The final plan (sorta)

Everything now will be spontaneous placement.  The strawberries (ripe and unripe) and the beak will be stumpwork.. Shapes cut out of felt and then embroidered over.  The leaf shapes 1,2 & 3 will be satin stitched with Krienik threads and worked off block... The stems for the berries and leaves will be the same large cording I used around the bird.

Here is how the bird looked when I cut it out and pinned it in place.  I wanted  a blank space below the head and where the leaf curves up. The will act as a frame for the stolen fruit.  (see above photo)

The minute I pinned it on the block I knew I had made the right decision with the choice of fabric and leaving the metallic body unadorned.

I love using the larger cording when outlining something to be appliqued. I give it just the slightest roll outward and it pulls under any loose threads as I stitch it down..  I stitch almost all the way around and leave a small opening by the tail and then stuff it slightly with some batting.

I cut the leaf shapes from paper and pin them around until I am satisfied with them.  Then I can figure out the best placement for the strawberries.

If you look closely you can really see how much larger the braided cording is than the fine cording I used for the leaves... As I look at it now I realize I haven't used any of the gold braid in my stash.  I will try to incorporate some into my larger leaves...

Unfortunately I must dash into the shower and be off.  I'll be unable to stitch very little for 3-4 days.  It's a shame because I'm on a roll with this and could stitch nonstop for hours and hours..


Fool's Gold - Maire's RR block

I've finished the couched frilly leaves at the bottom of the block with 4 rows of gold cording..  I haven't beaded inside the leaves yet but you can see in the bottom photo how it will look..  I wasn't sure how if I want just a little beading along the stem or more all over side the leaf... So I stuck it in photoshop and tried it both ways..

I still have a few ends to trim and the loose ends  on the right will not be finished until I do the satin stitched leaf there...  I scanned the piece so the gold doesn't show up very well...

I'm doing the bird on a hoop the same as I do birds on felt.  So you can see that I did the same first step as always... a tight chain stitch all the way around...  Sometimes I run the cording along side the chain stitch but this time I am putting it right on top of the chain stitch.

The main feature on the bird was to be the jeweled wing which I did tonight..  At this point it is ready to cut out and applique on the block...

This is the thickest gold cording which I use...BUT it also the worst to finish as it does fray terribly. As you can see it is actually braided.  If I were doing it on felt I could poke a hole with an awl and put the end to the back.  But this metallic fabric is so fragile I don't dare poke a hole in it so I have solved the fraying ends in another way..

When I can tell where the cording is going to end I massage that section with a tiny bit of E6000 glue and as it dries I compress it with my fingers and then satin stitch the end and trim... You can see this technique where the cording on the head ends at the wing... Ordinarily I am hesitant to use glue on my projects but in some cases it does the job better than anything else.

The end on the right I will trim when I applique it on the block.


"I'll put it somewhere safe!" ..Sound familiar?

I'm always looking for something.. sometimes several somethings.  I know they're not lost because "I put them somewhere safe."  A couple weeks ago I actually was NOT looking for something.  It was such a rare occasion that I had to tell all my friends... Well it didn't last long.

Remember the antique brass door knobs I used as finials on two of the posts of my new railing....  ( I didn't show you how gorgeous they were when I polished them...).  I had two more knobs for the upper posts.

The upper posts were  6x6 and I had to order the black caps for them online. While I was waiting for the caps to come in the mail I wanted to put the other knobs "somewhere safe where I would remember them." and I did but I forgot....  So after the caps came I spent days and days searching for the knobs... Today I accidentally almost burned a batch of sour cream rolls and all that sugar made a mess of my baking sheet.  When I went back under the kitchen sink to get a super scrubber there were the knobs... I had put them in a ziplock bag and attached them with a rubber band to the can of "Brasso" cleaner.

What can I say...it seemed perfectly logical at the time.  So the lost is found except now I can't find the two wood caps that will hold the knobs............  Sigh.........................



It's hard to say which I enjoy more... the design stage or the important decisions stage... Decisions I make at this point are not reversible and sometimes I don't realize I made the wrong decision until the piece is done.. So I try to take great care in my choices at this point.

