Friday, July 30, 2010

and the race is on

and I'm beginning to wonder -- in my sleep deprived screwy brain -- which of these two fences will be finished first

the saga of the outdoor fence continues -- it was a week ago yesterday that it came down and we begin this morning with new posts set and part of the cross pieces (to which the fence boards will be attached) installed

which means we've had over a week of the dog not getting her usual free range of the yard

which also means she has started waking me at odd times (translate "EARLY!" times) asking to go out

like at 5:10 this morning -- and again (just as I was drifting off to sleep) at 5:45

so, okay, I'm up already

the other fence actually is progressing nicely

yesterday I got the label and the sleeve stitched on the back and started last night on the beaded center of the big sunflower

but seriously -- I'm still not sure which one of these fences will be done first!!

time to go mow the lawn

Thursday, July 29, 2010

are we there yet?

I guess I need to confess that I only do change well if it's my idea

this week has been chaotic and distressing -- the fence between my property and my neighbor's has been out for a week now, and there has been work going on out there of some kind every day

not really a big deal for me except that our usual way of just letting the dog have free run of the back yard is not really an option -- which means when she needs to go out I either need to walk her or at least go out into the yard with her and make sure she stays in the yard

and then yesterday I took the van to have maintenance done, which also turned the whole morning routine into confusion
fortunately, I was able to "chill out" last night, listening (and singing along to) a music program on PBS, la, la, la la la la, la la la la, hey Jude...

yup, Sir Paul still does it for me

great music for working on this

and after fighting with the binding on this piece for what seems like forever, it is finally done to my satisfaction so I can now put on the hanging sleeve, the label and do the final embellishing with beads

(so no more whining about it not being done yet -- or the "are we there yet" syndrome associated with summer anyway!)

unbelievable! it's actually getting close to actually being finished

the blue and white embroidery piece is moving along nicely -- I finished the long bamboo embroideries down the edge of the second front piece and moved along into the geometric patterning last night too
when I need to take a break from the hand sewing, I've been knitting on a couple of projects for the show/sale I'll be doing

I'm really pleased with how this looks

it is actually much bigger than I originally thought it would be, but it will get felted when I'm done knitting, which will shrink it considerably

I think

(of course like with any project I've never done before this is the "will it really work properly" worry wort stage)

at least I really like the color combo
another afghan square complete -- next week I'll be packing up another box and shipping these off

(I try to do shipping only once a week for my eBay stuff, and this will go right in with those packages)

time to get moving -- need to make my monthly visit to the Costco and run some other errands too

then back to working on projects

Monday, July 26, 2010

one more for the fair

I finished the piece I've been working on for the Wild About Flowers in the dolls division yesterday

the hollyhock dolls dancing on the top of a cut tree -- I can hear "Waltz of the Flowers" playing

I was really pleased with the end result of this project -- looks good

and it's completion means there are only 3 left on my "want to do" list for the fair --

and this would be one of them

I finished the embroidery on the first front last night

today I'll mark the other front and start on it

and the fabric for the lining of this is in the dryer as I type this

coming together nicely!

now if the quilt I'm trying to finish would play nice I'd be a lot happier

last Wednesday I finished the quilting and on Thursday and Friday I cut and stitched binding -- and on Saturday I took the binding off

this is the first piece I've tried to use a binding that is on the straight of the grain, and corners don't work the same way -- not to mention that I was trying to do a really wide binding

so yesterday new binding was begun --

so far so good

and the other projects I'm working on for the fair can't be shown here yet since I plan to use them as Christmas gifts too -- but let me say that if you thought doing quilting on the machine was less time consuming than doing it by hand, my response would be "forget it"

in order to give my fingers a break from the sewing, I've been working on this

when the knitting is done it gets felted then a zipper installed at the top

this will have a polka dot pattern in orange against the purple -- I love these colors together

and then it will be ready to go to the show I'm doing in November

today, being Monday, there is laundry to do, then back to working in the studio!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Page 49 please

my new Fire Mountain Gems catalog arrived yesterday

we get one of these every year, and I order stuff out of it a couple times a year

I don't usually just sit down and look through the entire thing when it comes -- in fact sometimes I don't even open it until I actually need to order something

but last night while I was hanging out in the kitchen waiting for dinner to be ready I started flipping through the pages of my usual favorite stuff to buy -- checking out any new stuff they might have added that I might need to try out

stuff like seed beads

as I flipped through to page 49 I glanced down at the corner and thought "wait -- that looks like something I made"

then I looked closer and said to the DH "HEY! I'm in the catalog!!"

