Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Hey, ladies! Thought I would check in and wish everyone a very, very, VERY Merry Christmas. It's been a quiet one for us... it's just the two of us this year and I was under the weather yesterday so no super big meal was served today. Just some naturally smoked ham, some hearty cornmeal pancakes and real maple syrup. Simple but very good!

I almost got all of my presents where they needed to be this year... Just one box is still sitting here, waiting for shipment... pretty good for me! ;0) I got one stocking made for the very littlest granddaughter, Chloe.
Chloe's stocking
Many years ago, I started this very same stocking for her Daddy, getting only the front appliqued and quilted. It got tucked away in the sewing room and I discovered it when I was looking for trims for a stocking for her. I pulled it out, looked at it and just knew I could go ahead and finish it in no time... I added the back and used some vintage bias trim for edging it and Bob's your uncle, one rather small stocking perfect for a rather small little one! It even got there in time for Christmas!

Other creative endeavors lately included massive amounts of Chocolate Rads cookies to tuck in Christmas boxes...
Chocolate Rads ingredients Chocolate Rads dough

Chocolate Rads
They are soooo chocolately good!

We also broke down and got an artificial tree this year and spent some quality time together putting it up and decorating it...
Da tree!
we have lots of glass and acrylic icicles and I love the look it gives to the tree.
Tree closeup

If we had been just a bit farther north we would have had a white Christmas... as it is, we just had a very wet one! ;0) I hope each of you has celebrated the season in your own way and I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays... may your New Year be ever so full of successful creative endeavors!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pink Bouquet

Allie asked "What is that gorgeous pink bouquet wallhanging you have on the design wall? Looks yummy....." so I thought I'd give you a closer view.


Before moving to Arizona I had started a very interesting class given by
Heather Thomas at a quilt shop in Boulder, Colorado. The class was called "The Language of Color and Design" and it was great... at least the first two months were. I ended up making a quick move to Phoenix and couldn't finish the class... bummer! Anyway, it is designed as a year long exploration of color and she still teaches it at various quilt shops throughout Colorado. This piece was made in August '04 as a monochromatic scheme for the second class in the series. I chose red-violet and used a piece of fabric I'd had forever as the background, another as the table mat, then I raided my stash of upholstery samples for everything else. It was great fun until I tried to do some embellishing. In my novice state I had used a VERY heavy fusible interfacing and it was nearly impossible to get the needle through the fabrics and the interfacing. I did the bare minimum and just kind of left it where it was; however, this may very well have been my first "crazy quilt" adventure. Of course it's not really a crazy quilt, but it did use bits and pieces of fabric, thread and beads so in my book, it was pretty close to CQ! ;0)

Here are a couple of closeups for your viewing pleasure:
Flowers - close-up
Flowers - close-up 2

I should probably do something with it but I don't know what. Further investigation should probably be my next course, especially since my creative muse seems to have left the building. I tried to do some Christmas sewing last weekend and all I managed to do was cut out a couple of Christmas stockings. It was very sad, I must say. Hopefully, this weekend will be better!

For those of you into other fiber arts, here is a beginning spinner's prize pack I won on Norma's blog. See, before I found all you lovely quilting ladies, I found the knitters, they hooked me on blogs and I still visit quite a few of them. So here we have a Bosworth midi spindle, 4 oz of Merino Swirl roving, 8 oz of white cormo roving and 4 oz of Bluefaced Leicester in a lovely dark colorway called Walk at Midnight.
Bosworth spindle & roving from Norma 11-2008
Pretty, yes? I was trying to find something to corral all of this when my Bag of Fun caught my eye... perfect!!
Bosworth spindle & roving in bag 11-2008
Now, all I have to do is learn to spin!!! ;0)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

At Last - Progress

I hope everyone in the US had a good Thanksgiving weekend and the rest of you lovely ladies had a great regular weekend. ;0) We certainly did, I do believe I may have cooked the best turkey dinner of my life, everything was great... yay, me! It's such a crap shoot every year as to whether I'll get through the holiday without a stumble or two that it feels good to get it all together finally. Of course, it was just Glenn and I and our nephew Mark, but still... even the leftovers have been good! Of course, having nearly broken my arm to pat myself on the back, I'll surely screw something up in the next day or two... LOL!

