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i am a creative person. mother to a daughter who is an active young woman and a constant blessing in my life. i hope that you enjoy your visit here and that you will return often.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

15 minute challenge ~ feb. 28

i have been showing photos of my rex type begonia but today's shot is of my tuberous begonia. i put this plant  outdoors in the summer time and indoors in the winter. it doesn't do a lot of anything until about this time of the year when it begins to come out of it's 'slump' and new growth emerges as well as sometimes flowering on older growth. this one is the more common type used as summer bedding plants. there are many different varieties and many different flower types and colors.
i didn't cut this plant back as far as i usually do this year and so on the branches that i left it has begun to throw some buds. i should actually cut them off and trim the plant back so that it will have a more compact and healthy look to it later in the year. it hurts a little to do this so i took a few pictures first.
however, today's shot is less about the flowers and more about the leaves. i was enjoying the way that the light was highlighting the leaf details as well as the curl of the larger leaf up in the right corner.

my weekly report card for the 15 minute challenge:

  • tuesday, feb. 21st: hexie sewing
  • wednesday, feb. 22nd: hexie sewing
  • thursday, feb. 23rd: sampler practice with TAST (chain stitch) ~ chain stitched onto all three stockings ~ 2 fabric covered buttons using the chain stitch
  • friday, feb. 24th: pineapple project (made 2 blocks)
  • saturday, feb. 25th: basted 32 background hexies (road trip goodness~!!~)
  • sunday, feb. 26th: hexie sewing
  • monday, feb. 27th: pineapple project (cutting strips) ~ hexie sewing

  • if you would like to see what others are doing with their 15 minutes or you're interested in joining in, you should visit Kate at Life in Pieces. she has been doing some fun give-aways during the month of february for those participating in the 15 minute challenge.
    i have found it to be an excellent way to continue making my own sewing/creative time a priority.

    what do you think? does the shirting background work?
     i managed to get background hexies sewn all the way around one flower and almost around another. i've laid these particular units out with a plan to sew them together as you see here. 
    i could still turn back but i'm liking it.
    i have a question in regards to the paper for all of those who have done this before me: at what stage does one begin to pull it out? i'm thinking i could pull out the paper behind the center pink flower (the yellow and the pink round) now but i'm not sure.

    recent gifts include:
    • one whole day completely to myself
    • other bloggers ~ you inspire me
    • the realization that i have so many caring people in my life


    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    selected sketches for february

       color me happy

    since most of the rest of this post is in black and white i decided to get very colorful with the photography today. this is a macro shot of one of the blossoms from my hibiscus plant. this plant has bloomed frequently throughout the winter making my dining room a tropical paradise (as long as one doesn't look out the window).

    i've chosen a few sketches from my own sketchbook for this post. these were all done during the month of february with the theme of "close-up" in mind from The Sketchbook Challenge
    "Getting close-up is about taking a new perspective, finding a different view and appreciating the little things."

    it turns out that i am very attracted to the said which is why i'm enjoying adding quotes to my sketches.

    i have recently received this gorgeous leather book cover from an extremely good friend. her and i have been friends for a long time and she knows me well. within the cover was a sketchbook. once i fill up this sketchbook i can insert another one. i'll have a beautiful daily reminder of my friend as well as being able to continually enjoy this cover.

    i love this gift on so many levels but even more than that i am so grateful for the love and kindness that this friendship brings me.

    recent gifts include:
    • a mother/daughter lunch out at a favorite restaurant
    • a beekeeping class (one step closer to being able to claim the title of 'beekeeper')
    • bananas. i love bananas.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    TAST week 8 ~ chain stitch

    this is week 8 (chain stitch) with Pintangle's TAST.
    one that i like because it can very easily be be used in a 'fluid' way. this makes it a great stitch to use for embroidered writing. i've known that i would place a word onto each stocking when i felt that the right stitch had been presented and the time was right so i was happy to see this week's choice.
    i asked both my wonderful daughter and husband to pick a single word that had personal significance or meaning for them.

    the wonderful daughter chose the word 'peace'. i used a medium strandable 4-ply cotton in a variegated green color.

    the wonderful husband chose the word 'joy'. i used a woolen strandable thread; hand dyed and also variegated. i was disappointed in the way that the color placements ended up falling and felt that this word sort of disappeared into the background towards the end. he liked it just the way it was and asked that i not change it.

