This Blog

This is a blog to show off my needlework, mainly crazy quilting, beading and crochet. It makes me happy to create these things and even more happy to share the fun with friends. Pictures of my beading projects are at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy holidays! Let it snow!

I only said "Let it snow!" because there is no choice. The sun's shining now on the 20+ inches that fell Friday night, all day yesterday, and last night. Here is a sunrise photo into my back yard, with Glenna's tracks. I'm glad I didn't have to make tracks like that to relieve myself.

My good neighbors did some snow shovelling for me yesterday morning, but that filled in by the time I paid them a visit in the afternoon, shovelling my way to their door. They've also promised to help clear my driveway so the dogsitter can park when she comes to take care of Glenna. Do you think they would like Iowa State caps or t-shirts as thank you tokens?

I'm due to catch Amtrak's Capitol Limited at 4:05 pm for my holiday visit with my sisters and their families in Iowa (Ames.) I haven't heard how the storm is effecting Amtrak service. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get to the station by taxi anyway. I have plenty of needlework ready to work on during the trip, so we'll just flow with any delays.

And, here's a picture of my front yard after the sun is up. Consider it a holiday card wishing you the happiest season and a great new year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back From Carolina Beach

I visited my son Joe and his wife Danielle for Thanksgiving. We went to their beach house at Carolina Beach and had turkey with all the trimmings. My nose ran the whole time because their are new little ones in their family. There are feral cats living in a wooded vacant lot near their beach house. One of the females is somewhat approachable, especially approachable when they feed her. She had kittens and two of them were found wounded, sick and starving. Well, Joe and Danielle took them to the vet, got them treated, and adopted them. Their big master cat, Riley, had to get used to little pests, but he seems to like them now. They're very kitteny, bouncing around playing and adorable. The female is Roscoe and the male Brutis. I love cats despite my allergy.

I didn't take so many photos while I was there. We walked around the town pond and I tried to identify the black ducks there. I think they are scoters.

We attended the Carolina Beach tree lighting and drove out on beach to watch the fireworks at the Wrightsville Beach flotilla festivities. It was a very nice holiday.

I've been working on a couple of gift needlework projects so I can't show you or tell you. One is a crochet project that I nearly finished. I'll show that after it's gifted. Crochet is a good activity to do while riding the train. The other is an ornament for exchange at my crazy quilt group holiday party, but it turns out no one else got their's finished either. We've cancelled the exchange, so you'll have to wait a year to see that one.

Now, I'm busy getting ready for my trip to visit my sisters and their families in Ames, Iowa, December 20-30. I'm going there by train, too, so need to make myself some needlework kits to work on. More on that later.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Embroidered Lettering Class Project

Here is the completed embroidered lettering class project. I enhanced the print on the fabric and mounted the piece on an oval card with a beaded edging to join the backing fabric.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lettering on Fabic Workshop

You must read Susan Elliott's report on the workshop sponsored by our local Embroidery Guild chapter on embroidered lettering. Not only was the workshop great, but Susan is a master at description and at photography. I thought I could surface embroidery well, but I learned I could do better. Here is a picture of the workshop project, partly done, compared to the name tag I made a few years ago. I love the improvement resulting from using teacher Canby Robertson's technique. I know I will be using it more in the future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I am going to San Francisco!

I preregistered for the EGA National Seminar in San Francisco, September 5-10, 2010! I've wanted to tour San Francisco for an age and also attend the National Seminar, so how could I pass this up, National Seminar in San Francisco. I'll go by AMTRAK, which I love. I'll go to Los Angeles first and take the Coast Starlight by the ocean route that I missed during my summer 2008 trip because a bridge was out. I'll return by the California Zephyr which I've ridden only as far as Salt Lake City. Other details are yet to be planned, but I'm already excited. I whole year of anticipation ahead of me.

If I get my first choices in classes, I'll be taking two two-day stumpwork courses: California Poppies by Lynn Payette and Garland of Berries and Ladybug by Jane Nickolas. Pictures are here, numbers 309 and 107. Thanks, Susan, for recommending Jane Nickolas. I hope you will be there, too.

