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.

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.

Making the Best of It

July has always been a month of celebrations in my family. There were so many plans to spend time with my three sons and their families. These plans had to be cancelled. This year, we have had to celebrate on Zoom.

Today, I should be sitting with my family on a deck of a cruise ship. Thanks to my son and DIL, we are making the best of a bad situation. We are not allowing ourselves to be bummed out by the cancellation. Instead, we are finding ways to make it fun. My DIL reminded me that it is all about how we choose to spend our time locked inside and away from each other. As she said, “life is good”.

What would I be doing on the first day of the cruise? I would probably be scoping out the ship and finding my way around. I would also be taking in the beautiful seascape and soaking in the sun and sea air.  To set the mood, I played Bahamian music in my sewing room. I drew a small seascape onto canvas. I used some of my new embroidery thread that arrived today. Then I added some water color. Tomorrow’s cruise itinerary includes listening to tango music. I was so looking forward to taking the lessons provided on the ship. I found some tango tutorials on YouTube. The heels might do me in. 🙂

In the video, I also included some of the embroidery projects from the week. Last week, I embroidered a selfie of my pandemic hairstyle. This week, I embroidered a selfie of my pandemic attire. Thank goodness for stretchy pants and leggings.

Since I am such a bird nerd, I have two more embroidery projects featuring birds. One is a tufted titmouse, and the other is a speckled fuschia.

This past Wednesday, I picked up my Lone Star Quilt from Linda, who did the longarm quilting for me. The quilt is now shipped and on its way to my niece.

The excitement for the week came when I went to pick up my two ailing sewing machines. They are now both working as if they are brand new. I am so impressed with Gromes Sewing Machine Company. They have set up excellent Covid safety measures. They allowed drive by drop off and pick up. It was good to see the place had their usual heavy traffic of business. When I told one of my sons that I had my machines back, he joked that he was going to have to clear out his cabinets to make more room for mug rugs. So, of course, I had to make him some!

A positive attitude has made this an absolutely fun day.

Stay positive.
Life is good.
Stay safe.

Keep Busy~Stay Positive

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. Lucille Ball

  • The Pandemic Shut-In continues
  • This was a week of three digit temperatures with bad air quality
  • Both my sewing machines are not working

This was the week I decided to focus on keeping busy and choosing to stay optimistic.
All I can do about the pandemic is try to help others, pray, and remain hopeful.
There is nothing I can do about Texas summer temperatures. As soon as the air is less dusty, I will resume outside activities early in the morning.
As for the sewing machines, I spent a few days contemplating how to resolve this issue. I made pro and con lists for ditching these two and getting a new sewing machine. I really want a Bernina, and there are some summer deals going on. This is not the time to go into a shop and try out new machines. Also, if I purchased a Bernina, I would not be able to take any classes to familiarize myself with all of the features of the machine. I finally decided to take both of the machines into the shop. There will be a two week turn around on this. In the meantime, I will have to find some other way to keep myself busy.
For now, I have been playing around with embroidery. I remember watching my mom and my aunt embroider beautiful projects. Both of them made such precise stitches. The back of their work was all neat and tidy. I am not there yet, but I am trying different techniques to add texture and detail.
I started by drawing a humming bird and a flower. I chose a humming bird because I thought it would be fun to try colorful and textured wings.
My next project was for my granddaughter. She has outgrown unicorns, and is now interested in dragons. She is reading a series of dragon books. A few years ago, I was dabbling with Zen art, and just drawing loops and lines. I drew a dragon and filled it with lines and curves. I then used my granddaughter’s favorite colors~ teal and purple. I had one remaining DIY pendent, so I drew a small dragon on canvas. The canvas was a bit thick, and I drew the dragon a bit too large for the size of the pendent. I ended up squeezing and gluing the embroidered piece onto the pendent. I hope it stays glued.
French knots have always been a challenge for me, so I like to practice making them. I used a blue line piece of fabric to stitch some daisies. The centers are filled with French knots.
My sister sent me a video of a cockatoo dancing to ringtones. I researched the bird and learned more about this intelligent and social creature. I drew a cockatoo onto blue linen fabric. I tried adding texture and dimension with white, grey, and yellow embroidery thread.
I have some strips of canvas that I just cannot throw away. I drew three birds on a small strip of canvas. My goal was to display action in my embroidery. I called this piece, “Joyful Song”.
The next project started when I went to organize my scrap bin. I found a fabric with different owls in the design. I fussy cut one of the owls and, also, some leaves from another fabric. After gluing the pieces onto a star fabric, I embroidered the owl, tree, and leaves. I left this one in the hoop, as a small wall hanging.
Because of the pandemic, I, like many others, have not had my hair cut since March. As I was pulling my out of control hair into a scrunchie, the idea for my next piece came to mind. I drew sort of a selfie onto a small piece of canvas. Then I embroidered the hair, face, and glasses. I cut fabric in the shape of a shirt to applique. Fabric crayons were used to color the face.
It is going to be a long two weeks without my machine. I had plans to start another scrappy quilt, but this will have to wait.
Maybe this week I will paint rocks. 🙂
Keep busy.
Stay positive.
Stay safe.

