Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wedding Bells

First things, first. I finished the daisy that I showed you last week. At least the cross stitch part. Now I just have to build this into something like a pillow, a wall quilt, or . . .something.

I think I mentioned, that this pattern, found in a recent cross stitch periodical, had lots of similar white and green threads with very few large patches of color.

So, the stitching went slowly, and it was challenging for a smallish piece.  I am happy with it, and I'm glad to move it on to it's next step.



With the daisy done, I switched gears back to some blackwork blocks, possibly for another biscornu, or maybe I'll work these into a quilted project. Not sure. These are both the same pattern, one dramatic white on dark blue and the other, I'm just starting, with variegated thread on white canvas. Not sure where this is going yet, we'll see.



And this little project is yet another cross stitch kit. (I think I'm going through a cross stitch phase!)

I spotted this somewhere online and purchased the kit from Little Beach Hut. It's called Hogs and Kisses, and it's two little hedge hogs kissing. My husband's second cousin is getting married this weekend and she has a hedge hog named Pickles.



When I saw the kit I thought it's a perfect little add on gift for her and her new husband, only problem is Little Beach Hut is in England, I'm not. And the wedding is this Saturday. The kit arrived two days ago (isn't this just adorable packaging!) and I almost immediately started loading up the needle. I'm pretty sure this won't get done in time, but it's nice to get some gifts after the wedding . . . right?



The real gift for the couple is this lap-sized quilt made from the Chunky Lap Quilt pattern. I made this one years ago, but it has never been used. The bride-to-be likes orange, and this has some nice soft peachy-orange prints and flowers. I hope she likes it.



A closer look at the quilting reveals an all-over quilting pattern that I did by machine. It's a modified bishops fan pattern with alternating flower-petal shaped fans at varying intervals. The chunky quilt also features a extra wide binding and lost of space for all-over quilting.

I hope they like their gifts, even if one is a little late!

Ah well.



The Chunky Lap Quilt is available from the Hummingbird Highway. It has been recently been added as a pdf instant download pattern, and it's only $4! The pattern includes two versions - one that uses 8 half yard cuts, and one that uses 16 fat quarters - essentially the same pattern - just different types of fabric cuts.

It's great if you're looking to chunk up your stash and put it into something useful - like a wedding quilt - in a hurry!

Happy Stitching,
Joan

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What a Mess!

I think I might have mentioned that I've got some vacation travel coming up here pretty soon. And yesterday, amidst all the planning to make things run smoothly while I'm away, I looked up at my sewing table and discovered a bit of unruly chaos going on there.

In one corner, I have a pile of completed and in-progress FLOCK blocks. The stack of blocks at the top are all done - the blocks are done anyway - they are waiting to become a project. The stack (shown in part) to the right need their applique shapes secured and sewn, and the stack (shown in part) on the left are yet to be started. Most of them anyway.


Smack in the middle of my work table: this stack of partially cut fat quarters and scraps. I unearthed this 'ancient' fat quarter pack whilst tidying up my stash a while back. These aren't my color or style, but they ARE perfect for someone I know! This one is going to be a Christmas gift - and it might even make it for this coming Christmas!



I've been working on this runner project a little at a time (and during some away time at my sister's camp last weekend). The pattern is available online from AQS. It's Debbie Wendt's Journey to Fall Paducah.

The pattern is free, there are 36 blocks to download. I'm not sure how long the pattern will be available, so grab it now, block-by-block, if you're interested.



However, I'm only making four blocks for a table runner, I'm changing up the corners because I detest paper piecing, and the corners from the pattern really work with the big quilt, not so much the table runner. Also I'm switching out the black background for scrappy light colors to coordinate with that aforementioned fat quarter group parked in the middle of the work table.

I think there are a few other projects under this top project layer. I'm afraid to look, so we'll just leave that be. I can only handle so much chaos at once. And you simply don't want to see what my office desk looks like!



Speaking of chaos, I think I showed you my hand stitching/TV project last time. The daisy cross stitch pattern is from a recent cross stitch periodical. To be perfectly honest, I'll be glad when this one's done. It's pretty but the stitches involve lots of REALLY similar but different whites and greens, with a lot of annoying counted space in between each stitch. I've done a lot of backwards stitching on this one when I discover that my counting skills have temporarily lapsed. I've also done a lot of nobody-will-ever-notice-if-I-just-substitute-this-thread-for-it's-neighboring-nearly-identical-color-thread' fudges.

Ugh! What was I thinking when I picked this one up?


(Below: last time; below that: now.)




I'm anxious to get back to my excessively-fussy-but-satisfyingly-predictable blackwork biscornu - I've discovered that you simply can't have enough of those!

Have a wonderful long weekend! Be safe! And find some time to stitch!

