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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, November 20, 2012

TAST/checkered or magic chain stitch ~ Photo Art Friday ~ 15 minute challenge ~

this week's optional challenge at Photo Art Friday was to experiment with using Bonnie's  "Signed & Sealed" texture.
Bonnie's texture/layer: "Signed & Sealed"

i used an archived photo of my orchid plant in bloom and came up with the above image.
i did find this texture a bit difficult to work with but it was good for me to experiment with something more challenging. stretching those digital wings is exactly how i will learn to do more with them. thank you Bonnie.

Sharon of Pintangle has presented the checkered or magic chain stitch for the TAST challenge.
this variation of the chain stitch changes color as you stitch it.
it was great fun. i did some playing around with it on my own christmas stocking using a white pearl cotton (size 12) and a hand dyed variegated cotton thread of the same size. both are threaded into the needle together but only used one strand at a time.
i also played around with 'the rythym' of the white and green placement within this curvy line of stitching.
what i really wanted to do was make a candy cane with it but i didn't feel like i would get the best color contrasts since the stocking's base is a piece of a red and white quilt. no matter where i placed the candy cane one of the colors was going to blend into the background.

so i decided to play around some more and ended up creating this candy cane/sled runner onto another work in progress. i used heavier cotton threads for this attempt and used a dark red variegated with the white. i continued to use the red thread to create the rest of the sled which worked out beautifully with the thread changing color just when i needed it to.
i thought that using the lighter weight thread was a bit easier but it wasn't too much of a challenge with the heavier thread either.

i think i'm getting this 15 minute practice thing down now and i happily have seven more days of success to report. this challenge is hosted by Kate at Life In Pieces. i managed to get the TAST practice onto a stocking this week :-)  as well as another project and i'm in the process of mending/darning socks. i suppose it's not commonly done but i have a few pairs of wool socks that i like to wear around the house in winter and they are well made really good (and a bit pricey to replace) socks so i'm mending them rather than purchasing new ones. it's time consuming but i actually really really like to do this which is good because i have several pairs yet to do.
i don't have a darning egg so i'm improvising with one using an inexpensive plastic easter egg.  it actually works quite well.
i have decided to keep it fun and am using wool blend threads that do not match the sock's colors. i will use same colored threads on each pair but change the colors for other pairs as i do them.
i really don't know what i'm doing and am not sure this looks too 'professional' but apparently, i'm doing a good enough job at it, as i'm now being asked to darn other socks~!
i didn't have the perfect thread colors but there isn't a hole there anymore~!

recent gifts include:
  • finding out that i won a beautiful little quilt from Maureen at Pursuit of Quilts.
  • being able to darn my own comfy/pj socks~not only does it feel good to do it but it's very satisfying to be wearing one's own stitchery even if only on the heel of a sock. 
  • warm soup and stew dinners in front of the t.v. and a snuggle with the wonderful husband after for 'dessert'
  • anticipating my family all together over the thanksgiving holiday . . . just a couple more days . . .

by the way, i'm wishing all of you who celebrate thanksgiving a warm, safe and full of love kind of holiday. if you don't traditionally celebrate this holiday i'm inviting you to make it a personl day of thanks and wishing you the same.

Friday, November 16, 2012

TAST/open base needlewoven picot stitch ~ the fifteen minute challenge ~ Photo Art Friday

 this week's optional theme at Photo Art Friday is to experiment with a 'digitally-edited still life'.

i found this still life within my archives. it is one that i have always liked as it's not a picture of any 'thing' it's a photo of shadows and reflections of a fork resting on a glass bowl on my kitchen table. i was making bread one morning and fell in love with how it looked.
i decided to convert it into black and white as it was mainly shadows and reflections. i then added an additional layer/shot of a manuscript that i took, converted to black and white and used as a texture layer. i cannot remember all of the percentages of opacity, etc but when i liked the way that it looked i merged it all together for a new digitally edited still life image.
what do you think? do you like the original or the digitally altered version better? can you tell me why you like one more than the other?