Creative Block

Have you ever experienced a creative block?
What technique or process do you go through to get back on track?
Usually, taking a walk gets me started. Sometimes, ideas come to my head in the wee hours of the morning. Other times, just thinking of family, events, or friends, can get me on the track of making something.

This week, I realized I was tired of making the same type of things. I was stuck…not motivated. Quilts, thread sketches, small art, fabric art…just didn’t set me on fire. I made one fabric collage that I embroidered instead of thread sketching, but it was not fun.

Ducks on the river in Brackenridge Park were cute, but not inspiring.
My sister sent a great photo of a praying mantis…but I did nothing with it.

I made more masks for friends, family, and myself. I tried new patterns for making these masks. Making masks may not be my favorite thing to do, but it is one way to help people. It was fun trying out new patterns. I plan to continue making masks and build up a stash to have ready for anyone who needs one.

I guess that having a creative block during this pandemic is not really a problem. But for me, it is this creative process that is keeping me healthy and helping me through this unstable and scary period.
I texted my sister, Emma, to see what she does when she hits a jag. She gave me a few starters that sounded challenging.
She suggested I try drawing something with my non-dominant hand to get the creativity going. She also suggested drawing with my eyes closed. Emma did say that she did not recommend me thread sketching with my eyes closed. 🙂

So, I drew a selfie, using my left hand. The results were a bit shaky, but it made me smile. Then I drew some birds, using my left hand. I found it to be challenging and fun. Then, I thought about trying to draw with my left hand, but this time on fabric. This was a bit more difficult, but I liked the results. I drew a Willow Tit bird. At first, I drew it with the tail up, but their tails extend straight back. So I covered up my mistake by adding a fabric tree limb and some leaves. I started embroidering with my right hand, but decided to switch to my left hand. Funny, but I had less needle pokes using my left hand than I usually have when I use my right hand. This exercise of using my left hand really helped me with my focus…which has been off lately.

After completing the bird embroidery, I called my friend at the Mesquite Bean to talk about a quilt that I want to make for my grandbaby. We talked design and fabric over the phone for a good part of the day. Then I went to pick up the fabric. It is such a fun fabric and design, and I hope to start on this quilt soon.

My son sent me a photo of some art from my granddaughter. I love seeing her art. I love to hear her talk about her process and I love watching her work. We spend time on Zoom, drawing together. We learned how to use the whiteboard on Zoom. Once again, I have been inspired by one of my grandchildren. I am also looking forward to seeing what my grandson creates this week. I think I might pull out my water colors or pastels again. I have not sketched or painted on paper for a while. It might be fun to dabble around again.

It seems like switching things around a bit helped me to reboot.
I would love to hear what you do whenever you have a lapse or hit a creative block.
Stay safe.

My Happy Place

And so, it is Saturday. Or, is it? Who knows anymore?

My video today begins with a selfie of my unruly, uncut hair. When I see myself in the mirror in the morning, I get a very rude awakening. My hair looks a bit like a combination of Einstein and Beethoven. I sure miss my hair stylist!

I was able to deliver the quilts I made for my two nephews. I had dropped one off last week. This week, I picked up the second quilt from my friend who longarms for me. After binding the quilt, I was able to have a socially distant visit with my sister and nephews. It was good to see them.

Our mornings have been cool and breezy, so I have been taking advantage of this pleasure. I sit on my outside rocking chair to drink my coffee and hopefully get inspired. One morning, the blackbirds roosting in the trees were being particularly raucous. I found myself listening to the different sounds they made as they flew in and out of the trees. The blackbirds seemed pretty territorial and there were some mad dash attacks on the mourning doves and sparrows that happened to get too close. The next morning, I took my stitching bag outside with me to drink my coffee and make something. I created a fabric piece about the blackbirds. The blackbirds were pretty active again and I just totally enjoyed watching and listening. I had researched the different types of sounds they make and found it very interesting.

