Points to ponder

I have so missed being in round robins the last 18 months and this RR is a good example.. They always open me to new ideas and options.  Plus they make me stretch as a stitcher.

Teresa asked for rain forest colors and if I had been first I'd never chosen the palette that is on the blocks but they are perfect. 

I love being able to pull the thread rings and narrow in on the colors and I created a new ring just for this project.

Do I still love my ring system? ....YES!!!! I might add again my source for the rings... by far the cheapest....

When I say the colors are perfect, just
look at the palette next to this red-eyed tree frog who lives in the rainforest.  Look at the tree frog colors and the parrot upper right in one of the fans.  Being third in this rotation I will use only the colors already introduced and have drawn from both blocks... It is most important that what I do is in harmony with the stitchers before me.   But I will want to add my own touch and you can bet it is going to be a red-eyed tree frog...He is just too precious..

That brings me to another thing I have been mulling over.  Years ago when I had my cataracts removed I was amazed at the intensity of the colors around me and realized I was seeing something entirely different than everyone else.  Now that my sight continues to worsen and dim ,  I realize it is happening again.  I know it really doesn't matter that you don't see what I see when I create something but somehow it does because I know I'm missing something. So it does give me a sense of security to be able to match colors to what someone else has chosen.


A better theme? I think not!!

If you had to pick a theme for a wool round robin, what images would be more appropriate.  I am signed up to start one in June and thinking these would be great... My wools will be all natural colors..

There is my super stud Andy (bottom right), good reliable Ruby (bottom left) and my absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Topaz (top right)..  I think of them all the time during lambing season and miss them so much.  I miss walking around with sweet grain in my pockets for treats and watching for signs of impending births.

You can see Ruby's eyes closed as she is relaxing while nursing.. They were such lovable animals... well not Andy...

It was hard to choose just 6 pictures from the large collection I have.

I am trying to get a good picture of the "raven happening" but the minute I appear in a window or anywhere near...off they fly.  There are about 75  of them. The collective noun for ravens is an "unkindness" or a  "conspiracy" I definitely have a conspiracy of ravens and they are cleaning any walnuts left on the ground from last fall.


Jacket Progress

 Progress not much it would seem but actually I have been gathering fabric... I found some in the barn, some on  recent thrifting trips, and Cathy Kizarian (bless her) sent me a whole package of jewel tone fancies..  I just recently found the blue and the orange stripes at a thrift store...  I LOVE stripes and hope to find a few more as I go along.   I am a short on greens and especially orange...not an easy fancy color to find.

I mentioned in the previous post that I preferred paper piecing but thought I was going to have to do it patch by patch to get the look I wanted...  But Marilyn Nepper suggested I paper piece large chunks of it and fill in between.   I think that's a great idea.  I've sketched four (about 9") areas and will clean them up a bit.  I avoided 90 degree angles because I did not want the jacket to look like it was assembled blocks.

I looks like it will be at the very least a week or two before I am actually going to be able to start cutting... But that doesn't preclude me from thinking about it while driving or in the garden....  I mentioned the Waverly House book I wanted to use as a reference and I also thought of another one I've had for several years and have never used... It is this stumpwork book Embroidered Floral & Fauna which I love but never have really delved into.... now's the time. 

First I was just going to have flowers and birds but decided to add bugs, bunnies, frogs etc..  all the things I love. 

And it has been a very good bird week.  My precious wrens are back and singing to me daily, the hummingbirds are back, and the white crowned sparrows are here for a short time on their sojourn north.  I also saw a killdeer and a meadowlark in the pasture.  They never come up close to the house.   Last year we had this bizarre invasion of ravens in the field next to us....hundreds of them and they stayed just long enough to drive off all my magpies..  In 35 years we've never had anything like it and they are back again this year.  The field is planted  with just grass hay...nothing exciting or unusual.

I do have information on my sewing kit and will gather photos and put together a post on it...