I had submitted the design over a year ago, knew I had made the finals, sent in the piece for the final judging, but didn't win any of the big prizes

they had sent the piece back and I had just added it to my inventory (although I had just decided it needed to go to the State Fair this year)

it never occurred to me that it would get used in the catalog!

it is also part of their online design idea gallery, which you can see by using this LINK.


(and in the last two weeks there has been another idea forming for a piece I may enter in the next competition and see if I can break into the "winner's circle")

Friday, July 23, 2010

a lean mean fence wrecking machine

this picture taken this morning of the lack of fence!

my neighbor and I are replacing our shared side fence ---

after years of neglect, snow drifts and wind storms it was pretty beat up

so yesterday afternoon she and I and the DH went out and went to work --

Crowbars up!

we finished up just as the rain started around 3 pm -- there are still 3 posts standing and we have decided to let her work crew (her family -- all of them involved in the building industry somehow) will be here tomorrow morning to start putting in the new fence --

I expected to be really sore this morning as it's been a while since I did the whole "tear it down" thing, but aside from across my shoulders and the puffy knee, I'm ok -- so it shouldn't get in the way of my work in the studio (in fact I can always claim I need to ice the knee so I can sit a while!) {grin}
this arrived in my mail box yesterday afternoon


talk about getting to see red!!!

my sister sent this along for me to us for the lining of the sashiko embroidery piece I'm working on (she bought a WHOLE BOLT(!) of this loveliness a while back, and as usual is more than willing to share the bounty)

thanks sis!!

let the cutting and stitching commence! there's no reason I can't go ahead and put the lining all together so it will make the finishing quicker when the embroidery is done
after we mailed off eBay packages and picked up prescriptions at the store yesterday we made a stop at an Estate Sale here in our neighborhood

I went because I wanted to see if there was any fabric or yarn worth picking up to be used for charity work

there wasn't any of those items, but I did pick up a brand new set of soup mugs -- still in their original 1994 box

we really needed these items -- the ones we have are 20+ years old -- 2 of them having lived in assorted desk drawers as the DH and I moved from job to job -- and they are chipped around the edge

I'm really happy to give these babies a new home!
Estate Sales are strange

you wander through the rooms of the house picking up bits and pieces of someone's life -- and I always wonder about the people that called this home

what did they like? did they have family? were they happy? -- weird perhaps, but it's how my mind works

it's different than your every weekend garage sale because the person that's taking the money can't answer those questions -- she's just helping out the family who are dealing with the emotional issues of the "estate"

the one sewing related item I picked up was this plastic shoe box full of flat lace, bias tape, braid and rick rack

these two packages especially caught my eye -- I have seen trim like these since I was a child -- in the 1950s

the red one has a price sticker on it that says "F. W. Woolworth's" it sold for 15 cents

talk about a trip right back to my grandmother's sewing room!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

dancing with the holly hocks

I missed this in my childhood

there was never anywhere that I lived where hollyhocks were growing, so I never made hollyhock dolls

until now

the Colorado State Fair this year is sponsoring some special competitions titled "Wild About Flowers", and I decided to have a go at two of them -- the quilt one (which you've been hearing about for quite a while now if you're a regular visitor here) and one in the dolls

this is my entry for the dolls

can't you just hear the music for the Waltz of the Flowers?

