More Amigurumi

Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong. – Zen Proverb

With the few days remaining until election, I am doing everything I can to just breathe, have hope, and stay sane.
It is so true, that the littlest of things can make one happy. Running across the amigurumi tutorials has save the day for me. This Japanese art form of knitting or crocheting small animals provides the outlet and positive energy I need at this time. Forming soft and pliable yarn into hand-sized animals makes me smile. There are so many tutorials, and I do appreciate how people are so generous in sharing their art.
I found an easy-to-follow tutorial for making a ratóncito, little mouse. My sister, Emma, created a cute ratóncito as a character in one of her Pig in A Wig book series. I think little mice are cute…although not in a house.
I rummaged through some of my craft bins, and some crochet rounds that my mother had made. There are over 90 of these tightly crafted circles. I am trying to think of how to make something with these rounds. The bin also contained a few balls of yarn that belonged to my mom. I pulled out a ball of mixed blue yarn, and started looking for some tutorials on how to make a bird. Stella’s Yarn Universe has a three part tutorial on making the cutest bird ever. The directions are clear and slow. I was doing pretty good with the bird until I got towards the end. The bird is supposed to be facing forward with a tail in the back. I realized that my bird no longer looked like the one in the tutorial. Once again, I had miscounted on the crochet stitches. Some of the yarn is very dark blue and it is difficult to see the stitches. I think that is where I counted incorrectly. My choices were to unravel all my work and start over; or revise the pattern by making up the rest of the pattern. I noticed that it would work out if I made the tail to go to the side, instead of the back. The tutorial gave directions for using crafting wire for making the legs. I did not have wire, so I made a nest instead. I had a fabric rope shallow bowl I had made for practice. I filled it up with yarn and thread pieces. There will be another attempt at making this bird as it is in the pattern. There is also a tutorial on making a tiny bird that I would like to try out.
Just for practice, I made a daisy granny square. Granny squares can be made while I am watching TV or visiting with the Meemaws. As for the amigurumi, I have to crochet along with the video tutorial. Some people list a written free pattern. However, reading a pattern is not something I do well.
If you are looking for something relaxing to do, I totally recommend crocheting amigurumi.


Crochet and Sew

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot

I just had to turn off tonight’s debate.
Animals are better off.
In order to stay positive amidst all this turmoil, I have been working on fun stuff in my sewing room. Thanks to Tierney, my interest in crocheting has been reawakened. My mother is the one who taught me how to crochet. Back in the ’70’s, she and I would sit together and work on our own projects. She was my Youtube. Mom would start me off by showing me the stitches. Then, she would periodically check my rows and count the stitches. I made booties for an aunt in a nursing home, shawls for my MIL, mini Christmas stockings for my students, and oodles of afghans. My crocheting career ended when I got carpal tunnel.
Since it has been quite a few years since I picked up a hook, I have been watching quite a few tutorials. I thought it best to start small, so I began by making an animurumi owl. These crocheted animals are made with all single crochets, along with increase stitches. The tutorial by Bianca’s Crochet Place was very informative. The instructor had the right pace, and she explained each step. I have trouble counting my stitches, so the owl had one wing larger than the other. A little surgery was performed, and the owl now has two wings of the same size.
I then tried to make an elephant amigurumi. This did not turn out well. My stitch counting was so bad, I had made a body twice the size of the model on the tutorial.
Rather than start over on another elephant, I decided to make a bee! The tutorial, Hooked by Robin, is well paced and clear in instructions. This turned out much better than I expected. I messed up on the count at the end, but it turned out with a better stinger on the bee. I also learned about how to make a decrease stitch.
Since I still wanted to make an elephant, I started looking for tutorials on making fabric toys. I found a great tutorial and free pattern from Birch Organice Fabric. There was enough fabric left over from my dragon quilt for me to use in making this elephant
Making these animals sure helped to get my mind off this pandemic and election.
Stay safe.
Vote.



Fabric Collage

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? John Lennon

A few weeks ago, I was looking for fabric and pattern ideas to make a dragon quilt for my granddaughter. In my opinion, the fabric was either too dark and fierce, or too juvenile. Thanks to my friend, Nancy, who suggested I try making a fabric collage dragon. Making a fabric collage quilt was on my Something to Try list. I sketched quite a few dragons in my art journal thinking that I could then draw into on a larger scale. After a few disappointing attemps, I thought of looking on Etsy. Bam!
Jackie Cooper had a pattern for machine applique that was just perfect! The “Drago” pattern had great instructions. I added a second border to make this into a lap quilt size. It is perfect for my granddaughter to use in the book nook she has in her room.
Joy, from Mesquite Bean, helped me choose the fabric online. She is absolutely the best and is so helpful. I consulted with my granddaughter to make sure I had her favorite colors included. (The quilt is a surprise for Christmas.) The fabric included some batik and Kaffe Fassett. I also threw in some of my Marcia Derse scraps. Choosing the right color and designs to fussy cut was the most fun part of this project. I spent one day playing with the fabric and making the different parts of the dragon. They were all fused and ready to sew on the second day. I think I have enough fabric to piece a colorful backing.
Whenever I Zoom with my granddaughter, she shares the latest adventure of the dragons in the book series she is reading. I love hearing the excitement as she tells the stories. She has me believing in dragons.

