Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dog days of December and the Christmas Reveal

Christmas here may be cold, but we hardly ever actually have a white Christmas

so on Christmas day, even though it was pretty chilly, it was sunny enough that the dogs were happy to go out on the deck in the sun

the big black dog is my lab and the little cairn terrier is one of my daughter's dogs

I made my daughter and her husband a calendar for Christmas that had a different picture of one of our collective pets for each month of the year -- this shot may well be one that gets included in a calendar for 2012

these are the shots I got of the red dog

it's a lot harder to get a picture of her, so these were taken through the glass patio door

I'm still trying to get a really good head on picture of her with her eyes open so you can see that she has one brown eye and one blue eye

we'll keep trying

now that Christmas gifts have been given to the folks they were made for, I can show you the rest of the finished projects

this is a fleece vest that I made for the DH -- because our house is a balmy 64 degrees in the winter, he wears these around the house, and after several winters, the first one I made him is getting a little shabby

my daughter bought the fabric and I did the sewing and he should be set for another winter or two

and this is a table runner I made for my daughter

I also made her a set of four place mats (that won a ribbon at the State Fair back in August)

this black and white and daisy theme is what she has in her kitchen and I've tried every year to come up with something that works with it for her kitchen

these projects were also a good exercise for me to learn more about my sewing machine's decorator stitches.
as were these -- six very custom dish towels made for my sister

during the summer I had been to an estate sale where I picked up some vintage fabric perfect for the making of tea towels

I used a different decorative stitch on each end of each towel -- a dozen different ones (and barely made a dent in the 46 available in just one of the many menus on the machine)

yesterday she called and told me I had succeeded in making her smile while doing dishes -- a great success as far as I'm concerned

in keeping with a long standing tradition there was the building of pj pants for my daughter and her husband

the ones for my daughter came with a promise to rework them when she has recovered from the birth of her baby, but it was important to me that she be able to wear them on Christmas eve (when this one package is traditionally opened)

there were three pair of those pj pants this year

here's a picture of my grandson modeling his first ever pair of grandma made pjs

I'm hoping to make a lot more of these as time goes on

and isn't he the cutest?

so today it's on with working on both sewing and writing for the upcoming trunk show

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ready to quilt

or at least that was the status of this piece when I took this picture a few days ago

it's been quilted now and I'm working on the applique leaves on the last piece I want to get finished before the trunk show

I can't show you that right now, though, as the cable that I was so careful to be sure I brought with me so I could download pictures from my camera has given up the ghost and will no longer cooperate so that the camera and the computer can talk to each other -- grrrrr! -- this pleases me not at all as you might guess

in the interim we had Christmas celebrations -- one with our daughter and son-in-law and grandson (his very first one at all of 10 days old!) and one with my sister and her husband

that second one was supposed to also include my nephew and my parents -- but my nephew had a cold and decided not to come and "share" it with the new baby (what a good guy!) -- and on Sunday morning, my mother called and told me that my dad was having some problems, and after she described the problem I told her she should take him to the ER

so the Christmas celebrations will conclude a bit later -- after my dad is out of the hospital

for now I'm working on projects and holding my grandson (wash, rinse, repeat!)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

they'll do

my little trip to the local store to find what I really needed for that knitting project was unsuccessful

they did, however, have these items (as well as an extra present to be tucked under the tree for someone)

while I really like my sets with the interchangeable points and cables, I'm not letting the ability to get the size I need get in the way of the progress on a project

besides, having an extra set of needles in sizes I use a lot isn't a bad thing -- knitters are known to have more than one project on the sticks!

oh, and those little plastic rings they sell to be used as markers, but the stash I had on hand has been slowly dwindling as a combination of getting dropped in the car or somewhere that made them disappear into the vacuum and the fact that I've been using them as hanging rings on the back of some of my smaller quilting projects

so now I'm set for knitting in the car as we set off on our Christmas journey!

load the car, harness up the dog and we're off

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

fillet of sole?

heh, right

not the sort of sole you were thinking!

