STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Blooms

I know this is "CQ Monday" but I have no CQ progress to show today. I had to make an unexpected trip to NS last week, as my daughter was quite ill. I was away longer than I had anticipated, and ended up bringing her home. After several visits to a Doctor, bloodwork, and meetings with Profs and Dept. Heads, she has her exams deferred until January, as well as several essays/papers. So she's home now until January. We are still waiting for bloodwork results. So therefore, I have no stitching to show you. If I can get a good amount done in the next few days, I'll share some pics with you. However this week is going to be a busy one, so I'm not promising. And my number one priority right now is getting Laura healthy again... I'm sure lots of rest in her own comfy bed and lots of Momma's good cookin' will help...
My friend Gail M has posted pics of her progress this week - be sure to check her out here.
I have a beautiful Amaryllis in bloom as you can see here. It is called Apple Blossom, and the delicate pink and white coloring certainly does remind me of apple blossoms in spring. What a joy it is to have some fresh blooms to enjoy at this time of year when all outside is dreary......


Sometimes life gets in the way....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

San Nicolo

You may be wondering where I've been the last few days, as I missed my promised post on Friday. Well, I have a good "excuse". I had to make a quick unplanned trip to Halifax on Thursday and just got home tonight.
So here is my third beaded Santa - this is San Nicolo. He is # MHCSF13 in the series. He measures 4 1/2" tall. Again, I have taken the liberty to make a few color changes on his hat. I enjoy doing San Nicolo as his beard is one of the simpler designs. Hope you like him. Next Friday I hope to have St. Nicholas ready to show you.
Cherish the past, dream the future, live today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Olympic Torch was here!

The torch has passed through Fredericton. What an exciting day! Despite the wet weather thousands of NB'ers lined the route today to see the Olympic torch pass by. I went downtown this evening to the big celebration in Officer's Square where all the festivities were to take place. The atmosphere was exciting - there was a huge crowd and I have to say I felt proud to be a Canadian! Seeing all the red mitts, RBC tambourines and Canadian flags waving in the air was every bit as exciting as being on Parliament Hill on July 1st. The entertainment put on by the sponsors, Coca Cola and Royal Bank, was excellent as were the local performers.

But the highlight was seeing Marianne Limpert, our "own" Olympic silver medalist, run the torch through the crowd and up onto the stage. I could have touched her, and I could feel the heat off the flame when she ran by me. I was very close to the stage and had my camera battery not died after this ONE picture was taken earlier, I could have had some great shots. Don't think I wasn't kicking myself for that stupid oversight. Of all the times to not have checked my camera battery level!! Duhhhh!
So you'll just have to believe me when I say I was there to see the torch, and I am a proud Canadian!

For those of you to the west, who are still awaiting the arrival of the torch and it's entire entourage, take my advice and make the effort to go see it when it is passing nearby. It is an emotional experience, one not to be missed.


Oh Canada! GO Canada!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I dislike November. There's just no way around it. I find November and March are my least favourite months. The weather is usually less than desirable, although I must admit we have been lucky this year- it has been unseasonably warmer than usual this month. There is little color- the leaves have fallen, things are dull and brown (no offence to those of you who love brown!). The gardens are put to bed, the ground is freezing, the cold weather is coming, the days are getting too short. Bah humbug! I guess this is why I start my "hibernation" of sorts at this time of year.
I have tried to make myself see beauty in the monotone colors of November. But I love color, so it's difficult! Yesterday morning there was a good frost so I grabbed my camera and went outside for a few minutes to see what I could see... And there is still much beauty if you look for it... Both of these shots were taken within a few feet of my door. We have a fox in our neighbourhood. I think he has a home not far from mine, down on the golf course. He goes through our yard almost daily, showing no fear of people. If I can ever get a decent shot of him, I'll share, but he is quick - and he hasn't learned to pose...
Maybe we should be grateful that November comes when it does- giving us the opportunity to get going on stitching and sewing projects for Christmas. And speaking of being grateful, Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends !!
Autumn days are almost gone,
Frost is sparkling on the lawn,
Windows winking cheerful lights
Warm the cold November nights.