I just hope the judges can
finished the "no boo boo" blue and white baby shirt last night

this one is going to the State Fair too

and I may whip up a couple more of these for the show I'm doing in November and December

I just won't be working on those quite yet -- I need to get a few other projects (3 pretty good sized ones) completed before August 11 first

another afghan square complete

I only need one more to finish up the current box I'm working on then they can go off on their merry little way

yesterday I delivered the baby quilt to the neighbor -- she really, really liked it

and today's projects include helping to tear down the fence between our house and her house -- she has a "crew" coming on Saturday to start putting in the new one, and she is "fronting" the funding (because she wants it done now) and I'll be paying her for our half as I can over the next few months -- in fact, the money for the quilt went right back to her in payment on the fence (which sort of took the joy of that first quilt sale out of it -- but it was nice to have that to give her)

oh yes, and let the fun of WALKING the dog for her "business" begin -- while the fence is down I won't be able to just let her out in the yard

who knows what new adventures that will bring!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

gardens of many sorts

the quilting is officially finished on the Wild About Flowers piece

and here in this picture I've pinned on the piping at the edge, so it's ready for the basting

and I need to cut the binding, which will serve as the "frame"

I decided last night after fiddling with the frame fabric around the edge of this that I'm going to do a 2 inch binding so it actually looks like a frame -- so I'll be cutting those strips today -- and these will be different from my usual bias because the wood grain pattern of the fabric runs with the grain so is not conducive to my doing bias binding -- this should be interesting

the first zucchini and rhubarb from the garden

the rhubarb is a little scrawny, but given that the plant was buried under the now well trimmed pine tree, it's amazing there is any of it at all -- the DH has promised to make a strawberry rhubarb pie -- yum

and these are pretty good looking zucchini -- if we aren't having more monsoon rain this evening they may get grilled -- otherwise they'll either get eaten in salad or sauteed with a little garlic and olive oil -- any way we do it, I'm sure they'll be tasty!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

one more complete, one more in progress

this is the one in progress

it's been knit up far enough that today I'll be doing the break for the armholes

and the more I've worked on it, the better I like it

(and so far, there are no boo boos!)

yesterday a project got finished, but you'll not be seeing pictures of it here until after Christmas -- the zipper finally arrived last week and I got it all stitched in

progress --- our most important product!

Monday, July 19, 2010

90 degree heat = winter coat ?!

heh, well, yes -- it seems my projects have no respect for the weather

I just wanted to get this thing finished -- after all the knitting part had been finished for a week, the cape was right there

and anyway, how was hand stitching the knitted sleeves into this any hotter than working on the quilting of a piece?

so it's done

the cape has been successfully transformed into a coat

and my daughter will have something warm to wear to work this winter when her own coat won't fit over my grandchild

but it comes with a warning -- I want this one back! I had been thinking about doing this for the last few years for myself -- but then we know how good I am at making things for myself - hum
behold the beginning of the dance of the hollyhock dolls

after all that stitching (at least I did these on the machine) of each and every petal

and turning

and coloring (which doesn't really show up well on the photo)

I got these all put together last night

so now I have the heads and arms to make -- which will be shades of green -- I think they look pretty good
about 10 years ago (just before I retired), I bought myself a sewing machine

now this is not the first sewing machine I've ever owned -- in fact, I bought it to replace a Pfaff that I had plainly beaten to death

and I spent big money for this new machine (at the time I was earning great bonus money at the "day job", so I had the money to spend)

but I never got to go take the "free classes" I was promised because about then we were packing up the house to move and sending off a child to college and and (well, you know how life gets)

so now, 10 years later, I'm teaching myself how to use some of the cool features that I bought the machine for in the first place

like this stipple quilting, for instance -- not perfect, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it
yesterday I was talking about the second baby shirt that I had started and how I didn't like the look of the yarn together and how I was thinking about ripping it out

heh, yeah

it got ripped

and I started this one instead, which I like MUCH better!

this yarn, while still cotton, has an interesting fat to thin texture which gives the shirt a totally different look that the yellow and white yarns did

so now I just have to keep an eye on those stripes and not repeat the boo boo of the yellow shirt
be afraid - be VERY afraid

for months now I've been saying I need to organize my quilting fabrics

but like with most projects, especially when I refuse to go and spend money for something, doing one project means that first I must do another and possibly something before that, and even something before that

