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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Take A Stitch Tuesday Week 4...Cretan stitch

Our world is white today here in Freddy Beach! Yesterday's storm has left us with a clean fresh white blanket.. I don't mind the snow, I just don't like the cold that accompanies it! Hope you enjoyed those summer blossoms I posted last night- at least they remind us that summer is on its way...
Here is this week's stitching - I finished up last night as the freezing rain beat on the window behind me. Sharon challenged us with Cretan stitch this week. It is another of my favourites. I had done a simple sampler before (right) with the basic variations - changing the length, spacing, and slant of the stitch, also layering and stacking. And this week I did another sampler (below). I can't seem to get away from the sampler idea. Guess I'm more focused on "seam treatments" than the wonderful creative things some participants are doing.. Hope you like my efforts...

 In this sampler, the first two rows are "layered" Cretan - the first , two layers with the same Stef Francis hand-dyed fine perle with French knots added; the second row is done with a heavier Stef Francis hand-dyed thread on the bottom and a second layer "woven " on top with a DMC perle 8. The third row is just a very small fine Cretan done with a variegated brown Valdani, with straight stitches added in  a DMC perle 8. The next row shows the Cretan done with a DMC perle 8, and straight stitches added with a variegated fine perle and a DMC perle 12. The fifth row is four rows of stacked Cretan, the top two in perle 8, the bottom two in perle 5. In the last row I have "married" Cretan first with Herringbone and then with Chevron stitch - doing "half a stitch" of each. This thread is a beautiful Sassa Lynne perle 5 hand-dyed called "Summer Forest".

And a closer view...
Click here and go to comments (at top of post) to see what others around the world have done this week with the Cretan stitch.


"If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life?" ~Harvey Fierstein

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tired of Winter?

January... winter... cold... snow... ice... cold... poor driving.. cancellations.. did I mention cold?  And have I mentioned I dislike winter? It's almost the end of the month and I guess, really, I shouldn't be complaining as we have gotten off fairly lucky so far. But we are getting hammered with a storm today/tonight. Snow, ice pellets, and now freezing rain. Yuch! So...... I thought if you, like me, are suffering from A.F.D. (that's Acute Flower Deprivation), and longing for warmer might enjoy a little summer memory.. here are some summer blooms to add a little color to your day. Enjoy! (Mark is enjoying 80 F temps in Miami this weekend...lucky him...)


Hope that warmed you up a bit!!  Spring IS coming...eventually...


"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle... a seed waiting to sprout... a bulb opening to the light...a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream." ~ Barbara Winkler

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Lucky Am I ?

You can probably tell I'm in my "January hibernation mode".. I haven't been posting as often lately- some days I just can't think of anything to talk about... hard to believe, I know! We have had some very cold days, and I often don't go out unless I really have to. Some days I don't make it any further than the mailbox (which is two steps from the front door  haha!) Our weather has been odd though, for January in Canada. We have very little snow, and yesterday and today it is above freezing - today is sunny and quite lovely actually. (Hubby is detailing a truck right now in the garage, with the door wide open...)
 So, you ask - what have I been doing? Well, I've been busy with my favourite January activities: reading, stitching and some quilting. I've finished Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, and am almost through Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (loving it). Next on the list is The Postmistress written by Sarah Blake. Hubby and I don't go to movies that often, but we seem to have been on a bit of a streak lately, seeing 4 movies since Christmas! Hugo, 
War Horse, We Bought A Zoo and Joyful Noise. Enjoyed them all! There are two more currently playing which I hope to see as well- The Descendants (who could resist the chance to see George Clooney AND beautiful Hawaiian scenery on the same screen?) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a 9-11 story (I've been told to take a lot of Kleenex). Of course I'm busy stitching away with Sharon's weekly stitching challenge (this week's stitch is the Cretan) and I have another cross-stitch on the go- Heart in Hand's Christmas Medley which was back-ordered for two months - of course it would arrive after Christmas, but I'll certainly have it ready for Laura for next Christmas.
I do have to show you what a dear friend did for me recently. My friend Donna (who is a wonderful knitter) took this Silk Rumple yarn which I had purchased at least 5 years ago, and knit it up into this lovely scarf/shawl. Isn't it scrumptious? This is the second knitting project Donna has done for me recently. How lucky am I? Thanks Donna, you are a sweetheart! I am sooo lucky to have such wonderful friends...


