October Fun

October is a hallelujah! reverberating in my body year-round….
~John Nichols 

October is my favorite month. Autumn in my part of Texas is beautiful in its own way. We are enjoying our first “cool” front. We are having mornings as cool as 60 and as high as 82. Perfect weather for my daily walks.

Last Monday, I mailed an October box of goodies for my grandchildren and DIL’s. The box included the  Halloween quilts for three of my grandchildren. I was ahead of the game in making these quilts back in June. After my friend, Linda Jennings quilted them for me, I packed them away and forgot to take a photo. I did, however, get a photo of the quilt tops as they hung on my design wall. There were enough fabric remnants to piece and make some pillow/quilt/book totes. These tote bags are great for storing the quilts, or using as a pillow case. The pocket in front is for holding books.I placed a Halloween challenge joke book in one book pocket, a homemade fabric Halloween toddler book in another, and Junie B. Jones, Boo…and I mean it! in the other.

Studio Stitch has a fun selection of Halloween fabric. I especially liked the Ghouls Goodies fabric that had the old lyric : Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good to Eat. As a kid, I used to think this was SO funny, and I guess I still do. 🙂 The fabric was purchased to make place mats. Since masks are part of our daily lives now, I used the Halloween remnants to make masks, and mask/tissue pack holders. There was also enough fabric to make Halloween scrunchies. How to with Kristen has a tutorial that offers four different ways to make a scrunchie. The method I chose requires a piece of fabric that is 4″ x 17″ or 18″. I used all remaining Halloween fabric remnants to make draw string gift bags. I placed all the goodies into these bags. I also included some of the autumn embroidery hoop art inside the gift bags.

The most fun item in the October box was a farting Pumpkin Poop Emoji. I cannot imagine MY grandmother would have ever mentioned farting, much less have given me something that farts. But, I could not pass this up. Of course, I had to try out the toy to see if it worked. What fun!  I have read that the Poop Emoji is one of the most popular emojis. This toy is listed as a toy for kids, but also for dogs. I cannot see giving one to a dog to chew, because of the bottom battery case. However, I know of a dog who was very curious about the toy. My new granddog, Sam, was entranced, as my grandson squeezed the toy. Speaking of Sam, the October box included a quilt I made for him. He was described as an “angel in a dog suit.”  I found this Henry Glass fabric panel that included a “Furry Angel” square. This panel was perfect for Sam. I cut out the 15 squares and framed them with scraps from my stash. For the backing I purchased Lunarable Dog Bone upholstery fabric. I had enough batting to put a double layer for extra thickness and softness. The challenge was to quilt this myself. I have a 101 excuses for not quilting my own quilts, but lets just say I rather piece than quilt. It was a struggle to stitch in the ditch, because of the thickness. Also, my sewing room is not set up for quilting large projects. I did a little rearranging, but it was still difficult. I managed to get it done, with okay results. I just wanted to get Sam his own blankie. My other granddog is next on my list. My granddaughter did a great job of painting a portrait of her dog.

There were a few rocks left in my craft box, so I painted some fall scenes. Since my grandson drew a picture of one of our favorite Mo Willems story characters, I painted Pigeon on a rock.

In between rock painting, I have continued adding embroidery to one of my old denim vests. I drew a sassy flamingo in my sketch book, with plans to embroider the flamingo on the back panel of my vest. The back center panel of the vest was a bit too much for embroidering directly onto the denim. So, I used the applique making technique I learned from Chezlin on Youtube. I find the process of using Sulky stabilizer to be rather successful. As recommended in the tutorial, I added the coating of Modge Podge on the backing to seal the threads. I discovered another way to make an applique patch out of hand embroidery. The method by Jessica Long Embroidery uses Heat n Bond. I think this might be a better way to ensure the integrity of the stiches, and also hide them. There is still plenty of space on the vest, just begging to be decorated. So, I will hit the sketch book again.

I know there are still two days until October, but I just couldn’t wait to start having some October Fun.
I hope you are doing well.
Stay safe.
Have fun.

Voting
I was able to vote by mail this year, only because of my age.
Texas is not providing the safety measure of voting by mail during this pandemic for anyone under 65.
Shame on the leadership in this state.
Please VOTE.

Friday Finish

Last week, my sewing machine got quite the workout. So, this week, I gave it a rest. My time was spent sketching things I might want to embroider. This led me to look at different embroidery tutorials online. What did we ever do before the internet? I appreciate all the artists who offer tutorials. People are so generous in sharing their art and skills.

