Friday, December 28, 2012

The Happy Couple & Hugs

I was so happy that all of my little quilts sold for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, that it inspired me to make more.  When I saw "The Happy Couple" that  Brooke Nolan designed for the Attic Needlework annual breast cancer research auction, I fell in love with it.  Just the sweetest celebration of the young, and albeit white-haired, George and Martha. Then when Brooke offered it for free on her site, I grabbed it and started stitching immediately, knowing this was a perfect piece for a little quilt.  I loved stitching this on a 32 count hand-dyed evenweave fabric I had in my stash, just DMC, no beads.  But there was a reluctance to do the finishing since I really wanted to preserve the circle and do some hand-embroidered seam treatment.  I was afraid I would ruin it in trying that!  Luckily, that part worked out reasonably well.  I used a feather stitch and colonial knot combination for the seam treatment. Circle is a bit wonky, but I never expected perfection on that score.

I had also taken a chance on ordering a walking foot for my ancient Singer sewing machine.  It was a third-party generic foot that was at a good price, so I figured I wouldn't be out much money if it didn't work.  Turned out to work like a charm and did make the sewing a little easier.    Not a perfect finish, but I am pretty happy with the result.

  I used the same technique for the label as I did for the "Tortoise and Hare" quilt.  Simple and effective.  I love having a little touch of embroidery.

The World of Charity Stitching group decided to do an 'Encouraging Words" quilt for a Sandy Hook Survivor.  I picked this ornament from the JCS 2011 ornament issue, changing the word from "Joy" to "Hugs".  The designer is Little by Little Designs, Inc.  I've become quite a fan of that choclate blueberry color combo.

A super surprise package arrived in the mail from Michelle.   She spoiled me with an adorable snowman ornament, a sweet pin pillow, a beautiful piece of raspberry-colored fabric, a couple of nice picture-frame insert cards and the most beautiful counting pins ever!  Thank you so much, Michelle.  I love it all!

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

10 Minute Pine Cone

Someone on the 123 Stitch message board asked about an interpretation of a French pattern for a crocheted pine cone. I googled around and found the pattern in English. I had no particular use for this, but I was so intrigued by the simplicity of the pattern, that I had to try it. In the time it takes for a coffee break, I crocheted this on some old acrylic yarn that, theoretically, should have been too soft to work well. But I think it turned out perfect. Unbelievable! Thought I would share this for any crocheters looking to make some quick last minute ornaments or package decorations. Find the pattern here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wrist warmers and lighthouses

It's about that time of year when I get the urge to knit or crochet.  Of course, since I do this so seldom, I feel like I have to re-learn all the little tips and tricks and I figured out last time.   I bought some chestnut colored Wool-Ease to play with and tried out a couple of fingerless glove patterns that I had saved some time ago.   The first is a knitted pattern called Malabrigo Hand Thingies that I used to practice the double-pointed needles knitting in the round.  Had to make three gloves to get two to fit, but these are really warm and snuggly.  They don't look much like the samples from knitters on Ravelry so I must have misinterpreted something in the way I did the slip stitch, but I'm happy with them all the same.

Next, I tried a crochet pattern that had been on my radar for a long time.  These are shell stitch wrist warmers by Drops. Kirsten first showed them to me, but the pattern was in German with a crochet diagram and I was too intimidated to try it.  The pattern has been translated to English now, and I am better at reading diagrams, so I gave it a shot.  It was still a bit difficult to understand, but I looked at the photos of finishes very closely and figured out what I couldn't follow from the directions.  After that, it was a breeze.  Crochet zips along so quickly that I finished these in no time.  Another very warm pair.    I might not keep both pair for myself, but I do like them both.