Good friends are like stars... you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Take A Stitch Tuesday Week 3... Featherstitch

This week's stitch in the TAST challenge is the featherstitch. It has long been my favourite stitch. Once again I have some previous work to share with you- two stitch samplers plus some feather stitch on a work in progress and on a completed project.  I am posting my pics today, as I was very late last week and I don't think many TAST participants had a look... If you missed last week's TAST post (Buttonhole stitch) you can see it here. So here are my featherstitch photos for this week.
At right is my first Featherstitch Sampler, showing (top to bottom) 1. Featherstitch, 2. Double featherstitch, 3. Triple featherstitch, 4. "Freeform" featherstitch, 5. "Branched" featherstitch, 6. Maidenhair featherstitch,
7. Single featherstitch, 8. Closed featherstitch.

The second sampler (at left) shows some variations, including straight featherstitch, knotted featherstitch, a variation incorporating chain stitch and several rows of "mirror-image" straight featherstich... I love them all!

Photos of past work showing featherstitch follow - some are beaded or have French knots added, some is used to secure tatting (I love doing that - just love the look of it!), and another fav use of this stitch is to add it to floral sprays to represent greenery, fern or whatever...

 My latest sampler at right, shows a "border " (top and right side) of layered featherstitch, the first (under) layer done with a heavier thread -Koigu - a hand-dyed 100% Merino wool and the second row on top is a Finca Perle 8. The next row is featherstitch chained, followed by a row of featherstitch with French knots added in a rayon thread.Then I tried my hand at a leaf - remember, in nature, not every leaf is perfect...wink...  Then we have Maidenhair featherstitch with french knot "blossoms" added, and below it the same stitch with detached chain "blossoms". Then a row of straight featherstitch with straight stitch  added and lastly a wide row of featherstitch with a rayon thread woven through. At the bottom, some "freeform" featherstitch...
 I guess you can probably tell from the above, I love featherstitch. I wonder what stitch Sharon will choose next ?
I made brown bread and a fav soup this afternoon, (great "comfort food" on a cold January day), we have friends coming over for supper so I'd better get movin' and make a salad...
Later, peeps!

(Sunday Edit: See Sharon's Week 3 Highlights here)


"I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward." ~David Livingstone

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Top Done...

Here is my latest quilt- it's a lap size, 61" by 77". I really like the combination of blues, teals, greens and purples. MY colours! I love doing this easy block, where you make two units at once... I'm looking forward to teaching this class for my Guild later this winter. Hopefully. At this point there aren't many signed up. The weather forecast was poor on the night of our January Guild meeting, so attendance was low- therefore not many have signed up yet, but I am hopeful. I have put too much work into developing this class already, to not get an opportunity to teach it. I think I might name this quilt "Sweet Baby James".. I have always loved that line in James Taylor's song "..deep greens and blues are the colours I choose..."
Now to make a plan for the quilting.. any ideas?


"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
~ Goethe

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Blogger in the family.. who knew?