    i chose the word 'play'. and play i did. i used a variety of threads and combinations of threads throughout the word. most of the thread was bits and pieces that had accumulated in the bottom of my thread tin. i just poked through and found fun combinations. i did try to use the color purple throughout the word to form a little bit of continuity.

    and last but not least there are two fabric covered buttons that i made using the chain stitch within the embellishing.
    the button in the background is monotone  in fabric and thread choices. this isn't something i do very often but i do like the look and should play with the idea more frequently. for the embroidery i first laid down a chain stitch (a twisted light weight thread) and then added a fly stitch (a variegated medium weight twisted thread) which i secured with a colonial knot at the 'catch point'. i then added two small colonial knots (in two strands of a strandable silk thread) centered over the open end of the fly stitch.
    the second button was embellished using two strands of a variegated cotton floss. i was careful to load these strands onto the needle in such a way that they weren't always shifting color at the same time. i formed a chain spiral and then added small single stitches along the sides of the chain stitch using only one strand of the same thread. i placed two single stitches at the outer part of the spiral in order to form an 'easement' to/from the chain stitch.

    if you think that you may be interested in learning embroidery or practicing the stitches you already know it's well worth a visit to Pin Tangle to join in with this project.

    within this weeks contributors i found some wonderful whimsical examples of this stitch. check here and here for stitches that will make you smile.

    recent gifts include:
    • homemade chocolate cake (the wonderful daughter strikes again)
    • feeling the love and devotion from a rescued dog 
    • accomplishing work on all three of  the stockings this week

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    15 minute challenge ~ feb. 20

    more begonia love
    the phrase "an incredible lightness of being" comes to mind . . .  

    my weekly report card for the 15 minute challenge:

  • tuesday, feb. 14th: applique on secret birthday blocks
  • wednesday, feb. 15th: sampler practice with TAST (detached chain stitch) ~ detached chain stitch onto stocking
  • thursday, feb. 16th: fabric covered button using the detached chain stitch
  • friday, feb. 17th: prewashed, ironed &amp cut background fabric for hexie project ~ basted 7 background hexies
  • saturday, feb. 18th: basted 11 background hexies
  • sunday, feb. 19th: applique on secret birthday blocks
  • monday, feb. 20th: basted 9 background hexies ~ made 4 pinwheel quilt blocks for a guild member

  • if you would like to see what others are doing with their 15 minutes or you're interested in joining in, you should visit Kate at Life in Pieces. she will be doing some fun give-aways during the month of february for those participating in the 15 minute challenge.
    i have found it to be an excellent way to continue making my own sewing/creative time a priority.

    now to catch you up with my hexie project.
    many years ago i thought it would be great to have a grandmother's flower garden quilt and i promptly chose a yellow fabric that i thought would make a good center for my flowers and began making them. it was my first experience with the english paper piecing method and i liked the foolproof accuracy of it as well as the hand sewing involved. i believe all of my 'flowers' are of a different fabric although i haven't actually gone carefully through them to check. i have quite a few but don't remember the number off of the top of my head.  at some point i got distracted and although i thought about the project and even occasionally looked at it briefly and once or twice made a real attempt to begin again, in the end, i was still looking at an unfinished quilt.

    so sometime last year i seen various other blogs with a hexie wednesday project badge and read a few blog posts that eventually inspired me back into wondering about getting mine done. i got it out once again and decided that i needed to think about what colors/fabrics i was going to use between my flowers as a background area. i thought about yellow but decided against that. i eventually decided that a variety of greens was the way to go. i basted some green hexagons only to decide that browns would be better. so i basted some brown hexagons and prepped many more for working on while i recovered from my hip surgery. i happily basted many brown hexagons while under the influence of painkillers. at some point i was jarred into the realization that i hadn't made anything for my guild's annual christmas bazaar and time was running way short . . . so i decided to sew some of the brown hexagons into a doll quilt. i bordered it with a  vintage pink calico that i found in my stash, hand quilted it, added a dark brown binding and donated it. ta-da~!