Anyway, we have had some progress in the sewing room. All the bits and pieces of Crazy Quilting fabric were sorted. The 12 bins went from this:
Sorting - before
to this:
Sorting - after
to this:
Sorted 11-2008
last weekend. Then, this weekend, I managed to sneak a cup of coffee in without dire consequences and got all motivated and did some organizing and cleaning. In fact, several flat services have been discovered lurking amongst the piles of fabric. It's actually quite a wondrous thing to behold:
Sewing room 11-2008 B
a sewing machine!
Sewing room 11-2008
the books are on the bookshelves... sort of!
Books on shelves 11-2008
and the design wall...
Design wall 11-2008
for designing! Now, I just have to get inspiration to make an appearance! ;0)

In the meantime, here's our puppy dogs, Rocky & Java enjoying the sunshine today:
Rocky & Java 11-2008
and here's Gus:
Gus 11-2008

Have a good week, ladies!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blocks 11 and 12

So, to get back to the business at hand... I have finished Block 12 AND Block 11 which would be... DA MOON!
Here we have Block 12:
Block 12
As with the rest of these blocks, the seam treatments are very simple and monochromatic. Threads used were #8 and #5 perle cotton and silk floss. Here's a closeup of 3 of the seam treatments:
Block 12 - details
Here we have laced cretan stitch, feather stitch with lazy daisy tags, and another cretan stitch (on the bottom) with lazy daisy stitches. You can see the rest of the block in close-up by clicking on it, then going to "all sizes" in flickr.

THEN... we have da moon, block 11:
Block 11 - DA MOON!
This is VERY simple... each of the spokes radiating from the moon is a different combination of short and long back stitches in a #8 perle cotton. The four corners are identical, with herringbone stitch, straight stitches and lazy daisy stitches. I used the herringbone so I could blend the edges a bit. The lazy daisy stitch on the inner portion covers a bit more of the darker grey corners and the straight stitches allow more of it to show through. Hopefully it does what I wanted it to!

Here's a closeup:
Block 11 - detail
or two:
Block 11 - more details
I may put something around the moon to make it round... maybe a very fine lace edging, but I'm not sure. I'm going to wait till I start putting it all together so I can see how "feels."

So, now all the outer blocks of the quilt are DONE!!! WOOHOO! It only took me 18 months... gah! As I have said before, this quilt is the personification of
Slow Cloth! But that's Ok with me... I am in hopes that the quilt will be better for it.

Now comes the joining together of the blocks so I can begin to get a feel for how I want the embellishments to be laid out. In order to do that though, I need to somehow find my way back into my sewing room. It is a disaster of epic proportions, believe me! So, that's what I'll be doing this weekend. I bought a copy of "Studios" magazine yesterday and it has me all fired up to organize everything a bit better in there. Once I get it all together, I'll be able to lay out the quilt and join the blocks in four sections. Then, I get to piece the center portion. That will be an epic experience for me, since I have 2 or 3 different design ideas floating around in my mind. As soon as I can get a few gray cells to bump into each other, I should be able to distill my vision into a suitable design. Hopefully, this distillation process will occur sooner rather than later!

In the meantime, I have some Christmas sewing to do. I have an order for a king-size duvet cover as a Christmas present, and, in this day and age, something that will cost me only my time is a very good thing! I'll also be doing some stockings to replace those that were lost in a move, and maybe a few felt ornaments will sneak in there, too. Then, of course, there is the bench I want to upholster, the drapes for the livingroom and our bedroom, and pillows for the couch. Just a few minor projects. ;0)

I'll be documenting all the gripping action here, but I think it will be moving a little quicker than it has in the past few months! We can only hope, yes?!?!?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How Sweet It Is!


Yes we can... AND WE DID.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Block 14

Good day to you, m'ladies! How is everything in your world this lovely day? Most wondrous, I hope!

