Two doors close and one opens

My DIL needed some #1 knitting needles and I needed #15 beads. I had remembered a knitting shop in a tiny retail area in an old neighborhood on the northside of Spokane and there was a bead shop nearby.... but when we got there the bead shop had closed and the yarn shop had moved. But a block away in an old grocery store was a fabric shop called Sew EZ Too which we hoped might have knitting needles. From the outside it looked rather dubious.

To my total amazement they had a large area of wonderful knitting supplies and smaller areas of Edmar threads and beads and buttons and trims...and even a few FYI silk ribbons... It was an old building with lots nooks and crannies filled with surprises. They also had a large classroom and after the holidays I am going to approach them about CQ classes... Vivian found her needles and yarn and I found my #15 beads... It was nothing compared to the places in Colorado but for Spokane it is a treasure...


Taking a deep breath!!!

Thanksgiving is over, company is gone, I've finished my 2009 challenge block and my RRs are all caught up... I can think of starting some things new... First on the list is preparing a face for Rose Anne's face block...the ones in her packet did not fit what I wanted to do. Then I will make my DYOB blocks for the encrusted RR and also my block for 2010 challenge. They will be queen of hearts. By the end of the week I should have my first beaded embroidery finished early for the BJP... It's as close to being caught up as I've been for several months and it feels good.

But I'm starting on my winter list....

1. We have to reevaluate our spending and streamline our budget.. I found a free site, budgetsimple.com, which is supposed to be great so I will give it a try. I HATE budgeting and bookkeeping...

2. I have a couple dear friends that I used to see often and for different reasons we have drifted apart so I want to make an effort to get us back on track...

3. I have a disc of hundreds of photos to edit for my son.

4. I need to begin with at least one morning a week in the old tea room in the barn and get it sorted with stuff either donated, sold, or to the dump. If I can just discipline myself to a few hours a week...

5. I'm determined to make headway on numerous jewelry UFOs that have been around for years.

6. My packet for FeederWatch came and I want to get the tally sheets copied and start this week.

7. I want to do CQ projects for my granddaughters who will be graduating from college in 2010.

8. I need to find a spot to get a CQ group going even if I have to do the teaching and I think I may have found the spot but need to investigate it further.
I'm thinking, as I look at my list, I had better set my alarm for early tomorrow and get started...

2010 Challenge

I ran across this fabric on the left when searching for something else and I'm thinking it is a possible interesting color combination for my challenge block... The blue is definitely intense blue (shutter-shutter) but it does have pink and red which are colors I love... maybe cherry blossoms.... The blue swirly part suggested a possible use for fabric manipulation which is the challenge for one month...
I took out the building to see if I could handle that much blue... I think so! But the gold building also shows that goldwork would also work with that color combo....then lots of fans and maybe a peacock.....and it also would work for curved piecing...
I won't buy this fabric but it is a starting point visually and set my brain working... and January is just around the corner and I have only 2 six inch squares of blue in my entire stash..... I can pull lots of beads and ribbons tho!


Magpie has begun!

Luckily I could bead and play scrabble at the same time... Officially the BJP does not start until January but I am anxious to use some of what I learned at Robin's class... I'm experimenting with different stitches for feathering but they do not show up all that well with black on black. I started using "fan" stiches on the back and am going to use layered "stack" stitches on the wings. When I finished the tail I will do a little tut.

We have played three games of scrabble and Vivian is ahead by one game....


Challenge Block Done (well almost!)

It'll be done when I find the bag of precious buttons I had been saving for it. Also in the bag is the MOP button I painted with a butterfly and beaded around.. But until that little bag reappears I consider this UFO finished...

