Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Playing with Snowballs

On the Crazy Quilting International group, many of us are exchanging “Snowballs”. They are round (in this case, about the size of a standard compact disc) pieces of friendship. Connie and I are throwing Snowballs at each other this month.

I haven’t stitched it yet, but it is pieced.  What’s the rush, eh? There are 29 days this month, LOL!!  :-)

Connie requested colors of cream, gold, bronze and copper, so I think these colors will work well.  My cousin Manya also stitched one for Connie earlier, and you can see that on her blog here.  And yes, you will see some similar fabrics (family secret?!?  LOL)   Of course, Manya is a tough (make that impossible!) act to follow in the stitching department. But dear Connie is certainly worth the effort!

Cathy maroon

Friday, February 24, 2012

Postcard Swap

At Crazy Quilting International, we just had a postcard swap in February.  I showed you the two I made earlier and sent off to my friend Debbie.   Well, a couple days ago, my postcard arrived in the mail from Sandy Larson in AR.  Oh. My. Goodness.

Will you look at that?  Does that say Spring, or what?  Isn’t it beautiful?  Sandy, I love it to death!! The stitching is so dainty and perfect.  The birdsilkie is darling!! And look at how Sandy carried the silkie a bit further by employing 3-D techniques with lace flowers and silk ribbon embroidery. Not only does it enhance the print, but helps to softly frame the print, blurring the hard edge.

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I have pieced a “Snowball” (a 3.5” circle to trade) for Connie, but have not photographed it yet. I will get a picture before I stitch it this weekend.  I hand pieced it not only because of the curves, but because my d*** sewing machine is in the shop.  Well, it’s not the sewing machine’s fault, actually.  It is just there for a cleaning and “tune up”.  The tension has been wacko for weeks.   So, when it gets back all nice and serviced and in good working order, I am selling it.  It’s a 15-year old Viking (Husqvarna) that has been OK, but has always had tension issues. 

And after doing a lot of research (consumer reviews and reading), I am going to get a Brother PC-420 PRW (limited edition Project Runway) sewing machine.  See the Amazon picture and information here. I think part of it will be my birthday present, and Crazy by Design will pay for the rest. I am gearing up to begin stitching boutique items for the spring-summer boutique season here, and need a reliable machine.  I am so excited!!!!!  It has 294 stitches and 3 alphabets. And costs almost $100 less than the Viking I bought 15 years ago.   

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And finally, yesterday was Londay (the day we watch our DGD London).  We only watch her for half days now because we have a hard time keeping up with an active 2 ½ year old.  No kidding.  Now I know what they mean by “silence is golden”, hehehe.  London is a total chatterbox and rarely stops talking or singing or commenting.  Yesterday she was trying to get up on the daybed in her room. Actually, it’s our guest room where we keep her porta-crib. But that is being put away this weekend because she will not stay in it. I just pull out the trundle from the daybed. Of course, she won`t stay in that, either. You know 2-year-olds. They`re in charge. They wear you down.   But I digress.  

London was climbing on the bed, saying “I need clenentine”.  I couldn’t figure out what she meant until she grabbed the stuffed Panda teddy bear. We (Bruce and I) had sung to her “Oh My Darling Clementine” a couple weeks ago, and we had decided to name the teddy bear “Clementine”.    So, she came out and held the bear and sang “Clementine” with us. 

London is getting into Grammy’s yogurt and strawberries.  Note that she has the same thing on HER plate, but that’s not as exciting I guess.  :-)

Someone should award a Nobel Peace Prize to the person who invented Sippy Cups.  

Until next time,

Cathy maroon

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February CQJP and TAST - Detached Chain

I was able to spend the morning stitching, which is unusual for a Saturday. But I guess when you are retired, or at least working your own little business, the days all more equal. You work a little almost every day and play a little almost every day. :-)

For the detached chain, I made some little flowers along the pink and gold meandering vine, lower left. I also added the detached chain grass and leaves in the lower left, with bead flowers.  The print that forms that lower right patch is a crinkled fabric and had an irregular border, so I thought some freeform greenery would also serve to hold down the edge.
February CQ Journal Project Complete
 Here are my January and February blocks together.

And this is how they look in place on the design board. Everything is just pinned at this stage, so please forgive the wonkiness.  I think the stitching on the black is working well. And although the grass seam in the lower right of block two seams a bit heavy in the block, I believe it looks good in situ. The green picks up some of the little blue forget-me-nots in the main stitchery. I will need to remember to add a bit of this blue-green (or just blue) here and there.

I have also been auditioning some trims for the inside square around the needlepoint (between it and the blocks). So many possibilities! Of course, it is way too early to make a decision. But it is easy enough to eliminate some choices.  :-)

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My Etsy shop is still going crazy, and I have to thank you who visit.  :-)  I really do try to keep the quality up and the prices reasonable (and the postage as low as possible!!).  It appears that come next month (can you believe March will be here in less than 2 weeks?) I will hit a few milestones.  My Etsy shop will hit 1,000 sales in March (if things continue on pace).  This blog has 295 followers, so I will likely reach 300 in March (I hope, anyway!!)  As well, I already passed my 400th post this month.

