Saturday, December 24, 2011

Assorted updates

I had neglected The Great Escape SAL for a while, but I'm all caught up. My scruffy owl, named Wol by the designer, is up to date now with full body and wings. He'll get owl feet in the new year I hope. These stitches are so hard to do well, especially on the higher count fabric I chose. I just have to think of my work as 'rustic' and not get uptight about it.

In a few spare moments, I crocheted a couple of coasters to use up leftover cotton yarns. I actually don't intend to use them as coasters. For me, they are the perfect size to use as a hot, wet compress over my eyes and nose when I get a sinus headache. Large enough to do the job and maybe avert the need to take any meds, but small enough to keep my hair from getting wet and frizzing up! I keep losing them when I do my laundry.. sacrifices to the drier gods. So I made a couple of new ones.

This pattern is called a snowflake coaster, although it does have eight vertices, not six, but who's counting?

And this is very standard type of flower coaster. There are only so many ways to make these with worsted weight yarn since you only get about four rounds before the item is too large for a coaster.

And now for some fun gifts that the mailman brought be lately.

First, my friend Wendy
sent me a beautiful tatted snowflake. You wouldn't believe how fine the threads are and how perfect every stitch is!

A very fun surprise package arrived from Michelle. Look at this great array of goodies. A gorgeous pin cushion with the cutest birdie ever, a lovely beaded fob with a sweet little ladybug on the end, some heart charms, plus beads, ribbons and floss from South African companies that I had never seen before. How lucky am I!

Annette sent a card with an adorable heart-felt (little wordplay there) ornament. We both agreed this will work right through Valentine's Day!

Finally, I was lucky enough to receive one of Nia's cute little felt mistletoe ornaments. Hoping this results in lots of holiday kisses!

Many thanks to all of these ladies for remembering me this way. And many thanks to all those who take time to stop by my blog. The stitching community is the best, yes?

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sewing Machine Cover & Village Update

My ancient sewing machine contracted a little problem with the hinge that attaches it to its cabinet. I had a nasty time one evening with the machine stuck half in and half out of the cabinet. Once I got it out, I decided to leave it out til I can figure out what to do about that hinge. That of course called for some kind of dust cover. I found this tutorial that looked reasonably easy and would probably fit my machine without any adjustment to the measurements. I had some blue fabric to use, but I was afraid it would not be heavy enough. Then I saw some bloggers who suggested adding a mid-weight fusible interfacing if using quilting cottons. I'm glad I took that advice.

This project was another stitcher-tunity to do a little embroidery. I found this cute drawing of a sewing machine (so I'll know what's under the cover I guess) and decided to use it. I was exhausted after holding the piece up to the window to trace it while standing up. My felt tip pen wasn't all that happy to write at that angle either. My fabric shifted some, so my result is bit more, shall we say, 'whimsical' than the original. I was too tired after tracing to pick colors, so I settled for all red, DMC 814. All in all, I'm happy with the result and I wouldn't hesitate to make more.

This is covering a Singer Touch 'n' Sew 648 that was a college graduation present from my mother about 1000 years ago.

The Birthday Village from San-Man Originals is just about done with only one more month to go. October brought a red barn with an array of pumpkins surrounding it. November is a bit scary with that giant turkey. I assumed the people are heading to Thanksgiving dinner, but maybe after staring that big fellow in the face, they are changing their minds and opting for the barn dance next door instead. A little re-charting of the people here as usual with this SAL to make them look a little more to my liking.

I have received some lovely stitchy gifts this past week and when we get a little sunshine, I'll take photos and show them off.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cottage Pinkeep Sampler Quilt

I was feeling a little down yesterday so I decided to employ a bit of stitch therapy and finish up another little art quilt for AAQI. A 'finish-finish' always lifts my spirits. This design is the Cottage Pinkeep Sampler by Deborah Thorpe of Midsummer Night Designs. Deborah has granted me permission to use her design for this purpose. It's stitched on 36 count linen from HDF. I love the sweet motifs and muted colors, but I thought it needed a bright border to set it off. Might be too bright for some tastes, but I love it.

