Tuesday, September 28, 2010

longing to get into the studio to play

my friend from California sent me this picture

it was in an advertisement she got for a magazine, and she thought I'd enjoy seeing it


and of course I'm right away thinking about the Out of Africa series that I have started and want to get back to

soon -- I hope

today we head off to our daughter's who is letting us use her house as a "crash pad" of sorts while I do the charity auction final details -- then the auction is on Saturday evening -- and we're DONE!

while we're there I will also be taking my boutique items to the store in Fort Collins -- I thought it would be good to do that without making an extra trip

so right now the "staging area" around the front door looks like we're running away from home with the boxes for the boutique and the boxes for the auction plus whatever the two of us and the dog need in a week --

I started quilting on the baby quilt last night -- I've decided on a very basic cross hatch quilting pattern -- the new Sulky thread I got yesterday (in a bright sunny yellow) is nice -- slides through the fabric and the bamboo/cotton batting like a hot knife through butter -- and I think my stitches look smaller than my usual -- cool

the quilt and the "hats for fencing" knitting are going with me -- and on Sunday my daughter and I will work on baby shower invitations -- fun

time to pack up the computer!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Asher's quilt

it seems I've created my own sort of "worshiping at the church of the last minute" -- but in my defense, it's not entirely my fault

about 10 days ago I set myself a deadline to have this quilt top finished and pinned with the batting and back so I can take it with me to my daughter's when we leave tomorrow morning

I did not expect the adventure of redesigning the "map" -- or that even after I did that there would be some additional design "tweeking" before the top was actually all stitched together

but I accomplished that yesterday afternoon (in the picture here it's laying on the floor of my studio)

after that was accomplished, we moved on to the "sandwiching"

the batt I bought for this quilt is 50% cotton and 50% bamboo -- thin enough that I'll be able to quilt through it, but it will be warm and durable (keep in mind I make this kind of quilt with the idea that it be used and washed over and over)

I've never worked with this kind of batting, and the "cling" factor was a huge surprise -- usually this stage of the quilt building is something I can handle by myself on the table, but not this one -- there was a considerable amount of smoothing and lifting and re-smoothing -- I rolled the top wrong side out around one of those foam pool toys so I could slowly roll it out over the batting

the up side of all that struggle is that it's not going to slip around while I'm quilting it! so I did the pinning a little further apart than I usually do

today I'll be taking it to my local fabric store to pick the thread I'll quilt with -- the blues I have don't match the back and the yellow I have doesn't match the front -- one or the other has to work, so off we'll go

but it's all ready to quilt now

after all that quilt struggle, I needed something more mindless

behold, the final pair of mittens all complete

and I started the first of the hats last night too

looking good

time to get to the laundry and packing

Sunday, September 26, 2010

alpacas and quilt blocks

these are about the cutest little critters I've seen in a long time!

we went out to the Alpaca Round up yesterday afternoon

there were several alpaca ranchers there with their trailers all circled up with the pens set up at the back of each trailer and the little cuties in the pens

some of these shots are of alpacas that belong to a ranch called Two Toe (which is way cool since these little camilids are bi-peds) and the others belong to Black Forest Alpacas

alpacas are gentle, relatively small -- about 36 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh about 150 pounds when they are full grown -- think large tall dog! -- don't need a lot of space, live for about 20 years and are easy to take care of

if we were some place that allowed it, I might think about owning a couple of these beauties (they are herd animals and don't do well in singles -- they need a companion)

and why would someone want one?


fiber is good for you -- this kind of fiber is warm, soft, almost totally non-allergenic and comes in a couple dozen natural colors as well as taking a dye well

unlike sheep there is no lanolin in it, so you can basically sheer the alpaca, pick it, card it, spin it -- you don't have to scour it

it shares some characteristics with the polar bear in that the individual hairs are hollow -- making it very good as insulation

I'm thinking about making these two skeins of yarn into something for me -- perhaps a hat

the bottom skein is a very pale fawn color -- the top one is a two color ply -- one ply is a natural brown, the other is a white that the spinner dyed with koolaid and then plyed -- love it!

and there is this loveliness

this is the very first sheering off of a white cria (baby alpaca)

there are about 4 ounces here -- yes, it fills a whole plastic grocery bag!

