Thursday, June 30, 2011

swabbing the deck and other fun

when we moved into this house there was nothing but mud when you stepped out of the side door of the garage

the DH remedied that by building a deck out there - which is nice because it also provides an area where I can move tubs around when I work in the storage shed

but it's been a few years it looked pretty dirty and the wood was drying out

a few days ago we scrubbed it with a bleach solution to clean it off

and yesterday we rolled on the stain/sealer stuff -- it looks really good now -- it still smells like fresh stain so we'll be staying off of it for a while

let the fringing begin

did just a little bit of it yesterday afternoon - being careful to count out the beads that go at the ends so I get the same number on each side

I think I'm going to like the way this looks

the quilting on the cone flower piece has begun

yesterday afternoon I put together the piece work that is the backing for this piece out of fabrics that came with the challenge print

actually, the pieces with the flowers and birds on them ARE the challenge print

(I just hope this challenge group is as open minded about the use of their challenge fabric as the Hoffman folks are -- you just have to use it somewhere!)

after I put the back together I pinned the "sandwich" and last night I started on the quilting -- I had rust colored thread to start on that area, but not really the right yellow -- I'll be taking care of that today

time to get moving -- I want to get the lawn mowed before it gets really hot!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the rework continues

progress continues on the lapis piece

the edge has been all finished and now I'm working on the bail (you can see the progress in this picture)

as soon as I get the bail done I can start on the fringing

in keeping with the "rip it out and do it again" theme that seems to be running here this week, last night the green knitting got ripped and re-cast on -- I had gotten into row number 4 before I realized exactly what the pattern meant by a couple of instructions -- heh, not "tinking" four rows of 112 stitches each -- better to just frog it and begin again

this morning I removed all of the printer cartridges from my printer to take them for recycling, and from now until my computer returns I'm without a printer -- one of the four cartridges in it needs to be replaced, but I refuse to buy another one for a printer that I've already bought a replacement for -- and I'm not willing to put the software for the new printer on the "loaner" computer

geesh -- maybe the machines are ganging up on me and telling me to go work in the studio instead!
meantime, in the garage workshop

the DH is using pieces of scrap cedar fencing to create a cool bird house

my son-in-law put up railing around the deck at his house and gave the DH some scrap pieces

this is what he built out of it

there is more of this wood -- I'm hoping for more birdhouses

speaking of birds, this morning I spotted 3 robins using the dog's wading pool as a bird bath -- wish I'd had my camera at the ready -- who knows, maybe they'll be back

time for breakfast

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

one project is going well

this project at least is going well so far

the 2 birds and the 3 butterflies that I selected to applique right on to the petals went on without any problems

today I'll be fusing the small butterflies together so they can be attached in strategic places

last night as I was appliqueing the last bird down it occurred to me that it would be fun to make the back of the quilt look like the back of a post card -- this thought brought on by the fact that I'll need to make the "sandwich" soon, so I need to solve the back issue and by the piece of fabric that came in the packet that looks like writing all over it

we'll see how that goes

meantime, the palm tree frond stitching has been entirely removed - fortunately without any further damage to the fabric

this morning I decided that it might be better to use fabric and perhaps fuse it over the "problem area"

'tis the season to tear out and start over evidently

this is the piece I started out with that yesterday's picture of the blue "chain" is for

I had taken the edges off to redo them in an attempt to get the piece to lay flat (it had a little "ripple" look to it that I found objectionable)

uh, apparently the edges were not the issue -- the bead embroidery was

so yesterday, after I had tried the new edge thing, I took the edge off again -- and all of the bead embroidery right up to the "bezel" of beads that holds the stone -- then I trimmed it down to just the stone with that bezel and I'm doing the edging there

the finished piece will be smaller, but I think it will a lot better

it's time to start turning this box of yarn into the Christmas projects it is destined to become

last night I did the swatching for the first project -- and discovered that while a size 5 needle was too small for gauge, a size 6 needle was too large -- so I'll be knitting this project with one of each -- which makes gauge perfectly

weird -- but it works so I'm going with it

over the weekend (the day after I had mailed off my Hoffman quilt for the competition) there was an article in our local newspaper about an award winning quilt that was lost somewhere between the offices of a magazine and the artist that created it (you can read the article here) -- which of course made me feel a brief moment of panic -- this morning I used the tracking software on the post office's website and got the "package delivered" message -- which made me feel better, but I'll still be watching for that post card to return to me from them that tells me it arrived (ok, it's the proverbial wearing of belt and suspenders!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

on why I need to have more than one project at a time

I was getting pretty excited about having the stitching of the palm fronds finished

until I tried to remove the stabilizer and discovered that while removing the "tear away" stabilizer after a machine embroidery project may be easy, in this case it was not

there was a brief snit on my part -- then I set the piece aside and worked on something else so that I can consider some other approach -- fusing perhaps -- we'll see

this item was much more satisfactory

the chain for the piece that is being reworked is complete, and it looks really nice