My addled brain totally forgot to post the wonderful gifts I won from Carol's contest. I had already put the toys away in separate places when I remembered I hadn't taken a photo, so I gathered everything up today and took a picture to share. Funny thing, Carol also included some chocolate, but that is nowhere to be found at this point...hmmm? Anyway I just love the wonderful stitching bag that has a nice flat bottom so it stands up on it's own. Carol included a couple of lovely fat quarters and nice little journal. And the pièce de résistance is the sweet little pin cushion she made for me. It's stitched on black fabric.. something I could never hope to do and it's stuffed with the crushed walnut shells that are so popular these days. It's fun to hold and squish... could be marketed like worry beads I think! Thank you so much, Carol.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sea of Red, White and Blue Quilt

Finally found a block of time to finish up the Oakhaven Designs "Sea of Red, White, and Blue" sampler into a mini-quilt for AAQI. I picked up the blue and white fabric in a clearance bin of fat quarters at the fabric store. I almost left empty-handed before I noticed it and thought it was exactly what I wanted.

Also finished up Carol's iStitch SAL. The last part had personalization and I didn't want to add any monogram or date since I'm not sure how I will use this piece. So I found a little squirrel design to substitute in the lower right. It's a slight modification of the one in A Mon Ami Pierre's Six Mains sampler. And there was supposed to be a date in the block below the scissors, but I changed that motif a little to fill in the empty space. This was a fun SAL and a ton of work for Carol. I hope she knows we all appreciated her efforts and generosity.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brush with celebrity

Just a quick post today. Part of my Saturday morning ritual is to do the 'Second Glance' puzzle in the Washington Post magazine. If you don't know that puzzle, it consists of a photo and an altered copy of the same photo. You have to spot all the differences between the two. They get the photos to use from reader submissions.
My friends who collect refrigerator magnets submitted a photo that appears in this week's puzzle. If that wasn't surprising enough for me, one of my x-stitch refrigerator magnets is in the photo!

Click for Puzzle Photo

My magnet is the 'READ' one in the upper right corner. I made that years ago when their son (who took the picture) was just learning to read. He's a Jr. in high school now.

Cool, huh?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crochet Pincushion plus....

I love to make thread crochet motifs, but I really find it hard to find a way to use them. I only like to make one of any design...not into crocheted doilies, tablecloths and such. I was browsing for something else entirely when I found these gorgeous pincushions at this Etsy seller, Namolio. Not sure of the details on how she attaches the motifs, but I decided to make something on that order. I cut two felt circles, used blanket stitch to sew them together and stuffed them. Then I sewed my motif on top, just tacking at each of the eight vertices of this octagonal design. I did it in a hurry so the sewing was pretty sloppy, but as a proof of concept, I'm pleased.

I've been keeping up with the Great Escape SAL in the Stitch Specialits Yahoo group. You can see the model on the home page. Each installment uses a different embroidery stitch and some are quite tricky to do well. My stitches are not really very even and someone said my owl probably has ruffled feathers. I'll go along with that. We've had 4 installments so far and the owl is starting to look like an owl. The fabric I'm using is a light blue violet, not this harsh blue that my camera chose!

Another browsing around session brought me to a cute sampler I fell in love with. It's called 'A Sea of Red, White and Blue' by Tonia Pappan of Oakhaven designs. I've finished the stitching and hope to make it into an art quilt for AAQI. Just waiting for Tonia to grant permission. Don't you just love the little guy with the spyglass. Little does he know that giant bird is right behind him!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Altoid Tins

I started stitching little Halloween designs without knowing what I was going to do with them. When the first one turned out to be Altoid tin size, I made sure the rest were the right size too. I felt like an assembly line in a factory doing four of these at one time, but they are all done now and ready to give as little Halloween favors to members of my team at work.

The design that started it all is Boo House by Blue Ribbon Designs. This is in the 2011 JCS Halloween Ornament issue.

Next we have "Black Crow Lane" by Oak Haven Designs. You can find the chart here. I changed the wording since this will be for a colleague who works with maps and distance calculations. "As the crow flies" is a phrase we use all the time.

I thought this little "Acorn House" piece by Jeannette Douglas from the JCS Halloween Issue was cute and would be a real quickie. Didn't notice the over-one owl, cat and fence til I was part way through. Quite a task for me on 36 ct linen, but it came out quite nice, I think.

And finally, I stitched "Boo Tyme" by Homespun Elegance. This freebie is still available here. I added a little bit of color and I like the look.

