I promised to show you my (slow) progress today on my piece of Raised Embroidery that we are working on as a small project at Embroiderers' Guild. If you missed the previous post on this you can read it here. I have two flowers left to go, both at the bottom, then 3 tiny critters - an inchworm (padded satin stitch), a Snail (bullions) and a little bumbley bee(bullions). I am enjoying this piece, especially the learning of new stitches. My progress since last time includes leaves in raised backstitch, fishbone and closed fly stitch and the pink flowers in raised backstitch. The raised backstitch is not hard once you catch on, but I must admit, I struggled with the first few leaves and took them out or at least back a ways until I was satisfied with the look... After Choir tonight, I hope to get a little more done as I am now anxious to get this completed and on to something else... like a piece of canvaswork I started a while back... I'll show you this again when it is all finished.. soon I hope..
Next.... Blueberries and Cream....
I need therapy, and stitching is cheaper than a psychiatrist!
Remember that 70's song by the Carpenters? I realize I'm dating myself here... Well it's been a rainy Monday here for sure. A heavy rainfall warning is in effect, actually... I have nothing to show you today- it's been one of those "gotta do it" days- gotta do laundry, ironing, watering plants, writing a letter to a dear friend with an upcoming birthday..etc. But tonight is my monthly Embroiderers' Guild meeting so tomorrow I'll show you my progress on my piece of Raised Embroidery- I'm about 3/4 finished... Also I'll soon be showing you what I have done on my next Miniature Quilt - Blueberries and Cream.... Stay tuned.. and stay dry!
"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." ~ Roger Miller
I've been on a little reading streak lately. Well, actually, if the truth be told, two of these were audio-books - does that count? Listening instead of actually reading the pages...well, whatever, the end result is the same- I've enjoyed all three of these: The Shack by William P. Young, Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. By far my favourite was the latter. Bradley has written a wonderful murder mystery with a precocious 11 year old girl, Flavia de Luce as the central character, with little violence (well, except for the murder of course!), no sex and very little profanity - the odd "bloody" and "damn" are well placed. It is set in 1950 England. There is delightful humour and the characters are well developed. Flavia is a very intelligent young lady with an extensive vocabulary; she has a passion for Chemistry, and an obsession for poisons, in particular arsenic. She solves the mystery with careful thought and resourcefulness - she could teach Nancy Drew a thing or two... Yes I think this will be one of my "Top 5" for the year... well written, clever, witty, easy to read.. two thumbs up from this book lover! I can't wait for the next in Bradley's series with sleuth Flavia- The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag...it is just out a few weeks ago in hard cover. Not so sure I'm going to be able to wait for the paperback...
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body". ~ Joseph Addison
Or..the quilt's not done 'til the label is on! How many of you own a very old quilt or quilt top, and you have no idea who made it- whether it was your Grandmother or Great Grandmother, great Aunt Hilda or who? Wouldn't you like to know who made it and when? It may or may not be a part of your family's history... So unless that work is documented somehow, that history is lost.
So, why should you sign and document your quilt? There are several good reasons: First and most important- your heirs and future generations will appreciate it and will know that YOU made that quilt. Also, the quilt world in general needs to know who made it. Collectors of quilts like to know as much as possible about the quilt and it's maker (museums, historical settlements, etc.) The last reason is pure self-indulgence and personal satisfaction. All artists sign their work. Quilters are artists too!
What info should be included on the label, you ask? I suggest you deal with the 5 W's - Who, What, When Where and Why. Who made it - I always include my maiden name as well, as families often repeat names, or you may have a sister-in-law with the same name. What - the design name (eg. Log Cabin) or your name for the quilt. When and Where - I always put the city and province where I'm living at the time, and include the year in which I finish the piece. Why - if there is a special reason why you made that quilt- a wedding, grad, anniversary, or goodbye gift, etc. - this could be included on the label. This makes it more special and again documents it for future generations which may inherit it someday. You might also deal with the "How". How it was made, how you have used special techniques, or how it is appropriate for the recipient might also be added to the label.
There are many methods you can use for a quick simple label - it does not have to be elaborate. Simply writing the info on a square of cotton or muslin will work just fine and will only take a few minutes. I suggest a good permanent ink fine point pen such as Pigma Micron (the lower the number the finer the point). Prewashing the fabric to remove any sizing (which acts as a barrier to ink penetration), and ironing it to a piece of freezer paper to stabilize it will help prevent "drag" when writing with the pen. You can also purchase printed labels with lovely designs, as you can see above. These can be found individually or by yardage. Labels can be printed with your computer printer, or if your sewing machine does script, you can do a label that way. Woven labels can also be ordered- these are usually just one or two lines such as "Made for You with Love by Grammie". You can also make one extra pieced or appliqued block and use it for your label.