And not to neglect cross-stitch, I signed up to do a square for a lighthouse-themed quilt at World of Charity Cross Stitching.  The theme didn't appeal to me, but when I discovered I had a suitable design of just the right size in Sue Cook's "Wonderful Cross Stitch Collection" right on my bookshelf, I considered it an omen.  It's stitched on White Monaco.  I changed the blue sky background to half-cross stitch to make it go faster.  The effect of that is to make the lighthouses really pop.  Couldn't escape doing the porthole borders.  They were small at least.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vermillion Teacup & By The Bay SAL Bag

Back in the day, I just could not get my fill of Donna Vermillion designs.  I loved changing colors a billion times within a small space, doing loads of fractional stitches and adding just the right back-stitching to make a really realistic piece.  I still love the look and I still kind of enjoy stitching like that, but it now it just tires me out so fast!   The World of Charity Stitching is doing  a quilt with a teacup theme. Many of the members signed up to do one of the Vermillion teacups in Donna's current free series.  I knew if I chose one, it had to be a really colorful one.. 50 shades of white weren't going to cut it with me anymore.  So I did the poppies.  By the time I hit that third flower and final leaf, I was really ready to stop.  It isn't even that big, but it seemed like it took forever.  I must say, though,  I do love the results and I haven't tired of that part one bit!

And speaking of charity stitching, I'd like to say how happy I am about my contributions to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI).  I have made nine mini-quilts over the last year.  Three sold fairly quickly.  The remaining quilts languished on the sale page forever.  I stopped making them since I didn't want to burden the organization with quilts they couldn't sell.  In October, the group took about 2100 quilts to the Houston quilt show and sold about 1600 of them between Wednesday and Sunday earning about $75,000 for the cause.  I'm proud to say that all six of my remaining quilts sold as part of that effort!   You can see all of my quilts and how much they earned here.  This is such a great grass roots organization.  All the income from selling these quilts goes to fund research.  And  this group finds the worthy research projects.  They don't just pass the money onto some large organization.   I'm inspired to make more now!

I also finally finished the Autumn By The Bay Mystery SAL, just a bit late.  At least it's still autumn!
I decided to make this into a little cross-body sling bag.   It turned out pretty well, so this one will be a holiday gift.  I make these a little different every time, never quite finding the perfect way to do it.  This one mostly follows the Lazy Girl Runaround Bag pattern.  I add some iron-on interfacing to all the pieces to give it a little more heft.  I also leave really long tails on the straps inside the bag,  Then I sew those down by hand over the side seam allowances.  So no raw edges show inside on the sides.. only on the top and bottom seams that aren't so visible anyway.  Plus the straps are much more secure.  I think I really like this technique the best.  I've done another method that has no exposed seams in the lining. but it doesn't leave me a way to do those straps like this, so I think I prefer this method.  I think it's pretty cute and eye-catching.  Quite a conversation starter in the grocery store lines!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Heartbreak Hotel and The Traveling Bunny

The World Of Charity Stitching Group decided to do an Elvis-themed quilt after finding some interesting Elvis-printed fabric.  I wasn't planning to sign up for that one.  Seemed too complicated to find an appropriate pattern.  But they were short a couple of stitchers and no one had done anything for "Heartbreak Hotel", so I took it as a challenge.  I now have a ton of drawings and ideas for this theme.  But nothing that I wanted to stitch.  My drawings all required too many large one-color blocks for my taste.  I finally settled on an adaptation of the Charlotte's Web Needlework design, "For My Friends", from the 2006 JCS Ornament issue. My rendition kind of looks like a candy shop rather than a hotel.  That's why I had to stitch in the words at the top.  I changed the stylized tree in the front to a heart with a zig-zag crack... get it?   And there was a wreath on the front door that became a heart as well.  Doesn't look like the end of lonely street exactly, but I think it works.


 I've signed up for a number of those 'traveling patterns', but I was never lucky enough to get in on the fun until now.  Lee selected me as one of the next group to stitch "The Littles Bunny" by Bent Creek.
He arrived  safe and sound from  Gracie and he couldn't be cuter.  I stitched him in one night on tea-dyed Monaco.  He made a cute little card.  In real life the card is more cream-colored and looks a lot more impressive.    I used all DMC, but changed some of the colors and just did French knots for the middle of the flower instead of beads.  Stitchers have each added some little things to the package as it hops around the world... floss, beads, charms, fabric, needles, etc.  I'm adding a few goodies myself.  Since there are already three more stitchers on the list, I won't run a contest myself to choose the next one.  I'll leave that for a stitcher further down the list.  Next up is Lelia and the bunny will be hopping on the bunny trail to her house soon.