I'm back! I've been away for a few days - literally. Son Mark is off on a big adventure, traveling across the USA. He and I left Tuesday for Bangor so that he could board a Greyhound bus early Wednesday morning, bound for the Big Apple. He meets up with his tour group there tonight and they leave NYC early tomorrow morning on a 26 day tour, ending in California. This particular tour company specializes in tours for young people, so they will all be in their 20's and early 30's. I know he will have  a blast and no doubt there'll be lots of partying goin' on... but what a great adventure for him. He is not an experienced traveler (yet!) but he will be when this is over.. lol.  So I bid him goodbye in Bangor yesterday at 5a.m. He has already had a few interesting "experiences" along the way. I was (okay, still am) a bit worried about how he will manage on his own... first off, in the huge metropolis of Manhattan, but he did find his way from the bus station to the hotel, and then to Madison Square Garden for his first NBA game (Knicks vs. Suns). He passed through Times Square several times last night, so saw all the lights and felt "the pulse"...It IS pretty exciting/amazing your first time there... Today he has been playing the tourist, doing a guided tour of Lower Manhattan, and hopefully he got up the Empire State Building to take in the awesome view of the city.
He has started a blog- who knew there would be another blogger in the family!!! Although by his own admission, (he thinks) he is not much of a writer, he does write with humour and I'm sure it will be entertaining to say the least, to read of his adventures. Of course it will be totally dependant on when and where he can access wifi, but I'm hoping he will keep it up. At least it will relieve my worries somewhat, knowing with each post that he is still alive... So if you'd like to follow his travels and adventures, you can find his blog here. Just remember this is a young male writing.. so it may be a slightly different "perspective" than you and I might have....and there may be some interesting language occasionally..... who knows what else? If nothing else, check it out to read about the "excitement" on the bus yesterday.. what a way to start off his trip!!! That post is titled "Quite a Start".
No photos today, sorry.. wish I could have taken a pic of the moose we saw along the highway, or the beautiful fox who "played chicken" with me yesterday on my way back.. I'm quite sure he lost some fur from his tail, as I passed over him - I didn't "hit" him as there was no thump - and I saw him jump the snowbank into the ditch in my rearview mirror - he's definitely on his second life. Lucky guy...
But do come back tomorrow for a view of my latest quilt- borders are all on, I just have to re-do two of the mitered corners to my satisfaction then the top will be done. Next task is to figure out how I will quilt it... all suggestions gratefully received...


The joy is in the journey, not at the journey's end.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Take A Stitch Tuesday Week 2... Buttonhole stitch

This week's TAST stitch was the Buttonhole stitch, sometimes called Blanket stitch. It's one I'm familiar with, as it is a basic stitch I have used many times. So I am showing you two samplers- one that I had done several years ago to use in teaching Crazy Quilt classes, the other I have completed this week. Again I have enjoyed trying some new ways to "push" the stitch and have done a few variations that are new to me.   My previous sampler at right, shows (from top to bottom):
1. Basic buttonhole
2. Buttonhole, short and tall
3. Varying the heights, up and down, and varying the spacing
4. The same, up only
5. Alternating Buttonhole, on either side of "seam"
6. Two rows of Buttonhole, stacked
7. Closed Buttonhole
8. Up and Down Buttonhole, straight and angled
9. Buttonhole Bars
10. Rosette of Thorns Buttonhole

This week's sampler, at left, shows (top to bottom):
1. Basic Buttonhole, slanted
2. Up and Down Buttonhole, slanted and uneven, with addition of straight stitches and Detached           Chain stitch
3. Up and Down Buttonhole, even and uneven
4. Closed buttonhole, and with single buttonhole stitch between
5. Alternating buttonhole, up and down, varying widths
6. Crossed buttonhole and knotted buttonhole
7. Buttonhole "fans" or curved buttonhole
8. Buttonhole wheels, and a rather sad attempt at a stalk of "unknown" flowers, with buttonhole bar leaves and curved buttonhole blossoms. (These definitely need more practice, but I was running short of time and wanted to finish so I could get the photos on here to show before Week 3 begins!)
9. Vertical row of buttonhole half wheels
(Following are several photos of buttonhole variations on a current WIVSP - that's a "Work In Very Slow Progress".... )
I am late getting this week's work posted, Sharon has already posted the Week 2 Highlights, which you can see here. If you want to look at more stitching from this past week, go here and click on the word "Comments" at the top of the post. Then click on the links given by the participants/commenters.
I know as this Challenge goes on, there will be weeks when I do not

have the time to do this much stitching, but right now, I'm enjoying doing these samplers as I know they will be useful  tools in future classes. Students enjoy looking at actual stitching rather than (or maybe in addition to) photos in a book, and variations encourage them to go beyond just the basic stitch.
Now I'm off to get the borders on my scrap quilt. I promise a photo soon... Oh for a few more hours in each day...


When creative juices flow, catch them on a needle...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two of my Favourite Things...

Quilting and Reading.. yep- these are two of my most favourite things- especially in January... I have just finished reading New York by Edward Rutherfurd. OMG!! I think I have yet ANOTHER favourite author! This is the first book of his that I have read- but it won't be the last. Have you read any of his others? If so I'm looking for suggestions/recommendations please! He writes historical fiction - in the same manner as James Michener. I LOVED New York - I learned SO much about the city and it's history. I borrowed this from a friend, but will definitely be buying my own copy so I can read it again...
Next up on my reading list? The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, and/or Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (a Christmas gift- Thanks Barb!! :)
Today I have finished the last 18 blocks for my current quilt project. Tonight I will assemble them into the last three rows, and tomorrow I'll "get it all together".. Wait - I just remembered I have a movie date tonight with my hubby... I guess it will be another late night in the studio.... what else is new?


