Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TAST Week 9, crazy quilting

Good evening!
What a crazy world we live in! Wonderful but its just too fast. I just don't know how life can be enjoyed when we are so busy speeding along! I say that because not only do I spend alot of time in the gazillions of blogs out there, but I have recently discovered the world of "Pinterest". Good grief! I could spend years there!

I have been looking at blogs for a while now and I will say that I must have hundreds of them bookmarked. So many that it's safe to say that I don't know if I will ever get back to the ones bookmarked because I keep finding marvellous new ones. There are so many incredibly talented people out there. Its mind boggling, humbling and truly amazing how talented people are. And have you tried taking a water colour or acrylic painting class from YouTube? OMG!

Having said that... Why am I here? Well, I can't remember what week I am at with TAST, Take a Stitch Tuesday. Let me check. Week 9 which is the couching stitch. I think I am missing one or two stitches I am getting there slowly! I stitched all day yesterday and all day today and my eyes are a bit wonky and I confess, I am tired! This is what I have done so far on my felted stitch sampler:

I used the buttonhole stitch with some thick yarn around a plastic ring to completely cover it. Then, with some purple DMC perle cotton, I did another row of buttonhole stitch around the outside of the ring. Using two different colours of DMC perle cotton, I did two rows of herringbone stitch to attach the ring to the felted piece.

I then attached two lengths of yarn to the other side of the felted piece. With the yellow/orange yarn, I used a basic couching stitch, and with the blue/green yarn, I used the fly stitch to couch the yarn so that parts of the yarn would be raised and offer a bit more dimension to the piece.

Something I didn't take a photo of, is that I cut three thin curvy pieces of lime green organza and couched them onto the felt piece. They are partially visible in the photo of the buttonholed ring above. The colour is a bit nicer when looking at it in person.

I am almost finished the stitching on the second seam of my crazy quilt block. I just have to finish up the beads. I had to laugh when I sat and had a good look at that second row. If you only knew how much time I spend with my little ruler measuring each and ever stitch that I took. But better than that, I made a big deal in my earlier blog telling you how to take fishing line to mark off lines, etc. and then I had a good look at the purple stitching I did and boy, was it crooked! It was wide at one end and narrow at the end? I don't think I will be marking, measuring and stitching late at night with poor lighting conditions anymore!

Anyways, this is where I am so far:

And a close up of the row I am just finishing up:
I am using a suggested stitch design from Sharon's Encrusted Crazy Quilt course book. There are some wonderful stitch examples in it.

I have to admit that I am a book and magazine addict. After taking Sharon's class, I ordered two soft covered Crazy Quilt books for more stitch ideas. I was disappointed in both and find that the designs in Sharon's class notes are far superior to anything in those books. That is my opinion.

And just as a further note, I finally finished Quaker Diamonds today. I haven't pressed it or anything, so no photos. I am also working on the Mary Wigham Sampler that is being done as a SAL in Sampler World in Facebook. I have about half of the bottom two rows completed. No photos of that either but I will try to get it on here shortly.

And nope, no hints yet on the yarn and sari ribbon posted last time! LOL

If you don't see it soon, send me a kick in the .. motivation!

I am deathly afraid of violating some copyright rule and hope I'm not doing that by ending with this...

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

May you have much joy in your life!


Monday, February 27, 2012

TAST, Quaker Diamonds, Gridding fabric for stitching and Crazy Quilting

Busy or what!?
Well, first of all, never believe what ground hogs tell you! Our ground hog did not see his shadow which is supposed to mean an early spring. Well, the thing is a liar! We've had nothing but snow storms since he said early spring! I am NOT amused! lol

We went for a drive last friday after an overnight snowfall. It was quite an amazing sight because absolutely everything was covered in snow and I took a ton of photos as we drove along. It was quite surprising to see the photos when I got home because at first, I thought I had mistakenly set the camera to take black and white photos, until I hit a few with a bit of colour in them. Here is a sampling.