On a more stay-at-home note, I got out my every-once-in-a-while, between-other-projects, may-never-finish house quilt to work on during EGA chapter meetings this past week end. This will eventually be crowded with children playing. In the meantime, I worked on embroidering and couching fibers onto the tree trunk to make it look like bark. I needed more brown fibers, so off I walked this morning to my local yarn shop, A Tangled Skein. What a pleasure to see and feel the yummy yarns loaded on their shelves. The large brown ball is Savoy 52% silk, 48% merino wool; the small brown Small Balls, 100% wool; the brown skein is Bonsai 97% bamboo, 3 % nylon; and the green ball is Wool Bam Boo, 50% wool, 50% bamboo. This is a mainly knitting shop, so I can't expect it, but I sure would like to be able to buy embroidery sized skeins of these yarns. Never mind, I'll share.

I also bought yarn for another pair of crocheted socks for a holiday gift. More on that as I get going on them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Solar Hot Water Photos, Beaded Ornaments

Here are the promised pictures of my solar water heater. The collecting tubes contain water which is heated by the sun and circulated in exchange coils through the water in the 55 gallon tank. There's a small tank in the attic for the water to drain out of the tubes when heat is not needed. That keeps them from freezing at night in the winter. The water is mixed with cold at the outlet to the house to keep the temperature no higher then 130 degrees F. There's a monitor that tells me the temperature at the top of the collectors and the top and bottom of the tank. Cool. It's all working great, although I need to remember to run the dishwasher while the sun is shining. I don't even have the back up heater turned on.

Back to needlework. I've made two beaded flaming chalice ornaments to sell at my church auction in November. The blue one is based on a stained-glass window in our community hall. The other is the most common image used as a symbol of our denomination, Unitarian-Universalism. These are about 3 inches in diameter and are lightly padded. The green back on the yellow one is done in size 15 seed beads. That took a while!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Back From Maine

I got back from a week and a half in Maine on Thursday. I was visiting my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Portland, running Grandma Bobbi camp for Lorelei's last week of summer before beginning first grade. She was ready for the leap into it.

We had a good time: went to Cunningham's used books, enjoyed her first soccer practice (she slept in her uniform), made a couple of dips successfully from my Simple Salsas and Dips recipe book, read chapters from The Little House Treasury that she selected from Cunningham's, bought a cross stitch book, thread, and canvass and had a beginner's lesson.

There was worry going on, too. Her other grandmother who lives a block and a half away from them, just learned she has cancer spread through her body, probably ovarian. She began chemotherapy while I was there. Lorelei picked a pattern from her cross stitch book of a kitten and mouse together and the word "peace." I worked it into a card for Grandma Carol from the two of us. Forgot to take a picture. The situation is an extra shock because Carol is an active and vital woman, designed and built with her partner a cabin at their camping property at Stowe near the White Mountain National Forest just last summer. She's a needleworker, too and has taken up weaving in the past few years. She made me this beautiful scarf.

We (Leslie, Bob, Lorelei and I) made a day trip to Stowe to pick blackberries and harvest vegetables from Carol's garden. It was a perfectly beautiful day. The blackberries were delicious. The mosquitos were scarce. We had a nice supper around the fire pit.

On the trip up to Maine on Amtrak, I crocheted on my second sock. Didn't finish, but when Lorelei saw the pattern book, she wanted some, too. So, we went to the yarn shop selected some yarn. I got a good start on a pair for her in powder blue. I sure hope they fit.

