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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, May 29, 2012

# 102 . . .

at pintangle week 21 is all about the butterfly chain stitch. this was another new stitch for me. it's worked in two rounds. the first consisting of straight stitches. i made a group of three (varying lengths) using three strands of floss. each strand was a different color. the second round is a sort of chain stitch that loops around each of the groups of straight stitches. i chose a single strand of a variegated cotton thread for that round.   i didn't find an area on any of the stockings that i wanted to work this stitch into so i practiced with it on a fabric postcard instead.

there is always some creative eye candy within the comments on TAST posts and this week is no exception.

Christine, Claudia  and Miriam have all gone whimsical with kites.  i LOVE this example of the stitch serving a purpose within clothing in a decorative way.
it turns out that one does not have to use three straight stitches for the first run of stitches as shown in Lins Arty Blobs. very cool~!!~

i have wanted to create my own carved stamps for a very long time. i've researched and read and daydreamed and i even bought all of the supplies i'd need over a year ago and yet i still hadn't actually done it.
what was my problem~!?
i was concerned about it being difficult and time consuming and yes, that i'd make some mess of a stamp that i could only use by hiding it cleverly in the farthest back part of some background work.

last week i finally did it and none of those things happened. it was extremely easy and the cutting of it didn't hurt my hands at all (i have puny hand strength). it took me about an hour and that was from my first "gee, maybe i could just unpackage the tools and read over things" thought to actually having used my very first homemade stamp.
AND it turned out absolutely fabulously~!!~

the first thing that has to be done (after the unpackaging thing) is a decision must be made in regards to what the stamp is going to be . . .
i had sketched a pear (this months challenge with The Sketchbook Challenge is fruits and vegetables).
i decided to give it a go using my small (app. 2" tall x 1" wide) pear sketch.
and then i transferred the sketch onto the pink carving material and got to work carving it.
as you can see i enjoyed stamping it out on various papers. see the image in the middle of my process collage? i turned it into this:

feel free to click on the images if you want to see them better.

i hope to be making another fruit stamp this weekend as well as all sorts of stamps eventually.

if you have been thinking about making your own stamps my advice is: jump in and TRY IT~!

i'm looking forward to my artwork being that much more original because i no longer have to rely on pre-made stamps. there are lots of beautiful ones to choose from but there is nothing like having a certain 'vision' for a project and being able to make that happen independently of what may or may not be available for purchase. 
i also really like the rough look of the hand carved stamps as opposed to manufactured ones.

now all of that having been said i'll show some of the tags that i've recently made, all of which used at least one purchased stamp.
as you can see, they can be really pretty and even very versatile. i loved the way the butterfly looked after having colored it in using my prisma colored pencils. 

leaf stamps are favorites of mine and i have several but i'm still looking forward to making a few of my own.
now i can pick up any attractive leaf that i find, carry it home, sketch it out and voila; i'll not only have another stamp to use but i'll also have the memory of all that went into it. being a creative person means that those are good memories for me~!

it may be a while before i carve anything as detailed as the butterfly or as cute as this little mouse stamp but i'm going to have  fun practicing.

i'm sure there will still be stamps that i decide to purchase. there are some awesome choices  designed by talented artists but i know that i'm going to enjoy making my own. i love that my artwork will be much more about my own personal visions.

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the 15 minute challenge this week included time spent on the the hexie quilt top and the TAST project (postcard) as well as the surprise applique project.
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recent gifts include:
  • rain
  • the sunshine afterwords
  • a tasty (homemade) pad thai
  • a hot cup of ginger tea with honey

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

15 minute challenge report ~ may 22

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
Maria Robinson

jude hill from Spirit Cloth recently requested (from those interested in participating) small stones appliqued onto squares of cloth for her Magic Feather Project.
i've been very interested in this project and have enjoyed seeing it come along.

unfortunately, i was unable to create any feathers when they were being requested so when i seen that she was needing the stones to balance things out i was happy to contribute a few.