I want to get all of the quilting fabrics that I use to create my art quilts into these shorter tubs instead of those deep ones so I can see what I have this way instead of having to dump the whole tub onto the dining room table

but as I said, I didn't want to go buy any of these tubs until I had made full use of the ones I already owned

so for the last couple of weeks I've been going through "stuff", which has meant a big bag of trash out, a lot of stuff into the recycle bin, several new things ready to go onto eBay and this empty tub to organize in

I started with the fabrics I had just bought and then started added stuff from another tub

by the time I'm done I'm sure I'll have one whole tub that is nothing but browns and greens (or even one that's all green!)

yup, one small step to organization (one giant leap to less frustration!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a new beginning -- maybe

or I may rip it all out

I cast on for a new striped baby shirt, but I don't like this combination nearly as well as I did the yellow and white one

I'm thinking about starting this over with white instead of the light blue -- I think I would like that contrast better

we'll see

meantime, yesterday I got one of the sleeves stitched into the "cape into coat" project -- looking good

no lawn work today, so maybe more studio work!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Finished and begun

I finished this last night -- at about 11 pm -- way later than I'm usually awake, but hey, I was on a roll

so this morning I was looking at it and there it is, sticking out like a sore thumb -- a goof in the stripe knitting

(go ahead, study the picture -- once you find the mistake it's all you can see!)

no, I am not going to rip it out -- I didn't notice it until I was looking at the photo, and I'm thinking the baby that will wear it won't mind so much

but I can't enter this one in the State Fair

go I'll be casting on another one -- fortunately I have lots of the right kind of yarn (in some very interesting colors I might add), so there's no problem there

and you can bet I'll be carefully watching out for the stitch "oops"!
after fiddling with this for many months I've finally gotten serious about getting it finished

(nothing like a looming deadline to my only opportunity to enter it in the Fair to get me rolling!)

the pictures are a bit over exposed, but the real thing is a nice dark blue and all of the embroidery is 2 strands of white cotton floss

and this is the back of a kimono style bathrobe that I'm working on
the first of the two fronts is marked and ready to start here in this picture

(I actually have already started stitching on this now)

the two sleeves have already been done, so I just need to finish the fronts and stitch up the piece

-- oh yeah, first I'll have to go get the fabric to line the inside

ok, I need to stitch faster!

I'm thinking a sort of marbled red fabric for the lining -- or perhaps a Japanese style print of some sort

I'm not sure

the petals for the holly hock dolls were pressed

and shaded (with Copic markers)

and pressed again (to set the color)

they look pretty good

so now they are ready for me to start stitching together to create the little dollies

not long ago I signed up to do a 2 foot by 2 foot quilt that will be part of The Dream Rocket Project.

these quilts will be displayed at shows around the country (mine will go to the show in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose, CA, to be on display from January1, 2011 to March 1, 2011) then they will go to Huntsville, Alabama, where they will be used to wrap a replica of a Saturn V rocket -- creating a 32,000 square foot quilt

I've been fiddling with ideas for this piece for a few weeks -- thinking about what my "dream for the future of the planet" would be

this morning an idea came to me that I think is a "keeper" --- using the blue planet and some paper dolls (the kind you make by folding up a strip of paper and cutting to make a connected chain of them)

this feels comfortable and right -- let the pattern designing begin!
another afghan square is complete

slowly that box is filling up

finished the first ring of circles in the matting of the flower quilt -- now on to the overlapping row -- trying to stay focus on this -- don't rush, just work steadily along

time to get working!

