Sunday, July 16, 2017

SAL in July

Needles have been flying here since the last Stitch Along check in. There's nothing like new materials to inspire new work! The hand dyed floss from The Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe has been a joy to work with in my embroidery and needlepoint projects.

If you haven't visited since the last SAL you probably didn't see the friendship block I did in embroidery instead of applique, partly because I don't do applique but also because it was a good excuse to play with the new floss! For those who have been here to see that block take shape you'll note I added flower tips to the roof of the caravan. I think they fill in that gap nicely.

I've also completed the little needlepoint case you saw in my last SAL post. The focal "patches" are a commercially available floss (but not DMC). The background is done in one of Nancy's hand dyed flosses. It has a subtle variegation to it that reflects the more obvious variegation of the brighter colors.

I'm really pleased with the way this turned out. I was concerned there would be too much background relative to the triangles. The variegation in the purple floss creates just enough interest to keep that from being an issue I think. And now I need a new project...

That caravan/travel trailer block was so much fun to stitch that I was sad to have it come to an end. Several ideas for variations on the theme come to me while I was working on it too. In a bit of serendipity look what showed up in my mailbox in the last few days:

I'd forgotten that I'd signed up for The Sketchbook Project for 2018. I don't paint or draw but I'm always looking for a way to introduce folks to the idea of needle and thread as a way to express themselves. Mash these two things together and my new project for the SAL has come into being!

The Sketchbook Project's blank pages are 5" x 7" and have to remain that size. The original caravan block was a bit too big but it was a fairly simple matter to shrink it down some. I wanted to find some other trailer silhouettes I could use though, especially since I'm reluctant to draw my own. It didn't take long to find this on

Most of them are just the right size to fit into this Sketchbook, which makes me very happy.  I'm planning to stitch on cotton as usual and then sew the embroideries onto the paper pages of the sketchbook. The books aren't supposed to be any thicker than an inch when filled so I probably won't use all of the pages. Nevertheless, this ought to keep me occupied for a while. :- )

There are many other wonderful things being created with needle and thread in this group. To take the tour, click on!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Scrap Happy Day and RSC Twofer

Not exactly a once-in-a-blue-moon event but occasionally Scrap Happy Day hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden falls on the same day as a Rainbow Scrap Challenge link party. So you'll get to see more scraps than ever if you choose to follow all the links. :- ) I actually have some blocks that fall into both categories to share. That's also become something of a rarity! 

The color prompt for July for the RSC is blue. That worked out well for me as I was just finishing up my patriotic Welcome Blanket Project quilt. So my first blocks are in darker blues and patriotic prints.

As it turns out, I have lots of blue scraps. They are about evenly divided between these darker hues and lighter, brighter blues.

Hmm, I seem to have photographed the some of the blocks twice!

So far there are only the two 16 patch blocks. I bet there are enough patches sitting on my sewing table for at least two more. And of course there's more fabric that could be cut into patches. ;- ) I don't have specific goals or plans for any of these blocks yet, I'm just making them and adding them to my Parts Department for the time being.

The stars will finish at 8," the other blocks will be 6" finished.

I've even made up a couple of blocks out of batik scraps.

These are all 6" blocks.

Those that have no blue in them I'm counting as my Scrap Happy Day effort for this month. I've been making Scrappy Trip blocks each month up 'til now but just wasn't in the mood this time around. 

You can check in with the RSC every Saturday. Scrap Happy Day is the 15th of each month. You're welcome to join us if you're not already playing along. :- ) 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Ready to Roll

My little travel trailer is all fitted out and ready to go to her new home. :- )

I felt I needed something to justify the yellow trim around the door. That's why the huge flowers were "painted" on the roof. Now that I see it from this distance I may put a third blossom between the other two.

My idea for French knot bobbles on one or the other of the window treatments didn't work out. Instead we have chain stitched shades in the long window...

I still have to acquire the skill for getting good clear detail shots.

And then a tiny vase or Mason jar for flowers on a table top in the other window.

The vase/jar is all of 1/4" tall.
It shows up better in person, trust me. I used as many of the hand dyed flosses as I could, including that little vase. It's actually a subtly variegated pink-yellow color. So delicate and pretty!

I don't know if  I will jump right into another caravan embroidery. I've set up a new needlepoint project that will use more of this lovely floss. You probably won't be seeing it here until after the recipient has received the end product however. At the rate I'm going you won't have to wait long! I seem to be in needlework mode instead of quilt making or piecing. Summer's heat may be partly responsible. This sort of work doesn't involve having the iron on until the very end. :- )

I hope you will forgive my shameless promotion of the floss from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. Nancy is celebrating Christmas in July with a new give-away almost every day so far. The more I spread the word, the better my chances are of having my name drawn for one of them!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Not Going Anywhere...