So, given the above, plus the fact that my birthday is in March and I would love to celebrate it with you, I think that I will host a giveaway in March!  Woo-hoo!  It has been awhile, and I am excited.  I have to think of something good, something you would like. Would that be lace? Fabric? A gift certificate to Crazy by Design?  A mixed bag of CQ stash? Vintage goodness?  All of the above, LOL?!?

In the meantime, ENJOY your weekend!

Cathy maroon

Monday, February 13, 2012

TAST Week 6 - Chevron Stitch

Hi All - I just wanted to post my Chevron Stitch for the Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge. This time, as usual, there are no elaborate variations, just one simple seam treatment. I am working these stitches on my CQ Journal Project block for February, which is almost done.

So, here is my Chevron.

It will look better when I show you the entire block. The blocks I am doing are primarily black with stitches in the colors represented in the floral needlepoint piece they will be surrounding.  I believe that keeping these blocks limited to colorful seam treatments will complement the needlepoint without upstaging it. As if.

The new TAST stitch is the Detached Chain, and I will use it in the final seam of the block and get my block posted later this week.  That will give me the rest of the month to work on finishing up my red, green and black journal cover and doing a 4” round “Snowball” for Connie in our CQI “Snowball” Fight, Swap.  :-)

Cathy maroon

Friday, February 10, 2012

TAST 5, Studio Reshuffle, and an Enjoyable Day

Someone needs to come over to my house and force me to sit down and stitch until I get caught up. That person is NOT my granddaughter London.  London is one of those “Grammy, look at me!” girls who wants to wow me with every new concept she learns (and yes, sucker doting Grammy here is always wow’ed).  Are 2 year olds (2 ½ at the end of this month) supposed to be dexterous enough to write with a pencil, then use the pencil eraser to erase it?  So grown up. And then a few minutes later when we are adding raisins to the cookie dough, she eats the raisins saying “I love raisins!" But then she asks if they are “chokkit chips”, and THEN asks if they are bugs.   Bruce announced last night after London went home that he now knows how grandkids get their energy; they suck it out of their grandparents.  And we plopped ourselves down and watched TV for two blissful, mind-numbing hours.

But I need to stitch. Thank goodness the weekend is here!!

So, let me show you that I have done a few seams.  After all, London does recharge nap. These seams are on my journal cover.  The basic herringbone was accented with a plain stitch in a varigated red, white and green cotton.  I used that same stitch to do a buttonhole stitch (bottom left corner) along one edge of the trim, too.  It adds just the right amount of random white into the intense red, green and black mix.

Below is another herringbone, this time laced with a contrasting thread. 

This weekend I will finish up my chevron seams (week 6) and get those posted on Monday.

But I had such an ENJOYable day today, that I want to share it with you.  Enjoy is my word for the year, so the other day I ordered a wall sign for my office area (from a great Etsy shop). I am at the computer a lot, blogging for me or for CQI, reading and writing emails, playing Jigzone, listing things in my Etsy shoppe, reading blogs, etc., so I thought what better place to put it?

That is all that I will let you see of my mess of an office.  I have piles everywhere, and this time of year (taxes) makes it doubly messy. But I know where everything is!!!!!!!   yeah, right...

And then I also got these in the mail today, also an Etsy purchase.

Aren’t those pink nautilus shell beads the bomb???  I am going to add them to my seascape valance whenever I get back to stitching on it.    And those vintage … thingys… um, navettes (what is a navette?).  Aren’t they cool, too??  Good mail day!!

This morning I went to an estate sale.  The ad said the deceased was a crafter and sew-er.  Yes, she certainly was.  My big score was not crafty stuff, though (although I did get silk ribbon and some linens), it was storage. This woman had a bazillion plastic storage cabinets, and I needed more.  So, I found the perfect one for my cut fabrics (for fabric packs), and moved them into it.  That resulted in me shuffling around all sorts of other things for hours, getting lost in my stash.  You know how that goes.  So, my silk ribbon got new storage.

Pay no attention to that pile of red velvet above - it needs to be cut up and filed away. Below, the new  drawer unit I moved the cut fabrics into fit perfectly right next to my shelves along one wall of the studio.

The painting was done by my son Shane (London’s dad) when he was in high school. He won lots of awards for it.  But I digress.  So, while I was snapping pictures, I thought I would show you this area of my studio that I haven’t shown before.  Mostly everything in my studio is functional, but a few of these shelves display some sweet gifts, sentimental items, or just cool stuff.

