Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clara - So Close!

This is how far I've come on Clara:

But I only have one length of the tan thread left!  I need two or three to finish the design.  Doesn't that just stink?!

The really annoying thing is that I made the same mistake twice on the left ear, which wasted exactly the two lengths of thread that I could have used to finish it!

The tan thread is a substitution from the original design, and I also foolishly did not write down the DMC number.  So I will be taking my last threads either down to my stash (fingers crossed) or out to the store to match them.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspirations 75

I have a serious backlog of reviews that I'd like to do for Friday Book Review Days. My review of Inspirations 73 has proven to be one of my most popular posts, so here is the latest - Inspirations 75. Trust me, the photos alone will be worth it!

Inspirations magazine is published quarterly by Country Bumpkin in Australia.  The production values are consistently high.  I have to admit that I have not made many of the projects - Cottage Garden will be the first one (although I do have more kits in my stash).  But there is so much to learn in these magazines, from the history of embroidery, to various unusual embroidery stitches, through colour and design, that it is always worth the long wait between issues!

I particularly love the photo styling that Stylist Fiona Fagan has done for this issue. Since I started this blog I have become much more attuned to how photos are styled! Nikki Delport-Wepener's stumpwork cover project Bauhinia was beautiful to start with, and the mix of real flowers, beads and skeins of silk threads that Fiona has added to the photo raise it to a whole new level.  Don't the skeins of thread in the artist's palette look great?

And what more can you say about this one?:

The actual project in this photo is the cauliflower pincushion in the upper left hand corner.  I love the small scale corn cobs and tomatoes that Fiona has found to go with it.

As for the actual content of the magazine, there is a really excellent article by Anna Maria Salehar about her approach to thread painting portraits.  It is great to get a glimpse into her creative process.  I was struck by how much the work feels like an intricate and compelling puzzle that Anna Maria slowly pieces together. I think the hallmark of a good artist is the way they are able to transcend their chosen medium. Anna Maria certainly shows us the way!

I don't usually like to choose a favourite, but this time I do have to say that I am quite enamoured of Jenny McWhinney's "Early Bird" redwork peg bag:

I always love the combination of red and white, or red and natural.  These birds are so cute, and I like Jenny's new approach to redwork.  Instead of a solid line, she uses a sketchy, broken line that makes the work feel more like an etching. My only quarrel with the design is that she uses three shades of red, which I think is unnecessary and distracting, given all the careful line shading in the design. But that is easily corrected. Washing lines are against the by-laws in my neighbourhood (I know, it's not green), but this would also make a great framed piece for the laundry room.

Right inside the front cover is an ad for an upcoming Country Bumpkin book of embroidered blankets and quilts.  The large embroidered heart immediately caught my eye, so I was pleased to see several more in the "Hearts and Roses" drawstring bag by Lesley McConnell.

The hearts in the drawstring bag are quite small, but the patterns could easily be enlarged.  I would like to use them on quilt squares, maybe nine all together.   The combination of polychrome embroidery and patchwork is something I see in the Australian quilting magazines a lot, and I'd like to make one myself.  After my redwork quilt!

So once again, there was plenty of inspiration here.  Highly recommended!

Related Post:

Inspirations 73

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Red Centre - Month 9

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks! My apologies, but I think you'll find the wait was worth it today. Here are the latest photos of Valerie Giles' Australian Aboriginal version of Sedona Star. Valerie has approached the applique months in a completely different way:


I love that background fabric! I asked Valerie how she made these. She tells me that she started with a chalk outline on black fabric, and then fused the patches of Aboriginal fabrics onto that. Isn't it great the way she maintained the continuity of the fabric pattern across the different patches? On the wombat the fused patches were finished with a hand blanket stitch, but on some of the others she did a machine satin stitch with variegated thread:


Then the black background was embellished by hand with running stitch, back stitch and "many, many French knots" in No. 5 perle cotton. The whole applique was then stitched to the background with a machine satin stitch in black thread.

I really love these, and I think it would be fairly easy to apply this technique to other shapes. Some of the animals are adapted from a book by Julie McKenzie, and some are Valerie's own design.

So here's the whole quilt all the way through Month 9:

The Red Centre

It's looking great. Thanks so much, Valerie, for sharing your work!

Related Posts:

Click here to read last February's post about Valerie's inspiration for her version of Sedona Star

And click here to read about the original Sedona Star designer Sarah Vedeler's inspiration!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Juin - Almost Finished!

It is hard to believe that my last post on this project was in February, but I finally have just a few more odds and ends to finish up on my "Juin" (June) sampler from Bonheur des Dames. It has been a long time coming, given that I started it in 2004! It was packed away for many years, but I took it out again in early 2011 as part of a big push to clear up some UFOs. So it has still been over a year of on-and-off work.

Yesterday I finished up the leaves and stems on the middle cherry motif:

They still need a bit of backstitching around the cherries. And today I did the "Juin" lettering in petit point:

The close up photo is a little misleading - this is 32-count linen.  It was fun though!  No colour changes, it used one strand each of medium and dark green blended in the needle.