Last night it was the fabric for the bird..  The bird is the most important element on this block and since the entire block is all gold, to make the bird stand out requires "super" gold.  As I went through my gold fabric I narrowed it down to a yummy elegant gold silk, a glistening gold taffeta and a small piece of metallic gold woven fabric... The latter won hands down.  Unfortunately it not scan well...

It actually sparkles and glistens like the ribbon pictured.  I do not want to lose this quality so will experiment with stitches that don't overpower it.. But the wing will be jeweled.. I only had that one piece of that fabric...about 5x7".. barely big enough for the bird as you can see.. Since it is woven and frays easily, I have backed it with Allie's wonderful knitted interfacing which will allow me to work with it off block on a hoop... My plan is to slightly pad it when it is appliqued to the block..

If you look closely you can see I have basted the outline of the bird on the fabric. I transferred the design to the back of the block using my "cut-away transfer" method and then basted it so it is visible on the front. And I do ALL the basic steps that I do for my birds on felt. The first and MOST IMPORTANT step is outlining it with a tight chain stitch to prevent fraying...  The chain stitch in this instance will also act as a guide for the couched cording.


Couching....what works for me...

I struggled with the gold couching on my first goldwork block but now it is one of my favorite things to do because I have found what works for me... On this piece I find I like 4 rows of cording and am making headway.

First my fabric has to be taut on a hoop or the cording shifts until you have several rows stabilized..

(Red Dot)  when I start I leave a little tail.  It is much easier than trying to work the end in tight at the start.

(Arrows)  Then since I have a long piece of cording that could flop around and be hard to handle,,,  I create a "path" for it with pins....see arrows. They don't keep the cording solid.  It just passes under the pins and allow me to adjust the slack and the tension.  It's like having another hand.

(Asterisk)  When I am doing a double strip as I will for the veins on these leaves, I fold a piece in half and start at the fold and work the two pieces of cording as one....  MUCH easier than going up and back for a narrow strip.

(Circle)  I leave all beginning and ending tails loose until I am completely finished.  I can do a much tidier job of it when I am doing a bunch together rather than individually.  I do a satin stitch on the final 1/16" and then clip closely.

Since this piece is light colored brocade and silk I do not try to carry it about to work on it...

And in case you have forgotten this is the rough design for this block... Maire had asked for an interpretation of the Wm Morris "Strawberry Thief".


Hoffman Winners 2012

The winners are available at their site....  If you remember I made the announcement about this time last year that I was entering the 2012 Hoffman Challenge no matter what and I bought the fabric and coordinates with every good intention of doing just that......  But as things kept piling up in my life that was one of the first things to go...  Another was a  CQ project with my Victorian corset images...

The primary fabric is always such a large scale print and the rules say it has to be recognizable.  I find it hard to envision such large prints on an accessories project..or a garment.... So  yesterday I looked at the winners more closely with this in mind...  You can see they solved the problem by  cutting the large prints into very small pieces. To me this is kinda cheating because the fabric is only recognizable only because you see all its colors.. but they won so I can't argue with that solution.

The 1st place doll (on the left) only had one  piece of the primary fabric and in a unfinished state at that.  The second place is a doll by Patti LaValley who must win every year...  She only used the challenge fabrics on her fish and only on the tail and fins at that.

The accessories winners were almost all bags and the 1st place was crazy quilted.  I checked the traveling exhibits but didn't recognize any names from CQI this year..

I still want to enter this challenge but as I looked at the 2013 challenge fabric I wasn't excited by it.  I thought maybe if I chopped it all up into smaller pieces I might like it better....  I didn't !!

But on a positive note I still have the 2012 Hoffman fabric which would work great for my abandoned CQ project with corset images so next spring I can start that.  Also to go with the corset images and 2012 fabric I have some fabulous pastel silk ribbons I won from Carol Steemson's shop "Daisy's Garden"  which will also be perfect with such a project.


CQJP #8 - Morris in the Forest!

The nice thing about these Morris blocks are the colors are such that I can haul them here and there and not worry about staining them... and this block has been everywhere in the last few days and almost all of the work done waiting for someone.  This block will be one of my favorites in the series because of the story.