I want to use this for doing some needle felting -- along with some of the Jacob Sheep fleece I have -- to make a hat

this is a piece of Raku pottery

shaped like an alpaca

the lady at Two Toes, where I got the fleece, also "dabbles" in pottery

heh, why is it that so many of us that like one art form also "dabble" in many others?

I think it's that wanting to know how it works thing -- and in my case -- the getting bored easy factor -- "ok, I know how to do that, let's learn something new!"
I got to this project sooner than I thought I would!

after our little excursion out to visit with the alpacas, I started working on setting together the top of the quilt

this is one of those times when I'm really happy to have a cutting table, my ironing board and the sewing machine all set up in the same room -- and that I actually do know some of those piecer's rules about careful cutting and seam size

I'm hoping to have all of this top stitched together today

one more mitten knit

one more mitten to go



Saturday, September 25, 2010

the final quilt block

for the baby quilt is finished!!

so I was all ready to just start whacking up the yellow fabric, stripping this thing together

not so fast there

the pieces wouldn't ACTUALLY fit the way the "fantasy map" I had been working on looked like they would fit

see that word "FANTASY" -- heh, right

so yesterday I pulled out the graph paper and carefully measured the ACTUAL size of each and every block and cut out all the little pieces from one sheet of graph paper then rearranged them on a second sheet (actually two sheets taped together) and figured out a new map

this "fantasy" map then is the way these will really fit -- so today I can start cutting the 2 1/2 inch strips with the occasional 3x3 inch square, etc., and start putting the whole top together

yup, I may get this all ready by Tuesday morning

the second of the navy blue mittens is all finished

we are now 75% through the mitten knittin'

I'll be packing up enough yarn to make the hats when I put my project bag together for my trip

oh yes, I also have the ribbing all finished on the first of the cobalt blue pair too

one of the reasons we grow a garden is that we eat a lot of tomatoes

during the summer we eat them fresh

in the winter they become pasta sauce and chili and soup

so we planted a lot of tomato plants this year and they've done pretty well

this is the second batch of canning -- 2 quarts and 6 pints of tomatoes all shiny and ready for me to wash off the bottles and label the tops then carry them down to the food storage shelves

got to love the pinging of jars sealing!!

today we're taking a little excursion out to the alpaca roundup -- this should be fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nothing to see here....

that's largely because I spent most of yesterday working on the boring, mundane part of doing a show --- tagging and pricing

there are now two cardboard boxes sitting in the dining room that are all packed and ready to go to the store for the Holiday Show -- I'm real happy to have that finished!

work is still in progress on the Charity Auction, but I'm quickly coming to the end of being able to do much but pack up those items too

amazingly, I'm actually going to be able to go to my applique quilt group this morning without feeling like I should be at home working on something -- after all, I can work on that very last block for the baby quilt at group -- and since I want to spend my studio time on Sunday putting the top together and getting it ready to quilt, that is actually an important thing to do

and tomorrow we're going up to Black Forest and visit the Alpaca Roundup -- I'm hoping to find a contact with a spinner who would be willing to turn part of a Jacob's Sheep fleece into yarn for me (hopefully at a price I can afford!) -- yesterday when we were in the hardware store I had a nice conversation with one of the alpaca ranchers that will be up there -- she has 100 of those adorable soft creatures -- mmmmm, alpaca --- sooooooo soft -- I'm hoping to capture some pictures when we go

meantime, last night I got almost all of the second navy mitten knit -- I'm ready to start the decreases for the finger tips, so that should definitely be finished tonight -- YIPPEE -- only one more pair to go, then it's on to the hats!!

time to go grab some breakfast and get headed out to my meeting

Thursday, September 23, 2010

just sitting around eating bonbons -- NOT

the items for the show I'll be doing are adding up!

these two pieces featuring holly leaves are all finished now

the one on the rod proved to be the most difficult -- couldn't seem to get the loops all the same length!

