9/22/2018

A doll is not just a doll...

Occasionally I have shown a photo of my bedroom and you may have noticed the large print of Berthe Morisot's "Girl with a Doll" which has been with me for years and years.  I was so moved the first time I saw that painting... it was me.... it is really me even though it was painted in 1886.  I only had two dolls in my early years.  We moved constantly during that time following work.  We lived either in a travel trailer or a motel room. Those dolls were more than toys...they were friends and family. 
 
The first doll was Effenbee's Sweetie Pie which I received for Christmas in 1943.  She was composition with a cloth body. She had lamb's wool hair and her eyes opened and closed.  At some point my mother decided I was too old for dolls and she disappeared.  For years and years I searched antique stores for one like her to no avail.  But once Ebay came into existence I was able to replace her.
The second doll was a tiny bisque baby doll I received in 1947. A kind elderly  lady taught me to crochet about that time and I used tatting thread to crochet outfit after outfit  for it.  When I left for college the shoe box of all her outfits disappeared but I still have the doll.  It sits on a antique buffet in the living room. Once grown my love affair with dolls continued.  I started making dolls for my kids and my grandchildren but none ever seemed to care about dolls like I did.  So at some point I started making dolls for myself and I have them everywhere.
I tell you all this for a purpose.  Some time back I joined a CQ round robin where each stitcher picked her own theme and I picked paintings of girls with dolls and I ran across those blocks yesterday.  I had never done anything with them because I  always meant to repeat that RR so I would 10-11 blocks and it never happened.
 
I still have images for about 15 more paintings of girls with dolls and am trying to decide if I want to find a way to use them all.....brain in gear!!!
 
This is my year for granddaughter bonding.  My granddaughter Leigha from Alaska just arrived for a nice long visit.  She recently finished nursing school and is spending time with us before she starts a new job and new chapter in her life. Today we went to the public market, a festival and visited some gardens.  She is going to help me with some projects and I am going to teach her how to sew.


9/20/2018

Why did I get discouraged again?

While I waited for it to warm up enough to go out and finish painting the chairs in the barn I decided to start cutting and sewing the brocade for pages for the beaded bird book  and I couldn't stop.... I totally love how they are coming together.
 
 
I was short two RR blocks and so the cover and the last page are just beaded bird on brocade alone and looked a little lost so I went looking for some green lace leaves and will add some ribbon roses as well. 

The combination of the fancy fabrics, brocade and the  beads is just lush.
I also found some  fancy gimp in the boho bins that will add another layer of embellishment as well.
When I was looking for the green lace leaves I pulled out the spider bag and thought it was prettier than I remembered and why was it I got discouraged and quit..????
 
 
 
Oh yes, now I remember.... it was trying to embroider the black cat with black thread on black felt... By the time I finish the beaded bird book I will be ready to tackle the black cat problem again...


9/19/2018

Disregard canned soup!!

Well I hoped you didn't take my pledge to serve canned soup at my next dinner to heart as I recovered and once again embracing all things culinary... Sunday we had dear friends to dinner and here is DH and Max admiring the table.

Last spring Max  (from Italy) made the statement that salads in the US were predictable and boring.  He was  pretty much right.. so it was like throwing down a gauntlet.  I couldn't have it said I served a boring and predictable salad..  Heaven forbid!!!


I found this fennel, apple, and celery salad.  It was basically these three ingredients sliced thin on the mandolin and had a apple cider/honey dressing and toasted hazelnuts added..  I'm not all that crazy about fennel cooked but it was amazing raw.  Definitely not boring!!






Since I was serving broiled halibut as the main course I wanted a special side dish and I served these "polenta towers"  I made the polenta (with caramelized onions) the day before and chilled it in a cake pan  and cut circles with a cookie cutter.  Just before serving I put the polenta rounds under the broiler and when they were crispy I topped them with a round of broiled eggplant and topped that with a round of broiled tomato and finally put a round of mozzarella cheese and melted it under the broiler.  Looked special and was delicious.

Dessert was the first sour cream plum tart of the season  (no picture)  served with Max's fantastic homemade zabaglione.

We are on Quinn's emailing list and I love to look at their special dinner menus. Quinn's is a resort hot springs in Montana that we occasionally go to for our anniversary.  It is in the mountains and they take dogs. They are always having special package weekends with music and/or dinners. This time it is a wine pairing dinner in October.  We can't go but I fell in love with this 5 course dinner menu and HAVE to replicate it.. I would eliminate the candied peppers and strawberry soup plus maybe make it 4 course with duck and a tweek here and there...  Doesn't it sound wonderful... 

