Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not Resolutions, More like Goals



I am not making resolutions... I am making goals.  They all seem to have to do with stitching and wanting to expand my horizons in the art.  Here goes:

1.  This year I will bite the bullet and arrange to teach a class in cq.  Something a little more adventurous than just at my local guild.  The main obstacle is my shyness and how to teach when my tendency is not to speak above a whisper!

2.  The group, Quilting on a Budget, has something going for next year called `Homemade Christmas`.  During discussions on the group we realized that if you made two gifts each month, you would have 24 gifts ready next Christmas.  Not just that you have made something from the heart, but avoiding a good part of the annual Christmas panic!  I am resolving to do this and will post photos of them as I get them done.

3.  This year I will make, or at least make a good start on, an actual crazy quilt - not just single blocks.

4.  This year I will enter at least four competitions with my stitching - that`s one every four months so it sounds not too intimidating!

5.  This year I will write about crazy quilting and stitching and submit it for publication somewhere.  Let`s see.... twice!  So at least two separate things will be submitted for publication.... somewhere.  I don't expect them to be accepted or anything - but just the writing of them will help me clarify my teaching techniques, right?

6.  I will create and give at least one item a month to charity - this will be my service project for the year.  I will post pictures to keep myself honest. lol  Some of the groups I would like to do some work for are Grandmothers for Grandmothers (the purse auction), Aids Angels, The Toy Society, Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, and of course I'll take part in CQI's Making Memories project again this year for Breast Cancer. In addition I'll be doing small things on a local basis like baby quilts and baby sets for the hospital gift shop (profits go to the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary) and knit caps for the newborns at the same hospital as well as placemats for Meals on Wheels.  There are actually a lot of things you can do locally if you look around.  Even the local library is in need of book bags for the local literacy program.

7.  I have decided, because I am a terrible procrastinator, that I will stitch a minimum of 15 minutes per day.  Once I start I am likely to carry on longer, but starting is the difficult part for me.

8.  I will organize and clean out my sewing room so that I can actually work there!  And find things!  I'll work on this one hour a day (minimum) until it is accomplished.

So, has anyone else sat down and thought about what they would like to accomplish this year in the way of goals related to their stitching?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

CQI Christmas Cracker Swap


I posted photos of the Christmas crackers I made previously and now it is time to post about the ones I received.  So, in the order I received them - here goes!

This was the first one I received and it is from Ritva!  I have admired Ritva's exquisite stitching so much, especially the gorgeous seams she does each week for the BAS (Build a Seam) Challenge, so I was thrilled to bits to receive a lovely sample of her work to treasure!


Look at all the wonderful goodies Ritva managed to pack inside this little tube!  I especially cannot wait to use the lovely piece of vintage lace.

This elegant cracker came from Connie.  The fabrics are so beautiful and it had a tiny bee charm holding the cracker closed.  I can't wait to build myself a bullion knot beehive so this little charm can hover above it.

The inside of the cracker from Connie was packed with the greatest goodies - ribbons, lace, silkies, beads, buttons, and the most lucious fabrics!  So many beautiful fabrics!

The third and last cracker to arrive in the mail came from Juli.  I just love the fabrics she used to piece this block!

So many treasures inside of this cracker from Juli!  The contents all matched the Asian theme of the block too!  It will be so much fun to use them all on an Asian themed block or two.  Juli included a multitude of silkies, ribbons, lace, thread, beads, buttons and fabric.  It is all just glorious!

I almost forgot to mention these extra pressies I got that didn't fit in the cracker.  This hat pincushion is beautifully made and will sit by my new stitching spot so that I won't be sucking up needles in the vacuum cleaner anymore, lol!  The string of beads is great too - I love reds and golds.

I appreciate all the generous gifts I have received and would like to say thank you to all these ladies again!  Thank you also to Debbie who ran the CQI Christmas Cracker swap this year and to everyone who participated in it!

Tree of Life - a Gift from Lynn


Isn't this exquisite?  This is a beautiful Tree of Life created and gifted to me by my dear friend and stitching buddy, Lynn in Southern California.  I received this wonderful surprise in the mail and was so patient, waiting for Christmas morning before I opened it.  I was glad I waited because my husband and daughter were both there to share in my delight and excitement.  They "oohed" and "ahhed" with me.
Lynn is so clever to create this and so kind to share it with me.  Thank you Lynn!

A Big Day!


We enjoyed Christmas dinner this year at the home of my son, Sean, and Bobbi and were able to celebrate more than just the holiday!  During a toast my son made, he went to one knee and proposed to Bobbi - happily she accepted and now we are looking forward to a wedding in 2010!  I feel so lucky and I could never ask for a more wonderful woman to have as a daughter-in-law than Bobbi.  We all adore her almost as much as Sean does.



The wedding and engagement rings are a family heirloom from Bobbi's family, worn by both her mother and grandmother.  How special is that?  And for his wedding band, Sean is chosing to use the ring my father always wore.  I am just tickled pink about everything!



I feel like we have been blessed this Christmas in so many ways!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nativity Scenes

I am wishing everyone a Merry little Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am sharing photos here of an event that puts me into the Christmas spirit each year. One of the local churches holds a display of nativity scenes over the first weekend in December each year. These are a few of the two to three hundred shown for you to enjoy!































