Lovely Sunshine


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Yet another beautiful example of the intersection of art and science (well, nature anyway:) is the embroidery work of Hilary Fayle - done on a substrate of leaves. You can read about her in a newspaper article here or take a look at her website here. Beautiful, inspiring work! I chose two examples that appealed to me - and happen to be rather geometric in design - but she does luscious flowing organic lines as well. Go take a look and enjoy! :)

QuiltCon was this past weekend and I got rather tied up with that ... and with finishing my class project from last week's Zoom class with Carl Hentsch. Here's my take on Carl's design FoxHole:

FoxholeI am really pleased with this piece. Right now it measures about 22" square. I have hung it up on my blackboard and am debating whether to add a border or to finish it as is now. I have to say that I have not done any curved piecing for several years ... but this project went together very easily. I was impressed with myself, truthfully. :)

Look carefully and you might see the fourth bicycle whirling off on the right side ... this kind of reminds me of those big barrel things trick riders show off in at the circus - Wall of Death. LOL!

QuiltCon is the modern quilt movement's dedicated annual convention/show. This year they substituted QuiltCon Together, a completely online virtual show. I was truly impressed with the entire event! I took two half day classes and enjoyed both. The first was with Daisy Aschehoug, Bojagi Inspired Patchwork. The second one was given by Karen Lewis, Screen Print Your Own Quilt. Each of them was an excellent teacher and I learned quite a lot. I listened to each pre-recorded class twice and took careful notes. Now I have to make time to actually do the work. :)

Today was a bit of extra exciting for me. I have not driven more than 5 miles at a time since November 2019. Today I drove down to LaPlata MD to visit Material Girls quilt shop ... a trip of more than 2 hours each direction, all of it along 'superhighway' routes (I95 to I495 to MD 5/301). MG is a Bernina seller and where I bought my personal machine (a Bernina 530). I loaded my Nina into her Tutto case and into my Jeep and off I went. The sun was shining and the temps were in the high 60's (quite a change from the 30s we had three days ago!). It was a pretty day. I must admit I was a bit shaky as the traffic level was what I would call 'normal' (meaning non-rush hour) levels and that is pretty crowded by most standards. Lots of visual stimulation that I have become not used to dealing with. :P 

I made it down fine, though (although I did see a major collision about three cars distance in front of me on I95 south). Ate lunch at the nice little deli around the corner from the quilt shop (Apple Spice Junction) - all masked and social distancing. Was a very not-usual day on the whole compared to the past year!

:) Linda

PS.  I almost forgot! This past Sunday, Feb 20th, was the anniversary of the date on which I became a mother 40 years ago. Time whiplash, anyone? It was my daughter's birthday ... and I think she was much more calm with it than I was. :)


Good Golly!

Gr1_lrgIt is rare for me to get a chance to see the intersection of my fiber love and my science training but here is a fabulous example. These are embroideries of classic illustrations of different kinds of cells in the human brain. You can go here and read all about this exciting and worthy project. Also see more pictures. :)

It has been 13 days since I last posted ... shame on me! Really, I don't have a lot to show for that time out ... but I have been doing things, at my own slow pace. Like most of the US this month, we have been getting real winter weather here with snow, ice and pretty-cold-for-us temperatures. Nothing like the dumps other places have dealt with and certainly not as painful as the southwest is dealing with (we still have power, heat, light and telephone service!) ... but a lot of really good days to stay inside and sew. :)

What have I been doing? Hmm, well, eating some delicious Valentine's Day candy and enjoying a fabric postcard from my modern guild buddy Barbara (who drew my name yet again for this swap:).

Postcard
Postcard

I indulged in one block of the month program this year, a 'chicken scratch' embroidery quilt by Blair Stocker of Wisecraft that I am greatly enjoying. We have gotten our first set of two block designs and I have finished embroidering them. I am thinking about quilting these by the block (which means I need to jump onto that part before the next set come out or fall behind; I have sworn to myself that I will NOT allow this b.o.m. program to languish like way too many others I've subscribed to).

Here are my two blocks:

Snowflake1

Snowflake1close

Snowflake2

Snowflake2closeI really enjoyed making these blocks - the embroidery is pretty simple and feels very 'zen' while stitching. Good for my sanity. :)

What else ... hmm. I started quilting on the first quadrant of the Hope charity quilt my friend Barbara Bennett and I are making. 