I've finished Block 14! WooHoo! ;0)
Block 14
This is the middle block on the top of the outer ring of blocks. Stitches used in this block are Pekinese, chevron, herringbone, cretan, buttonhole, feather, chain and back stitch. Threads used were #8 perle cotton, silk floss and variagated pima cotton (Caron Watercolours). None of the seam treatments are extra special, but they do continue the monochromatic theme I've been striving for across the top of this quilt. I am soooo close to finishing these outer blocks I can taste it! Just one more and then I get to do the moon block... I've been saving it for last! Kind of like I save the best bite of toast for last... the middle part with lots of butter. LOL!

We've also been getting started on our vegetable garden. Glenn has been sick so we haven't been able to get the fence up, which is what I wanted to do first. I was getting antsy though, so we started on the beds last weekend. We're trying lasagna gardening, since we are now a couple of old farts and double digging (and just plain digging in general) is not something we want to try in this clay soil. We put down a layer of cardboard first, then a thick layer of grass clippings we've been stockpiling for the past two years. We prepared 2 beds, the back one is maybe 12' (3.6 meters) and the front bed is maybe 15' (4.6 meters). We'll continue to extend them (when we get some more cardboard) until they are close to the concrete pad in front of the shed.
Lasagna beds - started
The stockpile of grass is in the rear of the photo, by the shed. It did extend out close to the back bed, so that area is grass free. After the layer of dried & slightly composted grass, we watered it well. This coming weekend we'll put down a couple more layers, probably some manure, then more grass clippings, and then some bagged soil. When the trees start to really lose their leaves, we'll add those to the top of the bed. We may try planting something this fall if we can get the fence in. If not, then it should really be in good shape for spring planting in February and March... that's spring planting time in Phoenix!

The giant green wall is an 8' (2.4 meters) block wall covered in trumpet creeper and catsclaw vines that extends the full length of the back yard. The walls along the side of the backyard are 6' (1.8 meters). We love having that big block wall there, especially covered so heavily in vines. It really gives us a feeling of protection and provides a great backdrop for the yard.

During a monsoon storm this summer we had a microburst right in the center of Phoenix. Luckily, we were only on the edge of it and it took out the top few feet of our fig tree (just a few blocks away it tore down power lines, knocked over brick walls and tore up trees by their roots), so last weekend we also cut the majority of the fig tree down.
Fig tree - cut down
The tree had two huge dead limbs on, too, so we cut it pretty low. It still needs to go a little lower, to get below the junction of the three big limbs, but it was getting dark so we decided using a chain saw at dusk wasn't such a good idea! We'll finish it this coming weekend, since the sun is pretty much down by the time we get home from work these days. All in all, it was a good start on getting the backyard in shape!

Well, I guess I've "talked" enough this evening... I'm getting a cold - from my sweet husband, thank you very much ;0)... so I'm going to put myself to bed. Take care, my lovelies!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ummm... HI!??!

Well, guess it's been awhile. Sorry, 'bout that. It's been a bad summer for me, my IBS has been kicking my butt big time and I just seem to get further behind all the time. Days seem to turn into weeks without me recognizing them. I have been getting around to my usual blogs but actually getting up enough energy to post on my own hasn't happened much this summer. I'm now on some medication that should help so hopefully I can get back on track.

In more pleasant news, here's block 13!!
Block 13
I like the way this block came out... I haven't looked at in a week and I'm rather pleasantly surprised.

Here are a couple of closeups of some of the nicer seam treatments:
Block 13 - Mirrored buttonhole stitch
On the top right is a mirrored buttonhole stitch done in #8 perle cotton and then some Caron Watercolours variegated pima cotton. Mirrored buttonhole stitch is a great stitch... it gives such a nice little swoosh at the bottom between the up and down parts!

Here's a really nice one... I like it a lot!
Block 13 - herringbone and cretan
On the left is a cretan stitch done in the same #8 perle cotton and variegated pima cotton and on the right is herringbone stitch (with extras). I'm really keeping my palette limited on these last few blocks. I really want them to blend together.