When the 2009 Challenge list was announced last January I decided to make a sampler of the things on the challenge many of which were new to me. For instance I had always wanted to do a paisley but had never gotten around to it. The challenge spurred me to explore paisleys on this block and later on other blocks... Since October through December were Christmas and wrap up, they're not included on this block...The year before I enthusiastically tried everything but couldn't remember them all.
Jan. - Painting on fabric, buttons and charms
Feb. - Using hankies (I used 3) cording, and rickrack
March - Shisha, sequins, and paisleys
April - Trees and leaves
May - Insects (I chose butterflies
June - Using words
July - Wings
August - Layered Stitches
Sept.: Flowers (not roses) I chose violets and pansies
I know the 2010 challenge is in the works as I type and I 'm certainly going to do this again next year as it has been a great fun and truly a personal challenge.. This sampler is like a treasure hunt to see if you can find all the things I included from the challenge...
This vintage postcard was my inspiration for this block


Well it is no printer's cabinet!!!

As I said it is no printer's cabinet but it meets my criteria. First of all it was a "ding and dent" so it was incredibly cheap and it has lots of shallow drawers and is on wheels. It's pretty "garage techno " right now but I can see some gold detailing and stenciling on it. I also have a bin of antique hardware in the barn.... none matching.

I'm desperately trying to move things from bins and make room in my small cluttered house for two rollaway beds...

My son and his adorable wife Vivian are arriving tonight. My son is always filled with boundless enthusiasm, endless energy and insatiable curiosity about EVERYTHING and had been that way all his life. He is a ton of fun but exhausting to keep up with. He is a gourmet cook and obsessed with fresh organic healthy food and every meal is a major production so he will take over my kitchen...(except for the cleaning up) Vivian and I could spend the week quietly nibbling, playing scrabble and doing thrift stores if we were left on our own. But that's not about to happen and I don't see any stitching time this week.


Christmas Crackers

This annual exchange is fun.. A 7" tube is filled with CQ goodies to a secret friend. I just finished mine and did them slightly different than the directions which called for a 7x15" block. I made an 8" block and extended it with lace. They go into the mail tomorrow..

Beading Class - materials, etc.

I waited to start beading my magpie because I was curious to see what Robin used as a stabilizer for her beadwork. I was debating the use of felt, other fabric or an interfacing of some kind.. So the biggest surprise was that Robin uses paper as a stabilizer... It was not just any ordinary paper. It was "Interleaving Paper" which is an archival 100% high cellulose, neutral pH, buffered paper. This paper is used for interleaving of photographs or artwork as well as many other uses. She compared it to the quality of paper used for money...nice and crisp as a new bill but with use, it softens and has almost a cloth-like quality... Our kit had a piece of cotton basted to a piece of this paper. I bought some paper from her but it is available online and at art supply stores.

Robin used John James beading needles (sharps) size 11 and had some insights to share on needles... Completely automated, modern needles are made from coiled wire, the pieces cut into the length of two needles, and points are ground on both ends of the piece. Two eye shapes are then stamped in the center of the piece, the holes are punched out and the needles are separated. The very fact the "eye" is punched through insured that one side of the eye is larger than the other. If you are having trouble threading a needle, try turning the needle around.

Also this punching occasionally leaves microscopic burrs which can cause thread to shred. Shredding thread is usually blamed on the quality of the thread but it may be burrs on the brand of needles... There are actually about 70 processes that wire goes through to transform it into a needle! It's amazing what it takes to create a short, straight, pointy thing with a hole in one end.
She spent time talking about how beads are made but I was especially interested in the beads she uses... In any one piece she has a lot of specialty beads of all shapes and sizes, but the bead size she uses the most and calls her "beloveds" are 15s. And also, of course, I have very few 15s which means I will need more beads....
She had a large display of her pieces on display and we were able to examine it closely... Her work is gorgeous online but when seen "for real" it is amazing. Most of her bead embroidery work is done improvisationally - that is, without a plan and it tells a story. It is the story telling aspect that endears her work to me... You can see some of her pieces at http://beadlust.blogspot.com/ I thought it was interesting that she is now experiementing with showing more of the base materials in her work and the material is often pieced which is heading very near encrusted crazy quilting..
I am so glad I was able to take the class before I started my bead journal project... And all the stars are still in line because the packet of my Project FeederWatch materials came the day before I left and I was able to read about it on the trip...