This dish on the top shelf holds some vintage shell pins.
Vintage millinery fruit (?) and vintage ribbonwork

Some pincushions made by Gerry K (gold), Lisa B (pink), Jo N (tall blue) and  Laurie B (cup and saucer).  Bracelets by me.

Vintage hat, gloves, purse circa 1940s.  Peacock feather fan circa 1900.
Back: cups for future pin cushions. Front:  decorated tin from Simona.
Right: vintage pincushion chair to redo.

Lace to be sorted. Ballerina hankie holder was a gift from Freda B.

Tan tin used to hold my mom’s sewing miscellany. Other I’ve just collected

Bottom shelf holds home dec trims, belts, purse handles, etc. for purse-making
And continuing right along with this mish-mash post, I had this great idea that my potassium permanganate way of dyeing rayon venice lace would look nice on other colors of lace that are mixed with white. Now, black and white venice lace (or any color and white) are really difficult to find. I didn’t find one store in the Los Angeles fabric district that carried it. But I did find an online source. It’s very expensive, but I bought a yard of 10.5” wide black and white lace to play with.

The result?  Glorious!! Black and golden lace that is not metallic!  So classy!  So lovely!  So …. so what am I going to do with it? I don’t know yet.  Make a black and gold purse? (been there, done that. I don’t need another). Sell it online? Maybe - but I would have to figure out how to cut it up. In pieces? Sell it by the quarter yard? For now, I am not going to worry about it; too much else going on. And I have to see if other styles are available. But isn’t it lovely?

The average person would have made this into three or four separate posts, I know.  :-)  Or at the very least warned you at the beginning, LOL.  So, now I am caught up on blogging!  hehehehe   And I will see you back here in a couple days with more stitching samples and who knows what else!

Cathy maroon

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Enjoying Life

Today I am ENJOYing (my word for the year) and am thankful for:

Sight:  Boomer curled up sleeping in the sun
Sound:  Our “Duffy" station on Pandora. Etta James is singing.
Smell:  Bruce just ground coffee beans.  :-)
Taste: Anticipating my first-ever Papa Murphy’s pizza when we watch the Superbowl
Feel:  My hands and arms have not been numb this morning, and I am grateful for that.

Other: Bruce is doing laundry while I have been listing things in Etsy.  Daughter Megan just called to say hello. The sun is shining outside, even if it is cold.  We are planning a Barnes & Noble date tomorrow. We go, read magazines and have coffee. And say hi to my former co-workers.

May your coming week be wonderful!
Cathy maroon

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crazy Quilts are Quilts, Too!!

Thearica over at Pigtales and Quilts is having a crazy quilt party and contest. The purpose is to raise awareness of the ART of crazy quilting.

Crazy quilts are all too often snubbed at shows and competitions because some people do not consider them to be real quilts.  Well, they may not be machine stitched to within an inch of their lives, LOL, but the layers are there. Crazy quilts are pieced on a foundation fabric and then backed to form a “quilt sandwich”.  Various assembly techniques are used, including attaching front to back with ties, buttons, beads, hand or some machine stitch-in-the-ditch (or any combination of those). We also make use of false backs (the quilting is done to a stabilizing layer that is enclosed within and covered by a pretty backing fabric). All in all, crazy quilts require the same skill set as regular pieced quilts - PLUS embroidery, beading, ribbon work, and any number of other embellishment techniques that the artist chooses to incorporate.

But, it’s time for me to step down from my soapbox, and show you some of the crazy quilting I have done over the last 12 years.  I have been blessed to have taken classes from Betty Pillsbury, Carole Samples, Judith Montano, Sharon Boggon, Helen Gibb, Candace Kling, Allison Aller, Martha Green, and many others. To the skills I have learned from them I have added my own spin.

Here are some of my pieces, in rough chronological order from 2000 - 2011.

My first piece was a vest; this is a portion of one side.

I entered this block in the first Quilting Arts Calendar contest, and won!  This block was featured in the 2002 Calendar as the November block (under my former married name of Cathy Flox).

Pansy Block: “Thoughts of You"

 In 2003, I wanted to try a wool quilt. Got it all pieced, but never finished it.  It was fun, though!

A ribbon motif from my first round robin in Crazy Quilting International:  Roses (2007)

An autumn pillow. Mr. Squirrel’s tail is mink.

 One of several purses entered over the years in the CQI contests. It is up for sale now in my Etsy shop, even though it is one of my very favorites!

“Images of Africa"

“I Love Paris” purse, Side B

“I Love Paris” purse, Side A

A round robin block from a couple years ago

My stitching contribution on a Hears and Flowers block

A Flower Fairy themed block
Another Flower Fairy themed block

A Teatime wallhanging I donated to CQI. It was auctioned off on Ebay, with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (2011)

Another round robin block

This block was for a Birds round robin

Another block for the Birds round robin

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the show.  Take some time to visit Pigtales and Quilts and the other crazy quilters who have exhibited their work there.

Cathy maroon