    that was all well and good  and i was happy to be able to contribute. however, i still needed to finish the original flower garden/honeycomb quilt. after the chaotic christmas season  passed i got back to working on it and decided that i wanted to sew a few of the brown hexies around one of the flowers to see how (fabulous) it was going to look. i got about halfway around when i decided that it was waaay too busy and not the look i wanted at all. i immediately removed them.
    at this point i began to wonder if i was ever going to find just the look i wanted. i contemplated gently tucking the small box and it's contents back into the cupboard and pretend that it didn't exist for another ten or fifteen years. after all, there were certainly other unfinished projects that i could move on to.
    in a last ditch effort i laid some of the flowers on top of various solid colored fabrics as well as a natural colored muslin to see if something would 'grab' me. no grabbing happened. i was beginning to get very discouraged when i ran the whole thing by a friend who suggested that i use a shirting as the background fabric.

    so we tossed some flowers out onto one that i had handy and i thought it might actually work . . . i purchased a bit more of the same shirting and have now begun to baste shirting hexies. the next test will be sewing a few around one of the flowers . . .
    i'd love to know what you think. 

    recent gifts include:
    • being able to help my daughter as she successfully patterned and constructed a bag for her laptop
    • being gifted with a beautiful new sketchbook
    • discovering pandora radio

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    TAST week 7 ~ detached chain stitch

    flora on rose petal

    these are the tiny white flowers that came within  a bouquet of flowers resting on a single fallen rose petal from the same bouquet. the white flowers where not the usual baby's breath but i don't actually know what they were. if any reader knows please feel free to share this info with me within the comments.

    this week (7) the detached chain stitch is the challenge on TAST.

    it's a simple stitch that i've been aware of for a very long time but i still learned something in regards to it: i've always called this stitch a lazy daisy and that is not it's actual name.
    i decided to do my sampler so that i showed the difference between a chain stitch and a detached chain stitch. the top example is done in a luscious red chenille which probably wouldn't hold up to pulling through the density of a regular fabric but did fine through the open weave of this linen.
    the bottom example is done in a single strand light green thread of unknown content. two very different looks for these stitches simply by varying the thread. the stitch uses the same count/spaces in both examples and has been worked with a slightly elongated catch stitch portion.

    the christmas stocking features the detached chain stitch done in a single strand of fine white thread  (unknown content). i stitched it in groupings of three (once again worked with an elongated catch portion of the stitch). this has been positioned onto the top of an already stitched portion that you may remember from an earlier post.

    and this is one of my fabric covered buttons.
    here are the details in the order that i worked them:
    1. a buttonhole stitch in a single strand of green thread was worked directly on the seam seam line.
    2. a detached chain stitch in two strands (one of orange and one of a variegated yellow to orange color) using regular cotton floss applied to the purple side of the buttonhole stitch at regular intervals determined by the buttonhole stitch's spacing.
    3. wrapped the extended part of the buttonhole stitch (once) with the same two threads used to make the detached chain stitch.
    4. fly stitch on the yellow side of the buttonhole stitch between every other space within the buttonhole stitch. i used a purple Gutermann quilting thread.
    5. a colonial stitch was centered above the fly stitch in the same Gutermann quilting thread.
    6. a single running stitch was added above the colonial knot, once again using the same Gutermann quilting thread.
    if you think that you may be interested in learning embroidery or practicing the stitches you already know it's well worth a visit to Pin Tangle to join in with this project.

    some of the examples this week that have caught my attention from other 'Pin Tangle Players' are  the use of it in combination with shisha work here and the lilac's done with this stitch here.

    recent gifts include:
    • a treasured long distance friendship renewed with a visit.
    • food choices that rivaled gourmet cuisine
    • thoughtfully exchanged gifts

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    15 minute challenge ~ feb. 14th

    ~!!~happy valentines day~!!~

    cyclamen love . . . or maybe i should say passion~!
    ;- )

    here is my valentines day report card:
    • tuesday, feb. 7th: pineapple trial block
    • wednesday, feb. 8th: practice with TAST (chevron stitch) ~ chevron stitch onto stocking
    • thursday, feb. 9th: quilting on the pink lemonade doll quilt
    • friday, feb. 10th: quilting on the pink lemonade doll quilt
    • saturday, feb. 11th: quilting on the pink lemonade doll quilt
    • sunday, feb. 12th: made 3 fabric covered buttons
    • monday, feb. 13th: quilting on the pink lemonade doll quilt

    if you would like to see what others are doing with their 15 minutes or you're interested in joining in, you should visit Kate at Life in Pieces. she is currently doing  some fun give-aways for those participating in the 15 minute challenge.
    i have found it to be an excellent way to continue  making my own sewing/creative time a priority.