Back home again!

Back home and I did get some stitching done on the drive over to Bellevue.. I finished Leslie's plump fairy. I also got the cracker squares mostly done....all gold and pearls... I made an 8" square and then will finish the ends with lace. I left room for a couple motifs... Both the crackers and Leslie's block will go in the mail on Monday...

The pass wasn't too bad but there was heavy snow. In fact they expect another 20" tonite so we got over just before another big storm...But we were prepared with chains, extra blankets, warm clothes... In past years we have had some bad experiences...
The class was fabulous and I learned a lot... I was from 9am to 5 pm with about 25 minutes for lunch. I was exhausted when done. More tomorrow on the class...


I'm soooooooooooooooo jealous!!!

Everyone coveted the printer's cabinets in the bead store in Breckenridge... so I googled printer's cabinet and found one in Canada and this one on a craigslist in Longmont Colorado... I posted it on the CQI list and Connie bought it... a CQ storage dream...
Now I found another one on a craiglist in California where Carolyn lives..

Pansy Motif

Woke up at 4am and couldn't go back to sleep so got up. I could either scrub the kitchen floor or stitch... Didn't take long to make that decision. Got a good start on the pansy motif... Although it doesn't show I edged the ribbon and the leaves with gold paint and I couched the hanging stems with gold.

I did the worst possible thing before going to bed...I checked the road conditions for the pass over the Cascade Mountains.. Flashing red type warned of big winter storm alert... The flashing red type was bad enough but now they have these web cameras that actually show how bad it is.. If it wasn't for this class with Robin no way would I start across those mountains..

I couldn't sleep and have a stomach ache and I haven't even gotten into the car... Years back I was in an accident on winter roads and the vehicle slid off an icy road and down a bank and rolled over several time and it was completely totaled. Luckily we had our seat belts on because when it stopped rolling we were hanging upside down in the vehicle.. Other than lots of bruises there was no serious bodily harm but it left me an absolute wimp about winter driving...


Dye and Musings

I'll blog while I waiting for my leaves to dry... I added a soft wash to part of my bead journal fabric so the stark white does not show behind the beads.. Once it is dry I'll fill in the black area...
At the top you can see the "wrong" (dull) and "right" (shiny) side of the ribbon I showed in a previous blog . I've decided the wrong side works better on this block and the look I'm trying to achieve. Many times I'll use patches of both the right and wrong side of a fabric in the same block...
I always have a problem doing what I should be doing as opposed to what I want to do... What I really want to do is finish this challenge block as it's all just singing now....but I need to finish my CQI Christmas crackers, gather stuff for bead class, clean house for guests coming the day after we get home and pack (I'll be gone tomorrow) as we are leaving very early Thursday morning. It is about a 4 hour drive.


Organic Lamb

I had been dreading the meat processor coming next weekend so when he called Saturday and wanted to come a week early I was relieved. They came with a truck and it was over quickly.. After they left our farm they had 3 more farms to visit....for 3 beef and 11 hogs..

I really like having control over any aspect of our food supply knowing we can eat lamb and eggs that are organic...free of hormones and chemicals and grown under humane conditions. Our son will bring halibut and salmon when he comes next weekend.... Next year I'd love to add ducks, geese and 1 hog but HWCH would have a fit.... Maybe if I pursue getting a hog he'll be relieved to settle for ducks and geese... Anyway with a full freezer and a shed full of wood we are about as prepared for winter as we can get....


Dyed Ribbon

This is ribbon I dyed last spring.. I wanted you to see how ugly it was and how beautifully it is going to work up into pansies. It is just cheap, unwired, polyester ribbon about 3/4" wide... I soaked it in water and brushed on thinned alcohol dyes ... mostly blue on one edge -pink on the edge. It turned out uneven, streaked and quite ugly but before I dyed some silk ribbon I decided to gather some of the ugly some into a pansy... And I like it...