I celebrated my birthday on September 5 with solar hot water. The installation was finally finished the day before. Sorry, no pictures today. It works wonderfully. I washed two loads of clothes today under cloudy skies and hardly made a drop in the temperature in the tank. I suppose I should do solar drying, too, but hanging the clothes out is more than I want to do. Besides, they don't need ironing when they come out of the drier.
It's been busy times and now I'd better get busy putting together my embroidery guild chapter newsletter.
P.S. I just got a call from my daughter. Grandma Carol died this morning, only three weeks from the day she learned she had cancer. What a loss! She was a wonderful, caring woman and will be missed by many people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Earrings from Accessories of Old

Last Saturday I made what I thought was my last visit to Accessories of Old. Look at these clip-on earrings! I don't wear jewelry much. I bought these to take apart for embellishing quilts, and I will do that. In the meantime, don't they look good. They are plastic and vintage, of course. Maybe I'll wear them to my next crazy quilt group meeting.
Regarding Accessories of Old, there is some possible good news. They have a possible new location in Frederick, Maryland. Lisa is looking for feedback at her blog about it. I would go to Frederick to brouse and buy. What about you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Long and Short Stitch Tutorial

I can't remember where I learned of Mary Corbet's Long and Short Stitch Tutorial, but I'm glad of it. Motifs filled with long and short stitch are some of my favorites. Here is an early example from my first crazy quilt. It's my interpretation of the celtic-style sculpture of a Roman sun god found in the Roman baths at Bath, England. I used the drawing from the cover of a book I bought in the gift shop there.

What a special place those baths are. I like the story of their discovery by Bladud, eldest son of the King of Britain. He came home from studying in Athens, afflicted with leprosy. To avoid being confined in quarantine, he ran away to the countryside and became a pig herder. One winter day, some of his pigs wondered away and came back covered in mud. He wondered why they were wallowing in winter, when they usually only did so in summer to keep cool. He investigated and found steam and smoke arising from a warm mud wallow. After some days, he noticed that the wallowing pigs were free of scabby skin. So, he bathed himself in the mud and was cured of his leprosy. He returned home and succeded his father as king. He built temples at Bath in gratitude for his cure. Hmm, I think those pigs deserve to be showcased in embroidery for their part in this story. Stay tuned.

First, however, I'm following Mary Corbet's tutorial. I'm sure I can learn something new to make my long and short stitches better.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Pennant Thank You for Accessories of Old

I'm very grateful to Accessories of Old, the vintage store in Bethesda my crazy quilt group is crazy about, for the kindness and generosity they have shown us. We learned recently that the store will close. Although their stock will be available from their online store, that is just not the same as shopping among all the beautiful things, nicely displayed. We are very sad.

I beaded them this two-sided pennant as a thank you gift. I thought they could display it in the store to show a use of their gorgeous beads. I hope they'll find another use for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Made an Ornament

I'm in a private ornament swap with a friend. I finished hers today. Her online name is Dragonpatch, hence the motif on the front. The machine embroidered dragon on the back I got in a dragon swap many years ago.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scrap Block Quilt is Finished

I finished the scrap block quilt. It's about 24 inches square. I like it. While adding embellishments, I decided to put words in a patch. The ones that came to me, for reasons I don't fathom, were "Always Coming Home." This is the title of one of my favorite Ursula K. LeGuin novels. It's based in the northwest of the USA in the far future in a culture developed after a catastrophe. I AM a science fiction reader. The culture is somewhat based on native American
cultures in which gift giving is important, especially gifts made by the giver, including poetry and stories. One such gift is a poem ending in the line "Be always coming home." I printed the poem onto fabric and put it on the back of the quilt. To finish the quilt, I used the French facing technique Allison Aller described in her CQMagOnline article as I planned and It worked beautifully.

I hope you have had a wonderful 4th of July celebration. Glenna and I went for a walk in Greenbelt Park. It's a small forest with a campground in the middle, inside the the Capitol Beltway. We didn't check out the campground to see how many were taking advantage of such a convenient spot as a base for visiting the festivities in Washington, DC. But, we did see deer. Glenna was off the lead and she took off in chase. I feared I'd have a hard time finding her, but she returned when they got away and, showing her hound heritage, she excitedly started tracking the scent. This was her first trip to this kind of park. She loved it. I had a job getting her out of the car when we got home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beader's Workshop Closing

The second local small business I liked is closing. Darn the economy!

The first was Vertigo Books in College Park (Maryland). They closed in January. I bought books there as gifts for all my grand and great-grand nieces and nephews in December last year, but it wasn't enough to save the store.