HopefirstI am planning on mostly doing straight stitch walking foot quilting on this project. Sadly, I will have to remove most of what I've done so far - my machine was not doing the stitch lengths correctly. Had no trouble doing very short stitches for my foundation piecing (see later) but never managed a decent longer, quilting stitch. I am planning to take my Bernina to have her annual spa treatment and adjustments early next week (weather pending). Fingers crossed that solves her quirks. Sigh.

This past Tuesday I took a (virtual) class with Carl Hentsch via Flying Geese quilt guild, northeast of Baltimore. The class project was a foundation pieced design called Foxhole from Carl's third book, featuring flying geese in a circular layout. It is described in his book New York Beauties and Flying Geese (click for a review). Here are some photos:

Class

Class2

I got this first quadrant done during class.

Classsecondhalf

Here is my second quadrant which I finished during my Wednesday night Sip&Sew zoom.

I am almost finished with sewing together my third quadrant. My plan is to complete the circle and then add a squared off frame to it for a mini wall hanging. Well, as mini as a 20+ inch circle can get. :)

Other than those projects I've been reading, cooking, eating and doing the usual daily things peculiar to this odd time we are enduring. The vaccine progress in my area has gotten to the stage where my husband and I could get shots IF there were vaccines available. So far it appears that doing so will involve a lot of browser jockey-ing and patience. :P

:) Linda


Belated Christmas Joy

Belated-cat-humor-christmas-ecard-lg(With a tip of the hat in the direction of Kitten Academy) I managed a very late holiday gift excitement this week. In the Baltimore Modern guild, we had a holiday swap way back in December. My poor sender, Barbara Shelton, had to wait forever for me to open my bundle of joy. :) I have to tell you, I had mixed feelings when I did - I was totally bowled over by all the incredible goodies she sent me ... and ashamed (in retrospect) of how little (in comparison) I did for the person to whom I sent (Judy Dunlap - I owe you for sure J.D.!).

Knowing that my favorite color combo currently is hot pink and orange, Barbara sent me this bunch of great swag. I think I will put it all together and make the ultimate travel sewing kit. :)

CardFiber theme card to set the mood

ExtrafqBeautiful fat quarter of batik to make my tote

MiniCute mini quilt for my sewing nest

MinicloseClose up to show the details

MugrugfrontMug rug with my own initial monogram

MugrugbackBack of my mug rug

Needlebook frontPert needle book for my needles and scissors

NeedlebookinsideCute insides with orange felt pages and pocket for tiny snips

 

NotebookNotebook cover with monogram

NotebookinsideInside with page marker and replaceable notes

 

Pinnie

Pincushion with monogram and pretty pink pins

Pouchoutside

Zipper pouch to hold my goodies

Pouchinside

With plenty of pockets and room inside

Fob

Pull tab goodie

TularibbonLovely Tula Pink ribbon to decorate my tote

I can tell you that it was Christmas all over again as I unwrapped and petted all these pretty things. Sewing friends are the best friends after all!

:) Linda


Jackpot

SlabfinalHere is how my scrap 'slab' turned out  in the end. It is about half the size I'd like for making a placemat (my current go-to use for random piecing:) so I know I will make more at some point. :) I found a very interesting Pintrest board for quilts made with slabs/crumbs here that you might find fun.

Today was my usual Columbia Friends zoom - my modern quilting buddies meet from 1 until about 3 pm  every Saturday to sew and chat. Today I cut a new gingham block and started the embroidery for my first Snowflake Sampler block. Last night I browsed through my 'chicken scratch' pattern archives and found some other designs I might work into this project before the end ... most of them could be little inserts to make the quilt larger or to include in a border. :)

By the time I finished today I had done a little more than half of the star block embroidery. Progress! :)

Tomorrow is a zoom sew-in with even more of the modern quilt makers. The sew-in target is to make the Snowflake quilt but I will be working on a different project - I ordered a nifty background fabric for my quilt but it has not yet arrived (sigh). Instead I'll be working on making Tea Time  by Jordan Fabrics using a strip roll of Christmas prints. I don't have a Christmas quilt and I thought a sofa throw might be a nice touch. Bought the roll from Bear's Paw in Towson, MD the last time I was there. :)

The title of this post refers to my snail mail pile from this afternoon. I definitely hit the jackpot of deliveries today!

