Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Ornaments

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and that as many of you as possible are enjoying some time off to be creative!!

The last few years I've made Christmas ornaments for my friends, and this year I did two separate batches.  The first were done using my embroidery machine.  There are so many cute embroidery patterns and I hardly ever use  my embroidery set up, so I had some fun making these.  Luckily the stitch outs went fine and my machine ran smoothly.  I think my tension is still off, but since I matched the bobbin and top thread it isn't too obvious.  The pattern is from urban threads (my favorite).  To give you an idea of scale, they're about 2.5-3" wide.

These next ones are hand embroidered and beaded.  I've been on a chi-rho kick lately  (I did several ornaments with that symbol this year), I think as a result of just finishing a really superb podcast on the history of the Roman empire.  You should definitely check it out, it's fabulous to listen to in the car or while sewing.  I did most of the beading/embroidery in the car, and they're about 4" across.  

I really had a great time making all of these, and I hope my friends like them!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful Christmas and a fabulous 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kids and Crafts

I love Christmas crafts (duh to anyone who's known me longer than about three minutes), and it so fun that Mike's grandkids love crafts too.  They're the perfect age for all kinds of things (7 and 9), and we were lucky to get to have them over last weekend.

We started with sock snowmen, using this good tutorial.  They were easy and fun to make, and the kids had fun picking out their buttons and eyes/sequins, scarfs, etc.  We didn't even spill too much rice :).  I made one too, but didn't manage to get a picture of it.

Then we moved on to Christmas cookies.  I don't think they'd made cookies from scratch like this before and really got a kick out of licking the beaters.  Raegan and I were sad that Mike frosted all his cookies white and Walker did all his red.  She was really into the rainbow and made some awesome multi-colored ones.  Of course they all taste the same (and super yummy).  I had them pick which cookie cutters they wanted to use from my fairly random selection, and we got some traditional Christmassy ones like the candy cane and the tree, and then a couple of slightly less traditional selections like the dog bone and the dragonfly.

You can see Bentley there lurking around the edges-  we discovered too late that his tongue was just the right height to slurp around the edge of the table and sneak cookies off.

And finally we made Borax crystal snowflakes.  I'd never done crystals like this before and it worked great.  After they left I tried several more shapes, but didn't get pictures of those either.  The snowflakes were much sturdier than I thought they'd be.  They were a bit hard to photograph, but in person they're very sparkly, especially when hanging next to lights on the tree.  I think Walker was a bit disappointed that his red one came out more pink, but it was ok.

In the evening we went out and looked at the Christmas lights, and sang songs and played games in the car.  I love having them over, they're really wonderfully behaved and so much fun.  They make me laugh and forget my pre-occupations for a while.  It definitely got me in the Christmas spirit.  Hope you all are having fun preparing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway!

I "drew" two names using and winners are Claire Sutherland, and Veronique.  Congratulaitons! Check your e-mails ladies and thanks to everyone else who entered.

And, just so the post won't be completely empty, I'll leave you with an in progress pic of my latest illuminated quilt.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Boxy Bags

Today I have some more bags from earlier this year. This summer I made several boxy bags to give away, and the last one was finally gifted in mid-November, so I thought I'd go ahead and share them.  I'd made one of these before  and it was the perfect size for an on-the-go crochet project.  I love the shape, and the tutorial I follow results in no unfinished interior edges (a must for me).  Unfortunately, I didn't use enough interfacing this time, so they're a little soft, but useful all the same!

Here they are with my old one.

Also last summer Mike got me a new camera right before our trip to Alaska.  I decided to make a camera bag for it using the train case pattern from Sew Sweetness.  I love her patterns for slightly more complicated bags, and this one was fun.  It's the smallest size in the pattern, and was a bit fiddly, but came out nice.  I made a shoulder strap to carry it and left off the top handle, but otherwise followed the pattern.

That little zip pocket in the top is the perfect size for a spare battery and SD card.  The camera was a perfect fit inside, so I was pleased about that, but unfortunately Mike has gotten me some sort of protective lens cover filter thing so now I don't think it will fit anymore!  Fun bag all the same though, and sometime I'll make the larger sized ones from the pattern.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Welcome to all of you who are coming through from the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day post.  I love being able to participate, especially when I remember ahead of time.  Feel free to scroll down to the bottom to see the details of the giveaway!

I'm mostly an art quilter, with a love of crafts and bag making thrown in.  I try to blog as often as I can about my works in progress, and I'd love it if you'd stop in again!  My work in the last couple of years has been broadly divided into two groups.  The first is an ongoing series of quilts inspired by the style of illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy, and depicting parts of the Episcopal liturgy.
In Nomine Patris

Gloria Patri

Peace be With You

The other "category"  is really just a catch all for everything else.  I'm a scientist in my other life, so some of my quilts are based on my research or other scientific themes and some are just whatever I felt like making at the time.

The Dogs

Winter In Lincoln County #1: The Orchard

Ring Around the Mole

And now for the giveaway!

This year I'm giving away two packages.  Each of them contain a handmade ornament, half a yard of Lotta Jansdotter fabric (from the Bella line), a quilt-in-a-cup kit, and a book.

The books are Pat Nickels and Sue Holly's Stitched Raw Edge Applique and Joan Ford's Cut the Scraps: 7 Steps to Quilting your Way Through Your Stash.

The quilt-in-a-cup kits are a super fun project for making your own quilted travel mug.  They contain all you need to make the project except scrap fabric (so you can use whatever fabric your want).