    how about some button love~!?!~

    since the beginning of the new year i've been in the process of figuring out what i should do next with my scrap basket and it's exuberant contents. the pineapple block has always been a favorite of mine so when i spotted a tutorial on one  of my favorite blogs for making this block pattern based on Gyleen Fitzgerald's book: "Trash to Treasure Pineapple Quilts" i was immediately intrigued with trying it out. the problem was i would need yet another special ruler and since i'm making an effort to simplify my life and another ruler just doesn't seem like a good idea i decided i should at least try to do it without  one. i'm not a math wizard and  it took some time and help from my daughter but i was finally able to convert one of my regular square rulers into a make-do pineapple ruler using some masking tape to mark where i should cut as i sew up the block. i also have a couple of pages of copious notes and strange diagrams which anyone else might think were just plain scary as well as completely confusing.

    i did do a little bit of un-sewing, re-figuring and then some re-sewing and a few more (pages) scribbled notes but with a lot of luck and a pinch of pixie dust maybe i'll be able to duplicate this whole process to make more . . . it turns out there really is a good reason why these handy dandy rulers (and accompanying books) are so popular~!

    my scrap basket is now a tall laundry basket that's about three quarters full. at one time it was the same laundry basket (but totally overflowing) plus a very large, very deep drawer stuffed full so i do know that i am making progress towards my ultimate goal of keeping my scraps in a much smaller basket sometime before i pass on to the great quilt teacher in the sky. btw: this great teacher's first note of instruction is going to be to use the right ruler for the project . . .

    recent gifts include:
    • the feeling of being loved
    • the feeling of loving someone else
    • romantic dinners for two

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    TAST week 6 ~ the chevron stitch

    a little more romance . . .

    and week 6 of Sharon B's TAST ~ chevron stitch
    the first row on the sampler above has the chevron stitch worked in a purple single strand cotton thread. simple. no frills.
    i liked the idea of the chevron stitch providing a sort of 'platform' on the top for secondary stitches, beads, charms, etc. as well as a place from which to possibly dangle the same from the bottom of the stitch so i played around with that a little bit. first i worked the chevron stitch (quite a bit smaller than the first example) in two strands of a medium green cotton floss. i then used a single strand of heavier cotton  red thread to place a single lazy daisy detached chain stitch with every other one having a slightly longer catch stitch. under each of these i simply centered a small running stitch.
    i then went on to play a bit with the top of this same bit of chevron by adding a colonial knot in a single gold colored medium weight thread on that top 'platform' bit. then i used a very tiny single strand orange thread to stitch a fly stitch 'under/around' that colonial knot.
    i barely scratched the surface of what could be done with this stitch. i wish i had more time to explore all of the possibilities that it presents.

    however, while looking around at what other stitchers were doing i found this beautiful idea and these incredible interpretations.

    i have decided to bring all three stockings into the action rather than just working on one at a time. this will allow me many more choices of where i can put whatever happens to be the current TAST challenge stitch. previously i've only worked on wonderful daughter's stocking but the chevron stitch has me pulling out wonderful husband's and using the same single strand purple cotton thread that  i used in the very first sampler row above. however this time i added a silver filament to it. i also decided to use the upper and lower bar part of the chevron as a spot to add some detached buttonhole stitches, same thread sans filament.

    recent gifts include:
    • the thoughtfulness of friends/neighbors who will willingly/happily do mechanical work for you simply because they can hear that there is a problem and they know how to fix it.
    • a daughter who graciously helped me figure out the geometry of a quilting issue.
    • the ability to accept help (with a smile and a thank you) when it is offered.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    report card tuesday ~ feb. 7th

    it's february~!

    how's this for a little romance~!? one of my begonias has these clumps of tiny little flowers (about the size of a pencil eraser) on looong stems at this time every year. which leaves me with actual floral valentine confetti for the whole month of february. how cool is that~!