I like that swirl of beads around the outside -- it gives the necklace a really nice textured look, but it is still comfortable to wear (yup, I tried it!)

so now I'm attaching the leather backing to the beaded pendant and while I'm working on that I'm contemplating how long the fringe needs to be

I can knit a custom Christmas sock in less than 2 weeks without a lot of strain

finished this last night

and I love how the foot came out (I was unsure how that would go since the original pattern didn't have any kind of figural in that area)

and the whole sock looks pretty cool

this means that aside from charity afghan squares I don't have anything on the sticks

there will be swatching of that green yarn that arrived a couple of weeks ago forth with

from the gratuitous cuteness file

my daughter took this picture of my grandson playing with the monkey toy I knit for him

the toy is cute -- the grandson is even cuter

love it!

these kind of pictures just make my day

time to go get that laundry done

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a small side trip

yesterday we made a trip to visit with my folks -- mom needed me to hem some drapery panels for her, so I took along my sewing machine and by the end of the afternoon I had all of them ready to be hung as soon as they decide what kind of rods they're going to put up

sometimes the trip to visit my parents is short and painless

and sometimes all it takes is one driver doing something out of the ordinary and we sit in traffic for twice as long

yesterday morning someone had zigged when they should have zagged and had an encounter with either another car or the underside of a bridge, so the trip took quite a bit longer than it usually does

ok, so I get more afghan squares finished -- one was close to being finished when we set off, so it's done, plus the second one started and finished on the drive -- and another one more than half finished

after dinner I did do some work on projects

the chain for the necklace is all zipped -- and the loop is finished -- and I started the spiral around the tube

and the palm fronds on the Hawaii piece are almost finished

maybe a bit more work will get done today

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gardening -- it's not just about eating

this was the harvest from yesterday's garden excursion

more broccoli and onions thinned out of the onion patch

one of the reasons we garden is we really enjoy having fresh produce that we know hasn't been sprayed with pesticides or washed with water that has something sinister in it (unless the city water system has gone amok)

it is a lot of work and we hope for only rain to fall from the sky on it, not hail

but there is something more that happens when you spend time planting and watering and weeding

you actually LOOK at the plants

I have never grown broccoli before, and the variety we are growing is not the same one you can commonly get in the grocery store, so it looks a bit different

and one of them got away from us and some of the little flowers started to open up

I cut it off and put it in a glass in the kitchen, where the flowers continued to open


perhaps this is one of the reasons many of my art quilts include some kind of botanical image

I keep my fabrics in plastic tubs sorted by color

for a while I've had a pretty tall stack of them in the corner of the studio

a few days ago the whole stack tumbled over (fortunately no one was in the way of the ensuing avalanche of plastic and fabric!)

one of the smaller tubs -- the size I'm trying to get everything moved in to -- got damaged in the fall -- there in the left hand picture you can see the fracture in the bottom of it, the result of hitting the table on the way down

yesterday I picked up those two tubs in the right hand picture -- the fabric in the broken tub will go in one of them and the fabric that was sitting on top of the stack of tubs will go in the other one plus some of the stuff from one of the big tubs -- at least that's the plan

we'll see

and when I got the tubs, I got a frame for that picture of Mr Cute

heh, looks good hanging on that wall

time to get busy

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dragon at Bay -- Quilt on it's way

every time I submit a quilt (or anything else) to a competition there is a certain amount of dragon slaying that goes on

I can say that it has gotten a lot easier, however

today when I head out the door to run some errands I'll be taking these two packages to the local mail station to send them off

the bottom one is a box full of afghan squares that go to Michigan to be turned into afghans (our last batch went to Alabama, the next group will go to Joplin, MO, and you can learn more by clicking on the Close Knit Hugs button there on the right side of the blog)

that top tube is the Hoffman Challenge entry -- about 3 weeks ahead of the deadline

so this is the next due

all of the flower is stitched down now, so this afternoon I'll be playing with some fusing to see if I can create some butterflies with wings that will stand up away from the surface

that should be interesting

and I have about half of the palm tree fronds stitched, so that project is moving along quite nicely too

the strip of right angle weave is now being rolled and made into a long skinny tube that will become the necklace "chain" for this piece

