Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lots of progress this week - even with the scorching heat!

You know it’s a good thing I have my needle and thread to take out my frustrations with. I’d like to jab a few people with my needle instead of my linen but that’s not possible I guess. It's getting harder and harder to maintain any kind of decent attitude at my job….between pay cuts, crushing workloads, and a benefit cut announcement about every 3 weeks, my mood is definitely going downhill! With all the cuts my company has made to our benefits, more and more people are taking retirement this summer leaving the rest of us to wallow in our misery. And yes, I AM grateful to still be employed….but it’s just not helping me feel much better frankly.

Thank goodness I have my hobbies and my dear husband and doggies. Isn’t it funny when your dogs know you’re upset and will come and sit with you…..they don’t know what’s wrong but they seem to know when you just need a good hug or a gentle head resting on your knee to make you feel better. This week it would have been our former dog’s 16th birthday….he’s been gone 6 years but we still miss our sweet Elvis. We got him about 18 months after we were married and he was sort of our ‘child’. We told him every night that he was the best dog in the world and he WAS. He has his own memorial brick at Chase Field here in Phoenix – that’s the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. We always stop by to ‘visit’ his brick when we go to a baseball game. I guess I’m being a bit nostalgic this week…thinking of better times and being wistful. Thank you for bearing with me……….

I have been able to make some stitching progress this week. This is a closeup of the floral section on my English Sampler and the little strawberries done in a brick stitch.

I’m happy it’s done – it’s my favorite part of the sampler. There are various stitches used – tent stitch, satin stitch mosaic stitch, etc. In case you’re wondering, those green things at the top are supposed to be sweet peas. Not that I’ve ever seen a sweet pea actually growing in the ground (okay I’m not a gardener) but I assume they sort of look like this! I’m now working on the strawberry band below it – doing some queen stitches.

I know a lot of people don’t like doing queen stitches but I really do! They take extra time but I just love how they look. Unfortunately, the queen stitch strawberries are paired with the double-running backstitch. If you’ve ever done it, you know the double-running stitch is supposed to look exactly the same on the front and the back. So you've got to very careful to follow the chart and not screw it up. Luckily the designer (Sandy Orton) did include some numbered drawings and even with having to reverse them it sure helps. Of course, it’s not like anyone is going to see the back, right? So I’m not sure why this technique was invented but being the well-behaved stitcher I am, I try to do it the correct way. :-)

I did finish up my little French pincushion stuffed with the crushed walnut shells from the pet store. The smallest bag they had was still huge and probably will stuff 50 pincushions. Guess I won't have to buy any more for a LONG time! I ended up having to tea-dye the rickrack as I couldn't find any ecru-colored at the craft store. Is anyone else having trouble sewing on rickrack? I found it hard but at least it's done. I was trying to catch the back of the rickrack and then the pincushion and make my stitches not show. Very tedious!

Now if only I was on a little boat gently gliding down a canal in France with a glass of cabernet….some fresh bread and brie cheese…..ahhhhh. That’s a trip I’ve always wanted to do. Wouldn’t it just be lovely?

Captain’s Inn is inching its way along too. It was kind of b-o-r-i-n-g stitching all that outlining of the tavern sign but now at least I can stitch the little ship on it. There are so many LHN designs I want to stitch, I could keep one going all the time and never get through them all!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A summer finish and back to the UFO pile....

Well I finished up Ida Mae Crow last Friday. I really like this piece - makes me think of summertime in the midwest - blackbirds, crows, and sunflowers.
She's heading on over to the framing pile now which is getting pretty stacked up. I don't do my own framing...I guess I could but I haven't ventured into that yet. Maybe one of these days when I have more time...ha ha!

