Thursday, February 6, 2020

Something New!

No, I'm not changing my marital status! 

However, I am making a big change in how and where this blog will now be accessible.

While archived content will continue to be accessible here on this page, all new posts will be posted on the "Winging It" blog attached to my website. 

You can access it HERE.

Regretfully, I do not have an RSS feed set up at the new blog location. If you have been receiving notifications of these posts via RSS, I invite you to join the Hummingbird Highway Good Migrations newsletter list - you can sign up at the top of the sidebar right here on this page. Or visit the site each week for new content. It's free, and delivered by email.

See ya on the 'Highway!'

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Feeling In Between

With as many projects I have started, I am a finisher by nature and if I'm progressing along on things and not finishing one or two from time to time, I can feel a bit out of sorts!

All I have to do is look around my sewing space(s) and I can see why I feel so 'in between' lately.

For starters, there's the Hawaii Cruise project. It's a secret so I can't show you much more than this. It's going to be really pretty project, but I am still waiting for delivery on some of the fabrics I need to finish it. And so I wait.

If you're coming on the trip, are you getting excited to get your hands on these lovelies!?

While I wait for that fabric to arrive, there is certainly plenty to do!

The stitched alphabet blocks I started a year ago are all done and trimmed to size. They feature my Stitchery Crossover technique.

I have decided on a speckled blue print for the sashing - the speckles will nicely pick up the block colors. I'll use scraps from the blocks to make a pieced border.

It's good to have a plan, now I just have to execute it!

This lovely heart stitchery from a recent Cross Stitcher Magazine, is done. I think it's going to become a pillow.

The fabrics are selected, cut and ready for the next steps.

I have a plan (check!)

I need to execute it! (no check yet!)

If you've been following along for a while, you know I've been trying my hand at a bunch of stitchery stuff.

This is my first attempt at using a slate frame instead of hoops to hold the stitching fabric. I use the term 'first' very loosely. This may actually have been my third or fourth attempt to get the fabric on the frame just right and taught enough to stitch. I'm certain there is a trick (or two) I'm missing.

The fabric preparation was quite an adventure. One I'm not sure yet that I would recommend with enthusiasm. It was a bit of a wrestling match that I'm not sure I won!

The project is going to be a stitch sampler which will, eventually, be turned into a notions holder. I think. Clear as mud, right? It's a guild thing, a little bit of a mystery at this stage.

Back at the sewing machine, the four-patch pin cushions just keep coming. I think I have fabrics cut (from ages ago) for about a half-dozen more.

The partially completed puffs are stacked in a sewing basket waiting for surface embroidery and beading to cute-ify them.

One at a time. Or so I keep repeating to myself.

I have been asked to provide more detailed instructions for these. . . coming soon, I promise!

It would be grand if I could manage to finish one of these before the next Good Migrations issue. Perhaps the stitched heart pillow is the best horse in the race. I'll concentrate on that one. Even odds, I'd say.

Do you every feel in between, too?

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sweet Hearts Redux

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's the perfect time to pull together some stash fabrics for a fast-finish mini-quilt to add some heart-felt cheer to your decor, don't you think?

Years ago, I created a monthly kit pattern series called Snap Sacks. Independent quilt shops purchased the patterns and supplies from me and make up kits for their customers.

The Snap Sacks are now out of print, but I got to thinking over the holiday season that it might be nice to bring back some of those patterns as downloadable pdfs.

I got the get-up-and-get-going bug to get started sometime yesterday morning. Well, by now, you probably know that I write this post on Wednesdays and put it up on Thursdays.

I *thought* I could quickly convert about a dozen of the Snap patterns to a presentable PDF format in an hour or so. Well, that didn't quite work out the way I planned. . .

BUT Sweet Hearts Snap, IS available right now for download from my webstore.

It's a start!

With any luck, I hope to have a few more small projects for you to download soon! Don't worry, I'll keep you informed!

I think the best part about projects like Sweet Hearts is that you really can start and finish them in one or two sewing sessions. Easy, fun stuff. And with about 1 to 2 yards of fabric needed (including backing and binding), it's pretty easy to find some fun stash fabrics to make it up without leaving the building.

But if you're looking for an excuse to head to the quilt shop. . .by all means, I certainly won't hold you back!

CLICK HERE to get the Sweet Hearts Snap pattern

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Sometimes, life just throws out a bunch of curve balls--unrelenting and rapid fire--picture the classic chocolate candy factory I Love Lucy! episode. That's kinda how it has felt for the last few weeks here on the Hummingbird Highway! Good Golly, Miss Molly, enough already!

With some heavy-duty travel coming up in April and May, I've given myself a pretty strict schedule for the first part of the year so things run smoothly when I'm gone. And don't you know it, seems like something goes haywire just as soon as I settle in with my sleeves rolled up and get ready to get busy.