    it is time to show what i worked on for at least 15 minutes every day last week.
    • tuesday, jan. 31st: finished a quilt binding ~ one fabric button
    • wednesday, feb. 1st: quilting on pink lemonade quilt ~ hexie brainstorming
    • thursday, feb. 2nd: quilting on pink lemonade quilt ~ practiced the herringbone stitch ~ herringbone stitched onto christmas stocking
    • friday, feb. 3rd: practiced/experimented with herringbone stitch on fabric covered button
    • saturday, feb. 4th: NADA
    • sunday, feb. 5th: quilting on pink lemonade quilt
    • monday, feb. 6th: quilting on pink lemonade quilt

    if you would like to see what others are doing with their 15 minute challenge or you're interested in joining in you should visit Kate at Life in Pieces.
    all of that quilting on my pink lemonade quilt-a-long quilt and i'm still not even finished with the straight line quilting that is going over the pieced blocks. i also will quilt something special into the (yellow) alternate blocks but i'm still figuring that out.
    btw: i know that the double pink used in my pieced blocks is looking a bit purple/lavendar . . . i'm not exactly sure why i have (so far) been unsuccesful photographing it but i'll keep trying.
    this is the fabric that i chose for the backing of the pink lemonade quilt. i adore this fabric and so wish that i had bought more of it~!! what's not to love. big fat bumblebees, sweet soft looking bunnies, lace, postal bits, hand written letter bits, alphabets, and more. i should have bought a whole bolt~!~instead i bought one yard. what was i thinking~!
    i'm quilting the pink lemonade with a size 12 perle cotton and an embroidery needle. i'm also using a slightly larger stitch . . . making it not too fussy but still looking good.

    and here are a few more of those fabric covered buttons that i just cannot seem to stop making.

    recent gifts include:
    • having several of my houseplants flowering which makes it slightly easier to wait for spring to get here
    • having just enough time in my life to get a few more photos taken
    • the availability of clean drinking water. right out of the tap. whenever i feel thirsty.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    TAST week five's herringbone stitch

    this week i've been practicing the herringbone stitch. it's one i like and yet don't often use. that may change as i've found it to be quite versatile and interesting both while i practiced with it and in looking at other's work within the TAST group. there are a lot of extremely talented stitchers involved with the project~!!~ if you have a moment and are interested in embroidery take a minute to see some of the other work. there are many links within the comment section of the herringbone stitch post~!

    in the top example i used a heavy hand dyed variegated thread and worked a simple herringbone stitch. that seemed pretty boring and so i continued to experiment by adding an additional herringbone right over the top of the first using three strands of regular cotton floss in a contrasting light turquoise/aqua color. i think this would have looked nicer had i woven the top aqua herringbone into the bottom variegated one . . .  anyway i was still bored with it so i decided to try adding a stitch previously presented (an additional challenge raised by sharon for this week) to the sample: a fly stitch worked in two strands of  regular cotton floss in yet another contrasting color (orange). the fly stitch was placed so that it's open area sat directly over/under the open area of the larger herringbone stitch. finally i was becoming a little less bored with this sample . . .  but felt that there could be more so the straight stitch (worked in a single strand of the same orange floss used for the fly stitch) was placed directly over the crossed parts of the aqua herringbone. 
    had i woven the herringbones rather than laying one on top of the other i think it would have been very nice. so this sample definitely taught me something.

    in the lower example of the first photo i used a heavier hand dyed thread and worked the elements of the stitch quite closely together to create a tiny 'braid'. loved this and see some possibilities.

    i also tried working the herringbone stitch around in a 'circle' using a regular grey cotton floss (two strands). i think this has some possibilities but didn't pursue it.

    and the last bit of sample shown on the lower right of the second photo was done in a red twisted silk perle thread. once again i worked the stitch smaller but didn't work it as tightly as the second 'braided' sample shown in the first photo.
    i really liked working with this thread . . .

    and so i continued using it when i added the stitch to the stocking that i'm working on.  i added the small(ish) herringbone to the top of a fly stitched area that was previously worked onto the stocking. i used the fly stitch as a sort of guide in stitch spacing on the herringbone and this resulted in yet another combination of the herringbone and fly stitch.

    last but not least i managed to work two tiny different herringbones onto one of the fabric covered buttons that i've been making. this created a sort of striped effect. the stitch was worked in a pale pink size 12 perle cotton which incidentally is the same thread that i'm using to quilt my pink lemonade quilt.

    and completely off of the herringbone stitch subject of this post i've included a recent shot of River having a lovely nap in the afternoon sun on the leather sofa. this dog is not spoiled in the least~! LOL

    recent gifts include:
    • the sensation of drifting off to sleep within flannel sheets that have been warmed by the heated mattress pad. de. lish.ous.
    • stitching in the sunshine while in the same sofa that you see River in. yes, i enjoyed a warm nap afterwards too. (-:
    • the interesting and thoughtful mood that the act of sketching puts me into