Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

My intent was to do a photo collage of some blog highlights of 2009.  But DH just installed Photoshop Elements and I guess I can't expect to go in and create a photo collage (or mosaic, or whatever it's called) on my first try, LOL.  I've used another photoshop program until now, so I guess I've got some learning ahead of me.  We did buy a book yesterday, so I guess I'll hit the books, LOL.

In the meantime, I'd first like to share with you some pictures from Christmas.   My favorite part was when my granddaughter London (4 months old today) met her cousin Hunter (age 9 months) at our house on Christmas Day.

Here is London, glimpsing Hunter for the first time  Both babies seemed to tune everyone else out.

 Hunter began leaning over and reaching for London; at this point, London didn't know what to think.

 But here they make eye contact and London smiles at Hunter.

London began fidgeting and wanting to MOVE as well, presumably closer to Hunter.

Together!  Hunter, being the mature older man, LOL, knows how to give a kiss, and he spit out his binky and planted one on London's cheek.  Then in a move that surprised all of us, the two of them leaned over and touched foreheads and just held that position for several seconds.  It was so cute!

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Later, London "opened" her presents.  Here's how THAT went down  (with complete unbiased narrative from moi, her loving Grammy).

London is thinking, "Hmmm... a present for me..."

 "Hey, maybe I can reach and open this if Mom will let me."

 "This is easy!  I AM BABY!"

"Hey, I'm really getting into this!"  I hope she doesn't stop me!"

"She HAD to stop me.  She HAD to do it herself!  And what does she get?  A paper cut!  Now who's the smart one here, eh?"

I'd like to wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year's.  2009 was a very trying year for many of us, but the way I see it, things can only get better.   I hope your 2010 is filled with lots of love, good health, and happiness.



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wool Blocks

I recently was asked to fill in at Crazy Quilting International for member who had to withdraw from our Wool "DYB" (do your own block) Round Robin.  In that type of RR, we each piece six 6" blocks - in this case WOOL blocks, and send them around.  Each person completes one full block for each of the other participants.

These are my naked blocks.  I pieced three in red, green and purple, on which I've asked the ladies to do a Christmas theme.

The other three blocks are green and cream, with a requested theme of North Woods - Seasons (winter, spring, etc. in the woods/forest).  

Naked blocks aren't too exciting, but what IS exciting to me is that this is my first blog post using my new Mac computer and its iPhoto program.   I also have the new Photoshop Elements, but haven't learned that yet.  I was able to crop and enhance the photos from iPhoto.  However, before doing any real manipulating on them (like saving them with more dpi), I'll have to learn Elements.  Luckily, I've got 4 days off work and a new Photoshop book...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Crackers and Rick-rack

On the Crazy Quilting International List, we do an annual Christmas Cracker swap.  Christmas Crackers, as you probably know, are an English custom.  At CQI we sign up for one, two, or three crackers to swap, and the swap hostess gives us the names and addresses of our recipients.  We then take a cardboard tube (like from a roll of paper towels), cut it to 7" in length, and stuff it with goodies relating to crazy quilting.   The outside is decorated with a nice piece of fabric or a pieced block (whatever you want), and then sent off to your person(s).  In return, you get crackers from two different people.  It's so much fun, and is a really good way of making friends around the world.

This is the Christmas Cracker that I got from Karrin.  It was covered with the gold-starred green satin and filled with everything else.  I really love the sheers she sent; I've always bought them whenever I could find them at JoAnn's, but this years our local stores didn't have any.  They're so gorgeous when scrunched up on Christmas stockings or blocks.  And look at all those threads!!  She even included some John James needles.  How thoughtful! Thank you Karrin for putting together such a  SUPER cracker!

This next cracker was from Maria in Portugal.

Maria went all-out as you can see.  I loved the postcards she sent of the area in which she lives, plus one that told of a popular Portugese legend.  She even sent a darling cock to match the story!  And the CD of Portugese music particularly touched me; it is so beautiful.  I'm accustomed to listening to hours of music in foreign languages (thanks to my love of the great tenor, Andrea Bocelli), and this CD had lots of lovely melodies, great voices, and music.