after running the load of whites through the dryer, the socks were the only thing that weren't dry

so, since the oven was warm, fresh from a baking project, I did something that my grandmother used to do all the time (ok, she had a gas stove and there was a pilot light, so the oven was always warm) -- I stuck the socks in on the rack and closed the door

by the time the oven had cooled off, the socks were dry --- YEAH!
and this is why the oven was warm in the first place

the annual baking of the doggie biscuits

we think the dogs deserve a little Santa present too, so every year I bake up a big batch -- some for my dog and some that go to my daughter's dogs -- and because everything in these comes out of the standard pantry, even the parrot at my daughter's house can have a piece of these

if you'd like to bake up a batch for your critters, you can use this link to Hattie's Kitchen for the recipe
oh look!

another completed project!

I'm still working on things that I need to have for my trunk show in January

this one is a cottonwood leaf and instead of using a plain fabric and rubber stamping leaves on it for the background, I used a fabric that was already printed with leaves

I don't like it as well, but it did come out ok

there are 2 more of this leaf series that are all kitted up to be worked on -- I hope I can manage to get those finished and get the patterns figured out in the next 3 weeks!

meantime, while the sleeves of the sweater I'm working on are fine, by the time I got the body worked up about 5 rows above the ribbing, it was clear that the body was going to be way too big, so last night I frogged the whole thing out --- and before I can start working on it again, I have to get a different cable for my Denise needle set -- the one I was using was shall we say "challenging" when I had 224 stitches on it, because the cable was a bit too long for just that many, putting fewer stitches on will be just too difficult logistically for knitting up an entire sweater body -- I'll be visiting the local shop that has those today -- hope to find what I need


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

just the silly ol' grandma here

announcing the arrival of some one far more awesome than any art work I'm making

I was in the midst of working on a blog post last Wednesday morning when I got the call from my daughter

it was time!

we tossed stuff in the car and took off like a shot

since then I've been a little busy, but not so much with art work ---

holding the baby and helping out in the household with the dogs and the kitchen

we got home last night, and will go back for Christmas activities later in the week

here is what I had been writing before we took off:

after that second trip through the washer, here is the hat on the wig stand to dry


can't wait for it to dry so I can start adding the flowers and beads around the brim

progress is being made on the hand bag

I've decided that the pocket for the cell phone will go on what is the right hand side in the picture, so I only put one small piece of decorative braid on that side

and more on the other side

probably will add something else in the center before I put on the wide stuff that will cover the two seams and the raw edges of the braid that is already there

a while back a friend in one of my quilting groups gave me a large stash of landscape fabrics to use in my projects

I wanted to do something as a thank you to her, and she asked me if I could do a Hawaii piece for her sister

I've been thinking about it for a while now, and here is the first of the drawings on the tracing paper all ready for me to add the color and start creating the patterns

it's kind of hard to tell what any of this is right now, except the mountain there to the left, which is Diamond Head

once again trying out new approaches, new techniques -- fun!
and because I was in the car a bit in the last few days, the sleeves for the sweater I'm making the DH are now all finished

in fact, I've got only 2 more rows of ribbing on the body of the sweater to do before I'll be into the pattern rows of that

moving along

(knitting was the only thing I worked on while I was away -- I had other things with me, but I just never got there!)

and as I write this, the washer and the dryer are humming along -- I'll be working on getting us all packed up to take off for Christmas

never a dull moment here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art Quilting for the Common Good

Every now and then you get to make a small contribution to a good cause and see much larger good come from it. Last year I donated a little art quilt to Ami Simms AlzQuilts project. It ended up going to the big Houston quilt show, helping to raise over $30,000. That money was awarded as a grant to the University of Michigan for research into Alzheimer's and its causes.

