Carole Samples debuts as Morris's benevolent angel.

For my March CQJP Miss Carole Samples debuts as Morris's benevolent angel.   Anyone reading my blog for a while will remember when Morris chewed up my absolute favorite Carole template #23.  For days every time I looked at him I said "BAD DOG!!!!"  As it turned out Miss Carole read my blog and took pity on Morris and wished him to be out of the bad dog house.  She truly became his benevolent angel and sent a replacement for my favorite template #23

So on the block, as well as in life. Morris's angel has a cloud with a silver lining to come to his rescue.  Her cloud is a lift-up peek-a-boo and reveals the new template en route.   I still have the mangled template and it will be attached when I make these blocks into a book...

So here are all three so far....


Move-In Day for Needles....

From its inception I had planned this needle book to be a companion piece for my stitch journal and don't they look as compatible as two peas in a pod..?

I worked on it yesterday when my "CQ stitchers in training" were here, throughout the evening and  started again about 5:30am to finish...

Since the needle book is quite small, all the laces used on it were in proportion...very fine and delicate indeed.  The ones we keep in our special stash....

Just a few this things to note.  The rose on the cover is silk fabric and about 3/4" thick and very  dense.  I intend to use it as a pin cushion for threaded needles.  I followed the directions fairly closely in Susan's class but because of the lace, I didn't sew the outside and lining   right-sides together and turn.  I pressed the seam allowances back and hand stitched them together...  This allowed me to use  a very heavy interfacing rather than card stock and sew  my pages in before I added the outside..

Instead of a tie to knot for closure on things such as this, I prefer to use elastic cording and a vintage metal button... It  makes me think of boot buttons and button hooks... I've always used the gold elastic cording they sell for gift wrapping and it would have been my first choice here but, alas, I was out so used white elastic cording.

To attach the elastic cording I first do the ends with this super knot I first learned in a Robin Atkins class  and Sharon B. also taught it in her class last Sept.  I'm sure it has a name but if I knew it I forgot.  It's perfect for finishing cording and gimp with no fraying and can be added to the outside of the piece.
Now a quick look at the interior and then I'll go off to actually add my needles... Thanks so much for following the journey of my precious little needle book...  And a HUGE thanks to Susan Elliott for instigating this project.


My awakening.....

I am obsessed with wonderful embroidery scissors and have several gorgeous (and expensive) pairs. I have a couple antique sterling needle cases, an antique pearl-handled awl and many special hemostats etc... I do have several needle books which I use all the time but I stick needles and pins at random in them and their main focal point is the scissor holder. 

It wasn't until Susan Elliott did her post   on how the Japanese pay respect to their important tools that I realized  how cavalier I was about the lowly needle.. They were dispensable and I'd just open a pack and grab another.  I then realized that a needle is the most important tool in my entire life.  I have favorite garden tools I want buried with me...  I have a huge chef's knife my dad gave to me 50 years ago that I treasure.. but as a tool I had given little thought to all the tiny needles I've used.  So this little needle book is my way of rectifying this horrific oversight on my part.  It is my way of honoring all the needles I've used and discarded over the last 66 years.

So last night I started laying out the laces... I fuss and stew about the foundation layer and then proceed to bury it with the other laces.... but I'm making progress.  I love this little image because she looks about seven years old and I was that age when I embroidered my first set of dishtowels which had puppies and the days of the week on them.


I used every spare minute I had yesterday to work on the inside of my needlebook... It was always like 15 minutes intervals when I needed a little "sit-down" but I  got a lot done.  That is what I LOVE about my tiny work table by the window in the living room.  It is so conducive to short bits of work.

I have the lining done and you can see I have changed my choice of lace and also changed the little pocket to silk from felt. And of course I couldn't resist adding some gold cording.  It's ready now for a good pressing.

As it turned out I didn't have enough of the teeny-tiny tatting to go completely around the labels so they all got a little "crown".  This is the smallest bit of lace I have.  It is only about 1/32" wide and I have hoarded it forever for something special for me and this was it.

It's the little things that add a special touch and for me it was the fact these  precious labels were woven ...not printed.  In fact I went back this morning and ordered Susan's last set so I would have them for another book for a gift...