Back soon with more... thanks for hanging in there with me, ladies! Love ya's!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Block 15

Good Afternoon, Ladies!!!

Here is Block 15 of the Midsummer CQ... if it seems like I'm going backwards, it's because I'm embroidering the blocks in the opposite direction of the numbering... or something like that! Anyway, this block is finished and I really like some of the seam treatments that came out of it (as always, click to embiggen).
Block 15
Since these blocks are now all moonlit, I'm trying to make the seam treatments a little softer and I'm putting in more curves. I don't want to go overboard, though, since this is supposed to be very much in the background. I'm going to have to do something about the seam treatment in the upper right hand corner... the stitches should have been along the top of the seam, rather than on the bottom where other seams join it. I'll probably just mirror the existing stitches along the top of the seam... it will look much better. Ah, well... it is a learning process, isn't it?

Here are a couple of closeups of various seam treatments:
Block 15 - Pekinese stitch
This is Pekinese stitch using silk floss and #5 perle cotton. It's rather fiddly to get the loops to lay just right but it really makes a nice seam treatment.

Block 15 - woven chain stitch
Here is a woven chain stitch made with Caron's Watercolours (I think). This was just playing around but it worked!

Block 15 - long-armed feather stitch
I like the different looks that you can get with feather stitch, in this case it is a long-armed feather stitch in a varigated floss. On the right is a laced chain stitch with lazy dazy stitches, made using silk floss and #8 perle cotton.

I'm coming in to the home stretch on the border blocks... I am soooooo ready for some color in my stitching!!! Don't get me wrong, I love the monochromatic work I've been doing, but it sure is getting boring. I will be very glad to venture into the center blocks with lovely greens, teals, pinks, & purples! WooHoo!!

Hope to be back in a few days... work has been keeping me chained up, but hopefully things will die down a bit (just not tooooo much!) I hope everyone's 401K is still alive and kicking, that all companies are solvent, all significant others are employed, and you all have a full tank of gas. ;0)

Take care and I'll talk at you later!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Block 16 and the Phoenix Farmer's Mkt

This block has been done since last week but I haven't blogged about it yet. I know, bad blogger, but life and my wonky digestive system (mostly the latter) have kept me rather distracted. But, it is done and so I shall present it for your perusal...
Block 16
There aren't too many extra special seams on this block, but I did try out a new stitch... double chain stitch. It did the job but I need to practice a bit more with it. It's on the right hand seam of the dark triangle on the left... embiggen the block and you can sorta see it.

The one seam I do rather like on this block is this one...
Block 16 - Herringbone
My favorite stitch, herringbone, with some additional straight stitches to add some more interest. These stitches are pretty long and were buckling rather badly, so I tied them with a straight stitch. I thought I was using the same color of perle cotton but when I was done I realized it was darker; however, I think it gives much more interest to the stitch.

Yesterday, Sharonb highlighted Dover Publications Weekly Sampler. I've been receiving the Sampler for quite some time; in fact, I think Sharon was the one who originally brought it to my attention a while back. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I finally caved and did some shopping when I received a Dover email with a $15 coupon (every little bit helps!). I picked up a couple of books to help with Midsummer, a Butterfly book and a Fairies & Elves book, both with iron-on transfers. I need some help in the drawing department!

I also picked up a Decorative Letters book & CD, a Victorian Monograms book & CD, and a Ornaments and Designs book & CD... all for future projects. Of course, I did a little Christmas shopping for stocking stuffers for some cute grandkids I know!

I've also been taking a class from the Phoenix Permaculture Guild on gardening in this desert I live in. I resisted it as long as I could but the lure of gardening drew me back into it's grubby arms! The class is held at the community building next to the Downtown Phoenix Farmer's Market so I've been coming home with lovely local tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, olive oil and wonderful, wonderful bread to enliven our weekend meals.

Here's a couple of my pictures from week before last, they start lining up very early to get in and get the best veggies!
Phx farmer's mkt

And this guy has chicken, duck and peacock eggs... I just got the chicken. ;0)
Phx farmer's mkt eggs.