Finally, the ornaments are perfect for your Christmas tree if you're a tree household, and can also be pinned to a bulletin board or wall for a bit of winter cheer if you aren't!  I made them while playing around with my embroidery machine, something I don't do often enough.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite holiday activity is!  Make sure you're not a no-reply blogger or I won't be able to contact you if you win.

Good luck to all, and I'll randomly select 2 winners on the afternoon of December 16th.

Thanks again for visiting and to Sew Mama Sew for hosting!

UPDATE:  Please please please check to see if you are a no-reply blogger.  If you are, I'll have no way to contact you if you win, and two of the first three very kind people who commented are no-reply.  If you aren't sure, check out this post.  If you'd like to stay a no-reply blogger, please put your e-mail in the text of the comment.  Thanks!!  I'd hate for someone to win who I couldn't get in touch with!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Daisy Bag

I decided to make myself a new purse, and I wanted one that was big enough to carry my coffee and water bottle but still not huge.  I have often just made up my own bag patterns, but this time I wanted something with pleats (to add some volume) and didn't want to mess with drafting it, so I purchased the pdf pattern for the Daisy Cross Body bag from Blue Calla Patterns.  In addition to the pleats, I really liked the idea of the fussy cut dresden-like piecing.  I have several yards of the Midnight fabric from Jane Sassaman's Prairie Gothic line.  It's several years old now, but is one of my favorite prints of all time, and it's perfect for fussy cutting.

Here are a few of the designs I auditioned.  The pattern calls for 7 dresden pieces on each side.  I settled on the one with the moths (my very favorite) for one side, and the one with half spiders on the other side.

The pattern was great, easy to follow and understand,  it was pretty much constructed in a standard way and I liked the size/pleats.  It only called for a magnetic snap main closure, but I really wanted a zip top, so I made a recessed zipper for it.

It's kind of hard to tell in these pictures, but the bottom and the underside of the strap are this great dark purple corduroy I saved from a pair of pants I no longer wear.

So far I'm enjoying this bag a lot, although I realized the last time I made myself a new purse, it was exactly the same color scheme, and approximately the same size! That purse is still going strong, I just felt like making a new one, and next year if I make a new bag I'm going to have to branch out away from blue and purple!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

More Animals!

I've been working away on my large quilt, but have gotten behind on posting.  I finished all the animal pictures and have started quilting the first panel.  Last time  I finished with the emergence of land life and the Trigonotarbida.

Today I'll start with the pieces that go up the "middle", that is, the right border of the left panel, and the left border of the right panel.  These borders are the narrowest of all, only about 3.5", so each of these pictures is about 2" wide.  This is my dinosaur section, with a Pteranodon (from the late Cretaceous) flying through the top panels, my friend the Coelophysis (from the Triassic) in the middle section, and a Helicoprion (very long-surviving, from the Permian through the late Triassic) swimming in the sea in the bottom.  Helicoprions are actually a type of shark, and are super awesome.  I learned about them this summer on our Alaska trip, and you should definitely check them out.  Sorry the pictures are so dark!  The helicoprion is especially hard to see, but his background is multilayered blues.

Then moving into the Cenozoic era, starting along the bottom edge of the left panel. First up is a a Gastornis (from the Paleocene/Eocene epoch).  It's a giant flightless bird, one of many that arose during the early Cenozoic when mammals and birds really started to dominate.

Next comes a wooly mammoth from the Pleistocene epoch (the last before our current epoch).

Finally we get to people and our current epoch (the Holocene).  The people are sitting at the bottom left corner of the left panel.  The tree panels go up the left side, and to cap out our track through evolution, sitting in the tree are a bunch of "Darwin's finches".  Of course, in real life, they wouldn't all be in the same tree, but Darwin's study of the collection of different finch species found in the Galapagos Islands helped him develop the theory of natural selection.  Mine aren't 100% correct, but I did try to represent a variety of different beak shapes, one of the most obvious distinguishing features of the finch species.  It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the tree trunk lines up in all four panels to provide continuity up the left border.

As with all the other pictures, each one will have much more detail added in the quilting, but so far they're coming along ok.  Next time I'll share the ones that go across the top border, and then I think I'll be up-to-date.  

I'm linking up with the ever-fabulous Nina-Marie today.  Hope everyone is having some time to be creative!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Training for the Triwizard Tournament

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  I was privileged to spend it with my family in New Mexico, and had a great time with my parents and everyone else.  I love the advent season, and after some gentle reminders from Mike about not overscheduling, I'm going to try to enjoy this year without going crazy.

Ever since August, my sister and I have been training to run a half marathon, and back on November 1st, we actually ran our first one!  It was a huge accomplishment for us both.  I've never been a big runner, and I didn't think I could do it.  We had a good time, and Becky has actually decided to train for a full marathon!  I think I'll stick with the half, and our next one will be the end of January.  It's a bit harder to force myself outside to run now that the weather is cold, but I'm trying.

Being crafty people, we decided to make shirts to wear for the race, and being nerdy people, we decided to make them Harry Potter (yay!) themed.  After looking around online for ideas, I put together this design, and we cut out freezer paper stencils using my Silhouette and then painted them with acrylic paint.  I think they came out really cute!

Here we are right before the race with my sister's friend Diana who also ran with us.  It was raining at the end and we were exhausted, so there aren't any good pictures of the "after".  I was really excited to find bright 80s pattern neon-y running pants (it's the small things...).

My parents came down to watch us and keep the kids while we were running, and my mom snapped this picture of me jogging along around mile 9.  I was pretty tired by then, but still going!

Hopefully I can keep motivated to run through the holidays!