2/22/2017

"Ladies Who Lunch" blocks

Well they are all ready for the finishing... maybe Pearl needs her hair filled out a bit but they are all gorgeous.  This was a really fun round robin in 2009..  I'm really attached to every single lady... Each stitcher gave their lady a definite personality.
 
I started by mounting Bertha on a striped damask and it will be backed with a heavy burgundy velvet.  I want this whole book to feel very elegant and  posh...  Unfortunately the camera could not capture the wonderful metallic lace on this block.  It is magnificent.  I bought it in London in a tiny shop in the basement of  an antique mall.  I wanted to buy just a yard because it was quite pricey but the dealer would only sell it in one piece.. So what is one to do....buy it all of course. 
 
I immediately developed amnesia about the cost of it but am definitely committed  to using it. This is the perfect project...  I can justify splurging on the metallic lace because the velvet is from a pillow sham and the damask is from a valance...both from a thrift store..  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!!
 
 
 
 

I did receive some good news yesterday.  I have only minimal blurry vision in my right eye.(similar to photo)  Some of the loss is due to the wet macular but some of the loss is due to a retinal occlusion (blood clot) last summer.   There is a chance that this will heal within a couple years and I might regain some sight in that eye...  It's all maybe and iffy but I can certainly hope.

2/21/2017

She who saves everything!!!

Gertrude has her new hat with lovely feathers....Now I can put borders on these blocks and finally make a book of my "Ladies Who Lunch"


It has been at least 12 years since I made a doll but I still have all the stuff... I knew if I saved everything I might need one little thing.. On a top shelf was a bin labeled "feathers, hearts and lady bugs." And in it were feathers of many colors....black, white, shades of pink,  and red, blue, green, and even purple.  I used to buy fancy feathers in the fly tying section of sporting goods stores.

Right next to it are two other important bins.. The most precious is the hankies, stockings and gloves.  I used fine hankies to make undies for my dolls.  I also was always looking for infant or toddlers lacey or fancy tights.  They were  the best for making stockings for my dolls.. And a real find were fine leather dress gloves to make doll shoes.. especially white ones I could dye.  These were especially difficult to find..

It is so validating to be able to use something I couldn't bear to get rid of...

2/20/2017

My kitchen island... not suitable for HGTV

My work space in my kitchen is small.  The floor area is only 6'x7'...  Two people can work in there but they can't move... When I'm having a big dinner I set up a tiny folding table for my "kitchen island."  The pork loin is in the slow cooker, the apples and onions are on the stove caramelizing  and I'm cleaning the beans.  From my folding stool I can reach the stove and the sink...

When I watch HGTV and listen to people complain about a beautiful kitchen and how it has to be a "gut job" I just roll my eyes and think..."Give me a break please" It was a good prep time for Morris.. He had apple, celery, squash and green beans for treats.. Green beans not being his favorite.


The table had a valentine theme and the meal was a success.  I love cooking for friends and treasure a day of "breaking bread."



I'm taking a little break from the peacock block and decided to finish my block in the "Ladies Go to Lunch" RR from 2009.  My lady is Gertrude and last night I "dressed" her and tonight I'll create an outrageous hat for her while we watch an old movie from the 40s...  Her hat really need a feather...where can I find one the right size... hmmmmmmmmmmm! I think somewhere I have a container marked leather and feathers left over from my doll making days.  Will have to search.  She also needs some jewelry...

2/16/2017

I love cork bulletin boards...

I love cork bulletin  boards...especially two-sided ones.  Some things just warrant repeating and cork boards are one of those things.  As mentioned many times before I have them in small and large sizes which I buy at thrift stores and I find them invaluable. I'll probably get to this spider block late spring or early summer but for now it is propped up in the living room where I pass it often.



 Any project in the progress or being stretched goes on a cork board for a rest... Meanwhile as I'm cleaning, sorting , or moving things about, any thing that just might work on that particular project is pinned to the board.  By the time I get to it I have a wealth of embellishments to choose from...Of course I don't use them all but it's convenient to have an assortment to choose from to start with.

I spoke too soon on Tuesday about a pig reprieve as they were back yesterday but I ran them off.  I do see a strange truck and people at my neighbors this morning and hope that's a sign something is being done about the pig pen situation.....

2/14/2017

Late in the day!!!

