Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm ...the planning.

I'm lending a hand in a novice RR and am about to start on Ruthie's block... I've been looking at it a day or two and here are my thoughts... First (obviously) needs lace...nothing leaves my house without lace..

Then there's the red...my favorite color... Any block with red can stand some drama... I'm thinking red flowers but NOT roses...I'm so tired of doing roses... Initially I considered fanciful flowers like in Hungarian folk art but now I'm leaning toward poppies... brash, red, red, red poppies... The folk art flowers may overwhelm what's been done but wouldn't a fanciful folk art flowers RR be fun... I'll be conservative (LOL) and go with the poppies and maybe a hummingbird.. Definitely lower right. Oops better think about seams!


Girls to Go!

They're attached to the 6" blocks which I want to do on the diagonal... Their hair might have had a little help from Miss Clairol... But they're off to their hat makers and we'll follow them along... I'll be putting the booklet together tomorrow and hopefully they'll go into the mail Friday...


Progress on Nicki's block......

The fish are done and I've started beading the water in their wake. I loved the wavy seam on the left and I started to echo it on the right... It's great to get a block with so much good work ahead of me...

I had wanted sea-life parades and have a couple more planned as sketched below... Once I pinned it up I immediately saw that a seam treatment I started looks like whiskers on the bottom fish and so will have to be reworked... I'm far enough along that I can set it aside while I get the Faces RR ready to mail...... I tried to keep my fish in proportion with the fish on the lower right. I bought some neon thread and neon paint to use....


Big decision....who will go?

The ewes are pretty well dried up so I'm using the time to do some training and evaluating I should have done early in the spring...(when leg was in a cast.) Several are new milkers and training a sheep to walk up a ramp and put its head though an opening that closes around their neck is a feat in itself. Once they're locked in I use the time to massage and wash their udder, handle their legs and check their hooves and get them used to being stroked and loved... They need to be very relaxed when they are being milked. They're doing well except Sapphire and this has pretty much sealed her fate...

Next I need to reduce my flock by selling one ram and 2 ewes...for obvious reasons Sapphire will be one of the ewes...she's a good mother and has a fine fleece but too skittish to milk... I am trying to decide who will be the other ewe..

Ruby should be the other to go because she has nipples that point outward and it makes her difficult to milk...BUT she's my dominant ewe and has so much personality I adore her... So I'm hoping as she ages her udder will droop (don't we know how that is) and she will be easier to milk.. This is going to be a very hard decision. Photo is of Ruby with lamb last spring.... Isn't she lovely?


Porpoise beads and first fish

I did get my little porpoise beads on Nicki's block. I can't believe I found them just before this block arrived... They are just perfect for that seam and I had about a dozen left.... Only because I was listening to a great mystery..."Religious Body" by Catherine Aird.... I was able to stay up and bead the first fish... I had worked outside all morning and then a jewelry-making friend came for the afternoon and I finished a necklace. We both love to take apart old pieces and recycle them....


King of the Bump

I was out doing some work on a fence this morning and was watching the rams... Apparently when I was clearing the pasture a couple years ago I left a small pile of dirt. It is about 3' square and no more than 8" high (a bump) but in that pasture it is definitely high ground. That 8" gives a height advantage and the two rams are constantly pushing and shoving to be "king of the bump" It's a guy thing and sooooooooooo funny to watch. I tried to get a picture but the minute they see me they run to see if I have any grain in my pockets..and I usually do!!


My favorite cart with high-tech cup holder

This is my favorite garden cart. It is waist high so is easy on the back. It is narrow and very maneuverable..... perfect for putting out new plant and dividing and moving established plants. The high-tech cup holder is a can bolted to the cart with a strip cut out for the handle of my cup.... One must have a white chocolate mocha while gardening.... In case it hasn't come to your attention....no husband has ever been shot while pushing a wheelbarrow.


Plan B already!

Nikki's "Under the Sea" block just arrived yesterday and I'm on plan B already... My dolphin images (Plan A) is not going to work... With the scale of the block and the dolphin's shape, they started to look like sardines.... But I still want to work with a circular element. So I cut some generic fish from paper and started playing with the placement of them.....pretty close now... I've mentioned directional elements often but notice how important the fins are on the upper right fish... Even though it's swimming off the block, it's fins keep your eye on the circle...
Of course I don't have the right colors of beads and will have to make a trip to the bead store.... Alas...oh dear me....oh gosh! . I have LOTS of things planned for this block and am so glad that I am last.....


Using computer editing tools

When I look at a block on the computer screen I can see things that I don't see otherwise... I can also use photo editing to see how it would look if I made changes... On the left is an upper section of the block that has a little beads and chain. With a editing tool I can erase it which I like better and then I can use a drawing tool to see if I want to stitch some leave and vines to the roses... I do.