how many is a "few" anyway?

one seemed to lead to another and another and so i just kept on stitching . . .

i may eventually stitch some more.

this busy little ant was quick to inspect my stones as i was photographing them.

jude has fascinated me for quite some time with her unusual and intuitive approach to needlework.
observation of her blog has taught me a lot but what sticks with me when i go to stitch with my own needle is that one cannot properly "listen" to any given material or project let alone one's own thoughts if there is a constant worry about what is "correct" or what may have been planned previously.  this is important if i wish my work to be original. and quite often i do.
it does not mean that the work is done without thought to integrity (the skills it takes to carry out the work itself) but it does mean that any given piece could lead you on into territory that may not have been previously imagined as the work is being carried out . . . thus one finds oneself part of a spontaneous "story" that is being told through one's needle.
i enjoy it when i can tune into the work and relax enough to do it myself and i love seeing what jude has to share in regards to this process as well as being able to see what 'stories' her and her needle are telling.

i will be blogging in the near future about where this intuitive approach/participation in needlework is now taking me.

my weeks worth of 15 minute challenge work included time spent on the stones as well as the hexie quilt top. there was also embroidery done on the TAST project/christmas stockings, the surprise applique project is coming along and i made a prayer flag (my first). it was a busy but enjoyable week for me.

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recent gifts include:
  • finding the red and white parrot tulips gracefully accepting their morning watering. bowing their heads in the early morning light.
  • rediscovering that very special color: robins egg blue, while on my morning walk around part of the garden.
  • perfect temperatures. not too cold, not too hot and breezes just when you need them most. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

TAST week 20 ~ wrapped bullion stitch

In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.

at pintangle the stitch for week 20 with TAST is the wrapped bullion stitch.
i've used this stitch before and at one time found it very difficult to do. however, with practice and a bit of relaxation i eventually got it right. now it's one of my favorite stitches. 

it's quite versatile and you may remember that i have used it previously on the stockings as rosebuds when i did the barred chain stitch practice (week 12). 

this week i chose to use it as a simple wrapped bullion on my own stocking using three strands of a variegated silky thread (not positive of content). i did play around with wrapping it in both directions onto my needle in order to determine if it made a difference in the look of the stitch and/or the way that the thread behaved as i made the stitch.
i found there to be a definite difference in both the handling of it and the look of it. if you care to look closely at the photo you may be able to see differences in the stitches as well. i did this exercise randomly as i had no plans on taking any of it out and felt that it would probably not be detected by casual observation anyway, particularly if there was no set 'pattern' or rhythm as to how it was alternated.

i added the wrapped bullion to a previously worked part of the stocking. the red thread is a fly stitch and i placed my bullions right over the tops of the catch part of the stitch. i experimented with creating longer and shorter bullions as well as more tightly and loosely wrapped ones. on some of the stitches i also randomly 'overwrapped' (in relation to the space one chooses the stitch to fit into and how many wraps of thread around the needle are done in which to fill that space.). this 'overwrapping or excess of  loops wound onto the needle causes the stitch to bump up or curve when finished and properly in place.
you can really see the curve effect very well on the rosebuds. this is due to the contrast of one of the bullions (within each individual rosebud) being a bit shorter and straighter. the longer curvier bullion is what gives them a more realistic and graceful appearance.
i have also made rosebuds using three bullions tightly grouped, with the center bullion being the smallest and straightest.
it's very effective in creating lavender flowers as well.