Lee also included a lovely little fob as a gift for me.  She comes up with such clever ideas and does a perfect job of stitching and finishing.  I could not find a way to show this photo in a vertical position.  Blogger drives me crazy these days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stitching Pretty

I love when I find stitcher-tunities to do feminine, pretty designs.  The last couple of weeks presented me with just the right occasions to use some.  The World of Charity Stitching group is doing a Fruits and Berries quilt (not sure why berries are different from fruits, but whatever).  Of course most people did a standard apple, pear, etc.  But I remembered this lovely Strawberry House design, "Maisonnette aux Fraise", from Le Chalet des Pérelles.  I added the top strawberry and roses to increase the size a little.  This was so much fun to stitch.  It's on 25-ct bone lugana over two.  So relaxing to work on lower count fabric and the design shows up nicely for a quilt square.

I have been invited to an engagement party for a cousin of mine.  Trying to figure out what kind of gift is appropriate to bring.  Not sure what the etiquette is for this.  But meanwhile, I made this card to go along with whatever gift I pick out.  This is one of the free Gift Of Stitching heart designs. This is done on linen and I used a little interfacing to stiffen it.  I think Aida really makes better cards.  I used DMC Ruby Red color variations and I think that worked out pretty well.    The color scheme might be a bit too patriotic for an engagement card, but so what.

Finally, I made this birthday card from another of  the little cuties from Le Chalet des Perelles.  This is  actually called "Un peu d'Amour et d'Amitié",  meaning "A little Love and Friendship". I wanted it to have more of a birthday greeting and I struggled to find a sentiment that was appropriate and would fit in the space.  But I think I succeeded.  This was on another piece of linen that was a little floppy for the card, but the old-fashioned feel worked well here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Halloween stuff & a finish for an oldie

After I finished that Hearty Craft quaker stocking ornament, I wondered if I could use the same process for an old Halloween ornament that I liked, but figured it was too difficult to get it to come out right.  The ornament is the Prairie Moon Spot Motif Shoe from the 2009 JCS Halloween ornament issue.  It was finished as a stuffed ornament in the magazine, but I wanted to go flat.  I also skipped the corded trim and went with an Antwerp Edging stitch.  It's like a standard buttonhole stitch, but has an extra little knot.  I wish I'd had black beads for the simulated buttons, but I just went with what I had.  Worked out pretty well I think, even with all the curves and angles.

Next I had the urge to do a little stitchery piece for Halloween. This is an adaptation of a rubber stamp design from Whipper Snapper designs.  I stitched it up on a piece of muslin and made it into a little pouch to hold some Halloween goodies.  Not exactly sure what will go inside or who will get the pouch.  It just looked like such a fun thing to make.

Finally, while I was searching for something in my totally unorganized stash, I discovered this piece I had stitched, probably 15-20 years ago.  I think it was in an old CS & CC magazine or maybe a Cross Quick issue.  I had cut the fabric too small and I couldn't frame it so I had just put it away.  When I discovered it, packed away for so long, I couldn't resist sewing it up into a little tool case.  Plenty of fabric for that.  This was too nice a design to keep hidden for so long.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Halloween Cards and Stocking Ornament

It's been a sad week here in the neighborhood.  The McDonald's closed!  That was our only remaining fast food burger place in the commercial district near my home.  I never went there a lot, but it sure was my security blanket.  A bathroom when my toilet wasn't working, a place to get coffee when my coffee maker failed, dinner during the derecho, excellent $1.00 plastic ice cream.  In the worst blizzard, I knew I could manage to at least crawl those two blocks. Some of those employees had worked there for years, and I sure hope they've found employment elsewhere. The lot is going to be redeveloped with new office space, and supposedly the McDonald's will return on the ground floor at the completion of the project in 2014.   I think I'll survive, but there will be an adjustment period. 