9/18/2018

Naked arm!!!

The cast came off this morning and does it ever feel good.  I have to admit that I'm surprised that it is still so swollen and sore... But the doctor said as I exercise and use it the swelling and pain will go away.

And as I had figured I was just barely able to finish the beaded robin....in fact it was about 10 o'clock last night.  May someone pour a bucket of cold water on my head if I ever pick up a beading needle again.  But I am glad it's done and I will finish it in a book form I believe....  that's the plan at the moment anyway.



















It was a glorious day when we got home from the doctors and DH volunteered to help me clean out the garden and harvest the winter squash... I have enough squash for us, our chickens, our friends, and the food bank as well.. Although I just planted spaghetti squash I seem to have ended up with some green ones and some cross pollinated as well.  It is such a treat for the chickens in the winter.


Tackling long neglected projects  seems to be the order of the day as of late.  Years ago I found some lovely tapestry fabric at the thrift store to cover my dining room chairs.

They badly needed to be recovered but I also wanted to paint them in the barn and that needed to be done when they were all unassembled..... Since this is probably going to be the last week of nice weather, if I didn't do them now it would have to wait until spring.  So I bit the bullet and tore them all apart and there is no going back.

9/12/2018

Another lost project rescued!!!

 
When I started the beaded bird project I had a vision of them being mounted on thin pieces of wood and assembled accordion style so they could all be seen at once.  Now I am rethinking this plan and will try to combine the beaded bird with another project.
 


 In 2010 I joined CQI round robin with a specific outcome in mind.... It was a wonderful group of stitchers and included: Cathy Labath - USA, Helina Pettinen - Finland, Jeanne Gagnaux - France,  Meg Shaffer - USA, and Ritva Peltola - Finland...  I had signed up for a seams-only round robin because I had planned to  incorporate them into a jacket made from this pattern.
At that time I bought a gorgeous olive-green brocade fabric at a thrift store for the jacket.  Eight years later the fabric is still hanging in my work room and the round robin blocks are waiting in a basket on a shelf.
When I put the beaded birds on the blocks on the brocade it was a match made it heaven


9/11/2018

I really can't believe it!!

Near the end of August I posted about this series of beaded birds I started in 2009 and abandoned to a box under the bed... there were these four and two more partially finished and one  unfinished.




If I hadn't broken my arm they would have gone into eternity unfinished,  But since these small pieces were the only thing I could handle with my cast arm... I decided to try to  finish the unfinished two and assemble them..  and I did.... not as neatly beaded  as those  before but I finished.






I still had three weeks to go with the cast so I started on the unfinished robin piece....

I colored the cloth background so any little gaps in the beading are not so noticeable and there a lot of gappies.....





This is how far I have gotten working in small areas for very short periods of time..  Since I have still another week left before the cast comes off, I will be close enough to being done that I will keep going.



9/08/2018

Great button round up!!!


This panel of small pockets was originally meant to hold earrings but it has my inventory system for buttons for years.  And it has worked great as they are easily accessible and I can also easily see what I am out of.  Since I haven't painted buttons for months the pockets are mostly empty... and since I want to eventually close out the Etsy button site I started to really look at the current inventory...

I loved painting the buttons but not so fond of the following steps.. spraying with sealer,  scanning, formatting for Esty, writing descriptions, etc.,,and the buttons themselves are done in stages  and I have many in various stages of completion as I painted as the mood moved me..  I had to be in the mood to paint or I either just sat there staring at a button or I messed it up.


It hard to see but this little tray has buttons with the image sketched in pencil ready to paint.







I have several trays where the buttons, like these robins, are finished but waiting for several layers of sealer.  I like to do that when the humidity is low so the sealer hardens properly.







On my little painting table I have a lot of buttons in various stages....more robins almost done and others images I was having a problem with and just quit until a day I was calm and relaxed to start again.  This happens often with cats and pansies...


Near the computer I have lots of little trays and I try to put a sticky note what needs to be done with each tray.  Some just need to be signed, others need to be scanned and formattted, others are scanned and formatted and need to be entered on Etsy, and some trays have all of the above and just need to be bagged and inventoried.