Of course you can do a more elaborate label if you have the time and inclination. Cross-stitch, stamping, stencilling, photo transfers, silk ribbon work, beading, painting with acrylics or fabric dyes- these are all techniques which could be used to make a beautiful label for a very special quilt. I often do a cross-stitched label (but never for a bed quilt or child's quilt which will require washing). Here is the one I just completed for "Midnight Dancer". I cross-stitch the label, then border it with fabric and sew to the back of the quilt; in this case I used up leftover binding strips.
I'll leave you with one final idea - attach your fabric label before the quilting process, and quilt right through the label. As people have begun to realize that quilts are valuable, these treasured items have become worth stealing. Make yours less desirable to a thief by making it impossible to get rid of your documentation. If quilted in so that it must be cut out, this will force the defacing of the quilt and therefore decrease it's value, if they wish to hide it's origin. Another good idea is to sign your signature, in permanent ink pen, right on the backing, under the label or sleeve.
I hope I've given you a few good ideas today.... How many of your quilts have labels? Not all of mine do, but I'm workin' on it!!
The artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.
Pop on over to Evening Star Designs here to see the winners in their 2009 Crazy Quilting Challenge and Contest. Winners were by Viewers' Choice vote. The entries are beautiful - do have a look. If you're not familiar with their website, you'll want to have a look around there too. Carolyn has just added some lovely new overdyed threads by Threadworx - I bet you can't resist!! Piece, Linda Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.
Yesterday was my birthday, so I guess I have to admit I'm now a year older. I don't feel any different... This was my first birthday without either of my kids around, so it was very low key....(no teasing over who got the biggest piece of cake, etc...) I'm past the point of worrying about my age; it's just a number after all. With so many friends lately who have had health probelms, I'm just grateful for every day that I'm healthy, happy and vertical...
The good news is it is now officially SPRING!! We've had unseasonably mild weather lately so it seems spring has been here for a while. Our snow is all gone except for where it was plowed up. We did get a dusting of snow overnight, but it won't last long. I have daffodils that are up and budded and my crocuses are pretty well done... I've never been able to say that before in mid March... Although we've had an easy winter, I'm ready for spring, green, birdies and all the other good stuff that comes with the warmer weather. Bring it on!
Thought I'd share another recipe with you today. My family are all admittedly "chocoholics". Anything related to a birthday celebration must be chocolate... This year I decided to make a favourite cheesecake for my "birthday cake" - it's kept in the freezer so I figured it wouldn't go stale or dry out before hubby and I got it eaten, NOT that anything chocolate would ever go stale in this house!! So here it is.. another Hubbard family favourite...
Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafers
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs, seperated
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325F. Crush chocolate wafers to fine crumbs. (I buy the 200 g. pkg. of Mr. Christie's chocolate wafers). Add melted butter, mix well. Press into 9" springform pan. Sprinkle with nuts, bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring often and being careful not to scorch. Set aside to cool. Seperate eggs, setting yolks aside. Beat whites until soft peaks form, slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar till stiff peaks form. Set aside. Beat whipping cream to a soft peak stage. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese, add sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add egg yolks, beat till smooth. Blend in cooled chocolate, then fold in egg whites, then lastly fold in whipped cream. Pour into cooled crust. Smooth top. Cover well with foil, place in freezer. Remove about 1/2 hour before serving time to soften. Garnish with more chopped nuts, whipped cream or dusting of icing sugar or cocoa.
Note: This should be made a day ahead, it takes overnight to freeze, so cannot be made the same day. This recipe is from one of the Best of Bridge series, "Aces", I believe.
I feel so very fortunate to belong to the groups I do... my Quilters' Guild, the Ladies Choir I sing with, and today I was so grateful that I have re-joined the local Embroiderers' Guild. I attended, along with 4 other members, a lecture at the New Bruswick College of Craft and Design, given by Alastair Macleod, Chairman of Hand and Lock of London England. He is on a world tour and making only two stops in Canada - here and Toronto. Now you are probably thinking "What is Hand and Lock?" I thought the same thing...I'd never heard of it before. I only knew it was somehow linked to Embroidery...