there are LOTS of possibilities with this one~!
for starters, there is a very well done sampler showing what can be done with this stitch here.
HomeMadeByMe has created a beautiful stitchery using the wrapped bullion.
it can also be made in various sizes and here it's been taken to some great lengths.
All Kinds Of Needlework has created Astrakhan fur (aka Karakul fur).
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 recent gifts include:
  • 'nesting' out some of the outdoor areas for the summer.
  • making and eating the first potato salad of the season. yummmmmm~!
  • seeing the hatching of some orb spiders as they almost magically disperse into the garden. they are so beneficial~!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TAST week 19 ~ half chevron stitch

i had a nice mother's day and hope that all the mommies out there had the same.
it's been a hectic last couple of weeks for me. lots to do and the head cold put me way behind on everything. in addition the sunny weather lured me outside when i should have been doing other things . . .
and the frosting on the cake was a randomly uncooperative internet connection. ggggrrrrrrrrr.
i'm 'running' as fast as i can and counting on your understanding.
i've done another combined post in an effort to catch some things back up.
it may be that i need to do this more often during the busy months of summer.

at pintangle the stitch for week 19 with TAST was the half chevron stitch. this is yet another new stitch for me. i found it simple to work and full of possibility. unfortunately i just didn't have the time to explore as far into those possibilities as i would have liked.

i did enjoy working it in it's simplest form over the bit of lace that i applied to the wonderful daughter's stocking. i adjusted it's angles to match up nicely with the angles within the lace and added some red glass diamond shaped beads over part of the stitch which also mimics those angles but does sort of hide part of the stitch.
i definitely am looking forward to coming back to this area and adding future TAST stitches to it as the half chevron stitch has created a lovely base for further embellishment.

for a very nice sampler of what the stitch looks like in it's basic form as well as used in many variations visit here and for a variety of interpretations you should definitely see this.
a purple thistle was beautifully created using this stitch here.
and it was even used quite successfully within a lettering format.

recently i received a package in the mail all the way from France~!
it came from Isabella and Pauline of  Pierres, papiers, ciseaux
i enjoy visiting their blog each week to see what this mother and daughter team are doing creatively with the TAST stitches. 
Isabella is extremely knowledgeable  in regards to embroidery and is in the process of recreating an historical tapestry that she periodically shares. in addition she presents (weekly) a gorgeous gem of a sample using the TAST stitch of the week. a very creative mind that i love to watch at work.
Pauline is her daughter. she is a young beginner just learning to do these stitches. i enjoy seeing her samples too and admire how hard she works at each one every week. embroidery is a skill and an art. the needle can feel quite foreign in a small hand newly starting out. Pauline tackles each stitch and always has lovely results that remind me of when i was beginning to learn embroidery except that she is learning a large group of stitches with a disciplined and creative approach. i, on the other hand, learned only the basic stitches and was not nearly as disciplined about it. she is going to be a master embroiderer (just like her mother) with time and practice. i feel blessed to get to see a part of that process.

in addition to getting the pleasure of observing their skills i have received this envelope stuffed full of wonderful surprises. a beautiful needlework piece made by Isabella as well as a big assortment of fun ribbons, sequins, silver charms, beads, shells and even a large piece of lovely sand colored linen. all topped off with the cutest little seaside themed tag made by Pauline. i feel lucky to have such talented and generous blogging friends.
thank you Isabella and Pauline. i will treasure your sweet and creative art. they now have a place of honor in my art studio. every time i see the stitched heart ornament and the tag i think of how lucky i am to know both of you~!!~

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my brief 15 minute challenge report includes work done on the christmas stockings/TAST as well as quite a bit of applique work on a project that i can't really talk about yet.
i did enjoy my daily 15 minutes of sewing time, as well as some extra time on a couple of days. 
mission accomplished.
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recent gifts include:
  • generous (surprise) packages from distant countries ~!!~
  • knowing so many other talented bloggers as well as enjoying the daily inspiration that they have to offer
  • time spent playing board games with my wonderful daughter
  • gorgeous spring tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths growing in my garden

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the give-away winner is . . .

Lori of Humble Quilts.