The butterfly earrings are some I found at the thrift store on Monday and they seem to fit right in with the rest of the rhinestone butterflies on the block so I will have to find a spot for them..


Challenge Block Ending

On the upper left I finished the cascade of violets, rebeading the butterfly and beading the hanky edge. I wasn't happy with the beads I had put on the butterfly so I took them all off and started again... It's odd that beads look one way in the tube and entirely different beaded up.

But I am particularly pleased with the cascade of violets and will use that technique again. I had a lovely variegated silk ribbon and used it along with 4 other shades of violet ribbons. I started with actual violet shapes and then just filled in with violet ribbons to get the feel of a "bunch." Now the upper right is the spot I have saved for very last...

It was this vintage post card with its birds and pansies that have been my inspiration all along. I do so want to capture the feel of the pansies on the card There will be very little stitching time today and tomorrow which I regret because I am so close to finishing,,,


Rotten Rodents

We go to great lengths to welcome and co-exist with our wild critters but we draw the line when they want to move into the house for the winter. At that point they become rotten rodents... At the top of the unwelcome guests are skunks who show up with distressing regularity and dig under the house...

Next on the list are squirrels. As long as they stay out of doors they are precious but once they get under the house and start tearing the insulation off the water pipes for nesting material they are reclassified as rotten rodents and relocated.

This squirrel has been around all summer but when I was taking a nap last week I could hear it in the attic. So we set out the live trap and this morning it's on its way to be relocated in the woods next to the river...This little squirrel is so fat that it waddled along... I hadn't seen a mate.. This one has quite distinctive brown markings on its face.


Challenge Block Progress

I added the crocheted butterflies in the right pic and left the top edge of the upper petals unattached so they are very 3D.. I had thought I would add the tatted butterflies there also but found this rhinestone one at the thrift store Monday and it fits in perfectly with the other two already on there.
On the left I beaded the large butterfly and have just started on a cascade of violets. I'm using several shades of violet ribbon... I was able to tote the needlework along with me yesterday and can again today so I will at least finish the violets today...I am saving the large ribbon pansies as a treat for the last...
Looked at the calendar and tomorrow is the ONLY day I have at home before we leave for the coast next Thursday and company will be here the day I get home... My HWCH* loves it and being the dedicated hermit of the family, I find it hard to breathe when I look at a loaded calendar.
*Handsome, witty, charming husband


Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe Ever

This is the best pumpkin bread ever... During the spring and summer I keep a supply of lemon breads in the freezer for hostess gifts but during this season I bake up a lot a little loaves of pumpkin bread. This was a new recipe to me but now it is my very favorite...and easy also... I doubled it..... Do try it!

1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (1/4 L) pumpkin
1/2 cup (1 dL) olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup (1 dL) chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
2. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.
3. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.
Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.

And a spider sat down beside me!

The most treasured purchase on my trip to Colorado was a handcrafted, brass belt buckle which is almost 3" across. I spied it on a mannequin in front of a shop that sold used clothing. I snatched it up immediately for $10... Kerry, Leslie, Debbie and Diane didn't seem all that excited about my wonderful treasure. But won't they be jealous when they see it as the latch on a CQ "spider" sewing bag? ... First I was going to enter it in the purse contest but keeping something secret for 6 months is too hard for me to do.....

I have always been fascinated by spiders and their webs. I posted the Spider RR last spring and was delighted to see it was so well received. I love spiders in my garden and the most moving visual moment in my life involved spider webs. I was walking uphill near our back meadow in the woods. A fog lifted and left 5 acres of grass and weeds filled with dew-covered spider webs with the sun shining through.. There must have been a million of them. Of course I dashed back to the house for the camera but the magic moment had passed.


30 years and 6000 trees later...

I had a great laugh reading my friend's Kerry's blog this evening... And I quote her:

"I was reading my friend Gerry's blog the other day all about the birds and such she can see through her window while she is stitching. I'll admit to being quite jealous. Here on the prairie, trees are scarce and most birds have too much sense to hang around here."