So, I have one and a half cherry motifs to go, and a fair bit still of backstitching over one around the figures in the middle row (which is a little tricky), and that'll be it!  Now that I've written this post, I really will have to finish it soon.  ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paisley Sweater Update

I am close to the end on the Debbie Bliss Paisley Sweater.  The front and back are both done, and look the same:

I was sad, actually, to finish the last paisley motif on the second piece.  They were fun to knit, and there aren't any on the sleeves:

The design of these sweaters is actually very thoughtful.  Look at how the zig-zag motif lines up perfectly with the decreases on the raglan edge, on both the sleeves and on the front and back:

I can't imagine how much planning went into that!

After I finish the second sleeve, I will still have four cable inserts to do for the raglan seams.  Then I sew it all together and knit the rolled collar on a circular needle.  Won't be long!  I may have to start thinking about the next knitting project...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Happened to Sedona Star?

Some of you may be wondering what has happened with my Sedona Star project.  The truth is that it is not at all forgotton.  In fact, I am looking at this pile of half done blocks and templates every day!

Every time I sew I have to move this pile off my sewing table, so believe me, the project is still top-of-mind for me!  In the pile you can see:

  • Some of the Month 5 units, still in their baggie,
  • Some fused practice circles, which I probably could throw out now,
  • Fabric strips and templates for my remaining Month 2 paper-pieced blocks,
  • The assembled ring template for Month 1, which I am going to redo with different colours,
  • The paper original for Month 2, which I basically use as a "tray" to move it all neatly.
It has been like this since at least June, maybe longer.

But, while it wasn't sewing, I have done some more planning on Sedona Star this week.  Here's my test modification to Month 6:

I always felt that the applique blocks looked a little crowded, to my eye at least.  And I know that my satin stitch is going to make them a little bigger.  So my idea was to use my photocopier to shrink the appliques.  Here I cut out the middle of the template, copied it at 95%, and laid out the shapes in the original sized frame.  I am quite pleased with the result!  It is a subtle modification, but to me it feels more relaxed.

My plan is to set up the blocks with the paper-pieced borders first, and then just lay out the applique shapes by eye and fuse them all down.  This is one time when my low tech sewing room will probably make my life easier!  It is nice to have that flexibility sometimes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Unwelcome Visitor

Not ten minutes after my last post, we noticed this guy in our backyard:

Yes, it's a skunk.  We smell them from time to time in the evening, and run around closing all the windows, but a daylight sighting is unusual.  We think this one is still young.

Our birdbath is quite a popular watering hole.  It is often stuffed to the brim with migrating birds in the spring and fall.  The sparrows especially like to all pile in at once.  Sometimes I think it would be a great location for a webcam!

And sometimes we have take the bad along with the good.  I suppose all God's creatures have some (inscrutable) role to play!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

50 Blocks Done

Today I finished the last three nine-patch blocks, and got them all up on my "design wall." That is one of the most fun parts, isn't it?

I didn't want to over think the layout here.  I put mostly darker blocks around the edges, because those will show dirt less over time.  I broke up any glaring light patches, and tried not to have the same fabric in two adjacent blocks.  Then I took the photo and packed it up again.

This quilt is a lot more interesting close up, rather than from further back.  I think it's main claim to fame is the variety of fabrics - from batiks to prints, modern, retro and reproduction.  You can find some close ups of the blocks in previous posts.

I am pretty sure now that this will be the first quilt that makes it all the way to the end.  It's been a long time coming!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Backwards and Forwards on Celtic Spring

There has been a fair bit of work done on Celtic Spring since the last time I showed it, but it has not all been forward progress!  Once I decided to stitch all the gold braid double, I also decided to remove most of the previous gold stitching that had been done single.  This necessitated taking out some of the other stitching around those areas as well.  The main areas that were affected were the left side border, and the front of the underskirt.

The gold sure looks nice, though:

I also decided to keep all the backstitching to just a single strand.  When I squinted at the small blurry picture that comes with the chart, it seemed to me that the backstitching had been done double. But, when I tried it both ways, I preferred the more delicate effect that a single strand achieves:

The chart also calls for a dark quarter stitch to fill in the eye, but I left it unstitched to give the effect of a highlight.

I am very keen to start putting in some of the beads.  There are lots!  But I don't want the stitching to become awkward to hold, so I think I need to give that some more thought.  I know from experience that doing all the beads at once can be tiresome too, so balance is key!

I'd rather hoped to be further along on this by now, but, you know, life gets in the way sometimes!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Actual Quiltmaking

The stars aligned and today I finally was able to return to my sewing machine.  What a relief!  First on list to finish is that nine patch quilt that's been lost in the confusion. There were seven blocks left, but I only got four done because the phone guy showed up an hour early.

For new readers, these are repurposed 2.5" squares that I originally cut for another quilt.  That was probably two years ago now! My cutting skills were less developed then. These fabrics are not washed either, so it will be exciting to see what happens during the first wash.

Weather permitting, I hope to make a lot of progress tomorrow.  Happy quilting!
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