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Having gotten out of the habit of frequent blogging, I’m finding it hard to get back into it. I’ve shown you the work-in-progress on Beau’s bag.  It’s finished and I’ve mailed it off to Vashon Island–the bag with the Kate Greenaway book inside. It just fits. Here you can see the front and the back. I stitched the CQ blocks to a ready-made canvas bag. The front has alphabet letters and critters on the patches. The back has numerals and flora motifs. On both sides I included shisha, thinking Beau would get a kick out of the tiny mirrors.

Front Back

 

Now I’m working on a sampler–just something to keep me stitching, as I’m still finding it hard to do so every day. Here’s Guilloche stitch for the border. It’s funny how putting a border on it makes the sampler feel more important–worth trying to do it well.

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Counting threads is not my favorite stitching technique, but I like the even stitches it produces. This sampler is on Aida evenweave fabric.

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Having finished the embellishment of my CQJP 2014 quilt and having joined all the seams, I’m now waiting for an opportunity to shop for fabric for border(s) and back. Here’s the quilt so far. It’s tacked to my design board.

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For weeks I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next. This past week I’ve been asking myself what do I want to do. Today I got out a pile of fabrics and chose some for a crazy quilt block. I was also online looking for a pattern I could crib, rather than make one myself. I chose Sharon Boggon’s pattern for Block 82   of her” I dropped the buttonbox quilt.” Do click on the link to see her work.Here’s the pattern I printed from Sharon’s website. For my block, I enlarged patch #7.

block82-diagram

Then I reviewed a method of piecing using a pattern that I have done in the past. I slightly modified Sharon’s pattern so that I could have a large patch of a particular fabric, then transferred the pattern to foundation fabric. Here’s how the back of the block looks. As you can see, #7 patch is on the left.

Back-of-block

Because it would take time to set up my sewing machine, and because any mistakes done in machine stitching would be harder to take out, I stitched the patches by hand. Also, I prefer to stitch by hand rather than by machine, and that means I have not become proficient with the sewing machine. The stitching is easily done from the back of the block where I just stitch over the pattern lines. Here’s the front of the block.

Front-of-block

Well, I surprised myself today. I had no plan to make anything and it just happened that I did. I wonder what will be next as I try to get myself back into regular, joyful stitching…and blogging. So far, I’m having to make myself do it.

 

 

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Re-set

I’m trying to press the “re-set” button for blogging. For the past couple of years, it has been very hard for me to write. It’s been a very difficult time, during which my husband died, my son died, four close friends died, and I moved myself across the continent and back, by myself. Besides losing loved ones, I lost the ability to stitch, to practice the piano, to read a book, and to write. Now I’m back in Charlestown, working on recovery from “nervous breakdown” or “vital exhaustion” or being just plain done-in.

Blogging, especially as part of the stitching community, was a source of great pleasure for me. A few months ago I discovered I could create needleart again and so I’m designing and stitching –intermittently, but continuing. I’m practicing the piano–not every day, but when I can. In the past couple of months I’ve been reading books, more than one at a time, and more than one a week. I’m definitely reading again. Now I want to try writing again.

Today I’m just going to post the latest TAST stitch, the beaded linked chain stitch. It is worked in black #5 pearl cotton with Miyuki 6/0 seed beads over a seam on my first block for the CQJP 2014 challenge. I’m hoping that participating in these challenges will get me back, not only into regular stitching, but back into the global stitching community. Do go take a look at what others are doing at the links I’ve provided.

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And I’d love to hear from you!

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to my crazy Cézanne crazy quilt, my project for the 2012 Crazy Quilt Journal Project?

Last August, two weeks before Ernie died, I posted about that homage to Cézanne, having no idea what to do with it. Without success, I tried thinking of a way to finish it, a way to use it. As I was preparing to move back to Charlestown (more about that to come), I even considered trashing it. For over a year it languished in a drawer.

Then, entirely without premeditation, on the last Saturday in July this year, I took it to the quilt shop nearby and bought fabric, still not knowing what I would do with it. Within a few days, in August, a year after I had given up on it, I finished the quilt and found a place for it.