Yesterday, there was a press release about some very promising positive results created because of that grant. You can read the whole story here: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

I'm delighted to have my small efforts joined with many others to help make the world a better place and give hope to those who are suffering with this disease --- like little drops of water a mighty river make!

and here are pictures of yesterday's activities in the studio

the front of the handbag, where I have stitched together the three panels I needed to create the front

and the very first bit of embellishment

before I get too carried away with the embellishing, I need to figure out exactly where I will place the pocket for the cell phone (no point wasting fancy braid or embroidery work in a spot that I'm just going to cover up with the pocket!)

the first of the three leaves I'm working on is ready for the quilting

I decided to use a fabric for the framing that looks like old barn wood

and how did I find that fabric? by looking at the back of a piece left over from another project

last night I started the quilting on this while the TV was tuned to PBS for the Concordia College Christmas special (I love TV this time of year, there are so many really great music shows to listen to -- also a few not so great ones, but at least I have choices!)

along with starting the quilting on this, I've started working on the applique of another of the leaf blocks too -- I'm doing the maple next

this morning the hat and the flowers went into the washer for the second round of felting -- I've found that because I have an old washer it sometimes takes more that one trip through to get something properly felted -- so tomorrow there should be pictures of the hat on the form and the flowers all laid out on towels -- nice to have this all coming together

who knows what kind of stuff I'll be able to stir up in the studio today!

Monday, December 13, 2010


I spent quite a bit of time working on the handbag yesterday

this is a project that I'm doing all by hand -- so it takes a bit longer than it would otherwise

I decided that I would still want a pocket on the outside of my bag to hold my cell phone

the bottom of this little pocket was one of the original pockets on the little coat

I made it a little narrower and added an extra strip at the top to make it deep enough that I won't have to worry about the phone slipping out (you can tell where the seam is for the add on because I covered it with that pretty braid)

the pocket has been totally lined too -- I stitched the pocket and the lining together face to face then turned it and closed the opening and top stitched along the top edge

it's all ready to be attached to the front of the bag (which is why it resembles a porcupine!)
got some more braid attached to the back of the bag too

that narrow strip covers the spot in the fabric where the pressing of 50 years had left an indelible mark


so today it will be on to working on the front of the bag, and I'm planning to do a lot more embellishment there

the leaf is all appliqued down on this piece now

not bad

today I will work on adding the side strips and getting this set up to start on the quilting

and do some writing about how to put it together for the pattern

meantime there is laundry to do (which means I'll be having a go at felting the hat and flowers) and maybe some baking

and more work in the studio!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

the finished ottoman

and this is how I did it

here it is with a blue tape guide line

I decided I didn't want to to the skirting more than once, so it was a good idea for it to be straight and level the first time

enter the blue painter's tape and the yard stick -- it was just like back in the days when you marked a hem for a dress -- measuring up from the floor all the way around and making the marks

and here we have the welting all pinned along the top edge of that blue tape mark

the trickiest part of this was the "fiddly" place where the welting comes together -- where to place it and making sure it looks smooth

I decided the center of one of the long sides was the best place

and that trimming and butting together of the cord then covering it with the fabric went pretty well

when you attach these things you're supposed to use these little cardboard strips so when you turn the skirt down you have a nice smooth edge

I didn't have any of those little strips you're supposed to buy

but cereal boxes? those I've got (I save them to use for patterns and crafting -- and now a new use!)

here they are, all cut on the paper cutter to 1/2 inch wide and however long the box was
on to the stapling

the skirting panel turned toward the top, the edge of it lined up with the edge of the welting, cardboard strip on top of that

staple -- with long staples so it grabs through the cardboard and the skirt and the welting and the batting and into the wood underneath

oh yes, be sure to get those corner pleated panels in there in the right places too

this is the "Marilyn Monroe in the white dress over the street vent" version of this little project -- skirts up!
and here is the finished project

this is definitely one of those "did I do that?" moments

I keep walking into the living room to look at it again to be sure I didn't just dream it all

sometimes I'm amazed at just how much you can accomplish if you have the ability (or should I say gift) of being able to read an instruction and teach yourself how to do something

the upholstery book is the equivalent of a cook book -- neat!!

other projects were happening here in the studio too

since I've decided I need finished objects to take pictures of to put on the front of the patterns I'm working on, I needed to start those objects

these two panels will be two more leaf projects - maple and cottonwood

and here they are all stamped with the rubber stamps, waiting for me to press them then get on to the stitching

after I had finished doing the stamping, this is what the "palette" looked like

I use a 12 inch ceramic tile to mix colors with textile medium and then as the "stamp pad" from which I pick up the paint to stamp onto the cloth

the left overs this time just looked really neat (the picture doesn't really capture it because of the "hot spot" in the middle from the flash)