Late in the day but I wish everyone a lovely Valentine's Day belatedly.. We had breakfast out and then played duplicate bridge and came in second.  My husband even took a walk and gave me some time in a thrift store...Sunshine and no pigs...what more can one ask for... This is the large motif on  the Anniversary Hanky Quilt..

2/13/2017

99% Complete

Yesterday I finished the beading on the tail... Usually I just trim close to the outline chain stitch to apply to block...  This time I chose to turn under and glue about 1/4" of fabric.  These little clips were perfect.  I use them for so many CQ tasks...




















Then I let the glue dry for about an hour... This project has been ongoing so long and I really enjoyed working on the tail and but glad to finally see that there is an ending to this "tale of the tail"






















I did the peacock body about 7 years ago and now I want to tweak it a little...  I really want it to have a smaller head and there are two ways I can do that. 
1.  I can actually compress it as I sew it on the block to make it a little smaller...which I will do.

2.  The second thing I can do is just an optical illusion.  If I make the body bigger the head automatically appears smaller.  So I'm doing that also by increasing the size of the wing and adding beads to the body...

I do not add the beak and eye until I actually sew it on the block.  Here's what it looks like so far...................


Today I'm adding more green patches to the bottom of the block and then I'm going to take a little break from it and work on something else..

2/12/2017

Every cloud has a silver lining!

I love proverbs..... I have samplers all over and some date back to the sixties... I have them taped to refrigerator, walls etc.. and can find one to brighten every day and find a purpose to lift me up  when I'm down..
The other day the proverb most apt was:
and that is what I was thinking as I watched the pigs tearing up everything just outside the window where I work...  It was bad enough they were creating a horrible mess but did they have to do it right under my nose?
But the proverb for today is:
 
Magpies have always been my favorite bird.. even  living in Alaska. We had them here at the farm for years nesting everywhere and their antics brought me great joy.  Then about 4 years ago the ravens moved in and drove the magpies away.  But the pigs rooting through the snow and frozen ground must have unearthed lots of dead bugs, grubs and worms because the magpies were here en masse this morning working over the mess the pigs made....and they did it right under my nose!!!   What a treat for me.


Many trees in the garden still have the remains of magpie nests...they are very large with woody twigs and the entrance was on  the under side.  This one in an old apple tree was used by a squirrel for its stash of winter food after the magpies left.   One year the magpies built a nest in a hawthorn tree right  at my eye level near the sheep pen and I got to watch all the activity in and out.  I posted when the young fledged.
No pigs for several days now...

2/11/2017

Major decisions today....what do you think???

For the last week or so I have been mulling over in the back of my mind options for finishing off this piece.  Remember I told you  about 7 years ago I sent out a round robin with fans of peacock colors to specifically use for this challenge block..

This is four of the block returned and they are spectacular and would be stunning just assembled as is.. But I really want to use them with the peacock...soooooooo!



.First problem the green I chose for the background for the fans is incompatible with the block... I hate it...it is hideous with the block and I could never use it as it chops off the sky and all the fan beading competes with the block.  There needs to be a buffer that defines the fans as part of a border and I want to use the sky color around the fans.




















The only thing I had this shade of turquoise blue was a dress in my stash so it became part of the audition.  And I liked the color...so I started playing around with border options on my computer....










and I came up with this.... The original center block needs to be larger to balance out the fans.... the longer I looked at it I felt it needed more green foreground.


























And I like it.  But extending the block  with more patches and embellishing is going to add a LOT more work which seems to be the theme of this block... more work and more work.  What was going to be a week or two is now a month or two at least.


























But when you see them together you can see the difference an extra 6-8" of green adds to the block.  Adding more green foreground pushes both the tree and mountain back and a larger block is in better balance with the fans...Luckily I have a bag of the original fabrics with lots of greens.   I put an A an B on  these as I was going to give you a vote...but since I already decided on B that wouldn't be fair.  But if you do have an opinion on these changes, I'd love to hear it!!!
My sister is coming today to give me a ride to Walmart to pick up a lot of little items. Since JoAnn's is so close I'll have her take me there also to look for turquoise fabrics.

DH will take me shopping but he hovers and although he doesn't actually say "Are you done yet." I can see him fidgeting...  I miss being able to drive just for these kinds of errands where I just like to wander and think...


2/09/2017

Low Vision Beading

Low Vision Beading aka "never having to see a hole...".  I use some techniques
to make the beading easier and I never have try to see a hole in which to put a needle...