And then there were all the goodies: ribbons, ornaments, a cherub candle, a cute stitched folksy heart (I *really* love that), and the beautiful block that Maria pieced that included tatting and other embellishments.  Maria, you were sooooo generous!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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DH & I went to the thrift store yesterday; he wanted to buy a leather belt.  He uses them to make straps for his guitars and banjos, and since he got a new banjo (or should I say ANOTHER new banjo, LOL) for Christmas, this trip was actually his idea.   Of course I had to go along to shop keep him company!  I resisted the urge to buy a lot (you have no idea!).  But I did pick up a little bit of lace (no picture), and a bag of "stuff".  You know how they jumble things together in a bag and sell it for a buck or two.  Well, this bag was stuffed with rick-rack and vintage trim for $1.99. 

 I still need to separate the purples.  These pieces were all used, so as I separate them, I'm pulling off the threads.  This will come in very handy to use in all my sewing (aprons, tea towels, pillows) where I like to combine modern and vintage fabric and trims.  Plus, once it's ironed and neatly stashed, I can use some of it in the squishies I put together for the monthly giveaways at CQI.

Now I've got to begin sorting Christmas pictures.  Ninety-nine percent of the pictures were of the grandkids who visited, LOL. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays

To all of you, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season.  May it be warm and wonderful, and full of peace, love and good family times.

I'm including several of my favorite vintage images for you to enjoy - they're all copyright-free, so feel free to copy them.  They all say "Merry Christmas", which was just a coinky-dink.  LOL.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bargains, Stockings, Tea Cozy

Hi!  Not a very original title to this post, but I guess it gets the job done!  :-)  

I was out shopping a couple days ago, which is CRAZY, because my Christmas shopping has been done for a week.  However, after my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in, I stopped at a nearby Hancock's Fabrics on the way home since I had their coupon flyer in my car.  I wanted to check out their clearance bins (a good source of bargains, especially at the end of the year), and because I needed more white thread.  Yep, we always need more white thread, right???   LOL  (remember that reason if you ever need one!)

There in the clearance bin was a set of Royal Albert Serving Utensils (knife and fork, presumably from their bridal department for serving wedding cake).  They were originally priced at $29.99, but they were 90% off!!  I got them for $3.00 !!! 

The pattern is my favorite, Old Country Roses.  And they are of a very nice quality.  I've never had any really nice serving utensils.  I did inherit a set of silverware from my mother with an "F"  monogram, which not only matched my maiden name, but also my first married last name (Flox).  But since I've become a Kizerian, I'm looking to pass those on to one of my sons....

But I digress....  Aren't these lovely???

Hancock's is a national store, so check and see if you have one near you!  (this is not Hancock's of Paducah).


Pictured at right is the everything I got:  thread (half off), a lace applique for 50 cents,  some charms (on 4 cards) for 15-18 cents each,  Buttons for 88 cents, brass safety pins for 50 cents, and my next fabulous deal, one of those fabric calculators.  Regularly $39.99, marked down 90%, so it was only $4.00.  Now, even if it were only a regular calculator (and it does regular calculations, LOL), it would be a good deal.  But this one will calculate yardage for borders and setting strips, etc., which is handy even for a crazy quilter.  We do like to showcase our large works, too!

So, all totaled, with tax, my big spending spree came to $11.55.    And I promise that was worth it just for the entertainment value!!  :-)

My friend Joyce at work is going back East to visit her granddaughters over Christmas.  She didn't get to see them at Halloween, so asked me if I'd make them some Halloween-themed Christmas stockings.  I thought that was a clever idea..... she's got something cooked up to combine both holidays.   So, I snapped a quick picture of them when they were done. 

And finally, I thought I'd show some pictures of an old CQ piece I did.   It was made in 2001 in Betty Pillsbury's week-long class at the John Campbell School (Brasstown, NC) in May of that year.   It's a tea cozy, and I love it.  Now, as those who know me well will attest, I hate tea.  I would love to LOVE tea, but after having been given tea as a child every time I was sick, just the smell of tea now makes me gag.  Such a pity, isn't it, because taking tea is such a charming custom.  Nevertheless, I love teacups, teapots, tea cozies, (and scones, but we won't go there...), etc. 