Monday, November 23, 2009

CQ Monday, Week 3

Here are a few more photos of my CQ progress. It isn't going as quickly as I would like, but I guess this is not fast work...I have spent a fair bit of time going through embellishments, beads, buttons, etc. planning what is going to go where... I suppose that can be considered "progress"- I just can't "prove it" with photos...but all will be revealed in good time!! lol

I am really enjoying this handwork (yes I know my machine is feeling neglected...). I have had fun with the silk ribbon embroidery "nosegay" above, even though it hasn't turned out quite how I had envisioned. It is about 90% done, still a little more to be added... I really questioned my colour scheme in the beginning: peach and pink together? with some plummy mauve? But I am happy with how it is turning out. What do you think? I don't often work with "pastels" so this is a bit of a stretch for me... I found a beautiful enamelled butterfly in my stash - can't wait to put it on - it is so perfect for the color scheme.

A few more seams have been completed- you can see above I have completed the drift of french knots. I'm now wondering if I shouldn't "fill in" the "leaves" - perhaps some green silk ribbon, rather than the detached chain stitches...? What do you think? Below it is a row of Up and Down Buttonhole done in pink silk buttonhole twist thread.

Above the tatted piece to the right is a row of Closed Buttonhole, in yellow perle 8, with splayed straight stitches done in a mauve perle 12. (Again, you can click on these photos for a closer look).

In this area I have added some bugle and seed beads to a row of layered Herringbone, and threaded some narrow silk ribbon through a piece of tatted edging.
Thats all for today's "Show and Tell"... Tune in next Monday for more photos...

The greatest accomplishment is to make work seem simply like play.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here's Father Christmas

Here's the second of my stitched and beaded Santas. This is Father Christmas, one of the Charmed Santa Faces from a Mill Hill kit. I introduced these last week and you can see that post here. Father Christmas is #MHCSF14. I have changed the colors of his hat from the pattern's suggestion of blue and purple. I just couldn't see putting a blue hat on Santa!!
I am having fun working on these Santas again this year, knowing that I will have a few of them on MY tree this time around. They are my evening project while "watching" TV. However, the beading is becoming increasingly difficult as Ollie has now discovered that beads are even more fun than threads. Hmmm, gotta come up with a new system that's "cat-proof"...
Next Friday I'll show you San Nicolo.


Love is the light of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's your favourite Stitchery book?

I have quite a few reference books for Crazy Quilting and I like them all for different reasons. I thought I'd share two with you today which I feel are excellent resource books.

When you want to learn how to do a new stitch, you can't beat A-Z of Embroidery Stitches. It is published in Australia by Country Bumpkin Publications. It is without a doubt the best book I have seen as a teaching tool for learning embroidery stitches. What I really like about it is the fact that all illustrations are actual photos, and every step of making the stitch is shown, from start to completion. So, if you have gone wrong at some point, you can see exactly where, by comparing your work with the photos, step by step. There are over 80 stitches shown, many of them with several or more variations as well. It is an excellent book, I cannot recommend it enough, if you are looking for a good book to learn embroidery stitches from. There is an A-Z of Embroidery Stitches, Volume 2. I think it might be on my Christmas Wish List... There are a number of other books in Country Bumpkin's A-Z series as well - on Quilting, Knitting, Smocking, Stumpwork, Bullions, Crewel, Needlepoint, etc. etc. Worth checking out, for sure!
The other book I have been using a lot is Quilt Savvy - Embroidery Stitches by Joan Waldman. It is published by AQS (American Quilter's Society of Paducah KY). This is not a "How To" book, but rather an ideas book. There are 12 basic stitches which are shown with a number of variations and combinations. I love looking through this book when I'm wanting a new stitch variation. It is not in color, but the illustrations are very clear and easy to "read". There are over 100 pages of stitch variations and combinations! Wow! And you can see here, that there is a lot on each page.

I'm working away on my CQ stocking, and will have lots to show you next "CQ Monday".