My first embroidery project for the week was to make an autumn fabric inchie. I love the challenge of making something so small. I planned to make some more inchies, but then I got sidetracked. I ran across some tutorials on embroidering denim, jeans, and vest. Denim was my wardrobe of choice when I was teaching. Jeans were only “allowed” on spirit days and field trips; but this did not stop me from having denim jumpers, dresses, skirts, and vests. Since I NEVER throw anything out, except for the jeans that shrunk and no longer fit me :), I still had a couple of vests I wore back in the ’80’s. Let’s just say these are vintage items and move on.

Of course, I chose to embroider birds on the front of the vest. I embellished the top of the vest with a row of embroidered flowers and hearts. The top-back of the outer vest had a small rectangular outline  from the leather Levi tag located on the inside. These layers of leather and denim made it difficult to embroider onto the area itself. So, I researched  how to make your own embroidery applique. I had seen many beautiful samples of embroidery on tulle, and I put this on my “To-Learn” list.  I finally found a tutorial by Cheslin. Cheslin made it look so easy. She embroiders beautiful appliques to add on to clothing. One of her tips is to use Modge Podge to seal the back of the embroidery. This worked perfectly on the  birds, flowers, and hearts that I already embroidered onto the vest. I drew a dove and traced it on to a sheet of Sulky Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer. This was placed over white tulle in an embroidery hoop. It was very tricky to embroider on the stabilizer and tulle. I think I might have used too large of a needle for this project. I was not happy with my embroidery stitches since they came out too large and loopy. However, I loved that I now had an applique that could be sewn over the back of the vest label. Instead of using the dove on tulle, I tried the same process of using the stabilizer. But this time, I backed the stabilizer with a heavy weight white muslin. The results were much more satisfactory, and it is now sewn onto my vest.

I love receiving photos of my grandchildren and their art. My grandson made a great drawing of Pigeon, one of my favorite characters by the author, Mo Willems. Then, my granddaughter and I had another Zoom session and she was telling me about the dragon book series she is reading. I told her that I had seen a rock painted like a dragon’s eye. She drew one for me on Zoom, and I told her I was going to try to paint one. I found an artist, Annamoon, who posts rock painting tutorials for beginners. I painted two dragon eyes, and tried my hand at painting a fall landscape. My landscape painting needs some work.

My rock supply is now depleted, so I will have to find some more on my morning walks.
All in all, it has been a good week for me.
I hope  you also had a good week.
Stay safe.

Today

Today is Song

(To the tune of “Frere Jacques”)
Today is _______.
Today is _______.
All day long, all day long.
Yesterday was ______.
Tomorrow will be _______.
Oh what fun!
Oh what fun!

This will be my new morning song. I spent all of today thinking it was Saturday. Oh, well, it was a productive day, either way.
A friend of mine told me about how she was making seasonal and special masks for her granddaughters. I thought it was a cute idea. I had ordered some Halloween fabric from Studio Stitch to make some other projects. One of these fun fabrics was a print of “Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet.” The fabric made me feel like a kid again.

This past week was spent trying out different embroidery stitches and designs. I purchased the book, Embroidery A Step-by-Step Stitching Guide by Lucinda Ganderton.  When I first started quilting, I bought Ganderton’s book about quilting, A Block a Day.  I found the quilting book to be very helpful, with clear cut instructions. I thought her book on embroidery might be just as good of a resource for embroidery, and I was right. I was able to try out new stitches on the projects I completed this week.

One of the pieces I embroidered was the result of a Zoom-ing session with my granddaughter, I asked her if she had any ideas for another fall scene I could embroider. She quickly talked me through some different ideas. She did not want to draw the  actual scenes, because she wanted me to use my imagination. 🙂 She did however, use arrows, labels, and scribbles to design what she wanted. The one I chose to do was the scarecrow scene. My granddaughter said it needed two cornstalks, a crow, and a “cute” snake. She also asked if I could make sure to include the posts on which the scarecrow was hanging. I decided to make somewhat of a dimensional scarecrow by stuffing the face with batting. I used a scrap of jeans for the overall, some fall fabric scraps for the shirt, and some burlap for the hat. The crow was fussy cut from the fabric I used to make my autumn quilt. I had to think a bit about how to make a “cute” snake, because I do not think there is such a thing. The snake is hiding in the grass by the scarecrow’s foot. I included everything my granddaughter said should be in the piece, however, I did move the crow and the snake to a different location than she had designed. We will talk about artist license the next time we Zoom. This piece was a lot of fun to make because it was a collaborative effort. I so enjoy these art sessions on Zoom, although I would much prefer it to be in person.