The other area that bothered me was the gold ribbon by these crowns... Used the magic eraser and I do like it better not there.... And I need to add something on the bottom right tatting. Finally I want to add lots of jewels to the heart trail until it a definite arc that anchors the center of the block..... I can do all this in my head but the photo editing tools lets me actually see it and share this process with you!!! Below is the present block on the left and my planned changes on the right....


Queen of Hearts Block

This block is at a point that I need to pin it up and look at it a few days.... I'm really happy with the crowns... I made a trail of hearts instead of a trail of buttons....but the trail needs to be filled in with more pearls and jewels as after all she is a queen. I do want it lavish with jewels..... I found enough cupids in my stash to await every wish of her highness.
I have some pink glass hearts that I wanted on there but will decide later in the week.... There are a few other details that are nagging at me so leaving it alone is definitely what is needed.... I have high hopes that Nikki's block will arrive in the next couple days...

Out of my comfort Zone

This was truly a challenge...the colors made me edgy, the seam work was tedious and I was continuously ripping out stitches.... I could only work on it for short periods at a time.... But I finished and vowed to be much more open in my color choices. I will never love doing seams though and doing this block I figured out why... they are too precise, measured, repetitive and unforgiving...very much like sane quilting... So I will continue to do just a few fancy seams on pieces, but not feel guilty about it.
To be out of my comfort zone a block had to include:

1. Intense color....jewel tones.
2.Seam treatments....fancy ones and lots of them.
3. Curves....which I avoid whenever I construct a block.
Even more importantly I had to have:
1. No lace ... no lace at all.
2. No embroidery of any kind ...SRE or traditional
3. A non-traditional crazy quilting format...
I allowed myself beads... I did fudge just a tad with a little SRE on her head dress and with this design about one third of the block had no seam stitching at all.... I'm glad that I did it as it was a challenge and I really was in a creative rut...a comfortable one but a rut just the same.... Thanks Lauri for setting this up....


Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge

So the block above was my entry for the comfort zone block.. This block is actually not quite finished as I had wanted to do more in the bottom left section and ran out of time... The silk picture on the block is of my mother when she was about 16..... If you look closely you can see that her bangs have been curled in the shape of a heart... That was "the thing" then....
One of my CQ groups challenged members to do two pieces ....one within your comfort zone and one out of your comfort zone... Having signed up I had to really define my comfort zone....what do I love to do so much that I can sit hour after hour with needle in hand... So here's what I came up with:

1. Soft muted colors

2. Lace....lots and lots of lace.

3. Silk ribbon embroidery

4. Traditional embroidery

5. Beads, buttons and charms...all the bits that embellish.....

6. Victorian and very heavily embellished work

7. Lots of motifs

If you notice "seam treatments" did not make my comfort list..... I'll post my "out of my comfort zone" block tomorrow......


Crowns are beaded

Crowns are beaded and ready to trim around and applique on the block... I collected a bunch of hearts from my stash to add to this block also... With any luck it will be done this weekend. Since it is supposed to be 94 degrees tomorrow and 96 degrees the next day, I'll be spending most of the day indoors... Finials and finishing touches will be added once the crowns are on the block.


Gypsy Rose Block

This block was the first ever I sent out absolutely bare. The colors were bright and way out of my comfort zone so I had no preconceived concept of what this block would or could look like... Lisa set the tone with the wonderful dyed lace and embroidered rose and everyone followed suit, embracing the theme and colors and Ati finished it off in grand style. She ended with the addition of a silkie of a gypsy... It arrived today from Norway... I am so grateful to Lisa, Meg, Wendy and Ati for taking this block this far.

But having said all that, I must admit that I rarely can leave a block alone when it comes home... I add things, move things and may, on rare occasions, remove things... I'm finding this block very energizing and immediately knew that I"ll have to add a fortune teller's crystal ball, tarot cards, a tambourine with ribbons, more coins, fancy trims and a lot more beads. Whatta ya think????

More angels and recycle

These little angels were on all the posts in the angel garden. I could only get to these few because the rest of the fence is beyond reach because of a climbing rose on steroids... Polar Star. I do not recommend it unless you want an impenetrable wall of thorns.. It's totally hardy, aggressive, fast growing and completely untrainable. Of course I rue the day I planted a dozen of them along that fence.
The rusty item on which my little angels rest is the remains of an old cream separator I found at a farm auction for free... I turned it into a sundial....I used to haunt farm auctions. They're the greatest and the best stuff is in the junk piles behind the outbuildings and they're delighted to give it to you free for hauling it away...


First Crown

I got all the crowns chain stitched and the first one embellished. When I put it on the block I will couch another edge of gold cord around it and put finials on the tips...