Friday, July 16, 2010

many irons in the fire

my usual "happy place"

lots of projects being worked on and making nice progress on all of them!

this is after the work of day 4 on this little project

one more day and it should be done

(which means I can make one of these in about 5 hours)

so cute!

yesterday the zipper arrived for the Christmas Sweater, so I'll soon be able to proclaim that one actually finished!

the petals for the holly hock dolls have been all turned and pressed

(accomplished while all of the machine embroidery on another Christmas project was completed)

so the next step on these is to do the shading with the Copic markers to make the coloring more realistic

I'm trying to figure out what I will use as a "stand" for these little cuties -- I'm not sure yet exactly how big it will need to be -- but I'm pretty sure I have something here that can do the job

work on the border of the flower quilt continues -- I've done the first set of circles on two sides now -- while I was working on it last night I was thinking about the adding of the beads that look like water droplets and how neat it will look to put one of those on the tip of the leaves -- like dew drops -- and I'm impatient to get to that point!

this arrived with the zipper

a very cool pattern for a tote bag -- or diaper bag

and I'm pretty sure I can customize it for just about any need


time to get to work -- today I think we'll get the front lawn mowed -- there's no point putting it off for a cooler day as we will be in the upper 90s for the next 7 days at least -- dog days for sure --

Thursday, July 15, 2010

good things in small boxes

I know you've heard that before

I'm here to tell ya that it's still true

the other evening my friend knocked on the door and handed me this box

inside the box was an amazing collections of satins, brocades and a few other pieces of fabric -- all the sort of stuff that is usually used in crazy quilts (with the requisite embroidery of course)


I think I've just added another project to my "to do" list -- but probably not until January -- this might be a good way to test out all the many embroidery stitches on my Designer I in a way that feels like I'm actually working on a project!

yesterday work on the "mat" of the flower piece began -- after a lot of fiddling and fusing and measuring and calculating I ended up just drawing around a spool of thread on a piece of cardboard to create a template that I will use to create over lapped circle quilting all around the mat

the yarn is now all wound

I can tell you that I can wind half a mile of yarn into balls in the time it takes to make 3 cups of ice cream in my little electric ice cream maker

got to love multi-tasking!

I can also tell you that I can cut and turn flower petals (for the holly hock dolls) while keeping an eye on the Designer I cranking along on an embroidery project which can not be shown until after Christmas

so today it is finally a bit cooler -- which means the front lawn might get mowed -- or not -- definitely have to go to the grocery store though, so we'll see how much work gets done in the studio

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rube Goldberg lives!

or is at least being channeled right here in my studio!

as I said yesterday, all of that lovely yarn would have to be wound up into balls before the knitting could begin

thing is, I don't have one of the actual tools intended to do this job with, so there was a bit of puzzling over how to do this (after all, one can not exactly stretch out 1900 yards of yarn in a straight line anywhere!)

this was the solution -- loop the skein of yarn over pegs on the warping board (some tweeking required to find exactly which pegs worked best for the size of the skein), then guide the end of the yarn through the loop on my thread stand (it is designed to hold a large cone of sewing thread) then on to the yarn winder
and it worked quite well, thank you very much!

here is one half of the yarn all neatly wound

I plan to wind the other half today if I can get to it before it gets too hot

(it was too hot in there to do more than one skein yesterday -- there's no air conditioning in our house, and it was 98 degrees and the only swampy is a portable unit in the family room!)

and someone should explain to me why I'm always working on projects that involve sitting under quilts or winding over a mile of wool yarn in the summer!

guess I'm working the warmth of the summer into those projects intended to be used in cooler weather

I'm happy (ok, giddy, delirious, doing figurative cart wheels!) to announce that the quilting of the endless expanses of sky on the flower piece is DONE! today I will start working on the "mat" part of the quilting -- yes, just chugging along (I think I can, I think I can)
since the two big knitting projects are finished, I started on a smaller project

I just love the look of the bright yellow and white stripes

it looks cool and summer-y

and this little goodie is actually 1/3 of the way to being complete

(nothing like a smaller, quicker project to make me feel like I'm actually getting something done!)