This pandemic and the issues facing our country, make it so difficult to stay positive and hopeful. There is no telling what the holidays will look like this year. I started thinking of Christmas designs to embroider, and this definitely helped to put a smile on my face. I found Christmas tree tutorial by Artesd’Olga. I loved the stitches she used for making the pine tree. She offers a free pattern to download. I used my  light box to trace the tree onto linen. However, I changed the pattern just a bit. Instead of embroidering gifts under the tree, I used Christmas fabric to make a tree skirt.
The next Christmas design was a poinsettia. I drew the flower on sketching paper, just for practice. Then I used a Micron 05 to draw the poinsettia onto the linen. Making the French Knot for the center was my favorite part.
My mother used to love cardinals. Once again, I practice sketched a cardinal on a pine tree limb with a pine cone, before drawing it onto the linen. The bullion stitch was used to make the cone.

Since I thought today was Saturday, I was planning to just read, and watch TV on Sunday. Now, I have to find something else to do for tomorrow because…

Today is Friday.
Today is Friday.
All day long, all day long.
Yesterday was Thursday.
Tomorrow will be Saturday.
Oh what fun!
Oh what fun!

 

 

 

Walking with Lines

Drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
Paul Klee

As a child, I was always doodling and going along for “walks with lines”. My father used brown grocery sacks to make book covers for our school books. These made perfect canvases for my doodling. Instead of listening in class, I was “walking” with lines all over my books and notebooks. Doodling is still one of my favorite pastimes. Lines, in all formats, continue to grab my attention. I am always looking at the lines that form and shape my environment.

I like to dabble in zen art and thread sketching with my sewing machine. Right now, I have a renewed interest in the many different forms of hand-stitching. Making lines with yarn can take so many shapes and forms. Sashiko stitching and kantha stitching are two forms of stitching that I have researched and attempted to learn. I learned about kantha stitching from viewing the beautiful pieces stitched by  Mariss Stevens of Fabrications. She has a very interesting post on kantha stitching and cultural appropriation.
Before Covid, I had signed up for a class in creative stitching by Sue Spargo. The class in this folk art style stitching was cancelled. I had purchased her book, Creative Stitching, a few years ago, and I have been trying to self-teach.

For now, I am relying on the embroidery I learned from my aunt and my mother. I have a few basic stitches down, and I am viewing tutorials on the different types stitches. My friend, Francine, from Las Colchas, introduced me to a great book by Natalie Chanin. The Geometry of Hand-Sewing offers great instructions and manipulated grids for different stitches, ranging from basic to enhanced stitches.
I prefer to doodle or sketch my own patterns or designs, although I have used a couple of free patterns to transfer. I have also transferred a photo onto to linen to embroider. Any suggestions for other embroidery resources would be appreciated.

Fall has always been a special season for me, so I have been sketching simple autumn scenes. I used a couple of my sketches as patterns to embroider. I drew onto the linen with a Micron 03 pen. These small projects are giving me the opportunity to practice and try out new stitches. I wanted to embroider on burlap, but I did not have enough to fit on a hoop. I used some different types of linen on the projects in the video below. Next, I want to try embroidering on tulle; but I need to clean up what the back of my stitching looks like before I give tulle a try.  In the video, I also included a fabric Halloween book that I made for my youngest grandson. The fabric panel is from Studio E Fabrics. These small embroidery projects have been a fun way to take an autumn walk with lines.
Stay safe.

Pig in a Wig

Great news!
My sister, Emma Virjan, Children’s book author and illustrator  will read WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG. After the reading, she will have a workshop and discussion about her illustrations process.
Time: 3:30-4:30 EST
Here is the link to the Brooklyn Public Library

Here is the link to her website, where you can click on the Facebook icon at the top of the page:
Emma Virjan

When I was teaching elementary school, Emma would come to read and share her writing and illustration process with my students. Emma is great with children. My students always enjoyed her visits. They learned so much from her. Emma would perk their interest in reading and writing. She also encouraged and brought out the children’s creativity.
So, for all the parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone interested in art and children’s literature, be sure to join in on this reading and workshop. In fact, I invite EVERYONE to listen in and participate.

