Friday, May 30, 2008

The Earth is Fragile...

The stitching for the dragons is now complete. I thumbed through alphabet chart books for what seemed like hours the other night and just couldn't pick out a font that I liked for the lettering. The next morning I had the bright idea to go with the funky style letters of Helga Mandl. I added the little waves to represent water since I left out the dragon of water. So now it has the whole Earth, Air, Fire and Water theme. I have some dark green fabric that I plan to use as the border around it and make it into a wall hanging. I'm going to use this technique to make a pseudo quilt-sleeve and insert a wooden slat in the back for hanging: Quilt Sleeve Instructions

Feels good to have the stitching done. Now I'll move on to a Love Quilts Square for a Wild West-themed quilt.

Monday, May 26, 2008

One more cutie

I had a Duh! moment and had to make one more little doll to try out another technique for making the dolls. I'd forgotten that I could just make a fabric mat and sew the face behind the fabric, kind of a like a tuck pillow. Once that occurred to me, I had do a test. I used a Flemish crochet motif. The cross stitch face is by Sue Cook. And I added the beads around the face to dress her up a little. I like this method best so far. The pic is before stuffing so I could do a proper scan.

Down to the back-stitching on the 3rd dragon. I'll show a pic when that part is done.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Molly Snowbloom

One more cross-stitch cum crochet attempt. Not sure I'm happy with this one, but I think she may grow on you after a while (at least I hope so). I wanted to find a way to use the King of Siam motif and I thought of making a snowman of some sort. Turns out that motif was a bit big, so I crocheted another called 'Barnacle' with fewer rounds for the body. Then I did the cross-stitched face of Donna Vermillion's April Snowlady for the head. The sequins are used to hide the cross stitch edge. I think that next time I might try using waste canvas and do the cross stitching directly onto the backing fabric. But I'll give the doll-making a rest for now. I've just shipped off this one, with Bekka and Lea to be given out as comfort dolls. Time to return to the dragons.

Thanks again for all of your lovely comments. Looks like a great holiday week-end coming, weatherwise. I hope to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bekka the Funkette

Here's my first attempt to marry crochet and cross stitch. This is Bekka, a funky little thing. She's not ready for American Idol, but she has star quality and is destined for fame and fortune. The cross stitch is snipped from an Ursula Michael design called "Wild Dancing". The dress is my Bermuda Triangle motif. I added star-shaped sequins around her face, a few little beads for trim (including one in the belly button!) and a heart in each hand. I'll sew on a backing, stuff her, and send her off to Comfort Doll-land.

Friday, May 16, 2008

And then there were two..

Now I've finished two of the three dragons for my 'green' design. I added the Dragon of Air. Next I'll add the Dragon of Fire on the right. I'm still in the design stage for lettering and other embellishing. It reminds of when I used to take dance. The teachers always said it was the steps between the steps that could make or break the dance. I think that applies to stitching like this too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In the Pink

First, I'd like to thank everyone who has posted comments on my entries. I get such a kick out of seeing them and I very much appreciate your thoughts and the time you take to jot them down. I love looking at all your wonderful blogs, also. It's really a delight and the blogs are a wonderful source for new stitching ideas.

Here are my latest crochet 'doodles'. These are motifs from the book I got at the library last Saturday. They all have names, just like patchwork quilt squares.

These are called "Bermuda Triangle", "Blue Corner" (pay no mind that I used pink thread), and "King of Siam":

My ideas for using them are still percolating. I'm still planning some comfort dolls that are a combo of crochet and x-stitch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Floss ring fob

Sometimes I see a little design that just makes me want to drop everything and stitch it. That's what happened last weekend when I found the little flower pots on the Mary Engelbreit site. So I finished up a little floss ring fob. As so often happens, I kind of mis-judged the spacing and had to put the eyelet in the bottom where it wouldn't go through the stitching and wouldn't be too close to the seam. But I've never been accused of being a perfectionist.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday findings...

The sun finally re-appeared today just in time for the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival. This is an annual street fair that provides lots of opportunity for high-end shopping and gathering creative inspiration.

My favorite artist was Deborah Kracht of arthead studio. I bought a couple of her whimsical water-color magnets. Her booth was very popular and she was fun to talk to.

I also admired the work of Jeanne Goodman. She has a very clever technique of producing works in an impressionist style.

And of course, I had some mint chocolate chunk ice cream at the Ben & Jerry's stand.

Earlier in the day I stopped at the library and checked out what looks like a great book on crochet.
It's just overflowing with cool little lacy motifs for my simulated tatted look.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Old fashioned technique

I'm wondering if I'm one of the few remaining stitchers who adapts designs for cross stitching without using cross-stitch design software. In fact, I don't even really create a chart. Whenever I see artwork that I admire, like from an ad, a cartoon, a birthday card, a drawing, even a photo, I always stop and think if it's suitable for translation to cross stitch. I only do graphic style this way, no 3-d shading and I often make liberal use of 'sketchy' back stitch, the long stitches that can provide a clearer outline of the design. I only do this for my own use, so I don't worry about copyright issues.

I first use a program like Paint or a copy machine to re-size the design to be the finished size I want. Then I lay tracing paper over it and outline the basic shapes with as much or little detail as I plan to include in the stitching. I take the tracing paper and lay it over a piece of graph paper that has a grid with the same number of squares per inch as the stitches per inch on the fabric I plan to use. I select my colors and start stitching.

Here are a couple of small examples that I did this way a few years ago. Simple, but they did the trick when I couldn't find a professional chart with the theme I wanted:

No great skill required and it's a very handy trick I think.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

To a chocoholic...

You know you're a chocoholic when:
1) You subscribe to Chocolatier Magazine
2) The souvenirs you buy when on vacation are chocolates from the best chocolate shops
3) When you arrive at family dinners you are almost run over by the mob trying to get to the incredible chocolate concoction you have created and brought for dessert.

And for the chocoholic family member who fits that description, here is the birthday card I made:

To paraphrase Lizzie Kate, I know he could stop, but he's not a quitter. The card design is from a freebie that was on The Chart Shop at one time. I cut the paper shape using an old souvenir ashtray from a motel in Ocean City, MD as the template.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

One little dragon

Here's a pic of the dragon of hope, the centerpiece of my earth, wind, fire dragon design. I don't think the scan does justice to the fabric color. He's a cutie though, cradling the earth. And I like the way you can even see the continents outlined on the Atlantic ocean side of the world.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Baby blasts from the past

These are two old photos I scanned to see how that would work out. Both were taken long before I entered the digital age.

The first is a pillow I made in 1990 for the new son of my boss at the time. The baby was born on Halloween, two months early. He spent a fair amount of time in the preemie ward and the parents took this pillow to the hospital. I saw the boy who is now ready for college about a year ago at a party and he brought the pillow with him. I told him he didn't need to carry it everywhere he went. The haunted house design was from an old issue of Cross Quick magazine:

The second picture is a growth chart I made for a baby back in 1994. She was the first of four girls for these parents and I stitched an announcement of some kind for each child, but I have no pictures of the later ones. The design is by Lori Birmingham from an old Treasures in Needlework magazine.