For the inside, I used scrapbook paper and little felt cutouts. I'm going to put a little Halloween candy in each one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Seasonal Pantries & SAL Updates

AAQI has provided me with a new way to use all the designs I've saved up for the 'right occasion'. I never stitch anything twice, so when I really like something, I don't like to waste the stitching when I don't know how I'll use it. Am I the only one who does this? But the AAQI mini-quilts are perfect for those designs, especially since it doesn't seem like the 'right occasions' are ever going to come! Reminds me of how reluctant I am to wear new clothes until a special occasion comes along. Sometimes, those clothes hang in the closet un-worn until they completely go out of style!

So I decided to stitch up the seasonal pantry designs that Brooke Nolan offered to members of her Yahoo group some time ago and use them for a mini-quilt. Brooke graciously gave me permission to use the designs in this way. They are so beautiful, I just didn't have the heart to stitch them without a purpose. I used four different pieces of hand-dyed 18 count Aida. The amount of shrinkage was different on each so they aren't precisely the same size. But I don't ever stitch things up precisely anyway so not a problem. I used all cotton batting in this one. It's nice.. retains its loft when I press it and also stays in place without a lot of slip-sliding while I'm sewing it.

I added two months to the San-Man Birthday Village. We now have an LNS in town. Notice how it is the tallest building in the village, just as it should be! And you can buy a tasty apple snack on your way.

I'm up to date on the Carol's SAL too. The piece is small and the photo is even smaller. Carol wants to prevent people stitching from finished images and this is the best way I guess.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pumpkin Heads Altoid Tin

Donna from By the Bay Needleart offered the zaniest Halloween freebie ever in her latest newsletter. Who would expect this from a woman who usually designs such elegant waterfront landscapes? I was so taken with it that I had to stitch it right away. I had a perfect piece of hand-dyed aida from the good ole' days of Enchanted Fabric. Much more purple than the photos show. And as I was stitching it, I realized it would exactly fit on an Altoid tin top.

This Pumpkin Head Family is just so funny. Can't you just see the Mom thinking "Do these horizontal stripes make me look fat?". And the Dad is wondering how long they have to stay dressed up like this. The kid is saying, "Oh Dad, get with the program!".

The tin makes a perfect gift box to hold the Harry Potter beaded fob I won from Melanie. Melanie makes the cutest glass beads ever and I was so lucky to win this.

And the winner of the Blackbird Designs "Something Sweet" chart is Ms. Trillium! As soon as I get a snail mail address, I'll send it right out!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Something Sweet

Tropical storms make for rainy Saturdays indoors so I got a couple of stitchy things done yesterday.

I decided to test my new binding skills to create a little art quilt that I hope can be used by AAQI to raise money for Alzheimer's research. My friend Jane gave me the chart for "Something Sweet" by Blackbird Designs and I thought it was just the right subject. My Mom had Alzheimer's and flowers were one thing she could still appreciate right to the end. As usual, my finish is a little lop-sided, but it actually looks less so in person. I used the fast-finish triangles on the back to make an easy way to hang it.. just insert wood slats, a nail file, a straw.. whatever and hang from a nail on the wall.

I'd like to pass this chart on to someone who would like to stitch it. Just mention it in a comment if you are interested. I'll do a drawing if there are a number of stitchers interested and post the results in a week or so.

Part 2 of the iStitch SAL is now done as well. Since Carol added some letters, I thought I'd add another color to the mix. The intrigue is increasing!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Coaster with Mitered Binding

I know I wasn't made to be a quilter. Quilters have to measure precisely, cut precisely and seam precisely. I'm more of an eye-ball type of sewer. But, still, I wanted to see how difficult it would be to do a mitered binding so I could use that technique for finishing a cross-stitch wall hanging in a kind of art quilt fashion. I decided to do a practice run on a coaster. I had seen the logo for the UK Tea Guild and the graphic was easily adaptable to a quick stitchery design that was perfect for a coaster. After reading a ton of tutorials, I more or less followed this one. It didn't turn out perfect of course, but I thinks it's not too bad for a first attempt. Coasters work great for practicing.

On an impulse, I signed up to join Sew-Carol's Mystery SAL. It's an 8-parter, but very small size parts, so it will be easy to manage. I'm using 32 count bone lugana, with DMC color variations 4240, one-over-one. The first part is so small and dainty, it looks like it belongs in a doll house! I'm guessing it will turn out to be Miss Scarlett in the library with a lead pipe.