Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Like #40

Another week of things to like! 

1. I like getting things finished!  Sometimes I feel like that's not in the spirit of "I like" but it's a positive in my life.  Last weekend I finished my iris quilt, more of an abstract 3D fiber sculpture, and someday I hope to get together a series of posts on it, but for now here's a close up sneak peek.

2. Hand in hand with #1, I like starting new things.  My next project is another experimental-flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, I have no idea whether it will work, but the first step was painting and then cutting up this quilt which I never thought was very successful.  It was a bit scary, but I jumped right in.  Now it's been cut up into a ton of small triangles, so we'll see where it goes next!

3.  I like making small things.  I wear a lot of colorful dangly earrings, and this weekend took the opportunity of reworking some old silver earrings I didn't wear much and adding some happy green dangles to them.  I had a weird shortage of green earrings which has now been filled.  And while on that track I also made up a little knotted bracelet using some beads from my stash, it kind of reminds me of a slightly more grownup version of the ones we made as kids.

4.  I love my flowers!  I still haven't remembered to take a picture of my chrysanthemums, or a better picture of my sunflowers, but they're still going strong.  It might freeze this week, I'm not sure if I need to protect them somehow.  I did manage to get another picture of my work geranium, it keeps blooming but is horribly leggy.  I wish I knew how to make it fill out a bit instead of having these long stalks with one flower at the end.

I hope there are things happening in your week that provide some sparks of joy or happiness, and thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us linked up!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Guest Quilts: Kennel Quilts

My mom is an art quilter just like I am, but recently shared some fun charity quilts she made.  They're called kennel quilts, and its a great way to support efforts to care for displaced and needy pets after natural disasters.  You can find out more here:

These small quilts are collected given to shelters and rescue organizations who are providing assistance with animals after hurricanes or floods or fires or other events.  They can be a great way to use up orphan blocks or other small projects that have been languishing in your studio!  Here are a few cute ones my mom made and sent off after the Houston flooding. 

This is a great organization that has helped out after a bunch of different natural disasters, so if you're a pet lover and have some free time, make up a few and send them off.  There are some basic guidelines at the bottom of the website as well as areas of current need.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

I Like #39

Well I'm too late for LeeAnna's link up this week, but I didn't want to miss a week of sharing.  This has been a crazy stressful week at work, so one of the main things I'm liking is that it's Friday!

1. I like flowers!  As I was walking to my car the other day I passed this flowering tree with the most interesting blooms/fruits/who knows what (if anyone knows what it is please let me know).  In spite of the fact that I've worked in this building for eleven years, I've never noticed this tree before and its really cool!  Also blooming this week are my new sunflowers!  These are totally serendipitous, the result of the [stupid] squirrel that dumped our birdfeeder almost every single day this week.  At first the stuff sprouting underneath it looked like weeds so Mike just mowed over it, but when he realized it was growing something that might be cool he left it to grow!  And now I have two new large blooms and sunflowers that are about two feet high!!  So cool!!

2. I love fall birds.  Every year in the fall we get this giant flocks of small black birds.  I have no idea what they are but they are so cool en masse.  You see them by the hundreds along power lines, traffic lights and rooftops.  Back when I used to have to park on the roof of the parking garage, it was simultaneously less cool (because of tons of car bird poop) and more cool because you'd walk or drive through and these huge huge crowds of them would just all rise up at once.  They lend such a fun halloween/fall/witchy air to things, especially in the evening with the colorful sunset....

3. I like getting to do new science.  A lot of my job (kind of like most people's probably) winds up involving paperwork and compliance and different types of busy work.  But I have a huge grant deadline coming up and while no one particularly likes writing grants, they are a really nice chance to dig deep into the scientific literature, think creatively about new experiments, and remember why we're scientists to begin with.  Unfortunately it also means very little sewing, but I'm thinking positive!!

Happy week everybody!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I like #38

Better late than never!  I feel quite behind right now, not in a bad way actually, just in the way that made me forget until just now that it was Thursday and time for another round of I Likes!

1.  I like going to hear live music!  Mike and I got to go out and hear a friend of ours (the awesome Camille Harp) play this weekend.  It was at a local BBQ place with a fabulous patio, and the weather was perfectly crisp and fall like.  Just a wonderful evening and something fun we like to do together.

2. I like making the occasional pieced quilt.  Over the weekend I made a baby quilt for a friend of mine and a couple of donation quilts and they were nice simple projects to finish and send out into the world.  I posted about them Monday, so take a look if you want to see pictures.

3.  This is a strange one, but I like that my car just passed 200,000 miles.  I love my happy little car, and this milestone has been (obviously) a long time coming.  I didn't catch 200,000 exactly, but managed to grab 200,002 which is even more fun since I'm always entertained by palindromes.  I hope it makes many many more miles as there are few things I hate more than buying and paying for a new car.

4. I like being busy at work.  There's a definite difference between being overwhelmed and productively busy, but it's so nice when I feel like I'm getting things done.  We're well into the semester now and things are proceeding quickly.  I'm so proud of my students, they're already showing so much improvement from the beginning of the semester and it makes me happy to see them doing so well.

Thanks to LeeAnna, and I hope you guys have a great week!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pieced Quilts

I have a friend at work who is having a baby fairly soon, so this weekend I buckled down and made a baby quilt for her.  Baby and charity quilts are about the only piecing I ever do, so it was fun to do something a bit different.  I decided to make a large churn dash block after seeing Mary's really cute churn dash table runner.  My rule for things like this is that I can't buy new stuff- I have to use what's on hand, because I really have plenty.  It does mean I don't have much in the way of kid-type prints, but I think the colors are bright and fun enough for a baby.  And I backed it with this great fish print that I have several yards of (thanks Georgia!!).