First getting the beads onto the needle ... I put my beads into the shallow oblong dish and just "scoop" the needle parallel through the beads... It only takes 2-3 passes to have 5 or more beads on the needle...  Never have to look for a hole. Just keep scooping away..  You can see here that I've mixed several color together because I didn't have enough of any one color I liked.  You'd be amazed how fast this is...just remember to keep your needle parallel to the beads.  Just scoop, scoop, scoop..... There is an excellent You-tube video of this.
Next: Getting the beads on the fabric...

After I transferred my design I used the basting stitches as a guide to do the chain stitch where I want the gold beads to be.  As long as I feel the chain stitches I can use my left thumb nail  as a guide to where the beads are to go..  And as long as I feel  the needle go through the chain stitch I know I'm on the right track...

Some time in the future I'm going to write a post about how I'm learning to use my left thumb to work in unison  with the needle in my right hand.



First I did all the beads for the gold outline... Ordinarily I would have put 5 beads down, gone back through the last two, and added another 5 beads.  I modified this step to make it easier.  After putting the 5 beads down I just came up through the chain stitch a couple beads back and whip  a stitch over the beads to keep them in line with the chain stitch...nice and neat.. Then I add another 5 beads...and so on...   This eliminated the necessity to put the needle through holes at this point.  I use my left thumb all along the chain as a guide to where the needle comes up.

By bypassing that step my gold outline is really a little wonky and wiggly but I can correct that a bit as I fill in.  I'm willing to accept wonky and wiggly because as my vision has decreased so have my expectations   also decreased..

After I finished the gold outline it was easier to do the turquoise beads using the gold beads as a guide.








Now I'm filling in with the iridescent blue/green mix... I do not need a guide at all here..  It is all just totally random in this area...every which way and even overlapping.  By piling them in tight it helps to even out the outline somewhat.. This is possible because the gold beads are anchored to that initial chain stitch.

The turquoise beads are from a very cheap necklace and are very irregular in size and shape but I love their color.




I would consider myself lucky if I lived where I could see either a sunrise or sunset but I live on a high prairie with nothing to impede the view either east or west so I am doubly blessed.... tonight's sunset....a few minutes of pure joy... (no pigs for 2 days)






2/08/2017

Progress on peacock tail

I knew I was going to love working on this tail and I am... slowly but surely.  I am finishing up with the turquoise beads and starting to fill in with the iridescent blues (pink arrow). As I finish the top of the tail I want to include sequins I received from Shirlee if I can find them.  As usual with this piece I have made several changes mostly in my choices of beads and also I wanted to use krenik metallic threads in the tail and they just didn't work. DH will be gone all weekend so I will probably sit around the fire in my nightgown and finish the tail.  Our road is so bad you need the 4wheel drive to get out and no one can get in... A perfect time to just cuddle down.  One of my super magnifying lamps is on wheels so I can put up a card table and work anywhere..




The other day  I once again bought a 5 lb. bag of lemons so I can use up all the extra eggs in the frig.  These chickens are great layers.  I will be making lemon sour cream loafs, lemon curd, etc... all my usual lemon favorites.

Usually I have a problem using up a 5 lb. bag of lemons before they spoil but I solved that problem... Around Christmas I has a bunch of leftover lemons and google told me to chop them up and freeze them... Which I did. 


I happen to enjoy my occasional gin and tonic and prefer it with lemon rather than lime.  So now instead of dropping in ice cubes I drop in frozen lemons... Delicious!  I suppose you could use them in lemonade also..  but a G&T is my favorite and I usually receive a bottle of Dry Fly gin for my birthday, mother's day, and Christmas.(some times for Valentine's Day and Thanksgiving also)

And it's snowing.....

2/06/2017

Always a treat when I'm on Pinterest and see a piece of mine...  This is a very old piece and I had forgotten about it... Thinking it would make a nice valentine..
 
 
We had 10" of snow Friday and 3" more yesterday  DH spent the rest of the day getting the snow off the roofs of the chicken house, gazebo, pump house and the wood shed....all old structures we'd hate to lose to heavy wet snow. ...then we pumped out the cellar... Poor Morris is struggling to get through this deep snow with his little short legs.  I am dying to get out and walk and so sick of being inside...but I want the snow to go off slowly as well... Any more my only physical exercise is cooking... Doing the pork loin with apples today with a Calvados cream sauce and serving with salad and roasted beets. Maybe I will do some laps at the garden store and fondle packages of seeds.
 
