Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lots of stitching goin' on

More progress on my Sumptuous Surfaces homework. I wish my homework in school had been this interesting!!
Week 3 - far hills
(click for access to larger sizes)

Lots of french knots and bullion knots in #5 perle cotton, and wooden beads have been added. I especially like the little donut beads covered in silk floss. They came out so cute! I'm sure they and others like them will be showing up in alot of my stitching from now on... they would make great flower centers, bubbles, and moons, etc. I had planned to cover the far hills completely in heavy embroidery but thought better of that plan and just began filling in the remainder with straight stitches. I think the contrast between the smooth and rough adds to the design.

Tonight I'll finish up the far hills and start on the closer ones. I have noticed that the road seems to be disappearing amongst the heavier stitching, so I may have to revisit it and beef it up a bit. We'll see what happens as more stitching is added.

There is lots of beautiful work coming out of this class. If you are interested in some of the other pieces being done, please visit the Flickr group that Sharon established for the class. Lots of yummy eyecandy! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces - Week 3 and Harry Potter

I've been working on my Sumptuous Surfaces piece, as you can see.
Week 3 - beginning
Not too much done, as we have been working on the house... again... Just trying to recover from the past few weeks, sorting and rearranging. We are continuing to pare down a little here and a little there...

sorry, got sidetracked!

Anyway, I've just been using #3 and #5 perle cotton to start by using buttonhole wheels as trees and huge french knots to represent bushes. Lots more to do, of course, but it's a start.

I've also been trying to catch up on my Harry Potter reading. I only read about 1/3 of the way through the 5th book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) when we had to suddenly move to Phoenix and that's where everything stopped. So, I'm reading book #5 now, then on to #6 and the final book. It's too good a story to not finish so I'm determined to do it, even if it does cut into my stitching time!

Anyway, I'll be back in a day or so with a more coherent post... I guess I'm tired! ;0)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Week 2 of Sumptuous Surfaces

***Edited to fix the links that didn't work... sorry 'bout that! They should be OK now!***

I've been working on my piece for Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class at Joggles. I found a nice piece of 28 count Irish linen at Joann's and then sat down and started pulling goodies out of my stash in shades of brown (we have to use a monotone pallet). Here's what I came up with...
Silk and cotton floss, #5 perle cotton, tapestry wool, wood and stone beads, glass bugle and seed beads and a couple of old necklaces. No lace or anything on this piece, just embroidery and beads!

My back is giving me problems so I have spent most of the weekend on the heating pad (such a wonderful thing) full of ibuprofen, so there has been plenty of time for stitching. This week we were to start the basic outlines and fill in the low relief areas... in my case the sky and road.
Week 2
The sky is done in chevron stitch using 2 strands of silk floss and pulled each time to open up the linen a bit. The far hill top is stitched in more silk floss in back stitch, then whipped with 1 strand of slightly darker floss. The near hill top is done in chain stitch using 3 strands of silk. The far road is chain stitch in silk and the near road is outlined in Portuguese Stem Stitch and filled in with running stitch. It pulled a bit at the bottom border but it'll do. The borders are done in back stich. I still need to do the corners (they were covered with the hoop so I couldn't stitch them on the hoop) but I'm leaving them for now. I may do a different technique at the corners... I haven't decided. Anyhoo... now to see what Week 3 will bring!

The Midsummer Night's Dream CQ is still very much in my mind; however, this class will probably be the extent of my fiber work until Nat gets the center panel painted. I just don't want to do too much in the way of piecing until I have the center panel to inspire me. If I choose the wrong colors for the blocks closest to it, I'll be very unhappy with myself, so I'm waiting. I may start piecing the outer blocks though... we'll see how my back does this week.

That's all for now... hope you are all having a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces

I'm taking Sharon Boggon's class Sumptuous Surfaces through Joggles.com. I've been intrigued by her freeform embroidery ever since I first set eyes on it and jumped at the chance to take this class.

The first week's assignment was to determine the Concept, or the idea, for our first piece. At first I was going to use something from the Midsummer Night CQ but after reading through the class forum and seeing all the great ideas that were coming out, I changed my mind. Many (or at least the ones posting on the class forum) of the people taking the class delved pretty deeply and came up with some personal insights and symbols that they wanted to explore. So... I did the same thing.

I sat down last night after I came home from work and put my feet up and just let my mind wander a bit. Different ideas moved through my mind and I visualised them one by one, exploring and teasing gently to see what floated out from each one. Of all the ideas that came by, the one that was foremost was the personal freedom I have felt since I moved to Phoenix. With this concept out in the open, I got my visual journal out and started playing with ideas for my concept of freedom. At first I thought I'd use something from Arizona, like a saguaro, a gecko or a sunset... but these were the symbols of Arizona, not the symbols for the personal freedom I feel here.

So... what are symbols of personal freedom to me?
- A dove flying free? Rather trite.
- A hot air balloon floating above the hills? Not quite right.
- An open door into a new life? Hmmm... this one is pretty cool.
- An open road? Ahah! This is it! The long, winding road that has brought me to Phoenix, both literally and emotionally. I would use a road disappearing over the horizon, moving from my old life to my new. So I went in search of pictures of open roads... using Google of course!