I got a new-ish book I need for a zoom class I am taking later this month:

Book

The class project is a round design with flying geese and a New York Beauty from this book. I already know how to do this my way (could have drafted every pattern in this book:) but I always like to see how other people solve the same problems - can always learn something new. :) 

I also got a cross stitch booklet for the 12 Days of Christmas - I quite liked this designer's style when I saw the pattern. I think I will be making separate ornaments from each 'day'.

12days

Finally, I got my mini quilt for the Modern Quilt Guild's swap. My swap partner, Jane Bitz in Washington (state) sent a glorious small quilt that I LOVE:

Swallows

I love the swallows flying motifs, the swirly quilting design that looks like wind, the colors, the way one 'bird' is fading away and others are approaching (visually). Delightful! She even hand quilted the entire piece:

Swallowone

See her lovely stitches? :) This little gem goes up on my living room gallery wall as soon as I can get my son to post it there ... and I'll be enjoying it for ages. Happy sighs.

So, on the whole I had a good day today. Did not try to use my Bernina again .. maybe I'll remember to do that tomorrow since my Tea Time blocks will beg to be joined together into a top.

:) Linda

Ps: I almost forgot to tell that I attended an interesting lecture zoom presentation by Tamara King this evening, hosted by the Lake Oswego Library. Ms. King talked about quilts used for story telling and personal expression, especially for social and political commentary or outrage. The talk was recorded so I'm sure you can find a link on the LOL system's website if you are interested. I found it fascinating!


Friday Sunday

Picture8In today's random walk around the Web I found this picture of an antique offering basket from Bali. All that white stitchery holding it together includes white beads. I think it is beautiful and felt like sharing. :) If you click on the photo, you can go read about what the basket is for and how it is used to share the wealth.

Today was a rare beautiful winter day - mild temperatures (mid-40s), sunny blue sky, fresh clean air. :) I spent most of the sun shine time in my sewing room, visiting my friends Barbara and Patty via Zoom.

I started off trying to quilt another Valentines Day placemat. Had problems with my machine, though. The stitch length kept being too small - when I machine quilt, I set the stitch length to about 3.5 (maybe 8-10 stitches per inch?). The machine kept making much smaller stitches, consistent with maybe a setting of 1.0. Grr. I rebooted it, cleaned the bobbin race, rethreaded, cleared the memory ... nothing made a difference. Guess it really IS time for Nina to go to the cleaning spa. :)

Since I could not do any machine stitching, I picked up my newest handwork project to start on. I signed up for the Wisecraft Snowflake block of the month for this year which includes designs done with 'chicken scratch' or 'depression lace' embroidery. This is a technique I've wanted to play with for some time ... and now I have a chance. :) As embroidery methods go, this one is fairly elementary ... but the visual effects are pretty imho.

The design is worked on gingham fabric (a woven simple check print) and the pattern creator calls for 1/4" gingham - that is, gingham with each square being 1/4". Nowhere local could I find gingham fabric of any kind so I researched it online - every place with 1/4" gingham fabric was sold out. I found 3/8" gingham eventually (Kaufman kitchen window gingham) and ordered that as the closest available. Of course, if a pattern is drafted to size for 1/4" squares and I have 3/8" squares, I will need more/larger fabric portions to make the same design.

Ok, so the designer recommended cutting 11" squares for a finished 10" block ... and I cut 12" squares. Turns out that is not enough bigger to do the job.

Here is my measurement of the gingham size:

3:8inch

Yes, indeedy, those squares measure 3/8" each. :) So I started in on my first design ... before too long I discovered that the background square I had cut at 12" was NOT big enough:

ToosmallSee the square right at the edge where my needle is 'parked'? That is where the next row of stitching is supposed to start. Nope, not happening. :) RATS, I will have to cut another - larger - background gingham piece.

I have the floss I want to use on order (of course it's not here yet) ... in the meantime, I thought I'd use the bit of gingham I have been stitching as a kind of swatch and try some different threads to see how they compare. I could not find any plain white size 12 perle cotton for the X stitches (what's called for in the pattern) but I did have some other pretty white threads with glimmer I could try. Also had some lovely things to use for the 'o' part of the embroidery (6 strands of regular embroidery floss like DMCs is the recommended thread). Here is my experiment:

Leftover

Leftoverclose

You might have to click to embiggen the image to see the shine on these threads. Some of the 'x' stitches are embroidered with Dazzle which is a spooled thread with mylar in it for shine; I _think_ the rayon thread I used to compare it to is Candlelight but I'm not sure (no label on the spool of thread).

