Thursday, December 11, 2008

In the Spirit

Two Christmases ago we had a real tree. We had decided that when Lowe's put their trees on sale after the holiday we were going to get an artificial. Well, we went to Indiana for the holidays that year and when we came home we found baby praying mantis' all over the living room, so that solidified the artificial tree purchase. Last year, we put it up where we normally put the tree and it was too big. It was like the scene out of Christmas Vacation, "Really full, a little sap." Anyway, I thought it could use some more ornaments and after hitting a speed bump with the blue stump doll I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been trying to make some cross stitched ornaments. These are two I've finished. There are two more whose designs are done and need to be sewn to background fabric, and I'm working on another.

They both come from Just Cross Stitch Ornament magazines of different years. I also got together with some girlfriends to knit a purse that will be felted. I will have the bottom finished for Saturday so DeLane can help me with the next step. If I get on a roll I can finish it next week. This has helped keep me focused on the holiday while dealing with Jason's job situation. They have laid off all but 36 people. We are waiting to hear if there will be a merger or they will close.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Princess!

Sunday was Natalie's fourth birthday. It is hard to believe she is growing so fast. For the last several months she has been asking for toys and what-not that she sees, and we've been telling her that she needs to ask for it for her birthday or Christmas. Somewhere along the line I invented the "Birthday Fairy" as the bringer of presents. Well, she woke up Sunday morning and came into our room with a sad look on her face. She said "I don't think the Birthday Fairy came." I asked her why and she said she just didn't think she came. Well, we retrieved the hidden "treasures" and then she kept asking when all the people were coming.

Mom and dad came for lunch because she had to work later. So we had cake once with them and then...
some friends came over for birthday dinner and more cake. Hannah Montana of course!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kite Flying, a Tolerant Cat and a WIP

This weekend was perfect weather for kite flying. We saw the neighbors out when we came home from running some errands and even though it was quite chilly, Natalie wanted to go outside and ride her bike. Daddy came in and got the kite and she was in heaven. I wish you could hear her laughing. It was so joyful!

I haven't posted for a while because I was hoping to show this doll completed. Well, I was doing really well until I started working on her fingers. On the first set, I used a new (to me)technique where you reinforce the seams with glue. Well, I used too much and couldn't get them turned. So, I tried again and this time I blew out a finger, really bad. Frustrated and angry, I needed to walk away. She will probably sit until after Turkey Day.

I haven't posted a cat photo lately. Here is my sweet fuzzy boy with two of Natalie necklaces on. He puts up with so much.
This weekend is Natalie's birthday. It is hard for me to believe that she is four already.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wrapping Up Halloween

So, I know this post is tardy but allow me to explain. I wanted to show a photo of Natalie and Emily in their costumes before we went out. (Every year we go to the home of friends who live in a cul-de-sac of young families and have a short walk with lots of candy.) Anyway, I didn't bring the case for my camera, just the camera. And guess who showed up, Murphy. I swear Murphy follows me and shows up at the most annoying moments. Of course, my batteries were dead. So, Patti took a photo and I was hoping she would send it over the weekend but she must of gotten busy. At any rate, here is Natalie with her haul. She looks quite pleased with herself, doesn't she? They had a lot of fun. She kept telling me that Halloween was her favorite holiday. I had a nice walk.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Party at School

Yesterday was Natalie's Halloween party at school. She was of course a princess (like she would be anything else).
Once she caught sight of us, she wouldn't leave our side. She almost knocked Jason over. They were all very cute in their costumes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gift Bag Challenge

Last night at the Lake Norman Quilters meeting, we unveiled our challege pieces. This is mine and it is of a wysteria vine. The rules were you picked a gift bag out of a trash bag and you had to use the colors in the bag but not necessarily the photo. We got the idea on a trip to the AQS show at Nashville last summer. It had to be no smaller then 8 1/2 x 11 and no larger then 36 x 36. We had roughly nine months to complete them.

This is my bag.

A close up of my piece. I used fusible applique and thread painting.

The photo of my own wysteria that I used to make the piece.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Memories of Jane

I participated in the EPU II Cultures in Cloth Challenge on the Quilt Art list and this is my completed piece. I decided to focus on the culture of women in a family and dedicate it to my grandmother. Being a cultural "mutt" of sorts, my family did not cling strongly to one particularly aspect of our geneological background (German, French, and Irish are the ones I know of). But being from Berks County, PA, where there is a strong Pennsylvania Dutch (or German) Heritage, and very close to Amish country, some of our traditions, especially food, reflected both of those cultures. The distelfink birds represent this as they are symbols of luck and good fortune and often seen in Hex Signs on barns in the area. The wording in the middle says "There is a thread that connects us all. Mother to Daughter. Generation to Generation. Woman to Woman."