But I'm building a travel trailer for imaginary trips!

One of the ladies in our local quilt guild handed out a pattern for an applique block. I don't do applique - it's just not fun or satisfying enough for me. I could have passed on making the block but it occurred to me I might be able to render it in embroidery.

Keep in mind that I'm still fairly new and inexperienced at transferring designs for embroidery. I simply taped this pattern and my fabric to a window and traced it off with a lead pencil. Then I layered it with a piece of muslin and started stitching. I didn't plan much of anything out beforehand. I just wanted to see what would happen.

I took the opportunity to use some of the new floss I've purchased from Nancy at Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. I'm also experimenting with embroidery stitches.

I couldn't quite figure out how to manage the whole wheel so I just dropped the side panel of the trailer over the tire. Hope they never have to change it! It was fun to do the woven stitches for the hubcap. The tire itself is two passes of herringbone stitches.

The vertical stripes were created by stacking two passes of blanket stitches.

My original thought was to decorate the exterior of this caravan as if it had been painted by hippies in the 1960's. It's looking just a bit more traditional now. I might still try to do something wild on the upper section. ;- )  I'm accustomed to fussy-cutting images for details when I make quilt blocks. The windows have me a bit stymied at the moment for that reason. What I'd really like to do is use French knots to create bobble fringe on at least one set of curtains. Just have to decide what type of curtains to put in my trailer!

Of course, the further along I get with this the more ideas I have for variations of the pattern. If you know me well you won't be surprised to learn that I'm thinking that door could easily be shaped like the top of a coffin. It might be fun to embroider this in a light monochromatic scheme on a dark fabric... :D

Saturday, July 1, 2017

End of Yellow, Beginning of Blue

Since this is the first day of July it's also the first day for the new color in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. It just so happens that the color for July is blue. The quilt I made for the Welcome Blanket Project was made almost entirely from scraps and is predominantly blue so I'm sharing it one more time. :- )

If you'd like to see how this quilt came to be you can read about it here and here.

I made a few more yellow blocks before the end of June too:

Now it's time to put the remaining yellow patches away and get out the blue ones! If you'd like to see what others are doing with their rainbow scraps you can click over to Angela's blog for the link party. In the meantime, I hope all my friends in the USA have a safe and happy Independence Day celebration!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Welcome Blanket Project Part Two

This is one of those projects that's just about making itself! When last you saw it (a week ago!) I was auditioning 4" hourglass blocks for a border.

I debated about making some kind of cornerstone blocks but ended up sewing the hourglasses together and then adding a one inch strip (finished) to either side. That made that border 6" wide, an easier size for me to work with in terms of cornerstones. In fact, I found three blocks in my Parts Dept. that fit the theme and color scheme so I only had to make one additional Shoo-fly!

At that stage the quilt would have finished 40" square. I was determined to make a 60 x 60" quilt though, so even an adult would find it useful. Given the rather short deadline for this project (and my basic impatience) I was reluctant to make a (relative) ton of new blocks to build the next border. I was delighted to find a stripe print in my stash of older fabric that would give me 5.5" x 24" four times with very little effort. I made some little freestyle log cabins and filled in the gaps with compensating strips.

Once those bits were assembled I needed 7.5" cornerstone blocks to complete the round. Friendship stars seemed like the perfect choice. Then I went around the whole thing with a band of the navy blue and gold print. Ta daa, 60" square!

There was another piece of yardage from back in the day I'd never been able to put to good use. It made a great start for the back of this quilt. :- )

James got it quilted up for me in just a couple of hours. He created a meander with the occasional star thrown in for interest.

Now I'm going to bind it with what's left of the navy blue and gold print and maybe have it ready to ship by the Fourth of July! It won't go out on that day of course, but it will be fun to have it done by then. Woohoo!

The Welcome Blanket Project was initiated by folks who play with yarn and sticks but quilters are welcome to participate. They're only asking for 40" square blankets and there's still time to make a contribution if you're so inclined. :- )

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Second June SAL

There have been several bouts of needlework here in The Magpie's Nest since the last stitch along check in. As the heat increases in this part of the country there may be more needlework than piecing. I use the iron constantly while I'm sewing, and without air conditioning the studio gets uncomfortably warm in a hurry!

Since last time I've finished this credit card size needlepoint case:

This is the second one in this particular design I've stitched.

I finally figured out what to do with the case I ordered without any design stamped on it too. I won't go into details about all the options I considered. It was Nancy's hand dyed floss that helped me move forward.

I borrowed from my quilting experience to create a simple, graphic design I could count out without too much trouble. I didn't want to have to make a bunch of color decisions either so I pulled out a variegated thread I'd picked up on sale here in town and used it for my flying geese and pinwheel. The colors in that floss made the background color choice easier. I went with this deep purple for excellent contrast. All the brain work is done now; I can pick this up and stitch mindlessly whenever I need to!