When Morris was only 6 months old we walked every day in the forest and he happily scampered about chasing rabbits and butterflies.  But one day he inadvertently scampered too close to a wild turkey sitting on her nest...  She rose like a phoenix with her wings spread a full 6' and screaming and screeching she charged  Morris...  who ran immediately between my legs.

Now even two years later  he still scampers about the forest but when we get near the "turkey" spot on the trail he walks right next to me until we are well past it...  When you lift the peek-a-boo you see.....

I found this great photo of a hen turkey in attack mode... You can just imagine what Morris felt with this coming at him!!

Pages #1-8


What do I have planned???

I was reading Freda's post about Harv's birthday and it reminded me that this weekend my stepdaughter wanted to know what I have planned for DH's 80th birthday which is rapidly approaching...  Actually nothing.... If money were no object, a transatlantic cruise would be ideal.   This is a picture from the only cruise we ever went on and it was so much fun..  But since money is a very big object I am going to have to fall back on my usual.. "Clever and Cheap"

I can guarantee though it will be nothing too strenuous as our high stepping days are past and it will be in the afternoon as we go to bed quite early.....  This picture was taken when he could still get his arm around my waist.  So I will have to give this some thought and make sure this milestone gets the proper attention and probably a small mountain of sour cream rolls......

This morning he reminded me he only has 3 left from the last batch...


Treasures from the barn...... again

I have a passion for shallow drawers and it doesn't get better than these.. I used these for years to store pressed flowers and they were perfect.  But I don't press flowers any more and they were just sitting in the barn..

They are vintage steel flat files for cards.... probably circa 1940s... I acquired them when the city library converted everything to computers and had a huge equipment sale..   Besides these I bought  another blueprint-size flat file... also steel and vintage...and I use it for beads now.

I moved these into the house yesterday and cleaned them up... The bottom one is 11" wide by 18" long and the upper is about 9"x 18".  The drawers are only about 1 1/2" deep. Being steel they are VERY heavy.

They are going to be my main storage for my favorite buttons so I can easily sort and choose..  I have made some temporary labels which will likely  change.  Now I have buttons in cabinets, bins, jars, and plastic bags in 4 different rooms and in the barn..

The nice thing about the drawers is that they fully extend so everything in them is accessible...

I thought about spray painting them but when I did a little research I discovered these cabinets are very collectible and quite expensive so I will keep them in their original condition.  You all know how I love finding YET another life for something languishing in the barn!!!

(I know my friend Connie K is drooling on her keyboard)


CQJP 7 "Who says Corgis aren't lap dogs"

It is generally written that Corgis are rather independent and aloof....not a good lap dog... Obviously Morris missed that chapter as he is definitely a "lap dog"

The "Do Not Disturb" sign is temporary until my new package of transfer fabrics come and I can print it in the same font as the blurb...  I'm really happy with the distribution of orange on the fabric...it moves the eye quite nicely around the block..

What to use for the "peek-a-boo" flap has been a problem as they tended to be too stiff, bulky, flimsy or difficult to work on.  But I have happened on the perfect solution... 2 or 3  layers of felt bonded together with "Heat and Bond"  I will go back and replace a couple now that I've found a solution I really like...

When you lift this "Do Not Disturb"  peek-a-boo flap here is the image you see.

I am actually working a little ahead of schedule and will be caught up by the end of the month..

Next block is "Morris in the Forest"

p.s. this photo was one of my alternate choices for  this block


Addressing a few problems and a few tips.

I know I cannot get my life back on track until I catch up with the CQJP so that is my priority for next week. If I get too far behind I know myself well enough that I will abandon the project all together. I hope to finish this one by Sunday evening...

I have one power strip of orange which needs to be repeated or echoed elsewhere... It won't take much as orange is so strong.

Also if you look at all the pink arrows you see that I have 4 ribbons approximately the same width and I need to address that problem..  First the seam treatment on the yellow visually breaks it up into squares (which echos the checks upper left.)  The rainbow ribbon has the stripes that makes it unique and it doesn't compete with the remaining orange and white ribbons..

One technique I use a LOT is layering ribbons and trims to change their shape...  Here the orange is divided immediately into two thin elements by layering a  strip of black on it.

The white ribbon can be expanded with another seam treatment.. On it I want to incorporate dots to echo the dots by the saying and the dots of all the puppy toes.