the second one has a "hanging ring" in the corner, which looks pretty good too

and this piece is all finished up now too

I'm still working on the quilting of the third one of these

looking good

yesterday I spent some time working on creating the tags for all of these bigger pieces so I can get them boxed up and ready to do next week

this piece is finally finished too

I had finished the bag part quite a while ago, and had even felted the handle, just hadn't gotten it all together

so yesterday I made a trip to the fabric store and picked up a card of bright orange buttons -- a perfect match!

the handle is attached with one button on one side and two buttons on the other -- I like that asymmetrical look

and I strung together some purple and orange beads to create the zipper pull too
one more mitten complete!!

this is the first of the navy blue ones -- the same size as the larger off white

one more navy one to do then on to the pair (smaller) of light blue ones

this fence knitting is rolling along

while I was in the fabric store for those buttons, this fabric just hopped into my cart

I'm going to use it for the back of the baby quilt I'm working on

and yesterday I did some fiddling with my printer and one of my software programs and discovered that yes indeed, I could take an 8 1/2 by 11 drawing and have it printed out as a 44 x 66 drawing and all the pages are in the proper sequence for me to just tape them all together for the full size pattern


this will be useful for the baby quilt so I can cut the proper size strips to put the whole top together

for other projects it will be wonderful for creating the actual patterns

got to love learning how to use the technology!!

so today's agenda includes work in the garden, a trip to the hardware store for winter fertilizer (yes, last week it was 90 degrees -- last night there was snow on the higher peaks!), then back into the studio to work on projects

rollin', rollin', rollin'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

embellishing and binding

so after the steaming I stitched on the red buttons for holly berries and the little metal charm

the DH sanded the rod for me and I painted it gold

so today I'll be able to get this piece on the rod and add the cord and one more piece will be finished


this one is getting closer too

yesterday I did the binding on it

today the steaming and embellishing and putting it on it's display "rod" (ie: piece of tree branch) too

yes folks, I might actually get both of these finished today

meantime I've been quilting away on the second holly leaf -- I'm in the borders now, so there is hope for the quilting part of that to be finished today too

baby mitts for the fence knitting finished last night

so I'm half way through the mitten knittin'

I've decided its a good idea to work my way through all of the mittens first, then move on to the hats, then the sweaters

and I finished up another yarn project last night too, but you don't get to see it here until after Christmas --

over the weekend we went to the big Gem/Jewelry/Mineral show up in Denver

the main purpose of this venture was to turn in scrap silver and gold pieces that we had been collecting in our jewelry work for quite a while

I hadn't really intended to spend any money while we were there

but these pieces of picture jasper were just to wonderful to pass up

and the price was right (usually a piece of picture jasper the size of that rectangular one are in the $75 to $100 range -- the whole lot of these cost me $30)

so now I'm thinking I may be entering more than one piece in the seed bead competition for Fire Mountain in the Spring

I was already thinking about a piece for that, but the big piece of jasper suggests some other things

the little oval one is very cool too -- another picture altogether -- and the round ones? I plan to make them into a pair of earrings

so today's ventures will include lawn mowing (I got the laundry done yesterday, but never got to the lawn) and working on auction stuff and some work in the studio

off to work we go!

Monday, September 20, 2010

finished leaves

this one is done!

finished stitching on the little metal leaf charms and attaching the hanger

so this is one wall hanging done and 4 to go

and I have just about a week for all of this


the quilting on this one is done though

today I will steam it and get the binding cut and attached (hopefully)

after the final pressing of the binding I'll be able to attach the metal charms on this one and it will be done too

there was gold metallic fabric in the bin after all

and I really like the way the binding on the holly looks in that color

this just needs its final pressing then I can attach the red buttons that will be the holly berries and the little metal charm embellishments

the DH cut me some dowels yesterday to create the rod for this yesterday and I attached the beads at the ends, so today I can paint those -- gold of course

mittens that are an actual pair!!

finished these up last night -- yeah!!!

now on to the baby mitts in this color -- and then two more pair of mittens with thumbs

but first there is laundry to finish and a lawn to mow!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a pair of mittens complete -- sort of

heh, well this IS a pair of mittens

just not a matching pair of mittens

the one on the left is for the big sister, the one on the right is for the little sister (a brand new baby, so this one has no thumbs)

the baby mitt got started AND finished in the car as we were stuck in traffic yesterday