The secret to contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TAST Week One highlights....

If you are interested in seeing some of what Sharon considers the "highlights" of the Week One efforts  with Fly stitch, have a look here. Such an interesting array of work.... and yours truly is thrilled to be included...woohooo! I think two of my favs would have to be the beaded mandala done by Chris, and the doll by Nathalie at La Bastidane. And I love the dandelions here here and here.... and this fish!! Wow!
If this week is any indication, this is going to be a great challenge - bound to be a 2012 highlight... Woot!!


"Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away...." Sammy Kahn/ Jimmy Van Heusen

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Take A Stitch Tuesday Week 1... Fly stitch

Here is my first TAST effort: Week One- Fly Stitch. Sharon Boggon's Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge to explore various embroidery stitches looks like it's going to be lots of fun. There are over 500 participants from all around the world (wow!) ranging from beginners to very experienced. If you'd  like to see what types of things people are stitching, just visit here and click on "Comments" at the top of the post. Then as you scroll down through the comments, you can click on participant's links to see their work. I was amazed at how creative some people can be with one simple stitch. This week I have chosen to do a "stitch sampler", exploring variations of the Fly Stitch. Depending on the stitch each week, I may try other things...we'll see. The stitch samplers I do in this challenge will be added to my Stitch Sampler binder, with each row of stitch and variations noted, and threads used listed for future reference.

I had fun this week trying to see how many ways I could do the Fly stitch - by changing up the length of the tie stitch, making the stitches wider or narrower, stacking, layering, reversing, etc. Even just a change of thread weight can give a different look...
It's too late to "officially register" for this challenge, but if you are interested in improving your embroidery skills and learning some new stitches, you could do your own stitching and still follow along to see what others are doing. Sharon gives excellent instructions and step by step photos for learning each stitch. Her online stitch dictionary here is truly a gift to the stitching world! Why not pick up that needle?


The embroidery needle- a good needle to be addicted to...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Time to Get Out the Needle

Christmas is behind us now, the calendar has been changed, Laura has gone back to school, Mark finishes work this Friday. New beginnings.... It's time to take up the needle again.
I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen the last few weeks; made large batches of spaghetti sauce, chili and turkey soup so I could send back 6 tubs of each with Laura for her freezer. So I have a few "quick thaw and heat" meals on hand.... So I'm hoping the next few weeks I can spend more time stitching, sewing and reading.. the way I like to spend January!

Here is one recent finish - a cross-stitch I did for Laura for Christmas. It is another design by Heart in Hand.  This one is called Snowman Medley, designed by Cecilia Turner. I had ordered the Christmas Medley to do as well, but it must be popular as it has been back-ordered twice now. Guess it will be head of the list for next year...  These little snowmen will keep DD company through the winter. Cecilia's designs are quick and easy to stitch, and I love the bit of whimsey added by the buttons... (check out the crow on the head of the top snowman..)

Yesterday marked the first day of TAST 2012 - that's Take A Stitch Tuesday, run by Sharon Boggon of Pin Tangle.  Sharon will present one new stitch per week - the first one being Fly stitch. I am hoping this challenge will push me to do more stitching, learn some new stitches and experiment with those I already know to vary them creatively. Experimenting with new threads, color combos, etc. should be fun. It is a commitment- and I know
there may be some weeks when I do not have the time to get it done but I am going to do my best. I'll post pics here each week of what I have done. It is interesting to read the comments of others participating, to see how they are going to proceed with this Challenge. Some are doing it as a sampler, others are adding to a piece already started, others are doing journals. I think I will do each week's stitch on a separate piece of cloth, probably Aida, and put them in a binder with accompanying notes. (The TAST logo above was stitched by Annet of Fat Quarter who has kindly allowed it to be used by all doing the challenge.)
 So, check back in a few days to see what I've done with Fly Stitch for Week 1, TAST 2012.


"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, January 2, 2012

Played Out...