I chose to sort my pages by "use" rather than "alphabetical"..  So they start with embroidery and then beading, milliners, sharps, crewel, tapestry, quilting,  etc.

I have been been cleaning and getting ready for DH's big party today..  Years ago he took a fondue class at the community college and each year he throws a major "fondue event"... which requires more planning, work, mess, and supplies than a major theatrical production.. And that is just the fondue part.  I do all the rest including the dinner later which will be rather simple... seafood risotto and a green salad with strawberries over ice cream for dessert.


Needlebook Progress

I had hoped to have yesterday and today to work on it but yesterday was occupied toting my mother all day.... But I got a good start today...  I love the colors..  I see a problem putting the lace on the front cover and may have to make a few changes.

Hand work for later this evening and of course I'll have to add a bit of gold... I don't see me using the little pocket for scissors but definitely for a needle threader..  If the shape seems wrong it is because I cut it a bit larger and will trim it to size when all is attached.

The directions called for just sewing these lovely woven labels down.... but always having to do things my way, I decided to attach them to grosgrain ribbon first, then sew them down, and finally edge them with the teeniest, tiny  tatted lace if I can find it... I like the idea of them all having a little frame...

I am so excited about this little needle book...and so glad Susan Elliott put it out there...


New Project and Bad News!

Now that the peacock is finished I want to tuck in a small but long delayed project.... my little needle book for Susan Elliott's class.  I wanted to use this lovely stripe for the lining and not all of the felt I ordered from Susan worked with it so I ordered a piece called "cinnamon" from another vendor to add to it. And it took about 12 days to arrive... But it is the perfect color... Also since I want this needle book to be a companion piece to my stitch journal I have gathered lots of laces.  It is a small piece so the laces are very fine..  I'm anxious to get started on it...  Now that was my good news.....

The bad news is Morris tried to make a new friend last night and he came in with a nose and mouth full of quills... I'm only hoping that it was painful enough he will stay clear of the next porcupine...  But since Morris has a propensity to court disaster at least 2 or 3 times in a row, I can only cross my fingers and hope.

Also the next news is mixed....bad because it is officially spring and my daffodils are up.....but good because I am forced to stay indoors and stitch... We had another 4" last night and it is snowing hard this morning.


My golden peacock is finished!

This RR was a special personal challenge and every block has been an adventure in searching for new ways to explore with inexpensive gold materials..  This block is finished and I've used
7 different gold braids
2 kinds of gold cording
At least a dozen different kinds of gold  glass and metal beads
5 different kinds of gold threads
various gold buttons
4 kinds of pearl beads
sequins and crystals

In the process I've fallen in love with the Kreinik metallic threads.  I was nervous about using it to do bullion stitches for the feet but it was great. I tried felt padding and top stitching over laid cording....both new techniques for me.

The funky leaves are actually gold metal hearts I've saved forever to use as leaves...  Also I replaced the patch that was fraying.


Progress and a couple problems...

I have run into a couple problems that needed decisions before I do much more.... and right now the piece is being blocked and stretched. before I continue... two feathers to go...

First there is the issue of the tree branch which I REALLY want as I don't want my peacock floating in the  air and I want to use my beautiful gold metal leaves as well.  If I do the branch in gold it will look like it is growing out of the peacock....horizontal feathers of a sort.   I have a Kreinik thread called gold coin I could use as it has some black in it... The other option is to use the metallic copper Kreinik thread I used to top stitch the back... Wendy specifically ask for colors limited to the block colors but sometimes you have to go with your instincts...so copper metallic it will be. Since the antique gold beads have a copperish tinge to them, it should all work well...

The second is a little more serious.  The seam of the white patch of satin has started to unravel...  If this were an ordinary CQ block, a little trim or seam treatment would be just the thing....  In fact that happens often with fancy fabric..  But in this case I need to do something else.  I will not disturb the patch that is unraveling but instead pick out and replace entirely the patch with the X on it with a slight larger patch...


And the peacock has a partial tail...............

