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.

August Stuff

So far, this month, I have pieced two quilt tops. One, Quarantine Quilt, pattern by Mary J. Puckett, was so much fun to piece. The Zen numbers fabric caught my eye, and I just had to make this quilt. Like Mary, I believe in supporting our quilt shops; and I believe in her new policy, “Life is short, buy the fabric.”  The scrap bin was over-flowing and just waiting to be used. My contact with the Studio Stitch was such a pleasant experience. I plan to order more fabric from them for future projects. I will post more about this Quarantine Quilt once it is returned from my quilter. I am looking forward to binding and using my quilt. Thanks, Mary, for your excellent pattern directions.

The second quilt top I made is for a very special teenager in my family. I had seen the Peace in Pieces pattern by J. Michelle Watts, many months ago. It was during the time that I was still shopping in person at the Mesquite Bean. This young man has a birthday in September, and I just knew this quilt would be perfect for him. It is a scrappy quilt, but the scraps in my bin were just not suitable for this project. I consulted with my friend at the Mesquite Bean, and she helped me choose 40 fabrics. I cut two, 2.5″ strips from each fabric and sewed them together into a 2,500″ roll of strips. Then, I followed the pattern directions for cutting the strips needed to form the peace sign. I don’t know why I thought this would be an easy-peasy quilt to put together! It is now with my quilter, and again, I cannot wait to see it completed.

My sisters and I had planned a social distance gathering, but we had to postpone it. I had embroidered some birds that I drew on some linen. I also made a flower out of an embroidered button. I turned these into mini-pillow dangles. Since I could not give them to my sisters in person, I mailed them.

For some time now, my friends have been wanting me to make a Meemaw wall hanging.  Since I have been looking for things to do since the quilts were finished, I decided to start on this project. I have a light box that I wanted to try out. I asked the Meemaws to send me a selfie. I traced these onto some white muslin. The faces were embroidered with beige thread. I ended up not liking the beige outlining. Then I used fabric to collage for their hair. I was not happy with how the fabric made it look like they were wearing helmets. It gave a stiff impression. After making the three portraits, and not being happy with the results, I tried something different.  When I made my portrait, I outlined in black embroidery. Then I embroidered the hair. This, in my opinion, was much better than using the fabric for the hair. Now, I do not know if I want to start all over with the other three portraits, or attempt to rip and redo the hair. This project has been shelved for the moment. If I do start over, I am going to ask two of my friends to take a “smiling” selfie! I think it was a bit unfair of me to use a pre-Covid portrait of myself. The portrait I used was taken by my hair stylist, the last time I saw him in March! There is no way I could capture what my hair looks like at this day and time without resulting in something rather scary.

Recently, I have been studying tutorials on how to crochet with t-shirt yarn. Years ago, I crocheted many afghans and other projects. I had to stop because I developed carpel tunnel syndrome in my right hand. I have since crocheted small projects such as rock socks :), using embroidery thread. It seemed my hand survived this bit of crocheting motion. I want to give it another try. I thought using a larger hook and t-shirt yarn might be fun.

I hope you are all doing well.
Stay safe.