I've also made progress on my Virgin of Guadalupe. She'd been outlined the last time you saw her. I filled in her robe a bit with some split stitches and decorated most of her dress with upright cross stitches.

I had plans for the hem of her dress but they didn't materialize the quite the way I originally envisioned. There's still some room to fill in too. I'm thinking leaves.

I tried out circular buttonhole stitches for the clouds (or whatever they're meant to be) at the Virgin's feet. Some turned out better than others, which I suppose is to be expected. I'd never done that stitch this way before. She is meant to be a practice piece after all. ;- )

I think that about covers it. There's a lot of impressive work being done by the participants in this SAL. We live all around the world too. So why not take a world tour to see what everyone else is working on?!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Welcome Blanket Project

When I visited Claire over at knitNkwilt I learned she is using her Footsquare Freestyle blocks to make a quilt for the Welcome Blanket Project. Reading more about the Project inspired me to get out some patriotic prints and panels from back in the beginning of my quilt making career to see what I could come up with for the Project. I found a pillow panel that I fussy cut to begin a small medallion quilt. There were other images on the piece of yardage too, so I fussy cut four to use as cornerstones.

The next thing I did was to create a piano key border, semi-freestyle. I stacked several prints on top of each other and then debated whether to cut them to specific widths or even to use angled cuts. I opted for straight cuts but of random widths. Once the cuts were made I shuffled the stacks of prints, moving one or two or three, etc. strips from each stack to get a random distribution of prints.

The piano key border was trimmed to 3.5" to accommodate the corner blocks. That only added a total of six inches to the starter panel of 15," for a total of 21" square. I wanted to add dimension quickly with the next round so I chose to use a whole cloth border. I cut it to bring the quilt top up to an easier size to add to in the next round too: 28" x 28."

I'd hoped that print would be a place for the eye to rest but it looks much busier than I expected. At this point I was suffering from repeated visits to the vet clinic (Miss Luna is finally showing signs of improvement as I write this, thank goodness) so I wanted something easy to sew. Using the same prints as in the piano key border (for the most part) I made a bunch of 4" (finished) hourglass blocks/units.

Sorry this picture is so fuzzy but it's all I've got to show you that I tried out the hourglasses in their various orientations. I knew immediately that I didn't want to create the impression of a fence by laying them with their dark parts touching so I tried this out first:

Even in focus it didn't float my boat. When I turned every other one I knew I'd found the solution.

I've tweaked the placement of specific hourglasses and sewn them into border strips since this picture was taken. I think I'm going to be adding a one inch blue strip to the interior side of each hourglass border sand then a red strip on the outside edges. I'll have to fill in the resultant 6" corner squares with something... maybe Friendship stars. If I've done the math correctly this should bring the top up to 40" square. I doubt I'll stop there, even though that's all the Welcome Blanket Project is asking for. This would be appropriate for a child (a small child) but an adult wouldn't find it very useful in my opinion. Unless they just used it for decoration. We'll just have to see where the spirit takes me!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Scrap Happy in June and a Splurge

Suddenly it's the middle of June! Time for a Scrap Happy post in conjunction with Kate at Tall Tales from Chiconia and Gun over at Rutigt. The idea is to use only old fabrics, scraps if you've got 'em. I've been making Scrappy Trip blocks out of my older prints and the tail ends of fabric from recent projects. I have enough blocks to put together another comfort quilt top (60" x 75") but I'm not ready for that kind of effort. The more blocks I make the greater the variety of prints across the final quilt top(s)!

Last month I only made three blocks, and felt they were pretty muddy. This month I made an effort to introduce some lighter, brighter colors and I was able to make six blocks. I use 3" strips to create blocks that will finish at 15" each.

To see what others are making out of their scraps click on over to Kate or Gun's blogs where you'll find a list of participants.

And now for the splurge...

You may be aware that I've recently started following the Victorian Sampler Motto Shoppe and have been drooling over her hand dyed floss. My birthday is this month. What better excuse to buy myself a present?!

Sleepy Hollow II collection

Not just one, but two!!

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers collection
There are 12 skeins in each collection, and 20 yards in each skein. My original hesitation in making these purchases was the belief that I would never use that much of any one color given the limited amount of embroidery I do. But better to have too much than too little, right? ;- ) I was not mistaken in thinking these colors would be luscious in person. Somehow the floss feels softer than the skeins you buy in the  store. Maybe because there's so much of it, maybe because it's been fluffed up a bit in the hand dying process. Whatever; it's gorgeous. Now I have the struggle between just admiring my pretties or finding a way to actually use them!