All in all though, it hasn't been too bad of a winter, but, we are getting another storm tonight which will continue pretty much into the whole day tomorrow. A good stitch day I say!

Well, what have I been up to? I don't have a photo of it, but, I am working on finishing up my Quaker Diamonds sampler. It is time consuming going over each page, section by section to see what I have missed, mark it, stitch it and then cross it off. I learned a big lesson though on this sampler. It is the first really big sampler of this sort I have ever done and a few friends suggested that I grid the fabric first and I didn't think I needed to. Well, now that I have those little motifs to put it, when I am counting stitches, I am out one or two here and one or two there. So, I will definitely grid next time I do a sampler.

So what do I mean by gridding your fabric for stitching? Well, here is a small sample I just made up.

We all know that stitching patterns are gridded to be 10 squares by 10 squares with each square usually being 2 fabric threads. You can take some thread and just loosely sew lines across and up and down your fabric every 20 threads if you are stitching over 2 threads, and you will have the same grid that is in your pattern. It should be easier to make sure you are stitching in the correct spot. And what do you use to grid your fabric? Well, fishing line of course!

If we use ordinary sewing thread, well, that is why we hate gridding, because when we do our cross stitching, our needle pierces the grid threads and then we have a hard time pulling our grid threads out when we are done our sampler. Instead use about 4 to 7 pound test fishing line and its perfect! I am using one that has a bit of a brownish colour to it this way it is easy to see on white or beige fabric. You don't even need to grid your entire fabric from side to side and top to bottom. If you cut about 6 or 8 inch lengths of fishing line, as you finish stitching a section, just move the fishing line up or down or sideways, as you progress, stitching it into the new section.

Well, what's next? I haven't done all the TAST stitches but am slowly getting there. I think I have too many things on the go! I added the chain stitch to my lighthouse from a few weeks ago.

And, I did a tiny bit more on my felted wool stitch sampler.

I also pulled out the second block I made in Sharon's "Encrusted Crazy Quilting" class. I did a row of edging and started another.

I'm having a hell of a time keeping my stitches even and straight and nice looking. I guess that comes with practice and I realize that the tiny little pieces of fabric that I am using to practice each weeks new stitch in TAST, are just too small for me to get a good grasp of the stitches. I am looking in TAST 2012 in Facebook and in Sharon's blog and people are doing so much practice stitching and I am doing almost none. This normally wouldn't bother me as I am happy just doing my own thing but when I see that I am having problems with keeping my stitches even, then I know I need to practice more. Even the whole tension of the stitch is an art unto itself! lol

Anyways, to show you how handy that fishing line is, I used thread to mark a line on my crazy quilt block and then remembered I had fishing line hidden somewhere. I found it and did my second guide line in fishing line. And yes, my guide lines are crooked, so I think I need a lesson in making guide lines!

I now have almost a whole row of stitching started there but no photo of it so it can wait.

Well, as a tease and also as a little bit of motivation for myself, I am going to show you a bit of something... Wonder what will come from this?....

a ball of baby alpaca yarn....

and a handful of Sari Ribbon.....

and a pair of these funny looking things?

Well, hopefully you will find out in the next couple of weeks!

I have to finish this so I can make my next post!!!
Enjoy life!
and talk to you later!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TAST week 3, 4, 5 and Music

It's been a very busy few days and where does time go?!
I was able to get 3 more stitches done in Take a Stitch Tuesday. The Feather Stitch, the Herringbone and the Cretan Stitches. Don't ask me why but I had a heck of a time with the Cretan stitch which means I need to practice that one more obviously.

The Feather Stitch:
The Herringbone Stitch:

The Cretan Stitch:

And then I read Sharon's notes on Tuesday that accompanied this weeks "Week 7" stitch. And please don't quote me, but she said that we needed to practice using our stitches more to make a scene or design rather than just making the stitch in the traditional manner. Now that was directed to more experienced stitchers but, I felt I need to expand my horizons, so I gave it a try.