I started a project at the sewing machine yesterday too, but it's another Christmas project, so I'll not be showing you any pictures right now
one more block!

waiting time is productive time

yesterday I spent some time working on the necessary paperwork to enter items in the State Fair -- I had been thinking that I didn't have much to enter this year -- au contrair, mon ami! I had a lot more entries than I thought, so the check writing at the beginning of August (when I write the bills for the month) will include a hefty check to them -- so far every year's awards has more than covered the entry fees, so I'm hoping it will again this year

and I'm tickled to say that I've been accepted into a show of my favorite sort -- one that is indoors, and doesn't require me to lift tables, set up a tent or be out in the heat/wind/rain for hours and hours! in November and December a variety of my work (fiber and jewelry) will be on display and for sale in Lambspun -- a most cool store in Fort Collins, Colorado (and the store author Maggie Sefton modeled the yarn store in her mystery novels on) -- the whole twisted path to this show appearance is quite remarkable, and as the time gets closer and I get pieces ready I'll tell you about it -- meantime, I'm just doing a happy dance -- oh, yeah, and adding a whole lot more projects to the "to do" list!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

the return of the archangels

I really did think that this piece was "finished" and was just going to be something that I hung up at Christmas time

maybe not

I recently received a "call for entries" for an exhibit that is sponsored by Sacred Threads

I spent a couple of hours stitching a proper sleeve on the back of it yesterday, and I still need to create the label for the back

as soon as the entry form is available, I'm going to enter it and see what happens

meantime, the endless expanses of blue sky on the Wild About Flowers piece are being worked on (really, it didn't seem like that much sky when I was doing the applique!) -- I have finished quilting the last flower, so the sky's the thing until I get it done -- then it's on to the border

5 loads of laundry yesterday did take a while -- but as I said, one of them was pretty much all new fabric -- which has now been ironed and is waiting for me to fold it into it's little squares -- which brings me to another issue I've been wrestling with -- the fabric storage

those of us who "make art" have this little problem called "the stash" -- the issue being that we need materials to work with -- and most of us want to have materials right there within reach if inspiration strikes a 6 a.m. or in the middle of a winter blizzard!

it isn't that the fabric is taking over the house -- it's just that I'm convinced there must be a more orderly way to keep the colors grouped and make it easier to see what I have on hand -- and there are a few more tubs in the storage shed that have fabric in them that I really should go through and organize into the rest of the stuff

while I was at one of my quilt groups one of the ladies mentioned that she uses a barrister bookcase to organize her fabrics -- I can picture it -- neat little stacks, grouped by color, all visible but protected because they are behind glass doors

yup, and I have one of those bookcases -- but making it part of my studio would take some considerable work -- but it is something to think about for a future studio

meantime, just getting the tubs into shape will help

there will be more "shoveling" of stuff -- (and listing of stuff on eBay!) while I reorganize things

Monday, July 12, 2010

just yarnin' to go there

and here it is

the result of my trip to the dye vat

see, I told you it was a really pretty, aqua-y, turquoise-y blue

it's not completely dry yet -- there are still a few damp-ish spots near the cord that kept it tied into hanks, but since it is forecast to be in the upper 90s (!!!) for the next few days, I'm sure it will be dry enough to wind into balls very soon

oh yes, and that lovely "rack" it's hanging on?

that would the brand new warping board that the DH just finished building for me -- all stained (to match the bench and the bookcase) and sealed with clear polyurethane and ready to be used for measuring out warp thread --

heh, yeah, or putting yarn on to dry!

and now I'm wondering if I can actually set it up so I can use it instead of the chairs when I start winding this stuff up -- we'll see
these may resemble bat wings, but in actuality they are the "sleeves" for the cape into coat project

I finished up the binding off last night, so now I'm ready to do measuring and stitching to finish up that project

it went pretty quickly -- even though the last couple of inches seems to take forever

early in the gardening season we planted peas along the back fence

the combination of a very cool spring followed by a week of 90 degree heat pretty much did them in

Saturday morning I picked everything on the vines -- which was not much

just enough to count as a veggie serving with our dinner last night

we'll be turning the plants into the ground soon

and today I'll be washing --- and washing --- and WASHING ----- last Monday I was still playing critter sitter at my daughter's house and I never got to the laundry after we got home in the middle of the week, so there is a lot of laundry to do

just so you know I've got the priorities straight though -- the first load in was the finished baby quilt (so I can deliver it) and all of the fabric I picked up during my little mini shop hop while we were away -- all those clothes? well - they're next in line