No need to go into the gory details, suffice it to say, it's times like these you look for the little 'wins' in your life. . . This week, I found those, as one might expect, in the sewing studio. I can (almost) always count on my sewing machine to grant me a moment or two of balance.

I'm in between deadline-y, secret stuff, so I didn't want to start anything big. Therefore, earlier this week these two little projects were perfect to get me back on track (at least temporarily) in a few short morning sewing sessions.

These were both pre-cut kits, no brand name or anything, so I don't have links or designer names to share. They were a Christmas gift from my friend Gail. (Thanks, Gail)

The purple thingies are cord keepers. Wrap the fabric around electrical cords at the sewing machine or behind the computer. The velcro tabs hold the cords in check inside the fabric roll. 

The second mini project kit is a pencil bag. A little more involved than the cord wraps, so I have to admit, I scratched my head a bit to follow the text-only directions, but got through it.

At about 4.5x8.5" finished size, it's a great little zipper pouch to hold marking tools or embroidery floss, or about a million other things!

Any time I can collect a WIN in a week full of insanity, I'll take it! In this case, I'll take TWO; THREE if you count each cord wrap as one.

Tell me, I'm not the only one who has had a week like this? 

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Coming Along!

About a year ago, I joined the local chapter of the Embroiderer's Guild of America. After years and years away from it, counted cross stitch and charted embroidery grabbed my attention again. Throw in new-to-me forms of charted embroidery like hardanger, blackwork, and needlepoint. . . 

I was kinda hooked, but I'm a quilter. I make QUILTS. While I appreciate them,  framed hand work pieces to hang on the wall isn't my jam. So, I started playing and experimenting with turning stitchery into quilted projects.

At the guild, a different project or technique is featured each month. For January 2019, we were introduced to a year-long 'sampler' of alphabet charts. Mostly-cross stitch, but this particular sampler featured a different stitch for each block, one to go with each letter of the alphabet.

My first thought was - what a fun way to get familiar with different stitches. My second thought was - I'm going to make a quilt, and test my 'idea.'

This stitchy/quilty concept was something I had been twirling around in my head several months prior. I wanted to incorporate quilting techniques that I know like the back of my hand and newer-to-me stitchery techniques.

Nothing new, but. . .

Adding cross stitch to quilting isn't anything new. Cross stitch on cotton or linen, much like redwork, has been part of the quilting world for a very long time.

However, adding continuous, counted stitched borders is, to my knowledge, a brand new technique that came from my brain. I've dubbed the technique Stitchery Crossover.

After testing the Stitchery Crossover technique on a few smaller projects, the alphabet blocks are my big test to see if this would really work in a quilt (or quilt-related projects). Each alphabet chart included a small border within the chart, I repeated that border in my blocks with a quilt fabric border in between (that's the key to this technique). Sounds easy enough, right?

Very quickly, I discovered to get this done right, it was not so fast, and not so easy. And I developed a system involving calculations, precision applique (incorporating a familiar applique technique from my quilting tool kit), and familiar, but slightly different, quilting construction processes and considerations.

With 24 blocks - one for each letter of the alphabet (X,Y,Z are together in one block) - this was no small undertaking! Stitching and handwork are slower sports than machine piecing and quilting, but equally enjoyable, IMO.

One year later, the blocks are almost done.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I laid them out the other day on my work room floor to snap a picture. . .

Not done yet. . .
While the end is in sight. There are still lots of decisions to make and steps to complete. . . What size to trim the blocks; sashing, no sashing; choose an overall focus print, or use the leftovers from the blocks in a border or backing treatment, quilting that highlights the various techniques involved. 

And of course, I have one last block to finish - the border is *almost* done.

A few months ago, I invited you to join me on this continuing journey. Once the alphabet quilt is done, I'm excited to put Stitchery Crossover to the test, with some new projects already in the works.

The invitation is open, would you like to learn this brand new Stitchery Crossover technique for your quilty-crossover endeavors? Get ideas, learn the technique, and have fun as the detailed steps unfold. C'mon along!!

CLICK HERE for more information and to join.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

No Words

Every year, at New Years, I feel somewhat compelled to choose a 'word of the year' or make New Years resolutions. If that works for you, then great.

The word thing just doesn't do it for me. It feels too general. Eh.

This year, I am sensing a slightly different trend. I picked up a magazine a couple of nights ago that had a list of healthy choices to make into the new year. Likewise, online I've seen a few similar types of lists as I scrolled through social media.

I think I can get into that a bit more, so I came up with a short list, in no particular quantity or order to consider into the New Year. So, here goes. . . .

In no particular order:

Wonder at Technology

I have to be honest, the last couple of days have been filled with frustration for me. I print all the patterns for The FLOCK right here in my work room on these two laser printers. One of them has been giving me fits and starts since I purchased it months ago. Frustrating beyond words.