My soul is fed by needle and thread.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CQ Monday

I finally have a few pics to share with you of my CQ stocking. I have finally gotten back to it, and it feels good!! Alas, I have not accomplished as much as I had hoped this past week, but I find just getting started is the biggest hurdle. Once you have it out and all threads and supplies organized, then the rest comes more easily. I spent some time searching through supplies to find just the right beads, buttons, etc. which I want to use. Now that I have it "all together" it's easier to decide what to do on a particular seam. I often choose a particular seam treatment based on the embellishment I plan to use - beads or whatever. So I like to have it all "visible" while I work... That's a challenge when Ollie is around, as he seems to think I have it all there for HIM to play with... Hmmm, I'm sure he must have been a quilter or stitcher in his former life, as he seems to like all this stuff as much as I do!! He loves to run away with a ball of perle cotton or a skein of silk in his mouth...

Anyway.. here is what I've done in the last few (too brief) stitching episodes... I did the seam behind this tatted piece in a Chevron stitch, using a variegated cotton by Caron (Wildflowers), and added some straight stitches in a perle 12, detached chain stitches (or "lazy daisy") in a silk buttonhole twist and some small gold beads. I finished off the featherstitch which runs through the tatting with some tiny sequins and beads and added the "dangle" in the middle with beading. (Click on photos for a closer look)

I did this seam in a double featherstitch and added pearls. This thread is a variegated from Stef Francis, one of my favourites to work with. The seam below it is not quite finished yet but there's enough here for you to get the idea. I did a chain stitched "vine", added some leaves with detached chain, and am in the process of doing the French knots in Pearl Crown Rayon - two shades of rose, and an overdyed Silk Twist 8 by Eterna Silk. I think this will be one of my favourite "areas" once it's done.

I also removed some stiching I had done before that I've been mulling over and decided it just had to go. I found a beautiful wide sheer ribbon to cover that area, still considering whether it is "just right"...? So you can just see a bit of it at bottom of photo. I'll show you a closeup once that area is done for good! A woman is allowed to change her mind, right?

That's all for today. Be sure to check out my friend Gail M to see what she is showing today for CQ Monday...
Old stitchers never die.... they just get tied up in knots, come unravelled... and rip away!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Starting the Christmas Countdown...

Now that Remembrance Day is past, it's time to start thinking about Christmas preparations. I start gradually getting out decorations anytime after Nov. 11, and begin working ( if I haven't already started) on stitching ornaments and making gifts. A number of years ago I picked up some Mill Hill kits for cross-stitched and beaded old fashioned Santas. I have made probably beteween 60 and 70 of these over the last 8 years or so, and given every single one away! So - this year I have promised myself, no one gets one until I have one of each design for my own tree. So I'm sharing the first one with you today - and each Friday for the next few weeks, I'll show you another.
This first one is my favourite to do; I think I could almost stitch it without the pattern! He is called Saint Nick. He is 4.5" tall, and 2" wide at the widest part of his beard. Each Santa face is stitched on perforated paper, then beaded. I finish them by ironing a light or medium weight fusible interfacing to the back - this covers all the little thread ends, and just makes for a neater back. Then I trim away the excess paper, glue the hat to the head with a hot glue gun and add a thread hanger. Each one takes roughly 8 - 9 hours total. I'd hate to add up the hours I have spent on these over the years! It would scare me, I'm sure, but I enjoy working on something when I sit down in the evenings to "watch" TV. Plus I love giving special friends something I have made myself...
These kits may still be found in some needlework shops- or at least they could be ordered. The series is called "Charmed Santa Face" (1999) and there are 6 in this particular series. Saint Nick is # MHCSF18. Next Friday I'll show you Father Christmas.


Family is the best part of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day...

November 11. Remembrance Day. Veterans Day. Armistice Day. Whatever you call it the purpose is the same: to remember those who fought and died so that we could be free, and to honor those who survived. I found this little poem on the Internet (no mention of the author) and I like it's message. As you remember the fallen today, take a moment to also think of the veterans who are still with us, and say a prayer for those who are currently serving overseas in Afghanistan, or as peacekeepers elsewhere.

They Survived

When you pin that poppy on,
And remember those who died,
Remember too, the men who fought
Beside them, and survived.