And there are little bags of buttons with no  note and I can't remember what the heck needs to be done.










And finally I found a basket and a shoe box left from  retreats  I attended   and the buttons are still  on cards.  I nave been approached to give a slide program this fall on painting buttons and also want to have a booth at the Idaho Button Society's convention in the spring to sell remaining inventory so I won't remove these buttons from the cards just yet.

So the great button round up begins....................................


9/06/2018

It's in the bags!!

Tuesday was senior day(30% discount) at my favorite thrift stores and my thriftin' friend and I made our rounds of our favorite stores and finished with lunch...

As usual I had a list and did pretty well.  High on the list were two-part frames in  the smaller 3X5" size.  These are not that easy to find so finding two was great... Didn't find a medium sized bread board in good condition.

A new bag for winter was high on the list... As long as I can remember I have ALWAYS carried a purse and a sewing bag,  Any overflow from the purse went into the sewing bag.  Since I don't carry a sewing bag anymore, I've had a terrible time finding the perfect purse. If everything fit the bag it is too large  and heavy.


I found this brand-new one for $3.99 and the retail tags were still on it.  This is not uncommon at a change of season when retailers clean out before the new stock.
When Coldwater Creek had its catalog store just north of us we'd see a lot of their unsold stock in thrift stores at the change of season.  Unfortunately they are no longer there and it was my favorite brand.








But this one has all the things I like..at least three interior sections and two outside pockets.  I should be able to keep everything organized which I love. 









I definitely wasn't looking for a purse for next summer but found this which was also new and too good to pass up.









It also has three middle sections and three outside pockets as well.  I had one very similar cloth purse that I carried this summer.  I loved it but it was just too small.  This one will be perfect.  So I can take "purse" off my list for a good long while.




What I did also buy that I absolutely did not need (and was NOT on my list) was this tote that is totally encrusted with beads.  I have a granddaughter who will love it though...




A word or two about my dear  Morris who is now approaching 9 years of age.  Besides being a foodie, his  goal is to get as many tummy rubs as possible into every day.  As I type he assumes this "tarty" pose across my feet.. He then makes a squeaky noise just in case I hadn't noticed him.  He spends a good part of the day in this position where anyone moving from room to room can stop for a tummy rub or two...and we do!!! It is possible to type with one hand and rub his tummy with the other hand.




9/02/2018

Techniques to handle awkward little corners

Note:When looking through past posts I noticed I have over 120 tagged as tips, technique, tutorials, etc.  I've decided to do a fine tuning on some of them for two reasons...first so they are easier to understand and second to allow me to travel down memory lane through many of my favorite crazy-quilting projects.
 
Techniques to handle awkward little corners (2014)
 

When you are piecing a block you quite often end up with an awkward  corner really too small for a motif treatment..  And this block is a good example except that it has four such corners.  I could put a little motif in each corner but that would not help the problem. 
 
I have a bag of tricks for just this very thing...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1.  I try to bring the patch into block by moving some of its color and adding something that makes the shape less defined.  This time I chose flowers the same shade as the block and moved some down onto the purple along with some foliage.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. For the upper right corner I chose something bold to attach to it to make it work as a larger unit.  Notice how it overlaps the seams to help include the small patch into the block as a whole.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Another option is bring some element from the block down into that patch and it just disappears..
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Sometimes rather than make a small patch seem larger I divide and conquer to make it smaller... With two or more pieces of trim you can downsize a patch.  On fact it becomes so small it hardly seems like a patch at all.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So now there is some variation in the four small corners which were so similar in size and they all have their own personality..

 
5. Another technique I use often and could have used here is to add a coordinating trim (usually ribbon) to make a block larger.    In this case I could have added a wide purple ribbon to the little purple corner patch which would have doubled its size and made the turquoise  patch smaller.   I use this technique often...














And now the tail...  I didn't want to mark on top of the block so I turned it over and sketched a tail.  I already had the peacock body in place so positioning it was no problem.  Then I did quick basting stitches over my lines.





Then I could turn it back over and embroider over my basting stitches.  I use this technique over and over and over again and have long meant to write a proper tutorial on it... Mary Corbet had an article recently on transferring designs and working from the back wasn't mentioned so I am determined to get a tutorial worked up and send it to her....







So I used all the colors in the block in the peacock tail and carried it right down into the pesky little corner patch!!!!!






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