Hand and Lock is a fusion of two great long-established embroidery companies: M. Hand founded in 1767 who specialized in gold wire and silk work and S. Lock founded in 1898, artists in tambour beading. They describe themselves as "the world's finest provider of hand embroidery since 1767". They work with many up and coming designers and famous couturiers, not to mention costume for film and theatre, fine bridal wear and regalia for both the military and royalty. They have worked on costuming for such movies as the Harry Potter series, the Last King of Scotland, Atonement, Sherlock Holmes and Valkyrie, and theatre productions of The Lion King and Wicked. Their work adorns many beautiful gowns worn by Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother, Princess Anne and Princess Diana. They did the embroidery and embellishments on the Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band uniforms for the Beatles. I could go on and on, but you get the picture...
The lecture was most interesting- he not only told us about Hand and Lock and their prestigious international prize for embroidery (the reason for his tour -an annual prize fund of over $20,000. to promote the use of hand embroidery within the fashion, textile , tailoring and soft furnishing industries) but also a most interesting, if abbreviated, history of embroidery. But what I enjoyed most was seeing the samples he brought from the company archives. These photos really do not do them justice, but do give you a little taste of the incredible work... You can watch the same video we saw, here . What a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon... Thank you Alastair!
Another Kumihimo bracelet done... and this one's for me...yippeeee...
Now that Midnight Dancer is finished, I am pondering my next miniature quilt... I'm leaning towards my old favourite combo of blue and white... I found a design today in a magazine which I think I'll give a try, and I already know what I'll call it... "Blueberries and Cream"....
Sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, live like there is no tomorrow...
Today is the day when there are supposedly only two kinds of people in the world- those who are Irish , and those who wish they were! With a maiden name of Kelly, I'm sure there's a little bit of Irish blood in me somewhere, and if not, I'm going to claim it anyway! I've been lucky enough to visit Ireland twice and would dearly love to go again... Someday... (The images here are from the Internet).
The Ladies Choir I'm in sings an Irish blessing, and I have to say, it's one of my favourite pieces in our repetoire. I'd like to share the words with you:
May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again my friend
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
Here it is...98% finished. It's quilted (by machine) and bound. I still have to do a label. And I'm still considering adding a little quilting in the tiny star blocks. Overall measurement is about 16" square. I decided on the name "Midnight Dancer". Daughter Laura came up with that name, actually, after reading Karens' comment about how she liked the way the colors "danced" in the border... Thanks to all who suggested names, especially Wendy. I loved her suggestion of "Stars of Wonder (like I wonder why anyone would want to do that to themsleves, or I wonder if anyone has any idea how long this has taken me, or I wonder how many times I have used my ripper...)" Yes I really liked that suggestion Wendy, but thought it was a bit too long. Of course I had wondered all those things, during the process.... Because I had to send in the registration form for the Show, I had to decide on the name pretty quickly, so Midnight Dancer it is! And because Lee told me I needed to put something in for "scale" so you could see how tiny those little pieced stars really are... here's my seam ripper .... which I DID use more than a few times.... And NO, those teeny ones are NOT paper-pieced.......
Even a small star shines in the darkness. ~ Finnish proverb
Sharon Boggon is running another Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge. You can follow along on Tuesdays on Sharon's wonderful blog. The idea is to learn a new stitch (Sharon is a wonderful teacher and "lessons" are complete with step by step instructions and photos) and then take it and "push it" - vary it, stretch it, layer it, etc. etc. Whatever you can think of to expand the basic stitch.... You can follow each week and see what the participants are doing by checking out their posts and flickr albums... great fun! I am not doing the challenge, but look forward to seeing the new stitch each week, and seeing what all the participants do with it.. Lots of creativity and inspiration there!! I have been working on quilting my latest miniature - Hope to have it finished and bound by tomorrow afternoon in time for a pic for you - check back later tomorrow.
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain.
I have finally put the borders on this fall wallhanging. Over the years I have learned to not purchase border fabric for a quilt or wallhanging, until the top is all together. So many times I have purchased several yards or meters for a border, thinking it would be just perfect for a certain project. Then when I get the top all together and lay the purchased fabric beside it, it just doesn't work. So now I wait until I have the top done. I finished this piece last November at our Guild Retreat (having started it at the previous year's retreat), and just found the chocolate brown for the border a few weeks ago at The Quiltery in Riverview. So now it's ready for quilting. It measures 41" by 52" and it is straight and square, it's just looks angled here because of how I've taken the photo.
This design is from the book Celebrations by Janet Selck. I bought it a "few" years ago, thinking I would make all four seasonal wallhangings as they are just the perfect size for a particular wall in my home... Well I'm not sure that will happen, but at least I have the one done for autumn - I'm either very late for last fall, or really early for the coming one. I prefer to go with the "I'm all organized and ready early" theory...ha!
Have you ever had a project hanging around for so long , that once it's done, you're not sure you even like it anymore? That's the way I feel about this one... Maybe I'm just tired of looking at it...
