Sunday, November 22, 2015

It's almost turkey day -- are you ready for it?  As of yesterday, we are: we picked up the bird and all the fixings on a crowded Saturday at the markets.  As I walked around the grocery store and noticed what was in everyone's cart, I thought it was interesting just how traditional the American Thanksgiving meal is.  We were all buying much the same stuff!
I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to my son coming home for the holiday!  Although he's just 3 hours away, he has not been home since he left for school in August and I can't wait to be under the same roof with him!
We had a BLIZZARD last week.  Oh, it was painful.  Normally I love the snow but this storm was somehow so rough -- it was cold and inconvenient and icy and desolate, and instead of enjoying the change I felt like a fish out of water.  The dreariness may have had something to do with the mood in the world after the bad news from Paris.
A tag I made out of frustration last week
Now that the first storm of the season is behind us I hope to be able to fall back in love with the winter wonderland the next time it hits.
And, we will probably get our first chance to do that on Thanksgiving Day -- snow in the forecast!
That sampler I made is decorating a corner of our console now -- I am more in love with it than ever!
At The Broadmoor they have been putting lights up for weeks now, and Christmas decorating is underway!  I can't wait to see it when it's all in place.  The photo above is of the Christmas House, a small house down the street from where I work that is COMPLETELY decorated in sparkling Christmas decor.  Every room has a different, Christmas-y theme with trees galore and everything for sale. I visited it on my lunch hour the other day and was enchanted.
Rebecca and I stopped at a favorite store last weekend (after striking out at the local craft fair) and I snapped a couple of photos of all the Christmas inspiration for you!
Are you swooning yet?  As much as I am looking forward to Thanksgiving I am chomping at the bit to jump into the Christmas season, too!
Over a few evenings last week I got out the last of my printed-on-muslin Christmas images that I bought from The Little Pink Studio last year, and stitched them on to Christmas fabrics and/or burlap.
I plan to make (what else?) a Christmas fabric book for myself.  Last year I made several and wished I could have kept one for me!
On this one (above) I tried for the very first time to free-stitch on my sewing machine around the image.  It's not too bad for a first attempt -- but I do plan to cover some of the wonky parts up with other embellishments!  
 I may decided to make one little book of just the woodland/deer pictures.
Last night I got out some of my Christmas stash and picked out some trims and pieces to begin to embellish these pages!
Besides one swap I'm doing, this is the only Christmas crafting I believe I will have time to do this year.  Which is perfectly okay with me -- I have so many beautiful Christmas things to enjoy, and even some not-finished-projects from last year to work with!
Like this...
and these, which may all end up as part of the aforementioned fabric book.  I can hardly wait!
I decorated a little paper book in a winter/Christmas theme the other day, just for fun.  I love the lushness of the velvet bow, and the way the little mitten picks up the blue in her hat.
This orange depression glass basket used to belong to my grandmother.  I filled it with potpourri and put it out this year, and I'm glad I did.  It reminds me of her.  To all my American friends, I wish you a beautiful holiday week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Tag Tuesday prompt of childhood memories and a best friend