I know from past experience that if you leave this on the tile it will dry into a solid sheet of acrylic that has a sort of rubbery feel to it and you can peel it off in one piece (I did that once by accident and my brain filed that away in its random access memory)

this time I'm doing it on purpose -- I want to see if I can actually use that stuff to create some cut out leaves to add to the quilted piece when I get to the embellishment stage
this is the third leaf piece

the fabric I picked out for the background on this one already had leaf like shapes printed on it, so I decided no stamping was required

I did embroider around a few of those printed leaves to accent them -- and when I do the quilting I use the rest of those as quilt guides

the piece being attached is the first piece of the big leaf in the center

doesn't look like much right now

stay with me, these get better as they go

remember a few weeks ago I talked about making myself a new handbag out of the felted fabric of a long ago coat?

this is the back panel

because the coat was a small child's coat and the pattern had some interesting design features, there was no single piece of felt that I could cut the entire back (or front) from

this suits my purpose just fine, however -- I want to do quite a bit of embellishing anyway, so that first seam there was an ideal place

on the right hand side of the panel, if you look closely, you can see a line where the original fabric had been pressed -- ah, another design opportunity! I'll be doing some kind of embroidery or applying of braid or something there too

the first sleeve of the sweater is complete

the last row and the transferring to the stitch holder finished at 11 pm as I was watching the end of the folk music show on our local PBS station

knitting along to the tunes of Pete Seager, Chad Mitchell and The Byrds

great way to spend a Saturday evening

who knows what I'll get done today!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

no fruit (almost) fruit cake

since I have finished my Christmas making and shopping and wrapping and shipping, it's time to do a little baking

the DH is a first generation American, and this recipe came with his English family

it's sort of like fruit cake, except the only fruit in it is dates

instead, it has pieces of gum drops!

I hadn't made this recipe for at least 10 years, so this year I decided it was time

if you'd like to make yourself a batch, I posted the recipe other there at Hattie's Kitchen this morning -- complete with some pretty detailed step by step instructions -- Enjoy!
so while the gum drop bread was cooking, I worked on the ottoman a bit more

here it is with the fabric over the entire thing

the "skirts" have been stitched, but they still need to be pressed and top stitched before I can do the final step of attaching them around the sides (about 5 inches down from the top)

so far this has been pretty easy, so I'm gaining confidence for tackling the chair

the hat and all its many flowers, leaves and vines are now ready to be felted

I hope it comes out looking as neat as it does laying here!

the hat and all of the flowers and leaves will go into a hot wash on Monday when I do laundry (the leaves and flowers will go into a net bag -- I don't want the sock eating washing machine to acquire a taste for flowers!)

while I'm felting those I also will be throwing in a wool skirt that's older than my daughter and hoping it will felt up nicely too
and lookie!

actual progress on the sleeve of the sweater I'm making for the DH

nice -- I've done about 17 inches -- only 4 more inches before it goes on a holder and I start on the second sleeve

(this is a pattern knit from the bottom up in the round and when both sleeves and the body are all done to the arm pits, you join them all together and knit the top up from there)


I started putting together the three leaf quilts yesterday too -- I hope to get the paint stamping part of those done today

and the baking of dog biscuits

(that last item being top on my dog's "mommy do" list!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

the leaves are done

last night, while I was sitting in front of the TV after dinner I finished the quilting of the last aspen leaf

all 61 of them have now been bagged up and put in the work flat with the rest of the trees project

(which has now become too big a project to haul around as "portable")

it's time to pull out the air brush inks and the textile medium and get that background color stamped on there!

and yes, I'm sensing a nature theme here!

this project is also done!

wall hanging measures 12 inches square and has a hanging ring on the back to hang it this way

now I'm working on writing the instructions for the making of this piece

last night I decided that it would be a good idea if I can manage to have the three other leaf patterns available for the trunk show too, so today I'll be going through the stash tubs and pulling out the materials

the other three leaves are from the wall hanging I gave to my doctor, and I've not done them as individual free standing pieces, though they certainly would fit in with this one -- this one is the oak leaf and the other three are maple, aspen and cottonwood

yup, looks like I've created myself a whole new project to work on!