Now the Beader's Workshop on Highway 1 in Hyattsville is closing. It moved there from Bowie (Maryland) probably about a year ago, hoping for a market from the developing Hyattsville Arts District. Maybe that was a little premature. The shop caters to jewelry makers, but there were some things I could use for bead embroidery. I went yesterday to take of the 50% off, going-out-of-business sale. Here's what I bought.

My bead boxes are about full, so I'd better stop this stash building until I've beaded a few more things.

Friday, June 12, 2009

One Sock Finished on Way to Carolina Beach

It's nice to crochet while riding Amtrak, so I finished one of my socks on the way to visit my son and his wife. They live in Apex, North Carolina, near Raleigh, but we went directly from the station to their beach house in Carolina Beach, near Wilmington. It's about a two and a half hour drive. They have had the house about a year and have been doing a major remodeling job, now done. They have also been redoing the landscaping, still ongoing. It's all very attractive and comfortable. In addition to shopping at nurseries and working in the yard, the visit included making and eating a delicious pot of shrimp boil and grilling cheeseburgers on the beach in Freeman Park. It was rainy off and on, but the sun was out nicely for the beach. There is a big colony of feral cats in Carolina Beach. Joe and Danielle have a favorite that they are feeding and trying to befriend. She's a small female they named Silver, who has already had kittens. It's too bad she isn't spayed along with all the others.

Other needlework underway, besides crocheting the second sock, includes finishing embroidery on the border of the scrap block piece, making a holiday ornament for an exchange with a friend, and working further on my beaded sewing kit. For the latter, crazy quilt friend Maureeen gave me a cigar box from her vast stockpile. (She has a cigar connoiseur husband.) It's a perfect size to hold the covered needlebook, the pin keep and the other things I've collected for it and still fit in my project bag. For the scrap block piece, I plan to use the French facing technique Allison Aller described on her blog, referring to her article in CQMagOnline. I'm excited, hoping this will be a technique to rescue me from my poor binding corner skills.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

3-D Flower project finished

It's done! That was fun.

I did make an iris for the lower right corner. It was an adventure. I decided to try one of Allison Aller's techniques that she published in the CQMagOnline, April, 2009 issue: making millinery flowers. Actually, I can't claim to have used her technique. I modified it to use the materials I had. I made ovals of white silk charmeuse. Then, not having the glue Allison used, I sprayed the ovals heavily with starch and pressed. I used three for one flower. On two ovals I streaked yellow pastel on the center end of the oval to about the middle. Not having a ball-shaped tool to shape the fabric, I used the tip of my iron on a cloth bag of rice (not having any sand.) Then I gathered the center end of the ovals with a few stitches. The two lower petals needed a row of yellow fuzzy stuff, stamens with pollen? I made those with Ghiordes knot or Turkey rug knot. using one strand of DMC floss. I found the starch didn't completely prevent ravelling of the silk, so I used fray check around the edges. Then I sewed the petals onto the block with the bottom two skewed to the side. With ribbon stem and leaves added, the iris is done. I'm sure this would have worked better if I had used archival bookbinding glue, a millinery tool and a sand bed, but who could wait to get those things.

So here is the finished block. It has another flower added besides the eight Allison taught and the iris. Notice some sweet William's in pink fused angelina fibers. I traded this color with Robin Atkins for some of the orangy color I had in my kit for the dogwood. And, Susan, I did make the waste canvas based butterfly. It's cute and I did want to use all the techniques Allie taught. That was a great workshop. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Allie's workshop

Oh no! Allie (Aller)'s workshop was over last Wednesday. She and Susan (Elliot) went to NYC afterward, then Allie flew home and both of them have updated their blogs before I reported on the great time I had. You must check Susan's blog for her close up pictures of Allie's remarkable quilt displayed at the workshop.