You can see just 3 buttons will are strong enough to balance out the orange...

One thing I REALLY want you to notice... a perfect example of two photos, one of which has had the color saturated and the other not...  It is especially apparent in the color of the fur on Morris.. This error happened by accident... I was so stressed with printer problems and only having one sheet of transfer paper left, I failed to catch that I had downloaded the unsaturated photo.... But it is an excellent example why you should be saturating the color in your photos.

Here the blocks are side by side .


CQJP - "Morris Loves Molly"

I thought I finished this block this morning but now that it's on the screen I see a couple areas that could use a little something more.. always happens..

Molly is a rescue dog and was five years old when we got here.  She is extremely nervous and high strung among her other issues.  She had never had a litter and we were more than a little nervous bringing a puppy home..

First she ignores him, then was irritated by him but then in a few days she went into "full mother mode" and became his constant guardian and companion.  She let him climb all over her, chew on her ears and lick her face and he is totally devoted to her.

The "Morris + Molly" heart is the peek-a-boo element and when you lift it up this is what you see...  Morris and Molly in a major snuggle.. Each "page" has a peek-a-boo element.  This will eventually be a fabric book...

The next block is "Morris the Mover" Here are the six so far....


Another confession

All my life I have loved liver...of any kind but my very favorite are chicken livers... dredged  in seasoned flour and cooked with sherry (or brandy), green onions, mushrooms, bacon and finished with a generous dollop of sour cream..  I always have a meal of this when DH is out of town because he would rather starve then have to look at (let alone eat)  a plate of it..

BUT whenever we are having a party or taking an appetizer to any event he immediately requests I make my famous (well sorta famous) pate which everyone, including him, raves about... Well he has never made the connection but you can guess that the pate is the very same chicken livers... dredged in seasoned flour and cooked with sherry (or brandy), green onions, mushrooms, bacon and finished with a generous dollop of sour cream AND THEN put in the food processor until smooth...

Here is my recipe but obviously you don't want a meal of this before you go in for a cholesterol check.

Sauteed Chicken Livers

1 lb chicken livers, cut in half & washed & patted dry
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
 1/4 cup seasoned flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh coarse ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chicken broth or 1 cup vegetable broth or 1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup  brandy or sherry wine, good quality
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
 chopped fresh parsley leaves, garnish
1/2 cup cooked bacon ( crispy & crumbled)

Dredge  livers with   flour seasoned with  salt and pepper
Saute chicken livers in 2 Tablespoons butter, 5 minutes or until brown but still pink inside.
Remove livers, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet.
Add other tablespoon butter, if necessary.
Saute mushrooms and green onions in drippings
 Add broth and brandy (or sherry) , bring to a boil and  reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid has reduced to about 1 cup
Add chicken livers and 1/2 sour cream and simmer about 3 additional minutes.
 Sprinkle with parsley and crisp bacon...

To serve as a pate process until smooth.  If you are making this ahead as a pate, put it into a ramekin and pour a layer of melted butter over the top to seal it until served. And don't tell my husband.


Goldwork design

This is about as finished as my designs get and I make changes as needed as I go along...  I did clarify the leaves in the corners on the right hand side and  clean up the area behind the tail. I tried to tighten up everything for the all-over Art Nouveau effect. I spent most of the the time fussing with the lettuce type foliage across the bottom..  I'm hoping though it's still open enough for the patches to show through....that's my plan anyway... I will share how I transfer this complex design..

As I looked closely at the Wm Morris design I was able to find a wealth of leaves and flowers to choose from. It's the blue that moved the eye through his work and when I thought I had identified all the flowers I noticed the teeny blue flowers that holds it all together.

I feel there is a strong kinship between Art Nouveau work and the heavily embellished crazy quilting I love to do...

Remember two years ago when I had wonderful Will?  Well I have had hired help this summer again... It is near impossible to find someone willing to do hard work and who I can afford.  Scott has been coming on Thursdays most of the summer.  He has helped me clean and dismantle all the lambing pens and sheep shelters, spray weeds, clean out the large greenhouse, repair fence, add a racoon barrier to chicken house, build the railing on the deck, and clean out the alfalfa area of the barn.