I wasn't sure what to do, but came across one of my older photos of the lighthouse at Cabot Provincial Park on PEI. If you have ever watched Emily of New Moon, alot of the outdoor shots were filmed at this park.

I also came across this photo of Cape Turner at the Cavendish National Park. And not knowing which to do, I decided to combine the two.
I came up with the following scene, entirely done using the Fly Stitch.

A close up photo.

If you are looking for some great tunes for your iPod, check out the "White Stones" album by "Secret Garden". "First day of Spring", and "Passacaglia" are my faves. Their "Winter Poem" album is sounding pretty good too!

My all time favorite piece of music is Pachelbel's Canon. I was lucky to find a CD that plays it wonderfully and unfortunately, I can't find it in iTunes so you can have a listen. The albums there just don't do it justice.

But my tastes vary. What am I listening to on my iPod? "Tighten Up" by the Black Keys; "Price Tag" by Jessie J; "Never Stop" by Gonzales; "When we Stand Together" by Nickelback; "Someone Like You" by Adele; "Holy Water" by Big and Rich; "Firework" by Katy Perry; "The Long Goodbye" by Brooks & Dunn; "Nessun Dorma" by Luciano Pavarotti and Toby Keith to name a few.

I like his Toby's older music a little better than his newer stuff but was lucky to meet him in Nashville almost 14 years ago.

Have a super day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

TAST, Felted Wool, Quilting Arts Magazine

We got a wonderful snow storm last night and it got me all motivated to get off my butt and do something new and exciting!

First of all, I finally got started on my TAST, Take a Stitch Tuesday. I am way, way behind but that is okay! Better late than never! I really want to do some Crazy Quilting. I now have a lovely assortment of fabrics and threads to work with, thanks to some very generous friends but I need to get comfortable with the stitches.

My sewing machine is still buried under those few remaining things that need to have a spot found for them, in my "Art" room reorganizing. So, I decided not to wait till I could get at my machine and sew the edges of my fabric samples so they won't fray. I used the fabric as is. And yes, I could have used the Buttonhole stitch to stitch around the edge, but too many ideas and images went flying through my head to do that!!

The Fly Stitch was first in week 1:

And Week 2 was the Buttonhole Stitch:

I had great fun trying out these stitches, but I felt that I really needed to do something with them, but wasn't sure what. Alot of ideas came to mind but it was while looking through a June/July 2010 issue of Quilting Arts magazine that I got a brain fart and my heart started to beat faster.


There was an article in there by Jane LaFazio on Needle-Felted hand-stitched fiber art that I just knew I had to do and I thought it would be perfect to try out all my new stitches on!

The first thing I did was cut out a piece of felted wool from a stash that I had. There is a wool Mill on PEI that is quite wonderful. It is on the eastern part of the island and is called Belfast Mini Mills. I happened in there one day when they had some freshly processed wool! OH MY!!! The wool was so soft, you couldn't even feel it! They will take whatever you have, including hair from your dog and process it whatever way you want. Another time when I was in there, they were just starting to process some Musk Ox fur that someone from the Arctic sent them.

Anyways, they have this machine that felts wool by pressure and you can buy just about any size if you pre-order, but if you just pop in, they have I believe its 4 feet by 4 feet sheets of it. It comes in white or mixed colours. Both are shown here:
This picture below isn't great but the sheet of wool is about a half inch thick.

I used the mixed colours and cut out a piece of felted wool the size of the closed magazine or 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches.

I picked out some wool roving from what we had and layed them on the felted wool sheet. I do not have a felting machine so used a hand needle felter to felt the coloured wool onto the base.