Three quick finishes to show on the stitching front.  Every time I see something adorable on a blog or Pinterest, I have to drop everything and stitch it up directly.  Especially since I can do a lot of the little ones right from the Nook without printing.

The first is a fabulous design by Erynne who has re-entered the blogging world as 'Stitcheree'.  She has generously shared some of her great designs with us.  This one is called Creepy Hollow and just begged to be stitched for a Halloween card.  I love that crazy moon and the little skulls on the house.  I re-worked it a little bit to replace the tombstone with a cauldron and I added a crow to balance out that side of the piece.  I had those eyelets for some time and the crop-a-dile turned them into quick embellishments.

I had printed out this little design by Maria del Valle at Alarttexx some time ago.   It was perfect for a circular cut-out to frame on a card.  A little bit of ribbon and a couple of stars was all I needed to touch it up.
This little quaker stocking design is from Zinaida at Hearty Craft.  I had it saved for a long time, but it just recently popped up on Pinterest and grabbed my attention.  This is  stitched on 35 count linen, a fairly loosely woven type so it was easy to sew up those curves and manipulate the fabric. I just used a little interfacing for stabilizer, but no added batting.  I sewed on a row of red beads along the top that don't show up all that well in the photo.  Super-quick finish and flat enough to mail in a regular envelope!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Expect a Miracle

Last night was the series finale of a summer documentary series on ABC-TV called NY Med.  It was a fascinating look into the workings of New York City hospitals, every bit as watchable as the old ER dramatic series that I was so fond of.   If you missed it and are interested, I think you can actually watch episodes online here.

The final show featured some patients with very serious medical conditions whose odds of survival were very slim.  In each case, the outcome was wildly successful, and the word 'miracle' seemed like an apt description of each.  I had to laugh after I thought of that, because I had been finishing up a piece of stitching with the title, "Expect a Miracle", as I watched.

This is a design by Gail Bussi from the June, 2009 issue of JCS.  It's a square for a World of Charity Stitching birdhouse-themed quilt .  Looks a bit different from the magazine photo since I used the DMC equivalents instead of the hand-dyeds.  And looks different in my photo than the real life verson.  I think I like my photo better than the real life one actually.  In any case, it was a fun stitch with pretty colors and very delicate.

Meanwhile,  Pumpkin  let me know that she received the little gift I made in honor of her latest miracle, Junior Pumpkin.  You can see photos of him on her blog.. just the cutest little guy ever.  The card design is an old Halloween motif from San-Man Originals.   Seemed perfect for this little newbie.  And I had those scrapbook overall brads around for a long time just waiting for the right project.


The birth sampler is the JBW French Country Pumpkin design, appropriate for the purpose, and not too girly for a boy.  I won that trimming fabric in a contest a couple of years ago, and I've been hoarding that too.  Glad to see my stash treasures finding a good home!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Time for Tea Zippered Pouch

One of my Jazzerbuddies took a pretty nasty fall during class a couple of weeks ago.  She has no idea how she lost her footing, but she went down during the cardio portion of the workout and broke her ankle in three places.  Required surgery no less.  Luckily our class is in the same building as the Rescue Squad and they gallantly carried her to the ambulance and whisked her to a nearby hospital.  I think the worst part for her is having to miss class for so long.  Meanwhile, as all good stitchers would do, I made a little stitchy gift for her.  The sampler for this little zippered case is from a freebie called "Tea Time"  and you can find the pdf on Echevette's blog.   My friend should have plenty of time for tea in the coming weeks.   This is stitched on 36 count Edinburgh linen (and re-stitched, and re-stitched due to excessive frogging I might add). 