It's a relatively simple piece, especially since my more recent work tends toward encrustation.  The colors were selected based on a piece of fabric given to me by Donna Slusser (who, with Pat Magaret wrote several books on watercolor [impressionist] quilts).  Here is the back of the cozy, which features the fabric. 

If I were to do the tea cozy over today, I would've embellished this fabric heavily - such possibilities I see now.  Back then I was in a hurry to get it done.   But let's take a look at what I did do to the front.  As we have a lot of new members on Crazy Quilting International, perhaps a walk-through of the embellishment of the front would be helpful.

The Left Side

 The teapot motif was acquired in a Tea Party swap I hosted.  It was machine-made by one of the participants, and I wanted to incorporate it.  So, I found some vintage ribbon and ruched (gathered it with a haphazard basting stitch) and tacked it around the edges of the motif.   Some lace follows the left seamline, and a randomly-tacked jacquard ribbon meanders along the lower half of the tea cozy, crossing seams and leading the eye from side to side.  Above that is a small grouping of MOP buttons (one with a bead dangle added).  The seam is just a simple triple feather stitch (one layer over the other).   (Oh my, this is frustrating!  I would add so much more now, but I must remember there is beauty in simplicity, and this is a statement of my style at that time!)
The Upper Right Side

This is photographed on a doily, which is not part of the cozy.  The dyed rose motif was given to me by a friend, and I tacked it down adding a few seed beads in the center.  Then I randomly couched a gold thread (likely Kreinik) around that patch.  The stitch at the top and left side of that patch is a simple herringbone done with ribbon floss.  To the far left is a little loop trim I made by stitching small pearly beads into loops on either side of the seam.  It almost looks lacy...

The pink patch is just a bouquet of flower beads with straight stitch stems and a silk ribbon bow.  The seams that encase that patch are (1) a metallic trim and (2) a double herringbone stitch.  My stitching repertoire was not extensive then....  :-)

Lower Right Side

The spiderweb was stitched (as I still mostly do) without a spider.  However, these days when I stitch a spiderweb, I make sure it is anchored to something realistic, as a real spiderweb would be - something like a flower or vine or something!    In the gold patch is a gold teacup charm sitting on a lace-covered "table" made with a wee scrap of lace.  The vintage lace between the spiderweb and the teacup is decorated with Fargo roses.  

In the lower portion, you can see the continuing trail of ribbon, which wanders between three vintage crocheted motifs, each adorned with buttons, beads, silk ribbon.  Notice how these cross seamlines, tying patches together.  The gold bamboo fabric lends an Asian flair to the piece, which helps (in addition to the colors) tie it to the print fabric on the reverse. 

It was a very easy piece, which any beginner could accomplish with a little guidance and a few questions.  And the satisfaction of completing your first piece will confirm your spot in the CQ Collective!!

Until next time,


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boutique, London & Stuff

All of the Giveaway items were boxed and mailed last Wednesday, and I understand they're beginning to arrive.  Whew!  That was a lot more work than I had planned for, but it was all fun!  :-)

Happily, the Boutique is over, too.  That wasted took up most of my Saturday last week, and the turnout was dismal.  However, I did sell 3 aprons, 4 owls & some other little things.  The remaining items will probably end up as Christmas presents, LOL. 

First of all, look at these mittens I made with the DARLING free pattern that Dawn Edmondson of The Feathered Nest offers on her blog.  You can check out the tutorial here.   Dawn is published frequently in the Somerset publications, and her blog is a rich source of ideas and inspiration!


Of course, I did them a bit differently.  I used the same cotton batting, but concentrated most (but not all) of the glitter along the top edge.  I didn't gather the mittens before decorating; I just combined that step with the trim used around the wrist and then secured the trim and cinching with a stitch or two. 