Kerry I also live on a prairie and here are pictures of my garden when I moved here in 1980.... See many trees? Only dead ones... All the trees I see out my windows are trees I've planted.... over 6000 trees in thirty years...about a 200 square foot section at a time. and most produce some fruit, seed, or berry to attract birds.

The only birds we had at that time were killdeer, pheasant and hawks...The pic on the lower right is of a planting.... So when I look out the window at my trees and birds I have a extra special reason for appreciating them because it took so damn long and so much work to get them... I had to mulch everything heavily because besides not having any trees I had very little water in our well... only enough for the house, not the garden...The next time you come to visit I will give a real VIP tour... and we can stitch together and watch the birds....

Progress on second end piece

Well I am far enough done on all four pieces that I could assemble it and it would be gorgeous... But I am very tired of the colors and prints and will put it aside til next month... I know then I'll be refreshed from the break from it and eager to do some final touches...

I want to get Leslie's block done, the challenge block done and the crackers done.. all before the end of the month ...plus I have family coming from Alaska for Thanksgiving week and the trip to Seattle for Robin's class that is coming up in 9 days...

I think I've found the cabinet I want and I have another surprise to share tomorrow....


Stash Storage Cabinets

When it comes to stash storage cabinets I'm a pretty shallow person.... I HATE digging through drawers and bins to find something. I want to open a drawer and see it all (or almost all). Also because I live in a small space and all rooms have to be multiuse, it is imperative that EVERYTHING be on castors. Since I work in our living area I don't want open shelves where everything (translate mess) is on display. Having said all that, here are my shallow drawer cabinets
The first shallow drawer setup I got were two old blue print files which stacked. It is perfect but quite large and very heavy...It's large enough you could use the top as a cutting surface.... They are not easy to find but used office furniture warehouses are the best bet. I'm sorry the last time I moved mine I didn't put castors on it.

The I went through several Target/KMart rolling carts with baskets...They're not well made and there's a lot of lost space and they're not cheap either. So I found this tall tower on wheels which was ugly white and painted it... It's 4' tall with all 2" drawers and perfect for by my work table. All things used often are in it.

Last year I found this 5" tall cabinet
with both 2" and 4" drawers... It is very study and nice looking and of course on wheels..but it was rather expensive BUT there was free shipping. It's nice enough looking it could be put in the corner of a living room even..
source: http://www.chandlercreations.com/site/1406927/product/CRFTKIT%20C

Now I'm going to get one more cabinet....one like last year's if I can't find something better. I am looking into a mechanics rolling tool cart if I can find a used one or one cheap. I keep all my cabinets in a small side room that often has to be used for entertaining or a guest room ...in which case all cabinets are wheeled into the laundry room..

High Drama Below the Feeder

We have literally hundreds of quail so it's not surprising that we get hawks occasionally. Mostly they patrol the pastures looking for field mice and gophers for which I am grateful. But yesterday morning one managed to get a quail and had it near the house and began pulling feathers for a meal.. It was too close to the house to get a picture but while it was preparing to chow down another hawk flew in and tried to steal the meal... Unsuccessful, it perched about 6' away on a log where I could get a good picture through the window..
It is a Sharp Shinned Hawk and they are the most common to fly in among the trees near the house... They are fantastic aerialists flying at full speed through branches and foliage....just amazing.


CD tins for bead soups

I used to get these CD tins in the mail from AOL etc. but they have stopped sending them. They are not only perfect for storing bead soups but make the best little bead trays when beading. I take beads in them when I travel and have my beads and a tray in one unit...

I finally found an online source for them but I had to buy 24 of them and didn't think I would ever use that many. But I have 16 filled now and sure now that I'm doing bead embroidery that soon all will be in use.

I love how tidy they are when stacked and how little space they take... If I am tossing one in my sewing bag I do put a rubber band around it just to be safe. The online source is http://www.sks-bottle.com/340c/fin7f.html and you can get them with or without a matte insert...