I also got all of the ribbing and the stockinette stitch up to the base of the thumb done on the second mitten that is for the big sister

shall we say it was a long drive home?

even so, I'm really pleased with the look of these

this piece, though?

not so much

this was intended to be a felted bag with a zipper at the top -- something the right size to use for stashing knitting needles or crochet hooks or colored pencils

except that the darker blue yarn that I used for the top and the bottom didn't shrink at the same rate as the rest of the yarn, rendering this object unusable for it's intended purpose

and certainly not up to any standard that can be used for a sale

I'll be setting it aside and hoping to be able to use the felt in the center with its bright colorful zig zags in some future handbag project -- I can cut it up and use pieces of it

we'll see

Saturday, September 18, 2010

let the stitching begin

amidst the other projects I've been working on, I've been working on this too

all of the little detail cutting happened while I was on the phone or between cooking chores in the kitchen

and the fusing happened in bits and pieces while I had the iron on for other projects

now I'm ready to start stitching all the little edges

and I've already been thinking about what I want to use as a quilting pattern, and I'm thinking about using words and quotes -- words like "coexist" and quotes like "our children will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin" -- I'm searching for appropriate material for this stage
the mousie is complete!

he's there on the fantasy quilt on the left just under the turtle

so now I have one block to work on

it goes there on the bottom left side

it's a raccoon -- and I can't help it, I keep hearing a Beatles tune running through my head!

one holly leaf piece quilted and one to go!

the one on the left is all stitched and ready for the binding -- and I'm not sure yet what it will be

some sort of gold metallic would be cool, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing like that here on hand, so it will probably end up being either really dark green or black

and I still need to pull out the dowels to use as hanging rods for these and figure out how I'm finishing those too
mitten reborn

this pattern is so much better -- it's amazing!

so one mitten down and 7 to go (although 2 of them will not be from this pattern -- they're baby mitts with no thumbs)

onward, ever onward

Friday, September 17, 2010

working on deadlines

the entry for the Fire Mountain Gems Swarovski Crystal competition went into the mail yesterday afternoon

this is the picture I used -- in an 8 1/2 by 11 size

in that format it shows the detail and the colors really well (thanks Alison for confirming what I thought!)

so now we wait to hear

last time I did this they sent me a letter and asked me to mail them the actual piece because I had made the finals

I'm really not expecting that this time, but it's good to keep entering competitions to get the feed back
the quilting is done on this

and the binding is on

still need to press and get the hanger done (I'm using a piece of a tree branch as the "rod" across the top with loops, but the branch needs to get sealed first)

and I still need to stitch on the little leaf charms in the corner

two more of these to do -- and the holly ones to finish too

and I have about a week to get this all done in

what was I saying about not working right up to the last minute deadline -- yeah, right

my sister saw my comment about being unhappy with the first mitten I had done and sent me an email with a "new and improved" pattern

the pattern is very specific about measurements for each part of the mitten so the proportions of the mitten look right for each and every size -- and the sizes are much more specific than S,M,L --

I started this mitten last night (in this pattern you knit the thumb FIRST -- no knitting up a whole batch and going back to the thumbs!!)

when I got to this stage I decided it was a "keeper" and ripped out the other one entirely so I can reuse the yarn to knit the other mitten to go with this one

oh, and this is also a project with a deadline

one of these days I might actually get back to working on projects just for the art of them -- I still have trees and blue planet and the out of Africa series ----- maybe after the charity auction is over


Thursday, September 16, 2010


the purple crystal necklace is finished

my usual work approach is much longer -- usually there are "think breaks" between steps, but in this case, I did not have that luxury -- it was either get it all done by today or miss the entry deadline

not entirely my fault -- the materials took a bit longer to get here than I thought they would --

and originally I wasn't even going to enter this part of the competition this year, but then the folks that are doing the judging and saw my work last year called me and ask if I was going to enter

ok then -- so today I'll be doing the paper work and printing the picture that will go (I'm leaning heavily toward picture #3) and getting the packet all ready to go into the mail

geesh -- now we can go back to our regularly scheduled chaos!