The Pagoda is a symbol in Reading, PA, my hometown.

The photos are each of four generations, one when my mother was a child and the other with my daughter as an infant.

The jewelry piece in the right hand corner is one of my grandmother Jane's earrings. When she passed away there was an extensive collection of jewelry and a lot of clip earrings. I thought this piece would add a personal touch to the piece.

The connection I have to my mother and grandmother is the strongest and I believe that the culture of the women in a family helps to shape each new generation and is the best vehicle for passing down tradition.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nunofelt Scarf

Yesterday, my friends Susan, DeLane and I headed to Winston to take a Nunofelt class with Vicki Clontz of Annie's Keepsakes. It was a labor intensive process but we had a great time. The first photo shows me applying Merino wool to my silk scarf.

Here is an in-process photo.
Here I am rolling my scarf. We did this probably 2200 times.
This is my finished scarf still wet.And a close-up of it drying in the driveway.

Vicki was to teach this class to the Lake Norman Quilters in August but it didn't happen. I was actually in the process of teaching myself this technique when Vicki made the offer and I'm very happy she did. We got to see what it should look like when it's finished and when it's not (very important). I will definitely be doing this again. Thanks Vicki for a great class!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yes, I'm Alive

I saw some girlfriends on Monday for a "grown up playdate" and I was immediately asked where I've been. Well, last week we traveled to PA for a visit with the family and a wedding. And the week before that I was sick. So my productive juices have been seriously curtailed. Throw in a busy week with the Charlotte Guild and an unfinished Fast Friday Fabric Challenge and that's where I've been.
Now for the splaining, the mosaic photo. I was visiting some of my favorite blogs and Stephanie on Novablossoms had a the mosaic and how she made hers. I had wanted to do this when I was working on the Studio Journals class and didn't so I thought today was as good a day as any.
And be sure to visit the Fast Friday Fabric blog. I joined this group (as did my friend, Judy Whitehead) and I'm really enjoying it. The rules are the fourth Friday of the month, a challenge is issued and we have a week to complete the piece. Due to my guild responsibilites and then leaving, I didn't finish mine yet but I did get the top done.
That's about it for now. Trying to get back in the mode. Traveling, especially by car, always wipes me out, plus her highness isn't sleeping well (shocker). No dancing pictures of Natalie because she doesn't cooperate. Imagine that! Hopefully, some wedding pictures soon. She didn't cooperate there either so I didn't get many of my own pictures. And a photo of what I made at my playdate.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Little Bit of Fall

This is my favorite time of year! Everything is still green and the afternoons are warm, but gone are the sticky, HOT days of summer.

So, I was inspired. I saw these foundation pieced leaves in a magazine (which one escapes me at the moment) and copied them in a variety of sizes. I then made the corresponding areas to make it all fit.

We've had some excitement here in the last few weeks. Jason finally left Chip Ganassi Racing after 5 years and a lot of turmoil. In June, they laid off 70+ and we decided he needed to seriously look elsewhere. Once his driver made the announcement that he was leaving, Jason knew he needed to get out while he had an offer. So, this past week was his first at Petty Enterprises. In addition to the team change, he will no longer be on the road so for the first time in the 8 1/2 years that we've been together, we will both be home. A REAL LIFE! His being around is still a novelty to Natalie but hopefully that will wear off. He still goes on Sunday to change tires and now we root for Bobby Labonte. He is also working with his brother, which is proving to be entertaining.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Doll Finished

Here she is finished. I still don't know what to name her so suggestions are appreciated. Her pashmina was originally going to be a jacket but the paisley was overpowering. It is lined with the same velvet as her top and there is a pipe cleaner in it so it stays on her. Notice the bead fringe on her sleeves.
Feet and shoes are definitely something I need to work on. Her feet are ugly, no toes, and the shoes posed a problem for me. Nothing I can't handle.
The pattern on her dress is taken from the paisley on the pashmina fabric. I only did the front because eventually she is going to sit. I bought what I needed to make her a chair but long story short, don't go quickly into Michael's with Natalie. It's never quick. So I didn't get what I needed but I have it now and it will be made soon.
Here she is standing.

I saw a bracelet with inspirational words on it in a catalog but I couldn't justify several hundred dollars for an artisan quality bracelet. I saw these beads at Michael's and figured I could make my own.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Do One Thing Every Day

I found this chart during a trip in Indiana. It was an obscure needlework shop found by accident while heading to a hobby shop. (Obviously this was a trip where either I went and was bored, or stayed behind, alone, and bored.) I ran in, while a car full of men and Natalie waited. I found this in the bargain bin and aside from the whimsical cat, I was drawn to the statement, "Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy." I put it in the "do real soon" bin and set about finding the specialty threads. The whole time I worked on this it made me smile and reminded me of what I'm really all about. I am a creative person. I am an artist. I need art to survive or I am miserable. Literally. If life gets in the way and I can't work on something, I am miserable, even venturing into the witch (with a b) arena.