I worked the 'o' stitches in several kinds of thread - #12 valdani hand dyed perle cotton, some variegated DMC floss, and some size 12 Aurifil thread. You can see there is quite a variation in the diameters of these threads and thus the thickness of the line created.

Mind you, I did all this in the hour and a half of chatting with my friends on Zoom. Tomorrow I hope to cut a bigger gingham square and make my first block. (fingers crossed) Who knows, maybe my Nina will have gotten over its snit and will sew to spec - one can always hope.

:) Linda


Snow Sewing

Bird tracks

Little song bird tracks on my front step, near the feeder.


Bird tracks

Icicles hanging from the gutters in sunshine.

We still have snow on the ground and the forecast is calling for more this weekend. Rare in Maryland for snow to last so long on the ground. :) Not unheard of, just unusual. I have been sewing in little bursts, trying to take it easy on my arthritis pains. :P

I am the block of the month pattern coordinator for my 'traditional' guild, Faithful Circle. Here is the February block - I try to choose simple shapes and designs that don't take a lot of time but that can be set in several ways, according to the drawing winner's desires. :)

Blue yukonThis one is called Blue Yukon and I think

a block-to-block layout would be exciting.

I did manage to make some scrap slabs using a new-to-me technique (which I have clearly not completely mastered, yet:). It was much more time consuming than my usual mile-a-minute constructions, but I think it has visual appeal.

Red slab
Red slabI got almost all of my red/pink/hot color scraps sewn up by the time I had finished and joined these two slabs. I"ll probably do this again with the smaller bits in my soon-to-overflow scrap basket ... practice will help. :)

The last thing I managed to do since my previous post was to make the February block for Rochelle, this month's Queen Bee in my Stash Beehive. Off to the post office to send it to her later this afternoon. :)

Feb

This is a 16" block. I got to use my new 6.5" BlocLoc ruler to trim up all those half square triangles. I was pleased with the accuracy I managed. Scrappy, of course, which is my favorite (and, thankfully, ok with the Queen:).

Other than this sewing which I did in twenty minute bursts, I have been eating and reading and occasionally cooking. Life as usual in a socially distancing household waiting for a vaccine appointment.

:) Linda


Snow!

SnowWhen I woke up this morning there was snow coming down outside my windows. :) Unlike most Marylanders, I like snow so the view was pleasant. :) It is still snowing out as I type this post and I'm not sure how much we will get in total. Being as close to the cities and the coast as we are, we usually don't get much more than a few inches.

I spent most of today in a drugged stupor, sadly. My neck issues are flaring up again and the heavy duty muscle relaxants I take to reduce the pain and inflammation tend to put me to sleep. :P It's not a happy day when I wake up in pain.

I have managed to do a couple of good sewing things in the past few days. I finished making up the blocks for this month's Queen Bee for my Stash Beehive (#4):

StashbeeThis month's queen asked for positive/negative red and white Sawtooth Stars. I had to go out to Springwater Designs (my local quilt shop) earlier in the week and buy red and white fabrics - apparently I don't care much for red as there is very little of it in my working stash. Shrug.

I got sidetracked sewing scraps together in a new-to-me way on Saturday (during my Columbia Friends zoom meeting). I dug out my warm colored scraps (red, pink, peach, hot pink, orange, etc.) and, using dark purple as my 'leading' started sewing. Much slower and more fiddly way to use scraps than my go-to log cabins but very cool, visually! :) No photos, yet.

I'm hoping the snow gets cleared away from the streets in time for me to order groceries on Wednesday.

:) Linda


Recovering

Jeweled bugI have always had a fascination with insects - and this one is especially enticing. :) Beads, gemstones (that's malachite, that green marbled stone), handwork AND bugs - what more can you want? :) This glorious creation is one of many shown on this web page. Take a look and enjoy!

I have been incommunicado for some time (longer than I thought! eighteen days without a post), dealing with what I _thought_ was a cold (and yes, I got a negative on my Covid test) ... but turns out to be an especially bad outbreak of allergies. Well, that's what my doctor thinks and I agree (reluctantly). Sigh. I've been on antihistamines and anti-inflammatories for two weeks and it is starting to ebb (not go away, sadly, but get better). I have been doing little more than sleeping, eating, reading and the very occasional errand. Borrrrring!