I've sketched some crowns on felt... They are about 1 1/2" across. I usually try to choose a color of felt that either blends with the embroidery or the background. In this case the primary color of the block.
I decided to stitch them exactly like I would a pasley. I will outline them in a chain stitch and then proceed to embellish with gold, beads etc. I'm doing them all at once so I can repeat some colors and threads throughout... This along with the similar size will help them balance out on the block... Anyway that is plan A at the moment... Since she is the Queen of Hearts I do intend to include a heart somewhere on each crown....


My very best gardening tips EVER!!!!

I had to share this now or I'd forget. We've having guests for dinner and I went to cut some lavender for the table and some for her. Then I realized that I'd never shared my best gardening tip if you have deer.

At this time of year on a hot day you can smell my garden 1/4 mile away. I grew and sold old-fashioned roses from cuttings at my nursery.. The problem with planting small rose plants (or any rose) is that the deer pull them right out of the ground or the gohpers munch them from below . Well somewhere I read that if you plant 3 lavender plants around a rose the deer (or gophers) will not bother it. It works. Once the rose gets really large the deer will eat on it but the rose can handle it then...
Over the years some roses have frozen out or just died but the trios of lavender continues to thrive. So now I have 100s of clumps of lavender throughout the old part of the garden. I always planted the same variety... Hidcote, the hardiest and the darkest purple of them all.

Now to keep lavender nice looking and getting scraggly, it has to be sheared back every year...not by me with all I have. So my next biggest tip..."OLD LADIES' I have church groups who send old ladies out to collect lavender. They dry it and sell it at their Xmas bazaars. They shear lavender away from the house and it's a good deed!!!! I can't define it but surely this falls into the realm of recyling!!

2009 Challenge Block

Remember my block that was my 2009 stitch journal for each month's challenge on CQI? It's been a while since I worked on it and added a photo. I made it right through June with wording and July is wings so I started beading last nite on the butterfly on the lower left... I'm saving most of the upper right to do ribbon pansies with Cathy at the retreat... It's been about a month so I will have to get in tune with this block again. Can you find the three hanky corners....?

Here's the initial pile of stuff I started with and the repro postcard that was the inspiration piece... I love those little fanciful birds. There's still lots of empty space left and a few months to go..
If you're interested you can hit the challenge catagory and 9 posts will pop up that document the progress and might be of interest to new CQers....included lots of the initial planning...


Purple poop on the porch!

I didn't think you needed a photo to visualize that image...it's a sure sign the mulberries are ripe... I walked back and checked and sure enough the tree was filled with birds munching down.... I'm thinking it must make a wonderful dye... One year the mulberry and pie cherry trees were ripe at the same time and I was able to get enough mulberries for wonderful jam... But this year as usual the mulberry is ripening first and the birds aren't sharing...

How many plan "B"s can you have?

When I went to bed last night I was ready to throw the whole lot in the trash....I started with a raw sienna wash, followed by a tan wash and then two washes of skin tones. This was fine but the acetone to smooth out the polymer was worthless. Either I was applying it wrong or
there is more than one kind of acetone so they have many more warts and rough spots that I had planned.. so plan B is that I will add a glaze and hope for the best

But this morning when I laid one on a block with a dab of hair and they are passable.. Then there is the hair. My plan to curl a wig on skewers to get tight curls was a failure and still looking for a plan B.

I wanted them to be tarted up but not tarts if that makes sense. ...like they were still stuck in the 1950s with their red lips and beauty marks... Plan B is to tone the lips down a bit... I was determined to make a go of the polymer but it isn't for me and will go back to paperclay for plan A on next faces....

(And yes, Rose Ann, we are in the same RR!)


Here Come the Angels

I took advantage of the cooler morning to continue moving more of the angels from the angel garden... If you recycle you will love this shot.... First the stained glass in bench is a recycled antique and the bench is from recycled barn wood. I sat the angel on top of an old bowling ball covered with pieces of broken mirror and rhinestones. The bowling ball is sitting on a plant stand from a thrift store and that is sitting on an old grinding wheel which in turn is sitting on a cracked concrete piling I got for free....recycle, recycle, recycle... The little wire fence is to keep out the rotten rabbits.


The "girls"

They look weird with no hair but I smoothed them the best I could and baked them tonite..... The book I'm using is new to me so I think I will document and share the painting technique it recommends... I should find time to do the first step tomorrow... I have an old wig that I can curl some hair on a knitting needle for them....Even with no hair or make up, a nice hat can make all the difference.....
I know these women!!!