OK... I think I'm all linked out, now!! Talk to you soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Remember...

There are moments in our lives that stay with us forever. These moments resonate through the years, floating out of our memories unannounced and unbidden. I have a few... Nov. 22, 1963 - the day John F. Kennedy died; Oct. 22, 1979 - the day my father died; and September 11, 2001 - the day the Pentagon was attacked, the day a field in Pennsylvania became a grave for heros... the day a nation and a world watched in disbelief as the World Trade Center collapsed.

Collapse of World Trade Center

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Award!!! and Slow Cloth Personified

arte y pico award pic

I have been remiss in not acknowledging the Arte de Pico award given to my blog by Lin Moon the first part of August. I feel so honored, Lin!! Thank you so very much!

The rules for the Arte y Pico Award are:

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribution to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4. The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link to "Arte de Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

6. Choose 5 other people for this award.


There are many blogs out there that show exquisite work and true artistry on a continuing basis. Here are 5 blogs that totally blow me away:

1 -- The first blog I want to link to is Quieter Moments, a truly wonderful blog whose maven, Elizabeth, explores the wonders of embroidery in many varied ways. She is currently caring for her elderly father so her blog is resting, but do check out her archives if you aren't familiar with her blog.

2 -- Next is Contemporary Embroidery, a blog I just discovered lately. She is doing some extraordinary work and is well worth a visit.

3 -- Another blog where wonderful things happen is Judith's Threadspider. She has a unique take on quilting and embroidery and you just never know what direction she is going to go next.

4 -- Introduced to me by Allie (she always finds the coolest blogs), Ivory Blush Roses does some of the most exquisite work around. Recently she did a great tutorial on crazy quilted pincushions that was just wonderful. Do check her out!

5 -- Finally, I have to include Jo in New Zealand on this list, although I'm sure she has received the award already. Her complex stitching really trips my trigger... she is spectacular!!!

So, I hope one of these blogs is new to you so you have some wonderful new territory to explore!

And now on to Slow Cloth Personified. Behold, Block 17!!!
Block 17
This is the last of the blocks with any dark fabric in it. It's the top right corner of the outer blocks. Here's a pic of all the pieced blocks to jog your memory. Border blocks pieced
I now have just the Moon and the 5 blocks to her right to complete for the outer blocks. I'm getting there! I've been doing some thinking about the center portion and there may be revisions in the wind, so stay tuned.

I had a bit of a slow period there where I wasn't stitching, but I seem to have slogged through the doldrums and have emerged with renewed vigor and renewed stitching enthusiasum. I hope to be back "soon" with more updates. Thanks for hanging in there, ladies!!! Have a great day!!!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Block 10 !!!!!!!!!

Look, I've been communing with needle and thread!! Will wonders never cease! ;0)
block 10
This is the block just below the moon, and where I'm really starting to work with the moonlight. I'm getting there!

Here's a couple of closeups of two of my favorite seams on this block. The base stitch for this seam treatment is the herringbone stitch.
I added lazy daisy stitches and a couple straight stitches, too.

Here is a seam treatment done with a cretan stitch as the base stitch.
I added some long and short straight stitches to round it out.

I'm just doing a short post today, as we have work to do around the old homestead.

Take care, ladies, and talk to you soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Organization is a good thing, and I'm up to my ears in it in my sewing room. Moving to a smaller room may seem just plain wrong; however, it's helping to focus my efforts and take care of stuff I've had packed away for years. Behold, my fabric stash...
Stash - organized
We have quilting cotton on the right-hand set of shelves, and crazy quilting and clothes fabric on the left-hand set of shelves. I also have some BOLTS (yes, bolts... what was I thinking???) of fabric in the bottom of the cutting table. I've found fabric everywhere... in bins, in drawers, in boxes, in bags, and in closets. I'm sure I've missed some, but I'm not done yet. The original plan was to put my fabric in the top portion and books in the bottom portion. Heh... not so much. I forsee some more bookshelf shopping in my future! I also need a better system for storing my CQ fabric... those green bins don't show the color very well and they are not in a place that would facilitate inspiration. I have some thinking to do on that point.