I spent several hours searching for just the right picture and finally just took pencil in hand and drew the road I've come to know best, the road from Colorado to Phoenix. That road that moves south, with the mountains to the west and the plains to the east. The road away from the familiar, from family, from the mountains... and to the new in the desert they call the Valley of the Sun.

Open Road

Monday, July 16, 2007

Finally a Post... Albeit Non-fiber

Well, so much for posting three times a week! I've been totally slammed at work and haven't had time to even think, much less put together a coherent post. Home hasn't been alot better... we've been finishing up the laundry room and associated projects.

Here's the laundry room as it stands now...
After 1 After 4
Washer and dryer together? Check
Pretty colors? Check
Organization? Check
Finishing details? Not yet! ;0)
I really like it though... it's so nice to go in there and find what I need, when I need it. The bank of drawers is our inside tool box with tools, electrical and fastening supplies, etc. Extra kitchen supplies that I only use once a year or so are stored above, along with pet goodies and leashes. Below are the boxes that will hold our Christmas decorations. Only one is full, the rest will wait till I get time to bring in the existing boxes from the shed. I still have more work to do but it's coming along nicely.

One of the goals with the laundry room was to provide space to store some of the items we had stored in the big window seat in the family room. We wanted to take out the window seat so we could use the space to set up an office. Here is the window seat before we bought the house...
Window seat
It's very nice and we would have kept it except for the fact that we are "paper people" and we NEED an office area. So, this weekend I told Glenn I felt like pulling everything out of the window seat and taking it apart. Wonder of wonders, he agreed! Here he is sitting inside the window seat (it was big enough to use as a bed!) taking the screws out...
Window seat - be gone! 2
When the previous owners put it together they didn't put any screws, nails or bolts into the wood floor, isn't that great?!? The only place it was secured to the house was along the walls with big carriage bolts. It was so nice to discover this because it will be so easy to return to using the area as part of the room. Here is the right hand side now...
Window seat - gone!
And here is the left side...
Window seat - gone! 2
It really changed the room alot! We have started rearranging furniture but it's still a disaster area so you'll have to wait for finished pictures till we're done. ;0)

I signed up for Sharon's Sumptuous Surfaces class through Joggles.com and I have barely had time to read the lesson, much less do any stitching. I'm hoping to get a start on it this weekend... maybe. I WILL be back on Wednesday, even if it's just a little post.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Half Chevron Stitch

Although we worked on the laundry room this past weekend, I was able to get some work done on the Half Chevron Stitch for Take a Stitch Tuesday. It took me awhile to get the hang of Half Chevron Stitch, as you can see by this line of stitches along a crazy quilt seam:
Half Chevron - 1
The bottom line is rather uneven; however, such is the wonder of crazy quilting that, with some judicious additions, all the bad parts are hidden!
Half Chevron - 3
The judicious additions include:
- Whipping more of the same thread (Caron Impressions) through the bottom line of stitches to make it one solid line
- Detached chain stitch in green silk floss between the Half Chevrons
- Purple and green (of two slightly different shades) along the top points of the stitching as well as at the bottom of each Detached chain stitch
- A line of mixed seed beads along the bottom of the entire line of stitches

I love making the layered crazy quilt seams... what begins as a simple line of stitches becomes a complex network of stitching and beads that makes a completely different impression.

I'll be back on Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Quilt of Valor is finished - Happy Fourth of July!!

I think it is entirely appropriate that I managed to finish the binding of my Quilt of Valor last night, just in time to post the final quilt on Independence Day in the US.
I love the way it turned out.

It will be going to the Women's Stress Disorder Unit at the VA Center in Albuquerque and I hope that whoever receives it will find peace and harmony in her life.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday... watch out for those fireworks!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Design for Midsummer Night's Dream - revisited

I took everyone's suggestions (thanks to all of you) and came up with another revision that feels just about right. Allie, I made the center block bigger. Susan, I didn't put a border around the center panel because I want it to blend in with the other blocks on the sides. Threadspider (welcome!), I put the full moon back in because I agree, it's more of a Titania-ish moon that way. Rian, here they are side by each.
Design 2 - revised Design 4
The tree on the first one is better, and the curves from it will be transferred to the second; otherwise, I likey (as Rian would say).

In other news... I picked up some fabric for the binding on my Quilt of Valor. I have it sewed on and will be sitting tonight sewing down the binding. I do it by hand... love doing it.

Oh, and Jane Ann asked about a couple of my treasures in my sewing room. That is indeed a Bernina 830... I bought it at an estate sale in Colorado and I love it. I got the McCall's pattern cabinet at a flea market, also in Colorado. I saw it and almost hyperventilated on the spot... $45 later, it was mine, baby!!! ;0) The old sewing machine on the dresser is from 1920, a singer "Red Eye." I got it at a yard sale in Wyoming in the early 1980s for $25. I've been hauling it around with me for almost 25 years and I finally have a place to display it. I'm a happy camper!