i was reading a post this morning by Kathie at Inspired By Antique Quilts and was given a dose of holiday reality when i read that there are only 39 days until christmas. i knew it was coming and i felt the time whizzing by but the number just totally caught me off guard.
i have a plan to keep the holidays simple. over the years we've worked at enjoying the importance of time with family and friends as we reduce the frenzied shopping hours and pare down the decorating chores. this year my wonderful daughter has requested that she not be given any gifts at all as she just wants to experiment with enjoying the holiday for other reasons. i've requested (and been granted) the compromise of only filling stockings. after all i've been working on those crazy quilted gems all year long~!~
so i shouldn't be feeling too pressured right~!?~
those stockings are coming along beautifully but they aren't finished and i'm doubting that they will be finished in time. i've worked on them faithfully, carefully placing stitches as they have been presented by Sharon of Pintangle with the TAST challenge. in the beginning, there were lots of seams and spaces to work with and as the year has progressed many of those spaces were filled. all good, except that the choices of where to place the given stitches became more limited as time went on. if the stitch didn't  seem to 'fit' my vision within one of the stockings i would work it into something else rather than compromise the stocking. so now, i'm looking at not quite finished needlework on each stocking . . .  should i just push forward and risk not being happy with the results? this alternative doesn't seem comfortable to me which leaves me with the distinct possibility of not reaching my deadline.
i'll be letting myself down as well as my family and others who have been watching them come along, including my blog readers (who have been anxiously waiting to see the finished pieces).
so i find that i must remind myself to breathe and continue moving forward without panic. so my self mantra is: they'll be ready when they're ready and they will be beautiful when finished.
my apologies to all of those i may have disappointed if i don't complete them when expected.

i have to once again report that the TAST stitch went onto a postcard in progress. i have added the stitch to the top of a very small crocheted doily. i'm only showing this much of it because i want it to remain a surprise until it is received . . .

sharon presented a stitch that is a variation on the stitch done the previous week and is called an open base needlewoven picot. it was time consuming but not quite as fiddly due to the open base of the stitch. this made it easier to weave. i also got a really good tip from Queeniepatch of Queenie's Needlework on using a small piece of paper under the 'warp' threads/stitches so that the needle tip moved more freely to do the weaving. this helped enormously~! thanks Queeniepatch.

i have seven more days of success to report for the 15 minute challenge hosted by Kate at Life In Pieces.  my work this week included the TAST stitch practice, work on a postcard, some experimental/creative mending, and one more christmas ornament for my guild's decorated christmas tree donation. 

be sure to hop over to see what everyone else is doing with this challenge.

recent gifts include:
  • in the U.S. we recently celebrated veteran's day. i am so repulsed by some of the violence and hate that i hear and see in the news and i wish that i lived in a world where it didn't exist. the reality/fact is i don't. i am a pacifist in the extreme but there are many men and women who were and are willing and able to actually fight for our right to certain freedoms (that i very much enjoy). i would like to acknowledge them with a sincere thank you for all that they have given in doing so: sometimes their very lives, their family life is interrupted, their physical and mental health is often forever changed, and the daily issues that they face are for the most part incomprehensible to me. so, yes, i have extremely ambivalant feelings on this issue but what i do know is that this country would not be the same without them and i am grateful.
  • knowing that my wonderful daughter (and friend) are coming for a few days to help celebrate the thanksgiving holiday
  • enough energy to lightly decorate the house for the upcoming holiday season
  • a morning cup of hot cocoa
  • a totally unexpected and lengthy visit from a friend who was passing through. i hardly ever get to see her and although there was some terribly heart breaking news to share we are both grateful for our long time bond of friendship.
  • the gift of laughter: hearing others laugh and being able to laugh myself is such a joy. some advice for a happy heart: really listen to those laughs. if you do, you will be unable to hold back a smile yourself.
  • the ability to help in some small way with the storm sandy relief efforts. i was able to share a package of fabrics and batting with Erin of My Patchwork Life who has organized many of us quilter's into one cohesive body. maybe you can help too? Erin is clearly one of those earth angels that we all so desperately need in our lives. THANK YOU ERIN~! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TAST/closed base needlewoven picot stitch ~ the fifteen minute challenge ~ Photo Art Friday ~

i have been really busy getting the last of the tomato crop into jars. we had a fabulously long growing season this year and as i was picking the last of the crop i didn't actually notice this particular heart shaped tomato. it was only as i was in the kitchen prepping them for canning that i really looked at it and discovered what i had.
i hope that it brings you the same kind of smile that it brought me~!