Souvenir de France is close to a finish as well , I just have the border to do. I just love stitching with Silk n' Colors! I've decided I'm going to have to stitch this a second time for my dear old college roommate - we went to Europe together many, many years ago. I can tell you it was the trip of a lifetime which I'll never forget - and we both loved France. We still exchange birthday gifts every year and usually try to find each other something to do with France. This will be just perfect for part of her gift this year. I wish I had used this color of red for my French Alphabet Sampler which is languishing in the UFO bin. I think I kind of quit on it because I'm not thrilled with my linen and silks -but I'm not starting over as I'm on page 4 now. I am using Gloriana Cranberry silk and it fuzzes and tends to tangle a bit - just not my favorite silk but it was what everybody seemed to be using at the time I started that piece so I'm going to have to see it through. I concentrated all last year on my WIPs & UFOs - then as of January this year I set them aside for a bit and worked on all new things. Oh it was so nice to work on all new projects! I've decided now to try to get back to one or two of my UFO's and see if I can get at least one of them done this year.

This is "English Sampler" (in 2 pictures) as of the last time it was worked on. I took a class for this in 2005, geez has it been that long already?? I only can remember the year because I had made some notes after the class in a Word document which had a date on it. I worked on the center floral section today and I am almost done with it - there was some satin stitching and work with gold filament that I had put off. I do really love band samplers and this is a beauty - it deserves to be up on a wall even if that lacis work scares me!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ida Mae is on her way.......

Miss Ida Mae is coming along very well. I actually have more done than the photo shows – I took the photo a few days ago but then got busy this weekend and never updated my blog. I am about halfway done with the flowers on the right side and then only the fence at the bottom to complete. So a finish can’t be far off. I’ve also been working on Captain's Inn here and there – not too much progress but every bit helps.
I couldn’t resist starting on Blackbird Design’s latest freebie - A Souvenir from France. I have been a Francophile for most of my life so I can’t wait to finish this. I have other Eiffel Tower patterns in my stash but this little one should stitch up quickly. I am using a scrap of some 40-ct linen I had with Silk ‘n Colors Auburn Frost. I must make a run to PetsMart this week to get some of the crushed walnut shells for the filling. (I just wish it wasn’t called “reptile bedding”!!!)

Hope all my US readers enjoyed the holiday weekend. A 3-day weekend was much needed in my case as I have a severe case of work burnout lately. Too many emails, too many teleconferences, enough of spreadsheets, documents, and deadlines! It’s not like I want to wish my life away and wake up and be older but I sure am tired of working and retirement seems WAY too many emails off. I just want to stitch and sew and work is cutting into my time!

Now a little drum roll please……..I am so happy to finally present the finished quilt top that has been in progress for a year!

"Like Water For Chocolate"

My quilting buddies and I (12 of us) each designed a section of this quilt to coincide with a chapter in the book “Like Water for Chocolate”. This was a popular Mexican novella that came out several years ago (also made into a movie). It’s a story of romance, star-crossed lovers, heartache, women & babies, and the book is sprinkled with recipes. It's not the greatest of pictures but you should be able to pick out things like a Mexican ranch house, broken hearts, peppers, quail in rose petal sauce, chickens & eggs, fire, a sombrero, a wedding cake, a Mexican flag, and even a little spider. Many of the pieced blocks were chosen because the name of the quilt block went with the story - for example “Love Everlasting”, “Butter and Eggs”, or “Kings Crown”. Here's a couple closeups of some of my favorite blocks - lovers Pedro & Tita dancing, the Mexican ranch house next to "quails in rose petal sauce", and mint tea.

We are making a little fabric book to mount in the bare spot in the bottom right corner – it will contain everyone’s name and the chapter of the quilt they designed. Each of us made the quilt in our own choices of colors and fabrics, just using the same patterns or variations thereof. I started off falling in love with a beautiful floral Moda fabric I intended to use as a border (and which inspired my wild color choices) , but in the end it was too busy for a border so I’ll use on the back instead. Now on to the machine-quilting which I’ll be doing myself. I hope I can do a decent job of it. Machine-quilting is not my favorite thing to do (nor do I excel at it) but I really can’t spend a couple hundred dollars right now getting this custom-quilted.

Thanks for stopping by to visit. I really do appreciate you listening to my ramblings! :)