Thursday, December 24, 2009

Climbing Santa - a little tradition from my house





This is a little tradition we have had at our house for over twenty years and I felt like sharing it with you.  In the photo, you will see a little Hallmark ornament - we call him Climbing Santa.  Since my children were small, we used Climbing Santa to keep track of how close Christmas was.  Each year he started out hung at the bottom of the tree.  Every day or two one of the kids would move him up a couple branches and when he finally reached the top of the tree it meant Christmas had arrived!  Just a bit of silliness really but he remains a special little part of Christmas to us all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My best Christmas present!

I just got my best Christmas present of this year today! lol - no, I haven't opened what's under the tree, but I know this is the best. I send out Christmas cards still even though it has fallen out of fashion and nowadays I include my email as well in the card. Sometimes someone gets back in touch that I have fallen out of touch with and it makes my day. Well, this one made my year! My very best friend in the world, Ann, has just emailed me. I am delirious with joy! Ann and Graham moved away a few years ago now, returning to England after about 30 years here in Canada. Somehow emailing did not work - they kept bouncing one way or another and we could never connect. This time worked!!! I am all teary with joy at the thought of being in touch with them again. So, to the powers that be that make all these little cyber connections possible - thank you! This is my very own little Christmas miracle.

BAS Hiatus

I am going to skip the BAS Challenge for this week - things are just getting a little overwhelming with the before-Christmas rush of last minute things.
Everyone have a very Merry Christmas and all the best of everything in 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And the winner is...!




I wrote down the names of everyone who commented (twice if they followed and three times if they posted too) and with the help of a random number generator...the lucky number was 19! Checking my list the name next to that number is KAREN! Please get in touch with me, Karen, with all your mailing info and I'll get it out in the mail to you tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who entered - it was great fun to hear from friends, old and new, from all over! I was very happy to read the comment from M. Regina in Brazil! My daughter spent 5 months in Brazil as an exchange student in Grade 10 and she loved it! Someday she will go back and I don't know if we will ever get her to come back - she loved everything about Brazil, especially the wonderful, warm people. Now she has decided to study travel and tourism and will hopefully have many opportunities to travel more in her career.
Thank you again and I won't wait so long before having another giveaway - it is too much fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Bit of This and That

Just a bit of this and that today... My-oh-my! I do love my thrift store. If I keep bringing things home though I am going to need a bigger house!
My latest find was three of these button sample cards at $2 each. At the price of buttons now I think it is a bargain. Some of them are quite nice and they are all so nicely colour coordinated!



As requested in one of the recent comments - here is a photo of my nails. Yes - this is my little vanity! All summer I work like a man and all winter I pamper myself with girlie things. What does this lifestyle give me? Man hands with girlie nails! lol

And since I am so totally off topic today I thought I would share a couple pictures of the fur-kids. Duke the bloodhound is very photogenic and is starting to become a real ham! And, as you can see, the new kittens are fitting right in.


Monday, December 14, 2009

BAS - Week 43 - Moss Stitch



The stitch I am suggesting for this week's BAS (Build a Seam) Challenge is the Moss Stitch. I hope you find this stitch as interesting as I do and that you will give it a try. There is a tutorial for the stitch in the next post.

If you are new to my blog and this is the first time you are seeing a reference to BAS, you can read about it here. There is a list of links to all the previous weeks at the right hand side of my blog for easy reference.

Tutorial - Moss Stitch

I learned Moss Stitch from A - Z of Embroidery 2, and thought I would share how I did a seam with this stitch.Begin by making a cross stitch as seen in this photo and the next.
I used a thread called Very Velvet and used a chenille needle to accommodate the thickness of the thread.

After forming the "X" bring your needle up above it, in the middle as shown.
Form a loop with your thread now, taking your needle over the first part of the loop and under the second side. Please refer to the photo below to see what I mean about the placement of the needle.

Using your thumb to hold the loop in place take your needle under the center of the cross stitch from top to bottom. Make sure the loop is under the tip of your needle.
Pull the thread through and it will form a small knot over the center of the "X".
Take your needle down below the center of the "X" as shown and the first stitch is done. Bring the needle up again as close as possible to the top right hand portion of the "X" and you are in position to start the next stitch.

Here is what a whole line of the Moss Stitch looks like. It also looks good scattered inside a shape to provide shading. I hope this is clear enough to understand. As always, if my words fail me, refer to the photos.

Tiger Tape

Susan/CQLily asked the other day why I seemed to use two pieces of tiger tape both above and below my seams and I thought she might not be the only one wondering about the method to my madness. So, I'll explain - I use the tiger tape not only to judge the width of my stitches, but also the height of my seam. I begin by placing a piece of tiger tape both above and below the seam line, matching up the markings on the tape.
I add another piece of tiger tape both above and below the first two, again matching up the marking lines.

I then remove the center two strips, which leaves me with a half inch of space between the two remaining pieces of tape insuring that I have a nice even height all the way across my seam. Since the tiger tape is 1/4 inch high, removing the center pieces leaves me with a space to make a seam 1/2 inch high. This is usually a useful height for my purposes.
If I want a shorter seam height, I will add another piece of tiger tape to each of the pieces left on the block, overlapping it so that I make a space for a shorter seam. As long as I keep the marks on my tape lined up I am able to easily make a seam which is even both in height and width. So, there you have it - the method to my madness!