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I used the red fabric I’d bought as backing and border, all in one. The top border is a sleeve holding a dowel rod. The quilt covers my TV screen most of the time and this is what I see from my recliner.

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So, for my project, I am attempting to learn some new techniques. Yesterday I wrote about working on appliqué, and especially on dimensional appliqué. In Elly Sienkiewicz’s book, Papercuts and Plenty (Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique,

I learned about gauging. Gauging is a patterned gathering that reduces a piece of fabric to a smaller size. It is used to create texture. In this picture of a Baltimore album quilt block shown in Elly’s book, you can see a pineapple shaped by gauging.

I decided to try it with a piece of muslin. After creating a freezer paper template in the shape of the pineapple, you cut out a much larger pineapple shape from the fabric and draw on it a grid, like this:

Then you running stitch the lines of the grid and pull the ends of the threads to gather the fabric until it is the size of the template, like this:

After ironing the seam allowance to the freezer paper template, you’re ready to appliqué the pineapple to the block.

Well, here’s what my first attempt at gauging looks like: I have pulled the ends of the threads to gather the muslin.

Talk about fiddly work! I spent hours on this enterprise. After doing the best I could to get something like the patterned gathers of the pictured pineapple shaped over the template, this is the result.

Doesn’t look much like a pineapple, does it? I haven’t even bothered to iron it to the template. Obviously, this technique is going to take a lot more practice.

During the past three weeks, my husband has had a series of seizures that have rendered him dependent upon a full-time aide and a wheelchair. He can no longer talk on the phone with me.

All this–stitching and blogging, is therapy. Maybe that’s all it is. Gotta get back to work.

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Fortunately or unfortunately, I require orderliness. I need a place for everything and everything in its place. Without organization in my space and without structure and routine in my daily life, I neither feel well nor function well. Since arriving on Vashon two months ago, I have been obsessed with working to achieve both. I’ve made significant progress.

Last week the seven bookcases I ordered were delivered. They arrived in boxes weighing 50 lbs each. Despite the illustration on the boxes showing that they should be handled by two people, my gracious and strong landlord carried them all up the stairs to my apartment, leaving them on the deck. I moved them into the apartment. Here’s the last box standing on the deck.

Immediately I set to work assembling them, even though the instructions showed that two people were required. Here’s the best shot I could  get of myself at work.

The bookcases were delivered Monday morning. By Friday night I had all seven of them assembled–by myself. On Saturday I spent most of the day placing and loading them. Here’s the result.

Son Geoff and I had hung the art the  previous week. There will be further re-arranging, no doubt; but having my books and art where I want them makes a huge difference. Here’s how my space looks now.

That big TV screen is obtrusive. I’m working with the owners’ furniture, you may remember and that’s pretty much where the TV has to be at present.

Here’s my office space.

I’m going to live with this arrangement until I know how I want to live. Will I be having guests? Do I want to be able to seat people around a table? Will I return to doing needlework design and execution? Will I need a design board? a work table? more storage for materials? In other words, will I want a work space? Will I want space for socializing? What about my clothes, which are hanging in the closet on the deck? At present, I have some hanging in the bathroom! Will I want to create closet space inside the apartment? What about lighting?

Wait and see.

Meanwhile, back to the point of this post about organization. Since I’ve gotten this far with making a home for myself in the barn, I have finished the needlebook project. You may remember that I made myself a traveling kit for my first visit to Vashon last July. Until a week or so ago, I had not been able to work on it. ADHD and too much to deal with. But you may also remember that I do not have UFOs. I always intended to finish this project. Now it’s done, and here’s what it looks like; the front first, then the inside, and the back.

Embroidery and crewel needles, and beading needles on the left.

Tapestry needles.

Even my scissors and needle threader.

And the back.

I’m pleased. It’s a simple design, simple color scheme, all worked in #5 cotton pearl. Mainly, I’m pleased that I was able to finish it.

Maybe now I can get back to making things. But first, my next project is going to be properly mounting my grandmother’s crewel work.

I’m not fully recovered yet, but the signs are good: I’ve read several books! I’ve written a book review! And I’ve stitched!

That’s why it’s important for me to be organized–so I can be productive. As you see, I’m blogging!

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