Today, I received an email from one of the condominiums in Port Aransas, Texas. The email stated that the beaches at Port A are closed to visitors, but Port A will be ready to welcome us back as soon as they can. At first, a feeling of sadness washed over me. Port A has been the host of many family outings. There are so many precious memories of time spent there with my sons and grandchildren. I have always thought of Port A as My Happy Place. So, I decided to make a fabric art piece of this very special place.

To make the piece, I cut a 10″ square of muslin and backed it with firm interfacing. I then used fabric with a cloud design and glued it to the top part of the square. I had some leftover “wavy” blue fabric from a yellow ducky quilt I made for my grandson. I cut it with a scalloped bottom and a curvy, horizon top. I had some textured beige linen type fabric that I used for the sand. I covered the sand with a white tulle piece. I added some layers of the sand on top of the tulle, then thread sketched the sand. I also thread sketched the waves and quilted the clouds. I took a separate piece of muslin and drew a back-view selfie. I then added fabric to create the hair, a hat, and a beach dress. I thread sketched and outlined the selfie and cut it out as an applique. I also drew two seagulls and prepared them to applique. I decided to quilt this block and bind it.
I now have My Happy Place hanging in my sewing room. Hopefully, my family and I can visit Port A once again.

Stay safe.

Today’s Art: March 31, 2020

Trying to find a silver lining in each day.
Daily art projects.
I found this tutorial on Youtube by Handiworks.
Allergies have put a halt to my walks.
So, I have to embroider flowers instead of seeing them up close.
My mother always tried me to get interested in embroidery.
She created beautiful embroidery art.
I tried it a few times and never got into it.
Now, I find it to be a soothing way to pass the time.
I still have a lot to learn.
The back of the embroidered pieces my mother created were clean and perfect.
I am definitely not there…but I’ll keep working on it.
Hope you are doing well.

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March 30, 2020

Beginning another week of isolation. My Meemaw friends and I are trying to set up some type of chat time, probably with Zoom.
This morning, I made an interactive lesson board for my grandson using Thinglink . This is an online tool that allows you to post interactive activities on one board. I used this when I was teaching and I thought it might be helpful to make one for my grandson. I based it on the curriculum calendar that his teacher provided. I found reading, math, science, and creative activities on Youtube and added the links to the Thinglink board I set up. Thinglink is a very easy tool to use, and the link above is a short tutorial on how to make one. I thought sharing this information might help some of you who want to connect with your grandchildren or others.

I also worked on today’s art. I pulled out more tiny scraps to play with and collage a piece. I already had leftover fabric and batting from a quilt, so I used that for the main block. The birdie came out a bit hefty in this piece.

Today’s Art March 28-29

Thanks to technology, I have had a great day. I was able to have a Zoom chat with my three siblings. My brother in Seattle, younger sister in Austin, and my older sister here in San Antonio. Lots of laughing.
This past Friday, my calendar reminded me that I was supposed to be in Round Rock for Grammy time starting this weekend and throughout all next week. Since that cannot be, the next best thing was being able to Zoom chat with my granddaughter. We challenged each other to learn a new fact to share each time we chat. We also get to draw together. Then, I was able to Facetime with my grandson.
After some morning exercise, I find myself looking through scraps to see what I can make. Yesterday, I made a fabric collage art piece that was inspired by a photo my sister, Emma, sent me. It was a photo of a butterfly in the midst of Emma’s lantana. I have a box of tiny scraps that were just perfect for this. I just cut, pasted, and basted the fabric onto a quilt sandwich block. I added embroidery stitches for some texture.
For today’s art, I made a simple heart with stitching.
Just doing my best to stay positive.
Hope all of you are doing well.

Embroidered Jewelry

I went through a few days of making thread sketch inchies, twinchies, and rinches. For some of these inchies, I added a clasp on the back to make a small brooch. I researched different ways to use the inchies for making jewelry. Back before this virus, on one of my shopping trips, I looked for different pendants. I could not find anything that readily fit what I had already made, either in shops or on Amazon. I particularly wanted to make a pendent out of the owl inchie I had thread sketched for my granddaughter. I contacted my friend, Nancy, because she is a great resource for ideas, websites, and just about everything. She told me about Heather Bailey. I purchased the tiny stitches embroidered jewelry kit. The kit included different transfers, cloth, embroidery thread, needle, hoop, and two pendant necklaces. I chose the owl transfer and made the pendant today.
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