I've made a commitment lately to participate in the Tag Tuesday blog, where we have a weekly theme and create and post a tag.  This week's theme was "Minibeasts" -- aka, bugs.  It was a challenge.  I personally am not a real bug person.  I admit that while I admire bees and such, I don't particularly care for them, nor do they inspire me to want to make art -- not even butterflies.  So after a lot of thought, I ended up making this tag based upon a favorite book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
Charlotte, you'll remember, was a spider who befriended a small pig named Wilbur and saved his life with some clever web-writing.  Now, I must tell you, of all the beasties in the whole beastie realm, spiders are my least favorite.  I am actually very afraid of them, and have been all my life.  I well remember hearing about Charlotte's Web when I was in first or second grade and being sure I wouldn't care for it -- being about a spider and all.  But E.B. White had a way with words, and he spun a yarn so compelling that I doubt there's a child in my generation who didn't admire Charlotte and shed some tears over the story.
The base of my tag is a 1930's report card, with hand written grades.  Note that the student had earned an A+ in literature -- a girl after my own heart.  I added a snowy farm scene, and the tag is topped with a small piece of "hardware" that made me think of an old barn.
As I was creating this tag my heart and mind traveled back 45 years or so and I remembered a dear friend I had when I was a little girl; her name was Amanda.  I realize now that Amanda was an old soul in a little girl's body.  She was very creative and fun-loving, and always had something up her sleeve.  She was in fact the ring leader in all my lower primary school antics.  On the first day of school in first grade she walked right up to me and said, Hi, I'm Amanda.  Do you want to be friends? I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life -- I felt so accepted!  She became my best friend, and when she and her family moved away in 4th grade it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me in my young life.
When I was a child, I was very shy.  Amanda wasn't.  In fact, she was quite bold and did not suffer from a lack of self-esteem.  She brought me out of my shell.  My favorite memory of Amanda is how we'd meet before class and she'd give me a little gift -- a homemade book.  A tiny little book, about 1-1/2" with 10 or 12 pages, that told a story, complete with crayoned pictures.  One that I particularly remember was Caterpillars on Parade.  We were CRAZY about fuzzy caterpillars -- ha!  Look at that buried memory -- a beastie I actually like!  

Each page in Amanda's little book was a colorful caterpillar with a description and a name.  I was so in love with my tiny book gift that I immediately went home and made one for her, which I brought to her the next day.  We exchanged books like that for a few weeks -- and I kept those little books until I was in my 30's.  By then they were well-loved and thumbed through, dog-eared and smeared: cherished.
Another special memory of Amanda is a game she made up when we were in 3rd grade or so.  I don't remember if the game had a name, but it consisted of a series of clues, or notes, hidden in the pages of books at our school's little library.  Amanda gave me the first clue, and then I had to find the next one and the next by solving the clues hidden all over the library in the unlikeliest books you can imagine!  I am quite struck now by how detail-oriented and creative Amanda must have been, to come up with these plans.  And it wasn't just literary games we played -- we also had a stuffed animal and doll tea party one lunch period, which required many days of planning and a forbidden trip Off Campus into the fields surrounding our school, and many more adventures.
Every summer Amanda and her family took a vacation, while my family never did.  I remember waiting by the mailbox for the postcards she'd send, colorful photos with vivid descriptions of their travels.  Then one summer, she went away and didn't come back.  At first we were pen pals, but soon she was writing to me about cheerleading, and boy-girl dances at her new school in another state, and after a while the letters stopped.  I'm sure we both outgrew writing them, but I'm also sure it took me longer to get there.
What does any of this have to do with Charlotte's Web, you may be wondering.  Just this: Charlotte the spider was very much like Amanda.  She was somehow older, or at least more mature than I was, and certainly wiser, and she always had the best ideas.  She schemed and then made the schemes happen.  She knew words I didn't, and used them, and had been known to brag quite a bit.  She was fearless.  Most of all, she was an important and very faithful friend to me, who went away. Like Wilbur, I was sure I wouldn't be able to live without Amanda, but of course I did.
Amanda and I got back in touch when we were in our 20's.  By then she'd married and had four children!  I'm sure she was a fabulous mother.  When my son was born, we made plans to get together and we made that happen, too, twice!  Being with her was like being with family, and her children were amazing and reminded me of her as a child!  It was such a special gift.  I know if we lived near each other, Amanda would be a part of my "tribe" of artists and writers.
Amanda holding my son Ben, with her husband
We have lost touch again for some years now but I intend to re-discover her, someday.  She has always been one of the most important people in my life.  I'm thankful for the Tag Tuesday blog, the tag prompt, and the journey of remembering and contemplating that it took me on this week!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Autumn Colors Wall Hanging Quilt