The worst mess was behind the barn which used to be a large area (approx 400 sq. ft) covered with lath where we stored and sold the young roses.. One year when we had about 8 ft of snow, it all came off the roof of the barn and crushed the lath area into a jumble of wood... He has dismantled all of it and now I can cut it up for fire wood... AND THEN we commenced to prune and prune and prune.  This is the third time our pile has been this big.  That is an 8' deer fence behind it. DH hauls it to the county's clean green center to be chipped and composted.   I am incredibly grateful for the help....

For you bird lovers: the conical shape in the willow behind the pile is a red-winged blackbird nest which is waving in the wind constantly..


The Last Goldwork Block.....

The one element that really defines goldwork for me is the couching so I wanted to focus on it in this last block... Also I wanted to include a bird which is always a favorite with me... Since Maire specified a Wm Morris design "Strawberry Thief" everything seems perfect.

On the left is a piece of fabric designed by Wm Morris. You see this design repeated on pottery, linens, draperies etc.  It is VERY Art Nouveau, elegant and best of all whimsical..

As I studied it last night I chose this section of the design to base my adaptation.  I want a lot more strawberries in my version... What is especially exciting for me are the blue leaves below the bird which just scream gold couching... So I will add more of those shapes also... besides I want this all-over look so typical of his work.

So I finished the evening with this rudimentary sketch and thinking about materials and technique..  finally deciding to do the bird off block. But haven't decided whether the bird will be gold fabric with beading or gold satin stitch...

Hopefully tonight I will have time to clean and simplify this drawing into my design for the block... As for transferring the design, it should be no problem if I do it in sections with my cutaway transfer method.

I do know how I want to do the foliage because I have this lovely vintage piece (a gift from Cathy K.) I brought home from CA last January... I adore this piece and have it by my desk where I see it every day..  It is very old and very fragile and much of the gilding has worn away...but it is one of my favorite treasures...

You can see the leaves are all outlined with three rows of couching with fine cording... This is exactly how I want to do the foliage on my piece.. Time consuming but worth it...


"Morris and his Farm Friends" finished

I've finally finished "Morris and his Farm Friends" which was my May CQJP piece.  I started and stopped so many times on this block that I seemed to lose my focus and where I was headed.. I may go back later and fiddle with it some more...

I should have really added a garden snake as one of Morris's friends.  They freeze still when he approaches and barks.  He never tries to catch them and seems mesmerized by them.

  I had   wanted a "peek-a-boo" feature for the rabbit with just the tail and ears showing. I'm still undecided between a sun or a sunflower. At this point the sun is winning out.

Now I can start on June "Morris loves Molly".   It will have very few french knots.... I can guarantee that for sure...but it will have lots of hearts and I'm in the mood for seams after all the french knots.

I can also start thinking about Maire's goldwork block which I was saving so I didn't have to hurry but I don't have a design as yet.. She wanted "The strawberry thief" by Wm Morris as the inspiration and I remember looking at several pieces of his wallpapers that used this theme.  Today is a "free at-home day" for me and I will google  it. I've been waiting all week for this day of no commitments... I will shut the gate on the driveway and not answer the phone...


An iris, a frog and a dog.....

I did get the iris done and I like it...  I don't have them on Etsy yet but maybe tomorrow. I know iris come in lots of colors but the old-fashioned purples are my favorite.

The frog was just fun... I didn't want him too cartoony.. Just ugly enough you'd think twice about kissing him and of course he had to have a crown..  Once I have an idea I usually work on 5 buttons at a time... More than that is tedious and boring.. and less I'm always waiting for paint to dry...5 is the magic number.  But there is never really a pattern and each button is drawn separately with brush so they are all slightly different... As you can see here the frog on the right had more than his share of flies...which must be very fattening.

When I color boosted the photo of Morris I was able to get a really nice dark black when I printed it on the poplin... but the green of the vetch became almost neon.  Since I want to incorporate the image into the rest of the elements of the block, I used a small brush and Adirondack inks to tone down the green...I did it before the paper backing was removed and worked slowly and carefully so not to let the ink wick into the white on Morris.

I did a post in May on incorporating your image rather than framing it...  I also did a longer article in Pat's magazine..  Try it...it's fun.... http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2009/05/incorporating-silkie-into-block.html

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