While I was at it I decided to go ahead and finish up a couple charity quilts I'd pieced a long time ago and never quilted.   This first one used up a bunch of my favorite prints.  I decided to make it light weight, with no batting, but backed with minky so its very soft and snuggly.  I quilted it and then self bound it.  It finished about 70" x 45" so it's a good lap size.  Sorry the picture is so terrible!

This second one I belatedly realized was much larger pieces of prints, and I think I must have pieced it intending it to be the back of the other one.  At that point it was too late, and I didn't really want to quilt another something that big, so I cut the backing piece in half and used one piece as the top and one as the backing.  After quilting and binding it finished about 50" x 40" which is a good baby quilt size.  Both baby quilts are bound with some pretty turquoise blanket binding I found in my stash.  It was kind of a pain to work with since it can't be ironed very easily, but it gives such a silky finish.

I hope my friend and her new baby like the churn dash quilt, and I look forward to dropping off the other two at one of our local women's shelters.  It's always great to finish up things that have been languishing, especially if they have a useful purpose!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Goldwork Fox

A couple years ago I started reading Mary Corbet's Needle N Thread, which is the best embroidery blog I've ever found.  She works on great projects so there's lots of eye candy, has lots of great educational content about working on projects, the mechanics of stitching, how to approach planning and design, and everything else you might need for embroidery.  She also has some historical content as well, and its fun to learn a little about past embroidery.

In any case, while reading her blog I learned a little about goldwork, which I had previously seen but never knew anything about.  It's an embroidery technique where you use thread or floss to attach actual metallic bits to the surface of the embroidery.  As it turns out there are a lot of different goldwork techniques, but in general think of the sparkly bits on military uniforms or ecclesiastical vestments.   I thought it might be fun to try, but I wasn't super excited about buying a whole bunch of new stuff until I knew whether I'd like it or not, so when she did a giveaway for one of Becky Hogg's fabulous goldwork embroidery kits, I entered enthusiastically.  I didn't win the giveaway, but I asked for the goldwork fox kit as a Christmas present that year, and Mike got it for me.  

I don't ever make things from kits- mostly I have such strange ideas I'm pursuing that it wouldn't make sense, but you guys this kit was amazing.  It was beautifully put together, there was plenty of all the materials, the instructions were very clear and thorough, and it was a great way to try a bunch of different new techniques.  If you're at all interested in trying out goldwork, I'd strongly recommend one of Becky's kits.  

Anyway, I didn't have much time to work on the fox until the last six months or so, but recently I've been taking it to knit night and working on it there.  And then last weekend I got to work on it during a softball game for Mike's granddaughter and an OU football game, so it got finished!  It came with a cute hoop to finish it in (to hang on the wall), but I decided to turn it into a brooch instead.

The first step was to stitch down felt support padding, and then the first actual goldwork technique was couching down thin gold wire.  You can see all the loose ends in the second picture that had to be buried.  That was very tedious, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The next several techniques were less tedious, but I forgot to take step by step pictures.  All the rest of the techniques utilized different colors and sizes and textures of fine metallic springs.  These were either put on by couching over them and pulling the thread down between the coils of the spring so you can't see the thread (as in the outline of the face and tail), or by cutting pieces off the spring and sewing the thread through the center of it like a bead (as on the tail and ear fill).  These steps were easier than couching the wire, but it was difficult to get the rose gold springs cut the right length for filling the tail.  They were more uneven than I'd have liked, but I got better as I went along!  

To finish him after all the embroidery was done, I hand stitched the edge of the white fabric around then backed it with felt and sewed on a brooch pin. He's so very sparkly and shiny and reflective, it's so hard to get a good picture, but I really love the way he came out!!

I had such fun working on this, it was really very very slow work, but I love the effect, and may use some of these goldwork techniques in a future embroidery project.

Have you learned any new techniques lately?

Linking up with Nina-Marie!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Like #37

It's been a strange week here, I've been feeling under the weather, and anxious and worried, but digging deep there are still some good things!

1.  I like being back at choir rehearsal.  I'm sad that sailing season is over but I am glad to be back at choir rehearsal.  I've been singing on Sunday mornings the last few weeks but kept feeling behind since I missed rehearsal.  Our church is under construction and our choir room flooded last year, so we're in a state of upheaval.  To compensate for the fact that a lot of the music was damaged and/or is currently inaccessible, we got new a new book of choir anthems we're singing out of this fall.  In typical fashion my first instinct is to not like them (because they're not my old favorites), and then after learning them realize how fun it is to learn new things and how nice they are.  Yes, I roll my eyes at myself.  After accidentally picking up someone else's book several times I decided to make a cover for mine which I was going to share today but I seem to have lost the pictures.  I'll have to take some more.

2. I like embroidery.  Lately I find that I have lots of quilt deadlines and they're causing me some anxiety which unfortunately translates to lack of enthusiasm/motivation, and I've been finding that what I enjoy most is my embroidery.  I finished my goldwork fox (I turned him into a brooch) and will have a full post up about him tomorrow, but here's a sneak peek.  My next project is an embroidered prayer book cover and I got that designed.  It'll be a very-long term project, but I'll share progress along the way.

3.  I like crocheting new things.  I haven't been doing much crochet work, as my time at knit night has been spent doing embroidery, but our knitting group decided we'd make booties for new babies in the parish, so I whipped up these.  The baby they're for is already three months old, but even so I think they're way too big, but they turned out cute anyway.  As usual, I struggle with things that need to be a certain size, but I'll get better!

3. I like the ceramics of Jennifer McCurdy.  Her work is absolutely gorgeous, and she captures in porcelain the airiness and grace I'm striving for (but not usually attaining) in my openwork quilts.

Thanks to Lee Anna as always for being such a great friend and motivator!