i thought that it worked for this week's optional prompt at Photo Art Friday which was to "showcase an image that features distinct line(s)".

i straightened and cropped this photo but otherwise it is as it was from the camera. no textures, layers or other additions.

are you all enjoying my recent involvement with Pixel Dust Photo Art?
i have had a good time stretching myself around whatever Bonnie's weekly prompt might be and feel that it is good for me both creatively and photographically.
it's also a big treat to get feedback from Bonnie and the other participants!

on Pin Tangle last week the TAST stitch was the closed base needlewoven picot or needlewoven picot leaf stitch.
Sharon suggested that they could be used for leaves or free standing flower petals. as i was working my first practice stitches i had the thought that they might also make really good feathers. maybe even turkey feathers . . . but, alas, i did not have the time to go down that road. i will keep it in mind for future projects though.
this all brought to mind the days when i was little and made those hand print turkeys every thanksgiving holiday . . . all the fingers representing a large turkey tail full of feathers and the thumb a turkey head and neck. and then came the years when my daughter did the same . . .

anyway, back to stitching, i chose to use this stitch on the wonderful husband's stocking and in two different places. first i placed a few larger closed base needlewoven picot stitches along a previously worked area where i thought that they might add design and textural interest. i used a variegated blue pearl cotton (size 8) and when i was finished with them i chose to gently tack the top end of them down. i brought them in just slightly and this created a bit of an arc in them which i like.

secondly i placed a few within the inverted v formation on my knotted buttonhole stitch (week 39). i chose a solid medium green pearl cotton (size 8) and made them smaller in hopes that they might resemble small green leaves. when stitched these 'leaves' are actually free standing and only attached to the surface of the work at the base of the stitch. kind of a cool feature, i think.

i found this stitch to be interesting but a bit on the fussy side. the weaving takes quite a bit of time and unfortunately points out more than ever that i need to get myself to the eye doctor for a strong prescription. even with a blunt needle and a strong light i was catching the other threads more often than i would have liked.

for this week's 15 minute challenge hosted by Kate at Life In Pieces  i was able to get in all 7 days once again. i think over the course of the past year i have achieved my goal of making this a priority and a habit within my life. if you think you need a 'kick in the pants' from Kate in order to do the same, i highly recommend this challenge. it's my understanding that she's working on a few changes for the upcoming year to keep things fresh and interesting.
my work this week included the TAST stitch practice, work on the christmas stockings, a label for the contemporary/modern piece, and creating some christmas ornaments for my guild's decorated christmas tree donation.
we have begun the tradition of presenting an already decorated christmas tree to our local resource/community center's annual auction event.
the proceeds go to the center for some of their operating costs.
each guild member is asked to bring decorations for the tree that we will donate. i like to make these little mittens every year. so far i have these two completed but i hope to make more in the upcoming week.

the one on the left is made from some paper fabric that i had in my stash.
the one on the right is made from my own hand dyed fabrics sewn around a fussily cut christmas print fabric. i embroidered some details and seams and crocheted a hanging loop. the snowman on the paper fabric has been outlined with a pen stitch detail. if you would like to see the details of any of my photos within my blog posts you can click on them for a larger view and even click on the larger view for an extra large view.

recent gifts include:
  • a few more sunny and mostly warm days
  • an appreciation for lights that come on at the touch of a switch and hot running water whenever i need/want it
  • seeing the goldfish even though the pond is icing up a little bit on most mornings.
  • working the dogs and getting good results