Lori commented: "Last month's theme was water or water drops or dew...something along that line. April showers bring May flowers:)"

. . .  and she nailed it~!!~last month's theme was exactly that.

thank you Lori. would you please e-mail me with your mailing information and i'll get your goodies on their way.


i will not be behaving quite so predictably for the next challenge.
have you noticed that i always manage to work flowers into my featured photo work?
am i 'stuck in a rut' or am i just developing my own personal style . . . ? hhhmmmmm
either way, things are moving along in a slightly different direction for may. the last couple of shots haven't included the floral element that i love so much. let's see what happens . . .

besides the lack of all things floral i have an additional challenge that i'm attempting.  will you consider playing along again with your guesses and suggestions (if you have them) and join me for another note card give-away at the end of may?
i hope so~!

recent gifts include:
  • the buds/blossoms not getting hit by a hard frost 
  • watching (as well as listening to) the bumblebees at their business in the flowering fruit tree
  • the early arrival of the hummingbirds
  • the promise of my wonderful daughter coming home for mother's day (joy)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TAST week 18 ~ crossed buttonhole stitch / 15 minute challenge

once again i am combining posts.
i have a bad cold so efficiency seemed wise this week.

over at pintangle the stitch for week 18 with TAST is the crossed buttonhole stitch. i've never worked this stitch before and really had a difficult time getting excited about it.

so i did some warm up exercises aka 'productive procrastination' and worked a wheatear stitch (week 17) into the stocking. i used a hand dyed single strand cotton thread (Oliver Twists). a fabulous thread to work with and i did the expanded version of the wheatear that i practiced onto a postcard last week. i still like the loose organic flow of  it when worked that way.

next came some french knots onto the same stocking (wonderful daughter's). i used an italian silk thread (24 wt) in a pretty gold color and placed one knot into the center of  each grouping of some previously worked  detached chain stitches.
the french knot is another stitch that i had not gotten into the stockings yet although i felt like i did get the hang of them nicely while using it to fill a bumblebee during week 16's practice.

finally i worked some crossed buttonhole stitches into the stocking. i worked them in the same gold silk thread and i didn't like the way things looked at all. i thought seriously about removing them but in an attempt to salvage things decided to weave a small white boucle thread through the 'base' part of the stitch instead . . .
i still wasn't happy with the look of things but decided to step away from the project and let things 'process' a bit.
when i picked the work back up again i decided to stitch a tiny horizontal catch stitch across the middle of the crossed lines of the crossed buttonhole. i used a white perle cotton (12) thread for this.
i then added small french knots and accompanying small vertical stitches evenly 'under' the crossed buttonhole with the same thread.

in the end i thought that the seam treatment did have a whimsical/naive sort of look to it that i liked. 

there were others from the TAST group who were far more imaginative than i was though:
don't miss these impressionistic feathers from exotic birds.
the crossed buttonhole can make a great fin filling on fish.
and Masha once again wows with a beautiful border created from this stitch.
and here you will find some exotic patterning on a snake~!


my brief 15 minute challenge report includes work done on the christmas stockings/TAST as well as the hexie top. i've also been doing a bit of applique work on a project that i can't really talk about yet.
i did manage to get my sewing time every day last week.

recent gifts include:
  • watching the goldfish swim happily about. they love it when the sun shines and will swim closer to the top of the water in order to 'sunbathe'
  • a cleaned up/reorganized pantry with a follow up shopping trip to fill in where needed
  • the smell of our freshly mowed lawn from the first mow of the season

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TAST week 17 ~ wheatear stitch, 15 minute challenge and a give-away~!!~

i have two clematis plants. one of them is white, stays rather small and blooms fairly early in the summer season and the other one is a deep purple color, grows to great lengths and blooms all summer long. i have no idea what either one of them is called. possibly some research is in order . . .
this is a shot of the white one. the buds and new growth have begun to form on the viney stems of last years old growth.
last year it bloomed profusely for it's short time and i realized that my habit of cutting the plant back every fall (which hadn't gotten done as usual) wasn't a good idea as i was stunting it's growth/bloom possibilities every time that i did it.
so now i know; no more fall pruning of this white clematis.
i would like to add some more clematis to the garden. maybe this summer . . .

this post is a combination TAST, 15 minute challenge and giveaway.