Sugar Plump Fairy

We used to go to the Nutcracker at Christmas when the kids were small and my son's favorite were the sugar plump fairies. When Leslie's blocks came today I took a break from the singer cover to put the plump fairy on the block... Later I'll do the seams, finishing touches, etc...


Update on Miss Molly

She settles in quite nicely on my bed whenever she needs a nap. We love her dearly and we have started some training classes to work on some issues.. She is very hyper and it's hard to get her settle down once she is excited but we are making progress.

Since she is 4 years old and we are her 3rd home some habits taking a little longer. The gas stove drives her into a frenzy...the buzzer, the hiss of the gas, and clicking of the burners before they ignite. The phone also.

It's hard to know why on some things since we hadn't had her as a pup. But there are some nice surprises. She's very loving and eager to cuddle and love. I was teaching her to heel and sit and sometimes she would do this funny little hop and roll bit. It was obviously a trick that someone had taught her. Since she didn't always do it I couldn't figure out for a long time what hand gesture I was using that triggered it. I finally figured it out and we do it often now as she's really likes doing tricks. She's very intelligent and eager to learn.

We know her first home had 3 kids and 3 dogs and at her second home the owner worked and she was alone long hours. But our home is quiet, she's never alone, and she's receiving lots of love and positive attention.. She loves doing the chores with me and going for walks every day... We absolutely adore Miss Molly...


Thoughts on finishing Challenge Block

Sometimes I take a needlework book or the paper to bed to look at while I listen to my audio book. But sometimes I take an unfinished block with me just to study it. I want to get going again on my challenge block as it is near the end.... Decided what I wanted to do and what I wanted to change. This block is pretty much violets, pansies, and butterflies..

As it is now on the left... I want to move the large butterfly to upper left. Add the ribbon pansies inspired by inspiration card to upper right . I want to tuck lots and lots of ribbon violets in and around the silkie... and where the butterfly was I'l put crocheted pansies from a vintage doily and tatted butterflies....finishing it off with a button trail... I have never been all that happy with how the gold 3D leaves turned out... I may redo them with different gold cord...
We did pansies several ways at the retreat and I have new ribbon I bought on the trip for the bunches of violets. I had been waiting until Sept to do the flowers as part of the challenge but the month just whizzed by. Most of this is work I can do in the car while traveling to Seattle for the Robin's beading class....


Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies. It is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. That data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

For years we worked with the Dept. of Wildlife hosting "Bird Weekends" here at the farm with about 1500 people attending each year. My DH has been involved with the Christmas Bird Count for years and years. This project fits right into our commitment to backyard birding....

My entire work area is about 4' square and is next to a window and, as you can see, the feeder is right there. All the hours I'm stitching I'm watching my birds.....every single day...


Moon, Stars, Planets all in Line!!!!

Don't you love it when that happens?? Over the weekend I had been checking for nests as the trees lost their leaves and anxious to see if the magpies had built a nest that would last the winter... Then I signed up for the Bead Journal Project and then the very next thing I received the FeederWatch info (next post) and signed up for that and it was like a sign that my BJP should be birds at my beloved feeders.....and the first one will be a magpie. (see sketch) with a jeweled treasures....

What birds though as there about 70 over the year...my favorites?? No, I decided my first twelve for the project will be from my mostly year-round birds... which include magpies, quail, house finches, robins, goldfinches, flickers, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatches, downys, grosbeaks, various sparrows, turkeys, juncos etc. If I do it a second year I will do my migratory birds and hawks..

I've sketched my design on heavy muslin as I wanted to paint the fabric with alcohol dyes.. My first choice was beading on felt and if the muslin doesn't work I'll revert to felt... Carol wrote to tell me it does not start until January so I am not behind at all and my friend Ati in Norway is signing up also!!!! Hooray....