We've been playing games. Literally. The last three nights in a row... playing games... On New Years Eve we went over to the home of friends for a visit. We sat and chatted, caught up on news and watched the evenings celebrations on several TV channels. And then we tried out our new game that hubby got for Christmas. Have you ever heard of Anomia? It was new to all of us. It's fun but you need to pay attention, and you have to think (and speak) quickly. (not so easy after a few drinks...) It's a card game and the cards have various colored symbols and written categories printed on them. Each person turns over a card and when two symbols match, those two players must call out an example of the category on the opposite person's card. Whoever gets the word out first wins the opposite players card, and whoever has the most cards in their winner pile at the end wins the round. The categories range from easy (breed of dog, flavour of ice cream) to more challenging (Super Power or name of an Opera). I know you are thinking "well that's not hard- I can name an Opera". But when you are under pressure and trying to get the words out quickly..well it's pretty funny. We noticed there was a distinct difference in the interpretation of several categories between the generations- for example- Super Power- the older generation took that to mean a country like USA - whereas the younger ones said things like "Invisibility" (obvious Harry Potter readers!) Good fun and lots of laughs.... We also played Quiddler, a card game where you must use the letters on the cards you are dealt, to make words. Also a very fun game; we've had it a while now and really enjoy it. It's a great game for two or more players.

Last night we were invited to the home of other friends for a Raclette dinner and games later... more good times. But first- good food! Are you familiar with Raclette? It originally comes from Switzerland and the Savoy region of France.  The name comes from the French racler which means to scrape. The Raclette grill sits on the table and each person "cooks" their own choice of foods. The top grill section is for cooking- meats, seafood, kebobs, etc.  The small pans go underneath  for heating and melting- we warmed precooked veggies and melted cheese over them, and also toasted bread with garlic butter and cheese. OH SO GOOD!!! Barb had marinated beef, pork, chicken and shrimp. Veggies included potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, onions and asparagus. Garlic butter and grated cheddar made everything taste even better... What a fun and delicious way to spend a few hours with good friends.
Barb and I have been friends since she taught Laura in Grade One. At that time our sons started playing together and they have been best buds ever since- that's about 15 years now. Barb and I are now quilting buddies (that started when Barb's hubby Craig "hired" me to give Barb some quilting lessons for one of those big round number birthdays. She then joined our Guild and the rest is history as they say...) So we all enjoyed getting together, as we've been doing it for quite a while now...but most of all it was a special night for Mark and Geoff. Geoff and Mark are the first two of their "old gang" to finish their first degree; Geoff has now completed 4.5 years of study to become a Geomatic Engineer. He leaves Thursday for Calgary to begin his first job. I call him my "other son" (as Barb refers to Mark) and I think Laura thinks of him as another brother so Mark won't be the only one missing him... 
Again we played Anomia. It really was fun with seven people - you certainly had to pay attention- Laura whooped us all - she was SO fast this time. It was obvious that her young brain can work more quickly than those of the parents....
Tonight we played it for the third time. Laura returns to school tomorrow so was spending this afternoon and evening with her best bud Angela. So of course we had to teach Ange how to play both Anomia and Quiddler... again, Laura whooped our butts.. Just call her Miss Smartiepants... (I think we need to make a rule that from here on, when we play, all "answers" must not have been used before... that might slow her down a little bit...)
Mark is out tonight at Geoff's "going away" party - all the guys who have hung around together since middle and high school are together to give Geoff a send-off.... I'm sure they'll be laughing over past fun times and crazy things they've done... You have to love the humour of a 22 year old. A bunch of them did the Movember thing- then decided they should carry on for a few more months- so it was Decembeard (they just shaved a few days ago), next is Januhairy (no haircuts I guess?) and then Febrowary (unibrows???)
So you can see we've been having fun around here...  Mark got a fun "toy" for Christmas -
Perplexus Epic (thanks to my friend Susan Elliott for suggesting it). It's basically a large clear plastic ball with a "maze" inside- you must tilt, tip and rotate the ball to move a small steel ball through the maze- all 125 steps.. more about that another day. (besides I've only gotten to step 20 at this point- I'd like to be further along before I tell you about it...) Watch this video to see what I'm talking about..
Did you get any fun toys or games for Christmas ?


"Games lubricate the body and the mind." ~ Benjamin Franklin
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