during the summer the DH spent a lot of time refinishing the wood frame for an antique chair that was given to me by a friend

when he finished the chair, he decided a small ottoman to go with it would be a good idea, so he used some legs that came off of some other piece of furniture (can we say they had been hanging around so long that we don't even remember what they came off of!), and built this

yesterday I put on the layer of padding that goes under the upholstery

I had been thinking about how to do this for a while, and I'm pleased to say it went a lot easier than I thought it would

the cording, which will go all around the base, is also all ready, so the next step is to get the patterned fabric on there

then it will be on to the chair -- a much bigger project, but one for which I have a really good book that takes you step by step through doing

never a dull moment here!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

leaf it alone

the quilting on this piece is now finished

I had started this one a couple of months ago, along with two others on a similar theme, but after I finished the first two I decided I wanted to use this design to create a pattern for my trunk show

and then I did a bunch of other projects

so this week I realized that I have about 5 weeks to the trunk show and I probably should get busy on this

today I'll be doing the binding and trying to decide which side goes up and what sort of hanging device I will use -- the first two on this theme have "tabs" and a piece of natural wood as a hanging rod -- and I may do that again

I'll also be adding some beads and charms to this

other sewing got done yesterday too -- the stealth Christmas sewing is done!

more flowers got knit

my favorite is that dahlia looking piece -- and the daisy isn't bad either

I've got six flowers all knit up now, so this evening I'll probably do some leaves, but I'm really thinking I'd like to make at least one more of those dahlia things

yesterday something I had ordered for my friend in San Jose FINALLY arrived, so I have now wrapped and packed and that box is sitting in the front hall to go to the mail stop today -- actually its probably good that the ordered item was the last thing to show up -- I had to get it into wrapping paper right away to resist deciding to keep it for myself!

so today a trip for mailing (and stamps so I can mail the cards), some baking and more work on the leaf piece -- and maybe some work on the new Hoffman piece -- oh, and bows on that growing stack of presents for the folks here -- 'tis the season to be busy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I did what?

that's my thought this morning as I sat down to post here

I checked the camera (my usual starting point) -- nope, no pictures there, not even a cute snap of a bird in the tree or the dog doing something silly

I know I was awake yesterday, and I didn't just sit and watch TV, honest!

there's just not much to take pictures of when

1. you sign and fold and stuff and seal 45 Christmas letters into the cards (which I had already addressed over the Thanksgiving weekend)

2. you successfully find a box in the house to pack up the packages that need to get shipped to California -- including re-wrapping one present in a different shaped box so they would all fit

3. you complete the most difficult step in the stealth Christmas sewing project

4. you work on the directions that go in the pattern that you need to have finished and ready to go for the trunk show that's happening in January

5. you work on the actual piece that the pattern is based on because you need to have it finished to show at said trunk show

6. you knit a new flower to be felted for the hat

7. you knit on the sleeve of the new sweater in process

8. you quilt 10 more aspen leaves

ok, maybe those last 4 items really could have had pictures taken somewhere along the line -- I'll try to do better with that

meantime, I feel sort of like I'm rattling around -- too many projects already completed and we're in "drop it all and go" mode because my daughter's baby could come any day (the due date is Dec 18, so she's already closer than I ever got since she came 3 weeks before her due date)

I've even already wrapped all of the Christmas presents (except the sock ones), and they are sitting in a pile on the floor of the living room waiting for bows

time to go start a new project or two

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

wherein there is great celebrating

Did you hear the shouting and rejoicing?

I FINALLY finished writing the Christmas letter!!!!

so there will be printing and folding and stuffing of envelopes soon (like today or tomorrow)

and the knitting of flowers for felting and using on the hat can now resume

the yarn all dried and I got it balled up yesterday

looking forward to creating some cool things with this stuff

this little guy (and several of his pals) were hanging out in the tree outside my dining room window earlier in the week

they're looking pretty fat and sassy

the weather has been unseasonably warm here -- upper 50s in December is just not right -- so I'm still seeing the birds that are usually out of sight by now