 

Hello, September!

September’s Baccalaureate
A combination is
Of Crickets – Crows – and Retrospects
And a dissembling Breeze
That hints without assuming –
An Innuendo sear
That makes the Heart put up its Fun
And turn Philosopher
Emily Dickinson

Even though the days seem to be endless, September has arrived. We are expecting a “cool front” this week, which means our temperature high will only be 89. It is better than the 100 degree temperatures we were having.

September does bring many happy memories, and some very special birthdays. My grandson already received the quilt I made for his birthday. This past week, I got busy making the birthday gifts for one of my DIL’s. Next, I need to make something for my brother.

For my DIL, I chose pink roses as my theme. According to FTD by Design, pink roses symbolize joy. The different shades of pink have different meanings. Giving pink roses as a gift is a token of admiration or gratitude. I have been drawing my own patterns for embroidery, but I wanted to find a new way to embroider a flower. I found a free pattern by embroideryloversteffi that was simple and easy to transfer and embroider. I chose three different shades of pink to embroider the roses. A few weeks ago, I ordered some decorative embroidery hoops that were just perfect for this project.
In my stash, I had some beautiful pink rose fabric, and a coordinating green print. Jordan Fabrics has a super easy tutorial for making place mats and cloth napkins. I used a coordinating gold and pink rose print for making double-sided cloth napkins. Since I only had a yard, I could only make the smaller size cloth napkin. There was just enough leftover fabric to make a drawstring pouch for the embroidery hoop roses. As for the place mats for my brother, I will be picking up some fabric tomorrow.

In April, Mary Puckett had posted about a Quarantine Quilt pattern that she designed. She used a Figures Zen Chi fabric from Studio Stitch, in Greensboro, NC. The fabric caught my eye, and I took up the offer of a free pattern and contacted Studio Stitch for some fabric shopping. The people in the this shop are so friendly and helpful. It is now one of my favorite fabric shops. Mary gives excellent directions and tips on her pattern. I was able to finish the quilt in two days; one for cutting, one for piecing. My friend, Linda Jennings did the quilting for me. This lap quilt is now on my recliner, waiting for cooler weather.

Studio Stitch has such an amazing selection of fabric. I found this super fun autumn fabric with crows, and squirrels, and everything fun. It reminded me of the poem by Emily Dickinson. I ordered six fat quarters and the backing fabric from the online site. Then, Carrie, helped me pick the remaining 7 fat quarters that I needed for my fall quilt. Sometimes, it is difficult to get the true color from their online site, and that is where Carrie stepped in and helped me make the right choices.  This was another two-day quilt to cut and piece. I dropped off the quilt top at Linda’s, and I am looking forward to having it back just in time for fall latte’s and pumpkin scones.

In between these projects, daily walks, and other tasks, I am continuing to work on a one inch stamp quilt. After making one 12″ block, I stored it in a UFO box, asking myself why I would even think of starting a quilt like this. Since then, my interest in this quilt has grown. It is now out of the UFO box, and I work on it every now and then.  All the pieces had been cut already. I began using an assembly line approach. Now, I have enough strips to make a total of 16 blocks. In order to keep myself motivated, I completed 6 blocks. I am thinking of making five rows of four blocks, plus some borders.  Still thinking about the final design.
In the meantime, I plan to enjoy these September days.
Hope you enjoy your September days.

 

 

More August Stuff

 So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
John Lewis

The Peace Quilt I made as a birthday gift has shipped to my grandson.  The pattern for this quilt is by J. Michelle Watts, Peace in Pieces. I chose this pattern, because I was inspired by the words of John Lewis. My grandson is a compassionate, brilliant, and artistic young man. I totally enjoyed making this quilt with him in mind.

There is a joke in the family about how I am always making mug rugs for everyone. My youngest sister joked about my sons being in the Mug Rug of the Month Club. Well, now, she is a member. She asked for some heart shaped mug rugs, which I made and mailed to her. I also saw a cute bird block on Pinterest that I thought would be a cute mug rug. There was not a pattern, but I was able to sketch a pattern out on graph paper. I scaled the measurements to 1″ blocks. My sister now has two bird mug rugs.