These are the finishing fabrics I used.  The blue is the back side of the case and the  red is the lining:

Hope this brings a little cheer to an unfortunate situation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

By The Bay SAL Camera Pouch

Seems like my stitching and finishing go so slowly lately.  Part of it is just not being able to stitch for long periods anymore without my eyes getting too tired and part of it is the dreaded frog.  I always try to find away around mistakes without frogging, but sometimes the mistakes are just too egregious to deal with that way.  So I have a small piece in progress that is taking way too long and hopefully I'll show that when it's soon done.

In the meantime, I finally got the motivation to do something with my By The Bay Mystery Sal finish.   The stitching was finished a while ago and the fabrics have just been staring me in the face for too long.  This weekend I made a pouch for my camera using the same method that I used for my Nook Tablet pouch (tutorial).  This one fits its intended device much better.  Of course, I couldn't take a photo with the camera inside, but you'll get the idea.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unseasonal Holiday Cards

So it's not really the time of year for winter holiday stitching, but a few things made it seem appropriate.  First, the weather has been very hot and humid, so I thought if I stitched winter themes I could trick myself into feeling cooler.  That actually did not prove to be successful.  The AC is best for that.  Then the JCS ornament preview issue arrived with a couple of designs I couldn't resist stitching.  And finally,  the World of Charity Stitching Yahoo group started a July project to collect stitched cards to distribute to nursing homes in December.  I've been a member of that group for a while and finally found the time and right project for participating.
So here we have four stitched cards as a result.  I decided to try ribbon trim on these.  A very quick finishing technique and I was only in the mood for quick finishing.

The first is the Blue Ribbon Designs ornament from the JCS preview.  I think this is the cutest in the series so far.  I love the white owl, the bunny and those teeny birds.  


Next is the Full Circle ornament from the same magazine.  I changed the "Ho Ho Ho" to "Peace", but otherwise I don't think I changed anything.  I like the long, skinny shape. Works well on a card.


At long last, I stitched my first CEC Mitten design.  This was a freebie called the Mitten Mitten.  The chart was in black and white and I didn't have a color photo of the finish, so this was a mystery stitch.  I had no idea how the colors were going to mesh.  I don't think I would have chosen that particular green for the background, but at least all the other colors show up pretty well against it.  And not having enough contrast always bugs me.

And for the last in the series, we have one more Full Circle design from the 2011 JCS Ornament issue.  Such a little cutie.  I never got around to it last year.  The red ribbon has gold glitter on it that doesn't show up so well in the photo, but in real life I think it makes a nice border.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Altoid Tin, Pillowcase, Graduation Card

I'm one of those many victims of the East Coast surprise storm.   Limited electricity so I have a few lights and working power outlets.  But no AC, no hot water,  and no refrigeration (good bye  to my yogurt collection - staple of my life).   It's played havoc with my head and I spent a lot of time sleeping yesterday.  This morning I went out for the first time since the storm and got some shelf stable, ready to eat,  food to keep me going til the power returns.  But in in my good moments yesterday, I did finish a couple of projects.

I was a little late to the party, but when I saw this adorable design for a Sal by Manka Minta, I just had a desire to stitch it up immediately.  Manka was nice enough to send me the little chart even though it was past the deadline.   I decided to use it for an Altoid tin top to give to a stitcher friend whose son is getting married soon.  As a scissors case, it seemed like a nice small favor to commemorate the occasion.  I just love how many different color variations that the stitchers used for this piece.  Here's the gallery of finishes on Pinterest.

My cousin just received his Master's Degree from Stanford and I expect to be going to a Taco party for him next weekend.  I wouldn't dare try to pick out a gift for him so I'll give him a check tucked into this card I made.  This a part of the "Reach for the Stars" design by Barbara Ana.

Finally, one my bucket list items was to embroider a pillowcase.  Not the same as bungee jumping or seeing the top of Machu Picchu, but I have more moderate goals.  I bought two inexpensive white pillowcases from Sublime Stitching to work with.  This design was the illustration used for the 2011 Collaborative Summer Library Project.  I just re-worked it to create a line drawing for embroidery.  I did modify the little girl's hair to be a bit wilder than the original.