I'm not 100% happy with some of my fabric choices, in particular I wish I had used slightly darker backgrounds behind the pumpkins, crow and sunflower... There just seems to be too much contrast between the dark brown border and the light backgrounds... Oh well, I'm not taking it apart now! One of my mottos is "Done is good."
"The flowery Spring leads sunny Summer, the yellow Autumn presses near; then in his turn comes gloomy Winter, till smiling Spring again appear: Thus seasons dancing, life advancing, Old Time and Nature their changes tell." ~ Robert Burns
...poking up through the ground! Several bunches of daffodils have decided they have been waiting for spring for long enough. I LOVE to see that first green!! I wish they would keep their heads down for a few more weeks as I'm sure our winter is not fully over, even though it sure has been feeling spring-like. No doubt we'll get some cold nights yet and another snowfall.. I just can't believe we will get off this easy! These bulbs are in a raised bed on the east side of my home so it gets sunshine from sun-up till about 2pm. It is always the first perennial bed to "awaken". I cover all my beds with a good thick layer of leaves, then put on chicken wire to keep it from blowing away in late fall. So I guess it keeps them cozy and warm, and once they start to feel that warm spring sun, they think it's time to grow! I'll have to throw a towel or something over them if we get a real cold night...
I've just finished another great book: Blood Sisters by Barbara and Stephanie Keating. I found it hard to put down, so haven't accomplished much the last few days! It begins in the Kenya Highlands, 1957, with three young girls from very different backgrounds. They become blood sisters and vow that nothing will ever come between them. But as they grow up, love rivalries, broken promises and the tensions and violence of a newly independant Kenya threaten to destroy their bond. Camilla Broughton-Smith becomes a fashion model in 1960's London. Sarah Mackay is sent to university in her native Ireland, an experience which cements her determination to return to her beloved Africa. Hannah van der Beer's family struggles to retain the family farm which has been in the family for several generations. Time after time their strong bond of friendship is almost destroyed. Blood Sisters is the story of painful transition from the ideals and dreams of childhood to the reality of adult life as political unrest, violence and savage murder darken their lives and loves.
I've resolved to not start another book until I get a few quilting projects finished, so check back in a day or two. I'm working on getting borders on a Fall wallhanging - will share photos with you soon...
"Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil." ~ Heber
Today is Laura's birthday! My darling daughter! Growing up as the youngest with older brothers (who loved to tease and torment) I longed for a sister. Never got one, although my Mother told me she did try... So I had always longed for a little girl of my own... We knew she was going to be a girl... actually I really didn't believe it 100% until I actually saw the proof, so to speak... Yes, 19 years ago today I got my little girl! And now she's all grown up! I cannot believe the years have flown by so quickly. Where have those cute little pigtails gone?
Laura was born on International Women's Day, a day of global celebration of the rights and accomplishments of women. Laura has always been strong-willed. It was sometimes a pain when she was little but I'm hoping it will serve her well in this world and she won't be easily led astray. She's a hard worker with clear goals, a mature young woman who is figuring out what she wants in life and going after it.
Happy Birthday Laura. I love you! I'm wishing you sunshine, love and laughter, not just today but all the days after... You are loved for the little girl you were, the special young woman you are now and the precious daugher you will always be.
A daughter is: the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, the hope and promise of the future.
I had "the girls" in for lunch a few days ago...they all wanted the soup and muffin recipes, so decided I would post them here for all to try... The soup recipe is from The Rest of the Best..and more. Vol. 2 (from The Best of Bridge series). See below for my slight modifications.
Beef and Barley Soup
1 1/2 lbs. beef round steak, cut into 1/2" cubes
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. dried Thyme
2 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup pearl barley
chopped fresh parsley to garnish, optional
Sprinkle beeef cubes with salt and pepper. Place 1 Tbsp. oil in dutch oven and brown beef until no longer pink. Set aside. Heat remaining oil in same pot and add onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook 5 minutes more. Add beef and chicken broths with water, barley and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water if necessary. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley just before serving.
Note: I reduced the salt, and used a little more carrot and thyme. This is a delicious easy soup; it makes a wonderful rich dark tasty broth. Yummy served with crusty rolls and a crisp salad. I used an old favourite- romaine, chopped orange segments, sliced red onion and toasted slivered almonds, tossed with poppyseed dressing.
This Chocolate Cheesecake Muffin recipe is from Muffin Mania. Again, see below for my "modifications" to the original recipe... I know, I know, I just can't leave well enough alone...
Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins
1 3oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 Tblsp. white sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup w. sugar
3 Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cooking oil
icing sugar, optional
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese amd 2 tblsp. sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside.
In large bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of dry ingds. Combine egg, milk and oil. Add all at once to dry ingds., stirring just until moistened. Spoon about 2 Tblsp. of batter into each greased muffin cup . Drop 1 tsp. of cream cheese mixture on top and then cover with more chocolate batter. Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, if desired.
Note: I add a few drops of almond extract to the cream cheese mixture, and drop a few chocolate chips into each muffin with the cream cheese before covering with rest of batter. Mmmmmm
You can't have everything...where would you put it?
When I started this Blog a little over a year ago, I said I wished I had kept a list of all the books I've read through the years... I realize it would be quite long by now, perhaps a whole journal full, who knows... but I do sincerely regret not doing this. So I decided I would start a list on my sidebar. I am amazed how long it is already; it is about two years' worth of reading for me... I keep adding to it each time I finish a book I have enjoyed (a few have not made the list as I would not recommend them).
My latest "finish" is Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which I read several years ago. I enjoyed this one every bit as much. The story of two sisters, Pearl and May, begins in pre-World War II Shanghai, then following the Japanese invasion, moves to the US and eventually LA's Chinatown. Although the girls enjoyed a life of privilege in their early years, they soon learn of their father's huge debt; he sells them to become the wives of two brothers - Gold Mountain men (Chinese who went to America to seek their fortune, then later returned to find Chinese brides). Even after fleeing Shanghai, the sisters face many trials and life is never easy. The story is a compelling one, rich with vivid imagery of Chinese culture and tradition... Well worth the read, in my humble opinion...
Last night I began another wonderful book - Blood Sisters by Barbara and Stephanie Keating. I'm only 73 pages in, and already finding it hard to put down. Stay tuned for a review...
So what are you reading? Any great books you can recommend?
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese proverb
When dear daughter was home in December and saw me working on a Kumihimo bracelet to give to a friend as a Christmas gift, she dropped a broad hint that she would like one as well. Since her birthday was approaching and I wasn't too flush with gift ideas, I figured a bracelet made while she was home for Spring Break would be a good idea, as I wouldn't have to mail it to her. So last week, I got busy and got this one finished. She wanted blue and I was lucky to strike my favourite bead shop, The Beadnik, just after she got in a good shipment of the top-drilled pearls so there were lots of color choices. You couldn't get much BLUE-er than this, could you!
I love making these bracelets. Choosing the beads and then seeing how they look as they are "woven" together is so much fun. I have another one underway... for me!! Stay tuned...
"The only gift is a portion of thyself." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I joined the local Embroiderer's Guild last October. I had belonged years ago, but let my membership lapse as I just became too busy with two young children. So now that they have both flown the coop, I mean nest, I decided to re-join this year. A number of the faces were familiar to me and it's good to renew friendships.
In January a new project was presented to us with all materials ready in a kit. I decided to jump in and give it a whirl. Barb did up the kits with silk fabric, all threads, needles and instructions. I believe she designed the piece as well.
Quoting from her introduction: "Embroidery has been a part of human society for all of recorded history. Before then, archeological evidence(embellished fabric and animal hides) suggests that needlework existed in one form or another much farther back in prehistoric times. As humans travelled or migrated they exchanged goods and knowledge, including embroidered fabric and embroidery threads.
1558-1603: Elizabeth I of England was an accomplished embroiderer who greatly influenced needlework. Her keen interest spread throughout the upper classes. Small embroidered items were often presented as gifts to hosts of social functions. During this time the middle class gained some disposable income and began emulating the embroidery of the upper classes. As a result, Sumptuary Laws were enacted to restrict the use of embroidered clothing to only those earning a certain income. (Imagine!!)
During the Elizabethan period, the depiction of botanical subjects were popular. Since gardens were also popular, they became the inspiration for embroideries that depicted colourful and subtly shaded flowers, vegetables, trees, landscapes, animals, birds and insects. Often a number of plant types would sprout from a single branch or stem, as in this project."
Reference: Alderson, Chottie. A Quick Run Through History.
So.... above is my piece, progress so far...What you see is the upper section. There is still more to be done. I haven't done embroidery this fine for quite a while, but I must say I'm enjoying it. Most of it is done with one strand of floss. Stitches so far include wrapped chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, padded satin stitch, fishbone stitch, straight stitch, and French knots. I'll post another photo when it is done. Now that the Olympics are over, perhaps I'll progress more quickly. I sure didn't accomplish much last night during that Hockey Game!! Way to go Sidney Crosby! What a great feeling- seeing a Maritime boy score that golden goal!!