Mystery Needle Case

This is a mystery hussif of sorts.  It has pins, needles, buttons and thread and is probably at least 100 years old.  I would love to know more of its history

At the top of the interior flap is "Kirby Beard & Co" which when I Googled it found that it was a general manufacturing company in England during the 1800s which did indeed make all kinds of sewing supplies...everything from pins and needles to sewing machines.  They also made many other things as well.

The pocket at the bottom has two spools of thread....one black and one white...  The buttons have 4 holes and are also black or white.  The wording on the buttons says "BEST RING EDGE."  Because the whole thing is so sturdy I suspect it may have been for a man....maybe military or explorer...just a guess.

It all rolls up into a tidy package secured by a leather strap.  The leather is in remarkably good shape considering how old it must be.

Has anyone seen anything like it?  I was hoping the unusual buttons might be a clue..


Rainbow launched!!!

For me the hardest part of a project is doing the initial groundwork....the ideas are easy....Once I have something going where I can work at it just by picking it up, I am fine.. So I was at that awkward stage with my rainbow jacket and plunged ahead this morning.

First I made some modifications in the pattern and then traced it on muslin for the foundation...and am not cutting it out.....leaving plenty or room around the pattern.  I am doing the pattern in a size larger than I need because I know things "shrink" with lots of stitching.  It is much easier to cut something back then add extra later....  I almost goofed and drew 2 right sides...  Only the body of the jacket will be CQ...the sleeves will be vintage lace doilies.

These are my rainbow colors and I need to find a LOT of coordinating fancies now.. and that will take a while.  I do have a bit of rainbow ribbon left over from Morris's book which will be perfect here.... 

Right now I'm thinking I will hand applique the patches to make the best use of my silks.  I'm miserable that the flip and stitch method. (that is why I always paper piece)  Maybe I don't like piecing because I am bad at doing it.

I immediately thought of a book I've had for years (and years) which I always have wanted to use as a resource for vintage reproduction of needlework.  It is filled with hundreds embroidery patterns collected by Virginia Baskervill who live in a plantation home, Waverly Honor in the mid 1800's.

A antique quilt Allie posted on facebook recently inspired me.  I do want bright colors which are way out of my comfort zone but what I like the most is that it is all embroidery.... no charms, lace etc. Also by using only embroidery, I can do a lot of it on a hoop which will reduce the shrinkage.  So you see with this project  I'm not straying too far from the Victorian era I love.

Here is another example of a quilt from the same era that is also all embroidery but more subdued colors that are in my comfort zone.. but rainbow it will be.... My Carole Samples stitch book will be my bible throughout this endeavor..  I'm sure you could find every single one of the stitches on these quilts in her marvelous, inspiring research.

Allie called these colors "musty" which is so appropriate....


The bluebirds have landed and the popcorn ritual...

All the bluebirds are stitched on the anniversary quilt. Once I finish the foliage I can start on the embellishment in earnest.  I have a large collection of my most special treasures saved for this piece.

I have the dubious talent of turning a simple project into something complex and time consuming.  I had planned for just two birds and now I have 8. Now I want the foliage by the birds similar to  the foliage in the focal point which will mean about 400 French knots.

But for a couple days it is going to get a good stretch and rest on this foam thing I found in the barn..

It is something left from days we had a booth and it folds.. It opens quite large which is great as this piece is too large for my bulletin boards.  Sorry about the lighting.

Our dogs love popcorn and my husband has preparing it down to a fine art and he shares with the dogs.  They eagerly watch while he is popping it and the minute he sets 2 paper towels on the floor, they position themselves and wait... They each get a few kernels in turn until it is all gone.  They wait patiently for their turn and stayed glued to their spot...


Time for a new CQ jacket

I do have a CQ jacket I made over 20 years ago and although I still love it, it  sadly shows its age and wear.  It has been all over the US, Australia and NZ and hand washed many times.  It is covered with everything relating to gardening and my travels, plus a lot of "witty" garden sayings... I made it during the years I used to speak at a lot of garden show and events.. It was my "uniform"  We often had a booth at these things as well and when it was time for me to speak I could just pop on my jacket.. 