Left are the silver or white-glittered mittens.  I sold a few of these, but was glad that I've got leftovers for our tree and to tie on gifts.

 I also made some sachets.  This idea I "borrowed" from some magazine I saw a couple weeks ago at Barnes & Noble.  DH & I have a weekly "coffee date" there, reading magazines & browsing books.  Since I usually have my sketchbook with me, I drew a rough (VERY rough, LOL) idea and put my own spin on these sachets.

Dried lavender (from our garden) was used to fill some muslin bags, which I had left over from a purchase a couple years ago from San Francisco Herb Company.  Then I enlarged and printed out vintage lady heads from my files, and glued them onto cardstock.  In turn, the heads were glued on to the filled muslin bags and decorated with bits and bobs of vintage lace (including a scrap of metallic lace I used for Marie Antoinette), modern trims and laces, buttons, feathers, stick-on "rhinestones", etc.  It was FUN!!

 And then I wanted to show you my favorite apron that I made before the boutique.  The  

skirt portion is red ticking.  The pocket is made from one of four embroidered, oversized "puzzle pieces" that Pat sent me from the Pieces of Friendship Swap earlier this year.

 Isn't that goose just too cute???

 And speaking of TOO CUTE ....

 Here is London at age 3 months with a stuffed musical seahorse.  She LOVES that thing!  Below she's contentedly being loved by her Daddy (my son Shane).  I believe these pictures were taken on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

I need to get my sewing machine serviced; it started doing some wacky stuff, and it's been awhile since I've paid any attention to it.   That means it's time to turn my attention to other creative endeavors.  My goal is to crazy-piece a valance for my bathroom window for our CQ International group (more about that in an upcoming post) and also to piece six 6" wool blocks for a round robin I've just joined.   By the end of December.   We'll see.  Take care and stay warm!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Giveaway Winners!

Well, it's time to announce the winners of the Giveaway.  I printed off everyone's comments, then sorted them by their category of preference (or chose one if they indicated that).  Then after folding them up, my DH Bruce was kind enough to pick six winners - one in each category.

Winners, I'll be contacting you (or you may contact me - whatever!)  OK, here goes.

Lot 1 - Christmas Fabrics
Winner:    Renee G.

Renee, I'll contact you and we'll work out how you'd like to divide up your three yards.  I'll also need your address.  This should be a fun item on your "to-do" list!!

Lot 2 - Ephemera

Winner:   Rose Anne B. 

Hi Rose Anne, of course I know you from  Crazy Quilting International, but I'll need your address.    And I'm curious if you have any specific plans for any of these items!  :-)

 Lot 3 - Crocheted Items
Winner:  Juli L.

This cracks me up, because Juli also just won a squishie on Crazy Quilting International and sent me her address last week.  So, I'll include both gifts in the same package.  May I suggest that you try a lottery ticket in the near future??

Lot 4 - Vintage Fabric Scraps
Winner - Michele (Barrels of Monkeys)

Congrats, Michele.  You'll get to add this to the stash you got from your grandmother.   I'll need your address to get these goodies on their way!

Lot 5 - Embroidery & Lace
Winner:  Karmicraft, Karol B.
 Congratulations, Karol.  You said in your comments that you were a beginning CQ'er, so you'll enjoy incorporating several of these items into your work.    I'll need your address.

 Lot 6 - For the (Sane*) Quilter  (*which is what we Crazy Quilters call regular quilters, LOL)
Winner:  MaMa (Lisa)

Congratulations, Lisa.  This one will arrive in a box (after I get your address!)  
After the regular drawings,  I put all the non-winning names into a bowl and had DH draw out one more winner.  That person will get a little giftie in their chosen category.    The consolation winner is:   Carolyn Phillips!!     Carolyn, you had chosen both category 6 and category 5 (one for your comment and one for linking to the drawing on your blog), so contact me and we'll figure out something!  :-)

Thank you all so much for visiting my blog and entering the giveaway.  I hope to "see" you all regularly in the future.   This week I plan to visit the blogs of all participants (who have a blog) because I love meeting new friends and discovering new blogs too!