I'm sorry that the antique gold beads look brown in the photo .... next time I'll try shooting it outdoors... I'm getting to use my gold braids...

I did do the grid on the back with contrasting thread and I also padded the largest feather with felt and it did give a great effect but as I start beading it wasn't as effective so I only did that one feather.  I will try it again on another block in this RR.

Another artist in the family and new pincushion kits

I couldn't resist adding this photo of my youngest granddaughter Skylar...She might be dyeing lace and I've added some new pincushion kits to my Etsy site....


Pretty Peacock

Well I've started and have a definite plan... So far the head and neck is satin stitch with gold DMC.  Obviously the wing is beads and sequins and the back is couched cording.  The mini sequins in the wing were a gift from Susie Wolfe and they are the perfect color..

I am using my rustic gold cording and it is working just as I had hoped.. It is a little bulky but I think it will be fine when finished...  As usual I transferred my design to the BACK of the block and basted around it.  I usually use a fairly neutral color but I wanted it to show up in photos so I used a dark wine thread for the basting.

There are some specific goldwork techniques I want to try on this particular block...  The first is called "laid" work and a design is worked over stitching or cording.  I want to do it over the cording on the back of the peacock...

The next thing I want to try is "felt padding" which will give a raised look to the tail feathers.  Some of the goldwork I've seen in books cover the padding with a kid leather but I will be trying several things from my stash of cheap stuff.

Cathy L. had a pertinent comment on the last post:

"Aha...good technique if you are good with paper and pencil...what about if you can't draw at all...not even a good stick figure?"

My reply to her was not to use the paper and pencil step.  Just play with paper cutouts until you find something you like that fits you space...clean it up a bit and use it...  No drawing necessary.  Often that is the last step for me also...


Finished peacock design

The next step after playing around with the cutout pieces is actually using a pencil and paper and here is what I have ended up with... Since it's a small block (6") and I want the tail to be the focal point the best way to do that is to make the head smaller...  I've mentioned this before..  When you you have two elements competing for attention.. You can either make one larger OR one smaller.. It would be impossible to make the tail any larger so the obvious solution was to make the head smaller.
This is a very handy tip to stick in youe bag of tricks... I chose to put him in a tree because the lovely peacock visitor I had  was always in our apple tree if he wasn't preening in front of the slider....

I mentioned yesterday I had a specific cord in mind and I allowed an ample space for it in the design..  I've had it forever and it's a woven cording with a gold thread.  To me it has kind of a rustic quality and I have used it often in my work...  it's a favorite of mine...  I also want to use gold bugle beads and braids and maybe give a try on the back using a woven design... maybe!
And some great gold metal leaves...

So if you read my blog yesterday on using cutouts you can see how I got from cutouts to an actual design...  Since this is quite a complex design it will be perfect example to show you step-by-step how easy it is to transfer to my block with my cut-away transfer method. 

Remember this will be ALL gold but as I often repeat designs I like in different ways, this will be one that has to be done in peacock colors some day...


Tip on adapting a design to fit your space.

Wendy's blocks arrived and she has asked for a peacock theme and her block is six inches square...  I wanted to do a whole peacock which really lends itself to a rectangular space such as at the left...

I had already gathered lots of peacock images a couple years ago when I was working on my challenge block so it was easy to go to that file for inspiration.

Usually when you see peacocks in a square format,  they are either in a "tails up" position or are very stylized such as art nouveau or Jacobean.. 

I had some criteria in mind... First for materials I have a rather rustic gold cording that I hope to use for this block and so the design has to accommodate that.  I want to focus more on the tail than the rest of the bird and it has to fit in a square....

Something such as this is leaning towards what I am thinking...  The tail is bold and simple enough for cording but I am not crazy about the general design.... so I get out my scissors and print several copies of the image and cut it into puzzle pieces... and start playing around...

I'll cut out the head and neck, the body, and the tail and start arranging them and rearranging them until I see something  that brings a spark and will fit in a square format...

Something like this....  I use paper cut outs a LOT in my crazy quilt work.... most often when I am testing the size of design...

So if you have a design you like but it is not the right shape, rather than spend a lot of time with pencil and eraser......cut it up and arrange it to please you.