Crowns for my queen

I have this little gap while I'm waiting for Nikki's block and will use it to work on my challenge block again and also to finish off my Hearts block. I had a queen of hearts on the block and wanted not only hearts but crowns on the block.. Kim beaded the precious crown above with the rhinestone heart. The heart on the left is done with goldwork techniques and is on Mary Corbett's site. I love goldwork and have lots of supplies to try one or two crowns with that approach.

Also I found the crowns below on a google image search and I'm thinking I'm going to do crowns on a hoop and use the techniques that we use for paisleys which seems perfect . I will have to do a little tweaking on the block to make room for more hearts and lots of crowns...but it will be a challenge..


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah the stitch goddess!!!

I had been looking forward to doing Nikki's under-the-sea block and had a rough idea of what I wanted to do. When that happens sometimes I'm disappointed when the block arrives and the space isn't there... But this time it will be. And I'm adding a sea-life parade of sorts....

I had especially wanted to do porpoises or dolphins and I wanted to use a circular theme for them.... then as if this idea was blessed by the stitch goddess I went to a thrift store and found these precious porpoises on a necklace. They are tiny and porcelain and perfect for a wave seam already in place... Faye is just mailing the block from Australia so I have about 10 days to wait.....


Filling in....

This morning Ann had a question about filling in motifs. Filling is for me is like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. I worry so much about the eveness of my stitches that I forget about the contours and directions of the shapes... and pretty soon I'm crooked and unevern. I don't know how others have solved the problem but I stitch a grid on the shape in question... with the grid in place, I can focus on the stitches and the shapes take care of themselves....

If your look closely at the bunny on the far left you can see the grid stitched in on his hindquarters. On the bunnies I filled in with a stem stitch rather than a satin stitch. I used different colors of thread at once. But on the doves you can envsion where I had stitched my grid before filling in with the satin stitches.. You can achieve an entirely different look on the dove by intermeshing the satin stitches....

On some things I use both a stem stitch and a satin stich like this dove...The head and chest were a stem stitch and the wing and tail were a soft, feathery satin stitch..... Both fill in nicely but give an entirely different look.

OOYCZ blocks finished!

My out-of-your-comfort-zone blocks are finished!! Last night the last stitch was taken and the last bead attached. Today I will photograph them and send them off to my dear Lauri!!! I am anxious to post them on the blog which shouldn't be too long. Am I glad I did this? Yes, as it was not only a challenge but a personal learning journey. Would I do it again? Not for a long while as it was very frustrating and stressful. Will it change the way I crazy quilt? I think it will in some subtle ways.... we'll see. ...


Beaded Treasures by Robin Atkins

My book on finger weaving with beads arrived today. I'm a huge fan of Robin Atkins.. and love this layered look of multicolored beads. Mastering this is #1 on my list of winter projects. I just love her "Rosie" the uncaged hen and all her bead embroidery... She has been documenting her personal growth with a beaded journal that I find fascinating... especially the piece entitled "Menopause." http://www.robinatkins.com/gallery.html


Sweet bunnies vs. Rotten rabbits

I took this through the kitchen window this morning.. The sunflower seeds under the bird feeders are sprouting and the bunnies love to snack on the seedlings. It was these little wild bunnies that posed for all the bunnies on Lisa's block which is packaged and ready to post... It has been a bumper year for baby bunnies.... If they get into my garden they are referred to as "rotten rabbits."

Mary's #7 RR block...

My part of Mary's block is finished with the beaded butterfly I finished this morning and now it's on it's way to Nikki. I pretty much follow my plan (see previous posts) but with a few variations... I played on the wonderful colors and stitching done by Diane and Faye and really only focused on directional elements and moving the eye and color around the block... I do think this was the perfect silkie for the block and the bluebird and butterfly were my final touches....


Patch, the Crazy Cowboy

"Don't Seam Me In!!!!!

Someone on a list used the term free range stitching and I had to chuckle....because every time I look at a traditional crazy quilt I see all the patches with little miniature fences and I start humming "Don't seam me in!" to the tune of "Don't fence me in" Now the theme song for Patch the Crazy Cowboy... I'm definitely a free range stitchin person.......


Nearly done!!

As I mentioned in the previous post, this is a was a very linear block with some very long vertical lines.. My goal was to introduce more horizontal elements and move the eye around the block... I added or enhanced 5 horizontal lines and broke up the long side lines.

I'm just about done. I added pink ribbon to the upper right. It straightened out the little black bit and made the area more substantial... If I were last on the block I would embellish this little area... The bluebird I had first chosen was changed to one with pearl beading. The first was too much blue. I love painting these little birds...

I hope I've explained how I set out to repeat colors and elements and move the eye around the block...and I hope you think I accomplished my goals in the previous posts....... Now that I look at it, the polka dots give it kinda a "Mary Engelbright" look... I want black, blue and greens in the butterfly and I still need to address the left side of the silkie....
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