However, if I stop and think about it, as frustrating as technology can be, it's pretty awesome that we can do so much stuff in a home office setting. There are many, many evils that come with technology, but there are lots of bonuses too. I like to say, technology and systems are great, until they're not. Mostly, it's pretty cool stuff

Let it go

Speaking of technology, sometimes the best tech is low tech. And it's easy to forget that.

It's wonderful to have the answers to all of the world's questions right at my fingertips, but is that really necessary?

The roar of Niagara Falls, the experience of a stroll along a country path, the intoxicating scent of spring blooms cannot be duplicated online.

I can't prove it, but it feels like I do my best and most creative thinking when the smart phone is out of reach and turned off. I need to do that more.

Little by little

There are so many things that can overwhelm. That feeling of overwhelm kills joy.

That stack of scraps or four-patches aren't going anywhere. One pin cushion at a time, these will bring the joy of creativity and completion.

One stitch, one pin cushion, one four-patch, one scrap at a time.

Beauty can be hidden

Have you ever looked at the wrong side of a quilt or stitchery piece? There is rhythm, pattern, color, mystery, and chaos there.

Find knots or mistakes to be fixed (or not). I think there is as much joy in unstitching as in stitching - or there can be.

It's all a means to an exquisite end.

Embrace color

Colorful fabrics, interesting people, invigorating activities.

It's really about joy, isn't it?


If you look for it, you'll find a lot of bad stuff 'out there' - but that's always been there in one form or another. There is a lot of good stuff, too!

Treat yourself to a manicure, breathe in the smell of rain, relax with a warm beverage and a cozy quilt when a storm rages outside.

The best things in life. . .

. . . aren't things. Family, feathers, fur.

A couple of health issues in 2019 in my world reinforced that life and health is precious and not to be taken for granted. (Peaches, my blue-fronted Amazon parrot is going to be 37 years old this year!)

Happy New Year!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Every Year. . .

Aside from wrapping up this month's FLOCK bird block shipment this week, I'm also wrapping-up a year-long project that I've hinted at here and there this year.

If you are a long-standing Good Migrations subscriber, then you know that years and years ago, I started a tradition to include a hand-made Christmas ornament in my holiday greeting cards each year.

Last year, I had the foresight to start early and avoid the typical it's-Thanksgiving-and-I-don't-even-have-my-ornaments-started-yet brown-bag-breathing panic mode.

Since that early-start concept worked out pretty well to keep panic-mode at bay in 2018. I started the 2019 ornaments way back in January.

Since the 2019 version of my greeting-card stuffer ornaments are fairly labor-intensive, I made it a goal to complete one per week throughout the year, usually starting on Sunday, finishing the ornament that day or a day or two later.

The pattern involves some pretty traditional elements of Hardanger embroidery. Something I didn't even know existed until I saw it in Eastern Europe a couple years ago on vacation.
Like most traditional Hardanger, the framework for the ornaments starts with a series of kloster blocks (satin stitches grouped in fives). Around that, I added blanket stitches encircling the entire ornament.

I did these two steps in traditional white thread, then experimented with some variegated threads in a couple shades and weights for the ornaments. 

Next I added a diamond of cable stitching. I've also seen this stitch called faggoting. Then a variation of a diagonal eyelit - or four of them clustered in the center

Then I added more eyelets in the square spaces created by the kloster blocks and blanket stitching.

I used the same thread that I used for the eyelets in the center.

Next comes the hard part - at least it's the hardest part the first time you do it.

Because Hardanger stitching is pulled tightly, it creates gaps in the stitchery fabric at the stitch edge.

Trim away the excess fabric by nestling small, sharp fabric scissors right over that line of gaps in the fabric. Then cut.

I tried not to cry when I was doing this. It helps to have clear vision for this step. Visions of a pile of threads are hard to eradicate.

And there you have it.

Traditional Hardanger doesn't necessarily have a back. Although, since this is a tree ornament, I did pair up a few of them, and stitched all the way around the outside edge with fine thread, to join two one-sided ornaments back to back. Since that doubled the work, most of the ornaments are one-sided, and I simply tried to keep the back of each one tidy as I buried thread ends.

From there, I added a hanging thread, and these are ready to stuff in my Christmas cards.

Wa la! (wink!)

I just realized I'm out of postage stamps! Better get to the Post Office before they Holiday rush--I may have missed that window!-- So much for planning ahead!

I made a few variations of the ornament. Different color combinations; different sizes. The 'January' ornaments are larger than the 'November' ornaments. Somewhere along the way, I had a facepalm moment - these would take less time to make if they were smaller!

There are about 40 ornaments ready to go in this basket.

I realize that I ran through those details pretty quickly. For those interested in a more in-depth close up of the step-by-step process I used to create my ornaments, I'll be adding a new module with much more detail to the Stitchery Crossover group this week!

Not to mention this new little winter project inspired by a cross stitch chart from the current issue of Cross Stitcher. I want to try my crossover technique with something other than square blocks. This heart-shaped project will be a real test. You can join the fun over in the Stitchery Crossover group, if you like.

Happy Stitching!