I made 2 separate small circles with various colours and then felted them to the project. Some coloured wool fibers were wound around the circles and I felted them as much as I could. I also found an old sweater that was destined for the waste as it was too gnarly to go to the thrift store. I cut out a circle from it and it forms the pale green small circle below.
It was finally time to add my two learned stitches, the Fly Stitch, which can be found in red in the lower left corner, and the Buttonhole Stitch which is done in various colours around the large circles. I could do more but thought I would wait until I learned some new stitches and see what I might like to do.
When I have a camera in my hands, the earth stands still. I am at peace and am really almost at one with what is around me. I love nature. Plain and simple. I love trees, I love the sound of the wind in the trees, I love the birds that sing in the trees, I love the smell of hot sand at the beach, and the sound of the surf pounding on shore. I love the smell of the earth in the summer after a good rain, and the fresh salty air of the sea. But, when I am with threads and fabric or wool, my heart beats faster and my mind flies. And the imagination soars! And that was my day today!

Enjoy life, enjoy yourself.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Quaker Diamonds, Mary Wigham sampler, crazy quilting, Valdani Thread, Cavendish National Park Dunes

Winter has come to PEI, sort of. It has been crazy with temps falling to minus 20 C at times for only for a day or so and then zooming up to + 10 C or there abouts for a day or two and then back down again. We get snow, then freezing rain and the snow eventually disappears and then we get more snow and then rain. But, we were rewarded with a not too bad dumping of snow two days ago. We have about 8 or 10 inches on the ground.

I sort of did a bad thing. I have a Nikon camera that I bought with two lenses about 3 years ago in a very, very good sale. Shortly after buying the camera, I was out one summer day in a park taking photos when all of a sudden, I was swarmed by mosquitoes. They were horrible! I was trying to gently lay my camera on the ground while at the same time searching my bag with the other hand for mosquito repellent. I ended up misjudging where the ground was and my telephoto lens ended up hitting the ground first, a little bit too hard. Well, the lens was jammed and nothing I could do unjammed it. I was told by Nikon that they needed about $100 just to look at the lens, and repairs would be added to that. Well, for that, I could buy a new lens but the economy being what it is, it will just have to wait and so I just used the one lens I have. A week or two ago, there was an incredibly clear night, so filled with stars you could make out the Milky Way. I wanted to see if I could get a photo of the stars so I attached the camera to the tripod and didn't open up the legs of the tripod enough, and you guessed it. The tripod fell over, and the camera landed on the lens first, so another jammed lens, the 18 to 55 mm lens.. Sigh.. I can take some pictures, but you will see below, they just aren't quite in focus.

In any case, for anyone who has seen Cavendish National Park dunes in the summer time, you will agree they just do not look as inviting in the winter time!

I belong to the sampler group in Facebook. We are doing a "SAL", Stitch ALong. We started January 1st of this year. It is the Mary Wigham Sampler and it is free and can be downloaded on the link below. You have to look on the right side of the page and go quite a ways down before you get to it.

The photo below is what I have done so far. I decided I wasn't too crazy about the bland colours used by Mary Wigham so changed quite a few of them.
I was hoping at this time to have a completed project or two but I don't. January was a very busy month for me. The Sumptuous Embroidery and Encrusted Crazy Quilting classes that I took last year from Sharon Boggon thrilled me to no end. I am so eager to make more pieces using what I learned! Big problem though is that my stitch stuff was scattered all over, or, I had no room for it and kept moving from room to room searching for what I needed which was frustrating to no end. I did not have a very good fabric inventory, no beads to speak of, and not a large selection of floss/thread. Three very very generous people from her classes were kind enough to send me some of their fabric stashes! Imagine people you have never met being so amazingly kind to send you some of their fabric and lace and thread stash! Wow! Thank you so much! I can't wait to use what I have received! I also happened upon a lovely bead sale in our big city and so am ready to go! But, I needed to get everything into one room. So, I bought a cabinet, put it together and sorted all my stitching stuff and am now just dealing with the odds and ends that you end up with that you wonder where the heck you are going to put them. I spent very little time stitching lately and only the last few days worked on the Mary Wigham sampler above.

