basic fixes and tuning sections.
On most of the effects tools there is this simple bar and button.. You can slide the button either way and watch the change in your photo as you use it and before you hit the apply button... VERY low tech here...
So using this simple technique you can see how I was able to make my photos very even in tone... Not only easily but quickly.













Just as a follow up note... To get the pictures of the Picasa tools I actually took a picture of the computer screen as it was something that was not downloadable... I do this quite often but the last time I posted about it I received such a negative response from one follower that I was hesitant to confess again... Hopefully that follower has moved on...if not I already know how you feel on this subject..!!!

3/11/2011

Quick progress report....

In order to keep the overall piece balanced I am working on 3 (squares 4,5 &9)of the 9 squares at once... I have the braids, trims etc. on all three as far as I can go at this stage.. I have the seams on the center piece done as far as I can until I put the images on... Plan to work madly on these for the next 2 days and hopefully have the images ready to put on all three by Monday or Tuesday.. Then the fun part... I am relishing the embellishing....


If you look closely there are a couple of recurring elements...one is the circle of tablecloth lace and the other are the pieces of the rust colored bows that Susie W. sent me. Actually there is a third...a black Venetian lace rose but it doesn't show up and in fact none of the heavy black laces on the black show up. Anyone have any super tips on photographing black on black...? I have some fabulous black textures which do not show up either...

Sometimes I hesitate to mention something as I think everyone must know or do it, but just in case there is one soul that it would help... It is at this stage that I stretch my block very tautly with pins on a bulletin board. It makes them lie flat and squares them up... If I can I will leave them stretched over a couple days, but overnight at least.. I will do this several times before I am finally done...

But I am also taking time to do a tutorial on making colored photos into antique sepia photos.... the easy way.... Had hoped to work on it today but the sun is out so the greenhouse is warm and I am working there to repair Andy's damage... mutter, mutter, mutter.....

3/08/2011

His doll and my doll.

My friend Al (91 years old) asked a favor... He brought me this little doll (4 1/2") with its head broken off and the rubber that held the arms disintegrated and could I please fix it. Al has a brand new baby in his family and wants to pass this doll on as a keepsake.



Wrapped with the doll was this note from his mother when she sent the doll to him.



I did fix it and then suggested he take it to a frame shop and have a shadow box built for both the doll and the note...





It reminded me of my first doll because it is also bisque and only 5" long. Oh how I love this doll.. and like many women the very first stitching I did was for this little doll... She and all her clothes fit in a shoebox by necessity.. Until I was 10 we never lived in a house or apartment. We were itinerant and lived either in a tiny travel trailer, motel rooms with kitchenettes and occasionally with my grandmother... so my only toys were this doll, a big tablet of paper and crayons, and a box of paper dolls I drew clothes for... I had to spend long hours alone amusing myself and I can never remember being lonely or bored.


Some years ago I found this little wire pram just the perfect size to display it... As you can see the pram has a wire frame covered with wire similar to chicken wire. I had never seen anything like it and was unsure how to cover it... Luckily before I tried I went to the doll museum in Bellevue and they had all kinds of toys with similar construction... They were covered with netting and then embellishment sewn to the netting... So I did the same.
If you love dolls and are ever in the Seattle area you must go see the Rosalie Whyel Doll Museum...

Seams

I mentioned the lovely seam work on the recent RR blocks and that I wanted to try some... I already tried this one is by Jeanne in Switzerland and imagine my delight when my "Miss Carole" templates fit perfectly... She must have a set also... But what I wanted to point out, because I didn't notice it at first, is she used two quite different weights of thread in the daisy stitches... By putting the heavier weight on the middle chain, the outer chain stitches tucked in so neatly... Combining different weights threads to achieve a look isn't something I had given too much thought to...but will now.
Below are seams on Helina's (Finland) block. The 3 seams on the right are all stitches I want to try on my suffagette quilt.. I loved the jaunty angles in the top right seam.. The bottom right will be perfect for a very short seam and I have lots of those... It makes an impact with just 4 stitches.. The center treatment was new to me... She did a buttonhole circle and then surrounded it with bullions. A very different look for a flower...
I love the combination of the fan and fly stitch on the left and will file that under "really wide seam treatments." But since I promised myself not to use fly stitches on this project (I use them toooooooooo much) I will keep it for the next time I need a wide seam treament.
This was a great RR and lots of thought and effort put in by this team... I appreciate getting to fondle and really look at the work first hand.. I always see things that I miss on a computer screen.

3/07/2011

Mystery solved.....

I knew somewhere in the darker areas of my brain there was something I associated with my mystery thingy that was perfect for hanging scissors.... I sent pictures of it to wire suppliers, jewlery suppliers and several other places to no avail.. Then today it came to me..... FISHING

It has the highly technical name of "snap" and there are a zillion varieties and sizes of them... A snap is used to attach fishing lures, etc to the swivels and whatever... Obviously I'm not a fisherman but my son is and downstairs at the lodge there is this fabulous work center for the guy who ties flies and is in charge of tackle... He has the coolest scissors, pliers, clamps, etc..... and, I'm sure, snaps in large numbers... probably where I got it in the first place.

Of course in the meantime I have found a better option for my scissor holders but at least if I ever need this thingy and, I am sure I will.....I know the name!!!!!

3/05/2011

Back to the Suffragette quilt and decisions

Last night was the first night for about a month that I worked on it because I was busy finishing the AAQ quilt... I worked on seams across the bottom and after one more evening I should be as far as I can go without adding the images... Seams like the ones with arrows are ones I will embellish more after the images...

I am so glad I did the AAQ quilt first because it was the same fabrics and there were many things I would have changed on the way I finished it if I hadn't been trying to meet a deadline... First..... too many images so on the large quilt I will probably use larger images and fewer of them.... But in my defense I was trying to tell the whole story on one block. Now I have nine blocks to work with.

Second....I was REALLY unhappy with the lace I dyed to frame the images for both projects .. The colors simply did not work... So all that lace will go into a baggie for another project. Now the key words for my color scheme for the large quilt will be "sepia tones."

I have cancelled most everything on my March calendar, put my answering machine on, and will focus on getting everything caught up and preparing for CT.. DH will be gone on tours for 2 long weekends (maybe three) so I will have lots of uninterrupted time....

To Ruby about Andy: Thanks for your words of caution and I DO always carry a big wooden crook. When he lowers his head to position himself to ram I whack him on his nose... Now if he start to lower his head and I raise the crook, his head pops right up....innocent as the lovable lamb he once was so long ago... I fully realize how dangerous he can be protecting his ewes... I was truly scared and smart enough to know I didn't want to handle him alone... so the first thing I did was run to call for help... That testosterone is a powerful force...that's why we have wars, violent sports and monster trucks bashing into each other... certainly not a woman's cup of tea......and while I'm rambling there is a large plot of woods not all that far from us that is used for "paint gun battles" Grown men dressed in military camoflague run around in the woods and shoot each other with balls of paint ... better than real bullets but definitely a testosterone thing.
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