Today the shun shined into my sewing room window so I managed to do a little work there as an excuse to soak up some photons and make a little progress. I joined an intra-guild swap with my modern group to make Valentines post cards and managed to finish mine to send. Here are photos:

Rose postcard entire

I'm calling this my Wonky Rose postcard. Along the theme of Valentines Day - a rose for your love. :) Here is a close up of the center showing the big stitch quilting I did:

Rose closeIt's a bit big for a mailable post card - 5"x6.5" - so I will take it in envelope to my send-ee. First I have to find some appropriate holiday candy for her to go with. :)

One of the errands I ran earlier this week was (among other stops) to go to the Mother Nature shop and buy a new feeder for my bird station - a guaranteed-to-be-squirrel-proof suet feeder for the bug eating birds in my neighborhood. I am pleased to report that, so far, no squirrels have invaded the supply (unlike the decimation they wrought with the usual suet holder/feeder I tried before). Also, the birds are eating themselves happy. I came home today from another set of errands and caught a (very distant) picture of a small woodpecker helping herself:

WoodpeckerI _think_ this is a Downy Woodpecker. Probably a female or at least not showing breeding season plumage. Happy with the goodies, that's for sure. :) 

While I was at the Mother Nature store, I also looked for a second 'shepherd's crook' to hang my other seed feeder but they were out of stock. Maybe next week? :) I enjoy looking out my front window to see the little birds come to the station. I love to hear their songs in the spring and summer so I figure I should feed them through the lean times, too.

Otherwise life has been quiet lately.

Linda


A Finish!

Tada2

I don't finish things very often so I feel that I should take a bow here ... even though it wasn't easy. :) Today during our Friday Sewing Together time, I finished my Scrub Rose wall hanging. Well, except for labeling it. Have to think about just how I want to do that. :)

Scrub rose small

I promised that the edges _are_ regular and even, though they don't look like it in this photo. :) Can you see the quilting textures? You might have to click and embiggen to notice them. This measures about 15"x24" and uses hand and machine embroidery, hand and machine applique and machine quilting. The dark blue circles are hand dyed wool, the rest is cotton quilting fabrics. I am sooooo pleased. :)

Now I have to get in touch with my designated partner for the Modern Quilt Guild mini swap and let her know this piece is coming - as uncertain as the mail has become lately, I intend to send it off soon rather than wait until the February 2nd deadline.

The  past couple of days have been difficult for our country - I just hope there are negative consequences for the people who attacked our legislature. There need to be deterents for armed insurrection beyond general outcry! Sheesh.

I had a video conference with my doctor this morning ... he is prescribing me some meds for this (I think) lingering cold/congestion ... and sending me for Covid testing on Monday morning. Sigh.

Hope the sun shines tomorrow like it did today!

:) Linda


More Gray

M8PeIrHrGUPsRjNDXuNi_urbanxstitch1In my on-going theme of needlework in very public places, how about this image? :) This ultra sized cross stitch ducky parade was created by an artist known as Urban XStitch.  You can go here and read about him/her and other 'pushing the envelope' embroidery artists working today. It tickles my fancy to think of looking at ducky embroideries on my neighborhood fences. :) (Especially here in Columbia where I live with our covenants and architectural committee approval requirements:)

The weather was bleak today - more heavy gray, wet (but no appreciable rainfall), chilly (high 40s). Unpleasant and a good reason to stay in and sew! I managed to do a few house chores (chiefly gathering and taking out the recycling for tomorrow's o-dark-thirty pickup) and read quite a bit. I did do a little more quilting on my Scrub Rose wall hanging:

Bottom
BottomI like the texture created from matchstick quilting - I chose to do mine in irregularly spaced rows for a more 'natural' look. I might be able to finish this tomorrow - just have the upper right quadrant to go. Oh, then I have to do the free motion parts in the bloom itself. Hmm, maybe two days to finish?

My machining time is being cut short by difficulty with my neck - I have some fused vertebrae in my neck (C4,5,6 I think) that pinch my spinal chord - a fairly common arthritis by-product. Lately they are acting up more than usual and looking downward (like toward my machine) is giving me pounding headaches and makes my hands go numb. Sigh. If it's not one thing, it's another. :)

Looking forward to tomorrow - maybe there will be some sunshine?

:) Linda