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Finish, Finish, Start!

With some travel/vacation time coming up in September, I've been nose-to-the-grindstone attempting to get a little bit ahead on the next few patterns and designs for The FLOCK. Pretty secret - but VERY cool - stuff coming. In the meantime, I've been taking advantage of quiet sewing time to finish up a few things.

. . .like that contemporary, neon-threaded biscornu I have been working on recently.

I took advantage of some evening sewing time to sew the two blackwork squares together, stuffed with wool batting scraps.

It's different! And fun!  . . . I like!



Couple weeks ago, I showed some projects I was finishing up during a little personal sewing retreat.

This cross stitch image of Mount Vernon was just about done, at that point. Now, it's a couple steps further along.

Layered and quilted. The binding it attached and just needs to be secured to the back by hand.



I added two small sleeves on the back for hanging. I'm not sure where this will go, but I'd like to put a small wooden dowel through the finished sleeves, then hang it from a single nail in the middle of the piece.



As long as I was making such good progress finishing things, I decided to treat myself to a new cross stitch project. This one is an image of a single daisy from a recent cross stitch periodical.

Who knew that there were so many different variations of white? I have stitched maybe 4 or 5 different whites so far. They all look pretty close to me!



As the summer winds down, I hope you are finding some time to let your heart sing with something pretty to stitch!

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Moutain Air

This past weekend, Dave and I toodled our way to Blue Mountain Lake and the Minnowbrook Conference Center. This is a mountain retreat house, formerly an Adirondack Great Camp, owned by Syracuse University, my alma mater.

Each year, over the first weekend in August, Minnowbrook hosts an alumni event featuring a guest speaker, excellent networking and conversation, great food and accommodations, and a wonderful back-to-nature atmosphere.

This year, the lake was quiet to start the weekend. 



Pretty flowers in a hanging pot.


 Finding yourself up the river without a paddle? . . . I know where the paddles are!


 Free time means stitching time, in a shady spot on the dock.



The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable. Seemingly out of nowhere, a line of storms interrupted our Saturday afternoon free time. I opted to stay under cover by the lake and watched the rain create spiky shapes in the formerly placid water. Dave opted to take a hike.

Yep, he got wet. REALLY wet!





By Sunday morning, Blue Mountain Lake was back to a glass-like, serene surface.



Many thanks to the event organizers, and to our speaker, Shiu Kai Chin, Professor of Electrical Engineering at SU, who spoke about Cyper Security (giving new meaning to those numerous passwords we all struggle to keep organized?) during our 'educational' sessions.

Believe it or not, the topic and the interactive conversations were timely, thought-provoking, and fascinating!




Summer is flying by. Make the time to stitch and think in a quiet peaceful spot.

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Nothin' Much

This week, I've been pretty busy behind the scenes with patterns and paperwork. Trying to get a little ahead while it's quiet. 


I was hoping to get back to those projects I started last week during the sewing weekend at my friend's camp. Even though things are happening, there really is 'nothin' much' going on in the studio, so this post will be short and sweet.

I actually did make some really good progress on the pillows. (Yes, there are now THREE in progress!)

One for each niece who will be visiting in October, and one for a the cover photo on a bonus pattern I'm preparing to go along with the next shipment of The FLOCK.

I'm done with the piecing, now, I'm quilting the tops.



These guys should be all done in a couple days. The pattern will take a few more days to finalize, then it'll be on to the next project.

I spent a little time on the front porch chill-axing with some stitching this past weekend.

This contemporary-ish blackwork piece from a pattern by Threaded Sheep will become another biscornu, my latest stitchy obsession. 



This one will be quite different from the others I've been making. It's quite non-traditional, especially with those neon threads! We'll see if it 'works!'

When the pillows are done, I hope to get back to those projects I started last weekend. If not, they'll keep. With more of the summer behind us than ahead of us, I'm planning to enjoy what's left of the warm temperatures, short-sleeved shirts, and flip-flops. The cooler, longer stitchy days of autumn will be upon us soon enough.

I intend to savor every minute of summer while lasts. I hope that's your plan, too!

Enjoy, and  . . .

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Alphabets and Houses

On Saturday, I completed a few errands, then packed up my sewing stuff and headed to Panther Lake (just about 40 minutes from my home) to my friend's camp. Gail and I make this an annual thing each summer. She has a summer home there and sets up the garage with tables. Add sewing machines, fabric, all the quilting gadgets you can stuff into a carrying case, and quite a few caffeinated beverages, and let the projects 'happen.'

For this trip, I didn't plan too much ahead. No patterns. Just a bunch of fabrics, and a notepad to do some math. 