The workshop was on three-dimensional floral embellishment of crazy quilts. Allie is a gardener and has invented ways to represent the blooms from her garden in needlework. She introduced us to beautiful uses for silk ribbon, wired ribbon, silk shiffon, thick silk thread, angelina fiber, felted fabric, rick rack and more. I've been working on my class sample this week in addition to editing the Constellation Chapter, EGA newsletter. I finally got the latter out for proofing this morning, so I have time to give you this report. Here's a picture of my class project.

There is room for more flowers on it. My iris are blooming. Azaleas, too, but I really love the iris. Do you think I can figure out a way to make a 3-D version of iris for that lower right corner?

It was fun to meet Allie who is active on the crazy quilt listservs I follow and is an editor and contributor of CQMagOnline. Her enthusiasm and warmth were contagious during the workshop.

I almost forgot to mention our visit to Accessories of Old on the Sunday before the workshop. The proprietors opened especially for our chapter of EGA and our special guests, Allie and Robin Atkins, beader extraordinaire who gave us a workshop last year. Robin traveled all the way from the islands of Washington state for this workshop and a reunion with the friends she met last year. This shop is something else, loaded with vintage beads, buttons, ribbons, jewelry, hats, lace, and more delightful things. Susan blogged about this a while back. (I won one of the cards of buttons she had for a giveaway on that blog!) During this pre-Allie visit, I bought more buttons and beads. So gorgeous.

I am all fired up with inspiration for more projects. Oh no!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scrap block embellished! Solar hot water!

Whew! I thought I wouldn't finish embellishing my scrap block for the challenge on the CQ International listserv - but I did. All the embellishments are thread embroidery to maintain an old-fashioned look and to keep it flat to use as a table cloth. The block is 12 inches square and will have wide borders to make the cloth 24" square.

I just signed a contract for installation of a solar water heater. Turns out my roof is very good for collecting solar energy and the panels won't show from the front of the house. The system uses my current water heater for storage and backup heat. Hay, everybody, this is the time to invest in this. The federal, state (Maryland) and county incentives together reduce the price by about 84% for my system (40 gallons a day usage). Bye-bye to a big chunk of natural gas use from my budget and CO2 footprint.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Family visit, new blocks, and capturing rocks in thread

My sister, aunt, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter all visited for the Cherry Blossom Festival! I live in suburban Washington, DC. I had to put some of them up in a motel, but the visit was wonderful and so were the cherry blossoms. We toured the Smithsonian museums, rode the tour trolley, toured the National Cathedral,ate lunch in it's garden and made an auto excursion to Leesburg, Virginia. My 84 year-old aunt and 5 1/2 year-old grandaughter both kept up with all the walking. In Leesburg, besides lunch, we visited a thrift shop and a couple of antique stores. I bought a beautiful scarf in the thrift shop that I expected to cut up for crazy quilting, but I don't know. It may serve as a table cover instead, at least until I need a piece from it to exactly fit a crazy quilt block. It's 54 inches square.

Before the visit from my family, I made two crazy quilt blocks in greens. The first was in preparation for a workshop by Allison Aller at my embroidery guild, Constellation Chapter, EGA. She is giving two workshops, one on curved piecing of crazy quilts and the second on floral embellishment. I'm taking only the second so I made a block with curved piecing to be used there. The second is a donation block in support of breast cancer research for auction at the annual Crazy Quilt Seminar in Omaha, Nebraska.

My friend Susan reported on her blog about her trip to New York City's Central Park. She speculated on how to translate the many rock formations there into needlework. Well, I tried. My daughter, when she lived in Manhattan, was a rock climber. I took some pictures of her climbing with a friend in Central Park. In my first crazy quilt I translated one of those pictures onto a block representing her interests. I can't say I was satisfied with the result, but here's a picture as a challange for you to surpass.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sewing kit pictures

I'm enjoying a cooler, but sunshiny day. I played some fetch with Glenna. She had her annual visit to the vet Tuesday and he said she's overweight. Sigh. I hate to have a hungry dog around begging for food. I learned she does like frozen green beans for a treat. And, more fetch should be on the agenda. We walk 30-40 minutes a day already.

Here are the promised pictures of the sewing kit progress. The needlebook cover and a thread cutter on a necklace are finished.