In my former life I was creative through writing, not because I didn't like art but because I didn't think I was very good at. So, I became a spin doctor if you will. Someone who made the mundane sound exciting, someone who took the bad and made it sound quite refreshing, someone who took a person of questionable character and made him sound like a lovable, ever-so-lucky, down-to-earth everyone will love him kind of guy. I also wrote poetry, still do actually, but not in the same proliferation. It filled a hole in me that I didn't know was there. Until I found quilting.

Now, this little piece is something I can see everyday and remind me of what I am and want to be. I have morphed so to speak in the last few months. I'm venturing out and doing things I'm afraid of and even thinking long term. I feel empowered because every day I do one thing that makes me happy.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Doll

I've finally got caught up on my guild responsibilities and have had a little fun (with rust). But I wanted to show a work in progress. She is my next doll. She hasn't told me her name yet.

She is the from Patti Culea's first book, Creative Cloth Doll Making (as was my first doll -- see May 25, 2008 entry). I only showed her head, as to not ruin the surprise. She needs a little more makeup and I have to finish her hair. The next two photos are of her skirt. The beadwork and ribbon embroidery mimic the design on the fabric I'm using for her pashmina. It was originally going to be a jacket but I'm so proud of her outfit that I hate to cover it up. I'm hoping to have her finished for my next doll club meeting on Sept. 11, so stay tuned for the unveiling.


Rust Dyeing

Several artists on the Quiltart list and my friend Susan have done rust dyeing with some really great results. So I asked Jason to find me rusty things in the garage. He graciously accepted this task without asking too many questions. With the first piece, I wrapped the vinegar soaked fabric around very large washers and placed it in a plastic bag.
The second piece I shoved in a large jar and put smaller objects in it. I pushed the fabric and rusty items around with a spoon handle and sealed the jar. I let them both sit for about 24 hours.
I was very happy with my results and wanted to see what would happen if I overdyed. Now not wanting to mix up Procion I used some diluted Jacquard Dye-na-flow on the pink one (this, of course, is Natalie's favorite because it is pink).
The second one I used diluted Tsukineiko ink and it's a little more subtle. Since this one had more prominent rusted images I wasn't really concerned about the color.

I haven't decided what I'm doing with them yet but it should a lot of fun deciding.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Cuddle Quilt, Natalie and Butterflies

I'm in finish mode right now. This is a Cuddle Quilt for Charlotte Guild that I can't remember when I started, I loaded it on the longarm in the spring, Mom got tired of looking at it and quilted it for me, I bought the binding fabric a while ago and I finally got around to finishing it. It's terrible what happens when you are less then enthused about a project. That happened with some other guild items that I'm also finishing. Anyway, I'm also working on a doll. She's coming along quite nicely. I keep a list of UFO's (unfinished objects) and when it makes me cringe is when I guess I get to finishing.

I can't believe the summer is coming to an end but I am ready for school to start again. Natalie has grown so much and is 3 going on 13. She really enjoyed the pool and playing outside. She is excited about school though. Her teacher made a home visit and it's all she could talk about.

And I've gotten some really great photos in the garden. It is amazing what Mother nature has brought us this summer.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

First (completed) Art Quilt

First let me say that the idea for this piece struck me in the spring. I sketched and wrote details in a journal (before I took the online class) and when I found the right background fabric in May I started it. I used Shiva paintstick to rub a circular design on the background. I then hand appliqued the circles. The project then came to a stand still. I didn't know where to go next. I had bought the dragonfly button for this but could not decide if I wanted to use it or not.
Well, I did. But then it was a while until I finished it because there was just something I wasn't happy with. The three embellished circles were not in the original sketch and that may be what threw me off. I'd appreciate any comments and/or criticism.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bead Embroidered Cuff Bracelet

This is a close-up shot of the bracelet. I enrolled in an on-line class on Joggles to make this bracelet. Now unlike the Studio Journals class, this one was more follow the directions provided (which were very good) and make the bracelet without any teacher interaction. I've really been enjoying beading. I've used it to accent, as well as to stand on it's own.
Now, I did mess up the measurements but it all worked out okay. It is supposed to close with snaps but like I said, I messed up, so hook-n-eye it is. It is also supposed to be beaded all the way around. Chalk it up to impatience but also, I know how I am and I didn't want to take the risk of what would happen to the beads on the bottom. I only had one casualty while finishing it and glue-willing, it will hold.
Now I know I talk about my cats too much, but Harley really is a good sport. I was trying to tempt the fat two-some into some sort of activity but Natalie thought it looked better as a scarf. I swear she is going to try to dress him one of these days and depending on his mood he just might let her.