One project that I have been working on but only at stitch guild meetings, is my Quaker Diamonds. Well, I certainly learned alot this month. First of all, this was my first Rosewood Manor pattern. And it was the first time I have used Valdani threads. When I ordered the thread, probably more than a year ago, I ordered the 3 ply balls of floss. They come already in a set for this sampler. When I received my order, I got skeins of 6 ply floss instead. When I questioned the store on my order, I do recall they sent me a note saying something about the floss when I enquired as to why I received the skeins instead of the balls but don't remember anything other than, them saying they had no more balls left, only the skeins. I used 3 strands of the floss skeins.

I was not thrilled to find that as I stitched this sampler, I kept running out of a colour and had to order another skein. I believe I had to purchase 3 or 4 more skeins. I recently ran out of blue and was definitely NOT a happy stitcher. Well, I learned this past week from a friend, that 2 strands of the 6 strand skeins are equal to 3 strands of the 3 stranded balls of Valdani's. I have too many little motifs to do to just borrow a hanker of the blue valdani from a friend so just placed an order for some. lesson learned.

What upsets me a bit more is that, when I did the Encrusted Crazy Quilting class, I would have loved to use some of the Valdani threads but was afraid to as I wasn't sure if I would have enough to finish the Quaker Diamonds pattern. The photo below shows where I am now in the Quaker Diamond Pattern; almost finished except for a few motifs. Another big lesson learned: when doing a page of this sampler, DO EVERYTHING ON THAT PAGE AND DON'T LEAVE ANYTHING FOR THE END!!! While working on the sampler, I got a little tired of the colour changes and if you look closely at the pattern, there are some motifs that have only one cross stitch of one colour and perhaps 3 or 4 or 5 cross stitches of another colour. Well, annoying as they may be to do as you stitch each page, they are wayyyyyy more annoying to do if you leave alot of them to do at the end!!! Anyways, the end is near! The blue has been ordered and when I get it, I will finish the sampler. As an added note, I will say that I do not believe in ironing a stitching project for the sake of a lovely photo for this blog. I think it will press the threads flat if it is repeatedly ironed, so I will press it at the end when it is done. There is a photo of the whole sampler and then a close up of one of the large motifs.
A close up of on of the large motifs: (keep in mind that the focus is not great as the lens is damaged!) :-(

Well, I have the Old Timers Disease... I think its called the Craft Syndrome. "Can't Remember a Freaking Thing"! Did I mention in an earlier entry that I was going to join Sharon B's Stitchin' Fingers? I think I don't have the time to join this group as I barely have the time to post on this blog. There is another reason as well. I did not want to go into Stitching Fingers with an "Alias" which is what I use on the net as I have a very "different" name.

I was in an abusive marriage for almost 30 years. I try to be quite guarded about my identity on the net, over and above normal common sense. I am in Facebook for example but untraceable and my identity remains hidden as my ex is a stalker and I do not wish to be found. Seems so silly to be writing that but there it is.

Anyways, I read all of Sharon's blogs and web site and if you have read this blog, you know I am totally thrilled with her, her website, her stitching, her quilting and mostly her artistic gifts. I do see that she is doing a TAST, or Take a Stitch Tuesday, for 2012. I have not started but hope to start very soon and catch up. I was hoping to get the sewing room in order and have some TAST stitches done to post before today, but it just ain't happening for me!!! LOL... So I will get started in the next week and then post where I need to, from reading the instructions for TAST. You can click on the word TAST here to see what it is all about! I have been printing off the pages for each week, have my binder all set up and just need to pull out a sampling of fabrics to use. What a great venue to learn some new stitches!

Well, we had a cloudy day yesterday when our ground hog came out of his den and didn't see his shadow, which supposedly means an early spring. I certainly hope that is true because the last few springs and summer have been horrible beyond belief and we certainly can use some nice weather! It has been a somewhat mild and snowless winter (compared to usual) and I hope it stays that way.

The sun is out so I might go outside for a bit and play with the dog. Enjoy your day!