This reorganization and shuffling has pretty much taken over the house (and our lives). Furniture is being moved to better locations, dog beds are being thinned out, clothing is being donated and discussions are being had about a new (king-size!!) bed. We bought a huge wooden dining table (off eBay... for $21.17...!!!!) for the patio so we have a true entertaining space out there. This has meant cleaning and organization occuring outside, too. It seems a bit like we are constantly doing this, but my goal is to actually fit into this house. Nothing extra smooshed under beds, no overflowing closets with clothes we might wear sometime, no sheds full of boxes, no plastic bins stacked in corners, no piles of picture frames we might use someday and no old boxes of old papers we don't need anymore. So there!!! :0)

Anywhoooo... that's what I have been doing instead of stitching... a picture of my stash is the sum total of anything even resembling fiber content in this post. A few more days of concentration should have things back to semi-normal around here; although, semi-normal is about as close to normal as we get! Then I'll be able to think clearly and concentrate on the task in front of me... embroidering my CQ. I'm so looking forward to that!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Changing rooms

While we were in Colorado, we helped Josh remove the carpet from his livingroom, revealing the hardwood (and some plywood) underneath. It really got Glenn in the mood to get started on a few things around our house. So, when we got back from our trip, he was all ready to attack the first thing on our to-do list... we wanted to switch the guest room and the sewing room around. We are going to be doing some rearranging of closets in the future, so we wanted to get started by moving the sewing room into the smallest bedroom. This entailed mattress and boxsprings in the hallway, stacks of books in the office area, plastic boxes of beads, buttons and trims in every corner and piles and boxes of fabric everywhere. What a mess! There wasn't room to take everything out at once, so we worked in stages. We pulled up the first piece of carpet only to discover that there was peel and stick tile under it... ugh!
Guest room - stick-on floor tiles
We were expecting just the original concrete so it was rather disheartening to see the tile, but we kept on moving forward...
Guest room - removing tiles
Glenn used a flat bladed shovel to remove the tile, which actually came up pretty easily, all things considered. Then there was the adhesive left behind... it didn't come up so easily... he had to use a razor blade to remove it.
Guest room - scraping glue
We also tried vinegar and water, which did help some, but he was still scraping away with his razor blades. The only other alternative was to use a chemical stripper, and there was nooooo way we were gonna use that nasty stuff when it was 113° (45°C) outside, which meant we couldn't get adequate ventilation. Finally, we decided that as long as it looked OK, and there was no stickiness left on the floor, we would call it good. Somewhere down the road, we'll be removing all the flooring in the house and replacing it with wood, so we'll worry about it then. Here's what it looks like with the guest room furniture replacing the sewing room furniture...
Guest room - after
That vinyl tablecloth draped across the bed is my "design wall!"

We are working on it a little bit every night. Moving books back in and deciding what goes where. Sorting, too. Getting rid of fabric I'll never use, books that don't interest us anymore, and pieces of furniture that just plain don't fit anywhere. It will all be good once it is done; however, it's still a bit of a mess and there definitely hasn't been any stitching going on. That will start as soon as I can walk into the sewing room!!!

One other very special item I must show you... meet Gus...
Gus - side view
He's standing amid the stacks of books. He's a briard that showed up at the Arizona Humane Society and he went home with me last week. Here's a front view...
Gus - front view
His owner died and he was taken to the Humane Society... he was so scared! I just fell in love with him on the spot. His fur was apparently pretty badly matted because he really had a chopped up coat, as you can see. He is a real sweetie, though. He hasn't had any accidents in the house, he doesn't bark much and he's all around a pretty good addition to the pack. We are going to have to get a bigger bed, though, he likes to stay really close to his humans!!

That's the latest update from Phoenix... plans are to finish up with the major moving, sorting and stashing by the end of this coming weekend. I'm getting antsy to get started again on my Midsummer CQ. We put the "design wall" up in the sewing room, with the outer blocks still on it. It made me realize how much I have to do yet... gotta get going on it!! Until next time, kiddies!