My granddaughter and grandson are back in school, online. Their parents did a terrific job of setting up a school room for them in their homes. The chair my granddaughter is using is a high back, upholstered chair. My grandson has a chair like those that are used in classrooms. I made a chair pocket organizer for him. I used to make them for the students in my class. Throughout my years of teaching, there were mothers who would volunteer to make the pockets for the students. I used the same “pattern” that my friend and I used; but I added an extra double pocket onto the back pocket. This pocket organizer could also be used as a lap reading pillow, by inserting a pillow into the chair top pocket.

Yesterday, I dumped all the tiniest of scraps from one of my large bins into two bags. My intent was to throw them away this morning. Then, last night, my DIL sent me a photo of mini quilt blocks. These blocks are made from those irregular, small cuts that are leftover. My friend just throws her scrappy scraps and tells me I should do the same. Of course, I couldn’t go through with the plan to trash this treasure. I had to try out making the mini quilt block today. It took me all of 10 minutes to make three mini blocks. I just love the way the blocks look. They would make a cool border. They could even be pieced into a larger block. Many possibilities. My scraps are now back in a bin…and I blame my DIL. 🙂

I have found my new favorite quilt shop, and I have never walked inside the doors! Mary J. Puckett introduced my to Studio Stitch. I ordered the fabric and received the Quarantine Pattern designed by Mary. This is the quilt that is with the longarmer right now. Carrie, from Studio Stitch, is very friendly and super helpful. After my first experience shopping online with Carrie, I decided to go back. Originally, I was thinking of making an autumn quilt, with leaves and pumpkins and such. I went to the website, just to look, and I found some fun fabric. It is a fall-ish fabric, that has little crows shopping and walking down a country road. I have recently become very interested in crows, and this fabric is just perfect! There is such a lot of activity and story in this fabric. I chose the six fabrics that came with the line, and Carrie helped to find the other fabrics (fat quarters ) needed for the quilt.  It was two afternoons of chatting on the phone. I felt like I was shopping with a friend. The fabric is ordered and will be mailed today. I cannot wait to get started on this quilt. When, and if, this pandemic is over, I definitely want to visit this great quilt shop in Greensboro, NC..

The next few days will be spent clearing and reorganizing my work space. Or not… 🙂

Mom

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

Mark Twain

It has been many years since I have crocheted.
My mother and I used to spend time crocheting together. She was the one who taught me how to crochet. And I also relied on her showing me how to crochet a shawl, afghan, or other project, rather than me reading the pattern. Crocheting  was an activity we could do together, without me doing or saying something that would irritate her. 🙂
After a day of teaching, I would like to come home and crochet. I found the rhythm and repetition in crocheting to be very relaxing. I ended up over-doing it though, resulting in carpal tunnel. Because of this, I had not picked up crochet hooks again, until two years ago. I was so disappointed because I could not remember anything. Reading patterns and studying books I checked out from the library, did nothing to refresh my memory. I’m a visual and hands on learner, and I no longer have my mom to guide me through. I put the yarn and hooks away.
Recently, I started watching videos on crocheting. My first project was crocheting rock socks. I used small hooks and embroidery yarn. The hooks I ordered for this project are so much better than the old ones I had. They are more ergonomic and easier on the hand. This was the first time I crocheted anything with a small hook. I have two sets of hooks that range from 0.75mm to 10.5 mm.
Then, I got interested in projects made with t-shirt yarn. There are tutorials on how to make the skeins of yarn by cutting t-shirts. I might try this one day. For now, I purchased two different skeins. One arrived two days ago, and it was not as wide as I thought it would be. I followed a tutorial by Tuula Maaria. The project I chose for my first attempt was a small clutch pouch. I chose this because it is all single crochets and I wanted to start off slow. I increased the size of the pouch by adjusting the pattern. I used a 6.5 mm hook for this. I like the texture and the flexibility of the t-shirt yarn.
Crocheting this bag was a very relaxing and fun project. It reminded me of all the crocheting sessions I enjoyed with mom. I might have to give myself time before I start another crochet project. My hand is okay, but I do not want to set myself up for any trouble.
Mom taught me the basics of embroidery, but I could never sit down long enough to embroider. I used to think embroidery stitching was too slow of a process. Now, I enjoy sitting down and relaxing with a slow stitching project. As I was searching for ideas on Youtube tutorials, I saw some embroidery projects that used tulle for the fabric. I think this might be interesting to try out. There might be some tulle in one of my bins.
Mom would probably be fussing at me and telling me to settle down.
But, I think she would enjoy seeing me crocheting and embroidering.