I hope to get it all "zipped" up today so I can start working on the next step -- a spiral of beads that will run around the chain

or at least that is the plan -- we'll see how that goes

got giraffes?

even leaving off the originally planned row of Santa's this is still going to be a plenty big Christmas sock for Mr Cute

the heel is turned

which means the sock is 60% complete

once again today we went out and did yard work before breakfast -- and in the hour we were outside doing that the temperature rose almost 10 degrees

its going to be a hot one

when we get back from that errand run we'll be hiding out in the family room -- the one place where we have a portable swampy cooler

time to go fix some breakfast

Thursday, June 23, 2011

a break for gratuitous cuteness

I haven't posted much about the ever fabulous Mr Cute for a while

I'm still working on borrowed computer time and my daughter's computer had it's mother board fail (fortunately she's still under warranty!), so we're just not working with our usual tools

Mr Cute, however has a new "tool" -- er, TOOTH!

actually I hear he now has two, but I haven't seen it yet

you can tell here that he wasn't too thrilled with his mom and I trying to get a picture of it -- sorry kid!

I did work in the studio yesterday, just don't have any pictures to show you today

and we've already mowed the back yard this morning, so after we make a trip to the grocery story I'll be back to work on stuff again

maybe some pictures tomorrow

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

it's a frame up

my very talented son in law painted this piece and gave it to us for Christmas

this week we finally got it into a frame

we're slow, but we get there eventually

still need to put a hanging wire on the back of the frame and figure out exactly where on the art wall I'll hang it, but we're a step closer

and meantime, in the garage workshop, the DH is using his new "toy"

this is the framing for the underside of the top of the table he's building for our daughter

he built the jig out of scrap wood


and it's really nice that his shoulder has healed up enough that he can go out into the workshop and do this kind of thing again

I was reminded when I went out to take this picture that there is a chair frame out there waiting for me to haul it into the house and put the upholstery fabric on it

perhaps this week we can get started on that

having finished the zebra bracelet, it was time to get into another beading project

there on the left is what this piece looked like before I started attacking it with the scissors

I took the chain apart and removed the backing and the outside two rows of beading

then I did some repair work in the field beads and trimmed the backing to fit better and pinned the pieces together

since I want to use the beads that were in the chain as fringe tips, I needed to create a new chain, so I started a right angle weave piece (there at the bottom of the right hand picture) -- this will take a little while but I think I'll be a lot happier with the way it looks when I'm done

the petals are complete

today's stitching will be the top of the cone flower, which will be that same dark rusty color that that first layer of petals were

which means that maybe by tomorrow I'll be ready to start fussy cutting the birds and butterflies out of the print fabric

so far I'm pleased with the way this looks, and with how quickly it's progressing

right now I think it will be very possible to have this done before the deadline

the trunk of the palm tree is all attached

and the stitching of the fronds has begun

when I did the feathers on the Hoffman piece I did them pretty much free hand without using a hoop

when I got to the quilting stage, that created some challenges, so this time I've drawn what I want to stitch on a piece of tear away stabilizer that is pinned to the fabric to guide my stitching

and I'm using a hoop

we'll see if this solves all those issues

the last section of the Christmas sock leg portion is complete

originally I was going to do another section with Santa on it, but when I got half way through the trees it was beginning to resemble a knee high for a giraffe, so I've decided this is enough

at the next knitting session I'll start the heel

which means this is now 50% complete -- YIPPEE!

today, being pay day, we'll be making our monthly Costco run, and a trip to the hardware store for some stuff

time to get moving

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

zebra bracelet complete

ta da!

the bracelet is now finished and ready to be listed on the Etsy store


today's bead work will involve taking apart those two lapis pieces that need to be fringed

the borders on the Hawaii piece are now all stitched

the top left and bottom right corners are mitered which is why I had to cut the wide pieces twice

I forgot to allow for that mitered corner


now it's on to adding that palm tree silhouette in the bottom right corner

I'll probably get started on that part today

stitching of big yellow petals on the cone flower piece continues -- two and a half petals are done -- only one and a half to go

over a month ago I was talking about working on a piece to enter in the fine arts division of the State Fair

then I went away to the conference

and then my computer crashed

and I wanted to get the Hoffman piece done

and start on the Keepsake competition piece

yesterday I was reminded by one of my email groups that I had declared this a goal to be completed for THIS YEAR, and I needed to quit letting the "fear factor" stop me from getting to work on it

yesterday afternoon I pulled out the paints and the stamps (the rubber stamps were already cut) and within half an hour I had the stamping done for the two panels I needed to do

dragon at bay for one day anyway


Monday, June 20, 2011

success and chugging along

NOW it's ready

yesterday afternoon I finished stitching the last of the beads into the pattern and coated the back of the piece with fray check