Progress on Featherweight Cover

One end section is all but done... except for the lower left corner. I wanted to embroider an art deco design there but have not found one that makes my heart sing or fits the space. This odd piece of lace will do in a pinch... And it does direct the eye back into the block....the fan is such a strong directional force.

I like the fan so heavily embellished...even over the large prints.. It works very nicely next to the front and back sections... Now to the last end section...


Robin Atkin's Bead Journal Project

I wanted to join Robin Atkin's Bead Journal Project ever since I discovered it last winter and did so yesterday....but it started in October so I am already behind.... http://www.beadjournalproject.com/ I've been checking out the gallery. Some used solid beading and others used a mixed media approach.. These are two of Robin's entries from 2007. Hers are a riot of color, beads and symbolism which I find exciting and inspiring. It is well worth the time to go browsing through the gallery...

So I started thinking about size...I want it to be large enough to hold an adequate design but not so large as to be a chore to do... Jo's fan was my one venture into bead embroidery so I know it can be time consuming. I finally settled on 3 1/2" by 5"... Robin's journal are very personal and so are some of her students' projects...examining feelings and life-changing occurrences. Others chose themes that they identified closely with.... Since I'm not brave enough to really share private feelings I'll go also with something special that I love... But I need to decide tonight as I want to get started immediately. I have a couple ideas but will sleep on it....

I've long been a fan of Robin Atkins and her website Beadlust is at the top of my blog list. When I learned earlier this summer that she was offering a bead embroidery class in Bellevue WA on November 20 I immediately signed up. I am really looking forward to it...

The revealing of the nest -not yet!

One of my favorite birds on the farm is the magpie. I added this photo (not my bird's nest) to show how large their nests become in comparison to the bird itself... There was a huge nest (about 3' x3') in our pine close to the house and it was directly situated in my line of sight from "my morning coffee spot" on the couch.

I watched them repair and enlarge their nest each sping and when the babies hatched the real show began. The parents never just flew into the nest which has an opening on the side. They landed several branches up and did this little "hippity hop" dance down to the nest.. But with our record breaking snowfall last winter their nest was demolished... I know sometimes they rebuilt on an old nest site so I was watching closely this spring...but no activity.. Then I noticed them carrying large sticks and flying into the apple tree by the sheep pasture and sure enough they were hard at work on a new nest.

Unfortunately the foliage on the apple tree is so thick that I can't see all the activity but at least they are still close by. I can see the nest when I stand under the tree and look up but I have to wait until the leaves completely fall to get a really good look. I know some think them terrible pests but I appreciate that they are intelligent, gregarious birds with personality that brighten my day with their antics.

Magpies, in some cultures. are regarded as a good luck symbol of joy, marital bliss, and long lasting fortune. The ancient Roman's viewed the magpie as a creature of high intellect and reasoning powers. Magpies are attracted by shiny bits and pieces and I'm sure if they did needlework it would be CQ!


Lines & Progress

I was able to get more done yesterday than I thought. I had decided on this lace but felt the edge needed one more element to define it and am adding the black velvet ribbon.

I really like at least 2" of foundation beyond the edge of the block. The white basted line you see is the actual edge of the block and the red basted line is the STOP!!! line for beads for it is the seam line for assembly. I wish everyone would mark their STOP! line on their blocks....

I like to repeat and echo elements and colors. What I chose to repeat from the front of the block are the red "berries" and I've also repeated them on sections of the fan.

Since I have all these new threads I am trying them all along with my tiger tape which I love (Thanks Kerry) On this little fan so far I have used linen, silk, rayon, and cotton threads.. The rayon is pretty but I'm struggling with it as it wants to unravel. Silk is still my favorite for smooth stitching. The linen is fragile and will fray if the threads are too long. Of course the cotton is my standby for colors because I have a million skeins of the stuff...

We missed the bridge tournament yesterday unfortunately. I was speaking at the Washington State Sheep Producers convention in the morning and the time went waaaaaaaaaaaay over on the two speakers before me.. We knew it was going to be close.. But we're playing today...
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