And in case you've left me a comment recently but have not heard back from me, it's the same old story: I have been incapacitated by toxins. I went out to prune the old rose bush under my studio window without wearing my protective mask, thinking I would be okay. There were enough fumes from my neighbor's laundry products to set me back. Then I had to take Luna to the vet for an emergency visit. Places like that are laden with chemicals my body doesn't have the capacity to handle anymore but I couldn't find anyone else to take her in for me. She will be okay; it seems to be an injury to her right eyelid. Hubby arrived at the vet clinic in time to pay the bill and the vet was kind enough to talk with me outdoors about follow up care for Luna. One reason we use that clinic is their proximity to our house. I made it home safely and ate yet another small bowlful of frozen blueberries. They are the most effective treatment I've found to mitigate the immediate reactions to chemical exposures. Thank goodness for natural remedies. Too bad there's still a recovery period to be endured. Thanks for hanging in there with me. :- )

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Scrapping Along

While I was busy playing with yellow this week someone else decided to make herself more comfortable than her fleece blanket alone allows.

To my shame, I have two tall-ish stacks of prints that have been living on the floor of the studio because there's no room for them on the shelves. I haven't been able to work fast enough or hard enough to clear space for them yet. And then I was blessed to be given this bundle of fat quarters for my participation in Hands 2 Help this year!

They will be fun to use; the colors and prints are happy and whimsical. However, this week my efforts have been focused on my yellow scraps. I've had to pace myself as it appears I've abused my hands and wrists recently, perhaps through the spurt of gardening I did. It was bad enough that I called my osteopath for an appointment. She's booked up (and out of town) until the first week of July. I made the appointment but I'm hoping if I pamper myself I won't need to see her by then. Nevertheless, I made quite a few blocks this week!

It was fun to make a few boats again. If you look closely you'll be able to see that I've thrown in some batik scraps too. I've pretty well decimated my yellow scrap patches at this point. I could easily make more - well, maybe not easily, but I have plenty of yellow that could be cut up. ;- )

I'm linking up with the other rainbow scrappers over at So Scrappy. There's so much scrappy goodness over there!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finishes and Starts - SAL

I have two finishes to share this time around! I've actually been doing quite a bit of needlework since the last Stitch Along post. I completed the little fox coin/card case and bestowed in on my daughter (who loves purple by the way).

Once all the gray canvas was covered the purple didn't look quite so overwhelming. I keep having to learn that lesson over and over again: don't judge a project's success until it's complete. They always go through an awkward or ugly stage in the middle of the process!

I also finished up the Cocker puppies on the dish towel.

That guy off in the corner was the first image I transferred. I didn't know at the time that I would want to include the rest of the litter on the towel. I think I did a pretty good job of tying them all together by carrying the little flowers and spikes of grass all across the width of the towel, if I do say so myself!

I don't think this little fella was completely stitched the last time you saw him.

This one was barely begun. The butterflies were images that didn't come out as dark and were therefore hard for me to see. We've had some lovely sunny days off late, which made it easier to see what was meant to be stitched. I did take some liberties with the decoration of the butterflies however.

I've started another needlepoint case for truly mindless stitching...

And if you are a regular reader you'll know I've been inspired to begin some sampler pieces in an effort to polish up my embroidery skills.  And, frankly, to give me a place to doodle with color and thread. There's been no further progress on the Virgin of Guadalupe since I last showed her...

But I've been playing with stitches I'm less familiar with and using some of the floss leftover from all the needlepoint case kits I've done.

I drew a few concentric circles, tracing around various cups and jar lids, to give me somewhere to lay my first stitches. Obviously not all of my stitches were directed by drawn lines! I believe this is my first-ever attempt at herringbone stitches (in orange). I tried another new stitch inside the turquoise circle but couldn't live with the results. Those are the needle holes you can probably see marring the surface of the muslin. I'll do my best to smooth them out before I try stitching in that area again.

Most of the other participants in this Stitch Along have specific projects they're working on for this Stitch Along. There's some awesome work being done; I encourage you to have a look by clicking on their names below. We'll have another check-in on 25 June.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sunny Saturday

I didn't get many green blocks made per the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in May. I  doubled my output during the last couple of days of the month, but not without a bit of a challenge to begin with!

Once I corrected that mishap I made five more blocks:

That orange shoo-fly block at the bottom is actually on a gray-green background so I'm counting it with the others. ;- )

The focus color for June has been announced as yellow. Yippee! One of my more favorite colors! I've already made seven blocks with yellow, two that include both green and yellow. I was able to make up one more green shoo-fly too.

I'm linking up with the others playing with their rainbow scraps over at So Scrappy. Everyone is doing their own thing; there's lots of inspiration to be had if you're so inclined!