i once again met my own personal goals within a challenge framework. so i'm doing a quick dance of joy as well as celebrating by offering three of my photo note cards (of my choice) as well as a few extra surprise goodies. if you are interested in winning i would like you to leave a comment on this post telling me what you think my theme/challenge for april was. you don't have to get it right, you just have to take a guess within your comment. if you happen to have an idea for a future theme, feel free to share that as well.
i'll  draw a name/winner on May 10th. 
the cards were made by a company called snapfish. i think they're pretty nice cards.

over at sharon b's pintangle the stitch for week 17 with TAST is the wheatear stitch. i don't recall ever working this stitch before so i was interested in giving it a go and seeing what it would do. as i was thinking about how to approach the stitch (in relation to my christmas stockings) i happened to visit this blog. Masha was also new to the stitch but she had very nice examples of her experimental work. she commented that the stitch reminded her of a combination of seaweed and fir branches and as i read this i had a creative aha moment and decided that i would like to explore that idea.

so i sketched a bit . . .

after a while i decided that it was worth getting out a needle and thread to try to see what i could do with that.

i found a piece of scrap muslin and not wanting to 'waste' my time and effort i backed it with a thin postcard sized piece of batting with the intention of finishing whatever might happen as a usable piece of mail art.

the orange running stitch that you see is basting so that the muslin didn't wiggle off of the batting. you can see a bit of batting in the upper left corner because the muslin didn't entirely cover the batting (a space left open for future fabric/embellishment on the piece). 
 in my effort to make the stitches look continuous (like a 'branch') i failed to pay attention to how it should be formed. it's actually considered a detached or stand alone stitch but if one 'stacks' the wheatear stitch it can be made to look like a continuous form.
i was not quite completing the stitch before heading into the next stitch. it wasn't the look i wanted and it wasn't the correct way to do the stitch.
the stitch is formed first by making a fly stitch and then a chain stitch is formed and used as the catch portion of the fly stitch with the stitch being completed by a second catch stitch at the base of the chain stitch.
in the shot at left i have shown a single wheatear stitch but i have elongated my last catch stitch.
this elongated version was great for the look i wanted. it helped create a looser looking series of stitches when one was stitched directly below/behind the next.
it was looking more and more like a fir branch all the time . . .  i learned that i could also lengthen out the arms of the fly part of the stitch and give things an even looser, more organic type of feel. the less i tried to make 'perfect' stitches the more organic it tended to look. i was liking it~! so i kept on stitching.

eventually i added some fabric over that corner of batting that was initially left uncovered.
and stitched some more . . .

so now i have a very well started postcard and absolutely nothing on the christmas stockings (for the second week in a row).

i'm not even sure that it looks like fir branches at this point . . .
maybe a pine cone would help . . .

there are some wonderful examples of what can be done with this stitch. Maureen's work is beautiful and creative.  Claudia did a floral arrangement and a sea themed piece that is gorgeous.  All Kinds of Needlework did some whimsical windsocks with the wheatear. Lisa has created a mandala like work that turned out nicely too.
if you're interested in embroidery there is some real eye candy as well as good instruction within these links.

so now it's on to Kate's at Life in Pieces for the 15 minute challenge . . .
no detailed report card for me as i feel that i'm boring my readers to tears with that. i'll just sum it up by saying that i managed to get my challenge done on 6 out of the 7 days. on tuesday i completely forgot. i stayed up quite late and as i was falling asleep and going through my day in my head i suddenly had an 'oh sh@#' moment and knew that there was nothing to be done about it as it was already past midnight. oh well. no A+ for me this week.
i did accomplish some work on the hexie path basting and actually sewed a flower and path unit onto the growing top. and i spent quite a lot of time on the TAST/wheatear stitch.
all in all a decent enough week.
if you're needing a little encouragement to get your sewing time in on a daily basis this is a great challenge to take on.

recent gifts include:
  • hearing from my daughter frequently
  • big bunches of bright yellow daffodils
  • daily walks with my wonderful husband and the dogs