Fun Week

Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.

Pierre Bonnard

Last year, a friend arranged for three of us to have our own quilt retreat in Fayetteville, Texas. All along the way to our destination, we visited and shopped for fabric in the small towns. Holly Dee Quilts is a shop in Luling, Texas, owned by Denise Green. Her shop had a big selection of Marcia Derse fabric. I previously had purchased yardage of Derse’s Art History fabric and tucked it away until I could think of what I wanted to do with it. Denise had a curved log cabin quilt pattern made from Derse fabric on display. I loaded up on fat quarters, and went above my quilt retreat budget before I even got to a Fayetteville. The fabric came with the pattern for the log cabin quilt.
The fabric was so beautiful, that I hesitated to start a project with it. I thought the log cabin was too traditional for the fabric. Since I had no clear plan, the fabric was placed in a bin.
Recently, I was very interested in a quilt pattern that Mary posted on her blog. She had two beautiful finishes, using Kaffe Fassett, and a pattern by Free Spirit Fabrics, Carnival of Colors Pattern . This pattern is perfect for the Derse fabric. I followed the instructions for piecing the fabric, but I did not follow any sort of plan for placement of color or design. It was such a fun week, playing with the colors and designs of the fabric.
P.S.
Mary, thanks for sharing your two beautiful quilts and this pattern.

Autumn Morning

 Earth laughs in flowers-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places in town. Before Covid, I would frequently visit this beautiful place. At that time, the garden was undergoing major renovations. One of my Meemaw friends recently visited the gardens, and recommended that we meet there once again. Covid precautions are in place at the Gardens. It is a bit difficult talking and walking at a distance, while wearing masks, but we did it. And it was well worth it.
The renovations are complete, and the gardens are more beautiful than ever. We were surrounded by autumn colors and natural designs. We saw the reddest, chubbiest Cardinals we have ever seen. I was able to capture two photos of Monarchs. At this time, the garden is having an exhibition of origami sculptures by Keven and Jennifer Box, and Robert J. Lang. The lifecycle of a butterfly sculpture was amazing. There was also one of a buffalo with a bird on it’s back. I could not get close enough for a photo on this one because the gardeners were working in the area.
Hearing the “earth laugh in flowers” gave me a little more hope about getting through this seemingly never-ending pandemic and this troubled political time.

Lego Birthday

With a bucket of Lego, you can tell any story. You can build an airplane or a dragon or a pirate ship~ it’s whatever you can imagine.
Christopher Miller

I know a boy who is going to be surprised on his birthday with the best gift ever. His dad just made him a Lego table. My son did a fantastic job on building this storage/play table. Last week, I enjoyed watching my grandson build with Legos. He is going to love this imagination station.

Imagination Station

Halloween Hexagons

“When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween.”

— Unknown

Most of the quilts I have pieced have been my own design, or patterns that I get from friends, books, stores, or online. I think I have only made two quilts that came as a kit. Because of this pandemic, I am only shopping online for fabric. Thanks to the great people at Studio Stitch and Mesquite Bean, my virtual fabric shopping has been successful. Recently, I saw a kit from Prairie Grass Patterns, by April Rosenthal. The Midnight Magic kit came with two beautiful Halloween jelly rolls; background, binding, border, applique fabric; and laser cut lettering. The fabric is what sold me on this kit. The kit also had the triangle ruler for making hexagons. I have been wanting to make a hexagon quilt, so I purchased the kit. This pattern definitely was a challenge for me because of the seams. It was easy to nest the seams while piecing the triangles into hexagons. The headache came when I had to piece the hexagons together. There was no way, that I could find, to nest the seams. It was a bit of a struggle, but I ended up getting the seams to lay flat, even though they were not nested. Now that it is completed, I can say that I will not be making another hexagon quilt any time soon!
Hoping you find luck, this Halloween.
Stay safe.


October

I’m So Glad I Live in a World Where There Are Octobers.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

October, my favorite month, started off beautifully. Like Laura Bruno Lilly, I also took a reasonable and planned out visit with two of my sons, DIL’s, and four of my grandchildren. Time with my family nourished my soul and lifted my heart. I was a blubbering fool as I started my return trip home, but then I started tapping into the new special memories that were made this weekend. I now am re-energized and ready to proceed.
The first thing on my agenda was to pick up my autumn quilt from my quilting friend, Linda Jennings. Fabric from Studio Stitch, in Greensboro, NC, was used for making this fun quilt. I used the Show Biz pattern that I had previously used in making the Halloween quilt for my granddaughter. The pattern is perfect for showcasing the crows shopping in the village on an autumn day. I named this quilt, Autumn in Crow-ville. The fabric for the backing was perfect because it filled with pumpkin recipes. This quilt definitely makes me feel happy that we ‘live in a world where there are Octobers.

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.