I use that stuff by the pints when I'm doing a lot of bead embroidery, but I think of it as an inexpensive insurance policy to stabilize the back of the work with all those many, many stitches that hold all the beads in place

today I will start stitching the bead work and the upholstery velvet together with that metal cuff sandwiched inside
way back last fall I was working on this hat

even though it had been through the washer for felting several times it still didn't seem quite right and I was feeling a little discouraged about it

fast forward to March -- I decided that the water heater just wasn't getting the water hot enough -- there comes a time when the small saving on the gas it would take to heat the water a bit hotter is more than offset by the cost of the water being wasted in the upstairs bathroom waiting for the water to get hot enough to shower (or wash dishes!)

over the weekend I ran across the hat again -- wait -- what if it just needed a hotter wash to improve that felting?

this morning I unpinned all of the flowers and vines and leaves -- I'm going to run this thing through the washer again with the new, hotter water -- we'll see if I'm right

the border on the Hawaii piece is being stitched on

I have the top edge and the left hand side all stitched on -- they are narrow pieces (about 2 inches wide)

the bottom edge and the right hand side are wider and my plan is to applique the trunk of a palm tree silhouette in the bottom right corner and have it curve over into the "ocean" and to add all of the fronds as thread painting -- sort of like I did with the feathers on the hats

we'll see how that goes

as predicted the petals of the cone flower on the top layer are taking a considerably longer time to stitch -- I got one and a half stitched yesterday

more work today on that

this is the newest toy that I got for the DH -- consider it a sort of Father's Day/Anniversary gift

he has one of these tables already, and he has used it to build a lot of furniture as well as work on a lot of other projects

recently our daughter asked him to build her a table for her printer to fit in a specific place

he wrote down all the measurements and drew the rough sketch

and he mentioned that it would be helpful to have a second one of these tables to do the construction of that table

then the local Ace Hardware had it on sale

ok, 'nuf said!

I'm expecting great projects (who knows, maybe I'll come up with some new ideas too)

this morning it's like we're back in April again -- it's been raining off and on all night and it's cool -- the high today will only be in the 60s -- so no outdoor work today

just laundry and lots of studio time

I'm okay with that

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hoffman Challenge Complete -- and some other things too

it's done

I finally decided to title it "First Saturday in May"

and I have the paperwork written up so that on Wednesday I can do the online entry then package it up

I like the way this came out

I'm trying not to get too excited about this entry, because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't make the traveling show like last year's entry did

no you are not seeing double

no I didn't put the same picture in there twice

there actually was enough of that fabric to make two quilt tops

and since I already had it cut into strips in the first place, I decided to just go ahead and make them up

nice! and way before the July meeting date too!!

after thinking for quite a while about the effect that I wanted on the Hawaii piece, I finally got out the water color pencils yesterday and put in the sun rays from behind the mountain

I was a little intimidated by the idea that I could have totally messed up the whole top of the piece, but I didn't

it came out really well

so now I need to add the borders and the palm tree

not quite ready to go to the quilting stage, but getting closer -- perhaps this afternoon I will go through the fabric tubs and find the right fabrics for that

the third layer of color is finished on the cone flower piece

today I'll do the top layer of petals -- or at least start on them -- there will be a lot more stitching to do on them

this piece is pretty neat already, and I'm thinking about doing a smaller version and perhaps put it in a mat to be framed (this one is 30" x 30" -- I'm thinking something more like 10" x 10")

we'll see

at least for now something like that is on the "project to do" list

every time I change to a different place to get the metal cuffs that I put inside these bracelets I need to make adjustments to the size of the beading piece that goes on the outside

the new ones are a bit longer

so even though I finished all of the beading on the layout yesterday, I'm not really done -- I need to add about 3/4 of an inch more -- it's all drawn out there on the left side -- it might even get done today

and yes, I found the upholstery velvet, so as soon as the beading is the right size I can start putting the sandwich together

penguins complete!

these little (?) guys took a lot longer to knit up than I thought they would

they are also bigger than I though they'd be

I'll be making some adjustments to the plan for the rest of the sock

we'll see if I can get something done today