At it again.  This time, I started with another little quilt/sampler I pieced back in May; I blogged about it here.  It was a collage-like mix of similar-toned fabrics.  It only took a couple of hours to go from this:
to this; now, it's finished!
I love that it's kind of curvy and wonky--not all straight lines and corners.
I loved the print of the cars, but not the words so much, so I covered one line up with a strip of ribbon trim...
laced through an old, early plastic buckle.
Do you see the painted wooden button in the upper right corner?
The detail of the orange bordered doily is with the millinery flower sewn on it is probably my favorite detail.
I also really like the rectangular crocheted doily insert topped with the blue and orange buttons.  Isn't it surprising how well the orange and blue go together?

I had fun layering this part: the fabric under the doily, the fabric point over the doily, and the leaf-shaped embellishment on top of the doily.
Another very satisfying little project!  What's on your worktable?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Winter white wall hanging quilt

This project  began last year, when I had an urge to create something for winter in whites and non-traditional Christmas colors.  I was inspired by the cool tones of blue and pink, plus some wonderful textile pieces I'd received from friends.  I chose some printed muslin scenes of old fashioned winter moments and laid them out this white barkcloth decorated with roses that I've been hoarding for years now.
Last year I created the four "squares", sewed them to the fabric and began to embellish it.  But at some point I became tired of it, and then put it away.  It looked like this at that point:
So, the other day I was restless after work and I pulled it out and got re-inspired.  I went through my newly organized embellishments -- fabric, lace, millinery flowers, trims and buttons -- and made a pile.  It was so much fun!  And, can I gush again about how much easier it is to be creative when your things are all in their proper place?  From that point, I was able to finish it very quickly.
I think my favorite part of the quilt is this soft white, silver and pink section.  I sewed the angel image onto a pretty, old doily with blue-ish, lavender crocheted trim around it.  The doily sits over piece of a white and silver handkerchief, and all of it is over a piece of sheer white fabric.  One side is adorned with part of a pink doily.
I wanted to accent more of the pink, so I finished it by sewing bright pink beads over the flowers on the branch on the base fabric.
Below it is where I really got going with this cool toned shade of blue.  The base is a vintage silk man's tie...
I edged it with trim and laces, and filled in the bare spots with delicate fabric flowers in beige.  The winter scene of a man and woman walking in the snowy woods is stitched over lace and decorated with more trim.
That fabulous blue button is made of celluloid and is quite old.  I love it's chunkiness, and the embossed flowers on it.  That blue/grey/red edged ribbon is special to me because it came from French General!
 This quilt was an especially great "bed" on which to "plant" millinery flowers!
and new!
The base of this square is another lovely piece of wintry bark cloth gifted by a friend; the muslin print is of a woman in soft blue carrying a holly branch.  I edged her with more greenish-blue hued trim and a clear, lavender button.  I started building around it all with laces; the final touch was some silver gimp and old embroidered flower trim.
I also used some fabulous old tinsel running down one side, and ending in a heart shape.

The final square is a mix of neutral fabrics and lots of texture, with a little bit of blue thrown in to balance it with the rest of the quilt.
The muslin image I used on this square shows two women walking together on a cold winter's day.  They are cozy in their coats and hats.  I edged the square on one side with a favorite gathered fabric, and on the other with a sheer lacy embellishment; under all of that is a lovely vintage square cut from an embroidered tablecloth.
I was given this BEAUTIFUL piece of beaded fabric and wanted to do something special with it -- so it became the topper of this design.  I think the lush beading echoes the women's warm winter clothes.  And, did you notice the sparkly plastic and paste-embedded button?

The final touch was edging the entire quilt with this vintage white trim.
I'm satisfied with this little work of art for so many reasons:
first, because it feels great to finish an unfinished project; second, because it contains so many elements I love and have been saving for something special; and third because of the way the pink "pops" on it!  I love that it's Christmas-y, but not too -- so I can keep it up after the holidays!  I hope this INSPIRES you to get out some of your lovely things and start to stitch!