Neighbor's pigs continue to be  a major problem.  DH chased them home this morning before he left and locked the gate...but they just returned and busted through the fence.  We are at our wit's end with them...
 
Had the loveliest surprise recently... I became reconnected with a special friend whom I had thought I had lost forever. She is much younger and our lives are very different but quite by accident our paths crossed years ago and she became  a dear friend.  At that time she was only working part time and we often got together and made jewelry... But then she got another job and was working full time AND part time and to top that she fell in love....  But she's married now and her life is settled and we've set a date to reconnect.  She was around a lot during the lambing days... One of the most positive and talented people I know...

2/03/2017

Need to get this block ready to travel..

As I'm sorting through UFOs that need to be finished this round robin block is near the top of the list.  It just needed a tiny bit of tweaking when it returned home and for some reason it got buried.   This was "Cream on Cream" 2008 and a mega-talented group which included Cathy Kizarian, Jo Newsham (New Zealand), Cobi Wittekoek (Netherlands)  and Rita Cruz
 
 

I like to mount larger blocks (12")  like this on heavy pellon so I can display them on a stand...  I just need to be able to risk life and limb getting to the barn for border fabric.   I have a lot finished like and can take them anywhere to display and all I need is a table...
I do have a tutorial on how to do this but I will update it when I get this RR ready to display.   I have two totes full of blocks finished like this...

2/02/2017

Faux Gold - Pleasant memory

Sometimes when I'm searching for something in my blog I find pleasant memories... By far my most favorite round robins were the two faux gold work round robins. The focus of the RR was to use gold work techniques with inexpensive materials...and among those pieces I had two that I loved dearly....this is one of them.

The couching of the leaves in the lower left was tedious and time consuming but I loved doing it and loved the look.

This piece was inspired by a piece of art by Wm Morris called the "Strawberry Thief"

2/01/2017

The beginning of the tale of the tail......

I already have a tutorial for "cut-away transfers" and will add this to it.  I've tried to meticulously break it down into every step.. the hardest thing for me to do.  It's always easier to do something yourself than to explain how you do it... But follow along as this is a MOST useful technique.   I'm working this tail "off-block to make it easier for me to handle under the magnifying lamp.

To begin with I must describe the fabric.  It is a very dark rich turquoise and a very shiny iridescent surface with a subtle texture.  I would never try to mark on it with any pen or pencil.  It is a large complex design that will be stitching and beading so working through plastic film does not appeal to me.  It is perfect for cut-away transfer.





First I found peacocks tails I liked and cut them into pieces.







Then I played around with these pieces -arranging and rearranging- until I came up with a tail shape that suited my block.  I taped them together.  Once I had them like I wanted for my tail I  taped together so  I could trace them.






























 
Once traced I could scan it into my Microsoft word program to get a reverse image.. I always label this copy "right side" so I don't get mixed up later.








In the picture tools of Microsoft Word is the ability to flip this image. Almost all word or photo programs have this ability...you might have to hunt for it. But Staples or Office Depot can do it for you also.

So here you have the reversed design to add to the BACK of your fabric.  You must have a reversed image so when you are done it will be correct on the front.  By writing on the original it is easy to see this is the reversed image I want to work with.

Since the center if each "eye" of the feathers is the same I do not need  reproduce it but I could if I wanted to with this method. I could reproduce the tiniest details






I begin by cutting out the entire shape

















I've added fusible tricot to the back of the fabric to prevent raveling and I pin this entire paper piece of the tail to the back of the fabric and trace around the entire outside edge.

When I remove the image this is what it looks like.  I am using a heavier marker that I usually would so it shows better on film.








Then I cut off just a few of the whole sections at the bottom, replace it in position on the fabric and trace around the cut off sections











And it will look like this......

You just keep repeating cutting and tracing

This sounds complicated but actually it goes very quickly... literally minutes.  Each cut and trace  adds to the design.  If you mess up just tape it back together and recut.












You eventually end up with a pile of little pieces and your design on the back of your fabric.


I then run a quick basting stitch on the back and when I turn it over I have my design in a format easy to stitch and bead upon. I don't have to worry about film shifting or markers smearing or fading.   I will outline all the feather in a gold chain and will add gold beads to the chain and work in from there..  I did this fan years and years ago for this block and this is the look I'm going for.




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