I pulled this fat quarter pack, that also included an alphabet panel, out of my stash and threw it into my weekend project bag. The illustrations are so clever, and it was time for this to come out of the stash and turn into something.


Bit by bit, I assembled the blocks, sashing, and borders. The challenge was staying within the limits of the fabric quantities I had. Sometimes fat quarters can be challenging that way!

Aaaand, here is the result!

The panel squares cut nicely into 6-1/2" squares, but I had to be really careful with the fabric limitations for the rest of the elements.

A lot of math happened, before any cutting started! I'm pretty pleased with the result, now it just needs quilting!



And yes, those are teeny quarter inch (finished) borders around each block. I did them with the help of the 1/4-3/8" BlocLoc log cabin tool. I love those rulers! Makes nearly impossible piecing easy. The cornerstones were little tiny stitch and flip snowball units.



I guess 'small' was the name of the game for me. I brought along a couple of finished, but not framed yet, cross stitch pieces. Seems appropriate to have little itty bitty cross stitch blocks to frame a cross stitch piece, right? So this happened:




Yep, they're 2" square. (I'm okay, really!)

Here is the result. The cross stitch was a kit I purchased years ago when visiting Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. I went to this historic site while visiting a guild in the DC area.

I finally got around to stitching the piece earlier this year and now it's ready to be quilted, bound, and placed in the front hallway. I think it's quite fun!

It's only about 8x12" in total.



When adding a cross stitch piece to a fabric frame, the aida cloth (or linen) in the seam may fray over time.

To avoid this, I did a regular 1/4" seam to secure the aida and quilting cotton, then added a zigzag stitch along the fabric/aida raw edge on each of the four sides of the cross-stitch edges.



When I sandwich for quilting, I may add a piece of muslin between the cross stitch layer and the batting to keep the batting from migrating through the loose weave cloth over time.  'Course, this isn't a high-use quilt, and as a wall-hanging it may never be washed, but it's just one of those things  . . . why not take the extra step!


This piece challenged me. It's a cross-stitch of The Abbey in Cape May, New Jersey, a vacation destination for Dave and me a few years ago.

I really wanted to add some piecing to this border, but every idea seemed to compete with the delicate stitching. In the end, I opted for three simple borders.



The alphabet panel group had some smaller letters included in a couple of the fat quarters. My niece, her husband, and her two adorable toddler-aged daughters are planning a visit later this year. My two grand-nieces are going to get a little something from Aunt Joan - shh-hh, don't tell! Bird blocks from The FLOCK built into a pillow (one for each niece!) with names added to the scrappy border as a bonus!



While I was punching numbers into a calculator and fussy sewing, Gail pulled out the big stuff and added borders to nearly-finished projects, and clipped along on several other pieced blocks . . .



And being, in the woods, an unexpected visitor can show up from time to time to see what all the fuss is about.

This tiny frog (yes, that's a regular electrical plug so you can see just how small this little critter is!) wanted to play with all the small fabric pieces too!



Now, I just need to quilt and finish each project. Nearly done!


Many thanks to Gail for sharing her space with me for a very fun and productive weekend.

How about you? Do you have any summer sewing getaways planned?

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I Little Help from My Friends

(That would be you!)

As I mentioned last week, in late June, I vended at Vermont Quilt Festival. My booth was concentrated on two projects: Your Nest™ Organizers and The FLOCK.

Your Nest Organizers


Maybe you know this already, Your Nest Organizers are manufactured and warehoused in New York State - just down the thruway a bit from me. I don't keep inventory here in my home office.

So, when I drove from Syracuse to Vermont for the show, I stopped by the warehouse and picked up TONS of inventory to have available in my booth.



All well and good, right?

However, at the end of the show, I still had a few left, but only the FLAMINGO and HUMMINGBIRD colors. All the rest that I took with me were sold out! 

They came home with  me in a box. The other day, when I was running some errands, I was thinking about these PINK and GREEN cuties.



I thought: I should send those back to the warehouse. Then the next thought that popped into my head was that I'd rather send them to YOU!

So-o-o-o. It's time for a special offer.

Would you like to have a Flamingo or Hummingbird color YOUR NEST ORGANIZER with FREE SHIPPING? From now until Monday at midnight, I'm making them available from Hummingbird Highway (using THIS LINK) with FREE SHIPPING.

HOWEVER, you hafta use the link below (or the one in the paragraph directly above), or shipping fees will be added to your cart. And the shipping deal is ONLY on the FLAMINGO and HUMMINGBIRD colors ('cause that's what's sitting in my basement waiting for a new home!).

https://hummingbird-highway.com/patterns-and-notions/your-nest-organizer-special/


This special ends on Monday July 23rd at Midnight (East coast time)

(Domestic US delivery only.)

Stay cool and . . .

Happy stitching!
Joan