But besides being old, it really had no style or shape and was made with vintage linens and  was too warm to wear in hot weather... So if I'm going to make another one I want:

1. for it to be lightweight so silks would be great
2. for it to have a little shape or style
3. suitable for indoor wear.

But on the other hand to be suited to CQ, the pattern has to be quite simple and that has been the problem... Every few years I would get the urge and search for the "perfect" pattern but to no avail.. They all needed major restyling so the project would be shelved again.

But the other day I think I have found the "nearly" perfect pattern, Butterick 5789.  It has some shape and still is very simple construction...  The only problem I see is that it is too long in back and that can be fixed.. It's especially too long for someone as short as I am and also I don't want to be sitting on stitching.

So I will probably make a trial version with old CQ pieces to iron out any problems before I make the "final version."  And the final version is going to be rainbow colors.  My rainbow door has made me smile all year and I think it would be fun wearing a rainbow coat  to make others smile.  So join me as I start this journey toward "Gerry's coat of many colors."


Back to anniversary/hanky piece

Now that the suffrage piece is finally done I can start thinking about what is next in line.... First up is back to the hanky quilt which is really my anniversary piece.
I have all the additional stumpwork bluebirds done and ready to cut out and applique onto the doily areas... I worked on them while sitting with mother...
In case you had forgotten, I posted a sampler I did in 1976 to commemorate our marriage.  Since we are coming up on our 40th anniversary (40 wonderful years I must add) I wanted to do a special piece of needlework that incorporated both CQ and bluebirds... plus lots of hearts and flowers...  Hopefully I'm starting soon enough to take my time to add all the special detail I want and also to get it done in time. 


Done at last!

The last stitch, the last button, and the last detail...  My eyes are so sore tonight that after I have a large gin and tonic I am going to put ice packs on them... I decided to have it professionally photographed because the lighting for all the black on black is beyond my skills..  It has been a long journey...over 3 1/2 years since I started collecting the images.  I still love every one of them.  But I will never start such a elaborate piece again either.

The earliest posts go back back to Oct and Nov of 2010..... and here is the photo of the materials as I was gathering them together..  all sepias, browns, and blacks...


Cording Technique

 I went to see Allie on April 6th and have worked non stop on the suffrage piece ever since and now on the last step...the corners. I basted the batting, quilted all the layers,  did border, border lace, border trim and then proceeded to add the cording around the whole piece...Here  I ran into problems... The cording has 3 ply and a good deal of elasticity.  If stitched too tight it causes the piece to buckle and stitched too loosely it causes the piece to have a wavy edge... plus you have to watch it closely as the twist will twist!!!  I didn't want  the couching stitching to show so I was "floating " stitches between the strands.
I initially did it too tight and had to take a good deal of it off and redo it...   Found if I pinned it like so I could avoid the twisting and also keep it flat.  I was worried I wasn't going to have enough cording on my spool and I made it by about 1"... too close for comfort.
I found if I inserted the needle at a 45 degree angle from the top (between the strands) and then moved 1/4" to the left and went straight back through that NO stitching showed on either side of the cording... Always working at 45 degrees from the top...



Almost done

The velvet border, border lace and gimp, and the binding with its lace is now on.  Today the cording and this label go on...  Only one more step....the corner motifs...


Have critters?

If you have deer or gophers or both then you must have this plant in your garden...Hellebore  It has so many positives qualities.

It is hardy zones 4-8
Nothing eats it
Blooms early along with daffodils
Has handsome leathery foliage
Is extremely drought tolerant
Medium size
Non invasive
Comes in lots of colors

I first became familiar with this plant because I needed to fill fairly large area with attractive foliage and needed something that was critter-proof and drought tolerant.. I planted the common variety Hellebore foetidus which is attractive but not too pleasant a smell...  which explains why nothing eats it.  I do cut it though and put it in bouquets with daffodils.

I seldom see it in gardens and I'm not sure why because the number of gorgeous hybrids are breath taking...

Just check out the selection at this nursery... http://www.thimblefarms.com/hellebore.html  
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