They came home to start again
But struggled with their mind
To forget the horror of the days
And the Hell they left behind.

Wounded though they did not bleed
They cried for close friends lost,
But fought on bravely, for they knew
Freedom was worth the cost.

Though they are old and scarred for life,
They suffered for us all,
And in their dreams, the battles rage
And fallen comrades call.

So, when you hear that honor roll
The names of those who died,
Remember too the men who fought
Beside them, and survived.


Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory. ~ George Patton

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Stitchin'....

Last Monday my friend Gail M issued a "challenge " of sorts- in hopes it would get both of us moving on Crazy Quilting again. Although I was away at the Retreat, I told her I would join in, although I wouldn't have anything to show before today. We both have CQ stockings we want to get back to; they have been (not so patiently?) awaiting our return...

So today I know Gail is waiting to see what I have to show. Well, perhaps I have failed the "CQ Challenge", but I do have some stitching to share. I had started this Herringbone Sampler and really wanted to finish it before I actually started back at the stocking. So here you go- this is another in my series of samplers to explore CQ stitches, showing variations, combinations and permutations of a basic stitch... Click on the photo for a closer look. I use these Samplers in my classes to help students see there are many different possibilities once you learn how to do the basic stitch. Often when I have a class, there is a wide range of skill levels. Much of my time is usually spent with the beginners helping them learn the basic stitches. These samplers help the more experienced students take their stitching to another level, by showing them lots of ideas for expansion on the basic stitch. So often you can layer, stack and combine sitches for a totally different look. The use of different colors of threads, mixing solids and variegateds, and using different weights of threads will add interest and variety.

So this is my Show and Tell for today. I am going to get back at my stocking this week and if I make good progress in the next few days, I will share a photo or two with you before next Monday. You can see some of my other samplers here, here and here.
If I stitch fast enough, does it count as an aerobic exercise?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Another successful Retreat

Another Guild annual Retreat has come and gone. What fun we had. When you get 32 quilters together for several days, not only is there lots of chatter and laughter, there is also much accomplished. We all look forward to this getaway all year long, knowing it will be good times with good friends and also an opportunity for some serious sewing time. To be able to devote three whole days to nothing but sewing, if one chooses, is pure bliss. No phone calls, no laundry, no meals, dishes or grocery shopping, what more could a gal ask for? Of course there is a Quilt Shop nearby so one can take a little shopping break if the mood hits...

As usual, this Retreat did not disappoint. The meals were great, the company was exceptional and the sewing projects were inspiring. The Show and Tell on the final night was amazing! We are lucky to have several members who are great entertainers, and they kept us in continual laughter. From Nurse Willa's offer to give us all our H1N1 shot with a huge syringe attached by hose to a gallon of green "vaxine", to Marg's poem about a sex change on our beloved "mascot" Annie, there was much merriment. Laughter truly must be the best medicine, because we all leave the Retreat feeling rejuvenated and several years younger.

It's always interesting to see the variety of projects that are being worked on. I hauled out a fall wallhanging that I had started at Retreat two years ago, and not touched since. I was pleased to get the top completed except for borders. Now I'm on a search for the perfect border fabrics. Some worked on UFO's as well (that's UnFinished Objects) while others started and finished completely new projects. There was everything from king-sized bed quilts to small wallhangings, I Spy, Quilt as you Go, paper-piecing, jellyroll projects from Bali Pops, projects from diecut kits and original works. Lois brought blocks she had sewn in Florida last winter and got both put together- one king-sized, the other a queen size I believe (shown at left and above). I still love a scrap quilt and these two were beauties. My buddy Sue worked on a diecut kit project- a very colorful version of Storm at Sea - I told her she'll have to name it "Sunset Storm".
There were bright batiks and pastel prints, fuzzy flannels and preprinted panels. Sewing machines hummed from early morning till late into the wee hours. Some got caught up on rest and others did not get near enough sleep. But we all came home happy.... happy to be a part of such a great group of talented friends and happy to be addicted to quilting!
You can see a few more Retreat photos here on our Guild Blog.
Friends fill your life with joy, your soul with sunshine and your heart with love.
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