And speaking of peacocks, remember a while back when I posted pictures of my neighbor's peacock who escaped and lived at our house for about a week... Here he is by the door to the barn...  He loved all the glass doors where he could see his reflection.  He   was growing in his new plumage.  There is so much focus on their tails that you don't realize how huge their bodies are.


Flora's block done and the 2 Moons

I finished the stumpwork bee and used Kreinik HL black and  DMC gold to make it.  I also heavily beaded the circle of braid.  It's a good companion piece for the first block... I was really inspired by the beautiful beading which Janet did on Flora's block.

Last night was a spectacular moon...  It was just huge coming up in the east and I took this at dusk...

And at 5am it was setting in the west and it was actually this color.. so I was standing in my night clothes in the pasture to get the picture...  I had never seen the moon this color...

Coming in from the evening shot I fell on my face literally!!! Came in with a bloody nose and split lip and slept with an ice pack... and was up at 5am to take some Tylenol...  I have to be the clumsiest person in the world.. I am on the ground before I even realize I'm falling.


Goldwork progress on Flora's block

I've been stealing stitching time in the car and while waiting for appts. etc.  It's amazing what 15-20 minutes here and there adds up to...  I carry a cheap folding TV tray in my car trunk so I can bead anywhere...

I'm using beads, braid, and cording so far...  I plan to do a gold and black stumpwork bee where the little X is.

And the farm report is that all the snow is gone except behind the barn and it was beautiful today but down to 16 degrees tonite.  This gorgeous sunset was the view from my kitchen window last night..

And this morning one of my many hawks was using my gatepost for a lookout..  This is a sharp-shinned hawk who are wizards at skimming in among the trees and live mostly on gophers and field mice. We have mainly the sharp-shinned, the red tail and the Cooper's hawk.  They are territorial and are here year round.


A conundrum? Flora's block

Have you ever discovered you have been doing something forever and not sure why? This was the case when Flora's block arrived.  It seems that all 6" blocks arrive with a 6" image area and at least a 1" seam allowance....which makes it actually an 8" block...  Has this been just assumed or has it actually been been defined?  Flora's block is just a tad over 6" to begin with..

So when I turn it over to put my design on it and factor in a seam allowance, the actual image area has shrunk to about 4 1/2". Since Flora is a relatively new member, I'm wondering if there has ever been specifications written about the size of the image area on the 6" block and maybe there has and I've been doing it wrong...  A problem for Kerry to solve. 

It is easy to solve for Flora's block by reducing the size of my design but still something that should be addressed...  The design then was basted through to the front.  I ALWAYS baste in the seam allowance line to ensure that no beading or anything of any weight strays unintentionally into the seam allowance area.

When I am going to do a LOT of satin stitching I put these blocks on a small hoop. And I do mean a small hoop... I can handle up to about 6" but any hoop larger than that is too difficult with my bad arm.  But the edge has a little fraying and I'm nervous about stretching it. So I mount it on a piece of cotton sheeting... I just lay the block on an entire square and sew a double line around the block.

Then I turn it over and cut away the sheeting over the design area leaving a good allowance along the edge.  When I finish the block I will remove the sheeting before I send it along.

I'm sending out Kerry's block to Arlene in Australia today and I scanned it instead of photographing it and it does make a difference... The gold color shows much better and the color of the flower is true.  She asked for "antique" or "aged" soft color.  I basted around the image area which is actually 6" and there was a generous 1" seam allowance.

I used the same technique as above.  I attaching it to sheeting so it would fit into a small hoop and then cut away the sheeting when it was finished...


March CQJP progress

I have a good start on this block and wanted to get Miss Carole's cloud and halo finished before I took a break but since Flora's blocks arrived today I will get right at them... I love to keep RRs moving.

But Morris's "bad dog" house is finished with it's rainbow garden and rainbow shingles...
I'm still working on upper right seam but the one upper left is done..

And speaking of himself.....

Occasionally (well quite often) DH will lean back on the couch for a little nap after dinner... Morris considers that his signal to position himself on DH's shoulder and "tuck" in for a little nap also...
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